Thursday, May 25, 2006

A stroll down memory lane...

Brie goes for a run with us into the past

Nearly ten years ago was the first time I had made it down this path. Back then, I was a drunken teenager, toting a 2 litre bottle of Peach Canada Coolers down a steep and slippery slope. The goal: to reach the beach at the bottom, fondly reffered to as "Canadian Side." Now, being in Tsawwassen, we are pretty much on the border with Point Roberts, so yes there was an "American side" as well. Suffice to say, we never made the American side part of our summer nights out. Instead, we stuck to the tiny little beach that looked out over the Gulf Islands and the ferry terminal, where we would drink a hell of a lot, party and just act like the eclectic, rebellious, crazy, pot-smoking teenagers that we were.

I made a trip down to this beach the other day with a dear old friend of mine as he roped me into walking his dog, Brie, with him...yes he provided beer too, which sweetened the deal. He was back in Tsawwassen while his parents were out of town (whooo! Parents gone, house party!) and I had forgotten how cool his house was. Right on the bluffs above the beach. So with Brie in tow (actually Brie had us in tow) we made our way down to the waterline. We hashed about the good times, the drunken times; being chased by cops, finding people making out in the bushes (and getting caught doing this as well), having residents of the wealthy beach houses shine flashlights on us. As we walked over the shiny pebbles, worn smooth by the tide, I had a flashback to the first time I did mushrooms. I remembered how the pebbles moved together, like a thousand slithering snakes. Even now, it wasn't hard to imagine. Good times.

Nothing much has changed, except us. We have changed. We are older now and different...yet something still remains, I can see the teenagers in us occasionally coming out. I've still got a rebellious streak (nothing as bad as a certain someone who actually set fire to Canadian Side one fateful night, the last night I was there) and I still like to party while the sun is still up.

Oh yes, and they've put in a brand-spanking new staircase. That has changed. But I still prefer the old dirt path. You just never knew who you were going to fall on top of. Was all part of the excitement (plus provided to be a clever obstacle for the lazy Delta Police).

We capped the evening at the old bar. I recognized some faces, marveling at the fact that they still lived in town, looked the same. I wonder if they thought the same thing about us.

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The view from Austen's old room

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Can you call George Clooney's manager?"



And that, my friends, was the weirdest job interview question I have ever been asked. Not "what would you say your flaws are?" or "describe a situation that used the best of your ability," BUT "Can you call George Clooney's manager?"

Lemme backtrack a bit here. A few days ago, wrapped up in my post-grad haze, I stumbled across this ad on craigslist (which has become a bible of sorts to me): Movie producer seeks personal assistant. My heart leaped iny my throat. As I read over the ad, I found myself agreeing with it. Yes, I can make your dinner reservations. Yes, I can arrange for a hotel in Toronto. Yes, I will fly to LA on a regular basis. I quickly shuffled off my resume and a cover letter and hoped for the best. Then I got sick of hoping and phoned them. A cheery secretary answered and set up an interview for Tuesday (today) at 10:25 AM. Building 5, The Independant Film Alliance. Lions Gate Studios. Yes, THE Lions Gate Studios.

This morning I woke up groggy after tossing and turning all night. I knew that if it's meant to be, it's meant to be, a philosophy I subscribe to and what usually works for me. But it did little to qualm my nerves. A producer's assistant! I wanted to be that girl, the one who has to fetch coffee and arrange meetings with Robin Williams at Gotham Steak House (what, does he like live in Vancouver now?), the girl who gets phones chucked at her head and berated when things don't go right and gets propositioned on the producer's desk (OK, maybe not that last one). I want to fly to LA, pick up dry-cleaning and tell people I can "try and pencil in a meeting." Yet the more I thought about it, the more I realized, this doesn't really use my journalism degree AT ALL.

Nonetheless, I was a bit nervous when I arrived at the studio, my heart pumping from reckless driving over the Second Narrows Bridge. I was ushered into the studios by the guard at the gate and strode purposely past the crew of the TV series "Blade." When I found the office, I found myself sitting in the hall with five other girls. All pretty, all nicely dressed and all looking like they were born to be personal assistants. My confidence wavered.

And then a funny thing happened. I was just chatting to one of them about Journalism at TRU, when in walked Poonam. Yes, Poo was there. It took me a moment to realize it was her. I mean, what are the odds? Turns out she was there for the marketing job that was being offered at the same time. She seemed surprised to hear I was there for personal assistance. I don't blame her. But then again, she has all the PR and marketing experience and I have zilch. I can make coffee.

Then I was called in. Poo wished me luck. I stepped into a tiny office, flanked by movie posters of films the Producer had written and directed. One starred Krista Allen (who happens to be George Clooney's ex...I smell conspiracy). The Producer immediatley put me at ease. "Journalism, huh? See I look at you and think you should be on CTV." Well, that made me feel better. I should be on CTV. And the more we talked about writing and journalism, the more I realized I wasn't here for a personal assistant job at all. He informed me of a few writing positions available within the company.

"You seem confident. Would you feel comfortable doing things, say, calling up George Clooney's manager and asking for an interview?" I nodded yes. I WAS confident I could do that.

It ended well. I left feeling hopeful. Personal assistance may not be for me, but writing about movies, that I COULD do. The 2nd interviews are held next monday. Let's pray I'll get one.

On the way back, I stopped by Bang-Up on Robson (located by CTV) for a shirt. After looking at different shirts for about 10 minutes, the endearing young man who was helping me asked "Are you by any chance a TV personality?"

"No," I answered, "But I should be." It's one of those days.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Professional


I forgot to mention that I recieved a little cheque in the mail the other day (check, for all you Americans). My first paid writing peice for a little travel website called gonomad. com (not gonad.com). It's for only 25 USD but I figure, hey it's a start, and the best part of all it means that I am now a professional writer. You gotta start somewhere, right? Anyway, this whole experience has given me a little boost and so I have attempted to write my second article for the site, on the wonderful city of Berlin. Let's hope I can get this done by the end of the day, otherwise I'll never get around to it.
For anyone interested, you can view my article at http://www.gonomad.com/destinations/0603/tarragona.html
This may seem like shameless promotion (which it is) but they did tell me to try and get this link out everywhere. And I know only like 6 people read my blog but hey, you are very cool influential people (mwahaha).

Monday, May 22, 2006

Post Graduation Syndrome

I think I am suffering from a disease that doesn't have a name yet. Maybe it's not so much a disease but an affliction. It's called: Post Graduation Syndrome (I know I just said it doesn't have a name but this one seemed so fitting).
There are many symptoms of this affliction, the main one being a constant state of confusion. I am in a constant state of confusion. I don't know what is up and what is down. I am moody and irritable. I am restless and frustrated. I am ancy and nervous, self-doubting and lazy. I am having issues with everything and everyone.
Why? Because I am a recent graduate of University and thus am ill-prepared for the real world and whatever else may follow it. Maybe others out there are ready for this. I thought I was. My solution was to run away and travel. Well, I did run away and travel and now I am back. And what happens when you run away from your problems? You'll eventually have to meet-up with them someday. And since my little trip was only two weeks long, that someday came a lot faster than I had thought.
I had a list, you see, of things I had to eventually do when I got back. Things that needed to be done in order to transition myself into the "New World." The first thing on my list was: Start writing. And I haven't done that yet (does this blog count?). Which frustrates me because all I have to do is...write. And yet I can't. It's not writer's block because you can only have writer's block after you have attempted to start writing. And I haven't attempted yet. I just think about it and say "tommorow"...and then I repeat the phrase the next day.
The second thing I had to do was find a job. Now I am currently looking for jobs, but at what I thought was a casual pace. Looking online, here and there, scoping the scene and emailing my resume when something caught my eye, all the while thinking "when June comes I'll really start pounding the pavement." Then I thought about it. It's not like I want to be a waitress or something. Writing jobs are hard to find. The Internet really is your only ally and the work I have been doing thus far is about the most that I CAN do. Maybe it's all luck but it's kind of frustrating. I know what I want to do and won't accept anything less. However, in this industry and especially in Vancouver, good things are hard to find. Hopefully though, to use another cliche, good things come to those who wait.
The third thing that I had to do was find an apartment. And I did. I lucked out, a real steal, $635 in Vancouver Westside by Dunbar and Kerrisdale. One bright and airy bedroom basement suite with a fantastic garden and includes all inemities (except phone and internet). Now if only the other two "goals" will follow suit. Then maybe my syndromes will go away.
One down, two to go. Doctor's orders.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Why I don't watch sports


I've never really been a sports fan. Sure I played on the baseball, basketball and volleyball team when I was younger but that was more because I had to. Besides, I have always been more of a solo sport kinda person. Equestrian, tennis, skiing, kayaking...these are the things I like and probably the only thing sports-wise I like to watch (even though kayaking isnt technically a sport...and watching it would probably be very boring).
But all of that changed when I moved to New Zealand and I discovered Rugby. Not just rugby but the All Blacks. Here was a team I could get behind and cheer for. They were loud, proud and exciting to watch and had a whole country backing them up. I looked forward to going to local rugby games and watching the All Blacks demolish other teams on the telly.
That was until the beloved Blacks lost to Australia in the Rugby World Cup. That wasn't good for my blood. It angered me. I got too worked up. I didn't like seeing the Kiwis cry. I didn't like feeling hopeless. I felt that maybe if I yelled enough at the TV, they would win. It didn't work.
SO when I got up at 5:45 this past Saturday morning to go watch the Hearts VS Gretna game, I had completely forgotten about how riled up I get about this kinds of things. Plus, I was so tired, I didn't even know where I was. (turns out, a British ex-serviceman's club in Vancouver somewhere).
The game was supposed to be a cinch. Not exactly easy but since Gretna was a 2nd division team (or something like that) the Hearts were expected to kick their arse. Only they didn't. It took forever for someone to score. Gretna was playing their little arses off while the Hearts were kinda of hodge podging around. They were.."pants."
Ross was getting ancy. The other Scots were getting ancy. The little Scottish man with his homemade Heart heart couldnt even watch. Then we were up one. Then they were up one. Then it looked like it was all over.
I turned around in my seat and watched the Liverpool VS Westham game going on in the other room. I couldnt bear to watch the Scottish Cup so I decided to watch the English one instead. The tension was killing me. The tension seemed to be killing everyone else as well. Even in the other room, where half the people supported Westham and half supported Liverpool, the tension was frightening. I didn't have any ties to THAT game, so I felt safe watching it. But I didn't feel safe watching people's faces. Their game was tied like our game was tied. I realized that no matter what, someone always has to lose. At the end of the day, not everyone in this room was going to be happy.
Thankfully, that wasn't the case for us. Both games went into overtime and both went into the penalties rounds. The Hearts won. The Scots got up and cheered. The English looked on with feigned amusement. Perhaps, like me, they wanted to watch a game that they had no ties to.
We drove through Vancouver afterwards with the Hearts scarf flying out the window. And despite the traffic and us running late for our sailing appointment, my heart stopped racing and I felt like I could finally breathe. I made a mental reminder to myself, next time I have a lot riding on a game, I should cut down on my coffee.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The first time I ever...was tempted to start a footy riot



Here I am at a Footy "futbol" match in Madrid. Thought I would try and get a real glimpse into the Spanish culture and score some seats to a bona fide game. Only problem? I don't know anything about the game. Something about kicking a ball into a goal, yah I got that part. But the rest? Maybe it's because I saw the game in Spain and from the mumblings of my American compadres, apparently they do things a little differently.

First of all, it wasn't Real Madrid. They played the week before, while I was speaking overly-emphasized English to the Spaniards in the middle of Spain somewhere. No, unfortunately this wasn't THE team...and the only reason it is really unfortunate is because David Beckham is the only thing I can associate to the word "soccer" or "football." Oh and I think there is some player name Pepe but he might be in Brazil. Or maybe I'm thinking of an episode of The Simpsons. Anyhoo, no matter.

Back to the game. This was Atletico de Madrid, the OTHER Madrid team (and apparently, not the "real" one). Now, if I can get my game loyalties right, if you are a fan of Barcelona (who heads to play against Arsenal, the English team with a Spanish sounding name, in the EU Final next week in Paris) you are also a fan of Atletico. And from a few loyal Spaniards, Atletico is supposed to be pretty darn good. The key word here is "supposed" to be.

Cuz they weren't when I was there. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed myself. I was high up in the nosebleeds but the view was still awesome, and even though the sun was roasting us at 7 pm still, I think I got away with a sunny tan. But the game? By the time the 1st half was over and the score was 0-0 (they were playing against Mallorca) I was DYING for something to happen. Initially I was cheering for Madrid, along with the rest of the stadium. But after the hour had past I was eager for someone, ANYONE to score. Finally, in the middle of the second half, Mallorca scored. I cheered...internally...and prepared for the wrath of angry Madrid...ites.

But the surprising thing was, I think they were almost relieved that finally something exciting happened. Sure, a few people stood up and yelled "Puta Cona!" and other obscenities that I gleefully recognized, but that was standard practice. "Puta Cona!" wasn't good enough. I could hear that while standing in line at the supermarket. No, what I was expecting was a full-blown riot. I wanted beer cans thrown, old women hucked off of the stands, young children trampled, a mass exodus onto the field followed by a chase after the players. Yet none of that happened. Everyone just watched the rest of the game as if everything was fine. I was heartbroken. It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

To be fair we did leave the game 5 minutes early to avoid the sardine-like atmosphere of the metro back to the city centre. I like to think that all hell broke loose during that time.

AFTERTHOUGHT: in keeping with this football theme, I eagerly await for Saturday evening/Sunday night, when I will publish my next entry, roughly entitled "The Scottish FA Cup and My Adventures Drinking at 7 AM"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Lost in Translation, numero 1

"People from Vancouver are lista, inteligente, perfecta, guapa y tiento talento, besides gorgeous."
I recieved this text from Xavier via Peter's mobile last Saturday night. Tipsy on several glasses of sangria, I read it while walking unsteadly through the La Latina quarter of Madrid, beaming at the message and frantically trying to text back. For the first time in Spain, the translation wasn't lost on me. I actually understood what was being said. And what was better was that I was able to respond. Por que no? I replied. Why not?
To be fair, I had texted him earliar, saying "Los Espanols son unos tocapelotas. Vete a la mierda," which roughly translated into "The Spaniards like to touch the balls. Go to the shit." Not the nicest thing to say to someone from Barcelona, but considering he taught me those phrases the other day, my dirty Spanish mouth only made him proud.
When I first arrived in Madrid, everything seemed completely different. My view on life and on Spain was completely different. For one thing, I didn't speak any Spanish. And, of course, no one spoke any English. So all hopes of conversing and being welcomed into the culture were lost on me. I felt like a ghost wandering through the narrow, cobblestoned streets that were constantly being swept by street cleaners and pooped on by pigeons. It wasn't that I wasn't exactly invisble like a ghost, after all, no one could accuse me of looking like a Spaniard. But while I stuck out like a sore thumb, people couldn't really see "me." And I definetly couldn't see them.
Then, on a sunny Friday morning, after being packed with my gigantic backpack onto the crowded metro, I boarded the bus for La Alberca. I glanced warily at the crowd of people, some I knew from the night before, the others were the "Spaniards." Then we all found out that we had to sit with a Spaniard for the entire four hour journey to the town (which was located west of the city, by the border with Portugal). Aprehension and horror filled the faces of everyone on the bus, including me, including the Spaniards and including the Anglos.
But by happy accident, I got seated next to Elena. Pretty, with a cherubic round face and a gregarious personality, Elena eased me into the Spanish culture and a feeling of understanding. She kept apologizing for her bad English, although in all fairness, she was pretty much fluent. The fear of having to try and talkto and understand the Spaniards and having them try and understand us was suddenly erased. Elena understood me and I understood her. In fact, she wasn't much different from anyone else in the world. She worked in advertising but didn't like the cuthroat nature of the business, her boss sent her out to Pueblo Ingles to improve her business and conversational English, she's 30 and lives tax free in a historic Madrid flat that she up keeps in exchange and she has a "kind of boyfriend" an American who is leaving Spain in June to move back to Seattle.
By the time we had passed Salamanca and fields dotted with sun-coloured flowers and black bull signs, the four hours had flown by and we had arrived in La Alberca. My confidence level was up, as was Elena's. She had been just as nervous about this whole experience as I had been, and by being able to clearly express ourselves, we were able to see that despite the language barrier, we were very much the same. Of course, I don't live in a historic flat in Madrid (yet, anyway) or work in advertising. But really what we had found was that the human condition, our loves, lives and feelings, are all really the same. And only when we find out how to communicate these desires to each other, do we really discover how small a world it really is. Even if it's a dirty message via text.
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