Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Flying Outta There

Yesterday afternoon Denise finally got the email from Ross, telling her whether she passed or not. The road to that email was stressful as all hell.

After she had finished her exam, there was the usual self-doubt and concern about passing. I have never concerned myself with this stage of her studies, since her record indicates that she always passes with flying colours. This time, however, there was a difference in her tone. She was genuinely concerned that she didn't pass, in part because she had received her lowest score in Ross just a week before, and in part because of clerical errors on the university's part that put her at a disadvantage. Doubt crept into my mind, but I knew if I agreed with her in her concern, she would have a meltdown, and then I would probably also have a meltdown. So best just put the best face on and avoid this situation.

Not sure if the bloody lady would be Denise or me.

I was really looking forward to the flight out of the island, watching the mountains pass beneath us, listening to my victory music and celebrating. My thoughts, however, went something like this, in repeat, as I watched Dominica slip away

Holy sexy balls we're outta here! Victory is ours!
Oh shit but what if I have to come back?
No, no, of course not, don't be ridiculous. This is it. We're done here, folks.
Well, regardless, we get to go home for the holidays.
Oh yes! Right!
Family is great!
Yes it is! 
Yay for family!
But it'll suck quite a bit if we have to come back in January.
Damnit, we're done here, brain.

We didn't know when Denise would get her grades, but we had an inside source that indicated they would be released Monday afternoon. We had a layover that day in Barbados from 10am to 4pm. The four hours spent before the plane took off was a compulsive refreshing of the email, and a slowly growing tension. We boarded the plane without information, but almost certain that when we landed in Toronto five hours later, there would be a message waiting for her that would determine our next four months. We were each getting more stressed, I imagine her moreso than me, but tried to keep our collective cools because there is unfortunately no internets up in the skies.

We arrive in Toronto and get through customs, transfer our luggage, and nervously make our way to Tim Hortons. She checks the internet as I get a milk and a donought. I watch her with bubbling anxiety. She looks up and shakes her head sadly.

Holy shit did she fail?

"No email," she says.

I nearly keel over. Oh Christ I hate this goddamned university.

Now we have to get on another flight, the red-eye to Vancouver, but we can at least take small comfort in the fact that no one at Ross is going to work past 8pm, so we won't get any news until the next day. The flip side, of course, is that Ross is four hours ahead of Vancouver, so the grades could be up any time after 4am in Vancouver. This means no sleepy-time for Denise.

She woke at 9am, checked her email. Nothing. 10am, nothing. 11am, nothing. By noon, we hadn't heard anything, and I could hear an ulcer forming in Denise's stomach as she had to leave for a doctor's apointment. As fate would have it, Ross sent out the email as soon as she was stuck in a doctor's office with no internet, and her appointment was running late (thank you facebook updates for letting me know about this). I call and let her know they're up, but she wants to wait to check for herself instead of getting me to access her email. So we wait. I turn to her brother, who is in the kitchen.

"This is going to be the most stressful fifteen minutes of my life. You might want to get a camera."

Her brother mutters nonsensically into his chest.

Five minutes later, she calls me in a panic, and walks me through how to check her scores. I open her email. Unfortunately, there's no big bright button that says "YOU PASSED MOTHAFUCKA!", but she walks me through how to interpret the numbers, and I inform her in relief that she has finished her second year of medical school. Jubilations all around, and then I hang up.

Yesterday was the celebration we'd been holding off. We ain't never goin back to Dominica (hopefully). I then proceeded to listen to my victory song. Everyone has one, and if they don't they should. Mine is The Obvious Child by Paul Simon. And oh it sounded so sweet. We're Michigan-bound, ladies and gentlemen.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Now departing

Ladies and gentlemen, we are theoretically* departing tomorrow morning. We will be blawging until New Year's Eve, and then we'll switch to another blog, the name of which will be held a closely guarded secret.

Peace out, Dominica!

*Provided that Liat doesn't fuck with our day, as it has several close friends of ours.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Parents

I’ve begun a new writing project, which started with a thought I had when we last visited Vancouver. My aunt and uncle invited us over for a meal with my mother and father, and as we waited for the dinner to start, my uncle Brian told us a story about his mother getting lost in an airport.

I asked him to write it down for me, and he was kind enough to do so; you can find it at the bottom of this post. It’s a great story, and Brian is a remarkable orator. Stories like his should be written down. And that’s where this project was born.

It’s called Our Parents. It’s a collection of people telling stories about their parents.

Painting by John McLean

At least once a week, I’ve been interviewing someone I know. I try not to look for any specific content before beginning the interview. The only criteria I have is to keep as close to a balance of the sexes as possible, and look for geographical variety. And it turns out that Dominica is a great place to start a project like this, since there are so many expats from all over North America. I have interviewed sixteen so far.

Every time I sit down with someone, I try to cover at least these questions:

-Where are your parents now and what do they do?
-What would dinner with your parents be like?
-How has your perception of your parents changed from childhood?
-Do you have any memories of them that stand out for you?

After each interview, I transcribe much of it, and turn it into a three to five page entry. I do my best to keep myself out of them, and concentrate on the words of the interviewee.

So far I’ve noticed that the people I interview, afterwards, are nervous about the process. “How’d I do?” is a common question. What I’ve found is that while the content is always different in its tone – whether sad, happy, mundane, or exciting – it’s always important to them, and that’s what makes every story carry such weight. Everyone has something to say about their parents that has depth and importance to them.

I hope to start a blog in a couple of months, where once a week I’ll upload an interview. After a year, I hope to offer the stories, as well as a few extra ones, in a book format available for purchase, with proceeds likely going to charity. Stay tuned.

Please let me know if you would like to be interviewed. With the magic of technology, we could record something over Skype, so geography makes little difference. The stories I’m collecting don’t need to be epic in scale; they just need to be important to you.

I’m also keeping an eye on possibly making this more than just a one-man project. If anyone is interested in conducting interviews as well, I think that would create some great diversity. Let me know if there is any interest.

I hope that when the time comes, you’ll come check out the website once a week. I’m pretty excited about this.

Thanks. Here is Brian’s story.

This past summer my mother visited my brother in Vernon, BC, by plane.  Our job was to help her with the transfer from one airline to another en route, to ensure she got home alright.  The flight to Vernon worked well at the beginning of the week. So, at the end of the week this is the story of picking up my mom at YVR main terminal and driving her over the South Terminal for the second leg of her flight home, on a small regional airline.

I arrived early at YVR, checked the monitor, and went directly to Baggage Carousel #3 where the bags from mom’s WestJet flight would be tumbling down to my waiting hands.  As I had time, I wandered over to the baggage agent, told him my mom regularly got confused, and that we had asked for help getting her from the airplane to the Baggage area to meet me.  I asked where the staff was likely to bring her.  He told me they would come down the elevator a short distance from Carousel #3 and I should wait for her there, but they would be the last ones off the plane, should be another 15 minutes.

I waited at the elevator for about 5 minutes until mom tapped me on the shoulder from behind.  She had NOT accepted the help that had been arranged, but had followed the crowd.  When I challenged (chastised?) her on that, she said that although my sister in law had worked hard with the WestJet staff to arrange help for her, she decided she didn’t need it.  However, as the two of us stood waiting for her bag, a fellow passenger came up and said to mom “so you found him did you?”  Mom then admitted that she had needed a “little bit” of help, so had asked people, as she followed the crowd, how to get to where her son was waiting.

But, we had a great visit and she told me how good the visit was in the Okanagan.  We had a long lunch and a great chat at the South Terminal, and talked twice with Martin at the KD counter about making sure that he didn’t send her suitcase on to Toronto like some other agent had done many years ago.  He seemed to take it well.  In fact he was great, and assured me that he would watch out for both her and her bags.  But I was prepared to wait for the rest of our 3.5 hour transition between flights.

However, I got a call from a client in Regina asking where the files were that I had promised by mid-day.  I told him they were all sent this morning before 9am, but he hadn’t received them and needed to have them before he left the office.  So… I talked again to mom who encouraged me to leave (“I have waited for flights before you know”) and to Martin (“don’t worry, I will look after her”) and rushed home to resend the files to Regina.

I was only home for 10 minutes when my sister Alison called from Parksville.  It was her job, as part of the family relay, to usher mom off the 20 minute KD Air flight to Parksville and drive her home.  She called to say she had just come in to receive a voicemail from Mom.  “Alison, I am here at the airport.  Are you coming to get me?”. This is at 3:50pm, 25 minutes before her flight leaves Vancouver.  The call had come from the gift shop at the South Terminal (free call, instead of having to pay at the bank of pay phones five feet away).  Alison asks “What is going on???”

I immediately called KD Air’s head office, which was kind enough to give me Martin’s cell number.  I call.  He says “she is sitting right in front of me.  She’s just fine.  Don’t worry!”  I asked to speak to her, and he turned over the phone.  She says, “I am sitting right where you left me, but Alison hasn’t come to pick me up”.  I said, “that’s because you are still in Vancouver and Alison is waiting for you in Parksville”.  She says “Oooooh, of course…”
I hear her saying to Martin, “I am in the wrong airport, I’m supposed to be in the Parksville airport”.  Then the line goes dead. 

Of course, it is my own fault.  No use blaming her.  I was sure she was lucid when I left, and she was.  Until about 5 minutes after I left her.  The real problem is that now my wife Linda says that “you won’t be trusted with your new grand daughter Abby, you know”.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Victory Lap, and More Odds and Ends.

In the next few days I expect a flurry of posts coming from me, and I'm sure Denise is going to want to catch up on her blawg writing. In the meantime, some odds and ends.

Denise is done. Like, done done. She is now half a doctor. She is Dr./2 Denise Sousa. Expect a long-ass post from her soon.

I've decided to take a victory lap on Island Thrift. After a year of running around the island getting ridiculous documents, with intermittent agonizing breaks of waiting for a fax or two, it looks like the business is going to be starting up in the next semester. It sucks that I won't be able to see it open, but in the meantime, I'll declare victory. Congrats to Nick and Carly on closing the deal, and I hope the business rocks the shit.

I don't know why my arm is like that.

I walk really hardcore, apparently.

I've never taken to nicknames, or rather they've never taken to me. Recently a nickname for me has surprisingly sprung up, and it has evolved. They have been:

Mark McFuckingTie

Mark McFuckingMoustache

Mark McFuckingHaircut

Mark McFuckingAdvil

Mark McFuckingChickenWings

Mark McFuckingOutOfHere

Mork McFookinOotOofHere

There seems to be a trend.

This plane has little to do with what I'm talking about. But I'm a be on it soon!
Our apartment is emptying in a hurry. It's kind of nice, if sterile, and it really hits home how much shit we normally have. It's a strange thought that one day we'll just live in one place and be able throw all our excess crap in an attic. More likely a storage space, though, because neither of us want to not live in an apartment.

Holy shit she's done! She's done!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Basket Ceremony

At the Prep School there's a lovely tradition: since the staff and children rotate so often with the ever changing student body, the school takes some time at the end of each semester to honour departing students and teachers. They're a pleasure to watch, because it creates such great catharsis, as anyone can say a few kind words about whomever is leaving. Denise was there to take pictures and video, but unfortunately it's unethical for me to post videos or photographs with students in them without parents' permission, so we'll have to forego that. I can, however, show the basket and the letters the students wrote.

It's a humbling experience, to sit in front of a community you've been a part of for over a year, and hear them talk about how you've contributed. I can be a pretty talkative guy, and I like to tease, but when it comes to accepting compliments I tend to become shy. I don't know how to take genuine kind words (my instinct is to make fun of everything), so I smile, nod, and say thank you. Afterwards, one of the teachers I work closely with came up to me, punched my arm, pointed a finger at me, and laughed.

"Ha ha! You almost cried! When have you ever been shy? Ha ha ha."

Apparently some of the teachers in the crowd got a kick out of the fact that I was lost for words. It's only fair that I get my comeupance: I talk a lot of smack at the school.

It was a fantastic way to leave the prep school, as I dwindle my hours there. The things that were said were heartwarming and kind. Amongst my favourites would be from a girl in pre-kindergarten, who said "Mr. Mark is a nice boy."

Also honoured was Brandi, a good friend of mine here, for her work with Jack, who tore down the house when he said goodbye to her. I'll miss working with her, and I'll definitely miss working at the school.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Odds and Ends

In the spirit of writing more before we go, there were a few mentionable experiences for me this week.

I went to meet some friends at the one cafe in town, Rituals - about a ten minute walk from my house. It was pissing rain. Like an idiot, I had lost my awesome umbrella up at De Champs, a bar up a very steep hill, and there was no way I was going to retrieve it. Instead, I bought a cheap 4$ US umbrella from the store near my house, and prayed that it would hold. Little did I know that it would look so cool. On the outside, the umbrella is sleek and silver, like something out of the Matrix, but on the inside is autumn leaves! It's also too small. I look hip.

I imagine that my father will tell me it's bad luck to open an umbrella indoors, just as I should be spelling "theater" like "theatre". I'm crazy like that.
When I got to the cafe, I ordered a Java Chip Chiller (the alternative to Frappucinos), a bacon cheeseburger, and a cookie. The cashier took my order, and another worker came up to me.

"Why are you so big, Dennis?" They call me Dennis there, and I don't have the heart to correct them. The chain of events is this: I used to go by myself, then I used to go with Denise. When Denise came they would take her name, but couldn't pronounce it properly, so they called her Dennis. When I started going back alone, they kept calling me Dennis. They don't remember her, though, and always ask her name.

"What do you mean, big? Like I've been working out, or eating too much?"

She laughed. "No, your face, your face is so big now."

I didn't know how to take this. "It might be because I'm about to eat a burger and a cookie and drink a chiller."

She shook her head and smiled. "Oh Dennis."


The other day I was about to go to work, when I saw from our balcony that the sea was choppy. The Caribbean is rarely choppy. It's a very calm sea. So I decided to walk along the ocean to work (admittedly, this is a statement I'll miss saying). I've never seen the water like this. The waves were large and angry, and the sky dark. The water would reach to the top of the sand and into the folliage. I often had to sprint across sections when the waves receded to keep my shorts from getting wet. I really wish the sea was like that most days. A calm ocean is nice, but an angry one is exciting.

Today was the first time this semester that I had to say goodbye to a student for good, because he is leaving the island early for vacation. I guess I have to get use to it. These are kids I've known for over a year, and they're the longest relationships I've forged yet as a teacher. Next week the school will be doing something called a Basket Ceremony, where they sit down teachers and students who are leaving, and everyone takes turns saying something nice about them. At the end, they are given a hand-made local basket. It's a lovely ceremony to watch, and I'm sure it will be lovely to participate in it. I can't wait.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

5 Things I Can't Wait For

  1. Movie theaters
Some things never change. From day one, the thing I’ve missed the most is movie theaters. Everything else here has some sort of passable alternative, but not this. There isn’t a single movie theater on the island, and nothing can compare to having your eyes and ears blown by the big screen while stuffing your face with popcorn and coke.

  1. Beer
A good ale. I think one of the first posts we had here was about how much I miss India Pale Ales. Sometimes I smell something a little flowery, and suddenly my mouth waters for a good kick in the teeth that only IPA’s can provide.

  1. Cafes
I’ve found enough alternatives for coffee down here that I haven’t been missing out so much: the espresso is pretty good, and we make good coffee at our apartment. It’s not great, but it’s not like accepting Kubuli when you’re looking for actual beer. No, what I miss is the cafes themselves. Denise and I used to live in a part of Vancouver with at least five cafes nearby, two of which were open 24/7. I miss that ready-made escapism, a quiet place to read or write or just calm the shit down.

  1. Couches. Like, real couches.
This is something that has been creeping up on me. There are no nice couches here. Well, not many. Everyone I know has these crappy little things made of wood and uncomfortable cushions. Think of a really cheap futon that isn’t actually a futon. After a year it gets to you. I want something I can sink into, curl up in the fetal position with a book with. Mmm.


  1. The cold.
Give me a change of seasons. It’s the great debate between going to Florida or going to Michigan. For most, they don’t want Michigan in January. For me, I could not be running there fast enough. I’ve lived in the longest summer of my life for the past sixteen months, and I’m not a summer guy. My genes tell me I’m Scottish, and my upbringing tells me I’m a Canadian from both the prairies and the mountains, so everything about me needs the cold for about half the year. Please and thank you, I’ll take that icy wind right about now.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Winding Down

Our recent trip to Orlando, to see family and visit Hagrid, created a nice little breath before the final plunge here in Dominica (I'll leave the details of that trip to Denise, in the event that she posts something some day). Of the sixteen months we signed up for initially, we've made our way through fifteen. My calculator informs me that that is 93.7%. Seeing family is always a welcome break, and the trip also provides an excellent counter-point for the next month, a reminder that things are about to change.

Yes. This is the second time I've linked this in our blog. It is that good.

For me, I've decided to look at the next month as as much of a vacation as I can. Several spouses came down here with the mindset of "I'm here, I might as well enjoy myself", and went into semi-retirement for a year or two. Honestly, I'm pretty envious that they embraced that philosophy. I think if I had worked for a few years before flying down here, instead of being in school, I might have also welcomed this more as a break. As it stood, I filled my time with odd jobs and personal projects, so I feel pretty good about taking the next four weeks as leisurely as I can.

I've been slowly easing out of responsibilities for some time now. Island Thrift, which I brought to the 99th yard of legitimacy, has stalled because of a piece of paper (it has to do with pooing in a cup), but is now fully in the very competent hands of its new manager Nick. For all intents and purposes, I no longer work there; or, as I like to tell some people, I'm staying on largely in a 'consulting capacity'. I hope the store will be open before I leave, if only for my pride, though it looks doubtful. My other, more important job - aftercare - I have also been backing away from, as my good friend Ronen has taken the reigns. I have dwindled my hours so that I come in maybe two days a week instead of five now. That's a job that's hard to let go of, because I love it so much, but Ronen is awesomely competent, and it's time someone else took over. The last job I have is assisting the teacher in the Kindergarten class, another job I love, and I'll be going in only three or four days a week until I leave. It's weird for me, consciously working less, but I want to take advantage of this time.

In the coming weeks, I hope to do as much writing as I possibly can (shameless self-promotion: download an excerpt from my book!). When else will I have this much time to write? (Answer, very soon when we're in Michigan.) I'll be writing in the blog more, trying to reflect on the year we had, and talk a little about some of the projects I'm working on. I had originally hoped to do the Boiling Lake hike, but have since changed my mind after canyoning (pictures and videos coming in the eventual post by Denise). Going on the hikes has never had much appeal for me, and I've lost all interest in the gruel of the Boiling Lake trip. I'm certain it's amazing though - it's a mark of pride for those who have done it. I'm just quite content to avoid it now.

There's also quite a few logistical things to deal with in the coming month. I'll be going through the ritual of selling most of our stuff, bit by bit on facebook. I'm pretty late to the game - many of my friends have been selling their stuff for months - so here's hoping there's still some demand. We're selling everything because it just doesn't make sense to pay the money to transport most of the crap we have, and we'll just buy everything cheap again when we get to the US anyways. The other big logistical problem we're having is whether to get a barrel or not; we're pretty sure we can pare everything down to a couple of extra suitcases, and save the stress and money of sending our stuff on a boat. Really it comes down to a debate on the lesser of two evils: international shipping, or airline baggage handlers. Hmm...

You look like an honourable, trustworthy fellow...
The most interesting thing in this entire process is that Denise and I are definitely getting rose-tinted glasses, or whatever you call it. Everything that pissed us off is suddenly quaint. We'll see how long that lasts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

We Like to Party

Last night there was a belated Halloween party in Portsmouth, a fundraiser thrown by one of the Ross clubs. Denise made the strange move of agreeing to attend several days ago, so we went.

Why was it a strange move for her? Three reasons. First, our record indicates that Denise and I are phenomenally lame when it comes to our social life down here. Besides the occasional trip to the bar after minis, I can't remember intentionally going out to a party in Dominica. We're homebodies. Second, it was in Portsmouth, and we rarely leave the nearly-gated-community that is Picard (for me, besides the fact that I've never been too adventurous, it's mostly because there normally isn't a reliable taxi service past 2 am, so why not keep close?). Third, and perhaps most telling, is that it started at 10pm. That's like, really late. I swear to god, we took a nap before we went out. I can physically feel myself aging.

Google tells me this is a dude.
It was a good time, to be honest. The bar opened up onto an outdoor dance floor, which opened up onto the ocean. Many of our friends were there, a rarity when it comes to socializing amongst medical students and their insane schedules, and that made it worthwhile. There was one thing I found strange (I suppose I shouldn't have found it that strange): There were skanky costumes. As in well thought out, expensive skanky costumes like high-quality playboy bunny outfits. This is Dominica. To bring down a skanky costume is to consciously decide not to bring something else in the space you would have in your suitcase. This means that they actively thought to bring those outfits for one night, at least two months in advance, instead of extra sets of clothes. And hey, power to them, but I was definitely not expecting it.

I am getting so old.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Which I Wrote A Book

For those who may have missed it, I recently self-published my first novel, Losing Dominion. If you haven't already, please visit http://losingdominion.wordpress.com/ to read the excerpt, or buy a copy of the book. I'm proud to say that 15% of the proceeds will go to the Alzheimer's Society, so go check it out.

From inception to completion, Losing Dominion took me three years to finish. It began as an idea I had in the middle of the night, and it kicked around in my head for months before I finally put a pen to paper. In the end, I must have gone through almost a thousand pages of writing and editing before I was able to finish my book, sitting at a humble 130 pages. I'm insanely proud of it, with all its strengths and weaknesses. I find that the quote, "Art is never finished, only abandoned," now resonates with me; it wasn't easy to close the book and send it off to print.

I got very lucky in many things for this book to get published. I am grateful that my family was so supportive throughout the process, and that Denise was so patient as I wrote (although in the Acknowledgments section at the back of the book, when I thanked her last of all, she said "well that just shows you don't love me"). I was fortunate enough to have duped Lindsay Vermeulen into designing the fantastic cover of the book, which will no doubt lure in the masses (please message me to contact her for your own graphic design needs). I'm also lucky that I was able to use my grandfather's beautiful painting for the art on the cover. I have brilliant friends who were able to provide detailed, ass-kicking feedback on the original drafts, and that most definitely saved me a great deal of embarrassment. Finally, I am ridiculously grateful that my sister Jocelyn agreed to be my publicist/agent/PR person, and that she carefully crafted the book's publication so that it didn't look like the angsty creation of a prepubescent high-schooler.

The next step is to send the book in to actual publication houses, which I will be doing shortly with the help of Joss. So we'll see how that goes. In the meantime, I hope you'll buy my book. If not, please at least download the free excerpt.

Please check it out. Thank you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

Three years ago today, Denise reluctantly agreed to date me. Happy anniversary hon!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Sign Of Things To Come

October 18th 2011 marks mine and Mark’s 3 year anniversary of non-married bliss.  We have been “debating” over whether or not we will continue to celebrate this date once we get married.  I say YES, because that means there’s one more opportunity for Mark to buy me a present.  Mark says NO because he sucks.  I am trying to space out all gift-giving occasions throughout the year, and failing to acknowledge our October-versarry creates a big, stupid, giftless, almost 5 month hole…

So, given that this might be the last time we celebrate the true beginning of our relationship, we should probably go out for a fancy dinner and a romantic walk on the beach or something like that...  

The expectation...

How do Mark and I actually plan on celebrating our anniversary?   The same way we’ll probably spend it for the remainder of our lives…. I’m in hospital all day, then I have a meeting at night, and then I will get home and be too exhausted to exist. 


The reality...

I told Mark that I felt bad that I didn’t have more free time on our anniversary, and he graciously said that he knew what he was signing up for when I started medical school.  So, the current plan consists of loading up on tasty snacks and watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of Battlestar Galactica.

Hey look!  There's a couple in there being all cozy!  Just pretend that's me and Mark.

Definitely not the most elaborate of anniversaries, but it actually sounds kind of perfect.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gobble Gobble 2011

Semester 4 so far has felt almost exactly the same as Semester 3.  Other than having a weirdo schedule that changes every week, it is overall pretty manageable.  I had my last Mini 1 Exam EVER on Monday….it went pretty well...well enough that I get to pick out an "I got an A" present for myself.  My next midterm is on October 31st (on my favourite non-holiday holiday!).  I wish I was home in Vancouver for Haloween so that me and my bestie Vanessa could come up with some sort of awesome Halooween costume…

Monday also happened to be Canadian Thanksgiving (which is better than American thanksgiving).   This is mine and Mark’s second Thanksgiving in Dominica.  I honestly have no idea what we did last year.  This year though, we pulled out all the stops.  Here is a simple 4 step process for how to celebrate Thanksgiving in Dominica when you are both poor and lazy:

Step 1 –
Get turkey
Mark and I were not about to go out and find and cook a full turkey.  No way.  That’s what moms are for, and neither of our moms were here.  So, instead we just loaded up on turkey-based products.  Close enough.

Step  2 – Get pumpkin
Pumpkin pie is my FAVOURITE pie in the whole world.   Mark hates pie in general, so he’s useless.  Since pumpkin pie isn’t readily available here (there is one restaurant that serves it on Thanksgiving, but we try to avoid this restaurant whenever possible), we decided to just eat pumpkin in non-pie format.  Again….close enough.

Step 3 – Get pilgrims Cook turkey and pumpkin
Self-explanatory, but here's a picture anyway.

Step 4 – Nom nom nom!
Tur-turkey-key monte cristo sandwiches (turkey slices AND turkey bacon) with mashed pumpkin!  Delicious!

As of right now, Mark and I have ZERO idea where we’ll be next Thanksgiving – maybe Chicago, maybe New York, maybe Detroit – either way, it most likely won’t be Canada.  Regardless, I’m sure that Mark and I will follow the simple 4 plan process again. 

In other, completely unrelated news, I currently have a series of countdowns going on my computer:


31 days until Harry Potter World in Orlando!!!!! 68 days until we’re home for Christmas (and off this island for GOOD).
226 days until we get to put on expensive clothes and eat fancy food at our wedding!

This also means that in the next 266 days we will be living in 3 countries…which is bananas.....some people live in the same country their whole lives, and Mark and I are going to cover 3 in less than a year.  Although it is kind of exciting in that I-really-hope-this-all-works-out sort of way, I am REALLY looking forward to the day where we have a home...one home....for an extended period of time....preferably close enough to our moms......that turkey ain't gonna cook itself.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 10

What will you miss when you leave Dominica?

There are lots of little things that I'll miss here, most of which have already been mentioned, but the thing I'll miss that I think is most under-appreciated here is the sweet-ass exchange rate. When I play poker here, we use Eastern Caribbean Dollars (which gives you 2.67 for every US dollar), and so the stakes seem naturally inflated. When I make a ten dollar bet, I feel like a big man. But when I lose ten dollars, I remember that it's really only a little less than 4$ US. It's a win-win situation, where if you win big at the end of the night you feel loaded, but when you lose big, you just shrug your shoulders and remember that it's worth very little anyways. When I go back to North America, I'm going to look like one cheap dude, making quarter bets over and over again.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 9

Has anything made this journey easier for you?

There's a nifty little phenomenon here at Ross, and it applies both to spouses and students, and that is that the community bonds here in a hurry. The population is in constant flux, with people coming and going, friendships and agreements starting and stopping at various points over the four semesters, so the entire place...

(Strangely, the rest of this post has disappeared.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 8

Does your spouse like it here?


Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 7

What is the best meal you've had on the island?

Denise and I actually ate it recently. We accidentally had the best meal we'd had in ages. It was fresh tuna steaks marinated in soy sauce, and rubbed with seasoning salt, then fried to medium-rare. We also made baked sweet potatoes that we doused with butter, and cheesy garlic bread made on six-grain bread.


Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 6

Tell about an "Only in Dominica..." moment.

My God. This one's hard, because I feel like I come across these all the freaking time. I think most of the gems can be found in my blog posts about trying to start a business, and being driven mad by the bureaucracy. The most recent one, certainly not the greatest, has to do with the crosswalk that was recently installed.

For those who have never been here, you have to understand that there isn't a single traffic light in the entire country; cars just make it on their own, and pedestrians scurry from place to place, largely unharmed. Not a pretty system, but there isn't a lot of traffic anywhere, so it's not really necessary. Plus the country has no money, so why spend money on these things?

So, recently Ross built an extra lecture building across the street from the campus, across the "main road" in town, which is really not terribly busy and is covered in speed bumps anyways. Not precarious at all. They've recently added a crosswalk to connect the two buildings. Cool beans, there are children and families and dog walkers and all that jazz, and what's the harm in some paint. I guess that wasn't making the cut, so they installed these colossal yellow crosswalk signs, with frames that blink an obnoxiously bright flashing yellow when a button is pressed on either side of the street. Again, excessive but fine, there're stupid drivers everywhere, and the streetlights here aren't the brightest, so why not err on the side of caution.

The "only in Dominica" part is that Ross now has a full-time security guard manning the crosswalk, whose job is to: (1) notice people who are about to use the crosswalk, then (2) press the button for them. So now it's on all the time. In a country without traffic lights, the one community of largely white rich people has thoroughly invested in a blinking crosswalk sign that can be seen from a mile away.

The overkill protection on what is really already a very safe street is just obscene. Only in Dominica. Or I guess just Picard.

Ten Day Blogging Challenge: Day 5

What don't you miss about home?

It's funny, because I recently posted about the pace of life here being so slow as to stall creativity, but there are days where I don't miss the stress of city life. I've certainly gotten used to a lot more free time; I work four hours a day, and I've started feeling entitled to my time off. A lot of spouses approach their time here as semi-retirement, and while I resisted taking on the same philosophy (nothing against them, especially since several people here just spent many years in stressful careers and want the break; I just haven't worked full-time in six years and I'm itching to get a move on for my own career), I must admit that I've become quite spoiled. I've grown used to waking up when I want to, taking my time on breakfast, enjoying a strong cup of coffee, working at a pretty laid-back job that I love for a few hours, then having my evenings free for whatever I'd like. So while I long to have my own classroom every day, I don't miss all the obligations and stress that come along with working forty plus hours a week.

Goodness. My prairie upbringing is screaming at me right now.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Some hockey predictions.

Obviously I have reneged on my Ten Day Blogging Challenge. I'll get back to that tomorrow, but in the meantime, the new NHL season is upon us, and I wanted to throw down some predictions, so that I can be mercilessly mocked at the end of the year. Go Leafs Go!

Stanley Cup Winner: Washington Capitals

Stanley Cup Finalist: Los Angeles Kings

Presidents' Trophy Winner: Vancouver Canucks (thanks to a terrible, terrible Northwest division).

Worst team: Ottawa Senators (but man, a few years from now, they'll be good, which is more than I can say for the Flames - ouch)

Where the Jets will place: 12th in the East, right ahead of Ottawa, Florida, and New York Islanders (conspicuously, like this year). I hope I'm wrong, as I am now officially a Jets fan. Go Jets Go!

Where the Leafs will place: 9th in the East. I'll spend the season hoping for eighth, but they're in tight in a race with Carolina and Montreal for that last spot, unless Tampa really craps the bed. Egads. Again, I hope I'm wrong.

My hope against hope, unlikely situation: That at the end of the year, both Mark Scheifele (of the Jets) and Jake Gardiner (of the Leafs) are competing for Best Rookie of the Year.