Hoorah for degrees that take 8 months to complete. Now I have a month to study for three comprehensive exams in June, a month and a half off, then round two where I have to rewrite (and pass) any exams I failed the first time. Then it's four sweet years of smooth PhD sailing. I figure that if by then I'm still enthusiastically in love with being a student then there's got to be something horribly wrong with me. I'm hoping that somewhere between now and then my priorities will rearrange themselves so that "having lots of free time and being able to do just about whatever you want" is at least a few notches below "wanting to earn more than $15 000 a year".
My friend Christine quit her tedious-and-meaningless-but-extremely-well-paid job to take a two-year trip to China, SE Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Here is a recent anecdote entitled "Times I've been held for Ransom":
It was 2 AM and there I was, laying on a concrete floor in a bar on Cat Ba island. My Halong Bay trip was taking a turn for the worst, and it had already been fairly shit so far.
The issue at hand was this: at some point in the evening twenty drinks were drank, but not by me or the two Aussie girls (Leah and Nicki) I was with, however someone was going to pay before the bar was emptied out and two Vietnamese waitresses decided it was going to be us. We had been stopped when we got up to leave, having already paid for the four drinks we drank, when they insisted we had paid for nothing and owed about 240,000 VND ($16 USD — more than half a day’s budget!). Ahh, a simple misunderstanding, something that could no doubt be rectified by some calm explanations of who was right and who was wrong. Well it turned out that we were wrong whether we liked it or not.
“You no pay! You stay here until morning and we call police! You sleep on floor!”
What happens when you combine my greatest interest over the last nine years (hip hop) with my current fascination (cooking)?
Rappers' Delights. I picked it up from the library. The book promises recipes from all of today's hottest hip hop superstars. Flavor Flav, Yo Yo, MC Lyte, Hoes With Attitude (HOES With Attitude?! Now I've seen everything!) and a group called Immature, which includes three kids around the age of ten, dressed like Slick Rick at his gaudiest. Don't get me wrong, you've got some legends in here - KRS One's recipe for broccoli with melted cheese sauce, Erick Sermon puts in a good recipe and so does Heavy D.
The recipes really vary in terms of quality of instruction. For example, while some have step by step instructions and precisely measured ingredients, Flavor Flav's Rice Pilaf ingredients list goes like this:
A bag of rice
Your favorite stuff
And the only recipe is written in his jerky, halting rhythm of speech peppered with many "yeeeah" and "Y'know what I'm saying"s. Later in the book there's a quote from Chuck D saying that Flavor is a liar and he never cooks anything himself.
I'm looking at this book and the whole colourful, fun, jubilant layout and I'm thinking, damn, hip hop used to be fun. Even the tough guys are giving their recipes, here. Nowadays, you wouldn't see 50 Cent's Lemon Chicken or The Game's Beef Stew. Everybody's too tough.
Then I have a look at the publishing date. 1998! I start thinking back, were these rappers still big in 1998? No. No, 1998 is when I started listening to rap and I remember who was big at the time: Puff Daddy was huge, DMX, Jay-Z was getting big, Wu Tang Clan and Method Man were big, Busta Rhymes was big, Ice Cube was making sort of a comeback. That means there was a major gap between writing the book and getting it printed. It was hokey and out of date by the time it got to print.
That makes me think of my own journey with hip hop and how I got in after the good times. The fun times at least. Anyways, I plan to make at least one recipe out of there. Too bad there are no dishes from Redman.
So it's exam time over here in Queen's University (one tomorrow in fact). And after that, no more Queen's. The different is already apperent as the requests for money have already begun to trickle in. But that's not how I roll. Ask not what I can do for Queen's but what Queen's can do for me. Now I can't get any scholarships per se because I'm leaving. However, I just got an email listing prizes that I can submit an essay to (or, more accurately, cajole and/or browbeat a prof to submit it). The first one wants an esasy of "particular literary excellence." Now, I haven't written an historical essay of "particular literary excellence" this year. In fact I don't think I've ever written an essay with "particular literary excellence" in any subject so I think I'll let that one pass. The next one is for military history for a seminar. Now, as it happens, I have just written an essay on military history for a seminar. It was on atrocities during the English Civil War, which creates a weird mental state. Because on one hand they're atrocities and thus bad, but on the other I need them for my essay. So I'd read about the massacre of a hundred defenceless soldier's wives after Naseby because they were thought to be Irish and my first reaction is "Awesome! That'll go great in my ethnic hatred section!" (My second, more human, reaction was of course: "How has this not been turned into a song by The Decemberists?" But it's probably not that great. The last history one is on peace and neutrality resolving conflicts and I have one on Chinese foreign policy with regard to the Vietnam War which is about peace/neutrality only in so far as China didn't openly fight the US. But what the hey, I think I'll submit it (along with one for the woman's studies prize where I'll send by "16 Military Wives" essay). Will I win? Probably not. But why not try?
Not even trying, apperently, are the abstinence crew at Harvard. It's ironic that they're saving themselves for marriage because the aura of smug self-righteousness would most likely act as an effective contraceptive.
Semi frequent readers of the blog (Cup in eye?) will know that once every few months in Toronto, someone eggs me.
The first time I got got was on College Street in the summertime. Ben and Meghan were thurrr and can attest to the carnage. They got me right between the backpack and the back. Thankfully, it was warm so I could take my shirt off and rollerblade home.
The second time was on the Bathurst bus a couple months after the first incident. The windows were up so everyone was ok. My sister was there that time. I can't say I was the target specifically this time, but I was visible from the assaulter's vantage point.
The third time, the time that proves that I am being targeted by egg-chuckers in this city, happened just last night. Salmon Eye were walking home along St Clair just west of Bathurst at about quarter to two in the a.m. when I hear something that sounds like a glass bottle smashing. After initial stun, we realize we were the intended targets of drive-by egg chuckers! Two eggs are dripping down the construction site plyboard walls.
"What the fuck! It's a fucking egg! How the fuck is this even possible! This is the third time I have had a fucking egg thrown at me in the city of Toronto by a total stranger."
Sam was just as shocked. There was a woman walking ahead of us who kind of glanced around, but kept on going. The eggers did not target her, nor the next woman ahead of her. Salmon Eye talked about how bad it woulda been to get hit. I want to put out a message to all eggers in the GTA, because I know you read my blog and target me. Listen: if you must throw eggs at people for the purpose of nasty prankery, take the eggs out of the fridge two hours before you chuck them. A cold egg is much harder than a soft one and can cause real injury.
As Salmon Eye continued down the street, we saw two guys around our age who seemed fairly drunk, even from a distance. "Are these the eggers?" I thought to myself. Well, no matter, because there's no way we could take them. As we got closer, the one guy in a rugby shirt asks me, "Hey, did you guys get egged?" He had yolk all down his sleeve and some on his shoulder. His friend, in a Queen's University jacket was untouched. The rugby shirt guy showed us his bottom forearm, "They got me right here. It really hurt, it's gonna fuckin' bruise up". When I got back home I noticed I got some eggwhite splashback on my jeans. At least I didn't get a fucking welt on my head.
When people ask me, "Is Toronto a safe city?" I say sure. I ride public transit constantly and no one ever tries to pick your pocket, I've never been stuck up. Girls tell me dirty old men can be a problem, but me, I just have a problem with eggers.
I wonder what Redman would do if someone threw an egg at him?