Monday, 23 February 2004

Mixin' It

Oops, getting a little behind again. It’s reading week now, so even though I still have to go to work at my meagre library job, I get a few days with no class. (Although, I’m always lacking a little “class”-heh heh.) (Sorry.) I suppose I should actually get some homework and writing done?? Well…after all the sleeping and pissing around.



Well, Friday the 13th I attended my first Folklore Department Mixer. It was actually ok. I played bartender for a while, which was fun. Serving drinks also allowed me to size everyone up and wait for them to have a few belts before I actually had to mingle. Soften them up, so to speak. We had an anti-Valentines day theme, which I whole-heartedly approved of, and I made cookies. I took several pictures, and will post them as soon as I get them developed. So…say…Christmas 2007??



There were quite a few interesting people and undergrads, grads and prof’s mingled freely. The only thing that made me a bit sad was that several graduates thought that I was also a grad student, due to my advanced age. It was nice that my conversation didn’t give me away at the onset, but it was crappy to think that I really should be further along in the old education department. As the evening wore on there did tend to be more separation in the ranks: the prof’s took off, the grad students huddled discussing the upcoming comprehensive exams, and the undergrads just huddled. But all in all, I had a good time and made a few contacts.



The Folklore Department also has a logo and T-shirts coming out. Yes, in just a month or so I will be proudly sporting a T-shirt with the words: FOLK-U on it. Ah, it’s nice to know our department has dignity, class and true collegiate grit. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I’m thankful that I’m part of a department that has a sense of humour and remains grounded within itself. Folklore is such a useless degree. That’s why I love it so much! And yet, it deals with subjects and study that are so completely universal and important. It’s about finding the extraordinary in the mundane. Brilliant.



I’ve managed to keep from falling, and I’ve received good grades on an assortment of assignments and tests, so I suppose all is going well. I swear to all that is holy and sacred-if, by the time I’m done here, I never see another snowflake as long as I live I will be happy. While there are still times when the snow falling actually looks kind of pretty, I really have had enough. I miss rain, grey skies, warmer temperatures. Ah, by the summer I’m sure it will be fine again, but winter here really does suck a very large, phallic looking object!



Alright kiddies, I’m off to go and study! (Or, as it’s also know, watch TV, mess around on my computer, and read books that have nothing at all to do with school!)



V.F.

Thursday, 5 February 2004

Good God Y'All!!

Okay, this day warrants an entry. And plus it gets me writing something sooner than next month! And I haven’t heard too much about my last entry, so I’ll assume everyone was ok with it…



Well, the day started off with me hitting the snooze button a few too many times, and thus forced me into a blind panic/non-showering/eating breakfast cereal out of the box with a milk-out-of-the-carton chaser/almost forgot to wear a bra/running kind of day. Last night we had that wonderful stuff—Freezing Rain!! Weeeha! Can you see where this is going?



So, I leap out the door, take the stairs two-at-a-time, and begin to rush across the parking lot as I see my bus waaaay up the road. And then, “who-ha, stop me now, woo yah,” James Brown takes me over. I go into one of those weird split moves where my front leg is sticking straight out, and my back leg is bent at an unnatural angle. And, furthering the James Brown channelling experience, I pop up almost as fast as I went down and continued running for the bus. I was scraped and battered, and my thigh muscles were pulled to hell, but I realized that to anyone watching from the windows of my building, it really could have looked like I busted a soul move on the way to the bus. I’m just sooo happy to be going to school at 7am, that I felt the need to take my joy “Downtown.”



As I sat on the bus, my heart started to pound from the shear “falling” exhilaration. And let me tell everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve done the splits!



At school, I work from 8am to 1:30pm at my eye-drying, mind-numbing data entry job in the library. A huge part of my job is to search for books in the library computer system. You have to implement all kinds of tips and tricks to find what you’re looking for, and it’s actually helped me to understand the library system. But lo and behold! What did we get to do in my Folk Research course today? Why, we took a field trip to the library to learn how to search for books!



Wunderbar! By this point I was so exhausted from lack of sleep and my early morning adrenalin rush, and I began to nod off. At which point my friend Steve thinks it’s amusing to write “Wake Up” on the back of my hand in blue pen. Very funny, Steve.



After class, I half walk, half limp (as my leg is now starting to stiffen considerably) to the cafeteria to meet a fellow Deutsch Student. Half way through our study session/bitch fest, I had to pee like a race horse (Why the hell do race horses have to pee so much I wonder?). In the stall next to me, I can hear some poor soul getting sick as a dog! (Yep, I also wonder why dogs are so sick all the time.) After some puking and moaning, we both end up coming out of our stalls (ah, a race horse metaphor??) and the sickie next to me was my Folklore prof. Hmmm, Hello sick prof. Don’t worry, this is embarrassing for both of us.



After studying, I scamper (as much as one can scamper with a limp and full school bag) to the bus loop to catch my beloved #25. What’s so beloved about this particular lorry?? Well, only once in the afternoon, this bus drives me all the way home and deposits me directly opposite my front door! So, as I’m about to clamber on, I notice that my usual driver isn’t there. No worries…that is until the new dude tells me that he won’t let me on the bus till I sing something. He says all the other people did it, all three of them. I look, stricken to the quick, at the girl in the seat at the front, and she nods and laughs. What the hell is going on here?? Haven’t I suffered enough??



Will this day never end??



So instead of laughing it off and just grabbing a seat, (I mean, what’s he going to do-actually kick me off? Highly unlikely) I bust out with a cracked:“Hey there Little Red Riding Hood, You sure are looking good. You're everything a big bad wolf could want.” Yep. My face now hotter than the veriest fires of hell, I sure didn’t remember that my leg was hurting. Everyone cracked up, and the bus driver said “not bad” and off we went.



What can I say, I’ve got music, and I’ve got rhythm. I mean, who could ask for anything more.



V.F.

Sunday, 1 February 2004

Cab-In Fever

And now a word about cab drivers.



I’ve spoken ad nauseum about bus drivers and the wonderful world of the Metrobus system here, but what about the wily and elusive Taxi Driver?



Well, right of the bat, I can tell you that they are neither wily, nor elusive, as there are more cab companies servicing the St.John’s area than I have ever seen in all my life! Let’s see, we have Avalon Taxi, Bugden’s Taxi, Co-Op Taxi, Cy’s Taxi, Goulds Taxi, Gullivers City Wide Taxi, Jiffy Cabs, King’s Bridge Cabs, Molloy Clarence Taxi, Newfoundcabs, North West Taxi (the one I usually use), Thoms Taxi, Tickle Taxi, Town Cabs, Valley Cabs, and then there are a plethora of other cab and transportation companies that will drive you “around the bay” to smaller communities. Now, this is not to say that in the Lower Mainland, a major urban sprawl, we do not have our share of cab companies. But there in comparison, there seems to be only a couple of companies per service area, and that’s that. Then again, the Lower Mainland, as said major urban sprawl, boasts a more elaborate bus and transit system, making it easier for those without cars, or those who chose to not use their cars, to get around. In St.John’s, the Metrobus definitely gets me where I need to go, but is not as convenient for out of way places. The hours are also much shortened for bus riders here, and cabs are an essential part of a “night on the town.” And though, like all of St.John’s driving experiences, the ride is one of knuckle-whitening intensity, I feel generally safe and comfortable putting my life into the back of a pine-scented taxi-cab.



And a second word about cab drivers. Now, I know many (though not all) will expect me to mention the general Race/Ethnicity of cab drivers at large. Okay, this is a rather harsh stereotype, and a part of me cringes as I write this, but it is somewhat essential in offering a glimpse into the multicultural aspects of St.John’s. I have yet to have a non-white cab driver personnel take me, and my once-a-month bundle of grocery bags, home. In New Westminster, I had a grand total of two white cab drivers. Now is this interesting or relevant? Well, one of my cabbies here told me that he had moved to St.John’s from Toronto because Toronto was “too ethnic” for him. While he enjoyed the variety of food and culture on one level in the big city, he did not feel comfortable as the minority in “his own country” on another. Now, I can hear the moans and squeaks and squawks as the Venus depicts St.John’s as a racist, bigoted, one-dimensional place. THIS IS NOT SO! St.John’s is, of course, the ultimate port city (being nothin’ but island!) and many people here pride themselves on their multicultural heritage. But it is still a predominately white Irish/English/French based community. There are many people here from the Caribbean, Portugal, many African countries, China, Japan, India and Islam, as well as people from Inuit, Native and M├ętis communities. However, you can add up all of these groups, and not touch the number of whiteys in the province, including my own Germanic/Ukrainian untanned hide. There are even a large number of people in my building who did not even know that St.John’s has the only Mosque and Hindu temple in Newfoundland, and were unaware of two (tasty looking!) Indian restaurants in the downtown area.



So, what does this say about the original question of cab drivers…well, admittedly, not a hell of a lot. I was always impressed with my taxi riding experiences at home, and I am equally impressed with my taxi riding experiences in St.John’s. I have been lucky enough to only have one or two “bad” taxi experiences in my life. This may have something to do with the fact that I turn a blind eye to running yellow lights, don’t sweat any cabbie cursing fellow drivers, and regardless of the International Guide to Tipping always tip my driver. I have had wonderful conversations with many drivers, and have learned a great deal about the place I was in because of their experiences. I have had almost every cab driver give me his personal card. All cab drivers here carry your groceries to the door, and most of my cab drivers back home did the same thing for me (though not all, as it is not typically the norm there). And let me tell you-when it is below zero, the wind is whipping frozen pieces of ice (tiny knives?) into your face, and your hands are slightly frost-bitten from holding onto grocery bags, the devil himself could come smoking up in a red, flame-painted Cab/Hearse and I’d get in and snuggle into the warm ashes on the back seat!



As an end note, one of the funniest things I’ve heard since I’ve been here was an elderly women calling out to a man walking towards the Sobey’s grocery store as she was boarding a Metrobus at the bus loop:“Don’t forgets to buy milk, and don’t you go spending money on a cab home, you lazy bastard!”



V.F.