Sunday, 26 May 2013

We ran the Sea Wall

Since I started jogging one minute at a time on the women's gym treadmill the week after Thanksgiving in October 2011, I have dreamed of the day when I would casually run the Granville Bridge/Scienceworld loop of the Vancouver Sea Wall. Last week, it finally happened. Matthew and I put our sneakers on, braved the chill breeze in our t-shirts, and headed down to the bridge on-ramp. On the other side of the Granville Bridge we were waylaid by some construction works, but we found our way back to the seawall on the North side, and legged it to Scienceworld.
The circuit.
 
We saw many a purebred dog, the odd rollerblader, and several Canada geese ranging in temperament from nonchalant to hissing mad. We stopped for a stretch and a shoe-lace-re-tie at Scienceworld, and then continued on at a steady pace. When we got past the Cambie Bridge on the South side, we found a swarm of baby Canada geese swimming on a pond. It was ADORABLE, and it was like a reward for our resolve.
Ok, so we only had our camera phones, but if you look in the distance, you can see a fuzzy yellow line on the water? That's about 30 goslings, being herded by about 3 geese.

Looking North West onto Yaletown across False Creek

Another Canada gosling!! These were mean parent-geese. Hissed at us severely.
When we got back to Granville bridge (now underneath it), I'm sorry to say that we repaired to the nearest Starbucks and guzzled some gross drinks. When we got home, I 'mapped my run' on the internet, and learned that we had covered 6.68 miles. So I know for sure that we ran at least 6 of them. Good work, Team Beavis!

(Side note: when walking home under the Granville Street bridge, we passed this billboard... made entirely out of pennies! The one cent coin was only discontinued in Canada in February 2013. We still have dozens of them in our apartment. Perhaps Matthew can use them to make art?)

This weekend was unexpectedly busy. Matthew had a Warhammer tournament on Saturday, and I went... no seriously... to a Vogon Poetry Slam at the Vancouver Public Library. (Saturday, for all you Douglas Adams fans, was of course 'International Towel Day'). It was quite the event. The organisers were dressed head to toe in alien costumes. When I arrived, an alien said to me, 'Do you need a towel, dear?' and I, not knowing that it was ITD, or even what ITD was, replied fearfully 'Um... do you think I need a towel?' Finally I was joined by my friend Adriana (it was her birthday) and we settled in to enjoy some dreadful poetry. Shout out to the Brunswick posse: this event was a TRIUMPH for rude word scrabble. I haven't heard that many hilariously rude and gross words for a while. Plenty of 'moist'. So, Adriana, her friend Simon, and I all lived through the experience, and then wandered up Robson Street to the Vancouver Art Gallery Cafe for a slice of birthday cake and a cup of tea. *sigh of relief* Happy birthday, Adriana! Honoured to have shared it with you!

Saturday evening Matthew and I explored Commercial Drive, when we were invited to our friend Alayna's house cooling party. That lady knows how to host! Never were our glasses or plates empty! She put on a beautifully healthy banquet, and we were joined by several lads from UBC English and some others of Alayna's acquaintance. At approximately 11pm, we received a knock on the door from am neighbour asking us to party more quietly... I have to say that's the first time Matthew and I have been instructed to pipe down in several years. Are we getting old?

Sunday, 19 May 2013

In Town: Victoria Day Long Weekend

It's the Sunday afternoon of Victoria Day long weekend. It utterly crept up on us, which is why I'm writing from ye olde apartmente rather than some holiday destination. This morning I met my friend Maddie from UBC at the Kitsilano Farmers Market. It was full of babies and dogs. But we had a good time anyway.
Fancy mushrooms

Baby strawberry

Sluuuuuuuug!

My haul.
Yes, I'm reflective of the fact that we went to a farmers market and I came home with not a leaf of organic lettuce. No shame.

In other news:

On Friday night I went for martinis with Maddie (whence we created the Great Farmers Market Plan). We set our receipt on fire. It printed straight from the debit terminal into the ornamental candle flame. No lasting damage. We went our separate ways, feeling a bit sheepish.

After a short sojourn at home for a plate of pesto (and ok there was some pasta on there too) Matthew and I were so late for Star Trek Into Darkness that we had to cab into town. We screamed in there bang on movie start time only to discover that it had been sold out for like an hour previous. Boooo. So we hung around like shags on a rock until Iron Man 3 started, like an hour later. It was fun, lots of stuff exploded.

On Saturday night we went to New Westminster for 'Single Malt Saturday' Scotch Night at Amanda and Larry's place. Scotch Night is strictly a gents' affair, so the other significant others and I cleared out to the local pub for ...more martinis. Good time had. We returned to the homestead at 11ish and ate two kinds of chocolate cake, and then we were lucky enough to be chauffeured home.

This morning we test-tasted a newish vegetarian restaurant a couple of blocks from home for brunch. When we lived in Melbourne, we were frequent brunchers, but we haven't been since moving to Vancouver. It was a real effort to get up and respectable, but once we were ensconced with a latte, it all seemed quite civilised and possible. The coffee was delicious, and the quinoa pancakes were interesting and sweet.

I'm not sure what the plan for tomorrow is. If it's not raining I think Matthew and I will make good on our pinky promise to do some exercise. We'll see. I can tell you what will be happening the next time there's a long weekend in BC. We will be halfway up a freeway to somewhere exotic before you can blink, that's what.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Only in Richmond: Green Edition

Matthew's work is very 'green'. He's a mechanic for a large organisation, and it just won an international award for environmental initiative. The site has a wind turbine, solar panels, and since very recently, a plug-in station for electric cars (which are coming soon). Also, geothermal heating and cooling, and a recycled water system. But the most awesomely 'green' thing is the bee colonies on the roof. Yes.

For the past two years, Matthew has come home with local honey from the bees on his work roof. The first year was very light in colour and flavour. But last year's batch was dark and fragrant, like the difference between IPA and stout, if you can imagine. It was literally concentrated, because the harvest was much smaller than the previous year.

Last week, one of the queens in one of the hives vacated the nest. So of course the bees swarmed. All over Matthew's work. Noone could get in or out of the dealership, because everywhere was covered in bees.

Ah, Richmond.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Roller Derby!

We Went to the Beach Last Weekend!

Saturday was the beginning of summer. I'm not even kidding. It's stunningly beautiful in Vancouver at the moment, and also hot. There's even a haze in front of the mountains.

But back to Saturday. Matthew and I walked to Denman and Davie, over the Burrard Bridge and along the sea wall on the North side of False Creek. It was sunburn weather, but I was massively overdressed (didn't believe the heat until I was out in it) so not in danger.
Approaching the Burrard Bridge with a long face. If you look closely, you can see Matthew's arm snapping our selfie in the reflection of my glasses.
False Creek Marina
Yachts heading under the Burrard Bridge
At English Bay Beach there was a very peaceful Marijuana Legalisation sit-in, with ironically way less smoke than, for example, the fireworks festival in the same location last summer.
No smoke here. If you look closely in the background there's a tree growing on top of a building. It's iconic.
The beach and West End were totally crowded with people and fancy dogs. We grabbed a latte and panini out on the street front of a cafe on Denman, and while enjoying ourselves in the cool shade, radically lost track of time. We power-walked home over the Granville Bridge and then picked up Martina and Stu.

Also the Roller Derby!

Last weekend when we were at Stu's birthday, fellow-UBC friend Amanda suggested a trip to the Roller Derby in Richmond. I was fuzzy on the concept but open to it, Matthew was totally gung-ho, and we were both of the general spirit to explore a new spectator sport (since we've been here we've achieved football, baseball and ice hockey).

The league is called the Terminal City Roller Girls. There were two games on Saturday night: Riot Girls vs Faster Pussycats and Public Frenemy vs Bad Reputations. The uniforms (costumes?) were functional, but the hosiery was at the fashion discretion of the individual. There was a player with legs like the solar system. And lots of fishnet, of course.

At the start of the first game, we all stood and sang the Canadian National Anthem, consistent with other sports we've seen. Each individual game started with an elaborate team intro show. The Riot Girls had a 'tank' and the Faster Pussycats had Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia, just to give you a picture. (They were more exciting and hilarious than the hockey intros.)

For the first half of the first game, the sound system had impossible acoustics. There was an enthusiastic commentary duo, but we couldn't make out what they were actually saying. Luckily, before the match even started, there was a video projection of the rules of Roller Derby, so we had a pretty good grasp of the action, if not of the commentary.

Previously I thought that hockey girls were the fiercest, but I now believe it's roller girls. Pretty much every player, and half the referees fell over during the game, some of them dozens of times. The first time someone fell over, the crowd was kind of like '*gasp*'. I continued to be totally impressed by the way that players (and refs) picked themselves up with such dignity time and time again.
Half-time entertainment: East Vancouver Bike Polo Club demonstration! Matthew was enchanted.
Also, there were two players in the latter game, 'Missy' from Public Frenemy and '100% Canadian Bacon' from the Bad Reputations (I think -- could be the other way around), who pretty much dominated. They would each go on these amazing sprees where they would dart through the pack as if no one could touch them, and then sail around the track like it was nbd. All the players, and all the refs, had puntastic gamenames, either on their jersey (players) or helmet (refs). As I'm sure you're aware, I'm not much of a connoisseur of puns, but I recognised the wit.

From my limited preconceptions of roller derby, I was surprised to find:
1. More gents in the crowd than expected. Husbands, brothers, bfs, dads, friends, etc, many wearing team t-shirts.
2. Not a very multicultural crowd (especially for an activity in the heart of Richmond city).
3. Way more conservative fashion/hair than expected. I was getting prepared for awesome punk/alt/goodness, but apart from a blue-haired darth-vader-dressed 4 year old girl, it was a bit on the tame side.
4. ...Our friend Jamie from book club! We saw her at the front door, and we were like 'what are you doing here!?' and she was like, 'I come here all the time.'

Roller Derby started at 6 sharp, and finished up at about 9:45. We said farewell to Amanda (thanks for an awesome and mind-expanding evening adventure!) and drove Martina and Stu back to our neighbourhood. We stopped at a sports bar (yep. I go to those now. Regularly.) and grabbed a late dinner. Martina had to run a half marathon in the morning, so we were all utterly sober in solidarity.

Other Stuff that Happened:

Sunday was even hotter than Saturday. I met up with Martina after her run (she aced it! very inspiring) and went to book club at a vegetarian cafe on Commercial Drive in East Vancouver. We were met by: Anne, Katie, Danika, Kate and new member Aarthi! We read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and talked about our summer plans.

Martina and I found our husbands video-gaming and enjoying the finer things in life. After a nap and some downtime, we all repaired to the local all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ (yes, the dessert avoidance is going well, which is just as well because we are not 'eating mindfully' otherwise!) and watched the ice hockey play-offs. Okay, so in Canada, 'the play-offs' means that the same two teams just play each other like every two days for 7 straight matches! I mean, where is the tension in that? Vancouver is playing off San Jose, and we already saw that game back when we went with M&S to the arena back in March. It was fun anyway. Vancouver lost. The sushi was delicious.

And finally, because I can't not... yesterday evening Matthew and I were walking to the market on Oak St, and we came across this beauty of a sign. Oh, Canada.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Progress Report

Since this week has been rather more work than play, I thought I'd do a bit of an accountability post. I've been avoiding discussing real life on this blog for a while, instead writing about adventures and activities. But it's hard to have a blog-worthy adventure every week. I also feel like I should document the less glamorous (really, is anything in our lives thusfar accurately described as glamorous?) aspects of life in Vancouver. Also, since it's my blog, this progress report will me very me-centric.

Health
I'm starting with this one since it's easiest. Since the Sun Run a couple of Sundays ago, I have been keeping up with the running, trying to turn the daily 3.1 into the daily 4 miles, with only moderate success. I'm aiming to do this 5 days a week, but only achieving 4 days so far. I've also been eating like a garbage truck since about January, so part of the incessant running in circles is related to damage control.

Last weekend, after the sweetest piece of raspberry-rhubarb pie I have ever eaten, I declared an end to desserts, and also declared it an endeavour to be shared with Matthew. Every evening last week, after dinner, there would be a half-hour gap in time where we would kind of wander around, try to make small talk, do some reading or hobbying, whatever, where dessert used to be. It was weird. It will take some getting used to. Also, since last night was Friday night, and we had cake, strawberries, and chocolate in the house, I decided that it had been a whole week since my last dessert so I would relent and make it a once-a-week dessert rule. So, progress is limited, but moral is medium-to-high.

Study
On Tuesday 30 April, I finally submitted  my MA thesis prospectus and bibliography (which, no joke, I had been drafting since January, and reading for since September). It is a short document which outlines my research program, and which must be passed through the English Department and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

While I wait for that to happen, I have begun drafting the thesis, and I am at 11 pages so far, mostly of historical backgrounding, which may one day form a Chapter 1. On a good day, I roll into campus at 11am, and stay until about 6. On a bad day, I'll start at 12 and head home at 4:30. I'm obviously aiming to increase the hours-in-computer-lab aspect radically over the next fortnight, so that I am actually facing a screen for at least 6 hours a day. Progress: moderate, Moral: medium-high.

Employment
Since my teaching assistant contract expired at the end of April, I am now seeking employment. This blog is easily googleable for any prospective employer, so I will not be going into details about my search, but I imagine it will be a long one. So far I have submitted more than 15 online applications and met with two recruiters. I also have regular appointments with an HR consultant at UBC who specialises in transitioning grad students to full time career work. My resume has been overhauled about 5 times since March, and I have a LinkedIn profile, and I am learning the conventions and etiquettes (ever so slightly different) of Canadian cover-letter-writing.

The biggest challenge for me at the moment is marketing myself realistically and successfully. I am, I have recently been advised, too qualified for some administrative and customer-facing roles. But I feel like there is a spectrum of admin/cust service work, and I can imagine myself on it, perhaps in a junior managerial capacity. The second biggest challenge is wholly embracing the art of networking. We've been here long enough that I know lots of people in Vancouver. I just need to make it happen.

But my degree is my first priority until it is completed, so I need a work situation which will allow me the necessary hours and mental space to finish it before making a giant career leap. As impatient as I am to become a full time worker again, I need to remember why we made this huge life move to Canada: to study, reconnect with family, get healthy, travel, slow down. Progress: no job yet, but lots of effort continues to be made. Moral: medium-low (and may remain that way until I secure appropriate employment).

Things to look forward to
At the end of May, Matthew cousin Helen is coming to visit from Melbourne. We are beyond excited to be able to show her around town, and we have several city-and-periphery adventures planned. The very next day after Helen arrives, my mum Kath is also rolling in. I'm looking forward to catching up with her and taking her out for a belated-Mothers'-Day celebration. In August, we have another very good friend coming to stay as well, so it looks like another summer of tourism, sunshine, and friendship. A lot to be excited about, really!

So now I feel like I have been real, come clean, and demystified some of our life in Vancouver. As much as I would love for it to be one holiday adventure after another, that's not what expatriating is truly about.