Edmonton Archives

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.

November 14, 2006

Snakes... why is it always snakes?

I'm back from Canada and despite many murderous attempts by the weather, I'm in one piece. My computer, however, is not - it's missing the n key. *sigh* (It's also missing the right-hand shift key, but that doesn't count because I don't use it.)

It's nice being greated with squeals of joy and words like "Don't leave again! Don't go to Australia!" whenever I go away, but I wish that they wouldn't follow up with "Australia has snakes!" Everyone tells me Aus has snakes. I feel like responding with "Hey, I didn't play D&D all those years without learning a little something about managing fear", but the reference would be lost on too many people.

But c'mon! no one mentions the scary spiders, or the roving bands of sting rays, or anything about the socio-political structure there and how it may drive me nuts. It's always the snakes.

Makes me want to watch Snakes on a Plane again except with my eyes open this time.

Speaking of which, Snakes on a Plane references seem to either make flight attendants giggle or go right over their heads.

It was a very long flight home. Hell, it was a very long trip, mostly because I seemed to spend every waking moment doing something, which is fairly par for the course when one goes home for a visit, especially if one manages to not do this very often. I still didn't manage to fit in seeing everyone I was supposed to, let alone the people I wanted to see but never got a chance to.

I took not nearly enough photos, and didn't get a single one of Edmonton at night. *sigh*

I'm glad to be home.

But I think actual snakes on the plane may have made the trip across the water a bit more interesting....

July 29, 2006


Let me tell you a story. One with photos and everything. It will be fun! Let's call this story "The Little Airplane that Could".

Little background to the story: As I've mentioned previously, I hate to fly. But, my parents love me, and decided it would be best if I took a plane from Nanaimo to Vancouver's International Airport, before boarding a flight to Kelowna. Because my parents love me and want to spoil me, and know that long bus rides are many things, but mostly tedious and boring. They love me! Love! Love lots! Thus they put me on a plane! Yeah! *shudder*

Push, Pull, Drag See this plane? Isn't it small? See the man dragging the plane all by himself?

That plane is bigger than the plane I flew across to Vancouver. It's a 15 minute flight, depending on the wind. Sometimes it's longer, and sometimes it's shorter. Because of wind. Because when you're in a nice little airplane, one that could fall out of the sky with ease, the wind makes a *big* different.

Did I mention that I hate to fly?

Before Boarding This is the plane I actually got on. See the plane? See the pilot? Wow, what a small little plane. And it was just me, and the pilot, and my 18 kilograms of luggage. And my purse.

He was a very nice pilot. The safety instructions were very short and to the point. He explained how to open the doors in a crash, and that there was a lifejacket right underneath me. Isn't that great? Yay, lifejacket! Which is good, because did I mention the plane was small and could crash?

Tiny Little Feet These are my tiny little feet in the tiny little plane. Guess what? I got to sit where the co-pilot would! There were levers and buttons and things to push, and a phone! Isn't that great? I could totally have made a wrong move and we would have plummeted into the ocean, or flown to Seattle or something! Isn't that great? Yay for tiny little planes with tiny little people on them!

(I do have tiny little feet - dear god, no wonder I'm clumsy.)

Then the tiny little plane took off. It doesn't need a lot of water to do that - we didn't even get as far as the ferry, and the ferry is pretty close to where the planes take off. They do several trips a day between the island (where my parents live) and Vancouver. I'm impressed, really, that that many people do the trip by plane instead of by ferry. But the ferry is damned expensive, and the plane will take you straight to the airport. So I can see it, I guess, but still. It's *tiny*. And scary.

There were room for two other people in the plane, but there wasn't anyone but me and the pilot.

So, we take this short run up to the sky, and I'm holding onto myself for dear life, convinced that if I grab the wrong thing, the plane will crash. But the take-off was remarkably smooth, and there was none of that sudden vertigo I tend to get during them. Just this woosh as we went up into the air. I grabbed on to the bottom of my seat, and then looked out....

The Air Up There

The view was amazing.

I got up there and thought for a bit: Wow... this is so much nicer than flying commercial planes. You can see out the window, and see all these amazing things. It's loud, but it's not nearly as bad as it could be. I know, I'll get my pilot's license when I can, and then save up and buy a little plane like this, and fly around the world. I'll just land whenever I want, and see all sorts of nifty places. Free as a bird!

Then we landed.

I don't land well.

The plane did not crash, and all was safe, and I even made my flight to Kelowna with 15 minutes to spare before boarding closed, but I was a wreck. Flying = bad! Landing = bad! No more little planes! None none none! Not even with great views of the area! None!

And that's the story of the Little Airplane that Could.

There are some photos of the view... these are the ones that aren't blurry because I was shaking too hard.

(Note: No snakes were harmed in the writing of this entry, as they were not allowed on the plane.)

July 22, 2006

Random Amusing Incidents from my trip to Canada

(With very odd values of "amusing")

This is totally my own fault.

I emailed my mom the details for when I'd be getting in to Vancouver, or so I thought. I hadn't looked at the email from the airline, though, and didn't realise that the only information on it was when I was *leaving*. My poor mother ended up in the airport for several hours waiting for me, and when I arrived (after 11), it was too late to get the last ferry back to the Island. There I am, praying for nothing more than a shower and clean clothes, and my 61-year-old mother says "Oh, yeah, we'll be sleeping in the car in the lineup for the ferry!"

We weren't the only ones - we could have had a party, had I been awake enough to enjoy it.

* * *

I bugged Tom for days before the wedding that if he flubbed up his wedding vows, it would mean the marriage would be cursed. (Damn am I lucky that Tom loves me.) This may be because every other wedding I go to, someone mixes up the vows. And because I am mean.

So, the wedding is happening, and yes, someone did flub up the vows - the Justice of the Peace.

* * *

I wore a corset to the wedding (it's like armor, in a way), and had help getting laced into it.

I failed to remember until I got back to the hostel that I didn't have anyone to help me get out of it.

Asking random French-Canadian boys to unlace you is an excerise in ... fun! Yes, fun!

* * *

Trying to be helpful, I bought the groom and best man a drink before we left for the wedding. Two bottles of coke. I carried them both together, handed them both to them at the same time.

Tom's burst open, spraying coke everywhere. Clay's was fine.

I think it may have been nerves.

* * *

The bride was so beautiful that when the groom stood up to do his toast, he looked at her and forgot all the words.

Never Go Home Again

I've been really busy this week, because all the really cool people were apparently born in July. It's been a great week, although incredibly hot, and coming right on the heels of the trip to Canada, I've been too tired to think straight. But content. Very content. I've got people coming over tonight to formally celebrate the death of my youth, with friends from Canada having contributed recordings to be played as people eulogise me. It may not been a surprise trip to Bali, but it'll do. *smile*

My trip to Canada (just BC - some people thought I'd breezed through Alberta and not called them. I felt so bad!) has left me in a bit of a state. It was little things that kept calling to me - like sitting in the hotel lobbey and having country music playing in the background. I love country music, and I listen to it a lot at home, but there's something nice about just catching a familiar song out of all the noise. I don't get that much here.

I had drinks I grew up around (my mom bought a whole bottle of Rye for me on the last night I was with her, and then we each only had one glass. (I bought myself a little bottle to take home, and someone drank a bunch of it at the wedding. And it wasn't the groom. Or the bride.), and lots and lots of steak. Everything in Canada smells different than it does here. And in Canada, right now, I'm the distant traveller, whereas in the UK I'm considered poorly travelled, having only been to France and China. It was nice.

A lot of things were nice.

But it really was a frustrating trip, with this constant sense of waiting to get back to Edinburgh. I was so impatient in the Gatwick Airport that I started singing songs (Canadians ones, naturally) to pass the time, bouncing on my heels as though sheer force of will could make the plane land faster so I could get on it. Finally getting to the city, and I felt this rush of relief. I was home.

I know it sounds silly, since I keep coming back to this point, but I was actually afraid I'd get back to Canada, have some Timbits, and never want to leave again. I love my friends, and I miss them a lot. But really.... they should just come here more.

January 13, 2006

A Comment on Canadian Politics

Dear Alberta,

Stop frickin' embarrassing me.

Hugs and Kisses,

October 7, 2005

More About Mark

So, as I said before, my friend Scarecrow is up for a job at Sonic. Now he's got a chance at the Wildcard Slot, but only if he has votes for it. Voting doesn't actually take place until October 14.

So, check out Mark's Vote For Mark website.

Here's something else you can do if you're in Edmonton (from Mark):
Right now, I'm also seriously considering having a "Vote for Mark" rally in the Sonic parking lot, on Saturday the 15th, right in the middle of voting. Of course, I won't do that unless I can get about 20 people out to know, make a good showing for the TV cameras. So, if you think you can grab a couple of friends and meet me in the Sonic parking lot next Saturday...that'll be a go.

If you're interested, please let him know, through his blog or emailing him at

Vote Mark! Yay Mark!

September 30, 2005

PSA: Vote for Mark!

My very dear friend, Mark Cappis, is up for a job at Sonic 102.9!

Mark, aka The Scarecrow, was voted Primitive Radio God at Augustana, which is where we met. While there, he hosted Chaos in a Box, his excellent weekly radio show, and found in himself a passion for all things radio related. After spending a year in Japan teaching English, he came back to Edmonton, went to NAIT for a year, and got his Radio Personality Something or other. (Because, although I adore him, I can't for the life of me remember what his degree is in. Because I *suck*.)

And now, he's up for a covetted newscaster job at Sonic!

Why am I telling you this? Because, according to their website, they are letting listeners pick a Wildcard Spot for one of their finalists in the news divison. And I want YOU to listen to Mark, encourage him, and vote for him when the time arises! (And, if you can, pimp it on your own blog/website, because votes can come in from anywhere, and you can listen to it all online, and because frankly, Scarecrow rocks and you should be reading his stuff anyway.)

Mark talks about the radio spots he recorded for this here, and you can listen to his "spot", although it's a slow load on my computer. (It's an mp3 file.)

I'm sure Mark will blog about the whole experience. (Yes, Mark, that's a hint.) His day on the radio (if you're in Edmonton) is the morning of Wednesday, October 5. Listen to him, tell him he's wonderful, and when the chance comes up (which is later in the month): Vote Scarecrow!

July 28, 2005

Blue Revolutionist

Attention Friends of Don M.

Although normally a very clever man, Don is less than able when it comes to the intarweb.

I pointed out to him several weeks ago that his email account still had a reply to: field that lead to an email address that he cancelled at the beginning of June. He meant to fix this, and apparently failed.

If anyone out there has replied to an email of Don's without changing the email address in the reply to: field, he hasn't gotten it. He's not just ignoring you, he probably thinks you're ignoring him. (Okay, not anymore, because I just reminded him *again* that he hasn't changed it, and this time he swears he has. Really.)

IOW: Don is not being a jerk, he's just having troubles with his email.

(Raven, could I trouble you to post something similar on your blog? You know more of Don's friends than I do, and I'd feel bad if they thought he didn't care.)

June 13, 2005


I have had a really good couple of weeks. I've been out for beer and lengthy conversation with Barry, had a yummy lunch with Kristi, got my nails done with Mel, had dinner at Joe's place with Crash, Linette, Kristi and Linda, had dinner with Raven (where we talked... and talked... and talked... *grin*), went out to see the Leg grounds with Scarecrow, played DDR (twice!) with Kris, and had a bunch of fun people over yesterday for bread and movies. Not that we watched any of the movies, but the intent was there. *grin*

In a few short hours, me and Rip will be winging our way to Vancouver. I'll spend a couple of days with my parents, a few days with Jenn, and a couple of days with Tom. Then, next Sunday, I'll be on the plane to Scotland. I managed to get my luggage to about 1 kilo over the weight limit, and I think I'll just cope with the 7$ charge. As the Worst Packrat Ever (please understand, I had been carrying some of this junk around since early high school), I'm very proud of getting everything I'm bringing down to just over 20 kgs.

I'm kinda anxious about this, but at hte same time... damn, I'm so excited! I'm gonna live in Scotland! *squee*

I probably won't post while I'm in Vancouver.

I guess I don't need to be getting the weather report for Edmonton anymore, eh?

Take care, everyone, I'll let you know when I hit Glasgow!

June 11, 2005

Things That Are Now Worrying Worry Me

Things That Are Now Worrying Me, a list, by jo
  1. I don't know British Slang! Every time someone says something about snogging, I'm going to be all confused!
  2. For that matter, all sorts of British words confuse me. Lifts? Trainers? What?
  3. I'm going to walk on the wrong side of the road, and get hit by a ... lorry? I don't know, something.
  4. I don't know what the little currency thingies are called, other than pounds. What's a pence?
  5. What if they really do wear oatmeal on their heads?

June 9, 2005

Random Day

Hmm... unsecured wirelss connections are my new best friend.

Today is Random Day.

Number of times I've walked with a male friend down Whyte Ave this week: 4
Number of times we've been stopped by a panhandler and told what a beautiful couple we make: 3
Number of these men I've been dating: 0

British money is funny looking. The smaller denomonations (did I spell that right?) are smaller bills, too. Holly thinks they look like play money.

I got my nails done on Tuesday with my friend Mel, and now I can't type properly. But they sure do look purty.

I managed to schedule myself to be in three different places today. I suck.

If I were just moving across country, or even across town, I would be doing great. I think I have less than a small u-haul worth of stuff left to deal with. Unfortunately, I am moving across the planet, and I can only bring something like 25kgs with me. This is causing my no end of problems, but on the other hand, I have a lot less stuff. And I will admit, I'm a lot happier because of it.

But... even after getting rid of something close to a ton of books (boxes and boxes and boxes of them have already gone, and I have four or five still kicking around), I still have a whole packed bookshelf to decide what I'm taking, and what is being given away. *sigh*

Still alive, still kicking, and looking forward to my weekend.

June 6, 2005

Hectic Thoughts

It's strange. The big things aren't bugging me at all. Kris not getting all of his stuff out after I rushed home to take apart his bed and get all his things together? Eh, life is full of miscommunications. The fact that I'm being penalized for giving my notice to move on the 2nd instead of the 1st? My fault, should have been more on the ball. That my taxes haven't been sorted out yet? Ah well, they'll come through, and when they do, I'll have more money. Yay!

But the little things? God, they make me want to scream and bang someone else's head against a wall. Repeatedly.

Mostly, it's the bus. I'm convinced, totally, that the buses will be nice and pleasant in Scotland, or I'll know the reason why! I have gotten to the point where I can't stop grinding my teeth every minute I'm on the bus. It's hugely annoying and very childish and I really want to stop. Nothing is that big a deal, the people on the bus are not out to get me personally, damn it, but it feels like that. Like everyone I deal with should just know I haven't been sleeping or eating much lately, and should treat me like I'm a fragile and delicate flower ALL THE FUCKING TIME.

Yeah, I know. I'm six. Or four. Or something. Gah.

I wish I could get upset about the big things, but I seem to be taking them in stride.

Of course, it's kinda interesting how things are falling out. See, I really really wanted a laptop. I fell in love with Don's little portable Mac thingy. I want to be able to play Dungeon Keeper on the plane ride, or find wireless connections in random places. And, you know, I just wanted a computer so that I could have a computer. I'm not sure I could live a computerless life. But, the laptop I coveted was very expensive, and Don pointed out that I might be able to afford it, depending on the cost of the plane ticket. So, in a rush to prove that I can, at the age of... 28? 27? However old I am... I could buy a plane ticket all by myself, I walked into the nearest travel agent and asked for their best prices from Vancouver to Glasgow.

And found a flight for the time period I want for 150$. Canadian.

Hell, it's costing me 109$ plus tax to get to freaking Vancouver!

So, the Finalized (for real) this time plan is that I fly to Vancouver Monday afternoon, then fly out of Vancouver Sunday night. Really really late Sunday night. I'll arrive in Glasgow Monday evening, have booked a hostel for the night, and have a first class train ticket to Edinburg already paid for. The whole trip, Edmonton-Vancouver-Glasgow-Edinburg is only 450$, which is less than I exected to pay for the trip just to Glasgow. Oh, and that includes the cost of traveller's insurance for the first month of my stay.

Both Don and Margery have decided that this means the trip is meant to be, and that I should stop fretting so much about it. Obviously some power or another has decided I need to go live in Scotland. Very very soon.

So, it's shaping up to be a hectic week (although both people I was supposed to hang out with today had to cancel on me. Ah well, I'll see them tomorrow instead.). A few days ago I saw one friend who really drove it home for me that this is it. It's possible that everyone I say goodbye to this week, I may never see again. I know that sounds melodramatic, and it's true that I have full intententions of coming back for visits (and weddings, god, why is everyone I know getting married?), but who knows what will happen? Will people be gone? Will I just never really get the chance? Talking to my friend, it all felt so final, and it's finally coming to me that this is the Big Choice Thing that people make. This is looking at my life, realizing I'm very unhappy, and refusing to continue to live this way.

All joking aside, I don't think living in Scotland is going to be all roses and kitkats. But it's going to be a chance for me to make difference choices, to stop living in a rut where I'm not satisfied with anything, not work, not my social life, not my home. Maybe I'll hate Edinburg, but it'll be a new place to hate, if that makes any sense.

(Not that I hate Edmonton, I find it a beautiful place, but god, I'm so bored.)

I don't know, I have more I want to say about this, but I can't really gather my thoughts into coherency, and I really really just want to write about how my new laptop is the best thing ever, especially once I turned the modem on. I can't keep focused on much right now, so I guess I'll just end this with the comment that I'm very excited and happy and scared and anxious and worried and counting the minutes until I touch down on Scotish soil and can start claiming that all Canadians wear lobsters on their heads and just... this is going to be such a great experience, I already know it. Even if I hate every minute of it and it rains the whole time and I end up working at McHaggis or something, this is going to be a great choice, and I can't wait.

But I'll probably never stop missing Edmonton and that sense that this might, maybe, have been home, if things had turned out a bit differently. Not sure if I'll ever find another place with the sort of people I found here.

Don't look back.

June 3, 2005

Telegrams from the Edge

Bought plane ticket today. (stop)

Still in shock. (stop)

Leaving June 13th. (stop)

Oh my, this means I only have 10 days to do everything I want to do, and see everyone I want to see.

Okay. So, who wants to go shopping with me? I need to buy pants. A laptop. But mostly pants.

June 2, 2005


In a desperate attempt to settle my stomach, this blog post will not in any way refer to the fact that I am going overseas and have to get rid of all of my worldly possession in the next few hours. Not at all. Even a bit. In any way.

Instead, I'll just respond to a bunch of comments that I've been too lazy to actually email people in response to. I kinda suck that way.

In no particular order:

Laura: If you promise that you'll get Tall Man dressed up as nice as he was at that one Untitled game, with the top hat and everything, I would fly back from Scotland to see it.

Star: The only mandarin I remember may be less than helpful. Does Aria need to know how to say "I'm not American, I'm Canadian!" and "I have no money"? Cuz I can do that. I can also teach her how to sing "Brother John" in Mandarin. It's a song about tigers, though. One has no ears and one has no tail. It's very strange.

Wally: I really don't have ten minutes to rub together... but I could find it if the right man asked... *wink*

Raven: Oh, I don't think you'd want to be my wife anyway. There are so many shineys in my house you'd forget to crack the whip. Speaking of which, I found my whip. (Or is it Kristi's whip? I can't remember.)

Ben: Oh my, I didn't notice your comment till now. I suck. I have a whip, someone must crack it so I remember to email you. When I have more than ten minutes to rub together. See earlier comment.

Crash: Yes, yes, sending off the paperwork and getting everything ready is the point, but gah! Gah! GAH!!!

Gail: I'm getting to Scotland by plane. The question has been how I'm getting my cat to my parents' place, as the quarantine stuff in the UK is insane, and my cat would go nuts. He is, in fact, the devil in a tidy cat suit. (I did look at going over by boat, since I hate flying, but that's not economically viable.)

*thinks* Was there anything else? Nothing I can really think of....

Oh, yes. In unrelated news, my Visa arrived today.

Because Everything In Scotland will be PERFECT, DAMN IT!

This is me finding it terribly amusing that I got a total of 12 applications to be my boyfriend, but no one wants to be my wife. I'm sure there's some sort of social commentary in there, but I'm too busy to make it.

Anyway, lately I've been having really strange days. I'll have days where I think everything in the grand city of Edmonton is wonderful. The weather is pleasant, the people are nice, there is some gorgeous eye candy on Whyte Ave (Dear Goth Boy with the black lipstick: I am moving to far far away soon, and could possible die. You wouldn't want me to die without being your special friend, would you? You can reach me any time, day or night, at Trust me. Hugs and kisses forever and ever, or at least until the next pretty goth boy walks by, Anna.), and I fall in love with the River Valley. Those are the days I can't remember why I want to leave.

Then there's the other days.

On the other days, I clench my jaw and close my eyes and mutter over and over in my head that everything in Scotland is going to be SO MUCH BETTER than it is here, and the weather will always be perfect and it will never ever ever be too hot, and the coffee will be excellent and the buses will not only run on time but never be overcrowded and I will never be bored at work or have to work with people who drive me nuts and all the role players will be PERFECTLY WELL ADJUSTED DAMN IT.

I don't really like those days.

Lately, I have been almost completely unable to sleep. I'll be awake for something like 30 hours, and still not feel tired. Friends have taken to trying to bribe me to sleep. "Okay, just close your eyes for 15 minutes, and if you're still awake when I come back, we'll go out and play DDR or something to get some of that energy off. But just try sleeping, 0kay?" "But... but... I'm not tired." Then, I close my eyes for 15 minutes and the next thing I know it's 10 hours later and I'm still not tired.

I don't eat much lately either. I just don't seem to register hungry or tired or much of anything except timetimetimetimetimetime. It's driving me a bit more nuts than I thought it would.

Oh, yeah. And remember that plan? The plan I was so fond of because I had a plan and plans are just wonderful and perfect and I had one and yay? Yeah, plan's changed. No new plan, just old plan didn't work anymore. *sigh*

So, no, I have no idea now what's going. I'm alive, I'm trying to get everything done, and I think I'll be able to pull it off....

Or, you know, I'll find some nice goth boy to distract me so I don't have to worry about it anymore. (He was really tall, too. mmmmm..... tall goth boy.....)

May 31, 2005

Things I Did Not Do On My Last Night At Work

Things I Did Not Do On My Last Night At Work, Even Thought I Wanted To, a list, by jo
  1. Replace the nice classical music in the lobbey with the soundtrack to the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  2. Set every room in the hotel with a wakeup call of 7:22, regardless of what time it was supposed to be set for.
  3. Walk up and down the hallways singing "Home for a Rest" at the top of my lungs.
  4. Randomly charge credit cards for randomly large amounts.
  5. Tell any guest, staff member, or member of the management team what I really thought of them.
  6. Tell any bad D&D jokes. ("So, a cleric, a theif, a mage and a fighter all walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says 'What is this, a party?'")
  7. Talk like a pirate all night.
  8. Refuse to actually do the audit, stating "It can be done tomorrow night, it won't matter."
  9. Answer the phone with "Thank you for calling AT&T Wireless, my name is Anna, how can I assist you?"
  10. Call in sick.
IOW: It was a terribly dull night. I had a steak sandwich for my last "free" breakfast (It's a taxable benefit, does that mean it's free? I don't understand income tax some days), and calmly informed my vegetarian friend later that day that there was a cow in my stomach. Then I trotted around the kitchen and mooed a lot.

I've been a bit stressed, is it showing?

There is a plan, of course. The plan has changed three times in the past 12 hours, but there is currently something shaping up to be a plan.

The nice people from the women's shelter are coming over later today to pick up all of my good furniture. Kris is coming on the weekend with a posse and at least one pickup truck, if not two, to get the rest of his stuff finally out of my apartment. (For those following along at home, Kris moved out in early January. Yes, it will be June before he gets his stuff out. I know, I have no leg to stand on, there was still stuff of mine at Barry's for about a year after I moved out, but Barry wasn't planning an international move at any point.) I am planning on flying out to BC for about a week, leaving on ... whatever day next Tuesday is. But that's up in the air because I want to find tickets for no more than 119$ one way, and I don't really have a deadline in place to get there. The cat will go to BC with my parents. I don't plan on spending much more than a week in BC, simply beause I am feeling that constant pressure of TIME TIME TIME on my head. By the time I get back from BC, my paperwork should all be in order. (This is assuming I get the visa. I can't imagine any reason why I wouldn't, short of them not accepting a letter from the bank regarding my current financial status. Which would suck, since it was 98$ to apply for the damned thing, and I'd have to reapply and pay another 98$.) Then, I buy my ticket, pack what's left of my things, and flee the country like the hounds of hell are following me.

Somewhere in that mess I need to see a bunch of people, give away some things that need to be given away, take a trip to the Goodwill Store and WINhouse to drop off some donations, and return even more things to various friends of mine that I have belongings off.


May 30, 2005


This is me not handling being unemployed. Wanna watch?

*gah* I know I have two more paycheques coming in, that I have 15 impossible things to do before breakfast, that I have a million things I'm forgetting I need to do, that I will be able to fill up all of my time in a productive and meaningful way.

But, damn it, I have no job! Gah!

In unrelated news, I am still playing with the new url. I had to contact customer support to fix the things I broke, though. Note to self: Read the Fucking Manual.

May 29, 2005

Don't Blog While Drunk

I have been reminded not to blog while drunk (or at least very tipsy) so I shall instead just say that I no longer work at the very very boring job, and post the rest later. There was a celebration involving me, and some alcohol, and my cat, and a computer, and some chairs that i am not allowed to eat. No eating the chairs.

Now don wants to know if he's Rip, and he thinks I am the one who is drunk? Boys are dumb.

May 27, 2005



Duties will include: Making several important phone calls during daylight hours, ensuring that I eat, and reminding me that coming home at 7:30 a.m. and playing Dungeon Keeper for an hour and a half may be relaxing, but doesn't actually accomplish anything.

Please send applications to Or comment on this post, I suppose. Either or.

Basically, I am going nuts with things to get accomplished, and not getting enough of it done in a sufficient amount of time. It feels like every day time is running ahead of me. But, I have finally arranged for the bulk of my worldly goods to be taken care of in the next five days, and that will cut down a great deal on the impending sense of overwhelming doom. But then, living in an empty apartment with an angry cat may distract me enough, too.

I considered looking for a compentent personal assistant instead, but Google talked me out of it. See, if you type "I want a wife" into Google, you get quite a few hits, mostly of an essay published in Ms. Magazine by that title. (If you read the article, I will just comment that I was that wife. Well, girlfriend. And I'm still really really bitter over it.) However, if you type "I want a competent assistant", you get singifigantly less hits.

I wrote out my to do list, the full one, for everything. I measured. It actually is longer than my arm.

I was complaining about this to a friend, who made the suggestion I hire Mel for the job, to which I had to reply, quite honestly, "No, I'd have to pay her what she's worth, and I can't afford that."

So, obviously, I am in need of a wife. At least for a week or two. Any takers?

{For those asking about the boyfriend application of earlier, I shall just say that I'm reviewing applications at this point in time, and shall apprise those who have met the proper criteria to pick a time for their interview. Which they can arrange with my wife. Hopefully.}

May 25, 2005

Domain Name

In order to distract myself from the fact that I'm anxious about all this paperwork stuff, I bought a domain name.

I'm not moved in there yet, the place is utter chaos and changing every couple of minutes while I play with it, but if you want to watch the trainwreck, the url is

May 21, 2005

Passport Application - Check

I'm having a bit of a panic attack right now, as I got all the forms together, put them in the mail, and sent them off yesterday.

Oh. my. god.

May 20, 2005

Scarecrow and Episode III

Well, I did go see Episode III this afternoon. (Or, I guess, yesterday afternoon for the rest of the world. I love working nights.) I'm not going to say much about it here, except that John Williams is an amazing composer.

I mention it because I went with my friend Scarecrow, and suddenly realized it was probably going to be the last movie the two of us saw together. Which is kinda appropriate for several reasons. The first movie we saw together was Episode I, when we stood in line for tickets, my CD player blasting the soundtrack that he had picked up earlier that day. We went with a huge group of friends, and it was the experience of seeing the movie, rather than the movie itself, that I enjoyed.

After that, we started meeting every so often to go see movies in the city. Mark is a huge movie person, follows them with a passion. He keeps me updated on projects that I might enjoy seeing, tells me what's going on in the latest Star Trek franchise, and generally doesn't let me only see "artsy fartsy" movies when I go to the theater. He's probably responsible for almost every movie I saw in a "main stream" theater over the past few years.

It's been the main part of our friendship, and something I'm really going to miss.

It's kinda beginning to hit now. There are people that I may never see again. I have life plans that will keep me out of Canada entirely for at least five years. I have been unwilling to plan beyond that, but I don't really see a future where I come back here to live. And people move on and change and do exciting things and have babies and live their lives, and things drift apart, and it's sad.

I'm eager for that future, that five year plan, but I can't help but look back right now on the people and places I'm leaving behind.

So, yeah. Thanks, Mark, for making me see Spiderman 2 in theaters, and I'm sorry I giggled through the entire wedding scene (but that dress was fugly, dude! How could you not?). And I'm really glad I didn't listen to my own instincts, and went with you to see Finding Nemo, cuz that was the first DVD I bought in China, it was so good. It's been a lot of fun. I'm kinda glad the Star Wars franchise seems to be ending here, because it wouldn't be the same seeing the next movie without you.

(If you want to know my thoughts about some issues in the movie, please read my live journal post. I'd love to get some responses to my thoughts there. But it has spoilers in it. And it's not a review.)

May 17, 2005

Five Things That Will Not Happen To Me In Scotland

Five Things That Will Not Happen to me In Scotland, a list, by jo
  1. I will not find Excalibur encased in stone, pull it out, and turn out to be the Once and Future King.
  2. I will not receive my (very late) Hogwart's letter.
  3. I will not be invited into any rebellions against the British Monarchy, especially not by men in kilts with very bad Scottish accents.
  4. I will not step into a fairy ring and be lost for fifty years, returning to find my friends and family have forgotten all about me.
  5. Sean Connery will not suddenly realize I am the woman for him, and sweep me off my feet.

Bonus entry:

6. I will not find out I am Anna McCloud of the Clan McCloud, and I can never die. (And whomever I reveal this to will not suddenly want to have sex with me because of it.)

Damn, that's making Scotland seem a bit less appealing, all things considered.

In unrelated news: I am terribly ill. I won't bore you with the details. But it's been hard to care enough to either update my blog or answer my email. Sorry 'bout that.

May 12, 2005

Scottish Movie Roundup

I've apparently decided I need to watch a bunch of Scottish-based films, in an effort to prepare myself for my time over there. I don't quite know when I decided this, but yesterday before work I watched the first hour or so of Braveheart, and thus got to not only listen to some very strange "Scottish" accents, but also mock the movie. Always a fun night!

Does anyone have any recommendations of "good" or actually good Scottish-based film? I'm going to have some spare time coming up, what with the whole not working for much longer thing. And heaven knows how well I handle inactivity.

(I recently had the thought that if I lived in the country, and thus had even less to do every day than I do now, I'd start howling at the moon, until the neighbours left politely worded notes that I was scaring the sheep.)

In unrelated news, I read a book yesterday that was the complete antithesis to Bridget Jones' Diary. It's called The Bride Stripped Bare, and it was the story of a 30-something woman who realizes she's restless and out of sorts about her life, and wants to do something to escape it. This is something I find a lot easier to understand than endless angsting. It's written in a very odd style: 2nd person, present tense, short entries like a diary. It's very engaging and thought provoking, and it's left me feeling a lot less alone in the world. The author said she chose to remain anonymous so she could write whatever she wanted, without fearing what would be said to her or her family. I want to recommend it, but I'm not sure how much anyone else would like it.


Countdown to last day at work: 13 days...

May 11, 2005

The Top Three Reasons I Would Make a Horrible Parent

The Top Three Reasons I Would Make A Horrible Parent, an expanded list, by jo

1. Horrible Bedside Manner

So, I'm with a friend of mine who needs to go to the hospital once a year and have his heart examined by really big machines. I guess I was invited as moral support, or perhaps just as a distraction, because I really wasn't much use as anything else. But, we're sitting waiting for the results, and the following conversation ensues:

Me: So, you've been coming here at least once a year since you were five?

Him: Yup.

Me: You've been living with the knowledge that at any point your heart could just burst open and kill you instantly since you were five?

Him: It's not the heart, it's the aorta. And yes, basically.

Me: So, how do they explain that to a five year old? "Well, kid, everyone dies some day, you're just gonna die a lot sooner."

Him: That's not quite how it went.

Me: What, did they explain that death is just a land of magical fairies and chocolate?

Him: I-- No, no, that's not it. As a note, I don't think you'd make a good doctor.

Me: Hey, I think it's a great idea!

Him: See previous comment.

So, yeah... perhaps not so much with the good parenting aspect.

2. Children need actual care.

Unlike my cat, who I can lock in the apartment, going home long enough to feed, water, and pet him on my weekends, I would actually have to take care of a child. My understanding is they need someone there all the time.

3. I like toys too much.

And anything that was purchased for the kid, I'd end up playing with. I have a collection of toys I have to get around to giving to the children of various friends of mine, that I got in China, but they're so darned cute! And yesterday I bought myself a stuff bee that for some reason I insist on wearing around my wrist and have named "Killer". I am so strange.

I've been advised I should also add "wanting to name my daughter Antigone" to the list, but I don't think that would make me a horrible parent, just an eccentric one.

In unrelated news, I gave my notice at work yesterday with a letter that went mostly like this:

Dear (boss man):

I quit.
Formal letter to follow.
See you tomorrow night.

Hugs and Kisses,

Okay, not quite, but I gave my last day as the 25th.

God, it's all happening so fast now.

May 10, 2005


And so time runs away from me so quickly some days, and it feels like it's a million years until I can go, and yet it's coming up so suddenly, this artificial deadline I put out there of June 6th. It feels like it will never come, and that I'll never be ready anyway, and what the heck am I doing all of this for?

It feels like making this choice, to live in Scotland, in Ireland, to go to live in as many places as I can, never staying too long, feels like some sort of rejection of so many things. Like a rejection of my mother, who at this age already had my brother, was trying so hard to have me. A rejection of the person I was a few short years ago, who could see nothing better in the world than having a home of my own, a white picket fence with a garden in the back, a couple of kids and a dog. It feels so much like deciding to do this is a rejecting of a lot of my friends here, friends I want to stay close with but at the same time I just don't understand how they don't feel this wanderlust, this need to see the world in a way that tourisim doesn't.

I still remember being so annoyed with the only tourist I really met in China, the one who stayed at only the highest class hotels, only hit the major tourist spots ("We were in Beijing yesterday, today we're going out to see the Terracotta Warriors, after that we're off to Hong Kong to do some shopping"), and insisted that my view of China was just wrong. That there must be other foriengers in Jiangyan. (There were, about a month later, but not at the time.) I don't want to see just what you can see in a quick jaunt through a country. I want to see what it is to live there, to get to the point where Canadian accents sound strange, and being on a bus full of people just like you seems far more overwhelming than the first busride in China ever could. I want to live like that, and somedays I don't understand why other people don't.

I talked to my mother about this a few days ago, and she told me that she couldn't help but be jealous. She wanted to do the same things I do, but it wasn't done when she was my age. She grew up in a small town in southern Manitoba, went to a one room school house for most of her public education, wore her jeans under her skirt to keep warm in the winter. Some days it feels like my mother and I have nothing in common, other days it feels like it's only a few years difference, that we could have been friends were we the same age.

I feel trapped by time right now. I'm giving in my notice at work, but I still don't have the 3000$. I should have it by Monday, but the idea of being trapped at that job an extra week makes me ill. As soon as I have the money, I get a letter from the bank, drop my application in the mail, and wait impatiently for 2 weeks for it to come back. In those two weeks, I finish off everything I need to do, visit my friends and family back in Vancouver, say good bye to everyone here, so I can purchase my plane ticket and be gone, and spend the rest of my life missing Edmonton in the spring, when the river valley is more beautiful than anything I've ever seen.

I was asked in an email from an old friend: "What is so wrong with Canada that you don't want to be here anymore?" I struggled with that, because some days I feel like this choice is a running away, a refusal to deal with life in the long term. And not too long after receiving that email, I went to see Pier 21, which is where so many people came to start their new lives in Canada, some dying with the need to get here, and I want to run away?

But it's not that.

Canada is beautiful, and I love it here. But it's easy to say your country is beautiful and wonderful if you've never experienced life anywhere else. I remember, still, thinking Manitoba was the most wonderful place in the world, until I fell in love with Alberta. It's easy to think some place or some person is perfect if you've never experience anywhere else. And I came back to Alberta after going to school in BC.

I want to see the world. I want to see it all. I want to touch the pyramids, walk along the Great Wall, go shopping in some out of the way place in Scotland, see the Parthenon with my own eyes. There are so many things in this world, and it's only miles and time that's keeping me from them. I can come back. Canada isn't going anywhere. And although I've been living with the knowledge that Edmonton isn't home anymore, that it hasn't been for some time, I know I can come back here, walk in the River Valley late at night and look up at the stars.

For me, at least, home only comes after a struggle, and I want to see where that struggle is going to take me.

May 9, 2005

Pirate Jokes

Number of jokes about pirates emailed to me over the past week: 12

Number of jokes I heard (per day) about pirates over the past week: 8

Percentage of these jokes that were some varation of the line "We just need to get you a parrot": 92

Heck, even my eye doctor said that to me.

The whole thing is, of course, incredibly funny. A lot of people figured I was just wearing the patch to be cute, but I just patiently explained to each one that I had been tuning my friend's harp and one of the string's broke and whapped me in the eye, leaving it damaged. Or I had a crossbow accident. Or I was running with scissors. I think my favorite was that I sent it away for cleaning, because one person went "Oh, I didn't know you had a glass eye!"

People are fun. *grin*

Anyway, the point is that I can look at a computer again without going cross eyed, so my life is a lot better. My glasses make me look like a librarian, which wasn't quite the look I was going for, but whatever. I can see, and they aren't terribly heavy.

Life, like people, is fun.

May 1, 2005

Things I Have Done This Week That Have Gotten Me One Step Closer to Scotland

Things I Have Done this Week That Have Gotten Me One Step Closer To Scotland, a list, by jo
  1. Finished my income tax. Ooh, lots of money coming in from the government. (Basically, I should have a bank balance of around 3000$ before I apply for the Working Holiday Visa. The government doesn't actually specify how much you should have, but the majority of people I've talked to say about that amount. It's to show you won't be a burden on the economy when you live there.)
  2. Helped my friend do a lot of things to get his house ready to put on the market. Because I have a signed piece of paper from him indicating that once the house is sold, he'll give me 3000$. So, if by some horrible mistake I can't get the money myself, I know it's coming.
  3. Gotten ridden of a bunch more stuff that I didn't need or want.
  4. Talked to my parents about a home for Little Demon Spawn, also knows as my cat. My mother thinks I should pay the extra money and fly. My mother also has a bigger income than I do, so I'll likely go with the original plan of driving down with a friend. Who is allergic to cats. *sigh*
  5. "Found" an awful lot of time to spend with dear friends, making great memories. The problem with doing that is, of course, that one decides one doesn't necessarily want to leave.
  6. Answered the age-old question of "contacts or glasses" by calling the eye doctor and saying "Suit me up with glasses. Or just one contact lens for my left eye. Cuz this whole eye patch thing is kinda fun at first, but it gets old fast."
That feels like a full week. *grin*

It's been a great week. I saw Hitchhiker's with Scarecrow and actually liked it. I also saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show with Crash and Linette and Don, and we had a great time people watching.

As for the whole eye patch thing, it goes like this: My right eye, the useless one, got an eye infection. I can see okay without the patch, as long as I don't intend to move my head in any way. By, say, walking. Or talking to people. So, it's good for watching movies. I grabbed an eye patch while I was out with Scarecrow (who tells me I'd look more sexy if it was white), carefully followed the directions, and now I look "sinister" according to a friend of mine.

Then I threw on a beret and became a sinister member of the French Resistance! A sinister scarred member of the French Resistance! With a mysterious past!

Right up until I hooked up with Crash, who informed me I look like a soap opera villian, determined to ruin his business so that I can buy it out from under him, and steal his woman.

I love Crash.

April 29, 2005

I just feel the need

I just feel the need for a short post:

I am now wearing an eyepatch, and will be for the next little while at least.

"Oh! I have a clever idea! I'll get contacts! Tee hee hee!"

*sigh* Will post more when I get used to staring at a computer screen with only one eye.

April 27, 2005

After forcing myself to finish

After forcing myself to finish reading Bridget Jones' Diary, I have discovered the error of my ways. Obviously everything that's wrong with me is that I don't have a boyfriend. I am now taking applications. Feel free to email me, or comment on this post.

{Edited to Add: Will take comments back off blog once a suitable application has been received.}

April 26, 2005

Things I've Learned in the

Things I've Learned in the Last Few Days, a list, by jo
  1. One of my friends feels that "the common fig tree" is far too common for him, and he must be presented with an uncommon fig tree post-haste.
  2. One of my friends doesn't mind being used as a "ball" in a game of keep-away.
  3. One of my friends has a very World of Warcraft sense of humour. He makes a good dwarf.
  4. One of my friends needs to take a light narcotic in order to spend time with me.
  5. Trying to make something sound less crazy by saying "I'd do that!" tends to backfire.
  6. I can't trust one of my friends in the kitchen. Ever. EVAR. At least not if honey is involved. Or peanut butter. But let's not talk about the peanut butter.
  7. My friends won't talk me out of hair-brained schemes.
  8. My purty new pen won't write well on postcards, but if you cover the writing in tape, it works okay.
  9. No one will talk me out of making a voo doo doll out of one of my coworkers.
  10. Don't trust Don with the books. Any books. Because he will either leave it behind in someone else's car, or pack it up in a box and give it away when I'm in the middle of it. Stupid Don.
In Other Words: Having a wonderful time. I really want to write a big long entry about the Muttart, but most of what I have right now is "Muttart good, then went to sleep."

April 24, 2005

I'd like to start this

I'd like to start this entry by saying that my current boss is not nearly as undertstanding as my last one about me walking into the office and saying 'Lesbian Ninja Pirates! With monkeys!' first thing in the 'morning'. Whereas the last one just smiled and nodded, this one wandered into his office and closed the door, and refused to talk to me about striped socks for the rest of my shift.

Which is really just an interesting opening for me to explain that lately I have loathed work, and am just dialing it in. I really feel that I'm losing my interest in the whole idea of working at this place anymore. Part of that is the whole "Going to Scotland and leaving this place behind forEVAR!", but a lot of that is just the sheer boredom and tedium of my job. I add things, then write the numbers down on a piece of paper. All night. Sometimes it's even the same number over and over again.

I just think the whole thing is part of a greater symptom, though. I'm alternately anxious about going to Scotland (which includes such gems coming from my mouth as "But... but... I don't speak like Scottish people, no one will understand me!) and counting down the seconds till I can blow this popstand. I know I'm going. It's a statement of fact. Now it's just playing the hurry up and wait game, and that's always frustrating, and it makes me doubt this is the right decision some days. I mean, what if I go there, and they all... I don't know... wear oatmeal for hats or something?

(I have no idea why it was less scary to go to China, except perhaps that no one in China could look at me and think I'd know what was going on. In Scotland, right up until I open my mouth and prove I'm Canadian, a lot of people will think I'm stupid.)

The whole thing just doesn't feel real yet.

Of course, then there's the whole conundrum with my eyes.

As I mentioned before, my glasses broke, and the nice eye people gave me some disposable contacts so we could determine if I can wear contacts or not. Of course, with my right eye being completely useless (thus, as a Lesbian Ninja Pirate, I am totally getting an eye patch - with rhinestones!), they've had a lot of problems "fitting" contacts to me. And I'm really beginning to question which way I want to go.

I mean, there's the whole issue where my face feels lighter (a lot lighter - my glasses are heavy!), I have peripheral vision, and in close situations, my eyes seem a bit better with the contacts. However, my night vision is shot to hell -- I can't read a lot of glowing signs because the light blurs together, and everything is a bit mussed up from a distance. My eyes are also really dry a lot of the time, but that's been getting better as I wear the contacts more, so it may not be a factor to consider.

In terms of cost, I seem to recall that it comes down to basically the same thing for a pair of glasses versus a year's supply of disposable contacts.

The answer would be clear to me (unintended pun) if I drove. There's no way I'd drive with these contacts. But I don't. I don't have issues with a computer screen, which is the main function of most jobs I've had in the past... um... 7 years or so. So, it's a really tough choice for me.

I'm going to stop by the eye people tomorrow and talk to them. It may really come down to which is cheaper. But I don't know.

See, these are my conundrums. Isn't my life great? *grin*

And in yet more unrelated to anything else news, I finished The Hundred Secret Senses, and am basically bookless right now till I get something new, unless I want to unbend and read that wretched Bridget Jones' Diary to the end.

Somehow, I don't think so.

April 21, 2005

So, one of the things

So, one of the things on my 43 Things list is "Read 52 books in 52 weeks." When I first added that to my list, I figured, "Hey, piece of cake." I still remember when reading 52 books in 52 days seemed like a piece of cake. No big deal, right?

Well, like everything I do, I had to go to the extreme. Not just simple little fiction books for me, oh no. I wanted to load up my read books list with lots of intellectual sounding things. Out of the Garden: A Woman's Reflections on the Bible or Women in Purple, which is about some of the Empresses of Constaintanople. Because it's all about impressing people who read my blog, right?

After reading on Jeanne-Marie's blog about how she's read about a million books so far this year, I said to myself "Screw it," walked into the used bookstore, and asked for something girly and light. (This is not to say that I think Jeanne's reading girly light stuff. I just gave up on the idea of trying to only read intellectual and clever sounding things. And I needed to start somewhere other than the collection of romance novels that I just can't seem to get rid of.) They pointed me at Bridget Jones' Diary.

Oh. My. God. What the hell is wrong with people?

I tried to read it. I really did. By the end of the first "month", I had resigned myself to something not that great, but at least it would be a good popcorn read, right? By the end of the third month I was muttering and ranting in my head about people sitting around and feeling sorry for themselves all day. By the end of the fourth month, I threw the book at the wall.

"Problem?" said my friend, curled up in his favorite chair, reading Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf.

"ARG!" I tend not to be very coherent at the beginning of a rant. "I just don't get it!"

Being terribly patient, he marked his page and put the book down. "What don't you get?"

"This whole turning 30 and not having a man is the end of the world thing! I mean, gah! What is the point? That... that... women only exist to breed or something? That if you're not in a relationship you're somehow incomplete? I don't get that idea at all. It makes no sense to me! 30 is about a year and a half away for me, and I'm not worried about not having a husband and a baby. I'm worried about turning 30 and still being in freaking CANADA!"

"You turn 30 in a year and 3 months, not a year and a half."

I gave him a dirty look. "You are missing the point. It seems that everywhere I look, women are getting advice on how to find a man, how to get married and settle down, and I don't get it. Why don't I want that? What the hell is wrong with me that every other woman (with a few notable exceptions) seems to want a man, and all I want is a plane ticket? Why don't I want kids? Why don't I care about these things at all? Am I just weird? Am I missing something important? Am I refusing to grow up? What the hell is wrong with me that I think this book is a load of crap, and yet both it and the sequel were hugely successful movies? What is everyone else getting that I'm not? I mean, this woman is so freaking neurotic."

"Are you actually worried you're not neurotic enough?"

"No, I'm actually worried that I have all the wrong neurosies."

He looked at me for a moment, picked up his book, and went back to reading.

But seriously, I am considering writing a book about an almost-30 something woman who is struggling to get out of the country without the burden of trying to take a man with her. Because I'd like to read that story, and I hadn't come up with anything for NaNoWriMo this year.

Related to the whole 43 things thing, I have been spending a lot more time with my friends. I saw four movies this month (well, three if you count that I saw Sin City twice). The most recent was Merchant of Venice. I'll just say that my companions found it a much better movie than I did. I think when 4 out of 5 people like a film, I'm probably just not the right person to see it with.

I also tried the third recipe in my book, which was corn muffins, and was greeted with many compliments. I think this whole bread-baking thing is turning out quite well. I'm just worried that the ovens in Scotland will only be in Celcius, and the entire book gives temperatures in Farenheit.

And I bought The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan, which I have yet to get frustrated with, so maybe I will manage to actually read something a bit more respectable than Harry Potter fanfiction this week.

Or, you know, maybe not.

April 19, 2005

I've been trying for almost

I've been trying for almost a week now to write something meaningful about the growing tensions between China and Japan, but everything I write comes out sounding trite and naive. I guess it just comes down to the fact that I don't live there, and even when I did live there, I didn't understand the racial tension, the seeming hatred for other countries. I regularily heard Lily and even Bao Ying talk about "dirty American dogs", and I remember typing up tests for the teachers that included long paragraphs showing how evil Japan and America are. I spent some time this week talking to a co-worker from that area about the tensions, and his passion about how evil Japan is was something I had never really experienced here, and I find it disconcerting.

I'm really quite glad I'm not in China right now. One thing I distinctly hated was hearing just hints of what was going on through the various news sources I could access behind the Great Firewall, and having to jump between people's blogs to find out what was really going on. And even then, a lot of it was rumour and conjecture. Sometimes you'd get lucky (and I probably would today, if I wanted to look for it) and read a first hand account. There are a lot of ex-pat bloggers in Shanghai and Beijing, I could find the stuff if I wanted to. But I like being in my cocoon, I think, and I'd rather not know for certain how bad it is right now.

I never mentioned to my students that I wanted to go to Japan. I didn't really want to deal with the fallout.

It's been a busy weekend, such as these things are, trying to get things prepared for going away.

I did end up getting a pair of "trial contacts" that I'm to test for a week. My face feels strange and light. They can't get an inexpensive lens for my right eye. As the doctor said, it's not worth the effort of getting the vision in that eye up to even 20/40 unless I lose it in my left eye. So, everything's just slightly off while I get used to having this lens in. For those of you unaware, I can't drive, so the world is still safe. I'm really glad I can't drive - the first few hours with these lenses I was a mess, trying to figure out how to focus again and dealing with the fact that my face felt so strange. I looked at myself straight on in the mirror without glasses for the first time in a very long time, and didn't even recongize myself.

Today, which is Tuesday, a friend of mine and I are dropping various of my boxes off at various places. I'm quite excited to get them out of my house. We're also taking a few things that are broken beyond repair to the dump. I just want to wiggle all over with bliss. Some of the stupid walls of boxes in my house will be gone, and I'll be able to seriously reclaim the space. For what it's worth, since I'm leaving so soon. I wish I had done this decluttering thing much sooner. Ever time I get rid of something that I didn't really want anyway, I feel so much better. Of course, since I'm *such* a packrat, and feel deep inside that if I get rid of something I'll somehow be betraying the person who gave it to me, or the person I was when I bought it, it's hard to say if I would have done anything of the sort without the push of wanting to leave Edmonton.

Speaking of Edmonton, I recently joined something called World66. Basically, it's a user-created Travel site. I submitted a couple of things to the Edmonton page (most notably a mention of the Princess Theatre, which is one of 5 independent theatres in Edmonton, none of which were on the page), and have perused the Scotland page with much glee, excitedly pointing out everything I could to my friend. I get a little strange about such things. But then, I did entertain myself for several days by reading key sections of my guidebook outloud to people. Anyway, one feature I enjoy is the option of making a map of every place in the world that you've been. There's nothing quite so simultaneously daunting and encouraging as seeing a map indicating that you've only been to 2% of the world's countries. Here's to at least doubling that by the end of 2005.

And just to add to my geek factor, I made another recipe from my big bread book. Blueberry muffins. I won't go into too much detail, except to say that the entire dozen was eaten quite quickly, and that lemon zest is my new best friend. I made the big yummy loaf again, too, and I have to admit that I could happy spend every day of my life smelling fresh bread. It's such a relaxing scent.

April 14, 2005

I only read the paper

I only read the paper at work, because that's where I have time and a paper is conviently delivered to me daily. We get four papers every day: The Globe and Mail, the Journal, the Sun, and the National Post.

I guess this was in the paper on a day I didn't work.

(Via Bookninja)

Edmonton poet laureate.

Because that's exactly what we need.

In unrelated news, my trial contacts are at the optomotrist, I have found someone to take in my donations of office supplies, my cat is continuing to use me as a chew toy, and everyone keeps wanting to feed me. I can cross at least soemthing off my To Do Before Scotland list, and this makes me happy.

Ack, and it's my mother's birthday tomorrow! Ack!

My hands are sore, but

My hands are sore, but the bread is yummy in my tummy. I can't even describe how satisfying it is to have baked a yummy loaf of bread all by myself (okay, with adult supervision in the form of someone reading the cook book out loud to me occasionally), then cut the fresh loaf, slathered it with butter, and made a cheese sandwich. So incredibly satisfying.

I have no idea why I'm ashamed of this.

I don't know about other women, but I feel a great deal of pressure not to like the domestic arts. To be very depreciative of my cooking skills, to pretend I don't know how to make a cake from scratch or that I don't have a set of favorite dinner recipes that I can and do whip out on a regular basis. I know how to effectively cut onions and peel tomatoes, but given the choice to talk about anything culinary, and I'll bring up how much Ichiban I've eaten this month. I'll be the first one to say I can't cook, even to people who have lived with me, eaten my tomato sauce and rhubarb pie, and I'll hush them up quickly if they try to tell anyone that I can, in fact, cook.

I don't know where this idea of hiding what is a very useful skill comes from. I think it's that I still feel like a fraud in the kitchen. Left on my own, I will eat an awful lot of Ichiban noodles. I really only bother cooking nice full meals for other people, never just for myself. And there's the part of me that insists that if I want a Career and Education and All That Stuff, I can't be good in the kitchen. In my mind, people who are good in the kitchen are trapped there, spending all day slaving over a hot stove to make barely-appreciated meals.

Now, granted, some of this is true. This bread that I'm rhapsodizing over took all day to make, and was actually started at 10:30 p.m. the night before I got to eat it at 6:30 p.m. It's a recipe that calls for a lot of 2 hour periods of rising bread. But I certainly wasn't trapped in the kitchen. I went out to lunch, I surfed the web, I napped, I had a shower, I did all sorts of things between playing with the dough. And the finished product was definitely something that was appreciated by those who got to eat it. Heck, the smell alone was appreciated. There's nothing quite like the smell of bread fresh from the oven.

I guess it's time for me to stop pretending I can't cook.

So: My name is Anna, and I like to bake fresh bread when I have a day off, make a mean tomato sauce from scratch, and still have people mention longingly in emails how much they wish I'd make them a rhubarb pie that I haven't made in 2 years.

I have just received a recipe book with 150 bread recipes in it. I can cross the first one off my list. Only 149 to go...

April 12, 2005

Unrelated to anything else, I

Unrelated to anything else, I have days off. Which means I broke my glasses.

Yay me.

April 8, 2005

I spent a lot

I spent a lot of time taking pictures of Chinese lanterns like this one. I had this idea of putting them all in black frames and hanging them on my wall. No, I haven't done this, I'm lazy. But it means I do have a lot of pictures of lanterns.
They do have them everywhere, they all look different, and some of them are far nicer than others. Unfortunately, I don't have any other ones scanned in right now.
I do, however, fondly remember Lantern Festival. If I recall correctly, it's about 15 days after Spring Festival, and it's... kinda crazy. *grin* Granted, I did it in Jiangyan, and Jiangyan's definition of crazy is probably different than anywhere else. But I remember the crowded streets and the way that everyone was letting off firecrackers and fireworks, and there were sparks everywhere, and part of me kept thinking about how nothing like this would be allowed to happen in Canada, with so many children running and screaming everywhere while these sparks went off. There was so much energy and so much light and noise, it was everything I think should happen on New Years Eve, except in the middle of February. No fears of evil spirits now. *grin*
I find a lot of my memories fading away, which I really regret. It takes staring at the photos to remember now. I wish I had taken the time to write more of my thoughts. Yes, I have my blog entries to look back on, but a lot of them aren't terribly personal. I wish I had more stuff that was just for me, you know?

In other news, I got some lovely and encouraging emails after my last post, which made me feel a lot better. On top of that, just making a decision made me feel a lot better. I sorta knew I'd be going, I guess, but it was always something I'd put off talking about, thinking about, acting on. I wanted to do it, but I just wouldn't let myself. There's still a lot of this feeling that chosing to go overseas again is a bit of "I don't wanna grow up!" act, but I'm getting over that to. Everyone makes their own choices. This one is mine.
Unrelated to that, my favorite Rapscallion comes home soon. Which is mostly interesting in that I apparently agreed to bake him bread for the day he comes home. Which, granted, sounds like something I'd agree to do, but I'm a bit fuzzy on the conversation. Can I just say now that asking me to do something in the middle of the day is a lot like asking someone else to do something in the middle of the night? I'll probably agree to just about anything to get someone off the phone so I can go back to sleep. Oh well, it'll be fun, and I get to bake bread, which I really enjoy doing. Plus, there's the added appeal to my ego of, "But Anna, I really missed your cooking. And baking. And your bread. Especially your bread. Will you make me bread?"
Of course, I have The World's Easiest Bread Recipie. As the author calls it, Fool Proof Bread, tested by an elite cadre of fools. And who doesn't want to make something that includes directions like "Punch the dough like it's your ex. Then punch it again for good measure, he deserves it." *grin*
Hmm.... What else is going on in my exciting life? Well, I have a to-do list of things I need to do before I can leave the country. It's under revision, of course, and I'm fairly convinced that I'm going to forget something terribly important, like turning off the power in my apartment or something. Since I'm still dealing with the bills that were run up in my name when I was in China, I'm a little bit concerned. Even though I'll actually be leaving the apartment, and never coming back, thus not leaving anything on in my name for any room mates to deal with, I'm still kinda haunted by the whole thing. If you look at the list and notice anything I forgot, please do tell me.
Speaking of lists, I joined 43things some time ago. I'm rather strange that way. Basically it's a list of things you're going to do (up to 43 of them, fancy that), and you can see other people who have the same things, track your progress, stuff like that. It's kinda interesting, in a very meme-y sort of way.
Since I'm being a bit of a link whore, I thought I'd add that I have a couple of things up on Work or Spoon.

From Shani's Blog Jojo, one

From Shani's Blog

Jojo, one of our longtime servers at Jekyll's, has been hit very hard lately. She was one of the residents at The Arlington, and she was home when it went up. Jojo spent two days in the hospital for smoke inhalation, and has lost everything. Amanda is asking for donations of clothes, furniture, food, linens, kitchen utensils and tools, toiletries, as well as any financial contributions to help get Jojo back on her feet. You can reach Amanda at the Jekyll's Pub at: 426-5381.

My comment:

Shani, I'm gonna post this on my blog, too. Also, I just called Bo (anyone can talk to him, too) and they can't take donations of items right now, because Jo doesn't have a place to stay yet. However, what I'm doing is giving them a list of things I *can* donate, along with my phone number, and they will call me as soon as they can take the stuff in.

April 5, 2005

{Editor's note: I wrote this

{Editor's note: I wrote this about a week ago, and finally decided to go ahead and post it today.}

I don't know if anyone else suffers from days where you hate everyone and everything, but I woke up this morning despising everything. And I couldn't figure out why.

Oh, there were lots of things I could blame it on, easily enough. I've spent the last three weeks studiously decluttering my apartment, which is a lot of freaking work. Plus, since I'm nicely boxing up things that belong to other people, or that I want to donate, or that have other reasons to be boxed or bagged up, I'm living in a house that looks like I'm moving at the end of the month - but I'm not. I spent a good chunk of my days off at Margery's place doing tons of laundry, of which about 3/4s was either donated or thrown out, and 1/2 of what I returned with is either Barry's or Kris'. So, more was added to their piles of boxes. When I came home after my days off, expecting one more night to myself, I found three messages from work asking me to please come in to work last night, since they'd already changed the schedule.

My cat hates me. Again. *sigh*

And going back even further, my three best friends all moved to other cities within a month of each other.

So, I woke up this morning in a terrible mood, and nothing I've tried all day has worked to kick me out of it.

I did what everyone does when they need a pick me up. I called up a friend and whined.

Because he's a good friend, he listened to me whine for the better part of an hour, then calmly asked me a few things. Like, how I actually felt, beyond the whining. Which I had to sit down and think about.

"I feel like I'm killing time. Like I'm just waiting for something to happen, and nothing's going to. Like this is it, these four walls, and this job that's going nowhere, and this life that's just dull."

"Have you felt like that before?"

"I guess... Yeah, when I was putting everything together but hadn't actually done anything about going overseas. When I was still just talking about it. Life was so dull, but I couldn't seem to do anything."

"You know," he said. "You've been talking off and on for the past year about going overseas again. You didn't want to come back from China. You talked about Japan and stuff, remember? Didn't Paul warn you about having itchy feet when you came back?"

"Yeah, but...."

Yeah, but. But, I missed Edmonton with a deadly passion while I was away. I had dreams about coming home. I talked about it constantly, about all the people I missed, all the things I didn't get to do. I remember back when Barry and I lived in Vegreville, how if we lived in the wonderful land of Edmonton, everything would be perfect. We'd do stuff with people every weekend, and we'd never be bored again. I like that idea of Edmonton.

"You're bored, Anna. You're stagnating. You don't even go through the motions of trying to do anything exciting anymore. When was the last time you even left the house to do something new? And no, going to Camrose to do your laundry doesn't actually count."

"It's not that simple."

Because it never is that simple for me. I haven't left the house for a lot of reasons, and part of that is that I'm bored. I'm bored of work, it's not challenging anymore. I can't stand the idea of going to a game because I feel like I've really played them all, you know? The people I want to talk to, I can call them, I can email them, I can talk over ICQ. I can make that sort of effort. But going out for coffee? I'm bored of coffee. Meeting at the pub? I'm bored of the pub. I'm bored of a lot of things. I can't even stand the idea of reading a book some days because it's so boring. Some days I'm sure this is a sign that there's something wrong, that I should talk to someone seriously about how bored I am, how nothing interests me anymore. Other days, I think it's because I've done everything in Edmonton I conceivably wanted to do, and now it's time to go some place else.

I've never lived anywhere as long as I lived here.

"It's never that simple for you. I love you, but you make things more complicated than they need to be."


Translate probably as yes.

"I know you've been thinking about going overseas again. What's holding you back?"

"Lots of stuff."

I'd need to get a visa again. I need money, I always need money. I'd have to give up a job that, although it bores me, pays well and has opportunities to pay more. And has benefits. My parents want me to settle down and get a career, my friends are getting married and having babies, except when they're already married with babies. They're being grownups. Going back overseas seems like a selfish thing to do, some days. I have all this stuff, and no idea what to do with it all. What would I do with my cat, he can't come with me. What if I go over there and I'm deathly lonely again? What if I can't find a job? What if I go away, and everyone here forgets about me?

"Tell me some of them."


"Then we'll get you the money. Anna, you got the money to go to China, and we'll help you get the money to go someplace else. You do have friends who love you, and know that you're going insane here."

Have I mentioned that I'm blessed in my friends?

"I'm running out of time to get a working holiday visa to a lot of places, I have to do it before I'm 30."

"You're not even 29 yet, there's lots of time."

"I don't know where I want to go."

"Uh-huh. Which is why you have a new UK guidebook. And all of these pamphlets on your table from Wales and Scotland. And why you've suddenly been emailing people in Edinburgh."

"Everyone there will think I talk funny."

He gave me a look, and ignored that statement.

"Let's make a plan," he said. "Let's sit down and figure out all the things you'll have to do. Let's get you to Edinburgh. Your friends will still love you, your parents will still love you, and you'll be happier to be traveling again. There's nothing wrong with being disatisfied with your life as it is, Anna. It's chosing to continue to be so unhappy when there are solutions that will make you feel better that's the problem. If you want to wallow in being miserable, fine, but I think you'll feel better if we get everything sorted out to get you on a plane and happy."

So, we sat down, and made of list of everything either one of us could think of that would need to be done before I could go overseas. The list wasn't nearly as long as I thought it would be.

"Are you feeling any better?" he asked me as we finished it up.

I looked around my apartment. The walls didn't seem to be closing in so much.

"Yeah," I said. "Yes I am."

Estimated Departure Date: June 6th 2005

April 4, 2005

When I got to

Chinese New Year
When I got to China it was the Year of the Goat, and when I left, it was the Year of the Monkey. Lily of Infamy told me that parents what their kids to be born in the Year of the Monkey because they'll be clever and quick, like little monkies. Having spent time around small children, I can't really think of a lot of them that aren't already clever and quick like little monkeys, but whatever.
I looked forward to the Chinese New Year like a mad woman, but the whole thing was very disappointing. It's such a family holiday that no one I knew really thought to do anything with me. (I don't think I would have had a good time sitting around playing card games I don't know with people who don't speak English, which is a big part of the Chinese New Year, at least in Jiangyan.) Paul and I got together and let off firecrackers, which was a lot of fun. We drank alcohol, watched some videos, and basically hung out. At one point we walked around downtown Jiangyan, and the entire place was abandoned. It was very cold out, at least for China (that is, it was the middle of winter, and thus just about as cold as it is outside today in Edmonton), and the only place we could find open was the KFC. So, we had hot chocolate to warm up, then walked down the main street in the city. Usually it's so packed that you can't get anywhere quickly, and it was completely empty.
The whole thing was a lot of fun, in that strange way. Kinda like wandering around the streets on New Years Day in Canada, I guess. Nothing is open, and no one's around.
The monkey up above was taken in Nanjing. There were a lot of things there that indicated the new year celebration there had been a lot bigger of a deal. I have a bunch of other photos of the streets of Nanjing from the visit I took up there during the holiday. Lots of ice sculptures and weird things like that. Very colourful and the like.
I wish I had more stories about Chinese holidays. I have this sense that so much more was going on than what I was aware of (I have a gift from the boat races in Jiangyan during that time, but I didn't have any idea there was a boat race, or I would have gone), but at the same time the opportunity to just relax and not do anything with anyone watching was nice. During the holiday, the entire school was empty. I didn't feel like I was being stared at as much as I did the rest of the time.
One of the gifts I was given just before the new year was this lovely carved goat that everyone I know hates except me. I love the thing. I should get a pic of it and put it up for everyone. *grin*
See Also:
More on the streets of Nanjing during Spring Festival More on the streets of Nanjing during Spring Festival
So, Tom came to visit for the day yesterday and today, and it was a lot of fun. I'm kinda kicking myself now for not really planning a lot to do, or at least not having a lot of food in the house. *sigh* But on the other hand, I've only really been vaugly aware that Tom was gone. It was like seeing him again sorta crystalized for me that he's actually moved to Vancouver, is incredibly happy there, and is really enjoying his life. And thus, not likely to show up back in Edmonton again any time soon. I miss him like mad, but at the same time I'm so happy for him. Ah well, such is life, and it just means there's more people for me to visit the next time I'm in Vancouver.
In squeeing over the movie (Oh! I saw Sin City, did you hear? Yay!), I totally forgot to mention that I saw it with Tom, Crash and Lynette. I think seeing Crash and Lynette may have been better than seeing the movie. We went out for mediocre East Indian food, and talked about life and stuff, and it was great and relaxing to just get out of the house again with people I genuinely love spending time with. We hooked up with Tom, saw the movie (which I loved. Not that I'm driving everyone I know insane with the constant talking about this movie or anything), and then went out for coffee afterwards and talked about the movie, about gaming, about life. My two favorite comments were both from Crash.
"Sure, I'd play a Hogwarts Game. But only if I got to be a monster that ate all the students by the handful. And it can't be some pansy monster, it's got to be a real monster."
Later on, when we got back on the movie, I told everyone how it inspired me to want to kill Crash and then have wild passionate sex with Lynette in the pool of blood that would form. (Did I mention it's a gory film?)
"That sounds hot. Why don't you kill me right now?"
I love Crash. He's so darned cute.

April 3, 2005

You are in the top

You are in the top 12.66% richest people in the world. There are 5,240,103,492 people poorer than you. How do you feel about that? A bit richer we hope. Please consider donating just a small amount to help some of the poorest people in the world. Many of their lives could be improved dramatically or even saved if you donate just one hour's salary (approx $11.66)Oh, and in case youre interested you are the 759,896,508 richest person in the world.

Just something I wanted to remember the next time I came home from work wanting to main my coworkers. How do you measure up?

April 2, 2005

I saw Sin City! I

I saw Sin City! I saw Sin City! I saw Sin City!

It was violent and gory and ugly! There was torture and blood and guts and gore and more blood and castration and that's not even counting the bits with the eating of people. I saw probably less than half of it, and actually had to leave the theater for about three minutes during one scene (Tom warned me, and he's a good judge of what I don't like), but I loved it. I loved it!

Lots of violence, lots of gore. Oh so appropriate. Heaven only knows why someone who has a standing rule of "Don't discsuss violence in front of Anna, it makes her sick" is such a big fan of these stories. (Of course, the advantage of reading them in a comic instead of watching them in a film is my eyes tend to skip right over the violent pictures and focus on other things.)

I will admit, since I am such a fangirl, that I noticed that one of my favorite lines was missing. "And if you're going to keep pistol whipping me like that, you should do it with the butt of the gun, not the barrel. You're going to warp it."

Let's see, I should say something other than Yay! Yay yay yay!

Um... Let's see. The cinematography is outstanding, with both the bright splashes of colour and some subtle uses of it that are very powerful. It's amazing. I think they did an excellent job of recreating the comic on screen. It's remarkable.

Jessica Alba can't act her way out of a paper bag. Gah. Also, one would think that the stripper would, at some point, actually take off her clothes, but I guess not. Oh well, it's not as bad as it could be, in that she at least looks incredibly sexy. But damn it, Nancy Callahan should actually get naked. *sigh*

(Unrelated comment: When I was thinking about this earlier today, I kept thinking, You know, I can think of friends who would have done a better job of that part, and would have looked damned sexy taking their clothes off, too. Then I thought, I probably shouldn't mention their names in my blog, though, because there's something a little creepy listing random friends that you want to see naked on the big screen. Man am I strange some days.)

It was violent to the point where there were audience reactions to the violence, and at least one girl left the theater in tears. Which I can understand. I was prepared for it. I knew where to close my eyes.

Oh, oh, I am totally going to go see this again. In fact, at least twice. I was so afraid I'd be disappointed in this, considering how much I've been looking forward to it, but I wasn't.

Goldie. She says her name is Goldie. She smells like angels ought to smell.

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 --

(Taken from

Interestingly, I can't get to either or 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?

April 7, 1996

To Do Before Leaving for

To Do Before Leaving for Scotland, a list, by jo

  • Get new glasses

  • Go to the Muttart Conservatory with friends

  • Go to Fort Edmonton

  • Spend an afternoon with various friends

  • Find a way to get my cat to my parents - West Jet will take him for 40$ plus tax

  • Visit Jenn, Tom and Carla, my parents, and anyone else who takes it into their head to move to Vancouver

  • Get my Working Holiday Visa for the UK.
  • Price out plane tickets

  • Get rid of all the clothing I don't want anymore

  • Donate all the stuff I have sitting around waiting to be donated, including office supplies and furniture
  • Return various boxes of stuff to Barry, Kris, P.A.L.S., and Joe
  • Give the people who have laid claim on the rest of my furniture the stuff they want
  • Call the Student Trash People to haul away all the broken furniture
  • Wash the walls of the apartment clean - they are covered in various chalk drawings
Edit as of April 14, 2005: Found out the Heart and Stroke foundation will be very happy to take in my office supplies. Yay!

Edit as of May 1, 2005: Did a bunch of stuff this month, loved every second of it

Edit as of May 21, 2005: Sent off forms for Visa. Now all I can do is wait. And not spend the 3500$ in my bank account until there is a visa for me. God, waiting waiting waiting....

About Edmonton

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Anna Overseas in the Edmonton category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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