news [archive 34]


11.02.2008: my apologies for not telling you in advance, it was organised all last minute, but we spent the weekend in toronto.

i was looking forward to a relaxing warm weekend and had dressed suitably. but far from appropriately. toronto had been hit by a snow storm the day before and i was considerably ill-equipped with my trainers and thin trousers. and it's easy to forget how windy it can be in the city, and how that wind whips up from across the lake and pulls the warmth straight from your body. but apart from me having wet feet and numb legs all weekend, it was brilliant.

so we shopped and ate and drank and all those other things toronto is good for. i replenished my comic book supply and bought a few books i can't get anywhere else. we ate some posh breakfasts (fantastic breakfasts) and generally felt sickeningly bourgeoise. art buying, and the like. i also did some laptop shopping (say hello). but more on that another day, hopefully one where i feel better about the whole stupid business.

on friday afternoon we hit up the GSU, just like the good old days, with all the usuals already there and playing pool and blah blah blah. i'd almost not noticed how it'd been over a month since i'd last been in a bar. now i miss them again. it was the same sitting in the future cafe late on sunday morning, for the last time ever and not eating cake. later friday night, after a huge vege feast, we found ourselves at a very minor house party, arriving just as everyone was getting the munchies.

and then even later, whilst trying to find the spare key behind the house we were staying at, we were suddenly struck by how light it was. it was 1am and everything was doused in an orangey pink. you could see perfectly. up north, away from the city, after 6pm everything is pitch black. light pollution approaches zero. and it wasn't just the night. the days had beautiful colours too. faint purple skys fading into yellow. the whole scene pops fantastic. and no one seems to care.

returning home the weather was some of the worst i've been driven through. being eaten up by the storm, wind rushing against and through the car, the oncoming traffic appearing out from clouds of snow not many meters up the road. everything being buried in white. all very dramatic. and then sitting in silence with all the windows frosted up, soft light diffusing in from the carpark spotlights, our engine refusing to start. and there's nothing to see outside but white noise.

but being back amongst all those people didn't seem weird until we got back. i was sitting down in our apartment and suddenly felt very removed. maybe the word is 'lonely'. or maybe it was just the modest mouse song that was playing on the radio. either way i can count the number of people i see on a regular basis up here on one hand. there's none of that noise you get when thousands of strangers walk by you every day.




07.02.2008: you can currently see a selection of my photos (none new) being used for wondercafe's social awareness month (sorry for the clumsy link, but that's the fault of frames, not me). it is all very exciting, and i'm particularly happy about that first photo, the one of the ungdomshuset cyclists. it makes me feel professional. and it's slightly ironic too, since their website is part of the united church of canada. but that's ok. also the anarchist graffiti accompanying a political article about voting. i subvert at you.

and other important details, i will be kicking out of here sometime soon and arriving back in england on the 27th of febuary 2008. i will be around for an undisclosed number of weeks, one of which will be spent in the london and brighton area, before fleeing the country again. so be prepared, get excited, and please let me know if i can stay at your place. it will be very nice to see you.

i'd made it through all the complicated stages of changing my flight (the departure date and location - i'm now flying from montreal) before the guy asked me for the expiry date on my card and i noticed it had passed. i'm not sure how i let this happen, being stuck in another country without any valid ID, a passport or bank card. i'm lucky that my current situation requires no money. infact, i haven't carried any money on my person since the very start of january. it's very liberating. and convenient too, since i can't access any of my bank accounts.

if anyone is keeping count, that was just another night of no sleep. and if you're not counting and want to join in, we're currently on three.




06.02.2008: i slept badly. in a dehydrated whiskey haze that took me along the path of too many thoughts i wanted no participation in. it was an ugly nights sleep. i hated it. now i'm listening to raised fist with tears in my eyes from the freezing wind and drinking coffee that's suitably bitter. coffee so bad it's going to make my piss smell outrageous.

we'd had a lovely evening, dining with our captors. they were so welcoming it made me feel the problem's my own. but everyone has said this, that as hosts they are fantastic and as bosses they are abhorrent. but of course, we are all out to have a good time, even if it means feeling somewhat deceitful - i'd just changed my flight out of here not fifteen minutes earlier (there is scheming afoot, but more on that another time). it's been so long since we've eaten posh food, it was quite the treat. cheese all melted and gooey, fifteen year old whiskey by the open fire. a big curled up wolf/dog, that insisted on playing footsie with me under the table whilst i was trying to concentrate on eating and holding sensible conversation.

and someone has left a post-it note beside this computer scrawled with their ebay, paypal and amazon login details. if only i wasn't such a nice guy i'd let you have them too.

the remainder of yesterday wasn't so fun. i was in the kitchen when we got hit pretty hard. we had a full house and only three staff, one taking orders and drinks, one cooking and me working the prep counter whilst countless undecipherable orders came in, with no one having time to tell me what to do. remember that time in school when you had that exam and didn't understand any of the questions and sat there for two hours panicking and doing nothing, your nerves getting worse by the minute? it felt like that, teenage angst boiling in the pit of my something-or-other. but in the end it was ok. and my 'boss', who i really like, bought me a 24 crate of beer.

yesterday was a good day for free stuff. now i'm suffering for it.

not really suffering that much.




04.02.2008: things i've learnt this week include how soup can look like a bosch painting (or at least a doom wall texture-map), just add prime rib. bleck. and i've learnt that oil at 200c only hurts briefly as it hits your skin. i presume that's the feeling of your nerves dying. and also something about snorting horse medicine, but i forget what now. maybe it smelling of lemon candy, some smell that conjours vapour like memories from a long time ago.

mostly when i talk people don't really listen to what i say. or they don't understand and have realised it's easier to just ignore me. i don't know. but whilst it means i can talk graphically disturbing maths and biology, i'm all good.

what have we been up to? reasonably little. yesterday we went skiing and found an awesome trail through the forest. sure we met up with some dog sledders and snowmobilers along the way, but it was mostly just us and the snow. and fuck anyone who wants to complain. also i'm actually not bad at skiing. this is pretty much fact.

we've finally managed to borrow a bunch of dvds, so we've been making maximum usuage of our own personal theatre. i say theatre, it's got a sloped floor and could fit maybe fifty people or more. it's also a bit like sitting in church, or what i imagine that might be like based on the pews they used to have in the ferkin in rugby. we started with 'teen wolf', followed by 'i robot' and then 'batman begins' last night. the robot film raised some interesting ideas. no wait, i think i meant razed. any potential for intrique was thoroughly quashed by the holywood dumbing down machine. no big loss. i did like the idea of applying a vollman style moral calculus to the three laws of robotics, but the film is still stupid.

and wow, terry gilliam really does have the worst luck.

and we caught our first mouse. not with my extremely high-tech bucket trap, which utilises a coathanger to minimise friction and enable precision tweaking of the distance between ramp and bottle, but with a live trap lent to us. so much for all those design technology lessons. my trap even resets itself by having peanut butter smeared all the way around the bottle.

i'll catch one of them with it yet.




01.02.2008: driving into town to buy groceries, during a quiet moment i suddenly get the urge to ask what everyone's favourite dinosaur is. all i get is a quick knowing laugh from the seat behind me, and no one else really gets my meaning. we should know the other interns better, especially since we need to rely on them for shopping and laundry (fat chance of that), and everyone loves dinosaurs right? well apparently not. and just to piss off those people who don't:





the ROM is so badly lit for photography you would barely believe it. i normally like taking photos in museums, but that place.. i don't know

oh hey look, it's febuary. i guess that means i need to start working out what i'm doing. i can barely be bothered. everything has too many hurdles. moan complain, etc.




31.01.2008: i'm feeling uninspired today, so i hope you wont be offended by a simple annotated list of the various happenings in my week. i say this like it's not what and how i always write. like somehow i'm normally better at writing stuff. but nevermind.

but then i have to actually think about all the things i might have done and whether i told anyone about them already. like snow-shoeing into the middle of a lake and lying down for not long enough amongst all that flat snow and ice, then getting scared when we walked back because the snow looked funny and the ice was getting slushy.

and yesterday i went out to help with the horse logging. for me it was primarily a welcome change to the office, but now i understand why she comes home so tired some days, the horses can be total fuckers. yesterday was also the day she started learning how to fell trees, so i got to watch (and take very nervous photos) of her cutting down her first couple of trees. which to be honest, i'd just rather not see. i don't like chainsaws, and i don't like my girlfriend using them. but then it could be worse, i could have a normal or boring girlfriend.

i cringe everytime i hear someone sending urgent messages over the intercom.

then i went out tree marking. this would be seen as good experience for learning about sustainable forestry and the characteristics of local trees, and i was paying attention and soaking up as much knowledge as possible, but i mostly saw it as practice with a spray can. there are a number of trees in a certain block of this forest with smiley faces and anarchy symbols emblazoned across their trunks in flourescent blue, albeit slightly disguised as "wildlife refuge" marks. take back the forest.

although next time i go out i want snow shoes. it was like running an assault course. i felt like i was on krypton factor.

and i've been through many developments in mouse traps, slowly changing and trying to improve the bucket trap we've set up in our kitchen. it hasn't caught a single mouse yet. yesterday i discovered one had nibbled a hole in my army sweater (yes, we didn't head the warnings that they would chew through everything, but what are we supposed to do?), so this morning i filled the bucket with water. it's not like they're falling in anyway. peanut butter on a can on a stick didn't work, even with its fine tuning. nor did peanut butter around the rim. then we tried using a plastic jar with the bottom cut out, but it's too heavy to spin. so i placed a toilet roll tube inside and filled it with crumpled paper to make it centered, but then it was heavy. that's when i figured i'd the mechanics weren't working and i coated the thing in slippy oil. mice vs lube?

i don't like the water thing though. i think standard traps are better because they kill the mice instantly. i can't believe i'm even thinking any of this is ok. i think i may have to empty the bucket when i get home. i'd like to think that you'd understand if you also had such a mouse problem. we got out for any length of time and mice shit appears on the kitchen surface. we see them around every day. one crawled over my head the other night when i was sleeping. they smell funny. they constantly fuck with me.

we still haven't worked out a way to do laundry, and i'm still crap at hand washing.




28.01.2008: the morning makes up for most everything. with the sun rising through the trees in the colour of awesome. bloodshot orange. a clear pale blue sky and so many pine trees covered in snow. a half-moon lingering from the night before. horses running amok in the distance.

and i can't believe it took me twenty six years to realise you could see snowflakes with the naked eye. those magnified images, they're real. they're every where you look, and you only have to look properly. what a waste of twenty six years. my favourite is number 33,000,541.

and i can't believe i cut the tip of my finger on a block of tofu. stings like a mother fucker. and incase you're wondering, it was frozen.

and three photos left over from toronto:



unfortunately i lost the best photos of the chess pieces when tea was spilt on my computer (mid-transfer). and the black king had fallen off too, he was in the square next to the white king (read as much into that as you want). i spent half the year wanting to glue pieces to that stupid sign, and two nights before we left was my last chance. and i froze my finger off doing it as well.

the photo of our bikes makes me really miss our apartment. and critical mass too. the last photo doesn't, we have enough of that snow crap here.

dinosaurs soon.




27.01.2008: i complain about the management, but so far they've been perfectly nice to us in person. and of course they would be, we work for free and if they can keep us sweet with minimal effort they will. they know if they give us shit we wont take it. every disagreement we've had to date has been dealt with through someone else. i've kept it this way because as soon as i try to negotiate hours and they resist i wont be enjoying my time here anymore. i'll resent them and i'll just leave.

but anyway, they phoned us the other day and asked if we wanted to go dog sledding. now, we're able to do this anyway, as long as we don't get in the way of paying customers, but we hadn't got around to it and so it was nice of them to offer. sure the only reason they asked was because the dogs needed to be run and there was only one person going out on that tour, a woman who had come all the way up from calafornia for it, but nevermind that. free labour isn't labour when it's not laborious.

so we each had a sled, with four dogs a-piece. my dogs were called felix, pheonix, theodore and sun, who was later swapped for tom due to a disagreement between someone else's dogs. here are some of the dogs:



the tour was to last three hours, and we hadn't been out fifteen minutes before i crashed. but at least i didn't let go of the sled. holding on was the one thing rob had told me to do when i asked about crashing, because i knew i would. for some reason i don't feel comfortable with something until i know its limits. it was probably the dogs' fault anyway. stupid tree, etc.



the best thing about dog sledding, apart from the experience of being pulled around by a pack of huskies, something that feels quite pure and with a mutual benefit (the dogs love it, but more on their welfare later), is that we get to see more of the forest without having to jump on a snowmobile. the route we took was beautiful, straight across macdonald lake, then up through some woody hills before descending again to another lake and following the path of a river to a third lake, where we followed the shore line before arcing around and cutting back straight across the frozen lake's middle.





when we returned we went to check out the kennels and help with the feeding. there was no obligation, but i thought it'd be a fun experience, and it was. except now i keep smelling dog all the time and can't work out where it's coming from.



the dogs are seperated into male and female and generally kept in pens in pairs or triplets. they go mental jumping around in anticipation when you approach, and then either continue going mental or cower in the corner once you enter. there's 135 of them, although the exact number seems to change depending on who you ask. rocky was also there, wandering around without a leash, which disturbed me for a little while. he was mostly just annoying, trying to eat everyone else's food. he always backed off when i glared at him. still, he's not an animal i'd fuck with. i was happy whilst i had the ability to jump in a cage and get away from him. the other dogs didn't bother me, which is good considering i've always hated dogs. i still don't like them much, but these are really well behaved, and it felt good having some kind of control over them. although i think what i mean is control over my feelings of them.



but anyway, i disagree with keeping dogs like this, but they are cared for by dedicated staff and are treated well. out of the hundred and thirty odd dogs, only ninety of them can run. the rest of them (older, weaker, etc) are kept at great expense because the only other option for them is being put down, and that i disagree with more. also the dogs love their work. i guess it's hard to tell if they'd prefer running completely free, but that's not exactly an option either. and this gets back to that horrible philosophical debate about the quality of animals lives. so forget it.

it's a dog (personal in-joke).




25.01.2008: this is the little arrangement i left out for the mice;



and this is it the following morning;



which is exactly what i expected.

i thought ha, i burnt you, you little fuckers. and i thought that was that.

but then, what do i really know about mice? earlier this evening i was rummaging around looking for my courtesy balaclava, which had been missing for a few days, when deep inside one of my bags, one that's stored in the spare room and only contains a few random items, i found a cheerio. not a big deal, but then i found another one, followed by two raisins.

it's not the kind of thing that makes sense. because it just doesn't. why would they transport the tabasco covered food all the way across the apartment and drag it into my bag? i checked them, comparing with the cheerios and raisins in the photos, and they're the same ones. the mice are obviously trying to fuck with me back. and i'm not going to stand for it.

even as i write this now i can hear them scritching behind the sofa. conspiring against me.

this is tonight's experiment:



because the only thing we know about mice, apart from that they hoard food, is apparently they don't like cloves.

and it went really well too:



now i need to systematically find and destroy all their bases.




24.01.2008: it really is too cold to sit in a basement and do data entry. i can barely type this, nevermind hacking away at the numeric keypad. i got two fan heaters going and it's still not enough. it's -15c outside, 14c upstairs, and i have no idea what down here. plus no one upstairs has put any coffee on. i think they just don't like me. i went up a minute ago and asked if i could use any of the computers up there, knowing full well that there's at least one that isn't in use, but all i got was "why? doesn't the one in the basement work?". well yeah, but it's in the fucking basement. you try working in a basement all alone for eight pissing hours. doing data entry, of all the assholes things. tomorrow i'm bringing in whiskey to spike my coffee with, no lie. and a book.

the point at which i might try and be reasonable about what i write about this place has long gone. i don't care. what would they do if they read it? at worst some of the people i like might be offended. at best someone might apologise.

the real reason they shouldn't let me use the computers upstairs is because they don't encrypt their data, and i'm the kind of person who would take advantage of such a thing. it's quite simple, if you're not paying for my discretion, i cannot be trusted.

i'm quite the asshole this morning.

but then i did have to sit through a painful twenty minute morning meeting, where people say they did a brilliant job yesterday and then get told they didn't. we all know they just ride around on their snowmobiles all day anyway, why do they bother hiding it? and if i made the kitchen sound redneck-esque, well this is in a different league all together. i can't understand half the shit these guys come out with. and even worse, this morning one guy was sitting there was his flies hanging wide open. he's a huge ball of a guy rocking back in his chair, barely fitting into it, with his leg spread wide. pants hanging out. he reminds me of jabba the hut, but older looking, no lie. makes me want to vomit.

we're also having to deal with a full on mouse assault. those little bastards get everywhere and eat everything. i wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't for our building being so badly built and maintained. someone somewhere clearly doesn't give a shit about trying to stop the mice getting in. i set up a little test last night. on our kitchen surface i placed two cheerios (a bag of which was donated to us when we had no food) and two raisins, then smeared a thick ring of tabasco sauce around them. i was under no delusion that this would stop the mice, i just wanted to fuck with them a little, y'know.

and do you think maybe there should be fire alarms in our building? isn't it a legal requirement of all residences?




23.01.2008: my time can be broken down into a small number of simple categories (which would make a beautiful venn diagram if "mischieve" was thrown into the mix). the three top categories are work, sleep, and time wasting, with work splitting conveniently into two - the office and the kitchen. and it's the kitchen that's responsible for the small amount of bearability in my forty hour 'work' week.

the names of some of the girls i work with are diane, tracy, charlene, sindy, brenda, kathy and michelle. these names tell you more about them than i ever could. and more than you really need to know. they are everything you'd imagine from small-town middle-of-nowhere, bordering redneck country.

it's easy to make fun, but if it wasn't for them being so cool to work with i would've had to leave this joke of an internship long ago. they're very accepting and encouraging, even when i make chicken burgers ("chk burger") instead of cheese burgers ("ch burger") or miss a "x2" beside an order. they're great for gossip too, because little all happens round these parts. infact, it's been a long time since i've worked in such a socially entertaining environment.

and it's funny, not really funny at all, because in the last week two of them have been to hospital. turns out one had developed ulcers and the other, without knowing it and still coming into work, had suffered a "frikkin heart attack". and she's in her mid-thirties. is this what working in a greasy (or "greesey" as i've seen it written in the office) kitchen does to you? one of the girls told me "no, it's what dealing with the forest management does to you". it makes you wonder.

all of the above paragraph is really none of our business, i'm just trying to set the scene.

as for the job, the biggest perk is being able to cook and eat whatever i want. the girls get $2.50 taken out of their wages per shift, to cover whatever food they eat (which of course it doesn't), but since i'm not actually paid it's all completely free. and you know how much i like free food. so you'll catch me trying one of everything we have. sometimes two or three. for instance, maybe i need to practice making waffles again, or vege wraps? what's this new thing on the menu? under such circumstances you have to watch yourself. after a couple of weeks i no longer nibble at the fries. most of this crap comes straight out of the fryer or off the grill, which i'm becoming reasonably proficient at. burger flipping or dying, yo.

but yeah, we don't really cook that much, but i'm learning plenty of kitchen skills. for instance, how do you check a soup is hot before it goes out to the customer? why, you just stick your finger in it. and how do you save time when making a salad? just don't bother washing it. and also useful tricks, like how to steam things on a grill using a squirt of water and a saucepan lid. and how to easily chop various vegetables. how to blanche fries. how to find mouse shit in a bag of froot loops (the girls didn't understand how i could still try them, that the mouse crap couldn't make them any less appealing, and that i'd already transcended all levels of disgust and crossed all mental barriers required to have the bowl to begin with. the mice made no difference).

the girls also found my waffle with cheese and beans disgusting, but whatever. there were only a couple of them around at the time, but within the week they'd all heard about it.

obviously i have to handle a lot of meat, but it hasn't been a problem. i've never been squeamish or disgusted by meat, i just strongly disagree with it. so i can cook you meat (not in my kitchen) but i will never love you. the biggest difficulty for me is knowing when it's cooked properly, since i've never eaten it. the other difficulty is not adding my own enzymes.

although, i was particularly proud of the last two breakfast specials i did. a special consists of bacon or sausage, two eggs, homefries and toast. this order had one with eggs over easy and one with eggs over well done. i grilled them perfectly. i wanted to take the order out myself and show the customers their pristine eggs, to make sure they noticed the difference. to make sure they appreciated it.

anyway, that's the kitchen. and it's about as unsuccinct as i can get it, which you know is a lie. more later.




22.01.2008: time has finally become untethered. i couldn't tell you where we are in the week. at its worst, and given it was dark, i couldn't even tell you if it was morning or night. someone told me earlier it was too early. actually it wasn't going to be too early until an hour later. at that time it was just really really late. i don't know. i'd finished work at half eight and been back at six thirty (by choice). i'd slept or something inbetween. like i said, i don't know.

the difference being the morning is dark and foggy with snow glittering in the air like shards of glass, whilst the night is dark and clear with a distinct and gigantic fuzzy ring around the moon. a ring with a diameter maybe ten times larger than that of the moon's. you'd think it was a cloud if only it wasn't so perfectly circular. i've never seen anything like it before. a fucking moonbow. it was stunning like that pink rainbow at glastonbury, the one that appeared at sunrise after a night drinking whiskey up at that locker station. but only one of you will remember that beautiful scene.

it's the full moon tonight, so bright it almost hurts to look at it. and casting shadows as distinct as any cut out of sunlight. the atmosphere outside is amazing. the silence is absolute and all consuming and the cold numbs you completely. like sensory deprivation, so that nothing even seems real.

i just wish my fingers didn't smell of garlic and hp sauce. at least i got the pig smell out. and it's better than pastrami and bologna. trotters, assholes, gums and other assorted and unspecified animal parts. it actually lists the main ingredient as "beef and/or pork". they don't even fucking know.

but i learnt a new trick in the kitchen - pouring mike's hard lemonade into empty cans of 7up. it smells the same and almost tastes the same. or wine spritzers, even better as that wont show up on a stock take. i drank mine a little too quickly though, when the boss suddenly appeared. i'll tell you about the kitchen soon, it can be a lot of fun.

two nights ago i dreamt i was cooking the new batch of beavers for cuban guerrillas, but it was complicated because half of them were vegetarian (back in the real world, the guy who delivered the many wheelbarrows of beavers left a frozen beaver tail lying in the snow by our door - anyone want some beaver tail soup?). then last night i dreamt i was at a demonstration when a massive gun battle broke out. i watched hiding behind a corner, a mass of activists in the middle of the street openly firing machine guns upon the police standing equally exposed but just out of view, and who were also returning fire. people everywhere getting cut up and shot to pieces, bullets making rags of their hoodies and jackets, but a lot of them still standing their ground, faces covered and caps lowered. i couldn't believe the protest had come to this, and that no one was making better use of the available cover. the desperation was terrifying, but i presumed whatever bloc was responsible must have known what they were doing. they sure had their poses practiced. hoodies and tank tops flying everywhere. holes in everything. my dreams are so stupid. and based on them you can probably guess what book i'm reading.




20.01.2008: we have brilliant blue skies. and pierced by the full moon, hanging always perfect between the trees whatever time of the day you care to look for it. we have temperatures that freeze the snot in your nose and freeze your eyelashes together. if the minus isn't in double figures i no longer think it's all that cold (today it's been floating around minus eighteen, it could be colder). we have blood splattered all over the snow outside our front door, from when a fresh roadkill deer was bought in for the wolves. and a nice pool of blood at the end of the corridor. we have fun like this. julie even got to feed the wolves a beaver today. i got to feed a mass of snowmobilers, the only thing that ruins the otherwise perfect landscape. because wherever you go you can't escape the roar of stupid snowmobiles dashing around the forest at 50kmph.

but the odd moment when everything does settles down, and all you can hear is the creak of the trees, and the sun turns the edges of everything yellow, those are magical. i could just sit on my log and watch the snow melt for hours. nothing but the trees and the hugeness of the forest.

our weekend was all full of decadence. wine and chocolate cake in the bath. watching predator in our own private movie theather. a sunday roast. drinking whiskey in bed. snow shoeing between snowmobile trails. and dog sled trails. watching the wolves play-fight. having people over for curry and them having third helpings (hungry loggers). dealing with rampaging horses (yeah, not so decandent, but playing with seven huge work horses is). listening to 'a perfect circle' after having nothing but a radio stuck on moose "classic rock" fm for two weeks.

and i've been sent my new passport, so anyone who was worried about that can stop their worrying. all is well and i will not be stuck here forever.

last night i dreamt it was my last day of school. again. i spent it hanging out with a girl who probably none of you know (and at most one) and who didn't even go to my school anyway. it seems like a huge thing, never having to go to school again, but i can't remember what i even did that day. i can remember my last day of a-level exams, having just finished my computing exam, walking down the hill with ben and martin towards brownsover. it was a gorgeous sunny day and i was wearing a short sleeve white PWEI t-shirt. we hung out at the park talking so much rubbish. i miss those days dearly. we were completly free, and the changes ahead of us were so massive. rather as large as we wanted them. and everything seemed so crucial but really nothing mattered. i guess nothing has particularly changed.

but that last day, the only scene i can remember is ben and david crossing the road and someone driving by (in my mind it's a red car) playing some stuid song and david said it was like the music over the end credits. that's it, and i wasn't even there. where was i? where were you? did we skip school? and if not why not? maybe we hung out, i don't know. but it seems so horribly final in my memory, no thanks to my dream. and i feel like i need to resolve this somehow.

i guess maybe i'm just missing my stupid friends. that'll help though too, calling them stupid.

what did we even do all summer? that was the year of the eclipse in cornwall. and i'll wager it was the glastonbury mogwai played out sunday night and it was the greatest gig of all time, no fucking contest. and that depressing bus ride out of the festival site. it must have been the best summer ever. what did we all do? answers in an email please. and that's not optional.

and damn me for not always having a website and writing this important shit down.




18.01.2008: last night i was woken up by a mouse running across the top of my head, which isn't the best introduction to the specifics of where we live, but nevermind.

geographically speaking we're living here.

this is our 'front' door:



these are our rooms:



and these are views from our window:



this is also a view from our window:



but more of those photos another time.

this is what my morning walk looks like:





any further questions?




16.01.2008: my computer is on its way out. i'd written it off two years ago when the screen packed in, but it turned out it was just the backlight and it could be fixed with a new circuit board (cheap from ebay etc). the battery had died too, so it only works when plugged in, but that's manageable. more recently the keyboard took a hit and i've been restoring factory settings every few days. something is very wrong with my pool cooler (no i don't really mean that), and it'll only boot up in safe mode. i just can't work out what's causing it. the first time was right after i changed all the stupid visual settings, removing all that fading, sliding, transparency, highlighting crap. but it makes no sense that could be the problem.

any advice? i don't want to chuck it but i might have to. then i need to decide whether i should buy a new computer or live without one (i.e. live off other people's). any recommendations for a new laptop? it needs to be cheap but sturdy, ideal for travelling etc. i have no interest in processor speed or the amount of ram. i don't want fancy graphics cards. all i use it for is interneting, programming, writing and photos. i use very basic programs. my current computer is from 2000 and it does the job just fine. or used to at least. cheers.

yeah, sorry for being so boring. but getting a new computer is a rather pressing matter. especially if i can get one cheaper whilst in canada.

everything else is cool. the wolves are still howling and the dogs still sound like stadium violence every morning when i open the door. damn huskies. work is starting to get dull and i'm about ready to start complaining. i'll see how i feel after the 'weekend' (i have no idea what day it is). maybe tomorrow i'll put up some photos of our place to give you an idea of where we actually are. that will be nice.

oh, and go read 'what is the what' by dave eggers. i finished it the other evening and it's remarkable. both wrenching and beautiful. i'd even go as far to say it was the best book of last year. but then i didn't read many books published last year. but then, whatever. achak's actual story aside (fleeing his sudanese village when he was seven and ending up in america over a decade later), what i find incredible is how dave eggers has been able to tell it in the first person with such insight and clarity. how can you adequatley comprehend such a struggle so as to be able to tell it convincingly in the subject's own voice? as a constant stream of conciousness? it's a 500 page testament to our potential for empathy, and also our collective lack of it.




15.01.2008: i'm missing some context here. it's all good me moaning about my situation, but i haven't really explained how or why i got into it. basically it all comes down to snow and love. garnished with me losing my passport (yes, and julie's).

so julie (yum, there's deer blood smeared all down this data sheet) had the fantastic opportunity to come up here and do a horse logging internship for four months. originally i was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, as it was scheduled to start in may and i didn't want to stay in canada that long (also can't) and wanted to spent the summer in europe. however, their intern due to start in january pulled out and julie took their place. the whole thing fitted much better into my plans.

so we asked if i could come up too, saying that i'd be willing to help out around base camp to cover rent and bills etc. at first they weren't sure about what i could do, and were a bit vague and awkward about it. i thought it'd be a matter of me working maybe 20 hours a week maximum, which at minimum wage is still a lot of rent. especially for what we get. but no, commitment to projects was required, and apparently that means 40 hours a week. just for the privilege of living up here on our own in the snowy ass crack of nowhere. i was looking forward to chomping through lots of books, but that doesn't look likely to happen. i tried to argue a little, but it seemed futile, especially since it was with the wrong person. so i decided to agree to their obscene demands and try to make the most of it, bailing when i get too pissed off. and i told them this. they don't seem to care. i'm not sure whether it's due to a skewed view of our benefits, a fucked up work ethic, or they're simply trying to get as much free work out of us as possible.

however, and the piss take aside, so far i've been enjoying it up here. despite almost spending as much time working as i'm not (i wish i hadn't just worked that out). it's a good experience and it does have various perks. i might start pushing for some snowmobile training (if julie gets to use a chainsaw, i get to ride snowmobiles, it's only fair).

the cool thing i discovered yesterday was a night vision scope. i got all childish giddy with excitement when i found it. i always wanted one of these when i was a kid, it'd be like having a superpower. it would be having a superpower - seeing in the dark. akin to walking through walls and flying. and twenty years later i finally get to play with one. it's no good for watching the wolves, as it doesn't work well through glass, but it was fun during our night walk (over to use the internet). i mostly just stared at julie. admiring the tight focal depth, even at long ranges, and the stylish blurring around the edges. the grainy quality of the green image. and how the tones collapse in on themselves as the power drains and the image fades away to black. i could watch that shit all night. it's beautiful. if only i could hook my camera up to it (attachment not included).

data entry is all about coffee intake and the numeric keypad.




14.01.2008: i don't mind this though. because despite it amounting to blatant exploitation (some of the staff here actually refer to the internships as "slave labour", but it's not like i'm about to start wearing a "stolen from africa" tshirt), it's not a trap. i am still free. there are many pretenses, but none of them involve any responsibilty. and no one can give me shit for slacking. i mean, they can try, but it'll just wash right over me. they have nothing on me. and they'd be fools to fire me. and even then i wouldn't care.

over the weekend we discovered there's a theatre in the building where we're staying. this would be cool if nearly all of our DVDs weren't region 2. boo and fuck you to the idiots who came up with that insane bullshit system. a curse on you.

so who wants to come round and watch a senser gig? or some riot porn? yeah, don't all rush at once.

we also went out identifying animal tracks. i can now tell me the difference between a european hare and a snowshoe hare. squirrels and mice, etc. we also found some fox and deer tracks. many crows. around here you get crows the size of dogs. on crisp mornings they stand all dominating on the corners of buildings and the top of poles. caw caw etc. they come out of the fog at you with their piercings eyes and beaks. they're quite magnificent and worryingly fearless. you should see them fight with the wolves for food.

all these desolate scenes remind me of trespasser (i'm the single person who liked the game, i know). only round here we have wolves instead of raptors and bears instead of t-rex. there's also a wolf/husky hybrid you'll see around occassionaly, but always on a leash. goes by the name of rocky. and gorgeous yellow eyes he's got too. apparently he's legal and comes under the same license as the wolves, except i can't imagine they're allowed to stick the wolves on leashes and parade them around camp. not likely.

i wish i had a photo from every day i've walked to up to the office. each morning it's beautiful in a different way. but nevermind.

i might just sit here for a while with my eyes shut in a post-coffee hypnotic state. if i fall asleep and if anyone comes down here, i'm sure the dogs will wake me.




11.01.2008: day off. which means we get to lie in. and get out of bed after the sun has risen. it was a good lie in. i was so lazy i didn't have breakfast until 9am.

we haven't done much. i made a book shelf, which means i cut up a piece of cardboard to use as a bookend on our dodgy wooden shelf. my books are again content. and we spent a while watching the wolves. i can identify four of them now, maybe five at a push. we chatted a while with the woman who works there fridays, she's very friendly. and it's always interesting talking to people around here. they all have very insightful things to say about how this place is run.

now we're hanging out on the internet and wanting some beers, but we aren't in any position to get any. we could buy them from the restaurant upstairs but they might be expensive and they might not allow them to be sold unopened. we were thinking that if we could organise a system of buying food through them then we could buy beer as well. but having written that, i just realised they may be all kinds of comlicated laws that govern it. although out here in the middle of nowhere i'm sure none of them really matter. oh come on, for sure.

anyway. i don't actually have anything to say so i'll just shut the fuck up. sorry for being so damn boring.

and if you're wondering where all the p's are coming from, well it's a lot of copy and pasting. for numbers i'm using the on-screen keyboard. it's pretty ropey but it does the job. at least until my ps2/usb converter arrives, then i've just got to steal a keyboard from somewhere. kids, stealing is cool. or something.




10.01.2008: so they've got me doing data entry today. which is not why i spent four years at university. and which is not suitable work for someone with four years professional IT experience on top of that. and which is not what anyone does unpaid. isn't the point of an internship to learn new skills? not to be exploited?

i am working way below my abilities and way above my willingness.

plus i've been stuck down in the basement with no windows and my hands are getting cold. and i have no lunch as i was supposed to be in the kitchen today. some student from somewhere is coming in tomorrow, or something like that, to analyse data, and that's free labour. so i need to get this all entered for then. it's like some kind of free labour combo multiplier. i'm going straight over to the kitchen in my lunch break and making myself a sandwich. a big one. and they'll be lucky if i don't start stealing cheese again - one of my favourite work-related past times.

i sound very bitter and angry, but i'd like to think of that more as a trademark than a state of mind. if i was that pissed i wouldn't be sitting here doing this (or obviously, not doing this). i never have cared much about the pay, more about quality of life. but that isn't the point. i'm also well into my principles. that's where moaning comes into it. it helps finding a nice balance between expression and action.

but anyway, the data i'm entering is on deers killed during hunting season. thrilling stuff. no really, i don't mean it at all sarcastically. really i don't. honest. i can't wait until i get to the bears. but every deer i enter, i see it's age and height and weight. the size of its antlers. i see whether it was a fawn. i see it lying in the undergrowth bleeding from the head or belly, whatever is specified on the sheet. and later, whether it was checked for brainworm or not, meaning whether or not the hunter had wanted its head for mounting. at least i can laugh when someone has written the sum instead of the mean. and then, when the next lot of paper sheets weren't in order, someone suggested we could use cut and paste to rearrange them in excel. like i said, well below my ability.

what sucks is i have no time for any of the projects i was hoping to start. but my computer is being a dick anyway. it'll boot up, but only in safe mode. even after restoring the settings to long before it wasn't working. unless that doesn't account for the windows updates, which would slightly defeat the point of the system restore. gr.

we had a black out last night. which means where we're staying we had no lights, heat or water. i only knew the hydro guys were working on it because i'd overheard a conversation earlier in the day. no one had told us this would be happening. out here when the power goes out and the fridges stop humming, all you can hear is the wind and the pipes and all the animals and monsters upstairs. all you can see is whatever's in the candle light. i went hunting for a torch but found nothing. instead we just went to bed and tried not to breathe too loudly.




09.01.2008: mostly all i can smell is cooking oil and bacon. it lines the inside of your nose and hounds you unrelenting. i've changed my tshirt but i'm worried it seeps through your skin. coats your lungs. meh, i needed to wash my hair tonight anyway.

but apart from this, and various other minor annoyances, working in a kitchen so far is pretty cool. i get to eat and drink whatever i want and whenever i want. which means i'll mostly be getting fat and unhealthy if left unchecked. but don't worry, this kind of work will put me off unhealthy food for life. or at least a while. i can't take many egg sandwiches tasting of pig. other perks include being able to buy food through the kitchen, including various vegetarian burgers, balls and hotdogs. all stuff we can't get anywhere else. and at trade price too. so score one for me. plus any other scraps i can stick in my bag. the girls know i ain't getting paid (this is my new redneck talk i'm picking up, dang varmin, etc) so it's all cool. i just can't believe the management here haven't organised a system by which the interns (who only receive fifty bucks a week to eat with) can buy food at bulk price through the kitchen. useless.

speaking of which (vermin), i saw my first mouse last night. heard the little critter running around in the hall and squeaking and all. his old friend got toasted down at the junction, split his little neck in two trying to eat some cheese and shit. thwak. at least he probably didn't know what hit him. i've been told to leave the mice. the guy upstairs keeps them for some odd purpose. there's a lot of weird ones around here, for sure.

i really wish my tab key worked. although the one benefit of my broken keyboard is i had the guts to prize all the letters off and spell out amusing things. amusing for me only, no doubt. i wish i had more 'e' and 'a' keys though. i can't quite write "fuck the police". any suggestions will be warmly accepted.

the wind is picking up something shocking. i haven't seen wind like this for a long time. what snow fell earlier is being pulled up and tossed around all over. it sounds like a truck coming at you. bearing down upon you, a maniac at the wheel with gritted teeth and fire for eyes. flames licking his forehead. and the little room i'm sitting in now, underneath the restaurant, it's taking a right battering. i'm not sure how i'm going to get home, but i'm sure i'll manage. covered in snow and my eyelids froze together. i'm going to have to start carrying a torch with me whenever i go out i reckon.

the comments on my polar bear photo are too funny. feel free to join in and be stupid.

i hope you are all well.




08.01.2008: excet, for reasons julie will be hay i'm not going into, a number of keys on my keyboard have stoed working. the only letter that's bust is for omegranite, uzzle, rison and eace), which wouldn't be too bad, only the left shift key and backsace are broke too. also the end key and the oen braket i just noticed. the only numbers i can get are 2460. it's issing me off already.

sigh..

i guess i'll have to order a usb keyboard and gaffa-tae it over this one. no roblem.

unless anyone wants to buy me a new lato?

outside there's low lying fog. it drifts through the trees and across the road in thick clums like ghosts (i coy asted it). it's awesome. tomorrow when i walk to the kitchen i'm taking my camera for sure. only tomorrow the fog will have cleared and it'll just be slushy rubbish. all last night i kept being woken up by masses snow falling from the roof. then there was a thuder storm and our whole window was lit up in a silent electric blue. scared the crap out of me.

this is now too annoying to tye. i give u.




07.01.2008: how i think this is going to work is i'll be writing every day but uploading only every other day. i'm not sure i can be bothered to lug my computer over to the cookhouse every night. especially in weather conditions this shite. it's warmed up and everything is melting and then refreezing during the night. every path and road is like an ice rink. i can't believe i haven't slipped and fallen yet. it's been close enough times.

but yeah, i hope no one minds the less frequent updates (i'm sure no one cares at all, but can i at least pretend?)

so i started 'work' today. and i put it in quotes (or apostrophes or whatever they're called) because i don't consider something work if i'm not getting paid for it. but so far so good. today's job was somewhere between cartography and interior decorating. i've been matching up 5km by 5km topography maps (ordinance survery maps, maybe?) to satellite photos and pinning them to a dry wall to create a huge 3.5m by 2m map of the forest. that's about twenty small maps all placed together and at the perfect angle to fit the available space. and also so that the property lines are straight. it looks sweet.

but this isn't why we're here. really i'm only here because julie is here (that's not to say she's the only reason i'm enjoying being here), and she's here for the horse logging. this is like normal logging only instead of using a skidder, which causes all kinds of damage, you use horses to pull out your logs. it takes a lot longer but it's much better for your forest. it doesn't make much sense economically, but then most things that do don't make sense in the real world. here though, they're trying to improve the quality of the forest by taking out the bad trees and leaving the good ones. they're even planning fifty years ahead, by leaving and encouraging trees that will thrive in the predicted environmental conditions. it's all very clever.

to illustrate:








you can almost feel the action, huh? the black horse is lady and the brown one is penny. you can't tell so much from the photos but they're absolute beasts. i'm totally in awe.

anyway, maybe it's time for some more whiskey.




06.01.2008: it's another gorgeous morning here in the forest. it's foggy and warm. relatively. i was woken up in the night by wolves fighting. grim sounds, like growling and vomiting all mixed together. but it didn't last so long. after that i was kept up by my own thoughts and worries. when i fell asleep i dreamt i went to the premier of 'southland tales' (what happened to that anyway?) but missed the start and it turned into a terrible teen movie with canned laughter. then i had a conversation with a dead friend about how it's annoying he only shows up in my dreams and how "it's dead" is similar to "IDST". iddqd?

the last two mornings we've helped with the horses, which was a lot of fun. it's made me feel a lot more comfortable about being here. and i only got slobbered on once, so thanks for that betty. it's refreshing to do some manual labour. does that make sense coming from me? probably not at all. whilst it's only about one hour every morning i'm all happy. nevermind.

these photos wont really give you an idea of what it's like up here, but they're from the time we came up in december:





the first photo is us arriving. then julie in the early morning. then julie again once the sun had risen properly. there's some snow. and there's a mouse inside the stables, who sat and stared at me as i took his/her picture. i have way more, but i'm saving the horse logging ones for later. no reason.

so apart from the passport fiasco and the packing nightmare, our last few days in toronto were a lot of fun. on the monday louise came to take away her bed. we spent time tying it procariously to the roof of her car. it took so long that laura and paul had time to come and take away our bed and the various bits and bobs whilst me and louise struggled. it wasn't too secure, but it was snowing anyway so we weren't driving fast. the three of us had lunch at a pub somewhere far down the danforth, which was cosy and suprisingly filling. lunching good. lots of cups of tea.

another day john and laura returned to take away our excess baggage. it was a struggle but we managed. we now have several very large and heavy suitcases residing in their basement. so thanks for that. we can't really thank them enough, so i wont bother. we had pizza out and the played guitar hero and chilled out. something we wouldn't have been doing had i known i was about to discover i'd lost the passports. but nevermind.

maybe i should go and try to access the internet before i've written even more. whoops.




05.01.2008: so here i am up in the forest, sipping whiskey and listening to the wolves. the only other sounds come from julie in the shower, the ticking of the clock and the heater whenever it kicks in to stop the water pipes from freezing. there is no more traffic. at its worst there's the occasional snowmobile, but not at this hour. and it's a 12 year old scotch matured in double casks, just incase you were wondering.

the closet sign of civilization, three other interns who are lucky enough to have internet, is a fifteen minutes walk down the road. you can save a couple of minutes by taking the path that cuts through the forest. it's totally beautiful. at night the darkness is sublime and purple and you feel utterly alone. this morning the light was pink and golden, and solid like you could feel the dawn. it was your shoes and the world to come. it was worth whatever beauracracy i might have to deal with later. but more on that another time, i still have much catching up to do.

our apartment is interesting. it's spacious but clunky, and full of other people's left behind junk. like there are four jars of mayonaise in the fridge. it's not entirely clean, there's mouse shit littered around where ever there aren't little piles of cloves, but we are making the most out of it. i definately like it here. we've moved all of the junk into the spare room and we've vigourously vacuumed. we've made a fake cat out of cardboard. at its worst the apartment is bohemian. all of our windows face out into the wolf compound, so we can walk around naked and it's only the wolves that'll see. unless it's feeding time.

so yes, nothing has gone badly yet. but when i'm being expected to work forty hours a week for nothing but the priveledge of living here, i don't see how well it can go. there are many different ways to see this, and the vast majority of them lead to the conclusion that it's fucking absurd. we'll work it out i'm sure.

and that's all for now. julie is tired and i have to go to bed with her, and need to shower first and all that. i'll catch up another time. thrilling stuff, i'm sure.




04.01.2008: for those that need proof that i'm an idiot, here's the story of my two coats.

we're moving up north, about five hours on the bus from toronto, up into cold territory. where today it's supposed to be -30c. where i really need a warmer coat than the one i have. so, just before christmas we went to goodwill and i bought a new one, it's a big horrible puffy white thing that's several sizes too big, but it'd do the job. i tentatively wore it out a few times, much to everyone's amusement, and gave it a proper trial run on new years. i didn't need to wear many layers underneath it and there was a suitablely safe inside pocket for our passports. also it protects me from so many snowballs. so it was perfect.

the next day we met up with henry and kyle to hand over the food not bombs gear and various other stuff (picture us walking along gloucester road, me in my big white coat riding my bike for the last time, first time in the snow proper, kyle with a huge wooden table on his back, julie pulling that annoying trailer and henry carrying everything else). turns out kyle had an expensive northface coat that he didn't want. his friend had bought it cheap and then passed it on because it was too big, which it was, but not as big as my huge 'rest and relaxation' coat, so it became mine.

since i now had two coats i figured i'd take the first one back to goodwill and try to get my money back. it had been more than seven days since i'd bought it, the time during which you can get a refund, but then it had been christmas and new years. it'd be mean for them not to take it, especially since they'd blatantly sell it again straight away and make double on it. but no. the manager refused it because i'd removed the tag. that fucking tag which i was going to leave on for added goodwill street cred. i tried to argue with her, that the price was even written on the coat label in very obvious handwriting, but she was having none of it. perhaps people turn sour and unreasonable after christmas. not me. i considered keeping the coat out of spite, also it did cover more of my body and its blinding white radiance was perfect snow camoflage, but no. i gave her a mean look and asked her where i could dump it. i made sure i'd removed my marker pen and gloves from the pockets and i chucked it into the trolley. walked out all angry like. then went and got some breakfast.

goodwill may be 'charitable', but they're not a charity, they're a business. apart from employing the odd otherwise unemployable person (for minimum wage i'm sure) i don't see how they actually give back to the community. but anyway, we'd bought a bunch of stuff from them in the past year and now had to take it all back. we finally got around to it at 5pm, and as i put on my newest coat, all excited about it and checking out all the pockets, i suddenly got one of those horrible sinking feelings that tell you you've done something really stupid. the ones you tend to get after you've been out drinking a lot and going to bed late and getting up early and stressing about all kinds of things like moving and packing and not paying attention to where you left your passport.

where the fuck were our passports?

we blitzed the apartment but they were nowhere. there was a chance we'd packed them, in the suitcases that were now sitting in john and margaret's basement, but that would have been pretty stupid. although not as stupid as the alternative, that i'd left them in the pocket of the coat that i'd donated to goodwill six hours earlier.

we ran over there, lumbered with more boxes than we could sensibly carry, and desperately tried to get some sense out of the employees. one woman told us she ain't seen no coat, that if it wasn't on the shelf then it would have been sent out to the depot to be destroyed. how very futile, etc. but this was bullshit, the coat was too good for that, it clearly hadn't been processed. the manager just waved her hands around and pretended to act sympathetic. the only useful conversation was with the chinese woman working the till, she'd seen the coat sitting there for hours, being ignored by both staff and customers, before a woman finally showed it some interest. apparently the woman took her time and kept coming back to it. if this story was a movie, here was my opportunity to run in slow motion back to the store, to build tension and reclaim our passports in the nick of time. that wonderful happy ending etc. but i failed.

we left our number at the store, along with most of our hope of getting our passports back. the woman had said she'd checked the pockets, as she always does, and there was no passport in them. she was probably trying to make us feel better, but all it meant was the coat's new owner wouldn't be finding them any time soon either. we ransacked what remained of our apartment and phoned rachelle to see if she had them, but obviously they were gone and it was all my fault.

well, the fault of ontario for not classing my uk driver's license as valid ID, forcing we need to take our passports out with us on new years eve. and julie's fault for making me buy a new coat to begin with. and don't forget about kyle, whose fault it is for giving me a new coat. i'm sure it's your fault too somehow. something about butterfly wings and collapsing nebulas.

and it was an expensive mistake too, a $420 mistake. $450 if you include the coat. that's $20 for passport photos, $270 for my passport (it was to run out in 2009 anyway, but a renewal in england would have been only $150) and $100 for julie's (i offered to pay for the remaining time she had on it), $20 for special priority mail and the rest on miscellanous extra teas and coffees drank whilst running around trying to fix the mess. luckily the police didn't charge us for the occurence report (a copy of which usually costs $26).

nor can we afford the time two days before moving out of our apartment. our third of janary was spent running around town, between various consulates and police stations. we were exhausted. are exhausted. running on autopilot, driven by the pressures of necessity and crashing whenever i stop. nibbling a block of chiapan coffee chocolate worked wonders until i came down half an hour later. i haven't felt like this since i moved out of roundhill crescent. aimee will attest to the state i was in then. it's not good.

on wednesday night, after accepting the passports weren't coming back (i wanted to hold out as long as possible, pretending to myself that they'd be discovered and returned quickly) we decided to walk down to the police station to report them missing. i wouldn't have bothered but a police report is required by the embassy, and also we thought we could check to see if anyone had handed them in. not that it would have helped us, as the police are required to send them back to their country of origin. and not that anyone had. and neither would the guy working the front desk take our statement because he was the only one there, whatever that meant. so apart from it being a nice walk, it was a total waste of time.

we went back early the next morning, only to be told they require our passport numbers to file the report, and of course we didn't have those. julie couldn't get hers until the following morning (the passport people over in denmark had already finished work) so we went to my consulate to investigate how utterly useless they could be. unreasonably useless? the danish consulate closes early so we had been there first thing. it's almost needless to say that they had been extremely helpful. getting a new danish passport is a simple process. you need photocopies of a few documents (birth certificate etc) and to fill in a couple of simple forms, plus everything mentioned above. you hand it all over and they sort it out for you. at the british consulate there is no such help. the guy tells me to fill in the lost passport form, and then tells me he might not be able to retrieve my passport number because it's an old passport. he manages in the end. he then tells me i need to mail all of my ID to ottawa, not photocopies, and he can't particularly help me beyond that.

i ended up going back there several times. the second time was to ask how the hell i was supposed to get a countersignatory. he said he thought it would be ok if i used a professor in the department of laboratory medicine and pathology at the hospital for sick children, who i've only known for a year and a half. who he annoyingly refered to as "he". the final time we went there we convinced him to call the british high commission and ask if a certified photocopy of my drive's license would suffice, as i couldn't give up my only ID. and of course they said that it would. so thanks for suggesting that to begin with. useless.

and this was after we'd been to the police station, again, and they'd been useless too. we'd been waiting twenty minutes before a guy from the fraud department took my statement, and all the while he was also dealing with a case regarding a fradulent cheque. he even wrote notes (my name and address) on the back of the fraud case's event information print out, which he later accidentally gave me. this print out contains the name, phone number and address of the "victim reportee". is there not a data security issue there? fat policemen, too busy making unfunny jokes about us being spies and having bombs in our pockets. although he walked the line, he wasn't actually an asshole. at least he skipped 'aggravated' and put my state down as calm.

julie didn't have so much luck when we returned the following day (i waited in the tim horten's across the street, fed up of dealing with people who have authority complexes and fed up of feeling anxious and paranoid the whole time). the officer that dealt with her was especially rude, even for a cop. police shouldn't be allowed to have bad days, even if someone steals their donut, their job is too important (chuckle, lol, etc).

somewhere in the middle of this i was sitting on the toilet staring at the label on my marks and spencers underwear. focusing on the tiny detail, those wavy letters a small icon of england, trying to make it grow and consume me and take me home. something stupid like that.

now the cover letter has been written and sent with the forms and photo and bank draft to ottawa. now i have to wait. and if they ask me to go to ottawa i will cry. and also i can't change my flight until i have my passport, so it's messing up all kinds of my plans. but nevermind. shit happens.

that's why i haven't been updating. and i tricked you too, it wasn't a story about my coats at all. so now who's the stupid one?

normal service will resume shortly, etc.






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