Tuesday, October 09, 2007
As a lover of satire, however, it should come as no surprise to hear that I prefer Animal Farm, which I also re-read just a few short weeks ago. I think it is the simplicity of the story that I am drawn to - the ease with which Orwell illustrates the political transformations.
Overall, I'd say that 1984 is less subtle than its earlier counterpoint, which is best characterized by delicate acuteness in its inventiveness and story tale appearance. Both stories appeal to me, both as a liberal audience and as a lover of literature, and I find myself sad to realize that it will be months, if not years, before I am struck with the desire to re-read these 2 novels once again.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Unintentionally, my heart deceives me. Unplanned, my feelings waver. Is it
truly him? Or rather the idea of him that draws me in, even now.
Strange to be alone when I want companionship, after years of companionship when I wanted to be alone. Is it my mind or my heart that toys with me like this?
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Normally, first impressions make - well - an impression. Luckily, I was able to see past the one that began with Dad suspicious about Stephen's newest friend. He was curious as to why my brother, a young 22 year old, had been spending a growing amount of time with Josh, a 28 year old grown up from Montreal. I distinctly remember Dad's tone when he said those words to me, "Grown Up" as though the words themselves were imbued with sinister intentions. "What could they possibly have in common?" I remember him asking me this, as though the 6 years mark some drastic generational gap - which is made even more bizarre by the fact that Dad's best friend is nearly 15 years his senior.
So I'm not sure what I expected when I met the now-infamous Josh myself, but what I found, was a delightfully whimsical though mature individual. In the beginning, our time together was spent usually laughing, picking fun at each other, and pulling up our sleeves to help Stephen move furniture from one side of the city to another. He had the ability to get under my skin, while he referred to me simply as "Steve's sister" whenever speaking to his wife, Sam, but still, he did so with a mischevious glint in his eyes. It didn't take long, after turning the tables and referring to him as "Sam's husband" that my own identity in the Margo household was established.
Josh's wife, Sam, was a bit more reclusive. For weeks, we heard about each other through mutual friends, but our introduction did not take place until weeks after Josh & I had established a friendship. Between her busy school schedule (Masters program at the UofC) and her jaunts across the country (visits to Vancouver and Montreal), I began to think she was just a figment of Josh & Stephen's collective imaginations. They both swore she was real, and I suspected as much from the wedding picture hanging on Josh's wall, and her various comments on Stephen's facebook page, but it became an amusing anecdote until we finally met.
Besides the happy couple, there is one most fateful member of the Margo family that warrants a mention in this happy tale. Kali. The four-legged Margo whose presence was expected at every Saturday night bonfire, every "Apples to Apples" funtastic event, and every Sunday morning walk with Sam, Stephen & Karma. Kali, who despite being 14 years old, has more energy than 2 year old Karma and can outrun him, outplay him, and outsmart him. Kali, who at 14 can jump higher and farther than Karma, albeit sometimes taking nose dives into the side of the couch while chasing his toys across the room. Kali, who has learned with age that he's more likely to earn a morsel of food if he charms people that if he jumps up their legs. And Kali, who despite being 14 years old, has such a dominant sex drive than poor Karma has time and again been overpowered and humped into submission by the little Margo terror.
Karma has not been alone in this humiliation - Kali has a bitch. Many a game night at Josh & Sam's includes the forlorn mooing sneaking out from the toy wedged between Kali's salivating jaw. The cow, endearingly referred to as 'the bitch' by friends and family alike, is Kali's most prized possession. I can only hope that that stuffed cow has seen better days because it's currently in such a dilapidated state that Kali has nearly run out of stuffing to rip out through the threadbare stitches.
Now that we've met the Margos, it's only fitting that they are leaving us. Upon completion of her Master's Thesis, Sam will have completed her time at the UofC, and in effect, her time in Calgary. It should therefore come as no surprise, that despite the hassles of moving, both Josh and Sam are eager to move back East - 'home' if you will - and needless to say, Kali will join them. And so, for the first time in my life, when Josh departs Thursday for Ottawa, instead of being the one to leave, I will be one of the ones left behind. This development has been a catalyst for a range of thoughts and emotions running through my psyche. Every time I've moved away, friends have gathered to say farewell & to share my last few days together. With Josh & Sam, there was no difference. During the last week, we've had our last Saturday game night, our last party/get together, and our last goodbyes. I'm not part of the Tuesday night Hockey Crew, but I know there must have been quite a sendoff yesterday for Josh's last Tuesday Night Hockey, as there will be for Sam when she has her last meeting with her Thesis Advisor.
All these lasts and goodbyes, and I can't help but feel sad at the absense they will leave in our lives. But rather than be depressed and dissapointed over moments in life that are beyond my control, I decided to have some fun with one more last the Margos & Plucers will share.
Kali & Karma's last sendoff.
I know that while Stephen & I will miss Josh & Sam, we at least have the ability to E-mail, Facebook, SMS, phone, etc. Poor Kali & Karma have none of the luxuries available to those of us with opposable thumbs, and therefore, they are truly saying goodbye to eachother. For Karma, this probably won't be as difficult a farewell, knowing the role he plays in their little companionship. Kali, on the otherhand, will have to endure the loss of his four-legged pal, walk-mate and concubine. This in addition to the inevitable death of his bitch, and poor Kali is likely to flee his new life in Ottawa out of pure desperation of heart.
And so, our tale nears its pinnacle. What could I possibly do to ease our Kali's pain? What could I hope to buy for Josh & Sam that thoughts of me might work their way into their new lives? What could I think of to send the Margos off with a hearty chuckle reminiscent of the laughs we've shared these past months?
And then it hit me: The perfect solution!
I called Stephen & Becky (his girlfriend) and recruited their help. We ran to the mall, pushing our way through the throngs of onlookers and mall-walkers. Eagerly, Becky led the way into Build-A-Bear, her home away from home, and directly to the object I had been seeking. Object in hand, we moved to the next station, where she found the sound-producer I had been hoping for. Next, the stuffing station, where I had to drive the giant machine which seemed to be pouring life rather than stuffing. And the piece de resistance, Becky, Stephen & myself each chose a tiny heart and nestled it deep within the chest region of our growing machination. Finally, the last station helped us give birth to our new entity; at long last, and with birth certificate in hand, Kali's new playmate Karma, was born.
And so, it was with eager anticipation that we returned home from the mall. I wanted Kali, upon received his gift, to recognize it as a substitute Karma and thus I spent my afternoon trying to convince Karma Karma that the new Karma was harmless. I wanted them to play together, hoping that some of Karma Karma's essence would rub off on the new effigy, turning it from merely a stuffed dog to an entity worthy of Kali's adulation. Admittedly, we were shocked to find that Karma Karma was scared out of his wits by the stuffed animal. It took two of us to hold him down long enough to rub him down with the faux-Karma, and he was left trembling for ages. In the end, he was curious enough to follow me around when I was wrapping the doll and preparing him for Kali, but still too scared to come close enough for a good sniff.
Monday night, Stephen, Becky and I prepared ourselves and our gifts, and made our way to the Margos'. Sam was already in bed, and Josh seemed frazzled from a long day of packing, sorting, and preparing the apartment for his departure. Stephen & Becky handed over their gifts, and I excitedly waited to present mine. When it was time, I began with the spiel I had prepared, explaining that I didn't want to Kali to be lonely, and I knew it was time to replace his precious cow. I pulled Karma out of the bag, and handed it to Josh, eager to see his reaction. He seemed content to follow Stephen's excited advice to "squeeze the left paw" and finally, I got the reaction I had been hoping for. When a powerful "Moooooo" repeated itself 3 times from the depths of Kali's new playtoy, Josh's face lit up with delight, and I knew my gift was a success.
And that is the Tale of the Moo-ing Dog.
Monday, July 30, 2007
ISTJs are the serious, responsible, and sensible stalwarts of society. They are trustworthy and honour their commitments. Their word is their solemn vow.
Practical and realistic, ISTJs are matter-of-fact and thorough. They are painstakingly accurate and methodical, with great powers of concentration. Whatever they are doing they accomplish with orderliness and reliability. They have unshakable, well-thought-out ideas and are difficult to distract or discourage once they have embarked on what they believe to be the best course of action.
Characteristically quiet and hardworking, ISTJs have great practical judgement and memory for details. They can cite accurate evidence to support their views and apply their past experiences to their present decisions. They value and use logic and impersonal analysis, are organizes and systematic in their approach to following things through and getting them done on time. They follow necessary systems and procedures and are impatient with those who do not.
ISTJs are cautious and traditional. They listen well and like things to be factual and clearly states. They are said to “Say what you mean and mean what you say.” Private by nature, ISTJs appear calm even during times of crisis. They are duty bound and steadfast but beneath their calm façade, they may have strong yet rarely expressed reactions.
Possible Blind Spots
A common problem for ISTJs is their tendency to lose themselves in the details and daily operations of a project. Once immersed, they can be rigid and unwilling to adapt of accept another point of view. They tend to be sceptical of new ideas if they don’t see their immediate and practical application. They need to take time to look at their overall objectives and consider alternatives they may not have considered. Gathering a wider range of information and consciously trying to anticipate the future implications of their behaviour will increase the ISTJ’s effectiveness in all areas.
ISTJs sometimes have trouble understanding the needs of others, especially those that are different from their own. Because they keep their reactions private, they can be perceives as cold and unfeeling. They need to express their appreciation for others directly, rather than keeping it to themselves.
Because they are logical, ISTJs tend to expect others to be so as well. They run the risk of imposing their judgements on others and overriding the opinions of less assertive people. They can demand conformity to their way of doing things and discourage more creative or innovative approaches. By staying open to untested or unconventional methods, they will develop more tolerance for differences in people, and also end up with more effective alternatives and options.
My Temperament: SJ
SJs are the most traditional of the four temperaments. They value law and order, security, propriety, rules and conformity. They are driven by a strong motivation to serve society’s needs. SJs respect authority, hierarchy, and the chain of command, and generally have conservative values. They are bound by their sense of duty and always try to do the right thing, which makes them reliable, dependable and above all else, responsible.
SJs at Work
SJs need to belong, to serve, and to do the right thing. They value stability, orderliness, cooperation, consistency, and reliability, and they tend to be serious and hardworking. SJs demand a great deal of themselves on the job and expect the same of others.
Strengths. SJs are practical, organizes, thorough and systematic. They pay attention to regulations, policies, contracts, rituals, and time lines. They are excellent at guarding, monitoring, and regulating. SJs prefer to deal with proven facts and use them to further the goals of the organization to which they belong. They take great pride in doing something right the first time and every time. They are good at seeing what needs attention and at getting the job done with the available resources as efficiently as possible. Once they’ve committed themselves, SJs always follow through. At their best, SJs are solid, trustworthy, and dependable.
A good job for an SJ might be one that involves a relatively high level of responsibility within a stable company that has a clearcut chain of command. Since SJs like structure, they are generally comfortable in organizations that have a fair number of rules and standard ways of doing things. SJs prefer working in an environment where both regulations and rewards are certain. (They don’t like positions or organizations where everything is in a state of flux or confusion!) SJs prefer colleagues who share their dedication and respect for authority and who pull their own weight.
SJs make good managers. They appreciate the need for structure and are often the mainstays of organizations, either in leadership or support positions. The role they most often play is that of the stabilizer – the maintainer of traditions and the status quo.
As an ISTJ, career satisfaction means doing work that:
- Is technical in nature and lets me depend on my ability to use and remember important facts and details
- Involves a real product or service done in a thoughtful, logical, and efficient way, preferably using standard operations procedures
- Lets me be independent, with plenty of time to work alone and use my excellent powers of concentration to complete projects and/or tasks
- Is done in a stable and traditional environment, where I will not be required to take unnecessary risks or use untested or experimental approaches
- Has results that are tangible and measurable, where precision and exacting standards are used and respected
- Has explicit objectives and a clearly defined organizational structure
- Gives me adequate time to prepare before presenting or turning in my work, preferably in a one-on-one or small group setting
- Gives me increasing levels of responsibility, with a minimum of social politics, where I am evaluated on how well I have achieved the requirements of the job description and am appreciated for my contributions
- Is done in an environment where my practical judgement and experience are valued and rewarded
- Allows me to set and reach stated goals by providing me with the necessary resources
Popular Occupations for ISTJs
- Office Manager
- Word Processing Specialist
- Efficiency expert/analyst
- Police Officer/Detective
- Government Employee
- Real Estate Agent
- Bank Examiner
- Estate Planner
- School Principle
- Law Researcher
- Legal Secretary
- Computer Programmer
- Technical Writer
- Primary Care Physician
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Maybe Lora will help when she & Shinya come down to visit :o)
In the meantime, I've started looking for work. I have absolutely no idea what I want to do, so for now I'm going to temp agencies and letting them do the work for me. I figure that once I'm working and making a steady income, I'll have the time to go through all of my Japan journals and try writing out some anecdotes. Then I can see if they are any good, and maybe try getting them published somewhere. Maybe. For now, I just have to find the motivation to get out of the house, start working, and settling down into a new grown up life of bills, taxes & responsibilities.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Maybe at the end of the month I'll have more to say - after Lora & her beau come for a visit. :)
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
My Marnie-Day involved a number of memorable moments worth mentioning, but none have been as painfully memorable as my morning tumble down the baby-gated stairs. I suppose it was inevitable, given the calamities leading up to it... First of all, I'd had less than 6 hours sleep. Foolish on my part, yes, but to be fair, I've always been a night person, and since I'm not working yet, I have grown accustomed to sleeping in. Next, I zombied my way through the Tim Horton's drive-thru, but barely had time to swallow 1/3 of my Cappuccino. Then, as I made my way up the stairs to the front door, Marnie was already there holding the door open for me, suggesting that she had been desperately awaiting my arrival. She quickly began listing off the events she wanted to accomplish for the day, and so I dropped my breakfast and did my best to assist her in getting the children ready to leave. The toddler already had his sneakers on, his jacket zipped, and was just itching to get out the door. The baby wasn't quite asleep, but she laid back happily cooing as Marnie began settling her into her baby-seat for the car ride. It was then, when Marnie asked me to run down the stairs and grab a pair of socks for the newborn. Eager to help, I rushed over to the stairs, and stared dumbly at the baby gate that stood in my path.
"Just squeeze down and push it out," Marnie called to me from across the room.
Simple enough, or so I thought. Only.. where was I supposed to squeeze? Confused, and way to confident in my competence to ask for clarification, I decided that I was agile enough to step over the gate and avoid it altogether. I can picture the following events, almost in slow motion. It was easy to step over the gate and place one foot on the landing over the stairs. It was while I was bringing my second leg over top of the gate, that my body spun out and I lost my footing. I'm not sure that I knew what had happened before I came to rest at the bottom of the stairs, but judging from my bruises, aches and pains that have developed over the day, it must have been quite a tumble. I know that I basically fell backwards, ass-first towards the ground. I completely flipped over in what I can only imagine as the most awkward backwards somersault the world has ever seen, with my arms and legs flailing out futilely. Marnie's recounting of the sordid event mentioned seeing me disappear beneath her line of vision while the shadows on the wall were clear enough for her to describe that I literally flipped head over heels on my way down. Perhaps the worst part of the whole clumsy escapade was that in shock and surprise, Marnie called out to see if I was a) hurt and b) unconscious, and her children were both instantly aware of her panic. In chorus, the two kids began crying, and poor Marnie was stuck upstairs trying to console them while wondering if her plans for the day would be replaced with a call for an ambulance and a trip to the emergency room. I think she was relieved when I answered back, told her I was fine, and did my best to rush back with the fuzzy pink socks I'd been sent for.
Throughout the day, I felt fine, and really thought nothing of the whole event. That is, until I noticed that one of the fingertips on my left hand was turning black. Now, as I type this, I can't help but cringe every time said finger presses down on the "s" key. It reminds me though, how habitual some actions can be; how the tiniest details of our lives can become routine without our knowledge. I wonder if it is possible to reclaim control over these unconscious acts. I know that the longer I type, the stronger of a reflex I can develop against using my bruised fingertip, but without conscious thought, or further repetition, my typing will return to normal. I wonder what other little habits I have developed.. I wonder if I have the strength and conviction to change them.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
the silence is deafening & I feel so alone. the alone is different than the alone I had before. the alone is something I chose. the choice was to sacrifice you for them. ... unfair that I had to choose. but more unfair that you never asked me to stay.
msn. icq. aim. yahoo. skype. facebook. blogs. email. so many places. so many ways to stay in touch. but none feel the same. none wipe away my tears or make me laugh. none are there to wrap their arms around me when I ask. none of them bring you to me. none of them help you to know me. they can't - not unless you care enough to know me, and you don't. we both know it.
I wonder who you are. you, who I think about and write to. you who I imagine, you who I try to understand. but you do not ask about me, you do not try to know me. maybe you aren't the you I thought you were. maybe you .. no, I shouldn't say it.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
As for my condo, it's not quite finished yet, but I have all of my bedroom furniture in place, and I've slept at home for the last 4 nights. My couch has arrived, but the matching chair had to be special ordered and will be another few weeks. Dad bought me a super-huge TV as a housewarming-slash-graduation-slash-birthday present, and Squidge topped it off with the fancy-shmancy Shaw HDPVR box which lets me record up to 20 hours of TV. This has spawned a whole new TV addiction, since I can watch all the late shows without having to stay up for them. Yay.
I picked out some coffee tables from Pier One that I liked, and eventually I would like to get a rug and an entertainment unit to finish off the living room. I will need something with a billion shelves to hold all of my videos & dvds, but it would be worth it just to see them all out of their boxes again.
The kitchen is on hold, since the table & chairs set I chose is back-ordered and will be delivered who knows when. The actual kitchen part is pretty much done, but I've been lazy about buying groceries. I have some of the basics, but if I really stock up on everything, I will have to start cooking again and I'd prefer to feel like I'm still on vacation.
Sorry this was so boring. Nothing to write about these days.. I should just stick to posting pictures maybe.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
This afternoon, just before noon, my furniture from the Brick arrived. Two guys, who were tiny, imho, schlepped the ridiculously heavy boxes from the truck, in and out of the elevator, and then across the hallway to my end of it. They then unpacked each piece of furniture, assembled the bed frame, and put everything into place for me. They carried the garbage out with them as they left, and they thanked me for choosing the Brick.
Sears, on the other hand, arrived 2 hours later. (Granted, this was within their pre-determined time frame of noon to six). Again, 2 moving guys were waiting for me downstairs when I went to open the front door, but this time, they were remarkably unfriendly, refusing to participate in small talk or any form of communication beyond grunts and hand gestures. I led the way to my apartment, each of them dragging a mattress behind me, and once inside, I gestured to the bedroom where the freshly assembled bed was waiting. At this point, one of the 2 Sears delivery guys turned to me with the following mover's urban legend.
We no longer unpack mattresses as part of our service. We'll bring them as far as your room, but we will not rip the plastic off for you. Why? Well, because there was a mover out East that was delivering a mattress set to a customer. At the time, the customer was helping out, and must have cut himself on one of the staples. The mover, also managed to cut himself, on the same staple. Low & behold, the mover developed AIDS from said blood transfer, and as a result, Sears' movers are no longer expected to unpack the furniture they deliver.Well. There you have it. Evidently, this mysterious mover out East was able to accurately trace back his contraction of HIV to this one isolated dangerous staple event. Do I believe this? Hell no. Do I assume this was just a lazy and socially-inept mover's attempt at getting out of doing his job? Hell yes. Do I care? Not really. Instead, I did the work myself, and I now have a fully furnished bedroom complete with a staple-free mattress set.
Monday, May 07, 2007
This afternoon, as I made my drug-induced way through HomeSense, I came across an aisle carrying row after row of picture frames. I was hit with inspiration, or at least, it felt like inspiration at the time.
I have decided that in place of cheap Ikea art & the soul-sucking mass-produced posters from Imaginus this time around, I'd like to frame pictures of each of you, and photos that you have taken. It will be nice to feel surrounded by art that represents something & hopefully inspires my writing. So please, please, go through your albums and send me copies of the photos that you are most proud of. I want pictures you've taken, and pictures of yourselves that will not make you wince.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I hereby cordially invite you to get your web-addicted ass over to facebook.com and sign up already. Let's see if I can relieve your irrational (or quite possible rational) fears, and introduce you to the world of high school pain, drunken wall posts, and social networking that has taken the internet by storm.
Ok, that being said, let's explore the reality that -is- Facebook (FB).
Approximately 9 months ago, when I had gotten back from Japan and moved back home, I was hit with the realization that sometime during my year abroad, Squidge (my brother) had become more of an net-o-philiac than I am. He introduced me to the now infamous FB, describing it as MySpace, with a twist. He was eager for me to join. Why? Simply enough, he & his friends were competing to see who could have the most 'friends'. To help boost his numbers, I signed up, and spent a few hours filling out my profile info. To this day, I never found out who won between Steve & his friends, but in the mean time, FB has become a daily part of my internet life.
What can you actually do & not do with FB?
- control who has access to your profile, your newsfeed (which tracks changes you make to your profile, messages you leave on friends' walls, and pictures you upload or which you are tagged in), and you can control what information is available to applications built using the Facebook Platform.
- block someone's access to finding you in searches. BUT, you can only block a FB user. There are no preemptive blocking capabilities yet.
- join various groups showing your support (or distaste) for different causes, world issues, or just random silliness
- post notes which are basically blog entries which your friends can read and comment on
- send private messages to both friends and users that you are not officially friends with
- accept or reject individual friend requests, although, as far as I know, FB will not actually report that a request has been rejected.
- find any information about a user that they have not actually put onto FB themselves
- (sorry, there's not really much more that you can't do.. or at least nothing else that I can think of. FB is unbelievably interactive, and users seem to range in the amount of information they share, time they spend online, and methods of interaction)
And some FB Propaganda - straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.
The following is taken from the FB Press Page.
Facebook is a social utility that enables people to understand the world around them. Facebook develops technologies that facilitate the spread of relevant information through social networks, allowing people to share information online the same way they do in the real world. Facebook is made up of many networks - individual schools, companies or regions - each of which are independent and closed off to non-affiliated users. To join Facebook, people can authenticate into a school or work network, or they can join a regional network. They can then create profiles to connect with friends, share interests, join groups, send messages, write notes and post photos.FB in the Media
Facebook gives people control over what information they share and with whom they share it. Using Facebook's privacy settings, people can limit the information visible to someone or block that person from seeing them completely. The ability to control their information means people can stay current with their friends and the people around them in a trusted environment.
Facebook launched in February of 2004 and the website now has over 21 million active users across over 47,000 regional, work-related, collegiate and high school networks. According to comScore, Facebook is the sixth-most trafficked site in the United States and the number one photo-sharing site.
I think, despite my own enamoured opinions, and some internal propaganda, it would only be fair to share some of the less popular opinions of FB that are roaming their way along the internet. Here are a couple of articles I found online that I think are worth a read, especially with your particular net-stalker experience.
Life Experience: Opening a Facebook account for the first time [Canadian Press]
The Wrong Profile [Montreal Mirror]
"The utterly faceless aspect of Facebook bothered me the most. When a close friend told me about a significant event in her life in a short Facebook message, I realized she probably would have called to let me know if I didn't have an account. I saw myself taking similar shortcuts because I didn't have time, because it was easy, because at least this little contact was better than nothing.
But I realized that if I lost touch with some people from high school, maybe it happened for a reason. And I knew I would keep in touch with my closest friends regardless of Facebook.
So I deleted the account. At first I thought I'd committed social suicide, but days went by and I didn't miss it. Facebook won't miss me, either."
Some FB Statistics
"I had just about become bored with the site when, two weekends ago, I discovered I had a Facebook impostor. I was shocked. And intrigued. And hooked. An old friend had invited me on his network, and as I looked over his list of Facebook contacts, there was another Samer Elatrash. This one had uploaded a picture of me he found on the Web to his profile.
I called up my friend, whom I hadn’t seen for more than a year. “Why is there another Samer on your friend list?” I briskly asked.
“I thought you had two profiles,” he responded.
“I have one,” I said. “Couldn’t you tell which one was real?” He couldn’t."
Statistics, according to FB.
& according to the National, these are some statistics in Canada.
- 2 million users
- grows by 100,000 new users a week
- 500,000 users alone in Toronto makes this the world's largest network
Should you join? Only you can decide. I know that I for one, would love your occasional wall posts and I can just imagine the poking wars... but for quality communication, I'm not sure FB is the answer.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
I keep telling myself that this move doesn't have to be permanent. Calgary can be a stepping stone between my past and my future, even if I don't know what future is in store for me just yet.
I think there might be something inherently 'off' about me. Lately, I find myself eager to spend my time doodling, but out of an ironic peculiarity, the only thing that seems to pour onto the page are words. I don't really understand -- how can doodling be so difficult? Isn't doodling, by its very nature, an absent-minded form of expression (much like humming)? Isn't it supposed to be one of those things that anybody can do?
And I should clarify: I don't mean that my doodles are boring or trite, but rather, when I am sitting through a boring conference lecture, or daydreaming by a sunny window, or lost in front of the TV, even though I'll sit with a pad of paper and a pen within my grasp, it is only by a conscious effort that any shapes make their way onto the page.
I wonder if this is some strange side effect of not being absent-minded? I suppose I have a bizarre habit of focusing particularly closely to what people are saying, but shouldn't doodling still be a natural form of expression of my subconscious?
I am incapable of doodling**.
At the conference this morning, one of the lecturers sat down between myself and Dreads. He said something that was sweet in an uncomfortable and inappropriate sort of way. I think he's just having one of those days where the buffer between inner-monologue and outward speech went out for a coffee break, but it was still nice to hear. God knows he's got a harem of school-girls that make their way through the halls every year in hopes of his praise, but I look to him for guidance, friendship, and mostly just a snappy comeback to my random cracks as we pass each other in the Department. I admire his recent candor and openness to the thoughts and opinions of those around him, and hope one day to adopt the general ease with which he carries himself through life. Email King, I'm not sure if you've dared to visit my blog, but I still want to say Thank You. So, Thank You.
"The mirror can only reflect the real mask, not the real self."
-- Keiko MacDonald
I wonder what life would be life as a grad student. Over the last 2 days, the University of Alberta hosted a Grad Conference in East Asian Studies. 15 lectures ranging from linguistics to translation to literature and cultural studies, all related to this year's theme "conflict, crisis and negotiation." As with any series of lectures, some were more engaging than others, but all were impressive - at least those that I was able to attend. But, despite all of the intellectual discourse I was exposed to over my final days in Edmonton, what I've taken away from the experience speaks more to my true nature than anything else.
Imagine being interested in something; in a topic that inspires you enough to want to learn as much as you can about it. Imagine researching and analyzing said topic long enough that your friends & academic peers begin to recognize you as a sort of expert in the field. Imagine an institution believing in you, in your inspiration and in your intellectual potential, to the extent that they encourage you to complete your MA studies with them and pay you handsomely to do so.
Now, imagine all of the potential and all of the opportunities that could come along with it: public lectures, publications, and an elitist social circle with which to debate, discuss and develop together, invitations and Trans-Canadian flights to share your thesis and intellect with like-minded individuals.
Not really a future to look down on, is it?
Then again, as my oh-so-encouraging uncle pointed out, these days, in Calgary, Tim Horton's is always hiring.
How am I supposed to believe in myself when my own family doesn't believe in me?
* I stole this title from a Smashing Pumpkins song. I can't remember the song for the life of me, but the title always struck a chord.
** For Lora's eyes only! (with the exception of course of a certain speculatory name over and over. I feel like I'm 12 years old)
Saturday, April 28, 2007
yay happiness. yay silly email. yay.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
My second inbox, gmail, which I manage to check more often, was plastered top to bottom with Facebook messages. These don't really bother me, but I wish there was a way to delete them all at once. Instead, I have to click the little check box next to every individual message, wall post, poke and tag mention before I can toss them away. Luckily, despite my slight hangover, and my sleep deprivation, I noticed an email hiding in the midst of the Facebook entries. Murasaki had initiated a prank. Not just any prank, mind you, but a continuation of endless pranks between herself, the Email King, and a number of other students who thankfully graduated last year. It would seem that while I was busy trying to survive my way through Japan, Murasaki & company were busy plastering a certain professor's door with dilapidated attempts at Godzilla origami.
With all of the conference prep happening these days, my interactions with said professor have increased tenfold. I suppose Murasaki, as isolated as she is in Japan, has been feeling nostalgic and perhaps a little left out. Not to be deterred, she put together a little surprise for our prof, and sent it off with the following instructions:
I'm feeling a little restless in Japan...
It's been a little while since I've gone a-pranking.
Assist me in this matter and I will reward you beyond your wildest dreams.
1. Open the attachment
2. Print off the document you find inside
3. Deliver it, as is, to The King
4. Use whatever means necessary, although waiting until AFTER he's done the bulk of his duties for the conference would probably be best. Don't tape it to his door; slide it underneath. (Be discreet!)
5. Do not tell him who it's from, even he threatens you with a stapler. He'll know without being told.
6. Coordinate your effort, as there only needs to be a single print-off. Whether you execute delivery alone or together is up to you. Bonus points for creativity.
*Lunch is a whole other story for a whole other day.. But to everyone who came, who feasted, and who shared their hugs, you are Princes.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
I'm feeling inspired to write short anecdotes. I always feel like this after reading Vinyl Cafe. The little stories make me laugh and cry and I wonder if I will ever be eloquent enough to have that affect with my writing. Not that it matters really.. what I write, I write for me. What I blog, is for you, but since you seem uninterested these days.. maybe its time to get back into the habit of writing for me.
random thought? I want to see Lora in her blue sequined dress.
How strange to be able to say that, but still have no clue what it really means. My University life is over. The lifestyle I have grown so accustomed to, will change. The friends I've made, the relationships I've formed.. those will last.. won't they?
It's never easy saying goodbye. Some of them say it's not truly 'goodbye', and I try to convince myself that they are right. Some of them will be a part of my life forever. But will I be a part of theirs? No way to tell. No way to know.
Richard says I have attachment issues. That these are normal for "kids of divorced families". I don't mind when he psychologizes me, I just mind when he's right. But there are still things I'm too shy to tell even to him. I wonder if he knows anyways? Sometimes I think he can see into my soul, and that miraculously he isn't scared away. Has anyone ever known me like he does? I wonder. So many shared secrets. So many quiet laughs.
I've made a new friend. (well, a friend by my definition at least). Just one more person that I will leave behind, but this means that he will not have the chance to abandon me? Too many times I've been hurt. Too many times I've felt left behind, but maybe I'm drawn to him because this time I won't be hurt? But I enjoy our laughs, and our talks. I wonder if I would have allowed the friendship if I hadn't known I was leaving?
I can't articulate tonight. So many thoughts swirling around. They are each fighting to come out, but none are willing to wait their turn. How strange. Such a rarity, but I wish I had someone to talk to right now. I never want that, and yet, here it is. Someone to talk to. Actually, my friend. I've wanted to talk to him all day, but I've restrained myself. Instead, I spent some time with Michael Moore and Charlton Heston. They may not listen to what I have to say, but they recharge my passion for politics.
Too bad I'm not in the past, working on Whyte. I miss the days of political debate with Amy and Ivan. Sharing POVs with Kris, and feeling ideological. Instead, today, I feel insignificant. Not in a futile way, but somehow, it is comforting. I've lived up to my parents' expectations, and earned them a University degree. The rest; the future.. well now I live for me. Now I get to find my path. Now I get to live the life I never knew I was meant for. Now, I live for me.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
During the day, his cell phone died, for no apparent reason. (I'm fairly certain this -wasn't- the phone that he accidentally dropped in the toilet?) A quick visit to Telus ended his relationship with them in no uncertain terms. When they mentioned the little detail that his contract was over long before he thought it would be, he happily sauntered across the mall to Roger's, where he began getting cozy with his blackberry.
Imagine my surprise when his story didn't end there. While he was sitting at Roger's filling out his new contract, Dad walked into the store. Unbeknownst to Stephen, Dad had decided to stop at Telus on his way home from work. His cell phone has also been encountering problems lately, and he wanted Telus to send it in to be repaired. Telus was happy to do so, but they had no loaner phone to offer him during the interim. Since Dad needs his phone for work purposes, he was unimpressed with the situation. He too, walked across the mall to Roger's hoping for a new phone, new contract, and an improved level of customer service. Running into Stephen was just gravy, since they both ended up getting the same phones, same plans, and were able to keep their same phone numbers.
So, in one day, three Plucers ended up with three unplanned new cell phones.
Friday, April 20, 2007
Instead, I called FIDO right away and put a lock on my phone #. They apparantly have no way of telling me if anyone has been using the phone, but I am responsible for any extra charges that might show up on the next bill. (The Fuckers.)
I ran to the mall and picked up a new phone. Since it's the only way to keep in touch with me - other than Facebook, apparantly - I didn't think it was worth waiting until I get home next weekend.
So, my phone number is the same, but I have no access to my old phone book. If you want to get in/keep in/stay in touch, please call me, email me or send me your numbers via carrier pigeon.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
My first visit to Lora's began normal enough I suppose. I was given the grand tour, where I bore witness to so many objects and relics from Lora's past. The blue sequined desk hanging in the closet.. the dusty trophies from so many years of dance competitions.. the innumerable paintings and artistic creations that poked out of nearly every nook and cranny. It was as though I'd been given a key to the past where so much of her childhood and growing pains were on display for the curious passer-by. Of course, I wasn't so much a passer-by as a nosy-friend-who-wanted-to-snoop- even-though-she-should-have-been-studying.
Our afternoon was spent sitting at the kitchen table, with sun shining down on us through the living room bay windows. Studying came in waves, and then fluttered away into nothingness, leaving Lora to wander back and forth from her room, and me to struggle with my final paper, wishing it would somehow write itself.
At times, our chit-chat got the best of us, detouring us from the task at hand, but somehow we managed to progress through mountains of work. At one point, Lora burst out into a fit of laughter. I thought she'd finally gone crazy on me, but this was only her reaction to rhyming poetry printed across the pages of her history book.
Somehow, the matching syllables enraged her to the point of giddy laughter, and composing her own verse in story-time voices. I'm not sure I share her loathing for rhyming poetry (god knows I just loathe poetry whether it rhymes or not), but her reaction to it was a welcome break from the monotony of my linguistics.
As the temperature outside dropped, and the sun began to fade behind the clouds, Lora's parents came home, and dinner was soon on the table. I told stories of my roommates and future home between tasty mouthfuls of home cooked food. I supported Lora's plans to teach English in Japan, much to her mother's dismay, but that was quickly forgiven.
When our meal came to a close, and our bellies satiated, homework again seemed to represent an unyielding force. I decided to return home, where I could finish my paper amidst my billowy quilt and fuzzy plush dolls. Our farewell, as it were, was not to end my Sherwood Park Adventure. Instead, as Lora and I said goodbye, her mother delivered a packed lunch into my hands. Thus, when the stars are out and my stomach gurgles for food in the wee hours of the night, I will explore the brown paper bag that now sits quietly in my fridge. Until then, Sherwood Park, I say adieu.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Rumour has it, confirmed rumour that is, that the East Asian Department will be moving this fall. No longer will it be in our beloved Old Arts Building. No longer will it be within arm's reach of not one, but two Java Jives. No longer will the sound of organ practices resonate through the halls and offices we've grown so attached to over the course of our undergraduate degrees. Instead, the Department will be moving across campus, to reside in its shiny new academic home.It's interesting that there are articles written in protest for the graduate students that have lived in and loved Pembina. These articles mention the communities that developed within its hallways and under its ancient bricks, and the social networking that existed because of the building's location and proximity to classrooms, eateries, and professors. This is interesting to me, because as disappointed as the graduate students of Pembina's past and present seems to similar to the nostalgia I felt walking through the East Asian Department earlier this afternoon.
Pembina Hall, built in 1914, has stood amidst the University of Alberta's growing campus as one of its proudest building. Known best as its home to graduate students, the University received the Heritage Canada Award (1977) for painstaking renovations which preserved the building's original character - marble flooring, oak paneling, open-beam ceiling, and leaded glass windows. Now, nearly a century after its construction, Pembina Hall is under construction similar to that undergone by its neighbours, Athabasca Hall and Assiniboia Hall, more than two decades ago.
For over 4 years of studying at the University of Edmonton, my home has been in the East Asia Department on the 4th floor of the Old Arts Building. It's within those hallways and behind those office doors where I've made and built lasting friendships, where I've shared in laughter and tears, and where I've formed some of my happiest college memories. Where else could Lora & I have caused such a scandal by asking permission to use a vacant desk so many semesters ago? What other kitchen could have been my secret access portal to coffee, tea and sake? And which other hallway could have seen so many students tip-toeing their way to the Email King's office door to participate in random shenanigans (much to the chagrin of the dragon lady behind the reception desk)?
I'm so fortunate to have had the Department for my university career, and so equally fortunate that I will be graduated before the official move takes place. I'm sure Pembina will have its benefits for the Department and the future students of Japanese and East Asian Studies, but for me, the 4th floor of Arts will always be home.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Finally, at 5:15, after nearly jumping out of my seat to run for the hills, K-sama finally released us from her class. Granted, it was with a sincere "enjoy your summers" but still; we just wanted to get out of there! Dragging Chee by the pully-thing on his knapsack, I led him down the stairs and eventually over to the dreaded PowerPlant with Lora & another girl in tow.
After pulling a few tables together, and joining the crowd that had surrounded a certain elusive professor, who actually referred to himself tonight as the "Email King", Lora, Chee & I found ourselves staring wistfully around the wait-staff-less restaurant. After nearly 20 minutes, and at the suggested behest of the Email King, the three of us trudged off in search of beer. After placing our orders, and sweet talking a waitress into visiting our table a few more times throughout the night, we sat back to celebrate the end of the school year.
Conversations jumped (as they do) from topic to topic, but generally strayed somewhere between talking about The Department, and just general tom-foolery. At one point, I was flipping through the pages of SEE Magazine checking up on movie listings for this weekend, and Chee pointed at a photo on one of the personal ads and exclaimed "that looks like my Mom!". What could I do besides guffaw and then begin the laughter than wouldn't quit all night? The ad he'd pointed to wasn't so much a personal ad as an ad for a late night telephone service, and I'm fairly confidant that the bikini-clad blond bimbo offering to "chat" with us, looks nothing like his Mom. To be sure, I whipped out my camera (thank goodness I never leave home without it) and snapped a picture of Chee and the magazine. I'm pretty sure there's no family resemblance. ;o)
The PowerPlant kicked us out around 7 - I guess they were charging cover for the live band tonight - but not before I'd had the chance to have a decent conversation with the Email King. I got some career advice, some opinions about my future, and finally made arrangements to meet in his office next week, to talk about reference letters. He seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say about The Department and was candid with his answers on the topic. We talked about facebook and ratemyprofessor.com, and the semi-obsessive way that some professors seem to worry about their image among students. And, to my surprise, he seemed curious about what each of us (Lora, Chee & myself) blog about, but only in a mildly interest, and not in the I'm-going-to-rush-home-and-google-you, sort of way.
As the PowerPlant was kicking us out, Neill & Ross, were just arriving, and we quickly decided to head off to another watering hole. The Email King had headed home, but the rest of us made our way towards Earls. The crowd waiting for tables was discouraging, so instead we ended up at Avenue Pizza. Over a couple of pitchers, and the next few hours, I divided my time between encouraging Neill's never-ending sexual euphemisms, and trying to protect Chee's innocence that was slowly being whittled away (amidst various head, foam, jaw and other side-splitting jokes).
When our gathering slowly broke up, I sauntered my way home, stumbling only slightly, but content with the night of celebrating that completed my university career. I still have one paper to write, and a couple of final exams, but classes are done, stress levels are on their way back to normal, and I've managed to nestle my way into a comfortable group of friends that I will have to say goodbye to shortly.
The world, as they say, is as it should be.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
I wonder if he'll be there all night? I can hear the snoring from my room. SMIRK
Friday, April 06, 2007
Today was a good day. For the first time in what feels like forever, I got to be alone.
Not alone in my room with the noisy roommate messing around in the kitchen, and not alone walking down the street with my headphones in, but actually alone.
For three solid hours, there was no roommates, no chaos, no distractions, not even a sound to be heard, and I finally let myself unwind enough to feel comfortable in my own skin.
These last 4 months have been so hard. So fiercely unrelenting that sometimes I have felt as though it has eaten away at any of the happiness I could have found this semester. Friends haven’t been what I remembered them to be, Edmonton hasn’t been the home I thought it was. I don't know if they changed or if it was me, but either way I feel so disconnected from those I need the most.
I miss inspiration.
I miss happiness.
Strangely, I’m feeling really melancholic tonight.
I know that my life is moving forwards, a little faster than I was ready for, and I’m afraid of what's been left behind.
Is it possible that going to Japan was the biggest mistake of my life? How strange that something I dreamt of doing for such a long time ended up messing up so many of the good things.
People always ask me why I don’t want to go back. But how can I answer? How could I make them understand that I cry everytime I think about leaving... everytime I contemplate going back...
I’ve already lost so many of the people I cared about the first time – I’m not strong enough to lose them again.
I feel how distant we are.
I feel that emptiness when we’re together, moreso than when we’re apart.
So many people and faces from the past. Our lives have moved in such opposite directions, that we don’t belong together anymore, and that’s so impossible for my heart to comprehend.
Maybe this silence; this blessed moment of isolation, can help?
Is 3 hours enough to relieve the pain inside my chest?
. . . . .
And as though an invisible stopwatch has been counting down in the distance, I hear a key turning in the front door. My privacy; my seclusion, my shelter will be violated again, and I have no choice but to hide once more.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Today is History. I have to present for 20 minutes or so on the paper I'm supposed to write next week. What is the logic of presenting a paper you haven't written yet? This assignment is ridiculous. This whole class has been a waste of my time and energy. I wish I had more control over the classes I got to take this term, because I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have chosen any of the 'required' core classes that I got stuck with.
Linguistics. Ugh. The only thing I learned in the entire term was how much I dislike linguistics. We are expected to do our own research, analyze it and put together a presentation (again before writing our paper) and then write a final paper. Did we do anything over the course of the semester to teach us how to accomplish this? Of course not. All we did was read a different journal article for each class and then pick it apart.
Our teacher's favorite line: what are the pedagogical implications of this research find?
The answer? There isn't any. We have no control over curriculum development, and as students, we have no control over individual teaching styles. So what is the purpose of the entire class? I think Neill's got the right idea - renaming the class Impractical Japanese Linguistics.
My politics class hasn't been so rough. But, my prof wants to teach it about as much as I want to be up for a 10 am class every Monday. The semester has been divided up into weekly presentations of different topics and issues, and aside from the week I had to present, I've been able to coast through without doing any of the readings or even paying attention in class. In fact, I'm writing this while sitting in my last Poli Sci lecture. Today we met in the Telus Ctr on campus instead of our usual classroom. It's a pretty sweet conference room - cushy chairs, plug-ins for our computers, and a nice big boardroom conference table that we're all sitting around. Too bad we couldn't have had our classes in here all year.
My head really hurts.
Today's presentation is gonna suck.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
It wasn't on the radio.. but perhaps it was in response to AJ's incessant playing of Kansas "Dust in the Wind" on his PC even though HE'S NOT EVEN HOME. grrr.
Have I mentioned how much I hate living with people?
At least when I ask people if it's April yet, they can finally say YES!
Saturday, March 31, 2007
I was sitting in front of my laptop, working on my paper when I heard a familliar vibrating somewhere under the blanket. I pushed all my books onto the floor and flipped the comforter over to grab my phone, in time to see that I had a new text message from an unknown number.
Confused, I opened it to read
"i heart you cori"
Before I could even begin to guess who was behind this I got a 2nd message.
"you've touched me in ways I've never been touched before."
I think I spent the next few minutes just sort of staring at the phone waiting for the punchline. When it didn't come, I wrote back a pretty straight forward
"who is this?"
and then the piece de resistance:
Who is this sincerely dave you might ask? Well, he's Lora's best friend, who happens to be very gay, and very committed to his boyfriend, OR SO I THOUGHT! Lora, you tell that boy that even if he's secretly pinning away for me, I refuse to be held responsible. Even if his heart is slowly breaking and his blood is growing thin waiting for the next time our eyes meet, he's out of luck. We're done. Kaput. Finito.
That boy's got something evil coming to him, I tell ya.
If this is what comes of him & Lora getting together, then I will deny him joint custody and take Lora back by force! Birthday or no birthday. Harumph.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Monday, March 26, 2007
Since Carter has asked me to tell her about dear old Bobu-chan, I thought I'd better repost the video to illustrate the story I'm about to tell. Early last July, when I was enjoying the onset of summer in Japan, I got to partake in a Japanese Home Stay. This was extra exciting to me because the first one had been somewhat disappointing, and I was happy to get the break from end-of-the-school-year stress [much like right now, when I should be writing papers!].
At the time, I started writing a blog entry, but got so busy that I never finished it. Now, for Carter's viewing pleasure, I will post the blog entry that never was:
Saturday morning began a little bit earlier than I had been expecting. After karaoke the night before, I looked forward to my 6 hours of sleep, but Jose was having none of that. At 9:15, my phone rang to announce a text message. 15 minutes later, Jose phoned me with the exciting news that he was at the station, and since he was up, I should be up! The brat! But, as you all know, I am not someone to let a little thing like a wake-up call keep me from another precious hour of sleep, so I rolled back over and buried my head under the pillow until my alarm went off at 10:30.
When I stepped off the train at Honda Eki, my host mother 見上夢子さん (Mikami Yumeko-san) was waiting for me with a little surprise. All of the forms I had received in preparation for the weekend did not include any warning about Bobu-chan, but luckily, I'm a dog person and was happy to meet the little guy. We introduced ourselves, and then Yumeko-san chatted happily about the weather as we made our way out to the car. I was a little surprised when she opened the front seat and helped Bobu-chan up. Then as we turned towards the rear, I was introduced to my host grandmother, who we just referred to as お祖母ちゃん (Obaachan). She has problems with her legs and as a result, waited in the car, but of everyone over the entire weekend, she was the most interested in me and the warmest member of the family. From the moment I sat down next to her in the car, until our farewells the next day, she barely left my side, asking questions and telling me things about her life, her family, and her opinions about me.
The 4 of us then drove to a pastry shop where my host-mother picked up some goodies for dessert, and then we drove home. I'm still amazed at the sight of a Japanese traditional-style home. The Mikami home was no exception, although I think the house was bigger than most traditional homes used to be. While Yumeko-san (host-mother) parked the car and led Bobu-chan through the back door, Obaachan and I were let out at the front gate, and she took my arm (I mentioned her leg problems, right?) and led me through the front garden up to the house. I couldn't resist taking a few pictures, although they hardly illustrate the wonder that a Japanese Garden holds for me. I suppose growing up in Canada with a backyard usually full of snow, slush, or dead patches of grass (because they have been deprived of sun for 10 months at a time) keeps the mystery alive.
Lunch was served at their kitchen table, (sadly, it was as Western as can be, with 4 chairs, clutter and a Lazy-Susan for all their spices/condiments in the corner. Afterwards, I got a tour of the house, which included 3 split-levels, each with balcony's offering different views of the neighborhood. The main level was my favorite, since it was where they had all of the Japanese-style rooms. First, my bedroom. This was a tatami room, which had it's own air conditioner and a door to the outside. There was also a raised platform (about 2 inches above the tatami) with a vase full of flowers. (it is similar to the one in my picture below). The room was so peaceful, that I almost didn't want to leave it, but there was so much more to see.
The kitchen was very Western-style. They had a dishwasher, which I hadn't seen before in Japan, and they had more cupboard space than my parents' homes back in Canada. Off the front of the kitchen, they had a living room with a couple of sofa's and a TV, which was turned on the second we got into the house, and stayed on for the extent of my visit. This was virtually Bobu-chan's room - on the sofa, he had a special bed which he slept in. The arms of both sofas had indents from Bob's head where he would rest it between naps. And this was where the infamous video took place.
I made the mistake of sitting down next to Bobu while my host-mother was preparing lunch. It was one of the rare times when Obaachan wasn't by my side, and I thought I'd bond a little bit with the family dog since it was the first I'd seen since mine passed away. But, as I reached for Bob's head to scratch behind his ears, he started panting and well.. let's just call it 'scratching' himself.
What could I do? I stared. And then I looked away. And then out of curiosity, I looked to see if he was still going at it. He was, and I backed up while I pulled out my camera. I took a video on my keitai, and realizing that wouldn't be clear enough for the blog, I snapped another with my digi-cam. It would seem that there was no satisfying end to Bobu's self-(ummm....)gratification, but I didn't wait around to find out.
The rest of my tour brought me to the back of the house, where Yumeko-san had her own private craft room. This was another tatami room, similar to the bedroom I would be staying in, but had a low table set up in the center. Here, my host-mother and Obaachan explained to me that they had originally planned to have their come to teach me sensei come to teach me ikebana, but she had called the night before to tell them they were sick. Instead, they had tried to draw out a diagram for me to follow while they explained the art of Japanese Flower Arranging.
In the end, they both seemed impressed with my arrangement, but I'm sure that was just the Japanese way of being excessively polite. I did my best to listen to what they said, but most of the complicated Japanese terms for aesthetic beauty were lost on me. I still enjoyed the experience, as much as one can enjoy flower arranging anyways, and I was happy that they had shared this part of Japanese culture with me.
That night, when the rest of my host-family came home, we were treated to a delicious meal of Soba with tempura'd vegetables and seafood. I had so much fun talking with my host-brother and his fiance, both of whom were constantly asking me about Canada and wanting me to teach English. They all seemed to enjoy explaining new words to me, and wouldn't let me use my dictionary except when I was trying to explain something to them.
That night, after dinner and lots of chatting, I had a fabulously long bath in the private ofuro, and then nestled in to sleep in my futon which had been set up for me. I'm not sure how long I slept, but I woke the next day, the whole family was up and eager to get out of the house.
Our destination was an exclusive golf & country club which had a breakfast/lunch buffet that is on par with the Banff Springs Hotel Sunday Brunch. There were so many choices, even at the automatic beverage bar, that I was in awe. I had been hoping for a simple home-made breakfast, but this was more than I could have dreamed. I ate so much, I think they must have thought I'd been starving before hand, but the food looked too good to resist.
After lunch, we went for a walk around the grounds. There were more beautiful Japanese gardens, and artificial waterfalls surrounding the clubhouse. We found a small building that let us sneak past a wedding party to see the ancient art on the 2nd floor, and although my host-mother tried to explain who's art it was, I couldn't remember the name by the time I got home to write it down.
From the clubhouse, we were driving back towards town when my host-father pulled over on the side of the road. I was confused, and wasn't sure what was going on, but obediently followed the family as they ran across the street. I quickly realized what had happened when my host-mother handed me an empty basket and a giant sun-hat, and pointed at the blueberry field across the way.
I'd never gotten to pick fruit before, and I ended up having the most fun I'd had in ages. We were shown how to pick the 'best' blueberries, and then given free reign of the field for 20 minutes. Each of us dove in, hoping to fill up our baskets with the juiciest berries, but it was nearly impossible to resist taste-testing. I remember the drive home from the blueberry field fondly; every single one of us had blue teeth.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Since the paper length is limited at 8 pages, and I'm currently sitting at 14.. I need some help! I'm actually not even finished, but I figure another hour or two tomorrow and it will be ready for a few helpful folk to hack it to pieces.
My usual choice would be Marnie, the English-major Lawyer cousin that lives nearby in Edmonton, but she might be a bit distracted these days, what with her 1 year old and newborn baby. On my way home from school today, I decided to stop by the hospital to visit and check up on them. (I had been waiting all day for a phone call from my Aunt who was supposed to have called at 11:30 to let me know if Marnie was okay with my stopping by. Since she didn't call, I decided to just stop by anyways.. if Marnie didn't want visitors, I'd find out for myself pretty darn quickly.) Since I've spent 3.5 years of my university life down the street from the University Hospital, I naturally assumed that that was there they would be. I found my way to the information desk, and waited patiently for the one receptionist to finish taking calls. She seeemed almost annoyed that I was waiting, and finally turned to stare at me.
Umm, hi. Could you please tell me what floor the maternity ward is on?
We don't have a maternity ward.
Oh, I'm sorry. I must have the wrong hospital.
So.. you can imagine how dumb I felt. Then again, what hospital in this day and age doesn't have a maternity ward?
Thursday, March 22, 2007
|What Your Soul Really Looks Like|
You are very passionate and quite temperamental. While you can be moody, you always crave comfort.
You are not a very grounded person. You prefer dreams to reality. For you, it's all about possibilities.
You see yourself with pretty objective eyes. How you view yourself is almost exactly how other people view you.
Your near future is likely to be filled with great successes and accomplishments. You just need to figure out how to get there.
For you, love is all about caring and comfort. You couldn't fall in love with someone you didn't trust.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Thank you for your email. Currently there is only one position available related to this consulate. Actually, it is the position of butler at the Consul-General’s residence. I think you are over-qualified, but if you are interested in this position, please email your resume to this email address. Thank you very much.
Public Relations and Cultural Affairs
Monday, March 19, 2007
In Japan, the difficulties were so different. Class work was more like high school. Homework was daily, but not very difficult. If there were any exams, they weren't nearly as stressful or anxiety-inducing as the tests here, mainly because they were never worth a very high percentage, and were always somehow less important than things like regular attendance and generally just being awake during class.
In Canada, of course, university is much more challenging. Of course, I don't mean to suggest that all Japanese universities are easy; I am only reflecting on my own personal experience. Today, for example, I was up at the crack of dawn to try and finish my readings for Politics. I didn't get them done on the weekend because I spent most of that time divided between writing and preparing 3 essays. When I got to school, I sat through my 3 hour seminar class scrambling to write notes as fast as the presenters (our teacher is in China today, so 2 grad students presented) were speaking. It was helpful - mainly because their topic was related to the essay I have to write over the next 2 weeks, and helped me narrow my research focus, but still. I finished class and felt so worn out that I needed a break. I grabbed lunch and headed up to Lora's desk for a quick visit, which we had while we both tried to get research done on our respective computers.
When she left for her literature class, I took advantage of the quiet office space and finished writing my paper outline/proposal for History ("The Evolution of the Death Penalty in Imperial China" which is due on Wednesday) and then headed home, where I started filling in the annotations in the bibliography.
At one point, I talked to AJ (roommate/landlord) for a minute when I heard him in the kitchen, and I got some advice on where to start looking for online papers about renewable energy sources, and then I spent 45 minutes or so downloading references for my politics paper. "Chinese Energy Diversification: the ethanol potential" .
In the meantime, I've been trying to organize my linguistics research plan, because supposedly, Ruth and I will be gathering our guinea pigs together this week to put them to work. That is, of course, assuming we get any volunteers. So far, there hasn't been a single email. It's now 9:30, I haven't heard from Ruth, and I am therefore assuming that I will have to show up at the Japanese class tomorrow morning before my first lecture to try and recruit some volunteers. I wouldn't mind doing it if I didn't have so much else to do, but if I don't hear from her in the next hour, I pretty much have no choice. Irregardless, while we can share research students, and collect data together, I still have to write up my presentation and paper for this class solo. Somehow, I have to find the time (and the motivation) to write about "During Internet Chat with Native Speakers, What Orthographic Choices Do Learners Make?". Basically? I'm looking at when they use Kanji and Katakana, and if they will use the 2 differently based on their Japanese level & their first language background (English or Chinese). It could technically be interesting, but interesting enough to write 20 pages? I doubt it.
While it keeps getting bumped to the low end of my priority list, the Judaism paper is still high on my interest scale. The more reading I've done, the more questions I seem to have than answers, but "Jewish Views of the Afterlife" continues to be a challenging and fascinating essay topic.
Meanwhile, roommate #2 is still driving me up the wall. It's not intentional, but there is definitely a conflict between our lifestyles. The house was a pigsty when I came home on Sunday, and it makes me very tense and frustrated. I end up not wanting to leave my room, which starts to get very claustrophobic after a while, not to mention, boring. But when I open my door to a kitchen full of dirty dishes, leftover food on the counter, and all the other lovely goodies spread out across the floor/table/counters, I just can't keep from clenching my teeth and wanting to scream.
Is it April yet?
In other news, this weekend I made my first official purchase for my new condo, and my new life. Perhaps not the most exciting thing to buy in the world, but I was at the Bay, and found a set of pots & pans that were really nice, and on super sale (55% + 10% for signing up for a Bay Card) so I bought them, and finally feel like my new condo is really happening. Now, instead of spending my (very little bit of) free time reading or playing with Kanji, I will be spending it shopping for all the new furniture and accessories that I will need for my new home. :) :) :)
It occurred to me. In the past, people probably weren't moving out on their own. Instead, they would get engaged, then married, and then move into a home with a new husband, and a gift registry where their friends and family would help buy all the new housewares for them. I thought about starting a gift registry for myself, but then thought maybe that would be too presumptuous? I don't expect gifts from anyone, but both of my parents at least seem to want to buy me stuff to help me out.. and since I'm so particular about what I want/like, I thought maybe a registry would be helpful?
What do you think?
In all honesty, I will be moving into my place with virtually nothing. When I sold the condo in Edmonton, nearly everything I had, I gave away or donated to charity. Eventually I'll get the $ for that through tax returns, but I still get to use this opportunity to buy all new stuff for my place. I've been trying to decide how to decorate .. do I want a central theme? a motley assortment of things? should I stick to one department type store? or shop around choosing things I like from a bunch of places?
There are so many options, and so much that I need & want, that I almost don't know where to start. I guess, because I started with pots & pans, the kitchen will be where I work from, so next on my list, I'll be looking for dishes. Maybe if I can find some free time next weekend, I'll drag Richard out to Home Outfitters & Home Sense, and we can see what's available. Then again, Marnie's scheduled to have her baby on Friday, so I might spend the weekend on call... I doubt she'll call me for anything, but I'll probably stick close to home just in case.