Nothing scares me more than the fact that people in the USA still think Obama is an unpatriotic Muslim who believes everything taught by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Unless it's the people who won't vote for him because his name is one letter off from Osama.
"Canadianisms" People always had comments or questions when they found out I was from Canada. It was amazing to see firsthand what the rest of the world thought about us.
From a person who'd never met a Canadian before: "So you're from Canada huh?! That's cool. I like Canadians."
A fellow teacher: "I've always wanted to visit Canada. We're thinking of going for a few days next year on our way to New York. Maybe visit Toronto and Vancouver for a weekend then drive down to the States."
A student: "Miss! Your country looks like a giant forest!"
A stranger in a bar: "Right. So you're Canadian. That means you love ice hockey right? The Maple Leafs right?"
Another acquaintance: "You're from Canada, huh? Do you guys really say "eh" all the time?"
(Interestingly, I find myself saying "eh" a lot more when outside of the country.)
When I was in high school, I took great pleasure in perpetuating many of the classic Canadian stereotypes with my friends. On the way to NYC in grade 11, we stopped at a McDonald's in upstate New York and upon hearing a cashier joke about the place being lousy with Canadians (not meanly, just teasingly), we started saying things like "Hey! This place has indoor outhouses EH!" Or "I would like a POP please".
As the bus pulled away from the restaurant (as she cringes at calling McDonald's a "restaurant"), we started joking around about all of the Canadianisms out there, especially ones we'd heard from Americans. These are all real comments, mostly coming from Americans we'd met in Florida during holidays to Disney World:
Any Canadians north of Toronto live in igloos.
We all know how to ice skate and are proficient snow-shoers.
We all love hockey and cheer for the Maple Leafs.
We all love maple syrup on our ham.
We have "weird" bacon. (FYI: Canadian bacon, or back bacon, is called "country ham" in North Carolina)
We're all extremely friendly and polite.
We wear plaid all the time, and all have giant pairs of snow-boots.
We all know each other. ("Hey, you're from Canada?! Do you know Joe Smith from Toronto?")
We all speak French (this is actually a common misconception from many countries)
As soon as you're north of the border, it's winter ALL THE TIME.
We have the best beer in the world. (While it could be argued that other countries have been tasting beer, not one Canadian in the world will admit it. We have an entire series of commercials dedicated to how awesome our beer is.)
When it comes to well-known Canadians, people will most often comment on our hockey heroes, but a few knowledgeable folk realize that many celebrities come from north of the border. Here are just a few: Diana Krall Pamela Anderson Jim Carey Leonard Cohen Sarah McLachlan Evangeline Lily Kim Cattrall (although we share her with England) Nelly Furtado Tom Green (yep, we're very proud) Ryan Reynolds Burton Cummings Dan Akroyd
And then there's this guy:
But no matter what crazy things people have said to me about our country, the overwhelming majority of them had great respect for our people and land.
One of my all-time favourite quotes about Canada comes from That 70's Show:
"I just wish there was someplace in the world where prejudice didn't exist" "Well that's Canada.Yep, Good old Canada. They don't make generalizations about people cause they're too busy playing hockey or getting drunk or putting maple syrup on their ham".
When I was teaching overseas last year, I used to tell the children stories about life in Canada. They were fascinated by the thought of another London all the way across the ocean that had trees everywhere and a Thames River so little that barges couldn't go down it. They stared at the pictures of both Londons and couldn't believe how different they looked. The most difficult concept for the kids was how Canada could be so much bigger than England but our London was so much smaller than it's namesake.
It was a point of great pride for me to show them how green everything was here - how huge the yards are and how clean the lakes. By Easter half of the class was determined to visit Canada one day.
I've traveled from one end of this country to the other, swam in the oceans on each coast, and driven through mountains and prairies. I've walked on the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, seen hockey games in Edmonton, Calgary, and Toronto, explored Stanley Park in Vancouver, seen the Cabot Trail, and flown over large cities and small towns. I've seen Canada by car, bus, train, plane, and boat.
I know my country. And it just makes me even more proud to be Canadian.
"Hey, how does this look?" I asked a sleepy Jeremy, turning around in the outfit I'd chosen for the day.
He said the same thing he always does: "good".
Seeing a twenty-pound-lighter self in the mirror, I realized that my lifestyle change (two months so far of eating healthier foods and regular exercise) was paying off. I still have more to lose, but I'm happy to be where I'm at right now too.
Today felt like Graduation Day.
I drove down Oxford street with a smile on my face, singing along with the radio as the breeze played with my hair. As the buildings slipped by, I realized that everything that has happened in the last two years was exactly what was supposed to happen.
I am now a registered teacher with our school board.
And as it turns out, the majority of the 40 new hires in the room today had long term classroom experience. Or ties with some of the schools through volunteering, etc. So going to England actually helped me get here. And working for Mad Science did too.
As it turns out, we did everything right.
We might be in a scary financial hole, we might be renting still, and having to wait until Summer 2010 to get married, but we still did everything right. Yes, there were some dumb choices, but that's always part of the process - we all need to make mistakes.
As I pulled into the driveway after today's orientation, I wandered over to my garden to check on my flowers, beans, and watermelon plants and thought about what the staffing officer had said to me before I left:
"All good things come to those who wait. Well, no, actually all good things come in September."
I hate to disagree, but I've learned that even though some parts of your life might completely suck, there are always good things happening along with the bad.
And there will be a LOT of good things before September...
It's 9:30pm on a humid Saturday night and here I sit in my pajamas sipping a beer and whining about my tired feet. Our big event has come to a close and I'm reflecting on the job with mixed emotions. The temperatures here rose into the high 30s (that's into the 100s for my American friends), carrying a humidity that reminded me of summertime in North Carolina. We went through over 1200 bottles of water in the past 4 days - and luckily only had 1 person with heat stroke (a teacher, who was rushed away in an ambulance).
We now have the final reports to write, the packing and boxing of supplies to complete, thank you cards to write, and suggestions for next year's staff - most of which should take until the end of June.
During this time, I'll return to my Mad Scientist persona, will have my orientation with the school board (yay!) and will be praying to find another part-time job to take me into September. I'll have a social life again and will get to tend to my garden (bean plants sprouting, watermelon vines growing, flowers blooming - it's amazing how great it's doing considering my lack of care during the last couple of weeks). Life should be back to normal.
Tomorrow is my first day off of work in over a month. I plan to enjoy every minute of it.
Top Ten Reasons Why Sleep Deprivation isn't So Bad
For the last two months I've been working for a non-profit organization that is holding a major (20,000+ visitors) event here in the London area. As the clock marches toward the opening day, things are steadily becoming crazier. Unfortunately for our group, none of us were part of this organization last year and have no idea whether or not we are even doing our jobs right. Luckily, our small team is motivated enough to go for hours without sleep for the next week and will try our best to ensure that there are no thefts, explosions, fires, lost children, or people yelling at us.
I probably won't be writing again until the event is over (and I blame the preparation for me being such a terrible blogger lately), since I plan to try and sleep for at least a little while after the 15 hour days that are looming like thunderclouds in the horizon.
And (taking Sully's sage advice posted in a previous comments section) here is the bright side of all of this:
Why Sleep Deprivation Isn't So Bad
10. My appreciation for the deliciousness of coffee has tripled - it is now the single greatest drink to ever be invented
9. I no longer care about what my hair looks like in the morning (which saves me HOURS each week in getting ready for work)
8. It is now possible to have a cat nap sitting up (or do we call this "passing out"?)
7. Jeremy has taken over the Doing the Dishes chore - which allows me to sit and relax for a few minutes before working some more (and he makes me bubble baths without asking)
6. The noise my neighbour's annoying boyfriend makes with his car stereo and rock music no longer jolts me awake at all hours of the night (FYI: This noise also wakes other neighbours. He apparently thinks his noise is justifiable because the cats run around across the floor at night and actually asked his girlfriend how we could complain about the noise if our cats were being so annoying at night. By running across the floor. As a result she asked if we could control our cats and make stop running around at night. I did try to have a conversation with them about it, but just got a blank look and a "meow" (translation: where's my food?!) in response. I hope he has better luck convincing his car stereo to quiet down after midnight)
5. I can snore and not feel guilty about it ("I'm so tired - sorry if i'm snoring again!")
4. I can get a buzz from 1 rum & coke (love being a cheap drunk!)
3. It is now possible to wake up at 7:30am without an alarm clock (seriously - we haven't set the alarm in WEEKS)
2. I can entertain myself much more easily - by watching YouTube videos or reruns of That 70's Show until I fall asleep in my chair (sitcoms are a lot funnier right now)
1. Things that probably aren't funny are now hilarious (and I don't even need the aforementioned rum & coke!). This includes my own writing. For this I can only apologize.
With that (possibly terrible) post, I leave you for the week. Following the event, I'll hopefully find time to write more often since there is a LOT to tell.
When I was in high school, I imagined that at 29 I'd be married with a couple of kids, working in my career job, and living in a house. I'm engaged, have just climbed onto the bottom rung of the long ladder in my teaching career, have two cats and live in an apartment. Sometimes things take a little longer than we expect...