Wednesday, February 28, 2007

This is such a cliche but i really miss Tim Hortons.

Every day on my way to work in Toronto, i would hop off the streetcar and join the huge line-up at King and Victoria to get a large double double to go. i would walk the rest of the way to work, salivating as the scent of Timmy Hos coffee enveloped me. After lunch, usually around 3pm, i would walk to another location (Front Street) and get a medium English Toffee Cappuccino (which some places have stopped carrying. The horror!)

Although i do have Tim Hortons coffee with me over here, i swear that it just doesn't taste the same.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yesterday after work, i was killing time at the library while i waited to meet my friend John to go see Hot Fuzz. As i searched about the History section, a young Japanese girl quietly looked through the Travel section behind me. Suddenly out of nowhere, this short, old, and slightly balding Scottish dude walked up to the Japanese girl and asked, "excuse me, are you Japanese?" The girl looked stunned but politely replied, "yes". Just as suddenly, he started speaking Japanese to her?! Interestingly, she would reply in English so i could make out what he was asking her. She's here from Japan studying at the Glasgow School of Art and has an exhibition soon. i think he then proceeded to tell her that he had lived in Japan for the last two and a half years - no doubt teaching young susceptible girls English as a second language.

As i started to walk away - overwhelmed by the creep factor - i heard the homunculus ask her, "Soooooooo, what do you like to do in your spare time?"

Is that creepy or am i being a wee bit harsh? i don't know. i haven't had anyone randomly come up to me and ask me if i was Canadian after hearing my accent.* Then again, the dude was basing his judgement that she was Japanese based solely on her appearance. It's funny because in Toronto, people assumed i was of some ethnic origin other than "Canadian" (that is a hybrid of Welsh, Scottish, and Irish; your average British mutt). i've been mistaken for Czech, Polish, and Dutch. In fact, once while i was shopping in Roncesvalles, the woman behind the counter at the deli started speaking to me in Polish. i gawked at her, blinking a few times, until she realised that i was just another Toronto whitey. Since moving to Scotland, i now blend in with every other pale-skinned, fair-haired honky and i totally relish it.

It's interesting, however, what we do to set ourselves apart from one another. Certain subcultures cover themselves in tattoos and Canadians notoriously sew the Canadian flag on their backpacks. The most obnoxious, however, has to be Queen's University students who insist on wearing those fucking annoying Queen's jacket to ensure that you are AWARE that THEY WENT TO OR ARE CURRENTLY ATTENDING QUEEN'S.

This is one of the many reasons why i transferred OUT of Queen's. i remember i was only a few months into my first year and was only attending part-time (mainly because i wasn't sure what i wanted to major in and because i was paying for it all out of my own pocket), when i went to enquire about transferring. See, the truth is i only went to Queen's because some of my friends were already there and because well, i got in? i had no idea what i wanted to do but you might as well go to the self-described "best university in Canada" whilst you're figuring shit out, right?

Anyway, i went to the Registrar's Office to look into transferring to another university. i walked up to the woman behind the counter and told her that i was interested in transferring. And i swear that the following conversation happened word-for-word:

"What university are you currently attending, dear?"
"This one," i replied.
She looked at me, mouth agape in horror, "well. THAT is a first; no one transfers OUT of Queen's".

However, i stuck it out for another year and went on exchange to Glasgow University instead. i remember signing some document promising to return to Queen's to finish my last year there. That contract was a joke because while i was studying at Glasgow, i transferred home universities and ended up going to the University of Toronto. Sure, i lost an entire year's worth of credits but in the end, it was so worth it. The University of Toronto - in my own opinion - is an exciting and more importantly, DIVERSE, school and i'm proud to be an alumni of it.

Where was i going with this tangent?

Right. So even after moving half way around the world, i have spotted two Queen's jackets - and within the last two weeks as well. It's funny because in my six years of living in Toronto, i never once saw one and now here i am, in the ancestral homeland, once again reminded how Canadian i am because really, who else is going to recognise that familiar purple coat?

*Interesting Story: before Christmas i was at some salon getting a manicure. As i chatted away to the girl doing my nails, a HUGE woman a couple seats down from me interjected and asked me if i was Canadian. i replied that i was and she told me that she was as well. And from Montreal. She then asked me where i was from and rather than say, "Napanee", because most people don't know it, i just said, "Toronto". The morbidly obese woman said, "i thought so".

What the fuck does THAT mean?

So i asked her why she assumed i was from Toronto and she told me because of the way i spoke and my "manner". Why are some people such assholes? i mean, couldn't she have just been polite to my face and THEN be an asshole on her blog about it like everybody else?!

Monday, February 26, 2007

This past weekend can be summed up in two words: movies and Macrobid.

Friday night Anna, Miriam, Cute lawyer boy and i went to see Half Nelson which was being shown as part of the Glasgow Film Festival. The film starred Canadian hottie, Ryan Gosling, and the soundtrack was provided by Toronto band extraordinaire, Broken Social Scene. Afterwards, Cute lawyer boy and i rushed off to the Merchant City for some dinner at a French bistro. i must be on some food karmic kick since causing a (justified) scene at TGI Friday's, because instead of bringing the bouillabaisse i ordered at the bistro, they brought me some weird beef stew. We pointed out the error to our server - who was apologetic - and were offered dessert on the house. How refreshing to experience real customer service once again!

i haven't explored much of the Merchant City yet but what i have seen, i like. The Merchant City is were the rich and fabulous once lived in the 18th Century. All the "Tobacco Lords" who built their wealth through tobacco, cotton, and sugar trade built beautiful buildings that have now been turned into chic cafes, bars, and shops. What was once rich in Tobacco Lords, is now full of Gaylords. Of course, it is now home to Glasgow's gay community. The majority of gay clubs and bars (where i heard my first Kylie song, 7 years ago) are housed in the Merchant City and being the fag hag that i am, obviously i love the area. The Merchant City feels like Yorkville meets Church and Wellesley - but even then, such a description cannot capture the essence that is Glasgow.

After dinner we headed back to my flat in the west end for some Canadian wine that i brought back with me at Christmas: Inniskillin. (Which reminds me: Jason, can you bring me some when you come in April, please?)

Saturday morning, Cute lawyer boy and i went to North Star for some french toast and REAL MAPLE SYRUP (yes, three weekends in a row now). Afterward, we pretended we were 60-years old and went for a walk around the west end and then for some tea. i asked Cute lawyer boy if he wanted to come with me to the surprise film screening at the festival later that night and he did. i had a hunch that the film was going to be The Illusionist.

After going home to change, Cute lawyer boy met me back at my place where we set off to meet Anna at the bar in Lang's Hotel. Anna, Cute Lawyer boy (whom i should mention spent some time in Texas as a child) and i were craving nachos. Anna and i were still not satisfied in our quest to find authentic and decent nachos in this town, and were pleasantly surprised to find nachos with GUACAMOLE! SALSA! and JALAPENOS! on the menu. So we ordered the nachos and drinks.

And waited.
And waited.
And waited.

i started getting anxious as the surprise film was about to start and everyone knows i am a spaz when it comes to film. Like Woody Allen's character in Annie Hall, i almost always cannot watch a film if i am 5 minutes late. i apologise in advance to anyone who ever has to see a film with me and we are running late. Cute lawyer boy asked our server about our drinks and by the expression of "oh, shit" that crossed his face, you just knew he forgot. After returning with our drinks, he told us that our drinks were on the house. Yet another score of free food and drinks! Karma was in our favour! i then asked about our nachos.

The look of fear returned to his face.

Returning with our nachos (that again, were not nachos but "posh" nachos that resembled dirty tortilla chips, just-add-water guacamole, and watery salsa) which were separated into wee different white bowls on a chic white plate. HUH?!

Our server told us to forget about the bill for the nachos too. Done.

We then sprinted over to the cinema for the surprise film which, unfortunately, was not what i expected. No, instead of a coherent and half-decent film, we were subjected to David Lynch's Inland Empire. The film had brief moments of a plot but overall, it sucked. Hard. You know, even though i am a huge film buff and love all kinds of cinema, i get really pissed off when a pretentious film tries to hide behind the Art argument. Just because something is deemed High Art does not mean that it has to be inaccessible. To me, successful "art" is a creation - an expression of an idea or emotion - that is conveyed to an audience. And that's where David Lynch failed. Or so i thought.

What a self-indulgent wank of a movie. We left after 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours because apparently the film is 3 hours long. Fuck you, David Lynch! i will never get those 2 hours back. In fact, lots of people left the theatre. i wanted to go after about an hour and twenty minutes but i wasn't sure about Anna and Cute lawyer boy so i fell asleep instead. When i woke up, about 15 - 20 minutes later, i felt like i hadn't missed anything.

Cute Lawyer boy and i left the theatre slightly disheartened and perturbed. We suspect that he made the film up as he went along. Afterward we went back to my flat and Cute lawyer boy proceeded to show me the funniest things i have seen in about 5 years:

i think i freaked him out with my uncontrollable laughter. i proceeded to then show him the Kelly/ Shoes video which my Mom and i were so obsessed with a couple months ago. Ok, so it isn't as funny as the GI Joe video and i think it caters more to the female and gay audiences but nonetheless, i think he appreciated it. Actually, he remarked, "you can kind of talk like that". Betch!

Sunday morning i woke up to the worst urinary tract infection i have had since i was about 11. Pure agony. i even had the cold sweats and was shaking. i quickly doped myself with a mass amount of antibiotics and waited for it to get better. Only it wasn't happening as quickly as i had hoped and so, i asked Cute lawyer boy to leave until i felt better. i know that seems harsh but shit, if you have ever had a brutal UTI you feel like cutting out your urethra, curling up into a ball, and wait for death. Either that or stabbing someone in the face. And i'm not a violent person. i think Cute lawyer boy was hurt and a bit taken aback but i really just needed to lie in bed and run to the toilet - alone - every 30 seconds until it subsided. It's not a state that i would want many people to witness, let alone some cute 26-year old boy.

After the drugs kicked in (sweet, sweet euphoria), i texted him to say i was feeling better and that i was sorry for abruptly asking him to leave. Cute lawyer boy ended up coming back over to my place and staying over for the third night in a row.

And that's all that i'm sayin'.

Friday, February 23, 2007

This wouldn't be as funny if it weren't true. Does anyone even watch the CBC these days?!
Blogging is, for the most part, an anonymous process. Someone, somewhere posts something without giving too much thought into their audience and who exactly is reading it. i, however, know (for the most part) who is reading my blog: mainly family, friends and a couple of random people who might have stumbled upon my delirious rantings and ravings while googling "haggis in Toronto". As such there is a certain amount of self-censorship i employ when posting. Nothing too terrible, mind you; usually just elements or events that aren't essential to the story and are best left out. For example, no one wants to hear about the time i puked up red wine all over my white t-shirt and into Laurie's sink. Besides, it would just further my Mum's suspicion that i am a budding alcoholic. And if i were to post every minor detail and actions, y'all might think that i was gallivanting about the city six nights a week, three sheets to the wind. Which, ok, is true.

And so, it might appear - based on this blog - that i am a bitter single alcoholic.

i would like to say that i use a healthy dose of hyperbole to entertain but alas, it is all true. The only aspect is that i am not bitter about dudes in this country. Maybe i'm an eternal optimist or maybe i'm just that stupid - who knows? i just know that for every coke head fart blamer i get to meet, i'm delighted because it's MORE tales to write home about. Besides, i'm sure there are loads of coke head fart blamers in Toronto - they're called Bay Street lawyers.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Message to my Parents or How to Shame Your Parents via the Internet

Mom: i realise you're saving the world - one hospital at a time - but are you still alive?! How's the thesis?! Email me, lady!

Dad: Are you ever going to respond to the email i sent you about law school?!

Apparently my parents are too busy to bash out an email; parents these days!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Last night my honourary Canadian friend, Anna, and i went to the Glasgow Film Festival to see a rare Canadian double bill: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen and Sarah Polley's feature-length directorial debut, Away From Her. Fifteen minutes into the first film, Anna leaned over and asked if i wanted to get some dinner instead.

i wasn't sure how long we could watch a plot less Inuit Canadian film for but it turns out the answer is fifteen minutes.

We were craving nachos and since we were in the City Centre, we decided that TGI Friday's would be our best option. Now perhaps i should preface this by stating the obvious: neither one of us had ever eaten at the chain but i've nevertheless been traumatised by its parody in Office Space.

Conclusion: Unless you like ABHORRENT service, unbelievably shitty food, and offensive decorations, DO NOT EAT AT TGI FRIDAY'S! EVER. NOT EVEN IF YOU WERE STARVING AND THEY WERE GIVING AWAY FREE FOOD.

Anna and i ordered "nachos" that - FYI TGI Friday's - were NOT nachos and subsequently sent them back. We refused to pay. The Manager was sent over and once we explained our stance, she grabbed the plate of "nachos" and wobbled away with an air of attitude. i've never caused a "scene" before but then again, i've never been served a plate of utter shit for £7.95 and given attitude by unapologetic waiters before. To be fair, it kinda made my night.

After going to another restaurant and eating somewhat proper Tex Mex food, we headed back to the GFT for Sarah Polley's film. And what an experience. The film is tender, emotional, and beautiful. The long snowy shots of eastern Ontario with a soundtrack provided by K.D. Lang and Neil Young, actually made me homesick. Add that element to the fact that the film is about Alzheimer's (something that my Welsh Nanny is afflicted with) and only four hours of sleep the previous night, and you have a recipe for sobbing. Poor Anna had to hide my tears from the rest of the stiff upper lip Brits as the lights came up...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Reason #1542 Why I Love Glasgow

They have stores here called "Liquor Barn".
i'm not sure how many brain cells i killed this past weekend; all i know is that yesterday afternoon i had trouble forming a coherent sentence. From the lack of sleep, alcohol consumption (not actually a lot, mind you), and the loud thumping music from the club on Saturday night, i feel like my IQ dropped about 10 points.

It all started Thursday night. i met up with a cute boy who is currently finishing up his last year in the Graduate Law programme for advice, insight, and opinion. He was helpful, encouraging and worse - cute. After closing out the fashionable bar we were at, we shuffled off to some dingy Irish pub on Sauchiehall Street where we were greeted with drunk old geezers singing IRA songs.

i struggled through Friday feeling exhausted and slightly hung over. Don't be jealous.

Friday evening Anna, Tim and myself went to the Glasgow Film Festival to see Congorama and afterwards headed out for a pint to discuss the merits of pop music circa 1991. Conclusion: Primal Scream's Screamadelica is still a fucking amazing album and one of the rare albums that can still be listened to from beginning to end.

Saturday evening myself and 8 of my friends headed out for dinner, drinks, and clubbing under the guise of celebrating my entry into law school - as well as the new job. Dinner was at one of my favourite restaurants in the west end - Stravaigin - where i am quickly becoming a regular. Had the usual dish of mussels and chips with mayo. After dinner and drinks, we headed out to a new club that recently opened but were turned away as the boys were wearing trainers. Bollocks. Ended up going to another club and ripping up the dance floor with our smooth moves.

Sunday afternoon Miriam (a fellow Canadian) and i woke up and headed out to North Star Cafe, located in my 'hood of North Kelvinside. After a yummy breakfast of french toast and REAL maple syrup (!), i rushed off to meet cute lawyer boy as we were meant to see a heavy-hitting film at the festival. However, since it was a gorgeous day out (sunny, warm, and not a cloud in the sky), we chucked the idea and went for a walk. Stopping off for a gin and tonic, of course, at a local pub. Afterwards, we continued walking through Kelvingrove Park and stopped off for some coffee at Costa Coffee.

i then proceeded to have the longest date ever as we then headed for dinner. At Stravaigin. i'm almost ashamed as to how often i eat/hang out there - almost. But not quite. Best. chips. ever!

Friday, February 16, 2007

This is why I love YouTube!

Remember when Canada had its own terrorist group?
Why I, Jennifer Shirley Ann, Am A Super Star This Week:

1. Got into law school at Glasgow University (still not sure if i'm going so stop asking, Mom).

2. i am currently hung over and running on about 4 hours sleep but i am going to the Glasgow Film Festival tonight to see Congorama.

3. i went out on a date last night with a cute boy!

4. i ate about 10 pieces of Marks and Spencers chocolate for dinner last night.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This is Ryan Malcolm - Sorry, it's the NEW Ryan Malcolm, not that weird waiter dude that "won" the first-ever Canadian Idol.

From time to time, i like to read the Canadian newspapers online to see what is happening in my homeland and chuckle at the naval-gazing that is so typical Torontonian. And so, reading the Globe and Mail today, I had almost forgotten all about this dude except RYAN MALCOLM USED TO HAVE A LOCKER BESIDE MINE AT NAPANEE DISTRICT SECONDARY SCHOOL! And OHMYGOD! i once went on this high school art class trip to New York City with my friend, Meagan, and she TOTALLY crushed on Ryan's older brother, Shaun, but alas, they could never be together because Shaun was (is?) a Jehovah's Witness. High school drama, y'all. By the way, does that mean Ryan's one too?

Anyway, dude - what the fuck happened to your hair? Girl, get yourself down to Coupe Bizarre for a proper cut!
For All You Bitter Single Queens Out There

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Belated One Year Anniversary, Blog!
Weekend in Pictures

From Top to Bottom:

Friday: party in Motherwell
Saturday: celebrating entry into law school (still don't know if i'll go) with friends. (Sorry, no pictures. Forgot).
Sunday: wander around Glasgow University and Kelvingrove Gallery.
Sunday night: Shanghai Shuffle with friends wherein i was forced to dress up like a slutty version of Little Bo Peep. Only somewhat mortifying. i never want to hear another Karaoke version of ANY SONGS from Grease. Ever again.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I got into law school?!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Portrait of Two Alchies, taken by sleazy Antonio.
Dear Marks and Spencer Simply Food,

You. Complete. Me.

<3 Me xxx

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


There is a difference between self - imposed exile and running away.

For many years I wanted to come back to Glasgow to live but like a lot of people, I was afraid of leaving the comfort and stability I had in Toronto to start anew. No, not a “new” life but pick up where I left off. It was easier to keep the idea at arms length - a pipedream. It was always “I want to…”

I was afraid of essentially giving up my “career” in film and TV, which I had worked so hard to get into (read: free labour on my part). I was afraid of setting out into the unknown, to move to another country – another continent! – with two suitcases and lots of optimism. I was afraid of what my Mom would say and I knew she would be angry. I was afraid of what my friends would think and even more so, I was afraid to leave them. But mostly, I was afraid of change.

Why I wanted to move back to Glasgow was tied up in contradictory reasons. When I came here as an exchange student, I immediately felt comfortable. I honestly don’t remember feeling that homesick and maybe it was because I knew I was going back home to Canada at the end of the academic year. I made friends quickly – a lot of whom are still good friends and I couldn’t have moved back here without their help and support.

I wanted to move back here because well, I had wanted it for so long and I was sick of making insufficient excuses. Not everyone has the opportunity (and not to mention, strength) to basically emigrate to another country. Thanks to my Welsh grandmother and the support of my family, I was able to. I wanted to move back here because I liked the city, the people, the history, and my friends and because I just missed it. Glasgow is an exciting (and sometimes crazy) city that is unique in its vibe and culture.

I wanted to move back here because I liked that I felt comfortable here. I liked that I could talk about Graham Greene novels or British music or World War Two tactics or European politics with friends without them rolling their eyes. I liked that I didn’t feel stifled by my own history. I liked that it was perfectly acceptable to spend a Sunday afternoon in a pub discussing Morrissey. I liked that people were social and almost always enthusiastic to go out. I liked that people were passionate – even if it was for football.

In Toronto, I was tired of passive-aggressive Canadians; of feeling a sinking depression set in; of feeling a perpetual underlying sense of anger; of feeling as if opportunities were ticking by.

I realised that one of the happiest times in my life, so far, was when I was a student, living in Scotland. I realised that I like personal challenges and change. And adventure. For a long time I felt like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t want to “settle down”, get married, and have babies. To NOT feel such desires would be unnatural and so, obviously, there was something wrong with me. What am I supposed to be “settling down” from anyway?! Myself?

And so, after a series of events: another failed relationship, the tragic death of an acquaintance, and the slow glacial feeling of depression, I decided – Fuck it. I am moving to Scotland.

I won’t lie: the first three months were extremely hard. At one point, I was ready to pack my two suitcases again and head back to Toronto. But after a period of adjustment, some financial stability, and a little help from friends, I remembered why I wanted to move back here again. It’s funny: I’ve never felt so far away from my adopted hometown of Toronto and yet, I’ve never felt so “Canadian” before.

Maybe running away makes you realise where you want to go.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"Such a lot of fuss over a few extra S's"

BUDDY COLE HAS A BLOG! Funniest Buddy Cole sketch. evah. Might even be one of the best Kids in the Hall monologues too.
This is an English response to the Saturday Night Live skit, Lazy Sunday, that was an "internet sensation" last year. Both are hilarious.

Warning: if you're over 40, you probably won't find them funny. N'offense.
Best part of living in Europe (UK)?

Eating right- out - of - the - oven -HOT unpasteurised Vacherin cheese from France, with bread, potatoes, and fruit for dinner on a Saturday night. Followed by a big glass of red wine in a dodgy Scottish pub populated by old geezers and punters. You almost forget about the rain and abhorrent energy prices for a moment.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Last night as i was walking home from meeting a friend in city centre, i almost stepped on a hypodermic needle. i was walking along Hope street, just about to come on to the main strip - Sauchiehall Street - and rocking out to my iPod when i happened to glance down and spot this weird object. In a split second i deduced that it wasn't a dropped cigarette BUT A FUCKING NEEDLE.

As you know (Mother), i am deeply terrified/paranoid/traumatised by needles. i really have no idea why but i think it might have something to do with that mysterious illness i had when i was about 8 and it seemed like all the nurses and doctors were just interested in gouging my arms with needles. In the past 4 instances where i have had blood taken, i have fainted about 3 times. Needless to say, i don't run the risk of becoming a junkie (despite the move to Scotland) because the sheer sight of a needle makes me flail my arms about and whimper like a school girl.

In that split second that i realised that i was centimetres away from stepping on A USED NEEDLE, i did this weird reflex jump/dance move and bounded away from it. The people standing at the bus stop - where the needle was - must have thought i was a spaz that bumped into some invisible object and reacted.

But what i don't get is why, at 9pm on a Wednesday evening, a used needle is LYING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SIDEWALK?! Like, was some junkie waiting for a bus to arrive and decided to cook up and shoot RIGHT THERE? In the middle of a busy street? And if so, was anyone all, " you mind not shooting up in front of me and ma Gran after we we just had a lovely afternoon out shopping?!" Like, seriously people - WHAT THE FUCK!?

i feel bad for whose ever job it is to pick that shit up.

So, after publicly spazzing out and breaking into a cold sweat, i happened to bump into my friend's friend, David. He asked how i was and i told him how i almost stepped on a syringe about ohhh...5 minutes ago. i was obviously freaked out but more perturbed as to why a needle was just lying about for wee kids to step on and play with. He was so casual about it all and replied, "Because it's Scotland. This place is shit. Really, you should go back to Canada".