Monthly Archives: June 2009

The Day I Joined the iCult

It wasn’t hard to do.  With their familiar white outercases, non-double clicking mice and hefty price tags, it was easy to ignore the iCult thatiPhone 007 is Mac.  

Oh sure, I’ve had my share of iPods.  As a matter of fact, I recently found my first gen iPod while packing up my house and which, incidentally, almost caused a fractured humerus from its heft — those things were ginormous!  Even though I’ve owned several of them, I never considered myself a member of the iCult, as I affectionately call it.  They were just too ubiquitous; too mainstream.  A bona fide member, I was definitely not.  

Until now. 

Flashback.  
When I arrived in Canada two years ago, my assignment was originally only for 12 months.  While this may seem like eons to some (like my parents), to the Canadian telecommunications carriers, it was far too brief a time to satisfy their lengthy contractual requirements.  Yes, that’s right — the minimum cell phone contract in Canada is three years!   Three. Long. Years.  Also, no free nationwide long distance.  A-hem.  Moving on… Knowing full well that if I signed a contract, I’d have to pay a very large cancellation penalty when I moved back to the States, my solution was to get — wait for it — a prepaid phone.  

My prepaid phone piece of crap was a cute little red thing that fit in the palm of my hand.  Its best feature was the colour of the case. 😉  It made me feel so Tony Soprano.  So gangsta-like.  So enigma-ish.  I could chunk it into the East River at any time and no one would ever know.   My phone was so super cool and technologically advanced that I was even limited to 160 characters on SMS texts.  I literally had to “type” my chats out old skool style where, for example, I had to push the “8” butiPhone 010ton four times to spell with an “S”. It made for some super fun, and mostly cut off, chats.  If I ever get carpal tunnel, I’ll know why.  My favourite part of my prepaid phone, though, was when it would die mid-conversation from lack of remaining time.  Seriously.  The time had come to do something about it.

Fast Forward.
I started hearing rumblings about a new iPhone a few months ago.  While I was giddy about it, it also presented a dilemma: wait longer to be a big girl with a big girl phone and continue using my prepaid phone piece of crap, or ditch the idea altogether and get a regular ol’ cell phone.  You  know, the ones whose actual intent is to make a phone call? 😉 

I knew a ridiculously smart, way cool person who had an iPhone and I loved all of the available apps, especially the I’m-pretending-to-drink-beer-from-my-phone one.  I realized that I could no longer be impressive with my POC and that I was, admittedly, shallow enough to pay an ungodly amount of money to be quasi-hip.  So that’s exactly what I did.

I woke up bright and early yesterday morning (or 9am, as I like to call it) like I was a seven- year-old on Christmas morning.  I’d been up late the evening prior, but that didn’t matter — nothing would stop me now!  I assumed there would be a line, so I prepared myself with my beloved Diet Coke, reading materials, my current POC and a wad of cash sufficient enough to pay for the goods.  When I walked up to the Fido store, though, there was no one there.  I was the only person in the store.  It was weird.  Had they postponed the launch and I didn’t know?  Had I gotten my days mixed up?  Nope.  They just weren’t busy.  I marched up to the counter, decided on my phone colour — black  😉 — and it was official!  I’m not sure if it was because I’m a wiley American with no Canadian credit (thanks, conservative Canadian banks) or because Fido’s systems were just really slow from the launch, but it took a while.  The guy who helped me was ten kinds of awesome, though, and even though he had to physically fill out an Fido application for me, I was on my way in no time.  Shout out Andrew!  HiPhone 006e didn’t even look at me funny when I giddily asked him to take my picture with my new phone for my blog.  He was like “you have a blog?  What’s it about?”, so I told him it was about a Texas girl’s adventures in Canada, natch.   

Since getting my phone, I’ve basically just been staring at it and caressing it like a new mom.  I even debated whether or not I should take off the plastic outer sticker for fear of scratching it up, but I’ve relented and it’s now been exposed to the elements.  Thus far, I’ve only downloaded two apps — TwitterFon and Stitcher (Public Radio International to satisfy both my Ira Glass and Bob Edwards addictions) — but I’m planning to surf for some good ones this week.  If anyone has any cool apps they love, leave a comment below so I can be hip like you.

I definitely have a giant techno-crush on my new gadget.  I finally feel like a grown up again, not to mention connected to the world.  I don’t know yet if that’s a good thing or not, but if/when you see me with giant black circles under my eyes from all the late night surfing, you’ll know the answer. 🙂  I love that I can walk around and stream my favourite podcasts.  I love that I can send a text and not have to break my fingers doing it.  Most importantly, though, I guess you could say I’m loving being a card carrying member of the iCult.  Just don’t tell anyone.

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Happy Anniversary to Me!

Photo credit: Canadian Cliche Compendium

Photo credit: Canadian Cliche Compendium

This week marks the second anniversary of my move to Toronto the best decision I’ve made in my life to date.  A mere seven-hundred thirty days ago, I woke up with the roosters due to my being the world’s biggest ball of nerves and jumped on the only one-way flight ever I’ve taken.  And moved to Canada. 

I’ve experienced so many amazing, magical things during my time here.  I’ve seen so many fantastic places and most importantly, gotten to know a ton of seriously phenomenal people.  It’s true what they say — Canadians are super cool to a fault, so of course, I fit right in. 😉

If you’ve read any of my fantastically amazing blog to date, you know that I am an unabashed fan of both Toronto and Canada.  In honour of my undying love for my adopted country, I decided to take a short trip down memory lane and proselytize on some of the awesome things I’ve seen, done, learned, and learned to love since moving to the Great White North. 

Without further ado, a few things I’ve done…

– Traveled to as much of this gorgeous country as possible.  So far, I’ve traveled to Montréal, Québec City, Ottawa, Vancouver, Dorset in Ontario’s cottage country, Niagara Falls <swoon>, and Ontario’s wine country.  Soooo much more to go.  You know, like seven whole provinces and three territories. 😉 
– Have seen two of the five Great Lakes: Ontario and Erie.
– Have gone tobogganing on a real live, old-timey wooden toboggan.  Unfortunately, the three year olds on the hill lapped me.
– Fell in love with CBC Radio 3, the best radio station on earth and who recently decided to continue playing 100% Canadian artists.  Awesome.
– Started drinking scorched Tim Hortons coffee. It’s a cult, I tell you.  But a very attentive, loving one.
– Walked and explored as much of Toronto as possible, but still only covered like 1/4 of the city.  So. much. more. walking. required.
– Celebrated with the other 1,000,000 people at the world’s second largest Pride Week and Pride Parade.
– Witnessed a Canadian federal election that took two weeks, not two years. 
– Met Jack Layton at the Taste of the Danforth (two birds, one stone).
– Met Julian Schnabel at the Toronto International Film Festival (one of my *most* favourite festivals in this city).  Get here and go.
– Hung out with some cool Toronto Raptors (Chris Bosh, Anthony Parker, and Jamario Moon).  Because we’re tight like that.
– Learned to properly dress for, walk and drive in snow (well, I still don’t like to drive in it, but at least I’m not white knuckled and sobbing anymore.  TTC, me love you long time!)
– Finally figured out the metric system 
– Walked Queen Street West — my absolute favourite street — more times than I can recall.  I love seeing mohawk-sporting street kids strolling next to stay-at-home-moms pushing their Gap-clad spawn in $9,241 strollers. Acceptance of diversity makes me swoon!
– Argued the benefits of non-Universal healthcare (believe me, it ain’t free, as evidenced by my VERY large Revenue Canada tax bill) .
– Watched a TON of Canadian sports: Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Vancovuer Canucks, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Marlies, Toronto FC, Pee Wee Hockey (yes, they start skating here at approximately 7.25 months of age).
– Joined the Junior League of Toronto.
– Became an iYellow Wine Club Ambassador.  Ange and Pax are seriously awesome people.  I (heart) them.
– Fell in love with Red Rose tea – mmmmmmmmmmmmm.
– Had roti for the first time.
– Had Ethiopian food for the first time.
– Had Sri Lankan food for the first time.
– Had Tunisian food for the first time.
– Have eaten at about 4,792 Toronto restaurants.  Only 2,984,316,705 to go.
– Watched uncensored Canadian television.  I mean, who cares if someone says “f*ck” on television?  99% of parents say it anyway! 
– Bought Canadian art by Canadian artists.
– Have seen a ton of amazing Canadian art (Group of Seven, First Nations, and about 7,000 art galleries, festivals and crawls).
– Joined the Art Gallery of Ontario, with its gorgeously-designed building by Toronto native Frank Gehry.
– Enjoyed the quiet pride that is the hallmark of this country.
– Frozen my tongue to a pole in the dead of winter.
– Bushes and boulders. Deserts, glaciers, sea shores, tropical forests, rivers, mountains, lakes, plains.  Yes Virginia, they really do have it all.
– Figured out how to decipher the funny-coloured Canadian money, including loonies and twonies.
– Experienced four *actual* seasons, rather than 11 months, 18 days of scorching hot summer and 12 days of sort-of-fall.
The CBC.  For thoughtful, professional explanation of world events without hype, opinion, or fluff.  End of story.
– Have seen more processions down the Highway of Heroes than one should ever see in their lifetime.  Simply.  Amazing.
– Learned that in Canada, a Whippet is neither a Devo song nor a dog.  It’s a cookie.  And a damn good one.
– Learned that in Canada, rye  not only means bread, but also whiskey.
– Learned that in Canada, hydro does not mean water, but electricity.
– Learned that in Canada, BBQ really means grill.
– Learned the hard way that the only iced tea they drink is from a can. Ew.
– Gotten forced off the Don Valley Parkway during rush hour and accosted by Toronto’s finest for having Texas license plates.  True story.
– Built a snowman.
– Figured out that no one — NO ONE — is open on statutory holidays.  When they say “holiday” in Canada, they mean it. 
– Observed Earth Hour by attending way cool “lights-free” parties two years in a row.  A-hem.
– Paid $5.50 a gallon in gas.  Actually, I continue to pay $5.50 a gallon in gas. [ed. note: 1 gallon = 4 litres.  A-hem.]
– Conversely, pay only $2 — yes, TWO DOLLARS — per prescription.  Thank you, dear company for whom I work.
– Worn shorts when it was only 10C/50F outside because after the -30C/-2F winter days, 10C/50F feels downright balmy.
– Lived through seven straight days of -30C weather. For my American friends, that’s cold.  So cold, in fact, that my cracked, ashen flesh started showing signs of cellular degeneration and I practically sawed off my gangrene-plauged limbs in desperation by day three.  I don’t recommend it. 
– Went to a non-Catholic church for the first time in my life.  Don’t tell my dad.
– Have seen a ton of Canadian dance (Winchester Theatre, aka The Winch, FTW!).
– Taken 15GB of photos, all lovingly posted on my Flickr page (where *your* photos should also be).
– Have eaten poutine.  And did not at all like it.  Of course, I had it at Swiss Chalet.  Ew.
– Enjoyed amazing, help-you-at-any-cost customer service. No matter with whom you’re doing business. 
– Blogged my arse off about what I’ve done here.
Rolled up my first Tim Hortons rim.
– Participated in Pay It Backwards Day which could only happen in Toronto.
– What have I not done?  Started to say “eh” and “zed”.  It will *never* happen. 😉

I had no idea what to expect when I moved here.  Admittedly, like a lot of Americans, and much to Canadians’ chagrin even though they won’t admit it, I didn’t really know much about the place.  Beyond all of the activities I’ve done, places I’ve been and things I’ve seen, the one thing I’ve learned is that the true spirit of Canada really does lie in its people.  I’ve met so many outstanding people and made such amazing friends that, even when they make fun of my accent and stare at me like I’m from another planet, I still love them.  Canadians *are* nice to a fault and they *will* do anything for you.  

None of this is to say that I am not completely and utterly proud to be American.  I am a Texas girl through and through…and always will be.  I’ve just packed more into two years here than I did in my entire thirty-three years in Texas — I even have the lost tread on my runners to prove it — and have loved every single second of it.  Here’s to two *more* years of mind-numbing, face-paralyzingly cold winters; beaver tails;  far too much BlackBerry usage; hockey; Tim Hortons; Canadian politics; Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics; snow; curling; liveable summers; and big, giant red maple leafs.

Canada. It’s easy to spell. It means village. What’s not to like?

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What's So Bad About the Number Four, and Other Oddities

My apologies for the continued lengthy absences between posts, but I’ve been busy doing nothing and waiting for it to flippin’ warm up in Toronto.  Also, I like to keep you guys waiting with bated breath.  Seriously, though — how can I have any Canadian adventures when it’s already June 9 and only 18C/63F outside?!  I trust that all of you “pahtay people” have bePlain 012en busy either a) trying to warm up like me or b) searing your brains in the heat and humidity, and therefore *also* do not have any adventures to report. 😉  Of course, if you do, do me a favour and just keep them to yourself, k?  It makes me feel heaps better thinking I’m not the only one sitting at home watching 30 Rock reruns and watching the sailboats go by.  A-hem.

As some of you know, I recently moved house in Toronto  — literally around the corner and 11 stories up. Because I have so much more time in the elevator now that I’m on a higher floor — you know, like seven more seconds —  I have been able to really soak in the juicy details of my building’s elevator cars.  And I noticed a really odd thing about them: there are no floors with the number “four”.  No four, no fourteen, no twenty- four, no thirty-four. 

We all know the taboo sacred power associated with the number 13.  The reason I know about this number goodness is because I was born on the 13th and turned 13 on Friday the 13th, so it just happens to be my lucky number.  It can’t be all bad, though — it’s a lucky number in tattoo culture and a lucky number for the Mexican Mafia.  So, of course, it must mean something.  😉

But I digress.  When I noticed that my building had floors with three’s (without a 13th floor, naturally), but no four’s, I became Summer Weekend in the City 001concerned.  Had I somehow missed this number’s superstition?  Should I have been avoiding floors with fours all this time?  I mean, isn’t a “four-leafed clover” supposed to be a lucky thing?    I just don’t get it.  I ride the elevators every day, of course, and every day I just shake my head in utter confusion. 

Last weekend, I was tooling around town in the Zipcar I’d rented with my gobs of disposable income (!) and because I really, really, really wanted to become an advertiser for Goodlife Fitness and the Toronto Marathon for the weekend (!), and passed this billboard on Lawrence near Victoria Park.  I did a double take and zipped myself around (heh) so I could take its photo. 

Who in their right mind would vote “NO” to excitement?!!  And even if you wanted to, why would you pay to advertise it?!  Once again, colour me confused.  I wondered if it was one of those coy little advertising campaigns that tease you mercilessly until they finally reveal all of their marketing genius.  (Bonus points if you can figure out the brand without looking at the brand name at the top – heh!)  Considering the paper was peeling off of this particular billboard, though, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the coy little advertising ploy is not in play here.  Weird.Summer Weekend in the City 019

The last odd thing I saw this weekend was also automobile related.  I pulled into a parking garage in Liberty Village and saw these most bizarre vehicles with license plates that said “S Cargo7”, as in “escargot”.  (I know…I didn’t need to say it).  There were about seven of them in different colours lined up in a row.  Was it a truck?  Was it a car?  Was it a plane?!  I’d never seen anything like them and they instantly made me think of the work of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi — sort of oddly spaced, stretched and distorted into places where the human brain doesn’t normally go!

Happy Summer, everyone!

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