Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Boxing Day in Scotland: Castles, The Hearts and Getting on the Piss

Right, well it's been a long time coming but here is my somewhat unreliable account of Boxing Day. Whereas Christmas was relaxing and fairly straightforward, Boxing Day was just one adventure after another. I don't know how we managed to pack so much in one day, but we did.

It helped that we were still a bit jelagged and got up at the early hour 7AM. It was a beautiful morning in Aberdeen and clear as can be. The sunshine and blue sky made it hard to believe that Aberdeen is considered by some to be a grey city. The only sign of this nickname lay in the shiny, granite houses which populate the town. This gives Aberdeen a uniform glinty, flinty look to it and in the sun it positively sparkles. There was something very refreshing about a town in which all the buildings
look the same. A conformity that you don't mind considering how majestic and grandiose each building is.


Ross decided that Boxing Day would be perfect to explore the nearby castles of Aberdeenshire. If anything, most people would be fighting over the sales at the mall rather than traipsing out to the hills (in the freezing cold, mind you) to gawk at castles of yore. So armed with meat pies, a road map and a book of Castles in Scotland, we set off.

Our first castle was Drum Castle, which was located a short distance (in Canadian terms) from Aberdeen. Ross hadn't been in the driver's seat for awhile and somehow we ended up on the castle lawn.


The castle itself was not as "castley" as the one I had seen in Carcassone (but come on, who can beat that castle).


Nonetheless it was a pretty good intro to the castles of Scotland, especially since there is quite a bit of history about the castle, which I blogged about in detail HERE (worth looking at if you're curious).


Of course that didn't prevent me from acting like a loon...

...galloping around the estate's massive backyard....

....and attempting to break into their wee chapel.

After freezing my tootsies off in the frosted fields of Drum, we continued onto Crathes Castle. Crathes also has an interesting story about it and is considered to be haunted...take a wee peek at it's supernatural history HERE.



Like Drum, I had started off being respectful to such historical relics (uh, if you don't count the driving on the lawn bit)...

But soon I was defiling it, just as before.

Which brings me to our next castle...or should I say, our "attempt" at the next castle. We headed off into the Scottish Highlands to visit the highly esteemed, Royal estate of Balmoral Castle. For those of you who know something about history, or just about stuff in general, you'll recognize that Balmoral is the Queen's castle which she uses primarily in the summer.

Our attempt got us as far as the castle gates, which were locked to us. Apparently they had gotten word that a silly, defaming Canadian girl was headed their way and while the Queen probably first said "Off with her head!" she relented and just locked us out instead. Boo.


After reluctantly giving up, we took a drive to the picturesque village of Braemar, which has apparently won some award for being a really nice village. I took an exciting* video of it for your viewing pleasure. (*exciting is a term I use loosely).


Disappointed with our Royal rejection, Ross decided to head off to the most interesting castle of them all - despite the fact that we were cutting it close to the Boxing Day Footy match between the Hearts (yay!) and the Hibs (boo!). It was a risk worth taking though because Dunottar Castle was the coolest one yet.



Dunottar Castle is located on an isolated seacliff that juts out into the North Sea and, over its long and vivid history, has been used by famous figures such as William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, and...Mel Gibson. I highly advise you to get the Cliff Notes version of its history HERE because it's really quite something.



The verdant greneery and vibrant ocean led to us taking many artsy shots...




...and some not so artsy shots.




Before we knew it though, it was time to go. And go we did as we rushed back to Aberdeen, just in time to see the Hearts and Hibernians match. We went to a local pub with Ross's father, fortunate that we found a pub that was even playing the game. The Hearts and the Hibs are Edinburgh's two big teams (the Lockharts are an Edinburgh family) and even though the match was guaranteed to be exciting due to their livid rivalry (think Rangers and Celtics), people in Aberdeen were obvious Aberdeen supporters. They weren't too interested in the match, but Ross, his father and I all watched in torrid anticipation.



Luckily, the Hearts won the game despite Hibs player Shiels shocking shove of goalkeeper Craig Gordon. You can watch it below as it comes up in the middle of the video.


Either way it was great to experience real Scottish football and pub life first hand (and so much better than dragging my ass down to see the Hearts play at the Veteran's Club in Vancouver at 6AM.


Of course, the castles, football and beer wasn't all we did on Boxing Day. We continued our follies by getting a posse together and heading into town for the night.


With everybody getting their drink on...


...and half of Ross's old high school chums showing up for the night, it was yet another introduction to the night life of Scotland. I'm a slow learner, you see, so I was going to take as many intros as I could get!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Three Days of Solitude


Well, the rumours are true. I have returned from my trip into the blue yonder and have joined the rest of civilization with vigor and new-found determination. Hopefully this will last more than a few days, but regardless the trip was a success. Proof?:

*I wrote 33 pages or 10,400 words of my novel, or the first two chapters (plus I plotted out the whole book)

*I read The Great Gatsby and A Good Man is Hard to Find

*I wrote my 1st essay, a 1500 word essay on the The Great Gatsby

It may not seem like a lot but it's certainly a start.

As I had mentioned before, I took the liberty of renting a cabin on an island for three nights. I figured that by isolating myself, I could get some work done and reconnect with ME.

I am naturally a solitary person. As a child I prefered to play by myself or sit in the corner alone and draw and write. I had friends of course, but in a pinch I would rather keep to myself and live in the giant imagination of mine. If I ever felt lonely, which was rare and is still rare to this day, I would just invent imaginary friends to play with. I even had an imaginary horse, but sadly he doesn't come around anymore.

Anyway, as of late, even though I am alone quite a bit, it was never quality time and I felt like I was missing out. My thoughts were preoccupied with family, money, boyfriend, doubts, jobs, fears etc. I felt like I was just going around in a circle of promising that things would change and then forgetting about it a day later. My creative drive was stifled and fading away.

So I decided to take the initiative and get away for a few days. Even though I didn't go far, just two hours away, it was enough for me to leave it all behind.

Of course, I wasn't completely out of the technology loop. There was a TV in the cottage, but I am happy to say I didn't turn it on once. I also had my cell phone there for emergencies. I was a bit torn about bringing it to begin with, but when I got off the ferry and found myself surrounded by falling darkness on a deserted and unfamiliar island road, the cell came in handy (I called the cottage owners to pick me up).

It especially came in handy when I realized I forgot my camera. Yes. Me. Forgot my camera. I didn't think that was possible, but there you have it. So, despite the totally shit quality of my camera phone, I was able to document some of my trip (see pics), and aside from a few random texts and calls to Ross, the phone stayed off and I was able to relax in complete isolation.

During my days I took many walks, which really got my creative juices flowing. When I was younger, being in nature, especially in forests or by the sea, always got my mind creating stories and plots and characters. This time was no different, and I often found myself hurrying back to the cottage to get my plot on.


The weather was excellent too, a good mix. The first day was clear as a bell and warm. Unseasonably warm. Note anything odd about the pic below (aside from the poor use of self-timer)?
It's the end of freakin January and it was too hot to wear my sweater!

The next day though was misty, grey and moody...a perfect primer for creativity. I found myself walking down a damp, lonely road and notices a meandering path leading into the woods. A small sign was marked "Beach Access" and that sold me on it. Even though I didn't know where I was going, I walked through the mossy forest until I came to a muddy, steep path that led down a precarious bluff. Even though it looked impassable, and the only way to the beach was by rapelling down the cliff using battered ropes, I decided that giving up and turning around was out of the question.

I can be stubborn like that.

I'm glad I kept at it and risked sliding down the slope to my impending death, for waiting at me at the base was an isolated beach. Devoid of any footprints and anchored on both sides by forested bluffs, I felt like it was my own private expanse, and I happily frolicked across it, collecting seashells and kicking up sand...and just acting like a complete moron (being alone can also do crazy things to you).
Even the usually busy sea traffic that traverses the currents of Active Pass was nonexistant. The only reminder that I wasn't completely alone in the wilderness was the occasional roar of a seaplane or the passage of one solitary ferry. Oh, and the four bald eagles that soared above my head and watched me from the nearby trees.

Anyway, my mission was accomplished. With no distractions except my own thoughts and nothing to do except read, write, walk and think, I got got everything I wanted done.

Now I am back in the swing of things and continuing to ride this creative momentum. All I needed was to get past that blank page that loomed before me like something bigger than life.

It might have taken a small sum of money, a willingness to enjoy my own company and a large box of wine but I got there.

And for anyone else who finds themselves wrapped up in their day to day lives, why not take time off, maybe just a weekend, and go spend some time alone with yourself (and not just in that way, wink wink). Even if you don't think of yourself as a solitary person, taking some time for you, and just you, once in awhile can do wonders for your soul. Like chicken soup, but without the chicken...or soup.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Blogger is a F*ck

Test, test test...Blogger FORCED me to switch to its new version by making my blog go all wonky and now everyone's comments are by "Anonymous" except for a select few...people's profile pics are gone, how am I gonna tell the Rachels apart? Anyone know how to fix this or where the people who made blogger live so I can kick them in the balls?

Sigh. What a way to come back to my blog.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Writer's Retreat & Five Things

Back to reality.

I can't bask in the glow of David Copperfield's love child forever, nor can I go back to complaining about lack of opportunities in my life. I've decided to do something about my stagnant state...

For the next few days, I won't be blogging. I won't have any access to the internet, to my cell phone, to television, to friends, to anything.

I've decided to be proactive and do something with myself.

I'm leaving tonight for Galiano Island, a Gulf Island located an hour's ferry ride from Vancouver. I'm going to a wee resort and am renting a cottage for three nights. I'm bringing my schoolbooks, my computer (again, no internet) and me, myself and I.

I think one of the reasons why I am having trouble starting my writing is that there is too many distractions in my life at the moment. Friends, boyfriend, family, job hunting, blogging, emails, etc. All of these things have been capturing my attention and giving me reasons to procrastinate.

The solution? A solo voyage to an island somewhere, where all I have to do is write, read, walk and be alone with a box of wine.

I'm hoping that I return on Friday refreshed and rejuvenated, with pages of writing under my belt and a school assignment or two completed.

Of course, I realize that this was Jack Nicholson's plan in The Shining as well, but hopefully I won't be terrorizing the other resort guests with an axe and chasing them around a hedge maze. Would make good writing material though...

When I get back though, you can bet I'll entertain you with tales of Scottish Castles, New Years Eve in Paris and Our Night at the Moulin Rouge. I promise!


But for now, I will leave you with the blogosphere's Five Random Things About Me:

1. When I was nine I started to read the World Book Encyclopedia books from front to back. I got to letter G and quit...I think I was 11 years old at this point and realized it was stupid. However, I now have a handy repetoire of useless information that I like to spring upon people at impromptu moments ("Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?"....wait, that's from Jerry Maguire).

2. I horseback rode competitively for 12 years. I even had my own horse for a year or two, Lady, but she was the devil in disguise. I ended up quitting riding at age 18 when I the horse I always rode, Diva, suddenly died. Though she and I didn't always see eye to eye (can't have two divas in the ring) she was a great horse and her death made it easy to quit. I recently bought new riding pants though and am looking to start up again, when I can afford to spend $200 a month on lessons or a half-lease.

3. In a pinch, I have a hard time distinguishing between left and right. I feel this is a product of falling off a horse one too many times.

2. When I was 13, I decided to become a paleontologist...no doubt brought out by my inane love for the movie Jurassic Park. This went on for many years and I have a wide knowledge of dinosaurs now, including all the different types, the periods in which they lived in and the world's best paleontologists (Robert Bakker, etc). However, once I realized that I would need to know math in order to do a science degree, I pushed that dream aside. Math blows.

1. I was given laughing gas at the dentist when I was 10 and it was my first experience tripping out. I haven't been to the dentist in years because I know that they want to pull out my wisdom teeth and I want to prevent that for as long as possible. However, I also made it my new year's resolution to go to the dentist this year. I know if they gave me laughing gas again I would be over there in a shot.

I guess I'm supposed to tag someone with this (as in they have to do it too). Hmmm, I pick Kass and Robyn.

All right, that's it, I have a ferry to catch.

Wish me Bon Voyage!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

My Magical Night with David Copperfield

Now before I get started, I just wanted to say that I know that there are going to be some rumours about this. But I just want to make some things clear.

Yes, I did kiss David Copperfield last night...a few times. But he kept coming back for more!

Yes, I did grope and squeeze David Copperfield's bum last night. But he wanted it!

Yes, he and I did have a lovechild called Bambi (I saw the sonogram after all).

And yes, he acheived all of this by wooing me with chocolates, his picture, a single rose, a delicious cone of vanilla ice cream and a massive jar of pickles.

Unfortunately, he fucked off (magically disappeared) after that and all I am left with is this rose and his autographed picture. The status of our lovechild, Bambi, is yet to be determined. But Ross is kind of miffed that Mr. Copperfield beat him to it.

Sound all too magical to be true? It's not. Let me explain...

The other day, Ross surprised me with David Copperfield tickets. The famous magician/illusionist is in Vancouver at the moment and I jumped at the chance. We are always looking for fun and new things to do and I had never been to a magic show before...what better way to start than with the "Greatest Illusionist of All Time?"

After all, this was the man who made the Statue of Liberty disappear...and was engaged to Claudia Shiffer.

So we went to the performance, playing at the Center for Performing Arts downtown. We were kind of hungover to begin with, thanks to our wine and beer fest we had the night before while working on our new script. So, even though it was an early show (5PM) I wasn't too inclined to get dressed up...nor did I bother with hair or much makeup. After all, no one was going to pay attention to me...it's not like I was going on stage.

So we get to the theatre and yes, I do feel a bit underdressed (but ask my friends and they'll tell you that my "underdressing" is really dressing up for them), nonetheless I had on brown boots, brown skirt, brown tank and a VS red and purple striped sweater...totally didn't go together, but again, whatever.

I have a glass of wine before the performance and then Ross and I make our way to our seats. I am very impressed with his seat-picking. We were on the aisle, about 5 rows back from the stage. David Copperfield was going to be performing right in front of us!

The show started with a montage on how famous David Copperfield is...clips from The Tonight Show, Conan, movies and Friends (the episode where Chandler is upset that Janice put David Copperfield on her freebie list). It was entertaining...one of the clips had Conan O Brian doing his monologue.

Conan O Brian: David Copperfield has announced his newest magic stunt where he vows to get a girl pregnant onstage without touching her. They are calling the technique "The Tom Cruise."

I laughed at that, while at the same time wondering, how the hell could he do that?

Before I could think about it any further, the show started. Fog appeared, lights were shining, deep music boomed. An empty box was brought on stage by his black-clad assistants...let me emphasize EMPTY.

Then it was covered in a sheet, then the sheet was taken off to reveal...David Copperfield on a Harley Davidson!

Quite an entrance if you ask me and a great way to set the rest up the rest of the show.

David is actually a really great entertainer...part comedian, part vaudeville and part "how the fuck did he do that?"

So, Ross and I were watching the show intrigued but what he was doing with ducks and scorpians and cards and sheets of metal when Ross noticed one of the black-clad people kneeling beside his chair. She put a sticker on the floor next to him, gave him a "sorry" look and then fucked off.

Ross turned to me and whispered, "Um, I don't like where this is going."

I told him not to worry (he has a fear of being pulled on stage and embarassed, but who doesn't have this fear?), it was probably just a staging marker.

However, that all changed when Mr. Copperfield announced he wanted a female volunteer to be "impregnanted" by him on stage...right now.

Though there were a few hands up in the audience, he nevertheless walked down our aisle...followed by a camera...towards Ross and I....

But he kept on going up the aisle, past us, towards another female. I breathed out the biggest sigh of relief because for a second I thought he was coming for me. Sounds egotistical? Maybe, but knowing my luck...me in my mismatched outfit, me in my hungover, crap makeup state. Me in my, face turns red, I hyperventilate when singled out kind of self. Yes, it was one big sigh of relief.

Then he stopped at the end of the aisle...and walked back towards us.

He still hadn't chosen the girl yet.

Then I noticed the camera had stopped right in front of me and Ross. And was filming us.

OH SHIT, I thought and looked at Ross, terrified. This DIDN'T look good, after all.

Then David stopped right beside Ross, looked down at me, held out his hand for mine, and all I could think was "This fucking figures."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, David Copperfield had chosen me, MOI, to be the girl to carry his child. What are the freakin' odds?

So there I am, camera in my face, David Copperfield leading me by the hand to the stage.

He puts his arm around me, pulls me close to him and whispers in my ear:

"Grab my butt."

Being a good pupil, and totally not ready to mess with the Man of Magic, I oblige, to the squeal of the audience.

"Grab it lower."

And so I do that as well. And I can't help but realize that poor Ross is watching his girlfriend grab David Copperfield's ass in front of thousands. And the funniest thing is that Ross thought I had grabbed his ass just cuz I felt like it. Tell me, who would do that, let alone me? Maybe George Clooney's ass, but I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes. The ass-grabbing. I let David lead me onstage and he puts me in a chair.

"Have we ever met before?" he asks me.

I don't remember my answer, I must have said no...but I was also laughing at the crazyness of it all. On the outside anyway. I was screaming on the inside, saying "WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING ONSTAGE WITH DAVID COPPERFIELD" and "GOOD LORD I HOPE I DONT REALLY GET PREGNANT."

He asked me a whole bunch of other things, but I don't remember because the bright lights were in my eyes and I thought I was in some trippy dream.

Then he hit Marvin Gay's "Let's Get It On", a huge burst of steamy smoke surrounded us and he attempted to woo me with a tricked out briefcase full of chocolates, flowers and such. And a really big cucumber...to which I, and everyone else, laughed at.

I could go on to say and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened...but the funny thing was, I don't remember much. As I said, I was kind of out of it, just smiling and laughing at whatever David said, trying to ignore the spotlight in my eyes and the fact that I was in my mismatched outfit in front of a crowd of 1,500 people. Oh, that he was trying to impregnate me.

Well after he produced another briefcase, this one with a false back which I'm not sure if I was supposed to see since he gave me this "look" with his eyes (if you aren't sure of the look, be sure to check out the parody of him on this Conan clip) which is how he was able to take out an 8 litre jar of pickles out of it...and a vanilla ice cream cone.

He gave me a cone and instructed me to lick it to make sure it was real...it was...and then told me to lick it again. Pervert.

He then asked who I had come here with.

"My boyfriend," I squeaked, "Though after this he will probably be an Ex."

He wiggled his brows at me, "I wouldn't worry about that. I'm on your freebie list."

Ahh, the classic Friends reference.

I wish I could explain what the actually trick was, but being onstage you kind of miss the whole picture. All I know was that I was rigged up to a sonogram machine, you could see this "child" on the screen, that two random girls were chosen to choose the name of the child (Bambi) and that this sealed card that had been placed at the front of the stage earlier was opened to reveal the name Bambi.

I don't know how he did that (nor how he did anything that night), but at one point I looked down at the "nurse" who was giving me the sonogram and she whispered "keep watching David"...so I dunno, perhaps if I was aware and had any idea of what was going on, I would have picked up on some secrets. Then again, probably not.

My bit ended shortly there after, and I was instructed to walk over to him, kiss him on the cheek and walk back. Of course, David, being the charmer he was, insisted I give him more than just one kiss. Many more.

Before I went off stage though, he gave me his autographed picture, and a single red rose. Child support though? Not so much.

I went back to my seat, blushing like hell, while Ross looked up at me adoringly. He gave me a proud hug and whispered, "You were great up there. It looked like you belonged...cool as a cucumber. Which he also gave you."

I'm glad I gave the impression that I knew what I was doing because inside my heart had been pounding a million times a minute, my chest felt tight, my breathing quick and my head was spinning.

But on with the rest of the show. It was stunning.

He made people disappear and reappear in Hawaii, he made himself and a girl disappear on this platform that was right above Ross and my head's...there was no way that could have been possible. He also made a Chevy car appear onstage with randomly selected (and they are in fact randomly selected, I am proof of that) people set all around, so there was no real way for that car to get on stage.

As his final act he made 13 memebers of the audience disappear and reappear at the other end of the theatre... that was pretty much physically impossible considering it happened very fast and I was watching them at ALL times. And I know that no secrets of where they went will be spilled because, they all had to sign confidentiality agreements not to reveal where they went or what happened. I found that out after with a little research...cuz Ross was thinking of hunting down the audience members and bribing them.

Anyways, that was my magical night of illusion with David Copperfield. Not only did I enjoy an AMAZING and MEZMERIZING show but I was actually part of the show as well.


Funny, isn't it?

One minute I'm complaining about the lack of opportunities in my life, the next minute I am fondling David Copperfield's bum.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Random Bitching Friday (or Would you like some Whine with that Cheese?)

So, it's Friday. I don't have a job so that doesn't really mean anything to me anymore, except that I get to bitch about what ails me. Of course, I could bitch any day really, it's my blog after all, but after so many fluffy posts about Scotland and Xmas and France and cute boyfriends and compliments and cooking, I think a little change of pace is good.

So let's start Random Bitching Friday with the fact that it is Friday and how that once joyous day has no meaning to me now.

It's not that I am not looking for work, I am, but getting frusterated at the lack of writing/PR/Journalism jobs in Vancouver. The problem is that when there is a job I feel capable of doing, they all ask for years of experience. Only, I don't have years of experience, I just "graduated" for fuck's sake, but the three months I did pull as the Head Writer and Editor (an on-camera personality for a bloody video that never freakin' aired) for the horrible IFA, did provide me with as much experience as working somewhere for a year or two. I was thrown into it, I floundered for a bit but I rose above it and came out with a whole load of new and saleable knowledge.

Of course, I very well know that I might not even get a job related to my field, which pisses the fuck out of me because then what was the bloody point of going to journalism school if I can't use it? Regardless of that though, what I really want, even if it has nothing to do with journalism or writing, is to at least like my job. Now, when I was video game testing at EA (which was as unrelated to journalism as I could get), I was bored half the time (OK, all the time) and I barely made enough to support myself. But I did not mind coming to work and I never took my work home with me. If only I could find a job like that but with writing. But I guess that's asking for a bit too much. Only a few lucky fucks get a job they like right off the bat and in a field related to what they went to school for. Do I expect to get a job writing about traveling to different countries and making enough to support myself? No. I've been told by some that that is reaching too high.

Funny thing was, when I did apply for a job that was "beneath" me, they didn't hire me because they said I was aiming too low! So what does this prove? Don't listen to people? After all if I'm always reaching too high or too low, how am I supposed to know what's in the middle?

And what if I don't want to be in the middle? Ahhh, then come the "you have to start somewheres," "everyone has to pay their dues" and the "you'll work your way ups" and the "don't expect so muchs" and the "you never know where it might leads" and of course the classic"a little hard work never killed anyone." See, when people tell me this, I get the feeling that they aren't exactly listening to what I am saying. And what kind of encouragement is that?

Do I expect to get my dream job? Fuck NO. Though, I only say that emphatically because some people have told me not to expect it and to "settle" for something a lot less.

Ahhh, so that's that bitch of the day. Thanks for standing by.

Oh wait. I'm not done yet.

Has anyone been getting calls from this number: 1-877-289-5108?

Because I have. A LOT. They never leave a message, and I never pick up because it's too pricey to answer my mobile before six PM. But finally, after getting the 10th call this week from this number I decided to look them up. Turns out I'm not alone:

There is a local forum devoted to this number, as well as a blog.

Who the fuck are these people and why don't they leave me the fuck alone? Arg, there is nothing more annoying than the sound of a ringing phone. Thankfully I have never answered (and now never will) so they don't actually know if the line is active or not. But SHEEESH, you think they would have gotten a hint by now.

***
There is one note of positivity here...I swear I'm not in THAT much of a foul, brooding, bitter, angry mood.

Last night I met up with Jen(Expat Traveler), which was awesome since I had never met any fellow bloggers before. Seriously, I think blogging has become the new way of networking.

She had told me about this presentation by Fiona Scott, called Babe in a Backpack, which was going down at the SFU Harbour Centre downtown.

The presentation was about Fiona and her slideshows as she visited 24 countries around the world.

Fiona was very entertaining and outgoing and made a great host. In her early 30's, her trip was the first real traveling she had ever done and went at it alone (bit of a late starter but she made it work for her).

Now the event would have been great for people who had never traveled before (and I had a feeling that since the majority of the audience were past middle age, they weren't exactly taking heed of her solo trekking adventures), but to Jen and I it was kind of redundant.

After all, Jen had lived in Switzerland for many years and being from California, is an expat herself in Vancouver. I've also lived abroad and traveled solo as a backpacker. So the tips on where to stay (hostels, duh), how to get around and why not to be afraid going solo were all kind of lost on us. We knew all this already.

If anything, the presentation was a bit of a kick in the pants that I needed to actually do something with myself...and hence my brooding, bitter mood.

See, Fiona is now writing a book called "The Backpacking Bible for Babes" which should be coming out later this year. Some of you may remember that I actually was researching the market to put out a similar book, a year or two ago. Of course, it never came to anything because I soon lost interest.

Also, Fiona, via blogging about her travels, discovered she has a knack and talent for writing and now is a writer for Outpost, as well as various other magazines, newspapers and websites.

I have a million travel tales to share, but am I doing any of this? No.

Thanks to my brilliant self-doubt and succinct procrastination I am not doing any of the things I should be doing, things I want to be doing. I am, without a doubt, the only cause of my profound unhappiness (about my "career" of course, everything else in my life is fine).

Now before any of you people point this out, yes I am bitter and yes I am jealous. I don't think it has anything to do with thinking I don't have talent, because I apparently do, but with sheer drive and determination. This is a woman who knew what she wanted, went out and got it. She actively pursued the sponsors to put on her event (one of several), joined the writing center at SFU to help with her book and basically went out and marketed the crap out of herself.

Now, why can't I do that?

The most positive thing about the night though (aside from finally meeting Jen) was the gift bag. It had my name on it:


Unfortunately it also contained a huge GAP Adventures guide which has only filled me with more wanderlust and itchy feet frustration.

Sigh. It's gonna be one of those days.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Halloween!

Just kidding, it's Christmas, of course.

Now before I go on about my Christmas, even though yes, it was almost a month ago, I must stress that I've experienced a whole range of Xmas's in my lifetime.

I've spent Christmas Eves alone while a family member has gotten too drunk (and not in a funny 'haha' way) and had to be rescued. I've spent Christmas alone in my big house while my parents were off galavanting in Mexico. I've spent Xmas with my Aunt in Sydney, which was nice since I got to go to the beach later with a cute boy and eat prawns for Xmas dinner. I've spent more than a few Christmases in other warm places such as Palm Springs, Hawaii and Mexico...all complete with tinseled palm trees. I've had Christmas dinners at friends houses because I was too pissed off at my own family to spend it at mine. I've had Christmas in Norway which was way cool since we got to cut down our own Xmas tree.

But I've never had Christmas at a boyfriend's house, and certainly not one in Scotland.

Xmas started when I woke up at 530 AM to see Ross getting dressed. Since we had been drinking the night before, it kind of shocked me to see him up so early. I mean, crazy early. Surprisingly, I was sort of awake as well. But I ignored it and went back to sleep until about 7 AM.

This is when I was roused by my jetlag and decided to go downstairs and see what he was up to in the wee hours. Ross by this time had been awake for awhile and had already done a load of laundry. His parents were just getting the preperations for the day started and force-fed me coffee while his dad exclaimed, "Getting up at 530 to do laundry...what have you done to our son?"

I had no answer to that so I just paid attention to the dog.


Now I had heard rumours that Cat is usually the one who gets up early on Xmas morning and runs around waking everyone up. Ross got to take that roll this year and did so with glee. I believe he may have shouted in a few people's ears and jumped on a few beds. Eventually, everyone came down the stairs, grumbling at the early hour and tsking with amazement that Ross and I were actually up and raring to go.


We proceeded to go into the living room, where the stockings were ever so carefully laid out. As you can see, Mrs. Claus has some super sexy stockings...


Inside my stocking it was like Xmas! Yes, you see usually what I get in my stockings at home is something I put in them, so there is no surprise. I'm the only one in my family who actually likes Xmas and therefore tries to keep the spirit going by stuffing the stockings myself. So instead of finding a chocolate bar that I had put in there, this time I got a whole heap of really cool stuff.


I got stickers that are just like those little retro pictures I post on my blog, plus Scottish stuff like a book on Robbie Burn's poems and a CD of similar songs, L'Occitane verbena wipes and a magnet (crucial for hanging pictures up on my fridge). It was like it was tailor made for me. Ross got socks, which made him happy since he's been wearing his landlord's socks for the last few months (erm, I really hope Don doesn't read my blog, Ross).

Then came time for PRESENTS!

We were off to an excellent start as I received an awesome pair of purple silk pajamas of which I promptly put on, and Ross got this beautiful suede jacket from Ben Sherman and Burberry (maybe) scarf, all from his parents.


This was very exciting for me, considering what I normally get from my own parents consists of this:

Ooooh, a broom and wow...
A flashlight. Thanks mom and dad!

Flash forward to the present and I am as happy as a pig in the shit, especially since the giving didn't stop there. His sisters (and their men) gave me heaps of books, silver earrings with amber stones, a Marks and Spencer soft pink scarf, a handcrafted leather purse from Lyon...even his grandparents gave me a shimmery, teal scarf. And I never even met them! I think the dog even gave me something (when he wasn't too busy munching on mandarin oranges...that dog eats everything!).


Everyone else was happy with their presents too, especially Cat's present to Jo...


...who recieved the raunchiest (and certainly gayest) calendar I have ever seen. It's of the French Rugby Team and oh la la...I spent hours flipping through that thing, as it generated a lot of laughs and some gasps (especially from their poor mum). You can watch a Youtube video of the making of the Dieux De Stade calendar here, but be warned, you won't like it if you don't like tight rubgy-playing buns and French shlongs...must be fun being in their scrum.


Ross's parents really liked their presents from us as well...I had gotten them Ice-Wine from BC and fancy cheese from Amsterdam, while Ross and his siblings chipped in on tickets to the Sydney Opera House (his parents left for an around the world trip just the other day). I think his mum teared up a bit.


Even the dog got a wee companion...


But of course, I can't forget what Ross and I gave to each other...


I had already gave Ross new Homer Simpson slippers back at home (he had been wearing my rejects for quite awhile, I think there was mold growing on them), and now gave him an H2O shaving kit, and a silver and doeskin bracelet I picked up in Mexico. Now this ain't cheap Mexico silver, if that's what you're thinking. Luckily, Ross was looking for some wristwear and loved it.

Just as I did his present. The minute I saw the box, I knew he had outdone himself...


Inside was a beautiful Swarovski crystal and 24K Gold necklace...


and from another angle (warning: no makeup...but note the pretty amber earrings from Jo)...


It was, and is, the nicest present I have ever recieved. He picked it out by himself too and did a wonderful job. For my bday he had given me a gold and silver bracelet and this also alternated between the metals. It goes with absolutely everything and totally lights up the room.

After that I was in Xmas bliss. We spent the rest of the day lounging around, watching Ricky Gervais Politics, A Lot Like Love and taking a wee nap. We were awokened out of it though by the smells of Xmas dinner and a champagne toast.


Followed by a scrumptious and elaborate Xmas meal fit for a King...and Queen.