Friday, September 25, 2009

Read worthy: The Winter Vault

Anne Michaels is one of my favourite writers, her newer novel, The Winter Vault is beautifully written though sorrowful. Not as lovely as Fugitive Pieces, her first novel, but still a must read.

Bits from the book:
'The market at Wadi Halfa was a place where every human whim had found a shelf. It was a catalogue of desires, a market of the broken and the lost, haunted by the hopes of both buyer and seller.'

'But no one said what was surely simple and obvious: you need flowers for a grave. Flowers were the very first thing we needed. Before bread. And long before words.'

'He had not said what he wanted: send me a signal across the river, by lantern light or bird call, come under cover of darkness, I will know you by your smell, come with the rain.....'

Thursday, September 24, 2009

London living: oh the little things

The good:

Hearing someone on the street say 'you bloody checky bastard'
Arriving to the bus stop just as the bus you want pulls up and opens it's door to you
The normalcy in going for a quick pint after work
The diversity of people, each area has it's own diversity, it's own pocket.

My coworker/friend Stephen said, 'London grew organically, it's not on a grid, and I like that'.

The bad:

Hearing your neighbours above you singing kareoke late into the night
Waiting for the bus while three buses pass you going the opposite direction
London is kind of dirty and its customer service is appalling.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Haitian remembrance: Première partie

Last night I had a flashback to Haiti, the rebellious country of sunlight and poverty stays with me still. I don't think it wants me to forget it and I don't want to because it was so significant to me before, during, and after the whole six month Peace Corps experience.

Transportation in Haiti was at times frightful and at times liberating. One could catch a ride by flagging someone down on the road, jumping in any car. Other times I would be with a group of people standing straight up in an open flat bed truck, holding on for dear life, rocking with all our human bodies thinking when one slips, we all will fall into the hole stricken roads.

Once I was on a windy mountain road journey (the tree barren lands of Haiti are more mountainous than the Swiss Alps) sitting next to the bus driver who was drinking a Colt beer at 11 in the morning. It's early, I told him and he cackled back.

I've recently connected with fellow volunteers. Ben, a great guy, posted a photo (see above) of our volunteer group during our training. The photo was taken on an old school bus we took up the hill to visit a monastery. On our way up, the bus turned into a driveway and then reversed back. Instead of reversing and stopping, the bus continued down the hill backwards. The driver's brakes failing, we rolled down a hill, collected speed and then collided into a tree in front of a small haitian house (thankfully the tree was there or we would have killed someone). There were a few cuts and pinned legs amoung the group. We piled out and walked the rest of the way up. The bus driver still charged us. This was Haiti.

I will always remember the rides, squeezed between smelly arms, holding tight. I remember the people I randomly met, being a white face, being different. I will remember the tap taps (public transportation) and the chickens I shared a ride with and the banging on the side of large vehicles signaling a desire to get off. I wanted to get off, I wanted to leave the island most of the time I was there, but when the time came, when we were forced out because the government fell, when we were told we had to go, I didn't want the ride.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Globe theatre

Who: Belen and I plus my co-workers Magnus and Anna
What: An American experience at the Globe theatre. B was a bit disappointed it wasn't Shakespeare, as was I.
When: Last Friday from 7 till 10:30 (the play was long)
Why: Because Magnus got the best seats in the house and none of us had ever been.

Check out their website here

'We have it in our power to begin the world over again’
Thomas Paine's Common Sense, 1776, referenced in Barack Obama's inauguration speech, 2009.

A New World brings to life a world turned upside down by notions of freedom and liberty. American independence and French revolution, battlefields and bedrooms, prisons and printing presses are all brought to the Globe stage in this compelling story of a remarkable man.

This world premiere celebrates the life and loves of Thomas Paine with songs, music and a huge carnival spirit. The much-acclaimed writer Trevor Griffiths is best known for his landmark play Comedians and Oscar-nominated screenplay Reds.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I kept calling it the wife swap even though no wives were involved, well actually maybe a few. What I meant to say was clothes swap or swishing (not a fan of this name) and I am loving this fairly new trend among my peeps in London.

Last night was the second time I went to a clothing swap at a friends house and it was BIG. My co-worker Rose and her flatmates Laurion and Anna hosted the event at their home in Clapton. The thing about Rose is that she’s got a lot of friends! Except for a friend I brought, she had a gang of twelve lovely ladies bounding into the house bearing wine and clothes that they no longer fit or wanted anymore.

The night started with a few drinks outside in the garden. Yesterday we had a freak spell of warm weather and it was lovely outside. There was a lot of laughter and excitement and everyone was super friendly. My mate and I reflected post swap how very strong/independent and intelligent each female individual seemed.

After drinks in the garden we moved to the clothing, and were there quite a lot of frocks! It was a hot mess of arms, shirts, shoes, perfume, scarfs, wine, and smiles. ‘Whose is this’ someone asked, ‘who cares,' another retorted, it’s yours now!' 'I've never been to a party like this!', Rose's friend Steph exclaimed. After awhile we all felt we were unable to really see all of the great pieces in the many piles so Rose held up items to ohhs and aahhhs and ‘I’ll take that’s’. Items we didn’t want found a place in a huge bag bound for the charity shop. We finished the night outside. Many a friend put on their new clothes, my friend Emma wore her three new flowing skirts all in one go.

I, as my mother always says, 'made out like a bandit', with two bracelets, a jacket, a few tops and even a little bottle of perfume. A clothes swap party is a great way to meet new people and get new clothes for free. I'm definitely looking forward to another.
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