26th birthday


n: vb: the spice of imagination

Landing in London
26th birthday

Zombie Flowers from ANTSANROM, as inspired by Charles Darwin´s first impressions when he first saw a carnivorous plant in 1875.

I had zero leg room on the flight from Seattle to Reykjavik, my bag of camera lenses and hard-drives took up all the space instead, so I spent the whole time curled up in the chair, feet up, reading book after book until we landed in the cold. (Mr. Penumbra's Bookstore made a special impression, as it had been a gift from Alexandre that we picked up at the Amazon brick & mortar in Seattle the week we took together there before I left. There's a girl in it I somewhat identified with, though we're not of a type.)

From the outside, landing in Iceland at night is like landing on the Canadian prairies. It is dark, flat, empty, and cold. Walking across the field into the building, I felt the bite of Edmonton's winter. The inside, however, looks precisely what I might imagine a minimalist airport manufactured by IKEA might be like, all pale wood floors and sketches of metal furniture. The gift shop sold furs, the cafeteria had an entire refrigerator shelf for greasy fish products, but otherwise what I managed to explore (with my dreadfully heavy bags) struck me as being similar to any other small airport. Mostly I simply sat, curled up with my phone, surfing the wifi, chatting with Alexandre.

The hours were wrong for the Northern Lights, unfortunately, and the airport, also unfortunately, is an hour out of town, so I did not get a chance to see the aurora borealis or visit Reykjavik or stelpa, who lives there. No regrets, though, as I have been assured there will be other chances.

Heathrow, however, was a sprawling place. It reminded me of nothing more than a level of an old James Bond video game that I remember playing a handful of times as a teenager. Low-rez, blocky, big open spaces, lots of windows without any view, and the illusion of multiple paths that resolve only into one when you try to move forward. I would love a map of the place, a 3D rendered duplicate that I could wander at will in virtual reality. The illusion of choice was especially interesting, as if the corridors could be reformed like a labyrinth and somewhere there might be a beast, perhaps some metaphor for finance, with gold dipped bull's horns and diamond tipped claws.

The border questions were nothing after having to handle the US/Canadian border so many times over the years. The guard dismissed me as soon as they gleaned that I own a credit card, all flags dropped and I was through. Waiting for me were Arnand and Dee, my suitcases, a little red car, and a whole new life. "Hello."

"Baby I got your number, oh, and I know that you got mine."
26th birthday
"From a very early time, I understood that I only learn from things I don't like. If you do things you like, you just do the same shit. You always fall in love with the wrong guy. Because there's no change. It's so easy to do things you like. But then, the thing is, when you're afraid of something, face it, go for it. You become a better human being."

What's the cost?

"Ah, a big one. Lots of loneliness, my dear. If you're a woman, it's almost impossible to establish a relationship. You're too much for everybody. It's too much. The woman always has to play this role of being fragile and dependent. And if you're not, they're fascinated by you, but only for a little while. And then they want to change you and crush you. And then they leave. So, lots of lonely hotel rooms, my dear."
- Performance artist Marina Abramović: 'I was ready to die'


Last Sunday was flawless. I attended Pauline's birthday, went to Pancakes & Jam with Alex, made new friends, saw old friends, explored a new place, danced for over ten hours, finally visited the new Duello, and found resolution with a particularly pernicious ex from several lifetimes ago. (‪#‎healing‬ ‪#‎grateful‬ ‪#‎morelikethatplease‬ ‪#‎feetlikeblisters‬).

Several lifetimes ago we used to be A Thing. Not so long ago that he wouldn't be in here somewhere if I went looking, but long enough ago that I do not want to try. If I am going to cut this long story short, I shall only say that he placed the stars in the sky, then killed every one. To say it didn't end well would be an understatement.

But, before that, oh! Before that, when things were good, we used to dance together.

We had a sword fighting school at our disposal, the second floor of an old brick building without any late night neighbors, all gleaming weapons and massive mirrors and beautiful wooden floors. So, of course, we used it as our living room. And when we danced, it was absolutely beautiful. We moved without parallel. We moved and it would take your breath away.

When we danced, we did it with naked blades.

The game was one of trust, the dance was one of acceptance and risk. We would light a thousand candles, until the salle was filled with glittering constellations of fire, lift our swords, and throw ourselves at each other's weapons to the loud and salacious beat of whatever seemed sexiest. (He was very good at sexy).

The game was dangerous, but we never erred. The dance was trust incarnate. And we would always manage not to cut each other, though the blades were naked and sharp and the tips were bare. I started it one night when we had some people over, tossing him a sword as we danced, a dare, then a second one, but no matter how much I tried to impale myself, he would move it out of the way of my body every single time, often at the last second, as I would in turn. And we loved it. It became something we would do regularly, romance, a way to make-out in company, a way to break ourselves open, a way to dance ourselves clean.

It could have gone all sorts of wrong, but we never once had a mistake. It wasn't a fight, understand, but a hard line practice of grace. The point was to throw ourselves at risk and let the other keep us safe. And we did. It worked. We never argued. We danced and we loved each other and we kept each other unmarked by our knives.

It was the sort of thing you might see in a film, but it was real. It was our life. If there is a narrative equivalent for being photogenic, we were that. We were ridiculously that. Swords, knives, the school. We lived part-time on a reproduction Chinese junk in False Creek. There were always flowers and books, back and forth. We were so lucky! He was tall and handsome and graceful, lissome and delicious with long blond hair to his shoulders, a clever mind, and two shining lengths of steel, we loved each other, we were brave, and I was utterly confident that he would not hurt me.


Idiot self, I think now, given what happened after, which I will say only was devastating and involved a stay in a hospital, some long distance phone calls, another woman, and eventually their child. (Though these days I hear he has two.) Let's just say that, unlike his swords, his extrication was something he did not handle with grace. Did I say it was devastating? Perhaps I should say it again. Devastating. It was an absolute fumble.

This, however, nine years later, is the story of how we finally recovered.


The new salle is on the same city block, but better located. He's done well. Ground floor, now, and much bigger, two shops smushed together with the walls torn down, with a large rotating sign stuck to the front of the building. ACADEMIE, it says as it spins, on a picture of a sword. There is a gift shop these days, ten foot by ten near the door.

The mirrors inside are similar, the floor the same, the walls are still brick, but the scale is impressive. The business moved several years ago, but this is the first time I have stepped inside. I have arrived because it is a partner dance night, something some friends of mine started years ago that I have neglected to attend, in part because of the location. My ex and I did not part well and this is his domain. I even gave up sword fighting when we split, the better to not cross paths.

But here I am and it is beautiful, the lights are dim and the space is filled with whirling bodies, dancing instead of fighting. Couples spinning to compelling music, electronica and remixes of old standards, the sort you might know all the words to while still enjoying something new.

I take off my bag, my hat, and my long coat and fold them together, leaving them with my shoes as a bundle on top of a hobby horse next to a small model of a medieval battle. I step past a pile of large pillows and scan the floor. And there he is. Hand extended, living proof of another life. The romance book cover hair is gone, but he is otherwise the same, cat-like and beautiful. "May I have the first dance?"

Something hangs in the balance until I say yes, but then it is as if a pane of glass has shattered. The moment breaks. I know what is about to happen. I take his hand, we step into the crowd, and time falls away. His body is both infinitely familiar and that of a stranger, but we can still dance.

He is still very good at being sexy. He talks about how beautiful it was when we used to dance, how he loved when we used to sit in the windows of the old salle, feet hanging out over the street. He's missed me, he says. I've missed him, too. He is so, so sorry for the hurt he caused. I couldn't be more relieved. The years drop away. The thorn is removed, the wound repaired. I am made better. We sing along to the music, eyes blurry from emotion, but never lose the step. He apologizes, we spin, and I am finally free. His hands on mine, our feet matching the beat, his words kiss my heart, and I am finally free.

I can't help but laugh. This is absolute absurdity, but so perfect it might as well have been scripted. How else would we ever do this, unless we used literal knives? We move through the song and start into another. He lifts me in the air, my feet up, it's not unlike flying. We talk, we sing. Our bodies glued to each other and the music. We dance ourselves clean.

a year and a day
26th birthday
Sometimes it is barely possible to believe how hurtful other people can be.

I did a terrifying thing. It was scary and hard, but I thought, well, perhaps this time will be different. Perhaps this time I will find kindness. I doubted, but I put aside my doubt. I thought myself broken for doubting. To stop trusting is to let them win, the people who hurt, the people who value selfishness over compassion, the cowards and killers of small mercies. So I put aside my doubt, I did the hardest thing I know to do, and I reached out to a friend and stepped forward into the darkness. And, for a moment, the world was gentle; they took my outstretched hand. It was going to be okay. This, the worst, the scariest, was going to be okay. It was both wonderful and astonishing. Where one fails, two can create light.

Then, as if it the most casual thing, they recanted. So now I'm not even back to how badly I was before, but worse, because I dared to step forward, I dared trust, and there is no redemption in this solitary darkness. And there are no bread crumbs, no small pebbles left for me to follow back out, no kindness in it. Betrayal contains no sympathy or compassion. They left me with the most cruel of possible stories. Worse, they knew, going in, that they would abandon me, but they walked me there anyway, stringing me along as far in as they could manage before having to tell me they were already gone.

The honey in the lion is a lie.

EDIT: And then, plot twist! It worked out, actually. They stepped up. Just last night. Three in the morning, they showed up at my door. My writing made something better. They came back for me. Their care for my well-being finally trumped their fear. I am.. absolutely floored. I can't remember the last time I felt so much relief. I feel better today than I have in a very, very long time. And because it was such a success, today I ended up sending one of the scariest letters I've ever sent, asking for similar redemption for the worst of my hurt, from the only person who could make it better, belly bared to his teeth. Fingers crossed, dear ones. Fingers and toes.

never make someone a priority who treats you like an option
26th birthday

Set-brooches: “MEMORY” 2006 by Mila Kalnitskaya & Micha Maslennikov.

We walk together, arms linked against the night and rain. My scarlet headscarf complements his gray woolen army coat and transforms us into a cliché of immigrants from a different era. We look to the world like married refugees, all Eastern Europe and the memory of cinema, an accident of scathing metaphor made manifest. We both notice and remark upon it, though we name-check different countries.

He plucks memories from the air like ripe fruit, free hand in the air sketching shapes from his childhood, handing each one to me as a gift to eat, placing his history into mine, his time-distant innocence shaped into a protective amulet against the world we are taking part of this evening to hide from. "And that hill there," he says - up, a sweep down - gesturing like a conductor counting, "there used to be more bushes there. It was great, foliage full of tunnels the adults knew nothing about. I had my first rumble on that hill."

We are traversing the grounds of his elementary school, thirty years distant, though the architecture remains unchanged. Low buildings. Brown walls. He tells me stories. Story after story. This is where the bus used to drop him off. This is where it used to pick him up. The porch of this portable is where he broke another boy's nose.

"I used to have a temper. I was a small kid and it made me fight harder."

"I could tell, " I say, tying the broken nose and scrapping to my knowledge of his punk days. Dayton boots and liberty spikes, so young that he would have to drive to Canada to drink. Vancouver of the nineties, when the Lamplighter was a grungy punk bar, back when I was little. A city as dead as my care for it.

He seems perturbed, regretful. "Really? I got over it, though. I've recovered."

I wonder if we ever passed in the street. I would have been just as young as he was in the memories he is describing. Absolutely invisible. Under four feet and also the smallest kid in class. Scrappy, too, though for different reasons.

I want to kiss him for this. Wrap his heart in warmth in thanks. It hurts that I can't. I am going away, perhaps forever, and this is our swan song. He is an odd man for choosing this farewell, as it is an odd gift, though it would be a very good one if our relationship were different. I try to explain this, but fail. He begins to doubt he's doing the right thing. In some ways, perhaps he isn't, (we are self made exiles this hour, trespassing in the chilly rain), but I press on and ask for more. He doesn't know the gravity he possesses. He feeds me, but doesn't quite understand how hungry I am or how to make me hale.

"And this is where we caught bees. They would sit on flowers and you could sneak up on them," he gestures again, displaying methods of boyhood bee capture, both hands making a curious shape then coming suddenly together like the materials inside a fission bomb. "We trapped them in our hands with a clap that stunned them. They wouldn't sting us, that way. They would just sit."

He opens his hands again, showing me the treasure of his imaginary insect prize. He doesn't only talk with his hands, he communicates with his entire body, curling around his stories like a cat around a leg, a modern pantomime.

I shiver from the cold, bite my jaw closed against my betrayal-chattering teeth. One chance to memorize this. One. It could be that this might be the very last time these memories will come to light. Every memory in the world, no matter how poignant, always has a final time, and this gift is too full of grace to let any slip through my clumsy fingers.

He gives me the name of the boy he would catch bees with and descriptions of the open layout inside the buildings and which windows he looked out of during kindergarten. He gives me his enthusiasm, wrapped up in string. He gives me his life, parceled into small, lovely, and bite-sized pieces, the better to slip down my throat and into the furnace that heats my soul. Pound for pound, he shines brighter than our sun.

This is where he used to get on the roof by scaling the brick wall with his fingers and toes, like I used to do until my accident. He demonstrates the action, back to me, and I am startled by a memory from when we first met, when we walked downtown and he dropped behind me to hook my ankle with his hand, explaining how he caught calves as a boy on a summer ranch, a pun I appreciated on the spot. We began our history then, and here, much later, in this dark and damp playground goodbye, the two moments, alpha and omega, come together and merge forever.

"I spent six years here. Every single day. So strange to think about, now."

"Because it's the longest you've ever been anywhere?"

He blinks, gazes into the distance. "I guess so. I didn't even spend that much time in college."

I am cracking. This is marvelous, but also impossibly difficult. I do not want to be a refugee. But this is what I am given, so it is what I have, and I'll take what I can get.. I can't help but think about his choices, about where his life led after, how it doesn't contain space for me. My life will be less without him, but it could be argued that his will be better.

I speculate about what he might have looked like a a child, even as I know I will get it wrong. I wish for a picture. Something else promised then rescinded.

He frowns, remembering, considering mortality and fate.

I wish he would turn to me. I wish this wasn't our goodbye. I wish he would turn and smile, give me that instead. Smile with what brought us together, smile with what pulled us apart, smile with the warmth that opens a lily to the heat.

goodbye pacific north left
26th birthday
I've been offered a ticket to London.

It leaves halfway through November. The last pieces required for my Irish passport are coming together. The utilities are now in David's name. An ad for my room is going up on Craigslist this week. I don't know where I'm going to live. I don't have reliable work. There is no safety net. And, if I get this right, I'll never be back again.

Goodbye Stephen Elliott: best cook, best smile, best father.
26th birthday

Stephen Elliott, the closest thing I ever had to an adopted father, passed away on the morning of September 1st.

Stephen, Tim

I was at Burning Man, so could not be bedside. I also missed his memorial. Yesterday would have been his 67th birthday. I do not feel guilt or regret, only grief.

Untitled Untitled

It was a privilege to know him and to receive a small part of his generosity, cleverness, and joy. Somewhere there is a video of him playing Spanish guitar at one of my birthday parties, as pictured above, but that doesn't capture his vivaciousness or his overwhelming wonderful everything. They don't make them like they used to. He was quality and charm and grace personified, as well as the best sort of sly English wit. I don't know what else to say, except that he was loved, and is loved, and will always be so in my heart. My sympathies and condolences to everyone else currently grieving. He was prolific with his care, there are so many of us who will forever miss him, and we are all worse off for the loss.


foreboding with a dash of "I can't wait to see everyone!"
26th birthday

the Wikisinger from Touché Videoproduktion.

This song is beautiful, but it makes me think of your choir music and that stings my heart.
I love you, but I don't know how to you sleep at night.

I'm going back to Vegas for That Hacker Thing In The Desert. My flight leaves Seattle on Saturday and comes back a week later. I've signed up for staff shifts at bSides and DefCon. Based on my previous experiences there, this is, by all accounts, probably a very stupid move. Last summer, before heading down this time of year for the same stretch of conferences, I wrote:

It is an awful place, but I am beginning to look forward to Vegas. The teal sky stretched like silk over the blind roads and senseless cacophony, the inevitable black t-shirts with witty taglines and open bars buzzing with abuse. It is not going to be at all like my last time there or the time before that or the time before that. Each visit before has been fraught with conflict, stress a thin note running through every decision. This time I will not be alone, isolated or rejected. I will not have been sent for to stand as a peace-maker to sordid drama, I will not have been brought along as a sop, I will not be going as a dismantled half. No matter how this week unfurls, (and it does have some very interesting possibilities), none of the previous scenarios will have a chance to duplicate. There will be a tribe this time, there will be people I care for who care for me. (My best medicine). New people, new skills. This trip will be unique and for that I am grateful. The city will not poison me. Though the Vegas strip is a manipulative construct, a gigantic shrine dedicated to the worst of the states, the people I will be walking with share my inherent refusal to genuflect.

In part, it was meant as an incantation. An unfurling of the best truth that might ripple outward and ahead of me, giving me solid ground.

Alas, in spite of persistent rumour, I am not a witch.

Instead, the drama came from a surprise direction. Not from my life, but that of a close friend. He had been having problems, at work, in his marriage, and was uncertain, suddenly, about his future. Finally, while in the least authentic city, his crisis reached critical mass. He couldn't deal anymore. And though some parts of the trip were good and solid and sound, he leaned on me and leaned on me hard. The stress of it nearly overshadowed every other crappy Vegas experience I've had. (Which is saying something, that city is awful). He cried. He shouted. I gave out a lot of head-scratches. The peace-maker thing went into overdrive. It went up and up and up and eventually, if you will forgive the Spaceballs reference, went into plaid. Hackers are a fascinating breed, I love them, but when they crack, it can be extreme. When someone's profession is built on being suspicious of everything-all-the-time and they get personal? I recommend you flee. Run, don't walk, away.

In my case, it is absolute fact that my devices are no longer to be trusted. My trust been violated, my data and that of those closest to me has been stolen. All of my electronic communications with others has been intercepted and pored over with the same malicious and bitter eye that accused me, when I approached them as part of a whip-around air-miles fundraiser for a best friend's family funeral, of treating them as a cash machine. And if this sounds paranoid, please note that not only did the perpetrator tell me to my face, they also produced evidence and later argued with me about it over google chat, (screenshots of which are saved on a drive that doesn't touch the internet).

If you had asked me last year who they were, I would have proudly replied, "one of my best friends." Now? I would be absolu-bloody-lutely be looking forward to Vegas, except that I know for a fact that they're going to be there. They're probably there already.

I'm not scared, precisely, but no, it's not okay. I'm not okay. And that's just how it is.

And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet.
26th birthday

SLIP | Dance by @PhillipChbeeb & @ReneeKester | Music by @ElliotMossMusic | Shot by Jerel Mascarinas

I left my name behind during my last trip and found new homes for more of my belongings since I have returned. My life grows smaller and smaller still. Fewer things, fewer people, less and less and less. It is exhausting to be alive and so isolated, to survive this hollow crush of vacuum inside my heart and skin. I do not want any of it. I no longer even have the energy to wish it were different. It just is.


There was a political argument last summer between me and an American that lasted for months. "Healthcare is not a human right," he said, those literal words dropped from his mouth, and I would not stand for it. (Bad enough he has a thing for guns.) Bitter fire licked the inside of my damaged frame. "And what am I, then? What do I mean to you? What rights do I have, with this crippled body I cannot afford to fix?"

He thought the Canadian system was better than it is, that my injuries must have been mended to the limit of possibility before they were abandoned, but that's never been the case. I have been broken since I was a teenager, struck by a drunk driver in a truck while crossing a street, and because I have always been poor, I have never been able to afford to see the specialists who could diagnose what ails, let alone heal me. (I have had partners who could have helped me financially, but they did not offer and I did not ask, even when I hurt so much I could not walk.) Because of this, my adult life has never had a day without pain.

The problem, according to my semi-socialist government, (the worst of both systems), is that even though I was on a cane for years and could barely lift my right arm for nearly a decade, my damage does not immediately threaten my life nor, conversely, is it so mild that a GP could stick a pharmaceutical band-aid on it and call it done. Instead I live in the hollow of the system, the trough of suffering in between the two extremes; constant chronic pain destroys my quality of life, but not "enough" to be treated for free.

After his surprise came horror and eventually the offer of a peculiar deal; to stop arguing these politics with me if I agree to let him cover my medical bills. This particular treaty, though gracious, struck me as untenable for a long while. It is not that he cannot afford it, I know he can, but I was steadfast for months. At the heart of it, the unfairness that still remains unaddressed, the countless others who are stuck in my position who are not so lucky to have any patron. Be the change, do not falter.

Yet now, almost a year later, the appointments have begun. Not because of what he offered, but to remove the look that crawls across his face when he sees me wince. It irks me to the marrow to be a burden, I rage against it, but there is one thing that trumps it - I cannot stand to cause pain. I have been well trained by my awful history to pay my own distress little mind in comparison to that of others. (Did you know that the root of "martyr" is "witness"?) My resistance activated both until, unknowingly, he tripped that wire.

So I booked some appointments and started seeing specialists. (Without telling him what it's cost me, aside from sharing how hard it is to do these things alone. Perhaps he'll read this confession and ask to address the credit card bills that have been too large for me to pay. Won't that be another fascinating conversation?) Some of them started talking about having to cut me open. Some of them sent me for tests. But all of them passed me to other specialists, until earlier this week I was examined by an an osteopathic at an expensive sports medicine clinic so foreign to my experience that it looked to me like the set of a dystopian sci-fi film, the background of some medical breakthrough the plebeians aren't allowed to have. The doctor's specialties are musculoskeletal problems and athletical medical injuries. He was quick with his diagnosis, but seemed very sure and all the symptoms seem to line up.

The doctor believes I have a severe case of sacroiliitis caused by previous injuries. (The sacroiliac joints are inside the hips and connect the leg to the spine.) He told me my original injury must have been truly serious, it's "flat-out amazing" that I get around as well as I do, and that the remaining pain is most likely an inflamed sacroiliac joint that originally puffed up when I was walking on even more "impossible pain". (He guessed that, but correctly. I did so for years.) Also, sacroiliitis will never heal without medical intervention.

To treat it, I'm to go to a chiropractor, be studded with needles run through with electric current to relax the area, and then the doctor will give me an ultrasound guided Sacroiliac Joint Steroid Injection of corticosteroids directly into the space between my bones right after. If his diagnosis is correct, that I've mostly healed from the original injury and all that's left is reactionary protectionist instinct, the pain should evaporate after only one shot. My appointment is at the end of July. I am dreading every part of it.

Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, corticosteroids were voted Allergen of the Year in 2005 by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

He had no comment on my other sources of chronic pain, (ankle, shoulder, the mysterious misplaced lump of hot and suffering tissue that lives in my lumbar), or the the blood-where-it-shouldn't-be and the follow-up ultrasound appointments, but if he is correct about the sacroiliitis, then he will be able to remove the debilitating screwdriver-in-the-flesh source of what cripples me most. I'll be able to move again. I'll be able to walk and to run.

I might even be able to dance.

two lost souls in a fish bowl
26th birthday
I just spent the weekend working from one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. It's an olive grove in Southern California, lit at night only by candles, fire, and fairy lights, with music playing and clever people around white tables. Thirty-five hackers, their partners, their children, and me. Total number: just under sixty. Almost everyone wears black. Almost everyone has a custom flask. I'm probably the only person present who doesn't own a t-shirt.

William Blake said that there is the land of the living and the land of the dead and the only bridge between them is love. The only survival. The only meaning.

I am relatively new to this particular tribe, but I am loved enough to pass. They drink and they swear and make fun of me for having to work while on vacation. I reply that my office is too pretty to possibly complain about and that seems to settle the topic.

The sounds here are different than I'm accustomed to, but I like it. I love how twisted the trees are, the delicate sounds of their leaves in the breeze. There are horses at the ranch next store and someone, somewhere, unmistakably has peacocks.

The olive grove is in the middle of the drought blighted lands, but where we are is green and luscious. There's natural ground water here that makes for two little ponds, a small lake, and easy irrigation. Plus, however unlikely, it has rained every afternoon with a small roll of thunder and casual damp that crawls slowly over us during what otherwise would be the hottest part of the day. The light when that happens is unspeakably beautiful. I miss storms with passion like I miss my heart. Both losses ache inside of me.

We sit in camp chairs, circles of humming conversation chasing the shade during the day or around bonfires at night. We've been smoking an entire pig every night in a cement brick oven made for the purpose and making bonfires too big to jump over with the left over wood. (The pigs were progressively more delicious. We cut them open at midnight and sliced cubes of pork sushi out with combat knives and ate them with our fingers.)

Today some of us pulled a kitten from the wild litter of seven that's underneath the robin's egg blue vintage car that's slowly rusting out next to the outdoor bar. It's orange and soft and impossibly fluffy and I'm looking forward to visiting it later in Seattle. If I could have found other people to adopt the rest, I would have taken jacks from people's trunks to lift up the car and pull out the entire litter. A silver lining looking for a cloud. Solving for fuffle.

happy birthday take two
26th birthday

Yesterday sucked, so today I'm having a do-over of my birthday.

So far it's going much better; there's a dark chocolate and passion fruit cake in the oven and I got to lick all the spoons.


I can feel the devil walking next to me

I think about the mornings it saved me
to look at the hearts penknifed on the windows
of the bus, or at the initials scratched

into the plastic partition, in front of which
a cabbie went on about bread his father
would make, so hard you broke teeth on it,

or told one more story about the plumbing
in New Delhi buildings, villages to each floor,
his whole childhood in a building, nothing to

love but how much now he missed it, even
the noises and stinks he missed, the avenue
suddenly clear in front of us, the sky ahead

opaquely clean as a bottle’s bottom, each heart
and name a kind of ditty of hopefulness
because there was one you or another I was

leaving or going to, so many stalls of flowers
and fruit going past, figures earnest with
destination, even the city itself a heart,

so that when sidewalks quaked from trains
underneath, it seemed something to love,
like a harbor boat’s call at dawn or the face

reflected on a coffee machine’s chrome side,
the pencil’s curled shavings a litter
of questions on the floor, the floor’s square

of afternoon light another page I couldn’t know
myself by, as now, when Socrates describes
the lover’s wings spreading through the soul

like flames on a horizon, it isn’t so much light
I think about, but the back’s skin cracking
to let each wing’s nub break through,

the surprise of the first pain and the eventual
lightening, the blood on the feathers drying
as you begin to sense the use for them.
Today's Writing Music: San Solomon, by Balmorhea.

He asked the cab driver where he was from. Nigeria. He then guessed a word, a region? A city? The driver grinned, startled and surprised. How did you know? Most of the cabbies with your company are from there, he said, and he pulled a book from his bag, flipped through it, pages scrawled with notes from different pens, and found something blue. Words flowed from him, practiced, but perhaps written phonetically. Hello, I guessed, or good day. A warm gesture rich in welcome, the driver's foreign language repeated in the darkness of a Seattle night.

There are make-shift weapons within reach of every place to sit and a well-loved typewriter, dusty and delicately studded with toy jewels, in need of a new ribbon. On the work table under the white board sits a small plastic tub, worn and unremarkable except for the motorcycle carburetor sitting inside of it, a row of ceramic pots holding various tools, and a beer bottle cap filled with cigarette ashes. (One pot is nearly filled with the same small, glow-in-the-dark stars that I stick to hotel ceilings, my international constellation trail of places I've dreamed.) One wall is lined with clippings about Spanish bullfights that have been carefully sliced from newspapers. My favourite shows a torero in full costume, leaning in a tight arc as a bull charges his vivid yellow cape, with the pull-quote 'Only in Spain is the phrase "You are a good killer" — Eres un buen matador — a compliment.' The room is immediately masculine, but I feel welcome and safe. This is a place I am willing to stay.


I am dropped off along a strange road, almost like a driveway, to a marina where Google maps lied and claimed there was a park. I sit in an alcove of rose bushes, feet up on my luggage, reading a book that is good only because it was free. The black convertible I'm waiting for sweeps past me, the driver uncertain of the directions. I smile and text him as I gather my things - behind you.

We find coffee, sit outside of a Starbucks tucked into a strip-mall, conveniently within sight of another Starbucks. We talk about work and exhaustion and corporate restructuring. He's looking for a new place to live, somewhere with less of a grinding commute, and I think of David Byrne, lyrics from my favourite Talking Heads song, through I keep them to myself. "And as we watch him digging his own grave. It is important to know that was where he's at. He can't afford to stop, that is what he believe. He'll keep on digging for a thousand years." It gets stuck in my head for an hour.

He swears at traffic, a deluge of words I've never heard him say, "Judas.. Fuckin'.. Priest." "Judas, really?" We're on our way to the bus depot, but a sports game just let out and the new station is right by the stadium. The tirade of epithets pour from him like the lime green jerseys pouring across the blocked street we're suddenly trapped on. And it is a full on tirade, started earlier as he was cursing at his phone, castigating the office in Taiwan, annoyed to not be able to give me his attention before I had to go. The invective isn't as creative as I might have expected, but it's admirable in its persistence. It is the profanity of a long, long day. (I'm thinking about empty motion.) He's probably ready to gnaw his own arm off to get out of the gridlock, though his fantasy, more likely, involves mowing them all down. I tell him, as I finally get my bags from the car, that it was almost attractive. "Except for the bit where it's a little like examining someone's bookshelf and only finding male authors." He grins, puzzled, appreciative, and I blow a kiss goodbye.


The bar is familiar, the staff less so, though they all tend to look the same there. Punk hair, piercings, a roughshod pragmatic readiness to toss out the drunks. There's a periscope in the men's room, recently damaged by pigeons, and the t-shirt they sell contains a coded message that spells out FUCK YOU. The only other things to know: it's open 24 hours, there's a jukebox that's only broken half the time, and the food, though greasy, isn't too bad.

Ostensibly we're there after the show because whiskey goes well with fast cars and guns and explosions, but really we're there because I make him nervous. He's honest about it after the first shot. It's a relief. There is only one man who is afraid of me that I will make time for and as that slot is taken, the rest can go hang. If I'm not to be trusted, I need to know as soon as possible, the better to make other arrangements. But I am lucky this time. His reasoning is absurd and easy to correct, the missed shot of an archer who didn't know the wind of the territory.

Underneath, the darker water, the faster moving riptide reasons. I wonder if he sees them like I do, if he can read them as part of his hyperactive threat response, if he knows why he should be nervous instead of why he is. They stem from the same source that makes me wary of myself when I stand on tall buildings. That urge to throw oneself from the precipice, that desire to trust the air, to learn to fly by forgetting to hit the ground. For once, a fear is justified. In this, and this alone, I might be dangerous. My heart is broken, it is not a safe stone to stand on, Archimedes be damned.

Instead of the film, we talk about pain and suicide and what it's like to have the ones you love best die and leave you behind. We stand out front while he kills a cigarette, arguing about social species. He calls us the immortals, due to the way our kind expire, exhausted, unable to keep fighting, yet always come back to life. It is nice to be recognized, though our philosophies disagree. He leans his back against me, blowing his smoke away. "I am finally too tired to be reborn," I tell him, my hands on his shoulders. It is cold and I shiver. He rails against me in reply. Fuck that, jhayne, you can't give up, yet when I wrap my legs around his waist, he carries me, still swearing, back into the bar, ready to call it a night.

the wheels keep turning
Today's Writing Music: Hey Little Songbird, by Anaïs Mitchell, (from her album Hadestown).

Familiarity. Repeated motions. I've been across the border so many times. The lock is broken on the door of the first stall in the women's washroom. The seat behind the driver has more space for a laptop, but no overhead light, so no reading once it gets dark. No fruit, they will charge you a separate fee for each grape, and bottles are more preferable to cans, which cannot be resealed for transport.

Back from a road trip, back from a wedding. San Francisco, Mendocino, Portland, Seattle. The steep curves of the Coastal Highway, the birdsong next to where we were stalled. Back from hours sitting on the side of a highway in a broken down car, back from driving through entire nights. A midnight food cart, a midnight tow truck. Visits with people I haven't seen for years, visits with people I haven't seen for weeks. Sleeping wherever I can find to rest. Priorities: power, internet. A slingshot back and down, around California, not quite enough for escape velocity. At least I wasn't the one who was bitten by a tick.

Off the bus, I was only home long enough to drop off my suitcase. I'm still sleeping on couches, I'm already looking up ticket prices to get back, basic toiletries crammed in my laptop bag. I didn't want to keep working as a writer, but it has let me keep moving.

"When Love appeared to me so suddenly / That I still shudder at the memory."
I am awake. It is nine a.m. I have been awake since two a.m., when I woke crying, my insides twisting, the broken edges of all the pieces of my sharply broken heart grinding together in grief, and slipped from bed to throw up in the bathroom for half an hour from pain.

I'm practiced at this now. I knew to bring my phone and a sweater, to expect the need for distraction, to know my teeth will chatter from the stress of my body's reaction, all energy diverted to this misguided attempt to vomit my misery away as if my trauma were something I ate.

(I read the news as I sit on the floor. I read science fiction. I cannot, under any circumstances, read about code or coding or how to program. I cannot read about theatre or Frank Zappa or King Crimson or any other art prog rock the same way I cannot listen to any ravey dance music or Ratatat. Though central to my life, these have become tied to the worst of it, they have become impossible topics, impossible needs. My indoctrination was too complete. My love tied me to them as much as my ruined love now keeps me away.)

Sometimes, when I am reading in the middle of the night, freezing as I lean against porcelain, I think about writing. How much it used to run through my blood, how much I've given up, how much has been taken away.

This is the price of falling in love; poison, betrayal, loss, and pain and more pain. I am the little mermaid before she was sanitized, every step on land the same as walking on a thousand blades.

I am in San Francisco for an ex-partner's wedding. Our break-up was many years ago, but it is still a stressful thing. I can't help but remember when he proposed to me, then later declared that it was a romantic lie and I never should have taken him seriously. It was our first fight and the day after was the first day he began to abandon me. I spent the next six months fighting for us, stubborn in love, wanting his desire and happiness with every fibre of my being, but it didn't matter, he had decided and forever after just drifted away. It was this, completely: "I chose her less and less. Everyday, for five years, I chose her a little less. I stayed with her. I just stopped choosing her. We both suffered."

Yet here I am, a quarter away across the world to witness him finally follow through, but with someone else, even as I still wear his ring and his hands are banded with mine. Why? Because he asked me and I still love him and so want him to be happy, no matter how he treated me. (Isn't that the very definition?) I am a trembling thing, helpless against it.

Micheal, the best and brightest, there is no justice that you are gone and that I cannot call you in the midst of this and take comfort in your wry voice from Calgary or Berlin or Tel Aviv.

How odd and foolish love is. How stupid my heart. How much I wish I could cut them both out of me these sleepless nights when there is nothing in my world larger than pain.

My most recent ex was going to be my date to this, my partner, my shield and armor. It was going to be fine and sweet and an adventure, a trip together with friends along the way and dancing at the wedding and smiles as clear as diamonds. My first real date to a wedding. My first a lot of things shaped like joy.

I wonder if he remembered, if that's why he reached out with a message the very same minute I was putting a key in the ignition to drive south this week. A late night text, the first since New Year's Day, when he changed his relationship status to boyfriend-of-the-girl he fucked on our one year anniversary and declared I was mentally ill for begging for his compassion. It might have been coincidence, but I miss you, he said, I'm sorry I hurt you.

My reply said, I miss you too, I'm sorry you did too, I can't talk now, I'm driving to the wedding, and then that's what I did. I turned on the engine and drove for five hours. Then I traded places with my friend Rafael, napped briefly in the passenger seat, and then did it again. It was a relief. I had something to do and finally, finally, maybe the chance to resolve some of the agony he chose as his legacy, the heavy bread of my daily meal of grief and pain. I drove and drove and the scenery changed and I barely cried.

"Her tender feet felt as if cut with sharp knives, but she cared not for it; a sharper pang had pierced through her heart."

He changed his story the next day, of course, sober probably in the light of day. I only had one day with hope of relief before he read my journal and back-pedaled, practically tripping over himself in his haste to get away from the damage he helped create.

I suppose I understand. I imagine it is easier to leave me like this in perpetuity than face his own hypocrisy. To own his guilt would be to own a monstrous thing; that by taking the fearful lessons he learned through abuse and inflicting them on me, he has become harmful himself. Such a realization does not come cheap - it spits in the face of his best unshakable conviction, that he may be flawed, but he is Innocent. A Good Person more than anything else, the very kindest of all.

Maybe underneath it all, he knows. Why else send the first message? Yet no matter how badly he might feel in moments of late night, guilty whiskey weakness, I know I'm not worth it to him, just as I was not worth his respect when we were together. To treat me as an equal or a real person was too expensive for his conscience even when he was my partner and declared he loved me, so, honestly, I was a dimwitted idiot optimist for hoping otherwise. To think he might help me now, reach out and offer care after he has already discarded me, is a pipe dream.

Ignoring my daily wreckage is obviously easier. He doesn't have to live with it that way. I bear the cost, not him. He broke me and replaced me. See no evil, right? I'm a write off, just like his other crashed cars. The worst that could happen is that he might one day see his own soul, but who believes in such a thing in 2015? That's what drugs and alcohol are for.

If only I had some way to forget myself, too. Erase and negate my own vulnerable underbelly with chemical castration or hedgehog prickles and hide the fingerprints that trust left unfairly tattood on my skin. You would be disappointed with me, Michael, for wanting this, but nowhere is safe now that you're gone.

Even though I see his reasons, I cannot agree with them. Taking responsibility is a difficult task, but he does not earn my sympathies. To leave another in pain is beyond my horizon, beyond that which I am capable. It is incompatible with my wiring. Incomprehensible. Cruel. Instead I am stuck - no matter how much I hate myself for it or my daily distress - it is like with the other. Why am I here? I love him.

It causes such agony, but it is the truth. Even as every day I struggle to endure. Even as I barely feel I can stay alive. Even as I sit curled on a tired bathroom floor, watching another day dawn again as my body misfires, as it has for months, my flesh unable to understand that there is no cure for this disease.

inside/outside: loathe to explain
26th birthday
The air bit with a chill that didn't match the bright sunlight. I was on a bus traveling from my apartment to a doctor's office I'd never visited at the university of British Columbia. The view from the bridge might have been pretty, but to me it was nothing but a view of the recent oil spill. I did not know what to expect at the doctor's office. Someone over the phone had dropped the word "cancer" into conversation as innocuously as a sugarcube into coffee. I didn't have enough data, so I did not know what to expect. As a result, I failed to have any expectations. The unknown no longer holds any fear after the worst has happened.

I was recently in Los Angeles for three weeks. I stayed up an entire night and watched the moon's light be eaten by our planet's shadow from a barren desert near the border of Mexico. I learned how to drive an ATV and I sped in a race car on a track for the first time. I drove my first go-kart and only partially dislocated my shoulder doing so. I was introduced to shooting skeet and never missed, not even once, until the assault rifle jammed. I had dinner at the Magic Castle and discovered a secret door. I visited the spaceship Endeavor and a Banksy piece and the Echo Lake chandelier tree.

Luck was mostly with me. My company was always kind and funny and smart. My days were spent working and exploring, unearthing new places and experiences, and my evenings were often spent in the company of my host, one of my sweetest ex-partners, a man who pet my hair when he caught me keening with pain in my sleep.

Every day I think about Michael, his smile, his kindness, how much I would do if it would let me see him and hold him and let him loose on the world again. I would do unspeakable things. His smile, his wit. I would burn down houses. I would burn down cities. A life for a life. Ten lives for his. A hundred. He would be horrified and justified. He would be validated. I cannot say his name without twisting inside.

Everything in California made for easy stories. The sun shone almost every day, there were flowers everywhere, a downy brown hummingbird in the front yard, a familiar taste like metal in the back of my throat from the pollution in the air. I touched a tiny wild lizard, I bought books at The Last Bookstore, and sobbed until I thought I might die on the perfect sand beach at Santa Monica. I danced until last call in my underwear in a borrowed bear suit open to my waist in a bar on Hollywood Boulevard.

I try not to think about my coward of a most recent ex, M., and how much pain he's left unaddressed inside of me. I shy away from it the way I now avoid mirrors, as if he literally slashed me with knives and then declared me too ugly instead of only figuratively. I cannot bear my unwanted reflection as I cannot rely on my heart. It is too broken. I am too ruined. Both have fractured and cracked and crumbled. The abuse, such a surprise, was too much. The trauma, as unexpected, destroyed what was left. I am used up and there is not enough left to put anything back together. I cannot say his name, nor that of the planet he named himself after. I can barely utter my own.

The difficult stories are harder to see, but they are bigger and deeper and wider and greedy.

Being in the desert was triggering, (he grew up out here, he told me stories, fixing his jeep with the gusset of his underwear, getting lost in gullies while looking for ghost towns, his words a footnote to every stone), but who alive has eyes that could see such a thing?

I cannot reliably keep down anything I eat. I have lost fifteen pounds. People are constantly saying, "Oh wow, you look so good!".

This is also a trigger.

A terrible winter, leading into a spring that only looks better with eyes that cannot see.

Being alive is triggering. Everything hurts. Everything. Always.

My life since October has been a near comprehensive list of tragedy, injury, pain, disappointment, disability, death, and every wrenching heartbreak. I constantly wake violently throughout every night, usually crying, my endoctrine system certain that I am always under threat. Why else this much pain? I live stunned with it, trapped in the suffering cage of my own failure of a body, forcing myself to try to move normally through each moment even though its roar is deafening.

I try to be the sort of person who does not bring the tone down, does not to contribute to the disappointment, and I am sick of the world, so mostly I have been quiet. But, in truth, I am sick of living. I want to quit. Yet these habits die hard. When asked about such things, I have been telling the easy stories. "Magic!" "Race cars!" Tone. Keep it light, (keep it pointless), keep it bright.

I might say we went to the Salton Sea, went to Slab City, and looked at the art. I might say that the art was unexpected, that it was good to see the piano still present. Those are the outside stories, not the experience, not how I only went to East Jesus to visit a dear friend's grave to try and make a genuine connection with his unexpected death, only to encounter a tourist destination and be force-fed a rote and rehearsed tour and a bizarre and misplaced lecture about my lack of respect. Both happened, but the latter is more important to me than the first fact.

When pressed further by people who know about the other narratives, the shadow, less superficial stories, I have been still replying defensively until very recently, habitually, with the only good thing left unharmed - "but the pets are fine!"

Even this, however, is no longer true.

The day before I flew back to Canada, my flatmate David sent me a panicked note over Facebook. The unthinkable had occurred; Tanith the cat swatted Selenium the ferret and ruptured her eye.

He was worried she was going to be blinded and didn't know what to do. I arranged for hospital care, I arranged a ride there, I arranged to borrow space on a credit card to pay for it all. I did everything from California, hoping her vision could be saved, stressed out and over stretched, breaking down whenever I thought about how much she must be hurting, no matter where I was or what I was doing. All of our options were scary and expensive. The vet referred us to an optical surgeon. Two hundred dollars. The optical surgeon suggested her eye be removed. Another two hundred. We scheduled the surgery. Eight hundred. She had a rough time on the table. Another hundred. The mask became harder to keep in place.

Posting to social media about Selenium's needs and ordeal covered the costs. I am grateful, we're not going to be wiped out, but my grateful allayment is muddled. I am conflicted. There is no justice. She is home now, looking more like a prize fighter than a pirate. This is the Red Queen Paradox with a knee to the kidney for good measure; we run and run and run to stay in place, everyone throw in! Yet no matter how much is given, how much support is offered, (where was this before?), the best that can be possibly attained is a new equilibrium worse than the previous norm. It's like my life's theme, if such things existed outside of the convenient packaging of construct or English lit.

Now that April's Big Bad Trauma has arrived and (mostly, as best it can, a bankruptcy disguised as success) been neutralized, I am waiting for whatever happens in May. It will be rough, it will be tumble, and I refuse to try to imagine what awful unexpected there is left. Who's next? What's next?

It's my birthday this month. Thirty-three on the twenty:ninth. Ten years plus one from when I promised Michael I would fight to stay alive and try, no matter what, to find joy. Ten years "and a day" of failure and pain. If I can't succeed at such a small thing, in that length of time, I can't succeed, full stop. My promise runs out on my birthday. It's almost a relief. Ten years and a day of fighting and struggle, just to confirm: My best isn't good enough and it never will be.

"I am the captain and I sail a sea of dreams."
26th birthday
Woke up this Valentine's feeling sick and hollow. During the inspiring decade+ that Michael Green starred in my life, the glorious, mad wit that so well defined him always astonished me. (I'm not sure I've ever known anyone to be more dynamic, vital or alive.) And, like the great actor he was, he mastered and treasured every role in my life he could get his hands on - mentor, lover, pen-pal, partner, parent, tantrum child, art king, collaborator, curator, smart-ass student, responsible educator - with an effortless, beautiful sincerity I couldn't help but admire and reciprocate with my entire heart. I am devastated with this loss.

There has been no one better in my family, no one brighter or more essential to my life. He could, in turn, both amaze and terrify, but he cared deeply and he graciously made certain that his love supported me during the darkest times, such as what we're all experiencing now.

So today, as a comfort to my heart and yours, as he would prefer, as he would be proud to be, may he also always be The Whaler.

The Whaler, performed by Michael Green of One Yellow Rabbits at Performance Works as part of the Here Be Monsters theater festival 2006. Recorded by myself.

it will feel like injustice when the sun begins to rise
26th birthday
One of the brightest spots in my entire life has just been torn away by a car crash.
I am really, very deeply, not even a little bit okay.

Michael Green was killed in a car crash this morning.

CBC news has some of the details.

It's very likely that very few of you know what our relationship was or what he means to me - as very public people sometimes do, we had a very private connection - but Michael lines this journal like silver. He is, in many ways, why large swaths of it exist and why I have persisted in spite of so much of the pain that has come my way. He lifted me out of darkness. My darling Michael Thomas Green, one of the most important people in my adult life, his care and support, even at such a distance, sometimes have been my only secret weapon against the coming of the night.

I don't know what I'll do now that he's gone. I'm in tears. I'm in shock. I am scraped raw.

the giggle at a funeral
26th birthday

Sergei Polunin's improvised dance to "Take Me To Church" by Hozier, as directed by David LaChapelle from David LaChapelle Studio.

looking to hit the ground running
26th birthday
I've been quiet lately due to heart-break and travel and people dying and things beyond my control. I've returned fragile and in need. In need of work, in need of support, and especially of care.

If you can, please take a moment to look over this looking-for-work page I've created and pass it around on all your social media. The more eyes that see it, the better a chance I have. You never know where a connection might lead.

Jhayne Holmes: Communicatrix for Hire

goodbye 2014: I am a shadow as the world moves on
I try to post something beautiful every year on the last day of the year. Quite often my choices are haunting, as befits the ghost of time's passage, like the forgotten circus, or sweet, like this optimistic relationship post, or mischievous, (I really have to find a copy of that file again), or something personal, usually a bit of writing, but this year started roughly and ended the worst it's ever been, so I'm just going with HERE IS ART THAT SPEAKS TO ME. It is more bleak than usual, but such is fitting, given my broken life and devastated heart, that I would bid goodbye to 2014 with a such a twisted thing.


Type until the red dot appears, then click it. NSFW.

my only christmas tradition: rare exports and the official safety instructions
26th birthday
"Just before the first snow of winter falls, professional hunters begin their work. The long process of tracking, hunting and transforming this king of the forest into a finished product is a time consuming process, but the final outcome is a reason to celebrate."

Rare Exports Inc. (2003) from Woodpecker Film.

"Not meant for the public eye, this film reveals the dark reality of what's wrong with company's product. With its primitive instincts triggered by bad behaviour of people around it, the seemingly tame Father Christmas will forget the intensive training and turn into a brutal beast. You better watch out, you better not cry, there's no room for mistakes."

Rare Exports: The Official Safety Instructions (2005) from Woodpecker Film.

I share this
26th birthday
TODAY'S REQUIRED READING: I Have Seen The Tops Of Clouds, by Quinn Norton

Quinn Norton shows a bit of tooth, a flash of anger, and the resolve we all require to keep making things better.

(Her trick, interestingly enough, is my trick, too. I do not believe I will ever tire of the miracle of flight.)

"I write about depressing things. I try to face the worst things about humanity and our situation. I started with how the oceans are dying, but since then I’ve moved on to genocide, imprisonment, the history of labor exploitation, computer security and mass surveillance, racism, and global ecological collapse. I’m fun at parties.

[...] We are diseased and angry and we kill each other and ourselves and all the world. We are killing off life on Earth like a slow moving asteroid. I try to look at this, and my own part in it. Sometimes it is overwhelming. I feel so powerless trying to comprehend all the terrible things we face, much less get past them into our future, with our humanity and our inconceivably beautiful little blue-green planet preserved.

[...]All these grown-up monsters for my grown-up mind, they are there in the nights I wake up terrified and taunted by death. When I feel so small and broken, when despair and terror take me, I have a secret tool, a talisman against the night. I don’t use it too often so that it doesn’t lose its power. I learned it on airplanes, which are strange and thrilling and full of fear and boredom and discomfort. When I am very frightened, I look out the window on airplanes and say very quietly:

I have seen the tops of clouds

And I have. In all the history of humanity, I am one of the few that has seen the tops of clouds. Many would have died to do so, and some did. I have seen them many times. I have seen the Earth from space, and spun it around like a god to see what’s on the other side. We are the only consciousness we’ve ever found that has looked deep into the infinite dark, and instead of dark, we saw galaxies. Galaxies! Suns and worlds beyond number. We have looked into our world and found atoms, atomic forces, systems that dance to the glorious music of the universe. We have seen actual wonders that verge on the ineffable. We have coined a word for the ineffable. We have coined thousands of words for the ineffable. In our pain we find a kind of magic, in our worst and meanest specimens we find the flesh of a common human story. We are red with it.

a higher fidelity incantation
26th birthday
  • Here With Me - Susie Suh x Robot Koch

    Now that I have returned to Vancouver my days are spent, again, tidying house and looking for further work. Selling things, making charity bags, writing cover letters. The details shift, move, and fade away, but the general thrust remains the same: find work, leave this place.

    I was recently disrupted, though, by a simple thing; an old greeting card with a picture of a leopard-print rabbit that fell from between some books in my closet while I was struggling to put my suitcase away. It's from a lover I was with in 2006, a man who was almost exactly twice my age at the time, who I still think of with affection when he comes to mind. We haven't been in touch since January of 2012, when there was a brief flurry of five or six e-mail that died in his court.

    Inside is a lovely little note, sweet, hopeful and warm, from a time when we still felt protected by each other, even after the close of our relationship. Time travel via information packet. Memory conjuring his voice, his toothy smile, how bright it was the day we walked in the fog by the water, how much I mourned when the silver and green amber brooch he gave me was stolen and lost. (There's plenty of writing about him in this journal, actually, tucked under a code-name tag, just like everyone else I've shared my life with since 2003.) I do not think of him often, but when I do, I wonder where in the world he is, what lunatic art he is birthing, who he is currently inspiring. I hope his family has healed. I hope his head and heart have found peace and delight. I hope, as he inevitability swans through the world, (and swans, he does), elegant and full of light, he does so with gentleness, ferocity, and grace.

    So I wrote him a letter, the contents not much different than what I'm sharing here, and I put the card up on the thread I have on the wall above my desk where I keep emotional reminders. It fit in nicely. Such good company on that length of string! Photographs of photographers, snippets from writers, postcards, and similar paper miscellany. All of it positive, but all of the people gone from my life or far away.

    It was interesting to find myself writing again to someone I haven't spoken to in so long. So many commingling layers of motivation! He was the center of my life, the vortex of everything spun around him, but I'm in my thirties now and I don't think we've been in the same place since I was twenty-five. (Seven years is a fairy-tale number. Even with seven league boots, I'm still so far behind that it's almost a fifth of my entire life.) It's so peculiar, that such distance could come into play, that such distance is what became ordinary.

    As I clear my life, hone it down like a knife, I wonder who else I will reach out to.

  • TODAY'S REQUIRED READING: The key that unlocks shared safety
    26th birthday
    TODAY'S REQUIRED READING: Stories Like Passwords, by Emma Healey

    "A story like this is a password. Once you say it out loud, doors start to open. For the rest of that night, and the rest of my time at that residency, the women who’d seen those emails would tell me stories."

    There's a minor scandal going on in Canada about a radio guy being fired because he's (potentially) attacked some women. The scandal will go away, the conversations are almost all very one sided, and it's all terrible. (A bit wag the dog considering Harper's speech on making Canada a police state). But this article struck a chord with me.

    Because yes, there is a girl network and it hums in the shadows. We try to screen for security when we meet someone new, we try to keep other women safe from people we know are suspicious. We ask questions of other women when we're uncertain about an interaction. We tell each other about the missing stairs, because otherwise there's no way to know.

    Are you a part of it? I am. Let's talk about this instead: Who do you tell these stories about and who do you tell them to?

    "The men in stories like this always have just enough power, in their little worlds and in ours, that to confront them would be to court an ordeal, to invite others to question our own memories and motives. It’s always more trouble than it’s worth. If you don’t have hard proof, if you don’t have a police report, then what do you have? Only what you remember. Only what you felt."

    As someone pointed out in a related thread on Facebook, it's "reminiscent of recent outpourings in the science communication community following revelations of ongoing harassment"

    Which led me to this list, Mixed Up, a list of inappropriate things a woman in science has experienced, framed as things she wants "men in professional settings to know what they cannot do." She says, "The situations below are mixed up chronologically so you don’t know who did what to me. I’m not naming names. But please note: my name is on this. Life isn’t fair."

    It's a powerful thing to read. I'm inspired to perhaps write my own in solidarity, but can't imagine where to even begin. How to put such a thing in order? There are too many.

    do you want to watch a movie?
    26th birthday

    7:35 DE LA MAÑANA from Morituri.

    7:35 in the Morning is a short from 2004 that I think Andrew found through StumbleUpon before it was nominated for an Oscar. We used to have little Found Media nights where people would bring DVD's or drives with videos they had liked and downloaded from the internet, like YouTube parties before the social networks caught up with our habits and everything was given over to the cloud, and I remember this one making quite the impression when we put it up on the screen. A bit like when we found The Hire BMW films in early 2002. (Called The Hire, we found them stripped of their context and named them The Driver series and loved them all the same.)

    The internet is interestingly timeless, insomuch that what is old can be new again, as new waves of people discover old art. It's strange to think that 7:35 in the Morning is from a decade ago. I haven't seen Andrew in months, I couldn't name more than five people who used to come to those parties, but here I am, tracking it down and posting it to my LiveJournal, just like I did ten years ago when I was twenty:two.

    It came up this evening because I'm sending some of my favourite short films to a dear friend who's at home with anxiety. It's not the hair-dye girly party we planned, but I'm still managing to help her with her gluey, uncomfortable head-yuck, so I'm a little disappointed, but not as much as I would be if I couldn't find a way to help.

    Other films I'm sending her that you might like as well:

    Johnny Express, by Kyungmin Woo - A slightly shady delivery gone terribly wrong. Animated with a nod to disaster blockbuster tropes, it's a sweet yet efficient bit of ha-ha ouch sort of slapstick.

    Hotel Chevalier, by Wes Anderson - Partner short to The Darljeeling Limited, Jason Schwartzman plays the same character, but before he got his emo heart all ker-smashed by his ex-lover, played by Natalie Portman. More atmosphere than plot, but nice.

    Marilyn Myller, by Mikey Please - From the description, "A year in the making, the full six minute stopmotion short features the voice of Josie Long, one zillion hand carved tiny things, literally tens of carved foam puppets, two eye fulls of in-camera, long-exposure light trickery and a pair of tiny dolphins, smooching." It also pointedly makes fun of high art while being, at it's heart, high art.

    The Centrifuge Brain Project - Lies, damned lies, and mock documentaries about scientific experiments. Contains nearly believable amusement park rides and a touch of death.

    This Is a Generic Brand Video, written by Kendra Eash for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency - Made entirely of stock footage, (excepting the custom narration), this short gleefully skewers the poisoned well of advertising conceits it draws from so successfully.

    Oktapodi, by gobelins school of animation students - Two octopi in love. One is captured, meant for a dinner table, the other must get it free. Chaos, of course, ensues just as ridiculously it should.

    Trois petits points, by gobelins school of animation students - Supremely stylish, a seamstress sews things back together during and after a war, while her husband is resentful. Thick with myth, this one, and darkness.

    C'est la vie, by Simone Rovellini - Attractive and bewitching, this working girl is especially charming if you're a fan of Amélie. Similar whimsy and cinematic style, though very different plot. I will love this one until I die.

    the privilege of being yours
    This time I whisper it, at about the violin's volume: "I love you." No one hears, no one sees, but the tree falls in the forest just the same.

    - David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks, page 192.

    I'm scribbling in that book. Marginalia in black ink. The pages are almost as pale as my skin. The words that spit from my pen are tiny, nearly incomprehensible, bumped from the motion of planes, trains, automobiles, streetcars, and an actual boat. They are call-backs, snippets and snatches, and awful jokes. "Like that time in the hotel lobby the tourists thought I was a prostitute." My lines tilt. The words jog, my long-hand atrophied and atrocious. But this is how we will read the story together. Written time-travel. I only write to share.

    We sing together. The words are slightly unfamiliar, so we play the song again, the better to affix it to our tongues. I am better at the lyrics, he is better with the sounds.

    Claire takes my arm and we move forward, a cascade of notes and torch song lyrics. She and I have missed the second half of our flight from San Francisco to Vancouver, but it's going to be alright. We missed it because of true love and chocolate and it will make a good story. We will be fine, we still have care on the line. Hers is driving down to Seattle to get us, mine is sharing music on-line and going to pick us up from a train station and offer us shelter. Their arms and our mouths. Their grace and our soft thanks. We are so grateful for how rich our lives have suddenly become. I am so grateful I cry.

    My life has never been as rich as this. I have never traveled as much as I have this year. I have never felt so cherished or so rewarded. I have climbed ruins. I have walked into a warm sea. I have been to the tops of mountains and pulled with two hands from the depths of despair. He said, "come", and he fetched me, for I was fetching, and I felt loved and I was loved and I loved him and I love him still and his eyes haunt me the way the clouds came over Chicago, the way good art can make me ache, the way it was glorious to be a passenger as my ex-boyfriend screamed us across the ridges of L.A. at twice the speed limit in the middle of the day.

    "I love you," I said. "I admire you and I like you and I appreciate you, too. All of these things are separate and each needs to be said."

    (The sunset is also beautiful, the moon also outstanding, but those are apparent and do not need to be mentioned.)

    He is so pretty to my eyes that it seems absurd. I trace his face with my fingertips like I am a cartographer trying to memorize his topography with my nervous system, embed him like a program I can replay at will. The line of his side to his hip while he stands in a kitchen, his back to me, his smooth muscles sliding under clothes that I would remove. I want to taste him, I want to keep his skin on my tongue, I want to know the texture of every whorl of his fingers in my lonely mouth. I want to feel him shudder, I want him to take my face in his hands as if I were porcelain and kiss me so softly I might shatter. I want, I want, I want.

    How he looks at me. I am greedy. I cannot get enough.

    The annotations I am writing are mostly sweet and/or silly, but each tiny desecration is founded on affection. Even when the writing borders on the divine and all I can do is leave a mark next to a line in quiet, pure appreciation. When all I can do is put a tick next to a particular note. "Look at this, this is what I would read out loud to you, were we in bed together, were we in the same place and had enough time for books." A lot of things are underlined.

    It is autumn. I feel the dried leaves of the photos I am sent. I hear the crackling swish of what it used to be like to walk through such things, the sharp scent of winter under the softer air. There is a blurred shoe in the picture, blue jeans, and it is exactly right. It is what I need.

    The ceiling over his bed is decorated with plastic glow-in-the-dark stars that I bought from a dollar store. I spun a story of partners and physics, the harmony of two lovers who came together in such fine frequency that their flesh reorganized, and placed stars on the ceiling. "And this is my hand and this is your hand and my:body and your:body became our:body and the atoms danced together in forever:true. It is like they are dreaming. It is like they are the same. No longer a man and a woman, but the same." Sometimes he takes other people to his bed, and I hurt when he does, but the sweet, artificial sky above it remains mine anyway.

    I fall asleep with the book under my pillow and I wake up sobbing like my heart has been torn out so hard it has taken my voice, like I am a child who has just discovered death. I had dreamed about when my white cat died and I clawed her body out from the grave my mother put her in. How dark the dirt was on her fur and guts. I want teleportation. I want time-travel. That feeling of want, that quivering feeling of fury, large enough that by all rights it should have warped the world.

    He has attached a linen tarpaulin over his truck, to better offer privacy to the make-shift bed I requested that he make in the back. It's a two-hour layover, long enough for us to curl up together and bathe our hearts in each other's regard. It has been over a month we have been apart and sometimes it has been hard. Our hearts are wet and warm and slippery. We talk softly and he tells me what he has learned in my absence. Last time the new word was "love". This time the lesson is commitment. I ask him if he wants to make us all official-like. He says yes and asks what the fine print on the back of the boyfriend card entails. I will have to get back to him. I cannot yet read the writing on that wall, but even though he has hurt me before, I am sure he will do fine.

    We sing together. American music. Bruce Springsteen, half of an album I have never heard through. It is like being wrapped in a blanket of safety, a black blanket pulled from the trunk of his car on a date we had once in Seattle, half our history ago, the city spread out sparkling in front of us, the expression on his face in the shop when I insisted he help pick out our foolish ice-cream. His ultra-organized "Have you even met me?" at odds with "All of this is new." He is an artifact of his culture, parallel yet almost completely foreign to mine; of guns, bullets, and punk rock. It used to be that I did not want to care for him. Now we are apart, I would go blind for him. Now we apart, I am furious.

    I stand with my bare feet on warm, dark earth. The water is a blue I have never seen in person, so clear it fractures light into rainbows as it moves. The stars at night shine brighter than our own sun. I hold a plastic mask in one hand and the straps to a jangling, industrial body-harness in the other. I am an angel of change. Somewhere close, a mountain discreetly explodes. I take pictures no one may ever see. The flowers that sprout from my skin are tropical, my heart is a greenhouse. I am actively looking for more laws to break. And the drums keep beating. They have been beating for months. The drums are huge, the light-show spectacular, and his body is pressed against mine in the crowd. We are hiding in plain sight. I do not have even a skerrick of doubt left. I am a valkyrie. I moan with relief, as he does. My forgiveness is larger than the sky.

    I am so grateful. I am so grateful, again, that I cry.

    Cirque du Soleil's dance of drones and a road-trip proposal
    26th birthday

    SPARKED: A Live Interaction Between Humans and Quadcopters

    Bonus: Cirque du Soleil, ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios also posted a behind the scenes video that goes into the progeneration of the film.


    Kurios, the newest Cirque show is going to be playing the west coast this winter. In my quest to see EVERY Cirque show, I have seen an unlikely number of Cirque productions - five or six tent shows (in Vancouver, Seattle, and Montreal), and four of the eight shows permanently installed in Vegas - and Kurios is easily one of my very favourites, right up there with "O". (I saw it in Montreal during it's opening run while I was there for ReCon.) It's a clockwork time-travel, turn-of-the-century bit of deliciousness, dipped in retrofuturistic science fiction and with an undeniable City of the Lost Children vibe. Very brass, electricity, and polished wood, but bright and colourful and sweet.

    It's playing Seattle from January 29th, 2015, to February 22nd and I would very much like to go with as many of you beautiful people as possible. (Unlike the majority of my road-trips, this is being proposed far in advance.) So, with that in mind, who would like to come with me? Let's plan!

    this is not a temporary error
    26th birthday

    Vancouver poet Zaccheus Jackson’s death by train in Toronto ‘an absolute tragedy’
    36-year-old Alberta native is remembered as a passionate educator who was “just fully coming into his power” as a spoken-word poet of Blackfoot descent.

    Zaccheus was a good person as well as a good poet. He was a bright light, easy to recognize even at a distance, and he shone constantly and tirelessly and true. Even though I met him years ago, he was one of the only people who could still coax me to come out to a poetry slam.

    I am sorry I didn't get to know him better. I am grateful for how much I did.

    Always remember to tell people when you love them. Nothing is permanent. There is no such thing as the future. There is now and then there is maybe, possibly, only potentially a later version of now. Tell people you appreciate them, that they move you, that you respect them, that their taste in clothes is nice, that the way they move is graceful, that you like how they place their hands on the wheel of the car as they drive, that you adore when they sing along to the radio, that their stutter is appealing, that their guitar face is ravishing, that your admiration for their way with words is endless and honest, that you are attracted to them, that you are in awe of how silly they can be, that you think it's great that thing they did one time, you remember, with the fork and their niece, that thing, you still think about them, you think about them and you smile, that you think about them and cry, that you think about them, that you miss them, that you sympathize, that you admire and recognize their efforts, that you grasp what they are trying to say, that you regard their puns as a necessary evil, that you commend their sensitivity, that you respond to their touch, that you feel the world is better with them in it, that you worship their cooking, that you long for more time with them, that you idolize the same values, that you are fascinated by the same things, that you hold them dear, that you have had your mind changed by their point of view, that you dig their taste in music, that you value their opinion, that you applaud their parenting, that you esteem their criticism, that you enjoy the way they make you laugh, that you luxuriate in their attention, that you treasure their affection, that their approval makes you happy, that you want to make them proud, that they inspire pride, that you care for them, that they satisfy your curiosity, that they are sweet, that they are treasured, that that shirt matches their eyes, that you're glad to have met them, that it's no problem to help out, that you are glad to be of service, that you accept their charity, that they are cherished, that they are anything and everything, that we, each one of us, is the world. Remember and tell them and love and love and love.

    “The fastest we live is still the slowest we die.” - Zaccheus

    Tell them, your friends, your loved ones, but the acquaintances, too. Tell everyone. Fight against the inevitable coming of night.


    She's Still Dying On Facebook

    "On March 2, more than four years ago now, Lea died of substance-abuse-related liver failure. June 10 would have been her 27th birthday. This time of year is when she’s always most on my mind, and I’m sure that some Facebook technician who keeps track of what we all do on the site would report that my visits to Lea’s profile increase exponentially as the weather gets warmer. I don’t know how, exactly, I managed to open up my old messages with Lea. I want to say that Facebook put the messages there—that I didn’t click the button, that they just appeared, Lea’s face popping up because she had something to say, she wanted to chat. But I must have clicked. Maybe by accident. Still, I can’t ignore the pull of my bookworm’s interpretation, arguing that technology is the closest human beings come to magic. I know nothing about the way the Internet works. I still half-believe the Internet is simply air. So why isn’t it plausible that Lea’s messages appeared in response to how much I miss her, to my own guilt about her death.


    Lea died the first time soon after she joined Facebook, when I witnessed her transformation into someone she would have mocked and pitied. She died again, a smaller death, a year or so before her real-world one, when she basically stopped posting altogether. On March 2, she died publicly, her wall turning into the memorial it is now. To me, she’s died again and again since then. The posts remembering her are fewer and fewer, months apart sometimes. When I rediscovered our messages, she died again—in a different way, because I’d come face to face with how I failed her. Facebook has made her death a sort of high-concept horror movie. How many more times will I grieve her? How many more details from my past, from Lea’s past, are buried online, waiting for me to uncover them?"

    remarkable beauty, oh android, sing the body electric
    26th birthday


    my deep appreciation for terrible places and what they can teach us
    26th birthday

  • Duke University: Society bloomed with gentler personalities, more feminine faces: Technology boom 50,000 years ago correlated with less testosterone.

    My first impression was of taupe, tan, plush, dark wood, and cream velveteen. The hotel seemed built with an eye for what someone imagined inoffensive luxury would look like. Everything that wasn't gleaming stone was either shining metal or carpeted. Staff stood by every door to insulate guests from carrying bags, opening doors or having to walk ten feet alone from the front desk to the concierge. A bronze Richard MacDonald sculpture of a slim, impossibly elegant trumpeter stood alone on a round marble table in front of the elevators. (I ran a finger down the length of her spine, wondering at her musculature. She was pointed a different direction almost every time I went by. Moved by staff or guests, I never found out.) We had lunch on a veranda surrounded by palm trees and water fountains and ignored napkins with a higher thread count than most sheets. Very little felt real.

    Thirty:ninth floor. Top button in the lift. As couch-surfing goes, I leveled up. The room was a four minute walk from the elevator. Again with the scale. The closet was big enough to hold a mattress, the bathroom that and half again, and the room was even more meticulously crafted than the hall to imply richness yet stay innocuous. Nothing was brightly coloured or printed with a solid pattern. Nothing looked experimental or even extravagant, but more as if everything had been chosen through focus group. Magazine cover bland and comfortable.

    In spite of the obvious tax bracket of untouchable leisure, I rearranged the furniture as soon as I arrived, hauling a heavy glass table aside so the eight-foot sofa could be turned around the face the floor to ceiling window wall. (The bed was gigantic, too, but not mine.) Having such a thing face the room was a waste. The photo here is the view from my pillow of The Strip. Though it was nicer at night, it was more difficult for a phone to photograph.

    As an introduction to a trip, I had never experienced anything quite like it. I had expected to be buffered from Vegas toxins by people I like, but I did not expect to be buffered by trickle-down economics as well. Moving from a mattress on the floor of a sketch-fest apartment to one of the aristocratic hotels was a more interesting leap than I am accustomed to. Vegas is decadently artificial, yet there I was, swaddled by an extraordinary amount of care. It didn't make it better to be in such a place, but it changed the timbre of the thousand cuts I experienced there, a socially conscious mermaid visiting the shores of privilege. For example, the only white skinned workers I could see were the ones who interacted directly with hotel guests. Another, everyone is paid to pause and greet you when you walk by, no matter how involved or strenuous their current task might be. Just by your presence, you interrupt their flow. It's mandatory. It's awful. It made me deeply, visibly uncomfortable. My skin crawled a tiny twitch with every hello.

    The so-called city of excess, pleasure, and party doesn't back up what it markets. Be wild! But within very particular measures. Stay up all night! Except that everything is closed by four. Go crazy! But only in ways the powers that be have measured and accounted for. It's the most proscribed public place I have been.

    I was waiting for my ride to the DefCon shoot, an event where a bunch of hackers all ride out into the desert to destroy a variety of targets with advanced and complicated weaponry, when I decided to demonstrate the peculiar boundaries of the city of sin. I had been talking with a friend, tracing in the air the imaginary and artificial cultural box we were standing in. The easiest way to offer my point, though, was to lie down on the ground, so I did. Nothing more complicated than that. I lay down on the polished and sealed cobblestones of the sidewalk next to the valet pick-up of one of the more expensive hotels on the Strip and started counting. I did not look distressed. I did not make any noise. I simply stretched out and waited.

    It took less than a minute. Someone was there almost immediately, "Miss, what are you doing? You can't do that. You have to get up. You are upsetting the people on the cameras." The man who calls the taxi, hand to his ear, up to an almost invisible microphone, his thirty minute line-up forgotten, less of a priority than I was, peacefully lying on the ground.

    Not many places in the first world are so terrifying or for so many reasons.

    I am glad I went for a completely different set of events, I've come back from Vegas with a lot healed in my head and heart, but I have to admit that little moment was a source of intense satisfaction as well. Part of the way I'm wired declares that it's important to be able to social hack a place as efficiently as possible. Can't break the rules properly until they are fully understood.

  • Howdy, Vegas, your new narrators are on their way.
    26th birthday

    The Gunfighter from Eric Kissack.

    Tags: , ,

    artpost: Design Is Not Democracy
    26th birthday

    The God Of The Grove
    , 2013. gold-plated brass, polymer, distressed black finish, marble, by sculptor Hedi Xandt.

    a collection theory of unlinear operators
    26th birthday
    Frida Kahlo to Marty McConnell

    leaving is not enough; you must
    stay gone. train your heart
    like a dog. change the locks
    even on the house he’s never
    visited. you lucky, lucky girl.
    you have an apartment
    just your size. a bathtub
    full of tea. a heart the size
    of Arizona, but not nearly
    so arid. don’t wish away
    your cracked past, your
    crooked toes, your problems
    are papier mache puppets
    you made or bought because the vendor
    at the market was so compelling you just
    had to have them. you had to have him.
    and you did. and now you pull down
    the bridge between your houses,
    you make him call before
    he visits, you take a lover
    for granted, you take
    a lover who looks at you
    like maybe you are magic. make
    the first bottle you consume
    in this place a relic. place it
    on whatever altar you fashion
    with a knife and five cranberries.
    don’t lose too much weight.
    stupid girls are always trying
    to disappear as revenge. and you
    are not stupid. you loved a man
    with more hands than a parade
    of beggars, and here you stand. heart
    like a four-poster bed. heart like a canvas.
    heart leaking something so strong
    they can smell it in the street.

    - Marty McConnell
  • Leatherdo - a stainless steel multitool hair clip designed by Yaacov Goldberg.

  • Beautiful Beast - a golden spider broach worn as a temporary piercing.

    I'm flying out again on Saturday. This time to Vegas for a week of security conferences: BlackHat, B-Sides, and DefCon. I'm only official for one, but another is free and the third I shall attempt to sneak into, because I probably can and it'll be fun. Also, what else is there for the poor to do in Vegas?

    My time "home" in Vancouver has been busy, but mostly without anchor. I domesticate well and gladly, but my attachments are to people, not places. My days, instead, have been spent on phone calls with New York and messages on-line with Michigan, Washington, Ontario, and Oklahoma. Nothing that digs me in where I am. I have spent the majority of this summer away, living basic out of a suitcase, and confirmed that not only do I enjoy/prefer it, the only things I miss are my ferrets and (sometimes) Seattle. So the crusade to pare my apartment down continues. The desire for rococo minimalism continues. Soon my life will be nothing more than a pair of ferrets, some media and data devices, a spot of taxidermy, some art, a few weapons, and an elegant wardrobe of motorcycle and combat gear, Victorian lace, and kevlar flounces.

    A more telling list may not actually exist.

    Which reminds me, as soon as I get an influx of cash, I have projects to work on again. I've been window shopping for a used motorcycle, drive shaft, no spokes, a machine with muscle unlikely to break down, but first is safety. Sewing with leather, something light-up with spinal protective armor, and a jacket to resurface. LED's, el-wire, arduino VS raspberry pi. Ideas nipping at my heels like starved little purse chihuahuas shaking in the harsh reality of my financial winter. Ideas that had long been erased. My resources are shifting, bruised heart on my sleeve, capabilities ratcheting back into gear, the coastal combinations of care like cards on a table. There are no aces hidden next to my wrist, but perhaps I'll embroider one in. I have a deep love for those tiny, clever touches.

    Meanwhile I find myself unable to spend more than three nights in a row in my own bed. Crashing over at Nathan's, crashing over at Nicholas and Esme's; laundry, dinner, a long run of Orphan Black. Different reasons, but the same underlying dis-attachment to my where I keep my things. To further push this, I am attempting to sublet my room for the month of August. I should have done it sooner, for June and July, given how little I was there, but starting now will have to do. I don't know the map past August 12th, but even if I do not find my way to the desert, I will make do. I am inhabiting my language, embracing my internal architecture all the way to the edges of my vision and I have the keys to five other houses on my key-chain. I will be okay.

    It is an awful place, but I am beginning to look forward to Vegas. The teal sky stretched like silk over the blind roads and senseless cacophony, the inevitable black t-shirts with witty taglines and open bars buzzing with abuse. It is not going to be at all like my last time there or the time before that or the time before that. Each visit before has been fraught with conflict, stress a thin note running through every decision. This time I will not be alone, isolated or rejected. I will not have been sent for to stand as a peace-maker to sordid drama, I will not have been brought along as a sop, I will not be going as a dismantled half. No matter how this week unfurls, (and it does have some very interesting possibilities), none of the previous scenarios will have a chance to duplicate. There will be a tribe this time, there will be people I care for who care for me. (My best medicine). New people, new skills. This trip will be unique and for that I am grateful. The city will not poison me. Though the Vegas strip is a manipulative construct, a gigantic shrine dedicated to the worst of the states, the people I will be walking with share my inherent refusal to genuflect.

  • we are history
    26th birthday
    As Israel’s assault on Gaza intensifies, it is not anti-Semitic to say: not in my name, by Laurie Penny, (emphasis mine):

    It is not anti-Semitic to suggest that Israel doesn’t get a free pass to kill whoever it likes in order to feel “safe”. It is not anti-Semitic to point out that if what Israel needs to feel “safe” is to pen the Palestinian people in an open prison under military occupation, the state’s definition of safety might warrant some unpacking. And it is not anti-Semitic to say that this so-called war is one in which only one side actually has an army. [...]

    Last weekend, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children around the world marched to express their disgust at Israel’s air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip, and among them were swathes of Jews and Israelis. This is one of the few situations in which it makes a difference to stand up and say: not in our name. Not now, not ever again. Being Jewish, or having Jewish roots, doesn’t make you responsible for what is happening in Gaza, but it does mean that your dissent carries that much more weight. Not more weight than the grieving relatives of the families butchered in Shejaiya, but the kind of weight that hangs heavy on the heart, and that comes with the small but palpable risk of upsetting your family.

    So here it is. I think my ancestors who were persecuted, tormented and exiled down the centuries for being Jews would be horrified to see what is being done in their name today.
    Tags: , ,

    You're alright / For someone's summer kind of sickness

    San Fermin - Sonsick - Audiotree Live

    I found me a hopeless case and resolved to love
    Maybe we can find a decent place when I'm old enough
    Found love in an empty gaze, tried to fix it up
    I found me a hopeless case, oh, oh.

    I've been fueled by single size candy-bars this week, returning to Canada face first into my stash of kit-kats and candy scooped from various Google offices. I would say the amount of sugar I've consumed this week would be a problem, but it's keeping my brain going.

    My problem, more, is where to start. I want to dive in to all of the stories that I have been living, but I am stymied by the staggering number of moments that I should be sharing, should be documenting but instead have been allowing to slip past me, unrecorded, and so, eventually, unremembered. Our grandparents probably did not write very often, our parents probably only wrote a little bit more, but our generation knows The Word, knows its power, understands that literacy is a window into history. Our own as well as that of others. Society seems nostalgic for what came before, but really, we have never had it better than this. Yet here I am, wasting the page, spending my Friday night sitting in front of a screen.


    My chemicals problems feel like they have swallowed me whole. Serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, epinephrine, norepinephrine. Long words for relatively simple things. Call and response. But when they should trigger, failures. Call and then nothing. The grapes shrivel on the vine.

    I went to the doctor today to ask for a test to gauge the levels of depletion, in order to add them to my file, to try and see what could be fixed. The doctor refused, says I need to "talk it out", but he is wrong. It is physical and I am tired of being permanently defused. I want to be lifted up by life again. I want to be able to touch the world and feel it.

    Meanwhile, I have been put in the position of needing to dismantle some of the only care and intimacy that I ever have found completely satisfying. Bloody difficult. Needful, but the logistics slay me. How does this even work? This isn't a task I've built a tool-set for.

    Instead, we play the question game. We entertain ourselves, we put off the inevitable for a few hours more. I quote Shakespeare. He claims I am risking his life. On the surface, this is very little. Peel through the layers, it is the world. When I ask why he continues the dance, we are no longer playing. He stays. I stay. He calms me. It is enough.


    Absence diminishes little passions and increases great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and fans a fire. -- François de la Rochefoucauld

    We set off fireworks for my birthday when I was in Seattle a few weeks ago. My dearest and I, scouting along the river at midnight, along with one of my best friends. All of the romance of shifting with a left hand. Explosions, incredible, gigantic explosions.

    We texted a handful of our people, looking for co-conspirators, fellow anarchists ready and willing to break a handful of small laws. Only one replied, but he took awhile to drive south enough to meet us, so this fey creature and I found ourselves by the river, booting about a park the size of a postage stamp, a discarded piece of land too small for even the city to care about. I was in heels, fool I, as I had walked through my sandals when I was in San Francisco, but the rough chunks of cement proved to be easier to clamber over than I would have expected. I almost fell anyway, slipping in the dirty, industrial dark, but he was there, elegant as calligraphy, the odd way he moves, this man, this boy I would love some day.

    All of these things I write about, but I do not write about him. Again. Yes, again.

    Let me tell you instead of other people, other parts and pieces of my history. The one who lied, lied as I watched, as I suddenly knew. Silver at his temples, silver and silver, thirty plus two pieces, some better future offered in the palm of his hand. Take it, he offers, take it and forgive me and help me and we will conquer. He looks at me as if I am the one who keeps the keys to the prison of his life. When he looks at me like this, as if I am needed, a requirement for breathing, I cannot deny him anything. Who am I to judge the lost? We are the same.

    Or another, the one who omitted, who erased. How he read what I wrote and felt, slightly, like he was dying, even though I held him through it, wrapped him in a cloak of my care. "That might be making it worse." I understood but I wasn't going to let go. We were in a park, a beautiful place I had never been that he knew I would like. In that space, his favourite tree. We watched the ferries come in and leave again. What an interesting thing to care about, I originally thought, a favourite tree. I was struck by the novelty, but in that moment came the realization that it matters to me that it matters to him. It was like listening to a motionless heart start beating. I carry it, that recognition. I am incapable of forgetting. Through his eyes, the red wood is new and beautiful. I am redefined. "It makes me happy to make you happy," he said, our selves clasped together. What else is a definition of love?

    Now that I have started writing again, I am shocked that it has taken so long to do this again. Here are the words, the letters, the language. Tied to these men, to these memories, tied to the bare winter branches of everything I have left. It is only the middle of summer, but it feels like I have lived an entire year since January.

    The fireworks; our own thing, finally shared. The thick sulfur smoke stayed in the air, praise for our work. A grubby stranger paused in robbing a local stock yard, stripping it of metal, to watch. We laughed, argued with lighters, dashed to the illusion of safety and back again. I lightly burned part of my left hand, sparks from a short fuse. He kissed it later, unknowingly, and I felt the sting again. Electric flares, willows of light. The concussives were so large they punched holes in the air, slammed into our rib-cages, forced my mind to focus. I almost felt like I was under water, how it has been described to me, the voices stilled, as if music were playing to drown out the entire world underneath the shock of the sound of the bombs.

    They were almost bright enough, almost loud enough, almost enough, almost, almost, to get through.

    we are not always responsible for those we leave behind
    26th birthday

    We Go Forward

    I took pictures, but when will I ever see them?
    26th birthday
    My last post aside, this summer has been gloriously refreshing. I have been living out of a suitcase for near on two months. First was Seattle for a quick visit before Sasquatch, then San Francisco for two weeks, then Seattle for a week. Then I was in Vancouver for less than fourty-eight hours, long enough to sleep, do laundry, walk the length of Commercial Drive's Car-Free Day and head to the airport to sleep on a bench for my flight to Ontario early the next morning. Then I was in Waterloo, then Toronto, then Montreal, then Waterloo again. When I got back on the 3rd, I was only in Vancouver for approximately twelve hours. I refreshed my suitcase, dyed my hair, and left for Seattle again, this time for ToorCamp.

    I probably should have sublet my room.

    Sasquatch was a good little road-trip with my pal Nathan, though we were surprised to discover it was an absolute bro-fest. Beer-pong and every vowel possibility on "bro", (like "bru" and "breh"), were absolutely everywhere. One morning we woke up because someone walked by, drunk off their face, shouting, "On a scale of one to bro, you are a brah!" Even many of the women seemed to be bros. Bras? Bro-ettes, perhaps? We are not familiar with the parlance.

    I've never been to The Gorge before, nor to anywhere remotely like it. It really is a breathtaking venue. The main stage rests against a backdrop of staggering proportion, the gorge a literal slash through the earth too big to easily encompass, precisely in the right place to be framed in summer sunsets. We didn't speak with too many people, what with the persistent bro-itude, but we were there for the music and we like each other's company enough not to mind. (Nathan is pretty great, he's a bestie for a reason). We didn't find anything new that blew us away, the shows were lots of big names, like Outkast, Kid Cudi, MIA, and Die Antwood, but even the groups we'd never heard of were mostly good. Elbow was my big best, followed closely by the tUnE-YaRds and Mogwai. (The Super Geek League had a whole stage to themselves, too. Wacky Seattlites, heavy on the freak show factor. Lots of clowns and fire effects, like GWAR via the Simpsons.) My biggest surprise was that I had fun camping. No showers, bathing in a sink, snacking on questionable snacks, walking over to the festival grounds - we were always surrounded by enough people that being in a tent in the middle of nowhere didn't feel like a death sentence. It was nice.

    That which the inferno does not consume, it forges.
    26th birthday
    "When someone shows you who they are, believe them." ~ Maya Angelou

    "What are you doing, can I help?" I murmured, softly pulled from sleep by the man who was quietly getting ready to leave for work. It was the day before my birthday. He had been very careful, but the sound of a suitcase zipper had been enough to wake me. He chuckled and sat down on the hotel bed beside me, his weight creating a curve in the mattress that pulled my body to his. I gratefully curled against his broad torso like a cat to warmth in the winter. "You sweet girl," he said, "how delicious of you. I can think of a way." He reached out and stroked my hair, then leaned down and tilted my face to meet his. I was sleepy and soft. His hand was gentle on my face, as were his lips on mine. It was perfect.

    (Writing this is difficult.)

    Another hotel, another man, someone I used to love. We unexpectedly tumbled into each other years after we had last been close, a surprise coda to an awful time, and after I remarked on how strange a beast memory can be. "This." I said, pressing my hand against his shoulder for emphasis. "I remembered exactly how your hands fit with mine, the geometry of your fingers, but this, how the length of my arm is precisely the width of your shoulders when you cradle in my grasp, this I had forgotten. I still know you while I do not. It surprises me." He smiled wryly, "You're not writing about us in your head again, are you? Writers. Incorrigible." But I hadn't been. I had lost the knack when I lost my heart. Yet now I am, months and months later. My time since has opened the gate.

    (Writing that was easier.)

    Neither of these men are people I could claim as mine, but they were, just as I was theirs. How near we all are to disaster at all times. I'm starting to type this from a plane, finding comfort in the turbulence that is distressing the other passengers. To such tolerances airplanes are made! With such cleverness and scientific understanding! The wings flex even as the snout pushes forward through the air unconcerned, the shaking accounted for, the math figured. This is not how airline disasters are made. Each engineered piece interlocks to create a miraculous whole. The more we jostle, the safer I feel.

    If only it were so in relationships.

    My heart, lightly returning to me, feels haunted. I shuffle through our time together, examining every interaction and conversation like tarot cards for clues. I find nothing. He was honest in every particular, but one. His family.


    I met him on the dance-floor at a conference, completely unexpected. (The odds are good there, but the goods odd.) I wasn't certain our first few dates. I was hesitant to kiss him goodbye, hesitant to start something long-distance again, yet we found magic writing together on-line. He was well read, political, and his sharp wit inspired me. He was smart, funny, and harassed me without mercy. Eventually I point-blank asked what the catch was, "How is it that you're single?" He explained that he travels too much for work, the same problem that plagues plenty of my more interesting friends. I felt encouraged, cared for, and delighted, enough that I shelved my long-distance relationship concerns and replied, "I can live with that." "I hoped so." It was two in the morning. He got us a hotel room. We had a pillow fight. It was on.

    We were meant to have another night together for my birthday, I was going to ditch Vancouver to travel down to see him, but he had to cancel. Work scheduled him away that week. This was not unexpected, this was part of the engagement, so I told him I understood and expressed the appropriate California-envy. Fourty-eight hours later, he proposed flying me down with some of his endless air-miles. If I could find somewhere to stay after he head home to Seattle, he told me, I could stay as long as I like.

    I stumbled, but I recovered. Gladly, gratefully. And blind. I didn't know where we were staying or when I was flying out. I knew nothing. Eventually it was puzzled that my flight left on a Tuesday, but I didn't have an itinerary until 4:30 Monday morning. And that was fine. It's was trust exercise. It was fun. I was happy.

    He picked me up at the airport, checked us into a hotel in San Jose, and kissed me like I had been missing for years. Once his work-trip was done, we moved into my ex's flat in the Castro in San Francisco.

    I was smitten. I hesitate to speak for him, but he seemed equally so. He met my friends, we went on little exploratory ventures, he sang flawless, soul-shattering, classically trained opera in the shower. Everything was all splendid. He was incredible. We, together, were marvelous. We get on so well it was improbable. He was generous, kind, and effortlessly carried me up a tall flight of stairs when my ankle gave out like I was stuffed full of feathers instead of chagrin and admiration. I felt blessed and adored and adored him in turn. We didn't sleep at night. He smiled all the time. I blossomed.


    My urge to write about us is basic. I can’t not. He's not mine, but he was. And he risked his entire personal life to be. It is sad and tragic and hurts, yet I respect how much that’s worth. I want to write about everything. Honor his indisputably stupid sacrifice by capturing every moment of our time together in amber, sweetly displayed in this glass screened case as an exhibit of That Time. “This is what he risked his world for. It was not small, nor tawdry.” We felt lucky, we found joy, what we made together was satisfying and darling. Was it worth it? It's not for me to say, but I would guess no, not for him.

    He didn't betray me, but himself. The tragedy isn't mine, but his and theirs.


    He left after a week, singing so loudly out the window of the rental car that I could hear him from a block away. Even as he left, he made sure I was alright. Then I moved in with Heather for a bonus week full of good people and happenings. It was an enriching time. There were long walks through new places, a cocktail party, a rooftop BBQ, a rave in an abandoned train station, time with new friends and with people I already love. Then I flew back to Seattle for more fun and good people. I went dancing, I made new connections, I had a tai chi lesson on a roof downtown in the sunshine. Life was good. My sweetheart was in Colorado for work, but I was looking forward to seeing him the next time I could.

    Then I went for lunch with a friend who I met through the same conference, though years ago. New information. To say I was suddenly having a bad day is an understatement. We were hopeful, there was a lot of benefit of the doubt, but then the phone numbers matched. The phone number of my sweetheart and "my friend of ten years whose wife is..." Oh. Pregnant. Not with their first child.

    Our relationship was obviously not a thought out decision. Aside from the deletion of his family and claiming to be single, he didn't hide a thing. Everything else he told me checked out.


    I was in Vancouver less than 48 hours once I came back from Seattle. Time enough to put my passport in for renewal, basically, then repack and head to an airport to sleep, so I could head back east to visit Toronto and Montreal for Recon.

    My plans shivered a bit once I was out there, and I ended up spending more time than expected in Waterloo with one of my best friends, Ian, his charming wife, and two lively children. We all spent one warm night in his back yard, their daughter cuddled against my body, our feet in the pool while Ian dove and twisted like an otter through the water. We lay on our backs and watched the sky. I pointed out the International Space Station as it drifted overhead. Their daughter sighed and lay her head on my shoulder, asked about the stars as I explained constellations. His wife’s laughter was just beautiful as the heavens.

    Is this what my lover had balanced me against? This sort of home? This ease and grace and care and trust? I've never had anything so honeyed as this small slice of family. No one has ever tried to build so much with me. How divine it seemed! I wondered what my presence could have pumped through his veins. How much did his heart race? There are easier ways to find adrenaline. Lying there, surrounded by their life, I didn't feel worthy of the sacrifice. I was grateful the darkness meant that no one could see me cry.


    I was attacked the morning of my birthday on my way to the Facebook campus for lunch. Pedestrian sexual street harassment that I stood up against until he escalated too far, until I had to run. Eventually I fled along a train from car to car, concerned for my physical safety, desperately searching for a conductor while a stranger stalked after me shouting awful things, "Cunt, whore, I'm going to break you."

    He was thrown off the train, but it rattled my entire day, threw me off my stride.

    My lover salvaged even that. He arrived too late to join the hot-tub evening, I was being kicked out for the night when he came to the gate, but he was late because he’d brought a surprise. We sat at an iron table outside my friend’s apartment, (an anonymous place in a terrible suburb of anonymous buildings and fussy street security), while he produced a tub of ice-cream from a bag, then a package of candles that spelled H-A-P-P-Y B-I-R-T-H-D-A-Y, and a birthday card and a lighter.

    No one sang and I forgot to make a wish, but I felt more cared for in that gesture of grace than I had in a very long time. It was darling and sweet. "I understand it's late," he said with some satisfaction, "but we had to celebrate!"

    My distress fell away. I may have been attacked, but I was in California, swathed in adventure, and this man had sent for me, flown me down for a romantic birthday get-away, to be embraced in his care. This man, this thoughtful, considerate, and brilliant man, he liked me back. The world was unexpected, but finally benevolent. It was the best birthday I’ve ever had.


    (Have mercy on me, even knowing the truth, I do miss him.)


    Everyone else who knows is furious, but I have a lot of hope for him. For his relationship, for his family. (He’s a good communicator. I don’t know anything about her as a person, past her name, but if they’re together, I expect she must be excellent as well.) It’s going to hurt, it’s going to be hard. As it should be. I am sorry that his choices led him to test his home in this fashion, but I don't hate him, I'm not angry, and I'm not bitter. I feel for him, even. How afraid and sad he must be.

    I'm down a relationship that was gracious, compassionate, and loving, and a friend, but it was a new thing. I'm just abruptly single again. New things fail all the time. He may have lost something much greater.

    So that's that. I am disappointed, but mostly I am sorry for his partner. I've been somewhat in her position, though certainly never to such an extreme. I wonder what will happen. If it has happened before. If this will be the end of either his affair(s?) or their relationship.

    I wonder and I wait and I know, soon, we will again say hello. It took a few weeks, but he finally reached out and replied to one of my messages while I was in Toronto. I'm leaving for Seattle today for ToorCamp. He has asked to meet up to talk as soon as our schedules can allow. I gratefully said yes. He is cancelling travel in order to make it right away. We should be in the same place at the same time next week.

    I can barely wait to find out what he has to say.

    Artpost: An Interactive Thunderstorm in Your House
    26th birthday

    From multidisciplinary designer Richard Clarkson’s website:

    "The Cloud is an interactive lamp and speaker system, designed to mimic a thundercloud in both appearance and entertainment. Using motion sensors the cloud detects a user’s presence and creates a unique lightning and thunder show dictated by their movement. The system features a powerful speaker system from which the user can stream music via any Bluetooth compatible device. Using color-changing lights the cloud is able to adapt to the desired lighting color and brightness. The cloud also has alternative modes such as a nightlight and music reactive mode."

    Cloud from Richard Clarkson.

    via thisiscolossal.

    you only see the stars when they fall like rain
    26th birthday

    "Netzwerk (Falls Like Rain)" Klang Karussell from Forever.



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