Standing Cat in boots!
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.*
Warren started a good New Year’s tradition last year, asking his readers to post a new photo of themselves along with a message to their future selves. I took part and promptly forgot about it, until he posted again this year, reminding everyone to “Go back and look. Drop a message back there to your past self, and let them know how things went.”.
Looking back was a profoundly odd experience, both distant and intimate, and my post felt incredibly difficult to answer, as well as follow up. It is generally the difficult things, however, which are later the most worthwhile, so I took part again, and expect to keep doing so for as many years as I remember.
This is my letter for this year, to the Jhayne of 2010:
You just took this picture with the camera that Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s photographer gave you to use in lieu of your dead one. It’s been that kind of year. Hold onto the wonder of that, hold onto that progress and use it to the last possible drop.
Unfortunately, when you took this picture you had to hold the lens on by hand because the bouncer who searched your bag last night dropped it onto cement and cracked the lens. It’s been that kind of year too.
Other things have happened which have been just as unexpected in both directions. You broke off with That 1 Guy, but met David, and have been trying to make a life with him to some stable success.
You traveled more this year than you have since you were a child, and for the first time you revisited every place you’ve called home: Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto, L.A., and San Fransisco. (The friends you made in those places are important. Keep in touch. Send those packages you’ve been thinking about, it’s never too late.)
This upcoming year, you’re going to start selling prints and get more serious about creating. You’ve been supporting David, and that’s been taking a lot out of you, but once he gets a job, insist on that time for yourself. Insist that you keep up the 365 with no slacking. I want you to write more as well, to stay up late and pound on the keys about something you care about, and see if you can’t post every day, too.
That said, I want you outside more, too. You live in Vancouver, it’s got trees and things, you might as well go visit them once and awhile. I know you want to spend all your time working to pull yourself out of debt, but there are other priorities too, and you’ve well discovered that keeping up the network will net you enough travel to keep you from going completely crazy, so don’t worry about it so much. Find more interesting things to be concerned about. The more you go outside, the more you meet people, the more likely you are to fall in love. You miss being in love, I know, because I’m you and it aches inside like an essential part of your life has been scraped hollow.
Also, go to New York. You know why. And get your driver’s licence. And your passport. There are people who have said they will pay for it. Stop feeling too indebted and bloody well take them up on it, or I’ll come over there and thrash you, see if I don’t.
ps. learn to code, too, and get that website happening. a huge chunk of your life is on hold because you don’t know how to make what you need.
January – Seattle was the escape I needed. Not only does it have a refreshing amount of honest-to-mercy architectural and social diversity, it seems everyone I know there is brilliant, fun, and good-looking.*
February – He’s young in that way that teenage girls find attractive, fizzing with ginger enthusiasm, wiry, laughing, his arms beaten with a couple of tattoos.
March – Ray and I are going sailing on a Viking War-ship tomorrow! Anyone want to come?
April – Once upon a time when time was shivering apart and memories seemed more real than reality, the girl who fell from the sky and the west coast hacker king came to an agreement.
May – A clean uniform of friendship, tattered in places, worn in the elbows and the shoulders, but strong all the same. I think of stone, how it erodes too slow to see, though it shapes itself to the wind almost perfectly.
June – Walking across the street in the rain, there’s someone in front of me with a spiderman brand popsicle, the blue eyes two wan gum-balls that look like they were manufactured years before I was born.
August – Something’s wrong with my internet at home. It’s corpse blood sluggish, and flickering faster than an animated disco.
September – The weekend was spent moving David from his cave apartment of the mysterious smells to a pleasantly crooked #9932CC-darkorchid room in an old heritage style house on Arbutus street, right across the street from the Ridge Theater.
October – Something I can’t seem to get over is how much mind-bogglingly delicious food there is in Montreal, for incredibly cheap.
November – We’ve decided to paint the guest room library the colours of a Hypselodoris nudibranch bullock, but darker and a bit richer, leaving us with aubergine, pumpkin, sunflower mustard, and crimson red.
December – Today we’re hitting up, (or on, your pick), Lou O’Bedlam, Frederick’s of Hollywood, Kevin again, (who will hopefully have recovered from his sudden death-flu), and somewhere delicious to eat, hopefully in Venice, with dear Crunchy of Mutaytor if we can line up with her lunchbreak.
I’m stuck on #92.
Darling Min has tagged me with The Sentence Meme. Her result was so charming, I could not resist.
1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next three sentences in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.
6. Tag five other people to do the same.
“The map does puzzle Tantivy. It cannot be put down to the usual loud-mouthed American ass-banditry, except as a fraternity-boy reflex in a vacuum, a reflex Slothrop can’t help, barking on into an empty lab, into a wormhole of echoing hallways, long after their need has vanished and the brothers gone to WW II and their chances for death. Slothrop really doesn’t like to talk about his girls: Tantivy has to steer him diplomatically, even now.”
… from Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon.
This is where instruction number 6 asks me to place five of your names in a row. However, rather than pick and prod at the lot of you, I’m going to add two favourite passages from Books I Have Never Read.
”The light changes and he has that wish again: that every step he ever took left a neon footprint. Every step, from his first to these. That way he could catch up with himself, track himself through the city and years. See that the last time he walked this block he was tipsy or in love. Here determined, there aimless like today, no particular place to go. If he could see his footprints, he’d know his uncharted territories, what was yet, and where never to return. Some of the old stores are gone since last time. What comes at their address is bright and shiny like new keys. New keys fit new locks. It is rare here that the new establishment is more downscale and if only he could make his self and ideas like real estate: ever higher. God knows he has tried to keep up with the changing market but his new shirt will only go so far- once they step inside they recognize the same old merchandise and demur. He has swept up, his brain gets so dingy sometimes, but they will not see his renovations and he is a dead trade, something remembered only by old phonebooks. Blacksmith, knife sharpener. Walk faster.”
…from The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead.
“From the sky a frail black fragment, tumbling as in a dream, drifts down to settle on my arm. Upon it, barely visible against its black, the faintest silver tracery of lines may yet be seen: a gentle curve that is perhaps a stream or else some buried lane, the clustered spidermarks that may be trees viewed from above.
It breaks against my wrist and falls to dust, caught by the wind to scatter over the cremation fields.”
… from Voice of the Fire by Alan Moore.
1. I take his hand to mine, press the palms together. “Our hands are almost the same size. I hate that I forget these things,” I frown, “but I do.” Our fingers lace and a concrete feeling of being helpless in the face of wind flows through me. He feel delicate, as if I could collect him effortlessly in the curve of my arms, curled like a black and ivory flower. He glowed at my birthday present and flashed it to everyone, smile like a searchlight, showing me off, my cleverness, my care. I am drowning for affection, but I can tell I’ve been torn down too much. My best efforts to memorize him, the way he danced in his seat, beating a musical tattoo against the table at the restaurant, won’t be enough. I will forget, these moments will fade, lost in the wreckage. Stricken with this thought, it is all I can do to put my eyes elsewhere. My role is that of the cherished escape, the lovely creature that will stay witty and safe and warm. To be otherwise would be to admit defeat. I look down at the table with relief when someone launches into a story about working with the Smothers Brothers and try to genuinely smile at the Bill Cosby anecdotes.
2. Before my accident, I was quietly training to be an aerialist. I loved the feel of the cloth, the clever twists that let me safely drop from the ceiling to hang by one ankle, gently spinning, four feet from the painful ground, the ability it grant me to fly. My fall from grace, I have never forgiven.
3. “I really do love you, you know, with what is left of my heart,” I whispered. Innocent of indecency, those were the words pushing at me through the dark, insisting in spite of the forsaken ache in my chest and the possibility that our intelligent friend in the next bed was only feigning sleep. He said nothing in reply, but held me tighter.
4. I didn’t wear skirts until I was 17. I still don’t wear skirts that hem above my knees unless I’m going dancing.
5. Filling in for my ferret is a small silver pin fashioned to look like one that I wear on my coat lapel. I bought it during the holidays, though I couldn’t strictly afford it, because I’ve been beginning to find myself standing in my dark kitchen at four in the morning, cuddling his tiny frozen body, and something in me is aware that sort of behavior is so generally frowned upon that a substitute must be made. Thirty dollars is worth a more conventional flavour of sanity.