Thursday, April 27, 2006

Have i mentioned that Alfredo Sauce does not exist in the UK? Or, at the very least, in Scotland?

Such is the existence i have forced upon myself.

Sure, they have Carbonara Sauce (which contains pig - yuck!), but alas no Alfredo Sauce! How i long for Classico Sun-Dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce! i even asked someone in the grocery store if such a sauce existed in this country and they just stared at me. Can you believe that the British - for all their tea, democracy, and Graham Greene - have been living without Alfredo Sauce all these years?!

Nonetheless, i am learning to adapt and be creative with my pasta. i've also had to adapt to the strange smell of yeast that lingers over the city. Apparently it's the smell of beer brewing but really, it smells more like burning tires and my brother's socks from when we were teenagers (sorry, Jason).

In other news, i already have penciled in my friend, Sara, who is coming to visit me at the end of June. Perhaps i can muscle her into bringing me some Alfredo Sauce along with other Canadian goods. And because of my recent employment, i have also been thinking of going to the Cactus Festival in Brugge, Belgium, this July to see the one and only TRAGICALLY HIP (the "heroes of Canadian rock", respectively). Now i know that the Hip are so not cool to all you Toronto Hipsters, but honestly: lighten the fuck up. i saw The Hip about 6-7 years ago in our mutual hometown of Kingston (ok, i am more from the CKWS region - shout out to CKWS) and honestly, they rocked. The hip totally rocked out and i became a fan right then and there. So, due to recent events of Great British Pounds that will be flowing my way soon, i have decided to try and get back to Belgium this summer to see the Hip and partake in the best food in the world.

Honestly, i love Belgium.

i also eagerly await the PROMISED visits from my fag, Bitter Queen, and my comrade in arms, Angie. (ANGIE: i know you read this, so get your ass in gear and book a flight already!) My brother has also promised to visit but you never know with that one...
One month and three interviews later, i finally have a job!

Not only am i relieved, but also excited! Although the job isn't directly related to film or television, it is still within the entertainment field. i will be working as an assistant to a very influential individual. And that's all i can say.

Thanks to my Mum for all the interview coaching sessions!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

i'm pretty sure i saw my first junkie on Tuesday. i've seen my fair share of sketchy Neds since landing in this fine country three weeks ago, but had not seen anything that can compare to what i saw the other day.

i was standing in line at the Maryhill Post Office (which, in and of itself is not the nicest area of the West end) in order to purchase Scottish Power cards. For all you non-UK folk, some flats are equipped with a "pay as you go" electricity plan. Rather than a monthly bill that comes through your mail slot, you buy £5 cards and insert them into the electric meter and are immediately credited. It's bizarre and anal and has thusly made *me* even more anal. i have become hyper-aware as to how much energy i am using and how to conserve more. Thank you, Thatcherism!

Nonetheless, i was standing in line to get some £5 cards for the meter, when i heard a screeching behind me. i could barely make out what the words were meant to form but it sounded like, "Muuuuuuuuuum!" i turned around (as did the entire line-up) and was confronted with a horrific sight that i will not forget anytime soon. A boy who was probably about 15, but looked more like 50, was standing and holding his track pants up with his hands. Normally track pants have an elastic waist which expands around human girth in order to stay in place. However, this young chap was so thin - sickly thin - that he was having to hold up the elastic waist with his hands. His face looked like Skeletor on a good day. His bulging yellow eyes were met with oozing open sores on his face. And that's putting it lightly.

Granted, i did live in Parkdale, Toronto, for the last 4 years and did see my fair share of literal crack whores and people tweaked out on meth. i was even so lucky as to see an actual drug deal before my eyes. However, i have never seen an actual H junkie - especially one so young; it was extremely shocking and sad.

In other news, i have moved into my own flat and i love it. It's strange to actually have my own place in Glasgow, and to adjust to the strange ways of life here. i have yet to open an actual bank account yet - and i have tried unsuccesfully about 4 times now - as i do not have "official" mail yet. Basically, i am waiting for Scottish Power to send me something that i can take down to the bank authorities.

It was a fucking breeze coming into the country but they'll be damned if they actually let me open a bank account here!

Since i do not have a bank account, i have been unable to get broadband internet as the phone companies want direct debit. Why do they want direct debit, you ask? Well, because i am an immigrant and therefore have no credit.

If i have learned anything since my status as "immigrant" it's these life lessons:

1. Lie: it's easier to say you moved here for a fiancee, then admitting that you moved here because you like the country. People don't question you when you say you moved here for a man.

2. Walk as is no one is looking: Glaswegians DO NOT know how to walk in busy streets. In Toronto, people imitate traffic and walk on the right hand side. You would assume that Scottish people would imitate traffic and walk on the left hand side. Not so. People imitate the theory of chaos.

3. Catch 22: You want to open a bank account, sign up with Scottish Power/ NTL. You want to sign up with Scottish Power/ NTL? Get a bank account first.

4. 2+2=7: 2 drinks always leads to 7. Never have more than 1!

5. WTF?!: When you don't understand what someone just said to you, just smile and nod.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sunshine, rain, hail, and repeat.

Such has been the weather as of late in Glasgow. Currently it is overcast with high winds that blow my perfectly coiffed hair about. How do people in this country stay clean and dry? On my way to an interview this morning, water puddles splashed all over my calves and then my panty hose got a run - almost sending me into a panic.

i have officially been in Glasgow for two weeks now but i am not at all settled yet. Although i have a flat (i move in on Monday) and a temporary job slinging coffee at a cafe, i feel anxious. i just want to set up my own place, open a bank account (they are very strict about such matters here), and solidify a permanent job.

Next week, i have an interview to get my National Insurance Number which, oddly enough, you can ONLY get once you have a job. Strange, as a Canadian, because you can't get a job until you have your Social Insurance Number. A lot of things are backwards here - not just the driving.

It's funny being an immigrant - albeit a privileged one. Although Glaswegians are kind and helpful people, i can't help but think that if i were a non-white immigrant who didn't speak perfect English, i might think that this country discourages immigrants. Although the transition hasn't been hard for me and i have had a lot of people help me out, it feels as though there is prejudice within the government system. For example, i have an actual interview in order to get my National Insurance Number. i have to take lots of papers with me to prove my intentions and what i am doing in the UK. Fair enough, i suppose, but i can't help but catch that smirk when i'm asked if i want to claim benefits.

i mean, really, do you think i left Socialist Canada to come here and claim benefits and go on the dole?! i have a sense that some people assume you're going to try and cheat the system somehow and yet it seems to me, that the people who are cheating the system, are UK natives. It seems to me, trying to get one over on the Council tax is a past time in Glasgow. Or maybe it's just my friends.

i am loving the curry here, however. And the chocolate. And the sweets. i'm also enjoying the hair straightners that are in the female public toilets here - which can be used for £1.00 for 15 minutes. The ladies here understand what the moisture does to hair. i'm also enjoying being told about the history of Glasgow by taxi drivers and being referred to as "love" and "hen". i also love how strangers talk to one another in public places and don't get gawked out (i.e. as is often the case in Toronto). i love talking to strangers so it's fucking great - not so great when some people hear your accent and look at you as if you have a wee jobby coming out of your mouth.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Late last night, the BBC broke the news that a swan was found dead in Scotland, and might have died from the bird flu.

i checked out Canadian on-line news sources (Globe and Mail; Toronto Star), but have yet to find any of them referring to the story. Strange. Ok, i thought, maybe it isn't such a big deal. And then i read this:

The H5N1 virus does not at present pose a large-scale threat to humans, as it cannot pass easily from one person to another.

But experts fear the virus could mutate to gain this ability, and in its new form trigger a flu pandemic, potentially putting millions of human lives at risk.

Great. And i now live at Ground Zero.

In other Scottish news today, a 19 year old boy awaits his sentence after stamping to death a 48 year old man in December 2005 - for singing football songs.

Fuck, i hate football.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Things I miss Already:

-Tim Hortons large double-double coffee
-Tim Hortons English Toffee cappuccino
-Instant Cream of Wheat
-Alfredo sauce at the grocery store (FYI: does not exist here)
-Friends, family, and local crazies in Parkdale
-Bacchus Rotis in Parkdale!!!
-Mitzi's Sister in Parkdale
-Dry and warm apartments
-Wasting energy (kidding!)

Things I Already love:

-The abundance of chocolate and sweets!
-Kind people who have offered me help despite hardly knowing me
-Glaswegians who call me, "love"
-Irn Bru (of course)

Things That Already Annoy Me:

-No recycling (?!)
-People assuming that i am some student looking for menial jobs inbetween my travels. DUDES! i have emigrated here! Give me a REAL job.
-Lack of proper heating inside buildings
-No alfredo sauce? What the fuck...

Monday, April 03, 2006

At the airport with Cocobaby/cha cha/boi boi/bitterqueen
i have pretty much given up trying to keep warm while indoors. It may be sunny and warm outside but my friend's apartment (who has kindly offered me a free bed) is a basement flat in an old tenement building and is therefore bloody freezing!

However, i must remind myself that i am no longer in North America wherein we waste so much energy; Scotland is all about conserving. Even if it means freezing your ass off. The water in the shower never gets hot enough and i feel like motherfucking Sam McGee - ready for cremation just to feel heat again.

i have been in Glasgow for four days now and i must admit, it feels completely normal. The only strange thing, when i think about it, is that i am an immigrant. In the four days that i have been here, i have managed to:

-profess my love to random Scottish people
-fall down drunk in the street
-puke up red wine all over my white tank top and into a sink
-secure a flat (i move into it April 16th)
-get my first ever mobile phone
-eat amazing curry
-run along the Kelvin river and fall in love all over again with this city

All i need now is a job. Although i have an interview tomorrow for an event assistant job, it doesn't start until the end of May so i might have to take a temp job.

If there is one thing that is striking, when comparing Toronto and Glasgow, it's the people. Even though the population of Glasgow is 1 million, the West End was so packed this weekend, i feel like they all live on Byres Road. The people of Glasgow, however, are well put together; there are so many beautiful women in this city. The men are pretty hot too. The strange thing, however, is that they never seem to cruise one another.

In Toronto, people - for the most part - made eye contact with one another and checked each other out. i don't want to sound too self-confident here (G-d forbid), but when i was living in Toronto, i could feel dudes cruising me.

In Glasgow, however, you could be a certified model and the men here would STILL not check you out. Walking around this city, i have seen absolutely stunning women and the men surrounding them completely ignoring them.

Maybe the men here fall into my camp: wherein if you dig someone, you completely ignore them out of fear? i'm not sure.

Nonetheless, it has done nothing for my ego - except maybe deflat it a little.

Another difference that stands out (other than flats being freezing and dudes ignoring women) is coffee. Going into a cafe and asking for a cup of coffee can be a fucking ordeal.

me: 1 large coffee to go, please

coffee guy: ...

me: ...

coffee guy: did you want an Americano?

me:, just a coffee, please

coffee guy: do you mean a latte?

me: ok, just an Americano then

coffee guy: white or black?

What the fuck?!

Oh, Tim Hortons, provider of the crap coffee i crave, i love you!

p.s. In the hour it took me to type this long-winded and not-very-insightful post, the weather has gone from warm and sunny to wet with rain and hail. Rock on, Glasgow!