Paths

The grass has been tread away to bare earth, flagging this as a path by definition. A path of mediocrity, a sort of best fit line, all origins and goals considered, for a diagonal across the science quad. However, this worn path is not the optimal solution for moving from the computing science building to the nearest train station entrance.

I’m not even certain I’ve taken the optimal exit from the CS building! And yet I keep taking this exit, day after day, because it is nearest the top of the stairs nearest the basement lecture hall door. This entrance through which I’d optimally entered only one and one half hours ago, to reach my subterranean goal, coming from an origin opposite in direction to my new goal, may not be an optimal exit. I’ve taken this exit before and found it not egregiously erroneous, and I greedily take it again and again, and yet I should, to ensure it is the optimal solution, take a moment to explore, not exploit. Learning each other exit’s value and updating my policy. When next I pass the CS building, on a different route, I ought to assess the set of possible exits from outside and use that model to refine the action set I might explore the next time I leave this class.

So today I walk this worn path. Conscientiously avoiding conspicuity. The true optimal path based upon my goal is a line near the worn path. Near enough that were I to walk it I fear I’d look like an asshole for not just walking on the worn path like everyone else!

Thankfully there is useful hedonic value, pleasure, in treading poetically upon autumn leaves atop still green grass. So, if this was another time, another day, and I were to walk my optimal path I would fixate upon this socially non-perturbative autumn pleasure, and not that of optimality. People are willing to accept playfulness, I think, over the implications of haste (which would likely cause sympathetic stress). It is a pleasure I would enjoy vicariously, watching someone else walking in the leaves. I could use it as scapegoat for my greedy action, drawing attention away from my desired pleasure of walking the optimal solution (in which I invariably appear arrogant or harried). So to all concerned if I pretend the smile upon my face and the way I choose to move along this near-the-worn-path path is for playful, aesthetic reasons then I am less affronting than without a mask, focused solely on the goal-driven pleasure of least-distance optimality (which would demand onlookers to judge their suboptimal paths or slow gates and, threatened, begrudgingly make changes to their vector or belittle me in my optimal action choice).

Others are taking even more suboptimal paths because those paths have been paved. They roughly border the buildings, avoiding hills and obstacles (which could have been respectively regraded or removed during construction), and not intersecting the implied whole of the quad. They are neither the intentional paths of even approximate-optimality, nor of awareness and goal. And although they do sometimes overlap with those better paths, architecturally they wend in deviant ways uncharacteristic of the true optimal paths. This overlap appears more coincidental and inevitable than considered or intelligent. The arguable aesthetic benefit of the wending is minute. The wending is just apathetically lazy, not intentional, there is no suggestion of play nor pleasure. They are the paths of concrete form: directive and autocratic.

These Manhattan distance solutions are so aggravating. How is it the engineering and science students ever stoop to tread them? Are they not choosing? Just unmindfully following the paved paths? Following suboptimal least resistance? Why were the approximate-optimal worn paths not approximated from the world model and paved? The model of the world is known! We know if you place one building here and another there then there are straight lines between their points of exit and entry! And when there is no great aesthetic benefit to the Manhattan or wending paths, to keep the quad fundamentally a quad by not paving through it seems absurd. Unless the quad as a whole serves some higher purpose (if so, that philosophical ideal, that statement should be reinforced, as it is on the college greens at Cambridge, and not undermined, suffering the people making unpaved, approximations across its expanse). But perhaps since the quad as quad is historically relevant as a green-space they don’t pave the little paths that everyone walks anyhow. A green-space upon which the alumni and student associations place big white tents and fences without appearing to hamper the flow of people because they don’t straddle paved paths, when really they are blocking all the human paths, the ones that actually matter!

In the winter the humans wear paths down through the snow atop the unpaved ground, making it icy and treacherous. These paths should be marked and in spring the maximally worn paths should be paved and then in winters cleared, sanded and safe. In winter more than ever people want to get from A to B in such a way that their time spent in the cold is minimized. So the optimal approximate paths crisscross across the campus, highlighting and recording, even better than the worn turf, the true motion of the system’s agents and not that motion guided or implied by the low-resistance pavement.

But today I have no capacity left for more autonomous action and I default to the group norm. Despite knowing the correct answer I choose their’s: a popular, suboptimal approximation. A kind of catch-all, group path that doesn’t flounce its optimality. The worn, suboptimal path, the paved paths, suggest there may be things greater than asymptotic minimum-distance optimality. Things like walking with a friend who may be moving toward a similar goal but one ultimately inequivalent to your own. If you both take your respective optimal paths then you’re just a little too far apart to be close. It’s lonesome. If I take my optimal path, at the cost of experiencing this social pleasure when available, or the opportunity for it to occur when not, the mere appearance of autonomy instead of norm would have others attributing characteristics to me contrary to that of one who would value companionship over efficiency. Perhaps the optimal solution is to walk with a friend.


When I finally reach the train and board I’m faced with another dilemma. We stutter at the threshold of the door as we pull into our destination station. She’d made the first move. Toward the exit. But I’m taller, older, male, and the button is on my side. Who is the leader? I’d give her the right, but there is the unassailable logic of the button being on my side of the door. Yet there seems to already be a channel of energy connecting her to that button. And then there is my stereotypical leader alignment. But she is keen, she was there first, waiting. Who is going to push it when it lights up active? Our body language intimating increasing readiness. A dance, posturing, acquiescing. In the end she relinquishes control and I reach forward, albeit awkwardly, intentionally suggesting reluctancy or indicating that this was a compromise and not me asserting my dominance. I thumb the button and open the door. Then we have to walk up the stairs together to the surface. But we’d had an intimate conversation moments before. Now we’re just strangers.

And then, for the second time today, I see him. So obviously our schedules have some synchronicity. Not like that is an unusual thing given our age and urban context. But I think he’s wearing something different this time. So, you changed? We’ve both come from the University, again. So obviously we had both left and returned only to leave again, together, at the same time. So, you’re a block ahead. This time you didn’t see me early enough to walk on the opposite side of the street. Ha ha! You live in the unit below, across the landing. I think you are only peripherally conscious of me. That is, until you reach the door and flip your bag from your shoulders to reach your keys, same as I always do. So I slow and you hasten, ensuring a meeting doesn’t occur. Now I pause at the freshly shut door and give you time to get into your apartment. Then I open the door and stride up the half-flight of stairs, hearing your door close as I put my key in my lock. We should probably be friends. But we aren’t.

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Thaw

A toss, a turn,
Refusing crumpled sheets knotted.
Such dull numbness in congestion
Thickly slowing pounds drape this
Cotton-headed keening drone.

Wringing rock, my unyielding
Pumice-mind’s oily gapes gasp.
Dribbling years of closure,
A tarry claustrophobic glue.
I must melt out.
And how it rips and pinches as it goes.

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Hometown

We grew small

Dreaming

Of being

World-class.

 

Reality acting myths:

“Step right up!”

Load profile pic

Own celebrity

On the cover

In the centre

Fold, spread!

 

And my face

Booked for every social simulacra,

Every working-class, pseudo-risk, art joke

Every token moment I pretended

Front and centre.

 

This small town is an island

Floating on the prairie,

Anchored to a river.

It matters most to those who love here.

Others do not dream of this place

This is a place of dreamers.

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Alexander

It has all gone

Blue.

Only this

Haze tinted everything

Remains.

 

I have lost a brother

So loving and loved with abandon

That I never knew.

In this eastern sun rising

My eyes are flooding

All I can think of is you.

 

If you could feel

This

Soft warm wind rushing

Over your skin

Hair sun-glowing fire

Like mine

With angel-kisses smattered

Across our young faces

How could you

Have left us without you?

 

If I had only known

You could not live without

Or no longer live with

Something.

I would have taken your shoulders

In my hands grasped tightly

For all the moments

I too wished for wings.

 

We are never alone

And this too shall pass

They say when we stumble

And fall.

But you and I know

We are always

All alone

And no matter how tall

The mountain or tree

To just feel free

Might be worth sacrificing it all.

 

In moments like those

The right kinds of clothes,

All masks, matter not and then

When baring  your soul

While bearing the load

Of existing

And facing your end

If you only knew that I loved you for whom

You were when you did not pretend

But you never knew I existed

And I never knew you would

Stop

The brother and son

To sister, dad and mom

And the brother, in myself, I had sought.

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Autumn

October 6th, 2010

Clicks of laughter

Pierce through the rumble

Tumble along, forming bunches.

Like things spice and smoke

And mute-coloured cloth

To wrap up in on parade

Paint the days.

Time to reap and in precious droplets

See the world reflected,

So soon to freeze opaque.

Small triumphs and togetherness

Celebrate treasures: seeing.

Tasting the air for wisps

Of Christmastide

With all the giddy as ever.

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Onward March Ye

September 29th, 2010

Through gauze-like fog

Horn bellows ‘cross

The water wilting

Unto my my wilting flotsam.

Bottled-spirits cap

White waves to stone

Grey clouts till morning doubts

Compressed, repressed, expressed

Dull numb hum unnoticed.

Popping bubbles, tissues’ illusions

Rent and unrecoverable,

Yet approachable and with an acrid sweet

Malinger rushing,

And there building pockets

For which, to out of

And into too,

Things put.

Straight reality dawning,

Burning it off,

Blowing it out,

Taking him down

To crown and swaddle

Till final succus rots

Are but the sweet-tooth

Cavities in green

Pink bodies, bedazzled,

With all the sun

In their faces.

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Morning Sun

September 27th, 2010

Pouring milky hues

The enamel pitcher

Filling the basin.

Sprites have been,

In night shadow

Blazing shoots to

Red from Green.

Still morning gold

Fills black to blue

Like dusk with

Dew, born anew.

Like setting flavours

Rising, restored to

Full unbridled glare,

Nature’s flesh’s ablaze.

So soon to part:

What light these eyes have met with.

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The Bus Window

September 24th, 2010

Fuming in typical brown workware

The asian-postured businessman

On the corner, in routine rush

Waits, taking filtered breaths.

Taking breaths of mystyscism

Billowing and roiling ’round,

As dirty in as out,

Puffing like a great engine

Something to be proud of, to

Live like, a great clunking

Machine-face mechanism

Going beyond the call,

Fuelling up, working hard,

Never stop,

Stop.

 

A cone of haze, once

From his mouth expelled,

Lingers: clouding over

The traffic on the corner

And air slips beneath,

Bumping it unnoticed.

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Lay Asleep

2005

I lay asleep and for the first time saw, not anything specific but something huge: a feeling I have felt before but something indescribable, elation followed by complete depression.

 

There is something inside of me right now.

Feeling trying to escape, trying to create

Beauty

In a world, steeped in hate.

Any provoker, I appreciate

A trigger to counteract pain,

Yin and yang keep me sane,

Sight or sound, beginning of time

Filling my head, filling my mind.

 

I feel though I’ve reached my peak

No chance of return, no chance of escape.

A powerful burn inside me makes

Childish dreams feel complete.

How do we work, where are we from,

Is a soul a thing to imagine?

Or just for an instant while the music plays

What makes us forget our thoughts

And experience things that have no name?

 

I have dreamt a colour that does not exist

A label-less feeling that somehow I missed.

Though there is so much I do not know

I wonder if I am the only one, or

If everyone gazes up to the stars

And slowly in awe repeats the word ‘Why’.

Weeping for beauty I find hate

Is hate then a thing that beauty creates?

Or are all these thoughts in human vain,

The search for an answer, a search to explain?

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Shadow

2006

Too long to be beneath your feet

Still below you when on mine

How sad to be a man who lives life one step at a time

Oh just to feel something anything

To make me feel green

Take a voyage on the vessel of the love that’s never seen

It’s the way it always goes when it’s an honest life you wend

It’s not what I’d have chosen but it’s not your choice in the end

Too much to tell you in the rain before the final song is sung

I wish I’d figured out before that it’s not over till it’s done

 

It’s ten past too late

Must have missed the alarm

The train has left I’m all alone

It’s lonely in the dark

As your shadow trailing in the light

Despite of all the proof

This stale tale un-dogged

Is all logic without truth

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S

2007

Watching that sun slip below the horizon

Soft lights in the distance and your hand on my back

I can feel your fingers press warm through my shirt

I can smell your fresh long blond hair in the wind

Sitting cross-legged above a pine ravine

Hoping for us into focus

 

To love you was all I wanted

You gave me anything

I clung to a dream

We could fall and float in darkness

Each moment like that first night

Cool autumn air and red wine and coolers

Her crisp front-lawn under a blanket of stars

And they all watched and dreamt and I dreamt

 

Time passed

In different worlds we live

Late night through day haze

We were so

In love

Two hearts sang

Your’s solo

While mine a lie from the start

 

Left with what ifs

And pining for a fairytale come true

That perfect high school romance

That lasts forever

The one I’d wanted for you

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Learning to Fly

2005

He is wizened, life-clad.

Been out all day, just in from the cold.

Experiences of a life untold, unfold.

 

Hunched and shaking he sits: a time-travel mirror.

There is a tear on his cheek.

Who is his father, is he dead or alive;

A mother a brother, kids or a wife?

It’s hard to get up, when you’re dying for life.

It’s snowing outside, it’s snowing inside.

What ever happened to the boy who could fly?

 

It is painstaking,

Weakened and tired it’s been years since those bones have lain on a good bed.

The tears drop like the drip drop of rain on a summer tin roof:

He pays no attention, on the street he is home.

 

Don’t you remember kites?

Racing sailing needle-ships down the stream on Fern Hill?

Have you noticed how darkness is lighter at night?

Stars in the sky, moon shadows long across the grass.

Tuckered and wick, front porch lovers sit.

Lamplight glows yellow and smiles grow wide.

Sweet embrace, there’s still fire inside.

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You’ve Left

2006

It would seem that I have come across

A predicament that keeps me on the edge of my seat tonight.

In truth it’s been a while since

I’ve felt this kind of feeling and

The problem floats in space between your leaving and my ceiling.

The ways in which you looked at me

Might they have been meant differently?

It’s a shame I never really said

The thoughts out loud from in my head

For they may very well have saved me

From this midnight melancholy.

A thought that keeps me up flat on my back eyes glazed a little,

Bit off more than I can chew this late at night.

The distance between us makes it hard to believe

That the growing pains of lonesome hearts ever cease to be.

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Lolita

January 30th, 2011.

 

Hello Lolita, your long blonde hair

Underneath these stage lights,

Nothing can compare.

You’re the show, by god you know,

You like it when I stare.

You might be young, oh so fun

And invitingly unaware.

Just returned from being abroad

Baby I’ve come home

To find an angel just like you,

Help her lose control.

 

Darling,

Darling I died when you went away.

 

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Alexandra

January 31st, 2005.

 

Together, in us, I hold a dream

Running wild, we are nature’s teens.

Fast past tall trees, can you smell the air?

Sweet with night-dew, a burning inside you, do you like this feeling as much as I do?

Dripping moist, a now cool breeze blows,

I see an eventide grove, moonlit and warm.

My hands pull you close, one on your cheek one around your back.

Clothing clinging, bodies aching

Your heart beats hard, in time with mine

Trembling fingers, our bodies twist entwined,

Yearning for each other, fast losing time.

 

And when the morning has come don’t leave,

I am on the line and walking it blind, are you there beside me?

Stay with me this starry night

Baby, lovers swooning, life is this dream.

 

The truth is my intentions are romantic,

I have held my fire, let me light you,

Have you held it? Hold me. Hold us.

Hold it tightly and for the world never let it go.

I’m breathing but not living, hiding from your gaze,

In limbo between deepest friendship and love

I can’t play the game any longer, the pain is too great,

Deprived of what could be until it’s much too late.

Can you see past the mask, can you see what is inside?

Touch me, wake me, hear me clearly, show me your sparkling eyes,

Bearing our souls, finally alive.

We are blessed, let’s not be blind,

I have been too scared to dive and risk what’s behind.

 

The silhouette of what could be,

The memory of what we need,

Oh intangible thirsty mist, the untapped magik dormant and trapped

Waiting for pressure on the spaces between us.

A feeling inside, ancient and true, no words to describe,

That’s the power of you.

Swooning baby, can’t resist

Swirling naked in this starry night.

It’s time we both gave up the fight,

Wave your white flag, risk arrest

Hold that feeling, hold me fast.

 

How can you avoid this truth, justify the lie?

I need you now baby, I am in love with something real

Love is my vessel, and you are the sea

Take my hand, it is time we were free,

This night is ours.

 

And when the morning has come don’t leave,

I am on the line and walking it blind, are you there beside me?

Stay with me this starry night

Baby, lovers swooning, life is a dream

And when the morning has come don’t leave

I am on the line and walking it blind, aren’t you there beside me?

 

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Love is.

From 2006, Dec 14th and 15th.

I tremble; and I apologized for the situation, pretending to know how I feel, pretending to know what is going on.  She cared and I thought I didn’t but it’s sick because now it’s him not me.  Love is being “too busy” to risk living, then finding out that life just left the building.  Love is being torn, being lifted and torn and tumbling.  Love is being lifted and torn and told and told.  And love is tumbling and being told that she is going to be with him for a long time, a long time: a terribly long time.

And I am falling all of a sudden, all of a sudden I am falling and trembling and I can’t stop saying I am sorry and neither can she but she went to his house for dinner with his parents and she’s liked him since grade 9.  Love is hurting.  Love is rebirth. Love is clinging to a memory and letting it poison what dreams may come.  Love is when you tell yourself you don’t, even though she was the only thing you could think about all night.  Love is having everyone expect it, hoping and talking and telling you she is the one, and not believing a word they say.  Love is finding out they were right.

***

Love is expectations and differences.  Laughing and lusting, liking the laughter and loving the lusting and letting yourself lay, listening and she is listening to my heart, feeling it through my chest, holding my hand, holding my heart, holding me wholly and she dropped me.  Love is being let go, plunging and knowing that I can’t grab her hand for support, her hand is with his now and as I tumble and tremble I yell back how glad I am that they are together and how they were made for each other.  Love is learning.  And Love is wishing that a single moment last a lifetime.

Love is forgiveness.  Love is hope.  Love is butterflies in your stomach, all night and even in the morning when you wake up.  Love is when I hug you in the morning and forget everything, taking the day in strides, each fleeting moment to the next, to catch your eye and see your smile.  Love is learning who you are.  Love is needing to call you even when I know I shouldn’t.  Love is hearing your voice at the other end and I am not even listening to the words, just the sound of your voice and I want to wrap myself up in it like a blanket and let it bring me to you.  Love is wanting to lay my head on your breast and not being able to.  Not being able to.  I just can’t, I mean I don’t think that I am in love but I don’t know, it certainly feels like that, and the whole time I cannot help but think about Midsummer Night’s Dream, falling ever more in love with someone the more you know it is impossible.  Timing, why did I ever tell you that I wasn’t interested!?  Was I only days late or years?  All I know is at the Halloween party the only thing I wanted was to watch you sleep and then share a smile when you woke up.

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Bedside Scribbles

It’s like I keep writing these little plots in my head.  All these fractured parts that make up who I think I am, all these parts that no one else sees or knows about.  As if in a movie I hear the idea of the music, and feel the angle and the sentiment that could be here, and thusly indulging while often missing being a part of the real moment altogether.  This, after watching What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and ruminating on how simple it all is, how I love the cinematography and that 80’s bass sound and JD and LD are just people and fantasy is so spectacular and so is imagination, and reality sometimes.

But again, it is all like Christmas. It’s the thought of what it might be. I want to give the world an empty box of the most perfect dimensions and wrappings so it can imagine something wonderful and feel good and happy and then to open it and find something even more valuable, a lesson.  Movies like Gilbert Grape and Now and Then, they are what I remember love being: and the whole world moved forward so fast it’s like there was no time for me to find that. It doesn’t exist like that anymore, not the way it was defined for me back then, even though that is what I really want to unwrap on Christmas morning.  I want it all to slow down a fraction so there is time to grow enough to appreciate the moment that just past by before all the rules, the whole paradigm, shifts and it doesn’t matter any longer.

I just went down to the water and found the biggest waves I could see and letting them wash my bare feet and calves I yelled my name and “I am not afraid of anything,” into the night’s thunder.  I collected a rock for me when I am scared and shells for those I love.

***

What to make of Love and Dreaming? I bet no one thinks I’ll do it.  Probably no one believes I think about it every week.  I’ve just got to watch those tapes. The story is in there, and it is mine I think and it is going to be narrated in the end because I am not afraid or embarrassed of my own voice, and I can tell it just as well as anyone.  No one can tell my story because I am the only one who knows it!  And I am through with people being excited for my future and not seeing who I am now, all because I give them nothing to go on.  It is high time and hopefully not too late to be who I am and let others in.

***

Oh, she was so 80’s. It was such a trap but I fought so hard to bring that little blondie with the pink bubble-necklace back to life so I could fall in love with her.  I mean, she likes Meatloaf for christ’s sake, and so many other things that I do, and she was really pretty in her way.  Her Mom was as wonderfully messed up as their house, all cocaine and Nirvana and unicorn art.  And even though they are crazy there was something genuine there. Like, the rest of the world sped ahead and they got left behind and normally that would be a big turnoff only with things and people moving so fast their steady unsteadiness was so endearing.  And all I wanted to do was fall in love to Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel, dancing to Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler, while watching The Lost Boys, The Goonies, Rocky Horror, and anything Audrey Hepburn.

***

Like 2 a.m. after listening to the songs that make me feel things. Trying to remember girls:

Built so many girls outta songs.

Feeling so much I’d go blind.

And looking back they slip away and all I find

Are the lyrics that filled my mind

And images conjured from books:

My past an imaginary world I never lived in.

And I see us in the snow and holding hands and

Laying in each other’s arms and I go through

Hell and back as it all comes flooding in.

I pushed so much of it out of my head:

Like playing chess and sipping chai at that 24 café.

I keep trying to dial up my memories,

Make the nostalgia the moment and

To feel, to really feel all the thoughts of feelings.

Catcher in the Rye, Perks of Being a Wallflower,

Already so many years ago and yesterday

When I see my life like a movie I can’t

Help but cry.

Not because of what it’s been but because once it is

It never is again.

And I am in a hundred times at once

Stretched into every romance I know

And I am afraid of life

Not feeling so as it does by music light.

I keep hammering out imaginary tunes

All busy fingers with no keys beneath

And everyone must think I am crazy

But the whole thing is like a drug

And I’m addicted to feeling like I am in love.

All those ones from school and all those I never told

Like 80’s movies each of them, only none that old.

Oh dear for the years I never knew and

For all the ones I tried to make come true.

Like dropping us into the past through the pages,

The tunes, my mind’s eye Grade 12 is a blur of Shakeseare

After drinking and pretending, always outside my body

Never seizing the day.

I guess it is all because

I’ve only got one life to live and

I get afraid and try to love so many ways

At once I am all these characters

And sometimes me as well

And I just want to be with people and

Live with them in the same world where

Music is the language and eyes are how we speak.

 

***

 

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Sur la Mer

Smiths and philosophes, your deaf’nin rat’lin chains

I’m remembering to forget, to speak to be heard for a change

I don’t mind what’s been thought before, don’t much matter anymore

It’s my turn to take the piss, so I’ll paint that picture, that’s what I’ll do.

 

What came first my doubt or theirs? They don’t exist they just remind.

Why whittle down hours to dream them up? Let colours be waves and let me sail on mine.

 

In sickness and in health, for better or for worse

Come what may I’ll say my say, liven’ my life upon this earth.

 

Paris lies a train away and the ocean’s on my right

And I’ve been caught on the beach between the darkness and the light.

But I am learning to be gentle and learning to be strong

And I am learning to see the lighter side of things when everything goes wrong.

And I am learning to be brave, taking up my torch

Putting up a fight for what I believe, what matters, what I think is right.

I’ve got hope for the future and everything we’ll do

And all of it seems greater when I think of you.

 

Not about who or what I am meant to be, or who or what I was.

Collecting cold coffee, red wine, reading, I’m blowin’ away the blues, keepin’ my heart in mind.

 

I’ve thought myself crazy, thinking till I’m wired

And I’m full of being hungry and sleeping till I’m tired

And I’m done with feeling lonely and searching for a home

Believing all others’ words sound much better than my own.

 

Swell, crest, tumble, repeat.

Rush upon the sand

In my eyes: morning tide

Like thoughts, filling the beach.

 

Swell, crest, tumble, repeat.

Endless cycle, never complete,

Wash upon the sand in my eyes.

Morning tide and sunrise

Thoughts, fill the beach, just out of reach,

And keep getting dragged back out to sea.

Between the devil and me and this hard place

The rocks never stay and I float away

And even when it’s out I never stay dry for long.

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Slipping

Every body is hooked and tugged.

Frolicking light from video trips wave,

And the pulse of a crowd heaving up and down

Waves in time, waving goodbye, in time

Broken little holes in skin and pouring

In and out like wisps of frost

Breathe the streams of acquiescent moments.

Somersaults of giving over and giving up and

All the softest gilt threads fingers once raked

Now splinter: shattered dream prisms.

Suspended in gaffa where frames dance and these torn pages

Of a thousand nights litter the sky like souls, birds

Dragging ribbons of every emotion in every direction

And how am I to begin?

 

Raging: millennia of stories and chasing tales.

Roaring new-old world sirens drowning mine.

Seventeen forever and why not?

Only felt like Seventeen since the magazine and high gloss sheen

Of juiced up cover-virgins smothered FM with fuzzy sex ballads.

Tear down the towers of American mythology

That, with an MTV century, have turned

Reproduction into a production and a product for mass consumption.

And see: it has always been this way. Always this same clash.

Furious for feeling. Fleeing from tears that do not come.

Seeing how it should be done, and how they do it and knowing you could.

But why,

As babes forget tears ought I forgo all enraptured juvenile feeling?

No routine fit for all felt.

Nothing appropriate matching inner sea bigness.

Trading animal for language for writing for grasps at shadows past,

When one unguarded and entirely rare touch would say it all.

A drama, in fear of death, in fear of life.

I watch you warring, weeping with your

Violence for all you sacrificed when you grew up.

All the bigness you had to bury and ignore to appear big

As context walled you in and closed your eyes.

I say it,

Looking out from the head of a pin, from the bottom of a crater,

And seeing nothing for the everything and knowing my significant insignificance.

Knowing at once what I see and how I see it,

And it is all that there is and all that there isn’t.

One vantage in billions and my myth rides only on the shoulders of what I know.

It is okay, as I smile and you walk away from me again, all pedestrian, all grown-up.

I am only bloodletting, dreaming of holding space with you again.

And I am actually feeling this, and these are not the words of others.

This is not my Status, this is no Instagram, isn’t it?

 

 

 

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A Pause

Again, ’06, sitting on a rock in the rain by the fleuve St.Laurent, feeling lost but powerful.

 

Considering Classics

Some tales of truths

I feel thus disposed

To offer as Sleuth

My service of spection

Of trusses and ties

Eluding to what beyond lies lies

Ripples and clapping of stoic grey

Seas we are stagnant in daily reprieve

Christen me kingpin so I may bind

‘Ere twine my fingers through illustrious minds

Alone on a rock or afloat on the dock

Waiting to launch on something of valour

Imagination a best friend of dreamers

And artists and a faint whisper in

Those academics who focus on what is

And the things that are sure

Rather than on what is insecure.

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Pretty in Pink

Another old one from ’06: some smashed together ideas about High School intensity, religious affliction, Marie Antoinette, and delusions vs. reality.

 

Don’t, fall asleep on me darling, there is still so much to get done.

We’ve got a lifetime to dream, and stuff to get, underway.

Merging lanes, a beautiful Busby, let us intertwine,

To see what we could be.

 

Traveling in straight lines around curves,

All the pegs in all the wrong holes.

But it is okay darling,

Just don’t, fall asleep.

 

Okay, so you are not sober, that’s alright.

This is gonna hurt a lot less that way.

One more to pass the time, pass out and

With the final sip we both slide in.

 

I remember watching you through the door slit.

And hymn and incense, and His tongue,

Flogging your fresh flesh, and you

Weren’t even awake, thank God.

 

Someone has to see you in the morning,

It should be me.

Your messy hair and cracking face, striking eyes

Fresh from your nightmares.

 

Wash it down your life’s a mess,

Pretty pink princess in a world of distress.

Keep your head above water, just

One more night before your freedom flight.

Too many dolls tonight, such a fuss.

A time of crisis, drama at its best.

Riches and parties and white

Wine in the field.

Summer in the night light,

There’s gonna be a love fight.

 

I wish I could be there to see their faces

When you walk through that door and,

Reality ends:

Electric eyes and perfect hair,

let them stare, we don’t care.

Bonnet and bloomers, a sultry stare,

Standing fair in your underwear.

 

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Bad Morning 101

I had this terrible morning back in 2006 and jotted this down while on the long commute to the Macdonald Campus in Montreal.  Thought it might be fun to share some older, less well (in)formed, work here too.

 

Vehemence of plastic people

All around in crystal houses.

Rough morning 101,

Need some time to feel alive.

Let me see the palms of your eyes:

Something with truth you can no longer hide.

Running in circles to catch the bus,

A zero displacement of infinite distance.

The stagnation of routine.

I am finally dancing, moving,

Sometimes you need a shitty day to get you prancing.

Sun on my eyelids, orange and wholesome.

Balancing logic and emotional truth.

Are the little pains and jolts worth the freedom of irregularity?

 

All wrapped up in points forgotten,

Lost conversation dwindles to nothing.

The traffic is backed up again, and we cannot get off the on-ramp.

Elevator music in the background, tinkles away the time.

The floors ascending and our headspace approaches level plateau,

Stomach drops, we drop, we are falling now down.

Welcome to wonderland princess, this is where we are giants.

The glisten of sunlight off morning mirrors,

Cantankerous languidly rambling souls.

Let me be the beeps and clicks to form a rhythm,

To see you shaking, blabbering bells and undersea pulses.

A muffled heaven keeping us in sanity is the thing that we ought fear the most.

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Erasure

Hands in heart,

Hands in head,

Reap kneed deep winter,

Replace words unsaid.

Whence ripple fleets crane,

Delving foreign sweets.

In clastic ecru pallor lolls,

Allaying night corroborates,

Ink lips clop slots aloft.

Smoke now. Only smoke now,

And ashen clouts berate, grate

Those left undead at gates, escape:

Hung toll sung to gun down hounds.

Round the bend again, whispered

Casket lids, flaunting lankily lain incumbents,

Sidled incognito into nicotine swilling rank mens’ lines.

Farouche in the corner does not like the cut of your glib,

Nervous tongues making louts of them, all

Under the thumb of another One.

Antagonize the horses, antagonize the men,

Reel around the fountain, laughing back at them.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus

Dominus Deus Sabaoth.

Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.

Hosanna in excelsis.

Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.

Hosanna in excelsis.

 

***

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Whilst you read

I have to give a shout out to my amazing friend Jon B for sending so much great new music my way, and reminding me of some old favourites.  If you’d like some custom background noise then play through these bad boys as you peruse.

Hanging On by Active Child.

OK Pal from M83‘s new effort Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming.

You Are All I See from the epic work of Active Child.

Long Highway from the sailing riffs of The Jezabels

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Tumbling out (from an email)

P.S.
The following spilled surprisingly out here in this message, so I’ll leave it intact, even though it has little to do with my current academic failings, for the sake of being honest to this moment.

My life is changing so much, so quickly, and all for the better.  I can feel myself inside of me. When I play music I am transported, elevated, exploded.  I have this little wee ruby glowing alive in me and it is taking over my destiny.  If only I was a trustworthy child so I could show the world this elation and have it appear normal, so, that if I let it out it would not appear as though I am one of the self-concious, externally defined, zombies, short-circuiting, breaking out, and needing to be taken back underground for a numbing.

If you’ve ever stood at the lip of a cliff, naked in the night, and jumped into the dingle starry void, then you can know what every day is like for me right now.  In this palpable flooding I cannot swim, nor do I want to, and nor ought I.  I can feel everything I see and hear and smell. It is as though I am part of everything.  No this state of mind doesn’t meet many external expectations, and it rarely satisfies responsibility, but I presume there is a time in everyone’s life when they look into the mirror and know that they are destined to be themselves.  When they are keenly electrified by all the hopes life can bestow.

And that is all, that is everything, the entire universe in one mind and body, conjoined.  A spiritual awakening, a shock of sun-break renting all the clouds of illusion.  I realize this all reads insane.  I am aware of that, but some moments of this journey are so intimate, so transcendental that to fight the flight is folly, and any words muddled to contrive sense fall so desperately short of doing the experience justice.

Marks do not mean a thing to me.  They never have. They have always meant something to everyone else around me, parents, teachers, peers. But no scale could ever weigh the immensity of anyone’s becoming.  And when I am faced with feeling my own spirit at the cost of appearing like a desperate case in the momentary public-eye there is no choice, no ability to choose, because this feeling of euphoria, of hope, of joyous generosity, of love, overtakes.  And I may appear closed to the outside but that is because, in this rush of connection and awareness, if I began to show what I am feeling I am scared I would be incredible.

It’s not quite ready, but I cannot keep myself in much longer, and it is this fight that is holding me hostage from pragmatic success while I let my tea steep.  I am happy to be alive to make the mistakes one makes.  Let me make them massively.  There is no prize, there is no degree, no report card. And, could one anticipate moments of enlightenment, I would have taken the semester off. Sometimes I am so astoundingly good at playing the game, but at the moment I can actually feel my brain in my head, I can feel it exploding, and if I close my eyes and stop thinking everything comes into perfect focus for the first time in my life.  It is completely personal.  I cannot ‘prove’ a glint of this eruption.  Not while it is taking me over, but I can already see tomorrow, I can already see how the proof will be in the pudding.  I can hear this sheer sparkle playing over and over, and as this settles, and I emerge, there will be no day left un-lived.

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Explode Me

Tips to keys,

So I can shield me,

Every stroke evoke

Every stroke emote.

Cannot float, I choke, and cloak.

And I’ve been a lot of things

And I’ve been here before,

I can remember love,

Still, behind closed doors.

Pulse, raging through my body,

Stand before the mountain

Of all I haven’t done,

Rip me open, I need the fun.

And I’m still playing,

And I can still feel,

This beating staving the drowning.

Sticks to skins, sticks to symbols,

When I strike I heal.

All becoming trapped beneath

Buzzing flailing, kinetics elevating,

And all the world dancing, raining,

And I am all:

Standing, screaming, stagnant bleating,

And I am all past spent.

Let me fall. Invisible eyes.

Cannot live. Envisage I’s.

Too far gone to realize.

Forgot myself. I agonize.

So suffer the disguise.

 

 

 

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And so

It is with a heart once laden that I look into the night of my future.  And so with a plate of the most atrocious preformed cookies, freshly baked and delicious, and with a glass of cool pure white milk, it is with fresh peace and resolve that I savour the taste.  Today my aunt and uncle gifted me a vehicle.  And in that act of generosity I see myself wanting nothing more than to give back as much as I have been given.  I am sitting in my parents’ basement, 23 years young, despondent,  and watching the final episode of Frasier, anticipating the finale of a series I have spent weeks watching in its entirety.  There are these imaginary people in this imaginary place and I love them all for the laughs and the tears and the contemplation.  Like in any myth, for the reassurance that part of my humanity may exist in others too.  Sure, it is just a television program, or perhaps a book, a play, a memory:  but if art and imagination are not as real as this dream we call reality then I do not know what is.

Life amazes me.  The way it unfolds as it does.  Do not get me wrong, I have been extraordinarily fortunate, and while it may be that I have not always worked my hardest for the good things that have come my way, it may be said that those gifts of time and love and patience will not end with me, I cannot let them.  And so, childhood, with your sugary McDonald’s Happy Meal cheeseburgers, and my escapades into the worlds of J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Phillip Pullman, Patricia C. Wrede and all the others my parents spent their evenings reading to me aloud in bed, with your smell of Edmonton Mall Fountains and every last year’s christmas boxes, and the dreams of lives brought to life in the TV worlds of Star Trek, The Wind in the Willows, and Frasier, I thank you.  And as difficult and insane as I may have been at times, Christy, Alexandra, Sarah, Dani, and Emma, thank you for your time, for your touch and affection, your love, and for growing up alongside me, and for the guidance and love of your families.  To the family of friends and colleagues who have given their trust to the projects and ensembles I have been so lucky to have been a part of: Leah, John, Forest, Patrick, Simon, Jon, Jordan, Tim, Braydon, Ben, Greg, Tami, Scott, Darra, Esperenza, Darcy, Bobbi, and so many other friends and teachers, if you have known me you have touched my life immeasurably (no one can remember all the names in one go, but together you have taught me that we can profoundly affect any person, no matter how briefly or how anonymously we know them).   To my sisters Sally and Jessica, in whom I have found constant companions and the most transcendental laughter one can imagine, thank you.  Grandma and Grandpa, and Granny and Granddad, for the compassionate, interested and loving children that make up my family at large, I thank you.

Lots to be thankful for.  I have been so depressed lately. Incapacitated by guilt and worry and thoughts of the future, deflated aspirations, lost careers, forgotten potentials, and of compromises I have made, of mistakes, and embarrassments and the shame for all the times I knew better.  For all the teachers’ classes I have avoided or failed because the thought of facing another day of uncertainty and questioning and external expectation, of having to decide to live fully, was too much, I am so sorry.  If only you had an inkling how much I wanted to give you the best of me everyday while I fought myself down with make-believe giants.  You women I have loved and clung too close to, forgive me for falling in love with your beauty, my ideals, and what you stirred in me, and not giving you the autonomy in my heart that you deserved.

I am learning and dreaming and thinking constantly.  I am so fearful of choosing one path to the exclusion of others.  I am so afraid of only having one life, one chance, to get it right. Whatever that means.  I want you all to know I am a man. That while I am not at the moment seeming very strong or bold or wise, I have amassed such a tenderness and depth of understanding of humanity that I have been want to let it show, and yet, with such gifts of spirit and accolade and love from you all, it has been an immense sense of expectation and fear that has kept me running away from my true self for all these years.  What if I should try and fail? Or more terrifyingly, what if I were to try and succeed?  What if I should let you in and you should love me truly? I want to know the vocabulary of language, of music, of art, of nature, of math, of touch, and all the tiniest, most infinitesimal definitions with which I can achieve foundational cognition of the sensual and conceptual world.  I get so furious with University for not handing me the roadmap to my own intelligences.  I know it is not your fault, you do your best, and I would do better if I did not fight you so hard.  I would do better if I did not fight myself so hard.

And so here I raise my glass to the future, to each of us on our own journey and to all the mistakes and the flaws that make it real, that make it life, and that make it impossible to do alone.

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Bits and Pieces

Your home odour wafts, a memory now,

Stuck to a time stiff black bag with zipper pulls missing

Fragments of you are tucked in, sleeping

Brushes stood upright in glass preserve jars

And paints, all sorts, in a scuffed oblong black box

Once holding Max Meyer’s size seven black gloves.

Clippings of pictures, sallow with age

And nestled between pages, scraps,

And debris off pencils shaved

You folded, just like your daughter does,

Still good tinfoil,

And this is how you saved bits,

And pieces that might have been thrown

Out before their time.

A little plastic pack with one travel Kleenex left

And this tail of pink Trident bubblegum

(like the colour of casket you said would be fun)

Ripped across the final stick, in the eighties

A tidy package of weekly routine with time left

Buried deep at the bottom, just like the gum in the car

Just like when I was a child,

Chewing away the hours,

Out in the sandbox.

Good morning raisins, a tiny red box,

And good morning porridge and good morning talks:

And I never understood,

Until trying myself,

That you were a painter, Grandma

You have painted yourself.

 

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My Darling Ghost

You wrote back,

Everything about me collapses.

I am dumbstruck and all that escapes,

The muffled sounds of memories unspoken.

Rushing through my veins, my entire world

Fleeing this moment, my last guard drops.

Two lead balloons sinking into nothing.

Embarrassed and shaking and clinging to empty dreams,

If I could only be with you again.

All my ideals shining in your eyes, the golden halo

I want to come home to someone who never existed.

Retching in quietly polite words, lying every time.

I am screaming, “why don’t you love me?”

But all you read on your tiny screen is “Goodnight.”

You are just a girl, still.

And if only I was just a boy, still.

And if in that stillness we could hold each other forever,

I would be complete.

And in that moment, surrounded

By the striking reverb of electric guitars and

Haunting vocals from every teen-love ballad

We would kiss and the camera would reel around us.

Two balloons floating up against gravity,

Two hearts beating into each other and talking,

Saying it is all okay and that it is all alright.

Standing on light and standing on in stillness.

 

 

 

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My noteworthy Facebook statuses

Too important to be lost in newsfeeds past:

  1. Responsibilities are merely opportunities in disguise.  Embrace them unreservedly.
  2. I had no idea what it meant to concentrate, or how to do it, until I started drawing from life.
  3. Too many things to do, too many people to be, I wish I was better at multithreading my waking hours.
  4. The same things moved us.  Deep truths and beauties.  Was it not all just a dream? What, if not that, could it have been?  To be in love with a name and the world of imaginings behind it.  Did that dream see me?
  5. Always tumbling in, and out of love with, whichever myth takes me to the heights of fancy and felicity: you have many names, heaven is here on earth, and tag, you are it!
  6. I have found it is alright to cling tightly to things for a time: beliefs, loves, ideals, dreams, friends, fears, imagined worlds.  But alright only for as long as it takes to decide that it is okay to change: that I can be different than I was and still be me.
  7. I wish I had been a better friend to those who mattered most and to those I never got to know and if only I did not hold so tightly to what is loved, extinguishing the spark in doing so.
  8. Having failed in trying to turn relationships into inhabitable artistic fictions I think I shall give reality (with a dose of being an actual artist) a try instead.
  9. Echoes of music, like worlds I once strove to champion, ring so paralyzing along with voices from circles of friends from the past.  And our ideas and what was important at the time could not have faded faster than it did.  Why does it feel like every line is broken, and that somehow it is all my own doing?  Is this what I asked for? I spent so much time looking back that I never realized the race had ended.
  10. Are Facebook and Twitter nothing more than a quick release?  Vacuums into which one might shout so loudly, imagining they are heard, loved?  Are we fooled into ejaculating, what might have been a poem or an action, into a void of pretend significance where everyone is shouting and few are really listening?
  11. When next you feel implored to peck out something in this little box, as if anyone gives a damn, write it down on a scrap of paper and drop it somewhere real for someone real to find.  Arousing, with your unrepeatable, handmade scratchings, a deeper attention, from whomever stoops and unfolds that scrap, than any “Friend” or “Follower”, blasted by a hundred Tweets and Retweets, could ever be expected to afford you.
  12. Coming-of-age is a battlefield strewn with dreams and friendships, lovers and infinite moments, all incorporeal, all known only unto God, only unto you.  And, as the sun sets on that day of reckoning, you cannot help but feel a little sad that the war is over.
  13. Sometimes it is best to keep quiet and see how things develop of their own accord.  But sometimes, at the cost of appearing desperate and pedantic, one just has to let it out and hope for the best.
  14. I wish people did not grow up to be afraid.  It is so hard to watch friends unable to deal with truths because they are frightened of change and scared of being alone.  Some just turn right off in the face of it all, hardened and unforgiving, and there is such little to be done in such cases.
  15. If you learn one thing in this life, for the sake of hearts everywhere, be it that you never cheat on someone who loves you.  I can think of only one thing that is more cowardly and selfish. Do not do either.  Because neither solves anything.
  16. Be careful who you play with.  Things are not always what they seem.  Tread lightly because you tread upon my dreams.
  17. Do not let life beguile you, stay on top of it, keeping with reality: let imagination fuel your Art, and let reality fuel your passion.
  18. “… but if I indulged, I’m afraid I would have to do some repenting and confessing to my bishop.  Haha.”  Undoubtedly the best response to a flirtation that I have ever gotten!
  19. What great man, without suffering some sound convictions of madness, ever lived?
  20. There is a chill air pouring off the window and it is getting under my skin and inside my bones and making me itchy anxious: if only a knowing hand might tender this floating body and remind me that people can look into each others’ eyes and see, bringing two worlds together, bringing me back to solid ground.
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I am begging you to bring beauty back

We have messed it all up: form following function, disposable architecture and in our minds we have turned from the creative, beautiful abstracts that elevate and remind us that there are values and beauties worth living for and striving toward. We deserve to love and be loved for more than our function and we should be creating as such in our marriages, in our friendships, in all our doings and in our waking and sleeping dreams. Do not ignore the darkness around you but, for all sakes, quit replicating it! Fight it with a deeper beauty, you are not naive to believe there is something greater, something ideal.
How ugly and uneducated to live merely pointing out and becoming the obvious faults and not offering a response that both acknowledges and fights back. “Art” without beauty is the problem, it is narcissistic and immature and debases the very essence of art. We have sacrificed our spirituality and filled the vacuum with greed and masturbation. You have been duped into thinking the gift is received, when the gift has always been the giving. Dear, you are not so worthless that stooping to this level is what you are intended to do. Please, for the sake of your soul and humanity, remember there are beauties beyond the beauty you must damage your mind to pretend to see to survive in this modern wasteland.

***

Please stop obliterating meaning from the human form, stop desecrating the beauty I am trying to uphold in what I see, and stop erasing knowledge.

***

Why did artists turn their backs on beauty? Our creations have become so self-deprecating and these abysmally self-referential loops that are conceptual and word-bounded should be left as such. To continue to actualize such things beyond the initial breaking of those old boundaries is an error and an immoral sin. We have made our modern point. Now it is destroying us. We have had our angst ridden denunciation of religion and beauty and values and now it is time to grow up.

***

Please, smell the roses for they are significant enough as flowers.

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Fathers and Sons

He stood shirtless in the middle of their room. My father spoke while my mother lay in bed reading.  I hung in their doorway, wringing my fingers, trying to articulate this feeling.  I have been listening to my intuition. I have taken the time to mend the wake of upset and confusion I left behind when I ran away to Montreal.  I missed them so much while I traveled. I could not have been born into more love than this.  He said he had been meaning to talk to me all day.  So I left my room and stood at the threshold of theirs.  A few years ago I would have walked right in, probably sitting on the edge of the bed to pet the cat.  It is no longer appropriate for me to be here. No longer appropriate for me to be eating their food and investing time into this property.  Perpetuating it for a time was necessary and conscious and now the division is palpable and complete.  Letting this drag on is not healthy, it has been healthy but it will not be if it continues. It is starting to feel too Greek.  I am short of breath and voice and my chest aches and I cannot concentrate. I am asphyxiating.  So I tell him about my feelings, my independences, my wealth of experiences and works invested in my becoming.  It is time for me to go now dad.  And he tells of a dream he had last night.  It visibly shook him, and he admits he is dancing with his own daemons at the moment, but I was a part of this dream.  I killed and flensed his father while he sat in the adjacent room. I skinned the grandfather I never knew.  And he knew I had to do it, dad knew I was trapped and had no choice. He could not stop me killing his father. Killing my grandfather.  He does not want to stop me becoming my own man.  There is the pain though.  The fear of the unknown. New chapters. He never got the chance to say goodbye to his dad.  My granddad’s sudden death by heart attack robbed them of that.  My dad never got to show his son to his dad, his own little boy who he created and loved and fathered.  I probably returned and stayed here so long because he never got to properly show his own father the incredible, strong, patient, loving, talented man he became.  He will never get to show his father that.  So how could he let me show him?  I had to kill his father first so we can both grow up.  Peel the skin away and reveal the flesh underneath.  The metamorphosis.  I am starting to know how it feels to be Gregor and no one wants that cautionary allegory to come true.  There comes a time when you know you cannot be a child any longer.  For me that time came when I was sixteen.  Then there comes a time when you are no longer who you were when you were a child, and that time is now.  I would have said the time is now five years ago, and I did, repeatedly,  but I see now I only knew it then, it was not actualized, only known.  I think it is harder when your parents are still together, when they are still in love and when they never forget to show and tell you daily that they love you.  Who would ever want to leave that behind?  And yet I cannot access it any longer. To hear the words pains me because I am not saying them to my own child.  Every time I hear I love you from them I wish I had my own family to say it to.  So I cannot stay. I must take all they have given me, all that I cherish from my exceptional childhood and share those values and that love with a woman, my wife,  and the children we will create together.  I will never forget you mom and dad. You will always live on in me and mine and I could not have been loved more than I was by you both.

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Write about light

Parting for cloud-break only the soft, blue cast about me is not so different on the undersides as on the skyward faces of all it touches: as though the air itself, surrounding everything, is made of dull illumination. This cool glow licks the darkest nooks; it sinks into the underbrush that lies too deep down for sunbeams (were there any to be seen) but not so deep as to escape the fleecy tail of shadow’s light. I am standing in the anxious-calm, easily peering at macro length and closely peering out across vast distances that ought to conclude but insist in pushing on ad infinitum while really ending at the tip of my nose. Eyes not straining but, caught in observation, brain vainly tugging two dimensions into three, forcing relativity on the scene, and yet the quietude thrills me, this is a losing battle, and in this moment I am vulnerable, undifferentiated, me and everything around me wading in shadow.

Where a clear edge, some distinguishable silhouettes, could clarify the boundary between the darkness and the light, my late-afternoon is wrought in flattening haze, masking all sense of contour and range. There is a stillness, an expectancy, a necessary, temporary feeling before all contrasts sharpen, before the shifting of puffy neutral shades, high above, part and let pour, from that point-source of all organic energy, these warming golden rays. Sudden shafts of light strobing through slanted shutters of branches, trunks and brambles bleach my vision and keep the world close as the rest is too bright to distinguish. Dripping down from the canopy, pools of gold, like patches of bubbles popping and reforming, smatter the surfaces around me. The shifting faces of stone outcroppings, hewn by the sunbeams that ebb and flow in the pockmarks and crevices, tower above me on the bank opposite.

A stray leaf has alighted but a few inches from shrub to forest floor but in that time, as if by some unseen hand, the sun has plotted a bas relief of all that stands between it and the sprawling grounds. Suddenly gilt leaf rims, like sheeny china cup lips, gleam whitely in the hot spots, at the hot angles, all around aflutter in the up-breeze of warming earth. No longer dim geometries, the leaves glow orange and green and capture the shadow-puppets of their neighbours on their screens.

I can hear the rolling barrage of light plummeting down from behind blotchy clouds: atop swift waters it dances, like silver diamonds chiming, and all the creaks and cracks of stretching sinews bent on opening upward shudder out about me, and the stirring of the wind in the warming air carries fresh scents in its whooshings. Like bold fingers, the appendages of flora inscribe angular shadows of yellow and purple and rose across the dirt path. Those opacities closest to their screens and hardest at their edges project the strongest appearance of line, while the towering protrusions and translucent green intrusions drop blurry, morphing masks over everything, leaving the thin vertical shrubberies to hack hatch marks that thrust from their bases and across their comrades arms. A tapestry of muted complimentary colours strewn in values too numerous to note… and now, at a low angle, burning the tops of trees and blinding me no matter where I look, the sun is dipping down some, lashing long, golden arms out across the earth in its final glorious reaches.

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Sunrise

Push play and read slowly.

Finally, striking forth through waning night’s stillness, oh familiar gleam, cresting on the deep-sea blue, I had been awake, waiting, for you to join me from dreams. I recall, peering from behind sleepy-slits, your sleep-daze gaze bestirring my world, and a single hairline skating across the skyline: a golden thread beneath new-blushing cloud, hugging the brown earth, bolstering the reddening eastern sky. Between the silences I could hear the slightest ruffling of feathers and fetters as you stirred, some notes from a distant nocturne still lingering in the air. Sprays of finest lavender circumscribed your blooming mounds, all apricot and peach and pale-blue veins, and all was honey-scent and candy pastels, dripping into my shadowed depressions. Fair Morning, you wore naught but the jewels of your becoming. There is no other such sight. When I inhaled it was your heat, your sweet, crisp breath that I tasted. When I looked upon you it was your shining face that filled my heart and my eyes. You were my maiden, daily. And I made you beautiful by looking at you. And though you will not hear me speak your name you are as much to me now as ever. What chromatography! One droplet of light splayed, I look up along the length of you from that singular glistening moment of luscious pink, seeing it floresce into flaxen hues radiating until lost in the lightening blue background. If I could lay with your forever changing scape I could be complete. I felt that in that moment, because you were everything. And I know it was impermanence that made it feel true, that made the swaddling feel safe. But time fleeced me and I cannot pretend any longer that it is not now day.

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If I knew you

“I’ll come get you right now, yes, I know how late it is.  Oh, sorry.  You’re in your pyjamas? I see.  Looking at the moon and there is a fire burning somewhere around, it smells so timeless in the cold. Some things never change.  Just walking, well, kinda half-running to the car.  Like I said, I’ll come over, if there’s a liquor store on the way, I’ll grab some red.  Okay. Maybe. Ha, yes of course it was.  Do they look alright?  I wasn’t sure, I told the girl to do something nice with an orchid and some witch-hazel.  I don’t know why I know that. Ya. Yes! Of course you are.  Look, its just been one of those days.  No.  No, not really.  I could use some company that’s all.  Out of the blue, yes, I know, you were on my mind.  Obviously.  Art class.  It kicked my ass.  I’ve never done any of this stuff before.  I’m either on or I am not, my in-between is pretty useless.  I had this whole playlist made but then the speakers weren’t working. Ya, everyone just used their own iPods.  Yeah, great tracks. Lots of 80s stuff. Not sure why I relate to that so much right now.  I know you do. I dunno.  You ever feel like the sad characters in books? Like some disenfranchised angst ridden cliché book that you despise yourself for loving so much.  Exactly like that.  They are so melodramatic but so touching. I feel cheated. Yes by books!  No it sure isn’t.  At least not for me. I look around and see others and I think it must be like that for them. The Facebook pictures, the reckless abandon, the Polaroids. Desperate, yeah I know, but I still get jealous.  It is just as easy to feel jealous as it is to judge them.  Ya maybe.  Or maybe there is just something I am missing. Could be.  So is it okay?  They’re asleep? I’ll be quiet.  I know they don’t like it.  Well I just feel like being held.  Yes you. I don’t care. No, I don’t really have the energy. I know I say that.  Whatever, we’ll just have to see won’t we?  Yes, I do.  In about ten minutes.  Red? Yup it’s still open I can see it down the street. Whatever, there’s no cops out. Besides, we used to be able to talk on them whenever. I know, you’re right. You sound like me. Yeah, see you soon. I’ll text you when I am there.  Backdoor, I know I know.

… I love you.

No, nothing. Sorry. Yes. See you soon.”

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Not what I had planned

Having finished my glass of Malbec and a SanPel at some imitation Italian café across the street, I ploughed through the dusk, Student Pass (incredible deal if you are under 25 and appreciate good music) pocketed and a quality dress circle ticket, procured an hour before, ready for ripping.  I am sitting in the local concert hall, my Dad managed it until I was in high school and I have such distant identity, pride, and memory wrapped up in this place: my experience of having grown up behind these walls is unique.  I worked here too, for many years, and my position as a Barista/ Bartender/ Usher was arguably my first ‘real’ job, that is to say it is the first time some responsibility of mine resulted in a neglected girlfriend who loved making a fuss about all the time I missed doting on her.  I watched all my peers get awards one evening, in this hall, while I sat alone in the vacating rows waiting for my turn to step forward for recognition of what I had done the previous year. That was hard: being honoured for what I used to achieve, opposed to what I had (not) achieved that year. How tragic to be the only one left in a long bank of seats with the whole crowd curious as to why that one boy had not walked up on stage as well.  And there was the making of the Glenn Gould video for the History Fair: just my sister and cousin up on stage shooting, me pretending to be someone at the Steinway, gloves and pill bottles and solitude and a stage full of eerie past-performer energies that spooked us all as we looked out into the dark, cavernous, silent auditorium.  Sitting in Dad’s office, or the greenroom doing homework, walking or, as was briefly the case, scootering, around the backstage and basement halls like I owned the place.  Playing the magnificent organ, just me and my Dad, after all the work he had done to get it into the hall where it belonged.  My twelve-year-old self singing Karaoke of Marilyn Manson’s version of Sweet Dreams at the office Christmas party.  Feeling a hidden burn of dignity in telling acquaintances who my father was and all the access I had to that incredible facility and its life affirming performances.  I took it all for granted and I cherish it now.

I started playing piano again, properly, just the other day.  I had never been able to step away, all the years since lessons ended and music as a past time and a responsibility ebbed away.  I always had a set of keys nearby, never felt whole without them near. And I never really played all that well. I never really put in the effort or understood. I suppose I took it for granted.  Looking forward now I cannot see myself not being a pianist.  I require it, my identity is dependent upon it, so I might as well be good at it and not just a peripheral player who always wishes but never realizes.  So I bought this pass to the Symphony and I got this ticket to an entirely unremarkable imitation Italian pops concert.  Ah well.  So it was an excusably unremarkable beginning to a season of delights and it was palpably right to be back in that building.  I can feel this part of me bolstered and certain now.  Music, as a performer and a patron of, is necessary for me to feel whole. I will make time for it in my life and I will learn to take it for granted.  Living else wise leaves me feeling powerless.  It must become a given again. It is just what one does.

The trouble is I have been utterly distracted by it.  Spending hours a day hastily and methodically relearning what was lost over time.  I must balance it out now, it could too easily become an excuse to not do what must be done in the day and I cannot see it spoilt so.  I mean to say I had a weekend full of essential, scheduled study that was all part of my self-discipline attempts and that was all lost to obsessive piano practice and nostalgia and distraction.  It was not what I had planned to spend my weekend doing.  Now it is Tuesday.  I have done nothing. I have not been to class, mind, this morning’s was canceled, and I was late getting in some work yesterday afternoon.  It feels terrible. I feels like it is all for naught.

It was Hallowe’en yesterday. It broke my heart. I used to leap at it, it used to fill my October with childhood dreams of creating the most legitimately spooky haunted house on the block. We would rent hazers and I begged Santa for my own fog machine, which turned out to be the greatest christmas present, and there were all the lights and the motion sensor my Dad had built for us in the old house. I could care less about the candy: Hallowe’en was about defining a space, and an experiential journey that every visitor got to take part and pleasure in. And I was aware of that fact the whole time. It was never about decorating. It was about taking someone on a self-guided journey into their own imagination by way of the stepping stones I laid out before them between the street and the glowing promise of candy at the door.  Dry-ice, props, multiple music and sound-effect sources, 30 carved pumpkins, blacklights, fences, tombstones… it had more than one child crying and I always gauged the success by that.  But to be 23, living with your parents for economic reasons and feeling guilty about not wanting to grow-up to become some cog like the rest of the population, actually makes it impossible to enjoy decorating your childhood home.  Although there was a spontaneous bout of wiring and lighting and my Mom, as excited as she used to be, with her handmade decorations coming out full force, that occurred late the evening after we had each carved a pumpkin.  I had a big smile on my face, it was the happiest I had felt in weeks and it lasted for a few glorious moments before I slipped back into the incapacitating (and entirely unjustified) weight of emasculation my current living arrangements and lack of studying have created.

So the weekend was not a total waste, not by any means. I spent one entire morning, midnight to seven, watching a BBC miniseries based on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which, although very enjoyable, left me churning the question of duality and hedonism and the essential balance between one’s good and evil sides to fully realize their greatest individual potential as a sexual, creative, and passionately flawed human.  It is hard to foster a healthy hedonistic appetite while living with your parents. Really must work on that. It is driving me insane that I am not.  And I did make great progress with my musical self-definition.  But it is nearly mid-week and I hate having to stoop to getting a degree. It is all so bloody vocational! How common!

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The NeverEnding Story & Labyrinth & The Last Unicorn

I remember channel surfing as a child, with my little sister, and catching The NeverEnding Story on TV.  There are nostalgic musical and enduring thematic elements that still tug at my heartstrings, leaving me longing for simpler times and films filled with live-action and puppets and make-believe rather than CG and chromakey compositing. The Childlike Empress will always be my first true love: for as many literal as intentionally metaphoric reasons.

An advance in technology seldom corresponds with an equal, or any, advance in the ability to effectively tell a stirring story. Different technologies are suited to different means of communication, they are not all equivalent and should not be used interchangeably. Sometimes a text-message will not suffice and neither will an email or a phone call or even a handwritten letter, and a face-to-face meeting becomes essential to communicate effectively and exchange an experience on a deeper, human level. I think that is what older art forms still provide. Puppets and masks and shadows are cognitively interpreted as being direct results of human action and take on a deeper, allegorical significance that transcends what can be expressed with an unobstructed actor or an animation. There is a real magic in how we process what we are being presented when we know there is a human determining the action in real-time: behind every action is not only a human but a deeper intention, an archetype or metaphor that can be approached by our mind without the obstructive human in the way (i.e. no human to judge or judge ourselves against and therefore a pure sentiment of an idea embodied in a character), but with the knowledge that a human is its causation the intention becomes significant, and therein lies the magic.

We have given up so much so casually: letter writing, parlour games, genuine immediate geographic community (not the community we imagine we have thanks to automobiles), recitation, poetry, the arts as oxygen not as an outing, storytelling, puppets in movies, the list goes on… But perhaps there will be a renaissance. I think I can feel a pack of us tiring of trying to make social media and text-messaging significant (if you think it is significant you are kidding yourself). Unfortunately for you it is significant to data-mined corporate advertising tactics dressed up to look like ‘customized’ versions of reality handed to each of us. Unfortunately for humanity the range of that function zeroes out awfully fast and any diversity of thought and viewpoint is reduced down to what is spooned into your eyes and ears by some faceless entity trying to make a buck.

The trouble is our society has lodged itself between two mirrors and while we think there is progress there is only the same infinite expanse and reflections of tripe we have always been starring out at: mistaking it for freedom, determined to live and die for it, god and country, etc.. So nothing has really changed.  But why would you ever trade reminding a person you love them, face-to-face,  or cheapen it, by sending them a text message to that effect?  But we do, we do it every day, we take the puppets out of kids’ movies and give them sterilized animations with no humanity in sight and we text each other while in the same room.  We put in earbuds and dislocate our visual stimuli from our aural reality, giving neither its due attention.  We take videos of fireworks!  It is okay to play with these toys, we have to play to learn how to use them appropriately, but please remember that you are just playing (yes, I see you, with the bluetooth-earpiece, strutting around the mall, appearing serious: you big joke!)  and keep conscious of what is truly important.

Labyrinth is another film that has me realizing what we have given up in art for young audiences.  There is such a different emotional-imaginative connection required to relate to a puppet-character than a purely graphical character.  There is a different, and I feel more lastingly significant, set of premises posited by the use of puppets that demands a specific suspension of disbelief that is just not, even remotely, touched by blending animation with live-action.  With animation there is no tactility, no genuine volume to the bodies, and this difference can be felt even after flattening the stage down to the two dimensions of a screen: we can still tell a real physical object from a graphic object.

That said, there is something uniquely astounding about animation when used on its own.  I think it breaks down when mixed with live-action, I think those two realities rip each other apart, even in a film like Waking Life. The gimmick is academically useful but as far as moving an audience I have not found that it succeeds.  Here is an animated film that a lot of us 80’s babies will remember and it is really quite singular, it came out of nowhere and touched a lot of little imaginations.  I am referring, of course, to The Last Unicorn (it will not embed, but just click through to YouTube).

***

Let it stand that I can only respond accurately to my own childhood experience and not that of earlier or later generations, and it is all socio-econimically dependent anyhow.  That said, I feel like there was a special convergence in the 80’s and 90’s where parents dedicated themselves to the enrichment and active time-together loving of their children in a way unfathomable to previous generations, and I think the current generation sees too much of Mom and Dad on computers and cellphones and at work and not enough of them with books and pens and finger-paints.

And I realize how hypocritical it is to bash social media on a blog, but I am trying to understand the relevance of all these things in my life and which are worth my time. Right now I can say blogging is a useful means of keeping an editable relational diary that can include external media content and direct links to online versions of real content. Blogging is not only really cool as an extraordinary and historically unprecedented means of record keeping but also as a way to build a diversified relic of one’s self while stitching together the intangible fragments of who they are.

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Starting

I come from a community, a generation, where every special kid around me, myself included, was told they could be anything they wanted.  While this idea is more well-intentioned than accurate I have experienced enough to justify the following related conviction: the idea of ‘being whatever you want to be’ is a misguided bastardization of ‘being exactly who you are’.  This reworking of the concept was used by babyboomer-parents to the unintended ends of creating a selfentitled demographic that genuinely, innocently, believes the world owes them a living.

Since High School, to avoid this false-dependence, I have systematically stripped myself down to an objective shell, narrowly avoiding losing myself completely. From a constant pursuit to dissolve all external loci of control, save for dwindling linchpin touchstones, and internalize, reclaim, my own personal power, a blank social canvas awaits my pail of a posteriori fragments of the Real: collected to construct an individual mythology, free from the limiting arrogance that I will ever know anything that cannot be challenged and evolved.

I have a love-hate relationship with computers.  I love the ingenious mechanics and generality, the precision and promise (well done Homo faber). But I baulk at infant technologies that, in sympathetic response to fear begat loneliness and greed and the corporations that control the governments and cannibalize the masses, are abstracting global ethnography and taking unavoidable advantage of a frightfully ignorant population. I have decided to get to know this apparently monumental force, and the people that tickle and are tickled by it. But since finally settling, because, for anyone with a breadth of interests, it truly is settling, on a Major in Computer Science I realize that, no matter how impassioned, I am still fighting the uphill battle of learning how to learn (I’ll speak to Grade Schools’ failings another time…) but ultimately remembering that we ought to always be learning how to learn.

I am at square one and this will all unfold as it is meant to. You are just another human like me, fearful, instinctual, sexual, creative, and capable of unfathomable good and evil. If you are curious how this plays out for my selfish self then check back the day after tomorrow. I will likely be more honest than I ought to be and I will likely look like I am tripping in front of you with every post. But if we are not honest enough to be uncomfortable and if we cannot trip in front of an audience and stand up smiling then we are not alive.

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