Tuesday, August 29, 2006

down to the wire

i don't like to be busy. some people seem to thrive on it. they get nine million things accomplished in one day, whereas i get done about one thing a month. i like to have my weekends off. this means sleeping in, without guilt, cooking a nice breakfast (well, jarrod cooks it but i eat it), maybe doing some reading or running some errands (such as going to the book store or getting a coffee). i loooove lazy days. therefore, the past couple weeks, which have been extremely busy for me, aren't sitting all that well. in fact, i would even call them contrary to my nature. like petting hair the wrong way.

i've got quite a bit of work to do in the next 48 hours. for example, i have two hundred images left to index, out of a thousand. how is that possible you ask? what have i been doing for the last month? honestly, i am not sure why it has taken me this long. each image is about ten minutes of work, with all the copying and pasting and checking and verifying. and, if i find a mistake, or i need to add another key word, well, that just sets the whole process back. i did as much planning as i possibly could...and for a while there, i couldn't see the end. but, now i can. and i have a goal of doing the indexing for seventy five images before my head hits the pillow tonight. the boys will be watching back episodes of BSG, so i'll have company and background noise. its like paper writing season--its crunch time. and boy, do i ever do well in a crunch. you need someone in a high pressure situation, i am your girl.

so, if you're looking for me, you can limit your search to places with wireless internet, extra large coffees, and some sort of ginger cookie. i'll be there all day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

books that....

1. A book that changed your life.
i would have to go with sofie's world by jostein gaarder. i was sixteen and amazed and thought philosophy would be the way that i could finally figure out my place in the world. i was wrong, but i didn't realize that until after completing a four year philosophy degree at carleton.

2. A book you've read more than once.
i have read several books more than once. my mom doesn't get it...she thinks that it is like a movie, once you know the ending, what's the point? but, i'm a last page first kinda girl, and i love getting there just as much as the ending itself. the book that i read most often will already be featured on this list as the book that makes me cry out loud, so, others that i've been caught reading more than once is the discovery of heaven by harry muslisch, for the male banter, the fantasty trilogies by melanie rawn (i don't even know why, i'm a sucker for a love story) and books by gabriel garcia marquez, because, well, i can barely keep the characters straight at any time, let alone months after i've read them (and i'm usually really good at that!).

3. A book you'd want on a desert island.
this one is tough. do i want something big and bulky? short and sweet? a whole series, perhaps? honestly, i'd take steven erikson's series. its big, its complex, its stimulating, it has a wide range of characters and emotions, it has it all. i'd like to say i'd take nietzsche or something suitably thought provoking, but, if i'm going to be on a desert island, i think i'd like to enjoy myself a little.

4. A book that made you giddy.
giddy? has a book made me giddy? if one has, i can't remember it.

5. A book that you wish had been written.
i wish i had written the adventures of kavalier and clay. its not my favourite book of all time, though it is up there, but, it is what i think a book should be. incredibly human characters that make lives for themselves, who make good and bad choices, who redeem and are redeemed, and then who fall all over again. it has an intriguing story, its set within one of the most interesting times of the modern era (WWII). i think it a book written for other writers. sometimes you get books that are written beautifully, but which you cannot read more than twenty pages at a time (i am thinking of you anne michaels and michael ondaatje). the stories pass from your mind, much the way that poetry is hard to remember. its the phrasing, the expression that is important. these books are beautiful, but they do not satisfy my urge to read. kavalier and clay, however, has the potent combination of beautiful writing with a story that is almost tangible. i mean, i am pretty sure these characters were real people. and that i've met them.

6. A book that wracked you with sobs.
hands down, the lions of al rassan by guy gavriel kay. i remember being at the cottage, reading this book for about the sixth time, coming outside, tears streaming, and my mom asking me what was wrong. nothing was wrong, except that one of the best men the book world has ever seen...well, i won't ruin the ending for you, but i am sure you can see where this is going.

7. A book you wish had never been written.
i am not sure if i wish any books had not been written. i mean, even if its not my taste, i don't believe that any books are inherently bad. i mean, i have whole genres of literature that i cannot read (for instance, i do not think virginia wolff is great writer, nor have i ever been able to read a full novel of hers, despite multiple tries), but i am glad they exist. i could take the easy route and go mein kampf or something, but i still think that censorship is more damaging than the book itself.

8. A book you are currently reading.
what am i currently reading? charlotte gray, by sebastian faulks. the mineral palace, by an author i cannot remember. reader's digest, because i like the jokes and the articles infuriate me to the point that i feel like i do actually care about what happens to the world. on beauty, by sadie something or other. that one's really good, too. i like books that a) are about the stuggles of emigration (usually concerning the indian disapora, british colonialism, or african genocide...very cheerful, but the stories are so powerful) or b) dysfunctional families that somehow make it work (more cheerful, but less poignant).

9. A book you've been meaning to read.
there are several. freakonomics. suite francaise (but it may be too much like virginia wolff for me). persian fire. i have several books that i've ordered form amazon.ca that i just haven't had a chance to read yet. but i have time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

this is turning out to be a terribly sporadic series of postings. see, i can only post pictures when i am at a computer that hold my memory card. oh yes, my digital camera has one of those damn port/cable thingies, but, that was the first thing i lost. i also have an mp3 player that i cannot use, a phone that has no power source (and therefore makes this really annoying beeping sound for a ring) and a printer that is rigged with a motley spectacle of usb cables. every time i plug my ipod in with my special apple cable, i am thankful i haven't lost it. that isn't to say that i have not misplaced it, i have, but i haven't permanently lost it. just wait till i move. my apartment will be a museum of out of commission electronic goods. but, right now, i am at home, and i am able to post. i've grabbed a few more pictures, and while they are in an accurate order for this post, they are, of course, interspersed with the pictures from the last post. i promise to improve. just give me time.

i believe i already mentionned the older gentleman we met in troon. my mother thought his meeting just as serendipitous as i, and indeed, expressed it much more clearly here. actually, she writes about our whole trip, but, she's much too nice. you'll find all the dirt here. mom decided to surprise grammy with the trip to troon. it was her first trip back in fifty years and grammy had a bit of a tough time figuring out which house exactly it was that she and her sister, my auntie moira, stayed in during WWII. i think that is pretty excusable. with the help of the aforementionned man, we were able to discover which house it was. i love love love the houses here. (and by here, i mean europe.) they are beautiful. they demonstrate craftsmanship. now, of course, you'll find the burbs in Scotland just like here, but, there are many many beautiful houses.We headed to Inverness as the home base for a few day trips. mom, having entertained several sets of guests over the past few, was understandably exhausted by tours of the highlands leaving by way of Edinburgh. so, we tried further north. our tour guide was a rather annoying young man. of course, i didn't decide he was annoying until he publicly embarrassed me in front of our whole tour group. and that was after he dressed me in a kilt. (not exactly flattering, but i'll take it. why you ask? because for once it looks like i have an ass.)

seriously though, i almost came to blows with our tour guide. sarah, my cousin, is a runner. i like to jog. our tour group was mostly adults, middle aged and upwards. at one stop, we had scheduled a leisurely walk to a waterfall. the path was clearly marked. so, sarah and i decided to jog it. you know, get our heart rates going. well, apparently, this was unacceptable, and we were told to stop acting like children and to never run off on a tour group. dude, my mother was on the tour. if anyone, anyone, was going to reprimand me for any of my actions ever, it'd be her. i let him say his piece, and then i approached him to discuss the proper treatment of people paying to ride a bus. dad thinks i should have just said, "well, there's goes your tip, idiot." which, frankly, i wish i had said. next time. i'll get your tour guide! i'll get you!
one of my favourite parts of the day trip was a stop in culloden. my mom and grammy mentionned that the last time they stopped in culloden, the tour guide stressed that the battlefield where many highland clans lost many members was sacred space. our idiot tour guide stressed nothing except that we were already behind schedule and we'd better get our butts in gear. we had only enough time to find the macintosh stone (there were quite a few of them). i wanted to find the cameron stone (i'm dating a cameron) and had almost given up, when, lo and behold, directly beside one of the macintosh stones was the cameron one. i am not one for shivers, but, this one got me. somehow, deep inside, it is extremely moving to think of our ancestors fighting side by side in the last major battle for the Scottish throne and the last time the clans mounted a formidable force.
okay, you can't really see that it says cameron, so you'll just have to trust me.

on our last saturday night in Edinburgh, we went to the tattoo. i live the bagpipes. always have, always will. i loved that part of the tattoo. i also loved the marching bands. about halfway through, the mood and tone of the show changed. it became less about the music and more about...the army. i did not love the tribute to military might, the march of tanks, the...'army-ness' of it all. now, you say to me, alli, its a military tattoo, of course its pro-military! to which i say, you are right. in hindsight, i should have seen what was coming. but at the time, i was sitting in the stands, more than a little uncomfortable, physically and mentally, as i watched people cheer and cheer this...spectacle of military prowess. it was a truly bizarre experience. i heard talk of people shedding tears because it was so moving. i have to admit that i did not exprience that sense of comraderie.

there are still more pictures that i wish i had time to write about. i am feeling a little overwhelmed with life right now. both my jobs have picked up, courses are starting soon, i am neglecting my student council responsibilities, my eating habits have been less than stellar...all of this contributes to a rather blah sense of self. i have a long run planned for tomorrow afternoon, but after running in scotland, i find it difficult to rev myself up for a run on the treadmill or through this busy polluted city. but, running always always makes me feel better--prouder, stronger--and i am looking forward to that high.

good night!

Monday, August 21, 2006

i have to admit that the thought of moving made me want to curl up into a tight little ball and ball my eyes out. i hate it. its hard work, its time consuming, things get broken and lost, you always have to buy different things, you have to rearrange your room, i have to reorganize my books, hang pictures, clean, clean, clean, well, you get the idea. so, clearly, it wasn't my idea to move, but, as it often happens, moving it is.

today, we signed the lease at the new place. as we walked off the bathurst subway, jarrod and i spent some time pointing out the things that were going to be "ours." the record store, the movie theatre, any of three coffee shops, the grocery store, the sushi restaurant. we had a quick breakfast at mel's, the best diner in the city, which is now located a block from our house. i love love love this area. its bright and eclectic and its much much more my style that the condo. (not that i didn't love the condo.) jarrod observed that the condo is a very private way of living. you go home, you don't say hi to your neighbours. the condo itself exists separate from the community in which it is situated. the apartment, though, is right smack dab in the middle of things. i think i just might like being in the middle of things.

i will always be grateful to mom and dad for the opprotunity to live here. it saved me a lot of stress finding a place last year in a city i did not know. this year, knowing the city, having met people who also live here, the task was not as daunting. and this will be our place. its the first time my dad didn't co-sign the lease (though he did front my the last months rent...how can people afford that?).

did i mention we're near a used book store as well?

Friday, August 18, 2006

another doppelganger

although i have recovered from the shock of seeing another couple that looks eerily a like to my boyfriend and i, i am still recovering from the shock of seeing another girl who appears...to be me.
a friend sent me a link to this blog: tales of a travelling librarian. its startling and alarming. we're both librarians. we've both traveled. we've both called our blogs titles that are practically the same. (though i will note that i have had this blog for over a year, while her's is much less aged.) let me state for the record that i am not angry about this whatsoever...i just think its incredibly neat. i mean, here we are, living lives that we think are so wonderfully unique and personal, when, lo and behold, there's another person out there who chooses to live their life a lot like the way you choose to live yours. its awfully humbling. i hate and love the internet for this. what are the chances that we both blog? and robin, shouldn't you be doing work at work?

yesterday jarrod and i went to see the sixth of our apartments during house search 2006. i was getting discouraged, i have to admit, with all the dingy basements we have been seeing. i might have gotten so upset that i cried and picked a fight with jarrod over it, which goes to show how weak my character can really be. however, i bounced back as soon as i saw a cute three bedroom apartment on bloor/bathurst. its within our price range, all inclusive, great location, walk to school, big deck out back, an actual kitchen and an actual living room...the only problem being that three groups of people were filling out the application at the same time. i gave the guy two hundred bucks as a deposit...or bribe...so we'll see. jeff promised to be my enforcer if the guy got shady. i told him i'd punch him in the face myself. but even if it doesn't work out, i have hopes for a place on bloor/high park as well. both robin and i like to run and to be so near to high park, well, its a runner's heaven. and its much much cheaper. damn it, i am almost regretting the deposit. crap. i love the apartment we are trying to get, so i am going to stop worrying about it. i say that like i can help it.

last night, chris, jenny, jarrod and i tried to go out for mexican food. i say try because we went to the restaurant, we sat down, we ordered, but we never got our food. we sat there for over an hour. just waiting. laughing with the couple at the next table who also never got there food. and then we took off. and ordered a pizza. damn you margaritas! i think we might try for sushi tonight, but we'll see. we'll see if i get my two hundred bucks back!

also, if anyone is looking for hours and hours to kill, might i recommend downloading battle star galactica. your procrastinator self will be oh so fulfilled.

Monday, August 14, 2006

let me first state for the record that i think that people should have to pass an etiquette test before stepping a single toe on an airplane. these would be the main lessons: do NOT recline your seat unless you are sleeping. if you are chatting with a neighbour, watching the film, or reading a book, you do not get to put the seat down. its invasive, its uncomfortable and its inconsiderate. i think i had some more lessons, but pretty much, that is the one that pisses me off the most. i can't sleep on a plane worth beans, but apparently sarah can.

the day after we arrived, the whole group of us piled in the car and headed to york. the drive was about two hours. i would describe it like this: "pretty" i remember when i first started traveling. every church seemed full of sacred space, each town seemed to be the epitome of town, every...you get the idea. now though, i find myself falling into the trap of just being blah about it all. i mean, every once in a while, i get that 'wow' feeling, but, it comes less often and i miss it.
the following house i just thought was hilarious. it looks like its moving.

since my passion for architecture is waning, i am concentrating on more natural sights. they still take my breath away. this one is of the sunset in Troon, the town my grandmother vacationned in and the town to which she was evacuated to during the second world war. we wandered around troon and managed to find the very houses she lived in. we also met an interesting character, a ninety-one year old neighbour who remembered the families in the area.

on the last trip my grandparents, my mom, and my aunt kathy took, they toured around the highlands. (you can't really go to scotland without touring the highlands.) apparently, they passed a castle called Eilean Donan several times without ever entering the grounds. so, we made up for it this time by visiting twice. the one below is of sarah and i out behind the castle. quite the view, no? (see, nature still does it for me.)

during the last hour on the bus, day two, we encountered the most amazing rainbow. anyone who knows me knows i like rainbows. i took about ten pictures. i think this one is the best. (if anyone would like to see the others, i'd be happy to share. there are enough rainbows for everyone.)

now, this is not a great post about the trip...but i was looking through my photos and these popped out at me. tomorrow, i will post such gems as "alli dressed as ancient male scottish highlander," "sarah being frightened, a series of ten" and "scottish pipers, blurred."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

well, i'm in glasgow. tasha, you are, and usually are, right. its beautiful!

tomorrow, sarah and i have planned a nice scenic run through the botanical gardens. we scoped it out today and were pleasantly surprised to find a book fair. okay, mom and i were pleasantly surprised, grammy and sarah i don't think really felt too strongly one way or another.

the hotel we are staying at happens to have free internet, but, the keyboard is a little wonky and, so growing more and more frustrated, i am going to keep this short and to the point.

i wish i could add some photos because then i could just add those and they'd speak for themselves. and i wouldn't have to type. well, it'll have to wait. soon, maybe.

things i learned today:
  1. ipod chargers have a built in converter, so yay, we can charge them!
  2. not all english people are polite, nor do they know how to respect "reserved seats." you'd think mom had asked him for his, his...his something really valuable.
  3. scottish fare is not always haggis and meat pies. sometimes it is incredibly varied, and delicious, indian, morroccan, french, etc. food, all locally grown. (we asked for a typical scottish restaurant and that was the recommendation)
  4. i am glad i bought a rechargeable battery with my camera...sarah's going through 'em like a hot knife through butter.
  5. condos, in what used to be a hospital (the one in which grammy was born) go for about $700 000. i bought two.