GRE, Nuit Blanche, & Grace Toronto Weekend

Many of you may look at these three titles:  GRE, Nuit Blanche, and Grace Toronto, and have absolutely no idea of what I’m speaking.  This weekend I went to Toronto with the main purpose of checking out a housing prospect, and writing the ‘General Record Exam’ or GRE, a graduate entrance exam for studying in the United States.  I later realized that my visit coincidentally aligned with the annual all-night art event ‘Nuit Blanche’ on Saturday night, and I was also looking forward to revisiting my previous church called Grace Toronto on Sunday before heading back to Cambridge.

I arrived by bus on Friday evening and the first item on my itinerary was to visit my potential housing option.  The place is suitable for short term and so I decided to take it for a minumum of three months.  I will move in tomorrow already and start work at my new job midweek.  This has all happened so fast.  I was hosted both nights by friends of mine who were previous coworkers from my last sejourn in Toronto.  On Friday evening I was sick of studying and so we went to a great Korean restaurant for dinner and caught up.  Already I was being reintroduced back into the multicultural diversity that is Toronto!

The next morning I headed to my exam.  I spent the last several weeks studying for it, and even that could not completely prepare me.  This was my first time doing an official computer-based test, and I felt so oddly displaced when I was writing it.  It was four very grueling hours long!  My score was very average, and so I will have to make the difficult decision to choose whether or not I should rewrite it.

That evening I joined my friends to a small get-together as a tag-along.  I didn’t know anyone at the event but the two friends I came with, but still had an excellent time.   We stayed in and chatted until the early morning until we finally decided to go out and explore some of the Nuit Blanche activities that were happening in the city below.  There was a large percent chance of rain, but the night stayed fine with only a soft mist coming down now and then. Many of the art installations in Nuit Blanche can be hit or miss, but there are always a few select ‘treasures’ that make the late night/early morning trek worth the while.  We stumbled across two such exhibits that were wonderful to behold.

The first one we went to was number 19: The Toronto Consort: Forty Part Quartet by Janet Cardiff.  It was a beautiful sound installation sculpture that was made up of a circle of 40 speakers, each with its own voice.  When you closed your eyes, you could imagine an entire choir encompassing you.  You can also check out this video I found on YouTube of this same sculpture at another event.

The other treasure we found was number 12: Jeng Yi: Tent & Semaphore.  It was a live performance of several percussion works inspired by rituals of Korea.  Not only was the drumming fantastic, there was also some amazing dancing.  The dancers had these interesting hats that had ribbons attached to them, so that when they made motions with their heads while they danced, the ribbons would follow along tracing beautiful patterns around them.  I’ve never seen anything like it!

After checking out these two events, my two friends and I (now departed from the bigger group) walked quite a ways from Bloor down to King to check out an installation done by a fellow friend and previous co-worker.  Her project was number 79: Lenticularis: GUILD.  It was a sculpture composed of a field of very light fabric that caught the light in a wonderful way and would billow and move at the slightest air movement.  It hovered just above the height of an average person, and standing under it and looking at it from a horizontal angle made me imagine I was looking at the reversed horizon line of a roiling sea.

By the time we got to this last event, it was six in the morning and we were a very spaced out trio.  We took a taxi home and I fell asleep as soon as I hit the covers.  I only allowed myself three hours however because I really wanted to go to Grace Toronto the following morning (because we all know that it is never actually morning until one goes to sleep and wakes up again).  It was a beautiful day though and after a Tim Hortons coffee (they quite literally exist on every street corner in this city) I was chipper.  How the congregation has grown since I was there last!  The service was very good and quite challenging which is also a good thing.  The message focused on 1 Peter 1:1-12 and really challenged the congregation on what it means to live a courageous Christian life and take part in the joy unfailing that is offered to us through Jesus Christ.

After the service I walked to the Greyhound station and headed back to Cambridge.  I decided to be absolutely lazy that evening and save packing until the following day which was to be moving day!  After spending an entire weekend in Toronto and returning, the following day I would go to Toronto and back yet again to get all of my belongings over there.

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