looking for atlantis

Shane Koyczan
Another of Shane Koyczan.

I attended a Napoleonic Star Wars themed birthday party on Friday until the small of Saturday morning, dressed as a courtier/tie-fighter rebel pilot, lace ruffles fluttering from the cuffs of my orange pilot’s jumpsuit, a flouncy white cravat at my neck, hair snail-coiled into tiny Leia buns, lips painted in a tiny red heart, and then I walked three miles home in the incredible snow, taking the long route to see a man who wasn’t there, and stopping to buy ice-cream on the way. Coated in white, dripping as I walked up the counter, the windows obscured by flurries. Seriously, you should have seen the sales clerk’s face.


Shane called just after midnight the other night, thrilled with his pictures, asking if I could shoot his band soon, too. Of course, I said, I would love to, so we set it up that we’ll see each other next month, when they’re in town rehearsing for When I Was A Kid, his upcoming show at the Cultch. If all goes well, however, I’ll miss it completely, as I’ll be out of the country as he stands on stage, somewhere I have never been before with someone I’ve never met yet utterly adore. (My favourite kind of exciting!)


I have a job interview coming up on Friday, a follow-up to a promising phone call I had last week. I really hope I get this one, far more than usual, as it seems like a perfect combination: a company of good people doing good things, ethical, open-source, media-savvy, and clever, within an easy bike-ride from home. I’ve been keeping busy lately, taking pictures, writing, catching up on MIT’s open course-ware, learning new things, but underneath the triumphant glaze of productivity, there’s been an unwavering desire to jump back into the workforce, take part in more than my own little projects. This job, if I get it, could be the key to an entirely new level of personal satisfaction, so fingers crossed that I am what they need.

contact, as important as light from the sun

Novelty Seekers and Drug Abusers (might) Tap Same Brain Reward System.

The space shuttle Discovery had its final launch today. I watched from home, glued to my laptop screen, as the entire process played out over live streaming video from Florida, while Tony watched it with me over messenger, cheering for the crew from his Microsoft office in Redmond. We were a small slice of the future right then, together though separate, witnessing history through now common technology, eyes on an image televised live from the side of a rocket roaring with fire into outer space. The number of viewers at the foot of the screen declared that we’d shared the experience with over 30,000 other people. Beautiful. With that number there and Tony’s words on the screen, it was the first time in almost a week that I haven’t felt lonely.

the sons and daughters of hungry ghosts

He said he was in love with me, but he’s already forgetting all that taught him, falling back on what’s easy and available rather than what’s worth fighting for. It is like we never existed. I see it before he tells me while part of me dies inside, a confession of old bad habits over a dinner that I am too silently upset to eat. I push my fork around, pretending conversation. I have no magic words, no way to explain that would remind him. Inside I wonder if he will one day understand “meaningful” or, worse, if in some future, he’ll say these things and I will no longer care, no longer certain of his worth.

I just saw a bald eagle snatch a fish from the water

“A kiss would do it.
One sprinkle of milkwhite salt
and I’ll break like bread at your table.”
– S. Sloat

Uncertain about my weekend away, I find everything I wanted to write about draining away, replaced by the landscape outside the train windows. There is a large, strange boat abandoned on part of the shore, a hulking, rotten thing, the discarded corpse of a predator. Every time I see it, I want to visit. Climb upon its ribs, explore the depths of its throat. The house near it, that of a witch. Driftwood, black paint, sorrow. Somewhere a hand-painted sign, STAY AWAY. The water is smooth today, enough to reflect the sky, a strange illusion of clouds and occasional threads of blue. Soon it is replaced by green farm fields dotted with tiny isolated homesteads, the tracks swinging in-land. A bridge, blue herons, the shock of a log yard with violent wood-chippers, the elegant, golden spray of chewed material gouting from the top of a long metal tube, propelled by a quick, vicious conveyor belt and the hunger of consumerism. Touch it and you’d lose your hand. (It scares a child sitting behind me). Next, a dense, sputtering flock of birds swarming like massive bees, a horror of movement next to a small white farmhouse, paint peeling in antique strips as potentially old as the magenta hot-rod rusting out beside it, fins pointed to the sky like a prayer.

The closer I travel to Canada, the more everything is gray. The more the trees I like, honest, naked, are replaced with depressing evergreens. To another set of eyes, the view might be spectacular – inspiring, pristine nature of the sort usually found only in magazines – but if it wasn’t for my lover in Vancouver, I would be certain that I’m traveling the wrong direction, towards failure. My home behind me, as if I am running away.

in for a penny, in for a pound

Seaside Improvisation, by Richard Siken

I take off my hands and I give them to you but you don’t
want them, so I take them back
and put them on the wrong way, the wrong wrists. The yard is dark,
the tomatoes are next to the whitewashed wall,
the book on the table is about Spain,
the windows are painted shut.
Tonight you’re thinking of cities under crowns
of snow and I stare at you like I’m looking through a window,
counting birds.
You wanted happiness, I can’t blame you for that,
and maybe a mouth sounds idiotic when it blathers on about joy
but tell me
you love this, tell me you’re not miserable.
You do the math, you expect the trouble.
The seaside town. The electric fence.
Draw a circle with a piece of chalk. Imagine standing in a constant cone
of light. Imagine surrender. Imagine being useless.
A stone on the path means the tea’s not ready,
a stone in the hand means somebody’s angry, the stone inside you still
hasn’t hit bottom.


I’m going to Seattle today, a two o’clock bus that should get me there around six. It feels almost criminal because of the weather outside, crisp, bright, so promising. There was snow on the ground last night when my lover drove me home, my bare feet sank into it by an inch while walking on the gravel behind his home. Earlier lightning, small dark rolls of quiet thunder.

My body bleeds today where I was rough with it last night. I am torn. Bruised, too, with carnations of gentle blue and yellow across my back like insomnia’s physical manifestation, a rebellion of capillaries protesting against lack of sleep. I am shamed that I hurt so much, so easily. The mirror will not meet my eyes. Everything aches – my devotion, the stress of it, the one drop of blood.

not made for this weather

“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” –Dom Helder Camara

For all my poverty, I am rich this week thanks to a fridge full of vegetables and half of a left-over chicken. It’s unbelievably exciting. Luxurious, even. Edibles: the best gift ever. Though it is a blessing to be able to eat when I want, groceries are never high on my priority list. Instead I skimp to pay off my Heart of the World debt, living off rice and potatoes and very little else, and anything I can claim as extra, however meager, goes to better things, closer to my heart than survival or an easier life. Last time I went out, for example, instead of food or a camera bag or a casing for the naked SATA drive that contains my photography archives, I purchased tickets to the Dusty Flower Pot’s upcoming show, The Hard Times Hit Parade, for Valentine’s Day. Possibly not the most clever decision, but the kind of choice I’ll stand by and defend tooth and nail, even as my tummy growls defiance. A large part of being poor is knowing when to make those choices, understanding that while it is important to scrape by, it is equally essential to feel alive sometimes, too.

That said, today I’m about to splurge on something that neatly straddles the line between requirement and desire – I’m replacing my shredded duvet, the one that died so ignominiously on the way to Burning Man. It’s not something I can afford, strictly speaking, not when ten dollars is still a lot of money to me, but it’s a want that has finally nudged its hesitant way past wistful desire to actual need and why I have a credit card. I have been cold almost every night this winter, waking up so regularly in the dark of morning, shivering underneath two layers of inadequate blanket, that my cat, Tanith, has finally learned to sleep under the covers with me, the better to share some heat. My first thought this morning, as I lay in the dark, huddled in a tiny ball, “To be warm again, I can’t put a price on that.”

EDIT: Even better, I’ve been given the opportunity to barter for one! Photography for a duvet! Internet win.



“I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.” – Charlotte Bronte, English novelist.

What profound monsters live in the center of my ribs, drowning in cruel jokes as thick as poisoned honey, lining my throat with quills. I close the door and they swallow me, strings attached to every limb, a film that coats the inside of my body and shrinks with every breath. Bring me the head of this discontent, show me the platter, silver and red, show me the reason for this escape. Where was it that I felt betrayed? Depths, darkness, hair wrapped around my finger, a reminder, the source of the stifled anger, silent until it surfaced, a comment laced in arsenic, self-resentment, and, at worst, a painful thread of hate.