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


these pangs

octombrie 10, 2011

a quote to convince you to read „the rehearsal”, by eleanor catton:

(or maybe just read the book, even in spite of the quote):

” But at the same time, the feeling is shot through with a kind of sadness,[…]a bittersweet and throaty sadness that sits heavy in my gullet and i can’t swallow it down. it’s like i know that i am losing something; that something is seeping away, like water into dust. and it’s a weird idea, the idea that loss – the massive snatching tearing hunger of loss – is something that doesn’t start when a relationship ends, when she melts away and disappears and i know that i can never get her back. it’s a feeling that starts at the very beginning, from the moment we collide in the dark and we touch for the very first time. the innocence of it – the sweetness and purity of it, the shy and halting tenderness of it – that is something that i am only ever going to lose.”


writing about learning russian

iulie 30, 2011

i read this book that i liked a lot, sometime this spring – beginning of june, i guess – i started it on a cold rainy weekend, amidst some stress, maybe that`s why it made so much PERFECT  sense to me. the book is by caroline adderson, it`s called ‘the sky is falling’.

things this book can be said to be about:

– vancouver!!! the house the heroine rents in is on trutch! and she studies at UBC. so many places and things where i jumped up and gasped as in ‘i was there!’

– the ’80s, the Cold War. this is what the title refers to. of course i know nothing about that, because i`m a)too young, b) from the other side – but for the same reasons i`ve always been curious. though it still sounds very abstract to me. i can`t understand what people were afraid would happen. nowadays we have global warming, and our brand of terrorism, and a response of permanent terror is still weird.

– first love / considering lesbian attraction. what the narrator`s thoughts and feelings and problems are is so removed from sex and couplehood that it endears her instantly. and she`s 20. mmm, i was like YEAH  all along, although of course i realize she didn`t uphold herself as a standard of normality.

– and the name of her love object is sonia. i giggled about it and couldn`t help telling sonja. vancouver and sonias, it`s a thing!

– RUSSIAN. now we`re talking. although this could be split in 2 parts: the literature one and more importantly, the language. i don`t care enough for chekhov, on which the narrator is writing her thesis…but book-wise, at some point, she develops a short theory about kitty`s attachment to and fascination with other women in ‘anna karenina’. on the other hand, language….maaaaan!

i know more russian than her now. which is totally beside the point. the author admittedly speaks no russian at all, and did all the insertions in the text with the help of friends. but the sense of adventure in starting the study, of the doors it opens and the mysteries it entails, and how, without knowing at all what you`re doing you can go around renaming each object automatically – this is so well written. i don`t often envy people for having STOLEN MY THINGS  and written them down, but this is it; one of the cases of, damn, i should have written that, not her. i don`t even mean the whole book, just the interwoven language parts. i realize also that for westerners russian has a different sort of mystique than for me (although i`m questioning that now a bit: it can`t be that different. i come from the west of this language too, and was too young to suffer OF it. if anything, my take on it is americanized, as compared to my parents`…..).

anyway: i have been there, done that. the russian learning. the impressing-people-with-the-strange-alphabet-i-can-write; the letting-them-think-i-am-more-fluent-than-i-actually-am; the instantly-translating-things; the doing-my-homework; the wonder of language acquisition which i had been unable to theorize with either the english or french while getting the basics of them.

the narrator doesn`t choose russian; i don`t even think she says she likes it. she just ends up taking it, passively, where russian is a metaphor for…everything: for the age and times she grows up in, for the actions and plans she gets dragged into, and the general atmosphere – the ominous thrill of it.

so yeah, in spite of the not-so-plotty content, i loved this book from cover to back cover and am recommending it warmly. not only it gave me a huge russian-learning boost, it re-sparked my reading interest and, again, made me miss vancouver.


the iceberg

mai 18, 2011

i went through a stage where i almost stopped reading. i was rereading „the brothers karamazov”, but that’s a totally different matter. i just find it so hard to be interested in anything  now…the escapism bit is tougher and tougher to achieve. well this was the book that did it this time…i don’t know what next…:

tove jansson – ‘a winter book’. a collection of short quasi-autobiographical bits, mostly from when she was a wee kid, lots of them from her holidays on an island. she is apparently more well-known for ‘the moomins’ cycle of kids’ lit, but i’d never heard of her before. this is ‘the iceberg’, a 4-page story:

„it was green and white and sparkling and it was coming in order to meet me. i had never seen an iceberg before.

now it all depended on whether anyone said anything. if they said a single word about the iceberg, it wouldn’t be mine any longer.

we got closer and closer. daddy rested on his oars but old charlie went on rowing and said: „it’s early this year.” and daddy answered, „yes. it’s not long since it broke up,” and went on rowing.

mummy didn’t say a thing.

anyway, you couldn’t count that as actually saying anything about an iceberg, and so this iceberg was mine.”

so at night she goes out of the house, armed with her dad’s torch, and gets back to see it:

„even before i got to the field by the shore, i could see the iceberg. it was waiting for me and was shining just as beautifully but very faintly. it was lying there bumping against the rocks at the end of the point where it was deep, and there was deep black water and just the wrong distance between us. if it had been shorter i should have jumped over; if it had been a little longer i could have thought: ‘what a pity, no one can manage to get over that.’

now i had to make up my mind. and that’s an awful thing to have to do.

the oval grotto with the grating of ice was facing the shore and the grotto was as big as me. it was made for a little girl who pulled up her legs and cuddled them to her. there was room for the torch too.

[…]my hands and my tummy began to feel icy-cold and i sat up. the grotto was the same size as me, but i didn’t dare to jump. and if one doesn’t dare to do something immediately, then one never does it.

i switched on the torch and threw it into the grotto. it fell on its side and lit up the whole grotto, making it just as beautiful as i had imagined it would be. it became an illuminated aquarium at night, the manger at bethlehem or the biggest emerald in the world! it was so unbearably beautiful that i had to get away from the whole thing as quickly as possible, send it away, do something! so i sat down firmly and placed both feet on the iceberg and pushed it as hard as i could. it didn’t move.

„go away!” i shouted. „clear off!”  ”

thank you, tove jansson, for miraculous writing. finding this book effectively made my week.


this spring

aprilie 2, 2011

via branch/alex l.: http://www.branchmagazine.com/

‘gardening’, by stephanie bolster:

 

„under the foxgloves, worms. a white/gleam writhes, cut, under the shovel.

what i doubled multiplies down there/below what i thought i made good.”


via sugar@the rumpus:

martie 21, 2011

http://therumpus.net/2011/02/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-64/#more-72607


love is in the air

februarie 14, 2011

this pretty song was playing in a boutique in my neighbourhood where i stop frequently to visit the dresses i can`t afford. consequently, this is all that`s in my head today.

it`s still snowing i think (it did the whole day, but at some point it`s supposed to turn into rain). i have pineapple crumble in the oven, i`m just saying it because it sounds good. i won`t tell you how it tasted. and i`m reading julian barnes!!! after years and years and years i dared get close to `arthur and george`- and guess what, it`s good. well in the quaint and well-raised julian barnes way, but i`m pleased.

so i visited the old-skool-craft-fair for st. valentin`s today, & st urbain and st viateur. smaller than i had thought (duh, it was in the basement of the big church). lovely things that were too expensive for me:  various cards and prints with/of montreal places; felt flower necklaces and hairbands (sonia z., you could so start a business!!); knit jewelry, i.e. mostly hairpins and brooches. i was looking for a toy-rabbit but i see there`s not much chance of finding one in good time. anyway, i bought a small button – a sketch of 2 ppl in cosmonaut gear, embraced/kissing while floating in space (huh there are specks i`m assuming are stars), with cute oxygen tanks and all. yeah count on me to overlap the romantic meaning of a phrase with a literal cynical or whatever reading of it.

anything is a metaphor for my love life. also i can`t wait to have a dog: i`m naming him cosmos.


ok, books:

decembrie 31, 2010

this is the last post this year. verrry rushed. just because i used to do it, and i don`t want to really stop. books i read this year, which meant something to me. huh there aren`t many, so i should be done in time to not be late for work (also: i have a cake in the oven. literally, alright)

– linda svendsen, `marine life`.

– agota kristof, `le grand cahier` (i read this in french. it`s an awesome book to get started into french with.)

– sherman alexie: i`m on a roll of reading everything i can find by him, with highs and lows.

– joyce maynard – `at home in the world`- talking about non-fiction. i don`t even know whether liking the book means i`m taking her side. it`s just one of those things that get to me, and make me think of more stuff.

– lorrie moore – `a gate at the stairs` – i was taken by this book in a totally inexplicable way. i realize i should probably have hated it all: the vagueness, the pretension, the persistence of things-that-have-nothing-to-do with me as topics (see what a sophisticated reader i am or have become), but no: i loved it. it pushed a button, it touched something in me, and i`m a bit pissed i haven`t yet figured out how that works.

– gary shteyngart – `absurdistan` – so annoying at times, so funny and etc, laughing-crying – relating at others.

– aleksandar hemon – `love and obstacles`. i`ve kind of decided now that i want to be a. hemon when i grow up. yes it has to do with the eastern european perspective, why do you ask?

and then, there are some blogs i loved. two of my favourites of this autumn/winter:

http://tigerbeatdown.com/

i.e. sady doyle, to whose level of feminism i aspire.

http://www.thestylerookie.com/

i.e. tavi gevinson, who writes about fashion-from-salvation-army, with pictures – and is 14. she would hate that her age is once again mentioned as focus, but okay. i`m in a hurry.

my cake is done. it`s too sweet, and i still burned the bottom a bit.


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:)

http://deepad.dreamwidth.org/29371.html


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.