Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Last Of The Fringe

And that's a wrap on the Edmonton Fringe! Almost 800 000 people visited this year - in a city of a million - and over 100 000 bought tickets to indoor shows, with over 350 sold out performances. One things is for sure: Edmonton loves theatre. 
What stellar eleven days, filled with sunshine, warm nights, street performers, drag queens, patios, beers, magicians, make-shift venues, laughs with friends, green onion cakes, parades, cabaret, costumes, buskers, and many, many chocolate covered bananas. I fringed to the fullest. This fringe helped me reconnect with my hometown. This festival really does bring a special energy to Old Strathcona, celebrating art and weirdness, and attracting people from all over the English speaking world. This year I saw work from Australians, South Africans, the English, and from literally ALL OVER Canada and the U.S. I am feeling really excited that I am here for another at least. I think the key to happiness is making the best of where you are, even if it's not where you want to be. A lot of the time it's all about attitude. Anyway! Here are some photos from my week: 

Chantal and Nicole, my vintage vixens vamping up the next act patio. 
Nicole looking fly in a two piece she made an hour before meeting me. She's currently working on a 60s inspired collection! 
My 60s outfit. 
Chelsea! Her show got four stars across the board and was also included in Vue Weekly's "pick of the fringe." It was really good! 
A venue where I saw a play. This church is sooo beautiful! 

Missy, Jill and Sarah at Latitude 53. I really liked the exhibition "Hosers in Cuba." I learned that Canadians are the number one tourist group to Cuba, and all over the country you'll find random Canadiana such as sports jerseys and brands popping up all over the place. Havana is actually very high on my life of places to visit. Maybe this reading week I'll make a point to get friends together for a trip over.

I really love these two articles about the Edmonton Fringe; they really encapsulate the festival and what it means for the city. Oh, Edmonton You Beautiful Swirling Mass of Contradictions and Edmonton's Fringe Defines The City

In other commentary, the past two weeks have made me realize just how much I need a change of employment. Which is hard for me to admit, because it's a great place to work and I am not a quitter. I actually love the company I work for, I work with great people, and I have good managers. Working for the man has it's perks, friends. I get paid competitively, I have a pension and benefits, paid sick days, and a flexible schedule. There's nothing wrong with where I work that's made me want to quit. It's actually a surprisingly feminist organization, with great diversity training. I've simply outgrown sales/customer service, and especially when it's not relevant to my passions. My heart is no longer there. I've been feeling this way for a while, and being around the fringe made me realize that I need to live for my work. It's good I am going back to school in my field of interest. I really am going to take advantage of every volunteer opportunity and job opening that comes my way over the next one to two years in this program. Already I am getting advice and emails from my advisor, and it's getting me very excited. 

Tomorrow I have orientation. Feeling both nervous and excited!!! 

Charmaine x 

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Familial Bonding: Regiment Museum

Originally planning to be our of province for the week, my parents and I all had last week off. Aside from taking fringe shows, I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my parents, eating at all our favourite restaurants, taking day trips, and visiting museums I hadn't been to before, or in a long time. Last Thursday I visited the Loyal Edmonton Regiment Museum, a small but informative military museum. We enjoyed a tour from a chatty veteran, and learned a lot about the history of the building and the regiment. The space is gorgeous! Dating from 1910, it was once an amoury, now a museum and home to the Alberta Archives. Definitely a nice way to spend an hour. 
Here's my outfit. Seventies vibes for the win. 
Building details. 
Museum memorabilia. 
Phones recovered after a fire! Look how warped they are. 

I'll keep this short and sweet today. Enjoy what's left of summer while you can! I can't believe I start school again this week. CRAZY.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Fringe and Friends

This week has been glorious! Staycations are great. I am always so quick to escape to other cities whenever I have the chance, but time off in the city at an exciting time of year has revived my spirit. I've slept in, gone out for breakfast every morning with my dad, organized my house/life, and, most notably, I've been thoroughly enjoying the fringe. I've seen at least a show a day, as well as a different set of friends. The anxiety I've been feeling has almost entirely subsided, and slowly been replaced by assuredness and excitement about the next year of life in Edmonton. I know most people feel this way about back-to-school, but September feels like New Years for me. The sense of optimism and excitement for new challenges is infectious. I can't wait for school! My acquaintance Chris had nothing but praises to sing about the program I am taking this fall, saying the instructors are great and that the mix of coursework and hands-on experience provide lots of training and opportunities to "network." Even just being at the Fringe this year has inspired me; these are the types of festivals and events I am excited to help organize and run as a JOB. I think catching up on sleep and being immersed in creativity have got me feeling like "me" again, for the first time in a long while. Maybe since I moved home last year. I think I needed change in general, not just a change in scenery. There are certainly more exciting cities in the world, but for now Edmonton is home and I really am ok with that. Edmonton is a wonderful place to be a student! There is enough going on to keep one satisfied, without feeling like you're missing out. God, if I went to school in Montreal or Toronto I'd never get any work done! 
September will see me start school, move into a new apartment, the start of Edmonton theatre season, the film festival, and my first Muslim wedding! I am debating wearing regular attire or dressing up eastern style. I am working up the nerve to find out the situation of my Faraway Crush. He's so adorable it kills me. We finally spoke! He has a slight lisp, boyish charm, and some festive shirt choices. 

 Anyway, I am pleased with the way these photos turned out! Our days are getting shorter so quickly, (too quickly!), and I caught the lighting at the right time. It's probably a fashion-blog-faux-pas to post items back to back, but this is what I wore yesterday! So up these photos go. Taken with my iphone by a friend in front of Rutherford School, a fringe venue! How odd to pose for other people - haven't done that in a while. The blouse and loafers are secondhand, and the pants by People Tree

Later, gators! I am trying out the new Tres Carnales restaurant Rostizado this evening, and the last Latitude 53 patio of the year... Summer, please don't go. 

C xxx

Sunday, 17 August 2014

August So Far

Hey, pals! Long time no talk. I guess things got busier for me than anticipated. With the last month of summer in full swing, I've been trying my best to take in events and see friends before I am a student again, in a mere ten days! August long weekend was spent at Heritage Days, definitely Edmonton's best summer festival (the foooood), and catching up with my boys Jeremy and Colin, visiting from Vancouver and Calgary, respectively. We tried out Chic-HOG-O's downtown and had our taste buds treated by the charcuterie board, fried cauliflower, and MAPLE BACON ICE CREAM. Last weekend was spent folkin' shit up at Folk Fest in true festival fashion - in rain coats, wellies, and under umbrellas. This weekend, and all of next week, will see me fringing my little heart out, as the Edmonton International Fringe Festival is under way. It's the largest fringe theatre festival in the world after Edinburgh and definitely the high light of the summer for me. I was originally planning to be  traveling for the next two weeks, as I have them off from work, but due to a bunch of small things I am having a staycation after all, meaning I'll be living at the fringe grounds, seeing as much theatre, dance and comedy as I can. Expect many blog posts about this event over the next few weeks. So far I've seen three plays, 2 For Tea, a physical comedy by an English duo (AMAZING) It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman!, a kitschy, hilarious musical, and Letters and Words, assistant choreographed by my girl Chelsea! So far I am super impressed with everything I've seen. Today I am seeing a drag show, and a play in a train cargo crate! 
Yesterday's outfit: Birds of North America dress found on sale last summer, G.H Bass flats and vintage blouse. 

Here are a few photos from the past two weeks:
AMAZING charcuterie board. The pepper jelly, chorizo, dill goats cheese... oh my gaaad. 
Meg, Natalie, Jeremy and me at Chic-HOG-Os. 
A portrait of my friend Jill at the vintage store she owns. We celebrated our one year friend anniversary this week! I am so grateful for my friendship with this lady. We'd been online friends through blogging and instagram for about a year before I moved home last year, and finally took our friendship offline and into real time over wine and bread pudding at the Sugar Bowl. A year later, Jill has become one of my best friends. I never have a bad time with her, whether it's laughing up a storm, dancing the night away, a good Feminist rant, or just needing a supportive ear. Here's to many more years of friendship and fun. 

My friend Missy prepared and poncho-ed for Folk Fest! 
View of the main stage from our tarp. 

Jill and Chantal <3.
Chelsea looking gorgeous in the fading summer light. 

I am grateful for fringe distractions and good friends for keeping me busy and sane! Lately I've been a bit anxious about some stuff - nothing I can't deal with or anything serious, just too many small things on my mind at once. School, financial planning, finding an apartment, student loans, boys, and just general late twenties existential melodrama about what I want and if I am making the right choices... regarding everything. Something must be in the water.

Much love! Be sure to check out some Fringe shows if you're in Edmonton! It's a once yearly opportunity to see some truly great work from those in our theatre community and from abroad. 

Charmaine xx

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Revise, Revise, Revise.

"It is never too late - in fiction or in life - to revise" - Nancy Thayer. 
I've always loved this quote. When I was younger, around junior high age, I used to have a scrap booked I called my "quote book" filled with quotes I'd type out on my mother's type-writer from the '70s. This quote is appropriate for me as life lately has been a constant process in revising. Combing over ideas and possible scenarios for where I should be and what I should be doing. It's no secret I've been going around in circles regarding my life decisions over the past month or so, and I apologize to those who've had to bear with my flip-flopping. It's boring to read about, and probably even more boring to hear about ad nauseum in person. But it's my life, and the choices I make now are important. So I've been revising and editing so I can make the best decision. I'd hardly submit an essay or cover letter without careful proof-reading, so why wouldn't I also do this with my life decisions

And my decision is to stay in Edmonton and go to school after all. 

Rather unexciting after grandiose plans to move overseas were formed, and absolute euphoria over the idea I'd be back in Toronto again. I teetered between practicality and taking an adventurous, Kierkegaardian leap of faith and just seeing what happens in either Toronto or Melbourne. But after some meticulous budget making and planning, school seemed like the best idea, and the best use of all the money I worked so damn hard to save. Just get it out of the way, before post secondary becomes even more expensive than it already is. Australia is out for the time being simply due to finances. Close to $2000 to get there, another $500 for the visa, another $500 for health insurance, not including housing and food expenses until I found a job, or if I did at all. The timing didn't seem right, and I don't want what my friend Alyssa refers to as a "resume black hole." After building my resume for the last year at a reputable national company, following up with a school program related to my field seemed like a better option for sure... rather than working as a barista or retail in Melbourne for a year? I still want to go down under before I am 30, and hopefully further schooling and more industry experience will get a me a job I actually want when I go. Same goes for my eventual return to Toronto. I am practically desperate to live there again, but it's a competitive city with lots of well educated, qualified, passionate, people who want the same jobs I want. I don't want to just move back and manage a store. Even though it would be SO FUN! Alberta is where it's at in Canada for jobs due to the oil and gas industry, whether I like this reality or not. I am trying to embrace the opportunities that are in front of me, rather than "what ifs" and day dreams. 

So. I am going back to do Arts and Cultural Management at Grant MacEwan University. I will move out downtown, volunteer at some not-for-profits, work part time at my job until (or if) a job in the arts comes up, and travel when I can. There are both Art Spiegelman AND a Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario this year, so I will definitely be back to Toronto some time soon. 
Plus, the program looks great. I am excited about it, and to connect with even more like-minded people in Edmonton through it. I am excited to take Museum Management, Advocacy in the Public Sector, and for the internship/work placement opportunities the program provides. If I do the one year program, I'll be finished this time next year, and if I do the two year program, that leaves me all of next summer to do whatever I want. Maybe a visit down under then! The campus is in a shitty, terrible area of the city, but instead of be negative about this I am changing my attitude and now looking forward to exploring a new part of the city... Peep shows, prostitutes, car-jackings and all. I lived in South East London before it was cool and still impoverished, so I am sure I'll be just fine on the Fort Road. 

Here's what I wore a few days ago. Head-to-toe second hand, for the first time in a while! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

July Was Fun

From top to tail, July was an exceptionally fun month. I enjoyed far too many patio drinks, lounged in parks, and took in many of the city's best summer time events such as Klondike Days, Taste of Edmonton and The Street Performers. Summer brings out my extroverted side ten fold, and it's been great seeing so much of both new and old faces. Here are some snaps from my busy month! 
Probably my favourite summer outfit! I live in these People Tree trousers, guys. They fit so perfectly, and are made of the most breathable cotton. I am definitely going to pick up a few more paris of trousers in this cut for Fall. As a short, curvy lady, pants for me are always a nightmare. It is endlessly pleasing to find well tailored attire for frames such as mine. 

One of the friends I've been happiest to get to know better since moving home is miss Sarah Dunn. Sarah and I have known each other since my second year of university, and literally had a class together every semester, for my entire degree. Slowly we both started to notice this trend and became good in-class friends. We also both volunteered at the same art galleries! When I moved home, I am we FINALLY started to hang out in the real world, and it's been amazing. She's currently working for the provincial government and even helped write legislation that was tabled in the legislature earlier this year. Earlier this month we went to the Russian Tea Room psychics together! The experience was interesting for sure... My psychic was a middle aged, chaining smoking Newfoundlander (and therefore HILARIOUS). I take all things new age with a grain of salt, but I definitely left with a fresh perspective. Some of the things I was told were eerily accurate and specific, others vague. 
On Canada Day, Jill and I literally set up camp at cactus club around four, meaning to have one, maybe two drinks and call it an early evening. SIX HOURS and a very, very large bill later we made our way over to watch fire works with half of Edmonton. It was a perfect, magical summer evening filled with fireworks and all the laughs. 

Another newish friend I've enjoyed getting to know better, and see more of this summer, is Megan. She's from Calgary, an undergrad at the U of A, and someone I know through my close friend Colin. She has a killer sense of humour and great music taste. Here she is eating the PB an J burger from The Next Act pub (my localist of local watering holes from this post) and hanging out with Jill and I at Craft. 

The BEST part of July was seeing dearest Tori before she heads off to India for over a year for PhD research. Tori is one of my oldest friends (ten years!), and one of those people who makes me feel like the best version of me whenever I am around her. I always feel really Seen and Heard. We have the wildest nights and the most satisfying conversations. It was so good to see her before she left, seeing as I hadn't seen her in over a year! She is currently living in Toronto completing a PhD at U of T in anthropology with a focus on South India. I hope I visit her and my friend Rakesh in Kerala!!! I can't wait until she and I are living in the same city again. It was so, so good to see her before I don't again for who knows how long. We two scatty Aquarians may be wanderers at heart, but we always wander back into each others lives. 

A few weeks ago us girls got together to see our friend Charly off before she leaves us for half a year of epic European and Australian backpacking. She's headed all over Europe, and then to volunteer at a bat sanctuary near Brisbane! If I am in Australia I am excited for us to reunite in a foreign country. Foreign meet ups are the best kind. 

My favourite summer activity on a Thursday is checking out the Latitude 53 Patio Parties. Latitude is an artist run gallery that hosts a weekly patio party with different art and different sponsors each evening. I prefer the patio of the old Latitude space, but the new location is still a prime spot to nurse a beer and take in some local talent. Here's Missy and I at one of the events a few weeks ago. 

I had a mid-week meet up with my girl crush Andrea a little while ago, and oh, oh, oh did we get messy. I go out for drinks a lot, but actually very rarely get drunk. I have one, maybe two glasses of wine or beer a few times a week during the summer months. So when Andrea and I planned to meet up at woodwork downtown for a cocktail and dinner on a simple Tuesday evening, I did NOT expect it to turn into the shit show it did. Andrea is an all-star local journalist, currently the editor of the U of A newspaper and interning this summer at the Edmonton Journal. I've known her since we took an English class together, her in her second year, and me finishing up my last English credit in my final semester of university. We've always got on ridiculously well, and are finally hanging out. I love talking to her about writing and journalism and life goals and men. What started as an innocent glass of wine became a shared bottle, which later became FIVE BOTTLES (shared between four people), as her other intern friends joined us later on at woodwork. We all staggered down to the river valley and dipped our feet in the North Saskatchewan until the wee hours of the morning. One of the best nights of my summer. 

One of the best experiences I had recently was at the Intersteller Rodeo, a music festival in Hawrelak park. Edmontonian festival organizers definitely know how to plan family friendly music festivals. All the bathrooms were clean and well stocked. There was plenty of room for people set up tarps. There was a great choice of healthy, local, well priced food trucks. All the artists were hanging around in the crowd in between sets, and the general vibe was down to earth and really unpretentious. I got a free ticket through my friend Missy and was excited to see Bahamas, who I have seen several times live and who never, ever disappoints. If you ever get to see Afie live, I suggest it! His voice is soulful and unique. 
The best set of the day was by far a "Brooklyn country band" called The Lone Bellow. If you like alt-country or soulful blue grass you will LOVE THIS BAND.  I was blown away by their energy and stage presence! They were the highlight of the day for sure and received a standing ovation for their set from the entire festival! Can't wait to see them again one day. 

 Whoa! What a fun month! I am feeling blessed for great company and great weather. 

I hope your July was grand, too! Here's hoping for an even better August.