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November 10, 2008

R. and the dog and I spent the weekend at a tiny cottage in Ste Agathe.  The constant rained trapped us inside, and, having agreed to go sans laptops and without a cell connection, we played a lot of gin rummy and watched a lot of movies and ate a lot of food.  And lots of not wearing pants.  I’m unpacking now, and I’m tired – not from the weekend, but from being back and realizing that real life starts again pretty much now.  Between his work and his school, and my school and my work, “quality time” is hard to come by and even harder to let go.  What I can’t shake, though, is just how after all that quality time I still want more.  Right now.  For the resolutely independent person that has generally grown frustrated with (the interpersonal demands of) a significant other fairly quickly in the past, this is a new sensation.  It’s not even rattling me.

That’ll have to sit with me for awhile.  Other updates that will be elaborated upon soon: the new laptop (better WoW graphics, whee!  Still not good enough to play Spore, boo.  Ah, well, all good things in time).  I’m working my way into chapter four.  Only four classes left in my course, and my students are still most excellent.  Before I get around to all this, though, I’m going to fall asleep pretending it’s not yet Monday.

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Boys

September 20, 2008

So Chapter Three isn’t as done as I thought.  In keeping with the spirit of the chapter (on masculinities), some anecdotes:
-Multiple cars full of guys passed as I sat in the backseat of a cab heading home last night.  Most of them were eating – things they could hold in one hand and tear at with decisive, teeth-baring head-shakes.
-R. sometimes falls asleep with his head tucked into that intimate crook between my ear and my shoulder.  I love that.
-I overheard a guy telling his friend about the other night when his drunken girlfriend changed her mind partway through sex, and that he continued anyway because ‘no’ doesn’t count or matter when she’s drunk.  And that she cried after… “bitches, eh?”  I turned around and told him he was a rapist, and got a “Fuck you, you fat cow” in return.
-An ex-boyfriend once told me he could empathize with the ending of Nobody Waved Goodbye. Watching it again with my students last week, I can too.

Exhale.

August 1, 2008

Back from a few days of napping on the beach, a riotously drunken wedding, driving untold kilometres through dense torrential rain.  And back to where I was before, wrapped in R.’s long limbs and soft palms.  We talked about the future tonight – not the capital-F Future, but the one that hits in about a month, the shift from the giddy laziness of summer to the stringent schedules of school.  Fine-tuning my fall course syllabus the past few days, there’s apprehension about something being lost in the shuffle – delirious unproductivity and pant-lessness won’t be as rationalizable as the stack of obligations grows.  But just imagine the study dates: one hand turning the pages, the other’s fingers trailing absently along his lean calves; swapping snippets of his gleefully capitalist and congratulatory business manuals for my earnestly leftist social theory; rock-paper-scissoring to see whose turn it is to grab beers from the fridge.  I’m not even going to characterize this as idyllic.  Chalk it up to a few nights spent staring up at a big big sky; such cynicism feels groundless. There are still butterflies, satiated sighs that escape just because he’s there, caught-canary grins when he’s not and I’m thinking about him anyway. I don’t want to let go of the sheen that summer casts on romance, but this grin will outlast it. A novel sense of surety for someone who reads a lot of leftist social theory.

Week’s end

June 7, 2008

I have decided to grow my hair out again, partly as an aesthetic experiment, partly out of economic necessity – perhaps ‘decided’ isn’t the most accurate term. And as the humidex pushed the temperature close to 40° today I remembered the particular kind of pleasure in being able to pull my hair off my neck and pile it on the top of my head instead. While I’m never happy about this sort of oppressive heat, I’m at least thankful it waited until my parents’ visit was over. We walked around the city for three days, and I finally made it to the Botanical Garden (pictures forthcoming on flickr). They brought homemade, dog-safe cookies for Alice, and my gift is breathing beside me – a bottle of my favourite baco noir. So the string of summer visitors is officially underway, as another pair arrives in a week.
Rather surprisingly, I turned down a dinner invitation this evening, opting instead to unfold my largest lawn-chair (those metallic clacks bringing back dozens of similarly sticky summer nights at my brother’s softball games, my friends’ cottages, small-town Canada Day fireworks), and work on my dissertation, a chapter of which The Supervisor insists is due on Monday. Now, with only one meaty part unwritten, I’m mulling over the week’s events, and, admittedly, keeping an eye on my portly neighbours’ ardent window-front make-out session; others are drunkenly belting out “Paradise By The Dashboard Light.” Ambience.
My parents and I got along well. More than that, I genuinely enjoyed spending time with them. At times my relationship with my mother is rocky, and my father can get self-righteous and grandiloquent when he’s drinking (you can keep your quips about heredity to yourself). But the familiar – familial – tensions and triggers never appeared, and we went through a lot of wine. While the parent/child dynamic didn’t fully fade, this was one of a handful of instances in which I actually felt like an adult (mooching meals notwithstanding).
This is not the only relationship on my mind. People like to make lists of reasons why a romance has ended. With a mental catalogue of such lists – about me, as they have been recounted to me – I’m noticing themes. In the bold light of day I write them off as the result of consistently gravitating toward the wrong kind of guys. In the dark, when no one can see me being self-indulgent, I wonder if they sketch out an innate undateability. Neither easy explanation is the entire truth. It’s frustrating, though, to think that you carried through with lessons learned, to believe that you did better this time around, to feel that your performance showed improvement, just to get the same report card at the end. It’s like failing a test for which you had a cheat sheet. In there, somewhere, a variable is unaccounted for. I should start working in pencil.

Han Solo

January 29, 2008

Inspired by Vila’s ode, my own Han Solo story:

I was with a guy who held Han as an idol, barely a half-step behind Indiana Jones.
He called one (middle of the) night from the pay phone across the street, audibly a wreck. He’d just gotten off a bus from Toronto, responding to a call from an ER to come see his mother – she’d tried to commit suicide and left a note blaming him and his father. Such was their relationship: his emotional exhaustion with her harrowing melodrama. It was the start of spring – which was much more temperate there – and we sat on my porch until long after the sun came up. The conversation was fitful, especially for us; I didn’t know what to say, and he didn’t know where to start. Somewhere in there, he told me (for the first time) that he loved me. “I know,” I said, and he finally smiled. Months later, on one of the last nights before I moved to Montreal, I said (for the first time) “I love you.” “I know,” he replied.

And that is how it often was – adumbrated by words written elsewhere, ones which we rescripted. We aren’t in touch any more; that part will remain an untold story. I still love him (albeit in that abstract, burned-bridges way)… I sometimes wonder if he still knows.

What lingers

October 14, 2007

The feel of his hands on my skin, the whispered promises repeatedly fulfilled, the sight of his grin morphing into a moan, the heat of his breath coming harder and faster against the back of my neck. The sore satisfaction of every muscle, the condom wrappers in the tangle of discarded sheets, the comfort of fading in and out of sleep in his arms. The anticipation, the daydreaming. My smile.

Before

August 6, 2007

It would have been another anniversary. The residue is sloughing off. Sometimes I still catch myself in the vision of a future that’s no longer coming – my eyes linger on for-sale signs on tree-lined park-adjacent streets. Sometimes I still turn to what’s no longer there – with news of my grandfather’s rapidly failing health my fingers instinctively tried to dial the unforgotten number. It was a mess and I was in love and that didn’t feel like quite so much of a paradox at the time.
But hey, crisitunity. I’ve already re-vamped the future: a post-doc at USC, maybe even Goldsmiths (!). And, importantly, there is no shortage of other phone numbers: those who always stick around, who have cracked the requisite caustic jokes and have cried in sympathy and have paid the entire tab at the end of the night.
I’m off to meet such a handful shortly. Not because it’s the 6th (no, really, this rendezvous has been rescheduled three times), and not as that maudlin matter of life goes on. Life does that regardless, it’s just better now. It’s not as linear as it sounds, but when I stare at myself brushing my teeth at the end of the day I can tell that it’s true. And it’s such a relief. I prefer After.

Convivial hire

July 25, 2007

After yet another instance of GB* and I expressing the same snide thought at the same time with the same exasperated intonation, I remarked that we should push for what he cleverly called a ‘convivial hire.’ Tweaking the spirit of spousal hires, this would be a case of ‘take me, take my platonic partner.’ What a good idea – to have institutions recognize and acknowledge that that a marriage (or a common-law relationship) isn’t the sole source of vital intellectual and emotional support. Families are formed from connections beyond blood or binding legal agreements; we choose our friends as carefully (even more so, in some cases) as we do our romantic partners, and my core friendships are lasting longer than many marriages. In the wake of a professionalization workshop last year one of my professors asked what else should be included when they run the seminar again, and I suggested broadening the range of advice to address precisely this. “What,” I asked, “do you do if you don’t have a partner trailing after you?” I was told that things were much easier in that respect. Easier when negotiating a contract, yeah, but when allowances aren’t made for the other ties that bind everything else is harder. Restarting your life is tricky enough; when doing it alone, taking leave of the people with whom you have weathered everything that has gone before, it becomes even more difficult. Sure, GB and I could get married as convenient lark, but I’d step out on him eventually and adultery is so 2005.

*He needs a pseudonym and is not content with Gay Boyfriend. The initials stick until inspiration strikes.

Life as an explat*

June 6, 2007

I have wanted to live in St Henri since I moved to Montreal. I would glimpse it from the window of the train and think “There – I want to live there.” After a stint in the Plateau and then the Village, I’ve finally made my way here. I love it – the canal, the hushed nights, the fascinating collision of condos and history, the Atwater Market a quick stroll down the street. But I’m learning that being removed from ‘the action’ is a double-edged sword. Pop-bys have dropped off precipitously, which lets me live without fear of being found slovenly. I don’t mind the sense of distance, but on this (as with many other things) my wallet disagrees. There’s travel time and costs – no night buses venture into St Henri, so I either must become more adept at cycling drunk, or drink less and cab home, or not go out as often. And I’m finding that for my Plateau/Village/Mile End friends St Henri has the aura of the rabbit hole: with cheerful trepidation they approach it as somewhere bravely ventured, a bona-fide excursion. As one put it, “Well, at least it’s close to… whatever places it’s close to” (tautologies, boo).
Apropos of home(s) – I talked for hours with one of my old girlfriends the other day, and we made giddy plans for a friend’s upcoming wedding. She had a list of the things we should do when I was ‘home,’ i.e. back in St Catharines. It struck me after I hung up the phone how naturally I accepted that phrasing – I lived there for three years while I did my MA, and it was the closest any place in my student life has ever come to being home. Not the city per se (that honour goes to Montreal – I feel the city thrumming in my feet) but the people, the pace. There was a sense of camaraderie, of spending rather than passing time, and the pleasure of knowing that I could walk into any one of my (limited) haunts and find someone. Social life works differently here – as a matter of geography and demography it’s more diffuse. If home really is where the heart is, then I’d like to transplant many people to this city (they don’t have to live in St Henri) so I can stop feeling torn between these competing loves – the comfortable nice guy appeal of old dear supportive friends or the intoxicating bad boy charisma of Montreal’s passionate history, rollicking nightlife, energizing arts (we all know how that scenario ends… when have I ever picked the nice guy?).
*This being my latest neologism, meaning an expatriate from the Plateau.

The term of the ends.

May 24, 2007

Things keep ending. Or, rather, I keep ending things (to make it clear that I’m for once not talking about Veronica Mars). “Good reasons” rings hollow to me right now. Determining the difference between loss and turning points is a matter of time and perspective, but in both of the situations to which I’m alluding it feels like loss. I’d began an earlier version of this post with some ballyhoo about feminism, being a feminist, needing a “Living Feminism for Dummies” handbook, etcetera, by couching things in such terms I was distancing and hiding myself behind theory – pretending these to be merely theoretical conundrums rather than felt (and felt keenly, painfully, confusingly) experiences. If it’s theory, then there are rules and logic and principles, leading to inevitable and inarguably right answers. But when it’s felt, it’s not that simple – it’s a confluence of emotions that tug at me in different, equally powerful ways. What I want versus what I want; what I need versus what I need. No inevitable and inarguably right answers exist here, just a scale that’s constantly shifting. I am at the same time both convinced and profoundly unsure of these endings. And it hurts.