Sunday, July 24, 2011

Anatomy of a Disgusting Throatee*

I've gotten pretty lazy about shaving this year. Before moving to Dominica, I switched from an electric shaver to razor blades, and now I like to use higher end shaving cream with a shaving brush (Denise compels me to point out that she bought me the nice shaving cream and badger brush. Thanks hon). Part of this was because the electric shavers were always crapping out on me, and partly because I liked the idea of shaving old school. There's a meditative quality to shaving slowly, it clears my thoughts, even if only for a few minutes, and it's one of the few activities a man can do in which he carefully takes care of his body. I feel like it's the masculine equivalent of women moisturizing.

Fine stuff.
When we moved from our old apartment to our current one here in Picard, it made it far more difficult to shave. Our bathroom sink doesn't provide hot water, so I have to shave in the shower, which has no mirror. The pleasure has largely been taken out of the process, because it's either not delightfully warm, or I can't look at my own lovely face. So I shave less now.

The result is some pretty gross facial hair. I was not blessed with the same genetic qualities as my older brothers, both of whom are at least capable of growing a beard. However, because I'm stuck on an island, I decided to grow out what I have just to see what happens. Strangely, this is being done with the blessing of Denise.

I'm about three weeks in, and here's what we have. I've been shaving my upper lip, because it looks pubescent, and trimming the soul patch, because for some reason it's been growing rather fast, and also looks disgusting. Yesterday, I decided to start growing the mustache too, just to see how it compliments the rest of my impressive facial hair. Anyhow, here it is:

Gross right? Evidently, I can grow a mean throatee, but my cheeks are sadly barren. Every day I struggle with the desire to shave it all off, or to leave it another month to see how it looks then.

Shame, really. I've always wanted a beard.

*Throatee is copyright Daniel Cozzuol.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Quest for a Perfect Watch

For a couple of years now, I've been searching for my ideal watch. Right now my watch is a slim Stuhrling, which is very nice and I'm very fond of it, but I bought it as a stop gap until I find the one my heart is set on. It is also falling apart, since I live in Dominica, and everything falls apart here far more rapidly than in North America.

(Anecdote: There is a theory that Dominica literally speeds everything up, including relationships. So, if you're a couple who've been here for four months, by the end of it you're where you would be after a year: either stronger or further apart. It's like a pressure cooker.)

I get the sense that the search will take years, and so in the mean time I look for happy mediums. Meanwhile, listed from most important to less important, here is my list of criteria:

1. A slim case. Ideally, between 4-6mm.

2. Leather band, preferably brown.

3. White or cracked marble face.

4. Roman numerals or, if unavailable, notches. Absolutely no regular numbers.

5. Slim long and small hands.

6. A second hand.

7. The date, though not the day.

Below is the closest I've come. The only reason why I won't buy it is that it doesn't have a slim case, which is a deal breaker.

Of course, I won't invest a ton in anything right now, mainly because I'm poor, but also because anything I bring back here will get damaged.

So, if you see anything like the picture above, but super slim, please give me a shout.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Epic Hockey Game, our Return from Pagua, and Visions of an Unlikely Future

Before I delve into our three nights at Pagua, a quick note: my hockey team - We Boned your Mom, After we Wined and Dined her, and we Don't Plan on Calling her Back - played an important game yesterday evening against Get in the Van we Have Candy. Our two teams are always at the bottom of the league, but we seem to have a very similar skill set, and a rivalry has kind of formed between our two teams. Basically, whomever won this game got to go to the playoffs.

The first ten minutes was neck and neck, with no goals scored but some good give and go. Then we scored three goals in a row. By half time, we were up 4-1. We held them off pretty well for awhile after that, but after a few remarkable plays by their leading ladies, they tied it up 4-4. Then we pulled ahead 5-4. And with one minute left, they tied it 5-5. With the seconds winding down, neither team wanted to risk losing, so the ball kept getting iced. The game was called a tie, and the ref informed us that the next tie breaker in the standings would be whichever team scored more over the entire season. In this category, Get in the Van we Have Candy had a small but significant advantage. After some discussion, however, both teams decided to go to overtime, for a conclusive victor. And two minutes later, our own Arthur, the man who had never played hockey before this semester, scored the winning goal for We Boned Your Mom, and we declared a 6-5 victory after what was honestly one of the most exciting ball hockey games of my life.

Next stop.

In less exciting, more relaxing news, Denise and I just got back from a weekend at Pagua Bay. For those who have never been, Pagua Bay is one of the nicest hotels on the island, and it has an excellent restaurant. One of the greatest things about spending a few nights there, is that the owners spare no expense for quality: in Dominica you get used to the second, third, or fourth best options for most things. At Pagua Bay you feel pampered, and so we spent a weekend there as a break from the grind here in Picard.

Oh so relaxing.

Our local photographer Denise has submitted this to Hollister for consideration.

So white.

So pretty.

Pagua Bay is run by an American couple, who are very pleasant and very interested in making sure you have a great time. As far as I know, the woman's background is that she used to sell fine wines, and the man made a fortune off of some dot com. This is all just word of mouth, though. I guess they started the place more as a project for themselves, since they were more than comfortable.

The place is intriguing, and it reminds me of something my father asked my classmates when he spoke at my graduation: if money weren't an issue at all, what would you do? (Incidentally, one of his favourite responses was an older gentleman who said he would spend all day making fishing tackle.) The concept was something Denise and I spoke about over the weekend, especially since we're both very homesick, and it lets our imaginations run wild. We both agreed that we would start a cafe on Main Street in Vancouver, though we had different visions. I'll leave her to describe hers if she wants to later, but below is a quick vision of what I would do if we were comfortable enough that we didn't need to worry about money.

My cafe would be somewhere on Main Street, which is where Denise and I lived for a year. To be honest, it would be very similar to one that already exists near there, called Our Town. Lots of wood, very laid back, with a good mixture of comfortable couches that you'd never want to leave from, and tables and chairs for a quick chat. There would be two rooms, with the cafe bar in between (kind of like The Grind for the Vancouverites reading this): one very relaxed and comfortable, wherein live performances would happen from time to time (nothing loud, maybe some dude with a guitar), and a second designed for people to study or meet up for a talk. And lots of outlets. We would serve all the usual high quality coffee and espresso, loose leaf teas, pastries, and two or three local beers. The walls would be covered by the works of a local artist, and they would change every two weeks (I like the idea of a consistently shifting aesthetic). My favourite part of the cafe would be a shelf where people could leave or take books as they please, and I could periodically slip in books that I want people to read, or ridiculous trashy ones that are dirt cheap at a nearby used bookstore.

Okay, to be honest, I know there isn't a shred of anything original in my vision. But I want it!

What would you do if money weren't a problem?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Seven Phases of Denise

Like many a natural phenomena, the study habits of Denise have an ebb and flow. After three semesters of consistent exams, I've gotten to a point where I can predict her moods from about a week away. I should be keeping actual data. It's very frustrating for her, because I'm definitely not putting as much effort into pepping her up as I used to; we all know she'll do well, and by now I know what emotions she's going to have soon anyhow. The cycle goes something like this, in seven phases, whether starting from the beginning of a semester or right after a mini:

Phase One: The Honeymoon

No matter how often she kicks herself for doing it later, Denise will slack off in the beginning of the block. To be fair, there's no rest period between exams, so it's important to take a few days to yourself and reset the clock, especially if you're basking in pretty good marks. Regardless, this is the period, relative to how long away the next exam is, where Denise is more likely to shrug off studying and watch a movie, Skype with friends, or get caught up on wedding planning. Again, it's hard to blame her for doing this (she genuinely works insanely hard), but she always, always regrets this phase by the next one.

Phase Two: The Self-pity Period

Daunted by how much work has piled up while she watched Wife Swap on TV, Denise wallows in self-pity for a few days. This is because she'll dabble in studying a bit, realize how much she slacked off, and enter paralyzing anxiety.

Enter Mark.

This is where we have the conversation (I swear to God, it's the exact same conversation. I'm thinking of taping it and playing it for her next time), where I remind her that she's super smart, and that it's not as much work as it looks like, and once she makes a study schedule she'll see that it's doable and she'll calm down. This is where she'll nod vigorously and then sigh, the realization of how much work there is to do becoming apparent.

Phase Three: The Disappearance Act

By far my least favourite phase, and the one to which every spouse can relate. After three semesters, she's figured out her perfect study schedule, and this is the time when she rocks it: wake at 8am, study till around 11, eat and relax, take a nap, do light studying in the afternoon, eat dinner, and then hardcore studying from around 8pm to 2am. Night time is her forte. This is where she gets on a roll, starts catching up, and becomes a lot more robotic. You can definitely tell the days when she hasn't spoken to a human being, because she doesn't make much sense, and giggles at absolutely everything, whether it's an animate object or not.

Phase Four: The Panic 

This occurs when she can easily count the hours until the exam, so about four or so days before. Even though she'll be on or only slightly behind schedule, she'll feel as if she's nowhere, and she'll curse herself for ever allowing Phase One to happen.

Enter Mark.

This is where we have yet another conversation which I might as well record, wherein I remind her of how smart she is, and how she's almost done, the end is nigh, her record shows how well she does, etcetera etcetera. This talk takes a little more convincing, but inevitably she essentially gives herself the exact same talk I just gave her, she gives her head a shake, and gets back into it. This'll happen every single day, sometimes twice.

Phase 5: Fuck it

The shortest of the phases, this can range from the night before the mini, or two minutes before, but at some point Denise realizes that everything that could be done has been done, she can be no more prepared than she is, and she simply steels herself for the test.

Phase 6: Uninformed Aftermath

Thanks to Ross' stupid new system, which paradoxically takes longer to inform the students of their marks despite it being electronic now (dumb dumb dumb), this phase lasts about a week. Until her marks are posted, Denise's emotions gradually slide from "meh, whatever, it's done" to "holy shit I failed, we have to go home". The sooner the results come the better for my sanity, as her predictions get more and more outlandish.

Phase 7: Informed Aftermath and the Transition back to Phase One

When the day finally, FINALLY arrives, and she gets an email with her mark, the cycle is thereby fulfilled. The result is always good, and often great - an unimpeachable fact that she somehow forgets every time Phase Four rolls around. Her mark is usually accompanied by a giggle, a shriek to celebrate, then a very very phoney humility.

"I did okay," she'll tell me.


She did great.

She always does great.

And so we celebrate, and she relaxes, until she's well into Phase One again.

Only one more semester of this. If anyone is interested, here is what her life looks like in graph form:

Good God.