19 décembre 2021
From work to pleasure, Writer Claudia Clark seeks joy everywhere. Month after month, she shares in her Look Book, a diary of sorts, texts about the importance of romanticizing one’s life, “taking a breath and jot it all down”. Today, she shares a piece of her experiences while traveling in Montreal, about food and change of scene. Kind reminder.
When I was a teenager, I had a cellphone that was a piece of shit. I could slam it on the ground, and the most that would happen was the battery would fall out. I would dust it off and pop it back in like a Nintendo video game. The phone never seemed to have a signal to text anyone or call my mom if I lost her in the middle of the mall.
And to think my phone now rules my world, the bane of my existence, attached to every little web that determines my next move. Today, just from a phone, fortunes are made from rise to fall — well-beings are destroyed, and life becomes meaningless. In recent times, there has been a lack of reaction to many things on my side of the fence. When I hear of troubling news, my brows rise, the adrenaline rushes in -- but only stays for three seconds tops. I have found myself in a deep dream, lost in an emotionless world, swiping phones endlessly with sanitized fingertips.
I haven't been around for the last couple hundred years, so I wouldn't know if the past upstages the present times. Nostalgia could only be an illusion as well.
There is a coldness now; I feel the world has lost its grip in this machined society, content, margins, tears, laughter, a fun-filled haze of chaos. I haven't been around for the last couple hundred years, so I wouldn't know if the past upstages the present times. Nostalgia could only be an illusion as well.
I could be nothing but a complainer afraid of what's to come with minimal knowledge of history. I suppose I am afraid of all the opportunity, the potential to be anything and do everything, especially when you have access to things that were once a luxury. However, all I want to do is sit around and eat in peace. These days my belly is full of options — but I question if my stomach has been full of all the wrong things...
Since spending some time in Montreal, I have discovered the perfect breakfast: soft scrambled eggs inside a fresh croissant. My life has changed ever since; I waltz throughout the kitchen on those days. Now I only experience romance when I eat. The meaning of it all hits me like a brick, I suck in the air, and my eyes nearly pop out of my head, my figurative tail wags, and the feeling of existence eases me.
When I wake up hungry, I'm back in the matrix; I can see the ugly in the world, the lack of contrast, the smell of my morning breath, my hair looks beyond repair, the car horns sound like pots and pans smacking together, and when I walk outside all I notice is dog shit.
When I step out of my Airbnb, the sidewalk rolls out for me, the air is soft, and the sky resembles a painting from Monet. There is nothing to complain about, so long as I'm never on an empty stomach. When I wake up hungry, I'm back in the matrix; I can see the ugly in the world, the lack of contrast, the smell of my morning breath, my hair looks beyond repair, the car horns sound like pots and pans smacking together, and when I walk outside all I notice is dog shit. The new cure to distract me from the world's new pace of life has been well-prepared food. It slows everything down.
While eating, I tend to think less about the changing times. If the world has gone mad, so be it, but I will make sure I celebrate it with a bite to eat with a meal I could never create in my own kitchen; with ingredients that would be hard to find in a grocery store, a dish that deserves applause or a kiss.
I can see more clearly now since spending sometime outside of America; there are much more developed worlds — I was a fool to think I was in a place that was the center of the universe. Living in New York can be a status symbol; people think: Well, I live in an expensive city, a lofty one that holds a weight on my shoulders, yet here I am thriving, walking in Central Park in a two thousand dollar coat.
I have lost my sense of romance while on the east coast; I've become slow to react to movies, world news, even babies don't excite me anymore.
I think New York is Instagram before Instagram. Although I will be returning, I think some much-needed time away is well overdue. I have lost my sense of romance while on the east coast; I've become slow to react to movies, world news, even babies don't excite me anymore. I've been healing with eggs Benedict and French shortbread with an old flame I met in Montreal a couple of years ago. We reunited at Cinema du Parc to watch French Dispatch, a Wes Anderson film. This is when I fell in love with life again; my candle that burned out from both ends was then reignited.
I felt rich in that theater while doing my best to wrap my head around the film's plot. My old flame would go on and on in my ear, whispering about nothing, his confusions, his critiques on the obscurity or the lack of plot. He wasn't aware that I was in a closed-off paradise, secluded in a world with whom seemed to be "the chosen few." I felt so lucky, so zestful in this new developed world where it's a standard for locals to speak more than one language.
I was mainly in my head, questioning what it is to be "American" and why do I no longer have the desire to be one.
This new life that I had was nothing but usual for the people of Montreal. I was jealous but lucky at the same time, jealous that I missed out for so long but lucky to have had a taste. I dug deeper into this feeling while we left the theater and headed for a bite to eat. I was mainly in my head, questioning what it is to be "American" and why do I no longer have the desire to be one. I still have no answers, but I know for sure these questions are nothing like wishing you were taller or skinnier.
When you're an expatriate, you feel out of place, and the only way out is lots of paperwork, learning a new language and way of being until all the people you once knew distance themselves from you — placing you in a new box in their minds. I have yet to find my concrete answer if "out of the country"for good will be the best decision; I have more growing to do that involves much more eating.
I can now say I have a healthy relationship with food; after all, I love it. It makes me see things that I couldn't before;I become renewed — much more than restored. There is a sort of introspection toit all; you want to find the root of more things, constructively, you become sick of sob stories and FOMO. Later in the evening, my old flame and I discussed our childhood and our favorite meals. I confidently told him that I had 20-20 vision when I was a child, but later in life, I learned that all I had was eyesight and no vision.I could only see what was in front of me; anything further — or what would involve an imagination was out of the question. I mentioned when I was ten, I purposely failed an eye test for attention even though I could see as clear as crystal. It was my third time doing this, the first time at 5, the second time at 7, and the third time led to a pair of glasses. I would never wear them; the glasses didn't suit me; all they did was make things blurry, my present and my future. When looking back on that moment, I expressed that the attention I was looking for were answers to questions I was too young to articulate.
Instead, I was stuck with glasses, a "four-eye." I had zero style, but I did my best for a ten-year-old. Eventually, I threw them away, never to make a connection until in Montreal.
I had officially found contentment and clarity, and surprisingly enough, it wasn't at the bottom of my wine glass.
I sat back and let my old flame do the talking, I began to stuff my face some more, and all the colors in the room intensified, my sense of smell sharpened, and there was no longer a desire to reach for something that wasn't there. I had officially found contentment and clarity, and surprisingly enough, it wasn't at the bottom of my wine glass. I had reunited with my true self at the restaurant, going further into detail about films that have shaped me asI've grown, all the while getting closer to the reason for my urge to leave the country.
America has made me so judgmental I'm prepared to judge anyone that comes my way, harshly upfront, scanning them like they come with a barcode. Some would think it's a defense mechanism. Others don't care what it is; they only prefer me to stop altogether, but I have no time for a shrink or the patience to stop; I can only carry on doing what "suits" me best. Perhaps all of us have a role in society; some are meant to enjoy what others create, some are meant to destroy what others have built, with the tiniest little sliver of people that judge all of it. They only see what they prefer not to see until something puts a smile on their faces every once in a while. I have had enough of this reality, as well as the role; I can no longer sit back at a restaurant with my legs crossed, proud to be a pseudo-intellectual; it has eaten at me long enough.
My old flame and I came to a conclusion over dinner; food, the right food, changes everything. Your IQ is bumped up at least a couple of points after a proper meal. I began to sit back and think of what would have happened if I had continued to eat like shit every day, as well as what would have happened to me if I had learned this sooner. Would I have a better life? Would life have been easier? Would it make judging people and things more effortless? Would I never leave New York and be thriving somewhere in the villages, richer than ever, larger than life with sight and vision and everything in between? I thought more about this over dessert...
The following morning, I woke up later in the day on an empty stomach. I turned over, ready to bite the head off of the first person I saw; I felt like a vampire only pleasant to be around when satiated. I thought to get up and make myself a small batch of soft scrambled eggs with feta cheese, onions, and chives, but it was best to go for a walk and change my mood with pleasant thoughts before stuffing my face.
From time to time, I have the urge to express my feelings with friends back home, but I fear they will never understand what exactly I mean when I tell them that eating has given me new eyes.
I noticed I walked differently, in more of a hurry, feeling bothered in a sense, paying more attention to what could be done rather than what has already been accomplished. I wasn't able to marvel at the architecture like I would when my stomach was full. I laughed, realizing I was looking at life the same as I once did in New York. While in New York, I would problem solve on each block, considering a more practical approach to recycling and what to do with the piles of trash that fell over into the streets. There seems to be no trash at all in Montreal, no matter how hard I searched; it was a struggle to find the ugly, something to give me a reason that I'll never be completely happy or "full" with anything. I moseyed about in a park and watched the world go by, allowing time to become irrelevant. I closed my eyes every so often until I was no longer fidgety or looking back and forth every other second. The world eventually spun slowly for the rest of the day.
To this day, I still cannot wrap my head around the idea of living somewhere else; I never thought I would, and for life to be easier never seemed like a possibility. I would have assumed I would never feel the urge to explore beyond New York City; I would only soak in a bathtub, drift off and travel in my imagination. So I'm left surprised to be here taking my time while chewing the perfectly baked croissant with soft scrambled eggs. From time to time, I have the urge to express my feelings with friends back home, but I fear they will never understand what exactly I mean when I tell them that eating has given me new eyes. I'm sure one will only laugh it off and congratulate me for traveling and seeing something new.
My judgment was enhanced, and it felt needed. The world could be abetter place with a sharper vision, if not the world, at least my own. It was the idea that I could see more; it brought me to realize that I wasn't looking at all. I was underwhelmed with what was around me, only paying attention to the things that could give me a quick release or sparkle right away. I've been rewarded by traveling, finding peace, and all I want to do is eat, and for some reason, I haven't gained a single pound.