Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Read, Writing, and 'Rithmetic

Since I moved down to Ontario, I've had ample time to get my read on. And read, I have been! I'm already on my 5th book since July. I can't remember a time where I read 5 books in a single year. I love to read but it takes me so long to get through a book. I'm ashamed to even try to calculate how long it took me to read The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (probably 9 months or so). Starting a book is a big commitment because you need to set aside time for it most days of the week. Normally I don't feel like reading after a day at work or whatever else I have going on. Since I have next to nothing going on right now, I'm trying to plow through books.

Here's what I've been reading lately:

1. I finished The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas shortly after I moved back. The tagline of the book explains the story best: "At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own." The story details how the lives of the BBQ-goers all were affected by the slap. Every character is so different from the last and yet, Tsiolkas manages to grasp the inner psyche of every person perfectly. Great book, I highly recommend this one!

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I like to read classic books as often as I can, because they're classics for a reason and are referred to often in conversations and in different media. I thought this book was interesting but it wasn't quite what I thought it was going to be. I feel like it should be renamed How to Be a Charming Salesman. It focuses mostly on business rapports, which doesn't interest me very much. Overall, this book was worthwhile to read, despite much of it being common sense. I know to ask people questions about themselves, I know to try and compliment people, I know I shouldn't brag about myself, I know I should avoid arguing with people just so I can be right. If you are looking for a way to learn how to make good first impressions on people, by all means, read this book. And also, read How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less by Nicholas Boothman. I read it when I was 12 or 13 and I absorbed that book like a sponge. It's quite similar to HTWF&IP but focuses a lot on trying to figure out a person's personality quickly and using it to your advantage.

3. Towelhead by Alicia Erian. A friend lent this to me, oh, maybe a year ago, thinking I'd like it. It's about a young middle-eastern girl who moves to Texas to live with her dad and while there, is sexually exploited by her neighbour and one of her classmates. Meanwhile, her strict father imposes all sorts of rules on her and physically abuses her. While I do tend to be interested in reading about the corruption of young people, I thought this book was terrible. The voice of the narrator was silly, annoying, and unrealistic. I was glad this was a quick read because if I had to read another chapter, I probably would have built a fireplace in my apartment so I could throw this book into it.

4. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I heard the movie was terrible but being intrigued by the story (which as it turns out, is a memoir and all true) and knowing books are almost always better than the movie, I picked it up to read. If you're not familiar with the story, a recently-divorced woman leaves America for a year and travels to Italy to eat, India to pray, and Indonesia to love. I read it fairly quickly. While I enjoyed the book quite a bit, again, the narrator's voice was kind of annoying. Suffice it to say, I don't think Ms Gilbert and I would be friends if I knew her "in real life." I found her kind of tedious and neurotic, but the book contains a lot of facts about the places she visits and I enjoyed that aspect of it. The section of the book which takes place in Bali was probably my favourite as the information she provided about the culture in Bali was interesting.

5. Today I picked up 2 books from the library though I think I'm only going to end up reading one. It's called His Needs, Her Needs (Building an Affair-Proof Marriage) by Willard F. Harley, Jr. I like books about relationships and since Anthony and I have been having a lot of conversations about our needs and such lately, I thought this would be a timely read.

6. The next book I plan to read is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I actually went to the library today in search of it. My dad, seeing my search on the library's online catalogue, said something like, "Why do you want to read that garbage?!" I take it he is not a subscriber to the Ayn Rand fan club. As I mentioned at the beginning of the entry, I read The Fountainhead awhile ago and I loved it. It took me such a long time to read and while I read it, I just wanted to be done. However, I remember as soon as I closed the book after reading the last sentence, I wished it had been longer. Since then I've been planning to read Atlas Shrugged but I haven't gotten around to it.

Well, I'm off to Michigan for the weekend so you probably won't hear from me again until early next week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trip to Windsor and Geocaching

I took a trip to Windsor this weekend to visit a friend of mine who is going to school there. Normally she and I have lunch or dinner together on my way back from Ann Arbor so I decided to go for an overnight trip so we could spend more than a few hours hanging out.

For starters, I've never driven from Sarnia to Windsor, only Windsor to Sarnia. Of course, it is the exact same drive. I'm not sure why, but I hate the drive. I wish it was all on the 401, but I don't really know why, because I hate the 401, too.

Anyway, our first stop was Colasanti's in Kingsville. I'd been there once before back in 2007, though I had no idea at the time where I was. I'm not really sure how to describe Colasanti's other than a clusterfudge of things to do. There's a petting zoo, mini golf, a few gift shops, a restaurant and some kids' carnival-type rides. Colleen and I were more or less only interested in the petting zoo. We both bought some food for the goats and were basically attacked by said goats as soon as we got into the goat area. I felt bad for the little kids (human kids) there since the larger goats could easily push them right over. I was afraid my fingers would get bitten off so I threw the food at the goats and then chased around the kids (the goat type).


Me and my new pregnant friend.

Afterward, we went back to Windsor, had dinner and went to a few bars. At dinner, Colleen was debating about what type of cocktail to get. We both ended up getting White Freezies, which apparently is a Windsor thing (according to a bartender). It's raspberry Sourpuss and banana liquer topped with Sprite. Probably the best drink discovery I've made in years.

Awhile after dinner, we saw some drunk kids cause a car accident in the middle of the intersection of Wyandotte and Ouellette. That was a new one for me and we were both quite stunned. I saw almost the exact same thing happen here in Sarnia tonight, though in this case, the pedestrians almost got taken out by a truck. People, people! Running across an intersection is extremely dangerous. Sometimes you just have to shake your head at what passes for common sense these days.

While standing in line to get into The Honest Lawyer, I realized that I have not ever engaged in the "bar scene" at all in my 5 years of being legal drinking age, except for in Iqaluit, which is quite a bit different. Having been in a serious relationship when I turned 19 and not having a circle of friends in one single place, the whole bar thing is kind of alien to me. When I turned 19 and started going to bars, I was confused by how dressed up the other girls would be. I just didn't understand it. We're here to drink, why are you half-naked? Do you people get warm when you drink? Did you just come from a wedding? I understand it now but I don't think you'll ever find me in a tiny dress and heels, waiting to get into a club. Give me jeans, give me a t-shirt, give me Alexander Keith's on draught, let me be able to hear my own thoughts, and we have a good place to hang out on a Saturday night. Amen.

It's been unusually warm here the past week so I have been taking the opportunity to geocache like a mad woman. On Friday I went out to the Wawanosh Wetlands Conservation Area on the outskirts of Sarnia. I'd never been out there before and it was so beautiful!


Fall colours at Wawanosh.

I ended up finding 7 which is really not all that great for an experienced geocacher but for me it was a productive afternoon!


Me with a geocache.

That's about all for now. I know it wasn't very interesting but I swear I am hoarding the interesting stuff to write about soon!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Co-Habitation Station

Well, I've been back in Ontario for almost 3 months now. I'm still struggling to feel like this is my home despite the fact this is my hometown and every square mile of Sarnia holds at least a few memories for me.

It hasn't sunk in yet that I'm not going back to Iqaluit. I knew before I moved that I would probably feel like I'm on an extended vacation for awhile. So far, that's exactly what it feels like. I'm hoping I'll be working again soon and I'll be able to just wile away the days until feeling like I belong here again.

One of the biggest changes I've had to face is living with somebody again. I spent from April 2008 to July 2010 living alone (save for one month in January 2009). I really, really liked living by myself, to put it gently. For awhile I half-toyed with the idea of never living with someone again, even if I was in a committed relationship. I just liked it that much. I liked sleeping whenever I wanted without anyone around to make me feel guilty, I liked the satisfaction of looking at things in the house and knowing they were all mine, I liked never being awoken by anything except the cats or maybe a snowmobile outside.

So now I'm at a point in my life where it is unlikely I'll ever live alone again and that's kind of frightening. These days, I'm regularly woken up by my dad shout-talking on the phone (argh), or when he does dishes. I also deal with buying something for myself and it "mysteriously" disappearing. These are obviously some minor parts about living with someone, just so you get the jist.

In general things have been fine. My dad doesn't really try to father me or nag me (usually) and I stay out of his business. We're basically 2 non-working, non-sleep-schedule-abiding, non-real-meal-eating slobs hanging around an apartment. And we're not really slobs, we keep the place pretty clean. My dad is probably the only roommate I've had that hasn't annoyed me on a daily basis. I've been able to teach him some things, too. Like how WiFi works (my grandpa still doesn't understand how I'm getting "free" internet in my room) and that Zehrs grocery store has become Real Canadian Super Store.

Well, I'm off to go find a new geocache that just got published near the apartment. I have signed up for updates so I get a text message every time one is published on the website (meaning it's ready to be found). Being the "first to find" is revered among geocachers, though it doesn't really mean anything. So last night (this morning) at 1am, I get a text saying there is a brand new one about 3 blocks from the apartment. I immediately run out of the apartment, grab my dad's bike, and try to find it. I didn't have any luck so I posted as such on the geocaching website. I had some other geocaching errands to do so I continued biking around Point Edward. Around 1:30am, I pulled my iPhone out of my pocket and I had an email from the owner of the new cache. I stopped to email him back and that's when I looked around me. It was 1:30 in the morning, I'm on a bike, in the middle of the road, writing an email to someone I've never met. The world has definitely changed in the last 10 years.

Monday, October 18, 2010

J Plus 8

I had a great weekend in Michigan, although I'm STILL feeling the effects of drinking too much on Friday. I'm embarrassed to admit how much I actually drank, or rather, how much I DIDN'T drink. I'm not in Iqaluit anymore so I haven't been partying like, at all. It's true, I drank a lot when I lived up north. Since I moved back, I have been enjoying the occasional snifter of wine (I love the word "snifter") and mixed drinks, but never to excess. So I guess my liver has been healing since I moved down, because the ratio of how many drinks I had Friday compared to the intensity of my hangover just isn't me.

Of course, I think my pathetic ability to tolerate alcohol came of great amusement to Anthony's friends, as everyone knows I'm Canadian and somehow that's funny.

Saturday during the day was inevitably a write-off but I did make it out to Anthony's mom and fiance's house for their annual Halloween party. I went dressed as Kate Gosselin. Buycostumes.com actually sells a Kate Gosselin wig, so I was wearing that, sunglasses atop my head, and a sash of 8 dolls I had made. People were taking a bunch of photos of me so hopefully I can take something from Facebook and post it here.

So...I got some more good news about the job I mentioned in my last entry. Nothing is certain yet but keep your fingers crossed for me. I am getting soooo close to being gainfully employed but I still need Lady Luck (or maybe, if she exists, Lady Good Interview Skills).

Sorry there's not much else going on right now but things should start to pick up very soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Oops, has it been a week since I last posted? With no mandatory subject matter, I haven't had much to say.

Thanksgiving weekend was great! This was the first year I'd spent it in Sarnia with my family since 2004. I was still in high school then! My how things have changed.

On Saturday my brother and his fiancee came for a visit from Toronto. We had brunch here at my dad's with some other family members. My sister and I then went out geocaching and found 7 caches. We're/I'm now up to 31 found caches. It's starting to become easier and my "geosense" is definitely improving.

On Sunday, Anthony came up for a visit. We had turkey dinner at my mom's and then went to the Brigden Fair on Monday. I also hadn't been to that since 2004 and so it was a big treat. I love the Brigden Fair even if the rest of my family doesn't understand why. I'm a person who loves traditions and there are many traditions I've been deprived of because of living so far away. Every year I was away I missed the Brigden Fair. Anthony enjoyed himself and was happy to celebrate his first (but definitely not last!) Canadian Thanksgiving. I'll be celebrating my first American Thanksgiving next month and I'm certainly pumped about it.

Changing topics now, I got some very good job news on Thursday. I don't want to say anything yet since it's extremely preliminary but keep your fingers crossed for me. I've been unemployed for 3 months now and it's no picnic. I feel bad complaining about the fact I now sleep 10 hours a day and spend my time doing sweet FA but honestly, I'd much rather be working somewhere. I can't even look at my wallet without a wave of dread washing over me.

The weather is finally getting cooler, which couldn't make me any happier. I sleep with the window above my bed open and snuggle into the covers every time a draft hits my face. In Iqaluit, I used to like to keep the thermostat around 25C. I lived with a girl for awhile in Iqaluit who kept the thermostat between 15-18C and it was awful. I was cold all the time and I had nightmares every night. I'd wake up shivering even though I was underneath the covers. However, the tables have turned now that I live in Ontario. I'm hot all the time and I can't stand to sleep under the covers. My window is always open and I keep sneakily turning the thermostat down.

My body is a precarious thing. When it's cold, I get cold very easily and when it's warm, I start sweating profusely. I can't seem to find a happy medium anymore. Even as I type this, I'm fanning myself.

And let's not get started on the revival of my seasonal allergies. Do I miss Nunavut right now? More than you can imagine.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

30 Day Meme: Day 30

I don't have anything for this one!

Day 30 – One last moment, in great detail

The moment of being done this meme forever...yay.

Now excuse me while I continue complaining about how much pain I'm in from yesterday.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

30 Day Meme: Day 29

One day left!

Today I made it to a class at the YMCA for the first time since December. I always want to go to classes, but I never ended up making it on time. Today I thought I was going to be another such day. I got home from physiotherapy at 11:30am, quickly grabbed my stuff and ran back out the door and jumped in my car. I may or may not have driven way over posted speed limits. I was especially in a hurry as I really needed to use the bathroom, too. I dashed inside the YMCA and realized I had 10 whole minutes to change. Yay!

So I did a Muscle Works class. I went to one back in December with Tori and man was I ever sore the next day! I was in good shape back in December so I found the class more difficult this time. I was struggling to keep up and sweat was pouring down my face from just the warm-up! Muscle Works is a strength training class where you use small dumbbells, a towel, and an aerobics step to tone your muscles. It is certainly a slap in the face when you're about thisclose to dying and the 60-year-olds in the class aren't even breaking a sweat.

2010 has been a very disappointing year as far as my level of fitness is concerned. Last year I was so focused on passing the RCMP physical test. After I failed it in January and hurt myself in the process, I had to take some time off from the gym to recover. I could barely walk up the stairs in my apartment without getting out of breath. After that, the confidence I had gained from getting into shape totally shattered and I didn't want to look at myself in the mirror anymore. I stopped my hardcore gym routine and dragged myself to the gym maybe 2 or 3 times a month, where I could see my abilities were quickly declining. Watching myself get worse at exercises made me want to avoid the gym even more.

It's been a pretty crazy year with all of the restaurant and junk food I've been eating and all the time I haven't spent working out. It's lead to me gaining 15lbs and starting back at square 1 with weights and running. It's so disappointing, I can't stop thinking about how fit I would have been had I not given up in February. Now I'm starting all over again. The quest to be healthy and trim is a never-ending road and quite honestly, I'm so sick of thinking about it. Anyway, maybe I can scrounge up something more positive to write about for the daily meme.

Day 29 – Your aspirations, in great detail

Maybe it's a bad thing, but I honestly never really think about my goals. I know how I want my life to be, but I never break it down into an itemized list of things I want to aspire to. Hmm, here goes.

#1. Keeping with the theme above, I would like to lose 20lbs and be in shape.

#2. Run a 10k marathon.

#3. Get married.

#4. Buy a house and decorate it.

#5. Buy a brand new car.

#6. Find 1000 geocaches.

#7. Help other people to get into shape and reach fitness goals.

#8. Go to college.

#9. Visit every province and territory in Canada before I'm 30. All that's left is Yukon, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.

#10. Visit every US state before I die.

#11. Take a future niece/nephew/friend's kid to Disney World.

#12. Spend a week on some beach in the Caribbean and drink free cocktails all day long.

#13. Knit a blanket.

#14. Learn to play ice hockey and football.

Alright, that's all I can think of.

Monday, October 4, 2010

30 Day Meme: Day 28

I'm almost done this meme, woo hoo!

Day 28 – Something that you miss, in great detail

Well, I miss numerous things, foods, places, and people. I miss those Betty Crocker Mississippi Mud brownie things you could buy (to make it). I miss when Wal-Mart used to be in our mall and not across the street, I miss the days when all I had to worry about was doing my homework. I miss the friends I never see anymore, and I miss snow days from when I was in high school.

However, the thing I miss the most right now is home, Nunavut. Even though I grew up here in Sarnia, Nunavut became my home and I still feel like it is. I think that feeling is going to take awhile to shake off. As I mentioned once in my old blog, you become a northerner and then it becomes you.

While I lived in Nunavut, I really disliked having to talk about it down here to people, especially people I'd just met. I hated answering questions and telling the same story about how much a 2L of pop in Rankin Inlet costs. Sometimes I even lied when people asked me where I live. I'd mumble something about Sarnia to avoid the whole "Isn't it cold there?" conversation. But it's funny how the table can turn. Now that I live here, I'm basically unemployed and all I do in my free time is visit Anthony, geocache, and sometimes go to the gym. Life has gotten kind of boring. Now when I meet people, I quickly offer up my former place of residence so that I actually have something interesting to talk about. Telling people how I sleep 10-12 hours a day because I'm so bored is much less interesting than hearing my tales of braving Canada's worst weather.

The largest part about Nunavut I miss is my job. I miss many of my coworkers and the close friends I'd made through work. I miss being part of the justice system and even feeling like in my own small way, I was making Canada a better place (I worked for the federal government).

Another thing I miss about Nunavut is that I can freely say to anybody there, "I'm so cold!" and the response is generally, "I know, it's freezing. I miss summer." Here, as soon as I say I'm cold, I quickly get laughed at and asked, "And you were living where?" Yes, I did live in Nunavut but I still get cold. Thanks for asking.

Most of all, I just miss my old routine. I miss the cats I gave away, the carvings that hadn't yet broken, I miss having a place of my own, I miss the responsibilities of having a place of my own, I miss going to check the mail and being so excited when something actually came in, I miss waving hello to people when I was driving, I miss the terrible music outside Arctic Ventures, I missing curling, I miss the Legion (ah, memories), I miss all the kitchen stuff I sold, I miss my Suzuki, I miss the tundra, and I miss feeling like I was doing something special and unique.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still on an interesting path (one that I haven't talked about here yet), but while I'm here I feel like I'm nobody special anymore. I don't regret moving back at all, as it was necessary anyway (which I'll explain in the near future) but had I not met Anthony, I have no idea when I would have left. I was sort of half-assedly looking to leave but I doubt it would have happened this year. I took for granted that I was happy there and had built a life for myself. I'm now back at square one. No job, no apartment, I don't own my own car. That's a tough pillow to swallow some days.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

30 Day Meme: Day 27

This weekend I visited the city I love to hate, Toronto. As I've mentioned a few times, driving in new places makes me pretty nervous. I tend to misinterpret signs, take wrong turns, and make dumb mistakes while trying to read my Google printouts.

The day before I departed, I was browsing Sears.ca for their "Sears Days" sales which just ended today. I figured I'd check out car GPS' since I've been wanting to find one under $100. Conveniently, the TomTom EASE was going for $89.99. I checked Amazon, good ratings and reviews. My next course of action was to mull it over at the gym and then decide if I should order it. On my way to the gym, I realized, "Hey, I don't live in Nunavut anymore! I can just go to Sears and LOOK at it!" It was a real novelty, I assure you. So into Sears I went in my dorky gym clothes. Long story short, I bought the last one and decided its christening route would be to Susan's house in Toronto.

I loved it immediately. No more having to fret about not being able to read street signs soon enough, no more wondering what intersections will look like, no more wondering what lane to get in. I feel dumb for not having one of these starting the day I got my license. My only gripe about it is that although I traversed through Toronto for 72 hours with extreme ease, I feel like I didn't really figure out where anything is. Instead of paying attention to streets and learning my way around, the GPS basically turns you into a car-operating robot. Is it worth it, though? Hell yes. To ALWAYS know I was going the right way, that's priceless to me. It took all of the stress out which, if you understood just how much driving in places other than Sarnia stresses me out, you'd know it's worth a lot more to me than $89.99. I just didn't feel like paying any more than that, haha.

Anyway, the meme.

Day 27 – Your favorite place, in great detail

I don't really like this question but what's new? I don't really have a favourite place so I'll tell you about the places I love:

A. Ann Arbor, Frankenmuth and Michigan in general. I've been spending a lot of time in Michigan this year and I am really developing a fondness for the place. I know I'm biased though, because I lived within a mile of Michigan until I was 19 (and again now) and my boyfriend lives and breathes Michigan. I've had the fortune of visiting a few places in Michigan this year including Traverse City, South Lyon, Farmington, downtown Detroit, Allen Park, Dearborn, Algonac, and Frankenmuth. I originally listed Frankenmuth as "A" because I really love that place. Also, Algonac holds a special place in my heart since that's where Anthony and I had our first date. So all in all, Michigan is the center of many good memories throughout my life and especially now. And darn it if my boyfriend hasn't turned me into the second biggest Wolverines fan (he's #1).

B. Canatara Park. According to a PDF I just read, it covers 200 acres with 3000 feet of Lake Huron shoreline. I grew up a few hundred metres from the park and now live across the street from it. I have spent hours upon hours in that park and I know every corner of it like it's my own property. Many, many good memories were made in that park. Starting from age 5, I'd ride my bike to it and hang out by myself. As I got older, Tori and I would bike the trails and find ways to get into trouble. The park has some great features such as miles of bike trails, beaches, picnic pavilions, an animal farm petting zoo thing, and so much beautiful nature. There are a ton of geocaches in the park and my plan is to find all of them. I love having an excuse to be in Canatara and biking the trails I know so well. It makes me feel like a kid again which is a pretty cool feeling.

C. Lambton County. This is the county I reside in and grew up in. Most of my peers heartily dislike Sarnia and vow to get out as soon as possible. I suppose I have different values than other 24 year olds, but I think Sarnia/Lambton County is a great place to live. The county is home to approximately 100 000 people, 70 000 of which live in Sarnia. Although Sarnia is not so much a hot bed for multiculturalism, there is a fair amount of culture to be found and enjoyed. No, you can't buy shawarma at 3am after an intense pub crawl or expect all of your favourite musicians to come to town, but those sorts of thing never appealed to me anyway. I'm the type of person who doesn't want to have to rely on maps to find a local address; I want to know my town inside and out. I like a nice, quiet town with low crime and nice parks. Originally when "A" was about how much I love Frankenmuth, I referred to myself as an 80 year old trapped in a 24 year old's body. It disturbs me just how true that is, and how often I'm reminded of it.

D. My bed and a hot bath. 'Nuff said!!!

...Edited to add: E. William's Pastry Shop in Sarnia. Don't let me off my leash in that store, it could be disastrous.
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