Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Logical Fallacies

In more ways than one, I'm getting ready to leave Cold Lake.

From today's Cold Lake Sun:

"THIS LETTER IS written in the hopes that smokers will band together to have the laws regarding smokers changed. The governments have gone way too far by increasing the price of cigarettes, and yet they are banning smoking. As you know, cigarettes are sold in most grocery stores, drugstores, service stations and convenience stores. This is a legal substance and the governments gather billions of dollars in taxes.

If smoking is so terrible, why are the tobacco companies still in business? Car exhaust gives out more pollution than a few puffs on a smoke, and yet car manufacturers are spewing out millions of cars each year. Does this make any sense? Smokers’ rights are being compromised, and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms seem to be for the immigrants, non-Canadians and, of course, the non-smokers. Is this fair?

It just boggles my mind that we have a bunch of hypocrites in government. "Buy smokes but don’t smoke" must be their motto these days.Smokers have a right to smoke just as non-smokers have a right not to smoke. If this is a democratic country, let’s all stand up and be counted."

Oh, and just for the record--you're still allowed to smoke in the bars in Cold Lake.

I figured you could probably all use a laugh today. (I'm also wondering how long it will be before Tyler writes a rebuttal?)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Elizabeth May and Bill Clinton are BFFs!

Maclean's reported this week that Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, is the proud new owner of a Prius hybrid.

Good for her. It's good to know that May did her research before purchasing the car.

I've been doing a lot of reading about hybrids lately, particularly the Prius, and allegedly the carbon footprint left from shipping of the Prius from Japan to Canada alone, outweighs the benefits of lifetime use of the car. May also apparently bought the car to travel around Central Nova Scotia, which, to my understanding, is rural driving--and hybrids work most effectively in urban environments.

But that's not all. According this article she would have been further ahead to have purchased a Hummer.

I'm a little dissapointed that I can no longer fully support the Green party, if this is a clear example of the research, planning and decision-making they're capable of. It's a good thing I only vote for them in hopes of establishing a more democratic electoral system.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

the perfect man

Try and remove me from this place. Try and separate the two. I dare you.

Words cannot even describe this moment.

I’m coasting down the back road and the air is heavy from the heat of the day. My hair is still damp and setting into loose curls from my spontaneous post-beer, clothes-still-on, off-the pier-and-into-the-lake-cannonball that occurred less than an hour earlier. I’m comfortable in board shorts that barely graze the tops of my thighs, and a striped t-shirt bought in Finland that used to match my fuchsia hair. Dragonflies glide parallel to my path, taking care to avoid the spokes of my wheels. Frogs are jumping across the hot pavement, desperately trying to make their way to the next pond for some nice, cool mud bathing. Sufjan Stevens is in my ears (The Tallest Man, the Broadest Man, for any of you who want to make a specific musical reference) and there’s only one thought in my mind.

How could this get any better?

A grin on my face, I reach the top of the hill, and somehow, even through Sufjan’s chiming bells and horns, I hear my answer before I see him. We glide together down the hill, his muscular legs pushing hard against the earth, mine pushing hard against my pedals. His white tail is visible slightly ahead of me, and then we both stop. I brake and wheel closer using my toes to push me. Only feet apart, I stare at him and he stares back. His antlers are mossy and immaculately symmetrical, and for a moment curiousity replaces fear. And then we both disappear. He into the bush, and me into myself.

City mouse, indeed.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Coming-of-Age Fables

As a kid, I never liked the story The Country Mouse and the City Mouse. It didn't appeal to my sensibilities, I suppose, because I could never identify with it. Growing up in an isolated community in northern Alberta with a population just big enough to barely be considered a city, I didn't understand the polar personalities juxtaposed in the classic children's book. I was neither a Country Mouse or a City Mouse.

It's the age-honoured North American coming-of-age story told time and time again through literature, movies, reality television series and bible stories. As twenty-somethings, we seek our adulthood through an escape from familiar surroundings. We laugh at the comedies featuring city folk in the country, floundering their way through manure, and at the country folk and their fashion mishaps in their first weeks in their new college dorms. We can see ourselves in these characters, one way or the other, and identify with their misunderstandings at the other way of life. The Country Mice head to the city, and the City Mice try to find a way back to nature.

We're perpetually living stereotypes, a la Pauly Shore in the Son in Law.

I feel like the title of this blog should be Country Mouse/City Mouse. I feel like I'm perpetually chronicalling my love affair with the differences. It's not that I'm neither mouse: I'm both.

Right now, I'm in Vancouver, blending seamlessly into the sidewalk masses as I navigate easily through the perpetual oncoming barrage of umbrellas and raindrops. Alex, the City Mouse who moved to a Country City, is here for a conference. I tagged along to visit family and indulge in all the vegetarian food the West Coast has to offer.

We arrived Wednesday morning, and I sulked as my glasses became covered in precipitation, and exhaustion from our early flight burned behind my eyes. After a solid nap, I was ready to go, to conquer a city that I once planned on moving to, but know so little about.

There's always power in travel, in its anonymity. There's comfort in coffee alone in the west coast bistros, a book and journal for company.

I always want to carefully note the differences, but not to let on that I don't belong.

Andrew and I spent yesterday wandering through Stanley Park, taking wrongs turns and only occasionally pulling out a worn map.

While Alex is awed by mountains, I'm awed by the timelessness of the trees, of their superiority over us. Upturned by last year's windstorms, they still continue to grow, their roots sucking up the moisture of the B.C. rainforest, and their limbs covered in ivy and ferns, sprouting new green buds of life.

These City Ducklings didn't flinch when I leaned in to take their picture. I could nearly envision their tuxedos and monocles. They weren't the type to wear overalls and hold straw in their beaks.

Winding down the trails, we ended up at the Vancouver Aquarium, where Andrew plotted to steal a basilisk, and I nurtured my misanthropic tendancies as I watched hoards of tourists with screaming children take pictures with flash.

The jellyfish exhibit was easily my favourite, although I'm terrified of the creatures.

Ten years ago, in Mexico, I was stung on my legs by tiny jellyfish while snorkelling. I've hated both jellyfish and snorkelling since.

Andrew met a hot girl at the aquarium, Heather. Too bad she was so short. . .and a cardboard cutout.

When we started walking back to my hotel, the sun burst through the clouds and the rain stopped, nothing less than miraculously. The forecast had predicted 25-30 mm of rain in 3 days, alone.

The city suddenly came alive, sucking up the light and the warmth, the people taking pleasure in not being weighed down by their oppressive umbrellas.

I'm in love with places in the way that I'm in love with people.

They can be unforgiving, confusing and hostile, but it's the differences that always make them worthwhile.

In two days, it's back to the country again. I don't want to leave quite yet, but I know that I'll still relish in my country life, even if I don't own a proper pair of coveralls or stick straw between my teeth.

Friday, July 13, 2007

This is what I call a "business trip"

Without revealing too much about my employer #1, I gotta say that sometimes, my job is pretty awesome.

Like, this week, when I actually got paid to dress like this.

This is the full view. (Note the awesome bling handcrafted by yours truly out of wrapping paper and cardboard.) That's my co-worker Jonathan.

When we heard we had to go on a business trip to be in the Lloydminster music-themed parade, Jonathan suggested we all dress to represent the different musical genres. I saw this as the golden opportunity to prove to Alex Dodd that I do, in fact, have serious street cred.

This is Danielle from Fort McMurray, representing country music. We shared a hotel room and threw a waterslide pool party together. (Sadly, only Jonathan, Danielle and I attended. But we dominated those waterslides!)

This is the candy we got to eat. . .I mean, throw out to the kids. Deep beneath the bubblegum and suckers were chupa-chups, gummies, jolly ranchers and serious quality candy. I may or may not have taken advantage of my baggy borrowed jeans by stuffing the huge pockets with candy.

The crew waiting for the parade to start.

Natalie, repping rock music.

And this is me, having some serious street cred, right on the street, no less. That's right Alex Dodd, would you wanna mess with this, dogg?

I'm more hardcore than you can ever know. This picture is what Jacob would refer to as a fistful of awesome.

And sometimes, my job #1 is pretty much a massive fistful of awesome.

back to nature

Going south would be too predictable.

The limp worms in empty bottles, disintigrated by their harsh liquid homes. Chapped dry skin, parched tongues, early mornings and the eerie sound of the desert at night.

It's all been done before.

Let's go north, instead. We'll climb the parallels, seeing the early morning mist of our breath form in the air.

Let's carve our names into the tundra, letting our feet sink into the mossy ground.

Polar bears will guide us, and we'll teach magpies to talk.

Our legs knee-deep in rushing water, we'll catch salmon with our hands, taking care not to fall on the slippery rocks.

And each night, we'll collapse, satisfied and full, letting our bodies drift to the sway and dance of the northern lights. And just for that moment, we'll believe that forever has arrived.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Candice and Kurt Cameron are hard-core Evangelicals

When I was growing up, friends found the following things about my family peculiar:

1. We ate dinner together every night, at exactly 6:00 p.m.

2. At dinner, we frequently discussed world affairs, history and argued about earthworm's instinctual habits. (Right now the popular dinner-time discussion/argument revolves around the domestication of cattle as it relates to the grammatical pluralization of moose. I couldn't even make this stuff up.)

3. We only own one TV.

4. My mom liked to talk openly about, well, everything. I first learned what the word "orgy" meant when I was 13, at a dinnertime discussion. And of course, on that particular evening, I had a friend over for dinner.

5. Andrew and I were actually friends growing up, and hung out together of our own violation. When I was in junior high school and he was in high school, he'd drive me everywhere, only sometimes complaining. But if he borrowed Dad's truck for the day, he'd often show up after school unannounced to pick me up, by his own choice. After he moved to Edmonton, he'd still sometimes surprise me at school when he came home for the weekend to visit.

6. We were rarely allowed to have sleepovers, or to go on sleepovers.

On one family vacation, we managed to visit four historic forts. And that's not including the five or so museums we went to on that same trip.

Monday, July 09, 2007

and the living is easy

It was just for a brief moment that the rain stopped. Everyone rushed outside, rinsing their weary bodies in the sunshine.

I rushed from job to job, absorbing radiation from a computer monitor, mixing Manhattans and blending margaritas, steaming milk, uncorking wine and witnessing hundreds of kilometers under the foot of my gas pedal.

I pulled my car over in the mornings, taking 10 minute naps, before shaking myself off with my window rolled down and continuing on my way, visualizing the car crash. I smiled as I answered the phone ("because people can hear your smile") and waded through the groggy early morning mess.

But I stole the moments when I could. I bathed in the sunshine at lunches, washing away the day's tedium. I inhaled the thick summer air deeply every time I carried a cheesecake to its owner on the patio. I sat with Chloe downtown, wearing pretty dresses, dipping a spoon deep into the pitcher of our favourite slushy drink. I drove with my sunroof open, dress hiked up and singing loudly.

It's slipping away too quickly, and now the rain has returned.

Friday, July 06, 2007

This country and I are both getting old

Everyone, this is Kate. Say, "Hi Kate." Okay, good. Now say, "Nice first position Kate."

I grew up with Kate. My first memory of her was in kindergarten, when her older brother Ian, who is the same age as me, brought her in for show-and-tell. We had early beginnings.

We highland danced together for eons when we were younger. She was the first person who came to stay with me in Toronto. We worked together at the HH. And everytime we go out together, we have an awesome time.

Basically I'm putting up these pictures of the Canada Day weekend for Kate's benefit, because I'm pretty sure she's probably just been hitting refresh on my page for the last 5 days straight in hopes that I'll post them.

Sadly, I didn't take many.

It was the first time I'd been out since the May long weekend. Walking into the bar, I didn't know anyone. Kate and her friends knew everyone. They started calling me Old Lady Jessica.

I was feeling kind of dejected until I saw someone I knew. A guy with a bandana and long faux seventies metal hair came rushing up to me. "I know you," he said, excited and drunk. "How do I know you?"

I laughed. "I used to teach you."

When he was in grade 9 and I was in grade 12, I helped teach my multi-media teacher's classes during my spare periods (you know, as opposed to going to Walmart or getting high like everyone else did during their spares). Bandana boy was one of my students. "I'm going to buy you a shot," he insisted.

And then he grabbed my ass. Before I knew it, my index finger was in the air and I was waving it in his face. No, no. Ne touche pas! And then I truly felt like Old Lady Jessica.

The second time a person that night recognized me, wasn't much better. "Do you know who I am?" the guy asked me. "Yah, you graduated with my brother," I told him. "Do you remember yelling at me?" "Uh, no."

He launched into the story of an event I have no recollection of, but have no doubt in my mind that it actually happened: "When I was still in high school, some guys were picking on your brother. You told them off, and then because you thought I was one of them, you started yelling at me. I've been terrified of you for years, because of that day." It was a classic story of my teenage self--defending my much older brother in nothing less than sheer sibling protectiveness.

Last night he took me out for a cup of peppermint tea. "I don't think I've ever met a girl from Cold Lake before who is as interesting as you are. You've been everywhere. You've done everything."

"I haven't done much," I told him, sipping my tea. "All I did was leave."

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

In the dark.

After dating long distance for nearly a year, the Alex Dodd and I are only just beginning to discover our differences. So far, we haven't encountered any insurmountable problems, and our disagreements are usually amicably settled when he agrees that I'm correct, once again, just to placate me (or more accurately, because I am correct). But this past weeked, we finally came to a head on several key issues:

1) Whether to sleep with the blinds up or down.

Alex thinks that complete darkness is necessary to sleep and to combat insomnia. I think light streaming through my window in the morning helps me wake up and prepare me for another glorious day. He argues that northern Alberta's light confuses him, which I supposed is partially true. (This morning I woke up, thinking that I had slept through my alarm because it was so bright outside. But when I looked at my clock, it only read 4:23 a.m.) I argued that because of my nightmares, I don't like complete dark, because then when I wake up, I'm confused about where I am.

We determined that a compromise of some sort is necessary. I suggested he invest in one of those black satin eye covers. He told me this wasn't gonna happen. And if you ask me, that's not the spirit of compromise.

2) To nap or not to nap.

I hate napping.

During naptime in playschool, I'd gaze around at my classmates, happily sucking on their thumbs and drooling on their brightly coloured mats, only to wonder what the hell was wrong with them. At home, my Dad would try to get me to nap, and I'd pretend to sleep just to make him happy. I rarely even sleep on car rides. (Last summer in Australia, I had to take a hot, packed 15-hour night bus up the coast. Desperately needing rest, I swallowed some prescription sleeping pills to help me out, but I still couldn't fall asleep. Instead, the medication just drugged me up to the point where I couldn't move my limbs, but I was still fully concious.)

Even now, I don't nap. And when I do, I don't enjoy it. But Alex, the occassional insomniac, LOVES to nap, while I, also the occassional insomniac, recognize that sleeping during the day prevents sleep at night. On top of that, napping leaves me with dried-out contacts, fuzzy hair, a gross taste in my mouth, nightmares during the day and no real sense of rejuvination. Worst of all, sleeping in the middle of the day is a waste of time. Why sleep when you can be awake enjoying the day?

So why is this is a problem? Because Alex keeps trying to make me nap with him. He tries to trick me into it by telling me he just wants to cuddle, but I'm not that easily fooled. It's not going to happen, friend.

3) Movie time lighting.

Although I'll admit this is a little odd, I never watch movies at home with the lights off. It's mainly because I find it really hard on the eyes. (Exception: I prefer to watch movies with subtitles with the lights off.) Alex never watches movies at home with the lights on. We usually compromise and use the dimmer switch. This also becomes a problem when we're eating--I would never dream of eating in the dark because I like to see my food. Alex, however, could happily make and consume a 4-course meal with nothing more than the glow of a stove's burners.

Want to help us settle the argument? And got any suggestions for compromises?