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.


chinese new year

ianuarie 23, 2012

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.


the emotional planner: chasing a good vibe

ianuarie 2, 2012

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.

anyway:
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.


and song of the season/year:

decembrie 20, 2011

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:


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.