Sunday, November 25, 2007


When I told Earl about this project, he told me that he had a pair of shoes he's like to lend me. He chose the flip flops that he wore this September when he was on the Greenpeace ship, "Arctic Sunrise." He told me that all the sailors made fun of him for his choice of footwear, and that he was sea sick for a long time. Also, how when he walked on land for the first time in weeks, it looked like everything was moving. It's interesting what shoes people choose to lend me.

I picked up Earl's shoes from him at the art store downtown. The first time I went in to get them he had forgotten to bring them, "I'm so sorry--did I ruin your project?" Of course he didn't at all. The second time I went in Earl had also forgotten them at home, but his wife brought them by later on in the morning, and I picked them up then. It was nice to drop in on him and Dave. They assure me that they are miserable at work, even though they always seem in a great mood, "that's because it's so good to see you, aislinn. We go back to being grumpy as soon as you leave." It's fun to joke around with them.

Earl also told me not to wear his shoes outside. He has a good point--they are not exactly winter footwear. His light blue flip flops have foam bottoms and a clear blue plastic thing that holds ones feet in place (I have no idea what the proper terminology would be here). I decided to wear them today because I knew I had a bunch of work that would keep me inside.

This morning I recorded some audio. I didn't get dressed until after fact I slept in until 8am, which might not sound like much of a sleep in, but really is for me (and it felt glorious). I wore toe socks so that I could wear Earl's flip flops and still keep my feet reasonably warm in our cool house.

I had a chat with Christina during which we discussed showering and how it can sometimes feel really good, and at other times feel like way too much effort. This in the context of me deciding whether or not to. I had a conversation with a friend not too long ago where we discussed the pros and cons of having what he referred to as an "S.O." (significant other) while being in school. The pros would have to include having someone to help make dinner, and perhaps wash your socks. For me an S.O. would likely have another very important job, which would be to remind me when I really needed to shower. A possible conversation:
S.O.: "aislinn, [insert endearing nick name here]...I would like to reacquaint you with a very useful concept. There is this lovely contraption known as a shower...and this here is a bar of soap. Used in tandem, they help one stay clean--can you say that word with me? C l e a n."
me: "'s all coming back to me now."
(I imagine that Cecilia would suggest that this entire conversation might be summarized in an agreed upon gesture, so that when a shower is due it could be communicated with a twitch of a nose and a wink, or the baking of a specific kind of pie.) An S.O. might also help me remember how to take care of my laundry so that it didn't spend a whole week out on the clothesline through multiple and various meteorological events (which it did--I finally brought in the rest of it today). And he might also occasionally make me tea and scones, as well as rub my feet every so often, and sometimes sing me to sleep. Okay, now I'm just being silly.

So yes, I had a shower, and I considered wearing Earl's shoes in the shower, but I decided to keep them dry. I realized that it had been 9 days since I last showered, and although I've been longer without bathing, I thought it might be a good idea. Ben was amazed that I could last so long without a shower and not smell (he came pretty close to me with his nose and said he didn't detect anything, and never has, and even when I fart the smell is minimal, which I think is terrific information to know). My parents would think that this is very disgusting and cause for concern.

I made lunch, danced in the kitchen, edited video, and tried to upload it online without much success. I will try again later tonight. I went outside only once--to bring in the laundry--and the sun was strong enough that my toes didn't feel cold. I also had a phone call from a friend who is in China. We talked about a bunch of things, including how he has bought a DVD player, socks, cheese and a whole chicken all in one store. Amazing. He also told me that his fridge is taken over with his girlfriend's homemade kimchi in various stages of fermentation, and that he has to hermetically seal his milk or else he ends up with cabbage-flavoured coffee, or (as happened on one occasion), Taiwanese Cocoa Chex with distinct garlic overtones. Also, on the topic of Earl's shoes, my pal in China knows of someone who works for Greenpeace, and occasionally goes undercover. I know that Earl has chained himself inside Kimberly Clark headquarters as part of his involvement with Greenpeace (for which he was arrested), but I don't know if he has ever worked under cover, or if he'd be able to tell me the truth if I were to ask him. Earl is suddenly much more mysterious.

I thought of how interesting it was that Earl's unassuming flip flops have spent weeks aboard a ship in the St. Lawrence seaway fighting the deforestation of old growth forests, and here they were on my feet in Guelph in my kitchen, in my bedroom, living room, backyard, and so on, doing fairly mundane and monotonous and trivial tasks. And also, had he not told me where his shoes had been, I wouldn't have dreamed of the things they have witnessed. I might have guessed that Earl wore them in the summer time, or around his house, or when he went swimming. I guess shoes don't necessarily reveal their secrets willingly.

My mom, and Zachary and his girlfriend stopped by and brought me some dinner, which was really quite nice. It's interesting--I often go weeks and sometimes months without seeing my family, but the past three weekends I've seen my mom or dad. Tomorrow is Zach's birthday, so this was supposed to be a bit of a birthday celebration. We mostly just chatted, and Zach went on and on about the spring rolls at the Red Papaya which he was excited about getting. I tripped in Earl's shoes. My mom instructed Ben on how to cook pumpkin and inspected his work at each stage. Zach told me about his new job, and how he brought his He-man figures and comic books in to help create an environment conducive to creativity. He made a really good argument for it.

In the early evening I went to a Lam Rim (Buddhist meditation and dharma) group. I wore Leslie's boots because it was really too cold for flip flops. Christina told me that she didn't think this wouldn't threaten the integrity of the project. Frozen toes likely would. It was an interesting group. On the way home I liked noticing how the streetlamps and Christmas decorations were smudges of light across the surface of the river. I wonder how that might be condensed into a gesture.

Earl's flip flops are plain and unassuming, which masks the interesting life they have led. I wonder how much people are sometimes like this, too--familiar and simple in their ubiquity, yet full of a richness that isn't always accessible without asking questions; without investing time and thought and caring. Earl's shoes weren't suitable for situation I found myself in today, and they were a bit big and cumbersome for my feet. But they were there through the majority of my relatively simple day.

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