Instead, I'll reprise my last post of 2005:
Things I Learned this Year (and can still remember)
- Kids grow up REALLY fast.
- Writing in a blog is better than I ever thought it would be.
- Friends can come into your life in the most unexpected ways.
- Being a teacher is HARD.
- It's even harder to find a job as a teacher in Canada (apparently there are less teaching jobs there than anywhere else in the world)
- All I needed to do to start losing weight was move to London, England and take part in a daily commute from one end of the city to the other. Chasing buses and trains is a great way to wake up first thing in the morning.
- People in Europe really love Canadians.
- Public drinking is widely accepted in England - even at 8am on the Central Line while everybody else is in business wear and on their way to work.
- Having a newspaper while riding in the Underground is a great way to hide from crazy people.
- It is possible to live in a place without a TV. (although I do miss it)
- Tourists are both annoying and fun to be around, depending on where in the city you are. (I have no patience for the tourists who stand around with their maps, blocking the entire sidewalk, or even worse - stop dead in their tracks right on front of you, so you're forced to dodge out of their way)
- British people REALLY like pudding. And custard. (everywhere you go people seem to be eating puddings of some kind - or buying them in grocery stores)
- Spotted dick is a kind of British pudding. (no, I haven't tried it and just don't think I can bring myself to try this currant-filled dish)
- It is possible to make a traditional Christmas dinner using a toaster oven. (things just take 2 hours longer - so start early or be prepared to eat at 10:30pm)
- British pubs are seriously cool.
- There are walls and sidewalks in my neighborhood that are older than Canada. There is a pub around the corner that is over 200 years old and used to serve as a meeting / training area for the British troops.
- There is a lot more history here than you can ever imagine.
- I really like olives (not just on pizza or in salad)
- Learning new currency can be very confusing - especially the coins. (England has a 20p coin, and no quarters. Their 10p coins are the size of Canadian quarters, so it gets really confusing. Interestingly, the Brits have a 2 pound coin that looks very similar to our Toonies back home)
- Even native Londoners need an A-Z guide to get around their city (it's a very handy little book that has maps of every street in the city)
- Global warming DOES exist and when little countries like Britain spend a lot of time, money, and energy lowering their toxic emissions, it makes me really sad to think about how much more North America can be doing. With a little effort we can stop the polar ice caps from melting, and stop pissing off Mother Nature. (we've all seen "The Day After Tomorrow" - far fetched? You just never know...)
- There are Canadian geese in England.
- The birds in the country all sound different from the ones back home (even crows sound funny) - except the aforementioned Canadian geese and the swans.
- In London, beer is cheaper than pop. And some brands of bottled water.
- The United Kingdom has more binge-drinkers than anywhere else in Europe.
- Uhaul is EVIL - never ever ever ever use them for moving. They will always mess up something with your reservation or will provide you with a broken-down vehicle - or one that isn't what you ordered. Take the time to check prices from other places - even if you have to return the truck it is worth it financially to consider this option.
- You can't buy dill pickles in England.
- I really miss dill pickles. And Frank's Red Hot Sauce, proper soya sauce, buffalo chicken wings, Wendy's food, Kraft Garlic BBQ sauce, Jalepeno Cheddar Doritos, and Lay's Dill Pickle chips.
- Instead of paying a ridiculous amount of money for a Bus Tour! of London - get a daily travel card (or better yet an Oyster card - everything is cheaper with it), grab a few cans of beer and ride around on the top of double decker buses to see the sights. it's surpringly easy to find your way around, and there are no annoying tour guide yammering on and you get to drink beer.
- If you're a dedicated hockey fan - you'll find a way to watch games while overseas. (thanks TSN for playing the World Juniors Tournament off of your website!)
- There is only one place in England where you can find poutine - and it's a Canadian bar in Covent Garden called the Maple Leaf. I plan on going down there on July 1st for some beer and poutine.
- It's okay to not know where I'll be celebrating New Year's next year - or even where in the world I'll be living. Because...
- Someday, somehow, everything is going to be just fine.
During high school and university, our friends would get together for a New Year's Eve party, that was usually held at my house. Some people came and went through the years, but the same main group of people were always there... It was our tradition to choose the "Song of the Year" each New Year's - usually something that spoke to all of us and captured the spirit of the year as we saw it.
Our Millenium party was held at my favourite place in the world - our cottage at Ella Lake. The last night of the 20th century was clear, with bright stars in the sky and soft snow on the ground that reflected the patio lanterns glowing outside (we were still living at the house in the winter so the only outside lights were our summer ones. Which was okay because they added a bit of quirky charm to our night). My dad had gone out earlier in the day to light a fire so the place would be cozy and warm. We ate and drank and laughed at lot that night, and a few people spent the evening arguing over what the "song for the millennium" should be. I remember the two main contenders being "Will 2K" from Will Smith, and "The End of the World As We Know it" from R.E.M.. Steve and Dan were both determined to win the battle, and tried very hard to convince the other that their choice was the right one. Knowing how strong-willed both of these guys are, I opted to leave them to it and have another drink.
After the ball dropped in Times Square, the opening strains of our New Year's Song blasted out of the stereo. "It's the End of the World As we Know It" - a tribute to the Y2K madness and a deeper statement that we all knew our lives were changing and that these changes were inevitable.
Seven years have passed since then. Break-ups and hook-ups and graduations and new jobs and weddings and pregnancies and new babies and Moving Days and promises to keep in touch have coloured our days with both sadness and joy. I don't talk to Dan anymore - there was too much hurt and anger from the breakup to allow us to stay friends. (It's a shame because he was a fantastic friend.) But 'tis life and there are others from our old gang that are not around anymore either. I wonder about their lives now. Are they happy? Married with kids? Working in careers that they enjoy? I hope wherever they are that their lives have brought them to a place where they are happy...
Tonight we'll all be in different places. It's not the first time that we'll be apart, but I still feel really sad that we don't spend New Year's as a group anymore. Maybe one year we will again.
It's really hard to think of a good New Year's Song for 2006. There have been a several that capture what my year was like:
Breakaway - Kelly Clarkson
London Bridge - Fergie (yep - hate this song, but the whole London thing is unavoidable)
So Far Away - Nickelback
Leaving on a Jet Plane - assorted artists, but the Chantal Kreviazuk version is my favourite
Only Love Will Get You Through - Sade
SexyBack - Justin Timberlake (this song just seemed to be playing whenever something major was going on in my life. I heard it 11 times the night we moved out of Windsor)
Well that's it! The last post of 2006. I hope I've provided some entertainment the few of you who read this blog. This year has been a roller coaster of good and bad things, but in the end, I can look back on myself a year ago and know that I've come a long way.
Happy New Year Everybody!
Drink, dance, laugh, eat great food, hug & kiss, and be joyful!
See you next year.