saved from my own ways by beautiful boys

sanfran leap
San Francisco 2008

My summer is about to explode. It has already started, a little, (I sneaked into a rave on Friday night, spent Saturday on a cross-Atlantic guitar lesson with Richard, Saturday night with dear friends at a dinner, blowing people’s minds with synchronicity, and Sunday at an epic wedding that involved a boat, a full-sized, bright red, radio controlled dalek wedding cake that shouted EXTERMINATE, (part gluten free, too!), a hexacopter ring-bearer, and friends from six or seven countries), but this past weekend was just the amuse bouche.

My comrade Nathan is taking us to Cirque Du Soliex’s Totem tonight for my upcoming birthday, then we’re leaving on Thursday evening for the Sasquatch Music Festival. The line-up is absolutely fantastic, many of my favourite bands are playing, (Elbow, Mogwai, Die Antwood, The National, Cut Copy, TuNe-YaRds, etc.), and it’s going to be our first road-trip. I almost cannot wait. I feel like a little kid, counting sleeps.

Then, on the way back, Nathan is dropping me off in Seattle and I’m going to California for my birthday, courtesy of my ability to fit into a suitcase AKA a sweetheart’s business trip to the Google mothership! Flexibility pays off. Apparently I’ll be flying from Seattle on the 26th or 27th and staying for approximately two weeks.

I leave Canada in four days, but know zero about my flights or even where or when I’m to meet up with my dear B. It is so strange and yet delightful to know I am to be travelling, but not know when or precisely where to. It’s like a trust exercise with the universe that I am surprisingly completely fine with. Are we meeting in Seattle? In California? Where? No idea. I have zero information, but it’s.. gratifying? It feels proper. Makes it more of an adventure, for sure.

I imagine I’ll be taking the train a lot back and forth between SF and Silicon Valley for the first week and tucking in for work during the days, but other than that, my time is open. B. will only be there for the first week and mostly busy with work, which is a bit sad, he is smart and sassy and wonderful, but I’m still thrilled. Once I wave my kerchief goodbye to him at the airport, I’ll couch-float with friends in the Mission or the Castro or the Tenderloin.

The only plans I have so far: Jed and I are making sultry eyes at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind on May 30th, (come with us!), and Richard has informed me that must visit him at the Vulcan on the first Thursday in June. And Morissa says I can use her house for a birthday dinner party! (Party date as yet to be determined). Other than that, it’s almost all a giant question mark. Do you know of anything going on in SF between May 26th and June 6th-ish? Let’s adventure!

Then I’m back to Seattle for a week to go to the the Georgetown Carnival and the Power Tool Drag Races and all that fun stuff. Maybe play some flaming tether ball. Mars and I are learning to be friends again, too, which makes Seattle much better to visit. I don’t know if B. will be around, but I hope so. (If he isn’t totally sick of me after sharing a hotel room for a week, that is. “Why are all the towels stained scarlet?”, “Why is my pillow purple?”, “How did the room ceiling end up covered in glow-in-the-dark stars? Are those constellations.. accurate?”)

I plan to return to Vancouver on June 15th, immediately put my passport in for renewal the day I get back!, collect certain papers from my mother, Vicki, that she’s bringing back from Ireland, do all of the laundry in the world, maybe throw a quick Vancouver-based birthday party, then head out to Ontario. The plan is to go to REcon (June 23rd – 29th) in Montreal via Waterloo courtesy of Ian, my besty who wants to drive up from Ontario in my fine company. Improbable, yes. Possible, very. I owe his cat Dewie about a thousand snuggles. And I think he’s starting to get tired of carrying his favourite Internet Girl around in his phone à la Her. And Audra has offered us her charming AirBnB apartment in Toronto for a couple of nights, (she has a cotton candy machine!!!), so we could home base out of Toronto and visit with people and stay up late in the city rather than having to go back to Waterloo. I’m sure we’ll use it, as I’m five or six years overdue for a visit and the good people just keep piling up. I even have an uncle there I’ve never met who seems supracool. Why don’t I live in Toronto? I Do Not Even Know.

We’ll be stopping by in Ottawa on our way to Montreal, too, to stop by the river market and stuff our faces with scrumptious berries and sugary beaver tails and APPLY FOR MY IRISH PASSPORT WITH THE EMBASSY! Happy birthday to me! I’m Irish! I HAVE EU AND EVERYTHING. As of, like, six days ago. My mother, bless her, went to Ireland as part of a Canada Council art project with Paul and took the packet of my needful documents with her, followed the very detailed instructions, and has filed my birth with the Irish government!

REcon is apparently a marvelous time, too. It’s run by Hugo, who I love to hang out with at CanSec. I’ve never spent as much time with him or his friends as I would like, so this is perfect. And apparently the Circus Festival starts in Montreal on July 2nd, so maybe we’ll get away with sticking around for a day or two longer for that. Either way, I plan to get fat and happy on delicious food, hug a lot of people, dance my face off, and ride a lot of city bikes. Christine wants to go to the new Cirque show, Kurios, too. I approve. There will also be chocolate and a stop by Santropol. Oh yes.

And no, I don’t know anything solid about flight dates on this trip yet either. IT IS ALL A FANTASTIC MYSTERY.

And then I’m in Vancouver until ToorCamp. (That might be for less than a week, oi). ToorCamp is another hacker event, but in Washington State on July 9th. Nathan wants me to go with him, so of course I said yes. Hopefully my passport will have come back by then and I’ll be good to go. I don’t know much about it, except that the people I know who’ve gone in the past are all excellent.

I have also been tapped to work as the Art Director for Hacked Festival, another hacker event from August 11th – 14th, but this one in Vancouver. It’s their inaugural year and maybe I’ll be able to help, even though I’m barely going to be around for the next few months. (Apply to be a speaker or an artist naow!) I’ve told them about my travel schedule, but the founder met me at BIL and he seems to want me involved anyway, so I might end up going through with it just because. If that ends up being the case, that will fit in right after ToorCamp. And right before Burning Man.

I have a number of options for Burning Man this year, but I think I might be tossing a bunch of them over to stay with a lawyer friend from Seattle. Not only do I appreciate him a metric ton just in general, I cannot get enough of his art project, an infrared photobooth. People step inside into pitch blackness, the infrared flash goes off, and though all they see is a small red light, the pictures look like they were taken in daylight.

And then, come September, rest. Playing with ferrets. Adventure is fine, (dying is fine)but Death), but I’m going to miss my ferrets. Pepper and Selenium are the best.

TLDR; If all goes well, I’m going to live out of a suitcase this summer.

the basic essentials of burning man: a packing list

As of today, I have 14 days until I leave with Robin and Nathan for Burning Man 2012.

I am not even remotely prepared. I can't even pretend that I am remotely prepared. The two people I'm travelling with are two burn-virgins, too, so I am somehow the most experienced leader of our little pack in spite of being the one with the least resources to pull on to prepare. To help them, however, I've put together a pretty good basic packing list.

In order to properly survive Burning Man, you need:

A tent with serious tent pegs and a shade. A sleeping surface. Warm bedding. A bicycle with a basket and a headlight and a lock. A big cooler. A camelbak style hydration pack. High SPF spray-on sunscreen. A sun hat. A warm hat. A warm coat, the fluffier and bigger the better. El-wire, battery operated string lights, or other equivalent light sources to attach to your bicycle, your bag, and your self. Two headlamps. A dust mask. Goggles. A week of food. A week of water. A camp-stove and fuel. Boots that go past your ankle. A camp chair. A light for your tent. A hair-brush or comb. Wet-wipes. Vinegar. Duct-tape. Batteries. Zipties. A pocket belt with clips. A small tub or pot. A first aid kit. Wrist or pocket watch. Luggage tags to put on your tent, your bag, and your bicycle. Sunglasses. Ear plugs. Antiperspirant. Toiletries kit. Daytime summer clothes. Superglue. Scissors. Nighttime winter clothes. Anti-chafing powder or gel. A flashlight. A kilt or pants with pockets. A water bottle. Energy and vitamin drink-mix powder like Zip-fizz or equivalent. A travel mug. Toilet paper. Playa Friend Map. Bike tire repair kit. Bicycle chain lube.  Safety-pins. Lip-balm. Soap. Dry shampoo. Bungee cords. Ziplock bags. Cocoa butter. Sanitizer. Carabineer clips. A folding hand fan. A mirror. A cooking pot. A hammer. A good knife. Extra socks. Trash bags. A multitool like a leatherman. Raincoat. A sharpie. A set of silverware. A lighter. Condoms. A towel. Moisturizer. Make-up. Costumes, including a tutu for Tuesday.

If you wear glasses: Glasses repair kit, spare glasses, lens cloth.
If you wear contacts: Contacts, extra eye drops, spare glasses, lens cloth.

Anything on top of that is gravy. You should, of course, bring fun things – stuff to share, bucky domes, toys, bubble guns, musical instruments, flags, water guns, parasols, stilts, crazy art, fire dancing tools, stackable snap-top bins or plastic drawers to keep your stuff sorted, lanterns, shade structures, hammocks, gifts, or whatever sort of general fabulousness your creative fancy can conceive – but on the whole, those are your survival basics. You might get by without safety pins or scissors, but bring them anyway. Treat everything on the list as a requirement for your own safety. 

If you bring a camera: The playa is made of a corrosive alkaline dust. Use tape, like electrical tape, to seal every seam on your camera. (Underwater protection bags suck.) Bring a large memory card and a usb cable to dump your photos with, so you don't have to open your camera. Try to charge your battery through usb only. Keep any lens not attached to your camera in a heavy-duty ziplock bag. Also bring, if you can, a tripod or mini tripod and a remote flash.

Do Not Bring: Anything that sheds MOOP, Matter Out Of Place, like feather boas or chunky glitter or sequins. Bananas. Made-in-china style swag "gifts" to share. (Gifts should be beautiful/interesting/useful.) Red twizzlers. Seriously, just don't. 

Pre-playa preparedness: Car tune-up. Bicycle tune-up, including el-wire installation. Fill your prescriptions. Give the Burning Man Emergency contact link to appropriate parties. Read the Burning Man Survival Guide. Extra key for your vehicle, plus a magnetic thinger to stick it to your car with. Buy your water as close to Burning Man as possible. Water is heavy and will negatively effect your gas mileage. Seal one set of clean clothes in a zip-lock for your return trip. Double-check you have the appropriate accessories for everything you are bringing, such as batteries, a can opener, an air mattress repair kit or power-cords. (You may not have electricity or internet but other people will and if you ask nicely, some of them will let you use it. There is also internet at Center Camp.) Seal anything metal, like batteries, in a zip-lock. 

Edibles: I recommend vacuum sealing your week's worth of food and freezing the bags flat before putting them in your cooler so that each meal acts as an ice-pack. Try to put aside at least two favourite meals. If you can, have enough food to share. Try to give away your left-overs to save on possible spoilage. Also bring MRE's, meal-in-a-bottle drinks like Ensure, canned fruit, fruit cups, energy drinks, energy/protein bars, oranges, dried fruit, smushed fruit food like apple sauce, pickles, cheese, chocolate, summer sausage, pudding snacks, crackers, cookies, juice boxes, candy, and other assorted shelf-stable snacky things. You won't want to eat meals during the day, but you're constantly using more energy than usual, so you need a lot of small, quick hits of calories. Playa makes sugar taste better. Bringing extra alcohol is also good to offer to others. (Bailey's is especially appreciated by those that usually drink cream or milk in their morning coffee).

While on the playa: Leave all of your valuables locked in your vehicle, including your wallet, especially on the Burn Nights, Saturday and Sunday. Carry hydrating liquids, goggles, and a dust mask with you at all times. You may only intend to be gone five minutes, but you may not end up back for five hours. Even sober, the shiny things will distract you. Be visible at night or die. Remember your ticket is a waiver for death and act accordingly. Because the playa is alkaline, try to soak your feet in vinegar water at least once every two days to keep yourself from chemical burn and injury. Most people do so while eating breakfast to help beat the heat. Garbage, if burnable, should be put in a fire barrel. Large fire barrels are provided at each keyhole plaza at the end of the week for trash disposal.


Tom Waits + Cookie Monster – God’s Away On Business

I’ve been spending almost all my time in Seattle preparing Tony’s things for Burning Man, packing while he’s at work, sifting through the dusty gear and left over supplies tucked away into the storage closet from last year. Now that his stuff has been put in a van, it’s time to look at my own things again.

Re-pack suitcase. Re-pack laptop bag. Double-check camping box. Double-check shelf-stable food box. Freezer-test fruit juice bottle-sicles. Charge all the things! (camera battery, cell-phone, ipod, laptop). Empty the camera card. Get a bag of ice, a hairbrush from the pet store, some bag clips, some terrible road snacks. Pretend I feel ready. Eat all the perishables out of the fridge. Eat some ice-cream for luck. Do all possible laundry. Pack extra batteries. Swap out the purse for the pocket-belt. Fill ipod with new music. Mend Tony’s band jacket. Print out my Burner Map. Download and print Rockstar Librarian’s 2011 Burning Man Music Guide v2.0.


“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” – Thucydides

I’m packing for Burning Man today. I feel unprepared because everything feels so last minute, even though I made sure to make an excellent reference of my suitcase last year and I’ve already collected and tested out the majority of my heavy camping gear. (Repaired the air mattress, rinsed out the water jugs, tested my tent in the park across the street). I only have days to be ready, instead of weeks. I leave for Seattle on Tuesday, then I don’t get back from New York until the 23th, at which point I turn right around and go back South again, a flame headed pendulum, slicing not hours but days from the time I have to prepare. There’s no margin for error. If I miss something, the only chance to get it will be on the way, which is likely to be scoured clean of supplies by other Burners.

I have to pack for my New York trip today, too, which, even though it’s only a quick weekend trip, feels almost more overwhelming given that we’re going to not one, but two fancy dress occasions. How do you pack for a costume ball when you don’t know what to wear? My stress amuses me, though. I feel blessed to have #firstworldproblems.

I’m hacking my cycle today as well, kick starting my period two weeks early rather than having it hit me in the desert. (The first cup of tea was a wash, made by accident with rosehips in, but the second stinging cup has been okay, should be enough. Mint instead of raspberry, that’s the key.) Odd that tinkering with my basic biology has been the least stressful part of the day, but there you go. Maybe I should pack my seriously silly-sized tutu. That and a corset. Too overdone? Hard to dance in. And red stockings. Do those exist in Vancouver? They must.

This on top of the 1500 photos I have to cut down to 50, print out, and assemble artfully into an erotic pillow book for a client. (I’ve already cut it down to under 500 and I’ve been staring at a perfect ass for so long I’m starting to think I’m at Addrianna’s house.) Sleep? What’s that?

I bought my train ticket to Seattle. I leave Wednesday, then fly out on Friday night.

Rebecca nadia duncan

This past weekend was exhausting, the sort that feels alright to leave behind. Saturday was eaten up by David’s sister’s wedding, a strange affair out in Abbotsford at a family restaurant, small, informal, slightly terrifying, and Sunday was taken up with Slutwalk, a thousand person protest march against victim shaming that Katie N. helped put together. Oddly, out of the two, even though Slutwalk was four hours of being on my feet, running around and taking pictures, surviving the little wedding took more out of me. Something to do with social shock, maybe, or walmart-culture inspired depression. Either way, it’s not something I would be willing to do again.

There was also a long, miserable walk home from Broadway on Sunday, broken and alone. It ended with John catching me in my room crying, so he went out and brought back two delicious cupcakes from the new place up the street, presenting them to me in a small paper box, “Here’s some men-are-scum cupcakes.” I sniffled and laughed, and said, “Men aren’t scum.” He replied, “Yes they are sweetie. Trust me, I am one. Eat your cupcake. It’ll help make everything better.” And he was right. It did.

(He also, tongue firmly planted in cheek, brought me a voodou doll when he arrived from New Orleans to “help” with my heartbreak. It’s a grassy thing dressed in pink, with a burned plastic doll face and a magic lima bean tied to its waist with some leather. Creepy looking, yes, but with the effect somewhat ruined by the mass produced tag around its neck: FOR ATTRACTION.)

Today I’m processing pictures, doing laundry, and last minute packing for my trip to NY, making certain I have cords for things, trying to remember if I packed any stockings, triple checking that I’ve put aside pants that fit me, shirts for every weather, vitamins, hairpins, toothpaste, moonlight, music, the moose hat, and things with feathers on them. Really I’ve been more or less ready for a couple of days, I could have left yesterday, the only thing left is to find a missing bird skull earring, but there’s something comforting about being extra sure.

I felt I needed a chatty, rather useless post


Quantum Computer may debut next week.

My room looks like it was hit by a bomb from the wrong side of the gypsy tracks. Dominique came over, brought me valentine chocolates1, and finished off the bottle of wine that Michael2 left while I was packing. Evil, it was all evil, and delightful, and delicious. We didn’t pillow-fight in our underwear, but she flashed her panties, which were so rock-star that she broke my webcam.

Things discovered whilst packing: I have significantly more knives than I remember, but considerably fewer movies.
Whosoever has my films, this is the time to return them.

I’m beginning to think I can pack my entire collection of belongings into less than eight boxes. I’m going to try and slim it down to six, so if there’s ever been a non-essential oddment in my room that’s caught your fancy, this might when you want to say so. Guests are having small gifts pressed upon them, random possessions coming to light that I no longer have a use for – music, books, movies, bins of sidewalk chalk, small ceramic squirrels3… The list continues. I’ve started a free-box that I’m going to put in my hallway for people to paw through. It may even eventually move to the lobby.

Merry Lupercalia!

1 my first in two years, but they’re lindt, so worth the wait
2 worst picture ever, he’s rather more attractive
3 my relatives back east were under the misapprehension that I was stuck at age 6 until I went back to live there in 2000. all gifts that arrived previous to that either had pink, kittens, or both in prodigious quantity. now I simply don’t get any.
4 here’s her x-mas video.

the scent of your pretty black hair

Jhayne, by Andrew Dimitt
Originally uploaded by Foxtongue.

haiku for ___:
he reminded me
of the twitchy tip of a
purring cat’s tail

Paula came over yesterday and helped me begin sorting my things. Now everything’s a precarious mess, there’s paper piled on every surface, slippery memories tangled underfoot, stacked CD’s of old music, and violently coloured stuffed cats curled up to calligraphy kits next to antique instruments and gold framed mirrors. To orate the list would make for a glorious message on an answering machine, much in the style of a baroque-gypsy version of the semi-infamous monologue from Trainspotting:

The truth is that I’m a bad person. But, that’s gonna change – I’m going to change. This is the last of that sort of thing. Now I’m cleaning up and I’m moving on, going straight and choosing life. I’m looking forward to it already. I’m gonna be just like you. The job, the family, the fucking big television. The washing machine, the car, the compact disc and electric tin opener, good health, low cholesterol, dental insurance, mortgage, starter home, leisure wear, luggage, three piece suite, DIY, game shows, junk food, children, walks in the park, nine to five, good at golf, washing the car, choice of sweaters, family Christmas, indexed pension, tax exemption clearing gutters, getting by, looking ahead, the day you die.

Now that Wayne and I have picked up boxes, things have been going quicker. It’s beginning to make sense outside of my head. Already the detritus of my life is beginning to classify. Speculations correspond with a basic duality: Things I Appreciate / Things I Will Never Miss.

books for sale

there is no higher ground

Does anyone knows where to find a copy of Useless by Kruder & Dorfmeister? I’d be happy for any of their music. What Do You Want Me To Say? by Dismemberment would be good too. I’m running out of downloaded music I like, and Pandora, though useful, runs itself into the ground when left alone too long. I set it to play Lamb and when I came back from a shower it had decided TATU would be a good idea. That I have no iTunes account merely adds to that particular annoyance. When I find enjoyable new music, I have no access to it.

  • Anti-teenager sound weapon.

    Day by day I have nothing planned. There’s a gentle tick tick tick in the back of my head. I’ll be gone in two days and I’m still uncertain what I’m doing. My house is cleaner, my room tidied, but my suitcase is sitting like a guilty house-pet on my bed, mouth open and half empty. I expected a call from Ray this morning, but the phone’s rung once and it wasn’t for me. Nicole tells me I have to face down a mall somewhere. Living in Vancouver doesn’t prepare a body for anything cold that doesn’t come out of a gelati parlour. I mostly have slim pieces of tie-on velvet and little black t-shirts with subtle line drawings of aliens on them. Nothing ready for snow, except for my scarf, and honestly, I’m not sure how many times I can pack that.

    Speaking of aliens, darling theramina posted this link to a video of a contortionist woman with especially extraordinary flexibility that is worth watching if only for the reminder that humans are capable of the weirdest things.

    Part of my shopping dread stems from the time of year I happen to be doing this in. There’s christmas lights in every display window and piped in “holiday favourites” in every store. Fake plastic trees that grab at nothing, offering hope only to little kids and people with real families. (And how many of those have secrets tucked away in sad apartments the other side of town?) I used to make stockings out of silk organza and taffeta edged with rhinestones as an attempt to fight against all the tacky red fake fur and gummy white fluff. This season though, like last year, I should be lucky to find a moment of respite in the places I plan on going to. I’ve no weapons against the overwhelming false cheer. All those beautifully wrapped boxes are empty.

  • A NOLA-area mall’s Katrina-themed holiday display has been gaining coverage.

    Nick, the regular godsend he is, has volunteered to take me down to Army & Navy today. He’s a heavy snow boarding enthusiast, so I’m going to let myself fall into his hands as if in a trust exercise. Is anyone else willing to dive into shopping hell with me? I don’t know where yet. The rare times I go shopping, I do it on The Drive. Someone suggested Metrotown, (Why don’t they ever name these places interestingly? I’d rather spend time somewhere called the virgin-whore complex.), which sounds pretty evil. Unless there’s a store marked WARM SOCKS & SWEATERS ETC, I suspect I’m going to be unsuccessful alone.