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March 2005 Archives

March 31, 2005

I was talking to a

I was talking to a friend today about his final week at school. "I don't want to go to classes," he says. "They feel like interupting time I could be spending on my essays."

God, I totally feel like that right now. I don't want to go to work because it's interupting time I could be spending getting rid of all this damned clutter. I have too many things. And I am drowning in a sea of boxes.

I actually had to remind myself today that there is never going to be a shortage of file folders. If I suddenly find a need for file folders, I can go out and buy them again.

"But!" said myself. "I have these packages of file folders that have never been opened! I can't give those away! It would be wrong!"

"Ah hah," I said. "That just proves you have too many that you don't need. Put them in the Give To Charity Box, woman."

And thus, they are in the Charity Box. I haven't found a charity yet that uses hanging file folders, but I haven't looked very hard. If anyone wants any hanging file folders, do just let me know, I have a box of them. A big box. A very full big box.

These beautiful stone lions

Male Lion
These beautiful stone lions are everywhere in China. It's quite normal to see a pair of them at the main entrance to public buildings. This one is male, as you can tell by the fact that he's holding a ball in his paws. The female ones have a small baby lion instead. (Oh, a baby lion is a cub. Yay google.)
My understanding is that the male lions hold a ball that symbolizes the world, because men are supposed to work in that sphere, whereas the female ones hold a cub, to symbolize family.
Can you imagine something with such blatent gender roles in front of every public building in Canada?

I know, not much to say about the stone lions. Sorry, I'm a bit unfocused today, since tomorrow is when Sin City opens! Sin City! Yay yay yay!!!!
I'm sure it's quite shocking to anyone who's met me that I want to see this movie. I don't like violence, at all. I've walked out of RPGs that had too much violence for me. But gah, am I ever a fan of Sin City comics. They're violent, but in a way that makes sense in the city. I never feel there's violence in these stories just for the sake of violence. It's there because it's necessary to the way the story works. I didn't mind the violence in Wicked City, either. And no, I won't link to Wicked City. You've either seen that anime and have been scarred by it, or you haven't, and may be happier that way.
But, Sin City! Aaaaa! AAAA!!!!
I watch them watch me I watch them too Across the street across the room I dress myself like a charcoal sketch My eyes are brown and my hair's a mess

They annoy me those who employ me
They could destroy me
They should enjoy me
We eat Chinese off our knees
And look for each other in the TV screen

The sun goes up and the sun goes down
I drag myself into the town
All I do I want to do with you
Everyday I'm at my desk
At my desk I'm like the rest
All I do I want to do with you

March 28, 2005

A whole bunch of people

A whole bunch of people made it a point yesterday to call me and wish me a Happy Easter. I'm really quite touched at this. *smile* This is the first holiday since coming back from China that I haven't worked, and everyone I knew was doing family stuff, so I was alone for most of it. But, yeah, people called, which I thought was sweet.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I'm going out of town for a few days. Since a few people get nervous when I don't return their emails or calls, I thought I'd let everyone know that I wasn'd disappearing into the ether, just going to a friend's house for a few days of frantic laundry doing. *grin* And baking. Yay!

March 26, 2005

One of the things

Busy open market...
One of the things that struck me as odd is how realistic movie and video game portrayals of open markets like this one are. I mean, granted, they're all put through the proper filter, but you do walk down crowded little "allies" in the open markets, where people have their wares out on blankets or on tables, and you can buy everything you can think of. Lots of "antiques" in this market - right outside of a major tourist attraction in Nanjing. But I went to other ones that had foodstuffs, household goods, tourist crap, lots of postcards, stuff like that. It was so loud and full of energy, and it was so hard to find what you wanted, but if you stumbled on it the bargaining could be fun.
(I'll admit, bargaining was more satisfying for me in Shanghai because mostly I could do it in English. When I went to other places, we did it through calculators.)
I remember the place I went to buy food in Jiangyan. Not the grocery store, but the open market they sold food in that was hidden in a alley off the main street. Bao Ying took me, and she delighted in bargaining for meat for me, which they weighed with little weights on a ... a... weighing thing where you put the one weight on one side and the other weight on the other side until they balance. Gah! I can't remember the word! *hangs head in shame* Oh well. You know what I mean.
Bargaining is like an art in China. It's apparently different in other places where you bargain, but in China it's based around smiling and being friendly and laughing, never taking it too seriously. If you take it seriously, they won't bargain with you. I bought both Raven and Crash gifts in Shanghai that took me over 30 minutes to bargain for, but I spent the whole time laughing and giggling with the shop-owners. (The one person started out with this ridiculously huge price, which I responded to with a ridiculously low price, and then we sorta laughed and got on to reasonable bargaining. It was great.)
My favorite bargaining story is one of the packs of cards I picked up. This was in Xi'an. I found it in the Muslin Quarter, and the initial offering for this deck was something like 30 yuan. I thought I bargained hard, and was happy to get it for 10 yuan. I decided later on during my trip that I wanted another deck for a friend, when to get it at another shop in the same area, and got it for 1 yuan.
You just have to find stories like that funny, or it doesn't work to go to China.
Last night had it's share of oddities at work, but nothing as bad as the naked guy wandering the halls. The really odd one was the young man with the British Passport who insisted he was staying at our hotel with his friends. No one by any of the names he gave me was staying in the hotel, and the room number he claimed that he was staying wasn't one we have. He kept arguing with me about this, then suddenly looked around the lobbey, blushed bright red, and walked out.
I think he wanted the hotel next to us.
But it's Melanie's night that takes the cake. Mel's a night auditor down the street from me (I used to work with her, for all that I'd love to claim that all night auditors, everywhere, know each other), and she got this phone call from a woman who'd called the hotel before. Both times she called, she insisted that she had a reservation at Mel's hotel, but didn't. Last time she called, she talked to Shazmin, who finally tracked down that she had a reservation at a sister hotel, but for two days later. And both Mel and Shazmin had told this woman that the hotel wasn't going to go to the airport to pick her up.
When she called this time, she asked again when the hotel would come get her at the airport. (In the background of this call, Mel could hear a noise like MSN Messenger going off every couple of minutes.) When Melanie remineded her that the hotel didn't pick up guests at the airport, this woman first insisted on talking to Shazmin. When Mel informed her that Shaz wasn't there, the woman said, "Well, can you call her at home? She said she'd come get me!"
"No, I'm not going to call her at home."
"Well, why not?"
"Because she's sleeping."
I guess soon after this Mel got sick of the whole thing and hung up on her.
I've had weirder phone calls, like the one that sudden degenerated into screaming insults and insisted that I was "having consensual sex with Mr. (General Manager) on the front desk right now!". That one was... odd....
I'm telling you, full moons in Edmonton are weird.
Scales! The word I was looking for is scales!

March 25, 2005

Work was... um... interesting today.

Work was... um... interesting today.

My week day night security person is French Canadian. He struggles with his English on occasion, so it's not unusual for him to wander into the office, grab the French-English dictionary, and look up words. He'll ask me how to say them, ask for them in a sentence, stuff like that.

He comes over to me last night, and is pointing to the word nudity. "What's another way of saying this?" he asks.

"Naked." Then I blink. "Why do you ask?"

"Ah, yes. Naked. There is a naked man on the 5th floor."

(Oh, for those who don't know, I work night audit at a hotel.)


"Yes, on the fifth floor. He was getting ice."

"Naked. Man. On the fifth floor. Getting ice."

He grin at me. "Yes. He was from Quebec. He just wanted ice. I explained he had to go back to his room."

I burried my face in my hands. "Well, at least it's the fifth floor. It's only a team on that floor, no one else. So, it would only be his team mates seeing him. Naked. Getting ice."

He walked away to start getting the papers. Later on, I was staring at him again. "Naked?"

"Yes!" He grin at me, then made this rather unmistakable hand gesture about ... things... dangling and stuff and size and oh my poor eyes and brain. "He was uncircumsized."


And that, ladies, gentlemen, and others, was my day at work.

March 24, 2005

He is cooking squid.

Yummy Yummy Squid!
He is cooking squid. I think. Little squid-looking legs.
Street food in China is entirely different from street food in Canada, and I really think we're missing out. A lot of my favorite food memories are of things you can buy on the side of the road in China. Yummy buns filled with meat, these sorta but not really pancake things that are rolled up around hot dogs (more like crepes, I guess), all sorts of things on sticks (like deep fat fried tofu, which I loved), and squid.
This was again in Nanjing, and I asked the nice man (well, in pantomime) if I could take his picture, which he smiled and nodded. I think he was flattered, but it's so hard to say. I couldn't believe they were selling what looked like tiny little squid legs on sticks in the middle of the street for anyone to have.
I was really tempted (and he offered more than once, and they were cheap), but I was travelling alone at the time and the idea of being sick because of something I ate and not having anyone there didn't really appeal. So I passed on the squid. But there were lots of other foods I tried, and I got to the point in restaurants where I'd often just point at random on the menu just to see what I'd get.
So, yeah. Squid. On a stick. That people ate. In the street.
It still kinda boggles my mind.
Now I'm actually sitting here staring at the computer trying to come up with something to say that's at least a little bit interesting, and coming up dry.
I used to have a notebook I filled with point form notes about things to blog about, but I think it got shoved in a filing cabinet in my never-ending struggle to get things put away in this apartment. And thus, I am dull.
Um... when I was going through a box yesterday of things I thought were junk (and most of them were), I found a couple of books I thought were gone forever. So, I guess that's good. And I started slowly going through my collection of magazines. I'm taking them with me to work, flipping through them, cutting out anything that interests me, and then leaving them there. I leave a little note on them telling the rest of the staff that if they don't want to read them, just toss them in recycling. Got that okayed with the boss. If I take 5 magazines with me to work every day, I may be through them all by the end of the year. (I have a million magazines, it seems, and I keep finding more.)
Or, you know, when Margery comes up on the weekend to decimate the laundry with me, I might just close my eyes and toss them all in the recycling bins. Then they'll be gone, gone, and I won't be wondering anymore. As someone emailed me to remind me, everything is eventually reprinted, and most of it I could find online anyway.
I also found someone willing to take the entire huge amount of pink (pink? what was I thinking?) envelopes off my hands. She'll actually use them. Yay!
Yeah, I'm dull today. Sorry 'bout that. But, at least I can write in sparkly text now. Watch my mad HTML skillz.

March 23, 2005

One good thing about being

One good thing about being insomniac when you work nights. For some reason, you get more sympathy.

"You haven't slept and now you have to be up all night? You poor dear! Here, have some caffeine."

I don't think I ever got that much sympathy when I was working days. *smile*

But yes, I haven't slept since noon, and now I have to work till 7 a.m.

It's all because I've had all this time off this week. Way too much time off. So, I was awake at 3 a.m. a while ago, and seriously considered who I could call because I was so bored, and there's not much to do in Edmonton at 3 a.m., and I swear I found the last page of the internet. Twice. I called my friend in Halifax, which was not appreciated (what, it was 6 a.m., everyone should be up at 6 a.m. I am!), then I called a friend of mine who also works night audit. So all was saved in the Anna-verse.

I am right now killing time until I have to leave for work. I am tired, I don't want to go. *whine whine whine* I wrote up a list of things that kept running through my mind when I was trying to sleep, but I'm not sure if they'd interest anyone, either.

More on China in the morning...

Yay toast! I found

A ceiling in Nanjing's Presidential Palace
Yay toast! I found my guide book!
In typical Anna fashion, it was on my book shelf. I just didn't think to look there. (And my father is reading this and going "Yup, that's my kid.")
Anyway, looking at this picture reminded me of one of my frustrations with my guide book, and probably something that is true of all guide books. The signs for the place I was going to where in English, but the name in my guide book was completely different than the English name in Nanjing. Or was it that my guide book had the name in Pinying, and all the signs were in English? Either way, in Nanjing, the nice people called it the Presidential Palace, and I can't find the paragraph about it in my guide book.
I'm babbling.
This was one of the places I went to in China where I was again struck with how many of my friends would think "This is what China is". I remember how... pristine... the gardens were inside, and there were hidden speakers piping in Chinese music. I remember there was a bomb shelter inside, and how incredibly claustrophic that part was.
One section was this beautiful throne room area. The throne itself was gold, and there were these beautifully carved cranes next to it, with gold inlay. I remember the cherry wood on the desk across the hall, and this sense of awe.
But the real beauty, for me at least, was in the ceiling.
I'm fascinated by the way Chinese architecture is so different from Canadian stuff. Granted, a good chunk of that is because we're not really that old, but it also seems to me that there was an effort in ancient China to create things of beauty. Who cares if the ceiling is beautiful, right? But look up, and you can feel this sense of awe. It's not the golden throne or the cranes that made me think that the person who sat here was powerful. It was that someone crawled up on something rickety so that the ceiling would be beautiful for them.
I do have pics of the throne and the crane, and a few other things from this room, but they haven't been scanned. Note to self: Before next overseas jaunt, buy a digital camera.

As for my attempts to get my house undercontrol.... um... not so much. Except I found my guide book. Yay toast!
I don't know, it just seems like this never-ending task. And why would I want to de-clutter and clean when I can sit in front of my computer and hit "refresh" on my favorite sites? I just need some sort of ... easily attainable goal, I think. Maybe I need to take blantant advantage of my friends with cars, and get help clearing things out. "Okay, everything you already have packed and ready to go? Let's get it going. Now! Move it woman!"
I have friends I could deal with getting all authoratarian on me. *grin*
I was thinking the other day about travelling and how it affects people. My friend Scarecrow, who went to Japan and was the inspiration for my going to China, wrote (either in his blog or his regular site) how sometimes he forgets that he actually went to Japan, that he actually went on these adventures, until he reaches into a winter coat he hasn't worn in a while and finds a cancelled transfer from a Tokyo train.
For me, it's the little pieces of paper stuck in the guide book, the weirdly scrawled notes like "DO THIS NOW!" or "Shanghai has a Baby Bar?", or the huge collection of postcards that I'm trying to figure out how to sort. Those are the things that remind me of China.
But it's other things, too. Like reaching into my pocket the other day and finding my tag for the Maritime History Museum in Halifax. I'm often rather... not enthused about Canada. I love it, but I think it's boring and pedestrian. Our "revolt" lasted a weekend.
And yet, I love the beauty of this place. I love the way Halifax just... is. I was explaining this to my friend Mike, but he's been to Halifax, so he gets it. I just fell deeply in love with this city, and I never would have seen it if I hadn't gotten brave enough to get on a plane and go. And yes, getting on a plane to go to a city in your own country, where you know people, isn't as brave as going to China, where I knew no one, but it amazes me how few people in Canada have done it.
I really, really really, really really really need to travel again. Soon.

Him: So, how's the decluttering

Him: So, how's the decluttering going? Me: Shut you. Him: That good, huh? Me: I have too much stuff. Him: Isn't that the point of decluttering? Me: Shut up.

I am seriously considering either a) taking all the boxes in the closet and just tossing them in the dumpster to get rid of them or b) setting up a box out on the street that says "Please Take" and see what happens. Except it would get soggy, because there is snow out there.

At least the books to India are off. Margery came up on Friday and nabbed them from me, which I greatly appreciated. I'm rather amused by how they're getting to India, though. It's to expensive to ship things overseas like that. But, AUC is sending a group of students this year to India, and each of them will be taking a bunch of books in their luggage to send along. I'm not quite sure when they're leaving, obviously after the school year is done, which is good. Because after sending a monitor box full of books with Margery on Friday, I filled another (much smaller) box yesterday, and am starting on another one today. Go me.

A lot of stuff is earmarked for the woman's shelter. The extra dishes and cultery and stuff, as well as some board games I've got kicking around in a closet. I'm going through my clothes terribly slowly, and a bunch of that will be dropped off as well. I feel like I'm not advancing at all in this project, but I must be, right? *sigh* I want to get rid of all of this stuff so badly. I know it's tying me down in a lot of ways, but it seems like I'm never going to be done this, ever.

Things I Found In Decluttering My Home, a list, by jo

  1. Several balls of different types and colour of wool, which, put together, would make a very small scarf
  2. One knitting needle
  3. A half-completed scarf (green and purple) that is not on a knitting needle, but strung onto a pencil crayon
  4. An empty Easter basket (x 2!)
  5. Several very nice gift bags
  6. ID tags and name tags from several different places, each with a different name on them - not always mine
  7. Bubble Wrap
  8. Christmas wrapping paper from my childhood that I just refuse to part with
  9. A huge bag of paints for minifigs
  10. A Go board - it took me a lot more looking to find the stones that went with it
  11. A bicycle repair kit - I don't own a bike
  12. A stack the height of my hand of pink (pink?) envelopes
  13. A bag of flour - which would have been useful to know I had when I was baking bread, and had to go out at 3 a.m. to the nearest convience store and buy really expensive flour to finish the damned bread
  14. An awful lot of useless McDonald's Toys that I don't want or need
  15. A mismatched collection of both Collectible and ... not Collectible Card Games. None of which actually add up to an entire game
  16. Presents I bought people in China but never gave to them - For Raven, Kent, a whole bunch of kids in my life, Josh, Hoffman, Jenn and Kris' mom, which I am listing here so if they see their name, they will harrass me into giving it to them
  17. Enough clothes and books to start my own Used Clothes and Books store
  18. Poker Chips - but no cards
  19. 2 crayons
  20. Candles - millions and millions of candles

I have no idea where half of this stuff came from. I swear, when I'm not looking, it breeds in the corners.

Does anyone see anything they want? I'm at the point where I'll spring for shipping, should someone not in Edmonton want the stuff. I just want it out of my house, and can't come up with a good place to put it.

(Well, that's not true, my box for the woman's shelter is getting quite full.)

I keep telling myself that soon, soon, I will have less stuff, and my house will be back under control. This weekend, I'm going to a friend's house with all of my clothes, and we will spend two days doing laundry and playing with her computer and talking about boys or something. It'll be fun. And when I'm done, I'll have less clothes, and they will all be clean, and I'll be happier because of it.

It's good to have a plan. *grin*

March 21, 2005

I know, it's fish.

I know, it's fish. But after the frustration of trying to describe the last picture, I'm fairly confident I can recreate in words the day that I saw the fish.
It was in another garden in Nanjing. The pond dominated the area I was in. On one side of the bridge across the water was a stone and wood boat, one with beautiful carvings making up the interior. And on the other side, completely oblivious to the beauty of this boat, was a small child. He was holding popcorn in his hand, and with gleeful giggles was feeding it to these huge gold fish.
I can still remember the big mouths on this fish, each one opening and closing as they swarmed up to the surface of the water. They were all huge, fat, long gold fish, obviously spoiled by years of small children feeding them popcorn and bread. All of them many colours of gold and white and black, and each of them eager to get more popcorn, eager to get more attention. A few of them followed me when I walked away, swimming along the edge of the bridge until they realized I didn't have any popcorn, and they hurried back to the giggling child.
I like those sorts of images, of spoiled and pampered gold fish in carefully maintained ponds. The idea of a leisurely class of people, who had the time and the inclination to create gardens and sheltered places like this, appeals to me. It's an image I like to keep in my mind, the one I like to talk about when I talk about China.
But then it does give the wrong impression in a lot of ways, gives this idea that China is full of these idlyic little places. But I still have difficulty talking about the poverty that so many people live in there. That the people I worked with walked past without a moment's thought or glance, and the disdain that some of them showed for people living in poverty. Occasionally I still have dreams about children begging on the streets, and even now, when I walk past buskers in Edmonton, it haunts me the different levels of what is poverty in different areas of the world.
Sometimes it's so hard to think of what to write about. I don't think people come to see my pictures wanting a realistic view of China. I think they want what I want to give them - fun stories of my adventures, fun travel things that happened. But sometimes I just can't create that.

March 17, 2005

This is one of

Women drumming in Nanjing
This is one of the pictures that I look at and can instantly hear everything that was going on.
I was walking through Nanjing, and just stumbled upon this group of women (being lead by a man with cymbals) who were doing this... drumming thing. I'm sure there's some lovely name for it, but I don't know it. It's all very earthy, I guess. They were all in red, and had red and green scarves tied to their drumsticks. They would walk forward and backwards, turn and spin, and drum in these very... set pieces? Not out of control or anything like that, obviously in time to a particular beat.
Damn it, I can hear it in my head, but I can't describe it.
I stood and watched them for half an hour, and they kept smiling at me. (It seemed they were smiling at me specifically, but that could just be my vanity.) It was so... entrancing. I think I would have stayed until they were done practicing (it's hard to say why I thought they were practicing and not performing), but I had only a bit of time to get someplace else.
I stumbled on another group when I was in Suzhou. They were much smaller, and obviously performing. (I think the difference was in what they were wearing.) It was subtly different, and I didn't enjoy it as much as these women in Nanjing.
God, I wanted to describe this in such vivid words, and I can't find them.
See Also:
man leading the drummingwomen drumming

I am blessed, simply blessed in my friends.
Always have been, I just sometimes forget.
First, I got this great email today.
I have a collection of books that rivals at least one library that I've been to. It's huge. It's every book that I bought for school, it's every paperback novel, every hardcover, I've ever owned, it's several things I've "borrowed" from my ex-boyfriends and never returned, it's huge. It's several bookshelves, stacked and crowded and stuffed, it's several more boxes, it's insane.
It's way too much considering I haven't touched some of them in years.
It's so hard to get rid of them, though. I mean, they're books! Books! (I went to a friend's place with Barry once, to feed her cat, and the only comment he made about the entire place was "How can one person live with so few books?") And it's not that I don't love every one, even the bad historical romances that I haven't read since I was 12. (But I have to keep that one, it was the first one I read! And that one, because I like the picture, and that one, because I think the story is really well done, and I actually have read it some time in the past five years. See? It has a transit ticket *from Edmonton* in it.)
It's atrocious, isn't it? I mean, I have no room for them, I'm drowning in stuff, and I can't really appreciate it properly anyway. Which is something a friend pointed out to me recently. "Give them to someone who will love them, Anna, cuz you don't."
(I ramble, have you noticed?)
I tried selling them to the used bookstore, but some of them they won't take because they have too many of them, and the rest they were going to give me a pittance for, and it just didn't seem worth it for such heart ache, you know? I hate getting rid of books. I'd rather donate them or give them away then get 1.50$ for 5 books.
So, I got this email from my friend Margery today, who put in the middle: One thing I wondered, if you would consider. I belong to a group that needs some books to send to a very poor school in India. They are learning to speak English and need a small library. Simple children's books right on up to adult literature is needed. Would you consider giving some to this cause?
YAY! Exactly what I was looking for. Thus, I am getting rid of stuff that I don't really need, and giving to a good cause, and I feel better about myself because I'll have less stuff, and will have accomplished something this week.
Second, I'm attempting to budget, too, because my lack of organizing in my house is reflected in my inability to handle money. And it's not like I spend it all on big screen t.v.s or ice cream or something, I just fritter it away on things, or spend it on my friends. It's awful, and totally Anna, and something I'm trying to work on by getting help with a friend for budgeting. We had a conversation that went like this:
Him: Okay, we've got your food budget, your bills, your student loans worked out... what else is a set expense every month?
Me: Postcards.
Him: ....
Me: No, seriously.
Him: Okay. ... How much do we put down for postcards every month?
Me: Um.... 20$, I think, should do it. Maybe 25$.
Him: On postcards.
Me: Yes.
Him: Every month.
Me: Yes.
Him: Okay. (adds note).
I like friends who just kinda blindly accept that sort of thing from me.
(Which reminds me... I'm looking for postcards from Places That Are Not Edmonton as part of my postcard project. If you have some that you're willing to let me send to other people, I'd really appeciate them. I can definately send you postcards back. If you're interested, please drop me an email. I just got some in the mail the other day from Germany. Yay!)

March 16, 2005

Oh dear. As most people

Oh dear.

As most people who read my blog know, I work graveyards. Like most people who work graveyards, I don't sleep in a nice 8 hour chunk. However, unlike most people who work graveyards, I suffer from really weird insomnia. I have a hard time sleeping on the days I work, and up sleeping 16+ hours on my days off. Not 16 hours in a row, that would be easy. In these really weird chunks.

The problem comes in when I get phone calls when I'm sleeping. I used to be very clever and turn my phone off when I was sleeping, but I stopped doing that for some... surely terribly clever reason. I have no idea. Anyway, I *know* I got some phone calls over the past two days from people I know... but I a) can't remember who and b) don't remember if I'm supposed to call them back or not.

If I'm supposed to call you, could you email me and remind me? *blush*

Gotta go to work now. Yay tired.

March 14, 2005

So, my email is down

So, my email is down for at least another 30 seconds, which has ended my attempts to send emails. Thus, I shall blog instead. (This is yet another lovely way to avoid cleaning my home, can't you tell?)

I am feeling terribly guilty because I blew off a friend today in the hopes of getting more of the junk out of the apartment, and spent most of the day dozing or chatting online with friends. But after everyone else went to bed, I finally started on going through the 8 million pieces of paper scattered around my living room.

So, I gathered them up and started putting them in my lovely filing cabinet. And discovered something terribly disturbing.

The only pieces of paper I keep in my filing cabinet, except for my tax information, are gaming related. I have the character sheet for every character I've played since I left my parents place 10 years ago. I have every single submission for Fade. I have every piece of propaganda I was ever handed for any LARP since I moved here. I have multiple file folders for every live game I ran, and every tabletop game has at least one, if not two.

Someone save me! I'm drowning in Role Playing!

Does anyone else do this?

Related to this paper avalanche, I have a ton, a freaking metric ton, of blank paper. Lined, unlined, in purty colours, parchment, whatever. Tons of the stuff. Gah. Anyone have any suggestions on what to do with it?

And unrelated:

One of the conversations I had online when I was avoiding doing work was like this:

Dexx: They've got a celtic festival that started this weekend..
Dexx: I'm wearing a kilt.
Trouble: Right now? Cool!
Trouble: Is it your Utilita-kilt?
Dexx: yup... so comfy it feels like it should be illegal.
Dexx: kinda... breezy out this morning...
Trouble: As long as you're comfy.
Dexx: very... gotta get a couple more.
Dexx: Utilikilts had a booth at the festival.
Dexx: They were selling them like crazy...
Dexx: and after each sale, the guy shakes your hand and says "Welcome to the utiliclan." then a cry goes up of "There goes another free man!".. kinda odd, but fun...
Dexx: It's kinda odd - we walked from the skytrain to sheena's place - I've never been checked out so much in my life.. even coming to work women were checking me out..
Dexx: heh.. manager just came in.. did a double-take..
Dexx: apparently the dress code here is no shorts, but kilts are cool
Dexx: But since women can wear skirts, men can wear kilts.
Trouble: Kiltlift...
Dexx: or you could just ask...
Trouble: Well, true.
Dexx: but I suppose that takes the fun out of it..

IOW: Tom is very happy in Vancouver. Which is good to hear.

I guess I should get back to trying to get through this sea of paper. *sigh*

March 11, 2005

So ... tired .... I

So ... tired ....

I pulled a total Anna today, and I feel like such an idiot. I was standing in the kitchen at work holding a glass of pop. It fell out of my hands just seconds after the cleaners had finished that part of the floor, shattering glass and spilling pop all over the nice clean kitchen. And all over me. My shirt, just returned from the cleaners, has a big stain on the front. And my pants are sticky with pop.


I am so clumsy some (most) days.

In unrelated news:

Discount airline Jetsgo isn't going anywhere -- announcing early Friday that
it is grounded, effective immediately.

Jetsgo advised customers to make alternative arrangements before heading to
the airport since there will be no Jetsgo staff or planes available.

Travellers who are already away were told their return tickets are no good
and to make other arrangements to get back home.

The company issued the stunning announcement shortly after midnight on


Jetsgo said that difficult market conditions and competitive pressures led
the company to discontinue operations and ground all of its planes.

"We are very concerned about our customers and the significant hardship that
this action causes. In the meantime, we encourage our passengers to contact
their travel agent or an alternative airline."

Hours after the company issued its release, its website was still active with
no note to travellers on the situation.

The company said in its statement that consumers who have paid for Jetsgo
tickets should communicate with the Canadian Transportation Agency or provincial
consumer affairs ministries.

Recent problems at the discount airliner built up something of a backlash
against the company, even leading some travellers to launch a website -- www.jetsgosucks.com.

(Taken from www.edmontonjournal.com)

Interestingly, I can't get to either jetsgo.com or jetsgosucks.com from here, but that may be a work thing and not a thing thing.

The reason I bring this up is because this is the company that Don took when he flew off for university. The trip was a nightmare. The flight he was to take was cancelled, and the notation on his account said that he'd been contacted earlier that day and confirmed he'd take the flight the next day. Here's the catch: the phone that he would have been contacted on had been disconnected already the day before.

The woman he was dealing with fought tooth and nail for him to get on the flight going out that afternoon, with a comp stay at a hotel so he could catch a connection the next morning. It was a long battle, too, since he had "agreed" to the change.

Then, when he tried to get something to drink on the plane so he could take his medication, they told him (on the flight, mind you, this wasn't discussed anywhere before) that they charged for all drinks on the flight.

I know there was more to this saga, but the whole thing was just so stupid. Although I feel for the people who are being screwed (the stranded passengers, the unemployed people), I am glad this company went down.

That's my snarky for today. And I haven't even left work yet.

March 9, 2005

I wish I could

Garden in Nanjing
I wish I could remember which garden in Nanjing this was. I remember it was the first one I went to, and if I had my guidebook to hand, I could find it easily enough, but I can't find my guidebook right now. (More on that later.) The thing I remember most about this picture, though, was how different this garden was from the area surrounding it.
This garden is in the middle of Nanjing, and the city is noisy and insane. I'm not a big fan of noisy and insane cities. They make me uncomfortable. (And I went to China, where "noisy and insane" is kinda the norm.) I remember feeling much more claustrophobic and very alone. This trip was during Spring Festival, or maybe just before, and it was one of the first overnight trips I went on without Paul.
Anyway, my point. There was the noise of the ciy, and the feeling of being lost, and the constant feeling out of place... then there was this place. Just walking inside the walled garden, and there's this sudden silence. It's like the city is a million miles away.
Unlike a lot of the other places in Nanjing, this place had very few people in it. I don't think I saw more than one person the entire time I spent in the garden, and I was there for two hours. The paths are very windy, and there was the sense that I was walking right next to a part of the path I'd already gone through, but I couldn't quite see it, so it felt a lot bigger than it could be.
A lot of China's gardens are like that. They seem so huge, so peaceful (even with a million tourists all taking pictures), and there's this overwhelming sense of history in the whole thing.
I really miss that when I'm here. I love Canada, don't ever think I don't, but I miss that sense of history when I look at things here. Alberta is proudly celebrating 100 years of being a province. China has 5000 years of history.
I think pictures like this are a lot of what people think about when they think of China. They think of those 5000 years of history, they think of stereotypical Asian stuff, and this garden is what they come up with. They think of families with gardens like this in the back yard. They think of the movies we've seen of China, where this is typical. But when I think of China, I think of the crushing mass of people and how there's no sense of privacy. I wonder at why places like this are so... empty, really. But then, that's a cultural thing, isn't it? My need for privacy and personal space, versus the Chinese need for people around them. I remember talking to someone when I was there about that, about how Chinese students who do overseas trips go crazy from the quiet, while we go crazy from the noise.
See Also: A quiet place to rest {click to enlarge}
I think every garden I went to had a setup like this in some quiet shady corner. It was very pleasant.

So, the missing guide book thingy.

I'm talking to a friend of mine about how I'm updating my blog again, but I don't just want to put "And I was in China, and that was the only exciting thing I ever did in my life, and now I can die." Which, really, I'm certain it wasn't the only exciting thing I did in my life, but some days, I'm telling ya.

Anyway. My friend says, "Well, write about those little projects you're doing."

Me: What little projects. {This is me, looking innocent.}

Him: You know, the de-cluttering of all of your stuff.

Me: Oh.

Him: And the getting back into running.

Me: Right.

Him: And that stuff with those games.

Me: Okay, I see your point.

Him: So, you could write about that.

Me: But that means I actually have to do them.

Him: ...

Me: I suppose I could lie...

Him: No, no you can't.

Me: You suck.

So, yeah. I'm doing these little projects, you see, and the big one, the one that will take me the rest of my natural life, is the decluttering. Anyone who has ever met me, talked with me, or seen me in the street carrying the portable hole that is my purse can tell you that I need to declutter. I have way too much stuff for any three people, and I live alone with my cat. I have an entire room that just has *stuff* in it, and I don't know what to do with it all.

I read this little article some place about this one woman who, when she died, everything she owned could fit in her car. I want to be able to do that, not because I have some desire to run away from home, but because all of this *stuff* is ruling my life in a really nasty way. I don't have people over, because I don't want them to see the amount of *stuff* I have. It's insane.

So, yeah. I'm going through it all with this goal in mind. I'm never going to achieve it, but it's a nice goal to work towards. The problem is, my apartment is in a constant state of uproar while I try to determine what to do with all this *stuff*. Right now, my big goal is to gather together whatever is donatable and give it to Edmonton's WinHouse, which probably has a better use for 16 plates than I do.

Just to give you some idea, last night I finally threw out my history notes. From Grade 11. My ten year high school reunion was last year.

But yes, that's why I can't currently find my guide book. It may be on the overcrowded book shelf in the living room, one of the 4 overcrowded bookshelves in the bedroom, on the cluttered desk behind me, or on the cluttered desk I'm sitting at, or under a couch, or eaten by the cat. Who knows?

So, yeah, whatever encouragement or advice anyone can send my way would be appreciated. Any offers of help in carting all this stuff out of my damned apartment would be nice, too. If anyone wants any of this junk... well, you're welcome to it, although a few people have called dibs on some of it. (Hi Crash!). Hell, any advice on what to do with 7 years of back issues of magazines would be nice. Or a bunch of craft stuff that I never use, but I spent money on, so I don't want to get rid of. Just, gah.

Anyway, the other projects are for another day. But I'll try to write about the decluttering stuff, because it would be nice to get some encouragement there. It's harder to get through that every day then going running again. And that's saying something, because I am very very lazy.

March 7, 2005

I don't think I

Me and the Terracotta Warriors
I don't think I could ever forget how excited I was to see the Terracotta Warriors. I looked forward to the trip for weeks, getting Bao Ying to help me get the train ticket (it was a hard seat, more than 24 hours, but I can't remember how long it took anymore), pushing the school for the promised time off (I finally pointed out to Lily that none of the promised "trips around China" had ever taken place, and they agreed to let me take a few extra days to go), and told all of my students about it. I even started singing a little song about it. Do you remember that song by Presidents of the United States of America, I think? The song about peaches? Yeah, that one. Except I did it as "Going to Xi'an, gonna see a lot of statues. Going to Xi'an, gonna see a lot of statues. Millions of statues, statues for me. Millions of statues, statues to see."
Yeah, I'm weird.
By the time I went, Paul had already gone back to New Zealand. He ended up really regretting not coming with me, and I think he would have had a good time.
Enough about that, though. The actual seeing of the statues... I was in awe. I've studied them in history classes, they came up in my Chinese History quite often, but to actually see them... It's a very awe inspiring sight. They're divided up into several different warehouses. each one extremely large. The one that we most see in pictures is the one where all the statues are lined up, still in their trenches. Frankly, no photo does it justice. Heck, the whole experience really doesn't do it justice. It's incredibly overcrowded (how could it not be?), but so... oh my. I can still close my eyes and see it, smell the dirt in the air, and remember what it was like to actually be so close to these parts of history. I don't think there are words to describe it.
In the last warehouse I went to, they had several of the more famous statues in individual glass cases, so you could get a lot closer to them. It was so strange, to see these proud looking Chinese warriors, all with their individual faces and poses, up close like that. I wandered around them, wishing I could touch and totally understanding why I couldn't. But I so wanted to. Can you imagine, touching that bit of history? So much skill and effort went into creating these statues, so they could be left under the group for centuries, with no one to appreciate them. And there's no way the people who built them didn't know they were going to be underground, and they put that much effort into them....
Anyway, that last warehouse had a place where you could get a picture of yourself with the statues. I had a "proffesional" one taken, which comes with this purty certificate that says I was there, and this one was taken by the photographer's assistant with my camera. They both turned out. I love how the blue in my shirt matches the blue on the horses.
I have to say that going to Xi'an was one of my favorite experiences in China, and the one I look back on the most fondly. I got to explore this amazing city, meet a lot of interesting people, and generally do whatever I wanted for several days at a time. It was an outstanding experience, and one I'd love to do again. I remember at one point thinking "But, then, if I come back with a friend, I'll be all blase about this stuff. You know, been there done that." But in retrospect, I don't think I could be that way about Xi'an. It's just such am amazing place, with so much to do. I'd love to live there, should I ever return to China.

In completely unrelated news, my cat is home.

I hadn't mentioned that Little Demon Spawn went missing, mostly in an effort to keep myself in denial. Basically, he was staying with my friend Margery while I was away in Halifax, and about 2 days before he was to come home, he disappeared. Since he's well known to be afraid of the sky, afraid of cars, and basically afraid of outside, neither Margery nor I thought he had gone out. Her house is about... oh... 4 times the size of my apartment, which is a lot of space for the little guy to disappear into, especially since he likes to hide.

Eventually, though, we had to accept the idea that he was out. She went looking for him, went door to door to the neighbours, called the vets, and was making posters and ads for the paper when she was told by a neighbour that they had caught sight of a black cat hiding under their deck, but he ran away. That was yesterday, and she didn't want to get my hopes up.

Well, this morning, all pitiful and probably quite hungry, he showed up at her place again. She called me in the wee hours this morning while I was at work, and I couldn't even begin to contain my happiness. My cat, my little devil in a cat suit, is home. She brought him back up to Edmonton this morning, and he is now curled up near my feet, not going anywhere. He's a bit thinner, and is meowing more than usual, but he's safe. He even bit me in that loving way he does. I'm so much happier.

I know I meant to write about something else today, but frankly, my cat's home, and it kinda drove all other thoughts out of my mind. It's my weekend (yay two days off!), so I'm going to catch up on my sleep.

March 6, 2005

Yay! I did the move


I did the move over to blogger, it's working, it's easy, and I'm content with the world.

All the posts from China are in the Archives section still.

Oh, the joy of push-button blogging!

March 5, 2005

So, yeah, getting really frustrated

So, yeah, getting really frustrated with Webcrimson, thinking of moving to blogger. Go me.

I figured there are two things I want to do with this thing right now. The first: put up all my photos of China, along with lovely little anecdotes about them, which is what I always wanted to do with a blog. The second, and less interesting to the rest of the world, is write about some of the adventures in my life here in Edmonton. I have a tendancy to forget that life is an adventure no matter where you are.

So, my current thought is that I'll post a pic and a write up at the beginning of an entry, then under it I'll write about my life. That way, those that are more interested in China can skip the kinda boring parts.

Now, my photos aren't organized worth a damn, so they're going to go up in random order, depending on what's scanned and what isn't. I'm going to try and put things in groups, but we'll see.

Special thanks to Tom and Mike for doing the scannings for me.

The old city walls of NanjingYou have no idea how much I wish I could find my guide book right now.

The young man in front of the big wall is Paul, who some of you may remember being my friend I met from New Zealand. This was during Spring Festival, and it took us forever to find a place to access the walls. Mostly because my guidebook was written by drunken mythical creatures with no sense of distance, and the maps were incredibly deceptive.

Anyway, the big point of this picture was to show the size of these walls. They were huge! Huger than huge! Really really huge!

I'm one of those history geeks, so I was just fascinated in the speculation on how they had built the wall. I have a pic some place showing how thick the walls were, too.

The walls now surround this beautiful park. You can walk through the park, which is right along a large body of water, following a path. It's very peaceful, or at least as peaceful as anything in China really gets. I mostly remember how you could look out on the water, and see this rather large island, which had been built over with some sort of amusement park. I have pics of that somewhere.

I will admit, I don't really understand the Chinese obsession with outdoor amusement parks. But then, the weather where I was living was much milder than the weather in Alberta. It just seemed as though they are trying to keep kids entertained, though. There was an amusement park of some sort almost everywhere we went, and I never felt safe around them. But then, some of you may recall my rants about the World's Scariest Amusement Park, which is in Jiangyan. I've got those pics someplace, too.

You can eventually climb up to the top of the walls. Now I can't remember if we went to the top of the walls or not, but I suspect not. By the time we found the area we wanted to go to, and walked along the path to an area you could get to the top of the wall, we were pretty exhausted. It had been a long day.

But the wall... oh my goodness! Each one of those bricks was made and placed by hand, and the signature of the person who built it, as well as the person who inspected it, had to be on the brick. You can see some of the inscriptions still. It's quite fascinating.

IOW: If you go to Nanjing, be sure to check out the city walls. The whole park-area is beautiful.

See Also:

closeup of bricks

The bricks, close up. See what I mean about the writing? {click to enlarge}

In unrelated, but current news, I'm sick, and suffering from insomnia again. At least I haven't started having audio hallucinations again. Yay me.

I do, however, have this rant:

Dealing with embassies and consulates and stuff can be so damned frustrating. For a friend of mine, I have been in contact over the past few days with several consulates in Canada, as well as the Canadian government about my tax information. Of all things, the Canada Revenue People were incredibly friendly and helpful, explaining all of my options, getting me all the information I needed, and sending me out several pieces of paper I need to file my income tax for 2003. (Yes, 2003. I procrastinate. Plus, I was in China.)

But the British Consulate? Oh My God.

First, you have to listen to this very long message where they explain to you that a) they really don't want to answer a lot of questions, because that's what their website is for, b) they won't answer any questions that are answered on their website, c) they won't answer any questions about your visa application over the phone, d) they won't take anyone coming into the office about anything unless they've book an online appointment and e) they really really don't want to talk to you. After that, if you still want to talk to them, you press 9.

Then they ask you again. "Are you certain you want to talk to a representative? Press 1 for yes, 2 for no."

At that point, I was on hold for less than 2 minutes before I got through to someone who very obviously did not want to talk to me. I would start my question with a bit of background information, and then she'd talk over me, answering something other than what I wanted. I mean, for crying out loud, wait until I'm done! I kept saying, "Yes, I understand that part, but what I need answered is...". *sigh*

Ultimately, she looked up the information I needed on a website other than theirs, directed me to that website as it has an FAQ that will answer any questions I might have, and that once I found the answer there I would need to cross reference it with their website to confirm everything.

And that was the end of that call.

Luckily the website she directed me to was very helpful, and did answer the majority of my questions. There are still some others that my friend needs answered, but there's a consulate's office in Vancouver, and I might just pop in there and ask some questions when I visit my parents this summer.

I contrast this to my conversation with the consulte for the Netherlands that's here in Edmonton. (I'm a little surprised there's a consulate for the Netherlands in Edmonton. I mean, I love this place to pieces and all, but why here?) I called them with some other questions, and the nice woman with the lovely Dutch accent on the other end answered all of my questions, made some suggestions I hadn't thought of, and encouraged me to call back again should I have any more questions.

I know the British people are probably inundated with calls that are simple Q&A answered on the site, and it must get frustrating to listen to that all day, but the whole thing was just... arg! ARG!

Anyway, does anyone know why so many of these offices are closed Wednesday afternoons?

March 4, 2005

Exciting Things I Did In Halifax Last Week, a list, by jo

Still playing. I've got some of the links fixed, but the archives themselves are a mess. Blah.

On to something positive!

Exciting Things I Did In Halifax Last Week, a list, by jo

  • I bought a lobster! On a stick! It's made of Pure Sugar and Food Colouring! It's very red, and I was quite hyped up upon eating it.
  • I got to ride a ferry that was part of their transit system. It was 2$, and I loved it.
  • Ate yummy East Indian Food at a tiny restaurant.
  • Got to see a lot of cool museums and stuff, which I loved, especially Pier 21.
  • Squished a jelly bean for Kristi. (Which reminds me... Kristi, I have a squished jelly bean for you in my luggage.)
  • Saw the Ocean, lots, and kept a lookout for mermaids. (I also saw lighthouses. I love lighthouses!)
  • Cooked a lot of food, which is always fun.
  • Walked up a lot of hills. Why is Halifax so steep?
  • Mocked young people in a club because... dude... they were so generic. It was really weird.

Things I Did Not Do in Halifax Last Week, a list, by jo

  • See Dalhousie University.
  • Squish a jelly fish for Kristi.
  • Eat sea food.

Eh, I don't like fish, but I wouldn't have minded trying a real lobster. *grin*

The whole experience was at once strange and wonderful. I'm intellectually aware of the regional differences in Canada, but other than a few brief stays in Ontario, I've always lived out west. So, spending a week and a half in this city that is so different and yet so the same... It was very eye opening.

Just a few random differences: In Halifax, they actually stop on green traffic lights to let people turn left. They don't do that here in Edmonton. I was just so taken aback. People on the street seemed friendlier, for some reason. I can't quite put my finger on why, since we didn't really do a lot of walking around where there were people. (I loved the city, don't get me wrong, but the weather was HORRID the entire time I was there. That last day, there was freezing rain, not-freezing rain, snow, and huge wind gusts, all at the same time. Awful.) But the customer service expectations there seem a lot lower. The hotel I stayed at was fine, but everywhere else... woah. The grocery store was the worst, but the restaurant and the book stores we went to were pretty bad, too. I was totally taken aback.

As for the bar scene... The place we went was so generic it hurt. I mean, they were playing good music (Great Big Sea and the like), but everyone was dressed almost identically. I guess I've gotten used to Edmonton, where you can regularily see people downtown wearing leashes and collars and the like. I was wearing all black, with a bit of a gothic turn to my makeup, and I stood out like a sore thumb. It was strange, because Halifax is a college town. There's a huge number of students there. I guess I thought that the diveristy of the students would wear off onto the bars, but not where we went. Oh well, I'll know for next time.

But the ocean was beautiful. I could have spent hours staring at it. I was really drawn to it.

Halifax is a city that is so rich with history. It felt like every other house we passed must have had a story attached to it. I kept an eye out for a book about Historical Buildings and the like, but couldn't find one. I was so in love with the whole city, though, and wish I could have stayed longer, or explored more. There were so many things to see, so many places to look, and time and the weather just seemed to be against me.

I must return there one day, and spend the time to find that book, or find the information on the houses that captured my interest.

There. New life goal hatched.

Fascinating. I do actually still

Fascinating. I do actually still know how to blog. *grin*
Well, let's see. I changed the layout to something less yellow, and now I'm trying to remember a bunch of things, like how to actually do this funky blogging thing. Is there where I type my thoughts? *laugh*

Okay, I'm being silly, but I'm content while doing it. Which is good, because I just spent the past... gah, 3 1/2 hours fighting with Webcrimson, which is my blogging software of choice. I'm *really* beginning to regret that choice. It's not supported anymore, so I can't get any assistance with what's going on. So, I'm doing this and probably the next few posts manually while I try to re-configure it again. I may just give up on the whole thing and just do the blog manually from now on, but I like the way Webcrimson hands archives. I suppose I *could* go to blogger, like everyone else, but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with that idea, either.

But my point, and I do have one, is Hi! I'm Anna, and I am not dead. Nor am I overseas anymore, unless you're not in North America. I miss travelling. I miss China a lot. I miss being stared at when I walking down the street. It's strange, since that drove me nuts, but it was so... China, you know?

I do find it interesting that most of my return to Canada has led to me becoming more of a hermit again. *sigh* I don't go out much right now. Part of that is influenced by the fact that I'm back to working graveyards, but part of it too is that I'm just bored. What's there to do out there anymore? I mean, I love Canada, I love Edmonton, I love my friends... but everything here is so damned normal...

Let's see where this goes, shall we?

About March 2005

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in March 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2005 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.