Thursday, May 29, 2008

Out of commission

Sorry for the lack of blog posts lately. I'm recovering from oral surgery and it's taking a lot longer to return to normal than I expected. Plus, it's kind of hard to think clearly when you're doped up on painkillers.

It was supposed to be a simple surgery but it turned into an epic production. I had to be put under so the surgeon could remove two adult teeth that had never come down. The teeth needed to be taken out so that there would be room to put in implants when my baby teeth fall out (yes, that's right. I still have two baby teeth. You want to talk about being immune to aging? Peter Pan has got nothing on me).

But when the surgeon opened me up, he couldn't tell tooth from bone and spent the next three hours cutting my teeth into little pieces to extract them from the jawbone. To make matters worse, I kept waking up from the anesthetic.

They told me I woke up several times during the surgery but I only remember waking up once. I wasn't fully awake, though. Everything was very foggy. I felt like I was underwater. I remember hearing the drill. I remember moaning. I remember hearing the doctor say something about giving me morphine and I felt him stick a needle in my mouth. I remember hearing the drill again. I tried to open my eyes to let them know I was still awake but I couldn't move. And then I slipped back into unconsciousness.

You might think it would be horrifying to wake up in the middle of surgery. But it wasn't. I was so out of it that while I was aware of what was happening, I didn't care. I simply didn't care. And I say this as someone who suffers from extreme dental anxiety.

It was kind of like waking up from a dream and then falling back asleep again. I don't know what kind of drugs they were giving me but whatever they were, they were very, very good.

Anyway, it's been a week since the surgery and the pain is finally starting to ease off. That's not to say I'm no longer in pain. Everything still hurts, just not as much. My mouth is still too sore to chew and I've been on a diet of soups and smoothies for the past seven days.

On the upside, I can fit into my skinny jeans and my puffy lips make me look like Julia Roberts. And it's always better to lose teeth as an adult rather than as a child because you get treats like valium and morphine instead of a lousy quarter from the Tooth Fairy.

I've been off work all week and have been doing nothing but lying on the couch watching movies. So I thought I would post some mini movie reviews up on my blog until I'm off the pain pills and can think clearly again.

Lars and the Real Girl: Very good. A little precious but not overly so. Didn't think the community's acceptance of Lars' mental illness and his plastic girlfriend was very realistic but was touched by the movie nevertheless. (Although am not entirely sure if warm, fuzzy feeling was due to the movie or the percocet.)

Let's All Hate Toronto: I watched this one twice. But only because I fell asleep the first time. I liked the concept of a traveling "Toronto Appreciation Day" but the execution was a little flat. It wasn't as funny as it could have been. Needed Rick Mercer in the lead role.

Onibaba: Weird, old Japanese movie. It was kind of annoying and boring at first. Started getting into it towards the end of the movie. Overall, pretty good (again, that may be the percocet talking).

Suicide Club: Another weird Japanese movie. Thought it was going to be a thought-provoking film on Japan's high suicide rate but turned out to be a violent slasher film with lots of blood and gore. Plot seemed to be missing but strangely entertaining.

Extras (Season 1 & 2): Brilliant. Is it just me or is Ricky Gervais playing the exact same character on Extras that he played on the Office? It's like watching a show about David Brent after he quits Wernham Hogg and decides to become an extra. It's still awesome, though.

27 Dresses: Horrible. I love bad chick flicks but this was just bad. Follows every romantic comedy formula but without any laughs along the way. Thought I would be able to relate since I am always a bridesmaid, never a bride. But main character got married in the end. Stupid Hollywood ending. How about a movie where the girl never gets the guy and ends up alone for the rest of her life?

Tsotsi: Very good. Depressing, though. Alternated between emphasizing with Tsotsi and wanting to smack him upside the head.

How She Move: You can't ever go wrong with a movie about a girl who dances her way out of poverty. It's been done before but it never gets old. Bonus points for being set and filmed in Toronto. Minus points for reshooting the movie and removing the references to Toronto.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: Also very good. Very bleak but not overly so. Enjoyed the sarcastic humour. Felt like a baby for whining about tooth pain.

Souvenir of Canada: Excellent. Had feelings of national pride while watching this. Canada is a good country and Douglas Coupland is a fine ambassador.

Sex and the City: I have free tickets to see this at 9:30 tomorrow morning. Should be fun.

And on that note, I'm heading back to the couch for more movies. Hope to be back to my normal blogging self within a week or two. Until then . . .

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The great dog experiment

If a dog is a man's best friend, does that mean a dog is a woman's best friend when it comes to meeting a man?

I decided to put this question to the test.

I'm not sure if this is exactly what my friend Annelle had in mind when she asked me to dog sit for the week. But I figured since I have to walk the dog every day, why not turn it into a social experiment?

I want to find out if having a dog by your side makes a difference when it comes to meeting men. In theory, it seems like a no-brainer. A dog is a natural icebreaker. You can easily strike up a conversation with its owner. Just pet the dog, ask its name and go from there.

All I had to do was put my four-legged wingman on a leash and let him work his magic. Over the past few days, Dougall and I have logged half a dozen hours walking up and down Main Street, across Queen Elizabeth Park, through the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood and over every patch of grass in between.

Dougall has attracted lots of attention. But not the kind I was hoping for. Women and children can't resist cooing over him. Unfortunately, the number of men who have stopped to pet him remains at zero.

It's not for lack of trying. I think Dougall knows I'm using him as a babe magnet and he is doing his part to hook me up. On one walk, he pretended to chase a squirrel down a driveway where a hot, shirtless guy was washing his car.

On another walk, a cute guy was sitting at a bus stop with bags of groceries at his feet. As we passed by, Dougall stopped and stuck his head deep into one of the bags as if it were his own personal feed sack.

But the bus stop boy seemed annoyed, rather than charmed, by Dougall's deviousness.

The experiment is failing. Judging by the amount of women who stop to pat Dougall's head, using a dog to meet people would be a great idea for a guy. It just doesn't seem to work in reverse.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Almost summer

Kits Pool opens in three days! This is almost as exciting as the time I won $20 playing nickel slots in Las Vegas.

I can't wait to come home after a long day at work and walk across the street in a bathrobe and flip-flops for a relaxing dip in the pool. (Only in Vancouver can you get away with wearing a bathrobe in public.)

For those of you who don't live here, there are 10 things you need to know about Kits Pool:

1. It's the longest pool in Canada (at 137 metres long, it's almost three times the size of an Olympic pool).

2. It's filled with salt water (so you feel like you're swimming in the ocean but without the risk of accidentally swallowing gross floating things).

3. It's heated (but not too warm because the large volume of water means there is less urine per cubic metre).

4. The pool bottom is painted white (which turns the water an unbelievably brilliant shade of blue).

5. The pool is right on the beach (with unobstructed views of the North Shore mountains, the Pacific Ocean and the city skyline).

6. There is plenty of eye candy (you can always find hard-bodied triathletes posing on the pool deck).

7. It's open late (so you can watch the sun set on the Pacific Ocean while you swim).

8. It's open early (so you can watch the sun rise over the city while you swim, although I've never actually done this nor do I ever plan to).

9. People in Vancouver are wimps (so when it's cold and rainy, you will get the entire pool to yourself).

10. The pool is directly across the street from my new apartment (post-swim party at my place!).

I've been watching the staff clean and fill the pool over the past few weeks. I took these pictures on the weekend and it looks like everything is good to go for the big opening on Saturday.

Summer is almost here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A photo that needs no caption

I felt a little pervy about pulling out my camera and taking this picture. But then I figured if it was okay for these showboaters to sunbathe on a public stage, then it was okay for me to take their picture and post it on the internet.

I mean, if you're going to lounge around half-naked on an amphitheatre stage, you're going to get an audience.

Oh, Kitsilano. Never a dull moment.

Where else can you find skinny white people with dreadlocks playing hackeysack, girls with fake boobs carrying yoga mats, shirtless guys reenacting the beach volleyball scene from Top Gun, stoners sitting on benches smoking pot, bleached blondes wearing oversized sunglasses and shrink-wrapped outfits, and, of course, showboaters sunbathing on a public stage?

Douglas Coupland described the neighbourhood best when he wrote that Kits is "where all those beautiful, athletic, fun-loving, Jeep-driving beer drinkers" from the beer commercials live.

"Kits is so perky it almost begs the question, 'Does it have a dark side to it?' The answer to this may well be no, which in itself is a kind of darkness."

Friday, May 09, 2008


I had always assumed that when people talked about making big plans and radical life changes that they never really meant it.

It's one thing to talk about wanting to shake things up. It's quite another to actually do it.

When I was living in Japan, I became friends with a young Japanese teacher who worked at the same junior high school I did. Tomoko was one of the few teachers who spoke her mind and whose emotions always bubbled close to the surface.

She loved her students but she hated her job. I found her weeping in the staffroom more than once.

The first time Tomoko burst into tears at work, some of the teachers got angry. When it happened a second time, they started to give her the cold shoulder.

To me, she just seemed like a normal 29-year-old stuck in a career she didn't enjoy.

In a way, we were both outsiders and I think that's what drew us together as friends. We started hanging out together after school and on weekends.

Tomoko was refreshingly open and honest. While most of the other teachers kept me in the dark about what was really going on at school, I could always count on Tomoko to give me the dirt. She told me about the kid who got suspended for biting a teacher, the kid who got busted for shoplifting hair spray and the teacher who was on the brink of divorce thanks to a pachinko addiction.

Tomoko was one of the most openly subversive Japanese people I'd ever met. She didn't like Japan, she didn't like the cultural emphasis on hard work and long hours, she didn't like her job, she didn't like Japanese men.

It's not that she was a negative person. She just felt like she wasn't living the kind of life she wanted to lead.

"I'm sick of Japan," she'd say. "I want to go to Canada."

She wanted to quit her job, move to Canada, work in a sushi restaurant, study English and date a Canadian man. Before I left Japan, she told me was going to apply for a one-year working visa.

I knew she was serious about wanting to come to Canada but I didn't think she'd actually do anything about it. It's not an easy thing to trade comfort and familiarity for risk and uncertainty. It takes a lot of courage to change.

So imagine my surprise when an email from Tomoko popped up in my inbox last month saying she had quit her job and booked a plane ticket to Vancouver. She had already lined up a host family, an English school and a possible job. And she was arriving at the end of April.

Talk about guts!

Tomoko has been in Vancouver for about two weeks now. Having her here is both weird and wonderful. It's weird because the context of our friendship has been reversed. Now she's the one adapting to life in a foreign country and I'm the one stuck in a career path I'm not sure I want to be on.

Having her here is wonderful because it's a reminder that my time in Japan isn't just a collection of photographs and memories that will fade over time. I made real friendships with people who will continue to be a part of my life for years to come.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Big pimpin'

For reasons unknown to me, the lovely Rebecca of Miss 604 fame chose to profile me as part of her series on Vancouver bloggers.

My interview is now up on her website. Rebecca is kind of a big deal in the B.C. blogosphere so I was surprised when she contacted me to see if I would mind answering a few questions.

It's almost as surreal as the time a National Post reporter phoned to interview me about my butt.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Around the world in 18 months

After months of procrastinating, I finally got around to sorting, culling and organizing photos of my recent round-the-world adventures.

Japan, Borneo, Korea, China, Mongolia, Siberia, Russia, France, Tofino, Indonesia. The best of the bunch are now up on my flickr page.

They were all taken with a cheap, pocket-sized camera so if you're looking for National Geographic quality photos, you'd better look elsewhere.

Of the hundreds of photos I took during my travels, my dad liked this series from a Shanghai train tunnel the best. I don't know if that was a testament to my poor photographic skills or a reflection of his blood alcohol level at the time.

[Interesting fact: My dad was so inspired by these photos that he wants to start a campaign to install similar lights in the TTC subway tunnels. He's trying to figure out how to mobilize the Laser Floyd crowd.]