A cultural day today. January has begun. I feel like a shallow tree with my leader in the clouds, roots scuttling the earth looking desperately for good soil to bear down into. Instead these old shoots are reaching out, forever spreading in search. In search of what? Je ne sais pas. Don't spread yourself too thin. Okay.
Writing feels strange today, the well of wit and cleverness feels empty these days (a lack of connection makes me scour the dark and sleepy neighbourhood like a dog in search of a bone), the dipping pail hitting the bottom repeatedly (a dull rhythmic reminder of a hard year on the homestead). Coming up empty, coming up empty, coming up empty. Empty or non, it feels good to write. 2011, another year of letters. This is an open letter to myself, for anyone. Three years in the making. I began writing while living on Wellington; openly, publicly, knowing people may or may not fall upon it during the roaring Myspace era.
After Wellington, I moved into a beautiful home on Jessie, my first home alone. Two great years there, bookended by two European excursions and one bigtime broken heart. After a great many experiences in between then and the bush, I found a new home on McDermot in the golden studio. That was a GREAT home. Great friendships, great laughter, great music, great pop ins, great resourcefulness that comes with living on nothing. Smith House with Mitch took off like shot and back into the bush I went, wailing. Then came time to pack with equal parts sorrowfulness and hopefulness. Montreal opened her arms to yet another wanting anglophone and another beautiful home was made at the Ghost House (complete with a ghost). Now a quick home on Dollard which is more of a resting stop than anything, and soon a new beginning on Rue Clark.
There are one hundred things to pen at once and fluidity is gone. I should drink more water.
Auntie Marj continues to be wept for, missed tenfold, millionfold. I carry her with me. Great crashing waves of grief come and swallow leaving no room or enthusiasm for stories. She was the storyteller of all storytellers. The simple idea of trying to pick up a scrap of her legacy makes me tired. Hollow. Empty. Why bother. Now I am just mad she is gone. But what good is anger. No good.
--- L - I - N - E - B - R - E - A - K ---
Brain break. Heart break. Line break. Because sometimes that is all you can do, make a break for it.
Moving right along at the breakneck speed I live by. Back to my cultural day. First, a quiet breakfast. No, before that, a slow and warm wake up with my girl Lila beside me (finally calm after an insane crack-of-dawn hallway marathon, my cat is incredibly strange and also quiet), followed by a morning shower (dead rare for this dark bather), then came the breakfast of oatmeal and coffee with a fast textathon between 37 weeks and a bit along Tiny Moms of Winnipeg and myself (not quite as good as bellying up to the same table, but good all the same). Both of us sipping coffee in between the punctuation. Toasted tuna sandwiches and shitty soup (I want beef borscht please) for lunch and then three hot metro rides to the Centreville to see the Otto Dix exhibit at the Musée des Beaux Arts.
Okay, new paragraph for Otto Dix. For the french, because it sounds better, "Que celui qui a des yeux pour voir, regarde!"; and for the english, because I cannot actually translate and comprehend the above on its own (yet), "Those who have eyes to see, look!". This quote by Otto Dix greeted me as I stepped through heavy black velvet curtains into a red world, the light of the grey tree-filled atrium clipped off in a second, and on the other side of that instant, a new world completely separate and foreign to the one I am only beginning to know. The exclamation mark at the end of regarde/look sealed the deal. I knew it would be a good exhibit, and it was. The show was also PACKED to the tits. Closing day, how exciting! A line to enter the museum as long as a Winnipeg block.
A quick admission, there are few things in life more thrilling to me than weaving through a packed gallery armed only with a pen and paper. Crossed arms, annoying bangs. Human pawns we were, Dix would have been psyched! I went straight for the watercolors, having heard they were incredible. The watercolor works did not disappoint. Neither did the giant oil paintings, the copper etchings, the chalk and pencil drawings. Sailors and prostitutes, smeared mouths, aureolas (Lisa), green eyed doctors, breastfed babies with scary faces, watery curtains with blue stripes, Dix's sure lines filling four, five, six rooms! I lost count after falling into that river of art after the black curtains. Great hands, long necks. Upon entering and weaving a good fifteen feet in, there was no choice but to walk through a long looming barrack of stacked wooden beams, rough hewn, giant nails. It gave such a sense of depth and feel, what must that have been like, barrack living? War. Art during the time of war. What would that have been like to watch an entire life's work destroyed? I can hardly articulate the feel of the show, it was something powerful, special, fleeting. I won't bother to try, because it do it justice.
I walked around and around, words slashed into myself, into my paper, burned in in an attempt to remember the feel of it. A quote clipped out of a white lettered paragraph block pasted to the wall, a simple line explaining one of Dix's many motives in terms of capturing his many sitters: Emphasize their idiosyncrasies. And then another, straight from the horses mouth "In 1939, I completely withdrew. I took refuge in the country and painted and painted. I didn't want to know anything about the war. I only wanted to be in peace", a quote by Otto Dix.
It was quite something. Then I ate a tonne of Burger King and missed Erin a lot.
While walking it off, an underground theatre that Jillian had told me about rolled into view. Dissatisfied with the Hollywood hoo-ha showing downtown, this tiny theatre happened to be showing 'Breathless', a Jean-Luc Godard film. Perfect. No cup holders, no previews, no credits, just the film in all its black and white splendour. What color were Patricia's lips I wonder. We'll never know.
Ten rolls of holiday film are coming. Ten rolls of Montreal, Winnipeg, the country, the woods, the car, the North End at magic hour, the quiet morning in the new snow before leaving for home. I don't know how to begin writing about Christmas or the turn of the New Year, so I won't. Maybe it will come yet.
Year of the Rabbit, fast and soft, I hope.