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.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Now it looks like this may be more of an issue that I thought at first.
Why didn't I just keep my mouth shut?
Then again, the email they sent today ended with "From there, we can discuss in detail a license agreement and payment."
btw, since some of you have been asking, the photo in question is this one:
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Imagine my surprise then, when I came home today to an email from Berlitz Publishing asking my permission to use one of my flickr photos.
I never think my photography is anything better than amateur, and they are only asking to potentially use it, but I'll keep you posted with updates.
Oh.. and my History presentation today? I think Shreyo said it best: 45 minutes of hesitation, and an hour and half of uncomfortable silence.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Saturday, March 03, 2007
The following was written byAndrew Newborn, at 12:10AM Thursday, 1 March 2007. What he says.. well, I don't agree by any means, but I still think it deserves an eye rolling round of applause. Welcome to the land of the ridiculous.
Pets just aren’t worth the risk
You’ve seen it before: someone comes into contact with a domesticated animal, and they explode into a high-pitched, cutesy-voiced tirade about the little critter. They fawn over it, pet it, rub it and cast little bits of personality onto it (“You’re a good boy, aren’t you? Oh yes you are!”). I’m sure that almost everyone has seen hundreds of different cats and dogs in their lives, yet somehow for some it’s a time-stopping orgasmic bliss every single time. But you can’t do anything but roll your eyes, because saying a word of protest would cast you into the realm of social leper.
For me, this alone justifies banning pets in Canada, but there’s a myriad of other reasons as well. Even the most responsible owners can’t control their pets all of the time. For example, being chased by runaway dogs can be terrifying, as once happened to me. I don’t know what kind they were—I just don’t care enough about the various human-engineered pseudo-species to know—but they were large, vicious and angry. My youth has been filled with rogue cats shitting in my parents’ yard, and I anticipate much the same thing once I have a place of my own.
Of course, it’s not just pet owners that are the issue; animals themselves have inherent problems that make them unbearable to share a society with. Like many, I suffer from pet allergies, and it makes visiting other people’s houses difficult. You never know if you’re going to find their home infested with rampaging cats or slow-moving dogs, all bent on attacking with dander rather than teeth. Dogs and birds can also be an extreme annoyance just with their incessant noise-making.
The reasons for actually owning a pet are entirely lost on me, without even considering the cost and responsibility associated with pet ownership. Anthrozoology.org suggests that there are “many psychological benefits animal companionship can give us, including providing security for the anxious, companionship for the lonely and status symbols for the image conscious.” All of which I interpret as “animals are crutches for the weak minded.”
For a person to suggest that they want an animal for their own well-being is similar to a person declaring that they would like a husband or wife—anyone will do, really—just to feel better about him or herself. After all, a person who gets married hopefully doesn’t do it for the psychological benefits.
I can’t help but wonder what the quality of life is like for the average pet. Is a dog that stares at the front door all day waiting for the return of its owner really having that great of a time? Perhaps well behaved pets are simply living with a collective case of Stockholm Syndrome. Boredom must surely be an issue for a bird trapped in a cage or a dog whose daily highlights are eating, walking and shitting.
I suggest banning pet ownership to solve all of these issues. Start by outlawing pet sales by pet stores and breeders. Step up animal shelter efforts, and play fast and loose with their euthanasia policies. Eventually all of the animals currently in captivity will die off, and we can officially outlaw pets once and for all.
I’m not suggesting that anybody stop eating meat, or that we end cattle farming, or any of those other PETA-esque animal lover ideas. I’m all for raising animals for specific, utilitarian purposes—while preferably giving them a bit of room to run around—but keep them out of towns and cities. Things will surely be a cleaner and saner for it.
For the original, check out the Gateway now online.
And on a more personal note.. there was an ad in the same issue of the student's paper this week. It was the announcement of a literary contest that is open to current students with apparantly enough free time on their hands to write/submit an entry into one of the following categories.
- short fiction (under 1500 words)
- really short fiction (under 150 words)
Maybe if I submit something, I'll post it for all of you to critique. Then again, maybe I'll just spend my time wisely working on powerpoint presentations (since I have 2 due this week, and one the week after). Or else I'll just be loitering on facebook trying to find new groups to join that might somehow suggest a part of my personality to new faces in the netiverse.