bittersweet week


My plans have been falling through left, right, and center the last few days, near unbelievably so, but there’s been just enough nice to make up for it. I had two shoots this past weekend, one with Mishka and Jim, who wanted engagement photos, headshots, and wedding invitations, and another with Shane for promotional photos for his new website, and I might be spending this upcoming weekend in Seattle, following my dear friends The Mutaytor as they kick off their Pacific Northwest tour. (I was given an iPod touch for the engagement photos, too, which means I NOW HAVE INTERNET IN MY POCKET. So. Exciting!). Good times!

Today I’m processing my photos from the weekend, picking through and polishing, getting into the sort of flow I can get lost in for hours, and writing poetry back and forth with New York. I’ve already finished my first run through the engagement photos and soon I’ll be finished with Shane’s pictures, and then it will be time to start making Valentine’s dinner for my sweetheart, who I look forward to seeing. Things there have been an odd, bohemian mix of blissful and bizarrely unreliable, dotted with both raw adoration and vast misunderstandings, so the prospect of an actual “date” night, though unusual, is somewhat reassuring.

apparently a friend’s codename for me is ‘barefoot’

Antony Gormley – let’s all go barefoot.

Trying to find the house was a trial. First the bus was the wrong bus with the right number. Then the stop was the wrong stop with the right street name. Sixteenth masquerading as sixteenth. Tricky, painful, miles later, a dead end. Logic deciding direction, deciding course, turning back, scaling the blocks, my twisted ankle less reliable with every step. Hours of this, my shoes removed and put in my bag as a way to stop the blisters, an attempt to save my feet. The brace I wear snaps, broken. With a wry internal smile, I know I’m lucky. The day before this, there were not even buses.

Tony and I downtown, carried by the tides of the celebrating city during the Olympics Hockey win, were caught, Kafka-esque, as transit was shut down. For weeks the government had been shouting, leave behind your cars!, even going so far as to last-minute blockade two of the three major bridges going downtown, but at that final, critical moment, there was a failure somewhere and, though they told no one this, the buses could not get through. Unless you had a home on the skytrain route, (a four hour wait at some points), there was no way out but to walk.

If it wasn’t for the air cast Michelle gave me, there were several points where I would have quite simply collapsed, folded into an ungainly heap, an adult in the familiar shape of a tired child who cannot, not for the life of them, keep up even one more step. My heart goes out to everyone else who was stuck, I am not old, nor even terribly infirm, and our escape from downtown was crippling.

Yet, in the midst of my thanks, I am reminded of the rebound effect discussed in conservation technologies, as when new logging facilities become so much cleaner that the companies that own them can build six times as many yet stay within the pollution laws, thereby offsetting potential energy and environmental savings by chewing through more land while maintaining the same waste rate. In my case, like a more efficient car being driven twice as much, extra support meant extra time on my feet equaled further metaphorical trees being chewed through leaving me with clearcut purple bruises, only the barest ability to stand, and a hamstrung gait.

Truly, I an unable to be too sad that I have already walked through the bottom of it, wearing apart the linen with the venn diagram of persistence vs. gritted teeth vs. places to be. Having it for the last two weeks likely saved my ankle’s life, yet conversely, I did only seem to be saving it for slow suicide. With the Olympics exacerbating my desire to be out of the house, I was out every day, telling myself through the pain it would all be okay. I am flesh, I will heal, this too shall pass. Losing the air cast keeps me from that mantra, keeps myself safe.

Perhaps, I will now try to say, optimism to the fore, nights behind in my sleep, this will all be for the better, and I will remember to keep my walks tidy, tiny, and neat.

also ran into Shane, who gave me a We Are More pin.

Of everyone I know, Lung loves it best when I’m unemployed. He comes by almost daily to shake things up. It’s downright wonderful. Yesterday he met up with me and Michelle for tea, (her new seeing eye dog is adorabibble), then for a drive out to her place, where she showered us with books and gave me a simple air cast, so I can walk around without regularly collapsing in a sprained heap. Next week I’m going to start going out to her place to help her clean.

Today we’re going to visit Dominique and her tiny daughter, then drop in downtown to soak in some of the Olympics excitement and meet up with Mishka, who has a 4:oo Mariachi gig at Robson Square, playing on the stage downstairs next to the rink. The Olympics have been an exciting time for her – she’s going to be playing with Dan on CBC on Friday. I talked with her about it on the phone last night before their first rehearsal and it was absolutely lovely to hear just how far she’s over the moon! I’m always delighted when my friends connect, and even more when it tickles them so. Fingers crossed I’ll have the chance to take photos at their gig. (David told me after that I missed Dan and Shane being silly at Chapters yesterday, which was a bit of an damnit! moment, but then we got the ginger ice-cream out and the world was alright again.)

Later this evening, 8 pm later, Jess Hill will be playing at Cafe Monmarte with Erica Mah. Even though I’m not sure Lung is game for it, I know Ray will be, so I’m guaranteed to go. She’s amazing. You should go too!

They with the same hair from when we were thirteen

last night:

Sitting in Kino Cafe on Cambie Street, a place I am far too familiar with from when I was a teenager, out to support an old friend in the latest band she’s in with her brother. I am uncomfortable here, isolated, oddly part and yet not of the lives of the people involved with this evening. We used to come here all the time. The bartender would flirt and pour us drinks, even though we were underage. Fifteen years later, the bartender is gone, off to open his own place on Main St, but the place is little changed. As, too, are the people I am here with again.

Oddly, like the venue space, she looks almost exactly the same. The clothing has changed, but excepting that, the only thing missing are her braces.

Her brother, by contrast, I cannot see him as the person he is past the ruin of who he used to be. It’s as if someone has clumsily globbed handfuls of plasticine over the familiar corners of his body, rounding him out into the oddly bulky costume of a stranger. Underneath his new shape, however, it’s likely he is still a liar.

She is my conduit to these people, to this place. Her I named far more, in certain ways, than her parents ever did, a solid fingerprint the world does not know to see. “I don’t like my name,” she said when we met, and so by the time she was eleven, I had changed it, twisting the syllables until it described her face, until it fit her as well as her own skin. Little Mouse, she is, and for so long now that people commonly ask if she’s Russian. If it weren’t for her, I never would have come. Out of the twenty socially incestuous names I know in this crowd, she is the only one I would call my friend. For the rest of them, it was more that I was sometimes around, though we were all almost constant companions, present for almost every adventure, for years.

It makes me wonder if I should feel sorry, if there is something I missed, though I would not change our distance. Even through my disasters, I prefer who I am to who they would have me be.

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.

” I don’t want you to be disappointed”

66-year-old pianist Yosuke Yamashita, via Japan Today

A letter marked in chalk, the name dusty from neglect, the sound of sheets wrinkled September in my bed. The words are statements, the antithesis of lyrics. The paper is silent, lifeless except in memories that supply the absent voice. Well, I suppose that’s it then. Every time the phone rang, I almost wondered, but I couldn’t live like that – hopes hovering pointlessly over the receiver as my hand grasped and woke up my voice from where it had been hiding in the time it takes to light one cigarette, the time it takes to say hello.

One signal, a thread of blueprint, I wanted a reprieve, but that’s not what I received.

Rechargable Biologically Based Battery

It was meant to be Ray’s Mariachi Madness birthday party tonight, except that he came down sick. Some of us went through with the plans anyway, as they were a little too weird to casually pass up. The venue, up on third, proved to be a hole-in-the-wall school of some sort, split between Spanish and music classes, decorated in what I can only label Tijuana Church Basement flea market.

It was a one room affair, similar to a community theater show you might find in a film, complete with low, vaguely unflattering lighting, walls awkwardly studded with various traditional decorations, and streamers that may have been left over from someone’s Mexicana wedding. The stage was a raised area with banisters, like an ornamental bridge over a very tiny stream, but instead of a stream, there was a row of potted plants. Most of the attendees spoke rapid Spanish, as did the host of the evening, leaving our friend Mishka, the violinist, looking like a deer in the headlights. A deer in a jacket three sizes too big and a ridiculous hat, mind, but a deer nonetheless.

Not that we were doing much better. At one point, I turned to Wayne and mouthed, “what have we gotten ourselves into?” He replied, “hell if I know, but it’s awesome.” Not only was there Mariachioake, which is exactly what it sounds like, there was also a Mariachi Idol contest that involved volunteers from the audience getting up and howling, and, for one song, the band was led by a five year old boy who sang at the top of his lungs at the prompting of his pregnant mother in the back who guided him through the lyrics with hand signals.

It was like culture shock, but in our own back-yard. If the backwards dancing midget from Twin Peaks had stepped from the audience and taken the mic at any point, I would not even blinked. Staying until the end of the show already felt like suspension of disbelief.

I highly recommend giving it a try. If nothing else, the food is delicious and the beer very, very cheap. Friday nights at 150 e3rd ave, just off Main st. Music starts at 9 o’clock, goes until approximately midnight.