I took Lung and Nicole to a film shoot at the Burrard Street secret stairs last week, where we took a ton of pictures. The sound inside was beautiful, like the ocean on a rainy day, but heard through a megaphone, crackling and thrumming and incredibly comforting, and the light was so perfect it was almost unreal. I’ll post more pictures later, as I get to them.
Stayed up two nights in a row, not for any other reason except that I have, and maybe a little that I find it more and more difficult to sleep without Tony.
Earlier, across the street at the auto body shop, someone was using an overhead announcement system to have a speaker phone conversation in arabic. Without context, it sounded like a rehearsal run recording of a middle-east political rally speech, the sort blared from speakers mounted on the roof of a car, blues brothers style, solid, unexpected, surreal.
I liked it. Over here, at my apartment, I’ve been moving furniture while listening to electronic klezmer jazz, shifting everything out of my room, stripping the walls, preparing it for painting. Most of the furniture’s been moved, and all that’s left is my computer and the bed, the latter of which I am simply going to pull into the center of the room and abandon under a sheet. Initially my plan was to ready the bedroom, leave town, then paint it when I got back, after all the pesky cat hair had settled, but Nicole, bless her, stepped in today with some last minute corrections. Sure, ready the room, but don’t pick up a paint brush, she said. Instead, she’ll paint it for my birthday while I’m out of town! Leaving me only with the hard task duties of being glad, grateful, and moving everything back in.
I was pleasantly surprised when she suggested it though truthfully I felt immediately stupid that I didn’t see it coming. After all, it’s a sweet gesture. Sweet, thoughtful, and entirely within character, considering the trail of super improved apartments she’s littered behind her or the recent threats to professionally power-wash Wayne’s deck, the better to complement the flower gardens she’s been inflicting plant by tiny plant on his jungle-neglected yard. Nicole is many nice things, smart, attractive, witty, and fun, but when it comes to home improvement, she is also a dedicated angel with a fiery sword. Or, as in this case, a sopping wet paintbrush, out to murder some beige.
Staring into the sky, wondering at the blue, mesmerized, I caught the corner of my bag on the edge of a newspaper box and immediately turned to apologize. The world is turning, bringing my patch of Earth into sight of the sun, yanking flowers out of their buds, insisting we all move forward, drag ourselves out of wool coats towards the light. I am meeting Michael for lunch again, as I have every day since we met on the bus two weeks ago. We sit in the park when the weather is like this and eat our sandwiches lying on a blanket made of our overlapping jackets. Soon it will be summer and we will no longer need our coats. What then? Perhaps I will keep a cloth folded in my desk for our noon hour picnics. Perhaps by then we’ll be dead. Why think about it now, when the sun is out and company waits?
Laid out on the bed like a window display, later, Michael and Emily, Randa and her kitten, Nicole and Ray, hiding from hockey, from being outside. Someone laughs, percussive, a wildfire spreading. I smile as I stand in the doorway, warmed, another full pot of tea in hand, (the mellow red packet marked JOY in black letters), feeling welcome in my social space for the first time in a very long time, following the breadcrumb sound like a trail in a forest. It has been too long since I’ve had friends over, since I’ve done anything but hide out of town, too busy dismantling the quicksand feeling of holding onto a stalled relationship to have people over during the week or really go out. Already it’s gotten dark, but we don’t care if it’s getting late. We’re sitting in the comfortable jewel-tone pillow heart of our own entertaining light.
365: 41 – 10.02.09
Thank you to everyone for the overwhelming response to my post regarding the potentially illegal use of my image in a pro logging campaign. Your support is appreciated and very welcome. I will do my best to keep everyone updated as information comes in. So far I have yet to discover what company it was or even when the campaign ran, but I’ve tracked down the photographer, (a very nice fellow I do not want to damage), though have not yet spoken to him, and have been promised a copy of the poster, which I will likely pick up next week. (I can already tell I’m going to feel uncomfortable having a life sized poster of myself in residence. Creeeeepy.) Everything else is going to have to wait until I get back from my weekend trip to the states.
Which reminds me…
Come out to a show, point us toward where the good food lives, or even just say Hi!
We’ll be arriving in Portland late tonight, probably too late for anything special, but should have almost all tomorrow free for exploration, meeting people, and general bumming about. Our current Things To Visit is a whopping list of two, (Sock Dreams, Voodoo Doughnuts), so we’re open to suggestions. I think we’ll head up to Seattle late Saturday morning or early afternoon, and spend the rest of our weekend there, with a quick Sunday gig stop with Mike in Bellingham on the way back. Bon voyage! I can’t wait to get out of dodge.
The original plan was only for Nicole and I to head over to LIME, a Japanese restaurant that used to be a Turkish restaurant named RIME, (just because, that’s why), for a friend’s gig and some GirlTalktm, but by the time Thursday rolled around Nick, (who I had sort of not-quite-secretly set her up with), was part of the party and I had agreed to pick up cat supplies from Dominique, who had put her suddenly feral kitty to sleep. So instead of taking Nicole’s little car and heading straight to the restaurant, we ducked through downtown to Dominique and David’s place with Nick’s van and visited with their new tiny little wonder for a bit before hauling the cat stuff out to the van and heading back to the Drive.
It was incredibly cold out, with a thick cake of ice on almost every side-street, the result of cars packing down snow. Nick’s a fairly good driver though, so it wasn’t until we got stuck on a surprisingly steep bit of low hill near Commercial Drive that we started worrying. Nicole and I were all for slowly backing up the way we came and trying another street, one with a shallower slope, but Nick had tire chains in the van and decided to use those. Or rather, one of them.
Truthfully, if he’d used all his chains it likely would have worked, but it was freezing out and he didn’t have gloves so he only used the one, leaving his other front tire to spin wildly as he floored the gas, trying to get some forward momentum going. Within a minute, at the same time Nicole’s phone rang, dark clouds began pouring out of the hood and a pedestrian ran up to us shouting, “Fire!”.
Black smoke started pooling in the van almost immediately. Nick, ever able, quickly popped the hood and jumped out to discover incredible flames licking his engine, so I grabbed my camera bag, yanked myself out of the van, and tore Nicole’s door open as soon as I could stand on the ice, “Nicole, time to get out.” Once she was clear, (explaining to her friend on the phone, “Sorry, can’t talk, car’s on fire!!”), I reached across and turned off the engine as Nick used frantic handfuls of snow to put out the crackling fire. Exciting times!
Lucky us, the disaster was a small one. By the time a local resident ran up with a fire extinguisher, we’d already doused all of the flames we could see, rolled down the windows to let the smoke out, and started laughing the adrenalin off. We were fine. It was Nick’s new van that was in trouble. The fire had been behind the engine where we couldn’t make a closer inspection, so we could only theorize at the damage. Our guess, based on the horror movie strobe of the dashboard lights, was that maybe a wire had been sitting somewhere it shouldn’t and caught fire when part of the engine overheated.
We moved the van as soon as we felt it was safe, gently rolling it back down the hill to a corner parking spot out of the way. Except for aforementioned flickering lights and some strange sizzling noises, it seemed fine, so we looked under the hood again, trying to figure out what was hissing, a futile thing, and decided what to do next. Nicole’s suggestion, “Gently drive it home”, was a great idea, except it wouldn’t turn on again. When Nick tried the ignition, all the internal lights went out with a very quiet pop. Somewhere in all of the uneasy hissing engine sounds, the electricals had given up the ghost. We couldn’t even roll the windows back up.
After a bit of talking and a bit of sitting and a bit of turning into ice, we decided to simply abandon the vehicle for a tow truck in the morning and continue on foot. Nick wrote a note that said ENGINE DEAD, ALL VALUABLES REMOVED, I left it pinned to the dash, and we walked the rest of the way to the restaurant where it turned out the food was delicious and the company even better. Thank mercy we’re all cheerful people. The End.
Jeepers, I thought last night was unexpectedly exciting, what with successfully hooking Nicole up with Nick for the holidays, finally meeting Dominique‘s new little baby, SURVIVING NICK’S NEW VAN CATCHING FIRE, (no one was hurt. I pulled Nicole out and we put the fire out with snow), and admitting rather bashfully to someone that I wrote about our personal life on the interblags, but today’s news sort of trumps it, so I’ll just get it out of the way and talk about yesterday in the next post…
“Skate to Chanukah music or watch and nosh latkes and doughnuts.
Monday, December 22, 2008, 6:00-7:30 pm.
West End Ice Rink, 1750 Haro Street (Between Denman & Bidwell).
Admission: By donation. Skates are free.”
Which sounds, on the surface, like it’s going to be a Yiddish Icecapades, people dressed as sparkling, spinning dreidel, singing songs and throwing glitter under a rainbow of lights, but apparently it’s something a thousand times more hard-core bizarre. Something I would never have the wit or imagination to think up myself.
Did you get that? Shaped like hockey sticks.
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. Well, really, I decided and David took a look at what I was talking about and said, “No, you’re not too geeky. That’ll be awesome.”
Which means, as Nicole pointed out, my apartment is beginning to unintentionally match my hair.
She stayed over on Saturday night and watched Ghostbusters with us, after we helped her emergency move this weekend, instead of going out for Hallowe’en. (Ray was going to help her, but he accidentally bailed, leaving her in a bit of a panic, her car shaky from a Friday accident and too small for her things, so I called up my mother and asked to steal her and her van for the evening.) The whole thing was a giant ball of sticky, fidgeting stress, all wrapped up in her raw and recent post-accident break-up that left her spending Friday night in her car, but my impromptu rescue thankfully worked out. David and I were enough to help haul things out of Nicole’s a day overdue storage container, my mother’s van was a perfect fit to tetris cram in absolutely everything, and her room was just the right size to set up her bed and neatly avalanche pile her things on it without breaking anything or making a mess.
Seattle-kilt Tony came by for a Saturday visit too, which was also a treat, though a less fraught one. We went for breakfast at the Pannekok House with him and a batch of equally fun-clever Seattle folk, (and David and Dominique, though obliquely, as they were one table over), then dervished our way from there to tea at my place, where Nicole had holed up to take a shower and decompress from her awful Friday of Stress and Doom. (You did catch the theme there, I hope.) It was nice. The four of us sat in the living room and played with Emerson the Emo Bunny, drank honey lemon ginger tea, and shockingly didn’t talk about anything terrible. Next time I’m in Seattle, I’m going to try to make sure to see him. Next time, too, I hope to bring David. It’s about time those southerners met mah man.
December 3oth, Nicole and I stayed up all night, painting my apartment. Plastering the walls, sanding, priming, coating the baseboards with chocolate coloured latex, re-lining my terribly beige bay windows with white. The plan was to spend all night painting and have dusty magenta up on the longest wall by dawn, but we didn’t quite make it. The crooked walls of my apartment require a lot of patience and an awake, steady hand. We started in the evening, light-checking while there was still the barest edge of sunset in the sky, and packed it in around five, thinking it was better to quit before the sun came back. We only took one break, around three in the morning, to deke out and fetch some food. (On-line, Alastair stayed up too, the dear creature, at his apartment, working the muppet-coat New Year’s card until the music looped properly and we had a working load screen.) There was a lot of laughter, a lot of talking about boys and travel. Plans we’d like to have, places we’d like to see. It was really nice, the best way I’ve ever wrapped up a year.
I had reason to be extra glad how late we stayed up. December 30th here is December 31st in Australia, which means that Mike is five hours behind, but a day ahead. Long-distance, sure, but that’s why calling cards are made. “Happy New Year’s! We’re painting my apartment fuchsia!” It went straight to machine, and I was so tired I couldn’t have told you what message I left, but it made me happy to make the gesture, and that’s really all I need. I went to sleep around seven, smiling, the day already well begun.
This one, a collaboration with Frank Roberts,
went to David Lawson, Connecticut UNIX
sys-admin for a company that hosts
CMS software for newspapers.
Saturday Night: Crawling up the I5, radio on, I put a spell on you, watching Seattle fade from the windows, I flashed upon The Power Of Ten, a science-fact short film on-line that zooms out, then zooms out, then zooms out again until the screen is only full of stars. Somewhere, in all that tall glittering chaos of Saturday night dreams and entropy, he must have been walking. Head down. A tangle of black hair. Easy to lose in a crowd. Then, out. And all I can see are buildings, streets garishly flooded with cars, cruising teenagers. A minivan of boys cat calls at us as we cross an intersection, I wave at them and Nicole laughs. Out. Now it’s a city reflecting poorly into water. The rooftops of skyscrapers, threateningly postcard perfect. She asks me if I have a comfort food, a cookie, maybe, shaped like a musician, large enough to cuddle with. “I wish I’d kissed him more”.
Saturday morning: Getting on a plane, Beatles music humming in my head, because the world is round, it turns me on, bland colours, folding clip seatbelts, as waiting becomes doing, fearful of cold, becomes the air over the Cascades and a pair of new gloves. My carry on, a camera, a book, a borrowed memory card. Seat by the window. Shoes off, wondering if I’m going to come back with all my toes. His voice echoing up from Texas.
Calgary and Edmonton are both showing temperatures of minus twenty something. I can’t even fathom minus twenty-something anymore. I don’t think it even hits minus twenty on top of the mountains here. In practical terms, what does that even mean? I fail at being Canadian. Sure I own a vintage beaver fur logger’s hat and chug maple syrup like it’s water, but I certainly don’t go to Tim Hortons, understand hockey, say “eh?”, appreciate the Blue Jays, smoke pot or understand temperatures below minus six.
Friday night the star-fall was beautiful. Some were so violently bright, it was like we should have been able to hear them shred through the atmosphere. On our backs in a row under the too-cliche starry night, we irreverently cracked jokes about proverbial movie endings, but still gasped every time the sky impossibly ripped open with light.
The language of morning, music, two silk black cats, a matching short kimono, claws hooked into the chain of a pocket watch like an eccentric playful ribbon. Knocking down the mess. Sorting papers, shifting things into drawers, off the floor. Work at three o’clock.
Free of the future, he lives on the same block as my boyfriend who killed himself the night we were going to be together. I can see his bedroom window from the back porch. It’s unsettling. I’m almost breaking down, every word I’m holding on, trying to gain some equilibrium. My friend is telling stories that flow like an archaeological river. He’s been doing it for hours. Acid trips in London, working with Peter O’Toole, where he was when the Berlin Wall fell down. They go well with the house, his implacable gestures. I try to memorize as much as I can, anchor myself, keep the car running. Catching myself in a simple mirror over his shoulder, the naked frame is a prison, I feel like a photograph hung on the wall.
Walking towards breakfast late in the afternoon, one block down, someone has gracefully drawn absolutely perfect hot-rod flames into the dust coating a black vintage pick-up truck. It looks like something my buried love would have done. In my mind, I rock back on my heels into his body and, with a silent smile, I gesture to my friend, stuck on his cell phone, who sees it and smiles back. Suddenly, everything will be alright.