Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Feel

This is a hard one, talking about how you feel, but all I really have to say is that I do. Where to begin? I guess I can go back, all the way back as far as I can remember, back to where I don't even have memories of happenings, but I can remember how I felt. You know when you wake up from a dream, and you can't really remember what happened in the dream, but you can remember how you felt. This is essentially how I live my life all the time, every day, back from the beginning.

I suppose this is why I started writing in memories, I guess you can say that memories are what I deal in. Every time I sit down to write, I really don't know what I'm going to write about, but then I hear something, or see something, or one of those weird deja vu moments happen and blamo, drivel pours out, and yes, it's always drivel.

Basically, I feel all the time, and it's exhausting. You know when its so hard to explain what's in your mind to someone else, you get frustrated at yourself for not being able explain it, and you just wish you could attach a video camera to your mind so everyone can just plain see what's in your head? But we can't of course. It's even hard to relate feelings here with words. When you feel all the time, you carry the weight of everything on your shoulders all the time. Feeling things that really don't bring anything constructive to your day, things you can't shake, powerful memories you'd rather not remember. And all you can do, on the outside, is smile, and everyone thinks you are ok. I don't mean to insinuate that these feelings are always negative or sad, but it's just that there's so much to feel all the time, all at once.

When people meet me for the first time, I don't make any impression, and I pose no threat. I'm one of those girls who isn't really worth remembering, on the outside. Again, I'm not bringing myself down here, and I'm not questioning my worth, its simply that I know I don't own up to any major impression because everything in my heart remains there quietly, until I get to truly know you. When I meet new people, I'm quiet and uncomfortable, but trust me, I'm feeling many things, and I'm wishing I could speak to you with more ease. I'm not sizing you up at all, I'm not judging, I'm just afraid, and my mind is overactive, leaving no room for actual words. I am the type of girl that takes numerous meetings to remember me by, and its because of this lack of impression. Then, what often happens is, as others become more comfortable quicker than me, I become lost in the background, unable to begin to build that impression, because others have already done so.

When I speak to people of this, they always wave it off and say it isn't true, that I make a fine impression. But in fact, I'd prefer to think its because somewhere deep down, others feel the same way as I do, and they are happy because I took that burden from them. You know how when you meet a group of new people, and your own social ineptness seems to be combusting in your head, you feel thankful (in a weird way) when there is someone else there who seems to be even more awkward then you? It's not at all that I feel better then that other person, it just makes me feel a little more at ease to know I'm not alone, that perhaps there is a little normalcy in my strangeness. Anyway, I wonder if I am normally that 'other person' to other people. My ultimate awkwardness likely makes other awkward people feel less awkward. I am a savior to all shy, uncomfortable people everywhere. If you are about to meet your boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, bring me along and I'll make you look fabulous. Better yet, count your lucky stars if I am your boyfriend's ex-girlfriend.

As awkward and uncomfortable as I am in a situation, by god, I'm feeling, and the more I feel, the more uncomfortable I become, and the more into the background I am pushed. My memory may not be great for inconsequential things, but when it comes to the way I feel around someone, or the way I felt when someone said something to me, I'll always remember. It may be a curse, but I will always remember when someone wronged me, I will always remember when someone judged me, and it will mark you in my memory (but do not be afraid!) This is not to say that I do not forgive because I forgive, and forgive, and forgive, but I don't ever forget, I feel.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Save The Trees

I know a good thing when I see it. Sometimes. But when I know, I know. Last year, a friend of mine had a "slogan t-shirt" themed party. The idea was simple: come to the party wearing a t-shirt boasting a slogan, any slogan. I have a few laying around the house, but when it comes to dressing up for a party, I really do want to do it right. I didn't want to wear a shirt that everyone had seen me wear already, so the Kensington Market search began.

Shayne and I spent an afternoon looking through all the shops for hilarious t-shirts, and we found many. From "Danger is my Middle Name" to "I'm With God" the designs ran the gamut. Nearing the end of our search, I found the one and only shirt which made me laugh out loud, but I didn't buy it. It was a large men's shirt, and I wasn't in the mood for wearing a dress...but really, it was the funniest shirt. I'll enlighten you, it said "Save the Trees. Wipe Your Ass with an Owl"

After we made it home, I couldn't stop thinking about this shirt. I was so sure that it would be the best shirt at the party, and I decided big man's shirt or not, I must have it. While I was at work the next day, I sent Shayne back to the market to get my shirt, but he was taking his sweet, loooong time. By 5:30 he still hadn't gone, and I was starting to panic. He kept telling me not to worry, that shirt was not exactly a hot commodity among all Torontonians, but I knew there would be others out shopping for this same party, and I'd be damned if I had to spend the entire evening drinking with someone who was wearing my shirt!

By 6:30, I finally recieved an email from Shayne: "The shirt is gone"!! $%&* I told you so! #$%&^% I was mad. I knew it! He apologized and told me to relax, he had picked up another shirt for me which read "Trust me, I AM hilarious" ...just not the same. I went into a scramble, trying to find a t-shirt printing shop which was open on a Friday night to make me up this same owl t-shirt which had slipped through my hands, excuse me, through Shayne's hands. I found a place, and for $20 I could have my shirt. I told Shayne I'd be home late from work, as I was having a t-shirt made, but he persuaded me to come home. His persuasion prompted me to believe that he was lying, and that he had actually bought my shirt, but he wouldn't admit anything to me, all he would say was "Come home" I was frantic on my phone, dodging subway tunnels, trying to get answers from him, with a friend busting a gut beside me over the whole thing. Fine. I'd go home, but if I had to wear a shirt proclaiming me as hilarious, I wouldn't feel very hilariously happy. Hrumpff.

I got home, and Shayne presented me with my "hilarious" shirt, but I demanded to know where my owl shirt was. It was there, on my bed, and Shayne was rolling around on the floor in a fit of giggles. "I got you!" he proclaimed, "Did you get me Shayne? Did you really?" Well now this whole thing became quite the everlasting joke between us. The shirt was entirely a hit by the way, and was voted one of the best of the evening, thank you very much. But Shayne refused to see how this idiotic shirt could possibly have appealed to anyone, other then me, and wouldn't let me forget it.

Well just let me tell you, no more than a month later, riding south on the Ossington bus, I caught a glimpse of something familiar. What did I see? A girl, on the bus, wearing what? Why a navy blue t-shirt reading "Save the Trees. Wipe Your Ass with an Owl" That's what.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Orange Blossom

A few days ago, I was a little too distracted (and a little too out of town) to write a real story, so instead, I posted a bunch of pictures of me through the years. I was in Brampton that day, visiting my parents, and ended up spending hours drinking wine, and going through all of my parents old photos. I am very greedy when it comes to photos, but I don't wish to actually steal then from anyone, so I have my own way of doing things. Faster than scanning in each one, I simply take a picture of the picture. This is why you'll often notice either my reflection in a glossy photo, or see carpet surrounding it as I tend to lay the photo on the floor to get my shot of it.

Anyway, in going through all of these wonderful old photos, I was surprised by all of the various hairstyles I've had through the years. Of course, I remember having all of these hairstyles, and I'm not overly surprised, but I'm reminded of the days in which I sported those styles. This brings me to this one:

This was one of those styles that I thought was amazing at the time, one of the only times I actually felt cool. However, looking back at it now, well, I see clearly that it was probably the worst style for me. I'm not here to write about my hairstyles, but about the memories of the days in which I wore this particular look.

I would say I was about twenty-four here, living on my own on Queen west, just down the street from CityTV. No, that is not my personal fireplace behind me though, I was at my parents' when this shot was taken. My apartment (above a 24 hour convenience store) was the epitome of a young Torontonian's first ever, true downtown apartment. My friend Jerry had lived in it before me, and in those days I was honestly afraid of the orange walls in the livingroom. Beyond orange walls, the place was also aqua-marine, black and purple with an age old teal/blue carpet, industrial linoleum floors and every room tilted in a different direction. The stairways up to the unit, which was on the third floor, got narrower and narrower as you climbed, resembling an old Alice in Wonderland nightmare. The ceiling had fallen out in various places, revealing the wooden ribs and beams in the underbelly of the building. The bathroom consisted only of a miniature toilet, and a sink mounted to to the wall, and the shower was in the bedroom.

When Jerry said he was moving out of that apartment (and into the unit right next door) he asked me if I would like to take over this orange monstrosity. I recall when he asked me, I was perched on my four poster bed, in my sponge painted room, in my twentieth story, tidy high-rise in the uptown. "Absolutely not" I said.

Less then two months later, my dad was helping me move all my belongings down to smoggy Queen west, and when we climbed the stairs and I opened the door to my new place, dad was silent at first, then smiled, and let out a little "mmm hmm" and asked "why?" Well dad, this is the beginning of my city life. I had left the confines of classy uptown, and moved down to the skids, and I was happy. At least I had my own bathroom, though divided between two rooms, both parts were mine. Jerry, who had moved next door, had a whole 50 square feet, and shared a bathroom with the aging rock star next door.

After I moved in, I decided that I loved the orange paint, it became a part of me, and in fact, I added more colour. I painted the bedroom red and royal blue, so I was now sitting in a colourful spew, great for creativity, but awful for a hangover. Those mornings sitting on my couch, my view was orange, blue, white, black, purple, aqua-marine and red...topped off with a floor to ceiling face of an anime woman.

My two livingroom windows looked out over Queen street. I would sit in those windows, listening to Jorane and drinking REV, watching protests and the MMVAs, happening simultaneously on TV and live, down the street. I'm seeing now that I could go on and on about this place, as nearly two years of my life happened here. I couldn't even begin to scratch the surface of these memories; perhaps I should write a book about it. And right near the beginning, yes, that was when I styled my hair like Cleopatra.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Yarn Hair

Like many, when I was born I was bald as a shiny whale. Once I began walking, I finally began to grow a tiny bit of blonde fuzz on the top of my head, while all the other little children were bursting forth with long, shiny locks and curls. I was that kid who was nearly bald for a long time, thank goodness I was far too young to feel different.

As my hair grew in, it was not only red, but curly. Little spirals sprung like springs out of my scalp at all angles except down. I suffered from little orphan Annie hair, and I dreamed of having the luscious long pigtails the other girls had, alas my pigtails actually looked like pigtails. It was around this time I began putting dish towels on my head, securing them with a headband, I would dance around my yard pretending I had hair just like Jennifer from Family Ties. Swinging on my swing set, feeling the length of this beautiful, floral blue hair fall down my back I smiled and sang and felt like a princess.

My parents continued to tell me that my curly mop was beautiful, but this conversation was followed up by a horse trying to eat my hair at the local fall fair. Standing in the barn, I ran up to the loveliest horse, giggled and turned to my parents for a picture. As my back was to the animal, I felt it's giant lips grabbing at my hair, and my parents in stitches, saying the beast thought my hair was hay. This got a big ol' arms crossed, foot stamping, frowning "hrumff!" outta me.

I went to school with some of the longest-haired girls in town. I was surrounded by shimmery straight, light catching blondes in every classroom. Pony tails and waist length braids, little hands playing with long princess locks, and the girls who could put their hair in their mouths, in their mouths! The day my hair would be long enough to reach into my mouth, I would feel as if I had finally joined the ranks of the girlie girls, and how I wanted that. It just didn't seem to be growing! I would come home from school and describe a hairstyle worn by Rachel or Jenny or Sarah, and instruct my mother that I wanted her to style my hair that way, but my four-inch-long curls could, sadly, not be coaxed into Laura Ingles braids.

My grandmother, who was a proficient knitter, decided to make me a gift. One summer, she presented me with the hair I had always wanted. She had knitted a neutral coloured headband, with long, knitted braids on either side, each braid tied with a yellow ribbon. I retired my floral, blue towel, and placed on my head a crowing glory: long, knitted hair. I wore that thing everywhere, much to my family's dismay. I could finally run and play with long braids, I could twirl them, let them blow in the breeze, and by god, I could put them in my mouth!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Big Night

Since I spoke yesterday of this enormous timpano we were going to bake, I decided that today, instead of a story (a little hungover for that) I'd post the pictures from the evening!

Tess and Daniel went completely over the top amazing in their planning and decor, note the gorgeous table setting above! Yellow and white colour scheme, candles, pussywillows and the smell of tomato sauce bubbling on the stove. They even had the final touch of the movie of the night, the inspiration for everything, "Big Night" playing on repeat on top of the fridge. Every now and then we'd pause our music to take in a scene!

Delicious antipasti and primo of grilled vegetables and lentil herring salad...and lots and lots of delicious Italian wines.

The chef at work, beating that dough into submission, we were getting even more excited about building the timpano together.

Impromptu kitchen dance parties broke out as the dough was dropped into the giant bowl (see the centre of the table) Cameras came out and I explained yet again the beauty of "horrible" pictures. Those hilarious moments when photographing each other making the most horrible faces see, if the intention is to look horrible, the worst that can happen is that you look good! ...note, I have not included any of these shots here, they are 'round the table fun only.

Though I must say, I love how Miguel's head looks distorted by this sneaky wine glass! Notice the place cards...

The bowl of dough, beginning to be filled with pasta, meat sauce, vegetables, 12 hard boiled eggs, sausages, 15 meatballs and cheese, all layered upon layer upon layer.....

The final top off of parmesan and 4 more eggs...raw.

Closing up the top was a team effort, and then into the oven it went! We all took a turn at holding the dish to feel the sheer weight of was gym worthy.

Beautiful portraits of our hosts, taken by Miguel.


Alas, it wasn't quite ready yet, so it went in for another half hour...and we kept drinking...and laughing...and dancing!

More impromptu dance parties!

Finally, ready for the first cut and serve!
And it. Was. Delicious.

Enjoy we did!
Finishing off the evening with espresso, and wonderful homemade cake. What a big night indeed!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Recipe? Or No Recipe?

Tonight is a night in. A night in with my hands immersed in a bowl of raw ground beef, mixed with onion, egg, cilantro and breadcrumbs: I am making meatballs. No, I am not currently, at this very moment making meatballs, for I am typing, but I have just finished making my first batch of meatballs. These meatballs are for tomorrow's timpano. If you have seen the wonderful movie "Big Night" you will know what timpano is. My dear friends and I are getting together tomorrow night for a big, old fashioned, Italian, 'Big Night' timpano party...and yes, we are making an enormous timpano.

As I pulled out my ground beef in preparation, I reached for my old, giant Italian cookbook. The cookbook I bought when I was in college, not because I ever cooked, but because it was so beautiful I couldn't resist it's pages. I think this may actually be the first time I've truly followed a recipe in this book, and I admit I only half followed it (I didn't have all the ingredients, or desire for that matter).

As I was bent over the recipe, studying hard, Shayne asked me what I was doing, "A recipe?? Really??" Yes. A recipe. I am a recipe girl, through and through. I was not raised on cooking, though my mother cooked amazing meals every night (I was too busy writing romances on my canopy bed). Yes, a recipe. There are those of us who bring out our inner Julia Child and follow a recipe just the way it's meant to be followed, and then there are those who do not.

My relationship is divided both ways: I follow recipes verbatum, my boyfriend does not. So I ask, what do you prefer? I do see the merit in either way, as there have been many times I disappear into the kitchen with Betty Crocker, and emerge with...well, chicken glazed with canned chunked pineapple. But there are other times when I disappear into the kitchen on my own, with nary a recipe in sight, and emerge with a dish of rice, mixed with scrambled egg, cinnamon and salad dressing (this was my dish of choice, which I fed upon nearly every night in my first apartment). Oh, or my old favourite: shredded carrot sandwiches.

Wouldn't you prefer I take to a recipe book? Yes, that's what I thought. Though the world is divided by the spine of a recipe book, I choose to remain on the book side. And if you come by my place for dinner, rest assured, the meal will be concocted from a recipe...or made by Shayne.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Cristy Wheel

I love being laughed at. Really, making people laugh is ultimately the one and only true thing which makes me happy. I'm talking about the kind of happy where only happy exists. Making someone truly laugh transports you to a place where so many good things are happening. Think about it: when you make someone laugh, I'm sure the following things occur...

You begin laughing, because it's impossible not to laugh when someone else is laughing, especially when you've caused the laughter, and laughter feels good. You feel appreciated, because when you make someone laugh, you know you have made someone else feel happy, and that laughter is a big old appreciation gesture, and then you feel really loved at the end of it.

These are all the emotions I go through when I make people laugh, and I love it. This may have something to do with a little nick name I picked up in college, round about 12 years ago: The Cristy Wheel. At first I didn't understand it, and really needed it to be drilled into my head. It simply meant that the 'wheels were churning slowing in my head, causing everyone lots of laughter'. This made me happy, in an ass-backwards kind of way. You might wonder how having people laugh at my slowly processing mind is a good thing, well that's easy. If I can make someone laugh, I really don't care if it's through wit, or through idiocy, the fact is that I've made someone feel joy. Over and over, without even trying, my dimness was causing laughter all over town, and it felt great. The Cristy Wheel was turning. Very, very slowly.

Though I haven't heard this endearing term in a while, I still have my moments, and this story was inspired by one such very moment that happened last night. Opening gala at the Bata Shoe Museum, we were enjoying the Renaissance 'chopines' with new (and wonderful) friends Christine and Marco. Staring at a painting, I remarked that the reason the poor kids in the painting look so dismal is because back then, they had to stand there for 20 minutes, waiting for the camera shutter. Instant burst of laughter. Of course, I immediately think they're laughing because cameras hadn't been invented yet (bueno, so they hadn't) but no, of course the reason they were laughing was because we were looking at a painting! Indeed, I suppose no camera shutter need go off for a painting.

Sadly, I've forgotten most of my college day "Cristy Wheel" moments, but every now and then a friend reminds me of one. Hmmmm perhaps I can recall a time when my roommate, and best friend, was wondering if a certain guy had her phone number. My grand solution (and I was very excited about this solution) was simply to ask him if he had her number, when he called her. She immediately began laughing, and couldn't hold it together to explain to me what I had just said, and while she was trying to catch her breath, I continued to say "Trust me! This plan is fool-proof". And honestly, my innocence kills me sometimes.

Alas, there have been other times when the "Wheel" has been less then stellar, read here and here (please do! They're funny stories!) But, these moments just make for future, re-living laughter (and that's still good too, no?) In conclusion, laugh lots, truly. And if you don't mind making a fool of yourself in front of your friends, then go ahead and make a fool of yourself. Trust me, it'll feel good when you see those sparkles in their eyes!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Big Bop

Yes, when I was twelve I had an obsession with Bop magazine, and Tiger Beat, and just about any publication featuring Leonardo DiCaprio (hmmm story number two with a mention of him - no, sadly for him, I am not offering him royalties for the use of his name). In fact, I still have a couple mangled copies laying around my house, dated 1992. Those were the days of non-glossy, newsprint pictures and articles about random lucky girls who had won a contest, landing them on a date with Corey Haim, and onto the pages of Bop. I massacred these mags, cutting out every tiny square picture of my crush-du-jour and pasting them up on my closet door. Don't even get me started on the high gloss treats: the pull out, pin-up posters.

But NKOTB is another story. The Big Bop which I'm referring to now is of course, the purple monstrosity situated at the corner of Queen and Bathurst. This is a place I tended to keep my distance from, not being underage, or into hardcore music, but I must admit, I'm a little sad to see it's doors closed. This club was a monument to that corner, one of those places that has been in our minds eye as far back as we can remember. No more than a few months ago, I was standing on that corner, waiting (forever) for the damned Queen street car, and feeling very thankful that the clientèle of the Big Bop was there to provide me with some entertainment.

Though I wasn't a frequent reveler at this club, it somehow snuck it's way into my life more times than I can recall. From my first months in the big city, to my last months of raucous youth, this dirty purple beacon was there by my side.

Holy Joes. The tiny second floor hovel with a checkered floor and painted over windows. When I was twenty-one, I braved my jealousy, and ventured there to see a performance by my ex-boyfriend's ex-girlfriend, follow? That girl who was everything I wished I could be, a beautiful nomadic artist, with a band, and a hold on men's hearts. The girl I uncontrollably compared myself to through our entire relationship. I was so proud of myself as I put on my best non-jealous face and fought through it with the rest of her adoring fans, pretending to revel in how talented she was...but I think you know how I really felt.

The Reverb. The second floor (also a hovel) where I attended one of my first raves. Back in the day when the mere idea of staying up until sunrise in a dark club, listening to electronic music made me feel ill. I was far too ladylike for that kind of evening. However, there I was, high on ecstasy, for the second or third time, at the Reverb, surrounded by sweaty bodies and dilated pupils. I can't remember just how long I lasted that night, but hanging out on dirty old couches in the 'chill out' room, and avoiding the even worse toilets, I probably called it a night at the early hour of 4am, and took my pigtails and coloured bracelets home.

The Kathedral. The main floor (again, hovel...are you surprised?) This was home to many live band performances, most of the bands belonging to friends of mine. I recall weeknights, drinking beers in those most uncomfortable wooden chairs, surrounded by my best pals, especially A. Weeknights when weeknights weren't technically weeknights because I wasn't working anyway. Every night was a free for all, enjoying the hard, loud sounds of A's boyfriend's band. How romantic, we'd all say, as he screamed inaudible love notes into the mic for her, but that was their music. I remember spending Sunday afternoons here with my old roommate, but I was more a liability to him as he divided his time between rocking out, and saving me from being pummeled to the ground by floor punching, straight edge, hardcore kids. As much as he tried (and this memory lives on as one of the sweetest gestures really) I got my fill of bumps and bruises, and being thrown back crashing into the odd table or two.

So Big Bop: thank you for the memories. Memories I'm sure many of us in this city share with you. Though I won't miss pushing my way through your pink haired punks on an afternoon stroll, I admit I'll miss the entertainment they gave a prudish girl waiting for the streetcar, and the memories always awakened by glaring sunshine on dirty, purple walls.

Photos: blogTO

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Story Break Picture Post!!

I have been so busy lately, but that is no excuse to not post stories!!! I promised you pictures from the past, including awkward teens, and striped here they are! Fierce fashion and hairstyles... Well if I'm going to cop out on a story, I can at the very least give you some laughs.