San Francisco 2008
My summer is about to explode. It has already started, a little, (I sneaked into a rave on Friday night, spent Saturday on a cross-Atlantic guitar lesson with Richard, Saturday night with dear friends at a dinner, blowing people’s minds with synchronicity, and Sunday at an epic wedding that involved a boat, a full-sized, bright red, radio controlled dalek wedding cake that shouted EXTERMINATE, (part gluten free, too!), a hexacopter ring-bearer, and friends from six or seven countries), but this past weekend was just the amuse bouche.
My comrade Nathan is taking us to Cirque Du Soliex’s Totem tonight for my upcoming birthday, then we’re leaving on Thursday evening for the Sasquatch Music Festival. The line-up is absolutely fantastic, many of my favourite bands are playing, (Elbow, Mogwai, Die Antwood, The National, Cut Copy, TuNe-YaRds, etc.), and it’s going to be our first road-trip. I almost cannot wait. I feel like a little kid, counting sleeps.
Then, on the way back, Nathan is dropping me off in Seattle and I’m going to California for my birthday, courtesy of my ability to fit into a suitcase AKA a sweetheart’s business trip to the Google mothership! Flexibility pays off. Apparently I’ll be flying from Seattle on the 26th or 27th and staying for approximately two weeks.
I leave Canada in four days, but know zero about my flights or even where or when I’m to meet up with my dear B. It is so strange and yet delightful to know I am to be travelling, but not know when or precisely where to. It’s like a trust exercise with the universe that I am surprisingly completely fine with. Are we meeting in Seattle? In California? Where? No idea. I have zero information, but it’s.. gratifying? It feels proper. Makes it more of an adventure, for sure.
I imagine I’ll be taking the train a lot back and forth between SF and Silicon Valley for the first week and tucking in for work during the days, but other than that, my time is open. B. will only be there for the first week and mostly busy with work, which is a bit sad, he is smart and sassy and wonderful, but I’m still thrilled. Once I wave my kerchief goodbye to him at the airport, I’ll couch-float with friends in the Mission or the Castro or the Tenderloin.
The only plans I have so far: Jed and I are making sultry eyes at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind on May 30th, (come with us!), and Richard has informed me that must visit him at the Vulcan on the first Thursday in June. And Morissa says I can use her house for a birthday dinner party! (Party date as yet to be determined). Other than that, it’s almost all a giant question mark. Do you know of anything going on in SF between May 26th and June 6th-ish? Let’s adventure!
Then I’m back to Seattle for a week to go to the the Georgetown Carnival and the Power Tool Drag Races and all that fun stuff. Maybe play some flaming tether ball. Mars and I are learning to be friends again, too, which makes Seattle much better to visit. I don’t know if B. will be around, but I hope so. (If he isn’t totally sick of me after sharing a hotel room for a week, that is. “Why are all the towels stained scarlet?”, “Why is my pillow purple?”, “How did the room ceiling end up covered in glow-in-the-dark stars? Are those constellations.. accurate?”)
I plan to return to Vancouver on June 15th, immediately put my passport in for renewal the day I get back!, collect certain papers from my mother, Vicki, that she’s bringing back from Ireland, do all of the laundry in the world, maybe throw a quick Vancouver-based birthday party, then head out to Ontario. The plan is to go to REcon (June 23rd – 29th) in Montreal via Waterloo courtesy of Ian, my besty who wants to drive up from Ontario in my fine company. Improbable, yes. Possible, very. I owe his cat Dewie about a thousand snuggles. And I think he’s starting to get tired of carrying his favourite Internet Girl around in his phone à la Her. And Audra has offered us her charming AirBnB apartment in Toronto for a couple of nights, (she has a cotton candy machine!!!), so we could home base out of Toronto and visit with people and stay up late in the city rather than having to go back to Waterloo. I’m sure we’ll use it, as I’m five or six years overdue for a visit and the good people just keep piling up. I even have an uncle there I’ve never met who seems supracool. Why don’t I live in Toronto? I Do Not Even Know.
We’ll be stopping by in Ottawa on our way to Montreal, too, to stop by the river market and stuff our faces with scrumptious berries and sugary beaver tails and APPLY FOR MY IRISH PASSPORT WITH THE EMBASSY! Happy birthday to me! I’m Irish! I HAVE EU AND EVERYTHING. As of, like, six days ago. My mother, bless her, went to Ireland as part of a Canada Council art project with Paul and took the packet of my needful documents with her, followed the very detailed instructions, and has filed my birth with the Irish government!
REcon is apparently a marvelous time, too. It’s run by Hugo, who I love to hang out with at CanSec. I’ve never spent as much time with him or his friends as I would like, so this is perfect. And apparently the Circus Festival starts in Montreal on July 2nd, so maybe we’ll get away with sticking around for a day or two longer for that. Either way, I plan to get fat and happy on delicious food, hug a lot of people, dance my face off, and ride a lot of city bikes. Christine wants to go to the new Cirque show, Kurios, too. I approve. There will also be chocolate and a stop by Santropol. Oh yes.
And no, I don’t know anything solid about flight dates on this trip yet either. IT IS ALL A FANTASTIC MYSTERY.
And then I’m in Vancouver until ToorCamp. (That might be for less than a week, oi). ToorCamp is another hacker event, but in Washington State on July 9th. Nathan wants me to go with him, so of course I said yes. Hopefully my passport will have come back by then and I’ll be good to go. I don’t know much about it, except that the people I know who’ve gone in the past are all excellent.
I have also been tapped to work as the Art Director for Hacked Festival, another hacker event from August 11th – 14th, but this one in Vancouver. It’s their inaugural year and maybe I’ll be able to help, even though I’m barely going to be around for the next few months. (Apply to be a speaker or an artist naow!) I’ve told them about my travel schedule, but the founder met me at BIL and he seems to want me involved anyway, so I might end up going through with it just because. If that ends up being the case, that will fit in right after ToorCamp. And right before Burning Man.
I have a number of options for Burning Man this year, but I think I might be tossing a bunch of them over to stay with a lawyer friend from Seattle. Not only do I appreciate him a metric ton just in general, I cannot get enough of his art project, an infrared photobooth. People step inside into pitch blackness, the infrared flash goes off, and though all they see is a small red light, the pictures look like they were taken in daylight.
And then, come September, rest. Playing with ferrets. Adventure is fine, (dying is fine)but Death), but I’m going to miss my ferrets. Pepper and Selenium are the best.
TLDR; If all goes well, I’m going to live out of a suitcase this summer.
- America's 99 problems, a ranked list.
- A map showing which bands enjoy the most outsized support in each American state.
So no, I did not go up to the church and ask for directions and risk being kidnapped into an 80's horror novel. The entire world was telling me to fuck that noise, so that's precisely what I did. I noped right out of there, went to the fruit-stand and had them write me new directions down on a tourist map of the area like a reasonable person. I followed that, got to the tire place, had the tire replaced, turned my music up loud, then drove straight to Ballard, two hours late yet weirdly relieved.
The first person I was visiting in Washington was a stranger I met on-line. I didn’t want to arrive and immediately risk sympathy, so I updated my OKCupid profile so I seemed slightly less crazy and pinged a few people before leaving Canada. "Hey, wanna hang out?" The usual let's get into trouble sort of note. Someone named Matthew replied. He sent me his address and we made plans for dinner.
I like Ballard. It's a neat little neighborhood populated with restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that I think of as friendly places. It is most notable in my personal mythology for housing the Tractor Tavern, the venue that annually hosts Mike as That 1 Guy when he's not playing at Neumos. (It is from that focal point that my explorations have expanded, so my knowledge of the place is mostly based on the hours of 9 pm to 9 am and may not be useful to everybody.)
The restaurant wasn't ready for us, so I brought Matthew to a gelateria I especially like, and we got a couple of cones and parked in the window to chat and wait. He was telling me about his time in Naples when our conversation was interrupted by someone walking by in a bright red costume. "That guy looks familiar," I said, but wasn't entirely sure. Maybe we had met at a party? Then another costumed person walked past carrying a giant red banner and he looked familiar too. Nah. What are the odds? It’s probably my programming. Costume = Interesting = My Attention. Then Jay Benham walked past and I banged on the glass.
Seattle, population 3 million. And out of the entire city, where I know an entirely of 50 to 100 people by sight and only half that by name, I had stumbled across the Kaos Kids. Or rather, they had stumbled across me. An aptly named and truly riotous Burning Man group if there ever was one, they were romping through Ballard on a Pisces themed Birthday Scavenger Hunt, stuffing themselves into unlikely places and taking absurd pictures with wooden sculptures of fish. Each team was led by a Pisces. The bright red team belonged to my buddy Big Dirty Sean.
So, though Naples sounded fascinating, I swept Matthew into their wake and accepted my new post as Sean’s red-team photographer. Wouldn’t you?
Soon we were on our way to The Kiss Cafe, where someone kissed Matthew in front of the sign, “we need a stranger!”, and the phone booth, into which we crammed the entire team, and the totem pole, where we piled everyone into an inevitable tower. But first, before we found any of those things, we encountered Tony & Jordan across the street! Tony, my ex, now lives in San Francisco. I cannot fathom the odds. They had come up for the birthday weekend. Surprise! At no point did either one of us know we were going to be in the same place at the same time.
Always a fun moment, getting to explain that the fellow across the street lifting his kilt and flashing his cock at your group is one of your favourite exes. Awesome. (Thank you, Tony. You bring the party.) As first introductions go, it could have been worse, but it might have been difficult to make it any better.
Next Matthew and I bailed for dinner, an easy thing at a Mexican place we both liked, and then I peeled off to reconnect with Kaos and Tony & Jordan at The Grizzled Wizard, a nerdly bar their friends run in Wallingford. Sugar came to meet me there and we chatted for awhile, leaning in to each other against the volume of the music, for comfort from our recent break-ups, for warmth and care and affection. I brought expensive chocolate and we caught up around the melting, gooey stuff. It is always a pleasure to see her. She had to run off to a dance festival, though, and I was stealing Tony & Jordan away as well, off to the onesie-themed Capitol Hill bar crawl.