“Kindred Spirits”

It always amazes me how quickly you can make a connection with someone who seems totally different from you. “Kindred spirits”, as Anne of Green Gables put it, can find and keep each other across language, culture, distance, and time.

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A Triumphant(ish?) Return

As you can see from the dates of my most recent post, it has been ages since I last wrote. Blogging again got lost in the jumble of work and life and everything in between, but I’ve decided that it really is something I should make time to do.

Recently, my roommate started blogging again over at My Pigeon-Toed Life and I found myself feeling extremely jealous. I’ve been feeling the need for a creative outlet, and I think my blog can function as just that. Not to mention, I’m hoping to do some travelling and go on some adventures in the next few years of my life, and having a record of that is a great reason to blog!

A lot has happened over the past year, but I’m looking forward to picking up where I left off and writing about anything and everything.

So, this is basically a note to get me started. I’ll be blogging about everything I can  – starting with my trip to San Francisco next week. I hope you will all be along for the ride!

Love KG

Movin’ On and Movin’ Out

As the end of April approaches, I find myself in the dubious situation of moving out of Slanty House.  This is a place where I have been not only content, but happy.  A few weeks ago, as my roommates and I were cozied together on couches at a photography studio reviewing pictures from our “Family Photoshoot” the week before, I realized how much I am going to miss this part of my life.

Slanty House has become my home over the past two years.  I may have been in and out depending on what I was doing and where I was going, but I always knew that I had somewhere to return to.  My roommates and I have become a small family of our own.  We look out for one another and share everything – stories about our day, our biggest goals and dreams, and an awesome and obviously horrible bout of the flu that swept the house in January and only ended when Elyse went a little nuts with the bleach.

The house itself is nothing to brag about. In fact, the state of it is a little ridiculous.  The man we thought was our landlord is apparently under some sort of fraud investigation, so we have been living without much interest in our actions or attention to the state of the house.  There are six small bedrooms, each of which has a different colour of wall and flooring, and the basement looks like something out of a horror movie.   People often think they are on a boat the first time they walk into the house due to the inherent “Slanty-ness” of the foundation and it is impossible to not sound like an elephant while climbing up or down the stairs.  There are two full bathrooms, but the door to the one in the basement is stuck open due to the fact that no one uses it and the house has shifted so that the ground meets the bottom of the door.  The walls are stucco and hurt when you fall into them.  The kitchen would be cramped for three people, yet we somehow make it work for six.  Sometimes while laying in bed at night, for some unknown reason, I can feel the house shake.

Despite all these “quirks”, we have made this house into somewhere great to live and I will forever look back on Slanty House as somewhere warm and inviting and safe.  How can I possibly leave a place where complaints are few and laughter is ever-present?

I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to live with such an amazing and unique group of people. Our eclectic mix of personalities somehow made everything work, and I have been known to say that I live with a cast of characters that a successful sitcom could most definitely be based around.

Elyse is a smart and slightly nerdy biology student.  Her favourite book as a child was The Lorax, and she only recently discovered how much sense that made in conjunction with the hugely environmentalist part of her personality.  She always has a “witty” one liner ready to go in any situation – quotation marks because they are often more cheesy than witty, but always enjoyable.  Elyse spent a semester abroad in Sweden last year and got to see much of Europe during that time.  We missed having her in the house then, but it made things all the more exciting when she returned.  She is outspoken, sporty, outdoorsy, and has one of the most infectious laughs that I have ever heard.

Jenn is a thrifty yoga addict who loves to attend raves.  This sounds like a weird combination of traits, but that is Jenn in a nutshell.  She is the best person I know at haggling store owners for a good price and making almost anything work on a smaller budget than you would imagine.  It is not an uncommon sight to see Jenn dancing around Slanty House wearing bright colours and some sort of tail.  She is incredibly enterprising and resourceful and she always has big dreams that she works hard to achieve.  She is currently training to do an Iron Man Competition in the near future.  Jenn spent a year living in Holland and the stories she is able to tell about her life, partially due to that experience and partially due to so much more, are absolutely amazing.  She has recently decided to become vegan and is totally succeeding at making that life change.

Dustin is our token male in the household.  He is slightly ridiculous and utterly loveable.  His biggest dream in life is to be a contestant on Survivor and he has researched becoming an American citizen in the past solely to qualify for the show.  Dustin is intelligent and entertaining and his talents include making people love him, pterodactyl noises, and ordering takeout food.  He likes to walk around the house with his pants undone, and once forgot and answered the door to a Chinese food delivery with his underwear prominently visible.

Steff is an athlete who believes in her own set of food groups:  Burgers, Pizza, Pizza Pops, Baked Goods, and Other.  Luckily, she is an intense rugby player who trains all the time so she really can eat whatever she wants and still be in good shape.  She has a knack for pop culture and is constantly educating the rest of the house about it.  Her dearest dream in life is to own a starmole named Dave as a pet (if you have never seen a picture of one of these, google it.  Now.  Ok now you understand how terrifying that is.).  Steff is the baby of our house but is much taller than all of us except Dustin and often uses her reaching ability to help the rest of us out.  She can usually be found watching trashy but addicting reality TV shows.  I have her to thank for my addiction to the ridiculous dating show Sweet Home Alabama.

Ami is probably one of the smartest people I know, but no one would ever think that the first time they meet her.  She has been known to desire good marks in her classes because “A is for Ami!”.  She is an intelligent, creative, and committed business student who has travelled as far as Hong Kong to represent the university at case competitions.  She loves hot yoga and dreams of one day making “noseblowing” into an acceptable social convention – don’t ask.  Ami is a firm believer in paying for experiences, not material things.  She once spent a summer living in Barcelona with little money, and when she came back, her hair was falling out because of her poor nutrition.  She believes that lack of money should never be the only excuse for not doing something; if you want something badly enough, you should be able to make it happen.  Ami has felt a calling from California for much of her life and plans to make that move in the fall of this year.

I fit somewhere into this mix of complete individuals, and we have created an incredibly happy and welcoming community in our home.  We’ve had parties, game nights, The Bachelor nights, movie nights, and quiet evenings during which we sit around and talk about life.  I enjoy reminiscing about all the happy days I have passed in this house and with these people. I know I will go on to be happy still, but this will always be a time that has a rosy glow in my memory. It is impossible to look back at every amazing moment that has happened over the past few years, but there are a few mostly recent examples that I will carry with me which illustrate the magical ridiculousness of Slanty House.

We had a house party near the beginning of our time in Slanty.  The night ended with half of the fence in the backyard ripped out and thrown into a fire pit as well as two human-sized holes inside the house.  The next morning, while cleaning up, we noticed a homeless lady in the back yard picking up all our hard-earned cans.  Elyse did not even hesitate – she went right outside and told the woman that those were our cans and we needed the money from them for repairs.

We once went to a Ke$ha concert and Dustin spent the entire time yelling “Ke$ha… you suck!” feebly from the back of the stadium and was met with glares from our entire section. This is in stark contrast to the time that a few of us attended a Capitals baseball game and Dustin spent the game failing epically at making any noise that wasn’t incredibly feeble through his newly-acquired vuvuzuela.  During the last inning, when he finally was able to to pull off triumphantly sounding the horn, our entire section cheered for him.

In January of this year, we made a rule that whenever all six of us were in the same room, we each had to do a shot.  One day after that, all five of us girls creeped into Dustin’s room as he was napping and woke him up by exclaiming “Oh my God!  We’re all in the same room!” and then handing him a shot of vodka.  We eventually started to actually avoid each other in order to evade shots early in the morning or far too late at night.  I think since then we’ve learned to take it in stride and do it when we need to – good karma, you know – but it is always nice when a roommate is out of town and we can trounce around the house without a worry.

Throughout this season of The Bachelor, we often hosted a group of people on Monday nights for the show.  More than watching, we would catch up with one another, eat amazing food, drink wine, and make fun of the antics of Ben and his ladies. A few of us (mostly just Steff and I, and a little bit Ami) also nursed an addiction to Sweet Home Alabama. We would often stay in on Friday nights just to watch the show and would spend half an hour afterwards talking to each other in our southern accents.

Just the other night, many of us were sitting together in the living room and somehow decided that we should figure out the rules and attempt to play True American.  For those of you who don’t watch New Girl, this game is an incredibly confusing drinking game in which the floor is lava, and the names of US Presidents are shouted often.  Needless to say, this resulted in one of the more ridiculous nights we have ever had.

Steff recently bought a Groupon for a photography session and our whole house went together. The photographer thought we were insane, but somehow went along with our every whim. We dressed in black shirts and jeans and brought along funky sunglasses. We did the cheesiest poses you can possibly think of, and they turned out amazingly. We are going to have some wonderful and quirky family photos to remember Slanty House. The only regret I have is that we didn’t do an on-site photo shoot!

From the slanted, creaky floors to the creepy basement, from the wall panel where we have all marked our height to the wall in the basement we have collected guest signatures on, from the the too-small kitchen to the weird non-existent side door, from the “Beer Pong Room” to the “Man Den” (or “Tan Den”), I will definitely miss this place.

Thank you, Slanty House, for giving me these amazing years.  And thank you for putting me in the lives of these amazing people.

Love KG

How to be Happy

What is happiness?  Everyone wants it.  You can’t buy it or sell it, though every business in the world tries to do so.  If it was for sale, it would be the most valuable commodity in the world.  Everyone thinks that money and assets can bring them happiness, but it seems that often those that have the most are the least content in their lives.

I think that people sometimes forget that they are happy.  In today’s world, where the emphasis is always on increasing money and fame and success, it is easy to lose track of all the good things. I almost think that the secret to being happy is reminding yourself about how lucky you are on a regular basis.  No matter how difficult life is, you have to be able to look at the important things – the people you love, the experiences you have had, the amazing things you’ve created – and you have to be able to actually see and believe that you are happy.

It is easy to always look at someone else and wish you were more like them or had the things they do.  The fact is that it is difficult for an individual to know about every side of anyone else’s life.  Maybe they are truly as lucky and idealistically happy as you think, but most likely they have their problems and issues just as you do.  Maybe the reason that you admire them is because they seem to be happy.  And maybe they only seem to be happy because they have embraced the happiness in their own life and experience and they remember to remind themselves how happy they are.

I know that I sometimes forget how happy I am.  But then there are times that I am completely and wondrously taken over by the amazingness of my own life.  It is these moments that we all need to treasure, and it is more of these moments that we need to learn to create for ourselves.

I Was There

As a student in Physical Education at the University of Alberta, with a focus in culture and event management, I took plenty of courses throughout my degree that examined the culture of Canada.  In many cases, these courses had at least a lecture or two on hockey and the importance of hockey to Canadian culture.  This is one of the reasons that I was excited to start my volunteering stint at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships here in Edmonton.

After spending a few months in Hawaii, it has been nice to be able to dive back in to hockey.  And not only hockey, but the best kind: the kind that brings the world together behind a group of young, talented athletes.  None of these guys have truly made it yet, so they are willing to put everything on the line at this tournament.  I look forward to the World Junior Hockey Championships every year, and to be able to contribute and be a part of this fantastic event was an amazing experience for me.

I had forgotten how much I missed spending time at Rexall Place.  The energy of the crowd at these games is like nothing I have ever seen before, and it was an amazing thing to experience firsthand.  I had forgotten the hum of the crowd in the background of everything during a game, and just how loud a goal for the home team sounds in that arena.

I am thankful to have been a part of this event, and all the payment I could ever need was given to me every time each member of Team Canada fist-bumped my 9-and-10-year-old flag bearers when coming off the ice after warm-up.  It was amazing to be able to provide that kind of experience to a few lucky young Albertan hockey players.  It was also incredibly rewarding to be a part of coordinating the giant Canada flag that would make its way around the 200-level of Rexall Place at the beginning of each Canadian game.  People would reach enthusiastically for just a brief graze of the flag.  It was as though by touching this flag, the crowd would all feel as though they were a part of something bigger.  The sight of every arm extended into the air, reaching for the flag is an experience that can only be described as magical.

Stepping back into hockey was the perfect way to dig right in to Canadian culture.  From the volunteers willing to do anything and everything to help backstage, to the fans going all out to support the team at games, to the players that will do whatever they have to do on the ice, so many people put everything they had into this event.  Holding the World Junior Hockey Championships in Alberta is a prime example of a celebration of hockey and Canadian culture.

As some of you may know, the slogan of this year’s Championship is “I Was There”.  I love this slogan, and I love the way it shows how much hockey matters to the majority of our country.  I definitely now have my fair share of “I Was There” moments.  I was there when Paul Brandt sang a flawless, bilingual Canadian anthem – and sounded amazing doing it!  I was there standing in the same room as Bobby Orr.  I was there watching the one-and-a-half sections wide by ten rows tall Canadian flag make its way around the entire arena.  I was there at ice level watching our flag be raised after Canada’s first win of the tournament.  I was there when Petr Mrazek of the Czech Republic became a crowd favourite in a Canadian arena.  I was there, chatting with the kids I worked with backstage after their interactions with Team Canada, realizing that this was truly one of the magical moments of this event.

Love KG

To Blog… Or Not to Blog?

As some of you may have noticed, my posts have somewhat lagged since my return to Canada.  I took some time to decide what to do with this blog, and I have decided that I like writing and blogs and blogging, so I will continue to post here.  I’m sure I won’t write as frequently and probably won’t have subject matter as interesting, but I will do my best to post often and to do it well.  A re-vamp was necessary of the theme of this blog, as I am no longer in the warm, sunny climate of Hawaii.  Though with the recent warm weather here in Edmonton, I can’t really complain too much… and hey, with global warming, it’s only a matter of time before it’s a perfect day every day here as well.

So I guess the response to the title of this post is definitely “to blog”.  The next few weeks of my life will be interesting.  I am volunteering for the World Junior Hockey Championships here in Edmonton, spending my first Christmas alone, and starting my very first real, adult job in January.  I’m sure this will all be full of trials and tribulations and interesting anecdotes, some of which I will be able to share here.

And so, loyal followers, I just wanted to let you know to check back, and hopefully I will still be writing interesting things that you will want to read.

Love KG

Oh Canada!

I’m now safely back in Edmonton and in the process of getting settled into my new room at Slanty House.  I was disappointed in the lack of snow in Edmonton right now, but I’m glad to be here.  I spent a few days in Kelowna, during which my mom put me to work making jewelry, and then the two of us made the drive over to Edmonton.  I just love Jasper National Park.

Ooops! Traffic Jam!

Now that I am back in Canada, there are many things I am excited to have around me again.  The following list is in no particular order.

1) My roommates.  It was so nice to feel that I had a place to come “home” here, and fitting in at this house is just so natural for me that many of us agree that it’s almost as if I’d been here all along.

2) Hockey.  It’s nice to be able to see hockey games on TV, and even to see shinny games happening on outdoor rinks.  One thing that I didn’t even notice I missed was seeing people wearing NHL jerseys at all times.  I was walking through the Vancouver airport when I saw a guy wandering around in a Canucks jersey.  That really brought home the fact that I am back in Canada.

3) Fall/Winter clothing.  I love sweaters, turtlenecks, layering, boots, leggings, and mittens.  I was able to wear none of these things in Hawaii.  Which brings me to my next point…

4) Having a full closet.  I’m excited to have more than a few select outfits to wear.  Living out of a suitcase is totally reasonable, but it also gets old after awhile.  I don’t know if I’ll want to touch any of the clothing I had with me for a few months.  Then again, I definitely don’t need summer clothing right now and won’t for awhile.

5)  Loonies and Toonies.  I despise carrying around $1 bills, always thinking I have a lot more money than I actually do.  Not to mention, who doesn’t love being able to pay for purchases entirely in change?

It’s very strange to be here while everyone is frantically studying for exams, but I guess that means I have lots of time to settle into my room and try to accomplish things (such as posting to my blog, obviously).

Happy Holidays!

Love KG