Sunday, March 15, 2009

Terraplane blues

things I dislike:

getting up before dawn.
delayed flights.
missing passengers
pubescent kids on field trips. (why aren't they ever as clever and witty like on Juno or Gilmore Girls or my dim recollections of my friends' discussions?)
middle seats.
the thought of returning to work on monday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

a cottage in the city

after spending the last few days tracing the West Coast and chasing the ocean, i keep thinking that i'm at the cottage when i wake up in the morning. a cottage in the middle of the city. it's pretty chilly at dawn and my grandparents' place is old, with creaky wooden floors like the cottage.

yesterday i continued my journey by biking around the entire coastline of Stanley Park. there were some pretty treacherous parts of the trip, like one stretch along the bottom of the bluffs where i had to dodge and dart from spring-thawed rocks and ice plummeting free fall from the cliff's edges. i almost flew off my bike trying to navigate through the golden orange silt on the muddy trail. i actually watched another cyclist lose control as he zoomed down a hill, hit the sandy beach, soared over his handlebars and landed on his knees right before the ocean, as though making some kind of spontaneous tribute. pretty interesting sight.

i never want to leave the sea.

i went for dinner with amanda and maria and sloth last night. we had sangria on the patio. sangria! on the patio! in march! with art students! at a Commercial Drive restaurant which featured an art gallery in the back, and children eating banana chips in the front. i love this city. i had a coconut something soup. there's something about this city's food; it's so healthy and creative. when my mother used to live here some twenty-five years ago, she used to work at a cafe, and the favourite sandwich there was shrimp and alfalfa sprouts, a fad that has yet to fully hit Ontario. and yet somehow, i've pretty much been living on nothing but nanaimo bars and coffee this whole time.

the girls wanted to go home early, so i ended up meeting with gavin again (whose name i keep mistyping as vagin), to go dancing with his friends, who happened to be ten males. for whatever reason, we walked through Davie, which is sort of the Church-and-Wellesley gay district of Vancouver. comforting to know that Best Butt competitions thrive in all parts of the country. i wanted to re-live the fun night i had with duffield at the gay club in Fredericton, but i guess gavin's buddies weren't that kind of crowd. instead we headed for some club on Granville called Stone Temple. gavin warned me that the clubbing scene here is nothing like Toronto's or even Ottawa's (no Goin' Steady. i guess, or Mod Nightsons), but i still learned all sorts of interesting lessons about the vancouver club:

1. despite extremely strict security that scans your ID, pats you down and searches all your pockets, AND takes photos of every person that walks in, there are some pretty sketchy looking characters in the club.

2. ...and nobody over the age of twenty-five. either that, or everyone ages well.

3. despite #1, if you're hoping for some fleeting human contact from the young and decent-looking bouncer after he frisks all of your male friends, he will probably skip over you if you are a frail and innocent looking little asian girl. boy i had him fooled. i definitely snuck in a calculator.

4. when i become president of the world, i will ban all playing of Queen and ACDC in clubs before 1:30 AM.

5. seven dollar beers???? but...$3 bar rails.

#5 made the night especially fun. my grandmother did not understand why i was so thirsty this morning, however.

today is korean White Day, but i had jajangmyun a month early. my grandparents and my unce and aunt took me out for lunch in the heart of the mini-Koreatown located on North Road, which straddles the border between Burnaby and Port Coquitlam. as one might guess, there are a lot of koreans in vancouver, and so jajangmyun and chigae at a korean restaurant is a valuable part of the vancouver experience. my grandmother and i strolled through a korean supermarket afterwards, where i perused through the discount bin full of pencil cases and detailed stationary with printed with inspirational Engrish. at some point i'm going to have to try out the delicious Japanese sushi here, as there are actual Japanese people living in this city. i will first have to get over my ethical objections to eating seafood first.

tonight all my friends back in Toronto are going to the law school prom. i'm sad i can't go but i think i'm going to see the Sadies show at the Biltmore Cabaret. i was debating it earlier, because it feels weird to see a Toronto band in Vancouver when you live in Toronto. but it's the Sadies, dammit. and gloria's last night in town...till May.

Friday, March 13, 2009

the ocean, the mountains, and my homeboy suzuki

i ended up running into David Suzuki on the beach. i know; how much more stereotypically Vancouver can you get? i was just sitting on a log when i heard this man on the other end of the log ranting angrily about the upcoming 2010 Olympics (to a film crew – he wasn’t talking to himself, although at first i thought he was). from what i gather in the newspapers, nobody’s very excited about the messy headache the winter olympics will bring.

it costs several thousands dollars to get Suzuki to come speak at your event, so i considered it a privilege to sit still and listen to him...while taking not-so-discreet photos of him with my cameraphone. good ol’ suzukes will understand the photographic souvenir collecting impulse – we’re both Asians. after listening to him speak, i wanted to ask him to write my 30 page paper on poverty - but instead i just asked him to caulk up the cracks in my condo. jokes.

i’m eating a yummy “scram-crois” breakfast at one of my favourite cafes on the Drive, Café Deux Soleils, eyeing my neighbour’s veggie sausages. i suddenly realize that i haven’t touched meat since i’ve arrived in town. Vancouver will do that to you, sneaky town, turn you into a vegetarian without even knowing it. it will also give you a fine caffeine addiction. especially this café. they’re playing the Stills, and kids are playing on the stage which has been converted into a play area and there is artsy poetry on the walls, and more hipsters and Yummies (yuppie mummies powering SUV strollers and two dogs) than you can shake a fist at. also, my delicious but meatless breakfast cost me $12 (shakes fist). when i go home, i’m going to eat a pile of loblaws bacon.

yesterday i spent a lovely evening with gavin, an old friend of mine. i recently noticed that though we knew each other in high school and once spent an entire night at a party hanging out in the bathroom together, i don’t remember a single word he’s ever uttered. he was that quiet.

anyway, he invited me over to his place in kitsilano which i’m thinking of moving into, and after confirming that it is not a dirty slum (as if they have any of those in kitsilano), we went out for a beer and a long walk along the beach. it was a beautiful night. you could see the blinking lights from the ski hills reflected in the water of the bay. the parking lot was filled with trailers, all silent because the filming crew had gone home for the day. i had this urge to trespass but a security guard came along and talked to us about the weather. gavin and i continued along the beach until we found a playground, and it was on those swings i discovered that you can actually see the stars in the night sky here.

the muscles in my leg are still spasming painfully from yesterday’s high-heeled fiasco. also, i think i may have *somehow* gotten a sunburn.

there’s this huge hopscotch someone has drawn on the sidewalk along the Drive. it spans over the entire block and contains over 200 steps (skips? hops? how are hopscotch sets measured?). when you reach the very end, you see that someone has written at the end YOU DON’T HAVE TO END YOUR CHILDHOOD. i watched pedestrian kids and adults skip across it all afternoon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

you can't hide from god if god is a mountain

i woke up this morning before dawn with a slight headache. ah, jetlag. feels like 10AM. my body is confused.

to prepare for my job interview i slipped on my black high heel pumps and immediately regretted them as soon as i left my place. i once attended a Bay Street etiquette seminar that told me proper women's office attire includes two inch heels. this is why i am here right now, and not on Bay Street. i am far more of a men's loafers kind of gal, or better yet, flipflops. i hobbled a few steps, sat down on the curb, and switched back into my sneakers. the rest of my trip went smoothly. thank god i remembered to change back into the heels at the actual interview.

i experienced the pleasure of riding the SkyTrain, which is one of my favourite features about vancouv, once you make it through the frighteningly rabid crowd at rush hour pushing like football rioters through the train doors. vancouver, for some reason, can't build underground, probably due to the fact that things are too close to the ocean. this is why none of the houses here have actual basments. it's also why they built their main public transportation a storey above ground, which is an incredible feeling to ride. commuting downtown on the SkyTrain feels like being flung through the air like a bird, zooming across the city. it's a curious sense of flying as you watch all the buildings go by, with those beautiful but ominous mountains always looming ahead north. a bit like the loop in Chicago, only there are less high rises around here until you get downtown.

my interview was at the courts downtown right by robson square. i don't spend a lot of time here. it's perfectly trendy and shi shi and the architecture is beautiful, but it's this area that makes me remember that all city downtown cores, to a certain extent, are the same. every respectable city will have a Tiffany's and dozens of starbucks lining the pavement, along with brisk looking businesspeople hurrying down the sidewalk while checking their crackberries. this isn't want makes vancouver vancouver. what makes vancouver vancouver, however, are those huge mountains that tower over the tallest towers.

this is what i like about vancouver. toronto, as a canadian city, is a celebration of manmade things, the finest of human achievements. the tall skyscrapers that replace the sky and house the entirely artificial thing we call the stock market, the ultramodern architects and abstract sidewalk sculptures, the vibrant cultural night life, the bustling crowds. toronto gets to bask in the glory of its own human company, whereas vancouver, seated between the snow-capped mountains and the infinite ocean, can never escape the omnipresent face of nature, always there, always reminding you of the untamed, uninhabited uncharted part of life. if toronto's definitives words are (and i don't mean this in an entirely critical way) celebrative hubris, vancouver's is harmony, or at least an attempt to reconcile with nature. it's everywhere, from the pot-smoking hippies to the yuppies jogging home from their yoga class, to the organic cafes serving nothing but natural and healthy snacks.

speaking of, after my interview, i headed over to the Vancouver Art Galley (VAG, haha) on the recommendation of my friend james. i walked right past the admissions desk and into the gallery cafe where i treated myself to a carmelized fennel and asiago soup, with a multi-grain bun and freshly squeezed organic orange juice. i sat out on the patio to enjoy the sun.

then a crow stole my bread. see? nature always wins.

i'm going to head over to kitsilano now, to check out a potential apartment and to contemplate on the beach. it'll be just like the time the band went down to halifax. everyone knew we were from ontario because we insisted on hanging out on an ocean beach that was still far too cold for the locals.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

sunbathing on the drive

parts of Vancouver make me feel like i’m in a beautiful dream and should be on my guard to wake up soon, or that by some miracle i gotten into heaven after dying. it just seems too good, too perfectly tailored for me to be real. especially this part of town where grandma lives on Commercial Drive. half of the stores are some fair trade independent coffee shop. every other store seems to sell used books, guitars (this one shop is full of Gold Tone instruments), records, pizza, vegetarian restaurants, or shops with "ACTIVISM" in their names.

despite my grandmother’s complaints about it being so cold she has to sit by the heater, it’s actually it’s sunny and the beginning of patio weather right now. the concept seemed so foreign to an Ontario girl used to March winters, that when i walked past people drinking sangria on the patio and chatting, i did a double take. something about those people seem awfully happy and awesome...oh wow, they’re drinking booze outside!

i think the most heavenly/dreamy quality of everything is the fact that i'm not sitting in a cubicle working. although i have to say i encounter an awful lot of people around here who could easily be my clients.

i haven't been back to vancouver since i was twenty-one. i have spent a few of my summers hanging out here, exploring. just taking the bus into town from the airport flooded me full of amazing BC memories:

...going to a party with meg, hanging out in the back porch, drinking Growers and just chilling out...

...busking on the streets with my grandmother's guitar on a hot summer day...

...attempting to visit every single record store in the city...

...taking a trip on the ferry to Vancouver Island, spending the day sitting on a dock in a quiet town, watching my cousin fish...

this summer is going to be amazing.

NOTE: the rocky mountains blow my mind, even from the airplane. i can't believe i've never set foot in that part of the wilderness. this will have to change.

NOTE: the airport's self-check in machines offer services in English, French, Spanish, and Korean. i love taking over the world.

okay, i better go and prepare for this interview now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

gloria's history of hamilton

last weekend i went down to hamilton to speak at a global citzenship conference at McMasters.

The totality of gloria's previous experience with hamilton:

1. i was six months old. my family moved down to Hamilton so my father could commence his studies there. six months later, he decides he hates it so much that we move back to waterloo. TO WATERLOO.

2. i was seventeen years old. i drove all the way down to hamilton with tim and jeremy to see godspeed you black emperor. while i was there, i visited my old home, which i obviously had no memory of, a chapter of my life that had ended a long time ago. i went to a mall, where most of the stores were flashing giant CLOSING SALE signs. ever since the world moved into a new age, the steel towns have been dying. i had the bizarre feeling of being at the end of the world.

the show that evening was being held at the Tivoli theatre, which was a beautiful dignified old style theatre, the kind that just don't exist in cities anymore. polmo polpo opened. years later i would fall in love with the man that was Sandro Perri, but i did not know it then. then, i was young, underaged, and way past my bed time. by the time Godspeed went on stage past midnight, i was asleep in my cushioned seat. the haunting melodies and lyrical images of the apocalypse penetrated my sleep. it was the most beautiful, disturbing dream i ever had. all of a sudden, i really was at standing on the edge.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

on the road again

apologies for the long absence. it's been a long couple of months of school and work, and not really doing anything or going anyway except for those two naturally i'm going a little crazy. luckily, things are starting to pick up, and i'm going to be on the move again, so i've come back to updating this blog. i promise to try to be interesting...stay tuned!

coming soon:

march 5 - Oshawa, Ontario, with the band
march 10 - Belleville, Ontario, with the band (is it really sad that i've never actually been to belleville before?)
march 13 - Vancouver. that's right...sensible people go south for their reading week, and i go west. i have a job interview there, so it's not quite a vacation, but i do intend to go look at the ocean or something, maybe even sneak in a day trip to the island?

in May, i will be moving to Vancouver for four months for my summer job, so i have full intentions of working hard...travelling. I've got Seattle, Victoria, Portland, and all the little towns in between in my sights. And exploring vancouver of course. i look forward to taking up yoga and jogging on the beach (yeah right...)

in September, i am moving to AMSTERDAM for four months. yes i am. i'm going to be one of those irresponsible, annoying foreign exchange studnets you always see walking around the city with maps and cheesy smiles. vancouver then amsterdam...if only i smoked weed, it would be heaven.

After eight months away, in January i move back to Toronto to finish up school, and unless things change, I will likely move back to Ottawa for my last summer as an irresponsible student. my parents have been promising me a trip to Korea, and I really hope that happens. I can study for the bar admission exams while on the plane, right?

so stay tuned. for now, i only have to make it till next week...