Left and Leaving IV

The next in my series of farewells is not to person, but a place.

I have been to dozens of cities, states, provinces and countries, but my favourite place in the world isn’t Paris, Galway, London, New York or Montreal. My favourite place in the whole world isn’t very big or very far. Our family cottage is about 25 minutes from my parent’s house. I’ve been going there my whole life, and even before I was born. My mom’s been going up for her entire life, and my grandpa too.

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This chair in the living room of my cottage is my favourite place in the whole world. From that chair I’ve watched spring turn to summer and summer to fall. I’ve cuddled in blankets in the winter, I’ve covered it with water and sand in the summer. I’ve sat and watched storms move across the lake through the window and listened to the steady rhythm of rain on the deck. I’ve watched birds fly from tree to tree, I’ve listened to woodpeckers and grasshopers.

I’ve celebrated almost every birthday and even a few Thanksgivings. I’m told that once, when we were little, we were there for Easter, but I doubt I was allowed to sit in the chair.

In that chair I’ve read some of my favourite books. Ever since I learned to drive, I would escape up to the cottage at the smallest oppurtunity. For the day, for the week, for just a few hours. And I would curl up in the chair and read. All day. I would forget to eat or move at all. I love spending time with family and friends at the cottage, but my best memories are from the times I spent there alone.

It was pouring rain on Saturday, but I opened the sliding doors so I could hear the rain and smell the water. It was cold, I needed two blankets just to keep from shivering. I had a new book to read, and several hours alone. It was the perfect farewell to my favourite place in the world. Not forever. There’s no way I could stay away forever. But for a while, because I won’t be back next summer.

Someday, I’ll take a summer off and live up there, while I write my first novel. Or maybe my second, because that’s probably the only way I’d be able to afford four months of not working. I would love to live up there - it’s perfect, so beautiful and a Starbucks less than ten minutes away.

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Guest post!

Hello, pets! I have something planned for later today, but for now please go check out my guest post at A Day in the Life, my friend Lisa’s blog! Lisa is an American currently living in London, and I’ve been reading her blog for quite awhile, and thoroughly enjoying it. How could I not, when her blog title is based on a Beatles song? I told you she was cool. She’s on vacation this week, so of course I jumped at the chance to try to fill her shoes over at her blog.

So go read my guest post! And then look around at her beautiful blog!

People of the Book

I have been struggling through this book for nearly a month. It’s not long at all, it’s just that I found it less than thrilling. Maybe that’s my fault - I mean, is anything thrilling after a vampire Viking in lycra? No.

Anyway. When I read Geraldine Brook’s Year of Wonders, I found it quite compelling. The characters were sympathetic, the setting was intriguing and the plot was capativating. It was only that the end was pretty odd. So when I saw her new book, People of the Book, at the store, I figured I would enjoy it. It’s about a woman who’s restoring an old Jewish manuscript that’s survived centuries of war and persecution.

It wasn’t as exciting as it sounds. At all. I very rarely give books a bad review, but I really didn’t like this one much. I found the characters very flat and not at all compelling. The book was very well researched, but I found that Brooks tried to continuously show just how well researched it was. She added in facts more as a list than as details important to the plot or setting.

Geraldine Brooks is a journalist writing fiction. To me, she writes like a journalist writing fiction - too much fact based and not nearly enough emotion or literary flare.

This being said, most readers probably wouldn’t notice this - and I didn’t notice it in Year of Wonders. But I’m trained in journalistic style and I know it when I see it.

People of the Book got a lot of really great reviews and it’s acclaimed almost everywhere. But there wasn’t anything in it that spoke to me at all. It was, at best, interesting.

Left and Leaving III

My life has a soundtrack. Music is, and always has been, a powerful force in my life. Because of this, some of the most significant bonds I form with other people involve music. I’ve dated people before who didn’t like music in any way, and I always knew that it wouldn’t work out. It just means to much to me, and someone who can’t understand that I don’t think would ever be able to fully understand me.

For my birthday this year, I asked my friends to give me something that I could take with me, that reminded me of them.

Laura Laurent gave me music. Three beautiful mix CDs full of songs I didn’t know, songs I loved. And I’ve been listening to them ever since. I have more than a dozen new favourite songs, thank to Laura.

Laura Laurent isn’t her real name. Well, Laura is. But Laura Laurent comes from the Bright Eyes song of that title. We’ve always shared a love for music, and Bright Eyes was a favourite.

Do know we’re in high demand, Laura,
us people who suffer?
Because we don’t take to arguing
And we’re quick to surrender.

But you should never be embarrassed by
your trouble with living.
Cause it’s the ones with the sorest throats,
Laura, who have done the most singing.

In high school, I did a series of photographs of Laura that I titled Laura Laurent. It was my first time working in a studio by myself. Laura’s a photographer too, so it was more a joint effort than anything else. It was one of my favourite photographic projects. I really loved the result, because it was about both of our creativity.

If I had to define my Laura Laurent in one word, it would be ‘creativity.’ She’s so incredibly talented at so many things - she’s in a New Media program and she always creates such beautiful and interesting things. We shared our misery in first year, at Carleton together, and I’m proud of her for turning around and leaving, going to do something she acutally liked. Something more worthy of her creativity.

It was fitting that we spent our last night in Ottawa together at a 1920’s themed Carnivale. It suited.

Laura left for Toronto today, to live with Kaitlyn. I’ll miss my Laura Laurent.

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Hipster film

Dear Urban Outfitters,

Until I walked into your store this week, I had no idea that film was now cool. Here I was, stuck in the past, thinking that digital cameras were everywhere and paying $16 to get my film developed. Little did I know that I could walk into your store and buy a camera that was new in 60s. But I guess that’s vintage now, right?

I looked down and saw a Blackbird, and I was surprised. Cute, sure, made of plastic with a top view finder. At least it shoots 35mm film, which despite the failing film market can still be processed at your local Loblaws or drug store. For all the old fogies out there who never learned how to use digital or kept trying to throw away their memory cards after one use.

But then I turned around and I saw it. The little package I used to dread in my years of loading film. The 110 film. The film that required loading into a special canister in a darkroom. You have to actually break the plastic into pieces and pry out the film. The film that I always left for last when printing, because it required changing the mask and recalibrating our printer.

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Now you have all these hipsters out there shooting 110 film on plastic toy cameras. But let me ask you one question: How are they going to get this film developed? At the time my dad’s photo store closed, we were the only people in the city who could print 110 film. Now there’s no one. Maybe in a bigger city you’d be lucky to run into someone who actually knows what 110 film is. I bet most of those kids who work at the Loblaws photo counter would have no idea.

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I’m all for going back to our roots - I still love shooting the occasional roll of film. But everyone abandoned the film processors of the world years ago. And because of that, the industry is almost dead. Because people were all too happy to shoot a million digital pictures and never print a single one. Because now the average suburban family has as many dSLRs as children.

So you’re too late, Urban Outfitters. Even your loyal hipster following can’t revive film.

I still love your dresses though,

Hez