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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

flavor of the month

There is no flavor of the month in my life right now, and I'm not making reference to the bland cafeteria food. I'm surrounded by a hearty selection of young men, yet I don't even want a sample. None of the flavors seem enticing. It's like walking into Baskin Robbins and deciding you're not hungry. Am I just a man snob? The only time I really like a guy is at a glance. A quick but intense eye contact. A fleeting moment of attraction. And I'm back at step one, always wanting what seems unattainable.

Maybe it's that I'm still working on liking myself. I have come a long way, but it's a slow process. After a life long struggle I'm finally getting to know who I am. I've accepted the skin I'm in, and the mind I operate. The biggest surprise has been that the more I find out about myself, the more confident I become. If being conceited feels this good, then let it be. I've been through the self-hate phase and would rather not look back. I'm tired of the never good enough, smart enough, pretty enough. It took realizing none of that mattered to see that I'm more than enough.

An interesting aspect of liking myself is that I've given up deprivation. Even at the age of Archie comics and candy binges, a diet always seemed like a good idea. Something was always out of bounds; I was always limited. The problem with this is that restraint leads to rebellion, and restriction leads to bingeing.

Now I'm discovering what I actually like and don't like. Nothing is off limits.

My flavor of the month is discovery. Discovering a new city, new people, new comforts, new perspective, and a new respect for myself. And you know what? It tastes pretty damn good.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

wake up to a brand new you!

I woke up this morning and the interminable dark clouds over my head had lifted. At one in the morning a caring email, one in response to my woes, sent me to tears. I forget how publicly I am displaying my pain. But I was able to sleep after. I went to bed my heart still heavy, and woke up feeling lighter.

After a six hour journalism class I took off walking. Walking is my therapy, my escape. I walk my sins away. I walked far down Bloor Street into the university district. This part is eye candy to me, I felt at ease and strangely at home. Organic food stores, small delis, small hippy shops and the autumn air all felt so right. I went into Honest Ed's, a large discount store with over the top theatric lighting covering the building, large bargain signs scrawled in retro print standing in the windows. Something about this store puts me at ease. Maybe it's the prices I can afford, or maybe it's the thought of my dad shopping in this very store in the 70s: shaggy haired and buying a dress shirt for a dollar, trying his best to impress his new mistress (my mother).

On the way home I walked through the University of Toronto grounds. These grounds stretch for miles, with huge ancient buildings, ivy crawling up their sides. It was beautiful and impressive, but also made me appreciate Ryerson. Our close knit school is much less overwhelming, less intimidating; more humble in many ways. I like having the woman in the cafeteria remember me. I like having the two ladies who make waffles thank me for coming back. I like recognizing people and knowing most of my surroundings. I wouldn't mind a big old building with ivy up the sides, but I'm happy with this school.

A UFT student walked part way home with me. He said he thought I might be a girl from his class. Excuse to pick up a girl or not, I love sporadic conversations with strangers, and we walked until we went off in our own directions. I walked home a different way and found a little neighborhood seconds away from my residence. Small streets were laced with small simple homes and old brick building style apartments, the kind you find in New York. In Ireland they're similar, but always more generic and gloomy looking. Most of these had their own character, painted in different colors, some old, some new. At one apartment a young man sat on the steps staring into space. At a house on the corner a girl complained loudly on her phone while she standing on her porch. The area felt young and at ease.

I'm glad to have regained my inspiration. I see a lot of possibility in this city. Every street is waiting for me to walk down. Every face has a story I might get to tell. And I have myself. I can go anywhere from here.

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Monday, September 27, 2004

control yourself woman

Socrates believed in internal strength and having the parts of your soul under control. This philosopher was ahead of his time on so many levels. To be a good person he saw that you had to self-discipline your mind. That your desires, reason and knowledge should balanced. That desires should not govern your mind, rather your reason should. That does not go to say desires should be neglected, but that you should be aware of them; have them under control.

My reason and my desires are off kilter right now. I don't know what I want. My body, mind, and emotions have been rejecting me today. I just, I don't even know what to say.

And so I sit in my room with cement walls. I know no creature comfort could calm the way I feel. A bath is too much effort. I already know it won't offer what I'm seeking. If I was an alcoholic I would lose myself in a bottle. If I was a social butterfly I'd seek comfort in numbers. But I have know words to how I feel. Just a lost expression and watery eyes. Even my writing feels empty and artificial.

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Sunday, September 26, 2004

self destructive

At four in the morning my bloodshot eyes stared back at me in the bathroom mirror, the halogen light bulbs draining my skin. After emptying my stomach into the toilet, I didn't know what to think of the girl in the mirror. The night played over in my mind and I felt empty.

It began with vodkas in my room. Friends sitting around. I didn't keep track. We went to another room, played on turntables, and came back. I planned to be in bed at a reasonable hour, considering I had work the next day. But around 12 I decided I had to go dancing, and two guy friends agreed this was a good idea. We went to a night club where I lost myself in the tackiness of the clubbing scene: playing mind games, dancing with different guys, kissing a nameless stranger, and walking around in search of something that couldn't be found. I deserted the guys I came with and lost myself in the music. When a girl in the bathroom shook her hips as she applied more and more makeup, I knew I had to leave.

Back at residence a friend with a suite gave me egg salad and chocolate cake: I was starving. I went back to my room and devoured a muffin. Soon after it was me and my bloodshot eyes. I felt plastic, fake, alone. I felt self destructive. Like I was only drawn to things that would cause me pain. Always in the pursuit of something shallow. Wanting everything unattainable for the simple fact that I can't have it.

I felt better in the morning than expected, and I made it through the day at work. It's now 5:30 and I feel drained. I am running off very little sleep, a hangover dwindling in my stomach. Cause and effect. My critical thinking teacher would be ashamed. Sometimes I just feel l think too much and need to shut down for a night. But it's not worth losing myself. I'd rather think twice and love myself.

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Thursday, September 23, 2004

money, money, money

With the touch of a few digits anything I desire is mine. In the past month I have spent more money than I ever could have imagined. Everyday there is something: food, cleaner, shampoo, mascara; clothes. I feel like I'm constantly making excuses to myself, wondering if they are excuses after all. I buy a pair of sweatpants, because, well, my other ones were ripping in a few places. I buy a jacket for fall, thick jeans for winter. I buy work clothes, because I literally have no appropriate clothing. I buy water, snacks, and chocolate: I need to survive don't I?

All the while my buys make me uncomfortable. I feel pangs of guilt and nervousness, feeling as though I'm acting in carelessness. Cities are expensive to live in. And I mean live in: not to be constantly working or locked up in your room. If that was the case, living would be cheap. But I want to be out there, living. Tasting, experiencing, LIVING. The catch is that food and entertainment come at a cost. The trendy urban clothing carries a price tag. The clubs that make your heart pump have cover.

Tonight I walked through the city with glazed eyes. Down to the boardwalk and up through Queens. My mood altering as much as the songs on my mix CD. Emotional instrumental songs guide me in my pensive and strangely lonesome state. Then a country song breaks out, just as a rugged old man on a bicycle gives me a big whoop and holler, and I'm all laughs.

Back at residence I am procrastinating over homework. My attention span is lacking with mandatory reading. I must make note however, that some of my journalism classes have been very painless and enjoyable. The other day we spent class split up in twos, out in the city, surveying people on the street. My partner and I asked: "Should marijuana be legalized?", and received a beautiful array of answers. For my newest project I have chosen the question: "why are women attracted to losers?" I'm asking this question for many people, including myself.

I have so much I want to do, write and say that I must pace myself. Then of course there's the things I have to do...and well..I am pacing myself with them. And every time I glance at the reading I should be doing, this blog just seems to get longer and longer..

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Tuesday, September 21, 2004

when you think of me, think of me french.

Overnight the weather shifted from summer to fall. A tropical humidity became a cool briskness, the leaves already starting to drop from the sky. The cold air is comforting. No matter where I am, I find the aromas of fall are similar. And so I become nostalgic: thinking of my birthdays, halloween, chili on the stove; walking home from school, crushing leaves under my feet.

I think of days when the comfort of home and family were always available. At one point, when I decided I had to leave (which led me to Ireland), I felt I never wanted to be comfortable. I didn't want to be a home body. To rely on silly comforts and have them hold me back. I always wanted to be on the edge, ready to leave. I made an effort never to make a room of mine too comfortable. I refused to paint my walls in Ireland. I was fine with my awkward furniture and themeless room in Vancouver. Nowadays I like to be comfortable. I am not however, attached to my comforts. I have simply allowed myself to be comfortable no matter where I am. And now when I arrive in Vancouver; France; Northern Ireland; soon Toronto, I feel I am arriving home.

My mom is flying to Paris in a few days. She is going to get her hair done, and tells me 'when you think of me, think of me French'. I already do. For as long as I've known her, my mother has embraced the French lifestyle and culture. When she discovered France, she discovered a part of herself, something clicked. She discovered their love of sex, good food, slow dinners, wine, conversation, beautiful clothing; everything that deserves to be loved. And upon these discoveries, she found herself a new home.

When I feel good I feel French. When I am dressed to the nines and tasting a fine wine, I feel French. When I feel sexy, I feel French. I too, fell in love with France, the French, and their mouth watering culture. My palette is undoubtedly French. I enjoy slow meals, several courses, coffee or cheese for dessert. I like rich foods and yoghurt after my meals. I like a coffee and pastry for my breakfast. I respect a culture that closes it's stores for a two hour lunch. Where women, and men, don't talk endlessly about diets and restricting themselves. It is indulgence without the guilt..and it never felt so good.

So when you think of me, think of me French. Sensual, indulgent; a suggestive smile on pursed lips.

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Saturday, September 18, 2004

hungover? kind of.

Woke up with a slightly throbbing head and a pale complexion. Ah, the joys of drinking. I was pacing around restless last night, not wanting to go out because I have work today. But when I got a message from my boss saying to come in an hour later, I took it as a sign, broke out the heels and blush, and got ready to go out.

I love quiet nights in, but sometimes I just need to get out; I go crazy if I don't. I end up pacing the hallways and checking my email every five minutes. Oh it's ugly.

It was 50's pub night at a diner up the road. I put in my best effort with capri pants and pump heels. After slamming down consecutive shots of mango Malibu rum (it tasted like candy), I was on the same brain wave as most people on my floor. A tall girl with brown hair and short miniskirt was yelling "I thought I only had four beers! But I had my sixth! We have to go now!"

At the diner I hit the dance floor where I spent most of the night. All the classic rap and hip hop songs blasted. Part of me was hoping for 50's music, as it was a 50's night, but I l have no objection to hip hop. My best dance partner was a black man with fancy footwork. He kept asking me where I got my rhythm: "white girls don't have that kind of rhythm". He said we should do dance contest together. I laughed it off and headed out soon after.

On the way home I had a slightly sketchy experience. A man in a Porsche drove by me, slowed down, and pulled over to the curb. As I walked by he oggled me with his eyes. Did he think I was a prostitute? God, I hope not. I thought I looked more kitschy than slutty. I marched on unintimidated by my visual violation; he drove by slowly and gave me a little wave. I didn't see him again. I didn't know how to take it.

Now I'm going to drink a gallon of water and shower for work. Blahh.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Wenesday, September 15, 2004

My sleeping has been off lately. At night I turn and toss, wake up and check my email, have a snack and try to sleep again. I have felt slightly off today. Something inside of me aches. It is a void I sometimes get, one I'm never sure how to fill. But it comes and goes: one second I am teary eyed, the next I'm smiling.

Part of it might be that I miss my parents. I'm all about independence and love being out on my own, but family is also very important to me. My family is the one stable thing in my life. In their eyes I feel capable of almost anything; they are the only people I really know that I love. Otherwise I don't know what love is. Sometimes I think I just don't know how to love, don't know how to feel. Love. I never know if it's real. There's so much shit that gets in the way, that turns me around until I'm dizzy. Eventually I fall flat on my face and decide I only have myself. But I know I have my family. Miles, or oceans apart, it's comforting just to know they are there.

Walking through the cafeteria tonight, green tea in hand, I noticed a young guy sitting with his parents. His happiness over rid his embarrassment. I couldn't help but feel envious. I would like to show my parents around campus, taking them back to the past, as they were both Ryerson students, and to my present. I'm glad I had my brother to meet me here and help me move in. Without him the isolation and chaos would have hit me much harder.

I finally made my way to the waterfront today. I brought my dinner and sat by lake Ontario, watching sailboats under the remains of the sunset. Seeing water is always therapeutic when I'm away, as the sea wall is a big part of my life in Vancouver. Sometimes I would walk it a few times a day, my pace working as fast as my mind as I walk off my distress.

I'm feeling more at ease now. I drew on a friends wall with highlighters that light up under his black light. Then my room mate and I wandered down Yonge to 7-11. Back in my room I feel fortunate again to be here. There is no where else I'd rather be right now.

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Monday, September 13, 2004

Monday,September 13, 2004

I don't know where to take you today. I'm struggling to write these days, and I apologize for all the unanswered emails I've left sitting in my inbox..I just don't want to force my replies. I don't want to write anyone words I don't mean. And so for now they'll remain unanswered.

I just came in from sitting outside in the quad, where a street lamp lit up my reading and I lit up a cigar. I read over the letter I received this morning from my mom in the mail, breathing the cigar deeply, but not inhaling. My mother is beautiful. My room mate complimented her and her cheerfulness in my summer photos I just got back. She writes to me and wishes me a life that is rich.

It is rich. I am still trying to make things happen, to make it as rich as possible, but it is taking me time. I work part time in a woman's clothing store filled with rich clothing. Making my own money and being surrounded by beautiful materials adds richness to my life.

The other night I vented my restlessness into a night of dancing with a friend on my floor. I got to know him better, a young guy from Thailand who lived in Australia, giving him the nick name 'Oz'. When I let my body move to the beat of good music, I feel alive, it is one of my best highs.

Tonight I set out on a mission to go to the waterfront, but a stranger stopped me and asked if I wanted to catch the tail end of a movie with him. It was one from the film festival, where you spend hours in line to get in, and the actors show up as well. I need moments of spontaneity so I agreed to go in. He was a funny young guy, I think he had ADD, unable to sit quietly during the movie. After some time I grew restless again, told him I had to meet a friend, and left the theater.

I still want to meet more people, to fall in love, to feel heartbroken, to scream louder, to cry, to feel something: all of the things you can't rush. All of the things you can't force. I just don't know how to tame this restlessness.

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Thursday, September 09, 2004

Thursday, September 9, 2004, 10:26 PM

This morning I ate around half a tub of peanut butter. I don't know what it is about this food but I can eat it in the most obscene amounts. I ate it with apples, a spoon...and then ate two peanut butter granola bars. It was a state of binge eating I occasionally find myself in, only to feel like shit later for being so out of control. At dinner with my grandma I continued to eat copious amounts of food, eating a seafood feast, rice, salad, scone and some of her fish.

I am officially now against dieting, it has destroyed me in the past, but I don't approve of over eating either.

In the past dieting and the power of control over food drove me to an eating disorder. I never didn't eat, but calories were more important than anything. I would tell myself fattening foods weren't worth the guilt they provided. And they weren't. The guilt of anything that might have made me put on weight was heavier than any food. When I finally realized I had lost weight their were mixed emotions. Happiness. Madness. Sadness. I had lost the weight, but was I better for it? My bra was too loose, I felt it wiggle as I walked. My hair wasn't as soft and my skin held no radiance. It was very far from the glamour losing weight was supposed to have. Even less glamourous was having the doctor tell me my period had stopped. And so there I was, no breasts, no period, no longer a woman.

Can I blame myself? I do blame myself. But I also blame life, society, expectations. I guess it's my fault for buying into them. And yet a day doesn't go buy where people don't go on and on about calories. About how they could lose a few pounds. About how so-and-so lost this much weight. Students are always talking about "freshman 15". This is the term for the typical freshman, who is known to put on about fifteen pounds or more their first year at university. At times like this I must shut my ears. I will not repeat the same mistake again. I will not let the fear of gaining weight stop me from eating balanced meals. Stop me from socializing for fear of the food involved. It is not worth it. No size 6 pair of jeans is worth throwing everything in your life out of balance. Food brings people together, is one of the deepest pleasures, and is necessary to live.

This is a serious subject right now. There are too many women bingeing, starving and purging on a daily basis. Food or lack of food isn't the answer to any emotional issue. It is not meant to be an outlet of control. And yet somehow this is what it becomes. Sometimes it's easier to eat a jar of peanut butter than it is to cry.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Wednesday, September 8, 2004, 7:29PM

In a classroom of around 30 people, fluorescent lights beam down on me. After my first coffee of the day I am jittery, but my attention is devoted to my professor. He speaks to the room and says "we cannot afford to be bored". Life is too short to be bored. If you do not engage yourself you will suffer from boredom, and it isn't worth it. This is Psychology 108. The subject is Applied Problem Solving, and I am all ears.

It is amazing that throughout my entire learning experience I have never been taught how to think. Of course I can think, I'm often told I think too hard, but with the knowledge provided, my thoughts become much more powerful. The course involves learning to apply knowledge, to evaluate the situation, and to be critical. Think of all the propaganda thrown at us every day: it is up to us to decide what we wish to obtain from this. We choose wether or not we wish to be manipulated, and what we wish to consume. There are many things we would never believe we needed if it wasn't for commercials. It is these advertisements that convince us that we would be undesirable without their products. I thought my room smelt fine, but will others be more impressed if I have a Glad plug-it in?

After class I made my way to the second hand bookstore, and with a hefty reduced price of fifty-three dollars I had my psychology text book, 'THOUGHT & KNOWLEDGE' by Diane E. Halpern. Making my way through the introduction, my older brother Brendan comes to mind. He is a deep thinker and applies most of the critical thinking explored in the book. He has even reverberated some of the quotes. I have no doubt he would be as interested in the course's material as I am, if not more so. We will have to have some heavy discussions next time we see each other.

My favorite thing about university so far is how real it is. The material being taught is applicable to real life, and therefore much more interesting. My journalism teacher scares the shit out of me, but she is honest, she writes for the Toronto Star, and she knows what it takes to be a journalist. My English teacher cut class short and talked about how we all needed coffee, one of the basic food groups. We are not being babysit anymore, we are being taught, and best of all, we are ready to learn.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2004

September 7 2004, first day of classes

Today I had print class. Normally this class is an eight hour class, and is this length because we take off to do assignments. Today was much shorter, and we were given a small assignment. We were to pair up with someone we didn't know, interview them, and write an article about them. It's corny as hell, what we call a sob interview. But it's a first try. My partner was Kate Mae Mill, here it is:


Kate Mae Mill’s brown eyes smile throughout our whole interview. As her eyes shift around the room she speaks of her dreams and aspirations, occasionally making eye contact. Her personality is warm and what she has to say is impressive. Her innocent face shows no sign of what she has been through, and neither does her determination.

Kate grew up in Barrie Ontario, one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. She describes it as an industrial town with a lack of culture; a service town with beds for city workers. Her tone changes when she speaks about ‘Mariposa’, the city’s re-known skating school. This school was Kate’s sanctuary until she finished high school and left home.

When asked if her parents are still together Kate shifts uncomfortably. Her parents separated when she was twelve, got back together, and then got divorced four years later. To make matters worse her father abandoned her and her family, moving to an island a distance away. She has not seen him since. He remains in her life only through email and the occasional gift.

Kate said this was an unexpected thing for her dad to do. He was a very likeable man, charming and seemingly trustworthy. Unfortunately his heart was never in the right place. He was a successful businessman who was focused on his career. He knew how to make money but not how to love.

Throughout this story Kate is able to keep a smile on her face. She says that the experience has only made her stronger. She surrounded herself with positive people, and became very focused and self-sufficient. She is not resentful, and says: “some things are just out of your control”. After her father left she dedicated herself to figure skating and school. She set her goals high and worked hard. Presently she hopes to carry on her passion for figure skating through journalism. I can tell she is passionate about figure skating, but says she couldn’t compete herself. When she was tested for her skating they
found she lacked some of the skills needed. With a grin on her face she says: “I can only do doubles, not triples”. This did not leave Kate discouraged; she is currently working on her coaching certification and is being considered as a journalist for the Olympic team.

Kate admits she was drawn to journalism for the glamour of it. She loves to watch The Today Show and says she wants to be just like Katie Couric. In the past she wanted to be an actress, but was denied twice by the Ryerson acting program. Kate now has her eyes set on the glamorous world of broadcasting, hoping someday to be on a morning show.

Kate hasn’t stopped once to feel sorry for herself and it has taken her a long way. She sees the world before her and knows she can attain anything. When asked about her current goals she says she’s just taking it all in right now. Her motivation has brought her to Ryerson’s journalism program and she will see where that takes her. She says “journalism is like a buffet of life for me”, and her smiling eyes now look hungry.

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Monday, September 06, 2004

Monday, September 6, 2004, 11:59PM

This morning a homeless man approached me and asked me to spare some change for a bagel. I feel naive giving a stranger money, and so I told him I would walk with him to the nearest shop to buy him a bagel or a muffin. After a few steps he told me what he really wanted was to stay in a hostel. I apologized, telling him money was tight, but that I'd gladly buy him something to eat. Frustrated by my inability to provide him with cold hard cash he turned away, not even taking me up on the offer of a muffin from Starbucks. This is an offer even I wouldn't refuse.

I sat drinking my coffee in frustration. I offered up my own food money to a stranger and was left feeling under appreciated. I decided the best response in the future would be to give whoever it was some contacts of shelters within the district. Walking back to residence I saw him again, and giving me a cheeky smile he said "Not even five cents beautiful?", I said no and he replied "Well you're a sweetheart anyways". Even though he was a bit of an asshole, he could see I made an effort, and that was enough to put me at ease.

When I looked up shelters on the internet what I mostly found was articles. Unfortunately they were a little disappointing. The shelters in the city are dangerous, dirty, uncomfortable and very hard to get into. They are often cockroach infested slums with an edgy crowd. One man said that when he went to bed he put his dirty socks under the bed, and when he woke up he found that someone had stolen them.

After reading this I don't know what to say to someone with nowhere to sleep at night. While I lie comfortably in my dorm room they will go through agony trying to find somewhere to lay their heads. I guess I could point a homeless person in the direction of a shelter, but how much good would that do? Even if their lucky enough to get a bed they can't consider themselves lucky.

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Monday, September 6, 2004

After days of finding myself without words, struggling to write emails, and leaving my journal pages a virginal white, I have decided to enter the world of blogging. I need to write for the sake of my sanity. I don't know where this will take me. I don't know how honest and ruthless I will be able to be. From now on however I am a journalist; I must grow accustomed to writing and writing truthfully. I recently read an article about a Starbucks worker who was fired for writing negative comments about the company in his blog. He said that none of his fellow workers had the address and that it was meant to be private; he soon discovered the internet is not private. Is it dangerous to post my heart and soul this publicly? I suppose it can be. Then again I've shared my poetry with many. It may not be as public as the internet, but I take a deep breath anytime anyone reads a poem of mine. These poems often say everything I can't, everything I'm too afraid to say out loud. Something inside me tells me to express myself in every way possible, and I feel keeping a blog is taking a big step forward.

My life has taken a big turn recently and it will be good to have somewhere to vent. I sit in my dorm room, seventeen years old, miles away from home, ready to emerge myself into a hands on journalism course. I am standing on the edge of everything. I feel numb and invigorated all at once. Everyday I wander the city of Toronto and take in everything around me. I like it best on my own, where my feet lead me where they want to, where I can stop into shops, touch fabrics, rifle through second hand books, and feed my senses. This city is alive and I can't get over the fact that it's two seconds outside my doorstep. My urban spirit is beaming in these surroundings, and so am I.