I need to read more poetry. I need to stop feeling guilty for not finishing books. Words are a thing of beauty, words are flowers and I’m a butterfly, words are to be savoured.
But also, words are tears and I’m a five-year-old who just scratched her knee. As they leave me they make me more full instead of more empty.
I ingest words as sugar and as I purge myself of them they’re full of salt.
Each word has its place in my brain but I will never know what that place is and if it’s anything like in other people’s brains. I learned that today. I learned about the things no one knows yet and the things no one will ever know. It’s called neuroscience, and I can’t decide if it’s bullshit or if it’s fascinating. I suppose it’s fascinating bullshit.
I don’t know what I am saying. There’s my Wernicke’s area acting out again.
It’s springtime again.
Springtime means rebirth. It means cleaning your flat and getting your eyes on a piece of paper on which you’d scribbled a story in the fall. It means reading it: having your stomach flutter and your eyes water. It means being knocked breathless by the realisation that you can write words that aren’t perfect but that aren’t completely shitty, either. It means smiling disbelievingly and whispering to yourself, alone in your flat, “Good job, honeybee.”
Because it’s springtime and you’re an infant again. You’re lost, and you deserve your own guidance. You deserve your own support. You deserve your own love. You’ve done this before. You can do it again this year. You can do it better. You can grow back into a believer.
Now, step outside and feel the warmth of the spring’s wind. Look at the grey of the sky. Look at the burgeoning flowers. Be amazed at how much a warm spring day in the city resembles a cold summer day at the seaside.
It was one of those nights filled with lots of giggles and lots of thoughts, spent in good company and inappropriate clothes.
The sunlight shifted through the library window; my friend moved up a few seats to finish her reading basked in the golden light. The sunset made the big window glimmer. I wondered if everyone noticed these things too. I wondered what other people were noticing that I was missing out on.
We moved big wooden chairs and tables through a pub’s narrow hallways. We had sangria and wacky poutine. We talked about first impressions.
She bought five balls of lettuce for 2,50$. She gave me one. I later found myself running uphill in my stupid skirt and heeled boots, 20kg on my back and a ball of lettuce in my hands, laughing maniacally, hoping with all my heart and all my lungs to catch the bus.
We talked about symbols and why the girls had cried and whimpered and yelled and laughed when we thought they’d be dancing. I thought I saw a ghost, but she was real and she was not dead.
We played badminton because it’s such a logical thing to do at 10pm, wearing a skirt and stockings and no running shoes. We laughed so much our bellies ached. ‘Teasing’ is a nice word. By the force of miracles, my stockings didn’t tear. I said, “You’re getting beat by a skirt and ruffles!”
A character in a novel
(So this was prompted by this post: Do you ever wonder about how an author would describe you in a novel? Not only your appearance but the way you talk and laugh and hold yourself and all the expressions on your face?)
She irked him the way the answers at the end of his physics textbook irked him when they were different from the answers he had written in his notebook. ‘Senseless contradictions,’ he called them.
She was soft-spoken; he had to lean forward and concentrate to understand what she said. Her eyes were large and a deep chocolate-brown, surveying the place slowly, seemingly memorising every detail. Her hands were small and dry and they couldn’t stay still. Her fingers danced around each other, curled strands of her hair, smoothed the tablecloth, traced the edge of her plate, pressed against the side of her neck.
He couldn’t decide if she truly was still and quiet, or if the energy she oozed just blurred her edges. He was thinking about this when he made the mistake of saying something he hadn’t thought thrice about. Something a bit stupid.
She all but jumped on him, planting her claws in his cheeks. But she was no cat, no tigress; she was a girl, a young woman. She had no claws, but she had words, and hers were just as sharp. She remained sat on her chair, but her hands flapped around outrageously as her voice reached a volume and an octave he had thought were reserved to fire alarms. She yelled argument over argument, blocking his thoughts one by one, extinguishing his words before they even left his mouth.
He couldn’t understand why, despite her anger, her voice still held the giggly quality it had before and her perpetually-rosy cheeks didn’t redden more. He thought of her words. He thought of the energy that surrounded her. He decided that this would be the last time he ever underestimated a giggling, quiet, pink-dress-wearing girl.
What is wisdom? Is it certainty? Is it a soft, well-threaded, beautiful fabric, holding itself together with grace, unfolding without hesitancy?
Or is wisdom the wholehearted acceptance of uncertainty? It it the clumsy but endearing work of embroidery on the flimsy fabric, carefully threaded with all of one’s heart, but filled with mistakes and loose ends? Is it the jarring blend of colours that one still manages to find beautiful, with a bit of squinting and a lot of late-afternoon sunlight?
I don’t know, and I don’t know if I’m supposed to know, or if I’ll ever know, or if I’m foolish for wanting to know, or if I’m foolish for not knowing. I don’t know if I don’t know because I’m faithless, or loveless, or careless, or human.
I don’t know.
Sinking ships can’t rescue drowning sailors.
I don’t know what to believe anymore. About love. About friendship. About the bounds that tie human beings together. I’ve believed in things, my whole life - things like loyalty, love, the importance of others, the importance of the self. But I don’t know the limitations of those things. I don’t know if they should or shouldn’t have limitations. Do they evaporate in the face of a shipwreck?
Last time, my sinking ship tried to go on a rescue mission. It just sunk faster.
This time, I may not be sinking, but the holes in my hull are so precariously patched up that I might as well be. The drowning sailor has come again, and I don’t know what to do with her. I’m scared. I don’t want her to drown. But at the same time, I don’t want to sink. And the seas are raging; the skies are darkening; the clouds are lowering; the winds are hollering.
My sister thinks there are sailors only a few ships can actually rescue.
I don’t know what I think.
My friend told me a story last autumn.
She told me about a dinner party she had hosted at her flat with her childhood friends; one of them had just returned from a year abroad. The first guest to arrive was her best friend. She carried a cake. She took off her coat and set the cake on the table, and then, without warning, she burst in tears.
My friend asked her what was wrong. “Nothing, really,” the other answered. “I’ve just been under a lot of stress lately. It’s my last year in University and I’ve had a crazy amount of readings…”
As I heard my friend recall the story, I noticed how shocked she looked; how upset she felt for her friend; how much of this pressure she felt, too. She told me, her voice shaking:
“How messed up is our education system…” She trailed off, gathering her thoughts, and spoke louder, “how thoroughly messed up, if it can make someone so bright just spontaneously burst in tears for no reason?”
I still think about it to this day.
I stepped out of my appartment building this morning and couldn’t stop a fascinated “olé shit” from escaping my mouth.
Everything was white. Everything. The branches of trees, even their trunks; the parked cars lining the street; the brick walls of the surrounding buildings; the windowsills; even the sky was white. The white made things glimmer, shimmer, shine.
Yesterday, everything had been gray, ugly, uninteresting, filthy. I felt like someone or something had turned my street into a magical wonderland overnight. I stepped off the doorway carefully, awed disbelief still etched upon my face. I couldn’t stop smiling.
On the corner of the street, I crossed paths with an elderly woman, yellow-clad, staring ahead in wonder. We caught each other’s eyes and couldn’t help but smile. “C’est tellement beau!” She marvelled, amazement making her voice vibrate softly. “Oui!” I squealed, “je sais!”
It felt rejuvenating, oddly, to have a snowfall this white and this clear at the end of February. Just when we had all given up on Winter’s gifts, it found a way to remind us of its beauty.
A snowflake waltzed down and nestled itself between the cracks in my lower lip. I felt like it said, “Surprise! I know you’re here, darling. You exist. I see you. This is for you.”
Sometimes things feel awful, and sometimes they feel nice.
I drew a glass to my mouth and the local beer’s fumes filled my nose, my throat, my lungs, and it felt nice. Like when I miraculously got ball no. 6 in the hole. Like when I talked about anxiety with my friend at one in the morning while simultaneously wondering why this guy carried a single wooden chair on the bus and if he would dare sit on it. Like when I walked on the busy street with my aunt and it smelled like caramelised tobacco.
Just like the weather, I’m warming up to this place.
Le bonheur est simple
I sat on the metro’s plastic seat, my arm and forehead against the window. The echoes of a quick hug still hung on my skin. There were no remnants on my lips of the night’s many fits of laughter. I looked through the window and saw only the dark concrete walls of the tunnels. Inside the wagon, the neon lights seemed to bleach everything. I sighed. I looked hard outside as the train slowed down. Instead of the 60s design of the metro station, I saw the blurred blue of the opposing train: the cloud-white stripes against the sky-blue bodice…
My train slowed down, and the other train sped up, and the blue kept rolling outside my window, faster and faster and faster, creating an air current that made my ears feel empty. With a final blow of blue and silence, the other train was gone, and my eyes were left to stare at the wall of the metro station.
“Le bonheur est simple!” they saw immediately (“happiness is simple”), a plain graffiti on a gray construction board. The board covered a wall, a 20m-tall mosaic representing - I don’t know what - but people, together. Time stopped. Doors opened. A bell ringed. Doors closed.
And then, I was off again.
The melancholy street
It starts with the way out of the metro. It must have been lively in summers in the 70s. I bet there was sunshine and busking trumpeters wearing colourful jackets. But tonight, it’s dark, scary, and snowed-in. Just up the stairs stands a shabby swimming pool, the kind of place where nothing of importance ever happens. There is an old fire station on the other side of the street; its windows are still lit up, red engines glowing inside.
There is a park named after the farm that used to stand in its place. The park is covered in concrete. I wonder if the person who designed it meant the irony.
Things are covered in a lightly falling snow. The sky is gray and orange and gray, and it diffuses the moonshine with the talent only snow-skies have. Everything is quiet, asleep. Peaceful. And maybe a bit sad. Like the way snowflakes cling to the bark of a tree.
Then, I find the most absurdly-named store in the city, and turn left to my friend’s house, and leave melancholia behind.
I was tagged by the lovely Katharine.
If you could escape to any world or time period (real or fictional) where would you go?
The Wizarding World, in a heartbeat.
What is a quote that you live by?
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” (Roald Dahl)
What are two movies that have made you cry?
I cry all the time, but the last two that I can remember with certainty are Juno and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
What is a secret dream that you have?
I dream of running away to New Zealand with my sister to start a wool farm/vegetable garden/french-canadian café/knitting store and give therapeutic knitting classes, but it’s not really secret since my sister knows about it and I’ve just written it here.
What are three songs that remind you of your childhood?
À la claire fontaine, V’là l’bon vent, La mère Michel.
What are you afraid of?
Describe the last time you remember being truly happy.
Cross-country skiing in the woods with my mother: the right amount of wax on my skis, the sunlight making snowflakes glitter, the snow-coated evergreens, the sweat, the heartbeat.
What is something that is on your bucket list?
I don’t believe in bucket lists, but I want to take a cake-decorating class.
Do you have a collection of anything? What is it?
I used to have several collections (bookmarks, coins, buttons…) but I don’t anymore.
Do you believe in magic?
Yes! Magic is everywhere.
What is something that you find beautiful yet sad?
I think everything has beauty and sadness, but tired and lonely strangers on public transportation strike me the most.
In 2012, I:
- took an actual yoga class for the first time
- took an anthropology class for the first time
- fell in love with organic chemistry (“slowly, then all at once”)
- had about 18 total, hysterical emotional breakdowns
- discovered fan fiction
- got outraged
- got back into writing
- found my calling/my path
- bought less
- faced some of my disillusions
- waited and waited and waited
- biked more
- turned 20
- discovered John Green
- loved things more
- loved life more
- loved people more
- discovered Downton Abbey
- visited my favourite city twice
- wrote a lot
- cried a lot
- moved to the big city
- mastered the art of taking the bus
- found new favourite places
- made super-awesome new friends
- learned about cognitive distortions
- discovered my cognitive distortions
- got better and more confident with people
- realised I am an adult
- decided to become the person I want to be
- survived the apocalypse
In 2013, I will:
- get out more
- show others my love more (communicate better)
- learn how to decorate cakes beautifully
- do more yoga
- go to the grocery store regularly
- cry a lot
- notice things; find them beautiful; love them
- be brave
Collecting teardrops like pictures
Late night, curled up on my bed listening to a pop song.
Seated in a Greyhound bus, next to a grungy clementine-eating boy, seeing a patch of wheat plants peeking out from between stray wagons in the bleak urban landscape.
Spinning barefoot on the dry lawn beside a highway, savouring the last drops of summer.
In the dark, speeding, whirring metro, next to a friend and countless other rush hour victims.
My mother’s braiding hands in my hair; Bleeker embracing Juno.
My ears hanging on every note: 5000 people singing their favourite song in unison and a tearful prima donna on the stage.
The details of a car’s appearance etched under my skin, itching, itching, making me implode.
More innocent souls than I can count, and the lights of their homes in the distance at dusk.
Lights and snow, lights and snow, lights and snow.