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.