dimanche, avril 15, 2007

How to understand this blog

Ok. So I've had this blog for a while now, but I just realized people somewhat could use a little instruction on how to read it, as it is mostly anarchic. Well, here are a few tips on what the hell this blog is about in the first place. Consider it like a "FAQ" if you may, although no one ACTUALLY asked me anything.

Ok, so that's a good one. I'm DJ Mums, a female undergrad student in ESL teaching in University Laval. ESL means English as a Second Language. I'm not an actual DJ; it comes from an old inside joke. I suck at anything that has music in it. I speak French as a first language, so that explains the awkward syntax every now and then. I like to think it's somehow cute. This is pretty much the first time I ever "publish" anything publically, if you don't count random writing contests I never won in high school. Unfortunately, as you can see, I'm no famous writer writing crap under a different pen name just for the hell of it. Sorry if this is any disappointment to you.

Ok so I'm trying to mostly write short-short stories that are all related although they seem very anecdotic and pointless. I sort of write them as they come so the order is somehow messed up, and some of them are kind of apart, either because they were written way before, or because I just felt like it. If you actually want them to make some sense, here is a suggested order for reading:
Prospero Never Knew Winter
Sugar, Spice, Snails and Dog Tails
The Sushi Episode
These are the "original" Urban Occurences. There should also be one before Prospero and another one after Moonwalking. They are still drafts but don't expect them any time soon. Most of the other ones are only rants about how lame love is that finally end up making you realize it isn't that lame after all. My somewhat romantic side I guess.

You don't get the point of the Urban Occurences? It's ok, I'm not too sure about what they mean myself. What I know is that my main message is mostly that the character is not aware of the possibilities that surround her. But eventually, at every occurence, it comes more and more obvious to her that the only limitation she has as a human being is her own inertia. And this simple constatation is enough to make her happy. That's it. You might want to overanalyse them if you wish, I sort of like doing that myself with other people's work. If you do find something tell me so, I would like to be able to explain it better one day.

jeudi, mars 29, 2007

Prospero never knew winter (Poem Version)

For a school assignment I had to write a poem. And as I am ridiculously lazy right now I just decided I'd turn the first short-short story of this blog into a poem.

‘Twas a nice day today
The sun gave me heart attacks
But I felt ok otherwise.

Light Therapy.

No one was around but the sun
And an old man raking leaves
In the Desert of Suburbia.

The first snow day had passed
Not too long ago
But the snow had failed covering the grass
Although fall was gone already

No more orange leaves, no Halloween, no nothing
But the grass
So lively under the snow,
So crisp under my feet

Then it hit me.

Across the empty park,
I was surviving the immobility
Escaping the frozen time

And then I thought that
If The Prince had ever felt that alive
His quest would have been futile

I purposely paused, then kept going

And I knew it was going to be a good winter.

mardi, décembre 05, 2006


So you've been to Montreal this weekend? Good for you.

Oh, me? Nothing much. I went to the moon.

It was freezing cold the other night, and I had the wrong shoes. The shoes I can't wear my orthesises with.

I hate those things, I really do. When my parents told me I had to wear orthesises because my knees were ill-shaped, I thought the world would be ending right THERE. I know, no ones gives a damn if you have a piece of blue foam in your shoes... but still, for a 10 year-old it's terrifying to know you can't walk straight without them. So anyways my parents had to convince me that they were some kind of space gear for me to accept the doom of being the idiot who can't walk properly. But now I'm kind of used to them. With time they were not only THE stupid cork thingies in my running shoes, they were MY stupid cork thingies. They're part of me, and I miss them when they're not around.

(I was being highly figurative here).

The only good thing about orthesises is that they are like an extra sole to my shoes so they insulate my feet from the snow and the cold. Of course, when I'm not wearing them, they do no good. And it was the case today. I was strolling down the street and I barely had time to notice the cold before my feet were completely frozen. It was a weird feeling: I was walking, but I wasn't feeling the impact of each step I was taking or the shape of the ground beneath my feet. It was exactly as if I was sort of... disconnected. And then I started thinking that it was probably how one would feel if he was walking on the moon.

I wasn't there in July 1969. I was not even a project. But like everyone I eventually saw with amazement the blurry black and white images of the first steps on the moon by Armstrong and Aldrin. At the time, it did not come to my mind that it was the low gravity on the moon that was making them walk like that.

To me, it was all because of their space suits.

I thought that the more "cartoon-like" you looked, the less the laws of physics were applying to you. Thererfore this was why scuba-divers could breath underwater and volcanologists could go so close from lava... theirs suits had no real protection purpose: in fact, they were turning them into "unreal" people, hence helping them escape their human contraints.

But what about MY space gear? Could that make me able to walk like astronauts? I raced home, changed my shoes and went back out. When I judged that I was in an appropriate location for my experimentations (a nearby soccer field), I stopped and tried to jump up a bit. Meanwhile the cold had gained my toes and feet again. If I hadn't had my eyes open, my frozen feet would have completely messed up my spatial orientation. I looked around. No one in sight.

I started bouncing from foot to foot across the field, trying to reproduce as accurately as possible the astronauts on the moon. And then it happened: I could walk just like them! My assumptions were true: each step was taking me higher and higher as if I had no weight at all. Laughing hysterically, I spent a good 10 minutes jumping over and over again, nearly flying over the frozen ground, then I paused, listening to my slightly heavier breathing. It was enough. I had seen what I wanted, I had proved what was to be proven. I started walking back home and went in.

As I was taking off my running shoes, I glanced at MY cork thingies with a smile, then went to get the daily bad news on TV.

jeudi, novembre 23, 2006

Sugar and Spice, Snails and Dog Tails

What's one's identity?

I mean, can someone really define themselves by the things they wear, the music they listen to or even by their last name or the country they're from?

Personally, I think the answer is "fuck no".

The best way you can get to know a person is not to learn every detail about their life: it's to figure out the many little things they like. Think about it: if you know what can genuinely make someone happy, the rest is just frou-frou.

The other day, I was in the bus and that guy sat in front of me. At first, from the corner of my eye, I thought I knew him from some distant friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend connection since his face seemed familiar. But as I took a closer look, I figured out he was not the person I thought and that he was in fact a complete stranger.

There is nothing more disappointing in life than realizing you don't know someone, and especially this guy.

As the bus was swaying from one side to the other, I caught myself staring at him. What if this guy was, by some extraordinary coincidence, the person I was suppose to meet in a couple of years and that would eventually become the most important person of my life? The purpose of my existence? What if he was THE one? This thought swinged around in my head just like the bus was doing along the street, and it eventually became scandalous to me that I did not know this guy yet...

But being me, I did not start a conversation with him or anything of that kind.

No way.

It was much more fun to imagine who he was. So pushing my staring at the edge of looking like some psycho, I started deciding who that guy was.

He was a student, of course. You could tell by his apparent youth, by the way he looked sanely decadent and underconcerned. But what else? What little things made him incredibly satisfied with his own existence? So I came up with a whole bunch of stuff:

He liked smiling at strangers just to see their reaction. He liked cooking cheese omelettes and staring at cakes as they are rising up in the oven. He liked walking barefeet on the asphalt of his driveway when the sun warmed it up in the summer. He liked writing with a brand new pen and drinking tea with honey and lemon on cold november mornings. He liked singing at the top of his lungs while taking a shower. He liked doodling while talking on the phone. He liked remembering the name of a song he's been looking for for many days. He liked skating on outdoors skating places. He liked getting mail. He liked helping lost tourists. He liked putting on his favourite sweater when it just came out of the drying machine. He liked waking up on time by himself without an alarm clock. He liked ice cream runs at night and watching old pictures.

He also liked making up all sorts of crazy scenarios about people he saw in the bus.


The guy's took his knapsack and rang the bell to get down to his stop.

No need to notice which one.

The Queen's Burden

There was a day when I was the Queen.

You know, when you feel like there's a halo of light all around you when you walk and you can feel yourself smiling without any particular reason? When it seems like the doors open themselves ahead of you and people stare in surprise at your passage because you shine all over them and they can feel their faces warm up as you glance back at them?

Maybe you never felt that way. That's probably because you are royalty too. Usually, you never realise you are before it's gone.

Some day, I came back to my kingdom but instead of graciously stepping into my domain, I solidly banged my nose against the gate. I don't know how it happened exactly, but the next thing I knew is that all I had to offer to the people I met was a cold hand and a nosebleed. And passerbys would look at me without even pity. They just wouldn't see me at all. It was god damn hard and it lasted a long while. Long enough so I would forget how it felt being warm.

But I never got used to being cold.

I was strolling on my own when I saw the King. I did not recognize him in the first place. Maybe it's because he was followed by all sorts of people I didn't know. Maybe it's because there was a Queen at his arm whose face I never saw before. Maybe I was the one who was different... Anyways, he went to me and smiled... and deep inside me I felt that for half a split-second he did not only glow back. He actually saw me.

Don't get me wrong: no, that did not turn me back instantly into the queen I was. Not even on a long-term basis. But my hands felt just a little warmer... so I could start opening doors for myself.

So to all the kings and queens of this world, I ask you, I beg you: shine back.

It's your burden as royalty.

The sushi episode

Speedwalking has its inconvenients.

Of course, you get here or there faster than the average pedestrian. But your chances of having an accident greatly increase if you're walking very quickly. In my case, my walking speed increases exponentially as the distance gets longer, and this adds to my natural accident-prone condition. I know that shit happens, but it just happens abnormally often to me. I always wondered if I could get tax deductions from that somehow... but it's not the topic of this occurence.

That day things seemed to go pretty well. I walked at a fairly quick pace and nothing had happened to me yet, which was as itself an event of great rarity. In fact, for once, the city seemed like it actually wanted me to take a walk: I would not trip on anything, the pedestrian go-light would always be lighting up as soon as I got to an intersection, there was no rain pouring out of the blue... So I was happy with my desicion to go for a walk in the hip part of town.

Yes, the hip part of town.

Because not only I felt confident enough that day to go for a walk by myself; I also felt kinda cool. You know, when you walk along the street and you see your reflection in the passingby buses and you think "woah, I look awesome today". Well, it was one of those times. So I had a feeling my place was among the hip-chic people from that ultra trendy street with all the fancy specialty grocery stores and the designer boutiques.

So here I am, strolling down the oversized sidewalk, singing in my head some kind of "attitude song" to pace my calculated steps.

I've never been cool. So acting like I am the most rich and fashionable person in town is an activity I always found very entertaining and exotic. Anyways. As I was enjoying my imaginary almost famous status, I got in this part of the street that goes in some kind of a slant right in front of the windows of a sushi bar, the Zen Carp.

There it was.

The very first frozen sidewalk of the winter. The dreadful ennemy of any clumsy walker, i.e: me. And of course, despite my momentaneous over-coolness (you know you're cool when you start coining words to describe yourself...), the flat soles of my to-be-changed-4-years-ago Converse shoes lost their grip on the concrete and I landed on my bum right in front of the Zen Carp's bay-windows. Fortunately, although I am extremely accident-prone, I very seldom really hurt myself badly. Like those cartoon characters that come out of being slammed on the head by a huge anvil with just a bump on the head: I had nothing broken, except of course my ego, who was good for intensive care for the next decade.

As I stood back up and brushed away the snow on my coat, I noticed the astonished look of that guy eating a huge plate of nigris on the other side of the window. Apparently, he saw my embarrassing stunt and was wondering how I managed to survive. I guess every cartoon character needs a 7 year old to look at him get hurt... But as I was carefully (and painfully) starting to walk again down the street, I started wondering why he looked that upset.

Imagine you are a trendy late-twenties dynamic and successful publicist. One lunch time you go out with some co-worker to try the new sushis they have at this place a couple of friends mentionned at your last dinner together last weekend. So there you are. You just got your whole plate of carefully ordered sushis (chef's choice and discovery plates are for amateurs), and you're on the edge of taking a huge bite... then SLAM!!! The open hand of a girl hits the window by which you are sitting... besides the fact you almost choked on your pickled ginger with surprise, the incident has something very disturbing. Whoever was there, she slipped completely outta sight as soon as you turned around. Then all of a sudden , it hits you: her tapping on the window was a call. A call to you.

As a kid, you always were terrified to go to bed at night because you thought that throughout the night people might forget about you and then you'd disappear without leaving a trace: your existence was relying on the fact people knew about it, that there was always someone thinking of you somewhere, somehow. This girl was someone everyone forgot about or no one remembered... and right there, in front of you, she disappeared forever... realising what was happening, in a desperate last attempt to be seen, she tapped the window, hoping you'd notice her and see her... but you failed. You did not see her face: you were too busy eating stupid raw fish. So it hits you like a slap in the face that it's entirely your fault... that you are a murderer... that you ignored the fact that you were the only person who could save her, and you let her disappear...

This lasts about three quarters of a second.

With a closer look you realize quickly that your victim is an early-20's girl with a long coat that fell on the ice... you almost fell there yourself when you entered. As she stands up, her blue eyes meet yours. She's alive.

Love is all around...not.

I hate.

I hate cats. I hate stairs. I hate people who leave only a few drops of milk in the carton and who put it back in the fridge thinking no one will notice it, cause I DO. I hate bills. I hate heatwaves. I hate people who go in the 15 articles and less row in the supermarket on Thursday nights when they are perfectly aware that they have more than 30. I hate mosquitoes. I hate door-to-door salespeople. I hate people who write with a pencil that makes noise in stressful exams. I hate camera flashes. I hate pigeons AND pigeon feeders. I hate people who so-call themselves rebels because everyone does it. I hate ferrywheels. I hate traffic jams. I hate people who let their dogs leave a little present on the sidewalk and who pretend not to notice they do so. I hate people who call dog shit “little presents”. I hate so many things, there are so many things I hate.



I hate light, I hate darkness. I hate heating, I hate air conditionning. I hate crowds, I hate being alone. I hate loud noises, I hate silence. I hate religion, I hate people who say they don’t believe in God. I hate school, I hate work. I hate routine, I hate surprises. I hate cheating, I hate people who win all the time. I hate liars, I hate people who are too honest. I hate vegetarians, I hate meat-lovers. I hate idiots, I hate the people who think they know everything about everyting.

And, more than anything, I hate people who hate everything…

And when I look at all this hate, because of course there are 5 999 999 999 other people in my case, I wonder why we hate so many things, and how we can deal with all this without choking ourselves with our own passion to hate everything that’s around…. And then an idea comes up in my mind… maybe we are actually choking…

Then all of a sudden, I remember I hate asking myself questions…

I hate.

Oh, and did I mention I hate cats?

Prospero never knew winter

"To see a world in a grain of sand
And Heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour"

- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence-

After Poe, it's my turn to dust off and re-use a Shakespeare character in a story. Remember Prince Prospero? The dude who impersonated man's tragic flaw in Shakespeare's "The Tempest"? If you don't, we'll basically he's just a guy who thought he could control fate by being more clever than death and time passing, and it's precisely what killed him.

So today I was walking back home from the bus stop and at some point I had to cross this small park. Because there is no more budget to re-build all the stuff that was broken by vandals, this park turned in the past years into some kind of blank empty space. And since all the kids from the neighbourhood progressively grew old and left for the new residential developments to have kids of their own, the park is dead silent, all day, every day. So it's some kind of mini-Sahara: an empty patch of grass in the middle of nothing but bungalows and old men raking leaves.

But today, it was special. First of all, it was the first sunny day since forever. After such a long period of rain and shitty weather, mid-afternoon sunlight hits you so violently when you go out that you feel like you're gonna have a heart attack. But it feels great after you got over the first shock. It was also one of the first real snow days. Somehow it's such a relief after a long period of dark, short cloudy days to be surrounded by white. Light therapy I guess. So basically it was a good day.

But where's Prospero in this whole story? I'm getting there, just wait.

So I was walking across this empty space half-covered with snow and the sun was still fairly high but you could already feel this kind of "well, that was a good day" feeling you get sometimes when the sun sets. And all of a sudden I noticed it: the grass. It was still there, under the snow, still dark green and yet completely frozen. As if time had stopped. As if overnight as the snow fell down, summer just stopped its course. No fall. No orange or red leaves. No Halloween, no nothing. Just green grass covered with snow. That's when I started thinking of Prospero.

I suddenly noticed the fact that the only thing that could move, the only thing that did not stop in the picture, was...me. I was surviving the immobility, the frozen time. It was such an empowering feeling to be aware that I was speed walking through a completely still and empty landscape, that it came to me that if Prince Prospero had felt this, if he had been conscious of being alive in such a clear way, attempts to win over fate and death would have become futile. He would have known that in fact, he had the course of time in the backpocket of his Levi's all along. I purposely paused for a second in the middle of the park, smiled to the soon-to-be-set sun and kept walking.

And I knew it was going to be a good winter.