Thursday, December 20, 2007

more raves about some recent faves

don't know if it's my catholic upbringing but i find that the whole ritual of threes creeps up in my life from time to time. most recently i've being going through a bit of a sad spell and have sought solace in three sources of entertainment, all of which have hit that emotional sweet spot i was looking for.

the first was my last entry about lars and the real girl (the part where he takes his new girl to his favourite spots and reveals his hidden talents...loved!). the second was re-watching eternal sunshine of a spotless mind. again, lost souls colliding with awkward and poignantly lovely results. the third is a novel given to me by a friend that she'd heard good things about-three day road.

the novel is about a couple of native men from Moose Factory and their experiences in world war one. apparently it's loosely based on a true story. the protagonist is a quiet guy who translates his hunting skills into being an incredible sniper. his counterfoil is a childhood friend with a flair for storytelling and killing the enemy. while both are side by side during decisive victories, only the louder of the two gets the credit. the pairing of the evils of war and the character's personal journeys are beautifully crafted and intimate. as an extrovert, i appreciate any opportunity i get to get into the mind of someone who feels deeply but says little. was also surprised by how much i loved all of the war related aspects of the story. have never really gravitated to war stories before.

so there you have it. three recommendations for those who like to dwell a little in their funks before they move on to the brighter side of life. also recommended for anyone who just enjoys good writing, be it on the screen or on the page.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

lars is so real, you forget the girl

every year around this time i do a little research and start seeing all of the films that are receiving oscar and golden globe buzz. i figure if my entertainment chat shows are going to be referencing them all of the time, i need to know where i stand.

first on my list was lars and the real girl. i loved ryan gosling in half nelson and tried to get tickets for it at the film festival this year but was unsuccessful.

was pleased that the film lived up to my expectations that it would be muted and introspective. looks like it was filmed in southern ontario. immediately recognized the landscape and many of the extras. one of them lived in my residence at university!

ryan's character is incredibly complex. he's chosen to play him in a quiet way with quirks that aren't distracting. he doesn't speak much in the film but his eyes speak volumes. you can read the backstory he's developed in them, fill in the blanks of his silences on your own, so clear are his gestures.

the film speaks to loneliness and emotional neglect beautifully and honestly. it's absolutely heartbreaking to watch.

hope he's recognized this time around. can't imagine how draining it must have been to film. really seemed to embody the character fully.

go and see it if you can, just be prepared to sit with it emotionally a little while afterward!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

art imitates life

don't you love it when there's nothing on tv and you flip throught the channels and land on something on a whim and it turns out to be the most riveting thing you've seen in months?

just got home and the office was a repeat so i turned to tvo thinking there might be a decent documentary on. i was rewarded in spades.

to my sheer delight, they were showing a film called forever which documented random people visiting pere lachaise cemetary in paris. having spent innumerable hours in cemetaries myself in my visits to paris i was instantly intrigued that mine was a common obsession.

the director would focus on a tombstone that someone was maintaining or stopping to visit and we would learn about their personal connection to the person whose tomb it was. it was fantastic! most were artists' tombs. it was incredible to see how a piece of art (song or painting or film or poem) touched people so deeply that they felt a need to come and honour the creator. amazing how a shared idea can bring people close, connect us in such a powerful way.

i loved hearing the stories, witnessing the reverence and value of ideas and of beauty. loved, too, the way that local women with no connection to the deceased made it their personal responsibility to maintain the graves. thank god there's a little bit of old school reverance still humming in our communities. such an important role to play.

am always struck by this when i go to paris. the historic coincides with the present. it has an equal place in the esthetic of the place. it's all around you, breathing still. am also perplexed by the two faces of the coin this inevitably reveals, the bloody past and the beautiful exteriors. how can a society that was merciless and murderous also produce exquisite objects of art? are the two intertwined by necessity?

as always, was mesmerized by the people in the film and their stories, equally as compelling as those of the people they held in such high esteem. so great to see the graves of the common man acknowledged and explored. found myself drawn to these tombs as well. the little ones hidden in the corners, names almost indiscernable. like the people in the film, my experience in the cemetaries of paris was peaceful and positive. rejuvinating even. felt more spiritually fulfilled there than i did sitting in either sacre coeur or notre dame. feel as though you are dwelling in the paris of your romantic imagination in a visceral way.

funny how something i thought was unique to me and my sensibility was directed back at me through another's lens. incredible to see such a private experience the subject of a film. can't help but feel like i've been winked at by a secret society of sorts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

variations on a far too popular theme...

and for a moment,

the breath went deep

and stirred



instantly animated and tinged with tingles

here was hope

a crazy cousin, sweeping through town on a bender.

she hummed and sang and unpacked a few things

ruffling a few feathers along the way.

"too loud", "too soon", cried the neighbours.

hadn't she received an invitation?

wrong again, apparently...

Sunday, December 2, 2007

in the zone

i am many things but an enthusiastic housekeeper is not one of them. in my mind, weekends are for sleeping, not sweeping. after a crazily paced week where i am picking up after 29 ten year olds all day, the idea of coming home and rolling up my sleeves to give the floors a good scrub is just not one that lingers too long on the radar.

of course i do laundry bi-weekly (though i have stretched that time frame by buying some extra socks and undies on occasion...) and keep on top of dishes but the big stuff, the hands and knees, get into the corners and dust the knick knacks happens when i've created a situation where it would be socially unseemly not to have floors that you could eat off of. i call it, the christmas party.

it's the one time where people will literally be hanging out in every square inch of my apartment, where they may sit on the floor, where they will likely use the bathroom, where new found friends are getting their first glimpse of what my nest looks like.

aside from the cleaning factor, the party allows me to look forward to picking up a new piece or two for the apartment. gives me an excuse to change my bedding, to buy that curtain or serving bowl that i've had my eye on but couldn't possibly rationalize spending money on at any other time of the year.

having given myself carte blanche to indulge today rubbed off on all of my errands as i galivanted about town. in one store i found four christmas gifts that were perfectly suited to their recipients! everything i found was in my price range and matched my vision. very rewarding. hard to explain to someone who dreads's like a zone that you can only tap into once in a blue moon. typically, the moment you get a sense of what you want or need it somehow magically disappears from the shelves.

all told i got six christmas presents, two curtains, two serving plates, fantastic decorations for my fireplace and half of the food for my party this weekend!

so thrilled was i by my retail successes that i rushed home and hung the curtains and three pictures i've been meaning to get around to, wrapped some gifts and put away the groceries.

and on a sunday no less!!

it's been a good day, this. a good day.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

baby boom

ironic, my last entry was about death and this, about life...

don't know if it's me but there seems to be a baby boom going on. everyone around me seems to be sporting a baby on the hip. incredible to see my friends become mothers. to watch them find their way. amazing that despite the sleep deprivation not a one is snarky or crusty. not one has cloistered herself up in her bedroom.

once again i am awed by how amazing women are. how strong, how hard working. am so inspired by the open, let's just take it as it comes kind of attitude. amazing, too to see in the most concrete of concrete ways, that a living human being sprang from their loins. biology is truly incredible. so crazy that a piece of them will literally be walking the earth after they have passed on. pieces of their personalities and mannerisms will spring forth in another.

am encouraged by the role the men in their lives are also playing in this crazy ride. very hands on and openly affectionate. informed and involved they too have bonded with these micro versions of themselves.

am so not there yet. am tired for them. feel the weight of the responsibility whenever i am around them. see the way that time and energy almost dissolves in their presence. hope that i will be as strong, as brave some day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

lessons in loss

one of my student's parents died yesterday.

she's one of my best and brightest and is probably one of the most well adjusted people i have ever met. i look at her all the time and marvel at her abilities and the ease with which she navigates through her life, balancing it all incredibly well.

i was dumbstruck upon hearing the news. felt personal, felt the weight of it deep in my chest. understand why they call it shock. it is shocking to see someone one day and within a matter of hours know that their entire life has just drastically shifted direction.

literally felt the hand of some higher order being tear through the heavens and rip up the pathway by its foundations.

felt like i was suddenly living in a novel. this was the kind of thing that you read about. i was in the middle of witnessing a seminal moment in someone's life. one that would come up later in therapy, in her choice of mate, in that quiet part of herself that is herself.

it was insane. it was surreal. felt the intensity of the impact as though it were happening to me.

felt myself mourning the life i had imagined for her. found myself worrying that this might somehow thwart her confidence, her balance that has so inspired me.

of course these are my projections and fears. being the person she is i'm sure she'll do and be all of the things that she was meant to.

find myself gobsmacked by the randomness of it all. talk about a rug being slipped out from underneath do you cope, how do you just keep on keeping on, as they say...

found myself welling up with tears throughout the day, thinking about how she'll likely take it in stride and soldier on, worrying that she won't allow herself the luxury of grieving, of unravelling for a little while ...again, projections...still, hope that i say the right thing, that i will be able to support her in a way that is somehow helpful.

so want to protect her somehow.

kids were great, let me cry my tears, shed a few of their own out of compassion. wrote some incredibly sensitive things in their cards. we shared our experiences of death with one another, our fears, regrets and sadness. felt comfortable and natural. hope i was able to help.

know that it's said you can't predict the future with any certainty but never truly believed it. this is my first real brush with some cold, cruel evidence.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


ever been so pissed at someone that you literally feel sick about it? kind of like acid reflux but more queasy than prickly?

had a confrontation with someone friday that had my blood boiling. he's got a bunch of his own crap going on that has spilled over into my life and threatens to jeopordize something that is, at the moment, the only thing keeping me going.

hate it when other people's agendas blindside you. hate it when something that was your safe place gets tainted. there are so few stress free things in my life that when drama rears its ugly head, i feel defeated in its presence.

to top it all off, the drama included this person's critique of my abilities. he didn't know who he was messing with. i haven't worked for twenty years to be told by someone having their own crisis that my sense of my own skills is somehow naively misinformed.

hate being condescended to more than anything else. hate not being taken seriously by guys with the same/less experience that think they know better.

hate that i saw through his passive aggressive bullshit and lecturing, and posturing and attempts to preserve his image as the good guy and let him have it straight up. hate that it was me that looked the bad guy for calling him out on his calmly presented crap.

what's with that anyway? not the first time i have met the 'want everyone to think i am good so i do my manipulating in a more muted, highly crafted way to disguise it' guy. i have so much more respect for someone who is who they are all the time.

anyhoo, blood's boiling again and know for a fact that i am the only one twisting here in the wind...

oh to be able to be pissed off and release it to the source without getting it splashed all over day...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

kids say the darndest things

dont let the title fool you. what follows is not an account of a corny kiddy quote, the likes of which used to appear in reader's digest.

no, this is more of the where the hell did that come from variety.

i was teaching a grade four class music and was doing a preamble to a remembrance day song i had prepared.

since it's also holocaust awareness week, we're going to touch on it at our assembly on friday so i wanted to give them a bit of background so that it wouldn't catch them unawares.

so when i announce that in friday's assembly we will be addressing the holocaust a young girl smiles broadly and says yes!while making the arm pump movement that humble pro atheletes make after scoring a goal. i look at her, perplexed, and continue. so i go into a spiel about how a powerful, persuasive politician named hitler only wanted people that looked like him and believed what he believed to be part of his country and how he segregated those who he didn't like...blah, blah, blah, and as i am mentioning the groups that he persecuted the same girl pipes up, proudly "and black people too, right?" (her mom is black and dad is white and mom has her go around to classrooms to do black history month psa's all february long) when i told her no, she looked confused and deflated, suddenly losing interest.

oh multiculturalism, where have we gone? what a strange thread we have woven...

anyway so after that little detour i mention that we're also going to focus on the contributions of women during the first two world wars . i explain that while the men were away at war women had to keep the economy going and entered the workforce in large numbers for the first time, marking a significant change in the options that were available to them. from out of nowhere another girl puts up her hand and says that she saw a movie called edward scissorhands where all the women stayed at home to look after the kids and they all had the same houses and dressed the same.

it's precisely these tangents that keep things fresh for me. never know where an introduction to a song will lead you. i went in planning to teach a sombre verse about uniting for peace and ended up talking about how screenwriters and set designers will exaggerate aspects of the truth to make a point.

good times. good times.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

hooray for halloween!

don't know about you but the older i get the more i grow to love halloween.

for the past six years or so i've looked forward to dressing up and shopping for a costume. my friends have started throwing parties and for the most part people have responded to the opportunity wholeheartedly.

so much fun to play! i've never been into makeup much but look to halloween as a chance to experiment with false eyelashes and outrageous colour. bought a hair extension to try out this year. love it! one of the benefits of being a girl.

i think it's the chance to glam it up (or ham it up) that i love. as a performer there's something i inherently connect to in playing dress up. love to allow myself to feel more confident in a pseudo self. to push that envelope to a place that my everyday self is just inches away from actually trying to pull off.

noticed that i'm not the only adult that's into the whole dress up phenomenon. was walking down bloor last week and found myself shoulder to shoulder with a sea of zombies. there was a scary film fest at the bloor cinema and the moviegoers were all decked out in their finest bloody trenchcoats. the get ups were really fantastic. the makeup was incredibly realistic and obviously well thought out. definitely not the result of a last minute glance at the closet to see what you could throw together.

there was a real pride in their gothed out faces as they marched down the street in droves. they really owned these alter egos and wore them comfortably. as geeky as i think it is, there's also a part of me that kind of respects the creativity they put into their gear.

guess suits are a sort of costume too when you think about it. just don't seem to notice it as much as such.

hope you give yourself permission to stretch your limits, even just a little, tomorrow. enjoy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

oliver love

how much do you love jamie oliver?

fantastic grin, cute little lisp and dishevelled little kid like locks.

since his first show as a young pup whipping together recipes for his mates before riding off on his moped i've been hooked. have followed him on his journey from school dinners to creating his own restaurant, to giving down on their luck kids their own restaurant.

he's a visionary fuelled by passion, committed to change, and undefeated by obstacles. am constantly amazed at the way that he repeatedly makes time for those who have let him down. rolls up his sleeves when things run off the rails.

love the patience, the reverence for those he admires, his thirst for knowledge and respect for those who he feels he has something to learn from.

as an idealist myself it's comforting to see someone finding a way to make it work. it can be done.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

girl interrupting

played my regular friday night gig last night and had an odd visitor.

we're in the west, queen west neighbourhood which is a true mix of the uberhip and those living on the proverbial edge. as a result we sometimes find ourselves in some rather bizarre situations where the clientele does a little more than smile and nod when showing their appreciation for the music.

we were about two hours into our set and the table of rocker chick lesbians directly next to us seemed to be having a wonderful time. couples on first dates and a huge party at the back that were celebrating a birthday were enjoying one another's company and clapping intermittently when one of our tunes really hit the sweet spot.

then a woman in her early thirites came in. she entered the restaurant determinedly and chose a spot one table away from where we were. she put down her back pack and looked in the mirror on the wall beside her, fluffing her weave, on its last legs from what i could see quite vigorously. all seemed fine at first. then, when she got her glass of wine, we saw that she was having words with one of the waiters who then sent for his mom, the owner. her actions became more animated and she started searching through items in her bag. she then got up and started wandering around, randomly striking up conversations with people as though she were at a cocktail party. people looked at her strangely but she was undeterred. she wobbled a bit as she wove through the tables and eventually made her way to my chair, just next to us.

she was directly in my line of sight as i sang a slow and sad number called "i'm a fool to want you". it's a moody piece that usually gets people's attention and quiets the chatter. at first, this woman closed her eyes and swayed a bit as i sang. a smile spread across her lips and she threw her head back bursting into a fit of laughter that came straight from her belly. her shoulders were shaking and she covered her mouth as she laughed, having the time of her life.

we stared at one another with one of those "what the hell is this one on" kind of expressions. since i've been with the band we've had more than one brush with craziness. a couple of months ago a guy walked in off the street from the patio doors and plunked himself down at the piano while we were in the middle of a tune and started to play, only to get up and leave a couple of bars later mumbling that he wasn't as good as we were. a while before that a woman, drunk and ornery and convinced she was a diva got up and pushed me out of the way while i was singing,she was endearing at first but i really had to strongarm my way back in once her efforts had simply become embarassing.

shortly after her laugh attack, our hair flicking social butterfly started swatting in the air at insects that weren't there. so it was drugs, then we said to ourselves. after trying to high five me with her pinky at one point, she then tried to get out the side door where our trumpet player stood to get to the waiter she'd been following around the restaurant. she almost knocked over a chair and practically fell into the door. so sad.

after a trip to the washroom she abruptly left the restaurant and the owner put her belongings outside.


was a really attractive woman too.

strange how her presence made the atmosphere prickly. how her energy was like a glow that buzzed around making everything else in its wake seem eerily still. no one knew where to look. we were sharing a space physically but were living parallel rather than intertwined moments together.

uncomfortable to see someone's pain and unravelling so up close and personal. was like a collective holding of the breath.

when she was gone the energy redistributed itself again and before long it felt as though she had never been there. as though the incident had already woven itself into a memory, into the compendium of crazy nights we've accumulated along the way.

wonder which parts of the evening she will remember. wonder what brought her to us of all places.

must have been the music. so powerful. immediately connects the disconnected.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

a snub, a quest and a step into a parallel universe

my hair was at that still looks ok but is kind of scraggly near the ends phase so i decided to take the afternoon and stumble upon a salon i'd never been to before and get it cut.

normally a haircut wouldn't be fodder for an aimless adventure but a recent negative experience at my ol' faithful, house of lords, caused me to taste what was out there before i'd line their wallets with my hard earned cash again.

essentially, i walked in for a cut, which usually takes about twenty miutes tops because they have so many staff there, and waited for an hour and ten minutes. why wait so long you ask? well, the place was busy and there were about five people there when i arrived. i really wanted the cut so i was willing to wait forty minutes if necessary. in between magazine articles, i'd glance up to see how things were progressing and for the first little while things went as i had predicted. familiar faces of those who arrived before me were served in sequence.

then, walk ins from the street started getting served.

i caught the eye of the apathetic, gum chewing, magazine page turning receptionist and made a "what the fuck?" kind of gesture at her. she blew me off. i let it go because one walk in was a family of young boys. i figured they got in cause they'd be a nuisance if they waited too long and that boy hair was faster to cut than girl hair and better to use up one stylist for a family than a whole row...

when the third walk in (and 8th person in the room by the way)was served and seen by the stylist i normally go to, i approached the desk. am i even on your list? i asked. that guy was just served cause he had a request for someone specific, she replied. so you mean you let me sit here for an hour because i didn't ask for someone specific? how many more people were you going to let past? i demanded. she rolled her eyes, shrugged her shoulders and stared down at her appointment book, sipping a slurpee. i was furious. nice, i said staring at her, my words venemous, nice. i then walked out vowing never to return.

now, while boycotting the place feels like the just thing to do, it also put me in a situation where i'd have to pay a bit more as a consequence. it's tough to find a place where a long haired gal such as myself can get her locked shampooed, cut and lovingly blown dry for thirty two bucks.

i decided i would look at it in a positive light and take it as an opportunity to treat myself. i've been working really hard and could use some pampering. i told myself i would be willing to spend sixty bucks, tip included. so i went to queen street and started walking. went to civello thinking it'd be perfect. i hear they even massage your hands while your hair is being cut. loved the smell of the place, too. sorry, said the chic looking greeter, we're all booked up today. undaunted i turned back about a block to a small place my sister had been to before and said she'd liked. all three stylisits were busy but one, gorgeous young asian girl with peroxided hair that looked gray with black roots told me that if i was willing to wait a little while her top stylist would be available. his fee,one hundred dollars. yeah, not so much.

so i continued down the street toward john. a couple of years ago i had an up do done for a friend's wedding at a salon on the second floor of the starbucks building. before i crossed the street i looked upward and discovered the salon had been taken over by an internet cafe. foiled again! seems to be happening a lot on queen. its character has completely transformed and new businesses that aren't chains really seem to be struggling to stay afloat.

out of luck or leads, i made my way to a streetcar stop near spadina. thought i would go to a place i remember seeing just before trinity bellwoods park that has a mork from ork kind of chair in the window. one of those tres chic places with no name on the front and a white shag rug in the interior.

as i was standing on the platform i looked at a sign directly across the street for cooney hair design. was a cool looking cut on the sign and from the street the second floor salon area looked chic so i thought i would check it out. better to try this than go further west and be told it'd be a million dollars again.

as i mounted the stairs i wondered if it was open, could barely hear a sound. as i entered the salon, a sea of asian faces greeted me. this is remarkable not only because i am a white woman and am not used to being in a minority, but because toronto is so diverse that it is unusual to be in a room with only one kind of ethnicity represented. they seemed as shocked to see me as i was them but after the initial hang in the air moment passed, i was told that i could get a wash,cut and dry for forty five dollars. sold.

a young, hip guy approached and indicated that i sit down. i told him what i wanted and he just nodded. then he held up a chunk and motioned that he wanted to do something to it. realized he didn't speak english but loved his style so just gave him the go ahead and hoped for the best. was strange. so much of the hairdresser experience is about the small talk that i felt a little awkward without it. the other clients, also asian, were silent as well. thankfully there was a beatles album piping through the speakers to distract me. the room itself was open and clean feeling with black and white photos of asian models in large frames cast against bright yellow walls.

was a great people watching opportunity. loved the personal stamp everyone seemed to have put into their outfits. there were cowboy boots, sequined shirts, layered looks and luis vuitton bags. marveled at the level of artistry involved and wondered if it was a cultural thing. arts are hugely supported and practised in many asian countries. wondered if this was the link. then wondered if was being ridiculous. wondered if most people just walked around in what was comfy and available like the average canadian. these are probably a sampling of cool elite that exists in any culture. they did leave their home country after all, doesn't that already suggest a certain kind of personality and income level...

was so happy to be finally getting my hair tended to and to be surrounded by so much style, i let him cut off more than my usual two inches. felt liberated, carefree (it's all relative :) ) . amazing how the world opens up and new possibilities emerge when you are relaxed and comfortable and being pampered.

long story short, i like my hair and am glad that fate prolonged the experience enough to let me land in an interesting spot to have a transformation made.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

it's lonely at the proverbial top

so, i have taken on a new position of responsibility at work. am really passionate about the currciculum development, mentoring, create workshopy part of it but want no part of the part that has me doing anything administrivi-ish. got my first taste of it today and left feeling empty inside.

while my vp and principal were out at a workshop i was left to hold down the fort per se. this required being in the office and away from my students. it was bizarre. i was looking forward to my reading lesson and had hoped to really finally sink my teeth into my focus for the term.

felt guilty as i handed over my plans to the supply. felt like i was copping out of something. since it was a pretty quiet day, i had little to do save try to keep the traffic out of the secretaries' hair so they could get their work done. brought some busy work that had been piling up on my desk but felt wrong to be somehow granted extra prep time that nobody else was getting. (of course i also put in a whole whack of extra hours other people don't to prepare for the duties the role requires but my brain isn't quite wired to actually give myself credit for this just yet...)

as my students walked by the office on their way to french i found myself missing them. i wanted to be where they were. knew instantly that i didn't belong in an office with a big desk and a jar of lollipops. didn't want to have to make decisions about indoor recess or where the ed assistant should go. didn't want to sit with a screen and a hundred emails. wanted to be in the room where the magic happens.

so strange to experience a separation anxiety of sorts where my students were patting me on the back for what they thought was an accomplishment of some kind and i was looking at them like i wanted them to take me away.

wasn't that i was scared or intimidated by the responsibility, just wasn't where i wanted to be spending my time. hope that it doesn't signal a trend of where this role i thought i signed up for is going to go...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

chicks that kicked ass

volunteered at a muay thai kick boxing match today. it's a form of fighting that's as popular as hockey in thailand but is new to north america. a friend of mine started learning how to box in this tradition a couple of years ago and, when she noticed that there were a number of women in the city who shared her passion for the sport, decided to create an opportunity for the women to fight competitively.

was a fantastic day where i was inspired by the way that all of the women involved kicked ass. the organizers rolled up their sleeves, put their heads down and had the place ready to go about 3 hours ahead of schedule. they were organized, resourceful and efficient. bumps in the road were met head on and resolved.

the place itself, was gorgeous, the postering in the neighbourhood effective and the presence of media wonderful. couldn't believe what they had accomplished on their own schedules, on top of their day jobs. so inspired by the way that they saw a need that needed to be met and made it happen.

the guys i worked with, security, soft drink promoters, tattooists, sat around alot, chatted in corners and were for the most part biding their time until their shift was over. to be fair, it was likely just one event among many to them but still...

was given some time to see a couple of fights near the end of my shift. this is where i was completely blown away. the fighters, all whom i had met earlier in the day, sweet, down to earth, friendly transformed into real champions. they entered to their own theme music and met their opponent with confidence and grit. they threw punches, kicked, kneed, elbowed, like nobody's business.

at the end of the fight, when the winner was announced, it was incredible to see the women smiling from ear to ear, hugging their opponent, winners embracing losers and whispering words of encouragement to them. interesting to see all of the aggression just left in their corners when the headgear came off. so admirable.

though my role was a small one, was still glad to have been a part of it, holding my own in a crowd of kick ass chicks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

cult of personality

don't really think about the power of personality much except when i'm faced with a negative one. am finding myself pleasantly surprised by the positive power of personality in the form of a barely four foot kid with a big grin and an even bigger heart.

he's an odd little guy who can read people and situations like nobody's business and has a way of relating that is so honest and unfiltered it's a little unsettling. when i called out a student for misbehaving he commented "you tell 'im miss". Later, when he was stuck on a question that i had already reviewed and he was still stuck on, he refused to let me go on without him, saying "wait a sec! i'm not ready. you're the teacher,right? you have to teach me first" it was priceless. he was well within his rights but few ever advocate for themselves so directly.

he's one of the ones who always remembers to say hello and good morning. seems a small detail but it's truly a dying art. so civilized and, well, friendly. it's a personal acknowledgement that helps to constantly remind me that obsessed as i am with curriculum, these are three dimensional people i am dealing with. love how it keeps me on my "remember the big picture" toes.

what's even more incredible about this particular character, is that his spirit is such that struggle as he may, he's always the first one with his hand up to give things a try. so inspiring to me, this ability to risk, repeatedly. the ability to take things in stride, not to take oneself too seriously. pretty impressive thing to already have under control at such a tender age.

like a great documentary or a story about a friend who has done something incredible with their time here on earth, it's moments like the ones i had today with this little life force that help to refocus the proverbial lens.

Friday, September 21, 2007

surrounding myself with who i want to be: putting a philosophy i read on a classroom poster into practice

like most women on the planet, i find myself watching oprah from time to time. last year on one of her shows she featured a panel of people who co wrote a book called the secret. while i found myself cringing at the mystic corniness of it all, i stayed tuned long enough to hear something i had instinctually understood for a long time, that when you focus on the good and surround yourself with positive people, good things will start to happen.

sounds straight forward enough but it's actually harder to achieve than it sounds. especially as a woman. in almost every staff i've been a part of, every workshop i have attended, every gathering of women who've just met, i have noticed that one of the ways that bonds are formed is through the act of complaining. we put the misery in comiserate. in trying to support one another through rough times by listening to one another vent, we almost don't know what to do with ourselves when times are good.

trying to find happiness, then, means that we have to separate and go against the grain in our peer group. i paid for this in my teens when i wouldnt befriend the bitch and sought out friendships outside of my immediate circle. paid for it when i would side with administration because i shared their desire to invest my energy in finding solutions to problems by trying something new instead of shrugging my shoulders bemoaning the things i couldn't change. paid for it when my enthusiastic approach to take on a new initiative threatened the naysayers who don't like change.

all last year i was frustrated by the fact that the reading i was doing and the workshops i was attending which inspired me to blaze a new path in my work was met with disdain and animated opposition by my peers. feared that the vision that was within my grasp would fizzle before it had a chance to spark.

when i took the time to listen more carefully however, i found that there were some others who were frustrated by the negative, defeatist attitude in the room. found that, to my surprise, i wasn't as alone as i thought i had been. found that it just so happened that the same people who were on board intellectually were the same people who i admired on a personal level. liked the way they lived their lives.

after having struggled with trying to come up with a strategy for change that would appeal to all, we decided to go it alone and devote our energy to engaging the minds of those who were open to change.

had our first meeting today and was thrilled to hear suggestions, ideas and solutions being bandied about rather than quips and complaints. such a simple solution. surround yourself with people who want to be there and things will happen. we already have a clear cut agenda for the next two meetings!

am realizing that finding happiness is not so much about rejecting what is bringing you down as it is seeking out what will bring you up.

ironically, just as i was leaving work today, a skip in my step, inspired by the potential that lies ahead, i was faced with the two key naysayers who've actively tried to sabotage my efforts, they made a dig about what i was trying to accomplish and disappeared into their room, glaring oh so subtly.

wonderfully, it didn't phase me at all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

where is richard krause when you need him?

it's film festival season in toronto and i am up to my eyeballs in work so i haven't made it out to see anything yet.

undaunted, i found solace in the fact that i could still get my star sighting fix by watching the rushes on reel to reel. it's an annual tradition i have where i settle in on my couch and lose a few hours watching the stars and directors speak to the creative process behind the work and recount the behind the scenes comaraderie they experienced. i'd even have a pen nearby to write down titles of a movie i wouldn't have otherwise given a second thought.

so you can imagine my frustration when, day after day, i have searched, in vain, to get my cable sponsored festival fix and come up empty. i've scanned hundreds of channels at different times of the day, tried to look for info about where my precious friends have gone in festival literature and NOW magazine.

it wasn't until today when i was watching et canada (something i never do) that i heard a host say that i could catch the rushes on bell express vu on some crazy, have to pay extra for it channel!

it's just so wrong on so many levels! this is supposed to be the people's festival! the easy access to it on rogers cable with our cheesy but reliable reel to real hosts and the cheap chairs and cardboard backdrop was charming and inclusive. made it all seem somehow more artistic and earthy, an opportunity to get a sense of what is was about the story that inspired a group of people to come together to tell it. hate that this has been lost to a pay per viewish environment.

come to think of it the schmooze was weird too. not the same now that the ctv crowd usurped the city tv crew. didn't even try to collaborate, the old faithfuls were nowhere to be seen, and on their own turf!

guess this is one of those instances where bigger isn't translating into better.

hope you've had better luck this fest. and please, if you've found a way to see the rushes on normal person television, for the love of god, let me know!

Saturday, September 8, 2007


sitting here watching an episode of mtv's the hills and am loving every minute of it.

in fact, i love it so much that it's provoked some cause for concern. what could a thirty four year old woman such as myself possibly find entertaining about watching a gaggle of blonde socialites bitch about each other while squinting through oversized glasses, poolside?

after a lot of searching (felt compelled to rationalize it somehow so that i could look at myself in the mirror in the morning) i've discovered that, at its heart, it's one of the only true representations of female relationships ever put on film. all of the nuances are there. the loss of a friend to another clique, the loss of a friend to a boyfriend, the support of a friend when said clique and boyfriend dump your ass. the pep talks, getting together to get ready before going out, the shopping trips,the awkward conversations with the acquaintance your close friend has brought into the group and you just have to tolerate,the deconstruction of a date the night before.

refreshing to see more of the whole story told. that teenage girls stress as much about their friendships as they do about guys. that there is a constant jostling of power and that insecure girls travel in packs, giving power to mean girl leaders. that standing up against a wall of followers at a party or in the nail salon requires courage and nerves of steel.

from a distance, it's fascintating to see the power of gossip. how it's another character in the story of how it is diseminated, how it destroys. really is the thread that runs through all of the drama for both the girls and the guys. it's the last taboo that's been untouched by the pc gods. the one sin it's ok to indulge in.

interesting to see the girls be charmed by the bad guys just as you yourself were at some point in your life. find myself cringing as characters go down the path that as an older, wiser viewer, i know will only end in disaster. kind of like the sick experience of being drawn to watching an accident and its messy fallout.

guess part of the interest comes from the fact that i am a teacher and see these machinations daily at recess and during group work. seems that cat fights are as old as the hills themselves (pardon the pun).

so that's it. my rationalization for a developmentally inappropriate addiction. not sure how i did. am sure that it won't stop me from tuning out any time soon.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

to the creators of "to sir...", with love

how crazy is this. i had just finished posting yesterday's entry where i mentioned the film to sir with love was a perfect thematic accompaniment to the day when i noticed that it was playing on tv!

it's one of the first films of the "bleeding heart teacher turns around a group of iner city youth" genre. typically, i shy away from these films as i find them hokey and derivative but this one has real meat.

sidney poitier is the star and it takes place in london's east end during the 60's(?) . the cast is ethnically diverse,echoing the true face of london at the time no doubt, but refreshingly, race is not treated with an after school specialish brush. any references made, though kinda cornily acted, seem fitting to the situation and aren't overemphasized.

poitier plays an engineer who took a teaching job as a means to make cash until he can find something in his field. he's seen some life so he's not intimidated by the unruly bunch and gets them listening to him in no time. what i found most interesting, and shocking, was the nature of the things that bothered him about the students, namely the girls. when chastising them for their behaviour, almost all of his comments about the girls centre around them looking like sluts. sluts! aside from documentaries on the women's network or episodes of degrassi, i can't think of a time when i've heard the word spoken aloud.

it was jarring. so personal. such an insult. mentioned things like, your sluttish ways will only keep a man's interest for so long. was so entirely inappropriate that i can't imagine how it must have played to an audience of teachers at the time. at one point he even asked a female colleague to come in and teach the girls how to apply makeup.

love the films from the late sixties and seventies. such great writing, such unique characters. you never knew where the story was going to go. was genuinely surprised by what came out of the character's mouth from moment to moment. a rare treat in the age of the formula film.

love the way they come to respect themselves, to expect more for themselves as a result of his influence. love the theme song too, as well as the video montage of the class trip to the museum. all the ingredients of a feel good flick that's not to sweet to swallow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

back to life, back to reality...

so i am a couple of days into the new school year and my desk is already piled with papers, four bins of work and sheets and forms are piled upon a table near my rocking chair. incredible. kind of like getting sucked into a vortex.

seems like they will be a good group. there's a great buzz when they work in groups and i've heard a couple of really thoughtful responses to my questions over the past couple of days. love to see the brows furrow when i push them to dig deep, love to see the hands fly up in the air when the penny does drop.

a couple of them have tried to carve out an identity for themselves by talking a bit louder than they should (when doing an art activity of symbols of things that are important to them one yelled, i like rap, can i draw a gun?) or by bringing in random toys from home to adorn their desks (one was a bobbing hula girl!). can already see who the pleasers are, who the gossips will be, who the task avoiders are,the lateral thinkers are, the ones who've not heard the word no very often...

my real challenge will come from a quartet of really challenging boys, two autistic, one esl and one add. have had to keep my finger on them and redirect them a million times already. requests for the washroom, destroyed and misplaced worksheets and trips to the pencil sharpener are coming at me constantly.

had a great lesson today introducing government. got into wonderful tangental conversations that piqued their interest (why do only citizens get to vote? if we evolved from animals, then when were the first kings and queens, did the cavemen just decide to become a king one day? is a governor kind of the same as a lord?...).i introduced it the way that all the good books tell you to and it worked. knew so much more than i had anticipated. could tell that they liked playing around with the vocabulary they hear peripherally, they like being able to talk about important things like politics.

my mind is spinning with all of the deadlines that loom, modifying plans for special needs, long range plans, launching my action research project, launching my professional learning communities, working with a student teacher, finding resources for the music program i'm teaching for the first time...also trying to take in all of the survey data i had them fill out and actually use it...

but i digress...all this to say, i am back in work mode and hope that i'll find my footing in terms of giving myself a life in between, sooner rather than later.

Monday, August 27, 2007

how a poster reduced me to tears: confession of a hopelessly romantic educator

one of the great things about being a teacher is that every year you get to reinvent yourself again. you have a blank slate on which to create a new self, assume a new attitude and have another, more informed go at imparting those crucial nuggets of learning that form the backbone of your programme.

geek that i am, i love attending summer workshops that fill my head with new ways to push the limits of learning. love reading professional literature that will help focus my ideas. love getting to select the colour of the walls and the arrangement of the furniture. love creating centres and establishing a vibe for the room.

among the gems i found at a teacher store today, (159 bucks later!) were some motivational posters. so great. kind of helped to get me in mode for remembering that it's more than just academics i impart in that room. here are the ones that made their way to my walls:

watch what you think, thoughts become words

watch what you say, words become actions

watch what you do, actions become habits

watch your habits, they become your character

watch your character, it becomes your destiny

another, accompanied by a visual of a dull pencil among sharp ones, reads

surround yourself with who you want to be

another, with a football player looking tired holding a helmet

never, never give up

my favourite, which i posted in a place of prominence on the bulletin board above the chalk board reads: enthusiasm creates greatness

was floored by this one. love it. love it as it pertains to my life and my sense of defeat at the naysayers who bring me down throughout the year. hope it will serve as a mantra of sorts for me, too, when i feel my positivity wane.

feeling lucky today. grateful that shaping an environment for personal growth is one of the things i get paid to do. love the sense of possibility that septmber brings. can't imagine the mental gymnastics i'd have to do to keep myself motivated if i were working at any other job.

am off to do some reading for my literacy program! hope you are finding a way to bring something of yourself to your work.

Monday, August 20, 2007

an affair to remember

much has been said of rage in our culture in recent years. films and investigative reports have focused on episodes of citizens gone mad in traffic, at hockey games and in line at the grocery store.

last night i bore witness to one such episode at the bloor cinema.

upon entering the theatre, my friends and i were still catching up with one another, animatedly sharing a story as we walked through the doors of the almost empty theatre,when a voice bellowed "gotta keep it down ladies, talkin too loud. gotta be quiet in here"

an older man with indiscernable features stood in one of the back rows, his belongings spread out across a number of seats, arms splayed across a couple of seats as he issued his warning.

we turned to one another,grinning,somewhat amused by the unexpected etiquette lesson and took our seats. this got us talking about previous experiences with noise nazis at the theatre. between us, we'd been on both sides of the fence at some time or another. nothing drives me crazier than a talker during a movie. i remember the first (and last!) time that i went to see a film at the rainbow cinema(chain of divey discount theatres). it was a screening of the passion of the christ and among my fellow moviegoers were children on booster seats in the back row, teenage kids on dates and a row of saggy-ass pant wearin' youth. while i knew i was in for a less than peaceful viewing i was not prepared for the pimplefaced savant to my right who read all of the subtitles to his girlfriend as they were posted to which she responded, "oh it's just like in the bible,..."

i remember thinking to myself...who were these people? did they really think no one could hear them?

anyway, back to last night...we were watching paris je t'aime, a series of short films by a myriad of directors who were each given a different neighbourhood of paris to serve as an inspiration for their film. not long into the film, our own personal mr. manners started to laugh inappropriately during the quiet bits of a moodier piece. then he started responding to the dialogue in french. his voice was a bit slurred sounding but it resonated loudly.

now the rep theatre is a different beast than a multiplex. patrons of these hallowed halls dig their flicks and have a collective understanding of the old school approach to moviegoing. you don't show up late, you get your snacks before you settle in and once the lights go down, you don't say a word.

true to form, mr. commentaire's contributions to the experience were not appreciated and a couple of voices replied "shut up" and "be quiet". this seemed to be effective and for awhile, his verbalization was simply comprised of louder than normal laughter to the funny parts.

now, the shorts were not all great. they weren't conventional in terms of narrative and some went in odd directions, had unresolved ideas. but, considering the number of shorts in the film, most of us were willing to endure the bad in anticipation of more good.

not so for mr. noisy pants. during a short featuring maggie gylenhaal he shouted "this movie sucks". some laughed but one guy boomed in a voice that screeched somewhat "shut up!". my friends and i were a bit taken aback. mr. noise repeated his displeasure again and the same guy yelled "shut up or get out". it was a guy on a lawn in a cops episode kind of yell that you don't hear in public often. it was full on rage. it hung in the air like a cloud, more dramatic than anything on the screen in front of us could have been. was odd to have this drama within a drama going on, very surreal, like edgy performance art.

anyway, the defender of the sanctity of the movie theatre's girlfriend seemed to sense that he wasn't going to let things go and she got up and left the theatre, we assumed to get management involved. in the meantime, a dialogue between the two where noisy pants started saying he wasn't going anywhere along with other slurred phrases with hints of french intermixed. we all sat there, tense, waiting for someone to intervene.

sure enough, moments later we heard mumbling and shuffling. he was being escorted out.

couldn't help but think about how stressed we all are and how scarily close to the surface the resultant quick to be pissed offed-ness it creates. know something of it myself, have almost taken out a couple of grannies on the left side of the escalator during rush hour in the subway. am always shocked by how visceral the anger is and how hard pressed i am to find a reason as to why it should bother me so much.

took about two shorts to get back into the film. odd to just continue watching as though nothing had happened when he had gone.

never wanted to talk during a movie so much in my life!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

crossing off all of my bullets instead of dodging them!

woke up this morning and knew that i was going to have a productive day. had an energy that has been stored in my reserves and made good use of it.

love these kinds of days. love making lists and crossing them off. love making decisions and seeing them through. love being mobilized and busy. (see ryan gosling doing crunches after weeks of lethargy in the film half nelson for best encapsulation of what i am talking about) in one day i: did my dishes and cleaned the bathroom, met a friend for lunch, bought a new bed, arranged for its delivery, got a duvet and pillows for it and purchased storage bins to clear out my pine chest that serves as my coffee table, bought binders and plastic report covers for my upcoming research project, caught up with correspondence, arranged my finances on telephone banking and made myself dinner instead of ordering out!

since arriving home from my trip i have felt a real urge to purge. as a highly aesthetic person, my visual surroundings have a huge impact on my mental health. really want to clear house, literally and reinvent my space so that it matches where i am mentally. am craving colour and space and more tangible traces of my recent experiences. i move every three to five years and am starting to feel the itch. love sitting with a drawer and sorting through its contents, filling garbage bags and boxes for donation. clean sweep is one of my favourite shows for a reason!

i have always been a collector of sorts. like to revisit memories through objects and surround myself with my own life artifacts. funny thing is, the artifacts have a shelf life that is determined by my place in the world. when i have big life decisions to make a makeover of my space usually follows. i remember taking great pains to bring all my posters and memorabilia from all of the shows i did i highschool with me to university. after a couple of months my personal landscape had shifted so much that i was almost physically ill at the sight of it whenever i came into my room. it simply wasn't me anymore and i felt fraudulent and weighed down by it.

life really is cyclical. really do need to slough off the dead skin every once and awhile to let the healthy stuff shine through. comforting to be propelled by it, to know from repeated experience that an upward spiral is paired with a downward one. thank god.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

a date with dylan

just finished watching don't look back, a documentary like film made in 1965 and released in 67 which follows Dylan on tour in england. am watching it because i want to give the guy a chance. once again am trying to round out my musical education and to see what the hype is all about. i have been able to appreciate his influence and his gifts as a writer but i just never really liked his voice or his persona. found him full of himself and off putting. couldn't warm to him.

the film is insane, in a good way. apparently the seminal film in the realm of cinema verite. camera to be able to pull it off brand new and style of being fly on wall also innovative. feel so close to all who are alive in the black and white and gray. get a very intimate sense of knowing them, love the small moments, the silences, the hanging out in between the snapshots of the scene they were in musically and historically.

bob himself if a bit of an enigma, both to us as viewers and apparently, to himself. speaks out of both sides of his mouth often, as twenty somethings do. is in one moment intense, waxing philosophic about nothing meaning anything, about him not being a folk singer, his lyrics, candid, astute, well observed and biting. in the next moment, he is reading and basking in, his own press, joking with friends, checking himself out in the mirror, toying with the power that comes with celebrity.

i loved the scenes with the interviewers. poor souls. bob absolutely eviscerates the poor sods. gave them absolutely nothing that they were looking for. turned all questions as opportunities to launch into lectures about their futility as a means through which they could ever hope to come to truly know anything about him. makes a great case for the ridiculousness of celebrity and the whacked way that people deify musicians, looking to them for answers to life's questions.

while i was impressed by his incredibly articulate arguments i was equally pissed at the little upstart. was being a real dick for the sake of being a dick at one point. showed no feeling for them and dismissed them as misguided idiots. again the two sides of the coin. the man that devotes himself to highlighting the social ills of the world is an asshole to his fellow man in his daily life. funny how want the words to do more than provoke. want them to be tied to behaviour and action so can fully fall under his spell.

of course that's the point i guess. that we are, human. that these are ideas after all. that if you want true change can't expect a prophet to make change for you. that idealists can't help but also be cynics. hard to look in the face of truth and not be daunted and defeated by it. keep coming back to this idea that we want to put a different face on things to make them more palatable. like the way that i struggled with france's historically bloody streets being so gorgeously maintained and beautifed, beatified.

was impressed by dylan's musicality. one scene where he was playing the piano. very bluesy and deeply rich. so musical that i feel like i got an answer to the question, why sing? why not be a poet? why choose to be a musician where you esentially do little more than just strum and strain as a singer. his ear was great, his taste, true, many scenes of him playing country tunes and bluegrass ditties he loved with joan baez. this feeling, this sound, full and rich, was driving him internally as he spewed through his own shaky instrument. now that i knew what he was hearing in his own mind as he played i found myself forgiving him his foibles as he performed throughout the film and started really hearing him.

find myself wanting to go and read lyrics to his tunes. am a fan of poetry and this is the real deal. images and phrasing so great. it's a kind of stream of consciousness that provides you with more of a paddle than most.

am rewatching it with the commentary as i write. so great. love the extra layer to the tale.

all in all i still wouldn't want to have him over for dinner but the guy had a whole lotta somethin goin' on.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

blast from the past

feeling lazy. have slipped into crazy sleeping habits and the weather, shifting between thick and humid and overcast is triggering my instincts to cocoon rather than to explore.

have been spending a lot of time on facebook lately. randomly plugging in names of old friends. so odd that in a few strokes of a keyboard that 3D human being who shares communal memories of a snapshot of your past, is suddenly present. by nature i tend toward the habit of closing doors once i have passed through them, so it feels a bit strange to be backward focused. am discovering, however, that, for the most part, i am re-energized by the contact.

had a pretty rough university experience emotionally, so my memories of the experience are pretty hazy. now that i have made contact with some people from that phase i find that new, more positive memories are emerging that got lost in my own biased translation. scary how powerful perspective is on shaping your sensed reality.

anyhoo, am loving seeing the different paths that people have taken. i have never been one of those people who draws inspiration from celebrity. my role models have often been people in my social or professional sphere. am so jazzed to see my friends take great risks in their choice of place to call home or in their pursuit of translating what turns them on into something that can also come with a paycheck.

the sobering aspect of taking part in the facebook phenomenon is that it brings the census statistics home in a very real way. bad enough that i am only one of three single women in my immediate circle of friends, with every new friend request i discover i am the only single (and childless) person in an extended circle of friends ranging from people who lived on my street to people who have ever taken a seat in a place of higher learning with me!

hard not to feel that you have missed the boat somewhere along the way. at the same time, have led a really full life. guess my trajectory has been more laterally focused than forward focused. ah, who cares. it is what it is. we all got where we are cause it was where we were ready to be at the time, right?

am also loving the way that chatting with the true friends after many years is simple and immediately intimate. tend to surround myself with people who know who they are and who live honestly. don't really see something like that as clearly as you can when there's been some distance. am grateful for it.

gotta run, am off to see a friend who's been on mat leave!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

home sweet home

it's just after ten in the morning according to my computer but it still feels like two in the afternoon. have been up since seven, a sure sign that my system is screwed. i am many things, but a morning person is not one of them.

am completely a stranger in my own home. it has only been a month but the objects in my home seem foreign and dulled somehow. i am tempted to get a garbage bag and completely sack the lot of it. it's the colours. my apartment is an art deco place with wood floors and dark wood cabinets, doors and trim. after the airy, luminous colours that were my visual palette for so long i want to let the light in somehow but the overcast sky and the resultant darkness which surrounds me now seems wrong.

i suppose the fact that i left the day after the last day of school didn't help. all of my loot from my students is still sitting in bags and boxes everywhere, still waiting for a home.

felt like a bit of a tourist coming back into toronto yesterday. only a month but the aesthetic of both france and italy were so different that my eyes are still adjusting. crazy. imagine what a year away would do...

now that i am back i have already had niggling feelings of a need to roll up my sleeves and turn my attention back to work. feel the inner pragmatist reaching for the phone to sort out my finances and work out a plan to get myself back in the black before christmas. feel that this next month should be focused on paying for my indulgences with projects that will require my all of my attention. incredible, this guilt. incredible how a place can be so attached to a state of mind. had no idea how much tension was holed up in these walls. it's infected with a years worth of work and worry. have to open up the windows and buy a couple of plants. need to be as kind to my space as i have been to myself of late.

so clear to me now. so much easier to get perspective from a distance. when you are given the opportunity to witness and participate in another way of living life, it makes the life you were living before you stepped out of it for awhile seem so narrowly focused. fine to be inspired about changing your life when reading a novel on a beach without a watch on your arm but the real challenge is to bring those lessons into your alter ego's domain. am hoping that a clear out of all that i do not emotionally connect to in my home anymore will help to sustain this fresh perspective on the sense of self i have cultivated in warmer climes and among scintillating sea/city scapes.

didn't write for the last few days of the trip because i was just too engrossed in the living of it. just wanted to be there. it's funny. looking at my pictures (all 600+ of them!) some of the most treasured moments of my trip are not captured in them. am pleased by this. it means i remembered to be in the moment when it counted. did some participating to balance out the observing. historically i have always been more of an observer than a participant so anytime i see the balance shift a little more toward the centre, i am encouraged...there's hope for me yet!

actually lost weight while i was away if you can believe it! i guess a month without processed food, snacking and walking everywhere works. having no agenda or stress helped too i suppose...

am so grateful. was so consistently blessed with gorgeousness, opportunity, great food and company that i didn't feel worthy of it at a certain point. felt gluttonous and greedy. was ever aware of my good fortune. hope to accept it as a gift rather than fear it as a before to some darker after...old habits die hard...

thanks for listening. hope that if you've been in a place where you feel bound that you were able to escape for awhile with me. am excited to see my city, and my life for that matter, with fresh eyes. hope to continue to regale you with more discoveries of both the strange and the familiar.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

redder shade of pale

you will have to forgive me if i dont make much sense. my eyes are red from the saltwater and my skin is tight,am burnt no doubt after a seven hour day at the beach. so odd to describe it that way when said beach is on the mediterranean sea and cliffs like the ones in from here to eternity frame the landscape behind you. have to keep looking up from my chaise (with handy dandy built in visor for the face) to remind myself that this is not ipperwash. i am in another country. not just any country, italy! i am basking on the shores of land that was hard won from the greeks and other invaders over time. opulent summer homes wink at me from above, a little bit worn from the sea air but still proud of their beauty.

since this trip to positano was inspired by my sisters love for it as witnessed in the movie "under the tuscan sun" we had been keeping our eyes open for places that appeared in the film. found marcellos house and the pottery place. small world this.

the beauty here is completely different than that which i witnessed in paris. in paris you are surrounded by beauty, pristinely preserved and maintained. here i am responding to the natural beauty. the opposite face of the beauty coin. can wear this beauty on my skin, can taste it in the tomatoes, the lemons the cheese. something more organic here. guess if the seine were swimmable might be able to get a similar sensation there. the quiet here continues to astound. so calm. couldnt have timed my reading better. eat pray love was perfect for me. connected to idea of living in the moment, being grateful. am trying not to feel guilty about all that i have been able to see and do over the last month. am going to try to enjoy instead of file it somewhere in a "to be paid in kind with ridiculous amount of work and sacrifice in coming months" column of my internal ledger...

went to pompei yesterday. absolutely incredible. i have seen a few ruins in my day but nothing could prepare me for this experience. 2000 year old village life sprang to life in incredibly vivid detail. so genius. my sister and i both marvelled at how such sophistication could precede pioneer times back home. hard to get your head around how you can go from indoor plumbing engineering in ancient times to making a house of interlacing logs.

went to top of mt vesuvius too. very welcoming and lush considering it is a volcano. area around it quite tatty, a lot of garbage, lotsa laundry hanging from worn down buildings...good to get away from glitzy bit to get a broader picture of things.

food so great. am noticing not much garlic or use of parsley here, not too much oil either, is a regional thing i guess. off to rome tomorrow. if heat is anything like pompei well need gallons of water again.

a domani!

Monday, July 23, 2007

viva italia!

could it be more beautiful? i feel as though i am in a film and that the director is going to come by at any moment and tell me to get off the set so that he can film the scene properly.

my sister and i arrived in positano on saturday, spent an entire day at the beach yesterday, floating effortlessly in the crystal clear water, sun on our skin and colourful villa peppering the rocky landscape in front of us. this whole experience has been like inhabiting a postcard. my finger is constantly poised to snap a pic of nearly everything i see in all directions.

despite the initial frenzied car ride from naples airport to positano,( a white knuckled affair where a burly local named gaitano, moustache, red face, muscular squat frame had us careening into one another in the back seat as he hugged corners, cut in between cars and vespas alike, claiming the road and his rightful spot on it) the vibe here is incredibly relaxed. it is clean and quiet. dont know if it is the water on the horizon, the sun the lush flowers and vegetation, dont care really. all i know is that i am breathing deeply and havent looked at my watch in days.

we are staying in a massive apartment (strange story, when we were booking thought was in euro but was in pounds so paid a hefty sum) that has two bathrooms, both with showers and toilets, a kitchen, sink, oven, fridge, table, dishes included! and a living room with a pull out bed. we also have a balcony. this place could sleep two families. love it! so our view is of the bay and of the homes and hotels on the face of a mountainside to our right. at night is is gorgeous, we have even had fire works a couple of times.

food is incredible. best pizza i have ever tasted, the tomatoes so fresh, the basil so sweet...have gone to a different resto each night. are going to pompeii and mt vesuvius tomorrow and then rome on thursday (if the tour fills up, fingers crossed) and capri on sat. beach for the remaining days.

am reading eat, pray , love. perfect companion for this leg of my trip. all about a 34 yr old woman trying to carve out her own place in the world without guilt or shame. trying to learn how to enjoy pleasure guilt free. couldnt be more up my alley. feel so lucky to be here. so overwhelmed by the beauty that i am daily soaking in.

nice to have company again, am smiling more already. italian men (arent many young ones in this resort town) have not been brutish or pushy at all, so nice to have a smile rather than a rude gesture, makes the walking more pleasant. am so happy to be wearing all the summer gear i packed.

thats all for now, back to the internet cafe routine where time is 3 euro a half hour!

a domani!

Friday, July 20, 2007

and now, the end is near...

this is my fourth time in paris and i have been here three weeks now. even still, on this last day paris keeps unveiling more of herself to me and every inch is just as incredible as what came before. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX went on a canal tour today. friends of mine had mentioned that it was one of their favourtie parts of paris and i always looked at them quizically. i thought i had a pretty good handle on most key features but had yet to see them. the scene in amelie where she is skipping stones in the canals and a scene in the movie 2 days in paris also inspired my trip to the waterways. was purely enchanting. classic french songs played sweetly in the background as we went through locks and inside tunnels filled with rainbows (a japanese artists contribution to milennium celebrations that still runs), modern apartment buildings and public spaces dotting the sides of the canals. trees, like palms but with shiny broad leaves stood proudly on the banks. place de la villette was fantastic. huge reservoir with cool modern theatres and dance clubs either side with opportunities to rent kayaks and further along modern stylized bridges, fun parks outside the science centre...a completely different face of paris that i was sure had to be here but had as yet, to witness. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX was a three hour trip. sound of the water and sunshine coupled with the slow pace were just what i wanted. had a great meal, steak in a wine and challot sauce with potatoes cooked with cream and grilled...and then have been packing and cleaning. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx am off to read for a little while and then try to sleep so i will hear my alarm at 5:45 for tomorrows flight. has been incredible. more than i had ever imagined. will be nice to have some company though. paris is a hard place to be sometimes when you are single and are constantly being moved by your surroundings...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

short and sweet

just a couple of lines. didnt do a lot today. started with doing two loads of laundry at the local laundromat. took awhile to suss it all out. two loads of washing and drying cost me a whopping 16 euros, thats 24 dollars! how the hell to people live here...guess i could have crammed more into the washers to get my moneys worth but as it was my clothes came out pretty battered...ah well, so much for eating in a restaurant today! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX reading a great book called the rotters club by jonathan ebe. simply fantastic. its english and has a wonderful blend of humour and introspection. characters are really unique and likeable. seek it out if you can. dropped off a novel and 3 guidebooks about paris at shakespeare and company today and got 8 euros of store credit. bought irene narimovskys most famous novel. what a coup! it is exactly what i was looking for. she is the author of suite francaise who lived and wrote about the german occupation of paris and who died in auschwitz. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX while near shakespeare and company, on the left bank just across from notre dame near the seine, i went to a favourite little park with a great statue that is encircled by gorgeous, unpretentious flowers. discovered it two trips ago while travelling with my sister. read for a good couple of hours being visited by various birds and listening to the bells of notre dame signal the passing of the time. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX went to a singalong at the swan tonight. great bar where i had my embarassing lullaby of birdland fiasco. people there all remembered me by name. was shocked and touched at the same time. nice to know that the feeling of kinship was mutual. i realize that that is a very anne of green gables word but what can i say, i am tired. chanteuse who led the evening was very spirited and had props to inform and colour her interpretations. was great. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX just one more day. will try to see the canals tomorrow and pay a visit to the luxembourg gardens and read some more. might have a nice meal somewhere. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX a demain.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the view from here

i can recall on one hand the number of times my breath has literally been taken away, watching my first film about the holocaust, seeing the gardens in versailles for the first time, the opera house in prague, watching natalie wood as maria in west side story, and now i can add emerging from the abbey at the top level of mont st michel in france. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX mt st michel is a mountain in the middle of a lake in the northwest of france near avranche, whose tallest point stands 400m high. the idea for its creation came to a priest in a dream. he was visited by saint michael as an angel who told him to build him an abbey. the priest obeyed and after years of work a masterpiece emerged from the rockface. hundreds of bricks placed by hand, winding pathways and small cottages lining the way up. it was originally inhabited by some benedictine monks who cloistered themselves there, translating scripture. it soon became a sight of pilgrimage for catholics from around the world, eager to have their souls cleansed by st michel before judgement day in heaven. apparently people would wait weeks outside, some drowning on their way from shore when the tides came in unexpectedly. even today we saw a group of pilgrims marching across the bottom of the barren lake at low tide. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX from a distance it appears to be a disney like concoction of a castle, mysterious and monolithic sitting proudly in the middle of an otherwise entirely flat landscape in all directions. you can see how in the middle ages it would have seemed like an oasis of sorts, a truly mystical place. the architecture was completed over a long period so both roman and gothic styles can be found. they actually invented the vaulted ceilings and technique of using buttresses that the gothic style is famous for. apparently they were boat builders and just borrowed the structure they would have used for the bottom of a boat as a guide. because it is a unesco protected site it is incredibly well maintained, the granite gleaming and airy. the result is that you feel opened by the space rather than dwarfed or oppressed by it as you do in other castles from the same era. it was untouched during the hundred years war and was used as a prison in the eighteenth century by napoleon. these two factors saw fortification walls and watchtowers erected, changing the aesthetic once again. now, some monks and nuns help maintain the grounds and worship there. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the abbey itself is unadorned, sparse, the colour from the once stained glass, faded. its freeing to be rid of the copious ornamentation i have seen in most other churches in the centre of paris. so much of what i have studied is more tangible now. can see how wealth invested in churches to glorify the patron would have outraged the poor whose stomachs rumbled from hunger as they attended mass. can see how the churches were also meeting places for business, cultural events, that the more ornate are clear signs of a time when church and state were intimately intertwined.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the view from the terrace just outside of the abbey is what took my breath away, immediately the universe opens up to you, there is nothing but sky in all directions, the wind, moist, is scented with sea water that awakens your senses, in every direction a new landscape reveals itself to you. to the north a sea bed with a small island, to the east marshy ground a million shades of green and farmland and fields dotted with trees, to the south and east sand, and more sand blendly seemlessly with the water just beyond. its so pure, so untainted by mans clumsy fingerprints that you immediately understand what it means to be at peace. so incredible, really, its immediately comforting, relaxing, pleasing.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX was four and a half hour drive both ways so am very sleepy but very satisfied. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX went to musee de carnavalat yesterday. was free for all citizens and tourists. great exhibition of history of france from gauls to modern day. artifacts from french revolution and reign of terror were amazing. saw paintings of marie antoinette and louis the sixteenth being beheaded to cheering crowds, saw uniforms of soldiers, saw medals soldiers, jacobins, wore, saw the famous red touques , read a hand painted version of the declaration of the rights of man, the constitution drawn up in the badminton court at versailles during the revolution. so much blood spilled for years. was interesting to see paintings of the construction of the louvre, new bridges, the tuileries etc. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX cant believe its almost over, just two more days before i am off to italy (and less computer access). bonne nuit.

the view from here

i can recall on one hand the number of times my breath has literally been taken away, watching my first film about the holocaust, seeing the gardens in versailles for the first time, the opera house in prague, watching natalie wood as maria in west side story, and now i can add emerging from the abbey at the top level of mont st michel in france. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX mt st michel is a mountain in the middle of a lake in the northwest of france near avranche, whose tallest point stands 400m high. the idea for its creation came to a priest in a dream. he was visited by saint michael as an angel who told him to build him an abbey. the priest obeyed and after years of work a masterpiece emerged from the rockface. hundreds of bricks placed by hand, winding pathways and small cottages lining the way up. it was originally inhabited by some benedictine monks who cloistered themselves there, translating scripture. it soon became a sight of pilgrimage for catholics from around the world, eager to have their souls cleansed by st michel before judgement day in heaven. apparently people would wait weeks outside, some drowning on their way from shore when the tides came in unexpectedly. even today we saw a group of pilgrims marching across the bottom of the barren lake at low tide. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX from a distance it appears to be a disney like concoction of a castle, mysterious and monolithic sitting proudly in the middle of an otherwise entirely flat landscape in all directions. you can see how in the middle ages it would have seemed like an oasis of sorts, a truly mystical place. the architecture was completed over a long period so both roman and gothic styles can be found. they actually invented the vaulted ceilings and technique of using buttresses that the gothic style is famous for. apparently they were boat builders and just borrowed the structure they would have used for the bottom of a boat as a guide. because it is a unesco protected site it is incredibly well maintained, the granite gleaming and airy. the result is that you feel opened by the space rather than dwarfed or oppressed by it as you do in other castles from the same era. it was untouched during the hundred years war and was used as a prison in the eighteenth century by napoleon. these two factors saw fortification walls and watchtowers erected, changing the aesthetic once again. now, some monks and nuns help maintain the grounds and worship there. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the abbey itself is unadorned, sparse, the colour from the once stained glass, faded. its freeing to be rid of the copious ornamentation i have seen in most other churches in the centre of paris. so much of what i have studied is more tangible now. can see how wealth invested in churches to glorify the patron would have outraged the poor whose stomachs rumbled from hunger as they attended mass. can see how the churches were also meeting places for business, cultural events, that the more ornate are clear signs of a time when church and state were intimately intertwined.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the view from the terrace just outside of the abbey is what took my breath away, immediately the universe opens up to you, there is nothing but sky in all directions, the wind, moist, is scented with sea water that awakens your senses, in every direction a new landscape reveals itself to you. to the north a sea bed with a small island, to the east marshy ground a million shades of green and farmland and fields dotted with trees, to the south and east sand, and more sand blendly seemlessly with the water just beyond. its so pure, so untainted by mans clumsy fingerprints that you immediately understand what it means to be at peace. so incredible, really, its immediately comforting, relaxing, pleasing.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX was four and a half hour drive both ways so am very sleepy but very satisfied. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX went to musee de carnavalat yesterday. was free for all citizens and tourists. great exhibition of history of france from gauls to modern day. artifacts from french revolution and reign of terror were amazing. saw paintings of marie antoinette and louis the sixteenth being beheaded to cheering crowds, saw uniforms of soldiers, saw medals soldiers, jacobins, wore, saw the famous red touques , read a hand painted version of the declaration of the rights of man, the constitution drawn up in the badminton court at versailles during the revolution. so much blood spilled for years. was interesting to see paintings of the construction of the louvre, new bridges, the tuileries etc. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX cant believe its almost over, just two more days before i am off to italy (and less computer access). bonne nuit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

la peinture est plus forte que moi. elle me fait faire ce qu elle veut

in english this means: the drive to paint is stronger than i am, it makes me do what it wants. this fantastic little inspirational quote was taken from a postcard written in picassos handwriting which is underneath a photo of him wearing a woven, enlarged bulls head and smoking a cigarette, shirtless. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX i bought it yesterday while at the picasso museum which contains literally hundreds of his paintings, sketches, sculptures and photos. they were all acquired by the government who got them in exchange for back taxes he owed. the sheer volume of the collection is almost as striking as the pieces themselves. leaving the museum the take home message is that a true artisit is creating all of the time. by including studies and doodles drawn on scrap, pieces painted on broken earthenware, you see that for picasso, the act of making art was not a religious, ceremonial pursuit conducted solely in a studio. this led to a true integration of a human touch that allows the viewer to participate more fully in the experience somehow. as i wandered through the rooms and saw the humour and playfullness in his experimental work i found myself adding him to a list of the people, living or dead, whom id like to have dinner with. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX another quote i read was : if you already know what you are going to do then what is the point of doing it...instinctively my structured self started coming up with valid justifications and then i looked into the playful eyes of the man pictured above the phrase and let myself soak up what this mischevious man with 3 floors worth of work surrounding him had to say. this has forever been my struggle creatively. i edit as i go. before the thought has even finished formulating i am redirecting and reshaping it. art has to be process over product most of the time. yes, product is eventually the thing that you will share with the world but the quality of the product is limited to your willingness to break it apart and see what you can do with the component parts, to see if you can breathe live into them and give them their own voice. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the willingness to create so much that it can easily be thrown away is freeing too. readjusting your eyes so that you can see something in everything, everywhere is liberating too. its a sensibility that i indulge in in my own time, but given the amount of mental energy and multitasking i do in my day job, its not something i can devote myself to entirely. look at that an excuse. interesting... XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX finding the museum itself is incredibly challenging. i swear it is the bermuda triangle of paris! literally spent 40 minutes in a 200m radius trying to find the bloody thing. can imagine picasso having a good laugh about it from his resting place. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX afterward i went to a free concert for strings at the madeleine. its a church that napoleon had built in a greco-roman style, numerous large columns, gold piping and marble everywhere. quite stunning, altarpiece is incredibly dramatic. was me and a group of the greyhaired with a tired tourist thrown in every once and awhile for good measure. as they were setting up i realized it was going to be a group of school kids ranging in age from about ten to 17 id say. i was a bit disappointed thinking it would be a dumbed down version of the classics. once again i was wrong. these kids, from wheaton outside of chicago were phenomenal. each one of them a virtuoso in their own right. there was no conductor and each child would take a turn being the lead player that would count them in and signal the beginning of a new form. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX one of the most stunning pieces was a (going to spell it phonetically because i have never seen in written) shastakovich piece. very tim burton, entirely creepy and otherworldly. was incredibly complex. again, i found myself and my work being trumped by people half my age. knew that only got there because of the discipline and commitment that i simply do not have. i love too many things and become restless with too much repetition of any creative or intellectual endeavour. wasnt defeated this time. was instead taking in the reality that the only way that i am going to become truly great is to become truly committed. that it is within my grasp if i choose to make it so. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX finished my book suite francaise. balled my head off. the transcripts of the personal correspondence between her and her husband and their friends as they find themselves losing their liberties as jews is heartwrenching. you have to read this! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX am off to the musee carnavalat to learn more about the history of france and to look at some memorabilia from the french revolution. then maybe to cimetaire montparnasse to visit sartre and simone de beauvoirs graves. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX only three days left until italy!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

if i were aboard the starship enterprise this would be one of my hollowdecks

went to bruges today. north american idiot i am i thought it was a translation for brussels. turns out it is a town in its own right at the northern tip of belgium near calais of tale of two cities fame. also near flanders of the famous in flanders fields fame. was wonderful to see poppies growing in the wild in wheat fields, much like the renoir painting. there is much more space between the petals and they are much more flimsy than the replicas we wear on remembrance day in canada. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX alarm went off at 6 am so had an early night last night, caught the sound of fireworks but didnt see them, went to an air show earlier in the day though, flew right over the avenue des armées. tanks, jeeps and soldiers lined all of the avenues around the arc de triomphe, was too far away to see the parade waited an hour for, ah well, i tried. but i digress, XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX so bruges. bruges used to be a port city with an active harbour that rivalled venice in its day. wool there used to make tapestries that hung in castles throughout the kingdom (is still a monarchy today, one of the few in the european union) , make lace, grow flax, hops, potoatoes, oil from flaxseed used in development oil paints used in famous flemish painting. very pastoral drive on the way up. a lot of orange roofs and stone wall everywhere. one of the only medieval cities to remain entact, has never been bombed. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX entered across a bridge that had a medieval tower at one end and a view of a canal that opened up to a riverbank with swans and an abbey from the 1600s. picture postcard perfect. the water was still, the willow trees letting down their branches like rapunzel did her golden locks. the abbey was whitewashed as a symbol of purity and the grounds were dead silent, the church on the grounds, where women would pray every four hours even through the night, was spartan and the main colour being white even in the glass windows. interesting to see the stations of the cross depicted in a cartoon like, bright style rather than the harrowing, shadowy realism i am used to. much more mythical and storylike in this interpretation. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX tour guide, obnoxious, couldnt be bothered frenchman who ran ahead of the group at breakneck speed and spoke barely above a whisper gesturing mock helplessly at a jauntily tied scarf round his neck,indicating a cold, was useless. found great company for the day in two young girls one from a small town in australia, and another from london. i say young cause i felt really old, was nine years older than the oldest! anyhoo, crossed another bridge into the hub of town where restaurants had tables that spilled onto the cobblestone streets. in the winding streets, littered with chocolatiers, lace makers and nik nak shops,each with its own fingerprint and unique charm, the sound of horses hooves could be heard, each confidently leading a carriage. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX we wove our way to the old church, finished in 1107, which took 200 years to complete, all made of brick, and then boarded a boat for a canal cruise. had a fantastic boatman as our guide.wonderful sense of humour and a great passion for his work. quoted literature, pointed out unique points of interest and gave us informative details the whole way through. was so romantic. water was calm and the sides of the waterways were lined with delicate flowers, lush trees and homes with stepped facades reminiscent of those in amsterdam, shutters over the windows, iron detailing and statues of the madonna and child craftily placed (very catholic town). couldnt get over the quiet. no street sounds, no advertisements, no unecessary signs, the visual landscape was stripped bare of words and neon, very rustic. had the effect of being immediately calming. having been in paris, teeming with people at all hours of the day and night in all arrondisments, its scaled back, quiet offerings were the equivalent of being in a sensory deprivation chamber which only excluded the sense of noxious sound. incredible. would be perfect place to make peace with yourself, write a novel... XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX people were very warm and friendly, all spoke english and french well even though it is a flemish area. went to an open air market. some junk, some nice handiwork. then went to lunch at a modern restaurant with clean lines, airy layout and great food. was called loretto i believe... XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX next went to buy chocolate as gifts for those at home, though some have started to melt already...bought some chocolate dipped waffles, so saccharin! then went to a lace shop and got a great black lace fan, very anna it. next wandered to look at a gallery and down some sidestreets we had not yet explored. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX was fantastic gem of a place that i would highly recommend. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX saw 2 days in paris yesterday at a theatre on the champs elysee. nine euro ! was interesting to see it with a parisien audience. able to laugh at themselves easily. was great to see it from the other point of view. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX planning on a simple day tomorrow then to a vivaldi string concert tomorrow night!

Friday, July 13, 2007

le soleil, le soleil que j adore le soleil!

not only can i write titles again, it was sunny today! i wanted to make like a british child star a la chitty chitty bang bang and sream Hooray! XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX the moment that i saw the sky turn to blue i got dressed, grabbed my journal and headed for the tuileries (a park right in between la place du concorde-former sight of the guillotine and the area that the cyclists pass during la tour de france, and the palais du louvre, famous art gallery). i chose this locale particularly because in university i read simone de beauvoirs biography and she often used to go there as a child. she was one of the early existentialist writers and lived in paris for awhile during the occupation. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX have been writing on and off, notes and thoughts really and today started to rewrite passages and shape them. went well, was pleased that my thoughts came readily. while i had applied sunscreen liberally to my face, i had neglected to do so for my arms and legs. as a result i now have bright pink arms and legs (pink on one side, that is, the other is a nice milky white). despite the glares i got on the metro, i am glad to have felt the sun on my skin (and continue to in its absence, my legs are literally emanating heat as i type). XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX after my cliché auteur moment in the public park, i went to buy a ticket for the ballet this evening. i wanted to go for two reasons. the first was that the ballet was created fourteen days before the revolution and is rarely performed in reperatory companies. its called la fille mal gardée and follows a young woman, cinderella like in her duties on the farm, her solitude and her existence under the watchful eye of an overprotective mother. she falls in love with a village boy but is arranged to be married to a wealthy boy she does not love. it was highly comedic and simple, no real obstacles presented. a lot of folk dance forms and bit of choreography intertwined as was set in the countryside. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx the second reason that i wanted to go was because it was taking place at the opera house in the centre of the city. its so prominent that it sits at the centre of about 6 or so streets that emanate outward from it. it has marble columns, gold statues, a grand staircase (think the one from titanic, make it wider and add more statues and gold) and to get to my seat i had to go through a private door to a box i shared with five others lined with burgandy floral velvet wallpaper, a chaise, a mirror, a coat rack and wonderful velvet seats. it was on the first balcony and only one other person showed up (a really sweet french professor visiting from russia)so we got to sit at the front of the box. the interior was over the top. columns midway through the semicircle created special boxes with velvet curtains and statues, the gold was musted and stately and the ceiling was adorned with a mural by marc chagall. he did it in 1964, looked otherworldly and almost garish compared to the old world décor elsewhere. bright blues, yellows and pink-reds which depicted scenes from famous ballets or portraits of composers.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXx loved the opportunity to dress up and to be among other art enthusiasts. really are an educated and appreciative crowd, les parisiens. loved imagining the people who had shared my seat at one time or another. i believe it was originally constructed in 1669. blows my mind. once again the idea that these gorgeous interiors clung to life as wars of all stripes raged on outside its walls is mindboggling.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX its bastille day tomorrow. am going to try to jostle for a spot on the champs elysées to see the parade from the arc de triomphe to place de la concorde. should be celebrations well into the evening. cant wait!