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Sunday, July 31, 2005

joyeuse anniversaire

We used to walk to school with matching Sailor Moon umbrellas, and run through a stranger's sprinkler when the summer sun was too much for us.

We used to jump on my bed and dance to Ace of Base, then make perfumes out of shampoos and lotions found in the bathroom.

She always laughed hardest at my jokes. To this day she makes me believe I'm someone worth spending time with. She laughs, listens, and always seems reluctant to say goodbye.

Karyna has been by my side, on and off, since we found each other at elementary school. A regular at my kitchen table, this fine young woman never ceases to amaze me and my family.

Karyna has been herself from day one. Never a crowd follwer. She is always bursting with ideas, projects and a strong personal sense of style.

I don't have enough fingers to count the amount of times I've envied her individuality. Her beauty. The radiance she exudes by simply breathing.

She's not anybody, somebody or everybody, she's her own strong willed body.

I hope her head is held high today on that modelesque body of hers.

Happy Birthday Karyna, I send you love across the ocean. Gros bisoux, et je t'embrasse tres fort.

beautiful Karyna

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Saturday, July 30, 2005

it's not goodbye, it's aurevoire

It's not goodbye. Soon I'll see her face in France again, maybe in fall, maybe in winter.

But everytime my mother and I split ways, we hold our breaths. How long will it be until we feel the ease of each others company again? It's never too long, but months are months, and sometimes they pass slowly. And when all you need is the comfort of the others touch, the ocean seems far too large.

Soon she'll be flying back across the Pacific to Vancouver, and soon I'll be on a train to Paris.

My life feels unreal at times like this. There are times I feel nomadic, homeless, happy and yet confused by the life I've made for myself.

I listen to a song about a girl who's only happy in the sun, who only knows hellos and goodbyes, and I feel as if I'm being sung about.

Could I inspire you enough to write a song about me? I'd like to have the ability.

My train of thought is moving faster than the overnight train my mother is on right now, hopefully nestled into her couchette and snoring into the night.

I listen to music, I clean the house, I go to the bar, I write, I think and I write.

I suffer slightly in a relationship that will soon come to an end. Knowing it is too much and yet not enough for me. I can hardly handle it when perfection becomes tainted, and romanticized eyes turn away from me. When I crave passion, desire and emotion, but receive a soft kiss on the lips instead.

Are you following me? Probably not. But follow me to Paris. Soon. I promise to get my thoughts together and to make it a journey worth taking.

aurevoire maman

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Monday, July 25, 2005

the sunriser

Most mornings I rise with the sun. Sometimes earlier. Sometimes I find myself wide eyed at four in the morning, already consuming my breakfast of cereal with raisins and fruit, or large chunks of chocolate if I can find any.

On good mornings, like this morning, I wake around six or seven, hours which seem much more humane and socially acceptable. Hours which seem somehow saner.

I woke up at six this morning, and kept myself busy until seven with emails and a big mug of hot chocolate.

At seven I walked passed the patisserie to find it was still closed. Knowing the family run business would soon be open, I took a five minute detour and came back to find the door ajar, but the lights still off.

I sat outside as the man inside filled the cash register with change, arranged the baguettes behind the counter, switched the lights on and set things up.

The center square of the village-La Place-was quiet and still, the bar lights switching on as they set up for morning customers, the stone walls lit by morning light and the large roman numeral clock revealing it to be just past seven.

I let a few customers enter the patisserie before me. An older man rushed in, urgent to get a baguette, a pack of gum and some change. The next one in was a young girl, tired eyed and straight out of the shower. She explained to the shopkeeper that she had to fetch the croissants because her mother was taking care of the baby, and then stopped to ask me why I would be up at such an hour, and sitting in such a way outside the patisserie. I explained that I was hungry for croissants, and was planning on getting them as soon as I felt more awake.

After a few minutes I stepped into the shop, and walked out with a warm bag filled with un croissant, une chocolatine, and deux pains aux raisins. There is something deeply satisfying about returning home with this soft warm bag; a morning treat for everyone in the house.

The two pain aux raisins were for my mother and I. They are a flat danish shaped pastry, with dough rolled around itself and filled with raisins. It’s almost like a diabetic version of a cinnamon bun…but without the cinnamon as well.

Back in our old house, I sat myself down with my pain au raisin, as sounds of sleep carried through old walls. The pastry was warm, practically like hot dough laced with raisins. My heart sang and my taste buds whistled. There is no better way to start the day than with the most butter filled carbohydrate you can get your hands on.

Still slightly restless, I took off on a short walk, my heart still singing. The past few days my head has been caving me in, leering me into a depression that I am fighting off as hard as I can. But this morning there was no sign of these dark thoughts, and my body and mind felt at peace, a rare and joyous occasion.

Back at home I slipped my lacy shorts and camisole back on and snuggled myself back into the tussled comforter on my bed. I was eager to get a couple more hours of sleep in while the rest of the house woke up, hopefully happy to find a warm bag of pastries on the dining room table.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

mars is a long way away from venus

Even the simplest of relationships have the ability to create storms in my mind. Smooth sailing just seems so unheard of as soon as someone else is on board. And even when all is still, I've got to rock the boat, and it's usually my fault that I end up drowning.

Looking through old poetry, I know it's always been this way.



I think I was drunk half the time
When I was with you,
I wanted to take the edge off,
I thought it would make things easier;
Maybe I'd speak my mind,
Discover your body,
Discard my clothes,
But I shied out every time.
I was afraid, and so were you,
I think we made each other nervous.
You read me your journal,
Strummed your guitar,
Tried to find a purpose.
All this time
I lay on your bed,
Wishing you'd touch me instead.

I didn't understand your body language,
I never knew what you wanted,
I thought about you too much;
My thoughts made you flawless.
Whenever I had you
I didn't know what to do with myself,
My hands didn't know how to find you
My lips moving,
Always moving,
Bad joke after bad joke.
I couldn't say anything that meant anything;
I laughed my way out of knowing you,
Until my phone stopped ringing,
Your eyes fell off my face;
Left with nothing but the thought of you
A love that had no taste.


Thoughts On A Night's Walk

How can I believe you?
Your conscience is drowning,
Your hands are shaking,
And your head is heavily pounding.
You talk about love,
But your words have slurred into one.
Your hands try to find me,
Try to make me come undone,
Your mouth tries to persuade me,
And says I’m the only one.

I walked home in the cold
Among unfamiliar faces,
Couples wrapped up in each other,
Headed different places.
The rain ran down my back,
And I knew I should go home,
But my mind had gone off track,
So I kept walking on my own.
And I kept mistaking the leaves
For broken beer bottles,
And seeing your face in puddles.
I walked right into them,
And you soaked me to the bone.

I've run into nothing
And everything at once,
Smoking your rolled cigarettes
I loved you more than once,
More than twice.
And you keep saying
How I'm your everything,
But you won’t look me in the eyes,
Making everything mean nothing.
I’m tired of lies,
Of empty words,
Promises broken in half,
No truth left to honest eyes.

You clutter my mind
Like the boxes in my basement
That I tried to hide away;
I only want to talk to you
But there's nothing left to say.
I'm always waiting for you
When you don't come,
Loving you
When we've come undone.
How can I stay with anyone
When I've split up with myself?



You handed me your heart
Bleeding raw on a platter,
And I tore it apart
Because to me it didn't matter.

I ate it with greed;
Complained it tasted too sweet,
I'm not what you need
All I have is conceit.

I fed you numerous lies,
Simply because I was bored;
I kissed all the other guys
Because you said you wanted more.

My lips are guilty, stained with blood,
My face gone pale, as your sad eyes flood.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

it's hot as hell, but it feels like heaven

I feel like walking through the streets naked.

The temperature has risen at full force and the sun is making love to my skin again. It's so hot there's often little room for clothing or modesty. I wear the shortest skirts I can get my hands on, often forget a bra altogether and am sometimes forced to hike my shirt up to expose a sweating stomach.

Although my troubled mind still has its episodes, I'm often struck by how good I feel these days.

It's the sun, the food, the people, the culture and the ease of summer days. After spending entire days in the kitchen for the writing workshop, the days are long and stretch ahead like the flowing landscape.

This morning we went to a market in a neighbouring village for fresh produce. Vendors yelled in French, and the small streets were filled to the brim with tourists and locals. We filled our basket with peaches, nectarines, and apricots I devour as if they're filled with MSG, one after another. Their flavour is out of this world.

And that's often how I've felt lately: out of this world. I feel as if I'm floating around in some sub-reality. And everytime I start to take something too seriously, I realize it's all just a dream anyways. I've got to live this summer like the dream it is, to love and taste every moment, every apricot, every kiss from a tall dark Frenchman.

Later today I wrote a song in French. It is a love song, but sweet and subtle, about being taught how to wake up, touch, dream, and feel. It's called 'Tu Ma Appris': You Taught Me.

And even though I can't sing, I love to hear my voice take on this language with such passion. And even though I drink too much, swear too much, can't control my outbursts and wear my skirts far too short, these days I'm so happy with myself that my jaw aches from smiling.

My dreams and aspirations are bursting at the seams, I want so much, and am allowing myself to dream as big as the Eiffel Tower. I want to write, cook, travel, love and be loved. There are still so many flavours and exotic spices yet to touch my tongue. I want to find happiness and hold on hard. I want the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful.

But I'm also living in the moment and savouring summer. These are the days you want to bottle up and smuggle home with you.

our house
night song

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

la petite blonde

I must confess, I love this place.

I sit with a giant mug of strong tea, listening to the birds outside in this small town. I’ve been coming to Castelnau de Montmiral, a small town in the South of France, for years now. When we first came I may have been around four or five, having just finished my first year of kinder garden. I had wispy white blonde hair, a mischievous smile and a very small grasp on the French language.

I entered the French school system, and had no idea what anyone was saying to me. I used to peer over at the work of the girl beside me, trying to carefully scribble the same thing she had written. It’s strange how vivid the memory of doing this is. I didn’t feel good about it, but the teachers spoke a different language than I did, literally.

I remember picking cherries in the schoolyard, playing games where we would yell in French and run around like the headless chickens at the local markets.

I had a bright pink knapsack that I carried around with me triumphantly. My mom had given it to me one night when she arrived home late in the evening from a trip she’d been away on. It was far past my bed time, but I waited for her patiently. When she finally arrived she gave me the gift of this bright pink knapsack, as well my own package of cookies. Considering the kind of person I am, you can imagine my joy, a bright pink knapsack AND my own box of cookies. I was as happy as a stoner in Amsterdam.

I took both to school the next day, eating and savoring the entire box with my best friend, a small Moroccan girl, Sana, whom I spent most of my breathing moments with.

I used to go to Sana’s house and eat rich Moroccan dishes her mother had prepared. I remember a giant platter with fries, vegetables and meat in a juicy sauce. One day she offered me cookies, this large loving woman, and asked me how many I would like. Overwhelmed by the idea of having as many as I wanted, I took around eight. She smiled.

And Sana’s younger brothers, small brown figures with intelligent faces, used to take baths in the back of the room where I could see them, hot water running into a big basin, they would yell and sing as their mother attempted to clean them. Her younger sister, Awatif, used to chase us around and try and join in on our games. She would yell up to us from outside, and we would peer down from my third floor window, make excuses and giggle to ourselves.

One night they had a large Morrocan party at her house. A group of men in one room were beating bongo drums with a passion. The rooms were filled with people. There was smoke, drinks, dancing, and life all around me. Two English girls walked me home when it got too late, my small figure making it obvious that I was up past my bedtime.

I still see Sana, but our conversations are quick, and she spends most of her summers visiting Morrocco.

I still walk these streets with long blonde hair trailing down my back. I still sometimes feel like that young girl.

my village

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

who do you turn to?

The other night I sat around a table drinking and smoking my head into oblivion. I clearly remember thinking one prominent thought: no one will ever be able to love me as much as I want them to.

I can't help but wonder if anyone will ever feed off my mind, body and soul as much as I need them to.

Across the table from me sat an ex boyfriend that I dated on and off for several summers. He has this way of barely acknowledging my presence, and sending me vibes that run like ice cubes down my spine. He used to make me feel this way just before telling me that he was falling for me. Maybe I just don’t know how to read him.

But the cold vibes made my heart ache. And every time I looked over at his face, which I still find painfully attractive, the scar on the right side of his nose brought back too many memories. Fuck you, I thought, I gave you my lips, my arms, and my patience every time you never showed up when you said you would. I don't have to feel this way anymore.

Beside me sat my new dark haired beau. He was so lost in thought that I was feeling like I’d lost him. I grow paranoid when he grows distant, sure that his eyes have finally fallen off my face. And I keep thinking about how afraid I am to give him my heart, beating and bleeding in my hand. I’m afraid of seeing it eaten, refused, or left to rot in some dark corner.

Before I could disappear in my thoughts he turned his attention back to me. Once again I had his eyes, his warm hands, and his face leaning into mine. And I realized we share the same blank stare that has only to do with being lost in thought. He probably writes lyrics in his head in the same way that I scribble poetry in mine.

When we went home later that night he danced through the streets. I clutched my stomach and from laughing too hard. When he does things like this I wonder how someone so right for me ended up in my life.

And the next night when we sat outside on the streets, he touched his guitar and sent music into the sky. It felt so good it could have been me he was touching instead.

He’s hitting all the right chords. I’m afraid that when the song ends their won’t be an encore, that the stage lights will turn off, that everyone will go home, and that I’ll have to face reality. I’m afraid of the day when I’ll feel like Miss American Pie and mourn the day the music died.

But even as I write these words, I strike a chord that says “You know you’d be okay.” Because I like myself, I love myself, and I know that I am okay by myself.

There’s just something so foreign about loving and feeling loved in return that makes it seem a road worth traveling down. But when it comes to feeling completely understood, loved and appreciated…I think it’s a good thing that I know to turn to myself.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

everybody wants my body

When I was a young girl I looked up at my mother from my bath and said: “Aren’t vaginas beautiful, mom?” God, I mean what a great kid. This poem is in praise of the word body, and of the body itself.

Nobody has every loved my body
As much as you.
And not just anybody
Is somebody enough,
To have permission
To be so close to this body.
But we’ve created this body of love,
Of lust,
That follows us around
Like a strong perfume.
And you don’t even need to say anything,
Because I speak
Your body language.
You have the most beautiful body,
And embody everything
I’ve ever wanted
In a lover.
I’m afraid somebody else
Will realize
Jus how perfect you are
And that your body
Will grow out of my reach.
You’ve given body
To a life gone limp,
And nobody
Has ever done that for me
And my body.
I just thought
Somebody had to say it,
Because everybody
Deserves to know
They have a beautiful body.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

dancing on tables

My mother says that every time she dances on a table she's one step closer to liberation. I've seen her get up on restaurant tables, a poker table, and the tables of many open minded friends.

The other night while we were having our writers feast at the restaurant, my mother approached our charming waiter Harold and asked: "Harold, do you mind if I dance on the table?" "On the table?" He repeated in a French accent most women admitted made them want to take him home. "Yes, on the table."

Handsome Harold proceeded to pick out some appropriate music, filling the room with the voice of a sultry French male singer. And up on the table she went. We clapped, we cheered, and watched confused staff occasionally pass through the room. Eventually everyone was dancing, the room filled with writers, with women, all moving their bodies in any way that pleased them. We twirled, turned, clapped and snapped our fingers. The energy was beautiful, and in my mother's attempt to get one step closer to liberation, she liberated us all.

It's funny how easy it is so to stay imprisoned in our bodies. To say we're okay when we're not. To tuck our darkest secrets so deep inside that they intoxicate our insides. The writing course taking place has a lot to do with breaking down these barriers and opening the cages that hold dark truths. The group of women taking the course are brave, and are pushing their boundaries and opening their souls through movement and writing. It's called Body Soul Writing, and that's exactly what it is.

Over dinner stories were shared. One women spoke about running out in the rain during one of her writing workshops, stripping down to her underwear and rolling in a mud hole. Women spoke about skinny dipping, nude beaches, swimming topless in the ocean in Cuba.

All this helped me realize I still have a lot of living to do. I still have so many walls to break down and so many boundaries to cross.

I don't want to live feeling restricted, and although I'm not going to burn my bra or run down the street naked, I'd like to make some changes.

I'm inspired by knowing that I still have many oceans to swim in, cultures to taste, people to meet, and a world of colour to discover. Most women in this group are still living this life of discovery, and only add to my belief that age is meaningless. Many of these fine creatures will never grow old.

Over the past few days there have been fears, tears and a lot of pushing. I have sat in the back seat, working mostly in the kitchen, yet still a part of this womb that's been created. There is a warmth between all the women, a sense of love and protection. Some come in and hug me before breakfast. I feel as if I've learned to love all over again. Even that's a liberating feeling.

the women dance
my mother dances on tables..

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Saturday, July 02, 2005

eat your heart out, but save room for dessert

The past few days I have been high and low, sick and healthy, lovesick and lonely and then suddenly happy for solitude.

My dark haired lover showed up at my door to tell me he’d be going to the ocean for an infinite number of days. Feeling fragile after days of sleeplessness, my eyes filled with tears. He didn’t know if he’d be gone a week, two weeks, or more. He will be coming and going all summer. I felt as if my heart had been torn out of my chest and stomped onto the cobble stone streets to make a fine wine. My last image of him is of his body walking away, his head turned towards me, his hand reluctantly waving. Not wanting him to see me cry, I turned into my house, avoiding the usual eye gazing that continues until he’s completely out of sight.

He was ecstatic to have a vacation, a smile taking over half his face, and I was heartbroken to have his body so far from mine for so long. He told me he was going to walk all the way back- this is practically impossible-and show up at my doorstep.

After an hour of tears and troubled breathing I was cleansed. I was fine with the fact that he was gone, happy to have time to myself, to have time to catch up on some sleep and to remember who I am. I was so wrapped up in him that the thought of me was starting to lose meaning.

His departure may also be a blessing in disguise, as the writing workshop begins tomorrow and I must be in full form.

For a week I have the job of my dreams, preparing large feasts for all the writers and small meals for the professors, my mom and I.

Tonight a few of the writers arrived. Two were dropped at a house that I cleaned voraciously for five hours yesterday, and one at a beautiful bed and breakfast. I feel alive showing them around, doing what I can to help out, and watching them arrive one by one.

I made my first meal tonight, a simple feast for us four women: a large salad laced with marinated red peppers, corn niblets, fresh peppers, ripe tomatoes, endives, parsley, basil and a vinaigrette dressing. On the side I served ham from the butchers, a melon salad dressed with lemon and basil, cheese and bread. Dessert was a plate of thick chunks of French chocolate and biscuits, as we have more than a few chocolate lovers in the house.

I am currently feeling inspired. I’m surrounded by so much of what I love, and my hands are still moving. Tomorrow the rest of the writers arrive, and I make the welcome feast. I could eat the stars in the sky.