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.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Busy Busy

Busy, busy, busy. I have nothing worthwhile to say these days. When I zone out in class, I watch my pulse beating under the translucent skin on the inside of my wrist.
Today I sat in the cafe on the corner, pressed tight against the window in the sunlight, and I drank over-priced organic coffee and tried to focus on the negative aspects of nature. It isn't something I like to do, but it was for a paper. Before my thoughts became coherent and organized, it flitted through my mind the time I had sat in that exact same spot, early in September, and I had tried to take a picture of the person I was with, but they had turned sharply away and said "Don't; I don't want a picture taken of me." It was warmer then, and I had been deeply, soul-fully unhappy. I had walked out of the cafe after that incident, and I remember being vaguely self-conscious of my short skirt and wondering if people thought I was so pale because I was ill.
But tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. I thought today was, and I wore a green scarf and cowboy boots and asked my friends out for beers. I didn't believe them at first, but of course I quickly found out they were right. I am excited for it, because these days I get excited over little things like that... I feel like they are the things that make life worth living.

20 Things That Make Me Happy These Days:

1) the melting snow and warm sun

2) talking with adults and asking intelligent questions and making them laugh

3) green beer

4) thinking about going on my dig this summer.

5) sitting in cafes and just thinking in general

6) wearing cowboy boots. They make you walk with attitude

7) treating any straight stretch of ground as a catwalk

8) hanging with my besties, K and S, even if it's just to watch old movies, or get dinner

9) baking Crack Pie (I'll post a recipe one of these days. It's so addictive and delicious.)

10) sitting in a bar with J-my-oh-my and listening to him comment on everyone and everything

11) fresh tulips and daffodils at work

12) having the house to myself in the mornings, and having leftover Chinese for breakfast

13) vanilla oreo's, pesto pasta, sate salmon, sushi, and Douglas Copeland (not all at once, haha)

14) dancing and singing along to Taylor Swift

15) wine that's served in a rooster-shaped jug

16) laughing in lecture hall at the prof's lame jokes, even when no one else does. I mean come on people, they're trying to be less boring here. You have to give them some credit.
17) interesting stories that Daniel from N.Y.C. sends me to read

18) being invisible/centre of attention. Both, in balance with each other.

19) dreaming about future plans, which involve much seeing of the world, and being truly good at what I do, and being interesting and doing exciting things and travelling for all eternity, and having a home-base full of the treasures I pick up, and helping humanity somehow, and never giving up hope that good exists, and other vague/lofty/noble ideas particular to my peers

20) connecting with people on a level different from just day-to-day interactions. I'm talking Jacquie's emails, and Postman's and Laura's comments, and deep talks with customers/co-workers at the cafe, philosophizing with sister D and Father, Mother's constant caring, laughing without reservation with brother J and other J, making eye-contact with that young busker in the subway, even when people stop me in the hall and say "I know you"... it provides the grease for the axle of my world.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Number whatever

I just read my friend A's post.
I love the way she has of seeing the world. Even when it makes me introspective and sad for no real reason, I love it.
I am watching an old woman watch weird video's on youtube. She smells bad, and the video's are of spinning circles, and people hanging themselves. She bobs her head in time to some internal rhythm, or maybe it's to the beat of the victim's silent cries. The girl two computers down from me has her headphones in and a cold, so she breathes loudy through her mouth and sniffles. There is something so heart-rendingly realistic about public libraries; the people and their faults and their quirks and things are unclean and Not Nice.
Today I was jolted out of my comfort zone by an unexpected meeting with someone I would rather not see, though there are no hard feelings between us. It's cool. But still. It's left me unbalanced, slightly off-tilt, and I wish that someone somewhere could have warned me, so I could have had even a second or two to prepare...instead it was like a stupid bolt of lightning thrown down by a malevolent god.
There are two people in front of me who are working on a group project. She plays with her hair, twisting it round a finger slowly and delibrately, and he yawns and stretches his arms...accidentally brushes her shoulder and apologizes.
I wish I had a scarf on today. The breeze is going down the back of my neck.
I wish I hadn't worn my hair so severely pulled back. It hurts, but if I took it down now it would look like a mad-woman's.
Like the old woman in front of me.
I wish I could have slept on the couch in the sun today. Let it soak in my my goldeness.
Seriously, I would be fine right now if it hadn't been so sudden. It was nowhere even near the forefront of my brain, then BAM!
Hey Jane!
(slow movement of head, looking for the source of sound)
Spotted, with a friend. I wave, not believing it, hoping it's not.
Heeeeeyy...what's up? How are you doing?
I walk over and lean against the wall. My stomach has disappeared. My brain is a mist. Speak, mouth, say anything.
Hi. What are you doing here?
He's not supposed to be here. This is my portion of the city. Stop going red, darnit.
Oh, just picking up the university chicks.
Ha. Ha. (I look at his friend.) It's Tom, right? (I bloody well know it's Tom. But play along.)
Tom nods at me, a small smile on his mouth. I get a shiver. He doesn't speak.

I wish I was living in a villa in the South of France. Or digging through the dirt with a dusty, sweat-stained face and a sore back, uncovering fragments of human existence.
I wish there was a place where humanity didn't touch. I know it doesn't really make sense, but it would be so refreshing to just sit in a room, a world, a universe that wasn't ying-and-yang...everything somewhat tainted and mixed together.

Well, I've got an essay to write.
They look at me, waiting for the klutzy, off-balance, red-cheeked girl to make another move.
A big essay. (Darn. Why did I just say that? I didn't need to clarify. Pull yourself together.) Luckily, another guy walks over and joins them, shouting Hello!
I look sideways at him, and slide along the wall, leather jacket scraping on the brick, saying I'll see you later (not meaning it) and he says Talk to you soon to my back as I escape.
I wish I hadn't eaten so much sushi for lunch.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Thank You Laura

The lovely Laura has been too kind once again, and passed on this Sunshine Award to me. Laura, thank you so much, you are very sweet and funny, and do I really have to say another 10 things about me?? C'mon, a girl needs some mystery left...
So I'll do my 10 favourite movies. They change often, but these are the 10 that are most consistently in there (and these are no particular order)
1) Lost in Translation
Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, both in Tokyo and start a platonic relationship. Poignant, sweet, unclear, and a wonderful example of how travelling throws people together unexpectedly.
2) The Princess Bride
A classic. It has everything: sword fights, monsters, romance, and mystery. Also, it was the only movie our family owned for a while, so my siblings and I are pretty good at saying the lines along with Wesley (oh Wesley), and Buttercup.
3) The Darjeeling Limited
A Wes Anderson film about three brothers travelling in India. Hilarious, great music, and lovely scenery.
4) Ferris Bueller's Day Off
I love it. I just love it so much. It's 80's teen-hood encapsulated.
5)The Royal Tennenbaums
Another Wes Anderson, about this kooky family that's far from perfect. Again, love the music and the artistry that is in the details.
6) Gone With the Wind
I will gladly sit through all 238 minutes of this. The drama and the feeling just sweeps me along with it, and I love Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara.
7) Breakfast At Tiffany's
Hey, what girl doesn't adore this movie? I want to BE Holly Golightly sometimes, and play guitar on the fire escape, and hold wild parties that last until next morning, and live in an apartment by myself with a stray cat, and find ballet slippers in the fridge...
8) The Great Escape
I think Postman might like this one. It's a war movie, with Steve McQueen, and while there are so many humourous moments underneath there runs this current that tragedy awaits.
9) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Paul Newman, Robert Redford as charming felons who run all over the place being charming and felonious.
10) Zoolander
Ahahaha, sooo many awesome lines have come from this hilarious movie about a male model. I finally got my dad to watch it, and now he joins in the conversation about being ridiculously good-looking, and getting the black lung, and having "walk offs" with frienemies.
Finally, here are some pictures from the latest Canmore fiasco. This is me being all artsy and taking a picture off the bridge.

K, me, Mel, and S

Me, Katherine, Mel at the very crowded, but lovely, Banff Hot Springs
in order (L to R) Katherine, Kelsey, Mel, Me, K, and S on the main street.
This is very typical K and I. I am force-feeding her some of my bagel because I probably said something or rather and then felt bad, so to make it up to her I am giving her my food. Which accounts for my sheepish expression. Only a best-friend would take that as a sorry, right?
A tres elegant Mel, looking European as always.
My darling S. This was taken after we had watched Canada win our first gold medal, and we were very, very happy.
I want to say a little word about S.
I didn't like her at first. But ever since she forced me to stop seeing her as a "Riverbender" when we shared a spare in grade 11, I have been ever so grateful. She is one of the most loyal, generous, self-sacrificing friends I have ever met. This summer when I was too hot to sleep and plagued with nightmares about my life, I could count on her to answer her phone on first ring and drive with me to Denny's, even at one in the morning. It was air-conditioned, and we would listen to loud music in the car to chase away demons. She has this way of getting to know the people in your life, so that when you are having issues she knows exactly what's up. The three of us, (K, S, and I) make up a magical trio of fun and adventure, and I have no idea what I would have done without them. They are the backbone of my life here, and it breaks my heart to think of leaving them.
But that's what I do. I leave, my family moves, and we start again. Before now I have always accepted that as my fate, and believe me, there is nothing I like more than moving and travelling... but the thought of not having K and S there to help me this time... I harden myself normally to protect against this, and I will be fine. Really, I'll be fine.