Canadian Down Under

Monday, August 29, 2005

Two down and one to go

Weeks that is.... God, I feel like I've been away forever!

So, it's been interesting. So far home has had it's share of catastrophes: a tornado followed by sewage flooding my mother's basement and destroying a lot of the stuff I have stored here.... then the dock at the cottage breaking away and floating around the lake with the boat still tied to it... then a scare about the dog's health (Momma's boy started shaking uncontrollably). When that happened all I could think about was "Oh my God, if this dog dies, Mom will be a mess....

But no, instead it turned out the good ol' Momma's boy was just afraid.... terribly afraid. Probably rightly so, but I still made fun of him anyway.

See, the next morning after the shaking incident, my brother woke me and the girls (his girlfriend's kids) really early, telling us to be quiet but to follow him. And lo and behold outside the back door, going through the garbage, was this beautiful black bear. I've never seen one so close and it was gorgeous! Well, gorgeous because there was solid walls and thick windows between us.... But what a treat for two teenage girls visiting from England ... ok - and for me.

Life's been good so far - catching up with old friends, spending time with family, teaching the girls how to waterski (I love the water - but man! I have never spent so much time in the lake!) All worth it though to see how happy they were once they mastered getting up on skis - quite fun really.

My romantic/dirty weekend turned into one night of romance followed by a night of tending to the sick (him, not me). That's certainly one way of surviving a weekend you want out of.... Nah, I'm only kidding. It was good - a shame he got sick though. No life long connection there, so it would have been nice for two romantic evenings instead of a night of nursing duty, but oh well, can't get everything... Did manage to get a marriage proposal though - but does it count if it comes from a random stranger on the street?

So, one more week at the cottage with my best friend and her family and then it's back home to reality. Had someone ask me what I miss about Australia while here - and despite thinking about it for a few minutes, I drew a complete blank, then finally answered 'my personal freedom'. I think the guy I was talking to thought I was fucked, but it makes total sense to me. It's funny how coming home makes you understand why you left.... Don't get me wrong, I love Canada - even went for a little drive around the neighbourhood this morning before anyone was up and I have to say - it truly is a beautiful place. The treelined streets and the greenness of it all - something I sorely miss when I'm in my Australian home. Ahhh, the beautiful Canadian north - I'm definitely going to make the most of my last week...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Welcome home"

I've decided: Canadian custom officials in Vancouver are the nicest customs officials in the world! Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little (but not really...) but how nice was it to hear that from my custom official when I arrived? Very nice indeed!!

A good start to my stopover in Vancouver - a perfect foreshadowing of the next few days. Great weather, great friends, great relatives and great food! And to sandwich it all in a nice little package - while waiting in Vancouver airport for my flight to Toronto, I not only accidentally ran into an old friend that I had lost touch with and hadn't seen in years, but I also got upgraded to Executive Class! Talk about a score! Man, do they look after you in Executive Class!! (Going to make the economy flight home a little humbling....)

So as in a slight update, somewhere on the 17 hour flight to Vancouver, the craziness that had me in it's strong grip last week lost its control and life is just fine again. My 20 year friendship is fine (thank God she has a soft spot for crazy people and a willingness to stick her neck out and call me when she read my blog...).The last few days have been a whirlwind of catching up and will continue to be until Saturday when cottage country calls.

Me, a canoe and the loons (just to be clear - I'm referring to the actual birds/ducks - not my family...) have a date Sunday morning.

That followed by an across the lake swim - can't wait!!

Can't wait.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Stop the Insanity!!!

Here's to hoping spending 24 hours on a plane makes me less crazy rather than more.... (one can always hope!)

So in less than 12 hours I'm off - and despite all my whining - I am looking forward to it. It's unlikely I'll have many days that include computer access, but when I do - I'll try to remember to check in.

Hope you're all having a great time while I'm gone!

I should be happy

Since I'm going home - supposedly to see family and friends, but all I'm doing tonight is sitting here and trying to stop myself from crying.

How pathetic is that?

I think I may just have blown up a 20 year friendship, but I just couldn't live with myself if I sucked it up one more time without saying anything. I've shopped the situation around to impartial observers - and made a real effort to present a balanced view - and so far no one thinks I'm over reacting. And even if they did - I just can't help the way I feel.

I couldn't sleep at all last night thinking about the whole stupid situation and mostly because I don't want to face the truth. What's becoming apparent to me is that I'm doing in friendships what I often doing in relationships - close my eyes and hope if I ignore it it'll get better. And what ends up happening is instead of me facing the truth and calling it a day, I wait so long that even the guy can't handle it anymore and calls it a day himself - but not before it gets ugly.

I'm so disappointed in my friends. But to tell you the truth - I'm even more disappointed in myself.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

To all you men out there

who believe that there is no such thing as too much cologne:vyou couldn't be more wrong.

When I'm walking down the street on a cool, breezy evening about 10 feet behind you and I have to cover my nose and mouth to keep from choking, I can only say one thing:


How can you not tell? Have you destroyed you olfactory senses by overdosing on cologne for the last few years? Wasn't there ever a time that you thought, "hmmm, that smells kind of strong...."? If you did, it's because it was.

But most important question of all: do you really think women find that attractive?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Here's my thing...

Now before I start, I just want to make a few things very clear: I'm not mad and I'm not upset.

Okay, now that's clear…

As some of you may already know, I'm going home for a few weeks this Saturday (yeah!!!) and although it's great and I'm very excited (couldn't you tell by the yeah?) it comes with mixed emotions. I worry about a few things like:
- I'll go home and not want to come back
- I'll go home and never want to go home again
- I'll go home and there's no place for me anymore.

The last one is the one that really seems to be bugging me at the moment. You know when I was in Biz School a bunch of students went on international exchange and had a tough time re-assimilating when they came back. They've done studies on expats and how they often miss home but then go home and find out its not what they remembered because a) they've romanticised home in their minds and or b) friends/family and their lives have moved forward - and moved forward without you.

Now I'm a little more realistic - I don't expect things to have remained unchanged, but I still find it unsettling.

So what is that I do expect? I expect people to mean what they say - and its so often not the case that it becomes disheartening, and it often takes the anticipation and fun out of planning a visit home. Some of my closest friends tell me how much they miss me and some even ask me to come home, but on days like today I want to just ask them why. Why do you want me to come home when you barely have time in your busy schedules to see me when I do come home for a visit? See, if I spend all this money and vacation time to come home and you don't have time for me - what makes you think you'd have time for me if I lived there? It makes it hard for me to believe that you really miss me. Now I know that they care about me. Truly I do know that - but that's different from actually missing me.

I guess I'm just at the stage in the expat timeline that strength of friendships get tested. And when I say I'm not mad - I really truly mean that. I do realise it's my own choice to live so far away - so I have no one to blame but myself, I'm just … just… the only words that keep coming to mind are sad and disappointed - but they aren't quite right… I'm trying not to be hurt by it and just enjoy the time they do have to spare, but I just wish that 'time to spare' wasn't the first phrase that comes to mind…

Maybe I'm too demanding (I probably am) but I think I view things differently from them. I view things differently because I'm the one who is away and coming for a visit, but I also view things different because I'm not married and don't have kids like the rest of them and therefore have fewer people to juggle in a priority listing. I'm realistic enough to know that kids and husbands come first, I just wish that when I came home it didn't feel like I was so far down the list….

Monday, August 08, 2005

"Smart men know that women will settle for whatever they get"


This was supposed to be an article about how the media's portrayal of women in Hollywood has raised men's expectations of what an acceptable female partner should look like. Indeed, how it's potentially raised expectations beyond what is realistic. Overall the article was okay, made an interesting point (showed some men to be the buffoons that they are) until the last statement:
"smart men know that women will settle for whatever they get."

Granted - it's a quote from a man they were interviewing (who hopefully remains single for the rest of his life as punishment for his unbelievable egotistical, sexist remark - or at least never gets laid again during his remaining years at university, scratch that - who never get laid again ever), but putting it at the end of the story like that suggests that the author agrees.

At first I thought the author was a man - but I just went back and checked and unless Grace has become a man's name since I last checked - it was a woman who actually wrote this.

Besides the fact that I find such a statement very offensive, it's so patently untrue. If it were - why are there so many single women out there? I mean, I'm well-educated, have a good job, shower regularly, have no obvious scars/issues/deformities of any kind that might make finding a 'mate' difficult. I've had options yet I'm still single!

Why? Because I wouldn't do what the article suggests: settle. And I'm not alone. I have plenty of smart, single, attractive female friends who would like to be with someone, but just not anyone. We all agree that 'forever' can be an eternity if spent in the wrong company.

What would have made the article more interesting is a physical description of the guy who wants an 'Angelina Jolie' type as his girlfriend. My uninformed guess would be that this guy is not the equivalent of, say a 'Brad Pitt' (I know, I know - but I'm not going there at the moment...) yet he assumes that he would be able to get and keep an Angelina Jolie. I'm sure this isn't just an isolated case, because I've seen the same behaviour in male friends of mine.

I know relationships and love have to be based on more than just the physical - and in fact have dated men that at first glance were not attractive, but on getting to know them were some of the most handsome men I've ever met - but it still plays a large part of the first pull of attraction. What I mean to say is, that while it's not everything, it still is a big thing.

It's funny, I think men see themselves (and their body image) through rose coloured glasses, yet I've seen really beautiful women critique themselves endlessly and be so unhappy with how they look. Maybe that's why ugly men think they can end up with beautiful women....

Sunday, August 07, 2005

I just cleaned up my flat

I know this may not seem like big news to most people.... but trust me, it is.


Alone in life but not lonely
Busy in life but not occupied
I wonder where I'm going and
try not to worry about the decisions I've made

Everytime you walk up to me
Everytime you tell me you care
It's so simple

It's that first kiss, not the first look
It's the first touch, not the first word
That sense of connection makes you special
but it leaves me unprotected.

Everytime you look without seeing
Everytime you do without thinking
It's just not so simple

To have let someone in without thinking
To have let someone take without asking
Why do I do it everytime?

Everytime you make me cry
Everytime it doesn't work out
I simply say not again

Alone again but now lonely
Too pre-occupied to be busy
Not much longer now I will move
forward again and try not to look back

Everytime it's supposed to be worth it
Everytime it's one step closer

My Twin?

A guy friend from home recently made a passing comment in conversation, saying that I look like her:

Robin Tunney Posted by Picasa

I think it was supposed to be a compliment, but I'm not taking it that way.

So those people out there that know what I look like - is this really my twin? (Please be kind...)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

"You've got wrinkles"

It's official: I'm old. And I am never going out again! Okay, well never going out until my ego heals or boredom drives me out....

The story?

Last weekend a friend and I caught up over dinner. We hadn't seen each other in a while so what started out as a simple dinner turned into drinks with friends later in the bar as we continued to catch up, which then turned into a full-fledged night out.

Shortly before the last entry curfew at 2 am we headed to our favourite 'end of the evening' haunt: The Boatshed. The only really good place to end a big night out. (It is such a hole, but you just gotta experience it to believe it.)

Anyway, my friend and the bouncer of the Boatshed have this ongoing argument of sorts. See, every time we go there, the bouncer just waves my friend's boyfriend in, waves me in but always stops her and asks for ID. Instead of taking it as a compliment, she takes issue with it. Seeing as she's now 30 she doesn't feel she should have to show her ID anymore. It's really a ridiculous argument, but one the two of them seem to enjoy. Usually by the time she gets in, her boyfriend and I are on our second drink - but to her it's worth it, because it's the principle of it. (?? Whatever - the logic seems to work for her.)

So last Saturday as we stroll up to the door, the two of them started their banter. Or should I say she started to assert herself and her right to enter 'uncarded'. The bouncer started to argue with her, but gave up after a couple of syllables and waved her in. Then he saw me. He asked me for ID, then laughed and waved me in as well saying I didn't need to because he could see my wrinkles.

See my wrinkles???????? Bastard.

I was pretty annoyed - I mean I'm no spring chicken and I don't get carded anymore - but I'm generally guessed to be at about 10 years younger than I am. In fact, people often comment on how I have such a young face because I have no wrinkles.

Okay, I'm sober so I'll stop going on about it. But the same can not be said for Saturday night. By the time I got down the stairs (yes the Boatshed is in the basement - first sign that the place is a Grade A hole...) I was still going on about how insulted I was that I stopped the bouncer at the bottom of the stairs and asked him if he thought I had wrinkles. The smart man that he was answered no. I proceeded to tell him why I asked and then dragged him upstairs to tell off the bouncer at the door for me.

Amazingly my friend and I are not banned. In fact, in some strange way I think we have endeared ourselves to the bouncers and in an even stranger way, I think they actually are looking forward to our return.

Men. Uggh. I think I'm developing a serious dislike for Australian men.

Friday, August 05, 2005

It's definitely not the accent

Contrary to earlier thoughts, it's definitely not my accent that's afforded me such wonderful customer service (yes, that's sarcasm). How do I know this? Well in recent weeks I've discovered I apparently no longer have an accent - a Canadian accent that is.

Before we go any further - I just gotta tell you - I find this very distressing.

A few weeks ago I was at a friends' for dinner and met a bunch of his friends for the first time. I thought the evening was going pretty well - they were all pretty funny and we were having a few drinks and laughs - there were a bunch of nationalities there so I didn't feel like odd man out for a change - until I got up to get myself a drink and from across the room, one of my friend's friend (the cute one) asked me where I was from.

How tired am I of that question????????

But before I could answer the friend then asked me where all my accents were from and how many did I have? (Huh??)

So I answered: "one for each personality".

The consensus of the party goers was that although I don't quite sounds Australian (this being the verdict of the Australians there....) I certainly don't sound Canadian. Apparently I either sound a little Irish or Dutch.


Then the last week I was in one of the local malls (actually getting my makeup done by the 'international makeup artist' at Bobbi Brown - how girlie is that???) and since I was there for a while, I got to talking to him. After about 20 minutes or so he asked me if I was from the States (a common question) to which I replied, no I was from Canada. His next question kind of surprised me though - he asked how long I'd been here - had I been here since I was a teenager.

"Nope. 2 1/2 years"

"Wow - but your accent is hardly detectable! I could have sworn you'd been here at least 10 years."

So as of last week, I still had a faint accent - albeit an American one.

Then Monday it all changed. A couple of things happened - I actually asked someone "How you going?" (instead of "How you doing?"), used the word 'reckon' in a sentence and got mistaken for an Australian.

I still sound Canadian to me, but I'm worried that when I get home I won't sound Canadian to my Canadian friends. And if that happens - I'll never hear the end of it...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

It's all about smell

Pilates class was an experience the other night - and no, I'm not going to go on and on about the drama of exercising in front of mirrors and how badly that damages my self-esteem - it was something completely different.

It was all about smell. And I'm not talking about body odour smell, I'm talking about people smell.

Okay, I admit that my usually absent olfactory senses go into overdrive if I am anywhere near getting a migraine, but this was unmistakable.

I've only ever noticed it a couple of times, but there are a breed of people out there that have a peculiar smell to them and for the life of me I can't figure out what it is. And no - it's not an ethnic or racial thing. The few people that I've noticed this about have all been 20-30 year old white females, but I can't figure out why. All I can say is: it's not good.

Don't they notice?

I know, I know - this is a very strange thing to write about - but smell is one of those things that can be really disturbing. Heavily perfumed people drive me nuts, bad breath also drives me round the bend - but those things are fixable (generally) - even bad BO can be solved with a good deodorant. But basic human scent? (or the 'natural musk' of a person as I've jokingly referred to it as…) How do you fix that? How do you tell someone theirs is bad? How do you know that yours is not?

Just one more thing to add to the list of inane things I think about…..

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

"Need to lose weight? Ask me how"

That's what the woman's button read. The woman who was trying to handle me a leaflet with a number to call. The woman who was easily 50 pounds overweight.


Why me?

I know I go on and on about eating bad food and feeling fat - but in all honesty I'm not fat. I mean I don't look anything like the skinny models that were on the catwalk in Martin Place today, but I certainly don't look like I need a flyer with a number to call for advice on how to lose weight. Handed out by a FAT PERSON!!!!!!

Bitter. I'm bitter.

Since when did curves become so taboo? It's doing my head in.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Cookie Monster is the best!

Why? Because he loves cookies! Just like me.

My top 10 favourite cookies (in reverse order in the David Letterman tradition):

10. Teddy Bears (Best dipped in a cup of hot tea)

9. Gingersnaps (especially if you can get them chewy hard as opposed to the usual molar-breaking hard)

8. Ginger spiced cookies (Sorry, I seem to have a ginger them going here at the moment, but you know the thin ones shaped like windmills? Also great dipped in tea...)

7. Farm Bake orange flavoured chocolate chip cookies.

6. Chocolate Covered Digestives (eating some now as we speak..)

5. Mint Slice (They're chocolate covered - what can I say - I love chocolate mint anything....)

4. Oreos (No top 10 cookie list is complete without these beauties..)

3. Chocolate Covered HobNobs (Chocolate. Oatmeal. Need I say more?)

2. Kahlua Slice (Chocolate and KAHLUA!!!! Heaven in a box!! I did mention KAHLUA right?)

And the best of the fattening lot?

1. Dad's Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies - the only ones I can't get in Australia.... which is probably why I've discovered the other nine....

What d'ya mean money doesn't grow on trees?

Wish someone had told me that a few days ago......

I've made a concerted effort to not compile a list of things I don't like about living here because it's always best to focus on the positive and I don't want to give any family or friends ammunition in the argument to move home - but I may have to anyway.... Though the list will be pretty short. Okay - only one thing: it's sooooooooooo expensive here.

I will admit to have been splurging a little bit lately (holiday mode spending habits starting early....and I may not have needed a spa visit, but the mp3 player was a must!) so I've created some of my own problems, but the $100 for the locksmith last night was unplanned and the $300 for the dentist for a cleaning (a cleaning!!!!) was completely unexpected. It put me on a rant this morning that I still haven't completely recovered from.

You know - I keep hearing stuff like "Well Sydney is a big city and it's expensive to live in big cities..." but I have to say Toronto is bigger so that logic is flawed.... The big differences I've noticed? (or at least the ones that really bug me...)
  • Car insurance. Here you have to buy two types of car insurance. Which, funny enough, amounts to twice as much in total cost. Go figure
  • Admin stuff like drivers licenses cost at a minimum 3 times as much. (1 year license $60 dollars, whereas in Toronto, if I remember correctly, $50 for 5 years!)
  • Phone bills. Basic line rental - at a minimum $35 dollars. Comparable? Okay I'll give you that but then local calls are billed on top of that. So tell me - what is the line rental for?
  • The other kicker is utility bills. I probably use the same amount of electricity - but I don't have to pay for heating (yes, I have a heater, but I refuse to turn it on...) yet I pay about the same amount as back home where it drops to -30.
  • Don't even start me on the rents.....

Sigh. Good thing I have a good job...

Thanks for listening, I needed to get that out.

Monday, August 01, 2005

What is $100 worth to you?

Apparently less than 30 seconds of a locksmith's time....

Yup, I'm an idiot. And you know - I've been extra careful the last few weeks because I've had this niggling feeling about locking myself out. I usually do it about once a year on average and I think it's been about 10 months since my last lock out. Unfortunately for me this time - I had no flatmate to call to let me in.

Luckily though, my neighbour was home and she not only let me use her phone but she gave me a glass of wine and kept me company while waiting for the locksmith to arrive. Nice.

Ended up being a pretty expensive DVD rental. What a way to end a really restful, enjoyable long weekend!