Friday, December 21, 2012

Turning 30 with a high five!

Recently I became 30 years old. Apparently this is monumental? If we were still using roman numerals to write out numbers, turning 30 (XXX) would be greatly appreciated after the stretch of space that was, for example, 28 (XXVIII). So much ink would be saved!

My plans for 30 varied depending on how old I was. And I never really thought "30", but more so "after I've been done of school for while".

When I was 16, my plans included being a CEO and making important decisions. This didn't pan out because I realized that would require too much work therefore I decided I would settle for being a VP of some random Disney division. Life and work visas lead me no where near that direction. Also, I am terrible at making decisions. My fallback plan was buying the Confederation Court Mall and turning it into an awesome club. I still think this idea has merit, although Charlottetown's population of "classy" clubbers would have to increase dramatically for it to be substanable. (Also, unlike the Globe, Charlottetown's club du jour, I wouldn't lose my patron's credit card.) Oh, and I also planned on buying the building the old Pat and Willy's was in. I would have two bars, and they would be connected by the overpass above Kent Street. It would also feature a bowling lane and staff would wear colourful wigs. This was my plan around the time "The Night at the Roxbury" was in cinemas.

Half a decade later at 21, a flatmate was talking about having children at some point. I decided I would have two by the time I was 30ish, because it seemed safe to say that with the "deadline" being a decade away . I determined that would be a good age as the adorable spawn wouldn't still be living at home while I was trying to retire and complete my snowbird training. What I failed to consider was the steps I wanted to take prior to having two off-spring and the time required: 18 months of production, at least a few years of dating/marriage, raising the first one for a little while before creating the second, etc. This meant the sort of deadline for step one was when I was 25, and based on who I was dating at that point, I'm really glad this "goal" wasn't met. Yikes.

And that's it. I'm not much of a goal setter and those are the only things I really remember thinking about, other than living in England and working at Disney World. England wasn't accomplished, but Scotland was geographically close and a most worthy substitute. Disney World happened, and will probably be brought up at every job interview for the rest of my life and make me a service snob. Yes, I will notice your shitty service and let my mind wander to my not-developed-at-all business idea of service awesomeness.

The actual day of becoming 30 was a good day. I woke up, tried to steal back some of the blanket that le Boyfriend stole over night, failed, and we went for breakfast. We were sat in our usual spot, which sounds much more romantic than it was as it actually means "we were sat at the same table as the one other time we went to the restaurant". Then we slowly strolled home. I, being tragically old, took a nap at some point. Then there was a bike ride, a phone call from brother bear, and an adventure to pick up boots I had ordered online.

TIP: If you order boots from Sears, order them 6 sizes smaller than you usually would wear, otherwise it looks like you are trying to run around in a giant's boots.

Upon return I spent about 15 minutes searching for grey hairs and gently ripping them from my skull. It goes along nicely with my poor habits of picking pimples, scabs, bites, disturbingly long ingrown hairs, anything that looks pickable, etc.

Eventually, le Boyfriend took me to a birthday party (for me!) and people were merry, ate lots of food, drank enough (not too much, but enough), danced, high fived, and, I like to imagine, marveled at the lack of grey hairs sticking out among the mess of brown strands.

After much primary research, I have determined the keys to turning 30 with grace are:

  • Alcohol (just a little bit, it's good for your heart, I hear).
  • Spending your 20s acquiring many wonderful friends. Make sure at least 60 percent of them are older than you so they turn 30 before you.
  • Acquiring a younger boyfriend. It helps you get used to cougar jokes earlier. It also helps if he's awesome. (Caution: Rachel tried this in Friends, and it didn't really turn out for her. However, she is a fictional character and she chose wrong.)
  • Being happy at 27, 28, 29, etc. Or at least when you're 29. If you're happy at 29 and 364 days, there is no need to be unhappy at 30.
  • Trying my new numbering system: turning twenty-ten years old was great!
  • Going on an awesome vacation a couple of weeks prior.
Hurrah! By following these six steps you will be guaranteed a smooth entry into your fourth decade. I wish you as much success as I.

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Something monumental has happened recently! It's so note-worthy that I am writing a blog about it.

Now, why am I writing a blog about it? [you ask]

Because I *can*! [I reply]

Seriously, le Boyfriend and I bought a laptop so I literally can write again. My laptop was getting to the point that I had to hold the screen at a very precise angle in order for it to work properly. Typing with one hand is not so conducive to blog posts. I could had been old school and wrote stuff on a sheet of paper and posted it on various telephone polls throughout the city, but then I'm opening my writing to weather destruction.

Speaking of destruction, I have had trouble spelling the following words this week:
- destruction (not distruction)
- occasion (not ocassion or occassion... seriously, it took me three tries and I'm pretty sure I just used spell check at that embarrassing point)
- embarrassing (it just happened in the previous bullet! I like to think I spell it wrong as I don't get overly embarrassed so I use fewer letters to represent that - I just get 'embarassed')
- tongue (I try to make it rhyme with lounge. It doesn't.)

So there we go. I am losing the ability to spell. That somewhat implies I was once a great speller, but I don't think I was. I was decent. My point got across. I spelled "phoque" properly on the board in French class during a spelling contest. However, I do remember asking one of my teachers how to spell 'mansion'. I was told to look it up in the dictionary. After too many minutes searching for 'manchon', I probably changed my story to read, "She lived in a very, very, very big house." Bonus points for creatively solving my problem by completely avoiding it. I will point out while I was not a ninja in spelling, I did get a special shout out on my report card for being very good at using expression when I read out loud. Nothing is more a sure fire way to win friends in elementary school than reading out loud with excessive amount of emotion. If I were reading this out loud to you now, that last sentence would had been dripping with well practiced sarcasm.

(Note: I spelled sentence wrong the first time I typed it in the previous sentEnce. Nice.)

Back to one of the original steams of thought above, le Boyfriend and I own a functioning laptop. That means between the two of us, we have one completely disassembled laptop (a learning experience pour le Boyfriend, for he will never be able to put it back together and it's currently 'resting' in a laundry basket), one twitchy screen laptop, and an actual functioning laptop with keys that press, a screen that works, and it doesn't take ten minutes for it to 'warm up'. I also like how opening a new tab in Chrome doesn't cause a glitch in the space-time continuum any longer. The simple things make me happy.

WAIT! [you ask] Isn't purchasing a laptop with someone an inextrodinate amount of commitment?

Why yes, I am glad you brought that up. First of all, I commend you for your use of the word 'inextrodinate'. The internet tells me it is not a real word. Apparently my bad hearing made it up and it's probably actually a completely different word. I'm glad we're on the same page.

We have been building up to this purchase. Not too long after we moved in together (some would argue that it also a big commitment, le Boyfriend would take that chance to point out we didn't sign a lease), we bought a toaster oven. The actual commitment test happens this weekend because I turn *hushed whisper* 30 years old on Saturday. Personally, I think my 30th b'day will be much more fun that my 19th birthday, which also occurred on Saturday. That night I wrote an Accounting 201 exam which was super long and we stayed past the allotted three-hour period. So I got home around 10:30, probably had another exam on Monday morning, and went out and had, like, two drinks. Crazy was not my middle name. My middle name was probably, "Holy shit this bar stinks."  This was pre smoking ban.

Back on track. Yes. Thirty. I shall hide le Boyfriend's bags so he cannot pack and secretly move out while I sleep. Besides, he won't do that... he can't  leave because then I would have no one to do the majority of my laundry and cook 70 percent of my meals. In return, he would have no one to bless him with the gift of laughter and wit. So. Much. WIT.

Blah blah blah. Now that I have a functioning laptop again and am not trying to compose my feelings on le Boyfriend's iPad, you can expect exciting posts such as, "I went on vacation and saw monkeys", "I turned 30 with so much grace that people mistakened me for Kate Middleton", and "No, seriously, I saw a monkey!!!"

Until next time!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Remove the x chromosome, replace it with a y.

One day last week, a lovely friend and I were out for a lovely stroll around the lovely city. We also had some lovely beer on lovely Victoria Row, where it was cold and the server provided us with lovely blankets. On the way back to the bear cave (I'm still trying to come up with an appropriate name for chez Boyfriend and I), we were talking about guys we play frisbee with. We were jealous that they are naturally faster than us, even the ones with perfectly placed late second trimester bellies. It's the opposite of girls: when we gain weight our legs get wider and then the chafe at the top and we can barely walk two kilometres without a tube of Vaseline between our legs, let alone spend the night sprinting up and down a frisbee field.

So then lovely friend I talked about what it would be like to be in a male's body for a day, in particular, a relatively fit male.

Things that would need to be done:

  • Bladder releasing. First off, I would pee. Everywhere. Into the toilet. I would miss because I would purposely be lazy. Then I would drink a lot more water and pee on the side of a building and write my name (not Jennifer, I would have a boy name for the day). After that I would pee in a garden, then in an alley, in the woods, on the way home from the bar - EVERYWHERE. My territory would be so marked the Romans would had made me Emperor back in the day.
  • Become fast. I would run fast, bike fast, swim fast (although I don't think men are as naturally buoyant as women so maybe it might not be an advantage at first), punch fast, drink fast, many fast things. Except walking. Most men don't walk fast.
  • Become strong. I would open difficult to open jars. Throw things further. Carry heavy things. (But since I'd be male for only a day people wouldn't catch on quickly enough so I wouldn't have to help people move houses. Nice.)
  • Look at my toes. I haven't been able to stand straight up and glance down at my toes since puberty. I need to lean over now.
  • Burp. Based on le Boyfriend, men need to burp often. I assume if they don't, their bellybuttons explode.
  • Cook. Mediocre cooking is so much more impressive when you're male.
  • Be funny. Although I'm already hilarious so f-bomb you sexual stereotypes that women aren't funny.
  • Pick up at the bar and not become emotionally confused afterwards. Although picking up as a male would be more difficult because women have standards.
  • X-rated things. Alone. And with other people. Multiple other people! But let's keep this a bit less R-rated.
  • Get bonked in the testicles. Just to see how much it really hurts.
  • Carry a guitar so university girls would think I'm hot. 
  • Not wear a shirt.
  • Be incredibly hairy.. and that would be okay.
  • Eat a lot and not think about the waist-line consequences.
  • Streak! Because male nudity is funny.
What would you do, bloggie friends?

Monday, August 27, 2012


"Merde" is how you get away with saying "shit" in public but remaining respectable. The "Merde" book series probably would not had been so quickly stocked in windows were the titles "A Year in the Shit", "Shit, Actually", or "Dial S for Shit".

Today's post is about merde, because a oiseau almost popped on me yesterday. It wouldn't be the first time, but it would probably be the grossest time.

A long time ago in 1991, my brother went on a lucky streak and managed to win a trip for him and one parent to Toronto to participate in Wayne Gretzky's hockey camp. Yes, "the Great one" actually showed up and, more so, skated with everyone, had photo ops. It wasn't just a name - h was very involved. Also there was his father, Brett Hull, Denis Savard, and some Russian guy. Being it was 1991, I suspect a Russian in the NHL was still a novelty at that point. However, I was most impressed with John Candy being present for photographs and autographs at one session and was quite jealous Brother got to meet him. I'm not sure why he was there, I believe something about being co-owners of the Toronto Argonauts with Wane Gretzky. (Wikipedia just confirmed I am correct, they were indeed co-owners along with Bruce McNall, who I never heard of before.)

Mother and I also travelled to Toronto with Brother and Father. It was my first time on a plane and based on descriptions in the Baby-Sitters Club books I expected to fill the barf bag with puke, but I didn't. I have a stomach of steal for moving things, yet used to vomit when I got excited. Which is exactly what I did in Toronto on the first night. "Yay! I'm so excited to be in Toronto! So excited, in fact, that I just woke up and vomitted all over my mom and now she has to call housekeeper at 2:00am!! SO MUCH FUN! BIG CITY!!!"

Looking back, it was probably the water that made me puke all over the Maritimes and the eastern timezone.

One of the first days in Toronto we were walking around downtown in the sun. Being wonderful children, our parents treated Brother and I to overpriced ice cream. I don't actually remember if it was overpriced, but it probably was (Upper Canada and all). Some time later Brother started yelling, "A BIRD POOPED IN YOUR HAIR!!! A BIRD POOPED IN JENNIFER'S HAIR!"

I became very sad. Why would a bird poop in my hair? I had done nothing wrong.

"No," my parents insisted, "It isn't poop, it's just some of your ice cream. It must have gotten into your hair."

Brother still insisted it was bird crap, but I believed my parents. They would never lie to me, right?


They lied to me. And I don't think I found out until, oh, 2008.

"Parents, remember that time in Toronto when Jeff thought a bird shit in my hair but it was actually ice cream? Ha ha ha! Silly him."

"Yeah, that was bird shit. It was just easier to tell you it was ice cream."



Poopisode number two was at the petting zoo in Iceland earlier this summer. My mum and I were walking towards the washroom and I felt something land in my hood. I knew it was bird crap. My mum looked in my hood and it was a round turd about the size of a chickpea.

Constipated bird, maybe?

The third potential incident occurred yesterday as I was biking on some paved trails in an area with some trees. (To say "wooded area" gives it way too much credit.) It was a bit breezier than expected that day. Why? Because the Weather Network insisted the winds were 11km/hr but upon getting home I verify with the Weather Office (Environment Canada) and the winds were actually 30 km/hr with gusts of 40km/hr. This wind turned out to be a blessing in disguise as when I biked by a tree a bird landed on a branch and decided to take a dump. Luckily there was a gust of wind at the same time and the poop blew like a streaky white rainbow arch over my head. Best gust of wind ever.

Also, the shirt I was wearing has quite a bare back. And I was on my roadbike so muchly hunched over. It would had been a disgusting mess.

Bless you wind, bless.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Iceland: More than just a hockey team in "D2: The Mighty Ducks"

Back in early March I got a bit stressed. My stars weren't properly aligning for a spring vacation - though that did eventually happen. Stress was relieved of duty when I got an email from Travel Zoo, or some equivalent travel email, announcing Iceland Air was having a lovely seat sale. Round-trip from Halifax to Reykjavik for certain dates was only $515. I mentally consulted the list of people I knew and started segmenting it into those who 1) have a passport, 2) like travelling, 3) would be able to take time off in June, 4) could afford to drop $515 rather suddenly on a plane ticket, and 5) is fluent in Icelandic. (Note: randomly and suddenly buying plane tickets is one of my favourite things.)
Brain did a few computations and determined my mum to be the most likely travel partner, despite her lack of proficiency in Icelandic. SIGH. I forwarded the email to her and our plane tickets were booked a few days later.
Race forward to June 23 and we were on our way!
As I like lists, here are some thoughts on Iceland:

  • So easy! Iceland is incredibly easy to travel to. I had read a blog post not too long prior to leaving saying that Iceland was a great destination for those easing themselves into a trip abroad. It's easy to find ones way around Reykjavik, everything in the city seemed to be quite close, menus are generally offered in English, everyone speaks English, and there are many tour companies happy to take your money (thrilled, even) which will take you outside the city. I can't comment on the experience of renting a car and exploring, but I can't imagine it would be too difficult provided one kept to the main roads.
  • No smell! Iceland is part of Europe, but Reykjavik doesn't smell like some of the bigger European cities. Maybe this is due to a lack of take-aways (*cough* Edinburgh *cough* London), or it just being more Scandinavian. Apparently Iceland is part of Scandanavia, so that's appropriately appropriate.
  • Blond brigade. One day my mum and I rented bikes and somehow entered the back entry way of a petting zoo we were going to visit. I'm still not sure if we were supposed to follow the honour system and just go pay anyway, but we got distracted by over-the-top cute Icelandic ponies and parades of blond children. No exaggeration: blond children everywhere. Not just kind of blond, but white-blondish. My dark mane and hairy arms would had destroyed their gene pool. Based on some of the older children, the blond starts becoming darker when puberty hits and it's more common to have darker blond, dirty blond, or, gasp, brown hair. We did see a ginger kid, clearly a descendant of Leif Ericson. His name was probably Eric Leifson. Bringing us to...

  • Jennifer Roysdottir. That would be my name in Iceland, "Jennifer, Roy's daughter". My brother would be Jeff Roysson. Seriously. Apparently, due to this I suppose, names in the phone book are listed by first name as opposed to last name. This would also save of a ton of time in PEI, perhaps removing the need for the "Who's your father?" query.
  • Not so pricey. Unless I was doing my currency conversion really wrong, things weren't nearly as expensive as I expected. I thought I would be fighting back tears every time I opened my wallet, but instead I just unceremoniously opened my wallet without displaying emotion as there wasn't need for any emotion. Similar to most vacation destinations, you could pay $5 for street food, or you could spend $60 on a multi-course meal, with a variety of options in between the two price points. Clothing tended to be more expensive, but that seems to be a European thing.

  • What's cheap? The lamb dinner I had was perhaps $17.00, in PEI it would had been $25.00 plus tax and tip.

  • Baseball. Saw some kids playing baseball. I don't think I have ever seen that outside of North America. I saw an article in a free English publication about the team.

  • Jet lag?! I don't know what you're talking about. I don't think I ever got over the not-substantial three-hour time difference. I'm a bit of night owl anyway, so would usually fall asleep around 1:30 or 2:00 and get up for free (!) breakfast around 8:00. Due to my ability to sleep almost anywhere, I usually would then fall asleep on the bus. But what does one do in Reykjavik until 1:30am? YOU AND YOUR MOM HIT UP THE CLUUUUBS! ..... not really. BUT! Given that the sun is was still powering on at 11:30pm, lots of late night walks were a given. And it wasn't just us, the city was full of people out walking. I never actually saw the sun fully vanish, the darkest it got while I was awake was dusky (at 2:00) and I woke up by the blazing sun at 4:00. I loved it.
  • Icelandic ponies. I think they might be wearing wigs. Pretty sure.
  • Hockey. Iceland's hockey team is training hard for the next Goodwill Junior Games, and hoping to finally beat Team USA. It will be an underdog story perfect for a Disney movie. (D2: The Mighty Ducks reference!! Obviously I needed to put in at least one.)

  • Illegal drinking? I think you're allowed to legally drink in public but I never confirmed it. Regardless, my mum and I shared a leftover beverage which *wasn't pop* in the airport's front lawn. I pried off the non-twist-off bottle cap with a pair of tweezers, after my mum bloodied up her knuckles trying to open it with a key.

  • Mind if I smoke? Different than many European cities I've been to, I did not see many smokers in Reykjavik. Curious.
  • "Vik".Reykjavik, Keflavik, Vik, etc. Many town/villages seem to end with 'vik'. According to Google Translate, 'vik' in Iceland means 'difficult'. Which doesn't make a lot of sense. However, in Norwegian it apparently means cove, and in Swedish it means bay. That might make the most sense.
That's all! Not really, Iceland is a fantastic country and I highly recommend visiting it. I have tonnes more to say about it, but apparently blog posts are best as short blurgs as opposed to multi-volume novels. (Yeah, I missed that memo.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What not to Eat on a First Date

For anyone who still has a Hotmail account, upon signing out you always are greeted with MSN/Sympatico's homepage which offers a flood of very informative articles. Sometimes I read some, sometimes I don't. Sometimes upon reading certain articles I get a little envious that the author actually got paid to write something so... pointless. Somewhere, someone thought, "Yes, we need someone to write an article on the top 98 things guys who wear white t-shirts think that girls think of them." Then someone is hired to write the article and does a lot of intensive primary research by asking 98 males in white t-shirts, "'sup?" or just finding a bunch of stock photos, then writing appropriate captions.

Or maybe it doesn't happen that way. Maybe someone is contracted to write x number of articles, subject matter provided by the employer. The employee writes the articles and then rants about it on his/her personal blog about his/her English degree not earning enough respect.

But why earn respect when you can earn dollah bills, y'all?

In case I someday have a job for which I write pointless MSN-style articles (one can only dream!), I will practice with this, "What not to eat on a first date." If it were an MSN article, I would accompany each point with a hilariously appropriate stock photo.

Subject of post inspired by a conversation I had with someone once at, I believe the Gahan House. Note: The Gahan House was recently listed by Zagat as the most popular restaurant in PEI. While it's generally quite busy, go for the local brews and then eat elsewhere. Or sneak in your own sandwich.

End long-winded introduction. Commence list, in no particular order.

  • Garlic. This is for North Americans. We notice garlic breath. Unless both parties will have indulged in the exact same amount, don't do it unless you are trying to sabotage your own changes at a good-night snog. Don't like your date? Then get the most garlic ridden dish you can find, eat it, and then go to the kitchen, ask for a few cloves, and dash to the washroom to rub it all over yourself. Note that garlic consumption is more common in some other countries. My Korean coworker told me once that although they eat copious amounts of garlic in Korea, they don't notice garlic breath. He didn't even know it existed until he moved to Canada and someone said something to the effect of, "Wow, a lot of garlic in your lunch?" and Korean coworker didn't know how the Canadian figured it out. Breath, my friend.

  • Salad. I like salad, I really do. It's colourful, versatile, easy to transport, and full of important things, like vitamins. (Sidetrack: imagine having a salad made of spinach and kids Flintstone vitamins. So healthy and delicious!) That being said, ordering a salad as a main on a first or early-on date is something I wouldn't do. Sidedish salad is acceptable. I would be worried the salad would actually suggest to Mr. Male that I am overly self-concious about how I look, anal about what I eat, and will judge those who order less healthy entrees. Plus I can make delicious salad at home. As always, there are exceptions. As I said, sidesalad, or restaurants that are known for having good salads. There is a restaurant in town that has wonderful apps and salads (and occasionally 2-for-1 specials) but has bland/boring entrees. Salad is more than acceptable there.

  • Spaghetti. Despite Lady and the Tramp's most memorable scene, spaghetti is not romantic. The accidental kiss could never happen among humans with proper table manners. If it does happen, it means you are sharing your food with a canine. I'm sorry. Next time please wear your glasses.

  • Olives. This is mostly if you're on a first date with me. They make me want to gag. I do keep trying them occasionally to see if my palate has changed and if I have learned to love the salty bastards, but they make me shudder and I make awful facial expressions. If we have a light snog and I can taste them on you, I will throw up in your mouth. NOT SEXY. (Note: current boyfriend would likely not approve of me going on first dates with others so this really isn't a concern anymore. But you should realise that I am not the only person who dislikes olives. Research shows, of my four-couples sample, that only one person in a relationship likes olives, the other person does not. Thread cautiously with your stinky olive breath.)

  • Chinese food. This is specifically for Charlottetown, it may differ elsewhere. If you are on your first date, it's dark outside, and you're eating Chinese food with a potential 'special someone', it means you are not on a date and you actually are just in step 2 of picking up at the bar. It's 2:30am. THIS IS NOT A DATE. WIPE THE RED SAUCE OFF YOUR FACE AND DRINK SOME WATER. Do a pre-test make-out session in the washroom or in a alley and then figure out if you want to spend further hours with the drunk person. If you didn't arrive with that person and your first meeting is at the Chinese restaurant, just go home. Picking up at China Garden is like eating dog food when you are too lazy to cook. STANDARDS ARE IMPORTANT.

  • Ribs. I'm not sure about this, even though it is my own list. I guess it depends how hot you look when covered in rib sauce and eating meat with your hands. Maybe it's highly erotic. Maybe not. Le Boyfriend and I ate ribs on Valentine's Day. Our relationship survived and more than three months later, we are still together. Could that be due to the ribs, or despite of the ribs?

I'm still undecided about putting lobster on the list. So delicious, and perhaps strongly cracking it open could be very suggestive. However, wearing and bib and having smelly hands for the next hour = not so sexy. In a related note, time to eat. In a lunchroom. With coworkers. No suggested foods to restrict. So free...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Travelling After University is not a Bad Thing

Recently CBC PEI posted an article titled Job cuts worry new graduates. PEI is losing about 8-zillion-shmillion jobs over the next two years (my own estimate) and the CBC spoke to the current UPEI student union president. He's concerned recent job cuts in both Provincial and Federal government will make it more difficult to find a job post-graduation. He also later mentions at the end of the article that his peers are settling for lesser paying jobs or, like him, will take some time to travel.

Proceed to comments. I like comments for stories that have many holes and are clearly missing information. Some of the commenters are able to fill in the gaps or offer another perspective. Opportunity to learn = good. Of course, there are also the commenters who make no sense and are disrespectful arseholes. Many commenters on this story are pffing about how the job cuts won't matter to students or say that travelling after university or college is dumb.

First brief point: job cuts are scary. Although most are supposed to be done through attrition (people retiring or choosing to leave) not all will be done that way. Not only does this decrease the likelihood of the governments hiring new staff, but those who have lost their jobs will likely also be flooding the market looking for work. More competition. Supply and demand, first-year economics, or even high school economics actually. The supply of job vacancies remains static, but the number of people wanting those jobs has increased. Thus, it is more difficult to get those jobs, more competition. I thought that was a bit more obvious. The problem is not that all those students were planning on working for the government, though I'm sure some were, but now more people will be demanding the few jobs available. As well, funding cuts likely mean fewer students hired for co-op placements leading to less work experience thus making it more difficult to secure a job after graduation.

Despite all that, the number of people discouraging travel is, well, discouraging. I'm rather biased due to multiple wonderful experiences of working in other countries. That's right, although I did travel, I worked as well. My goodness! I figure, without any backing other than many hostel conversations with travellers, that student travellers (or recent students) fall into three groups: those who go abroad for a semester of school, those taking 4 to 8 weeks off after graduation to explore and have fun on a whirlwind tour of Europe, and those who go abroad but work at the same time. I mostly associate with the third option and a wee bit of the first.

I can honestly say travelling does give you skills that are transferable to the workplace, particularly if moving somewhere to work. I'm basing this on moving to Scotland when I was 21 for 16 months, working in Florida for thirteen months right after that, and moving to France for two months a couple of years ago to take French classes. And as a quick side note, to anyone who says those adventures were a waste of money, I made more money working at Walt Disney World once I became a server than any job I have had since. Related, here is how you apply!

Skills improved by living abroad
  • Problem-solving skills - Example problem, I just arrived in a new country, can't find my way around, and have no where to live. You probably don't have you usual support network and changing your mind and trying to escape (i.e., go back home) will probably be very, very expensive. There will constantly be unknowns, like moving to any new place. It takes longer to do things, and you sometimes need to be clever to figure out the system. You're just forced to think more. Thinking more is good. (I realise not having a place to live or struggling to find something doesn't seem like a real problem, but it kinda does suck when you're living out of your backpack, sleeping on a shite hostel bed, and screw up every time you try to count change in the local currency.)

  • Talking to strangers - In the fancy schmancy business world, we like to call this 'networking'. In moving abroad, I call it speeddating for friends. I moved to Scotland with two people, one who I knew decently well (Hi Shannon!) and one who I knew well enough to say hi to in the hallways of the Kelley Building (Hi Keri!) To make friends and build any kind of social circle you need to talk to people, go outside of your comfort zone (for some people), and just talk. You go to events where you don't know anyone, in hopes of making a friend. You say yes to any social thing, because you need to meet people. I actually feel like I'm losing this skill the longer I stay in PEI because I know so many people here. After moving home from working at Disney World, I would talk to anyone with ears. Now, not so much because I sit quietly in an office all day. Good bye, skills. For many people, going to an event where you know no one is hard. Travelling alone or moving abroad forces you to do it.
  • Decision-making skills - Living in other places improved my decision making skills. Yes, it's true folks, my decision-making skills used to be even worse. It's a shock I even managed to dress myself in the morning. I blame PEI being so familiar and unchanging, sigh. When you are used to being into a routine in a familiar environment, you barely need to make decisions for everyday things, you already know the answer. Strip your world of the familiarity in terms of location and people, and sometimes the decisions are a bit harder. You're forced to do more thinking for yourself.
  • Sense of direction - Travelling on your own forces you to get really good at understanding maps and asking strangers for directions. That being said, don't get cocky, you will get lost somewhere.
  • Self confidence? SCORE! - I don't want to say, "OMG! I WENT TO EUROPE FOR THREE WEEKS AND I CHANGED SO MUCH AND I REALLY FOUND MYSELF," because if you said that, I would laugh at you. Unless you did change, i.e., got pregnant or lost your arm in a drunken fall the the Eiffel Tower stairs. In that case, it's okay, you did change, OMG. However, moving anywhere forces you to be more in charge of yourself. Simple things become challenging (try getting a bank account or cashing a cheque in Scotland, seriously, it's like trying to build an aquarium on the freaking moon) and the little successes seem to count so much more than they did at home. And afterwords they don't even seem like that big of a deal. I found a room to rent in Aix-en-Provence, France for two months which I finally secured in the Toronto Airport waiting for my flight to France, enrolled for a month of French classes, and didn't know anyone within 200 km. Being outside of or even on the borderline limits of your comfort zone is a bit daunting, but rewarding.
The end. In a related note, my triannual "Can't take it anymore need multiple month adventure!!!" anniversary is coming up at the end of the year. I can feel the need for change creeping up, and so far I'm moving at the end of the month (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and eventually in with le boyfriend (!!!*infinity). One-year lease, then... Asia. Maybe. Africa!! I dunno. JUPITER.

In conclusion: if you want to, go travel. If you have student loans, get a working holiday visa and then go travel. Passports are your friends.

Monday, February 13, 2012

What I wished I learned in school and why I won't host a dinner party

Hi there!

Remember that time we went to school? That was fun. We learned so many useful things: analysis of 18th century poetry, logarithms, what time two trains leaving two different stations would meet, how we will instantly lose weight by travelling to the moon (mass vs. weight), and peeing on a handkerchief and holding it over our mouths would save us during a chlorine-gas attack in World War I (should we be forced to travel back in time).

This weekend I wished someone had pulled me aside in high school and said, "You know all those advanced science and math classes you are taking? Maybe instead of doing that you should take cooking class. I know all the teachers are encouraging you to take the science and math courses, and you think you are going to do your BSc in either math or physics, but you're not going to. However, you are going to consistently get angry in your mid to late twenties about your cooking skills."

(Note: I'm actually glad I took the courses I did in high school; it meant I hardly had to study during first and second year university and spent my calculus class studying Spanish and rocking verb conjugations. And I got scholarships and cash prizes. But not for English class which I why I am rebelling and starting sentences with prepositions.)

On Friday night I told a friend (with whom I had just cooked supper - I did important things like cut vegetables and placed things in the oven) that people shouldn't fear cooking. Gone are the days of an overwhelming $495 cook book requiring ingredients that can be pronounced only by masters of all Latin-based languages*. The internet and its users can inspire, coach, guide, advise, escort, educate, demonstrate, direct, nurture, and show us the way around a kitchen**. It need not be complicated, help has been provided in the metropolis of the Internet.

* slight exaggeration
** thank you, Also, if you have trouble remembering how to spell thesaurus, think of a dinosaur that specialises in vocabulary. Its species is called the saurus.

Unfortunately, my speech of the previous night did nothing for my confidence/skills/awesomeness the following night. I had previously told le Boyfriend that I would cook curry for us to eat on Saturday night and he would tell me he loved it. Actually, I didn't tell him he would have to tell me he loved it. It was supposed to be so flavourful and delicious and life-changing that he would not be able to control himself and would stand up tall, microphone in hand, and declare that he loved Jen's curry and eating it was like a dance party in his esophagus. In the slim chance it did not cause his tongue to burst in an eruption of flavour fantasticness, he should tell me he finds it delicious anyway. Lying is sometimes okay.

I decided I would take this recipe, eggplant mushroom curry, and be one step closer to becoming Kitchen Goddess of Beauty Happiness Triumph and Glory.

Now, things that wrong. First off, I don't like mushrooms. Second, after baking the eggplant as directed, I realised baked eggplant looks like cat intestine and the look of it makes me want to rip my own appendix from my body. The taste, while not awful, isn't on my top 200 flavours and I discarded the baked eggplant insides because they screamed 'murder victim' rather than 'divine vegetable of taste sensation'. Not gonna lie, I had never bought eggplant before nor had I ever cooked it. Turns out I probably won't buy eggplant again unless I'm in a water balloon fight against someone I hate or a ruthless dictator. In that case, the large, misshaped, colourful eggplant could easily be mistaken for water balloon. I would attack my enemy with the eggplant, and quickly retreat in my helicopter. My enemy would be blinded by the repulsive vegetable and I would be interviewed by Peter Mansbridge, Peter Jennings, and other Peter's on how it feels to have saved the world.

Third issue of the recipe: I am a disorganized mess and not very efficient in the kitchen. I'm getting better, but I'm still one of the few people who can't put 'organized' on the skills section of her resume. Since it took me far too long to scoop the intestines out of the gagging eggplant, the clock was slowly ticking away to the supper hour of Mediterranean countries. While I think supper is best enjoyed outside under the stars on a patio at an hour NO EARLIER than 9:00pm, le Boyfriend had declared he was hungry (in a kind and undemanding way, like, "Yay! Food! Can't wait to eat! Boy, am I hungry at this non-Mediterranean supper hour!") about 1.5 hours prior and I was getting angry and stomping on the kitchen floor because eggplant was put on Earth to destroy my peaceful life of butterflies and rainbows. So I felt like I was late, which makes me sweat and panic, and I was barely any further ahead than I had been 1.5 hours earlier due to eggplant of life destruction. Due to my dislike of the recipe's two key ingredients as mentioned in its name (eggplant and mushroom), I decided to just throw in a heap load of random veggies and rename it 'random veggie Jen MacCurry'.

Things went wrong some more.

Apparently coconut milk has a multiplier effect when in heat. In heat as in being dumped into a frying pan, not as in feeling eager to breed. I dump in more than the recipe calls for. After realising that was a poor decision, I lied and said to le Boyfriend that there was too much coconut milk because 'it fell in'. He looked at me curiously. I said it was lumpy. He sensed further interrogation would be bad, and he wisely asked no further questions.

Too much coconut milk turned into way too much coconut milk as the heat caused it to breed even more coconut milk. It was like chopping up one starfish and then watching it turn into 90 million hundred starfish.

The result of too much coconut milk meant the spices were useless, despite me dumping in so much hot chili pepper stuff that my tongue should had exploded. What felt like one million hours of work tasted like veggies swimming in coconut milk. They needed Life Savers candy to ensure they wouldn't drown. (Ha! Candy pun.)

Conclusion: cooking needs a Ctrl+Z function.

Looking back, this doesn't seem so bad and, in the least, gives me something to write about. At the time, I had already been in a sad/angry mood during the afternoon, but had successfully beat it into submission. Unfortunately the cooking thing gave a one-up green mushroom (i.e., an extra life in Mario Bros.) to the insecurities of the afternoon. I blame the eggplant. And a friend's really-OMG-so-awesome-and-insightful ex-boyfriend who basically told me that I wouldn't get a boyfriend if I didn't love cooking. Thanks, friend's ex-boyfriend. I wrote an appreciative card for your insight and put it in the mail, just in time for Valentine's Day. If you find the card a bit damp upon arrival, it's because I covered it in leftover coconut milk. YAY!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yoga and cheap leggings

This title of this post suggests an embarrassing event occurred at yoga tonight as a consequence of wearing cheap leggings. That is not the case, but it does seem quite probable.

This evening I went to my second yoga class. In theory it should had been my third class, but I skipped class no. 2 because I felt like there was a small Tasmanian devil hitting puberty in my abdominal - so angry! I never expected to say this, but I actually like yoga. I thought I would be restless and demand something more sweaty that rips my muscles apart and reattaches them incorrectly, but apparently I can also appreciate something more relaxing. I think I determined the pattern for yoga success: do said muscle-destruction the evening before at kettlebell class. Then I spend the one or two following days looking like a duck when trying to go up or down stairs. This is actually a rather accurate visual because ducks don't have knees, thus stairs are difficult for them. While they can fly up instead, I don't have that option as evolution has yet to provide humans with functioning wings. So I don't bend my kness on stairs, because bending knees requires muscle contraction/expansion/whatever it is muscles do. As a consequence of muscle-destructive kettlebell class, stretching muscles the following evening seems like a logical recovery and, equally as important, feels nice. Plus, I like the part when the instructor makes us lie on the floor (in a slow, 90-step process with lots of deep breathing) and relax. It's like nap time for adults! More so, the instructor has a soft soothing voice so it kind of sounds like someone is humming you to sleep.

That all being said, I don't understand the purpose of really expensive yoga clothes (*cough* lulu lemon *cough*). Well, I kind of do, as I have spent the equivalent of a small country's GDP on bicycles, bike clothing, and bike accessories, but my sit bones and I are very confident it is worth spending extra dollars on better quality bike shorts. Maybe there is a different form of super advanced yoga that does demand proper pricey yoga clothing, but I certainly hope people don't feel intimidated and that they can't try it because they don't have "real" yoga clothing. Anything non-restricting will do (although I have avoided my previously discussed stretchy comfortable high-dollared bike shorts as the excessive crotch padding doesn't scream 'yoga' as much as 'weak bladder'). In actuality, I think yoga in a bathing suit isn't unreasonable. I was going to suggest naked yoga, and it probably does have its place among a few specific market segments, but that may discourage newcomers.

I also feel yoga has a place in office environments. Yoga seems to stretch you out, like rolling out dough and increasing its elasticity. Sitting at a desk all day turns your body back into the ball of dough. It would be wonderful to have a light yoga class at lunchtime, outside in the sunshine. (My imagination doesn't support winter. It's like an outdated version of flash and 'winter' doesn't load.)

During yoga I was also thinking about what it means in terms of body language. I was supposed to be clearing my mind, but apparently I don't do that very well. Typically one with 'closed' body language might be assumed to be disinterested, unapproachable, self conscious, etc. Yoga forces you to open your body, let you be seen, and hopefully helps some people feel more 'open' on the inside.

In laughing-dirty work humour unrelated to yoga, I was wearing a dress at work yesterday that had zippers on the sleeves. Someone chirped, "Oooh, easy access!" and I said, "It's a dress, all dresses are easy access." If it were possible to do a winky face emoticon in real life, I would had done that there ;) . What I didn't bring up is that after wearing new pantyhose for an entire four hours a medium-sized hole managed to materialize in my crotch. Touche, realllly easy access. Which brings me to my point de l'heure, that any 'designer' that puts a seam right between your legs is clearly a man, has never worn pantyhose, or has incredibly thin legs. You know how the packaging brags "double constructed toes" or whatever is it? How about quadruple constructed crotch. See previously mentioned extra padded bike shorts for inspiration. (Not really.)

Of course, the real solution is simple for the not-freezing days that I highly recommend: thigh highs. Thank you logical people of the fashion industry. My apparently massive thighs and I salute you.

Note: unlike the models in the photos, please make sure your dress/skirt/bottom item of clothing is long enough to cover the top bits of thigh highs or people may think you 'charge' for 'special services' that involve 'closeness' of 'genitalia'.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

YYG observations

I've been spending a lot of time at the airport lately. Unfortunately, this is not a result of long layovers en route somewhere amazing and wonderful, but is actually for work purposes. The Charlottetown Airport is special because it's tiny and kind of treated more like a train station. You could arrive 90 minutes before your flight, or you could arrive 25 minutes before your flight, provided you have no luggage to check and have already printed your boarding pass at home. Otherwise, you should be prepared to arrive 45-50 minutes before your flight if you are from away; 15 minutes if you are an Islander or have 'strong Island connections' (not as in flight connections, but as in having family in PEI, previously visited, or perhaps once ate a potato or at least strongly considered eating a potato). That being said, sometimes it can take longer to check in if you're from PEI because it must be asked how the family is doing. A detailed answer with some new gossip is expected.

During my time at yee ol' YYG, I've witnessed a phenomena that would probably almost never take place in the airport of a metropolis. It shall be called the Fly Away Support Clan (aye). I estimate that 80% of people flying out bring at least three people with them to the Airport for support. In some cases, the Support Group spends a bit of time at the airport while the flyer checks in. Flyer checks in, all is determined to be satisfactory, good byes are said. The second type of Support Group stays a bit longer until the flyer decides to proceed through security. Flyer heads to security, support group says good bye and leaves.

The remaining two Support Groups are a bit more irritating and surprisingly frequent. As part of my jobby-job, I approach people and ask if they are visitors or "currently live in PEI" (you have to be very careful with how you word this). This is a bit more difficult when the traveller is surrounded by a small entourage. The first remaining Support Group hovers by security to make sure the traveller gets through okay. They aren't exactly standing in line, but standing almost in line watching the exciting process of their person pulling off half of her clothing, pulling miscellaneous "dangerous" items from carry-ons, proving electronics aren't actually bombs, etc. This creates a bottleneck because new people end up standing behind the Support Group, surprised to find a line at such a tiny airport.

The last Support Group takes on the role as personal security guards to the flyer. They basically escort the traveller through the security line to the point they get asked for a boarding pass and identification. I'm sure this happens all the time in major international airports. You know, the ones where they don't let you in/near the line unless you're actually going somewhere. (Note that I appreciate in some situations it may be necessary, such as a child travelling alone, someone in need of assistance, etc.)

I mentioned above how careful one most be with wording when determining who is a visitor and who is a PEI resident. I made a critical error at first by asking, "Are you from PEI or were you visiting?"

"Oh yeah, I'm from here, just visiting." (I'm constantly relearning that asking a male an 'or' question is pointless.)

"Okay, do you currently live here?"

"No, I moved away 15 years ago."

"Great! I'm handing out blah blah blah blah blah to visitors."

"Oh, I'm not a visitor, I'm from here."


So now I carefully and politely ask people if they currently live in PEI or if they were visiting. It's still tricky but communication is improving.

And lastly, most of you are travelling with waaaaaay too much luggage. Keep it simple, friends. (MacPhail proverb. The end.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Resolve me!

I've been trying to think of a new year's resolution. I realise that January is more than half over (woohoo!!!), but I'm late for most things so being late on a resolution is acceptable, unsurprising, and even expected.

I was strongly considering giving up pizza for 2012 and then realised I already ate pizza in 2012. On January 1st. I made it an entire 17.5 hours into the new year until I broke a (potential) resolution that I had been thinking about but forgot when the important test came. Thank God I'm not a smoker considering I can't even quit something that doesn't have addictive properties.

I toyed with the idea of eating properly. You know, using a fork or spoon instead of my hands or feet.


Exercise more is common, but I don't really feel like that should be a resolution for me because it's boring. Plus I already am a rather active person and don't enjoy just sitting around. Last night and tonight being exceptions due to external factors. Actually, due to the internal factors of not feeling super well.

Another new year's resolution I have highly considered is the goal of being on television. It doesn't have to be anything significant, I just need to be able to identify myself somewhere on the screen.

How I Will Get on TV

  • CBC Reporter - Le boyfriend lives with a CBC reporter. I'm sure he will eventually need extras or an opinion for something. I would be good for weather stories as I prefer to describe weather in terms of how it feels or how it makes me feel. Examples: "Shoot me in the face" is MacCode for "it's snowing a lot and I had to walk somewhere but it's not snowing enough that work will be canceled and my boot is leaking." "It's like being stabbed with needles in the eyeballs" means there is precipitation mixed with some form of ice and it's awfully windy. "I'm so happy!" means it's sunny and I'm sweating and rolling around on the grass in my front or backyard.
  • Work - Sometimes it's a slow news day and something we do is determined to be noteworthy enough to share with the rest of PEI THE WORLD. I've been quoted in the newspaper, surely being on television is the next step. In fact, it's one of the reasons I keep make-up at work. That and freshly applied make-up doesn't always react well to walking or biking to work in most types of weather.
  • Win something - This strategy came to me at a hockey game the other night. The 50/50 total value was climbing, climbing, climbing reaching a point that the winner would get around $2000. I bought tickets because I was actually quite sure I would win, make a small speech and thank "the man above" (person doing the lighting), and get on television. Unfortunately I didn't win the draw so I was unable to see this plan to fulfillment. Now, to win something of value.
  • Go to the gas station - One morning the price of gas changed - I think it went down. My mum was at the pump trying to pump gas (it had been awhile) when she was approached by someone from CBC. Mystery Reporter asked if he/she could ask my mum some questions and Mama said yes (like me, she wished to be on tv). Unfortunately her response was not aired; one can only assume her opinion was wrong and not supported by the CBC. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is not the voice of the people.
  • Right place, right time - hanging out in frequently filmed locations, such as the province house when the house is in session.

In case this doesn't work, my back-up plan is to learn how to suddenly turn from skating forwards to skating backwards, and to be able to stop on the side and spray ice shavings up from my blades. So far zero progress has been made as I skipped skates on Monday and Wednesday. Apparently setting goals and resolutions really isn't for me.

New resolution: think of resolution for 2013.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Excuses? Excuses!

Hey Blog! Don't you look a little rusty and ignored like a pop can collection stored in a flooded basement?

Why the temporary abandonment? Well, a variety of reasons, readers. (All two of you. I love you both!)
  • Christmas holidays - Although they arguably provided me with more time, people were home visiting and I preferred to completely overdose myself on holiday cheer in hopes of 'needing a social break' in January. It has never worked in previous years. Nor did it work this year. Instead, I have come to expect to be busy/eating all the time and get confused and unhappy when I have a free hour or twelve.
  • Lost - You know that popular television show that aired for six seasons? During it's first season I was living in Scotland (aye) and although they started airing it in January 2005 (aye!) I didn't watch it (sad, aye) as I got in the habit of not watching television there because, well, it kinda sucked (super aye!!). I didn't watch season two as I was living in Florida and watched television even less there than in Scotland. The only channel I knew was the "What's on tv" channel (a good one to know, if one knows only one). I didn't watch season three because I just didn't, and by that point I felt too far behind and was busy having a lot of "Ugggggggggggh, I just moved home from Florida and I miss fireworks and cheapness and my friends and feeling warm" pity parties for myself. Finally, I saw the last Lost episode as a friend was having a viewing party. I did some homework before I went so I could at least enjoy it and know a bit about the key characters, and determined it was probably a show I would had enjoyed. A little over a year later I see the DVDs for Lost, season one, sitting quietly at the library. Of course, they have to sit quietly at the library for if they were loud, they would be asked to leave. I finished season one right before leaving on holiday in October and spent some of Christmas break battling a cold (battling = an excessively dramatic verb for something so minor) and watching season two. Now I have season three from the library (yes, it was also sitting quietly) and, well, am kind of getting sick of tv and Jack (aka Matthew Fox aka Party of Five character all grown up). However, given that I have the season rental for only a week, it's a lot of television commitment that has greatly reduced internet time over Christmas break and early January. Also, because I couldn't remember Matthew Fox's last name, I googled it and found this link quite quickly and had a nice chuckle. More also, I never watched Party of Five.
  • Laptop - It's aging, takes a long time to turn on, has temporary freezes (I like to call them rest breaks) when doing complex things like opening a new tab, and stays a few words behind when typing something. So less laptop usage as less (laptop working well) = more (waste of time watching the hourglass cursor mock my efforts at productivity).
  • Dating someone - Lately, I mostly just make him watch Lost with me. I'm sure he's thrilled with how our relationship is developing and how special our time is together, particularly as he has already seen the whole series. Only 2.5 more seasons to go! (=approx 60 hours of television as some extras must be watched, and if I recall correctly, the series finale was 13 hours long.)
  • Work - Work was really, really busy right before Christmas. Intensely staring at a laptop screen all day makes me less likely to wish to intensely stare at it all evening.
  • Trying to go to bed earlier - I tried three times. Didn't work.
  • Twilight - For one week I read the first Twilight book. I haven't finished it yet because.... well, because I lost interest. The book is inefficiently written and things drag ooooout foreeeeever. Also, I couldn't help but laugh every instance 'beautiful' was written because it made me think of this by the Oatmeal. (Go read it, it will bring you laughter and possibly closure to lingering problems and issues from your childhood.)
  • Lack of Bike Love - Although I don't write much in the peak of summer (all four days of it) because I don't understand the concept of indoor activity during that time, I (safely) daydream when I bike, increasing the probability that I'll think of something decent to send to the Internet.

That's all. This chunk of writing is all about not writing. Next time I will write about New Year's resolutions. Last year I wrote about giving up chocolate for a year (I was a little drunk post-levee and apparently full of terrible ideas). Of course, I meant a year as observed by a small village in Papau New Guinea that lasts for only a few weeks. Based on their calendar, I was very successful and am now a hero. This year I will not give up anything because it's a leap year. That one extra day without insert unhealthy thing could cause a dramatic, irreversible ripple in the sensitive space-time-water-earth-wind-fire-heart continuum. I don't want to put us all through that. Destroying your soul makes me sad.