Back from Asia. Culture shock galore.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bye Bye Blog?

This whole blogging business isn't really working out well for me. I can't seem to slide 20 measly minutes into my workday to make a post. It's been sitting at the bottom of my to-do list for well, I guess it's been two months now.

I have excuses galore for why weekend blogging isn't fun. For one, I don't have a computer chair and I detest sitting on the side of my coffee table reaching for the keyboard. I'm tired from banging around on the keys all day at work. I'm so overcome with guilt and embarrassment for waiting so long to write something that I can't bring myself to open up the browser. Oh, and I hate the title of my blog. It was ideal for my post-Asia summer of leisure and reflection right around this time last year but now it's just plain weird. Can I just move all the posts over into a new blog? What should I call it? Who's going to read it? There's something very narcissistic about blogging that doesn't sit well with me. In order to make posts really interesting I want to include all sorts of juicy interesting personal titbits but I don't want to deal with the repercussions of feedback from the outside world.

On the topic of blogs, I'm in the process of hammering out the requirements for a new blogging feature on the oncology website I'm helping organize/populate/manage. So far, we have one experienced writer, Nicholas Genes, MD, PhD, second-year resident in emergency medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York. We also have a few potentials. One being Dr. Beskin-Bey (surgical resident at Mayo, studying with renowned oncologist Dr. Axel Grothey, and a Mt. Sinai alumna). Correspondence with these fellows (no pun intended) has been interesting so far but it's an odd process trying to turn non-editorial people into writers and making their intense hands-on experiences with cancer compelling, catchy and flavourful. This process could very well be turning me sour on my own blog.

Anyway, it's the Friday of our 2nd summer long weekend, it's my first full-day in the office in over a week due to business trips and training seminars and well, I've actually blogged. Trying to avoid the native protester road-blocks on the 401 so I'll probably wait till tomorrow morning to drive back to Melbourne. I absolutely love having my little Toyota Echo.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Earth Day

What a completely fabulous weekend. It’s the kind of weekend that makes people sit cross-legged on newly forming grass, buy lots of cut flowers and walk around barefoot. It feels like the world is close to perfect and the never ending debate over our growing green house gases is just plain silly, but alas, the day-long traffic jam outside my house periodically jolts me back into reality. So, here are a few thoughts on Earth Day.

I wish I was more environmentally conscious like I was in my early 20s. I used to lecture people on running the tap while brushing their teeth, having overly long showers, using too many take out coffee cups, cranking on the AC, the dryer, hot water to wash clothes, you name it. Now, I find it very difficult to care. I confided in a close high school friend recently that I’m barely composting my food and she said she thought of everyone she knew, at least I’d be doing it. That depressed me enormously so I hung a clear plastic bag with rotting fruit on my fridge door once again.

I bought a car. A small economy car but still, it has emissions. I don’t donate to any environmental charities and I don’t think about organic food and I’m cranky when I visit my mother’s house and she has the heat turned down. However, I never litter and my car doesn’t have AC, neither does my apartment for that matter (not that I don’t secretly want it) and I recycle and I still count the summers 10 years ago when I went tree-planting.

Honestly, I didn’t do much for the environment today. I spent a little longer separating my garbage and that’s about it. But, this week, as a test, I’m going to try and not buy any take-out coffee in paper cups. How hard can it possibly be to carry a reusable mug around in your purse? I can imagine it's going to be pretty damn painful. Oh, how far I have sunken into mediocrity.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Reincarnation of SuzyH

I bought a nice overly practical Toyota Echo. I had jokingly told my dad I wanted the plates back (pre-car purchase) and well, now their mine. An excerpt from the correspondence below:

Hi Suzy,
Jacquie and I have finished your plates. I covered the SUZY H with masking tape and cut around each letter with an exacto knife. I then sprayed the plate with white paint and removed the masking tape from each letter. Jacquie painted each letter with a tiny paint brush and also the small letters (Ontario & yours to discover). The plates look great! So, the name lives on.

Tomorrow, I'm putting the finishing touches on the car transfer (I bought it off Pia who sadly has moved to Vancouver so it's been a slow, step-by-step process). I'm a little freaked out by the work involved. Words like the DMV, emissions test, CAA, oil changes, rust protector, collision insurance and snow tires are a growing buzz my ears. But, hey, it's paid for and I hooked up the insurance so it's 90% mine! I'm going to have to remove the snow bunny bumper stickers cause let's face it -- I'm a horrible skier and snowboarder even though I'd love to say otherwise. I might get a new air freshener and one of those ipod converters cause they car has a tape deck but ya, done.

Road trip anyone?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Farewell SuzyH

Suzy H: 1988 to February 28, 2007

I know it sounds kinda dumb to be broken up over a 19-year-old rotting Ford F150 truck but honestly, there's a good chance it will be my only namesake. My dad first bought the truck when I was 10 years old. It was shiny blue ALL-OVER (not three-toned as in later years) and it was the pride of the farm. My memory isn't that clear but I'm sure I got to spin it around a bit in the beginning if only up and down the laneway.

My first true driving experience began in grade 9 when I was a mere 14 and bored with my girlfriend. We decided to take it up and down the side roads for an hour or so but I didn't realize at the time that she ran on 4 tanks -two gas and two natural gas. The natural gas didn't last so long and almost ran out. My older brother took the heat and didn't rat me out -- or did he? I can't really remember... Below is a list of my favourite truck memories.

Memorable Experiences:

  • Hitching it up to the camper and heading to the Pinery every summer. Some nights sleeping in the cab when the rain got heavy and my sleeping bag was soaked.
  • Piling six or more friends into the back, covering them with blankets and sneaking into the Mustang drive-in (we also pulled this trick with Amy's matching red Ford).
  • Showing up late for high school because Jim decided we'd try and make some cash by pulling helpless drivers out of snow-ditches with a chain.
  • Spinning into the snowbank myself more than once.
  • Getting my first speeding ticket at 16 and balling in front of my 13-year-old brother.
  • Getting another ticket for faulty alignment at 22.
  • Driving through Western campus with limited rear vision due to a full load of potted Christmas trees, buckets of woodchips and shovels.
  • Making Craig drive it home from Robbyn's house in Westmount cause I was busy puking out the window.
  • The Save Tamagami bumper sticker.
  • Dad's eclectic mixed tape collection.

She will be sadly missed by all. Thanks for the many great years.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Mainlininig the DivX

Yes, I've been yet again, neglecting the blog. There are many causes, a trip to Jamaica, several nights away from home, a new gym with time-consuming yoga, but the core source of my neglect, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is my Divx player. It's not new, I've had it for over two years but the TV show downloading is relatively recent and highly addictive.

Show #1 Lost. Since the summer I've ploughed through three seasons of Lost, and subsequently regained my love of Mathew Fox (who hasn't), and low and behold Party of Five is on Vision TV at 6 pm daily so he's swarming my dreams from all angles. I also have a soft spot for little Dominic Monaghan little heroin addicted Charlie -- cause who didn't love Merry in LOTR? Who doesn't love hobbits? He fits in well on the island. Anyway, that's show #1.

Show #2 Entourage. Three seasons done and done. Turtle -- cute. Vince -- HOT. A nice escape to celeb-infested L.A. and a life of pure, brain-drain hedonism.

Show #3 90210. It actually takes awhile to work your way through seasons one and two. There is a lot of time spent cringing into the couch pillows when the Walshes take centre stage and David sings and dances and dances some more. He does eventually become my favourite around S. 5.

Show #4 Dexter. I really cried when Six Feet Under aired its last episode. I thought it was all completely over and than this new Showtime series came out and there was a wee glimmer of light. Let's be honest, new sister Deb is not half as great as old sister Claire but hell, I'll take what I can get. I'm also enjoying the Miami nightlife scenes.

Show # 5. Heroes. I'm only about 8 episodes in but I'm hooked. I love the Japanese boys -- great acting, great plotline. The doped out painter is pretty hot too. I'm often procrastinating at work pondering which super power I'd like the most.

Ok, so for those few of you who actually emailed me to complain about the blog thank you for getting my ass off the couch. Ok, lie. I did lie on the couch and watch Heroes last night... I'm typing this at work. Bad, bad, bad....

I promise to write more soon. I’ll attach pics from Jamaica with Pia -- she's moving back to Van, I'm totally pissed, and pics of my new chocolate mocha hair and some other fun stuff.

Send me some more show ideas if you have them. Oh, I must thank my brother Jim for couriering me new shows. Nothing better.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Party Strike.

I'm officially on a party strike. I know everyone else does the exact same thing after the holidays but this is strange for me. You usually can twist my arm or more accurately, I can twist yours :)

This stance has been taken because of one main thing. My health. I've had an onslaught of strange, mildly superficial ailments over the last few weeks and it has to end. Swollen glands, wierd deformity on my earlobe that my colleagues ensure me is not assocaited with head & neck cancer, stomach issues (I'm banking on this being an ulcer) to name a few. Working for a company that specializes in medical health doesn't help. I was up at 3 am on a Thursday morning googling tonsillitis and appendicitis. It's got to end.

On a cheerier note. I've been much more productive during this strike. Imprisioned in my King St. apartment in Toronto isn't even a quarter of the nightmare it was being holed up in my cell of an apartment in Seoul. For one, I have the internet, a kitchen, a bathtub and space to walk around.

Here are some things I've accomplished:

1. Buying flowers. I've gotten in the habit of this lately so it's not strictly limited to the strike. I find that my high ceilings really compliment flower arrangments and with the extra money saved from no boozing -- why not splurge?

2. Reading. I've finally finished my book! I used to be such an avid reader. I'm making a comeback. I can actually contentrate again.

3. Blogging.

4. Cable. This may be a given for others but not me. I rarely watch cable. I haven't installed my cable splitter yet so if I want to watch it I have to unplug the cable chord to my computer -- I'd choose internet over tv most days. However, with the extra home time, I decided to give it a try. I watched a few hours of StarTV to catch up on important news and enjoyed two Saturday night moves on TBS. GTS.

5. Language Studies. I like to study languages. I never fit it in but last night I did go over some Spanish verbs in preparation for a quick trip to Cuba (more on that to come).

6. Yoga. Hell, I even used my purple yoga mat.

7. House-cleaning. Not only did I scrub the tub, I bought a new closet organizer and did all my laundry and watered my plants. I do try to stay on top of the plant thing if nothing else.

When you spend 5-6 nights of the week out, and the other 1 or 2 in bed with a hangover or catching up on personal hygiene like shaving your legs and washing your hair -- you never have time for the domestic things. Funny, I still haven't tackled my cooking resolution. That will come next...

Ok, some more pics. The first one from my brother Nick's annual "Festivas" party in L-dot. He's holding his trophy -- meaning behind the award undetermined. The second one is Jim and Mel after hours. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

To a New Year...and Memories of One Past.

My list of new years resolutions are as follows:

1. Make more blog posts. ha.

2. Compost. I have the green bin outside, I have the molding, disgusting produce -- why the hell not.

3. Cook more. Surprisingly, I've been baking the last few months but no real authentic, from scratch cooking. If nothing else I want to try out my grandma's pierogi recipe that's been magneted to my fridge since I moved in. I even have a nice fold-out table from Home Depot to do the "pinching" on.

4. Hang out with more kids. Even though some of my friends don't believe this I truly do love spending time with children. I always feel more relaxed and I can be my natural silly, scatterbrained self.

That's about it for resolutions.

I've been pretty wrapped up with my new job and holiday socializing. I always have mixed feelings about this time of year. In one way the season forces everyone together and it is super great to see old friends and family. On the other hand, I resent having all my weekends pre-booked (not by me) and no down-time and huge gift expectations and don't even get me started on the travel stress. Oh, another resolution was almost "buy a new car," but after tallying up the budget for the first quarter of 07' that doesn't seem like such a hot idea. I'm stuck suffering through arduous Greyhound bus rides. The last was particularly painful because two college-aged guys starting rambling on about the pros and cons of nuclear war and satellite intelligence
behind me. Not that I'm opposed to stimulating conversation...

Since I haven't chatted about my year in Asia in awhile, and this blog was specifically designed to focus on that, I think I'll share a short anctidote about my Christmas in Korea.

Last Christmas Eve, after a day spent teaching cheesy carols and sharing chocolate and duk (Korean traditional rice cake dessert), I contemplated the evening's options. At the time, I was dating this very sweet and slightly naive Korean guy who wanted to spend quality time "together." It's important to note that Christmas day has become a romantic holiday in Korea. If you're miraculously one of the non-Christians, you would be out twirling pasta carbonara with your sweetheart -- as Italian is the dating food of choice (girls like it apparently). I, however, was not interested in smooching with some new guy but instead opted for getting shit-faced with my friends at a pub while eating cake with chopsticks and periodically having my photo taken by a group of drunken young Korean admirers. The cute guy did show up later and my friends thought he was cute too so he drove me home and spent the night. He produced a second cake from his trunk with candles and I made a few more wishes.

New Years followed the same lines. I choose to have a nice, quick dinner with the boy and than joined friends in Itaweon for the usual hoop-la. The boy, I recall, was disappointed in my casual, flighty behaviour, and probably spent the remainder of his evening cursing off Canadians. Ah. I still do feel slight guilt over that.

And finally, Chinese/Korean New Year. I spent this holiday holed up in my one room apartment slurping ramen noodles and watching any English TV I could find. I did have a suitor drop off a bag of apples from his hometown later in the night. That gesture was one sweet move in a very long, pathetic trail of let-downs. I've avoided discussing him for many reasons but might get into it another day.

All in all. No turkey, no wrapped gifts, no egg nog. BUT, no stress and no depleted bank account. I can't really pinpoint which Christmas I preferred -- 2005 or 2006. (Oh, I did receive a box of instant stuffing in the mail from someone, I forget who...ahhhhhh. I didn't eat that during the holidays though. I devoured it during one of my many all day hangovers.

On a completely different note, I've attached a picture from lovely Amy Kivell's 30th birthday bash on January 5th. It is so nice to see everyone again!