Sunday, 4 November 2012

So I completely forgot about yesterday

How embarrassing. "I'm going to try this new format!" And then I 100% forget. Hah. Fail.

So, without further ado:

Nov. 3rd awesomeness:
-Its Sadie Hawkins day :)
- Fresh apples and cider from the apple market down the road
- Going out to a movie with Max!
- Another nice convo with Jenna and Matt
- being snuggled up in 3 blankets and Max bringing me a snack!

and Today:
- starting a new tv series
- more warm breakfast scones
- FREEZING MY BAKING was kind of the best idea ever
- like ever
- It's sunday! It's relaxed and nothing is due today!
- Getting an extra hour to sleep from daylight savings time!

Friday, 2 November 2012

New approach

So, I've been thinking quite a lot about how I should be approaching this project.

I started trying to blog everyday because 'writing every day helps', and this is true, but it isn't much help when you don't have anything new or valuable to say with your writing, and to be honest, so much of my mental faculties are going elsewhere- into things I am paying for and graded on, for example- that I don't think this blog is currently working at any value to me. Or, in fact, to any potential readers.

I also am aware that happiness is a fickle, flimsy dream for me. Sometimes I have a solid hold on it, but most days I do not. Most days I feel weighed down by boots of lethargy and a coat of feeling futile. Since happiness is very much something I am personally interested in, when I come across research and explorations on the subject I tend to read it, and in the course of doing so I recollect that mindfulness and gratitude are shown to increase happiness. So, that's what I'm going to try and do with this blog.

When I come across something interesting on which I have an opinion, I will write about it. When I have something other, that I feel is valuable to say, I will write about that. But when I don't, I'm going to take the little pieces of daily life that make it wonderful (or bearable) and I'm going to share them with you.

Happiness shared can only grow, after all.

Without further ado:

Today's Happiness:
- getting my tea at timmies (and fast!)
- a girl in line complimenting the mug my mother gave me
- it's Friday!
- a great new TV series (I just started watching an American Horror story)
- Max is home :)
- Ideas on how to make blogging everyday more realistic and useful :)
- Contracts finally signed
- The adorable smile & blush of the girl on the stairs, who clearly got a good text. What a treat to witness a little piece of love :)
- A nice convo with the roomies
- Talking to Sarah in Psych o'women class
- warm pumpkin scones

Thursday, 1 November 2012

I have read every book set in Mercedes Lackey's world of Velgarth. This is a sad, sad day, folks. It'll be at least a year until there's another one.

The horror! The horror!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Today was a Disney Date day

So I blogged over there. Halloweeny and a blurb on the Disney/ Star Wars news- go check it out!!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

I don't really have time to do this everyday. I should be writing something I intend to work with, writing everyday; an unfocused blog is rather redundant.

I'm studying for another midterm and had a busy day of baking, running, cleaning and study, and I don't have a lot of time left over for a meaningful post without detrimentally affecting my studies. That's a compromise I can't make right now.

Bad blogger.

I guess this is why a lot of them don't do this every day...

I'm sorry. I'll try to be better.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Look what I made!

Like the excellent student that I am, I'm busy typing up a chapter summary (one of half of this sentence is stretching the truth and I wouldn't lie to you about summarizing chapters...)

Academic excellence aside, when we got home today Max suggested we take a walk, which I LOVE doing. I would have been a good dog, aside from the whole 'medium to strong aversion to people' thing. In any case, we went for a meander, and along the way I picked up some leaves. And this is what happened to them! Can you say identity crisis?
A rose by any other name...
Since I need to throw myself back in the textbook, this is all you get. But isn't it cool??

The DIY I used is here, in case you want to replicate these awe inspiring results. Seriously though, I am as artistically inclined as your average cat is inclined to waltz in the rain, and this took me maybe 2 minutes. Kinda fun! 

Sunday, 28 October 2012

I'm pretty sure that this is how Universities should court potential students. Just saying.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Max showing me his hometown

Otherwise known as, ok google maps, this is really cool.

What you're looking at is a quick screen pic of Max's hometown. He spent a good 20 minutes showing me his streets, his friends houses, his haunts (when we go we have to go eat fries here... and this was our Chinese food place!), his 12 km bike ride to school (that was a lot of clicking to get through! It takes a long time even on google!) and the school itself. He even got adorably lost. Aww.

While I'm sure you know that google maps is awesome, I think for me this was something wonderful and new. I love being able to picture Max's life before he moved here a little bit better- and never in the history of the world have we been able to explore someone else's world so well, in spite of it being an ocean away.

Essentially, in the middle of my day, I took a quick detour to Holland.

You go, google maps.

I know there are a  lot of pro's and cons- its certainly creepy how much you can see (Max also showed me the trailer he and his dad lived in for a while in Whitehorse, and you can scroll right up and count the nails on the door if you so wish) and it's some interesting murky ground with google street view being used to catch criminals, for example.  Google is seriously everywhere. There's even some cool art projects using google street view. I know there's also someone out there who is putting up representations of people caught by the satellite image in the real life location their picture is immortalized in, but I couldn't find a link to that with a quick (google!) search.

Max and I have encountered a streetview camera twice, and even waved at the google car and giant camera driving in our neighbourhood downtown Halifax this summer. To the degree that its alarming how google really does seem to be everywhere, I also use it probably every single day, so my suspicious nature is somewhat mitigated by how freaking handy is. Plus, a lot of the stuff they do is pretty cool, like the driverless car, the glasses, even the inside of their data centers. The only thing I can complain about is them hating on my Canadian spelling.

All that said, I don't use it as my default browser- I actually use ecosia, because it seems like a pretty painless way to potentially do some good.  Yet I still manage to use google every day. Well, it's for awesome stuff like this. If it's on the internet, it seems like google is making it as accessible as possible- from research to books to using an image search to source a picture you share (which we all do, right? Because not sourcing is not cool, right?!). Something like streetview is also, obviously, super useful- great to get a look at where you need to go, and Max and I used it to check out neighbourhoods when we were looking for a place. But for an emotional trip like this, where I got to look at the places behind 17 years of Max's stories, really felt like another level. I felt like I was taking a walk through a piece of his childhood, and since I probably won't be able to actually visit his home with him until after we're married, it was a pretty amazing treat to share. To snuggle up next to him and take a walk through Holland.

The internet it turning into a pretty amazing place.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hi guys. Today I have 9 hours of class and 1.5 hours of midterm, so, I'm mentally absent. Apologies. So instead of one of the deeply meaningful and heartfelt blurbs to which you have become accustomed (that's sarcasm, folks) I leave you with an actually deep and meaningful post... written by one John Scalzi, proprietor over at Whatever. If you've ever wanted to see an example of a blogger who blogs every day and does it right, folks, this is it.

Warning: the post I've linked to is triggering.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Today's post: Fun times with Jezebel and Tumblr. 

I love both websites. I do. I'm a tumblr addict. But just because you love someone doesn't mean that they don't sometimes spew something out that you don't agree with.

This is what happens when that happens.

Original Article here

I know this isn’t “for me” because it’s from jezebel, but it still got me riled up. 
Point one: Maybe you should tell someone who is annoying that you’re just not interested instead of putting up with it every day.
Point two: Maybe if you’re thinking about work every time you’re on coffee break, you’re a workaholic.
Point three: Okay, I won’t do nice things for or try to chat up attractive girls in an attempt to beat back my social anxiety and see if they’re interested in me because they might be sick of people like me and I’ll just stay lonely for the rest of my 30 useful years on this Goddamned planet.
Women: concerned for our safety
This Guy: your complaining about your safety is making my dating life difficult!!!!! 

Point one: Maybe you should tell someone who is annoying that you’re just not interested instead of putting up with it every day.

Re: point one.
It appears to me, my good sir, that you have not in fact bothered to read the article before critiquing it with your precious opinions. Had you so bothered, you would have found that our protagonist does in fact object to his harassers. In fact, he does so many times, and takes his actions further by expelling the offenders from his table. Never the less, ranting about this minute detail misses the obvious point of the article, which is as titled that even “nice” can be annoying.  Do I want free coffee? Well, sure. Is the coffee proffered, or, breaking out of the extended metaphor the author is using, are the compliments, comments, or attention free? Rarely. Hardly. If ever.  You suggest that we should speak up, casually mention that some of us would prefer to be left alone even when we dare to be visible in the outside world and social situations. Well, this is us speaking up, and this is you accusing us being workaholics and making you lonely and completely, utterly, 100% missing the point. We do not “put up with someone who annoys [us] everyday”. The point is that we are not CHOOSING these interactions, and we have NO WAY of escaping them. We have NO WAY of avoiding potentially unpleasant interactions other than eschewing interactions entirely. Sometimes people like to leave their humble abodes and interact with what is, for the most part, the rest of a rather decent human race.  Some of the people who approach the cute girl on her laptop at Starbucks probably have the best of intentions and are just hoping to spark a meaningful interaction with another human being. What you’re missing here is that we have no way of knowing who is a decent human being and who is not, and making a mistake can be fatal. There’s no code for this- “Oh, he brought you a green tea with honey, thank goodness; it’s only the half fat extra espresso mocha latte that will stalk you for 3 months before raping and murdering you!” and it is not an exaggeration. You do not appear to realize that an action as simple as smiling at a stranger, something which SHOULD be a pure and simple sharing of human happiness and decency, can be dangerous. As people who may face unwanted interactions dozens of times a day and are expected to be GRATEFUL for these propositions (“Aww, I want free coffee!” “Aww, I never get whistled to in the street!” “Aww, I wish I got complimented that often!”) this situation can be exhausting and disheartening. All it takes is knowing someone who has had one bad experience to make you remember that it’s not always safe to have a stupid little conversation. And we all know someone.

Point two: Maybe if you’re thinking about work every time you’re on coffee break, you’re a workaholic.

Re: Point two. Once again I am reminded that your literary skills appear to have been malfunctioning in this circumstance. In the linked to article, our protagonist is not on a lunch break; he is in fact working. In today’s society, a computer can be used for all sorts of wonderful things, from perusing the internet to doing one’s homework to fascinating research, interacting with friends and family, or engaging in illegal activity. Many people are using this fabulous technology in their pursuit of gainful employment/ furthering their career. Isn’t this technology wonderful? I humbly present to you this alternative hypothesis:  the majority of North America is experiencing serious levels of un- or underemployment, and our hero is doing everything he can to avoid joining the unlucky who have felt the loving caress of The Corporation applied to their posterior as The Corp. downsizes and outsources to China. Rather than criticising a dedicated employee, perhaps you could praise their focus as they do their best to feed themselves and their family. Alternate hypothesis two: our hero is one of the lucky few who is truly engaged by and enjoys their work. In their coffee breaks, they like to brainstorm and hope their beverage of choice will inspire them to new creative heights.  
Even if the scenario you have suggested is completely accurate, I take issue with it here: it is not your right to criticise a stranger for some supposed problem which may or may not adversely affect them. Your comments are not helpful. Your comments are not constructive. Your comments are negative and detrimental. And your comments suggest, in light of context, that while on coffee break, anyone you may be interested in should turn off their brain and do their best to attract a complimentary interaction. I realize that where I am taking this line of thought is unlikely to be what you intended when you suggested it, but here we have an issue: I don’t feel that you have thoroughly considered the context into which you were speaking, and your ignorance, my good sir, is a huge, huge, part of the problem. It is unlikely that you would intend to offend, alarm, or annoy that cute girl at Starbucks by interrupting her from her work during your coffee break, but your lack of knowledge and foresight may lead you to do so. It is this very lack of knowledge that the article you read is attempting to help with. Sadly, you appear to have missed that entirely and instead take issue with supposed points which hardly even relate to the original post. Well, your ignorance is not a sufficient excuse for making someone feel unsafe in a public space.

Point three: Okay, I won’t do nice things for or try to chat up attractive girls in an attempt to beat back my social anxiety and see if they’re interested in me because they might be sick of people like me and I’ll just stay lonely for the rest of my 30 useful years on this Goddamned planet.

Re: Point three.  If you desire love, then it is a sad fate to spend your life alone. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone who is in need of love. But once again here you are demonstrating a lack of thought and knowledge which is concerning to me. In this aspect, I am indeed “sick of people like [you]”. There is nothing wrong with trying to engage in a positive interaction, even with the hopes of romantic entanglement ensuing. However, your flippancy in regards to ‘chatting up’ and ‘doing nice things for’ attractive girls sounds a lot like benevolent sexism to me. If she goes to Starbucks with her laptop open, headphones on, and a book in her lap, shockingly! Getting your attention may not be her goal. Her goal may be to find a safe space where she feels happy in her surroundings. Your attentions may be destroying that for her. The attention of a man is not a gift and we are not required to be thankful to have ‘earned’ it. If your attention is harmless, than why are you only interested in ‘chatting up’ and being nice to “attractive girls”? Your actions are sexualized and divisive along lines of what constitutes attraction for you. Well, she isn’t there to be eye candy and you have no right to make the assumption that she is open to a sexualized interaction, even if she is giving no signals to make you assume she is not. The onus should not be on the woman to work hard to present herself in an asexualized way. She should feel safe wherever she goes, especially a place as public as Starbucks. This is not the reality that I, as a woman, am living with, however. The reality I face is that I can be sexualized anywhere I go and I am expected to be thankful for it. And I am expected to be sorry that my negative reaction to your assumption that your attentions are welcome and that anyone who isn’t receptive to the attentions of a wholesome young man like yourself “might be a workaholic” and any number of other things but one way or another clearly has a problem is making you feel bad because you’re lonely.
Being lonely sucks. You know what sucks more? Being lonely, but being objectified by everyone who approaches you. Being lonely, but being afraid to have an interaction, because you know that if you’re assaulted or date raped you will be blamed. Not being lonely, but being expected to be grateful every time unwanted attention is diverted your way because god’s gift to woman kind is lonely, and as a woman this is clearly my fault.

I have a suggestion regarding your “30 useful years” left on this “Goddamn planet”. I suggest that you spend a chunk of them thinking your actions and assumptions through and trying to empathize with the humans you claim to want to interact with. I suggest that you take your assumptions and put them where the sun don’t shine. I suggest that you realize that posts like this ARE “for you”, even though they may originate on Jezebel, because the rights of every single human being EVER to feel safe at Starbucks is something that should concern EVERYONE, even you, ESPECIALLY you because the damage a person can do through a lack of knowledge, empathy, or understanding is absolutely astounding and there are no excuses good enough.

I suggest, if you see a pretty girl at Starbucks, you write her a note on a napkin and leave it up to her whether or not there is an interaction.
And I suggest, if you don’t see a pretty girl at Starbucks, you smile at someone anyways and still think about doing nice things such as being a decent human being because every single person, every single one, deserves the best that you can give them.

Lastly, I suggest that before you critique what was actually a great article, you fucking read it.
End rant. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Getting kinda alarmed at seeing all these things from my childhood being brought back as vintage.

Guys, it was the 90's! Your jazz era 1920's Fitzgerald love?
Your 1950's dresses?
Your 1960's music?

You can have that. That we can call vintage.

But Lisa freaking Frank?

This was the back cover of every Archie comic ever (ok, ok, only in the 90's). But if you come at me at mention Archie and Vintage in the same sentence...

I'm going to have to ask you to leave this blog.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Link Salad

Today is a busy day of groceries and household chores. Sounds exciting, amiright?

Today is our one week anniversary of writing every day. It is, so far, a LOT harder than I expected. The writing is easy; finding something to write about? Hard. Very, very hard. As you may have noticed, I've not been doing a very good job lately. So far. >.<

Also, tomorrow is a Disney Date blog day, so I probably won't post on here. You are forewarned.

Anyways, chores day. It goes give one time to think, and time to browse the internet. To that end I present you: Link salad.

Some of what I enjoyed today was this rant on Taylor Swift's Grammy:

I love Taylor Swift, I admit it. But Riese makes a valid point (actually, a few of them) and makes them in a highly entertaining way. I'm not going to stop listening to T Swift, because while I care deeply about feminist issues and am  a proud feminist I do need to let my brain turn off sometimes. In TV, Reading, Music, Art- there's a whole lot out there that I enjoy, even if I don't agree with everything they do and sometimes even if I have some serious issues with what they're doing it. But I can't boycott everything I disagree with, because that would be a lonely, sad, and deeply impractical life. I think its incredibly important to live what you believe and I work hard to do my best in that regard everyday, particularly, in my case, in regards to food. But between my food activism, social rights activism, and need to have a life, something has got to give. T Swift music it is.

I also enjoyed this review of a beloved book by Patrick Rothfuss:

A fun review to read, which gives just enough to whet your whistle without telling you anything about the story. And it is indeed a fabulous, fabulous book. Go forth and read.

On the darker side of the internet, there was this:

A series of 'in their own words' short essays from America's unemployed. As an unemployed student, and in regards to yesterdays post, they definitely hit hard and close to home for me.

And, even more devastating:

I stumbled across this blog looking at a furniture upcycle, and wow. I've almost never walked into heartbreak so innocently. Just a few days after my furniture post the family is psyched, on their way to Disney World thanks to Make A Wish, who is sponsoring their heart troubled daughter. They never make it, and the two weeks following (This happened in early October) are devastating in every sense of the word.

It hurts and it's scary to run across things like this on the internet. Something that I've always wished for was that sense of invincibility which seems to infuse so many people my age, but looking at something like this- to see the world pulled out from underneath your feet- it's almost inconceivable. When life can disappear in the blink of an eye, maybe its better to appreciate each day, to tackle it like you may never get another chance. Because every day, a lot of unsuspecting people don't get another chance.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to send some love to those I love and snuggle up to my fiance. I can't think of a better time to do it.

Monday, 22 October 2012

On Passion

I just finished watching this talk on passion and "Why You Will Fail To Have A Great Career", which is ringing especially relevant right now. I have an opportunity- for a career I'm not actually very interested in. At all.

And this is where I struggle. There are a lot of things I'm interested in doing, but not at all sure how to go about them. And not at all sure that even if I put 1000% of my effort into them, I'd be successful at them. That's a huge struggle which weighs me down pretty much every day, lately. As excited as I am to graduate, it would be just peachy keen to have an idea of what I'd like to do with my life afterwards.

So, I am in search of a passion. In every place I've ever looked, the key determinant of a happy working life is keen interest at the least, and at the most, passion. I haven't discovered anything I feel that strongly about. Heck, its not often I experience even a strong feeling. I have feelings, to be sure, but my version of excitement is less "leap around screaming and jumping up and down because my son surprised me by sneaking home from Europe" and more "Oh, HEY! Cool!" When my brother, who was supposed to be in Belgium  turned out to be at my house and jumped on my back.

My generation seems to be well divided into overachieving automatons (I kid you not, some of these people are I-M-P-R-E-S-S-I-V-E!), underachieving stoners, and those of us pulling out our hair and wondering, as I am, What The Fudge Do I Do With My Life.

I envy those of us who know, have always known, or come across a passion strong enough that they have a plan to which they are deeply committed. Really envy. To be so sure of path is an incredible strength. However, it's a strength I don't think most of us have, perhaps especially not in our early 20's.

Still. I don't feel that I have the luxury of time on my side, though I know many people would point out I don't exactly need to be stressing out about it now. Well, I am, so obviously I feel I do. To that end, I have developed (and am continuously working on) The Plan.

I have a lot of assets on my side. I am, all pretension aside, a smart and capable person. I have a strong track record, a decent history of employability, and present myself very well. (Especially, it seems, for jobs I actually have no interest in. What IS this madness.) There are 3 extremely dichotomous choices which present themselves before me now, which are:

Psychology. This is what I've majored in, and I've done enough that I'm probably capable of getting into Grad school, even a good one. I've seen enough of the rather cutthroat 'publish or perish' PhD professor world to know that that isn't for me, even though that's what I've been pushed towards. However, I've encountered a few part time prof's who publish when they want to and teach courses that they want to and in the meantime run their own practices. THAT interests me. To do research and educate the next generation on topics that especially interest me sounds dreamy, and to be involved, hands on, in bettering the lives of people is all I've ever been sure that I want to do. I have a knack for it, I have an interest in it.
However! Psych is a busy, busy field. Grad school is incredibly hard to get into and rigorous. I'm turned off by having to take the entrance exams, and I'm a bit burned out when it comes to school. Do I have the energy and the motivation to actually bother?

Commercial Real Estate. I've been offered a position at a growing firm here in Ottawa. The offices are posh, the position accommodating  the temptation of full time employment almost unbearable. I know nothing about real estate beyond the buying of our own house, which is obviously very different from commercial dealings; I know very little about Ottawa, having just moved here. I can't say for sure this is a career I would or wouldn't like. Still, the vibes I'm getting are that I wouldn't. I'm an introvert and the idea of a career centered around seducing clients and involvement in the community centered around self interest turns me off like mad. The man hiring admitted that the way to make it in the business is to be motivated by money; time and time again I've shown that I am not. Not at all.

Lastly, writing. Reading and writing are probably the most constant part of my life. I'm a rapid and voracious reader who reads anything put into my path (fiction, non fic, mystery, fantasy, sci fi, fluff, classics, kids, literature, poetry- I'll read it all and love it) and I've been writing since, well, before I could spell. (To be fair, that took me a while.) I'm a writer with a lot of potential-- something I've been told numerous times, so don't take my word for it-- but not a lot of drive. The hardest part of the writing game, I believe, is to sit down and do it. Or, to paraphrase Hemingway, to sit down and bleed. Writing offers no security and a lot of work before any potential reward. Probably 90% of those who try don't make it to publication, and of those published another merciless majority fall into oblivion. To throw myself into the whims of fate like that is, frankly, terrifying. As it is to try and sell what I write- writing is deeply, deeply personal and like many people I struggle with the potential for rejection. It may be just business, but when business is the stuff of your soul, it still tastes all too personal.

There are a plethora of other options- not to go into to much detail but I've been absolutely positively 100% sure that I was going to 1) go back to school for archaeology 2) go back to school for environmental studies 3) get into sustainable ranching. What is my life. And so, The Plan.

The Plan is thus. Part One: Graduate. This goal should be achieved by the end of December, if all goes well. Part Two: (A maybe) Get a part time job. This part is problematic because, though on paper it sure looks like I should, I don't seem to have a lot of extra time. I don't know where it goes. It just goes. Also, I'm going back to BC for 20 days over the Christmas Holidays and a break that size is a fairly serious no no for a part time job. So its likely I'd have to quit anything I found anyways. Ergo, ugh. Part Three: Continue on in and get really good at the Social CHARM lab. CHARM, by the way, stands for Change and Alternative Research Methods. It's merely a bonus that we're socially charming. In any case, by fluke happenstance I am in, and if psych is to be the thing than this is the best thing I could do for myself in regards to getting into and handling Grad School. So. Continue my work in the Social CHARM lab. Part Four: Score an internship with the Green Party. I have an in, at least in that I know who to contact. Hopefully if I pour my soul into an application they'll take my free labour, even though I know nothing about public administration and almost nothing about green legislation. It's a struggle. And Part Five: Write here everyday, thereby working on my get up and do it abilities, my writing, and hopefully doing a whole lot better job than I have done recently (otherwise there isn't that much point, is there?). This I plan to do alongside doing a fabulous job of the 50 Disney Dates blog, which I think is an awesome idea and is so fun to do but also sucks up an unbelievable amount of time. Mostly in pictures, and that I have no idea how to make the internet do what I want it to do, so I have a lot of learning to do when it comes to how design and how to man handle the internet.

This is The Plan. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

People moving in today! Making a rather gigantic dinner for all!
Snowing at home and buying tickets back to BC for Christmas!
Have pumpkins on the doorstep!

Yesterday was a Disney Date day, which as always was great. We have some *really* cool stuff coming up that I'm super excited about- glad we live in a city, for this one! Wouldn't have happened at home.

But there's a lot of homework to do here and dinner shall not cook itself, so this is all you get for today.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Life’s Instructions

Edited by Sarah & Max
  1. Have a firm handshake. We agree; we both do. Bravo, us. 
  2. Look people in the eye. We both do. M: "Probably a little to long sometimes." Its true. My creepy man. 
  3. Sing in the shower. We actually don't do this often. Because we often shower together. Hey, saves water, right? 
  4. Own a great stereo system. *both turn to look at our cardboard stereo equipment* M: "Well, I think it's great...." (This is a lie. Its terrible. However, we both own nice headphones, which more than makes up for that. 
  5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard. S: Well, that's not very nice. M: *play punches S* 
  6. Keep secrets. Whether we do or not will have to be a secret. 
  7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday. 
  8. Always accept an outstretched hand. 
  9. Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. I like how this was said in We Bought a zoo: All you need is 20 seconds of incredible, insane, stupid bravery. 
  10. Whistle. We do, though S more often than M. My grandmother had a beautiful whistle, like a bird. She would whistle instead of sing. 
  11. Avoid sarcastic remarks. M: *Laughs* 
  12. Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery. M: *puts his arm around me* I choose misery! 
  13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out. This reminds me of this
  14. Lend only those books you never care to see again. Oh, so sad and so true. 
  15. Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have. 
  16. When playing games with children, let them win. We disagree. Because if you follow rule 16....  rule 22 and 23 can suffer. 
  17. Give people a second chance, but not a third. S: "Hah! So, in direct contrast to rule 7, then?"
  18. Be romantic. *snuggle up to each other* 
  19. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know. M: *laughs* "Sorry, lover, that's never going to happen to you!" Its sad, but its true.. 
  20. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems.
  21. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for our convenience, not the caller’s.
  22. Be a good loser.
  23. Be a good winner.
  24. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret. Because rule 6. 
  25. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
  26. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.
  27. Keep it simple. So don't have 50 rules when you could have 5. 
  28. Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.
  29. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
  30. Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets But do live it! Mistakes are part of life, and its the biggest mistake of them all to make none by doing nothing! 
  31. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did. Also, pretend you have more energy than you do. Most of the things I regret not doing I didn't do just because I didn't feel like getting up and going... 
  32. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them. I love you. 
  33. Remember no one makes it alone. Have a grateful heart and be quick to acknowledge those who helped you. And keep in mind that it someone didn't make it, it's most often NOT their fault. 
  34. Take charge of your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose it for you.
  35. Visit friends and relatives when they are in hospital; you need only stay a few minutes.
  36. Begin each day with some of your favorite music. Ooh, I like this idea. 
  37. Once in a while, take the scenic route. But if you take it all the time, be sure you have enough time! And maybe buy a bicycle. 
  38. Send a lot of Valentine cards. Sign them, ‘Someone who thinks you’re terrific.’ 
  39. Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice. People actually report that a phone call was a more positive experience if you smile while you talk. In other words, people can 'hear' your smile. 
  40. Keep a note pad and pencil on your bed-side table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m.
  41. Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job. Or, you know, give everyone everywhere the benefit of basic human decency. Work shouldn't define respect. 
  42. Send your loved ones flowers. Think of a reason later. 
  43. Make someone’s day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you. Also reminds me of pouring it forward. It's true, though. This can make your day and their day. 
  44. Become someone’s hero.
  45. Marry only for love. Or don't marry, if you don't want to. Or protest like heck for the right of everyone who is in love to marry. 
  46. Count your blessings.
  47. Compliment the meal when you’re a guest in someone’s home. Let's extend this to have basic manners, always. 
  48. Wave at the children on a school bus.
  49. Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people. Yeah, no. In jobs centered around people, sure. But not that much so in all jobs. Calm down. 
  50. Don’t expect life to be fair.

Friday, 19 October 2012

I live in a land of nice people.

I am of course quite aware that as Canadians, we have that stereotype. But some days, people really go above and beyond in little ways which makes me just so grateful and rather proud to belong to a generally really great group of people.

Today, for example, I had to go to the cafeteria to get a fork. I have 9 hours of class today and nary a lunch break between them, so I have leftovers from home. But because I also have a brain which functions at best minimally until, oh, noon, I managed to forget this AM that I will require not only food but utensils, so long as I want to be allowed to eat in civilized company, at least. I'm pretty sure my class on Culture won't especially appreciate me scooping up pasta with my hands, beyond a few points for irony. And so. To the caf for forks I went.

However, there proved a kink in my plan. Forks are available for 11 cents a pop, and I wasn't especially keen on digging around for 11 cents, so I said 'nevermind then' and began planning a non offensive spearing pasta with a highlighter plan when the maintenance man offered to spot me the 11 cents. Rather than inconvenience him, the cafeteria offered to just spot me the fork. And so, in a very civilized way my civilized lunch was assured.

Admittedly, 11 cents isn't (to most) a very big deal. But the gesture, oh, that goes a lot farther than 11 cents, and I appreciate every penny.

I also live in a country where I've gotten free cupcakes, people regularly hold open doors, and on my campus you can't look at a map for more than 1 minute without someone practically running up and begging you to let them help you. Little things, a lot of the time, and to be sure we still have rude people. But a lot of the time, I live in a country where the people are deeply nice.

It's a deeply nice way to live.

If you're looking for a near daily dose of a little niceness (or in most cases, a whole lot of niceness), I do suggest taking a peek at this website. Some days it'll do more for your mood than that cup of coffee.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Happy Thursday, folks.

Highlights of today: Job interview (I can have it, if I want it; ensue the 'what the fudge do I want to do with my life' crisis); lovely little internet videos (Like this one or this one); cold water from my decanter (primarily because I enjoy the word decanter and it makes me feel sophisticated to own own. It makes me feel significantly less sophisticated to confess this, but hey). Making apple dumplings again (the recipe here, it's a good one!!) and a walk in the sunshine with the one I love.

I need to clean the house in prep for the two lovely ladies moving in this weekend. How interesting to be the renter rather than the rentee. I must admit, the money side of it is a lot more fun this way- but then, the bills are significantly more complex on this side of the fence, too.

In other news, Max and I have started a joint account. Real adulthood approaching....

Tomorrow is a busy busy day. 9 hours of classes and a lab (the Social CHARM lab, more on that later) social, which I am tentatively looking forwards to. They seem like very interesting, good people and I felt comfortable among them instantly, which is ever so rare, for me. And a bit odd considering that one of them is currently a professor of mine.

Still feeling pretty scattered. But hey, I found the tea steeper! I also re-realized I'd lost one of my favourite pairs of pants, which is a tragedy. Minor, but tragic. At least I can stir and steep my tea, the better with which to drown my woes.

Hopefully later tonight my day will be topped off with a Disney movie and watching the JK Rowling interview on the Daily Show. I love me some Jon Stewart AND some JK Rowling, so this is a winning situation for me!

Here's hoping your days were filled with little good things, as well.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

I owe you all a post about Chicago, I know.

In the mean time I'm busy being a terrible writer.

It's important to write every day, they say. Well, I have to admit I actually feel guilty writing about nothing. Why should someone take any time out of their busy day to come purview my little chat to myself about nothing? I do enjoy the daily or weekly blurbs of a lot of bloggers, but then, most of them have something to say, to show. I? I have a mild obsession with getting some much needed furniture from IKEA and a middling level panic about homework and biting off more than I can chew.

I even have interesting thoughts- there was an engaging Presidential Debate, which I could tackle with glee; I could riff on how sad it is that Canadians get much more interested in American politics than our own, myself included most of the time; I could tell you about the movies I watched recently (Carrie, on a whim and because I felt it was time to introduce myself to some classic creepiness, and Argo, which was a wonderful movie for many reasons). I could tell you about the lab I joined today, entirely by chance, and what a chance! And I will tell you about that, later, because it is entirely possible that a well timed meeting today has changed the course of my entire future, and it’s not very often that one can pin point those changing moments while they're actually happening and it's interesting and exciting.

However, at the moment I am interested in my cold feet and hot chocolate, and how very much I have to do before this weekend, which is oh so rapidly approaching. And so I apologize for my blather- I wrestled for quite a while before deciding to post at all (Is it more important to write every day, as a manner of practice and self discipline, or to write about something one genuinely finds interesting, which suggests at least one person of the billions out there may find it interesting as well? In other words, is this blog a space for me, or a space intended for public use?). The thing is, if it's for me (which, judging by my decision today, it is) then why am I making it public? A blog, as an online diary, has very little mass appeal- and I am interested, hopefully and tentativey, in using blogging as a tool to enhance a career as a writer. In which case, I jepordize myself by choosing to make this public.

Yet I do. Because I have told myself that it's important to blog every day- write every day- and I've tried doing it in a diary for many years, and I simply don't. I can't find a pen, I think so much faster than I write, I never look at them again. I do look at these again. I care very much about these. And I type faster than I write.

So here I am. Probably making about as much noise on cyberspace as the eponymous unwatched tree does as it falls in the woods. Nevertheless, concerned.

If I do keep it up, and I do someday make it, I hope you can forgive me, world. At least you'll know why I did it.

It's because I'm trying!


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

I am living in a state of mental war.

Perhaps it has to do with having been 'in transit' for the past, oh, six months. Not having a home or knowing you're only going to be living somewhere for a few months doesn't encourage unpacking (at least, not when you're as disenclined to pull out a bajillion boxes and later have to labour over a precise repacking war when instead you could spend the summer wearing about 10 days worth of clothes many. times. over) but now that we ARE here, and settled, I'm noticing just how frazzled I am.

And its insane.

My brain is all over the place. I honestly can't recall it being this helter skelter before; but considering the state of my recall capacities I'm having doubts about that, too! Argh. I'm trying to focus, but there's so much that still seems to be going on, every time I sit down and think alright, done that, now what should I do? There's 5 different options from 10 different things that all need doing and I get overwhelmed instantly. Or frustrated. That one, too.

In large, large part, this is because whenever I go to DO something, it's so much more o struggle than I'm used to. For example right now I'd like to pay my bills. (On a side note- I am sitting at MY table, with my glasses on and a cuppa, with MY mail at MY house about to pay bills addressed to me. Though I am in a huff about what a fuss it's being, I am incredibly appreciative about the whole thing and rather chuffed with myself. What an adult. Or, I would be, if only I could do this WHITHOUT getting frazzled enough to blog about it...) In any case, bills to pay. Ok, fine. I can do that. I have envelopes (a pack of 20) and stamps (a pack of $50). The problem? I've just spent twenty minutes looking for EITHER and finding traces of NEITHER. I know I have them with me; I used them in Halifax and they were put in the car from there. I remember packing the stamps with an elastic around them and tucking them away. I'm pretty sure I used them on postcards from here! So, where the heck are they?!

I got huffy enough over the stamps that I decided to make myself a cup of tea. I love tea. I have very nice tea. I decided on a cup of loose leaf tea, for a change from the hot chai I've been drinking. Alright, lovely. I know that I have a stirrer, a tea mixer which clamps the loose leaf in and steeps it while stirring. Only, I can't find it.

I DID find the mesh for my hot tea mug- which just reminded me that I now have absolutely no idea where the hot tea mug is. Just. Freaking. Fabulous.

I'm getting pretty upset by the cumulative loss over the summer. It wouldn't be so bad, but most of the things I seem to be losing are either valuable ($50 bucks woth of stamps!) or sentimental (My tea stirrer I bought on the trip to Halifax, in Maine, and I cant really pop over an replace it- plus I havent even USED it yet!! And the hot tea mug was a Christmas gift from a dear friend) or BOTH (for example I've also lost a drapey sweater, which I loved, and bought from a designer who lives in 100 Mile- near my home town- and was made of bamboo, so it was rather expensive AND I loved it so dfnsaijgadfughdajk, drapey sweater, come home.)

And so. There are big things I have to focus on- the bills do need paid and that's pretty important! But so is school, and looking for work, and deciding what the heck I want to do- do I go back to school? What for? And on top of my classes and job interviews which I'm not even sure I want we have renters who I have to keep some mental track of; tell so and so this or remind so and so that oh and we need to buy a bedside table for this room; oh and I need to buy baking canisters because the plastic bag pile is not ok and how should I label them, masking tape? No I dont want to buy just for that; oh that green painters tape. Oh, we still need to paint. We still need to do that whole office. I wonder if we'll ever get a bedroom door? Oh crap, where IS that book? I need to have it read by Friday...

Welcome to my brain. It isn't pretty, folks. Not at all.

Whew. Ranting aside, I am generally happy with my brain- it's gotten me though life so far, and my life has been decently interesting. I'm just not used to it not... remembering things for me. I have lists all over the place (Oh crap, I need to make a grocery list for today!!) and I'm forgetting where the lists are. You know. That level of madness. How to people ever survive having kids?! I can harldy keep track of me!!

Alright. It's time to get down to business and make me some categorized (and digital; my to do lists are probably my most profuse waste of paper. Not even kidding!) To Do lists; go pick up my fabulous fiance (off topic- that's how I'm saved in his phone. In his last phone I was Goddess to whom I owe fealthy forever and ever (not his idea, hehehe) but in this one I'm fabulous fiancee. Awww!) maybe indulge in a loop around our local man made lake and get cracking.

Its too easy to get distracted, that the problem. Curse you, internet. I love you so.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Day 4 & 5: Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Illinois

Day Four: Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota

Mom and I had decided that we’d like to at least get into Wyoming by the end of our third day. But after all those close encounters of the potential roadkill kind, we’d reluctantly given up that dream. So imagine our surprise when, not 5 minutes down the road from our campsite, we hit the Welcome to Wyoming! Sign. It figures! We hopped out and took a few pictures (sneakily turning around and getting the welcome to Montana sign as well. At that point we were still hoping to get all the sign’s, but I’m here to tell you, after two long distance road trips (BC to Louisiana and BC to Halifax) its just not possible. They don’t put the welcome to..... signs on the interstates that often, and when they do, its often on a bridge or something. And the interstate is not exactly designed for stopping! Still, its nice to get the signs when you can. So we were welcomed to Wyoming early in the morning and rolled on into South Dakota within half an hour! (We were on highway 12, which only just barely dips down into Wyoming). South Dakota probably felt like the longest day. We had a great morning- we drove through the ‘black hills’, so called for the dark look hordes of pine trees gives the hills around the park (apparently somewhat of a novelty to Americans? I have to say it was a pretty familiar sight to me!), through deadwood, a frontier type town which is beautiful and was and is famous for gambling; and finally, excitingly, to our morning treat: Mt. Rushmore. Here is where our map first failed us. (The remainder of wrong turns include varying levels of human error. The levels and which human erred is debated J) According to our map, Mt Rushmore was a mere 10 km or so off of the road we were on, but it was also important to note that said road splits, and a wrong turn would take us to a cute little town- but away from mt Rushmore. Well, we followed the signs, gleefully eyeing the dwindling numbers on the “to Mt Rushmore” signs, when suddenly- whats this?!? We were in the middle of Hill City, the aforementioned town. Well, after some on-the-road deliberation we decided to turn around. We were reluctant to trace our steps but according to the map it’d take a great deal longer to get back to Mt Rushmore on the road we were going. So, we turned around, re routed, and made it to the mountain!
Mt Rushmore was a bit of a surprise in that there was NO mountain around until you’re pretty much right there. The entire time we spent in South Dakota we were wondering how they carved this mountain monument out of what’s mostly a pretty flat state, but in the right spot in the black hills, there are indeed some mountains. Still, the monument was a lot smaller than expected, and neither the artist or the landscape look anything like how Disney portrays them in Aladdin’s magic carpet ride (ß Sarah’s idea of a professional reference. You can thank my university education, folks!). Still, it was hugely impressive. The detail and look is fantastic; it was a wonderful tiny hike (just nice to get out of the car!); and in spite of the fact we recognized only 2 out of 4 featured men (they have signs up along the way to aid the undereducated and remedy that problem) it was something we enjoyed a lot. I actually particularly enjoyed the walk up to the monument- the very American pillars and flags.

On all of the pillars is carved the name of a state and which number it is, by year of joining- something I actually found pretty cool.

Anyway, we had our half hour walk and hopped back in the boiling car. We trundled on out, admiring the side view of the mountain, and the scattered lakes, contemplated going swimming, and popped back out—wait, What!?! Popped right back out in Hill City, about 2 minutes farther along than when we had turned around. After a few minutes of being flabbergasted at the map, we retraced our steps for the third and final time (thank goodness!) and hit the interstate, getting down to the serious business of getting places.

My notes on driving in South Dakota: Its hot, yo. Way hot. Early on a friend asked us if we had A/C and we kind of smiled and said yes (we did, thank goodness) and she was like good cause you’re going to need it and we were like pheh, (this was back in Canada, where in May it still snows sometimes, like how it did the week I left..) sure we will. Well: You will. You really, really will. You may want 2 or 3 sets of A/C, in fact. Because there is no relief.  At one point, both of us wiped out from a few hot hours on the road, we pulled over at a windy windy rest stop to get some relief. Well, no such luck. It was just as piping hot outside in the wind, which is something, as a northerner, I had a realllllly hard time wrapping my head around.  2) Holy guacamole bugs mania. My poor windshield. 3) yay high interstate speed limit! Highest we saw, in fact, at a reasonable 75 mph (near or around our comfy 120 km/h.)

Other notes: If you happen to drive through rapid city, there is a Mobil gas station, rather large, with animal statues scattered outside. We thought that was rather over the top for a gas station until we went inside. We’d stopped simply because it was a large city and we needed gas cause the interstate sucks it up like nobody’s business; but we ended up spending a half hour or so among what might be the most impressive personal taxidermy collection I have ever seen. The man had everything! Every species of bear, wolf, sheep, cat, alligator! Giraffe! Elephant! That I had ever heard of and even some I hadn’t. And keep in mind, we had already been inside Cabela’s at this point, so the level of taxidermy expectations in mass numbers was high, very high (side note: After our 2 added hours to visit Cabelas on day one, we drove RIGHT PAST no fewer than 4 MORE CABELAS before we had left South Dakota. After SD they thinned out, but still. It was kind of an IN YOUR FACE YOU SILLY 2 HOUR DETOUR TAKERS on Cabela’s part...).  In any case: random gas station is epic, and worth seeing, if you ever go to rapid city and are interested in taxidermy. Pretty sure thats going to be a miniscule portion of my reading population, but hey. I try and put in a little something for you all.

Speaking of something for everyone: once past Rapid City, (and in fact a little before), Mom and I started seeing roadside ads for the most RANDOM things, all pointing to this “Wall Drug”, whatever that was. Sunshine! Free coffee and donuts for veterans! Free ice water (tempting!) Ice cream! Cowboy clothes! Smiles! Really weird yet mesmerizing advertising! And what the hell, we wondered, (trying to stay awake on the boring and hot interstate) is wall drug?? What’s a wall drug? And why does it have so much random and unrelated things!? Ultimately, there was only one way to find out. We decided to take the recommended exit and see for ourselves.

*Spoiler Alert!*

Well, turns out Wall Drug is a drugstore, roughly speaking (more in the older sense of drugstore, as in general store, except its actually a large mall, so it does indeed have a ton of random things inside, like most malls) in the tiny town of Wall. The official name is Wall Drug Store but it’s fondly known, worldwide!! As  Wall Drug. (hyperlink to more info for the curious. Its actually kind of interesting, mostly for the super impressive directly effective advertising, which can be found as far abroad as Paris Metro’s and draws in 2 million foreign visitors a year.) We stopped, stepped outside, regretted that immediately, scurried to the nearest air conditioning, and relaxed. Whew. We wandered around a little, waking up the brain cells overwhelmed by heat, got ice cream cones- delish!! And a sarsaparilla, which I was totally unfamiliar with (for the other undereducated youths, its basically root beer. Apparently a forerunner to root beer. In any case tastes awesome cold out of a bottle!) With these small successes,  we moved on.

South D, overall, was a great state, a bit tainted by how hot it was, but still cool. It is, however, home to my biggest regret about the roadtrip. Which is thus: Leaving wall drug, confounded and lazyfied by the heat (my excuse for everything! Haha), we turned back onto the interstate. What we really meant to do but didn’t discover until 15 min later was turn onto the small side road which travels along the interstate- with the important distinction of giving one the best view of the badlands. On the interstate, we got a cool peek, but it was really only enough to whet the appetite. The formations we saw were incredibly cool and both of us wish that we had taken the road with the view. Alas, we did not; maybe next time, eh, mom? Mom? Anybody?

Kidding, kidding. Maybe someday. Anyways, thats South Dakota in a nutshell. Also, after the black forests, its worth noting there’s no trees to speak of; only wind. So, Minnesota was a pleasant, pleasant surprise. “Let there be Trees!” I like to call it. (Trees do start appearing before the border, guys, its not a line or anything. But it really felt like I blinked, and where there had been desert, now there was trees. I <3 trees... especially compared to wind!) Also, leaving the windy plains behind (although I feel I must point out that Minnesota is also windy, and the trees are pretty evidently planted as windbreaks along the road and surrounding houses) eventually meant running out of the windmills, which were chasing us across the country, much to mums preturbance. Not cute windmills- those tall, white, skyscraping wind turbines. (Our opinions in a nutshell: Sarah: Eh, eco friendly at least.. Mom: Creepy and unnatural and give me nightmares! Its like they slice into my dreams! ß actually fairly accurate rendition of our conversation. As you can see the heat fried mom too).

Minnesota also had less large road kill, comforting to those of us who have recently been traumatized by friendly deer in Montana (really not something I ever thought I’d be traumatized by). So we were comfortable driving into the dark- handy, because while Minnesota has a nice trick of posting camping signs along with gas and food, it has the sad trick of nothing being open until memorial day. And so, Minnesota was home our first hotel. Probably time for a shower anyways; not to mention making our own cup of tea (not that we needed hot drinks.)

Day 5: Minnesota, Wisconsin, & Illinois

Finally, we were into the shorter states. We’d managed to drive through most of Minnesota, so we made it to Wisconsin by the early afternoon. It was still hot, hot enough that we gleefully stopped and dipped toes (and hands and shoes and whatever body parts could be dipped without stripping) into the Missouri river in Minnesota.

It wasn’t until we hit Wisconsin, thought, that we really started seeing water again; I hadn’t realized how much I missed river’s and the greenery that comes with water. It was a joyful moment.

A large part of my joy also focused on the return of recycling! You don’t want to know how many bottles we were hoarding inside the already jam packed car, waiting for a recycling container.

We managed to detach ourselves from the recycling area and mosey on. A few hours later we encountered something new: our first traffic jam, courtesy of roadwork outside Milwaukee. 2 hours of some slow and some speedy movement later, we entered Illinois, and started following signs for Chicago. Exciting!

At around 5 in the afternoon, we officially reached Chicago. It took about an hour to get in, and once in, we followed our couch surfing hosts directions to the Ukranian Village, a little nervous a) about what the place and people would be like and B) about parallel parking (mostly me nervous about that, mom parks like a boss). Thankfully, we were in for the most pleasant kind of surprise: everything working out even better than we could have hoped for.

We were nervous also because moms host was in the midst of moving to London (Look study abroad friends! It can be done!), so she wasn’t sure she’d be able to host for more than a night. When we arrived, Rachel, our host, was still at work; her little sister Gracie was supposed to be home, but had forgotten her keys at work and was furiously speeding across town to get them, apologizing to us profusely (and adorably). So mum and I walked around the neighborhood, and I must tell you, Chicago really impressed me. I hear tell it’s because we were in the North side, and the South side is not a place for one to go by oneself, but if so then I still have to say Chicago’s north side is lovely, lovely, lovely. The Ukrainian village was thoroughly charming, full of gardens and enchanting old brick houses, and people walking their dogs. Parking was free (BONUS!!!) and not really an issue; we ended up leaving Gabby parked in the same spot the whole time. I was hugely relieved; it felt safe and nice, somewhere I’d be comfy dropping off my mom overnight (which is kind of surreal in itself. Sign of adulthood: worrying about the quality of place you leave your parents in?). Also, When the key bearing Gracie appeared, she was charming and effortlessly sweet, a young lady working for a high end eco friendly all natural etc etc daycare (“people pay more per year to have their kids there than my entire education cost!” 0.o) and babysitting her boyfriends dog, the equally charming Apple, a beautifully behaved (those of you who know us and dogs know I don’t say that lightly!!) Rottweiler whom mom bonded with immediately and took photos of before she left. I, however, had a date with a hotel and a group of psych nerds to attend. So, after getting directions with the bus (and obsessively tracking my location with my phone while on the bus, in order to find my stop) I headed off to the Chicago Sheraton, by myself for the first time in ages and already missing my mom :p

The bus ride was uneventful, and I did manage to find my stop, but that was where the smooth ride ended. It was a beautiful night and a beautiful spot; the Sheraton is on the waterfront. However, I could not for the life of me tell which building was the Sheraton, and there weren’t many people walking about at night time to ask.  I headed off in the direction it should have been in- but ended up walking into a giant parking lot, which didn’t seem like it at all. So I aimed off in another direction, walking a block away, hoping to spot the large sign all hotels seem to sport. And after another 10 minutes I did indeed spot it- hovering proudly above the parking lot I’d gotten lost in in the first place. Figures!
So, after a day of adventure, I finally found my hotel, settled into the lobby to wait for my roommates (who held the key cards), and reunited after an hour or so with some beloved BC friends (specifically Sanne; most of the others on the trip I didn’t know.) Then it was off to bed and rest before a day of sightseeing- tomorrow!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Day 2: Idaho & Day 3: Montana

We crossed the border into Idaho  around noon, after a slow start to the day. The price of gas dropped instantly, we stopped to take a picture by the “Welcome to Idaho” sign and stole a branch off a wild lilac bush to smell up the car. And then we drove! Our first stop was a Wal Mart (how properly American of us) where we bought a map- a map being one of the few things forgotten at home, along with a belt and raincoats, which we haven’t needed!) After that, we were undecided which route to take but it was decided for us when we took a semi wrong turn, and after that we were headed to Cabela’s at Post Falls.
Mr Moose at Cabelas!

                Cabela’s is an entrancing store for people like us, all outdoor and workable clothes and more camping, hiking and hunting gear then you can shake a stick at. Very American, though- there are also safe’s and all sorts of gun accessories, not to mention guns themselves; and the whole store is speckled with taxidermy. We spent at least an hour testing foamies, and mom came away with a delightful air mattress; and both of us got new jackets which are crying out to be hiked in. All in all a success. But, it was a 2 hour out of the way success, so we didn’t make our intended campground, which was Lewis and Clark Caverns, and instead pulled over in a tiny town called Drummond (their street signposts- first street, west street etc- were handmade wood. 0.o) and tented it. It was a tiny and mostly abandoned camp beside their equally small rodeo grounds, but there was potable water and outlets for the RV’s and it smelled like cottonwood, so it was a lovely night and morning. The morning especially, because the electricity worked, and we managed to boil water for a cup of tea to travel with. Perk! We laughed a lot and snacked on smoked gouda and pepperoni and salt and vinegar rice crackers. So, Idaho was pretty good to us, though we actually camped in Montana.  Montana didn’t start out quite as well- not very far into it, a ghost car pulled us (specifically mom!!) over for speeding in a work zone (though of course there were no workers or even working vehicles/machines to be seen). They said ‘citation’ and we breathed a sigh of relief. And that was our second day on the road!
Mr. Moose pulled over in Montana. Whoops...
Day Three: Montana

On day 3, we woke up in Drummond, Montana, beside a river, train tracks, and the town of Drummond. The town is small enough that the campsite was within city limits (it doubles as a fishing site). We were serenaded by the sweet birdsong of magpies (for those of you not in the know, there is nothing sweet about magpies. Not a darn thing) and actually a dove, which sounded to me much like an owl, albeit a confused owl, given that it was daytime. We packed up slowly, trying to give the tent time to dry out from the overnight condensation. And as the site also hosted RV’s, mom decided to experiment with the electric outlets, which ended up working, and we had with our breakfast of pioneer bread and huckleberry jam a lovely warm cup of tea! Posh camping!

We left before the city employees even arrived to check the campsite, so could have gotten away with a free campsite, but we paid the ten dollars because they also had a very nice restroom and one simply must support things like that.

On our way out, headed to the Lewis and Clark Caverns, we decided to skip off the interstate 90 and take highway one, which met up with the 90 after about 45 min. An excellent decision and one I recommend to all! Highway one was beautiful, winding and mountain climbing and reminding us of the lovely parts of home. And it was so nice to be off the mindless interstate. There was stunning campgrounds (oops, should have gone a little further last night!) and lovely lakes and we drove through the town of Anaconda, which charmed mother. It was in fact a lovely old town, lots of brick, and we stopped to take a picture of the big white A on the hill headed into town- and also of the 3 american flags in a row, put up on people’s houses. A very American picture, according to mom, who found it funny. Having since seen much more than three flags in one yard, we’re no longer as amused by the relative restraint of one per yard!

We drove on through Anaconda, past a few mining and refinery sites, staring at the mountains for a surprisingly long time- I stared especially intently since I know it might be a while before I see mountains again! And eventually found the Lewis and Clark caverns, where we had intended to camp the first night. The website advertised yurts, but after a thorough drive through, I assure there were not yurts, nor were there teepees, which had also been advertised. So no regrets there about missing it as a campsite! We drove up and up and up on the windy little road till we reached the base of the cavern hike, from which they launched tours every 15 minutes. There was a school there and on the way out we saw Mennonites, which is always a bit of a double take- no one should be wearing so much clothes in heat like that! But interesting to see the long hair and pioneer like dresses and clothes. The Lewis and Clark caverns and state park is also proudly home to the oldest (still standing) building in the state of Montana: a rock outhouse, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps while they were making the caverns safely accessible (an enterprise taking over a year which involved blasting entrances and pouring a concrete path in a cave).  There is something magnificently humorous in Montana’s oldest man made building being full of shit...

The caverns themselves were very cool and a very welcome temperature change. The small 2 mile hike up was HOT and we northerners, who had been snowed on twice in the week before we left! Were not and are not adjusted. The caverns were fairly close quarters, and you’re not able to stand up straight in a lot of places (bless our lack of height)  and some squeezes would make a lot of Americans regret their expansive food choices.  The highlight for me was a slide! A natural slide, butt shaped after years of use, which is very short but the only way to get from one room to another. Awesome!  Also, on the tunnel out, there are two cavernous doors used to keep out the wind. On the way out the guide shut the front door on us while we were in the echoing hall, and the deep, echoing boom sounded like it came straight out of the Mines of Moria. Excellent.
Mr. Moose in the Lewis & Clarke Cavens!

But after the 2 hour tour it was back to the heat, and I assure you Gabby (my car) was hot. We rolled down the windows and barreled down the hill panting like puppies and trying to find ways to make the air conditioning work better/faster/colder (a theme of the trip for the next few days!) Then it was back on the road.

We spent a lot of time on the interstate and ended up on a drive through the Crow Indian Reserve, home to the Cheyenne (or some of them). An interesting discovery: American reserves, in spite of being a different country, group of First Nations, and like TEN TIMES the size of any of our reserves (not an accurate fact. Merely an impression) look just exactly the same. 3 trucks in front of every house and no one keeps a yard, wild dogs running around... but at least one man galloping across the hills on horseback, so we pretended he was a brave and bareback and lived 200 years ago and decided to be charmed by it all anyway J And it was actually a lovely drive. However, it was also a loooong way between gas stations, so we also started coasting down hills (likely not saving any gas considering the effort it takes Gabby to get up to speed again, but fun!) until we finally found a tiny, ancient gas station ran by a tiny, ancient man (we marveled about how we didn’t have to prepay and he laughed at us and said where would you run to? Yes, that far into the middle of nowhere haha).  So we filled up there and prepared to move on. We planned to camp and had asked a gas station attendant if he knew of any camping a few hours away and his reply was basically “Well... you’re in Montana!!” which turned out to be pretty accurate. You could probably spit on a campground from any point in Montana.

We drove on for about another hour, into the sunset (alas, heading East, and therefore robbing the moment of much of its romance), and as we still had a lot of energy we figured we’d drive a few hours into the dark and maybe get a hotel. BUT, there are SO MANY DEER IN MONTANA. And not like British Columbian deer, which have a well deserved fear of the road. No, hordes of inordinately friendly deer, who like to chill either right beside or right on the road. We had been counting them, but promptly lost track, and after passing probably 30 or so in about as many minutes we decided our nerves couldn’t take this madness (as a girl who has previously experienced 4 intimate vehicle encounters with the Bambi species, I figure I’ve had more than my fair share and am eager to never repeat the experience, ever). So we pulled over at a truckstop which (this being Montana) also was a campground and pitched our tent in the dark with the help of headlights and head lamps, which mom had cleverly thought to bring. We then snuggled down for the night... and were slightly disturbed, by these soft but repetitive noises... not the highway, but an odd ripping noise and the occasional swish of something twitching in the air.

Well, having managed to scare us off the highway, the darn deer were apparently only too happy to see us, and they spent at least an hour chewing up our campground (the ripping noise was their teeth ripping off grass) and whuffling our tent. Cute, but not so much so when you’re trying to sleep!

Still, we finally managed to pass out and awoke to the cheerful humming of semi trucks. Ahhh, the delights of camping :p after buying and discarding to disgusting cups of tea (they cost 50 cents each, so we couldn’t resist; but then it turned out you get what you pay for!) we were on the road again.