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(no subject) [Thursday, November 10th, 2011, 11:41 pm]
Xian
SO. MUCH. FOOD. Oh God. All of it so good, but it's just too much to eat. This week has been super unhealthy. It might be hard to go back to Vancouver and not have amazingly delicious food all day all the time! But better for me. Lots of gym and climbing and clean eating when I get back, is the plan.

I just watched Il Conformista and wrote my analysis exercise on it. I actually really like this film! The last couple have been sort of boring, but this one was... intriguing. It wasn't so much about Fascism as more a psychological case study. Hey, maybe I've discovered an affinity for Italian art-house cinema.

Leaving for Phuket really early tomorrow morning. Exciting! Looking forward to it.
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NEWS [Saturday, October 15th, 2011, 10:42 am]
Xian
I FOUND AN APARTMENT. Signed the lease yesterday, I'm moving Tuesday. Joe is coming over to help me pack today. I was planning to move on the 1st, but this place was available for the 15th and there were 10 other applicants so... I took it. It's in East Van, about a 10 min walk from Commercial/Broadway skytrain, 15 mins to the climbing gym, on the 99 B-line route. Commute to SFU is only about 10 mins longer than my current commute and everything else is better. It has windows and normal height ceilings and appliances and plumbing and all those other things, it's like a place that real people live in! That neighbourhood is full of slummy basement suites because it's so popular, finding a decent place in my price range is like... I don't know. Fate.

I had a really strong climbing day yesterday too. Did a 5.8, 5.10a, 5.11a, 5.10d, 5.10b, 5.10d, 5.10d, 5.11a, 5.11b. Apart from the 11b I think I had about 4 takes the entire night. This "resting" thing really works! (I'm attributing climbing success to skipping weights in the morning).

Joe's company had a party on Thursday to celebrate the release of their latest game. Brooke didn't want to go so Joe asked me - "everyone has to do their part to make it not a sausage fest," he says. He's so charming.

Totally preoccupied with moving. I hope I don't accidentally fail something at school while I'm doing this.
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(no subject) [Friday, September 23rd, 2011, 09:31 am]
Xian
SO BUSY. I have been reading non-stop to keep up with things. Figured out that I average 350-500 pages a week over two classes - that's a decent sized novel! Except much more dense and less intuitive. And then APART from that I have this whole other research seminar to keep up with.

I haven't lifted weights at all this week. I wanted to rest up for Skaha, especially my knees, which gave me trouble hiking last time. But I did make it to the climbing gym on Wednesday night and didn't do anything below a 5.10c, after a shorter-than-usual warm-up!

Tuesday I finally got all the errands I'd been meaning to do on Sunday out of the way, stopped at Joe's to drop off some chocolate cupcakes and play with baby, who was feeling kind of cranky and having a bad baby day. Every time Joe left the room he'd start fussing and making sad noises, and then I'd distract him with something noisy or colourful. So he'd get kind of engrossed in it and calm down, but then Joe would come back in the room and he'd start fussing again because climbing Joe is like the best thing ever in babyland.

I stayed a little longer than intended, and then the wait time at the clinic was ridiculous, so I only had an hour or two to spend at Jess's. But it was really good to catch up and it felt like we had so much to talk about.

After that I went to see this apartment which turned out to be really nice. Spent an hour chatting with the two guys who lived there - seemed like we really got along. But when they called me back to say that I could have the room, I realised that I was really envisioning living in Jess's apartment. So I said no. I really hope Jess's thing works out.

Wednesday was a very long class, discussing all the stories that people had found in their various alternative media sources. I went through all of mine - all the issues from the past year - and culled the stories that I thought were relevant, but turns out next week we have to find more. Maybe I shouldn't have been so comprehensive the first time. I guess I'll just go do it again. On the plus side, have the go ahead to research CETA and Mincome stories for the first report. Those two are my top two anyway - for some reason I just can't muster up interest in the others. First Nations issues especially are hard for me to get into - I think because I'm a foreigner and don't have any feel for the relationship between modern Canadian society and First Nations culture.

So excited for Skaha!! Just one more class to get through, some reading, then I can forget about school (mostly) for the weekend and climb things and hang out with Joe and climb more things. Also, turns out Jamie is heading out with a couple new friends too, so we can meet up. :D
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(no subject) [Wednesday, September 14th, 2011, 09:01 am]
Xian
After climbing on Sunday Nissan and I went to Spitz on Main and 29th for burgers. I hadn't been there before, they have a neat DIY thing where you put together sauces and toppings for your burger. I got hummus, their special sauce, hot sauce, tomatoes, sauerkraut, and a couple other things that I forget. I was too interested in the condiments to pay much attention to the fresh veggies. Hummus on a burger! How exciting.

Monday I went to the gym and benched 75 for 3x5. Had Pete to spot me so I felt more confident. A couple weeks ago 75 seemed so impossible. I'm wondering if I should add weight again for my next workout. The minimum increment in the gym is 5lbs and that's a lot to add to bench at once. I've been meaning to make/get fractional plates but that probably won't happen by Friday.

After that I ran a whole bunch of errands, was reminded of how rude and unhelpful the people at the print shop on campus are, did some shopping, and somehow managed to exchange over 200 texts with Joe through the day.

Yesterday I had a job interview at this little cafe off Main and 4th. I really hope I get the job - it's just part-time with very few hours but I like the vibe of the place. I think it went well!

After that I went to Cliffhanger. Wanda and Brian weren't there and I wound up making lots of new climbing friends! I also bouldered for an hour or so, and I never boulder. Tried a few problems that I couldn't finish, kept at them, finished them - and was rewarded with this feeling of satisfaction quite unlike anything you get from climbing routes. So that was new. But my hands started hurting way faster and harder than they have in a while, because bouldering easy problems means large holds, lots of surface area, and lots of wear on the skin of your hands, whereas all the routes I've been doing lately have small, crimpy holds.

In the evening I met Joe at Foundation for nachos and beer. The nachos at Foundation are seriously epic, even the small is... not small. I used to think that I wanted to go and try eating an entire plate on my own, but I'm starting to revise that opinion. I was STARVING yesterday, Joe thinks he ate more than half the plate, and when we were done I was Way Too Full.

But that didn't stop us from making a miniature lemon meringue pie when we got back to my place! Although that is slightly disingenuous, because the day before I'd already made and baked a pie shell with lemon curd in it. The plan was to make little lemon tarts but my pans were deeper than I thought they would be and there was a good inch of space above the curd. I was considering putting meringue on them to turn them into miniature pies (because no one makes lemon meringue tarts, it's lemon meringue pie), but was too lazy. Joe to the rescue! He stubbornly ignored my electric mixer in favour of whisking egg whites to soft peaks by hand. I was in the shower so I missed this piece of madness and everything turned out well. The other three pies had already been disposed of piecemeal the day before, but the last remaining one was transformed into a tiny, perfect, fabulously tasty 4" lemon meringue pie. Now I need to remember what I put in the lemon curd so I can replicate it.
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(no subject) [Sunday, September 11th, 2011, 04:26 pm]
Xian
I am being so active! Climbed on Tuesday and made it to the gym three times this week. I've also been stretching and added another block to my oversplits. Will have to remember to start measuring it in inches or some other less ambiguous unit.

I've stopped stressing about the apartment search and am just going to let things happen as they will. I've retracted my notice so I can stay on at my current place if I want to. My landlord is pretty flexible and easy to talk to, so it doesn't have to be a huge deal. Although I have been looking at apartments and they are universally dismal. So far, at least.

School started this week and I am psyched for the semester, if a little intimidated. There's mountains of reading! About 5 to 8 journal articles per week, plus research for my news analysis project seminar. One of my classes also demands a weekly presentation instead of just doing it once a semester and forgetting about it. Ohhh well. Lots of other things to keep in mind too, mostly to do with scheduling.

Went to Jenn's birthday party on Tuesday. It's been a while since I've hung out with VRCG people so it was really nice to see everyone again. I made a birthday cake - yellow pound cake with lemon curd and swiss buttercream. It was well-received!

And speaking of cake, I reserved a bit of cake-things to finally make tiny cakes, which I've been meaning to for a while. This batch was a bit of a proof of concept. I wanted to see how the method I'd thought of would work. Answer: pretty well! Pictures will be forthcoming. They were about 2 inches across and adorable!
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(no subject) [Tuesday, September 6th, 2011, 11:21 am]
Xian
Had an excellent weekend, but don't feel like writing about it in much detail. So here's what I did:

Friday
2pm: meet Tina and Kelly at King George skytrain
2pm - 4pm: kill time at Kelly's while she packs... very... slowly. Played with the Murphydog and sampled strawberries from Kelly's garden.
4pm - 10pm: drive to Penticton! Road trip! Kelly is full of stories about everything along the way because she's lived in a bunch of places along that highway. Beautiful scenic mountain highway. Stopped at Eastgate where there is a petrol station with a diner attached to it, in the middle of nowhere. Kelly's old boss owns the diner. We had delicious bumbleberry pie and bought some of the "best samosas in the world" (Kelly's rec). More 90s tunes and driving later, we pull into Penticton at 9.30 at night, just in time to hit the Safeway before it closes.
10pm - late: Meet up with the boys at the hostel, eat some of Mike's bacon lasagna. Chat over a few beers and make plots for the next day before going to bed. We have a 6/2 bed split and I wind up in the boy room with Mike, Owen, Geoff and Nick.

Saturday
After leisurely breakfasts at the hostel we head out to the crags! But first we stop and buy a Skaha guidebook. They were out of stock at the gear store but I managed to find one in a used book store down the street. Walking through the farmer's market is also fun.
At the crags I take Tina and we climb at Another Buttress near Redtail, a shortish wall with medium grade face-climbing. I lead everything, Tina top-ropes. Then I climb it again to clean the gear. Tina is feeling sort of unfocussed and doesn't want to learn to clean gear. So after a while that gets old and we hike over to Redtail to meet up with some others. Acquire Mike, Nick, Joe Wong and two newbies that Joe had brought along. Do more climbing. Nothing over a 5.9 I think. But it was a lot of fun. Just spidering up easy routes outdoors can be very enjoyable.
We head back to the hostel in the evening and get started on dinner. I warm up my giant bag of frozen chilli, Geoff makes cornbread, Nick makes Hainanese rice, there are chips and beer, and everything is amazingly delicious. Afterwards we hang out in the dorm drinking wine and talking.

Sunday
We have a vague plan to go to the cave... after some delays at the parking lot Geoff and I head out on the alternate flatter route because it will be kinder to my knee, which started twinging oddly the day before. It takes an hour and a half to hike to Cave Hill, where the climbs are less than amazing. Messed around there for a bit before the others showed up and then we hiked around to the cave. We started out with 9 and people opted out eventually until it was just me, Joe and Geoff. The last time I went caving was in New Zealand in 2005. This cave wasn't anything like that one, there were a lot of tricky traverse spots that definitely felt like climbing. Couldn't have done it without my climbing shoes. We brought a rope with us and used it to rappel or build ladders in spots to make it safer, but still did a lot of cool climbing. We went in backwards from the recommended route, which I think made it a lot harder.

After the cave we meet up with the others and then hike back to the parking lot. It takes two hours. Exhausting day. Head to the lake after. I borrow Owen's swim trunks because we don't want to go back to the hostel, and we make it to the lake just in time to catch the last rays of sun. After a brief dip in the freezing water we get out and dry off in a chill wind and get some hamburgers from the festival BBQ stand to tide us over till dinner. There's a bit of a show where they're giving out prizes and stuff from the climbing festival, and then afterwards a band comes on. Delhi to Dublin and they are some kind of fusion Indian-Celtic music that winds up being very good.

At the festival we also meet up with the rest,of the VRCG group and the Project Climb people, and Athomas's daughter Fiona makes an appearance (she was sick the previous day). She runs around giving everyone hugs... also she tells me that I'm her best friend, which is super sweet!

We get back to the hostel around 9 or 10pm, dinner is chicken masala and chickpea curry courtesy of Owen. Also brownies and ice cream. We found the tub of ice cream from our LAST trip in June, still marked with my name on it, waiting for us in the freezer! After that we hang out in the TV room watching videos off Owen and Mike's iPhones - some of the funnier stuff from our climbing trips.

Monday
Geoff lets me swap cars with him because he cut his ankle in the cave the day before and it was kind of swollen. So Mike, Nick, Owen and I head out to the crags to squeeze in some climbing before heading back. It turned out to be the best climbing day. We did two 5.9s and a 5.10a and 10c at Diamondback. They were really neat climbs, I felt like I actually had to use some technical moves. After that we hiked over to the Fortress and managed one last climb, a 5.10b that went 25m. Those were the hardest climbs I've ever done outdoors and I was pleasantly surprised. But then we had to head back... I felt like I was just getting warmed up and wanted to stay another 3 days.

Beautiful scenic mountain highway again on the way back, but far too dozy to appreciate it. Texted people where there was cell reception to pass the time. Joe (not climbing Joe) did an 8 hour motorcycle ride along the same highway, and we both agreed that it was indeed a beautiful scenic mountain highway. He suggested that we do a weekend+ climbing trip some time. He gets to ride his motorcycle for hours and hours, I get to climb things. The prospect is very pleasant. I want to do it like RIGHT NOW, he doesn't think he'll be able to schedule things before the season ends and I'll have to wait till next summer. Oh well.

Joe is having a busy couple of days too, yesterday he did an 8 hour motorcycle ride with Selina and today he's climbing at Area 44 with Avi! But first he came over this morning to surprise me and it was very nice, although I was surprisingly unsurprised.

Today I think it will be rollerblading and then climbing. Classes start tomorrow!
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(no subject) [Sunday, August 28th, 2011, 11:29 pm]
Xian
All this climbing and stretching does me good.

Saturday I was planning to sleep in, but woke up before 9 and couldn't get back to sleep. I was having Mike over for dinner and didn't have much to do in the morning so I got some groceries and then spent a leisurely few hours Stepford-ing it up - washing and drying spinach leaves and cutting them into convenient sizes, toasting pecans, pine nuts and sliced almonds, slicing a pepper up into nice even matchsticks - made a delicious salad of spinach, toasted nuts, a yellow pepper and some strawberries, accompanied with crumbled goat feta and a simple honey and onion vinaigrette. I like to keep my salad dressing simple, use my favourite olive oil and balsamic and really let the flavours shine through.

I also made a lemon tart with my favourite French-style pastry (made with melted butter! No need to roll it out!) except I took the time to brown the butter, which I usually don't do because you have to babysit it pretty closely. Lemon curd was made the slow way too. The tart turned out beautifully. The pastry has a nutty, sandy texture and is sturdy but melts in your mouth. Looks like browning the butter affects not just taste but also structure. The lemon curd was divine, I now understand lemon desserts! Darn you store-bought lemon bars for making me think I didn't like lemon treats.

In the afternoon I went climbing with Tina and it was really good to see her again because it'd been way too long! Our schedules just failed at meshing up properly. Also met a couple new people at the gym.

Dinner with Mike was very nice! I got home from the gym at a pretty sane time despite running a couple of errands on the way home and picking up a giant steak (the butcher was VERY obliging and I wrote him a complimentary comment card). Salted the steaks, took a shower, put some laundry in, and even had time to pack for today's climbing, and then got in a good hour or so of decompressing on the couch with a good book before Mike came over.

Climbing today was neat! Or should I say, not climbing. We didn't get out to Lighthouse Park till about 1pm or so, and wandered around semi-lost for a while so by the time we got to Juniper Point it was closer to 2pm. Pretty crowded, but we made an anchor on a tree and I lowered Joe and he climbed up. Those 20ish words describe a process that took about an hour - looking at the rock faces, looking for the bolts, thinking about where to set up, a little bit of whining about the heat, lying on the rocks with my eyes closed... you get the picture. It ended up being a little bit sketchy so I didn't bother climbing it myself. It was a lovely day, sunshine, amaaaaaazing view, comfy perch belaying under the tree... leaving on a good note is always nice, so that I actually want to go back!

After Lighthouse there was a bit of driving around and getting distracted talking about ridiculous things, and then we went and found Coyote Crag, which is this little roadside crag off Cypress Bowl Road. Just a big old hunk of rock standing by the road. We hiked up, fought some blackberry bushes, set some things up, started to rappel, realised that there was MUCH BETTER ROCK a little ways to the right, so tore down and re-hiked and re-set and re-everythinged before finally doing one climb. Neat climbing, lots of cracks and features, but it ran out at the top, and there were lots of loose rocks. Joe pulled out three very substantial rocks and after the third he decided to give up on it as a bad job.

Aaaaand that was pretty much my climbing day! Not much actual climbing, but it was fun to explore things and do a bit of problem-solving. Also a gorgeous day. Went to Joe's parents' for dinner after climbing. His dad has taken up shrimp-fishing this summer so we had steak and shrimp and I came to the conclusion that being the son of a shrimp-fisher is not a bad gig at all.
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(no subject) [Saturday, August 27th, 2011, 12:24 am]
Xian
Feeling back to my normal self again. I was a completely over-emotional mess the last few days, in hindsight it all seems ridiculous, especially the relationship angst. I am just kind of meh about it all now.

Been going to the climbing gym consistently this week although slacking off on the weight-lifting. Climbed with Sayaka yesterday afternoon. She's really good! But so unassuming. She was on-sighting 5.11bs. It's really inspiring to climb with her, it makes me want to work harder, because she just goes and DOES THINGS quietly and determinedly.

Newish roommate has been extra-dirty this week and it's really making me want to moooove. But I'm reluctant to give notice when I haven't got a place, and I can't get a place unless I've given notice. The way the Vancouver rental market is set up, it's a bit of a catch-22. October 1st would really be the best moving date though, not a lot of other things going on then. Craigslist is a bit of a wash too, I should really just take a notebook and go for a walk. Especially because there are very specific neighbourhoods that I want to move to.

Today I went for coffee with redhead Jess, and then to a smallish birthday party with Leslie (not roommate)'s Irish friends. Forgotten how nice it is to meet new people! Lovely people.
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(no subject) [Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011, 11:01 pm]
Xian
I went climbing with Pete today, and Phil B. joined us! It was Phil's first time at the gym - he was looking for something a little less high impact than contact sports on the advice of his doctor, post LASIK surgery. Unexpectedly bumped into Mike Bain and two other acquaintances. They're usually evening climbers so I was surprised to see them there.

The gym has finally put up a bunch of new routes and I was so excited to get to do them. There was a crazy reachy 5.10c that I gave up on, but I also did a couple of new 5.10ds, maybe some 5.11as? Can't quite remember now. We climbed for a good three or four hours but I didn't feel tired when we were done. Ended on a good note. I do remember trying out the 5.10d by the water cooler that Dan L was talking about and found that it was a lot of fun.

I'm excited to get back in the gym regularly, have been neglecting it for outdoor climbing. Something very calming about the precision and focus of climbing in a gym. Maybe I could get the same effects by climbing at my limits outdoors, but I'm too chickenshit... I stick to routes that I know I can do without even breaking a sweat.

In other news, I've found a project for the handspun yarn I bought at the Bellingham farmer's market a couple months ago. It's a little ruched semi-circular wrap with a simple stitch pattern and I think it's going to showcase the yarn beautifully. It's a gorgeous yarn - deep leaf green with notes of brown and little glinting specks in it if you look closely. Like taking a walk in the forest.
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(no subject) [Monday, August 22nd, 2011, 10:42 pm]
Xian
Feeling a little bit isolated for being alone all day after spending the last 5 days with incessant human company. Takes a bit of adjusting to. You can tell because I'm feeling compelled to express myself SO LOUDLY. ALL OVER THE INTERNET.

Kor just asked if I wanted to go to Phuket in November with him and Nicole and a friend of his. On one hand yay vacation, on the other Phuket is boring. It would be lovely to get to know Nicole a little better, but since I don't know her at all it might be a little awkward. But she would be my sister by then! And the last con is that I was planning to spend that break getting a leg up on learning to drive. That concludes my tangled little list.
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