Friday, September 06, 2013

Back From Summer Sabbatical

Oh, hi. It's been a busy summer but still, not really. Here's a brief catch-up in pictures and a few words. 

BIKES

23 JuneThe British Cycling Road Championships were in Glasgow and we went along to cheer on my favourite cyclist, David Millar. (Alas, he came third. Mark Cavendish won, of course). 


CANADA (IN THE UK)

1 July: We were invited along to a pancake breakfast at the Canadian High Commission in London. 







Oh, dear. A Canada Day faux-pas. The breakfast was sponsored by Clark's Maple Syrup, who proceeded to give out free recipe pamphlets - which included a recipe for AMERICAN pancakes. Oh, for fuck's sake.

Canadian High Commissioner to the UK, Gordon Campbell, opening the Canada Day celebrations at Canada House.




Canada Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square, which included street hockey, overpriced shitty "poutine" and "butterscotch pancakes". Not to mention ONE Canadian beer for sale: Molson Canadian. Now, this was my first Canada Day celebrations that I have been to in London, and I hate to say it but it was a massive let down. I thought for sure that there would be stalls selling hard-to-find Canadian goodies like Canadian wine, Tim Horton coffee, Hudson Bay stuff, MAPLE SYRUP, and other fairly obvious Canadian stuff. Instead, there were corporate stalls set up by Blackberry (ok, a Canadian invention, sure, but I didn't go to Canada Day Celebrations to get the latest Blackberry), Canadian Affair airlines and other corporate shills I didn't bother to go around to.  Gutted.


 Tattoos: One of the best parts of my trip to London, was the opportunity to get tattooed at one of the best studios in the UK: The Family Business. Everyone in the shop was super nice, accommodating and not to mention very talented.


 BLONDES HAVE MORE FUN



Hair: blonder / shorter. 

And finally, the song of the summer:



Enjoy your weekend, y'all x

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oh, Yeah. I Have a Blog

Guess I took an unannounced sabbatical from blogging, huh? I guess that happens when you're busy living offline, doing shit. 

So, here's what's been happening: I got a large(ish) tattoo on my back, after wanting one for YEARS. I decided what I wanted and finally had it done. BOOM. That's the kinda thing you do when you're terrified of what your future may or may not hold. 

I moved. After a year and a half of living by myself in a cute little flat in Partick, my boyfriend, G, and I moved in together. We're still in the West end of Glasgow, but just a wee bit further North. We've also had to purchase proper furniture (well, Ikea actually) and at 33, I sort of feel like an adult!? Only, I'm not. I keep waiting for someone to come and take it all away from me because surely I'm still just a kid and can't be trusted with all these adult responsibilities...!?

ILR - I've finally managed to get my arse in gear and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. I passed the Life in the UK test, scrounged up almost £1000 and sent away my application - along with my passport. Apparently it can take up to 6 months so I am thus marooned in the UK until further notice.  

Being happy. It's disgusting, right?! How dare I. In reality, being disgustingly happy is actually kinda boring. No drama; no stress; no blow ups or outs: just easy. Like a Sunday morning, I guess. 





Friday, February 01, 2013

FLY YOUR FREAK FLAG


I know it's cliched and indeed, perhaps even predictable, but since my recent surgery, I've been feeling a little bit more bold. Actually, that's not entirely correct; I've been feeling more confident about who I am and what I want. Which isn't to say that I've suddenly become some arrogant blowhard - quite the opposite. I suppose what I feel is a sense of calmness? A (foreign!) serene understanding that life is finite and precious and if you're lucky, you might be able to squeeze out a few hefty decades from your time here. And for anyone who has ever survived the cruel years of Grades 6 to 8, you know that it takes a whole lotta courage and resilience to be who you are and do what you want in this life. Going from a healthy 33-year old to an exhausted and frail patient, made me appreciate that even more.

Funnily enough, a couple days after surgery, my wonderful and kind boyfriend was helping me into bed. My abdominal muscles were (and somewhat still are) swollen and in pain and as such, I couldn't lean back into bed without help. With my arms wrapped round his neck, my boyfriend slowly eased me into bed. Several times I yelped for him to stop because the discomfort and pain was unbearable. After about three unsuccessful attempts, I broke out into tears; never in my life had I felt so vulnerable; so helpless. I was frustrated that I couldn't do something for myself that I so desperately wanted to do. Ultimately, it made me realise that at a very basic level, I don't like feeling that; I don't like feeling like I can't do something - or not do something out of fear. Even something as silly as cutting my hair.

You see, right before Christmas, I cut all my hair off. Big deal, you think. To me, however, I thought it was. I've had long mermaid hair for YEARS and to be totally honest, I was afraid that if I cut it all off, guys wouldn't see me as attractive anymore. And although I would define myself as a feminist, I was still valuing my self worth on men's attention towards something as stupid as hair length...?! In my own mind, I had associated femininity and attractiveness with long hair (despite this being utter bullshit), and I was scared of doing something that I wanted to do - something as simple as cutting my own hair! Ridiculous, I know! As soon as I cut it, however, I felt actual joy. Funny, huh?

Anyway, I suppose what I'm trying to say is: life is short so be courageous and let your freak flag fly high.

p.s. I'm getting a tattoo :)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

AN ODE TO THE SMALL BUT MIGHTY ADRENAL GLANDS

Remember that health scare I had back in the summer? Well, thankfully it's (almost) over.

To cut a long story short, doctors found what appeared to be a 7cm cyst on my right kidney. It didn't appear too sinister, however, as a lot of people (although usually over the age of 50) have kidney cysts and don't even realise it.

However, after further unsavoury tests and being passed around various doctors, it turned out to be attached to my right adrenal gland. Indeed, it was engulfing my right adrenal gland because it was so beastly in size. What are the adrenal glands, you ask? Oh, just two wee glands that sit atop your kidneys ("kidney hats", you might say), and without which, you would die as they are essential for day-to-day life. Prior to this episode, I had never heard of them; now I am in awe of all the intricate matters of life they are responsible for.

Unlike kidney cysts, tumours/cysts/growths of the adrenal glands are quite rare and because I am so fucking exclusive, my genetics decided to go ahead and grow one. You could, like I did almost daily, google "adrenal gland" and "tumour" and sob at your desk due to overwhelming fear factor of it all. Or you could, like my boyfriend and Mom, reassure yourself and others that even though tumours of the adrenal gland are rare, cancerous tumours of the adrenal gland are even rarer.

And so, after about 1.5 months of waiting, my time was finally up and last Tuesday, I went in for surgery to have my right adrenal gland and its uninvited houseguest removed via laparoscopic surgery. It was my first time experiencing surgery of any kind as well as anaesthetic. And now, after experiencing both, I am actually astounded as to how anyone would ever opt to have elective cosmetic surgery!? The effects of anaesthetic, on me at least, were intense; I went under as a healthy and active 33-year old and awoke as an exhausted, chain-smoking old woman. No one really warns you how tired you feel afterwards and worse, no one really told me (apart from my physiotherapists), to expect to cough up almost an entire cupped hands worth of phlegm (gross, I know).

Anyway, I am so thankful for all the care I received over the last few months - especially from the anaesthesiologist at Gartnavel General, who didn't dismiss me or my fear of needles/ IVs and offered me diazepam and hand-numbing cream; nor did she laugh when I asked, "where do you go when you're put under?" Apparently you don't dream and it's not really sleep - you're just .....really really passed the fuck out, like in a coma? They're still not really sure, apparently. There's a really interesting interview from NPR worth listening to, if you're fascinated/ weirded out by it all like I was.

I am also grateful to the kind nurses who helped me recover when I was in hospital, following surgery. It also goes without saying that I am eternally grateful to my Mom, who flew all the way over from the West Coast of Canada, to be here with me during surgery and after. Not to mention my supportive and grounded friends, who calmed me, answered my questions, took me to appointments and held my hand as I fainted during tests. And to my lovely boyfriend, who didn't fob me off when I sobbed, thinking it was the end of the world like a true drama queen. Thank you.

Now on to the gruesome and gory pictures. Close your browser now if you don't want to see post-op pictures and NHS food.

Ready?



So, you've been fasting for 24 hours and wouldn't mind some dinner to help speed up recovery. You enquire about the veggie option for dinner. You're told it's cauliflower and cheese, with some potatoes. You lift the lid and lo! It looks like the post-morphine puke you did earlier, all over yourself, in the wee hours of the morning. MMMmmmm.....

Following night's veggie dinner was tomato and basil pasta. Dessert was ginger cake, smothered in custard (blech). The tea, however, was ace. Fellow patients in my ward dined on fish and french fries. Anyone else find it odd that hospitals are feeding people french fries? Just me?

Ever wondered what your body might look like post laparoscopic right adrenalectomy? I've got you covered, bro!







Seriously though. Thank the mighty Aneurin Bevan for the National Health Service, even if they do still have visiting hours (grrrr....)


xoxo

Monday, December 24, 2012

Yuletide Greetings


Ok, you know what? Say what you will but one of the most exciting things to happen to me recently is this (as pictured above); I chopped all my hair off. Traditionally, this is something that we womenfolk like to do when we go through a tumultuous break-up, start a new job or move to some exotic far-flung corner of the earth.

Thankfully, I haven't experienced any such events (she says, tempting fate) but rather, I've had a pretty joyous few months (despite health fears and concerns). A lot of the time we go from month to month and suddenly here we are yet again, scrambling to get ready for Christmas and what to do of Hogmanay!? I've spent most days/ months, amazed at how lucky I've been this past year.

2012 started with uncertainty - I had no idea how the year was going to fair. To my utter astonishment, it turned into a year of falling desperately, madly, disgustingly head-over-heels in love (with a Scottish man, no less!) So, who knows what 2013 will bring, eh?!

And with that, Merry Christmas. Bring it on, 2013.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Guide to Dating Scottish Men


*Not a true representation of "Scottish Love"

I get a surprising amount of emails from women - mainly American and Canadian - about dating Scottish men: e.g. what's the difference between a Scottish vs. North American dude; what does it mean when a Scottish guy asks them out for a drink with all his friends and so on and so forth. Most of the time I respond because they're just looking for advice/ perspective and as everyone knows, I have publicly lamented about dating in this country so I am more than happy to pass on what I have learned, if anything.

Nevertheless, I thought I should try and attempt to offer up my advice once and for all - albeit, at the risk of repeating myself.

Please note, however, that I am approaching the dangerous and controversial territory of dating in Scotland, from a North American perspective, and you may run the risk of being misinterpreted as "too forth right".

Firstly, I won't question why it is a Scottish man in particular that you want to date because hey, I get it: you saw Gerard Butler in a film once and dug his accent and assume that all Scottish men are that rugged and handsome. [Side note: I saw Gerard Butler walking down Byres Road a couple weekends ago with this current-model girlfriend, and although my heart was a flutter at the idea of Gerard Butler, in reality it was a bit of a let down as he looked pretty hung-over].

As a Canadian dating in Scotland, I initially found it quite difficult as there isn't the same culture/ tradition of dating as there is in North America. Back in Toronto, it wasn't considered strange/ too forward for a guy to approach you and either: (a) just start talking to you SOBER and/or (b) offer to buy you a drink. The same cannot be said about Scottish men, I'm afraid. Which brings me to my first point:

1. Scottish People Speak in Code: This takes some getting used to. For example, it's not really polite to directly ask someone what they do for a living. Sure, that is the second thing we ask each other in North America, right after "What's your name?" but not so in the UK. So instead, you need to find these sort of details out in a roundabout way. You will need to carry out a careful conversation and only when it is hinted at, may you ask someone what they do or openly try to guess. The same can be said about asking someone if they're single/ married. Sure, you may be used to being directly asked this by a dude in Canada but over here? Not so much.

You see, here in the UK/ Scotland, there is a lot more happening than what would appear on the surface. For example, in a busy bar, rather than a barman/woman openly asking who is next (although sometimes they do), there is a subtle social interaction taking place. Without uttering any words, the server will know who is to be served next, just by making eye contact with thirsty patrons at the bar. If the server incorrectly eyes someone who is not next in line for a pint, they will usually shake their head and point at who should be next - if they're a decent human, anyway. Obviously if you're a patron at a busy pub in the UK, you can't wave your hands or make a point of being FORTH RIGHT and saying that you're next; SORRY, that's just the rules, Yanks. What can I say, they like rigid social codes over here.

So, if you happen to find a Scottish lad who you like and you think may like you, I would say this: HANG IN THERE, GIRL. Eventually all will become clear (hopefully).

The thing to remember about guys - Canadian, American, Scottish or otherwise - is that they tend to show you how they feel. Sure, they may not literally tell you but on the other hand, if they're making an effort to see or arrange to see you: what's that telling you? Which brings me to my second point:

2. Scottish guys - on the surface- have limited emotions. Look, I don't make the rules, just the observations, ok? But in my experience, there seems to be a more old-fashioned approach to how men are perceived and portrayed in the UK than in Canada. In Glasgow, at least, people talk about the "hardness"of the cities inhabitants; it's not called a Glasgow Kiss for nothing and Glaswegian men are allowed to show limited emotions: anger (usually when their football team loses), elation (usually when their football team wins) and general day-to-day being at peace with the world. That's it.

Now, obviously this is a sweeping generalisation and not true of all Scottish men. Indeed, I would say that it's rapidly changing for the better. However, I still think there is some hang over from the "olden times" when it was generally encouraged for men to be the "strong and stoic" type. Clearly I don't approve of such encouragement because I think it's important to remember that men are a lot more complicated and dare I say it, delicate than we let them be.

So, remember: there is a person beyond that limited Man Box exterior.

3. (a) You might need to go to the pub more: Look, we'll probably never even come close to what our Scottish cousins can partake in, booze wise, but you might as well start trying: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Sadly, this is where a lot of the action is. In Canada, we usually go to other people's houses to get shit-faced but over here, people go to a pub in order to pay twice as much to shout over loud music. The one thing, however, that you won't get at a lot of Canadian house parties is one thing that the Brits/ Scots excel at: playful banter.

3(b). Scottish people love and appreciate a good chinwag/ banter. There are many things I love about Scotland and Scottish people (humour, landscape, friendliness) but the one thing that really makes me fall for this country is their sheer delight at a good chat/ rant session. Whereas we Canadians are a lot more utilitarian when it comes to words, the Scots are playful and cheeky. If you want to date a Scottish dude, be prepared for some verbal jousting; these people can talk rings around us.

4. Scottish people don't really date: I said it before and let me elaborate more: Scottish people don't have the dating culture that we do in North America; they don't even like to say the word, "date". The word and idea makes people uneasy - perhaps it is, once again, too forth right and too straight-forward (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) Scottish people wouldn't think too much about sleeping with a near stranger they met in a club, but asking for their number and to take them out for a meal? No.

This isn't a judgement on a nation - just a mere lifeline for confused North American ladies.

5. Get used to having the "piss" taken out of you: So you find yourself on a NON-DATE/ JUST HANGING OUT WITH a Scottish dude but he seems to continually make fun of you. Don't be offended rather, chin up, doll, this means he likes you!