Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Holidays

Christmas is definitely more toned down in Beijing, but we refuse to let that stop us from celebrating our brains out.

Exhibit A

Recently, Emily decided it would only be appropriate to get her nails painted Christmas inspired colours. After much deliberation on sparkles/non sparkles, she settled on alternating red and green nails. At the last minute she enthusiastically chose to throw in one more colour; white on her middle finger.

pinky - red
ring finger - green
middle finger - white
pointer finger- red
thumb - green

She was very pleased with her 60 kuai ($ 10 CAD) manicure and scurried off to have dinner. Amidst a sea of drinks and rice, Chris, a dear friend and avid sports fan chuckled and said, "Emily, why did you paint your nails the Italian Flag?"


Merry Christmas Emily. Ciao.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lemn Sissay

Recently I went to see UK poet and playwright Lemn Sissay. I heard about the event from a professor and after seeing a clip of him, knew that I had to go. Although I missed the beginning of the lecture where he did excerpts from his play, I caught him perform poetry from his books and was awestricken.

I think spoken word poetry is a tricky thing, sometimes when done poorly, it can be mega-cheesy. Unless there is real truth in the poet's story--their poem, no amount of rhythm, rhyme, emphasis or dramatic pauses can connect you to them. But Mr. Lemn Sissay captivates you the second he opens his mouth. Anyways, I'll quit describing it and let you see for yourself:

A little bit of history if you are interested:
Lemn's mother was studying in England when he was born, so she decided to temporarily give him to a foster family. His name was illegally changed to Norman by the social worker assigned to him (who named Lemn after himself) and was placed in foster care with a white family in North West England for 11 years. During this time his mother fought to find Lemn but he had disappeared within the welfare system. Believing that Lemn was evil, his foster parents sent him to a government foster home where he was --once again-- the only African American there, describing the stay as, "prison-like." At 18, he was released and given letters from his mother along with a birth certificate where he discovered his real name: Lemn Sissay (Lemn, ironically meaning, "Why"). He spent his adult life searching for his mother and publishing his poetry-- his first book at age 21 landed him a page in The Guardian that read, “Lemn Sissay has success written all over his forehead.” He eventually found her and discovered he was the product of a rape incident. Here is a post from his blog that gives a little insight to his current family situation: Small talk in the Big Apple.

I hope you enjoy his poems.

Click the audio pic to hear another:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

As a bystander in East Africa

I was in utter shock at the state of living, as one might expect when traveling to parts of Africa. I was in Kampala, Uganda first with my family, visiting the places my father grew up until he and many others were kicked out under the inhumane rulings of Idi Amin. But that is another story all together. Driving out of Kampala and into Jinja, I saw shacks made of aluminum scrap, wooden frames with weathered black garbage bags on the verge of complete disintegration shielding the sun and an odd rainfall.

I don’t know why you might be interested in reading this because experiences such as these only have a true impact if you see them first hand. But this story does have a point; it’s not just a heavily descriptive account of my travels.

In Kenya, Nairobi, I drove through one of the smallest of 9 slums and was scared to death. It was by no means “small” and if that was small I couldn’t fathom what the other ones looked like. On my right were tiny passages through stacked and dishevelled homes, and on my left were war lords. It functioned as separate city unto its own, separate from the other side of Nairobi where the Embassies and rich people lived in lush vegetation.

Sure we all learn, it’s a process, its educating and empowering women, the climate can be volatile and the level of poverty is extremely overwhelming. I get that, of course I get that. So what the HECK, why don’t the people rise up and demand change? There's hardly any middle class, its rich and poor. Its a frustrating thing to see when you know that with governmental changes, this country and others could start to thrive. That is, minus corruption and minus bribes.

And what about all the foreign aid given? What of all the NGO's development work? Are these activities helping the people? Because if they are I didn't see it.

Maybe going there did make me a little cynical, and maybe I didn't spend enough time helping, so perhaps my opinion is a surface one... but you have to wonder, with all the foreign aid going to this country, where is the change?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

at the hairdressers

I hate hairdresser small talk, you literally can't escape it.

I often go to different hair stylists every time I get my hair cut because I never TRULY like the last person who cut my hair. Trying someone new is also partially guided by the price point I feel comfortable with at that current point of hair distress. So I get a WHOLE lot of small talk each time I climb into a hairdresser's chair. Why is this excruciating? Well obviously because you can't get up and leave. I'm sure that the hair dresser is trying to be friendly but I hate feeling trapped as I am being asked "life questions" (eg/where did you go to school, what do you do, what do you want to do, etc).

Its not even a two way conversation, because more often then not, when I ask what they study, its, "I went to hair salon school" and I'm not going to ask them about their job 'cus they are DOIN' it! So if they hated it or something, its not like they'd tell me whilst snip snipping.

On another note: my recent hair woes are due to where I live (suburbia). Also, when I was in London I went to my very amazing hair constant, Kuba. If you are from/in London (Ontario, that is) and want to get your hair cut, you should go to him at Cocoa Hair Salon on Talbot St.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Africa: Kenya and Uganda in a couple pictures

I can hardly begin to explain what Africa was in one blog post. For now I will say it was an eye opening and beautiful experience, brimming with history and charming stories from my father.

This picture kills me: this little boy was playing in the front garden alone with that rooster. He would rile it up and then the rooster would run after him, chasing and hissing.

You can't see much of the detail in this picture but its some workers cutting maize.

Sleeping in a mosquito net was great fun but a bit awkward to get out of if you had to use the washroom in the middle of the night.

This is a room at the primary school that my dad attended in Kampala.

My lil' sis' observing a closed shop in Old Mombasa.

This is a snapshot of the crazy driving conditions in Masai Mara.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I scream you scream, we all scream for ice-cream

I am obsessed with ice cream.

So you know how President's Choice has all those exciting weird ice cream flavors? Well me and my sister get them on occasion and try new ones each time. Last week we decided to go with Pink Lemonade. I was a bit apprehensive because I thought it'd be a sorbet-ish, and I so not into super fruity ice-cream.

When we tried it, I almost puked. It was not sorbet-ish at ALL, it was creamy and sour. It was the most disgusting flavor combination I have ever had, and you should trust me on this because I am an ice-cream connaisseur. WHY did they mix lemon and dairy- I do not know.

I decided to write to Presidents Choice and tell them of my negative experience with their ice cream. My hopes were that they'd give me something free or better, let me choose a flavor (yeah-I dream big). Sooo I lodged a complaint for the first time in my life, and along with it I sent them in a list of possible exciting new flavors they could try...

Here is what I included:

-Banana coconut
-Banana bread
-Pumpkin pie (for the holidays)
-graham cracker, cherry cheesecake (yah I know, not original AT ALL, but they don't have this flavor and I am obsessed with cheesecake)
-Mint oreo
-Sprinkle Donut

So yeah. I haven't heard anything from them yet, but if you're ever shopping for President's Choice Ice cream and see one of the above know who suggested it. And if I haven't yet demonstrated how crazy innovative I am, I've definitely demonstrated how massive my sweet tooth is. TLC, can I get a show or what?