This is why the EPA matters.

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All photographs courtesy of the DOCUMERICA collection in the  U.S National Archives Flickr.

Above: Contaminated waterways, algae blooms, dead fish, uncovered coal trains, strip mining activities, soil that won’t grow anything due to contamination, sulphur gas being emitted, oil spills…..

The EPA was created in 1970 to assess, research, and keep track of the environment in the United States. In the early 1970’s, the United States government sent out several photographers to document the state of the nation. What the photographer’s images revealed, in the early stages of the EPA, was massive contamination of water, pollution of major waterways (including the Potomac), dead and dying fish, pristine landscapes planned for strip mining, and other atrocities.

Today, 46 years later, the human impact on Earth has only become more significant. Climate change is real, as is our rapidly growing global population. The United States, which prides itself on being a global leader (as a historian I can go off on a tangent about that later…) has a duty to help lead the way to enforcement of environment protections, research to preserve our environment, develop technologies that have less of a carbon/energy footprint, and protect our natural environment as well as encourage reclamation of areas that were previously developed for such activities as mining, dumping, etc.

Thanks to the EPA, more and more of us have clean drinking water, we have preserved coast lines, deserts, Arctic regions, forests, and prairies. We have quick responses to oil spills, and those companies get investigated swiftly. We have relatively clean air in most parts of the United States, and most of us (still not all) can live without fear of contaminated soil in our gardens. (As a Montanan, our resource extraction legacy still leaves us with contaminated waterways, energy development projects that threaten our national parks, contaminated soils, garbage piles, and the like.)

If you want rivers that catch on fire, if you want irresponsible, outdated energy development (don’t get me started on coal), irresponsible reclamation if any at all, polluted air, more and more endangered species, and oil spills that don’t get immediate attention and lawsuits for those companies, let’s turn back the clock almost half a century. If not, let’s look forward and do good on this beautiful Earth we all live on.

The act of seeing.

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Odds and ends on film. Right now it is windy and clouds are being pushed past my window quickly. I’ve been busy working on a section of my thesis that is due in a few days- and I’m so nervous to send in what I’ve got! I’ve been editing, re-writing, re-organizing, and trying to find some semblance of lucidity in my own writing. Perhaps in my life as well?

Moonage daydream

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This weekend was spent with good humans. One of the highlights was going to karaoke with a bunch of friends on Friday. Morgan and I did a killer job at singing “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals, and we drank Campari at a a bar/barber shop earlier. And yes, the bar/barbershop establishment was ridiculously trendy. While I was waiting for the washroom there was literally a dude getting his hair cut behind me. At 9:30 pm. On a Friday night. In a bar.

32760100471_e351f8c9f5_c32760096541_35a2acb4ef_cSaturday I spend in some botanical gardens, and then devouring pho with Kaitlin. I walked a lot this weekend, as my mind and heart feel very full. I miss my home, I miss my loved ones, and I miss life when it wasn’t so complex. 2017 will hopefully be better than 2016 was but I know that it will be saturated with challenges I can only welcome, as the only other choice is to dread them and that would mean such a waste of energy. Trying to stay on top of everything that needs doing is overwhelming, and sometimes it gets really hard when my partner is living in another country and I can’t even go and get a hug when I need one.

Nonetheless, the words that define this year already continue to be important: survive/resist/resilient. Kaitlin and I were discussing how to let go of the toxic environment where the news only seems to get worse and everything seems dim and dark. For me, long walks and a good playlist always help. I am lucky to live in a pretty safe city where I can go on walks late at night by myself and feel fairly comfortable doing so, and I know I’ve talked about this on this blog a lot in the past, but long walks are the only thing sometimes that make me feel sane. What do y’all do to keep your heads on straight?

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Anyway, this morning’s walk was marvelous. It was a gorgeous, clear morning here, and the sunrise was epic. I said good morning to older folks on their morning strolls and listened to birds and saw so many crows (crows are the best!). I wore this grey/blue wool turtleneck dress, which essentially is the antithesis of attractive in every way- and that’s kind of my clothing aesthetic I guess? I love wearing lipstick and having my makeup done well but when it comes to clothes challenging ones are better. Big, thick sweaters, turtlenecks, loose shirts, high collars, longer hems, tights- things that hide my body or distort my shape feel safer in a lot of ways and they turn the focus away from my physical self and the value that society puts on it. I feel freer and also more anonymous when I wear things that hide my body. If this sounds strange I am 100% positive there are lots of great writers across the gender spectrum who write about disguises/clothing/dressing for anonymity and comfort and other marvelous topics. Leave me to fumble with my words, thank you very much.

I hope y’all had a glorious weekend and welcome the week with optimism! We must all keep our chins up, as hard as that can be a lot of the time.

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Garden Wanders

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The Gardens were way more affordable than the Butchart Gardens, and even though there wasn’t much blooming yet, I feel like during the later spring/summertime it would be a marvelous way to experience some gorgeous gardens on a budget! The way that the Gardens are landscaped gives you multiple paths to wander, lots of different areas to explore (a Japanese garden, a winter garden, an herbs garden, etc.), and many benches/sunny spots to sit and take in all the beauty that is naturalia. They have lovely little posts in the soil that tell you what species you are looking at, and I have to say that even the smell of the earth was amazing. Morgan and I both agreed that we wanted to come back when more things are active- but we did have the whole gardens to ourselves!

If you want to learn more about the Gardens at HCP check out their website!

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Venice|Venezia

32014046303_a638e049b1_c32014046863_94263edfe6_c32828552745_56b5e19fa5_c32014047133_3fe9b21f8d_c32014048633_0b980fd619_c32014049353_f000a73690_cI learned a valuable lesson from a friend back in my undergrad. On a trip to Florence and Tuscany, my roommate/friend Lexi taught me, a photograph amateur, to always keep a folder of untouched, original files, and then make copies to edit. Thankfully, through this wisdom, even though my camera was horrible, I managed to salvage thousands of pictures of my “CONTRAST IS GOD” phase- where literally any photo, no matter what, was worthy of being destroyed through heavy contrast and manipulation. I cringe internally thinking about such times…but the original files remain for me to enjoy!

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And so, without further adieu, here are some photographs of a few days my beautiful mother and I spent meandering aimlessly around Venice|Venezia in May of 2010. We had a great time sipping coffees, eating sandwiches, admiring architecture, ducking into shops, and smelling that strange smell that haunts most of Venice. We encountered dogs that knew the city like the back of their hands (paws?), ate a lot of baked goods, had some Italian ladies make fun of my mum’s sneakers on the train (they didn’t know I could understand them, even with my bad 9 months of Italian classes), and I took a lot of naps (sorry Mum). We ate at a delicious pizza place whose name escapes me almost 7 years later.

I hadn’t looked at these photographs in years and today I realize how awesome it was for my mother, who had never left North America, to come spend a few weeks with me travelling. My mother is one of the most hardy, intelligent, and creative human beings I know, and as I get older I realize more and more how much I admire her. Mums are amazing creatures in general, but mums who travel across the world solo like a pro on their first go are pretty wicked.

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Chinon Auto 3001 camera

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I found a boxy little camera at a thrift store, went to 6 different shops and found the obscure battery, and took it out for a test drive.

The Chinon Auto 3001 is a sturdy little camera with a clamshell lens cover. It’s got a f/2.8 lens, a fill flash, an auto flash (that you can turn off) and no manual I could find on the internet.

So, on one of my meandering walks and over the course of a few evenings, I tried to shoot some test film on 2 rolls of Fujifilm. The results: Not too shabby. Obviously I need to test the auto-focus features more (it is supposed to be pretty good with the AF features) but it seems like a handy little beast to have around!

My greatest regret is that you cannot see the marvelous extra toes on Coco the cat’s little feet! She has polydactylism, which means that her feet have more toes than they should, and her adorable little paws look like little muffins!

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Snow in Victoria

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This morning, I woke up earlier than usual and decided to venture outside and photograph this strange, snow covered world. It was almost totally devoid of humans. I got to see a large bald eagle make it’s pathetic noises (seriously, how does such a regal animal make such pitiful sounds?) and hear birds and other animals pitter-patter in the brush.

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Kodak Yellow

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My love affair with Kodak film has been going strong for years. My mother generously gave me her Olympus OM-G 35mm SLR in my first year of college, patiently taught me how to use the manually attached flash, how to load film, how to change it, and then let me figure out everything else.

This was back in the day, y’all. This was back when film was still fairly abundant (back in 2009!), when Target carried Kodak film with instant cameras and batteries, back when you could still go to CVS and find dusty boxes of almost-expired drugstore brand film and quietly ask if you could get it discounted because it was almost about to be no good. Gah, the good old days! (Yes, I am sitting on a front porch yelling at kids to get off my lawn as I type this.) You could still get 35mm film developed at CVS, Costco, Walmart, Target, Walgreens…wherever! Nowadays, most drugstores don’t bother, as when their developing machines broke I believe it became policy for the corporations to not repair them any more…

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…Anyway, to this day, despite the changes in photography culture, the goldenrod hues of Kodak roll film always quietly whisper promises of beautiful colors, of lush reds and rich skin tones. Kodak 400 speed film has always my preferred film, and my grandfather always favored Kodak over Fujifilm, saying that Fujifilm was far too focused on the green and blue tones of things (which is still true- I buy a lot of Fujifilm because it is cheaper than Kodak but the tones are very different).

So, when I learned that Opening Ceremony had done a small capsule collection with Kodak, I freaked out. Yes, it came out in Fall 2015. Yes, it was for men. Nonetheless, when I found out, I immediately went and looked. Did I want the gorgeous leather jacket that cost something like $500? Oh yes, yes. However, on my budget all I could justify was buying the OC hat I wear in some of these pictures. It was a Christmas gift to myself, and if that sounds silly it’s because it really is. This hat has the gorgeous colors of Kodak film, along with the timeless logo, and it’s a loud little beanie (tuque if you’re in Canada, which I am, which I can still never call a hat like this a tuque).

Paired with this goldenrod shirt and my omnipresent Dr. Marten boots, I feel a little intimidating and a little nostalgic, and that’s quite alright with me. I got to see a lot of crows this morning and some ducks and get rained on a little bit, and all of that was just fine, too. Now, back to writing the introduction to my thesis!

P.S. I picked up a funky little film camera for $8 at a thrift shop that has a pretty decent reputation and so I’m trying to run some film through it! Stay tuned for scans sometime this week! There will be cat pictures.

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The makeup post.

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To follow up with my skincare post I thought I would share some of the beauty products I love and use regularly!

There are lots of great beauty bloggers out there who focus on using more natural/organic based products and others who focus on luxury products or more high-end. I’m from Montana, where my access to high-end makeup shops was super limited growing up, so I always used drugstore products. Now that I live in Canada and beauty products cost so much more, I have also consistently stuck with using drugstore products.

Again, I am poor and I am lazy. I love trying new products but because my look is pretty consistent, if products don’t fit into my routine well enough they get reserved for special events or for when I’m feeling creative. This is my super pared down, every day routine.

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Eyebrows:

CoverGirl Perfect Blend Eyeliner in Mink

Maybelline Brow Drama Sculpting Brow Mascara in Soft Brown

I fill in my eyebrows with this eyeliner- I’ve been using it for years. The formula feels good on my skin, the color matches perfectly, and it stays on for a long time, yet comes off with micellar water easily.

I know that a lot of people were on the fence about the weird looking Maybelline brow mascara but I personally like it. It speeds up the process of shaping my brows a lot. I abandoned the Nyx Tinted Brow Mascara because the packaging breaks apart SO QUICKLY (seriously Nyx get your shit together- it shouldn’t be so fragile!). As somebody who needs to be able to throw things in my bag, the sad packaging of Nyx products have made me stop using most of them.

Eyes:

L’Oreal Paris Waterproof Voluminous Carbon Black mascara

L’Oreal Paris Silkissime Eyeliner in Black

CoverGirl Perfect Blend Eyeliner in Mink

I blend both eyeliners on my top lash and use 2 coats of the mascara. All of these products last a long time, and the mascara stays on despite the humidity and frequent rain here without giving me under-eye raccoon vibes!

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On to my favorite part: Lipsticks! I have become blatantly obsessed with the Maybelline Color Sensational matte lipsticks. The formula stays on for hours, is easy to apply, and the colors are fucking gorgeous. See photograph below! Gahhhh.

From top to bottom on the swatch:

Raging Raisin makes me feel like wearing all black, spending time with a resurrected Humphrey Bogart, and heading off in a 1930’s coupe to go day drink and banter.

Touch of Spice warms my skin tone and makes me think of the 70’s in the best ways. For some reason it also makes me want to read in brightly lit cafes and it vaguely reminds me of traveling around Italy.

-Toasted Truffle is a no-nonsense deep brown that makes me feel intimidating and invincible, as well as sexy in an aggressive way that I like. It’s a peculiar color in the best way!

-Lust for Blush is a 1950’s garden party sort of lipstick, the kind you’d wear with a vintage Christian Dior dress and with a perfect martini in your hand as you think that your life is perfect but the patriarchy is really limiting your options.

And there you have it! The products I come back to time and time again on my limited budget and my impatient habits. Happy trails y’all! Tell me some of your favorite products you come back to again and again!

 

 

My (affordable, lazy) skincare routine

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I am no skincare product pro. I would like to make that very clear before I go on. There are marvelous humans across the gender spectrum out there who know so much more about beauty products, skincare, etc. much more than me.

However, my skincare routine has been finessed after years and years of frustratingly stubborn acne and dryness. I also have eczema on my face in some small patches (I will be doing a post about skincare specifically for those of us with eczema!) so my skin is a delicate flower in the worst way. And, having finally wrestled my way into a routine that works, I wanted to share!

My focus lies on not using a lot of products and keeping my routine efficient and cheap because I am lazy and poor (hey grad school!). I only use three products every single day all over my face- an astringent, micellar water, and sunscreen (all from the drugstore!). I apply Aveeno lotion to special parts of my face that are especially sensitive at night so that my skin can heal.

Again, I will be doing a post about eczema and what works for me, but eczema literally means that your skin cannot retain moisture the way that normal skin does, so it’s vital for me to always be moisturizing the eczema-prone parts of my face (otherwise I get what I kindly refer to as lizard skin). Now! Let’s begin.

Daily routine! Morning: I pour a little bit of Clean and Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent on a cotton pad and apply it all over my face. Not too much because there’s acid in there, guys.

Then, I apply a more liberal amount of Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water (the waterproof makeup version). I usually brush my teeth or get dressed so that it has time to be on my face before I apply my sunscreen.

After this (you tired yet?) I apply a liberal amount of Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch SPF 30 sunscreen to my face, neck, and chest. I want to be a nice looking old woman and this is the major step in this plan. Decades down the road I cannot wait to look like a fox because I was a nut about sunscreen! I don’t wear any foundation, so I’m ready to go after this! (Lazy, lazy, lazy.)

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Nighttime: I remove all my makeup every single night before I go to bed. Even after a late night out/alcohol/just tired because of humanity! Because seriously my eyelashes are healthier and longer now, and my skin/every part of my face has looked so much better after I became neurotic about this. My nighttime routine is about the same- astringent and micellar water. I do not moisturize before bedtime, which perhaps is a really bad thing (I don’t wear sunscreen at night, and I haven’t found a plain moisturizer I like to wear overnight), but I do use Aveeno sensitive skin lotion/baby lotions for the sensitive (lizard skin) parts of my face.

Bi-weekly and weekly products: 

I use my Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser about 2/3 times a week in the shower. I don’t use anything else in the shower anymore, and this stuff has really made a difference in the evenness of my skin! It can be super drying, though, so if you have sensitive skin don’t go overboard (again, acid y’all). I skip using my astringent at nighttime if I use it that day. A little bottle of this lasts me several months and it’s $16, which is pretty reasonable.

Weekly/Every other week: I use the Mario Badescu Silver Powder. It only has 3 ingredients and is super easy to use- you get a cotton pad or ball damp and dip it into the powder and apply the mask-like mixture to your T-zone. Do be warned: As it dries, it powders off your face, so for the 10 minutes you leave it on I would be somewhere you don’t mind snowing Silver Powder everywhere. Is it a bit weird? Yes. Does it help for pores/blackheads? I think so! It’s also affordable, because you don’t use a lot and at $12 a jar it goes a looonnnggg way.

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There you have it! My affordable, minimal, and easy to use skincare routine. I do want to find a retinol to incorporate into this formula but honest to god since moving to Canada I balk at all the prices for skincare products. (I bring back everything from Target or Ulta when I go home- no way am I paying ridiculous prices plus taxes here!) Until I make a trip to the States again and can get my hands on (bless you Montana!) some tax-free goods I’m sticking with this.

This is my personal beauty regimen, one developed over years of trial and error like most of us. Thank goodness for beauty bloggers who have helped guide me over the years (shoutout to Arabelle Sicardi, that marvelous human!).

A new favorite: Caffe Fantastico

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I have realized that my words do little justice but that my images do. Caffe Fantastico was bright, friendly, affordable, and well laid out. It was large but not sterile, and the food is delicious. It’s the sort of place you can see yourself wiling away a few hours lost in a book or typing out something for class.

It was really necessary to have a good chat with some friends there the other day. These days it feels so easy to fall into the blues and feel useless but being able to have uplifting experiences with good souls over warm coffee will never fail to make me feel a little stronger.

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Thesis beast and Primavera.

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Just some photos I have accumulated that don’t fit any particular theme of any one post. Some photos of some snowdrop flowers I found in all their tenacious, early spring glory. Cheerful homes I walk by on my walks to combat the intense anxiety that threatens to swallow me whole. Bits and bobs of books in the library, including the best label that reminds people that defacing books is, in fact, a crime.

Eating everything: Realm Food Co.

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Realm Food Co. is tucked away on a non-assuming street in Parksville, British Columbia. Parksville, which has a population around 12,000 people, is a small beach town that doesn’t exactly scream that it’ll have wicked food choices. However, when we walked into the bright, beautifully decorated interior, it seemed like our stomachs would thank us after multiple days of buffet hotel meals. A man played the piano quietly and beautifully in the corner. The place was packed, which is always a sure sign of quality!

It was Sunday morning, and Realm’s brunch menu featured some amazing looking tacos, Tailside Toast (their avocado toast), eggs benedict in a variety of delicious ways, and a whole menu of smoothies. Having quietly turned my nose up at avocado toast in restaurants to this point in my life, I finally ordered it- it was one of the cheaper options, after all!

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We settled into a bright blue vinyl booth and awaited the plates of food. I imagined petite pieces of bread with some little slices of avocado, paltry amounts of bourgeois hipster grub. Instead, all of us got amazing amounts of delicious food at really fair prices (mine, which was topped with an egg, was $10.50 total!). If you’ve waded into the deep, beloved habit of brunch on the island, you get used to paying close to $15 for a brunch plate of food- and god forbid if you get coffee! It was a relief, frankly, to be able to afford breakfast.

The food was also really, really pretty. Yeah, I said it. The thing you’re not supposed to say. Because even though we all Instagram our meals 24/7, our beautiful lattes and gorgeous salads and meaty burgers, saying it out loud (er…typing) makes it all sound ludicrous.

In summary: Delicious, affordable, beautiful. Super friendly staff, low key vibes, and comfy booths. Would highly recommend! Check out their website for more information. 

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Standing together, supporting one another.

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After learning about the horrific shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec in Quebec City, several friends and I decided to make a trip to our local mosque, Masjid Al-Imam. I have never lived in a community where a mosque was present (Montana and Italian Switzerland aren’t the most…ahem…diverse of communities). Victoria has one on Quadra Street, and it felt absolutely necessary to go, drop off flowers, cards, and letters, and spend a few minutes giving our grief and love to the Muslim community here and everywhere.

As a white, non-religious woman I have never faced religious discrimination. I have never lived in fear because of my faith. I have lived a life free of many fears that have affected others deeply. Being able to go, leave a letter and flowers, and express my sympathy and support for my Muslim neighbors and community members felt good. It’s not enough, and what we did was a tiny, tiny act, but it’s a start.

As we purchased flowers at the market, the cashier asked us who the flowers were for. We responded, “We’re taking them to the mosque!” and she replied, “Oh! That’s wonderful!”. When we got to Masjid Al-Imam, there were already gorgeous piles of flowers, letters, cards, signs, and a few lit candles, all saying that there are people who care, who love, who support. A man was outside the mosque and thanked us profusely as we deposited our flora and cards, and we shook his hand and told him thank you. It meant so much to have him recognize our attempts, as small and potentially meaningless as they were, at voicing our solidarity and resistance to hate.

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I am tired of feeling useless. As my motherland descends deeper into madness, being able to physically go and pay respects and show solidarity was important. There are two vigils/meetings happening in Victoria this week to honor those whose lives were cut short by a white, violent terrorist.

It is better to remember the names of those who have passed than to remember the terrorist, so I pay my respects to Mamadou Tanou Barry, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Azzeddine Soufiane, and Ibrahima Barry, who were praying at their mosque. I cannot even begin to comprehend how their families must feel or how their communities are grieving.

What we must do is educate ourselves in these times. We must not be ignorant, we must pay attention and stay involved. We must attend vigils, marches, read real newspapers, and be loving. We must be willing to learn, to be uncomfortable and to be open minded, even more than we might already be. Fear and darkness do not help stop such horrible things from happening. Love and support do.

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Qualicum Beach

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This weekend most of my fellow grad students and I went up to Parksville to present our papers at an annual conference there. Having not been very far up the island, I relished the opportunity to see more outside of Victoria.

When we arrived, we checked into our rooms. Sliding open the balcony door I could immediately smell the sea and feel the breeze. However, there was no time for nice reflections: we were going to eat dinner and then edit our papers in a sea of stress, making sure that presenting them the next day would go as smoothly as possible.

I slept horribly. Perhaps stress, perhaps sharing a room with 3 other beings. Perhaps it was eating an enormous burger at dinner. Speculating doesn’t matter- what mattered was that as I woke up at 6 am after having been awake since 3 am, I felt like I wanted to crawl into a copse of trees outside the hotel and bury myself under leaves and not awaken until summertime.

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Luckily, presenting my paper (on blood transfusion methods and development in World War I and World War II!) went smoothly! Some really lovely people asked marvelous questions and the two other people on my panel (my fellow MA candidate Dmitry and a really lovely women named Katie) did epic presentations on their research.

The conference had us eating via meal tickets we were given. The meals were buffet style- relatively edible, not great, but not horrible either. There was, however, a  never ending supply of coffee at all hours of the day, and as I sipped my 6th cup of coffee over dinner I mused if I was going to make it past 8pm. Thank goodness for caffeine.

Overall I managed to find time with some friends to go on walks outside the cramped, stressed out hallways of the conference venue. We could see over to the mainland from where we stood, and the view was gorgeous. Being near the ocean will never get old for me. It was a joy to explore a new part of the island, and it was fantastic to go see amazing papers given on such subjects as Frank Buck the animal collector, racialized bias in asylums in British Columbia, narwhals in aquariums, and the first digital computers built after World War II.

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