or: „a crazy person with a pink paint can at midnight”
i tried to catch up on sleep time today, so i woke up all woozy from a nap around 10 pm. i go to the kitchen and melanie says, it’s chinese new year! the dragon is coming! we should celebrate! and she gets more and more into it: but this place is a mess! our entrance is all blocked, that’s bad luck! we should sweep and mop and take our shoes from there! we should put something red on this wall, for good luck and money etc. to which i’m like ok, i have some balloons! so i start blowing up balloons. melanie mops the hallway, i sweep, then she brings out the can of red paint we’d had left from painting in summer. ha! she mixes it with white, so the result is a…peachy pinkish smth. i’m sure it has a name. the initial idea was to do red stripes on our entrance walls, like columns…in the end, by midnight, we have two thick pink stripes, and assorted balloons. i think the dragon came, took a look, and started tearing his hair out. good times all around.
or: „a crazy person with a pink paint can at midnight”
i need structure to function, even if i understand moods. i think it’s BECAUSE i understand moods. plans are my safety net, and this shows again and again in my daily schedule, on holidays, and in writing. i am convinced that i’d collapse into chaos otherwise and i’d simply give up on doing anything, so i need to know what goes where, because i always anticipate and fear disruption. cue the following things about me that you may have noticed:
– seasonal depression (easier when i know it will be there)
– memory re: birthdays and other days
– getting mad as hell when making plans with someone and then they drop it. i never drop plans. ever. so it just feels unfair and leaves me hopeless.
and i mean at this point it’s not a problem of myself changing in order to become happier. it’s just one of making myself understood quicker/functionally.
so it is important to me how i finish/start a year, because i am a firm believer in all that crap: even years SHOULD be good for me AND it’s the-year-of-the-dragon (good!), BUT i also need to: not be alone/feel hopeful and jolly/have a story about it.
i humbly acknowledge that these things can’t exactly be planned, and therein resides their beautiful madness. i can say that i’ll be at X party with persons Y,Z,W…but i have no idea how the night will go and what tiny signs might be sent for me etc. (did i know that a dog would bite me first day of ’05? that i’d cry disgracefully over NOTHING at a friend’s party in ’09, surrounded by friends? ugh rhetorical.)
what happened this year was this:
– i was supposed to go to somebody’s place and i was dropped 2 days before due to change of plans. annoyance. so i got stuck 🙂 with my roomie, i.e. she got stuck with me.
– we had a possible other invitation, but we decided to go out on our own and check out parties.
– dress up as ourselves! epically, cartoonishly ourselves. i had braids, pompom hat and fuchsia pleated skirt. we had wine and a jar in my turquoise bag.
– (getting on the bus with the jar-of-wine in hand, and a guy standing by the driver thanks us for using public transport tonight! 🙂 )
– st-laurent mainline theatre: slowdancing night. we arrived there right around midnight, got our champagne and the last dance card (dance card!!!) and were talking on the sofa when we realized that midnight had come and gone. I LOVED IT! the first year i can remember without countdowns and hysterical cracker bombs, where the passage was harmonious and no fuss, it just made sense.
– then we danced. i danced with my roommate, with two girls in boy suits, with a boy in an evening gown, with a series of other boys, one of which was a dancer. we knew the lyrics to some of the songs, some others i heard for the first time. it felt good and very montreal. i felt my body protest, my joints ache (old lady) and i did pirouettes to show off my skirt.
– then we walked home around 4 a.m, hungry and all. clearly it’s going to be a year for physical exercise…or something. texting. tarot. departures. more kind strangers.
i found this song in a ’11 retrospective playlist (of course) less than one week ago, and am still playing it obsessively. i am so excited every time i actually start giggling nervously at the ringtone (see/hear below). i even had a discussion session w my roomie to try and figure out why this particular song has gotten to me so strong and quick – i am ashamed a bit when this happens: with people, with stuff…she just says, well, it’s a good song with a good video…there are lesbians in it…and masks – of course you like it.
then this morning i got it: this song is literally (i still don’t have a lyrics transcription but they’re easy to hear. especially if you are bilingual) about depression/procrastination. it speaks to me clearly every morning as i gather myself up to get out of bed and at the same time collapse under theguilt of finding everything/anything too hard or senseless to do. it takes good rhythm to get through to my apathy, it takes a breezy sound. i liked that the first direct message was that of lust. i liked the french insert, and the rapping. but in the end what i get out of it is me telling myself „gonna bust it out/ gonna work it out”. the voice of a different me trying to get back to me, blah. i could write a 10 page paper about it but i think i’ve made my point.
two days ago, drinking red wine in bed and twirling my dirty hair, i had the same hazy realization I KNOW i’ve had before: that subconsciously i am aware that things are fine, which is why i’m allowing myself to liminally wallow in this light pool of despair. except when i try to grasp it, it slips away, so in my day to day from a point on i sigh, put one foot after the other out of bed and start doing my minimum. here:
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”
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
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
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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
alternate titles to this post:
– „i just want to post something i wrote at some point, so there!”
– „it’s not a personal blog until it gets embarrassing”
– „if it’s embarassing, you could’ve at least made it interesting”
– „the most non-feminist thing i wrote this year”
proceed with patience.
He asked, where did you get this from? On a bench in the Botanical Garden, full summer, my head in his lap, him playing with my necklace. The containment of his voice told me it wasn’t the first time he’d noticed it, just the moment he’d chosen to bring it up. There’s Cyrillic on the back of your cross, he said, tracing it with a fingertip, and so I jerked upright to look at the cross, as if for the first time.
I didn’t remember when I’d gotten it or started wearing it on the silver chain along with other good luck omens. It must have come from my grandma, I said. No, she’d never been to Russia – but maybe it’s normal for Orthodox crosses to have Cyrillic on them? No, I didn’t know: I’d never thought of it before. Should I have?
I’d carried these tiny signs against my skin for years, my fingers flying up to touch, my eyes at times obviously registering the letters – спасиисохрани – and my mind still not wondering what or why. He said it was a traditional religious phrase: Sauve moi, garde moi, and I retranslated into English instantly. We scramble all the time between English and French with detours into Romanian or Russian. Sometimes this still strikes me as strange, sometimes it’s just what we do.
We were in love, and that was supposed to conquer all. I hadn’t believed that for years, and I had to start believing it again. Save me, keep me safe. I liked how the words were related, yet the concepts diverged: there’s nothing safe about salvation – the leap of faith, the break with old routines. This love of mine, although changing me deeply, was also bringing back things I’d thought forgotten.
When we’d met he’d asked, and by that time I already knew I liked him, so where are you from? Nothing special, everybody asks that. Of course he was Russian (his tone spelled “of course”, and I approved), with his accent and his Slavic face. And me? I think there are no typical Romanian features, except in retrospect, I said, and to that he smiled even larger: oh, you’re Orthodox!
As a child I went to church with Grandma every Sunday, kneeled in the women’s pew, sang along, examined the aged ladies’ faces and memorized details on the icons, the old bronze and fading colors. I read the Bible like a story book, painted Easter eggs, tidied family graves in the cemetery, sang carols at Christmas. Then it was over just like that, a thing that only makes sense in context. I’d been a social Orthodox the way people are social smokers or drinkers. My grandma’s village was far away and was dying.
After I met him I had the impulse to try that again, be a believer all the way. Not having stepped into a church in years, there I was looking them up on the map of Montreal. I turned up a Romanian church a few blocks away from me and went one early summer morning. It felt like back home, all the indescribable reasons why I’d gone away – so half an hour in I turned back and left – fume of candles, sweat coated in perfume, bent silhouettes in their Sunday best and fragments of my language trailing behind. I didn’t tell him this. What I told him was: religion is just the golden aura surrounding its culture; my Orthodoxy is not exactly your Orthodoxy. We have different Christmases, different New Years. Romanians abandoned Slavonic in church service, we abandoned Cyrillic a century and a half ago. We are a small nation, bending with the times. And me, I’m neither this or that, neither here nor there. It broke my heart a little every time he said he understood.
Save me, keep me safe. I used to say my prayers every evening before bedtime. To consider missing that would be as disturbing as saying I miss home. I wrote to Grandma to say I’d gone to church, and to ask about my little silver cross. She wrote back to say she remembered. The village priest had brought her the cross from a pilgrimage to a Moldavian monastery forty-something years ago, and she sewed it in the lining of my father’s overcoat. She found it years later, while mending his broken pockets, and put it aside for her grandchild, me, not yet born.
People here in Canada say wow, that’s a nice chain. Some touch it on impulse, sifting the metallic cluster through their fingers. I’ve had some remarking I was a Christian, with satisfaction as if this reinforced their own faith, which I don’t mind. But the moment he pointed out the Cyrillic, a current of recognition and panic crossed me.
Spasi i sahrani. I saw myself standing in the pew at the Russian church in Nowhere, Ontario, and someday in Some Other Place, Russia. I would have Russian Orthodox children, I who had run away would be anchored again in a family and tradition, and this felt like something I wasn’t equipped to fight. Salvation and safety was in starting from the words.
Language has always been my territory. I moved in the world dancing among phrases and grammar structures, not expertly but in awe. I’d gotten English and French and been enamoured with each in turn. It made sense that my new love would manifest through a language so particular and akin to religion.
A new language probably happens less than a new city, less than a new love in the average person’s life. That day I went online to learn the Cyrillic. These days I’m taking Russian classes and learning extra with textbooks and CDs. He’s in Toronto now, his voice in French over the phone barely real. I don’t know what will happen with us. But built inside the Russian I’m acquiring there are permanent undertones of love, yes, and prayer, yes, and housekeeping.
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To : Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities of Québec
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 ___
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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.
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