Friday, December 24, 2010

Home for the Holidaze

For the last few weeks of the semester, I was ready and aching to get home. Upon arriving home, I was thankful for so many things: space, a kitchen table to sit at, hot water, heat, my electric toothbrush, a full-size fridge, and, not so banally, family and time together and time to recharge.

It's been a busy time and an ambitious time in the kitchen. In England I learned that Elizabeth I was credited with making the first gingerbread men, impressing visiting dignitaries by presenting confections in their likeness. It became common practice that gingerbread tied with ribbon became a token of love.

So, I had the idea to bake gingerbread for every member of my family. Following a Martha Stewart recipe, I soon found out that it was A LOT more labour intensive than I thought. The dough was super tough and needed to be chilled and frozen twice before baking. The icing was also a bit of a fiasco. But with tenacity and perseverance I made it through.

The same goes for the mincemeat pie I am baking (whose scents are now wafting from the oven). I screwed up the first two batches of dough because a. I used bread flour and b. I used vegetable oil instead of shortening aka margarine. But finally, on the third batch (after much yelling and frustration), I had a workable dough and a beautiful latticed pie baking in the oven.

The daze of the season continues... hopefully with less mishaps.

Joy. ***

Sunday, December 05, 2010

I have been wanting to transcribe this moment for quite a while now.

The day after the first snow, as I was walking to class, a little girl hoisted up in her father's arms herself had her arms flung upwards towards the sky.

Clasping her hands open and closed, wiggling her fingers, she decried and divined in her minuscule voice: SNOW!, as if her words and gestures could make the magical moment happen again.

The magic of the season.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Flowers for Sunday

A few details of the Columbia Road Flower Market...

A visual infusion to make up for my slowed posting.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Balance, A Pressure Point

I've been circling an idea in my weekly schedule and my daily life for quite some time now, and the over-arching monologue of Grey's Anatomy's most recent episode crystallized the idea very well...

"The human body is a highly pressurized system. The blood pressure measures the force of blood pulsating through the arteries. It's important to keep this pressure regulated. Low or inadequate pressure can cause weakness or failure. It's when the pressure gets too high, that problems really occur. If the pressure continues to increase, a closer examination is called for, because it's the best indicator that something is going terribly wrong...

Every pressurized system needs a release valve. There has to be a way to reduce the stress, the tension, before it becomes too much to bear. There has to be a way to find release, because if the pressure doesn't find a way out, it'll make one. It will explode. It's the pressure we put on ourselves that's the hardest to bear, the pressure to be better than we are, the pressure to be better than we think we can be. It never ever lets up, it just builds and builds and builds..."

Grey's was back in full swing, interweaving great music with poignant moments, and of course the deep and powerful monologue, serving as a perfect metaphor to the actions of the episode's story.

With relation to balance, since I've gotten to London, I've been telling myself that I want to find a balance to my life. I had this vision that it would be a constant routine, a steady schedule.

However, as the weeks unfold, I realize that from one to the next, the schedule is always changing. Lectures happen on different days, assignments and work split up my time. Activities and commitments are always in flux. This pressure to find balance, to find a steady regime, can never really be satisfied.

I'm starting to see that balance is more a state of mind, a constant striving for balance. Balance is found in the constant dedication to finding balance. Wrap your head around that one.

It's about staying mindful, keeping your passions and priorities close at hand and continuing to cycle on, continuing to move forward.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Finding Centre

Finally, I've felt it. I had a moment this afternoon where I knew I had found my centre. That feeling where my mind is alight, thoughts and inspiration are brewing and life is spilling forward.

For these past few weeks, fresh in London, fresh in my Master's program, I've been feeling rushed. Perhaps it is merely a consequence of living smack dab in the middle of Central London (the world rushes by at my door), but the pace has felt frenetic. The work has been an adjustment, but it's all art and ideas that I welcome fully. London, as a city, is bursting with energy, there is always something happening, plenty of free art to be enjoyed, never a dull moment (and seemingly never a moment of repose).

Part of me started to think that the rhythm of London would just always be that way, in flow, in flux, much like the weather which can be mercurial and wildly changeable even within one afternoon. Walking down the street, you settle into the pace of those around you, going, going, going...

But part of me needed to settle, to find peace, to find those moments when writing and thoughts spill over. This year is very much about finding my voice and taking charge of my education. I've wanted to be immersed in the study of art and here I am. No moment of frustration can ever take away the blessing of this moment in my life. I am in total immersion in art, surrounded by curious art-minded intellects, world-class displays of human expression, and plenty of books and lectures and reading!

But now, for the first time, I've finally started to find my rhythm, started to let go and trust the spontaneity of life (because it really can deliver some wonderful surprises when you least expect them). Sure, I'm still trying to strike a balance, but it is the see-saw of life. Balance is but a momentary and elusive instant.

And in those moments of letting go, I've surprised myself. Although not in a groove quite yet, my yoga practice has become deeper almost unintentionally. I float up into headstand without a second thought and full wheel pose just materializes. It's quite beautiful to sink into new depths, find new focus in the poses I've done hundreds of times.

Today, with an early visit to the market, a yoga class and plenty of cooking, I'm really enjoying life. (avoiding work? i tell myself I am waiting for moments of inspiration to really engage with all the texts I need to read...)

And slowly it unfolds, always different, always moving, unexpected and wondrous.

I'm finding my pace, finding my place, finding my centre.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ithaca by Kavafis

As you set out for Ithaca
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon – don’t be afraid of them:
you’ ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon – you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind -
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.

Ithaca gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn’t have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.

And if you find her poor, Ithaca won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then this is the meaning of Ithaca.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mid-night Missive

I miss the mists of the city, the mystery that rolls in and lingers...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Watercolour (work in progress)

Inspired by London, I want to write more about how the fabric of watercolour paper, the bleeding of colour work as perfect metaphors and illustrations to the rainy life of of this city...


Syncopated pitter-pat,
rain falls at my window,
the pane, static beads
and trailing tears.

A melancholy blue
tinges the air, bled
from the dome of St. Paul’s,
three-hundred-year-old grey,
aged and spreading across
the woven parchment of sky.

Light hangs suspended,
a tuile veil unfurled across
supporting the weighted clouds.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Just Dance

I was very much enthusiastic when my across-the-hall neighbour rallyed me to join her for a yoga class in the area. Our destination: Pineapple Dance Studio.

From the moment I arrived at the facade and glanced in the fogged-up window of the ground-floor studio to see dancers in rehearsal, I felt like I was in a dance movie. Pineapple Dance Studio had me at hello (maybe even before that, the studio's very name had me convinced from the get-go). Thank goodness for Tess (said neighbour) because we were whisked inside and up a narrow flight of stairs to the studio where our class was happening. Next door, before we entered our room, a wild broadway-style rehearsal was happening. Absolutely stunning and inspiring to watch. I could get into this place, I thought to myself.

And then the class.

While I had known it would be a ballet/yoga/pilates fusion class, somehow in the heat of the moment, the blur of first introduction to the studio, I had forgotten. But I quickly remembered as we were led through a sequence of ballet positions (more like ballet meets yoga). Plie! Tendue! First! Fourth! While Tess told me this was more ballet than this class had ever seen (her face said it all when she looked over at me mid-sequence), I was sorta digging it. Well, of course I was terrified just a little bit, but I was open to learning new things. The spirit of the ballet sequence was very much in tune with yogic philosophy, always learning, always open to new movement, new space.

Once we settled into the yoga/pilates portion of the class, I was all warmed up and in a groove. Great pace, good energy. I almost burst out laughing a few times I was so happy to be in a totally new space.

It's a humbling experience to be thrown into an environment so unlike your regular routine. But that's exactly it, that's exactly life. Constancy in flux.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Transitioning in the Dark

I arrived in London early Sunday morning and undertook the adventure of settling in. First up, I needed bedding if I wanted to sleep comfortably that night at my dorm (whose entrance is pictured below... more pictures soon). For some reason, I decided to trek out to IKEA (not that far a trek, really, but not as close as some department stores... live and learn, live and learn). In a jet-lagged daze I tried to pick things that would work, looking at my camera to the sheets, finally settling on a dark shade.

I try to convince myself that it isn't black. But my neighbour across the hall said it point blank: "It's black." Sometimes I think it looks dark navy, sometimes I see shades of green. But really it's black. [which precipitated the buying of new linens, an extra set, more money, another bill (In Paris, apparently they call the bill la douloureuse. I couldn't agree more)]

And this morning, I was equally in the black, in the dark. Aside from waking up bright-eyed at 1am (why? I can't even tell you), I was enjoying my first shower this morning, taking a little extra time to soothe my slightly scratched skin (sheets now washed, duly noted, feeling much smoother), and, all of a sudden, the lights went out. See, the lights in the bathroom are activated by motion. The motion detector, however, does not seem to extend into the shower. So mid-lather, the lights went out, and I let out an expletive, was confused, then laughed, realizing. Waving over the shower door was no good, but an opening and a wave of the door did the trick.

The adventures begin...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

What's Your Deal, Martin Patriquin?

Yesterday Maclean's Magazine published its most recent edition claiming Quebec to be the most corrupt province in Canada. The article uncovers scandals and wrongdoing and delves into a lengthy history in la belle province. The cover featured the innocent mascot Bonhomme Carnaval carrying a suitcase full of cash.

But I thought to myself, Maclean's, corrupt, these are words I've heard before. Oh yes, back in November 2009, Maclean's published the article titled and sub-titled: "Montreal is a disaster: The once-glamorous city is now a corrupt, crumbling, mob-ridden disgrace. What went wrong?" The cover proclaimed "Montreal is a corrupt, crumbling, Mob-ridden disgrace."

Oh. And look, both articles are written by the same author: Martin Patriquin. A Quebecer. A Montreal. The Quebec bureau chief for Maclean's. I can't really figure out much else on the man, except he's a local and probably writing about what he knows best.

Maybe he is right, perhaps there is a lot of corruption in Montreal and Quebec. I am all for political accountability and believe this city and province could be run much better. We could be a thriving metropolis and province, but somehow we lag. But in the past two years, Maclean's has only ever bashed Montreal and Quebec so openly on its front cover. What of the other provinces, are they all run with such integrity? (Although back in 2008 the cover procalimed BC: The World Crime Superpower). I just wonder if stories are getting blown out of proportion in order sell more magazines in an age when the industry is in decline.

Why not become informed citizens and demand more from our politicians? Go pick up a Maclean's, go take a read.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Stefan, Guest Blogger for Art21 on PBS, Part II

Today marked the end of my Guest Bloggership (as I like to call it) at Art21 (but not the end with me and Art21... stay tuned...).

Just wanted to share the last few links:
Oil on Canvas: Jenny Schade
Game (as) Art: The Kokoromi Collective
The Medium is Not the Message: Adad Hannah
Embodiment and Process: Vida Simon
What You Give is What You Get: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

And the series conclusion...


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stefan, Guest Blogger for Art21 on PBS

This week I started a 2-week blogging stint for the online component of the PBS show on contemporary art, Art21.

Follow the blog here.

The first four posts are as followed...
New guest blogger: Stefan Zebrowski-Rubin
How Sweet It Is: Shelley Miller
Augmenting Reality: Paul Warne
One Hour Photo: Yves Medam


Monday, September 13, 2010

Aqueous Transmission

Before I was born, I drowned.

Those first years of life, I was scared of water. I defrosted the freezer by accident (never press large red buttons) and I let the water overflow from the tub (so much that it leaked into the kitchen below). Water and I did not appear to mix well without catastrophic consequences and floods.

I did not learn to swim until I could see what was underneath. With a snorkel mask, seeing, and breathing, I took to water.

And now, I find solace in the horizon of the ocean. Opening, possibility.

When I learned to surf, I was amazed how little actually separated me from the wave. I was actually riding the wave. A precise instant caught to move in time with the ocean, quickly caught, easily lost.

Aqueous vocabulary has infiltrated, flooded, seeped into my language. I wallow, I plunge, I float, I immerse, even when far away from the sea.

Where earth meets water, where opposites connect, in fluidity, in constancy and simultaneous flux, this is where I feel closest to truth. Everything changes, nothing is the same and far asea, a constant possibility.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Le Show Off: A Reflection after the fact

First, let me just admit that I am not a dance expert by any means. However, I do appreciate it immensely. Dance is a consummate art expressing in movement what I never could in words.

I've just returned from seeing Le Show Off, a showcase of 3 solo male performances/works-in-progress. An initiative by Pierre-Marc Ouellette, joined by Manuel Roque and Dany Desjardins, the short "show off" featured three lauded and noted dancers charming the audience in excerpt. My mind is simmering with thoughts and imaginations and excitements...

Manuel Roque kicked things off with a breathtaking level of introspective dancing in Raw-me. He began fluidly, almost imperceptibly at first, moving quite masterfully, almost mimicking one of those contraptions inflated with air, a personnage constantly flopping and inflating, twisting side to side, sporadic, unpredictable. Manu then stuffed a large sheet of plastic in his mouth (unlearning that whole prohibition of plastic inhaling from childhood) - at first I recoiled in horror (childhood prohibitions still strong, perhaps?) but then as he moved forward, it was a choreography of the emerging, the plastic blossomed out. Roque's most chilling sequence began motionless and tremors moved from his legs up his body. Skillfully controlled, this male dancer captured my imagination. It was a divine shaking. When his limbs came into play however, the parellels with disability, parkinson's and other such physically uncontrolled states struck with greater gravity. Heart-stopping almost. As the lights went down, Manu was windmilling his arms, his limbs a blurred circle in the light.

The moment he puffed out his chest, Dany Desjardins brandished his humour and captivated the audience in On Air. Centered around a radio, waves and frequencies, this solo revealed its sharp maturity and development. A series of yogic movements - a pendulum of a downward dog repeating around the radio - were executed with finesse, obsession, an exploration of movement. Dany next entered smoking, walking with confidence, gesturing with humour, possessing an almost slapstick, comic punch, his actions were sharp (he used his hand as an ashtray, his mouth to put out his cigarette). Desjardins played with the radio warbles and high pitched adjustments, humping his radio with comic sonic responses. When the music finally kicked in, Dany displayed a virtuosity of full-body musicality. All in all, a fine exploration in movement. I could watch Dany all night (as I could Manu as well).

Pierre-Marc Ouellette concluded the night with a much more story-based exploration in Le Show Off. The movement was much more loose, much more ambiguous, to the point where it was almost clumsy. The overly theatrical music and inarticulated motivation of the piece garnered some giggles from the audience, although I feel the piece was trying to be more grave. I appreciated Ouellette's integration of spoken text into his piece, it added a nice dimension. It is undeniably that Pierre-Marc is effortlessly charming, bringing his glance to the audience immediately warmed up the crowd. At times, his long wispy bangs seemed to get in the way, or, as I would like to believe was an intentional part of the movement. Hair masked his eyes an added an interesting dimension to the solo introspection of the piece. More haireography! Conducting to a semi-circle of chairs, Ouellette flowed most when the music picked up again and his arms and body surrendered to a series of conductorly swoops.

All in all, a tantilizing evening of works-in-progress. Snippets to charm and to whet the appetite...

Dany Desjardins officially premieres the full work of On Air (developed in Berlin) September 12 at 4:30 at Maison de la culture Maisonneuve (4200, rue Ontario Est), September 14, 16 at 8:00pm at Maison de la Culture Cote-des-Neiges (5290, chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges) and September 22 at 8:00pm at Maison de la Culture Notre-Dame-de-Grace (3755, rue Botrel).

forced rhyme: two moments

A woman eating, like an apple, a tomato.

Mormons on the metro!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Oh The Thinks You Can Think

What have you been thinking about lately?

This is my new favorite question to ask the right people to really get to the core of what's going on beyond the now-banal and meaningless How are you? My friend Annemarie actually started the whole thing. The question always took me by surprise, but we always really got to the core of how we were existing lately.

Not too long ago, she took inspiration from Dr Seuss's book Oh The Thinks You Can Think, taking one line per day as creative prompts (she's an MFA in Creative Writing). And she started a blog.

So, what have you been thinking about lately?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Word's Play

The word mnemonic mumbles memories in a hushed sheer whisper. I can only track traces of truth, microbes of meaning. Really, I'm long lost. Still, I nod knowingly, pretending I've picked the pentimento, the ravishing red crux of the word's (the olive's) core.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dragons Fly

Lately, I don't know why, I've been noticing dragonflies everywhere I go. And I don't believe in mere coincidences. I believe in personal omens.

The other day, exiting my house in Montreal, I spotted the largest shiny green dragonfly I've ever seen. It buzzed around staying in my line of sight until the end of the road. Its power made me smile, its lightness gave me buoyancy.

Dragonflies, those marvelous creatures with stained glass wings flit about in any direction with prowess. They harness a certain power, flying from water to air, wherever they please. From what I have read, these insects represent a mature sense of self, unfettered by self-created illusions. They are fully invested in growth and living their short lives fully. Resplendent with light, balancing emotions and mental clarity, they buzz effortlessly through life.

It seems these little creatures popping into my field of vision represent the great maturity I have been culturing at this point in my life. I am filled with hope for the future as I myself prepare to fly over the Atlantic.

I believe in personal omens. We only see the signs we want to see, and the natural world has been catching my eye. I am filling with hope and determination, filling with light...

Monday, August 30, 2010

[By chance, I witness nature.]

By chance, I witness nature. Circling above
the trees hawks fly, first
one, then a pair, always promising
strength, challenge, and a far-reaching view.

On walks, dragonflies have drifted in
on their erratic flights, full of light
confident mature spirits, gliding, glinting,
stained glass wings ablur in the heat.

Amidst celebrations of a wedding, a monarch
butterfly floats in the surrounding meadow,
giving the couple a fluttering benediction.

And this morning, sitting up in bed half-awake, I saw
a mighty heron perched at the end of the rocks, at the sea.
It stayed as I approached before taking flight, before the rising
sun. A blessing for a journey of grace and nobility, self-reliance,
a curious exploration, swooping over the water.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

my breath, the ocean

The rise and fall of emotions, happiness
is a delicate moment. All feelings rushing
in, rushing, out. The breath cycles, continual,
waves upon the ocean. I bob, motionless, in motion,
I surrender. I try to ride the crests of my inhales, surf,
a fine balance, centering atop a moment, flowing.

Monday, August 23, 2010

with love

My heart has been quiet, pulsing
inwards, introverted, undetectable.
A subtle foundation, finding strength.

My heart now beats outward, like ripples
on a lake, each pulse a drop,
asking nothing in return.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Boundaries, A Paradox

I've been wrestling with a whole bunch of emotional issues lately. Sometimes it's been uncomfortable, sometimes I've been bitchy, sometimes it's been tough. But at the end of the day, pushing through all that, kernels of truth form, pearls that are cultured from the tumult.

Anxiety, control, need for approval all seem to swirl in my body through my daily life. At times more prominent, at times forgotten.

What I have found a tantalizing and interesting paradox is the concept of solidity combined with fluidity, security with openness, a grounded core that is porous. I find it a wonderful opposition to explore. How can I stay solid in who I am, breathe into my inner strength and safety, while also remaining open to those around me. It is a gentle solidity. Abrasion isn't necessary. With a constant self, situations may arise, positive and negative both, but I do need to breathe back into the constant. A wonderful concept of oppositions combined into one.

It made me think of an interview I heard with Matthew Sanford, a paraplegic yoga teacher, speaking of embodiment and feeling. He says:

"There's a reason why when my son who's six is crying, he needs a hug. It's not just that he needs my love. He needs boundary around his experience. He needs to know that the pain is contained and can be housed, and it won't be limiting his whole being, that he can—he gets a hug and, mmm, he drops into his body. "

What I love about this quote is the expansiveness of our feelings, that mess of life, wide like the universe. These bodies we inhabit are only temporary structures housing a powerful soul. The way I relate to my body, the way I view it and get beyond it, is all a complicated and wonderfully interesting relationship. One that I will forever continue to explore, along with exploring the paradoxical boundaries. The skin has no edge. Staying rooted in my personality but expanding outwards beyond skin and body. A continual dialogue, a continual dance.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

wandering eyes

Years ago, while wearing my glasses, I always
indoors in summer, wore my sunglasses atop my head.
Long days viewing into the heavens, eyes
for the thinking mind, ideas visualize

Lately, in the hottest months, I wear my shades over
my chest, clipped at the juncture of the V of my open
shirt. My eyes have drifted from my mind to my heart, windows
into, windows out to the world. The beat awakes.

Monday, August 16, 2010


There's a heavy rock lodged in the riverbed
of my chest, sinking deeper as the waters run
past. The mud sucks down, like an anchor
dragging behind. And I dig, around the edge, prying
one clasped finger away at a time, squelching, lifting
the weight, washing the aqueous soot away, holding
the boulder to one day thrust it, fling it ashore, then
my body will float.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Belief and Technique for Modern Prose, a list of thirty "essentials". From Jack Kerouac.

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside your own house
4. Be in love with your life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see your exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

The Anatomy of a Week

Mondays are full of possibility
Sundays replete with stillness
Friday and Saturday nights loaded with expectation
Wednesdays, and sometimes Thursdays (or maybe somewhere in between) pour a little dread into my heart
And Tuesday? That was the day I was born.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Weight, Lifting

Lay down on me your heavy blankets
Let me feel the weight of existence and thoughts
and gather in, on myself,
slow to my heart's beat and trust
its calming rhythm. And then,
I will rise again, strong, commanding
the weight as a Queen does her furs, imperial
and my eyes, with fire, will smile.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Moment, I Smile

Feeling the support for a pair of sandals my mother recently bought with my two fingers, I said, "Ooh, nice sole."

And I smiled at the beauty of homonyms.

All The Support You Need

I had an absolutely wonderfully focused yoga class with Carina at Studio Bliss yesterday. Besides tapping into the pelvic tilt of Boat Pose and growing into power, Carina infused the entire class with a very basic and beautiful thought.

There are the intentions, actions and reactions of life. There really is only so much you can do, so much you can control. A certain measure of life needs to exist in an openness to spontaneity, leaving room, allowing space. Beautiful moments aren't planned. All we can do, said Carina, is align ourselves up with life.

But there are some very basic levels of support at work. Always, the breath, whether conscious or not, sustains us. Life wants us to breathe. Always, the earth, whether you acknowledge it or not, supports us from below. Simply tapping into the breath's potential to give us life, to lighten the upper body, to make the heart buoyant, while also grounding into the earth with legs and four corners of feet, these actions, pure and simple, are all you need.

How easy.

Life after this simple yet profound class didn't seem so complicated anymore. Breath and Earth (and how cool is it that the word earth is written within breath?), all I really need to sustain my life. So now, when life gets away from me, all loud and complicated, I just tap into the earth and make sure I'm still breathing and smile.


Thursday, August 05, 2010

To have velocity

When I'm on a bus, I can think
When I walk, I compose
There are moments in my life where all I need
is a little velocity.
Rolling effortlessly down a hill atop a bicycle
Riding in a car as it revs and accelerates, feeling
the wind take away sound and breath
With velocity comes a certain abandon and surrender
Life loses its definition, passing in blur, romantic
My heart jumps into imagination.


The broken filament, hard work in silver hangs
loose in the languid gusts of afternoon, snapped
by uncareful fingers through the spider's web, set adrift.
In the morning it had glistened, taut in its symmetry,
peaceful at the end of a night's weaving. Silk poured
from the body. Then, continuity cut, mute, quick, now wavering.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

inversion, emotion

At my most vulnerable, my body turns inside out.
My muscles, in strips, form a bleeding armour (not an armour at all).

I turn into the man from the medical books, poised
and displaying his musculature.
His perfect skin (seen in the unabashed scientific nudity to his right)
cleanly removed.

I feel every particle of wind, even intentions of touch.
My crimson flesh pulses, my entire body beats.

Ode to Stovetop Things

My lips curl into a gentle smile while cradling a steel pot as water pours from the faucet and fills
as the chicken roasts in the oven, blushing, burned by the heat of a convection sun.
My mind warms as florets shed their stealthy forest green to smile bright and alive.
An ode to the simple pleasures of the kitchen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote for Thought

All my little life I've wanted to roam
Even if it was just inside my own home

-Rufus Wainwright, Rules and Regulations

The Space to Emote

Over the past two weeks, my parents have been away. And in the past two weeks I've had moments of frustration and, with no one at home, I've had the space to really explore those emotions. Not that I don't love my parents or appreciate having them around, but to have that space to really dig deep is so important. There is no shield that automatically comes up, no muzzle that gets attached. Emotions can ooze, scream, cower, shake, and blurt things out.

I know that discovering my own emotional landscape has been a immensely rewarding experience, albeit tough and not always pleasant. At those moments when I've felt vulnerable, emotions usually bubble up like freshly popped pop corn, spilling over, spilling out. And then there are those moments when you feel awful and you have no idea why. There are also times when you are jubilant, quietly content, radiantly happy. All moments in the emotional landscape.

Many times I've said that I love space. It even led me to try out an intro to architecture (my misadventure into and quickly out of architectural practice). But what I've come to realize that while I do really love a great open space, a thoughtfully constructed architectural space, a cozy room, and places with personality, I think I prize emotional space above all else. It allows me to just be a bit of an emotional mess without judgement, just let it all out, let things play out (it's not necessarily hysterical or anything), but just let emotions come to fruition, to completion. And then beautiful writing can happen (or angsty or terrible, but all necessary), and creative work ripens. Emotional space, it's a beautiful thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dating 2.0?

In the age of Web 2.0, I don't go searching for information, I let it all come to me. GoogleReader gathers all the posts from all the blogs I follow; I no longer know their www addresses. Facebook and Twitter exclaim the latest from friends, acquaintances and admired strangers. Access has become such as to reduce the effort, reduce the search. Let it all come to me.

If we are in this habit of minimal effort, how then does one seek out romantic partners? Have we become insta-judges, ready to ditch a person if first impressions don't come up to par? We are so preened to think of the way we present ourselves to the world.

How then can we encourage people to truly network and truly get to know one another? Who will take the initiative? Who will take the responsibility?

In an age where we expect things to come to us, what becomes of the phenomenon of dating?

Thursday, July 01, 2010


If you enjoyed life all the time, would you really enjoy it?

If life were rosy all the time, it would be just a flatline at the apex. Without life's lows, you can't truly experience life's highs. It really is something of a relative measure. One emotion can't really be achieved without its opposite.

Think about that one.

Monday, June 28, 2010

London Calling, on multiple lines

While my London venture is still over two months away, I am already feeling a whole bunch of emotions.

I'm excited. A degree focused on nothing but art? I couldn't be happier. And plus it will be at a school that has a stellar reputation in art circles and said school is an easy walk down the road from the stellar National Gallery, one of the many London museums which are free.

I'm scared. Oh no, I'm going back to school (initial excitement fades in and out). So far some of my classmates sound super cool (read: AH!), Fulbright scholars, museum employees... After my initial freakout, I settle into the absolute privilege of it all. These are the sorts of people I WANT to surround myself with. Just breathe in, dive in.

I'm apprehensive. London is a gargantuan city. However will I take it all in? However will I connect to the art scene? When I start thinking about it all, I become really really small.

I'm thrilled. It's London! A city bursting with energy and life and elegance and opportunity.

I'm hopeful. I want my life to revolve around art. Well this is the first step in establishing the credentials to make it all happen. Valiantly forward I go.

I'm tentative. What ultimately are my ambitions? Where am I going to end up? Am I going to pursue a PhD? I fear that my academic style will clash with the one being taught. What if I am not to the same level? Ultimately though, I want to be true to myself. I must be headstrong in my own vision of the way I see things.

It is a mess of emotions, ultimately great. Nothing worth doing was ever easy or without a good dose of fear. I am diving into a pool of art, knowing full well what I want out of my education and knowing what my style of writing and reflecting is. It will be about being true to myself but also being open to the growth and new challenges that will present themselves.

So for now, I'm putting London on hold ;)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Individual Body

A few weeks ago I went to a "Core Empowerment" workshop. I went because, for a long time, I've felt that I haven't been connecting to my core. Or maybe it was because I wanted great abs, or something. Too often I find myself wishing for some sort of super toned body that just seems impossible to achieve. Don't we all compare ourselves to others? Prod ourselves, torture ourselves, complain about the way we look, wish we looked different than we do? But over the course of the workshop, I began to realize that all that pining and torturing and wishing was all for naught.

If I wanted to get crazy abs, maybe I could take some supplements, go to the gym and do target exercises and get superficial results superfast. But that isn't my style, since I believe in a more holistic workout and relying simply on my own body weight to build strength. But I also learned in this workshop was that the real barometer of abdominal strength has nothing to do with external appearances. You can have a six pack and be weak, you can have a no-pack and be super strong. It's the individual that counts.

Your individual body knows which exercises make it groove into health, make it radiate. Your body processes movement in its own way. I can be in the best shape of my life and still only be mildly toned. It's quite special to take pride in your body for what it is, learning the way it shines, accepting its unique shape of health.

I may go to yoga classes for the community, but ultimately, it is my own individual journey, discovering the complexities of my psyche, harnessing the strength of my body. Once I lose all the comparisons and doubts, I can get to an individual place of power, focus and light.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"...and suddenly a vacuum player started up..." - Glenn Gould

"I happened to be practicing at the piano one day – I clearly recall, not that it matters, that it was a fugue by Mozart, K. 394… and suddenly a vacuum player started up just beside the instrument. Well, the result was that in the louder passages, this luminously diatonic music in which Mozart deliberately imitates the technique of Sebastian Bach became surrounded with a halo of vibrato, rather the effect you might get if you sang in the bathtub with both ears full of water and shook your head from side to side all at once. And in the softer passages I couldn’t hear any sound that I was making at all. I could feel, of course – I could sense the tactile relation with the keyboard, which is replete with its own kind of acoustical associations, and I could imagine what I was doing, but I couldn’t actually hear it. But the strange thing was that all of it suddenly sounded better than it had without the vacuum cleaner, and those parts which I couldn’t actually hear sounded best of all. Well, for years thereafter, and still today, if I am in a great hurry to acquire an imprint of some new score on my mind, I simulate the effect of the vacuum cleaner by placing some totally contrary noises as close to the instrument as I can. It doesn’t matter what noise, really—TV westerns, Beatles records, anything loud will suffice—because what I managed to learn through the accidental coming together of Mozart and the vacuum cleaner was that the inner ear of the imagination is very much more powerful a stimulant than is any amount of outward observation." -Glenn Gould

Friday, June 18, 2010

Montreal Shows its True Colors

Since Canada doesn't have a World Cup Team (as my friend Nadira so aptly put it, "We're better on ice), Montreal is free to bring out their flags in support of whichever team they pledge allegiance to. Flags (of England, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Holland...) fly freely from car windows, draped down over balconies and have become evening shawls as well. The cafes along St Viateur were packed with rapt fans (especially during the Greece match) and the streets drone quietly with the sound of the vuvuzela. It truly is a wonderful celebration of the many cultures that make Montreal such a beautifully vibrant city.

Short, Cheap and Sometimes Satisfactory

At the Montreal Fringe, the shows are short, cheap and sometimes highly entertaining. In the case of Robby Who? it was so short that it was over before I could really get into it. While Robby Hoffman is a hoot and has great potential, I think the show fell a little flat in being so short (Hoffman was only on stage for about 15 minutes of the total 30 minute comedy show).

The Dirty Little Spoons did a little better. Their slightly gauche variety hour had lots of funny moments and was absolutely bursting with energy. If nothing else, it's a delight to see the four actresses pour their guts out on stage. There were moments that dragged a little long, but overall it was a good laugh. A show worth seeing if you want a laugh, but not a show worth going out of your way to see.

Shoshinz: A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup was a colourful, positively delightful hour of slightly physical comedy and pure musicality (and not a single word). Great for kids and kids-at-heart, the show from Japanese comedian Yanomi is a silly little show that will have you smiling. A great little number.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Jesus is in the Jello

The only thing wrong with Jesus Jello was the hellishly-hot room it was located in. But a ensemble of superb spot-on comedic acting, creative set design and original writing (and a bowl full of lime green Jell-o) more than made up for all the sweat. Praise be to God!

I smiled all the way through this one. Tristan D. Lalla definitely stole the show. Joanne Sarazen's script was razor sharp, or more like tickly-feather light, making me giggle and guffaw the whole way through. Jesus Jello fired on all cylinders, an excellent on-point cast made this the best show of the Fringe thus far and an ABSOLUTE MUST SEE!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


There was a certain finesse and precision in the two minute preview of «autrui nm (ô-trui)» at the Fringe-for-All that had me instantly hooked. I was not disappointed.

The production was flawless; staging and lighting effects along with sound manipulation were seamless, transporting the audience to two strange worlds. Transportative definitely is the word to describe this piece up at Tangente until June 20th. And Enthralling.

Katia-Marie Germain and Eugenie Khoury are two very talented choreographers, mining precision movements and the poetic spaces between. You should go discover their worlds.

My Own Private Fringe Show

I was the only one in the audience. There were more people on stage than in the seats. I was outnumbered. But THREE (whose title's meaning still escapes me) was well worth the awkwardness of being the only one to see their premiere performance. And, upon further reflection, perhaps it was even apropos given what the show exposed. The troupe presented a complex, layered production that masterfully used projection and other theatrical effects to expose our multimedia world and the demise of the text. Script and action echoed, layering multiple representations, multiplying meaning, or losing it. I didn't think it was possible to create such fragmentation and layering in a live theatrical piece, but they did it. What does it mean to live today? Does what we say really matter? When reality is so exposed through Internet media, what do our words and actions mean anymore? -- Curious to ask yourself these questions? Go see THREE.

On Friday, I went to see How to Survive an Existential Crisis. I went because I had been intrigued by the preview at the Fringe-For-All. I was disappointed. Jake Smith bombarded the audience with a heap of cliches related to existentialism, all while in his underwear and bathrobe. There were great little moments of original writing and a lovely guitar song, but otherwise the show was lacking. I'm not sure if there were technical difficulties, but the lighting effects were just downright weird. All in all, I'd advise against this show, spend your $10 elsewhere.

Friday, June 11, 2010

From Long Black to Café Alongé

When I landed in Sydney, I wasn't a devotee of the caffeine. However, when I left, I had been seduced by more than one cup of cappuccino. Arriving back in Montreal, I wondered if I would find the same quality coffee.

So far, I have witnessed textured milk with foam leaning more towards whipped cream than milk (ahem, Cafe Souvenir and Nespresso [although, truth be told, to the true coffee connoisseur, Nespresso can't be taken seriously from the beginning]. The milk in Montreal is definitely not as finessed as that in Australia (I am still baffled as to how coffee culture has become so elite in the most isolated of continents). Textured milk should be seamless, blending just right with the coffee, a duet.

Have I become a coffee snob because of my Australian barista training?

At Cafe Neve and Cafe Myriade, perhaps two of the most lauded cafes in the city, I've had very good capps. But I'm not wholly satisfied just yet. Maybe I've been spoiled by the hint of chocolate powder sprinkled into my milky coffee drinks in Australia. I am looking for a smoother symbiosis of silky hot milk and espresso, with a sensual sip that makes you spring to life. I am willing to continue my quest, I have faith in this city. I think I should go back to these two cafes and sample others in the city. Where is that excellent cup of coffee? Australia has set the bar high. I do hear good things about Caffe Art Java, and I am willing to go back to Neve when its Melbourne-born owner, Luke Spicer, is juggling the handles.

Buon Caffé!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Marion Wagschal in Conversation - Battat Contemporary

To witness Marion Wagschal's work is to be confronted with a delicate but firm power. With her compacted spaces, raw subject matter and attention to detailing, this Montreal-based painter's work occupies a space which for me lies between the edge of Schiele and the decorative embellishment of Klimt. Yet, at the same time, Wagaschal has a style all her own that explores a depth of subject matter that enthralls the viewer.

I had the pleasure of listening in on a conversation between the artist and Jake Moore, Director of the FOFA Gallery at Concordia University. It really was a privilege to be able to deepen my understanding of the works on display at Battat Contemporary (until June 5) through discussion of process, inspiration and interpretation. Jake's bubbly and personable nature brought forth an effortless, casual yet thoughtful conversation about Wagschal's career, her focus on the figure, her dedication to social realism and her process. The world of Wagschal's canvases comes to life on the canvas through intense detailing, a process likened to needlework by the artist, working out the nuance of the scene and its ashen colouring. The canvases resolve themselves.

While the subject matter is immediately and apparently intense, Marion has a calm considered air about her. Her world may be intense, but on the surface, she does not have that harsh edge. But I did sense her assiduous dedication to her work, charmed by colour, curious about drapery, always wanting to see her inspiration to its rightful end on the canvas. The drapery of her canvases, as the artist noted, brings the loftiness of baroque drapery to a more visceral human level. The artist embraces the psychological and explores memory, aging, gender, bodies, relationships and our lived realities. There is an honesty in her work, and a depth, these statements on canvas have not been arrived at easily. Wagschal confronts a raw reality and works her canvases into alternate spaces, miasmas of texture and faded colour.

Marion Wagschal's recent work can be viewed at Battat Contemporary until June 5.

Images of Wagschal's paintings courtesy of Battat Contemporary website.

Rising Ethereal

Two photographic moments, one an accident, one a moment of visual discovery, both staircases, rising ethereal.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Black and White Ticket to Japan...

In his photographic wanderings (a loose translation of the project's title Samayou), Montreal photographer Laurent Guerin transports the viewer across Japan with his crisp images. Playing with contrast and focus, the images on display at Galerie Orange in Old Montreal are at once fantastical, at once documentary, and always poetic. A thoughtful world wanderer, Guerin has previously produced genuine and acclaimed bodies of photographic work of both India and Japan. The ascetic space of the gallery creates an environment conducive to viewing the stark images. I particularly like the two mosaics, a collection of images arranged in a grid, that produce loose personal portraits of Tokyo during the day and at night.

Guerin's images will be on display until May 30, 2010. Galerie Orange is located at 81 Saint-Paul Est, Montreal.

Images courtesy of the Galerie Orange website (viewable here).

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Connection. Arrival.

Wow, I'm a bit shitwrecked. I am arrived home in Montreal but boy am, I feeling a little all over the place. I woke up at 7am feeling achy, like an old man. I still can't believe that it is only 10am. Is this possible? Why is time going so slowly? What am I going to do all day? Ah, transitions.

I had a fun little 22-hour journey yesterday. The flights were mostly alright, but wow, my connection in LA is worth recounting. After a 13-14 hour flight, I got off the plane ready to go through customs, reclaim and recheck my bags, go through security and make my connection to Chicago an hour later. Well, too bad I had to go to the bathroom straight off the plane because I found a MONSTROUS line going into customs. I kept looking at my watch, it didn't look good. I finally got out of customs after 40 minutes of waiting. 20 minutes to make my flight, could I make it? I ran to claim my bags, recheck them and then saw the line for security. No way I was waiting. I talked to a few people got sent here and there and finally was shoved to the front of the line. The final call for my flight was being announced as I took off my shoes and belt, took out my laptop, and chugged down the half liter of water I had in my water bottle. No way and hell they were taking my beloved water bottle. As soon as I had my shoes on, I ran, ran through the airport as if I were Indiana Jones getting chased by that giant boulder. The people at the gate were waving me in to come on the flight, they were about to close the door. There had been two people behind me on the same flight and they told me to run ahead and tell the people at the gate they were coming. I did but they were reticent to wait, I felt awful. But I made it.

Moral of the story? While short connections are good because you'll make it home sooner, allowing at least two hours between flights is a pretty civil way to go. So between the catatonia of my airplane flights and my mad dashes in airports in between, its fair to say that my body has taken a beating along with the jet lag. But I made it, said a sad farewell to the sister and the brother-in-law and Sydney and am back in la belle ville, Montreal, for the summer. But for now, I am just taking it one moment at a time.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Hat that Was - A Eulogy

Since the beginning of my time in Australia, I was convinced that I'd never find a hat. They were all too small - or, rather my head was too big. So I just gave up, and slathered on the sunscreen instead.

When I started traveling, I once again tried to find a hat, just for the hell of it. Along the trendy hipster Brunswick Street in Melbourne, I found one, one of two in a bargain bin. Dark brown woven straw with a faded maroon and blue ribbon (with a pale yellow stripe running through it). The hat fit perfectly (or it felt comfortable for the first time in my hat expedition in Australia). And, quite uncannily, the colours of the ribbon matched those of my shirt almost all too well. I was jubilant.

The hat accompanied me around Melbourne, was tried on by little Nick (the child of Libby and Michael), down to Barwon Heads, through the rainforest of the Daintree National Park, along an epic hike on Magnetic Island, in the rain and sun of glorious Fraser Island and got on the bus to go down to Byron Bay. But, unfortunately, I don't think the hat made it through the connection at Brisbane.

Unfortunately, I only discovered this upon arriving at the noisy and crowded Art Factory Hostel in Byron Bay. I was distraught. See, I'd taken approximately three months to find this perfect hat. I am a man of very discerning tastes. Such things take time. And I loved that hat. I was even planning on putting a peacock feather into the ribbon, just for a bit of nostalgia and panache. I had met a girl carrying a whole bunch of the feathers on the bus to Brisbane, and she gave me one seeing that I had a thing for the feathers. Shortly after giving me the feather, she said that some people think the feathers to bring bad luck. Turns out she was right.

And thus begun and ended the saga of the hat.

In Photos: Byron Bay