Saturday, November 28, 2009

This time last year I was in Albania. Probably the capital of. It's crazy to think about now. On the brink of finishing our Euro leg of the trip. In fact, Albania doesn't even fit in my idea of that. I believe it was the only European country we visited that isn't actually in the EU. And, not only that, a long ways from it. I felt like I'd discovered the Eastern Europe I'd been expecting. And it was awesome.
The entire time we were in the country we ran into only one other traveler. An incredible distinction that I don't think I can claim from any other country. He was a little British ex-office guy who'd suffered some sort of mental stress breakdown and decided just to travel. His route was interesting, if not altogether efficient. He was just on our bus on the way out and got left at a road that was supposed to lead to Macedonia. I hope he held onto the freedom he must have discovered en route.
Originally on the ferry over we started talked to another Brit who was settled in Corfu (a beyond beautiful island with creepy empty hostels in November). An older lady. She noticed Megan reading her bible, and immediately got excited. "Greetings in the Lord!" And all that. Somehow we invited ourselves to the church service she was on her way over for. Amazing hospitality. We met (and attended the service of) a pair of missionaries who were very interesting to talk to regarding the state of Albania. Most cool, we ended up staying in the house of an Albanian pastor. His daughter spoke passable English. Still, there was much we couldn't say or understand. We struggled with the typical culture where this educated girl sat around home all day in her pajamas doing the dishes and waiting to get married. Despite freezing in the unheated guest suite (we never did figure it out) we enjoyed our stay.
This would prove to be the hardest part of Albania. I guess they think they're far enough south that they don't need heat.
Writing this post is making me remember culture. Or, rather, the lack of understanding that goes with traveling in a new one. Everywhere we went there would be things I didn't get, ways I didn't know to act, stuff I just couldn't follow. And I know that even if I integrated with any other society there are just indelible tattoos of my own culture that I could never back out of in order to comprehend the route of thinking many others take. It, quite simply, doesn't make sense to me and my western mindset.
We walked around everywhere we went and, overall, felt extremely welcomed! Going for dinner was often difficult since every cafe seemed packed with men. But it's a man's world. Especially once you leave our modern western life. But bakeries made for amazing, cheap eats.
Once we entered a restaurant and ended up eating at a wooden table with two random guys. They spoke a spattering of English. I'm convinced one of them was more then a touch tipsy. Entertaining and awkward. My favourite was the chef, a regular village men putting his best effort over the open grill directly behind the counter.
I can't even explain. No one will understand my experiences. And this frustrates me.
Discovering back streets you could imagine you were the first pushing into this little curtained off world. We had learned to say "thank-you" and "how much". Two extremally useful phrases. I bought a hand-knit, hand spun sweater vest for about five bucks. The lady from the little stall was so excited that I actually bought it.
Tirana was like stepping into any capital. It doesn't quite function like the rest of the country. But was still a very very long ways from NYC, TO, or London. It was personal. Meg and I would walked most of the city at night with our little LP map. Not once did we feel threatened, or like we ought to turn around. Not bad for a capital at 10:00.
We didn't have enough time, as always. Still, I have a taste for a country that I don't remember knowing existed before Megan said, casually, on an Italian train, "Let's go to Albania." An absurd idea until we made it happen.
It's true, there are little mushroomed shaped bunkers everywhere. It has a deep feeling of ex-communism and an East Europe village. A simple complex life.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ok, so what? Am I supposed to learn not to run away.? Face things? Deal with relationships?
Seriously, is that so worth it? Or is it something else?
Why is it so much easier to just leave? Why is that so wrong? What's wrong with saying, you know what? There's about five people in this town in my age group. Nobody gets along with me all that great. I'm in some stupid little box, and maybe I'm judging everyone else. But there's nobody that calls me up and says, "Hey Kris. Let's get coffee and talk for a bit!" Two good friend who seems to enjoy hanging out with me. One's leaving town again.
So there you go. I'm frustrated.
I went to a dance party. And it was fun. But it was a dance party. For, like, a seventeen year old. My littlest brother was there, and he was about as close to the average age as I was!
And it was fun. I had fun. But partway through I was like, Dude! These guys are my younger friends little siblings little siblings. Sometimes four times little siblings!
There are places I want to go. Jobs I want to try. People I would love to see again. Friends I'd love to make.
Ok, so I'm whining. I'm being passive. And I'm leaning on the crutch of saying I tried and it didn't work. So, am I supposed to decide that I'm supposed to be here? And if I am, is it wrong to want to leave?
I have a car. I have a course. I have a family, and I love them lots. I have people who aren't mean to me, despite the impression I may give on here.
But it's just so frustrating. Especially when you didn't plan to be here, and don't want to be.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

They tell me smell is the strongest sense linked with memory. This is sometimes hard for me to believe. At least until I happen across a soap that smells like a Mexican laundromat or a scent that reminds me of my childhood friend's house. But the times when I'm eating hummus on pita or listening to a rooster crow, having my hair played with or when I catch a glimpse of a stranger's eyes shockingly close to an old crush's, it seems as though though senses are at least strong competition.
Music is such a amazingly easy link to times in my life. Some will evoke specific feelings. For years a particular RS James c.d. reminded me exactly of laying on my top bunk reading Trixie Beldens. A first song on a Audio Adrenaline cd still can make me feel like I'm sixteen, waking up at 5:00 to hop on my bike and head down to an orchard.
More often the feelings are less specific. Arab music brings about an emotion in me I can only rationalize belongs in the Middle East. Whereas a call to prayer would transport me directly back to a Turkish hostel and all that time bore. Doubtlessly hearing hindi pop will remind me of the colour and life of India that defies description. music Quebecois managed to lodge an appreciation in me through Katimavik. Several songs will draw back direct feelings of walking the house, the fun, the discovery of Quebec... But mostly when I type Les Cowboys Frigants or Mes Aieux into YouTube I quite simply get subtle indicators that I was somewhere that taught me to do so. Country music is the soundtrack to this smalltown, whether I've bought into it or not.
So many feelings. Such a vast vast array having passed through my life. And so many millions I've never even discovered. How to fit as many as possible in? One life? How can it possibly be enough? Can anyone else know the exact feeling of climbing to the top of a maple tree on a clear morning and shivering in cold loneliness? The rush of losing control at the top of a stunt bike jump in the middle of a cow pasture? The warm glow of pulling off cold boots and moving towards the fireplace after a frustrating milking? And what about what I haven't experienced. Sex, piercings, skydiving, academia, intoxication, hunting, China... Even the ones I avoid. The ones I don't want...
I suppose there must be a cap on it somewhere. Maybe they're all just simple variations of ten base emotions. But I'm not even aware of the intensity of what I'm feeling until I'm reminded of it.
What will it be? The feelings of being a lost 23 year old blogger listening to flyleaf?

Sunday, November 08, 2009

I need to get out of here. Or do something. I am going moderately crazy. I knew it would happen. A sad combination of not wanting to be here and not having any point or productivity.
Yesterday I grew restless. Left behind on a Saturday night. I got in my car and started to drive with no point whatsoever.
I sobbed my way into town. I'm not lying. Because as anyone would know who knows me, I wouldn't lie. Well, in general, but particularly about that. I don't fully understand why I was sobbing. It helped.
My car took me down the lake. That window's down, picnic and camping gear stowed road. Rain dripping down my windows and the countless corner signs looking more menacing giving the slick wet black of the roads.
The civic handled beautifully.
I ended up at our favourite summer beach. The waves sounding through the window.
Somehow, it was a good decision.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

I'm in the middle of Who do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro. I have read quite a few affluent Canadian authoresses over that last year or so. Excluding the apparently immortal Margaret Atwood. A purposeful omission.
But now I have strayed from my point. And maybe my point can spread quite broadly throughout all modern female writing. But it seems to me we've swung towards a trend of dismal "realist" female based novels that do anything but inspire and, indeed, seem to strive towards another outcome. Love affairs that neither excite nor have you cheering for the couple. Career pursuit that seem far from fulfilling. A life span of dreary, striving and anti-climatic failure of endings.
Every novel seems a study in depressed feminism. After slogging through 500 pages of overweight heroines and dull colours I'm anything but enlivened.
I'm actually not quite sure what they're trying to do. Create characters I might associate with? Prove that they're anything but silly romantic women? Cause sufficient scandal to get published and reviewed?
I have also discovered Ayn Rand this last year. What and excellent, intelligent, enlightening middle ground. Depressing in type, but absolutely non-pointless.
Why can't we have more of this? Why the swap from heroines wearing flimsy white muslin and torn between charming lovers to ones in wearing clumpy mascara and stuck in droomy marriages?
I'm tired of it, myself. I'm sure publishing houses get in funny, thought provoking, or uplifting material. And maybe some of it is more then that paperback fluff they publish once in a while. I know we, as women, are capable of writing better. Why do we esteem the heavy extreme? If we want to bring women to the forefront we would be wise to leave our malfunctioning liberated types behind, and embrace a woman with actual struggles, joys, and accomplishments. And, you know, maybe she could be happy once in a while.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I should change this blog's name to "lost in the middle," or some such thing. It seems as though that's been where it's sat since I started up again. The true adage, we blog when we've no life to blog about.
So the new mini twist on the girl who had a life and lost it. (because a full twist would denote something exciting. Something turning this story around. Therefore, we may not call this a twist, but I will take the liberty of throwing it in there with a preceding "mini")
jobless 23 year old living with her parent's buys car. Actually, I could try to put my usual negative spin on this. It would be quite easy, actually. But I won't be bothered. Because I love having a car! I have missed having a car! And it's been a good three years. Time doesn't ease off!
So I'm again driving a civic hatchback. A little newer this time. A lot newer, actually, then I am. It's drives nice. It looks nice. And it should be as reliable and cheap as any other civic we have ever owned (there are currently three in the family!).
Anyway, on the down side, I don't have a job. Do I want one? My old restaurant is hiring. But it's for evenings and weekends. I specifically didn't want to give up my evenings and weekends this year. I missed my last winter at home.
I actually don't even want to be here. I really don't. I'm still stuck in the middle. Now what?