lone bean.

beans, beans, the magical fruit.

furry heart.

last night i dreamed that i had accidentally left a window wide open in my always-dirty-but-thankfully-bright apartment. i was in the same home that i tumble around in for this year of my real life, however, in the dream my shanty had been transplanted to a much bigger and bulkier city. there were roiling waves of endless grey concrete buildings and tall skyscrapers with pointy hats. there were some trees for balance, but everything looked so muddy. i don’t know if grey is the proper non-colour description or if sepia fits better. i’ve never felt confident with how to properly pronounce ‘sepia’ so i’ve always avoided saying it aloud in conversation.

onward: in this dream, i’m living in a much bigger city but in the comfort of my familiar home. i am looking outside through the kitchen window and into the murky blocks that make a bustle. the screen had been removed from the kitchen window without my knowledge. jiggy, the badass princess cat of the house, takes a flying leap without a shred of hesitation into the urban jungle below. for some reason my otherwise squat apartment sits miles high above the power lines. my heart jumps into my throat and then manages to roll into my mouth as my eyes follow jiggy’s descent. she leaps, funny paws splayed, from rooftop to rooftop. she bounds from window sill to back deck and circles her trail again. she runs like the dickens. suddenly: a live wire loose from a power pole snaps out from the smog and whips my little baby until she sizzles. i watch her twitch and fall from the sky into who-knows-where below.

hysterical and sickened, i reel into some kind of mad run around the apartment trying to figure out what to do next. i can’t leave little jig’s limp fluff outside to be swept away by the careless push-and-shove. i can’t stomach the idea of going to find her in a sad, lightless heap. strangers in my house (why are there strangers in my house?) encourage me to find the little one so that we may host a proper farewell ceremony to celebrate her short and mischievous life. so i put on my raincoat and am led to block after spinning block of confusion. the street signs are nowhere to be found, so i simply look everywhere until my legs are aching violently and my rubber boots are puddled with blood. i thought i could figure out jiggy’s whereabouts on foot. i was wrong and i am disappointed and my chest hurts and my whole soul is churning with regret. eventually i conclude that whatever life left in her convinced her to slink into a private nook for her last heavy breaths. chilled, damp, bloodied and oddly comforted, i trudge home.

when i come home, i need a small space for comfort. i try curling on my bed with pillows all around me like a feathered fence and that doesn’t feel right. i try sitting in-between chairs or under the kitchen table but nothing feels enclosed enough. i settle on rolling under my bed for some darkness and quietude. as i wriggle my way through the blanket curtain that dangles above me, i spy a grey and brown furball, wide-eyed and breathless, simply sitting and panting underneath my futon. jiggy and i made eye contact and she just burns a hole through me as she pants and my face swells up and turns purple and all of the ugly tears sprout, springing from my eye sockets. we lay awkwardly underneath my bed like old friends who didn’t really know how to speak to one another anymore.

the dream then warped into a kind-of sugary-sweet kitty roll-around playday hayday. we rumpled in blankets and lemmi joined in and they played with their favorite dinky car. the window was closed and the city stayed grey and mucky but we were a tumbleweed of fur and hair and smiles and little paws. then cassie came home and asked me who had thought to bring jiggy home? how did they know where she lived and how to get in? should we be concerned that there’s a good-deed kitty-rescuer on the loose who might decide to rape us since he definitely knows how to access our apartment? we should probably freak out about this.

i woke up to jiggy stomping on my belly and chest and alternating between licking my nose and punching me in the face with her head. best alarm clock that’s ever broken my heart.

treats?

treats?

huff and hush.

smothered lungs and gut-stuck.

roll purple-lined eyes again: i dare you.

you, who gives no shits for things that droop

beyond the fence of gains in grey, taupe or beige.

your sterile home, your glimmering wares, your angular haircut.

everything must have a proper place.

 

do you now suck the smoke that marks a former hatred?

six years of splattered insults, infectious, blood-thick battles

for the sky-scraper pedestal that father tradition told YOU to take.

in unwelcome acquaintance with the leper, whose flesh breathes no porous

patience, you cling to one another in righteousness.

 

make certain to thank Him for this freshest breeze:

the current state of enmeshed friendship.

rhyme off agreements about Jesus,

favoured aprons,

tea flavours

and what sort of jewelry goes best with black.

everything is in its proper place.

 

except the nasty, gnarled leper

(a tragic tale on misplaced perfection)

who, when you turn to shake your head in holiness,

picks her nose silently and sling-shoots snot so that it bounces

gently off of your dyed, coiffed tresses and nestles itself into the grains

of your immaculate,

polished,

maple

floor.

 

 

blocked crock.

feels like i’ve got a pretty aggressive case of writer’s block (see also: brain fart). it’s been challenging sitting and stewing and spewing out garbage heaps of useless or uncommunicative or boring or typical words. i’m going to blame it, somewhat, on the fact that i managed to sprain my neck while washing my face two months ago. such a clumsy event surely symbolizes some kind of temporary inability to function fully as a previously-engaged and passionate person.

anyway.

writer’s block! wasn’t even thinking about it when i fell upon a book called ‘642 things to write about’.  i had been wasting time in a coles book store before having to endure some form of mundane appointment-type event later in the day…and maybe i was walking off the pain au chocolate i sucked back at two if by sea. normally i feel a little (a lot) guilty for throwing what funds i do make for myself at big brand book and art supply stores, especially when there are so many incredible local bookshops and crafty businesses around and about my swell city. so, the new journal stock caught my attention and maybe sometimes i just like to know what’s cool to read for the general public, okay? maybe ‘heather’s picks’ have often sent me in a positive and enlightening direction in terms of leisurely read suggestions! the journals were sparkling and bedroom-eyeing me as i pictured them stacked high and tattered on my wobbly side table. to give the surrounding area equal value (fairness) of my eye time, i quickly shot through the auto-biography-type, create-your-own-adventure journals and fell upon this. it’s pretty straight forward, and i wonder if i simply could have just found a crap ton of things to write about for free online, but it’s kind of nice to have 642 ideas to poke the ole’ mushy pink boss that tells me what to do.

i’m writing about one or two ideas a day. i haven’t been using the book, yet, for the sake of elaboration, but i could see it happening. i know a cusp when i feel one. frantic early morning scribbles may be eligible for later-days edit grumps, but for now i am enjoying the method where i roll into or out of bed and throw down some sleepy ink with no review. it feels mighty good to let go of self-loathing pressure to write something i’d want to read if someone else made it up.

while i was away with some friends earlier this week, i thought it might be a neat idea to show them a little bit of what i’d been writing down. it was the first time i’d even re-read anything at all put down in the book, and while i am super-amused, i am vulnerably aware that writer’s block hasn’t left me fresh yet.

without further hesitation, here’s some crap that i said about what losing your memory might feel like. enjoy!

*****

beige slush murks what once was bleeding blues.

it sounds like a wing with the sun behind the bird.

family makes figurative fists never meant to brush your face.

it’s like enjoying a hearty meal – chewing slowly – but then suddenly becoming so distracted that you can’t swallow your meal. all that’s left is your cud wrapped in a sheet of bounty.

swirling, muffled laughter spills out of a porcelain, pink sink.

*****

i guess i should look on the bright side: it’s not often that i use the word ‘cud’. maybe there’s a little bit of inspira-light fluttering through my cracked-clay imagination after all. maybe i’ve somehow stolen i have to say from something i’ve read from someone else. i don’t care too much. i just want you to laugh with me.

when it snows.

snow days used to mean magical things to me as a little bean on the north side. living directly on the harbour came with curvy waves of snow banks that lurked up half the height of my parents’ small house. the chimney didn’t exist on a snow day, save to shoot smoke up from the guts of our big-belly wood stove. the stove has a face that either looks like a very rotund man with a kind-of creepy pringles-man-type mustache, or like a stereotypical representation of a jolly sun-god. my sister and i would tramp and trundle in from the side entrance and directly into the unfinished and probably haunted basement because mom would legitimately murder us if we dampened the living room. there was no banister going down the basement stairs, so one had to take extra caution when creeping down in snow-packed boots. one misstep and someone’s going to get the wind knocked out of them. once successfully on stable cement, the shake down would commence. i’m pretty sure my favorite part of drying out was picking the huge clumps of snow that would glob onto my hair like melting gum. it was also super fun to kick your snow boots off as hard as you could to see how far they’d fly across the room. we’d lug our dripping hats and mittens back upstairs and lay them flat next to the hot stove. i was always terrified to put my fleeces and woollens directly onto the stove itself after a mishap at four years old when i tried to ‘clean’ the living room for dad when mom was away on a work trip. i had lined the television remote up with the vents of the stove itself, thinking that it looked neater than leaving it on the floor or losing it to the mushy couch. the remote melted and i learned about heat and plastics. anyway. the woolies didn’t go on the stove. hot chocolate went into the bellies if friends were over for post-sledding snacks and warm-ups. super nintendo was a pretty good way to limber up frozen fingers.

but before any of that post-play release, there had to be cause for exhaustion. this depended entirely on the consistency of the snow and whooshy-ness of the wind. puffy snow and huffy wind? you’re gonna have a bad time with that crazy carpet, little one. you’ll probably get a cut across your face when the wind picks it up and slides it like a paper cut across your chubby cheeks. damp and sticky snow? build something! make yard art. make some for the neighbours. and make a fort and as many snowballs as possible because you know the boys who live down the street are going to try to make you miserable later. it is nighttime? beg your parents to take you to the golf course and invite the friend who owns a GT snow racer…clearly santa likes him way more…not that you’re bitter or anything…huge snow drifts are for burrowing and chopping away at complicated tunnels. also: your tunnel has to have either a cool thing that happens when you reach the end, providing that it doesn’t collapse on your head. if it’s super cold and icy, bring your skates to munroe park and skid across the massive frozen puddle that, months ago, was a soccer field. fall over from the wind. eat a bunch of snow! don’t eat the yellow stuff. and wherever you walk, slide your feet and pretend like everything is a rink. do. not. let. anyone. steal. your. sled. cardinal rule. and when you run inside convinced that you will surely pee yourself if this one-piece monstrosity had any more buckles, you better believe you’re going to dive back into that damp sucker and continue the day sliding on your bum. pray that the neighbour doesn’t tell his parents that you accidentally hit him with a chunk of ice.

when you grow older, a snow day will be the most relieving break from school. your friends (though they might be 16 years old and otherwise too cool to play) will throw themselves downhill and will still go skating on the frozen puddle that’s still there in the middle of the soccer field. dope will do a pocket run and everyone will cringe and then secretly hope that he does another one. or five? (fyi: a pocket run is exactly what it sounds to be – you put your hands deep in your pants pockets and run down a hill really fast. basically you’re supposed to hope for the best, but you know what you’re getting yourself into if the worst things happen). snow days might mean begging a danger-slide to sydney mines so you can sled the next town over. maybe a snow day is actually a ski day with dad. maybe it’s staying inside.

when you’re an experimental and wildly neurotic third-year english major eating enough vocabulary to inspire a self-diagnosed mean bout of anxieties and expletives (also known to some as ‘bean learns how to be offensively self-centered’), a snow day is a slip-and-slide ankle-busting stomp down graham avenue where you lose a mitten for the sake of a fall. it’s finding a rescue bear buried and dirtied in a mile-high snowbank with bradington. it’s a play rehearsal goes on anyway, folks, because you all live close enough to campus to walk, ya big stupid. it’s getting lost in three feet of snow. it’s dance parties in the middle of the street because no one would drive in this weather. it’s fredericton winter! it’s goddamn intense. it’s so, so fun. it’s so, so cold. your cheeks will hurt from smiling at the ice hanging from your eyelashes. your cheeks will hurt from violent stray strands of wet hair gone frozen. it’s freeing and youthful and fulfilling and yeah you’ll probably never see the snow pants i borrowed from you ever again.

snow days still mean magical things, even if they don’t excuse a day of school or involve really wild underground tunnel-digs. this snow day is a surprise day free of work and responsibilities and all about being an (almost) fully-functional adult in snow pants and sliding around on a garbage bag. spiked hot chocolate and ruddy cheeks. adventure walks to find citadel hill. a valid excuse to fry the entire package of bacon (it’s gotta last all day). i might not shower. i might just dive into my snow suit (sadly no longer a one-piece wonder), throw back a cup of coffee and snow angel the shit out of this day.

boxed cats.

as of recent times, i’ve moved away from my creaky, dingy apartment on the north end of halifax and into a fairly bright and happy shack in the south end.

i feel like i’ve moved twice a year for the last eight years of my life.

there were moves into and out of residence during the undergrad. there were summer sublets on sin street and sweaty trundles home in thunder storms. there was the first real apartment, conveniently located above fredericton’s most notorious bakery (it was a chubby year, that one). there were teeth ground down to nubbins. there were dance parties in filthy, bare feet. there was the discovery of the french press. there were dramatics of the good and also, sometimes, of the bad sort. there was always an opportunity to go home. there were break-ups. there was a communal living arrangement just past the rink and the occasional excuse to cut through harriet irving. there was sickness and then there came halifax. there were hospitals and families and tears of resentment and frustration and, finally, tears of amazement and gratitude. there were fights over the coffee pot. there was the lesson to learn that not all of halifax is really living in halifax. there were roommates and sisters and living alone and travel. there was clayton park (joel plaskett knows how it is). there were large, hot windows that went uncovered for an unacceptably long time. there was a game change in life and there was another one. there were my grandparents’ old sofas. there were naps on the carpet and there was truro. there were needles on the floor upon return and a dozen destroyed spoons. there was shared space. there were arguments about dishes. there will always be arguments about dishes. there was rayman and there were squeals to cover every range of emotion, ever. there was a longing to get smaller and quieter. there was a forum-built friendship. there was a change of heart and there were items to sort, lists to check off. there were so many mice. packing slips. there was a closed door and the worst-sounding doorbell i’ve ever heard. i don’t remember the names of all of my landlords.

then there’s now. there’s quiet and and not-quiet. there are buses that whiz by that make me worry for my clumsy self and the challenges that come with crossing the street. there were two cats in a box, howling their hardest because cats don’t speak english and don’t understand the concept of moving homes when you sit them down and bribe them with tuna snacks. there were claws to the wrists and forgiveness when a carpet and second floor were introduced. there was a little bit of sweat and a sizeable hangover. there was a pounding headache that came with hilarity. there was salt everywhere and there were bittersweet goodbyes. there was that awkward period when everything you own is here, somewhere…there’s the underwear that got packed with the plates. there was the bare futon giving you the stink-eye from the middle of the loft screaming, ‘you will never own a piece of furniture more uncomfortable than meeeeeee’. there was that little bit of the wall that crumbled when you tried to gracefully shove it into your bedroom.

now there are late nights and curling smoke and ten thousand sticks of incense. there are alternating work schedules and everything is electric. there is cat fur bunching, somehow, out of the refrigerator door. there are too many shoes to count. there are forts and books and serious talks and over-analytical discussions about nothing more than rock, paper, scissors. there are two monsters to eat all of these bananas! there’s a common love for bad music and shared distate for john travolta. there’s the danger of lurking burgs (!) and yes you may simply call my sunglasses your own. there’s being home, just like you’ve been home before. and there’s a soft sense of goodness that comes from knowing that you’ll probably move twice a year for the next five years and you’ll always feel like home. and there’s a nice thought.

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