jeudi, mars 31, 2005

the fashion police

The first really warm day, and the mcgill fashion victimhood was in full swing. Restraint ladies. We do not have to wear all of the spring trends at once.

case in point: cowboyboots. flouncy skirt. gold sequin belt. teeshirt. slightly shrunken one button blazer in peach. pearls. big headphones around neck. dangly chandelier earrings. artfully messed up hair, probably in need of a wash.

Under no circumstances should these distinct items form a whole outfit.

There will be more warm days. I promise.

And the Uggs with the miniskirt and it's only 5 degrees out? Two things: legs that blindingly white should be dontated to science to be used as incubator lights for premature babies. AND it is five degrees out!!! That skirt is approximatly five inches long. Parts of you that should not be that cold are going to get that cold.

'sall I'm sayin... (and maya says too... only she is too polite to tell you!)

mardi, mars 29, 2005

one month later

you asked me what I have learned:

-to always buy good cheese.

-to listen to music that I don't understand. for longer than I normally would and then, in the middle of half hearing it, to appreciate the skill and devotion of those who play it.

-to relax and enjoy the embrace

-to look for the good in people. to accept the grace and help of my friends

-to be careful of those close to me. Not to take them for granted.

-that who we choose to love doesn't always make sense. And that "sense" in the cognitive aspect, isn't all it's cracked up to be.

-that dep wine always tastes the same

-that I can survive more than I thought I could

-to cut myself, and other people some slack. because, really, we are all just works in progress-half formed sculptures that are malleable and will never be glazed or fired

-how to count music in 12/8 time

-that the human capacity for fucking up is great. as is our capacity to forgive and eventually, to laugh and be kind.

jeudi, mars 24, 2005

roller coaster days

Because I am aware of the horrible quicksand of self-pity/absorption, I am trying a new tactic in the face of academic hell and post-apocalyptic personal life.

Awareness. Of myself and my surroundings and the universe.

And remembrance. Of a few key paradigms.

(Ok. Stop laughing. Really, I know it all sounds horribly Californian and aroma-therapy and badly designed muumuu-ish. Let me explain. Then call all your friends and relatives and let them know that I can be found dressed in a caftan in the garden of a "wellness center"...)

I have six weeks left of serious university. Because of trying to finish in 3 years, I don't have the luxery of a soft last semester. I have six weeks to go. And more writing/reading/thinking in that time than the rest of my life combined. This isn't hard to achieve, I tend to spend most of my time in a vegetative state, tending solely to my immediate needs, leaving analytical brain activity to the overachievers.

Somehow the combination of extreme stress and lack of sleep and lots of coffee and not enough food have turned me into something resembling Janis Joplin coming off a six day binge, while concurrently nursing a brutal attack of PMS.

Add to that my self-chosen topics of study: Apartheid in South Africa, war crimes in Sierra Leone, landmines, the Rwandan Genocide.

I've been a little erratic lately. And by erratic, I mean bi-polar. The spikes and dips don't oscillate at all, they follow the same pattern of a heart monitor at warp speed.

And since I don't know how to stabilize, I am acting like a spectator on an out of control rollercoaster. A lot of the time I am scared and feel like barfing, but there are moments of calm when I can look at the scenery and wave to the people on the ground. Awareness, learning to keep myself company.

And, because Anne Lamott is my fairy godmother (although she doesn't know this yet)I am remembering these two things:

"Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back. You're done. It doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have lunch with the person."

"I live by the truth that "No" is a complete sentence."

lundi, mars 21, 2005


maybe I should rename this blog... something more along the lines of: "what you are reading is the sleep deprived ramblings of a caffiene addicted undergrad who desperately needs to simultaneously read/write pages and pages of political analysis and escape to a quiet place and rehabilitate."

rehabilitate: verb. to restore to normal life by training and therapy. from the latin restituere

Life, right now, is a little bit like being in the middle of a train wreak. only it's happening in slow motion. And I have no idea what point of the crash we are in: there is certainly carnage and blood everywhere and the twisted remnants of once recognizable structures, but there is no particular conclusion in sight. No approaching moment when the momentum is ground to a halt and there is profound silence-instead: a constantly increasing roaring that fills my eardrums.

I feel like one of the chilren in the photos from the Cold War, practicing nuclear bomb protocol by hiding under desks.

dimanche, mars 20, 2005

until you understand

it's hard to stay it's hard to look into your eyes when I say I'm leaving
I can't be sure but I think I made up my mind, although your heart is bleeding
I wish the only one I had to be was me for you to see this clearly
I wish the only thing I had to do was hold my arms around you
so long so hard until you'd understand.
so long so hard until you'd understand.

I somehow feel that I'm pulling away your ground before I've even started
to realize my words have caught you by suprise makes it even harder
I wish there was a way to make you read the signs I'm bringing you this evening
I wish the only thing I had to do was to hold my arms around you
so long so hard until you'd understand.
so long so hard until you'd understand.

~kings of convenience

samedi, mars 19, 2005


It must be something in the air this year. Relationships are doomed.

My friend Zak and his girlfriend Emma are the latest in a long string of casualties. Somehow their relationship fell apart, and though they still love each other very much, she is now half a continent away and out of mobile phone range. He is still here, trying to pick up the pieces of a life that was completely wrapped up in another person.

He called me up last night to ask if I wanted to go to a "yalla party". Yalla parties are difficult to describe without giving a comprehensive description of the certain breed of wealthy middle eastern young men who comprise the Yalla demographic. But suffice to say that I was certainly the only natural blonde in the room, and I'm willing to bet my inheritance that I was the only one who didn't own a cell phone. My role was arm candy and to make sure that Zak didn't start to cry in the middle of the sparsely furnished living room. I'm not sure exactly why he called me up, maybe because I am well acquainted with the culture of the Yalla, and I can play the game rather well if I am in the mood, maybe because I have an endless supply of stupid jokes that are just offensive enough to raise eyebrows, maybe because there is something about me that enables men to cry on my shoulder.

We took off from the party early, and ended up sitting in Zak's apartment staring out at the Montreal skyline trying to make sense of the world.

He loves her so much, and though she loves him too she'd had enough and took off. Although it breaks my heart to see Zak so much in the gutter, I have huge respect for Emma for knowing her limits and taking care of herself first. It is a skill that I am learning slowly, and only recently put into practice for the first time. I am finding it lonely and scary and wonderfuly spacious. I wonder how often we let our boundaries of "this is ok" get incrementally shifted simply because we are worried about the fallout of a break up.

And though it is devastating and horrible and just...sad, there is a kind of poignant beauty in watching someone rebuild themself. It's a visible display of courage that is rare, and it takes such grace to admit that current location is rock bottom and you're going to need some help to crawl up the well. And grace to accept the help and love and support that is offered.

jeudi, mars 17, 2005

kickin' it old skool

I rolled out of bed this morning at 945. The alarm had gone off at 815, and I managed to sleep through U2's greatist hits for an hour and a half before my body decided to regain consciousness. I have a class at 10. School is about 12 minutes- walking fast-away.

I am not going to whine about this, because the morning was brilliant.

I woke up happily suprised that I wasn't hungover, and given that Laura and I went through 2 bottles of wine last night, hangover absence is cause for both suprise and celebration. The 1 litre of water and an asprin before bed really does work. Thanks dad.

It's sunny today, and as I threw clothes on, brushed my teeth, printed a paper proposal that was due in my 10 am class, and drank yet more water, I quietly anticipated a sprint to school in blinding sunshine. Winter here (and it is still winter)is awful, but at least for me, sunshine makes a hell of a difference. Sunshine means I get to wear my cooler-than-thou sunglasses which allow me to stare at people without them thinking I have escaped from the psych ward.

Tearing down the sidewalk in my down vest and sunglasses I probably looked like some yuppie vancouverite in Whistler-all that was missing was my no-fat-double-latte-mocha-chino-thingy and my yoga mat.

No part of me cared. For I was in a different universe, one in which I had on my favourite sneakers for the first time in months and had the sweet songs of a mixed tape from Neasa blasting my eardrums.

Yes. I said mixed tape. No. We have not been transported to 1986 or the universe of High Fidelity.

I have been a fan of the mixed tape for as long as I can remember. Mixed tapes are a physical and audio reminder of specific points in time. They anchor me to moments and feelings I otherwise would have lost to the brain drain of time and information overload. (by brain drain I actually mean my brain liquifying and pouring out the back of my head... I swear this actually happens to graduating university students)

I made mixed tapes for friends and they made them for me. For about six months my friend John and I sent a tape back and forth each putting a song on and spending our allowance on postage. I have no idea what happened to it, probably in a box at his parent's house in Sherwood Park... The summer I worked in Sorrento, we made a "songs of the summer" tape for all the staff. It has everything from Black Sabbath to Ani Difranco to the Rolling Stones on it. Tapes were birthday gifts or given to boys that I loved. Two boys in particular broadened my musical horizons with the selections on their tapes, little packages that came in the mail and were instantly inserted into my walkman.

Yes. My walkman. It is yellow, a Sony sports model which means it is huge and clunky. I got it so that I could listen to tapes while I ran out my adolescant angst on the streets of my neighbourhood. I couldn't take being alone with my mind for the 40 minutes to an hour of running, so I distracted myself with Punk bands that I had never heard of, courtesy of Naomi: my much cooler friend who lived in Vancouver-a place with a real music scene.

I took tapes to Wales and ran with them along the clif path, and through Marcross, and away from farm dogs. And they were a tangible link to the West in Lebanon, when all I wanted to hear were some acoustic guitar chords and a mellow baritone.

This Christmas break, when people were selling their first born child for an ipod, I found and resurected my walkman and tapes. Since then I've been rocking it 1998 style around the city for as long as the batteries hold out.

So really, it's not the sunglasses that make me cooler than you. It's that, attached to the other end of my ear phones is an electronic device that is bigger than your cellphone, ipod, and blackberry combined. It's yellow. And I'm listening to the Watchmen belt out "Brighter Hell" or the Hip singing "Nautical Disaster"...

The bleary, slept in, walk to school has never been better.

lundi, mars 14, 2005

i don't know what I can save you from

you called me after midnight, must have been three years since we last spoke
I slowly tried to bring back the image of your face from memories so old
I tried so hard to follow but didn't catch the half of what had gone wrong
said I didn't know what I can save you from, I don't know what I can save you from

I asked you to come over and within half an hour you were at my door
I'd never really known you but I realized that the one you were before
had changed into somebody for whom I wouldn't mind to put the kettle on
said I don't know what I can save you from, I don't know what I can save you from

I don't know what I can save you from, I don't know what I can save you from...

-kings of convenience

vendredi, mars 11, 2005

dreaming of sleeping

The mother of all choral concerts is tomorrow night- that would be the other thing that gives me nightmares. I think every so often my subconscious decides that a stunning slideshow of images from the Rwandan genocide:

"they ranged from burying people alive in graves they had dug themselves, to cutting and opening wombs of pregnant mothers. People were quartered, impaled or roasted to death. On many occasions, death was the consequence of ablation of organs, such as the heart, from alive people." -Mamdani (2001)

is a little too much to take, and puts me naked, 800 pounds overweight, on stage in Pollak Hall in front of all my ex-boyfriends and makes me sing the alto line from the Brahms fuge over and over and over.

I wonder what it says about me that I prefer the genocide dreams.

Flippancy has always been my weapon of choice when dealing with things so serious and tragic and arbitrary. I do deeply understand and care about the issues and the facts. It's just that if I am serious all the time I end up crying in my kitchen at odd times.

Like tonight, when the cbc ran the coverage of the Mountie's memorial services in Edmonton.

mardi, mars 08, 2005

how to go insane; a step by step guide

1. enter university as a polisci/development major.

2. decide to finish above degree in 3 years rather than the 4 usually allocated.

3. put off highest level courses until final semester.

4. decided to write term papers/do projects on severely depressing subjects. (suggestions: sierra leone, apartheid, landmines, IDPs)

5. stop sleeping.

6. drink only coffee.

7. test the theory that nicotine really does have a calming effect.

8. volunteer to create powerpoint slides for a group presentation. (only do this if you have never worked with powerpoint before)

9. finish above slides 1/2 hour before presentation. do not save files to a CD. leave them on your laptop.

10. arrive at presentation exhausted, plug laptop into projector. watch as your laptop freezes.

11. reboot computer. curse loudly in front of your professor who is also your thesis advisor.

12. begin to sweat. heavily. reboot for third time. realize that only the curser is frozen, and that if you had thought to bring your mouse, you could fix your computer.

13. try to ignore the murmers from classmates who are waiting for the presentation to start.

14. run upstairs to the library to borrow a mouse.

15. run downstairs to classroom praying audibly.

16. restart computer w/ mouse plugged in. re-attach projector cable. start presentation an hour late.

17. return home. drink beer. read landmine books.

18. wake up in the middle of the night from a nightmare in which you were trying to hook up a laptop to a landmine detector...

jeudi, mars 03, 2005

the world is too much with me...

this is not a whine. Really. It's more of a lament.

I disagree with Neasa. It's not the bird flu that will kill us eventually, it is more along the lines of losing the thin thread of civilization that keeps us from behaving savagely. This conclusion is based on around 4 hours of research on (in no particular order) landmine victims, apartheid in South Africa, the civil war in Sierra Leone, the Lebanese civil war, and the plight of refugees and Internally Displaced People.

I've been staring at graphic images of man's inhumanity to man for so long that my eyeballs feel like they are about to bleed.

It is these times, in the middle of the night, when I should really be sleeping and not contemplating the state of the universe, that I am rolfed with waves of grief for things I have no part in and have no way of preventing or helping. The thing is, I haven't been sleeping well, so at this point I much prefer the horrors delivered to me via Google than the ones my subconscious can conjure up. At least then I know what I am battling.

I am losing my grip. But then, that's nothing new...