Throw back

San Francisco, the Rockies, the prairies, and the cottage.

I miss road trips and summer.

I miss my strange little point and shoot canon my mom gave me for my birthday when I was ten — I lost it after my last american road trip with half a roll of film in it. I lose a lot of things,  but that little point and shoot took some grainy and lovely pics.

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And a  prairie song to by Andy Schauf, just ’cause it’s so pretty.

5 Recommendations For Life

One of my favourite blogs is Slutever by a contemporary/more risqué Carrie Bradshaw — Karley Scriotino. She also writes a column for Vogue called “Breathless” which explores sexy stuff that ranges from relationship advice to S&M.

My favourite posts are “Slutever’s 5 Recommendations for Life”. Basically she lists five things she likes and it’s great. So I thought I’d try it out here.

February was a bit difficult meaning really cold (even though my apartment is about 30 degrees) and windy and stressful. Here’s a list of 5 things that got me through the month (other than my birthday):

1. Arthur Russell — This is how we walk on the moon

I was listening to my friend’s weekly radio show — Jake and Gololcha in the evening — on CKUW a few weeks ago. I wasn’t really listening intently, just doing homework, or on Instagram thinking about how I should really be doing my homework, when this song came on. I stopped and just listened, something I haven’t done in awhile. The next day I probably played this song 50 times and read up on Arthur Russell. His music is super interesting and so is his story, check him out.

2. Burroughs 101 on This American Life

Burroughs portrait

Great radio about a strange and incredibly influential man. The documentary was made by the BBC for his 101 birthday. Iggy Pop narrates it too. Check it out here: Burroughs 101

3. Advice from Patti Smith

Best to follow something about Burroughs with Patti Smith. Actually this whole post should probably just be about Patti. Whenever I’m feeling uninspired I play Horses, read a section of Just Kids, or watch the documentary I Dream of Life by Steven Sebrig. I just love Patti Smith, like a lot.

4. Paris is Burning

Because I use New York as a way to escape the mundane Winnipeg winters more often than not, I’ll continue on a NYC theme. Paris is Burning is a great documentary made in 1990 and filmed in the mid to late 80s. It’s about the golden age of drag balls and vogueing. It’s fun, sad, and beautiful. The whole thing’s also on YouTube.

5. Mira Gonzales

This summer I read poems by Gonzales on Adult-Mag.com. I used to read poetry a lot and now I don’t. When I stumbled upon her writing I read them once and then again. They are very much dreamy, L.A. twenty-something-year-old girl poems. I liked them and didn’t all at once, but I still read them sometimes so I think I like them more than I want to let myself. You can read more of her poems here.

the universe is a living creature whose behavior is ordered for the worst

in the beginning you experience one to several

nonspecific ideas about distance or sadness

you become aware of sounds and textures

existing independently of human experience

you have sex with him in the living room

and listen to a commercial on the television

he is looking upward at the ceiling now

you think he has found something worth looking at

he stands up, he doesn’t touch you

he gets dressed in silence and leaves the room

you find him on the balcony smoking a cigarette

he drinks cough syrup from a bottle with no label

you run your index finger along the edge of something

you touch a glass, then touch your mouth

you touch each of your ribs, individually

he says something indiscernible and

you say ‘i dont know what you are talking about’

you think about leaving, or sleeping on the floor

he hands you the cough syrup and walks back inside

you pour some cough syrup over the edge of the balcony

an orange puddle forms on the sidewalk

— Mira Gonzales

Questions and answers

I don’t read Vanity Fair often. It’s a summer sort of read, a magazine that lives on coffee tables at cottages with covers graced by 90s celebrity and a thin layer of dust.

But I do read it occasionally and my favourite part is almost always the Proust Questionnaire on the very last page. This questionnaire is full up of hard hitters, questions that speak to character and make the celebrity take inventory of their life so far. I love these questionnaires. What people say and how they say it give such a glimpse into these people that I care about a little bit or not at all.

I read my horoscope this morning, like I do every morning, at the Globe and Mail because they are the most reliable — obviously.  I know it’s a horrible and useless habit but I’m addicted and find it slightly comforting that not everything that happens to me in is because of my own decisions, fate might exist which takes a bit of the weight of the world off. Today it said the following:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 21 – Feb. 19):
Be careful what you wish for over the next 24 hours because you may get more than you expected. You may decide later that you don’t want what you wished for after all – but you won’t be allowed to change your mind.

Vague and sound advice as usual — be careful what you wish for ‘cause it might come true. So today I’m taking inventory, figuring out the most apt wish for a lazy day by filling out some of the Proust Questionnaire.

I am very well aware that I am not one of cultures most prominent figures, but I thought it might be fun to answer these questions anyways. If anyone reads this (ther than my mother) it’s a bit indulgent but isn’t that the most marked characteristic of my generation? So indulge me.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Sitting in the front porch of my cottage during a thunderstorm — preferably with a good book, a cat, and a cocktail.

Which living person do you most admire?
Patti Smith

What is your favourite journey?
Road trips through the United States full up of small, strange towns.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Impatience

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Patience

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My Friends, and maybe my cat Zimmerman

When and where were you happiest?
For a month when I was 21 years old I lived in a tipi in New Zealand. I spent long days  playing chess, surfing, and working odd jobs and my nights dancing. Thinking back it almost seems like a dream.

What is your current state of mind?
Cloudy, I have a bit of a cold

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Finding a the most beautiful apartment and having some of the same close friends since I was five

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A blue whale

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Feeling trapped and alone in the company of others

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Humour, good conversation, and curiosity

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Same as the above

What do you most value in your friends?
Their engagement and interest in real world things and subjects very different than my own

Who are your favorite writers?
Joan Didion (obvious and typical), Margaret Atwood, Ernest Hemmingway, Anais Nin, Micheal Ondaatje, Joseph Boyden and probably a few more that I forget at the moment

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Harry Potter

What is your motto?
Nothing good every happens after 2:30, but sometimes it does and that’s why I have trouble leaving parties.

The Last Cinema in Paradise

For the past little while I’ve been working on a documentary about garage sale culture in Manitoba’s interlake. I’ve also been a bit stuck, wondering how to tell a compelling story about a place through one central theme.

This is the first documentary I’ve made. I was lucky to grow up with a filmmaker for a mother and a brother who was obsessed with making strange little movies. My brother and I had access to cameras and editing equipment most of our lives. He made more use of it than me but I always wanted to try to make something beautiful and interesting with a camera. It’s harder than I thought but also easier than I make it out to be.

I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries lately for inspiration. Here’s a great little doc about the tiny town of Honokaa, Hawaii and the People’s Theater. It’s simple, beautiful, and telling.

Late December mornings

And just like that all the things I had to do are done, everything is quiet. I have no commitments and time doesn’t matter as much as it did a week or so ago. I don’t feel that cathartic sense of overwhelming relief that I was expecting, just a bit of relief and quiet.

One of my favourite things about having nothing to do is the mornings, not the mornings after but the mornings where you didn’t go out the night before and don’t feel like there were things you shouldn’t have said or people you shouldn’t have kissed.

Mornings where everything is still and the world is a bit gray. These mornings are all about coffee in bed with books.

This christmas was the second one I’ve experienced in 25 years that I didn’t have to drive back and forth between southern Manitoba and Winnipeg. Every christmas for the first 23 years of my life were the same — christmas eve drive out to Morris, eat a dinner that had been meticulously prepared by my Grandma, so much so that it was all cooked a couple days before and reheated, fake sleep to avoid church and being made fun of by second cousins who saw me fall asleep during a Christmas eve sermon when I was still young but not young enough to make a mistake like that. Small towns never forget. Go to sleep wake up at the farm and open presents. Eat a wifesaver for breakfast and skate on the coulee. Ride snowmobiles from the 70s that only my uncle can get started across fields covered in snow. Get in the car, drive back to the city and eat more food with my mother’s side of the family. Kids in the living room adults in the dining room. Star wars plays on the television.

The farm was sold three years ago and now we bring my grandparents to the city. After they moved my grandma offered to put us up in the Stampede Inn so we could still have christmas at their new apartment but nobody wanted to sleep with that musty smell and synthetic too soft blanket on christmas.

So now it all happens at my parents place. I cook the turkey with help from my dad, my mom cooks the rest and family from both sides bring appetizers and dainties. There is always too much food.

It’s different but it’s nice.

Found writing

This is a letter I wrote but never sent. Typical. I always write letters to my friend when he’s off canoeing in northern Manitoba. I always have the best intentions of sending them, and then I never do. Here’s one I wrote to this friend a couple years ago.  It’s kind of nice to have letters you never sent, even if writing letters you are never plan on sending is a somewhat strange form of self preservation.

Dear X,

For the past month I have been living a pretty lazy life, commuting from Winnipeg to Matlock whenever I feel inspired and reading too many books at the same time.  When I left Winnipeg in early May everything was exciting and unknown.  In two weeks time Pat drove to Dawson, we found jobs, and then he worked worked worked all the time.  The sun never went down and I felt crazy.  I stayed out all night and slept all day.  I worked for a crazy Greek man who yelled all the time.  He smoked two packs of cigarettes a day, worked like a dog (thats what he would say anyways – and it was true), and went to the casino every night.  Dino.  My interview went like this:

Dino – Where are you from?
Me – Winnipeg
Dino – No.  Where are you from?
Me – Winnipeg
Dino – I fucking asked you where are you from!?
Me – West Broadway …..  but I grew up in Wolseley.
Dino – Don’t you ever fucking lie to me.  I’m from Winnipeg.

He offers me a cigarette.  I take it.  We stand outside smoking in silence for a few minutes.

Me – So do I have a job?
Dino – Come in tomorrow at four.  Leah will train you.

Then he walked inside, I came back the next day at four, then I worked for him almost everyday for the next three weeks before I decided to leave Dawson.  On a side note I kinda think I was working for Greek Mafia Men running away from stuff in their hometowns to run restaurants way way way up north.  When I would go to the back to smoke or bring them beer they all called me darling and then went back to speaking Greek, or almost unintelligible English.

I think they were up to something.

— C