Monthly Archives: October 2009

In the Autumn Sunlight

A staircase in the dappled sunlight (near the laundromat)

A staircase in the dappled sunlight (near the laundromat)

Montreal has been sunny and just a tad chilly this weekend. I enjoyed sitting by the window at work and looking out on the red and yellow maple tree below; the sun amplifying its colours. It grows by the old church there, adding colour to the grey and black stone and concrete of the urban landscape.

My weekend was relatively busy. After work on Friday, I took the metro to Papineau to go to a movie night my friend DB was hosting in his house. It was in a part of the city I was unfamiliar with and I got rather lost, wandering the dark steets at night. I eventually found Rue Cartier which he lived on- but to my surprise, there was a big park in the middle of it, so I had to take a detour.

Once I finally got to the apartment, I couldn’t find a buzzer for Apartment 1, so phoned up Dunter who was there… and found out I was in the wrong building! I felt rather silly, but was glad once I was finally indoors. DB made me some spaghetti with a spicy meat sauce (so yummy!) and I sat down next to Dunter with everyone in the livingroom. DB was a very good host. He kept offering us cookies and coming over to refill everyone’s glass with water whenever it got empty. I like hanging out at his place!

The 1979 film Caligula was being projected on the wall- and my god, it was more shocking than A Clockwork Orange! I tried to distract myself away from the horrors being committed on screen by focusing on the cosmetics and the costume design used in the film. I think everyone was glad when the film ended. I was in a state of shock, and wondering how a film like that ever got the funding or distributed- especially back in the 70’s. (I did some research, and it turns out it was funded by the founder of Penthouse magazine… thus the reason behind the abundance of sex scenes in this historical drama).

My work day at telemarketing on Saturday was particularly unpleasant as people were particularly nasty to me on the phone. At one point I just wanted to get up and leave, but of course I couldn’t. My sanity was saved however, by the Stanza application on my iPhone. My friend Tristan had encouraged that I get it, and I’m so glad I did! I secretly sat in my seat reading the digital version of Alice in Wonderland on my cell phone, hiding it under my thigh whenever my supervisor was near.

I had never read Alice in Wonderland before. My Dad had begun to read it to me once as a child, but I didn’t like it at the time (perhaps it was too scary?). It is a pleasure to read now. I enjoyed the oddities of it and the descriptions used. Its quite a funny book and served as an excellent form of escapism in-between taking calls at work. I am saved!

After work, I went out for dinner with Dunter to celebrate him getting a teaching gig at Shibaricon. We went to Georgeo & Angelenia, a restaurant chain I’ve only seen in Montreal. I was a bit skeptical of the place at first, but their pasta was fantastic! I got fresh fettuccini in a white wine sauce, superbly flavoured with garlic and spice, with a variety of mushrooms, and spinach on top. Yum yum!

After dinner, we went to go see a movie at the theatre to kill time before the party. There wasn’t much to choose from, so we decided to go see The Stepfather. It was a suspense thriller about the ideal American family. It wasn’t all that scary. Your fear of what may happen was more apparent than what actually happened, although I missed the climax of the film when I stepped out to use the washroom. I was rather surprised to find the film ending when I returned- I’d only been gone for five minutes!

After the movie ended, we drove to a party near Papineau. Dunter and I were both very tired, so we just lounged on the couch for the duration of our stay. Rob was there, so I chatted away with him for awhile. I met a chap named Edward who went on about how I should be a member of the French Resistance for Halloween as I’ve already got the beret down pat. I thought he was very funny.

Dunter and I drove home around midnight, and I went to bed, awaking at 1:00 the next morning. I was in disbelief when I looked at the clock on my bedside table, but after checking the time on my iPhone, had come to realize that I had slept in to a ridiculous hour. I had such plans for my day off: go to Mount Royal and the Jean Talon market… but instead I had to prioritize and go to Canadian Tire, Provigo, and Zellers with the time still left in the day. How dull!

Now I’m about to leave to go have dinner with Nicole. She has a bunch of random stuff in her kitchen so we’re going to make something unusual to eat. She’s been feeling under-the-weather lately, so I’ve made her a DVD off films I’d thought she’d like, including Fanny Hill, Fido, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, and Youth Without Youth. I hope she likes them! Well, off I go now… ta!

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Story From My Early Teenage Years

Billy at the gate leading into the forest.

Billy at the gate leading into the forest.

When I went home for Thanksgiving this weekend, I found that my mum had gotten out on of the last novelettes I ever wrote: The Hanged Dove. Like most of the stories I wrote between age 9 and 14, it was inspired by the novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Celtic mythology.

The Hanged Dove is a 60 page fantasy I wrote when I was 14 years old and here are the first 3 pages (Chapter One) which can be read as a short story by itself. It vividly portrays the place I grew in, the nature of my dog, and me as an innocent 14 year old girl.

(The only things I’ve changed was the excessive use of commas and the dog’s name from Pussy to Billy. Somehow, 8 years later, the name Pussy seems mildly inappropriate… I wonder why? Hm.)

The Usual

Gwen skipped merrily along the dirt path as her Dalmatian/blue-heeler mutt, Billy, raced ahead. Her dog looked very happy to be running free through the woods. His rosy pink tongue hung out of his mouth and his tail wagged like a metronome at full speed. She giggled to herself as she watched him bound after a black squirrel, which scurried up an oak tree to Billy’s disappointment.

The temperature was cool for late May. Bright and beautiful sunlight seeped down through the green leaves of the trees, creating a dappled atmosphere. All the trees around her were very tall and had grey bark. They were lovely things and Gwen wouldn’t wish to live in a world without them.

The path she walked on was brown, earthy soil made up from years of rotting logs. From here, Gwen could see much of the wood stretch on around her. Sticks, seeds, stones, and twigs were strewn across the ground and occasionally Gwen would step upon a piece of someone’s unwanted garbage.

Beyond the path lay a blanket of green. This blanket was woven from many plants, many of which Gwen could name. There was garlic mustard; a common plant that lived in clusters, with triangular leaves and small white flowers on its top. There was dames rocket, which grew tall with slim, long leaves and purple four petaled flowers. Of course, there was the famous poison ivy in the wood as well, with its brown stem and three pointed leaves that Gwen tried to keep away from. Among this mass of almost completely green, was the frosty purple, arched dogwood. Gwen loved dogwood, for they often looked as if they were covered with front- even in the summer!

Gwen began to feel bored with the path she travelled so much, so wandered onto the blanket of green. She could hear the traffic on the main road that blocked any bird’s song. She was used to the buzz of traffic though, and trudged on.

Gwen, who wasn’t really heading anywhere, soon came upon an old, flaky vine which had wound itself around two trees to form a rectangle that resembled a door. Gwen remembered that Celts had once called these ‘magic doors’.

“Come on Billy!” She called to her dog. “Lets see if some old legend’s true.”

Gwen walked through the vine ‘door’ with Billy at her heels. Looking around, she saw that nothing had changed and she could still hear the distant sound of highway traffic from behind the trees.

A noise alerted Gwen as a large, light brown animal scampered across the forest floor. Billy leapt forward to chase after it.

“O-o-o! A bunny!” Came an unfamiliar male voice.

Gwen scanned the wood for the owner of the voice, but saw no one. She quickly became frightened for she had been warned against strange men, and this voice had been so close!

“Billy! Come!” Gwen called as she began walking back towards the path home.

“No!” Came the same unknown voice, this time from behind.

“Billy! Come” Gwen called out again, feeling very afraid. She had already trusted Billy to warn her of any on-comers, yet this time he hadn’t, and to top it all of, he’d left her alone in the forest.

As Gwen approached the slope leading up to her house she saw no stone steps, no log fence, the roof of her house, or even the NO TRESPASSING sign. She must be ill, she convinced herself. “For what I think I see is not true.” It was impossible, odd, and unreal. Could that Celtic door have really sent her into another world? Unbelievable things like that only happened in fantasy books. She had heard traffic earlier- or had that sound been coming through the magic door. What was she thinking? The whole thing seemed stupid.

Gwen put out her hand to where the gate and fence should be. Expecting to feel wood, she only felt air; nothing. Gwen stepped cautiously forward and looking down, saw no gravel driveway at her feet. Frightened of what she may see, Gwen forced herself to look up and saw… no house! Her home was nowhere to be seen. Instead, there lay a valley covered with wildflowers with a small creek running through its centre. A cardinal flew over a dwarfish apple tree, which was in full bloom, and the breeze carried the sweet scent of fresh blossoms. This would have been a sectacular sight to beheld if she hadn’t been hoping for something different.

“Billy…” Gwen croaked, her throat feeling as dry as a desert. “Billy?”

“What?!” Grumbled the same voice she had earlier run from. Turning around, Gwen saw Billy trotting up the slope with what appeared to be an over-grown rabbits in his mouth. The animal was hanging by the scruff of it’s neck with a sour look on it’s face, dragging along a green straw hat in one of it’s paws.

After all she had just seen, she figured the voice belonged to her very own dog. It was odd to hear a dog speak plain English. It was especially strange to hear it from one you had raised from a puppy and, as far as Gwen knew, was a misbehaving, non-human understanding basket of trouble that only barked, whined, and growled.

“Billy! Put that rabbit down!” Was Gwen’s second thought.

“Why should I?” Billy said through his teeth and rabbit.

“Because…” Gwen hesitated, watching with astonishment as the captured animal placed his mangled hat between his two long ears and started thumping Billy on the noise. Billy appeared indifferent. “Because… I’ll give you a cookie!”

“O-o-o!” Billy abruptly dropped the rabbit and sat down in front of Gwen with his tail sweeping the ground.

Gwen dug into her pocket and drew out a Milkbone, which she tossed to her dog as the rabbit hopped away. As soon as Billy had swallowed the cookie, his head snapped to the right as the rabbit’s white tail disappeared into a plume of ferns. Gwen grabbed Billy by the collar just as he was about to leap forward.

“Don’t hurt that rabbit Billy!” Gwen tapped him on the noise as they had taught her to do in dog training school. “If you behave, I’ll give you canned dog food when we get home!”

Billy sat back down and tilted his head back, giving Gwen one of his perfectly adorable looks. “But it was a funny bunny!” He whined.

“Funny bunnies don’t like to be bothered by dogs like you, Billy.” She said as she clipped on Billy’s leash.

“Well, the name my mum gave me was The-Great-One-of-the-Butterscotch-Moor… not Billy! Maybe bunnies like dogs by their real names?”

Gwen didn’t want to argue with her dog, even if this was the only chance she’d get. He didn’t make much sense anyway.

Gwen and Billy made their way back down the slope and into the wood. A lazy breeze ruffled the leaves, carrying a new scent of lilacs. The distant croak of frogs sounded like the twang of a bass string and a skylark could be heard above in one of the trees. Gwen couldn’t really appreciated this though as Billy was tugging her along the path by his leash.

Sure that there was no fox-sized rabbit in sight, Gwen let Billy off his leash. He bounded on ahead of her, stopping occasionally to sniff a tree. Gwen truly did not want to leave this magical land now, where dogs talked and rabbits wore hats, but her inconvenient homework was waiting. This was a unique place that maybe only she had visited. Such a place would be handy to know of, but what if she couldn’t return once she’d left? Come to think of it, what if she couldn’t return home?

Gwen quickened her pace to the magic door. As she neared it, she could hear the familiar sound of distant traffic.

“Come on Billy! We can come back tomorrow!” Gwen turned to face where Billy stood, sniffing a mayapple that was about to bloom.

“You better keep that promise.” Billy said, walking over reluctantly. “That and the canned dog food!”

“Take my word for it.” Gwen said with a huge sigh as she put one foot forward and stepped back through the door of twisted vine.

The sound of traffic instantly over took the song of birds. The new single Butterfly by Crazy Town boomed out of a passing car. Looking down Gwen saw a muddy Mr. Big chocolate wrapper at her feet. Billy ran ahead of her and upon seeing a squirrel, he barked.

They were home.

Copyright 2001 Nell Chitty

Dirty Puddle Water

Forgotten fabric in someone's garden.

Forgotten fabric in someone's garden.

Sunday through Tuesday I didn’t do anything social and it drove me a bit crazy. I resorted to going to bed early to escape the lonely evenings. This did not do anything to fix the dreaded ‘tired look’ I apparently have, which Dunter always comments on whenever I see him. Perhaps its something to do with my facial structure… maybe?

Fortunately, my friend Julian called me up to invite me out after work on Wednesday. We went to Kafein, a sheesha bar on Bishop at Maisonneuve, which was dimly lit and filled with bird cages, paper lanterns, and cheesy 1970’s furniture. Julian kept on running into people he knew there, and I happened to run into my friend Falani there too! Apparently it’s quite the popular joint for Concordia students.

I ended up drinking a surreal amount, but I guess my alcohol tolerance is so high that it didn’t do much. Instead, I just woke up early Thursday morning feeling really weird. I had an icy cold head rush whenever I stood up, had trouble walking for a few hours, and a bit of a headache. By noon, all but the headache went away so I dragged myself to work.

I was an absolutely miserable telemarketer that day, but apparently it worked well for me as I made 5 sales!!! It made me the star of the department that week. I had some bizarre customers though that day. The funniest was this one male client who would say how beautiful my voice was, ask whether I was married, and would I go on a date with him. He was quite disappointed when I told him I lived in Montreal, so it wouldn’t work as he was in Alberta. lol

Friday was a very bad days for sales. Only three of us made one  sale each. To top it all off, the computers went wacko and started calling the same customers over and over again within a fifteen minute time frame. So, we all had to log-off, and lost 45 minutes of pay (although we still had to remain in the building- WTF!).

After work on Friday, I went to attend a workshop on crafting for adults at Sin Academy. Everyone at the workshop was bilingual… except me. When I first arrived, they were all speaking French, which morphed into English once I showed up. My lack of language is so embarrassing!

After the workshop, I went in search of food. My only choices were Belle Province or Subway. Belle Province’s greasy poutine seemed very appealing to me at the time, but I decided to be ‘good’ and go to Subway instead. I soon remembered why I hate Subway: their bread is awful, all the toppings lack any flavour, and you have to make all these decisions… I always have a mini freak-out in my mind as soon as they ask “What toppings do you want on your sandwich?” – “I don’t know! I never make sandwiches! Aaaaa! Help me!”

After my flavourless sandwich of unknown meat, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, and hot peppers, I went back to Club Sin to sit with my friends and wait  for Dunter +troupe’s performance. There was lots of fireworks, liquid latex and glow sticks involved which managed to entertain me throughout the performance.

After the show, I danced a bit with my friends until Dunter came down from the dressing room. He took me on a tour of the backstage, leading me up a hidden wooden staircase. The dressing room looked quite similar to others I’d been in; old building, wood, tall doors and ceilings, everything falling apart- just how I like it!

Climbing the staircase brought back a vivid memory from my early childhood, when I was taken up a similar staircase to go visit my dad in the dressing room when his play about people drowning in the Titanic was put on last. I was aptly dressed in a little sailor costume at the time, and all the actresses were cooing over how cute I looked.

After I got introduced around, we decided to go out for a snack… and where did we end up? Yes, Subway. It was raining heavily by then, so we sat; Dunter with his sandwich, me with my Coca-Cola, waiting the rain out, but it didn’t stop. Neither of us had brought any rain gear, and as he rides a motorcycle and I ride a bicycle, the situation was not ideal for either of us.

Eventually we decided to venture outside where we said our fairwells under my black umbrella in the rain. I peddled off home in my little black dress with my pretty shoes filling with rain and dirty puddle water from the streets. I had a hot shower before going to bed, but I could not sleep for the life of me! I mean, I must have slept, but it didn’t feel like it – which was most annoying.

I was very grumpy Saturday morning. I had taken the day off work to go on a picnic on Mount Royal with Giro, Julian, Jason, Eva, Eve, and some more friends, but as it was raining, we had to cancel. So, I called up Nicole and we went shopping.

I decided to celebrate my first pay cheque by buying a new pair of  booties. We went to various shoe stores, and in the end I got a black suede pair of peep-toe ankle boots from Steve Madden with an angular heel that turned in. They’re very unusual and somehow remind me of a crow. Perhaps I’ll be a bird for Halloween…

We got home from shopping rather late, and Dunter was waiting outside to take me out to dinner. He had a little gift for me- a black neck scarf from New York! I thought it was awfully sweet of him and have been wearing it every day since. Its so pretty!

Dunter had previously invited me out with some friends to Buffet Ka Lo Hin, an Asian restaurant downtown. The food wasn’t that good, but that’s usually the case with buffet-style restaurants. I was the only non-French speaker in the group, but luckily Dunter had brought his Canon Rebel with him. So, I entertained myself throughout dinner by taking photographs of random things on the table.

Dunter taught me how to say “May I take your picture?” in French (was it “Preeg prend votre photo” now? I can’t remember). However, I usually just resorted to sign language when it came to taking pictures of him and his friends at the table as pointing at them, then the camera, seemed to work well for me.

After dinner, we went out to a party. Once again, everyone just spoke French, so I just sat there staring blankly at people as they spoke. I didn’t bother to giggle at the jokes that everyone was laughing at, as I had no idea what they were saying. I didn’t know what was worse: to laugh at a joke I didn’t comprehend or come off as a snobbish Toronto-ian… but its just I don’t speak the language.

On Sunday morning, I went to go visit Julian at the Javau at Guy and Maisonneuve (the coffee shop he works at). He made me a frothy hot chocolate ‘on-the-house’ and we hung out for awhile, reading the style section of the Globe and Mail and chatting until it was time for me to meet up with Rob.

I’d only hung out with Rob occasionally at parties, but today he had offered to drive me to a trendy craftshow up at St. Viateur. The craftshow was near my cousin Emilie’s house/shop, so I proposed we stop in there first. To our surprise, Emilie was a mutual friend, as her boyfriend was old school pals with Rob. What a small world!

Emilie was not home, so we went into the craftshow. It was filled with fashions by local designers, art, handmade jewelry, and cards. Rob bought us each a little cupcake to eat as we walked around, and he bought two posters by a local artist. I bought three  silk-screened postcards and an indie fashion magazine.

Afterwards, we went to Le Cagibi (my favourite café) for cappuccinos and discussed life for awhile. Time flew by and before I knew it, it was time to meet Loren at Picnik Electronik. Rob dropped me off at the metro, but we got distracted by the stores near by (Rob loves clothes shopping). So another two hours later, I finally boarded the subway.

My cell phone battery had run out of power, so I had no way to contact Loren when I got there. I walked around for a little bit, but couldn’t find him in the crowd, so went to go sit on a park bench by the water. There, I wrote Natalija and Caitlin both a postcard as I watched the sun set. It was lovely and so peaceful… especially with a techno concert going on in the background!

When I returned to Picnik Electronik, I managed to find Loren dancing with some friends of his underneath the big space-age sculpture. He shared his beer with me, and I soon found myself dancing away with everyone else. I’ve always enjoyed Picnik Electronik- there are people of all ages and styles there, dancing away, doing their own thing, and no one bugs you. I was particularly entertained by a dog there who’s tail, I swear, wagged to the beat of the music!

Now I sit at home, absolutely exhausted. It was a busy weekend with not enough hours in the evening to accomplish both sleep and fun… but its so worth it! Yay!