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December 2006 Archives

December 31, 2006

Destinations, or my 2007 is better than yours...

There are a lot of adventures ahead of me right now, and I have to admit - I'm a little scared.

It's not *just* that I'm going to move to Australia (Perth, did I tell you? Picked entirely by asking a bunch of people and then completely ignoring their advice), but there are so many other things happening in 2007 that I'm looking at the year as a whole and wondering if I'm going to pull it off. There's a lot going on.

Let's see... I'm hitting Singapore for four days in January {During which I'm going to start at one end of Chinatown, then eat my way to the other end of Chinatown. God, I miss *real* Chinese food), then hopping and skipping to Perth. I haven't quite sorted out what I'll do when I'm there, but I'm pretty sure there'll be lots of exploring of Western Australia to do. It's a big place - there'll be lots. I have to find kangaroos.

In late June I have a ticket to London, where I'll change planes and head off to exciting Halifax - the one in Canada, not the one in the UK. From there, I'm going back to Edmonton again, because Mark is having his 30th birthday party on 07/07/07, and I'm not missing it for the world. I'm going to be in various parts of Canada for something approaching two weeks, then I'm heading back to London to change planes for a week in Spain. My plans involve Sangria and beaches, and probably a bunch of exciting things in ruins. I can't wait - sincerely, I've been planning this trip off and on for the better part of a year now, since I got Don the "100 Places To See Before You Die" book and there was a castle.

There's always a castle, isn't there?

After a week in Spain, it's off to much-less-sunny (I hope! I burn!) Poland for a week of exploring. I have no idea what I'm going to do in Poland, not even as firm an idea as I have for Spain, but I have a guidebook, and friends who have been there. And blogs I can read about it. I'll muddle through and find out what I want to do.

And then I go back to Aus, but this time it's the other side of the country - I'm heading to Brisbane for the second half of my year, and I have GREAT BARRIER REEF highlighted and circled and starred in my guidebook. I get giddy just thinking about it, about seeing the surf and the sand and the bright colours. I have this image of Aus in my head that is probably nothing like reality (since I moved to Scotland for the boys in kilts, and they are sadly few and far between - lots of sheep, though), but I'm picturing part of it as a rugged country where men are men and women sigh a lot, and dust gets into everything, and other parts of it in bright colours and splashes of animals and bird songs I don't recognize and sheep! sheep! (or is that new zealand?) and looking up at the stars and wondering why they're so strange.

Yeah... Aus is going to be the big adventure, isn't it? I really hope there are sheep.

But in September I'm hooking up with Tom in new zealand for a bit, and that will be strange - the first person from my "old" life that I'll see in someplace different. There, I know there will be sheep. And mountains. And kiwi birds. It'll be great!

And after that it's exploring Brisbane and the eastern parts of Australia and counting down until another country (one I'll probably love just as much as I love the UK) disappears behind another plane.

I have so many destinations. I'm afraid of what I'll find. I break my heart over every country I leave.

Stupid countries, being so exciting.

{Sunday Scribblings}

December 23, 2006

Peeling Apples

It's the night before the night before Christmas, and I'm making everything ready for many of my friends to come over and have a big Christmas Dinner tommorow night. Like at Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of my family while peeling apples. For some reason, there's something about a certain type of apple that always makes me think about my brother.

I don't know why - I don't have any apple-related memories of Ken. I can't think of apple-fights or apple-picking. Maybe it's because the image I have of him in my head, even now, is of him as a kid, his face all freckled from hours in the sun, and there are certain apples that just look like they're green underneath, with too many freckles to count.

It makes me sad, though, because my brother and I aren't really close. It's a combination of factors that I usually blame on my being bratty and 12 when he moved out to univeristy, and I think those last years, when I was a horrible pre-teen with a big chip of my shoulder and he was older and had his own stuff going on have really affected our relationship ever since. I don't know that we have anything in common, really, other than a shared last name and memories of my mom's sugar cookies. We both still freckle, and we've both travelled a lot, but for different reasons. My brother is a musician - his band, I Tromboni has an album out (I dated a boy for a while who almost crashed the car we were in when I mentioned my brother was in I Tromboni. "Your brother's in I Tromboni?" "Yes, keep your eyes on the road, damn it!") and he travels with them and other groups he's involved with. I don't have a lot of the details, much to my embarrassment. I know he's been to Europe. (I, of course, travel because otherwise I'd get bored.)

So I've been standing in the kitchen, cutting up apples for pie, and wishing I did know my brother better. I wish he had a blog, for example, where I could read about him and see what he's interested in and the way our lives intersect, where that shared memory of my being 12 and stubborn wouldn't get in the way. I could just get to know him, like I have so many other people through the net.

I have people I only know through the net coming over for dinner tomorrow night - one of them I'll meet for the first time when she comes up stairs. You find those shared intersection points online. I'm certain that Ken and I have something more in common than knowing where Collington is and that Gimli is a town, not a dwarf.

People ask me all the time how I can live overseas and not miss my family. Honestly, most of the time I don't think about it. I haven't lived at home since I was 18, and my visits there have been few and far between. Mom and Dad have lived in at least one house I never saw. I don't think about it much at all. But when I do, it really strikes me that I've probably missed out on a lot. Mom told me she's not doing much with Christmas this year, and it makes me feel a bit sad. I like picturing Mom and Dad and Ken and his beloved passing around the mashed potatoes and gravy and talking about the cats and politics and what things are happening. I like imagining that sort of scene, of getting to know Ken that way, as an adult who has done these great things that I want to hear about. Maybe I'd ask him if he still gets lots of freckles in the summer, like I do, and if he remembers me when he peels apples.

Maybe next year.

December 13, 2006

Link for Canadian Content

サ Why CanCon Does Not Really Blow Goats (at least when it comes to music) (part one)

I recommend the link if you're Canadian, if you like music, if you're Mark (hi Mark!) or if you just think that Gayleen Froese deserves to be read (and you borrowed my copy of her novel and haven't returned it, Melle).

Sincerely, check her out - she writes good stuff.

December 12, 2006

Watch Anna Run. Run, Anna, Run.

I... uh... got my plane tickets today.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

I'm very panicked.

December 11, 2006

Keepsakes

Hail the Conquoring Hero!I hate to disappoint anyone, but I have to tell you the truth:

Rome was full of a lot of cheap tacky crap. It was very strange.

Luckily, everyone who asked for something to be brought back asked for cheap tacky crap, so that was okay, but it was a bit surreal. I'm used to drooling over things of various levels of affordability and bringing back at least one really nice thing that one can show off to people and say in that oh-so-casual-I'm-really-worldly-but-hide-it way "Oh, yes, I picked that up at this little shop outside the Coliseum. It was a sunny day, I'll never forget how warm it was, and I'd just popped in there to see if they had any air conditioning, and I found that..." I'd put it on the nick nack shelf, next to my goat from China and dragon from Wales and the lovely clock my mom carved me.

I.. uh... brought back a bright pink glittery Coliseum made out of plaster. It turned blue once it left Rome. I have no idea why.

I alternately loved and hated the seemingly deliberate tackiness of all of the stuff you could find near the tourist-places. I wonder if it would be any easier during the summer, when tourist season is at its height and the place is packed with people who just want to be cheated on something nice.

Ah well. I have memories, I have photos of Don dressed up like a crusader, and I have this lovely blue sparkly Coliseum. What else could a girl ask for?

December 10, 2006

I should check my email more often...

PERMISSION REQUEST ID: XXXXXXX
Transaction Reference Number: XXXXXX
Passport Number: XXXXX
Family Name: PEARCE
Given Name: JOANNA LYNNE
Date of Birth: 20/07/1976

Dear JOANNA LYNNE PEARCE

RE: Application for Subclass 417 - Working Holiday (Temporary) (Class TZ) visa


This is to advise that you have been granted an Electronic Working Holiday Visa, Subclass 417, on 06 December 2006.

This letter contains important information about this visa.

VISA GRANT NUMBER
The visa grant number is XXXXXX. This is the unique number assigned to the visa. You should keep this visa grant number with you, as you may have to provide it to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) during the life of the visa.

VISA INFORMATION
This visa allows you to make your initial entry into Australia no later than 12 months from the date that the visa was granted. Your initial entry into Australia must not be after 06 December 2007

Once in Australia, this visa permits you to stay in Australia for 12 months from the date that you first enter Australia. It provides you with multiple travel to Australia, which means that you can leave Australia and re-enter Australia as many times as you wish during your 12 month stay. However, if you depart Australia during your 12 month stay, you are not able to recover the period of time you have spent outside Australia.

You will not have a visa label placed in your passport when travelling to Australia as your visa is recorded electronically in Australia's visa systems. It is recommended that you print and keep a copy of this advice for your personal records.

December 9, 2006

Flavour Text

Rome destroyed Italian food for me.

Never again will I be able to enjoy a "good" Italian meal, having had food that actually burst into flavours in my mouth. Never again will I be satisfied with some pitiful, anemic version of tomato sauce. Never again will ice cream make me happy, when Gelato from Italy has melted on my tongue.

The food, oh the glorious wonderous food that is Rome. Every day seemed to bring a new amazing food experience for me. From the first full day we were there and I found the Platonic Ideal of Latte (it was amazing! It only needed a bit of sugar because it was perfect. It... it... it made me want to sit in this little back-end restaurant down by the Trevi Fountain all night, discussing world-changing and whether Joss Whedon's comic book version of a Season 8 of Buffy would be considered canon and how to finance a month of living in Rome) to the last day where Pizza is sold by weight and tastes entirely different than the stuff I grew up with, the food was always the best part of everything. So flavourful, so good, so... inviting. Finding food every day was always an adventure, but never one to disappoint.

For Your Enjoyment... At one point I sat on a bench with Don, just up the street from the Vatican, both of us completely silent as we ate Gelato. Mine was banana and his was tiaramasu. Neither of us spoke, just enjoyed, as the scenes of Rome played out in front of us - beggars and people selling cheap trumperies and tour groups and large groups of nuns walking past. How do you speak, really, when you've just realised that you're going to never again taste such perfection?

Food in Rome seems to be something entirely different than what I've experienced elsewhere. In China, eating out is a huge social event, usually with lots of people, lots of dishes, way too much alcohol and laughter. In the UK, it's usually a much more somber occasion, and although it may be a comment on the type of places I go to, I rarely see families out eating, or groups of large than three. But in Rome, it just seems that eating, drinking, enjoying it all is practically a religion. Restaurants open for lunch, then close again till as late at 7 or 7:30 when they slowly start to fill up with people. Groups vary from couples who are being googly eyed and feed each other pasta slowly and lovingly to large parties that slam back lemonchelo at the end of the meal before going on someplace else. Plates after plates after plates of food are the norm here, and I wished we'd had more time (and money!) to spend an entire evening eating good food, drinking good wine, discussing the world and everything in it over good coffee.

But oh, lemonchelo. I first had it in this little place we found in the Jewish Ghetto. We had been given a *very* bad tip on a place just further up the streeet and had left in a hurry and just started wandering. The place we found eagerly escourted us to their "back room" - a little courtyard that would be open to the sky in summer but was closed over with a canopy because it was "cold". They had a little heater set up in the back, and the place was lit with candles. A mostly-gone statue of a warrior with his horse made up part of the back wall. We sat there for hours eating such good food (I had some sort of seafood pasta dish that just made my whole mouth happy), and in the end the waiter brought us two iced shot glasses of lemonchelo. I had no idea what it was, so I took a cautious sip.

Oh, my.... It's this amazing lemon liquer that just... rolls off your tongue and into your tummy, making the whole of you feel warm and good and happy. I recommend you serve it chilled in iced shot glasses, because it was so good that way. They gave it to us for free, and it was lovely....

I had it quite a few times after that, and even brought a bottle home.

Rome is... full of flavour and excitement. We walked back to the Met.Ro that night along the river, under the trees, past the Circus Maximus and talked about the distant past and how everything fades away.

December 8, 2006

The Streets Where Cleopatra Walked

I wonder if Italians ever come to the UK and think "Oh, they're so cute with thier 'history'. They think they have old buildings. Heh. Well, let's indulge them and look at their little divit in the ground out in Wales that they call a coliseum, shall we?" I know that how far back we can trace things really has little to do with physical remains of buildings, but it's something tangible, easier to point to, and it has that immediate effect. Within Rome, there's a vast difference between looking at a divit in the ground and saying "Yes, that was the Circus Maximus" and walking into the Pantheon and staring up at the dome.

Pantheon at night We came upon the Pantheon almost entirely by accident. We were looking for it - but it wasn't where we thought it would be, and I had forgotten what to expect. It's been so long since I studied the architecture of the period that the dome had slipped my mind. It won't ever again. We came upon it in the evening, when the place was cooler (it was so hot when we were there), and sat at the fountian and just... stared. As one does, I suppose.

It's like walking in a dream, a lot of Rome, and nothing really seems like you expect it to. The heat, the sky, the press of people, the way the Met.Ro gets so crowded in the mornings always seems so mundane. I know, it's a city where people live, but it just added to the feeling of disconnection - how could any of this be real?

In front of the Pantheon is a court yard, or piazza, with a fountain in it. Everywhere in Rome has a foutain in it. At night, at least, the little restaurants that line the piazza are filled with patrons. I didn't eat there - I had found the best restaurant in all of Rome when trying to find my way. There's a McDonald's directly across the piazza from the font entry which added to the strangeness of the scene.

I don't know what to say here. I've been reading the wrong type of books to write about Rome, I think - novels that try to be pretentious, and it's affected how I'm writing right now. I don't want to make Rome sound pretentious or holy, even though that's so much a part of it. Romans, Italians, seem to just shrug their shoulders about the history, much like I can't find anyone to get excited about Edinburgh Castle unless they're an ex-pat. It's just a place, just a church, just 2000 years old with a dome that dwarfs so many things. How to you explain that, the casual disregard combined with a feeling of "This is our legacy, this is ours, no one can take it away"?

I need to arrange to not ever again read Kay's "Sarantine Mosaic" right before travelling to Rome.

December 3, 2006

Words

A Day At The Forum So, when you write about going to Rome, where do you start?

I've been asked this dozens of times so far: "How was Rome?" And I still haven't come up with an acceptable reply. It's so hard to talk about, because the experience was so... much. So many things, good and bad. I remember telling Don that at one point I felt that I *had* to have an amazing time, because I had to come back and write about it to all my jealous friends.

But I did have an amazing time. Rome is so... different than anything I've experienced, even than Paris. It was being in this city so huge you know they don't care about you, with such ancient history that your country isn't even a blip in comparison to, and just wanting to wander around and gape at everything. It is finding these beautiful fountains and small little restaurants that are so... common to the people there that they don't get a mention on the map. It's a city where even the "bad" food is good, and where they complain that winter is here because it's only +8.

I loved it. I loved every second. I loved staring up at the sky through the window of my hostel and trying to decide what shade of blue it was. I loved seeing people on the street in the evening wearing scarves and hats and shivering while I was wearing my tank top and bemoaing forgetting to leave my coat behind. It didn't rain once.

I don't know where to start, sincerely. I don't know how to write about it.

I want to go back. I want to spend a month walking through the small little courtyards that make up Trastevere, I want to find more restaurants that make food that actually has bursts of good flavour that overwhelm your mouth, served in back court yards lit only with candles, I want to get lost and orientate myself by the dome at St Peter's.

For now, I have only pictures and words and memories, because I bought so little while I was there. There didn't seem to be anything I could take away that would be as meaningful as gazing at Christan frescoes from a 6th Century church, build on the ruins of a Mithral temple, that has in turn be built over by another Christian church.

I bought a little St Christopher's medallion, though. That might be enough, all things considered.

About December 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Anna Overseas in December 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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