Saturday, December 31, 2011

S.F. Day 5

If this is winter, then this is heaven. I can wear a sweater and sweat in the sun. Yesterday we took the bus to Cow Hollow, and, as my father just said when I asked him to remind me what we did yesterday, he said "Well, you pouted"... and it's true, I did. I was unhappy hangin' with the yuppies in their Ugg boots and leggings and Louis Vuitton bags and Volvos. So instead us kids found a cafe, ordered coffee, and read the paper and wrote notes. While staring outside at the mist.

And then we saw Party of Two- a Mating Musical that night at the Shelton Theatre, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

And now I am writing this while watching Big Bang Theory with the fam, celebrating New Years Eve by having pizza, wine, Fernet Branca, prosecco, and now Japanese single malt whiskey, before we head out for some improv thing my mother found online. Next New Year's who knows where we will be? I am having the feeling that my family, my close knit, always together, always there for me family, will be split up by next year. Is that life? I guess I'll find out.  Happy New Year, everyone.

Friday, December 30, 2011

S.F. Day 4

Yesterday I got sick of being in close quarters with the fam, so I ran down Columbus Street to the bookstore and sequestered myself upstairs by a big window in a wooden arm chair with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and snuck peeks at everyone who came up the stairs and tried to seem mysterious and appealing and like a book character to the young good looking guys with their girlfriends.

Later I met my father in Chinatown and we foraged among the shops and bought bahn mi and noodles and sticky rice and BBQ pork buns for D. Then the whole family went down to the docks and we caught a ferry in the dusk and fog to Alcatraz, just entirely Gothic and freaky, and wandered around in the dark there. Avoiding the ghosts, though there were relatively few. Came back on the late boat, chilled and curly, and moved as if in a daze through the Disney-land world of Pier 39 (carousels and cigarettes and flashy lights), smelled Fishmans Wharf, and then after a lot of walking and asking people for directions and grumbling and saying accusing things like: You said you knew where this restaurant was! and Why on earth can't we just go home? we found it, a Belgian beer and appetizers sort of thing.

3 orders of French fries, 12 kinds of dipping sauce, 6 different beers, and a couple of salads later, we stumbled home in an exhausted fug.
That was yesterday.

Number 8., by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

It was a face which darkness could kill
      in an instant
a face as easily hurt
      by laughter or light

  'We think differently at night'
      she told me once
lying back languidly

     And she would quote Cocteau

'I feel there is an angel in me' she'd say
    'whom I am constantly shocking'

  Then she would smile and look away 
 light a cigarette for me
    sigh and rise

and stretch
 her sweet anatomy

         let fall a stocking

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

S.F. Day 3

The fog and the sea winds weaving all over in between buildings cause my hair to come alive and snake-like, forming cords after being outside all day. How can I describe my two favourite parts of the city so far? North Beach, with Cafe Trieste every morning, and the Beat haunts, and the normal people who say hi and talk to one another, and who stare at you friendly-like.
And then there is Haight Ashbury, where we went today, and it was unlike any place I've ever been- hippies, lots of young street people with dreads and fashionably high cheekbones, dirty sidewalks, insane shopping. It felt grungy and real and yet popularized, almost bordering on fake.
We also went to a ferry port market thing, and bought some good bread and cheese for lunch. Squabbled all day, tempers bordering on sensitive and over-reacting. We've been on vacation together since Dec. 23, and it's starting to show. Today was our last day with the Morrison's, and while it was lovely to see them it will be relaxing to be able to go back to being our normal disfunctional selves.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

S.F. Day 2

Early breakfast of pastries and coffee and quiche, then we met our friends in front of the big white Italian church where Marilyn Monroe married Joe Di Maggio, and walked around the area on a free walking tour. Of course, our father's (nicknamed the Giant and the Midget) soon sloped off somewhere to drink whiskey and smoke cigars and buy candy, and after an hour of laughing inappropriately and generally horsing around the walking tour passed Cafe Trieste, close to our apartment, so us kids ran away as well, leaving our poor suffering mothers to walk some more.
We arrived at the apartment to find that the Giant and the Midget had locked themselves on the roof by accident, and after we set them free we took over, bought pizza and beer for lunch, and sat on the edge of the roof dangling our legs over and throwing pebbles at pigeons.

Then us kids wandered down to Union Square, pushed through crowds on busy streets and goggled at Prada and Chanel and Tiffany's. We had wanted to catch the Street train to Haight Ashbury, but D got distracted by Westbury mall, and so while everyone else shopped Nordstroms and Bloomingdales, J and I went back to Union Square and sat on the steps and people watched. Ice skaters and a Menorah being set up beside the ginormous Christmas tree.

Then we called our parents, saying Feed Us, we are hungry! And they said they were getting wine and chips and peanuts so we ran back to North Beach and gobbled that down, playing Clue and being rowdy. After appies we all walked down to the City Lights bookstore, and I fell in love with it and never wanted to leave but it was getting late and we had dinner reservations in Chinatown. So then we walked there and we ate at a big round table and the food was hot and fast and good and we all laughed, but then got tired at the end and my eyes were becoming squinty due to tiredness and fresh air and exercise.

Ran up the hills to get back to the apartment. My legs were wobbly by the top again. Muscle!

Monday, December 26, 2011

San Francisco Day 1

My family and I are going to be in San Francisco for 8 days. I will try to record at least something every day. But I know me, and you know me, and keeping to rules set by myself is not my strong point.

This morning at 3 a.m. I woke with a start when I thought I heard someone knock on my door. I lay awake in the dark, eyes wide open, and listened intently, adrenaline pumping, for the knock to come again. It didn't, so I drifted off to sleep again when at the last moment before unconsciousness, I was certain someone had just come in to my room.
Again, my eyes flew open. This time, my imagination started running riot and I thought I heard voices speaking in my mind, harsh voices telling me things I shuddered to hear, and I twisted and turned and tried to block them out.
It was NOT a good night before flying out. I awoke at 8 the next morning, already exhausted and drained, to my father singing: "Where is your passport? Where is your passport?"
The flight was cramped and my hair was greasy. I wore my hardly-used glasses to disguise my red, tired eyes.
But then I was very glad to discover that, underneath my layers of sweaters and home-bodyness, a born traveller still lurked.
And as we descended over the Bay of San Francisco, a bubble of excitement grew. There was foggy clouds and green and brown landscapes, and once we got in the taxi and were on our way to our apartment in North Beach I couldn't stop squealing and saying over and over how excited I was to be here, and staring with wide eyes at the clapboard houses painted all different colours, and the hills and the trees and the people and the shops.
So many cool things to see, like a feast for my poor stunted mind.
D and J and I kept poking one another, though we were starving, pointing out interesting clothed people and buildings.
Once we had dropped our bags off at the apartment and dusk fell, we walked down Grant St. and stopped at Golden Boy pizza for some nourishment. We were meeting our old friends the Morrison's at 7, but the smell and the sight of the pizza in the front window was too much to resist. A six-pack of of San Francisco Steam beer and a bag of popcorn completed the dinner.

We are leaving in 20 minutes to walk to the Palace Hotel to meet up the Morrison's, and I am sure many hilarious hijinks will ensue. Part of me wants to sleep now, curled up with my copy of the Sisters Brothers, and greet the morning fresh-faced, but it is not to be. The party must go on!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Wish

I don't think it is just Christmas. I think that I've worked hard at this, put in time and effort and thought and heart, for it is very rarely that you get something from nothing. But for the past few months, after I hid my head figuratively in the sand, I feel so surrounded by love. I would say right now that my family is the most important thing to me. My family has always been there, and always will be. Sometimes I forget this, and go off searching for new unconditional love sources, but I always come crawling back to my family eventually. Sometimes I forget that where we are living now is not going to be forever, and when a sudden change occurs it is a reminder to huddle closer to the family core, to depend and rely on them and them alone.
I love my friends, very much indeed. Without them I wouldn't be sane. But my ultimate loyalty doesn't lie with them.
And lately, when boys are trying to shift our friendship into something deeper, I can see that they aren't strong enough, aren't serious and deep and wide enough to want to live somewhere else. Maybe that's the problem with Edmonton boys. They are comfortable here, and for them, comfort is the highest level they strive for.
I want to strive for more than just comfort. More than just fine, dandy, happy. More than just OK. I swear, this place has sucked me into a vortex of being complacent and accepting of my life however it looks. I want more. I need more. I want better, higher, faster, stronger.

Last night at the Christmas Eve service, I knew in my utmost soul that HE would be there. And afterwards, as I was flying around the lobby in my heels and fur coat, I saw Him out of the corner of my eye. I thought I was used to this, but still my face burned then all the blood drained away and I was sweating and shaking. Should I go say hello? It's been 3 1/2 years now, I can do this. And I turned my back to Him, took off my coat and scarf, and ran. I ran all the way down the stairs and through the doors to where my friend was standing, and I grabbed her hand, trembling, said He is here. Just in the lobby. I can't go back out there.

She knew who I was talking about. Darling, are you sure? Put on your coat now, and your scarf. You look beautiful. Stop shaking. I'll walk out there with you.

Mutely I obeyed, still holding her hand, plastered a smile on my frozen face, and we walked out. He wasn't there. He was gone.
I swear He was here just two minutes ago, I said. Of course, maybe you were just imagining it dear.
No no, I protested. He was there, talking to an older man, with slicked back hair and blending in as always.
Euro-trash, she muttered. Well, I'm glad I can call Him that now.
I managed the beginnings of a real smile at that. Ha, yeah, He kind of is Euro-trash, eh?

Later, because none of my family saw Him, and I was feeling like a paranoid schizophrenic for imagining Him into existence on Christmas Eve, I texted Dr. Sexy (one of His old best friends) and asked if He had been there. Yes, said Dr. Sexy, He was there. How are you?
Merry Christmas, I replied. Thank you for proving my sanity.

One year, when I am maybe not so young and naieve, and perhaps I have returned here for a visit after a long absence, I know I will run into him and be able to greet him graciously and maturely and generously.  The time will come when my body and brain don't shut down and go into fight or flight mode. I'd like to be looking beautiful and successful and have a gorgeous man or two on my arm, but if that's too much to ask for, then just make me kind. 

Merry Christmas everyone, and may you all be filled with joy and light and most importantly love, and I wish with all my heart that no one runs into their ex's for the rest of the holidays. Be safe.

Friday, December 23, 2011

We make better friends than lovers, anyways.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Last night, while relaxing in the kitchen with my family and a big glass of wine and getting dinner sorted, my mother poked my thigh and said, Honey, are you sure you don't want to go to the doctor and see if you have a parasite?

Everyone stopped talking (it's sort of a conversation killer), and looked at me. I laughed, half embarrassed and half angry. Why, mother, do you think I have a parasite?
I already knew the answer but I wanted to provoke her.

I think you've lost weight, honey, and besides, didn't you say you drank out of animal troughs in Switzerland?

Yeah, but it was like once, and that was two years ago...

My sister leaned in then too and said, Yeah, I think you're more skinny than ever.
I looked down at myself. I hadn't thought much about it lately.

What do you weigh? My mother continued to pry.

I don't know. I don't own a scale. I think it's unhealthy.

Well, I want you to weigh yourself sometime this week.

Thankfully my father jumped in with, Oh, just leave her alone. She is fine.

And then I said, Yeah, it's not like I was fat and then I all the sudden became skinny. I've always been skinny. I feel fine. If I felt sick, I would go see a doctor.

But having a parasite can lead to all kinds of things, like colitis...
-Mom. Stop it. I don't have a parasite.

But ever since then, I have been conscious of my bones sticking out of my skin, and when I rub the back of my neck I feel my spine. When my friend Sean was massaging me the other day he kept commenting on how he could count my ribs through my shoulder blades, but he said he liked it. And later that night he told me he loved me, but that is an awkward story for another time. My legs and stomach feel normal, but my shoulders do feel fragile and small. Maybe it's because I've been spending all my days inside studying for finals, but I feel like I'm becoming more transparent and unattached to the ground then ever. Half of me seems lost inside another world, not a physical one, but near this one. I don't know.

Maybe it comes from too much reading, I don't know. My mother also said she didn't want to buy me the book on my Christmas list (The Bell Jar) because it was about a woman's descent into madness. Maybe she can sense that sometimes I feel too close to the edge of some precipice, and that it would just be easier if I threw myself off it. What glorious things would I see in the abyss? What beautiful, unworldly things would I see?

Sometimes when I'm feeling extra thin, and half gone, it's these things that I think I see in that other world, in my dreams, the one where there the rest of me is. It's not a parasite that's devouring me, mother and sister and Sean and you random strangers who come up to me and praise me for my slenderness (how sick is that?), it's not a worm or a disease or a mental illness. I can't change it as much as I can change my height. It's because half of me is missing. Half of me is somewhere else, not here. Sometimes I can almost believe that I can see right through my skin. If you held me up to the light, I would glow redly and warmly, and you would be able to vaguely perceive shapes moving about on the other side.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Weekend Escape

 the 13 foot Christmas tree we decorated. It smelt so good, and even though the melting snow and the spruce needles made a mess, it is so well worth it to get a real Christmas tree and not plastic if you can.

the bare, dead Christmas fields.

I'm not sure what kind of mood it was exactly that drove me to so stubbornly pack my overnight bag and leave the city with my friend Linds the last weekend before final exams. There were many signs that I should have stayed- S had bought me a ticket ages ago to a Midway State concert with her and K, and since they knew the band it would have meant a crazy after party and fun times for sure. D wanted me to switch shifts with her at the cafe, and besides having a sculpture due on Tuesday and a paper on Wednesday, there was the usual chores of cleaning, buying Christmas presents, getting the laundry done, completing a painting, and starting prep for a massive party at my place next week.
But I had never been met Linds' family before, and I knew that they lived in a huge place (160 acres) 2 1/2 hours North of the city, and Linds' was one of my closest friends, and really the only reason why I survived Rome for the month of August last summer.
So I went up with her on Friday, and I am so incredibly glad that I did. We caught the bus to St. Albert, and then her mom picked us up in a big white truck, along with thousands of dollars worth of groceries for the ski hill that they her family managed in the winter.
This whole weekend was a blur of people coming and going, visiting and bringing Christmas baking, of drinking eggnog with rum and mulled wine and Caesers and martini's and eating, oh my, so much eating all day and night long, constantly trying these delicious foods and then having seconds at dinner, and Saturday morning Linds and I bundled up and went for a long hike through some trails in the snow, and then Saturday afternoon we decorated the Christmas tree for 5 hours with whoever was around at the time helping out. The tree was 13 feet tall, the biggest I've seen, and so beautiful. One night we ran through the snow in our swimsuits to the Finnish sauna on the other side of the tree line, and poured water on the rocks to create steam and got the heat up to 90 degrees Celcius, and then rolled in the snow screaming, the sweat and the melting snow on our bodies creating a burning sensation.

We were so far in the middle of the wild, that apparently they often saw moose, and of course deer and black bears, and once they had a cougar around, and a few months ago a wolf pack stopped by.

It was so Christmas-y, all white fields with golden stubble poking through, and broken down fences and haunted old barns, and heavy skies, and one morning it dumped snow for a couple of hours, and there were ravens eating a deserted pile of grain. Unmistakably Albertan, with white and red pipes sticking 20 feet into the air with big constant flames coming out of the top indicating the presence of oil. Such a decadent weekend, so loving and laughing and beautiful, and for the first time in about 5 years, I am actually beginning to anticipate Christmas and enjoy just the cheer and good will in the air.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Maybe Later

Today was not a day to expect much from, but I was given so little to go on that for the entire day I felt hollow and empty so that if someone had rapped me sharply on my head, I'm pretty sure it would have *DOING*-ed like a church bell.
Every bite I ate did nothing to fill my stomach. I could sense the hunger behind my eyes, and people walking by regarded me warily, like one does a wolf.
Not that I see many wolves around here, but you know. They could be there.
And it was cold, and grey, and I didn't venture outside once between the hours of 10 a.m. and 7 p.m., which is basically from dawn to very very dark..
And I said things too harshly to my friends and my sister, and now everyone is mad at me but I don't have the brain space to worry about it right now, just like I don't have the time to do my laundry or clean my bathroom or finish my painting or put away my clean dishes or go Christmas shopping or even be nice to my parents. I don't have the energy to look the cute guy in the eye because I feel greasy and sad and too thin and I can't bring myself to pull up some confidence and smile. Not now. Maybe next week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rough Travelling in Cyprus

 the three of us, after hitching a ride with some university professors to the tip of Cyprus
 the lawn chair that we used as a wind breaker in our cave on the beach
 the really quite cool old people on the tour we first hitched a ride from
the last little town before there were no more towns or villages

This is me, who after hibernating for weeks and letting my brain turn into mush from too much school and not enough dreaming, this is me remembering the second time I ever hitchhiked and how absolutely terrified I was to stick my thumb out, to open myself to the world and the road and every single car going past. I don't like to draw attention to myself like that. I feel it is invoking attention that is not positive, or negative, it is just a split second discernment by the drivers going by of who you are, where you are from, where you are going, and why.
The three of us caught a bus as far North as we could, and then started walking on the  main road out of town. I knew that we wanted to head North, North East-ish, and there was a sign eventually that pointed to a monastery and so we followed that road. We walked through a quiet neighbourhood, all little run down huts with yards with chickens and pigs and goats in them, and then we came upon a little grocery store so we bought a loaf of bread, some chocolate spread, a pack of biscuits, and three bananas. And then we kept on walking.
C had done the most hiking before, and he calculated that if we didn't find a ride it would take us around 10 hours to walk with our packs. It was a mild day, almost too warm, and it felt like limbo to not know exactly where we were or where we were going. We had a vague destination (Golden Beach) but other than that we had no guide books or maps or even sleeping bags. Looking back, it was quite foolish of us to just march off along this highway into a National Park with no supplies.
Luckily, we had walked for about 20 minutes before a large bus drove past us, and D stuck out her thumb. To our surprise, it actually stopped for us, and we ran to catch up to it, and hopped on to find it was a tour bus from a fancy hotel full of old English and German tourists going to see the Park and the monastery (the same one we had seen the sign for) for the day. The tour guide welcomed us, asked where we were headed, and said that they could drop us off at Golden Beach on their way back from the monastery. So we stowed our packs, and sat at the very back with an elderly couple from Cambridge. They were cool, obviously, since they had chosen to sit at the very back.

We chatted with them, and they asked us where we were from and why we were in the deepest backwaters of Cyprus, and I think they felt a little parently towards us. Which was OK, because it was sort of nice to have someone know where we were and to worry about us. None of our real parents had any idea, nor had they heard from us in a week.

After we saw the monastery, we said goodbye to the old tourists and the tour guide gave us a little map and his phone number in case we ran into trouble before dropping us off at Golden Beach. It was late afternoon by then, and we had had a long day and were looking for a sort of "free shelter". We found a bunch of bungalows and a reception hut that all looked deserted, and we tried the locks on the doors and found them all open but unfurnished. Then someone had the brilliant idea of trying the windows on the reception building, through which we could see had a couple of couch type structures, and voila! The windows were open. So we had shelter for the night. We sat at the picnic tables there on the beach and ate our bread, chocolate, bananas, and most of the biscuits. We were very hungry. Then we wandered the sand and explored the dunes until sunset, and then came back to the shelter area. We sat at the picnic table again and played cards and talked with our flashlights, and I had the brilliant idea of starting a story telling thing, that could be continued for weeks if we chose to write them down and then share them. Around 9 o'clock p.m. we crept through the open window of the reception building, put on all our layers of clothing, and wrapped ourselves in our towels. We were very afraid that someone would come out of the darkness and demand what we were doing, and kick us out into the night. There were a couple of strange lights we saw, and we sent C to investigate while D and I clutched each other tightly and tried not to scream. It was very cold that night, and none of us slept well.

Luckily the sun encouraged us to get up soon enough, and we packed our bags and dragged them down to the beach and hid them in some bushes right before the owners of the place came driving up the road, but they caught C leaving the reception hut. He told them some story about how we was just wondering how much it cost a night to sleep there, and they didn't question him further. He met us back on the beach, and we decided to try sleeping in the cave we had found the day before while exploring the dunes. It was a little sandy cave on the side of the dune, hidden by some bushes, with a shallow rock formation as the roof, but there wasn't much shelter from the wind, and we were afraid of the cold. So I tried dragging a broken lawn chair we found back to the cave as a sort of wind breaker, but we could tell that without a fire we would still freeze.  It was warm during the days, but since it was still only early April, at night the temperature dropped and the strong wind was cool.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Letter to K and S, in our Old Age

When all is said and done, my friends, this is where I want to be:
sitting on a shady porch in the summer time, on a squeaky rocking chair dressed in a long silk dress that feels like cool water on my skin, with a cardigan. There you are, Sab, and Kirsten, old and wrinkled and falling to bits, hardly recognizable from the young things we are today. But we wouldn’t see that, because we see each other almost every day and have seen each other our whole lives. Through getting jobs and moving away, when emails and messages and phone calls are enough because we are pursuing our dreams, to getting married (Kirsten’s will be very cool, hip, expensive, and surprisingly traditional. Sab’s will be colourful and full of loud music and a dance party and unconventional twists. Andrea’s will most likely be something hippy, with bare feet and a BBQ and an outdoor ceremony.) and having our husbands be friends who roll their eyes at us when we gossip and drink too much wine and are silly, to having hordes of children run around Kirsten’s backyard, Sab telling hers to be extra nice to Andrea’s bookish, shy ones, while Kirsten’s are bossy and well mannered. 
Even when our children grow up and move out, and we search for new meaning to fill our days, and our husbands aren’t as sexy as they used to be, and we aren’t either with our grey hair and saggy boobs, we will still hang out and support one another through our parents dying and through big life changes. And little ones too, like changing the colour of the living room to an awful colour and being so embarrassed. Kirsten will pray and then help you move furniture, Sab will tell you what you need to hear even when no one else wants to tell you, and Andrea will listen and write. All are needed to get the most out of life. 
And then, in very twilight years of life, when our friends have been put into homes and our husbands have passed on, when you almost welcome death because you are afraid to be the last one standing, the one who has to suffer through seeing them all go before you, we will sit on creaky rocking chairs and sip on iced Tea. We will cackle at stupid jokes, and make vixen eyes at old men, and whistle at the hot young things. Kirsten will be constantly knitting something for the poor, or her great grandchildren, Sab will be adjusting her earpiece because she is so deaf from listening to loud music when she was young, and Andrea will be secretly adding something alcoholic to their iced Tea. This kind of Love, this decade transcending Love, is what will be waiting for us on that porch. It’s not the same kind of love we will have for our spouses, but it is just as powerful, if not more so. This kind of Love is what guarantees that we will not die alone, but rather slip gracefully away in the night with your two best friends holding your hands, saying, see you in a while, it won’t be long now, they could never separate us for long. 
And that, my friends, is why we should never be afraid of what is ahead, because at the end of it all, and through the middle and the beginning and the thick and the thin, we are there for one another. Love is the most important thing, and we are rich in it. 
I like writing secrets and truthful tough things on paper, rather then the computer. Paper can be burnt, ripped into a thousand pieces, dissolved in water or the toilet, eaten by my dog, buried in the bottom of a box of junk on its way to Value Village, whereas once it's typed, it's permanent. It feels cathartic to put the worst thoughts and stories imaginable on something so full of possibilites.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

He makes me upset. He has the capacity to ruin my entire day, make me shake and feel dizzy and pale and short of breath and like I want to cry. Why can't he leave me alone? Why can't I leave him alone either? He has made it very clear that he doesn't want to be friends, doesn't want to be anything but lovers, and I don't agree.
But he told Robyn that we had a chemistry that he couldn't ignore, that I was purposely avoiding but that existed more strongly then he had ever felt before, and that that was the reason why, after 4 years, he gambled everything he had and lost.
I don't agree, I don't agree, I don't agree. His telling me he wants to be with me in only a sexual way makes me feel like a slut, a whore, used and hurt and bruised. AND YET- I loved him once. We did have a bond between us. I feel like this isn't the boy I know, he would never act like this, and that's why it hurts.
And the reason I shake and go pale and feel dizzy every time I see him, or hear from him, is because once I thought I did know him, and the him I once knew would never lie, and so maybe- just maybe- he is right about this too. Maybe we do belong together, and I am blind. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Most of the time I feel apart. Once in a while I’ll get this feeling of belonging, of being not whole and separate and contained but joined with others in a strange way. But most of the time it’s individual. 
I like it. Not all the time of course, but usually I like being on my own planet. It’s protective, because you can stare out all you want and they can stare in, but no one can touch you. 
Once in a while, I’ve had people join me. For instance there was Ivan, for years and years we were on the same plane of existence without actually ever touching. And there was Jill, for a time, and Scott before he went away, and maybe someday I’ll meet someone who isn’t like me, exactly, but complimentary to me, and it will work out to benefit the world beautifully. 
For now though I want to be true and brave and keep my head above the water. I want to be settled in my skin, to feel my bones are my bones, my sinews are my sinews, my blood is my blood. That my eyes aren’t just eyes, but a way of exploration. To feel, really feel, the clothing against my skin and your skin on my skin and the world on my skin. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Je ne sais quoi

(me, my sis, bro, and Father, waiting for a train in Calais, France, 1998. My mother always tried to dress us well, especially when we were living in Europe. As an adult it is more difficult to blend in with the locals then when you were a child!)

(me, D, somewhere near Flanders, 1998)

(me, Nic, Jacq, near Notre Dame in Paris, 2008. On our way to get breakfast croissants from a bakery in the Left Bank.)

(in the Louvre, after wandering Paris by myself. I would spend hours in the statue garden or find some niche and just sit and write.)

I knew it. I just KNEW it. For years I've been trying to emulate that certain "Frenchness", that I-don't-know-what it is style of dressing. Where you look incredibly put together yet undone, careless and carefree, but it's impossible to look bad because every single item of clothing you own is beautiful, tailored, unique, no matter what the combination is.
My favourite French blogger, Garance Dore, tried to explain it once.

Maybe it's stripes.
I own 10+ striped shirts of various styles. It's gotten ridiculous.

Maybe it's scarves.
I wear a scarf, or two in the winter, almost every day. In the Arctic it's not so much a fashion statement as a necessity for survival.

Maybe it's layers.
Yep, I layer. Again, with the whole trying to stay warm to not freeze off your limbs thing.

But now I know what it is, at least, I think so. IT IS A MINDSET. It is a sexiness that comes from not caring too much what you wear because you know you look beautiful no matter what. It is a "I have a life, and places to go, and people to love, so I don't have hours to spend on dressing in the morning". No wonder every piece a Frenchwoman owns is perfect: they would have to be when you just throw on clothes and run. It's a desire to look stylish, but not an all consuming desire: the most important things in life are not clothes and fashion, but rather your family, your friends, books, world news, having fun, working hard, eating well, admiring art, and hot yoga. And of course you need to look amazing while doing so, because a Frenchwoman knows that appearance is important.

Such a balance. To care enough not to care.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Le Terrible is Back

This is a terrible picture of Le Terrible. He looks creepy. Maybe he is.
Not long after saying that Le Terrible had left my life forever, he returned. This afternoon, in fact.

I hadn't seen him in months, but everyone else had. Today, though, I managed to run into him 3 times in the space of an hour. Twice I could avoid eye contact and duck through doors. The third time though, I confronted the wolf. My stomach was twisted in knots, and my head felt full of blood and air. The way I gave myself strength to approach him was my ol' tried and true method of asking myself: WWND? Or, What Would Nolan Do?( Nolan being the first breaker of my heart when I was 20 years old, but he had extraordinary social skills that I still sometimes find myself emulating today.)
So I walked up to where he was sitting, and said Hey, how's it going?
He didn't speak for two seconds, and I thought he was going to ignore me completely, and I felt myself dying of embarrassment. Then he said
I saw you sitting up there, in Skyview.
And then I was out of control motor-mouthing:
Oh yeah, it's a good place to sit, to perch like a vulture, you know, just watch people and prey? Hahaha, but the seats are so uncomfortable, I don't know why I still sit up there, the chairs are bolted to the ground and don't move, and there is no leg room, haha, you know...
He half smiled, his eyes never leaving my face.
Look, I've got to go practice my Italian script, I said, probably blushing furiously by now.
Ok, he said.
Ok, bye, see ya, and I waved as I walked off.
I'm just glad I got it over with. It made me feel mature, the whole polite saying hi thing. It had to happen some time, we do run in the same circles.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Anthems for a 22-year old girl

Park that car.
Drop that phone.
Sleep on the floor,
Dream about me.

Used to be one of the rotten ones, and I liked you for that.

-broken social scene

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Le Terrible Is Gone

Something snapped in Le Terrible. I suppose I may be at least half to blame; I mean, I am the one who comes and goes constantly, leaving the country, leaving reality, but coming back and expecting our friendship to be the same.
Did I expect too much from him? 4 years of hard beaten friendship, hammered out of pain and experience, chiselled from the rocks in the deepest pits, we carved something rough but beautiful. Maybe I ignored the signs, the fact that every time we started hanging out again when I returned he would very quickly and regularly break up with the girl he had been seeing while I was gone. I should have left enough alone.
But I was proud of this friendship we had, the fact that we had managed to truly stay friends after dating. I would brag about it to people, tell them, Oh, he is still one of my best friends. We will be friends forever. Le Terrible and I, well, we moved past our differences. Aren't we mature?

Maybe it's true, maybe guys and girls can't be friends after dating. Maybe one will always be secretly still hoping, still in love with the other.
I thought I was the exception to the rule. Turns out I'm just the same as everyone else.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Common

It was a new and improved feeling from last time; it had been forever. It followed the age old pattern of walking in from the cold, dark, into the warm, dark, and feeling the eyes sticking to my back, the too long stares. Keep the fear under control, don't be intimidated or care what anyone thinks, half-smile and avoid eye contact. Order a drink, stand too close to my girls, my beautiful friends, huddle a bit, herd mentality.
But this time the loosening came faster than normal and soon the fear evaporated completely and it was safe to scan the room, search out the cutest boys and make fun of the girls throwing themselves at them. Something inside me rejoiced at being in this situation again, the unspoken competition of trying to look the coolest, the smell of spilled martini's and the gross men hidden in the shadows with their expensive watches and cigarette butt eyes. The girls in their tight dresses and the boys in their plaid shirts clutching glass stems and each other's waists.

Alanna, K, and I lounged against the booth and made vixen eyes at potential targets while pretending to talk to one another, laughing at the results when we succeeded. Then this man sidles up to us, and because we are bored and because his foot taps oh so enticingly to the glorious music we laugh at him too and then let him talk to us and he is funny. He plays each of us equally and for that I am thankful, because too often one or another of us is singled out and that's not Fun at all anymore. But then, he asks me if I was a ballerina, and I told him yes, for 13 years, and he says he is a dancer too, but a different kind. A belly dancer.
Oh! Says Alanna, Please, show us some steps!
I can do better, he says with a wink at K, a touch on Alanna's shoulder, and a hip bump to me. I will teach you 3 basic moves.
We are soon grinding to the floor, swinging our hips round and round, and laughing and laughing and laughing. The cute boys across the room look on enviously as we completely ignore them and create magic in our own little bubble, and then Vi (his name is Vi) is introducing us to his friends, gorgeous men and women who flatter our vanity, saying We noticed you when you came in, you are all so beautiful, so young and beautiful, and the women are tugging on Vi's arm, saying Invite them to the party next week, they seem so nice, and we are laughing at them too and, as is always the way with youth, the more nice things people say about us, the more we glow and light up.

We have to leave, we say, it is late and we need to go, and Vi is saying But stay! You are such fun! We are having fun! And we laugh some more, give him all 3 of our numbers with the promise to attend the Redneck Wine and Cheese party, while the boys across the room stab Vi with eye-daggers and fall on their swords with disappointment. We bundle into our coats and scarves and giggle our way outside, where we link arms to stay warm and run back to Alanna's apartment, trailing stardust in our wake.

Friday, October 14, 2011


In July I drove 16 hours by myself to Vancouver, and stayed with some old friends from Austria. One day we went down to White Rock, the town I was born in, and got burned sitting in the sun on the beach. Marvellous.
After Vancouver, I drove inland 7 hours by myself to Christina Lake. I stayed for a week with my grandparents at their cabin, and it was the hot, dry, dusty weather I was looking for.
FINALLY my two best friends, K and S, came back from Bali and Hong Kong in mid-July. For some reason, with them being gone I felt I had a license to go wild. When they returned, shit hit the fan and consequences made themselves felt. But everything worked out.
I spent quite a few summer weekends out at my neighbours farm, just puttering around on their old bike and tractor.
This is my sister D and our friend M, and he was always around our house. Eventually, K, S, and I started teasing them about dating. It isn't true, but they do make a cute couple.
Many festivals this summer.
I switched it up a bit this summer for work, and instead of waitressing at the cafe, I tried working in the kitchen. I LOVED IT so much. I made fabulous friends, got to make fabulous food, and was so busy and exhausted that I had no time for blogging.

But now school is in full swing, and I still have a year and a half left of my degree. I have a suspicion that I will be writing lots more, mainly as procrastination! Stories of my summer (of which I have many) will leak out soon, I am sure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The wide, pillared verandas, the mountains, the steep streets- it felt like we were in the Himalayas. Except not, because I was being an asshole and if we were in the Himalayas I would never be an asshole. Still, sitting in plastic chairs and drinking tea, being stared and pointed at, it felt otherworldly.

D was becoming addicted to hitchhiking. I was a bit too; being dusty and grungy and hiking through fields of barley and bright yellow flowers with the sun beating down on our heads making us sweat. Then the bubble of adrenaline when someone stopped for us and we ran to meet them and smiled, thank you, thank you, are you heading near Dipkarpas?

But this time I was being the jerk, the Problem, the Unforgiveable one. C had flown from Dubai specifically to meet me, to travel with me. Now I had backed out on him after just one week. No wonder he hated me so much. He would travel on his own until September and I would stay with my father in Nicosia until I flew home in May. The tension was palapable, the situation quite gruesome. C was "pissed off royally", as D told me. I didn't blame him.

Honestly though. Even if he didn't understand it yet, this was really for his own good. C was a very gung-ho, sleep in caves, go on month long camping trips kind of person. I am more gung-ho than lots of girls (evidence: the hitch hiking, travelling rough, sleeping in abandoned rooms) but not the typical atheletic outdoorsy type. Camping? Fine. But max a week. Hiking? Awesome. But I love a hot meal and a drink at the end, in a comfortable setting. And besides, C was head-over-heels crushing on me, like thought we should spend the rest of our lives together kind of thing. I needed to nip this right in the bud. And running away is what I do best.

Turkey was calling me. Every time I brought out the torn, filthy, ripped section of the Lonely Planet guide book I had stuffed in my bag, the descriptions of Goreme and Van and Eastern Turkey was a siren call I couldn't ignore. I still can't ignore. And so, I will store up these awkward memories of C to share and laugh with my friends when I get home, and go to Turkey tomorrow. Ha. Look at me being all mature.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Overdramatic much? Perhaps. But it's the way I roll sometimes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

In Art History we studied an artist by the name of Pontorno. He was the Van Gough of his time (late Renaissance), since no one really liked him and he hardly sold any paintings. He is famous for his rejection of the laws of perspective, his preoccupation with capturing a sense of movement, and what really stands out is that all of his characters have these dark, haunted eyes set in sad, melancholy faces.

Since Venice Carnevale weekend I had been haunted by his dark sad eyes too. Carnevale basically was a tourist trap in Venice, and I had forgotten how much I had hated it last time I had been there 3 years ago. It hadn't changed much: it felt like the Disneyland of Italy. Jacquie and Nicole had hated it as well; it had rained, we had gotten into a major fight, and had had the worst pizza of our lives there.
Well it basically happened again, except it didn't rain, and there were more people. And this time the fight didn't get reconciled by an angel of mercy as it did last time. It lasted much longer, and it was a painful splintering of our triangle of "family" because M and I never fight. I could see him out of the corner of my eye all the time, as much as I tried to avoid it, his eyes dark and sad and angry and I was pale with kept in anger as well, not willing to outright yell. It cast an opressive cloud over everything we did, our movements twitchy and graceless.

But eventually the static built up like a nylon skirt rubbing against wool tights in the driest time of winter, so I sought him out and he yelled and I cried and then the poison was draining away and the serpent whispering in my ear had been banished to hell. It was stupid, we both agreed. We are both sorry. Then he said something that makes everything make more sense, and makes me sure that we will stay family no matter what. Dani came into the room, and we had a group hug, and sat in warm comfortable silence while watching a movie.

This is what he said:
You hate all souless Riverbenders, and I hate all dirty hipsters. Except we are the exceptions to one anothers rule. There will always be things that bother us, but we are family so we love each other even still.

Monday, February 14, 2011

one day a year you are allowed to be sappy...

Every time someone raises a single eyebrow,
I am reminded of you.
Except with them
I don't melt into a pile of giggles and blushes.

Stop it. I swear, I am over you.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Song for You

Elope with me Miss Private and we'll sail around the world
I will be your Ferdinand and you my wayward girl.
How many nights of talking in hotel rooms can you take?
How many nights of limping around on pagan holidays?
Oh, elope with me in private and we'll set something ablaze,
A trail for the devil to erase.

-Piazza, New York Catcher
Belle and Sebastian

Monday, February 7, 2011


I have this wild restless feeling that comes when the day is sunny and warm, and there is a cold wind blowing. There are no connections tying me to home, no connections to Italy, no connections to the ground. I could easily start screaming. My whole body longs to jump up from the table where I am studying and start to run.
Oh, studying. Sitting on a hard wooden bench, shoulders slumped over a computer or book, body temperature dropping from lack of movement until your hands are cold and clammy. Goosebumps and a deep bone chill, but with circles of sweat under your arms. Evenly distributed throughout the room are more poor souls like myself, heads down, ipods plugged in. Your eyeballs are dry, your brain fried. You are hungry, tired, thirsty. But it's my mind that hurts the most. I can't read another single word, yet I continue to try, the words bouncing off my retinas basically, brain matter unable to absorb anymore. IT IS SO DRY. WHY DO THEY USE SUCH BIG WORDS??? ARE THEY TRYING TO MAKE ME GO CRAZY?!
Facebook calls; you go and get a coffee. All of the sudden cleaning your room, the bathroom, the walls, anything seems more appealing than trying to make sense of and memorize dates/names/ideas.

At this moment, I would rather watch paint dry than still be sitting here. I would rather try to eat sawdust. I would rather wait for a pot of water to boil dry. I would rather watch golf, no, curling. I would rather move a hill of sand from one spot to another using only tweezers, or empty a well using an eyedropper.
Instead, I am staring at the dust motes illuminated in the ray of sunlight by my head, and imagining breathing all of that in.
Ok, back to the books.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Hippies

Lounged in the sun on the stone steps this afternoon. Bought a sandwhich and brought my sister; we studied for a while. When the sun went behind the clouds and the temperature dropped, we started talking to the juggler and the harmonica player who had shared a can of corn on the steps below us.
They told us about their hitch hiking around Italy. They depended on people for food and for a couch to crash on.
We are living like, how do you say, Jack Kerouac. On the Road Again. said the harmonica player. Tonight we are staying at a Communist ladies house.
They were both going to school for Chinese language, Mandarin. That's almost as bad as my Classics degree. They looked cold, dirty, hungry.
For breakfast we had a big glass of milk each, then we climbed that mountain. The juggler pointed.
I stared. I longed to say Take me with you! I'm quitting school, and I will travel with you, depending on kind people. I could play the tambourine. You could teach me how to juggle. It will be fun. Let me go grab my back pack.
But I didn't. I have paid a lot of hard earned money to be here, to learn Italian and Art History. I need to stay still sometimes, in one place, to learn things in a classroom instead of through experiences. As much as every fibre in my body leaned towards moving forward with them, I chose to stay here. Maybe I am growing up.
We had to go soon. As we left, I said Here. Have an orange. and I offered them each a Clementine.
Thank you so much! This is wonderful! they said.
I smiled. You need your vitamins, I said. You should stay healthy. And I shook my finger at them, like a scolding mother. They laughed.
I laughed too, but inside I was sad and curious about what would happen to them. I wanted what happened to them to happen to me.
Maybe next time.

Monday, January 24, 2011

So, I think I will go live in a tree house in Olympos, Turkey, when I am done school in March.
Who knew things like this existed??

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We settled into the rooms in the old monastary. I bought an extra cheap blanket since the nights were so chilly. I do not think any of us were prepared for the bitter damp wind that comes with living on the side of a mountain... they are mostly prairie kids anyways.
Matt, D and I went to Naples for this long weekend. It was almost like being back in Cairo again, but without the heat, fewer people, and- can you believe it- more garbage. It did not help that we arrived in the dark, and were staying literally on the wrong side of the tracks beyond the train station. That night we wandered around looking for something to eat, and stepped in dog poo, saw people buried in the trash, and saw a man pull out a gun and point it at someones head. But there were some beautiful moments. It was warmer than Cortona, t-shirt weather, and so one day we sat at a cafe by the seaside, outside in the sun, and ate pizza in short-sleeves. I wanted to take that couple of hours and bottle it and keep it for rainy January afternoons.

We three are going to Rome again this weekend. I love that city. I love that we can do weekend trips there. I am trying to stretch my money though, perhaps until June, to maybe visit some friends in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong is a million miles away from Syria or wherever I am going to be in May. We will see. I was trying to do some book-keeping last night, figuring out a budget, and I think I can do it if I spend $300 or less a week. Which will include accommadation, food, train tickets, etc. Haha, nothing ever goes according to plan though!

Dinner is the highlight of my day. We get served every night a large plate of pasta, often just with olive oil, garlic fried zucchini, and then a salad with some form of protein. Dessert is next. There is always a jug of wine on every table. It is warm, filling, healthy, delicious. We would all gain a zillion pounds but since we are living in a mountain town, none of the streets are flat... constant treks up hill and lots of stairs.

School during the day. We often play cards for a few hours before dinner. After dinner we either sit around and drink more wine and play games, or you can go hide in your room with a book. I do both.

I do not have early class today. I think I will go read for a bit. It is nice and quiet this morning. And warmer. The views are spectacular.