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Thursday, December 07, 2006

one bite at a time

I tap my spoon on the caramelized surface and it breaks like a sidewalk in an earthquake.

If anything can shake my world up it’s crême brulée. I slide my spoon into it’s custard centre and lift it up to my mouth. My mother’s spoon digs in beside mine and lifts up a small piece.

We eat in silence and exchange smiles. Our spoons lift and drop religiously into our sacred dessert.

We're sitting in an Italian restaurant in Toronto's Little Italy, and the chef has insisted we have crême brulée, regardless of how full we are.

I can remember almost every crême brulée I’ve ever eaten. I remember a night where my mother and I couldn’t sleep, both restless at around two in the morning in our old country house in France. We tore open a package from the fridge, stuck our store bought crême brulées in the oven and under the broiler, and tasted late night ecstasy.

And while it’s always been hard to steal my heart, I couldn’t but fall for the young musician with dark locks, who worked as a sous-chef in our small town. One night I was walking the small cobblestone road to the statue on the hill to watch the sun set. I had a book and my camera with me. I passed by the back doors of the restaurant where he sat outside with the other cooks, and my friend, the dishwasher. In checkered pants and a white button-up shirt he grinned and asked whether he could heat himself up a crême brulée. Everything about him seemed excited and passionate. This must have what persuaded me to get him into my life, into my bed, and why I still have trouble getting him out of my head.

I’m a sensualist and I like other sensualists. If it weren’t for the pleasures of food, fashion, music and touch I would be a lifeless creature. If I couldn’t dress up every morning, paint my face, blast Ray Charles and eat something sweet, getting out of bed would be an effort.

As I grow older my passions become more and more clear. I have recently made the decision to switch into a more design-orientated program than journalism. I’m aiming for fashion communications so I can focus in on fashion journalism and bring my true interests to life.

I was afraid to tell my mother, the writer, about my motive to leave. I have always wanted to be the intellectual my mother is, to be the literate writer she raised me to be. But, as she often tells me, I am my own person.

In elementary school I took part in a club called Night of the Nobles, where every member had to take on someone famous, portray them and dress as them. My mother pushed me to be Beatrix Potter, a writer, or a dancer. Instead I put on a glitzy gold dress and went as Marilyn Monroe. Surprise.

I tell her this over dinner and she understands. I am who I am. I like what I like. I like writing, but it is not my life, and I can't digest the news well enough to pursue that stream of journalism.

Maybe I'm addicted to change. Maybe I'm young and don't know what I want. But life is too short not to eat crême brulée once and a while and taste what life has to offer.

winter morning
stopped in my tracks


Blogger Raj said...


I love your approach to life, to live it with passion, to make the most of what is beautiful and enjoyable to inspires me to do the same.



9:13 PM  
Anonymous Alice said...

I agree with Raj. As lost as you say you may feel, you sound like you have your head on your shoulders and you know what you want -- much more than I do, and I'm more than 10 years older than you! I'm still searching for myself and trying to focus my ambitions, and I wonder if I've truly followed my heart over all these years because I've just had so many different, varying interests.

In any case, your writing is beautiful and reflective, so passionate and true, that you shine through every word. Chapeau, ma belle !

6:13 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Joy said...

Over creme brulee, your Mom will understand anything. ;) Gil I still adore your writing. Your Mother did well!

Follow your dreams. The road may have many a winding curve and even some detours. Just go forward bravely!


7:25 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

You've likely made the right decision about journalism. I ran into a girl in the RCC today who has been in my class every year since 1st, but dropped out this term. She looked happy, for the first time in those three years. She told me she's finally figured out what she wants to do...and we talked about how it takes a lot of guts to come to that conclusion.

You've got guts.

Looking forward to meeting you on Thursday.

3:36 PM  
Blogger eurobrat said...

I was in the FC program at Ryerson- I switched out to pursue a more online and travel oriented academic career, but it is an amazing program.

And about creme brulee- my mother and I are the same! It's like a gastronomical orgasm :)

Good luck with Fashion Communication.

4:07 PM  
Blogger l'embrouillamini said...

I feel that it is so easy to become trapped into thinking that once you have made a decision about your career, you can't change your mind. I am studying for an Honours degree in Linguistics with hopes of working in the domain of child language, but I secretly harbour desires to write novels, work in fashion or to be a travel writer.
My Mum has always taught me that the world is my oyster, and the same counts for you, Gill. Good luck with your new course - it sounds fab!

4:29 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

aaaaaaaaand journalism at ryerson just lost its best writer. that's a lot of pressure to put on us...

I'm glad you'll be doing whatever it is you want. Just be at my place this Monday. We'll talk more then.

5:54 AM  

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