A quick break…

School work is piling up (I kinda like that they call it school here!) and I feel like I’m on the home-run, about 5 and a bit weeks until I’m completely done here; and four presentations to do, two papers and three exams to get through! I’m trying not to dwell too much on the work because it makes me unnecessarily stressed out! Instead I’ve been employing the “run-away” tactic – I’m sure the best way to deal with things… not.

Yesterday Tara, Sofia, Claire and I walked the 15 km from St. Jerome the MOC house. It was a lovely day, if a little windy. The route had been groomed (meaning levelled out for skiers, I’m sure they resent us walkers messing it up!) and we walked along chatting and laughing and admiring the scenery and generally having a lovely time! (This is the route we’re planning on running for the Run for Ella – the Montreal ContingentI’m organising. I’ve realised I’m going to have to start training, walking it was hard enough!)

After arriving at the house we crashed for maybe an hour, drank hot chocolate and lazed about on the sofa. Then back up and out, this time with skis. We headed to the route that follows the river. It was so beautiful, the river mostly frozen over but with occasional patches of water showing through, snow covered trees and the air crisp and fresh. Cross-country skiing is awesome, it warms you up in no time and uses a different set of muscles from walking, so we weren’t too achy (Although I am today!).

Then back to the house, another half hour of eating carrots and hummus and chatting then a lift with Jen back to St Jerome where we ran to get on the bus and then sat there for 10 minutes feeling a bit silly for having rushed!

Once in Montreal, I popped home to pick up Africa (David Attenborough’s most recent documentary – thanks Lisa!!) and cycled to Tara’s. There we made pizza (it was so good! Nice one on the dough Tara!) and ate together before curling up on the sofa to watch a few episodes. I must have fallen asleep, because I woke up in the morning still curled up on the sofa!

It was a wonderful day, a much needed escape from the city and a day of not once thinking about school work or feeling guilty for not being in the library!

I hope you’ve all had equally lovely weekends!

XxX

A photo break...

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Pushing cars

On the walk through the snow from uni to the bus stop I came across a woman whose car was stuck in the snow banks on the side of the road. There were two guys pushing, without much success. So I helped push and kick the snow out of the way of the tires. After more pushing and kicking and the help of a few others, she got out. After high-fives and smiles all round, I looked down to turn my ipod back on. When I looked up, all of the helpers had disappeared and melted into the other people trudging along through the snow. It made me think of a flash mob, how at the end everyone disappears back into the crowd. We were a mini flash-mob of car-pushers! Made me smile.

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Another post from a bus station…

This time it’s thoughts from Chicago. First 8 hour stint on a bus down. Slightly gross coffee drunk from one of those nasty non-recyclable polystyrene mugs. Book finished (100 Years of Solitude – thanks Roland, it was a good recommendation!). Revision – nonexistent (I’m telling myself I’ll start after blogging). Guy snoring in the chairs across the way – check. The various assortment of people you always get in greyhound stations – check. Announcements over the Tannoy that you can’t understand – check.

This past week feels like a bit of a dream. An almost unreal interlude in the middle of semester, where although everyone was busy, life seemed to move at a slightly slower pace anyway. Or maybe it’s just that people in Minneapolis are better at pausing every now and then and enjoying a good breakfast, or the sunlight through the trees, or a walk in the park, or savouring frozen yoghurt, or watching a film for sixth time and still enjoying it as much as the first time.

I feel as at home in Minneapolis as I do in Bristol. And there are so many people there that I love I didn’t have time to see them all in the brief time I had there. I did have time to watch The Breakfast Club, to eat biscuits and gravy, to have frozen yoghurt twice in one day at different places (there is no bad time/weather/situation for frozen yoghurt, and it’s hard to have too much… a bit like peeps I guess…?), to go out for breakfast on consecutive days to two of the hippiest/hipster places in Minneapolis – good food, good people-watching, good company. We had time to spend almost an entire day at the Mall of Love (otherwise known as the Mall of America) shopping and trying on outfits and screaming our way down rides. I had time to draw with Luca, and to take Chicken the dog for a walk, to sleep until I woke up naturally, to bake a cake. As always in Minneapolis, there was time for a good cry, a ton of laughter, dancing, silly music, and always so much love.

And now, I’m sat on the hard metal chairs in the bus station kinda wishing I didn’t have to leave the purple house, but also with the knowledge that I’ll be back in two months – more or less. Which then makes me confront the reality that I will be leaving Montreal in 2 months(ish) and that feels weird too.

Anyway. I’ve got buses to be hopping onto. Catch you later.

XxX

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Reflections, thoughts, and some sweeping generalisations from a bus terminal in New York state

Americans are friendly. They’re open and chatty and loud and want to know where you’re from and why you’re here and where you’re going and they don’t feel the slightest bit weird about asking you. Canadians are friendly in a slightly more reserved, polite, willing to help but not too in your face way.

Citrus fruit is not allowed across the Canadian – US border. Why didn’t someone tell me before I bought a bag of satsumas to keep me going on this 36 hour journey?!

On the topic of a 36 hour journey, there are two responses to me saying I’m getting the bus from Montreal to Minneapolis. A slightly patronising “you do know how far that is, don’t you?” then “Have you been on a greyhound before?” And then the open mouthed disbelief. The customs official fell into the latter category. The game I play with myself which involves getting American customs officials to smile was made easier by the fact that she was in shock! Wait, make that three responses – the peeps in Minneapolis respond with excitement. Me too!

It feels very good to be done with uni for a week. Yes, there’s stuff to be working on, but for Thursday and Friday, I had two completely work-free, stress-free days. It was wonderful. And now I have a week of such days. Hooray!

Thursday also happened to be my birthday. It kicked off on Wednesday evening  with cake, presents, beer, and a bunch of lovlies. Then Thursday was laid back, a pot-luck in the evening with more lovely people, and finished off by busting some moves to some Motown. Glorious.

Being kind to strangers is easy. The guy sat next to me on the bus didn’t have the $6 he needed to pay the customs fee. Somewhat awkwardly he asked if I’d be able to spot him, he had Canadian dollars, but they don’t take them. It took absolutely no effort on my part, plus, it meant he could catch the bus (!) but the customs person looked gobsmacked that I was willing to pay, as did some of the other folk standing around. It was so weird. Were they gunna sit there and watch him miss the bus?

It’s almost impossible not to smile when looking at a child. I love watching people watching kids, and seeing them trying not to smile, but not being able to stop themselves.

I am SO SUPER DUPER excited about the fact that I’m heading to my second home and family in Minneapolis.

And on that note, I am going to sign off. Books to read, sewing to do, music to listen to, if I’m organised – revision for the midterm in two weeks to be looking at.

Have a good weekend!

XxX