Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Travel Pictures

Over four months after my trip, I have finally posted the pictures from Berlin and Poland in aisle 4. Go on, check them out, and know me better man!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

"I happen to like McLobster"

Every single time, and I mean really every time, that we run the scene, where I, as the mother, am told by my son that he's gay, we explode into laughter. We can't help it. The play is quirky and funny on its own, but when you add goofy and hilarious Ben into the mix, forget it, you're done for. The three of us have this scene down pat; our lines are there, our blocking is tight, and we know what we should be doing, but we still haven't gone through a run of this scene without laughing at least once. It's dreadful.

Lately, Ben has been showing up in his costume as his character, Lloyd. Lloyd is Jewish and is married to Rhonda, who is me. His costume alone just makes me crack up because he hikes his pants up to his waist, wears a dorky vest, and walks with his pelvis thrusted out. We knew it was bad the other day when our director told Ben that there was "too much crotch". Ben tends to stick out his pelvis and shake it around here and there. Because he is so tall and gangly, this is absolutely hilarious to watch, making it impossible yet again to get a solid run of this scene.

This scene is funny on its own, and it only makes it worse (or better?) when we play around with it, purposely saying lines a different way for sake of our own amusement. Oftentimes, our comedian Ben will do something completely different or say a line in a different tone, and that'll throw the rest of us off. We'll try to stifle our laughter, which will escalate to a giggle, and then, we can't help it, break into a full-blown laugh. Ben will defend himself by saying that he was "just trying something new out". Yeesh. It's just not the same when Thomas and I do something different - we can usually get over that. But when Ben does something, the magic of the scene is broken, and we're back at the starting point. Don't get me wrong; he's a great guy to work with. It's a barrel of laughs acting with him, but man, I have never had so much difficulty in keeping in a laugh before. Just looking at this guy makes you crack up.

Just so this entry makes at least an inkling of sense, I'm talking about our rehearsals for a play entitled Office Hours by a Canadian playwright, Norm Foster. In this particularly hilarious scene, Richard gets a surprise visit from his Jewish parents, Lloyd and Rhonda. The climax of this scene is when Richard comes out to his parents, who evidently freak out.

It's a great play, with many connections and twists, drastic dynamics, and outlandish characters.
Can't wait to put this thing on in January. If I can't help but laugh now, how on earth will I be able to survive through a laughing audience? This is where my grounded thespianism should come in!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

An Ode to Foot, 2

Useful, well-appreciated, and sentimental gifts. Not just gifts for the sake of gifts. Nothing in abundance. All in moderation.

Besides, had I not acquired such a lovely, useful, and recording of memories apparatus, I would never had snapped such a perfect picture.

Can't wait for your party, Foot!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Petit Papa Noël

Stumbling across this get-scared, get-ready for Christmas article, I was reminded how frantically early our society likes to indulge in the Christmas festivities. Now, I suppose that I cannot consider thinking about Christmas or even buying Christmas gifts an abominal sin. Of course, the abominal sin is when stores vomit Christmas all over their shelves and walls come November 1st. The horrible kitschy elevator Christmas music that floats around in department stores, the Christmas advertisements, the rows of cheap chocolate and duplicated white teddy bears with a red and green bow -- these are the sins of November that I am talking about.

Besides, all of the commercial Christmas-prep, all of the advertised useless gifts, the plastic bows, the ridiculously early Christmas start isn't Christmas for me.

I'm not religious, I don't go to any mass (save for that midnight mass in Poland, followed by meat-eating and vodka-drinking), so Christmas, for me, is much more than Christ's birth.

Yes, snow usually starts in November, but Christmas for me doesn't start until halfway through December, and it doesn't end until at least January 6th (have we all forgotten the twelve days of Christmas, the first day being Christmas day itself?).
What I absolutely love about Christmas are the carols, playing and singing them; I love the smoked salmon and the good food we indulge in during the holidays, I love living at home again and doing things with the family, I love seeing my North Dundas friends, I love the various Christmas parties, and I love going sledding -- this is what the Christmas holiday is about. This is what brings me to the path of warmness and fuziness. Doing enjoyable things with the best people -- c'est ça que j'aime!

Now, going back to the article; it's about worried parents who feel they can't keep up with the expensive gadgets that their kids want for Christmas, such as laptops and iPods and any of that more expensive stuff. The parents were lamenting that they couldn't get their child only one big present, such as just a laptop because apparently they kid will complain and say that they should have gotten more. This is ridiculous. I have just reached my twenties and already these kids are too much for me! Why do these children have high expectations that they should be getting so much? Do they compare themselves to their friends and school and feel like their friends get more? The demanding and the expectation, driven by extreme advertising solely directed to kids (as well as the advertising that guilt parents), kills the good Christmas feeling and makes everything so stressful, when in fact, the holiday should be a time to relax and an opportunity to "take a load off".

In fact, every Christmas, my family and I get uncomfortable when we see so many presents under our tree. How on earth can we need all of this stuff? Just get one thing for someone. Make something for them. Take them out, go on a trip, see a show, spend time together.

I already have my two front teeth, so I'll settle for hot apple cider, a crackling fire, a good book, and some cuddling.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We're pretty tough

Bishop's University Gaiters

No, not "Gators" as in Florida Gators. Gaiter. As in this definition: "A garment similar to leggings, worn to cover or protect the ankle and lower leg."

Yes, fear the BU Fighting Leg Protectors.

Find out more about our Gaiters here.

You're too professor-y for me

Take yourself out of your every day self, of your every day thoughts, and just for a moment, plunge back into those innocent yet somewhat dreadful elementary school days.

Remember those days of teacher and principal authority. Your little self would whisper something to your classmate during class. Oh, but then lo and behold, it wasn't only your friend who had heard you! Your entire face would go white and your stomach would feel like someone poured cement in it when your teacher approached you with that look in her eye. She had heard you! It didn't matter whether she was 28 or 82, they were all equally frightening to me. It wasn't until at least grade 4 that I realized that teachers are also people. I never really thought about them much, but I figured that all they did was teach, and that was their purpose in life. Going to a school in another town meant that I only ever saw teachers at school; I just figured that they had no personal life.

During recess, lunch break, they could shut the majority of kids up. The kids who didn't shut up were punished and were thereafter known as the "bad kids". I remember the year above me during elementary school had a lot of "bad kids". They were a bit of an exception, though, because one of the boys in that class had set a church on fire at the young age of eight. It was clear that he did not know what he was doing, but he did it just the same. Even the "bad kids" didn't go that far; the burning-down kid was in a category all of his own, unfortunately.
Anyway, I digress.

Once you got to high school, authority had taken a large step down, but it was still there. You called your teachers by their last name (with Mister or Miss in front of it), they would warn you not to curse, they would give you detentions if you were late or had misbehaved, etc. In school, there is a thick line between teachers and students. Of course, it needs to be there, especially if one party needs to assume the position of authority. In high school, you can become more friendly with teachers, but they are still your elders, the ones you should respect, so it is highly unlikely that you will go out for coffee with them.

In University, it seems that line between professor and student becomes somewhat blurred. Of course, you are still expected to behave yourself and not act up during class (something you should have learned in grade 3); besides, you are paying loads of money to sit in a class, so you might as well respect the professor and listen to what he or she has to say. If you don't want to, you can simply decide not to attend.

At Bishop's, though, it seems that the line between professor and student is very, very blurred. Professors have been known to drink and even on rare occasions, smoke up with students. English professors get drunk with their students, Philosophy professors hang out in cafes with their students, and Music professors have been known to play and jam with the students. In many situations outside the classroom, professors and students are on common ground. Of course, you probably will not talk to a professor like you would talk to a close friend of yours, but hey, it seems as though some professors and students are actually friends here.

This is a phenomenon that I find hard to believe. I mean, it makes sense that professors and students are on a more equal footing; in many cases, they are both mature people (most students who befriend professors are usually different or more intelligent than the average) and have similar interests. What I don't understand is when students and professors hang out together. For example, I have seen one of my previous Liberal Arts professors hang out at the cafe with a few students of his. In fact, just last week, I was part of this little, elitist, smart group. I find it a bit odd to be sitting around with a professor discussing life and philosophy outside of the University grounds. What constantly comes to mind is the question as to why on earth are these professors choosing to hang out with twenty-somethings when they could be hanging out with their own friends and family? Isn't work just work? Why are they choosing to be around this young crowd? We must sound so naïve and inexperienced to them. I mean, when students are discussing philosophy with a professor, aren't they just bringing up questions and speculations that the professor has heard many times before? Also, when our choir director comes to student music events, how on earth can he sit there, drinking a beer and sharing a laugh with a group of kids? It all seems so strange to me. We can't be that interesting.

Once I voiced my opinion to Andrea, she reminded me that yes, we are young, but we're not that stupid. Besides, most students who hang around with professors hang around them for a reason -- they obviously have something in common and share similar interests. It's true, but I am still not sure. Perhaps I am not giving some students the credit they deserve, and perhaps I am still a little prejudice when a professor and a student become buddy-buddy, but this is mainly due to the fact that I am also frequently exposed to the completely idiotic side of students.

It's difficult to give students much credit when they swear at passing police cars, when they smash bottles on the road (indirectly puncturing car and bicycle tires), and when they throw up everywhere on the road and sidewalk. Of course, just like in "real life", there is always a mix of moronic and interesting people. It's just too bad that it's always the idiots who stand out the most.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


This is worthy of a major announcement -- Tex, the one who denies dancing and refuses to particpate in the act, based his fantasy movie on, yes, dancing!
It was not I nor Andrea who had the idea of making a boogie fantasy movie; it was Tex himself who suggested it. Of course, we all thought it brilliant and terribly amusing.

Tex and Barry entered an (inter)
National Film Challenge and recruited their friends to help out with the location, the sound, the acting, and all other parts of making a movie that needs to be done. This film challenge is unique in the way that you must write, create, edit, and complete a four to eight minute movie in 48 hours. Now, four minutes sounds like an awfully short amount of time, but believe you me, four minutes can take weeks to perfect, and we only had a few hours.

On Saturday, our friends and colleagues were invited over to partake in the filming of the movie. We had spent Friday night writing our script as it was only at 7 pm that we received our genre, line, character, and prop. Sunday was to be left free for editing and sound.

Our genre: Fantasy
Prop: Oil
Character: Bobbie Soxer
Line: "If it doesn't work, give it a shake."

Now, just by looking at this, it is beyond simple to deduce how we came up with the dancing theme. I mean, we already squashed the idea of the oil being shook; that was incredibly obvious. Oh no, we were to create a magical world in which everyone had to dance to do things. Simple things like opening a carton of juice needed a special dance for it. If you wanted to cook a meal, you had to dance, and there you have it, you'd be eating like a king no time. These magical dancing people don't even dream of using their hands. I mean, why would there when their shakin' it method works so well?

As soon as I heard the name Bobbie Soxer, a slightly disturbing yet exciting image came to mind: a dirty, chain-smoking, deep-voiced lesbian. With a name like Bobbie Soxer, what other kind of character could it possibly be? So, it was at the very early stages of the movie-making that I dubbed Andrea Bobbie Soxer. She won't outwardly admit it, but she loved her character (let's just say I had a tough time getting her out of her frayed, biker's shirt).

Making the movie was fun, tedious, hilarious, and long. It was really neat having your family and friends collaborate on making a movie. We took all day Saturday to film, and then collapsed from exhaustion that evening after replenishing ourselves with a Mamerz home cooked meal. After being on your feet all day long, repeating scenes over and over again, tweaking with the sound, changing angles, trying it different ways, and putting up and down the filming equipment, relaxing over sausages and Archie comics felt like magic (without the dancing).

Now that I have wetted your appetites, I am sure you are all dying to watch our five minutes of fame. You can watch All the Wrong Moves here.

N.B. If you wish to read another approach of the movie-making weekend (at least, I think that is what he's rambling on about), this will re-direct you to Tex's entry.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Lesson on Snorting

I'll admit; I'm not the one to go crazy over celebrities. Especially movie celebrities. Heck, I have a hard enough time trying to figure out who is who. I rarely know who people are talking about, unless of course, they tell me the character they played in a specific movie that I had seen. Then, perhaps I would be able to place them.

Tons of people I know go crazy over famous people. I remember many of the girls I grew up with plastered their bedroom walls or school lockers with grinning poses of old men and skinny women with funny names. I could never relate. The most pictures I got in my locker was a naked picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, a picture of a cross-dresser, the letter "A" inked out in pretty calligraphy, and a snapshot of a cherished beanie baby. I wasn't what you would call "celebritity obsessed", but I wasn't what you would call popular for her locker contents either.

Of course, I am also not the one that doesn't have favourites when it comes to musicians or actors. My 'blog explicitly shows how much I am a fan of Leonard Cohen and James Spader. But, truth be told, I have no tangible pictures of them, I know little of their backgrounds (especially very little of Spader's), and I haven't (unfortunately) had erotic dreams about them. I just find them talented, like I think many people are -- the two of them just happen to be well-known.

However, as much as I can babble on about this, I do have one claim to fame: Stephen Chatman, a Canadian composer, born in 1950 and who teaches at University of British Columbia, wrote me an e-mail. I was in the process of learning one of his piano songs and absolutely loving it. It was a very modern piece, called "Night Sounds", and it involved playing strange key combinations, using a pencil to tap against the ledge of the piano, and using your voice! I had to whistle to imitate the wind, meow like an alley-cat, and, here's the kicker, snort like a pig.
It was really a great piece. I had the most fun with this song, and did it ever show -- that one piece got me into the most festivals I had ever done in any given year. Audiences loved it, adjudicators would always smile when I played it, and my piano teacher and I would get such a kick out of it.

There was only one problem: I cannot, for the life of me, snort. Never mind like a pig, but I just can't snort. You know how some people involuntarily snort when they laugh and then feel embarrassed about it afterwards? Well, that just doesn't happen to me. I can't snort. I can hork back spit decently enough, but that's really the extent of my snorting. I cannot snort on command, and if I do get it, it sounds like some pitiful cat wheezing. My piano teacher and I knew that the situation was hopeless, so we substituted pig snorting for dog barking. It was well received up until one of the festivals at Carleton. The adjudicator politely asked me at the end, why I had barked instead of snorted. I patiently explained to her that my vocal chords, or whatever does that sound, is just not able to spit out a snort. She went on from there, even though I knew that the answer wasn't satisfactory to her. She was only "OK" with it. After I told this to my piano teacher, he suggested that I write to Stephen Chatman himself and ask him what he thought about the pig snorts and the dog barks.

So at age sixteen, this is what I wrote, and followed is the response I got:

----- Original Message -----
From: Miranda Glen <zazaglen@hotmail.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2002 6:33 PM
Subject: Night Sounds ~ from a fan
Dear Dr. Chatman,
Hi, Dr. Chatman, my name is Miranda Glen. I am a piano student in Chesterville, Ontario. I am presently playing your piece: Night Sounds. I'm really enjoying it; I love the contemporary notation and the sounds made by voice. It's so much different than other pieces, and that's a reason why I love it!
The only thing difficult for me to do are the pig snorts. I have tried so many times to do them, but all that comes out is a sound that sounds like a dying cat. So, I have substituted the pig snorts for dog barks. I know it's not what's written, but it's easier for me to do; you won't believe how many times I've tried the pig sounds. I was wondering if it was OK for me to perform it with the dog barks. I have performed it at a recital, and an adjudacator commented on it. She said the pig snorts didn't sound like pig snorts; I told her they were supposed to be dog barks. She seemed to find that OK.
Anyway, I was wondering what you thought about it and if I should keep on doing it or find an alternative suggestion.
Thank you!
By the way, because I really enjoy your piece, I think you should writemore in that fashion: with the contemporary notation. I know you have others like that, but have you written any above the grade 7 Grade? It would be great if you wrote more!
From a great fan, Mirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrranda

From : Dr. Stephen Chatman <chatman@interchange.ubc.ca>
Sent : February 11, 2002 1:37:43 AM
To : "Miranda Glen" <
Subject : Re: Night Sounds ~ from a fan
Dear Miranda,

I REALLY enjoyed you email. Thank you for writing to me.

Re: pig snorts, this might help: On a whispered "oh", try breathing invery suddenly and quickly through your nose, completely relaxing your mouth,and beginning with your tongue on the roof of your mouth, then removing yourtongue from the roof as you breathe in.

This might work. If this doesn'twork, a dog bark can be convincing as well. --- don't let any judge bother you!!

Best wishes
Steve chatman

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why am I doing this?

Amateur theatre.

I've been in quite a few plays in my short lifetime so far: skits, cabarets, one-acts, two-acts, you name it. In most of these performances, I was an actor. Being in a play is typically a stressful affair -- I mean, no one wants it to be so, but usually there is something that everyone worries about, whether it be a wobbly part of the set, a wrong prop, or knowing that one of the actors just just memorized his lines five days before the show. And even if there isn't anything tangible that can go wrong, there is always a chance for a slip-up, someone jumping four pages ahead and then jumping back again, and then you having no idea what the heck you're supposed to say.

Days, hours, or even minutes before going on stage, there can be utter chaos. How on earth are you even supposed to pull this off? We've only done the plate breaking scene once with a real plate! Won't it be clear as day to everyone that you aren't even close to being ready? How long will you be able to keep up the facade?!
Now, this is the appropriate time when you will ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this madness?" There is stress coming out of your ears!

And yes, I have even heard my Dad utter those frenzied words minutes before opening night, getting ready backstage, as the chaos reigns around him. The set will fall over! Hubert doesn't know his lines! I need to run away! Why am I here again?

But, of course, the question is always answered at the end. Somehow, you've managed to pull the play off. Somehow, everything came together in the end. Nothing fell over! No one fumbled up! Somehow, the play was successful! Yes, successful! People actually liked it; heck, they even laughed! You had forgotten how funny it was. You had forgotten how much you love audiences.

After the play, you are on a plateau'd high, and you can't imagine doing anything else but theatre. You know exactly why you do it. For the love of the arts, for the performance, for the entertainment of the audience! You only remember the positive parts of it all; you remember how great your cast is and how wonderful it is that you will be performing this play five more times. Your day job can wait; you are living the high life of an actor now!

Repeated performances are always the best -- you are much less nevous, more excited, and you strive to make every performance the absolute greatest it can be. Finally, you now have the opportunity to actually concentrate on being an actor, rather than chewing your fingernails, asking yourself whether or not Marge will remember her cues.

However, perhaps the worst part of theatre is the end of it. The fact that you were part of this group, this magical ensemble, and suddenly now, you have finished your last show, and it is back to reality for you, man! No more crazy actors, no more theatre highs, no more audiences -- it's back to that grim factory of yours, where you are expected to work as a serf for 16-hours a day, turning trees into Thneeds. Okay, okay, so maybe your job isn't quite that bleak, but anything is depressing after being a real, live actor for two weeks!

But, what about having that magical opportunity to actually make acting your day job? Well, I only promised amateur theatre in this entry. If you've entered the realm of professional theatre, disregard this entry, and please, take me with you!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Balsamic Vinegar

There is only one kind of food that I really despise, and it is balsamic vinegar. Any one of those weird vinegars, like malted, balsamic, or the cider apple vinegar is absolutely vomitrocious.

Right now the smell permeates the entire house. Andrea oh-so clumsily spilled it on our futon. It is pandemonium. Out of all the foods that could be taking over the house, why must it be that blasted apple cider vinegar! Why, I would tolerate chunky stew or red wine spewn all over the couches rather than that filthy acidic stench.

Balsamic vinegar isn't something that should ever be consumed, let alone spilled on couches.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Oh, Canada?

Love to travel? But strangely enough feel more Canadian abroad than at home?

"Canadians are not, by and large, patriotic people, but if there's one thing I've noticed from my years overseas, it's how our national pride swells whenever we leave. Yes, there's nothing quite like leaving Canada to make you feel Canadian."

Read more of Cindy's great article here!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

My little brown bag

Allow me, just this once, to wallow in self-pity. I so seldom do indulge my readers in my misfortunes; I figure that most people, including myself, are sick of hearing other bloggers complain about their so-called miserable lives.

I am merely miserable about one thing -- I have lost my purse, containing all of my cards and keys that I need. I did not have much money in it, thankfully, but the real problem is that so much is lost with that one thing. Even my Ukranian money! Phone numbers, Student ID, Bank card, Health Card, everything vanished with it.

The strangest part of this entire ordeal is that the loss of my purse makes no sense to me. From what I have deduced, it should be in the house. But, let me tell you, I have scoured my house from top to bottom and have come up with nothing. The only other plausible place it may be is Bandeen Hall, where I have choir practise. I still doubt very much that I left it there, but it is the only other explanation.

Just as a warning, as I am somewhat in the depths of despair, blog entries may slow down because of this dilemma.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Saving Face

The world of theatre is a strange place, not only due to its eccentric actors, to its "modern plays", nor to its abnormal schedules, but also because it is a place to express yourself, to release those emotions that you've bottled up for years... and then get someone to perform them on stage?

Many people release sadness of a particularly bad break-up through a painting, for example, or they will vent their anger and frustration of their world or the world around them in a form of a poem or a short story. But the strangest, almost funniest, way to release emotions, especially personal emotions of a particular circumstance or situation, is writing a play about it. I shouldn't really say strange because I do think that writing about something that has bothered you or is still bothering you is a good antidote; it can put your situation in perspective. I suppose the real funny thing about this is when you pen something hurtful that happened to you in your past, and then you spend weeks or months perfecting this very personal script, just so you can see it acted out in front of you! Yes, instead of burying these emotions deep within your wounded soul, you intentionally thrust these sharded feelings up on stage, for everyone to see, as well as yourself, so you have the opportunity to relive this horribly negative experience (that you likely never wanted to go through again) many times on stage!

Of course, not every dramatist has the desire to write about their darkest times, nor do many of them choose to write about something so close to home. It is true, however, that the majority of playwrights to tend to slip in at least something personal (such as a specific character or a political view they may have) into their scripts. It's very tempting to add something of youreslf into the script because it is always neat to watch something that has something of you in it. It's like your very own private joke.

So, is playwriting only for the strong and the bold? Not at all; people write anything from a milkman to octopus' to the country of Latvia. For some, it's just another way to get those artsy fartsy I'm-so-filled-with-emotions out. It is just peculiar that seeing your problem acted out on stage can be therapeutic, but I suppose it could be the interpretation of your play that you are interested in. Perhaps it helps you realize that others are in the same boat, or even, it helps you find a solution or a way to move on.

At the auditions yesterday, I had the opportunity to read almost the entire script of one of the plays. It is student written. I was shocked at the content of the script because I know the playwright, and I could never see him writing something like that. He is witty and funny, sometimes quiet, and he is a brilliantly hilarious actor. I just did not see him writing about a love triangle. Although, as Andrea pointed out, maybe he's just writing about something that happened to him. Makes sense -- even the witty and the funny get into difficult situations.

In a way, that reminds me of how interesting it is to read something for the first time of someone you already know. Sometimes, their writing comes to you as a complete surprise. You would have never guessed that they write that way! It makes you think about them in a slightly different way; you have now pierced into their life as a writer. I believe that someone's writing is a critical part about them, especially if they are one to write articles, music, or even a weblog.

Of course, something that is potentially even more interesting is meeting someone after having read and followed their blog religiously. Interesting, yes, but not necessarily pleasant.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Photos and Chocolate Chip Cookies

As promised, I have uploaded photos from my time in Germany on aisle four. Feel free to check them out. Pictures of my time in Berlin, Poland, Vienna, and Boston will come shortly.

For years now, I have been searching for the perfect chocolate chip recipe. It is the most well-known and standard cookie, but I also believe it is one of the most delicious. The chocolate chip cookie recipes on chocolate chips packaging are often lame and require strange ingredients. Those cookies have never turned out well for me. Only about a week ago, I stumbled across the most perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Now, I doubt that many of you were also on this chocolate chip cookie quest, but I have decided to post the recipe, just in case.

I follow this recipe very closely, except that I add about two tablespoons of milk to the batter, which makes a great difference in terms of the fluffiness of the cookies. I have also heard that adding a "dollop" of sour cream also makes the cookies softer. The amount of a "dollop" is left up to your own interpretation.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) with rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), cream the butter. Add the white and brown sugars and beat until fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat well after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat until incorporated, adding the chocolate chips about half way through mixing. If you find the dough very soft, cover and refrigerate until firm (about 30 minutes).
For large cookies, use about a 2 tablespoon ice cream scoop or with two spoons, drop about 2 tablespoons of dough (35 grams) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake about 12 - 14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on wire rack.

Makes about 4 dozen - 3 inch round cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) (226 grams) unsalted
butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white
1 cup (215 grams) firmly packed light brown
2 large
2 teaspoons pure
vanilla extract
3 cups (420 grams) all-purpose
1 teaspoon
baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (270 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Art of Meeting People

Being a Freshman at University practically shouts out at you the welcomed words of "you'll meet new people", "a good place to meet people", "meet interesting people with similar interests as you", etc.
Most of these things are true, unless, of course, you have extremely atypical interests, where your idea of a good time involves reptiles and a shoddy-looking urinal.

Meeting people is an artform; there are many different ways to approach people. I find it interesting to note the various ways people choose to approach others; some prefer the loud and outgoing method, whilst others opt for a quiet, perhaps more intellectual approach. And, of course, there is never anything wrong with the witty and funny method.

I also find it very interesting to observe the way close friends of mine react and communicate when they are faced with new people. Different styles and techniques are used, depending on whether you are just humouring someone or making small-talk, rather than considering them as a potential friend; also, I will approach both sexes differently, especially when the situation is only a one-on-one.

As you get older and as you chalk up more life experience, I find it becomes easier to weed out the people that have no friend potential whatsoever. You know what you are looking for, you know the type of person you prefer, so it is easier to pick out those unworthy after a good conversation; then again, sometimes it just takes a five minutes or an obnoxious or ignorant comment.

I enjoy making people laugh, almost in any situation, whether it be a close friend or a possible new friend, so that is part of my technique. I also tend to be a little more blunt, sarcastic, quirky, and even witty when I encounter someone new. I find it amusing to be able to talk in any fashion you want, without the other person wondering how on earth you became so bonkers. You may just be naturally bonkers! Perhaps you are of the errant bonkish nature. They don't know. So, when you've found someone worthy of your time, savour it, play with it, test some borders, and before you know it, you'll be adorned in a pretty, yet somehow unmanageable long-sleeved white shirt that makes arm movement significantly more difficult.

Like food, painting, and theatre, overall in their goodness and disasters, people are an art.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

This is how close I got to Ukraine

Through a rainy window, I managed to snap this shot before Maciej could yell at me, telling me that the Ukranians are paranoid and would take my camera away.

And this is my favourite Ukranian whom I failed to see!

Wrap up

The reason why I haven't been updating recently is because I can never decide if I should write about any of my trips after August fourth. I think about what I want to write, and then I subsequently become overwhelmed with the volume that each travel story contains. And if I compressed my travel stories, then nothing funny or interesting would be left -- just the skeleton of what I did and with whom.

The entire summer was my most interesting and independent-lived summer. I lived alone. I spent my weekends with other Canadians travelling the area. I did spontaneous trips. I got lost in cities. I figured out train stations. I went anywhere I wanted anytime I wanted. I did things that I wouldn't do back home. Every time I travel, I become less afraid of what is around me, more confident to tackle things I want, and I feel much more control of everything around me. It seems as though my mind grows and expands with every trip I do. Honestly, you can't help but learn something useful when you travel, whether it be always have extra toilet paper with you or understanding certain people's behaviours. People fascinate, disgust, and amaze me anywhere I go.

I have many highlights of my time in Europe. I am hesitant to use the word "trip" at times because the purpose of my stay was working at the hotel for two months. Of course, I did travel on my days off (which could be called "weekend" or "day" trips), and I did have two weeks of solely travelling once I finished my job.

As my Itinerary did promise, I was supposed to find myself in Ukraine after a day spent in Poland. Maciej, Jarek, Paula, and I all clambered into Maciej's old, red car and drove over eight hours, passing through Warsaw, to the Ukraine border. This is where our trip started to turn sour. Naturally, we were all eager to quickly get through the border and arrive at our Ukranian city, especially after eight hours of nearly straight driving. The problem loomed ahead, as when we came about ten kilometres close of the border, we already saw the line of trucks waiting their turn to get into the country. This was one killer border. It took us three hours to simply get to the Ukrainian side of the border. For some reason, we had to pass through at least four different border-like stops. It was once we hit the very last border (Ukraine was a mere ten steps away) that we were turned away.

Conversation translated from a mix of broken Polish, good Polish, and Russian:

Border guard: I can't let you guys in.

Jarek: Why not?

Border guard: Maciej's car isn't registered under his name. How do I know that he didn't steal it?

Jarek: It's registered under his cousin's name, but it's his car.

Border guard: I don't know that. If you were to go over the border and were stopped by the police, there would be trouble. He would wonder why you are driving a car that doesn't belong to you, and then he would ask you who let you into the country. I would then have a ruined reputation, and most likely be expelled from my job. The thing is Jarek, I would most certainly let you guys into the country, but I can't let you in with that car.

And that was that.

What I find the most irritating about this entire explanation is that it is highly unlikely that a policeman would stop you, ask you for your registration, and then proceed to fire a border guard for letting you in. A more plausible situation would be that you would be stopped by a policeman, you would talk with him for a few minutes, and then you would inevitably end up paying him off for God knows what. That's the way things work. Anyway, we didn't even know the border guard's name to begin with, and even if we did, I doubt a policeman would even care.

After being turned away at the border, we most grudgingly turned around and made our way back. It took us another hour to get back to Poland, and I thought for a fleeting moment that we would be stuck in no-man's land and never allowed to go into either country. The worst part about it is that no-man's land had paying bathrooms, and I was surely to run out of money at some point.

Unfortunately, because it was a Sunday, there were no buses going to Ukraine that day, so, short of walking there, we couldn't even get into the country without the car! We finally accepted defeat. We then decided to drive to Southern Poland, back to our Canada World Youth community of Stoszowice. The drive there was about ten hours, so you can imagine how exhausted and utterly uncomfortable we were at the end of the trip. We started in North-West Poland, drove through Warsaw, got to the border, turned around, went South, passed through Krakow, and then finally made it to Stoszowice (which is about 60 kilometres from Wroclaw). We drove more than halfway around the country, but it felt like we drove more than halfway around Europe. We stayed with Paula's host family (including her very hospitable and fantastic of a cook host mother) for the three following nights, during which we rested, visited old CWY friends and places, and witnessed a somewhat serious flood. I had such a good time those few short days spent in Poland, and I'd even go as far to say that it was better than a few of my days spent in Poland back in 2004. I felt so much more relaxed and content this time around, not to mention that I was in superb company for the entirety of the trip.

After Poland, I headed off to Vienna, as I had originally planned. Not many interesting stories can be pulled out of that trip, as I was in good hands and well-rested the entire time. Wacky stories seldom happen when things are well in order and go as planned.

Coming back to Canada felt as sweet as ever, even though customs in Montreal was a little hectic. I didn't fill in my customs form right, so I was invited into The Room for further questioning. Nobody knows what happened in that room, except for myself, and let me tell you, those scary looking men in uniforms are not swayed by delectable Polish chocolate. And yes, I even did try to pull out the extra-rich, German brand, which I purchased in Berlin, but even that did not sway the custom officers. Right away they spotted my weaknesses, and they tied me to a chair. I knew, from watching movies, that flailing my arms would do no good. They roughly held up my head with my hair and shone a bright light, which bore right into my eyes. They told me what I had to do. No no, please! Anything but that! I pleaded. But, they would not hear my cries. They gave me the telephone and stood over and watched me as I dialed the wretched restaurant's number...

In the meantime, feel free to check out my pictures in aisle four. As of now, I have my pictures from Munich's beer garden up, and more pictures are slated to come in the next few days.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The yummy cut-up pancake look-alike


"... and then we had something, of which I forget the name of, which resembles cut-up pancakes, but it is sweeter and doesn't have such a mushy texture as pancakes do. The first part of the word is "Kaiser", and all you German speakers out there should be able to remind me what the heck this lovely dish is called."

Kaiserschmarrn, that's what it is called! And the best part about it is that Mom has promised to make it for us upon my return!

A bomb, but not on the bus

On a breezy Tuesday evening at around eight o'clock, Marie and I line up to go up the Dome, Berlin's parliament - the Reichstag. Entry is free, so there is always a large crowd queuing up. It doesn't really matter, however, since the line moves relatively quickly, as they are able to fit large groups into the building.

As soon as we entered the building, we saw that there was a security check. It was not all that surprising, since in most government buildings, you must pass a certain level of security. We realize that they must be at least kind of serious with this security business, since when we took a silly face photo of us, a thin security guy through a glass wall tapped on it and shook his head, as he pointed at our camera. That gave me an urge to snap a picture of him. Marie convinced me otherwise. Anyway, everyone was lining up, and we slowly started to pass through the metal detector.

When we were just about to put our bags on the conveyor belt and pass through the metal detector, Marie just realized that she had scissors and a pair of tweezers in her bag, that had been earlier confiscated at the Canadian Embassy. That made me think of my small Swiss Army knife that I carry around on my purse. We realized that we should have taken out our "weapons" earlier, but oh well, we were already at the detector. We would have to leave them at the door with the security guards.

Marie and I pass through the metal detector without beeping, but we know we will get asked about our bags. Miraculously, they hand back my bag (containing the purse which carried my knife) without any comments. Strange. Marie's bag, however, they take off of the conveyor belt and look at her with a stern eye. The security guards exchange looks with each other. Uh oh.

The first security guard looks at her seriously and demands, "Spray."


He points to her bag, motioning her to open it and says "Spray" again. He looks at the other security guars with the look of: she may be carrying a certain kind of bomb.

Marie is confused. She unzips one of the pockets and uncertainly takes out a tube of Deodorant spray. Do they mean this?

They take it from her, examine it, shrug, and hand it back to her. They give her back her bag, and her and I are off on our merry way.

Well, then! We can carry knives, scissors, and tweezers, but deodorant sprays -- now, ladies and gentlemen, who knows what that can contain! We couldn't stop laughing about her deodorant, so we took a picture of her proudly holding it inside the Dome.

So, word to the wise -- Do your hygiene at home and leave all deodorant bombs at home. Who knows the commotion you may cause.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


My European Adventure is beginning tomorrow with a capital and most grandiose A!

I am heading off to Munich tomorrow with Sophia and hopefully Heather to see the newly released Pirates of the Caribbean, most likely in German. That night, I will be hopping on the night train via Berlin, in which Marie will be in wagon 27 waiting for me! We will both be spending a few days in Berlin before she heads off to Spain to meet her beau.

Whilst Marie begins her trek to the land of the Spaniards, I will be hopping on a bus to Chojnice, Poland, where I will meet Maciej (Polish) and Paula (Colombian - Canadian), two Canada World Youth past participants. I will only be spending about one day in Poland before the three of us, hopefully also including Jarek, drive to the intriguing and much anticipated Ukraine. I am still a little worried about Paula and I being able to enter the country only with our passports, but we were told that we did not need a visa to visit for a few days. I sure hope so. We shall soon find out.

In Ukraine awaits my lovely counterpart, Olya. She is currently working at the Ostrog Academy, so we will probably be meeting her there. I will be spending about five days with her and the others, seeing some sights and enjoying each other's company. After about five days, I will leave my fellow international friends and train to Vienna.

Vienna will find me staying with my great aunt and uncle. I have been told that my great aunt is looking forward to showing me around, especially around all of the places that Mom used to frequent. I simply cannot wait to be in Vienna, especially since this year is Mozart's birthday. I am hoping to catch a concert or opera of some sort when I am there.

And, there you have it! All of this will be compacted into fourteen short days, as it is the 14th of August that I will be landing in Montreal. I am also looking forward to being back home again, as it will be so wonderful to see everyone again. It feels good to have so many things to look forward to.

And I haven't even mentioned my upcoming Boston trip!

Friday, July 28, 2006

The grass is greener in Innsbruck

Travelling without a map can sure be fun -- although it may induce a few periods of panic for me -- but travelling without a sure destination or not knowing exactly where you'll be in a few hours is also just as fun.

Heather and I randomly went to Innsbruck on our last weekend -- we did not know the city at all, heck, we didn't even know the size, but we knew we wanted to go down to lovely Tirol, Austria, specifically Innsbruck.

I must say, it is a beautiful city. We walked for hours the first day, just exploring the city, going in and out of shops, drinking cold, yummy drinks, and walking in the Fußgängerzone. In the evening, we sat by the river eating chocolate, and then we had the great opportunity to hang out and chat with some very interesting and cool Austrians in first a funky bar and then in the Irish pub. It was simply wonderful.

The following day found us at one of the many Innsbruck museums -- this museum in particular was having an exhibit called, "100 000 years of sex", in which basically sex was researched from before the Middle Ages until the Victorian Age. It was quite interesting, although they could have done much more with it. We also viewed their modern art collection, as well as a special science exhibit. It was a sweltering hot day, so it was wise to spend much time in museums.

On the train back, Heather and I ended up running into a French-Canadian family that were from Northern Ontario, near Timmins. They were extremely friendly, and they asked us of all the cool and fun things there is to do around Füssen, which was one of their next destinations. We recommended the usual things, such as the castles, the museums, swimming in the lakes, and we also suggested that they go to Heather's restaurant for Apfel Strudel.

The train dropped us off in Reutte (still in Austria, but only about 15 km from Füssen), and no sooner had we gotten off the train that we realized that no more buses ran to Füssen that day. Simply lovely. We decided to do the ol' hitchhiking thing (since we had become practically pros at it) but because we were on a different road, not as many people were going to Füssen. It took awhile before we were picked up (two drivers before had stopped for us, but they were not going to Füssen). Heather and I ended up wandering past a town called "Pflach", which made us laugh. The heat coupled with exhaustion, feeling sticky, and us not getting a ride made us laugh, chortle, and giggle at practically anything. However, the driver that ended up picking us up (and who was going to Füssen) was a woman! I was extremely impressed, as was Heather. So, there are women who pick up hitchhikers!

As it stands now, I only have two and a half days left at the hotel! As of the 31st, my vacation commences. I can hardly wait for my travelling time, as well as arriving back in Canada. It should be an exciting next few weeks!

Friday, July 21, 2006

American Story #1

Judging by the way they drawled and dropped certain letters in words, and the fact that they spoke English, I came to the easy conclusion that we had a few Americans spending the night last night. A few of them were visiting a friend, which I assume hails from Bayern, and he had taken them all out to our restaurant for supper. At around 10:30 pm, one of the Americans, a woman, comes back down and asks our head waitress, Marlene, whom has a fairly good grasp of the English language, if she can use the Internet.

American: "Excuse me, but cuddeye use the inernet?'

Marlene: "Sorry?" (She is now completely focussed on the American -- you sometimes need all of your brain power to converse in a foreign language).

American: "The inernet. Cuddeye use it?"

Marlene: "I'm sorry, I don't understand."

Realizing the problem here, I quickly jump in, informing Marlene that the woman wishes to use the internet.

Marlene: "Ooh! In-ter-net! You want to use the In-ter-net." (She pronounces every syllable as crystal and as clear as ever, even rolling the 'r' a little).

So, the three of us go up to the computer, Marlene signs her on, and she is ready to go. I chat briefly with the American, telling her that I am Canadian, and that is why my English is so good. (American to me: "Wow, you have really good English. Where did you learn it?")

After leaving the American to do her thing online, Marlene comes up to me and asks if Internet is actually Internet in English. I tell her it is, but she is baffled why she had so much trouble understanding the American. I say that it is her accent, and she tends to drop some letters in some words.

"Schrecklich", says Marlene, as she busies herself again, which translates to horrible.

I grin. I stop myself from saying, "Well, what about this ridiculous Bayern dialect? What about your rumbly German and your different words for things? How about speaking in Hoch Deutsch for a change?"

It was a good thing I stopped myself. Not that I have built up hate against the Bayern dialect, I just found Marlene's reaction humourous, especially when they all know full well that they themselves speak a different kind of German.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Munich - two days chocked full of "Spaß"

München - A most beautiful city which I will always have fond memories of. I must say, I had the time of my life, and I can't wait to go back.

Heather and I shared a Bayern-Ticket and took the 9:52 am train to Munich, after, of course, stocking up on some of those peanut butter flavoured chips (which I have grown quite fond of).
We met up with Sophia and Marie at the Munich Bahnhof's Burger King. We all headed over to our hostel, checked in, and dumped off all of our stuff. Marie was very eager to get going. I was just so excited to be in a city again, and I couldn't wait to start exploring beautiful Munich, rich of culture, history, and, of course, beer gardens.

We decided to go and meet the guys right away. Three guys from our group work in a beer garden in Munich, and the plans were to see the sights and then go out "on the town" with them. Riding the train and then a bus, the four of us realized how far the guys were from Munich's downtown. Later on, we discovered that they in fact work in one of Munich's suburbs.

Franziskaner was the name of their beer garden. We made it there and within approximately eight seconds, realized what a crappy job they have. Sure, the beer garden looks great, and it feels like a great environment, but only only if you are a customer. The three guys -- Dave, Joel, and Nick -- work like slaves. They are bus boys, so they are the ones that clean, put away, and carry around the glasses. Naturally, they have the boss from hell, who screams after them all the time, and once even sent Dave home because apparently his work was " Scheiße" (shitty). To add to all of this, they never have days off, unless it rains. Because June has been such a beautiful month, save maybe five days at the beginning, they have had only three days off in the past month. I really don't know how they stick it out.

Sophia quickly downed her litre of beer, we told the guys we'd be back later, and then we headed to the Neue Pinakothek Museum. It is a museum of 18th and 19th century art, featuring famous impressionists, realists, and even our beloved Van Gogh. It was a great museum, and we even got to have one of those audio things, which tells you information about specific paintings. I could definitely have stayed there all day, but we wanted to get in as much as we could, so we boogied our way to the BMW Museum.

Heather was the one who suggested we go to the BMW Museum, due to her love (or her mother's love?) of the car. Unfortunately, the museum is undergoing renovations because, believe it or not, a BMW World is due to open in 2007! In order to compensate, they had a smaller museum set up, which was still pretty cool. Heather took tons of pictures, but she kept lamenting on how she wished she was here when the BMW World opens. We told her she could always come back next year, and she said that she may, unless she dies. She is an odd one, but that doesn't compare to what the four of us were going on about on the train and bus. We were absolutely crazy. Everyone in the train was stone quiet and just watching us go about in our loud and obnoxious ways. Oh, but it was loads of fun. And to quote Heather, "we are completely mental". It's been a long time since I've laughed that much.

After the BMW museum, we headed back to our hostel and ended up talking to a friendly guy from Kentucky. We made plans to meet up again the following day at the Moderne Pinakothek (modern art, from the 20th and 21st century). I would tell you this friendly guy's name, but neither of us could ever remember his name.

We arrived at the guys' beer garden at around 11 pm. They were just finishing cleaning up. After getting their hours signed by their devil of a boss, they sat down with us, each one of them carrying their litre of beer. Apparently, every day, they get a free litre (a Maß) of Helles beer. And every day, they drink their litre of beer (naturally). We met some of their co-workers (most of them from Eastern Europe), as well as a guy named David, from Scotland. The guys, us, as well as this Scottish David guy, went out after the litres of beer had been polished off. The plan was to hit the club square in one of Munich's "hip" districts. We first went back to Nick and Dave's place because Nick had to, because it's Nick, fix his hair, put on new clothes, and primp himself, all the while talking like a black man to us. The rest of us sat on the edge of Dave's balcony bedroom, smoked, drank warm beer (which I politely declined, even when Scottish David tried to make them cold), and enjoyed the cool night.

We stayed there for quite awhile and chatted. We must have lost track of time because by the time we finally got out, it was 3 am! Someone kept on saying, probably Nick, that the night was young. Heather and I got worried when I heard the birds chirping, but Scottish David told us that their chirps mean nothing here. At least, mean nothing regarding to time.
We walked around the club district for ages, met a few policemen (Joel and I took a good look at their Polizei car), met many Americans and Canadians, but we never did make it into a club. We looked into many clubs, but most of them were about to close for the night, and others were apparently "not good enough" for certain people (read: Nick) in our group. So, after walking around for ages, we parted ways and us girls took the 4:30 am tram back to our hostel.

It was 5 am by the time we got to our beds, but this didn't stop us from waking up shortly before 9 am the next day. There was much to be done! After having our breakfast of toast and jam and tea (sitting, of course, with the friendly Kentucky guy), we all went separate ways. Heather was to inquire about the fixing of her laptop, Marie went to drop her stuff off at Nick and Dave's place (she was staying the following night there), and I was left to ponder the question:

Should I stay the extra night and watch the big game of Deutschland versus Italia?

Pros: It's not every day you are in the country that holds the World Cup, and it's not every day you are in one of their major cities when a game with that country is playing. This was going to be big.

Cons: I had to work the following day at 9 am, so that meant that I had to catch a super early train back. Also, Heather and I wouldn't be able to use our Bayern-Ticket.

After inquiring at the train station and talking about it with Marie, we decided that I would use her Bahn Discount Card and would go back to Füssen at 6:52 am. Marie and Heather would travel to Füssen together, using the Bayern-Ticket. We had planned for Marie to come to Füssen to see the sights, as well to visit us, as Sophia and I had visited her in Immenstaad.

So, it was now official -- I was staying an extra night in Munich for the big game!

The four of us took the Free Tour of Munich, our tour guide being an Australian, who loved Germany. It was a really neat tour, lasting a total of 2 hours and a half, so we got to see many of the major sites. I took many pictures. Speaking of photographs, they will all be posted once I get back home, which is August 14th. It is too much of hassle to put them up on Aisle 4 now. Of course, don't obsessively start updating my blog every 15 seconds on August 14th (it's a nice thought) because I can tell you now that I will be taking it ultra easy on the 14th when I return.

After the Free Tour, Sophia bought some honey wine (which was much too odd tasting for my liking), and Marie and Heather bought some Burger King (which, apparently, Heather had been craving for over a month). We hustled our way to the Moderne Pinakothek Museum, which is a museum of modern art, showcasing weird pieces of furniture, funky appliances, avant-garde photographs, and famous artists, such as Picasso. After the museum, we came back to Munich's downtown, we explored some shops, Heather finally got her computer fixed, and Sophia bought some cherries and strawberries from one of the many fruit stands. Marie and I went into a Germany souvenir shopped (which was packed) and bought some Germany paraphernalia, in order to properly get ready for the big game at 9 pm. We bought some leis in red, black, and yellow, and we even got some Deutschland flags tattoos! It was around 6:30 pm, and already people were going crazy. Nearly everyone was sporting either a Germany flag, or a Germany t-shirt, or several Germany tattoos, or a combination! Every so often, a bunch of Italians would loudly walk by, singing "Italia! Italia!" and waving their flag.

So, the four of us went back to the guys' beer garden, in order to watch the game there. We were very giddy on the train as well as the bus. We got there an hour before the game was due to begin, but the huge beer garden was already packed. We finally found a table, and Sophia and Heather ordered some food. Marie and I ordered a Wein Schorle each.

The game passed in a sort of a haze. I didn't watch much of it. The four of us were laughing too much. Once the game went into overtime, though, the entire beer garden tensed up. Everyone's eyes were glued to the screens; they clutched their flags in their hands, hoping to God that they would soon be able to wave their flag around like maniacs.
I finally stood up to actually watch some of the game, and BAM BAM, like two swift kicks to the groin, Italia scored twice in a row. That was it -- Deustchland wouldn't win the World Cup this year. The only people in the entire beer garden, probably in the entire country, who were elated with Italia's victory of Germany were Joel, David, Nick, and Scottish David. This meant that they wouldn't have to work as long; this meant that everyone was about to go home and mope!

So, of course, they go around hooting and hollering (but not too loudly, so as to not upset the loyal fans), and then they start cleaning up. After they are finished, we all hang out at their beer garden, they enjoy their litre of beer, and we chat with some of the Eastern Europeans. At around 3 am, we all part ways. Sophia is to be dropped off at the train station, in order to take the overnight train to Frankfurt, Marie and Heather are to sleep at Nick and Dave's place, and I am to stay at Scottish Dave's house. Unfortunately, Scottish Dave cleverly forgot his keys inside his house, and his roommates are either walking their 90-year old Oma (yes, at 3 am) or drinking until 5 am (what a bunch of weirdos), so we are left to wander the streets of Munich until I need to catch my train.
Fortunately, it is a nice night, so staying up, chatting, and walking isn't so bad after all. I didn't think I would get much sleep as it is, so getting no sleep at all wasn't much of a step for me. After all, this is Munich -- I can do the sleeping thing on a later date.

So, I catch my 6:52 am train in a stupor, somehow make my connection, and I make it back to Füssen, just missing the bus going back to Roßhaupten. So, what am I to do? Ride my trusty bicycle, of course! So yes, after two days of very little sleep and much walking and partying, I get on my bike and ride the eleven kilometres back to the hotel. I work until nearly 3 pm (later than normal), tutor English, have a shower, work my night shift, and then come back home at 10 pm and chat with Marie (who is staying the night at my place) before finally, finally going to sleep. I have no idea how I did it.

So, there you are, my lovely readers -- I commend you for making it to the end of this monster of an entry. I really should have mentioned the funny Americans that I have come across since I have been here, but don't worry, I will reserve those stories for a later date.

Monday, July 03, 2006

A disconnected blurb

I, unfortunately, missed the festivites of Canada Day (a Quebecois' delight) this year. Not only that, but on the 1st of July, I managed to break my only Canada flag. Perhaps it was symbolic, in order to remind me that I am in a country that is oblivious to the fact that July 1st Canada Day.

I went to see Heather today, and she wished me a happy Canada Day. She said that she has been dying to say that to someone (who would appreciated it) ever since she woke up on Saturday.

It was another beautiful day, so we biked to Hopfen am See and went to her work -- a restaurant by the name of Fischerhütte. We went there for two reasons -- first of all, as it is the end of the month, she wanted to get paid (people at her work don't seem to tell her anything), and second of all, we wanted to indulge in their desserts. Their food is nothing to write home about, as they are more well-known for their scrumptious desserts. We shared an Apfelstrudel with vanilla ice cream, and then we had something, of which I forget the name of, which resembles cut-up pancakes, but it is sweeter and doesn't have such a mushy texture as pancakes do. The first part of the word is "Kaiser", and all you German speakers out there should be able to remind me what the heck this lovely dish is called.

Heather said she has been feeling more Canadian than ever since she has been in Deutschland. I said that I experienced similar feelings when I first went to Poland for a few months. You really get thinking about your country, what you feel, and how you relate. She said that she never thought about Canada "in that way" at all before. It was an interesting conversation.

Tomorrow, I will be spending the night in Munich, after a day of exploring the city, seeing museums, doing some shopping, and "exploring" some beer gardens!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Not World Cup Related

Ah, Deutschland...

There is so much to say, so many little things, so many observations, thoughts, and occurences, but it's difficult getting them all down at once.

What I have been doing:

I went to the Bodensee on Monday and Tuesday, and I had a really great time. The Bodensee borders Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, and tons of small, quaint towns surround it. What I continue to adore about Europe is the towns and all of the small shops that you can find. I also love the many fruit and vegetable stands, the multitude of delicious bakeries, and how everything is so close.
Sophia and I visited Marie, who hails from Quebec City, and who is currently working in Immenstaad, a beautiful small town on the Bodensee. It was great seeing her again. The three of us walked through towns all afternoon and then eventually made it to Meersburg. We had a delightful supper of smoked fish and an apple wine (which I enjoyed in an old man glass). I also found some cinnamon ice cream, which was beyond yummy, and which I scarfed down in no time. We finished the night off back in Immenstaad, at the pub where apparently all the young people go, over a Wein Schorle, watching the soccer game between Ukraine and Switzerland. We talked, laughed, and basically did the whole "be merry" thing justice.
The next day, Marie had to work, so Sophia and I headed to Konstanz, a beautiful town very close to Switzerland. We biked to Meersburg then took the ferry from Meersburg to Konstanz, our bikes in tow. We explored the city a little, but once we stumbled upon the lavish church, it was hard to really see much more. We spent quite a bit of time in the old church, and I took quite a few pictures. We then wandered around the streets for a bit, poked our heads into some funky shops, bought a pretzel, and then it was time to head back. The Bodensee is really very beautiful, and I would recommend it to anyone for a summer place to vacation or visit.

We spoke French the entire weekend, as Marie is francophone, and Sophia grew up with both languages. It was so strange speaking French, considering the last month, I have been training myself to think, react, and talk in German. Suddenly, pulling out this language again caused a whirlwind of three languages in my head, and now I have to wonder how Mom does it so (seemingly) effortlessly.

What I have been thinking:

Ah, the people, the people... it is strange the way people party here. When I was at the big Rosshaupten's 800th anniversary concert, it seemed like no one was really letting go. Everyone seemed stiff, and it seemed like they were constantly aware of how they were being perceived by others. When I was talking to the Peru guy who works at the cafe with the piano, he also said that he felt that Germans could be very cold and not really the party type. I can almost agree. Even the way the people danced at the concert was strange. The dancing reminded me a lot of dancing that you see in movies of the 70s and 80s, except without the girls shrieking. Their dancing was more of a funny sway.

Kathleen, a 20-year old girl whom I work with, asked me a while ago whether or not I had a boyfriend. After telling her so and talking a bit, I asked her whether or not she had a boyfriend. She said yes, his name was Matthias, and she had met him in a bar. She said this very offhandedly in an uninterested voice. I thought she was going to elaborate, but she said that there wasn't much more to say. When I asked her why she seemed so uninterested in talking about him, she just said, "Oh, well, my other boyfriend was a lot better."


It only makes sense to me that one improves with relationships as time goes on. Usually, all previous relationships were not as good as the next ones. You tend to improve over time, since you realize what works and what doesn't, and what kind of person really fits you. Why would you even be with that person if you think that the boyfriend before was better? Wouldn't you aim to find someone even better?

When I asked her what happened to the alleged "better boyfriend", she kind of smirked shyly and said that she had cheated on him, so he dumped her.

Well then.

On a completely different note, it seems as though our hotel is not mainly for old, rich people. Our old, rich people season is coming to an end. We've been having a lot of families and younger couples (but still not many in their twenties). Apparently, there really is an old people season -- springtime tends to be the time that retired people come, and usually when summer hits, the young families come out (only on weekends for now, until the kids get off school, which is later here).

Word of the summer: Random

Sophia, Heather, and I have decided that this word describes perfectly our summer in Germany.
Shops seem to close whenever they feel like it.
There are always random holidays.
Sometimes you should tip, and sometimes you shouldn't.
The bus after 6 pm doesn't come unless you call for it an hour before.
No one here ever seems to know what days they have off (I'm the exception, fortunately).
The bus fares will change.
Sometimes you can ride trains or ferries for free (no one checks), sometimes you can't.

And there are many more little, strange things that don't seem to have a pattern or an order to it. Thank goodness that the trains are one thing that seem to stick to a schedule. Too bad that I have decided to give up my watch for... forever.

One last remark for today -- it is impossible to really "get away" in Germany. Everywhere you look, there are people and houses. Sure, I live in the country, and it's not like it is busy and bustling with people all the time, but anywhere in nature that you go, you are bound to come across other people. Whether you are hiking, swimming, walking in the forest, you are not alone. On the flip side, you can go to so many places in Canada and really be the only one there. Northern BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, and the territories -- you can always be alone there. You can look around you, and you will see no one, absolutely no sign of anyone. That is impossible here. Everywhere you look, there is some evidence of humans. So, what is better? Being able to virtually walk and bike everywhere and have everything within reach or being able to really get away from everything? Or rather, always having people around you or having to drive two hours just to get a glance of civilization?

Ah, Canada...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Quite Random Remarks

There is chocolate cereal here. Now, I know you are thinking of Cocoa Puffs but don't -- this stuff is nothing like that and is referred to as Chocolate Muesli, and goodness gracious, is it ever delicious. It has different sized flakes (like Muesli cereal) which are a golden and chocolate colour, and then -- here's the kicker -- there are actually thin, little pieces of chocolate floating around! For the first week, I was eating this cereal, all the while thinking to myself how amazing it was, before it really occurred to me that it was chocolate. Actually, I didn't know what it was until I asked someone, and they told me it was Chocolate Muesli. You can imagine my elation.

Shops here close for lunch. Nearly all stores close from noon until 2 pm. So, instead of stores working around your schedule, you must work around the shop's schedule. Labour laws here are stricter and much more in effect than in Canada. People also work less days, as there are more holidays and less long hours. A good thing? For you to decide.

The hotel I am working at just finished its renovations, so there are now nearly double the amount of rooms. They are getting another girl from Rosshaupten on July 1st, so everyone is holding their breath for that. We've been working very hard since the opening, but now we are getting a breather. Although, I really can't complain about last week, since Trink Geld (tips) was in slight abundance in the rooms, as well as a bar of chocolate.

Sophia, Heather, and I hitchhiked to Austria on Monday. Sophia and Heather are both in the area; Heather lives in Füssen and works in a restaurant in a nearby village. We were biking, and the idea of hitchhiking to the nearest Austrian town suddenly popped into my head. I yelled out "Stop!" to tell the other two behind me to stop, so as we don't crash into each other. We stopped, and I told them about my idea. They thought it a little outlandish, but we decided to give it a go. We locked up our bikes against a nearby tree (just off the bike path), and we walked to the side of the road. We were all nervous but excited. I said I didn't want to stick out my thumb. They said that they had no problem doing that, as long as I did all the talking to the driver. I said that I had no problem doing that. After all, I am beginning to feel much more comfortable speaking in German.
We were surprised that after fifteen minutes, we were still waiting for a ride. Shouldn't it be easy for three attractive girls to get a ride? However, we did see a lot of full cars, and it's more difficult to pick out three people instead of just one or two.
Just as we were beginning to lose hope, a man in a shiny black Mercedes stopped. He looked like a business man, and the inside of his car was all fancy and covered in leather. He even had an auto-map thing installed in his car! We were all very impressed. He first thought we were from London, but then I explained that we were Canadians, working in Germany for the summer and wanting to see the area. I told him how much we loved the beautiful, Alps-filled area here.
Reutte, the town that he brought us to in Austria, isn't, in my opinon, as pretty and quaint as Füssen, but it looked like it was ladened with breathtaking hiking trails. We walked around the town, visited shops, and we vowed we would be back on a cooler day for the hiking. We then bought ice cream, which induced nearly an hour of silly laughs and giggles. We hitchhiked back in a cool car (don't know the make) with two guys playing loud music. It was a great day.

Something we did learn was that chicks, as we have been calling them, due to Sophia's influence, never even look twice at hitchhikers, and we doubt we will never be picked up by one of them.