appreciate what you have

Emilíana Torrini – Heartstopper

It used to be that I heard certain songs and a sweet pang of memory would spring through my body, uncoil between my legs, hold my hands like grace, and I would unconsciously close my eyes, breathing in what it was like to be there with him, the depth and width of us. The liquid vowels of his voice, the way he said my name, as if it were a word made of quicksilver instead of a single clumsy syllable, drenched in adoration the same way he could pull me out of my body by sliding his fingers through the roots of my hair.

It seems now that I can’t relate, that I’ve drifted too far away. All I’ve got left is a cavity where all that used to be, hollowed out enough I can shout into it and not even hear a replied echo. Where did those mellow afternoons go? Those fantastic grins? Does this happen to everybody? I look up the names of the chemicals responsible for love and wonder if I’ve just been running out. Somewhere I have a photo of myself that I’ve never looked at, sitting alone in his bed, destroyed, taken the same day I left a line of poetry in lipstick on his mirror, the same one I wrote on his skin in ink the day he left me, the only evidence I could bear to leave, even though I knew he would wash it away.

artpost: a practice fallen from style

My memory tickled by a conversation I had that mentioned Victorian Memento Mori, I spent a bit of time on Sunday fruitlessly searching for a particularly nice contemporary hair artist I’d found on-line two or three years ago that I intended to post about, but never got around to. Today, oddly, not even a week later, the artist has fallen directly in my lap via my friends over at Ectomo and she’s gotten even better:

“Melanie Bilenker makes jewelry from precious metals, resin, wood, and her own hair, arranging the strands into tiny snapshots of everyday life.”

chocolate, 2008

brooch, 9.5 x 7 x 1 cm, Gold, ebony, resin, pigment, hair.

From her site:

The Victorians kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love. In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants. I do not reproduce events, but quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments.

(I used to do this with Antony in the shower, make tiny, ephemeral pictures of our life together on the tiles of the wall with our shed hair. Our lines were not half so fluid as Melanie Bilenker’s, but they were ours and sweet and fun. Every day we would wash them away and draw something new. Now, years later, I should regret I never took a picture, but it is enough for me that they were there.)

meme: inport support {now it’s your turn}

Me and Marissa, July 2007, by Lung

The ever groshing Meredith Yayanos (and now Alice and Sara) tagged me in the 16 Random Things meme, “Once you’ve been tagged, you have to write a note with sixteen random things, shortcomings, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose sixteen people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. You have to tag the person who tagged you.” I’m no good at this sort of meme, but I love rock star Mer (and Alice and Sara) with the warmth of six suns, so for her I will try.

1. “Even your voice has changed,” he said, looking at me, hearing the wounded strawberry tears that caught all the way up from my heart to my tongue and out into the air. The freeway was so familiar I felt I could have drawn it in my sleep, divided the roads into lanes with a cunning accuracy I didn’t understand I had. It was like the promised land, green signs marking exits as well as the graves of so many dreams. “I’m not sure what it is, but you sound softer, like you’re an entirely different person here.” “I am,” I replied, “too full of history to burn.”

2. I used to write fortunes, love letters, and wishes in spidery black ink on the dried leaves I found fallen under trees in the fall and let them go in the wind to fly without watching to see where they might land. They weren’t for me, they were for other people to find.

3. Perhaps if I killed him, he would live on as a ghost, feather light and improperly dead. I woke up earlier this week, wishing I could secretly stab him in the heart with rusty kitchen scissors and open him up like he did to me with his fingers. The only thing that keeps me clear is that I don’t think his murder would change anything. You can’t erase memory like a stain. It would just mean a little less money coming in around my birthday.

4. When she speaks on the phone, I know my place is to quietly do nothing more than make encouraging noises in the appropriate gaps and pauses. She is like a colouring book with everything but the eyes filled in with religious illumination, as if someone spent thirty years merely shading in her skin. I love her, so I don’t mind. Maybe someday it will be my turn to talk.

5. There is a pile of books in my room which do not belong to me. They are borrowed books that represent less what I would choose to read and more what people think I should. From top to bottom they are: Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Mistress of the Empire, The Complete Robot, The War of Flowers, How To Not Get Rich, (which I never read), So Far From God, A Little Larger Than The Known Universe, What Colour Is Your Parachute, (which I also never read), His Dark Materials, and Brandjam. Some of these books have been with me for years, yet I refuse to incorporate them in with my own books, believing somehow, tenuously, that they will eventually be given back to their respective owners.

6. I loved him like no one else I had ever met in my life, but recently it eased back and closed over. All it took was sleeping in his bed, knowing it wasn’t mine, then driving away the next day. Now I’m absolutely stone terrified I will never care about anyone like that again.

7. For no particular reason, somewhere in my room is a birthday candle I kept from my third birthday cake.

8. Reading back entries into my journal can be like reliving the relationships I wrote about. When I started this journal, I had no idea what it would be like to have such a static essence of memory waiting at my fingertips. People I can talk blithely about now, or some that I mention not at all, are waiting for me there, frozen in time instead of (decently?) dissolved like jet streams. There is nothing in my life that can compare. My valued moments, they are not trapped in objects, they are there, freely available for the whole world to read. How I felt when that one danced or when that one cheated on me. It’s unreal, the immediacy. Photographs are not the same.

9. Sometimes horrible pop music is just going to happen in my house. Life isn’t all gamelan, mystery, poetry or jazz. Occasionally it is Blackstreet’s No Diggety on repeat for an hour. I’m not sorry.

10. “Will you sleep with me later if I ask you to?” He looks at me, blinks a moment, and grins. (We’ve only just met, though we’ve known each other on-line for years.) For a moment it’s like I’ve kissed him, then he ignores my question as if I never asked it, because it didn’t need to be said, and reaches out his hand. The girl next to him look confused, uncertain if she heard what she thinks she did, my words a spectre in the tiny industrial kitchen.

11. I dislike religion and ritualistic behavior. It is fine and wonderful and inspiring that people like to make themselves meaningful, that people try to be more than themselves, but to require emblematic props to do it offends me somehow, as if intelligent people should know better, should know they do not require symbols to attain self worth. (Also, I will judge you if you actually believe in astrology of any kind. Quietly, but it will be there. You! The offended one. Half a point. Docked.)

12. The last time I was sick, it was because of him. We had quarelled. I had walked home. It was freezing. Standing within his gravity again was sensory overload. Had it really almost been an entire year? My hands shaking as we said hello. Watching him stand at the podium, I tried to pretend I was a solid being, but my eyes tripped, caught by the enigmatic living miracle of his face. He still had me on a string. I didn’t want even a week to go by without a hello, but after the last time we’d seen each other he wouldn’t even answer the phone when I called. Instead I had to crash his party, all cameras and politicians, as if I was welcome, as if it were planned instead of a lucky accident of bus arrival.

13. If there is a book in the lavatory, it’s because I like to read while I brush my teeth.

14. Though Marissa, (who I later renamed Mishka, which stuck), and I were ten when we met, neither one of us had pierced ears. Mine because my parents thought it was cruel to do to a baby, her because her parents treated it as a coming of age. From this, I couldn’t have cared less while she could not wait for her sixteenth birthday. As it approached, she was practically vibrating with excitement about how she was finally going to get it done, so for her birthday party, I gathered all of our mutual friends together at the mall downtown to get our ears pierced with her in solidarity. (This took some managing, as one of the boys we knew, Charles, had a highly evangelical mother, who thought this was a terrible sin somehow). After an hour of waiting for her and calling her in vain, we finally got a hold of her. She couldn’t make it and had completely forgotten to tell us to call it off. Rolling our eyes, the group of us went through with one ear of the procedure anyway, with the intention to do the other one with her later. About a month after this, she went off with her mother one afternoon and had them done alone at a tattoo parlour, forgetting again about our group effort-in-waiting. As a result, I still only have my left ear pierced. For all I know, so does everyone else involved.

15. “When my husband came back from Iraq,” she said, and it struck me as it has before, completely new again, “I am in a foreign country”. Curled on the bed with my friends, it was easy to forget, the same way it didn’t occur to me later while I was away on my trip. Even when guns were involved. Too much about the USA will always feel implicitly like the word belonging.

16. I will not tag anyone in a meme. It is far too interesting to see who will pick it up for themselves without prompting.*

Where it’s gone from here: Ben Peek, Duncan Shields, Sarah Edwards-Noelle.

what sort of grown man makes his bed with hospital corners before leaving town?

I am grateful for the strangeness in my life. Yesterday I was out in the desert, dingy, busted up, covered in scrapes, bruises, and dirt, camping between an artillery testing range, salvation mountain, and a hard-knuckle death row prison, but I slept in Beverly Hills at an absent ex-lover’s decadently art deco house, wrapped in a familiar yakuta, all soft beds, home baked pumpkin pie, and wonderful hospitality. (Odd to be living here in the space of his absence).

I’ve no idea what today will bring.

hold it down

Moonhead, by Andrew Broder:

did you hear the one about the day the moon fell to earth?
it had a crater exactly the size of a human head on it
and it landed on my head and now my head is the moon.
or the one about the day a thousand lives from now

when we return as a team of archeologists
and discover fossils of ourselves in a former life
on the day we spurned our nervous twitch
and found our yearn to hint at winter bliss.
on the day the stars sang the national anthem of sweaty disbelief,
of coelacanth teeth, to scream loud enough
to shatter the roof of a coral reef
and the shrapnel ground up into paint
for robin’s egg colored dream and root beer float,
second hand flavored drool absorbers
and the words “hope” and “home” that sound the same,
smell the same as the day the doe caught a sad snowflake on her
tongue and melted it in an instant
and it tasted like the blackhole’s wild-eyed longing for light,
whether from the starts that radiate
or the planets that reflect it or the eyes that reflect the reflection,
or the eyes looking into those eyes and seeing the reflection of the eyes,
which if all goes according to plan,
will outlast the universe itself.


Lung is talking about bussing me down to Las Vegas to meet with him and Natasha somewhere near the end of November, and then traveling with them to the Salton Sea, finally to pick up the letter Kyle left there for me sometime last year. As November closes around me and the sun drowns in fallen leaves and crowns itself in flash flood puddles that mirror the endless gray sky, it feels less like a blessing and more like a fairytale already told, like somehow I missed it between one blink and the next, as if these places never really exist, but only hover over pages of books and mimic the careless sheen of photographs, haunting our collective conscious in a waking haze of forgotten days as long as winter dusk.

Out there is the storm, strangely calmed, another twist in the river, another chapter of life. Here is a pool of known days, painting, adjusting, David job hunting, tinkering with very little, watching a movie at home every two days. I’ve said yes. Of course I’ve said yes. I’ve missed Lung, his crackling humour, sharing our puzzle-piece twin set of anger and frustrations. There is no other answer. Now it rests on my workplace, if they will let me leave for a week, to work away for five days. If it all works out, I’ll bus down to Seattle after work on the 21st for Robin’s party on the 22nd, then catch a bus to Vegas from there on the 23rd. My fingers are crossed, my fingers and my heart and my bones and breath. My hope is an elephant living deep inside the cage of my chest, pressing against my skin, forged out of a cello’s long humming strokes of sound, invisible until an answer arrives.

Until then, I won’t know myself. I’ll be a string of notes without direction, as crazy eyed inside as unexpected blood on the hands, a tight rope walker with her lover on the other side and a den full of sharp toothed, hungry lions below.

Meanwhile, Antony and I are e-mailing back and forth, a piano falling from the sky. There’s nothing quite like home. Apparently he arrived in Montreal just over a week after I left, and he’ll be there until half-way through December, far after I would return from the south. Tag, you’re it. Unexpected, how life plays these games of just missed, all the way through, both directions. If he sends me his address, I’m going to try and make sure he gets another palm tree, to keep in touch.

Some times I am lucky and an entire week can go by without missing his laugh. I wonder, occasionally, that I am so changed within since we met. Given all that is fixed, will I ever want to be able to walk away again?

echoes, pretty little thing

SleepyCanSecWestJhayne, by Julia

“I made tea.”

So sweet, I stand in the doorway, looking back over my shoulder, an image from last year, why do they all sleep like that? One thin arm thrown over their face, head attempting to burrow into the mess of silk pillows that cascade across my bed. If I took a picture, it would seem almost identical to pictures I’ve already taken, heart warm in my chest, smile a permanent part of my skin, the camera a friend and confidant, recording like I love you, safe in this moment, embedded forever, or as long as my digital media will keep. How does life repeat like this? So slyly, so quietly, to perfectly the same, yet with different props, a different body, another frame of mind over reference over history over name. The division of minutes a lie, fabricated like music to make myself feel better about getting older while staying the same. I want flowers to fall from the ceiling, red and orange, a snowstorm of petals to announce this is new, define a change, to create an unreality in the midst of the repetition, floral scents as solid as mist, as solid as my feelings seeing this, as I look over my shoulder to see him in the bed, arm up and over, time traveling stock still, a year ago, a different man, yet still here.

COILHOUSE: magazine launch party

from their site:

Held this Saturday at Hans Haveron Studios this event will be stuffed full of excellence. Look forward to:

  • Art, photography & fashion exhibit
  • Refreshments, with Mer’s “special” Electric Lemonade
  • Incredibly strange music
  • Photo booth with weird medical props, straight from Zo’s cave
  • Wall projections of Issue 01 art
  • Your first glimpse at the actual magazine!

    Enjoy art.
    Become art via expert lenses of Polaroid superstar Lou O’ Bedlam and Zo! Style Technician’s own Andrew Yoon.
    Dress your snazziest and bring your friends.
    Everyone’s invited!

    I’m sending Antony as my proxy, as the second best thing to being there, but hell, if I were even a smidgen closer, I’d drop everything to attend. My friends are doing snazzy work and I support them 100%. (And, yes, one day I’ll get around to writing an article, I promise). I hope every single one of you who live down there will go and send me photos! My bleak little heart will break if you don’t.

  • I’m just twisting inside, uncertain how I will ever sleep again

    (I’m not giving up. I don’t feel like crying.) My restless heart is awake tonight. The love of my life so far called up from Los Angeles where he lives and works in Hollywood, tonight fixing the green screen behind a mechanized animatronic badger some pool soul created for a Wisconsin lotto campaign, because that’s just how the world is some times. He moved a few months ago, changed apartments, because his roommates were having a baby, and tonight she’s gone into labour. The father was text messaging him the scale of dilation as the news came in as he and his wife prepared in the same room Angelina Jolie gave birth to her baby twins in. Strings to my heart from his, I’m not sure how tonight I will sleep. David lives here like a knock-off imitation of the real thing, flushed with sleep in the bed behind me as I chatter, endlessly, joyfully, down south, a river of miles away. I wake him, briefly, when Antony’s iPhone runs out of batteries, and he’s grumpy with me, annoyed, red-eyed, and I wonder if he feels as displaced as I do. I still think of Tony as my boyfriend, my skinny mad lover too rich and too clever and too handsome for anyone to live up to. He’s a couple of weeks recently only a month begun dating a performance artist, some woman named Michelle, I think, with a mad friend he doesn’t like. He didn’t tell me before for gentle worry it would be cruel to send a note. Deliriously, he is right. (We are declawed, yet holding back our teeth, soft like cats, cinnamon and sweet.) He tells me that she isn’t very attentive, a whole week went by without a call, without contact, and I feel justified, while I laugh with him about fallacy, how we get caught in these dramatic traps like early twenties, just teens, just out into life. Before me, there was no-one for ten years, a decade alone, and all these details, streaming through my blood like jade in my arteries, not jealousy, but something more mundane, a sallow sadness, not very good at expression, that loves him like the sky, oh loves him still, and stronger than I care for anything else in my life, the one here I have been trying so hard to build, so keenly, like he’s a knife I hold in my hand to keep myself safe, the city nothing to me, the distance, the far flung dreams of walking, of taking one step after the other, until I find myself there, waiting at his door, flowers in my hand like a scream.

    the only theme I could find is black

    Sidewalk Psychiatry graffiti.

    365 day one hundred & eight: have a nice day

    This is a story: ink hair, Queen street, where the roots are, I walked barefoot, crucified by how beautiful he was, how beautiful he could be, I was unknown, achingly young, it was perfect enough for me. Learning the boundaries of narrative, learning the theme and flow of biography. Another: ink hair, on stage in love, wings as wide as geometry, meeting, a lobby, a lost book, a romance of hotel rooms and late night cameras, smoked with his passions, it was more than it seemed to be, and sometimes less. Summaries, diagrams, lists. An old project is percolating in my head with a newer idea, photographs, coloured string.

    He doesn’t like it when I chew gum, but he watches me take out my hair pins as if the act carries the same intimacy as removing my clothing.

    Being constructed naturally of disciplined angles, his only defense was to move with a maximum of constant, weightless grace.

    Chapter headings in the shape of their hands, page count off how much poetry I can wring from their skin. Something is taking shape: ink hair, a familiar bar, an unfamiliar feeling of awe, music parallel to skill, traveling the next day, his unmatchable grin, every day always too far away, a myth, circling the world twice to end everything thirty feet from where it began. If I took a photograph of every one and layered them, there might be details submerged, but perhaps a clarity for all of that. It looks like: ink hair, eyes meeting, singing in the street, a miracle, his poetry, his children later on the phone, impossible, the sweetest thing.

    Digital culture-inspired oil paintings.

    I’m waiting for my man

    Twenty-six dollars in my hand

    Took pictures of a doctor today, got off the phone with a photographer friend, made plans with a painter for later, going to a gallery tomorrow, giving spare keys to somewhere else, promised to wear a kimono, promised to find a home for a house-pet. A mask waiting in a box on my bed. Cats asleep. Words glistening like the fruit juice at my wrist as the sun falls down behind clouds, too far to warm my city, to light my room more than this screen might. Double exposure, the different brands of cigarette collected in a tiny bottle on my windowsill I do not empty, a model museum of names who’ve stayed the night. The times I’ve closed my bedroom door.

    Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive

    I have a cough for the first time in years. Walked home in the cold on Sunday night, upset, throat tight, by the time I arrived my clothes had frozen in patches where the sweat from my skin had wet my shirts. When I was done, after I had peeled off the cracking frost of frigid threads, I sat curled in front of a heater and sent a letter trying to explain why, what had been decided. Hat off as fire licked me. Silent. Too close. My body cracked open, left without a voice.

    Oh pardon me sir, it’s the furthest from my mind

    Daily photos continue, more than a month now, though always in stolen moments, never more than five minutes. Trying to stay alive has been fighting, trying to catch up from where I have been behind. All of my books have been read as my writing is put aside. My back arches, hanging from one ankle, I’m relearning, examining where I put my punctuation as I redesign where I keep my bones. New skills tying into old ones, applying left onto right. Cloth flaring from my shoulders as the fever breaks. Ink and memory soaked into silk, the shape of this fall the same as my pen. Someone shouting at me about Kafka as I remember to point my toes.

    Here he comes, he’s all dressed in black

    I keep hoping to hear from certain voices, dark haired creatures I’ve tied to the surface of my heart. Jumping in with both feet solidly planted on water, the waves of our phone numbers, the little cards I buy at the corner store late at night, embossed with maple flags, red and white, all the better when we flip through the books together, contrasting prices against countries, microscopic lists, the ritual of me and the girl behind the desk. She smiles like the taste of someone’s home rests behind her teeth, waiting to get out. Scratch off the possibly carcinogenic silver with a coin, enter the pin number digits, type the long distance, make a song of it, and wait for it to ring. Terrible, the wait for it to ring.

    He’s never early, he’s always late

    There was a promise of shirts off, standing where I asked, the placement of a camera, the fixing of a light. No time, in the end, as expected, suspected, being justified is never any fun with the things I believe of people. It’s not being negative if it’s realistic, however precious hope can be. Another time, some future we don’t know enough to plan, season shift, other cities, the places we choose to live, the furniture we fill them in with. Conventional wisdom. Dark lines drawn under every eye, cuffs and collar matched, like these are checkpoints to cross the same way I insist I buy flowers for men.

    First thing you learn is you always gotta wait

    If there’s one thing to learn, as much as anything, I need affectionate goodbyes.

    Until tomorrow, but that’s just some other time