Serial

June 30, 2009

I’m an unconventional instrument,
But that’s okay.
Too vulgar for strumming metaphors
And held together with the odd wires and twine of my experiences.

We didn’t know how to be good for each other –
Creating impositions in our lives.
We are enclosed in these beastly vestiges
And don’t know where people go;
Where they are supposed to fit in our lives.

I have a pattern of features that don’t come clear –
Taking people for what they’re worth,
But never looking dead on.
This makes memorizing a face so rare and important.

The ability to draw charm from a missing tooth
Is a marked change for me,
Eliciting shaken realizations, caught breath
And visions in half-born skeleton forms
Of what might have been.

This cycle will continue on in other vessels –
Going too fast, burning out
Or fading away like a dry thunder clap in the sky.

I will find a way to make these things seem trite and inconsequential.
Still, reading and re-reading
And wishing sometimes to change my wording.

Chauve

June 11, 2009

I could feel you change
Under my fingertips
As the skin pulled taught across your skull
And I tried to trace the topography of your head

The smooth planes like lake-sides
Meeting forests of spiked salutations
Caught under the dragging of my nails

While your chest was pressed against me
I kept thinking about typewriters
In the drifting morning haze of my mind
Perhaps brought on by the beating under your ribcage
Like the tempered click of the keys

Limbs and palms and lips and even feet
Furiously trying to remember you
To store the memory of the curves, protrusions, patches of hair
For some other time

As we kissed goodbye
And you started out the door
I felt light in my selflessness
Having passed the weight of the world to you

You Are the Rake

May 1, 2009

A lot of stuff has happened in the past two weeks or so. Firstly, I found myself tested in terms of maturity and ability to forgive. Although it made for a few moments of spontaneous bursting into tears and one or two wine-fueled bitch sessions with my ladies, I think I managed to stay relatively level-headed and I’m impressed with myself for that. One thing I’ve gained over the last three years is a certain amount of insight that I can apply to less than desirable situations and see the human elements of anything. No matter what happens, I will always hold this person in a very dear place in my heart. But enough about that. Let’s talk about my otherwise awesome time!

So, I’m president of Soulstice aka my dorky but lovable and freakishly good looking a cappella group. This bodes well for the entertainment quota of the upcoming year. About half of us got into cars and headed off for a weekend in Toronto. We did a couple of gigs, but the focus was really the bonding and there was plenty of that. There was also plenty of free beer, so things got a little silly, but never the less. There were a lot of really great conversations and what seemed like genuinely comfortable moments. I want more of both of those in my life. It also just felt interesting to have this very Montreal/McGill group in my (other) city, walking through my neighbourhoods and down my streets and stopping into my favourite places. Interesting, and also very nice. A want to mush my worlds together more somehow, because I love many things and people in both Toronto and Montreal and nothing feels out of place in either of them.

The rest of the group went back to Montreal, but I decided to stick around Toronto for the rest of the week. It was spent primarily with my family, particularly my darling little sister. We’ve become so much closer since we were younger and it’s really awesome. She’s moving away from home (but she’s staying in Toronto) tomorrow, so parents will officially be empty nesters, asides from our two weird cats. That’s kind of odd. But yeah, gallivanting around with Veronica and meeting up with various Torontonians filled my days rather nicely. I also had a (non-romantic) reunion with my ex-boyfriend from my later high school years. It was nice to see how we’ve both grown up and changed and that we’re both mostly out of the bad places we were in when we were together. We didn’t know how to be right for each other, and that’s okay, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t be friends. That’s the philosophy I’m trying to impose on all my past relationships, I guess. Being friends with exes is tough, though, and I can’t say I’m going to be the best at it and I’ve failed at keeping it together already. Trial and error?

As soon as I got back to Montreal, I was greeted by my wonderful high school friend Devon and her friend Heather, who stayed with me in my apartment for a week. The week was basically spent walking around Montreal, drinking too much, being very hilarious and staying up late-ish. Devon makes amazingly gorgeous bows for her company Dagworthy, which you should check out. She was in the city to sell her collection to some boutiques, which she did! That said, she’s going to come by to visit again in June/July to hit up a few more boutiques and have some more delightful adventures here with me! We spent a lot of time with other high school friends in the city, particularly the lovely Ms. Bekky O’Neil.

Speaking of which, while Devon was in town, I interviewed to put on Hedwig and the Angry Inch with the oh-so-talented Ms. Jessica Kostuck in Players’ Theatre… And we frigging got it! We’ll be opening the season in October with an eight night run. Kind of amazing. Also, our final night is on halloween, which just screams for a $1 wine punk rock/glammed out drag-themed party. Kind of amazing. Bekky is doing lights/sets/puppets (!!!) and Devon is doing costumes. They’ve also offered to help make gorgeous posters. I am already so excited I could die. I’ve been in love with this show since the beginning of high school and I always said I wanted to put it on some day and now we are. This is kind of a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started.

In other theatrical news, I’m choreographing for the Arts Undergraduate Theatre Society again next year. I don’t know if I can say what we’ve narrowed our choices down to, but suffice it to say that in terms of the shows themselves as well as the (very sizable) dance components, I am overjoyed. Plus, the creative team is going to be legendary AND full of very cute boys. As is the trend in musical theatre, these boys don’t like girls. Ah well, such is life. Also, I’m involved in movement development and possibly choreography in a fledgling McGill theatre group’s production of The Polaroid Stories happening at the end of May in Players’ Theatre. I am just racking up the theatre credits. Now all that we need is to have AUTS approve a sideshow of Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog and we’re in business! And it’ll pave the way for my triumphant return to the stage… “Four sweatervests!”

I’ve been being wistful and going on walks and hanging out in parks and weird abandoned but gorgeous places and going to fruit markets and drinking tea in beautiful cafes and generally maintaining my excessively pretty unicorn/spontaneous music/dance party lifestyle. Certain friends like to mock me for it, but this is genuinely the person I want to be. I’ve spent so many years just leaving things at the surface and not letting anything seep in. If bombarding my senses with the smell and feel of rain on my fire escape at 3am is the only way I can feel, that’s how it’s going to be. I have to reintroduce myself to a life where sleeping all day and coming out at night to seem productive and vaguely normal is not an option. I was very accustomed to complacency and it didn’t suit me.

In this life that I’ve now totally committed myself to, I will eventually need two things: a job and a significant other. The job is obviously much more immediately necessary, so I’m taking care of it. As for the significant other issue, I’m frankly pretty sure I’m not ready yet. It’s only been a month and even though we were sort of checked out towards the end of our relationship, there are weird residual moments that come to creep up and get in the way when I’m not expecting them. But there are certain things I miss, not about Mark, but just about having that person. I mean, of course I miss that, but I also miss more simple things, and probably much more so. I really, really, really miss kissing. I make it no big secret that I have been told I’m a pretty awesome kisser. I just want to share that with someone. And I miss hand holding, especially when pressed up palm to palm with fingertips touching and slowly rubbing together. Oh, and having someone to push my hair behind my ears or draw along the part where the base of my neck meets my shoulders. There are times when I know all of this is coming again down the line, but there are more pessimistic moments where these thoughts bring on a face in hands kind of slow exhalation with that mix of familiar sensation, loneliness and anxiety that maybe it will take much longer than I think.

Still, I was reading through an old journal from June 2005 and I found my list of what I want in a partner. I say partner, but when I am honest with myself, I’m fairly certain this partner will be a dude. Just being straight up. No pun intended. Without further ado, here is what 18 year old Claire wanted, and what I’m pretty sure 22 year old Claire still wants. The parenthesized comments are from me now.

-I know I like a guy when the things they do make me put my hand on my colar bones. (It’s kinda tell-tale, but I think I’ve started doing it generally in life, so it’s not so clear cut.)

-I’m attracted to guys who remind me of Muppets.
 (I have a huge Kermit the Frog complex. I’m totally Miss Piggy.)
-If I’m in a dance class and there’s a guy a beat behind in the routine, chances are that boy will be kissed by me at some point.
 (I don’t dance much with boys anymore, so I guess this falls more generally into the flagrantly bad dancer category, which I find somehow endearing.)
-Everyone I’ve ever dated has had a funny walk.
 (I don’t know if this is true anymore. I do, however, appreciate a good strut.)
-My biggest romantic problem is that I frequently confuse attraction with pity.
 (Um, yeah. I love a lost puppy.)
-I’m attracted to guys with high-ish voices. (And yet I dated an ultra-bass for three years.)

-I’m always a little too much like the guys who I date.
 (Is there such a thing as “too much?”)
-I enjoy self-depricating humour from guys.
 (It is my kryptonite.)
-I always date musicians, or the highly musically inclined.
 (As a member of the instrumentally-challenged, I just die over someone who can play an instrument or two or seven. Just don’t try to serenade me. That shit is awkward.)
-I date guys who would not look out of place wearing a bowtie.
 (It goes with the sheepish Kermit the Frog thing.)
-I love it when men have shakey hands/sweaty palms.
 (I just have a thing for hands in general.)
-I muthafuckin’ love redheads.
 (I still think they’re cute, but this isn’t really a “thing” for me anymore.)
-I have a thing for mama’s boys.
 (I think I may rescind this one. There’s a fine line between a family-oriented person and someone who lets their parents make their decisions for them.)
-Everyone I date has a geeky obsession. (I LOVE GEEKS SO MUCH. Ahem. But yes, geeking out is awesome and adorable.)

-I love guys who are genuinely surprised when they do something cool/right. (Once again, the self-deprecating, aw shucks kind of guy just stabs me in the heart with cuteness.)

-I love geeky laughs with snorts.
 (I don’t know if I know/have dated any snorters. I am a bit of a closet gigglesnorter, so I would be so pleased to hear one.)
-I love forehead kisses. (Uhhhhhhh yes.)

-I love freckly bodies. (Ditto. Freckles, birthmarks, moles, interesting scars. I enjoy playing connect the dots.)

-I love long boy feets.
 (It’s not like a fetish or anything. Hells no. I just think they’re cute. Mine are cute and shoeless 90% of the time, and I’m a lapsed modern dancer, so I can just appreciate a good arch, I guess.)
-I love quick shy kisses. (A little peck on the cheek is the best signifier of a crush. It is also instantly followed by escalating kisses and full-blown makeouts. And, as we all know, I am king of the makeouts.)

So yeah, I know that I probably shouldn’t think about this too much since this is the summer to treat my body better, grow my hair out, get my freckle on, read in parks and generally become more awesome. I just know that I have a lot to offer. I’m a very sensual person, despite my cute/weird exterior. I know about 100 first date spots that are amazing and inspiring and full of a decidedly date-ish but pressureless aura. (I’m always saddened to hear about people going to boring places for first dates.) I guess I’m just kind of a romantic adventurer and I want to share cool places, great music, awesome conversation and some mild flirtation with someone, even if it’s not leading anywhere in particular any time soon. Fuck. It’s springtime and a young girl’s fancy turns to this kind of stuff… I can’t help it. It goes with the floaty skirts and sandals I don for the season.

The Pilgrim Soul in You

April 22, 2009

I’m way overdue for a post, and there will be one, but today is busy for me. Still I wanted to leave you with a poem that’s been weighing on my mind a lot recently. Mostly just the pilgrim soul, which I feel that I alone have seen in people.

When You Are Old

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead,
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

W. B. Yeats

I’m sitting here
On the precipice of crying, though not from anything,
Feeling the slow, gentle thaw
Out of the winter that is my life.

Cells alive and vibrating again,
Hair standing on end,
My eyes widening as I exit hibernation
And exhaling slow, steady breaths
As if into an ear.

Another reminder that good
Lurks under the surface of everything;
I feel that spoon
Scraping away at the space under where my ribs meet
Trying to find my prize.

I speak only in a secret language
No one else knows yet.

I will emerge with liberated curls,
Collar bones, a head full of songs,
Anecdotes and quotations for every situation –
There will be an irresistible gravitational pull.

Re: Stacks by Bon Iver musically captures exactly how I’m feeling right now.

Tongue tied
I looked up to see the clouds
Stirred into the strange, deep blue
With legs shaking from cold, ketosis and lurching stomach moments

The switching of lights, so far away
Flickering Cinq Roses, which I couldn’t effectively communicate
With slack mouth and thickened lips
Because I know not many look at the city that way

Wishing, as I cautiously descended,
That I would not be judged for taking my shoes off
And climbing a tree
I feel there are saintly people somewhere who understand

Trying to forge things
Slamming the square peg down
But I can’t get there

Wringing myself for drips
And spouting nothing but lines
Wrought with falsified security

Nonchalance is unappealing
At this hour

Edited to add: Just incase anyone’s confused by this, it’s definitely not about lurrrrve. It’s just about how I’m an awkward mothafucka in person sometimes and I can’t have a normal conversation without trying to be significantly cooler than I actually am.

The Weight of the World

April 8, 2009

I never know how to start these things.

So, first off: Mark and I broke up. It’s too bad, but we both entirely agree that it was about time and that we just weren’t right for each other. That’s okay. I’m not actually sad, but rather relieved that neither of us have to pretend to be thoroughly fulfilled any more. It was relatively mutual, we had an airing of minor grievances a few days later and I really think we’ve learned a lot of from our relationship and we have a friendship that will eventually get back on solid ground. It’s too soon, and we both know this, so we’re going to wait for it to feel right before we really start talking again. This is an anomaly for me… A breakup that’s almost entirely free of hurt feelings and with the full intention of eventually being good friends. Kind of awesome. I don’t think I could have asked for a better outcome, since we both secretly knew we weren’t in it for the long haul. Over three years is still pretty long, though.

I’m coping really well. I’m spending a ton of time with new and old friends, getting involved in creative endeavours, making pretty music, gearing up for lovely spring weather and I’ve got a summer of fun to look forward to. Still, singledom makes me anxious sometimes. I had a discussion with a friend about this tonight, because hell, I cannot go to a Soulstice rehearsal without spending copious times with her afterwards. I guess it requires a couple of warnings…

1. This is something I really don’t talk about often and that very few people know about, especially in any detail.
2. It may make me seem kind of fucked up. I’m not, don’t worry, I just have a lot of thoughts.
3. I’m not looking for pity or reassurance. I just want to get this out.
4. It’s definitely going to make me seem like either a shitty feminist or ridiculously out of the loop with fat politics. The truth is, I can be perfectly rational and understanding and supportive of and involved in fat acceptance, but I can’t always quiet my interior monologue or the vibe I generally get from the outside world.

Basically, I worry about my weight from time to time. I have a fairly substantial history of eating disorder issues and in order to combat that, I have tended to swing the opposite direction post-therapy. I look at old pictures and see protruding bones, sunken eyes and patchy hair and wonder what the fuck I was thinking most of the time. But, there are times where I think that young girl had the right idea. In the few years following the snack-related shitstorm that was my life, I filled out to an attractively curvy ideal of beauty. Honestly, I look back at that part of my life and think that I was pretty much perfect, in an adorably imperfect kind of way. People agreed. But as I come from a family that struggles with weight “problems”, this didn’t last forever and my very normal, even slightly under-average eating habits yielded a substantially larger body. Turns out that it’s at least partly related to my freakish thyroid-stabbing immune system, but whatever. The point is it happened.

Now, I very much understand that fatness has the capacity to be every bit as lovely as any other quality and that it really is just extra skin. I know that my body is amazingly capable of so many things and that I shouldn’t be worrying about the state of my stomach, but the fact is that I do and no amount of intellectualizing this is going to change my mind, as much as I sincerely wish it would. I see other big people as completely beautiful, sexy and generally wonderful, but I just can’t get there when it comes to myself. What only complicates matters is that I straddle the line between legitimately fat and somewhere in between. This confuses me, because there are certain days where I wouldn’t change much on me at all, and others where that’s definitely not the case.

The singledom issue comes in because I feel that people don’t see me as a sexual person. I have a great deal of hang ups, because I have never been single while anywhere near the size I am now. People, even good/lovely/accepting people, have certain things that signify attractiveness in their minds. It’s engrained, it’s pushed upon them, they can’t help it, blah blah blah… The point is that, in the more pessimistic corner of my mind, it takes either a very open person or a person who may be fetishizing my body to get on board with what I’ve got. (Fetishization is a whole other discussion, but I think I fall on the side of not wanting to be initially attractive to someone because of an external characteristic that is considered outside of the “norm”, whatever that may be.)

What have I done? Well, over the past 6 months, I have lost and maintained a loss of 20 pounds. I know that it’s not necessarily a point of pride, but it is something that I did primarily for health reasons. There is a part of me that thinks that another 20 pounds would put me back in my drop dead gorgeous territory, but I also know that there is ever present danger in that kind of mentality. I have had enough days, both historically and recently, where I have eschewed food entirely, and I’m consistently concerned that a return to a really shitty pattern of behaviour is just around the corner. On the other hand, I think it would be awesome to return to McGill in the fall and make a few jaws drop. (Full disclosure, both my mother and my sister have made the transformation from overweight to slender in criminally short periods of time, so this is not an unrealistic goal if I want to drive myself crazy for a few months.)

It’s just tough, because on a day to day basis, I vacillate wildly between wanting to stomp out unrealistic beauty standards and spending hours crafting a workout/eating regime that would be torture to pretty much anyone. Hell, I got off a low-carb diet recently… And I’m a vegan. What kind of fuckery is that? Beans and vegetables. Not exactly the breakfast of champions. I KNOW all of this, as I keep saying, but nothing is keeping me from feeling this way. Let’s face it, if I shed the weight I gained, I would receive a ridiculously large amount of praise, I’d fit into all sorts of awesome clothes and I’d probably cross over from friend territory to “damn, she’s kind of cute” for a few people, despite not changing anything other than the shape of my torso, and to a lesser extent, my thighs.

I guess I just don’t look how I feel and I think that people somehow can’t get past the exterior. And I mean, let’s be fair, I realize that I’m a pretty person. I’ve got gigantor, deep blue eyes with freakishly long lashes, very pale, very soft and often freckly/rosy skin, some of the silkiest/nicest smelling hair around and, let’s face it, a rack that won’t quit. It’s just never enough. As much as I went into writing this hoping to come to the conclusion that anyone who can’t see the beauty inside me is unworthy of it, or some bullshit like that, it didn’t work. All I’ve done is furthered my desire to come back in September in skinny jeans, heels, a simple black tank, a pleather jacket and an ass that will be upsettingly cute. Take note, people of Montreal… You’ve got 6 months.

Bagel Mission

March 30, 2009

Sneakily, I wriggle out of your arms in the morning
Like a cat who doesn’t want to be held
Not because I don’t love luxuriating in bed
But rather, a wave of excitement sets in
And I need to hit the streets
While they’re still awash with dawn

I set out to get bagels
Although I don’t particularly like them
It’s a sweet thought to bring them to you while they’re still warm
It’ll be much too hot and dry later in the day
And we’ll be on the fire escape trying to catch a breeze
Or breaking ice cube trays into a bath

It feels too early to be out
Crossing the street at any point
Without danger of being hit by an impatient car
I take the long way, darting through alleys
With friendly laundry lines
Peeking above wood fences

Returning several hours later
Clutching a sweet-smelling paper bag
You’re still in bed, sound asleep
I sit on the bed and pull my shoes off over my heels
Then pull my shirt off by one sleeve, roll my jeans off my hips
And hear – “Hey, you’re back.”

Partnering

March 30, 2009

I want to lift you
To hold you high above my head, elbows locked
Feeling how your back curves, how your body tenses
Sensing the taughtness of muscles
And feeling small shifts as you blink and steady yourself

You are not lithe, you do not curve delicately
All of your weight is given willingly
And you coil up, bending at the knees and again at the ankles
With feet, flat and splayed and smelling of gym floor,
Pointing towards the fluorescent lit ceiling

I will hold you as come down
Loosening out of your pose
Sliding down the front of me
Not easily, but with clothed friction
Causing your shirt to ride up

But so quickly, I will crumple over you
Feeling your back pressing into my ribs
And moving with your exhalations

You pull out of this
Causing immediate attention on my part
Only to turn to face me
Cupping the side of my face in your sweet hand

We all come to university with the best of intentions: to practice every day, to get our homework done on time and to generally excel in every capacity. Props to anyone who manages to do this, even half of the time, but it’s definitely not for all of us and I believe that laziness is certainly not the only cause. What I’m getting at is that there are some people who just aren’t really as into the academic pursuit of music as they thought and they realize this somewhere along their university experience, often much too late to feel like there’s any way to change things. Once this reality sets in, it’s really easy to become disillusioned with school, leading to missed classes, phoned-in lessons, significantly decreased practice time and a general sense of rebellion towards anything that encompasses musical education. Feeling we (and I very much include myself in this category) have made a mistake in choosing this path, we are left to wander the halls of the music building, watching others in their excitement as they audition for exclusive ensembles, attend special master classes and generally live the lives we thought we’d be living. Okay, maybe it’s not as bleak as all that, but it does suck.

This isn’t just a performance major issue, either. Sure, it may be more likely among people who realize that they don’t have the drive/desire/perceived talent to be a professional performer, but this type of insecurity can plague any number of majors. It’s experienced by anyone who came here, tried really hard to get into it, faked it by playing the game as long as they possibly could and finally just thought: “You know what? This isn’t getting any better and it’s probably just not for me.” This realization can be spurred on by a number of things: recurring negative feedback without seeing a constructive side, bad experiences (and grades!) in one (or many!) of the required classes, the extremely competitive atmosphere that hangs around the music faculty at times, feeling like they have to stay myopically focused on music (to the exclusion of extracurriculars) in order to succeed, feeling like they haven’t picked up non-music-related book in months, etc… Regardless of the reason, these feelings are extremely valid and it seems as though there’s no real sounding board to express them. So few people will admit to feeling this way, and people who don’t seem as enthused as the rest are often seen as odd ones out and less deserving of the title of musician. Harsh, but true, at least in some circles.

So, what do you do? I wish someone would have told me.