cigar-tin stories number eighty four // i never sleep

Spring, and getting warmer. It seems like I never sleep. The drifting classes are all over Princess Street, spectating and standing around. Some have spotted dogs. Fat kids in pink corduroy try to eat giant chocolate bars that are too big for their hands and mouths. Silver foil litters the sidewalk. Why are their feet so tiny? A woman with her head in some kind of decorative net tries and fails to walk and cough at the same time; she keeps having to stop and fling herself around. The cough itself is an animal, ugly and wet, the kind of cough they use as shorthand on television when someone’s going to die from cancer. A million years ago, in some remembered lifetime, a guy I used to work with enjoyed teasing me about dying from cancer someday. It was just something he did. He had been a Thalidomide baby, so now he’d use his stunted arms and sardonic mind to mimic a cancer guy having to talk with a robotic voice through a hole in his throat. It always made him laugh. One day, after a bunch of us had gone out for lunch, he hopped around to the back of my car where another guy was getting out his wheelchair, but instead of handing it over this other guy rolled it away from him, across the parking lot, making him chase it on his undersized legs. We all laughed and laughed. We were real monsters then, I guess. Now I can always be interrupted and I never ask for anything. A friend of mine says I use this as a pretext to complain about not getting help but the last thing i want is the unwashed grip of someone’s grubby opinion. In front of me, a cross-eyed man with a red beard and a bad limp jaywalks at the intersection. He has on one of those caps that seems to invite unwanted violence. A truck with decorative flames on its front grill drives by playing Spoonman loud enough to make people look up from their phones. Temporarily. What a ridiculous song––the musical equivalent of pouring maple syrup down a snake pit. The truck rattles like a tin of dishes. The night before I’d dreamt about a woman with a yellow onion for a head. In fact, it was only half an onion, with the flat side presented instead of a face. In the dream we’d talked about that at some length, this business of having no face, and the whole time she’d sat there with a lit cigarette in her hand. The room next door with filled with greyness. At some point, too, there was the buzzing open concept modern plan pinball foosball soft chair tumbled over thing, all around us, and these slumping young adults. I have absolutely no opinion. As a rule. With spring all the storylines start splaying and crossing. In front of me is a guy on a bike so obviously stolen that I can’t believe he doesn’t burst into flames. He stares straight ahead, betraying nothing––some kind of internal cathedral. There are oceans of data out there but this guy is in his own little world. I wonder what that must be like.

Oh, and Happy Easter.
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

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noise, with numbers / / cigar-tin stories seventy-four

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A bit of a hard winter so far. Deep cracks in my feet, sudden dots of blood on my hands appear with determined frequency. Still struggling with posture. One night at the studio all the lights go out, as if I need instruction on how tenuous everything is. Need to drink more water. Drivers around Kingston are making up lanes. An app on my phone reminds me that someday I will die. In the meantime, I’m still making work.

For now, I guess,
djb

Draw things, paint things, write things, make things.

The Reverie

the_reverie1x

The Reverie; mixed media, cradled wood panel, 18 x 24 x 1.75 inches. More pictures here.

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A Sunday trip to the library morphs into a broken conversation with a shrugging security guard about a locked door –– “It’s summer hours,” she explains. “But you can still use the book return!” Hooray. So Oona and I wander the mall for awhile, waiting on mom to do some shopping. Almost instantly I find myself in Claire’s, where I get conned into buying a two-piece charm bracelet that reads BEST FRIENDS. “I’ll make my bed, daddy,” Oona lies, because that’s her currency instead of money. I shrug. I give in. BEST FRIENDS. Then we wander some more. Everyone looks like extras from a pirate movie; there are limps, eye patches, tattoos, blindness, crutches, more blindness, hips where hips don’t belong, brown and blue teeth, horizontal facial scars, missing fingers, invented hairstyles, ballooning outfits with stars on them. The psychic weight is crushing.

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Halfway through my morning shower, the water pressure falls by half and my entire world view reasserts itself, comes into focus: people are going to do what they are going to do. Certainly I can storm upstairs, half-soaped and fully crazed, and ask, Are we all done running water yet? Certainly right is right. But where does that kind of thinking get me? Right is never right. These days, ‘right’ is more of a shrug. The whole reason I get up first in the morning, long before anyone else, is to go around problems like this. And going around these things, I think, is the key. A guy comes into my office with some marked-up photocopy of a job that I’ve never seen and says, I don’t have any of the text or pictures for this, how long will it take to do? Certainly, How about never? feels about right. But then he’s going lose his nut, and sooner than later I’ll have my manager in my office, bursting at the hairline trying to manage something. So I say, Leave it with me, let me take a better look at it, I’m just having some computer issues right now, and I just have this other job to finish first, there’s this thing with this other person tomorrow, but I’ll get to it as soon as I can. And then I take a long lunch, and leave early, and the day after that I’m on holiday for a week.

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Listening to Naomi Klein on Democracy Now!, and the interlude music is some Ani DiFranco song, I might as well be in a dream where it’s 1999 and I’m sitting in front of a red velour curtain in some musty theatre in Winnipeg, and some girl with ripped jeans and dirty hair is explaining to me how wrong I am about everything, and how I really need to read the I Ching and get my teeth fixed.

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I need to start running again. For months this winter I trained for the Limestone 5K, all the way from only being able to run 90 seconds at a time to going the entire distance without pause. I ran every second day, without fail. I ran when there was no one else out there, often late at night, in the cold and the dark. And on the morning of April 30th, in freezing rain, I ran the race. Ta-dah. And then we went to Cuba for a week. And then: June. Goals have a way of deflating themselves.

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It’s the staff barbecue so I take the day off. I believe that work is meant to be work –– not a place to fulfill your dreams, not a place to make best friends, not a place where people know anything about you, not even a place to score free hotdogs. The ideal situation is to be the polite person at the end of the hall with a job description that coworkers don’t understand or care about. Also, if management wants to show me how much they care, then please spend that hotdog money on institutional improvements. How about clean bathrooms? How about coffee in the kitchen? How about air-conditioning? How many mission statements read like conspiracy theory. Anyway, excellence now!

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No real plan in the studio lately. I’d been set to move out –– briefly, there had been a person known to police in the studio next door –– and then the situation resolved itself, and it was if some kind of reset button had been pushed. So I’ve been painting large paintings, with a mind for icons and characters. All painting is therapy, and the works themselves just relics for the cult of beautiful but pointless posterity.

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People walking around downtown in two of three dimensions on a Friday night and I think, Is it Mental Health Week again? Forever? In Kingston, at least. A woman tells me that Jesus loves me. Another is swearing at her two chihuahuas. At least they’re on a leash. The people in front of the McDonalds look like the Apple Dumpling Gang on opioids. Purple gums, yellow fingers.

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It’s summer, I guess. Men walking around in shorts, white chicken leg embarrassment. The women on the cover of the magazines by the checkout have lustrous dark hair parted straight down the middle, their hairlines an inch above the eyebrow. People squinting at things. More humidity than heat. Oona has a final ‘play’ for her acting class; the teachers say the lines for the kids, then the kids repeat them. I guess that’s how we do things now.

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