When my Grandfather died, he wanted his ashes spread over the baseball diamond he played at every week of his youth. My Dad and his brothers took a cup of ashes, divided it between four baseball gloves and stood on the field awkwardly for a few minutes, not knowing what to do. One of them threw the ball to another. Ashes sprayed everywhere when the ball hit the glove, surrounding my uncle with an aureole of dust, coating his face. They all laughed and started passing the ball back and forth until the field was encased by a hazy cloud of ash. They did this joyfully, and left.
I thought this was a lovely story. My family proceeded to discuss where we'd like to spread our own ashes and how we'd like to die.
This is what my family talks about at breakfast.
I love them so much.
Recipe for a good morning.
Rolling around on the floor laughing my ass off with my little sister
Arguing with my Grandmother about socialism and unions
30 minutes on the elliptical, 30 minutes of weight and stability training
1 essay completed
2 cups of chai tea
3 hours of Rock Band
1 episode of Battlestar Galactica
Most things are very well in the world. And there will be much cake and debauchery tonight.
popping out of skin like new nipples
that sprout in sterile places
there are wires sucking life in and out of bodies,
nurses swim in bile
that fills each sealed rectangle.
faces are comedies or tragedies;
in private ways we
come to terms with the strength and
delicacy of these sacks of flesh
regulated by unsubtle chemicals
everything pushes against surfaces.
insert object, release
the prick of this needle is indifferent
to my skin pressing outwards
we must yield to these waves
and the hands that feed us fluids
where are you when I need you
my head is engaged in a trial
floating above a body that never swims
only sinks on display in this
People who tell me to smile more make me sad
When you told me not to let anxiety control my life I wanted to slap you
You won't believe me
but that was the only time I felt bitterness towards you.
Maybe that's a lie.
I don't remember.
Remember that time I fell asleep on the carpet in front of the fireplace curled up with the dog and my fingers between the pages of my book and you reading steam punk and when I woke up I looked for you immediately, startled to be alone, and you knelt down to kiss me. I was so happy.
Or that time you fucked me in your friend's shower.
The last time we had sex I was on top of you and I asked awkwardly
"did you finish"
even though I knew
and then I laughed
and you looked sad
I was always so insecure after sex
I hope whoever you're fucking now helps you forget yourself
their seams come undone and little bits of flesh drip onto the ground
they all scamper around looking for fingers and earlobes
laughing together, naked and dismembered,
trying to match parts with people
while the men stare, silently.
One man stands up and adjusts his tie, lights a cigar and smiles.
Kafka was right.
Lauren Bacall is way more bad-ass than Marilyn.
I spent the afternoon watching classic movies with my little sister. Her expectations of men will be eternally unfulfilled. She will always want to feel as happy and beautiful as Audrey Hepburn singing La Vie en Rose in Paris. Her views of what it means to be a man or a woman will be eternally fucked. I am only half-serious.
"I hate girls who giggle all the time."
I agree, darling.
These photos are by Hello Hands. Marvelous. I couldn't really pick favourites. The top one reminds me of Goldfrapp's Seventh Tree photos, very whimsical.
I am tired of portraits. I know I'm in a bad place when I have no interest in people's faces. I am interested in shapes and lines and sometimes the way bodies move, but not faces. This is unusual.
I spent the majority of my afternoon on Queen West at various beading and knitting stores, eventually spending way too much money. I returned home and spent six hours making jewelery. I am procrastinator extraordinaire.
I love this city on mild but super snowy days. Everyone is invisible and isolated. I can avoid eye contact. When people brush against me on the street or when friends hug me I feel startled. I feel like I need to protect myself from something. I am not one to avoid intimacy or contact. I don't know what is going on, I feel scared of everything.
I started having panic attacks again. I'm supposed to take more drugs now. I just want to get through this shit. I still embrace things, life is still beautiful. But right now, I feel discouraged and inadequate. Uninspired. Such things will pass.
On the bright side.
I am going back home tomorrow for my sister's 16th birthday. My weekend will [hopefully] include highly competitive games of Risk, shitloads of Rock Band 2 and drunken evenings with my excellent mother. I have no shame.
Theme songs of the day.
Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse - of Montreal.
"Chemicals don't strangle my pen."
Calling and Not Calling My Ex - Okkervil River
"My life is sweet while it's slightly disappointingly just gliding softly by."
Miss Misery - Elliott Smith
"You're not with me now, but I keep a good attitude."
My university has been on strike for the past 3 months, but it looks like this conflict will be “resolved” (aka: the concerns of the union and everything they have been fighting for will be dismissed by the government with a back-to-work legislation). The only thing holding them back is the good old NDP party. The NDP is protecting me from responsibility. So basically, the pleasure reads have been set aside and I am back to writing seminar presentations and papers.
I re-read part two of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy yesterday on the subway, the quintessential post-modern novel. Part two is called "Ghosts." This is one theory I extracted from the relationship between a private eye named Blue and the man (Black) he is commissioned to follow.
Blue first comes to Black in disguise. At this point, Blue comes to Black as Other. At this point, Blue sees Black as Other and Black sees Blue as Other. When Blue comes to Black without a disguise, he comes to Black as Subject. But when we confront another individual as Subject, our initial response is to reduce them to Other. We seek to negate their Subjecthood. So Blue goes to Black. Blue’s desire to kill Black is implied. In order to remain a Subject, he must kill that which is in opposition, that which threatens to transform him to Other. But when he confronts Black, Black seeks the same thing. They are both Subjects. There is conflict. Blue kills Black, Black is reduced to Object again; Black is negated, the conflict is neutralized. But as a result, Blue ceases to be. Because we are only Subjects when defined in relation to the Other. We only exist in opposition, in conflict with what we are not. This tension, regardless of how destructive it can be, forms a unity that affirms both individuals through conflict. When the Other is killed, Blue fades out of the picture. The story ends, because it cannot continue without this tension; we cannot exist in isolation. Individuals cannot live as islands. We cannot exist without relationship, because it makes us real. And in Auster’s world, this metaphysical fact becomes quite literal. With no other character to define himself against, Blue ceases to be.
We are all afraid of confronting the Other as Subject. Because in some way we recognize that one of us will be negated. One of us will fade a little bit; a power struggle will take place. It is no wonder relationships rarely work. We are all trying to relate to someone as Subject, yet the nature of relationship requires tension between a Self and Other. This dynamic is clarified by the observation that in most relationships, clear roles are defined. One is dominant, the other is submissive. Active/Passive. And when these roles are ambiguous, shitloads of conflict seems to ensue. It seems to me that the only relationships that really work are the ones in which this dynamic is never challenged. People who can be happy with one role or the other, which is perhaps a sort of intelligence I will never know. It is frightening to come to someone as Subject, and have the courage to accept them as Subject. It is a delicate, difficult balancing act.
My brain feels sticky and detached from my body, like a marble floating around in my head, bouncing freely and joyfully against my skull.
Illustration by Josh Cochran. This morning, I feel like that woman.
Yesterday was highly productive.
I tattooed a Spinoza quote (in Latin) on my arm. Omnis determinatio est negatio. Every determination is a negation. The script wraps around my bicep. Every time I look at it I am filled with euphoric joy. This is something I have wanted for a long time, and marks the beginning of a new time. 3 months ago I couldn't walk outside my house without having a panic attack, or ride the subway, or function like a "normal" person, whatever the fuck that means. Yesterday was the first day that I felt none of that burdensome, unconquerable anxiety, even with a fucking needle drilling into my arm. I'd like to think my happiness is not artificial, that it's not just the drugs. But that's probably a lie. The tattoo dude told me not to be nervous, and I said that everything makes me nervous. His response was "oh, you're one of those. Learn to relax." I found this ironic. I wanted to hug him for giving such simple, ignorant advice. Good vibes.
These photos (from here) remind me of Baudelaire. I only feel comfortable in this city during the night.
Chest pains from laughing too hard
Indulging in girly lust for fictional characters
Epic movies and tears shed for death
Midnight treks to 7/11 for cigarettes and taquitos
Loud insults thrown to people on the street
Messages in the snow
Old men startled by riotous laughter
Packs and packs of cigarettes.
Falling asleep in skinny jeans, naked from the waist up, with my cat purring beside my head. Running down streets and feeling perfectly at ease with and in the world.
This photo and many beautiful others belong to him.
The song "Spirit Seer" by Abandoned Ships is my latest orgasm.
William Carlos Williams' poem "Paterson" and Bonnie Prince Billy's album "The Letting Go" perfectly complement one another.
I wish I had the balls to take pictures of things I think are beautiful.
I wish I was not composed of a multitude of identities, all stacked and in conflict with one another, pressing against the skin of this chemically imbalanced body.
I wish I could cut little bits from my brain and nail them to the wall.
I wish I was a deep sea animal and I never gave you that cigarette, that one day.
These photos belong to him.
Lyrics are here.
2. I found this amazing Bukowski poem on this excellent blog. Regardless of how sentimental and/or inspirational poems normally makes me cringe, this particular poem rings very true and I will make an exception for Bukowski. Recently, I heard the term post-authentic used to describe our generation and its art. What the fuck does that even mean? I want to reclaim sentimentality. I am so tired of irony. This poem is fucking beautiful.
The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
I will now take a clonazepam and drift into a void of drug-induced relaxation. Sleep without dreams. Dreams would be too painful right now. I really miss you.
Noble Beast - Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird's lyrics are very atypical. Perhaps this has to do with his song-writing process, explained in this blog he wrote for the New York Times. The sometimes erratic lack of melodic uniformity that characterizes "Noble Beast" reinforces the familiar themes Bird continues to explore. I love his preoccupation with science and biology, the chaos and chemistry of the mind and body, our relationship to what is outside of us and the possibility for evolution. His words fit together in clever, delicate ways that remind me of mathematical equations due to their precision. The usual motifs are still present; however, this album feels like Bird traveled back in time and is coming to terms with these realities from a simpler place. The album is a bit of a throwback to pre-"The Mysterious Production of Eggs" releases; less pop, more folk. It’s good, but not spectacular. I really have to get a copy of Useless Creatures, the bonus instrumental album.
Stand-out moments, which are many, include the beginning of "Ellegy," "Oh No," the last 2.5 minutes of "Not a Robot, But a Ghost," "Unfolding Fans" and "Anonanimal." The latter is my favourite song by far.
There are still some things to be happy about.
Long-johns forgotten by ex-boyfriends and adopted by me.
Friends who bring me expensive burgers and chocolate to cheer me up on days when I have no will to leave my bed, never mind heat up a meal.
Post-gym head buzz and corresponding cigarette.
90's date movies where the girl ends up with the good guy in the end. Singing and dancing along to shitty ska music ensues.
Cats who never leave you because of a private existential crisis. I am cultivating my future persona as crazy-cat lady. Hopefully sexy-crazy.
A new song by Marissa Nadler: "River of Dirt" and a new Andrew Bird album, "Noble Beast."
Images by Zachary Rossman.
back when your face was unfamiliar
we explored bodies like streets
of new exciting cities
and turned wine into water
like private gods
we worshiped idols in secret
constructed delicate temples
not to praise but preserve
we floated above crowds
grazed each other in motion
I looked down when you turned to me
without saying a word
and caught pieces of your face
Pocahaunted: Island Diamonds
The first time I listened to this record I fell into a semi-conscious dream state. I dreamed that I was being fucked in a lake late at night by a mystery man in some sort of hallucinogenic state; I looked back at the shore and realized there were dark hooded figures watching from the beach. A pleasant dream turned [strangely] erotic nightmare. This album sounds like the soundtrack of a David Lynch film.
Top Track: Gehetto Ballet. Eerily reminiscent of the music from The Shining. This brings me great joy (...and fright. The two co-exist for me).
Read with: H.P.Lovecraft for fun times. It'll make his stories more frightening and prose more tolerable.
Grouper: Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill
Predictably bleak, multi-faceted, melancholic, textured. Whenever I listen to Grouper, I imagine floating alone in a warm ocean. Perhaps my extreme love of this record reveals a subconscious desire to return to the womb!! Oh, Freud, you bastard. This is a record of isolation and consolation.
Top Track: Heavy Water/I’d Rather Be Sleeping.
Read with: Don’t read, just sleep and smoke.
Atlas Sound: Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel
Succinctly expresses all the usual anxiety, depression and angst appropriate to artists, coupled with the fatigue that sets in when we stop romanticizing it. Simultaneously: heavily nostalgic, paralyzing, soothing and unsettling. Music for passive aggressive sadomasochists who stay indoors a lot and write poetry inspired by fragmented memories of childhood (aka: me on a bad day).
Top Track: Quarantined. “I am waiting to be changed.”
Read with: Embarrassingly naïve journal entries from early adolescence.
Valet: Naked Acid
My favourite addition to the neo-psych (bullshit?) genre. J’adore music that meanders. Look at how beautiful that picture is. I can almost feel it.
Top track: Fire
Read with: Virginia Woolf. This album is pretty much the musical equivalent of Woolf’s prose.
Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire: Lost Wisdom
Phil Elvrum. Is. [a] God. This record is incredibly short and painfully beautiful and extremely bittersweet. This, along with former Microphones release The Glow Pt.2, is a perfect break-up record. Almost on par with Elliott Smith in terms of melancholy. Sob sob. This picture is actually the cover art for Mount Eerie Pts. 6 & 7, and I love it. The photo and the record.
Top Track: You Swan Go On
Read With: Michael Ondaatje’s “The Cinnamon Peeler” or Ted Hughes’ “Birthday Letters.” Or [insert volume of poetry that deals predominantly with themes of regret, loss and nostalgia].
My introduction to neo-classical composers who create music that is minimal, delicate and incredibly beautiful.
Read With: Borges. There is a parallel structure going on. A complexity and surface minimalism coupled with a playful attitude.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the releases I loved of 2008. "Best-of" lists are bullshit. Perhaps the others will come later.
Dennis Wilson was a cool dude. He gets it. I want to be there with him, rolling around in the grass half-drunk on cheap wine. The epic beard says everything.
My current playlist.
Wild Is the Wind - Cat Power
Archaic Smile - Wye Oak
We're Both So Sorry - Mirah
Cocktails - Dennis Wilson
Dream Scream - Daniel Johnston
Who? - Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire
Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping - Grouper
I Felt Your Shape - Microphones
Umbilical - Mazzy Star
Deep Honey - Goldfrapp
I Don't Like it Like This - Radio Dept.
An Orchid - Atlas Sound
Fire - Valet
The Rainbow - Talk Talk
Double Suicide - Sandro Perri
Sleep - Mazzy Star
Re: stacks - Bon Iver
Nothing new here. My musical equivalent of a Sunday afternoon spent sipping chai tea, wrapped in a warm blanket, surrounded by cats while watching an indulgent epic film. Preferably of the romantic tragedy variety.
My head is buzzing due to excessive drugs, too many cigarettes and the smell of you still lingering in my sheets. I sense your ignorance across spaces. I can see you acting out the version of yourself you'd like others to believe in. I am jealous of everyone who can still touch you.