The Devouring Mothers, what Niki had to say

September 30, 2004 at 9:59 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

I have a book, handbound with string through two holes in its cardboard covers. It’s small — maybe 20cm x 16cm? — and was “published” in November 1972 by Gimpel Fils, probably in conjunction with an exhibition. It’s called The Devouring Mothers and consists of twenty-six pages of lithographs by the ever-wonderful Niki de Saint Phalle.

My little Aulelia Milldeau character (from yesterday) had a very scary devouring mother too, and I’m convinced that Niki de Saint Phalle’s book helped me remember her. Aulelia’s Daddy was a slight and skinny bantam rooster. Unlike Niki’s imaginary devouring mother, Aulelia’s Mummy had a couple of sons she groomed as Daddy substitutes. “Daddy” became a phantom object, the pivot for both sexual resistance and desire. Saint Phalle delivers a wonderful visual summing up of Mummy’s Daddy, as perceived by the artist-daughter — isn’t it fantastic?

And although the daughter tries to make Daddy seem powerful by giving him multiple penises…,

she knows that in the end Mummy eats Daddy:

Mummy gets to put Daddy to rest.

Mummy might even serve him up for dinner, but daughter can’t eat him.

Next year I want to visit Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden to see the sculptures…

Ma(r)king it up

September 29, 2004 at 9:44 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Ma(r)king it up

Haven’t written much lately, have I? A few annoying health problems intervened, and the usual “I can’t believe I have this much to do” panic, too. Yes, it’s true that I try to spout a constant stream of anti-fascist propaganda when I cleave to denigrating the “work makes you free” claptrap, yet somehow I, too, am caught up by the SS of everyday life. They march me off to endless tasks that grow ever more “aryan” and insurmountable: c’mon, suckers, work harder, work more perfectly, work more this, work more that, shine shine shine! Bah, humbug, right? Except I let the maid go early today, so it’s humbug on me, eh, as I polish the jewels… One of the several-if-minor-but-still-annoying health issues had to do with anemia, which I was truly startled to learn I had. Moi, anemia? Joke, eh? On the other hand, it would explain the weird feeling of “my head is nailed to the floor” that set in every day around 2 pm. Forthwith, my recipe in aid of those afflicted thusly: do not think that ingesting lots of expensive beef will cure you. You might just get constipated (not that I want to know the details of your sensitivities), and who knows how efficiently your body will absorb beef’s iron anyway. Instead, try my sure-fire recipe for what I call “Tiger’s Milk” (this stuff, which I drank during pregnancies, baffled the birthcentre midwives who couldn’t believe how high my iron levels were — I never saw a doctor, so who knows what s/he would have made of me): 1 c. OJ
2 Tblsp nutritional brewer’s yeast
2 Tblsp non-gmo lecithin
2 Tblsp skim milk powder
2 Tblsp unsulphured blackstrap molasses
2 Tblsp raw wheat germ
1 banana
Blend in blender until smooth, after which you actually have to manage to swallow it. Warning: you have to like licorice to tolerate this concoction since blackstrap molasses has a strong taste akin to licorice. But keep in mind that blackstrap molasses kept the pioneer masses going through thick and thin: it is pure sludge and pure gold, full of minerals and vitamins. And brewer’s yeast is spiffy, too, although it’ll make you puke if you try it straight. This brew has everything you need to get through the day, and it’s good for your GI tract, as well as being very cheap, too. Pure unsulphured blackstrap molasses (i.e., not baking molasses) costs less than soda pop. I also have a very excellent recipe for chocolate cake, adapted from my ancient dog-eared (early 1970s) copy of Iva Bennett’s The Prudent Diet, but will save that for another day. Must keep something light in the offing, something to motivate me to come back, too. Why not come back? Well, for one thing, I hate the look of this site, and it’s a personal challenge for me to load the page: god, how much crimson can a body stand? I think all my red blood cells have seeped into the page, which explains my condition, n’est-ce pas? Unfortunately, I’m not at all clear on how to change it, nor how to fix the annoying problems I have trying to set up an entry in Firefox, Safari, Opera, or any other browser than Internet Exploder, whether I’m using Apple or Windows: every HTML tag that has the pointy bracket () gets turned into a question mark plus ampersand and other assorted gobbledegook, wrecking the mark-up. In frustration, I left those issues and turned my mind to remembering a friend I had (briefly) in junior high, when I was at S.J. Willis, which is now an adult learning centre, but which was a former jail, turned school in my day. Situated on a rise at Hillside and Blanshard Streets, it was known then as “Pregnant Hill” because of the greaseball avidity of its population. It was f-ck or be f-cked, the peer-controlled educational mantra that parents and teachers don’t want to see. The story that resulted is based on a real person, but judging from this beginning, there’s the potential that I can turn the memory into a wholly new character. This is kind of exciting, since I don’t usually try to create fictional characters. Hmm, if this were a mystery, I could kill her off by drowning her in a vat of Tiger’s Milk….

In junior high school I had a friend who, through no fault of her own, was really very odd. Her name, for example, was so fantastically different from the norm that, were I to write it here, I could not claim the protection of fiction, for her friends and family would recognise it instantly. It was a name so resonant and elegant, yet potentially so ridiculous, that the adolescent bearer had no choice but to wear it like a cloud. Of rain. A shroud. Of doom. But let’s make a name up for her: Aulelia Milldeau, say. In the days when Aulelia was entering the sexual life web of junior high, attitudes toward the handicapped were not yet tempered by inclusive classrooms, and in some of the smaller minds her name inevitably merged with the term “spazz.” Having a name inspired by the islands of Hawai’i didn’t count in her favour, either: visions of mamas in mumus instantly linked her to The Uncool, and made Aulelia wish for a different name. Furthermore, while too many of her classmates from Kindergarten on hadn’t possessed the capability to pronounce her name, they neither had any particular desire to learn, for strangeness in others was never an opportunity, but simply an affront. And the fact that her last name sounded too much like mildew only worsened matters. On the other hand, if one was willing to surrender to one’s musical self, the name Aulelia resonated with Eulalia and called to mind the word ululation, which means “a long, loud, emotional utterance.” Alas, Aulelia the girl was better known for her silences, for her sullen, hooded expression: sound was not her specialty. She didn’t howl, she didn’t sing, in fact, she barely spoke. She had a low but nasal voice, which fitted her thin and reedy body very much. When charitable and not mocking the handicapped, her classmates called Aulelia Owly. The Owl, owly mildew, Aulelia Milldeau, Owl at the Window. That last name was of course as magical as the first, a dimension lost, I’m afraid, on the awkward adventurers of adolescence whose own vital impulses scared them into iconoclastic attacks on anything imaginative. Those of us who had the smattering of French that even Western Canadians ought to have could delight in Milldeau, which suggested mille d’eau or “thousands of waters.” Now, where did that come from? One’s mind was set to thinking of daring couriers de bois carving out new identities untethered to former family names, fearlessly making their way across the Canadian Shield, through the endless marshes of Ontario, perhaps helping to portage on the Prairie, surely defying The Hudson Bay Company’s monopoly on the fur trade, quite possibly marrying Indian maidens, and undoubtedly fighting in Louis Riel’s righteous M�tis rebellion. The possibilities for imagining something distinctly Canadian were endless, and didn’t Aulelia have a chiselled elegance in her dark looks that suggested a wilder parentage than the average scones-and-tea pedigree on offer in Victoria?

Well, that’s about as far as I got, aside from starting to describe her house. But the house and Aulelia’s life in it is a turning point in the plot/story, or it would be if I knew what it was. It’s a turning point which is supposed to wrench the reader off the track s/he thinks I’ve started her/him on. For me, Aulelia’s house was the starting point — the bit about her name was just a ruse, you understand, …although she really did have a most unusual name. It’s her mother, her father, and her several loathsome brothers who are the real antagonists, though, not her name. The name is just a name is a name is a rose …you know…

I stopped wearing contact lenses; sadly, the medieval period still advances on us

September 14, 2004 at 11:22 pm | In yulelogStories | 1 Comment

An early winter has settled on Victoria — at least, that’s what it feels like. Drought and heat are just a memory: gone the searingly empty summer air incinerated to elemental oxygen, replaced instead by palpably moist air, a veritable wet blanket that encourages the unspeakable undercover doings of moss and fungus and all things close to the ground. This is the fastest summer sign-off I’ve ever seen, the quickest seasonal switch from one extreme to another, and it seems uncannily permanent. Sure, there may yet be a return to “Indian Summer” at some point, there may indeed be something more seasonal just around the corner, but somehow it doesn’t feel like it.

Just now, I wasted twenty minutes looking through an old journal, and found this entry from March 6, 1988, which made me laugh. I wrote it when I was in my second year of the PhD program at Harvard, where I was (among other things) preparing for my General Exams (including the dreaded “Connoisseurship”), working in the Print Room at the Fogg Art Museum, finishing my Qualifying Paper (a kind of mini-thesis) prior to Exams, teaching as a Teaching Fellow for a course I described as “Vogon poetry,” and, worst of all, teetotalling to keep myself “in training.” It was …uh, stressful, a really high-pressure time. Today, other things might freak me out, but I don’t wear contact lenses anymore:

Yesterday at 10 I dozed off on the couch and awoke some time later to find that my contacts were glued to my eyeballs. When I tried to remove them, they literally were stuck, and came off only after some tugging. The strange thing was that this experience brought me within hair’s breadth of passing out. I struggled very hard against blacking out, and after I safely removed the lenses, I spent 10 minutes on the bed, deep breathing, fighting back the nausea that accompanies fainting, trying to regain consciousness, fighting back the tunnel vision and blackness. It made me think of strange things. It didn’t hurt, that wasn’t it, but it made me think that maybe the organs — like the eyes, for example — have their own consciousness, which, if impinged on in the wrong way, can take over and do strange things to you even if you don’t think that it’s the appropriate response. It has to do with the notion of the author, I guess. We like to think that that space between our ears is our author, and then an organ does something of its own accord, and this makes the whole authorial edifice crumble. It reminded me of medieval thought, or of thinking, for example — since we’re on the subject of eyes and seeing — about the belief that color and light are properties of objects: that object is such and such a color not because it reflects light rays at such and such a frequency — light rays that come to it from elsewhere and that are the carriers of optical color — but rather it is such and such a color because that is its property, and the color emanates from it. Likewise that the eye could be a sense organ with some kind of power of its own, not just a servant of the brain, of the author. It made me think that with the authorial edifice in disarray in this our “pomo” age of deconstructivism, we are regressing to some kind of medieval comprehension of the world. My contacts stuck to my eyes and my fainting reaction were my contribution to retro-medieval sensation.

Medievalism wasn’t my field of study of course. It was Modernism specifically, and “18th century to the present” generally. My journal entries, however, badgered subjects that went beyond those silly limits. For one thing, there is so much stuff about the body and feminist theory in these notes, and it’s all weird and terribly complicated, but oddly provocative, as though orifices had eyes and the body of theory had contacts stuck everywhere. One day I should sort through it all, perhaps to emerge at the other end. Refracted or digested? Offering a screen or a dish? Something to view or to chew on?

What’s the relationship between allegory and dialectics?

Enjoy this picture: it is not medieval:

Father anthologies

September 13, 2004 at 12:01 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Father anthologies

Some of my friends are facing the death of parents, and a few are probably experiencing the full range of conflicting emotions that comes with this territory. Very few people have had “perfect” relationships with their progenitors, yet oh!, how we strive, we strive…

Take fathers, for example: we all know seemingly endless examples of troubled father-son and father-daughter pairings. But it was at a funeral for a man who wasn’t a father himself that I had a glimpse into a facet of the father-son relationship. One of the mourners was a man, himself a father, whose own father had died a year before: I happen to know the details of their sometimes troubled relationship, the failings and shortcomings, the wishes and desires the son had lain at his father’s feet. The man we came to mourn, Steve, had no children, yet he had been the perfect father to many children, as well as a shining example for men trying to figure out their own roles as men, as sons and as fathers. We entered the synagogue for his memorial service and were greeted by the sound of jazz, including Horace Silver‘s Peace. The space was filled to capacity and beyond, and one after another, men came to the front to talk about Steve’s influence in their lives. He was a mentor, a teacher, a joker, …an example. The conflicted father-son relationship sometimes crystallises most acutely for the son when he realises that he wants to redeem his father by being a good one to his children. Sometimes it’s simply a question of figuring out how that father could have let him be a good son.

Yesterday I was listening to Leon Thomas’s Anthology — rooting around online for lyrics to his version of “Song for My Father,” I was reminded that it was written by Horace Silver, the same man who composed Peace.

For me, the trouble bubbles to the surface when I read a book by a woman who dedicates it “To my mother,” and whose preface explains how the mother nourished the daughter’s dreams and ambitions. From an apparently bottomless pit sounds this lament: Why couldn’t I have a mother like that? That’s when I know that I have to, as my father used to say, “pull myself along by my own nose.” Man, that hurts: my poor nose!

When all is said and done, Horace Silver’s words (and Leon Thomas’s stunning vocal rendition) are a much kinder way of pulling oneself up. It’s an ideal to strive for, because if there’s an “inner child,” there’s also an “inner father” and an “inner mother.” We may as well visualise them with a full array of virtues. Twenty years ago, I would have dismissed these lyrics, out of pain, as kitsch. Thanks to people like Steve, I know a bit better:

Song For My Father

If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man
A human being so true
He could live like a king
‘Cause he knew
The real pleasure in life

To be devoted to
And always stand by me
So I’d be unafraid and free

If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man
A human being so true
He could live like a king
‘Cause he knew
The real pleasure in life

To be devoted to
And always stand by me
So I’d be unafraid and free

If there was ever a man
Who was generous, gracious and good
That was my dad
The man, The man

— by Horace Silver

Lest anyone think that Leon Thomas’s Anthology is all sweetness and light, however, it ain’t. It also includes Marcus Garvey’s 1934 poem, The World is Hell, set to music as the song, Shape your mind to die:

The World is Hell as man shows it;
The creatures are of steel;
To live is of superior wit,
To fail is thus to feel.

No smile is genuine my friend,
It’s all a pleasing lie;
Be ever ready to defend
Or shape your mind to die.

— by Marcus Garvey

There’s just never one convenient way of doing and thinking, is there? Peace…

Cocky, and real sweet

September 10, 2004 at 7:08 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Cocky, and real sweet

This summer I had a chance to get reacquainted with a former high school pal who lives in (and works out of) Toronto. Kathy sent me this link to a music video for the song “Cocky” by Toronto’s Mind the Gap. Along with the band, it stars her son Julian Cervello as a cocky kid whose Candide-like actions play out against the backdrop of the band’s music. The lyrics are both romantic (“Everyone knows that you love me”) and alienated; the rocker pose is cheekily kaput but totally cocky. The video plays on that, and it’s a really smart, witty juxtaposition of action and music: lots of fun. The music combines with interesting scenes to tell a story acted out in vignettes, with several unexpected curves thrown in, which produces something that is more than the song or the story alone. See the video by clicking on this link, and then clicking on “Watch” to see it. (Note that it requires a Windows plug-in, which puts us Apple users at a disadvantage.) Oh, and added media bonus for some: the band’s singer, lead guitarist, and songwriter is Jake Epstein, who plays Craig Manning on CBC‘s Degrassi: The Next Generation. (Since I don’t have tv, I’m afraid this means little to me, but then, I’m probably weird not to have tv, right? Whatever. See the video.)


September 9, 2004 at 11:51 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Skindeep

On the radio this evening, I heard the most amazing song from a 1998 album, Sahara Blue by Hector Zazou. Have to put this one on a prezzies list.


Posted that picture for the entry Pointing past the frame — I realised I could export the scanned picture from the HP PrecisionScan to iPhoto, from whence I could incorporate it in reduced scale into the pictures function of this blog. It’s a funny picture that illustrates the maxim that being photographed while you’re chewing with your mouth full is not a good idea. I like the way H., my third oldest sister, wears her sunglasses here, while my fourth oldest sister, younger, looks like a schoolgirl with her buttoned-up cardigan. But when they dressed up, they sparkled in all the downtown nightclubs. They tried to swish as much energy my way as they could, for which I am grateful. I was lucky (#7, right?) because I had several sisters who acted as surrogate mothers to me, and that was a good thing.


Yesterday I had occasion to discuss facial scars. Boring my children nearly to death (they’ve heard this), I told a third party how I got mine: my parents had a Burmese cat named Dalia, and when I was about 10 or perhaps 11, she had three kittens. When the kittens were not yet 2 days old, my father gathered up a stray cat he found outside; feeling sorry for it, he brought it into our apartment. Faced with this intruder, Dalia went berserk and tried to kill the stray. I vividly remember thinking that the chase seemed like a cartoon: the two cats were practically running vertically, along the walls. My father finally managed to snag the stray and take it to safety outside. He then caught up Dalia and put her in my bedroom — the kittens stayed in my parents’ bedroom since he feared that she would maul them. All the while, Dalia had kept up a frightful moaning wail, threatening and low. Foolishly — but who knew? — I went into my room, door closed, and tried to “talk” to Dalia. She was pacing, wild, didn’t want to calm down, and kept up her wild monkey wail. She was on the ground, I was standing. I looked down at her and said, “Oh shut up, why don’t you!” and suddenly, she wasn’t on the ground anymore. She had leapt at my head, her two front claws clinging to my temple and forehead (she missed my eyes), one hind claw cleaving my upper lip in two, the other gouging my neck. She just hung there as the blood dripped down on the white shirt I wore. I was afraid to remove her because of the pain she was causing. Finally, my father heard my screams, came into the room, and lifted the cat off my face, while I pushed past him to the bathroom mirror.

This cat had leapt into my skin, and about a year or so later, I awoke one morning unable to breathe — unable to exhale, actually. She was sitting on my chest, and I had bronchial asthma caused by a sudden onset of cat allergy. Years after I moved away, when Dalia finally died — we think she died: she just left one day — my mother showed the only real emotional outburst I can recall: she was openly in mourning and inconsolable. The Cat that leapt into my skin had made a most secure place in my mother’s heart: she had the claws for it, I suppose, and managed to find a way in. Years before The Cat’s death, I moved out, I moved all over the place, I took trains, planes, and hitchhiked across parts of Europe, I moved to Montreal, I moved to Munich, and never was there a great deal of concern on the part of my parents for how I was making my moves. Yet The Cat’s moves had to be secure: without asking my opinion, they sent her cross-country from Victoria to Montreal, for me to babysit (catsit?) while they travelled. I had bronchial asthma, a scar, and had moved 3000 miles away, but naturally I could be counted on to go to the airport, pick up the beastly live cargo, and tend to it for 3 weeks, wheezing and coughing all the time. The Cat was always safe, but she repaid her pampering by just walking out the door one day and not coming back to my mother, which drove her crazy. And oddly enough, one fine day I did the same thing.

Cruelty etched into the skin.


Yikes, this is turning into a weird memoir-blog. Oh well. Maybe I’m making it all up? Perhaps I got my scar snorting coke on jagged glass? Perhaps I don’t have a scar at all?

Piping for change

September 8, 2004 at 10:10 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Piping for change

Took my dog on his necessary walk today, combining that task with several others before and after, hence travelling to the favoured walking spot by car instead of on foot. Since the whole “getting there” part of the doggie exercise regimen was thus eliminated, we had to extend our usual beach route walk to include more rocky cliff terrain. At one end of the walk, before turning back to where we’d parked, we (ok, I) huffed and puffed up several hundred stair treads: I was embarassed to discover that I was quite winded, and it didn’t help that the sun was blazing off the limpid waters in the bay to create a slight sensation of furnace heat, thus contributing to a sense of my own imminent explosion. So there I stood at the top of the cliff, watching my dog eat grass, occasionally looking at the nearby traffic turning up Douglas Street (we were at Mile 0). Two young guys then came up the stairs. Compared to my recent strenuous efforts, from which I was attempting to recover elegantly (still watching my dog eat grass), these two were breathing easily, and they were remarkably pale, too. As they began to cross the street, I remembered an entry of Wendy‘s from a while back. She described the constricting sensation she experienced while wearing a tight calf-length skirt: her steps were shortened, her freedom of movement was curtailed: it took longer to get from A to B because each step was smaller, impeded. I remembered this because I saw that one of the young men was walking funny: he was wearing a pair of those absurd-looking “gangsta”-style jeans, the ones that deliberately ride low on the ass to expose (only the “right” kind of) underwear, and whose crotch seam, already lower than normal, comes to rest — baggily, very baggily — about 2 inches above the knees. I suddenly realised that his walk was as unnaturally shortened and encumbered as that of a woman in a tight-ish midi skirt, because the crotch seam’s width, placed at that point slightly above the knees, determined the length of his stride. If your crotch seam hugs your crotch, your stride is as long as you can make it. If it hugs your knees, but is only a few (perhaps 5) inches across and therefore keeps your legs from opening to their full extension, you’ve lost a huge spread. Hunh, I guess girls aren’t the only ones subject to fashionista dictates that hobble the body. But who would have thought those cool jeans impair movement? …Prison wardens, maybe? Um, so where I parked — right on Dallas Road — I saw an old beater parked next to me. This car had a bright green sticker: “Vote Green.” It made me so mad I nearly put a note on the owner’s windshield. Here’s some sanctimonious jerk with a “green” sticker on his car, yet this car, judging by its dilapidated, uncared for, rusted, and generally shitty appearance, no doubt spews more noxious fumes into the air than the combined automobile output of 15 “less green” drivers. It looked exactly like any of the countless cars you see around here that trail thick, long blue plumes of fume from their tailpipes. And speaking of crap and pipes: Victoria just got an “F” from the Sierra Legal Defense Fund and was “suspended” for its “lack of effort” in addressing the scandal of pumping raw sewage directly into the Juan de Fuca Strait. This from today’s Globe and Mail:

Victoria and Montreal’s practice of dumping raw sewage into their waterways gave them failing grades from the Sierra Legal Defence Fund Wednesday in its third report card on sewage management.

“Billions of litres of raw sewage continue to flow into our lakes, rivers and waterways each day,” said Sierra Legal staff lawyer Margot Venton. “As Canadians, we should be embarrassed that major cities like Victoria and Montreal continue to dump enormous amounts of sewage laden with toxic chemicals into local waterways without any treatment whatsoever.”

“Unlike the United States or European Union, Canada has no national standards for sewage treatment,” said Sierra Legal staff scientist Dr. Elaine MacDonald. “As a result of our patchwork approach, Canada has fallen well behind. To begin catching up, Canada must create national standards for sewage treatment, and these standards should be consistently and equitably enforced throughout the country.”

Read the report on Sierra Legal Defense Fund‘s site here. There is nothing equivalent to an EPA in Canada (i.e., no national or federal standards), which is why Victoria can get away with its destruction of the environment — and city-wide corruption and scratch-my-back, I’ll-scratch-yours mentalities only facilitate the general aura of nastiness and skullduggery surrounding city politics here — and that’s also why there are no emissions standards for cars or trucks or buses. My special nemeses are the hokey double-decker tourist buses that take the out-of-towners through the fake “olde Englande” experience of downtown and the Scenic Route: those buses have the worst emissions, and I’m amazed that people living in houses along the Scenic Route haven’t taken to sniping at the drivers as they pass. NB: the links to Crystal Gardens allude to the recent closure of a local downtown landmark that, rumour has it, the city wants for a convention centre/ casino. It was supposed to close last Monday at 9pm, but in an especially meanspirited move, the Provincial Capital Commission (some ominous body of who-knows-how appointed arbiters) closed it, without even telling the staff, at 6pm, thereby cutting off last minute protests and visits. Nice guys? Democratic? Responsive to the people? Not. Who are these people?? Still not getting to comments, sadly. Too much to do, but soon, soon.

Pointing past the frame

September 7, 2004 at 11:54 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Pointing past the frame

Back in harness. (Not that I really recall getting out of it in the first place….) School is in session again, meetings with advisors upcoming, and a pile of extracurricular classes starting next week. Somehow it was easier when my children barely ate, but now they scarf up the food as quickly as I can get it into the cupboards or on the table. Hence there’s a low-level anxiety on my part that we’ll either be late for our next appointment (a class, a meeting, a rehearsal, whatever) or run out of food. Very strange, but as one learns very quickly when they’re babies, not permanent: children change rapidly, as they grow, and just when you’ve gotten used to one rhythm, they start tapping out a different beat yet again.

Their work today revolved around explicating a quote by Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Man is born free, but is everywhere in shackles.” Ha. Poor old J-J, …born free, as if. Just now I wanted to use my scanner to post a picture of me when I was about 26 months old. In the picture, I appear to have recently woken up from some kind of nap; I am dressed as Pagliacci — perhaps I slept in the clown suit, although someone must have just put the pom-pom’ed hat on my head seconds before the camera shutter opened. I’m standing on a table, and to either side of me stand two of my teenaged sisters. They are looking at me, obviously engaged in taking care of me, while at the same time they’re holding in their hands pieces of traditional Carneval “doughnuts” (actually, even though they’re baked like doughnuts, there’s no hole in the middle and instead the thing is filled with jam). The camera has caught them both in the act of chewing, although their gazes are intently fixed on me. I’m not looking at them, however, but rather at something off-camera, and I can only deduce that it’s the plate with the remaining bakery treats. I want what they have, all of what they have — their youthful vitality, their teenaged energy, their nubileness, their sweets — and my left hand is pointing, my gaze is fixed, staring past them, off-camera, at a very invisible object of desire, mistakenly assumed to have turned into deepfried dough dusted with icing sugar.

But I didn’t post the picture because I couldn’t do so without having it take up the whole page. I can’t seem to size pictures (make them smaller, etc.) when I use the ‘Pictures’ function on this blog. Hey-ho, doesn’t matter really.

With any luck I’ll get around to responding to recent comments tomorrow. For now, just remember: ceci n’est pas une “doughnut.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~
Update, Sept. 9/04: I realised that I could export my scanned pictures to iPhoto, which, when I export again from that application, allows me to scale the images down. Resolution is lost this way (exporting twice), but it’s an adequate work-around. Hence, here’s the picture:

Holidays here and there

September 6, 2004 at 6:29 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

It’s Labour Day in Canada, too, but one thing that really stands out for me is how differently holidays are celebrated in the US and Canada. Perhaps it’s a West Coast thing, or perhaps it’s an “island thing” (the laid-back culture), but you could miss every single holiday here easily. The only exception is perhaps Christmas, and that’s mainly because Victoria plays the tourist shtick and likes to put on an elaborate fake-Dickensian fake-Victorian “season.” In the US, at least on the East Coast, on the other hand, it was impossible to escape the memorialdayness of Memorial Day, the labordayness of Labour Day, the independencedayness of Independence Day (Canada Day, on July 1, is invisible in comparison), the thanksgivingdayness of Thanksgiving, and so on and so forth. It has something to do with commercialisation — all of these holidays are an excuse to sell homemakers, hosts, and other social animals (mostly women) all sorts of decorations, gadgets, food items, party treats, etc. — but it’s also the case that entire clans if not towns take these celebrations incredibly seriously. Children are marshalled into parades, adults are dragooned into barbecues, parks are pressed into service for mass lobster dinners followed by fireworks. There is nothing, absolutely nothing comparable, in Victoria. In one way it feels great — no pressure — and in another it’s weird. It’s like the old joke about the English: “no sex please, we’re British.” On holidays, everyone around here seems to become British and makes sure that their hair is tightly tucked under their bike helmets as they sternly make their way toward greater physical fitness by biking the entire stretch of the City’s scenic route, twice. Neighbourhood barbecues? Beer in the park? Nuh-uh. At least not within 10 km of where I live. On another note: I’ve put my blogroll on a separate page. (See bar at right, “The Blogroll page”). Trying to clean the look up a bit.

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