Sunday, March 26, 2006

I'll ride shotgun while you drive me crazy

Why do people always assume I'm screening* my calls when they get my voicemail?

Every message left on my home phone is the same.

"Hey, Sarah. It's [insert name here]. You're probably screening your calls but . . ."

I'm starting to get a complex. Why does everyone automatically assume I'm sitting on the couch screening my calls? Why doesn't it occur to them that perhaps the reason I'm not answering the phone is because I'm not home?

For the record, I go out. A lot. I have a very exciting life. So that's probably why you're getting my voicemail.

* Okay. Maybe I do screen my calls once in a while. But why does everyone have to make it sound like such a bad thing?

I hate doing things I don't like doing

I hate doing laundry. I hate grocery shopping. I hate cleaning the bathroom, paying the bills, doing the dishes, answering the phone and fixing things that are broken. I also hate vacuuming and ironing.

All of this never-ending domestic drudgery is so tedious and time-consuming. I thought we were supposed to have robot maids in the 21st century. What happened?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Today is David Suzuki's 70th birthday

It's hard to believe David Suzuki is 70 years old. Have you seen his body? The guy is in better shape than most 20 year olds.

He is also the most passionate, hard-working person I have ever met. The man is my hero.

I just wish he'd run for the Liberal leadership. But he won't. He hates the way politics works in this country. He's not exactly the kind of person to tow the party line.

Sometimes David can be really hard on himself, saying things like "I don't think I've made a damn bit of difference." This makes me depressed because a) it's not true, and b) it sort of is true.

I like it when he tells stories because he is a gifted storyteller and he's had a pretty fascinating life. My favourite stories are the ones he tells about his childhood.

Did you know he and his family were sent to an internment camp in B.C. during the Second World War after the Japanese attacks on Pearl Harbour (even though his parents were born and raised in Canada)? During the three years the Suzuki family was interned, David played in the mountains and fished with his dad. It's where his love of nature really took hold.

I like this story because it reminds me a little bit of my own childhood. Mostly just the part about fishing. When we were kids, my dad used to take us fishing every summer. It was never really about catching fish. It was more about being on the lake, listening to the silence, studying the rocks, enjoying the scenery.

My parents also liked to take us to Kortright Conservation Centre to walk in the forest and watch nature films. Most of our family photo albums are filled with pictures of my mom (her hair parted in the middle, two braids hanging down to her waist) stomping through the woods somewhere with my dad, who had one of us kids strapped to his back.

It was my parents who nurtured my love of the outdoors but it was David Suzuki who made me care about it. This happened when I was in Grade 10 and Mr. Ranucci was my science teacher. He was young and gorgeous and cool. I sat in the front row, right in the middle, directly in front of his desk. I think Mr. Ranucci was the first man I ever really loved. (It was unrequited love, of course.)

One day, Mr. Ranucci made us read an essay about the sad state of the world. The author was David Suzuki.

That essay changed the way I thought about things. I suddenly "got it." I've never actually told David this. Maybe he would like to hear it. I don't know. Maybe he's sick of hearing these kinds of stories. So maybe I'll just wish him a happy birthday instead.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What's weight got to do with it?

I'm no fan of "Prime Minister" Stephen Harper. But I would never stoop so low as to make fun of his expanding waistline. It's not right that he's being skewered (here, here and here) for putting on a few pounds.

Give the guy a break! Who cares if he has a blubbery belly? Let him eat cake and drink pop. Stop giving him a hard time for not exercising. When is he supposed to find time to work out anyway? The man is running the county, not the Boston Marathon.

What if we had a female prime minister and the media kept writing about her big jiggly ass? People would be up in arms, yelling about sexism and size-ism. How is making fun of Harper's paunch any different?

I got into an argument with a friend yesterday who said Harper's weight shows he lacks self-discipline and will-power and is, therefore, unfit to lead the country. I call bullshit.

George W. Bush is super fit. He runs and bikes a lot. But he's not exactly doing a bang-up job as president. Being physically fit does not make you mentally fit to run a country.

We should judge our political leaders on their character, not their weight. So don't pick on Harper for being pudgy. Pick on him for being a homophobic, right wing, evangelical Christian with creepy laser eyes instead.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Can't stop listening . . .

I am completely and utterly addicted to this CD. There is not a single song on the entire album I don't love. I have listened to it so many times in the past two weeks that it's practically surgically implanted in my CD player.

I realize I am coming to this discovery a little late. But I've never pretended to be on the cutting-edge of anything. It was my brother who recommended I pick up the Bloc Party's Silent Alarm. So, mad props to Daniel Marchildon.

From now on, I'm going to let my brother dictate what I read and listen to. The guy has impeccable taste in books and music. Also, if there are any ladies in the Toronto area reading this, my brother is single. He's cute, funny, smart and athletic. Plus, he has five amazing sisters. I think he's, like, 25 or 26. Or maybe he's 24. I'm not sure how old he is. But he's available! And he likes good music!

Speaking of being way behind on awesome things, I finally saw March of the Penguins this weekend. What an incredible story that was. And the cuteness factor of the baby penguins was off the charts. Emperor penguins are now my new favourite animal of all time (knocking kittens out of the number one spot).

Friday, March 17, 2006

Learning French is fun! Especially when you have a hot teacher

I've spent the past week polishing my French, which has been left to rust in the far reaches of my brain.

I bought some books and CDs and took the week off work to completely immerse myself in the language. I locked myself in my apartment for five hours every day and did nothing but write, read and speak French. And for my final exam, I unleashed my (still rusty) French on a gorgeous Frenchman last night.

The Vancouver Francophone Cultural Centre puts on a free social event every Thursday night where you can practice your French with native-speakers. You just sit around a table with random strangers and chat. Of course, you can only speak French.

My friend Lorena convinced me to go with her last night. It was exactly the sort of practice I needed, especially because the guy I got to practice with was a dark-haired hottie from Nice.

Actually, it wasn't really good practice at all. His dazzling smile and sparkly eyes kept ruining my concentration. Instead of paying attention to what he was saying, I found myself thinking "I don't know what you're saying and I don't care. Just keep talking."

I had to tear myself away from him and talk to other (less attractive) people around the table in order to improve my French. I managed to last about an hour and a half before my brain felt like it was going to explode from the effort. But it was fun.

Lorena and I have decided to make this a regular Thursday night thing. Je voudrais aussi acheter des chaussures!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Bad Google: What do people find when they Google you?

There's a highly entertaining article in today's National Post about the rise of the bad Google. The bad Google is what happens when you're embarrassed by what turns up when you type your name in a Google search.

For example, I used to have the third biggest butt on the Internet. If you went to Google, did an image search and typed in "big butt," there it was. My little butt was the third image to pop up on the screen. Out of thousands of pictures of the world's chunkiest bums!

And now the story about my high Google ranking in the "big butt" category is chronicled in today's newspaper.

I felt slightly ridiculous talking to a National Post reporter about my ass. She interviewed me on the phone while I was at work, and I spent most of the conversation trying to block out the sound of snickering coworkers eavesdropping on the other side of the cubicle wall.

I told the reporter I found out about my bad Google after I started getting e-mails from guys with ass fetishes who wanted to chat.

In case you're wondering how my butt ended up on the Internet, it's all very innocent. I posted a picture of my (clothed) butt to go along with this story about how I was packing some extra junk in the trunk after I couldn't exercise because of a foot injury.

Eventually, my bad Google disappeared. I guess they discovered my butt's not actually big.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Revenge, rivalry and retribution

It's only taken me six years but I've finally figured out that swim meets are not a great place to pick up guys.

I assumed that competitive swimming as an adult would be like high school all over again. But it's not. It's nothing like high school. Back then, swim meets were sexually charged events where the pool deck was packed with hard-bodied teenagers in heat. You could barely smell the chlorine through the pheromones.

Masters swim meets are much more restrained. The official motto of Masters swimming is "Fun, Fitness and Friendship," which is really just a nice way of saying "more beer bellies and fewer flat tummies."

[Note: I've always wanted to change the slogan from "Fun, Fitness and Friendship" to the more catchy "Revenge, Rivalry and Retribution." I even wrote about the idea in a newsletter article a few years ago but my proposal never really went anywhere.]

Anyway, a bunch of us from my swim club took the ferry to Victoria yesterday to compete in a meet. I decided to shake things up by swimming the 100-metre backstroke for the first time in about five years. It didn't go very well. I posted a 1:27.08.

That may sound like a respectable time but let's put it into perspective. In 1992, Mark Tewksbury won the gold medal at the Barcelona Olympics when he swam the 100-metre backstroke (it was also last time a Canadian swimmer won Olympic gold, by the way. A little swimming trivia for you, there. Who says this blog isn't informative?)

Mark Tewksbury swam the 100-metre backstroke with a time of 53.98 seconds. I swam it 33 seconds slower than he did. In a sport where winners and losers are separated by hundredths of a second, 33 seconds is an eternity.

For those of you (hi, mom) who are actually interested in these things, I've posted the rest of my results from yesterday's meet below:

- 50-metre butterfly: 36.40 (1st place)
- 50-metre freestyle: 31.96 (3rd place)
- 100-metre backstroke: 1:27.08 (3rd place)
- 400-metre freestyle: 5:41.07 (4th place)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


I'm officially adding my voice to the backlash (or "Crash-lash" as it's now being called) against Crash's best-picture Oscar win.

It's baffling to think Crash was voted the best movie in 2005. Not only did it not deserve to win, it didn't even deserve to be nominated. Crash was one of the most unoriginal and simplistic analyses of race in America I've ever seen. The characters were nothing more than one-dimensional stereotypes. They weren't even characters. They were caricatures.

Crash is not a serious film about race. It's an uninspired after-school-special about race with an ending so tidy it makes me want to vomit.

Or, as J.T. of Parkdale Pictures says, "It was like a bad liberal lecture driven by the utterly absurd premise that the only way people in LA relate to one another - and thus address hang ups of race - is by crashing their cars. No, the only way it happens is if racist cops pull a black guy out of his car and beat him to near death. That gets people talking."

So how did Crash end up winning the Oscar for best picture? It's no secret that the Academy loves to honour "progressive" or "controversial" movies so it can be seen as a forward-thinking organization.

But there's a catch. These films can't be so progressive or controversial that they're not palatable to the masses. Which is why the Academy ends up honouring middlebrow crap like Crash. That's my theory, anyway.

"The truth is that Crash is a perfect selection for the Academy because it's the type of film that makes white Americans feel guilty, but not too guilty, about that country's racial divide," my film buff friend Dan Brown surmises.

One last thing . . . it irks me that Paul Haggis stole the name of the film from David Cronenberg's darkly erotic movie about people who get off by crashing their cars. That Crash is a great film. This one isn't.

Monday, March 06, 2006

You can take the girl out of Toronto but you can't take the Toronto out of the girl

Sometimes living in Vancouver is like living in a foreign country. There are certain cultural norms I'll never quite understand.

For example, it is considered rude to ask someone you just met what he or she does for a living. If you go to a party in Vancouver, no one will ask you where you work. It's just not done. Sometimes it takes months before the subject ever comes up.

Either everyone in Vancouver hates their jobs or they're simply more interested in other things. I was at a party the other night and not one person asked me what I did for a living. I was, however, asked if I preferred snowboarding or skiing.

I've gotten so used to not talking about my job that whenever I go back to Toronto I find it jarring to be asked where I work. Especially because it's almost always the first question I get asked when I meet someone new.

When I first moved to Vancouver, it was refreshing to be asked "What do you do for fun?" instead of "What do you do for work?"

Now I just find it weird. It's not that I’m dying to tell people where I work. I don't mind not talking about my job. But it's odd that it almost never comes up in conversation. There's something deliciously ironic about how militant most Vancouverites are about propagating the city's laidback lifestyle.

I'm not saying it's a good thing or a bad thing. I'm just making an observation.