Friday, April 25, 2008
After a year's worth of notes, every single piece of my collection of black pens had seemingly died. But then I checked my purse, and there it was: a thin tube with a black artery still pumping straight through its middle. This is the pen that will get me through the last two exams. This is the pen that will accompany me to graduation. This is the pen that will write me to freedom.
I only ever write in black ink; never blue, and you'd have to pay me to use pencil. Its something similar to my refusal to pick up the 6 Richmond from anywhere but NatSci, or my inability to run without my ipod. I operate according to a schedule of habits, a grid of comfortable tics.
When I finish this last exam, I'd love to race down to Harris Park and take this last pen and chuck it from the banks into the swirling Thames. (From the Bank to the river.) Today I completed the last edits on my thesis, had it printed and bound, and then carried the package like a baby to University College to drop off for my professor to read and mark. I cradled it in my arms carefully. I'll probably receive my diploma soon and tuck it into a desk drawer somewhere, but this little thesis felt far more important. It weighed a ton, my book did. My book. No single piece of paper can ever mean as much as that pile of paper does.
For now, my pen is waiting for me. I probably won't end up throwing it into the river; I wouldn't want to disrupt the current after all.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Last night, while walking near-ish to Jim Bobs, I noticed: one orphaned shoe (slutty metallic sandal!) lying next to an empty Bacardi Breezer bottle (strawberry?)
Last week, walking past the train tracks on a sunny afternoon, I found: the homeless man in the red jacket. (I had not seen him in over a year, and was worried that perhaps my favourite Richmond Row vagrant had died. In reality, all he did was get a new jacket [navy blue rather than dirty red]).
London sure has strange ways of saying goodbye.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Here, about two weeks away from the end of my undergraduate career, I've found myself involuntarily living in the past. But not really in the past past: everything that happened before that one night in the hospital four years ago doesn't exist to me anymore. There are traces, I guess, snapshots of what my childhood was like and audio clips of memories and flashes and seconds and blips. But sometimes I can't decipher between what really happened and what I just remember seeing on TV (inside my head, my childhood is probably half my own and half Kevin Arnold's.) No, now my tangible memories only reach as far as the start of university. So that's where I've taken up refuge lately. I'm spending my days in Halifax circa 2005.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, (and disregarding the fact that I've already revealed this secret to more people than I'd like to admit), one of the biggest reasons on my "pro" list for choosing Dalhousie was (sigh) Joel Plaskett. I'm not even sure what was going through my head at the time. I think, for a while there at least, I entertained myself with the possibility that this decade-older Canrock-er might actually fall in love with me. It was one of those eighteen-year-old-girl hopes that looked pretty and sounded funny but had some solid roots. I listened to "Down at the Khyber" on a cd player in my backyard during summer afternoons as my departure loomed. I watched old episodes of Street Cents online to catch glimpses of my new city I knew nothing about. I became obsessed with it all, because I needed to be hopeful about what was to come, because I still fought back tears each time I stabbed myself with a tiny needle, because there wasn't anybody to talk to, because I needed to be hopeful about something.
I moved out east, and I never once found Plaskett reading a tattered paperback on a bench in the Public Gardens, and I cried and I struggled and I tumbled, but there was always hope. (Is this getting sappy? Like, really sappy? I worry. I'm tougher than this.) I used to sit on the sill of my rez room window and listen to one of his old CBC Radio 3 sessions over and over, letting it repeat and repeat and repeat as much as it liked. I used to read the cartoon his girlfriend (or wife, now, maybe) drew for the city's free paper on a weekly basis. I used to go see him perform every time he was in town, even though that was frequently and the songs were always the same chords, the same banter, the same feelings. But at least I was feeling something.
I'll never advocate on behalf of Joel Plaskett, the amazingly innovative singer-songwriter. The music isn't anything special, and the boy behind the guitar is starting to lose his spark with every passing year. But I'm glad to have him on my side, all the same. Your Favourite Band Ever really should be the band that you're most afraid to admit liking. It should be the one band that you have a rehearsed defense for, the one that you follow with an embarrassed "I know" shrug, the one that still has meaning even if only in your room at night when nobody else is listening. Fuck, this is sappy. But Plaskett really, really did save me. I put the CBC session back on repeat tonight. It was probably the first time I'd listened to it in months, years maybe. And I sat on my bed, with a years' worth of notes on Old and Middle English fanned out before me, and I felt like I was still eighteen. And I cried, naturally, but they weren't exactly sad tears or fear tears-- just tears, just drops & drops for my rainy city and my long-lost East Coast boy, but really for some newer cities and newer boys.
I saw Plaskett at Pearson airport this past December. I was checking in at the counter and he was attempting to check in at the self check-in and failing miserably. He was flustered and there was a ice storm outside and our plane was delayed by four hours but the timing was perfect, and the world was beautiful. There's still hope. There always is. Thanks, Plaskett.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
So yeah, I finished first year university last night- capped off with a very lacklustre english exam. But now it's done, and it's behind me, and I don't have anything left to worry about. I'm sure my marks are decent enough to get me into Western. I found out today that I have a job for the summer. I will get to see my mom and my dog on the day after tomorrow. The only thing I really have to worry about right now is the fact that my boxes and suitcases are still in the closet of my old room, and they made me give back my key, and the ex-roommate is going out drinking tonight and therefore won't be up for most of the day tomorrow but SHIT I need those things! Goddamn. I have to ship everything by tomorrow.
But oh well. I like when things fall in place like this. I considered myself to be extremely unlucky after everything that happened last year. Now, I can feel that life is getting fairer and overall better, but I know it's not luck. I worked so hard to be a good person this year- I observed every quality I hated in the people here and strove for the opposite. Now, I'd like to feel that it's paying off. It's a good feeling.
It looks like I'm not going to accomplish any of the things I wanted to do before leaving Halifax. I used up my dalcard dollars today, and filled out forms and arranged plans and bought gifts and walked downtown- but that's it. I could have gone out tonight for the last time but no one is available, and I'm just not feeling it. I'm not going to have time for Peggy's Cove. Hell, if I have to spend all day waiting for Kelly to wake up so I can get my bags, I'm not going to have time for anything tomorrow. It's a bummer and it makes me feel empty and incomplete and uneasy, but there's nothing I can do about it now. I accept it. At least the weather is somewhat nice.
Fuck. I hate residence. I will not miss it. Fuck Dalhousie. Fuck Dalhousie. Fuck you and your dirty toilets."But really. How is Kelly doing now? It would be wonderful to know, but these days not even facebook can bring two former live-in enemies together (damn you, privacy settings).