Saturday, August 23, 2008

You missed me, eh?

I thought as much. But who can blame you? I was in a foreign country after all.

Exhibit 1: Weird money.

Exhibit 2: Canadians speak a foreign language, whether it's French (which is all over in Ottawa) or an excessive and completely unsexy use of 'eh'.

Exhibit 3: Weird food. I was advised to try the poutine (which is NOT the same as putain or poontang), but may still cause a few giggles. It's french fries covered in beef
gravy and cheese curds. Meh. It's no french fries covered in cheddar cheese and honey. Was also advised to try the beavertails at the market, which are basically a cross between a donut and a funnel cake. Um, yes please. There are many different kinds, but the classic is covered in cinnamon and sugar and fresh lemon juice. Soooooooooooooooooooo good. I could live on these. For reals.

Exhibit 4: I was without phone for 5 days. So I've got a lot of pent-up stuff to say. Here goes...


Loooong flights. But I did see The Office and Made of Honor, that movie with Patrick Dempsey. If you're gonna watch a shitty plane movie, it might as well be one you wanted to see, and I love Patrick Dempsey. It also has the mean girl from Freaks and Geeks.
Love her. If you haven't seen this show, get it from Netflix NOW! Made of Honor? Only if, like me, you need to see another 2 hours of Hot Doctor.

Got to the jail hostel around 11 pm. Not the best time to show up for your bed in a buildin
g that used to be a jail. It's more than slightly creepy.


Was out the door by 10:30. Later than planned, but still 7:30 my time, people! Saw some talks. During lunch watched Strange Days on Planet Earth: Dirty Secrets, which is a PBS video on recent knowledge of human impacts on the ocean, narrated by ED NORTON! Was this made especially for me? I think so! I don't know how you knew, PBS, but thank you. Look down at the plastic bag my sandwich came in during the section about the giant flotilla of plastic trash in the North Pacific Gyre and realize that I'm part of the problem. Right. This. Second!!!

Get some cool posters and free books from the agency I want to work with when I finish. The
booth advertising next year's meeting was giving away Goo Goo Clusters. I stare at it, like you're seriously giving this to me? He thinks I'm from the South because I know what they are. Noooo, I just have a deep and personal relationship with candy. Of COURSE I know what they are! (As long as we're on this subject, I actually packed candy in my suitcase. It keeps me motivated and awake during long meetings, but as I was doing it I thought, oh my god, the only person I know who does this is my father. And I always thought it was the weirdest little addictive personality trait. Although sometimes I also carry a flask. And I can be bossy. So I am a sum of my parts. Just parents 2.0 I guess. Except my dad's genes appear to be delayed response.)

So then that night the wildlife conservation unit of police (or mounties or whatever) gave a demonstration of their working dogs. So there are men in uniform all over Ottawa, and they are muuuuch cuter than in the US. I have no idea why. But a cute man in uniform with a dog??? That's not even playing fair, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth, I say.


I give my talk, right after lunch, to 10 people. I flew 2,500 miles to give a talk to 10 pe
ople? Um, great. Whatevs.


More talks and then there's a big social at the biggest museum in Canada. I walk by Parliament on my way there.

Free food and drinks while roaming around the museum. Always the sign of a good science conference.

Complete with authentic totem poles from British Columbia.

So I'm standing at a giant poster of an (apparently) famous Canadian government laboratory and I think, where the F is this place? So I ask the man standing next to me if he knows where it is. He gives me a funny look and says, "Yes, you're right. This poster doesn't say, does it?" and proceeds to tell me that he gave a talk that afternoon about the lab's history because he used to be the DIRECTOR of the place. Oh, God. And he looks at my name tag to make sure that it's ok that I don't know
(I'm not sure he decided it was ok). And then he gives me a short rundown of the lab and tells me that he's glad I asked where it was cause he didn't like that poster anyway, but couldn't say so because the women who made it is so nice (Silly Canadian!). So that was smooth. Leave it to me to look like a nimrod.

Picture from the poster. Still funny. I hope there were women on the island.

Wander off. Meet two guys and their advisor from Maryland. We go explore the museum. Keep in mind when I saw 'we' I mean the advisor too, cause he's only 34 and fun. And they've all got a crass sense of humor. And were only interested in talking about science about 5% of the time. So these guys? Just my style.

There's this actual Hungarian church they transplanted into the museum. There's only so long I can drink in a church, so we moved on.

When the social was over we head over to the Scottish bar for more beer. The bar has these things that are like pitchers but look like blenders with a tap and a tube full of ice to keep it cold. We finish FOUR of these. I think two of them were ordered consecutively at last call (now this is always a bad sign. If you think you've got to load up before last call, YOU ARE WRONG. But nobody in the near vicinity was in any shape to use this little fact of life and drinking. And the waitress kept bringing them. You know there's such a thing as too nice, Canadians!) They introduce me to a guy who works at the main office of the agency I want to work for (I got his card, now where is it?), and a guy who was just offered a job at my university. Now keep in mind - I am hammered. And so are they. I cannot at all recall what we attempted to discuss except that it was professional. I hope I made a little sense. Who knows, maybe I do a better job explaining my research while drinking. Anything's possible. Then they walk me back to my jail cell at 3:30. So if we left the bar at 2:30 then it took us an hour to get back to the jail a half mile away? I mean, I admit we got lost, sure, but...what? Or were we still at the bar at 3? Yikes. Sorry Canadian barkeeps. I apologize for our American rudeness. We're accustomed to getting more violently booted from a place while drunk. We're not just gonna leave.


Ugggggghhhhhh. Wake up hungover in jail. Have to force myself out of bed. Straggle into the conference at 11:00. Run into my new friends at an 11:40 talk, which is the first talk they've made it to, but still impressive considering one of them was up Wednesday morning at 6 to run in the 5k. We go check out the mall over lunch and I try, for the third time, to shop for some damn boots for fall. But it wasn't meant to be I guess, especially when I realize that the sales tax is 13 percent! I decide Canada doesn't need my tax money. I mean, look at these damn manicured gardens they've got all over the place.

Nobody likes a showoff, Canada!

Then we're sorely disappointed that the stupid Canadian movie theatre isn't showing a matinee of Stepbrothers. What. The. F? I get some loaded fries (cheese, sour cream, green onions, and this weird corn sauce) and a pepsi in the food court (hangover breakfast of champions!). I suggest again that they try the poutine. Again they giggle. The pepsi only seems to heighten the swirly hungover feeling. Pepsi, why have you forsaken me?!

Go back for a few afternoon talks, say bye to the new friends, go have Chinese food at the market, go shopping at my new favorite Canadian store Jacob and actually pull the trigger and buy a shirt and jacket (on sale!), then watch the Olympics in French back at the hostel.


Wake up, pack, and go unload my last fiver on maple candy. Fly home.

It's good to be back. It's good to use the phone. Now I've got some maple candy that's calling my name...


canada is only safe because we still have trees said...

i thought i had a lot to say about this post but i can't get past poutine and beavertails....

©©©©©©©©©©©©©© said...

oh, i remember, you owe me $10 for using "for reals" without permission