Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to speak Canadian: vol. 4

Hey gang. I haven't done one of these in a long while! This particular volume is going to focus on grammar rather than vocab, some of which is specific to the cape.

First of all, there's a loose grasp of prepositions here, especially in relation to the word "done." When someone is done with something specific, people will often skip the preposition "with." Here are two examples of how we (I) would say it, followed by the way my Caper buddies say it:

"What time are you done with work?"
"What time are you done work?"

"You're almost done with your beer."
"You're almost done your beer."

This is not a drastic change. I didn't even really notice it until recently, but once you pay attention, it's there. I'm not sure if this is only a Caper thing or not. My friend Mark, who is from the Cape, does this most often, but Maile, who is from Alberta, does it from time to time. I'll have to ask around.

My second tip is also going to involve beer. This is a very small grammatical thing, but I'm not sure if it's Cape-specific. When referring to multiple bottles/cans of beer, the word "beer" is treated like "sheep" or "fish." It's not pluralized with an "s." Example:

"I've had two beers tonight."
"I've had two beer tonight."

I haven't picked up on this with anything else so far, so I'm not sure if it's specific to beer. I have friends from Ontario, Labrador, and the cape who pluralize beer in this way, so I think it's more than just a Caper thing.

Last but not least is a Caper thing, 100%. I've been told that grammar in the cape and in Newfoundland and Labrador is treated more loosely than Minnesota and other parts of our two countries. Now, there are quite a few ways in which my Caper and Newfie friends disregard their grammar, but there is one consistent phrase that I hear from all Capers:

"I saw your parents," or "I have seen your parents."
"I seen your parents."

The use of the verb "to see" is almost always used in this way by my more vernacular Caper friends. This is so common that it was actually mentioned to me when I first arrived, an explanation along with "by" and other localisms. This little Caper quirk makes my ears itch, but I can't deny the endearing local flavor.

So there you have it. A few brief grammar lessons from your favorite little expat.

Keep reading!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Dominion Beach

This is what we call a Historical Post, in which I give y'all some pictures from the past. When I first got to the Cape in late August, my friends and I made quite a few trips to a local beach in Dominion. Want some pictures?

Beaches here are different from beaches at home. The first and most obvious difference is the salt water, seeing as Cape Breton is perched on the edge of the Atlantic. Our dear friend Tim, from Ontario, had never seen the ocean before. I've never seen someone dive with such enthusiasm! He made it 25 years before seeing an ocean!

Another difference is the weather. In Minnesota, August means high temperatures and blue skies. The weather was beautiful in its own way, but I'm not used to seeing so much gray!

This photo features Maile and Paige. Paige is from the valley, which is at the other end of Nova Scotia.

We played in the waves for a long time. Seeing as our voyage took place around the time that a hurricane was tearing its way up the east coast, we enjoyed some seriously impressive waves. We've actually enjoyed the effects of several hurricanes since my arrival, usually manifesting as rain and severe wind. My teeny little Swiss roommate has been physically lifted off her feet several times from the force of the gales!

However, eventually the cold drove even the toughest of us to shore. After his leap into the ocean, Tim decided that he wanted to be buried in the sand. So, being girls, Paige, Maile, and I made him into a mermaid.

He took to the role quite well, I think. If you look closely, he even has scales! We combed the beach for flat rocks and decorated him. An integral part of any trip to an ocean beach, I think. Right?

I think we spent two or three days bumming around on the beach like this. We played in the waves and the sand and walked along the beach and skipped rocks and gossiped. I might've made more more if I'd stayed a bit longer in Minnesota to work, but I definitely made the right call in arriving early to the cape. I've never had so much fun!

Pictures from Headphone Disco, Mabou, and Tight&Bright are on the way!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Funny stuff my professors say: vol. 4

It's back.

[Mark Silverberg]

"I've had two daughters. I've lived through all the princess stuff."

"There's all this gross language about him. He's just... gross."

[Jan Curtis]

"Hello, scalliwag." "How are you scalliwags?" "Two scalliwags in this row." (and so on...)

"I caught someone else's bug. It's not mine, but the frog keeps threatening."

"I seem to have suppressed my frog for a little while."

"Yeats's son was a tall, strapping man who had no idea what his father was talking about."

"I wander around Wikipedia and find it useful. I also enjoy finding their mistakes."

"The more you disagree, the more I like it."

"You don't have to believe what I'm saying. Argue with me. Tell me I'm all wrong. I love it."

"He's kind of a Terminator figure in Irish myth. Beowulf is the Terminator for the Anglo-Saxons."

[Todd Pettigrew]

"We hope it wasn't the last thing he wrote, because it kinda sucks. It's pretty lame poetry."

"The rumor is that he partied too hard at his daughter's wedding and got sick from that and died. Let that be a lesson to you!"

"They cut off your head and put it on a spike on the London Bridge as a warning to other criminals coming into the city. Don't f*** with us!"

"Pasta is a dough that you boil. It's awesome! It's ground-breaking!"

"It was a dirty world, Shakespeare's world."

"Of course it all goes to hell, but that's history for you."

"Between knockin' up Anne Hathaway and striding the London stage, Shakespeare must've been doing something."

"He's a bad man because he's being dominated by his wife. This is a renaissance view. This is not my view. Anyone who knows my wife knows that."

"He falls asleep on the street. We've all been there!"

"Now we're on to anal sex jokes! Oh, Shakespeare."

"That came out slightly dirtier than I intended."

"It was like, 'Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?' 'F*** yeah!'"

"As I'm fond of saying, there's no such historical period as 'back then.'"

"A little homophobic joke there."

"Whoa... where's the voice coming from? Oh, the door's open. I thought I was losing my mind!"


This is after only three weeks of class. It's only going to get better.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Stuff that's awesome.

So I've a busy weekend ahead of me. As a result, I'm writing some good news as well as a preview now in order to spawn breathless anticipation of the epic pictures to come.

Stuff That's Awesome
A partial list

1. When I wake up in the morning, I'm in Canada. This means Keith's, Coffee Crisp, Tim Hortons, and, most importantly, my Canadians.

2. I've chosen a topic for my directed study paper. I'm writing about the Hunger Games, which y'all should know is my favorite book series ever. I've been geeking out more than a litte and reading The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Patrick Hicks, eat your heart out!) to analyze Katniss as a heroine on a quest.

3. My roommates are amazing cooks. I mean amazing. Jaime made us quinoa pilaf the other day and occasionally whips together these divine scrambled eggs that taste like heaven. Maile is a whiz at "winging it with the spices," and she made a black bean tofu stir fry the other day that was one of the best vegetarian dishes I've ever had. So yeah. I eat quite well.

4. Tight and Bright is tonight. You may remember this from last year, when I went out looking like Peter Pan on an acid trip. I'm spending the day downtown at the thrift shop Value Village and vintage shop Gala to compile an outfit with a few of my favorite Canadians. It's the roomies, of course. Last year's winner, Tim, is joining us, and we're hoping to absorb some of his victorious tight-and-bright aura to give some oomph to our ensembles. Last but certainly not least is the ever-so-delightful Kyle Capstick, who rocks $3 Value Village sweaters like nobody's business. Today is going to be great.

5. Lumière is tomorrow night, and my roomies and I are volunteering! It's an outdoor art festival of sorts. It's supposed to be absolutely freezing, but we get free toques for volunteering! It's going to be an absolutely wonderful cultural event. I can't wait!

So there's a brief synopsis of my life events. I'll post pictures and such as soon as I can. Keep reading!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Food for Thought

Of the many ways in which I've been blessed, one is the fact that all four of my fabulous grandparents are still living and kicking around in various parts of Minnesota. Grandma Katie, my paternal grandmother, celebrated her 80th birthday yesterday. My roommates and I serenaded her with an off-key rendition of that good ol' birthday song before she and I had a very enlightening conversation.

For the record, the relentless conquistador does read this blog... so here's your feature, Gran!

I was telling Grandma about how much I love Cape Breton and how happy I am here, and she said, "You know, Maggie, I think Augie's going to be a major letdown for you in the spring. Other than when you were running that new student orientation stuff, I've never seen you this happy at college."


That's kinda all I said. "Huh. Yeah."

Now, I have a confession to make, and Gran, I apologize for this. I'm one of the younger cousins on either side of my family. Growing up, I always felt slightly overshadowed. The older, funnier, cooler, braver (cockier) cousins did the cool stuff like college etc. first, and so I didn't think my milestones were as exciting to my grandparents. I only realized recently that all four of my grandparents see me as an individual, not just one of a grab-bag of grandkids.

Grandma Katie knows me. She knows that I'm different from my siblings and my cousins. She knows my favorite things and remembers what I was like as a child. She knows ME. And thus I realize the gravity of Grandma Katie's words: "You're happier in Cape Breton."

I think she might be right.

I'll be honest with you guys. I've been thinking about staying. Sure, Augie's great. I absolutely adore my professors, I have some fantastic friends, and I was only a few hours away from home. But here...

Here there is a cultural experience that Sioux Falls simply cannot match. Sydney is unique. Halifax is amazing. The school's residential community is loving and inclusive. My professors are funny and challenging. My roommates are incredible. The alcohol attitude is healthy and the campus bar is unbelievably fun. And yeah, so maybe there's this really great guy, too. But I mean it. I am so happy here.

I don't know yet if I'm transferring. But Gran's observation made me think. If my eighty-year-old sharp-witted grandmother, who I see only a few times a year, can pick up on the range of my happiness through blog entries and phone calls alone... well, that's saying something.

Happy birthday, Gran. I love you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deja vu.

A short time after I arrived in Cape Breton in January, I developed a sty in my eye.

A short time after I arrived in Cape Breton in August, I developed pink eye. I have a satan cornea. At least the red matches the Canadian flag.

I've spent the day quarantined in my apartment, unable to attend class. As a result, my apartment is spotless and the counter is playing host to the cakes I've made for a birthday celebration tonight. Mark is 24 today, and Maile is 20! We're having friends over for drinks and sweets: a nice, quiet evening.

Anyway, I need to go squirt polysporin into my eyeball.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sparknotes: My Second Semester at CBU

Hey gang! I've been a horrible slacker who hasn't posted for months, so here I am!

I've been back since the 27th of August, and a LOT has happened since then. I wouldn't dare try to summarize my adventures in a single post, so they'll come in doses. For now, here's a Sparknotes edition of what I've been up to.

Living Arrangements

I am no longer living in Harriss Hall! I have migrated to Cabot, which is a campus-owned apartment building just across the sidewalk. I share a four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment with Maile, Jaime, and Kendra. You may remember mentions of the first two from last year. Kendra, a first-year from Baddeck, was randomly assigned to our apartment, and we love her.

Apartment living is just about the best thing ever. We each cook supper one night a week, and so far, we've enjoyed lentil soup, stuffed peppers, hummus pizza, fancy macaroni, and more. It's going to be one delicious semester!

In the photo: Maile, Jaime, and me at the recent Headphone Disco. Maile is 5'10"-ish and hails from Calgary. Jaime is 4'8"-ish and comes from Switzerland. The height differences in this picture are not exaggerated.


I'm still studying English! Here's a list of my courses:

1. Modern American Fiction. This class has only five students, and our professor is wonderful. We've read The Awakening so far, and I am often reminded of just how much I love fiction.

2. Celtic Literature. This class is taught by a woman whose favorite word is "scalliwag." She addresses us as scalliwags on a regular basis. It's awesome. We also read about fairies. What's not to love?

3. Middle English Literature. My professor reads us poems in Middle English. And we're going to do an in-depth study of the Canterbury Tales. Very high on the happy-geek-o-meter.

4. Shakespeare. I truly love Shakespeare. His life is fascinating, and he is truly a master of the craft. Also, my professor reminds me of one of my favorite English profs back at Augie.


Here's just a list, but I'll provide pictures and stories later.

1. Trips to Dominion Beach
2. Silk-dyeing workshops in Mabou
3. Headphone Disco
4. A good deal of tasty food

My apologies again for severe slacking. There will be volumes of "Funny Stuff My Professors Say" and "Real Canadians" in the future.

Keep reading!


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What am I doing?

Hey gang. I haven't posted in almost a month. Here's a few updates.

1. I'm home! I've been in Plymouth for a week and a half, and it's still weird.

2. I start work tomorrow at Redleaf Press as their editorial intern! I had an interview a few days after I came home, and I got an email shortly thereafter offering me the position. There was much jumping and shrieking on my part. Since then, I've been building my Grown-Up Wardrobe so I can impress my new bosses. The best part? Redleaf's building is located in - get this - Little Canada, MN. Fitting, eh?

3. I will hopefully be starting work at Ann Taylor soon. I'll find out tomorrow if I got the job.

4. I am counting down the minutes until I can head right back to Nova Scotia.

That's all for now. Don't expect a whole lot of action around here until I ship back out. In the mean time, have a wonderful summer!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Funny stuff my professors say: vol. 3

The third and final volume... for this semester! Click here for volume one and here for volume two.

[Mary Keating]

"I have to get off that tangent. I've been watching the news too much... Imagine a world where children only learned science and math! No one would speak!"

"I'm not sure what I want to think about this morning."

"I only know this because my mother dragged me to a seminar on satanic culture."

[Ian Brodie]

"Well, I grabbed that turtle by the face and squeezed it for all it was worth. New expression. Copyright: me."

"Why do I always use documentaries from the mid-eighties as my examples?"

"Don't say it's similar. It's similar in the way Cape Breton and Newfoundland are similar. Fisticuffs!"

"He's buried there if anyone wants to go spit on his grave. But hey, he's handsome!"

"So for the couple of days leading up to lent, party like it's 1999."

"It's Newfoundland tasteful. It's Cape Breton slutty."

[Richard Marchand]

"I mean, he's murdered all these people, but what the hell? He's a nice guy underneath."

"I actually had - I stand here as witness - a Captain Hook dream."

"Her parents were smoking up after supper, and she was really relaxed when she went to bed."

" 'Girls are much too clever to fall out of their prams.' Ha! Sexist pig!"

"I once bought a pair of cowboy boots at a garage sale for twenty-five cents, which suggests that they were really trying to get rid of those boots."

"You had to do it with gusto. Follow the yellow brick road, dammit!"

"The time-gods are generous... for once!"

"It was like a law. Not a law, a commandment! The eleventh commandment!"

"I wore britches. It was like the uniform of boys ages eight to twelve. Why, I have no idea."

"Wow. I spent eight minutes on the word 'gables.'"

"If you gave an eleven-year-old girl three glasses of beer, she's be under the table. At least she'd better be under the table..."

"I had a slate. Not that I used it in school. Those were before my time, I hasten to add."

"His kid said, 'Tell me a story, Daddy!' What else do kids say? Nothing."

"Oh my god, equality! You're turning the national upside down!"

[Anna Daniels]

"We have to honor the relationship we have with Katherine... Ha! It sounds like we have to marry her because we got her pregnant."

"Laughing time is over."

"You're an English major, Maggie. You live for transitional phrases."

"Why don't you just wrap the individual children in foam?"

"He has a PhD now. The guy who put gravel in his pants and ate glue."

"I'm sure when the wheel was invented, some people were like, 'I don't want to get involved in this shit.'"

"That sounds like a delicious sandwich."

"Despite the fact that his facial hair is hilarious, he was a brilliant man."

"I don't want you to have to think up some crazy banana car on the exam."
The time has gone too quickly... but next semester will come soon enough!

Keep reading!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Things I (don't) Miss

My dearest friend Becca, whose blog is found here, has been doing a mini-series about things she misses about home. I'm copying her.

Things I Miss

1. Target

We do have Walmart here, but it's not the same. I grew up in the metro area that houses the Target headquarters. I have my loyalties.

2. Izzy and Wedge

Pictured at right. Izzy is the poodle, Wedge is the fat cat. They are guarding my brother, Sam, as he recovers from an appendectomy.

I haven't so much as seen a cat since I've been here, and the only dog is a guide dog, so I can only pet him on occasion. I am starved for furry companions, and I am very excited to be back with these critters for the summer.

Since he's featured in the picture, I suppose I can admit that I miss my brother, too. And my sister, even though she isn't pictured.

3. Free printing

Actually, the entire Mikkelsen library. The CBU library isn't a total bust, but the printing is expensive, and the book collection is limited. Also, the study rooms aren't as nice, and the study tables are usually housed in dark corners. I miss the sun-washed great room of Mikk.

Things I Don't Miss

1. Communal bathrooms

At Augie, I shared toilets and showers with 30-odd girls. Here, I share with one. What's not to like?

2. Friday classes

I have a three-day weekend. If my Thursday class gets cancelled, I have a four-day weekend. One extra day to do homework and dedicate myself to my studies... and by that, I mean goof around with friends and watch movies.

3. American attitude

In the states, we believe that we are better. There is this undercurrent of superiority in everything that we do. You don't find that here.

People here are more accepting. Yeah, sure, they give me crap for being American, but they don't truly look down on anyone. And I love it.

Looking back, my priorities are very clear. I wrote the most about my dog and cat.

Keep reading! Pictures tomorrow from Devon's birthday!