Mother Russia? Da!

26 08 2008

On September 7th, I leave for my 2week vacation with mother to Russia. St. Petersburg to be exact.

Even though I was born in Russia (well technically it was the Ukraine, but it was all the USSR back then), I really don’t remember anything at all. I was only 6 years old when we immigrated to Canada. It will be like seeing it for the first time, so I’m pretty excited! I still get torn whenever I watch any sporting event – do I cheer for Russia? Ukraine? or Canada? They are all winners in my heart.

Since I will be turning the big 2-4 (OMG, I’m almost in my mid-twenties, *insert heart attack here*) on September 9th when I happen to be in Russia, my mother is taking me to the Russian National Ballet to see Giselle. Growing up doing competitive dance all my life, this is a BIG DEAL!

Back when it was still called “Leningrad” (to be pronounced in a thick Russian accent), my mother attended University here, and still has friends living in the area. School in Russia is very different than it is in North America. While we change our classmates every year when we enter a new grade, the Russians enjoy the comforts of having the same people move from Kindergarten all the way up to highschool. So you can imagine how close you must become with the people you’ve spent your whole childhood with. My mom is pretty excited to show me the places she used to visit and where she studied. It will be good to get an insiders perspective since she can compare it to what it was then to what the places look like now. Also, good to get off the tourist track sometimes.

My mom is also convinced that all we need to bring is 1 carry one luggage each (since we have a layover in Amsterdam she is scared our luggage will get lost). She doesn’t see the need to bring shampoo’s or any other liquids along with us as she thinks we can buy it all there or borrow from friends. While I think this is a tremendous idea in theory – I’m afraid she has grown too accustomed to the North American life, and forgets that there isn’t a 24hour convenient store nearby where we can pick up all necessary things for 2 weeks for a cheap price. Am I wrong to think that my facewash is not readily available in downtown St. Petersburg? (And just to justify the fact about my facewash – I’m a redhead with extremely sensitive skin – trust me, skin products are like my 3rd leg).

Russia here I come!

Q: Any of you have tips on what to see in St. Petersburg? What to watch out for? What to bring? What NOT to bring?





Wave Hello, Say Goodbye

17 08 2008

I really should have written this post earlier. But, I didn’t.

I had my “Goodbye” party with people from work and those in Toronto on August 8th. It was fantastic! (As the following few pictures so nicely dictate). So if any of them are reading this, I want to say “Thanks!”

I don’t even have much to write here either. It started off with my two friends and I heading over to the mall to get our make-up done. This is a BIG deal for someone like me who hardly ever wears make up! (I’m a bit of a bum). However, it looked fantastic and it forced me to buy some overly priced eye stuff that I will probably wear 5 times and forget about.

We then headed back home to get ready, and were given the task of picking up ice for the party on the way. Seems like no big deal right? WRONG! Apparently there are NO convenient stores from the subway station to my friends house that sell ice. Are we in Canada?!?! Bogus! The crisis was averted when Luke walked a bit further out of our way to pick some up.

Then the pre-drink began. Oh boy. Then came the challenging task of trying to rally around 20 some odd people to the bar. NOT an easy feat by any means.  Again, crisis averted when my friend Jeff (bless his drunken heart) turned off the lights and shouted “Everybody get your shoes on, we’re going ouuuut!”

The bar was packed – which is status quo for a Friday night in Toronto. The drinks just kept coming my way. I knew I was in trouble. Then the shots started. I don’t remember when we left, nor do I really remember how we got home. A great way to say goodbye to Toronto! (Thankfully there was no karaoke – ahem Geoff, I’m pointing at you!)

In the meantime, enjoy these photos! (I had to sort through and pick out the tamest ones)

Me and my cubicle buds - Adam, James, Jeff

Me and my cubicle buds - Adam, James, Jeff

My hair must smell really good?

My hair must smell really good?

Allen and Greg - I must have just said something very interesting

Allen and Greg - I must have just said something very interesting

Much love for Brenda - we used her Condo for the party

Much love for Brenda - we used her Condo for the party

Jacqueline and I dancing up a storm

Jacqueline and I dancing up a storm

We tried to see how many people we could shove in 1 elevator - we filled up 2 of these.

We tried to see how many people we could shove in 1 elevator - we filled up 2 of these.





Top 5 Things To Do In Dundas, Ontario

13 08 2008

In a population of 20,000, where half of the land is farmland, and everyone knows everyone else on a first name basis, it becomes unusually difficult to find something exciting to do. So, I went on a hunt. I figured I’m going to be here for ~4months, so I may as well make the most of it. In Toronto there was constantly something new going on, always a festival of some sort – you never really had to go and seek fun out by yourself, it would usually find you. In Dundas, this is not the case.

Here are some of the “fun” things that I could possibly do while living in Dundas:

  1. Go Skydiving
  • How could I not have thought of this before? Just over the highway we have a skydiving school! Swoop is it’s name. I have always wanted to go skydiving. I even came really close to it one time for my 22nd birthday – but then I chickened out. I haven’t even signed up for it, but just sitting here writing about it is actually making me nervous. Could it be any worse than dropping your whole life and moving to England? About on par I’d say. I’m in.

2. Hike the Dundas Valley Trails

  • As much as I hate on Dundas all the time, I must admit; it is beautiful. The escarpment is pretty much right in my back yard and there are a million hiking and cycling trails all throughout the town. After falling off my bike and injuring myself pretty badly one year (I also developed an allergy to band aids after my fall – go figure), I’ve been kind of cautious to go biking through the same rough trails. Again, could it be any worse than dropping your whole life and moving to England? I’m in.

3. Dundas Cactus Festival

  • Although this is something you can only do once a year, I am lucky that I am going to be in town when this festival is going on. 2 weeks from now, “downtown” Dundas will be transformed into a major carnival with rides, games, buskers, trinket sellers and all the beaver tails you could possibly inhale. The Cactus is the official symbol of Dundas – why you ask? I have no idea, since I have never even seen said cactus in Dundas. Cactus Fest is really a big high school reunion for me – it will be great to see old friends at the one local bar (where we will mostly likely than not all pack in like sardines and drink like the fish we are), and which coincidently is named “The Thirsty Cactus.” I’m in.

4. Golf

  • To be honest, I’m not a golfer. I would be lying if I said I was even a mini putter. I have absolutely no patience for this sport. (Is it a sport?) I end up getting so frustrated, that I resort to my humble European upbringing and end up kicking the golf ball, soccer-style, into the hole. With that said, Dundas actually has some ridiculously nice golf courses. One being right in my backyard. When I was younger, I used to hop the fence and steal the golf balls people would leave behind. So, instead of playing golf, I plan on going back to my childhood roots, gathering up some of my old “peeps” (perhaps I can scout them out at the Cactus Fest), and hop this fence once again. Sweet! I’m in.

5. Carnegie Gallery

  • Hmmm. I have not once stepped foot in this beautiful Gallery. Of this, I am ashamed. I have driven past it many times, wondering what was inside, never daring to actually go in. I always felt a little out of place in these types of settings. I had a hard time imaging myself as an “art connoisseur.” I think I’ve become a lot of things that I never thought I was, or never thought I’d become. I think it’s about time to step inside and take a look. I’m in.




Going Backwards

11 08 2008

I’m officially 16 years old again.

I’m not even sure how to entirely write this post to convey exactly what it is that I’m feeling.

I am officially moved back into my folks place and am working at the movie store I worked in all through school. I have graduated University with an Honours degree in Commerce, I have had a well paying corporate job in downtown Toronto, I had what any person would consider “the life.” Now, I stand behind that counter of the movie store as I see my old highschool teachers walking in with their children asking me for movie recommendations. I feel compelled to give them my whole background of why I’m working here, and am not out curing cancer:

“Hello Mrs. X! Igraduatedfromuniversity,thenImovedtoTorontoandworkedforamultimilliondollarcorporation,thenImmovingto *deep breath * England, am justworkinghereparttimeuntilIgetallmyducksinarow, and,oh,no,I’mnotafailure” Yes, good to see you too, Mrs. X!”

It’s as though I’ve gone backwards through time. The people who started working there after me, are now my managers, and are also a great deal younger than I am.

The words to explain this feeling are escaping me right now…as is my pride.





Motorcycle Through The Country

5 08 2008

I wish I had taken a camera. Although it proves quite difficult to hold when you are on the back of a motorcycle.

Geoff had commented on one of my posts once that even though it is wonderful to love travel and explore new things, it is equally as important to love your own country and go out and explore your home town. Nothing rang more true when I went on a 3.5 hour motorcycle ride through the beautiful back country roads here in my beloved country, Canada.

I had never been on a motorcycle prior to this ride, and to be honest – I was a bit scared at first. You can really feel every bump and every turn. My hands were red from holding on so tight. I didn’t dare turn my head or move in case that threw me off balance and I was thrown from the bike. However, when you’re surrounded by such gorgeous scenery and breathtaking views, you can’t help but want to turn your head and stare for just one second longer. So little by little, I started to let go. First one hand grabbed the back of the bike instead of the tight grip around the driver. Slowly, the other hand followed. Second, I started leaning back so I can truly see everything around me. By, the end no hands were needed and I could bask in the vast beauty that is Canada. My friend started sensing my becoming more comfortable and the turns became tighter, the bike drove faster and we were flying.

Much like this motorcycle ride, the move to London is going to seem scary and overwhelming at first, but slowly and surely I can see myself letting go one finger at a time.

I see a Vespa in my future.





And So It Begins

3 08 2008

I’M FREE!

If you had been walking down Yonge & Eglinton on July 31, 2008, you would’ve heard me shout that repeatedly on my way home after my last day as a corporate pleb. On the outside I was thrilled, but on the inside I felt mixed emotions. Even though I would have rather gnawed my own arm off and beat myself with it than stay at that job one day longer, I will miss the people that I have made such close connections with. I will miss the morning coffee walks, I will miss my softball team (although I really wasn’t good enough for them to miss me), I will miss the after work socials and I will miss being able to walk to work.

Maybe I needed this in order to realize that the business world is not for me. Maybe I will need this trip in order to realize that maybe it really is. I have no idea what the next few years in my life have in store and that makes me excited! There are no more plans, no more set expectations, no more guidelines on how to live your life! Does being this independent mean I am truly a grown up now? Or does that mean that I’ve actually never grown up and am still living in the mindset of an 18 year old? Either way, it doesn’t matter. The beige walls of the 3 paneled cubicle are no longer closing in around me, and I am no longer finding myself being put to sleep by the eerie buzz of my computer screen.

There is one thing, however, that I am finding the most difficult to part with. LACK OF FUNDS! That magical paycheck that appeared in my bank account every 2 weeks is no longer in existence. I find that I now have to consciously think about that extra non-fat vanilla latte, that movie that I don’t necessarily have to see and those jeans that I already have enough of.

I have officially closed one chapter in my life to start another. However, before I can do that, the reality of moving back into my childhood home still needs to settle. Being in Dundas this past weekend, and waking up on my single bed in my tiny room felt like a nightmare. There are perks however – breakfast in the mornings via mother, access to a vehicle at all times and not having to rely on the Toronto Transit System, knowing almost every single person in town and CABLE! (A luxury when you’re living in downtown Toronto).

August 10th, 2008 – my official move date back to Dundas, Ontario. I have yet to start packing. It’s amazing the amount of things you can fit in a 600 sq. foot apartment. It’s amazing the amount of things you didn’t even know you had in a 600 sq. foot apartment! Everyday a new drawer of some sort is opened to reveal something new. It’s like your birthday everyday! Except most of these things are completely useless, however, you still feel a need to hang on to them regardless of the fact that you forgot they even existed over this past year.

So freedom is just around the corner. I just have to dig my out of my apartment to get there first.