Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving

I usually don't go all introspective on my blog, but I'm feeling the need to today. I was thinking this morning where I was last year at this time. I was working for RBC through a temp agency in a position that sucked all the will to live out of me. I had left a frustrating job for this better paying somewhat promising position that completely shattered my expectations (in a bad way) and added so much frustration to my daily life. Because of this I was not a happy person. Shortly before Christmas I was laid off and had a short stint at another job that interrupted a couple months of being unemployed. Then I got this position. This position which is not perfect, but is ok. This position that is forcing me to be away from home on Thanksgiving. But I am so much happier this year. Sure it is unbearable at times to be away, and yes, that does make me miserable. I have grown this year in ways that misery doesn't crush me anymore. I'm able to get through things and still enjoy life through it (for the most part). And regarding the relationships that I've kept (of course some have fallen through the cracks) I believe that they are deeper and more meaningful than ever before. So this year, while I don't get to be home for the holiday season (I'll get home a a couple days before Christmas), I can still be thankful for loved ones back home as well as the opportunities I have now that I didn't before.

...This growth doesn't take away the fact that I can't wait to be home and can't wait for next year when I can have a home to enjoy the holidays in : )

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

California, You're Such A Wonder That I Think I'll Stay In Bed

Oh Los Angeles. The city of the rich and deluded. I'm in a beautiful boutique hotel right off the 405 close to pretty much nothing. Without a vehicle in LA, you might as well be in Nebraska. Taking a walk, all I can see are walls of green keeping my middle class eyes from spotting someone who has enough money to buy privacy. Of course all this greenery causes a lovely smell in the air, so I can't complain too much. It's an attitude that matches the physicality of the city: inaccessible. After all, you have to be exclusive to be cool, right? I keep laughing to myself when I look at a map and realize that I'm pretty much in the neighborhood that Cher was supposed to live in in the movie Clueless. If only my daddy had bought me a Jeep so I could cruise around.....

The Getty Center is very close, so once I have a day off, I will be spending it there. Although I'm not sure how to get there, as I can see it from where I am, but its basically a mountain's height above me. With Thanksgiving right around the corner and no family in sight, I'm going to have to walk the 5 miles to somewhere and hope that somewhere has an open movie theatre or cheesy diversion to keep me from missing those I love.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Whistler

Sitting in the airport waiting to finally go home, using YVR's lovely free internet, is a perfect time to blog. I realized as I was leaving this wonderful place this morning, that I never blogged about my day in Whistler. Shame on me. Here I go.

Last Saturday, we rented a car and set out for an adventure. It was a 2 hour drive which started on windy roads of the kind I haven't seen since Maui. Cliff on one side, drop and ocean on the other. Scarrrry. Thanks to the 2010 Olympics, this road has had a facelift. It used to be like that the whole way up, now it's a nice and easy highway (that does have railroad track like arms to close the whole road if it snows yikes). As we started our drive, we started climbing and noticed as we went along that mountainous islands started popping up in the midst of the water.
The fog was thick and the rain was falling. It was so dramatic. We stopped at a couple parks on the way, and finally tried to get a map at a great little coffee shop, Galileo Coffee on Britannia Beach. The barista told us to follow the road 5 more miles until we saw signs for Shannon Falls.

Just a few yards off the freeway lies this breathtaking site. The falls were so incredibly steep. It was really neat to see the way the water has gouged its way through the slick rock. If I was more adventurous (and coordinated) I would've wanted to climb up this thing. Yes, probably one of those death wishes, but really, it was so beautiful and perfect, but in a natural imperfect way, yeah? (Now I'm typing like a Canadian. Will stop) We hiked up to the closest point you could get to the falls at at one point I couldn't tell if the rain got thicker or if it really was just gushing from the falls. I think it was the falls. Pretty powerful. And oh so pretty.
We still had our sites set on Whistler, so we left Shannon falls and continued our climb. After about a half hour the rain turned to snow. The first snow for me this year! It was GORGEOUS! Visibility was awful, which makes me so glad I wasn't driving : P Our arrival at Whistler was a confusing one, as the village was created for pedestrians to get lost in. There was no snow on the ground and the ski season was a week or two away from starting, so there wasn't much going on. We walked around, but in hopes of not being too miserable walking in the snow/rain, we decided to DO something. In the visitor's center, we found this pretty harmless but awesome looking adventure. It's called a Tree Trek, and is put on by the same company that does ziplining in Whistler. I would've LOVED to zip again, but taking in how cold it was...I don't think it would've been smart. So we took this tree canopy walk, starting up in the forest in between the two mountains in Whistler. They have built platforms and suspension bridges in between these beautiful 800 year old trees. So we were, rather unsteadily, walking from tree to tree over sometimes drastic drops.
This was amazing. I can't express how beautiful and lush it was and the views were spectacular. Then it started snowing (it honestly felt like God was showing off at this point : P). The biggest fluffiest flakes I have ever seen. Just dumping down on these beautiful heavy old branches. And we got to be in the middle of it. It was an experience I will never forget.

At the end of our walk, we walked by the Olympic bobsled course. There were people there practicing and it was pretty cool to see/be that close to a vessel moving that fast. When we got back to the village, we were COLD. So we got Irish Coffees and fries with cheese at the Dubh Linn Pup in the Pan Pacific Whistler. Yummy. The sun was starting to set so we headed home. It was such a wonderful day.

This little trip made me realize how much I love BC. Well I knew I did, but seriously. Vancouver is a great city. I decided I could live there. But I also decided that BC is the place I would live if I could ever JUST paint. I would live out in the mountains, amongst the beautiful trees and cry everyday because it is just that beautiful. I'm happy to be finally getting home to see those I love, but I will DEFINITELY miss that mountain view out my window...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

About Town

A rainy day is definitely not news worthy here. Usually I would spend a rainy day in my hotel room, but I decided as it's the last weekend I have in Vancouver, I needed to still explore. I've been to quite a few places in Vancouver now, so I figured to make a little shopping guide to the city.

Last night I went to probably the most trendy restaurant I've been to in Vancouver. It's off West Broadway, over in between artsy fartsy area and UBC. It's a sushi restaurant called The Eatery. The sushi is good, the decor is pretty crazy (creature of the blue lagoon along with other paper mache creatures hanging from the ceiling) and the atmosphere is super hip. The servers were a little more into checking their makeup than serving you, but the quality and variety of the menu definitely made up for it.

My first exposure to H&M was in London. It was the cheap alternative to Top Shop with just as much variety and up to date fashion. When it came to the states I was very excited. Then I went to the shop they have at the Mall of America and was so disappointed. The H&M in Vancouver is AWESOME. Great selection, wonderful styles, without the bargain bin chaotic atmosphere of the H&M in the states. There was a lot of professional wear as well as pretty fashion forward casuals. And I got this awesome hat:
I shopped around Winners (the equivalent of Marshall's) on Granville St. and then worked my way down Robson. I found the coolest store that a friend had told me about called Bang-On (also on Robson). You can chose from hundreds of pre-made designs or combine a few very simple designs to create your own, pick a shirt, and then they make it for you! They even do custom jobs. If I had more time to devote to the project, I would totally design something kick ass. But for the time being, this design made me laugh like crazy, so I had to get it:
It wasn't too expensive, and it's pretty darn cool to have something that customizable. The staff was fun and the American Apparel shirts are oh so soft!

My next stop was True Vintage (again on Robson), a basement shop full of vintage and some new overstock type clothes. There were plenty of wonderful dresses I would've loved to take home with me! It was actually moderately priced as well. Some pieces were expensive, but there were lots of sale items too! For the vintage shopper, I would definitely suggest this shop!

Further on Robson, I walked by Time Frame Gallery and was intrigued by a few prints. I ended up buying a small one by Angelina Wrona, a Canadian Artist. She has a funky style and an interesting glossy technique that I really like!

I then made my way to Tinseltown Movie Theatre to see An Education, which I've been dying to see. Great cast with top notch acting, wonderful music, costumes and writing (which, I wouldn't suggest anything less from writer Nick Hornby:writer of High Fidelity and About A Boy). Near the end I wanted a little less of a bow-tied ending and a little more information about certain characters, but over all it was a fantastic movie, and I'd definitely suggest seeing it!

On my walk back to the hotel along Pender Street, I saw two used condoms on the sidewalk...In more appropriate news, I passed by Macleod's Books soon after. It is the most ridiculously unorganized used book store I've ever seen. I was drawn in immediately. They had some cool stuff in piles all over the store. I had such an urge to apply and just spend my days cataloguing and alphabetizing these thousands of books. Yes, I know I'm a nerd, but such things give me joy. Let me swim in a pile of books and then sort them. : ) It's a really neat place though! Lots of variety and character!

There's lots of little places I would love to become a local at if I stayed here even longer...that's the cool thing about Vancouver, lots of variety and diversity to be had!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Something to NOT do when you're out of shape...

Mountain biking sounds like fun! I have been road biking many times, but I had never tried the mountain variety. I actually haven't set bum on a bike since high school. So of course I agreed to go mountain biking with a fellow installer, who is a seasoned biker and who promised we wouldn't be doing anything challenging so I'd be ok.

The trails we were on were in the area of Vancouver where UBC is. Overall its a much more residential and calmer Vancouver. I really liked the vibe I got from the neighborhood and saw many families out together which was nice. Quite the change from downtown. We went on a trail through beautiful pine trees that smelled like everything wonderful in this world. (Kat, it had the same smell as Paradise, CA.) It started downhill, but very challenging because of the short corners caused by all the beautiful trees. Then we started going uphill. And kept climbing. And kept climbing. My quads were on fire. My guides graciously waited for me at the top of the hill. When I finally arrived, panting, they assured me it was easier from then on. Ok. I believed them. It was pretty smooth for a while, a bit up, a bit down. Then a lot down. Oh and it kept going down. And faster. Watch out for trees, pedestrians, babies, dogs, etc. I was FLYING. Literally. Catching air as they would say? Freaking out, really. Once alive at the bottom, we continued to the beach (see above picture) which was totally worth the effort to get to. After breaking and guzzling some water, I am told we're going up the hill of death to get back. This is for sure what I looked like when I heard that:
After biking for just a bit after that, I knew I was toast. So we ended up taking the road back...still killer hill, but less of a death trap and less steep for sure. It was a wonderful experience, and while I got my butt kicked by mountain biking, it might still be something I try to get into in the future. I just wish I would've gotten in shape first...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I am a hypocrite.


I am a woman of strong opinions and convictions. I cannot do something that I deem as wrong. I can justify the little stuff, but the big stuff, I simply cannot do. I have never gotten "so drunk I didn't know what I was doing." I've never lost control of my actions. And yet, I don't always practice what I preach.

Exhibit A : I love animals. I hate that people wear fur. I will not eat veil. And yet I love my burgers. I love meat. I eat a lot of chicken. I have eaten lamb once, and I felt SO terrible about it, but it tasted SO GOOD! I don't even really have a problem with people wearing leather or carrying leather handbags. I think that hunting is ridiculous. If you need food and use every part of the animal, then I don't have a problem with it. But I still think it's pretty sad. Nothing makes me more depressed than mistreated/sick/hurt animals and I would give anything to help out a little creature. I think cows are wonderful. And I eat them. I can't quite work this out in my head. Because animals rock, I'm including a picture of my kitty when he was a baby (who I would DEFINITELY not eat) :

Exhibit B : I don't know how I feel about art and design. Fine art is great. Anything goes and it starts with an idea and a talent and craft. Design is functional, but it definitely requires creativity and artistic thinking. However, I have trouble marrying the two. I don't know if its just because I'm a painter that I think that painting/drawing/sculpting is a higher art form? Photography has its place too, but I have trouble saying that digital photography is ART. It can definitely be artistic and beautiful, but is it fine high art? The art of film photography is in the technique of capturing, the science of developing, manipulating an image. If it's just point and shoot, it's too easy. But then again, the same could be said of digital, with all the doctoring we can do to manipulate the image. I think that in order for it to be a real piece of ART it must not be easy. And it must be original. I feel the same way about Thomas Kinkade like paintings as I do about dime a dozen photos. Digital art also conflicts with me. Putting a bunch of images together in a computer program to create an image well is challenging. It can be powerful and beautiful. I have trouble with the fact that there is no original workmanship in the pieces. I feel the same way when people use stencils and overhead projectors to aid in their paintings and drawings. Am I babbling? I guess I'm trying to work through my thoughts and in an effort to not be judgmental, I am trying to keep an open mind about my perspectives. Any thoughts?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Penthouse Halloween.

I spent Halloween night at a strip club. Thankfully the strippers had taken the night off to lend their stage to live music. The Penthouse is a dingy yet charming club in an area of Vancouver that gets sketchy after dark. I was worried that there could be some unwelcomed nudity disrupting my concert going fun...luckily the only nudity present was in some tasteless costumes... ie:
There were some great costumes as well. My favorite was probably the guy in Uma Thurman's Kill Bill yellow jump suit or the guy dressed as the king of hearts, walking around in a box very well painted with a cut out of his face, which was very well painted as well.

Anyway, the concert was really wonderful. The first band was Big John Bates. They had a folksy/rock sound that made me think of Flogging Molly but subtracting the Irish element. Someone said Big John Bates is Hungarian Folk Rock...which pretty much fits perfectly. They put on a really good show! The next band was The Carnival Band, a 30 piece marching band in a small venue. This was awesome. I guess to describe their sound I would say pep band/New Orleans funeral jazz/Beirut (the band). And because these descriptors might have your head swimming, I took a video (not the best sound quality, but nonetheless) :
video
It was a pretty amazing experience being crowded in with this huge band in such a small place. I loved it.

Unfortunately I didn't get to stay for the last band, but the walk home at 11:30 was seedy enough I'm glad I didn't wait too much longer. Vancouver loves their Halloween!