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.

like heroin amber dust

There are flower petals flying past much how I’ve always imagined lightning-bugs must be. Bright fluttering pieces of colour added into the air over the street like a surreal yet expected light pink snow.

I’ve never seen a lightning-bug, except on television. I’ve always wanted to see them. They sound magical. When I was a child, I carried a particular episode of the Twilight Zone with me, just because it had them in it. They were something a vampire showed a boy before he died. Black and white, a little bit grainy. Those were my lightning bugs, my tiny bits of flying fire, almost pure static showing through some sound-stage reality.

Originally uploaded by * jo_anna *.

The sparks from the first highway torch I ever lit reminded me of that show. They way the red flared and sputtered, all the sparks flying up harmlessly to bat my fingers. Moths, I thought, No. Lightning bugs. Bright chemicals with soft wings. Later, when I began being lucky enough to work in fireworks, it was like my peaon to all those lost moments of my childhood. How I never saw a lightning bug, how I never broke a window, how I still don’t know how to play marbles. Lighting the torch was my victory over all those things. My mirror movement to a hundred people before me, touching contact to contact, connecting the charge. All of my work going up in a blaze of glory. It’s a silly phrase, blaze of glory, but that was it exactly. The light shooting into the sky, the exultation I found in myself watching it, knowing that I had created this, that my hands were responsible.

The last show I worked was Illuminaires, Vancouver’s lantern Festival of Lights. Thousands of people slowly turning around a lake, carrying waxed dragons and paper nuns and all the towers of Moscow above their heads, the water reflecting all the fire and muted colours into a faint vision of another world. It was supposed to be my first success in the struggle against my difficulties. Life had been hard, a stress test that I was rapidly failing. Friends had been dying like teenage drunken drivers, family had been absent, lovers untouchable.

Instead I lit the match, took my place by the sand and explosions, and cried at the foot of my spectacular display. Exciting as it was, when I turned away to examine the thick sea of faces crushed together at the edge of our orange barriers, there was not one face that I knew, not one person to share my moment with. I had painted the sky with pyrotechnics, brought heaven like the seventeenth century. This was my passion play, this intense exhibition, and there was no one to give it to. I could only see the empty excitement of strangers glaring into the light. Eyes that never once dropped to meet mine, eyes that didn’t conceive how I had worked that day, blistered my fingers twisting wire, slivered my palms on the trestles, eyes that didn’t know my name.

That night was when I finally shivered apart. That was the last and final thing, being unable to reach out and touch another face, even in such an incredible place. I lost myself after that. I wasn’t anymore than the sum of my fragile parts, more a mirrored reflection of myself split into delicate pieces. I stopped sleeping, I forgot how to eat. Between my experiences and the inside of my head was such an incredible distance that it seemed ineradicable. My hands would never stop shaking and I would fall down in the street in fugues of missing time.

Now is recovery. Flower petals above the street.

To everyone present last night, thank you.