(Mostly) Guilty Pleasures

All in all, Brandon is just a fine place to live. It’s not the coolest. It’s not the hippest. It does have some hipsters, which I talked about on the Winnipeg Internet Pundits show on December 5th (check ‘er out here!), and some other cool people and things. However, it can become a pretty predictable place most days. There aren’t that many night life options, there aren’t many small, cosy coffeeshops or different restaurants and your life can somehow so easily become driving up and down Victoria and 18th and popping into Superstore for some groceries. That’s it. Sometimes the mundane life is a nice break (I’m certainly not complaining!), but other times, it just becomes too comfortable. When I get to that point, I start noticing some guilty pleasures creeping in and having more of a forefront in my life. And I’m not going to lie, I kind of like it. There aren’t called guilty pleasures for no reason!

So I’ve decided to come clean. Talk about my (mostly) guilty pleasures from living in Brandon. Here goes.

1. eBrandon.ca discussions

This site may be one of the greatest sites of all times. Before I moved here, the online buy/sell/trade/find apt/find job stuff was all about Kijiji and Craigslist. But not here in Brandon, no. Brandon is so incredibly special that it has it’s very own version of Kijiji, but it’s even better, because hilarious and awkward discussions are had on such site. For a long time, I just wanted to start a separate blog where I would be recording monologues of eBrandon discussions because they were the most weird and hilarious things I’ve ever read. Some people truly do have too much time on their hands and enjoy complaining about anything and everything, while not using proper spelling or grammar of course!

If you’re not from Brandon, I suggest you check out the discussions on eBrandon occasionally. You will not regret it. It may even become a daily highlight if you check it out consistently!

2. The not-good-enough veggie burger at A&W

Yup, I went there. In fact, I totally just had one yesterday. As a vegetarian, I’m always on the hunt for a good veggie burger. Even as veggies, we still have cravings for junky vegetarian food because let’s face it, we all have those days! I used to only get the veggie burger from Harvey’s. Every time I would go to the mall in Hamilton, I would hit up Harvey’s religiously. I loved that veggie burger. It was the best. But now that I’m in Manitoba, I’ve had to change things up a little. Harvey’s barely exists in this province, but A&W is king here. So I’ve adapted because I’ve had to! The burger isn’t nearly as good, yet I think it’s more expensive. And whenever I go to A&W, there are, let’s just say…some interesting characters. But at the end of the day, it’s my veggie burger. But because it’s just not good enough, it’s my guilty pleasure one.

3. The Roadhouse

Admittedly, I haven’t been there in months. And when I moved here, it was all about Houston’s and people had horrible things to say about The Roadhouse. But I have a few personal qualms with Houston’s, although I have had some good times there. So when I was invited out to Roadhouse for the first time, I was kind of weary…but then, I somehow ended up having more fun there than ever! It was definitely a summer hotspot for me and my friends, and certainly some great memories were made there. So whoever tells you that Roadhouse is super shady and you should hit up Houston’s instead, just scoff at them and tell them to shoo!

4. The occasional country song

I think this one is the hardest to admit. I was definitely a country fan when I was very young, but that was partly due tot he fact that it was some of the only secular music I could listen to. Somehow country was better – they mentioned “the Lord” sometimes, but then followed with lyrics about going to the bar right after, so…yeah. Anyway, I digress.

Many of my friends love country here, but I have kept my stance of not liking country at all. I’m strong on this, but…but sometimes a catchy country song starts playing at a wedding. Or a social. And it’s so fun. It’s innocent enough, but then it gets ridiculous. I go home and secretly go on YouTube and listen to that song…at least a few times. And I like it. And any friend that is reading this who loves country is honestly probably rejoicing while reading these words. Others who similarly hate country are probably crying right now. This may be my most shameful guilty pleasure!

5. Winnipeg

The rural Brandonites worse nightmare. Winnipeg. Do you know how many times I have heard about how awful Winnipeg is since moving to Brandon? And about how lovely and nice and wonderful Brandon is? And how Brandon is such a great size and just the best place in the world to live and raise a family? Personally, I have a different taste, but whatever floats your boat. But I am a Brandonite, and I love Winnipeg. I love getting lost in Winnipeg. I love Osborne. I appreciate that there’s a two-tiered mall. I appreciate seeing the diversity. I love the size of the city. I love that there are old record shops, and nice little parks scattered everywhere. I love that there is a vibe there. A buzz. Energy! The city feeds my soul, and since living in Brandon, I have learned that I’m actually more of a city person than I thought. Something good to learn about yourself, right?!

So there you have it, 5 of my guilty pleasures of being a non-original Brandonite. Any guilty pleasures from anyone else who lives in Brandon or anywhere else for that matter? What are the “uncool” things that you just kind of (slightly) love in your own cities/towns?

Department of Holidays

It’s that time of year again. The snow has gone (knock on wood!!!) and summer is arriving (ish). That means that the roads are, well, painfully awful. In lots of places anyway.

I was in Saskatchewan yesterday (obviously, just to get my hair done by my amazing friend who is a hair dresser – why else would I go to “The Gap”? Kidding!), going through Virden, then Melita (where the creepy banana man lives, who me and my friends affectionately call “Lester the Molester”) then onward to Carivale. The roads. Oh the roads. Especially near Melita, which is a notorious spot for flooding. There were “surface breaks” everywhere…thank you orange signs for telling us to go 40km/hr when the term “surface breaks” is so ambiguous anyway, as my friend pointed out.

My friend’s dad actually used to work for Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation and she said that he liked to call that department the “Department of Holidays”. How incredibly true! Anyone who has spent even a little time in Manitoba knows how awful some of these roads are. I’ve spent the majority of my time in the South Westman area and the highways are certainly not impressive. The roads in Brandon are always needing improvements. Pot holes, pot holes, pot holes. I think Manitoba must be the pot hole capital of Canada. I whole heartedly agree about the joke of the “Department of Holidays”.

I understand Manitoba isn’t made of riches. There isn’t tons of money. But I think we can all agree that if more money was spent on Manitoba’s infrastructure, it would make all of our lives easier and more enjoyable. I’m certainly not trying to get political. It’s difficult trying to balance out what is needed for the province, but the infrastructure doesn’t only help us who live here – it gives an impression to those who don’t live here, but are driving across the province to their respective destinations. Don’t we want to make a good impression? Just a thought!

Recently, CAA told a poll to see what the worst roads in Manitoba were (totally coincidental with this post!), and apparently St. James Street in Winnipeg got the most votes, along with several other Winnipeg streets. Understandably, most votes came out of Winnipeg, and there are many bad roads in Winnipeg, but I can tell you, highways in the Westman area are crumbling and main roads in Brandon aren’t any better. When I went back to Ontario in February, I could really tell the difference between the roads there and here.

I hope that the CAA poll will make the government pay a little more attention to what the road conditions are like all across the province.

Getting Lost in Winnipeg

I recently flew out of Winnipeg to Ontario. My friend and I decided to go in the night before and stay at a friends house for the night. Needless to say, we had a crazy time, without intending it to be. We got lost. We had Thai food. We met Confusion Corner. We got lost again. Oh, and again. Oh yeah, and we almost got in a car crash (summer tires…) And you know, we experienced that city vibrancy that we’ve been missing. Here is a photo document of that night.

First, we hung out downtown for a little.

I loved that there were snow sculptures all around the city!

So after hanging out downtown, we were on our way. We accidentally ended up at the Forks. It wasn’t even intentional! I had never been there, and even though there was no one there and it was dark and snowy, I could tell that this place is awesome! And I found some Ontario type things while there…so I couldn’t resist…

Okay, then we got lost again. We went looking for our friends place…and we ended up on the other side of town. However, the great thing about getting lost was finding a street sign that bore my last name!

We FINALLY made it to our friends place, and of course, her place just happens to have an elevator. In the house. This is not an apartment building. Proof below.

Needless to say, our evening in Winnipeg was full of fun and adventure – most of it being unintentional! I can’t wait to get back to the city. Many more adventures to be had!

Winnipeg, oh Winnipeg

I don’t know what you’re assuming from the title, but this is by no means a Winnipeg bashing session, or in any way really has anything to do with people in Winnipeg…or the city itself. It’s really just about my observations regarding living in “rural” Manitoba (although I don’t think the city of Brandon is necessarily rural), and how everything seems to be centered around Winnipeg.

I’m used to things being tied up with a cute little bow in Ontario. In terms of getting things done, Ontario has it down pat. It’s called Service Ontario. You can go and get your license, health card, etc all in one place. And you can even go online and get some things done. I’m used to these service centers being available everywhere – large and small cities. However, when I moved here, I found myself frustrated that so much paperwork had to go through to Winnipeg.

I was surprised and frustrated when I found out that I had to send for my health card to Winnipeg. Why wasn’t there an office in Brandon that could do that? I just didn’t get it. And in my line of work, I’ll eventually have to do a Child Abuse Registry, which also has to go through to Winnipeg. Just another thing I don’t understand. And even getting my driver’s license the other day, they had to call Winnipeg to get all my new official license information. It’s all just a little foreign to me that an entire province can be so centered around one place.

I understand, Winnipeg holds more than half the population of Manitoba. But still, it’s not the entire population. And for many Manitoban’s, Winnipeg is a far ways away and is a completely different world. So my question is, why is the system so locked on Winnipeg? Brandon is small, sure. However, it’s still the second largest city in Manitoba and it services a large population in the south western region. So why can’t a little more be done here? It would be beneficial for both the city and the entire region.

Wow. Here I am, sounding like a bitter rural Manitoban who just doesn’t like this whole “Winnipeg is the center of the universe”…well, at least Manitoba. Am I crazy for feeling this way? Would no one else agree? I all of a sudden am starting to realize why so many Manitoban’s are bitter about politics in this province. It really does seem like an “us” vs. “them” mentality when it comes to Winnipeg and the rest of Manitoba. But are the rural Manitoban’s the only one thinking this way? Does Winnipeg pretty much just focus on itself and not have many worries about the rural areas? Or does Winnipeg care, or does it have the same mentality and bitterness? I honestly don’t know, so I’m not answering those questions. I hope to figure these things out in time.

The culture here is so interesting to figure out here, with there being only one large city in the province. How does Manitoba find balance to please everyone? Is it even possible? Anyway, like I said, I have no answers. It’s just some food for thought. Maybe I should get the premier on the phone…?