Wednesday, March 28, 2007


It's hard to believe that it has been exactly one year since i arrived in Glasgow, slightly sedated from my overnight flight from Toronto (and a Xanax). One year since i arrived in a country that i had not spent more than two weeks in for 7 years; one year since i naively stepped up to immigration and declared my intentions - only to be greeted with a grimace and forlorn grunts. It's hard to believe that in one year i relocated to another country with no job, no house, no security and only two suitcases stuffed to the seam with my worldly belongings - not to mention those that were left behind in Canada. It's a sad thing to admit that you miss your vinyl collection and pistachio-coloured Kitchen Aid mixer.

It took me a couple months to realise this but now i admit it freely: i am so glad that i took that step; transitioning from the safe world of Toronto to the unknown paths of Glasgow. i can't imagine what my life would have been like if i hadn't but i envision it being swathed in an overwhelming sense of anxiety, depression, and yearning. i feel as if a weight has been lifted and i'm elated that i no longer have to say i wish to move back here.

And what a long and strange journey it's been. If i had never gone to Queen's University (i shiver to think of it now), i would have never gone on exchange to Glasgow University. And if i had never gone to Glasgow, i would have no idea how amazing this place is. And i would never have met the friends that i did whilst "studying" on exchange - friends who helped and encouraged me to come back.

In the past year i have experienced so much: from eating in my new favourite restaurant whilst in close proximity to the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand (what's-his-name-Alex-Something) to getting into law school to exploring world class museums and dodgy flea markets (i.e. The Barras) to working at Scottish Television and the Opera. In the past year i've never felt more fiercely Canadian and have never felt so homesick for family and Toronto. In the past year i've never appreciated and loved my friends and family as much as i do now.

And if i had never moved back here and walked into the right bar at the right time, i might never have met Paul. Apart from the plethora of brilliant sweets and chocolates, meeting Paul has been one of the most amazing aspects of moving to Scotland. Of course, that amazement of meeting has worn off now (that was sarcasm, just in case you didn't realise it).

My alcohol consumption has increased and dental hygiene is all but a distant memory now. And so, Glasgow, i drink to you, you pasty-white old whore, you. Here's to another year of drunken misadventures, salty chips at 2am, sticky night club floors, reading the Guardian on Saturday mornings, lemon curd and milky tea, Tunnocks Tea Cakes, Diet Irn Bru for breakfast, Scots Porridge Oats, and Schemie boyfriends!

Here is the Bird that never flew
Here is the Tree that never grew
Here is the Bell that never rang
Here is the Fish that never swam

Monday, March 26, 2007

Weekend in Pictures

Thursday, March 22, 2007

i don't know why but today i've been feeling a bit home sick. It begrudges me to admit this but...i miss Toronto. There's no specific reason or event; i suppose i just miss it for sentimental purposes. Perhaps it's because there has been some "unofficial" talk of going back to visit in August, maybe it's because my brother and his partner are coming to visit in April, or maybe it's just because i'm missing decent nachos, coffee, falafels from Akram's in Kensington Market, cheap yummy sushi and the sweet potato fries at Mitzi's Sister.

Life is currently good in Glasgow - actually life is great just now - so i don't know why i'm feeling a bit homesick for Tdot. i'm probably just missing my coco baby, bitter queen, as well. i've just started a great job that i'm really enjoying and have a hot Scotsman as a boyfriend as well (whom i'm also enjoying. Ha!) so what the hell is with the homesick Toronto blues? i guess i just miss feeling like the whole world (or all of Canada, rather) revolves around my city. Maybe i am a true Torontonian to the core?
The Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper, not only eats babies but apparently kittens too!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

View while walking home from the gym; although bitterly cold this evening, the sights were still worth stopping for.

Monday, March 19, 2007

On Friday evening, Anna and i went to a stage adaptation of Life of Pi at the Citizens Theatre. Now, i have never read the book but considering that this was the only adaptation allowed by Canadian author, Yann Martel, it was an opportunity not to be missed. The play was astonishing - beautifully acted, aesthetically stunning, and finely scripted. Next month, Angels in America is on at the Citizens Theatre - a play that i have only read in university and have been dying to see ever since. After the play, Anna and i met up with Paul at my new favourite bar in city centre (which shall remain nameless just in case you get any ideas, cyber stalkers) and i proceeded to get pissed from 3 glasses of wine. Since her boyfriend managed to break her glasses last week, poor Anna has been struggling to see and is forced to wear her sunglasses that have prescription lenses in them. Her eye sight is so terrible and strong, that she is unable to wear contact lenses.

In her sunglasses at night blindness and my drunken state, we made quite the pair. Poor Paul had to supervise the drunken blind leading the blind. At one point, we came across a filthy pigeon who was curled up into a piss-stained street corner (as they are in Glasgow), with its head tucked in towards its body. At first glance it appeared dead but upon closer inspection it was revealed to have been paralysed and/or hurt in some manner as it was still breathing.

It was at this point that i started crying. Injured animals do it to me every time. i don't eat mammals so it pains me to see them even suffering. Yes, even filthy disease-infested pigeons whom i secretly hate because they scare me when they suddenly take flight from their place on the sidewalk in front of me, like a bat out of hell, narrowly missing my face.

On Saturday, Paul and i did not manage to leave my flat until 8.00pm due to a slight hang-over (on my part), sheer laziness (on both our parts), and the mental weather outside. Gale force winds and rain prohibited us from leaving the flat for any length of time. Even when we were forced to go outside and forge for food, it was still mental weather. It wasn't until we were in a taxi, on our way to a restaurant/bar, that we remembered it was St. Patrick's Day.


Luckily it wasn't too busy and we managed to find a quite pub afterwards without stepping into puddles of Paddy Day puke.

Sunday, Paul took me to visit his Grandmother, Father, and wee half-brothers and sister in Maryhill Park. i was really nervous to meet his family but his wee brothers and sister turned out to be unbearably cute and really adorable. Maybe i am just used to North American toddlers who can sometimes be real fucking assholes, but i was quite surprised at how well-behaved and sweet they all were. Maybe it's a European thing. Then again, i've been shopping in Tescos and have had to bear witness to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum due to heroin and sugar withdrawal - most likely - while his Mother equally had a tantrum in return. Astonishing indeed!

Sunday evening i once again joined my semi-blind pal, Anna, at her sewing/knitting club to drink tea and - obviously - sew stuff. i ended up sewing a giant hole that was in the armpit of one of my shirts and also making a surprise gift for Paul.

All and all, a very melodramatic and domesticated weekend.

Today i started my new job, which i am really enjoying so far. It's great to once again be working in the arts and cultural sector - not that there was anything wrong with working in academia. i'm still thinking of law school but alas, have not yet come to any conclusion. Can't someone just tell me what to do with my life?!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

There's a Law, there's an Arm, there's a Hand

Glasgow University

As some of you already know, i was recently accepted into the Graduate law programme at both the University of Glasgow and Strathclyde University, here in Glasgow. i also applied to two other universities (Caledonia and Edinburgh) because i had the option to but i really just wanted to get into Glasgow and Strathclyde (the two best, in my opinion).

i know that the revelation that i want to be a lawyer will be a shock to most people that know me. However, don't get your Prada panties in a bunch: i still haven't accepted either offer because well, i still don't know yet. You see, like a lot of aimless graduates, i flirted with the idea of law school for many years but i never did anything about it. i was too scared of committing to the idea and then not getting in. This past New Year's, however, i thought "fuck it, i'm just going to apply" and so, at the very last minute, i somehow managed to get my application together along with an academic reference from University of Toronto.

i didn't tell anyone except my Mom and Anna. To be honest, i really didn't think i would get in. My marks from university were decent enough but i thought that my personal statement might have been too flaky, "arty" and idealistic. Nevertheless, i waited in anxiety.

And then i received an email saying that there had been a "change" to my application (all applications are done online and electronically here).

Shaking, i logged on to my application to find an UNCONDITIONAL OFFER from Glasgow University.

What. the. fuck.

i was stunned. You hear so much about entry into law school being competitive so how did i manage to slip through?! While it's true that in order to gain entry into the graduate programme (you must already have a Honours degree), you don't need to sit any tests as you do in Canada (see, "LSAT"). You just needed some decent grades, some dosh, and apparently a flaky and idealistic personal essay. However, since there is no bullshit LSAT test, i assumed that entry would be even MORE competitive since you're trying to woo them with JUST your marks and writing ability.

Marks and numbers can be analyzed and quantified but how do you measure passion, personal beliefs and ethics?

Anyway, last night i went to the open house for Graduate-entry law students at Glasgow University. i brought Paul along with me since he is currently finishing his last year having done the EXACT SAME programme but at Strathclyde. He would be behind enemy lines acting as my voice of reason. Staff and students spoke about the programme and it was quite inspiring. Over and over we were warned that it was hard work but worth it.

Next week, Strathclyde is holding an open house as well - which should be interesting considering that the programme is supposed to be just as good (if not better - or so i am told) as Glasgow BUT cheaper. Oh, and speaking of dosh, tuition is almost the same for me as an international student over here as it would be back in Canada. Actually, some law schools in Canada are still higher than over here (see Osgoode, U of T).

i still don't know what my plans are considering i am about to start an amazing new job at an arts organisation. It's hard to make life decisions when everything is going right (for once).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Yesterday was Commonwealth Day, which doesn't really mean anything in Canada apart from some Government buildings flying the Union flag alongside the Canadian flag. i'm not really sure what the day is supposed to commemorate though. Maybe how our country was "founded" and colonised by the British (and French)? It's strange because even though Canada is part of the Commonwealth and the Queen appears on all our money and we subsequently receive her Christmas Day message, you almost forget that she is the head of our country and Government.

In 1986 i remember having to sing "God Save the Queen" every Friday morning in Mrs. Lawlor's Grade 2 class after singing "O Canada". We would stand beside our desk as the National Anthem crackled over the PA system. Afterward we would turn to the photograph of the Queen, which leaned against the wall in the corner of the room on some shelves, and sing at the picture of her Highness in her crown and furs as she stood on some steps.

Why we had to sing it every Friday, i have no idea but Bob (Bitterqueen/Coco) can confirm it because he suffered through it as well. Being 7 years old, however, we didn't really question why our pro-monarchy teacher made us sing it; i remember just liking the idea of singing at some lady draped in pretty jewels, furs, and velvet and wanting to wear her "costume".

i suppose being part of the Commonwealth has its benefits - for example, i wouldn't have been able to get a UK Ancestry Visa if it weren't for my Welsh Grandmother and being colonised part of the Commonwealth.

The Queen in Canada:Whatever you may think of Pierre Trudeau, i will always love him for doing a Pirouette behind the Queen's back (and for the 1982 patriation of the Charter of Rights and Freedom, of course. Dude was even blacklisted from entering the US in the 1950s. Trudeau ruled!)

Rick Mercer on the Queen

Monday, March 12, 2007

And They Said It Changes When the Sun Goes Down Around Here

See that last picture? Yes, those are public urinals. In an effort to crack down on "anti social behaviour" (not to mention wicked smells of piss throughout the city), portable urinals have been installed throughout city centre and are removed at the end of the weekend.

Walking through city centre on Saturday night, Paul said that it felt and looked like the Apocalypse: men pissing in the street, women teetering on 6 inch heels and falling down in between puking sessions, a plethora of police navigating through the swarm of underage drinkers, ambulances and police sirens to be heard on the periphery.

Just another Saturday night in Glasgow.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Commonwealth Drama!

An update from yesterday's post about the 2014 Commonwealth Games: Halifax has pulled out of the bid!

Michael Cooper, chief executive officer of the CGF, said Dr Andrew Pipe, president of Commonwealth Games Canada, had called him to withdraw from the race. He said: "He said he was astonished at the decision. It's deeply disappointing for the people of Canada.

And you know what? It is disappointing as a Canadian, kind of like when Toronto lost the Olympic bid for the 2008 summer games. Living in Toronto at the time, i think i was in the minority because i wanted Toronto to win the bid; the majority of Torontonians were against the bid which is just so fucking Torontonian - we're above all that, you see. Besides, we wouldn't be able to find parking if the Olympics came to town.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Remember back in November i posted about the CBC broadcasting a documentary, The Feral Boys of Glasgow, about the violence of the city which pissed off Glasgow City Council - who accused the CBC of smear tactics in effort for Halifax to get the Commonwealth Games in 2014?

Well, the documentary is now on YouTube. Definitely worth watching and decide for yourself: bias of communication or is the CBC merely reporting facts?

Sexy Scots?

Women of the world get a dream date with the lusty laird or hunky highlander of their choice in a unique campaign to promote nation's hottest assets...

There's an article in today's Toronto Star about Scotland's Tourist Board (Visit Scotland) and it's most recent campaign to encourage "single female" tourists to this bountiful and green country - aptly named, Date a Hot Scot. The website offers women (and, i assume, men?) the opportunity to enter a contest voting for the "hottest" Scottish lad and the chance to win an all inclusive 4 day trip to Edinburgh to meet all the Hot Scots (yes, all 20 of them that Scotland has to offer)!

I'll give Visit Scotland credit where credit is due; it's a clever gimmick. It's true: the accents are cute (when you can understand them), Scots have a wicked and biting sense of humour and yes, kilts are hot but it's not like the locals walk about in them day in and day out. North American women - particularly those from large cities like Toronto and New York - however, might be slightly underwhelmed and confused when some local "hot Scot" actually shushes you during a match; when a handsome young man cuts in front of you at the bar; when a cute boy you have been chatting to all night fails to pick up on your flirty cues and leaves without asking for your number or to see you again; when a young man you've just been introduced to starts taking the piss (the Scottish way of "flirting"), leaving you confused and slightly offended.

The problem, i think, is best summed up by George Bernard Shaw: "England and America are two countries separated by a common language." Although, granted, this isn't England and i'm not American.

So, enter the contest ladies (and men), but save yourself the heartache and confusion and do as the locals do (when in Rome and all that): upon introduction to the carefully selected Hot Scots, quickly get as pissed as possible and hope for the best.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Remember this?

i couldn't find Triumph the Insult Dog's trip to Quebec on YouTube(not surprising considering how it was offensive but still very funny), but found a link to the video. Soooo funny. MUST BE WATCHED!

Conan O'brien comes to Toronto!
As a Canadian, i have always been less than sympathetic towards my neighbours to the South: Americans. It's a sometimes volatile and frustrating relationship - Canadians define themselves against Americans and Americans, well, they rarely leave their own country, let alone the TV room, so most assume that we're "just like Americans". Numerous times i have heard this declaration from Americans whilst working in summer jobs in tourist trap boutiques in Kingston. Every single time i would cringe and bite my tongue for fear of screaming, "IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT THAN YOU'RE A FUCKING MORON UNABLE TO PICK UP THE OBVIOUS AND SUBTLE DIFFERENCES".

It's most likely our inferiority complex that leads a lot of Canadians to carry the proverbial chip on their shoulder when it comes to Americans. Secretly, however, we take private delight whenever an American film or television production mentions Canada (remember when the Simpsons went to Toronto and the fervour the episode received in the media?) ; we exacerbate our non-Canadian friends by perpetually pointing out famous Canadian people; we openly cheer whenever Canada is name-dropped in film and television; we are quick to correct someone who assumes we're American; and we notoriously plaster our backpacks with Canadian flags as if they possessed some intrinsic diplomatic immunity (something that Americans have picked up on and started doing as well - much to Canadians' frustration).

Reluctantly, however, i have to admit that in the last few months i have grown more empathetic towards Americans and how they're perceived abroad. Yes, i know that a lot of their foreign policies warrant hostility and yes, their president is a HUGE idiot but not every single American is to blame. i have become a little more empathetic because i have experienced such hostility first-hand. i've lost count of the number of times i've gotten into a taxi and the driver ask if i was American. Once i corrected them and told them i was Canadian, some of the drivers unleashed a tirade of anti-American propaganda.

Now, i've been known to be somewhat anti-American in my life (hey, it's a Canadian thing), but more and more i find myself defending Americans. Not as a country but as individuals. Just like not every British person voted for Blair or supports the war, not every American is a red-neck hick who blindly installs their faith in Jesus and Bush. Only once, however, was a taxi driver disappointed because i WASN'T American. He claimed to love Bush and what he was doing "for the world" and then proceeded to lecture me with simplistic and xenophobic ideas about how to make Scotland a better place. i was so offended that i had to remind him that *I* was an immigrant and i didn't care to hear his justifications as to why it was ok to hate immigrants and the English.

"You just don't know the history," he retorted.
"Actually, i know enough; i just have better things to do with my time and energy" i replied.

Needless to say, he didn't get a tip and never again will i call that private car hire place.

However, so long as people like Ann Coulter continue to receive airtime and book deals and so long as people continue to buy her books and nod their heads in agreement with her insipid ideas, i think it's safe to be a little skeptical of America, the corporation and nation, and not Americans as individuals.

And just for fun, watch this clip of Ann Coulter getting OWNED on the CBC! Go Bob McKeown!

Monday, March 05, 2007

i feel like i didn't even have a weekend; it went by too quickly.

Friday i took the day off work and dealt with pressing matters such as my hair. A couple weeks ago someone recommend that i check out this salon that shall remain nameless, and have my hair cut and coloured there rather than at my regular (and trusted) place.

It was the worst botched colouring job i have ever had.

i was so furious that i went back and spoke with the Manager of the famous salon (that has locations ALL across Glasgow) and showed him the awful job. Not surprisingly, he wasn't very helpful - in fact, he wasn't apologetic at all. He told me he would speak to the stylist and call me the next day. Except he didn't call me the next day so i called him. Again. And again. And again. Until he finally came to the phone to tell me that oh, he left a message on my mobile and didn't i get it?! Anyway, they sent me a cheque in the mail reimbursing me for the shitty colouring job.

i'm not normally a diva but shit, don't ever mess with a woman's hair.

So, Friday i had to go to my regular and amazing salon to have my colourist/stylist fix the entire thing for a mere price of £155 (OVER $300 Canadian). After court down south, Lawyer Boy met me at the salon and took me to lunch. Afterwards he went home to change while i made dinner for him at my flat.

Saturday afternoon, i had to rush off and meet Anna for lunch before heading North with my other friend, Kate, to visit our friend Lauren in Dundee. Lawyer Boy, who i will herein refer to as "Paul" because that is his name, had to meet his Dad as they were going to the Celtic football (soccer) game.Unflattering photo of Paul and i (and my new fabulous hair) in a black cab.

Saturday evening, Kate and i arrived in Dundee and were met by Lauren, who had prepared a huge meal for Kate and i and two other friends, Zoe and Ryan. After dinner Lauren bombarded us with cocktails galore wherein we proceeded to have important conversations regarding Christian Bale, decapitation, and abortion. Alas i was so exhausted from my previous evening, i fell asleep on the couch and drooled on myself. i'm an awful guest. At one point there was a lunar eclipse and i tried to take a photo of it but it didn't come out on my dodgy camera phone.
Lauren and Zoe, in Lauren's living room, drinking uber strong Cosmos.

Shitty photo of the lunar eclipse as seen from Lauren's living room.

Dundee - which, despite what you may have heard, is actually a quaint little town.

Sunday afternoon, Paul met me at the train station. After lunch we wandered around in the rain (awalys fun) before heading back to my flat to watch a semi-crappy art house Canadian film. Despite subjecting Paul to the warped Canadian film, he stayed for dinner before heading home as he had an early criminal defence lawyer thing in Edinburgh the next morning.

In other news, i am still craving some decent nachos.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

My Street
Yet Another Visual Representation As to Why I Had To Move As Far Away From Parkdale As I Possibly Could:
Photo taken from Eye Magazine

Parkdale Village, the area of Parkdale closest to the beach, became one of the poorest areas in Toronto...

Parkdale is one of the most diverse areas of the city, with many new immigrants finding their first homes here, due to the lower rents. The presence of a large immigrant community has done much to create the vibrancy that Parkdale is known for. This might be a fact of the streetscape in Parkdale, but it remains an area rife with substandard rental apartment buildings (a large percentage of Parkdale residents are renters) run by landlords coined slumlords by many area residents...

However, Parkdale is seeing increasing signs of gentrification, as Queen Street West's sphere of influence extends further westward. This include new hipster cafes, lounges, restaurants, condos, lofts, shops and art galleries cropping up rapidly, and former old dive hotels The Drake and The Gladstone being recently bought out and renovated to become very trendy and chic. Local taverns have begun receiving new patronage from artists and urbanites seeking refuge from the fashion boutiques further east on Queen Street...

I really really REALLY miss Bacchus Roti though...

(End note: Interesting article about the "Hipster Urbanism" of Toronto; Definitely worth a read - if only for the cartoon)