Saturday, April 28, 2007

The ultimate trick question

So, how do you like Toronto?

You're vegetarian?

How do you feel about Kyoto?

Do you miss Cold Lake?

What are you going to do when you graduate? Where are you going to move?

Your parents must be excited to have you home, hey?

Only 4 more months of the ultimate canned, prepared answer.

On my drive home this morning, to pack my bags for Edmonton, I saw one of my high school friend's mom on the side of the street. I pulled over and rolled down my window. "How do you like Toronto?" she asked. I broke all my rules and answered truthfully. "I really like living in Toronto," I said. These words are pure sacrilege to Albertans, and full-out blasphemy to Cold Lakers.

"I was worried about you, you know? When I heard you were moving out there."

"Really, why's that?"

"I grew up in Toronto. And coming from here, and growing up here your whole life," she said, gesturing to the trees in the foreground, "well, it's a tough city."

"Well, I'm a tough girl," I told her with a laugh.

She nodded her head in agreement and smiled. "That is true."


Check out

I'm off to Edmonton for job training until Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Adventures at Wal-Mart

Friday night was the last big Toronto hurrah before I went home to Alberta for the summer.

We headed down to the Opera House to see Soulwax/2 Many DJs.

But, as Jessex aptly stated, it ended up being "Too Many DJs" and no Soulwax.

We were not impressed.

It was the last time Alice and I would get to hug and rock at a concert venue. A sad moment, indeed.

I left early, and took myself home, since I had a whole day of packing ahead of me.

I spent 7 hours packing on Saturday, which was only punctuated by an unsatisfying veggie burger and onion rings at Mick E. Fynn's in the late afternoon sun. Sunday was the big move, and I admired Brie's and Mark's strength as they lifted my eight bajillion boxes of books down both flights of our stairs.

And early Monday morning, it was time to go home. Two years ago, when I flew home from Alberta, I was bumped from my flight. To this day, my mother is sure that I'm lying when I said I made it to the airport two hours early to check in for my flight. Because of this, I always take a picture of the time that I leave for the airport in the morning, to prove that if I get bumped from a flight, it's definitely not my fault.

And then. . .

I was home.

A blinky-eyed Alex Dodd picked me up from the airport and drove me home to Cold Lake.

But we stopped at all the tourist hot-spots on the way home; in Glendon to see the giant perogy, and in Vilna to check out the giant mushrooms. This sign in Vilna was my favourite, though. "Where are we? Did we just go back in time?" Alex asked me.

I've been trying to keep myself occupied since I got home.

But Wal-Mart is pretty much the only thing around here to do for excitement. Last night I went there to buy coat-hangers. It was a pretty wild night!

Home. Where am I? Did I just go back in time?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

This is a weather report

All the blood vessels in my nose popped when I landed, and my tissues are all filled with blood whenever I blow my nose. Alberta is dry.

Cold Lake looks exactly the same as it did three years ago.

My Papa, Alex Dodd and I went for a walk down the back road last night. The ditches were littered with carcasses of deer and porcupines that didn't make it through the winter. Every bronchile in my lung is rejoicing at the clean, crisp northern Albertan air.

The pastures on the way up are flooded from the intense winter snowfall, and there's definitely still a small mound of snow in my front yard.

I hand-fed Alex Dodd these delicious spinach balls dipped in a rhubarb dip of some sort during the drive home yesterday. Hand-feeding my boyfriend was either the high point of my day or the low point of my day, but I haven't figured that out yet. Regardless, I kind of took pleasure in it.

I'm listening to Francophone hip-hop because I'm in denial about where I am. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, anyone?

Pictures later.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Love Lives in China

Could a house really possibly encompass, hold, and accumulate this many feelings and memories in such a short time? I'm sitting on my floor, surrounded by dustballs and luggage for tomorrow morning and there is no question about the answer.

It's the difference between a shelter and a home. And in China, for the first time since I moved away from Cold Lake, I feel like I am at home. The antfarm (my apartment in Edmonton) does hold a special place in my heart, but when I remember that period of time, it was a time when I was very much alone. I lived alone, ate alone and slept alone. I woke up alone, taking comfort in my morning coffee and the grumpy iguana that kept me company.

China has been the polar opposite. It's been Karen, Katrina, Ivonne, Sasha, Brie, Mark, Brian, Scott, Courtney, some random Australian (New Zealand?) guy, Nobu (the Japanese girl who lived here for a month), all the kittens (most memorably Jack) and me. It's been constant conflicts, cockroaches, dirty dishes, molding food, a squished broken futon, a full liquor cabinet, and 25 pairs of shoes at the door.

It's been the comfort of the streetcar shaking my wall at night, snuggling in bed with Brie after a nightmare, a stress-relieving massage from Katrina, taking out the recycling with Court after a good night at Mick E. Fynn's, laughing at Ivonne's oddities and Karen's ability to know exactly what is going to happen next on television shows, and Sasha's sleep-inducing teas when you're sick. It's been a hell of lot of spontaneous dance parties and beers at House on Parliament.

We took care of each other here, and you, China--you took care of us.

And I won't forget what I've learned here. I've learned that you can love unconditionally, that you can make compromises, and I've learned to let things go. I've learned when to pick fights, and when to be thankful for everything I have. I won't miss China, but I know that I will miss this moment in time.

Girls, we've done some good work here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Facts for Friday

1. It's spring!

2. Justin and Sacha Trudeau were both born on December 25th.

3. My new favourite summer dress is something that looks like Liv Tyler should have worn in 1994. Thanks Goodwill!

4. Last weekend at the 518 party, some guy kept telling me I looked like Liz Vicious. "You don't know who Liz Vicious is?!" He was astonished. "Uh, no." Before long, he dragged me over to Mark's computer to perform a google search. Liz Vicious is billed on her website as "hot gothic hardcore teen." That's hardcore as in, hardcore porn. So you think I look like Liz Viscious, buddy? That's like openly admitting your nearly pedophiliac fetish for teenage goth girls. Clearly a winning strategy for wooing the ladies.

5. Is it just me, or are the only kids from high school who are actually doing something cool with their lives of the super religious born-again Christian variety? Anybody else noticing this trend?

6. I feel like I have to put glamour shots of myself on the blog in order to compensate for pictures like last night's. Is that so wrong of me?

7. I have a serious problem at business social functions. Last night I was at a party for job #2. Holding my glass of red wine, I was doing an excellent job of not getting any on my white shirt. That is, until some girl pushed past me, causing me to pour red wine all over my shirt (which, by the way, is dry-clean only). The worst part? She didn't apologize, and all the guys who were standing around watching this just shrugged their shoulders and walked away.

Another classic case is the time I went with Tyler to the Alberta Centennial wine and cheese thing in Cold Lake. A challenging struggle with a chicken skewer resulted in a piece of chicken flying up in the air, looping back towards me, and landing square between my breasts. Several of the men at the table saw this happen. What should I do? Should I pretend that it didn't happen? I did what anyone else would have done in that same situation--I reached down, plucked the chicken from between my cleavage, and popped it in my mouth. Class all the way.

8. I will be back in Alberta Monday morning. Wanna hang out?

Facts for Friday: "Yo, it’s corrupt where I’m from--Ed-mon-ton!"

Midnight study break

"Oh, how lonely and weary I am from studying," said Edna. "I just can't focus. My mind is elsewhere. If only there was a real man around this house to help put out the fire between my loins."

Mortimer immediatly sensed the need for a manly man. "I sense the need for a manly man," he said. Mortimer readied himself for action, and invited Edna down the hall under the pretext of a "study break dance party."

"Oh my!" giggled Edna. "I never realized you had such sweet dances moves! Tee hee hee!" she said, fluttering her eyelashes and flushing.

"That's not all I've got that's sweet," Mortimer said in the most manly of manly ways.

"Oh. . .really?" said Edna, shyly, clasping her hands at her lap.

"Nope," grunted Mortimer. "I've got a lot more to offer."

"Like what?" asked Edna, who had to put on her sunglasses, because the hotness radiating off Mortimer was too much.

Mortimer didn't say a word. The connection between himself and Edna was too intense to need words. Instead, he turned around to show off his other sweet assets.*

And then. . . Jessica failed her 8 a.m. history final that she still hasn't crammed for yet, because she's been too busy writing her critical issues final exam. But at least she has a sweet ass.


*Hahaha. ASSets? Get it? Hahaha! Oh.... Okay. I'll just be quiet, then.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A seminar on social skills

Sick and tired of drinking only coffee, packing my room up, eating the few remaining remnants of groceries (meals of hummus and crackers, interspersed by red pepper, spinach and egg sandwiches, and the occasional dried fig), my take-home "critical issues in journalism" final exam, and studying for my history final, I needed to leave the house last night. So I met up with Canice and we headed down College street to attend the official launch of the Ryerson Review of Journalism. While we were there, Carla mentioned to us that there was a party at the eyeopener office. The purpose? To drink up all the remaining alcohol that had accumulated throughout the year. So, of course we went.
But Canice kept her raging alcohol problem in check, for once.
Fun fact: at eyeopener parties, no one talks to each other. They just talk on their phones. That way they can retain the ultimate alluring trait that all journalists have in common: social awkwardness.

Does it count as a missed connection if you know everyone in the room?

Anyways, at some point in the night, the kama sutra came out. Carla studied it intensely while Jesse talked on the phone, of course.

Jesse probably should have been paying closer attention. Then Josh spilled my beer, but of course, being the gentleman he is, offered to clean it up--with his shirt.

[photo removed]

Just in case the pictures in the kama sutra book weren't clear enough, Robyn and Josh were more than happy to demonstrate all the moves for us. I'm not sure what this one is called, so let's play another round of mad libs, following the classic formula for naming sex moves: "The [animal name] [verb or random noun]." (For example, The Platypus embrace. Okay, now you try!)

[photo removed]

My favourite things about these pictures is how absolutely no one is paying attention to the lesson. They're just nonchalantly going on about their business, with expressions on their faces like, "What, you've never been in a newsroom before?"

Except for Karon. He was carefully taking notes.

Now, it's back to work. The weather outside if beautiful. I suspect it will be a full-filled day of procrastination punctuated by some cramming.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Starting where we begin

Walking to work today, there were hoards of elementary school kids, lined up in buddy-system rows, waiting to get into the theatre for a play. Some of the girls waved and smiled and said hello to me. I smiled back. I remember being that age. For a moment, I saw myself through their eyes--just a brief glimpse. Through their eyes, I’m an adult. I’ve got insurmountable debt, I’ve got jobs, I have an education and I even have a small amount of furniture.

But I'm not quite there yet.

In a month, I’ll be turning 23. The number feels somehow substantial, weighty. I'm moving back in with my parents in only six days, for one last time.

Will I ever really feel like an adult?

On my last days in Australia, I got off a train in Katoomba on a chilly, grey morning. The wind and rain whipped at my face, and I wandered the streets in search of my hostel. I was tired, alone and had no clue what I was doing there. After spending nearly three months constantly surrounded by people—sharing the nighttime shelter of a mosquito net, avoiding the sparks and ash that shot off our cooking fires, taking quiet comfort and pleasure in the hot tea from the morning billy before the hot afternoon sun made us crave nothing more than grapefruit and fresh bread, scrubbing cement-covered clothes at sinks plugged with old flyers, standing lengthwise at mirrors wet and wrapped in sarongs, swapping spit and stories all the way up the Australian east coast—I was completely alone. I had come to Katoomba on a whim, with no purpose and no reason.

This is where the owner of the hostel found me, lost and worn, but in no rush. Pulling over with his dog’s salacious tongue hanging out the passenger side window, he offered me a ride. Why had I decided to come to the Blue Mountains? “I don’t know,” I told him truthfully. He was appalled. I didn’t come to hike? “No, I honestly don’t know why I’m here.” He insisted that before I went back to Sydney, I had to go for a hike. I agreed, but only to humour him. I intended to sleep and read and maybe do some paperwork. Hiking wasn't on the agenda.

That night, I took myself out for dinner: half a bottle of local red wine, beet root juice dripping down my chin, one hand scrawling furiously into my journal and vegan lemon square for dessert. Back at the hostel, a conversation with a Dane born to Swedish and Finnish parents, but raised in South Africa. A midnight payphone telephone interview across the world, while cargo trains rumbled beside me, and I shivered in the night air. Feet touching those of a young British hiker’s, sitting comfortably in front of the fireplace until our words collided and intermingled, and there was nothing more to say.

In the morning, I showered, packed my bags, tied the laces of my worn shoes and found the Brit. “I want you to take me hiking,” I said. An instant grin was my response. The hostel owner, overhearing this, couldn’t help but let a slow smile spread over his face, too.

So, with wet hair and running shoes with holes in them, I hiked. We followed the trails, until the markings no longer mattered, and we made our own. We washed our faces in waterfalls. We climbed into cool, damp caves for breaks. We left the path and sat with our feet dangling hundreds of feet above the earth as we watched cockatiels swoop through the blue haze of the eucalyptus trees below us.

This is the last time I felt like an adult.

Later that night, the train rolled back into Sydney and anonymity swallowed us again. I packed carefully, folding my clothes and shaking dirt out of my bag. My cement-caked, world-weary shoes—the same sneakers that had carried me across Europe, to Toronto and around the world—I threw in the trash, without one trace of hesistation.