Tuesday, 31 May 2011

We Don't Know How It's Ending

There are a few things I should point out before I jump into discussing The End Of The World As We Know It:

1) This post is late. Very late. *bows head in shame*

2) This is post number 100. Long live The TASG! *raises superhero ring to the heavens*

Now that those things are out of the way, I will continue with the regularly scheduled programming (which is not true - Allison is supposed to post at this point but Tom and I operate in our own personal time zones, so you're stuck with me...but I digress).

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat fascinated by the whole concept of the world ending. I have countless songs devoted to the topic. I even co-wrote a post-apocalyptic rock opera in college (it was synced with footage from "Night Of The Living Dead" and everything). I'm a sucker for any of that end-of-the-world zombie apocalypse crap and I even have several ideas of how I will fight for my own survival in an apocalyptic situation. So when everyone went crazy with the rapture hype, I couldn't help but use it as an excuse to think too much about the end times. And naturally, when the rapture scare was all said and done, I found myself in that strange state of existentialism that sometimes engulfs my brain when I think too much.

I didn't think the world was actually going to go all Biblical on May 21st. I paid attention in Sunday school growing up and I knew that Jesus probably wasn't going to tell anyone he was coming back - he was just going to show up. But the whole thing got my mind rolling. What if the world did suddenly come to an end? What the universe suddenly expanded to the point of breaking apart and everything ceased to exist? What if the sun exploded or the Mayans came back from the dead? What then? All we have accomplished on earth will become completely irrelevant and we will inevitably become extinct.

So what is the point of anything if we're all just ultimately going fade away into nothingness???

The day after the rapture was scheduled to happen, a man jumped off a ten-story parking garage and killed himself right outside my neighbor's place of employment. She was late coming home because the whole street was blocked off. I guess the guy was yelling about how he missed the rapture right before he jumped. I guess a lot of people tried to stop him but he was too upset with God and himself to listen to them. He truly believed that Jesus had left him behind and he would have to face the end of the world. It's an incredibly sad story that I wasn't entirely sure how to process. My neighbor mentioned it so casually in conversation ("They had to scrape a guy off of the sidewalk today because he missed The Rapture") and catapulted into a related story about how her coworker spent three hours trapped in a sushi place because of the incident. I was still stuck on the fact that a guy killed himself because of the rapture scare. He was so worried about the world ending that he ended his own world prematurely. If that's not dramatic irony in action, I don't know what is.

I think the only thing we can really know for sure is that we are alive and on this planet right here in this very moment. So we've got to live our lives to the fullest, keep our brains out of that abyss known as existentialism, and make peace with the fact that we don't really know how the world will end.

Anyway, this post has become awkwardly heavy. So I shall leave you with a song:

(Note: This video is very old, but the song is relevant.)

Commercial Free!

I'm late, I'm late for a somewhat important date. I know, I'm never late - but I was giving Lauren a chance to finish her post from last week. That will hopefully still get posted soon as well.

We never confirmed this topic with each other, but I'm just gonna go with it:


I'd say it would be a dramedy on HBO or Showtime. Episodes would follow the bizarre adventures of my character...let's call her Beth. Beth works at a coffee shop after getting laid off from her desk job at a magazine that eventually goes out of business. So the show would also tackle the subject of the changing economy and media. You'll laugh, you'll cry.

Other characters will include a best friend who lives in another town who you don't meet often, but you read chats and texts from her....let's call her Amber. And several co-workers at the coffee shop who act as a support group.

Other topics that would be touched on would be dysfunctional and long-distance relationships, anxiety issues, family drama, the crazy regulars of the coffee shop, and various other issues that come with the whole Quarter-life Crisis. She might even have a crazy stalker!

She also has a local pub that she meets a group of friends at each week to play trivia. I'd obviously have to work on making it a little more sexy...to fit with the HBO/Showtime style.

So that's my life on TV...tune in next week for another episode of The Transatlantic Support Group!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

No Use Permitting Some Prophet of Doom to Wipe All The Smiles Away

Guys, this will be a short post. You see, I quit my job and sold all my belongings to pay for a bill board warning of Armageddon. And now I'm in a bit of a pickle, with barely enough for 5 minutes Internet time.

I jest. And I should not mock those who have sufficient faith to take such drastic steps. I should also stop quoting Cabaret (see post title).

I was only aware of the predicted end of days from about Thursday last week. Perhaps it was bigger news across the pond?

Like Allison, The Road sprang to mind. As if the prospect of armageddon wasn't uncomfortable enough, I was now reminded of Cormac McCarthy's sparing use of grammar (*shudder* Great book, other than that).

Is it weird that at 26 years of age, prophets of doom still have the power to keep me awake? Is it not even more bizarre that I'm not religious and still let predictions based on religious texts scare me?

In my defence, I suppose it's natural to fear the end. That point when all of mankind's history, progress and ambition crashes to a halt. When everything you've worked for or collected suddenly becomes pointless, and all your hopes for the future impossible.

Predictions like this - and I gather the Biblical support for it is thin on the ground - tap into this fear. Was it exploitation? Did he somehow make millions from it? Or was it a genuine mistake by a genuine believer? I don't know. All I know is that I could have done with a bit more sleep on Friday night, I've enough on my plate without worrying about how to survive the end of the world.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Lenny Bruce is Not Afraid!

So on Saturday the world didn't end. That means The TASG lives on!

Yeah, I'm shocked too.

I really didn't think it was going to - I mean, those people have predicted the end of the world numerous times and it's never happened, so I wasn't worried. But it did get me thinking.

What if those crazies were right? I know that if the rapture happened I wouldn't be one of the chosen few, so I'd just be stuck on earth with most of my family and friends....yeah...hell on earth actually sounds pretty sweet, right? Unless it turned out to be like the book The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which would be horrible.

Anyways, I got to thinking about how the end of the world would be a total buzz kill and would ruin my  summer plans. I still have things on my bucket list, and if my bucket is prematurely kicked by some sort of hellfire, that would suck.

As for the end of the world, I think the world is ending. Just like we're all dying. The world as we know it will end someday - the sun will burn out, the ice caps will melt, earthquakes and volcanoes will engulf us all, the ozone will disappear - all that scary stuff environmental groups have warned us about.

So yeah, we made it through another judgement day. Hallelujah!

The sun is still shining!
See ya Wednesday Tom!

Sunday, 22 May 2011

The Busy Life Of A Hipster...

Here we see Lauren The Hipster in her natural habitat
People naturally assume that because I don't have a steady job or go to school, I have a lot of time on my hands.  And it's true - my days are structured differently than a lot of people I know.  But that doesn't mean I don't do things.  I fill my days with projects.  Sometimes I go on adventures.  When I am at my best and being the most productive, I lose track of the days entirely.  I sleep weird hours.  I become engulfed in the music that I am creating, the stories I'm writing, and the people I'm interacting with.  I need Rebecca Black to remind me what day of the week it is.  It gets to the point where I wake up on Sunday morning and realize that I was supposed to update The TASG two days ago.  I'm sure you guys have noticed this.  Yet again, I apologize for my general lack of timeliness. 

I was extra busy a couple of weeks ago because I was trying my hand at event planning.  Now I know why all booking agents smoke.  I spent way too much time sending emails to bands and performance artists with the hope of making a profit off of live shows.  The whole plan fell apart before I could make much more than $12.  I ditched that whole routine and went back to focusing on the most important thing right now:  my E.P. 

When the E.P. is done, I will focus my efforts on getting a job.  Who knows, maybe I'll end up working at the Plaid Pantry at that point.  But I'll worry about that after the E.P. is done.  I've got a game plan and I'm sticking to it. 

Gah, what a boring post.  I apologize.  There's no way to describe "my busy life" without sounding irresponsible on some level.  Hmmmpfh.

Anyway, hope you guys are having a great weekend.  This is The Yank, signing off.  

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A Letter of Apology to the TASG

- Knackered -

This support group has been somewhat less transatlantic than it should have been of late (though I do think Allison's hop across the pond should count).

I wish I could say this was likely to change; that from here onwards it's back to weekly blogging for the Brit. But I fear the reality will be somewhat different.

The topic "My Busy Life" has never been more apt. My life is so busy, it's become an un-life, almost. I'm alive, yes (contrary to how my sporadic blogging would make it seem), but am I really living? Between miserable hours at work and brain-dead hours commuting, plus trips to see N who broke his ankle and is now housebound*, I've had no time to myself. And it's coming to a head. There's a rage and frustration building up inside me that suggests something needs to give.

Something needs to change. If it doesn't, I'm worried the rest of my twenties will pass me by and I'll wake up and realise I spent too much time wallowing in misery or beating back stress to actually enjoy myself.

Guys, I'm sorry. This is a miserable, self-pitying post that won't be any fun to read. But seriously, I've had enough and want to run away to the countryside where birds sing, the sun shines and everybody's happy. The countryside is really like that, right?

Yank & Canuck: despite my silence I hear you and am following the trials and tribulations of your respective lives. I shall update you as soon as I've slapped myself and convinced myself to stop bitching and man up.

* I'd like to stress that N's injury is not one of the things contributing to my mood, I am being fully supportive. I even bought DVDs. And strawberry milk.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Stand by Us

Me enjoying a rugby match in Bath, UK.

So you guys have probably noticed that this blog is kinda lacking lately. Lacking Tom especially. I do hope that we return to our regular scheduled programming soon - but in the meantime please stick by us!

This week I say our topic be "My Busy Life."

Right now, my life isn't that busy. I work and when I'm not working I fill my time with other frivolous activities - such as, going to the pub. I'm also filling my time with catching up on all the shows I missed while I was in the UK. How I Met Your Mother, House, Modern Family, and Big Bang Theory. I live a full and interesting life.

Anyways, I know Tom and Lauren are quite busy right now - but hopefully you'll hear from them soon.

Sorry for the short and sweet post.


The Canuck

Monday, 9 May 2011

Ze Balance Scale

Hey, sorry I am late (again...)! Allow me to dump my favorite travel story on you guys. I actually wrote this for a class a while back but I've kept it in the archives because I like it. Enjoy!

The infamous lamp (I bought the base in the states)
It’s almost two a.m. in Cairo and an airport security guard is yelling at me in Arabic. It’s my backpack. It’s set off sensors. What the hell is in my backpack?

The guard grabs it. All twenty members of my group wait for me, too exhausted from the past three weeks of heavy traveling to fully grasp what is going on. I am completely flustered as the guard points to the x-ray of my bag on the monitor. I don’t understand a word of what he’s saying, but I can see that he is pointing to something small, round, and wirey in the bottom of my backpack.

I gasp. It’s that stupid, multicolored globe lamp I bought in the market place back in Dahab. I thought I was getting a bargain, but the vendor ended up selling it to me with two roughly cut wires on the end of the chord instead of a conventional plug-in. It was one of the many times I managed to get ripped-off in Egypt, but that’s beside the point. The crazy thing wouldn’t fit in my luggage with the rest of my souvenirs, so I had foolishly stashed it in my carry-on.

I really should have known better. The lamp totally looks like a bomb.

The airport security guard wasn’t going to let me get by easily. I stood frozen by his x-ray monitor, wondering how I was going to explain to my parents that shouldn’t come pick me up at the airport because I was stuck in Cairo with a crappy bomb-shaped lamp I paid too much for.

Niyar, our group’s wonderful tour guide (nicknamed “the nicest man in all of Egypt”), saw what was going on and was there to help me in an instant. “Lauren,” he says in broken English. “What is in your bag? Can you show the man what is in your bag?”

I dig the lamp out of the bottom of my bag and hand it to the guard. “Lauren, what is this?” asks Niyar, as puzzled as the guard. I explain to him that it’s a lamp. He turns to the guard and starts talking very fast in Arabic. The guard rips the lamp from its careful packaging and pokes it suspiciously. I stand there helplessly as Niyar and the guard exchange angry-sounding Arabic phrases. Finally Niyar turns to me and says “We will pack this in your luggage. I will help you.”

Without warning, he unzips my enormous luggage, unleashing three weeks worth of dirty laundry. Why was it a good idea to pack my underwear on top? I felt as though everyone in the entire airport was staring at me, the moronic white girl with flaming red hair, as I frantically shove loose bras back into my suitcase and covered them with a souvenir papyrus scroll. I transferred a couple of random, smelly clothing items to my backpack, dumped the lamp into my luggage, and proceeded to struggle with the zipper for what felt like an eternity.

When I finally joined the rest of the group, I was completely embarrassed. Members of my group asked me what had just happened and I told them I would fill them in later because it involved a word you can’t even say in an airport (“bomb”). I collapsed in a chair by our designated terminal and fished around in my bag for my last mango juice box. I slumped in defeat when I remembered that the guard had confiscated it shortly before the lamp incident.

And then I got on the plane.

I hate planes even more than I hate airports.

I love traveling, but planes make me nervous. Anxious, even. Sometimes, they go as far as to make me sick. Once I used five barf bags in a two-hour domestic flight, but that’s beside the point. The point being that I had narrowly escaped the Cairo airport with a suspicious lamp and I now had to endure 13 hours of flying.

I found my seat between a bubbly blonde girl and a middle-aged Egyptian man. The blonde girl was with my group and had a lifelong phobia of airplanes. As soon as the takeoff began, she began to hyperventilate. I offered her a stick of gum in attempts to calm her down. The Egyptian man politely asked if he could have one as well. I had just enough gum to get myself through the next couple of flights, but I like to act like I’m a nice person, so I gave him a piece anyway. This small gesture was enough to make him my new best friend.

After the plane was in the air, the blonde girl calmed herself down, put on headphones, and promptly fell asleep. Everyone else on the plane dozed off as well. It was past three in the morning. But my new BFF Abdul wanted to stay up and talk and I was too on edge to sleep anyway. So when the Dutch stewardess came by and offered us bad airplane coffee, we each took a cup.

Abdul was cleanly dressed in business attire. His English was wretched and he knew it. I managed to understand that he had been in Egypt for a month visiting his family and he was returning to his wife and daughter in Amsterdam. The conversation quickly went from normal and polite to bizarre and mildly reminiscent of the movie “Airplane.”

“Do you smoke?” he asks, raising an eyebrow.
“No,” I reply.
There’s a pause.
“Do you smoke?” I fire the strange question back at him.
“Yes. Yes, I enjoy Egyptian water pipe.”
“Oh. Cool,” I say, for lack of a better response.
There’s another pause.
“Do you have boyfriend?”
“Yes.” I did have a boyfriend, but I’m pretty sure I would have said “yes” regardless.
“Does he smoke?”
Yet another pause. I half-expect him to ask me if I’ve ever gone to a Turkish prison.
“You live with boyfriend?”
“No, I live with my parents…”
“Oh, your boyfriend live with you and your parents?”
“No, my boyfriend lives with his parents.”

Abdul was confused. He then embarked on a ten-minute monologue regarding how hard romantic relationships can be in Egypt because of the Muslim culture. “And that’s why Amsterdam is paradise!” he exclaims happily. “In Egypt, you want to do the sex with girlfriend, you no can. It is bad with the religion. But in Amsterdam, you can make love to girls you love!”

I start fumbling through my backpack for my headphones, but Abdul merely takes that as a cue to change topics. He randomly asks what month I was born and we discover we were both born in October. “Oh!” he says excitedly. “Are you ze…” he moves his hands up and down in attempts to nonverbally convey something he doesn’t know the English word for. I have no idea what he’s talking about. He continues to make ridiculous hand gestures. “You know…it like, weighs things…” he says, laughing.

The stewardess comes back to collect our coffee cups. Abdul rattles off a word in Dutch and asks if she can translate it to English. Stumped, she shouts the word to another stewardess across the plane. Sleeping passengers wake up momentarily to glare at us in confusion. “Balance scale!” the stewardess on the other side of the plane shouts in reply.

“Yes!” proclaims Abdul. “Balance scale!” The stewardess continues on her way down the aisle as Abdul continues to move his hands up and down. “I yaaaam ze balance scale!” he says proudly. “Are youuuu ze balance scale?”

I finally realize he’s attempting to talk about astrological signs. And he was going to sit there and ask me if I was the balance scale (otherwise known as “Libra”) repeatedly until he got a response.
I can’t hold my laughter in any longer. He also starts laughing, and the two of us proceed to have a strange laugh attack that wakes up half of the airplane. Meanwhile, he’s still making those silly balance scale-esque hand gestures. Once I’m able to breathe again, I tell him I’m Scorpio. He gives me a blank look and doesn’t understand what I mean until I turn my hands into scorpion claws and pinch the air.

We keep up this strange dialogue for most of the flight. Soon the Netherlands are below us. The blonde girl next to me wakes up in time to have a small panic attack during the landing. I was proud of myself for not even feeling queasy. Abdul gives the hyperventilating girl a look that seems to say “Wow, you stupid American” as he chews my last stick of gum. Lack of sleep is finally catching up to me. When the plane lands, I stumble down the ramp in a zombie-like state. I mumble an incoherent farewell to Abdul Ze Balance Scale. He smiles, happy to be back in the paradise of Amsterdam.

But I am still far from home. I spend the few Euros I have on overpriced coffee and crash on a bench, dreading the next romp through security sensors. I think about my gargantuan luggage and wonder if my bomb-lamp will make it all the way back to Oregon. Before I know it, I’ve fallen asleep on the bench, coffee in hand. A friend wakes me up in time to catch the next flight.

And so it begins again. I love travelling, but I hate flying.

Lauren of Arabia

I'm Coming Home

This is past-Allison...the Canuck girl who's been away in the UK for a week, but hasn't actually experienced that yet because I'm still in Canada typing this post to be scheduled. So when you read this I will be likely on a bus, plane or taxi coming home from my (hopefully) fabulous holiday in Bath, England.

No one suggested a topic for this week so I'm going to declare this week a free form topic. It's hard for me to write about stuff that will still be talked about in a week's time.

I know this is a week old (when you guys read it) but during my last shift at work, before I left for a week, my co-worker and I did a lot of work - it was raining so we just cleaned the whole store. At the end of the shift she drew a little comic strip about our afternoon:

It was pouring rain, so we cleaned almost EVERYTHING!

Val cleaned out the syrup containers (what we use in hot chocolates and flavoured lattes).

We felt pretty good about our productive day, and then a lady spilled her tea on the floor :(
"I'm going on vacation tomorrow" was my mantra while I mopped it up.

We rewarded ourselves with pizza! Pizza has never tasted so good!
I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I know it's not our Transatlantic Super Squad comics - but still pretty awesome I'd say. I'll leave you with some random photos I found on my computer.

Not sure why I took a photo of myself eating a sandwich.
Crazy two-headed kitty!
Me and my cousin's son.
Probably a photo I took for this blog but never used...until now.

Sorry for this post - I just can't really think about what to write about that will matter in a week's time.

Monday, 2 May 2011

"You Sound Like You're From London"

All packed?

It's 9 a.m. on Monday morning here in Southern Ontario. At 5 p.m. my airport taxi will pick me up and take me to Pearson International Airport where I will board a 8:40 p.m. flight to London, Heathrow. In honour of my trip abroad I suggested the topic of Travel Stories. I feel like Tom (who lived in Italy for a bit) and Lauren (who spent time in Egypt) will have way cooler stories than me - but I will list my most memorable vacations.

• Florida, 1989 - When I was five and my brother was four our parents drove the family to Florida. My mom's cousin was living there at the time, so we were to stay with them for a bit. I don't remember the drive much - but I do know we stopped and picked pecans in Alabama, and we stayed in some motels in the Southern United States. I remember my dad went fishing and caught a pelican. I also remember swimming and sucking on my hair because it tasted salty. We did the whole Disney World thing - which was fun. We also visited JFK Space Center - where I got to try on a space suit.

• England, Scotland & Wales,  2003 - During my last year of high school my family booked a tour of Great Britain. It was the first time I'd ever been on a plane - so I was excited and nervous. The tour was a whirlwind, but I saw so much and fell in love with Edinburgh, Scotland. For a while I considered trying to go do a Masters degree there just so I could live there for a bit. It was an exhausting, but life changing trip. Also, travelling with my family was stressful and staying in a hotel room with my brother was a bit annoying.

• Montreal, Quebec, 2009 - For my 25th birthday I took a trip with one of my best friends - Amanda. We  took the train and arrived in Montreal, took a cab to our hostel (bunk beds with annoying crinkly plastic mattress covers) and got out our maps to plan our trip. Instead of exploring the nightlife of La Belle Province, we basically did a walking tour of the city in the rain. We also sampled all the famous foods - Poutine, Montreal-style bagels, and smoked meat sandwiches with a cherry pop. We saw the John and Yoko exhibit at The Montreal Museum of Fine Art. We walked through the outer section of The Bell Centre (where the Montreal Canadians play). We bought wine at a variety store and weird fake vodka and drank out of plastic cups in our hostel. It was an amazing trip - even though it rained a lot.

• Ottawa, Ontario, 2010 - My cousin (the one I'm visiting in England) got married on January 2 last year. My parents and I drove to Ottawa (with a stop-over in Kingston, Ontario) for the wedding at the Delta hotel. After a beautiful and super fun wedding, we stayed an extra day to see the sites of our nation's capital. We saw parliament, the Canadian National Gallery, The By-ward Market - all in -20 degrees Celsius weather. It was cold, but I'm so happy I went though. My hotel room was amazing! I've never stayed somewhere so nice.

• Belleville, Ontario, 2010 - Last summer I took the train and visited my friend in Belleville. Not exactly an ideal vacation spot, but I was excited to visit my friend and see where she lives. I also rented a car - a first for me. It rained a lot, but we had fun visiting some small towns and looking at knick knacks.

So, I'm not the most travelled person I know - but I feel like I'm pretty good at making the most of my holidays. I mostly spent my childhood years camping and going to my cottage (or grandparent's house). I live pretty close to both Toronto and Niagara Falls - so I have taken many day trips to those places. I actually lived in Toronto when I was in university. I can't wait to come back and tell you guys all about my trip!

Tom & Lauren, I'll read your posts in a week - 'Cause I've got a ticket to ride!

Bonus points to those of you who can tell me the name of the film the title quote comes from.

I'll reply to comments when I return - so don't be shy! Tell me your travel stories!

I Forgot To Watch The Royal Wedding...

I'm so classy

Oh dear.  I almost forgot to write about The Royal Wedding.  I am doing so at this time. 

I have a confession to make:  I forgot to watch The Royal Wedding.

I was up at 4 in the morning and everything.  I was going to try to find a way to stream it online, to jump aboard the bandwagon and celebrate something I have no real association with.  But I got really focused on what I was working on and I just plain forgot.  I'm sorry Kate.  I'm sorry William.  I'm sorry Tom. 

The Royal Wedding wasn't really that huge over here in the states.  A few of my friends posted Facebook statuses about drinking tea and eating crumpets, but that's about it. 

Now, the death of Osama Bin Laden...that's a different story.  I think the entire country knew about it within minutes and it's all people are talking about. 

I found out when I was in a cafe.  I was on the phone and my friend on the other line got a text message with the news.  He shared it with me.  When I got off the phone, I overheard people in the cafe talking about Osama's death. 

And then, of course, somebody put Obama's speech on the TV in the corner.  The rate at which news gets out these days is atonishing. 

But I digress.  Back to William and Kate...I wish you the best.  As long as Prince Harry is still single, I'm cool with the new couple (marrying into a royal family is one of my long term goals).