Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Intentions for 2009

Intentions for 2009

1. AudioText--make a great radio show
2. Make a chapbook for my myriad fans
3. Make a CD for my myriad fans
4. Complete my website.
5. Do yoga as close to every day as possible
6. Feel joy.
7. Get laid.
8. Spread the love.
9. Find the strength in vulnerability.
10. Get published (more).
11. Follow my path(s). Trust.
12. Lose the ego. For my myriad fans.

And you?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Third place!

One more slam past, and I've apparently moved up the ranks from fourth to third, a spot I like well, especially when I win excellent prizes like my brand new nose- and ear-hair trimmer.

Also, scoring third tonight and last time secured me a place in the Women of the World Poetry Slam finals. Next Monday, Jan 5th, at Cafe Deux Soleils, me and 7 other top female slam poets will compete to be the representative of the Vancouver Poetry Slam in Detroit in March. It guarantees to be a good show, because the girls we've got are amazing, and they will show you the best they've got. You'll love it. You should go.

Last night I read two poems, the first of which was quite sexy and a bit sentimental. I wrote it for a certain ex-boyfriend, and it was just a little bit painful to memorize it and speak it on the stage. Still, every single time I slam I get nervous. It's such a beautiful exercise in vulnerability, and that's a quality I am trying to explore more in my life. The kind of vulnerability that has strength in it, of course, and the way slam poetry can empower you is, I think, a good way to get there. Anyway, it scored quite well, and I wondered for a moment if I shouldn't do another sexy, sentimental one for the second round. But I just didn't want to. And the thought of doing something I didn't want to do in order to score better at the slam went against all my better judgments. So I stuck to the one I wanted to read, and it felt good. It was a bit of a sadder one, and in the moment I was feeling it. It didn't score quite as well, but I have good reasons to be happy with third place.

Here's one of the poems:

Your poem


I’m trying to write you a poem.

I’ve been trying to write you a poem.


But all I can come up with is—

The scent of wet flowers


Or

That vibrating, lurching, earthquaking thing that happened when I put your hand on my breastplate and I gave you my heart

in beats like measured spoonfuls.

Or


That first day when we talked

over the café counter about

Poetry and philosophy and then you

Forgot your sandwich

Or when your friend told us about the ecstasy of Xtasy

and i could feel your story like the drug was on the tip of my tongue

Or that night when we saw

Stars, living stars and the space between them, negative space between

Binary stars

Or how I dreamed I was dancing and woke up like I was dancing because I could feel you in my

forearms

But that’s all wrong, I can’t write you that poem, that just sounds like poetry.

My vicious and voluptuous vocabulary

Betrays a dearth of words, a wealth of blanks, a lack of lexicon, a grammar that gurgles and garbles when I try to make sense of this

Make this non-sense!

But still

I want to write it all down.

I want to revel in remembering

To pretend this paper is your skin, to be inscribing this onto your body, until you can feel it, until it hurts, until you come in long, shuddering splashes of inky ecstasy.

I want you to hear this and feel me

In your inner ear

Pounding out beats on your eardrum till you are dizzy from

Spinning with me inside your head

So I’ll keep spinning with you, with your eardrums, your forearms, writing poetry on your body with my vocabulary.

I can’t write you this poem, I could never write you this poem,

Where would I put the commas, the semicolons; or worse, the full stops?

I’d just have to keep writing it, running off the page, spilling the ink, tearing up the pages.

This could never be your poem. I could never write you this poem. To tell you how I feel or who I am or what this means to me.

Cause a poem like that


Would never end.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

the cruelty of weather

Happy Holidays, blog readers. As you may have noticed, if you live in Vancouver, it SNOWED. Big time. Bigger time, actually, than it has in 40 years. i think this is mean.

I just left Montreal to escape the claustrophobia of snow, and the nightmare way it makes every step forward move back in space like you are trying to run but you can't. I literally moved to greener pastures for a reason. As you may remember from a much earlier post back when I was getting ready to leave Montreal, I saw the old girl as a relationship gone sour. Montreal was a crazy bitch who would rain on me, burn me with heat, dump snow on me, and whatever else she could pull out of her repertoire, and just as I was leaving her weather went as wild as it possibly could in fits of breakup rage. Well, I feel like she followed me all the way to Vancouver for one last fight. Well, i've refused to participate, and have been sitting on my parent's couch for the past three days.

I did take one break, however, to go cross country skiing around a park with my mom. It was actually empowering--if snow conflicts with walking, slide on it. Besides, Montreal is melting outside, and my new lover, Vancouver, is washing her away.

Monday, December 22, 2008

And I've been published again! This is a fun game. It's a list of Christmas books, little capsule reviews to help you choose a book to give this holiday seasons. I wrote two of them.

http://thetyee.ca/Books/2008/12/18/HolidayBooks/

Solstice party!

Happy Solstice everyone! Today is December 22, and yesterday was the darkest day of the year. Appropriately enough, it's brilliantly sunny outside. Every day after this one will be brighter than the last, at least until the Summer Solstice. This is something to celebrate.

Last night, my bar manager, Ian, and I decided to host a party at the [secret bar i'm not allowed to mention] to celebrate the solstice. We got together what we could, advertised the cheap beer, and set it all up. The snow was coming down hard in the morning, and I almost canceled, but a surprising amount of people showed up in the end. it was a great party!

My brother was in attendance, and mortified me with these words: "Dad tells me you are an 'erotic' poet. Is this true?" Yikes. Well, he found out for himself when I started reading a bit later in the evening. Zack couldn't get over the "package in my mailbox" metaphor. He then went on to tell all the guys in the bar about my man troubles and how I should date any of them because they are probably nicer than any of my other boyfriends. Thanks, Zack.

Artsy folks and Army folks together were listening and responding to the poems, even asking for more. They continued to listen to Steve Miller reciting a poem with the accompaniment of the Creaking Planks's saxophonist, Nathaniel, and accordionist, Rowan. Then Richard Lett made them laugh hysterically with some drunken comedy, and then the Planks kept the party going while people got drunker and drunker. Finally, Alla stepped in with a dance playlist and that gorgeous dance floor was finally being used. I'm so glad we didn't cancel.

I also used my newfangled recording device to get some of the performances on the radio. Keep your ear out for that!

Difficult to believe, but this is Vancouver. I just freaking LEFT Montreal, city of eternal snow, and for the first time in forty years, Vancouver's got 10 cm of snow and temperatures of -12. I am not cool with this. White Christmas my ass.

One nice thing, though, is that when the city gets in trouble, people are there to help out. I was stuck trying to get up a hill in my parents' ill-equipped car, and a few strangers just started pushing me, without me having to ask, asking nothing in return. Later, when my pipes burst, a friend let me into their home at 4 in the morning. Kindness is a valuable thing at times like these. So are snowplows.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Book Reviews by JC Peters

This is me, getting published. I'm like a real writer now.

http://www.mtls.ca/issue2/writings-review-peters.html



Note: George Elliott Clarke is involved in this journal. *Swoon*

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

3rd place!

They say 3rd place winners are always happier than second. I agree. 3rd place is best. This is where I landed at the slam last night, which meant a whopping $15 for me, and an incense holder which I actually really needed.

I was stuck at fourth for a while, and then just wasn't placing, so I'm pretty happy to have gotten where I did. Also, being up on stage with a whole bunch of men always makes me feel good, like I'm representing the ladies. I also don't feel too bad about losing to Scruffmouth, the very deserving 1st place winner. I think second went to David Perez, who I've never seen before but who I thought was really great. So it's all good!

My second poem is one that didn't score too well last time, but I just believed in it. I still do, actually, even though I haven't gotten too much feedback about it in particular. Here it is--imagine me reading it full of passion.

Want


When I come home,
I want a package in my mailbox
that's full of secrets and so stuffed with stuff
it leaks with the scent of the person who sent it.

When I come home,
I want text messages and emails in my inbox
so jammed with jam I can feel the skin of the person who sent them
on my fingertips.

When I come home,
I want roses and lavender on my bedside table,
Calendula and lily of the valley
Queen Anne's Lace and broken
peony petals so brimming to the brim they fall from the box
with the desire to touch my fingertips.

When I come home, I want to be home.
I want to feel home,
with you in my bed,
waiting to hold me
with your hands in my hair and lips
so full with full they break over my fingertips.

When I come home,
I want to feel the universe
like I was skinny dipping in the Amazon River,
so ample with electric eels their
current slides over my body
until it becomes a part of me.

I want to touch my face in the mirror
so deep it breaks and
silver slivers of glass cut my fingertips
to draw blood so red its cardinal carmine wine

When I come home,
I want to veer voluptuously into the
screaming seams of the universe
on a shattered path of obsidian obstacles
and indigo indecencies
until I ignite with inchoate beauty
so awful it tears me from all four corners.

I want to feel lost until I feel found again.
I want to be blue until I can be aquamarine.
I want to lose hope
so I can find it again.
I want to forget the feeling of my fingertips til I can touch them again.

and then
and then
and then

when I find home again,
when I come home again,
when I come home,
so gorged with gorge i am lying on
broken shards of ultramarine fingertips

then

then I'll be home.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Radio Show!

So the radio show is finally a go--or rather, will be a go, the first week of January if all goes according to plan. It will be Wednesday evenings, from 6-630pm on CITR 101.9, and you should be able to podcast it from citr.ca if you don't live in the city or don't have the time when it's on or want to hear it again or whatever.

The show will involve Canadian writing in its most general sense. I want to basically support the writing community in Vancouver and in Canada generally, whether it be exposing people to spoken word poetry, little-known page poetry, unpublished work, published work, travel writing, playwrighting, whatever you can think of. I LOVE having guests, so if you are yourself a writer or know someone who should get some radio play, get in touch with me at juliecpeters[at]gmail.com, and i'd love to have you on the show. Same goes if you are planning, organizing, performing, or hosting an event that has anything to do with writing. Also, please please please send me your spoken word cds and/or donate them to the CITR library so I can play them on the air.

it's going to be awesome. For serious.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Listen to the accordion poem!

In other news, the guest poem I did on Accordion Noir a couple of months back is on their "best of" show. It's the one about the accordion player who seduces me from the stage. Not literally, Mark Berube's taken. If you didn't have a chance to check it out, the recording is here:


http://accordionnoir.org/drupal/node/126

Thanks!
Hey loves,

I've had a pretty crazy week. Crazy in a good way, though I can't deny snapping at poor Eric from irritability, tiredness, and dehydration. Sorry buddy. The litre of wine really helped.

On Wednesday, I was featuring at Raw Canvas's Poetry Jam. They hold this event once a month, every second Wednesday, but this one was special because I was there (kidding). It was pretty much magical. Raw Canvas is a sweet place, first of all. It's a restaurant and cafe in Yaletown, but does not have Yaletown prices or pretentiousness. It's full of velvety antique furniture and interesting art, being as it is an art bar. For $35, you can get yourself a canvas and start a painting in the back with all the supplies they have laid out there. Super sweet vibe, very chill, described by Chris Gilpin as "the most romantic bar in Vancouver." I thought this would be the perfect place to come out of my shell a little.

It's become apparent to me that I am an erotic poet. I don't mean to be, and I've been told that even my poems that have nothing to do with sex have a sensuality to them. I've tried to resist this a little bit, because I love and respect really political poetry and wish I could write more about it. I'm also stuck on gender issues--I have a gender neutral academic name for a reason. When I was in undergrad, a male professor started paying attention to me, telling me we should work together because I have a lot of potential. The guy I was seeing at the time said to me, "If i were him and had a student that looked like you, I'd say the same thing." Nice. Also, when I won my first slam, my own father said to me, "You were probably the best looking one there." Thanks for the vote of confidence, Dad. Then recently, a friend explained to me that both when I score well and when I score badly, it's because I'm pretty. I hate those sort of comments--the people saying them think they are complimenting you, but actually they are telling you you might as well be barefoot and pregnant because you're only valuable for your boobs. Or whatever.

So what's a gender-conscious poet to do? Well, beginning with Raw Canvas, I decided to fuck that noise and just go with it. I write poetry because it feels good, not because I'm trying to make a point. As long as people let me read it to them, I'll do it. So the theme of the evening at Vancouver's most romantic bar (for my set anyway) was sex. and it was awesome! Felt really good to be myself, and I got a ton of really, really positive feedback. I even found out that I have a couple of fans--people who watch out for me at the slam and enjoy my readings every time! How awesome is that?

So welcome to my erotic world, readers. Expect more poetry and more honesty to come.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Adventures in Yaletown

So I've finally, in the past two weeks, gotten myself a real job and a regular schedule. No paycheque yet, but one day that will come in and I can stop panicking about my visa bill. My mother, brilliant as she is, says to me: "Welcome to the real world." Thanks mom. Does this mean I have to cut back my drinking? Again?

Anyway, the job, receptionist at two different yoga studios, is brilliant. It's full of cool people, there's no gross food to deal with (though the occasional yoga mat so sweaty it drips on its way to the cleaning room--ew. Pools of sweat.), and I get FREE yoga at this beautiful yoga studio.

This morning, I woke up feeling a little gross and overtired. So I took a quick skytrain over to the big, beautiful studio in Burnaby, took a Power Vinyasa class, and then sat in the infrared sauna for a few minutes. It was HOT in there. Apparently infrared heat is supposed to go straight to your core, detoxifying you more than a usual steam sauna. I can't speak for other saunas because I'm a bit of a noob in the territory, but I felt awesome after, and couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Sat and had some tea with my lovely manager Debbie and a yoga teacher named Melissa, and felt much revived.

I also, however, work at a studio in Yaletown, the richest, yuppiest neighborhood in Vancouver. Yaletown people are notoriously self-righteous and bitchy, and carry dogs around everywhere with them. I got to my shift a little early, and took a walk around the neighbourhood. I passed by a store that sells nothing but $350 cartoon paintings of cats. Then a place that will wash and blow dry your hair. For $200. In half an hour. Amazing that these yaletown women have so much money and time that they spend it all on blowjobs. (badoom-ching!)

Sure enough, at my job I've encountered quite a few yaletown people. The surprise is that they are the YOGA TEACHERS. It's amazing--the clientele has been generally really nice and cool, and a couple of the yoga teachers (not all--most of them are really great) were just incredibly irritable and bitchy, getting stressed about the tiniest things. It's amazing what Yaletown can do to people.

More stories of my adventures in yaletown to come, I'm sure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A letter for now.

Well dear readers,

Things have been very very gradually settling down in my neck of the woods. It appears fate has a very confusing and inner-life searching plan for me over this year, and I'm trying to flow with it. I'm trying to find myself in the mess, the centre in the chaos, the answers in the questions, and all that good stuff.

For those of you that may have been worried I would turn completely hippie on moving out here, well, it seems to be happening. I've started working this week at a yoga studio, and yoga is becoming a huge part of my life. I do it almost every day, and I'm starting to incorporate meditation as well. I meet a lot of people at the studio who are into spiritual pursuits, and almost convinced me to burn some dried sage in my bedroom to get rid of the bad energy. Yesterday I found myself describing to a good friend how to energize his chakras. God help me if I ever lose my irony.

I'm still drinking enough, though, so that shouldn't worry those of you who thought I might change. This weekend is another episode of Winos United, and it looks like quite a few more people will be able to come, which means we can try many more wines!

Wish me luck as I wade through the karmic mess that is my life, finish off The Te of Piglet, and let my chakras guide me to the next step. Which at this point will be wine, I guess! No problem there.

Just as an aside, I really, really miss those of you who I left and may be thinking about me. Cristina, Alison, Krista, Kitty, Xavier, Rob, Chris, etc. etc....you're on my mind.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm tired.

Darling blog,

It's been an embarrassingly long time, I know. Things change so quickly around here I can barely keep track myself.

I recently was asked by someone I had just met what I do. What a wonderful question! I thought, and proceeded to list off the things I've done since I've been here:

1. Bartending at wine bar
2. Bartending at army base
3. Bartending at filipino weddings, wasp weddings, loft parties at the warehouse where they keep all the movie set props and furniture, etc.
4. Life modeling
5. Writing bar reviews
6. Writing book reviews
7. Writing job application after job application
8. (pending) reception at a yoga studio in Burnaby
9. Poetry slam, women's slam, erotic zine launch, etc. performances
10. Radio interviews and a demo for a radio show (come ON CITR it's been long enough already)


I think that is enough for a couple of years of work. I'm getting so tired. And not really any closer to knowing what the hell I want to do with my life. I'm trying to quell the quarterlife panic and go with the flow here. Let's hope I'm learning things. And avoiding boredom at all costs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Props? Clothes? No!

So after a pretty bad week of unemployment and stress thanks to a certain boy who will not be named, I really missed my slam people. I wanted to slam, but it was the Alt slam, in this case the "prop slam" and I had nothing to do for that, so I thought I'd just show up and hang out with some of the people I really like and watch some poetry.

Considering it was Thanksgiving Monday, not too many people showed up, and Spillious begged me to think of something as he had only 6 poets signed up. I told him I'd take a look through my journal (I hadn't even brought my poems) and see what I could come up with. Spillious had brought a leather suitcase, among a whole bunch of other things, and I have a poem about a case of the blues, so I thought I'd go with it.

I actually had a great time, fumbling with the big case, pretending it to be very heavy, and revealing it at the end to be completely empty, just like a case of the blues should be (awwwwww).

I did so well on that poems--9s and 10s! That I was bumped into the second round! Oh shit.

So I pulled up one from memory, called Bombardment, and picked up every prop I could find and continuously picked them up and dropped them until finally dropping everything, and taking off my scarf and sweater. Taking my clothes off landed me second place (and $25), just behind the legendary comic Richard Lett, who, I suppose, was charming enough to compete with my stripping routine.

This is why you should come to the slam, people.

The whole thing felt great. It really cheered me up, and I definitely got some stuff out onstage. Continuing to drink with aforementioned slam people really rounded off the night.

Anyway, here are the poems, if you're interested:

A case of the Blues
Sept 4

I got a case of the blues, baby.
I got a big ol’ sack of the sads
just waiting in the middle of my room
sitting on my very clean sheets
to be opened and fill the place with gloom.

This case of mine, well baby, it’s gorgeous.
Dark oak finish, big ugly latches,
and just as heavy as a case of blues should be, baby.

I wish it were full of tools, though, darling,
I wish it had wrenches and screwdrivers,
thing to help me build a house, a big one,
with a library full of books and old chairs you can sink down into.

I wish this case were full of glassware, honey, bottle openers and scotch whiskey
tools to build a bar where me and my friends
can drink and talk and feel at home.

I wish it were a sack full of love, sugar, full of hope and trust, or a trust fund,
whatever people need to build a family.

It could even be full of spirits, sweetness,
ghosts who just want to talk,
so I wouldn’t have to feel so alone.

It could be a case of reds and greens, purples and aquamarine, any colour but the blues weighing down those very clean sheets.

Or forget all that, baby.
I just wish it were a case of wine.

But for now,
the blues will have to do.



bombardment

i’m being bombarded.
bombs of info are barding me
goading me, loading me up, linke some
information superhighway supersize me bucket of fries and lies.
explosions of knowledge go off in my frontal cortex
while my hypothalamus protests the barrage.

this rapid-fire world, these fast-traffic words,
the bodies and faces attempting to annex my brain—

violence in newspapers! sex on tv!
human drama and a middle of the afternoon beer and burger and beer and beer and beer
people and books just looking at me, waiting for
intuitive essays and analytical advice

my body disgruntles, it dis, and worse, it gruntles.
my fingertips echo, my thighs ask, my forearms want to know: what’s gone missing?

it’s your hands, you know.

that’s what they are all demanding, fingertips, thighs and forearms.
they are ganging up on me on behalf of my heart, which is just now
rallying against reading, objecting to noises, protesting distractions.
there is a revolution happening in my senses, and all they keep asking for is your hands.
your hands, and your mouth, your thoughts, your air, your chest, your words, your all.

but the bards keep on bombing. the dis keep on gruntling.

till i say, “just wait til those hands come back,” i say,
to bards and bombers and dis and dis gruntlers.
“just wait,” to the troops, the muscles in my ankles, the follicles of my skin, the enamel of my teeth.
just wait.
and the power will go out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Divino is full of winos. Not the good kind.

Hallo blog, and fans. Have you missed me? Many things have changed in my life. Here are a couple of updates.

Firstly, I lost my job at the good ol' wine bar, which I can name now: Divino, the devil's lunchbox. One week they were reluctant to schedule me, after having promised me whatever shifts I wanted (of course), citing some mysterious 'consultant' who didn't want to schedule anyone. Bizarre. I started worrying about getting another job, but thought, well, i've worried about this many times since I started working there. They are probably just disorganized, as usual.

Well, I show up for my friday shift and meet said consultant (who is actually a really nice guy) and he tells me that the mean chef/manager Hugh and the boss, Nicoletta, had been fired. Ted, the big bossman, fired his own daughter! Ah, it made me giggle for days. Donald (consultant) told me that they may or may not be shutting down, and may or may not be firing everyone and starting from scratch. He advises me to start looking for another job, and is kind enough to offer himself as a reference. I figure I've done my fighting for that place, and I'm done.

Now, I think what precipitated this was probably what happened on Wednesday night, the one shift that week I did work. Wine rep Paul came in with about 5 bottles of red wine, 3/4 full. They ranged in price from $50-$250, and he let my try them. Yum. Hugh and Nicoletta proceeded to stay there all night drinking the rest of these bottles. Hugh, plastered, with a big red wine mouth, decides it's a good idea to open a $90 bottle of wine, start making everyone cocktails with expensive lychee liqueur that can only be found in Vegas or somewhere, and giving everyone shots of his 12 year Macallan whiskey. Hugh proceeds to invite in Moe, the neighborhood urchin, for shots of tequila. The poor guy knows immediately he's being made fun of, and walks right out. I should have done it sooner.

As owner and manager devolve into children taking pictures of themselves lying on the floor, the sous chef has also polished off an entire bottle of white cooking wine, and the place is still full of customers. It's 12:30 at this point, door still wide open, blinds up, customers drinking, employees drunk, and past the liquor licence. The two of them kept singing "VIVAAAA LAS VEGAS" because the bossman Ted was on vacation there, thus leaving them to drink away the bar's profits, as usual. They must have forgotten the cameras.

Well, I polished off my expensive whiskey and got the hell out of there, just as the underage employee from the gelateria next door entered the bar. I don't even want to know what happened next.

In conclusion, I'm looking for a new job. I'd like a nice day job, one with a steady paycheque and fewer drunk assholes. I'm sick of mean managers who are misogynistic and usually homophobic, and dirty old men who actually hug me and kiss me on the neck (!!!) and I have to smile because they are the owner's friends. I've had enough of the industry, at least for now. Though of course I'm keeping my army bar job. That pays union wages.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Winos United




So I've recently decided to start a club about wine called Winos United. The idea is that whoever is interested can show up at somoene's place with a bottle of wine they know something about and we will all just taste wine and get drunk in an unpretentious environment. It's a brilliant idea, I know, but its one flaw is dissemination of information via Facebook. I created a group, and people just don't seem to be aware of it. I will definitely work it out by phone in future, or some other more reliable information source.

In any case, the first meeting was last night, and I'd say it was quite a success, despite the relatively low turnout. It was kind of nice, actually, tasting three bottles between four people. I would definitely like to try a few more in the future though! So y'all better come out.

As for the three wines we tried:

First we tried Concannon, ($19) a petit sirah from California. This was my (Julie's) choice. I chose it because I remember it having a very unique, almost spicy aftertaste. Sure enough, the Petit Sirah (or Durif) grapes are known for their spicy sweetness. The taste wasn't there, though, so we decanted the wine, and an interesting date aroma started to appear after a few minutes in the air. I liked this one best, but it was deemed "uncomplicated" by the others, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It was certainly easy drinking.

The second wine we tried was Cono Sur ($17?), an organic cabernet sauvignon from Chile. I found it hit pretty hard right out of the bottle, and had a textured dry aftertaste. I found I liked it more as it mellowed out of the bottle for 1/2 hour or so. (This night was definitely a lesson in letting wine breathe). I think it was pretty well liked overall. This was Chris's choice, and he chose it because there was a bike on the bottle.

The final choice was Brent's, a Shiraz from Italy called Solo ($15). It was like no other wine I had ever tried. It had an almost gasoline-like aroma with strong overtones of pine needles (to my nose anyway). It tasted uncannily like olive oil, and apparently this is because many vineyards in Italy share soil with olive orchards. I didn't like it much, but oddly made the gouda we were eating taste like caramel.

For next time, I'm hoping for more wine and more cheese. Also I wish Cristina and Alison were here for this, but oh well.

If you want to join the group, check it out on facebook. If you want to host the next one yourself, you're more than welcome to. It should happen about once a month, giving everyone some time to pick a wine and research a bit about it, as well as save a few dollars for that little bit nicer bottle than you'd usually buy for those nights when you're all alone in your bed watching weeds and a $10 bottle is the best you'll spring for. Or is that just me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fringe?

All right, so i may have been ambitious in trying to blog all my Fringe reviews, because I simply couldn't go to all the ones I wanted to with my evening work schedule. I tried valiantly to see everything that I could, but I missed a lot of the shows I wanted to see, and sort of doubt I'll get out there on the last day (Sunday) my only day off, and there are other things to do.

Besides, of the four shows I saw, three were mediocre. Last night I checked out Antigone, the only show playing at the time I could see it. It was fine. Three women in togas told Sophocles's story of Antigone, Oedipus's tragically doomed daughter, through dance and story. It was just fine, but not particularly funny or interesting or innovative.

I'm especially disappointed because I have all these starry-eyed memories of the Montreal Fringe last year. There were lots of weird and crazy shows, including some burlesque, some great comedy, and a foursome of Japanese aliens with furry vaginas that was creepy but also only 20 minutes long or so. The Vancouver fringe was also timed badly. If you put two one hour shows back to back against each other, how do you expect people to be able to see both? Very poorly planned, so despite my best intentions and a superpass, I only managed to see four. Lame!

Fringe?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Miss Peters's Fringe Picks and Pans: Die Roten Punkte

Two Australians pretend to be Germans in a punk band called Die Roten Punkte, or the Red Dots. The brother-sister duo bicker and squabble in between hilarious songs that could only have been improved if the words were a bit more audible. This show has been selling out and winning awards all over the place, and for good reason--it's hilarious. My favourite song was "I am not a robot: I am a LION!" This is definitely a fringe must-see, and they even have Tshirts with robots and lions on them, but they've sold all but the men's XL and XXL. What does that tell you about a show?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Shameless self-promotion

Though I will never call myself a professional spoken word poet, I do write spoken word poetry, and since I will never be famous for doing this, I should be forgiven for shamelessly promoting myself and those that support me.

This past Friday night, I went over to Co-op Radio, right in the centre of the Downtown East Side, so be a guest on the show Accordion Noir, which is entirely devoted to accordion music and miscellanea. After deciding not to lock up my bike at the bike rack on Columbia and Hastings next to a dessicated bike and a lock without its bike and bringing the steed inside with me, I sat in with Rowan and Bruce and read my poem about an accordion player who utterly seduced me, sandwiched between songs by that very accordion player. It was great fun, and do you have any idea how awesome the accordion can be? If not you should listen to the show. You can download the episode starring ME here: accordionnoir.org.

Oh--Friday's episode isn't up yet. I will keep you updated. But you should listen to the show anyway.

Miss Peters's Fringe Picks and Pans: Mating Rituals of the Urban Cougar

Andrea Thompson is a professional performance poet, and during her hour-long show, explained, among other things, how choosing this ludicrous career means you can do pretty much anything else and your family will forgive you since it can't be worse that professional performance poetry.

As I've mentioned, I'm not a huge fan of one-person shows. I like plays to take me away with them, not necessarily to be spoken to. This one came at a bad time, too, filled as it was with meditations on getting older, choosing a career, and breaking bad love habits, things I have been thinking about a little bit too much lately as another birthday is on the horizon for me, which always sends me off the deep end of an existential crisis.

That being said, she was funny, and her poems were great. One, called the Gospel of Thomas, has a guy at a New Year's party catching her pretending to talk on her cellphone as the clock strikes twelve to avoid the humiliation of not being kissed at midnight. He then goes on to peg her as a poet, the type that probably falls in love with a volleyball. You know the drill: "Oh perfect orb of light, signifying action and team cooperation! What a beautiful sphere!" Poets are the worst at falling in love, because they so hate to see the world in its mundane ordinariness, and this makes for a frabjus first two weeks into a relationship, and a devastating middle and end. I have been known to be guilty of this in my misspent youth (so quickly fading) and have certainly fallen for a few of said poets, who found me to be the most wonderful volleyball at first and then kicked me over the fence when they found out I was merely human.

Blogs are great because you can do things like write theatre reviews and actually vent about your own feelings.

Anyway--Andrea's show is recommended if you like one-woman shows, performance poetry, and life meditation. If you prefer one-man shows with sports and mascots (shudder), check out Mr. Fox. (See below!)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Miss Peters's Fringe Picks and Pans: Mr. Fox

The beauty and the beast of the Fringe Festival is that you know almost nothing about a show before you go to see it, and it is usually either horrible or brilliant. I took just such a risk last night, the opening night of the Fringe, with Mr. Fox, a show by Fringe legend TJ Dawe, and Some Other Guy Craig Landucci.

Before I review the show, there are several things you should know about me as an audience member:

1. I don't much care for sports.
2. I don't much care for classic rock.
3. I really hate annoying radio djs.
4. I don't usually like one-man shows. You're stuck with the guy for an HOUR.
5. I have an irrational fear of mascots. A really big irrational fear.

This show was:
1. About sports.
2. Included copious amounts of classic rock.
3. Featured annoying (really, really annoying) radio DJs.
4. A one-man show.
5. About MASCOTS.

I hated it. I was convinced the one man was going to put on the mascot costume he was going on and on about in between annoying radio DJ impersonations, and was so nervous about that I actually ensured there were enough chairs and tables around me that if he did, he couldn't touch me. The show's one saving grace? He never put the costume on.

Caveat: if you like the aforementioned five things, you'll probably love this show. Then again, you probably also love beatboxing and killing kittens.

Monday, September 01, 2008

dirty girls!

Right....the mud wrestling!

Thanks to my obliging commenters, who gave sound advice and reminded me about one of the most interesting nights I have been out to in a long time. Mudwrestling! Thanks Sean.

As a sidenote, thanks to the advice of said commenters, I will now need some company to "scout" new jobs, especially at the Railway Club, where they apparently have this thing called Cafe Scientifique on the third Tuesday of every month with various guest lecturers and academics and discussion. I need more quantum physics in my life. Who's up for some "research"?

Back to the mudwresting. On Friday night at the Wise Hall, we showed up to a sadly only half-empty club and an excellent DJ whose name I never found out. The cabaret opened with Jillian Deri (i think that was her name?) doing this thing called "curtains" where she climbed up and down and swung and twisted on these long red curtains hanging from the ceiling. It was incredibly hot, and I REALLY want to learn how to do that. She was followed by a string of burlesque performers, including Malaika Millions, who was surprisingly embarrassed when her cross-adorned pasty fell off to reveal her naked nipple! Later came Jenny Magenta, who pulled off her long gloves with a splash of glitter, at which Alla turned to me and said, "I wish all my clothes would do that when I took them off!"

All these wonderfully different shaped-and sized- hot mamas were incredibly inspiring. Especially sexy--it was almost impossible to get my jaw off the floor--was Diana something, who did a mix of Michael Jackson tunes and some amazing dancing. I thought immediately, Ok, where do I sign up? I want to be a burlesque dancer. Cristina, ditch advertising school and move here so we can start a burleqsue troupe together!

Anyway, topping off the already awesome night was some serious mudwrestling. The girls jumped right in, finally making way for the Slam's own RC Weslowski, who lost his pants in the mud pit (and didn't seem to mind), and S.R. Duncan, who I'd never met before but was pretty hilarious writhing around in a pit. That's about all the words I have left to describe this event, so I'll leave you with the videos.


video video

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Tea guy?

I am currently sitting in the Bump and Grind Cafe on Commercial Drive (near Venables) and I have been given a huge french press pitcher of Irish Breakfast Tea by the in-house "tea guy" or tea sommelier. Said jug of tea comes on a silver tray with a creamer, a small mug, and a TIMER so I know how long to steep my tea. That's right, a timer. For $2.75. And there's free wireless. Ok, I have 12 seconds left. I have to try this tea.

Wow. It's....perfectly steeped.

discouraged in vancouver

Though Vancouver has, for the most part, been good to me, my great plan of getting easy money bartending may have been entirely foolhardy. I can't seem to get a proper job in this city, in part due to the appalling lack of actual bars in this place. Sure, there are restaruants, and even cafes that have booze, but there are no actual, unpretentious, non-restaurant bars in the place. I find myself nostalgically pining for the good old days at Sharx, the incredibly sleazy pool hall where I could make $200 cocktail waitressing in one night. And I was damn good at that.

Here, I have three bar jobs: The wine bar, which is so unbearable that something like five servers have walked out, and I tried to quit last week but ended up staying because I have nothing else to fall back on! The army base, which is amazing, but not always open so I haven't been there in over a month, and finally, and most depressingly, catering, which is usually awesome and good money, but tonight was incredibly intense non-stop hard work very similar, i think, to working in a nightclub, which would have been awesome if we were getting tipped. Of the hundreds of drinks I served tonight, I made 15$, which was not enough to get me home in a cab. It cost me (not counting paycheque of course) $5 to do all this hard work. Brutal.

Hey guys, if anyone's actually reading this, let me know. I started updating again, but then I get lonely when no one ever comments and I feel like I'm venting into the void. Which means it could get weirder and weirder with no one to stop me. Oh god.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oh, the rain...

Well, it's August 27th, and it's already fall. We've had a couple of cool days here, and the leaves are falling off the trees giving off that very distinct fall smell. It's nice, actually, but it makes me want to stay home under a blanket cuddling and reading books rather than going outside to bike in the rain. I've been doing it anyway, of course, and last night found myself at a little spot called the Cottage Bistro on Main Street. Let me tell ya, this place looked nothing like a cottage. It was a bit cold inside, and held a grand total of about 10 poets, all of whom frequent the poetry slam, there to watch and participate in The Poetry Show, which apparently happens once a month, and might as well be in someone's living room because everyone there was already friends!

Well, Alla and I took a seat and I ordered a whiskey, asking the bartender to surprise me. He made a perfect choice, and I have no idea what the whiskey was. By the time we switched to red wine, we were feeling much cozier, and sitting at another table, where all the friends managed to pull chairs together.

Considering the weather, I was ready to be entertained, not to participate in any way shape or form. I was not expecting poetry tag.

This is a game in which one person reads/speaks and then literally tags the next person. I told Chris, AKA Faust MacKenzie, that the last thing I wanted to do was play poetry tag, so of course he tagged me first. I begrudgingly went up and managed to speak one of the two poems I've only just memorized (by chance, I had no papers with me) and it went just fine! Being the attention whore and wine lover that I am, I was certainly ready for my second round.

In some ways, the intimacy of the night really made it. It was nice to be there with a bunch of poets, all incredibly supportive, listening to each other practice, play, whatever. And there was some beautiful stuff happening here, namely a certain poem by one Sean McGarragle. Other favourites were the aforementioned Faust, and, for novelty, the completely incomprehensible, sopping wet Kir.

I'll be back on the next rainy Tuesday for poetry tag, and come next time somewhat more prepared.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

losing weight?

Well, it's a lovely rainy day in Vancouver, and I'm getting a couple of things off my back.

1. I quit today. I explained to my boss that the manager can't handle his shit as a manager (though he is a great cook, I'll give him that!) and told her I would stay for another two weeks. She wants me to change my mind. We shall see. I feel lighter already.

2. I finally submitted my e-thesis, which is the penultimate step to actually having a master's degree (i think) and so McGill can shove it in just about a month and a half.

3. I have also shaved a hefty amount of dollars off my back over the past week, and quitting may have been highly unwise. I revel in highly unwise, and will throw caution to the wind as i start looking for a new job. Ohgod.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

photos are a good substitute for feelings!






So I've been trying to think of something interesting to blog about this week, but rather than having amazing adventures, I've been having lots of feelings. And no one likes to hear about feelings. The primary one, for those interested, has been confusabobulation. Not to be mistaken for whimsibotitudipline.

Luckily, last night at ukelele night, I bumped into Ivy, the older Chinese woman who thinks I'm beautiful and recently took a whole whackload of pictures of me in order to turn into impressionistic paintings. It was funny, she actually appeared when Eric went to the bathroom and just starting shooting more photos of me before giving me her cd from last time. She paid me for this modeling session with a giant jug of cashews and a bouquet of flowers. I sometimes worry she will try to kidnap me and cryogenically freeze me, so I haven't yet gone to do a second session with her yet. I do like cashews, though. Anyway, here are some of the pictures:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Naked!!

So. What to write about this morning. What's new in my fascinating life...

Ok, how about trying my hand at life modeling? Tuesday morning I went into a gaming company called Next Level Games to stand around naked while people drew me for two hours. It was surprisingly fun, and $25/hr ain't bad. The guys (all guys of course) were very cool and professional, and I never felt the least bit weird or objectified. Though I was, of course, literally being objectified.

Staring into space was kind of nice, actually, and way easier than I had expected. The one-minute postures were particularly fun. I just pretended I was some sort of elf or something hunting in the woods and posed accordingly. It was like a one-woman improv game that no one was laughing at. During the 10-20 minute poses I was composing my next masterpiece.

The guy I had been corresponding with about this job is called Nigel. Nigel Quarless. What kind of face appears when you think of a guy called Nigel Quarless? A skinny, wrinkly, bespectacled gaming nerd for sure. Well no. Nigel Quarless was a tall, half black, extremely attractive and very cool man. After the session was over, he told me ou'd never be able to tell it was my first time and that I did great. Look--another thing I'm good at: standing around naked! Who would have guessed.

This has got to be the best company in the world to work for: you get to game all day, there's free coffee and a wii in the break room, and you get to draw naked ladies every other Tuesday. How awesome must that be for Vancouver's nerds? Another reason to move out here, gentlemen. And nerdy lesbians, I suppose.

So yes, I certainly hope to pose for Next Level again! Perhaps this is the beginning of an illustrious career.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I <3 Commercial Drive

So I just got an email from a friend who is coming into town. He asked me the following thing:

hey lady
i'm coming in to vancouver tomorrow night and will have all day friday to explore the city. i was wondering if you could suggest a few places for me to go wander.

ideally i would like my day to consist of:

good coffee

a place where i can go and read a book/the paper with my coffee all the while people watching.

shopping. vintage, boutiques, good used book stores,music stores etc.

cheap/amazing sushi

a nice patio

a nice view of the rockies

any suggestions??

My response:

Jason,
So many suggestions. All on Commercial drive. I am working from 11-4, but anytime around that I can definitely help you out. If you want to have an early breakfast beforehand, we could do that too.

Good coffee: Turks coffee house has the best vibe on the drive, plus wireless and a sweet patio. Bump and Grind has better coffee and comfier couches, but isn't great for people watching. It's good if you want quiet (it's close to Venables).

Shopping: Retro rock is pretty good on Commercial. Mintage has vintage clothes by the pound. There are a ton of places on the Drive to check out. Audiopile is good for music (i hear--haha) and Bookophile I think it's called is good for used books.

Cheap/amazing sushi is definitely Brittania on Parker and Commercial. for 5.50 and surly service, you get a yam tempura roll, tuna roll, california roll and miso soup. I spend all my money there. Which means I'm full all the time.

Another nice patio for people watching is Havana's. It's right on the middle of the drive, and they have good food and booze, so it's good to hang out there. Fets, beside it, is also good for people watching.

As for a view of the rockies, well, maybe not so much on commercial, but why would you ever leave that neighborhood?

If you want some company, I'll be working at a wine bar (with no store sign) at the corner of Graveley and commercial. It's kind of lame and expensive, but hey, I'm there. I'll be done at 4, maybe a bit later if i'm lucky enough to have some tables.

Friday night there's a burlesque show I was planning on attending, and I'm sure some more fun festivities we'll have to clear with Zack on Saturday. Sunday is trivia night at my favourite dive bar.

Enough infomration for ya?? If you want to go wandering somewhere else, there's always kits beach, good for ogling, jericho beach, good for walking, main and hastings, good for crack dealing, gastown, good for...um, spending money, and stanley park if you want to be a real tourist about it.

Yup, I love my neighborhood.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

I got slammed

Ah, the Vancouver poetry slam. Such an excellent institution of Commercial Drive. I have been going almost every Monday for the past couple of months, and the first time I slammed, I won! The past couple of times i competed, I got fourth place, which was pretty awesome considering who I was up against. These people are amazing--funny, unpretentious, never what you would expect.

As a result, of course, I started getting an ego on me. I invited just about everyone I know last night, including my parents and my new roommate expecting to at least make it to the second round. I opened with a known winner--the poem I won with the first time. It did not do so well! I didn't make it to the second round. Luckily my parents love me anyway.

This is what happens when you start getting such a big head you invite your parents to things. What was I thinking?

For your perusal, here is the poem from last night:

On Musicians and their Mystery

Tonight you played, you played me
on your accordion.
You played me so good that according
to the flush I flushed pink I got embarrassed.
I don’t remember what you were singing but it shamed me
It really shamed me, you know, to my toes.

Your voice and your accordion
crashed through iron tonight, through my walls I built of iron
strong stuff, but you could tell me stories
about myself that even I wasn’t sure were true.

Just me and a plastic auditorium seat,
Jaw bones and rib cage threatening out
You made me feel things, I was feeling all these feelings,
but suddenly, so suddenly—
it wasn’t just me and a plastic auditorium seat
but a whole lot of strangers seeing me feeling me feeling
and I felt so suddenly so
goddamn
visible.
Divisible.
Devisably visibly uninvisible.

For the first time tonight I saw you,
for the first time I felt the raw power of your—
accordion.
Really, and what an instrument to shame me with.
You know things about telling stories that I,
with my total deafness of tone
and complete discord with accordions
can only tell about telling.

You were so loud up there though,
just filling the whole room with my
deepest, darkest secrets that I had secreted away
from you musicians and your magic tricks
even though you never knew me, will never know me,
your listener.
Your audience.
your disgraced, humiliated,
eternally devoted
one-night-only
forever and ever
listener.

I wanted to tell you—I planned immediately—
I imagined myself saying—
“Thank you. You shamed me. Take me home with you.
Fill all my rooms with your song and we
will try to understand everything together.”

But I left with the crowd,
too embarrassed to look for you
aware of what a weakness it was to be touched.

I have none of your talent
none of the access you seem to have to me.
I’ll never understand it,
not being a musician myself.

I’ll find a way to let you know, though.
I’ll use the word “transcendental.”
Maybe I’ll pour you a coffee,
or write you a poem,
and it will be so good it shames you to your toes,
and you will never forget that poem or cup of coffee,
not having poured it yourself.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rough Night

I haven't been sleeping well lately. I often don't, and a lot has been on my mind with my two jobs, starting up with the radio, possibly teaching a bellydancing class, friends from out of town, and of course, Kareoke night, Trivia night, and Poetry slams. Anyway.

In between my shift at Divino and my shift at the Army base, I stopped into Shopper's drug mart to get myself some vitamins, including some melatonin, and to indulge my vanity a little. Maybe I've been reading too many magazines at the gym lately, but I've gotten it into my head that I need to get myself some anti aging cream. You know, I'm almost 25! That's nearly over the hill. And of course it would be all natural antioxidant aging cream, probably made my Burts Bees or Jason. Even as I picked up the tiny $30 bottle of cream I thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm falling for this." Gotta love retail therapy.

I finished my shift at the [secret bar i'm not allowed to mention] at about midnight, very excited to go to bed and get a good night's sleep at my parent's place, where it is quiet and comfortable. I thought this would kick the cough I've been sporting and generally brighten up my dull, lacklustre skin. Right. So I get into bed, pop a melatonin, and slather on some $30 eye cream that smells like delicious flowers. I start to wind down and relax when I hear the oh-too-familiar sound of mosquitoes hunting me: eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee right beside my ear.

Ugh, I think. Bite me all you want, just please don't make that noise. ... eeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I smack my own face a few times. Silence. ...eeeeeeeeeeee. I get up and turn on the light. I wait. There it is. Smack. Got him. Lights out, back to sleep. Start to relax, wind down, when of course, I hear right in my ear: eeeeeeeeeeee. I cover my head with as many blankets as I can. Ouch. It bit my eye. I turn on the light again, smack another one dead. Back to bed. Start to relax. eeeeeeeeeeeeee ouch! Bit my same eye again! I get up, go find myself some off skintastic in the kitchen and slather it all over myself. Same thing again, and yet ANOTHER bit on the same eye. It's 230 in the morning, and my eye is puffed up like a scary monster. I start to cry. Then I grab my pillow and blanket and go sleep on the couch downstairs.

This morning, I smell like off skintastic, I have one giant puffed up eye, and my skin is certainly still looking lacklustre. Serves me right for being vain.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I'm getting old.

It's official: I am no longer as young as I once was. I think, at least in the context of this story, that's probably a good thing:

A couple of nights ago, Alla and I went over to the Legion, a veteran's club that has karaeoke and VERY cheap drinks on Wednesday nights (3.25 for beer and highballs! Unheard of in Vancouver). The last time we went, we had a hilarious time meeting all the regulars who came up to say hi to us. One such regular, who claimed his name was "Roo", made an epic entrance on his motorized wheelchair, crashing so hard into the place that he burst a broom closet door open. The woman checking id's claimed that, like most Asians, he was a terrible driver. So you get a sense of the kind of place we were at.

A bit later on in the night, Roo appeared to be trying to get by our seats. We shuffled our chairs in to make room for him, but he just wheeled right up to our faces. "Hello."

"Hello!" we said, already giggling. "Are you single?" he asked. I told him no, that I was a big lesbian with a blonde girlfriend named Sarah.
He said, "I'm a drag queen you know."
"Cool!" I said. "That's nice."
"I won first place in the beauty contest."
We chatted about this for a bit, and he kept pushing me on the single/lesbian issue. He finally figured out that his penis was not something I was interested in. Having established this, he turned to Alla and poked her on the arm. "Are you single?" It was almost impossible to stop laughing. He went on to ask for our email addresses because he likes "to keep track of the women I hit on."

We finally got rid of him, and later in the night saw him hitting on one such woman, and standing up in his wheelchair! He didn't even need it, he was just using it to hit on women! Hilarious.

Anyway, that was last time. This time was similarly hilarious, but in a very different way. Alla, a few of her friends and I were sitting around, having a civilized drink, watching the ridiculous renditions of classic karaoke hits being butchered. Then we noticed two girls on the dance floor, both wearing denim short shorts and shirts that exposed their midriffs. One, actually, was wearing three shirts of different lengths, not one of which was long enough to cover her dangly belly button ring. We immediately determined them to be underagers, drinking at the Legion because who would check? THey proceeded to dance around awkwardly, sure they were the hottest little things in that place with their bellies and bums out. FInally, the moment came: the teen twins stepped up to the stage to sing their song. "Thish shong is dedicated to Shtuart," the twins slurred. "He's my best friend. He hash long hair, but he's not a girl, he just looksh like one." They then began to sing in a manner that was so drunken it was totally incomprehensible. We were laughing hysterically already, but it only got better: after humping each other for a bit trying to sing, they finally ended, and one of the two fell off the stage. The poor muffin face planted and then pranced away, not to be seen again.

The ridiculousness was certainly entertaining, but I came to a conclusion with was half relieving and half depressing: for the first time in my life, I was a spectator to that kind of antic, not a participant. I'm not sure I've ever faceplanted off a kareoke stage, but i've certainly made an ass of myself dancing with adandon in inappropriate outfits in my younger days. Suddenly I'm on the other side of it. At the very least, I do not envy Stuart, the best friend with the long hair who is certainly not getting laid, and will certainly have puke on his carpet in the morning.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Trouble in the urban zoo

Lately, I've been having some issues with the critters in these parts. Maybe they are trying to drive me out of the city, maybe they liked my shiny scarf, or maybe (according to one source) they are secretly my spirit guides trying to give me a message. Right.

First issue: crows. They have been SWOOPING at my head over the past couple of weeks. Apparently they are nervous because their little crow babies are vulnerable in their nests, so obviously a tall brunette with a houndstooth jacket would be a threat to said babies. THe first time, I was walking alone my street over to Commercial, and they starting cawing and coming at me. Twice they hit my head, lifting my hair in their claws, and I started jogging, then running, while they chased me down the street! I passed by a group of neighbors hanging out on their lawn looking at me like I was crazy, and all I could think to do was yell, "Crows attack!!!" Humiliating. Crows 1, Julie 0.

The next week, I was walking down busy Commercial drive, with plenty of other people around, and they start swooping at my head again. This time I can feel claws in my scalp. I turn to the guy beside me, walking calmly along, and say, "Did you see that? Why are they attacking me? Why don't they attack you?" He didn't know. I've been avoiding tall trees and metallic things since, and the cawing sound they make startles me every time. I think the babies are bigger now, though, so THEY can attack me this time next year.

Second critter conundrum: mice. We have a shitload of mice in our house. There was mouse poo carpeting the bottom cupboards, and there is a huge amount of it in the front room carpet. It grossed me right out when I realized what that was. I have not been able to spend 5 quiet minutes alone in my house without seeing a mouse darting underfoot, along the wall, or popping out from inside the . The drapes. THat's a lot of poo I have to clean up.

The other day, I was trying to relax and read in the house, and the mice just would not give me a break. Thoroughly unnerved, I went out to get some poison or something before my roommate Elliott's contemporary classical music show (he plays the viola). The combination of the mice with the crows left me jumpy and shit and on the verge of a panic attack, so I thought some classical music would be the ideal place to forget it. Not to be. Elliott had composed a piece called Creep/Melt, which was actually pretty cool, but incorporated the sounds of things scratching and creeping like, you guessed it, MICE IN THE DRAPES. This did nothing to assuage my slow burning panic attack. I wonder where he got the idea. Next up: an improvisational piece that involved a strobe light, screeching music, and disturbing images. The world was certainly against me that day.

I got these ultrasonic high frequency sound emitters that make the little bastards uncomfortable but don't hurt or kill them. I hope it works, because the last thing I want to deal with is dead mouse bodies all over the house. Wish me luck, or if you can see a psychic message in there, let me know and maybe this urban zoo will give me a break.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Buttery spread?

So I come home from a night at the bar--an amazing night at the Legion, actually, a cub for veterans that holds karaeoke on Wednesday nights, and more on that later--and I get home, just after midnight, worrying that it's so late my roomates will be mad if my stumbling in the kitchen wakes them up. To temper the $3.25 vodka cokes I've been drinking all night, I put some of my rice flour bread in the toaster and search for some butter. Butter. Anyone? Butter? You know, that delicious, slightly salty dairy product that is sometimes spread on toast? After searching t no avail and being thisclose to resorting to all-natural peanut butter, I finally find it: all-natural, vegan,buttery spread. Truly, I am in Vancouver.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Vancouver's weird.

Alright. I've been in Vancouver for about 2 weeks now, and I've come to a conclusion: Vancouver is weird.

People have this strange tendency to rave about it when they are not there and complain about it while they are. Everyone I spoke to who was from the West in Montreal or Toronto would get this misty look in their eyes when I told them I was moving out here, and they'd muse wistfully, "Oh, i miss the beach/tree/sea/climate/people/good restaurants etc." Talk to them here, and they say that it's hard to make friends here, that the nightlife is bad, the transit is terrible, etc. etc. My suspicion is that there are good things here and bad things. So far I like it.

One thing about Van that I've found particularly bizarre is the way the place seems to be separated out into these very different little pockets. Supposedly this is a small city, but I just took the bus from my new neighborhood to my parents' place, and it took me 1 1/4 hours. Nowhere in Montreal or Toronto would take that long by transit if they are still in the city. People don't really walk around here, and it's true the transit's not great. Hence all the BIKES.

On my trip over here to Kitsilano, aka dog- and baby-town from East Van, aka druggie- and hipster-town, I took the Hastings bus through the infamous intersection, Main and Hastings, which has the highest concentration of intravenous drug users in North America (take that, USA!). Many parts of Vancouver are full of beautiful gardens, high schools, organic food shops, and celebrity-chef owned restaurants. This strip looked a lot more like Mexico. Boarded up buildings, pubs, secondhand stores, women's drop in centres, urban native youth centres, unemployments centres and a whole lot of sad looking people. There's something wrong with the infrastructure here that this whole area is just around the corner from everything else, including, for example, that place I went to recently that was frequented by "shrivelled yacht jockeys and cougar-mistresses-in-waiting." Like I said. Weird.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A real update!

Alright blog. I'm back again. I'm an incredibly neglectful blogger (I blame facebook) but I figure, I'm new in a city now and lots of my friends are far away, and plus i'm bored, so why not start up again and make more promises I can't keep to this poor neglected blog that just WON'T break up with me.

Yes, so, new city. Here I am in Vancouver, currently sitting on my parent's couch, planning on hitting up some hatha yoga in about half an hour. I'm here until Sunday, when I move into my new place near Commercial Drive, the up-and-coming neighborhood full of hippies and lesbians that I've been dreaming of living in for a while. I've been checking it out a bit, and while people certainly go to bed a lot earlier here, so far it seems really cool. The poetry in this city seems a lot better for me at the very least: there's an awesome slam night every Monday at this place called Cafe Deux Soleils (but it's not in French, thank god). I'm hoping to hone my poetry skills and get myself onstage there again sometime soon. I have been writing more, actually. Poorly, but more.

Until I get out there, though, on Sunday, I'm not doing much of anything. I've been watching a lot of Battlestar Galactica and Gossip Girl online, and reading Ayn Rand's the Fountainhead, Dave Eggers's How We Are Hungry (brilliant book, by the way), the Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway (for my mom's book club--tonight!) the Golden Spruce by John Vaillant, various time magazines floating around my parents' place, and the free Vancouver weeklies to try to figure out what's going on.

Aside from all this nothing-doing, I've also had kind of a rocking social life. Surprise! There are so many more people out here that I'm friends with than I ever would have thought. I caught up with old friend Kia, a friend of my brother's Eric, Alla, who also just finished a Master's at McGill, and my old friend Allison who I met in California when I was 5. This girl has been taking me to some pretty crazy parties. The first was at a place called Cardero's, described in the WestEnder as being full of "shrivelled yacht jockeys and cougar mistresses-in-waiting" (SO true) and, most recently, this anniversary party at a club called Republic that was just full of hot women and ugly men. That was a wild Tuesday night. I'm still tired.

Well that's enough for now, and I'll keep you all updated on how my bartending lessons, starting Monday, pan out.

Love Julie

The Incidental Glutenarian: Quinoa Meal Salad

What an unoriginal name.

This is just about my favourite gluten-free lunch food. It's fast, easy, very healthy, and very delicious.

Put in 1/4 quinoa with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, and then lower to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the cute little curly quinoa tails come out to play.

meanwhile: search for salad veggies. Cut up:
tomato
avocado
cucumber
baby carrots
bell peppers
baby spinach
small cubes of the cheese of your choice

Throw all this in a bowl with the warm quinoa and add some salad nuts like sesame seeds, flaxeeds, or whatever you've got and stir up with a couple of tablespoons of hummus.

Sounds weird, I know, but trust me. It's freakin' delicious.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh, blog.

Why is it so hard to keep up with a blog? Maybe it's because I spend so much time working on my computer that I don't want to spend the time 'playing' on it. That's so false, I'm constantly wasting time on the internet. Who knows. In any case, that situation is about to change. My tired, overworked computer is going to get a little break, because my thesis, and thus master's program, is just about done, and soon I will be looking at real live books and maybe even people for the next little while.

It's April 28, 2008, and I am moving in about three weeks. I'm having a ball throwing out all the random crap I've collected over the years, and dropping a lot of my baggage. I'm selling all my furniture and as much other stuff as I can. Including my rollerblades. Big deal, I know, but I think it's time I upgraded to the more mature vehicle, the bicycle.

When I get to Vancouver, I plan on living the artist's life for a little while. Well, sort of. I'm going to waitress or something for the first couple of months while I get settled, get a regular volunteer job in the radio, find myself a dance class and troupe, and look into other ways to perform more--like maybe even some community theatre. I'll consider getting a 'real job' in the fall, depending on how I'm feeling and how much money I have. I will also then reconsider plans for a future PHD, if I'm ready to think about it, which I may not be. Anyway, onwards and upwards.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Barack's music video

I think this video really speaks to Barack's charisma, and the buzzword of the US campaign right now: "change." This election is giving Americans, and many other people in many other nations, a hope they have not allowed themselves to feel in a long time. It is meaningful, and it's hard not to be a bit inspired by it. The millenium has come, and we survived, so we'd better do our best to make it better.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjXyqcx-mYY

Just as a caveat: I still don't know if I prefer Barack over Hilary, but I think they'd both give the good thing: real, solid, steaming, fleshy change. At least I really really hope so, and for now, hope is enough.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Incidental Glutenarian: Bad Thai



This is one of my classics. It's easy, delicious, a crowd-pleaser, and you can improvise quite a bit until you find the version you like best. It can be vegan if you omit the Cock Sauce (which, come on, who wants to do that?). You can also add in chunks of meat if you want to up the carnivorous quotient. It's not like the pad thai you find at restaurants, but it's a good deal healthier and you can vary the ratio of noodles to vegetables.

Ingredients:
Thick Thai rice noodles
sesame oil
olive oil
garlic
onion
fresh ginger
firm tofu
bell pepper
broccoli (or whatever other veggies you have lying around)
green onions
cilantro
an egg

chopped, toasted peanuts or crunchy peanut butter
3-4 tbsp ketchup/tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
tbsp Cock Sauce aka Fish Sauce
sambal oelek/chili garlic sauce/chili peppers
fresh lime to squeeze on top

Directions:
Soak the noodles until they are al dente. It's important they be not too done, because they'll cook more with the rest of the ingredients and you don't want them to get too soggy. Watch this, because it only takes about 10 minutes for them to loosen up.

Chop onion and garlic, and grate or chop fresh ginger. Heat sesame oil with olive oil--about 1-2 tbsp--and throw in chopped veggies. Saute for a couple of minutes until onions get translucent.

Cut tofu into cubes. Salt it a bit and throw it in the wok/large pan. (I'm actually crap with woks, so I just use a large pan). Let these cook together for a bit so the tofu absorbs the flavour.

Stir together cider vinegar, peanut butter, tomato sauce/ketchup, sambal oelek, Cock sauce, and some of the cilantro. Pour some of this on the tofu mixture so it gets all tasty. Save most of it though.

Cut bell peppers and other veggies into strips or cubes, depending on your preference, and add them in. Add more of the sauce mixture. When veggies are cooked almost to your liking, add the noodles and the rest of the sauce. Mix them together quickly so the noodles don't get soggy.

If you are using an egg, scramble it with a fork. Push aside the noodles and veggies, and scramble cook it in the pan. When it's solid, mix it in with the rest of the food. If you are making a lot, 2 eggs might work better.

Put in on plates and, on the table, have cute little dishes with chopped fresh cilantro, fresh limes, and toasted chopped peanuts. Voila! Bad Thai that tastes great.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ice Queen AKA Frigid Bitch

Montreal and I have been together for a long time. 6 years ago, when we first came together, I was feeling all the blush of first love. She was all I could talk about, and I hated to leave her, even for a weekend trip to Toronto or Ottawa to see friends.

Now, 6 years later, all those little things about her that I used to find cute are starting to drive me crazy. The constant construction. The knee-deep snow. The summer nights so humid you can't sleep. The constant drinking and smoking. The maddening insistence of Montrealers to look good even when it's -25 and snowing. She's so hot and cold, I just can't take it anymore. Talk about a brooding poet: she's beautiful but hopeless.

We've come to the end of the road. I'm leaving Montreal for Vancouver, a warmer, more welcoming, less schizophrenic place. I can understand why people settled in Vancouver. Montreal must have had some kinda voodoo to make people think they could actually survive here. Walking to school is fraught with dangers: slipping on ice, drowning in a snow drift, inciting murderous rage on slow walkers you can't overtake in the snow...

The problem is, I think Montreal can tell we're about to break up, that I'm leaving her for another city. Suddenly, she is venting her jealous rage on me by pouring out snowstorms and remaining frigid until well into the summer.

All this is to say, I'm sorry, citizens of montreal, this hellish weather must be all my fault.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Th Incidental Glutenarian: Omelette



Mmmmm ommmletttess...one of the best I've made yet!

Step 1: Cook up
1 clove garlic
red bell pepper
green beans
mushrooms
kale
grape tomatoes
pinch of basil
salt and pepper

with a bit of olive oil. Make sure they are nice and cooked.

In the meantime, stir up
2 eggs
a spash of milk/cream
1 tbsp or so of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the eggs on medium in a large, flat, nonstick pan. Lift up the edges after the eggs solidify for a while and let liquid slide underneath the cooked eggs. When the eggs are almost cooked, put the veggies onto one side. Cover with some grated cheddar cheese. Fold eggs over top.

Let this chill for a bit on med-low, and Voila! Delicious omelette. Have it with wine, as always.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Incidental Glutenarian: Part 2 in a Series

This meal has two parts. There is a gluten-free alternative in one of them, but gluten-free soy sauce/tamari is easy to get and actually MORE delicious than regular soy sauce (at least in my opinion).

Roasted Veggies and Delicious Tomatoed Chicken

Chicken:

1.5 kg chicken pieces (I used two breasts, which was more like 1.2 kg)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves (or more if you're like me and like it stinky)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tsps dry mustard
2 tsps curry poweder
4 tsps vinegar
2 tsps GF soy sauce
olive oil

I know the ingredients don't sound like they go together. Trust me.

Directions:
Cook chicken pieces in some oil. Set aside. Cook onions and garlic in a bit more oil, and add in the rest of the stuff. Give it a minute or two and throw in the chicken. Let it simmer for, let's say, 10 minutes, until it thickens up or you get hungry enough to eat it.

This chicken would go well on rice, but we had it with

Roasted Veggies

Ingredients
Your choice among:
sweet potatoes
red/new potatoes
portobello mushrooms
green beans
cherry tomatoes
bell peppers

olive oil
fresh tarragon
salt and pepper

Cut up veggies small enough that they'll cook at the same rate. Potatoes should be especially thin. Douse with a bit of oil and seasonings, and cook at 350 degrees for a while...maybe 1/2 hour? You want them nice and cooked.

Go for it! I'm eating leftovers right now.

I'm going to start takign pictures so you can get a sense of the yumminess with visuals.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Incidental Glutenarian (Part 1 in a Series)

I am gluten-intolerant, as are many people in the world, and it's not nearly as hard to cut out wheat, rye, barley and triticale (whatever that is) as most people think. Yes, eating out can be hard because gluten is a sneaky little sucker, but cooking at home is easy, and you don't need to go out and buy all kinds of crap like xanthan gum (whatever that is) to cook gluten-free.

By the way, even if you are not intolerant, it tends to be a healthier diet that's easier on the ol' g-i system if you want to give it a go. A hint: corn, rice, and potatoes are all gluten friendly. Or rather, gluten-unfriendly. Gluten free. You know what I mean.

For these reasons, I've decided to post recipes of the easy and delicious stuff I sometimes make that doesn't require gluten or xanthan gum.

First recipe: Tofu and Quinoa Mash

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa (red or white)
1 pkg firm tofu
1-2 cloves garlic
1 small red or white onion
1/2 large green pepper
1/2 large red pepper
1/2 pkg spinach
salt
turmeric
cayenne
butter
salsa
sour cream
cheddar cheese

Directions:
Put quinoa on: 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 mins depending on the kind you got (red quinoa takes longer and is damn pretty)

Chop tofu into cubes. Salt the crap out of them (well, maybe 1/2-1 teaspoon) and add a pinch of turmeric and cayenne. Throw a pat of butter in a saucepan, and when it melts, throw in the tofu. Here's the tricky part: periodically press the water out of the tofu with your spatula, and let one side get nice and crispy before you turn the tofu over and do it again. This makes for an interesting and delicious texture (an example of tofu made right!)

Chop garlic and other veggies. Throw them into a buttered or oiled saucepan, leaving quick-cooking spinach for last.

When all has cooked properly (veggies should be crunchy), put some quinoa in a bowl, layer the tofu on and then the veggies. Cover with a couple of teaspoons of salsa and a nice dollop of sour cream on top. Sprinkle grated cheese around the dollop for a very pretty and elaborate looking but extremely simple meal.

Leave the salsa, sour cream, and cheese on the table so you and/or your guests can add to taste at will. Serves about four.

Seduction on the West Coast

I am coming to the end now of a very fast and very wonderful week in British Columbia, surely now my future home.

The first couple of days we were here, my brother, his girlfriend Elspeth and I drove/ferried out to Vancouver Island to spend a couple of days in Tofino, BC's paradise of beaches, rainforests, and giant cedars. We stayed at this great little guest house called the Lost Sailor: they had a kitchen, TV, a bunch of movies (including Aladdin), a bunch of games (including Scrabble!), a hot tub and a pool table. My mom graciously packed us two bottles of her wine, which was great with dinner, and the next night out in the hot tub.

We got an incredibly rare day of sunshine for walking in the woods, and we did something like seven walks under my brother's iron fist. As soon as I get back to Montreal and my camera cable, I'll upload some pictures of the Bog walk, the rainforest walk, and Amphitrite Point, where my grandfather served as a lookout in the war. Family lore has it there's a memorial there which is a statue of Grampa with a machine gun and a rifle with a pile of Japanese bodies at his feet. We couldn't find that particular statue, but the walk was lovely.

May I also point out that I DROVE the entire way there and back? I only took a break after dinner the second night at the lovely and expensive Raincoast Cafe, after a couple of glasses of wine, when my teetotaller brother took over for me. Sure, I got stuck in an intersection and stalled at a left turn in Vancouver, but nobody's perfect. I'm getting better at this I swear. You should have seen me on those winding roads on the coast. Elspeth didn't even get sick this time!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mark Berube

Mark Berube is a singer/songwriter that I will be interviewing this week on the radio show. I saw him recently at a poetry event and was totally blown away--I ended up writing him a poem which, in a moment of ballsiness, I sent to him. Rather than thinking I was crazy, he agreed to do an interview with me.

All that is to say that I'm doing some research on him before the interview, and came across this poem on his website:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Standing on the edge
of something unspoken
in San Vincente Square

the words don't come easy
when your heart's been cracked open
at that critical moment
where the past means nothing
and all the words you've prepared
are the one's you've forgotten
so all you remember is
that you are....
in San Vincente Square

She pulls our your fears
and gives them each names
that really mean nothing at all

she seals them in an envelope
mails it to your childhood
where they meet their creator
and become guards that stand
at the gate to your happiness
where they strip search the shadows
you've been running from on
your way down...
to San Vincente Square

She takes your hand
and you walk to the harbour
close to San Vincente Square

Where the men of the ocean
hold lovers and paychecks
so she gives you ten dollars
and asks you to burn it
but you tear it in two
and give half to the sailor
who doesn't like the reminder
and says
go back down...
to San Vincente Square

You sit and watch the sunset
from the docks
where the sailor waved his goodbye

As the sun cuts its head off
and it bleeds on the water
the heaven you believe in
seems to feel closer
so you swallow a prayer
your tongue can't hold on to
and spit out what's left
as you think about....
San Vincente Square

Now San Vincente
is just some square
you fell upon

it was that critical moment
where time was useless
like jealousy and doubt
and the tears in your eyes
felt like cannons in water
you sank to embrace
what your happiness left you
at your feet....
in San Vincente Square

Fribourg/Barcelona, June 2007


Canadians, I'm telling you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I feel like such a wizened old feminist...

This post is actually the reason I wanted to start writing again, but i thought of it a while ago, so ignore the temporal proximity of these updates.

I've been noticing something very peculiar in my conferences this week. We have been talking about the play A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill, which I find quite misogynistic, and there's a lot of sexual assault discourse in it that I find very problematic. Before the conferences, I thought my work was pretty much done for me because usually all you have to do in class to get discussion going is say the word "gender" or "feminist reading" and hands go shooting up into the air. Well, apparently I'm older than I thought, and I am missing a generational sea change in interest in feminist issues.

Back when I was a young one in first year (barely 6 years ago) it seemed all anyone wanted to talk about was feminism. Not having discussed it much in high school, I took every opportunity to write my papers about the "woman question" whenever there was one on the list of topics. After an illuminating conversation with my dad, I decided that choosing to focus my work on women's issues was a form of self-marginalization, and if I wanted to be successful as an equalist (as opposed to feminist?) I would focus my attention on anything BUT feminist issues. I thought this was revolutionary; turns out it's what everyone's been doing.

I brought up these issues of gender in conference, and no one wanted to say a word. They couldn't have cared less about the feminist reading of the play! In the final conference, I asked the small group what the hell was going on--"Don't you guys care about this stuff? Is feminism passe already?" Apparently they had all been over and over it in high school and found the whole thing boring. They are ready to talk about something else.

Excellent! Ecocriticism anyone? Shall we replace the woman as marginalized subject with non-human nature, an often ignored and misused subject position in literature?

No. They weren't ready to talk about that either.

I let them go home early.

I'm back!

Well, it's been a very very long time since I've updated my blog, but I figure, why not keep doing it anyway. When I'm spending all day writing and researching, I don't always feel like recording my thoughts. I feel like staring at the wall, which feels GREAT!

Of course, now it's reading week, which means I get a break from TAing and can focus on my thesis. Right. The mental switch has already started happening, and it's been all I can do today not to sit on the couch and watch movies until it's time for me to jet off to the West Coast.

That's right, I'm escaping this winter nightmareland for warm and rainy spring in Vancouver. I will also be spending a couple of days in Tofino, walking in the rainforest and chilling at a B&B to get some much needed rest and mental space from my life in Montreal.

In fact, I'm thinking increasingly that it's coming the time for me to move to Vancouver. I don't love my parents's neighborhood, Kitsilano, yuppie central (and SUV central) for Vancouver, but I think other neighborhoods will be full of the hippies and flowers that I so desperately need in my life. I have a fantasy about working at a hippie bar or cafe, doing yoga and writing all day, volunteering at a radio station, and chilling out a whole heck of a lot. Ah yes. I need a climate change, and not in the scary apocalyptic sense.