I recently consolidated this blog with my film review website. Both can now be viewed at JoelCrary.com.
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Birthday drinks with a friend and eight others at De Nieuwe Lelie. Many Texels. A donair to cap things off, along with an impassioned conversation about Orson Welles. Tonight I’m forcing Matt and Kim to watch “Citizen Kane.”
I lived in my apartment in Ottawa for two years and never got around to buying a bottle to keep vinegar in. I had a big jug of it under the sink and would dole it out in capfuls, lightly sprinkling it over the lip of the lid so as not to overdo the seasoning of french fries. No more. The Asian Yokoyaya123 dollar store in Tinseltown mall set me up for two dollars plus HST. Not the classic restaurant design, of course, but functional.
In May and June of 2001, I worked at a multimedia design company called Filament Communications, located on the top floor of this York Street building. What was originally supposed to be a four-week internship turned into an additional two-week contract position. Three employees were laid off before I left, and the company disbanded shortly afterward.
After I graduated from college, I thought I’d be set for life employment wise. My parents are both long-term career people. At 21, I assumed that was how things worked. The part of me conditioned to crave stability has been shocked to learn that the rest of me is entirely resistant to a career. Losing my job at Filament was the first in a line of lessons in toughening up, of recognizing the fragility of very big things.
I remember when Rideau Street was alien. The first commute into downtown, noticing large ads hanging on the buildings across from the NAC. Cold mornings and posters for a Scratching Post gig at a club called Zaphod Beeblebrox. Sorting out the bus system and buying a copy of “Generation X” I spotted in the window of the Book Market on Dalhousie.
I talked a bit about my headspace while working at Filament in a piece I wrote about Gary Burns’ “waydowntown,” a film I read about in a newspaper while sitting at the Second Cup at the corner of Dalhousie and Rideau on a lunch break. I went back and had a latte today, catching up on a column in the Ottawa Citizen about Andy Warhol and pop art.
I was able to leave the house without a coat today. The unbridled feeling of freedom, of coming out of hiding. It brought to mind memories from two years ago, when I ventured out to Vancouver for three days, leaving the spring air chill behind me in Ontario. It was the first time I was able to take off my jacket that year, and I’d felt the warmth of breezes rolling in off the ocean water around Stanley Park. I spent those days breathing the odour of cherry blossom trees in deeply, eating fresh sushi and drinking Kokanee over Coupland.
There is freedom in a new city. There is possibility. Spend too much time in a city and things cease to be new and promising. Circumstances cloud the brain. They simply become the way things are, rather than the way things could be. I was raised to move around. I spent my childhood heading from place to place, and haven’t stopped since. Other than an eight-month stretch spent collecting a graduate degree in Toronto and a few short weeks gallivanting through European centres, it’s been a nine-year stint in Ottawa. I spent my 20s here, and with my 30s before me, it’s time to keep moving.
This is not a post about Ottawa. That will no doubt come. This is simply a brief note to say that it will be a summer move. Probably August. Why Vancouver? Because I’ve only got so much time, and I haven’t lived there yet. Because it’s far away, and I’ve always heard great things about far away. Because it’s a schizophrenic little city that has doubled for every other city on the planet in movies, and as a lover of movies, it just wouldn’t make sense to live anywhere but everywhere. I’m ready. To Vancouver.
No pictures as I’m using a French computer in our hostel in Paris and it doesn’t have a USB port. I’ll add some later. The keyboards here are all out of order. I have to press the Shift key to type numbers and periods, and the A and Q keys are reversed. Anyhow…
I liked Dublin quite a bit and found my accent changing slightly as time wore on, as ridiculous as that sounds. I’m half Irish on my mother’s side, as she was born to a Crary and an O’Toole. While I was at the tourist information centre in Dublin I approached a gentleman who was operating a geneology booth. I had him look up the name Crary. The name can be traced to the Tyrone area in Northern Ireland and also in Scotland under the name “MacRory”.
Andrea and I went on a pub crawl to four bars and a club, all located around the Temple Bar district of Dublin, which is in the centre of the city just south of the Liffey River. Conversations with strangers were had and friends were made. One of the Aussies drank too much and our guide was firmly telling one of the Americans to leave at the end of the night. The Aussie followed us to one more bar, The Temple Bar, where he was promptly ejected by a member of the staff.
Things I’m learning about Europe: Don’t expect that drinking in a place like Dublin gives you a licence to be an ass. The people who work in the bars in Dublin are professional ass ejectors. They have businesses to run. They’ve seen your kind before and they’ll see hundreds more, and they’ll know exactly what to do with you.
That’s not to say that the night didn’t get ridiculous at times. Dublin is a city where people go to party. The downtown area has a high student population comprised of travelers and attendees of Trinity College, which is right next door to Temple Bar. It’s also a city where one loses track of time. Much to our surprise, we got in around 3:30 in the morning.
The next day, Andrea, myself and our new chum Simon went on a walking tour of the city. We checked out Dublin Castle, Christ Church Cathedral, the 40 steps, Trinity, St. Stephen’s Green and a score of other places.
I think it would be utterly boring for all if I restricted myself to talking about the places I went. I realize they’re just names to most. I’ve also been trying to avoid taking stereotypical pictures of the places I’ve been going. Anyone can look up a picture of the Eifel Tower on the Internet. Here’s a rather nice one.
I went there today. More on that next update.
Abbey Road – Piccadilly Circus. I forgot about those two.
Andrea and I spent the night in Shrewsbury, birthplace of Charles Darwin and home of Pete Postlewaithe. It’s a town of about 80,000 people and was given its name to reflect its status as a prostitute hangout. Lots of narrow streets bordered by old buildings, the kind I was expecting to see. There’s also an old movie theatre suspended on arch supports. The British theatres are the best I’ve seen. Each typically shows only one or two single films at a time.
It was very nice to see a more rustic counterpart to the bustle of London. There are fields of sheep and country roads that swerve dramatically. We drank to excess in a hotel bar, played cards and read aloud in accents from the books on the walls. An officer pulled us over on the way home for speeding and a busted headlight.
We’re leaving for Edinburgh today. I have a special mission in mind for that city.