Sunday, September 27, 2009

Me and My Little Room - June 2009

I started working again at the beginning of the month. I started out substituting for a teacher who was on vacation, but after she came back I was given my own class, and now it looks like I'll have a job at least until the end of the summer. I'm at another language school, just like the the last two I worked at. So far I like the environment: the students are well-behaved, the staff are friendly, and the curriculum seems good.

Apart from re-adjusting to life in the workforce, I haven't been up to much this month. I've grown comfortable with my life here in Vancouver. I like my little basement room, and my roommates seem okay. Currently, I'm living with a good mix of nationalities. There's an Irish couple and a couple of Mexicans. There was also a German girl, but she's moved out and been replaced by a Japanese girl and a Québécoise. I enjoy going to church, taking long walks, and occasionally socialising. Other than that, I don't get up to much. Vancouver's lost most of its excitement, and I probably won't stay here much longer. For the time being, though, I have a job I like, and the weather's been quite nice, so I'm enjoying myself.

I did the Grouse Grind again, and it only took me one hour and fifty minutes. That's five minutes less than last time! It was nice weather, not as cold and wet as in October, but not too hot, either. The surprising thing was how cold I felt when I got to the top. I don't know if it was because of the altitude or the fact that I was drenched in sweat, but I needed a hot drink to warm me up. Maybe it was the altitude; I took a walk around, and noticed a few snow patches still lying around! I also saw the birds and the grizzly bears, although the latter were sleeping.

In the news… Iran's been in the news a lot. Obviously I support democracy, and oppose nuclear proliferation, but beyond that I don't really know what to think. If the election was rigged, I think there should be a recount, but if the result was valid, then we all have to accept it.

T.V. shows I've seen this month:

New Doctor Who (Season 2) – I thought that after Christopher Eccleston, I might not warm again to David Tennant, but I did. This season seemed like a slight improvement over the last one, although it's possible that my standards have just fallen. I am beginning to enjoy the wackiness of this series; the almost gleeful cheesiness actually gives it a lot of character. It's just too bad the writing and acting aren't better; it could be a really good show if they were.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Season for Everything - May 2009

At the end of April I returned to Ottawa for my first visit in nine months. The primary reason was to attend a friend's wedding, but it also gave me a chance to see people, and take care of practical matters like getting my teeth checked and renewing my driver's licence. I stayed there until the middle of May, and then flew back to Vancouver.

The wedding was something of a first for me. Previously, the only weddings I'd been to were for members of my extended family. This was the first time I actually knew both the bride and groom. That made it much more exciting and personally relevant. I only have a few friends, and each of them is (hopefully) only going to get married once. From that perspective the wedding was one of the most important events of my life, or at least the highlight of my year. The ceremony was simple but nice. I got a bit emotional, but didn't cry. The family asked me to take pictures at the reception, which was good, because it gave me something to do. I took lots of photos, got caught up with some Ottawa acquaintances, and danced with lots of people, including the bride and groom.

Even though my Ottawa visit was short, I'm glad I got to have it. It was nice to be back among familiar things, and to see friends and family again. Most of all, it made me realise something: Ottawa is home, at least for now. Travelling and seeing the world is nice, and of course working is good, but Ottawa's still the most important place in the world to me, and probably will be until things change dramatically.

Now that I'm in Vancouver again, I'm back to job-hunting. This is the season where a lot of schools hire new staff, and I'm hopeful that I can find a good job for the summer. Being unemployed, I'm once again too poor to do anything interesting with my time, so my days have mostly been filled with books and television. On the bright side, the weather these past few weeks has been gorgeous, warm and sunny, with blue skies every day. I've been taking advantage by going on a lot of long walks around the city. I walked all the way around Stanley Park one day, which I'd done last June when it was unseasonably cold and wet. This time was a lot better.

I began this post with some happy news, but I have to end it with something sad. My friend who got married at the beginning of the month lost her brother only a few weeks later. As when my uncle died, it isn't something that affects me personally, but it affects my friends, and friends can be just as important as family, if not more so. I went to Victoria for the funeral. I'd never attended a funeral before, so it was another first for me. Obviously it was a much less pleasant experience than the wedding, and I can't say I enjoyed it, but I'm glad I went.

In the news, the civil war in Sri Lanka has finally come to an end. I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it's thrilling to think of any war ending, especially one that's as old as I am. On the other hand, it seems to have generated a massive humanitarian crisis, with both government and rebel forces partly to blame. I don't understand the situation very well, but I'm surprised the international community hasn't done more to address this crisis. If innocent civilians in a foreign country are suffering, isn't it our job to get involved? I certainly hope more is done to help the victims now that combat has ceased. I also hope a peace can be reached that respects the needs of everyone involved, so that the country can heal and move forward.

Movies I've seen this month:

Star Trek – Saying it was better than I expected may not be saying much, but the truth is, I actually liked this movie. Hard to say why. On the one hand, it lacked the philosophical depth that was supposedly the strength of the T.V. shows. On the other hand, as pure sci-fi action-adventure it was at best mediocre, with decent special effects, okay action sequences, and a pretty silly story. The interest really came from the characters. The movie managed to re-invent, send-up, and pay homage to the classic figures all at the same time, and it was remarkably fun to watch. I appreciated all the little tributes – surprising, given that I've never been more than a very casual TOS viewer. I especially liked NewMcCoy! This would make a very good opening to a new T.V. show, or – as is more likely – a movie trilogy. They'd have to come up with a better story next time, though. (Three stars)

T.V. shows I've seen this month:

New Doctor Who (Season 1) – Entertaining if generally dumb sci-fi show. Unlike Torchwood, it doesn't take itself too seriously, but seems content with being so-bad-it's-good. I like Christopher Eccleston.

Books I've read this month:

J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: The real story behind Peter Pan by Andrew Birkin – A biography of J. M. Barrie and his relationship with the Llewelyn Davies family. This is the same story told in the movie Finding Neverland, which I really ought to see, now. I haven't read many biographies lately, but I thought this one was very well done. I felt a real sympathy for the characters, who are all flawed people in complex relationships, and I also felt that I learned something about the time period they lived in. The story is touching, and consistently tragic; I wanted to cry on several occasions.

Orientalism by Edward Said – I think I liked the idea behind this book, but to be honest, most of it went straight over my head. Maybe I've been outside of university too long, and have lost the ability to decipher academic texts (which I was never that good at to begin with). Or maybe it was that virtually all the literary allusions were lost on me, which kind of detracted from the "support" portion of the argument. Somebody needs to give me a dumbed-down version of this book – maybe with less Flaubert and more David Lean.