something new to learn on piano [bravery takes many shapes]

the bird and the bee – polite dance song, directed by Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric.

[…] Since I’m asking so nice
Would you just entertain
There’s nothing left to hide you away
Just show a little bit of brain

Yes that is what I mean
That’s the nail that I hit
I try to be as coy as I can
But I wanna see your naughty bit […]


We fall asleep facing our laptops; two beds, eight hours away. I have practice at this, at living far away, at being untouchable, unreachable, lonely yet loved.

The first person I had such a thing with lives here in England. He’s the reason I have the eight hour time difference from Vancouver to London permanently memorized. Our correspondence set the foundation for this place. Years of it, years of talking late at night, of mornings together, of chats and distance. There are hundreds of letters from him in my folders. Hundreds of pictures. He kept me writing, coaxed me into taking pictures. In many ways, he changed me from writing to being a writer, kicked it off, back when this journal was almost new. Back when I believed people who said nice things to me.

I was only a few years older when he hurt me, sliced his way through my center, sliced until I bled, and worse, then put me in a book full of sex that opened yet another crooked little vein. (This starts the part that’s never been public). Perhaps it was meant as a surprise? A surprise like the awful things I found out about him, how he used people; a surprise that sent everything sour.

With the open eyes of an adult, I can see that I was prey, but it took many emotional years, and many, many others to come forward with similar admissions. Women in pain have reached out to me from New York, London, San Francisco, Berlin, Toronto… We’re in so many places! There’s so many of us we might need a name. I collect them, now, his talented discarded. We are a small network, but we’ve started keeping track of the others and making friends. He has excellent taste.

I never asked him why I had a starring role in his first book, our relationship was already critically wounded and we had almost bled out by the time it was published. Was I the first? It seems too unlikely to be true, even though it’s what he said at the time. I’ve also never asked the other woman named in the novel if she had been consulted or what her place in the mess might be. Her name was easier to spot, the public attention must have been massive. (A mutual friend told me that she wasn’t, so I’ve filed her under “One Of Us (potential)” and crossed my fingers that she’s been okay.)

But I have been considering it lately. Now that I’m living just outside London, I’m only an hour’s drive away from his house. Two if I take transit, not even as long as a film. (Closure is such a pretty word. Sound it out! It’s beautiful.) Maybe I should reach out to her, the way the others have reached out to me. Break the silence, try not to fumble, and then, perhaps, ask him for tea.

It has been a long time, but I’ll bet his phone number is the same.

take a penny, leave a penny

I <3 commercial drive

I recently stumbled upon a guerrilla back alley library about a block away from my apartment. It was full of odd titles, mostly romance novels and soviet tracts, but sprinkled liberally with terrible summer beach books, too, the sort you buy at the airport for the flight then never read again. I borrowed a copy of The Third Policeman and left behind A. A. Milne’s Now We Are Six, one of my favourite books from early childhood. If you would also like to donate, or even just browse, it can be found in the alley between Francis and Pender, a half block west of Commercial Drive.

Today’s Best Spam Subject Line: Can Lupus Sufferers Use Henna?

Rise Up Fallen Angel, an imaginary exploitation poster

Rise Up Fallen Angel, an imaginary exploitation film poster.

Yesterday was a good day. It started fraught with computer problems, the stupid sort that feel like steel wool endlessly scrubbing against the back of your eyes, but ended on a high note, with a visit to A. that left me feeling better than I have in weeks, to the point where I caught myself beaming at strangers all the way home, waving a broken stick of flowers I picked up off the ground. Oh dopamine, how I have missed you. It’s left me feeling super productive and significantly less like I’ve been crushed by steel plates. Not quite myself again, but a step in the right direction. I got up at eight and have been working on neglected tasks ever since, answering e-mail, putting away laundry, calling people, making plans, and continuing to tackle the broken hard-drives of idiotic doom*.

*First I could see the hard-drive, but not interact with it, then after Joshua worked on it an hour, it was discovered that the case was too old to be supported by Win7. Then, after the case was swapped, the drive, ostensibly a terabyte, refused to show up as anything but 1Gb, while the SeaGate software specifically meant to fix such errors has refused to run. Kill it with fire.

There’s been other good news, too. Tony’s going to be in town this weekend, up for a visit with me and Tamea, and staying here on Friday, the better for dancing and Saturday breakfast together. Apparently I’m being paid for my gig with The Short Story Long this weekend and my antique bureau should be selling soon, too, (see all my listings), which should go a distance towards clearing away my credit card bill and getting me down to Seattle for my NYC trip.

Unemployment has left me financially devastated this past year, so it will be especially delicious to finally shoot down some debts. To wit: EI sends me monthly letters, asking me to pay them back over a grand. ICBC calls every three weeks, reminding me to pay off $100 in fare evasion tickets someone put in my name while I was in Montreal. My credit card’s maxed out, a slow death that one, used up on groceries. I finally did all my taxes, dating back ten years, (minus 2010 and 2011), but through the magic of interest, late fees, and general tax evils, even after living below the poverty line for a decade, I still owe them $70. It seems like the worst part of being poor is that the system is set up to keep you there.

But back to the good stuff! David was just promoted to manager of the Yaletown Book Warehouse! Not only will he be finally making a living wage, soon he’ll be able to start saving to go back to school to be a primatologist. Related to books, but more personally, I got to meet Zsuzsi Gartner, one of my favourite authors, at her book launch for Better Living Through Plastic Explosives. She’s going to be doing a reading at the VPL main branch on May 11th that I’ve decided I cannot miss. Also, the Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret is hosting a pay-what-you-can, tickets-only-at-the-door show at the Roundhouse on Sunday, 2 pm. Would anyone like to come with?

five dollar books for you to eat

Hey Folks, I’ve still got a load of five dollar books for sale. See something you like, drop me a line and it’s yours!

•The Family Tree, by Sheri S. Tepper.
•The Fresco, by Sheri S. Tepper
•Raising the Stones, by Sheri S. Tepper

•Where is Joe Merchant?, by Jimmy Buffet
•Tales from Margaritaville: Fictional Facts and Factual Fictions, by Jimmy Buffet

•A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain
•A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
•Agnes And The Hitman, by Jennifer Cruise and Bob Mayer (hardback)
•An Area of Darkness, V. S. Naipaul, (hardback, import)
•Any Human Heart, by William Boyd
•Don Quixote, In Memorian to Identidy, by Kathy Acker
•Future Primitive, by Zerzan
•Hannibal, by Thoma Harris
Moar reading! Classics, sillies, and lots of words!

well, there’s the holidays taken care of, all at once

McSweeney’s is offering a bloody delicious deal this week, The Bundle To End All Bundles:

This gargantuan, 13-book bundle earns you a treasure trove of reading material and quality paper goods. Perfect for you, your friends, your co-workers, your relatives, and any combination thereof!

This bundle includes:

Read Hard ($18 retail)
The Better of McSweeney’s, Vol. 2 ($18 retail)
The Best of Wholphin ($19.95 retail)
The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket ($11 retail)
The Wild Things fur-covered edition by Dave Eggers ($28 retail)
The Furry Journal ($12 retail)
Misadventure by Millard Kaufman ($22 retail)
Animals of the Ocean (in Particular the Giant Squid) by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-on-Whey ($18 retail)
Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary by Justin Green ($29 retail)
Comics Section from the San Francisco Panorama ($10 retail)
The Clock Without a Face by Gus Twintig ($19.95 retail)
Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon ($24 retail)
Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids’ Letters to President Obama ($12 retail)

Regular Price: $224.00
Sale Price: $75.00

the books I have on the go. what are yours?

  • Kathe Koja’s newest novel, Under the Poppy, has been adapted for an immersive stage production slated for 2011 at the Detroit Opera House!

    I’ve been talking about books a lot this week, but it’s only just occurred to me that I never seem to tell anyone what it is I read. Ridiculous, considering how much of it I do, even now, after I’ve made it a mandate to only read in interstitial places like line-ups or on the bus. (I’m going slowly blind, in that way where the more I read, the faster my eyes disintegrate, and yet… and yet.. books! Reading! The world!) The closest I come is when I press a title upon some unsuspecting friend. “This one!” I say, “It’s essential. It will broaden everything, give you an entirely new framework of reference.” Or, “It’s fun, the main character only talks in rhyme.” So, in the interests of disclosure, and to line them up in my mind, here’s the books I’ve read from cover to cover in the past four weeks, some for the nth time:

    Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi, Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain De Botton, Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente, (my latest favourite book), A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by David Eggers, Clouds End by Sean Stewart, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky, and Spook Country and Zero History by William Gibson.

    Intelligent, graceful fiction, touched by poetry and the hard, clever edges of the technology sector? Delicious! Probably the best run of tasty books I’ve had in years. Plus, Palimpsest was a surprise delight. I was completely devoured in the first three pages, and still have yet to make my way back out. Fingers crossed for as lucky a streak-of-good, I’m currently wading my way through:

    The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker, The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike, The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 edited by David Eggers, (already a favourite), and Tony’s copy of Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull that even at page 92 I’m still not sure I’m going to like.

  • today I offer you plush toys

  • Monty Python Killer Rabbit with Big Pointy Teeth Plush Toy – $10
  • The Muppets: Animal, 18″ Posable Plush Toy – $25

    I chose to start with my books for a few reasons. For one, I have more books than I have anything else. There are more of them in my room than there are places to put them. They stack in piles, some here, some there, and they take up the entire top quarter of my closet, which could be better used for other things. For another, even though books are wonderful, they are heavy, bulky, and cantankerous to move. It was also a test of my determination. Few things carry as much resonance as a well loved book, so perhaps if I can be ruthless with my library, I can be ruthless with everything else as well. If I am to escape Vancouver, I will need to travel light.

  • “Half-heartedness does not reach into majesty.” -Rumi

    365:2010/11/09 - train

    I went through all of the books I own today and put most of them for sale on my new blog, minimalfox. (See Books: The First Wave for a glimpse into my long, long day). Deciding what to keep out of the wealth of words was a difficult process, as many of these books have been with me a decade, well loved and repeatedly read. The Summer/Winter Queen books, for example, would make such a perfect gift for Tony that I wince to put them available on-line, while it is only through sheer obstinacy that I managed to list my Kurt Vonnegut at all. But still, I was weak. Of the books from the closet, I listed only fifty. Of the books from the bookcase, I’ve set aside almost a third to keep.

    If they all sell, however, I may barely have enough books to fill one small shelf, but I will have enough money to buy a winter coat, pay off the threatening part of my credit card, and save my web hosting.

    That said, please take a look at what I’m trying to fund-raise with. Everything on offer can be found on my Sale Listings page.

    fyi: book things

  • Amazon Filler Item Finder, Certain items at qualify for free shipping, but sometimes the purchase falls short of the minimum $25 needed to receive the free shipping. Enter the amount you need to see a list of products that qualify for free shipping or try the firefox extension or greasemonkey script that will remind you to use when you are short of the free shipping limit.
  • Book CloseOuts, One of North America’s largest sellers of Bargain Books; new, unread books that the publisher sells-off in volume to reduce excess inventory. Sometimes the publisher printed too many copies, in other cases bookstores purchased too many copies and have returned them to the publisher for credit. The books therefore have been handled a few times but are still in excellent condition.