Thursday, July 25, 2013


"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to get to know your Blogmaster." Although this blog is primarily about how awesome it is to be in Russia (when I get there, if I get there), context is always important. Here's a little questionnaire, gleefully stolen from this blog right here, which is neither too insipid nor too serious. Let's go.

1. What time is it?
5:15 PM Pacific Daylight Time. I am chugging a massive Dr. Pepper and wishing I could sleep. However, I will settle for procrastinating on my required cleaning before my sister gets here.

2. What is your sign and your birthday?

Sign: Libra. Yeah, I know, it's weird, because anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not big on balance. As for my birthday, it is October 2nd, 1991. Absolutely nothing interesting happened that day.

3. What type was your first car?

Never owned a car, always had a secret desire to buy and restore the car from Casablanca. I'd keep the cigarette burns Bogie supposedly left on the upholstery, of course. (For now, if I'm not in Toronto I drive my mom's car, which is a hideous Chevy that screams "I AM OLD", but has satellite radio, so there you gou.)

4. Name four jobs you've had in your life?
  1. Fundie homeschooling tutor/the family's bitch 
  2. Job search counselor/the government's bitch
  3. Arby's fast food jack-of-all-trades/curly fries' bitch 
  4. Gas Station Attendant/Big Oil's bitch
Honourable mention goes to: semi-professional church singer, music theory tutor, ice cream jockey, hotel housekeeper, and liquor store clerk.

5. If you could have any job, what would it be?

Tina Fey.

6. What are you most afraid of?

Fireworks and rejection.

7. What is the last movie you saw in a theater?

The Place Beyond the Pines. Ryan Gosling, Canada's equivalent of Prince William, basically. The story was convoluted, but the journey was interesting enough.

8. What are four movies you would watch over and over?
  1. Holiday (1938) 
  2. Let the Right One In (2008) - the Swedish one, the Americans ruined it 
  3. Casablanca (1942)
  4. Schindler's List (1993)
This is four of about a million, of course. I could go on for a hundred more questions. Let's move.

9. Place of birth?
Vancouver, Canada.

10. What are four places you have lived?
  1. Toronto, Canada 
  2. Kelowna, Canada 
  3. Vancouver, Canada 
  4. Berkeley, USA
Soon to add Moscow, Russia to the list.

11. What are four places you have been on vacation?

1. Spain (Catalonia)/The Netherlands
2. New York/New England/New Jersey
3. Florida/Alabama
4. England/France/Italy/Monaco

Hopefully by this time next year this will include Israel, Austria, Germany, Japan, South Korea, China and Mongolia, if all goes to plan!

12. What are four places you would rather be right now?

  1. Sleeping. 
  2. Russia.
  3. At the Oscars. 
  4. With my best friend, G. 

13. What are the best places you have ever been?

Spain, New York, a trip across Canada from back in 2005, Victoria that day my friends were there, the University of Toronto.

14. What are four websites you visit daily?
  1. Freejinger 
  2. xoJane 
  3. Facebook 
  4. Cracked
I appear to enjoy a weird combination of snark and sanctimony.

15. What are four of your favorite foods?

  1. Indian food. All shapes and forms. Love it. 
  2. Sushi. 
  3. Shawarma, especially late at night. 
  4. Give me bagels or give me death. 

16. What's your favorite new food?

I don't know what you mean by "new". Do you mean Goldfish crackers? Because I'm going to go with Goldfish crackers. Who cares if they're meant for four-year-olds, cheesy is a flavor you never grow out of.

17. Which do you prefer, ketchup or mustard?
Ketchup is more versatile, but when it comes to hamburgers/hot dogs? Both. Can't live without both, it feels incomplete - it's like eating just a peanut butter or just a jelly sandwich. You know what's missing. You really do.

18. Which do you prefer, hamburgers or hotdogs?
Burgers. There is absolutely nothing better. Cheeseburgers, chicken burgers with BBQ sauce, veggie burgers...the sky is the limit and I am happy. Om nom.

19. Do you eat the stems of broccoli?
Sure, why not?

20. Favorite Drink?

Dr Pepper! You change the world. Even though I've heard it's a Republican drink. Even if Sarah Palin drinks it, I will not let my pride overcome delicious.

21. Favorite ice cream?

Anything involving chocolate combined with peanut butter.

22. What's your natural hair color?

Very, very, very dark brown. Think Mary Crawley née Crawley from Downton Abbey and you've got it. Has been red, pink and blonde with assistance.

23. Ever been toilet paper rolling?
No. What is that?

24. Ever love someone so much it made you cry?
All the freakin' time.

25. Favorite CD?
I haven't listened to a CD in about five years, but my favorite album ever is Paul Simon's Graceland. It was at his height of creativity and it really gives you a sense of wonder. Also, the tracks are in perfect order.

26. Favorite day of the week?
This depends. When I was in college, it was "whatever day I have the fewest hours of class". Now I'm working and it's back to good old Saturday and Sunday, with Saturday being better because you still have another day to enjoy yourself duh.

27. Favorite Restaurant?
Wherever I can get all-day breakfast Arby's that place with the poutine PitaQ at Bloor and Spadina in Toronto. Try their Shawarma, you won't regret it, and be sure and order the fries with garlic sauce. Depending on how low-cut your top is, you might get it free!

28. Favorite Flower?

Roses that looked like somebody finger painted on them. That or fireweed.

29. Favorite sport to watch?

I hate watching sports. Olympic hockey, perhaps, but only if Canada's up for the gold. And diving if Alexandre Despatie's in it.

30. Disney or Warner Brothers?

If we were going on shorts alone, I'd tie them (just...let's forget about the racist ones for three seconds), but Disney has made some truly innovative animated films while Warner Brothers - has generally tried to knock off Disney. So, the Cult of the Mouse triumphs once more.

Throw in live action and Warner Brothers knocks it out of the park.

31. Favorite fast food restaurant?


32. What color is your bedroom carpet?

Some sort of sick yellow that looks like vomiting up ginger ale.

33. Before this email, from whom did you get your last e-mail?

The people who are supposed to be sending me my Russian visa, bitching at me as usual. At this point I'm pretty sure I could fly there on a plane made of paperwork.

34. What do you do most often when you are bored?

Watch whatever my TV show of the moment is, sew, goof off on YouTube, read.

35. Bedtime?

Midnight if I have nothing to do the next day, 10-ish if I have to work.

36. Who will respond to this email the quickest?

No one, because this is a blog, not an email?

37. Who will be the least likely to respond?

38. Who is the person copied on this email whose response you are most curious to see?

The email address shared by Jesus and Charles Manson.

39. What four still-airing TV shows do you love to watch?

  1. Mad Men, forever and ever. Amen. 
  2. Community as long as we pretend Season 4 never existed. 
  3. Downton Abbey 
  4. Jeopardy!

40. Favorite TV show of all time?

Mad Men. I mean, duuuuuhhhh. 

41. What are you currently reading?

Like 60 different things according to my Kobo. A book of Jewish history, The Yiddish Policemen's Union, and a good chunk of Stephen King, and I keep meandering around The Brothers Karamazov.

42. What are you listening to right now?

My mother complaining about our lousy airport. To be fair, it is pretty terrible.

43. How many tattoos do you have?

None, but that could change in the near future.

44. How many pets do you have?

One completely whacko golden retriever who likes to chase airplanes. But she's sweet.

45. What would you like to accomplish before you die?

Write a book and have it published. Hope someone reads it who isn't a blood relative or has never chased after me at a college party.

46. What's on your mouse pad?

What's a mouse pad? Oh, one of those 90's things.

47. What is your favorite board game?

Honestly, I like jigsaw puzzles best. They're just so damned soothing. Otherwise? Scene It, because I can crush the competition with aplomb.

48. Favorite smell?

Either gasoline or something cooking that's really buttery. Yum.

49. Least favorite smell?

Any sort of spoiled food. If I catch so much as a whiff of something expired, it's off to hurl for me.

50. Favorite colors?

Green. Just any shade of green. Like my eyes. Except that hospital-shade-puke-green, no one likes that.

51. Least favorite color?

Pink. Stupid freaking pink.

52. Future (or first) child's name?

Sylvia Josephine. Theodore for a boy. But I'm trading a boy in for another golden retriever, because Sylvia Josephine is too pretty a name not to use.

53. What is most important in life?

Remaining alive long enough to reproduce and pass on your genes to perpetuate the species. Oh, and Jon Hamm. Not that the two are connected. At all.

54. Do you like to drive fast?

I was barely able to stay at the speed limit until a couple of weeks ago, when I had my mom's car for three weeks. Now I confess that I am somewhat of a lead foot. Luckily I won't have a car in Russia - I hear driving there is somewhat of a suicidal act.

55. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

Honestly? Not even when I was a kid. I never got the point of it, I guess.

56. What's under your bed?

All the books I don't want my parents to know I have. Would you believe I'm almost twenty-two? I don't.

57. If you could meet one person dead or alive who would it be?
Katharine Hepburn, though she'd probably think I was an idiot. Vladimir Nabokov, who would definitely think I was an idiot.

58. Okay, someone alive...?

Sarah Palin so I can laugh in her face. Or Tina Fey so she can adopt me.

59. Storms: cool or scary?

Awesome, except when that one tree swings dangerously close to my house, or when there's a hurricane and I still have to go to class. But that's more inconvenience.

60. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

Egg. Then one of the eggs turned out a mutant baby, and it was different so it got to live. Mutant bird goes on to make more mutant babies and then it had buttsex with a squirrel or something and they made this - monkey fish frog...

1. Top Four Fantasy Lovers - (i.e. characters from fiction, television, or film)
  1. That eyeliner dude Ewan McGregor played in Velvet Goldmine 
  2. ...really, just anyone Ewan McGregor played
  3. Don Draper 
  4. James Bond

2. Top Four Fantasy Weapons - (i.e. weapons from fiction, television, or film)
  1. The Changlourious Basterds
  2. The lineup from Weasley's Wizard Wheezes 
  3. Inspector Gadget's entire body 
  4. "I call the big one Bitey."

3. Top Four Fantasy Vacations - (i.e. places from fiction, television, or film)
  1. The castle from Rocky Horror Picture Show (at least I'd enjoy it)
  2.  A trip to Springfield (come on, you know which Springfield) 
  3. A weekend party at Gatsby's 
  4. That taxi from Midnight in Paris, dammit

4. Top Four Fantasy Body Swaps - (i.e. actual people whose body you'd take)
  1. Isla Fisher 
  2. Christina Hendricks 
  3. Katharine Hepburn 
  4. Julie Christie
5. Top Four Fantasy Careers - (i.e. jobs that ONLY exist in fiction, television, or film)
  1. Whatever job everyone has in the movies where you never work but always have enough money for perfect outfits, a spacious Manhattan apartment and lots of fun times 
  2. One of Dr. House's team 
  3. That President of the United States who always has a snappy comeback or inspiring speech and makes the right decision every time. 
  4. Don Draper's secretary. 
6. Top Four Fantasy Superpowers
  1. Telekinesis
  2.  Telepathy 
  3. Teleportation (I'm big on the tele) 
  4. Magic (Harry Potter-style), which would presumably cover several of these

7. Top Four Robots You'd Like to Have as a Friend - (yes, CPUs, replicants, androids, and simulants count)
  1. 80's Robot from The Muppets (2011)
  2. The Jude Law robot from A.I. - Artificial Intelligence
  3. The Golem
  4. C-3PO (as long as we turned his Judgmental Switch to "off". I saw that R2D2 smoking commercial. Maybe the robot just wants to fucking relax)


These days I've been feeling angry. There's no real reason to it. Is it because my job leaves me tired? Is it because of this week's unbearable heat wave here in the sunny Okanagan? Or maybe it's just the interminable, one-step-forward-two-steps-back process of getting a Russian visa.

Whatever the cause, I have spent the past few days grumbling at my parents, writing snippy comments on blogs and forums, and simply living with an undercurrent of rage. I'm irrationally annoyed at opposing responses; I just want to withdraw, family time be damned. And I hate it.

I don't like the person I've become. Before, I saw myself as nice bordering on dimwitted; now, I feel like an endless ragemonster, the Incredible Hulk's long-lost twin. It could clear up once the pressure's off, I suppose - once I get a good night's sleep, or the temperature goes down. It's too late for this week, probably. But by God, this is not who I'm going to be forever. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


Let's talk bureaucracy.

Not much has been happening on the Russia front lately. This is mostly due to the ridiculous process of actually getting into the country. First, one must collect all the documents and send them to Company. Then, one must wait six weeks until Company cajoles the Russian government into sending a Letter of Invitation. This letter must also be combined with the approximately eleven billion other documents required - including the results of an HIV test - and packed off to Ottawa. Upon receiving the visa, only then may a plane ticket be booked. I got this job in May, and it is still dicey whether the documents will be ready in time. The cost amounts to over two hundred dollars for the assorted documentation, plus forty dollars for FedEx, plus three hundred dollars for a visa service (necessary because Russia does not see fit to have a consulate west of Toronto), plus the thirteen hundred for an absurdly expensive one-way plane ticket. Apparently, Russia is just about the most expensive place in the world to get to - and possible the most time-consuming. I think I got tired just reading that.

When not applying for housing and pleading with my university to send my diploma pretty please, I've indulged in the miscellaneous things that are needed to make this trip. This includes sewing a Canadian flag over the big ol' gay logo on my computer bag, taking Russian lessons every day (translation: watching Russian sitcoms), trying to figure out the Russian banking system, and of course working to pay for it all. It does not include watching endless episodes of House, M.D. to calm down, but I've been doing that anyway. Moving abroad is practically a part-time job in itself. We all need our downtime.

As busy as it sounds, most of the energy expended has been in waiting. Waiting and endless worrying. Will the letter get here in time? Will the courier come when I'm out of the house? How on earth am I going to put together enough money to get to Moscow? Will I have to sell a kidney? Oh, god, I will, won't I?

I'm happy to do this work. Moscow has been a dream for over a decade, and the endless work just makes it that much sweeter. But holy hell, am I going to earn my spot in this country.