Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Welcome home!

Woo, Florida-land!
I love arriving in Orlando, it feels like arriving at my other home. I love wearing summer clothes again, I love falling asleep in the sun reading, I love sweating, and I love two-hundred-thousand-million other things too!

I also have the nicest banker ever here. She remembers me from opening a bank account SIX (!!!) years ago, then pissing around with random investments, attaching family members to my account, etc. I've probably seen her four times in my life, but she's such a pleasant person!

Amateur traveller mistakes so far: blisters, and forgetting to pack band-aids and face wash. Apparently the sandals I wore for two summers straight now hate me and are slowly trying to eat my feet. I wish for them not to succeed.

I also had a tv dinner thing for supper sitting on the pretty bed in my hotel room while watching the Golden Girls. Living the dream, baby! GG was appropriate as the show is set in Florida (though I believe Miami, not in Lake Buena Vista with the I-4's traffic blabbering in the background). Note: I plan on eating excessively and blowing too much money at the Food & Wine Festival so don't think, "Pfft, some vacation," based on my food choices. At Epcot, I will eat ALL the food and drink ALL the drink.

Signs of being in Florida-land (adding 'land' to the end of place names makes them seem more fun and magical!):

- I was at a mall that I can easily see from my hotel room window. Getting there requires two bus rides or an hour walk.

- The frozen food section(s) of the grocery store had more product than a few convenience stores combined.

- Buffets everywhere. Coupons for $1 off also everywhere. Good chance indigestion and heart burn is also everywhere.

- People wearing jackets and pants in 25C heat. A few ladies were seen wearing proper boots with jeans. I was seen sweating and wearing as little clothing as legally possibly.

- The tap water tastes like pool water that a donkey just peed in. Delicious.

- Hard, prickly grass that is very uninviting for laying on and reading a book.

- Smile on my face. Like this --> :D

- A herd of people trying to get into Giradhelli's chocolate shop so they can get a free sample. I suspect 0.0005% of 'shoppers' actually buy something. Half of those purchases probably melt in the sun.

- Earl of Sandwich! (Erin - I'm waiting for you! Hence awkward tv dinner.) (Brother - I may order the chicken caesar in your honour.) (Everyone else - hello! Thanks for reading. You are beautiful in your own special way.)

- Pick Out the British Tourist - one of my favourite games. It's just so easy and obvious.

In an unrelated note, I advise against watching the entire first season of Lost right before boarding a flight. Every time I un-did my seat belt I pictured the plane dropping and me smashing into the ceiling, or when I was in the washroom, the plane ripping in two and me being stuck with the tail-end survivors. As I have not yet seen season 2, I'm not sure how they fare, but I know they exist due to my Lost/wikipedia addiction. I need to be stranded with a doctor, former member or the Iraqi Republican Guard, and former paraplegic, please. I have no survival skills and am scared of fire, I need those people.That's all, typing on my phone is annoying and the free wifi is rather cranky. Vacation rocks the body that rocks the party!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Last Chapter

Big Fish, where the end is pretty good.
Note: not so well written, but sometimes revisions and rewrites can't capture emotional moments.

Deviating from my usual 'make the people laugh LOL LOL LOL OMG' objectives, something not so wonderful happened - my grandfather passed away a little over 24 hours ago. I missed the initial phone call as I was out embracing my secret weekend Bar Star identity. It didn't matter that I don't have caller id or voice mail, I knew right away what the call was when I saw at 2:30am that I had missed a call. Cue intense dreams for the six-hour sleep that followed.

Death has not really, fortunately, touched my life very much, therefore, when it does, I feel like a confused eight-year old and put on my brave face to cover my racing head. And, I tend to use a lot of commas and start sentences with prepositions (Bad Jennifer!)

Not being well versed in the 'ideal death', I figure this one went as smoothly as it could. Our Thanksgiving weekend trip to Quebec City was cancelled last minute (very literally), Big Brother was flown home as it was realised the text of Grampie's last chapter was starting to flow.

Old age...

The last chapter - the chapter that is written once you know the conclusion is coming - was long enough to come to grips that the end was presenting itself and to mentally prepare for good bye, but it was short enough that Grampie was (hopefully) not stuck feeling like his soul was slowly being taken for days, weeks, or months on end. It is also comforting to know he was ready to go and knew it was coming. He commented to my papa (his son in law) that when he saw his own reflection in the mirror he could see there wasn't a lot of life left behind his eyes. He expressed that he was looking forward to being with my grandmother again soon (who died in 1999). In a moment of discomfort, my mum said to him, "Don't worry, you'll be with Mom soon," and he responded,

"Yes, and I can't wait to see her again."

Upon my mum telling me this, my heart snapped into 846.5 pieces. It makes my eyes leak, but it was comforting. To see death not as an absolute end, but the gateway to another beginning.

Death is the one absolute question in life that you cannot answer. No one knows what it's like. You can see people die and react to it, but you can never get into the mind of that person in those last moments. Even near death experiences are probably not the same. A near-death experience may not have the final acceptance of your own death. And since you never know, you can create your own image of what death might be like.

I believe right before death, there is a very beautiful moment. It could be a flash, it could be a solid minute. Maybe it's in a dream. But a beautiful moment that takes place between the body's struggle to keep moving and it's acknowledgement that the fight is over - not lost, just over. That's when you have your beautiful moment. Knowing pain has vanished, awaiting your afterlife, and feeling free. I think in that moment you see beauty and feel the stress lift from you. I can't explain what the beauty looks like; it might not look like anything, but it's that feeling that washes over you when you're so happy you feel like your soul and heart are smiling. It's almost like arriving to the door of a house knowing what's on the other side is exactly what you want and taking a moment before you open the door to recognize once you walk in, everything will be perfect. It will be exactly how you want it, and everyone you love is waiting for you on the other side. That moment before death is like the moment outside the door. You made it and the success of making it lies on the other side. A celebration or a welcome home. Burdens, sorrows, and weights have been left behind. The faces on the inside will be happy to see you, not be sad with mourning washed over them.

Grampie knew what was inside that house and was looking forward to going there. Sitting at the bottom of the lane, waiting for the fence to open and invite him in. So now his fence has dropped, he has made his way up the lane, and I hope he's in the house and he's at peace and feels smiles, beauty and happiness in his soul.

In rambling, incoherent conclusion, I suggest you watch the most beautiful death scene from a beautiful, wonderful movie: Big Fish. I'm not putting words together very well because sometimes deep feelings don't translate well to bloggie blog text. (And yes, this video is worth ten minutes. It's worth twenty, even. Watch it twice. Oh, then watch the whole movie so the ending makes sense.)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Weekend predictions

The last time I was in Quebec City, for mere hours.
It's October long weekend! Thanksgiving weekend, for all the non-Canadian readers. Historically this was celebrated by Europeans giving groups of aboriginals small pox and burning their homes. Now we celebrate by eating too much, laying on the couch, and rolling around on the floor playing with the family pet. It's weird, no one questions it when Kitty is sleeping or stretched out on the floor, but everyone feels the need to turn it into a conversation topic when I do it. ("Fascinating, tell me, what was her childhood like?")

There is also another tradition among my immediate family over Thanksgiving and other long weekends - take off and play. Example: Easter is a four-day weekend. I have no idea when I was last in the same province country as my parents on Easter. Last year I road a camel on a desert safari on Easter Day. My parents were in Arizona eating tacos with illegal Mexican immigrants.

This Thanksgiving my wee family will all be in the same province! In the same hotel room, even! Dear Brother is departing Upper Canada, we're taking off from the Isle, and we're rendez-vous-ing (I'm practicing my French) in Quebec City. Or, as those from the province of Quebec call it, "Quebec". Confused? So are the anglophones who don't have the luxury of differentiating via direct pronoun or lack of direct pronoun. ('Le Quebec" = province, "Quebec" = city, "La Quebec" = MASSIVE FRENCH GRAMMATICAL ERROR)

PS: don't think this means you can break into our homes. People will be there. They will beat you with a baseball bat coated in rusty nails that have been dipped in gonorrhea.

During my 28 years on Earth, I've gotten to know my family quite well. Thus I have a fairly accurate idea of what will happen this weekend.
  • My parents will want to toss me from the car for reading aloud every single sign we drive through Quebec (the province). I like reading French signs with an over exaggerated French accent.
  • I will not be responsible for any early morning driving shifts because I don't understand things before 9:30am.
  • Brother will dedicate himself to finding all the English television stations.
  • At some point Father and I will wander away and secretly eat really greasy, bad-for-you food, washed down with a glass of goose fat. Brother will binge eat 90 bags of chips. Father and I will instantly gain 5lbs of fat, each. Brother will somehow increase his muscle mass and reduce his cholesterol.
  • We will go to a mall. If it's sunny, I'll feel guilty for being inside on a nice day. If it's not sunny, I'll feel guilty for making Papa and Brother wait, even if we are planning on buying matching coats. (Although apparently double breasted coasts are bad for my body shape, which is so weird, because I have two breasts.)
  • If someone brings cards, we'll probably have to play poker. I don't enjoy folding (folding = not playing and sitting silently) so I either win everything or lose within fifteen minutes and then roll around on the floor playing with the family pet. In this case, Pet won't be available so I'll just wander the hallways until I find a stray.
  • Someone will vomit or not feel well. Traditionally that was me in earlier family vacations. Then Jeff beat me by developing, ugh, MONO while we dragged him all over Central Florida in 1994. We didn't know he had it until we got home; Parents thought he was just being grumpy and teenagerish; I thought he was going to slaughter me. This time I predict it will be Father because he has some weird elbow thing happening.
  • Someone will lose something. Likely a sock. (Jennifer or Roy.)
  • Someone will spill something (traditionally Jeffrey - see Milk Pouring Crisis of 1994-1997).
  • Someone will get food on his shirt. (Roy.)
  • There will be snoring (Papa!) - followed by yelling (Brother!)
I might turn this into a bingo game and distribute it to people around us.

I'm actually quite excited as I have spent minimal time in Quebec (both with the 'le' and without) beyond Gatineau and have spent minimal time with Brother this year. I also get to prove to my family that I'm not bilingual, but can usually avoid getting overly confused by the French language. Anything I don't understand I shall use the excuse, "Oh, I'm much more accustomed to the Acadian or South France accent."

Happy Thanksgiving! Give thanks, and thank that you are able to give. (MacPhail proverb written during the tragic years of prohibition and rum wealth.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

"A dream is a wish your heart makes"

Post named after a song from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Cinderella. Whoops, apparently Snow White just sings about wishing in a more general way. Although both movies are somewhere in my or my parents' house, I was never a huge fan of either. However, I felt I had to own them after I learned the first release of The Little Mermaid on VHS was worth lots of money about five years after its release. I would buy all the Disney movies, then sell them for trillions of dollars.

FACT: most of these movies are on VHS and now worth about $3 at Value Village. Millionaire scheme of a 12-year old down the drain. Thanks, technology!

MORE FACT: some of those movies really, really sucked. Have you ever heard a child proclaim his/her favourite movie to be Fun & Fancy Free or The Three Caballeros? To be fair, both of these films were produced during World War II - not exactly a thriving era due to animators, staff, etc., being recruited to save the world. Or they had ulterior motives of strengthening US - Latin American ties.

I wish I could say I wasn't into princess movies because I was a feminist at the age of 5 when I first viewed most of them, but they actually all had scary bits I didn't like.

  • Snow White: being chased into the woods by a hitman.
  • Cinderella: evil, mean step-sisters who ripped up Cinderella's dress. As I side note, I thought the ripped dress was prettier than the actual bow-covered dress.
  • Sleeping Beauty: I saw it when I was sick on the couch at a young age. Lots of fire. A big dragon. I hated it. And truthfully, I thought the first part was boring. I did, however, like how the ends of her hair were curly.

Based on Cinderella's wisdom that she sang to her mice and bird friends, my heart is currently wishing for (based on recent dreams):

  • A visit to the dentist.
  • Walking nachos on the ferry home from the dentist.
  • An accidental pregnancy that turns out to be me just getting fat and not being pregnant.
  • To win a free cruise to the Mexican Riviera on the Disney Wonder.
  • To play in a frisbee tournament, and drop all the passes made to me while my parents watched, embarrassed.
  • To win other prizes that I now can't remember.
  • To go skating.
  • To attend school on Victoria Row.
So deep, Heart, thanks!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life isn't over just because September looms.

I feel like I'm coming into the last weekend of the summer. Although I'm not going back to school (although I think about it every year around this time - apparently you have to apply in, like, February pffft), a shift always takes place.

I feel like things revolve around PEI and I in the summer. So many friends return to PEI for at least a week, like an annual pilgrimage to a land of sandy, over-taxed glory. All that I need to do is sit still and let happiness revolve around me. Then mid September hits, friends have returned to school either as students or teachers, visitors have stopped coming, and I start desperately planning vacations to visit people near-far, kinda-far, and very-far away.

Islanders have been complaining about the weather a lot this summer. As Canadians, it is our duty to feel that Mother Nature is constantly trying to ruin our lives. It is far too common to hear, "Not much of a summer, eh?"


(Although I was in a bad mood one day in late May, and last Sunday night.)

But this summer has been fantastic. People people people everywhere! I don't think I was ever bored for more than fifteen minutes. I feel like I wasn't able to fit everything in. I wanted to see more of people, see more people, do more things. More ^ 3.

In an effort to be an optimist, here is a list of why [my] life won't suck between September and Christmas.

  • Visitors! - People still come in the fall-shoulder season, just not as many. While this summer has been sprinkled with new visitors every fortnight, I still have one awesome former co-castmember visitor from Ottawa (allo Char!) still on the to-arrive list.
  • Friend displacement. - Last year my friend inventory dropped rather dramatically at the end of the summer and through October. In response, I spent the equivalent of a small, under-developed country's GDP on plane tickets and actually made some new friends... and moped really hard for one whole weekend. It was boring. This year, although many people have already left or will be leaving soon, the distances required to visit most of these people have greatly diminished. In fact, most of them are even in the same time zone or one time zone away... and in North America.
  • VACATION!! - I tend not to take a lot of vacation in summer months because I let the people come to me. This must be how Jesus feels every Sunday morning when people go to church! In late October I'm heading to the magical vacation world of central Florida with former co-castmember Erin. Why? Because my (our) heart throbs for rides, fireworks, pixie dust, and saving the US economy via retail love and duty-free booze.
  • MORE VACATION TO PLAN!!!! - I'm looking at you, Central America and Aeroplan points. Voy a estudiar mis libros de espanol esta hibierno. (This is actually 2012, but prep-work will take place prior.
  • More writing. - Evidently, I don't write a lot in the summer. I'm too busy having fun with visitors, friends, strangers, unrecognized strains of bacteria, etc. I quite like writing and feel not writing here actually makes my writing quality at work dwindle, and I find it harder to focus. So look forward (or not - though I suggest you do) to more postings. As I'm my own biggest fan, I also look forward to more posts and reading them down the road when I'm procrastinating about stupid things, like going to bed.
  • Velo love. - I haven't biked nearly as much this summer as last. I attribute some of this to the fact I started [trying to] play ultimate frisbee once or twice a week. I attribute more of it to the fact that the Biking for Breakfast Challenge (aka PEI tip to tip in one day) was cancelled, so I wasn't actually training for anything specific. I expect life to die down a wee bit over the coming weeks, which equals more bike time. My summer velo bucket list needs some more items scratched off.

So remember, friends, life isn't over just because September arrives. Sure life actually does end for some things (fruit flies... f-ing buggers) but we should be able to trudge along nicely. First we get a long weekend, then a Beer Festival, ice cream (not to say you can't eat ice cream now, but I'm sure you'll eat it in September too), Thanksgiving long weekend, Remembrance Day long weekend, my birthday long weekend (trying to make it official with the provincial federal government), people start coming home for Christmas break, then it's Jesus's birthday, then we go skating and snow shoeing, and then it's summer!!!

Yay, semi-fake optimism!

Here is a picture of a donkey to wish you a happy weekend. (What do you mean it's only Wednesday? Tears.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Things I learned in drivers ed.

I started writing this a few weeks ago. Summer is distracting.

Today is the six-month anniversary of me owning a car! In honour of Car's birthday, she is going to the garage to find out why her 'check engine' light is exposing itself. She has been driven about 40 kilometres and has gone through one third of a tank of gas.

Not really, but apparently I don't drive very much. However, the past month was record setting with Car creeping into Nova Scotia (her homeland), heading to the north eastern tip of the island, heading into Anne's Land, and getting lost/confused twice on the same day up Chelton/Crapaud/Summerside way (PEI = awkward road signs). I also drove downtown twice. In related news, Bicyclette is earning her some lovin' between my legs. In other related news, Lady Velo is not having nearly enough fun this summer. (Bicyclette = commuter, sexy hybrid bike, Lady Velo = zippy, sexier road bike.) I don't blame having a car for lack of bike love, I blame hyper-socialization and me saying yes to, basically, anything that won't get me pregnant, sent into space (I don't deal well with isolation), or cause a disruption in the space-time continuum.

All this driving and responsibility reminds me of drivers ed. The small, important things that some people might forget.
  • Go faster!/"Keep up with the flow of the traffic." - One of our drivers ed class took place on the Trans Canada Highway. One student would drive out to the Confederation Bridge, and the other student would drive back to Charlottetown. I honestly don't remember if I drove to the Bridge or back (I think back?) but I remember very clearly the driver instructor telling me to go faster. The curves of the roads were designed to be taken at the speed limit and higher, I didn't need to slow down. She also said, "This is probably the only time you will ever hear someone telling you to drive faster." She was wrong actually, my papa was telling me the same thing in slightly different words ("Keep up with the flow of the traffic!") when he was driving me to get my beginners licence photo taken. Then he rear ended someone. He exceeded the flow.
  • Who/what Jean Chretien really cares about. - Our in-class instructor was discussing the history of seatbelts laws and why they exist. He said, "You know what Jean Chretien [at the time Prime Minister] cares about if you slam directly into a telephone poll?" and my friend's older brother answered, "The telephone poll!" The instructor said Ellery was probably right, along with (the answer he was looking for) health care costs. I also agree Ellery was probably right. Bringing down a telephone poll causes phone line problems - this was 1998 so mobiles weren't common - and electricity problems. Given that it basically takes two people sneezing at the same time to put out the power in PEI, it is a rather valid concern.
  • No moose here! - One chapter of our book discussed dangers of driving in Canada, with our abundance of wild life. The in-class instructor paused as the book specifically mentioned moose and prancing deer. A very valid concern for much of Canada, but not for us. He said, "Well, I guess you should watch out for Clydesdale horses or something?" I laughed (along with everyone else) and couldn't help but picture a clydesdale in show, with his mane all done up, trotting fancily down the road neighing, "Good day, ma'am," as I passed on my penny-farthing. For those unfamiliar with the clydesdale, think of the Budweiser commercials. I've also attached this photo below. I have added a stick figure to help you get a scale of how big the horse is. The scale may be slightly off, but when I was four-years old, this is actually what it felt like. Horse = giant killing machine.

  • Blinkers! - You're supposed to signal when a passing lane ends to show that you're merging back into the single lane. A sign for other cars that the passing opportunity is over, and don't f-ing rear end me.
  • The chapter that actually tells you how to operate the machine/car. - We skipped this chapter. We probably shouldn't have, as my car knowledge was quite non-existent. I assumed my parents drove a standard because the shifty apparatus was between the two sweats, and not by the steering wheel like their previous car.
  • There is no such thing as an accident. - It's probably almost true. I'm sure 99.9% of car 'accidents' could be avoided if drivers paid attention more and drove properly, like they did in their drivers test so long ago.

With all these great lessons I learned from drivers ed, I am now a very competent driver. Although about six months after I got my licence I backed into another car in my drive-way. It was dark... and I was really excited because I was going out to buy a Halowe'en costume (a jedi... yes, I may had been a bit geeky). But my more so real accident was driving to school in grade 11 shortly after being licenced with Brother and a friend. I was KEEPING UP WITH THE FLOW OF THE TRAFFIC (just like my papa!) and rear ended someone. Just like my papa. Yay!

Friday, June 17, 2011

It's summertime! Booty shake.

It's summer!

Kind of.

According to Environment Canada, it's 8C. According to my window and the puddles, it's raining. So, it's kind of sort of possibly starting to be summer. Just a wee bit. However, since weather is a poor indicator of seasonal change that is merely based on a calendar date and the Earth's position relative to the sun, I offer you the following items that are actual signs of summer. Also, trivia that I picked up at Churchill Arms over the winter (note: also won a free beer for knowing Beauty and the Beast was the seventh longest running play on Broadway): in Sweden the change of seasons is actually weather based and not calendar based. Summer starts when the average daily temperature has been at least 10C for seven consecutive days. Based on this logic, it is still spring in Charlottetown. Spring starts with seven consecutive days of an average of at least 0C. That means even spring probably has not yet started in Charlottetown.

Just kidding! I referenced Environment Canada's historic data (one of my favourite geek-things to do), and spring started on April 24. Also, there is a good chance 'summer' will start tomorrow. This is where I have a minor problem with the Swedish method... Summer? Really? The standard should be raised to a mean of 15C for seven consecutive days. However, that would be depressing, because summer wouldn't start until July 23 and would end on July 48th (new day based on my calendar enhancements of extending July and August by 15 days each and eliminating the month of November).

I give you, signs of summer.
  • Biking attire: can get away with not wearing multiple layers, full fingered gloves, and wool socks for at least three consecutive rides. Note: this has not happened yet.
  • Rickshaw Guy: seeing him around town on weekend nights. Happened once so far on a Thursday, but clearly he shivered and left town for a bit.
  • Patios: Old Triangle patio becomes very busy. I feel like I should get priority seating due to frequenting the establishment year round as opposed to on sunny days only. Also, watch out if you see my workmates and I there. Last time we somehow broke the picnic table we were sitting at? From now on we weigh people before we hire them. (Just kidding... from now on we don't stuff 9 people onto a medium-sized, frail picnic table.)
  • Dresses, skirts, shorts: upon returning from North African/Middle East holiday at the end of April I decided I was not going to wear pants anymore! Summer had started. Well, that was an unfortunate, unintentional lie. But soon.. Soon! Right now we have to settle for capri season... occasionally with boots.
  • June bugs: I hate them. A lot. They make me act girly and emit high pitch noises from my mouth and swot at the air. However, they haven't really appeared much this year, thus, it's not yet summer. Fact: Lady June Bugs spend about two weeks laying up to sixty eggs and do have a lifespan of longer than one day. Ack.
  • "It's so nice out!" I can't help it, I say this about twice per hour on nice days. I probably said it 589 times last Saturday while a friend squealed, "I'm so happy!" in response almost every time. Wind blockage + direct sunlight = win(-sunburnlevel).
  • Forgetting to wear clothes: I like wearing my bathing suit all day. Sometimes I forgot it's not appropriate to wear it into shops (PEI isn't Hawai'i?), particularly when stopping for ice cream on the way home from the beach. This also hasn't happened yet, thus, still spring.
  • Urge to flash/moon people: I get funny tan lines and apparently want to share them inappropriately to the world. Unfortunately, male mooning is always hilarious, and female mooning tends to be looked upon as a lil slutty. The only way I can think to fix this issue is to draw a picture of a cute duke on the exposed skin. "Stupid, skanky chick... OH MY GOD! A drawing of a cute duck! She is amazing and we must be her friend due to her love of water fowl and the arts."

Note: I write this last week, updated it last night, and am now posting it today. Unfortunately it got too cold last night and it's not summer today. Today the seven-day count restarts at day 1. Hoping for summer start on June 24!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Let's get physical!

Nothing like stealing song lyrics when you can't think of a proper title.

As one of the my last posts pertained to the Red Island Relay and a few people asked me how it went, here is our very dramatic conclusion!

I biked. It went well.

I biked again a bit later. It went very well.

I kayaked right after that. It went pretty well.

Then I ran over the finish line and no one paid attention or clapped, so I thought about dramatically collapsing onto the ground in hopes someone would notice me. Instead I just walked back to the kayak to help Heidi with stuff and fetch my discarded clothing. No, I did not do the kayak naked (would I have gotten bonus points? Or at least more acknowledgement on our dramatic finish), but had shed my sneaks, socks, and extra long sleeves pre-kayak after my wobbly run down from the bike finishing area.

The end.

Ooooh, more detail requested? Okee.

People run goooood.

Weather was a bit chilly for the first couple of legs, but the wind was calm and not many specks of rain had fallen. I was powering on an awesome 4.5 hours of sleep (it's how I roll, baby cakes) but was feeling good. Unfortunately, I basically have no pictures of the event or participating, slight disadvantage of being on a two-person team.

First leg is the 7.7ish-km run. Heidi did that, and Heidi did wonderful! However, upon running back into the transition area, her devil horns popped out and she sneared at me, "Get this damn thing off of me!" referring to the ankle strap that had our timing chip. I obliged, waved, and cheerily biked away. Advantage of two-person team: if your partner (temporarily) hates you, it doesn't matter because you won't see her/him for more than thirty seconds anyway.

Second leg (Aka J-Mac leg no. 1) was about 27 km of biking on the road. Last year I didn't complete this leg due to an unfortunate flat tired (le sad), but this year, I am happy to report that my only flat took place before the race, and wasn't my fault at all. The lovely Sporting Intentions people were pumping up my bike tires (I had my own pump, but theirs cost about 6x as much as mine and was about 400x better than mine) and managed to rip the valve right off the tube when taking the pump valve off. On the plus side, they fixed my flat for me! And I was well prepared with spare tubes for both bikes. Anyway, my bike adventure took me about 1:01:19 (good enough to place 13 of 18 two-person teams, and second among two-female teams, which I was pumped about as I wanted to do it in about an hour, and figure I spent almost a minute in the transition area ripping the ankle strap off Heidi. I also passed people, which helped my self esteem. They don't say it in school during health class, but being faster can make you feel better about yourself. Write that down.

Next up was more running by Heidi. Not gonna lie, I was not envious at all and was so happy she was running. As previously mentioned to many people, I run only when being chased, or when chasing something ($20 bill blowing down the street). This run was about 10 km, which would be about 11 more than I would wish to run. Heidi was in good spirits when I got back, and took off, running of course.

While Heidi was off on her second leg, I did important things like sit in my warm car and listen to music while eating/rehydrating, changed into a completely new 'outfit' for the next leg, and stood under the warm hand dryer in the washroom because I was shivering and so chilly it was making my boobs hurt. Hence the new, dry clothes.

When Heidi came back from long leg no. 3, she stated that she hated me for making her do this. I, again, smiled, waved, and biked away. Once I reached kilometre 0.0003, my legs started burning and I kept thinking about the 2010 Olympics where suddenly every commentator had become an expert on lactic acid, particularly during the speedskaters' 5,000 M. This leg would be about 19 km and was on the Confederation Trail. I bopped along, panting (on both legs I basically sounded like I was developing asthma on-the-fly), singing a bit, and then panting some more since I lacked the lung capacity to bike as fast as I could and sing. In the end, my ride was 49:39 which is a bit slower than last year, but my parents still love me anyway. I came 7th (!!!!) in the two-person category, and first among two-female teams. I feel like I'm bragging, but I'm just excited because, oh, here is a secret, other than school and test marks, I've never been first in anything. Ever. Unless you count races against cousins within a month after they learned to walk. And I will admit, there were only four two-female teams. But I'm still excited anyway.

Last up was the kayak. I screwed up our time by "running" out the entrance instead of exit, and then got all flustered when the timer man glared at me with eyes of rage and anger. And by "run", I mean "pathetic jog" since my legs were a rubbery burning mess. Our kayak went well, and Heidi didn't hate me anymore (yay!). It's about 6 km, and took us 48:43 which we were both pleased with given our lack of kayaking experience. Annnnnd, here's the kicker....

We won medals for being third in our division!

Yes, third out of four teams in our division, but I don't care. The only medals I ever got weren't really 'earned', but received because everyone in the league got one at the end of season. Move aside T-Ball Summer 1986, your spot has been taken.

I love us!

PS: Heidi, I stole your picture and put it online for the whole world to see.

PPS: Bike outfit number one was much prettier and much more flattering. It deserved a first-place medal for "Hheeeeeey, baby!"

PPPS: I didn't proof read this as I missed my goal bedtime by one hour. C'est la vie. Like the bottle of wine I bought last weekend, called, C'est la Vie.
The end.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Jen & Graham's Magical Bike Ride Adventure

Let's ride bikes!

View Larger Map

That route looks good. Zoom out and it'll look a little more impressive. The entire route is about 67 kilometres and would apparently take 1.5 hours in a *le sigh* terribly boring, non-endorphin-releasing car. Little did we know upon leaving our homes (which are not at the grocery store like the map suggests) what great things would await us on our afternoon ride.

Kilometre 1: Bulk Barn stop. Bought trail mix as opposed to gummy worms and chocolate covered almonds because I wanted the cashier to think I am an impressive athlete.

Kilometre 3 -14: Bike into the wind, feel cold, and complain mentally to myself about how stupid June weather is being.

Kilometre 14.5: Get chased by a freakishly fast dog who doesn't understand basic English commands screamed by an angry woman, "AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" "Go away!" and "F--k OFF!!!!" Graham and I become unexpected sprinters and the dog keeps good pace. A car comes up behind us and starts honking at the Beast and it gets distracted. A car was also coming in the other direction and we can assume the dog is probably dead now or had at least had a near-death experience. Can't say I care, particularly as its owners watched it take off from the yard after us.

Kilometre 25ish: See that the road is ripped up at the National Park entrance and divert to what was an amazing experience...

Kilometre 31: Decide to stop at Stanhope Resort for a wee stretch of the legs and some trail mix gobble. However(!), come across an open house for the resort and instead eat half a cookie, mussels, and a few chips. I even have leftover chocolate in my pockets. Even better: sit inside and warm up for 15 minutes. Instantly shiver violently upon going back outside because I refuse to wear wool socks and a fleece while biking in JUNE.

Kilometre 32 - 37ish: Five kilometres of National Park bliss with a nicely paved trail parallel to the road. (Also rewarding: spelling parallel correctly on my first try. Oh yeeeah.)

Some other Point: Bike by a field of llamas (alpacas?) and they all turn and stare at us. Since Graham was already a bit ahead of me I didn't bother to stop and run up to the fence and become their favourite cyclist friend. Next time. By the way, also confused about the difference between an alpaca and llama?
The internet it here to help!

All the way home except Victoria Park "Victory Loop": amazing tail wind. Stop shivering.

Now: Come home, lay down on couch. Start shivering. Sit on the floor of my shower and let hot water rain down my head until I warm up.

I love weekends.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Goals for this Week

Hi friends!

Apparently lots of self-help "gurus"/"geniuses"/people-who-just-managed-to get-published suggest writing lists of goals. If it is written down, it is more likely to become a reality. I tried a slightly different twist on this and drew a picture of a beautiful birthday cake. I stared at it for awhile but it didn't turn into a real cake. When I ate it, it tasted like paper and pencil crayon.

Just kidding! I use markers, not pencil crayons.

Also, it took me three tries to spell crayon. Actually, just twice. I spelled it wrong and then spell-checked it and now feel the burning urge (not related to UTIs) to know the history of crayons and the word origin. But we'll save that for other day.

Goals for this Week - (many of which centre around the Red Island Relay)
  • Firstly, of course, become a strong, black woman. Strong white women aren't nearly as impressive as strong black women. I'm either going to need to take a trip to the skin dying section of the pharmacy or may have to settle for trying to convince people my colouring is actually that of a Mediterranean woman. In that case....
  • Become a strong Mediterranean woman. I just need to change my last name to pull this one off. And become strong. Very strong. Like Angry Italian Grandmother strong.
  • Caress my bike tires seductively and convince them to protect my bike tubes... like a strong Mediterranean woman would. Last year I borrowed a beautiful road bike for the Relay that was about to be donated to Cycling PEI. I took the darling Blue Lightning (I just came up with that name - one year too late) on her maiden voyage the night before the relay and all was good. A wee bit of tinkering with the seat and we high fived in excitement. The next day during the 26-km road leg I biked over what must had been a giant boulder (no bike pun intended, and was actually probably a rock the size of a cheap, cruddy diamond) and pffffffft the air was gone from my tire. This was well chronicled in a blog post last year, but the pain still remains. Papa even said to me (in dry sarcasm as only a MacPhail can do), "I don't think we'll bother to go watch any this year, no point in driving all the way to Brudenell just to see you get a ride in a dump truck."

  • Cool! That's me and my borrowed bike in a dump truck, getting a lift to the finish line. Hi Jennifer!!

  • Learn to control the weather. I don't even know how to approach this. However, I would like for the winds not to be ridiculous on Saturday, I would like minimal rain in the preceding days other wise my sexy hybrid tires will sink into the trail during the 'mountain bike' leg of the event. I also just want to see the sun more than once or (OMG!) twice per week. I miss it.
  • Be in good condition after the Relay. Heading to the wine festival a few hours afterwards. Need to be in top shape so I can wear heels as flats will look awkward with my dress. I shall wear the same dress as last year, as it's now stained with wine and jagerbombs so may as well continue to destroy it rather than wrecking something new. =smart.
  • Have an intelligent conversation in French. I get incredibly confident in my French skills when drinking wine, particularly French wine. I then talk to the French wine producers (though usually the booths are staffed by Canucks, but the odd person who has at least actually *been* to the winery is present) and attempt to seduce them with my stylings of a terrible anglophone French accent. Hasn't been successful yet - but could this be the year?!
  • Incorporate more colour into my wardrobe. This is generally an on-going goal.. to blind everyone who looks at me.
  • Potentially become an X-Men geek. I think I'd be good at it, but I would have a lot of years to catch up on. Basically this is directly related to watching Wolverine with Shannon last night, or, to quote me, "Ooh! The movie where Hugh Jackman is all hot and runs around naked in the woods!!" Shannon pointed out that particular scene was only a minute or two long. Apparently in my head I remembered that being most of the movie.
  • Don't get hit by a car/beastly motorised vehicle. I'm starting to keep track of how many cars cut me off when I'm dashing about town on my bike. Today I almost got hit by a giant Trius charter bus pulling out of the University into the round about right in front of me. The driver was on a mobile phone and politely waved at me when I braked hard and threw my hand in the air in exasperation at him. Glad I was watching closely. I don't think Jen + Bike would had won the battle against a 16-thousand billion ton bus. F-bomb.
  • Eat supper. It's 10:30pm and I haven't eaten supper yet. Whatever.

All these goals should become very true and real now, fore I have written them down. Hurrah!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I wish it were career day

Oh, hiiiiii!

Sometimes I go for stretches of time without writing. Generally this can be attributed to good weather, but that's not the case right now. Anyone who has been within 800 feet of me in the past 30 hours can pretty much feel the weather hate oozing out of my pores. Three days without seeing blue sky or sun, and having big winds pick at my hair pretty much means I have to be drugged in order to smile. Don't mess with my natural vitamin D intake and outdoor-playtime endorphin release. In a related note, I would never survive living up north during the darkest point of winter. You would find me sniffling in my bedroom hugging my blankets and pillows with a grip usually reserved for dictators clinging to power in a rebelling country.

Today I had a conversation with a friend and she told me a couple of the things she was told rocked about having children. We determined most of these things could be fulfilled through a pet (most likely a monkey), or dating Danny Bhoy.

(Specific clip selected due to out-siesta-ing every Spaniard on the planet during my last vacation. You napped for an hour? Well, I slept for most of a 7.5-hr train ride in the late morning through early evening. Take that, Juan y Laura-Maria!)

We didn't get very far in our conversation as I get incredibly distracted anytime Danny Bhoy pops up (if he ever pops up at my door and you have plans with me for that day, considered them cancelled). And subject matter changes quickly. We probably eventually talked about our feelings. I probably whined about the weather and collapsed dramatically on the floor due to rickets potentially developing in my legs as per lack of sun vitamin D deficiency. Then I typically feel guilty about whining since life is good and I have access to clean and always available tap water, have a [rented] home, a family, and two incredibly sexy bicycles.

In quite important news, I'm thinking about a career change. Ninja? Yes please!

Culturally insensitive? Yes. But dangerously beautiful? BIGGER YES.

When visiting Teachaah (not her real name... well, kinda) in Abu Dhabi, she showed me how to properly dress for the mosque we would be visiting the following day. While the face covering wasn't necessary, I asked her to show me how to do it. Instead of feeling like a shamed Arab woman (was that insensitive?), I felt like a ninja and felt the abaya (the main robe part) was perfect for hiding my weapons. But which Ninja Turtle to be inspired by? The grace of Leonardo and his slender katana swords? Useful for cutting both villains AND pizza. However, Donatello and his majestic bo staff (large stick) seems more traditional, like a fight in the woods again beautifully gingered vikings. Rafael has the fork things, which Wikipedia insists are called "sai". Say, what? While I admired Rafael's humour during my youth, one must get awfully close to her antagonist to effectively fight with only the large forks. Our last option is Michelangelo and his "nunchaku" (again, told to me by Wikipedia, we always called them "knunchucks"). While, as a ninja, I can hide many things under my "ninbaya" (cross between ninja and abaya), I think I will take the swords. They double as mirrors and can also be used for a quick hair cut when I meet that point of no return after not cutting my hair during the my eight-month long mission.

The Wikipedia write off also states who each Ninja Turtle is named after by stating, for example, "the Italian polymath, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, and painter, Leonardo da Vinci".

I kind of feel like an underachiever. If something/someone were to be named after me, Wikipedia would say, "Named after Jennifer, the eater, writer... something or other. Didn't she have a CD or something? No? That was Jennifer Lopez? Okay, let's wrap this article up."

On that note, I should be using my time wisely now, learning how to hide quietly in trees, and making ninja stars from aluminum foil leftover from housemate's wing order.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oops, mild jet (train?) lag

Right, so sleeping is hard. It's about 1:ooam (4 hrs later than home) and I'm wide awake. Not quite jet lag as I've been in this time zone since Wednesday morning. However, being sleep deprived and being unable to keep my eyes open when in a moving vehicle, I managed to sleep for what seemed like most of a 7-hour train ride today. If only workdays would pass so quickly.

Apparently my French accent is bizarre to the Moroccans. It used to be a French territory so French is, supposedly, still the language of business and government. For me, the hardest part of French has always being comprehending what others say, listening. The accent here isn't too hard to understand, but I apparently sound like a dieing koala or something.

Conversation with lady at train station:
Jen: Nous avons besoin de deux billets a Casa Voyageurs pour lundi, svp.
Femme: Quand?
Jen: Lundi.
Femme: Demain?
Jen: Non, lundi.
Femme: dimache? Ou demain?
Jen: Luuuuundi!
Femme: What?
Jen: Monday. A treize heure cinquante.
Femme: ah, the 18th. Premiere classe ou deuxieme class?

Ah, franglais. My teachers told me it would never suffice; lies!

Then we had bizarre attempts at trying to communicate the credit card machine was down. I stopped paying attention since Devin was to pay for the train tickets. So we spent almost all our cash on train tickets and (probably) getting ripped off by our Petit Taxi to our Riad (accommodation). And the bank machine at the gare (train station) was down. Oh, right, and I had spent almost all my money getting henna on my hand/arm the night before in Crazyville. Of course, my MacPhail genes ensured I smeared it about ninety times  before it dried. Apparently it'll last about 3 weeks, which means my purse and dress should be clean in early May.  i actually kept smearing the same bit, so most of it is quite good. After getting it done Devin pointed out getting it on the left hand (I'm right handed) probably would had been smarter. Devin = wise. But neither of us were wise enough to think of it prior.

Attempt at sleep no. 3, commence!

Maroc(k) on!

I'm typing this from my wee phone so all typos *must* be forgiven, otherwise you are permitted to read no further... Unless we are blood relatives or have known me for at least five years. Then you get a free pass.

Morocco is amazing! Particularly the yellow food that is becoming a trend on this holiday. On the flight over from Montreal to London, Devin and I were offered, shock, chicken or beef. I went beef because I think chicken is far more popular than it deserves to be. My beef was in a mushroom sauce with tinned mushrooms served with neon yellow rice. The neon rice stained the plastic container neon yellow, making me leery. (quote of flight, Devin: "This dessert tastes more like a brownie!!" Jen: "Umm, Devin, it is a brownie."

For brekkie on the plane we were served cake. We were told right after take off that we would be served supper ("dinner", but I like to keep my terminology East Coast) and a "snack". I think it was supposed to be a tiny loaf of banana bread, and when it was served to us I said too loudly "Cake for breakfast?" and the air line attendant laughed. I felt it was European appropriate, trying to pass off pastry as breakfast. But it was cake, so it was actually American hotel chain continental breakfat appropriate. ("La Quinta doughnut, cake, cakey doughnut, or doughnutty cake?")

More neon yellow food followed. I made fun of my AC meal before pealing off my chicken container on Royal Air Maroc, only to be greeted by neon yellow chicken and potatoes. Cue (too loud) laughter. However, neon yellow potatoes seem to be a Moroccan staple and are, how do you say... Absolutely delicious. Also important, they match the shirt I'm wearing. And would look amazing in my bright bedroom.

Customs officer: "Anything to declare?"
Jen: *holds up duty-free whiskey* "An f-ing party! Wooooo!"
CO: "Uh huh... Anything else?"
Jen: "Yes, thirty pounds of cooked neon yellow delicious potatoes... And a small party."

Friday's neon yellow food came in the form of delicious veggie tagine. Tonight's neon yellow was with my delicious lamb chops. They could just put the word "delicious" in front of every menu option and I would nod in agreement. The only thing I don't like is the olives served with every meal. I've probably been served 50 olives so far, including on the plane. I have eaten 0.5 olives, which was 0.25 too many.

Better than olives but not as good as winning the lotto is the juice. Fresh squeezed! No canned crap here. I had OJ in Marrakech that was made about 8 seconds earlier. I had strawberry juice with lunch yesterday that made me want to get up on the table and have a dance party. It was like someone crush 800 sstarwberries in a glass and handed it to me trying to get rainbows to burst from my chest. Success!

Marrakech was not quite total chaos, but minor chaos that works. Everyone and their donkey (literally) is everywhere. People, cars, animals, bicycles, and motorbikes all somewhat yield to each other without yielding at all. A common understanding that you will not get more room than you need and we will not touch each other. If you are a visitor, do not even consider trying to participate in any way other than on foot. To hire a car would be akin to a person with a peanut allergy swimming in a delicious vat of peanut butter (yum). Also, based on our cabs, seatbelts are for losers who are SCARED and WHIMPY. Some cabs have the seatbelt part, but good luck finding something it'll buckle into. If you are squirmish in traffic, it's best just to close your eyes, though then you may miss the morning coffee delivered through the drivers window, the Moroccan version version of the driveway.

C'est tout. Not really, but I'm worried this won't even post as it's linked through an email due to Blogger not loading on my phone.

Bon voyage!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Sir, are a no-good pile of rubbish.

Starting in 2002, PEI implemented an Island-wide waste management scheme. I don't believe it has evolved much since; though I think the proper placement of a Tim Horton's cup still can conjure debate. (It seems compostable, but has a waxy exterior. SO MANY OPTIONS.) We have a large black waste bin, a large green bin for compost, and two recycling bags - one for plastic/glass/stuff, the other for paper.

High five PEI!

Except when doing mass spring cleaning and sharing one bin among five or six people. I came home from the market on Saturday afternoon to find a large dumpster in my driveway. Some people may think, "Oh darn, eye sore," but I'm pretty sure my eyes lit up like a cat gifted a large bag of catnip. The chance to binge my house of garbage? And not cause my waste bin to overflow for the next month? Brilliant. Amazing. Sexy, even. Apparently my landlord planned to clean out our garage, which basically looked like a Home Depot graveyard with a series of miscellaneous appliances, wood, and the more odd industrial oven and restaurant supplies. I binged things and it felt good. And I will 100% admit to not sorting it. Guilty pleasure. I honestly do 100% support recycling, sorting, etc., but this was up there with the pleasure I get from the odd Saturday or Sunday-afternoon drive. I try not to drive a lot (boo! driving! bad!) but I actually love driving on country roads with little traffic or divided highways in New Brunswick or Nova Scotia (speed limit is higher there than Ontario and Quebec). If I behave well 98% of the time, is it okay to slack 2%?

(This is when I imagine someone scolding me and saying, "I misbehaved once and now I have HERPES!")

That's all. I wrote this post eight hours ago and don't remember the direction in which it was going.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sculpted, beautiful nudity

Oh, how I have missed you my blog! I'm pretty much my own biggest fan (convenient, stalking oneself is so easy) and was disappointed at my lack of writing over the past two months. I fully blame myself; I've been trying to go to bed earlier which takes away from late night writing time. I have also been a bit sick for the past 10 days and spent most of my time either working or laying in bed spooning my pillows. Related: I'm an expert Big Spoon (or Spooner). If you are a fantastic Little Spoon (or Spoonee), drop me a line. Just be warned you'll wake up with me latched onto you and possibly drooling on your back. In some cultures drool is a sign of respect and admiration, and like passing well wishes onto someone in a very special/literal way. I'm not sure which cultures, but surely there must be at least one... Ideally, candidates should be male.

The downside of being sick (apart from actual being sick part) is that it's so isolating. Days and nights are spent either alone in ones office or alone in ones bedroom. Then you hear about a news story that eventually makes it to press that someone died in her apartment and no one realised for five months. You start wondering why people don't miss you and realise it's only been, like, three days. One friend who knew I was sick brought me popsicles ("This is the weirdest request I ever heard from a sick person,") which was more symbolic and meaningful than the birth of babies via stork delivery.

But anyway, I'm almost better. On Thursday I will be 100% better, tomorrow 96.4% better. Frankly, sleeping up to 12 hours a day/night is wasting my time and I am accomplishing nothing other than supporting the pharmaceutical industry through my dependency on cold/flu meds and cough syrup. I am so sick of the taste of cough syrup. My disgust alone should be enough to will away the last bits of cold particles.

On Saturday night/Sunday morning I kept having dreams of rejection. "You aren't good enough to be in the club!" "You can't hang out with us!" You kind of feel like garbage when you wake up from dreams of people telling you that you suck. How it related to life at that moment was so obvious that I felt like rolling my eyes and saying, "Really, dream? That was the best you could do? Get a bit more creative, please." Then the next night I had a dream that I had before long ago, shortly after a break-up/departure of an ex-boyfriend. This time in my dream I recognized that I had been there before, saw the ex-boyfriend there, and knew I had to change the ending of the dream and trick him into leaving. I'm not sure if I succeeded or not, but I woke up a bit confused to what year it was. ("Aloha 2009!")

Since I like to have some sort of point to posts, instead of, "My name is Jennifer and I like to write about my feelings!" (note: I actually don't like to write about my feelings, I would rather you leave with a smile on your face and a chuckle of laughter burning in your throat) today's post is about naked statues.

Oh, Poseidon - so manly! I want to bite you.

Featured above is Poseidon - Greek God of the Sea, Neptune in Roman Mythology. He bears little resemble to my first experience with someone by the name of Neptune: Sailor Neptune.

I am Sailor Neptune, not Poseidon. I am focused and determined and this is not the star crystal you are looking for. Move along.

I'm not a huge art fan. I respect the talent required to create a painting, and I enjoy standing extremely close and looking at the many layers required to create depth, colour, shadow, etc., but I couldn't spend all day happily strolling through an art museum. I do, however, like statues. In museums, on street corners, where ever. But I do sometimes wonder why Greek/Roman Gods and Goddesses are often naked. I can't imagine someone approaching me and saying, "I admire you, you do wonderful things, you must be remembered forever in a replicated stone carving of yourself..."

I, bashful yet proud, concede that yes, I am a wonderful person, and the people must remember me.

"Wonderful!" says the Sculptor. "I will create a naked, 8-foot tall tribute to you. I may save you some embarrassment and place a small maple leaf over your left nipple and a piece of seaweed over your lady bits, but I will still leave unflattering rolls and your ass crack. People will love you!"

Maybe it's harder to create a naked person? Does doing so give you more credibility as an artist? I know from drawing that it was always easiest to draw bodies covered in clothing, and the hardest part was always hands and faces. Clothes can look like anything, people parts have to actually look like people parts since we all know what they should look like. In fact, I can't help but wonder if the Nike statue ever had a head. Maybe the person creating it got frustrated and lobbed it off in anger.

Heads and hands are hard to perfect.

(I think this statue is beautiful and apparently it's housed at the Louvre, which I skipped on all three of my visits to Paris. Only now do I feel guilty. Sorry, Goddess of Victory, I am unvictorious in seeing you.)

To the person who may eventually create a naked statue of me, I have a few requests.

First, I want a lot of hair. Massive, wavy, voluptuous hair with side-swept fringe. It needn't be long, just wide and tall. I must be wearing my Jesus sandals, for they are part of my soul. I would like to look powerful and brave; this can be accomplished by giving me a war wound on my upper right thigh and claw marks on the left side of my core. If you are having trouble making my rear look flattering, I am not opposed to wearing a cape.

You don't need to include the scar on my back. It's from having a mole removed. Not very exciting. You do, however, need to include the long scar on my thigh delivered by Kitty 17 years ago. If my teeth are visible I wouldn't mind having braces. I never had braces and I think they look kind of cute on adults.

While I don't need six-pack abs, I wouldn't mind you taking a bit of artist creativity and shearing off a smidgen of my beer belly. Also, don't give me a belly button piercing. I don't like them. If you must be creative, give me wings or a keytar. Me riding an elephant would also not be discouraged.

Above all, do not sculpt any ingrown hairs. They hurt and leave scars.

Thank you.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Let's do coffee!"

Sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out on something by not being a coffee drinker. When someone is curled up by her window, mug of coffee twisted into her hand, watching the rain pour down, she looks happy and warm, enjoying the mood of the weather. When the non-coffee drinker is looking outside at the rain through the window, she looks crazy or depressed.

At my first temp job in Scotland I learned about how important coffee and tea were to them. I was offered coffee - "No thank you" - tea - "No thank you" - and invited to join on smoke breaks - "Coming out for a fag?" "Uh... what?" "Cigarette?" "Oh, no thank you." I got blank stares.

"So you don't drink tea or coffee?"
"No... I don't really like hot drinks."
"And you don't smoke?"
"So what do you do? Everyone has to have a bad habit."
"Umm, I like beer?"

So I managed to keep some level of respect in my admin role due to my intake of hops, barley, malt, and water - all mixed and fermented to perfection.

I find myself a little envious of the coffee drinkers during mornings. I struggle to wake up in a natural ways, such as changing the standard beep beep (which I too often slept through) of my mobile phone alarm into a peppy song, eating breakfast, showering, generally walking to work, and brushing my teeth with intensely flavoured cinnamon toothpaste. This is all temporary and seems to be enough to get me to work by, oh, 9:30 or 10:00, but then I'm forced to sit still by myself in front of computer screen which tends to make me sleepy all over again and give me poor posture and wrinkles from squinting at the intense glare of the screen.

I also function awkwardly at "Let's do coffee sometime!" and then find myself starring curiously at a menu in a coffee establishment trying to figure out what to order. I have changed the meaning of "let's do coffee" to "let's do fruit punch". You can't really gossip and mingle over fruit punch in the way one can with coffee.

The pleasure of indulging in a warm beverage after being outside in the cold is also foreign to me. Yes, I join in on hot chocolate outings post sledding (which didn't happen this winter which is fine by me as I'm secretly scared of sledding and don't like hot chocolate that much), but that's more so for the social ritual than love of hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is generally far too hot when served causing me to flail my arms about like a penguin trying to fly. So I wait. Then I down it all in the span of four minutes while it's at a consumable temperature.

Did I mention that I once accidentally drank a glass of hot water when I was, like, 2? And by hot, it was probably actually luke warm and I completely over reacted and cried? And then spent the next six years being scared to operate the taps in the bathtub and would spend two hours playing in increasingly cooling water with wrinkly purple fingertips? The real, deep, psychological reason why I don't like coffee and other hot drinks. Oh, how the mistake of my past haunt my present self.

PS: I want to change careers to stunt car driver. More on that another day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome, temporary spring!

Saturday, March 5, 2011 was officially declared the first day of spring - by me. After a series of international debates among northern countries it was decided that calendar entries for season changes are not an accurate way to establish a new season. Instead, it was agreed that each region would have a season decision maker. After numerous rigorous interviews, blood samples, x-rays, and hot dog eating contests, it was decided that I was the best candidate in the PEI region. I declared the start of spring, but so far it seems to be accurate only in regard to the weekend. For example, this weekend the weather was darling and the sun was blowing kisses to all in Charlottetown, people were outside, and suddenly half of the city decided to become runners. I, of course, prefer mounting sexy things and chose to rides my bikes instead. That way I can play in traffic and let out muffled groans of pain when I miss avoiding one of Charlottetown's 6,482 potholes that developed over the winter. [Three hurrahs for living on a constantly shifting sandbar!] I'm pretty sure some of them are so deep that were we to drop something in them someone in China would trip over the object.

What would be the advantages of such a deep pothole all the way to China? I'm glad you asked, as I believe this to be a worthwhile venture and will seek government funding to accomplish this engineering feat.
  1. Reduced importing/exporting costs for small goods. If you think Dollar Stores are full of junk now, wait until importing costs drop as transportation involves throwing the product down a hole. Note the quality of the products will not improve. Keep this in mind when you buy your pregnancy test from the Dollarama. (Photo taken at an actual Dollarama in Halifax by a concerned me. I was later told that these are just as accurate as their $20 counterparts.)
  2. Tourism. Relating to an academic paper I proofed for a coworker, mainland Chinese residents are starting to travel more. How cheap - and convenient - would it be to simply hop into a hole through the centre of the Earth to reach your destination of McPothole Street, Charlottetown? Set up a small customs office at the end of a driveway (sorry, no room for your lemonade stand this year, kids), a few metal detectors, and all is good. Of course, this is all pending further research on the effects of through-the-Earth's-core travel on the human body. It's slightly possible you would melt.
  3. Environmental consequences. As demonstrated in the two previous points, pollution created via transportation of goods and people would be reduced dramatically. However, again, it must be stressed that more research needs to take place on how this giant pothole through the Earth's core will effect the planet's structural integrity. I think Environment Canada and Transportation and Public Works Charlottetown would be pleased to fund this experiment.
I would also like to apologize for my miscaluculation in summer's commencement. While I expect a little bit of back and forth iffiness, the snow has been softly falling from the sky all day. Very softly and almost not noticeable, but still. However, spring has left a lasting effect. I judge snow depth by the toys and playthings in the children's playground I can see out my window. There is a bridge for them to play on and I can see at least 15 inches more of it than I could see even a week ago. I can also see a little bit of grass which has burst through light dustings of snow.

See you in China! 中国见你!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An Open Letter to Winter

Dear Winter:

Ah, still here? Your presence is never subtle. As a guest in my life, I find you take advantage of my positive attitude and kind soul. I let you into my life, and even tried to embrace you. I had to put out financially, purchasing more wool socks, snowshoes, skates, a car, and an icescraper for my car.  But I put in a very solid effort to building our relationship.

You are being to exert a physical and mental tole on my body. You never pick up after yourself (the driveway has been full of snow for two months; I haven't seen a blade of grass in weeks), you're causing dry-skin grossness ick to my beautiful face, and you insist on whipping through the air like a hijacked train. You are making me neglect things I love. My sexy bicycles are giving me the cold shoulder; my dresses are so limp in my closet. My sandals are giving me sad looks and wondering why they are collecting dust in the entryway.

I find you are also a demanding guest. I tried to be patient and shovel out my car one day so I wouldn't get stuck. But you insisted I didn't shovel enough, and I got stuck anyway and ended up being too late to get to my destination. You are also making an absolute mess of the hallways at work. I find myself having to change my footware much more than I deem acceptable on a daily basis. And let's not get started on how you are rude and sometimes trip me. I was gently wading through snow to work and you made me fall. I wouldn't make you fall if you were rushing to get somewhere.

And think of the children! You are denying them of their education. The schools close because you get so arrogant and insist on making your presence known. Many already loved you, do not get so bold that you do not find our love to be enough.

I have your things packed.  You may leave at any time.  You are welcome back next December, but I'm expecting you to behave a little better.

Yours sincerely,

PS: I do appreciate your lack of bone-chilling temperatures, however.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Theoretical Snow Day vs. Actual Snow Day

Last Monday the University shut down at 5:00pm due to snow blowing through the air and whipping people in the face and winter being, you know, winter-y. I was a little disappointed as after mingling with (eating) a few cookies at our Valentine's Day potluck I was planning on going to the gym and abusing myself to the point of movement causing throngs of pain the following day. Instead, I walked home and did sad things like clean the kitchen, vacuum, and wash to-be-painted walls. Luckily I had plans for later so the threat of becoming the Old Maid featured in my least favourite card game ever (called, "Old Maid") did not loom too largely.

Tuesday morning arrived (usually a safe bet following Monday night) and despite still being mildly blustery, the radio and the vast metropolis of the Internet insisted that the uni was running as usual. I walked to work because it gives me a superiority complex (and I missed the bus by about four seconds as I stood in awe on the other side of the road dragging out the waste bin) and was pretty sure Zeus had filled each individual snowflake with a small blade that were causing my face and eyeballs to bleed. "Flurries" at the university was a slight understatement. The winds were howling and the small children at UPEI's daycare had to be chained down to prevent blowing to Newfoundland. The snow was piercing faces and students were falling trying to pass the sidewalks and snowy walkways. Most of us survived and exploded through the doors like weakened champions. I unlock my office door and am immediately told, "UPEI has just announced it is closed for the day!"

Usually snowdays are met with cheers and champagne popping, but given the effort I put into getting to work I wasn't feeling the need for a bubbly drink. Just a face-to-face apology from whoever made the decision about two hours too late and ancient weather Gods and Goddesses.

The Sunday prior I had thought about how useful a snowday would be. I would paint my room, protest the slaughter of left-handed chimpanzees, solve the mystery of ancient crop circles, translate the third Harry Potter book into an ancient form of gaelic known only by a top-secret organisation, and perhaps watch a little bit of tv if I had time. My snow day took the following itinerary:
  1. Sit on bed. Play video game on phone.

  2. Find phone to be extremely heavy; curiously, much like my eyelids. Fall asleep for 1.5 hours.

  3. Wake up. Read. Eat lunch.

  4. Watch tv. Laugh.

  5. Twiddle my thumbs. Go to car (PS: I bought a car!) to retrieve Nibs that I had hidden from myself.

  6. Eat Nibs. Read. Give myself 19 cavities.

At this point I had fallen behind on my planned activities. I had no paint to paint walls, did not have the proper ingredients to cook my desired food of the day, and could not find my ancient-gaelic->English dictionary. I was eventually productive in that I fixed a formatting issue for someone in Word, ate supper, and watched a wee bit more tv.

In a related note, if winter doesn't end soon I'm driving to Cuba. It was pointed out to me that one cannot drive from PEI to Cuba for Cuba is an island without a bridge link. However, I have not yet fully explored the variety of buttons in my car and I suspect one of the buttons converts my car into a small-but-zippy watercraft. Hopefully this doesn't affect trunk space.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Let's go car shopping!

I'm in the process of buying a car. So far I am at step one - selecting the car. I have been at step one for about a month. I haven't even figured out a brand, company, line, whatever they're called. At the rate I'm going, step 5 (driving the car home) should take place on June 23, 2013. Let me know if you need a drive anywhere on that day and we'll have plenty of time to plan ahead and make arrangements.

Set the scene, mate: 28-year-old female. Doesn't like spending money. Doesn't have a big interest in cars. Tends to be indecisive about 99% of most things. Likes quirky, un-safe colours.

Car preference: something that doesn't have only two doors. Something that is not grey, light blue, white, yellow, or sad. (The colour "sad" tends to vary, but is a weak hue that offers no inspiration in life. If the poor outlook of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh were a colour, this would be it.) Round as opposed to linear. (View interior of Matrix vs. Corolla for further example. Bubbles = good, rectangles = bad.) Ideally an automatic. There should also be an eject button for when I am escaping from bad guys and need an emergency exit and am willing to sacrifice the life of car for my own well-being. Hieroglyphics should be etched onto the hubcaps. Interpretation of these drawings will lead to the whereabouts of an undiscovered tomb, housing hundreds of Egyptian and alien artifacts (alien artifacts were stolen by the Egyptians, then hidden as to not disturb the calm of Egyptian society). The back seat/trunk/hatchback area must be spacious enough (when seats are folded down) to place a manatee wounded by poachers.

It is also critical the car is of a colour that can show off these awesome stickers I plan to cover it with: Tiki Toes.

The car should also match my skin tone which is making the prospect of silver cars awkward. Instead, I present to you, the Orange Accent, which is currently making my heart throb. (Link will be broken if the car is sold, which it was not at the time this was posted.) Sadly, you will note the lack of hieroglyphics on the hub caps. Shoot. (Also, silver is not a real colour. It's an element on the Periodic Table with the abbreviation Ag. If mangnesium, plutonium, helium, and lithium are not colours, neither is silver. The colour "silver" is actually shiny grey.

Oooooh, frustrated. Secret: the car I actually want is a shiny red Honda Fit. But even used ones start at $12,000, plus $6,894,987 in taxes.

Maybe. I think. Maybe not. It's kind of funny looking on the outside. But so are anteaters but people still like them.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

French words that give special insight

Today at work I was working on French translations for two surveys. Huge parts of them have been professionally translated before (I only translate simple things like "Are you a banana?" = "Es-tu une banane?") but they are mixed up in a whole bunch of different files. One of these days when work slows down a bit, I plan to execute my organisation skills and make a master file of questions in English and French. It will be beautiful... provided I print it off and bedazzle the hardcopy and cover it with ribbons and glitter. Otherwise, it was not be beautiful, but "useful". Which is good, as most workplaces other than modelling agencies prefer useful to beautiful. Myself, I aim to be strong in both adjectives. Usefully beautiful, or beautifully useful, depending on the day.

Your French vocabulary of the day, brought to by myself (applause!) and our translator (applause! but slightly less applause than for me).

Also, I have my keyboard set to English Canada bilingual happily ever after mode, and I CANNOT find the open arrow head things that one uses for html ANYWHERE. How is it that the following symbols take priority over them? £ ¢ ¤ ¬ ¼³²¦ }<>... oh look, I just found them. Complaining works every time...
  • "Je voyage trop pour des raisons d'affaires." - I travel too much for business purposes. Note that BUSINESS (affaires) looks suspiciously similar to AFFAIR, a popular past-time of the Global French community.

  • "Le bouche-à-oreille" - word of mouth, or more literal, from the mouth to the ear. This is good because it reminds us part of communication involves being a good listener.

  • "Vivant en union libre" - living common-law.. or, living in a "free" (as in non-restricted, NOT relating to cost, although that would make me wink too) union. How liberating and non-legally binding!

  • "Célibataire" - single. Seems to be a take on celibacy. Moral preaching?

  • "Moteur de recherche" - search engine. The word is so common now (probably more so than 'telephone book' for younger generations) that one tends to forget that it is actually two separate words combined to make a new, special word. English places the emphasis on 'search', French seems to place the emphasis on 'moteur' (engine). As I'm currently car shopping (an ongoing area of confusion for my confusion-free life), 'moteur' reminds me that I should be reading more about cars and figuring that stuff out. I told my brother that by the time I decide on a car all roads/autos will have been replaced with high-speed light rail anyway.

C'est tout.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Worst Guilt of All: Catholic

I'm not Catholic, but one of my Catholic friends insisted Catholics are raised to feel extra guilty about everything. Thus, anytime I feel extreme guilt, I label it "catholic guilt".

Things that Deliver Guilt to my Soul - in no particular order
  • Reading chick lit. Everytime I dance home from the library with a Meg Cabot piece of literature you can be sure to note that I have also checked out a book on economics, international development, the environment, history, saving the world, etc. Sometimes I'll even read the whole second book. But mostly I read bits and pieces of it so I'll have something to talk about at work if asked what I'm currently reading. ("Princess Diaries 10, but in French!" doesn't sound so impressive.)

  • Napping on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. The guilt is less Catholic in the winter and more so United (United Protestant or whatever I am experiences less guilt). However, in the summer it causes me to slightly panic, particularly if it's a sunny day. Exception to the rule is sleeping outside on the grass letting the sun kiss my bronzing skin, or at the beach. Which brings us to...

  • Not going in the water when I go to the beach. I'm scared of jellyfish. That pretty much explains the only reason I wouldn't get in the water. And it's a frickin' good reason, friends.

  • Buying pineapples. They travel so far to get to wee PEI. Maybe if I start participating in the 2.0x10^4-mile diet. But sometimes I miss eating so much pineapple that my lips feel like they are bleeding and full of botox. (PS: use of scientific notation = +1 point.)

  • Bringing pre-made food to a potluck. I generally try to make something, I really do, but sometimes I don't have time pre-event and I bring something easy (yet delicious!), like cookies or popsicles. That being said, popsicles have yet to EVER disappoint.

  • Using the dryer. I don't use the dryer for regular clothes (see note written in early January about my struggles to make it look like a tornado hasn't destroyed my bedroom) but do use it for bedsheets and towels sometimes. Somewhere, somehow, I have caused death upon an innocent squirrel. Research has yet to prove that dryer use is directly related to squirrel death, but I have a hunch.

  • Staying in more than one Saturday night in a row. So anti-social! .... and boring.

  • Not voting in the municipal election. It's just not as exciting. And I forgot.

  • Not knowing the names of different kinds of trees. But it's okay, trees are deaf so they don't respond if I call them by name anyway. Ha! How I laugh at my funnies.

Good night, a happy Monday to all!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Lessons Learned: 2011, week 1 & 2 edition

There is a famous PEI proverb that states, "She who stops learning will suffer in rust."

Note: Proverb not famous, I made it up, but if we work together we can make it famous!

I have learned a variety of things thus far in 2011 that I think I should share with the world. Some of these were learned in late 2010, but the lesson is still fresh and reinforced into my soul on a daily basis.
  1. When hiring people to do data entry, do not assume data entry is easy and almost anyone can do it. Instead, treat the job candidate like he/she is a drunk driver. Provide a series of tests, particularly on eyesight, and ability to recollect information. Assume this person has the potential to ruin three straight weeks of work because you will have to correct all of their work. This will be extremely painful, time consuming, and irritating. This is the biggest lesson of EVER. WRITE THIS DOWN.

  2. Do NOT swipe yourself in the eye with an earring. This will result in a very watery eye, pain, and struggles to open the eye. Your vision will be blurry, and the glaring white of the snow will make your struggles and wincing comparable to an animated character about to be "dipped". (Who Framed Roger Rabbit? reference = +1 pnt.)

  3. Skate! 2011 marks the first time I have owned skates since Junior High. I think I had skated on ice twice in the past decade. Getting on the ice was slightly terrifying at first, but also super fun. No falls yet *knock on wood*

  4. Giving up chocolate for a year is ridiculous. Very unrewarding. I had someone look at me awkwardly and say, "Why would you give up something that can give such pleasure?" Hannah said that New Year's Resolutions were made to be broken, so I broke mine. Now I'm just like everyone else! Yay! Really, giving it up just meant gummie bear massacres were going to overtake 2011.

  5. Workmates are a reliable source of weather information. I LOVE weather. Extreme weather. Humidity at 99.9%, rain falling with such force that it bounces back up off the ground, snowfalls that require goggles if outside, sunlight so strong it makes you feel like your bones are being sauteed. Today/this evening there is supposed to be some wild weather going through parts of Nova Scotia, but PEI was expected to miss it. I checked out Environment Canada's website at about 3:00 because I suddenly really wanted to know how our daily highs and lows were comparing against the average temperature in other years. (Did you just yawn? Yeah, probably. But I swear it's fascinating.) Nothing was posted about a weather watch. Apparently a heavy snowfall warning went up at 4:00pm and I got an email with a link about fifteen minutes later from one coworker, and a verbal message from another about five minutes later. UPEI staff are fierce weather monitors.

  6. The first week back to work after Christmas is evil. (ceteris paribus.) It just is. And I say that with no negative energy towards my actual organisation. It wouldn't matter where I worked.

Knowledge is power! Time to eat peanut butter!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hey 2011, welcome to the party.

Oh, PS, in case I forget, I'm giving up chocolate in 2011. Apparently I confuse New Years with lent, despite not being catholic and always unintentionally doing that chest/forehead/shoulder touching thing in the wrong order.

In 2007 I boycotted non-sandwich related fast food. 2008 was Wal-Mart, but then I went when out of province so stopped after I bought Skittles and sunglasses at an Albertan Wal-Mart. 2009 was FRENCH FRIES (the ketchup cravings were overpowering my logic). 2010 was going to be the Bulk Barn but that got boring and meant I was buying giant packages of candy at the grocery store as opposed to small servings at the Bulk Barn.

This will be my most challenging year to date. In terms of fake lent. My most real challenging year was 1983, when I could only communicate by baby noises and was unable to sit up on my own. I overcame those challenges and can now communicate using real words and can generally walk long distances without falling. Generally. Not guaranteed.

Footnote: Chocolate fake lent does not exist when in Europe.

Oh, and if I order non-chocolate cheesecake and the plate comes drizzled with chocolate syrup on it that's okay because that tastes like crap anyway.

Or if it's a matter of life or death. (Robber: "Jennifer, if you don't eat this piece of chocolate I will shoot all the Shetland ponies in the entire world!!" or, Doctor: "If you don't eat this piece of chocolate your heart will erupt!")

And to clarify, the subject of this post will be read, "Hey, two thousand and eleven...", not, "Hey, twenty eleven..." because twenty and eleven is actually thirty one. In roman numerals it is MMXI, not XXXI.

You're welcome, and good night.