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.

thank you st patrick, thank you ste catherine

martie 16, 2010

so, yesterday: i wake up totally woozy with the sound of drums and trumpets in my head. first thought is, c’mon, i can’t be so hungover, it was only 50 ml of vodka, okay? then i BLINK* and realize these important facts: a) it’s almost noon, like 11:08-ish b) nope, it’s past noon, because the hour just changed. ow great. c) it’s freaking raining, which doesn’t help anything. it might justify my oversleeping though. and d) the trumpets and drums and other stuff are the live sounds of a parade passing right by my window. e) immediate logical deduction (meaning by this time i’m awake and sort-of-washing) that the parade is a st patrick one, three days before but i’m reasonable enough to understand they had to do it on a sunday.

alright. celto-phile that i am, i go to the window to stare at the parade. poor people marching in various uniforms in the rain, and shamrock stuff and the chariot with the, whatever, lady with a crown on her head sitting in front of a harp, then more bagpipey things, not very many spectators – it’s raining quite heavily. so i turn my computer on and whoops there’s an email from someone i wrote to last night about a room (i.e.while drinking and chatting to yael at the same time. oh well). so the email asks me to come for a room viewing AT HALF PAST ONE meaning in 50 minutes. hallelujah. i’m right outta the door…

…and on the metro, because the stop is mont-royal (i’ve determined) but i’ll need to walk some from there. i actually have to walk kind of a lot for a person who doesn’t own an umbrella anymore. but who cares. during rain it’s so obvious that montreal is brown/green where vancouver is grey/blue (do i have to explain this better? maybe i’ll try later). ironically enough, this route is pretty close to the one i took the other day for my non-existent appointment. the streets are empty, the houses look smaller and humbler under the rain, but the tall stairway is pretty steep, i keep checking the time, i’m wet but punctual, then i meet cynthia and i kinda fall in love.

c’est cynthia, ma colocataire:). she’s quebecoise, my age, teaches in an elementary school and volunteers in teaching french (and might hate me if she knew i was writing about her…i guess). she’s a mixture of…mmm christine leclerc, for whoever knows christine; and ramo szilagy, for whoever knows ramo. very slight and energetic and smiling and full of…goodness. (once, in a convo with lora about what makes people good, i suggested that „people who like me [carmen] must be good” is not such a presumptous statement. people who manage to like me usually like EVERYONE plus are paragons of patience. anyway it’s a useful criterion.) back to cynthia. so she shows me the room, the other rooms etc, and we’re chit-chatting when another room viewer shows up. it’s a guy who can’t speak english…cynthia continues the apartment tour, this time in french, which i understand. somehow i manage to drop a few words in french into the whole ‘presentation’. turns out the guy thought i was cynthia’s friend, not another (uh-uh) contender. so he’s like „aha, vous voulez la chambre? alors, vous pouvez l’avoir”or smth. no really. c. saves the situation saying she’ll email us both tomorrow etc and the guy leaves and i stiiilll stick around for some minutes. seriously now she invited me to stay. anyway.

so she wrote me and we met today and we walked a bit and i spoke french for half an hour. this is so cool. and i swear the room is ok, although the room as is is like 30% of the deal. affordable, and has a window (it’s really small though) and the place is not freaky tidy and is cozy. and i picked my favourite spot: at the end of the hallway (it’s one of those long apartments, wagon-style, right?) there’s a small office-like corner with a desk. opening into the balcony. love love love. the location…i don’t know, i’ll have to learn to use buses cause it’s 17 mins from the metro, which i hear in winter can be lethal :). the street is des erables, extra golden star cause i’ve always wanted a french name for my street. and i believe it’s lovely. east plateau-ish but still the plateau, so whatever. and from the glimpses i’ve had c.’s friends are cool too. oh, there’s a blue parrot in the place but he can’t speak yet. can you tell i’m excited though??:))

(* – i’m pretty sure i’ve promised to apologize to yael every time i use the word „blink” in writing again. sorry:)))

be warned about karma

martie 14, 2010

(i am, of course, writing this while sipping my vodka with orange juice; very classy. it took almost 10 days, in case anyone’s counting. but what i want to say is:)

a) i was talking to sonja recently about people who were wronged, under spooky circumstances[i.e. which could make a good story], and who still manage to come out looking ridiculous…and we (or is it just me??) realized it’s because they don’t tell the story for the anecdote, they tell it to vent their rage and care about establishing that they were wronged more than about how they come out looking. so they get their instant relief. (somehow in life everybody does get what they’re after; or what they bargain for.). righteous helpless anger is one of the most comical things ever. despair&co is annoying/or touching. but ranting as a response to injustice will never convince anyone of anything.

b) so. someone long ago taught me a good trick for going through life with decency (pity i can’t live by it often).it’s the flipside to a). it goes, what to do when you have trouble? whisper it to a hole in the wall. (this is a quote or at least paraphrase off ‘in the mood for love’ si je me souviens. also:)

c)”je me souviens” – the dumbest motto ever. i moved to a province where remembering is stipulated on the coat of arms. i also bought a bag of madeleines this afternoon, and watched myself eating them. it was…overkill. you know: pleonastic.

so back to the other thing about today. i was going to wait until i can see the fun of the situation and the other angles of it, including those of the other people involved, and their mental processes, through the yellow light of this…cocktail glass. but, hey, here it goes: people who want to rent their rooms quick, and post craigslist ads, and email back and forth with me – please: if you’ve made an appointment and you logically assume that i will be there at a certain place/time, and all of a sudden you don’t feel like keeping the appointment: let me know. i have an email, now i have a phone. i’m half-equipped to deal with glitches. or, theoretically, with rejection. what i’m unequipped to deal with is lack of thoughtfulness and foresight. mine, nevermind yours. WHY WOULD YOU NOT SHOW UP FOR AN APPOINTMENT AT YOUR PLACE THAT YOU SET THE TIME FOR? you’d better be more prepared for your appointment with karma soon, coz i hear she’s a bitch. ok. done.

i mean, can you see me actually mentally preparing for the interview (pathetic), then going out, taking the metro to laurier and then walking 20 mins to de lorimier (i wouldn’t even want to live there, a part of my brain is telling the other) and then ringing a bell for 20 mins? while all this time the person is not there? i just did that and i can’t imagine it. i think i need quebec-experts to explain a bit.

but also, this glitch raises another problem. the degree of closeness or honesty or storytelling flourish that i want to put into this blog. it’s hard to write when i’m pissed off, when i’m depressed, when non-montreal-related shit happens, AND keep a good tone. it’s hard to be in montreal in my mind right now. but at the same time it’s still early days, easy to remind myself that 1)any attempt should be whole-hearted. i should do my best at being me here, ridiculousness as part of the deal; and 2)writing – a blog, if not brilliant stories – is also part of the deal. forever:)

p.s. i sat on a bench reading in parc laurier. the air is definitely spring, and my coat too thick. there are still patches of snow, in upper plateau-ish more than downtown. people walking their dogs. a father and son flying a small kite. i’ve never had this sort of peaceful/restless feeling since cluj. it’s definitely the weather and the landscape.

odds and ends

martie 11, 2010

– a march passed below my window the other night round 8. i don’t know what their point was. the chants started „one-two-three-four/’ and then blah-blah-blah-something rhyming with four. i was pissed that i couldn’t appropriately record it for the blog ((ex-)montrealers: where can i find out who is marching here for what?)

-going to the community center to ask about french classes. it looked like a very busy school (around 3 p.m.)- first i tried to talk to a lady, who turned out to speak no english: „je suis professeure” – alright, i explained in sort-of-french and she sent me to the secretary. stage two: i started in english; the secretary was very kind, spoke english, all ok – until i asked if i needed an exam: „no, if you speak no french, level one, no exam.” – „mais… je parle un peu…” – and suddenly, without batting an eyelid, she switched: „alors, si vous parlez un peu…[blah-blah-blah french]”. she never said another word of english to me again. and i mean, it was fine: i repeated the info back to her to make sure i understood. and i wanted to applaud her.

– i went out around noon to ask about two jobs that had been posted on craigslist last night. they’d been already taken this morning. i don’t know whether this should scare me or make me hopeful in my vigilance. plus, if i drop c.v.s first thing in the morning, i can just walk around all the rest of the day cause my purpose has been served. i was off prince arthur-laval when i realized this…beauty is much more intense when you’re a certain degree of anxious…it’s spring! nevermind the common wisdom and the huge mounds of grey snow in the was spring today on those streets, postcard-picturesque complete with graffitti and bicycles and iron escaliers, yes? and vivid colors. (off-off-topic: my favourite name for a cafe: ‘la petite idee fixe’.)

-i bought a cellphone yesterday. i’m like starved (my camera is broken too, and i am broke, so yeah) – i learned to take pictures…didn’t actually take many. but then my friend matt phoned me this evening and i was all of a sudden years and years ago, standing by the window in the dark, smiling with all my face. i felt i’d arrived somewhere: „tell me what you see.”- „i see s-te catherine…i’m on a corner, so right in front of me there’s a cheap asian noodle place…”…crossroads, and a depanneur, and a balcony still full of christmas lights. – „it sounds great.”

-at the fido store they almost wouldn’t let me buy the phone because i didn’t have a credit card. they did phone my bank and all, i mean they could have checked that i had money in my account…but no, at one point it seemed to be down to the credit card. whatever – i didn’t actually want a cellphone that much. i was about to write it off and say i tried. (clerk to me: „are you new to canada?” – „well it depends, this is my third year here.” – „and you’ve never had a credit card!?!?”. so i did this, and i’ll ask you to picture it: i raised my chin and smiled, very large and bright. and i said”no!” – in the giulia tone.)

– i tricked a shop assistant into speaking french to me, in a boutique on st laurent. i think she was my kind of shy or faux-shy, the type of people who don’t want to presume. she said the usual „bonjour hello” at first (which cracks me up every time)and when i answered „bonjour” she deduced she should go on in french. some noisy teens burst in, then out…”oh, these kids!” she sort-of-tried. no reaction from me. and then, wonderfully, she kept to french. i was so grateful that i let her convince me to try on a pair of pants that i couldn’t afford. and they fit! merde!

– on the room-hunting front…i was interviewed for the position of roommate yesterday night:), by a very fashionable girl who lives on parc/fairmont. i don’t think she liked me much:(, i think she’s too neat and hip for me. the room was cute, simple and presumably sunny, with a small fire-escapy balcony to kill for! that balcony was my favourite thing in the place! i would almost start smoking for that balcony! but the one thing that made me warm inside in the whole episode was, before going out, my current roomie asking me for my brand new phone number and giving me a call so i could call him back ‘in case anything happens’. it was so purely symbolic, but the small thought that someone here is willing to have my back…priceless. always the small things:).

the right time

martie 9, 2010

i spent all of yesterday actively panicking, so here’s an anecdote about…NOT YESTERDAY, because you don’t need to hear that bullshit:). so, before leaving i was given 2 mini-bottles of alcohol, a vodka and a liquor. i’m supposed to drink the vodka (smirnoff) in case of crisis or breakdown etc., „for medication”, my friend said. and the liquor (frangelico) is to drink with coffee, at my table, to celebrate settling into my new place. also, she wisely added when i asked why the liquor bottle was bigger than the vodka one: „celebrate with someone; medicate alone.”

my dilemma under these circumstances is: how do i KNOW when the appropriate time is for breaking the alcohol? i know it’s up to me and on the other hand it should come obvious…but nuances are gonna kill and bury me one day. i’ve wanted to drink the vodka about three times so far…and i hold back thinking wait, this is only the beginning. but i mean everything in my life so far has been only the beginning of something. and then we die. why am i not good at detecting stuff like „now or never”, „the time of my life”, „the one and only” etc?

this clearly calls for a plan of action, i.e. DOING STUFF. i know lying on a huge bed on a fluffy duvet with sun on my face for hours on end might sound like the dream life that i came to montreal for…but lemme tell ya: what i want right now is good reason  to open those bottles. i want drama. i want blog material. so i start by making lists:

1. the first thing to do is, obviously, make a to-do list. it will help me feel organized, in control, smart, clear-sighted, all attributes needed to proceed onwards.

2. writing emails and posts and MSN-chatting about my situation and condition and the things i need to do are obviously necessary: they signify commitment and my assuming responsability for my future actions. no matter what those future actions will turn out to be.

3. at some point during the day, stepping away from the computer and getting out into the street might be a good idea.

4. among the activities to pursue in the city, first (because easiest) are those that involve me giving money to other people. this always seems to work, and i may be a natural at it. shopping is investing, so lay off me.

5.i’ve decided that celebration needs to come before medication. just because it would sort of set a bar. i mean it’s obvious that i’ll be pretty down as long as i don’t have a place and job. whatever bad stuff happens AFTER must be serious and medication-worthy.

6.but to celebrate i need to be able to contact the people i’m not contacting now and whom i don’t feel like seeing because i’m not sure exactly what i could tell them about ‘how i’m doing’ and ‘how i’m settling”.

as for the gaps in my list, here’s to hoping they’ll fill themselves in at the right time.

getting there

martie 7, 2010

i am staring straight ahead at a blank white wall. from the corner to my left runs a large window streaked with dust. light is coming in generously mixed with wind, and the branches of a naked tree swaying, and two grey/brown buildings and a square of whitish sky. i am sitting on the edge of a king size bed, in an empty apartment, at 8.30 a.m. EST, drinking ness, listening to my old playlist, trying to avoid talking straight about „how is montreal?” – because i don’t know how it is. i just know this.

i’ve been here before, so i’m not a tourist. memories came back and everything made sense instantly, on the first day – major streets downtown, metro stops, check. right now i have no ounce of curiosity about the cafes or friperies on the plateau, the souvenir shops in the old town, the boutiques just down the road, all the things i’ve already seen last summer. it feels like i’m absolved from wanting to see those bits of the city ever again, which is an at least bizarre thought. but i don’t live here yet.

the strangest part about me moving somewhere new (vancouver ’07 is THE big reference) is the refusal, at first, to think of myself as a stranger. i look at these people walking by, talking in their phones, going places, moving with purpose, and i think what’s so hard about this? i can do what they do. or at least mimic it. only months later, once i feel i’ve perfected my imitation, will i let it go and start freaking out for real. i wish i could hit fast forward.

small stories happen along the way. last night i went to view a room, by appointment made on a public phone on ste catherine (yes i need a cell, yes) with a woman whose english was really shaky. the location was great – right off duluth/berri, a nice spot full of restaurants and a milling crowd. very heartening. the alley of the address looked a bit creepy, but i thought oh well…at this point i was trying to find omens in the names of the places i passed by (‘la gueule bleue’, ‘l’oiseau tonnerre’), in the grafitti (i could swear one tag on a wall said ‘trial life’, but it could be just me twisting it). the building was a set of supersmall studios (1 1/2 s, which was my plan, in my wonderful quest to life alone/independently). no one was waiting for me there. wait – why had i thought someone would be waiting for me? i’d fucking got it all wrong. i had the building number, not the apartment. then again, judging from the outside, those were not apartments – small boxes with thin-thin walls. i was in the hallway and could hear a TV upstairs, and next door someone was running a faucet, and next-next door someone sounded like they were going through a quiz on american presidents. i went a bit dizzy. i got out and found another public phone and tried to reach the woman again and again – her phone was off. i returned to the building and knocked on the closest door, 204. silence. quiet. the type of quiet where you know someone’s listening, hesitating on the other side. the door opened, and it was this 4 feet tall old lady, completely shrunken in, looking up at me in incomprehension and half-terror, from her dark cramped room – so small, so crammed with stains and old newspapers. i backed off mumbling ‘excuse me, i was supposed to meet someone and i…’ and suddenly she smiled at me, her smile even more frightening than her shock: ” aaaah, tu t’es trompe’ „. i breathed out „oui, oui je me suis trompe”, and even then i was thinking „passe compose with ETRE, not AVOIR”, then she closed the door and i turned back and almost ran.

more on the ‘moving’ business: things i lack for now: pillow, eyebrow plucker(?!), shoe polish/ spray, scissors, coffee. chair and table too but those are optional anyway. things i have recently acquired : small plushy blanket, huge bath towel, hand mirror (you have to wonder what-the-hell), monthly buss pass. this is definitely going faster than the vancouver move though. my current roomie is nice/pretty chill – they used to be a whole noisy bunch, but the others just left last night. i didn’t mind the noise at all, my sleep patterns are sooo damaged, and these kids are so young and matter-of-fact and bilingual and all, it’s charming. as long as i’ve got so much to catch up with, i’m in no danger of turning bitter. maybe i don’t want to live on my own after all.

partying „in the pacific northwest”

ianuarie 1, 2010

– once i said „on the west coast” in reference to something vancouver/portland, then i realized i was talking to matt who’s californian and i basically have no idea about california things, i.e. where it’s sunny all the time and people really.can. not. live. so i stand corrected.

– the first thing to keep in mind, my parties here have all been house parties. (intelligence from matt again: in NYC no one’s space is big enough for partying haha so they have to go to bars) and i’m not counting readings as parties, even if at points people were drinking hard – a reading is a cultural event, so there. of course they were drinking. that’s the way to imbibe culture. but seriously i don’t think i’ve been in a ‘club’ in vancouver. i’ve seen line-ups on weekend nights downtown though, and weren’t they a pretty sight. i’ve also seen young people stumbling and staggering and puking all over granville and the b-line. so it must be cool.

-but wait. a party is a cultural event too. more than anything else.

-i’m writing this because i’m getting a bit anxious for the NYE party (last one at sonja’s) and i basically have 6 hrs to kill and it’s raining like crazy and i don’t feel like plucking my eyebrows, which would be the alternative right now. also because i’ve been pounded stupid w the phrase „xxx of the decade” these days, and all my facebook feed by now is full of happy new year wishes and  it’s already 2010 in romania, which makes no sense, romania is one year ahead? haha old joke. but, you know. all this stuff.

– i never know what to take to parties, except for myself and my willingness to cry and argue. it could be argued (and cried) that this willingness has served me well  to some extent…and of course, on the other hand undermined my efforts at being taken seriously, except…what were those efforts? oh.  so  i think i usually take a bottle of wine. no one will open mine anyway . i mean any party is supposed to be BYOB (‘bring your own booze – i had to google it oct ’07) but it’s not strictly so…because…it’s a party, not a workshop for drunks. i always hope someone does open my bottle, my poor generic wine bottle, randomly chosen based on name, country of origin or amount of money i have to spare – in the end…i feel a bit bad for it (~her) to abandon her in a foreign fridge. a box in a box. as lonely and befuddled as me.

– then i mingle. well no i don’t, i go straight to the buffet and sample. i remember autumn ’07, trying not to wrinkle my nose at the spectacle of two dozen kinds of dips. ok, dips still don’t make much sense to me. so on the one hand i want to see the difference. on the other hand, i keep liking the familiar for a long long time. unless it’s cumbersome. or unless the familiar was the reason that pushed me to move. mingling is harder than it seems; it involves doing your own thing in a way that keeps stuff homogenous. (cue „dip in” and all sorts of corny follow ups.) mingle. ok.

– well instead of mingling what i normally do is talk to mostly one person the whole night. or at least focus on them. it’s easier. it helps that people are polite, and in ’07 it helped that i was a bit of a rare species(i still am to some extent bc i keep meeting new people, but already vancouver seems a bit small, i dunno:) ). and it’s not that i start off as very interested in that person, but it’s just comfortable to…be following someone, to gravitate around them. back in cluj i always ended up DJ-ing…but here i’ve accepted my inferiority in matters of musical taste so there – ground ceded, that’s that.

-i sort of have a record of losing earrings on couches, which is funny and of course not as dirty as i tried to make it sound.

– i don’t think i’ve ever had to dance. oh, i danced once at the oddball – not a house party but an eastside one so not your standard club fare. i never remember anything about dancing – my memories of parties are always of talking and drinking. yes i drink at parties. it’s fun. i mean even if it’s not fun it becomes fun after 2 glasses. which is the obvious point.

– things that can happen at parties: biographies in a nutshell/having your palm read/starting a crush and getting over it by the end of the night/watching fish and stealing toys (that was the most memorable party of ’07 – i’ll come back to it over and over again)/ overdose on cheese/ mixed tapes/ listening to people reminisce/discuss their childhoods or their common background vs. yours. anger. desire. breathe in, breathe out, go out on the porch, or in the street, or on the balcony where a circle has gathered to share a joint. join in for a puff, cop the feel that you ARE joining something, that you are present. rinse, repeat.

– extra things that can happen at writers’ parties: someone starts actually detailing the subject of a book. someone asks for feedback on a specific point, and an impromptu workshop flares up for 10 mins. the dialogue jumps around very quickly because there are always people wittier than average. or young and easily bored. or both. you learn so many names and titles in the easy flow of just words that you feel maybe you should take notes. you feel the need to sting, scandalize, pull them back with you. say something sudden. you usually shrug and wait to get drunker.

– extra things that can happen at east side parties: people talk about social work all night. people bring foods that they’ve cooked or baked from scratch, everything is organic and vegan. people talk about how organic and vegan things are a great deal. at one point you are convinced you are paranoid. and mean. and uninformed and parasitical. all your good impulses are choked and conflicted. you feel like wide is narrow and all-encompassing is shallow and that you’d rather smash a bottle against a pole.

– when i look around the room and start asking myself how much every one earns a year i know it’s time to switch to juice for the night.

– knowing when to leave is essential. leaving in groups is what vancouver does, because public transport is lousy and because taking joint rides is environmental, or something. people send a text to check when the last bus is. people hunt for cabs. then they get home and add you on facebook before they forget. then they forget.

fun timeline

septembrie 9, 2009

apr 29 – hand in thesis

apr 29- may 20 – moping post-thesis/ waiting for potentially interesting guy to call. (in case you’re curious about that development: he doesn’t. end of story)

may 20- rest of summer and continuing: OMG ADAM LAMBERT


(?   !    ?  !   ? yes, i know, wtf)

july 31st – start collecting papers for extension of stay in canada (realize i could send application in same day if only i had a credit card. shrug.)

aug. 5 (ok, there was the long weekend in between) – papers collected

aug 6 – send application

aug 7- fuck! application is incomplete! have to wake up early to catch human person on phone at CIC, with instruction on how to send the missing paper; afternoon =send missing paper. breathe.

aug 10-17 – early mornings try to call CIC and find out if file is complete/when they’re dealing with it; fail to engage with humans

aug 17 – human on the phone from CIC (= immigration canada) says file will take around one more month in line, as at the moment they’re just opening files arrived first week of july. „please inquire again one month from now.” same human says she doesn’t know if a work permit would allow me to work in quebec. she says call quebec and gives me a number: it’s robots!

aug 17  – half an hour later – i give notice at my job

aug 18-30 – i tell everyone (including creepy person on the bus, AEGEE friends, random chat interlocutors, regular customers and co-op neighbours) bits of my sad story.

aug 19 – plane ticket bought for cluj

aug 19-28 – bits of random packing: bunching up clothes i want to give up; tearing papers; inventorying books. making lists.

aug 20-23 – i take online quizzes to determine my points for immigration from romania to canada/quebec (i have different scores for different quizzes. at least some of them look hopeful. i need french. i need a job offer.)

aug 27 – last day at work

aug 28- morning leave for seattle

aug 30 – arrive portland

aug 31 – email from ef. telling me work permit arrived in mail

sept 1 – i want to go back to cluj and visit; but then i want to return. this is plan A. i like it.

sept 1/2 – back in vancouver; plans A through D written down neatly. work permit turns out to be for 3 YEARS! SHIT!

sept 2 – morning – phone CIC. human voice!!! realize once i leave canada i need a visa for re-entry. complicated. but visa is formality. phone quebec. the person in quebec does not know whether i’m allowed to work in quebec or not. suggests i call CIC. i’m like, forget about it! i have fun day out, all serene and shit.

sept 2 – evening – mum agrees with anything, as long as i go home ; i say i’d have to resign from sincai, she’s like ok, whatever. then suddenly : „your father’s not very happy here” BOOM

sept 2/3/4 – argue; break for sleep; argue; break for lunch; argue; break = can’t sleep; argue; break for a nap (nightmares); argue.

sept 4/5 night: sort of an ultimatum. „flip the coin” moment. i do not flip the coin. because i do not fucking need to flip a coin. ok?

sept 5 – morning – yes, i catch another human voice at CIC. human voice says yes, an open work permit allows you to work in quebec. any other questions you had? NO! THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU!

sept 5 – evening – write resignation email to school/send it.


eat. sleep.

walk. eat. read women’s mags. throw torn papers. sleep.

sept 8 – got shitty job back.

the future is ours.


= one more week of holiday. actually staycation but who cares

= no jet lag

= cancellation of all possibly teary goodbye drinks&such : replacement with non-teary non-goodbye drinks

= sonja gets to buy me the hat! yes i hereby demand the hat. hat hat hat hat hat

= writing!! readings!! writers’ festival (i get to see richard ford !!!! <3)

= montreal ’10. wait: matt in montreal ’10 🙂

finally montreal (2)

iunie 21, 2009

day 4 (june 5) new roommates. one of them doesn’t speak at all, and first i assume i *did something*; then i think she’s mute. i say hi and bye, and nothing more. ok, i address general remarks to the room, i.e. this girl and the other roommate, y. (this went on for 3 days. i’m ashamed that i had no idea how to behave. it felt awful. what would you have done???)

y. is korean, and did one year in edmonton,and is majoring in poli sci :), and visiting canada before going back home. also, i bet you didn’t know that in korea you are considered 1 year old on the day of your birth! anyway. so we end up touristing together in old montreal, quite a fun morning+afternoon, complete with tour of the notre-dame cathedral, pointe de la calliere losing our way in the subterranean trench things and among too many stairs/doors, cheesy ‘artist’ alleys and souvenir shops, and lunch by the old port with me eating poutine and critiquing service.

so in the evening i practically RUN to st. laurent station to meet elena’s friend b., and it turns out i ran with good reason, because he is amazing, and i wish i had time for a real life crush. i’ll stop embarassing myself here. we saw a woodwork exhibition, had dinner at ‘kilo’ in the village (more about the village later, i hope) and he dropped me off at cinema ‘roboteque’. friday night, the downtown crowded in a good heartwarming way, sunny, talk talk talk, and if you asked me to pick my favourite mtl moment this would make the top 3 no sweat. only afterwards i realized, i could realize, that i’d still been wary the days before, thinking do i really need french right away?, thinking will i be able to interact with people? b. : a huge relief, and a smile. and i love people who love mtl, no matter if they call it vibrant or not.

evening-ish, me right out of roboteque, and i get talking to this other guy ON THE STREET. so then i go with him for tea across the road, to a tea place that is called ‘camellia sinensis’ (cue giggles, so camelia means tea then? anyway!) for lovely flower tea and japanese weird pastries and he is a music professor at UQUAM or smth, and then we go to his actual office and he plays me something by dvorjak and for a short while i feel like a person who grew up in a cave *sigh* and he is all around superpolite in the frenchy way (he is french, but trying to practise his english) and he did his ph.d in budapest and adores brancusi, so he freaks out when i say i’m romanian. very very interesting, and he walks me home, well 40 mins walk from uqam and he lives close to st. cath, but still. at some point it’s completely dark and we’re still on sherbrooke, passing by the museums, and i start feeling too tired to speak.

day 5 (june 6) looks cloudy, and i’m undecided so in the morning i go by the mcgill campus and pretty soon find a bookshop nearby, which is always a time-sucking hole in my case, so by the time i call elizabeth’s friend m. it’s already afternoon…? he says come over, and he’s not far away, he and his partner live in the village, pretty house with a minuscule backyard and…well, a very stylish house 🙂 [at which point i realize that this post cannot express anything without emoticons. a pity.] i love these guys, and they feed me cheese and fruit and love on my nail polish, and i follow m. around on his small errands in the village and he finds a SILVER RING ON THE STREET AND GIVES IT TO ME AND IT FITS PERFECTLY, how is this not magic? also he advises me to buy a throwaway camera. which i do. too bad about my digital malfunctioning, but its story is kind of bad/lame from the start, honestly, so i can even find a bit of happiness in the thought of it being broken forever. after i leave the guys, i read a bit in parc la fontaine (yes by the water!) and chat with two weird guys and a squirrel.

evening: the glorious marching band party. the bar is called alize, close to berri-uqam.the guys all wear tights and skirts, which i feel is very appropriate for this time in my life, and i applaud wholeheartedly. elena’s friend m. who actually *invited* me is there to perform, with his trumpet all night, and can barely skip and come to our table (=me and y.) for 5 mins at a time. also he’s wearing the best golden tights i’ve ever seen. there’s the trumpets, then a french hip-hop band, and i translate the message of the songs to y. for a bit, until we just jump around and we can’t be bothered to care. (it’s all about protesting anyway). what else? couple of guys from colombia, pretty amazing. we don’t stay til the end, because the last metro’s at 1, so we catch that and then, since tomorrow’s y’s last day in mtl, we top it off at the hostel with a girly girl chat on the couch in the reception area.