Saturday, June 20, 2009

'just the way i am'

go here and check out a very positive message about how women can improve the self esteem of other women.

there is a reason why all women love the line in bridget jones' diary about mark darcy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

just as it should be

i began to get a titch of the overwhelmption earlier this week (potential new home purchase, trip to lake louise, upcoming trip to thailand, lots of dates to coordinate, and summer plans to make), but then i took a deep breath and reminded myself that if i am not content with the way things are NOW then i will constantly be waiting until things come together.

this is not a perspective i historically have been too comfortable with, but am getting better at calming myself down and realising that things happen when they should and that all the planning in the world can be for naught when you don't know the future.

i am taking a step back and giving this one to the universe. i need a home. i need to go to thailand. i need to have a good summer. and i will, one way or another.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

bon courage!

i was honoured to be asked to represent the u of c alumni as a distinguished graduate at yesterday's convocation ceremony and did not realise that it would be quite the task to speak into a microphone in front of hundreds of people (that jack simpson gymnasium is big!) to recite the oath of the graduates until i got to the venue.

through my nerves, i managed to have a really great time and enjoyed congratulating all the new graduates. being part of the platform and sitting on the stage for graduation is much more interesting and enjoyable than actually being a graduate, in my opinion!

one of the perks of spending my afternoon at the convocation was an invitation to the dinner honouring the honourary degree recipients and i met so many fascinating and inspiring people. and who knew that my volunteer work with the federal liberal party would come in handy when i ran into the candidate yesterday and she introduced me to provincial mla's and offered to help me any way she can.

my new goal is to get an honourary degree so i can continue to attend those dinners. it seems WAY more appealing than going back to uni for years!

this year, u of c gave honourary degrees to Dr James Orbinski, Phil Fontaine, and Johann Koss and it was my goal to meet each of them, but sadly it was not to be and i will not be whisked off to work with msf canada, the ministry for indian affairs, or right to play. but i will not be discouraged.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

tweet tweet

here are a few things i would have tweeted (if i was a tweeter) this past week while in san francisco:

i just witnessed san franciscan road rage: ‘in front of you, fag!’ followed by ‘woah, lesbian bitch!’

just realised that i carry no less than 10 lip glosses around with me when i had to put them in a plastic bag to go through airport security.

i am in heaven. otherwise known as the petite section of banana republic.

i just ate mexican food that nearly made me cry. it still might.

wow, that’s gay.

i am not sure if my bartenders play on my team, but they keep pouring me wine.

just rode an elevator that i’m pretty sure doubles as the homeless’ toilet.

totally rocking the dress/pant combo because i got too cold and had to buy a pair of pants.

going into an unmarked club down an alleyway in an industrial part of a city i do not know. totally safe.

sitting on a balcony in an old victorian house drinking pink champagne overlooking the city and the bay. magical.

in a matter of 5 minutes saw a man preaching abstinence and telling me that jesus loves me and asked to sign a petition overturning prop 8.

just ordered my coffee in spanish, by accident.

in the castro, feels like a pilgrimage. and i am not even a gay man.

iced coffee with mint in the castro with my san franciscan tour guide/bartender/date.

i could live in the fitting rooms of antropologie and come out at night to admire all their wares.

no frye boots in my size. shame.

red wine + clam chowder + view of the ocean + cute hispanic servers = why don’t i live here?

some streets smell considerably better than others. like this one.

seeing black homeless people is strange to me. homeless people in calgary don’t tend to be black, do they. interesting observation.

yowsa! forgot about the terror alert level announcements at the airports. no wonder everyone’s paranoid.

the cure for a hangover = panna cotta + fish tacos + heirloom tomatoes + blue bottle coffee.

organic raspberries are not necessary sweet raspberries.

i think i love facials. and magi, who did mine.

when he asked if he could give me another croissant with my purchase, who was i to say no?

even the people working in the retail shops seem happy to be helping you!

is my flight delayed because my pilot is trying to floss a seed out of his teeth?!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

books about africa

i was recently asked for an email with my suggestions on books about africa and this is what i came up with so i figured it might be useful to someone so i am also posting it here.

here are some of my favourite books about africa:

The Zanzibar Chest (Aidan Hartley) - memoir about life as a foreign correspondent in Africa and that whole post colonial guilt thing.

Sweetness in the Belly (Camilla Gibb) - fiction about a white woman who grows up in Muslim Ethiopia, amazing read.

Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) - fiction set during the Baifran war in Nigeria, awesome and based on a lot of real events.

My Traitor's Heart (Rian Malan) - memoir of an Afrikaaner who fought against apartheid in South Africa, truly explores the white guilt and the issue of Africanness, I think you'd like it a lot.

In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz (Michela Wrong) - journalist writes about Mobutu and his rule in the DRC, the one I was telling you about. Tough to get through at times, but you'll learn a lot about why the country remains effed to this day.

We Wish to Inform you That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families (Philip Gourevitch) - excellent account of the genocide in Rwanda and the role of the international community in prolonging the killings.

Shake Hands With the Devil (Romeo Dallaire) - the book that the commander of UN peacekeepers in Rwanda during the genocide wrote about his experience and frustrations with the UN system and watching people die, also a bit tough at times, but there is a glossary that always helps!

Don't Let's Go To the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller) - memoir of a poor, white Zimbabwean family, so interesting and an easy read.

Tick Bite Fever (David Bennun) - funny memoir of growing up white in Africa. Not fantastic, but an easy read.

Swahili For the Broken Hearted (Peter Moore) - I don't love his writing, but he did a trip through Africa riding solely on public transport and wrote about it, so there are some gems in amongst the other bits.

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (Gil Courtemanche) - fiction (but probably mostly true) about the expats during the genocide in Rwanda. The story will make you cry, but I loved the raw writing of the French Canadian author.

Acts of Faith (Philip Caputo) - an awesome novel about the war in Southern Sudan, the community of pilots, how the UN capitulates war, and the scandals of it all, a really great read and I know from my pilot friends that the story is true and the names were just changed.

Emma's War (Deborah Scroggins) - non fiction, about a British woman who rocks up in Southern Sudan in the middle of a civil war, marries one of the rebel war lords, becomes his second wife, and then actively participates in the war, alienating most people she knows. I also think you'd really like this as it shows the naivity and sincerity of foreign aid workers and those who feel th eneed to 'save' Africa. One of the characters in the book above is based on her, undoubtedly.

You asked for it, and there you have it! I surprised myself with how many books I could pull out of my head and I clearly could start my own post-colonial African literature course...

What can I say - I didn't have a TV for a number of years... nothing like reading a book when you are in bed with a hangover in Nairobi.

pozole, tamales, empanadas, oh my!

and another amazing restaurant: tropisueno.

the mexican food here was so good, i almost cried. fresh corn tortillas, homemade salsa verde, frijoles. i was in food heaven.

Friday, June 05, 2009

food links if you find yourself in san francisco

i finally got myself up and running yesterday and battled the hangover with a mixture of starbucks coffee (where is a t ho's when you need it?), a panna cotta from miette (it was divine and they gave me a dollar bill back when i returned the jar, which made me smile), two mahi mahi fish tacos from taylor's automatic refresher (oh, i forgot how good real mexican food really is), 3 organic heirloom tomatoes purchased from the farmer's market, and a drip coffee from the bluebottle coffee co.

all of these delights (sans starbies) were found in the ferry building and if you are going to come to san francisco, i must insist that you get yourself to this place to eat your way through it. even if you do not have a hangover. there is a man who sells nothing but mushrooms! and a real cheese shop! and produce that made my insides warm! i do love a market.

continuing on with my theme of food, i went out for passable indian food last night and then to an indy club called popscene to see a band called music for animals. it was good. the beer continued to disappoint, but the company was fun and meeting the band afterwards made me feel sort of like a rock star. or more like a groupie.

and then this morning (hangover free, yippee!), i tried to get to mama's for their famous brunch, but was scared away by the length of the queue and happened upon a gem of an italian cafe called cafe divino that serve some of the best eggs benedict i've had along with an excellent cup of coffee.

and i still have one more evening, an entire day, and another morning to finish eating my way through san francisco!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

brain on skull

i insist that you get over to whoopee and read her latest post. it almost made me forget that my brain is sitting on the inside of my skull from drinking red wine last night.

i ordered just one glass and then there i was sitting politely as the bartender continued to fill my glass and then the next thing i knew, i was shooting tequila (really good tequila too!) with the two bartenders at a restaurant called LuLu in san francisco...

now i must find a coffee, lots of water, and some diner that will serve me greasy food within a few minutes' walking distance so i can get on with my exploring of this fabulous city.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

first day in the bay city

i love this place! and to save time writing and instead do important things like sleep so that i am rested up for another busy day tomorrow, here you have a bulleted list:
  • i've only walked through one cloud of marijuana smoke since arriving
  • the BART transit system is rather easy to navigate and the trip from the airport to my hotel was effortless, which is always a relief (but who puts carpet in public transit?!)
  • there are a lot of good looking dudes in san fran and most times, i have no idea whose team they play on
  • i had a delectable cupcake from kara's cupcakes in ghiradelli square, where i also got to sample some of the famous ghiradelli chocolate
  • dinner was lovely (wild salmon, asparagus, mushroom, tomato, and artichoke heart pasta) and gave me another dairy stomach ache (this dairy thing is really getting out of hand)
  • there are A LOT of hills in this city
  • the twirly whirly road is really cool
  • when i needed a caffeine injection to get me up and down those hills, i stopped at boulange de polk for a chocolate croissant and a cappuccino, it was magnificent
  • there are some really cute little boutiques in the russian hill/nob hill area of the city and i know i would be a frequent visitor if i lived here
  • because the flight this morning was westjet's inaugural flight to sfo, i got a lot of free stuff. who knew that westjet has their own lip chap?
  • i forgot that american beer sort of tastes like water until i ordered a pint. i could probably drink 10 of those to match my 5 at home!
  • my bird's nest of hair compared to many of the people on the streets of san francisco
  • there is an anthropologie within 3 minutes walking distance from my hotel (which is also great!), which could be potentially dangerous