mercredi, décembre 20, 2006


The snow started Wednesday afternoon. A frere et soeur christmas shopping trip was aborted and instead we drove around in the frere's hatchback, pointing and laughing at all the people who were stuck/had driven into the ditch. Snowtires do not make one invincible, but they kick up the schadenfreude a level...

Good clean fun.

Then we came home and shoveled the driveway.

There is little that evokes home/canada/family for me as much as shoveling the driveway at night in the snow. Our street is quiet and has no street lights, so its usually the shoveler and the moon. Shovel scraping against the frozen ground and the bottom of my lungs tingling when I inadvertently inhale the wisps of my airborne shovel-full. Meditative work. Only, because it was me and le frere, we raced a little-the intricacies of sibling rivalry prohibit us from saying how much we'd missed each other so we compensate by trying to outdo the other in driveway shoveling prowess.

When it's cleared, we head inside. Flushed and with suddenly runny noses. The house is warmer, brighter, more cozy than when we started. And there are rewards...

lundi, décembre 11, 2006

the lead up

to home?

Thursday: Scott Polar Institute. Cafe in Cambridge in the rain. Acquiring more books-Christmas presents. Is it ok to read aforementioned christmas presents before one wraps them and hands them over? The Fox and Duck. Pints. Foot massage. Tea laced with calvados.

Friday-Escape from potentially ackward housemate situation via London. Camden. Fruitless search for cheap noodles. Posh British people at a fancy dress party. All of them named Ollie and Ellie and Georgie and Betts and Camilla. Fox stoles. Vodka and The Proletariate. The longest cab ride EVER.

Saturday-Hangover. Hungover posh brits making breakfast. Coffee in the best coffee house in central Londres. The largest independent book shop. Postsecret exhibiton. Sun in Trafalgar Square. Aimless wandering in Soho. Eating pizza outside at a cafe in December. Spending far too much money on a dress. Scottish women enabling said purchase. Roping a defenseless Swede into coming back to the farm. Wine.

Sunday-Sleeping in. Walking in the rain. Making lasagne for ravenous housemates. K's Choice for the first time in years. Finally sorting out work prioraties for January. Packing. Wine. That 70's Show. 3 Julians at one dinner table.

Monday-Putting the Swede back on the train to London. Weaving in the loose ends or just ignoring them. Cambridge for dinner. El Amin sausages and sweet potatos. Transatlantic calls and planning: haircut and dinner party on Friday, the Messiah on Saturday...

Tuesday-(tbc) Train to London. Tube to Heathrow. Mince Pies. Will my knitting needles make it on the plane? Calgary...(stay tuned...)

mardi, décembre 05, 2006

Learned today: Lemming Availability

"A snowy owl's preferred meal is lemmings—many lemmings. An adult may eat more than 1,600 lemmings a year, or three to five every day. Lemming availability may determine the extent of southern migration."

lundi, décembre 04, 2006

In which she rambles...

[this will probably not be well structured, thematic, or readable in any way. I was going to distract you, dear reader, with pictures. But the pics are not uploading for shit, and they'd be a cop-out anyways. Pictures may absolve my lack of blog content, but won't do a thing about my laziness concerning writing...]

November has slid by in a string of ever shorter gray days. My copy deadline for the magazine was Dec 1st, and most of the month was spent typing steadily toward the magical 1200 word mark. 1200 words is not that much, really, but 12oo well chosen words strung together in kicky, funny, hip sentences on topics that I have no prior interest in or understanding of, quickly turns into a strange nightmare of google searches and abuse of the MSWord thesaurus function.

But. It's all done, and I think that I did ok. It'll be posted online around Feb 1, and y'all can check it out then.

Highlights of November include ... The gala 25th anniversary party for my ngo. Chatting to the brother of one of the founders, only to figure out later that it was Yusuf Islam... formerly known as Cat Stevens. Yes. I managed to serve Cat Stevens food and wine, and chat to him about theatre and publishing in a completely normal manner-BECAUSE I HAD NO IDEA WHO HE WAS... I think it is best not to wonder how much of a blithering idiot I would have been had I clued in earlier.

Germany. Sent on my first ever 'real journalism' job, to cover a conference of young environmentalists. A whole hotel room to myself. A whole bathroom to myself. An invisible person who made my bed every day. Heavenly. The conference was good too. I met a bunch of very inspiring young people, and a bunch of journalists who taught me a lot about reporting. The conference was sponsored by a multi-national pharmaceutical company, so I got a first hand glimpse of how big, profit driven companies are tackling environmental degradation, and I've been mulling over what I think about that approach. As usual, I am sitting on the fence, but I want to think more about it over December and hopefully come to some kind of position I can defend.

Wales. 10 hours on the train=one pair of wrist warmers and finishing some leg warmers. Hiking up a 'mountain' in Snowdonia. Walking on a beach. Drinking beer and eating steak and kidney pie in a pub on the beach. James Bond. Cooking. Talking. Comfortable silence. Driving: complication-free mobility. A bit of a rest. No rain. Sun, even.

Yesterday. Nina and I discovered the best pub in the world. The Beehive. We were adopted. 3 hours. 5 pints. Sent on our way with blueberries 'To keep your strength up.' Apparently I am a dead ringer for Renee Zellweger, even though I hem my trousers with duct tape.

Back to the motherland in a week. Not exactly sure how I'll navigate the 'holiday season'. For the moment I'm wondering what to cook for dinner.

vendredi, novembre 17, 2006

how am I?

I was in London yesterday, talking to a friend who I last saw when I was in London in June before everything fell apart. We've been in touch throughout the summer and autumn-emails, phone calls- but when someone ask you face-to-face, how you are doing and really means it... well, that doesn't exist over phone lines or the ether.

She was waiting, her question hanging in the air between us, twirling like a wind chime. And I didn't know what to say. Shrugging and saying "I have no idea," summed it up pretty well, and she's a good enough friend to understand both the weight and and ephemeralness.

The truth is that I don't really want to discuss, on a deep level, how I am doing. People who have grieved understand the fear that, if I lift the rug to see what's fermenting underneath, I will be swept away-back five months to being a zombie with no memory.

Come to think of it, I am still a zombie with no memory. Only I've kind of mastered the art of 'pulling it together' and so, like the classic little-type-A that I am, I seem to be doing fine. F.I.N.E.

A wise woman, whose words I read regularly had this to say yesterday:

As an adult I often feel like I have put my feelings away quickly, that I haven't got a right to love or hate or grieve or celebrate for as long as I feel each of those things. That my emotions are somehow not polite to have, particularly when they relate to other people, or when, upon occasion, they show as sloppy as a slip hem trailing or a run in my stocking. My adult life is littered with emotional fallout from trying to make important things small and falsely insignificant, from trying to be a grown up who gets on with it, over it, lets it go because that's what maturity does.

I don't think it is. And I want to know where and how I lost the freedom to feel whatever I feel as long and as exactly as I feel it. Why do I, why do so many of us, think that there is no point to uncomfortable emotion if the root cause is beyond our influencing?

mercredi, novembre 01, 2006

Dirty Laundry...

...should be washed at home. (sorry mum, this might make you cry) But despite our herculean protestant efforts, the family dirty laundry is about to be washed very publicly.

An eviction is never pleasant. And when the evictor and evictee are family, no matter how estranged, a peculiar kind of horror descends upon the proceedings.

Today, after three months of warnings, negotiations and court proceedings, the bailiffs and locksmith arrive.

The awfulness of the eviction is bearable only because the alternative is worse. There is a kind of freedom in slicing the threads that attach us to each other. Though, in this case, the threads are more like fraying twine, and the slicing closer to sawing with a butter knife. And I don't know what colour this freedom is. The velvety close-to-black green of a hillside of pine trees? Gut wrenching scarlet?

I am grieving for two little boys with blonde crew-cuts and seersucker shorts, digging in the Departure Bay sand. The one who dug the frere and me Gabriola sandcastles at low tide- who is gone. And the one who is tall and gaunt and who is getting cut off today. Set adrift for perhaps the first time in his life.

samedi, octobre 28, 2006

How to annoy me

Invite people over for pizza and beer and when we hand over money for the pizza delivery, ask for more money to cover the bottle of wine that was drunk. Especially since we brought beer. And you offered us the wine. Bitch.

mardi, octobre 24, 2006

vendredi, octobre 20, 2006


Tallis' motets for four voices are swirling through my ears and filling up my empty spaces. The music, rich and full, curls around itself. The voices take the lead and tonic in turns, as though they are flock of birds whirling and turning through the sky.

The memory of this evening's run is still coursing through my muscles and, though a totally different kind of salvation to Tallis, without it I could not sit here on an alien island and be able to relax into familiarity of music.

I've been running since I got here, sometimes alone, sometimes with others. Most of the time it is a battle. To put one foot in front of the other and continue to do so for 45 minutes at speed. I come back sweaty and irritated and still stressed out.

Tonight Julien and I set out in the darkness that is a seven o'clock October evening. We hadn't run together before and at first settling into a rhythm was tricky. At some point around the 20 minute mark everything clicked into place and we began to fly. One of us would drive the pace for a while and then, without thinking, we'd switch-feet slapping the pavement and breathing raggedly. Closer to the house we sped up in increments. An unspeaking agreement to push ourselves as far as we could.

We ran along the back lane by the creek, strides lengthening with every step. We were shadows racing the wind, oblivious to the other save the sound of our footfalls.

At some point in the middle of burning hamstrings and lungs and blurred vision, I felt the fogginess lift. Sharp focus and clarity gouged my grown-soft self.

The feeling lasted until I stopped running, doubled over, gasping. Now, three hours later, with Tallis rather than a drubbing pulse in my inner ear, I can just grasp the fluttering edge of what I was running toward.

Angus dei, qui tolis pecata mundi. Misere nobis. Dona nobis pacem. Sanctus, sanctus. Benedictus.

dimanche, octobre 08, 2006

mercredi, octobre 04, 2006

the two best sentences

that are making me laugh and cry at the same time:

"I want you sitting next to me in class so that we can stare at the boy eye candy before one of us reminds the other that they're all probably six years younger than us, making us dirty old ladies, already, at 24. "

"Anyway if I sincerely believed in things like empathic warm thoughts fleeting over the mountains, prairies, lakes and atlantic ocean, I'd tell you I was sending some such thoughts to comfort you, or prayers I suppose is what those are, but you'll have to be satisfied just knowing that I am thinking about you for what that's worth and wishing I could act somehow as some sort of anodyne to please you or turn the corners of your mouth upward or make you feel good about who you are and how you've existed in my life."

Yet again, I am inarticulate trying to explain how a series of black letters on a white screen wring my heart. Thanks.

Fragile lately. The coping floats like the thin skin that forms on the surface when someone boils a kettle of hot chocolate and doesn't stir it. The world is too much with me, it buffets me along and, because I am too tired to resist, I am propelled forward.

samedi, septembre 30, 2006

Interesting things seen on a walk in the English Countryside this morning:

A rabbit hopping through a hedge.

Two pheasants.

A fox running across a field, chased by a murder of crows.

Teeny tiny transparent mushrooms. They had a long thin stalk and circular flat tops that were accordion-pleated.

Many slugs.

Some snails.

A hare, which loped toward us and then hid in a grass knoll until we were close enough for it to figure out what we were. Then it bounded off across the pasture and up over the hill.

Six llamas. Not roaming.

An old abandoned church and its overgrown graveyard.

Two thatched cottages. One called Grange Cottage, and the other called Pig's Nose. Pig's Nose has topiary rabbits hopping out of the top of its hedges.

A farmer feeding his cows.

Three gates that needed to be climbed over. Well, actually, two gates but we hopped one twice.

A scare-crow made of a mannequin dressed in a ball gown and a denim shirt.

One hardy daisy.

Quite a bit of mud.

lundi, septembre 25, 2006

steaming piles

The blog writing muse has been absent lately. Perhaps because I spend most of my days reading stuff and writing stuff, I am written out.

My job description at the moment is one word: writer. I send emails on a semi-regular basis to a fair amount of people, so even though I am crap at keeping in touch, I have a high gross level of correspondence. I over use the postal service sending letters and postcards. I keep a pen-and-paper journal that I write in almost every day. Periodically, I blog.

I don't consider myself a writer. If pressed, I grudgingly acknowledge that I am "a person who writes", in much the same way I used to say when I worked in restaurants that I wasn't a cook, I was a salad architect.

I am not exactly sure why I duck away from the mantle of writer.

For one thing, I don't think I am particularly brilliant at wrestling the english language into sentences and prose. I am a verbal person; mentally I am at my best when in the middle of a conversation with smart, quick, interesting people. I love the energy of good conversation at a dinner party. The idea of sitting alone in front of a cataract-inducing computer screen gives me cramps.

Including myself in the pantheon of writers seems to do them a bit of a disservice- diluting the genius, so to speak.

Also, my mother is the writer of the family. Delayed teenage rebellion dictates that I must run away from family occupations even if, secretly, I covet them.

However, since I am locked into being a writer for a year at least, I had better amputate the irritatingly self-absorbed angst and just get on with it. Practice. Writing. Bite the bullet and churn out the shitty first drafts. Torment the blog readers (do you really exist?) with aforementioned shitty first drafts and half baked ideas.

Since this particular forum has no special theme, randomness is endemic.

I am encouraged though. An email that recently landed in my inbox concluded thusly:

"I always get email-envy when I read your lines as they are so well crafted, unlike my steaming pile of email poo."

Email poo. Random self-absorption could get a lot worse.

mercredi, septembre 20, 2006

mercredi, septembre 13, 2006

Not Boring

Last night, after a day of dealing with incompetence, Cooper, the graphic designer and one of the housemates, and I sat in his room and drank beer and talked and talked.

Evidence that the universe has a sick and twisted and tender sense of humour: Coop's father died this summer too. A consequence of a motorcycle accident.

The two of us are like the survivors of a bomb blast. The ones who stagger from the wreckage apparently unharmed and head off down the street. The ones with wide empty eyes and shaking hands.

Most of the time we function passably. Some days we crash. Other days, like yesterday, it is a slow descent into awfulness: the way a leaf skates across the breezes before gently landing on the pavement.

We are our own therapy group. We drink and talk and smoke and talk. We compare weird relative experiences at the funerals or the most insensitive things people have said to us. We ask each other if we are crazy, or try to decide if we are crazy in the same sorts of ways. Because if we are the same kind of crazy, then maybe it is normal and will pass. We decide we are assholes for being far away from our families. We decide that we would be insane if we were at home. We laugh like maniacs.

For an hour or two we gently salve our wounds and we relax.

The best part of yesterday was when we were talking about how fucking emotionally erratic we are. Apparently, one of the ways that grieving manifests itself is by shortening my temper. Also I have zero patience. (Stop laughing. I had patience before, I just chose to override it.)

"Well," said Coop, "You know, the thing about this is... It's never boring."

jeudi, septembre 07, 2006

My editor looks like...

Jack Nicholson.

Circa: The Shining

mardi, septembre 05, 2006


So yes. I am in England again. Buntingford, to be specific.

So far the weather has been damp and gray.
The beer has been good.
Lots of tea has been consumed.

On the list: Fish and Chips. Punting on the Cam. Gin and Tonics or Pimms and Lemonade.

Trying to avoid: Mushy peas. Salad cream. Rude children.

I am here working for a magazine, but I don't meet my editor until Thursday, so work-wise it's been mellow. Rest-of-life-wise it's been a whirl of travelling meeting people, unpacking, pretending to be sane.

I miss Canada like hell. Still not sure if this was my best plan.

"homesick, 'cause I no longer know where home is."

mardi, août 22, 2006

Mr Norton

My dad's first motorcycle was a 1969 Norton Commando He bought it when he was 23 and before he knew how to actually ride a motorcycle. He rode it up and down the ally behind British Motorcycles in Vancouver for about a month before he knew enough to ride it home.

When my mum met my father, the Norton was his only means of transportation.

The Norton was my dad's entry point to the world of (now) vintage British motorcycles. His next purchase was a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow which drew him into the community of Vincent owners in the lower mainland. A motley crew of men-Danny the tool and die maker, Tim the maritime lawyer, John and Dale the mechanics. And my dad: Gerry the hospital administrator. They met periodically to drink beer and monkeywrench. 35 years later, they still do. The best house was Jack's. Jack had named his eldest son Vincent and kept his bike on a piece of greasy carpet in the living room of his house.

My father's affinity for motorcycles gently shaped our lives.

My mum got her bike license and her own little Honda twinstar. When we moved away from the coast, my dad reluctantly sold the Norton, but kept the Vincent, mum's Honda and his own Moto Guzzi. I was about 14 before I knew that there was another way to start a motorcycle than kickstarting it. We took family holidays on the bike. I remember being wedged into the sidecar and the fierce rush of wind past my ears. We traveled to rallies: Calgary, California, New Zealand, England.

This spring my dad bought another Norton. A 1973 Commando. It is pristine, the only concession to the march of time is its electric start. I spoke to my dad the weekend after he brought the bike home, he was giddy and excited like a ten year old boy. He had ridden it around the block a few times and was planning to insure it when he came back from the California trip in June.

The bike is in the workshop in our basement. It's a room that I can hardly bear to go into.

Last week I was downtown with my friend Rhys. It was a bad day, one of the days when I want to eat sleeping pills like candy and have trouble finding the energy to brush my teeth. We came out of the cafe, and prepared to sit at one of the sidewalk tables. Rhys glanced past my shoulder, and the words, "Hey, that's a Norton" flew out of his mouth.

I turned around disbelievingly. That Rhys could correctly identify a Norton-I failed to remember that Norton is written on the tank and that Rhys is literate-and that there was actually a Norton a few feet behind me seemed far too much of a stretch in reality.

But there it was. A 1974 Commando. A year younger than the one in our basement. Like a moth to flame, I was standing beside the bike before I realized what I was doing. A lanky guy, a few years older than me, with red hair in need of a trim and the beginnings of a beard looked at me quizzically. I hadn't noticed him. This was his motorcycle.

Awkwardly, I asked about the specs of the bike and then blurted out, "My dad has one." Flushing scarlet, I realized that I had made a tactical error: he would ask who my dad was, I would have to explain that actually he died a month ago, and if possible the conversation would get more hellishly awkward. I apologized for bothering him and sprinted the 8 meters to the cafe table.

As we drank our coffee, the Norton guy put on his jacket and helmet. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched him roll the bike off its center stand and balance it for a second, gauging the weight of the machine. Grasping the handlebars, he deftly flicked out the kick starter and jumped to kick it over. Nothing. He tried again. Some faint coughs from the Norton.

I cannot count how many times I have watched the same scene with a different cast and sets. I felt my heart being squeezed in a vice grip. I would lose it if I kept watching. I would lose it if I looked away.

It started on the ninth attempt. I counted.

The Norton guy opened the throttle and gently pushed his feet away from the pavement. He pulled out into traffic, looked over his shoulder at me and gave a small wave.

I closed my eyes and felt my self explode into a thousand tiny fragments.

vendredi, août 18, 2006

fame becomes me

So my brother is by far the cooler of the two of us. He's the guy with the hook-ups, the one who knows 2/3 of the interesting people in this city (while I know just 2) and the one who has the style.

Most of the time when we hang out, when we are both at the ancestral home in chach-ville, I am just along for the ride. I sit in the background, watching the entertainment, and occasionally catching Tim's eye when something funny needs shared appreciation.

A few weeks ago he came up with free tickets and backstage passes to the upcoming Hot Hot Heat concert. Something about a girl he works with being the girlfriend of the brother of the lead singer of the opening band.

I have barely heard of Hot Hot Heat, and never of the opening band but it seemed like a good way to spend a Tuesday night.

The audience at the show was mostly tanned girls between the ages of 15 and 20 in tiny tanktops and "indie boys" in tapered jeans, white teeshirts and too much hair product. There was no bar.

After the show (which was quite good, though the music was not so much to my taste) we toodled backstage with Alexandra, girlfriend of brother of guy... and met the bands. And the girls.

There were a number of girls just hanging around. We weren't sure if they came with the bands or were plucked from the audience, but the number of tiny tank-tops fluttering around the band members makes me suspect the latter.

A plan was formulated. We would head to a bar downtown and wait for the bands to finish packing up their stuff.

By the time the bands arrived at the bar, it was past last call (because in this city, last call on a Tuesday in the summer comes at 11:45) and the only place to get alcohol was at the strip bars.

Heading off to the strippers with my younger brother, his friends, and some marginally famous rock bands didn't weird me out as much as you may think it would. The early closing of bars in this town means that the bro and I have found ourselves with friends at the rippers rather more times than I like to admit.

The bar is fairly typical. Beer and dancing naked ladies. The lead singer of HHH is blatantly making out with a girl who I previously saw flirting with the bassist of the opening band, and later the drummer of HHH. The principle of upward mobility is rarely so easily observed.

Everyone was pretty loaded.

Suddenly, the song changes from random 50Cent to the most famous song by The Killers. The one that goes "...somebody told you... looks like my girlfriend... last summer..." Anyways.

The HHH singer surfaces at the opening chords of the song.

"Hey, this is the Killers," he comments to nobody in particular. "We toured with them last year."

Whipping out his mobile phone, HHH singer proceeds to text message the lead singer of the Killers.


You know you've made it when...

samedi, août 12, 2006

Random Saturday

I was on Vancouver Island at my grandfather's house for a week and a half, planning, executing and recovering from an onslaught of relatives and the funeral itself. That the internet chez grand pere closely resembles two coffee cans and a piece of twine made anything more than checking emails a seventeen hour enterprise only to be undertaken whilst fortified with copious amounts of gin.

Nan died after a prolonged illness at the age of 82. She had been living in a nursing home for four years prior to her death. Still, it was strange to see the uncles standing around in the kitchen, leaning on the edges of countertops. Had Nan been there, they'd have been shooed out into the already packed living room to make room for the plates and plates of food coming out of the oven, going into the oven...

I'm home now. Well, back at my parents' house. (I cannot yet refer to it as my mum's much of it is my dad's.) There so much to do: little jobs like keeping up with dishes and laundry, and big jobs like thinning the trees around the house, selling the 55 Ford sitting in the driveway, and deciding how to proceed with probating the will. On top of the actual energy required to accomplish these tasks, the real kicker is the energy required to think about them and decide how to proceed.

I keep almost saying, "We should wait until Dad gets back..." So far I have managed to check my motormouth before it rolls off my tongue.

To add to the general state of confusion and chaos, I am leaving for England in three weeks. In the week following my dad's death, I was offered a position as researcher and writer with a magazine published by the UNEP. It is exactly the job I have longed for. And it is in Cambridge. Which is Very far away from my mum and brother. Sometimes things balance out in strange ways. Lately, everything does.

On the one hand, it is a really phenomenal opportunity that will open far more doors, career-wise, than I can even imagine. A job like this does not exist in the city I grew up in and where my mum currently lives. If I stayed here, I would be waitressing or tutoring, living at home, and mostly marking time until we were all "ok enough" for me to take off again. I have two friends here, and it would be all too easy to become (more of) an anti-social depressed recluse.

On the other hand, I haven't worked in an academic environment for at least a year. My research skills are terrible at best, and I have serious doubts about my abilities as a writer. I don't want to leave my mum and brother. I don't want to stretch myself and have adventures. I don't know if I can pull off being a functioning member of society, let alone holding down a job.

I think I am selfish for running away. I think I will regress into a neo-conservative evangelical with permed hair who wears oversized teeshirts printed with cats and who works the checkout at Saveonfoods if I stay.

Finally, in happier news... I finished the legwarmers. The pattern seems to be designed for people with pipe-cleaner legs, and I have, in my grand father's words, "shapely pins." Some aggressive blocking may help matters. They are black and green, and as soon as my camera gets fixed I may torment all of you with photos.

One of the benefits of going to the Island, was an excuse to take an afternoon to wallow in the Yarn Porn Store. A small fiber shop so stuffed with amazing yarn that hard core knitters have been known to pass out from sheer ecstasy. I can't remember exactly how it all went down, but I have a hazy recollection of diving head first into a pile of Noro, of my normally very pragmatic mother shoving six skiens of fuschia Manos Del Uruguay down my shirt, and something about hand-dyed sock yarn. Also, and this part is crystal clear, I remember the staff lady's lilting voice telling me that all knitting yarn was 20% off.

The rest, as I am sure you have guessed, was history.

vendredi, juillet 28, 2006

Into the Maelstrom

[my grandmother died this morning.]

In an email a friend mentioned striving to become an "emotional jedi", and, though my Star Wars theory is weak at best, I assume he was alluding to one's ability to slide through the wreckage of daily life without losing a sense of purpose and the all important zen.

I am not sliding right now. Sliding implies the pull of gravity and the potential for loss of control. I glide. Like an astronaut looking out the shuttle window and gently drifting head first into the sink. I think there never was any control, therefore the loss of it is a non-event.

I glide through my days the way I used to effortlessly consume
choose your own adventure stories: read for a while, come to the page where I had to choose to one of two or three options, choose one arbitrarily, continue, come to the end of the story, read another. My day to day choices seem unimportant; I will feel exactly the same if I go out for beer with a friend as if I lay on the couch and watched reality television programs. Zero emotional range.

Emotional Jedi. Teflon girl. Ice princess.

Everything is gray, and not in the nuanced, between-black-and-white sort of way. Gray in the whispery-November-stalks-of-shasta-daisies way.

But shasta daisies are perennials. And below the gray something simmers. Nothing else explains my fascination with Grey's Anatomy, the hospital drama that I've been watching on DVD. I am pretty sure that my mum and brother think I am deranged: having spent the better part of a month in the ICU of various hospitals, and having watched my father die in one, we were part of that drama, albeit with worse lighting. I think I watch to make sure that parts of me still hurt. To make sure that I haven't lost myself completely. To remind myself that it wasn't all a dream. Twisting the knives so I can bleed again.

I wonder: how long will this numbness last?
How bad will it be when I start to feel again?

jeudi, juillet 20, 2006


I flew back home a month ago today. Looking back, it seems like years since I left the south of France, and the blink of a hummingbird's eye since life was "normal". The absence of my father continually surprises me, blindsides me while I set the table for four.

Thinking is the worst. Not constructive list-of-things-to-do-today thinking, but the idle musing that happens while one is doing something else. I stay awake watching banal television until I am so exhausted that I fall asleep immediately. The before sleeping time terrifies me.

To fill my mind I have started knitting again. Because knitting falls into the category of things I can do and think about other things at the same time, I have chosen a complicated fair isle pattern knitted in the round. Should keep my mind occupied for a few hours a day at least.

mardi, juillet 18, 2006

jeudi, juillet 13, 2006

dimanche, juillet 02, 2006

and to dust you will return

Again, it is early and the house is quiet.

My dad died on Monday, six days ago.

It has been a tiring and busy week-the service and wake are today- and I have been on "Type A Personality Autopilot" for most of the time. That looks like me at my most efficient but with the air of zombie and no short term memory.

There is so much I could write about that has been funny or uplifting, but right now I can't.

It's going to be a long day today.

samedi, juin 24, 2006

48 hours

It is 5 am and I am wide awake (thank you 9 hour time difference jet lag). The sun is peeking over the mountains across the lake, and in a few minutes the whole valley will be awash in golden light.

Joan Didion wrote, after the sudden death of her husband, "Life changes in the instant," and for my family, our lives have changed in a series of instants: The instant of the accident, of the heart attack, of the decision to move my dad back to the hospital in our city, of hearing the neurologist carefully form the words "severe brain damage...discouraging progress," of hearing the surgeon rationalize amputating my dad's right leg, of nodding in agreement.

The 56 hours that I have been home have been the most horrific and agonizing of my life. I have been told that I am 'doing well' and 'holding it together,' but nobody has told me the criteria for achieving these two status'. We are all doing the best we can under extremely terrible circumstances. Most of the time when I am talking to doctors, nurses, concerned friends of the family, my voice is steady and I can even be humorous-albeit rather blackly humorous. And then I turn around and I just feel hollow, as though the contents of my body cavity were sucked out, or I rock back and forth like an autistic child as though by rocking I can control my desire to sob until my ribs split apart. I never imagined that I could feel this terrible and still keep breathing.

vendredi, juin 23, 2006


Two weeks ago, my dad was broadsided by a jeep as he was motorcycling in Northern California. His injuries are extremely severe ranging from compound leg fractures to heart attack and anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain).

My mum, brother and I are walking around like zombies and trying to remember to breathe.

Please pray for us.

There are no words for this existance.

mercredi, mai 31, 2006

South Georgia

The edge of a glacier. We stayed here all morning wating for it to calve. It didn't, but the hours in the stillness were the better for it.

King Penguin and chick at Right Whale Bay.


I'm in Liverpool right now.

Truth be told, it seems to be a nice place. Highlights include: a sumptuous pub, the maritime museum's smuggling exhibit, yet another Tate gallery, interestingly unintelligible accents.

I am here because my first love lives here now. And in the six years since we were 17 and the orchestra played in the bushes as we walked around, we've become friends. It was one of those round about processes, and I am glad we have arrived where we have. He's great.

Before here was London. Three days of shite weather but glorious catching up with one of the Montreal girlies.

Because both of my friends have entered the real world and have jobs which require regular attendance, I have had a lot of time alone in the last week.

Still re-adjusting to crowded landscapes and many, many people, I've been walking around a lot. Staring at the little bits of ordinary lives that spill out from four walls of home and into the streets. Snippits of conversations. Clothing choices. Destinations.

As though the world around me is an ephemeral mirage, I observe my surroundings with placid detachment. Minimal engagement. I'm not sure where the cognitive, passionate, opinionated, me is, but it's certainly not here.

mercredi, mai 24, 2006

More January.

Zavodovski Island: the northern most island in the South Sandwich chain. It belches sulphurous gasses and steams. And has about 800,000 pairs of chinstrap penguins living on it.

They also hang out on icebergs.

(the horror of digital cameras is that I now have 700 pictures of penguins on icebergs...)

January 22/06

Visokoi Island.

lundi, mai 15, 2006

the 5 month hiatus

is over, and I am back where the internet doesn't cost 13pence/minute (that's 30 cents) and isn't attached to a phone line.

haven't really decided what to do with this blog. There is too much to say about the South, and so many pictures.

And Europe is calling, and I will be there soon.

More adventures.

dimanche, janvier 01, 2006

So here's the deal...

For the seven of you that actually read this...

On Thursday, 4 days from now, I am leaving Canada and heading to the Falkland Islands. Those would be the ones just east of the bottom of Argentina. They are pretty far away from everything I am familiar with, although I have it on reliable authority that they import a hell of a lot of good beer, and the prospect of actually being there in a week is scary and exciting and enormous.

I will be working on a small yacht called The Golden Fleece which will be heading to the South Sandwich Islands (just get the damn atlas out already)for a five week trip chartered by National Geographic. After that-provided I haven't died of seasickness-a trip to the island of South Georgia (I wasn't kidding about the atlas) for another five weeks.

The plans following ten weeks of sailing are a bit up in the air, they depend on sailing work and weather and my sanity, but I am planning to be in the UK and France by early May.

I haven't taken leave of my senses, nor am I going into this blindly. I am as aware of the risks and challenges as I can possibly be, short of actually experiencing them- and I will be doing that soon enough. I am well aware that this is not perhaps the most career forwarding plan I could have taken, and that it is dangerous. But I am only 23, the grad school and work plans have been shelved, not dropped. And I survived a year in the Middle East where people kept blowing stuff up- elephant seals, while a nuisance sometimes, have not yet shown a predilection for suicide bombings.

I know that my choice of location/occupation for the next few months is not mainstream, but instead of asking me if I am out of my mind, how about smiling and saying, "That's amazing, what an adventure".

Being that I am neurotic enough for everyone I know, let's not focus on the negative, just wish me luck.

And if you want a damn post card, you better send me your address.