gucchi, prada, coach...?

so we started out early, early enough that on vancouver time i would only be about half way through my sleep. i would be lying if i said it didn't feel that early, but i was eager and ready to go. last night we had got to reading articles on chamber street, the beginning of chinatown, where vendors hawk there wears often aggresively with an emphasis on immitation brand name handbags and watches. most of this market has been driven underground and the article warned that if solicited you may be taken down some back alley to view the goods. m was excited, neigh he was chomping at the bit to try. an adventure he said, something to talk about. i was leery, tired but also a little intrigued. so off we went on the subway, chinatown our desitination.

it is worth mentioning that on the subway three kids got on with a ghetto blaster (and i believe that in this context ghetto had a whole new meaning). they proceded to break dance and not in a "i am not sure i know what i am doing i just want your money" kind of a way but in an "honest to god back flippin, handstandin, right in the subway" kind of a way. it blew me away and i kicked myself for not getting my camera out immediately and video taping it.

so here we are on canal street and it is overwhelming right off the bat. everyone is wearing black north face jackets, a see of vendors standing on corners, flashing catalogues. name brands are being whispered all around us. i am too scared. we continue on and i get a coffee, my spirits slightly renewed. i knew that m wanted me to make the first move, he was looking for a thrill but he needed me to drive the car to get there. i also knew he probably wouldn't leave until i gave him what he wanted. the next person who asked i said the magic words. show me.

we were walking now, down a long alley. i thought maybe it would be around a corner, just out of sight. but this was far, far enough to make you question what you were doing, far enough to feel dirty and illicit and underground. after a 5 minute walk down what can only be described as a rundown back alley we arrive at a steel door, she tries the handle but it is locked. she pulls out a cellphone and makes the call and moments later the door opens, we are ushered inside.

naively i thought that i would find a store behind the door but all that was there was a freight elevator and a boy standing in the corner, we stepped inside and the outside steel doors shut, our guide on her way back to the street, on the search for more customers.

the elevator takes us down, down, down and it starts to get hot, uncomfortable hot. once we hit the destination the door opens and we step outside, unguided we work our way down a long hallway towards a lit space and find ourselves in a room not 5' x 7' with 4 other people and the vendor. the walls are lined with the promised goods, most hideous and blatantly branded. you know the bags, everyone seems to have one. this wasn't about the bags though this was about the experience.

i knew i couldn't leave empty handed though, not after all that and i have been needing a bag anyway, mine long since falling apart. i perused the fake leather goods lined walls and settled upon a "prada" bag, black with buckles and pockets. it isn't the kind of bag i would normally pick but i feel i could pull it off. $30 handed over and back into the elevator we go, this time once we hit the top we are led out another door, the back way and once again we see the light of day. our adventure has been had, our mission successful.

we headed to soho after that and had some lunch, walking past nyu and washington square we once again got on the subway and returned home in time to quickly change clothes and head out to the opera. samson and delilia. it was ok, i was a little sleepy and the place was filled with new york upper crust which can leave a bad taste in the mouth but we were in a box which was interesting. box 10 to be exact, each box had it's own door and coat room for your belongings. at 3 hours and 10 minutes though i was glad to be out of there.

tonight we went took a cab to a bosnia restaurant in the garment district, nothing like back home cooking to reminisce about the good old days. of course i couldn't understand a word of it but i enjoyed my ghoulash none the less.

walking home we wandered through times square and i played with the camera. the wind was howling and people's scarves were blowing, hats sailing. there were thousands of people crowding the streets, out for a show or just to see the lights. it was overwhelming and annoying at the same time. i was glad to finally make it home into the warmth of this tiny apartment and rest my feet.

who knows what tomorrow will bring.


what exactly is a new york minute?

today we went to j&r electronics which may be the largest electronics store in the world. for those of you that know m you may thinking "oh no! how much did he spend?"...nope got out of their pretty easy, just a couple pairs of headphones...phew.

went back and had lunch with mom...mmm nothing like mom's cooking. then headed out to moma (museum of modern art...free on friday nights and everyone in manhattan came out for the event..or so it seemed!) and then on to ethopian for dinner in hell's kitchen. afterwards we walked through time square and then to rockefeller centre. there was skating and lights and action, but mostly there was cold. lot's and lot's of cold..with a little bit of wind thrown in for good measure. brrrrrrrrr.

now we are home and tired and it is time for bed

goodnight, sleep tight and then something about bugs...


i want to be a part of it

so why the hell don't i live here? i think i need to come up with a better plan.

for those in the know this is the house a & l are house sitting at and i think that they are two very lucky ducks (thanks to l for the photo).

heading out in the morning, i will have the computer and the camera so maybe some updates will happen...or maybe i will get a life, it is new york after all.


these vagabond shoes are longing to stray

i am going to new york on thursday and i am starting to get excited


assignment numero deux

I was at the Juan de Fuca Rec Centre in my hometown and it was Friday night. Teen roller-skating had a beach theme that night and despite the fact that the temperature outside had dropped; everyone was there in bathing suits, the heat turned all the way up. The crowd moving fluidly around the oval rink.

I was with some friends and the lights were low, nothing but a disco ball hanging from the ceiling and rainbow specks on the wall from the reflecting light. The three of us went and changed into our one-piece suits, mine was purple and slightly faded from the chlorine in the pool. I didn’t even like the colour purple but my mom had insisted because it was on sale. I always wished it were green, neon like the brightly coloured headbands my friends wore to school. I was young, not even officially a teen but I loved roller-skating. I didn’t even think about the fact that I was only 11 when I agreed to go. But when I stepped into the rink I knew I was in over my head.

There must have been a hundred people, maybe more and they all seemed so old. I knew they couldn’t be more than 15 but these weren’t girls, these were women, each of them in a two piece suit: brightly coloured flowers, neon plaid, scenes with palm trees and coconuts. I stood there completely still in my one-piece purple suit. “Oh come on, lighten up it will be fun” my friend Angela, always too confident for her own good, shouted in my ear and with that she was off. I followed her, afraid to be alone. I wished I were invisible. Cory Hart’s Never Surrender was blaring on the sound system and my skates moved to the beat. I closed my eyes and followed the sound of Angela’s voice.

After an hour I decided to take a break and skated off towards the concession. Angela and June followed and we sat on a cold metal bench eating long strands of licorice. An older girl whom I recognized from my brother’s grade approached me “Hey! How are you guys doing?” I knew the other girls were envious that an older girl knew me but I tried to act like I didn’t notice. “Pretty good, the music tonight is awesome huh?” “Not bad, hey so did you guys know that there is a swimsuit competition tonight? I think you should enter, it would be pretty bitchin if someone younger beat out Melissa Chance, everyone says she is going to win”. I felt excited; she thought that I had what it would take to beat out Melissa Chance, the same Melissa who smoked cigarettes in the back of the high school, and always had a date on Saturday nights. I felt my heart beat a little faster “Really? You think I would have a chance?” “For sure you would, sign yourself up; there is a sheet by the speakers, all my friends will cheer for you!” She skated off.

It was just the three of us now and Angela was the first to pipe in “Come on you have to, it is our big chance to show them we exist, can you imagine how cool it will be when you win? Everyone will be talking about you” She was already skating towards the speaker smiling at me. I followed close behind, I still wasn’t sure if I should stop her. I looked around at the sea of bikinis, took a deep breath and printed my name.

Three other girls had signed up for the contest, including Melissa and when the music stopped each of our names was called. I stayed back and watched as each of the contestants skated to the front, one girl had hot pink skates and ponytails, another long blond hair perfectly straight and smooth and then Melissa with her auburn curls and perfect tan. Angela pushed me and my skates began to move, the crowd parting as I rolled to the front of the room.

We were instructed that each girls name would be called out and the crowd was to cheer for their favourite. I panicked, what have I done? I looked at Angela and saw her enormous grin, she mouthed “you’ll do great” as she swayed back and forth in anticipation. Whoever received the loudest cheer would get the prize.

The first girl's name, the blonde, came over the sound system. She stood tall and proud, and the crowd loudly cheered her on. There were boys in the front row that whistled and shouted her name. She laughed in a flirty way and waved at the crowd. She spun only once on her skates and then settled back in the line. From the corner of my eye I saw people laughing, I was convinced it was at me. Fingers were pointing. My face was flushed and hot. I waited. Melissa was next, she pulled out of the line, her suit was the perfect shade of lime, and it made her skin look like honey, her smile radiated in the faces of the crowd. I panicked, I knew I was next and I couldn't bear it. I was certain that no one would make a sound. I had no business being in a bathing suit contest, I still took swim lessons at the pool. What had I been thinking?

The crowd was roaring now and it was clear, Melissa was who they wanted. I looked into the crowd, scanning the faces for Angela but she was nowhere to be found. My heart was pounding, my jaw firmly clenched. From the corner of my eye I saw the older girl, the one who had encouraged me earlier. She winked. The joke was on me. I was humiliated. No one was going to cheer for me. I couldn’t do it. I gave up. I skated as fast and as hard as I could out of the rink. I heard people yelling "don't go" but it didn't matter, the course was set, I ran it through.

Moments later I found myself sitting in the locker room with my head in my hands and wishing I was somewhere quiet, alone, relaxed. It was my first taste of true failure. It was awful. I heard the music start again, louder than before and I knew the contest was over. The girl with the hot pink skates and ponytails came in shortly after and asked why I left. Through sobs I told her I couldn't do it. I was humiliated. She sat next to me and said "don't you see? You would have won, it took such courage to get up there, everyone saw it."

I called my mom to come get me and sat out on the curb shivering while I waited. “Where are you going?” Angela asked when she found me. “I think I need to go home” I muttered. “So did you hear, that girl with the pink skates won. You should have seen the look on Melissa’s face, still it would have been great if you had won, I really think you would have, everyone said so”. I turned from her then, stared at the neon sign across the street and began to cry.

All this for a chance to win a hair dryer.


i am a dreamer but then i wake


student res - tara (robson) says:
ok so the plan is to write a story today while sitting here idle. i have been staring out the window for last hour and i can not think of a story. i think i am trying to hard. how was class?

Admissions - Paul says:
so horrible

Admissions - Paul says:
i wanted to leave at 7;20

student res - tara (robson) says:
oh dear

Admissions - Paul says:
i didn't mind it when we were editing actual writer's first drafts..but we went over those horrible stories and the people were so dumb and i hate discussions anyway...and i started wondering if i could open my veins with my pen

student res - tara (robson) says:
the patchwork postcard stories?

Admissions - Paul says:
so, that Patchwork Postcard story...this one women stared to say how the main character was the "pulse" of the town and on and on

Admissions - Paul says:
finally the teacher said...what were you reading?

student res - tara (robson) says:
ha ha ha

student res - tara (robson) says:
nice to see he slammed it though

Admissions - Paul says:
there was a third story from a doctor...didn't make me cringe...but we are going to be doing more peoples stories..more crap..and discussing..i can't do it

student res - tara (robson) says:
did you say anything? was it a lot of back patting or were people brutal and honest? did anyone cry?

Admissions - Paul says:
no, people were very nice

student res - tara (robson) says:

student res - tara (robson) says:
so you didn't say anything or did you make some shit up like...ummmm yes nice use of the horse...or i like that part in the middle where you ummmm say stuff?

Admissions - Paul says:
though, the horse story people struggled..and when the "writer" said that her broken ungrammatical sentences were supposed to be "poetic" people pounced

student res - tara (robson) says:
ha ha...nice. poetical. jesus christ lady you're killing me

Admissions - Paul says:
then the instructor started taking about humanism

Admissions - Paul says:
and one guy talked about phenomenolgy vs poetics

student res - tara (robson) says:
oh geez here we go

Admissions - Paul says:
and i talked about wanting to kill myself

student res - tara (robson) says:
so that was it, the ship has sailed?

Admissions - Paul says:
so horrible

Admissions - Paul says:
then i started thinking in the middle of the class how i was probably as delusional about my writing as these sad sad people and the rest of the class was even more painful

student res - tara (robson) says:
oh come on now

student res - tara (robson) says:
you are no patchwork postcard

student res - tara (robson) says:
and i take it you still haven't handed yours out?

student res - tara (robson) says:
well i don't know. it is a fine line. i mean if we aren't learning anything then what is the point. i can't even motivate myself to write anything, the problem is that some time ago i decided i would no longer be a quitter cause my whole life i was one and i hated it. so now if i stop going i will feel all tangled inside. but i might get over it. still...sigh

Admissions - Paul says:
do an msn story

student res - tara (robson) says:
the problem is whenever i think of a story i want to write it is sad and i don't want to write another sad story, i want to write something funny and light.

student res - tara (robson) says:
what is that?

Admissions - Paul says:

Admissions - Paul says:
just cut and paste our dazzling conversation

student res - tara (robson) says:
ha ha...classic

student res - tara (robson) says:
and people will say wow! rivetting and inventive. i liked the voyeuristic aspect of it

student res - tara (robson) says:
like i was really inside your head


when they came down from heaven, smoked nine to seven

phew...it is finally the long weekend. well for me anyway.

this morning when i woke up the sun was shining on my face and when i stepped outside in my spring jacket i noticed for the first time the spring bulbs poking out of the dirt. i know tomorrow when i wake up i will be feeling guilty and there will be this overwhelming need to go outside and "do" something...but what? tonight it is north by northwest and take in thai..i will let tomorrow take care of itself.

came upon this today, maybe you know it? if not be careful it seems to be making me positive and optimistic about life which goes against everything i believe in. enjoy.


into the light we start again

I am sitting on a cold metal table.

Steel reflects from overhead mirrors. The fluorescent lights illuminate faces, somber and pale. My skin is alive, exposed and raw. I lean over and slowly the needle enters me. Breathe. In. Out. This isn’t happening. Pain reaches inside and pulls me back. I look around frantic. No one smiles. No one is saying a word. Tick. Tick. Tick. The machine keeps time with the rhythm of the baby’s heart.

I am lying stretched out now and my hands, they begin to shake. Slowly at first, almost unnoticeable, but soon they are convulsing, slamming the table on their descent. My mind races, I want to go home now. I have had enough. Someone whispers “this is normal, try and relax” in my ear. When I turn to see a face all I see is my husband alone and scared huddled next to me as we wait for this storm to pass.

I don’t feel the blade as it enters me. Relief. The ticking of the machine is drowned out by the sound of suctioning. My husband stands up, his hand drifting along my cheek for only a moment. I try to listen for the sound of breathing. I know that if I can focus on the sound of just one breath, I will find a place of connection. I find it. I focus. It doesn’t waiver.

The commotion has begun now. It’s a girl. There is no time for celebration, everyone is frantic. I try to speak but my throat is silent. I lie there and cry. As I close my eyes I see a campfire and trees. I smell rain. I want to be there in amongst the pines drifting with my thoughts. But I am not. “Would you like to touch your daughter?” I am here. My hand reaches out and touches the bottom of her foot, so warm and small, my fingers barely reaching the table on which she is laid. No one is looking at me; they all have their gaze fixed on the wall, the floor, their hands. I realize that I am not alone. My pain is drifting, landing on those that surround me, engulfing them.

We are moving now, down long empty corridors, through swinging doors, into elevators. This is another room, there is a clock here. 6:52, we missed dinner. I wonder how the cat is doing. I am thirsty, so very thirsty, but I am not allowed any liquid. There may be ice; it may be ok, just not right now. Right now I stare at the clock and think of the breathing. We are alone in here now. For the first time we look at each other, frozen in a stare we are lost, confused, scared. The minutes pass into an hour. We don’t say a word. There is a curtain pulled around the bed but no one else is here. The silence is thick and tangible. For a moment I forget where I am.

There is one more room to visit and the scratch of the wheels from my stretcher mark our departure. We pass familiar faces on the way, each of them trying for a smile, each of them wiping back tears, feigning strength. I want to tell them it will be ok. I want to hug them and tell them that soon it will be the way it was. The way it was supposed to be. But I only stare and then we are gone.

As we approach our final destination, we are greeted with the deafening sound of machines. The walls here are painted pink and blue and yellow, there are balloons stenciled all along one wall. It is cheerful and alive. Then I see her, all of her, for the first time, tubes and suctions holding her in place on the tiny table where she lay and all I see is grey. I freeze.

She is sick, very sick, too sick to make it alone, too sick to grow old, have friends, fall in love, too sick to ever leave here. She will never know real balloons; she may never even open her eyes. There are choices to make. Advice is given; words like chromosome, aorta, lobe and spinal are thrown around the room. They bounce off of us and land on the floor. My mind has been lost completely now, I am merely an observer in this scene. I nod when asked a question, I agree with everything the team of specialists says. I need this to be over. I need to rest my head. I need strong drugs to take away this pain in my abdomen, put me to sleep, help me make it through this moment.

The tubes come out and she gasps. In a room with a couch and sink we hold her. My mom sings happy birthday as she rocks her back and forth. My brother cries in the corner, afraid of the words bunching up in his throat. I want to yell. I want to get up from the stretcher and run through the halls. I want to say something to her, something before she goes. I only have this one chance and all I can think of is “stay”. Please just stay. But I don’t say it. I know she can’t. So I hold her one last time and kiss her cheek, the cheek that is now growing cold and I whisper goodbye. Her time of death is 10:57.

Four days later we pack our clothes into a bag and put on our jackets. It is time to leave. Our ride is here, outside waiting to take us back to the apartment. All we carry with us is emptiness, our hands, our hearts. I am having trouble walking, the pain shooting down my leg. My husband helps me and together we hobble out the door into the light.

We start again.


the other side of the equation

well tonight was my first short fiction class.

i arrived on time, ok i was 2 minutes late, it was the first class i didn't think it would matter much one way or the other. as i walked in i saw the old desks with the arm outstretched awaiting my writing pen and i felt worried...would i fit? i slowly lowered myself into the seat as the names on the list were called and luckily i made it in. barely. mental note, this maybe be a problem in 6 weeks. bridges and crossing, time and place. we'll see if i make it that long.

that was foreshadowing. we didn't learn about foreshadowing tonight. tonight was about character development. a picture was placed on the stark white board and we were instructed to write out point form adjectives about the character. i heard him say adjectives, it soon became evident that maybe others did not. i wrote down 6-7, i didn't give it a lot of thought. i worked all day, this is the first class. i forgot to warm my brain up on the way and i was expecting something a little more...relaxed? as i thought of further "adjectives" to describe the uptight somber mean looking man on the board my mind began to wander to the 17 other people in the room with me. why are there so many? why are they all so young? why does that girls pin say i heart my vagina? i sensed something as i looked around. maybe it was the furious movement of pens next to my stagnant utensil but i felt confidence in the air. it made me nervous.

so the time was up, the pens put down and we were told that he would go around the room and write down the responses with temporary ink on the expansive white surface at the front of the room. we should find that our responses overlap here, we should find some common denominators we were told. but life seems to always be full of surprises for me. first batter up sits up talls and states i am sorry but i think i did the exercise wrong. oh? yes i wrote more than adjectives, i think i got carried away. that's ok, please tell us what you have. i think he was a russian philosopher in the 19th century who collected old oil paintings of fruit stills and loved to play the harmonica. his favourite jacket was tweed with a slight patch worn on his upper right sleeve from the time he helped his son with whom is he is distant move his wife and baby girl who is cholic into their new apartment on west 57th avenue. i am laughing, well more like smiling broadly. is this for real? we had 3 minutes to write stuff down and she knows his whole life story? oh well she is confident and loves her vagina, she is an anomaly. next? he collects rare orchids which he tends to with care in his greenhouse he built from scratch, despite losing a hand in the war, right after his wife died in a tragic car accident. they had fought on the phone only moments before. gulp. next? he frequents the astoria on park avenue where the bartender always knows his drink but has never known his name. next? he is russian and comes from a military background, his friends call him bull and he only smokes cuban cigars and drinks 20 year old scotch. he bets on horses on the weekends without his wife knowing, he is frequently unfaithful. next. next. next.

me. did no one understand this? should i make some flowery shit up as well or should i give my adjectives, dare i be the only one that blurts out stable, successful, prudent, difficult, unlikable....i had a moment of pause and then i thought to hell with this. i said my peace and it was documented on the now overflowing 6 column long board. as you can imagine the overlapping was sketchy at best. everyone had some fantasy this guy lived in and it would seem impossible that they could overlap, considering there were no adjectives. i sat back and thought to myself, what have i done?

so you think this would be it right? i mean how bad could it get? next he explains that the exercise was to make us look at the obvious (ummm i am not sure that worked..none of that was obvious to me, it wasn't obvious to anyone. did he sell flowers or bonds? did he have kids or was he gay? everyone was undecided) and that in fact we were now going to write a 1-2 page story about the sheet of paper at the front but we were not allowed to include any of the descriptions on the board. as you can imagine this is a tall order considering the fact that he was perhaps every nationality on earth, well except for asian although i think one person said he lived in hong kong and did every profession possible. so what now. and did you say 15 minutes? my brain takes that long to boot.

so i panic.

am i going to have to read this aloud? will we each be singled out to present our 15 minute pieces of glory. i spent the first 5 minutes thinking about how i could get out of this. the next five convincing myself i can do this and the last five writing a story about an old retired man whose wife signed him up for a short fiction class so that she could get him out of the house on thursday nights. in classc he felt inadequate, desperate and completely ill equipped. the man in the picture became the man in the story who out of incompetence became me. the math on this was easy and it all added up to shit.

then we took a break.

we all came back and i got the distinct impression that i may have been the only one in the room worried that we may have to read these aloud. everyone looked almost as though they wanted to. i was determined that my response would be "i think i'll pass, but thank you" if i was called upon. luckily it never came to that. in fact very little was said about the story again. instead we were all handed a photocopied story that he is fond of, it was a nice little ditty about hippapotomuses and a sick aunt. it had punch and poignancy and wit. we never discussed it just read it aloud and then we were told to write a story for next week that comes from a personal experience for which we have an emotional attachment.

only next week will prove what we have to do with it.

maybe i should have taken a self help course on confidence first, or at least learned how to love my vagina. hindsight. 20. 20.