Monday, May 19, 2008

The bloody bits

I was stuck the city this weekend. It's starting to weigh down on me. I haven't been out of the concrete since December. It's strange that I spent the first 18 years of my life terrified by the sheer isolation of Cold Lake; when I was a kid I used to lay in bed and count the towns outwards from Cold Lake. Cold Lake, Grand Centre, Bonnyville. . .and then? Smokey Lake, I guess. And after? Edmonton. A 300 km drive, and all I could come up with was three smalls towns in between Cold Lake and Edmonton. It was unsettling. It kept me awake at night. I could never figure out why--I guess it made me feel trapped.

And now I'm trapped in a different way. I spent the other night online, frantically scanning the Ontario Tourism map, looking for genuine wilderness, looking for a route that only has three small towns in between Toronto and utopia. It doesn't exist. I looked for cheap rental car rates, and places where the tourists wouldn't be hoarding for the weekend. I ended up staying in the city instead. I spent my entire teenage years wanting to get out, and I'm sure I'm going to spend a large portion of my life as a young adult wanting the same.

I'm making the best of it. Natty and I went to one of those cheap Asian manicure places yesterday to get our nails did. It was my first time getting a manicure (I usually just get a pedicure because I figure my hands are a lost cause regardless), but I couldn't say no when it was only $10.

I got what I paid for. Check out the slight infection and bloody bits around my cuticles. Here's to hoping I don't get hepatitis.

In other news, I really want to compete in the Idiotarod. I'm not very good at Rock Band, playing basketball, or anything requiring general coordination or skill, but I know my way around a good costume.

And finally, I went to a BBQ at a fellow Albertan's house on Saturday night. There wasn't a single Ontarion in attendance, just British Columbians, Saskatchewanians and Albertans. We all commiserated about our hatred of the phrase "May 2-4."

This weekend is the prime example. May 24th is next weekend, yet this weekend is the May 2-4 weekend. Furthermore, what is a 2-4? Turns out that I'm not the only Westerner confused by this phraseology. (It's a flat of beer, apparently. This is definitely a product of Ontario's archaic liquor system, one that was developed during prohibition. Out West, we don't have to "order" our beer, so there's no way we would start saying things like "2-4.")

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Formal Fridays

My first week at work is going well. Yesterday we had a staff lunch, where everyone took turns grilling me in "this or that" fashion. For example, the Americas or Africa? (Neither, the South Pacific.) Every day I get to talk about far away fantasy places like Tanzania, Ethiopia and Guyana in realistic terms. And best of all? Because the staff dress in jeans and casual clothes on a regular basis, they've instated an optional Formal Friday.

I haven't quite figured out how writing is going to fit into the equation, but I'm confident that this was the right path to take, at least for now. (Here's to the death of Casual Fridays.)

Nice paint job. Pointless, though. Anyone want to wager a bet on how long this is going to last for?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Post-Grad's Guide to Unemployment

For the past two weeks, I have been unemployed. Granted, it wasn't unemployed in the conventional sense. I wasn't laid off and I didn't quit my job. I simply graduated, was forced to resign from my extracurricular activities (McClung's) and since I'm no longer eligible for funding, I also had to quit my work-study job.

So, for the first time in about 5 years I found myself without a job.

And now I've got one.*

But in a homage to those two weeks spent in income-less limbo, I present to you the workaholic's guide to keeping busy while unemployed:

Into the Wild by John Krakauer is a must-read for any recent university graduate. (It's difficult not to relate to Chris McCandless, which probably explains the pilgrimages of youth flocking to the site of his death since the movie's release.) Natty and I rented the film earlier this week, and I couldn't help but feel shame for watching the movie before reading the book. I redeemed myself by reading the book in one sitting.

Already read Into the Wild? For another tale of a university graduate going primal, try Thor Heyerdahl's Fatu-Hiva: Back To Nature. Think McCandless, but instead of 1992 the year is more like 1937, and replace Alaska and starvation with Polynesia and elephantitis.

Next up? Joan Didion's A Year of Magical Thinking.

Keeping with the theme of uprooting your roots, I'd recommend Reel Paradise, which documents the life of an American family who move to an island in Fiji and open a movie theatre that screens Hollywood blockbusters for free. But this one won't tug your heart strings--instead, be prepared to get your hate-on for a rich family that even after a year of living with the locals just can't seem to figure it out. I also loved Enchanted and starting watching the HBO series Carnivale, but couldn't quite get into it.

Sangria is our drink of choice. Buy triple sec, brandy and some cheap red wine. Cut up all that fruit that's rotting in your fridge, throw in some fruit punch and a splash of club soda, and enjoy with friends in the sun.

For the Toronto crowd, D.Dodd is obsessed with Tortilla Flats (458 Queen St. W.) right now. He thinks they are the best thing ever. I however, am more into Bar_One (924 Queen St. W.) for hangover brunches, Squirrely's (810 Queen W.) for drinks (we like the beer selection but don't try the food, it's pretty bad) and Craft Burger (573 King W.) to get my blood sugar level going again.

But in the end, House on Parliament (456 Parliament Street) holds the key to my heart. Featuring the best veggie burgers in the city, sweet potato fries and nightly bread pudding specials (last time I had the chocolate cherry), it's hard to beat.

Jean Leloup, She and Him, Classified and Lykke Li.

And When You're Really Bored. . .
Sasha called me and asked me to help her move. I jumped at the opportunity to get off the couch.


*The details on the position: non-profit organization that deals with youth and international development, full-time, salaried, super close to my house and I'm pretty damn excited about it.