January 29, 2008
Some ill-composed thoughts on Paris
Paris turned out to be just Paris; and that, of course, was more than enough for me. Paris had only to be Paris: Paris was just so.
It helped that within 30 seconds of strolling the streets, a handsome man came up and told me I was beautiful even though Patrick was right beside me. It helped that I spent my first night drinking Strawberry Fields at a bar that was so full of life that everyone was clapping their hands to the music and the waiters were dancing. It helped that we were staying in the Latin Quartier and that our 400 year old hotel was in the same building as Shakespeare and Co. And it helped that the women were so naturally beautiful that you could lose your heart a hundred times a day, if not to their wan loveliness than to their coats, which were cut in the most flattering ways I've ever happened to notice.
All my life, Paris has been the city of my dreams. For as long as I can remember I have stared at that country on the world map and mentally transported myself to tiny Normandy fishing villages, chateaux of the Loire valley, and the lavender fields of Aix-en-Provence. Somewhere deep, deep down, I think I've lived in France in past lives; I feel that I've know the country and that I've loved the city that is Paris. So it was surprising when I found myself undeniably nonchalant as we rolled into the Gare du Nord late that first night.
I figured out why soon enough. For all the frothiness and fervour surrounding the idea of "my first trip to Paris!", Paris was just a city. It was a city, like I come from a city. I guess I expected magic, but, happily, I found solid ground instead. But I did feel instantly at home in Paris; my head was on straight, I could problem solve, I could speak the language, and I was strong enough to really help people. That's what Paris was like for me. I just felt better in it.
It's just that for the longest time, when I pictured myself in Paris it was as a single girl, and I'm not that anymore. I'd live in Paris for one reason and one reason alone; to break hearts; regrettably, of course. But suddenly, I don't want to do that anymore. And as great as Paris was, as much as I felt a part of the people, being part of a couple, Paris loses something. The natives are just too good looking and they're way too forward to risk going there as a couple. Better to leave the living there to past lives and adolescent fantasies about being the centrepiece of every cool bar in the city, every pictoresque place dans le parc.
I'd always thought Paris would be the greatest city on the planet. It came damn close: New York nixes it and Montreal does too. But it is still top three. And I know that if I come to be in any severe need of finding myself, I will go to Paris to do so. If I go to any city at all . . .
January 28, 2008
Blog. Fart. Hiss.
I'm in a stinker of one today. A dark, shiny mess of a place
It's my first night alone in months . . . literally
I was worried about being alone so I cooked a nut loaf (the vegetarian equivalent of "the roast"), prepared some potatoes for roasting and some brocolli and spinach for steaming. I then set about calling all my friends, telling them to come over and enjoy some gin and tonics ("I've got the Hendricks, hey!") then a meal as wholesome as they were likely to get in their lives. No one bit. Everybody busy. Linda alone. Linda in bed now with the lappy, a single malt and the air conditioning. What will become of this?
In my sorry state that only a self-indulgent, "I've got nothing else to do" kind of post can fix, I'm going to compose two lists for your voyeuristic pleasure. The first list is things that I know for sure. The second is a list of things that I don't know. And then I'll make like Dr Phil and believe that a public airing of dirty laundry is the only way to truly get it clean. So I will try to as honest as I can and as true to my mood as I can, and see if the veil of fug lifts after my publishing
Things I Know for Sure
1) Finn is my cat, Patrick my boyfriend
2) I am a drinker of single malts
3) Stephen Merritt is, for me, the most mythological figure in
pop, along with Jeff Mangum, of course
4) I have depression
5) I am loved
Things I Don't Know for Sure
1) I don't know what I'll be in terms of my career
2) I don't know why I get so bloody bored sometimes
3) I don't know how an air lock works (underwater, like in Lost)
4) I don't know if I'm a writer
5) I don't know if I'll get up with my alarm tomorrow
Feeling better. Sometimes binary divisions are all you really need. The deep, darker feelings can be surprisingly near to the fun, trivial stuff.
Oh, alright, if I've got to give you something you can use (and I should) . . . Here it is: I'm going downstairs to watch "Flicka" with Alison Lohman; I got it on DVD for $12 at Kmart. I now, officially, suck harder than you.
January 18, 2008
The Thought Fox
Out in the middle of it there is a frozen-over pond, a small one, but it takes up most of the vista that we're permitted by the trees to see. Every direction reveals the same thing; white, crusty snow and evergreen trees, spruce and birch. I am strangely pleased when Gus takes out a cigarette and leans back on the ATV to smoke it. I move towards a particularly smooth hump of snow and drop my knees into it, deeply and snugly. Gus warns me to be careful but I am expert at ignoring warnings about the cold. No one understands how hot my resting constitution is; they don't get that it can be -20 and, providing I've got one thermal top on, I won't feel any cold at all. I love this climate. In this climate I can breathe. FInally, I can really breathe.
We don't see the longed-for fox, the flash of orange that I precognize every time I turn my head. We don't see a moose and we don't see a deer. We just see a loon, an ordinary loon on an ordinary pond. But this is not the real wilds. This is the easily accessible wilds, essentially Paddy's childhood back yard. Still, the air is like crystal and the colours are pristine. And all the moisture in the air has turned my complexion into that of a clean white peach. Again, I love this climate, I really love this climate.
We move though the trees and over sturdy wooden bridges. Despite the harshness of the environment, human life is taken very seriously in this part of the world and I feel safe in the ATV that Paddy's dad has prepared for us, and on the many little bridges that allow you to cross over a thousand icy streams. We stop at one of the cabins that we pass and Gus introduces us to two of his friends and we all share beers. They are hardy guys, real guys, in snow suits, who work off shore on rigs and eat the moose that they hunt when they're not. I look at Paddy, thin even in his snow gear, and quieter than the rest of us, and I know that he, too, is one of them, in his own way. That he is a real man of the land, though he does different work and has no interest whatever in killing animals. He is of this land, but he has escaped being from it. He is a Newf. And I can't stop looking at him in this new light. He comes from tough people. He is tough people, already.
But it is getting dark and a snow storm is predicted for tonight. Also, I am feeling the need for a hot chocolate and some of Paddy's ma's cooking. After we serially turn the snow yellow (the toilet was frozen), it is back on the bike machines and on to home. The beginnings of the snow storm have set in motion and we are riding back with tiny, constant flakes of snow flying into our faces and mouths. I can't stop giggling. The wind has always made me laugh---it is my favourite of the elements---but when combined with the beginings of snow, it takes on a more comical element; it has support, it's got back-up and the whole thing seems more fabled than without it. This trip has marked the first time I have seen snow. And I breathe it. I don't merely love it, I breathe it.
Once I am home I realise how tired all that fresh air has made me; I am tired to the bone. It is New Year's Eve but we are not up to much. When we finally pour our wine into glasses and toast to the years 2007 and 2008, I have already made my New Year's resolution and it is a long overdue one: that I will not actively pursue any more self-improvement. Period. Finally, mercifully, I am ready to make my way in this life. So there will be no more loathesome cross-examinations or tireless self-promotion on this blog; there will just be the directness of the hitting air and, hopefully, occasionally, something approximating the flash of an orange ribbon; the fox, my nature, running smoothly over this surface and into memory.
The Wolf and the Crane: A Russian Fable
One of the most interesting statues we saw in Russia was this one of the Wolf and the Crane, just outside the Kremlin.
I looked up the story and, as usual, it turned out to be one of Aesop's fables. It goes like this:
A Wolf had been gorging on an animal he had killed, when suddenly a small bone in the meat stuck in his throat and he could not swallow it. He soon felt terrible pain in his throat, and ran up and down groaning and groaning and seeking for something to relieve the pain. He tried to induce every one he met to remove the bone. "I would give anything," said he, "if you would take it out." At last the Crane agreed to try, and told the Wolf to lie on his side and open his jaws as wide as he could. Then the Crane put its long neck down the Wolf's throat, and with its beak loosened the bone, till at last it got it out.
"Will you kindly give me the reward you promised?" said the Crane.
The Wolf grinned and showed his teeth and said: "Be content. You have put your head inside a Wolf's mouth and taken it out again in safety; that ought to be reward enough for you."
Gratitude and greed go not together
This made so much sense from the point of view of tyrannical Russian rule. I swear the metaphorical translation of it would go something like:
Don't bicker and moan that you've been fucked by us in the past. Just be grateful we didn't fuck you in the ass!