Category Archives: in General

Midnight in Paris

No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.

– Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), Midnight in Paris

Ah, this movie! This movie gave me something that I haven’t felt in awhile–hope for the written word. Not that I’ve ever lost hope in the written word. More like my own meagre scrawlings. Perhaps it’s because I’m a penmonkey by day and night, but I’ve felt dry, utterly dry, when it comes to my own thoughts and how they shape into words. Over the summer I fancied that I had a novel brewing inside of my imagination. I took copious notes on my iPhone, subsequently lost in the robbery in September, but not mourned. (The iPhone was mourned, but the notes, oddly enough, weren’t.) Earlier, in August on a visit with my parents, I brought the laptop with me, thinking that I’d be like Francis Poulenc and retire to the country where I could finally unleash prose. Instead I reveled in my family’s company, drank and ate far too much, and read more than I wrote.

Very recently I began writing for an online fashion magazine, a well-respected one at that. My enthusiasm for writing serious pieces knows no bounds, but it seems my creativity has been stuck at the border with a phony visa. Deadlines confound me and the process of thinking up and pitching ideas is exhausting. How do people do this for a living? Yet, they do, and I’m going to continue writing for this magazine because, for some inexplicable reason, they’re letting me and I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. If you’ll indulge me, the last piece I wrote was my favourite.

Somehow I’ve persevered. Well, I have to if I’m a penmonkey; that copy ain’t going to write itself. But regardless of that, I still manage to find little ekes of creativity left at the end of the day to form something for myself and so I have hope. Hope that was reaffirmed tonight by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It’s really the belief in one’s own writing that gives it strength. So I’m going to keep plucking away at this keyboard, one piece at a time, be it essay, blog post, poem or God, maybe even a piece of fiction.

And, even if I don’t mourn the loss of them, I’ll back up my notes on my phone from now on. Lesson learned!

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Stress, I haz it.  I stress about money, I stress about the food that I eat. I stress about men. I stress about…oh, fuck way too many things.

You know what I don’t stress about? Asking questions. Mostly because I don’t ask enough of them. I do stress about what asking a question will make me look like, though. I’m just a big stress ball–and not the kind you can squeeze to relieve the stress, either!

“Silly Olga, why are you asking such a dumb question?”

“Er, well…I was just wondering.”

Funny how our minds trick us into thinking that we’re going to look like fools if we allow ourselves the opportunity to ask a question.  When we’re children and we’ve masted the basic art of talking we ask multitudes of questions. It starts with “why”, progresses through “how come” and moves into more sophisticated territory. Somewhere along there, though, we begin to lose that natural innate urge to ask each question that pops into our brains.

I’m trying to get it back, not because I want to pester people like a five year old again (I think my parents had enough the first go around) but because I have a lot to learn yet in life and I don’t want to miss the opportunities.

Auld Lang Syne

Sorry about that last post, I’ve been knee-deep in copyspeak for months. It’s a hard habit to break, but I do make the effort. There’s always twitter, where I put a word down somehow. Or there’s also facebook, but you have to have met me to go on there…

So you see, I do have moments of stillness, where I drop a strand into the pool and let it linger in the swirl for a little bit.

Today of all days, the first of the year, I have been writing like a fiend. Writing to people I love, to strangers, people I could love, all sorts of things. Clever, witty? Perhaps. Memorable, definitely. Hmm, I do say that with some humility, I hope that’s evident. But how can it be when it’s just on the internet? A free account no less, no longer the master of her own domain.

I’m very excited about 2010. As I’m always excited for new years, but, you know…this one especially seems to be doing it for me. It sounds like it’ll be a fun year. Or perhaps that’s just me? I hope not. I hope you had an excellent new years. And you have an excellent new year.

Remember, Remember…the Eleventh of November

In Canada, we mark Remembrance Day by wearing poppies in our lapels.  You begin to see them right after Thanksgiving.  At first it’s one or two, a bright red spot floating in crowds of grey and black.  Then slowly, the poppies start to appear more and more, until they begin to resemble fields of crimson reminders.

The poppies are made of simple red felt and cling to your coat by a single pin threaded through the middle of the poppy.

They are notorious for getting caught and falling off.  It’s never a surprise to see a sad, lonely looking poppy lying on the floor of the subway train, or the sidewalk, having been brushed off a lapel carelessly.  It happens to us all.

This year, I thought I had a foolproof idea: I’d stick a REAL pin through the center of the poppy.  Not just any pin: a FLAG pin.  That’s right, bitches.  I got patriotic.  Not just that, it had a back to it—a perfect solution!  I put that thing on the day after Thanksgiving.  I was so excited to wear it!

Well, smartie pants that I am, I’m at the grocery store, doing my shopping.  As I’m waiting for my deli order, I look down and there is my poppy, lying in my shopping bag.  The damn thing had come off.

And nowhere could I find the back.  I left it in the shopping basket.

So, let this be known—NO ONE is immune to the loss of their Remembrance Day poppy.  NO ONE.  Short of sewing that thing to my coat, I see no other solution that will keep that thing in place.

That said, I have yet to replace it…and Remembrance Day is tomorrow.  I’ve failed again this year.

Image via Flickr

Feeling Like a Chump

On Saturday, I spent the day with my neighbor, Candy.  Yes, that’s her real name and I think it’s adorable.

Well, anyway.  We topped the day of shopping off at her place where we ate ice cream sundaes and watched the last two episodes of The Vampire Diaries, which I’m afraid I might sink into if I’m not careful.  Although, now that Mad Men is complete until next year, maybe I could indulge…

I digress!  Hanging out with Candy on Saturday gave me the opportunity to do two things I love: eat ice cream and compare my place to other people’s.  And, sadly, I have to admit…my apartment is sorely lacking compared to Candy’s.

You see, she’s got a one-bedroom, and I have a bachelor, so I inherently have less space than she does, but it just feels like she’s done a better job with hers than I have with mine.  Not only has she painted the walls (a task I can only dream of now, due to its enormity), but her place is immaculate.  Spotless.  She owns a dog!  Yet, there’s no hair ANYWHERE.

And not only that, she’s been able to get things done in her place, where as I feel like I’m not really getting what I need from my superintendents.  Case in point: my heat has been off for weeks.  Last year, the boilers weren’t switched on until late into autumn, so I assumed the same thing was happening this year, but one morning I woke up to a cold apartment and it was seven degrees Celsius outside.  That was when I knew something was wrong.

So, inspired by Candy’s no-nonsense approach to the supers, I took matters into my own hands and called each day over the weekend, and this morning.  Finally, the supers responded and told me that someone would come into my unit today.  So, who knows, maybe I’ll have heat this evening?

It sounds graver than it is—it’s just been chilly these past few weeks, but nothing a good sweater and a pair of socks couldn’t fix.  But now that I’ve taken a stand for myself, I’m going to commit to being a bigger gnat than I was.  I pay hundreds of dollars a month to live in a century-old apartment that BARELY looks like it survived that century.  And from what I’ve seen at Candy’s place, I don’t have to settle for that.

Mark my words: I don’t plan to.