Friday, August 19, 2005

~*...countdown to the burn...*~

in preparation for burning man, i've been trying to cut back on spending money and going out. i'm not really doing a good job of it, but at least i'm trying. i only go out once a weekend.

planning to survive in the desert is a huge undertaking, especially when you're planning for 10 people! i'm so glad i'm going with people who have already been. about half of our burning man crew have been at least once. i can't wait until i'm no longer a burning man virgin. i've even been thinking about my piece of ink that i'm going to get to commemorate this life changing event...and i haven't even been there!

after our burning man meeting on thursday, august 4, my friends andre and nicole gave me a call. they were downtown celebrating their fourth anniversary, so i joined them at the rivoli for a drink. i was already a bit shmammered from drinking beers at our burning man meeting. by the time i was done with andre and nicole, i was a tad obliterated. stoopid alchomohol.

andre and nicole began the year by adding a new member to their family. ethan christian girard was born january 20, 2005. this year has been a year of babies, babies, weddings, and more babies. i love being unkle norm. babies look good on me, and i love that i can give them back to their parents when they start crying :D

in my attempt to save cash, i stayed in on friday night. it was also my mom's birthday, so i had plans to meet her and my sister the next day at the taste of the danforth. its an outdoor street festival on danforth avenue known for its many restaurants, mostly greek. all of the restaurants on the danforth set up on the street, cook and sell food, primarily smaller portions that sell from $2-$5. thousands of people came out to celebrate in the streets, and eat food from all over the world. this city is so diverse.

my mom is so ghey ;)

after a beautiful afternoon on the danforth with my family, and with a full belly, i stopped by my friend's place to personally convince them that they needed to join me that night for fet@5ive. i can be very convincing at times. that night, four noobs, my friend karen and i got dressed up and explored the darker and playful side of toronto's nightlife. the dark side, it flows through all of us.

on wednesday night, i celebrated my friend tucker's birthday at a swanky little place called the savoy near the canon theater in toronto. we had a blast. good friends, lots of booze, and an unexpected announcement. a friend of ours from university who was there that night came out of the closet. it was great to see him finally be comfortable being himself without fear.

my newly liberated friend and i went out for additional drinks after the savoy and just talked. oh man were we smashed. it was great to hear him talk freely about himself, to see how happy he was to finally be himself without fear. its so difficult to live a lie, and pretend to be someone else all of your life. shakespeare said it best in hamlet, and i wrote this quote on the back of my business card.

to thine own self be true, and it must follow as night the day, thou cans't not then be false to any man. hmm...i may have written it wrong on my card. bollocks!!!

if you're not yourself who are you? when he asked me when i came out, i said i never had to. i'm an anormaly, i just love people, of all sexes, colours, creeds, sizes. i've pretty much made out with anyone for the past ten years, so my sexual orientation has always pretty much been on the table. i play for both teams. no coming out here, cause i'm not gay. i'm definitely not straight either. i'm norm.

on thursday, august 11, 2005, my close friends steve and kate had their first child. elissa clare prentice gee was born at 8:12am weighing in at a healthy 7lbs 13ounces. i am so happy for them. like isa and darryl, i've known steve and kate since before they dated. i shared in their wedding celebrations, and now i've shared in the celebration of the birth of their first child. this year is truly a year of babies for me. dre and nicole had ethan in january, isa and darryl had valentina in february, and now steve and kate had elissa. i am a very happy unkle normie.

on saturday night, august 13, my best friend in the universe mel came over. she had just returned from four months in europe, including a full month walking across spain on the camino de santiago. i love this girl to bits and pieces. she is a goddess, an angel, a jedi, and pretty darn cute too. her and i share a connection that continues to give me strength over 13 years later. a month ago, i was looking through one of my old photo albums in search of an old pikcha of my friend carol from raves of old. as i journeyed through old memories, i came across a great pik of mel and i at a rave in 1996 called utopia. click here if you'd like to hear the carl cox dj set from that night in 1996 (link thanks to seeker on tribe).

i decided to take the pikcha out and scan it when i noticed that there was a note placed behind the pikcha in the photo album. i read it and it made me miss mel even more. she rocks my world. these notes were written before i started archiving everything in my scrapbooks, which is why they were hidden behind a photo in an album.

think of me, but as a smaller italian jewish female, and you've got my best friend mel. i was so stoked to see her. she came over looking as beautiful and radiant as ever, and her skin was even darker than mine! wtf? i'm the one with the melanin. hahaha, mel-a-nin. eye yam sofa king wee todd it.

we went out with mel's cousins and friend aku who had just returned from ghana, africa. mel dressed me that night, which happened to be the same outfit i wore to the star wars episode three premiere, just without the jedi robe, makeup, or lightsaber. i looked hawt dressed like a normurai. one of the bars we went to didn't think so. no open sleeves. its not like i was wearing a basketball jersey or anything, but we didn't argue. i'm not one for places that tell me how i am to dress. but we had a great time together.

after drinks with mel and posse, i ended up at a club called footwork for my friend rob selectah's birthday party. the theme was after school special, and everyone was dressed up in theme. it was like the women there walked out of my fantasies and into footwork. man, the school girl fantasy gets me every time.

yes, there are more pikchaz in my pikcha archive. enjoy.

on wednesday, i made it up to steve and kate's place to meet elissa. its so incredible to see how a child completely changes people. steve and kate radiate, and elissa is adorable. if i had ovaries, they for sure would be hurting right now.

and here i am...up to date on my journeys and home on a friday night. only seven more sleeps until the burn. there won't be too much going on in my life until then, but you can be sure something interesting and worth blogging will present itself before i leave.


- norm (=D)---

Monday, August 15, 2005

~*...the expanded universe of the dredi knight...*~

the day after bobby and dana's not so traditional wedding was spent on cherry beach. i know i keep on singing the praises of this free outdoor weekly event, but i can't think of a better way to spend a sunday afternoon in toronto. big thanks to the promise boys dave and irving for keeping the cherry beach sunday afternoon soundsystem going for the past few years. its just a great place to chill out, toss a disc, sleep in a hammock, puff some roots, and listen to great beatz for free with incredible people.

i also ran into this beautiful soul named michelle at cherry beach. i had met her two years ago at element (gawd i miss that club). i don't forget people who are this breathtaking...

yes, if i had a nickel for every pikcha i have taken with a gorgeous female, i'd be able to retire. i ain't complainin one bit ;)

on tuesday night after my ultimate frisbee game, i made a quick stop at the wheat sheaf for my friend jay's going away party and then dashed up to kensington market for an urban game of capture the flag. nearly 100 people showed up to run around the streets of kensington with one goal in mind...capture the other team's flag. outwit, outlast, outplay, kensington style. there were people on bikes, rollerblades, and the rest on foot. with the help of cel phone technology, teams were able to communicate with each other as we turned the most multicultural neighbourhood in the world into our playground. thanks kevin and lori for organizing this refreshing take on an age old game.

friday night was an amazing reunion for me. to begin with, my very close friend katie was home visiting from australia. i went to university with katie (look, she's not an omie!) and worked at the saugeen snack bar with her. her nickname was katie katie snack bar lady, but that description often changed with the job she had. katie katie starbucks lady, katie katie ice cream lady...the possibilities are endless! ;) my friend pat drove her into town on his way in from london. my very good friend elsbeth was also with him. elsbeth's husband reegan showed up an hour before they arrived. our destination was the steamwhistle brewery by the skydome (now called the rogers center) for the return of the house music husband and wife duo sunshyne and moonbeam jones, also known as dubtribe. the last time i heard dubtribe play was back in university, the day of my last exam of my university career (or so i thought at the time). my friends danny and allison had achieved the incredible feat of booking dubtribe to play at the wave, the university pub on campus. what made booking dubtribe such an incredible feat was that they toured with a complete soundsystem and had many many requirements that needed to be met before they would play anywhere. they play live house music. they create it right there. they sing over top of the beats as they make them. it truly was one of the most incredible live shows i have ever seen.

before the wave, i had heard dubtribe play at destiny 20, a three day rave in 1996. they played for 12hours! after having a child, sunshyne and moonbeam decided they would do one last tour before devoting their time to raising a family. toronto was one of the few cities they chose to include on their final tour. i was so excited. and to share it with good friends from university, pat, elsbeth, and katie, it was going to be an amazing night. and it was. my boy nick, also from university, was back in town as well from cambridge university where he is doing his mba. this was his night out on the town.

this was the first time i've been to the steam whistle brewery, and the venue was amazing. such a big space. the sound was great in there, and the people were top notch. lots of omies (c'mon, did you think i could have a blog entry without including om?). dubtribe played all of my favourite tracks, including "you are beautiful. you are perfect just the way you are." such hippies they are, such a hippie i am. no one is just one thing.



the after party was held at cherry beach. i spend a lot of time there eh? watching the sun rise with free beatz barefoot on a beach *sigh*

what a great night celebrating with old friends and dancing. there just aren't enough people dancing in this world. the strongest communities are the ones that share music, and the scene in toronto is family to me.

the next day, or should i say later that day, i met up with my markham krew at the stadium formerly known as the skydome for a blue jays game. it was our friend dan's birthday (well, it was a week and half earlier but he lives in bolton with his wife and two kids). dan's wife mel got our markham krew together to surprise dan and celebrate with him. mel, dan, and his six year old daughter aria showed up at the rogers center (the new name for the dome) and were picking up their tickets at the ticket booth when we sneaked up behind dan and yelled "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!". oh man, the expression on dan's face made it all worth it. scaring the crap out of dan is a great feeling. sharing the afternoon with the dome open and watching the blue jays take on the rangers with the best of friends was only made better! ok, what's with baseball? i'm not a huge sports fan, but i sure know a slow game when i see one. thank god we had beer.

the fans are what make the game, but there was something missing with the crowd at that game. spirit was lacking. our friend graeme was with us, and he is a pure heckler. "benoit! benoit! you got nothing buddy! you suck!" was not an unusual thing to hear coming from graeme's mouth. after a couple beers, i was yelling with him. mostly from boredom, cause holy shit baseball is a slow game. and some fans were even telling us to shut up. of course we didn't listen. graeme would yell back "no! see this ticket? i paid to be here." yes, we were a bit belligerent by the end of the game, which we lost by the way.

that saturday was also caribana, the largest caribbean festival in north america. nearly 1million tourists from all around the world (read america) flock to toronto and turn it into one big hip hop video. being of jamaican descent, i love getting out in the streets for the parade and dancing to some good soca and reggae music. but some people share a different view on what caribana brings to the city. i could go on and on about the good things that caribana does for toronto, and the negative things, but you can visit tribe and read the discussion there to see what people think of stabbabana. i almost never miss the parade, but dan's birthday baseball game took priority this year. friends are more important to me than any parade.

after the game, i dashed home to change for my friend bobby and dana's wedding. yes, the same bobby and dana who got married the week before. dana is a wiccan, so this ceremony was the pagan wedding ritual of handfasting, and was held at trinity bellwoods park.

i arrived at the park a bit tipsy from an afternoon of drinking in the sunshine while watching the jays get spanked (and not in the good way). there were about 40 of bobby and dana [our] friends in the park gathered around a labyrinth made of flower posts and string. the labyrinth is a symbol in pagan religions that represents a journey. giselle, the priestess of the ceremony, thought the labyrinth would be a great image to demonstrate the journey that bobby and dana were taking with their lives. bobby and dana would enter separately at different ends of the labyrinth, and once handfasted would continue on together.

the ceremony began with fire (dana's wiccan name) casting the circle. as pagans do not worship within a building, they have to create a sacred space at the beginning of each ritual. dana walked around the labyrinth stopping in each of the four directions, north, east, south, west. she created the circle by saying "by the earth that is her body. and by the air that is her breath. and by the fire that is her bright spirit. and by the living waters of her womb. the circle is cast" each direction was also associated with an element, air, fire, water, earth and represented by very close friends of bobby and dana, krista, joy, becky, and neil. in wicca, a circle is created by joining the four directions. bobby and dana then invited the goddesses associated with those directions to come into their circle by asking each element for a blessing and guidance for their marriage.

Krista at East: What do you seek from the Powers of Air?

Fire and Bobby: We seek your blessing and guidance for our marriage.

Krista: (Blowing Air at Them with the Fan)
Blessed be your marriage with these gifts from the East:
Clear understanding of each other, and of yourselves.
Knowledge that each day is a fresh start of your life as a family.

Joy in teaching each other, in the spontaneity and changeability of life.

Joy at South: What do you seek from the Powers of Fire?

Fire and Bobby: We seek your blessing and guidance for our marriage.

Joy: (handing them a lantern with a lit candle)
Blessed be your marriage with these gifts from the South:
Shared discoveries as a family, experiencing new things together.
Inspiration to find new ways to surprise one another.
Passion and delight in one another.

Becky at West: What do you seek from the Powers of Water?

Fire and Bobby: We seek your blessing and guidance for our marriage.

Becky: (sprinkling water over their hands)
Blessed be your marriage with these gifts from the West:
Clear understanding of each other's desire.
Resolve to stand by each other, no matter what may come to pass.
Patience and the ability to listen to one another.

Neil at North: What do you seek from the Powers of Earth?

Fire and Bobby: We seek your blessing and guidance for our marriage.

Neil: (sprinkling earth over their hands)
Blessed be your marriage with these gifts from the North:
Strength to do what you must do, when you must do it, and together as one.
Fertility, in all its many forms and manifestations.
Stability, such that you can always meet your family's needs.

thank you dana for sharing with me the vows you created for your handfasting and allowing me to share them here in my blog.

fire and bobby returned to the middle of the labyrinth where their hands were tied together with a ribbon by the priestess giselle. the term "tying the knot" originates from this practice of handfasting.

moving together as one, fire and bobby left the labyrinth, but not before jumping over a broom at the exit. the broom, or besom, in pagan religions is associated with male and female fertility. it also represents domesticity. in the past, "jumping the broom" created a common-law relationship between a couple. dana is planning on placing a besom at the entrance of their house where it will act as protection. she also uses it in a ritual to cleanse the space of negative energy before casting the circle.

the final part of the handfasting was the spiral dance. spiral dances are often used in large pagan rituals to raise energy as the concept of dancing in a spiral creates a cone of energy that spirals out from the group. all of us held hands and created a large circle (i was holding on to one of dana's hands). then dana let go of my hand and began walking, or spiraling, in towards the middle of the circle. because i was now the last person in the spiral, it took me a bit longer to get into the middle of the circle. once dana had reached the middle of the circle and everyone was spiraled up tight, she did a quick twist which allowed for the spiral to move outwards. it was the most fascinating thing being a part of this spiral and not run into anyone. the spiral never stopped, it flowed.

the after party for the handfasting was held at our friend neil and carol's place on queen street. they live above a store called XOXO at queen and peter street a block away from much music. their place is one of those apartments that you always wanted to party at because of their rooftop patio. its right across the street from the black bull, home to one of toronto's best patios. i used to always look up at the rooftop patio and watch people hang out looking down on queen street and wonder what it must be like to party there.

lookin down on the black bull patio.

this rooftap patio is huge! how huge you ask? czech out the piece of graffiti on wall of their patio. yah, its too wide to post it here in my blog. we had our friends spinning records all night, had the best view of the street below, and an incredible view of the cn tower.

blasting beatz until the sun came up, i was surprised it took so long for the cops to show up. at around 7am we got our first warning to turn it down. then a half hour later, we got our final warning. no problems, we had an incredible night of partying with friends. i walked home accompanied by my friend maer who was visiting from san francisco with his wife joni. i grabbed sky captain and the world of tomorrow and hotel rwanda to keep me company as i spent the rest of my sunday in bed recovering from an incredible weekend. good thing it was caribanalong weekend and i had the monday off.

i woke up bright and early monday and headed over to my friend darryl and isa's place to help them move into their newly renovated condo. they had a two level one bedroom penthouse condo. then they bought their next door neighbour's two level one bedroom condo and knocked the wall out between the two, creating a gorgeous three bedroom two level condo. their place is almost as beautiful as they are as a couple, and no where near as gorgeous as their 6 month old daughter valentina. isa and darryl are family to me, and i was glad i was able to help them move into their newly renovated home.

after a long day of moving, i jumped on the go train and headed towards whitby in the east to grab my mother's van. her and my sister were returning from a month long jaunt through new zealand and i was to pick them up from the airport. after grabbing my mom's van, i stopped off in oshawa quickly to have a quick drink with my friend jessie. when someone asks me if i've ever been in love, i think of jessie. her and i dated in university for two years. ever since her, i've been finding that i am attracted to what many people call jessalikes. i seem to be attracted to blonde haired blue eyed hippie girls with glasses. maybe its because jessie was the first woman to stimulate the parts of my personality that made me love myself, so every time i meet someone who looks similar to her, they automatically start stimulating the parts of me that make me love myself. i could go on and on about jessie, but that would take many many blog entries. she taught me many things, the most important being this: you can love someone with all of your heart, but that doesn't mean that you two should be together. i learned from her that in order to entertain the possibility of being friends with an ex, you have to love your life completely without that person in it. i love jessie to bits and pieces, but i know that we are not meant to be together.

wanna see some of the other jessalikes? of course you do...

the one that started it all...jess and i at university.

and now a few of the jessalikes...

can you see the differece? look harder, not all white people look the same, for real!

after picking up my mother and sister from the airport, i was happy to see that they didn't end up killing each other. that's a good thing. they dropped me off at my place on their way back to whitby and i passed out from a busy and memorable weekend.

- norm \m/^_^\m/