Graffiti Watch: Part 1

There’s just something about street art that is captivating.

It might be the striking colours, the envy of artistic abilities or the story they’re telling, but whatever it is, it’s a nice welcome change to an otherwise grey city landscape.

And if there’s something Toronto is known for, it’s beautiful graffiti. So that’s why I’ve created “Graffiti Watch”, a little blog series that shows some of the beautiful art the city offers.

Take a look below and see if you can figure out what story this mural is trying to tell.

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Weekend at Dani’s

Well this was certainly a way to kick off my stay in good ol’ T.Dot.

After speeding through my first week at Global, I had a bit of free time on the weekend and that consisted of some family time, shopping and some good eatin’.

Me, Nikki, Kassy, Sarah
Me, Nikki, Kassy, Sarah in Nikki’s apartment just before our shopping adventure.

Nikki’s mom, aunt and two cousins came down to celebrate her aunt’s birthday and the first thing we did to celebrate was…what else? SHOP! We headed down to the Eaton’s Centre and this was my first time experiencing that. But I got to say, I was a little disappointed. People have talked it up so much for me that I was expecting a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still huge and amazing, but me being a professional shopper, I was able to finish the whole mall in one afternoon (and that’s including lunch).

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Toronto’s Eaton Centre from the top floor. With over 230 stores, it’s any shopper’s paradise.
As part of the Medieval Times experience, everyone is given a coloured crown depending on which section you sit. This is your section's knight. We had the "green knight," and he was totally the Heath Ledger of the group.
As part of the Medieval Times experience, everyone is given a coloured crown depending on which section you sit. This is your section’s knight. We had the “green knight,” and he was totally the Heath Ledger of the group.

Then for dinner we went to the Medieval Times. And, thankfully, they served my favourite meal: chicken and ribs with garlic bread, tomato soup and roasted potato. Now, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the Times, there are no utensils. You must eat your entire meal with just your hands. While watching a live show surrounding a horse pit. Mmm! It may not sound sanitary, but I’m sure it is. Otherwise, I’m questioning the food inspection agency. All joking aside, this was seriously one of the best meals I’ve had. I’m a real meat-and-potatos girl, so this was right up my alley. And just before the show they stick everyone in this area filled with stuff to buy. And to pass the time until the prepare the eating area, they have “knighting” ceremonies. Two couples got engaged. Not sure how I’d feel getting proposed to in a paper crown, but good for them.

The jousting begins! I only wish I had a handkerchief to give to a knight as a token of my appreciation.
The jousting begins! I only wish I had a handkerchief to give to a knight as a token of my appreciation.
The waiting area. It's really just a trap for you to buy souvenirs and alcohol, but it passes the time. It's also torture because you really want to eat and don't care about whatever it is they're selling you.
The waiting area. It’s really just a trap for you to buy souvenirs and alcohol, but it passes the time. It’s also torture because you really want to eat and don’t care about whatever it is they’re selling you.
And because our knight one a competition, he threw me and a couple of other ladies int he audience a flower. He totally fought in my honour.
And because our knight one a competition, he threw me and a couple of other ladies int he audience a flower. He totally fought in my honour.

So that was my first Saturday, folks! But as fun as Saturday was, Sunday offered up an experience that made my weekend. You’ll just have to wait and find out on my next post.

One week down, five more to go

What a week it has been.

I officially started my internship with the Global News online team and my first day already had me writing a story. I had no time to get acquainted, I was thrown right in. Just the way I like it.

photo 4-5I was given my desk (yes, my own desk) and then told the editorial meeting was every morning at 10 a.m. So instead of just sitting at my desk waiting for the meeting to start, I began research possible story ideas right away. So far, all three stories I’ve pitched have been picked up. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Besides that, I’ve reported everything from politics to health to beer. I’ve not only written stories but I’ve also provided infographics for others, something that I’ve really started to love doing this year.

My stories are even generating conversation online. I think this is what makes me most excited because it means I’m getting people talking, getting them to care and listen. It’s really fun to see what people are saying about the content, rather than reading comments concerning grammar or punctuation. It’s actually conversation and it makes me happy! And although this isn’t super important, I found out the building has a ping pong table for employees. That. Is. Amazing.

photo 4-8Now, transportation in this city is interesting. It is definitely an upgrade from Ottawa, but it did take a little bit to get used to. Having spent a summer in New York and visited the place more than a dozen times, I thought I had the subway thing down pat. And I still do, but in Toronto, you don’t just take the subway, you have to divide your trip between that, the bus and the streetcars. But it obviously depends on where you’re going.

photo 2-5Anyways, first thing was first: grocery shopping! Now, I don’t know if you’ve visited the Loblaws at the old Maple Leafs Centre, but it is insane. It’s an event in itself. I mean, the bakery is just crazy. And anyone who knows me knows that I am a major fan of sweets.

photo 1-5But with all my ups came a downside. I was, unfortunately, part of Scotiabank’s glitch that happened just before I got to Toronto so I was without money for most of the week. It was interesting to see how I would live off of $40 for four days, but I made it happen. Mostly, I just didn’t do anything that required money, I just explored the area and travelled to and from work. But I imagine that will not be happening in the next coming weeks now that I have money because my roommate Nikki and I have plans to visit the Ripley’s Aquarium, the Toronto Zoo, Graffiti Alley, Kensington Market and a whole lot more.

All in all, it was a very productive week. I don’t think my family would believe me if I told them about all of my adventures in grocery shopping, house work and meal preparations, but I swear it did all happen.

If you’re interested to read any of the stories I wrote this week, the links are below:

INFOGRAPHIC AND COPY: St. Patty’s Day makes March a big month for beer, right? Wrong
http://globalnews.ca/news/1208845/st-patricks-day-beer-march/

COPY: Quebec carries Canada’s highest debt, study says. But do voters care?
http://globalnews.ca/news/1204062/quebec-carries-largest-debt-in-the-country-study/

INFOGRAPHIC: How much sugar should you be eating?
http://globalnews.ca/news/1203149/how-much-sugar-should-you-be-eating-how-to-follow-whos-guidelines/

COPY: Health Canada warns against faulty glucose strips
http://globalnews.ca/news/1201482/health-canada-warns-about-faulty-glucose-strips/

COPY: Quebec election: What does Pierre-Karl Peladeau own?
http://globalnews.ca/news/1199040/what-does-pierre-karl-peladeau-own/

Ladies and Gents, I have arrived

Photo by Dani-Elle Dubé
Photo by Dani-Elle Dubé

After weeks of waiting and four-hand-a-half hours crammed inside an SUV, I’ve made it to Toronto and let me just say, it’s nothing like how I remember it.

Everyone kept telling me that this city was Canada’s answer to New York City. And yes, I can see why they would say that, but I think it reminds me a lot more of Montreal with bits of Ottawa elements sprinkled in.Arriving13

My move-in weekend went by so fast I barely saw it go by. Packing,  unpacking, travelling and familiarizing, it was quite the busy weekend. But after everything, I am so proud I was able to pack six weeks of my life into four suitcases and a carry-on bag.

And just when every one thought I was going to pack ridiculous amounts of shoes and clothing, I proved them wrong! Actually, probably not, but I did do better than what I had thought. It was still a tight ride being surrounded by garment bags but we did it.

Arriving8
Photo by Dani-Elle Dubé

Anyways, when we arrived it was cold. I was really looking forward to the “warmer” weather I’ve been hearing so much about but, unfortunately, that seems to be a myth. Besides me complaining about that, my family, boyfriend, new roommate and I all went out to dinner at…wait for it…Swiss Chalet. Sometimes you just need a good ol’ fashioned chicken dinner. But I wish I could tell you about some wild and crazy night but, the truth is, I unpacked and we all went to bed.

Photo by Dani-Elle Dubé. Rooftop view of Toronto, Canada.
Rooftop view of Toronto, Canada. Photo by Dani-Elle Dubé

The next day we visited the Global studios then made our way to Dundas Square. Now, to most folks, Dundas Square wouldn’t be interesting but like I’ve said before, i haven’t been to Toronto in a very long time and I don’t remember much of it. So just before everyone left, we took the afternoon and explored that little bit of the city.

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Photo by Dani-Elle Dubé
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My boyfriend, Justin, and I in a cold and windy Dundas Square.
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Justin, myself, Sandra (my mom) and Robert (my dad) in Dundas Square.
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My new roommate, Nicole, myself and Justin.

But at last, the day was over. My family went back to Ottawa and I went to my new temporary home in the heart of Toronto. I’ve inherited not one, but two new roommates, one who walks on two legs and the other on four.

Arriving11
Meet Ally. One of my new roommates with ridiculously big eyes and an unexplainably pink nose. She is crazy curious and loves to get into things. I know she’s still a kitten but I’ve never met a cat so wired before. My cats are nuts and they don’t even come close to Ally’s energy.

 So now that this crazy weekend is over, it is time to prepare for my first day on the job tomorrow. I thought I was nervous and excited before, but I think it’s been taken to a whole other level now.

Wish me luck!

The Prep: I’m in a journo state of mind

How do you decide what to pack for the next six weeks of your life? Well, like me, you’d have no idea where to start. I don’t even know what tomorrow’s going to be like, let alone the next month-and-a-half. So I decided that instead of packing whatever whenever, I’d have to start with the most obvious things: my reporting tools.

To anyone else who isn’t a journalist, this wouldn’t be a big deal, but if you’re an intern trying to secure your spot in a tough industry, these tools are more important than food. So, what are these fabulous and incredibly important tools I talk about? Well, they’re pretty much anything you’d find for a dollar at the dollar store or in your home office.

Coffee11. Coffee and/or tea

For any normal journalist, coffee is like oxygen. But because my first job as a bus girl at a local breakfast nook made me hate the smell of coffee, I’ve instead turned to tea. No journalist can be without their coffee or tea and their coffee mug.

I’m sure this magical concoction of water and beans or leaves will prove to be my saviour.

2. LaptopComputer1

I’m sure this comes as a surprise as the number two most important thing, but trust me, caffeine is very important. But a journalist can’t be without their main research and communication tool: the laptop.

I don’t mean a general desktop computer or tablet, we need a portable laptop that’s fully equipped with every program we need and Internet. And with this current age of computer and social journalism, I need to make sure I have access to social media.

3. Smartphone

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In times of urgency, your computer may not be able to cut it, so a smartphone is in order. Keeping direct contact with your editor is very important and e-mail might not be fast or get a message across clearly. And although your laptop is a must, it’s not always practical in some situations (ahem, scrums). For quick emails, research and a direct and clearer line of contact, a smartphone is key.

4. Pens and pencils

Pens

This one should be obvious. A journalist kind of really needs something to write with. A journalist also knows that they should have both pen and pencils on them. You never know what kind of weather you’re going to get and a pen may not work. For pens, I usually prefer gels. They’re easier to write with, have a smoother flow and is less stress on your hand and wrist. For pencils, I like the  retractable type.

Notepad15. Notepad

Now that I have something to write with, I need something to write on. I could use any scrap paper, but let’s face it, a journalist is walking organized chaos so keeping order in any way possible is a good idea.

Small notepads are good for quick notes and ideas, medium size pads are ideal for interviews and large notebooks are good for keeping track of your research.

6. Recorder Recorder1

No matter how hard any journalist tries to write something down accurately, there’s always a chance of missing something. I love having a recorder but I definitely don’t rely on it alone. Recorders are like any other technology in the sense that it can’t be 100 per cent reliable. But my mostly-trustworthy recorder is a good back up and reinforcer of any interview I do or notes I take.

Postit17. Sticky notes

I love lists, but I often forget about the ones I’ve made and then end up making a list of lists I’ve made. Make sense? No, it doesn’t. So, sticky notes are a good way for me to remember things. They remind me of what important things need to be done immediately instead of having them lost in a pile of lists.

The Prep: What to do, what to do

With a week-and-a-half left until I call Toronto my new temporary home, I don’t have much time left to get everything in order back in my current home of Ottawa.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love my clothes (I may or may not be a shopaholic but I’m not ready to take the first step and admit it just yet). I am a firm believer that first impressions are lasting impressions and the way your carry yourself is important, especially in the field I’m hoping to get into. So, getting my clothing together is a task in itself.

Yes, I have two closets. I also have two other dressers. I have a hard time throwing things out...
Yes, I have two closets. I also have two other dressers. I clearly have a hard time throwing things out but I’ve already accepted and embraced my hoarding ways., so should you.

An outfit isn’t complete without appropriate footwear. I have quite the collection of shoes. I love my shoes, so much so that Nikki even bought me a book about the history of shoes for my last birthday. If getting my clothing together isn’t going to be the big challenge, then it may be my figuring out my shoe situation. I have a lot of heels, but heels are often not practical. So I’ve been on the hunt for practical, yet stylish, working shoes. That was proving to be difficult to do, but I did find some.

I wish I could take a picture of all of my shoes, but that would be impossible. Surprisingly, I'm still missing a few colours like green, purple and silver shoes. Imagine that.
I wish I could take a picture of all of my shoes, but that would be impossible. Surprisingly, I’m still missing a few colours like green, purple and silver shoes. Imagine that.

And when I’m not coordinating an ensemble, I’m finishing the last little bit of school. Honestly, I feel like I have so little time but it’s taking so long. I know that’s quite the oxymoron but there’s no other way for me to explain my concept of time right now. With the last little bit of exams and assignments left to do, it’s making me feel as if I have all of this time on my hands, but reality hits and reminds me that my internship is only a few days away.

So what’s left for me to do?

  1. Pack
  2. Finish school
  3. Wrap up my part-time job
  4. Pick up a few last minute things
  5. Spend time with family

Seems easier enough, right? Well, as it turns out, it isn’t.

Having lived in New York City for a summer, I have some experience preparing for long trips, but it just never seems to get easier. You always forget something, break something and/or lose something. It’s inevitable.

But for now, instead of worrying I’m just going to do whatever needs to be done for now and leave the worrying for when it’s necessary.

So, here we go folks! The adventure may begin Mar. 8, but the fun starts now.

A blog by Dani-Elle Dubé

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