Friday, December 31, 2010

Part of me hates this. I tried to explain it to someone very special to me today as I was saying goodbye, I said, I hate this. The anxiety about leaving. The tiresome being on your guard constantly. The never having a safe place to rest your head; worrying about your belongings; where's my passport panic? But then I told them, this is what I love. This is what makes me tick, travel is my life-blood.
I don't think they understood. We said an awkward goodbye anyways, both of us being unable to leave first. I finally bounced out of the car, muttering: Well, bye then, I'll see you later, even though I knew that it was just habit to say that, that I probably wouldn't see them later.

Once I was through security, it felt like I had returned to my alternate reality that exisits only when I travel. Comforting, thrilling, every second unexpected. My dad had given me one of his Maple Leaf lounge passes to spend my 3 hour layover in Toronto in comfort, so that's where I am now. I rolled in looking rumpled and poor, gorged myself on the free food, and am now sipping a Scotch on the rocks while using their free internet. It's nice to live like the rich people do. I hope that everyone thinks I'm rich. I'll pretend to be a princess or heiress or something.

New Years Eve will be spent in the air on my flight to Munich. I hope they serve champagne. I hope I can stay awake that long.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We cut down our Christmas tree this Sunday. It has become a tradition to drive out to our neighbours acreage, find some spot along a deserted back road, hold down the barbed-wire fence, and hop over. We wander into the woods- everything is soft and cushioned with snow: the ground the pines, the air. My siblings and Keifer and I let the Olds look for a perfect tree; we have exploring to do.

We throw ourselves headlong down deer trails, bumping through the tight undergrowth, trying to dump loads of powder down each others necks. We run far- though it is -15 or something we get warm, not sweaty, but comfortably toasty in our puffa jackets and layers of wool. Once in a while we stop in a small clearing and all lie down in the deep drifts and pretend it's Narnia, or that we are Harry Potter.

Through the trees ahead, we see a change in light. Cautiously, we creep to the edge of the pine trees and peer in. It's a birch grove, full of fallen logs and prickle sticks. There is much more light here, we can actually see the sky. Almost reverently we enter. It's quiet. Well, the whole forest is quiet, but it seems like a friendlier quiet then the oppressive pines. Of course, the quiet doesn't last for long. We are 4 people between the ages of 16 and 21, and soon laughter and screams of protest and singing ring out.

We realize time has passed, and far far away is the road with the big van and the trees.
Let's go back now, says Keifer. We are miles into the forest. They will be wondering where we are.
So we follow our tracks back into the dark, and we run at a crouching level so as not to get brained with a branch. When we eventually stumble upon the adults again they aren't angry, but how could you be with 4 rosy-cheeked, laughing, good-spirited, snowy kids?

We drag our trees to the vans, tie them on, and drive back to the cabin. A fire is going and we make pizza in it, and gluvine (mulled wine), and we dance around the tree hanging ornaments everywhere. It seems pagan, this religious holiday, probably because it is originally, but I guess my Nordic roots embrace it and the celebrating with friends and family, with the "drink and be merry" sentiment.

We brought a tree back into the city with us. It is smaller than the one at the cabin, but still lovely and scrawny and full of character. Those are the best kinds, I've come to realize. Not the most picture perfect or magazine worthy trees, but the ones with memories attached.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I think I want some beach. Some mountain. Some forest. Just a wide open space to get lost in. To swim in, whether literally or figuratively.
Some quiet. That's really what I want: silence.
Golden, dripping and all encompassing silence. Apparently, it makes you live longer. Too much noise cuts years away.
I like sounds. Sounds and light and life are all tied up together. But NOISE?
Shhhh. Please. Just stop talking for a while. Just lie here, breathe my breath, be still.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Weekend

Last night we 3 fought for half the drive; were silent for the other hour. Each was lost in our own whirlpool of self-pity and woe, hurt by the others lack of considerate attention. Personally, I just closed my eyes to the black countryside and tried to lose myself in the music blasting over the speakers- angry, loud, aggressively upbeat music.
We arrived at the farm and were greeted by two large, hairy dogs. Looked more ferocious than they were of course. Walked into the main house and the light and warmth and delicious smells emanating from the oven were just sideshows, appetizers, tasters, compared to the love and acceptance of the older couple waiting for us.
We stopped bickering for their sake, and helped finish up the salad and sat down to eat. The meal went smoothly, with only a few pricks and barbs here and there tossed across the table, sideways, up and down, landing and hitting their target but with no visible retaliation. What was wrong with all of us? Each side of our triangle was fracturing, stretching our ties. It had never happened like this before. Of course we all fought, but never at once, and never with such intensity.

It was warm enough to have a bonfire outside, so we sat in 3 wooden Adirondack chairs pulled close to the flames. It was big; we kept on tossing on more logs so our jeans heated up and burned our legs, and it was here that we really let loose. We each emptied out our bitter poisons to the others, not letting subjects and comments slide, and we said hurtful things that normally we would hold in, that normal people would hold in. But the big black starry sky seemed to draw out the worst in us. Maybe it was the wood smoke, stinging our eyes. Maybe the chill creeping in through our rubber boots and freezing our toes. Maybe the coyotes and the mules making their various sounds, and unsettling us.

Maybe we were all just tired. Maybe it was stress. Maybe none of us had the energy to care enough to wonder that what we were saying had weight, that maybe this wasn't the time or the place to be unloading on each other. Maybe none of us plain old cared about the others. Maybe it was the weather, the more dark and less light, maybe it was "that time of month", maybe we had problems we weren't sharing. Maybe...

My mom has always told me my whole life that nothing stays the same. Things change, people change, you move, you stay in the same city. And you have to adjust to the change, or else you fail at life, basically (Ok, she never used those exact words.). To bloom where you're planted (She has used those words). Most adults I've met through my years aren't friends with their friends from elementary school. Or juniour high. Or high school. Rarely, you find someone who keeps in contact with an old college roomie, a best-friend from university. This never used to strike me as sad, in fact, the opposite would occur. When I met an adult who still had friends from their childhood, it would seem sort of wimpy, small-town and small-minded. But what do I know, right? My views are as twisted, backwards, and messed-up as everyone else's.

So we fought. Before going to bed, smelling of glorious woodsmoke and fresh air, one of them mentioned to me that she felt angry. I told her I felt hollow. Yes! she said, Hollow and empty and mean.
Exactly. Hollow. Empty. Mean. Angry.
Woke up twice in the night to throw on logs to the cabin fire -place so we wouldn't freeze. It was a team effort, all three of us moving in the dark to hold the flashlight, find the matches, toss in the wood and get it started again. We didn't speak. Just stood half-dead with tiredness and prayed that the coals hadn't gone out completely. Stumbled back up the loft ladder.

It was light when we got up and ran back to the main house for breakfast. Pancakes and eggs and bacon. Coffee and orange juice. Good food, warming and filling food, good for your soul food. It helped a little. Each day is a chance to start fresh, a new chance to make things right. We made a bit more of an effort. Before we left after breakfast, we went charging around in the woods for 1/2 hour, scaring partridges and getting mud on our boots, pine needles in our hair, stirring up mist and watching the sun try to shine through a heavy grey sky. We didn't really talk on the drive back into the city, but we had some fun singing along to songs. We didn't say anything of importance.
Maybe we didn't have anything of importance to say.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I remember that it was so hot we couldn't move but we did anyways because we had to catch the night train back to Cairo. Middle of the day, and we had no food and K was stuck in the bathroom and I was grumpy and tired but we went out at noon anyways and walked up and down the dusty main street looking for a supermarket to buy peanuts and ginger ale. Tried to stay out of the sun by sticking to the edges of the street, staying under the awnings, but the heat still dragged us down of course.
That night, instead of being hot we froze in the air-conditioned train, and I pulled out my sleeping bag and slept on the filthy floor with my head under the seat with the trash. Mahmoud called the McDonalds at one of our stops, and so we had McDonalds cheeseburgers delivered at midnight to our train. It was completely surreal.
By daybreak the airconditioner was broken, and I woke from my shallow dozing drenched in sweat as the sun started to pour in.
I wanted to go home lots on my trip. There were quite a few moments when I longed for the crisp Canadian Fall, for bonfires and leaves falling and sweaters and scarves. I would daydream about the wide open spaces of the prairie with the biggest sky I have ever seen, about the unpopulated wild mountains and tundra and the OCEAN. About hiking for weeks without running into another human.
But mostly I just missed my family. If I could have transported them to be with me, I would have. I didn't miss home enough to seriously think about leaving, but the tug of family was like an insurance that I would come home at least for a little bit before leaving again.
The trick is to not think about stuff like that. Keep it locked up in your brain, and don't let your mind wander down that path.

Ugh, I'm feeling restless and trapped again. As the weather gets colder and colder, the days shorter and the nights longer, I feel like I'm in a fight with the door closed. I need that door to stay open.

I remember running around Rome by myself. Sometimes after class I would get so bored, feel so claustrophobic with the same people constantly around me, I would just have to leave. I would catch the metro out to Vatican City, get gelato and fill up my water bottle at my favourite fountain, sit and watch the fat tourists. Once or twice I wandered up and down the Tiber River, but mostly I would just find an old church and sit on the steps with my sunglasses on and write little sketches and letters. Or just people watch. The amount of people passing soothed me. The interesting things you can see if you take the time to just sit and watch!

I think I've lost my spark again. Perhaps it's drowned in the mucous of this horrible lingering cold I have?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Forward, Ho!

(Mars Hill, Athens, July 2010)

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much out of this short period in my life. It was supposed to be an intense work period, a keep-your-head-down and disappear from view for 4 months. Nothing was supposed to be out of the ordinary, I was supposed to get pimples and make no new friends. It was just a rejuvenating period between trips. A making as much money as possible time.

I should know by now. I should be prepared for the fact that Life NEVER does what is expected of it, and to be ready for wild twists and turns. It's what I love about life: the unexpected. The adventure around every corner.

It is a glorious Autumn here. Normally we have 6 feet of snow by now, but it is clear, sunny, above zero during the day. A fresh bite to the air. Smoke from bonfires every day. The geese almost all gone by now, the V's fewer and fewer every week. Christmas is coming. I am learning how to drive a stick shift. I'm settling into my second job, and last week managed to close the cafe BY MSELF without making any mistakes.
I have many new friends, mainly Nice Guy, with whom I watch reruns of Cheers, walk the dog, and cook dinner on Sundays.
I have my "chosen family", ie, K, S, and M, who smoke shisha on the back porch with me, drink martini's, and make going to hundreds of birthday parties on Whyte Ave actually manageable and slightly enjoyable.
Since I rarely get to see my real family for more than a few minutes every day, every time we have an afternoon together, or an evening, it is sweet and special.

I don't know why. Instead of being bored, or having nothing happen, I am content and thrilled by turns. It is good to be home, maybe that's it. Or maybe it's the knowledge that I'm leaving soon, like light at the end of a tunnel. I don't know. Maybe it's because I'll be coming back in May, so there is an end to travelling as well. Everything has an end.

I feel like I didn't really get a summer this year. There was no Christina Lake time for me, no Whistler family gathering, no picnics on the Ledge grounds, no picture taking expeditions. There were no hot, sweaty thunderstorms late at night, no Black Dog roof top extravaganzas. No running barefoot through the fields. Yes, I had a summer, but there was no tradition, no similarities to other summers, no continuing thread that ties my life together. Of course I don't regret it, but I am looking forward slightly to next summer when I can see all the changes I missed this year. When I can go on roadtrips to music festivals, stay up late after work, break a thousand hearts. When I can actually have time and space to process what is happening, what has happened, and to notice the details, to remember the smells, the sights, the sounds. I haven't had time to do that yet with my summer away. I'm worried I'll start to forget things, but I don't have time to slow down and go back over it. I don't have the brain space, the energy, to look back. All my essence is focused on going forward. Keeping my feet under me, like running downhill.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's that witching hour on a Monday night when the whole house is asleep at 2:30 a.m., and yet here I am, woken up and unable to sleep.
I've been having these nightmares lately.
I thought I had grown out of those sweat-breaking, waking you up with dry mouth and a pounding heart type of dreams. The ones that haunt you for weeks, months, and never lose their sense of terror even over time.
But for the past week or so, I'll be dreaming- quite peacefully and enjoyably- and then it will work it's way around to the same scenario. It's winter, middle of the day, with lots of deep drifts of snow. I'll be in the woods, just like the ones where I walk my dog every day, hardly any people just trees and steep banks of shrub. And I'll be lower down the bank just walking, when I'll look up and see this guy in an Oiler's hockey jersey (ok, so that part is kind of funny) slowly walking above me and obviously looking for something. At this point, I always get a whiff of panic, or that something's wrong, and I'll duck and hide behind a bush, staying as still as possible so he doesn't see me. Because it soon becomes clear that what he's looking for is me.
He always gets almost all the way gone, and I think that I'm safe, but at the last minute he turns his head and -impossible! I'm lying there so still!- he spots me. And starts down the bank towards me, and I get up, try to shout for help but- typical- my throat is dry, and I can barely speak. And as he gets closer I see his face: it's ugly, dead-behind-the-eyes, and he reminds me of the boorish louts I encounter sometimes when they come down from working the oil rigs.
I always wake up before he actually gets to me.
Wake up with twisted sheets, t-shirt stuck to my body with sweat, uncomfortable pillow, tense shoulders. Wake up with the intention of never closing my eyes again, of consciously thinking of bright light happy things in order to not go down that road again.
Anyways, I needed to get up. So I wandered downstairs, checked my email, and my dad comes on Skype. He is in Nepal right now, and so with the time difference it was his afternoon. I haven't talked to him since he left 3 weeks ago, so I give him a call. And when he answers I am 5 years old again and sleeping on my parents bedroom floor because I am too scared to stay in my own room. I start crying, and tell him I had a bad dream.
Hahaha, I haven't told him that in a very long time.
It made everything better, but now I miss him.
Come home safe Dad.

Monday, October 11, 2010

(dressed as a wood nymph for a toga-party on Saturday. I wanted to be different.)

So I write this while sitting in a small air-conditioned booth in a Chinese/Western restaurant called Happy Valley Restaurant. It is situated in a very small town called R-, and it is 2 hours South-West of the city. Sometimes I feel very small town and hick in my city, but when I arrived here I felt extremely city girl. It probably doesn't help that K and I are dressed to the nines, in (her) a sparkly, swingy, beaded dress, and (me) in a short ruffled red number. Hair, make up, and heels. I know that this is our Thanksgiving weekend, but it's Joel who's getting married- Joel, as in big, tall, handsome devil who loves to play the hero. Joel who would walk me to my car in the dark every night after work when I was 17, Joel who spent all his student loans on a guitar, Joel who found out I had no grad date for the prom and swept me off my feet at the very last minute. Joel who has stuck by me through thick and thin, eating huge amounts of dinner with my family, and beating me at Guitar Hero even though I had been practicing for months in university. Of course I'm going to his wedding. He's one of my best friends. Even though it's in the middle of freaking NOWHERE. But it's fun. K and I always seem to have the randomest adventures, and we always do it with a sense of humour and openess to experiencing new things that makes these events so memorable.

Life has been busy. It whips by and leaves me startled and bemused at what is happening around me. I'm not going to the university this semester, instead I'm working two jobs- one at my wonderful cafe, and the other at a coffee shop down the street. It is staffed and customered by beautiful, cool, pretentious people. I don't really fit in, but it provides a second income that I desperately need since: I'm going to school in Italy with my sister in January!

Sorry to interrupt this. The wedding last night was a ton o' fun, very small town and welcoming with good homemade food, lots of dancing, and a cute best man (if anything happens further we will call him Prince Harry, since he strongly resembles a better looking version of the British monarch.) to help make the evening memorable. In between the hours of ceremony and reception, K and I bought a bag of candy, a disposable camera, and the October issue of Vogue with which to amuse ourselves. We took wind-blown pictures in our dresses under a stormy and dramatic sky, and with the prairie as our back drop I have no doubt that there will be some hipsterish ones in the lot.

Today I hung out with my cousins who had come up from C-, and this afternoon B and I took our dogs for a long sunny walk in the river valley. B is my new friend. He is a wonderful person, and I feel like I should come up with a better nick-name for him, but I honestly don't know him that well, and I don't know how far I can push things without offending him. In a few minutes he is picking me up again and we are going out to Rob's house for dinner (another co-worker) and I feel slightly nervous because everyone else is so OLD. Like 30+. I am making myself bring forth every ounce of maturity and grace I possess, in order to fit in. But I'll still be me.
Isn't life grand these days?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's All Golden

Smoking a hookah in Cairo. This is what "dirty travelling" looks like: bare feet, henna tattoo on my face, filthy clothes, a hardened expression.
I fell in love with this man while in Rome. He was an artist. And I've forgotten his name.
It was 50 degrees on this day (that's 122 Fahrenheit). We were wandering around the desert in Aswan, Egypt, checking out these temple ruins. It's crazy: you can climb on them, touch them, something you can't do in Greece, Rome, or any other "Western" country.
This is how you save money on a bed: sleeping in the airport. We took advantage of this quite a few times. You just wear warm clothes (air conditioning is not my friend), put a scarf over your head, and plug in your ipod to block out the constant announcements.
K and I settled on this Greek island of Poros for a week to relax for a bit. We found a very cheap room with a KITCHEN= make your own food= save money! So we ate pasta for lunch and dinner every day, and spent our waking hours on the beach swimming in the disgustingly warm water and chatting up the sexy lifeguard. Oh, the things we did for free food and wine.
Me walking along the Tiber river in Rome. I spent August there, living in a convent and taking a university class in Ancient Roman Architecture and Civillization. I actually got to clean up a bit, and felt like quite the local after a while, dodging traffic while crossing the street, never removing my sunglasses, wearing fabulous shoes, and having my regular 11 a.m. cafe et cornetto.

So I had a glorious golden summer. Truly, it was wonderful. But now I am home and it is chilly and foggy and dark. I am almost over jet-lag, and I have seen all my friends. I sleep in my own bed again. I feel torn: I love love love Europe, and it is where I feel most at home. But this isn't too bad either: all of the sudden my schedule is bursting with parties and movies and drinks and I actually have people I know all over the city and it is so NICE to have a Life. Because travelling you know no one and no one knows you and while it is thrilling to be able to be whoever you want and make new friends, it is also terribly lonely.
I am good with loneliness. I even revel in it sometimes, but after 3 months it is good to be around your own friends again. People who you like even though you don't have to. And when I feel loved, I feel golden.
So yesterday I was driving home from dropping off some rain boots at my friends house, and even though this weather is gross, and the people here ugly, and the architecture worse, I felt a huge bubble of happiness in my stomach. Like overbrimming joy. And I'll be honest, I let out a huge scream in the car, just because I could.

Oh, last thing: over the long weekend we had a pig-roast up at our neighbour's cabin. My dad and Hartmoot (neighbour) bought a 100 pound whole pig from the Hudderites, and we spent 2 days stuffing and cleaning and roasting this thing. My brother named it Peggy (cause it's back legs were just stumps) and then on Sunday 70 people came up and helped us eat it. I am not squeamish, so I was the one who got to help ma papa sew it up and stuff. Kind of gross. But I think I am true Albertan now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

It Can Drive a Girl Wild

Cairo- oh! Cairo- is crazy. It can make you crazy. The people, the food, the heat, the smells, the sights the sounds the cars the scams the shopping the river. I stood in the supermarket- and please don't picture a clean white bright light grocery store. Instead, imagine a dark dusty cluttered room with random goods piled to the ceiling- and as I stood there, waiting lethargically to have my bottle of water, can of tuna, and package of peanuts added up on the hand held calculator, I thought to myself how easy it would be to start screaming. To scream loudly, throw my arms over my head and run out into the street, to lay down in a little ball in the filthy gutter and just easy. How simple. It was simplest thing I could do in a city that was anything but.

Of course I didn't.

But when K and I stepped outside on our first walk around, we were scammed within 15 minutes. Come to my shop, he said, while I get my business card for you so if you need any help you can call me.

Ok! said K brightly. Holy cow, people here are so friendly!

Uhhhh, I said, I don't think so. I don't like this. (And of course then I feel terrible for doubting everyone, and for being so negative and wary.)

So we go to his shop. Are coerced into buying "perfume". I refuse, we leave the shop on bad terms after K forks out far too much for the smallest bottle of bath oil possible.

5 minutes after that, a guy comes up to us and asks us what the perfume guy was selling. We get to talking a bit, and since we are terribly lost downtown, he shows us the way back to our hole-in-the-wall pension. He asks if he can see us the next day. I say yes, probably just because I want to have some faith in humanity again.
So we do. We meet him and his friends the next day, and the day after that, and after that. They treat us not so much like princesses as like aliens, weird creatures who need to be shown how to do the simplest thing (crossing the street), and who hold strange views on politics, religion, sex. They feed us regularly, with multiple coffee breaks, and take us to parks, on boat rides, to concerts.
Nothing is too small for us to try, and to get excited about. No fruit stand goes unsampled, and when you say you love the sugar cane juice, then watch out: you are about to have 5 more bought for you and lined up waiting for you to gulp down.

A whirlwind experience. And then K and I went to the desert for a week, and rode camels, swam in the black oily Nile, which made our bodies look greenish brown. We saw-we climbed- we touched some of the oldest monuments of civillization. There was none of the Disneyland tourism that the pyramids/the Aya Sophia/ the Blue Mosque/ Athen's Acropolis/ Vatican City/ Sistine Chapel had. It was just THERE. In the desert. Being turned into the sand that had formed it.
Dust to dust.
Ashes to ashes.
Everything was hot and empty. Haunted, more likely just slipping into being forgotten. Outside the realm of people whose minds are focused so much on the present's nit-picky details and bright flashing lights, there exists these remains of a time when things- no, people- were bigger and grander.

Bigger, grander, and crazier. More mad. Maybe it's these lasting effects of madness which afflict me in Egypt. They cling to me and won't let me be. More likely I'm just tired of the sun and stares and kind of want to go home.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When a Week is a Lifetime...

SO much can happen in such a short time. I don't have the space, the memory, the words to put down all that has happened since our dig broke up on July 4th and I met K in Athens.
We went to Turkey. We met 4 Swiss boys on the overnight train to Istanbul, and we got to talking, and we found out we were all staying at the same hostel, sleeping for cheap cheap cheap on the roof. Too bad it rained 2 out of the 3 nights we were there. A bit wet we all were. The Swiss boys were our Knights in Shining Armour (sorry Postman, maybe next time) and we hung out like a tangle of puppies every day, galloping around and eating cheap kepab and taking the ferry across and lying exhaustedly on the green shady grass of the university.

We smoked far too much shisha, and got treated to Istanbuli hospitality and a heap of free stuff, and we also got ripped off and scammed and yelled at in the street.
I like Turkey.

Then K and I said a stoic farewell to the boys and Istanbul, and bussed down to Selcuk where we swam in a mandarin orchard below Ephesus, and hitchhiked for the first time. The air is dusty in Turkey, as though curtains of dust and history hang between you and the present. But I felt so solid, so limited by my humaness, yet thrilled at the concreteness of it all. Does that make sense? In Greece it's different, clearer, and more magical. I like Greece too.
The last 2 nights we spent on Samos, getting burnt to a crisp on the beach and luxuriating in the wonderful luck we had in securing our own private kitchen suite with roof top terrace for half price because we had met people who knew the owner. From beggars to princes. And we lay naked on the roof and drank wine and ate chocolate, and laughed at what people might have thought if they were looking but it was dark, and I told K that as long as we knew we weren't lesbians, then everyone else's opinions can go to hell. My skin hurt too much to wear clothes, and so I damn well wasn't going to wear clothes.

Sweaty we arrived in Athens today, flying out to Cairo tomorrow. The ferry was 9 hours long, in the sun... I feel like I have been hung out to dry, but first all the liquid in me must be evaporated, painfully, by burning. We walked through a police protest in Syntagma Square to get to this internet cafe. So thrilling. I love love love life on the move. We have met many cool people. And this is only the first week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

It Rained

Today it rained on the mountain, and drove my trench members and I into hiding under a tarp that was covering a pile of rocks. I looked and Lyle and Arthur crouching there in the mud beside me, shivering, and we giggled. We pulled the edge of the tarp all the way to the ground so that we were completely invisible to sight and waited silently for Our Fearless Leader`s yell of annoyance. Which isn`t quite fair, since Tristan is the best trench leader I could ask for. But we have never had rain before, and it makes the dirt quite impossible to work with.
This is what I`ve learned so far: everything is screwed up. Rocks are more important than people, and I can now read very much into very little. I can wash pottery, and spend an entire day sweeping dirt off of dirt. It is like the book Holes, where you spend the day digging in the hot sun without really knowing why, and when you find something unusual you are rewarded with a treat, like a cold beer.
But I love it. I love it`s backwardness, the dirtiness, the thought of finding something cool.

Saturday night is our night off. We started at 4 in the afternoon with sangria on the steps of the school in the sun, laughing and singing to ABBA, and waving to the farmers driving by in their tractors. And flagging down the shepherds and giving them a glass of wine with fruit. After dinner I really wanted a moped ride, so Arthur talked one of the village boys into driving me around in the dark, and I laughed at the wind in my hair and the wild dogs chasing after us. Then we all went to the soccer field and we played a wild, Dioynicitc game of chase and soccer and dancing all in one. And we lay in a heap and star-gazed, and Our Fearless Leader was there too and that`s why he is the best.

I love swimming. Us girls swam for hours and lay on the rocks, and the Albanian boys thought we were AUstralian, haha. The water is almost too warm, and the rocks burnt the soles of our bare feet, and our tan lines are hilarious. We picked garbage out of the Aegean Sea and closed our eyes and pretended to be dead, and the salt dried in waves on our backs and legs and then we were mermaids with seaweed and a wild look in our eyes.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Ahhh the first time I get internet and I hungrily devour all connection with my past life. Here, I'll run you through a quick schedule of my days:
5:00 a.m. wake up and crawl out from underneath the mosquito net and sleepily pull on my long pants and boots, and sunscreen up.

5:20 we load into the vans, and drive for 15 minutes as far as we can out of the village and up this mountain. Then we hike in the semi-darkness for 30 minutes up the rest of the mountain- when we reach the top we have a quick breakfast of coffee and spinach pastries- and down the other side, to where the site is.

6:00 a.m. we start digging. my first day i uncovered a nail, some big bones, lots of pottery and roof-tile, an astragalis (knuckle bone used for games), some melted lead and such. My trench leader, Tristan, was impressed with my haul because normally its nothing so exciting. I was thrilled all day long. Every day after that has been less and less stuff I've found, and today my coolest thing was a bit of moulded outerware which had some dolphins and leaves on it: i wanted to pocket it but thought maybe that wasnt so cool.

8: break, reapplication of sunscreen

8: 10 back to the trenches

11 another break

11:10 back to the trenches

1 we clean up, and haul everything back up and down the mountain.
then lunch when we get back to the village.

5:30 we meet with our trench teams and discuss what we found, etc.

8 dinner

10 we are mostly asleep.
thats all i have time for. the people are nice, and the food is excellent. i am well, not too burnt, but its very hot and sunny every day. we are filthy by the time we descend since the dust and dirt we are digging blows and sticks to the sweat and sunscreen.
oh, and the young boys in this interent gaming spot are trying to get justine and mine's attention by shouting every random english word they know in our direction. a little distracting!

Friday, June 4, 2010


I like this place as much as it likes me. Still adjusting to the heat, but it is glorious to sweat again. Wandering around with new ami Cain, and it is nice to have a boy because I get bothered less. Lay in a park today from 2-4, and actually slept and it was like a, hushed, damp, warm. When it was a bit cooler (or so we thought) we climbed to the top of Lykavittos hill: we were too cheap to take the funicular, so we climbed the many stone steps.
It was hot, very hot still, and I had a lovely cherry red complexion by the time we got to the top.
Cain: "You look a bit, I don't know, sweaty. And red." (He is Mexican)
Me: "Yeah, I know."
Cain, a little concerned: "Want some water? Here, have my seat. You should sit down. And you should drink some water."
Me: "I'm fine! Seriously, honestly, I'm good..."
"Are you sure? You are very red."
"Yes, I'm sure. Ok fine, I'll drink some water."
But the views were beautiful of the city and the Acropolis, and there was a cool breeze.
Tommorow we are going to the Sounis, close to the ocean, and seeing the Temple of Poseidon. And the next day I take my train out to Thessaly.
Eating much Greek food, and drinking lots of retsina. When I am enthusiastic about things, they give them to me for free. It's nice.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Elope with Me

It became too much, then, and the air was full of ribbons of emotion and alcohol and regret and thankfulness. I had known, deep down, that I would see him again before I left. It was fate.
And so I let it slide, or I tried to, but the bitter and immature feelings that rose up manifested themselves in the form of grabbing Matt's leg as he sat beside me in the booth, and he understood perfectly without any words passed between us and he slung his arm around my shoulders and pretended to by my boyfriend for the night.
K let the cat out of the bag by revealing that I was leaving, and I was glad she did because I wanted him to know without my having to say anything.
But I recovered fast this time, you know? No major wishes for the ground to swallow me up, and it didn't feel like a thunderbolt.
I believe that one day it won't effect me in the slightest.
And that my polite and friendly act will be sincere.

And the next evening after all my goodbyes, I drove to the top of the cliff and sat on a wet bench and cried. And watched the storm clouds roll over the city, and watched the car lights grow brighter and the river valley grow darker as if to mimic my mood: less and less shades of grey, more and more complete highlights and intense darkness. I didn't cry over what I had lost; I cried selfishly out of fear for what lay ahead, cried because I loved le Terrible but not in the right way, cried for delicately built friendships that I took for granted, cried because I was tired of being brave and strong and independent when I just wanted to curl into a ball and have someone take care of me. I didn't weep. A couple of tears escaped, but that's all. I shivered in the damp wind, and thought how strange it was to have snow in what was practically June.

I think I'm half way gone already. I've cut the ties, burnt my bridges, packed my bags. You can see right through me, vaguely, if you look hard enough.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I feel ill today. But I will probably just suck it up, go to work with a smile, and win a million hearts. My friend S wanted me to have a good-bye blog post, but the truth is that I will probably keep this, up-date it once a week when we get a chance to have internet, and share some of my adventures. If I don't get a chance to do so, then I will definitely be back in September.

I remember... I remember so little these days. I try to focus in on a memory but it eludes me, the sights and smells and sounds evade my thinking. I need a strong memory to pull me back in, but today those strong memories are just not appropriate to share.

I remember... I came back from 6 months of being away. It was the end of August, and I didn't want to meet up with friends desperate to get me back in the loop. I wanted to recover from jet-lag, and my own house was full of renter's for the summer, so I stayed with family friends. I slept badly for the first few nights, it being so hot and dry, and I spent my days wandering around their garden and drinking tea on their veranda. I felt discombobulated and thin, but then they took me with them when they went out to the "Honey House", a bee farm in the middle of the country owned by their relatives. The lawns out there were green, surrounded on all sides by rolling brown prairie and farm-land. There was a forest, and a pond or two, and a huge house with many windows and many rooms, full to the brim with friends and family. It was so hot and still, and during the day I helped out in the spinning room, loading trays of honey comb into a round metal drum which spun fast until the honey dripped out the bottom. I also de-capped the combs with a scrapper, and that was fun because the honey got everywhere in your hair, your skin, your clothes, and you chewed on pieces of waxy comb until every last drop of honey was gone, and then you spat out balls of beeswax.
Once I even got suited up, and drove in the back of the truck with them down to the hives, which were in a small warm clearing in the forest. I am not afraid of insects, of spiders, of bugs, but wasps and even bees sometimes terrify the hell out of me. I was irrationally afraid, but not allowed to show that fear. The humming, the swarming, the noise and the sugar smell of honey and smoke caused me to sweat and tremble but I helped them take out the trays, brush off the bees, and load them in boxes in the back of the truck. Sweet relief when I was done and walked a bit away from the hives and took off my suit and net! Careful not to squish any clingers, I folded it under my arm and ran in my borrowed rain boots back along the grass road which led to the house.
In the afternoons we would sleep, or play games or read, or pick buckets of raspberries from the garden.
And after dinner was fun. Bonfires and walking in the dark to catch frogs near the pond.

But of course I couldn't evade real life forever. And so I came back to the city, and one dusty and hot white-skyed day I met up with le Terrible after months of writing letters, and we walked to the government buildings with little to say. After all, most of what we could have said had already been done so, and what we wanted to say couldn't even be thought of. So we lay in the damp cool grass beneath a huge tree and just breathed together. We had spent more time apart then together, and maybe that's why our relationship is so unique. Why I know that we understand each other often better without saying things, and why I have no fear of losing his friendship if I disappear for the summer, for a year, or even for many years.
I also got my wisdom teeth out a few days later, then started university. I'm surprised that I made as many new friends as I did, looking so chipmunky, and being strange and vague on pain-killers.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


New Norway, AB (during brother J's volleyball game this Sunday. Gotta love the knobbly knee look)

So I guess I lost a little of my grip on true perspective last week, and got dragged into a whirling vortex of self-pity and confusion and tears and uncertainty.
But then the sun appeared, literally.
And everything turned out alright.

With a wonderful weekend under my belt filled chock to the brim with hot days, trees in bloom, long bike rides to work, beers on the Black Dog patio, eating in biker bars in dusty small towns, I gathered ammunition and energy to face things more clearly.

There is two weeks before I leave for Athens. Tuesday June 1 I am gone. I have never seen a riot it terrible that I am tempted to go and see whats up? No, I don't think so. I got a postcard from A yesterday, and she poetically listed all the highlights of her trip so far, a.k.a. the beautiful, lovely, exciting boys she had met. It was a good postcard. I got in trouble at work today for my skirt being too short. It's the same skirt I wore all last summer, and for the past week, so they must have just worked up the courage to tell me. I wasn't upset, more amused than anything.
When I can embarrass adults, make them slightly awkward, often I laugh inside. They aren't so different than me.

Two weeks... I need to pack them full of memories fit to last for the entire summer. More nights at the Black Dog, more days eating gelato at da Capo, more dates with terribly boring boys, more adventures in the river valley. Then- and only then- can I feel like I have given this city my best shot, and be prepared to move on out.

But to not look ahead, to focus on the present clear eyed and without judgement: it is that cliche fresh cut grass smell, it is the lilac bush in bloom, it is the soles of my feet black from being outside without shoes, it is my skin itching from a mosquito bite and stinging slightly from sunburnt shoulders, it is having dirty dusty windswept hair, it is hot nights that wake you up sticky with sweat.
This is it: to breathe deep lungfuls of air and feel the blood move fast, to be young and vitally alive. To be careless and thoughtful. To be full of passions and apathy. I love this. This is now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mr. Tambourine Man

I don't have the time or the energy to spend on anything else but existing. I can't put it into words: it is like living in a constant state of hyper-awareness, which is impossible, so I try to keep busy so I can't think.
Spending too much time in my head.
Work is good for this, it pulls me out of myself and keeps me from thinking about more than my next task, and to keep straight the millions of details. And there is the social aspect as well, with my co-workers gathering around and laughs and jokes and stories.
Karaoke. Black Dog. Volunteering at races.
I want to fly to Vancouver and be there with them. I am their princess, their little princess, and I had always planned on taking care of them, of dropping everything and stopping everything and just giving everything to them. But I have this non-refundable plane ticket, and if only I had waited till next year... but who could have known?
And the phone is in constant use, with my mom in contact with her two brothers. It makes us anxious. Latest is that now they are both in the hospital.
So far we hold it together. Just a growing closer, a tightening of ranks, of shutting out outsiders. We present a brave, uniformed front.

And that is all I can manage to say for today.
It will be fine. We will all be fine. I promise.

"My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming....

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin', swingin' wildly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run,
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'...

Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me.
I'm not sleepy, and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you."

(Bob Dylan, Mr. Tambourine Man)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I want rest, I need rest.
But there is none for the wicked.
none for the sick, the poor, the needy.
none for the restless.
Every night I lay my burdens down and sleep shallowly, skimming the surface of unconsciousness while vivid and fluttering dreams race through my mind.

And every morning I am awakened by a knock on the door, and my burdens are thrust upon me once more.

My very marrow aches, and I am tired of being a tragedy. I am tired of crying and aching and tired of tiredness. I need to find, no I will find, the strength necessary to continue. Is this what it means to be an adult? To carry these burdens, to long to cut off your own nose to find rest, with no end in sight?

There is no end in sight.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Today I made a comic for Drew, as a thank you gift for the mix CD's he made for me last week. I detoxed my ipod, cleared out all the old songs and playlists and just added these 6 new lists of songs he had put together.
They are pretty good. I needed some new music so badly.

dinner parties and museums

"You will have to come with us one summer," I told le Terrible, "and bring your guitar and let the Muses inspire you." We wandered around the museum, bored out of our skulls, and dodged screaming children and wondered what the hell we were doing. I have been dreaming of the lake consistently again, and even in waking it creeps into my talk and into my thoughts. It's constantly on the back of my eyeballs, superimposed upside down: the blue the grey the green the brown.
Maybe it's there because I'm not sure what to expect from this summer, and I don't want the expectations to ruin the experience itself.

The lake has totally awesome Muses, dude.

But Friday I had a dinner to meet the others going on the dig. I spent the evening going through people, one by one then in whole groups, scratching the surface of their personalities then discarding after discovering nothing worthwhile. Who says I can't be thorough and tough? The people I ended up talking to the most were the 2 T.A.'s, Christa and Tristan, the leader's (Margreeit) daughter, Zoe, and Margreeit's husband, Steven, who was my Classic's prof this semester. Christa was down-to-earth, funny, pretty. Tristan had red hair, a squint, and a soft spot for animals. Zoe was 13 and reminded me so much of myself at that age. And Steven has lived and taught all over the world with his family. We formed a fascinating group, the 5 of us. I wanted to be best friends with all of them.

I feel anxiety building over going. K is stressed; she says We have so much to do! I am so busy! We need to book flights; make a plan; get vaccinations and insurance and paperwork done!
I told her, hey. You think you are stressed? I only have a month left to do all this PLUS more because I have things before and after. Also I am working 6 days a week. So calm down. (I don't think it helped. She was still stressed, but now so was I.)

And then last night was The Green Dinner Party. Everything was green-themed, and there was this tornado made out of chicken wire and cloth coming out of the the table. The menu was:
Avocado soup, then

Fava bean, mint, fennel salad. Next was

Chicken with an almond/cilantro paste
Mushrooms stuffed with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, Asiago cheese
Asparagus marinated in a vinegarette and shallots. For dessert we had

Individual pistachio cheesecake, and
Jone's Apple Soda jello.

It was an interesting mix of people, most of them in their 30's and hilarious. Very artsy, laid-back, and fabulous food and wine. They had changed all the light-bulbs in the house to green. I love this idea of having/creating/hosting wonderful vibrant dinner parties. I think I will.

As excited as I am to be wandering once again, I am equally excited to come back in September and pilgrimage out to the lake by myself for a couple of weeks. It is my lodestone, and I need to touch it once a year to keep... sane? Alive? Centered? Happy? I like to share the lake with certain worthy people, but I'm just as happy when I keep it to myself.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Right Face

I was so unhappy yesterday. The club grossed me out, and I was sick of disgusting girls and grinding boys. I kept on looking for someone who had the "right face": that certain look that showed me that not only did they understand, but they were feeling the same way. There was no one. There was lots of people looking at me, watching openly or covertly, but only with lust, admiration, or jealousy on their faces.

Normally there is no one.

I always check.

Sometimes, of course, I do see one and then we share a secret half-smile, but it never goes farther than that. I check because it comforts me greatly, it is a joy and a relief to know that I am not the only one trapped in this hellish place by choice. Someone too who feels dirty and low when faking enthusiasm or dancing slink-ily with a forced smile, someone else who thinks that the smoke from the smoke machine smells like a boy's cologne, someone who notices things like the way the small port-hole windows had ice crstyals forming on the outside.

Someone who wishes they were somewhere else, but really couldn't say exactly where, and in the meantime realizes that it's better to be somewhere, even a dance club, than nowhere. That it's safer to have the floor firmly under your feet and a beat deafening your ears, but longs for the courage to overcome that safety net and jump out in the chance that something truly extraordinary could happen.

That's why I always search for the face, that face in the mob of thrashing sweaty limbs and intoxicated twirls that stands out and says:
I know too.
We understand it, even if they can't see it."
It's like being the only sane person in an asylum, or trapped in a nightmare where everyone is dying and you are the only person left alive. Maybe it's a spark of intelligence I'm looking for, or a touch of humanity. It's like a light: they stand out from the others.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ma Robe Magique

So I have this Magic Dress. I just discovered it's powers this weekend, and I can't stop spreading the news. It doesn't look like much, honestly, it's just a mini-dress from a common store, and it has small black and white stripes. The neckline is boring, not too high or low, but I guess it's flattering... I don't know. It has a huge cut-out in the back, and I think that is the only thing that stops it from being completely run-of-the-mill.
But this dress is not ordinary, nor is it run-of-the-mill. This dress bestows the wearer with a magical amount of confidence, no matter how bad they are feeling, or how greasy their hair is that day. It's pretty simple: you slip on The Dress and all of the sudden no one can take their eyes off of you. The world is your oyster. You can do no wrong; everything you touch turns to gold.
For example:
my parents were supposed to come back from England, but they are stuck there because of the Icelandic volcano. No worries, sister D and I are busy studying, and grocery shopping, and enjoying the fabulous weather. So Friday night I was supposed to be going to this concert with Katie Davey and Erica, Wool on Wolves, but I was also driving brother J around from drama and back. Long story short I was super rushed getting ready and because the weather was so warm I decided to just throw on this dress I've never worn before. I pulled my hair back and did minimum make-up, as there was just no time. I was meeting Katie Davey and Erica at the venue and when I got there it was packed with all these super cool hipster-types (who, if you don't know, are more than a bit intimidating with their judgmental stares). But I swear it was the dress: people started coming up and introducing themselves to me. Guys who had no clue who I was started hitting on me. I was golden and had no fear. Eventually it got ridiculous and we went dancing, but that wasn't much better. It's not that they weren't all great guys, just none of them were right for me, y'know?
Anyways, The Dress still had a lesson for me to learn. I, shy, retiring, can't talk to cute boys me, I saw this guy standing by himself watching the concert. And for the first time in my LIFE, I decided to go talk to him without him first talking to me.
"Allright girls," I said to Katie Davey and Erica, "I am going to go talk to that boy. Be my wingmen." Slightly shocked, but with multitudes of giggles, they followed me to where he stood.
And I started talking to him.
I swear it was the dress.
And of course he asked for my number.
(on a side note, he called me yesterday but I was busy. Maybe next weekend, I said.)
But the point of all this is that this dress, this boring, simple, plain dress, taught me that the greatest way to be beautiful is to have confidence. It is an inner-glow that comes from being at peace with who you are, and to be happy with oneself. It sounds hippy-ish, but it's true! My mother (and others) always told me that true beauty came from the inside, and for the first time in my life I agree. If you truly don't care how much attention is paid to you, then it shows. It's all about the confidence and attitude. And that's something that you can't lose with age; in fact, it probably increases with age.
Now, if only I could transfer that confidence to my other clothes, I would be set.
And just as a precaution, I am never washing The Dress.
Or wearing it needlessly.
I'm not superstitious.

The Magic Dress. taken by: A during our latest LookBook shoot.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

i can't think, so i'll distract you with some pictures

Mel in Canmore.
Mel and I took pictures in a graveyard on our ill-fated return trip from Canmore. We were just sticking with the Gothic mood of the whole journey.
Blue potatoes! They make the most gorgeous potato salad.
Moni at the new art gallery for my birthday.
We drank lemonade in Churchill Square.
The uber talented Mary. She sings, plays guitar, AND longboards. Recently she brought her guitar to campus and we all just sat around and let her provide the background music to the movie of our lives.
K, looking chic as always.
A. We did one last LookBook shoot before she flew off the France last week. She is going to be gone for 3 months or so, and after her gig in France the rest of Europe is hers for the taking.

This is how the coming of summer appears to me:
it is the end of classes, and all of the sudden your week-days and weekends sort of blur, and you lose track of what the date is.
It is when you have friends over for beer and pizza and a movie, and the movie is crap and the pizza is expensive and yet you still enjoy yourself.
It is S texting me late at night and meeting her at Denny's for grilled cheese with fries.
It is bare legs and crazy hair and studying in the sun.
It is sleeping with your window open in an ever-increasing crack until it stays wide open for months. And the breeze is warm and the birds come back from the south.

Helped K buy her plane ticket yesterday, as she is coming to travel with me when I am done my dig in June. We are going to Turkey to stay with some friends of my dad's in Istanbul, and then we are going to Egypt for a while. She is leaving me in Rome, when I start my art history class in August. I am so excited. Buying international plane tickets is hard! We wanted the best deal, of course, so we ended up exploring 1000 different airlines, and finally pieced together 2 flights, one from AirTransat, and one using British Airways.

I am studying for exams, and it seems to drain my energy for anything else requiring thought. Ugh, I can't even find the strength to pull things out of my brain and post them, so I'll post some film pictures of this late winter/early spring.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's a Drought

The dryness makes me anxious, and feel old and cracked like the earth in the park, on the highway. "It's the dryest spring on record," they are saying in the supermarket, and I rub Vaseline onto my hands every night.

The snow is all gone, melted away a month before it's supposed to, and there will be no grass this spring I fear.

I yearn for the dampness, the healthy vitality of the coast. The clouds gather every night but not a single drop is spilled. The poor crops, I think, having no clue what the farmers are feeling. The poor trees I say, as we (along with thousands of others) chop down our dead dehydrated beeches.

"We water our willow every night" said Emily and Serge, and across the province we see people watering their trees to keep them alive. Will the buds turn to dust before they fully open? And I, I who grew up praying for rain to stop, to not flood our house, for some relief against a week-long onslaught of wasteful water from the sky, I am praying for it to come, for the clouds to break, and to wash the curb-high dust away. Everything is gritty and grey, even the sky (especially the sky), and the ceiling fans in the cafe do little good to provide a breath of fresh air; it's so heavy it just hangs there and sticks to our sweaty cheeks. But it's when the sun shines and the blueness is untouched by clouds that our spirits truly groan, for that signals that there is not even a small hope that the rain might come.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

La Dolce Vita

J using the old film camera to take pictures on Friday.

soaking up the sun/posing for J

We wanted to go back to Vancouver, to visit our family, but then we heard that they were gone to the island, and so instead we stayed here and it was lovely. I watched la Dolce Vita over the course of 3 days (it is a loooong movie), and we picnicked in the park and the movie influenced my words and breathing and so it seems as if the entire weekend was in black and white, with beautiful people, with every line being said significant, with every action meaningful and bizarre.
I invited le Terrible to spend Sunday with us, and he did, and we were all charming and loud and full of laughter and light. The entire house and all our guests were under our influence, and everything was good: good food, good wine, good conversation. I revel in days like yesterday; to glow and to spin webs of crystallized threads of thought, to make people laugh and to die of laughter myself, to drink in the sun and warmth and that unspeakable, intangible quality... is it love? Love for fellow humans, for le Terrible on my right and A on my left, for Henry and Donna across the table... sometimes, humanity itself is good. Love for salmon en croute (with leeks and a dill Hollandaise), love for an Okanogan Chardonnay, love for sun-drenched parks with dusty brown grass... I think it's love for la Dolce Vita.

Sylvia in her evening gown, twirling in the Trevi Fountain.
Nico with the helmet of a soldier, and ghost-hunts.
The girl in the cafe with the profile of a Rubini angel.
Marcello, twisted, tortured Marcello who seems to have no control over the Fates.

Lying underneath the streams of wind, trying to pretend it's summer.
Walking for hours in the dark at 1 a.m. and not shivering, eating pizza.
When you reach that point where a flick of your wrist says a whole essay to your friends.

"What's better, gin or J I N?" she said to me.
"I think the two are non interchangeable" I replied, and they understood.
"We are NOT standing in line for 45 minutes to get into the Strat," K said firmly, "Even if they do have $1 beer."
"I'm sorry," I apologized to le Terrible, "I don't even notice it even more, because I grew up with it. But today, watching through your eyes, I can see how awkward and cliche it all is."
"Hahaha," laughed J, "what did you say?"
"You just made a funny mouth noise!" I sputtered out.
The sweetness is intoxicating, addictive, a drug that doesn't quietly seep into your system but overwhelms and sweeps in with grandeur and grace. There is no use resisting, and once you've tasted it, had it forced upon you, you will forever be searching for its equivalent. La Dolce Vita, those perfect days, they run my life. You can't make them happen, they just occur sometimes. And when they do they shine like stars in the darkness of your memory, and guide your way at night. Haha, that's kind of cheesy. But I'm leaving it there anyways.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Come Soon Spring

(sister D, late August '09)

A lazy hour we snatched from our structured schedules and spent it wisely, laying on the grass, in the sun, in the wind, discussing gender politics in society and Wes Anderson films, and every once in a while sighing and closing our eyes and heliotrophing towards the sun.
The Kooks played from his cracked ipod and across the field a boy with strange brown hair and white sunnies romanced a guitar into spilling forth the sweetest sounds.

Spring comes late in the North, and every morning I check the tree outside my window for buds, for little cracks of green that show yes, life is coming, and I don't tell people this but in my head I talk to the tree, encourage it, say "Please, let spring be here soon".

"We'll make an exception for you" he said with a smile that made me catch my breath, and it reminded me of almost two years ago when we were so in sync that our thoughts would get tangled and pull us under and we almost drowned, and that's why it didn't work out. It makes us friends now, but on a level that could easily slip back to what it formerly was and so be slow, proceed with caution, and watch your step.
I need a blood transfusion, a whole batch of new blood, I think.
To echo the new, the freshness of spring.
Please, let spring be here soon.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Today is My Birthday

Today is the day I turn 21. Now, that may be a huge deal for our Southern neighbours, but for us Canadian folk we get a watered-down version for our 21st birthdays; that is, everyone being vaguely excited and extra celebratory without really knowing why. After all, we've been legally driving since 14, and drinking and voting (not usually at the same time, but you know. Stuff happens.) since 18. So turning 21 is really just another year.
I am not a big fan of birthday's, and especially mine. It's not just the getting older thing, it's the whole "attention-focused on me, and only me" thing. But this year wasn't too bad: instead of celebrating today, we did last night.
It was gooooood. Yes, it deserved the long, drawn out vowel. During the day I went to the new art gallery downtown with M. There was a Degas exhibit (I was a ballerina for 13 years, so I walked the whole length of the room on my toes, in sympathy with them), and a really cool sound exhibit with spooky crow sounds and a gentle breeze that lifted the hairs on your neck.
Dinner out with the fam. Good times.
Went to the Sugar Bowl with K and S and Matt. 3 of us split a giant 2 litre bottle of Grolsh beer, and we had fun just being cool and normal, as I made one birthday declaration: that everyone must pretend it wasn't my birthday, except they could of course all pay for my drinks. Just before midnight we tried to get to the Black Dog, but we were a bit late and us girls were in the loo fixing our hair at the stroke of 12. Oh well, I said, it's no biggie.
Drowned our disappointment with some Slutty Hen's, then Matt wanted to take us downtown to his super secret favourite hookah spot. I jumped at that, because spending my birthday in a shiny club is really not my style. So it was rough and gritty and underground, and on the scary side of town, and just what I wanted: reality, a little adventure, a bit of a thrill. K fell asleep on the opium-den style cushions, while S and Matt and I chatted and smoked long into the night.
Parfait, baby, parfait.

OH! And I got home this afternoon, and sitting on my porch was an orchid in a pot with a card that read:
"Dear Jane:
This is the only card I could find without writing in it.
Anyways, I hope this year will be great! You are
fasmically and awesomely BEAUTIFUL! And never
forget it!"
It wasn't signed, and I don't recognize the printing. I called and texted most of my friends, asking if it was them, but it wasn't...and besides, not many of them would make up a word like "fasmically". I am literally dying of curiosity. I'm pretty sure it's a girl, but of course I have no idea. I hope whoever it was comes forward, because I don't know what to do next: post the question on Facebook? All I want to do is thank them. Because I love flowers. And surprise gifts.

Some of my more memorable birthdays

13th: watched my very first horror movie, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds. Seriously it has scarred me for life, and this is the reason why crows freak me out so much. Other birds are fine, but crows...they are just pure evil. (But if you haven't seen it you really should.)

14th: didn't have a party. All my friends were either on the other side of the world, or in boarding school. But I did go out for Chinese food with my family, and got violent food poisoning that night. Ewww.

16th: I wanted it to be sweet, but it wasn't very. It was nice that we were back in Vancouver visiting family for a week, but when I decided that I wanted to go collect golf balls in the marsh behind my cousins house, my mother wasn't happy. 4 of us ended up loosing at least one shoe among the reeds and while we were crying with laughter it soon became clear that we were all in Big Trouble for getting so muddy and hysterical without telling anyone where we were or what we were doing.

17th, 18th: in High Prairie, this little Northern town, with a group of youth volunteering to clean the place up. So I spent these two birthday's scrubbing bathroom floors and painting walls. When I turned 18 though I started my tradition of giving myself a little gift. 18 I had brought an old book with me and early that morning I got up and read for a while and as I read I came across this poem I had never heard of before, Ode to a Nightingale. And I fell in love with it, and later learned it was famous, but at the time I thought it was just beautiful and so "gave" it to myself.

19th: Florence. J and N gave me early birthday gelato in Venice, coconut and some other flavour I forget. It was a surprise, and wonderful. Then on my birthday night we had a wonderfully fancy big meal, with champagne and limoncello that the waiter's gave us all for free because we were beautiful and young. I bought myself a pair of shoes the next day, the softest pale leather, little moccasins.

20th: My first birthday ever spent in this city. My gift to myself was a lazy morning/afternoon, and I spent the day lying on my bed in the sun reading and watching movies. I worked in the evening at the cafe, and after work K and S surprised me and frog-marched me the 2 blocks to Sugar Bowl, because they said I couldn't spend my birthday night alone. We drank strawberry Fruili beer, and made lists of things I needed to do before I turned 21. A week later I had my surprise plane ride.

21st: bought myself a new summer dress. And had bahn mi for lunch. So tasty.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Loneliest Ones

I have this dilemma, and once I polled my friends it became clear that I wasn't the only one with this problem. It results from a desire of wanting to have absolutely everything, and being unable to make up my mind which is better. I (we, us) feel, though we are surrounded by a million amazing, wonderful, stupendous friends, that certain hole that comes from not having a boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other who GETs me, who UNDERSTANDS me, and has that soul connection that happens when you are in a relationship with someone. You feel like everybody else is coupled up, and you too want that. But of course you don't want it so badly that you just pick up the first cute guy you see in the bar.
On the other hand, I am so happy not being in a relationship right now... I can go to Europe for the summer and not feel bad for leaving him behind, I can move to Vancouver/Montreal/New York and not break someone's heart. I am freeeeeee, and my freedom is incredibly important to me. I can meet a thousand new boys, be feted and wined and dined, see and do incredible things, date musicians and artists and pilots and college students and waiters and wrestlers and chronic thrill-seekers, yet...

I just want someone who can keep up with me, y'know? It's lonely being far out here. I want someone who has the courage to not be intimidated by my single raised eyebrow (when I'm skeptical), who has the confidence to tell me he loves me every day (because otherwise I'll run away), who understands that I spend too much time day-dreaming and am spontaneous and need someone to keep my feet on the ground, who isn't afraid to leave behind everything he knows and come see the world with me...
It's not that I don't look, or try. I try with boys all the time, give them a fair chance, get attached, but they just end up not working out. But I just want someone to love me the way I am, even when I'm being quirky and smirky; someone who makes me be the best I can be.
Cause we (those of us who dream and attain to something more than your run-of-the-mill relationship, those of us who need not a spark but a bonfire, those of us who believe in the possibility of LOVE), we are the loneliest ones.

And right now, it kinda sucks.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Beginning of Bignosco

She was purple, red, no, burgandy is the best word for it, and her fan would overheat constantly, especially in the hot summer weather. She didn't have a name, but that's because I hadn't come along. Yet. The seats were incredibly comfortable, and unlike leather they wicked away all sweat which was good because the A/C didn't work. But she had a good CD player, and truly that's all I cared about, that and the fact that she could take me places.
The train conductor told me to lock my compartment door that night, and not to open it to anyone but him as he came around the next morning, probably because I was by myself and the only person in that carriage. I spent the entire evening looking out the window watching the brown countryside undulate past and practicing the few Italian words I had learned in my head over and over again ("caaaaldoo", "freeedooo", "graaaziaaa", "ciaoooo", "baaacio"). I made up my bed early and listened to my ipod to fall asleep, a set playlist of Enya, Eels, and Classical piano. Oh, and the song from Mary Poppins, the "Stay Awake" one.
The next morning I was awake-ish when the conductor came by with coffee and an Italian newspaper, that I pretended to be able to read when in fact I just looked at the pictures and tried to determine if anything significant had happened lately.
It took us till about mid-day to reach Alexandria, and when I got off the train I cursed again at how much easier everything would be if we had cell-phones ("telephonini", accompanied by a little gesture that indicated a ringing cell-phone). I picked up my dirty pack, and walked out into the broiling heat of July, and looked all around for him. I didn't remember what the car looked like, and I knew I probably looked a bit different too; from the incredibly pale, bundled in sweaters with dark gold-hair girl I had transformed into dark, dark brown with white sun-bleached hair and a short floral dress...the result of Sicily.
Then, I spotted him- with his black boots, black shirt (black?! In this heat?!) and long curly "Jesus" hair. I ran over to him and started laughing, almost crying, as I was so happy to see someone I knew. He seemed quiet at first, almost in a bad mood, which I soon learned was the result of his previous travel partner being a wimp and flying home early. He was also strangely anxious to leave Italy, but I think it was because he was just ready for a new place. But we got in the car, windows rolled all the way down (since the A/C didn't work, of course) and with the Velvet Underground blasting we drove through the mountains to Switzerland, which was slightly cooler and soon he was laughing and singing along with me. We "camped" that afternoon at a lake (I've forgotten the name...maybe Paradise Lake? Rainbow Lake?), and I used my high-school French to buy food. We then spent the rest of the muggish day-light time splashing and swimming in the lake, and trying (very unsuccessfully) to catch large fish with our bare hands. Evening came and we burnt new CD's for the car on his laptop (Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Sigur Ros) and talked about what had happened since we had last seen each other in Schladming.
That night I had wanted to try sleeping in the car, to see what it was going to be like, and he wanted to use his tent, but around midnight there was a huge thunderstorm and torrential rain so we both ended up in the car, him shivering and wet and me smugly dry. "Haha" I mumbled sleepily as he tried to not get absolutely everything as wet as he was.
The next morning was clear and cooler than before, thankfully. With fat tired eyes we took advantage of the lake to wash ourselves, and some clothes, unsure of when the next opportunity would come along. Before we got going though, I pulled out the road map and said
"We have to name the car."
"What? Why on earth would we name the car?"
"Becaaaaause she is going to be an important part of this trip, and I don't want to keep on referring to her as "it", or "the car"." I unfolded the map on the hood, and then said:
"Ok, now close your eyes and point to a random spot."
He laughed for a long time, then closed his eyes and pointed.
"No way," he objected when he opened his eyes, "I can't even pronounce that. Waaaay too many vowels."
So he tried again. Tiefencastel.
"Is that like an actual town, or a sight?" I wondered. "We could call her "Tief", for short..."
"I don't like it."
"You are being so picky. It's not like your naming your first-born child here-"
"Yeah, but remember: "She is going to be an important part of this trip"," he repeated back to me. "I want a name that I think feels right."
I rolled my eyes.
He tried again. Bignosco.
"Eww. Veto," I said, "It sounds like "Big Nasty"..."
He began to grin.
"Absolutely not," I said, as giggles began to start bubbling up, "We can't name the car Big inappropriate for a car..."
And he smiled hugely and we both burst out laughing.
And that's how the car was named Bignosco.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Olive Oil

So then there was the time I was sitting on the beach in Sicily, and it was after dinner and I was just chilling on the rocks by myself, and I watched this tall, 30-ish year-old man approach me from all the way down at the other end of the beach, swinging a plastic grocery bag in his hand. He came up to me, and handed me the bag, and as I looked inside it he said:
Claudia said you really liked the oil...
(and inside the bag was an old ketchup bottle filled with a thick clear golden-green liquid)
And startled I replied:
Oh, uh, yes, I do, it is amazing and flavourful and wonderful, and we don't have anything like it in Canada. Thank you so much.
He grinned down at me, said:
Well, I make it myself, so... (he shrugged modestly)
Can I pay you for it? I asked, awkwardly, not sure how this was done.
You are the girl who is travelling alone, no? he said. I thought for a second, and came to the conclusion that yes, yes I was travelling alone these days, more by default than choice but whatever. I nodded, uh huh.
Spontaneously he grabbed my hand and kissed it.
It is a gift. You are very brave, he said as I sat there in shock. I still wasn't used to the European way of touching other people, of the custom of cheek-kissing to greet even me, newly initiated to the friends of Claudia and Franco, and the way of kisses as currency.

I wish you luck and blessing in your travels, he said.
Uh, thank you. I stuttered. What else could I say?
He grinned one last time, dropped my hand and started walking back the way he had come.
Thank you! I yelled again at his back, and without turning around he waved good-bye.

Friday, March 19, 2010

And then there was 1

N, me, J in Salzburg.
N and J making faces at N's birthday dinner.
me, Mirabelle Gardens

Do I live too much in my head? Perhaps. Too much in the past? Well, I try not to. But sometimes the memories and thoughts press so much and they HAVE to come in, they flood in like a torrent and there is nothing I can do to stop them, it would be like stopping a flash flood with just your hands (ie, impossible).
So we fought in Salzburg. Something to do with a can of Red Bull, I think, but the deeper problem, the underlying tension came from the fact that after 6 weeks of backpacking they were both going home, and I was staying. I remember we all bought sandwiches in a cafe, then got kicked out for sitting down. It was funny, because we considered ourselves so worldly, so experienced when in fact we still encountered social barriers on an almost daily basis. It was rainy and cold in Salzburg, and it wasn't until one of our last days that I actually bought a jacket; my leather jacket in fact, that has been through so much with me. Before that I just layered cotton sweaters and froze. But the grey skies and shiny cobble-stoned streets just pulled our spirits down.
N, oh N of the dark hair, dark eyes, and red red lips, N had her birthday in Salzburg, and we celebrated with a huge 3-course meal at a fancy hotel, and though we didn't have champagne (as at mine in Florence) we still got giddy and glowing and pulled everyone's eyes towards us. We skipped home, the three of us linked arms and ran through the dark wet streets, under old archways, and sang out to a group of young people, one of whom carried a guitar. Our love knew no bounds.
A few days later the tension came to a head. J (with her long curly brown hair, freckles, and startling blue eyes) and N were taking a train to London, to fly home, and I would stay and go to school and do more travelling. My time wasn't even half up, and they were celebrating and laughing and talking about seeing their families, the things they would do, and the meals they would eat. All of the sudden, I couldn't stand it. After we got kicked out of the cafe, J said we should drink a can of Red Bull, just for fun. So I bought one, and then both J and N said no, they didn't want any. Then I wanted to eat our sandwiches in a graveyard, which they thought was morbid, so we all flipped out at each other. It was our last fight. When we were standing on the train platform later though, all grievances were forgotten and I stood forlorn and forsaken in the rain. I would not cry, though I was so alone. From having two constant, wonderful companions, I would go to being on my own. But after our last "auf weidersehen's", J cried out "Oh Jane!" in sadness, as the train pulled out, and then I burst into tears. I leaked tears all the way back to my little attic room under the eaves, where I closeted myself until hunger drove me out. I foolishly went back to the hotel where N had had her birthday dinner, and then proceeded to cry into my soup, to the consternation of my male waitor.
I am not one to feel sorry for myself for very long, so I picked myself up the next day and explored Salzburg even more. I made friends with a young newly-wed couple, and while not enjoying myself immensely, definitely managed to gain character. After a few days I left for school in Schladming.