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26th birthday

Dreampepper

n: vb: the spice of imagination

decamping after a decade plus
26th birthday
porphyre
I'm pulling up stakes and moving over to Dreampepper. Let me know if you're still here, I'll put you on my RSS feed, and feel free to try to talk me into following the crowd to somewhere like Dreamwidth or Ello, because I still believe blogging brings us closer together than short form walled-garden posting every will.

I'm not sure how I could improve on it, so here's the Metafilter post that inspired my move:

"LiveJournal represents social media without borders."
December 30, 2016 10:48 AM   

As of a few days ago, the IP addresses for blogging service LiveJournal have moved to 81.19.74.*, a block that lookup services locate in Moscow, Russia. Now users -- especially those who do not trust the Russian government -- are leaving the platform and advising others to leave.

For years, the online blogging community LiveJournal -- popular in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine -- has served as a key communications platform for Russian dissidents (the Committee to Protect Journalists earlier this month called on Russian authorities to release a LiveJournal user who has been sentenced to 2 years in prison for a critical blog post). Even after Russian company SUP bought it from California-based Six Apart in 2007 (previously), the fact that SUP continued to run the servers in the US meant that users felt relatively safe; a 2009 press releasespecifically said that LiveJournal, Inc.* would continue to run technical operations and servers in the United States (and claimed that 5.7 million LiveJournal users were Russia-based).

December 22 support request, following a multi-hour service outage: "Since yesterday's upgrade, our work firewall is blocking you because you appear to it to be based in the Russian Federation. Have you got a Western mirror I can use?"

Tracerouting livejournal.com now points to a Moscow location and an ISP operated by Rambler Internet Holding LLC, the company that also owns SUP. (Former LiveJournal user Gary McGath says that a few days ago, he checked the IP location of livejournal.com, and it was in San Francisco.) LiveJournal's official news posts do not mention the change; users have begun to ask questions there and on their own journals.Rumors have it that LiveJournal has also begun to delete the LiveJournal accounts of some Russian-language bloggers, especially pro-Ukraine bloggers. (Twitter search, anonymous comment.) Also, users can no longer browse and read LiveJournal over an encrypted (HTTPS) connection; going to https://www.livejournal.com redirects the user to the insecure site.

Some users are switching to the competing Dreamwidth service (which is based in the US and which can import LiveJournal entries and communities); new user statistics show newbyday new user numbers spiking up from a baseline rate of hundreds of daily signups to over 87,000 new users in the last week. The Internet Archive's ArchiveTeam was already on the case, given LJ's size, historical importance, and history of controversy and apparent state of decline -- they started archiving LJ's public posts in March of this year.

* The LiveJournal, Inc. website stopped updating in 2011 and started redirecting to LiveJournal.com in 2014 (though the LiveJournal.com contact page, privacy policy in Russianand English (last updated 2014), terms of service in Russian and English (last updated 2010), and abuse policy still say that LiveJournal operates out of California and is subject to US and California law.

greeting the longest night
26th birthday
porphyre
Last week I took part in casual posse developed around the Solstice Lantern Festival held at the Roundhouse Community Center in Vancouver. I arrived after dinner, the small shows already started, and entered a hallway full of people, crowns of leaves and branches scattered through a crowd full of familiar faces. It's a small city, so we who volunteer all nodded to each other as we passed, knowing each other from other festivals, even if not by name.

Further inside the building, past the line-ups for tickets into the labyrinth, families with small children were congregating with handmade lanterns, ready to step into the cold for a walk around the block. We decided to venture inward, rather than follow them, and found a square stage dominating the center of the main room, where taiko drummers entertained the crowd.

Watching #taiko at the #Solstice Lantern #Festival.

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on




David, a friend who arrived earlier, eventually pulled us past the drummers to a door in the corner marked with a sign: Lantern Tree Grotto. Inside was dark, a chill room, a theater space, black floors and walls, lit only by a glowing paper tree in the middle of the room, "branches" thick with clusters of papier-mâché covered balloons, each one lit from the inside.




At the far end, musicians in white sat in a row, playing foreign instruments, while the rest of the floor was covered in people lying on the ground, soaking in the music. Occasionally the musicians would take their instruments into the crowd, picking their way through the prone bodies on the ground.

The #lantern tree grotto at the Solstice Lantern #Festival. #didgeridoo #performance #chill #art

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on




Curious about what else was available, we eventually left and joined one of the random line-ups in the hallway. We could see the shadow of a simple, one person circus act falling on the doors where our line began, so it seemed the most promising. Twenty minutes later, we were let into the room and discovered it had been set up for a puppet show. A small box stage was flanked by a woman in pale face paint, playing an accordion, and a regular floor lamp with cloth flowers pinned all over the shade. A man started the show with a marionette of a bird, fluttering its wings as it explored the front row of the audience, dipping its beak into offered hands.

The beginning of the marionette show at the #Solstice Lantern #Festival.

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on




Next, the man brought out the marionette of a man with fluffy white hair and magnetic hands, the head of a guitar his handle, carrying a metal bucket of paper flowers. Each flower had a twist tie stalk, so the marionette could pick them up as well as the bucket and hand them to members of the audience. When I was handed a flower, the first, I took it from his magnet with mine and tucked it into my hat, a jolly splash of yellow against the dark fuchsia felt.




Once the show was done, the puppets put away, a small girl approached the puppeteer, wondering how it had managed to interact with all of the props. He knelt down and began to say it was magic, but I interrupted, pushing my hand forward with a paper rose attached. "He's right. It's a lovely sort of magic, something that happens with puberty. It's not all bad." The puppeteer looked up at me, his face opening with warmth and surprise. I gestured with the flower attached to my finger. "I'm like your puppet," I said, then walked away, the little girl still standing there, pressing her flower against each of her fingers in turn, a look of deep concentration on her face.

Then came the festival's fire finale. Radiant Heat, dressed as foxes and raccoons, took to the sunken stage outside where the train roundhouse used to be and lit up the night.




The fire show finale of the #Solstice Lantern #Festival.

A video posted by Jhayne Faust (@foxtongue) on




The crowds dispersed after the fire show ended. Tear down began, rooms were shut down. We did not leave, though. We had bought tickets to the main event, the heart of the festival: the labyrinth, an experience best left to the end of the night.

Every year at winter solstice, one or two groups will lay out a large labyrinth, usually inside of a large, darkened gym, lined with beeswax candles in paper bags. Soothing music is played and people are let in, a handful at a time, to walk the path. It is a gentle experience, warm and inviting. The one we attended did not allow recording or speech while inside the labyrinth and had a young man urgently whisper these instructions to each participant before they were allowed to walk. It was an awkward way to begin, but amusing. ("Here are the rules to this particular incarnation of a semi-spiritual experience that you are meant to interpret as you will." Sure, kid. Thank you for embodying so much about what I dislike about the wet coast.)







Tags:

AS TRADITION DICTATES
26th birthday
porphyre
The annual viewing of RARE EXPORTS, INC and RARE EXPORTS: THE SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS.

For bonus points, I hosted a massive orphan's christmas dinner on the 25th and subjected an entire room of fresh eyes to these and the full length feature of the same name.


Rare Exports Inc. (2003) from Woodpecker Film.




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


Do you need a portrait? Reaching out the the relief efforts in Syria.
26th birthday
porphyre

I'm donating half of the proceeds from Lensflower, my photography business, to the relief efforts in Aleppo for the next month.





White Helmets: Volunteer group saves Syrian bomb survivors




my worst chanukkah
misery
porphyre
A memory. A holiday dinner. A Jewish thing on the edge of the country with a family I can't seem to like. I am here with the eldest son, my employer, a shallow, suburban creature who, when he speaks in glowing colours about his ex-girlfriend, repeats how she stayed a size zero, because she knew he likes girls small. He is certain that everyone loves him, that he can read anyone. "Just part of being a businessman," he says. He makes me increasingly uncomfortable. The more I learn about the relationship, the more it sounds toxic and mutually abusive. She left him right before they were to be married, cheated then fled, leaving behind the only life she'd ever known. Even though I am new to this group, still tentative, and her actions seem extreme, it never occurs to me to think she made the wrong decision. I know, rather, at the edge of my own understanding, deep and dark, that I should follow her. Distance myself from these people and this place.

The younger brother works for a large American multinational. Clever, he works on their kernel team, a job for life, specialized in a way that feels nearly impossible for a human to endure. On the surface, he seems fine, but he, too, is unkind to his partner, a woman who seems to love him very deeply. I don't know her well, but it seems she might do well to step away, much like the aforementioned ex-girlfriend. They fight often behind closed doors, voices rising. He doesn't know how to connect, so he tries tricks from the dog training manual. Coldness, harshness, attempts at alpha supremacy.

The dinner is awkward, with coils of tension wrapped tight like springs, ready to suddenly unwind and blind someone. I learn that the brothers may have inherited their uncomfortable emotional outbursts from their parents, who humble-brag about volunteer hours spent working to "save" battered women, but then damn my mother for being one when I bring up my childhood while thanking them for their hard work. "How dare she keep children in that situation! I'm so sorry for you, she must be a horrible person." I am shocked and say so. I am told that they will accept my apology for being a rude guest, as it must not be my fault, given that I was raised by such a contemptible mother. I do not apologize. The subject is changed.

The only person there I feel I can speak to is his grandmother, as her prejudices are expected and I know how to deflect them. She is an antique, however, and detached from her era. Her conversation meanders, jumping from year to year, as her focus wavers. I've never met anyone quite like her, but his grandmother still feels like she's been standardized, traits pulled from a pamphlet about age and fading bodies. "The slightly racist old lady: Option III". Her make-up is a billboard advertising her deteriorating motor skills, eye-liner applied as if with a crayon, lipstick approaching an event horizon, and her wig, a klaxon blaring, crooked and slightly terrifying. I wonder what she was like before, as she seems nice, as if what I was looking at wasn't representative, but sunlight filtered through too many years.

During dessert, when an aunt and uncle started singing and I start bringing dishes into the kitchen, someone decides to tease me for being "such a good little woman". It is made very clear that the man who brought me told his family that he was bringing his girlfriend to dinner. Shock again, but this time I stay quiet, lacking a script. There is a chance that I will be fired if I contradict this.

My own relatives don't keep close, but nor do they pretend to. There are no public facades, flawless or otherwise, no pretense to an external whole. Perhaps I am missing out, not having a family structure, but this, I think, surely must be worse.

I want to leave so badly, be anywhere else. Shrinking into myself, I look around the table, quiet and concerned. No one else seems to think the bickering is abnormal or the shouting downstairs is out of place. They are acclimated to their fractured, strange reflections of familial bonds, unhealthy though they are, and blind to their own internal misfires. How do they manage to be so stubbornly insular in such an interconnected world? I do not ask. It does not seem the place.

Later, as I am driven home, I am admonished for upsetting his parents.

muscles & glitter
26th birthday
porphyre
Chrystalene Chrystalene side plank


I just updated Lensflower.com with a new post: Muscles & Glitter. My friend Chrystalene started hitting the gym this year and part of her program asks that participants take Before and After pictures, preferably by a professional photographer, in order, I suspect, to encourage participants to take it more seriously.

There’s a lot of social pressure for women to stay weak, myths about bulking up and being less feminine, as if having strong muscles cancels out beauty, rather than enhances it. She and I are more modern and believe, quite strongly, that type of thinking is rubbish. So, rather than take the usual sort of fitness photos, where the focus of the portraits are hard, oiled muscles, back-lit and knife edged, she wanted something fiercer, more feminine. Nevermind smiling, sweaty looking jogging shots or virtue signalling like mad with work-out clothes (yet without a hair out of place), it was going to be full of glitter and pizzazz.

So here she is, glamourous and gorgeous, flexing her muscles for feminism.

And, as most of the time lately when I take a picture, I'm pleased with the result. I haven't been creating much lately, so it's reassuring when I like what I do.

Also, this shoot may have produced my new favourite review, "It's a rare photographer who will get half naked just to make you feel comfortable being half naked."

 

Saw a great slide recently, "Privilege: The human version of "works on my machine"."
26th birthday
porphyre

Learning by Sarawut Intarob on 500px.com
Learning, by Sarawut Intarob


The American elections continue, with reactionaries on the left and right, worse on the right. Everyone has fallen on the right, except for Trump, who runs on a campaign of divisiveness and scapegoating. The educated, the ones with options, don't seem to understand why he's still around, still a force. The language he uses in "debates" consistently register at the fourth grade level, the "solutions" he offers are the equivalent of trying to fix a broken garburator by hitting it with a hammer. How can this man, who seems like a parody of himself, like a satirical rendition of a concept too awful to look straight in the face, be relevant? But that seems the crux of it; options. It's easy, when you have them, to be blind to the desperation of those who don't.

You can convince yourself anything is fine if you don't think you have any other options.

And America's narrative of money and power? It's fading, and failing, and sad. Even the tech bubble seems to be slowly deflating. Meanwhile, headlines are painting a larger, bleaker picture. "World's carbon dioxide concentration teetering on the point of no return; future in which global concentration of CO2 is permanently above 400 parts per million looms."

Yet this is the same world in which Google’s AI is writing post-modern poetry, there is less crime than ever known, and extraordinary art is being created everywhere people go. The world which provided the above photo, which I find tirelessly inspiring. It displays a glimpse of the world I want, a mix of contrasts, varied and rich in experience, with education and tools for all and everyone, no matter their circumstances. Education, tools, and options.

So, wild ones, when you try to talk with those who hold opposing viewpoints, especially those who accept the scapegoat as truth, maybe point them over here: It's Okay To Be Gray, by GlitchedPuppet and Siderea's three part explanation and take-down of what's going on with Trump's campaign, which I consider essential and file unequivocally under REQUIRED READING - The Two Moral Modes: Part One, The Two Moral Modes: Part Two, The Two Moral Modes: Part Three.

affirmations ("for your trials and tribulations") -::- I am looking forward to it with some relief.
26th birthday
porphyre

The Life of Death from Marsha Onderstijn.



More travel approaches. Nevada. California. Festivals of thought and music. The desert. The rich. The coast. More of the rich, though a slightly different kind. Lights. Action. Arduino. An experience in a large dark room underground, the entry the same as the cost of a plane ticket.

Tomorrow I'm going on an in-depth, insiders tour of the TRIUMF Accelerator Laboratory, Canada's national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics and accelerator-based science, to learn how to use the world's largest cyclotron.

Later, by a week, I'll be at Future Forward, a Burning Man spin-off for the one percent run by Robot Heart. A double-date just outside one the most artificial city in North America. Google's Eric Schmidt is the keynote speaker. Darren Aronofsky will be wandering around with a camera. I will recognize no one, both a weakness and a strength.

I write this while streaming Coachella live, a private concert projected onto a wall, Underworld and M83 and LCD Soundsystem, five feet tall and eight and a half feet wide. I write this while the man on screen singing is the same man who held the door for me at Michael's funeral. How small, the world.

Later in May, I'm going to San Francisco for my birthday again, bracketed by Maker Faire. (I have never been.) There are secret plans afoot and a place to stay for ten days. The secret society is gone, but there will still be a party. I will still find my way.

Joining the world of missing persons and she was.
26th birthday
porphyre
The Darker Sooner
by Catherine Wing

Then came the darker sooner,
came the later lower.
We were no longer a sweeter-here
happily-ever-after. We were after ever.
We were farther and further.
More was the word we used for harder.
Lost was our standard-bearer.
Our gods were fallen faster,
and fallen larger.
The day was duller, duller
was disaster. Our charge was error.
Instead of leader we had louder,
instead of lover, never. And over this river
broke the winter’s black weather.

-::-

Work pulls me onto trains, lately. Seat upon seat, row upon row, the windows looking out onto the same dark green trees and slate gray ocean that I've grown to associate with my own failure to find colour and light. These trips, short and small as they are, would have been special, would have been seen as stepping stones, but there has been little, since Michael died, that inspires, that cradles me or helps me feel alive. I am thankful that the places I've been going have community; cleverness and kindness meshed together, a basket to land within that protects me from hitting the ground.

I made a new friend through work, one of my on-going contracts as a copy-editor for a group of Information Security professionals. He lives far away and we don't talk often, but when we do, we have the sort of personal, political, and philosophical discussions that I always imagined friends must converse about deep into the night, sitting on hypothetical porches with bottles of wine or in imaginary living rooms flickering with candlelight, post dinner-party or house-party. Maybe there's a cat, the furniture is well loved, and discoveries are being made, bridges are being raised, and beliefs and opinions are being forged, tested, and reforged.

I use "hypothetical" and "imaginary" because I don't know how to find myself in such cozy situations, (though I crave them more than most things). Like many things, I only know they're real because I've been told about them and seen them at a distance or through the lens of media. That said, I still like it when I find its echo on-line and it's been good to have again, as it's something I've been missing for a number of years, since defeat took me and my capacity to reach out diminished (as is easily mapped by the decline of this journal).

He has me reading books I would have skimmed over, summaries of Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell. They haven't pulled at me yet, there's been no internal tug of recognition, but I appreciate the gentle push into new directions. I haven't had the focus for entire books lately, so I spend my reading time on-line now, following the news instead, like the Panama Paper leaks or the horror show that's passing for the Republican primaries. Topics: Science, privacy, human rights, politics.

I miss art and design, but I've misplaced those impulses too. They're somewhere in my history, but not my present, along with my languishing photography backlog, my lost animation reels, finding new music and singing along, dancing, movement, creation. Agency, desire, grace. The spark.

pass the popcorn
26th birthday
porphyre

Hominid from Brian Andrews.


Hominid is an animated teaser based on the Hominid series of photo composites by Brian Andrews, described as "photo composites made from human and veterinary images".

-::-

A weekly movie night has sprung up in the homeless-yet-have-a-place dichotomy I've been inhabiting. Challenging films, insistent and smart, things I haven't seen before, but have dearly wanted to. An exquisite corpse of connections from week to week.

It started with Fassbinder's Macbeth, a faithful and brutal retelling of Shakespeare drenched in colour, shouting, and death, then moved to Far Side of the Moon, written, directed, produced, designed, and starring Robert LePage. Based on his visually striking theater production of the same name, he plays two Quebecois brothers awash in tides of their mother's recent death, set in the context of the USSR-United States Space Race of the 1960s.

The loss of a parent, the small kingdom of the stage, brothers, strife. Small threads, alike in dignity.

LePage is known in Canada as a national treasure, the intellectual French-Canadian prince of visual delights. The transitions in his films are especially beautiful, as the round door of a coin laundry becomes the port of a space capsule or the green screen background of a weather channel becomes the wall of someone's apartment. They are playful and unexpected, much like the films of Michel Gondry, the French-Parisian master of surprise and whimsy, who directed the next choice, Mood Indigo.

Based on a book written in 1947 and set in a blur between an imaginative retro-future of when the book was written and the modern day, it concerns a joyful couple who meet, fall in love, and marry, but the wife, played by Audrey Tatou, falls ill with a flower in her lung. What was bright, grows dark.

Next, pivoting on the love story, the toxic flower, the here and now, we showed Upstream Color, written, directed, produced, edited, composed, designed, cast by and starring Shane Carruth, the man responsible for Primer, which details the path of a man and a woman who fall in love after being poisoned by a parasite from a specific flower. From darkness, comes light.

It ends with an unconventional family, isolated in the country, like the subjects of Dogtooth, a Greek film by Yorgos Lanthimos we're showing this week.

artpost: Monochromatic (the precious unconscious). Did each get a name when finally born?
sci-fi kitchen
porphyre
Excerpted photos from 1931-1955, Doll Factories

via Mashable, via Retronaut.



Jan. 28, 1949. A worker trims the eyelashes on a pair of doll's eyes.


Dec. 15, 1951. Freshly cast doll legs dry at a factory in England.


c. 1950


1947. Freshly cast doll heads wait to dry.

artpost: flight, the way they move together
geigerteller
porphyre

Ascension, by Jacob Sutton, featuring ballet dancers Hannah O’Neill and Germain Louvet


"This September marks the launch of the Paris National Opera’s Third Stage. While the Palais Garnier and the Opéra Bastille are, of course, world renowned sites of cultural and architectural interest, this particular 'scène' is not a stage in the physical sense, but exists in the rather less tangible online realm.

Launching from the Opera’s website, which has recently been treated to a slick overhaul, the digital platform will feature a mix of mediums including the work of film makers, choreographers, visual artists, directors and writers. Third Stage will also allow ballet and opera aficionados from all over the world to delve into an exceptional set of archives, created in partnership with the INA (French National Audiovisual Institute).

One of the original films currently being featured on the site, and exclusively on Telegraph Luxury, is Jacob Sutton’s Ascension, which showcases the spectacular architecture of the Opera Bastille and the Palais Garnier, as well as the breath-taking skills of ballet dancers Hannah O’Neill and Germain Louvet. A contrast of behind-the-scenes and front of house, the film flits back and forth between shots of the dancers below stage at the Opera Bastille, dressed in black to match their sombre, industrial surroundings, and in the glittering golden foyer clothed in softer pastel shades and bathed in light."

Posted from an intercity train in Britain
26th birthday
porphyre
A Life Of Break-Ups
by Ioana Cristina Casapu

I have gotten used to saying goodbye
But to travel light
Can be heavier than it seems
You always sell your stuff
Free your stuff
Give away that pair of shoes
Pass over this set of plates
And voila,
Your life fits again in only three boxes.
I have gotten used to saying farewell
I will see you again
Someday
Kiss all the bridges and gates for me
Forget me not;
Gotten used to keeping my mind alert
My baggage easy
And my memories inside my iPhone
To telling myself
The eye has to travel
So that my stories can unravel
But sometimes distance kills the best of intentions
Sometimes the home you find
Is different than the home you dreamt of
I like airports when it’s sunny
They remind me of summer
Serendipity
A life looked from afar
The promise that the Earth is round
And the hope that distance
Is only jet lag
Before coming back.

Selenium is sick
26th birthday
porphyre

TV On The Radio - Trouble

"All of this borrowed time, it's running out. It's the ending of the show."


Selenium, our beautiful one-eyed pirate ferret who had the dreadful kind of exciting year, has just been diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma. This is, unfortunately, a death sentence. There is no cure or reasonable treatment. We are uncertain how much longer she has, the prognosis for aggressive lymphoma in young ferrets is dire, but as it is rare, there is less information on it. It might be that she will not survive until January, though David has been giving her the very best possible care and inventing new recipes for soft food that have been successfully coaxing her into eating, or she might survive it until spring. We just don't know. But please, if you have a moment, if you can reach out to David and offer any kind of help or support, it would be dearly appreciated. There is only so much I can do from England.

This has all been very entertaining to the people around me
26th birthday
porphyre
  • What Marie Antoinette really wore.

    According to Duolingo, the language learning site, I am now at 18% of French fluency and learning at Level 5. This means I have successfully tested through two sets of basic lessons, a set of phrases, ("D'accord, à plus tard!"), and some vocabulary words that name types of animals and food. I have also learned the word "elision" and the word "enchaînement", both of which are ostensibly English, as a side effect of puzzling my way through French's seemingly illogical rules.

    This is, very possibly, more French than I have consciously ever known in my life.

    Canadians are supposed to be taught French in school, but I emerged from the education system with almost none. Until my first year of high-school French, (which I promptly flunked, as I lacked the foundation of kindergarten through seven that Grade 8 French expected to build upon), my only experience with French was when I was briefly put into preschool in Quebec, with teachers who refused to believe I only knew English because "she seems to understand The Smurfs just fine."

    Though it always chafed that I only learned one language as a child, I have never had cause to try to learn French before. (Spanish has been my second language of choice. See: Growing up next to the United States.) Why would I? French fights me every step. The genders seem arbitrary, the conjugations absurd, and the pronunciation and the elisions downright hostile. Learning to roll the "r" in the back of the throat was as easy as coughing up blood. That French seemed impossible had the strength of prophecy. Even when I lived in Montreal, I got by on what I have dubbed "restaurant French": a musical pidgin of borrowed phrases, body language, and snatches of pop songs that can be used to successfully order food, maneuver from point A to point B, and request assistance when I inevitably smack against the language barrier.

    My upbringing has given me one slight advantage, however, as French is printed on absolutely everything in Canada. It didn't occur to me before, but I have been learning by osmosis, unconsciously absorbing vocabulary from my surroundings for thirty years. The result of which is that — though my spelling is atrocious and half of the mangled words erupting painfully from my mouth are misgendered — even if I murder the language when I attempt to speak it, I can mostly read it.

    Not that it makes much sense, anyway. Shark, for example, is requin. Aside from being an absolute bitch to pronounce, it doesn't even sound right. The word shark chops the air. It ends abruptly. It carries the speed and sleek movement of the animal. Requin rolls across the tongue, smooth, it is not sharp and fast as shark, ending as it does on that spiky K, reminiscent of a knife-like tail. I don't understand it at all. Requin sounds like it should be part of a dish, something to eat. Cassolette de homard et poireaux avec requin maybe. Something with cheese. Sorry, avec fromage.

    And oiseau for bird? Was it behind a post when consonants were being handed out? Is this the French onomatopoetic for the liquid tone of a whistle? (Not that "tweet" particularly sounds accurate, either, but at least it has a good balance of vowels.) Either way, it's also worth noting that this majestic cluster of vowel-a-riffic phonemes is apparently pronounced not entirely unlike wazoo. A language chosen for beauty, indeed!



    My flight from Heathrow to Montreal leaves Friday at noon, arrives in DC at 3:30 PM, leaves again around 5:00 PM, and then lands, finally, in Montreal at 7:00 PM, half an hour before Alexandre arrives.

  • artpost: autumn
    26th birthday
    porphyre


    "Sad Tea Time" by Michelle Wiktoria (digital, 2015)

    something new to learn on piano [bravery takes many shapes]
    26th birthday
    porphyre

    the bird and the bee - polite dance song, directed by Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric.

    [...] Since I'm asking so nice
    Would you just entertain
    There's nothing left to hide you away
    Just show a little bit of brain

    Yes that is what I mean
    That's the nail that I hit
    I try to be as coy as I can
    But I wanna see your naughty bit [...]


    -::-


    We fall asleep facing our laptops; two beds, eight hours away. I have practice at this, at living far away, at being untouchable, unreachable, lonely yet loved.

    The first person I had such a thing with lives here in England. He's the reason I have the eight hour time difference from Vancouver to London permanently memorized. Our correspondence set the foundation for this place. Years of it, years of talking late at night, of mornings together, of chats and distance. There are hundreds of letters from him in my folders. Hundreds of pictures. He kept me writing, coaxed me into taking pictures. In many ways, he changed me from writing to being a writer, kicked it off, back when this journal was almost new. Back when I believed people who said nice things to me.

    I was only a few years older when he hurt me, sliced his way through my center, sliced until I bled, and worse, then put me in a book full of sex that opened yet another crooked little vein. (This starts the part that's never been public). Perhaps it was meant as a surprise? A surprise like the awful things I found out about him, how he used people; a surprise that sent everything sour.

    With the open eyes of an adult, I can see that I was prey, but it took many emotional years, and many, many others to come forward with similar admissions. Women in pain have reached out to me from New York, London, San Francisco, Berlin, Toronto... We're in so many places! There's so many of us we might need a name. I collect them, now, his talented discarded. We are a small network, but we've started keeping track of the others and making friends. He has excellent taste.

    I never asked him why I had a starring role in his first book, our relationship was already critically wounded and we had almost bled out by the time it was published. Was I the first? It seems too unlikely to be true, even though it's what he said at the time. I've also never asked the other woman named in the novel if she had been consulted or what her place in the mess might be. Her name was easier to spot, the public attention must have been massive. (A mutual friend told me that she wasn't, so I've filed her under "One Of Us (potential)" and crossed my fingers that she's been okay.)

    But I have been considering it lately. Now that I'm living just outside London, I'm only an hour's drive away from his house. Two if I take transit, not even as long as a film. (Closure is such a pretty word. Sound it out! It's beautiful.) Maybe I should reach out to her, the way the others have reached out to me. Break the silence, try not to fumble, and then, perhaps, ask him for tea.

    It has been a long time, but I'll bet his phone number is the same.

    artpost: the incredible lightness of being anthropomorphized
    26th birthday
    porphyre

    EXIT AT UNION SQUARE, by Matthew Grabelsky. Oil on Panel, 16 x 20 in., 41 x 51 cm.

    tripping the wire fantastic
    geigerteller
    porphyre
  • Flight Facilities - Clair De Lune feat. Christine Hoberg

    I haven't any culture shock yet, though 7,547.76 km lay between my last home and this one (as the crow flies); the only thing I haven't effortlessly taken in stride is the quality of the light. Namely, the unanticipated lack of it.

    I sat in a pub, plate full of lamb and vegetable mash on the table, one of my longest friendships across the table, the city outside drained of colour, all neon and reflected halogen, the shine of artificial lights on wet pavement, sky suddenly black, and felt we were a peculiar form of vampire. (No wonder this place is so thick with myths.)

    England is North. Very North. More North than I had weighed in my mind. On some level, I understood London (51°30′N) to be around the latitudinal level of Edmonton (53°32′N), but I did not truly internalize what that would do to the sun. When it shines, appearing as it does around 7 am or so, it is weak and watery and near the horizon and glares in your eyes when you face South with a peculiar orange gold. The blaze of noon does not exist, even on the most crisp of blue sky autumn days, and it is full dark by 4 pm, despite the solstice being a month away.

    -::-


    The only other thing I speculate that I will have to consciously adapt to is the level of current that runs through the local wires. Don't mistake me, I've already bought the appropriate cord for my laptop and have adapters for the rest of my electronics. It is a matter of transhumanism, purely.

    The voltage here is so much higher than I find myself fighting the desire to flinch every time I need to interact with a power outlet.

    For the uninitiated, the sensation electricity creates to those with implanted neodymium magnets is that of a danger reflex, which I have been finding unexpected, but seem to share with others. For example, the magnet in my hand vibrates when I reach for my electric toothbrush, sitting as it does next to an active socket, and loudly signals risk, peril, stop, don't! And Divide told me of something similar, that he found himself reflexively curling his hand behind his back in a protective gesture when he was in the power room at ALTspace in Seattle. (For bonus points: My generation of neodymium implant is several orders of magnitude more powerful than his, too). It's uncomfortable and profoundly provokes a very physical sense of unease. None of us flinch away from other magnets, though, even those of the opposite polarity. In my experience, only high voltage stimulates the warning. Has anyone found an explanation? Why are some of the signals interpreted as dangerous, while some are not? I haven't reached out to others about it yet.

    While the incision has been mending very nicely, I remain inquisitive about the process as my body continues to adapt and naturalize the embedded magnet. It doesn't appear to be rejecting, the area isn't sore, and it's unlikely it will scar, but there is one last thing I'm finding very curious. My magnet has moved a significant distance since it was implanted. It is not in the tip of my finger anymore, but halfway down the first joint, an entire centimeter from where it had been placed.

    It's conceivable this happened when I foolishly caught the handle of a falling basket full of groceries with that finger a few weeks ago, back in Canada. (Other stupid things I have caught from the air without thinking: knives, scissors, sewing needles, a red hot piece of nearly molten metal, broken glass, a wild mouse. I am not a clever ninja.) The pain of it, though not sharp, brought me literally to my knees. At the time, I chalked it up to the freshness of the surgery, but presumably the impact shoved the magnet underneath the fat pad, along the surface of the muscles of my finger, to where it is today.

    I can't think of why else it would have migrated. The soft impacts of typing, though daily, are mostly absorbed by my long fingernails and I've never heard of anyone else having their magnet move, except when the earlier generation (and flatter) ones would flip or were rejected from the body and migrated to the surface like a metal splinter. The technology is relatively recent, (my friend Todd was the first to be implanted in 2004), and still very gray-market/DIY, so I don't know if there's an exact science to the fingertip placement yet, which creates the question: Should I move it back or leave it?

    Either way, whether this is an ordinary thing for an implanted object to do in a finger or if the movement is due to banging it, I'm paying more attention to it than I otherwise would have, not because I'm worried, but because I don't want reason to be. And, seriously, the voltage here. Sheesh.

  • Landing in London
    26th birthday
    porphyre

    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
    porphyre
    "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
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre

    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
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre
    Untitled

    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.

    Untitled

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

    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
    porphyre

    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
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre


    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.

    Tags:

    I can feel the devil walking next to me
    tripwire
    porphyre
    READING PLATO by Rick Barot

    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
    geigerteller
    porphyre
    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."
    misery
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre
    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
    porphyre

    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
    porphyre
    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
    misery
    porphyre
    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.

    http://109645790437692847650.com

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

    my only christmas tradition: rare exports and the official safety instructions
    26th birthday
    porphyre
    "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
    porphyre
    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.