Friday, January 30, 2015

The Thick of It

The heart of winter - we are in it.  The Xmas decorations have come down, our xmas lights hang mournful and unlit in the window, waiting for a warm day when we can take them down.  *Edit: we just flicked the switch last night and turned them back on again!  Huzzah!  Casa Dotytron-Lagerfeld - leaving our Christmas lights on until April, since 2010.  Bits and pieces of our life strewn around the house, in a holding pattern because this renovation is taking a million years (which I guess makes sense when your contractor works a solid, 8 hour work week on your job?!).  It's unremittingly cold outside and the worst kind of winter cold, too - the kind with no snow!  What's the point of winter without snow?

Truthfully, I don't mind.  Our lives have been busy and full.  One might say too busy and full, really.  Weekend visits, hosting, the return of extra curriculars in our lives, made possible by the age of the babies now mitigating prospective babysitter's qualms.  The Dotytron went to a weekly neighbourhood jazz jam last week, I went to a Board meeting on Monday and hit up Quilt Sunday at a Parkdale sewing shop.  We hosted some friends for dinner Sunday, hosted a Friday PA day Micelli Monday session...we are happy, fulfilled.  Did I go to bed at 9pm last night?  Yes.  Was I lured in part because I'm reading a corker of a book?  Yes.  See?  No complaints.

Except for how I was verbally threatened by a psycho on my way home from picking out the basement flooring.  I might have cut a guy off (but I'm not sure?), he leaned on the horn, I gave him the customary gesture one does, he stopped his car in front of mine (in the middle of the road), got out, and started banging on the window the my car and saying all kinds of rude, racist, sexually graphic things.  It was terrifying.  He looked like Bob from Twin Peaks.  He was probably mentally unhinged, definitely had anger management issues.  I took down his license plate and have been meaning to call it into the police non emergency line.  I wish I had pepper spray in my car, I would have sprayed his eyes out.  I don't understand why people (men) think it's okay to say certain things to people (women) in anger.  Like, why go there?  It reminds me of the "appropriate" responses we're constantly trying to inculcate in our children - like, the Big Yam now will (sometimes) say, "I'm SO MAD AT YOU RIGHT NOW!" I totally get that response.  People and strangers can make you mad.  If the guy had said, "You cut me off and I'm SO MAD AT YOUR RIGHT NOW!!!" I would have been like, fair enough, you're entitled to feel how you feel.  The level of detail and sexually charged violent undercurrent is not cool.  The galling thing is he took down MY license plate number (!)

The upside is that we picked out our flooring?  *Weak laugh*  We have decided on a white ash looking laminate.  We went back and forth.  Our architect recommend vinyl flooring.  They have high end vinyl now that looks like wood, comes with an acoustic backing, is virtually indestructible and 100% waterproof.  It's also kind of pricey (the good stuff is, anyway).  It's also plastic, at the end of the day.  The laminate we chose was 1/2 the price of the vinyl, and really, the basement is going to be for our personal use - it's not super high traffic, it's not a rental, we're not a condo building, so it's okay.  The waterproof argument is specious to me.  If my washer malfunctions and floods the basement, sure the floors will be okay, but it's not like I'm not going to have to replace drywall and all the other business, right?

We chose something that looks like this:

It's a white ash.  I wanted something neutral, light, and airy for the basement.  It's a basement, it doesn't get any natural light (only the bathroom and the bedroom down there will), so I wanted something that would contribute as much as possible to making the room seem expansive.  It has a slight grey wash to it, without being aggressively grey, and the floor doesn't have orange tones, which I like, because those orange tones just remind me of that awful 80s/90s parquet flooring that everyone had.

This is kind of the feel I'm going for, without being quite so stark and overtly Scandinavian/Helmut Newton-y.  About 75% less Helmut Newton.  And Helmet Lang.  LOL!  It's going to be warmed up with brass and warm wood, and big fluffy rug, and colourful throws, and oh yeah, a million kids toys and pieces of lego crunching underfoot.

This week I played a bass clarinet that the Dotytron brought home to practice with and we watched the movie Birdman and last night I went with an old friend to see Miranda July interviewed by Sheila Heti:

The average median age of the audience was about 25 and everyone looked like they had just slouched out of an Urban Outfitters store.  I was in my work clothes - black & white ikat print dress over a black turtleneck, tan belt, forest green (what my friend KD calls my "Masters" green blazer) blazer, and forest green tights, with black boots - I think I looked like I had slouched out of an Anthropologie - so one step up!  Probably more like I slouched off the Modcloth webpage.  Oh well.

Sheila Heti is the editor of that book Women In Clothes which I haven't taken a look at yet, but is all the rage with the McSweeney's set.  She's generally all the rage with the McSweeney's set.  I haven't read any of her work, but I'm thinking of suggesting her novel, How Should A Person Be? for the next next Academic Book Club.  It's described as "...A raw, startling, genre-defying novel of friendship, sex, and love in the new millenium."  It's a mix of memoir and fiction and apparently features graphic, uncomfortable sex scenes.  Like Girls meets The New Yorker.  I think it would be a good hate-read and at least engender a fruitful and spirited discussion.  I suspect the book will infuriate me and I won't find her a good writer, but that's part of the fun, isn't it?  Book club is never good when we read something beautiful and affecting and unimpeachable.  I read a critique about her much-lauded Women In Clothes project that takes the editors to task for featuring mostly white people.  Heti herself sports the misguided baby bangs of Janeane Garofolo circa Reality Bites.  Also, she's not young.  She seems nice - she smiled shyly at me when I passed her at the venue.  She makes for a horrid interviewer though.  Apparently she and Miranda July are quite close friends, but you wouldn't have known that from their interaction.  It was quite stilted and awkward.  Heti's questions didn't really seem to go anywhere and July's answers kind of spun off into nothingness.  I was like, guys, did you not go over this in advance?!?  Come ON.

It's always interesting to hear artists talk about their process and I did enjoy Miranda July's first film, You Me and Everyone We Know.  I also read her first collection of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, when it first came out, but was unmoved by the writing at the time.  That being said, she wasn't a very pithy speaker.  It was all very airy and floaty, words floating above their heads without coming down to ground on anything concrete.  She talked about a performance art piece she does where she auctions off items' belonging to members' of the audience and then gives the accumulated money to the person in the audience who "needs it the most" at that very moment.  I found it an interesting take on the fluidity of capital.  In that vein, I accompanied my friend who got her book signed and so I had Miranda July sign the paper bag that had held my kathi roll dinner and I'm thinking of putting it up on ebay.  The Dotytron and I had a conversation about performativity and capital afterwards which means that the talk wasn't for naught.

Heti and July referenced Tavi Gevinson so I think that's all you need to know about that.  I admire Tavi but I will also say that her performance in the film Enough Said was the worst element about what was otherwise a sweet, naturalistic, grown-up movie.

I'm glad I went.  I like going to things like that.  It is inspiring and gets me thinking, which I need.

Otherwise, I'm knitting a cowl that is the first knitting project that I've worked on in some time that has excited me.  Perfect for winter.  This is the yarn I'm using - the softest, squishiest, delicious yarn in my collection at the moment:

I tried my hand at free motion quilting for the first time using a fancy-fancy machine at the Workroom and I FELL IN LOVE with the process.  I'm going to try tackling it at home with my perfectly serviceable but not as bells-and-whistles-loaded machine.  This quilt is for the Quincess.  It suits his personality, methinks.  

This is a latin-style "porchetta" sandwich and a shrimp po' boy from a sandwich shop (Sully's) that opened up recently in the 'hood.  These were pretty good.  The fries there are tasty.  I would go back but I'm not about to rave about it or insist you travel across town to check it out.  So don't do that, okay?  You can do whatever you want, but don't blame me if it doesn't live up to the hype.  I'm not hyping it up.

A Spanish chorizo, tripe, pork belly and chickpea dish I had in the freezer, served atop polenta with a fried egg and gremolata.  That's good stuff, folks.

Classic weeknight meal - pasta with sausage, chickpeas, and kale and parm.  The babies have been jerks lately and are only eating the pasta.  It's not good.

See?  Look at how much attitude I get during a single dinner!  By the way, that "Waof?" Lindsey says while pointing upstairs is his way of asking for a bath.  Lately, he's been pretty good about saying "puh" and then pointing upstairs at the bathroom AFTER he's already done the deed.  We are so close to a breakthrough, but it eludes us yet.

Busy weekend ahead.  Heavy agenda ahead of eating burgers and fries and chocolate pudding with salted caramel, chocolate crumbs, and whipped cream, and watching movies with the boys, tonight.  Saturday is the Big Yam's day of activities: Chinese school, then ballet, then hip hop.  Meanwhile, the twins have inexplicably been invited to a birthday party (!)  Sunday is family chill time and then Super Bowl which for us means eating ribs and nachos and baked potato skins.  All in all, forecast is calling for a pretty cozy weekend in.


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