jeudi, décembre 30, 2004


being mouthy and strangely competant in most aspects of my life, it comes as a bit of a suprise to a lot of people that computer glitches that do not fix themselves right away leave me frothing at the mouth and planning ways to kill off the gremlins that are clearly inhabiting my harddrive. In all honesty, besides turning the sucker on and off, I have no idea how anything works, programs, downloads or otherwise, and I intend to keep it that way. However, had I a thimble's worth of common sense or laced my cereal with slightly less stubborn juice, I could probably be convinced that learning how to debug my parent's computer could be a useful way to spend my time. I would then have been able to check my hotmail account, my university email, and write on this little page of self indulgence.

As it is, I have been happily out of touch with the "real" world since returning to BC.

I am at my grandfather's house on Vancouver Island now, (where the computer still won't take me to hotmail...) staying on the coast for a few days to see relatives and friends before heading back east. I wish I could say that the past few weeks have been a whirlwind and this is a well deserved break, but truthfully, Kelowna was quiet and I slept a lot.

I only keep in touch with about two friends and one was working a lot and the other didn't get back until the 23rd. I went to a few open houses, did some christmas shopping, cooked a little, slept a lot... nothing to light the pond on fire.

The usual entertainment sufficed: making up answers to my parent's friends queries about my post-university plans (lap dancer got some priceless reactions), watching a lot of movies, knitting (I am my grandmother), and slipping out of conversations that involved marriage, babies and my prospects therein. I love how I think that the perspective in Montreal is so skewed-grad school obsession, academic excellance trumping mental health- but really, it's got nothing on the good old hometown.

It is good to be on the coast, I am running out of ways to be polite about my lack of direction or ability to hold sucessful husband auditions.

samedi, décembre 18, 2004

home (?) again...

I am sitting in the Westbank library, checking email while my mum does groceries for my father's voluntary unemployment dinner tonight. It's finally happened. He is retired!!! In celebration we are going skiing tomorrow and picking out a Christmas tree.

My darling brother has taken off to Australia, from the sound of his voice over a sketchy phone line, is having a ball. He started work at the hotel today, and I hope it went well-jetlag and sharp kitchen knives are not always the best combination. It was hard to watch him go through airport security, he looked so young and small and ... then I realized that I was 2 years younger when I took off and far less pulled together. Terrifying the amount of trust my parents must have had in my apparent good sense!

The house is quiet without him. I miss joking around and cooking dinner with him, fighting over the amount of spice the sauce needs.

mum is done groceries now.

off to cook some prawns!!!!

jeudi, décembre 02, 2004


I have re-acquired my copy of Bird By Bird. (thanks sait!) It is written by Anne Lamott who is an insanely talented and honest writer; a woman whose words make me laugh out loud on the metro, and keep me up reading by flashlight in the middle of the night.

The actual book is something of a personality. I can't remember where or when I got it, but I have a strong suspicion that my mum bought me my own copy after I disappeared hers. It is worn and there is lots of underlining throughout and the odd margin note. I am so glad to have it back, especially at the beginning of exam period, because somehow Ms Lamott puts me in perspective. A commodity I am dearly in need of right now.

"I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won't have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren't even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you and have a lot more fun while they're doing it."

I keep remembering a sign on the wall of the ballet studio in Kelowna: "We aim for perfection; excellence will be tolerated."

What was I saying about perspective? Permanently skewed??? Yes, I thought so.

mercredi, décembre 01, 2004

avoiding the new testament

Yesterday I accidentally fell asleep in the TNC office for 5 hours. I dreamt about a crocodile in a my bathtub and waging civil war in a grocery store. Weird stuff. When I woke up it was dark and I felt like I had missed the entire day, which, I guess in a way, I had. I was worried that I would be up all evening, but I managed to fall asleep around midnight with relative ease. I feel like I am about to get back on the 'terminal exhaustion' bandwagon. Bloody exam schedule.

Last day of lectures for me today... we managed to convince the seminar prof that we didn't need to meet on thursday, so I unexpectedly have time to do laundry this week. Exams start on the 7th (and I have two that day) and then a week to prep my seminar paper and study for ethnic conflict. Right now I am exhibiting zero motivation on all fronts. I know enough about myself to realize study avoidance has gotten extreme when I would rather learn my choir music than do a few readings. So far I haven't resorted to cleaning the apartment obsessively, but I am sure that will come.

I wonder if other people manage to self-sabotage as well as I do. Realistically, I should just get down to work and save myself the anguish and annoyance... but I seem completely unable to do so right now. Probably why I am writing random crap on here.

"I listen to the wind, to the wind on my soul/
where I'll end up, well I think only God really knows/
I've set it on the setting sun/but never never never never/
I've never wanted water once/I've never never never/
I listen to my words but they fall far below/
I let my music take me where my heart wants to go/
I swam upon the devil's lake /but never never never never/
I never make the same mistake/no, never never never"

dimanche, novembre 28, 2004


new shoes. again. what was I thinking????

but they are so beautiful

this addiction has to be stopped.

senseless kindness

I am full of pasta and scallops and spininch (highly reccomended on cold damp nights) and ben harper is playing from the kitchen. And someone else is doing the dishes. This is a moment to perfect to let go without notice.

As was opening the door in the middle of a term paper to a choice of swiss chocolate or cigarette.

Or perfectly timed tea and croissants.

Lately, though my life has been insane with school, I've found myself having the best of times with my friends. So much laughter.

Maybe it is because the semester is almost over and I can relax a little and breathe. And sleep. I think life is evening out.

Stuff that's been on my mind:
-next year: what to do, where to go... India, Neasa? Africa?
-the utility of introducing a bass player into the newly found equilibrium
-topic for my seminar paper
-how quiet the house will be at christmas without Timothy. How much I am going to miss him
-how glad I am that Timothy is getting out of Kelowna
-how much I love "petoncles"
-new pillows.
-red wine

mardi, novembre 23, 2004


I wore my hiking boots today. It wasn't snowing or anything, I just decided that they needed a trial run so that my feet get used to them before I have to wear them every day. When I opened the cupboard to take them out, I caught a glimpse of my other boots-my old ones.

I got the old boots the summer I was 13 because I was hiking the West Coast Trail with my mum and some of her friends. The shop that we bought them from isn't open anymore, but it was on the main street in downtown Kelowna, and the process of finding the right fit was close to buying pointe shoes: take an hour or two, try on everything in your size in stock, make about 50 'practice walks' around the store, finally, once your brain is numbed to the differences between pairs, choose something that you think makes your feet look cool. My boots were grey with purple accents (this was 1995!) and they cost about $250, which I thought was astronomical, and was suprised when my normally budget-conscious father didn't get annoyed when paying for them. He said they were a good investment.

I hiked the West Coast Trail and canoed the interior of BC with those boots. They were staples of my wardrobe during several summers of camp counsellor employment, and I wore them every day for eight weeks working on a landscaping crew the summer I was 16. They also were the boots I wore while riding on the back of my dad's motercycle all over New Zealand, and on a grade nine trip to Europe. In between adventures, I wore them to and from highschool, the movies, dance class...When I moved to Wales, the boots went too, and then to Lebanon, accross the Middle East and now Montreal.

I only had blisters the first hike; somewhere there is a snapshot of me sitting on driftwood at a campsite near Tsusiat Falls cradling a moleskin covered foot, the boots discarded in front of me.

The purple is indistinguishable now, they are a fairly uniform shade of grey, and there are holes where the stitching has disintegrated. There are cracks in the leather by the joints of my big toe and little toe where the boots bent with every step I took in them. The treads are completely worn down, and when they stand on their own the boots look like my feet are still in them. The laces are ratty, with at least two knots for mending purposes. There is a white line of dried salt around them from the roads in Montreal in the winter-looks a bit like a high water mark... These are not sexy boots.

Last December I left them on top of the radiator over night, trying to dry them off. The rubber soles, having had enough of my abuse, separated from the bottom of the rest of the boot and only stayed attached at the heel. I didn't even try to superglue them back together, somehow I just knew they were finished.

My parents bought me the new boots for Christmas last year. They are really nice-they make my feet look dainty, and they are a tasteful brown. They don't fit right though. Like rebounding from a relationship, I jumped on the "new boots" bandwagon, willfully disregarding the small pinching of my toes and the blisters growing on my heels.
"You just need time to break them in," I told myself, "You haven't had new boots in so long, you don't know what to expect. Give them a chance."

I spent the rest of the winter with pinched toes and bloody heels.

The new boots are better now. I have broken them in as much as possible. Nine years down the line, they may have history too. They just won't have the same teenage years are in those boots, quietly sitting in the cupboard under the stairs, waiting for me to figure out how to deal with them.

mercredi, novembre 17, 2004

whirling dervish

It's been two weeks since I saw them, the dervishes, and only now are they coming to mind...delayed...cognitive...analysis...

When I hear the word "dervish" I think of the cloud that surrounds the road runner in cartoons when he is speeding down the road, narrowly missing cacti. Helter Skelter and vaguely out of control. But they are not like that at all.

The music begins and they start swaying gently side to side with their arms crossed over their chests. As they are swaying side to side, they are also making a small figure of eight movement with their shoulders. Because of their long and wide skirts, their legs are obscured, so the swaying dervish-men have the appearance of seeming to grow out of the ground. A dervish-assistant walks through the group of dervish-tree-men with an incense burner wafting clouds and clouds of smoke around the already otherworldly swaying beings. Then, suddenly, with no apparent queue, all the dervishes start to spin. They turn to the left and gradually get faster and faster, but at no point do they seem out of control or haphazard. At first, I was looking very intently to try to figure out the movements of the feet, and the arms and if they were spotting or not, but after a while I gave in to the spinning and stopped analysing and just watched.

The dervishes spun with intense speed and perfectly co-ordinated arm movements, yet I felt like there was a core part of each of them that wasn't spinning, that was still and bemusedly apart.

It seemed to go on forever. As though the spinning was eternal, had been started eons ago and would continue long after we left the theatre. And suddenly. They stopped. All at once. Finished. Standing still, arms back crossed over their chests, heads bowed. Perfect balance.

Lately, I feel like a dervish in training. Spinning for all I am worth, starting to detatch.

jeudi, novembre 11, 2004

midnight cleaning

I've often wondered about "new age" music. Somehow the glint in a Yani fan's eyes frightens me. As though she is recieving messages from outerspace via his haunting pan-pipes played at the Acropolis...

Right now I am proof of my own theory:

I stopped writing my African History term paper at 1am on the basis that I was tired and would do better to finish the sucker off tomorrow morning. In need of a bit of relaxation, (and sick of the majority of my CD collection) I put an Enya compilation in... within the time it took the kettle to boil-for my herbal chamomile tea (ha ha ha)-I was overwhelmed with the urge to clean my bathroom, tile scrubbing and all... As my bathroom is pretty small scrubbing the whole thing didn't take too long, so I moved on to sweeping my living room and hallway, and some light dusting. I contemplated mopping too, but somewhere in a part of my brain NOT being directed by the ghosts of Enya and Martha Stewart I realized that I was going a bit far...

dimanche, novembre 07, 2004

Self indulgence

Interesting days.

The silence of my flat drowns out the residual soundtrack of the week which lingers in my ears. Telephone rings, polite inquiries, alarm clocks, cacaphonic voices, laughter... It is so necessary to just sit here in the semi-darkness and the quiet, letting pent up everything drain away.

I have new artwork: a cast of breasts. My breasts. It was "dyke days" this week at school, and Nina and I, after teasing Nisha all week about her duty to the woman's studies department to attend, decided to go and plaster our breasts for posterity. Realistically, mine will probably never look so good again, and Nina-Brazillian to the core- wants to be able to remember at age 50 what hers looked like before plastic surgery took over! There were about 10 women, of which we were the only two not to have ex-girlfriends, but no questions were asked and maybe we were ambiguous enough to pass. The whole experience was quite fantastic. Because Nina and I were "doing" each other, there was no sexual vibe between us-but afterwards we both felt completely relaxed and mellow. The wine probably helped...

And then later last night, Nisha and Waleed finally caved in and told each other that they were hopelessly in love-something that most of us around them have known for months. Good to see Nish so happy. And Waleed was more relaxed than I have ever seen him...I cannot imagine how he has existed since the spring so deeply in love with her and not said anything. I would have exploded. It's so new right now that I don't even know what to think about it; I am excited for them and terrified at the same time. Neither of them are wont to dive headfirst into something that isn't serious, so this may be the beginning of something longterm.

I've been thinking about timing lately. How right now when I feel like I am marking time before moving away again, others around me are settling in or beginning something new. I find it difficult not to compare where I am, in my life, with where any other random person is. I think I need to value my life experiences and learnings a little more, but I just assume everyone around me has similar-or better-stuff going on. Because all I know is my life, it seems normal and unexciting, and I have no reliable way of figuring out how I am doing relative to the rest of humanity. ...Well Claire, does it really matter how you measure up?... ha ha ha-really, on a lifetime scale, of course not. But right now, while I am in flux, it creeps in. "Comparisons are odious." Yes, they are... and I need to work on exorcising some odious voices in my skull.

I think I need to work on being present. Which sounds lame and airyfairy in a lemongrass tea and deep breathing kind of way. But really what I mean is to concentrate on the place I am in right now and not to waste energy on past or future. Because, really, stuff will work itself out.

Blah blah blah... self indulgent crap.
except that I tend to forget about taking care of myself. So self indulgence can be excused. Once or twice.

lundi, novembre 01, 2004


Soothing: It has been raining on and off all day. I know this, not because I have been outside getting rained upon, but because the window has been open and I've been pounding out analysis of the Congo Crisis to the soundtrack of rain.

Touching: Jeff brought me "des petits gateaux" to feed my brain. Apparently vanishing from the human race for a few days can have benefits. Such beautiful little tarts, and a box with a bow. The hardened cynic in me wonders what he is up to, but the rest of me just ate the damn tarts and will ponder the deeper meaning later.

The weekend: mostly blah, but I did manage to catch up on some sleep. However, I am not sure how good an idea sleeping was... I can go for weeks on adrenaline and caffiene and 4 hours a night, but as soon as I relax and let my guard down I get sick. Right now is not the time to get sick. I am eating oranges by the pound and drinking so much water that I am sure I no longer walk: I float.

vendredi, octobre 29, 2004

breaking things

fucking curiosity... the death toll for cats is rising exponentially.

Having been grumpy for days, I find myself in a state of near apoplectic rage. Too bad my dishes are all pyrex, as I could do with hurling a few of them into the ally. And then going for a long long run... starting running so blindly angry that I end up sprinting a good 5 km and collapsing, lungs heaving, stomach churning-exhausted.

I feel like King Knut... raging against the inevitable. And, like the shore, there will be eventual calm once the rushing tides abate... I just don't know when that will happen. My patience is shot, (did I ever posess any to begin with?) and we all know that I do so well when life spirals out of my control...

[timothy to claire: "here's a phrase that describes you: 'I'm not a control freak... things just go better when you do it my way.'"]

This too shall pass. Thanks mum. I just don't enjoy the process. Always prefered the destination to the journey.

Rather than being in the shelter of a big top, sometimes it seems like this tightrope I am walking is really a power line and it's monsoon season.

Metaphors all over the place tonight... general lack of coherence.

Tempering the rage: Justine and I talking last night at "all hours," solving all the problems of the moment-specifically le francais... a lot of red wine should do the trick! And the satisfaction of nailing the Bach to the wall tonight.

Not quite running, but for now, it's all I've got.

mercredi, octobre 27, 2004


I walked home across the reservoir field tonight at around 5:30 and the whole city was grey. The sky was pewter coloured and the buildings of downtown, all steel and windows, reflected the clouds. But strangely, it wasn't at all dark. Somehow everything seemed to glow-luminescence.

"before last night my heart was grey//like my country is today...''

Mum said that part of learning to put yourself first is learning how to be alone and not searching for other people's validation. I think this autumn is teaching me that in spades. The only problem is that learning how to validate myself is a little more complicated than I had anticipated.

Really, who eats 3 balanced meals and two snacks every day? Those people need help.

Brief joys:

Talking to Platonic Love in the library... (flutter of heart beat... ha ha ha)
Stepping out my door and really smelling autumn.
Strong tea pouring out of the elephant pot into blue and white mug half filled with milk
Solitary cigarette on the back step in the middle of the night
Trans continental gossip
chinese take out food

"we'll sleep when we're dead"

lundi, octobre 25, 2004

Hell is...

...other people.

Nina reminded me of that the other day. And for me, on top of hell being politics papers, hell is other people.

Other people in my space, or-more currently-profoundly out of my space. The gaps in space and time that were occupied by now vacant people. Negative people? Negative space? I guess over time we learn to fill in the holes, like puttying the pin holes out of a wall...replacement theory. Or we stich together the tear leaving bulky seams...

Such mixing of metaphors. Mr. Chalmers would have a heart attack.

Jeff was at my house tonight, and while he was nice and funny and tried really hard to take my mind off school and talk about something else (anything else), I wanted to yell at him: "STOP TALKING TO ME!!! Stop looking at me!!! Stop trying to get me to relax!!! I am NEVER going to fucking relax..." It wouldn't have been fair, because he was honestly trying to help, but it occured to me how much more relaxed I would be if I could just scream at him until he left. However, being my well brought up self, I offered him a cup of coffee and let him talk to me about his school work and sports and music. The words washed over me and I realized that I only had to listen to about one third of them in order to make coherent responses. [It is at moments like this when I realize I am a completely horrible person] I just kept making non-commital noises and he kept talking, and I passed the time by thinking about all the stuff I have to do in the next week... Maybe by the end we were both more relaxed?

Rowan has been haunting me the past couple of days. Invading my thoughts when I want to be alone, and making inappropriate comments in the back of my head. Somehow, I think this is normal-he is the most recent reference point-but it irks me. Mostly because I doubt he is having this problem with the ghost of Claire...

mercredi, octobre 20, 2004


profound aloneness right now.

leaving me at a loss for words to express my feelings...

just that right now, in the middle of the night, in a city that isn't mine- but is more mine than anywhere else- I feel small.

lonliness like the ferry waves on the beach at Gabriola... arriving unexpectedly, crashing in rhythm onto the reef. Chaos in the tidepool and random shifting of the rocks on the beach. the sound of the retreating wave, pulling the rocks further from shore and then returning them to almost where they were before. noise of waves and rocks bashing together is lodged in my inner ear, I couldn't forget it if I tried. and then...just when it seems there must have been a wind or tide shift, it stops. quiet again, the slapping and gurgling of calm waters. no matter how many times, always suprising me because by the time the wake reaches our beach the boat is long gone and for a minute I am confused as to the source of the disturbance. Which isn't really a disturbance at all... just semi-routine levity for the inter-tidal range.

lundi, octobre 18, 2004

gainful employment

hired at the Italian cafe... the kitchen is about 14x15 feet. Possibly the smallest comprehensible space in which to serve food to 60 seats. Two burners, a flat top, toaster, mini pizza oven, panini press, slicer, waffle maker, two fridges and a freezer. Oh, and a sink. Somehow it all works. Two people fit nicely and it is not a big pain in the ass to mop.

My chef, Ali, is Iranian. He looks exactly like the actor who played the Iranian colonel in House of Sand and Fog (an alternately wonderful and awful film). He and his family escaped Iran just after the revolution and the death of his father-a colonel in the Shah's army... He speaks quickly and tends to go off on tangents sort of related to food... but not really. Because I only worked with him on Friday, and wasn't there for a large rush, I still have no idea what he will be like when the shit is firmly lodged in the fan. I'll probably find out sooner or later, as I will be the only other person within a two foot radius chef rage will be experienced at close range.

Terminal exhaustion seems to rule my life. That and a meal time schedule. Eating every 4 hours seems bizarre to me, but I guess that is a measure of how much I need this structure. Grocery shopping tomorrow for actual food, and then a gigantic leap onto the bandwagon well being? For a start, I'll take a simple reduction of neurosis.

Ballet class yesterday was wonderful. Only four of us and a grey drizzly day. The simplicity of movement sooths me. Exercises I could do in my sleep require precise concentration to achieve perfect technique. It is somehow a physical meditation: focusing my mind on achievable details while simultaneously allowing it to detach. (ha ha ha, if read correctly the previous sentence asserts that ballet detaches my mind... how ironically correct!) Right now though, it makes me happy.

Especially humbling are the rest of the women in the class. All of them rank beginners, they approach dance with an energy and joyousness that blows my mind. I cannot comprehend ballet without baggage. And they are weightless. We laugh a lot. Such a revelation to me.

Exiting the studio and into the crackling autumn wind- complete with apropriately coloured leaves and children wearing scarves- I am buoyed by limber muscles and a peaceful mind right over to the music faculty where my peaceful mind is shattered by rehearsing the hardest choir music I have ever seen. Really. This shit is for real. Yesterday we just read the recital rep, and it's a good thing we don't perform it until March, because it will take me at least that long to get the notes, let alone the shifting time signatures. Nicholle's recital is a PhD exam, and thus the rest of us have to be up to her capabilities. The music blows my mind and my sight reading skills. Recently moved to Alto 1 from 2nd sop, I am having to listen damn hard to find myself in the chord.

Thus I find myself employed in various pursuits other than school. Hmmm better fix that soon. Right after I make Nina dinner and and unplug the drain in my shower.

vendredi, octobre 15, 2004

le tired...

...then take a nap- and then fire zeee missiles!!!

no profound musings today. patati, patata...

such long days, thursdays... but the somehow I like the feeling of total and complete exhaustion at the end. Where I drag my carcass home up St. Laurent from the metro station, through all the people out to start their weekends at 10:30 on a Thursday, and into my tiny house. Collapse into chair. Relish inactivity. Savouring the feeling of my muscles relaxing, the tautness easing, becoming human puddle.

Apparently, I may be gainfully employed by tomorrow afternoon. In a kitchen, (will I ever escape... probably not...) and in a hysterical twist, I seem to have enough experience that I have to do an audition shift for them to see how competent I really am. Jordan and Timothy: you can stop having fits of laughter any time! It is a little Italian cafe, and after a day of work tomorrow I will have a much better idea of what I am getting into. Pizzas by the look of things, and probably salads and sandwiches. Really, I never will escape!

The chicken stock made good soup. And Justine and I ate the rest of the pie... well, mostly I did. But she helped a great deal. And since there is enough pumpkin for 3 more pies... we will be eating it forever!

Finally, an A on a response paper. Bane of my existance has been (temporarily) lifted.

mercredi, octobre 13, 2004

procrastination as elevated to an art form

should be reading for the ethnic conflict exam on thursday... nicer to drink tea and whine about stress levels... that is what university students do.

Today, for example. Woke up to CBC's news, slept through a class, woke up again, wrote response paper that was supposed to be handed in during previously slept through class, emailed said paper to prof, ran to school, was lectured at, came home to study.... which thus far hasn't happened to a great extent!

I did, however, make chicken stock from the remains of the thanksgiving fowl. The wierdest part was preparing them for roasting and having to saw the necks off. I am used to looking at dead chicken and completely divorcing the meat from it's previous animated form. Somehow the necks made them look obscene. Whereas before they were just un-cooked dinner, with necks they became a little bit alien.

Now though, they are just carcasses and have made nice stock, and I feel like a 1950's house wife... who should be studying...or ironing...