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.