17 September 2010
Last week I went on an extremely last minute trip to London, and I spent my time soaking in the culture of this grand old city, trying to see the little touristy bits here and there that I have missed on past trips. I was having a splendid time, that is, until I got a bit tipsy in Brighton on my final day and lost my camera. Inside was a memory card with 3 days worth of photos on it. :(
The photos I am saddest about losing are the 50+ I took of the Battersea Power Station.
I first saw a photo of this 1930's era abandoned coal burning plant in a Lonely Planet and chills went up my spine - I knew I had to see it in person. I took the tube to Pimlico station to stand across the Thames from this wonderfully monstrous building - it was well worth the trip. The building filled me with one part horror and one part awe - it is an unimaginably huge monolith and even from a distance it took up the whole sky and made me shudder in a delightful way. Certain twentieth century buildings do that to me....
Sadly, this big old Art Deco queen is a victim of "demolition by neglect" (which we are all too familiar with here in Vancouver) and is only a shell (you can see right through the windows above). Hopefully the government with step in to protect this eerily odd, strangely beautiful, magical building.
So, unfortunately this is NOT my photo, but nonetheless here is the Battersea Power Station. Only just now did I realize that it is also famous for some Pink Floyd (my most hated band ever) stuff, but I don't care about that. I just want to go around the world and stare at more buildings. Please?
09 July 2010
But it's not what you think! When most people picture a nude beach, they envision a weirdo hippie swinger commune where love rules and drum circles unite in the sunset. And while I admit, there is that certain element down at my beloved Wreck, its about much more than that. People from all walks of life flock to the edges of UBC to descend the 473 steps to the bottom of a cliff. Wrapping around this steep hillside is a utopic slice of sand, the prettiest you can get in the Lower Mainland and one of the most renowned nude beaches in the world. Hell, it was even nominated to be one of Canada's Seven Wonders!
Part of Wreck's allure is that its location prevents a few things: mass crowds of people and development (there is no road access.) However, that doesn't prevent a ragtag group of vendors from setting up shop, hoisting their ware up and down all those stairs just to make it happen. There are people meandering around selling beer, jello shots, marijuana, homemade empanadas, pizza, hot pork buns (the affable Thai fellow's slogan is "would you like to eat my nice, hot buns?,) sarongs, jewelry, palm readings, portraits, and "icy cold organic soft drinks." The vendors, like most of the beachgoers, are in various stages of undress - the most hardcore among them nude but for their fanny packs....
Lining the back of the beach are more vendors, these ones more professionally set up as seasonal "permanent" stalls. Stormin' Norman's Spirit Burgers is a long time favourite, staffed by surly naked French Canadians and featuring exotic meat burgers. There are also Peruvian, Vegan and Greek take-out joints, not to mention a larger naked lady who braves the spluttering of hot oil as she makes french fries and even poutine. Yes, on the beach.
Getting buck naked is not mandatory, but it is considered polite to get at least kind of nude. I myself go topless, only going for the full monty about 10% of the time. "Tourists," often from more restrictive cultures/countries can sometimes be seen lining the back of the beach and leering, but the Wreck beach police (a groups of scraggy old hippies who have been down at the beach since the 60's, when Vancouver was referred to as "San Francisco of the North") chase them away. You do not want to piss these old timers off - brandish a camera and they turn into pitbulls.
I have been going to Wreck for about 8 years, and in that time have developed a little core crew of friends who also spend 10 months of the year dreaming of the beach. We spend all week holding our breaths and hoping the weather will be at least 25 degrees (Celcius, my yank friends. We're not that crazy) and then Jay makes a vat of sangria, and we wile away the hours gossiping, eating, swimming and even occasionally skim boarding at the water's edge.
But it's not the food or illicit drinking that makes it such a draw for me. Rather, it's the calm, laid back attitude of everyone on the beach, the giggling toddlers wandering around, the puppies playing in the water and the tattooed hipsters catching sidelong glances of their naked crushes. It's this weird feeling of community that keeps all of us trudging down (and back up) those brutal stairs. Gazing out at the water, with no visible buildings or landmass in sight, just forest and sand and waves, I remarked to my best friend Xstina "it's like the apocalyse has happened and we're all stranded here on this beach and we don't care because it is awesome..."
Ok, maybe that was the vendor beer talking, but I stand by it.
30 June 2010
So, lately as I embark upon a slightly more spiritual path in my life and explore Buddhism and Hinduism earnestly (that is, without calling myself a douchebag in my head) I have, along side a growing sense of calm and contentedness, an almost animalistic urge to go traveling again. I can barely prevent my quivering fingers from tapping out the web addresses to travel sites and spending the last unspent chunk of credit card limit on a ticket to India or Bali.
I have been dreaming of the smoke filled chaotic streets of Delhi, the train station that I would have to navigate and conquer to find my way back to Dharamsala, high in the Himalayas and home to the Dalai Lama. Dreaming of landing in Hong Kong for a few days and then rushing through the traffic choked lanes to find the bus to the airport, barely making it in time for my flight to Denpasar, Bali where I would settle in the hills of Ubud and drink tea and drink wine and pet stray cats and commune all barefoot with my Buddha nature. Sigh.
Do I have a right to complain, and I sit here at my Summer job that countless other students applied for, in the middle of the luxury of being an adult scholar? I have pretty things, happy cats, fresh make-up and clean fingernails - but I just want to cash all of that in for a seedy room in some nondescript guesthouse, dirty feet and grubby fingers; for shots of blinding rice alcohol and heart thumping motorcycle rides and those moments when you breathe in and you're just - free and young and the whole world is just everything it is in that one moment. Y'know?
Alas, my schooling is more important and has to, for once and for all, get finished. And then I need to knock off my Masters, all in pursuit of my dream job. But, I have a feeling that this itch, this squirming, howling angry itch will not go away. I need to get back to crazy India. I need to go and meditate in the hills of that magical volcanic island in Indonesia. I need to live my true Buddha nature - as a traveler.
(And maybe you could help me and click this link so I can win a trip? It takes two seconds and I would be oh so happy!)
24 June 2010
I often think of myself as lazy, a notion that must have gotten stuck in my head as a child with a messy bedroom (it was epic. Until I was 20, cleaning my room took 2 days.) Like many ideas I have about myself (I am tall. I hate exercise.) it is actually really distorted and mostly false. As one of my best friends chortled as she nearly choked on her tea, "V, you are the least lazy person I know!"
And so maybe that is kind of true. I am a type A personality (although many only see my DD type personality, if y'know what I mean...) and I have a hard time relaxing if everything is not just so. That means, when I get home from work/yoga/school (and sometimes a combination of all three) I don't sit down - I cook, clean and do laundry first. Then, finally, when it is all done - I study. It's usually midnight at this point, and I last 20 minutes in front of an episode of "The Ugly Americans" before I fall asleep on the couch. (Even my facial cleansing/teeth brushing regime is long and complicated...)
BUT - there is always that annoying list of huge tasks lingering at the back of my brain somewhere - things that never get done because they are inconvenient and time-consuming and costly. And this fucking Summer? I am tackling them.
Perhaps it is the muggy, hazy, chilly weather we have been having that is filling me with ennui and making me push to get these un-doable tasks done. Vancouver is experiencing the worst Summer I can ever remember, with rain, clouds and cold breezes the daily norm so far in June. It's preventing me from the fun Summer things that I love: the beach, bike rides and BBQs - and giving me all of this free time to make appointments.
a) Mah Harr: Little known fact: my hair is actually not black. It is Clairol 121A "Natural Deep Brown" but on my shitty dishwater coloured hair it turns shiny jet black. For years I have been lamenting this fact, moaning that my hair was indeed "really dark brown! Look at me in the sun! Loooookkkk!" No one bought it. So now, tomorrow actually, I am having my hair stripped to a dark dark brown (think Zooey Deschanel), like I have always wanted it. Of course, now I am filled with nervous apprehension. Will it change my look too much? Will it be me? Will I lose my edge? ("Honey, you is like razors hidden in a candy apple, I wouldn't worry about that" - Inner Drag Queen.) It remains to be seen. I will let you know.
b) Sick Tribe: Yes, like most tattooed folks nearing thirty, I have a piece of tribal artwork on my back. And it is purple. Yep. Purple. I have an appointment to have it removed (well, at least lightened so that it can be covered prettily with this) on Saturday. Thank God for lasers.
c) Wonky Jaw: I have a wonky jaw (yes, that is the correct medical term.) It is simply a bit too small for my face, resulting in headaches, ringing in my ears and even causing me to bite my poor tongue on a semi-regular basis. Hard. Enough to draw blood. And as I get older, I am even developing a wee slight lisp as my muscles are having a hard time correcting the problem (especially when wine is involved....) I choose to find it endearing, but c'mon... thirty year old lisping woman is not so cute. The solution? My jaw needs to be broken, with an actual hammer, and somehow soldered back together in a hopefully kickass bionic way. It also means braces first, and even if they are clear I can't shake the terrible vain feeling that I will be a hideous freak. Le Sigh. Pain vs Beauty? I'm torn.... (or more like broken with a hammer.)
d) Framing - Last but not least - I know this one seems mundane at best, but since I began traveling at the age of 18 I have collected prints and posters and photos from around the world. And like, 2 of them are framed (and my mum did those ones for me.) I am the world's WORST procrastinator when it comes to framing - I think it intimidates me a little bit, all of those choices and colours, and it has less instant gratification than say, a pair of pretty heels, or a tattoo. I have a beautiful Egon Schiele print, a lovely Francis Bacon and a Marc Chagall gallery poster from Cesky Krumlov and goddamnit - by September 1st they will all be framed. And hung. Just do me a favour. Remind me?
So is this dull, drab weather a blessing in disguise? I'll let you know by August - if I'm not down on the beach, procrastinating....
09 June 2010
I really remember this being the first album that I bought, back in grade eight, that transcended the genres I was listening to: punk, grunge, riot grrrl and psychobilly. I also remember my mother being suitably impressed that my music tastes were expanding, which was true - to a point. Though I had secretly enjoyed the country-esque swing of "Closing Time" when it had been a hit on Muchmusic the year earlier, it was in grade eight that Trent Reznor included three of Mr Cohen's tracks (along with my girlhood fave L7) on the Natural Born Killers Soundtrack. This was enough of an endorsement for me at the time, and I'm glad it was, because I still treasure this album (and am in fact listening tonight on this lovely tranquil evening.) The dirty, racy lyrics and Cohen's wistful, raw growling voice turned me on to his poetry and for that I am forever grateful. It has changed me as a writer - and a thinker.
Plus, look at 'im dance!
Look at the good Canuck go!
My friends, my family, my colleagues, my neighbours - I think that everyone in my life is pretty used to (or sick of) me talking incessantly about yoga. Since January 4th I have gone to 4 or 5 classes a week and it has changed my life. Like, for realsies. See, I've always rolled my eyes at hippies, and so when I used to hear people wax rhapsodic about their third eye I would dismiss them as navel-gazing assholes. So how do you think I feel now that I am one of those assholes!?
All kidding aside, yoga has made me a stronger (seriously, these muscles are getting impressive, for l'il ole me) happier (by an immeasurable amount) and healthier person. I feel softer, lighter and more easily filled with joy. Fewer things get me stressed, other people's actions don't affect me as much and I no longer feel compelled to participate in bad vibes or gossip (except about celebs. I mean, c'mon. ) In my yoga practice, I can consistently set goals and achieve them (I recently learned to do headstands with no support - here is my next goal.) Plus - my ass looks great. Seriously.
Candy Darling, one of Andy Warhol's "superstars" was a drag queen, actor and muse. She was perfection - a true sexual renegade in the late sixties when queer culture didn't yet look fondly on transgendered folk. Days before her life was cut tragically short (she was 29) by leukemia in 1974, this haunting portrait, titled "Candy Darling on her deathbed," was shot by Peter Hujar. I have wanted a framed print of this for years and can not find one anywhere! Coincidentally, one of my favourite bands, Antony and the Johnsons, used the image on the cover of their second LP "I Am A Bird Now", so the reasons to love it are layered. I just can't get her frailty, her sensuous acceptance of death and her languid pose out of my mind. RIP Candy, dear.
4) Thinking about how Buffy and Sookie are the same character, pretty much
I love both Buffy and True Blood (and I know I'm not the only one to notice this) so this isn't meant to disparage either, but Sook is really starting to remind me of Ms. Summers. "Scooby Gang" of helpful pals, some of whom are kind of magic-y? Check. Love triangle between human girl, altruistic vampire and evil vampire? Check. Pretty blonde who is not quite human and is drawn to said vampires? "Big Bad" main source of evil in each season, fought in the final episode? Check. Hmmm. A little derivative?
And who cares!? Too much of a good thing? Wonderful. Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez!
Probably my favourite single food ingredient, I eat about 2 eggs a day. I love them, and after the strange and gag-inducing ways they often came served in Asia, I really appreciate how wonderful they can be. They come in their own little package, you can prepare them a hundred ways, they are fastfastfast for supper and they are delicious. My favourite? Poached runny, so that even the white are jiggly and the yolk goes everywhere, preferably covered in hollandaise sauce. It's midnight now, and frankly, I am excited for 8am so I can fry me up some of nature's perfect food. Hey Chickens? You're allllllright.
Til' next time
04 June 2010
Oh, Paris. There is something there that captivates the mind, sweeps into the heart and tickles the soul - and stinks up your fingers. Cheese, almost everyone's favourite food (I say almost because some people are assholes who claim not to like it) is at its best, most decadent, pungent and exhilarating in France, and I left my heart in its Fromageries.
On our second day in Paris, S and I decided to forgo a restaurant lunch and live the typical cliche- we strolled to the market, bought bread and cheese and wine and sat in a park (we couldn't find a church nearby and we had cheese burning a hole in our pocket!) rather than dine on steaming hot moules et frites and soupe aux poissons. I am glad we did.
I'll take this bad boy over a doughnut any day...We headed to a small farmer's market in the Latin Quarter and entered what can only be described as a cheese mecca. Displayed on the shelves were hundreds of varieties of cheese, most of them unwrapped and displayed in the open air. It was an agonizing process.
We perused the selection, breathing in the fierce goat-y smell and letting it waft over our faces. I stared at the huge wheels of rinded cheeses, their gooey centres bulging out slightly and debated over which goat cheese to choose. I peered into big vats of soft Mascarpone, drooled over veiny blue Roquefort and compared the firm butter coloured Raclette and Emmenthal. It was an intensive procedure.
Finally, after about twenty minutes we decided on a small round cylinder of hard goat cheese, a big creamy slab of Morbier and a round orange rinded cheese wrapped in plastic. We popped next door for some bread, thin crusty wands filled with salty olives, grabbed some wine and headed to the Square Michel Foucault for some serious lactose.
The Morbier was dreamy - a slice of Brie-like soft cow's cheese with a vein of mold running up the middle. It was smooth with just a hint of blue flavour, spreading easily over the bread and reminding me of a glass of fresh farm milk. The hard goat's cheese was almost like a parmesan, nutty and tiny bit acrid at the back of the soft palate, nice to chip off and eat in small bites. And then... then there was the wrapped cheese.
I have done some research and found out that this particular kind of cheese is called Epoisses and is considered by the French to be one of the stinkiest cheeses in the world - so much so that it is actually banned from public transport. This information would have come in handy (perhaps the shopkeep could have shouted "Interdit! Interdit!" when we tried to buy it) as we greedily tore into the cheese. With our hands. Instantly I knew something was awry. Being a lover of rank cheese, I bravely scooped the sample into my mouth.
Demon cheese. This is actually the plot of next season's True Blood.
Everything went blurry for a few moments as I faded in and out of consciousness. The taste, somewhere between rotting flesh and clabbered milk and something even more inexplicable and ghastly, seemed to hit me at the base of my skull and I nearly wretched. S, being the brave foodie, soldiered on to have a second bite in the "Anthony Bourdain/adventurous traveler/intrepid eater" tradition while I frantically crammed Morbier, bread and wine into my mouth to try to erase the flavour.
It was less a cheese than an angry god that needed appeasing - and I was fresh out of slaughtered fowl to burn and present. Not since durian have I tasted - or smelled - something filled with so much otherworldly hate. S decided that he too could not bear it and we guiltily threw it away.
After eating, walking through the Latin Quartier past the Sorbonne on our way to the Catacombs I could not get the taste out of my mouth- or the smell from my fingers. The oils in the Epoisses seemed to have penetrated my skin, and no matter how many times I washed my hands and scrubbed my nails with strong soap over the next few days, it was futile. The smell pervaded. I never got used to it.
Paris Picnic. Just watch out for Yogi Ours.
So my idea of a dream lunch is still intact - cheese, fine wine and delicious bread amidst a soft Parisian Spring breeze. But next time I will leave out the Epoisses - unless, of course, I am prepared to bow down to its evil god.
31 May 2010
Since becoming a tour guide for the Sins of the City Walking Tour, I have developed a passion for Vancouver’s heritage that borders on madness. I want to know it all – the details of every seedy story, the tawdry tales behind the burnt out neon signs, the whisper of tassels grazing flesh at the countless closed burlesque houses. This is the Vancouver that I am hungry for – its sordid tales replaying themselves through my voice under the mottled grey skies, skies dark and purple like a bruise on a junkie’s arm, like the shadow on the eye of a bawdy house girl.
The history that lies just under the cobblestone streets of this much-maligned neighbourhood is strangely present all around you, and if you start to listen and learn you can plunge your hands inside of it, all the way to the elbow and dig around, find the stories that interest you and connect them to the buildings in front of you.
Take, for instance, the 400 block of Alexander Street, now a no-man’s land of halfway houses and factories. In 1910, it was the bustling centre of Vancouver’s colourful sex trade, women of all shapes and sizes hanging their heads from balconies and windows to entice passersby. The deeds to these house, and all of their original water and power records are in the names of the enterprising women, mostly Californian and escaping the ruins of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, who built them. Their names are even inscribed in the tile work of the doorways. Standing with mouth slightly agape at the corner of Dunlevy and Alexander, the history springs to life.
A lot of the areas on the first half of walking tour are eerily empty, the streets abandoned during the day with only the occasional factory along the way. But it is in these areas, down on the wrong side of Hastings St along Powell and Railway and Alexander – it is down here that the down and dirty early stories of this rough and tumble little town took place. The Hastings Mill that started it all, bustling Japantown and its tragic end, Gassy Jack and his barrel of whiskey – it all started right here.
Studying for and running this tour has opened up my eyes and piqued my interest in such a fascinating way. Every walk I lead, every step I take around this city feels like an exciting discovery and there is so much more beneath the surface that I want to scratch away and reveal.
So come and take a walk with me. There is nothing I would rather do.
28 May 2010
It's easy to forget, here in Vancouver, that we have cultural riches at our fingertips that the world flocks to see. We grow up surrounded by totem poles and learn about potlatches at school but it never really seems to sink in. Perhaps because here in Canada our First Nations population suffers from so many social problems it becomes easy to overlook their current culture - we think of it as antiquated and archaeological, as arrowheads in museums rather than a changing and dynamic population of artists, athletes and regular folk.
Where I work, in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), it becomes all to easy to reflect only on the social woes of the First Nations population who are trapped there - caught in cycles of addiction learned by years in residential schools and foster care with no modeling of functional families to base their adulthood on. Day in and day out I am confronted with the desperation that hangs in the air above my beloved DTES.
That's not to say that it is all sadness - no, I am just as likely to have a smile smacked on my face as I witness the loving and caring atmosphere that the DTES community creates and nurtures. The fierce pride of the First Nations people living on the fringes of wealthy Vancouver is awe inspiring. The days though, the days when I see junkies overdosing or people in the crack dance, teenaged prostitutes with meth sores and old women begging for money - those days I am broken.
How can my country claim to be so advanced, and my city be heralded as having the highest standard of living in the world when this is what we have done to a race of people? Decimated their land, outlawed their language and customs, forcibly sterilized them until 30 years ago - this country is a monster, not a saint. And despite current good intentions, the statistics speak for themselves. How do I reconcile this with my patriotism?
Xstina is a cage, with a cannibalistic wilderness wildwoman looking on, part of a Squamish myth
I find it ironic that the first thing that North American travelers rush to see when visiting Asia are the "tribal" villages where you can purchase handicrafts, view carvings and artifacts and take pictures with the locals when we have such amazing examples of such in our own backyard. Again, for some reason we ignore the First Nations culture that permeates this land.
For a tourism challenge offered to museum workers in Vancouver I was given the opportunity to visit dozens of amazing museums and cultural centres, earning stamps toward an annual pass as I went. The final centre on my list? The Squamish Lil'wat Centre in Whistler. Xstina and I headed up the mountain last weekend, excited to earn a stamp and wander Whistler village, its vacation atmosphere always making a day feel special.
We tried on the ceremonial garb, ate bannock and salmon stew and entered the longhouses, a sense of hushed, guilty awe between us. Should we, the third and fourth generation daughters of European immigrants, feel guilty? We tried not to, instead choosing to relish the amazing display in front of us.
Today, while I was guiding a historical walking tour through the DTES, a First Nations woman overheard me say the word "alcohol" while telling the story of rum running during Prohibition and mistakenly thought that I was referring to current affairs. She accused me, in front of my 30 tour participants, of calling "all Indians drunks" and that I was telling "White person's lies" to the tourists. I wanted to defend myself, to explain to her that I was not and that I, of all people, understood better.
But do I?
It's something I struggle with everyday. There is no easy answer.
21 May 2010
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.
Eventually, I always thought, eventually I will be a published and praised novelist/poet. From the age of 14 this just seemed like an inevitability in my head, something that I wouldn't have to work at and would just one day, y'know, happen. "Live an exciting and interesting life, Dear, and you won't be able to STOP yourself from jotting down the next great novel!" As if it would happen absentmindedly in between rounds of vodka sodas, or on top of a cathedral in Europe, or perhaps even in the line for the washroom not used for sex at the Gay bar.
But the opposite is true.
There is a famous quote by Tallulah Bankhead: "Good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have time." And it is true. It's a catch 22 that the busier, the more exotic, the utterly fabulous stories that you acquire and rich layers of experience you gain - the less time you have to write it down.
Not that that is my only excuse for the last 15 years, the 15 years since I promised myself, a raccoon-eyed, Manic Panicked 14 year old, that I would be an brilliant novelist at some point. No, my main excuse comes back to complacency, to school essays and 9-5 jobs where you get home and just want to watch 6 hours of Arrested Development and pet the cats, not pick up a pen or a keyboard and weave magical worlds of complexity. I have been lazy. I haven't wanted it enough. I trusted, stupidly, that it would just happen.
And so of course it has not. This isn't some hilarious sitcom moment where I am going to find out I've been sleepwalking and fulfilling my life's passions while unconscious. I need to put time in, the put down the facebook and the news, to schedule my schoolwork more effectively so that I have the time to write.
BUT, and its a big but, it's not just about time, is it? It's not just about amazing, life-changing experiences and galavanting travels. It's MOSTLY about confidence, inspiration and gumption.
And I got me somma that in Paris.
Great writers have lived in Paris for hundreds of years , and while I am fascinated by the age of the Bohemians, by the characters depicted in Toulouse Lautrec paintings, by the earlier poets Balzac and Baudelaire - the era that fascinates me are the years between the wars.
The writers of the Lost Generation -American and British writers flooded Paris in the 1920s to soak up its rich artistic atmosphere and its relaxed social mores- spent hours in cafes and bars producing some of the most compelling writing of the twentieth century. James Joyce, F Scott Fitzgerald (and his crazy wife Zelda) Gertrude Stein, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Paul Sartre, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Samuel Beckett - that's just a sampling of the writers that I adore. And they all.lived.here.
Cafe de Flores, where a coffee is the exorbitant 6 Euros and wannabe writers from around the globe flock to spend it.
Why? It is in this cafe that Simone de Beauvoir huddled during World War II and wrote The Mandarins. It, along with Les Deux Magots next door, is where every single writer listed above has sat and written in the worn wicker seats.
Shakespeare and Company. This place is truly legendary amongst young writers - a bookstore on the Left Bank of the Seine that opened in 1919 as part shop/part library and part hostel for aspiring writers. In fact, I found out that to this day there is free rooming upstairs for impoverished scribes - and I may head back next Summer to take them up on that offer.
In the 1950's a competitor, George Whitman, took over the name and applied it to his shop, formerly called Le Mistral and also on the Left Bank. In this era the famous erotic novelist (and longtime paramour of Henry Miller) Anais Nin was a frequent visitor, and her quote is posted in the back room:
— Anaïs Nin, Diary, Vol. 5.
I got goosebumps being there.
So maybe I have it now. Maybe I have that missing piece - the bone-soaking, encompassing inspiration that walking Paris' cobblestone streets gives a writer. I mean, if they could do it, why can't I?
And it's a good lesson, no matter what. Your dreams - especially if they are scary and bewildering and overwhelming - won't just happen. You make it happen. I make it happen.
And so it's time to grab life by the balls. Or, in this case, the pen.
16 May 2010
10 May 2010
I promise that I will write about Notre Dame, about the Tour Eiffel and strolling the Seine, about Restaurant Chartiers and the Musee D'Orsay - but right now I only have 5 minutes and I can't get this tart out of my head. I ate it two days ago, near the afore-mentioned museum, and it was transcendent.
Today is my last day in Paris. Wish me luck on the tart front.
07 May 2010
Pintxos (peen-choes) are an phenomena that you find in the Northern Spanish Basque region, and famously in San Sebastian, a town I visited on my 18 year old "backpacking fail" trip. Little bites of savoury food, like canapes, are placed directly on the counter at all of the local bars (and there are hundreds, teeny standing room only affairs) the idea being that you pop in, grab a glass of wine of beer, eat a few pintxos and move on to the next bar, each of which specializes in a specific type. Walking down Neal St in Covent Garden, I noticed a tiny pintxos restaurant and we sampled six - all of which were good, and a few really great. I wish Vancouver had a Basque restaurant, but alas we don't. Business opportunity, anyone?