I have a photobooth thing when I travel; I think it’s uncanny how a too-early or too-late flight can just expose everything you’re thinking about on your face.
Here I look like not-myself, because I think I’m trying to make the face I make at the mirror, which is always kind of grotesque for everyone.
This coat was ruined 12 hours later when I drank an entire bottle of Chardonnay, went to a party where I knew no one, and woke up covered in various kinds of cake icing. My friends tolerate this because I get to embarrass them so infrequently now.
YVR Airport, Vancouver, morning-ish, outside of a Tim Hortons where I broke a $20 bill on a small coffee to get change to buy these photos.
I think my dad is really, really cool. Whenever I’m home I go through his old photos and random younger days stuff like a total child. His basement is pretty much a museum of the Arctic in the 1970s and 1980s, and growing up around all those artifacts has made me fascinated by the North. This Christmas I started picking out my favourite photos from his adventures to scan and post here, but by the time I finished going through two cigar boxes of loose photos and a couple albums I had a giant pile of photographs. So instead of posting them here I made a whole other blog for them: My Dad, The Adventurer.
He never really found out what I was doing with all those photos, but mostly because it was like:
Dad: What’re you doing? Me:[not looking up] Project. Dad:[equally distracted by TV] There any ice cream left? Me:I dunno I don’t eat ice cream. Dad: Hey, did you say you want a project? You can go through my RCMP trunks when you come visit next time. See what’s in there. I don’t even know what’s in there. Me: Can we have caribou for dinner tomorrow? Dad: Survived off caribou for five years in the North. Beef was too expensive and the caribou was free, so we ate caribou. I don’t like killing, though. That part’s hard. I was never a hunter. You do that up North because you gotta eat, but I’m not a hunter. The caribou is a big roast; I have moose and deer, small steaks for two. Me:[holding photo] Dad, what is this? Dad: Oh, I was 21, that’s Nova Scotia. I was directing traffic in my diver’s suit there because– Me: –Because? Dad:[is now watching the news] Me: DAD. Dad: Hey, can you see if there’s any ice cream?
Below is my favourite set of the photos I found, from a camping trip when my dad worked at a house for troubled youth before joining the RCMP. Photos taken April, 1965 in British Columbia and Jasper, Alberta.
I have already watched this four times tonight because I thought this would be good background music for writing a gloomy sestina about earthquakes, but then I’m like how can this poem have any emotion if I am not sweating in the face and gliding manically across the floor and throwing myself to the ground–just hammering all of my feeling into that floor–and where are the girls screaming, I should be throwing myself on the floor so they know I felt it! I cannot write this if I am not screaming! And where are my backup dancers and how can I write a poem about earthquakes without any sweat or screams or pomade.
1. Big Star – “Thirteen”
2. Van Morrison – “Sweet Thing”
3. Neil Young – “Hey Babe”
4. The Seeds – “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”
5. T.Rex – “Jeepster”
6. Neko Case – “That Teenage Feeling”
7. Patsy Cline – “I Fall To Pieces”
Seven songs that felt like December, or have been in my head long enough to make it to the end of the year.
This ended up a much more appropriate length at a certain point, like actual playlist length, but then I cut a dozen or so songs out because some weren’t as true to the things that make the cold worth standing in, and the rest were too much like January feelings. This isn’t really about the calendar months at all.
This is for my dad who did not at all appreciate me writing about this one time I thought my life was maybe in potential danger, like, four years ago, and called me in the middle of the workday to tell me I gave him an anxiety attack and don’t be a dumb kid, but he does like when I draw things, so:
Every time I update my layout or CSS I’m listening to something on repeat forever that manifests itself in whatever colour choices I end up making (Mazzy Star last fall in grey, Guided By Voices in the spring with gold and yellow and coral). This time it’s Beach House, which, I dunno I don’t even really listen to this stuff that much despite how cheeseball indie this paragraph is sounding, but all of a sudden one song on repeat and everything is rose and a dustier rose and a bit of mauve.
The screenshot above is from the tumblr I dump drawings on (when I don’t “dump them in the trash,” my usual reply in some variation twice a week when I come home from class and Nichole asks to see what I painted) which I decided to make all matchy with this site after finding a simple theme I liked better than what I had before. (Okay, so mostly it was just easier to customize, whatever.)
The first drawing reminds me of my friend Nick, whom I used to work with in Montreal. I haven’t spoken to him in the longest time for the longest reasons, but he’s one of my favourite people. Here’s an anticlimactic story for you: the drawing doesn’t look like him to me now, but at the wine-and-candlelit time during one of our (former) art nights with Alex I was drawing this dude and just–well shit, there’s kinda Nick! Then I spent the rest of the night drawing hands because we were too busy talking about important adult things such as whether we should order pizza.
This is my favourite gif ever. I have no idea what it’s from (I mean, besides, like, four hundred tumblrs) but I could just watch if for hours or at least like 20 minutes without looking away.
The moon seems to be a recurring motif in what I write, when I’m trying to write seriously, although maybe you don’t notice since most of it ends up being like, blah blah blah extended metaphor relating to the boy at work I have a crush on blah blah blah cryptic phrasing so I just leave those as private because the stuff I’ve left publicly on the internet is already embarrassing enough.
But what I mean is, like you know how there are girls in high school who just really love dolphins? Like they had the dolphin necklace from Claire’s, and wanted to be marine biologists as children, and their dream vacation was anywhere with a dolphin tank, and when they looked old enough to get a tattoo they paid someone to put a terrible dolphin on their ankle forever? Sometimes I’m just talking to someone about how awesome Las Vegas is (it’s not) and the whole time I’m like, I bet you totally loved dolphins in high school.*
Yeah, so I think I’m a weird moon girl.
Today I texted Nichole, the moon is so giant and yellow i wish i was a moon–which, I know, I just hated on dolphin girls so hard for being total freaks–but immediately after sending that garbage I was like wait, I think I actually really am just living in a giant moon analogy. And I thought I would maybe write about that and be super cryptic and wait for my sister to tell me I broke her brain. And I probably still will (as I have before), but instead I pulled up this gif and watched it for 20 minutes while writing this, just a fraction of an orbit on infinite loop.
* Sorry to any dolphin girls reading. If it makes you feel any better I’m like insane-obsessed with whales if you ever wanna just go to Sea World and talk it out
We slept on the floor of the Burlington, Vermont airport while a snowstorm delayed our flight to New York into the late evening if at all. I am 22 and working minimum wage so I couldn’t afford a direct flight. Cori and I take the bus from Montreal to Vermont so the flight would be domestic, and very cheap. We had found a sublet on Craigslist that seemed only medium-sketchy, but it didn’t require a deposit so we made a promise to the owner to show up and she sent a polite note back with a number to call when we arrived.
We got to the Lower East Side apartment just before 1am. We had taken a lot of cash out in Vermont so in the safety of the dark, recessed stairs in front of the apartment we counted enough American bills out of our bank envelopes to pay for the sublet and put the rest in our wallets. We called the phone number we were given. We were told a buzzer number which we pushed, were let in, and went up to the meet the friend of the woman we were subletting from.
He was a 40-ish man named Jean-Paul with a closely shaved head and the grizzled New York accent and street speech of a Scorsese lead. He had a bulky leather jacket on, ready to leave.
Jean-Paul gave us way too many details about where he would be spending the nights while we were staying at his place (“with a close female friend Uptown, maybe staying at another friend’s on Saturday night–I dunno, I’ll be around, okay?”) but ambiguous details on the actual apartment (“so bathroom light’s kinda fucked–pardon my French”). He gestured to where the keys were, an extra blanket, and if we want to do drugs it’s our business but please be discrete and quiet and clean up after yourselves. We laughed awkwardly and let him know we weren’t going to be doing any drugs.
He asked us if we were eighteen. We stiffened; a shorter round of awkward laughter. He made only half of an attempt to explain why he needed to know. Yeah, and one more thing, he said, it’s still New York; never count your money in the street. He looked at us deeply to gauge our reactions and paused. He picked up the remote, took a calculated aim at the television, and pressed the power button deeply. The old screen lit up with an ominous delay. I noticed a simple hand-inked tattoo on his hand. He stood between us and the door, his legs shoulder-width apart.
The sounds of: lightbulbs firing behind the television; heavy, scattered breathing from the Scorsese-esque man; my pulse, loud like under a stethoscope. The man shifts his weight, then broadens his shoulders almost imperceptibly, the leather of his jacket whipping and ringing in alarm.
A black-and-white channel appears, the composite of four square surveillance camera feeds. At the bottom-left the camera is focused on the apartment’s entryway, where we had counted out the money for the sublet, and filed the rest of our spending money for the trip into our wallets. He had been watching the screen before we arrived and knew exactly how much money each of us was holding. I turn white. The TV snaps off and the screen goes black.
. . .
After Jean-Paul left, Cori told me she did not notice a single sign that supported my absolute conviction that we just narrowly escaped murder. I proceeded to ruin whatever sleep she was expecting to get that night with my completely unfounded paranoia. I convinced her that there was a surveillance camera in the apartment somewhere that he was watching at that very moment–I also said this in barely a whisper due to my complete certainty that the apartment was bugged. I told her about his prison tattoo, that the dozens and dozens of Catholic icons, photographs of the Pope, and other religious items around the house were the deliberate props of a killer, and that we would probably be murdered that night. I wrote my sister to not tell my parents where I am but if I don’t text her again by 9am to call the police. Never text that to your younger sister.
I fell asleep within an hour.
The next morning Laura and Ruby arrived and the idea of Jean-Paul as a killer seemed a lot less plausible as we attempted to retell the story. Here was a man who had a tough life and found God! Here is an honest person with a good apartment in Manhattan who needs to pay the rent somehow, he’s not a hotel proprietor! He was just looking after our safety! I felt like the worst kind of person.
The four of us spent three nights covering every sleepable surface of that one-bedroom apartment for $25 each a night. The bathroom light never turned on so we showered in pitch black. I walked one of the less-famous bridges to Brooklyn in the afternoon because I couldn’t afford the subway. I spent my last $20 on a second-hand leather jacket I left in Montreal when I moved, and bought a pair of shoes on my credit card that I still wear often.
That night I stayed in with Laura watching The Apartment–black and white, although it turned out to be a colour TV–and I completely forgot that there ever was a Scorsese New York.
My dad told me never to talk about money, because it’s only ever somewhere between crass and uncomfortable, so in complete defiance of that advice, when I discovered The Billfold I immediately begged Jordan to let me blab about money to her and she let me so now there is this. This all happened a few months ago but, well, y’know.
Almost two months ago I went on a camping road trip with my pals from Montreal, which made it really hard to care about the internet at all after getting back, and a lot easier to think about when can I use my sleeping bag next or when will I get in a tent again and when I do these things would I prefer to be near a creek or under trees or both.
We met up in Austin, got depression-era hobo symbol tattoos (sorry, mom), drank Texas beers, drove to Marfa, tried to see the mystery lights, cried over the Milky Way instead, drove to Roswell, pitched camp in a lightening storm in the middle of the night and nowhere, didn’t die, drove to the Grand Canyon, speechless, drove to Sedona, drove back to the Grand Canyon, ran out of money, drove to Vegas for a 40 minute stop, decided to stay in Vegas, rode a rollercoaster, drove past LA whereupon I decided I probably wasn’t going home anyway, drove to San Francisco, drove around San Francisco, got paid, returned the van, drank Mexican beers, flew home on a last-minute flight and did laundry.
I love my friends so deeply.
Billy at the Marfa Prada, our very first obligatory tourist destination. Minutes later two girls would pull up and I asked them to take our photo as a group. The girl holding my camera would say to her friend, ‘Dude.’ She then went on to take one terrible photo of us, turned to her friend and finished with, ‘I think I just smoked all our weed.’ By then she had forgotten why she was holding my camera so she took one more terrible photo and gave it back.
We had our own private spot at the Grand Canyon, which seems like a very small private spot in this photo but it was about a quarter mile of one of the most-visited attractions in America–completely gifted to us!–so we just stared out from every possible vantage point you could stand in and each time we went whoa and Billy took his shirt off and we took about a trillion photos between the five of us and even after an hour and a half we couldn’t believe we were alone with the Grand Canyon so we said whoa again and then said nothing else for the rest of the afternoon.
Klee walking up the steps to Marfa City Hall
Marfa City Hall. I like this photo better than the group shot where Klee’s not distracted by taking a photo because it makes the rest of us seem a lot more honest.
Marfa’s business district (actually)
Melissa in Sedona, where we think we probably, very possibly, only maybe found a vortex
My favourite photo of us, because it looks like we’re a failed grunge band from the Pacific Northwest, but this is actually Sedona, Arizona, at 8am, just after tearing down our campsite and a few hours before we would gamble exactly one dollar during a spontaneous night spent in Las Vegas.
I’m such a troll when it comes to design. I keep anything I might want to later reference as a +1 in Google (yep, still the only person using Google Plus) so when Miss Moss posted some of Lisa Hedge’s work for Warby Parker I saved the link then later pretty much ripped off the entire type and layout for a personal dinner party invitation. The result isn’t as graceful as Lisa’s and looks a bit too modern to use the 1912 map–actually, I did some seriously egregious design time travel here–but I like how the fake hand-coloured map turned out regardless of anachronisms.
I love where I live because I have this weird fascination with the 110 freeway in Los Angeles. Sometimes I just fall into a weird 110 history k-hole where I look up proposed routes and early photos. I’m not especially interested in roadways otherwise, but with the Arroyo Seco Parkway it’s more how many of the original features were kept, such as the merge-from-a-stops, sharp exit turns, the very-few lanes, and that the whole thing from downtown LA to Pasadena is a pretty scenic ride compared to any other highway in Los Angeles. A friend of mine also pointed out the 110 has some pretty elegant curves and narrower lanes making the whole thing more intimate, so it’s nice to know others are enjoying the drive in the same way.
Anyway, I’m not sure if this is about heavy-handed design inspiration or the highway, but here’s the invite. I changed any personal details so no stalkers, pls.