Martine Pagé and her partner Ed Hawko were our first friends in Montreal, and -- as Martine describes below -- I met them through blogging! Martine (ni vu ni connu) is a screenwriter and editorial writer, and Ed (blork blog) is a technical writer/editor and excellent photographer; our friendship has grown a lot over the years and we see each other quite often in real life where we all enjoy cooking, eating, and good conversation. They both started blogging long before I did, so they are the real pioneers; Martine is considered a Canadian "expert" on blogging and internet media and often writes about those subjects for magazines. (She's also a real sweetheart, as you'll see!)
I met Beth before I started reading her blog, at a time when I was very involved in a Montreal blogging community. There were about twenty of us meeting in a bar on a monthly basis. Beth and Jon showed up one night and my partner and I ended up talking with them for a good part of the evening. I found them open, curious and easy to talk to. She and Jon had not yet moved to Montreal full time but after I went home and read her blog, I really hoped that we would share the same city one day.
We did more than that: we became friends, the kind that actually hang out with each other in person. I have met a lot of people through blogging and I’m often surprised by how different people are from the presence they project through their own writing. Not Beth! She’s as warm, calm and thoughtful as her words are.
Over the years, the Cassandra Pages have been “un moment de pause” for me, a way to stop time for a minute and take a second look at things that are familiar to me (the city of Montreal) or things I’m not at ease with (poetry, religion, in-laws…)
I always feel better about the world after I read Beth’s blog, even when the subject of her post is dark or sad. But best of all, after every visit I leave The Cassandra Pages with a deep desire to write. What an inspiration she can be! Of course, this feeling is immediately followed by nervousness: how could I possibly express moments, feelings, beauty, places and people as well and as steadily as she does?
It’s a silly thought, of course. Blogging is not a competitive sport. It’s about giving a platform to a great variety of voices that would not otherwise be heard. In the last few years, the blogosphere has lost quite a bit of steam (my 11 year-old blog included) and it can get pretty noisy. Through all that noise, 10 years later, The Cassandra Pages remain an oasis of calm and a place to reflect on things that matter. “Longue vie” to Beth’s blog and long live our friendship!
In Natalie's flat, London, 2011
Natalie d'Arbeloff - an absolute original. What can I say? Most of you know her already through her remarkable blog, Blaugustine, and her amazing work in many media, from the creation of artist books to constructions to comics to videos and easel paintings and printmaking, where she is, in my opinion, a real master. It has been a joy to know her in person as well as through her blog, and I look forward to being in her London flat/studio again before long, where we can continue our far-ranging conversation on life and art, and laugh together as we always do.
It was here on June 25th, 2003 that Beth mentioned me for the first time on Cassandra Pages a couple of months after I had started blogging as Blaugustine. But I think I must have found her blog before that and immediately sensed that we were on the same wavelength. In those early days of blogging there was this tentative exploration of the vast darkness of uncharted cyberspace, flashlight in hand, sending out signals and hoping kindred spirits would respond. Being recognised by a talented blogger was tremendously exciting and Beth's verbal, visual, intellectual and spiritual gifts were unmistakeable. From then on our connection strengthened via blogging and email so that by the time we met in the real world - New York, September 2007 - we already knew each other as well as if we had been friends for years. Through some blogging friendships you get to know a person by the way they express their thoughts and feelings before you see their physical persona and this filtered reality reveals more of who they are. Nevertheless, there's no substitute for face to face encounter and I've become aware that a talent for friendship is a major ingredient in Beth's abundant resources. It goes with empathy and attention to everything that surrounds her and precisely because of such acute sensitivity, I'm sure that sometimes there's overload and a need to retreat. One more reason to salute and celebrate ten years of Cassandra is that she has managed to achieve the difficult balance between giving your all and stepping back. I toast her next decade and many more!
Parmanu is a writer's writer, and this writer's perfect reader. As he says below, we read and admired each other's blogs for a while before making contact, and the post that moved him to write to me was a post I wrote about letter-writing. In the beginning of our correspondence we had the idealistic thought that we'd write real paper letters in pen and ink, and send them by, you know, the mail across the ocean, taking the time to write slow replies. It didn't work out very well, although we both have a few precious initial handwritten letters...somehow we both found the blank page too weighty. We went back to our email correspondence, and have kept it up, and have become close through this commentary on what we both write -- and think about -- for a larger public. I look forward very much to the day we'll finally meet in person. In the meantime, he is represented by a photograph that I keep in my desk, and I am represented by a print that lives on his bookshelf. His remarks here may well spur me on to make him a present -- you can guess what!