vancouver says goodbye…to summer

august 26, 2009

– 2 days at wreck beach- one swimming and suntanning with lora, the other a picnic plus hardcore gathering blackberries w/elena &sonia

– when i was the most *heartbroken* – 2-3 afternoons, straight off work – i’d just go to jericho and sit next to a log and watch the ocean and try to write. one day i had a huge coffee thermos. omg, energy drink buzzz, by the way!

– sam , on and off commercial one sunny day

– sandwiches and milkshakes with yael&co. on their ‘porch’

– salads and indigequeer shorts with lora one night – walking alone downtown at night, never fails to…impress me. it’s so alien.

– twilight. with e. and lora. and commentary by ovidiu online

– romanian dinner w/ nadia at ‘transylvania’ restaurant. haha, i couldn’t have left without it. (also, when nadia returned from europe she was *accidentally* on the same plane/almost same class w/ matt damon!! i freaked out!!)

– planning. forever smiling and planning. explaining to people that i’m not sad. except i’ll have to give a lot of books away. oh well, bygones

– following: goodbye parties (trying not to think about) aaand my last US trip for a while. what’s not to like??

no reprieve

martie 10, 2009

1) i’m supposed to house-sit this (i.e. coming) week, i.e. approx. ‘move’ to commercial drive. ok, so it feels pretty odd. last night i was trying hard to fall asleep, and (of all things!) missing my bed back in cluj  (not the bed per se, probably; the  unique, single-minded, proprietorial?? dunno – way that i used to curl in there, under the covers, in my ‘dias  del mes maya’  t-shirt), feeling the sky loom very close. you know, just the idea that that is gone.  that is gone. then  today it snowed. then it got better, but still freakin cold. the sun glinting through windows, onto the walls, at 7 p.m. feet flailing in the air in the yoga studio place across the street from sonja’s.

2) i’m supposed to graduate in may. i’ll say it again: i need a new title. ok, that’s not all i need. i need to rewrite parts of the damn thing. but, bottom line, i am allowed to graduate, and so it shall be it’s over – you know? – over; and time for the „so what will you do next?”; i mean, i can’t even be angry when i get asked that.

3)i’m writing a story about new york. it’s an odd thing. my past and my future and what i want out of places, and how expectations confront…well, observations. i’m pretty sure everyone who’s listened to me speak on the topic has an idea bout what i mean (which is probably better and more luminous than the story will turn out, IN CASE the damn story turns out at all). anyway, i want to mention miranda july, the DNC, the 9/11 commemoration tiles, brooklyn social, the red hook waterfront, maybe even the hungarian pastry shop – i mean, why the hell not. anyway, this is what i’m occupying my mind with in order to distract myself from…you know, the other things.

4) the other things.

reading in ’08

decembrie 18, 2008

i’m doing this in questionnaire form because i found out i couldn’t do it in a comprehensive, full-sentenced manner. i think this year kind of sucked reading-wise – not that i didn’t read a lot but most of it was a) on buses; b) while i should have been writing; c) when i didn’t have access to the internet. and probably the last bit explain’s [* !!! DID I FUCKING MAKE THAT SPELLING MISTAKE!?!? I DON”T CARE THAT IT WAS 3 A.M.!!! SHAME ON ME, FOREVER1 I’M NOT EVEN CORRECTING IT, IT SHOULD STAY THERE AS REMINDER. AND IN A POST ABOUT READING!] a lot. it’s totally obama’s fault. well, it’s someone else’s fault than mine. anyway, this is a personal list, duuuh, it means i chose from among what i read this year; it does not mean that any of these books is fresh on the market or ‘should’ be relevant to the general public in 2008, for any other reason than because i tell you it’s good.

1. BOOK OF THE YEAR: philip roth – ‘american pastoral’. (i’d read roth before, and been annoyed by him, so this is singular, and exceptional. i like a solid historical/cultural foundation to a book, i love an abrupt ending as opposed to a rounded, tied-up-with-a-bow one, i adore a twisted bigger-than-life character. it simply touched on some favourite obsessions of mine through time – and it happened here, now. )

2. WRITER OF THE YEAR: richard ford (spring), haruki murakami (fall). i had planned to read murakami for a long time now, and i went through 4 of his novels. being in a murakami book is existing within a universe where anything can touch you, and from where you will emerge subtly changed. by contrast, ford is as real to my mind as a blow to the head – and i mean real and blow in the good way :)).

3.GENRE OF THE YEAR: i’m not sure if short story is its own genre (duuuh, it’s not) – but it deserves to be. i read enough collections this year as to realize i hadn’t really done it before. or not to this extent. ford (‘rock springs’), annabel lyon (‘oxygen’), alice munro (‘open secrets’), lorrie moore (‘birds of america’), and i know i wanted nancy lee’s collection a lot but didn’t get it. i used to only read stories in magazines or anthologies. which brings me to the brilliant thought that maybe the feature of 2008 is the ‘author collection of shorter pieces’.

cause if you don’t accept that answer, i would have to answer ‘non-fiction’. i definitely hadn’t read much non-fiction before. and among other things this was definitely a joan didion year („the year of magical thinking”, but also „slouching towards bethehem”) and, surprise! a slavenka drakulic year. who’d have thunk?

4.TREND OF THE YEAR: a)eastern-european blah: kundera, klima, drakulic. b)a vague, but yet unshaped, tendency to try out comics. c) ??? (this is a shitty rubric, i don’t know exactly what i meant by ‘trend’)

5. WRITER I ENVIED MOST THIS YEAR: miranda july ; rachel k.

6. WORST-TIMED READ OF THE YEAR: reading irving’s „prayer for owen meany”, which is an amazing book, while i was busy thinking of other stuff. also, i finished it quickly, because it’s so good and because i was stressed, which probably means it won’t influence me much.

7. WORST READ OF THE YEAR: robert kroetsch- ‘what the crow said’. i read it because it had been recommended in class, against my better judgment that was telling me not to force it, because some stuff just isn’t for everyone. i should have given it up on page 10. i won’t even say it is bad, it probably isn’t. to me it was unreadable.

8. GOOD ANNOYING READ OF THE YEAR: ondaatje – ‘in the skin of a lion’ and muriel barbery- ‘the elegance of the hedgehog’. they were recommended books, which i knew i’d discuss with people afterwards, and which i had to bring myself to making sort of a case against. during which i, of course, discovered that i couldn’t have gotten so passionate if those books were plain bad.

9. LITTLE GEM OF THE YEAR: paula fox – ‘desperate characters’. (j. franzen’s recommendation)

10. MAGAZINE ISSUES OF THE YEAR: love love love: Granta 47 (‘losers’), Granta 77 (‘what we think of america’), Mcsweeney’s 26 (‘where to invade next’). also, please observe the titles, in case you hadn’t.

11. BOOKS/AUTHORS I ABSOLUTELY WANTED TO READ THIS YEAR AND DIDN”T: nancy lee – ‘dead girls’, david foster wallace, cormac mccarthy, the autobio of malcolm x.

12. ANYTHING ELSE? hellz yes. this year i met 3 people (2 of whom i don’t know well at all and 1 of whom i probably don’t even like) who in my judgment (mostly mean and harsh, no?) deserve to become known at least continent-wide simply on account of talent. not bad, i think, for the future of literature or whatever. it will continue to get written.

happy post

noiembrie 26, 2008

this post has been commissioned by john, who gave me a ride back home from the end-of-semester party about an hour ago – thankyouthankyou – and said i should have a happy entry here. so, since the following one is bound to be miserable/melodramatic, sure, why not? the very act of me sitting at my window desk a little past midnight still dressed up (facebook and rahmblr), sipping on cocoa milk (after 2 beers, and an uncountable amount of cupcakes, pie slices, donut bits, cherry candy, merengue pieces, homemade cookies, tarts and muffins eaten over the past 2 days) writing this, is meant to reassure everyone alive about my undeniable happiness. i actually came across this happy phrase to describe my autumn ’08: ‘carmen’s north-american adolescence’. just look at how everything’s turned out: school is out (i work 6 days/week), i’m planning holiday (i.e. there are more options, haha), i’m reading GOOD literature and in the mornings i’m flirting with construction workers. ‘fun times’, a canadian would say – they do say that a lot, usually as a filler. which tells you exactly how much fun the times are. so this is my happy post.

as compared to last year’s party at thea’s lounge, UBC (memory, my permanent flaw): everyone is familiar. i can probably hold drinks better. obama is president. but most of all: i know for sure i’m not going to spend my december locked up in a basement with no plans, waiting for half-strangers, yet or already, to deign me with a sign. but happiness is about the small things, symbolic dots on that background of security. i’m happy to have talked to that person, happy to have lived that night, happy to wish that. i smile on a quasi-permanent basis and use big words flippantly.

climax of my year 1: kill ana

noiembrie 9, 2008

this week. monday, nov. 3. not kill her for good, but kill 30% of her, you know which: the too-obsessive, the repetitive, the overlapping, the monotonous. this is a novel. it IS a novel. but now you have to hone it, i’m told. a book (maybe i am not told this, but am suggested it) is not a recording, but a suggesting of stuff. and since it’s a 3rd person, multiperspective, you’ve already given up staying with ana 50%. i’m not even sure, steven says, that this is ana’s story. this is five people’s story, and they have to tell the story together.

this is my story. i have to kill ana. not for good, but 30% of her – the bad part. you know which. i know ana is likeable, steven tells me, and you know how i know? because those other people want to hang out with her. so there’s no other way for carmen now (nov. 2008) but to like ana, therefore to change ana, change herself. otherwise the novel will not be…will probably not be. so it’s down to „own your power”.

but i see it as a kill.

obviously i see it as a kill. but now i know i’m going to do it.

squillions of lonely ideas

octombrie 30, 2008

(h/t to yael and sonja)

– i don’t want october to end. it used to be „my month”, the golden time, the month i would’ve liked to be born in, (just because that would make me a libra instead of a cancer? maybe). and in october all things still look possible. the beauty (starting with the light and the leaves) is closer to splendor than decay. november is clear and harsh on the spirit. it does sound so good though .

– i love it (not) when in the middle of assignment deadline times a NEW idea for a new story, a totally unrelated, what’s-it-doing-there idea pops up and sticks in my head, but then when the deadline’s over becomes more immaterial, elusive and stubborn. this one is at the stage where it only shows up, for a few minutes, when i load dishes around noon. hmmm. what to do to coax it?

– it’s a cluster of happenings: hallowe’en – day of the dead – lukas’/elena’s b’day – elections. (i don’t want to count my thesis meeting in yet). i keep thinking. how important and lasting in my memory this time last year stands, although it never seemed so at that point. obviously.

– i think my restraint so far this autumn has been admirable, so now i get the right to say i HOPE they vote obama on tuesday. and i am scared.

– people apparently want me to write/submit/blah-blah. i get a feeling that my maureen class might take off to better feelings. and/but i’ve got so little time. it’s got to be one of these days, as always, when i say look, carmen, this is the plan. and i’ve got no words to formulate how scary that is.

– amazing anecdote, via maureen, from a flannery o’connor short story: there’s this philosopher lady living in the countryside, in this amazing landscape, but she notices nothing around herself because her life is so much just the ideas in her head. then something happens to her in the story, and at the end she looks and discovers there’s a stream flowing in front of her house. which she hadn’t noticed before. it made my day.

– i want to have a post exclusively on „parties and gatherings”, but it’s still a mystery for me how to approach it. the basic idea is my tendency to fix myself onto one person and make a whole dozens-of-people event about that one person and how wonderfully i interacted (flirted?) with that one person. a bit disquieting. really.

when life was good

septembrie 19, 2008

terry was my classmate in playwriting last year. always nice, of course, and also watched „4,3,2” and liked it, but it’s not like we really, actually, talked. i wasn’t trying hard enough to be a playwright (or maybe it was that in that class i could see the starkest differences between people whom the genre suited, and those it didn’t). and terry’s work that i saw was an adaptation and a fragment of an idea. but it did (or i think it did) give me a feeling about what a film by him would be like. and it’s surreal that i’ll be able to go and see it in a cinema. i remember last winter when i borrowed a copy of subterrain to read meghan’s and mike’s stories published there. yes i am damn proud. and today, just seeing the cover of WE on cafe tables all along main and the drive, it felt good.

first of all, it’s a brilliant title. (no, first of all, it’s terry’s movie at TIFF, and coming to VIFF, dammit!!:)) second, i’m glad of any documentation of vancouver, of any type, that i can get. even if at points, and lora can confirm it, it may seem like vancouver-based literary pieces annoy me, they fascinate me all the same. mostly because this place seems to me so ungraspable, so i’m curious what vancouverites make of it – if its ungraspable-ness/airy-ness is a real characteristic or, obviously, it’s just me whining.

third (did i mention that today was so typical vancouver? cloudy but not cold, not raining either), walking on the drive and wondering, when WAS life good? i mean, the phrase is ironic, isn’t it? i remembered someone telling me „you have a very rich, intense interior life” – 7 years ago, of course – and how i took it for a compliment at the time; one of the small appeasements i was referring to. but today i understand it as being told to get a life – a real, exterior one, if y’all know what i mean.

planet awkward

septembrie 14, 2008

this is the title of the book lora&i are going to write – a social guide to lesbians travelling in romania and confused eastern europeans in vancouver; an idea mostly inspired by last night (we watched ‘transylvania’ with elizabeth and drank horinca) and tonight (queer readings at rhizome, featuring among other ppl michelle and shana from my class). needless to say tonight was full of lesbians. but i still have zero, well close to zero, radar for that. and i’m going to stop writing about it, because i’m tactless enough just only talking about it anyway:). it’s hard to discuss how good the readings were (they were good!), me having an obvious UBC bias, but the last reader had a ‘found poem’ called/ or rather themed „what’s your problem?”

so back to our book, lora&i are trying to roadtest it with this quiz called „what kind of a shy person are you?”, to which if any of you would offer to respond i would be delighted. and tomorrow i am apparently painting walls at someone’s place, no guarantees about what THAT project will result in.

cellist follow-up

iunie 13, 2008

i keep trying to post links and it comes out all wrong – i don’t see why… anyway, the cellist in galloway’s book is mad at the book and at galloway. which on the one hand does make for good publicity, though i refuse to believe this is exactly what steven had in mind. (it’s funny that i should be thinking about this now instead of packing for new york…or not?) my first reaction when i heard that smailovic wanted to burn his cello in protest was „galloway obviously can’t handle eastern europeans” – but honestly: why the cello??? isn’t that a negation of the stand he took during the siege??

but honestly, look at my life and reactions: aren’t we, poor us, just desperate, fantasists, building up far fetched narratives in our minds just to have them knocked down by reality and then suing said reality for it? there’s nothing logical about smailovic’s being angry at the book, as i see it, it’s just that he is a man who always TAKES STANDS.

at this point in my observing things, i doubt communication is possible, or useful. i doubt galloway should have even tried to have the cellist sit down and agree to discuss the terms of the story. no. it is the cellist’s gesture; it is galloway’s freakin’ story! (but don’t ask him to read it and agree that it’s well written)

you know what this is about. it’s about a life’s struggle, about what you’re trying to mean as a human.

asphalt soaks up wine

iunie 8, 2008

i was at yael’s new housewarming, a good party. i was so glad that sonja made it from her island (btw she’s promised to track down this blog so now i’ve got to censor myself from all directions, wtf?) and christy was there (christy looks like my former student naomi, she does) and joan. also, yael&birgitte’s housemate elizabeth is friends with elena, so elena was there too. it will take time to accomodate with the idea of my UBC and SFU favourite-ppl groups overlapping, but as i said: vancouver is a very small place, so nice people are bound to find each other in the end.

on thursday there was a poetry reading downtown, and that was the first time i had my UBC colleagues onto one side, and the SFU on the other. to me it felt bizarre, and yes too much at once, and you know how greedy i am about (not) sharing friends, because who else but me can really really appreciate the people that i like? oh well. and so it goes. i sat with lora, but then i ended up walking back to broadway with elena, telling her about la conner and about ‘why obama won’ (honest to god, she asked me about it!!). so then me and elena were kind of emailing back and forth on writing-related stuff, and then wham-bam, she was there last night.

so we left the party together, and were walking to main &10th, and laughing hysterically- we’d just come to the conclusion, somehow, that the skunk smell does resemble the smell of pot, and i was like, how do i make the difference then? elena had her bike, and her bag on the handle, with a book and a bottle of wine  she’d brought back from the potluck, and you know what happened next: she just stopped to mimic to me a skunk that had entered the vestibule of her tent on a trip one night, and the bike reclined, and she just let it go, it thudded in the grass but i had no idea she had wine in the bag, and she’d forgotten about it too. (and no, we weren’t drunk!). so next we prop the bike up and the wine just goes whooosh all over the street, it was red wine, okanagan i’m thinking (?), which just made us sad. in a weird way, because the night was ending, and because only then we thought we could have just sat right there on the grass and drunk that wine ourselves. it smelled good and strong in the air, along with the other pot grass cricket skunk smells, and i think now, if i go back tomorrow to that spot, will a trace of the smell still linger? the contours of the stain, i’m pretty sure, will.