Monday, October 5, 2009

26 - July 2009

Thirteen years ago, at the age of thirteen, I decided to take stock of my life. I looked at who I was, and how I'd gotten that way. Most importantly, I thought about what I wanted my future to be like. I didn't have any clear idea of how long it might take to turn into the kind of person I wanted to be, but I'd always imagined that I should have most of it sorted out by the time I was twenty-six. Besides, at twenty-six I would be twice as old as I currently was. So I decided to set myself a few goals, and hope to have them achieved by that age. Chief among them were the following: make a friend, fall in love, and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Thirteen years later I've had variable success. I've never fallen in love, but I'm beginning to think that may not be all that important. I haven't figured out what I want to do with my life, but I do like the path I'm on, and I've decided to concentrate on enjoying the journey. I have made a friend. Or two. And, as that's probably the most important of the three goals, I think I can feel pretty good about that.

So, now that I'm twenty-six, it's time to take stock again. Here, in brief, is my life as I saw it thirteen years ago, and as I see it now.

At thirteen:

Favourite colour – white
Favourite movie – the Star Wars trilogy
Favourite T.V. show – I can't remember what I watched back then. Probably Wishbone, Bill Nye, or Alex Mack.
Favourite book – The Neverending Story
Favourite musical artist – Probably one or all of Amanda Marshall, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, or Sheryl Crow.
Countries I'd visited – 4: Canada, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark (The U.S. doesn't count, since I was too young to remember it.)
Cities I'd lived in – 3: London, ON; London, UK; Ottawa, ON (L.A. doesn't count. See above.)
Jobs I'd had – 0
Musical instruments I'd studied – 2: Piano, trumpet
Languages I spoke fluently – 1: English

At twenty-six:

Favourite colour – blue
Favourite movie – I haven't seen Star Wars since I was thirteen, but I suspect it'd still be number one.
Favourite T.V. show – The X-Files
Favourite book – The Neverending Story (Some things haven't changed.)
Favourite musical artist – Collective Soul
Countries I've visited – 7: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong
Cities I've lived in – 5: London, ON; London, UK; Ottawa, ON; Hong Kong; Vancouver, BC
Jobs I've had – 8: food court attendant, ice-cream scooper, inventory clerk, drug store cashier, E.S.L. tutor, E.S.L. teacher (3)
Musical instruments I've studied – 3: piano, trumpet, oboe (plus trying to teach myself the guitar)
Languages I speak fluently – 1: English

These are my goals for the next thirteen years: learn French, pick a career, and write a book. We'll see how that goes.

This was the first year in a very long time that I was away from Ottawa for Canada Day. Celebrating our nation's birthday in our national capital has been something of a tradition for me since I graduated high school. I made the best of it, though. The weather was lovely: sunny, and not too hot. I went down to Granville Island, where they had live music and some official Canada Day ceremonies. The coolest thing they had there was a display entitled "Where In the World Do You Say You Are From?" Visitors were invited to place a stone on a world map representing where they were from. The purpose of the exercise, as was explained to me, was to get people to think about how they identified themselves, and also to highlight the diversity of people at the event. I put my rock on the Ottawa area. It's where I usually say I am from, even though I wasn't born there and am not currently living there. After Granville Island I went down to the beach to watch the fireworks. It got pretty cold sitting out on the beach at night, and we couldn't see the fireworks very well, but I had a pretty good time, over all.

During the winter I learned that Vancouverites have a very low tolerance for cold. To my surprise, I've discovered that they're almost equally intolerant of heat. In July, I started hearing people commenting on how hot the weather was – "hot" being about 25ºC. Then a heat wave hit, and suddenly the weather became "ridiculously hot". Which is to say that it broke 30ºC. I felt obliged to explain that 30ºC is not "ridiculously" anything. It's hot. Period. And anything below 30ºC is merely "warm". Seriously, they should go through 40º weather in Ontario. Then they'd know the meaning of "ridiculous".

July was my first full month of teaching, and I enjoyed it a lot. I had a really good curriculum to work with, and I had a lot of fun picking and choosing what things to teach and supplementing them with my own ideas. I have some really great students to thank for that. One of my classes in particular contained a fairly enthusiastic bunch, and they were a pleasure to teach. Not all of my lessons were successful, and I know I still have a long way to go as a teacher, but enough went well this month to make me feel relatively good about myself and confident about the future. My favourite parts were planning a scavenger hunt at HMV and teaching social issues and discussion techniques.

One of my roommates had her birthday in July, so we all went out clubbing to celebrate. I've had some pretty good clubbing experiences, but this wasn't one of them. First we went to a bar. We had to pay cover just to get into the bar, then sat around for an hour drinking – or, in my case, not drinking – and talking – or rather not talking because it was too noisy to hear anything! When we got to the club, it was packed, and we had to pay cover again. We squeezed into a corner near the entrance, where we were in everyone's way. We had to move every thirty seconds to let people by, and I got elbowed in the nose by someone! Eventually I decided to move to the actual dance floor. Dancing was considerably easier there, but the music wasn't very good. They mostly played random techno-ish music with no clear melody, which was really hard to dance to. In short, the whole experience was disappointing, and I hope the next time I go clubbing it's with people with better judgement, at a club with better music.

I spent my birthday weekend with my sister. On my actual birthday we climbed Grouse Mountain. This time I made it up in and hour and forty minutes, a ten minute improvement over last time! I'd gotten a second-hand digital camera when I was in Ottawa, and my sister gave me an SD card for a birthday present. That means from now on I should be able to take much better pictures than I have.

In the news, Michael Jackson died. This hasn't affected me as strongly as some people who can actually remember when he was popular. My earliest memories are all of him as an effeminate white-person. I like some of his songs, I respect him as a cultural icon, and feel sorry for him as a person. Other than that, I don't have much of an opinion.

Movies I've seen this month:

Finding Neverland – I expected to like this film a lot, but actually found it quite disappointing. It has a good story, a top-notch cast – and oddly uninspired writing and directing. (Three stars)

Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring – Artsy Korean film about a Buddhist monk and his pupil. I liked it at first, but I found it harder to understand as it went on, and was fairly confused by the end. (Two and a half stars)

Public Enemies – The film looks beautiful, sounds pretty good, and features some great actors. Unfortunately, the story isn't particularly engaging, and I never really cared about the characters as much as I wanted to. It may not be a bad movie – but I feel no desire at all to ever see it again. (Three stars)

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

Torchwood: Children of Earth – Wow! This show has come a long way! From its humble, somewhat laughable beginnings, it's grown into a mature, intelligent, and genuinely angsty sci-fi thriller. The story was interesting, the plot was comparatively tight, and there were even some good character moments. Sure, some developments don't really make sense, but others are amazing! Oh, and not to give spoilers, but there's at least one twist I'm really sad about. *sniff* I won't hold it against the writers, though, because it was brilliant!

Books I've read this month:

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham – One of those novels I never got around to reading when I was in elementary school. It paints a fairly interesting picture of what life might be like in a remote, post-apocalyptic society. I found the ending somewhat disturbing, but over all I quite liked it.

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