Friday, December 31, 2004

One thing that is always brought back to me when I get to live with my parents for a while is how much I love reading a decent daily newspaper. The Globe and Mail is no Guardian, but it is, at least, a fairly reliable and intelligently written (save Leah McLaren (fluffhead, but not even endearingly so) and Margaret Wente (deranged)) publication. I've been reading it online while in LA, but the online version doesn't have all the comment and random tidbit stories, as well, the online version doesn't spread out all over my kitchen table quite so well.

I don't know whether I am more or less happy at having the daily paper in the wake of the tsunamis in the Indian Ocean, however. Participating in this event as a weepy-faced newsprint fiend leaves me feeling like yet another victim/perpetrator of our strange modern mediated kind of life.

On a somewhat related note, the Canadian government is matching donations by Canadians dollar for dollar. The kind of cash that's been pouring in from around the world is going to make the difference between a lot of people getting drowned and a whole lot of people dying from disease. Hey, more people died in the flu of 1918 than in the four years of war that lead up to it.

My dad and I were looking at the stats of people killed in natural disasters. The highest recorded number was over 3 million in a landslide in China in 1931. What was shocking was that this number doesn't come close to some of the massacres that we humans have practised on ourselves.

On a completely unrelated note:
I was in the Sally Ann looking for tapes for the car when I came across a cassette that warped my tender mind. The tape was called "I Hope You Find Jesus This Christmas" and the cover art was a photo of a plastic doll (with a clearly visible neck joint) swaddled in a yellow blanket with a empty cigarette pack, open, lying across its lap. Superimposed over this is a 1980s happy, reverant kind of man with a shag, looking down at the Christ child... or the empty pack of smokes, it's hard to tell. Anyway, pretty unbelievable, in all senses of the word. Didn't buy it; went home with Billy Joel's "An Innocent Man" instead.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Click Here to Send Money to Tsunami Victims

Hello Dear Readers.

Please donate to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to aid the relief effort in Asia.

They need your cash.


Friday, December 24, 2004

The Social Post (and some other stuff)

What more joy is there in the world than spending time with the other humans who know and love you? Really, pretty much everything pales in comparison.

These past four months have felt like a few weeks to me, but at the same time, certain things are creaky enough that I can tell it's been a while. All the same, some things just slip back into their old comfortable patterns, and this feels best of all.

Have been a perpetual guest at Janey's, stayed up obscenely late over tea with Doretta, done some writing brainstorming and riffed off some Archie comic jokes with Jeremy. The other night I saw Tobias, who I haven't seen in years. I can't remember how many. He seemed taller and I had forgotten what a happy giggly person he is. I finally heard him DJ something (after having been the kind of bad friend that, for years, never comes to your show) and it was great. Doretta and I fell asleep watching "M" (only cause it was 2:30 in the a.m) and the next night, I had the delight of sitting next to her as we watched "A Series of Unfortunate Events" unfold on the screen. She has this great, loud, assertive laugh that I think pisses everyone else in the room off and I get a lot delight out of this, and laugh loudly along with her. I love people who laugh loudly in theatres (Sarah! Genevieve! Alex!), it makes the movie ten times more fun. So this movie has been getting crap reviews, but just go see it anyway. Don't expect anything from the script, just go for Jim Carey calling the baby a "hideous primate" and saying "ba-na-na" to it.

Last week my mom had a party to go to on the same night her grade four class was singing in the Christmas concert, so I got to stand in for her. I like kids, and I think they're really funny, but trying to keep thirty grade fours quiet backstage when I don't know their names is less fun. One of the other teachers was obviously at the end of a very long term. She announced to the children that she was the "Noise Nazi" and that if they knew anything about Nazis, they knew that meant she had no tolerance for noise. Then she proceeded to buttonhole any child (even sweet nerdy quiet children) who even looked like make some sort of sound. This whole procedure left me particularly open-mouthed at an event that was unabashedly Christmas-fied and that contained not the slightest hint of any knowledge that not everyone digs on Christmas.

Anyway. Another shocking recent development is that I think my reading mojo is back. It vanished a year and a half ago (about the time when I quit my boring, get-a-lot-of-reading-done job), perhaps on account of upsetting myself by reading Coetze's "Waiting for the Barbarians" at work and feeling like I was being tortured? In any case, literary world, I'm back, having polished off Eden Robinson's "Monkey Beach" off in a week. Great book. My belief in the power of the written word has been resparked. Especially upon reading a letter that a distant friend posted on her blog about the advent of her sister's death three years ago. It contained so many details that are, well, cliches of the this kind of story, yet she managed to write about them with such a beautiful clarity and intimacy. Tragic and personal and utterly inspiring.

The Skiing Post

It's been two weeks since I got back to Vancouver. As Keanu would say, "whoa." Time flies when you are bunking in with your parents. Let me seperate the times into seperate posts. That way I can be verbose without actually seeming to be too very very verbose. You know?

Last weekend we did the annual family hole-up at Whistler, usually practised over Thanksgiving, but delayed for my sake this year. Drinks were drunk, board games were played and the eating was rich, sweet, fatty and non-stop. The mountains were open for skiing too, so I got to test out my weak little spaghetti legs (I went for a grand total of 4 runs the whole time I was in LA- that's one a month, to the day!) on the slopes for the first time in two years. The first day was pretty good, depsite the dearth of snow. It was a lot like spring skiing, actually, complete with rain down in the village. My legs held up pretty well and my new parabolic skies kept me from looking like too much of an idiot. I have to say, that for a couple of people on the north side of 55, my parents are damn fine skiers. Very in control, which is more than can be said for other members of the family (I spent much of the day trying not to cut off my mom as she made her measured turns down the hill).

On the second day, I went up with my brother Steve. He's a very good skier, so I was looking forward to the day for the speed, the fun, and the learning that comes with skiing with someone better than you. On the chair on way up the top half of the mountain we began to notice that a fair number of snowboarders were downloading their way off the mountain. One of them howled "beware the iccccccce" at us as his chair passed ours. Sure enough, we stopped chatting and listened to the skiing going on below us and all that we could hear was "scraaaaape. scraaaaape." Yikes. Turns out it had rained all the way up the top that night and then cold cold winds blew over it, scouring off any last remants of snow, a la praire dust bowl. Steve's girlfriend Sarah, who works on the mountain, and a ski patrol guy both said to us that the conditions of the day were the worst they had seen in ten years. They also said that this is what skiing back east is like. It was like skiing down the inside of a crusted over freezer.

About halfway through the day, as we were battling our way down another slick slope, hoping there were some scraps of snow on the bottom to stop on, it occured to me that if I fell going this fast on this kind of surface it would more or less be akin to being tossed out of a moving car onto cement. A steep cement hill, to be precise.

But no, no one died, at least no one I know (ski patrol guy said there were a lot of broken wrists that day) although Steve almost dropped a pole over some hostile-looking open creek bed.

Uh, skiing is so fun. So, so fun. Even in crap conditions. Dear Mom and Dad, thanks for teaching me to ski when I was small. I no longer feel stuck and start to cry at the top of steep hills.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Runaway Production

The first sign I was heading back from whence I came was how hungry I was on the Air Canada flight, on account of how they don't feed you anything. Yeah, sure, it's a two and change hour flight, and they did give me the whole can of pop (yes, pop) and not just the little plastic cupful, but come on, food and movies are the soma that makes you forget about how little leg room you have.

From the plane, Vancouver looked the way it almost always does in the winter: wet, dark, overcast, dour. God, it's great to be back. I never feel quite right about dry pavement.

I've never been away somewhere and come home for the holidays, so despite the elite training I have received on the topic from countless movies about this rite of passage, I'm ill-prepared for just how sweet it feels. So much happiness and joy to be home, to see everyone, to go to all the parties.

And how I love Vancouver. Really, it's a great place. It's a city, but a small city, so really, it feels like a town. I can walk down the street and see people I know, I can find common ground with strangers, I can watch the news and the story after the leading story (salvation army volunteers getting robbed of their donation buckets in malls) is about a good samaritan returning a wad of cash she found in the gutter. I love Vancouverites too. They are so unselfconsciously weird. There's a certain kind of average non-conformity that you sometimes see around here that I have never seen in a similar way in LA.

So yeah, I'm home for a bit. If you want to call me, I'm at my parents' house in WV. Let's hang out.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Ring O' Fire

I live on the second story of an old wooden house, so I frequently feel earthquakes up here, especially while sitting on a chair or lying in my bed. Other Angelinos have called me a liar, but really, I feel them. I think life in Japan honed my personal seismograph.

Anyway, there was one just now.

Today, while napping the post-final-exam late morning away, I feel like I felt at least two, but that could have been my addled brain.

I really like feeling little earthquakes. It makes me think of the tension released. It's so... Tori Amos? (sorry, that was cheesy)

Today was our last day of production class. Our teacher Gary wished us well and said, "and I love all of you" Ahhh, it was so great. I love everyone in our class too. My fondness for them shocks me sometimes.

So the kindergarten of first term is over. No more gluing macaroni to construction paper and calling it art, now I have to do things with actual film, like the medium. Just like the title of the degree.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Good Vibrations (I'm Talking 'Bout)

This post is dedicated to my bike.

Ahhhh, my bike, I love it so. I don't ride it so much these days as class runs after dark and I don't bike after dark (or walk--don't worry mom, I wheedle rides home out of classmates).

I bought my bike for sixty clams at the bike store on Vermont. I saw it one day out front, only ten dollars more than the crappy-looking bike next to it. Back when I was eight and my mom decided we could get a cat, we went to the SPCA and met a nice cat and left and my mom said if he was still there the next day, we'd get him. I remember being utterly frozen with anxiety that he would be gone, but the next day he was still there and we took him home. Getting my bike was a lot like that. It was still there the next day, so I bought it.

My bike is blue. It's an old Huffy beach cruiser, which means it has those nice wide handlebars and a big wide seat with springs and pedal brakes. It has a chain guard that says "Good Vibrations" in white scrawled script. Very California. I even have a basket on the front for groceries. And it's a girl's bike, so I can ride it with a skirt and also mount and dismount it with relative grace and ease. The seat is fairly low too, which helps with the simultaneously-braking-and-putting-foot-out-to-avoid-tipping-over problem.

In the first few weeks of ownership, both tires popped, both times when I wasn't even on the bike. The lady at the bike shop was very apologetic about it, especially when I came in for the second tire. She gave me a deal and did a speedy job on the inner tubes.

Things I can do on my bike without falling over include: answer my phone from inside my bag, button my coat, have a brief conversation with the crossing guard, ride off small curbs and over that massive upheaval of pavement just west of the Zemeckis centre.

Last week I finally collided with something on my bike. I say finally because I have long expected to collide with something, what with all the mingling with foot traffic I do, especially on campus. Of course, I collided with another bike, although we were amidst much foot traffic. This has bent the frame of the front wheel a little, which now wobbles in an endearing way, though does not rub on the frame.

I get a deep sense of contentment riding my bike very slowly next to a friend who is walking, especially between campus and the Zemeckis centre. There is no better wake-up feeling than feeling the air of the morning blow through my wet hair on the way to school. I feel like the coolest person in the world when I coast, standing on one side of the bike, up the small ridge of pavement to my driveway and step off to a walking pace right before the gate.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Long Live the Internets

All hail the information superhighway.

Yes, when I get asked what I want to do when I grow up, it's so hard to articulate an answer. Perhaps it's the fault of those pre-fab lists of professions. What I really want to do when I grow up is stuff like this.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Pining for the Fjords

So the other day I was washing some cutlery and I managed to give myself a big horrible cut on the inside of my finger. It's pretty ghastly. It bled a lot and I had to sit with my hand above my heart for a fairly long time before I even went to bandage it (a whole bunch of gauze and some bright yellow gaffer tape because I don't have any medical tape). Y'all are lucky I don't have a digital camera (and have not yet figured out how to upload photos).

The best thing about this is that I'd go and get stitches if this happened in Canada. As it is, I can't afford the deductible, so I'll just have a scar to remind me of the importance of universal health care.

Luckily, I have a heavily annotated BC Health Guide to assure me that a scar is the worst that's going to happen with it. Thanks Gordon Campbell!