Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Me and Boys

My friend Matt and I are going to be performing at a talent night. Talent? What?

Remember when I bought a guitar in Seoul during my first week of being there? I saw what I thought was a near-murder on the subway, until the train pulled away and revealed a camera crew and I cried tears of fright and overwhelmedness and homesickness and aloneness? And then I practiced off and on throughout my year in Korea?


I am sometime soon going to debut my guitar playing skill.

I have sang at coffeehouses and things before but playing guitar is a whole 'nother story.

We had our second actual practice today and went from beginner to novice on one song. It's fantastic. We're fantastic. Music is fantastic.

The other day my school friends came over and we drank wine and sang show tunes. It was fantastic too. They're great, my school friends.

Here are the school friends.

Here I am with school friend Romeo. Having a friend whose name is actually Romeo is fantastic.

Even class was fantastic today.

Dan comes tomorrow. Hmm.. what shall we do in Toronto? (Look at this old picture of me with curly hair.)

Why all the pictures? I have awfully awful readings to do tonight. I already ate too many things and played music and checked facebook ten times so I figured I'd blog.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Jessica's "how-much-guessing-game" challenge!

I love the grocery store in Chinatown! Check out today's loot:

I got bananas, noodles, honey peas, australian apples, cherries, an English cucumber, two three-packs of garlic, mushrooms, seven small Asian pears, a leaf lettuce head, four small red peppers, two yellow peppers, three American tomatoes, two cut broccoli heads, two small bok choys, a celery stalk thing, and two green peppers.

Two questions for you that you must answer if you are caught reading this: How much would this cost you at a grocery store? How much do you think I paid in Chinatown?

This may be the highlight of my week - don't let me down.

The answer will come when enough guesses have been registered.

For dinner I made this lovely stirfry.

Just kidding about my weekly highlight. Dan is coming to visit! Yay Dan!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

a lucky break

My group of four split up in the morning armed with letters on U of T letterhead, addresses of plastic surgery clinics in the city, and a plan; to set up as many interviews with practitioners as possible.

We're doing a research project on the 'preservation of youth', so hoping to speak with people who are in the business of anti-aging, whether that be surgery, creams, or anything else related to this idea.

Jen and I took off for our addresses, all located in and around Yorkville where the rich people hang out and where the bulk of plastic surgery clinics are. We walked in to many more than orignally were on our list and found that people were generally quite receptive to our requests. I guess we have more legitimacy as grad students than as something else. Or maybe people are always relatively receptive. I didn't think they would be.

We'd booked three or four actual interviews and had a number of leads before we headed to our last location - its name, "the Fountain of Youth." We did our thing for one girl. She looked uncomfortable and passed us off to another. Who passed us off to another. Who said, "I have some time now. Why don't you come in and interview me." Ahhhh.

We got one question into the interview (thankfully we had some questions prepared) when she was called out of the room. She poked her head back in two minutes later and said, "I'm going to give a woman some Botox injections. Come and watch."

We struck gold. We ended up watching not only the Botox but also a breast augmentation consultation which later turned into a lip injection (this is quite a business), and a mole removal. It was ridiculously unethical and amazing. The woman who let us watch all this stuff was nuts.

The lessons learned are that people love to talk about themselves and that nobody involved in plastic surgery wants to be considered one of "those people" who go over the top, even if they come in for their boobs and end up talking about what they plan for their nose, lips, and cheek lines.

It will be a very interesting project. Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I should be suspended from class. I don't know my elbow from my ass.

I can't seem to get that song out of my head.

And I can't seem to get imposter's syndrome out of my conscience.

I was excited last week and this week I'm bummed. Bummed bummed bummed. Not because I got 84% in both Immigration and Theory (one percent away from an A in both), exactly. More because of feelings of humilation for submitting a bad paper to my supervisor with embarassingly negative comments all over it. And because my paper on suicide bombers that I worked hard on is still worth only an A-, the lowest 'good' grade one receives in grad school. Most of all because I'm more and more aware all the time that academia is not for me and that I don't know what is for me.

My inappropriate advisor told me she thinks I look depressed and flat. I was feeling fine then. Today I'm feeling depressed and flat. What an inspiration! What guidance!

Don't let it get to you, self.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday morning and it's hailing

I need to go back to sleep right now.

First I'll quickly tell you that I was a movie-watching fiend this weekend: I saw Half Nelson, some rented movie to do with shrinks and dating and Jews, and Dreamgirls. Yeah, Dreamgirls! Music is lovely.

This week I have many, many things to do. Mostly good things. Maybe I'll win a prize today. I'll let you know.

By the way, what should I do with my life?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Outsider me

In every class there is usually at least one student from outside the department. Though generally friendly, we sociology students are obviously a close-knit group, not to mention the fact that outsiders are usually smarter, so said outsiders are often given nick-names and things. In other words, they stand out.

Today I'm traipsing over to OISE, the school of education, for a class on Education, Language, and Culture. I wonder what the other students will be like who are doing their Master's (and maybe PhD) in education. Older, ex-teachers? Young people? Men?? Unlikely. I'll get to be the outsider for a change. Maybe I'll get a nickname.

Getting sick of hearing about school?

I bought a subscription for theatre tickets today. And I've been doing poorly with my plan to reduce internet time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Another good class? Is it possible?

Oh joy!

I have to contrast this first class of qualitative methods with the first class of theory last semester. Back then we all had something to prove. The atmosphere was stiff and scared. We went around the room and introduced ourselves, "My name is ______ and I'm interested in the cross-sectionality of _____ and ______ and how that reflects the post-modern blah blah blah-ism." It was brutal.

Today we were greeted with a young, curly-haired professor with almost stylish frames and a warm smile. She hesitated at allowing two non-sociology students to enroll in the class because she likes to use this opportunity as a sociology bonding moment. We don't need it - it's already done. Again, we went around the room describing our interests, and also our goals for academia. Almost every single one of us said this: I am undecided about whether I want to do a PhD. Applications are due in less than a month.

Qualitative research is what I've been missing! It fits me to a T! Forget statistics and everything it stands for! Sure it's given much more credit, funding, and worth in the field, but qualitative has something that, for me at least, stats lacks. Creativity. Gone are dull, data driven papers (feel free to argue with me about my use of 'dull'), and instead there is room for creative writing that is easy - even enjoyable - to read. Ahh.

Not only that but this kind of methodology allows for interaction with real, live people. And not just academic people in a conference stroking each other's egos and other things. The professor was sure to tell us that a qualitative researcher ought not to use academic language to ask questions. It's simplicity that generates the most interesting stuff. That's great. I love that. I hate the opposite of that which is why I've hated grad school up until this point. Qualitative, I love you.

We have to do a research project and the only guidelines are that we study some group related to the politics of preservation. Some examples are those that preserve languages at threat of extinction, the preservation of Quebec nationalism, or the preservation of cheese makers.

I have formed a group and we're thinking of ideas. The preservation of Jewish culture? The preservation of natural beauty? The preservation of live theatre? The preservation of books? What do you think, you brilliant people out there?

One method of qualitative research is photography. I want to do that! Qualitative, I love you.

Heavy eye lids but no sleep a' comin'

Can't sleep at 1 am. Why not? Because I slept from about 7:30 until about 1o this evening. Why? Two reasons.

The first is that I got a call from the doctor this morning: I do indeed have strep throat. Isn't that lovely. I could have had antibiotics on Friday had they run their easy-to-run throat swab the same day I went to see them. Instead I got to spend the weekend in pain and fever, thinking it would just clear up on it's own.

Upon receiving the call this morning, interestingly, I felt decidedly worse. My kidneys hurt. I was tired early. I had a headache that wouldn't quit.

The second reason for the nap is my new goal to reduce internet time. Instead I was reading in bed. Hence the falling asleep. Obviously that would happen.

Guess what? I'm broke. Where's my January cheque?

Today I had a talk with my advisor. What are my plans, she wanted to know. I'm going to work for a while and see where that takes me. In what field? Research, I suppose. I'm counting on a job at Statistics Canada that I applied for in December and still haven't heard back from. I think I'm an ideal candidate. She wants to know what skills I have that make me a good researcher. Good question. I hate researching. Why would I want to go into research? I told her I am a good writer and a hard worker when I'm interested. She told me not to say that in a job interview. Thanks for the tip. She has connections in the field so hopefully she can hook me up. Too bad I don't do a good job for her in my research work. She apologized for this week's grunt work. I told her I like grunt work. I'm a born grunt worker.

I shared with her the magical secret of ratemyprofessors.com and she was excited. Lucky she likes my personality or I'd be canned, I think.

My first class, Urban Sociology, was a ball. The professor is an older man with messed up hair because he rests his laced palms heavily upon his head. He talked for the whole two hours plus five extra minutes despite it being the first class. His final paper requirement is my longest yet: 25-30 pages. Shall I start early?

There are three students in the class from Geography and they know everything already. All the sociologists know nothing. Ha. But the one geography guy's voice shook when he made an unimportant comment.

The atmosphere was relaxed and I was able to speak freely. I tried to define the word hobo and was all wrong. Do you know what the definition of hobo is? No cheating allowed.

Tomorrow I have my Qualitative Research Methods class and i just received word that my professor is an ex-comedian. What could be finer than that???

Any good music recommendations out there?

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A new start

Tomorrow begins the second semester of my master's degree in sociology. Let me recap semester one for myself.

I found it to be very heavy and constantly weighing on me. My time felt always consumed, despite spending very little of it actually studying. I hardly did any readings for my theory class, I often felt inadequate in my statistics class, and I did what I had to do for my immigration class. Despite what I'd been promised, I never experienced a moment of mind-blown-ness. Instead I just felt disheartened and unimpressed by academia.

I worked as a teaching assistant which really meant grader of bad papers and hated those weekends spent devoted to that. I worked as a research assistant and hated the feeling of passivity, or non-motivation that I always felt when doing the work.

The first month was difficult, that first stats midterm brought me to tears, and I rarely arrived home before 8 or 9pm. It was tough. And I got it in my head that I hated grad school. Maybe I do, but after the first month things were really not so bad.

This semester is going to be different. Here's why.

My three courses are less intense. That statistics course I took is the dreaded PhD required course that everyone thinks of as a huge obstacle to overcome. Done and done. Theory also is something I am not at all interested in. Done. My immigration class had us writing much more than other courses require. Done. My three new courses this semester are interesting and fresh, all with professors who score highly on ratemyprofessor.com (very crucial, you know.) I'm taking urban sociology, qualitative research methods, and a course at the school of education called something like Education, culture, and language.

Not only that, but my teaching assistant job for this semester is for an undergraduate level statistics course. The grading I will be doing is for math tests! Yeehaw! This is MUCH better than papers. Much, much, much.

The research assistant job may be the same, though my supervisor told me that I may be able to do some data analysis which may be more interesting than what I was doing before. We shall see.

So I'm feeling optimistic. I have also made some plans to re-claim my interests. I'm going to play my guitar more often, and perhaps my trumpet. I'm going to enroll in bellydancing and continue going regularly to the gym. And I'm going to go to the theatre and to concerts more often. In order to do all that I'm going to cut my facebook/online activities down substantially. Not blogging, of course.

And I'll take it from there.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


The twenty year old hostess at Swiss Chalet looks at me and smiles warmly, "getting ready to go back to school?"

I hesitate for a brief second, "yeah..."

She goes on to answer my father's question. She's taking hospitality and something-something at Ryerson. She turns to me, "are you in university, or are you in highschool?"

I smile coyly and reply stiffly just for kicks 'cause it's fun to make people feel dumb sometimes, "I'm doing graduate work at U of T."

Her face is funny to look at.


I had another good interaction to report but I've forgotten. Oh yes.

I'm talking to my mother on my cellphone while standing in the empty downstairs lobby of the walk-in clinic. She is reporting the latest difficult time my grandparents had with their aging selves. She cries and talks. I cry and listen. Not a noisy or obvious cry but a few tears escaping cry. A young guy about my age stops, looks conccerned, and asks quietly if I'm okay. I smile and nod, and he moves along.

What a stand-up fellow.


A guy I dated in September who has since moved to my street and become my friend told me why he wasn't all that into me then. (This wasn't the one I really liked who said he didn't feel romantic connection. This was the one I met in Tokyo months ago who came from my neighbourhood in Thornhill and was teaching in Osaka. And now lives on my street downtown. It's hard to keep them straight, I know.) My guesses would have been that I'm a bit weird and tend to say oddball things, or that, I don't know, my height bothered him. Turns out he didn't like the fact that he didn't feel dominant with me. Apparently I made the first moves and that didn't bode well. Interesting. I know about this dominance thing but doesn't a guy like when a girl takes the reins once in a while in a shocking over-the-table kiss? Come on, who's with me?

Strike up the band

It's really amazing how my quality of life really improves when I don't have guilt about schoolwork hanging over my head. Seriously. I feel footloose and fancy-free.

Today I went to the walk-in clinic after the worst night ever. I'm talking hourly waking up, terrible sore throat, and sweating-through-pj's fever. The worst. Then to the walk-in clinic so the doctor could hear my plea and say "yeah, everyone has this. It's probably nothing. I'll swab ya and tell you on Monday if it's strep but it's probably not." Swell.

Then I came to Thornhill for kicks and had Swiss Chalet with my parents. That sauce is a dream come true, I tell you what.

I played my trumpet this afternoon in my old room and liked it. I think I may find a band. Yep, that's what I'll do.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Semester one is officially complete! And just in time for the weekend!

Also, just in time for this damn sore throat and a likely fever to make me feel like sleeping all day and all night. Boo.

I had to submit my paper to this online service called Turnitin which notifies the professor of plaigarism. Yikes. The prof I TA'd for showed me what it looks like from his perspective. Each student has a percentage listed next to their name of the amount of un-cited material. I wonder what percentage I got. This is slightly unnerving.

In potentially my last shopping hurrah before second semester begins, I bought two overpriced pairs of jeans this afternoon. One even has skinny legs. What is going on with me? Don't worry - I didn't get Uggs. The weather was so beautiful, I even took off my coat and strolled in the sunshine.

The other day my old friend Robin from Montreal paid me a visit and we took a long walk in the city, from my place all the way to this newly-coolifying neighbourhood called Lesleyville. I think the walk took us two hours with some short stops along the way. Not too bad.

Traffic at the gym has increased significantly; a phenomenon that regularly occurs after New Years. I say by February first it will be back to normal.

Now I'm at school waiting for my pal Jessica to finish off her work so we can head out for dinner. My supervisor just came in and called me useless. Fantabulous!

I have finished writing! All I need to do is edit and write the bibliography and I'm done. Alright!


It's a quarter to seven in the morning. I'm on holiday. Why am I awake? Because my throat is a fiery pit of pain! Ahh! I've been in the process of running away from a cold all week but I think it's finally got me.

Did I finish the paper as planned yesterday? Of course not. I worked off and on all day long until about 4:00 when I decided to hell with it and went to the gym, out for dinner and to see a movie. I came home at ten and finished the introduction. Now I have only have one and a quarter pages left to fill with some sort of conclusion. I think I'll do it now, as soon as this post is finished.

Why must sore throats be so very, very sore?

I went on a date recently with this fellow who talked constantly about movies and television shows. To each actor name or movie title I had to respond with something along the lines of, "I don't know him/I haven't seen it." I don't watch that. He would respond in a way that drives me batty, "you don't KNOW it?!?!" No, I don't, and I feel like my life is pretty full, thank you. Don't make it seem like my world is going to end because I haven't watched some bullshit TV show.

It reminds me of the time a sheltered friend in university pitied me for not having a Christmas tree or Santa growing up: "You mean you don't even have Santa?? Poooor youuu!!!" No, not poor me. There is happiness in life without Santa.

Anyway, twice it's happened on dates that I say something like "I don't know anything about popular culture these days" and then the guy says "so what do you know about?" I stare blankly at them for a moment and they then say "statistics and sociology?" and I nod and smile. But that's not even the truth because I don't know all that much about these things.

What do I know about? What are my interests? I spend all my time doing next to nothing on the internet. That should be an interest. I'm interested in boys. I can talk about that for a long time. Man, I need more substance in my life. I'm going to start belly dancing again. Now THAT will give me substance.

My throat is hurting slightly less. Perhaps those two extra strength advils are taking effect. I don't want to end this post because it will mean writing that conclusion.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Ready, set, go

I am still on holiday but because I chose to prolong the pain and get an extension, I have a paper to finish writing. Luckily I've been doing a little bit each day for the past few days so today, the last day I've given myself for writing, only requires that six more pages be written out of fifteen. Not the end of the world. It's quarter to eleven now. Let's see how long this badboy takes.

In the meantime, here is a picture of me and my cute friends on New Years.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

While I could blog about my fantastic trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, I won't. I'm tired and can't be bothered. It was fantastic though. A huge contrast between the two places, and while it was really nice seeing my aunt and doing some other things in LA, I recommend San Fran far more for the young walker-arounder. Far far more.

Happy New Year! My Italian/Beatles song lyric dinner party was a smash success with dishes like "Here comes the sun" Italian salad, "Penne" lane, Octopus' Garden Pesto and also lasagne, Cheese Please Me and "Love me do, cheese fondu". I'm salivating just thinking about it. And ill, thinking about how much cheese fondu I ate. Mmm... cheese fondu.

I can remember quite a few of my past many New Years celebrations, which surprises me.

2006: On the beach in Phuket watching fireworks and lanterns float into the sky with Darce and Sara and Barb
2005: In Montreal, dancing with underage marines with Wendy and Robin
2004: Filling the tank at a gas station with then boyfriend Michael
2003: In Ottawa on the hill where nothing happened with then boyfriend Matt
2002: At friend's house in Thornhill with then boyfriend Matt and other pals, eating candy and drinking something like Mike's Hard Lemonade, likely
2001: This is where the memories end

After the dinner party we went out to an Irish bar where drinks found themselves into my lap twice and 21 year old boys bought us drinks (their first ever bought for girls, I might add) and couldn't get over the age difference. I think even the term 'cougar' came up. Man.