April 26, 2007
1. If you were given a one-way airplane ticket to anywhere in the world, and had to stay there indefinitely, where would you go?
Italy, without a doubt. Specifically, a little house in the country (with its own vineyard and olive grove) located halfway between Pisa and Firenze. That's where my great-uncle lives. I didn't even know he existed until we went to visit a decade ago. My father died when I was 10 years old, and his whole family lives in Italy. So, after he was gone, I felt entirely cut off from my heritage. His family felt like a bunch of strangers who lived a world away. And, because my family here in Canada is not very close, I didn't know what it was like to be part of a huge, loud, crazy family until I went to my Zio's place. There were at least a dozen of us around this big table under the grape vines, eating homemade pasta and drinking wine (also homemade) that had peaches picked from the tree in the backyard sliced into it. It was one of the most amazing feelings, that feeling of belonging, home, family...I can't wait to see them again this summer.
2. What is your favorite non-fiction book? Why?
A few years ago, the book Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris changed my life. Not exactly a book you would expect to do such a thing, but it did. I had joined an alumni book club at the urging of my favourite professor. I really didn't want to join, but she had done a lot for me over the years, so I wasn't going to say "no." When it came time to choose the books for the year, the Sedaris came up, advocated strongly by one of the other professors in the group. I had never read any of this author's work before and from how he was describing it, I thought it was a stupid choice. I mean, it didn't really sound like literature, and how were we going to discuss it? But, I had already gotten two of my choices (Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood and Life of Pi by Yann Martel), so I didn't think it was my place to complain.
When it came time to discuss the book, I was right. The discussion wound down in less than half an hour and dissolved into people talking about their favourite parts of the book. On the surface, it didn't really lend itself to literary analysis or a meatier discussion. But the weird thing was that when I had read the book, I had noticed several themes, different perspectives that had intrigued me. I had spent some time developing them in my head and analyzing Sedaris, his psyche, his style. I opened my mouth, and the words just started tumbling out - a detailed literary analysis of this work, a perspective no one else had come up with. Everyone just stopped and stared at me, intrigued. I kept talking. I wasn't sure what I was going to say, but the words kept spilling out, the connections being made as I was speaking. I had been out of school for years, but the experience made me start thinking about how much I loved literature, discussing it and analysing it, made me realize that this was something I missed having in my life.
Two weeks later, I ran into my favourite professor again - she stopped me and said, "I can't stop thinking about what you said at the meeting that day. You made me look at that book and that author in a completely different way. I went home and told my husband about what you said, and we ended up rereading it and discussing it from a completely different perspective...You should teach."
She's always been my hero, so hearing her say that meant everything to me, and also confirmed what I already knew I wanted to do with my life. I asked her to be my thesis advisor on the spot and applied into the MA program the next week.
All because of David Sedaris. Who knew?
3. What is your worst vice/bad habit?
This is a tough one, because I don't have anything really obvious. I don't smoke or drink or overeat (I have to qualify that last one with an "anymore"). I wish I could say my vice was exercise, but you have to actually do something on a basis resembling regular to make it a "vice", right? Superstar has been trying to figure this one out about me, too, because he's got a vice that I don't agree with, and he wants me to have one as leverage. We had a discussion the other day that turned into this:
Superstar: I was asking my friends their advice on coming to a compromise about this whole vice issue and they asked what your vice was. I said, "I don't think she has any. She's pretty clean living - doesn't drink or do drugs or smoke." And then...I figured it out. I know your vice!
Savia: And what's that?
Superstar: It's sex! You just don't know it yet. But I bet you any money that's your vice.
Wishful thinking or Superstar intuition? I guess only time will tell. (Who am I kidding? He's got me on that one.)
4. Pornography.....yay, or nay? :)
How about both mesmerized and disgusted with it? Sometimes I get sucked into watching those porn "documentaries" on Showcase on Friday nights. It's like a train wreck - hard to look away from the mass of flesh on the screen. I hate the degradation and as someone who was sexually abused at a young age, I have strong feelings about how these images encourage the mentality that women are nothing more than objects intended for the pleasure of men. (Twisty just wrote a very good rant on this topic, if you're interested.) If I knew a guy were really into porn, it would definitely affect my opinion of his character. I remember going to a friend's house for a party and he had porn playing on his television, on mute, the entire time. It was hard not to look. I hated both myself and him.
5. Do you believe in soul mates?
I'm not sure that I always did, but recent events have made me sure that they exist. And it doesn't even have to be your life partner, you know? I think there are people that are meant to be in your life - you just haven't met them yet. But when you do, you just know. I had one of those moments with my friend Musically Speaking. We haven't even known each other for two years, but you would think that we have been friends forever. Our meeting is etched into my memory. I was at the first rehearsal for a musical and didn't really know a lot of people in the cast. I saw the back of Musically Speaking's head and got really excited for some reason - willing her to turn around, twitching with anticipation on what she looked like. The moment she turned, she gave me the biggest smile and I gasped inside my head and thought, "That's my friend!" I had never seen her before in my life, but I just knew that this was it. We were inseparable almost instantly after that, like two elementary school girls, picking each other as partners for all the dance numbers, clinging to one another and giggling our heads off. I'm sure everyone else thought we were whacked in the head, but we didn't care. We had found our kindred spirit (and, as lame as it sounds, she started calling me Anne (with an "e") and I began calling her Diana of the Lake of Shining Waters. Yes, we are too fucking cool.) I'm looking foward to being her maid of honour this fall as she marries her soul mate, Orpheus.
I think our soul mates are out there - we just have to be open to meeting them, be willing to take chances and follow that little voice inside that pushes us out of our comfort zones and regular, restricting patterns. As with everything in my life these days, I think it ultimately comes down to being fearless and surrendering yourself to the unknown.
April 25, 2007
He has a last name. He has a neighbourhood. He has a wife, who also has a name. He has children. He has friends who think he is a really great guy and feel sorry for him because he took it so hard when his mother died.
None of these people know that he molested a four-year-old girl 27 years ago.
I hadn't heard that name for 15 years. I kept my tone as even as possible and forced my face into a mask of neutrality. There were a million questions I wanted to ask, but I only asked one, to make sure it really was him she was talking about. It was.
Part of me had always wondered what happened to him. If he was still in the city. If he had children. If it was only a one-time thing or if he had done it again and again and again. If he ever thought about what he had done and regretted it. If he ever looked at his own children and realized how horrible it would be if anyone did to them what he had done to me. Or even if they were his latest victims.
I'm not really sure how I made it through the rest of the morning or lunch, but I managed, and then got the chance to go to my room and be alone for awhile. But I really didn't want to be alone with my thoughts, because they were coming at me so fast that I couldn't make much sense of them. I didn't know what to think or what to feel. I tried to call Schmutzie, but she wasn't there. Then, I tried Superstar, who must have been on his phone, because the voice mail picked up right away. As soon as I put down the receiver, I got several sharp pains in my stomach and felt my insides curl up into a ball. I ran for the bathroom and was violently ill.
There was something about emptying my digestive system of its contents that made me feel a bit better. I think I finally understand why so many people who were sexually abused have eating disorders. I understood the binging and overeating aspects of it before - that made sense to me because food fills a physical and emotional void and adding layers of fat to your body can feel very comforting and safe. But I never got the purging thing until now. It feels like you're expelling this poison from your body, like a purification, like it's taking the anxiety with it, even for a moment.
Still dizzy and shaking, I lay down on the bed. So many thoughts, so many questions. Do I say something to my friend about it? Would she even believe me? Is it even worth it to dig up this skeleton from his past? Maybe he was just a really screwed-up 16-year-old who made a stupid mistake and then went on to become a decent person? But then again, what kind of person is he if he ever made that kind of "mistake" (I mean, I certainly would never have done that)? Did the fact that he was almost caught mean he never did it again or did the fact that he actually got away with it mean he knew he could do it again? When he told everyone I was lying about it, did he convince himself of it, too, burying it in the recesses of his unconscious mind? Why does he get to have a normal life while I've had to struggle with the aftermath of his actions for the past 27 years, having it affect all aspects of my life, my view of myself, my relationships with men, my self-esteem, my body image, my health, my nightmares, my burden, my secret? And the guilt and disgust that I feel every time I think about the possibility that he may have done it to someone else because maybe I should have tried harder to get people to believe me, even though I only was four years old.
And, now, 27 years later, it comes down to the same thing: my word against his. No proof, no evidence. Just everyone wanting to believe that he could never do such a thing, that it was just too horrific and absurd. That the child must be making it up. Because toddlers have such intimate and detailed knowledge about penises and what you do with them, don't you know?
I had a quick talk with Marlena, a friend who probably knows me better than anyone else, and a long conversation with Superstar that made me feel a bit better. (Verbal purging is definitely higher on my list than physical purging, thank god.)
"Do you want to know the answers to all those questions?" Superstar asked.
"...yes, I do. I do want to know. But I'll never know the answers, because even if I go and confront him, which I could do, what are the odds that he'd tell me the truth about his life or even admit to me or himself what he did? I want to believe this was a one-time thing. I want to believe he was just a horny 16-year-old who didn't really understand what he was doing. I want to believe that me telling put enough of a scare into him that he didn't even think of doing it again. I have to believe that, because every time I think about the other option..." The wave of nausea began to rise again.
"...it's hard to say. He was young. Maybe he was just curious, as sick and fucked up as that sounds..."
"I had to live next door to him for years after that. He was our paper boy. I remember walking by him on the street when I was seven, looking him straight in the eye, smiling, and saying , 'Hi, ____.' He never said 'hi' back. He only glared at me. Glared at me with such hatred that I could feel it in the pit of my stomach. Because it was my fault he had almost gotten caught, because I didn't keep our little secret."
"Sounds like you scared the hell out of him."
"I guess I was pretty fearless, even back then."
April 20, 2007
After a year, I gave up on that. Now, I'm going for trashy. All the colours of the rainbow, just like those krazysuperradcoolkids down at the playground. Word. Let's go lay down some beats, yo.
Or some such thing.
Superstar's niece started it - she couldn't believe that I wouldn't want to get the pink ones, because they are sooooo cool. His mom chimed in, "Come on...you only live once." That got me thinking; then, I had a conversation with a co-worker the next day:
Her: You should totally go for it. If I had braces, I would do all the colours. It looks cute.
Me: Yeah, but I'm really trying to do the clear thing, you know, so no one really notices them.
Her: Uh...Savia? News flash: you have braces. Everyone notices them.
Good point. So, if they're there anyway, might as well have some fun. Plus, the colours mean I can drink red wine and eat curry again, two of my favourite things (that also stain the clear wire ties and that the very intense video warned against consuming because, as the narrator said, it would be "disastrous"). I started with the baby pink, as the niece had suggested, then progressed to lavender, and then, today, was about to choose the natural progression - some gawdawful shade of periwinkle (shudder) - when I said, ah, fuck it, and went for the vibrant teal instead.
It was a bit more vibrant than I had expected (the picture doesn't really do it justice - I think the flash lightened the colour - but trust me when I say...it's quite motherfucking vibrant.) Yeah, maybe making decisions on braces colour when on a high dose of pain meds (to counteract the braces tightening trauma) is not the best course of action.
Fortunately, I can pull them off. (With confidence, that is, or failing that, a pair of pliers).
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take some more liquid @dvil and dive into a box of non-hydrogenated chocolate. Because that combination makes everything alllllll better.
April 18, 2007
But it wasn't until I got back from my trip to the east coast that I finally decided to take the plunge - to cut all meat out. I had been avoiding that choice, mostly because I'm Italian and man, we have some serious good food that involves all kinds of critters. I was raised on prosciutto, mortadella, and lasagne made from scratch with the absolute best meatballs mashed up inside it. I've even tried to convince people that lamb is, indeed, a vegetable. But once I returned home, I just couldn't do it anymore. Something had changed. I no longer liked the texture, the taste, the feeling of it going down my throat. Part of the reason was that there was such an abundance of fresh fish everywhere we went that we dined on it as much as humanly possible. I think I ended up detoxing my body from meat. So, if I were ever going to go for it, take that massive step that will likely prompt my Italian grandparents to disown me when I visit them this summer, this was the time.
I figure if I start talking about it, telling people that this is what I'm doing, that it will stick. So, of course, I had to find a name for my new state of being. Something catchy, something with some zazz. I don't feel comfortable calling myself a vegetarian because I'm still eating fish. I know others who refer to themselves as vegetarians even though they eat sea creatures, but I'm all about clear-cut boundaries and accurate communication - yes, I'm one of those. And, no matter how you filet it, a fish just ain't no vegetable. So, I did some research, and found some alternate terms:
- pesco-vegetarian, and
- pescavore (my personal favourite).
I also came across this:
Freeganism — argues that all commodities produced under capitalism, not only those from animal sources, contribute to exploitation and avoid buying anything, including food. Freegans thus focus on acquiring foods and other commodities by means other than purchasing.... practices including dumpster diving, plate scraping, wild foraging, gardening, shoplifting, employee scams, and barter as alternatives to paying for food."
Uh...yeah...that ain't never gonna happen.
Promise me this: If this whole pescetarianism thing ends up being a gateway drug to freeganism and you see me foraging for dandelions in the park downtown or digging through the dumpster behind the hoity toity sushi restaurant, please do me a favour and take me to the nearest spa for a seaweed wrap...stat.
Hey, even a princess needs the odd intervention now and again.
April 17, 2007
Savia: Blah blah blah my goodie drawer...because let's be honest, every gal has a goodie drawer. I mean, who are they kidding?
Superstar: Unfortunately, that's not the case. Not every gal does.
Savia: Well, that's just sad, isn't it? But that's the best thing about us theatre gals - we know how to use our props.
April 13, 2007
So, after the scene at the airport, Superstar took me to the car he had rented for our trip. I took one look at the door and burst out laughing. He had put a magnet on the passenger side that said, "I HEART MY VAGINA."
This has a bit of a back story. One day, Cee and I were talking about how men seem to be really into their penises; hell, everyone seems to be really into penises - people are always talking about size and shape and girth and curvature, but how often do women talk about their vaginas and how awesome they are? So, we decided that we should change that and start talking about vaginas. Vaginas, vaginas vaginas. In one of our early conversations, I dropped that bomb on Superstar, and it went a little something like, "I have an incredible vagina, you know. In fact, you might even call it a Wonder Snatch."
He drove us all over Halifax with that magnet on my door, and I couldn't stop laughing - every time we went out to the car, and every time we drove by someone on the street. The best part was that he had doctored the magnet for me. It used to say "I HEART MY PENIS," a gift from his mother for Christmas (don't even get me started on how super rad his mom is.)
But, alas, our third day in the city, we came out of a pub and the magnet was gone, stolen by some vagina-loving thief. "I'm surprised it lasted that long," Superstar said.
"I hope stealing that magnet helped her love her vagina more. Because I don't need a magnet for that. I have my Wonder Snatch."
April 12, 2007
He seemed really interested for some reason. I guess new relationships are interesting, I thought. And then I realized that there was a very good reason he was so excited. I had accidentally ticked "Women" under the "Interested in" category and said I was in a relationship.
I had to break it to him that, no, I wasn't coming out on Facebook; I'm only dating a sailor. But he does frolic in princess bubble tubs. Does that count for something?
April 11, 2007
It was a good week, though. On my way to the east coast, I stopped off in T-dot to stay with Jane and her sweetie, the Hottie Politician. HP is a world-traveller, so I got to sleep under blankets from Tunisia, Sudan and a sarong (worn by men) from Yemen.
I couldn't sleep, so I wandered around the small, funky apartment, taking pictures of the decor. On the fridge were the political finger puppets I had bought them for Christmas.
There's Trotsky, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Che Guevara, but wait...who's that next to Che? Another Che?? Have they been having sex and procreating on the fridge?? I believe a revolution is brewing. Or at least there will be one brewing, soon, because I've now gotten it into my head that I should buy them at least three more Ches for their collection. Two Ches looks like a mistake, but five? That's just fucking awesome.
In the bathroom, Hottie Politician has several original framed line drawings by a well-known artist, whose name I forget. I looked at them closely and asked, "Uh, Hottie Politican, why do you have pictures of a woman masturbating in your bathroom?"
"Funny you should ask that. I've had these drawings up for years and it was only yesterday that I noticed that was what she was doing."
HP was also handing out buttons to promote public transit. He gave me this one, which depicts the city's subway system lines:
"Uh, Hottie Politician, why does the yellow subway line look like a giant, yellow crooked penis?" I asked.
"You know, you're the first one to ever say that," he responded.
So, either I've got my mind in the gutter, or he's living in denial. A little from Column A, a little from Column B...
The next day, I got on a plane to Halifax (after learning that, as cute and as fashionable as they are, wooden clogs are not the footwear of choice when trying to navigate the subway system.) I wasn't sure what to expect when I got off the plane. I knew that Superstar wouldn't just show up to meet me like some normal person. He would have to put on a show of some sort - something to make me blush, to make me laugh, to make a public spectacle. And he did not disappoint.
When I walked down the stairs into the airport, I was greeted by a tall, handsome man dressed in his formal sailor uniform, complete with mirrored sunglasses, standing stoically and carrying a bouquet of lilies and a big sign that said, "PRAIRIE PRINCESS." I doubled over laughing. It was perfect. Damn, that uniform's hot. And lilies instead of the typical roses (which are boring and lame)? Brilliant! Plus, I was more than relieved that there were no high school marching bands or weird clown costumes involved. Because with Superstar, you never know.
Every doubt about whether it would be uncomfortable or awkward disappeared when I wrapped my arms around him for the first time. Instant comfort, like we have always been together. And it was like that for the next five days. The longest second date known to mankind. Which included:
- A stay in a quaint bed and breakfast where, trying to be suave, I turned out the lights and promptly knocked over my glass filled with expensive wine, breaking the glass, and spilling the wine all over the night table, wall, and floor. I'm so classy.
- Snapping pictures of myself wearing different pieces of his sailor uniform every time he went to the bathroom. I look hot in his hat - it's true.
- Going for sushi and getting to wear my new funky dress that I have described as being a cross between a burlesque ensemble and a folkloric dance costume. It was totally inappropriate for the restaurant, but I didn't care:
- Hanging out with his friends in Halifax, who kept looking at me funny whenever I sat down. I later found out that they were looking to see if I was sitting at all gingerly, because Superstar is well-known for being...uh...very endowed.
- At one pub in Halifax, I went into the bathroom and saw this hanging on the wall behind the toilet: Toilet seat cleaner? Good thing there was a step-by-step diagram on the thing, or I would have had no idea what the hell it was. It made me wonder what kinds of hideous diseases Nova Scotians have. When I came back to the table and showed the guys the image, they said, "You take pictures in the bathroom?" Uh, yeah, haven't you met a blogger before??
- Driving down a road which wasn't actually a road in a snowstorm, and getting stuck. He got out to push the car and I got behind the wheel to drive. He fell several times on the slick grass before he decided to push the car from the passenger side. The front wheel spun, kicking up mud all over Superstar. Ever helpful, I pointed, laughed and took pictures of his mud-splattered face.
- He surprised me with reservations in a - get this - cottage in the woods by the ocean. It was beautiful - both cozy and rustic. Outdoorsy for him, with a princess jet tub for me. Not realizing that the cottage had its own kitchen and he was planning on cooking for me that night, I accidentally made reservations at the restaurant at the top of the hill for supper. They billed it as "Casual Fine Dining" but I think we were more casual than they had intended. I was wearing a tight black top with "Saviabella" written across the boobs in sparkly gold letters and jeans and he was wearing a shirt with "Newfoundland Liberation Army" and the ever-so-slightly mud-caked jeans from earlier that day. We just laughed when we saw the hoity toity decor and went for it anyway (where was my folkloric burlesque outfit when I needed it?) It turned out to be some of the best food either of us has had in our lives. As we were walking down the romantic, snowy path through the woods back to the cottage, stomachs full of fresh Atlantic scallops and monkfish, he remarked, "Wow. That was so good you almost want to puke it up just so you can taste it again!" I had to stop walking because I was laughing so hard.
- That night, the storm got worse and the wind whistled through the windows all night. I figured that he would probably be sore from pushing the car, so I offered to draw him a bath. The tub was about halfway full when the hot water ran out. Determined to keep my word, and endlessly stubborn, I remembered what my mom had done once when I was a kid and I put three pots of water on the stove and filled the kettle. 15 boiling vessels of water and 45 minutes later, the tub was full and delicately scented with verbena. He turned on the jets full blast and almost overflowed the tub with bubbles. Ever helpful, I laughed and took pictures of him frolicking in the princess tub.
Nice legs, huh?
- The next morning, the power and heat were knocked out by the storm and we cuddled under the blankets all day. Terribly romantic.
- I read David Sedaris stories to him on the highway as we drove along the coast on our way to The Famous Lighthouse, giggling our heads off. We slowed down as we drove through the Palinode's hometown, where I rolled down the window and yelled, "Fuck you, motherfuckers and go to hell, you bastards, all of you!" or something along those lines. I even flipped the town the double bird, I did. (See, Palinode, who's got your back?)
- One night, we curled up in bed and he read The Little Prince to me, the book that was his answer to my question, "What's the one book you think everyone should read?" And he's right. Everyone should read it - it's one of the most beautiful books ever. We both cried at the end.
- Our last day together, he finally got a chance to make me a meal, which was limited because all the stores were closed for the Easter holiday. All he could pull together were Tim Hortons muffins, scrambled eggs and milk.
That blob on top of the eggs? Bittersweet chocolate with almonds. To make it fancy.
Tip for anyone who is wondering: chocolate and eggs...not a good combination. Especially when the chocolate melts into the eggs. But it made me laugh, which was his whole point. That guy will do anything for a laugh.
- We went to the theatre he used to work at and saw a play, Old Times by Harold Pinter, which was extremely well done. It was an absurdist play, which I'm pretty sure wouldn't fly in the community I'm from, so it was great to see something I wouldn't have gotten the chance to see otherwise, and also to be able to talk with him afterward over nachos about what it meant (which was not readily apparent, being all fucked and absurdist and all).
- We had a moment. One of those moments where you can feel the truth of something at your very core. One of those moments that is so rare that when it happens, you just know. He said something that no one has ever said to me before, and in fact, if anyone else had, I wouldn't have believed them. But when he did, I was overwhelmed with emotion, unable to hold back the tears. No one has ever made me feel like that. Ever.
It was an amazing time. And the best part was it wasn't perfect. It wasn't all happy good times. There were difficult discussions and tense moments and tears, too. But I liked that. Because it was real. It isn't just some happy fantasy where you ignore all the other person's faults and personal struggles. We're honest with each other and we know what we're getting into, and that's the best part.
And so, what happens now? Well, we wait. We wait until June, where we'll perhaps have a third date in Moose Jaw or a fourth date in Italy. We figure something out to make it work until the time when we can be in the same place for more than a week or two. But it makes it easier to know that this is for real.
That, and I can't seem to wipe this big smile off my face.
April 3, 2007
From what I can tell from the 10.5 hour date and the hundreds of hours of phone conversations, we're very compatible. We're similar in a lot of ways - intellectually, values, taste in music, sense of humour. But there are some pretty significant differences. Differences that I think will complement each other.
The best way to describe it is that I'm all about the destination and he's all about the journey. I like to plan everything and he likes to be spontaneous:
Savia: So, what are we going to do while I'm there? No, wait! Don't tell me, I don't want to know!
Superstar: Well, I can tell you that I have scheduled half a day of spontaneity.
Savia: You've scheduled spontaneity?
Superstar: Yes. I thought you'd appreciate the compromise. We are going to wait to be inspired, and then we will follow that inspiration wherever it takes us.
A very romantic idea, but you know I'm totally stressing out about where we're going to stay and eat and what we're going to do and what to pack and and and... Oh, yes, this is a definite test for anal retentive control freak Savia. But you know what? I'm ready for a little spontaneity in my life; I'm ready for an adventure. It is my Year of Fearlessness, after all.
So, I'm hopping on a plane tomorrow morning and letting all the other details take care of themselves.
Excuse me while I put my head between my legs and hyperventilate ever-so-delicately.
Ah, that feels better.