"The state of being no longer used or practiced."
Can you please just do the simplest thing? No need to dress it up with confusion, he said.
She thought, Why can’t he see me. Why does he think I am so incapable. And then she remembered she was not beautiful any more and the successful career she once had had faded away, forfeited to raise her child, relegated to second place. She remembered that she must look at herself with his eyes, and from his point of view, and from there, she was nothing — neither sexually desirable nor powerful — and as such he imagined she was incapable of accomplishing the smallest of acts.
He reprimanded her as if she were a child. His attitude, the way he tilted his chin up, looked down his nose, sat with steely confidence. He didn’t intend to belittle her; it wasn’t conscious. He didn’t need to have any thoughts about her. He had the advantage. He was a man and he was her boss. They were the same age, and one could even argue that their life experiences were equal, neither one superior to the other, though his life garnered accolades and money, while hers were accomplishments of generosity and caring, valueless in monetary terms, in life terms acts simply expected of a woman.
She slouched slightly. In her youth, she was boldly beautiful, striking it was said, and always fearless in front of men, but that was gone now. Her eyelids and chin had softened and fallen. Her skin was thin and showed the color of her blood below, bags hung under her eyes, puffy and lined. Her hair had grayed. It was the same of him but his wrinkles and gray hairs added distinction, his virility was unquestioned. In fact, he had a second wife, much younger than his first. He had an uninterrupted career, flourishing, and the admiration his peers.
Her gaze drifted along the blond wood conference table up his narrow chest and shoulders to his face, smug in its sense of dismay with what he perceived as her deficiencies. She focused on the window at his back, the view of high rises, a cruise ship, water below, the potted plant of heather on the balcony. The heather looked dead but it would come back to life in a few months, purple would dance over its dark branches and reach toward a distant sun.
A gentle rain fell outside.
Are you listening to me?
Strangely a large bee, perhaps the queen, flew over the balcony’s stone railing and circled the twisted, brittle heather branches. It circled twice then flew rapidly toward the window. The woman started when it hit the glass, afraid for its life. But it kept circling the heather, and smashing into the glass.
What is going on? asked the man sternly. An ugly frown spread across his face like he’d swallowed cat food.
The bee, she said. Look at the bee. He grumbled, and didn’t turn.
She took the glass of water she brought for herself when she got one for him, and turned the glass in her hand. Bastard, she thought. Horrible man.
She picked up the glass and hurled the water at his face. It splashed across his frown, down his expensive clothes. She walked to the balcony door, walked the length of the balcony to the heather plant, gently grasp the bee in her hand and they flew away.
I love the way the seagulls line up for the sun.
Whole is to whole as each part is to each part.
WHAT? YOU’RE IN MY PLACE, YOU BIG-BRAINED PIG.
I am the only one here now, the loud Americans, who strolled fleetingly, are leaving. The sun hits my back, the birds face the sun and me. One is crying, a young female. She must be hungry or in pain. The others try to ignore her, move away. They tuck their heads in their feathers. A little nap.
It seems to be possible for someone to possess virtue while being asleep.
MOVE. IT’S MY CHAIR.
One has gone into the ocean, bobbing like a rubber ducky, joined by a lone, blond woman who swims slowly parallel to the shoreline. The boisterous family’s conversation has faded into the hum of a seaplane.
These men, they crowd my brain with their ideas. Like dominant chimps, trumpeting. I would like to take the stones on the sea floor, the ones that lead down a path to understanding, the ones they laid, and skip them along the shoreline into the trees and shrubs, wild like hummingbirds, and hurl them into the air as balloons, to watch the helium expand and pop.
For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day.
PAGE117, 25 TEXTS SENT IN LAST HOUR.
The happy person is a sort of chameleon and on unsound footing.
The birds are scattering to other early mourning beach visitors, perching on logs. They want snacks.
…one cannot do well for oneself in the absence of household management.
The sun rises higher above the trees in Stanley Park. Baulking crows chase an eagle. Day spreads like dirty butter across the sand.
Chameleon light shifts over the undulating granular surface. Unsound thoughts, unsound footing, unsound. The bird near me, the only one left, the whiner, is no longer whining, but is still restless. Earlier, she was pulling at a feather stuck in the sand and I thought maybe she is just the dumbest of all the birds. But now I see there is some connection between her and the feather. She remains near it, steadfast.
But it is difficult sometimes to decide what sort of thing one ought to choose in return for what.
A cloud passes over and goosebumps and a shiver scratch my skin and spine. A woman arrives with her dog and says to the dog, ‘Go get them. Go get the birds.” The whiner flies away with all the others, reluctantly leaving the feather.
Time to go. MOVE OVER.
For happiness is in need of nothing but is self-sufficient.
Some nights, I wake in a sweat that turns to dread like blood changing blue to red when it touches air. It has subsided of late though it recurs in non-chartable intervals. It is, I believe, part of who I am. If there are things deeply frightening and disturbing, if there is pain and loss, if regrets about the past and anxieties about the future bubble up, it all reflects deeply human feelings, or so I tell myself. I ride the waves, knowing there is no choice in the matter. And I try not to criticize myself too harshly for this fear, or to internalize my confusion and sensitivities as weakness. I prefer to rationalize my insomnia with the belief that others, many in fact, suffer similar night fears, that they, too, suffer in their recognition that the world is difficult, perhaps not meant for our minds. But that’s not what I mean to write about. I write because of a quote by Charles Resnikoff:
“The fingers of your thoughts are molding your face ceaselessly.”
I remember being touched in a way that loosened all those tiny bones conjoining behind the skin of my face. I remember the feeling of release, the enlarging of my senses as my face relaxed and breathed into those bones. I remember being touched. At night when I wake, my jaw is clinched, the muscles in my neck taut. I imagine my face looks like a prune, pinched and wrinkled with tension. My lips are pursed and I can feel the small crevices around them growing deeper. My heart seizes with loss. Again loss. Racing over the dead who I loved, racing over the friends I have left, racing over the loves gone, racing over the security granted to me by education and profession that has floated away like a petal in the ocean. I think, too, of my beauty, now fading into intricate lines and sags, soft flesh and fatty places, into stiff muscle and dissolving bone. Loss circles over me, the moth tapping at my head, batting it’s wings over my face, creating a humming sound as it whirls near and away and returns again. Circles. Loss. Circles. I want to hold and soothe myself like a mother to her child. I say — “it is all fine. It is worse at this hour than in the daylight. Your life is good. You are safe. You are healthy. You are not alone.” But I don’t believe.
I remember being touched, and I take my fingertips to the top of my eyebrows and hold them there until heat rises. My fingers spread gently. The tiny bones move and relax. And I move to my temples and along the side of my face. Then below my eyes, pulling gently outward, touching lightly. And down my cheeks to my jaw where it meets my ears. I move the heat to the back of my neck. I pull my ears gently. Resetting my face, releasing it’s pain. It’s longing.
With shut eyes, I look into the infinity of darkness and see circles, but now they make sense and so do I.
I want to die after you.
I want to die after you die. I want to outlive you.
That’s a weird thing to say. Why would you say that?
They had been watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix. It was cold in Vancouver, a wind hitting the window above their heads. They were lying on the matted carpet by the gas fireplace. The fire was on. The computer was off. Pillows were pushed behind their heads.
Because I want to outlive you.
This is all theoretical to you. It’s weird and I don’t like it. I don’t think death is real to you. You just say stuff but you don’t know what you are talking about. You don’t know about death.
I think about it all the time. But whatever.
Why would you say this? It’s so upsetting to me.
He turns toward her. He’s like a bear, thick, soft in places and strong. He hugs her and she relaxes a little.
Okay, Tell me why then.
Because I don’t want you to have to go through another loss. That’s all.
Wow. Okay. I’ll die first.
Before she left home and caught the #23 bus, Clare took out a black pen, ripped a piece of paper from her notebook and tore it into a small rectangular shape, the size of a matchbook. She carefully wrote “w i s d o m” in capital letters. She folded it in half, causing the W to smear against the M, put the paper in her pocket and headed out into the sunny, fall day, so mild she needed only a light jacket. She was deliberately walking away from the flow of the day, shattering it in two, to go to the forest.
Once off the bus, she moved down the trail into the dense green. The forest seemed to be breathing - inhale deep, exhale soft. She took her hand from her pocket. The paper caught on her finger and fell to the spongy ground where it came to rest between a rock and tree. The little word looked heavy on the ground, and when she walked over to it, she tripped and blamed the word. She kicked at it with her boot, trying to lift it by digging her shoe under the soil like she would if she were kicking a soccer ball, but it was dead weight. She wondered how a word could be so heavy. But it was not the word, it was her. She slowly and stiffly leaned down to pick it up.
The size of the fortune in a cookie, the paper rested in her wrinkled, thin-skinned, mulit-coloured palm. Could it fly, she wondered, and pursing her dry lips, she blew. The word took flight, fluttering low to the ground where it picked up a green reflection on it’s whiteness. It reminded her of the luna moth as it dropped gently into a small, delicate, yellow flower, smaller than the paper, and balanced precariously on the petals, dangling over the edges. Clare bent as low as she could, her back ached, and blew again. Up, up it flew, and Clare thought, ‘Oh no, it’s leaving. It is going up to be with the birds so that it can look down at this old forest and me.’ She thought of how tiny she would appear to it as it vanished into the sky.
‘I shouldn’t have tempted it, blown it away,’ she thought. ‘I should have let it rest on the flower where it was so exquisitely balanced. I was too playful, or reckless, and now it has abandoned me.’
She saw a patch of sunlight cutting through the trees, emerald greens illuminated by gold light. The air was wet and smelled fungal. Her feet sank into the porous earth, the rich dark soil, the moss foam carpet as she moved to the patch of light. She turned her face up, ‘Ah the sun,’ she thought. The sun’s warmth touched her nose like a mischievous child. She heard the forest’s whispering bird talk and tree creaks, the sound of growth and water passing over rocks somewhere, a small animal digging or hiding or playing hide and seek. She heard her own breath, mimicking that of the forest, and thought, ‘wisdom may go it’s own way. This will do for me.’
There are a thousand millions in a billion. If you count every second in a billion, starting from birth, it will take 30 years.
62 people have the same wealth as 3.5 billion others.
Last year, 85 people had the same wealth as 3 billion others.
Far far less people than1%, far far more of the nameless others.
The estimated cost for pipe repairs in Flint, Michigan, a town where most people live below the poverty level or a family of four lives on $24,000/yearly, which is $2,000 a month for four, $500 a week for four or just over $100 per person a week…for everything, housing, food, clothing, transportation, education, medical insurance, medications, doctors and dentists, tampons, toothbrushes and toilet paper.
The estimated cost for pipe repairs in Flint, Michigan, is nearly $800 million.
The estimated cost for pipe repairs and anticipated health costs associated with the population poisoning is $1.5 billion, or fifteen years of seconds.
Lead moves through bodies inter-generationally. Lead poisoning lowers IQs.
Which has consequences.
A million tears are in my heart.
You have been told not to play with matches a million times.
You are burning the planet.
You had a million choices.
A million raindrops grew that tree.
You can say you are sorry a million times but it won’t change things.
A million stars in a speck of sky. A million wishes on a star. A million footsteps in a lifetime.
There are thousands of alternatives.
More reasons why.
No excuses for disparities, the sore bare feet and the diamond skull art, the garbage pile combed for scrap and the jewelry box combed by lacquered nails, young girls bodies laid flat on coiled cots and opiate sex on a private jet.
No excuse for a child to go to school hungry, to go to a garbage bin for food, to go without water,
to go without,
62 people, more than a million ways wrong.
Fingernails pick white shell;
fatty finger part rolls filmy layer, peels membrane from smooth, blanched rubbery oval.
Poor egg: always a metaphor, never a chick.
Memebrain: Brain that spreads from person to person.
Culture squared. #nobarrierstoassimilation
I love you.
I want to spend my life with you.
I know. I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.
I call bullshit
A myth exists that if you draw a circle on the ground a cat will sit in the middle of it and not move. The theory behind it is as crazy as the assertion. It has something to do with emotions and gravitational pulls like those of the planets to sun, an orbiting of attraction and repulsion, the desire for love and the fear of vulnerability. But cats don’t sit in circles. We tried it at home. It didn’t work. We, not cats, are more likely to be immobilized by circles.
Balthus loved cats. I love how my cat pushes her head into me, eyes shut, and cuddles that way. There is no fear. Total trust. More natural than most else that I know. Pure instinct and response. Love? I don’t know, and I don’t know why I bring up Balthus. I find his paintings deeply disturbing. Maybe he comes to mind because his is repulsive, his ideas of vulnerability and desire. Some perverse connection. The opposite of the cat, or is it?
I love you.
I want to spend my life with you.
I know. I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.
I call bullshit
“Emotion is composed of one part arousal to one part vulnerability and this internal paradox institutes a constitutional state of conflict in an animal’s makeup. Conflict is important because it generates energy and that’s important because energy demands motion. In other words, the internal contradiction between arousal and vulnerability in the animal’s makeup makes for a motive in its mind, i.e. a compulsion to move.”
I turn the individual numbers until the row reads 86709, and they are aligned. The large, heavy lock clicks open. I take it off the thick latch and open the metal container. The watering buckets are inside. Across the street, a garage door opens and a car drags two dumpsters to the bin. This happened yesterday and the day before. I walk to the water tower where I fill two buckets. Cold water splashes onto my sneakers. One bucket per plot today. The air is cooler than yesterday though the sun is equally strong. No clouds in the light blue sky.
I walk to the nearest plot. The lettuce are wild, some seeding. Bees buzz around purple sunflowers and nasturtiums nearby. Everything is in full bloom. I water the ground and watch it change from light grey to deep brown. The second plot is near the end of the garden. I pass many plots to get to it and think of only a year before when it was still a place of few plants and many hypodermic needles. The needles are still here but less. Now in mid-summer, the garden feels full of life from a grassroots upswell of interest by apartment dwellers, an upswell like the plants and vegetables are experiencing. Our tomato plants are small and slow. I water them then walk back to the metal container where I put away the empty watering cans. The heavy lid clangs shut. I push the large latch back into place, slide the lock onto it, move the numbers, gather my backpack, thermos and bag and walk away from the garden, down the driveway that belongs to the antique store and SRO next door. I look up at the roof to see if the smokers have gathered yet. Then I gaze down again, cautious of needles, happy that beans grow up the fence like a guard for the garden and that somehow purple sunflowers break through cracks in uneven asphalt.
I pass the Cobalt, a dingy club that attracts hipsters, and Pizzaria Farina, a trendy pizza place. Both are quiet and dark as I walk toward the viaduct underpass where a stream of speeding bikers head west on Union Street toward their jobs downtown. Construction workers hover on the streets, and move in and out of buildings in Chinatown. The clammer of work trucks is jarring.
I turn off Main to Keefer Street and look toward the “Keefer Apts”, the words written both in English and Chinese on the side of the neglected, red-brick building. Words and building are caked in filthy brown debris. The building is the width of two narrow railroad apartments, or of the two bay windows, one with broken glass. A ginger shop and a coffeeshop occupy the ground level. Two flights up in the building’s westside window a round-headed, bald man in a white t-shirt that’s turned grey from age,and is too small to cover his bulging belly sits near a table with a broken bowl on it. He looks out the window, and is like a mother pigeon on her eggs, rooting, roosting. He is there every day, and when the day comes, if I am here to see it, that he is no longer there, I will worry and think the balance of the universe has shifted.
I turn up the alleyway between Main and Gore, pass a tiny, tidy, older woman who lives in cardboard boxes and crates and won’t talk or make eye contact. I know she won’t make eye contact because I tried once; I reached out with oranges in my hand…trying to give them to her, but she wouldn’t look up. I had to rest them on top of a crate for her to pick up later. She is older than most people living on the street. Her gray hair is cropped in a pageboy, her skin darkened from exposure to the sun. I think of bird bones — lightweight, hollow — as I pass her. She is busy moving her boxes and sheets, arranging her structure which she has located next to electrical outlet boxes in a small corner across from a row of dumpsters. She has lived here for weeks. Across the alley, garbage spills from the dumpsters, litters the alleyway. Today there is a mountain of toilet paper. Homeless people use the spaces between the dumpsters as a bathroom. The toilet paper is just garbage that’s spilled, though.They don’t use toilet paper…it’s a luxury.
I turn down the next alley, heading east, now steps from my studio entrance. These are Vancouver's secret passageways. I have never lived in a city with back alleys before. The underworld live in them, or the underseen or the unseen or the disappeared. They live with the dumpsters - the people without homes, the people with addictions, the people with stories and secrets. The alleyway near the studio entrance is empty. In the last week, there has been less early morning activity, but it is obvious this alley is busy at night. I am careful where I step, wondering how many needles I will count today. If there will be bloody gauze or used condoms. One needle is in the doorway, plus one condom, a torn plastic bag, a blue plastic container the size of a syringe, the orange syringe top, gauze, and paper used for wrapping the needles, now torn and scattered. The entrance smells of urine. A new graffiti mark is on the door. I step over the debris, the life of the night before, glance over my shoulder to see if anyone is sitting across the alley by the loading dock to a Chinese butcher. No one is there. I go inside where I will hear the sounds of the alley pick up with the day.
What we had, which was in scarcity anyway, has gone missing.
I thought it was in the tiny amber-colored onyx bowl from Turkey, or the square wooden box from Morocco. That’s where we keep our most precious things. But we checked and it wasn’t there. Maybe I slipped it in the back of my underwear drawer. But no. We thought it might be hiding under the piles of dirty clothes in my daughter’s room and so we kicked the clothes around the floor hoping it would emerge.
The bathroom? Crazy idea, but maybe it just got misplaced in there by a new bar of oatmeal soap, or the extra Aveeno lotion in the bottom drawer. Not there either. We tried the large straw basket in the centre of the kitchen island, the one that accumulates odds and ends like candy and vitamin bottles and notes; the bright orange dish by the Frida Kahlo doll that holds keys in the entrance hall. We looked behind the couch and along the edges of the matted, cream throw rug. Nowhere to be found.
Maybe on the rim of the pot holding the geranium? In the plastic cheese container in the fridge? Under the sink? Hiding in the rainboots in the hall closet? No. No. No.
Then I thought of the strange occurrence the other day. Our horse was tied up in the hallway of our apartment building, just outside our door. Her reins were attached to the door knob. I was going shopping and had her waiting there, brought up the eleven floors in the elevator from the courtyard below where she spends the days. She was saddled and ready.
I was leaning down to pick up my umbrella, ready to leave, when I heard a knock on the window in the livingroom. It was a pigeon, a homing pigeon, I would soon learn. The pigeon wanted to come in. I let her in and she immediately flew to the front door, and knocked on it.
I opened the door to the hallway, without asking why, and she grabbed the horse’s reins in her beak, and began leading our horse through the apartment. Then, the most amazing thing happened. She flew through the open window with our horse. I watched, confounded, as she carried the horse through the air, eleven floors down, and landed her in the courtyard below.
They began to walk away. At this point I was yelling at the pigeon and horse. The horse only turned sad eyes toward me and continued to be led. The pigeon ignored me entirely. They disappeared around the brick facade of the high-rise near us.Now, when I think about it, I bet alacrity was hiding in one of the saddlebags. It must be at someone else’s house.
Not really a Biography
I have always been inclined to move forward, roll the stone, down, and often up, hills. I've tried to write through it all. Everything on this blog is written by me.