someone’s proud to say that they’re your son

“There are times, however, and this is one of them, when
even being right feels wrong. What do you say, for instance,
about a generation that has been taught that rain is
poison and sex is death? If making love might be fatal
and if a cool spring breeze on any summer afternoon can
turn a crystal blue lake into a puddle of black poison
right in front of your eyes, there is not much left
except TV and relentless masturbation. It's a strange world.
Some people get rich and others eat shit and die.”

– H. S. T., Gonzo Papers, Vol. 2: Generation of Swine

We drove west from Chinatown, towards the ocean, towards conversations we never had, along the road that curves around the edge of downtown and leads from the city into the thick wet woods of Stanley Park. Under eaves of trees older than any of the buildings we’ve stepped into since New York City, I kept the car slow, the road stretching like a way out to a better place, curling in arcs against the lip of the water, these hands on the wheel both gifted to me by my mother, this calm desire to keep driving from my mother across the hall. Spontaneously, we decided to twist off the road to the Lion’s Gate bridge, a green span across the river, marble white cats guarding the passage North. Once upon a time, I thought, people did this with broken wagons and small boats they had to build from the forest themselves.

Cruising through Deep Cove, more roads that didn’t seem to lead anywhere in particular, the blind gates and driveways of the unrestricted rich. Houses for sale like the neighborhood’s burning, flicking through photos of their interiors on a realty app, the cheapest starting at 1.4 million. We were a paragraph of a Douglas Coupland novel left behind on the cutting room floor, plagiarized and duplicated in flesh, inhabiting the same city he always seems to, gray skies, big houses, ranting about god while ankle deep in freezing streams, going door to door examining imaginary commodities, judging their terrible furniture, their boring kitchens, the diffusion of their reality too thin to feel, surely people don’t actually inhabit these places? That fireplace is a travesty, at least there’s plenty of windows, shame about the rusty tanker drifting by outside. Cryptic throwaways, the coastal combination of struggle, money, and our sharp talons.

We walk his dog through the park, idly debating the merits of these places with basketball courts and built in boathouses. How much is it worth to put down roots so deep? We would rather travel, take that investment and run, live in a thousand places. The doughnut shop sells deep fried muffins, the fountain looks like a gate to some underworld of a story that everyone’s forgotten.

I will find something good

Sergey Semonov, a Russian photographer, submitted the image to the Epson International Photographic Pano Awards,
and took first prize in the amateur category. Click through for more information and to see it full size.

Music: I ate too much.
Music: Typhoon – Summer Home.

Back in the land of suicide skies and itchy wet socks and art blind glass condominiums and witty t-shirt fashion and life locked down to a room, a computer, and an eternal quest for more work. New York I miss you already, your ornate, cake icing architecture, your brave pedestrians and perpetual strangers, even your extreme lack of green. Solid, implacable, a foundation of streets. Lay me down against your bitter cold winter, press me against your well tailored desperation, let me rest in the hollow of your inspiring anonymity. Stone to the horizon in every direction.

the child of some ghosts

“I Made a House of Houselessness”,
by Rose O’Neill

I made a house of houselessness,
A garden of your going:
And seven trees of seven wounds
You gave me, all unknowing:
I made a feast of golden grief
That you so lordly left me,
I made a bed of all the smiles
Whereof your lip bereft me:
I made a sun of your delay,
Your daily loss, his setting:
I made a wall of all your words
And a lock of your forgetting.


We lay on the warm, damp sand of Jericho beach last night as the heavens broke over our heads, lightning splitting the sky open with mad electricity, the afterimage daylight of it shattering the night with a stunning simplicity, wrapped in a synthetic purple blanket on loan from my mother’s ex-boyfriend who let me cry on his shoulder in New York, holding each others hands against the rain. Once I could have dreamed of such a thing, even down to the loud wedding at Brock House that supplied a bizarre soundtrack of bland rock music played by an uninteresting band, but it’s been so long that I’ve been knocked down, that I can’t tell if this is what it feels like to get back up. The rain was almost welcome, a distraction from my abstraction, from wishing I didn’t remember what it’s like to be in love.

The storm had begun hours before, aristocratically sweeping in from the ocean on a glowing push of wind, crackling with lunatic energy, ardent and vehement in its regard. I was upstairs painting in Kitsilano, blind to the flickering flashes of camera shot lightning, radio turned up, on the phone with Brooklyn. I was trapped working, elegantly turning the brush against the edges of light-switches and outlets, stripped down against the balmy temperatures, dressed only in paint, spackle, and my underwear, waiting for my flirtationship to arrive, to pool our time together in front of a movie in the park. I only discovered it when the thunder kicked in, a sound so thick and heavy that when it broke over the house like blood, it set off every car alarm available within three blocks. The sky on fire, the world burning with a classical white light. Sheet lightning, forked lightning, bright, scintillant strike lightning, all crawling across the clouds in high speed, literal, incredible maps of electron flow.

Just the day before I had expressed how much I missed proper storms, those Toronto explosions, wet and furious and perfect as sex, unbelievably satisfying, morphine for my spirit. (We had been sitting on my porch, the same place I had held someone else’s hand and asked if they’d like to go on a date, the air tasting of salt and sweat and the white of his clothes, beautiful, summer incarnate, and been turned down.) The sky had been as clear as ice, only vaguely speckled with altocumulous, more pretty than promising. Yet there we were, wrapped in the weather I had wished for, as if I were a witch that had called it into being, and he turned to me like a good back beat, gesturing at the treasure of the tempest, and said, “The storm followed me all the way from White Rock. I brought it with me, just for you.”

I pictured him driving in, battling the wet road with his low slung sports car, dedicated enough to travel an hour to meet me for a movie he knew we wouldn’t get to, the scope of what the weather must have looked like from there, the scope of his commitment, and thought, “Alright. I can work with this. It is not what I wanted, not what I was waiting for, but this will be enough. With this, I can try again to live.”

oh fortuna

  • Today is Global Reddit Meet-up Day. The Vancouver event is happening at Spanish Banks, (4801 NW Marine Drive), at 6:30.

    Came back to the apartment from a house-warming so late that last night was this morning, that the sky was luminous with promise. I woke up twice today, the first time only long enough to blink at the blue showing in the sky and think through the process of rain, how yesterday’s sheets of water came from the ever present clouds smashing into the mountains, every inch on the ground thinning them, lightening them, how good of the rain to happen, to allow the clouds to rise and float away over the peaks. How kind to give us respite from gray. Then I slept again, and woke to a loud, grating voice outside my window, lecturing two quieter, polite, potentially trapped-be-a-stranger voices on sports, “Look at Yankee fans! Why would anyone wear a hat that says I’m an idiot on it?” and nationalism, “I can’t stand those douchey middle-aged white guys that show up with flags during soccer season as if they were real Italians” and the clouds had returned, as if to protectively swaddle the sky, muffle the derision contained in his opinions.

  • “Can you jam with the console cowboys in cyberspace?”

    I’ve signed up to try an experimental VR rig at the SFU Surrey iSpace Lab as part of a study investigating spatial perception in virtual environments. How cool is that? It comes with a motion sickness warning, so I’m pretty stoked, even though the machine they strap you into looks clunky as only old/new technology can. My appointment is today at 4 pm.

    Locals can sign up to be a participant at this Reddit thread, though this week is booking fast. The entire study apparently takes just under 90 minutes. Compensation is $15. The only caveats are you that have to be 19 or older and that the head-mounted display doesn’t work well with glasses, so you either need normal vision or contact lenses.

    adventures in science parties

    Friday morning was also a trial, though I crept out of it like a cat. I still had work, so I had to skip the symposiums, which hurt, but I made on-line plans from there with Alan to meet at the Science World party that night. So after, once I’d gone home and showered and changed into new clothes and did all the things regular people do when they’re about to go seriously crash the largest science conference in the western hemisphere, I packed a duffel to bring to the hotel after the party, so I wouldn’t have to return to the apartment again until the conference was over. (Could have done it the day before, but whatever. Dinner! Whales! Plus Science World has a significantly better coat check that the Aquarium.)

    Once there, the only question was finding my people in the crush of people pointedly lingering next to the open bars and clumping in the areas where the waiters would cruise by with tasty nibbles. It all came together eventually, but I spent the first twenty minutes completely on my own, wandering through the exhibits, going from table to table, attempting to find the promised non-fish based food, as well as scouting for my clever partner in crime. The trick, apparently, was to stop looking for the shortest gregarious person and instead make for the tallest, Erik, as naturally they would be speaking together.

    I didn’t know Erik, but it was instantly clear that I should. He was funny, eloquent, and involved in his topics in a way I utterly envy. Truly, there may never be a group of people I immediately get on with more than journalists. There’s just something about a profession that attracts the intelligent, literate, and perpetually curious that gets under my skin in the best kind of way. He wasn’t selling his story to Cosmos that night, though. It wasn’t quite the right fit, even though I found it personally fascinating. Even so, we all walked up the ramp together to the massive dome of the IMAX Theater, for the Kavli Foundation Awards, just in time for me to somehow lose everyone all over again at the door.

    Just my luck, I almost sat alone for the show, stranded in the empty seats I tried to save. Thankfully a very nice woman from Berlin came and sat with me, social orphans together. I have regretfully misplaced her name, but she was wonderful company, telling me about her goth days back in Germany, about her lab, about her adorable daughter. She saved me as easily as grabbing the keys to the car on the way out the door. We stayed together downstairs for nearly the rest of the night, playing on the exhibits, sitting on spinny things and climbing the hollowed tree in the nature room. If we’d been children we would have been running through the yard, thrown together by chance but making the best of it, playing tag by the overpass.

    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.

    come find us, picnic


    A promotional headshot for my mother, Vicki.

    We’re going to Stanley Park today for Vancouver’s 125th birthday celebrations.
    There’s free concerts all weekend, (featuring Neko Case, The New Pornographers, Fond of Tigers, Veda Hille, Said the Whale, and Dan Mangan), and some splendid sounding art installations, (rumour says someone will be folding ten foot paper cranes), as well as performances by groups like Kokoro Dance, Gamelan Gita Asmara, and The Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret. Schedules at the link.