Saturday, February 28, 2009

Disjointed update

"I do not wish to imply that every person I meet is a potential enemy; that would be paranoia. What I mean is that one does not meet many friends in life. You have to do with the company of strangers. To be the very best of yourself, try to be loving, caring, generous, and at the same time know that all of this intensity might last only that one instant, and that the moment might never arise again." -Antonio d'Alfonso, from the intro of Gambling with Failure

And in other news...apparently there are not only divisions in the French language, but also divisions within the divisions. "J'ai parké ma car dans la ditch" (a sentence at which I laughed hysterically for a good two minutes), for example, is a perfectly acceptable phrase in certain parts of northern New Brunswick (Moncton) but not in other Acadien communities...

In other other news, I love Montréal. Not nearly as much as I love Sackville, but it's just one giant explosion of a city where you don't quite know what you're going to get from corner to corner. The highlight of the trip was finding myself on ice skates at the top of Mont Royal...and in my ongoing struggle with the French language, I think it improved after only a few days there.

Returning to Sackville, it was sort of weird to not be frantically stringing together French phrases in my head while standing in the check-out line. I had to buy new headphones because I somehow managed to lose mine and I'm standing in Jean Coutu pharmacy thinking, "Crap, how do I say 'Where are the headphones' in French?" when it dawned on me that I was back in an English speaking community...(Où sont les écouteurs?...I think).

I need to stop falling in love with places...while I suppose everyone has roots somewhere, I seem to have a strange and shallow root system in really random places, constantly finding other places to land myself...which sort of makes it seem like I don't have any.


Friday, February 20, 2009

A partial list

I love life because:

1) There's a solid chance that I could stay at Mt. A next semester. Apparently the director of AU Abroad agrees with my idea in theory. I just need to find money. Lots of money. And decide how badly I want to apply for that Fulbright. Because I would be just as happy with grad school somewhere in (probably Eastern) Canada.

2) I'm going to Montreal for reading break! I've never been, and at least ten people have told me that I have to. This means I'm going to have another set of 7 million pictures!

3) It's snowed for 2 days in a row.

4) "The Witch of the Westmorland" just came on my iTunes.

5) I'm holding out hope for the results of President Obama's visit to Ottawa.

6) It's my half-birthday! (I still observe those.)

7) I love my friends here, even when they decide to push me down icy stairs and into piles of snow because apparently that's a "Canadian" experience. Apparently falling up stairs into a bowl of fruit salad is, too.

8) I found a group of wonderful wonderful friends who like to sit around their living room and play the piano/fiddle/viola/mandolin/sing a cappella folk songs. And have tea. And cucumber sandwiches, which are oh so very good.

9) I find myself missing summertime DC a little bit--my friends and my job and the chance to go for really long bike rides on days off. This makes the list because it's nice to have a sense of happiness wherever you are....

10) Someone taught me how to turn and stop on skis so I no longer have to careen down the hill at 7 million kph and just collapse at the end when I think I'm going to ram into the lodge. Well...I mean I still do that, but not for the entire way down.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thoughts on dead cats

Sane people do not put their dead cats in the freezer. Am I correct in saying this?

Putting dead cats in the freezer is creepy. Also correct, yes?

Therefore, if I know someone who has stuck a dead cat in the freezer, I can reasonably assume that this person is 1) insane and 2) creepy, right?

And if this person happens to head up one of the departments at American University (see a few posts below for a fun rant), then I can also reasonably surmise that this department is run by insane and creepy people and could potentially be the reason why it's

In relation to this, I'd like to include an excerpt about the same person from my previous blog:

"Second of all, when you walk into an office and somebody has put four cans of Diet Coke in the freezer (one, ok, that's understandable, but four? In what dimension or lifetime is that ever necessary?) and forgotten about them...and the freezer is covered in frozen Coke slush....this is annoying.

It gets even more annoying when you realize that the person who put the Coke cans there is one of the directors of that particular office. Moreover, of an office that's suppose to represent the top academic students at AU. Moreover, of the same office and director that have been driving you crazy because of their inability to function effectively for several months now.

Sometimes I wonder how the hell people get put in charge of stuff. I really think squirrels could do a better job of managing the world sometimes. And if they messed up, it would be forgiveable because they're cute, fuzzy, and they're not egocentric maniacs who think they know everything simply because they have a PhD."

Maybe if this person wasn't so busy sticking shit in freezers, they would get stuff done.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The fickle lover

Cher Français,

Vous êtes inconstant. Je cours après vous pendant huit années maintenant--vous êtes si beau que je ne peux pas vous résister--et vous m’évitez toujours. Vous et moi, nous irions bien ensemble, mais évidemment, vous ne le pensez pas. Nous avons l’air d’être contents aux autres, mais ces problèmes profonds avec notre relation ne résoudront jamais.

Mais je vais continuer de vous vous aimer...jusqu’à la fin. Je voudrais habiter avec vous, je voudrais apprendre tout de voudrais vous connaitre !
Pourquoi vous m’évitez comme ça, mon chéri ? Pourquoi ?

For those of you who are going to yell at me for posting in French, let me just sum up: I love French. It hates me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

iTunes and crusty metaphors

Before the midterm--

As I'm studying for my Canadian Culture exam, I get to the section about La Revolution Tranquille, and what song comes on? "Toune d'automne" by Les Cowboys Fringants. They even mention "la grande noirceur" in the song, I realize...

And after the midterm--

Wow, I need to keep better track of my time. I got so excited about the fact that I actually knew the short answer questions that I wrote probably double what I needed to, though I definitely had to gloss over several who exactly Duplessis was... (though when it came to the Quiet Revolution, I had one of those "oh boy!" moments)...then I had to discuss and fully explain the "Janus-faced" attitude of Canadians towards American culture in a grand total of 30 minutes...and unfortunately, that's a topic that I could ramble on about for awhile.

I wound up comparing Canadian views of American culture to "a giant melting a big glob of cheese fondue that's crusted over." I thought the dairy analogy went well with the idea of homogenization...and cheese being a French thing and how, you know, the States wouldn't exist without France's help during the American Revolution...hence the crusting over...though what Canadians don't always realize is that that whole French-English blend of cultures thing also exists there are similarities...but it's crusted over so they can't see them...

Though that all may have been just a tad too obscure. Though now I'm tempted to go and write something about the metaphorical implications of cheese fondue...or maybe to just go eat a giant pot of it, I'm not sure which. Possibly both.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dear American University administration,

You know...if I'd known you were this bureaucratic and protective from the outset, I probably would have gone somewhere else. I'm sure all universities are guilty of this, but because I'm having to put up with you, it's you that I'm going to gripe about.

Response from my international adviser regarding extending my stay at Mt. A: "
AU only has a relationship with Mt. Allison through Killam. If you were to stay, you would have to apply for a permit to leave AU, and enroll directly at Mt. Allison as a visiting student, and pay your tuition and fees there. As you would be taking a leave of absence here, you would not be eligible to receive an AU based financial aid. There is a process to do all of this, so let me know if you want to pursue it."

OK...c'mon. It's an undergraduate education. I'd be graduating from you either way. Why must you be so difficult to deal with? Why must you be a giant corporation?

On a similar note, goooo Housing and Dining for wanting to install extra security measures in the residence halls. I'm willing to bet a lot of money (say...the amount they're going to waste on the installation of these systems) that they're doing this for 1) image and 2) the parents who send their precious babies off to university in the middle of a scary city (for those of you who haven't seen AU, the campus is extremely suburban--yes, there have been security issues in the surrounding town, but those have to be dealt with by the MPD). Because students might be sneaking into residence halls to, oh, I don't know, go see their significant others without them having to walk six floors down to "claim" them. How horrid!

This is coming from the same university that spent God knows how much for Public Safety scooters--I spoke to an officer once who got banned from his scooter for doing wheelies. You know why he was doing wheelies? Because he was bored. My best joke on tours of your campus involves point out how silly they look whizzing around campus with their bike helmets. Maybe I'm just not paying enough attention to the police blotter in the Eagle.

This is why I pay $30,000 a year. In tuition costs alone. (I hear the resounding "But you're getting a good education!" cries in the distance--I would like to point out that international costs for Mt. A are 13,000 a year and I have classes with some of the foremost Canadian Studies academics in the country) I'm fairly certain that a large chunk of this is also going to the ridiculously high costs of catering for the "Strategic Plan" meetings that I keep getting emails about. Sure, as a student, I could have been attending these meetings--where they're discussing how to best update the website (among other things, but I'm choosing to point out that one because it strikes me as the most pointless). Here at Mt. A, they had a student-run forum on how the campus and its students can be more environmentally friendly/efficient/non-destructive...I couldn't go to that, either; I had rehearsal. I know there's a sort of lack-of-legitimacy critique for someone who complains about things she hasn't been to, and the issues will vary between universities...but...c'mon. Really?

I don't miss you, American University administration.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Why I don't want a job with a suit (and other thoughts)

There's a song by Old Man Luedecke called "I Quit My Job." The lyrics go like this:

Oh bright minds of poverty
Hold on to your hard-won liberties
And discard your store bought realities

Don’t let them take the joy that you make
On your own

Work when you need to, maybe
Don’t let ‘em bleed you, baby
They do nothing more than feed you lady

Don’t let them take the joy that you make
On your own

Don’t fuss, don’t fight it, no
Take that wrong and right it (ho?)
Can always live on rice and potatoes
Take your heart’s candle and relight it

I quit my job,
I quit my job,
I quit my job,
I’m free today

Should be proud of where I am
All my friends work their dreams with their hands
And truly this is the promised land

If you don't let 'em take the joy that you make
On your own

Don’t kill yourself about making it
Just be takin' it easy but be takin' it
There’s enough out there who are fakin' it

Don’t let them take, the joy that you make
On your own

Don't fuss don't fight it, no
Take that wrong and right it...
Can always live on rice and potatoes
Take your heart's candle and relight it

I quit my job,
I quit my job,
I quit my job,
I'm free today.

I have a new-found love for this guy. He has another one called "Proof of Love" which I highly recommend listening to for a new outlook on life. Actually, all of his stuff rocks.

And on a slightly unrelated note...what's up with everyone getting engaged and wedded and popping out babies and all that stuff? By "everyone" I mean people I've known for forever/friends my age from school. It's wonderful, really, and yay for them, but all these huge and permanent life events are sort of throwing me off. Can we all just go back and play on a swingset or in a sandbox for a minute?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some thoughts on Valentines...

Historically, I have set myself up to abhor this holiday. I haven't quite broken out of the angsty middle school angry chick-lit loving black-wearing "counterculturalism" mentality that generally makes a bigger deal over Valentine's Day than those who actually observe the holiday the "correct" way. It's kind of fun being an outspoken grump.

Last VD (I would also like to point out that the abbreviation is the same for "venereal disease"), I found myself stuck in an elevator. It was only for a half-hour, but I had a lovely chat with the other guy in there (I get eyebrow wiggles when I say this, but I assure you, we were just talking, otherwise I wouldn't be blogging about it). Actually, I think I still have his phone number, but we never did get around to hanging out after that. Regardless, I highly recommend getting stuck in elevators as a pretty solid way to generate life-long memories.

This year, however, there's a lesser degree of cynicism...definitely haven't verged into the appreciative category, either, but more...apathetic, I guess. I suppose holidays in general invoke fewer and fewer emotions as you age. Though oddly enough, we have two performances of Dido and Aeneas today. This means two things: 1) Because I am in the pit, I actually have to wear black all day, and 2) I get to sit through two episodes of tragic Roman love gone wrong.

I also had to laugh at the menu at meal hall tonight--corn dogs (pogos), onion rings, and french fries with chili and cheese sauce. Some guy pointed out that they're catering to the crowd without valentines...I agreed, though I think they also ought to be passing out cans of Reddi-Whip and cheap boxed chocolates, along with tissues for dramatic effect.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dear Canada,

I would like to file my first official complaint.


Rain? In February? All day? With the temperature just straddling freezing so parts of the sidewalk are invisibly slick?

Could you at least make it snow instead? It looks much prettier.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


That's right. INTERNATIONAL.

In which I find a sense of myself, lose it, but still try to articulate it (aka My Love Letter to Canada Continued)

Yeah, long title.

I have found a country whose general sense of politics agrees with my own.

I came to this discovery this morning while talking to one of my Canadian Studies profs. It was one of those flashing moments where, in that instant, I could have explained everything to you, and then lost the exact details, has something to do with the fact that strict/loose readings of the constitutional documents and judicial review don't exist in this country.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms only seeks to define civil liberties to the extent that they can exist in a "free and democratic" whether the text of the documents is, in essence, banning gay marriage/abortions/whatever...those debates don't happen like they do in the States. (If you've ever heard me say that I don't think abortion and gay marriage should be political issues, that's exactly what I mean.) It's just assumed (or so I think the train of thought went) that individual choice is part of a "free and democratic" society...I can't articulate it like he did, but for a moment, life made sense in my head.

Then I got distracted by a bug on the wall or something and lost everything, but I've never experienced a moment of clarity when it comes to politics, and that finally happened today.

Actually, I was talking about multiculturalism after skating with a friend yesterday, and he said "You know, I don't quite get why they make such a big deal about it. Why can't everyone just be nice to each other?" I agreed with him fully, but at the same time figure that not everyone thinks that way...but this idea of "hands off, leave it alone and just be nice" seems to pervade here. And I like that. Very much.

My quest to have a really kick-ass answer to the next person who asks me "Why Canada?" continues...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Culture shock (of approximately 10 million volts)

Today in class, we were discussing what is meant by the term "violence." One girl accused Americans of "violently" going in and taking away the culture of India by diverting customer support and industry there. Not the US or the government. Americans. I had my objections to raise about that, but unfortunately, the discussion had to move on.

The conversation after class boiled down to America's apparent tendency to kill other cultures. I mentioned that yes, I'm an American and I'm going around wielding my cultural knife. Someone suggested a scythe as a better weapon, and someone else mentioned the grim reaper...this is the image it sparked in my mind, put onto paper (sorry for the crappy quality, but I only have a webcam, not a scanner).

Then, for fun, I googled "America as grim reaper" and found this (keep in mind mine came first in my thought process, thankyouverymuch):

I really can't decide if that's a blind declaration of patriotism or a political comment. It's actually a fairly insightful idea, but in my book, people who get tattoos of grim reapers aren't likely permanently etch insightful observations on their skin--"fuck the institution" ideals maybe, yes, but not ones that require a lot of thought.

And while this was all supposed to relate to culture, I wonder if the grim reaper should be holding a dollar bill and beckoning at the rest of the world.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This weekend, summarized in epiphanies, observations, and realizations

1) I want to go to Cape Breton.

2) I'd like to re-string my violin and start playing it again.

3) I want to learn how to clog/do jigs/etc.

4) Applications for a Fulbright to Canada and applications to grads program north of the 49th parallel (probably in Canadian studies with a focus on either music or US-Canada relations) will be happening next year. Anybody wanna guess where I'd like to spend a large chunk of my time?

5) I can't dance (that's actually a re-realized epiphany). Though I like the music that accompanies #3 so much that I'm hoping it would help.

6) Every time I read the Post, I get a sinking feeling about having to move back to the States with the current economy.

7) Garlic fingers with donair sauce (Maritime specialty!) accompanied with sangria is just about the best late-night meal in the history of ever.

8) I can actually hold my liquor, I just need to eat something.

9) Theatrical pieces that need to be explained have dubious artistic merit, even if the acting is excellent (at least in my opinion--maybe I'm just not cool enough to understand them. Could be 'cause they're postmodern...).

10) I need to find something to do/make up my mind regarding plans for reading break.

11) "Reading break" seems to be a misnomer to the students, though not to the profs.

12) (Not to get overly nostalgic or anything) The best memories really do lie in the little things. Like your great-great uncle who came to Christmas Day with lots of dollar bills in tow, and every grandchild got one. Or the coloring contests that your family had every summer. Or the time you met someone doing handstands in the hallway. Or going pottery painting on a damp summer evening. Or deciding that chai, sandwiches, and 10 Things I Hate About You was the best plan for a Saturday night.

13) There is a woman/actress out there who has my name. She looks like this:

Thank you, Google. "Rachel Cannon" seems like a very bland name for a glamourous blond actress...I'd change it if I were her, especially since there seem to be about 7 million people by that name in this world.

Friday, February 6, 2009

How to be smart and philosophical without ever cracking open a book

1) If you're ever trying to explain something and can't, or just don't know how to start, put on a very long-suffering look and say "You wouldn't understand. It's postmodern."

2) If you ever do successfully explain something and someone says they don't understand, say, "Of course you don't. It's postmodern."

3) If a postmodernist happens to be among the listeners, switch gears and claim they wouldn't understand because they're just too postmodern.

4) If you have nothing at all to contribute, look mysterious and broodingly pensive.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

They call it the Great White North for a reason

This is what I see when I look out my window right now:

I realize that's probably not all that terrible as far as snowstorms go, and about 50% of that is probably due to blowing snow that was already on the ground, but I've never seen it like this before. I'm wondering if you can call this a blizzard, just so I can finally say I've seen one.

Appropriately enough, we covered Québec culture today in one of my classes--specifically, Maria Chapdelaine--which, if you don't know, is a cornerstone of Québécois literature by a French guy who wanted to write about the hardship of the countryside/la patrimoine of the Québécois (though a good read, it's thoroughly depressing--unless you're like me and read it in French, in which case you won't understand enough of it to be depressed). And it takes place au milieu d'hiver. And as I trudged across piles of snow today with ice pellets slamming my face, my scarf and tuque (yes, tuque) frozen over...I felt for a moment like Miss Chapdelaine. Except, you know, for that whole being French thing...and not having three suitors, a dead mother, or the voice of Québec speaking to me.

And the food that was waiting for me inside was sub-par cafeteria nosh and NOT a vat full of maple syrup (which, I like to imagine is what they ate before poutine was invented--funny they were all so sad. If all I ate was maple products I'd amuse myself by bouncing off the walls).

Still. It was an experience. And I loved it. Though I need to stop gaping out the windows during class--my profs are going to think there's something wrong with me.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Things that I forgot I don't miss about living in dorms:

1) Burnt popcorn. C'mon guys. 2 minutes. Listen to the pops. Follow the directions.

Things that I forgot I liked about being American:

1) Super Bowl commercials.

Things that I already knew about being a college student:

1) I am addicted to my computer.

Things that I'm learning about Canadian politics:

1) They really keep you on your toes--now that I get how this all works, I'm really enjoying learning about different administrations in history.

Geography and French lessons

Yesterday, a friend and I were reviewing a map of the States so I could show him the 3 cities I've lived in. He was asking if I'd seen a lot of snow because Washington's fairly far north, right?

Him: (pointing to Washington state) And you're from here, right?

Me: No...I live here. (points to the District of Columbia)

Him: Wait....where's the White House?

Me: Here. (points again to DC)

Him: Ohhh....wait, you mean Washington the city is not in Washington the state? Oh wow...I never knew that!

I then cleared up the difference between the state and the district (which, let's face it, is confusing because it's a city but it's also a district and not a state even though it has separate boundaries). I couldn't help but laugh and had to keep assuring him that it's really an easy mistake to make. I'm pretty sure I didn't know the difference for awhile, either. I mean, you've got Quebec, Quebec, New York, New York, so why not Washington, Washington? And I didn't know Ottawa was the capital of Canada until a few years ago, which is probably much worse...

And going with the French theme from last post, I went to dinner at another friend's uncle's house. She kept telling me that I speak French very well (like I'm from France, which she would know, because she lived in France). I still don't believe her, but another friend from Paris told me the exact same thing once. There may be something to that, though, because her mother, grandfather, and the rest of her family were also impressed. Quelque jour, je parlai couramment!

Her mother was explaining to me why Canadians (Maritimers in particular) are so wonderfully hospitable--because the conditions are so harsh, it's almost a survival instinct...stick together and don't leave anyone out or behind. That, she was telling me, is why so many of their activities are group or family-focused. And I have noticed that here--even on campus, people don't go many places by themselves. You rarely see anyone sitting alone at meal hall, and I've noticed that people even go to the grocery store in pairs or groups. That's a distinctive difference from what I'm used to in Washington (DC), where I have no problem doing just about everything by myself. I suppose that also has a lot to do with the small town mentality...but either way, it's one of those subtle differences. And it (like most other things) is a difference that I rather like.