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.