Friday, February 26, 2010

More Memories

Some very bad quality pictures of pictures. But they bring the point across.
Finding a sand-dollar.
Goofing off. This is the summer my younger sister and I pretended to be twins for summer camp. Probably grade 7?
Being taught how to sail by mon pere.
Sister D, age 10
Brother J, age 7 perhaps
this is a very young D making a geo-duck spray
"Red sky at night."
The only superstition my mother endorsed, good Christian woman, while I secretly saw the future everywhere in little things, like rocks and clouds and whether people walked on the outside or inside of a sidewalk.

Sailor's delight: to being 10 years old and taking a burrito for lunch on the Sea Cow, sailing by myself. Pull, tack, speed and lean. Sun and sweat.
I have forgotten how. I couldn't sail now.

Red sky at morning, and my father is shaking us into consciousness in the pink dawn. We stumble down to the beach, and the sea is miles and miles away with a desert of tidepools separating it from I. I search for geo-duck holes, and when I find one I apply pressure with my toes until it shoots a geyser of water above my head, and if I'm lucky, on my sister. Ha ha.

Sailor's take warning: they don't understand it here. They profess to love the ocean, and they say they will eventually live there, someday, but it's not in their blood, it's not their heart beat and it's not the rhythm of their breathing.

This is the sea. It is constant and green and sublime. It is pin-pricks everywhere, and blinding sun overhead. The circling and wheeling of tides and gulls and crabs under rocks.

It makes me tired and sad to think on this. It's the same sapping of energy that comes from spending a day where your environment asks for so much of you, in return for allowing you to reside.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

10 Things You Otherwise Probably Maybe Would Have Never Known

I'll start with this: Postman has been newly cast into the role of Knight in Shining Armour in my imagination, due to his oh-so kind nomination for Sugar Doll award...which I graciously accept. Honestly it just made February in the Far North so much more bearable.
I don't think I am going to follow the trend of posting the 10 most manly things possible about me (including everything from drunken pursuits to sci-fi), though it would make for a pretty hilarious post...oh well, next time!

SO here goes: 10 Things That Not Many People Know

1) I think it would be perfectly lovely to find a hut on a beach and live there for a year or two.

2) I would sleep on the floor, not shower for a week, and eat terrible food and still be gloriously happy as long as I was with someone interesting in a foreign place.

3) I like to read. No, I love to read. No, I am OBSESSED with reading, it is my air, and it often occurs to me that I live more in books than I do in the real world (which makes me sad), so the past few years I have been working on creating my own adventures in life rather than living through someone else's imagination. I like to think I've been doing a pretty good job.

4) I love to go fast...really, really fast. Cars, rides, mopeds, ATVs, snowmobiles, anything. It gives me a thrill, and I get that feeling that if I could only go a little bit faster I could fly.

5) The only reason I will watch hockey is to look for the fights. Which rarely happen anymore. In fact, I dislike watching sports on t.v. in general. They give me that queasy feeling of complete and utter boredom.

6) When I was 7 I was given my first pocket knife, because my family used to go camping often. I would whittle pointy "killing sticks", which had rings around them symbolizing every thing I had killed. I was a very imaginative child.

7) I went to an all-girls Catholic boarding school in Perth, Australia, when I was 13-14.

8) Cameron Macintosh told everyone he had kissed me one summer. We hadn't. We had played Chinese checkers for hours instead.

9) I like laying back and staring at the ceiling, and playing tricks with my eyes and making the bumps go in and out, and imagining walking on the roof.

10) Sometimes I make a batch of cookie dough, just to eat it raw.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mah Puh-teet Vay-cay-shun

Canmore was haunted. Ghosts on every corner, in every cafe. They crowded around me, tugging on my sleeves, and I ignored their pleas for attention. Instead I gathered the tatters of my sensibility even more tightly around me, and let my mind dart from thought to thought without rest.
The clouds stayed low over the mountains, shaking free snow once in a while, and the hikes through dead brush and frozen creeks sent my imagination weaving. We found a single red rose lying on a log in the middle of a claustraphobic forest on Valentine's Day, and it was so perfect that it turned it cheap, and we laughed with the nervous scorn reserved for the sacred.
I got us lost driving back. Fog had descended over the entire province, thick white walls that wafted and moved slightly; tangible. We stopped in a graveyard in the middle of the prairie and hoarfrost coated every thing and gave us goosebumps.
My friend, Mel, was enthusiastic at first: "Look, it's so pretty! What an adventure!". Which gave way to: "It's like a dream..." and then the drippy sad music started and it was: "It aaaall loooooks the saaaaaaame." And then silence as my muscles stayed tense and my eyes strained open, trying to see the road ahead.
Once I was counting telephone poles, trying to focus, and I swerved off the road onto the grass and Mel screamed. I jerked the wheel, sending us back onto asphalt, and then lost control of car. We stopped before we hit anything- not that there was anything to hit, just the edge of the prairie. We looked at each other and started laughing hysterically, then I got out of the car and breathed in the clouds, quelling my nausea. Then I got back in and we started driving again.
We drove too far North through my city, and the out-skirts were dirty and insane, like Athens. We got home eventually though, exhausted of sitting still and of each other. But I accomplished my goal of layering new memories on top of old, and like stratigraphy I can sift through the layers at will with much less pain and focus the farther down they go.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Turn, Turn, Turn

See, this is the thing about returning to a place where once before great and grand things happened to you: it's never the same. Even though realistically you realize that it can't be a repeat, most likely not even close, there is some perverse part of you that hopes...that wishes...that longs for it to happen again. Or, on a lesser level, you are stupidly reminded at every street corner and every cafe of things you wish to forget.

Or, to be more honest, people you wish to forget.

But here is how I try to function around the gaping hole, the purposely-blocked off trails of thought, the "closed- do not enter" paths of memory: I try to the best of my ability, with the desperation of a drowning man dragging for air, to create new Great and Grand Memories. It's a crude coping method. It doesn't deal with the problem, it masks it- works. Of course they are tinged with the past, but not full-blown coloured. And c'est la vie, time eventually works its magic, and before you know it, you've moved on.

I am going to Canmore, AB, this weekend. Canmore, in the past year, has grown so many intensely layered memories for me that I have my pick of which ones to use, and which to ignore. It is a luxury I am rarely afforded, and I won't let it go to waste: this weekend I will create a vibrant bunch of even more images and snippets of conversation to add to the abundant harvest.

On a side note, this week I received the news that I was accepted into not only the art history course in Rome this August, but I got into the archaeological dig in Greece that I was hoping against hope I could go on. It's in June this summer, and so my life is now a little brighter: even though I have been to Europe many times before, this is different. This is travel with a foot in the real world- education. I am not sure how I will afford it, but talk of money is for plebes, haha.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bending Spoons with My Eyes

May long weekend, 2009
D and I showing off our mad skillz (some summer)
Me, K, S, after swimming in the frigid, barely ice-free waters (May long, 2009)
Sometimes in the summer it's too hot to sleep inside. So we don't. (some summer)
(the frightening waterfall I had to be pulled off, and ever since have treated with the utmost respect. It is much, much larger than it appears here)

I had a short conversation with my father a couple of nights ago (most of my conversations tend to be short. D says it's because I say these inane comments once in a while that just kill off any further discussion and leave the recipient pondering their options) and he said that he misses his home town. He said it is perfectly natural to miss the place you grew up in, to grow melancholy and homesick and reminisce and dream about returning someday. I laughed out loud. I told him, Father, I will never have that problem.
Why? he answered.
Because I don't have a hometown, silly, I replied, I do daydream about living other places but I am not tied to one place like you.
I feel like a refugee here, he said.
I always feel like a refugee, I told him, And when I travel I think I am constantly searching for a place to call home.
He was silent.
I hadn't meant to blame him for that. In fact, I am thankful for the amount of "hometowns" we have experienced in my lifetime...thankful for the love of movement and exploration that has been instilled in me.
So I don't have a hometown. But I do think I have a place that is close. Most summers of my life, I someway or another end up coming back here. My mother spent her childhood summers here. It is in the Rocky Mountains, and my grandparents have a cabin on a lake. The summer I was 18, I was given a key to this cabin, and it provided such a sense of support, as though I had a wall at my back, or a cave I could always shelter in- if I needed to run I now had a place I could run to. The lake is undeveloped, crystal-clean and very deep, as only mountain lakes can be, and not too cold. When you first step out of the car, the air is dusty but sharp with blackened pine-trees in the heat. The smell of musty lake-shore, of rotting wood and gasoline is ever present, but the true smell of the place for me is this:
drying towels and wet swimsuits
sunscreen and sweat and salt
rock and bushes and
So many memories are tied into every atom of the lake's existence: of tanned childhood summers spent barefoot and wild in the forest, sleeping outside, winters sledding down the road, walks along the verge and running from bears, balancing across the river's bridge, the magic of diamonds sparking off the icy waterfall and being too afraid to jump, fishing and swimming underwater with eyes open and seeing green and grey and half-believing I was a mermaid, a pack of us cousins being left behind for a week and cooking, cleaning, pretending to be adult.
I dream of it often. The dreams are always different, some dramatic, like adventure stories with fires and floods, others disturbing with death and development, most just aspects of life, but never have I had a nightmare about it. It is special. Spiritual. Sacred.
I don't feel like a refugee when I am there.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I don't normally cook. Mon pere is the most amazing chef around, and we eat delicious, innovative, healthy meals almost every day. There has been little need for me to create my own meals; all i do is taste and eat and comment. It is a lovely existence. But whenever i am living on my own, as i do every few months, i realize just what kind of crappy junk i mindlessly pour into my body when no one is there to remind me to do differently. I eat box after box of mac and cheese, bag after bag of perogies, endless hamburgers and when i start to feel listless, i eat a salad.
That has started to change. This summer, i started discovering my dad's Jamie Oliver cookbooks, and they gave me ideas. Instead of frozen pizza, i would try a new kind of fresh tomato sauce with my pasta. When I was tempted to drag the summer boy-of-the-month out for McDonald's, i would make crunchy garlic lemon chicken. From scratch. (Well, not literally. I didn't kill the chicken, or pluck it, or grow the lemon tree or pull the garlic. But you know what I mean.) Now, even when i come home exhausted from a long day of school, then work, i have found enjoyment in opening up a cookbook, getting an idea, and tailoring it to meet our fridge's contents.
I don't normally write about food. I love food; i am inherently a gastrophile, but good food is more like breathing to me...I don't think about it. But yesterday, under my dad's tutelage, I made the most breath-takingly delicious green curry I have ever had. And trust me, I know curry. Not only do we have curry at least once a week, but I attended a cooking school in Chang Mai, Thailand. And this one beat them all.
Here is the loose recipe. I don't measure things precisely, and as always, tailor the ingredients and amounts to fit your fridge and the taste.
One large onion, chopped quite small. Toss it into a large frying pan with some oil, and start frying at medium heat.
Add one large sliced carrot to the pan.
Once the onion has started to soften, add one red pepper, diced and sliced.
Then about 2 heaping tablespoons fresh finely chopped ginger
Then about 1 1/2 heaping tablespoons green curry paste.
1 tablespoon fish oil (it's gross, but necessary)
2 tablespoons brown sugar.
1 juiced lime
Fry and mix around until one or two of the pieces of onion are lightly browned. Not too long as you want the peppers to be crisp, the carrots to be half crisp, but long enough for the onions to be not crunchy.
Add one can coconut milk.
Then some frozen shrimp.
Simmer lightly until shrimp is hot all the way.
It is spicy, sweet, sour, and absolutely delicious. Maybe it was a fluke. But i like to believe otherwise.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

And by the way, I hate that stupid old pick-up truck

Normally I hate country music. Well, hate is strong, so i dislike it. Strongly. It all sounds the same, and makes me laugh when i should be crying. BUT today, today of all days, i decided to embrace my home province, and embrace (sometimes) being a country girl. Since we've lived here i have become the biggest "city snob", that is, someone who looks down on and can't fathom why anyone would ever live outside of the city core. It's so... inconvenient.
I think my transformation began sometime this summer (reference picture above) when my friend J and i drove all over the countryside exploring things. Since then, I have been given my very own cowboy hat (it says Budweiser on it, but whatevs.), have driven standard (in an Audi, but thats besides the point) and love "bombing around" in trucks with big wheels. I think cowboy boots look awesome, and have grown fond on the incongruous plaid shirt. And today, when i was movin' fast over the rutted roads we call city streets, sittin' high in the cab of a big car, i turned on the radio and out came country music. Alan Jackman. (Jackson?). I fell slightly in love. It was mellow, the tune was catchy, and even though all the songs still sort of sound the same, it fit. The music fit my location and mood.
I was shocked. I listened to that station for the entire time (they were doing top 40 countdown), before i realized that this transformation, while seemingly sudden, had actually be slowly happening for a while now. It started with the cowboy boots, then becoming a closet taylor swift fan, then an outright supporter of her. Combine that with the country road trips and a secret lust for big trucks and cowboys, i guess it was only a matter of time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I dreamed in film today. Everywhere I went and everything I did was interrupted by a broken stream of still photographs and an endless loop of background scenery from an indie film.
The winter-bare trees against the bullet grey sky. The air, normally so dry, was damp today with flakes of snow like excess sand from an old shoe, and people were hunched and inverted and all exposed skin was an ugly, blotchy raw-fish pink. "I wish this winter would end" - you could see it in their dull eyes. I went to school in the dark. I came home in the dark. The sun did not rise above the level of the buildings. And the dampness entered your bones, along with the cold, and could not be shaken off.
The vegetables in the grocery store are either limp and half-dead, or fluorescent and toxic. It was only -10, and warm enough so that snow was being tracked inside buildings causing brown floods of slush and carpets becoming submerged.
But the pictures: I had one of a boy and girl in a park, in the summer, beneath a greatly branching tree. They were laughing, and the sun caused their faces to be half unseen.
And then one of a market-place, dusty and loud, and the colours: oh! so vibrant!
And a few were memories, snap-shots of time: from travels, books, and this summer: heat from the earth, and the stillness between the trees and berry bushes, and bare-feet pounding the dirt path and running with the slap slap of hardened soles with angry passion across the field and into the forest and crouching, fighting for breath, pulling it from the hot wilderness around me. I was so angry.