Monday, December 31, 2012

The Last Half-hour of 2012

Fire crackers and loud boys singing words I don't know if I would want to know, even if they spoke slowly and clearly enough for me to understand.
I like New Years posts.
I had a quiet, sad, spring. For some reason school and work and family stuff exhausted me to the point of illness, and even though I tried to plod on with my head up I could never muster the energy to get the smile to reach my eyes. My friends later told me that they had all been worried about me.
Luckily, there was Jamie the Australian in February. He was a marvellous distraction for the week he visited. It was a good mini-break from my dull reality. Linds threw me my first surprise party for my birthday in March. That was fantastic.

And of course, Greece in the summer. I think I may have faded to nothing, or had some serious trouble if I hadn't had that time away. The sun, and the heat, and the physical labour that knocked me out every night, along with 1.5 litre bottles of Amstel. My friends Linds, Amber and Britt, and a chance to think clearly, which I had been missing for months.

The end of the summer with that Whistler and Christina Lake road-trip with my siblings was pure gold. I was happy, truly, every day, ever since I had gotten back from excavating. And then, like a cherry on top, an added treasure that I could have never expected, a gift greater than anything I had imagined receiving- J.

The fall and early winter was such a mix of extreme highs and unbelievable lows. If there is one thing to be thankful for, it's that at least I'm off the bloody roller-coaster. It physically makes my stomach ache to think too hard about it even now, and I still walk in the Valley of the Shadow daily, but I cling to the hope that there is nowhere left for me to go but up. I believe that someday, with time, I will be able to look back and see a period of growth and learning.

And my winter so far- well, let's count B as a great source of distraction with his symphony, opera, cocktail parties, letters, and gifts. And my dearest roommates who were always there for me, and willing to lend an ear, and even just sit and watch a movie, or pose for my painting projects. That group of 3 have become so essential to my life. Of course now there is England with my family, and this time is special, to be guarded carefully and thoroughly enjoyed.

I look with watchful eyes to the future year. A little bit more scarred, a lot more careful- it's not fear that makes me cautious, rather, a greater understanding of the world and of human nature. But still there is so much joy to be felt, and beauty to uncover, and absurd experiences to be had- when it comes down to it, I can't wait to see what the New Year brings.

Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The First Dream I've Had Where I Interact with Him (because usually he is present but I ignore him)

Vivid dreams every night. It's great, and awful. I feel like I'm haunted, and it's terrible, but I relish the FEELING, y'know? FEELING. 
But this morning on the end of sleep/verge of waking, I dreamt I was with my Austrian roommates watching 101 Dalmations, drinking wine and eating a popsicle, when the doorbell rang and it was secondary and annoying, but Kelly started to get up and go get it, but she was pregnant and struggling so I pushed her down and said hey, I'll get it. So I walk downstairs, and all of the sudden it's our old house in Edmonton's front door, with the crescent of glass at the top of the door, and I see some spikes of brown hair and my stomach twists and I think oh no. 

But I open the door anyway, and it is J, and he has his glasses on and is wearing his navy blue jacket with the toggles, and he looks at me through the glass door and his eyes are wet and half-filled with tears exactly like when we said goodbye at Thanksgiving and he hugged me and sort of sniffle/cried. Back when we were still ignoring common sense, and before I went to Winnipeg, and before he stopped taking his meds and relapsed and went back to his dark world where I couldn't follow him.

So I see Him and neither of us say a word, he just looks at me with wet eyes and my heart has stopped beating, my lungs have stopped working, my brain is full of half-formed thoughts like He misses me? Why? How? I'm mad and sad and SO FUCKING INCREDIBLY HAPPY but all I do is slowly, so very slowly, sink onto the step, sit down, and start to open the glass door, never breaking eye-contact the entire time, but as soon as he opens his mouth, and before my bum completely comes to rest on the step, I wake up.
And start crying. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Oh Life You Heartless Bitch

Sooo...found out yesterday I am 3 courses short of graduating. Thanks for telling me that when I did my program check in the summer, University. You are the best.
Ha. This means I am ridiculous.
And still a student.
And changing my flight home for the third time, and getting back as soon as I can after New Years.
And registering for classes.
And borrowing money because I am flat broke.
I have a great place to live.
Fantastic friends.
Learnt a lesson in humility.
And realized that I am already getting bored in York, so I guess going back to Canada isn't the end of the world (well that's a lie).
But I've started to cook dinner for my family every night to keep busy. Every day I get £10 from my dad, and have to spend the whole day searching out local ingredients from the various shops and markets. Fun, non? I'll be recording it here.

Monday, December 17, 2012


Yesterday we slept in, had a light breakfast, and then drove an hour to the coast to Whitby Bay. There is an enormous old ruinous abbey sitting on the hill top, and apparently we'd been there as kids, but when you're 9 years old all the memories blend a bit, and it didn't look familiar. But it was a sunny day, crisp and windy, and it was so good to just run around these green lawns in between pillars and apses, under archways, over walls, feeling like a kid again.
The village of Whitby was just down the hill from the ruins, so we walked in and got more fish and chips, and played on the beach a bit. The "cold" here is so incredibly manageable. It is damp and often drizzly or overcast, but I've been having lots of conversations with my dad about "imprinting childhood weather"- he has this theory that the weather where you grow up stays with you for the rest of your life, and so feels strangely comfortable/the norm. So the damp, green, drizzle feels fine for me, my dad, and my brother. Whereas my mother spent her first 10 years in Calgary before moving to Vancouver, so for her it's a bit depressing- she misses the -15 and bright sunshine and snow. 
The house here: it is a terrace house, mid-Victorian, original stained glass in the front hall door (to my delight). Tall and narrow. Lots of doors leading to strangely placed rooms and closets and awkward skinny corridors. The ceilings are all so high, and lots of windows, and in one of the two attic bedrooms (one is my brothers, one will be my sisters) there is a huge skylight that you can open and peer out of onto the rooftops. In the back we have a dark, full of ivy and moss and paving-stones garden. Did you ever read The Magician's Nephew as a kid? It reminds me incredibly of Polly and Diggory's houses, and it makes me want to find the connecting attic passageway that runs the entire row of houses. And, of course, discover a magical world beyond that too, haha.
After we came back from the seaside, we had tea and relaxed for an hour or so before it was dark and Dad had to run off to the Minster. He was singing in the choir for last night's special Christmas service (he is very musical), and Mum had signed herself, Joel, and me up to help seat people, hand out coffee, chocolate, etc. Apparently it was a big deal, and the whole town was getting involved. It takes about 10 minutes to walk briskly from our house to the Minster, and, being who we are, we left late, and if you were late they were going to shut the doors and not let you in... so we ran. And showed up sweating, red-faced, and out-of-breath only to be told very firmly that they needed only 1, not 3, of us that night. So without a moments hesitation Joel and I shunted Mother forward, said bye, see you in two hours, and to her dismay turned to leave. And then she started tearing up, being upset, saying she wanted to do this as a family, etc., but there was nothing we could do, so we left. Both of us felt bad, but not too bad. After all, she hadn't asked us if we wanted to do this in the first place, and it wasn't as if we chose to leave- we were kicked out.
So Joel and I went to the pub down the road, had a couple of pints, and showed up for the service giggly and slightly tipsy. Mother had reserved seats for us in the very front, and we sang our Christmas carols with all the heart and gusto we could manage.
I don't know if it was the beer or being in the freezing cold huge stone Minster at night, or even just Christmas spirit, but it was a beautiful evening. It was dark, with mainly candles for light, and every seat was taken. It reminded me of being a kid and going to see Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral with my dad, listening to the boys' choir and picking out the cutest boys who looked my age. The sound of the voices at Yorkminster- while not children's voices- still filled the building and echoed magically, and the familiar phrases, tunes, and harmonies of all the old carols struck at that gong in the centre of my very being that resonates when in the presence of True Beauty. Everyone's cheeks were rosy, and my toes were frozen, but bundled in a winter coat, scarf, and touque you stayed warm enough. And the feeling of LIVING, not just watching something from the outside, or clinically and coldly analyzing the moment, was gone, and it was pure joy to be in the moment. I don't know about you, but that's incredibly rare for me.
Afterwards some couples from Dad's choir invited us over to their place for nibbles and mulled wine, and so Joel and I sat around getting more drunk, while the older ladies flirted with him and I alternated between rolling my eyes and smiling overenthusiastically at anyone who approached me. I guess you could say I wasn't on my best behaviour. There is something about going to my parent's parties that makes me feel like I'm 15 again and in a stroppy mood.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Holly Jolly

Airport again. It's a tradition now, I think you could call it. Already fraught with danger- an hour delay on the highway out to the airport resulted in me yelling and shouting obscenities while D, my driver, calmly told me to Shut the eff up because shouting at people would not make the traffic go faster. Nevertheless, it did result in her pulling onto the shoulder and pulling some sweet, illegal, chotskie-bro moves in order to move ahead. You go, Glen Coco.
London soon. I'm excited to see my dog.
I nearly broke this weekend. My shoulders are carrying so much tension that just touching them hurts. I wonder why I had forgotten about how much finals suck. It's not like it's new knowledge. It shouldn't be a surprise. But maybe because they were my last ones, it was hard to see the finish line. I kept on trying to pull the ol' sprinter trick and look beyond the finish line in order to push as fast as you can until the end, but my farther goal line was so blurry and anxiety-filled that I don't think it helped at all. It just made everything worse.
I don't know what is to become of me! She cried.
Oh, woe is me.
But then I just laugh because seriously, there will be time enough to worry. And this is the Christmas season- jolly and holly and merry and bright and all that. And I'm going to be in England with my fam jam. And I'm done school. And I have the best friends in the world.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

Had a lovely dinner with my roommates at the Sugar Bowl tonight- a place more than any other I've been to that I can genuinely describe as "warm"- warm lighting, warm people, warm music, etc. We drank some awesome beer, ate some fabulous lamb burgers, and laughed our asses off. I swear, these 3 individuals have been my life-savers this past semester. I've come to depend on them so much for providing a sense of normality and perspective when my own internal thoughts sweep me into a dark spiral.
And it was snowing when we left too. I wanted to walk part way across the High Level Bridge, but it was cold, and I had an essay to finish for the next day. So we just danced home. Literally. They remind me of my cousins, Jacq/Ben/Em. We don't give a shit what other people think of us when we're together, and we can be loud and crazy and glow. It's the high spirits that old people shake their head at and grumble. The joie de vie that sad boring grey people try to emulate with perfume. The feeling of invincibility and power that makes cheerleaders and quaterbacks so popular. Ah. It's glorious. Once in a while it's good to feel this and remember it for when the darkness sucks you in and leaves you bruised and hurt and broken at the bottom of a pit, staring at the sky that is so far off and dreaming of a fresh breeze across your face.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Classy Drinks for Poor People

My cousin Jacquie and I are planning for the day that we set up an uber cool bar in Vancouver or Paris or something. It will be minimalist, but not in the trendy try-hard way but rather the "we know only how to make a few things, but we make them gooooood" kind of way. Also, the "we're poor as heck students and like to create drinks using things in our cupboard" way.
Here are our first two drinks, created over the course of the last couple of years.
The first one, called the Very Simply Wrong Mojito came into being by the fact that I only had vodka in my cupboard last summer, and some mint leaves and a lime. So, when Jacq and I met up at Whistler, we created this muddled and potent and perfect for hot hot days little cocktail.

Very Simply Wrong Mojito

Muddle juice of half a lime with a couple teaspoons of sugar and a handful of fresh mint leaves in a tumbler using the back of a spoon.

Freehand pour chilled vodka into the glass filled halfway with ice cubes.

Add a couple more teaspoons of sugar, a little more lime, a few more sprigs of mint (for decoration, natch!), and mix by swilling glass gently by hand.

Drink quickly until all the liquid is gone, wait half an hour for the ice to melt, drink again. Or, refill the glass with vodka before the ice melts, and reuse it. Way to be economical!

Oh, and at the end you can eat the mint leaves to cover up the smell of straight vodka on your breath.

This martini-esque concoction comes from a bit of a darker place. Last winter I was feeling sad, like, all the friggin' time, and having a hard time sleeping. So I used to put myself to sleep by watching episodes of The IT Crowd and swilling vodka or gin mixed with Dry-Sec Martini and pickled stuff. Let's just say, that tv show was HILARIOUS, and I eventually got happier when I left for Greece in the Spring. But I came back, and missed the classiness of holding that beautiful martini glass. So I started bringing them back, but only for special occasions. Hence the name.

Drink for Success Martini

One shot chilled vodka

One shot Dry Sec Martini

One pickled onion. Or bean. Or I guess an olive, or an asparagus could work.

One big splash of the pickled...thing...juice.

Stir with the veggie.

Be careful, these things are like bombs. They will mess you up if you drink too many. And be prepared for the classiness that will come your way.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Being a Girl

I've thought long and hard about our conversation last night. It's so strange- it hardly concerns guys at all, but girls spend much time thinking about what it means to be a girl. A woman, I guess. Yesterday I feel like I talked about the negative aspects of it, but I've realized lately that there are many privileges too, that guys are often denied.
A young, pretty girl can get away with murder. In many ways we are almost outside of, or above, the law. Of course this isn't true in every case, but certainly more so than men.
We are probably one of the most desirable things on earth. It's kind of sick and twisted, but once you except it you also realize that a world of privilege and opportunity can open for you just based on gender, age, and genetics.
You'll be hard pressed to find a girl who admits to it, but I will- I have consciously used my "winning personality" (a.k.a. feminine wiles) in order to get things I want out of men, especially older men. Usually at work- if you flirt with an older, wealthy man, he will give you money. More and more money. My female manger has even talked with me about it, brutally, saying "Here, this private party has requested a young female server. Go charm them. Don't you feel like a prostitute?"
And yes, it does feel like prostitution, but I also don't feel bad about it. If the fools think that me batting my lashes and joking with them means I'm actually into them, and give me things that I want/need, then it's no skin off my back- it's only acting a part.
As one of the most desired commodities on earth, you get into clubs. You get the jobs. You get drinks bought for you, dinner, attention. Special service. Worshipped. It's heady nectar.
Some girls don't realize this, I think. I started to realize it after high school. It was so incredibly easy to play the role that men expected. Other girls will fight their entire lives, complain, push people away, get offended. But the ones who see the truth of the system will use the system, and to their advantage. It's hard enough being a girl as it is. If you expect equality, you will forever be disappointed. But if you can twist the inequality to your benefit, then at least for a few years you are the one who has the upper hand.
What men want is so unbelievably simple. They are flattered by attention, by the way you gaze at them admirably. If you tease them about being idiots, they think you mean the opposite. They want to be noticed, they want you to feel safe with them. Besides the obvious sex thing, they want you to need them in some way. They want you to laugh at their jokes. To respect them.
And if you provide the illusion of even a few of these things, they will chase you, they will want you, they will eat out of your palm.
Maybe feminism is dead. Or maybe it just has a new face.

One (Blake's Got a New Face)- Vampire Weekend

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I fell in love with Anderson Cooper during the most recent American election.
It was strange. I had heard the name batted around before, but I don't pay attention to CNN unless I'm half way around the world and it's the only English thing on tv. So I had never noticed his face before.
But a month ago I was watching the election at my neighbours house, visiting their new kitten. And he- oh his eyes- and I know he is old. And gay. But he looks so strong. And he is funny. And dives into the face of danger, and if there was a war, or I was in trouble, I'd want him to be on my side. I'd trust him. Follow him into battle. Whatever.
It is supposed to be a snow storm today, but so far it is just freezing cold instead. And a yucky yellow sky.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rome and Too Much Caffeine

Too much caffeine this morning. I am almost done drinking an entire pot, and my eyeballs are jittering and my palms are sweaty. Instead of helping me focus on writing my Classics paper, it has me scrolling through Facebook pictures and becoming intensely interested in current world events. And now blogging. Which is writing. So it's a step closer to my paper, I guess.
Gotta stay positive.
Look on the bright side of life.
Very Life of Brian, non?
But anyway, the result of all this internet searching, scanning, reading, etc., is that I am craving Rome. The dirty streets and the crush of people getting off the train station at Termini. Want to know a fun fact? I have been to Rome over 10 different instances. I lived there for the month of August a couple of years ago. We would drink too much caffeine then too. An espresso at every break. Every new sight or stop we would find a cafe and drop a euro on a coffee. Except at lunch time. Then, Linds and I would make a big pasta lunch with fresh produce picked up on our way back to the convent, and then we would crack open a bottle of red and drink a glass or two with our food. Sometimes we would make a salad instead of pasta. A crunchy, fresh salad of rucola full of tuna or little fish, and chickpeas, and we would free- hand pour olive oil and balsamic over the top. Then it was nap time. Or more like I would sleep and she would watch South Park stolen from Duncan on Tristan's laptop. We would gather in the late afternoons for a final few churches to explore, sweat dripping down our backs.
Rome in August is hot.
So is Rome in July.
Rome in January is rainy and cool.
Rome in February can be warmish, but it still is rainy and windy.
Rome in March is usually quite pleasant.
And by April, Rome is wonderful. Maybe my favourite time there.
Gosh, I sound pretentious, don't I? Sorry. But honestly, it's probably my favourite city.

When I was there with K, we would take the metro out to the Vatican JUST to get Old Bridge gelato. It was cheap, huge helpings, in a tiny crack in the new part of the city. Plus, the gelato was served up the cutest Roman guys. So smiley, and charming. Sometimes we would go twice a day.

And when I was there with Dani, I showed her the donair pizza place I found in the basement of an internet cafe by the Santa Maria Majjore. We would make an effort to stop there every time we were in Rome for a day or two, or even just passing through on our way to somewhere else. I wonder if I could find it again...
Just ran up to the attic and pulled out an old map of Rome. The street names are only vaguely familiar, but if I was there in person, I'm sure I could figure it out.
One of the last times I was at that pizza place, it was with Dani and Sonja. We had spent the whole day wandering around the Tiber, and exploring around the Ponte Fabricio, eating bread and cheese and salami cut up with my Swiss army knife. For dinner we made our way to the pizza place, Dani and I promising Sonja that it would be the best donair pizza she had ever tasted. It really was, too. We sat at one of the 3 tables to munch, and watched the tiny little tv that was switched to the Italian news station, and that was when we first saw footage of the Japanese tsunami. I remember we were shocked, almost crying, using our rudimentary Italian to try and understand what was happening. It was scary.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Syringes From Syria

This is continued travel adventures from Cyprus. We ran wild on the beach and dunes, dug holes to hide from the wind, found caves and made them liveable. Why on earth we didn't think about food and water is beyond me. Maybe we were going to fish. Steal rain water. Be feral. But there were these broken needles all along the tide line, apparently washed up from Syria, and when we ran (we hardly walked) we kept our heads down to avoid stepping on them.
We had 2 thin fleece blankets between the 3 of us, and no other way of keeping warm. Fire, perhaps, but it rained so everything was wet.

Chris went swimming on the rocks and tide pools, and one day we hitched a ride out to some fascinating cliffs and a lighthouse. We climbed all over the cliffs and got sprayed by the smashing waves, and got lost, and got separated, and I remember that the utter freedom we had was terrifying. It felt very Lord of the Flies. After a week we left. We left in the early morning, walking along these country roads with our backpacks, through fields, in the sun, and across stone bridges. We walked for a long time, and took a break under a big tree, and I want to say we recited poetry but I think we were mostly silent. Finally a white van approached behind us, and we stuck out our thumbs and he stopped for us. Chris and Dani loaded into the empty, dusty back of the van, and I sat in the front with the driver who spoke not a word of English but we managed to communicate that we wanted taking to the nearest town. So for an hour or so we drove through the afternoon, and the windows were down and I stuck my hand out the window and hoped that Dani and Chris could breathe and weren't too scared in the dark.

He dropped us off in front of the big stone building where we had sat and watched a movie be filmed some days before. We sat again on the pillared veranda, and drank tea, and smoked cigarettes, and I think we ate some beans or something, or maybe a bag of strange chips because we were always hungry and had no food.

After a few hours break, waiting to see if a bus would come, we set off again. We walked to the edge of town, and then found a highway that seemed to lead back in the general direction we wanted to go (South), and again we walked and walked for hours. Finally a tiny car stopped for us, with two teenage girls in the front and a sullen, shy teenage boy in the back. Somehow we managed to cram all three of us plus our bags into the already tight car, and again, no English was spoken but we didn't care where we ended up, as long as it was somewhere. The girls were always laughing, and teasing the boy, and I remember being jealous of their clean hair and painted nails, because I'm pretty sure we looked and smelled like garbage. But they took us all the way back to Famagusta, and that night I think was the night Chris and I walked all the way to the deserted beach resort and then hitched a ride back with a crazy vegetable seller, who took us on a tour of the university campus and hospital and such, when really I just wanted to get back to the hotel where we were staying the night with Dani.

When you hitch a ride you are at the other person's mercy. And you owe them your attention, and you owe them your stories, and you owe them your smile and laugh and you owe them the allowance to be in the spotlight. A ride is never free. A meal is never free. Anything that appears to be free I guarantee is not.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


I want to be on a roof right now. If I have to live in a city, I mean, if I get to live in a big city someday (please dear God get me out of the one I'm in now) I want there to be a roof I can escape to. I want to sit on the edge and dangle my legs over, smoke a cigarette and scream hoarsely at pigeons. I want to bring a six-pack of beer up to the roof, and with my friends start a dance party on the crunchy gravel. In the summer I want to sun-tan on a towel, topless, and in the winter I want to bundle up in a blanket and a touque and cry after a bad day.
I want to kiss someone on a roof.
I want to sleep on a roof. I did, in Istanbul, but there was mattresses and blankets, which is cheating.
The best conversations seem to happen on top of buildings. There is something inspiring about being above everyone else. Ha, that sounds so imperialistic. But seriously, it feels like the air is different.

I used to get in trouble as a kid for climbing too much. Trees, roofs, every house we moved to I would figure out the best routes from outside (patio tables, window sills, deck railings, fences) to get on the roof, and which rooms inside had windows large enough for me to crawl out of. And trees in our yards, too, I would find paths up cedar trees and apple trees alike. My mom used to have to set limits for me, saying honey, I don't want you climbing that tree above the level of the house. Of course sometimes I did, but as I got older the thin branches at the top felt more and more unable to hold my weight.

I haven't climbed a tree in years. I miss it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Calgary- Closer to Halfway Home

It's over. And I'm shaky, from caffeine and adrenaline withdrawal and sitting in the Calgary airport closer to half way home.
I shed those tears weeks ago, and so conversations held were adult, calm, rational. Today though, sitting in the Winnipeg airport, it hit me for one second, and I felt like someone had punched all the air out of my stomach and I curved over, bent slightly forward trying to get air. I think I gasped once, delicately, quietly, and closed my eyes, squeezed out two tears, then recovered. Went back to reading Watchmen and eating my goldfish crackers.
Those times I memorized pieces and articles of chunks of skin, and the way the crease in the corner of the eye met the bridge of the nose, the few faint freckles, the pointed perfect elf ear, the melted mouth so sweet- I wish I hadn't. I want to erase it from my mind. You cannot forgot what you so diligently committed to memory.
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, tonight you are mine.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Interlude of the Past

This is where I was a month ago:
It was a black spinning hole, scattered with bursts of cheap gold stars, and all the free bottles of liquor were drinken, and all the half-empty bottles of wine, and all the fierce almost undrinkable whiskey was gone. Mostly she remembered the kitchen- warm, full of people, and sitting on Sean's lap while he rubbed her back. What a glorious feeling when she was in the hole: to be touched, polished, appreciated, on-the-shelf with a high price-tag stuck tenuously to her forehead. And blurs of emotion and relationships slurring past her in the stream. But she was either weighed down on the river bed, or out of the water altogether, she wasn't sure which, so there was nothing she could do to interact positively with them.

And I need to keep reminding myself of this when I venture out tomorrow.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Preparing for Winnipeg

I prepared this morning for flying to Winnipeg by putting on my own version of war-paint, my own special talismans.
I took out my crystal ear studs, and replaced them with the dark grey fresh-water pearls my daddy bought me for my 18th birthday. Every time I shook my head, or craned my neck, or even laughed loudly they swung below my ear lobes and touched the side of my neck, reminding me that they were there.

I removed my flattened bottle cap necklace from Christina Lake and slung my silver St. Christopher medallion around my head instead. My sister and I had made matching necklaces, extra long to hide under our shirts, and we each had attached an anchor charm to the medallion to symbolize hope, steadfastness, and to remind us of the sea and where we had been born.  St. Christopher of course is the patron saint of travellers, and even though we aren't Catholic it's nice to have something to hold on to in the wary, uncertain hours of voyages and adventuring.

Around my wrist I refastened the thin, delicate silver bracelet my mother had given me, which I had taken off for the first time in years when we were working with clay in sculpture class, because the clay kept on getting caught in the clasp and dulling the metal. This was the bracelet that Chris Barlow had always commented on when we were travelling through Turkey, singing that Bob Dylan song, Shelter From the Storm:
"Suddenly I turned around and she was standing there
With silver bracelets on her wrists and flowers in her hair.
She walked up to me so gracefully and took my crown of thorns,
'Come in', she said
'I'll give you shelter from the storm.'"

And of course, on my finger was my brass interlocking ring that matched with the one K has, from the art gallery in Grand Forks that we had bought a year and a half ago. I only removed that ring for baking and working with clay. Even on excavations I left it on.

Each piece of jewellery meant something special to me, reminded me of those I loved best, and those who had loved me unconditionally. They reminded me that I was who I was, and it couldn't be helped, and to be strong, courageous, and have a backbone, and that the right things to do were often the the very hardest.
They will continue to remind me this week to not take the easy way out, to value myself, and when it hurts to pick myself back up and say quietly, hey world, I am pretty fantastically special and I am going to have a fantastically unconventional life.
I just wish I had one piece that would make me laugh and remind me to not take myself so seriously. To remind me that this too shall pass, and to have patience, and a sense of humour. I will maybe draw something on the back of my hand. That might help. And with laughter, you don't need luck. Though in my case, I would like as much as I can possibly get of both for this week. Please.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November 3

"But for the here and now, where the living dwell..." (Jamie McGlue)
It's always a struggle to live in the present. To not dwell on the past or try to divine the future, but to find your place in every second, to curl up in the tick of every minute and be content to be curled there. I am away this weekend at my friend Linds' family's place, the giant piece of land where last year I helped decorate the 12 foot tree, and it is lovely as always. Wood fire, cathedral windows and ceiling, SNOW, cross-country skiing, beer, good food, interesting people. Out here, 2 hours North of the city, it is easier to be where the living are.
Less impulsive, more patient. That is my mantra, my prayer these days. Patience. Patience. Patience.

The dark is bothering me less these days. It's ok, it's manageable right now. It's kind of thrilling, actually, to sink back into the patterns of wearing layers and never seeing the sun. It's similar to having a near-empty fridge: it's easier to create meals when you have limited ingredients. And it's easier to see beauty when you have so much ugliness around you. So clearly can you see life when death is everywhere you look.

In the sauna last night, after we had bussed and driven for 2 hours, I could feel the layers of slime and dirt coming out of my skin. Sweat, dead skin cells, fatigue, stress, alcohol, greasy food, frustration, loneliness, other stupid people, guilt, anger. And it was replaced with heat, emptiness, water. A tightening of my skin around my bones. A heaviness of my eyelids.

I'm nervous about flying to Winnipeg next week. I shouldn't be; travelling alone is one of the things I'm good at, and I get a kick out of adventure. But I'm scared about the things waiting for me there. I'm scared that it was a mistake to plan this visit to friends. I'm scared that once I go unrepairable damage will ensue and I will be regretting it for the rest of my life.
But I'm too dramatic. I read too much into things. I get feelings about things that never come to fruition. I'm most likely going to have a wonderful week there. I'll let you know. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

November 1

I left the warm, dark house early this morning and ventured to class while the street-lights were still on and there was no one else awake. It was raining snow; that weird phenomenon where the snow comes straight down in curtains, in small particles like white raindrops, only everything is in slow motion. Absolutely dumping the stuff. It was incredibly peaceful, and when you stood still you could hear the snowflakes hitting leaves, trees, cars, the ground, with a very quiet tinkly sigh. Almost what you would expect a sparkle to sound like, if sparkles made noise.

Later in the afternoon I came home and it was still pouring out of the sky. I decided to shovel, because I couldn't see the sidewalk or the path to the front door, so I bundled in layers of scarves and sweaters and a winter coat and a toque, wool socks and my brothers old Sorrels which I stole when he moved to England. It was good to move in the cold, to feel my muscles tighten and release, to see my breath in the white air, to be warm from my heart pumping strongly. After, I sat on the steps and lifted my face to the trees and closed my eyes. There was the comforting smell of wet wool, and the sharp pure clean smell of fresh snow. My jeans were getting wet from the snow, and my butt was cold from the frozen stone stairs, but inside I was hot and comfortable. I sat in utter stillness for around half an hour, feeling the gentle tickle of flakes landing on my face, watching the snow fall in strands before me and around me, like a screen saver of stars, or fake rain in a low-budget movie. Soon, black-capped chickadees were in the branches of the trees beside me, and a black and white woodpecker with a red flash down its head was knocking around. There was no wind, nothing to drive leaves to the ground or blind you with ice. I wanted to sit there forever; I wanted it to snow like this forever, until I was nothing more than a giant pile of white. Until the entire world was a giant pile of white, the oceans and the deserts and the forests and the plains just covered in 6 feet of snow. Everything would perish, and yet it would still keep on raining down until the rent in the heavens closed for good and that's how it would remain, a giant ball of white snow floating through the black universe.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life Update

I guess I have been missing. And I'm pretty sure no one is missing me. What compels a person to stop writing for months at a time, then pick up again all-of-the-sudden?
Elementary, my dear Watson.
The answer to the first part of the question is: love.
The second part: heart-break.
Writing is necessary, cathartic, more articulate and interesting if it's written with all the pain of being young, beautiful, and tragically over-dramatic.
But I won't go into that.
Since Greece, I have had a myriad of changes in my life. One, and most importantly, my parents and younger brother packed up and moved to York, UK, permanently. My sister bounced across the street to live with our old neighbours, and I landed myself in a big old house in Garneau with a couple of friends.
I started my last semester of my undergrad, and to my surprise and delight I get to fill my hours with painting, sculpture, and Roman Africa. Such a lovely mixture.
I get to balance paying the bills and buying groceries and raking leaves (though lately it's been more shovelling snow) with hosting parties, not making my bed every day, and the luxury of having no parental supervision.
Another reason why I have decided to revisit this blog is because in my mind, this format is a little bit like having an impartial judge listen to me blather on and on, without trying to get in my pants, worm some guilt from my soul, or sell me something.
Ah. It's nice to return.

Monday, June 4, 2012

More Greece

For the next 6 weeks I've started a new blog to record my time in Greece as an archaeologist. Check it out here...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

This feels so very, very, familiar.
I am in the lounge in Toronto again, and because it feels so nice and familiar I decided to continue with the deja vu trend and drink some Scotch.
This time it is a lot busier though; it is not dark outside; I am eventually heading towards people I know rather than the wild wild West.
I am not nursing a soon-to-be broken heart, nor am I gone for 5 months.
And yet, it has that wooonderful, swingin' old time music, good time feelin' that I miss. Missed. The travel feeling.
All senses on alert. You can almost literally reinvent yourself as anyone you want. The aura you project.

Last time it was wealthy, I think.
This time it's grungy, hip d.j./archaeologist (the dj part because I got brand new giant red headphones that make me feel oh so cool).
Air Canada didn't feed me on my first flight, so when I got the lounge I had three helpings of tortellini alfredo and salad and hummus and veggies and a banana. I think the people around me were astonished. I didn't get lunch! I felt like shouting at them, Not even pretzels!
Good thing I am stowing three bags away now for later. Oh, unlimited food. How I love thee.

Now to just read my Vanity Fair in quiet with my Scotch and avoid all eye contact with the over-fed business men sitting around me...

I promise to stay away from motorcycles.
I promise to reapply sunscreen three times a day.
I promise to wear a hat, and drink tons of water.

I promise to try and be nice to everyone.
And have a blast.
I promise to try and remember that life isn't the destination, but the journey.
7 weeks is nothing according to those left behind. But to those of us going, it feels like freakin' forever.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Old Prose Again

Well I guess cleaning out your house again and again and again (sifting, shifting, filtering, gloaming) means that inevitably you uncover scraps of paper with words on them from the distant past. Perhaps I'm the only one who finds them wildly entertaining. But nonetheless, I am going to share some of my favourites.
This one is from not too very long ago, February 2010, but still I had no idea what was going on. Things change so fast when you are young. Enjoy...

It wasn't good, she admitted to herself, not good at all. She was at that point where she was beyond reckless, beyond buoyancy, beyond light. The flashing lights and smoke machine seemed to catch at her clothes, her hair, her eyes, and she marched in a straight line to the bar.
"Another shot, please" she said to the bartender.
"Had a bad day, hun?" he asked, sympathy and pity mixed on his face.
"Just long, that's all" she smiled weakly and tossed another one down before going back to the dance floor. She spotted her friends in a group among the sweaty, half-naked bodies but it just made her feel ill. She paused, leaned against the wall, checked her phone: there. A new text.
                         Just walking by the club. Walk with me home and back?
She left then and there, bounding down the stairs to the cold fresh air. He stood waiting against a lamp post, looking at the long line-up to get in. The bouncer stopped her as she half fell out the door.
"You coming back?" he asked.
"No, I'm done thanks" she said and she ran past and hugged him. He smiled hugely at her.
"Nice glasses," he said, motioning to her head.
"Oh!" She had forgotten they were there. She pulled them off, orange plastic frames in the shape of stars.
"Can you carry them for me?" she asked, handing them to him, "I'm a bit tipsy."
He laughed and put them in his jacket pocket.

They walked in the cold air, laughing and talking and him grabbing her arm to stop her from falling off the curb. Once they got to his place she made fun of how messy it was, and made friends with his fish while he dropped off his work clothes and computer. They started back the way they came when her friends started calling and texting her. Where are you?!? Are you by yourself??? Are you drunk?!  We are leaving now!!!
A block before they got back to the club, she stopped him. "I'll say goodnight here," she told him, "or else my friends will know something's wrong."
"What do you mean?" he asked, as they faced each other, closer now.
"They can sense emotion," she said quietly, "like a dog can sense fear..."
He held her now.
"Want to know a secret?" she stood on tiptoe and whispered in his ear.
"Maybe," he said. "Ok, tell me."
"I missed you, sort of," she whispered almost inaudibly, lips tickling ear.
His face was turning towards her.
"See?" she murmured, "That was a good secret, non?" And then he was kissing her and they kissed sloppily, hungrily, on the sidewalk, in the dark, not feeling the cold.

They broke apart. "My friends!" she breathed, and gigglingly she dragged him the rest of the block. As they waited on the corner to cross she noticed her friends on the other side glaring at her. She waved, and leaned softly against his chest as he was behind her, and he stopped her as she almost started crossing too soon in front of a car.
"Sorry, I'm ready to go now," she said to the stony faces of them waiting for her. She turned to him and said "Let's hang out this week." He smiled and started walking away.
Then she was enveloped by the oppressiveness once again as he left, and she felt cold, and tired yet wild. She wouldn't give her friends a straight answer. She knew he wasn't right, but she couldn't tell them that, couldn't tell them who he was, and she decided that tomorrow there would be enough time to feel guilty yet elated at what she had managed to pull off, and that for tonight she would revel in the dirt, the glorious dirtiness, humaness she felt, and she knew in that instant that she would never regret her actions, not now or tomorrow, or the next day, because she had hated how she had felt in the club, on the dancefloor, drinking too much alone and people staring, and she had never felt so peaceful, so in tune with herself and the world as when she had been enticing him into having an affair.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Signs of Spring

This weekend has been one of those glowy spring ones where the sun is hot on your skin but the breeze is cool and the blossoms absolutely reek of perfume in such a slutty manner, luring the bee's in with the overpoweringly sweet scents of a trashy hoe in a club.
It has been bare tanned legs and gauzy tank tops that flutter open in the back to dry off the sprinkle of perspiration, and cut off jean shorts that desperately need patches on the back, and playing basketball slowly and lazily on the back driveway.
It has been sunglasses all day all the time, and broad smiles, and good tired silences, and drinking gin and tonics in the cool of Jonah's basement with Sean and Mikhail and Joel, and running around on the grass barefoot trying not to step on any prickles.
It was admitting defeat to the idea of going out after dark to a pub with loud noisy people, and instead curling up in a three-way cuddle puddle to watch the Muppet movie: the first step in our "bike gang" (the Rivervalley Riders) bonding. And no, really, we all ride bikes. Like, mountain/road bicycles. We have bandanas.

This weekend I fell half in love with Sean, but I think it was just the wild whipping wind and the flowers and that blood-quickening nonsense. I felt the same amount of affection to the world in general when we ate dinner outside every night, so maybe "love" is too strong a word. We ate well, too, all fresh herbs and gazpacho soup and chocolate dipped strawberries, and cold white wine that bit at your throat. Sean was just the human embodiment of that affection, the physical manifestation of Spring. Full of energy and life and a young, smooth attractiveness, a well-spring of the ideas and songs and thoughts.
But no, I don't really love Sean. I haven't loved anyone in that way for a long time now.

This weekend D and I got up early Sunday morning and strolled down our back alley to the park overlooking the river, and lay on the grass and cheered on the chef who works at our restaurant as he ran past in the annual Mother's Day Marathon. It is tradition now. And this evening, D and J and I snuck out on to the roof of our house with a blanket and watched the sky drain of it's colour and the bugs come out and hover over our heads, and we listend to quiet music and sang and talked. It was bittersweet because we won't be able to hang out very often anymore. Every time we do stuff just the 3 of us I try so hard to just be in the moment, but there is always that niggling thought in the back of my mind: savour this. Remember this. Treasure this. It might be the last time. Maybe this is it.

This weekend is one of the few weekends I have left in this house. This home, I guess. And I'm tired of thinking about it. I'm tired of crying at the drop of a hat. I cry ALL THE TIME NOW. I had gotten pretty good at holding back my tears for whatever reason, but the past couple of months I am a veritable water feature. Crappy tv shows make me cry. Dumb movies. Books. Newspaper articles. Somebody saying something. I need to figure out a way to hold it in again. Pinching my arm doesn't work anymore. Suggestions?

And this weekend, maybe because I had no expectations, surprised me with it's loveliness. It's beauty, it's grace, it's enjoyment. This weekend was about filling up the potholes left over from winter, repairing the damage done by the frost and the darkness. About healing and growing and recharging my batteries in the sunlight, drying my clean sheets in the sunlight, reading by sunlight, exploring and loving by sunlight. The start of this spring is so radically different from last spring that I can't help but believe that it is a sign that this will be not just a good summer, but an incredible summer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I was watching The Real Housewives of Vancouver (mainly because I had heard such awful things and had to see for myself) and one of the women asked another What was her favourite place in the world? And she answered I don't know, it depends. Like, favourite for relaxing, or partying, or shopping, or whatever.
And I paused it (and actually stopped watching FOREVER because it is that terrible) and thought about MY favourite place in the world... at first I thought Rome, no, Vancouver, no wait, definitely some small island in Greece, but hold on, I reallllly loved Turkey...
and then it hit me. It sort of slid in sideways into my mind, and settled there like a cat onto your lap when you aren't looking. It made itself seem so RIGHT, and I don't know why I hadn't thought of it sooner.
It's Christina Lake. My favourite place in the world is Christina Lake.
Serene, unchanging, escape from reality. I would drive 16 hours without stopping to get there. I dream about it constantly, about fires and earthquakes and mudslides and the end of the world happening and we run away to the lake and it is safe, a haven.
Anyway, spent the day with sunshine-y Sean yesterday. Bought matching shirts at H&M, and sat in the sun outside drinking freshly squeezed lime juice. I fell half in love with him, the sly charmer. He always does that to me. I am susceptible to charisma. Or maybe just Sean.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Music and Memories

This is slightly different than Postman's music post... but this memory kept coming into my head whenever I tried to think of a song to write about. So here it is.
I was 13, or somewhere close to that awkward, gangly, just-drifting-into-self-awareness age, and my music repertoire seemed to consist of Amy Grant, Hill Song, the Barlow Girls- in other words, soft and appropriate girly Christian singers.
I don't want to blame my mother. I am not saying that at all. And we did have lots of Beatles, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison drifting through the house. It's just, I don't know, I wasn't allowed to listen to the Spice Girls, N*SYNC, etc. I wasn't even allowed to listen to the radio, except the Christian station. I thought that rock and roll was evil. Corruptive.

But, when I was 13 or so, I did a lot of babysitting for my parents. And as a reward, every once in a while, my mom would take me to the Christian music store and let me pick out a CD.
This one time, the time I'm talking about, I was browsing the store. I found a CD with a bright pink cover, and it drew my eye. I pulled it off the shelf- Relient K. I had no idea who they were, what it was, but I took it over to the CD player and popped it in.
it was-
so dirty-
So very, very, unlike anything I'd ever heard before.
After the first few seconds of drums and insane guitar this sweet boy's voice was sing/speaking so quickly I couldn't understand the lyrics.
I stood there, mesmerized by the bass and the utter energy that came through the headphones and flooded my body. It made me feel angry a bit, passionate, like I wanted to run around and break things; shake my head and stomp my feet. It was as if They knew exactly how a confused, angsty teenager felt, and had put it into music and were commiserating with me. I couldn't get enough. I skipped through all the songs, listening to the first 30 seconds of each, and I was in love. Whoever these guys were, I had to hear more. Every day. All the time.
I knew my mother would never buy the CD for me. But I asked her anyways, and even made her listen to the first track, and she shook her head and took off the headphones after the first few seconds. Her brow wrinkled and she looked disappointedly at me-
Honey, I am not buying you this. Are you sure you don't want the new Jacqi Velasquez tape? Or that Point of Grace CD instead? What about this Rebecca St. James, she sounds good. I'll get you that instead.

I argued a bit. Probably whined. But she didn't buy me the CD.
I thought about them for a long time afterwards. Everything I listened to was too slow, too flat, too booooor-ing. Something I had heard on that Relient K CD had awoken something inside me, and it wasn't going away. I felt trapped, stifled, misunderstood. Unhappy for no apparent reason.

Christmas morning we were unwrapping our stockings, and I found the tell-tale perfectly square, flat shape of a CD. As I was unwrapping it, I spotted something hot pink. My heart sped up, and I ripped off the paper. There it was.  For some reason unknown to me even to this day, my conservative protective mother had changed her mind and bought me this punk rock boy singer's CD.

And so began my love affair with Relient K, the first punk-rock band I had ever heard. I got my brother and sister addicted too, and I swear they are the band that opened all 3 of us up to secular music and an entire exciting new world we didn't know had existed. My mother too gradually became way more liberal, and guess what- last Tuesday she even came to the Coldplay concert with me. Progress, friends, progress.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Music Obsession

Lana Del Ray is like ADELE for troubled, wrong-side-of-the-tracks, "bad" girls with major daddy issues and only slight drug problems. Who normally love hip hop and punk and ripped jeans but who have enough money from their parent's divorce to go to every show in town. 6 months after first hearing her and I am still obsessed without not really knowing why...

It's grungy and gritty and shiny and trashy but completely unlike Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj. Her songs are dark, sad, and you can almost hear her putting on a brave front to cover her vulnerability as thick as the pancake make-up on her face. The sound has got that rare underlying thread of truth to it, buried deep in an effort to be mainstream, but still- there is talent there. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Well Wishers

I think it's kind of sick and twisted. At least, it makes me feel wrong in some way, and I can't figure it out yet whether it actually it wrong, or if it's just societies morals. But he makes such darn good playlists! Seriously, le Terrible has an incredible talent for putting together a list of uncommon songs that flows and is interesting; so good in fact that even though I hate his guts I can't stop listening to them. And my family can't either. Even my father thinks he has great taste in music and plays his "Waterloo Sunset" playlist (created circa 2008) on repeat while he's cooking. And my sister D, who disliked him from the very beginning 5 years ago, will put on a list of his songs from 2010 at a party.

Every time I would go travelling he would make me a playlist (or 4). And I would listen to them over and over and over again, while on a train, or an airplane, or trying to sleep in a hostel. They made me feel safe, like I was in a movie and could deal with any problems that came my way.
But it feels wrong to listen to his music and get such pleasure out of it when it is tied to him so indelibly. Some part of me wants to ask him for a new playlist for my upcoming trip, but how could I use someone like that, especially when I refuse to even acknowledge his presence in the halls or on the street? I am not superstitious, but those playlists seem to have brought me luck and safety when I am vulnerable and alone on the other side of the planet, and I feel uncertain about embarking abroad again without one on my ipod to listen to while waiting to catch a flight in a foreign airport. It's such a contrast to how he himself makes me feel, which is angry, anxious, and sad.  It's like HE is out to get me, but his music makes me free. Sigh.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


It was my birthday yesterday. I am now officially 23, something I've been telling people all month. It just felt right, ok?
And it was awesome.
Look, I'm not a big fan of birthdays. I think I even wrote a post on that 2 years ago. So I had planned a small, intimate dinner at the Sugar Bowl with 6 of my closest friends. You know, manageable, able to pretend it's not really my birthday, relaxing, safe. But my friend Linds (the farm! Last weekend!) called me, and asked if she could get a ride from me. So I went to pick her up. And walked into a huge SURPRISE PARTY!
I've never had a surprise party for me before. I felt so loved. I couldn't believe that all these people came together for ME. Anyways, I was stunned, and embarrassed, and glowing. We sat around and drank beer, ate pizza and poutine, listened to the Beatles, and laughed. A few hours in, Linds grabs my arm and says, Hey, come with me. I've got another surprise for you. So I go with her to her bedroom, and her boyfriend Steven is in there, on his cellphone. Here, he says, handing it to me, Someone wants to wish you a happy birthday. And then they both leave, shutting the door behind them.
Hello? I ask in to the phone. I have a twisting gut feeling about who it is, who I really really really want it to be, who if it isn't a small part of me would feel crushed, but I shouldn't get my hopes up...
Hey, how's it going? says a sultry Australian twang.
HEY! I squeal. Because somehow it is, and I know that this is what I really wanted for my birthday all along, but I hadn't even admitted it to myself until now.
He laughs. So, how's life in Canada? How is your birthday? Happy Birthday!
Good, good! How is Perth?! How is being home? Is it hot there? What time is it there? How is it being back with your twin? Are you having fun? Are you working? A million questions pour out of my mouth, and I realize I am talking too fast for anyone to understand, let alone someone on a crappy cell connection from the other side of the world.
He laughs again, and seriously, he starts answering all of my questions, one by one, and trying to ask how I'm doing too, but I just want to hear him talk.
It feels like 2 minutes, but actually is 15, when Steven comes back in, grins at my face, and says Sorry hun, it's international phone billing. Time's up.
Look, I say into the phone, I have to go. I'm wracking up a huge bill here. But I miss you. Write me a letter sometime, hey?
And he stumbles Yeah, OK, I will, I started one yesterday, miss you too...
Byeee, I sigh
Bye he says before I hand the phone back to Steven who hugs me.
I leave the bedroom, find Linds, kiss the top of her head and give her a giant hug. That was... awesome. I say.
Haha, I thought you might enjoy that, she said.
Mmhmm. Though I feel a little bit like crying too, I said quietly, so no one else could hear.
Save it for when you get home, darling, she said. Chin up. This is your party!
Which reminded me of this...
So I just smiled and carried that phone call like a happy glowing ember in my stomach for the rest of the night.
Another memorable birthday to add to the list.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My brother cleaned out his closet in preparation for moving this summer, and he uncovered an old film camera with 3 images already snapped, and the rest of the roll free. We couldn't figure out whose it was, or from when, or what the pictures might be of, so he gave it to me to finish and get developed. So I took it with me this weekend to Lind's farm, and I tried to snap as many as I could. But I'm a terrible photographer; I can never seem to be able to step back from the moment and capture it. And there were so many moments this weekend I wished I had captured-

Ah, but, sometimes it's too fresh to be able to write about. I will say it was a weekend of friendship, good food, hilarity, solemnity in the face of grandeur.
Of Northern Lights and coyotes howling.
Of wood fires and cold beer.
Of dreamless nights of deepest slumber, and a couple of tears.
But mostly laughter.
Maybe I'll leave you with that, to stitch together a picture of your own creating. And when I develop the film, I'll share that.

But it has left me with a deep purring in my chest, the faint rumblings of travel-envy, the stirrings of itchy feet. I am trying to ignore it, but I am already starting to get excited to be on the move again, to fly, to swim, to be on trains, planes, and automobiles; to meet new people, to be homesick for a home that doesn't exist anymore. To eat strange foods, and not understand what people are saying around you, and to sweat from hauling a backpack containing all you need to survive, and to feel a salty breeze on a ferry deck on your sunburnt face.
To finally have time to think, and write it down, and go over events in my life and analyze and understand and cement the lessons learned. To not be sedentary but moving. To experience. Because it's from experience that you draw true inspiration. A whole messy stash of experiences, a stock-pile, a heap of tangled emotions and images and words and thoughts.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Old Story

This morning I was sitting in Italian class, enjoying my sourdough bagel with dill cream cheese and waiting for the prof to start, when my sister came into the room (yes, we share an Italian class.) saw me, and started laughing.
Hey, she said.
Hey, I replied, why are you laughing at me? Is there something on my face? My hair?
Oh, no, she giggled, I was just going through this "empty" notebook I took from home, and found a story you started writing ages ago...
Where is it? I demanded. I was worried slightly; some of the stuff I had written as a teenager was never meant to be read by anyone else.
Here it is, she said, handing me a piece of lined notebook paper. And now I will share it with you:


"I can't marry Georges!" Cassian wailed. "Daaaad! No. I refuse. I'll run away before I marry that pig-faced, pot-bellied, son-of-a-guppy!"
                Her father sighed, and shrugged his shoulders. "It' a done deal, sweets. I know he's not the handsomest, smartest boy in the village, but," he added hastily, seeing his daughters expression, "He is a well-respected butcher in the town, and he comes from a good family, strawberry. You'll have a good life."
              Cassian's red face grew redder. "Unlike you, Dad, who broke social boundaries to marry a warrior freak and produced me! You raised me to find love at all costs! I can't believe you're doing this."
             Cassian's dad heaved another sigh and rolled his eyes to the heavens, praying for strength. "Cassi, my sunshine, do you want to continue being ostracized from the village your entire life like me? Your mother left us with nothing except broken hearts and a bad name. This is your chance! You could walk down the street with your head up, for once. If you do this for me, your father could die in peace."
           Cassian's face was stony. "I can't believe that you'd force your daughter to marry a man who leers at my chest each time I fetch the meat; a man who every Sunday pinches my bottom when the minister isn't looking, just to restore your social standing."
          He studied her face intently, and then seeing no remorse replied weakly, "Ha ha. Well, I did."
           Cassian seemed to finally accept the news. Her face went white and she sat down quite suddenly. "Oh my." she whispered. Her dad kneeled beside her and tried to hug her. She sat like stone, and finally he gave up.
        "Your mother's wedding dress is on your bed," he said, "I'll see you at the church tomorrow morning." and he walked inside the little stone cottage they lived in. Cassian continued to sit like a stone, but behind her great grey-green eyes, her mind was working furiously. "I can't marry Georges," she thought, and shuddered. A mental image of the balding, hugely fat man with blood-stained fingers leering at her came to mind. And then "I wonder how much he paid for me." Cassian knew that she wasn't considered the village beauty (that prize went to Griselda with her chocolate curls, porcelain-blue eyes and luscious red lips), and that she looked like her mother a lot. She was tall and skinny, all legs and arms, and had a proud face with dreamy eyes and a big nose. Sure, she admitted, I have nice hair


That's all there is. I have absolutely no recollection of writing this, but I'm pretty sure it was written when I was between 15-17, because I was in the self-centred habit of making every main character I wrote look almost exactly like me. Ha ha. I think my favourite lines are "pig-faced, pot-bellied, son-of-a-guppy", and the way her father calls her "strawberry, sunshine, and sweets" all within 2 lines. Oh, and the names "Georges" and "Cassian". Those are some awesome names.

After my sister showed me this and we shared it with our friends, we killed ourselves laughing. Better to laugh it off than be horribly embarrassed, right? RIGHT? Then again, it's always amusing to find old stuff you wrote as a kid, hahaha.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St Patricks Day

Yesterday's St. Patrick's celebrations consisted of me and two girl friends sitting around an empty apartment save for 4 chairs. We had frizzy hair from the rain outside, an 8-pack of beer, some green Jello shots, and an ipod playing Irish music. As it got darker and darker outside, we refused to turn on any lights, and instead we danced in front of the huge window that looked across at a blank brick wall.

Look, we didn't want to brave the crazy crowds and sweaty bars. We felt too old to do that now. So instead we drank and talked about boys and life, and when our friends started to stumble home from Whyte Ave, we texted them to come to us. So they did. And people were soon streaming in and out, and I met a million people whose names I knew I wouldn't remember so I didn't even try, and eventually, around 2 a.m., it was Lindsay, Alexis, me, a pilot, and 3 paratroopers who nobody knew.

We played a pyramid card drinking game, and the pilot beside me and myself were drinking water and convinced everyone it was straight vodka. I think we had them, I really do. And the paratroopers talked about how it hurt to jump out of a plane all the time, and one of them, Cole, talked about his experiences in Afghanistan, and one of them, James, was a bit of a thug, and the other, Adam, was a soft sweetheart who I can't imagine holding a gun. I don't have any friends who are in the military. In Canada, it's not common at all. I've never even really talked to a soldier before.

Sometimes I'll stop and think about how I ended up in these crazy situations. I am always so pleasantly surprised at how meeting new people can expand your mind. My mind feels expanded since last night. I love the feeling of growth as a person, because normally it's too slow to notice. Every once in a while though it just hits you.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

It has been melting this whole weekend. All windy and dripping and driving through the huge slush puddles creates enormous satisfaction as a sheet of water can rise higher than the car roof. Of course, it also means going through gallons of windshield fluid, and absolute peril if you walk anywhere.
But it makes the heart lighter. Friday morning I arrived at the cafe and the heat was on, the windows all shut, and it was sweltering inside. So we opened the windows, turned on the ceiling fans (our method of air conditioning) and the warm breeze coming in the from the door and the open windows made me want to scream with happiness. 
All of us were manic that day. Crystal, Kyla, Teri and I could barely walk; we wanted to run so badly, run outside like the kids at the school across the street, and to sit on a patio somewhere with a beer and lay our heads back and close our eyes to the sun. We didn't have to force ourselves to smile at customers that day because joy was emanating from our very pores. 
It's funny, because I have always known that Spring makes you more happy. But for some reason it has taken me by surprise this year. I have been so mired in keeping my head down, tuning out the outside world and just trudging on with school that I can scarcely believe that it is March, and maybe- just maybe- this is Spring starting already. 

Spring for me this year is heralding more than just tulips and the disappearance of ice. This year I am going back to Greece for more excavating from May 24-July 7th, when I return for my cousin's wedding. After that, this summer is going to be a whirlwind of gathering together the most important of my belongings (which honestly is mostly boxes and boxes of books), and then bidding adieu to the rest of my family. Having lived at home for the majority of my life, saying goodbye to my parents and my siblings is already breaking my heart. I am so very, very happy for them though. My dad got a job at the University of York, England, and my sister will be attending the U of Leeds. J is applying for med schools in the UK, since you can apply there straight out of high school, unlike Canada. And my mom has already worked it out with profs on both sides so that she will be able to finish her Master's in psych as an independent study. I am staying here to finish my undergrad, and trust me, there is nothing I want more than to be able to go on this next adventure with the rest of them. I have never been left out of the "family adventure" before, but I guess it's time to start forming my own version of "home". I guess that movie "Garden State" was right...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

March 1, 2012

She liked to lay in bed and read. While she read in bed she had to have a bowl of potato chips on the bedside table, and a bottle of water on the pillow beside her. And a lamp, a little table lamp for when it got dark in the bedroom and she couldn’t read the words anymore.
All day, everyday she would read. Fiction, non-fiction, magazines, even the labels of on her sheets:

Machine wash warm and gentle.
Tumble dry.

And she would think, who bleaches anything these days? Unless it’s a sink or a toilet bowl, or maybe if you murdered someone and were cleaning the scene of the crime. Then maybe you would bleach the bath-tub, or the garage floor, or wherever it happened.

She especially liked to read the novels from when she was a child. She liked nothing more than to reenter the worlds of castles and woodland forests and knights and princesses with attitudes, and encounter statues of stone that came to life, and sisters who all became dancers, and little orphan girls with hearts of gold who were always rescued from attics by rich old gentlemen. They made her feel young. They made her think that maybe she too could charm old gentlemen into letting her live with them.
But of course, then there was sex. And she hated how sex would have to be part of the bargain these days, and how come they just couldn’t love her for her pure heart and witty laughter?

All day, everyday. Read, read, read. And she grew thin, of course, and her legs lost all their muscle and she couldn’t even have walked if she wanted to. And three times a day her husband would come in and carry her to the toilet, and change her bowl of chips, and refill her water bottle. He never made a fuss; well, that’s not true. He probably had a whole lot to say about her lying in bed all the time, and in fact, the truth is he did say things, often, and loudly, but she just never listened. She was too busy being chased by the Calormen army across the desert into Narnia. She didn’t hear her children come up to the bed every morning to say goodbye on their way to school, and she didn’t hear them when they came to say good night. They would stand by the edge of the bed and peer at their mother prostrate with pillows tucked ingeniously in all the sore and curves of her back and neck, and perhaps they would even read over her shoulder for a few minutes before they left. They seemed to only be able to read for a short while before they had other things to do, like sports, and computers, and play-dates, and supper time.

Even at night she would read until her eyes closed on their own accord, and the book slowly dropped to her chest, and then as soon as she awoke she would pick it up and start reading again. Crime, romance, philosophy. Every book they had in the house, she read it 3, 4 times.
Finally, her husband called a doctor. He came to see her in bed, this young doctor in a clean dark suit and with curly dark hair. His bag was new leather, and still shiny and he was obviously proud of it as he placed it carefully by her feet at the end of the bed.  He looked at the woman, at her white, hollow-cheeked face, and thick hair tumbling all over the pillow and at her tight shut red lips.
You can leave us, he told the husband. The husband looked like he was about to disagree, then he shrugged, and left.
The doctor spoke to the woman, who was ignoring him completely, wrapped in her own mind.
Please, ma’am. Can you say hello to me? My name is Doctor Andrew. What is yours?
There was silence.
Ma’am…he started. He cleared his throat, touched her arm, and spoke a little louder.
Ma’am, please, I need you to at least acknowledge my presence.
She shivered under the touch of his arm, like a horse shaking off a fly.
His smooth brow furrowed, and he looked like David deciding to defeat Goliath. Ma’am, he said, then, without waiting another minute, he leaned down and kissed her full on the mouth.
This time her eyes closed, and the book dropped onto the coverlet. She kissed him back.
It was sweet and long, and finally the doctor pulled away and groaned. Oh God, what did I just do? He said.
The woman smiled, opened her eyes, and went back to reading. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What No One Ever Told Me

Here's something no one ever tells you, or maybe everyone knows it except me; perhaps I missed that day of school. But what it is that I think is missing is this: that when you break off emotional contact with someone special (I hate to use the word "Love", but perhaps that's what it is), you end up hurting. Right? Can everyone agree with me? And sometimes it will have been a long-time thing, or even just a day, or perhaps you talked to this person once. The length of time doesn't really matter. The thing that matters is the connection, and then that connection being severed, in one way or another.
Sometimes, not all the time, but for me, most of the time, I end up feeling bruised. Heart-heavy. Sore. Damaged.
I'm not talking about heart ache, or getting over someone. It's more personal, and less easily tied to the other person. It's deeper, more of a disappointment in yourself than anything else, and normally you can twist that feeling into "gained wisdom", but it's still got a negative element running under it.

Anyways, the thing no one ever tells you is that that deep, deeper than the heart level ache, it never goes away. You go from relationship to relationship feeling more and more damaged and broken in little ways. Sure, you become older, more mature, more careful, but you carry the scars. Years and years and years can pass, and you can have forgiven the person, moved on, sincerely wish them the best, and yet- and yet.  HOW COME NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THIS??? That at the end of something you can't just wipe the slate clean and carry on, having completely hoped to escape any negative effects? WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT IT? Why does no one say "be careful, you can't leave behind your experiences, they shape who you are, for BETTER and for WORSE". The damage done on this deepest of levels is permanent, and the best you can do is to try and carry on anyways, being more cautious that it won't happen again.

Maybe they did talk about it. Maybe I just wasn't listening. Maybe it had to be that I find this out for myself; maybe I wouldn't have believed it if anyone else said it.

I am just recently discovering this. I think most people must have figured it out in junior high, but then, I was always a late bloomer.

What is running through my head these past couple of weeks:
(Tall Trees in Georgia)

The sweetest love I ever had 
I left aside 
Because I did not want 
To be any mans bride 
But now I'm older 
And married I would be 
I found my sweetheart 
But he would not marry me 

When I was younger 
The boys all came around 
But now I'm older 
And they've all settled down 
Control your mind my girl 
And give your heart to one 
For if you love all men 
You'll be surely left with none 

Tall trees in Georgia, 
They grow so high 
They shade me so 
And sadly walking 
Through the thicket I go

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Very Boring Encounter

Dani and I sat in the tiny airport lounge a few metres away from our father, and plopped down our backpacks, wiped the sweat off our foreheads. It was warm, not hot; springtime in Crete was mild and pleasant but when you've been running with heavy bags you sweat anyways. We sort of laughed at one another, because we had thought we would miss our plane and here we were with all these calm and collected Greeks around us, and we had bright red faces and overly-loud laughs. Our father pulled out his lap-top almost instantly to continue working on his lectures using the airport's free Wi-Fi, but Dani and I just sat there and looked around us. People watching was one of our favourite things to do. That's when I spotted him, a tall, well dressed boy who looked my age or a bit older, standing with what could be his parents. He was gorgeous, so of course I elbowed my sister very subtly and hissed at her Hey, isn't he cute? And she whispered back I know! I just saw him too! And together we stared at him until it was kind of awkward since he never even once looked in our direction, and really, could you blame him? So we took out our books and tried to look as cool as the people around us, and not interested in anything or anyone, you know, very aloof and distant and European. Since we had just spent the last 3 months in school in Italy and then the previous two weeks lying on the beach in southern Turkey, the two of us had almost perfected the European air, and I like to think we could pull it off, when we really wanted to of course. 
Soon it was time to board, and we got in line behind Hot Boy and his parents (?), had our passports and tickets ready to go like the pro's we are, and said "Eph-er-EASE-toe" to the airline stewardesses. We slowly moved through the line-up, giggling and nudging one another and shooting glances at the boy, and looking back we must have seemed a little silly and obvious to the people around us. Once we were through the line, Dani whispered to me, Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if we got to sit beside Him? And I laughed because that was JUST what I had been thinking, and it was weird because sometimes Dani's and mine thoughts were so synchronized that it scared me when she voiced something that had just floated through my head. 
We boarded the plane, and moved towards our seats. I saw the boy sit down in a row by himself, and my armpits started sweating and I felt a prickling heat flash across my forehead and down my spine and that's when I KNEW that it must be my seat beside him. We kept moving slowly through the plane, stopping and waiting for the people in front of us to shove their luggage in the overhead bins and clamber over each other's legs to their seats, but finally we got to the row on my ticket and I was right, it WAS beside the boy. I double checked though, and then very very very self consciously I shoved my backpack into the bin and clumsily collapsed into the seat beside him, face burning up. Never before had I noticed just how extremely close and tight airplane seating was. He had the window seat and he took up both armrests. Then Dani sat down on the other side of me, a huge smirk on her face. Doing alright there, sis? She asked. I sort of mumbled something then laughed manically. The presence of this stranger, this creature with blood and bones and muscles and emotions and history, just like me, reduced me to a bumbling idiot.  So I tried to gather my wits. I pulled my book out of my purse, an extremely boring Herman Melville novel I had stolen from a youth hostel, or maybe I had replaced it with something equally terrible? Anyways, it was set on a wheel-boat I think they are called, in America, like Mark Twain. And I pulled it right up in front of my face, in order to a) look intelligent, and b) hide my red face from the Adonis beside me. 
The whole 2 hour plane ride to Cyprus I kept the book in front of my face, though once in a while I would sneak a peak at what he was reading. I think it was Spanish. But then he slept through the snack, and the drink cart, and I was in agony wondering if I should wake him up or not, maybe start a conversation. Where I thought this conversation would lead to I had no idea. Or if we even could hold a conversation, language-wise. I think I wanted it to be like Before Sunrise, except set on a plane instead of a train, and minus his parents and my sister and father. I love that movie. It has to be in my top 5 favourite movies of all time. 
But then we landed, and he woke up, pulled out a cell-phone, made a call. And I was sad for many reasons; because I didn't have a cell phone and couldn't call anyone even if I did because I didn't know anyone, and because it probably meant he was checking in with his girlfriend, and because I had maybe missed a great opportunity to talk to a fascinating person, and because life wasn't like a book or a movie and people aren't like characters that were created to interact with me. Dani, though, was killing herself laughing, mimicking me holding this awful falling apart novel in front of my face for two hours straight. And I guess that was kind of funny. 
So this isn't a story where two strangers meet and interact very much, have a connection, change one another's lives.  This is a story of cowardice, and slim regrets, and "what could have been's". I'm not quite sure why it has stuck with me for so long. I can't even remember what the boy looked like; I just have this vague impression of greatness. I do have some stories that could rival Before Sunrise, but this isn't one of them. Maybe sometime I'll tell you of them. But for now, this is the memory I needed to share. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day

Yes, Valentine's Day is horridly commercial, and I should be shunning it all, having an Anti-Valentine's Day party, etc. But how can you not love a day that reminds us to tell our loved ones that they ARE loved? It's not responsible to buy someone flowers every day, nor is it healthy to eat at an expensive restaurant every night. But one day a year, it is nice to be celebrating LOVE, regardless of religious or political or social background.
And yes, it is nice to get flowers, whether they be from a romantic partner, a friend, or even my grandfather. It makes me feel special.
Those are my feelings on Valentine's Day. People should stop hating it and feeling sorry for themselves, and if they think that no one will give them a gift, maybe they should go out there and buy a gift for one of their own loved ones. Seeing the reaction on their face is one of the best gifts around.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stumbled through the morning in a fog, as usual these days. For some reason I woke up around dawn absolutely drenched in sweat, dying under my layers of flannel sheets and feather duvets. But as soon as I threw off the covers I was instantly chilled, frozen, and it seemed wrong- hot and cold, damp yet static-y. And then my nose started gushing blood while I was washing my face, at first just a drop or two of water coming off my face was pink, and I hardly noticed, but then I looked in the mirror and it was bright red streaming out of my nose, over my mouth, off my chin.
I've gotten nosebleeds my whole life, but they became worse and more often when we moved to dry and cold Alberta. It still shocks me sometimes, seeing that red like paint liquid splash everywhere, overflow over my fingers as I bolt to the bathroom, drip onto the floor, the sink, my desk, my clothes. And the taste of iron at the back of my throat, and the way it stains. There is no colour in the world as chilling as your own blood. So dense, so potent and deep, it makes my heart stutter in a bad way, yet it is familiar. It resonates as mine, belonging to me, and it is amazing that my body produces something so beautiful and necessary.

It was colder today than it has been, and the trees and bushes and parks where covered in sheets of frost. With the sun and my new toque on it was glorious. But again, I couldn't touch it, feel it in the same way I normally do. It just sort of floated down, settled in to my brain and senses, and I thought abstractly of how poetic it all was.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday Mornings

This Saturday it was the eggs- the runny yolk staining the plates, the fragments of shell crunching on the floor, and the wibbly wobbly white bits under the heating lamp- I had a wave of dizziness and bolted for the back door, not meeting any of the kitchen people's eyes. The fresh air was like waking up from a bad dream- beautiful, refreshing, safe, but still tainted by the terror dimly remembered. I sat on a yellow upturned milk crate behind the trailer stacked 15 feet high with flattened cardboard boxes, facing the sun, and stared at the ground. Strange for E-town, but it was above zero, and the sky was a hard blue, and the sun had a tangible warmth that reminded me of spring. Breathe in, breathe out. Count the pieces of gravel by my worn out black shoes. Feel the heat of the sun, the crisp breeze.
What was wrong with me? I wasn't feeling ill, just off. Not hearing voices, but definitely wouldn't blink an eye if I did. My limbs were all working, for now, but for some reason I had no faith in them and if I was overcome with a paralyzing sense of apathy I truly believed that they would collapse under me or even fall off.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Dear God in High Heaven, thank you for the warm sun on my winter skin.
I couldn't move. I had tables waiting for me, food getting cold, people wanting my help, my service, people whose day I could ruin if I was rude or mixed up their order or simply didn't show up to help them eat. Did they ever think about how many people could ruin my day, if I let them? You certainly grow a thick skin soon enough, or drown in the despair and slights and comments heaped upon you. Like learning to swim, or how I taught my sister to snowboard- just pushed her down a little hill, said you can do it, meet you at the bottom.
I can be such an asshole.

Jessie came slamming out the back door, and stared at me in surprise.
What's up? she said, pulling a cigarette out of her purse and putting it in her mouth, You feeling alright?
Yeah... I said... Well, no. The eggs are making me feel sick.
She stared at me with her small blue eyes, almost lost in her freckled face. You don't like eggs?
Nah. Sort of. Not really. The yolk is gross. And the white part- ugh.
She readjusted her ball cap on her head, and I remembered that she was the head chef, and maybe she was taking offence.
Like, the ones we serve are good, I mean... I trailed off, then added: But the smell. It makes me feel sick.
She nodded. Jess was a good person, a young single mom of 26, not much older than me, and over the summer we had partied together a few times, and even gone streaking through the city one night. But she was tough as nails, and definitely took no bullshit.
I was sick last week, she said. Just for a day. I was taking Darius home and it just hit me, like no warning, nothing. I was out flat for 24 hours, thought I would die in the bathroom with a bowl under my head.
But the next morning I was fine. Just slept for like 18 hours, though.
I winced in sympathy. Maybe that's what I have, I told her, knowing full well that my problem wasn't physical.
Yeah, maybe she said, exhaling a cloud of thin smoke that dissipated almost instantly on the wind.
I stood up. My legs behaved just fine.
Well, see ya in there, I said and walked to the door, pulling it open and disappearing into the dark hallway, the main canal from which a million streams fed off. The instant it slammed shut behind me, cutting off the sweet warm air, and the sun, and the sense of space that I had been missing, yes, that's it, I had been missing having a sky overhead instead of a ceiling, complicated long distance views sideways instead of painted walls, the instant that was closed off from me I shuddered and walked back into the greasy kitchen full of people running around, and I tried to breathe through my mouth not my nose to avoid the cloying sticky eggy smell, and I was in some sort of hell once more.