Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Letting things be.

On my way home from the Aquatic Centre, I ran into a couple that had obviously just gotten into some kind of an argument. “You said you’d be better off without me!” accused the suburban blonde guy in his thirties. “I never said anything like that!” the bodacious brunette protested, as she charged at the doors of the Skytrain with her dozen shopping bags flying in all directions.
The guy followed her into the train, got himself caught between closing doors and, after wrestling with them for a moment, squeezed himself onto the train. There was some more huffing and puffing between the two, which in turn gave the two fashionably dressed Japanese exchange students sitting across from me something to chuckle about.
Yet another true Vancouver moment, I thought to myself as I was sipping on my small, bitter, regular Tim Hortons. So many cultures and people meshing and clashing with each other, enacting and viewing the daily tragedies that unravel on the monorail. There’s just no choice but to let them be, whether it’s a young silly couple or an old crazy addict from the Downtown Eastside.
That’s what still continues to captivate me as an expat – these moments of realization that sometimes there are no sides to be taken, because in our multifaceted world there are no sides to begin with. It seems infinitely comforting to realize that you can just let it be, as opposed to taking sides or stepping up in your head to correct someone. People are just so different that most of the time there is simply no way for us to even begin to wrap our heads around why they do the things they do. Again, the words of Huxley ring clear in my head, for “Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies — all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes.”

Yup, living abroad. It certainly makes for some neat zen moments on your way home from work.

Friday, January 2, 2009


This post was written on January 1st and I meant to wrap it up later. So much time has passed since that I gave up on continuing it, but here it is anyway...

It's difficult to believe that we've been in Vancouver for a year already. 2008 proved to be a very refreshing year, full of new faces, places and lots of little "ah!" moments. We celebrated the anniversary of our arrival with a little trip to Mt Seymour, where we took snowboarding lessons and managed to get our muscles properly mangled up.

I'm sitting here in our sweet little apartment, in muscle pain, inspecting the fresh snow that fell on our painfully lengthy way home from the New Year's Eve bash. This quiet moment feels so very much like this entire city: full of amazing possibilities, but little action unless you get up and make your day.

My physical condition is making me acutely aware that there are people who are seriously roughing it out there. The new city council is promising to end homelessness; the critics say that they are just slapping people into human zoos to give the city a cosmetic makeover. I really don't know how that is going to help the young guy standing at the Broadway station McDonald's. On my way to the grocery store, he was smiling and making eye contact with every passer-by, attentively begging for change. By the time that I had made it back from the store, his eyes were glazed over and rolling back in his head, as he had managed to score a hit for the money that the mother of two had given him. There's only so much you can do to combat free will and the personal choices that this guy is making. Objectively speaking, his opiated oblivion may indeed be preferable to the sober facts of his existence, but who is to draw the line and say that enough is enough and his way of coping with issues is not conducive. The city? I guess so.

Living in a big city with as many issues as Vancouver makes you realize how small we really are as humans. Our way of running our sand castles is still quite experimental and based on trial and error. It's fine - it's the best we've been able to come up with, but the real problem is the follow-through. People fail to realize that their happiness is entirely dependent on the choices that they make. Sadly, there is still very little personal accountability and an expectation that the mother system will just magically take care of it all.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

26 on the 26th

It's my birthday! Well, it's not actually my birthday in Canada, but it's already 8:32AM in Estonia where I was born shortly after 8AM, on the 26th of August. This birthday feels like an odd one. First of all, it's on a Tuesday. My only plan for the day is to have lunch with my supervisor and her immediate colleague. Second, I am turning 26. What kind of a number is that?

Google tells me that I'm not the only one feeling this way. 26-year-old Unmarried Cosmo Girl Worries About Becoming a Cougar. Half Of 26-Year-Old's Memories Nintendo-Related. China's richest person is 26-year old woman. 26-year-old girl wants to date 300 guys. Craig David: 'let me be a 26-year-old who’s making music'. A 26-year-old woman was found stabbed to death in her apartment in Tachikawa City, Tokyo. Jason’s 26 Year Old Bjork-Shiley Mechanical Valve Stays Put.

There's a definite melancholy about turning 26. 25 was a milestone and 27 almost seems younger than 26 because of the rock star associations, whereas 26 is somewhere in between, where you are older than a quarter of a century but not quite old enough to despair about your age and worry about the wrinkles. Yet, something seems to be missing.

I went to Amazon to fill that hole by buying books that I would never get around to reading, but even Amazon.com's "Recommended For You" seems more contemplative than usual.

1. Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman, Godzilla, and Friends in the Golden Age of Japanese Science Fiction Film
2. Advanced Maya Texturing and Lighting
/--- bunch of other technical books---/
28. Things I have learned in my life so far
189. Just Who Will You Be?: Big Question. Little Book. Answer Within.

I might just have to buy that book.

Vancouver continues to be wonderful and amazing in very many different ways. I love walking around East Vancouver, peeking into people's windows, walking past pubs and coffee shops and grabbing a cup at the Continental. After a couple of violently sweaty weeks, the weather's been toned down and the air is becoming increasingly crisp. It reminds me of going to school in Estonia in September, which was something I had looked for all summer. Fall brings back memories of fresh notebooks, information, belonging and coziness. I can't wait for the rainy season to start so we can fire up our fireplace and cuddle up to watch House.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I have been re-charged with inspiration, found my muse, rediscovered faith in my profession. I went to see Wall-E! Never in the history of humankind has there been a more touching, motivating, compassion-embarking, thought-provoking piece of art as Pixar's latest masterpiece. 

I don't usually lose all sense of time and space when I go see a movie, especially when it's a kids' movie. But Wall-E is something else. The story itself is a masterpiece where every segment ends in zen-like perfection, leaving absolutely no room for analysis or criticism. The scenes are laid out so beautifully that the makers would have achieved their mission even if the characters were 2D stick figures. Needless to say, the immaculately realistic 3D animation takes it completely over the top. The sound effects are equally important - I cannot remember the last time I saw a movie with this little dialogue that was executed this well. You know that you've witnessed pure genius if an hour of robot beeps, purrs, farts, squeals and screams doesn't get annoying. 

My brain has been completely devoured by this movie. Wall-E left me a complete and utter sobbing mess, determined to change my career path to get as close to Pixar's immaculate arts and crafts as possible. I'm going to learn 3D animation. I'm going to start drawing again. I will do the best that I can so that I can one day reach the level of dedication, commitment and creativity that has been involved in the making of this beautiful movie. 


In terms of life in Vancouver, it's been equally wicked, minus the growing homelessness issue and the morning transit commute. The music scene is wonderful and growing, people polite and amazing, my job rather tolerable and weather beautiful. I might tell you more about it next time, when I have re-gained my composure and recovered from the Wall-E high. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Green phlegm and leprous zebras

Vancouver has been showing its not-so-glamorous side for the past couple of days. The weather this morning at 8am was brutal - rain drizzling off the trees, my usual mellow path slushy and slippery, ice cold greyness creeping its way into my lungs. I am beginning to master the art of dragging my carcass out the door, down the stairs, across the soccer field, onto the Skytrain, off the Skytrain, onto another Skytrain, off the Skytrain, and into the Blenz coffee shop on Burrard street. A small medium roast for 1.73, out the door, to the waterfront, into a giant glass building, into the elevator, arrive at work. That is when I slowly but surely begin to wake up. It feels great to work when it's raining because you can't go running around the parks like a wild child when it's soggy and wet.

I've managed to catch one of the colds that the Vancouverites have been talking about. So much for making fun of them for dissing the weather - now I am hacking up green phlegm myself. Very appropriate for St. Patrick's Day - at least something within my bodily system was green today.

Speaking of missing holidays - something seems to have happened to Easter this year. For some reason, it is happening in March. I thought the Canadians had gone absolutely Easter mad, since my coworkers had started asking me about my Easter plans. This gives April a whole new meaning.

By the way, Vancouver celebrated St. Patrick's Day with a huge parade yesterday. Check out the pictures and read the comments here. Why are lepricons called lepricons? To me that sounds like a leprous zebra.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hello everybody!

It's been a while! And, phew, has it been a while!

Vancouver is absolutely amazing. I keep falling for it more and more, despite the fact that Skytrains are always packed and smelly and the streets are dotted with crazy homeless people because the city doesn't know how to deal with them.

So, where were we? You already know that I scored a corporate job. The pace at my work place is about ten times slower than it was in Estonia and I get paid over twice as much. I no longer have to work overtime. I've had a few disagreements with the supervisor because she is not only from a different century, but a different planet. The supervisor's boss told me to keep disagreeing with her, because that is the only way we *might be able to drag the giant slug of a company forward. I spend my days watching and editing movie trailers and crazy multicultural shows, and like to walk down to the waterfront on sunny afternoons. So all is well in that realm.

We spent the past month looking for an apartment, which turned out to be an impossible mission. We went to 23 apartments and picked one that was significantly smaller than the rest and very close to the Skytrain tracks. That might not sound very nice, but there are very many factors that make up for the Skytrain, including but not limited to the cost, the dishwasher, the super cool housemates, the back yard, and the proximity to Trout Lake and Commercial Drive, as well as Vancouver's best beer store selling rare BC microbrews. Most apartments we looked at were either loud, dirty, or simply unsuitable for our purposes. We seem to have chosen to move during the time of a most severe housing crunch.

This city is truly happening! There are regularly 4-5 conflicting events every day of the weekend, and there is always someone calling you up, inviting you for a coffee or a pint. I thought Vancouverites were always minding their own business and never socializing, but it's the exact opposite. People are always hanging out in cute coffee shops, chatting each other up. Random people who pass you by on the street will suddenly jump in your conversation, and walk with you for the rest of the way. And everybody seems to, pardon my French, truly give a shit.

The weather has been absolutely wonderful, compared to what it is like in Estonia. I find it very amusing to hear my coworkers moaning about a few hours of rain here and there.

Speaking of Estonians, I absolutely insist that all of you go see this movie. It's playing at the Cinemark Tinseltown Vancouver March 28, 2008 - April 3, 2008.
The movie has one of the most touching and inspirational trailers and I trust that the rest of the film will follow suit. If you are even remotely interested in Estonia's story, or the concept of freedom, don't pass this one by.

I just realized that I never installed the Flash player on my Mac to view this site - it just works. I love it.

I can't wait to have my American friends visit us in Vancouver (This means you, Dara!). It will be very interesting to see them function in the Canadian context. I've shared many good laughs with an American guy, who is constantly bewildered by the Canadians' niceness. (If you bump into someone at a party, they will apologize profusely, and nobody ever raises their voices.)

The cherry trees are about to bloom. A few trees here and there have already "burst" - probably because someone left their car idling or something:) I can't wait to get out and about with the camera, to shoot the madness once it happens!

Friday, February 1, 2008

New life

So, loads has happened as usual. My Macbook Pro finally shipped, I got a job and my husband's sister got engaged. Congratulations, Pinz!
The computer is awesome. I love it. The NVIDIA graphics card is putting a totally new twist on even MSN emoticons. The screen is gorgeous and everything runs beautifully, minus the usual rainbow balls of death when there are problems with the net.

I start my new job on Monday. The company is about 50 times larger than the last firm I worked at, so they have great benefits and an awesome coffee machine. However, providing a wealth of perks also seems to be a bit of standard here. At Radical Entertainment, they have free food, cookies, pinball machines and game consoles. From what I hear about EA, their employees basically live there - no need to rent an apartment I guess.

Last week our friend James suggested that we go have dinner at the Culinary Arts school downtown. We showed up 15 minutes in advance because it was supposed to be an extremely popular place, but you know what - it turned out to be a SNOW DAY! There was barely any snow on the ground and it must have been something like minus 1. Wow. Aw. I mean.. Those bastards!

We came home and watched the news about a dozen cars that had rolled over into the ditch, because they didn't have winter tires. You can't help but feel for the poor clueless Pacific people, who are so utterly oblivious of the extreme measures that people regularly take to combat extreme weather situations. A snow day? How about you learn how to drive stick and put on some winter tires? Even better, use public transport! The gov't pays you back 15% on all the expenses on monthly cards!

Ranting on my Mac seems somehow more satisfying than usual. I am considering cutting my fingernails so that I wouldn't scrape the keyboard. For a split second this afternoon, I actually considered spending 3000 dollars on the Final Cut Studio and Adobe Production bundles! I think this computer might actually make me a better person. Thank you, Apple!