Thursday, September 30, 2010

Post the Ninth - A Day in Pictures

 I don't take pictures very often for several reasons: 1) I forget a lot, 2) I'm not a very good photographer, and 3) my camera is so old that it's almost an embarrassment to be seen with it. I mean, I'm past the Polaroid stage, but my friend has a phone that has more megapixels than my camera. Pitiful. But anyway, I figured that I might want some photographic memories of my time at UBC, or my life in general, so I should sometimes take pictures. Yesterday was one of those days. So, as a special treat, I thought I'd post sort of a "Day in the Life" type post.

And so we begin where, arguably, most days start: the morning. When I wake up, this is normally the first thing I see:

A poster given to me by my father as a sort of house-warming gift. It reminds me of England and how much I love it and, consequently, how much I miss it. 

In the mornings I usually get up and make coffee and stare out the window while sipping on my cup of sludge (I still haven't mastered making it yet). It's very Parisian of me. Sometimes my room mate Joey and I meet at the window and chat. It's nice.

There was also this great poster in the living room when I arrived. I'm a fan.

So as I'm staring out the window, remarking about the sun and/or rain (yes, sometimes both), this is what I see:

After I've showered and eaten and read the Zeitgeist on, I head off into the day. Yesterday I had to check the mail in the morning, which I don't always do because I don't get any mail here, so I got to walk by the fountain outside of the Marine Drive Global Lounge.

Every day I'm reminded how beautiful this campus is. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a garden as opposed to a university campus.

This is the most colourful building on campus. It reminds me of St. John's and Europe at the same time. I like it, in any case. It has character. I have no idea what it's called or what it's used for, but that's neither here nor there, really.

The UBC Writing Centre!! Yay! It looks like it's in a log cabin, like all the buildings of the Ponderosa complex. 

There are squirrels all over campus. They are completely domesticated and not afraid of humans at all. I almost petted him, but then I remembered rabies and that this squirrel was not a cat, so I left him to his lunch.

Just passing the library. Note the mountains in the distance. This means that we are facing north! I am a quick learner...

This is a glassed carriage that I have yet to figure out the significance of. Usually I'm too late to stop and try to find a plaque with information on it, and yesterday I was taking pictures, so it remains a mystery.

The Buchanan Building C. I have to walk through here to get to my class in Building D.

These are the steps to get to the skywalk. There are 5 Buchanan buildings, and they are terribly laid out. It took me about a week to figure out how to get to my class. 

I had to snap this picture of the hallway really fast, as there were people behind me and I didn't want them to think I was a creep. But I guess I sort of am, because I still took the picture.

More stairs! My classroom is just around the bend, but I couldn't take pictures because the hallway was filled with students sitting on the floor. I had to draw the line of creepiness somewhere.

After class yesterday, I walked to the Student Union Building to meet Jeanette at the bus stop. She was coming to visit before she took off to Newfoundland for Jess' wedding. This is the I.K. Barber Learning Centre, where the SLAIS is located (I have a special key to get in and everything).

I read Peter and Wendy for a bit while I waited.

Found Jeanette! And also found Ashley, another friend from Newfoundland who moved here to study physics. We had a grand old reunion and went to my place for lunch and the watching of Glee.

Before Jeanette left and my last class of the day, we took a short walking tour of campus. I made her pose in front of things. It was wicked sunny, so she squinted a lot.

After class, I headed back to my unit. I found this piece of Native art that I hadn't seen before. I think it's pretty cool.

Fall is in the air here! I have never seen so many different coloured leaves before, so I had to take the requisite picture with my feet. (I'm back to the Keds; giving my poor feet a rest from breaking in new shoes.)

The sun was setting as I headed back to get some supper. Beauty, etc.

So there you have it. I hope to take more pictures and maybe post them, someday. I think Saturday is supposed to be nice, so Michelle and I might take in Stanley Park. I'll definitely take some pictures then, too.

With good intentions for future photography,

Post the Eighth - Harry Potter Explained

I’ve decided to write a blog every day for the next seven days. What inspired me? None other than Wheezy Waiter.

Wheezy Waiter is a YouTube vlogger who is sort of insane and obsessed with inside jokes, but he makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis, and I think his humour is really clever. He also posts a video every single week day. That’s a lot of videos and requires him to be super creative, or else he’d have absolutely nothing to vlog about.

But aside from the fact that I think he’s really funny, he also talks about setting goals - whether arbitrary or not - and just accomplishing them. He decided a while ago to make a video every day, just because, and he ended up getting really good at video filming and editing. As such, he got a job with his film skills and could finally quit his job as waiter. As for me: I feel like I’m lacking purpose lately, no direction or demands on me, so I’m going to start setting demands for myself. Starting with this blog thing.

I’m not sure what I hope to accomplish by posting a blog every day this week, but we’ll see. It never hurts to set goals for yourself to learn some self-discipline. Maybe that’s my goal: to learn self discipline. Goodness knows I’d rather be watching episodes of Ace of Cakes online right now, but blog instead do I.

I want to talk about something near and dear to my heart, and something I’ve had a hard time articulating. Today, I try to cross that threshold.

Why I Like Harry Potter: An essay by Jillz

From the moment my English teacher in grade seven cracked the spine of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I was hooked. (Actually, that’s a lie; a guy in my class who had caused me mild annoyance and occasional frustration throughout the entirety of elementary school had already read the first three Harry Potter books, which were the only ones released up to this point in history. He was a bit of nerd [and not the good kind who are actually kind of cool], and he had the chapter titles memorized. Memorized! So he would announce out loud the names of the chapters as the teacher read, and that annoyed me.) As she read on, I became smitten with the characters and the story, and decided I needed to read the rest of the series. But I was a child who was particularly drawn to serial literature, and my adoration was mostly because I don’t like endings and I want a character’s life to continue indefinitely. It wasn’t until maybe book 5, Order of the Phoenix, that I really fell in love with the books.

One thing I’ve learned about my reading style is that I’m drawn to writing more so than story. A good story can hook anybody in, but often I’ll choose a book based on the style of narrative as opposed to the content. Take Julian Barnes: he’s kind of a boring story-teller, but man can he write. Ditto for John Green and Ian McEwan. I also don’t really like science fiction or fantasy. I couldn’t, and still to this day, can’t read The Lord of the Rings. I can’t latch onto the story because I can’t relate. Hobbits and trolls and dwarves are not things I’ve experienced or can imagine easily, and therefore I can’t connect with it.

By the time the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, came out, I was hooked. I spent the two days after I got it lying on my couch devouring the story. I was depressed when it was over, because a) I couldn’t be a part of their world in real life, and b) I couldn’t continue the tale until the next book came out. I think it was the first time I really, really loved a book, or a series. It was the first time I felt like I had become a part of the story and it was the first time I realized the complete power of books to wrap their words around your soul and drag you into a narrative that otherwise you’d never have experienced.

Harry Potter is brilliant on so many levels. The story is intricate and complicated and constantly leaves you rooting for the good guys, even when they’re terrible human beings. I think this is why Order of the Phoenix is necessary. It allows the series to transition to a more serious, dark and adult series. Up until book 5, Harry is this nice, likable hero, but when he turns 15 he just cracks and goes nuts. He becomes broody and angry and angsty everything that teens should be and, in fact, are. The story becomes so real, and because the wizard world and the “muggle” world so often intersect, the ability to imagine yourself as a part of this narrative becomes so much easier.

On top of the great story of strength, love, perseverance, acceptance, and honour (and really, what’s more important to write about?), the writing is fantastic. I realized how amazing J.K. Rowling was at stringing words into sentences in the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (and, also, my favourite of the series). In one scene, Harry is hiding under a table, eavesdropping on a conversation he’s not supposed to hear. At the end, the speakers all stand up to leave; except, Rowling doesn’t write that they stood up. She writes: “One by one, the pairs of feet in front of Harry took the weight of their owners once more; hems of cloaks swung into sight and Madam Rosmerta’s glittering heels disappeared behind the bar.” It’s almost poetic, really.

I’m not into the merchandise associated with the Harry Potter franchise. Yeah, I think wands are fun and I like my time-turner because it’s a nod to a series that has really moved me. But I could do without the movies and the branding of Harry Potter. I could do without the Disney World theme park and I don't want to own a cloak. The books I fell in love with look very different in my mind, and the movies erase a lot of the magic about the books, which lies in the writing and the emotional dynamics that can’t be caught on film. It makes me sad to think that there is an entire generation of children who’ll never read Harry Potter without picturing Daniel Radcliffe.

Anyway, to round out this post, I thought I’d link one of my favourite Wheezy Waiter videos. Enjoy!
See you tomorrow,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Post the Seventh - Coffee Talk

I know this is very meta of me, but I’d like to discuss two important points:
  1. The titles of my posts
  2. The newly added “Quote of the Post” (see right ->)
First: For those who are well-versed in Children’s literature, or just have a vast amount of useless trivia stashed away in your heads, you’ll have recognized the title of each entry as a reference to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Each title in the series begins Book the (insert serial number here), followed by the title of the book. For example, book number one is called Book the First: The Bad Beginning.

Anyway, the reason I decided to pay homage to Lemony Snicket is two-fold: I had just finished reading The Bad Beginning when I started this blog, and I thought the title so clever and catchy I decided to echo it in my writing, AND I think Lemony Snicket’s work is absolutely brilliant. What I like specifically about his writing is the way the narrator interacts with both the audience and the characters of the stories, completely destroying the fourth wall that normally exists between the speaker and the audience or the characters. I also like how he interacts with his own writing; when he uses a word that children are unlikely to have come across before, or, if they have, have never been explained the meaning, he defines it in a way that pertains to the story. What is brilliant about this is that he does it without being condescending to the audience. For example, after using the word "briskly", he writes “The word 'briskly' here means 'quickly, so as to get the Baudelaire children to leave the house.'” This tone implies that the reader already knows one definition, but he’s just clarifying for the particular instance in the text. It’s really quite clever, in my non-expert opinion.

Secondly: I’ve added a gadget on the right where I’ll put a different quote from a favourite book every time I add a new post. This is partly for my benefit; I always read books with a pen so I can underline quotes that I think are particularly brilliant or well-written or important or beautiful. I have this dream of taking the time to go through all my books, write down everything I’ve underlined on separate index cards, complete with page numbers and bibliographic information, and filing them away in a quote box. That way, whenever I need a direct quote from an author and I can’t remember exactly where it is in the book, I can pull out my quote box and locate it quickly. (Yes, I am a nerd. Clearly.)

ANYWAY, in an effort to both document some of these quotes and share some of my most favourite words in my most favourite sentences with some of my most favourite people, I thought I’d share a new quote every week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, and maybe you’ll be inspired to read a book or an article that you hadn’t heard of or been interested in before.

Right now I’m sitting in a coffee shop off campus. I needed to pick up a book so I bused to the nearest Chapters to wander the shelves for a bit and pick up John Green’s An Abundance of KatherinesThere’s little else better to do on a rainy, gray day than spend an hour perusing the shelves at a bookstore or library. Whenever I meander through the book stacks, I feel this sense of anticipation and excitement, knowing that there are thousands and millions of worlds that I have access to through the pages of an unopened book, and whatever one I pick has the potential to change my life. Woah.

So I picked up the book and decided to add a maple latte to the mix, then spend some time on my online school work while sipping merrily away. Unfortunately, the internet at this location is sporadic at best, so I decided to work on this entry instead. Coffee, I find, is best shared over conversation with others, and since I know a total of 10 people out of 2 million in the GVR and none of them are here, I figured I’d talk to myself, with the eventuality of sharing it with you.

I must go now and pick up some bread. A classmate, Thea, is coming over for supper tonight and I am going to feed her omelets. One cannot have omelets without toast, however, and I don’t have any bread. So I’m off to find a bakery and then back to campus to do laundry before my night class.

A bientot (with appropriate accents that I'm too lazy to put in),

PS - those of you who were concerned about the functionality of my raincoat before: good news! My coat seems to be back in working order, as I’ve worn it all day and I’m dry as a piece of my room mate’s toast.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Post the Sixth - Thoughts, etc.

Sometimes I have thoughts. As I was sitting in my English class the other day, not listening to my prof repeat verbatim the same announcements that she gave the previous three classes, I wrote some of them down:
  • Russian is my favourite language (well, a close second to English, anyway). Those “romantic” languages that everyone else goes wild over - French, Italian, Spanish - are not particularly pleasing to my ear. They all sound like whoever is repeating them is just trying to woo the listener back to their hotel room; or, at least, that’s what I imagine they’re saying. Russian and other Eastern European languages have this lilt to them that sort of sound like the speaker is chewing bubble gum and their tongue got caught in the wad they were gnawing on while trying to ask the grizzled postal worker the price of stamps. It sounds like the pleasant glob noise that honey and other sticky viscous substances make when they hit the inside of a ceramic bowl. *dreamy sigh*
  • I like a lot about Vancouver, but I absolutely abhor this humidity. It is murdering my hair. Whenever I do my hair in the morning, I am always satisfied until I step out of my building and walk to class. By the time I get there, I have this ridiculous wave on the left side of my head and my bangs are plastered to my forehead. This is not the way to attract a tall blond British boy who speaks Russian fluently.
  • I really like YouTube users, those who make vlogs, but this concept of YouTube “celebrities” is such an odd phenomenon. I spent most of my tweets on Twitter begging a certain video blogger - or “vlogger” for the unfamiliar - Wheezy Waiter to mention me in his videos. My attempts have been in vain, despite the help from another faithful Nerdfighter Wheels in promoting my quest on Twitter. But why do I care? This is just some guy sitting in his apartment making videos about handstands, alligator pits in his apartment, putting on wigs and loving coffee when it’s done. It’s completely nonsensical, and perhaps that’s why I love it. The whole vlog vehicle is an entirely unique form of self-expression, and I dig it.
  • I like Starbucks’ “Pumpkin Spice” lattes better without whip.
  • On the Starbucks note: why is it that lemon-cranberry scones at Starbucks have icing while no other flavour does? Are these the most unhealthy of all scones, and thus they have thrown any notion of health to the wind and poured pink syrupy happiness all over the scone to make its delicious level peak at 100%? Or, conversely, are they mega healthy and they’ve decided to tone down their goodness by adding a layer of pure sugar to the top? Things we’ll never know. While we’re on the topic of  scones, though, I’ve decided that Starbucks scones are sub-par. They are far too cakey in their texture. Clearly the head chef at Starbucks has never tasted a real scone and noted the crumbly, almost puff-pasty without all the buttery-ness-like texture. Someone needs to make him/her a good ol’ Newfie tea-bun, to show them how a scone should really react when bitten into: crumble every so slighty and make you desperate for a sip of coffee/tea before all the moisture is sucked from your mouth trying to chew it.
In other news, I went to Granville island with Michelle yesterday. It was supposed to be rainy all weekend but the sun decided to make an appearance unexpectedly, and the afternoon was beautiful for strolling around. We took in the market and Michelle showed me around her school - Emily Carr University. She showed me totem poles mid-construction, and we ogled expensive art that we could never afford.

Today I finally made it to church - first service I attended in Vancouver! I went to a United church not far from school. The people were incredibly friendly and they made me sign the guest book, wear a name-tag, and everyone shook my hand. The average age of the congregation was somewhere around 65 years old, and their big event of the week was the knitting club. The woman sitting in front of me invited me to come and offered to teach me how to knit. Some sweet.

The service was nice, albeit different from what I’m used to. I had no idea what this “Passing of the Peace” was, and everyone stood up and walked around - I mean, no one was even remotely near their original seat. Choir members were out in the porch, passing peace to people on the street. I sat in my seat, smiling and watching, and everyone who shook my hand said “Peace be with you!” and I had no idea what to say in return. I smiled, nodded, and mumbled something like “Peace in the middle east” or “peace love soccer,” or just simply “thank you!” The congregation looked something like this:

Anyway, the pastor was lovely and she had a very nice sermon, and she welcomed me back next week. I’m glad I finally got to a place of worship, but I think next week I’m going to try out the good old Army in Burnaby, mostly so I don’t have to pass the peace anymore.

I just finished reading Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. While the story itself is shocking and grotesque at times, it’s clearly a well-written mystery novel. Even at 2:00am when I was exhausted and my eyes were shutting of their own accord, and I was scared out of my wits at the story, I had to keep reading. That Larsson knows how to spin a yarn, I tell you. Not sure if I'll continue on with the trilogy, as I have Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski's gem Soccernomics: Why England loses, why Germany and Brazil win, and why the U.S., Japan, Australia, Turkey - and even Iraq - are destined to become the kings of the world's most popular sport (holy long title, Batman!) waiting for me.

I’m excited that so many people are reading my blog. It’s encouraging, and it’s a great way for me to document my time here at UBC. Perhaps I’ll even use these writings for something important someday... one never knows!

Peace be with you,

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Post the Fifth - Jillian the Student vs. Public Transport

I’m currently sitting in my room, satisfactorily filled from a deliciously epic salad (I mean epic. I cooked chicken and made homemade croutons and everything!), content and cozy after a pleasant day. I don’t have class on Tuesdays, so this morning I met the lovely Michelle Stoney on W10th Ave. We ate Chinese food and discovered that we share the same passion for beef and broccoli, and then indulged ourselves on Coldstone ice cream. Michelle is a more dedicated fan than I; even though she is lactose intolerant, she popped pills and forged ahead. Michelle is a die-hard Canucks fan, so I’m going to see a game with her in October! This is actually a huge deal, as some of you may recognize, as I am a self-proclaimed hockey ignoramus. However, I believe there is still hope for me yet, and all of Laura Fagner’s hours spent trying to teach me about the conferences and points might not yet be in vain.

(An aside: Michelle was having trouble seeing today. She thought she might have lost a contact on the bus. I just received a text from her saying that all was fine, she just had her contacts in the wrong eyes.)

I had a slightly rough weekend. Friday was great - I bussed to North Vancouver to meet up with the Crosses. We ate supper at their house and then Jen and I tackled her IKEA shelf. It was huge, and I now understand every comedian’s jokes about putting together IKEA furniture - how on earth are people supposed to know which screw is which? They all look the same! Anyway, it all came together, and I think we did a pretty dece job, all said and done.

On Saturday, I planned to meet the Crosses at a BC Lions game and go to the Starfield concert afterwards. The BC Lions field is pretty far away from UBC, so I had to get the bus. I used the Translink trip planner online and I was totally prepared to get to the field for the 1:15 start. I left the campus, bright and excited for a date with Starfield. Here I was in my red sweater, “Hand that Holds the World” shirt, braided bangs and huge earrings, waiting innocently for the bus. There was a small crowed gathered, also waiting on a sunny morning for the Number 17: Oak via Downtown bus at UBC Loop Bay 12. After the departure time had come and gone, and I began looking around curiously, a man approached in a BC Transit outfit and told us that we’d be best off catching another bus, as there was a delay with the No. 17. Now: I had only prepared for the 17, and I wasn’t entirely sure how else to get downtown, but I nervously followed the crowd to the other loop, hoping I’d find a downtown route. The only other bus I knew, the 44, wasn’t running at that time, and I had no idea how to get to my next stop via the 99, so, dejectedly, I ambled back to wait for 17. Finally, a half hour later, it arrived and I hopped on.

My next stop and transfer proved to be more problematic. I arrived at the stop with 20 minutes until kick-off, so I figured I’d get there shortly after the game started. Because of the game that day, there was a back up of busses at the field. The bus I was waiting for didn’t show up for 20 minutes, while several other numbers whizzed by. When the right bus finally stopped and some 30 students who were waiting with me clambered on, I heard the driver say something like “No stopping in Vancouver, this is the express.” I tentatively asked him “Does this bus go to the BC Lions field?” He looked at me with annoyance and smugness and replied “Is that in Vancouver?” I stared back and answered meekly “I don’t know. I just moved here.” He then laughed evilly, said “Yeah it’s in Vancouver! I’m not stopping!” AND SHUT THE DOOR ON ME!!


Anyway, I finally caught a bus and made it to the game 2 minutes before half time (which is totally fine because 2 minutes in football is actually 26 minutes and 42 seconds), meaning that my ticket was still available. The game was boring, mostly because I know nothing about football. Not even enough to pretend to know when to cheer. I had Cameron telling me “That was good! Cheer!” or “That was bad! Stop cheering!” When we finally got to the concert, it was good, because Starfield are awesome! But they only sang a few songs and then a bunch of football players came onstage to talk about how they deal with adversity, etc. Boring, largely. And then it started raining. We left to get food because we were starved, and then I began my looooong bus journey home (where I again missed the right bus, and had to make several transfers.)

So I was pretty bummed on Saturday, after the rain and the bus confusion and the short concert. I planned to go to church on Sunday, and I had seen a United church not far from campus on the bus route early that week. I looked it up when I got home and planned my transit there. I rose bright and early, dressed in my finest (Riff’s dress!) and heels, and, because it was pouring rain, donned my rain coat and umbrella. No transport problems this time, but when I got off at the stop, I couldn’t find the church! I was positive I had seen it on the bus the day before, but I couldn’t find it! I wandered around, sopping wet, clicking heels stepping in puddles, and waving a bright pink umbrella. I came across a Chinese Baptist church, but no English place of worship. When I looked at my watch and realized the service had already started and I still had no idea where to go, I stood under the eave of a bank, and, crying, called home.

Luckily my day brightened up when Marion and Muna, friends from home, came to campus to eat supper with me. I made omelette wraps and we tried to warm up from our sopping wet clothes. My rain coat seems to have stopped working, also. I was completely soaked through. Not a good time to not have a working raincoat, living in Vancouver.


I passed in my first assignment for school today. It was just a reading response, but it’s sort of momentous, right? First assignment of my Masters.

Yeah, that’s what I thought.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Post the Fourth - I'm a Stranger Here Myself

I am completely anonymous here.

Well, I suppose, I’m not completely unknown here. I have a few friends from Newfoundland who’ve made their home, some temporarily, in the Greater Vancouver Regional District. But on campus, aside from my room mates and a few girls I’ve met so far, I’m essentially The Invisible Man on campus. And I love it.

For the last six months of my undergraduate degree, I really felt exhausted. Not only was I tired from school work and the late nights and coffee highs that come along with it, nor was I just tired of working two or more jobs in addition to a full course load. I was tired socially. I know that sounds weird or ungrateful or pretentious, but hear me out: People are my drug. At MUN in my classes and various jobs, and especially at the Writing Centre, I found people who nourished me mentally, emotionally, academically, and spiritually. And, like an addict, I threw myself into my substance, my people “crack,” if you will. I loved it. I loved seeing someone I knew every two minutes, grabbing a coffee during every 30 minute break. It was a high for me. I was hyper-aware of my surroundings, waiting to see who I’d run into next and catch up with over a $4.99 Starbucks latte.

But as everyone knows, you eventually crash from your drug high. My last semester at MUN, I crashed hard. I was drained in every possible way a human can be, and I needed out. I needed a fresh start. I needed to be able to walk around, sit on a bench, and have an hour of complete aloneness. I honestly can say that before this week, I can’t remember the last time I sat in a public place and actual focused on what I was reading without looking up every minute to see if I knew anyone in the building.

So being here at UBC is such a pure, unadulterated beginning for me. The weather is nice, the campus is beautiful, there is the unmistakeable air of academic anticipation. I’ve only had two classes so far, but I am intrigued by them. My class on children’s literature is my only English class this semester, and I’m glad I have it because I’m already missing being an English student. The professor has the historical knowledge of Loman and the wit and edge of Lokash, so I am in safe hands with her. I’m also taking a course about literary theory and criticism in relation to teaching children’s lit, which promises to be a class filled with excellent discussion, plus the prof is sweet and gentle. This is what Michael Scott would call a Win-Win-Win situation.

As promised, I shall post some pictures of the new pad for y’all. This is my bed, complete with socks and tissues:

And this is my desk. As you can see, I've been enjoying myself some Extras:

This is the shelf that I put together all by myself with a screwdriver, a laundry basket, frying pan, and a flip-flop:

My closet, neater than it's ever been at home or ever will be again:

A poster that my dad bought me. It says "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." So true, Samuel Johnson. So true.

And, lastly, this is the view of my room standing by the closet and facing the window:

It's a fairly dandy room, all in all. I'm happy with how it looks and it feels cozy. All I need now are Millie and my entire book collection to feel fully settled.

Goodnight, etc.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Post the Third - Feel the Burn

Since being here, I’ve decided two things:
1. I’m really glad I got my hair cut, and
2. Buying sunglasses before coming to Vancouver was a very wise decision.

I’m happy about the first decision because my hair takes 3 minutes to dry and I pretty much am happy with how it looks every day. I suppose I could have made this discovery even if I had a haircut at home, but it somehow seems more important in Vancouver. Secondly, it has been so sunny here and we’ve been walking around outside so much that my sunglasses have been an absolute blessing. It is important to note how monumental it is that I’ve purchased sunglasses, as I’ve never worn them in my entire life. It’s amazing what I’ve been missing out on! No more squinty eyes in pictures or when trying to see something in the distance. Also, I can watch people and no one can see where I’m looking. Yes, I am a supercreep.

Last night I slept in my new apartment for the first time. I have been moving stuff in over the past four days, but yesterday I curled up in my $15 Wal-Mart comforter at the new digs. I have to say, I really like my room. It’s much nicer than I expected it to be, and it’s the biggest bedroom in the “quad” (aka apartment), so that’s great. Over the past few days, Dad and I have been picking up stuff for the place - dishes, frying pan, groceries, a shelf, etc. I’ve learned two things from this experience so far: it’s not cheap living on your own, and I’ve an attraction to kitchen gadgets that has hit me full-force over the past three days. Wandering through a store called Kitchen Goodies (or something like that) I spent a longer than average time ogling egg timers. I’ve also started lusting after silicone spatulas. It’s a weird world, really.

Dad and I have had a good time gallivanting around Vancouver so far. We spent some time on Kitsilano Beach on Friday morning. I waded in the Pacific ocean then got my fill of vitamin D by napping in the sun while Dad took scenic pictures. We then walked around downtown, and then Dad decided we should walk to Stanley Park and, once there, rent bikes to take it all in. It seemed like a long walk, but I wanted Dad to have a good time and he was set on seeing Stanley Park, so off we went. As we strolled along the sea-walk, or whatever its called, I became increasingly aware how long this walk would be. My feet were warning me that I’d better stop soon, and it was a hot day and I hadn’t dressed comfortably. Eventually I, moodily I might add, declared that I would walk no further and took refuge in some shady trees by the water. Dad continued onto Stanley Park and I sat reading in the shade for a few hours. It was delightful, and exactly the type of thing I imagined myself doing in Vancouver on a regular basis. Once we got back to the hotel room, I calculated the distance walked: I walked something like 9 kilometers, and Dad a whopping 14. The next morning our leg muscles were wicked sore and we had a sunburn to boot. Beauty.

Yesterday we had planned on attending Cariboo Hill Salvation Army Temple in Burnaby. My friend Jeanette decided to join us, and we both deduced from the website that there were two services on Sundays - one at 9 and one at 11. Naturally, we agreed to meet with Jeanette at the church for the 11:00 service. We arrived at 10:20 to a full parking lot and assumed, again naturally, that the 9:00 service was still underway. We drove around a bit and then arrived back to the church by 10:50, where we met Jeanette - and no one else - in the lobby. When we walked in, it was clear there was a service happening, and someone was in the middle of the sermon. We waited until 11:00 to confirm our suspicion that, indeed, there was no 11:00 service and we had been foiled once again by the internetz. We then took a drive up to see Jeanette’s university - Simon Fraser.

We then met out friends the Crosses for lunch. They took us out to an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet. LIFE EXPERIENCE TIME! Luckily, Jenn is the resident sushi expert and ordered everything for us. I obviously liked all the Canadian-ized food, like Teriyaki chicken and crispy wings, but the sushi was ok too. I ate raw tuna and salmon, which most of you will know is amazing because a) I don’t eat fish, especially if b) it’s raw. But I am alive and well and have lived to tell the tale.

Today I am trying to get my room in order. I have a full day of orientation tomorrow, so I want my room to be relatively livable before I toss myself into the throws of education. I don’t really feel anything about starting school. I think maybe it hasn’t hit me that in 48 hours I’ll have assignments to write and books to read and group meetings to attend. I still feel like I’m recovering from my undergrad. We’ll see how it all pans out over the next week.


Also: it rained today for the first time since we got here. Now I really feel like I’m in Vancouver.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Post the Second - The Girl Who Travelled Back in Time

Hello loyal fan following (or Mom, as the case may be):

I have arrived safe and sound in Vancouver. And by “I” I mean “we” - myself and father Sexton have landed and are currently chillaxin’ in our hotel. But before I ramble on about V-dot, a word about my last week in Newfoundland:

I’m still pretty tired from the past week’s events. Between Kayla’s bachelorette party, last minute wedding prep, and the actual event, I am exhausted. For all that, though, Kayla and Gavin’s wedding was superb. The ceremony was beautiful and fairly short, which is always a plus. I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would, which is also a plus. However, I’ve discovered something that I’ve always known but never fully realized until the wedding day: once you start to cry, your nose starts to run. And once your nose starts to run, it becomes independent of your crying, and becomes and unstoppable force. This is a particular problem when you are holding two bouquets and glasses in your hands, and then must sign an official document, such as a marriage certificate.

In any case, the flow was finally stemmed and we carried on to pictures. I’ve yet to see any of them, but Kayla and Gav (newly christened “Gayla”) saw a few and said they were lovely. I am looking forward to seeing the final product. After the bridal party finished pictures, Gayla and their entourage (read: their photographer and their driver) went off for couple pics and the rest of us gathered in Venice Pizzeria for a slab of pizza, pre-reception. The girls hadn’t eaten much all day, thanks to Jana’s hair fiasco (the bowl look, we call it), which required a second trip to the salon and, subsequently, cut into our eating time.

The reception itself was lovely. Not only was the hall beautiful and the food good, but the MCs were fabulous (holla at cha, Wheels and Nubs!) and the dance was amazing. Now, the dance was partially so good because I absolutely loved the play list I created, but also because it was great to party it up on the dance floor with some good friends and family. I danced so much that my calve muscles are still sore. I quite literally couldn’t walk without wincing for two days following. That is definitely the sign of a good time.

Anyway, here we are, four days later, and I am 7000 kilometres away from the motherland. Our trip today was relatively uneventful, except that Dad and I didn’t eat for almost 12 hours. Well.. that’s not entirely true. When Kayla and I travelled to BC in June, we quite literally didn’t eat for the entire day because of the time difference; essentially, travelling to BC from Newfoundland means I travel back in time and gain 4.5 hours on my day. By the time we realized we were hungry, the flight attendants wouldn’t feed us. When we finally put food in our bellies, it was something like 14:30 Newfoundland time. (Side note: I’ve decided to write all my times in 24-hour clock, just to keep your brains from developing Alzheimer's.) This time I was determined not to get caught in the same unfortunate hunger conundrum. Dad and I decided to buy sandwiches on the flight attendants’ second sweep-through; however, by the time they got to us, all they had left were “Jet-Packs.” These are not as space-age as they sound. Essentially, my “lunch” consisted of four morsels of teriyaki Beef Jerky, roughly 13 pita chips, 6 knock-off Ritz crackers, a tube - yes, a TUBE - of hummus, and a fruit bar that claimed to contain no gluten, no soy, no tree or pine nuts, no sugar, no oats, no honey, and no artificial fruit of any kind, which lead Dad to exclaim in a perplexed manner “so what’s it made of?” No one knows, Dad. To top off our over-packaged and under-tasty dinner was a package of 6 dried apricots. Mmmm. There’s seriously nothing I find less desirable in a state of epic hunger than dried apricots.

After landing in Vancouver, and an hour’s wait at Hertz for our rental car, we made it to the hotel. It’s a pretty funky-shaped building, and the guy at the front desk was so formal, reservedly friendly and overly informative that I liked him instantly. We dined at the hotel’s restaurant, which is actually next door and not in the same building, and I wolfed my food down so fast that by the time our waiter came back to check how everything was going, I was using the last of my garlic bread to sweep every last morsel of rose sauce from the bowl. Then Dad and I decided to stretch our legs and explore a bitta Vancouver, as it was still only 16:00 and the setting afternoon was still sunny and warm. We inadvertently toured a bit of run-down industrial Vancouver (snooze alert!) before finding a coffee shop with take-out desserts and heading back to the hotel for internetz, a call back home, and the devouring of cake.

Tomorrow shall involve getting a new BC phone number, biking around Stanley Park, maybe a bit more walking, and a museum or two. Hopefully I will squeeze some shopping in, too, without Dad realizing what I’m doing. *shifty eyes*

I must go eat more cake before settling in for the evening. No one can tell you not to eat cake in bed in a hotel! Vancouver is the best city ever!