the state of cynthia’s kitchen

aprilie 25, 2010

uh-uh. carmen cooking. and cynthia cooking too, except the latter is normal.

we’ve designed saturday morning/afternoon (bf i leave for work) as cooking time – a theoretically pretty smart idea, which i would hate to jinx. each time we have to have a recipe for a ~fancy salad picked up (or a fancy one and a very simple one, i.e. lettuce+celery+…olives or whatever) plus one for a ‘serious’ meal.

so far this month i made: eggplant salad (i put green pepper in it so it came out extra green; and i did cut down on the salt and did the onion very very small, but i’m still not getting smth right taste-wise hmmm). mushroom stew with polenta (yay complete success this time). and a fancy salad, with broccoli, tofu and a peanut butter+ cream dressing. aand yesterday i made stuffed peppers with sweet tomato sauce, my grandma’s recipe combined with one i found online (for which stupidly i mixed too much meat and too little rice. i mean it’s good, but not what i’d envisioned. put it down to experience.)

also baking in the oven yay. we baked salmon in aluminium foil. then cyn got brave enough last week to attempt cooking a whole chicken. again, complete success. also : i was whining as per usual about how muffins are the devil – which bizzarely inspired cyn to actually buy a muffin tray!!! so this week we went through two batches of muffins, and ok they’re made with quinoa flakes and stuff but stilllll. i need to keep being able to fit into clothes for god’s sake.

not that we didn’t go on a straight-from-the-store sweet-tooth spree midweek (i think we were both a bit down) i.e. chocolate almonds and chocolate spread. but on friday night we celebrated non-watching the hockey game with salads! so yea, living with someone who cooks is a mixed bag. of goodies, though.

along st laurent

aprilie 25, 2010

there’s „le cagibi”, where i went to frieda’s show. on the corner with st viateur. i went back just to try and sit in one of the armchairs by the window. the weather was windy, clouds going very fast. the armchair felt surprisingly fragile, cardboardy. i should have had strong coffee…but i was leaving straight for work, so i got a sandwich, with brie and honey:). this was the song that was playing:

then there’s „the sparrow”, a ways down towards fairmount. what can i say about ‘sparrow’? it should become part of home, it has all the elements to be the place i pass by just to see if a certain someone is inside. (i never had that in vancouver, for fairly obvious reasons. i think i’ve decided i need it, or at least a revisiting of it.) ‘sparrow’ is the bar /resto of cynthia’s friends, well owned/managed by them i dunno exactly. fairly full on weekend nights, but open during the day at uncertain hours. i sat at a table with cynthia on a friday, drinking cranberry juice. then i went alone, and drank iced tea at the bar. there’s a seat there, by the back wall, hidden behind a pillar- the best seat in the house. i want to have a story about it. not yet.

last night i should have been off at 1.30, but got sent home early (quiet night). and it was a quiet night: i walked the opposite way from the metro. like 5 years ago: looking for adventure in ways in which i can make sure i won’t stumble upon it. there was someone playing guitar in a small space, open doors, so i stopped for a couple minutes there, listening. further up, then back down, it was 11 already, and i saw a string of depanneurs starting to close: lights off, locking the doors. on a street parallel to mine, „jump around” blaring from the backroom of some club. people smoking in an alley. people laughing up in a balcony, the sharp outlines of their hipster hats. bicycles propped agains the stairwells. on an empty balcony, in the dark, a white lampshade with a still lit bulb, shaking in the wind like a friendly ghost.

more on stories

aprilie 23, 2010

i’m just here now to post this link. i haven’t even read the whole of the post yet, but i recognize the problems and revelations within it. ok, it’s not race, but ethnicity. (plus, someone, talking about a related cultural issue, was trying last year to convince me that i’m not caucasian – so whatever.) with the necessary mention that english was not exactly imposed onto my romanian generation in that way…it became a big trend only later; professional asset maybe too. but it was imposed onto me specifically through my personality – the exact kind of shiny object on a high shelf that can become a focus of longing.which brings me back to deepad’s text.

if you want to keep in touch with what i think about [i.e. the selfish purpose of this blog]: this is one side of it. soon i’ll have trivia/colorful/gossip too. promise:)

i don’t necessarily believe in sorcery…

aprilie 22, 2010

…i’ve failed twice to post the ending of the previous post. two days apart, while i gave myself time to rethink it, my edits failed to register both times. it feels a bit creepy.

anyway. let’s see if this new one works. i was trying to talk about the reading i went to. i was sitting next to an old man and found myself staring at his hands and just wanting to touch them. that’s the short of it. the next „mental genuflexion”, as someone would call it, was to the romanian legend of eternal youth.

summary for non-romanians: in a far-away kingdom, a prince demands from his parents etyernal youth AS A CONDITION FOR BEING BORN. they want a kid so much that they’d promise anything. of course the prince gets born, grows up and proceeds to break their hearts by going away to find what he was born for. AND HE FINDS IT. an enchanted land where time stands still, blah-blah, complete with not one fair princess, but 3!! (i ask you!). anyway. after spending a small eternity there, he kinda gets bored and misses home and decides to go for a visit. ooops. kingdom totally changed, old castle in ruins AND HIS OWN, PERSONAL DEATH WAITING FOR HIM patiently, at the bottom of an old trunk in the castle cellar. the end.

so the thread is this: red door – reading/audience – mortality – myth&legend – selfish choices – belonging and missing. i’ve thought about becoming a storyteller. i’m thinking about it.

colored doors

aprilie 22, 2010

1. „paint it black”

2. i had a dream once about a red door, and it stands out there with my creepiest nightmares, in that it woke me up, terrified. it was just that, a closed red door, with paint looking slightly old and dirtyish – but in my mind, in the dream, death was waiting for me on the other side.

3. „the yellow door”. is a coffeehouse/reading in mtl. i went two weeks ago. (this is how far back i am with my posts…oh maybe not really.) it’s just hard for me to be expressive about things i like, other than in capitals and exclamation marks. here’s me trying : I LIKED THIS READING!!! there were so many things. so many people who read, mostly poetry, but someone played an accordion. also: the accordion’s name was carmen. also: the hostess of the series is hungarian. one of the ppl who read is russian-serbian. i was all over them like plague and am still rolling my eyes at myself over that, because, seriously, carmen?? anyway. here’s me quoting a bit of a celebration of the weather – yes, there should be as many weather poems here as in vancouver:

„[…]rest and rot, says the mellow sun./take time to thoroughly fall apart,/before winter tightens everything.”

[more on this later]

aprilie 16, 2010

me, to person X: „so, why did you come to montreal?”

person X to me: „listen, this is the first time i met you. how do you expect me to tell you something like this? if you meet me again and spend time with me and we talk about things, one day i will tell you about it. but not now.”

me: „yessss!” (applauds)

niveau six

aprilie 16, 2010

it’s so hard to get back to diarying after a lapse…but here goes. last week i took my placement exam for intensive french courses. they have six levels (plus a writing-only one), two months each. my interviewer wanted to place me level six. i said i needed to speak more, and i could go level five. (i wonder what we do in the writing class: dictation? essays?) so i’ll have homework and stuff. and four days a week, 3.5 to 4 hours a day. i so can’t wait.

what my interviewer asked me, after i told her the story of my life in bad french: why didn’t you stay in vancouver? i feel like i need to make a big poster listing the possible reasons and just flash it at anyone who asks; because they ask – everybody does. [more on this later]. i also feel i haven’t managed to perfect a plausible, acceptable answer, so i’m just waffling. i mean, the short of it is „i wanted to come to montreal. i do everything i want.”

more french: „l’animal est une creature dont la douleur se limite a sa propre souffrance.”

more french. i read a great little book, „le grand cahier” by agota kristof. i loved and enjoyed it. the funny part is that i thought i’d be stepping up my reading-comprehension by ‘actually reading books’, only to discover that the level of french in the book is probably lower that the one i got with the weekly ‘voir’. but now i own about 5 books in french (one of them is ‘stupeur et tremblements’:) ). so i read every available moment on the metro, and look words up in my mini-dictionary (and ppl stare. and i smile and raise an eyebrow. that kind of stuff. i’ve had a couple of interesting conversations too, starting from that.)

favorite small quote from agota kristof: „il faut acheter quelque chose pour pouvoir voler autre chose.” it’s much better in context though, as anyone who reads will be able to tell:)

more french: translation of zadie smith’s ‘white teeth’ title: ‘sourires de loup’. not kidding.

official person to me : „can you speak french?” – i sort of nodded and shrugged at the same time. – „un p’tit peu?” he smiled. and it’s so amazing for me to see myself overtaken by righteous rage in one single instant : „mais non, plus qu’un p’tit peu. tous les anglos qui peuvent dire bonjour et merci parlent un p’tit peu. moi, j’suis mieux.” and there was no need for that, absolutely no need at all. but i had been validated by the „niveau six” label…and these are all things i’ve thought afterwards. right then, on the spot, i glared at the official man who had belittled my french in absentia. he laughed.

…and the wind blows…

aprilie 5, 2010

so i moved on good friday – i might have mentioned about a dozen times before that indeed i spoke french to my taxi driver. yes i did. i felt accomplished. i also confirmed to current neighbours that „oui, c’est un demenagement”. i had the place to myself all afternoon/evening cause cynthia was at her bf’s, so i unpacked with my music on. sunny, one of the nicest warmest possible early april days that i’ve ever seen. the light pooling into my room. the room is SOO small. my books are on the floor, my papers in one of those multipurpose plastic drawers…clothes on hangers…that’s it. for finishing touches: my personal knife and bottle opener are in the kitchen drawer; i started burning my wax candle (previous tennant was a heavy smoker :)); mmm i tested the sofa. there were church bells ringing, and then in the morning there were cocks crowing and birds trilling.(to this day we haven’t broken the celebration liquor because we don’t have coffee yet. lame, i know.)

yesterday. i did the proper wannabe thing and went walking along mont-royal in the morning. complete with necessary sunglasses, and the jacket on my arm because it was too warm. two girls painting their toenails on a porch. the thrift store across the street aglow with a fully decked christmas tree by the front door, shiny garlands and all. i was smiling dumbly at everything. a little boy walking with his bike between his legs (i told his mum „this is how i ride a bike too” and she laughed – see what i mean?). dog-walking people. boutiques. shoe sales at ‘yellow’. epiceries with strawberry boxes at 99c. i bought coffee and a croissant and ate them in a parklet, on a bench next to a group of very old guys playing cards.

then after noon i went grocery shopping with cynthia so she could show me the neighbourhood stores, and we bought stuff to make salads. stop rolling your eyes, i am pretty proud of „us”. so we sort-of-cooked and talked like crazy for a number of hours. and we ended up calling cyn’s bird leonard. [all your/our previous references come in handy at this point. bird on a wire/parc du portugal/ letter to leonard cohen/it’s 4 in the morning/ remember me? i brought your groceries in….etc.] he (l’oiseau, not l. cohen), altough he’s really really shy, after numerous attempts and cajoling, perched on my finger for like 2 seconds. i know, i’m smug:). then in the evening cyn+me walked a bit along mt-royal then st laurent, all dressed up. i put a long skirt on, because it was windy. and my heels – ouch. (i have a minor blister, but i seriously need flat spring shoes) and we ended up in a bar for a bit, just „visiting” cyn’s bf and his friend. that was about it : home by midnight, and i sneaked onto the balcony to light a candle and sing „christos a inviat” in a very tiny voice.

after that, until about 3.30 when i finally fell asleep…the wind blew. i listened to it, wrapped in my blanket, in the otherwise peace and quiet of my little place. it was unlike any nighttime wind i’d heard before, breaking on the walls, over the interior yard, strong, furious, rough, musical, pause and start again. the balcony door whinged open. the semi-opened window in the livingroom hissed. so close and exposed. i went to shut everything off, and back to listen. i assumed this can’t be a singular occurence. i thought „i’ll have to learn to sleep through this kind of wind.” – then immediately „i’ll have to learn to love this”. which is so wonderfully paradoxical that it startled me awake even more. how do you reconcile getting used/taking for granted…with ‘growing to love’. i used to think of love as continuous awakenness, and maybe that was the problem…too much drama, as various people who know me can testify.

so the wind did its thing, and i heard it, was duly impressed, managed to make it all about myself, then i fell asleep. happy easter everyone.

what else carmen did last month

aprilie 2, 2010

…in random order. mmm she made awkward attempts at cooking. which, considering what you might know about her cooking history…sounds either shrug-worthy or downright impressive. okay, i made spaghetti. i made one or two omelettes. mamaliga. (cu branza, duh. because i found this supermarche where they had bulgarian feta and where i heard incidental romanian spoken by the staff. still don’t know whether i’m excited or pissed about that. my guess would be excited…). (and right now i’m about to use this kitchen for the last time so i’ll do a mushroom-stew-y thing…luckily my current roommate wants nothing to do with it and went to sleep. i did mention he’s smart, yes?)

(update: it’s not bad. too sour, no idea why. but definitely edible. it probably looks better than it tastes. still, it was fun to make, and for someone who doesn’t cook, are you kidding me?!)

…she also made a quite extensive list of all the stuff she needs, during long windowshopping hours on mont-royal and at the unfortunate eaton center. such as (for fun): pair of flat shoes for spring; nice looking casual dress or skirt for „potential dressy” occasions i.e. interviews; blue FaFa bag on sales (i would lie if i said that’s a must); yves rocher eau de toilette and body lotion and everything; bathrobe; umbrella (there are transparent ones!! the question is – cheap transparent, or serious transparent?); hat; couple of pairs of leggings; etc etc. definitely a mug: the personal mug signifies settling. („settling” = obnoxious word of the past 2 weeks.)

…she went to another workshop on ‘how to get a job’ – more serious, less fun, more filled with downtrodden people with bad accents in english but who probably speak french better than herself. (uh, talking about settling:  A JOB is what signifies settling. just sayin.)

…she also went…to the movies…and saw ‘sherlock holmes’ in french. no i did not know it was going to be in french when i went. also the movie room/hall/how-do-you-call-it was empty. empty. it was monday night, no idea if it makes a difference.

…she also went to a music thing. an experimental music evening thrown together by a bunch of people who are handy with that stuff. making noises as an art. it was a good night except i had a nasty…probably cold. the whole thing happened at „le cagibi”, which is a nice little bar/place on st laurent. they sell food as well…they have a front and a back room. in the front one there are a couple of fancy armchairs by  the windows. i can see myself there, being all artsy- ‘aux anges’-like, for those who know ‘aux anges’: that’s what ‘le cagibi’ resembles best.

there were long walks, sudden streets and seagulls. there were seagull yelps in the morning, before the sky turns white. the first time i woke up to hear them i laughed alone in bed at 5 a.m. because those kinds of moments were what i was afraid i’d miss if i left vancouver. of course it’s not the same, but as an idea, as the shadow of a proof that i’m not defeated, i still have the seagulls. and then i have the names of intersections, that i learned as a tourist and then i forgot and now they come in handy: from a summery and careless place, here’s duluth&berri, here’s st. laurent&rachel, parc& st. viateur. here’s old jacques cartier, where i ate poutine on a terrace, st paul close to my history museum round. on mt royal and st denis, here are the shops i used to want to remember. and now i’m here, and why the hell should i want to be somewhere else?

people who don’t know the small things about carmen: her stubbornesses, which build up second by second, dumbly and blindly, are supported on the small things; on the seconds you left her out of sight. it could have been some other place than montreal. but now it’s montreal. who made the decision, it’s up to who tells the story or why.

haha, kidding. i made it.