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.