Tuesday, January 20, 2009

With a face like a mirror and frozen toes...

Originally uploaded by tanisalexis
I tried to get out of here yesterday afternoon to go renew my passport, to no avail. N keep calling and the visiting Taiwanese student kept asking me questions (actually, I really like teaching, but sometimes you just want to leave). LR asked if passports weren't by appointment - which says something about the relative scale of our home nations, and made me smile at the thought. So first thing this morning I took the King streetcar down Roncesvalles, across King to Victoria and went to the Passport Office. It's -14C but it feels a lot colder today. I had to squint at the signs because my glasses fogged up. You must wait in line to be pre-screened and receive a number in order to really wait. Unlike most people, I passed the pre-screening quickly- having done this several times and being able to follow written instructions. I even (of course) had a book to read for my wait. Last time I renewed my passport was in Victoria- where I wanted to hit the belligerent man in front of me, bellyaching about having to line up for 15 whole minutes.* When my number came up, the lady fretted about my photos. She told me in a barely audible voice with a thick Russian accent that the highlight on my face made it look like someone had severed my ear - how charming - and that there was a shadow under my chin! She was good at her job though; she managed to be personable and make me feel like the copy shop had done me wrong, rather than Passport Canada. She gave me a special pass so that when I returned I would not have to wait again. I asked her where was the nearest location I could get new photos and, though she told me, she insisted that I should take the passport photo rejection form and demand my money back from the copy shop.

I walked back down Victoria St to the photo shop and waited my turn for photos. The man said it would be 15 minutes, so I went for a walk and did my banking before returning. When I returned later he said there was a highlight on my face and he would have to take another photo. They had taken three photos before satisfied at the copy shop, so by now I am feeling freakishly pale and reflective. He said they were really fussy about highlights, and I couldn't argue, so I had to wait a further 10 minutes. When I got back to the Passport Office, the man at the front of the pre-screening line glared at me, but was too non-confrontational and Canadian to suggest I was jumping the queue, which would at least have allowed me the opportunity to prove him wrong. However, now I had so many forms I was showing the wrong one to the Commissionaire (who was understandably bewildered with my "photo rejection form" in lieu of my get out of jail free no waiting form). I had to search through my entire purse before I found it, piling random bills, scraps of papers, a screw driver set and assorted oddities into my hat. By the time I got out of there, I was pretty cross, having spent three hours on a simple errand.

I walked by the Dundas Square and was confused by the crowds. There were maybe 150 people there, in the cold, watching the US presidential inauguration on the big screen. I can understand watching, but I couldn't understand watching out-of-doors. Here at work, people are listening on the radio.

I thought about stopping at the copy shop to demand my money back, but by the time I got there I was frozen, hungry and just wanted to be done with this expedition.

When I got to my office, I found my friend Tanis' tree cozy project which cheered me up immensely. In Vancouver, "Granville Street is currently undergoing a redesign. If you've wandered through the area recently you'll notice that the trees that lined Granville Street between Drake and Cordova Streets are now shoulder-high stumps.

The planting of new trees is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2009.
In the meantime, it's January, and those stumps look pretty miserable.
What say we decorate them?"

tree cozy 12
Originally uploaded by tanisalexis

Check it out here and here. Mmmm... street art and trees. Nice. I am quite heartened that someone loves the tree stumps. I love finding unexpected guerrilla urban art; I love that someone cares about the tree stumps. I suspect these trees, like the tiny Chinese vocalist, are simply deemed not sexy enough for the Olympics; but Tanis and her fellow artists love the stumps. The one illustrated is wrapped in a gorgeous piece of textile art.

*Victorians; lovely, friendly people, strangely insensible to living in Canadian paradise, and fond of bitching about Toronto. Occasionally you just want to pelt them with non-existent snowballs.

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