Sunday, February 21, 2010

How to Buy A New-To-You-Car

In the most complicated way possible:

1. Complain about your previous vehicle for years. Spend time wishing it would actually CATCH ON FIRE, if at all possible. Let it go to the point your best friend gives that vehicle a silly but accurate nick name. Do this to the point that your significant other decides that a replacement would be the sort of gift that would put him into the husband hall of fame.

2. Have a number of somewhat costly repairs come up and be necessary, none of which are actually expensive enough to warrant replacement.

3. Resign yourself to driving "the Bucket" until the wheels literally fall off while you are driving it. This can, but does not have to be part of an overall attempt to stop complaining about stupid things.

4. Crash said car while out-of-town on a Saturday evening and do a really spectacular job of it, although do not injure yourself or others. (5pm on a Saturday is possibly the worst time to get into an auto accident, particularly if you are 300+ miles from people you know beyond their online handles.) If possible, be travelling with an animal to make obtaining alternate transportation and accommodation particularly convenient.

5. Discover that your insurance company has declared your previous car a "total loss incident." Find out that this isn't, as you had feared, the end of the world, and instead that they will handle this efficiently and seemingly with your best interests in mind.

6. Scrape self out of dead faint on floor due to #5.

7. Go into a tizzy of trying to figure out what the heck you want in a used car. Realize you have no freakin' clue and spend several days dithering about it. If possible, disagree with your significant other about what traits are important in a car. Also, call everyone you've ever met and survey your facebook and twitter peeps in an obscure way that leads to the response "go for the Kermit toaster!"

8. Find useful reference volume that provides some clarity, and helps communicate your values when it comes to a car with your significant other. Discover that such a volume costs only $11 and is in the magazine section of the bookstore.

9. steal underpants.

10. Due to work obligations, be forced to travel an insane distance before completing the process of buying a new car. No stress here.

11. Obtain new vehicle.

12. Profits.

(Pictures and more details as soon as I actually buy something.)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gotta Share This!

So on Friday, my favourite radio program addressed an important national (Canadian, that is) issue.

Not the prorogation of Parliament or the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver and surrounds, nor even the concern that there may not be enough snow at one of the Olympic venues. Nope. Not the unfortunate recent diagnosis of a leader of NDP, one of the opposition parties in Parliament with prostate cancer.

None of these were the super-important issue that Jian Ghomeshi addressed Friday on his program Q. Nope. It is the intense and significant issue of milk in bags as a point of nationalist pride.

I love this.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Should I Stay or Should I Go? (With Appologies to The Clash)

I have a dilemma.

I have a completely adequate apartment. It is adequate in that it provides warmth, shelter from the elements, and a place to keep my stuff while, as George Carlin observed, I'm out getting more stuff. It has a kitchen and a washroom, so my biological needs are covered. It is a 20-30 minute walk to/from work and right on an easily accessible bus line to campus. My landlords are lovely people. They've walked my dog for me when I've been particularly stuck.

But... My upstairs neighbours walk around like elephants and seem to have shouting arguments every night just as I settle into bed. (At around midnight. I would understand if they were loud at 7pm and invest in earplugs rather than complain.) But those surprisingly obnoxious folks are graduating and moving at the end of the academic year. Also, it is strangely laid out and I'm responsible for my own snow removal. Finally, lovely as my landlords are, they are not professionals, which sometimes means I have to wait for them to have time to get things fixed.

On the other hand, moving sucks big time. I hate the upheaval it would cause in my life. Even looking for an apartment would be a major time suck that might just end in disappointment. Looking at the listings for available places, it seems as though my requirements might be a bit unreasonable: I'm looking within a particular geographic area, I need a bedroom big enough for a king sized bed, and my dog has to be able to live there too. I don't want to live in a basement.

The Clash had it right, "this indecision's bugging me."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It was pointed out to me a while ago that I have a very limited notion of what Canada is: after all I've never been further east than Toronto, nor any further north, nor I have I been any further to the west than Sarnia (which is nothing at all like Narnia or Yarnia). And I will freely admit that my experience moving to Canada has been limited to moving to Southwestern Ontario.

I can further admit that my experience with living here has been pretty much limited to a fairly closed group of intellectual elites whose experiences have little to do with the vast majority of Canadians, Ontarians, or Londoners. This is, of course, probably somewhat true of my life in Nashville, as well, although that is more skewed toward a sub-culture of yarn-lovers than academics. I digress. The point here is this: in the United States, we tend to be aware of only a few parts of Canada: those that touch the U.S., those that appear on U.S. television (i.e. Vancouver, although we are sometimes led to believe it is some faceless U.S. city), Toronto, or places where the skiing is good (i.e. Banff). We tend to ignore the flat bits that provide most of our energy.

Of course we ignore the flat bits of the U.S. that provide most of our food, too. In politics, the middle section of the United States are often called "fly over" states.

I've been ruminating over this for a while. Several months, in fact.

I have recently discovered Project Runway: Canada, and it is fab.u.lous. But here's the thing. It isn't just we Americans who are Ontario-centric. Of the show's 14 contestants, fully half hail from Ontario. Of those 7, 4 are from Toronto, and I'm pretty sure that a couple of the others are from what could fairly be called "Toronto-adjacent," although my geography isn't strong enough to be sure.

My point is if I am guilty of Ontario-centrism, so is the vast majority of Canadian media. Furthermore, I had to call this blog something and "Jess Moves to Southwestern Ontario and Socializes with Elites" doesn't have quite the same ring as "Jess Moves to Canada." Understand that I have only one experience of moving to this vast and diverse country. Someone who moved to Manitoba to farm cattle would have a completely different experience of Canadian culture than I am having.

But making observations about culture is my job, and I'm going to continue to do it. (Seriously, this is what musicologists do. I can't really turn it off. It is a little obnoxious, sometimes.) Just because they don't sell milk in bags in British Columbia doesn't mean that some of the observations I have found about Canadians aren't true across the board, and as true for the dude who makes my coffee as it is for my students as it is for Elisha Cuthbert, Dave Foley or Jim Carey. But there are also other cultures I comment on: for example that of 19-year-olds and that of crabby, sarcastic academics, and that's because this blog is about Jess moving to Canada. I can only report and consider my own experiences, and I'm going to carry on with that.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year's Wishes

I don't think New Year's Resolutions work. I've been a regular gym goer long enough to see what happens around Valentine's day: 6 weeks after they've been all excited about working out, getting into shape, whatever, over half of those enthusiastic people are no where to be seen.

I also found this year that I didn't really want stuff for Christmas. I have enough and my house is full. What I really wanted was to spend meaningful time with the people I care about. And I got that. Don't get me wrong, there is stuff I want or need in this world, but almost none of it would be rendered more meaningful because a friend or family member spent money on it.

So. For New Year's I have some wishes.

1. I am hoping for a sense of academic direction: lately I've felt a bit aimless and lost in my work. Now that I'm done with classes, I'm hoping that rather than becoming a slug person, watching Mad Men reruns, knitting, and eating pasta in my increasingly dirty apartment, I will instead get excited about my work again, and charge forward in a confident research direction.

2. I am hoping for the possibility of living in the same place as my husband.

3. I would like to spend more time with the people who are important to me.

4. It would be great if one of the multiple conferences I have sent abstracts to will say "yes, please come show us how smart you are."

5. I would like to be more goal directed in my fitness. Things sort of fell to bits after the race back in October, and I would like to get that back, without the burn out that I had in the highest mileage weeks before it. I would also like to have energy and fit better into my pants.

6. I would like to not feel guilty about knitting. Not guilty enough that I am able to start knitting with groups of knitters in London. That would be awesome.

Happy New Year's!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Private Holiday

5 years ago, my mother passed away.

I post this sad fact not in an effort to extort sympathy from my readers, nor to explain why, if you saw me, I was subsisting largely on Egg Nog Lattes and Moose Munch.

I still miss her every single day.

It seemed cruel, then, that her passing coincided with what had always been one of my favourite times of year. Even when I remember that she was very, very sick, and even when I remember that if she had recovered from the direct cause of her passing, she probably wouldn't be with me now. It still seems unfair that Christmas carols make me cry.

Now, I try to remember that her passing coincided with another winter holiday: the winter solstice. Most precisely, the day after the solstice; the day when the light begins to return. Yesterday was the shortest day of the year, the darkest, longest night. Some traditions burn fires on this longest, darkest night to call the sun back, to serve as symbols of faith that the sun will return, warmth will be restored, and the wheel of the year will keep turning. And tomorrow, the daylight will last a bit longer. According to Weather Underground, 1 entire second more of daylight.

And it is in that one second, meagre though it is, that I find my hope, that I find cause of celebration. Because as sad that I am that Mom is gone, in that one extra second of light, I can find hope. That one second of hope leaves me just a little bit stronger for all of those seconds when there isn't much to be found.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Surprisingly Good Weekend

So, remember how a while back, I predicted that my car was plotting something? I was right. I'm probably not psychic, but it is a nearly eight-year-old Saturn, and while Saturns are super cars, this particular one has over 144,000 miles on it, and so it is nearing the days when nothing more difficult that short trips should be asked of it. Friday, after packing up to go on a short trip out of town, loading the dog into the car, and setting off, it struck. Before I even made it out of London, smoke began pouring out of the hood. I said a few choice words, and then pulled over and called the auto club; upon peering into the engine compartment, I saw oil all over the place.

After the nice auto club man came and towed me to a service place, I, the dog and my overnight bags took a cab home, and I spent the next several hours fretting about what could be wrong with it, fearing that the call would come and would go something like this:

Service Advisor (SA): Well, ma'am, you aren't going to like this.

Me: More than I didn't like smoke pouring out of the hood? Are you sure?

SA: It needs a new fibity-widget, and that will cost $5,000 just for the part.

Me: Really?! But the car isn't worth that much. I could replace the engine with one from the scrapyard for that much! Hold on a second, I'm feeling a little woozy.

SA: So, should we go ahead with the repair, or would you like to talk to someone in sales?

My fretting, it turns out, was pointless, because the repair was surprisingly cheap-- a gasket related to the oil filter needed to be replaced, and the engine needed to be "shampooed." (Seriously... the air coming out of the vents now smells a bit like rug shampoo. Like I tell Sally all the time, I can't make this stuff up.) Whew. So after the cab ride to pick up the car, I was restored to my former level of mobility.

This morning, I talked to the Dear Husband using ooVoo for quite a while, which was very nice, as I think we are both getting quite lonely. We didn't talk about anything interesting or important, it is just nice to see him, even if it is only for a bit, and only over the webcam.

My goals for today went like this:

  1. Grade 7 papers (I started this morning with 28 left to go... at 7/day they'll be done by the end of Tuesday, which is my deadline.)
  2. Go to the library to return a book and pick up 3 more
  3. Acquire provisions for and bake cupcakes
  4. Outline a paper that is due in a week
So I took myself out for a waffle and eggs (yum!) and marked 2 papers over coffee, went to the library, where I became one of the only people on the planet to check out a play for the stage directions, then headed to the grocery store.

This is where my day really started to rock: I happened to look down as I passed a bargain bin of DVDs, and they had the 3rd season of Six Feet Under for $12.99. Even though it wasn't on my list, I had to. To add to the deal, the store was running a store-wide no tax promotion!

Now I'm making these cupcakes and they smell pretty amazing.

They don't look so shabby, either!