"Blogging isn't journalism, it's graffiti with punctuation."

GIFs

Prague doesn’t let go

Franz kafka museum


MERRY CHRIST(ine esti)MAS: 2015 Year In Review

The essence of drama is conflict. I had a lot of both in the past few years, but 2015 was oddly light and serene. I hustled my ass off, pulled every string, worked and LIVED, and received very little flack from the universe. 2015 was THE YEAR.

I started the year in New York City where I was housesitting. On a chance invite from a friend, I attended a Moth Storytelling event. I had been listening to the Moth podcast for years, and this was a story-slam event, meaning I could put my name in a hat and possibly be called up on stage. I threw my hat in the ring, decided what I would say while I was waiting in line to get into the venue, and wouldn’t you know it….

SPOKEN WORD

Live Storytelling and Spoken Word means a lot to me and I continued to do it back home in Toronto at Raconteurs:

Storytelling is an extension of writing to me. It feeds my need to tell stories and also to be a ham. I also discovered that working out ideas on stage proved excellent for cultivating written story ideas. 2015 was also the year of–

Chris Writes All The Things

Editors this year were like, “Hey Chris, do you want to publish stuff? HERE, HAVE ALL THE PUBLICATIONS YOU LIKE.”

It was like payback for many years of only publishing maybe one or two pieces every 6 months.

Of course, this wasn’t by fluke. I busted my ass, I submitted and submitted and submitted, and got rejection after rejection, but my acceptance rate kind of skyrocketed this year. I actually found myself in the odd position SEVERAL TIMES this year where I had to reject one publication because another had already bought my piece. I was selling pieces so quick, in some instances, I had to turn people down! I ALMOST sent them the lame boilerplate rejections they had sent me for years, but nahhhhhhh.

SELLING STORIES

 

The first piece I sold this year was actually an academic essay which I sold to Palaver Journal based out of a southern University. I finished my Masters Degree ten years ago, but I can still flex my chops when I need to.

Then I sold my first piece to VICE, which was really exciting because I had been reading them since 1998 and am a huge fan, so it was great to see my pieces go across the VICE network and do really well.


vicecanada

Then I sold them another piece
vicesecond1

And then another
vicethird

And then a bajillion more…
fhritpheader

I found out one of my short stories made the long-list for the prestigious CBC Canada Writes Creative Nonfiction Prize, and they profiled me on the CBC website!
IMG_7218 cbc canada writes

Then I sold a short story to GRAIN when they wanted to buy another story of mine, but I had to turn them down because another journal had already bought it, so they asked for anything else I had, and snapped up this piece right away!
grain1

And then I cold-pitched METRO News Canada and they printed my piece in the centrefold:
metro

And then EVENT published one of my Nonfiction stories in this issue:
event

My bio is a BOSS-ASS BITCH
event2 (2)

Then I sold a travel writing piece to VERGE Magazine:
vergesnippet

And just a couple weeks ago, another one of my serious essays about sexual harassment and the experience of reporting it to the police was published by my old friends at AufBau:

And this isn’t even all of my publications! Just a cross-section! I also sold three more stories whose publication dates are imminent, like TOUTE SUITE, dropping in a few weeks soon! So expect to read more from me in the new year!

Speaking of HouseSitting

This year, I did back…

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back

…to back housesitting gigs.

These pictures aren’t even all of them. In total in 2015 I did ELEVEN housesits in 12 months. Considering that 4 of them lasted more than a month, and one of them lasted almost 3 months, that’s a lot of housesitting with snugglecats and dogs and not having to pay rent.

Last name Win, first name Epic.

And it’s not over yet. I’ve been housesitting for years and years now, so why stop in 2016. Starting in January, I will be housesitting in VIENNA!!

I haven’t been to Vienna since that first European clusterfuck trip in 2005 (here are some posts about that trip…. gosh this blog is old). I was last in Austria in 2012 for my Eurail Extravaganza, but I missed out on Vienna, so I’m super excited to spend a lot of time there this Winter.

I want to to everything Viennese, like eating strudel served by Michael Haneke on a harpsichord.

I’ll also be swinging through London, Prague, and Amsterdam, so the great tapestry of adventures I’m trying to build can continue!

Hey, You Never Know

One of my main mantra’s of 2015 was “Ask and you shall receive.” In the past I’ve refrained from asking for what I wanted because I assumed the answer would be no, or, more likely, I felt pretentious for even asking. Like, who the fuck are you Christine? You got some balls asking for that.  That changed this year, when I realized that the worst thing that could happen was they’d say No. And if that’s the worst-case-scenario, it’s pretty surmountable. So with that in mind, I figured no-guts-no-glory. I’m a writer, so my income is limited (obvi). The amount of funds I can allocate to quality of life (movies, music, theatre, concerts, performances, dance, festivals, etc) is extremely limited. So what did I do when I wanted to go to an event but couldn’t afford it?

I asked for free tickets.

And I got them.

BOOM.

This year, just because I asked, I gained free entry to the following:

Once: The Musical
-National Ballet of Canada performance of Sleeping Beauty
Deadmouse: The Musical 
Basquiat exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario
-secret alt-J concert
-the Stars of the Lid concert at the Unsound Festival
Joel Plaskett Emergency concert
Bettroffenheit theatrical play
-several Toronto International Film Festival movies, including
Homesick,
Disorder/Maryland,
Bang Gang,
Summertime,
Son of Saul.

If It Ain’t Broke…

Everyone knows I’m a huge flea market person (and this year I joined the super secret but now highly coveted collective of BUNZ Trading) so this year I procured a lot of fantastic antiques at bargain prices, and sometimes, for a few tokens or a bottle of wine.

I already had a typewriter, but I still went ahead and got myself a second one. Because reasons.


My two bee-yoots, side-by-side

And then I got a rotary phone. It’s a necessity in the modern world.

And then I finally hooked up speakers to my record player, so I went on a vinyl-buying binge, and got some gems like Duke Ellington (click the little volume button in the bottom right of the vid to listen!):

and the master Django Reinhard!

With these new gadgets, I am now able to open a sassy new office… in 1979.

Speaking of Music


I went to some kick-ass concerts this year. In years past I had grown a bit tiresome of concerts (I had been a music critic for about 5 years and now I have a touch of tinnitus…) but, I guess… YOLO

This year saw me at:

-Kiasmos
-alt-J
-Chilly Gonzales
-Stars of the Lid
-Hauschka
-Joel Plaskett Emergency

alt-J!!

alt-J!

I want to stuff Kiasmos into a bong and smoke them.

 

And, my, the new music I discovered this year!

FAV SINGLES OF 2015 include:

-“Emotion” by BORNS

-“Carry On” by Coeur de Pirate
-“Landfill” by Daughter

-all tracks by Tycho
-“All Clear” by Aidan Knight
-“Let it go” by Saint Saviour

-“Black to Gold” by Dear Rouge
-“Them” by Nils Frahm

-“Pretty Pimpin” by Kurt Vile

And the Oscar Goes To…


I saw a lot of films this year, and even reviewed some during TIFF for VICE. Here are the ones that haunted me long after the credits rolled:

-VICTORIA

-The Daughter

-Son of Saul

-Homesick

-CitizenFour

-Disorder/Maryland

As you can see from this list, I am not really a mainstream/Hollywood/wide-release film person. I prefer indie cinema, the ones that make the festival circuit. They usually have no money behind them and therefore can take more risks or tell stories we don’t normally see. So you can take your Chris Nolan/JJ Abrahms/Michael Bay clusterfuck and order it on DVD. Yawn.

Get Busy Livin’

As I said, I started the year in New York (housesitting). I also traveled to my hometown of Montreal (housesitting), and just recently I went to Miami (housesitting). But I really wanted to exercise my passport, so I bounced down to Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for a Mayan Adventure!

I made a short film about my experiences, I figured it was more fun than posting a bunch of touristy photos. I call it GET RICH OR DIE MAYAN. Enjoy!

To thine own selfie be true

I’ll end this post with the one thing everyone really wants to see:
BEST SELFIES OF 2015


I don’t really post selfies anymore, but I do take them from time to time. Here are the ones I took and never posted!

Remember, you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

Happy New Year 2016, munchkins.

SEE YOU IN VIENNA!

Check Out My official website

Don’t forget to visit ChristineEstima.com for more!


Check out my #travel writing piece in @VergeMagazine + some travel news!

vergesnippet

 

My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shaaaades. Another publication, my little munchkins! I wrote about the benefits, the how-to’s, and the expectations/limitations of house-sitting for Verge Magazine, a wonderful, glossy travel mag. I’ve done lotsa travel writing before but not for the past few years, even though those years were consumed with crossing borders! So it was nice to flex the travel writing chops again. Above is a little snippet of the article to pique your interest. If you want to read the whole thing, the latest issue is behind a paywall, you have to buy a digital subscription… or you could ask for my password to my digital subscription … y’know, whatevs. (hint hint wink wink)

 

vergebio

Swag.

I just sold another story a couple days ago to another literary magazine, AND I’m currently working on a hard-hitting essay for my old friends at AufBau (wrote for them last year) which will be translated into Swiss German (Ausgezeichnet!), so I’m super excited for the future!

Speaking of my Verge travel piece on house-sitting, this blog will be quiet for the next little while because I’m going to be house-sitting in Miami for a while, and then directly after that I’m flying down to Central America so I can backpack across Mexico, Guatemala and Belize! All year Central America has been calling out to me. I’ve done South America and I’ve done the Caribbean but never Central America so I really wanted to make it happen. When I was offered the house-sit in Miami, I thought to myself, “Hmm, flights from Miami to Mexico are much cheaper than Toronto to Mexico…” And all of this really isn’t costing me much! Since I’m house-sitting, the Miami accommodation is free. And the home-owner is most graciously and kindly covering my groceries and metropass whilst I’m there. But most of all, my flight was FREE because I had enough Air Miles!!! And I have lotsa remaindered American dollars lying about from my month in NYC earlier this year, so any excess costs are covered! So all I’m actually paying for is the cheap $125 flight from Miami to Mexico, and whatever minuscule pesos I blow on my travels!

I literally am the Queen of Frugal Travelling! Adventures need not break the bank!

So while this blog will most likely go dark for a bit, my Instagram and Twitter will definitely light up so follow me there!

After that, preliminary plans are in the works for me to reunite in Amsterdam with dis guy:

Amsterdammage awaits.

Don’t forget to check out the Official Christine Estima dot commmm for all of my published works, appearances, performances, and more!

NewWEbSite!


The All-New ChristineEstima.com 10-Year Blogiverary!

NewWEbSite!

If you’ve bookmarked this site as christineestima.wordpress.com, it’s time to update your links! I have a whole new website up and running at ChristineEstima.com! It’s my professional, sleek, clean, and fresh-to-death new corner of the internet**. You’ll find details of who I am, my career as a writer and author, my published works, the media coverage I’ve garnered, what others have said about me, recent performances, and yes, a link to this beloved blog of mine.

I started The Spadina Monologues TEN YEARS AGO in April 2005, and while most of my contemporary blogger friends from that time lost interest and abandoned their spaces, I kept mine going with an unusual degree of tenacity. In ten years, a lot has happened! There were First Publications, Artistic Awards, SO . MUCH . GLOBAL. TRAVEL , social media campaigns and amazing parties and experiences, and I somehow managed to keep catching the attention of the media and press. . . and through it all, of course, there was Street Art and Graffiti!

In 10 years, I have travelled to more cities and countries than I can actually remember. 89 stamps on my passport. I have lived in 12 cities around the world. I have had lots of ethereally-beautiful moments, and lots of disappointment … and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

I am still going to keep this blog alive and continue to update it, so do check back often. The updates may be dialled back a bit and perhaps not as frequent as the summer of 2012 when I was blogging THIRTEEN TIMES A DAY (it was New York, gimme a break), but there will be fabulous content nonetheless.

So please update your links and visit the new home of Writer/Author/Purveyor of Awesome Christine Estima!

**Redesign and development by Corbin Smith, whom ya’ll should hire for your web design/development needs


Storytelling in the Spotlight

A couple nights ago, I took to the stage at Raconteurs, a live storytelling/spoken word event here in Toronto. Many of you will remember when I performed at Spark London in the UK two or three times. Since then, I developed a taste for live storytelling, probably because it feeds into my need to be a ham, and talk about myself. Womp womp.

Last month, I performed at The Moth in New York City. That experience was probably the most exhilaration storytelling event of my life. There was easily 400 people in the crowd, and the massive standing-O and cheerful roar of applause after I was done was so galvanizing and fulfilling. They’re sending me the video footage of that night, and soon Raconteurs will upload the footage of my story to their YouTube. so stay tuned, munchkins. I hope to do Spark London, The Moth, and Raconteurs again. I listen to all of their podcasts, and am glad to be featured on there too!

Live storytelling feels like an obvious step in my evolution. I double-majored Theatre and Creative Writing for my undergraduate degree. Live storytelling combines them both, you get the performative aspects and the audience pay-off, but also you get to employ the nuances of language and creative non-fiction. I can pretend I’m one of those actor-writer types like Ethan Hawke (who has also performed at The Moth, fyi).

Expect to see more of me on the storytelling stage, my dudes. Dudebros. Brojangles.

Okay I’ll stop now.

Photography by 1nspireinc


2014 was the GIF that kept on GIFing

By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.

And I win.

Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!

Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.


Dancing on the streets of Bonn.


Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.


The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)


The Berlin eyes have it.


The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows


Art imitates life imitates art.


Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.


Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)


Where’s the Space Invader?


I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”


I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How…  brave…”


I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”


I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”


How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.


How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen


How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)


Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…

Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.


2014: The Year That Taught Me Exactly What I’m Made Of

I don’t know how to start this entry so I’ll just launch right into the heart of it:

I spent most of this year homeless, broke and starving on the streets of Europe.

And I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Most of you read this blog soley for all the amazing street art that I find (as you should, I have found some incredible and moving stuff!), and I don’t really talk about myself on this blog anymore. I’ve barely posted any photographs of me on here this year, so let’s change that right now before I launch into it all…

wind in my hair on Make A Gif

 

Ahhh, that’s better.

So here’s the skinny

I will try not to ramble on for brevity’s sake and because everyone has ADD, but perhaps you might take 5 mins to read this, as this post, like most of my posts, will be mostly photographs anyway.

I started off the year in London. It was rough from the beginning. I was freelancing a lot to pay my bills, but money was still tight tight tight! My friends kept insisting on paying for me just because they wanted me to come out and see them, but I felt pretty shitty about having my friends pay for me. I mean, they offered, but what kind of woman does that make me? Always relying on the generosity of friends? I refused the majority of the time.

Still I managed to have some wonderful early experiences in London, like being invited to speak THREE TIMES at Spark London, which is a live-storytelling event.

This below video is from my first and most popular story. It has almost 6,000 views on YouTube, I guess it resonated with people.

Also, as many of you remember, I was cast in Channel 4’s documentary series, First Dates. My episode, the premiere episode of the season, had millions of viewers and broke the internet. Here’s the trailer and some screencaps from my small screen glory:




But life in London was still giving me headaches. I won’t go into too much detail on this point, but I was being sexually harassed by someone who had stolen all of my contact details and had been to my house. I had to call the police just to get him to stop. I couldn’t even get him arrested, I could only get them to force him to stop. It was truly frightening to be the victim of something like this that was completely out of my hands. I didn’t know this person at all, and to have my details stolen like that and used for such nefarious purposes really shocked my system. I didn’t leave my flat for a week because I was petrified to walk outside and find him there. Bless the London Police, they were so kind and understanding and helpful and full of useful information.

But the money issue started to grate on me. London is too expensive for a freelancer like me, and when my uptight and awkward landlady (who would burst into my room when I was sleeping naked and demand I get her a paracetamol because she was sick… or would bore me to tears by yammering on about her ridiculous love life like it was any of my business) decided to raise the rent on me for no good reason, I decided enough was enough. London clearly doesn’t want me here, so fuck it, I’m leaving for something better.

Homeless

I consciously chose to be homeless. I stuffed everything I owned in the world into my backpack, and set off for mainland Europe. I didn’t have the money to pay rent, so I decided I just wouldn’t pay rent. I would get by with Couchsurfing and Housesitting. And those housesitting gigs would last for months, so I would get to stay in these cosmopolitan European capitals for free; places like Copenhagen, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels (and a smattering of smaller rural towns).

But it wasn’t easy. I was so broke that I was living off of €40 a week. A WEEK. That’s how much most people spend in one meal, and that is what I was LIVING off of for a week. There were some really lean moments where I was like, “Should I put the peanuts in the yoghurt, or have the peanuts as a side-dish?” For  example, the entire month that I lived in Paris, I only spent €150 in total, and that’s being generous. I couldn’t afford to take the trains anymore between cities, so I started hitchhiking… which any woman will tell you is, well, interesting. (The one time that I posted on Facebook about my hitchhiking, a friend that I haven’t seen in about 15 years since high school transferred money into my PayPal and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She was like, “TAKE IT AND GET ON A TRAIN DAMMIT” and I was moved to tears. People can be so kind). I’m ashamed to admit that I did a bit of dumpster-diving when I needed to. But the worst it ever got was when I was attacked in Brussels and in Paris. In Brussels, this guy smacked me right across the face in broad daylight. On the Paris Metro, I walked away with a huge welt on my thigh that lasted a month, and the tissue there is still sore, if I’m being honest.

Life as a waif isn’t all romantic and adventure. Sometimes it is pure depravity and despair.

But, for as bad as it was sometimes, I felt like going through all of this was good for me. Like I really needed it. The whole point is to go through a river of shit. The whole point is to crawl up a long ladder on your knees. That’s the whole point. Because it taught me exactly what I’m made of. I am resilient when the shit hits the fan. I am resourceful and crafty, sometimes hustler-charlatan, and sometimes the lucky beneficiary of the kindness of strangers. I never gave up. Going through the worst time of my life, oddly, was the best thing for me. I truly feel like the worst year of my life was also the best year of my life. I am so grateful this happened to me.

So how did I end up back in Toronto?

I was making some money freelancing, so I wasn’t completely in the shitter. I was even translated into Swiss-German when I sold a couple of articles to AufBau Magazine (and they paid me in SWISS FRANCS too! When you exchange that into Canadian dollars, it was more than double. I was like PIZZA FOR EVERYBODY!). But I couldn’t afford the planet ticket home. Then, the Polish Ministry of Economy who sent me on my #Polska14 adventure that you can read about here, paid for my transatlantic flight home. Without that, I would still be a wandering European nomad with no fixed address. So thanks, Poland!

Finding Meaning

Along this strange 12 month journey that was 2014, there were a lot of poignant and unique moments that will never come again. I was in Copenhagen during the Eurovision Song Contest, I was in Berlin when Germany won the World Cup, I was in Paris during the 70th anniversary celebrations of the liberation of Paris, I was in Amsterdam for their Remembrance Day, and I was in Brussels during Nuit Blanche.

I think one of my favourite moments of the entire year was in Amsterdam when my friend Laser 3.14 dedicated some street art to me.

But my favourite thing to do in all of these places (other than photograph street art, of course) was to visit the flea markets every weekend. Because I had no space in my backpack to actually buy anything of substance, the only thing I could buy on the flea markets were old love letters and monochrome photographs from 1900-1940s. The only spot I could keep them was in the space between my iPad and its case, because it was the only spot to keep them flat and safe. After a while, that little slot was bulging.

Here are some examples of what I managed to procure:

Most days I would spend all the money I had saved for eating on these photographs. I usually only ate 2 small meals a day anyway, and would load up on coffee during the day to suppress my appetite.







The small moments I never blogged…


Dancing with friends in London! Everybody in this photograph looks cool except for me. I need to increase my cool-game.

Celebrating World Cup in Berlin with friends! Aw Eric, tu me manques!

Enjoying the view of Berlin from the Klunkerkranich with my two favourite Germans!

Acrobatic performers at the Boxhagenerplatz flohmarkt in Berlin!

This photograph and street-art-hunt made it to the front page of WordPress!

In London, I was cast in a movie, and the costume/hair/makeup would take an hour every day. I was playing a 16th century Spanish lady in King Phillip’s court. My hair was teased, pinned, curled, and yanked within an inch of my life. That hat had to be SEWN INTO MY HEAD to keep it in place. And the corset & neck piece dug into my skin and took out huge chunks of flesh.

This is what my hair looked like after all the pieces were taken out of it.


Hanging out inside an 800-year-old tree in Copenhagen.


Overlooking Copenhagen!

At the Jewish Memorial in Berlin, which is a re-staging of a photograph I took of myself 8 years ago

Berlin olympic stadium … fuck yeah jesse owens.


Sachsenhausen….

Fireworks soar above the Brandenburg Gate the night that Germany won the World Cup

A massive drumming/capoeira parade in Paris that I just happened to stumble upon. They basically shut down Boulevard Saint-Denis!

Click on the volume button to hear! I made this and many other Vines, btw.

My last night in Paris, I cycled to L’Arc de Triomphe and just sat there, watching the city run circles around it.

Nuit Blanche in Brussels was a rainy, glorious night I will never forget. I love Brussels so much!



Overlooking the small medieval-walled village of Regensburg in the south of Germany.

Leaving Berlin, and for the last time too…

Dancing with the gang in Dalston… as all the hipsters do.

This was my housesit in Paris; a two-bedroom flat all to myself. Yes, I am a huge asshole.


And this was my housesit in Amsterdam. Being homeless isn’t all that bad.


Somedays I would wake up in my housesit and just be so happy!


Although, when I was Couchsurfing, some days I would wake up looking like this. Ugh. Don’t fuck with a recently-awoken woman!

Snugglecat in Brussels loves his kisses!


I saw Nils Frahm live in concert four times this year (for a total of 5 if you include last year).  Luckily he performed free concerts, so my broke-ass could still get a little culture. I saw him twice in Copenhagen….


…once in Berlin

…and then in Toronto!

Favourite 2014 Street Art Hunts


I found some amazing works this year, so it’s hard to pick the BEST, as everyone is a winner, but here are some highlights!
#1 Space Invader does Star Wars in London!

#2 Accidentally finding a Banksy in Copenhagen!

#3  El Bocho in Berlin, baby!

#4 Icy and Sot on the streets of Amsterdam!

#5 Finding 183 Space Invaders in one month in Paris!

#6 Jimmy C’s Ziggy Stardust mural in Brixton!

#7 Pablo Delgado in Dulwich!

#8 JR’s “wrinkles of the city” in Berlin!

#9 Roa in Dulwich!

#10 Phlegm in Dulwich!


Here are my greatest street-art hits from Instagram! What a year it’s been!

Favourite 2014 Albums

#1 Spaces by my beloved Nils. Although it came out in late 2013, it really picked up steam in 2014 so that’s why it’s included here. I would walk around my neighbourhood in South London (Crystal Palace) and would listen to Spaces as I wandered up and down the hills, and it kept me sane. Lend an ear to song “Says,” it will be the best 8 minutes of your life, I promise.

#2 Are We There by Sharon Van Etten. I would wander around Kreuzberg and Neükoln in Berlin, along the canal, sit on Admiralbrücke, drink a cola from the Späti, and listen to “Our Love” or “I Know” off this album and feel like someone else understood me finally.

Favourite 2014 Singles

#1 Enemies by Hannah Georgas. The song is simply gorgeous, but it was the music video for it that left me breathless. There’s something about that man’s face. I think it was his eyes. He broke my heart.

#2 Habits by Tove Lo. I know this song was pretty overplayed by the end of the year, but when it first came out, I would walk around Berlin during those hot summer nights when it’s still light out at 9pm, photograph street art, listen to this, and sing when I was sure no one was listening.

Favourite 2014 Films

#1 Grand Budapest Hotel, obviously! I saw this in London with Robin and we couldn’t stop talking about how great it was for hours afterward.

#2 Boyhood. I saw this in Berlin with David and he fell asleep during it, so it could have used a tighter edit (3 hours is too long, guys!) but it was still a tour-de-force.

Speaking of men…




10250319_10102185618515260_4203548847765856384_n




I was never lonely this year, let’s put it  that way.
Also… OMG BEARDS. EVERY MAN I KNOW HAS A SWEET, SWEET BEARD.

When it comes to the end…

Like I have for the past three years, I will be spending New Years in a country other than my own (2012 in Germany, 2013 in London, and now 2014 in….)

New York City!!


I’ll be housesitting (obvi) for a month (until the end of January) in the Upper West Side. Another place to live rent-free, another amazing city. I haven’t been in NYC since 2012 so it will be great to rediscover all my favourite places (Bushwick here I come!!) and also discover places I never knew before (I’m coming for you, Adele Bloch-Bauer).

NYC, like all the other cities I have lived in this year, is one of those places where you’re never bored. And if you are, you are doing it wrong.

So I’d like to end 2014 on a similar note:

“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say.
I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing.
So you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”

-Louis C.K.

2014 was never boring. May that continue in 2015.
See ya in NEW YORK CITY!!!


I made the front page of WordPress!

wordpress

WordPress likes to promote some of the hottest and most interesting blogs on their server, and my lil blog The Spadina Monologues was chosen as their first pick for Street Art!! This is a big deal, because not only was I featured on WordPress’s official blog, but they also sent out a newsletter to EVERY SINGLE WORDPRESS USER featuring my photographs.

I was wondering why my stats were going a big crazy.

So hello to all of my new followers and readers today! You have excellent taste.

This blog is almost exclusively about street art and graffiti, with a tinge of event-coverage and travel-stories, so if you liked what WordPress had to say about me, you’ll enjoy scrolling through the rest of this blog.

Let us celebrate this wondrous event by adding “Wind” to “Hair.”

wind in my hair on Make A Gif

Shameless?

Yes.

Unwashed hair?

Also yes.

Fanks WordPress and fanks to you, my munchkins, for your support 🙂


JR’s “The Wrinkles of the City” in Berlin: one year later

Last year, JR hit up Berlin for his project “The Wrinkles of the City” where he pasted his famous oversized portraits on some iconic architectural specimens found throughout the historic city. But unlike his Inside Out Project, these were portraits of the elderly, or at least, “more seasoned” people, in an effort to show the beauty that comes with age. I wasn’t able to come to Berlin last year, but I’m here now! Considering that street art usually has a very short shelf life, it was thrilling to find many of his works still visible and in great condition one full year later!

This was on the side of Ostbahnhof, across the street from the East Side Gallery.

This was also across the street from the East Side Gallery, but no one seemed to notice it. People were so consumed with taking assinine selfies next to the Berlin Wall, they didn’t bother to look around.

This beautiful find of Salvador Dali was up on Gustav Meyer Allee.  I had to hop a fence or two to get these shots.

See the hand? If you have ever taken a photograph with JR, as I have, you know that this is his hand-thingie-sign-whatchamacallit. I got it wrong when I took my picture with him in London. Anyway, when I found this huge piece, as you can see, it was covered by construction.

This is what it’s supposed to look like when all of this scaffolding isn’t obstructing it… bastards.

This piece used to take up the entire side of this building. I guess it didn’t withstand the elements very well.

This was on the side of Soho House, on a huge East Berlin boulevard that seemed oppressive and deserted. But I love how the fernsehturm (tv tower) in the background gives the wheatpaste a dimension and depth… and also GRAVITAS (i think that word is kind of silly, but it fits in this instance)…. gravitas.

This was underneath a bridge, near Friedrichstraße station. This one survived the elements pretty well! Yay, bridge-protection!

Unfortunately, the rest of the JR pieces around the city were untraceable to me… I searched for many of them but came up empty handed. Either they’re gone from the elements, or I had the wrong location information. But I’m happy these lovely pieces have survived a year!
Check out my JR category and my Inside Out Project category for more of his works that I’ve photographed around the world!


Borondo’s 12 Apostles

The other day, I’m wandering up Shoreditch High Street and I see this Borondo piece that appears to me made by scratching away at the paint already on the window. So I photograph the snot outta it, and I step to the side to Instagram it , and then this massive tour group shows up and gets all up in my grill. It’s clearly a street art tour group and the tour leader is telling them that it’s only a few days old and it depicts Jesus and the 12 Apostles, and Jesus’ face is the one that’s scratched out, and he’s holding his heart… and then the tour leader qualifies all this by saying he’s not sure.

I can’t believe people pay money for a street art tour! Dudes! ALL YOU NEED IS GOOGLE, GOOD WALKING SHOES AND A CAMERA! Every time I’ve been a tourist in a city, I’ve always found the best street art on my own. Why pay for something that IS FREE AND DEMOCRATIC?

Suckers abound, I s’pose.

Anyway, I’ve photographed Borondo before, and I heard FROM THE INTERNET WHICH IS FREE that he’s currently putting up a new mural in London, so I’ll endeavour to find that promptly.


Come to the #FirstDates wrap party on 12 April at Café de Paris

First Dates

So remember when I did that lil’ documentary series called First Dates? It aired last month, and the series is still on the airwaves until April. Well, once the show goes off the air, there will be Wrap Party here in London and you are invited. It will be at Café de Paris (between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square) on 12 April, and all the info you need to get on the list and into the par-tay is on the above poster. Most of the cast (including this wee Canadian lass) will be there, so join us in toasting our horrible, horrible flirting skills.

You’ll get to see more of my winning facial expressions like this:

… and this!

(in all honesty, this above facial expression is how i feel about dating in general, hahaha!)

…and this!

There will be laughter…

…and glances…

…and if not, you’ll be at home on your laptop, wishing you join in on the par-tay.

You can get a taste of my horrible flirts in the commercial for the show, below. So come on down, London, and watch me buy things myself. See ya on the 12th.

20140331-005118.jpg

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The Paris Selfie

I am a master at this. I am also shameless.


Space Invader in Bonn, Germany

We had found online photographs of about 7 or 8 Space Invaders in Bonn, but when we arrived last week, only ONE remained, the rest having been removed or taken down. DON’T THEY KNOW WHO ‘VADER IS?!

All these photos (and GIFs) are by LET, copyright remains with him. When I found this one and only Vader, I did a little moonwalk dance down the street. I’m too much Estima for these Germans to take.

And then I flew off the bridge and into the sky.

Check out my Space Invader category for all of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!


Bonn jour

dancing in bonn

We went to Bonn, the former capital of Germany and birthplace of Beethoven. Perfect place to dance off the walls.

Don’t forget to take the time to dance today, munchkins.


Brighton Rock

Love Always

 

 

my beautiful lars

lars walk

all smiles

the ghost

Brighton pier

bed hopping

shut up and kiss me

 


This is how I pay it forward

Something strange happened to me last week, which propelled me this week to bleed. Literally. But it didn’t hurt. In fact, it felt pretty tingly.

Here’s what happened.

Last week I was headed to an event in my grandmothers car. Lately I have had a distaste for driving. I prefer public transit and cycling, but because I live uptown, when I’m in a hurry or running late (which is often), I grab Sitto’s car (“Sitto” is Arabic for granny) and zoom downtown. Transit would take about 1hr 15mins, and cycling would take 90 mins to 2 hours (and leaving me rather sweaty in my cocktail dress and pumps). Driving takes maybe 20 minutes, but I have had several bad experience with traffic cops and traffic court lately that makes me hate getting behind the wheel.

What I hate most about driving is looking for parking. It’s expensive and it’s hard to find. Luckily on this evening I found a spot in a parking lot on the first try, but as I approached the metre to shove in my hard-earned twoonies and loonies, I noticed something strange.

Here in Toronto, when you fill the parking metre, a computerized ticket slides out the bottom and you place it on your dash. As I exclaimed to no one but myself how expensive the price of parking was at this particular lot, I noticed that a computerized ticket was already sticking out of the bottom slot.

I retrieved it and visually scanned it. Usually people discard their expired tickets in and around the metre, so I was expecting more of the same.

But no.

This was a ticket that had been fully paid for, and just left there. It hadn’t expired. In fact, it was valid until 7AM the following morning (12 hours later at this point).

WOO HOO! FREE PARKING!

Sometimes, people who swipe their credit cards in the metre think that because it’s taking so long to authorize, the transaction didn’t go through, and abandon the metre. So I scanned the ticket to look for credit card details.

There were none. This ticket was paid for in cash.

So there were three explanations. Either the person who paid for this ticket was horribly inept and baffled by a simple parking machine with clear instructions stickered to it, or this was part of a sting operation/hidden camera show to catch people red-handed taking other people’s parking tickets … or, this was some kind of pay-it-forward act of kindness from another person in my little city.

I spent about 5 minutes looking all around and over my shoulders for an unmarked cop car or a hidden camera crew to no avail, so I ruled that out. That left either someone’s stupidity or someone’s kindness.

And because I like to believe in the inherent kindness of strangers à la Blance duBois, I chose to believe the latter.

I put the ticket on my dash and enjoyed free parking all night.

I kept thinking about this for hours and hours after the fact. Well into the next day and night. It even kept me awake.

I like the pay-it-forward ethos and practice, although I haven’t actually put it into action, as far as I can recall, since I lived in Quebec as a little girl and left money purposefully behind in a park so that some other kids might find it.

I was jonesing for another opportunity to pay it forward, but wasn’t sure how.

 

As you guys know, I am embarking in a few days on a huge transnational extravaganza to Asia and Europe, so all of my money is currently being funnelled into those activities. So my pay it forward would have to be something beyond the realm of consumerism.

Besides, as the late great John Lennon said, you can’t buy me love.

I struggled with what I could do for days until one night I was engaging in my usual night time ritual of watching Christopher Hitchens debates on YouTube whilst doing Sudoku (both are exercises in improving your brain power, believe you me), when Hitchens proclaimed in one of his debates that his admiration is reserved for people who do good for their fellow human beings for the sheer joy of giving, rather than those who do it in exchange for prosthelytizing about their religion or out of fear of hell and the wrath of God. He said that one of his ways of doing such good was to give blood. He said that it was something that gave so much to your peers, whilst not really taxing you at all seeing as how your body replaces the blood anyway.

So at 11 o’clock at night, I called the Canadian Blood Services, made an appointment, and a few days later went into one of their clinics and donated a pint of my blood. I also signed up to be on the donor list for bone marrow and stem cells.

Okay, maybe the paid parking was just left there by a neurotic space-cadet who had no idea how to navigate even the simplest of tasks. If that’s the case, then they are probably horrible drivers. Horrible drivers cause accidents. Car accident victims almost always need blood transfusions.

The system works.

If you’re reading this, please consider this your invitation to pay it forward in your own way to your community.

And if you do, please let me know how you get on 😉

 

***The first photo at the top wasn’t actually taken as I donated blood. That was taken back in 2008 when I was hospitalized for three days for acute tonsilitis and glandular fever in London, England. You can read all about that clusterfuck here!


Love me till I’m me again

In a few days, my Thailand-Cambodia-SituAsian and my Eurail.com campaign begin, which will see me travelling, exploring, and adventuring away from home until at least 2013. And as this year turns into the next, I realize that I have just endured the hardest 12 months of my life thus far.

Avid readers of this blog will remember this post from August 2011, just over 13 months ago, from the same week that Jack Layton died. That day I was diagnosed with a scary medical condition – dyplastic cells with the ability to become cancerous.

Since that day, I have been cut, bled, swabbed, examined, biopsied, cell-scraped, blood-tested, ultra-sounded, reduced to tears whilst on the examining table, and pumped fulla immune-boosting pills.

Last week I had another one of my regularly-scheduled examinations at the hospital, and my doctor said that after having so many negative lab results (“negative” meaning “no occurrence of abnormality or cancer”), I’m in the clear. My body has fought this thing and flushed the dyplastic cells out of my body.

She had predicted my body would do this anyway, but she had said it would take two years. My body did it in one.

I’m relieved, I’m elated, and I can stop with the dress rehearsal of my life and actually resume living it. The hospital is still going to monitor me for certainty’s sake, but I only have to go in every six months, as opposed to every other month.

It could have been so different. Almost all of my friends who have also been diagnosed with this have had to have emergency surgery to remove the cells. What’s even more worrying is how many women this affects.

I haven’t really spoken about this condition on here over the past year, mostly because I feel like people’s medical history is a private matter. But I will also say that far too many women are not going for their annual check ups because of apathy. If caught early, dysplasia is almost entirely treatable and curable.

If left untreated, it becomes a killer of women. Worldwide it kills approximately 253, 500 people a  year. Remember, dysplasia has no symptoms,  so just because you feel fine doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

If I hadn’t gone for my annual check-up, I would still be in the dark. As would all of my friends who had the surgery, who would now be fighting for their lives.

Yes, this is my public service announcement post. There is nothing more important than your health, everything else can wait. Just make the appointment and go.

I’m talking about this now because my upcoming backpacking-extravaganzas are the epitome of living life, of loving life, of having new experiences, of meeting new people, of seeing the world, and the  never-say-die-run-til-you-drop joie de vivre.

Armed with good health, you can do anything.

Mae West once said, “You  only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

‘Course, comedian Jamie Lee once said, “My body is like my temple . . . because sometimes my Rabbi is in it.”

L’chaim, my little munchkins!


Ermahgerd! I’m returning to Europe with Eurail.com!

Some MORE exciting travel news to announce! This has been in the works for a little while now and I’ve had to keep a lid on it, but now I’ve been given the green light to tell all of my little munchkins!

I have been selected by the good people at Eurail.com to blog, tweet, vlog & photog my way across Europe, armed with some wanderlust and a Eurail Global Pass. I have to hit up at least 12 cities in my favourite continent within 30 days, along with the challenge of posting daily about the adventures I’ll have, the people I’ll meet, the wonderful places I’ll see, and relaying some tips, tricks, and advice about rail travel.

But there’s a catch (of course!):

I have to live on €15 a DAY.

A DAY, PEOPLE!

Eurail.com will provide me with the rail pass and the funds, I just have to use the funds EXTREMELY WISELY.

FINALLY MY PARSIMONIOUSNESS IS BEING PUT TO GOOD USE!

Many of you are probably thinking you could never travel on such a tight budget. Well, as the most frugal backpacker on the planet, I am here to tell you that yes you can.

Many people don’t travel because they think they can’t afford it, that it is a luxury reserved for the rich and idle. I know from years of travel experience that, as long as you rely on your resourcefulness & ingenuity, remain flexible, read the fine print, and pre-plan, you can have an amazing holiday adventure that costs less than a day’s wage. And guess what, you don’t have to skimp on luxury or security (or hygiene, haha) just because you’re not paying top dollar.

I’m going to start this European extravaganza directly after my Thailand & Cambodia Situation (which I have tentatively dubbed The SituAsian. See what I did there?), so expect a more detailed plan of attack around mid-November.

 

So how did I score this deal?

Many of my long-time readers know that I work hard to have a social media presence. Interacting and engaging in social media has not only rewarded me with writing gigs (yay paycheques!) but also with a quality of living I wouldn’t normally be able to afford (I always say that if I wanted to be rich, I wouldn’t have become a writer).

Everything from VIP music performances (DeadMau5, Dragonette, Estelle, USS, et.al.) and Toronto International Film Festival galas (barf!), to major travel opportunities.

Ford lent me car so I could take a road trip to Montreal.

Karikuy Tours sent me to Peru so I could climb Machu Picchu.

And Via Rail put me on the cross-Canada train from Toronto to Vancouver, culminating in my lecture at the Social Media Week Conference about my experiences.

And by the grace of Twitter, that’s how I managed to be selected for this opportunity as well. A little over a month ago, I saw this below tweet pop up in my feed.

It generated a lot of discussion in the travel circles, and I noticed a lot of travel bloggers vying for the gig. I ruminated on this opportunity for a few days before finally getting in touch with them and making a case for myself. I had a lot of ideas, and of course a lot of travel experience, so I knew if I were chosen for this I would definitely be able make the experience worthwhile & exciting.

After about a month of discussion and negotiations (they raised it from €10 a day to €15 a day! PHEWF!), Eurail.com chose me for the experience!

ERMAHGERD! TERVERL!

I will be revealing more details about this cross-European extravaganza around mid-November. Right now I have to divert all my efforts into preparing for my Thailand-Cambodia-SituAsian (I’m sticking with that name, I don’t care what you say).

In the meantime, munchkins, I hope more of you will be encouraged to push yourselves out of your comfort zone & experience something new!

Get cape.
Wear cape.
Fly.


have a spin on my propeller


this is how i weed out substandard suitors.

she’s not aware yet but she’s yours. she’ll be saying use me, show me the jacuzzi.

get off the bandwagon and put down the handbook.

your pastimes consisted of the strange and twisted and deranged.

fuck yeah alex turner!

enjoy the weekend, munchkins! make sure you spend it listening to your favourite band while dancing around your room in your undies with the blinds WIDE OPEN. (Hi neighbours!)


we need to talk about kevin


 

Eva: Why didn’t you kill me?

Kevin: You don’t want to kill your audience.