I've never one to be a last-minute packer, or a last-minute anything-er, as a matter of fact. Howbeit, I've found myself asking others time and time again whether certain tasks are "really all that urgent" - whether they deserve the "p" word (that I've learned to distinguish as "priority" and not "please").
Six hours of tossing and turning later, I was airport-bound. There, the lengthiest domestic security check was endured, and I soon came face to face with the new terminal's retail and gating developments. The restructured appearance came as an utter surprise; remaining consistent was my old friend, who greeted me with a smile, as if three-and-a-half years had not elapsed at all.
A banana, apple juice-ginger ale hybrid, and a foamy airline Breakfast Sandwich tied me over until arrival at YVR.
Whilst awaiting the buzzer of the baggage belt, I ventured up to the Departures floor, where a Vanilla Latte was secured with much glee. Ahhh, coffee.
I then proceeded with my surprise landing plans. Lugging four pieces of luggage across the pedestrian overpass, onto the SkyTrain, transferring, then rolling back onto the vehicle was no easy feat. Eventually, after far too hefty of a fare deduction, I made it to Aberdeen.
When posed with the question "Why do we have leap years?", I frankly wasn't sure how to respond.
"It's a part of the calendar." I had answered matter-of-factly. Though, in reality, I hadn't ever pondered this topic, but merely accepted it as a recurring event that would rear its head every four years.
The second month of 2020 had flown by amidst my seemingly endless duration of sickness. It concluded with a bang in the form of Eric Nam's second opening act-accompanied concert, and third ever visit to "Canadia".
Superseding the unexpectedly long evening was a gloomy work-from-home instance, that later unfolded into an unavoidable round of errands.
The opportunity for indulgence lay before my eyes, and a trip to Wonton Chai simply that could not be refused.
I opted to swap my regular order of egg noodles for flat, rice noodles instead this time. The short strands were plump and spongy - an indication of being overcooked. Other elements, such as tender cubes of beef brisket and springy fish dace balls, remained consistent.
Fried Fish Skin was then taken to go, along with the remnants of my midday meal and an order of Plain Wontons.
Heavy snowfall and plummeting temperatures welcomed me back to the South Core. Oh, and did I mention loathsome transit delays?
Lunch walks were contained within the warmth of the indoors, which, while comfortable at first, were ultimately deemed too toasty for maneuvering within at a speedy pace.
An abnormally hectic Monday had dismissed all thoughts of my post-work activities - namely the arrival of Eric Nam on Canadian grounds.
It was with considerable anticipation that my favourite fangirl (whose nickname ̶m̶a̶y̶ shall change hereinafter) and I had purchased tickets to the Korean American singer-songwriter again.
Since his last visit, I have been following his releases with technology as the greatest enabler. From the weekly drops of K-Pop Daebak to the monumental drop of Before We Begin, and then the release of I Think You're Dope, I can't help but marvel at the diversity of his content and, to an even greater degree, the sagacity of his character.
Alas, the entirety of the workday was to take place prior to any thoughts of leisure activities.
A certain prehistoric creature had returned from exile in Kingston at long last, thus a venture to Third Wave was undertaken.
Our exit from the building was met with more of Impact Kitchen's samples in the lobby - this time with additions of Chicken Bone Broth and cold strips of paleo-approved Chicken Tender.
A doughy French delicacy with a sticky, glazed surface and satisfying puff pastry crunch, the bichon was a new addition to the display case. Third Wave's rendition utilized a black cherry filling that was equal parts tangy and jammy, as opposed to the conventional lemon curd. The ever-exquisite three-bite Financier was also obtained by a certain prehistoric creature following my rivetting recap of the ganache-y goody.
Consistent with my initial visit, the cafe's bakery items were complemented perfectly with the shop's bitter-end, Yemen-derived beans, purposed into a Cortado and Flat White.
Near the coat rack pillar is also an accessible washroom stall - impeccably pristine and unlocked exclusively with a push of a button from the barista/counter staff, presumably to prevent infiltration by homeless individuals.
Some five hours later, once OT labours had been carried out (and eyes were twitching from exhaustion), I boarded my Lyft to The Danforth Music Hall. Under normal circumstances, transit, by the unfortunate means of TTC, would have been my default option. However, given the lack of stability in my digestion system and fear of missing the start of the show, I opted for the swifter, ride-hailing service instead.
The group had departed Zakkushi amidst zero-visibility snowfall, just to witness the absurdity of it to diminish overnight. Blue skies and amiable walking conditions greeted me in the downtown core the next day.
With Valentine's Day around the corner, retailers were eager to take advantage of the situation, offering up quick, accessible solutions to fuel the occasion's flushing festivities.
With Valentine's Day around the corner, retailers were eager to take advantage of the situation, offering up quick, accessible solutions to fuel the occasion's flushing festivities. From Union Station's two-day exclusive Hershey's Kisses pop-up to Enchanted Rose-inspired compositions in our very own lobby, it was nearly impossible to forget the looming lovers' holiday.
My week was more or less unvaried, with the exceptions of Cinnamon Toast Crunch (not a fan, by the way) and Maple Syrup French Toast Crunch (this was scrumptious!) "samples" from a certain prehistoric creature.
A Vanilla Latte from Dineen's Commerce Court location provided a wonderfully fragrant boost to the Mon(dane)day. Additional features such as Ritual ordering, prompt, cordial service, and a password-secured Wi-Fi network further elevated the experience.
As far as can be from a movie buff, there are admittedly a few instances where Cineplex is win to earn my hard-earned wages.
Fabricated City, The Peanuts Movie, Deadpool 2, Crazy Rich Asians, Star Wars, Infinity War, and JOKER are a few titles that have succeeded in the swindling mechanism. Most recently watched was Frozen 2, which was a, surprisingly, great all-around production.
The movie commences in a dingy, dirty semi-basement lodging, where cockroaches are rampant and drunk, urianting men are frequent sights. A poverty-stricken family of four is seen struggling to make ends meet, anxiously hunting for a Wi-Fi signal to grab hold of potential work opportunities via Kakao Talk. (For improved relatability though, the English subtitles had been translated to read 'WhatsApp' instead of 'Kakao'.)
One of my first observations is the presence of a familiar face: Park So Dam. A stellar actress with an impressive track record, I was instantly excited for the remainder of the production upon witnessing her appearance as the daughter of the family. The son, whom possessed great resemblance to CIX's BX, was also oddly familiar, though I couldn't quite put my finger on the exact piece of work.
The tale starts out quite humourously, with the family arguing their way through incorrectly folded pizza boxes. It isn't until the family is graced with the presence of the son's friend - stony souvenir in hand - that their lives take an unexpected, debatably upward turn.
Crossing paths with and ultimately infiltrating an affluent household, the first hour showcases the quartet's deft conning capabilities. One by one, existing staff serving the family are ejected through staged traps; in turn, the family members are employed to fill these positions. The ordeal was witty and comedic, however the series of events possessed an underlying sense of anxiety that was difficult to pinpoint until the second hour rolled around.
Throughout the story, I paid little attention to the usage of stairs as a distinguishing tool of economic status. By contrast, I had been hoping that the stone souvenir would provide some sort of symbolism. It did not.
My immediate response to the gory final sequences was of distaste and confusion. I hadn't seen the need for such an extravagant escalation of events, though I must say that this concept is not foreign to regular K-Drama viewers. "The writers kind of just...gave up." was my immediate allegation.
Immediate afterthoughts consisted of confusion and absolute alarm at towards the vicious killings of the characters. The course had kept me engaged for majority of its run - an utter anomaly, might I declare - then cloaked in the comfort of my concert hoodie for the final fifteen minutes. Only following the review of other recaps was the ending depicted with greater clarity; notwithstanding the director's choice of portraying reality in the darkest, most pessimistic (practical) sense, the unpredictable murders were still overkill for me, especially in regards to the daughter. Park So Dam's character had shown the most compassion for the debt-ridden basement couple, with the mother in close second.
Social implications aside, I'd like to profess appreciation for the cinematography. While the filming style wasn't as creative as I would have liked, various camera angles/heights allowed the audience to grasp a better idea of the setting, further confirming the eerieness of the underground chambers and griminess of the destitute, sewage-flooded semi-basement.
A piece of work reflective of extreme income gaps around the world, Parasite was relatable but not particularly pivotal.
Weekends these days are generally an extension of the regular work week, with the exceptions of errands replacing email correspondence and nonstop cooking in place of site visits. The 9-to-5 working hours hold consistent.
Sparse pockets of time are sometimes allocated towards baking projects, for the process enables creativity without fear of criticism for abandoning my post in the kitchen. Dried cranberries, raisins, and unsalted, roasted almonds had been obtained on the most recent grocery run, thus prompting the realization of Oatmeal Cookies.
An accidentally heavy handful of baking soda resulted in modest dryness, though the cookies remained suitable as a hearty breakfast item.
As an afternoon snack, it paired swell alongside the 8 Man English Pale Ale - a variety I had initially anticipated to prove as bitter as an IPA.
A quick round of cleaning took place before more errands. Oh, and hair-dying at home. For the very first time in my life.
The offer had been on the line for quite some time, but it wasn't until a certain prehistoric creature swung by to relieve me of my workload that the procedure properly materialized.
Consumed whilst awaiting the reveal of rose-tinged hair was Coffee Stout and a spice-laced cider gifted by my favourite fangirl.
Zero comments were extended towards my return to the real world with a mane of revived red. It was of no matter to me; I proceeded with my lunchtime excursions about the PATH for economical snacks, errands (yes, there is always more on the to-do list), and the Plant Positivity pop-up at Union Station.
It's been an unusually quiet (gloomy?) time in the house thus far, and I was reminded of Chinese New Year festivities only upon observing the floral Shiseido tunnel at Hudson's Bay.
Mid-week undertakings were scheduled to take place by Eglinton West: research results for low-budget physical activity pointed in the direction of free drop-in classes at York Recreation Centre. And nearby just so happened to be Seara Bakery, a colleague recommendation for Portuguese egg tarts.
Located in a sidewalk-less plaza near Keele and Lawrence, the bakery-café hybrid bore a great degree of similarity to SanRemo. That said, the seating area was roomier, significantly cleaner, and more pleasant overall. A double-sided laminated menu and napkin dispenser were positioned at every table; a cartoon-esque mural of the city adorned the south wall of the establishment
We took to sharing Crème Caramel as well as a single Nata - aka the primary purpose of the stopover.
Group activities are decidedly uncommon in my neck of the woods. So when a certain prehistoric creature extended an invite to a DIY sushi get-together with the promise of mahjong, I was more than thrilled to get going on the 401 early Sunday morning.
The day prior could be summarized to outright helter-kelter: in between weekend work shifts were "grosho" runs, and in between those were intermittent preparatory procedures for gathering-ready baked goodies. Without a doubt, I was worn to the core by the end of my sixth workday, especially given that badminton and laundry were the customary terminal tasks of the day.
Nonetheless, there was no shortage of enjoyment in presenting Chocolate Buttercrunch Cookies - made possible with the acquisition of fraktals from the Seasons Christmas Market at the table.
Apple Pie and an impromptu Mixed Berry (with hidden marshmallows) also received astounding feedback.
After being acquainted with nigiri-wrapping and shari-tossing techniques, we cleared the table and proceeded with the next order of business: Mahjong, with a side of mild alcohol.
The rest of the group guzzled Asahi while I had my taste at MacKinnon Brothers' Red Fox Ale; it was, regrettably, bitter and not reminiscent of amber ale in the slightest.
The Indian Roti House along Queens Quay was visited for a quiet weekday lunch, with our roti ordered online in advance for pickup.
A Mango Chicken Curry Roti - made mild (with special instructions for further mildness) - was shared amongst a party of two. Presented in an aluminium foil tin was a rectangular parcel, and within it a sweet-savoury mix of tender chicken bites and occasional strands of spinach. Its cloying properties were likely owed to canned mango concentrate, which yielded a degree of sugariness that would have paired optimally with higher notches of spice. Nonetheless, it was a highly enjoyable dish and ideally portioned for two.
The pick-up process was swift and effortless; the hair net-donning cashier was also incredibly amiable.
Upon the mention of Hub, I can summon forth only memories of definitive quality. And while it's been brought to my attention, on several occasions, actually, that across from platform emerged their sister location, I had yet to find a chance to visit.
Immediately before MiKi's doors was a similar parking situation to Daldongnae - an access permitting entry via right turns only - and a scarcity of spots much like Katsuya's original uptown location. The interior was, in fact, a tad tinier than the famed cutlet eatery, though adopted a similar format to Hub. With a maximum capacity of thirty seats in the forms of four- and six-seaters, raised communal tables were in absence.
The floor layout was compact with a sushi bar that faced the dining area and washroom stalls at the back of the restaurant. Spotted within one of the two individual, gender-separated stalls was a multi-tier shelf, complete with air freshener, just like Hub.
A reservation was originally made for their opening time of 11:30 AM, however was later postponed due to collective tardiness amongst the group. Finding parking was my initial concern, but thankfully all three personal vehicles under consideration were able to be accommodated without issues.
Despite being geographically furthest, I was first to arrive and nabbed the table just short of the clock striking noon.
As I awaited the arrival of the others, FANCY played overhead; videos of orangecane's favourite septet cycled through on a small screen above, remaining consistent for the entire duration of our visit. The playlist blaring above, annoyingly persisted with more behind-the-scenes tunes, in the same manner, interrupted only by a few bursts of BLACKPINK and (G)I-DLE.
< Pictured above and below: Salmon Pressed Sushi, Tuna Pressed Sushi, Unagi Kimchi Donburi, Over the Rainbow, and Legend Dynamite >
The group was guided through the menu, with emphasis on their tried-and-true offerings. Aburi pressed sushi and wacky Special Rolls possess unwavering appeal to first-time diners, as did the positively irresistible Unagi Kimchi Donburi (well, to the vast majority at the table anyway).
I had forgotten all about the convention until two days prior, when my favourite fangirl forwarded the program schedule to me in image form.
The first of its kind, KPOP NORTH was introduced as a convention aiming to bring more K-Pop artists north of the border, hopefully one day achieving the same degree of recognition as KCON in the States. And with its organizers fluent in the Korean language, the promise was far greater than Pop! Goes The World and their shady empty promises.
We had purchased GA+ tickets just after the fifty percent price slash, then later learned of the complementary Hi-Touch pass. Unlike the infamous Mnet-run KCON though, the passes were not distributed randomly, but rather online via Google Forms registration on a first come, first serve basis. Both of us selected The Rose without hesitation, though it wasn't until later that I discovered she had also purchased additional benefits such as Photo Op and Hi-Touch passes for other artists.
Taking place in the North building where ProFusion had occupied five weeks prior, the convention grounds were as simplistic (read: barren) as could be. There wasn't much of a dealer's alley, and even smaller a selection of instant nourishment. At the west end of the upper floor was the concert stage, uncarpeted, with overhead spotlights and an LCD screen acting as the sole production enhancement tools. (Might I add that this screen was repeatedly disconnected, revealing the VLC Player logo and cognate inadequacies of the stage team.)
Coat check incurred a four-dollar drop-off fee and an unnecessary amount of hassle. Consequently, I took to leaving my winter gear (and pre-packed dinner) elsewhere. The trek wasn't particularly lengthy via The PATH, however the frequent trips soon fatigued my calves, which were already engaged throughout the standing shows.
The Rose was the first act of the afternoon. It was an unexpected choice by the organizers, for rookie groups such as VERIVERY generally assume the roles of show-starters.
Needless to say, I wasn't particularly punctual, and my actions served to place me outside the GA+ crowd, nestled behind those sporting pink GA wristbands.
With the band being my primary reason for ticket purchase, I shall admit disappointment towards being unable to capture the quadret clearly. On the less regrettable flip side, I will also profess that I took to experiencing their voices and instrumentals on a more human level, free from the distractions of technology. The Rose's energy was as spectacular as their studio releases.
I had never been too familiar with the members prior to this day, though one thing is certain: trench coat-shedding Jaehyeong definitely made my heart skip a beat.
The fangirl and her posse opted to plaster themselves by the barricade even after The Rose had concluded their performance, in spite of VERIVERY's pending segment. During this forty-minute break, I took to visiting the handful of merchandise vendors, bumping into a few familiar faces along the way.
The Kpop Random Dance was likely the most interesting panel event.
Since mid-October, my weekly KDC sessions have repeatedly been supplying me with new perspectives. As much as dance is a form of exercise, it is also a medium of expression, surpassingly so.
Despite being an amateur at "feeling the groove" while memorizing a sequence of movements, the classes were always a blast, and always a portal to absorb new information. Contrary to my initial belief, the choreography introduced did not have to be reproduced identically. Rather, it seemed that both participants and instructors preferred slight modifications, such that the moves aligned with one's original style.
I grasped the core meaning of "community" - a space free of judgment and brimming with absolute freedom, a collective of positive vibes and mutual encouragement.
KDC classes bridged the gap between Intermediate and Advanced levels, which was, admittedly, still too advanced for the likes of me and my lack of practice. Years of recreational badminton have honed my hand-eye coordination, yet left my sense of rhythm stagnant. The ability to move my body with grace was impaired. I was but a zealous concert-goer unaccustomed to the complex steps of urban dance.
However, the more experienced attendees did not bat even an eyelash. Many were more than willing to lend a helping hand - or arm, or leg - in assisting newbies like me learn a new move.
The term concluded with a double class: the first incorporating b-boy vibes and the second fluid attitudes à la house and ahgase's very own Hit The Stage champion.
One Beginner class and two KDCs later though, I was more than ready to call it a day. The team at the nearby McDonald's was apparently aware of this as well, for I lucked out with a triple-sized Vanilla Cone due to worker error.
This single serving was sufficient in compensating the dissatisfactory swirls of the past.
In review of the rest of the week was an incredulously lengthy baking session, which, in turn, resulted in a decent batch of gingersnap cookies and a not-so-spectacular dual-toned pound cake.
Who Am I?
I'm the one that talks fashion and K-Pop randoms behind Quirky Aesthetics, the one who contributes honest opinions about commercial beauty items on Review Junkie, the one that obsessively shares photos of food on Pinterest, the one that loves her DSLR more than her own being and the one that wants to work in the transportation sector for a living.