The degree is all done and done, and so I have bittersweetly relocated back to Vancouver after spending two years in Washington DC at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. First, a Vancouver promo about the downtown core:
Yep, I'm pretty bummed about having to leave DC (let's not get into that), but of course there are more than a few things to which I can look forward. Not including the general (and obvious) "friends and family," which I could go on about for much longer than I'm sure anyone would care for, here is a short, semi-cathartic, off-the-cuff list - in no particular order - of the things that I'm happy to experience again here in good ol' Vancouver, British Columbia:
1. Cheap Sushi
Dear God, have I missed cheap sushi. Sushi in DC is either super expensive and very tasty, or super cheap and crap. It's not difficult at all to find a happy medium in Vancouver, and you can still go big and get the fall-off-your-chair-and-start-shedding-tears-of-joy sashimi from the higher-end places. Within a 15 min walk from my house, you'll hit about 20 sushi restaurants, and I'd eat at most of them.
All this being said, I do have to give a shout-out to Sushi Capitol in DC. $35 for a salmon roll and 11 pieces of Nigiri, but man is it good. I spent waaayyy too much money there...But I had no choice! If you're ever in DC, GO TO THIS PLACE.
2. Taking off my shoes in the house
Oh, the comfort. In my 2 years living in DC, pretty much every household was a "shoes-on" establishment. This never made sense to me, and every person out of which I tried to get an explanation left me unsatisfied. Shoes are worn outside, therefore shoes get dirty, and so using them inside makes inside of house dirty! Plus, homes just feel more homey when you can walk around in your socks.
Here in Vancouver, about 99% of the people seem to get the above reasoning. If you go to a party with 30 people, you will find 60 shoes by the door. And you can always go the next level up: Asian, and actually have a separate pair of slippers to wear inside the house. My family doesn't do this, but we still do the no-shoes-inside rule. Seriously, I could probably eat food off the kitchen floor and feel okay.
3. MUCH lower humidity
With the humidity kicking it up, the temperature in DC yesterday was a horrid 43 degrees Celsius. Feels like you're walking around in an outdoor steam room in the summer time. I came back to Vancouver just in time. And you know, I actually appreciate the rain - it's cooling.
4. Getting to meet my Goddaughter
Little Avila is beautiful; she was baptized on Sunday and I hope that I won't let her (or her parents!) down. She will learn to love me...
5. A Cappella singing
I just don't have a lot of friends in DC who love a cappella singing (and I mean more of the 90s and onward R&B style, not the Doo-wop stuff. But that's clutch too. And now with Pentatonix on the scene...). Here in Vancouver, it's fairly common place for my friends and I to get together for the sole purpose of singing/recording. Ka-ching. Even walking down the street will find us spontaneously breaking out into 4-part harmonies.
According to Wikipedia, 40% of Vancouverites are Asians. Xie xie! I love the community in DC, but after being in an American city for so long, I had forgotten how much your particular culture (and in this case, Asian Canadians) affects the way you think about, interact with, and view the world. It's nice to have that common understanding and shared experience among peers.
7. Rice-based diet
Rice is to Asians what bread is to Caucasians. And yep, I did have access to rice in DC, but I didn't have easy access to all the different types of rice. Long grain, short grain, broken rice, white rice (including things like Jasmine rice, Basmati rice, coconut rice, chicken rice). The plethora of different Asian cuisines in Vancouver will easily cover every rice craving I have.
(Actually, that brings me to just how varied the cuisine is here in Vancouver. Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Italian, Greek, Malaysian, Cambodian, Singaporean, German, Indian, Vietnamese...all within a stone's throw from my crib. OM NOM NOM).
8. I get to see mountains again, MOUNTAINS, Gandalf
Vancouver is beautiful, in part because of all of the amazing hikes and climbs you can go on through the mountains. Beautiful to look at, and beautiful to walk on!
One of my favourite places in Vancouver, Theatresports on Granville Island has been delivering quality improvisational theatre since 1980, and is now known all over the world. The starting place for Improv masters like Ryan Stiles and Colin Mochrie, the improvisors NEVER fail to make me laugh.
10. Getting to call it the "washroom"
My American friends got confused when I called that place where you tinkle and take a dump the "washroom;" they call it a "bathroom." "Washroom" just makes more sense than "bathroom," or even "restroom." Think about it: are you always taking a bath in there? Nope. Sometimes the room doesn't even have a bath. Are you always resting in there? Depending on what you ate earlier that day, not necessarily. But I hope to God that whatever it is you're doing in that most sacred of places, you're washing your hands afterwards.
And that's a wrap. That's all, folks. We now bring you back to your regularly-scheduled blogging. Well, I guess I could cap this off with a stunning video of Beautiful British Columbia: