martedì, febbraio 07, 2012

I once had some kitchens, or should I say, they once had me

Fucking finally, the new kitchen is going in. The cabinet guy, plumber and electrician were all here today, but now we're in limbo for awhile since we ordered stone counters - which means now the stonemason gets to come in, measure, cut the stone, bring it back, install it along with the built-in stovetop and the enormous new sink. Who knows when it'll be done. But you know what, this fucking thing looks like it's going to be AWESOME. All I'd really been looking forward to was a kitchen that wasn't a shitty little crumbling roachhole where I had to use a pair of pliers every time I wanted to turn on the cold water. But now that the cabinets are in, I'm looking forward to having a fucking awesome kitchen. For the first time in a long, long time. And that is after this house's kitchen being the first really atrocious kitchen I'd had in years.

Here are the kitchens I have had - I'm not including ones that belonged to my parents, or that I had to share with the sort of roommates who I didn't cook in symbiosis with, or that amounted to no more than coin cuisines (I'm looking at you, Bronson Street and Avron):

1. Our rental down by the river, after we left R's house. It was big and had a view of a palm tree where a bright green python lived, which was nice. It also had a gas range and enough cupboard space, which was great. But it also had a paucity of counter space, and a rat. We boarded up its egress and then the maintenance guys killed it, but as far as I was concerned it was the kitchen with a rat in it, no matter how decent it was in other respects.

2. Our kitchen in Brussels. It was a decent kitchen. When we moved in a sort of cabinet, there was enough storage in it, and almost enough counterspace. And of course it had a gas range. However, it was fundamentally an American kitchen, separated from the rest of the apartment by a bar and nothing else, with only incidental light and fairly difficult ventilation.
Also, the can, which lacked a door, was at one end of it. The F-word and I both spend a lot of time cooking, which means that it was hard to invariably time taking a dump when your lover wasn't cooking. Comfortable as the F-word and I are over each other's physicality neither of us are fond of the idea of taking a dump within earshot of each other. Especially whilst cooking.
Call us Victorian. Except I guess Victorians were always crapping in front of each other, really.

3. My kitchen in Cabbagetown. Now, I loved that fucking kitchen. In fact, I think it's my favourite kitchen to date, though my feeling is that when the present one is complete, it might win. Part of that is no doubt due to the Cabbagetown kitchen being the first kitchen that was definitely mine, not something I had to share with one or multiple roommates, or one that was my parent's, or something of the sort. MINE.
It was a bit of a dive, that place, but the kitchen exactly suited me, as a young, single stoned cosmopolitan woman, with a cat and friends and occasional casual men, and eventually the very uncasual F-word. I used it for baking all sorts of delicious and exciting things, some of them laced with drrrrrrruurggs. It had a gas range (are you noticing a certain pattern here?) and adequate cupboard and working space for ONE PERSON.
I dig that. I dig galley kitchens. When I'm in the kitchen, I'm in the kitchen; when I'm cooking, I'M cooking. I don't understand these bloody voluminous kitchens they build in new houses these days. Who the fuck needs a kitchen that size? Do you think Iron Chef is suddenly going to do a location shoot in your house? Are you that FAT? Jeebus. That having been said I do like eat-in kitchens.
Another good thing about the Cabbagetown kitchen was that, while it lacked a window, it had a door that led onto a roof terrace. It was a sketchy roof terrace, but it was mine, and the halfway house's next door, and Lexie could go out there and catch birds and kill raccoons while I cooked, and watched.
I fucking loved that kitchen. I loved that apartment. It makes me a little misty to remember it, actually. Life with the F-word is good, but if I had to live life without him, I'd probably do it alone, and I'd probably try to do it in a cozy little comfy shithole like that Cabbagetown apartment.

4. The kitchens in Pinerolo I shared with the Angry Drunk, the best roommate I've ever had, though you wouldn't have known that from my subsequent treatment of her, but enough of that. We co-habited in two places, the first in the old part of town, the second in the new. Both were ace. Both had gas ranges, adequate counter and storage space, and were a reasonable size - eat-in but not retarded. Italian kitchens are full of design genius and these were no exception; they both had the in-cupboard draining boards, which let you put your dishes away without having to dry them (or, more commonly in my case, waiting for them to dry).
The old kitchen had a window which overlooked the construction site next door where Young Robert DeNiro worked, which was pretty ace. And of course the medieval buildings were lovely to look at too. The new kitchen - well. That apartment was in the only skyscraper in town, a fucking revolting building-code busting monstrosity that was worth living in just so you didn't have to look at it from your apartment elsewhere.
It was terrific for living in though - for us, anyways, as it was on the third floor, which means we had a massive roof terrace over the ground-level shops - the size of half a football field - with a view of the Alps in the middle-distance. Shared, but the other tenants didn't seem to use it. We had some good times there. Lots.

5. The kitchen I shared with a roommate I was very fond of at the time - again, you wouldn't necessarily be able to tell from my subsequent behaviour - on Cooper street, in Ottawa. Not a gas range, which is a shame, but it was the first place I smoked knives, which is hard to do without a coil element. Now, with the fullness of time and after, apparently, having given up weed, I think smoking knives was my favourite way to do it.
It was my first kitchen - my actual first kitchen, me having been in residence, broadly shared accommodation, with my parents, or in other people's homes up until then. So it was the first place I cooked practically. It was poorly painted yellow and red, which has left me with a permanent fondness for yellow and red kitchens. It had a fire escape leading from its window, so we could sit "outside", and a few feet away from that, an unrelieved brick wall, which we used when we were emotionally or chemically upset for smashing glass jars against.
That was a good kitchen, but sometimes I wonder if I ever could have moved on from that phase in my life if that kitchen had been kicked into the "awesome" category by having a gas range. From all reports, the girl who I lived with, who is no longer a friend, didn't, at least not before I lost all track of her.

lunedì, febbraio 06, 2012


You know what's awesome? University libraries. And I say that as someone who is going to Griffiths, which frankly doesn't have a great library. What it does have is a wealth of periodicals I can access (or at least it feels like a wealth after not having accessed periodicals in a long time) and then read on my none-too-snazzy new e-reader. Fuck the normal internet; this is really what it's all about. Nearly instant access to articles about wildly specific subjects written by insanely specialized experts for the scrutiny of other experts. It is ace. I can just decide what I want to learn about and then learn about it from an article that's been adequately subedited and researched to the point of ridiculousness. Yesterday I downloaded a bunch of articles about Calabria: Neolithic settlement of, folk remedies for malaria in, ancient obsidian trade in . . . marvellous.

And I can do that about whatever I want. Griffiths actually has a bit of shit book collection, physical or e, or at least I'm assuming they do based on them not having had a few specific books I want that aren't exactly obscure or nutty. But I guess they struck some sort of deal with some e-periodical suppliers and that is a whole fucking universe of knowledge for my greedy brain.

Having access to periodicals again since I was working on my master's thesis, when I was too busy to read anything that wasn't about the coursework, has been a reminder to me that the normal internet is actually a bit shit. It feels like we have all this terrific information at our disposal as normal people, but so much of the good stuff is hidden behind paywalls and permissions and all the rest of it. It gives me pause. It's like a two-tier knowledge society.

The e-reader, by the way, is fab. Having it is like having moved back to a real city in terms of the access to books it gives me, and I went for a cheap one, so it's actually nice to read - not shiny. It's a Kobo Touch and I've got no complaints - clear, easy to use, etc. It hasn't yet replaced real books for me, but I LOVE it for access to the library material and also for access to books that there's no way I could get in fucking L---- - French books. My French output is pretty crap but as soon as I open a French book I can slip into the stream of the language without any bother, and love reading it. I can't do that with any other languages besides English - even though I think my Italian is better in some ways that my French, I find literary Italian bloody tedious. It's not a problem understanding it, but it's a problem reading it - I find it exhausting. It doesn't sound like the way people speak. And Mandarin - hah hah. I'm wildly proud if I can make out the basic gist of what a sign is about. I do wonder and hope if I'll ever move past that.