when you’re jonesing, you’re jonesing

Stephen Fry video birthday card to the Free Software Foundation’s GNU project

Tonight I leave for Seattle, which might not be the most clever thing I’ve ever done, considering that next week we leave for back east, (for which I have barely prepared for), but the ticket is bought, the plans are made, and I can’t help but look forward to it. A group of us are going dancing tonight, there’s ANACHROTECHNOFETISHISM tomorrow, then then Nicole rides into town with her imaginary boyfriend in time for Eliza‘s solo show on Saturday which we plan to follow with a night of sci-geek concertry at the Funhouse.

Next week, David and I leave for Montreal, (on the same bus as Karen New, coincidentally enough), and make or break our relationship as we travel together, nonstop for two weeks, six days of which will be spent on in transit, knees together, prairies outside. We’ve had a lot to work out since he took off on me at the folk fest, which hurt him more than it did me, and as he finds it significantly more difficult than I do to communicate, my patience has been eroded away, until I can’t bear to bring anything up anymore. I suspect that being trapped together in a bus will be, at least in part, a last ditch attempt to see what intimacy we can bring back from the ashes of his insecurity. Heavy, annoying, and heart-felt, I know.

Thankfully, there will be little stop overs in Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, and Ottawa! Yay!

In Calgary, Gavin and Michael might track us down for tea, in Winnipeg, my cousin Francis is going to swing by, and I might be lucky enough to reconnect with Darren in Ottawa. One thing remains, however, does anyone here live in Regina?

cue the strings

COILHOUSE wants your mix-tapes.

Going over the chocolate curls of his hair, pixel by pixel, checking for colour errors, it brings me back to his voice, to the way he looked at me, what we were talking about in that moment. Frozen forever in a smile, frozen forever fiddling with his hat, we are frozen together forever, as long as the magnetic media holds. Trapping these things is important to me, and after, I always wish I had taken more. A man standing, looking to me, bashful, gentle, as violently whip crack clever as a black angel’s heart. Overhead, we are trapped by the sky. There, I point my lens, where a line of dark humour finds the curve of his eyes, meets the curve of the sea that’s soon to separate our quiet promises, empty my bed, leave my sheets and blankets cold to my tired fingers, slice my mind from my heart.

I think about how precise the winter felt, the taste of the temperature, of the season. My indoor shoes had soles too thin for the frosted sidewalks, my hands not enough blood for the frost. I liked how he fretted, didn’t want me carrying things, but gave in against my steady wave of obstinance. I carried on, glad, as careful as possible, as velvet certain as only the oldest child of too many siblings can be. Raised to do this, navigating heavy black boxes over frozen sidewalks from the van to the stage, considering that all doors should always be about two inches wider the same way platform wheels never seem to point in the same direction.

The staff talked as if I were one of them. Casual, off-hand, slightly derisive of the people drinking at the bar. It was appreciated, it reminded me of the bigger picture, told me I belonged where I had escaped. I watched the stage, obscurely proud, taking notes on set-up for later. My perpetual need to be useful. When I ran out of things to do, I went across the foodcourt to the bathroom and yanked my hair into a knot in the bathroom, pinning it up with a pen, to came back ready to make other men jealous. Soundcheck. Percussion. Sound filling the room. Howls. When they were gone, it was sudden, it felt like the room had lost a front tooth in a playground brawl.

Samorost’s artist made a music video.

a verb’s action noun

Trucks like monoliths, grumbling gods to some sort of travel plan, the kind of yellow covered maps you only buy in gas stations. Row upon row, headlights as big as our heads, snow gritty with gravel, running to skid on the ice, arms silently flung out for balance like sweatershirt wings. We walked through them transformed from adults into children by sheer scale. Machines built by hands like ours, but unimaginable as only a collection of parts, a warehouse of nuts, bolts, and aluminium siding. Machines that growled, spit smoke, carried worlds in their bellies and dwarfed us, our chilled faces, our frozen laughter. The way I wanted to kiss him there, between the vehicles, between history, but didn’t.

Crunching white footprints leading back to the hotel and I still wouldn’t do up my coat.

My trip to Alberta was like a trip to Canada, too. It felt like time travel. Vancouver is warm winters, high heels in December, ocean sunsets, miniature dogs, Kitsilano graphic designer vegetarians with tans, fake nails, and eight word coffee orders. Twenty four hour internet cafes lined with serious young men with short hair, Mac laptops, and Clark Kent glasses, planning on working in video games, dreaming of going to Japan.

I’ve been anti-social since returning, picking my company with exquisite care, unwilling to give up my time away. My trip spoiled me with inspiration, with company, with care. The people I went to see put me back on my feet, lifted me from myself and gave me new direction. As we drove to the airport, he held my hand, and I gave him directions that included I was pretty. I worry that if I give myself back to Vancouver, I will lose the complex taste of these memories, that they will flatten and take with them that precious ice edge of rediscovery that we so sweetly forged together. The cloud machines, the black sticks of prairie fire licking the sky. How terrible to fade, to disintegrate like a chalk-drawing photograph left out in the rain.

I’m thinking of going back there

A straggler into my picture sale, this one went to Andrew Brechin,
Vancouver SCA geek, border guard, co-founder of the Topless
Wish Fairies, festival volunteer, & costumed Cthulu impersonator.

“We need to have an arguement.” “An arguement?” “Yes, you go first.”

Your hair, it will turn white with the collected frost from your breath, but it’s beautiful as long as you remember not to touch it. The sun shines for miles over the snow, glitters off your eyes, slices through your intense smile, but the cold doesn’t care. Bother your frozen hair, twist a lock around a black gloved finger, and it will break with a slight crystalline sound like glancing at a lover through a rear-view mirror. The chill will have won.

No one seems to jay-walk in Calgary, I don’t know why. It felt appropriate to jump from the train platform onto the street, to look around the back of a departing train to check for traffic, like it was a gesture immortalized in perfection years before I was born, waiting for us to inhabit it.

Inside the skeleton of the place, there seems to be a newborn energy, a sussurus as one wave of promise flows back and meets the next one sweeping in, like the folds of the sea worn like a dress. It will not live forever, but it seems to hold the eternal promise of apples on the tree, green as metaphorical money. Something sweet to be tasted, as long as you’re willing to let it ripen.

anatomical socks
how to use ruroshiki

You will learn the proper art of layering clothing, treating the textures of wool and cotton like gesso and oils. Your wardrobe will acquire a tinge of plaid, a wet dog reaction to rain. Walking inside is for locals, fifteen feet up in uncomfortably crowded pathways and tunnels suspended between downtown buildings. Outside is where it’s at, where all the cool kids hang, freezing.

By the day of departure, temperature adaptation had kicked in, and, except for the rumbling fixation on enthusiastically swollen hockey headlines, the newspaper was less foreign. There was becoming here, a tribe I could infiltrate. Remembering gloves had become automatic. The patterns of the one way streets, a familiar philosophy learned from a minivan.

Without mountains, the sky is unrestricted, the horizon the proverbial dog, tail wagging, waiting to run for days. Limitless. From the highway, North, the city looks like a scale model of an architect’s small, commercially printed card, something kind, with a phone number on the back. Inside invisible bounds, where unkind houses melt into the prairie, the city seems like a crumpled ship, collapsing the possibilities of flight into a very long walk.

&nbsp “You’re doing it again.” “Yes, well, so are you.”

as much of a relationship as I want it to be

Steady hands, voices like light waves, dark hair mirrored between the tips of my fingers, always a variation of the same kind eyes.

Backstage was downstairs, through a door to the right, then down a long nameless hall to the left so narrow I could almost touch my fingertips to each side. The room was that dark, unwelcoming, underwashed colour of the seventies that’s too depressing to be beige, with a large metal legged office table in the middle and a wall of long stage mirror with a bland formica counter running behind an open wooden slat pull-down door. Backstage was two toned, the laces of my corset reflecting behind me, our feet up on the chairs, his milk-chocolate hoodie given to him by a soundman somewhere where the ground never freezes and there’s no such thing as snow. Backstage was us and a pile of local newspapers that didn’t print our names. Taking pictures to perfectly capture his smile, making him look like a fashion model. How frightening.

When it came time, footsteps in the hall, ten minutes, I wanted the boy in the hall to be wearing a severe suit, something governmental, official, bearing the weight of strangers. Instead, he was just a boy. Ten minutes. Okay, alright. Clear plastic water bottles, a small pile of clothes about to be pushed to the floor. Rather than helping, I slipped hands underneath his t-shirt. Soft dark fur, the sweet, thin pelt of a sleek sea creature. Otters, shape changers. Let them cry and they’ll return to their previous life, singing under the waves. Ten minutes. Hide his skin. Pen tied wild in my hair, body flat against his back, I hid my grin behind his shoulder. “Are you ticklish?” He pinned my fingers, matching my pleased expression in the silver glass, and didn’t try to do anything but tell the solid truth. S.O.S.

I have typed the word “fuck” today more times than I have spoken it the entire year

He was an ______. Everything hateful about the teenage brain. Ignorant yet opinionated, hateful, and crude. “You want to be remembered? Find some fucking ten year old kid with an ice-cream cone and shove it in his face. Bloody his fucking nose if you can. I guarantee you in fifty years, he’ll still be telling that story. That’s fuckin’ immortality, yeah. That’s being famous.”

It was easy to dislike him, even on sight. The semiotics of his clothing said he was aggressive, stupid, and mean. His uneven buzzcut matched his acne scars, matched the half smoked American cigarette that sat behind his ear, (looking like he’d fished it from the floor of a dirty men’s room), matched the cheap nylon sports jacket, matched the greasy whine of his voice. His accessories all looked stolen.

I was sitting across the aisle from him on the bus, on my way to see Michael for the last time before I left town, trying to concentrate on reading my lovely new book, and instead building up a quite justifiable loathing for the redneck prick loudly mouthing off beside me. He sat facing backwards in his seat, feet braced against the backrest, all the better to dispense his wisdom to the lapdog thug-kids he was talking to. Within reach, I thought.

“What you do is you shit on the pile of coats, fucking piss all over them, then fade back into the party. Someone will come out, say something fucking stupid, like, “hey, I think someone’s maybe shit on everything,” ’cause no one wants to be the fucking guy who says there’s shit, right? And you don’t say a fucking word. No one will know!”

My first impulse was to spook him, my second to drag him off the bus and pop him in the head. The story I was reading spoke of redemption, hatred, the torture of self-knowledge laid bare. I opted for my first idea. Less messy. Only gods and brave doctors know what he might have, anyway. One split knuckle is all it takes. Yuck.

Back in the day, I used to work for this six foot five Russian cowboy ‘from Old Country’ named Boris. A secretly teddy-bear NYC bouncer turned Toronto nightclub owner, he could be easily be the scariest man you might ever meet. I’ve only got one photograph of him, sadly, but in it, he dwarfs everything. It wasn’t his size, though, that was so intimidating, it was how he used his voice.

As the bus pulled through the intersection at 14th and 11th, I stood up, borrowed every actor’s trick of body I know to make myself seem as solid and immovable and as confident and nasty as possible, and I put my hand down hard on the boy’s shoulder. He looked up at me, rattled, surprised, people don’t touch strangers in the city, and I leaned down, met his widened eyes, conjured that wonderful Russian terror and very quietly said, “In my country, we kill children like you.”

Then I got off the bus, met Michael, and we had a lovely pot of tea. So there.

I don’t know where Lethbridge is, but the name is nice

Standing on the C-train, I’m looking out the window, trying to pinpoint what stop I need to be closest to the bookstore, (I had accidentally left my book, The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, on the floor of the taxi we took from the airport to the temporary hotel), when she taps me on the arm. “Excuse me,” she says, and asks a woman’s name, something with multiple syllables I don’t exactly catch. “I’m sorry, no. You’re mistaken.” I reply, shaking my head. She’s somewhere in her fifties, well dressed, slightly expensive. The top of her head comes up to my chin. “I’m sorry,” her voice catches, “for a moment.. you reminded me of my.. my daughter.” Suddenly, she’s crying. I reach forward, take her in my arms, and let her lean into my body as she crumples. What else is there to do?

We stood like a statue of women welded together until the train slowed into the next stop. “Are you alright?” She nodded into my chest, took a deep breath, shakily stepped back, and thanked me. “Would you like to go for coffee?” I asked, “Talk about it?”

I bought her a dark hot chocolate and sat with her in an oversized chair, our knees touching. “She was the sweetest thing in my life. We had the same colour hair, but her voice was her father’s, do you understand that?” I said that I did, and she continued, “I was wonderfully young, around your age. Such a nightmare. I felt so stupid. We searched the whole place, got security to shut down the doors, check the parking lot. Didn’t matter.” Her story was sad, terrible, simple, and not unexpected, considering how we met. About twenty years ago, she said, her nine year old daughter was snatched from a Lethbridge grocery store.

“This is only the third time I’ve ever mistaken someone for her, you know, and the other two people wouldn’t give me the time of day.” I put an arm around her and she rest against it, warming her tiny hands on her cup, and we sat, silent, with our heads together. “I’m glad you found me,” I said. “Me too.”


Worship Sloth

Snow is falling outside that looks like television storm static, a confetti illusion drawn across the world in monochrome pointillism, as if the sky’s receiver needs a bunny ear adjustment. Nick is playing some nasty war game with excessive amounts of shooting and I’m curled up on my couch, warm with upcoming plans. (So far, there are only people I love in my in-box today.) There’s dinner with Gavin and his lovely, meeting up with that Mike at the airport for midnight, and somewhere in there, I’m going to go ice-skating with Michael’s skates again before I give them back. (I haven’t fallen yet, obviously I need to try harder). The day feels full of light, as if it were suddenly okay to walk barefoot, as if the cold couldn’t touch me through my tenuous contentment.

Floria Sigusmondi’s updated her site.

Yesterday Nicholas and I went to the Zoo, (which is large and interesting enough that I recognized it from the plane). We began with exploring the Canadian Wilds section where the elk, owls, sheep, and fairy-tale wolves lived. There was an ocelot as well, continually pacing it’s cage back and forth, back and forth, dreaming of freedom and the delicious flesh of screaming toddlers, and the smallest adult moose I’ve ever seen. The place felt abandoned, as if we were on an adventure in a ruined city, looking at the map and checking to make sure we weren’t going to run out of sunlight before we found shelter. We only managed to see about half of the rest of the park. The African section had the most flinchingly cute animal in the entire zoo, a tiny, solitary meercat perched atop a rock, giving us all the eye. Across the room from it was a giraffe and the first hippos I’ve ever seen. I was struck most not by their bulk, but by how artificial they looked, as if they were rubber-skinned animatronics, poorly designed.

three shots left and then it’s all over

To re-cap: In an effort to fundraise for my time in Alberta this week, I’ve been selling digital prints on commission for ten dollars each. So, in return for ten dollars, I sent a digital file large enough to be nicely printed. My pay pal address is bloodkrystal at the hot mail dotty com.


the eleventh labor
This one is for Duncan Shields, a Vancouver writer
(contributor to 365 Tomorrows) and video game animator.
beyond repair
This one went to Jason Sullivan, a microchip designer and
dabbler in AI.

quick into the snow

Alright, so Calgary is cold, but not that cold. Of course, when it came to nip out for groceries at night.. I… uh… I didn’t go. I quite happily stayed behind in the warmth and safety of Sean‘s living room. Win!

We’re going to go out-door ice-skating tomorrow evening and then to One Yellow Rabbit’s preview of Gilgamesh. I’m calling Gavin Monday morning and Mike will be showing up any day now.

Should be fun.

Can this get any more inconsequential?