Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Painting the Town Red

What a huge freaking load off! Bless you, Canada.

(Now playing: "National Hum", The Constantines)

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Questions and Answers

Tonight, my summer roommate Alex and I bonded over asian cuisine, broken hearts and a buried friend. I always knew we had potential.

We have an assignment in Computer-Assisted Reporting class where we have to interview a classmate via email, and they interview us right back. I just replied to Gaelle's 10 questions, and it was so stream-of-consciousness and uncensored that I feel compelled to copy and paste it here. (Warning: it's long.)

> 1. What are the differences between the place you were born and the
> city you live in now?

Scarborough is your typical suburban hell, with cookie-cutter
bungalows, strip malls, power fields, donut shops and countless
violent crimes and teen pregnancies because there's nothing else for
the youth to do. Montreal, on the other hand, is this beautiful,
diverse, bohemian utopia. Montrealers strike me as being very
passionate people. Not to get all new-agey on you, but this city exudes a very strong energy, and I feel like I could feed on it for the rest of my life. Maybe I'm still in a honeymoon period, butI like it here. Very much.

> 2. What are all the reasons that you choose to live in Montreal,
> whether they are for Montreal or against elsewhere?

I knew that I wanted to study journalism in a major urban centre, but
I wanted to steer clear of Toronto for two reasons:

a) My parents live there (Scarborough is technically part of the
Greater Toronto Area) and although we usually get along fine, they
drive me a bit crazy after a while. Rent in T dot is so high that it
would make no sense at all for me to move out on my own and
b) My four years spent in Kingston doing my undergrad were the four
best years of my life. I fell in love with that city, and I wanted to
opportunity to start fresh and fall in love with another one.

Having visited Montreal a few times, I knew it was a place that I
would enjoy living. Plus, I have a couple of good friends from my
undergrad who now attend McGill, so I knew that I would have a smooth
transition because they'd be around come September. I love the thought
of a fresh start, but going to a strange city full of strangers would
be scary. It's nice to have that social safety buffer.

> 3. What do you spend most of your time doing?

I spent most of my time sleeping. That is followed closely by reading,
writing and daydreaming.

> 4. How does it relate to your sense of belonging on this big, crowded
> planet?

How does question 3 relate, you mean? Okay. Well, most people need
sleep. And reading is the best method for humans to communicate ideas
with other humans - fuck the internet. And I garner a bit of a sense
of self-worth whenever I write something. At the risk of sounding
pompous, I feel like I'm giving something back to the world. Just a
little piece of myself. It's validating. Once something is in the
public domain, you never know how many people will come into contact
with it. I mean, it never ceases to amaze me that.....okay, I'm going
off on a bit of a tangent here, but this morning I was singing this
Aimee Mann song to myself. "You Could Make a Killing" or something
like that. It's really beautiful. It was vaguely popular two or three
years ago. (I think it appeared on the soundtrack to that movie
"Magnolia".) Now mostly forgotten by the masses. But it just suddenly
APPEARED in my head, and I wonder if Ms. Mann or really any musician
or artist or writer or poet realizes that their stuff is OUT there,
that people are still being affected/moved by it years and years later.
Even after they think it's been forgotten by everyone but themselves.
I find that really incredible. I hope I write something worthy of
being remembered by someone, somewhere, sometime in the future. Not
necessarily 500 years from now. I know nothing I write will resonate
like that. But...maybe some boy in the year 2023 will find some poem
or short story or article I wrote in a book or somewhere on the
internet and maybe he will think, "Neat."

> 5. What are the elements of your life that make you feel most free?

Writing is the most freeing thing I can imagine. I also like playing on swings.

> 6. What are the elements of your life that make you feel most comitted?

I'm not sure I understand this question, but I'll try. I feel very
committed to myself. Let me explain. My grandparents, all four of
them, had pretty shitty lives. They lived through poverty and World
War II and subsequent civil war and worked really hard and
managed to come to Canada to make a life for themselves and for their
children. And, subsequently, for their children's children. Being me.
They suffered so much, just so I could have things handed to me on a
platter. I have literally been denied nothing. I've realized that
living the best life I can live, and making the most of the
opportunities I have is the best way to repay my grandparents for the
enormous sacrifices they made for us. So I'm committed to making a
good, meaningful life for myself and being proud of the decisions I make.

> 7. Tell me the childhood anecdote you least like being the subject of,
> whether it's your mum, or a friend who likes telling it.

Oh man. Gaelle, you absolute bitch! Okay. Fine. My mom is very fond
of telling this embarrassing anecdote of me as a kid. We were having
dinner one night, and were eating chicken drumsticks or something. And
I asked my parents, "How do they grow the bones inside of chicken?" I
had no idea I was eating an animal. So they explained to me what we
were eating. And then I said my somewhat-famous line, "You mean THIS
chicken...is THAT chicken??" and I pointed to our budgie. My parents
find this traumatizing event in my life really really funny. I didn't
eat chicken for years afterwards. Which is funny, because chicken is
really the only meat I eat now.

> 8. Why do you choose to inhabit your home (whether it's a messy little
> appartment just for you or a spic and span mansion with a hundred
> roommates) the way that you do?

I find comfort in messes. I also like my living space to reflect my
personality. I'm currently subletting a room from my friend, so it's
all her stuff and all of her artwork, so I'm feeling vaguely
transient. I can't wait for September so I can put up band posters and
postcards of trashy pulp novel covers and say "This is MY space."

> 9. What is the nightmare that pisses you off most?

When I was a kid - like maybe 5 or 6 - I had this recurring nightmare
where I'm sitting on my mom's shoulders. And we're running through the
playground of my elementary school and we're both laughing and
laughing. And suddenly she hands me off to this witch (literally, a
witch. Green face, pointy hat, the works.) and I'm suddenly riding on
HER shoulders, and the witch is cackling. And my mom is still
laughing, and running in the opposite direction. And I start to cry
and jump off the witch and run towards my mom. I finally catch her,
but the second I get back on my mom's shoulders, she turns into the
witch and I can see my mom running away again. I would always wake up
crying. It pissed me off because I couldn't believe my mom would do
that to me. Even though it wasn't real, I remember being mad at her in
real life. I can't remember ever telling her about the nightmare,
though. Holy childhood abandonment issues, Batman!

> 10. What in the world makes you feel most tired, other than a lack of
> sleep?

Making new friends. It's exhausting.

Okay, I'm not going to read this over because I'm pretty sure I'll
censor myself or get really embarrassed and re-write it. And...SEND!

(Now playing: "You Could Make a Killing", Aimee Mann)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Politics, As Usual

If you are a pacifist, an environmentalist, a student, a teacher, a hospital worker. If you are poor or know someone who is. If you believe that we should be able to choose our life partner without judgement, without obstacle. If doing away with our "unnecessary" gun registry sends a chill down your spine. If you realize that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the backbone of our country. If you are against Harper and the Conservatives like I am, please take a moment and sign this petition.

ADDENDUM: Robin's housemate made this video. It's my new favourite thing.

(Now playing: "Death to Death", Stars)

Monday, June 21, 2004

Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)

Thanks to Daphna for visiting this past weekend. (I promise I'll be more fun next time.)

Last night I went to the Green Room (yes, there's one in Montreal too) to see the band of a guy in our journalism class. Whoever booked the bands must not have heard them play before, as The Abjects were preceeded by a particularly unfortunate girl trio and a Christian folk duo. Not so seamless.

The reason I am mentioning this night is because there were these DJs there who were all shaggy-haired and dandy (in a Gaven Dianda-esque endearing way) who played the best music. Some highlights that I can remember:

The First of the Gang to Die - Morrissey
Substitute - The Who
Making Time - Creation
You've Really Got Me - The Kinks
I'm Cheating on You - Franz Ferdinand
Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile) - Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel (which has been in my head for MONTHS, but I never knew who sang it. It's a great drinking song. Please download it immediately.)

Does this playlist sound familiar to anyone who was a regular at the Toucan on Friday nights last year? Right. These shaggy-haired dandies were essentially my male DJ equivalents. It made me very very happy. I ran up to them like three times to declare how much I loved whichever song they were playing at the time, and did little grateful bows to them every now and again. I was even thinking of proposing marriage.

(My, how the turntables have turned.)

I think my dear Matt's theory on DJs getting lust and panties hurled at them is entirely correct. His thinking is that the DJ is the physical embodiment of some drunk chick/dude's favourite song. And the listener wants to be a part of that somehow. Consequently, they attempt to lay the blessed DJ.

In conclusion, DJing was the best job ever.

And speaking of coming up and seeing me, I have decided to make a conscious effort to be more like Mae West in every way. I'll let you know how that goes.

(Now playing: "Come Up and See Me (Make Me Smile)", Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel)

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Don't Get Down

First twinges of homesickness struck a few days ago. Not homesickness like "Man oh man, do I ever miss Scarborough and never having fun!" Just this sense of displacement and palpable loneliness. I'm feeling better now that I've been in the company of familiar people, but it was a brutal feeling for a while there. I'm realizing that I am not one of those people who are perfectly content to live alone. (I'm talking to myself a LOT, and it's scaring me.)

I spent Thursday night with Sherwin. I don't know Sherwin very well, but he is well on his way to becoming one of my favourite people here. He's like this...whirlwind. And he likes Belle & Sebastian. We ate dinner at Parfum D'Asie and proceeded to Cabaret to get uncomfortably warm and take in Feist.

Friday was our first broadcasting class, and I'm less scared of it than I thought I would be. I dislike the idea of being on camera ever, but radio will be fun and learning about digital editing and such will be super keen. A whole bunch of us went to St. Sulpice afterwards, which is this pub with an absolutely massive back terrace. We drank pitchers and ate poutine and chatted for hours. Our little class is gelling nicely, and for that I am glad. Eventually, I went to see the always-lovely Hayden (featuring Cuff the Duke in a walk-on role) and Great Lake Swimmers with Joslyn, Katie, Jose and Paul from journalism. Jenny and her friend Liz W. arrived later on, and I spent the majority of the weekend with them.

My Liz was also here this weekend, and a bunch of us had delicious fancy salads and beer at the Shed Cafe all afternoon. All in all, a lot of love was felt and I am looking forward to my summer roommate's arrival on Wednesday. Rah! Rah! Sis boom bah! (I now understand why lonely old women adopt like a billion cats.)

(Now playing: "My Wife", Hayden)

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Sous Le Soleil Exactement

Further observations on Montreal:

  • It smells good here. Like, all the time. It was almost 30 degrees out today, and yet it smelled really lovely. It smelled like flowers and sunshine - even downtown! I'm not used to that. Summer should smell like gasoline and garbage and sewage. (Also, it's not difficult to breathe in deeply on hot days, like it is in Toronto.)

  • As Ben # 2 pointed out, gaydar is practically null and void in Montreal. Some guy with a really great haircut and a pink shirt with a butterfly collar and tight white pants walking down the street in Toronto? Gay, sans doute. Some guy with a really great haircut and a pink shirt with a butterfly collar and tight white pants walking down the street in Montreal? Straight and fashionable.

  • As my mother so aptly observed, "People in Montreal drive worse than people in downtown Calcutta!" In the span of 2 hours, I saw two different cyclists almost get hit by big giant trucks. I've never felt so nervous crossing at green lights before, yet native Montrealers jaywalk across main streets without fear.

  • People here have really great shoes.

Journalism orientation started on Monday. I had first-day-of-school jitters, but all is turning out well. There are 20 of us in the program, and I genuinely like each and every single one of them. They're all just so interesting/sweet/funny/smart/friendly. A group of us are going to see Hayden and Cuff the Duke on Friday. And I didn't even have to twist any arms! People actually WANTED to go! Yeah, I think it's going to be a good year.

Big giant gold stars to Alison and Gaven for being the first to send me fun mail at my new address. Few things in life are funner than fun mail.

(Now playing: "Un Poison Violent, C'est Ca L'Amour", Serge Gainsbourg)

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Every Day Should Be A Holiday

Forgive the large gap betweens bloggings. I've been busy settling in to my new digs, as well as playing hostess to Daphna's good friend Ben # 2 (not to be confused with Ben # 1 ). We've spent the vast majority of our time wandering around town, playing Scrabble, buying delicious bagels from Mile End (Montreal's equivalent neighbourhood to Bathurst & Lawrence - Hasids everywhere!) and watching Sex and the City DVDs. Oh, and eating. A lot. What's better than that? Nothing.

A couple of nights ago, Ben and Tony and I went to the village (it's funny how my fruit fly-ish tendencies follow me from city to city) to sing a little karaoke at Club Date. Tony and I brought the house down with our version of "Summer Nights" (I know, I know). Ben did "Mac the Knife", Tony did "New York, New York" and while singing Blondie's "The Tide is High", I was very much hit on by a middle-aged lesbian. It was kind of funny - she hopped up on stage and started singing along with me and I thought, "She must be really drunk and like this song a whole lot." Two minutes later - when I felt her nipples in my back - I remembered that I was in a gay bar. And oh good, she just groped my ass! (Ben later told me that he noticed I had no idea what was going on and wanted to say something. It was funnier discovering it on my own, anyway). Aside from that uncomfortable sidebar, that was probably one of the funnest nights I've had out in a really long time. Karaoke is the greatest.

My French is improving. I'm learning new words every day. Unfortunately, no matter how much vocabulary I pick up, I am starting to realize that I will never be able to communicate effectively with native Montrealers. They speak far too quickly for my liking, and often drop the middle syllables of words entirely. When I was getting my hair cut the other day (I now like it, but immediately afterwards I had this incongruous asian schoolgirl haircut happening. It was scary and too cool for me. Especially since I'm neither asian nor a schoolgirl.), my hairdresser and another were chatting back and forth, and it might as well have been in Arabic. Je n'ai compris pas un mot. Fuck.

I'm looking forward to the start of classes, but I'm also not looking forward to it. It all depends on my mood. I've always been one of those people who loves school and whose internal clock starts in September and ends in June, and I'm really excited to meet some new people. Yet at the same time, it's been really nice to just bum around, tan, explore, shop, do nothing. This has been my summer vacation. It all ends tomorrow.

(Now playing: "It's Summertime", The Flaming Lips)