A River Runs Through It

You have to take trains and subways and cars and planes to get here.

My grandparents live beside a small river which, over the years, grows smaller and smaller.

There are lots of bright orange trees that speckle the quiet neighbourhood.

And cats that are afraid of everyone except the old man who painstakingly prepares meals for them out of leftover cooked fish and potatoes. When you ask him about his gatos he will tell you they’re lousy, but when he doesn’t know you’re looking he is their best friend. Que pasa Julie, que pasa Ortiz, he says quietly.

From the window of the new house you can see the old house, with rusted windows and stoney steps. Inside are hidden treasures in black and white.

And when I go, back on the trains and planes, all that’s left are my shadows.



I'm about to board a flight that will take me to Boston where a 12 hour layover awaits me. Then it's Boston to New York, and New York to Toronto. Sound exciting? IT IS.

I will post more about the last leg of my trip later, but for now two important pictures that will make you want to travel to Spain.

This is a picture from a cinnamon bun chain that sells a plethora of flavours. You might have to click on this one to see the words better, but it says "Cheese Bacon". That's right, there's meat in everything.

I found this line of dolls and accessories in a random clothing store and it stopped me dead in my tracks. I wonder if the other chocolate rain knows about it too? Apparently Tay Zonday hasn't made his way here yet...


The Vegetarian and The Pig

"Teresa esta aqui?" A man yells to me from behind the front gate. He's wearing a delivery uniform.

Uh, si...o no. Ella vive aqui pero...(I can't think of the word and he's looking at me funny). Ella esta trabajando?

He sees that I'm not a native Spanish speaker.

"Tengo una caja para ella," he says and motions something with his hands.

I can't remember what "caja" means. Card? Highway? Jesus Christ how could this stranger have a highway for my aunt?

Uh, I'll sign that if you want?

He hands me a box --ah, caja!-- that I can hardly lift and I sign at the X. Of course at this point I realize there could be anything in the caja.

"Gracias senorita," he says before getting back into a truck with strange green letters I can't make out.

Inside I put the heavy box and the paper I just signed on the couch. It sits and waits --I wait-- for someone to come home and open the thing. I half expect my uncle to see it and sigh with relief, "Ahah! The rifle has arrived."

He gets home after buying a baguette and is impressed. "It's here," he says with a smile on his face.

We open it together, a bottle of brandy, a bottle of whiskey, two bottles of wine...and then the moment we've all been waiting for: a giant pig's thigh. Proscuitto.

It's a gift from a company my aunt has worked with --pig being a customary show of appreciation in Spain. He estimates that this particular piece is worth 200-300 euros so maybe $450. That's a whopper.

In Canada my mail consists almost entirely of boring bills and incoherent rants from Quebec hydro that I never understand. Today I felt a bit like Tony Soprano, accepting pieces of a carcass encased in a beautifully carved wooden box while sipping my morning coffee.


Today I Played The Tourist

Lots of alley ways to get lost in...not like that happened to me or anything.

I liked this sign and I think I also have a distant Tio Pepe.

My new Spanish Hello Kitty lipglosses. YES MY HEAD IS EXPLODING WITH HAPPINESS!!! Hola Gato!

Today two little kids tried to rob me but I was too anxious to figure out what was going on and so they ran away. Some man was yelling "Hija!" while a tranny was trying to tell them to fuck off. It was confusing to say the least.

Another woman came right up to me and asked if I knew where an internet cafe with a computer was in english. I was all, "no se senorita". Bitch thought I knew how to speak english!


Living La Vida Loca!

The flights were long, the layovers even longer.

There were a lot of important papers that wouldn't be good to lose.

I saw a man riding a horsie.

I know it's not France but...

I own this street (check the name!). Don't worry, despite what it looks like my bro's not peeing on the wall.

And one more cafe con leche to get jittered.

The best anecdote so far goes to the woman beside me on the plane who kept on "mmmm-ing" the meal. "This is so good, I mean really, delicious." I'm not even exaggerating when I tell you that she said this over 10 times --and stopped a flight attendant to serve a compliment re: the amazing food. You know, the same food that ACTUALLY made me throw up in my mouth a little.


All the Living and the Dead

From the window of my boyfriend's apartment I can see that it snowed about a foot last night, and continues lightly still. He lives beside a church with a tall steeple and from where I sit I can see into the small courtyard. Little snowflakes are falling down on the crosses and stone benches, making everything look like it's been covered in a white blanket.

All I have left to do before I can say hasta luego to this god forsaken semester is a mammoth paper on Joyce. In all honesty I am so burnt out from the Hinduism final and the other assignments that I kind of want to throw up and cry at the same time.

To illustrate (and procrastinate) here is a chart I made.


Cleaning, Packing, Worrying

I'm not very good at the first two but I excel at the third.

In preparation for my nearing flight to Spain I actually swept my room today. I'm not a very tidy person and I certainly don't relish a good dusting session, but there is something inherently satisfying about gathering enough of my own hair to craft a wig. A wig? Yes. Is that an unhealthy amount of hair to be losing? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and just say no.

No because that makes me feel better and No because then I won't google it as a symptom of Impending Doom.

Mainly No because I've got too many final exams to do right now and they're occupying the better part of my brain reserved for STRESSING OUT.

It's called prioritizing and I like it.


Standing Around the Water Cooler

friend: I just feel like my job prospects are so limited here, you know?

me: Well yeah, it's tough without French.

friend: I guess I just feel like, when I start to consider topless housecleaning...it may be time to move cities.

me: I'd say that's a red flag.


Have I Mentioned I Love Hello Kitty?

Hello Kitty!!! by lowercasecarmen

A Lesson In Being Assertive

I work for my university in one of the least desirable jobs imaginable -- as an 'alumni fundraiser'. Living in Quebec without proficiency in French is tough so realistically, this is my only option as an anglo. I have a great boss and the work environment is not intimidating, but at the end of the day we are still calling people and asking for money. This can really suck.

The range of angry and irate responses I have received over the years is both lengthy and frustrating, though most days I can take it all in stride. There are inevitably going to be shifts where you're running on 3 hours sleep having just completed that 10 page paper on Faith Healing in Protestant Confederate Canada, and you will take things personally. I try to get up and take a walk after particularly trying calls, sometimes I drink another cup of coffee. Neither of these really help --but the last thing I do is tell the alumni what I really think.

Last night at work a friend of mine just snapped and after being hung up on he called the person back. Get that? He called the number back and said in a pleasant but firm voice, "You know, I really don't appreciate being hung up on mid way through a sentence-"

And that was it, hung up on again. But the revenge! So sweet! So satisfying!

It was a small step for mankind.


Peaches Honeyblossom Michelle Charlotte Angel Vanessa Geldof Gets Married!

Dudes, the article is from the BBC so it's gotta be true!


This marriage probably won't last more than 17 minutes, but I sure hope it does just so they can name some little kiddies of their own.

I propose: Eggs Benedict Wizard Fruit Basket Collage.


Jet Settin'

In the course of a year I manage to travel a lot. And really now, I'm already lying because the planes I take never leave the country, the destinations don't look too different from where I started, and if I were to add the facebook travel application I would just have a jumbled mass of lines tracing between Ontario, Quebec, and B.C.

Not exactly a soul-searching trip to Bolivia, but I digress.

The fact that my boyfriend and I manage to coordinate any time in the same city seems like a miracle, but a miracle that I appreciate and relish. A few days ago he had to leave for yet another city, and he asked me what I wanted to do on our last night together.

I thought for a while, deciding finally on Brinner. My parents used to make brinner, or breakfast for dinner, and I always thought it was such a treat. In actuality it was probably on the nights they were most tired and fed up with us, but I was oblivious to any exhaustion once the bacon hit the table.

I want Brinner, babe. And Brinner he made.

Cutting no corners he whipped up a feast of apple pancakes, berry compote, fried eggs, and english muffins. There was even cheesecake at the end which I accepted in spite of the fact that it is a non-breakfast food.

These kinds of nights can be bittersweet, both enjoyable and somehow depressing for obvious reasons. And yet after so many geographical relocations, goodbyes, and reunions, I've come to savour the arrivals and stop lamenting those damn departures.


Taken Out Of Context

Me: You wanna see a picture of Peaches Geldof?

Bf: No I already know what she looks like. Have you checked out the other Geldoff kids names?

Me: No, I only know Peaches cause she got busted on camera for buying coke.

Bf: Oh man, they're like Peaches, Urethra-


Bf: No, not Urethra, but shit like that. You know, Butterscotch Sundae Retard Boy...

Me: Is that too politically incorrect to put on my blog?

Bf: No, you'll get so many hits.


Someone's regretting these ads right about now.


August Looming

August is a month I dread. It signals the end of so much that I love and segues into that period of time most aptly summed up as Can't We Do This Later? I include things like getting my wisdom teeth removed and applying to masters programs into that same file. Trust me, I'll get around to it.

Sitting on a patio in August isn't like sitting on a patio in July, because in July you have the buffer of August. August is like playing hockey with no padding, or walking into a dinner with the in laws without a briefing on which one will never like you.

Each year I only work full-time for 4 months in the summer, and I find by the end of it all I'm thinking is Thank God I don't have to do this for longer. All of a sudden August doesn't look so bad, and hey, neither does September because at least I won't have to work. And so, with the persuasive powers of nostalgia on my side I forget how much school hurts.

And then I'm smack dab in the middle of writing an essay on faith healing in early confederate Canada and I remember August, why did I not savour August?

So to sum up this meandering and somewhat incoherent post, I'm deciding to frame things differently this year. I'm looking at you August, and you know what?

Bring it.


Spare Change

Yesterday on my way to a book signing a saw two homeless people, a woman and a man. The man had a paper cup and was holding it out in front of his body while the woman held back a bit and smoked a cigarette.

They asked a couple for spare change, the couple denied. "Have a nice day," the homeless man said to them.

As I walked by, the homeless man smiled at me and held out the cup. "Any spare change miss?"

Before I could reply the homeless woman stepped up and scolded him, "not her, you idiot!"

"Well, sorry. How am I supposed to know?" he shot back.

I walked away pretty confused, and then perhaps a bit too introspective. How poor do I look?


Cuppy McCupperson

Being an individual doesn't really require that you get used to annoying habits and tendencies. If you don't like drinking milk out of the carton, don't. If you like chewing with your mouth open, do it. But then there are relationships, those things that require two people [simultaneously getting along] to succeed, and well, they are entirely different.

I've learned that inevitably there will be things you or your partner do that makes the other contemplate jumping out of the fourth story window of an entirely hypothetical apartment. And yes-- four you think to yourself, would that be enough?

Personally, I'm just not so perfect, and among other endearing traits, I tend to use about 5 glasses, cups, and/or mugs each day. I also leave all those cups beside my computer in a little line just like baby ducks. Ducks are cute, yes, but apparently I am not.

This is one of those jump-out-of-your-apartment-window-things for my darling boyfriend. So today, when I got home from work I made myself an espresso and opened the cupboard to get myself a small cup. Right then the cosmic forces aligned and a small beacon of light shone down on my desk...directly on the cup I used this morning!!!

So I re-used and perhaps even renewed the love that exists between two people. People who obey the laws of coffee mugs.



If I had to give a name to the past year it would probably be something like: "The Year of Interviews". I have found myself in so many job, landlord, or roommate interviews that I almost think of myself as a commodity now.

Hey people! I'm a quiet roommate, unless you like partying? Because then I'm a good time! Studying you say? Well, I have to hit the books!

Or to the managers out there, I'm responsible and can work on my own AND in a group! Outgoing? Of course. Focused? You bet!

It's come to the point where I just wanna walk in and say:

Brown hair, sarcastic, hard-working for the most part, will make fun of you behind your back (and am exceptional at impressions), passive aggressive and will probably just bend my schedule around yours. Will occasionally lose sleep due to stress.

Either that or: You want? You buy.



Last night at work I did a terrible thing. In my haste to get out of the damn place --rushing around to close everything up-- I forgot one very important thing. Was it quality, Carmen, you ask? No no, I certainly did not forget quality. Even worse my friends, I forgot my phone.

It's not like I had nightmares last night focusing on the separation anxiety, or like I've been having trouble telling the time without out it. Gah, no!

But maybe, just maybe, I've been a bit worried. Worried for its safety, its well-being, HIS happiness. And so, like any good guardian I sent my emails and left my phone messages to ensure a safe sleepover.

Because when I comes down to it, that samsung isn't just a phone. He's my best friend.


My Demise

I can remember my mother warning me at a very young age about smoking.

"You know, once you start you just can't stop," she said sadly, getting up from the table to pour her 4th cup of coffee that day.

A good cautionary piece of advice for a young pup, but perhaps not specific enough for the literal mind of 6 year old. I understood "can't" in this case to mean "not allowed" and carried along happily. I didn't question the logic of "not being allowed to quit smoking" because like I said, I WAS SIX YEARS OLD.

Later my uncle would go on to quit smoking while I sat at Christmas dinner scared stiff, wondering when the police would arrive to take him away. I may have mentioned before that my mother was worried about my intellectual development as a kid...

I think, though, what stuck with me from that whole misconstrued situation was the understanding that addiction can be like a relentless gravitational pull. Once you start, you just can't stop. I decided crack and smack would have to be ruled out without even a taste.

Even today I'm weary of addiction and yet...well, I need to get something off my chest. In the last 24 hours I've eaten an entire box of Reese's Peanut Butter Puffs. I've already started on box number two and just a moment ago I was tipping it into my open mouth, a mouth that I can't even say was waiting patiently.

I just closed the tabs on the box and I'm already getting the shakes. Please, remember, ONCE YOU START YOU JUST CAN'T STOP.


Let's Be Friends!

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and a random unmarked van behind my apartment building is blasting hindi music. Hello summer!

I spent this morning worrying and wondering about whether or not I'll have to get emergency teeth surgery. When my dentist said "schedule an appointment to get your wisdom teeth out by the time you're 17" I figured he was being general. Every few weeks I get a skull splitting headache and spend an hour being like "Oh my God, I have an aneurism, what's wrong with me?" until I remember the dentist's face floating in my mind saying SURGERY, SURGERY, SURGERY.

The truth is, folks, the reason I haven't done anything is because the man terrified me. I mean, he didn't scare me, but his frank manner did. He was all, "Oh God, this looks bad," while I sat there telepathically reminding him to use the 'Anxiety Patient Filter'.

And so, this situation will probably have to elevate to a level of pain so intolerable before I will actually take action, most likely in the form of an emergency.

For now, though, I'll return to my normal everyday routine and the crazy man outside my apartment who has been screaming "FUCK YOU TRANSFORMERS" for the past two hours.


I Want One

For the past few days, since I found out that Migers (or as I like to say, simply "tiger mouse") exist I've felt like everything could be improved with their help. Like say you're washing the dishes. Now imagine you're washing the dishes with a tiger mouse on your shoulder!

When I was little my sister and I would pretend to be kittens. We'd make our mom put any food she expected us to eat in bowls and we'd lap it up. She confessed to me as an adult that she had been a little "worried" about me then. But I grew up just fine, ma!

Now all I can think about is this damn tiger mouse because, if I had to depict one, I'm not sure which traits and qualities I should showcase more. The timidity of a mouse? The ferocity of a tiger?

I'm still figuring it all out.

I Live Beside A Tree In A Park

There once was a beautiful painting on display in a condo in Tsawwassen, BC. The artist was unknown but the intention clear: enlighten people.

And yet, as in every well structured fairy tale, a problem must surface. The notorious painting was stolen quietly in the night leaving only an empty space on the wall. There was one solitary hole where a pin had been, and this absence stood for the metaphor in a caring man's heart. He had loved the painting dearly, perhaps even obsessively/bordering on insane, and longed for its return.

He summoned hunters and wise men from all surrounding kingdoms --but it was all to no avail. No word of the painting's whereabouts came forward, and the caring man was forced to write a small note.

"Please return the pony painting, I hold it dear to my heart," he penned.

Walking to the vacant spot that once housed his beloved, the caring man left the note. Perhaps, he thought to himself, perhaps someone will understand my pain and return the painting.

In a few days time something was returned to the man, but it was not the painting. He read the note of reply:

"The pony painting will not be returned. Perhaps the owner has removed it."

The caring man knew better than to believe such filth and lies. The painting had been stolen, and it was now gone forever.


A fair maiden in Montreal decided to take action for the caring man and after enlisting the help of her relaxed and artistic roommate, decided to make another pony painting.

And now, you may be thinking folks, that the maiden was attempting to replace a family pet with a new slobbering puppy, but-- Well, fuck that's what she was trying to do, okay?

Blah blah blah, romance, culmination of events. Behold, the new painting.


She Returns

A shephard came to me in the night, riding a camel and whistling a soft tune.

"You must continue young one, there are words yet to be written."


"It is time."

"What about the old blog?"

"Just put a link."

the old lowercasecarmen