not so much left

februarie 8, 2012

The Word

 Down near the bottom
 of the crossed-out list
 of things you have to do today,

 between „green thread”
 and „broccoli” you find
 that you have penciled „sunlight.”

 Resting on the page, the word
 is as beautiful, it touches you
 as if you had a friend

 and sunlight were a present
 he had sent you from some place distant
 as this morning – to cheer you up,

 and to remind you that,
 among your duties, pleasure
 is a thing,

 that also needs accomplishing
 Do you remember?
 that time and light are kinds

 of love, and love
 is no less practical
 than a coffee grinder

 or a safe spare tire?
 Tomorrow you may be utterly
 without a clue

 but today you get a telegram,
 from the heart in exile
 proclaiming that the kingdom

 still exists,
 the king and queen alive,
 still speaking to their children,

 – to any one among them
 who can find the time,
 to sit out in the sun and listen.

– Tony Hoagland<a


the year of living.

februarie 2, 2012

WHAT THE LIVING DO
by Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won’t work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven’t called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It’s winter again: the sky’s a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat’s on too high in here and I can’t turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I’ve been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss–we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I’m gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I’m speechless:
I am living. I remember you.


songs (winter 2011)

decembrie 16, 2011

h/t to: yael, the hairpin, captain awkward, rookie

1. feist – graveyard

2. mazzy star – happy

3. rilo kiley – breakin’ up

4. st vincent – these days

5. the kinks – village green

6. coma cinema – desolation’s plan

7. camera obscura – other towns and cities

„and if i go too long/without hearing your voice, everything goes/ all/ wrong”


end-of-year days

decembrie 11, 2011

Antilamentation
(Dorianne Laux)

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook.
Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication.
Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don’t regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the livingroom couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You’ve walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You’ve traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the upstairs
window. Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied
of expectation. Relax. Don’t bother remembering
any of it. Let’s stop here, under the lit sign
on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

Postcard from the Party
(Wynn Cooper)

You have to be invited, and there’s nothing
you can do to be asked. Headlines and bloodlines
don’t help. It’s a long way from home but I’m
here, the view much better than I’m used to.
How did this happen? Dumb but good luck,
right place and time, the planets aligned.
No contract, no deadline, no risk. And what
did I do to deserve this? Slept with all
the wrong people, gambled too much on friends
of friends with light bulbs over their heads.
Wrote every day no matter what.

h/t captain awkward


dear people

noiembrie 26, 2011

it’s been so long again that i want to just get re-introductions over with. i have ACHED to update for this whole past month. it may not look like it, but this blog, as personal (in the bad way) and bullshitty as it’s been lately, does feel like a concrete gesture i’m making toward staying connected. not letting my slippery life slipper away etc.

bottom-line: things have somewhat changed again. new job (i work for the Forum of Montreal in a veery qualified janitorial position, more on which later. hopefully.), new weird learning habits (i’m doing russian biweekly if possible, lately over luscious (can i say that??) soy lattes in the concordia ghetto. i am writing essay drafts on my room-daily schedule-describing my family -my city – shopping dialogues on my dinner breaks at tim hortons. i have late breakfasts in bed and have read a string of interesting books. new…new things: i am volunteering to teach english to immigrants at House of Friendship, which is the nicest place of its sort in the nicest nice possible area in Mtl (duluth and coloniale, anyone? yes, being posh here.) I am trying to write again because it ITCHES. so far it’s been shuffling and whining, but we’ll see.

we’ll see about everything, won’t we? in the end. i sense the winter pre-depression panic creeping and i shrug and watch it creep. it snowed once so far, but it hasn’t been supercold, and cold is just one of the variables anyway. the state of my potential anecdote supply is very very promising, and the future as uncertain as ever. and my butterflies are from the same old sources. and you, my dear people, the thought of you is a rough thick blanket that i have to discipline myself to drag and set in place: but it’s here, with me, warming. i’m thankful for this and for you.


spa!!

septembrie 18, 2011

To: [our landlords]

 

Hello. Here’s the email I promised to write you regarding your proposal that we move to apartment #2, 2155 St Joseph E.

First of all, you need to understand that we are not really interested in moving. We would much prefer to keep living in our current place undisturbed. We understand that you need to renovate the building, but it’s not clear to us why you want to start with our apartment, #4, and can’t start with apartment 2, which will be conveniently evacuated beginning of November. We suspect that you are fully aware that apartment #4 is better located and full of light.

However, we agreed to consider (which is not the same thing as accepting) your proposal. The list of things you would have to fix in apartment 2 as condition of our potential move would mandatorily include the following:

–          Repainting the middle room (currently used as bedroom) from dark purple to white

–          Installing a door to the front room so that privacy is insured for the occupant of that room

–          Changing the frames of the windows in both rooms (you should look at those windows and compare them with what we have in #4).

–          Cleaning thoroughly all the spaces in the apartment (including interiors of cupboards, closets, shelving and disinfected too).

This would need to be done 1 week before we move and be approved by us. That said, if we DO agree, then you would:

–          Help us move appliances AND FURNITURE. Practically if we move we would be doing you a favour, and we don’t see why we should be wasting time or energy at all during this move. Your role in this move would best be illustrated by the following image: “You find boxes for us, de-assemble and reassemble our furniture; Carmen and Melanie go to a spa for the whole moving day and come back to see that everything has been moved already to apartment #2. Of course, you will have paid for the entire meticulous cleaning of apartment 2 and also the spa because it is a drastic and stressful change in our very very busy and packed lives.” Need we point out that writing this stressful letter already took most of our night!

There are, unfortunately, a few things that we still don’t like about this idea of moving, in spite of the support and help you’ve promised.

1)      We think apartment 2 is much darker – not because of the bad paint, but because of its position on first floor. The view from the back windows is definitely not as good and our balcony would be exposed to everybody who walks by. As landlords, you may consider that one 3 ½ unit equals another 3 ½ unit, but this is not our experience as tenants. We really can’t see how you can convince us that the two apartments are similar.

2)      The bathroom/kitchen flooding incident this summer was very stressful for us. We think the construction team and you (their supposed supervisors) did not handle it well. You can’t blame us for not wanting to move into a place that would be exposed to the exact same type of situation (renovation going on above, managed by the same landlords). Not to mention the noises from the banging construction that haunted us for weeks, and which will be repeated.

3)We haven’t seen the bathroom yet, and have tried numerous times to see it with no answer from the tenant of #2. Even seeing the rest of the apartment has proved more difficult than expected. Ideally, you, as landlords, should have been present for this viewing so we can compare and discuss face to face the differences between the apartments and the changes to be made. We think this is a precursor to the vibe of our moving – you promise everything will be done well and fast, and in the end it takes much more time and stress than we can afford.

 

All the best,

Carmen and Melanie

 

 

 

 


new relevant information

iulie 30, 2011

To : Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities of Québec

Bonjour, Madame/Monsieur

In response to your email following my application for a Certificate of Selection by Québec, I do have a few new pieces of information concerning my current situation here as temporary resident. I hope they will contribute to a favourable view of my case.

1. My previous roommate left Canada and as such left me in full possesion of various pieces of furniture, kitchen implements, clothing items and a number of house plants, some of which might be said to have attained tree status (see attached photos).

2. My current roommate is designing me as `owner` of our live house pets (fish) – (photo attached)

3. As a new signer of a lease, I opened an account with Hydro Quebec, for which I had to pay 50$ (see copy of receipt).

4. I have entered a form of verbal agreement with the salesman in the shoe shop at Rachel corner St. Denis, that signifies my desire and intention to purchase a pair of black leather winter boots (value 200$, reduced from 350$) upon receiving my next paycheck (I wish I could attach a photo, or transcript of conversation, but, alas.).

As result of above mentioned events, I am becoming increasingly aware of the weight of responsibility I am taking on, as a caretaker for Québec-based live beings and as an investing participant in Québec economy.  I consider that my actions speak clearly of my awareness and acceptance of the high taxes and tough winters so specific to Québec – and, moreover, of a willingness to surround myself with the elements required by a steady, `settled` lifestyle here.  I hope your final decision goes in agreement with my current spendings.

As a sidenote, based on previous personal experiences and lessons learned thereby, I can also promise in all clear conscience to not date anglophones, or at least non-French speakers, ever again for as long as I live here  – consequently, my future children will be at least trilingual, with French their solid daily used second language.

Vive le Quebec!

Yours truly ___


and rain falls on us

iulie 22, 2011

it’s been crazy hot for probably one full week now. it doesn’t look too impressive when you just seew the official temperature – but when you factor in the humidity…oh boy. i’d say generally over 25 is already hard to bear („feels like” at least low 30s). today we had 34, feels like 45. just for the users of the other system: 34 is 93F, so there. i got a tan within 3 days, jusat from going to work in the morning (by metro and bus) and back in the afternoon, i.e. 15-20 minutes of exposure.

i’ve been sleeping little and at crazy times lately, partly the heat partly just painting tables/swapping lifestories/writing to the landlords with the roomie. last night culminated in me being woken up at 3 am by an animal (racoon? i guess) in the garbage below my window, and not being able to sleep again because of the heat. so today after my shift was done i simply collapsed…uh, almost. i can’t stand the AC, but even with just the fan on i feel i can’t breathe properly. a painful but necessary 2 hour nap. afterwards, around 10 pm, we were in the kitchen spraying ourselves with the water spritzer for the plants. drinking smoothies with big ice cubes. and then the rain started.

(off topic): last night i went with a friend to see the fireworks from the jacques cartier bridge. there are certain things that every self-respecting montrealais „should” do in the summertime – fireworks is one. others are maybe one jazz festival night, one „juste pour rire”, an ethnic festival on jean drapeau, la ronde, picnic in the park, going off to a lake, … so i was feeling righteous, i.e. look, i can cross this thing off my summer list.

and then this other thing happens that just explodes my list altogether. rain. summer rain in the dark, and no one to frown on us for going out to dance in it. a celebration. its own festival. we ran, in flip-flops and cotton dress, skirt and top, under the pouring relief. the anarchists across the street were out too, shirtless. our neighbour isabelle was on her balcony: she came and joined us just enough to get all wet, and for a happy hug. then we walked towards laurier, through the ruelles. occasional people cheering from their balconies. it was so cheerful and liberating and the most natural thing in the world. then the rain stopped all of a sudden, and now it’s almost as hot as before.


the blue room poem

iulie 14, 2011

(for hélène and shiva)

 

i found the walls blue, stickered with long-stemmed

tulips; scrubbed the smell out with wet wipes, but the window

dust streaks stayed – ancient, unreachable. i brought

good faith, the bed with a broken board, the big chair. what i left

is gone in a van, under varnish, to pieces.

 

last spring, out of the taxi with two suitcases

and three boxes, i dreamt of permanence. now i know better.

or worse. it`s just seasonal heartbreak, perfumed

with sweat, lindens and earth after rain. tout va être correct.

along every street cabinets, chairs, soft worn sofas wait

to be rechosen. all these chance meetings.

 

i cross st joseph holding traffic, holding a writing desk

above my head. my new roomie finds an armoir coin Gilford

et Chabot, and guards it til enough passer-bys have stopped to help

push it home. for me. more plants, rug, plastic hangers, the cat

and the laptop`s unison purr. and suddenly here`s everything

again, even absences carried over, vivid-shimmery, dancing

like lights above treasures.


eastern nest

iulie 11, 2011

1. ‘eastern nest’

(eating sunflower seeds on the back balcony):

c: this is very eastern. why don’t canadians eat sunflower seeds?

m: we are very eastern, look in our fridge: balkan yogurt, russian jam, homemade armenian chicken…

[…rose water…]

c: i know! look at our house: crap all over the place, dripping pipes, bathroom ceiling falling in…

 

2.centipedes (because of the bathroom flooding, my no.1 fear was that we’d attract centipedes, since they love humidity. m. argues that one has to face their fears and get information on them)

m (on the phone with her friend): can you please call back in 5 minutes? my roommate and i are googling pictures of centipedes!

 

3. construction workers

3.1. m (wearing white bloomer-like shorts with a rose pattern): so i went to ask the workers for a hammer. i hope i didn`t look like those ditzy girls you know, ‘sorry guys, can i have a hammer pleeeease?’

c: were you wearing pants?

m: oops. oh my god.

 

3. 2. construction worker, looking at the dripping pipe in our kitchen – all of a sudden: t’as tu déjà fait l`amour à un voyou?

c: (bursts out laughing)

c: is this for real?

m (sitting at kitchen table): oh, you understood what he said? i was like, oh god, i hope carmen doesn`t understand that.

construction worker: (grinning)

 

3.3. c: you know we`re gonna miss the workers when they`re gone.

m: yes, they keep us company with their noises, and make us feel safe. they`re like our eight big brothers…

m: …badass brothers!

 

4. fish (veiltail/fantail goldfish – melanie had one, freddie, and we just got a baby, sasha)

aquarium is covered with a blanket

c: why did you cover the aquarium?

m: to isolate them – they must be so stressed, with all the changes and the mess around here.

c: and you think they`re not freaking out when you lift the blanket all of a sudden and stare at them?

m: i was trying to just take a quick discreet look.

m: oooh, they`re socializing! they`re touching!

c: very nice – you put the light off and they immediately start touching.

m: maybe…yes, if they get together, they`ll lay eggs! so we`ll have caviar!!

m: but that wouldn`t be right, sasha is still a child!

 

5. chinese astrology (you do not even want to know!!)

c: wow, you know what i just thought? the fish`s chinese sign is the cat!

m: ow, cutie!

 

i really don’t know what to say. days are adventurous, full of paint (hopefully it`s over now) and of sunshine and what else? russian, and entertaining books and eating random stuff and talking a lot. it`s like holiday camp a bit, but we should get down to achieving stuff. i`m really relieved that i painted my room, 2 white walls and it completely changes the vibe to the place. i`m too excited to sleep early – or maybe this is what summer is supposed to be like.