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Saturday, April 30, 2005

subdued in suburbia

When I left my residence room for the last time, it was soaking in a strange yellow light.

I thought I'd left the light on, but between the time I'd left and re-entered to grab my last box, sunlight had filled its empty space.

It was closure. I felt as if the room were showing itself to me for the last time, making a note in my memory and engraving its image.

Now I'm regaining my strength in the suburbs before I leave to Paris in four days. God, I wish I didn't feel like such a snob saying that. I wish I had enough money to pay for my own plane tickets, that everything I did was out of my own funds and headstrong independance. For now I have to bless the generosity of my parents, their appreciation for travel, and realize that this is something I can work towards.

I sat with my cousin last night and discussed what I want to do with my life. She suggests design school. I need to think about it. I need to weigh out my passions and find which makes me sweat the most.

She is buying a house. At first I found this idea boring. A house? Why settle down? But this is her dream, and for her it brings out the same excitement that travel does for me. Each to his own. All of our hearts beat to a different drum. Something's wrong when it's just standing still.

So I'm moaping around, thinking, reading, and loving my relatives. It's strange to see the genetic qualities sewn through the women in this family. Sometimes when I look at my aunt, I see my mom for a split second.

I'm subdued, but in the most cozy, sitting in my bathrobe and reading, kind of way. After a year of being a stress case, I couldn't wish for anything more.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

there she goes again

I'm about to pack up my computer. I'm defrosting the mini fridge. I'm pulling out my suitcase. I'm eating my last tins of tuna; finishing off my porridge.

It seems to me that I leave a lot.

I love leaving. I love new faces, new customs, and a new location. I love going somewhere where nobody knows me.

When the plane takes off the thrill is almost sexual. Waves of pleasure race through my body as I grasp my arm rest.

When the plane lands it's a deeper satisfaction. After being elevated into the heavens we're brought back down to reality. A sigh of relief all around. Some perform small religious rituals. The plane wheels grate against the runway; women comfort their children. People peer over other passengers to see through the window, viciously chewing gum. I can't help but grin, this is were it all begins.

Soon I'm walking down unfamiliar streets while people speak in foreign tongues. Tasting new flavors and fashions. Smiling at men with a different look to them, a different way to them, their charm seeping into my skin.

Being in an airport alone is like being in the land of opportunity. Screw America, I want everywhere else.

And so here I go again. On May 4th my body will pulsate as the plane takes off to Paris.

When I picked up my ticket the man said "Toronto to Paris, one way?"

One way.

"Yes." I replied. Oh god, yes.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

we used to

We used to sneak into the woods to smoke pot in hiding. We were so desperate to get high. One joint, passed all around, one would always giggle more than the others.

We'd emerge with new vision. Brighter trees, neon grass, and large suspicious eyes on everyone.

We used to wear giant headphones and become one with the music.

We used to get together, a huge group of us every weekend. Some of us barely knew each other, because all we ever did was drink. Rebellion always seemed more interesting than a real conversation.

We used to sit on the bus, moving slowly through East Hastings, and see lives much darker than ours. Prostitutes with veins up their legs, boney shoulders and short skirts. A cop arresting a man with cocaine. A man sneaking into the alley with a needle.

We used to lie on my balcony smeared with tanning oil, and feel the sun sink into our skin.

We used to apply layers of make-up, then scrounge up any alcohol possible, and try and be cool for the parties.

I used to think about suicide on a daily basis. And I would sit in the rain, just to feel the world get colder.

I have no regrets. I used to laugh pretty damn hard in those days as well.

I just used to be so confused.

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Monday, April 25, 2005

uptown girl

I must confess, I've become a snob.


From the tip of my turned up nose to the curve of my snobby stomach, I want only the best.

I used to trudge around happily in my worn out skate shoes, eat at Mcdonalds every weekend, buy my entire wardrobe from discount stores, and sleep anywhere with a mattress.

But times have changed me.

I don't want to look cheap. The appeal of poorly sewn garments is quickly fading. Cheap clothing is like cheap sex, it just shouldn't be done. On the other hand, second hand stores hold many gems, from designer purses to great vintage dresses. I still need to remind myself to look past the price tag, and determine wether I really love it. And if the shoe don't fit, for god's sake I just shouldn't buy it.

The way I see it, I can buy a bin full of shirts I'll eventually grow sick of, or one I love. The choice is mine. When tempted by cheap prices, I conjure up an image of Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, flawless in head to toe designer goods, and I'm out the door faster than you can say "Bitch!"

Now that your envisioning me in Gucci, why would I eat fast food? Why would anyone? And why should food be fast?! Even Subway seems less appealing after discovering THE sandwich place. Placed lucratively in the market on Queen St. West lies a beautiful stainless steal kitchen. Behind the counter three men work furiously. One tends the salad bar, one the cash register, and the other the sandwiches. I love the sandwich man. He slices the bread with zest, places the ingredients on artfully, paints a squiggle of olive oil and adds graceful dash of salt before throwing the sandwich on the grill. The ingredients are all delicacies: eggplant, asiago cheese, basil spread, zucchini, chicken , bococcini and much much more. You have your choice of fresh bread, get a healthy serving of salad on the side, and pay around six dollars.

It's not that I'm pouncing around in Prada, I'm just tired of being cheap. I'm not going to alter my taste or my passions to save a buck or two. I'm not going to go into debt either, but you get the idea.

I think to myself "Simplicity. Simplicity. What do I really love?" It's time to take myself seriously.

I just can't possibly live well when it's possible to live wonderfully.

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Sunday, April 24, 2005

warm awakening

This morning I woke up
To find I finally
Recognized my own reflection.
I smiled back,
As I would to an old friend.
The bathroom mirror
Reveals myself
In fluorescent yellow
And my ugly traits
Have softened over night.
My stretch marks
And incurable flaws
Scream that I have lived,
And outgrown myself
As a child.
My belly
Tells me I’m a lush,
But ever so lovingly,
And congratulates me
On living so well.
How beautiful
To be a woman;
The weakness
Of all men.
How sensual
To run your hands
Over soft curves,
Rather than protruding
Hip bones.
How breathtaking
To be a breathing being,
Rather than a symbol of style.
I look at myself
As I’d look at a lover:
Delirious in rose coloured
Where did she come from?
When did she begin
To hold herself so tall?
And when did
Such a fragile frame
Find so much strength?
I can't believe
Than I have stunned myself,
And beat my worn out blues.
Outside the sky is grey,
But I've discovered a world
Of colour.

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

since you've been gone

Today I walked past three deaf gay men on Church Street. One spoke flamboyantly through his gestures, his arms laden with shopping bags, while the other two smiled and gestured in return.

A few minutes later, out of the village, I passed a bald man on roller blades, smoking a joint and holding a pineapple.

But even earlier today, Morgan, my room mate, walked out of residence for the last time. And now I have no one to share my stupid daily stories with. No one to giggle or roll their eyes in response.

Alberta, Alberta, she's coming home. That Eric Clapton song will always evoke memories of this small town beauty.

Morgan is winter, and I am summer. She loves the cold, the snow, sports, simple outdoor clothing and politics. I love the heat, dressing half naked in summer, avoiding sports in general and reading fashion magazines.

We often wondered if we'd ever be friends had we not been placed together. And yet it couldn't have gone better.

When we wanted to shut out the world, we would let the other in. One of us would often crawl into the other's room in a state of despair, and bitch until it all went away. Her words and listening saved me more than once. And she always had chocolate at the right time.

I think we were good for each other. We made each other question ourselves, our motives, our habits and ways. I've travelled a lot, but she's much more down to earth; together we found a balance.

Morgan, good luck with whatever you choose to do. Remember that you're bigger than a small town. The city hasn't jaded you, it's only strengthened you, made you more aware. Thank you for being open minded with me. For loving my craziness, and eventually joining in.

It's been good. Now go get drunk and listen to some country for me.

the crew

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

get up and go

Lately I seem to feel the weight of anything and everything I own. I feel like taking it all and throwing it into a giant waste bin. I would, if it weren't for regret. If I didn't have to buy these things all over again. Because I need jackets, sweaters, and shoes on my feet. I need books to read, and shampoo for my hair. All these things....I "need".

And I will always want. I am addicted to fashion. My body is thrilled by well designed clothing, and I will always feel a need to own more. This poem came spitting out. It's not beautiful, or even well written; it's stream of consciousness. It's a moment. It's my overwhelmed body spilling itself out into awkward words. Like right now. My mind working too quickly to think tangible thoughts. It's still poetry.

The objects
Hold too many memories for me
They create a weight in my body
And I feel as if I’m lifting them
Taking them with me
Every step I take
The weight of them
Pulling at my heart

They are my weakness
Moments of materialism
Quick fixes
Temporary solutions
The shirt that made me feel
Like someone else
When you told me
I looked beautiful

I see it around me
And I want it all gone
The photographs
The clothes
The ones that bring on woes
I wear them on my back
Painting my conscience
A dreary black

My head beats like a drum
My time in this country
Almost done
A list of things to do
A sea of memories
Faces losing meaning
Is it my heart
Or the clock that’s beating?

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Friday, April 15, 2005

city slicker handbags

These bags always just appear.

It started at Value Village in Vancouver, and continued here again in Toronto at Goodwill and Buy the Pound. Small navy blue handbags with nothing to them but a simple retro design.

I've decorated a couple in the past, sold a polka dot bag to my chic French teacher, and gave a kitschy Batman one to a friend. They look good on. For one thing you know some other chick isn't going to walk by with the same bag. But you also know that I put a lot into each one. I didn't have money or mass production in mind. My only drive was my imagination, my addiction to fashion, and my long restless fingers.

This year I've decorated a few in my spare time. Today I made it my goal to finish them, as well as figure out what the hell I want to do with them.

Think of them as mini portraits.

If you are interested, they're going for $30 a pop. A lot of time has been put into each bag. Email me and we'll sort it out; I have no problem sending one out to you if you don't mind paying shipping fees.

Here are the big city bags:

L.A bag
I painted this baby with excellent gold acrylic paint. The back is plain gold, and I lined the opening with strips of velcro to keep it closed shut.

Hong Kong bag
This bag has one of my old favorite mini skirts sewn to each side as its outer decor. I had many good times in this skirt. It was even featured in Catwoman while I shook my ass as an extra. And by featured I mean you can't even see me. I added a gold sequin patch on the front, and there is velcro lining in this bag's opening as well. Inside there are visible stitching marks, as everything was hand sewn.

Paris bag front
Paris bag back
This bag speaks for me. It is Paris, it is Edith Piaf's beautiful lyrics, and it is my will to dream. The inside is lined with a hand sewn polka dot lining.

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Thursday, April 14, 2005

L.A baby

If we rocked those five days any harder we would've broken something.

L.A was bittersweet and the taste still lingers in my mouth. L.A's flavor is alive, even if it's a little artificial.

I tasted the new fall lines for many American clothing lines, stacked into show rooms in a tall building. My mother was there on business with her friend Helen. I tried to help, but the clothing was like porn to me. So many well dressed people, so many trends, so little time. At night time the conversation was as rich as the food, and flowed as easily as the wine.

I tasted the sea air as my cousin and her fiance drove me along the Santa Monica coastline. Beautiful surfers climbed out of their cars and I squirmed in my seat. I tasted greasy seafood at a biker hot spot, an old diner up the coast. Sat with a biker gang called the Iron Pigs, and felt comfortable in my non-leather clad innocence.

I tasted Melrose, lined with only the latest in fashion. I was disappointed when I bought nothing, but the clothes were cheap in quality, and I'm not. Every store had a variation of the same thing, fluorescent bohemian skirts and studded belts galore. I've seen more sequined boleros in the past few days than I've seen Paris Hilton in the tabloids.

And I tasted, sigh, Rodeo Drive. Windows done up as beautifully as a Chardin still life. Every store was labeled with another designer's name that's been deeply engraved in my heart. Price tags surpassing all my paychecks combined. Handbags worth more than a car.

All in all it was "fabulous". Good times and a taste of sunshine.

Here is a photo diary to give some visuals to my words:


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Friday, April 08, 2005

eat my words

Throw away your stained cookbooks. You know the ones, chocolate sauce smeared on one page, the next slowly disintegrating. With today's technology, even cookbooks are dated.

There's a revolution taking place in the blog world. One so inspiring that you might feel the urge to whip out your burnt frying pan with a Jamie Oliver grin.

Don't call up the Chinese delivery boy tonight. Tell the pizza boy you need some time apart. You need some space, and he's just not what he used to be. You've grown up, and sadly, the fast food industry hasn't.

My cafeteria diet has had me in the culinary blues. Whatever happened to properly cooked vegetables? Sauce with a bite? And hey, what happened to nutrition?

Now I sit in my residence room staring at my computer screen, a shimmering string of drool gracing my left cheek. I have discovered food blogs.

Food is essential to live. But it is also amazingly sensual if appreciated in the right way.

Cooking is an art, not a two step recipe on the back of a can. And flavor is important, not calories to count on the back of a package.

The other day I took a trip to China town and spent $2.44 on groceries. I bought an eggplant, a zucchini, and a vibrant red pepper. These rank high on my list of favorite vegetables. I was hoping to get some tofu as well, but they only took cash, and my pocket change would only allow me so much.

Back at residence I chopped up the vegetables under the hydrogen lighting of my bathroom, then marinated them in rosemary white wine vinegar (amazingly cheap at our grocery store), olive oil and oregano.

Next I grilled them all separately on my heaven sent George Forman grill, grilling them until desired softness.

The result: amazing. The grilled eggplant was the best, tasting like fries but only better, with a much nicer texture and flavor. It tasted sinfully delicious even though I was basically eating fresh vegetables. Eat this and never eat fast food again. Eating well doesn't have to be boring, or lacking in flavor.
eat your veg

Dessert was packaged, but still a good quality chocolate bar that was well enjoyed.

Here are some of my favorite food blogs:

Seattle Bon Vivant:
La Petite Cuisine:
La Cuillere en Bois:
Cooking With Amy:

Bonne appetit.

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Monday, April 04, 2005

too much

Some days my boss stares at me over a pile of bills and says "Too much," while putting on a thick Russian accent.

She works seven days a week, stays late after closing, puts her sweat and blood into the clothing she sells and fights to pay her bills. "Too much," I agree. "Too much," she says again. Eventually we laugh.

I often find myself swimming in to-do lists. At the moment I'm struggling to finish the year, deal with life's complications, and plan my future journeys. The fine details awaken only yawns in my system. That and maybe a stomach ulcer or two from stress.

Will I spend my life constantly running? There will always be taxes to pay, a stomach or more to feed, an alarm clock to awaken me and duties to attend to.

In a modern world of mass technology these simple tasks almost seem to complicate themselves. My needs are superfluous and yet necessary for the time I live in. I need internet, a computer, a phone, face wash, cover up; multicoloured products from supermarket shelves.

The worst part is I would be desperately restless without a life of complications.

When I have nothing to do I make errands up. Everything is either too much or not enough.

At times like this I must strive for simplicity. When everybody and everything is trying so hard to be different, exciting, and interesting, it is best just to sit aside and grin. "Keep it simple," I mutter under my breath.

I'm always surprised to find that when I exercise simplicity the result is unforced, unpretentious, effortless, and honest.


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Friday, April 01, 2005

gillian in wonderland

If I was on acid it would make much more sense.

But I'm tripping on my imagination, lost in a parallel universe of thought.

Things make sense if I write them out, if they're tangible, if they're beautiful, different, miscalculated or offbeat.

As soon as rules, titles, facts or figures enter my dreamy world I fall off track. I used to sit through Math and Science and feel as if the teacher were speaking German. While other students scribbled down answers and stuck their hands up all I could do was scrawl in my notebook and avoid being asked anything.

It's brought on a life long struggle of convincing myself I'm not stupid.

I'm still struck daily with the whip of matters I cannot grasp. When I miscalculate important purchases at work at my cheeks turn a rosy red. When important historical dates or political knowledge come up in conversation I stare into the distance.

Sometimes I'm so lost in thought I find it hard to carry a simple conversation. I become distracted by a thought, by something in the sky, by a colour seen out of the corner of my eye. I grasp for words and reach for a generic answer. I fear I'll be taken as a bimbo and try not to flick my hair as I walk away. I don't even want to drive a car out of fear of being side tracked and killing a mother driving her six-year-old son to school.

If the mind is a drug, then I'm getting way too high. Sometimes it just seems the best place to be.

in living colour