Tag Archives: home

The mural

It’s been a while since I’ve told an actual story about my home (the initial point of this blog). So here is one about the mural in my living room:

Ever since I was little, walls have been like blank canvases for me. They are just waiting to be drawn on. For most, it would be seen as improper or impolite to color outside the lines in that sense.

It’s never been like that for me. Hand me a paintbrush and I’ll cover every surface I possibly can!

I remember being 8 or 9, when my little brother and I closed the door to our shared room and gave it quite the makeover. Once our parents opened the door minutes later, we’d drawn all over the walls.

Most parents would’ve grounded their children for acting this way. Mine weren’t and I will be forever thankful for that. Those drawings and various quotes professing my love for the Backstreet boys stayed put until we moved out years later.

As a teen, I kept going with the self expression through murals. The poetry got deeper, the drawings more detailed. It didn’t always look nice but I sure did love writing punk song lyrics on my wall. I felt especially cool when I wrote the curse words.

After my teenage angst phase passed, I decided to go zen (white walls) and covered it all up for a while.

When I moved to Montreal 5 years ago, I had a room in a shared apartment with 2 other girls that I didn’t know beforehand. It only took a couple of months before we got comfortable with each other and became good friends. Once I felt more at ease, I got busy with the paint again. This time, I was exploring different shades and textures, more than anything concrete.

Now, that we own a place, I’m pretty much free to do what I want on the walls (my boyfriend can veto).

Though I have a lot of freedom and could do more if I wished, so far the only place in our house where I’ve drawn directly on the wall is in the living room. The back wall of the room is very wide and our ceilings are high, so it was a perfect spot for a unique mural.

At first I wanted to do a zany design, covering the whole wall à la Keith Haring, but I finally decided on a less intense drawing.

The initial outline came from an old design that I created a few years ago. As a visuals arts student in college, I always had a blank book at hand. Anytime I felt inspired, I’d take my Staedler pens out to doodle a bit.

I was inspired to draw this ensemble of buildings after reading a book about Austrian artist/architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. In a way, he was to Austria what Antoni Gaudi was to Barcelona. He created colorful buildings that played along with the natural environment. Clearly, he wasn’t a fan of the straight line, which is both refreshing and rare for an architect.

I loved that, so I decided to create a fantasy city filled with such buildings. Wouldn’t life be a little bit more fun if more buildings really looked like this?

Hundertwasser designed this building that is located in Magdeburg, Germany. Source: Wikipedia

Since that is unlikely to happen any time soon, I decided to paint that colorful cityscape on my wall. It is my vision of a big city: twisted, funky, colorful, lively.

I love it. I think it makes for a fine mural that doesn’t make the room seem smaller, but that makes it all that much more colorful and fun.

To speed up the process in making it, I first drew the outlines with a pencil, then I went over them with a black paint pen. 

The red polka dot dress

Ah, the polka dot motif.  Never one to go out of style.

It’s a style that suits me well, I think. I often go for vintage looks, or cute feminine looks, as I have a round face and a slim but curvy body (I’m no Coco Austin but I don’t do bad in the booty department).

This dress isn’t a designer dress. None of my clothes are. If they are, I don’t know. I rarely read labels when rummaging through racks of clothes. I look at four things: color, pattern, shape and price.

I found this particular garment in a small shop in Paris.

It was my first trip abroad. A trip of many firsts: first time in an airplane, first trip alone, first fling, first moments of independence.

It was a wonderful experience, scary and fun at once.

Let me say, to exacerbate how important this trip has been in my life so far, that I had just come out of a major bout of anxiety troubles. For the better part of a year, I had to be home schooled and most times, I couldn’t even get out of the house. It was pretty awful.

Slowly, I came back to life. Graduating high school and pursuing further studies helped a lot. I felt more challenged at school and met people with whom I had stuff in common.

By the time summer rolled by, I felt ready for adventure, so I planned at trip to France. I was to spend a week in Paris, then three in the Bordeaux region, where I would participate in a work-camp. (I’ll probably tell you about that in another article).

Finally, the departure date came. I remember being at the airport with my dad, my mom and my brother. It was great and odd at the same time. Since my parents had split ten years earlier, rarely had we found ourselves alone, together as a family. We laughed and reminisced. Then when the time came to split, I freaked out a little, but not too much. I cried and waved goodbye. I think my parents cried too, out of seeing their daughter growing up and doing her own thing for the first time.

I was 19.

The plane ride went well, although I never really managed to sleep.

Seven hours later, here I was in the city of lights. My dream was coming true, but all I felt was exhaustion, hunger, a blocked ear and a deep need to pee (I hadn’t gone during the whole flight, so not to bother the guys in my row while they slept like babies).  I couldn’t wait to get my luggage, go use the restroom and move along to the city.

After much wait and confusion about the location of our flight’s luggage containers (the airport authorities could not find them), I finally got my bag, made it to a toilet, ate a granola bar and found the bus to reach the core of the city.

I could finally enjoy the fact that I had arrived! It was quite nice, except for that stinging sensation in my ear.

Then I got off the bus and walked into another confusing situation: how to find the place where I was going to live for the next few weeks! I had the address, I knew where it was but I just could not find it! Rue de Richelieu, close to the Louvre, next to the Palais Royal. Those details had been written in my handbook for the last few weeks, but I still couldn’t find my door. Feeling lost and tired, I walked into a phone booth to call the lady that was to have me over (a friend of my stepmom’s brother). Unfortunately, it must be said that phone booths in France don’t accept coins. I did not know that.

Thankfully, I knew that calling cards could be bought at post offices, so I found the nearest one and got in line.

No less than an hour later, covered in sweat (it was a humid 35 degrees celcius out there and in the post office!), my back in absolute pain because of my bags that were filled with a bunch of more or less important things, I had my calling card.

I walked into the closest phone booth and put my card into the slot. It didn’t work. For a second, I indulged in some quebecois swearing, knowing that it would offend no one here. I then saw that I could use my credit card to make the call.

I finally reached the lady, who then came to get me. Turns out I was less than 3 minutes away from the place. She had simply forgotten to specify that the door of access the apartment building was inside the entrance of a restaurant, and the number was hidden, camouflaged into the sign announcing that eatery.

We walked up four flights to the maid’s room, a tiny little space with a shower, a bed, a fridge and a toilet that she was letting me use for free, for my time in the city.

She gave me my keys and told me to get rested, as we would be going out for dinner with her daughter later on.

I closed the door behind her and immediately began sobbing. What was going on? What had happened? So far, I hated this city! It had not been kind to me. I missed my family. What the hell was I doing? Help!

I felt so out of place here. The lady that was hosting me was kind, but this was a posh place. She was obviously from another level of society and although I despise and don’t usually believe in stratified social systems and generalizing about people, I felt like an alien here.

I cried myself to sleep.

A few hours later, I woke up and prepared to dine out, trying to keep my spirits up. I had nothing fancy to wear and no impressive feats to converse about with these people. Nevertheless, I decided to put on a brave face and go for it.

Not long after, the lady’s daughter knocked on my door and we went out for le diner.

All went well, but I was quickly confronted to a first cultural shock. I had not even touched half of my sushi plate, being as my stomach was still upset from all the stress that it had been subjected to. I asked if I could take the rest home.

At that moment, the lady looked at me, laughing nervously: No, people don’t do that here.

I immediately felt bad even for asking.

Her daughter, more easygoing I guess, didn’t mind inquiring, as this was also a place for takeout.

Turns out I could take it home.

Still, the experience left me surprised. I had heard that doggy bags were uncommon here, but I could not believe that someone would rather walk away and let the restaurant throw out 20 sushi’s, than ask for a box to eat them later.

I thanked the lady and her daughter, took my box of sushi and walked back up to my room. I believe I saw them once during my whole week’s stay. They were cordial and generous but I preferred my own company than spending time with them.

Once in bed, I fell asleep almost immediately.

I woke up in the middle of the night to eat the rest of my sushi.

The next day, I walked around and Paris, with all its charm and beauty, cured me of my fears and sorrows.

This dress, bought during that week, embodies me coming out of my shell and becoming an independent woman, as prominent feminist auteur Beyoncé Knowles would say.

It also made me believe, for a moment, that I could be one of those stylish Parisians. Just for a moment.

I made a journal during this trip. The page that speaks of this first day is hidden behind a curtain of sheets of toilet paper, pink ones like they have there. It still feels so evocative, so telling of the emotions I felt on the moment.  Makes me proud of who I’ve become and how it happened.

The bedroom

We have a tiny little bedroom. Some people would say that it’s too tiny.

I don’t care; I’ve had tiny rooms all my life. Those that weren’t tiny, I shared.

I’m used to cramped spaces and my man doesn’t mind either. He just needs a bed and a bit of floor space to throw his clothes on.

Things that I love about this room:

–          It’s always full of light, but not too bright, so you can sleep in at morning.

–          The color scheme is girly and calm (white, green, wood, touches of fuchsia)

–          It’s comfy (the bed and the furry carpets)

–          The ceilings are tall (like everywhere else in this home, but here since the room is small, we will use this to install shelves to store things that we want to keep but rarely use).

There is still work to be done here; walls to be painted (a brighter shade of white); shelves to be set up; night tables to be tinted. However, this look is very close to what I wanted to achieve.

Over the next few days, I will be telling the tales of certain objects that can be found in my bedroom.

Stay tuned!

The drawing

At first glance, there is nothing extraordinary about this piece of paper that is taped to the message board on the desk. Just a cute drawing that was ripped out of a textbook and colored during bored times. What keeps me from throwing this out is knowing where it comes from and what it stands for.

Here’s the story:

My man and I went to France for one semester during university. We lived in the idyllic region of the French Riviera, in a cute little apartment that was quite big and less than 150 steps away from the pebbled beach.

The town we lived in was quaint but, oh, so tedious for our adventurous souls!

Bars closed at 9pm and even if you dared to go in earlier, you’d feel like a strange creature by the way the locals observed you.

We weren’t that far from the big city (Nice), but limited transportation options at night kept us from doing anything past 9 pm too (bar that one Amadou & Mariam concert, and it took us over 1 hour to get home).

Basically, we spent our evenings watching the many, many documentaries that are shown on French TV, running on the promenade by the beach and planning trips that we took most weekends.

School was also a bore. I’d even go as far as saying that it was awful. Facilities, students and employees alike seemed worn out and glum, which didn’t make for a very fun experience. I’d thought that studying art history in a country with such a rich past would be great because after class, I could run to the museum to see those artworks live, and that was true.

However, the classes suffered from a severe lack of pertinent content, the teachers were obviously bitter and the students baffled me with their disrespectful behavior (speaking on the phone during class, talking back to the teacher for no good reason, walking in and out when desired).Lord knows I’m a proponent for disobedience when it’s needed but here it seemed so uncalled for.  It felt like I was back in high school, not in a faculty of higher education!

I also had lots and lots of problems with the administration, that ended up costing mucho dinero, but that is not what I want to focus on.

I ripped this drawing out a textbook, thinking it could serve to pass the time in another class since this book was being used in one of the two courses that I did enjoy.

It was a class on the art of writing about… art. I loved this class because the teacher was so posh, so akin to the romanticized image I had about studying in this country.

Every week, we had an assignment and it was serious work too. Who would’ve thought that I’d be happy to do homework? None of the other teachers asked us to do homework, let alone use our brains!

In a school where lack of structure reigned and destroyed any possibility of learning, this teacher’s rigorousness pleased me.

As for the other classes, I completely zoned out.

My attendance record was pretty good, as I thought it important to be there in case something crazy like actual content came out of it. So I spent most of the time in class, staying respectful to others of course, but not paying much attention to the stuff that was going on at the front of the class.

Books were read, Kinder Buenos were eaten, illusions were lost and drawings were colored.

Sad observation: filling in this particular image with a variety of shades was actually more challenging than most of the exams that tested our acquired knowledge at the end of the semester.

You may think that I am being overtly cynical about it, which is true, but I just can’t help it. When I tell people about the provenance of this drawing, they all stare at me with infinite envy and I can perceive the images of beautiful Provence that pop up in their mind when they think of studying in the south of France.  That is why I feel the need to tone their enthusiasm down a little bit, by emphasizing the negatives of our experience.

We did have positive things coming out of it. Many of them. In truth, they greatly surpass the negative. The fact is that the whole school experience was so bad that it needs an actual mise en garde for others thinking about going to that particular university, and, from what I’ve heard, many of them across the country (no offense French friends, great schools abound in your country too!).

As I said, happy times were aplenty during this four month period. The man and I bonded and definitely developed a strong relationship. We also got to travel so much, since once you are in Europe, everything is easily accessible by train, bus or plane.

Finally, I can say that this experience made me so much stronger and even more independent.

That’s what comes up when I look at this drawing.

The desk

I moved to the city 5 years ago, mainly for school, but also because I had always idealized living in an urban environment. Two of my friends from my hometown were already here, yet I consciously made the choice to get a room in an apartment that I would share with 2 roommates whom I did not know.

My new roommates, both girls, had already furnished the place. I just needed to fill my tiny little room.

Young, eager and priding myself in being independent from my family, I decided to buy my first big piece of furniture, a desk.

Now, you must know that in Montreal there isn’t such a wide array of options in furniture stores for a girl with a tiny budget so of course, I immediately gravitated towards the famous Swedish retailer.

That is where I found my chosen piece: the Mikael desk.

I must’ve paid it around 150$. That meant a week’s pay for me back then, so it had to be worth it!

I chose it because of its modern style, clean lines, and elegant appearance. I also loved it because it seemed very easy to adapt to any type of décor, which meant that I would be able to keep it for a long time and to always fit it to my ever-changing tastes.

The pride of having bought my own piece of furniture was immense, and setting it up with my brother was practically a bonding experience for us.

It’s already moved many times and set up camp in 4 different rooms. Scratches on the surface tell tales of the hard times I’ve given it, dropping various drinks and piling random objects on it.

During those years, its’ seen many a night of me researching subjects like post-impressionism or human rights in Burma, cramming info about Laswell’s theory of communication into my brain or writing reviews of new CD’s for my radio program at the university’s station.

Lately, mostly since I got a laptop, I’ve been neglecting the poor thing.

When I come around to decorating the office, it’ll once again be the main focus of the room and my man will get to enjoy the convenient design of this wonderful object.