Saturday, April 29, 2006

Camera shy

The worst part of being a hair model is the waiting. People command you around the salon like a pug trainer. Sit here, dah-ling. Sit there. You try to use your psychic abilities to absorb the formula faster, and eagerly await your turn. Sometimes, if you are lucky - as I, thankfully, was - the stylist will be a good conversationalist whereupon the tediousness of the whole situation will not dawn on you until you're up on stage and being visually prodded with eyes of intense scrutiny.

"Est-ce que vous avez du jus d'ananas?" I ask the shampoo girl. She hands me a glass. I feel guilty, but after four hours in a too-chic chair, my request seems justifiable. I down two flutes and go back to reading W.

"What sort of hair is the hardest to cut?" I inquire M before the show.

"Yours," he says, without hesitation.

"Really, and the cut?" I continue, a bit embarrassed.

"Yours," he chuckles. Beads of sweat moisten his brow. "It's the hardest in the industry."

KA-BAM!

Give me thanks to Vidal Sassoon, I guess.

It was fun, I met other quite daring kids. (Teenagers tend to part with their locks a lot quicker than their mature counterparts here.) M had complained to me on the phone how Montreal girls all want to keep their hair quite long and were not very open to experimentation. I gave him permission to do whatever he liked with my mane because, quite frankly, I don't give a damn about it: I have absolutely no emotional attachment. So it was to my utmost surprise - and somewhat disappointment - that M vouched entirely for skill and ultimately gave me - yes, boohoo - a clean, ultra-modern shape with a rock & roll sensibility.

It's beautiful, but too safe, I feel. He made it easy for me to care for! I wanted asymmetry, dangit!

Ah well, he's asked me back for May: maybe I can get him to go a little more Edward Scissorhands. Snip, snip, I know, I know, careful what I wish for. But this London expat is the director, ranked a top Montreal instructor. We have good chemistry and share an aversion to "hairdressy" tactics - too much "creativity," not enough technique - so I trust that he will churn out something simple, yet unfathomably difficult to produce. Besides, I doubt he'd risk looking bad in front of his audience.

And really, would you turn down a three-figure treatment?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

My Mistake

This is a heartbreaking photo essay on the impact of Chernobyl 20 years later. Narrated by Paul Fusco.


Click on pic to start slideshow


***

Pizza delivery dude just trapped me into listening to his 20-minute monologue on the dangers of living alone.

"When I live in Pakistan, I think, '81. I see this man with the bandages, very [gestures narrowness], you know? And he say, 'Don't come near me!' so I say, Okay. I go home, and I BLIND! And you know, I no eat for days! So scared, I was a student. My parents ask me, What happen? What happen? But I no say. I have wife; what I do now? I no eat! City, everything closed. And neighbours, they no help, you see, because sometime [shrugs] you have good neighbours. Sometime, you not.

"And you know that building across from you?" he continued. "I ask what happen to the guy, and his neighbour tell me he die already 8 days and nobody know! Seriously, think about it."

"Thank you," I said with a nervous laugh. "I will get married just for you."

***

The Hitchcock exam went well. This chick in a cheap brown pashmina kept asking the professor for answers and hints before the test, so I interrupted and reminded her it was "an exam."

The class snickered.

"Well, hello? I have to know the characters' names!" she retorted.

"Maybe you should've studied for them," I countered.

Rawr! That shut her up.

***

Ugh, spoke too soon. Men are men, they drink and braid hair. The ball might be in his court, but I'm walking off. While I'm trying to avoid the game, it's like I'm being suckered into it too. He looks at me longingly across the auditorium, stands oh-so closely after approaching, then walks away absent-mindedly to mingle with other girls before disappearing off somewhere. Mixed messages? Hell yes. He's just not that into me.

Next!

(Oh sure, they might've invited me out and I decided to leave them before they returned. But he didn't personally ask me; I don't want to get stuck playing the "get to know you" role alone. What a goof. Shyness, aloofness, they're both cowardess in cock-speak.)

(And yes, I do realize I'm doing the "reject him before he can reject me" thing. Stop judging!)

(Crappazoa! Maybe he has a girlfriend! Maybe THAT was his girlfriend!)

(Oh. My. 300 thread count. I was led on ... AGAIN!)

(I will snuggle up to Mondovino, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, American Splendor, The Syrian Bride, and Network this week because movies: they're dependably satisfying. Bah! Dating is for dummies. Boo~ jerks! Boo jerks 4ever! How's that crocheted on a tankini?)

(The buffalo wings just came - meat make things good.)

(They're cold now! Damn you, pizza guy! Life suxxxx!)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Long Delay

I asked my kindly old professor if I could be his assistant for his class on Hollywood musicals next year. He agreed, but warned me that it might not be what I have in mind; I'll have to be ... technically savvy. I reassured him that I will do fine. It's a paid position and since he's personally vouching for me, I don't have to go through the bureaucratic system of lost resumes and unreturned phone calls.

And I suggested karaoke nights.

Because I am able to spout off the entire Cole Porter songbook by heart, which makes me, yes, a humongous nerd.

***

Sexy Spinster's coming up to see me this week! Oh girl, it's on ...

PALM READING CONTEST!

***

I just came back from waving off Banana Chic at the bus terminal. We had such a good time together doing touristy-yet-not-touristy stuff. Visited the architecture museum, attended the comedic play "Shit Job," watched a German foreign flick (Sophie Scholl = worth a box of hankies), clubbed in leu of entering a trannie strip joint (her idea), shopped (mine), had gourmet hot chocolate at a fancy schmancy chocolaterie (mine again), and chillaxed for hours under the sun (both of ours).

What did I buy? You know, some one-off closet staples and an Indonesian wood carving of a seahorse I named "Haagenslosh" in reaction to "CD rack". Same old, same old. I also carried home an IKEA tabletop someone threw out, jazzified it, and turned it into a wall installation. And this morning, I went to ye olde market and bought a few stems of purple orchids to put in my large, yellow, Rococo-excessive teapot from the Salvation Army thrift store. New sheets, new curtains, new towels: my apartment has basically been given a well-earned facelift.

Why, you ask? Well, my award money had to go somewhere since my tuition is fully covered by my givers (and takers) of life. Secondly, it's simply time: a fresh start begins with a fresh update to go with my new rock & roll Peggy Moffitt 'do (being a *sniff* hair model and all). Reason? M. Biologique apparently came by last week to remind me of his lowly existence again, but I thankfully wasn't home to receive him; cleaning house rids any remaining remnants of his skankery. Lastly, it's all due to love!

Okay, that's more than a bit of a stretch, but still closer to the truth than I'd care to admit.

And it's not with the $500 Miu Miu espadrille slingbacks I tried on and will never be able to afford nor the $400 Christian Louboutin wedges with turquoise ribbon detailing that make me want to slip out of all my clothes nor the DKNY sneakers I would've dropped and did 20 for but they didn't have them in my size nor even the red patent leather peep-toe pumps from Hugo Boss Banana Chic thought were the ugliest things since the Elephant Man. None of them! ... although they come very, very close.

No, it's with ... a man. Yes, one of those things. It's been two years since I've felt a pure pang of the giggles just thinking about somebody's voice over the phone, that frantic pull of delirium that overrules every rational gene as it overworks the senses to a halt. I smile when I picture him in his tortoise shell frames, brows furrowed, concentrating on a lecture. And I smirk when I remember how he calls me a bad girl, then imagine what I'd do to him as one.

Tall, lean, and dreadfully handsome with a wit that just won't quit. He's creative and cerebral and so funny it hurts, I knew something had to be forged. I told him to approach me and he shyly consented, happily handing over his digits. We corresponded, it was instant chemistry, I should have done this sooner. I was brash and assertive and ignored "the rules" because, as his gaggle of female "friends" can attest, the worse thing to be is another hanger-on whose affections he's oblivious to.

Oh crap, I'm gushing, gushing is counterproductive. I'll stop while the going is good and forget I have to see him tomorrow for our Hitchcock exam ...

A bonafide catch with no chip on his shoulder: What a delightfully novel concept!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tape

Banana Chic is visiting me for eight whole days! That is so crackin'. Although, I'm a bit disappointed because we planned to go to Paris this time this year, but I didn't receive notice of my award money until last week: way too late to take advantage of the deals. Crazy Pete offered to give me the keys to his apartment, too. He says he hates gay Paris - he's just forced to live there.

Oh well, there's always next year. And the year after that. And the year I go on my honeymoon. And the year I leave my alcoholic husband and win an all-expense paid vacation to France because Oprah felt sorry for me. Yeah ... I'll wait for that year to come.

***

HaiPhia called me an "over-achiever". I was taken aback by this comment. She said the difference between over-achievers and everyone else is that over-achievers refuse to hand in less-than-perfect work even on deadline, whereas no one else cares because they have nothing to prove.

I've always thought the definition of an over-achiever was synonymous with the A-type archetype: super goal-oriented, competitive, will stop at nothing to claw to the top.

It was disheartening to be labelled that. I mean, I have nothing to prove, but I still want to set a standard for myself even if it is based on someone else's. She says she can do things if she wanted to, but doesn't see a point trying to convince anyone that she can. I responded that perhaps that is the case, but after a while of not testing and evaluating your own abilities, you might not be able to do it if you wanted to.

For example, I was a math geek until high school, which is when I began to focus less on numbers and more on words. I had the math plaques to validate me, so I concentrated on my English studies instead (which continues to this day). Now, if you ask me what the N to the what over X to the who is, I wouldn't have a clue where to begin.

"Whatever," she said, "I know can do it if I wanted to."

Then added: "Besides, over-achievers are assholes. Not to say you are, you're somewhat humble, but most of them are assholes. And I wouldn't want to be like them," she sniffed.

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. But I don't see why I have to undermine my accomplishments and pretend I didn't deserve what I worked for just because it isn't cool to "care".

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Mining life for class

SHORT FEATURE STORY

When I decide to direct the movie of my life, my neighbours won't be in it. Their rotating arsenal of suspicious-looking guests will be glossed over as garden-variety trapeze artists performing for the poor. The midnight dry-heaving contests will be re-imagined as weekend games of hallway ring toss. And what of those 2 a.m. escapades that eventually lead to, "Lily! Open up. I haven't been drinking. I just want to talk to you"?

"Surprise package for the special gal next door!" the script will no doubt revise. Well, goodness me! Come on in. Don't act like we're strangers now.

It's not that I don't like my neighbours, mind you. Just one of them. The moodier of the two, the one helpfully named "Moody." Hair styled like Diana Ross, more bags under his eyes than an airport terminal, the man is a lightning rod for possessive women wanting marathon sex for two.

Moody was again having issues with his girlfriend one day which developed into a menagerie of predictable patterns. What began as something tolerable morphed into Dynasty for Dummies, replete with teased hair and running mascara smudged for killer effect. Her: A petite Italian with a penchant for stretchy pants and a temper just as flammable. Him: Pink shirts, gold chains, a seniors craft night project under the right lighting conditions. So I'd be lying if I said I didn't get some glee out of the inevitable fist in his face as she tore into her familiar spiel:

"You can't treat me like this!" she screamed by the elevators after having just been locked out. "I love you! I hate you! I hate you 'cause I love you! Baby, baby, baby - please don't do this to me!"

Of course, he yelled back and she fought back, until they both fizzled out at dawn, having exhausted their limit of Arabic profanities for the day in typical melodramatic fashion.

It was clear that they were exhibitionists. But I had become the voyeur.

I followed these quarrels outside my door and concocted fanciful narratives until speculation turned into profound sympathy when the arguments grew to be more frequent. Sometimes booze would be involved, but more often if would only appear that way (what with the remote controls and laptops being thrown, dropped, and hurled with not a drop of concern). I could hear her crying through the crappy thin walls; there was something bitterly familiar about them. She'd make accusations and he'd deny them, over and over again.

It was at this time that my (loosely defined) ex dared to show his face again. There had been no closure between us, no apologies, he simply vanished to date someone else. Resentment was finally dissipating, I was ready to fully let go, until his timely return brought with it more games of validation than the illusions of celebrity plastic surgeons. I hated him, yet I could only be gracious even as he tried by patience like before (since taking the high road is what the scorned do best and anything less would have been unsightly). So when the ex wasn't making a statement to get a rise out of me, Moody was there to take the evening shift. My curious involvement in the couple's distress was really a reflection of my own.

Their nightly kabuki-style performances highlighted what should have been, for me, more obvious: mutual respect wasn't supposed to be that hard to come by. What failed to materialize between the stonewalling and the sarcastic quips was our utter incompatibility of the heart. I'd curtail his ego and he'd ignore me for days, and what I saw in Moody, I always justified in him: qualities deemed cute only by the masochist, pettiness explained as if it was playfulness.

I still see the ex sometimes and he still plays the martyr. Moody still argues with his girlfriend even as he searches for someone new. But I have yet to stop to listen in when they go off like bad food in the dumpster. Now I simply leave a message on their front door written on Post-Its of purple and blue:

IT'S 4 A.M.

PLEASE

SHUT UP

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dirty hands

My dad pulled some strings and helped transfer me to CCTV's foreign language news department instead. This Chinese gig is getting to be better and better. Hail to the Communists. Isn't life grand?

***

"Why are you always trying to ignore me?" asked M. Biologique as he stopped me on the mezzanine, kicking a Nerf ball around with his hippie friends. (Evidently, it's the hackey sack of the visually-impaired).

Why am I trying to ignore you?! Are you stupid or just plain manipulative? Because you've made my life resemble anarchy in the third-world, you dirtbag!

"I'm not ignoring you," I smiled back sweetly. "Why would I be?"

Now he has me acting passive-aggressive! Think happy thoughts, happy thoughts! Manet, Matisse, Magritte; Mondrian and Monet. Manet, Matisse, Magritte; Mondrian and Monet. Manet, Matisse, Magr... Oh, screw it. I'm just a masochist.

***

Three more essays due in 18 hours. Energy drinks draining from my system. Must ... buy ... more. Head keeps falling back against the headboard. Apartment looks like an active crack den. Nose bled several times yesterday. Thought perhaps I contracted leukemia from the computer screen - mental reasoning obviously impaired. Napped for an hour, telling everyone the news:

"Hey, check out my sweet bruises. I have cancer."

Woke up slightly refreshed. Then panicked: "Oh my God! I've been diagnosed!" Soon realized the cast of Grey's Anatomy aren't actual doctors. Deduced brain was only now crawling out of limbo. Ashamed it took this long to figure out. Actually went in search of bruises.

Upstairs neighbours humping to emo. I hope they catch retard.

Monday, April 10, 2006

because I have nothing else to whine about

*UPDATE*
Readerdroid has the pleasure of listening to me ramble a few times a year. Every time M. Biologique does something so fucking childish, it triggers a barrage of bile from me. I bounce back almost immediately, of course, knowing my life is pretty awesome and not at all worthy of complaint. Still, it's always nice to be able to vent to a girlfriend for a few hours. If it wasn't for Readerdroid's patience, I'd still be pouting. Screw taking the high road! I'm entitled to being a royal bitch. Why should I continue being cordial to someone who didn't give two shits about me? Hell yes, I'm doing the right thing by acting unreceptive and unresponsive. You don't give back a basket of rotting cow parts in place of a heart and call it compensation.

Why can't he play nice? Oh right, he's a passive-aggressive: "Watch out though if he thinks you have done something to him. He will dole out punishment that outweighs the crime and you will feel as if you have been hit in the heart by a 2 x 4. He will become excessive in his need to get back at you and can obsess on it until he feels that the person who has done him wrong has been dealt with properly."

That really put my worries to rest.

***

One misplaced glance, and I fall into a rut. After all these months, M. Biologique can't quite let go of his asshole persona. Even as I walk pass him, feigning innocence to his presence, and trying to renew my life again, he insists on conquering my ego because heaven forbid it's growing for a change.

It was the "getting in my way to kiss his girlfriend" schtick all over again, except this time, there was a courtesy wave, no girlfriend, and a lot of pandering to attractive women to appear more popular: "Don't throw away your brownie, give it to me. [*wink*]" And later, standing three feet from me so I'd be sure to get a good view of him as I worked. (I abruptly moved some distance away.) It's worse than high school! Here I am feeling bad for behaving too-cool towards him, and here he is reminding me why he deserves every ounce of my "Oh, it's just you" nonchalance. It's like he wants to give me a taste of my own medicine even though he instigated the fall-out. I get it. I don't matter and mean nothing to you. Really, you can stop now. I GET IT. Now let go and stop punishing me.

***

I hate waiting in line at the soup kitchen.

"Don't tell my friends you do that," my mom pleaded. "It so embarrassing."

"Actually," I reassured her, "there are a lot of Chinese people who go."

"Oh, no surprise," she clucked. "Chinese people so cheap."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

One semester

I was asked to be in a documentary on my kindly old professor. "He told us to speak to you because you're one of his more brilliant students." Well, that's flattering!

The problem is, I've only known this man for one semester. And for most of it, I suspected he had Alzheimer's (which I then discovered was just a brilliant ploy to confuse, deceive, and destruct). So I guess they won't be capturing any candid moments with me - just a whole lot of diplomacy.

***

Why am I writing on my blog instead of starting my assignments? Because ... it's just so hard to get started. Yesterday, I took the bus down to the other campus and was told the entire Mass Communications envelope - the one with the entire semester's readings - were (improperly) signed out. "By this man," the supervisor said, holding up the guy's student ID.

It was him. That bloody bastard. That assaholis interruptus I once asked to refrain from speaking when others were. I told my teacher about the situation without identifying who it was and she immediately sent a mass email condemning the perpetrator and demanding the papers back ASAP. That'll show him! Except ... since he's damn near 60, what are the chances he tends to his inbox on a frequent basis? I would think he tends to his bowel movements more often. But I sort of hope he fucks up even further so we are all granted an extension. So many essays in so little time, what am I to do?

Spending before thinking

I took Readerdroid out for dinner last night. We stumbled across a place called Casa Galicia on Ste. Denis street hidden among the bongo shops and sushi bars. It had a wonderfully intimate atmosphere with a traditional decor. We ordered tapas for two (chorizo and calamares) followed by individual plates of paella. So good. It's times like these that you come to understand what it really feels like to be fed right. As we talked, flamenco dancers made their way to the makeshift stage in the center of the room. These ruffled goddesses performed for about half an hour, bludgeoning the floor with their feet, perpetually contorting their battered bodies in a war of wills. It was an intensely hypnotic performance, utterly fantastic. And I, of course, drummed and clapped along because I have no shame and am easily moved. Go ahead and judge me.

"Lily, we're the youngest people here," Readerdroid whispered across the table.

Looking around, she was right. Everyone there were strictly investment banker-types with presumably investment banker-sized salaries. The food was delicious, the service was top-notch, but the bill came to be three figures. Oh, how lucky I am to be able to live outside my means without repercussion - I'm one spoiled sucker.

It wasn't until I got home that I discovered this place is hailed as "one of the best Spanish restaurants in North America." What the hell? Am I allergic to being reasonable? How come everything I display an interest in ends up being something of unnecessary luxury? It's like me and high-maintenance were born to breed together. I feel sorry for my parents. They lead such modest lives, yet here I am, cursed with expensive taste! O noble fool! A worthy fool! Motley's the only wear. That is, unless you're me and gush over knick-knacks at thrift stores and realize you've again selected the most expensive item in the shop. (Or that time I walked straight to "the perfect shoe," oohing and ahhing over the craftsmanship, until I was subsequently informed that it was made by Balenciaga with an AmEx Centurion-worthy pricetag of just over eight-hundred dollars. Thanks, but I'll settle for Jesus's sandals.) The irony of ironies is that I'm never attracted to men who can manage a lifestyle similar if not more extravagant than my own. Instead, I hold out for guys who can't tell their elbows from their knees because halved coconuts come in only one size.

***

A single glass of sangria brings me a throbbing buzz; I have no resistence to alcohol at all:

"What were you saying, Lily?"

"Oh man, I forgot. It's, like, stuck between my mental unibrow."

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hands in the air like I just can't be bothered

The opening paragraph says it all:

Dear Lily,

On behalf of the Undergraduate Scholarships and Awards Committee, and the In-Course Bursary Selection Committee, it is my distinct pleasure to inform you that you have been selected to receive the Nick Auf der Maur Award, valued at $1080.00.

I had applied for it on a lark. When I tore open the letter 15 minutes ago, I thought it was going to be a courtesy rejection from the loans department. I am so damn excited! This one was open to students majoring in either Journalism or Communication Studies. For months following the deadline, I'd walk pass the eponymously named street near mine and be afraid to look at the sign, positive that my submission would be overlooked (since it was a vitriolic rant thinly disguised as a "personal statement").

This is fantastic, absolutely fantastic! I am so grateful to have been selected. I still can't believe my last-minute (and hastily rushed) attempt to pacify my parents actually worked. I thought winning the Lindsay Crysler Award (another one for journalism) would be the only thing I left university with, besides my diploma. Ooh! But this kicks the chicken! I don't even feel the urge to shop with it. What is wrong with me?!

Given, this probably doesn't mean anything to anyone else out there. I mean, it's no Peabody, Nobel, or Pulitzer. Nevertheless, it's always nice to be recognized by anyone for anything.

I've received two out of the possible three in the program. I'm now galvanized to go three for three. What's there to lose? ... except the foot in my mouth.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Clock

*UPDATE* <---That's my best "I'm a homewrecker" face. Hint: The interview went a little too well.

***

It's raining. "The hippies aren't out today," said Sexy Spinster. I told her they weren't out here in Montreal either, "but I called one out of his tree." I'm getting ready to go interview this pro-rollerblader-turned-traceur at the movies. And I'm dressed like an old school Natalie Wood.

That's the thing about me. I'm not "retro-inspired", I really am radically retro. It's the reason I'm attracted to men who dress like Mister Rogers. Slacks and sneakers, wool cardigans and button-ups, they're catnip to me.

And hippies. I hate them. Yet there's something about their lack of basic hygiene ...

***

Yes, those are Mardi Gras beads.

You have a happiness level of: 92%

Two months until my birthday - I'm a real bloody mess right now. Finals are approaching and exam papers are just piling up. I feel overwhelmed by the workload, yet underwhelmed by the content. I haven't done my laundry in over a month, I've only just washed my dishes in nearly three weeks, and I've been ordering take-out every other night. There's a hefty bag sitting in the middle of my room full of old clothes I had planned to donate to the Salvation Army (as the usual case may be), but I can't scrounge up the cash to take the taxi ride there. My mom put another bundle of green stuff in my back-up account, encouraging me to use it to feed myself. "You stay home," she told me. "Call delivery." But ma! I protested. If I tip the driver, I won't have any change left [to do the laundry I've been avoiding since the beginning of March].

'Tis a sad existence, indeed. Yet it's somehow counterbalanced by the amount of pedagogical praise I've been receiving lately. For example, I was told it was a "privilege" to have gotten to know my work this semester by one. And I was completely floored when my kindly old professor spoke to me as if I were a peer today, betraying the formalities that came with being a pupil. He calls me "Shanghai Lily" (a nod to Marlene Dietrich's character in Shanghai Express). We discussed Hitchcock's movies at length and, emboldened, he said, "You've got [talent]. You've got the goods," and proceeded to give me personal writing advice. He confessed that a majority of his film students in both the undergraduate and graduate programs are still struggling for air, confined to analyzing the quality of acting instead of the symbolism of the art, incapable of seeing beyond the factors as they are on celluloid. He implored me to take his class next semester. "You're articulate, you're funny," he continued. "You have energy and personality!" I belong in front of the camera as well as behind it, he said. I blushed as I took in all the compliments; the encouragement I was receiving from him was - and I realize this is a loaded word - empowering. Here was this veteran of cinema, Ingmar Bergman biographer, Cannes regular, university founder, and intellectual extroardinaire telling me I've got "the goods". It was a very humbling moment. Like the Freudian system inherent in Hitchcock's films, I felt like the man who never wanted to disappoint his mother. In that instant, my mind raced back to my high school English teacher because it was under his tutelage that helped steer me towards my natural fortes. I can't help but enjoy what I'm doing because of him.

It was then that I understood Tom Hanks's acceptance speech during the 1994 Oscars where he thanked his drama teacher. It is a shame there are so few good teachers who have that sort of impact - I was tremendously lucky to have snagged one. Who knows where I would've ended up if I hadn't been poked and prodded to take on a challenge? Journalism makes me happy. Communication studies, too. And now that I'm also in film, it's like winning the lottery three times over. (You have my permission to start vomiting.)

***

Sexy Spinster and Math Judas spoke to me about their frustrations over the academic climate (or lack of) that exists in their university. We all thought it would be a plethora of mental stimulation when we graduated together two years ago. We thought we'd be in contant contact with like-minded people and begin a phase in our lives unparallelled in subjective breadth and depth. How wrong we were. The BA is the new high school diploma of yesteryear. Accessible and dumbed-down, the university environment takes on the demeanor of a spoiled child. Dull conversation punctuates class discussions, stupid commentaries overlap each other, it is not intelligence that makes one boring, but a limited amount of things to say. Sexy Spinster recounted how a friend of her's has a habit of explaining that she just has a "weird sense of humour" whenever a punchline goes over her head. Isn't that just a euphemism for "cultural ignorance"? I mean, she laughs once it's explained to her, but whatever genre of joke-telling you're prone to laugh at, most people still realize when something is supposed to be a joke. It is curious then to see this kind of defense mechanism at work: self-bravado in reaction to incomprehension. The irony is not lost on me. Why don't people take their learning seriously? You don't have to fly all the way to Europe to "discover yourself" when there's a host of mind-expanding resources here. (And I've been to Europe. Most people forget that when they go, they're also bringing along their neurotic, egocentric, picky selves. The difference is, everyone appears less forgiving when your flaws are forced on display and you can't pussyfoot your way out of anything.) In certain parts of the world, the age of consent - which I deem early domestication - is as young as 12. Yet we, in the West, have access to education, but our institutions are full of adults cavalier about their minds. I'm sounding so conservative right now, but what's the point of the government lending students a hand when they don't help themselves? How do they expect pity when they act like the blander siblings of Van Wilder? If you talk like you're stupid, you might as well be stupid somewhere else. Says Cary Tennis: "[E]ducation is worth what it is worth regardless of what you do afterwards."

***

After seven months, my cable has been disconnected. It's like one minute it was there and snow the next. I had just figured out the programming schedule to TLC and the Discovery Channel too. No more home decorating tips and motorcycle adventures. Say hello to feline adoption.

I lived without TV for an entire year at my old apartment, so I know I can survive. But this also means I have to start detoxing my Grey's Anatomy addiction. Or download it off the 'net (which is probably the more mature and realistic thing to do). I refuse to give up my one and only vice! Georgie Porgy is her McDreamy! I CANNOT NOT TUNE IN! It is as necessary as economic stability, welfare spending, and Jennifer Beals pretending to be a welder to inspire other Flashdance hobbyists to do the same. I cannot not watch Grey's Anatomy, damnit! Don't you understand?! It keeps me home on Sunday evenings, the pleasure principle in action. Fazing it out of my life is simply not an option: it gives me something to look forward to. (Which is more than I can say about M. Biologique who's back to playing hackey sack across the street from my building. Ha! I ignore his gaze like a blind man in traffic. Hippie ain't going to get any habiscus goo on me no mo'.)

***

Movies watched so far this week: The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di biciclette, 1948), Frenzy (1972), and Whispering Corridors (Yeogo goedam, 1998).

Movies planning on watching this week: Keane (2004) and Sidekick (2005)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Human Off Switch

*UPDATE*
The "parkour demonstration" ended up being the first and largest parkour gathering this year. These things occur maybe twice annually with a turn out of almost 70 people from both Montreal Island and the surrounding areas. Three hours later - which included a conversation with suspicious-looking stadium security guards - I jotted down the contact information of some professional traceurs and set up a meeting with one who flirted with me in broken Chinese (which was actually quite endearing). This story just keeps going. I feel like I'm undercover chronicling the hidden world of conflict diamonds ... except I stick out like a sore thumb in my heels and pencil skirts and ask controversial questions like, "How do your parents feel about you getting hurt?"

NorIda, my camerawoman, as we were walking up another ramp: "Damnit! My equipment is so heavy. Why do they have to be running all the time?!"

Bahahaha!

Anyway, I guess I spoke too soon about Cedric. I have too much on my plate right now, juggling human acquisitions with those who can potentially man-handle me. Between school and opportunities to bulk up my CV and writing articles, I'm having way too much fun meeting interesting people to want to deal with scorned passions back home. It must be a winter blues thing because there's really nothing like spring to get the juices flowing and keep minds from moping.

***

My neighbour just staggered in drunk, asking me to turn off all the lights and sit with him on the couch. I fluttered around where he was cleaning up the mess I had made painting. It was, of course, an excuse to not go near him because I know what "sit down and relax" means. Any woman who has encountered this ploy knows what it means. Any woman who has had her ass "playfully" grabbed as she got up from her seat knows what "sit down and relax" means. And I ain't gonna define it for him.

Especially not when I feel a pang of interest for his friend, Cedric. There's no doubt that he also likes me, plying me with sweet nothings through my front door to get me to open it. I've forgotten how easy it is to express attraction when there are no manipulative games; how easy it is to be obvious when the opposite person is responsive, and what "good timing" really means. Things simply fall into place, neither giving nor taking, everything just "clicks". I don't think I've ever felt this kind of gentle yearning before. Maybe it's because I really am in a different place, mentally and emotionally, than I was years, if not months, ago.

His dad's from Africa and works for the World Bank (ominous, I know). His mother's French. He's a handsome mulatto who went to the Lycee Rochambeau in Washington, D.C.; lived in France; studied architecture; now in Montreal for political science. He's 20-years-old and has already completed three years of college. Assertive, but far from cocky, courteous, but lacking pretension, he was curious - yes, actually curious! - about me when we spoke. No one, besides girlfriends, has ever asked me about myself to the extent he demonstrated last night.

I like that he isn't crude. I like the way he averts his eyes whenever I catch him gazing at my body. I like the way he'd say, "Sorry for that. As you were saying ..." whenever someone disrupts our conversation. But I especially like his level of self-control among men who don't restrain their hands because they believe "inadvertent" is a word created by lawyers to get their clients off.

It's still too early to tell though. I've had nothing but shitty experiences with men my age (which should be more appropriately stretched to include those under 55). Also, I'm deciding between three potential ambassadors for my va-jay-jay. It makes my job that much more complicated than it needs to be. Whoever makes more of an effort wins, I suppose ... (Mentos! It's like I'm auditioning for the Love Connection: "Contestant number one: If I was a bonsai tree, how often would you trim me?")

As for my neighbour, he promised to return, assuring me he didn't want to deal with his friends and just needed a place to crash. 20 minutes later, I discover he had passed out in the process of proceeding. I locked the door and now here I am, writing on my blog ... (what a sad existence I lead).

Damnit! I have to meet a bunch of parkour guys tomorrow for a group demonstration. Even God got to rest on the seventh day (unless Sunday is the first day of the week, which would make Saturday the Sabbath. What day is it? Saturday or Sunday? I think it's Saturday because I read that Constantine ... Wait, why am I talking about this? I'm an atheist!).

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Bobble Head

My dad is a saboteur out to ruin my life! He's a ponchy Green Goblin with a satchel full of flammable misinterpreted phone conversations. You'd think he'd be more supportive of my summer internship in Beijing, working the news department at CCTV. Yet, my mother frantically calls every week asking me if what daddy keeps telling her is true, if I'm confused and wishy-washy about the plan.

"You go or no? I buy ticket now and your ba say you no know."

My dad keeps asking me why I can't stay in Canada and work for the CBC or the Montreal Gazette. Hmmm ... CBC only has two intern positions a year, and the Montreal Gazette is a local paper with no clout. I have my theories as to why he's being such an ass though. I mean, he did scrap my trip to North Korea for fear that I would get arrested for my opinions. Maybe he thinks the commies won't enjoy my presence in China either. He doesn't see it from my perspective, which is to get my foot in the door and make contacts who are experienced in the field of journalism. My dad says if I like to write so much, why don't I just pen a novel? He doesn't seem to like my up-for-anything, risk-taking attitude. (Not many people do now that I mention it.) Everyone's always giving me the "What if this happens?" lecture, never thinking that perhaps I might have considered it already. It's like I struggle more to reassure friends and family than I do convincing potential employers of my abilities. Forgive me for sounding like a hotshot. I just don't feel like I'm being trusted to take care of my own business.

Like yesterday, I was hanging out with my neighbours and rebuffed another proposition to smoke a joint. Cedric grabbed my buddy's hand and said, "She aleady said no. She's been saying it all night." That, in itself, wasn't offensive. (How could it have been? He was being a gentleman.) But I bring out people's protective natures and rarely feel protected in turn. I feel like sometimes my qualities aren't so much accepted, but slated for sainthood. So the Madonna/whore dichotomy punctures other areas of my life beyond the sexual. The idealization of the sum of my parts creates this aura of fragility that ignores the fact that I have arrived where I am by my own accord. Sometimes I think people want to cloister me for their own peace of mind, selfish or otherwise. The bearer of bad news, the perpetual sandman, they hinder my personal progress by being so damn "well-intentioned". I could understand their logic if I have a history of making self-destructive decisions and creating rifts the size of the San Andreas fault. But I'm not.

Too many contradictions, too little understanding. It's a foreign language I'm not apt to approach. At least this means I'm not deriving validation from sources beyond myself anymore. That's a victory all by itself.