shamanic fishing tackle

The buzzer at two:thirty in the morning, a brief sound, then a longer, more insistent beep, as grating to the ear as that alarm clock you meant to turn off, but didn’t. There is a wind storm outside, huge, tossing, beyond chilly. November brought snow once already. I decide to ignore the buzzer. It is likely, as it often is this time of night, for one of my more illicit neighbors. A junkie hitting the wrong button, someone drunk maybe, wanting to get in from the cold. I decide to leave it, but then it comes again, irritating. Deliberate. A voice calls from outside, but the weather tears it away. Defeated, I put on my permanently borrowed hoodie, draw up the zipper, and step out to the hallway in my stocking feet to go downstairs, too tired to puzzle out who it might be, too awake to simply let the stranger in.

It isn’t a stranger, but it is, in a way. Someone who used to be a friend, though not anymore. Hasn’t been for years. “Hey Jhayne!” He’s almost shouting through the glass, over the wind, weirdly cheerful. He must be freezing. “Do you recognize me?” He takes off his ball-cap and runs a hand through newly cut hair. “Hello, K-. Yes. It’s quite late. What’s up?” The last time I saw him it was difficult to get him out of the apartment. It was exceedingly uncomfortable. I had to involve a knife. He talks through the glass door, motioning for me to open it, but I shake my head no. That seems like it would be a stupid decision. He’s bigger than me, I’m tired, and he has a bicycle. As if to prove my point, he launches immediately into a well known scam, twenty dollars for gas for some guy he met down the street, sketchy details and a giant smile, as if it isn’t the middle of the night, as if the storm were instead a sunny, summer afternoon, as casual as butter. I gesture, dismissing the patter, “I’m going back to bed K-.” His grin becomes manic as he sees me begin to step away. He talks faster and faster. “But, do you have twenty dollars?” “No, I don’t. We barely have bus-fare. You still owe me rent. This isn’t a place for you to ask for help anymore.”

For a very brief moment he almost looks like he used to, before the drugs ate him up from the inside out, cracked the inside of his mind, and I raise my hand against the glass, like visiting a zoo exhibit, a glimpse into the past, and he puts his fingers against mine. Maybe one day he’ll be better, a father to his daughter, a friend again. But no, he doesn’t stop talking even as I try to say goodbye, too locked in his message, his bright, strange smile, his uncomfortable face. Finally I just walk away, his words, muffled by the glass, smearing into background noise as I slowly go back up the stairs and to my apartment, where I make very certain to lock the door.


Riding through Crackton this morning, there was no one on the street. It was suspicious, so suspicious, even the Theives Market was gone. The corner of Pigeon Parked looked like an abandoned movie set. Benches were not huddles of homeless, forts of shopping carts and tattered blankets, shouting about drugs, threats, or Jesus. I could see police farther down one street, bunched at the mouth of an alley, clapping their dark gloved hands together against the chill, but no other evidence of anything that could have happened. My bus went by too fast. Yesterday our regular junk strip was our regular junk strip, all howling, dirty, and dangerous for tourists. Where did everyone go?

can’t wait for the parade of lost souls

A close-up of a wet leaf taken by “Sophie” with a Canon Powershot A610,
from Editor’s Choice Macro Photo Gallery.

My Own Private Tokyo, by William Gibson

Nuit Blanche was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever taken part in. I came out of it exhausted, but feeling newly born. Slumped at a table at the Gladstone Hotel, trying to pull up the blinds behind my eyes long enough to focus on a breakfast menu, I was as useless as a corpse at a dance party, yet feeling better about the world than I had in a very long time. Merciful hell, it was good to be home.

Being back in Vancouver is harsh. My daily bus-route takes me through the heart of Crackton, where junkies scream in the streets, collecting like politics destroyed, running into traffic, swearing for Jesus and mercy and junk. Used needles collect in the gutters and hide in the cracks of the sidewalk, shattered plastic a lot like the people, waiting for someone to care enough to pick them up. There are always police cars, as persistent as the obscene graffiti and greasy breath of the people who cage rides on the bus, bags of found cans and bottles slung over their shoulders, teeth missing, spider prints of tracks inside their arms. Before I left, I was used to it, but now, having spent a few weeks in places more civilized, where such ghettos are unheard of, it’s grating at me again, like it used to years ago, before I became acclimatized.

7 things you thought you could recycle, but can’t.

As a result, I can feel myself hiding, taking refuge in my apartment and the changes within it as we prepare for David moving in to replace Karen, who’s moving out to be with her boyfriend too. Narratives converging. We spent most of Monday moving in nine bookshelves bought on Craigslist that we’re going to use to convert Karen’s bedroom into a library for our fourty boxes of books. I know it’s not quite escapism, we’re doing something useful, staying in, but that’s not what it feels like as I consider my morning commute to work through the blown out neighborhood that abuts the downtown.

Men with tangled beards, muttering about tangled affairs, clawing at their stomachs as drug cravings tear at their insides. Women in miniskirts, scarred down both sides, prostitutes who look like they’ve survived explosions, who might have been only thirty once, maybe even just last year. Children dragged behind single mothers in lycra and t-shirts, fed sugar water and kraft dinner, skin pocked with malnutrition because the school system doesn’t care enough to feed them when the parents can’t afford to. Cat fighting in the alleys, pushers and johns, addicts and the crippled that our health care system left behind. (There’s even an entire genre of YouTube videos which involve semi-drunken suburban college boys cruising through in their cars, pointing cameras out the windows, with soundtracks that consist almost entirely of “holy fuck, lookit that!”). There’s nothing else like it in Canada. It’s heart-breaking, skin thickening, horrific, and one hundred percent howling day to day.

Yet, somehow, Vancouver got picked for the 2010 Olympics. Hope all you Canadians are voting today.

There is a saint created in lonely iron.

I undid the top buttons of my shirt to let him press his hand against my heartbeat. The heat of him held me down, we were like statues in the midst of madness, the only still people on Heroin Row. Crackton’s the one place in town that I won’t take my shoes off. We were an island, addiction beating as waves, as sound around us. Singing and screaming, people yelling and scanning the sidewalk for dropped rock or cigarette butts. There’s no darkness to hide in that doesn’t already have its own slurred speech. It comes at you from all directions, the pleading of the needy.

I used to live there, right behind the Carnegie, in a strange space in the basement of what used to be a vintage bank, all grand ceilings and open floor. The shambling creatures that used to be humans are familiar, the hounds that chase them nothing new. Once I woke up there and opened my eyes to daylight and the sight through a crack between the curtains of a prostitute shooting a syringe into the base of a mans penis that she was firmly working in her mouth. He screamed, but I suspect he liked it.

Nocholas is coming to town today, an impromptu plan. Plans for today are somewhat fuzzy, but I don’t think we need any. He’s going to call when he gets into town. If anyone’s interested in meeting up, give me a call as well. He’s got some phone numbers but not many.

Which reminds me, Andrew‘s lent me a hand held PDA thing to keep phone numbers and writing in. I’m trying to get rid of my phone avoidance and actually call people. Part of this will be having phone numbers on me rather than in a single, mostly old, list on my computer. Part of my problem is that when I meet people, I tend to collect their numbers on little scraps of paper which soon get lost or on my hands which end up being washed before I write the digits down. This PDA idea, I am finding it exceedingly useful.