Archive for the 'Neighbourhood' Category

Standing in the snow

Hurray, it’s snowing in Vancouver!
Originally uploaded by mootpoint

It’s those big fluffy snowflakes, which we don’t often get.

People who know me in real life will note that I am not wearing my glasses in this photo. That is because they broke, and walking around and having everything be blurry is actually more appealing to me than walking around with glasses that are being (barely) held together with Scotch tape. I’m excited about my new glasses, but sad that I can’t actually see very well until they come.


Oh man. So in case you guys aren’t up on Vancouver news, the city workers are on strike right now. This means that parks aren’t getting maintained, the libraries are closed, and that garbage isn’t getting picked up. This has been going on for weeks now; I have no idea why the city isn’t proposing anything. Actually, I do: the City awesomely started talking about how they were going to spend all the money they were saving from not paying their workers within days of the actual strike starting. This, as you can imagine, sucks.

There is a big pile of garbage outside my house. There are more bugs around. The pool at Stanley Park has turned a horrible shade of green.

But it sucks for some people more than others. If you, say, live in a condo, your garbage is picked up by a private company. You can probably just buy books and you have internet access in your house. If you live in the Downtown Eastside, not so much:

There are also the back alleys around town where household waste is piling up, and the plight of the Downtown Eastside, where people live in alleys and there are questionable conditions on a good day. In that part of the city, the concern is that you get human waste tossed out with the trash.

This makes me really sad; in Planet of Slums Mike Davis has a whole section about how many people literally live in shit, and how unsavoury the whole thing is for the priveleged. In other words: slums! Not just in the “Third World” anymore! Thanks Vancouver. Or as another writer puts it:

But what doesn’t ever get brought up is that there is only one portion of society that is truly suffering from this excess poop. Most of the rich folk in the West side all have private garbage collectors and life is continuing without a hitch of stench. But the po’ folks on the East side are the ones that depend on city workers to pick up their trash and are now the ones swimming in their neighbours’ semen. So why is one half of the city paying for labour bullshit while the other half gets off? [...] With a prolonged strike the city saves millions, which it is already planning to pass onto homeowners by cutting their property taxes (which side of Vancouver owns expensive property?), and our mayor gets to finally look firm on something.

I do technically live on the “West Side,” in that my address does have a West in it, but I live a block and a half from the boundary, and I am still poor. Also, beside the point. What actually prompted me to write this was this whiny editorial. “Boo hoo! The Anti-Poverty Committee dumped garbage at the mayor’s condo! It is totally unfair that he should have to step over deal with garbage in his home!” (This was basically my mom’s reaction when it was on the news last week too.) Uh, yeah, except, some people have to do this all the time.

My mom was all “Other people live here. They should keep the protests to City Hall.” But… City Hall is in a residential neighbourhood (incidentally, my residential neighbourhood). People have to live there too. Anyway: maybe the reason the APC is “devoting themselves to helping the well-fed, freshly laundered picketers outside city hall” is that those picketers, when they are actually working, are all that is keeping Vancouver from turning into Victorian London.

This city, it has turned me into such a commie. You can’t say we live in a classless society: everything comes down to class here.

(Links culled from various posts on Beyond Robson.)

Blue Skies

Discovery: Vancouver in the summer is awesome, yo. Unlike in Toronto, where summer means like “extreme heat warnings” and “going to the mall every weekend because at least it’s air conditioned,” Vancouver in the summer is a great place to be. It is warm, sure, but it is in the mid-20s, so you can comfortably wear a sundress, but you won’t spend the whole day feeling as though you are about to melt. You even need to bring a sweater if you’re going out at night

Vancouver has many many many flaws, but the availability of delicious food at reasonable prices is not one of them. The photo above shows where Alex and I enjoyed the most ridiculously good lunch ever. There is this place, called Go Fish, that is located on the actual fisherman’s wharf, and you go down, and they serve you amazingly fresh fish, all tender and delicious and in various formats (sandwich, taco, battered and fried) which you can then eat while looking at boats and the blue glass condo towers across False Creek.


Anyway, I am trying to enjoy summertime idling as much as I can, drinking various minty cocktails and trying to work through some Kant. I fear I will run out of money if I don’t find some kind of paying work soon. This would help pay off my summer tuition and help me not starve while I’m hoping student loans will come through. In other news, Alex moved way up the waitlist, so I may not be lonely and miserable and have to move this fall. Hurray!

The downside of Vancouver summer is the incredibly large concentration of tourists. Unlike my old place in Toronto (Bloor and Ossington not being a tourism hot spot), I live in an area where tourists seem to turn up (ie. there is a large hotel 4 blocks away from my house). Last night, Alex and I were waiting for the bus home across the Cambie Bridge. A couple of (I’m guessing) affluent middle-aged Americans walked up to the other guy at the stop and asked him a couple of questions. The woman then walked over to us on the bench and pointed across the bridge, saying “TWELTH AVENUE?” in the over-enunciated loud way people talk to those for whom English is not a first language. Alex and I were like, “Yeah, Twelfth is that way.”

So weird.

I read the body count out of the paper, and now it’s written all over my face

Three things again:

  1. When I was running today I went by this pond in the park and I came within three feet of a great blue motherfucking heron. It was just standing there, it was really cool.
  2. Last night I wound up going to bed really late because I read “Chemo World,” and then I couldn’t sleep. It’s a memoir in this month’s Harper’s written by a cancer ward nurse and holy shit it is one powerful piece of writing. She combines the scientific details about how chemo works with anecdotal evidence and perfectly-placed details, and I won’t lie, I could feel my bones freaking out. Seriously:
    Worse than the nausea for many people is a condition called mucositis. Many drugs damage the DNA of cells in the mucus membranes of the entire digestive tract, from mouth to anus, as well as mucous membranes in the vagina. The damage and the release of inflammatory chemicals destroys tiny blood vessels and connective tissue, creating ulcers. Some patients are in such severe pain from mouth sores that they can’t swallow or even speak. They require narcotics and may need days or weeks of what is called TPN, total parenteral nutrition, a metabolically balanced liquid given through the veins. (Now and then, if a patient has a certain sense of humor about his or her dark condition, the nurses will label the big, milky bag: “Steak, baked potatoes, apple pie,” changing the menu day by day.)
    It’s pretty visceral, and that’s not even the part about how the chemo drugs are so toxic that the nurses have to wear gloves when handling the plastic bags, or how one treatment essentially constitutes destroying all your bone marrow and then replacing it with pre-harvested other bone marrow. I think I found it so harrowing because chemo’s universally acknowledged to suck, but no one really talks about it, and I know people who’ve had cancer. I think probably everyone does. And those people I know, this stuff has probably happened to them, privately. But they don’t really talk about it because cancer? Not a fun conversation topic. Ugh.
  3. This delicious pineapple dessert thing I made for lunch:
    Continue Reading »

The quintessential Vancouver snow story

I just want to get it out of the way, but: the moment when Ryan Seacrest had to duck to avoid getting hit in the face by this crazy kid’s juggling stick while he was hugging his mom is one of the greatest on television so far this year.

Other than that, it’s basically just been snowing and then stopping snowing in Vancouver. This is my story. Last week, I’m on the bus, coming home from school with the dude I TA with. It has just started snowing a little. So we’re on the bus, and there’s some lovely, fluffy snow falling, and we’re going on this slight incline. C. and I are chatting about the class, and whatever, and then all of a sudden the bus stops. The driver announces (not on the loudspeaker) that the bus is sliding, and, with an edge of hysteria in her voice, explains that she is just not driving any more.

We are not at a bus stop. We are just on the road, a few blocks away from the next stop. By some bushes. In the snow. I am wearing a skirt and my still-being-broken-in new Frye Boots. So we walk. Toward Alma we see one of the cable buses, just abandoned on the road, its front end literally in the middle of the street.

I would like to emphasize that these weren’t really white-out conditions. It was like, softly snowing, and the snow was mostly melting the second it hit the ground. No ice at all. There were no more buses in sight and a bunch of people at the first bus stop we came to, so we walked on, calling our respective homes. We saw one bus with actual passengers, packed to the gills, on our entire walk from before 10th and Alma to Broadway and MacDonald where we stopped for pizza and eventually caught a running bus.

I am going to tell this story forever. Seriously, the bus driver was like your mom freaking out because she’s going down a really steep hill that is sheer ice. But it was a slight incline, not all that icy, and also SHE IS A PROFESSIONAL BUS DRIVER. This is ridiculous. I don’t have a lot of problems with the Vancouver transit system, besides its crazed refusal to have rapid transit that covers the bulk of the actual city of Vancouver, and instead have two rail lines that run parallel to each other, but this? Is ridiculous.

Get it together, Vancouver

This is my last NaBloPoMo post, meaning I have blogged every single day for the month of November. This is good, because it definitely rekindled my love of blogging, and willingness to post about movies I watched, because people actually respond to those posts.

Here is my November in review:

1) I had to boil my drinking water for the first time ever. I know I already complained about this, but THIS IS WHY I DO NOT LIVE IN THE COUNTRY. I might as well have to pump it from a frickin’ well.

2) It snowed. For two days straight. In Vancouver. School closed for a day. There is still snow on the ground and I can tell you it is getting less pretty by the minute. It is starting to melt, which is much, much less awesome. They had to reroute my bus. Because, I think (?), they don’t have snowplows. 2a) Though it is apparently the law, you wouldn’t know it from the unshoveled sidewalks in my neighbourhood.

3) I have so much work to do. Grading papers, writing papers, reading papers. Then I am going home for Christmas and in Toronto for New Year’s. (FYI I will be in Calgary Dec 17-27, and then to Toronto Dec 27-Jan 4).

4) Classes are basically over starting tomorrow, but I have a little under three weeks to finish up writing papers. This is kind of good, because it means I have all my time to work on papers, but kind of bad because I don’t do well without structure. Note to self: invent a structure.

I hearby declare today snow day, the funnest day in the history of Springfield

Last night and today, I am experiencing for my first time the joy of Vancouver snow. It started yesterday afternoon, with little teeny hardly counting, melting as soon as they touched the ground flakes, which is how I assumed it would stay.

Sometime around five, when we were buying movie tickets, it started up for real. I stood at the window for like, ever, waiting for Alex to finish in the bathroom at the Metrotown Silvercity, watching snow fall on the parking lot and being so happy to see real snow that I wanted to cry. A screening of Happy Feet let out and I was suddenly surrounded by kids saying “Cool, snow!” and asking their parents if they could go tobaggoning. On the Skytrain, we overheard a cellphone conversation that went something like “Do you have four-wheel drive? Can you come pick us up?”

Things got hilarious when we headed home and the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the 11:00 news was taken up by snow-related stories: did you know people get into car accidents when it snows? Or that the first snowfall of the season means that upwards of ten people will be in line at the tire place to get winter tires put on?

Today, when we woke up and it was still snowing, we headed out for a Main Street snow walk:

Alex makes a snowball

Tree, with (surprise) snow on it

Snowy bush, again

Snow makes everything pretty. There are a few more where that came from.

I seriously didn’t know how much I missed snow until I realized this would all be gone in a couple days.

Alex just called me a “Petite Powderkeg”

Time: Nine-thirtysomething AM Place: The B-Line, at Broadway and Heather

I am sitting sideways in the “please get up if old or disabled people get on the bus” seats. My backpack is on the floor in front of me and my feet are straddling it, so the people in front of me have room to stand. This woman gets on. She looks about 47 years old and healthy. She’s holding two of those hanging strap handle things. She kind of slowly starts stepping forward; she’s in my foot’s path. I try to move ol’ lefty out of the way, but there’s no room. She steps on my toe.

“Excuse me, you’re on my foot. Ma ‘am?” I say, meekly.

Not only does she not respond, but she puts more weight on my foot. (It’s become clear that she’s leaning on my foot to pull the “Next Stop” cord, very slowly.

A bit more firmly: “You’re on my foot.”

She finally pulls the cord and returns to her original, not on my foot, stance.

I look up at her. She kind of squints at me, then won’t meet my gaze.

I look around, to see if anyone else is as shocked at this total display of rudeness. I don’t know why I’d expect them to care.

But seriously: Continue Reading »

In which Vancouver doesn’t totally suck

So after a couple of months of living here, Alex and I figured we should make some vague attempt to get to know our actual neighbourhood.

We started off with brunch, at Slickity Jim’s. Getting brunch is one of my favourite things ever, and SJ’s was totally not a disappointment. I got scrambled eggs with goat feta, tomatillo salsa and avocado on an English muffin; Alex got this crazy eggs benedict-type deal with black olives, asagio and poached pear. The coffee was strong, the food came out fast, it was great. Then we set out exploring the neighbourhood: we walked up Main and discovered Solly’s Bagels, which I could tell I was going to love the second we walked in and “Good Morning” from Singin’ in the Rain was playing and the whole place smelled like fresh bread and cinnamon. We got a half-dozen of the freshest bagels ever and promised ourselves we’d come back for the frozen blintzes and chicken soup.

We wandered around and looked at about 1,000 consignment stores, one of which I left with an awesome 100% cashmere sweater for $19. It will require slight repairs, but it fits like a glove. We found an awesome store that has crazy bulk craft supplies; we are going to go back and get stuff to make fridge magnets. Then we got lattes and I got a jaunty cap before we headed home.

We passed at least 3 or 4 restaurants I want to eat at, and I saw a bunch of cute clothes I wanted. We’ve apparently landed ourselves right in the middle of hipsterville.

It felt the most like a Toronto Sunday in a long time.


Dudes, I’m sure you saw this small news item about how I have to boil my drinking water. My prof tells me this isn’t a frequent occurence, because seriously, right now, about a sixteenth of the population of the whole country cannot drink water from the tap. It’s like Little House on the Prairie. But with electricity.

Last night, the solution was simple: go to the pub down the street for dinner and drink beer. We are modern, city dwellers. When life gives us lemons, we find some people we can pay to make lemonade. (Metaphorical lemonade; they couldn’t make real lemonade, because, again, we can’t drink the tap water.) And bring it to us.

But this morning, because of my failure to actually boil water the previous night to put in the coffee maker, we had no coffee. Also, Starbucks had no coffee. I could handle boiling my teeth-brushing water, but then I realized that STARBUCKS IS NOT SELLING ANY COFFEE. I live in the third-largest city in the country. A country that the UN has frequently named as being one the best places in the world to live. And I haven’t gotten to drink any coffee today, because of the WATER QUALITY.

Seriously, Vancouver. You aren’t going to win any “best city in the world” surveys if people can’t safely drink the tap water.

Can you tell I have had no coffee?

UPDATE: The campus Tim Horton’s is filling their coffeemakers from a water cooler. Halle-freaking-lujah.

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