Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Morning Jog In Kingston - Early Morning (Crazy) Encounters

I woke up at 5:30 am this morning to jog. I actually did it. After putting off jogging for months, I shook off the shackles that tied me to my desk, books, and laptop, and donned appropriate jogging gear. And after that hour, I arrived back home and sat in my room quite proud of myself. I haven't done this in ages, and I'm glad I finally took the time away from reading, marking, writing (and repeat, and repeat) to actually work on physical exercise that could prevent future coronaries.

Yet my morning job was replete with odd encounters. I don't know why this always happens to me. I always encounter the strangest (albeit entertaining) people. Granted, I was out at a pretty strange hour. And granted, I did jog through a notoriously interesting (read: shady) neighbourhood. But I didn't anticipate the giggle-worthy encounters that I came upon this morning.

FIRST, I jogged down Princess Street. Nothing too interesting caught my eye. That is, until a woman wearing nothing but jeans and a bright pink bikini top strolled past me, pushing a stroller. With a dog in it.

At 5:30 am.

And it wasn't even a small, tiny puppy that the stroller carried. The dog was huge. Large enough to qualify as a whole different species, really. Smiling and nodding, Pink Bikini Top walked passed me, mouthing "Good morning" before she continued down Princess Street (Kingston townies are so friendly, right?). And as I jogged away, the following questions ran through my mind: Wasn't she cold? Who wears a bikini top at the end of October? Does the dog not own a leash? What, pray tell, made her put her dog in a baby stroller? Puzzling questions, these.

SECOND, I jogged over to Metro to pick up some extra stir fry sauce. I love Metro. And the fact that it's open 24 hours. As I was leaving, I paused by the entrance to pull on my jacket and gloves. Because unlike Pink Bikini Top, I was actually very cold. Yet a man standing by the entrance caught my eye. He was pacing back and forth in front of Metro's entrance, rehearsing some lines of some sort. Because I'm nosy, I slowed down my jacket-zipping and paused to watch. A woman in a red jacket approached him, coffee mug in hand, a nervous smile plastered on her face.

Woman: Hi... Rick?
Man: Yes, hello! Hi! Wow, it's great to meet you.
Woman: Yes, it's great to meet you too. Should we go inside Metro for a chat?
Man: I have to admit, I'm a little nervous. I've never been on a blind date before.

Um. What? They were on a blind date? At 5:30 am? At Metro? Where did they meet, Lavalife? Curiously, I watched them stroll through the pastry aisle, chatting about their jobs, picking curiously at the cupcakes on sale for $3.99 (They're Halloween themed. With orange frosting. Buy them). I have no idea what possessed them to have a date at 5:30 am. As I walked out, the following questions ran through my mind: Why were they having their first date at Metro? What's there to do at Metro? How did they even meet? Who arranged it? More importantly, why is your first date held at a grocery store? Puzzling questions, these.

THIRD, I jogged down Brock Street, a million thoughts running through my mind. I had to be at the office early this morning, so I decided to run a little faster home so that I could get ready and leave for campus at an earlier time. And yet as I began jogging through Vic Park, a curious sight caught my eye. A group of about 10 people were sprawled on their backs, on top of a huge pile of leaves, giggling as they rolled around on the leaves.

At 5:30 am.

They continued to constantly roll around until they were absolutely covered in leaves. As I jogged by, I caught some of their comments to each other: "Isn't autumn great? It's my favourite season," "This is totally calming me down before the midterm," and "Wouldn't it be great if these leaves were money?"

Oh, Kingston. Nothing can compare to your quirks and oddly endearing (albeit a tad crazy) population. Nonetheless, weird or not, I'm so glad I jogged. That one hour jogging at the crack of dawn gave me more entertainment than I've had in weeks. Mornings like these make me realize how much I'm growing to love Kingston. Back to work!

"If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error."
- John Kenneth Galbraith, Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went

Monday, October 18, 2010

For All Ages - Friendly Reminders For Alcohol Consumption

Please bear with me. I'm about to sound like your mother.

A few weeks ago, just days prior to Homecoming, I sat at the Common Ground with a friend, chatting over a cup of tea. At my mention of Homecoming, however, he paused and started to shake his head. He attended Queen's for his undergraduate degree, and he had more than a few stories to share.

He then told me this story. Two years ago, Homecoming festivities were in full swing here at Queen's. Prior to the obligatory Saturday night party on Aberdeen Street, however, he witnessed something he wished he hadn't. He (and his housemates) had stepped out of their house for a few minutes to grab some milk from the convenience store. When they arrived back to their house, they discovered a young girl passed out on their couch. Confused, they asked each other if any of them knew her. None of them did. They tried to wake her, but she didn't stir. Rummaging through her purse, my friend checked her ID and discovered that the girl was 16 years old, from Toronto, and definitely wasn't a Queen's student. Panicked, the boys called the police and an ambulance also arrived. Apparently, piecing the story together once the girl woke up, they concluded that this girl's friends had dumped her at my friend's house, a random house, before moving on the next party they were attending. She was completely drunk, to the point where she couldn't stand up. Shaking his head, my friend concluded his story by adding, "Her friends dumped her in a strange house where was a bunch of guys lived. It was a good thing they left her at my house, at a safe house with myself and my friends. Imagine what would have happened if it wasn't so safe? What would have happened to her?"

That story seriously disturbed me. Really, she was only 16 years old. I don't know what I'm most disturbed about: a young girl getting absolutely trashed by herself or that her friends dumped her at a random house. Some friends, right?

In addition to that story, I have one of my own: walking down Princess Street a few weeks ago, a friend and I watched in horrified fascination as a girl, most likely in her first or second year, walked alone down Princess Street in drunken stupor, asking us where the closest bus stop to downtown Vancouver was. Friend, you're nowhere near Vancouver. Just letting you know. She then attempted to cross the street at a red light and, thanks to the saving grace of slow elderly driving, was saved from getting hit by an oncoming vehicle.

When we choose to engage with alcohol, we should remember that a sense of responsibility has to be exercised. A sense of responsibility over our well-being, and our safety. Hitting the legal drinking age does not mean we leave our brains at the door. We need to act responsibly, exercising caution for our own benefit. And if we choose (which I hope we do), we should also look out for our friends who choose to drunkenly place themselves in undesirable situations.

Serious engagement with alcohol should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, it often is. I'm not advocating complete abstinence away from alcoholic consumption. Rather, let this blog post serve as a friendly reminder about our own well-being when we choose to go out. Safety matters, friends. And unfortunately, we don't realize how much it does matter until the dangers of a situation actually present itself. Let's all look out for ourselves and for each other, yeah?

/End motherly blog post.

"Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else."
- Ivern Ball

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Saturday Night Off - Discovering Kingston's Live Music Scene

1) To mention a common (yet largely unexcercised) method for sustaining grad student sanity: taking the night off.
2) To discuss my first-ever encounter with Kingston`s live music scene.

I have to admit, I almost didn`t attend the concert I went to last night. After spending the weekend tearing my hair out over an essay due this week, planning another presentation I have on Tuesday, researching two other essays, and nursing a massive headache on Friday night, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a concert. And did I mention that I also have a stack of student essays to mark? Ah, the glamorous life of a TA.

Yet for my sanity, I knew I had to go out last night. I needed a night off. Ferris Bueller, you would be proud. Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, we discovered that Kingston is quite the venue for live music. And while walking through the JDUC one afternoon, I noticed a poster advertising a live concert performed by Broken Social Scene`s Jason Collett at the Grad Club. Was I really going to miss this? The closet indie music junkie in me refused to believe that I would.

Yet in the days leading up to the concert, despite my excitement, my stack of work kept getting larger and larger. To the point where I stared at my weekly planner, realizing that my schedule barely had time allotted for eating. Or breathing. However, let this blog post serve to remind us that, sometimes, we need a night off. And, friends, I am so incredibly glad I let go of work last night to attend this concert. Rather than spending the evening with Karl Polanyi, I (several others from the Politics department, a housemate, and another friend) had the pleasure of witnessing Jason Collett perform live.

How was my first night exposed to Kingston`s live music scene? Friends, I enjoyed last night enough to write a blog post about it. Jason Collett was fabulous. Yet I`m willing to bet that he was probably smoking something special prior to the concert. The man definitely wasn`t sober. Or completely aware of reality, if you know what I`m saying. Nevertheless, it was highly entertaining. The highlight of the evening, however, was our discovery of the unknown-but-oh-so-fantastic Daniel Romano. I`m usually not a fan of the country vibe, but I really really enjoyed him. Enough to pimp him on my blog: go ahead, check him out! His voice melted my ogre`s heart, I`m telling you. He's awesome live.

Lesson learned this weekend? The grad life doesn't necessarily mean we should lose time to relax, to enjoy the city we're currently living in. This is a lesson I know I should periodically remind myself of throughout the year. By exercising effective time management skills, we don't have to lead lifestyles that lead to high blood pressures (I've been there. Too much worrying, I'm telling you). Balancing priorities by both working and relaxing this weekend was probably healthier than spending an entire weekend buried in a pile of books, lamenting the loss of my social life. And I'm glad I did. Taking part in a relaxing evening allowed me to discover Kingston's live music scene - something I'll be visiting even more in the future, I'm sure.

"Time is what we want most, but what we use worst."
- William Penn

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Typical Lawyer - (Confirming) The Usual Stereotypes

I've finally realized why people hate lawyers and, by association, law students. Throughout my university career, I've tirelessly defended law students and lawyers for years, protesting against arguments for the following: a lawyer's lack of ethics, lack of sportsmanship and overall vicious nature (not to mention the stuck-up, elitist attitudes many despise). I've protested against it all. Yet a recent encounter has changed my mind immensely. Although I plan to be a law student one day, I don't think I will be protesting against the typical lawyer stereotype anytime soon. I've recently discovered that these stereotypes exist for a reason. And sometimes, certain law students and lawyers do in fact deserve such reputations.

I've seen the light, friends. In fact, I've been jaded, and I'm not happy about it. But let me backtrack a bit and explain why I've drawn the above conclusions.

With courtesy and respect for confidentiality, I will purposely not mention the specifics of the situation (i.e. the specific SGPS intramural sport I engaged in). Because while these law students' actions angered me, I recognize that their reputations are important to them, and a public blog post such as this could potentially impact and damage future student opportunities. Oh, what a shame that would be.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined an SGPS intramural league, and attended my first game of the year. As a side note, I don't think I've had this much fun with contact sport since elementary school. I'm so glad I joined! However, one aspect of that particular match tainted the evening: our opponents, the Law Students. I have never in my life witnessed such a lack of sportsmanship and respect towards one's opponents. Because this was an intramural game, the match was self-regulated: no referee was in sight. Therefore, the following antics ensued: these law students cheated, yelled out an insane amount of profanity to my team members, and acted in a way that represented their faculty and their profession in the worst way possible. Their game play was, in short, absolutely wretched.

I was particularly insulted when, after missing my target, one female Queen's law student yelled out to me, "Idiot! You have terrible aim! I can throw so much better than you!" These are the people representing our legal system one day, folks. Classy.

Annoyed, I watched as a number of insults were thrown towards my teammates during the course of the game. The following conversation occurred between a teammate and myself:

Me: Why are these law students so rude?
Teammate: What do you expect? They're law students
Me (Shocked): But I'm going to be a law student! And I'm nothing like that!
Teammate (Laughing): Just wait a year. You'll be exactly like that one day too. Lawyers confirm the stereotypes about their profession all the time. Many of them are like that.

Wow. If there was ever a time when my naive, idealistic conceptions of the legal profession came crashing down, this was probably it. Turning to another teammate, I asked if other intramural opponents acted the same way. Shaking their heads, my teammates said that previous matches were incredibly fun and easy-going. This was the first time they encountered such unprofessional behaviour with intramural opponents. Queen's Law did it first, friends. Lovely.

I highly doubt that this display of vile behaviour is representative of every single law student at Queen's. In fact, I'm sure it isn't. I'm sure there are a number of Queen's law students who, in contrast, refute the typical stereotype and choose to take the high road of sportsmanship in any situation - whether they're in an extracurricular setting or not. However, I think this particular batch of law students disappointed me because of what their behaviour represented: a confirmation of stereotypes often associated with a career that I know is very capable of more ethical, acceptable behaviour. A career that I know is capable of more than what was demonstrated on the gym floor that night.

Let this blog post remind us that we should always, without hesitation, act professionally and with courtesy in any situation we find ourselves in, particularly if we're in a setting where we represent our careers or faculties. Our attitude matters more than we know, more than we realize, and vile, unprofessional behaviour will rarely (if ever) be tolerated.

/Rant over.

/Angry blog post over.

"It has always seemed strange to me... the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."
- John Steinbeck

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Home For A Weekend - Lessons Learned

Thanksgiving weekend is officially over. Friends, I hope you all had a fantastic long weekend. I certainly did. It hadn't dawned on me how much I dearly missed my friends, my family, my home, my car (!!!) until I actually came home for the weekend. It was a wonderful time away from Kingston, spent with a number of people I love and missed. And, upon reflection, I don't regret eating those six slices of pumpkin pie and, really, who knows how many slices of turkey and ham. No regrets, friends. Only a satisfied stomach on the verge of explosion.

After a weekend home, I've come up with several observations that will probably be useful for those of us who are away from home for extended periods of time. Or, rather, let`s deem these observations as Lessons Learned, ideas to think about the next time we go home for a weekend. Because really, you never realize how much things have changed until you leave.

When you visit home, don't be surprised when...

LESSON 1) Don't be surprised when you do absolutely no work at home. As I sit here writing this post, I'm staring in bewilderment at the pile of readings I planned to do but didn't. I boarded that Megabus on Friday morning with such expectations of long weekend productivity, lugging my laptop, readings, and books onto the bus with absolute determination. After lugging all my work two hundred kilometres home for the weekend, how much work did I do? None.

LESSON 2) Don't be surprised when you come home, one month after moving to Kingston, and find that everything in your city changed. Everything. These aren`t mere exaggerations, friends. Heading home, I stopped in bewilderment more than a few times, pausing in confusion at blocks of construction inside Eaton Centre, at the new Indigo bookstore and Starbucks standing two blocks away from my house (when did that get there? That definitely wasn`t there when I left), at rows and rows of new houses suddenly built in my neighbourhood (that wasn`t there when I left either!). You get the point. I`ve only been gone for a month. How did all this happen while I was gone? How was all that built while I was gone? Shocking questions, these.

LESSON 3) Don't be surprised when you come home, see your car, and be overcome with pangs of emotion at the sight of your precious vehicle. Dear car, you have no idea how much I missed driving you.

LESSON 4) Don't be surprised when you come home and the kids you teach in Sunday school are suddenly two feet taller compared to when you last saw them. You stare in surprise, shocked at how grown-up they look. It's the Wheaties at work, I'm telling you.

LESSON 5) Don't be surprised when you come home and the most exciting, celebrity-related events happened in Mississauga while you were gone. Apparently, two weeks ago, Mia Michaels was at my church. Yes. Let's re-read that sentence one more time. Two weeks ago, Mia Michaels was at my church. Let me backtrack and explain. One Sunday over the summer, in early July, as I stepped on the stage towards the piano and obliviously played our Sunday morning worship set, I was bombarded by my fellow worship team when we finished, everyone whispering-but-not-really-whispering that Blake McGrath, contestant on Season 1 of So You Think You Can Dance was sitting in the congregation. And as summer went on, every Sunday, as I played the piano, I looked towards the crowd and never failed to spot Blake McGrath, sitting a few aisles away from my parents. Really, it was the closest I`d ever been to a celebrity. Well, friends, as I sat in Kingston two weeks ago, miles away from home, no longer a regular member of Harvest Family Church's worship band, Emmy-award winning choreographer Mia Michaels, a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, came to our 11:00 AM service with Blake McGrath. Seriously. I'm in shock. Why am I in Kingston? Why did I, the biggest So You Think You Can Dance junkie alive, miss this?

LESSON 6) Don't be surprised when you come home and realize how much you missed your dearest friends. And normal activities like spending hours at a local buffet, watching trainwreck chick flicks like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, meeting up for lunch dates at guilty pleasure fast food haunts, shopping at the usual stores, and picking up slushies at your local Petro Canada are more than satisfying. Dear friends, I truly missed you and I`m so glad I was able to see some of you this weekend!

LESSON 7) Don`t be surprised when you`ll stop starving at the mere bite of your mother`s cooking. Because really, even though your month of independence has forced you to learn how to cook some pretty awesome meals, nothing can compare to the taste of a homecooked meal (that isn`t yours).

It was an incredibly awesome weekend. And as I sit here on the last evening of this long weekend, the reality of my busy week ahead is starting to dawn on me. The fabulous long weekend is over. It`s time to get back to work, friends. Back to work, indeed.

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home."
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, October 8, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Readers!

Dear Readers,

This blog post will actually be quite brief. As I write this post at 1:30 am on the Thursday before the Thanksgiving long weekend, I'll admit that my week has been grueling. More than a little stressful and incredibly draining. However, now that it's over, I'm getting quite excited. After spending my evening at the Grad Club's Trivia Night, I'm currently scrambling around, packing for my trip home. My Megabus to Toronto leaves Kingston tomorrow morning, and I'm so incredibly excited to be back downtown for a few days.

I'm thankful that my stressful week is over, I'm thankful that I'm heading to Mississauga for a weekend trip home that's long overdue, I'm thankful that I'll have the opportunity to see the friends I've dearly missed, I'm thankful for a weekend to spend with my family. And most of all, I'm thankful for the incredible month I've had in Kingston so far. I'm also thankful for all the fabulous upcoming events and activities with friends that I'm seriously looking forward to. Who knew Kingston could be so exciting?

I love Thanksgiving. I will forever have a fondness for the season it falls in and the heart-warming sentiments associated with the holiday. I'd like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving long weekend! May you have a memorable, exciting holiday with the ones you love - a weekend to remember for years to come.

"So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart."

- Arthur Guiterman

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Just A Phone Call Away - Appreciating & Updating Our Parents

So apparently, my parents found my blog. Wonderful. I discovered this gem a couple of weeks ago when, chatting with my parents on Skype, I eagerly began to tell them about the Asian grocery store I discovered at the corner of Princess and Barrie. Right in the middle of my story, my Dad waved his hand in dismissal and told me to tell him another story. Bored, he added that he already knew about the Asian Grocery Store. And that clearly, I wouldn't be suffering from a lack of the essentials. Shocked, I asked him how he knew. Apparently, my parents found my blog post on First Impressions of Kingston when Google searching certain spots in the city. I'm shocked. I didn't even know my parents knew what Google was.

And yet I'm actually quite glad my parents found my blog. I've been so incredibly busy lately that I have been guilty of missing parental Skype dates and phone call updates. Friends, I'm guilty. Ever so guilty.

There's a common conception that, once you hit your 20's, you don't "need" your parents anymore. You don't need their help, their advice. You don't need to tell them about your daily routines and activities. While I do realize that we're all grown-up, full-fledged adults with busy lives, I think it's important to remember that our parents may still want to play a role in our lives. We aren't kids anymore, so what role can they play?

While your friends want updates on your life, your parents do too. Often, we're guilty of taking days, even weeks before giving our parents a call to say hello. Friends, I'm guilty of being so wrapped up in my university bubble that I've often failed to update my parents on the goings-on of my life in Kingston. We're busy, we don't necessarily think about calling home. However, we may not think about it, but our parents do often wonder what we're doing, what we're eating, how we're doing, who we're meeting, whether we're thinking about them or not. We're busy with our own priorities, but our parents' will always have us as their priority - whether we live at home or miles away.

Friends, even in the midst of our busy lives, let's not forget our mothers and fathers who cannot wait to see us the next time we decide to come home. Let's update our parents more often, let's call just to say hello. Our parents think of us everyday and perhaps even worry about how we're doing. Appreciating our parents' concerns, knowing that they truly and dearly miss us should remind us to keep in touch with them, despite how busy we may be. Our parents won't be around forever. Let's keep them close to us while they are.

“A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be a friend.”

“The joys of parents are secret, and so are their griefs and fears: they cannot utter the one, nor will they utter the other”
- Francis Bacon, Sr.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dear Housemates - From The Roomie Upstairs, With Love

Dear Housemates,

I haven't blogged about you yet. It's about time I did. Two months ago, when I found housing in Kingston, I wondered who my housemates would be. I didn't know any of you. Obviously, moving in with utter strangers, I did realize that I could be living with potential nutjobs come September. I prepared myself for the worst. Prior to moving in, I read a story online about how a university student moved into a student house and found that one of her housemates had a pet snake. Fantastic.

However, let this blog post serve to let you girls (and boys) know that, in the month that we've all been living together, I've come to appreciate you all very much. And the fact that none of you own a snake.

I appreciate that on nights like tonight, when the weather is lousy and we have no desire to cook, we can all go out for dinner to an obscure, hole-in-the-wall Cambodian restaurant and still enjoy it. As I sit here writing this blog post, I am absolutely, positively stuffed. Due to nerves over my presentation this afternoon, I didn't eat a single thing all day. However, our girly dinner this evening at Cambodonia did the trick. Stuffing ourselves with Cambodian food, known on campus for its rave reviews, I'm glad we discovered the tastiest spring rolls in Kingston together.

I also appreciate that our ice cream cravings occur simultaneously. And the fact that we all require sugar after every meal. I also appreciate it takes each of us 10 minutes sampling every flavour at Baskin Robbins before making that life-or-death decision. Thank goodness, I'm not the only one overly indecisive about meal options.

I appreciate that we watch the same TV shows. There are absolutely no objections to running home from Baskin Robbins, in the pouring rain, just to catch the latest Glee episode. I also appreciate that there aren't any fights over the remote to watch arbitrary shows like The Apprentice. Because really, who watches that nowadays?

I appreciate that one of you called our landlord to have someone check on our heating issues. As a result, we won't be freezing to death tonight.

I appreciate that none of you complain over my alarm clock that rings every morning at 4:30 AM. Thank you for tolerating the crazy housemate who voluntarily wakes up at the crack of dawn.

I appreciate that we have similar music tastes. And while my own music preferences sometimes lean toward the obscure (really, if anyone reading this blog post actually listens to The Morning Benders, you are probably my soulmate), I appreciate that we still have the option of going out together to have a good time. I'll also add my amusement over next Thursday's plans to go out downtown for the sole purpose of finding Glee's Mike Chang look-alike, spotted at The Ale House last Thursday.

I appreciate that you gave me tips on how to play Dodgeball effectively. I owe my newfound athletic prowess to all of you.

I appreciate our excitement over decorating our house for upcoming holidays. And our preliminary plans to purchase Halloween candy that we don't intend to hand out to children. I also appreciate our desire to hunt for a pumpkin patch in Kingston, plans to go Christmas tree hunting in the winter, and plans to spend the holiday season baking cookies. Because holiday cookies make the world go 'round.

Most of all, I appreciate that each of you are great housemates. I couldn't have asked for better. Here's to a great year together!

With Love,

The Roomie Upstairs

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."

- Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Day Of Coffee Shop Hopping - A Kingston Experiment

Gazing forlornly at my never-ending pile of readings this weekend, I sighed and wondered what, pray tell, could I do to make my hours of reading and study time a little more exciting. Nursing a cold and a minor bout with the flu, I wanted to do something more than sitting for hours reading at the same office, on the same chair, at the same desk. Mackintosh-Corry Hall, I love you, I really do. But I do need a change of scenery once in awhile. Preferably one that involves food. And so in a flash of inspiration, I was struck with an idea for a little experiment. To instill some excitement into my study time, I decided to engage in something I'd like to call Coffee Shop Hopping.

A few months ago, I blogged about the many uses of The Coffee Date, briefly mentioning my love for sitting in coffee shops for hours to study or read. Well, friends, this love for reading in coffee shops couldn't have been put to greater use this weekend. What is Coffee Shop Hopping, you ask? Quite literally, I spent most of my afternoon amusing myself by hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop across campus, in sequence, throughout a set period of time, incorporating my study and reading time into the hours I spent at each coffee shop. A cozy little coffee shop is a great place to study, no?

I assure you, I'm not crazy. There was indeed a method to this madness. My two goals behind this little experiment:
1) Get to know Kingston's coffee shop scene. I haven't visited most of Kingston's popular coffee shops, and I also haven't explored Kingston very much. And so this was the perfect conclusion, really. Exploring Kingston and studying at the same time? Exciting.
2) Reading in coffee shops beats sitting in Mack-Corry Hall on a weekend. Enough said?

The Tea Room
10:00 am: I walked down Union Street to The Tea Room, clutching my Political Parties readings, eagerly anticipating my first destination. I knew exactly what I was going to order at The Tea Room: a large Lychee Tea. It tastes as good as it sounds, friends. Friendly tip: A huge, gigantic, enormous mug of tea can be purchased here for a mere $1.98. Heads up: the price for a Large is the same as the price for a Small. Excited, I reached the corner of Union Street and Division, arriving at my destination. The Downside? The Tea Room is closed on Sundays.


Coffee & Company
10:15 am: Unfazed, I left the entrance of The Tea Room, and strolled down Division Street with my next coffee shop target in mind: Coffee & Company at the corner of Division and Johnson. I entered the shop, found myself a cozy table tucked away in the corner, and decided to order a 12oz cup of hot chocolate. Because a cup of hot chocolate is always nice on a chilly morning (and it really was chilly. Summer's over, friends!).

I found nothing special with Coffee & Company. My drink was mediocre, at best. The service was less than mediocre, and the barista hardly cracked a smile. Leaning against the counter, she ignored her customers by checking out her nails. The entire line-up stared at her as we waited to place our orders. Despite lackluster decor and service, I was still able to get some work done. I also witnessed the most hilarious exchange between a Master's student and the blonde he nervously attempted to flirt with, finding the most awkward ways to talk to her. He used gems such as "Can I borrow a pen?," "What time is it?," "You look like someone in my program!," "You have beautiful hair," etc. Oh, how I love coffee shops. Studying and people-watching: my two favourite pastimes.

P.S. I don't think I'm coming back here.

1:00 pm: Completing my Political Parties readings, I tucked the journal articles away in my folder, left Coffee & Company, and crossed the street to my next coffee shop haunt: Starbucks. Let me just say, first of all, that I'm quite indifferent to Starbucks' appeal. Walking into the Starbucks on Division and Johnson, however, I was pleasantly surprised. The building that houses this location is incredibly pretty. And unlike many Starbucks locations I've encountered in Toronto, Division Street's location is quite cozy. Students sat around the room, flipping books, highlighting pages, surfing the Internet. A picturesque campus coffee shop, really. I can't wait to see it during Christmastime!

I did most of my work in Starbucks. Completing all my readings for Comparative Politics of Development, I sighed in satisfaction as I took the last few sips of my overly-complicated-overly-priced London Fog and munched on the last bits of my Banana loaf. Upon completion of my yummy Banana loaf, I packed up my belongings and headed to my next coffee shop target: Common Ground.

P.S. I crave a London Fog all the time. It's an unhealthy habit, really. I found a coffee shop booth in Stauffer Library that whips up a pretty good one.

P.P.S. I liked this Starbucks location so much that it wins among all my coffee shop targets today. Something tells me I'll be studying here quite frequently.

P.P.P.S. 2:45 pm: Walked into Stooley's Cafe on Division & Johnson, decided it was too busy, grabbed a menu, sampled a coffee, and left.

Common Ground in the Athletics & Recreation Centre
3:00 pm: On to my next coffee shop target. I remembered that I needed to get the sticker on my student card for the Athletic Centre's drop-in classes, so I headed over to the ARC. After my errand, I headed to the Common Ground: a cute little campus haunt. Affectionately called the CoGro, it's cheap(er) than Starbucks. And despite drinking a Grande London Fog just an hour before, I ordered yet another one here at the Common Ground (I'm telling you, friends, I'm obsessed with this drink). Downside? It's overrun by undergraduate students. Upside? Their London Fog is amazing.

P.S. It was at this point that I started getting woozy from all the coffee shop beverages I consumed that afternoon. Too much tea and hot chocolate. After sitting down to organize my reading notes, I decided it was time for desserts. On to my next coffee shop target!

Pan Chancho Bakery
4:30 pm: After an afternoon of reading and coffee shop hopping in the area around campus, I walked over to Kingston's "downtown." And by downtown, I really mean our one street with ten stores. My next target, Pan Chancho, is one I've heard a lot about. I've been told that if I wanted to re-live my Paris pastry experience, I needed to visit this bakery and, by association, it's cafe. It didn't disappoint. Friends, I had the yummiest scone I've ever purchased. And biting into its cheesy goodness, I was in a happy place. A very happy place. Going through the last of my readings by flipping through Gary Cox's Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination In The World's Electoral Systems, I sipped my cup of tea and happily munched on a Buttermilk Blueberry Muffin. It doesn't take much to make me happy, really.


Coffee Shop Count: 6
Coffee Shop Drinks Consumed: 6
Coffee Shop Desserts Devoured: 4
Upside? - My study time was highly entertaining, as I hoped it would. It was also very productive. I finished much of my work within the coffee shop environment, and discovered one of my favourite study places on campus.
Downside? - I ate desserts and drank tea or hot chocolate all afternoon. I shamelessly admit that I'm a tad wired as I write this blog post. These experiments of exploration do have its tolls, I suppose. Really, I'm surprised I'm not bouncing off the walls.

What a satisfying Pan Chancho-esque conclusion to a day of coffee-shop hopping. Due to my time constraints (and the fact that I had a lot of work to do), I obviously didn't visit every single coffee shop in Kingston. Rather, I visited the typical coffee haunts I've heard the most about. Overall, I'm glad I explored Kingston's campus coffee shop scene. Oh, Kingston. There's so much more of you that I've yet to explore.

"In the course of my life, I have often had to eat my words, and I must confess that I have always found it a wholesome diet."
- Sir Winston Churchill