You can care about social justice and care about your own happiness, too.

Let's Queer Things Up!

It feels strange to write a headline like this.

On the one hand, maybe it should be obvious — we all deserve to have joy, pursue meaningful connections and experiences, and invest in our own mental health. But somewhere along the way, I think I forgot what it meant to be happy just for the sake of it. And based on the burnout I’ve seen, I don’t think I’m the only one.

I was talking to my online therapist recently about how (yet again) a post about sexual assault on my Facebook feed had triggered my obsessive-compulsive disorder. When he gently suggested I take a deeper look at my social media usage, the conversation that ensued drudged up a lot of intense realizations about how I view happiness and self-care.

Namely, that I wasn’t giving myself permission to unplug, because I viewed that as betraying my values.

I realized…

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Sex Positive

On a recent Disability After Dark  Andrew Gurza  interviews JoEllen Notte – a noted sex researcher & blogger – about, amongst many things, sex and depression. For some people the two go hand in hand, no matter how good or often the sex. They also talked about some of the assumptions people make about them for being so sex positive. One being is that they have lots of sex and have no problem getting it. Or that must be willing to have sex with anyone – if they decline they are accused of being hypocrites.

Odd how being sex positive turns one into a slut with no discernment and with no boundaries. “Oh sure I’d be super happy to do that with you even though you don’t turn me on and it’s something I’ve never enjoyed.”

In my life I’ve been either shamed for being as sexually active as I am for my age or regarded as a slut with no discernment. In fact I find it difficult to actually talk with anyone about my sex life without them becoming uncomfortable. What I enjoy is pretty vanilla & safe but the fact that do it makes them comfortable or triggered.

In my poetry I’ve written quite directly about many types of sex play. I had to stop performing the few s/m pieces I have because I was getting approached by men (& women) who thought I was a dom top (if you don’t know what that means such is life). An assumption I’d rather not deal with, unless they are willing to cough up $500 an hour.

They also delve into the nature of ‘invisible’ disabilities, such a depression. Many people think depression is feeling down, a sort of emotional draginess that you just can merely snap out of or that one is being self-indulgently lazy by not wanting to get out bed all day, eat for two days, or not take a shower for a week because they are in a bad mood.

Much like alcoholism & other less socially approved addictions there is this sense you just have to pull yourself up by the boot straps & get on with it. It just isn’t that easy or simple. It’s not a matter of being lazy, stupid, weak or stubborn. There are more complex forces at work & what works for one person often does nothing for the next. But I’m not a therapist but this is what I’ve observed.

We live in a culture in which loneliness is terrifying, in which only a ‘loving’ relationship is the way out of loneliness (it isn’t), that sex is the solution for horniness (it isn’t). When these solutions don’t work it often leads to shame, guilt, & depression. It’s as if the fault is our, not a culture that invests so much the wrong solutions as the only solutions.

There is one school of thought, which they don’t fully explore – bad sex is better than no sex at all (I’m not sure how that was researched). I’d argue that having no sex is better than having shamed based sex thinking it’ll make you feel better about yourself and life or for any reason.

I’m sex positive – it is a good thing when we get rid of cultural baggage. Or we get the right baggage to carry it.

(in this rough draft sample Mike & Robert are having a thanksgiving dinner in Montreal. )

A couple of blocks north of St C Mike spotted Cent Milles Brasserie. The chalkboard menu listed meats, vegetables by region and by how far those regions were from Montreal.

“An interesting concept.” Robert said.

“Let’s hope the cost of locally sourced is worth it.”

“As long locally sourced results in good food. I will be most happy.”

The restaurant was done up in a season decor. Pumpkins, gourds bales of hay around the maitre d’ station. Bats on thin wires dangled over the bales.

The evening’s main special was ‘dinde rôtie avec farce aux canneberges’ which, thanks to the drawing on the chalkboard Mike knew was a tradition roast turkey with stuffing. He wasn’t sure what ‘canneberges’ were though but he was willing to find out.

Once they were seated in the window Mike asked. “Shall I order for you as well?”

Robert was reading the menu.

“That won’t be necessary. I most certainly want to try the bière d’érable.”

“Maple beer!”

“Ah, it is not a traditional drink?” Robert asked.

“Not as far as I know. The flavouring of beer is one of those trendy fads. At least I hope it’s a fad.”

“Then we will try it. Another new experience for both of us.” He waved the waiter over and ordered the beer.

“You’re French is amazing.” Mike said.

“I have been speaking it all my life.” Robert said. “As well as English.”

The beers came in tall chilled glasses.

“To your health.” Robert said as they clinked their glasses together.

Each sipped tentatively.

“Ahh a very even taste.” Robert said before taking a larger drink.

Mike did the same. “You know this could become a tradition. It tastes like fall. Maple, a little pine as well.”

“You have a sensitive pallet.”

Mike did the same. “You know this could become a tradition. It tastes like fall. Maple and a little pine as well.”

Robert took another taste. “You have a sensitive pallet.”

“I was afraid it would taste like pancake syrup.”

The waiter brought a covered basket of rolls to the table. “Pain de maïs et frais du four.”

Mike flipped the cover back and the steam brought the smell of the corn bread with it.

“This is why Quebec is called Le Belle Provence.” Robert said as he buttered one of the rolls, broke it half and gave it to Mike. He gestured for Mike wait before eating it. He held his in upturned palm of his right hand. Mike did the same without thinking.

“Merci Mère Marie pour ce repas.” Robert said. He broke off a small piece and put beside his plate.

Mike did the same.

“We will reserve a small morsel for the Grace that brings such abundance into our lives.”

“I see.” Mike said. “I’ll try not to brush it off the table.”

“Thank you for indulging me.” Robert said. “This is a part of my life I do not usually get to share under such close quarters.”

The next course was a butternut squash soup with fresh ginger.

“Ce gingembre est-il cultivé localement?” Robert asked.

“Oui. Le bistrot maintient un jardin d’herbes fraîches près de la ville.” the waiter answered.

“I did not know ginger was grown in Canada.” Robert explained. “The restaurant has its own farm for some these products. They live to their name.”

As the waiter cleared their used plates away Mike carefully protected his morsel of corn bread. The main course was next. The waiter brought the dinner plates to the table. There was a medley of fall vegetables on each. He was followed by a busboy pushing a cart with a covered plate on it. The waiter removed the cover with a small flourish to reveal the turkey, steaming and ready for further carving. One drumstick was gone, as were some slices from the breast on either side.

“If you wish,” he said in English. “We can offer the uncut?”

“No no. This is fine. Would you like the remaining drumstick?” Robert asked Mike.

“Some breast meat will be good for me.”

“Then I’ll have it.”

The waiter skillfully cut portions for both of them. He offered them a chafing dish of stuffing for each of them to help themselves. ‘Canneberges’ turned out to be cranberries.

Even though the restaurant was now full Mike felt they were dinging alone, in their own private room.

Robert asked Mike questions about his work, family but easily defective questions about himself so by the end of the dinner Mike knew little about Robert’s background. Not that that mattered as he felt, for some reason, that Robert was holding nothing back.

Dessert was pumpkin pie, freshly baked on the premises while they were enjoying their meal. Robert has his with acorn ice cream. Mike opted for the maple whipped cream. They sampled each other’s.

As the busboy cleared the table under the watchful eye of the waiter Mike and Robert both took out their credit cards.

“Non. Non.” Robert said. “My company can easily afford this meal.”

“Then I’ll leave a tip.” Mike offered. “Would forty dollars be about right?” He took a look at the bill. “Better make that fifty.”

“It is a good thing we stuck to the bière.” Robert said.

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November 1-30

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Living in the moment

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. These are from the 30 nissaggiyas – this is 23rd.

Living in the moment

I’m feeling fine

no I am fine

feel is a word of uncertainty

because feelings can be deceiving

feels like winter

doesn’t mean it is winter

I am fine

I am well

 

no I don’t need to take another dose

not even one

just in case

I’m not as well

as I think I am

 

think

that’s another word of uncertainty

doubt

it’s as if what I think

maybe wrong

that the perspective I filter

things through

can be questioned

 

think isn’t the same as knowledge

I think it’s raining

it feels like rain

either it’s rain or it isn’t

thinking won’t change that

 

I think I feel better

 

I’m better off when I don’t think

when I am in the moment

I am well

better gives a sense

that once upon a time

I wasn’t well

that I wasn’t living in the moment

if I wasn’t

I am now

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Research Rewrite Re:nanowrimo

One of the mixed blessings of the internet is being able to do instant research. Mixed because sometimes research leads to that rabbit hole of  one more fact. Mixed because sometimes it leads to ‘oh, shit, I really got that wrong & now have to fix it before I go on.’ I resist rabbit holes but ‘fix it’ I have to attended to asap. In particular when it affects the plot time line I’m working within.

Originally I had Mike, my hero in Isle, arriving in Montreal by train. I’ve taken the train to MO myself many times so know what the train station is like. It always helps to have an actual sense of where things happen. But I’ve never taken the train to MO from Halifax, where my hero is coming from. I do know that train services have changed a lot since I last took the train. Routes have been closed, stops have been dropped (is that the right word). So I checked VIA to see if there was still service & how often that service was.

To my dismay I find that though there is still service the trip takes over 20 hours. wtf? The Montreal section of the novel covers events from Thursday to the following Tuesday. There isn’t time for me to have Mike take the train there & back. I don’t want to add another two days – not that I would include his travel thunking etc. So I check flights. By air approximately 90 minutes. That keeps things within my time span. I go back and rework that opening (keeping what gets cut from the original for my word count).

This allowed me to expand his airport lounge encounter and continue it when he lands in Montreal. Events that add to his character though not to the actual plot. Gave me an extra 1000 words and introduced a greater sense of friction even earlier than I had planned. Getting one’s characters into trouble always moves things along.

 

 

“What are you looking at?”

Mike wasn’t looking at anything. He was trying to follow a tread of thought, a thought that had lead to his nickname – Muttman.

“Nothing.” Mike took a deep breath. He had zoned out in the airport waiting for his flight to be called.

“Then look at nothing the other way.”

The young man who had snapped at Mike put his arm around his girl friend’s shoulders and pulled her closer to him.

Was it the pleasant face of the young man that had started the thought process? The man had to be mid-20’s, maybe younger, fresh and attractive. With an attractive girl friend.

“Guys like that should at least wear a hoodie.” The young man said to his girlfriend bud enough for Mike to hear it. “You scare children much?”

“Shut the fuck up Phil.” the girlfriend said. “He can’t help the way he looks.”

The Muttman name had sprung up in fourth or fifth grade and stuck to him to university. He hadn’t been able to shake it till he graduated. Now he was called either Mike or Mr. Poole. But something besides this pretty couple had to have set offÍ the Muttman echo.

“Yeah well he can look that where somewheres else so we don’t have see him. Hey,” Phil said, “why don’t you move your ugly ass somewhere else.”

Mike looked the young man in the eyes. Stared. Said nothing. He knew that engaging wouldn’t get either of them anywhere. He wasn’t interested in teaching anyone manners or even enlightening them about his condition.

He’d stopped hiding his stain years ago. But it had been sometime since someone had been this vocal about it.

What had he been thinking about a few minutes ago? … He’d checked plane tickets and put them where he could get them easily along with his boarding pass. Then he had made sure he had a print out of address of Assoupir, the bed and breakfast he’d stay at in Montreal. He’d been reading in the paper about the biker turf war in Montreal – cafes and clubs being blown up and had wondered if his b’n’b was near any of that. But they had a dog to protect them, right.

Right! They had a dog there. He’d heard it bark in the background when he made his reservation last month. Dog to – what kind of dog – to Muttman – a short jump.

“Come on Sue.” the young man stood and pulled his girlfriend to her feet. “let’s get a coffee before the flight leaves.”

Muttman Muttman. He hated that name. Even his teachers would call him that. He had Mutt embroidered on his high-school jacket. It had been easier to give in, to pretend to be okay with the joke than to pick a fight with everyone who called him that.

Muttman was better than some of the other names he’d been called. Pizza face, vomit puss.

Boarding for his flight was called. Sometime de’d made sure he’d a have window seat on the left side so his face would remain partially hidden but for this flight he hadn’t even bother check which side he was on. The flight was that long. Patrick insisted he take first class, at his paper’s expense. One of perks of sleeping with a major player.

He got comfortable in his seat, closed his eyes and zoned out once again thinking of the last time he and Patrick had met up. The sounds if the other passengers became the sound of people getting seared at the movie theatre. He wasn’t crazy about flying so this was one way he had developed to make it more bearable.

“Nous arrivons à Dorval. We are landing at Dorval.” Mike was awakened by the steward.

“Thanks.” Mike stretched his legs as best he could in the cramped seat. “Must have been a smooth flight.” he said to the woman in the seat beside him.

“Oui, tres calm.” she replied.

He quickly made his way though the airport to the baggage carousel area. He sent Patrick a text message while he waited for his suitcase to come down the chute. “Am here. Can’t wait to c u.”

“Hi!” the girlfriend of the the rude man at the Halifax airport approached him. “I just want to apologize for Phil. He can be such an a-hole sometimes.”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“I mean he’s not always like that. Just when he’s nervous. You know.”

“Right.” he spotted his bag sliding onto the carousel. “Excuse me.” He leaned forward and grabbed it by the handle. It was always a little heavier than he remembered. “Oof.” he gasped as he swung around to put on the floor. “I wish I could pack lighter.”

He bumped the girlfriend as he turned. “Sorry.”

He stepped back to make room for her to get what luggage she might have.

“Watch it.” The boyfriend was suddenly beside him. “Or are you blind too?”

Mike stepped away from the carousel pulling his suitcase with him.

“He bothering you Sue.”

“No Phil. Look there’s our back packs. Grab’em before they go around again.”

“You get’em. I’m going to deal with this ugly fuck.”

Two of the other passengers glared at the boyfriend and stepped away.

“You can’t go around annoying any pretty girl you feel like you perv.” Phil reached to push Mike. “Just because she’s feels sorry for you doesn’t give you the right … ”

As the man’s open palm came into contact with Mike’s shoulder Mike head butted him in the jaw.

“Keep your hands off me.” Mike muttered.

The man stepped back clutching his nose. “You broke my nose. You saw that,” he turned to one of the other passengers. “I didn’t do nothing and he just assaulted me.”

“Come on Phil,” the girlfriend was pulling him by the arm. “Don’t make it worse.”

“Yeah.” Phil let her lead him away. “He’s not worth it.”

Mike wheeled his suitcase into the first washroom he came to. He could remember all the  times he’d had to stand up for himself because some boob though his splotch also meant he was some sort of mental or physical defective they could push around. It never got easier.

After the a much needed leak he wished his hands and rubbed some cold water on his face. So much for a quiet get away.

His phone flashed that he had a message from Patrick. “Can’t wait. I get in around 4.”

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Lazarus Kiss.45

Sis amplexibus Amor alios mututa memini et amoris in mutationes memini.

May you be embraced by a love beyond recall that alters others

and a love within recall that alters you.

kiss

As they crossed to the Eaton’s food court Harris spotted Becky. Their eyes met briefly but he didn’t acknowledge her. He’d learned his lesson the other day. One remembered rejection was enough for him. At least the curse had been sparing him that.

As they were going into Eaton’s Harris heard a woman calling him.

“Harris! Harris! Hold a minute.”

It was Becky.

“Look I truly am sorry for being such a snob the other day.”

“I see.” he glanced at Lin. “Uh … Becky this is Lin Zhang. Did I pronounce that right Lin?”

“Very nicely Harris.”

They stepped out of the way.

“I’d love to see you again Harris. We could meet at Mug Thuggs.”

“I guess so, but you said … boyfriend etc.”

“I know what I said. Things are iffy but it’s not like …. I’d just like to get together with you again. I did enjoy myself.”

Why did she care … oh Christ … was this the latest variation the curse.

“I may be busy tonight. I’m not sure what time I’ll be free.”

“I’ll be there. Until about 10, say?”

“Okay.”

She pecked him on the cheek and disappeared into the lunch crowd.

“You see this is why I have to put on some weight. Women like men of substance. It makes them feel secure.” Lin grinned.

“I have never heard that theory before Lin.” Harris said following Lin into the shopping centre.

“And she smells like candy I want to be eating.”

As they rode the escalator down his cellphone rang.

“Harris here.”

“Hi Harris it’s Alex.”

“What’s up?” Harris’s heart sped up.

“Look do ya know how to clean a computer.”

“You mean the hard drive? That’s not my end of the business.”

“No. The screen. Stuff got splashed it.”

“Hum …” Harris nodded at Lin and then towards Big Eats – Where Everything Is Supersized. “I usually call maintenance when that happens here. I’ll see what I can find out and call you back later.”

“I’s hopin’ ya might come by later an’ help.”

“I could drop by after work. Where do you live?”

Alex started to give him the address.

“Wait I’m going to have to write this down. Or better yet why don’t you text me the address.”

“T’anks. I really appreciate this.”

The afternoon at dE.tail was endless as Harris fussed with minutia to satisfy the Sport Spot people. Faces that looked fresh and perfect to him were sent back with a request to make the freckles a shade fainter, to change the trailing arch of an eyebrow. Internet consumers we’re going to buy this overpriced equipment because a Top Model’s eyebrow had one or two less hairs in it.

They were more likely to buy it because it came in a range of colors. This was the only innovation Sport Spot offered. No amount of re-sized genitalia was going to change that fact. Now if Geoffrey were spokesperson for Santa’s Sex Shoppe that would be a different story. At least Harris would have had a glimpse of the real thing, all be it as a silicone duplicate as battery operated dildo. Andy would have three legs.

He took one brief break to text maintenance to send up something to clean his monitor screen. They replied there were kits in the supply closet.

He groaned when a photo he had worked on twice came back with a further request for facial toning. Tired from the hour overtime already put in he slightly heightened the gleam of the lavender LatteLat machine and sent it back without doing anything to the model’s face. He got an instant reply that it was perfect.

He left before they could make more requests.

*39*

As Harris exited Chester, the subway station nearest Alex he texted that he’d be there shortly.

Alex lived on the second floor of a house a few streets north. Large open front porch with a couple of lawn chairs. Bright pink geraniums in pots and hanging baskets of fuscia and baby’s breath.

He rang the bell and while he waited he wondered if his balcony got enough light for this kind of plant. Alex never struck him as the plant type.

“T’anks for comin’.” Alex held the door open for him. He wore a loose UofT polo shirt and baggy grey sweats.

After a day of working on Geoffrey’s pecs, abs and other attributes Harris was relieved that none of Alex’s attributes were suggested.

“No prob. Got tied up at work.” He had to brush by Alex to step in. His flabby stomach felt even flabbier as it briefly came into contact with Alex’s. He looked up the stairs to keep their eyes from meeting.

He walked up as fast as he could. How large did his ass look. What difference did that make.

The apartment door opened directly into a small living room. TV to one side of the door. A dresser to the other side. Photos of Alex along the wall by the door. The apartment smelled of a vanilla body-wash from a recent showered.

Harris slipped off his shoulder bag. Rested it on the dresser and opened it to get out the cleaning kit.

“I got this as the office.”

“T’anks. Get ya a beer? Sapporo chilling in the fridge?”

“Sure.”
“I know at’s what ya get at Story.” He put the two Sapporo on the coffee table.

“Nah.” Harris was flattered and puzzled. This was the curse but no one had been this attentive as a result of it. If it were Monica Bostford he’d know exactly what to do, and would want to do it. He had no idea of where to begin with Alex but desire would probably be a good starting point. He felt no desire.

“Where’s the …” he hoped it wasn’t in the bedroom.

It wasn’t. The computer desk faced a bay window on the other side of the living room.

“What happened.” He leaned over to look at the smear.

“Spooge.”

“Spooge?”

“Mine.” Alex blushed. “M’ ex Linda found it on a pair of her delicates an’ to get back at me smeared it.”

“Spooge?”

“Come.”

“Got it.” Harris hit his head in mock stupidity. “Tilt the screen for me. That way when I spray, it won’t drip into the monitor. At least that the theory.”

He squirted the small spray bottle to mist the bulk of the smear.

“I’ll give it a minute to soften the spooge residue.”

“Spooge residue” Alex grinned. “Never heard that not even on CSI.”

Their eyes met for the first time. They both laughed.

“Hold it while I see if this’ll clean it off.” With the soft cloth Alex gently wiped the screen. “I think that’s done it.”

Alex set the screen back in place.

Harris moved a throw cushion and sat on the couch to drink his beer. “Homey. You lived here long.” He got up and walked over the computer again.

“ ‘Bout five years. M’ Da owns the house. Owns a couple.” Alex sat next to Harris. Adjusted the the cushion between them.

“I see.”

“Yeah. Last few years I shared it Linda. She left th’ other week. I t’ink I told ya. It wasn’t workin’ any more. Ya know t’ings ‘appen. She though’ I was sleepin’ ‘round an’ … it’s not as if she wasn’t either but … ”

Their eyes met again.

Harris noticed the trophies shoved into a corner by Alex’s computer. He stood and picked up one. It was a round, metallic column about five inches tall with a gold kick-boxer on top. “Best Senior Division Boys”

“So how did you get into U F?” Harris hoped knowing more about Alex would ease the longing the curse had forced upon him.

“First grade bullies ata new school pushed me ‘round. I went nuts. Beat the crap out o’one of ‘em. Broke his nose ‘fore they broke us up. I was small. When I got goin’ nothin’d stop me. I got angry easy. M’ma figured I should get a way to … direct that anger

“Won’um high-school.” Alex took the trophy. “Meant to get rid of ‘em but never could.”

“I wasn’t into sports.” Harris patted his belly. “This is enough weight for me to lift.”

Harris looked at the framed photos of Alex along the wall  by the door.

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Florence Flowers

Moving along the F’s next up in The Mike Flowers Generation – this is one of those off-beat & apparently one-time British novelty hits. Combining a very 60s brocade hippy look with a cocktail lounge musicality the generation recorded an ep of was sweet fun takes on things like Wonderwall, 1999 – that recast these songs in their gentle, sardonic style. I loved it.

This is followed by one of those next-big-things: Florence & the Machine: I have Lungs, as stand alone; Ceremonies tucked away on another mp3 collection; How Big, How Blue etc on yet another mp3 collection. I kept hearing, reading raves about this band. They have a somewhat more pop sound than say Antony & The Johnsons, but they mine the same sensitive, elegant, kind of morose territory.

Emotional, slightly mystic, sometimes cryptic lyrics with strong Celtic underpinnings that appeal thanks to the dynamically emotional voice of their lead singer Florence Welch. The videos are full of her swirling around in voluminous dark dresses in shadowy rooms or misty fields. It’s hard to tell who is a variation on who with so many of these British singers. If you like Adele you’ll enjoy Florence, or vice versa. Nice music for making out or breaking up.

How Big etc starts off a a 7 hours+ mp3 set that includes Gordon Jenkins; Pere Ubu; Giorgio Moroder; Girls in the Garage; Spotlight’59; Jack Nitzsche; Adam Lambert; Alissa Vox Raw – a typically eclectic set of great music.

Jenkins was a master arranger through the 40s to 60s in the Nelson Riddle mold. Cocktail, cheesy at time but sweet. He was found of suites of songs and did several adventurous musical plays orchestrated but undemanding at the same time. Jack Nitzsche is in the same genre but more recent. He did film soundtracks, worked with Neil Young & deserves a biopic soon about his very wild & crazy life: his music is rarely wild & crazy.

Pere Ubu’s Carnival of Souls is eccentric, whacky & challenging. Giorgio Moroder: Deja Vu: a recent set in which he works with the likes of Charli XCX in a set of nicely old school dance music. Girls in the Garage: great, fun covers by 60s Asian girl bands. Songs like Sugar Town, My Boy Lollipop get trounced is the most delightful way while demonstrating the power of pop music to ‘infect’ the world.

Spotlight’59 is a compilation of r’n’b/soul from 1959.  Someone on Tumblr had posted Marie & Rex’s I Can’t Sit Down & I had to have it & found it included here along with great songs by Ruth Brown, LaVern Baker & others. Here too is Adam Lambert: The Original High – energetic pop by a very talented guy who still struggles with the pop industry to be heard. Finally an amazing Toronto performer: Alissa Vox Raw. I co-featured with her a couple of years ago. The music is sonically dense, emotionally direct. She works with voice manipulation & on stage thanks to instant multilayering moved from her solo voice to the Andrews Sisters trio and layer after layer. Fun stuff, full of swing vibe too. The sort of swing vibe Florence should try sometime.

Mike sat on the bed and went through the flyers: Turkey dinner specials. One for a Cuirula Noir that featured a muscular black man as a black caped vampire wearing nothing under the cape except a leather harness and a red jockstrap studded with silver. Mike assumed the cape was also leather.

The Night Fever from Saturday Night Fever played on his cellphone. This was his ring tone for Patrick.

“Hey!” Mike answered. “I just got in. Not even unpacked yet.”

“Cool. I hate to do this but I won’t be getting in until tomorrow morning. I have to do an exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie while she’s in town. It’s my only chance.”

“Oh.” Mike lay on the bed. “Must be tough covering the diva beat.”

“That’s life near the spotlight. I can meet you for lunch. T’Cafe?”

“Sure.”

“Sorry, again. Caio.”

T’Cafe was a bistro Patrick had ‘discovered’ a few years ago. Not too far from his b’n’b. (Locate the b’n’b on St. Hubert south of St. Catherine). The name was a play on T used as slang for petite & tisane. Grammar be damned.

Mike wasn’t sure what to do with himself. All his plans were around Patrick. He had never spent time on their get-aways without Patrick in town at the time. usually he’d arrive before Mike. Even with Patrick busy with festival functions Mike at least knew he had something specific to look forward to. An evening to himself. Good thin he had the tourist guides to help fill the time. But first a shower was in order.

The early fall air was cooler than he expected when he left the b’n’b so he went back in to get a hoodie to wear under his jean jacket.

Simon was at the front desk as he went in. A dog barked and ran over to him.

“How is Madam?” He knelt to rub the dog behind the ears.

“As you can see she is fine. Gave us a scare, didn’t you.”

The dog rolled over inviting Mike to rub its belly.

“I hate to tell you this but she’s no Madam.”

“Ah yes.” Simon laughed as he came over. “We are well aware of that. But so many of the she’s you might meet here are not she’s after all. Nor do they wish to be. It is all a question of appearances, n’est pas?”

“Right.” Mike stood rather than remain at eye level with Simon’s crotch. Did he have a red leather jock strap? “Cools off fast.”

“I suppose.” Simon picked up the dog and rubbed his face against the dog’s forehead. “Whose not going to run out into traffic again. Who?”

Back on the street and warm enough he walked up the short hill to St. Catherine. He let the street light decide which direction to go in and he followed the green light that lead west away from the Gay Village. People were lined up for the Cathedral. Students were going to and coming from the UQAM buildings in the area.

He hesitated on going up St. Denis but the green light was propelling west. None of fast-food deli’s appealed to him. Nothing he passed looked welcoming for a single customer.

The next streetlight was red so he crossed to the other side on the green. No stopping to decide. No thinking. Drifting with the flow. He walked another block north to …. then turned on the next corner to go back in the direction he had come. The street was mainly town houses similar the row his b’n’b was in. Being so close to St C. many of the houses has been converted to boutiques.

At least the basement floor and the first floor. Most of them still had people living on the second and third floors. The shops were what he presumed were high end fashion with a couple of basement level bistros. None of them tempted him. He glanced in windows, stopped to look a couple of menus.

At one he thought he saw a familiar face sitting near the window but he kept moving. He stopped. Was that Patrick? No he couldn’t have gotten here that quickly. He retraced his steps slowly to get a better look. No, is wasn’t but … He took a photo of his cell of the man.He’d have to ask Patrick if he knew the had a twin in Montreal.

He stopped at a Poivre et Sel, a grocery store, to pick up some snacks and breakfast food. The one meal of the day he preferred to eat alone was breakfast. Cereal, milks and bananas. The store also had ready roast chicken so he bought a few pieces of that, fries & a pre-made salad. It would spare him trying to order something in one of the cafes he had passed. Eating alone in any of them didn’t appeal to him.

Back at the b’n’b he sat in the common dining area to eat his chicken.

“Poulet dans sac.” Luc (works at the b’n’b) sat at the table. “From Poivre?”

“Good guess.” Mike pushed the Styrofoam container toward him. “More than I can eat.”

“They do the skin nicely there. No hot sauce?” Luc arched brows as took a couple of wings.

“Not tonight.”

“That can be … supplied.” Luc nodded toward the various bottles on a shelf behind him “Perhaps some wine?”

“Only if you are trying to get me drunk.” Mike joked.

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November 1-30

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Shell of a Man

samprules2

Started a new set of prompts – I love lists of things – this one will prove to be endlessly productive for another couple of years – 227 Rules For Monks. Who knew the simple life could be so complex. This number 22  from the 30 nissaggiyas

Shell of a Man

a woman got up

stood at the subway exit door

I got up

stood behind her

she glanced briefly

over her shoulder

she exited

I followed

up the stairs

outside the station

we both turned to the left

both crossed in the same direction

turned down the same side street

then another

I walked faster

to pass her

 

she walked faster

to escape me

we crossed at the same point

she was practically running

I slowed

saddened by what had happened

saddened

by merely being a man

she felt threatened

because my house

was along her route

 

this gender

this skin

is a shell that shouldn’t crack

a bowl to carry me through life

that doesn’t get questioned

doesn’t get handled roughly

directly

what happened thanks

to my entitlement

of not having to worry

to apologize

for what isn’t my direct doing

 

I didn’t create this cultural context

in which women

fear men

yet I feel guilt

should I have taken a different way home

when I saw us walk

in the same direction

is her fear

her insecurity

now my fault

 

how different from her

am I

I get the same anxiety

when my sense of security

is confronted

by my assumptions of strangers

do young men alarm

simply because they are young

how did race become weaponized

 

the world is on alert

trust no one

justify that lack of trust

by falling back on distorted news

by a history

that suppresses facts in favour of controllers

by not acknowledging any complicity

in making them look pure

not driven by greed

by the need to control

 

I just wanted to walk home

take my shoes off and relax

not feel the fragility of this shell

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Isle Nanowrimo 

Is Nanowrimo my favorite time of the year? It certainly is my most focused & consistently productive. Not that I’m not writing everyday but I am not writing 2500+ words a day every day. I like the feeling of being productive, I like it even more when I don’t worry about monetizing the result. You can’t imagine the weight that takes off creativity’s shoulders.

I’m doing what has worked well for me in the past – structure & idea pushing me along. I don’t aim to finish the plot in a month, or two. It took me three Nano’s the finish my last nano project. When I start I just can’t stop. Well I can stop but I didn’t stop thinking about things.

My usual pattern has been to write about 500+ words in the morning. God for a long walk, let those words bubble boil & make trouble for my characters then get back to it and push out another 1500+ words in the after, add more after supper, if I have time. Many days I pass 3000. Once I hit 60,000 I do slow down some & by 75,000 I’ve about had it – so maybe this year I’ll push it to 90,000. Last year I topped off at around 75,000 by Nov 25.

Isle St Nuit is something I started many years ago – I have some of my note from that first start but it got bogged down with the need to keep the plot going in a logical direction. You know what – fuck logic – let’s just tell a great stupid story & let the readers discover their own logic. If people will watch Sharknado why should I worry, as long as my logical remains consistent with the world I’ll be building.

Don’t let ‘world building’ throw you. It is set on this planet, I places you know, with people who are human, semi-rational & possibly relatable. But of course the things that happen to them are a little on the fantastic side. I’ll be dealing with the supernatural in a subtle energy sort of way. Trust me, you’ll like it (or think what’s the big fuss about).

Note: Assoupir is the b’n’b Mike is staying at)

“How is Assoupir?’

“Very comfortable. Hot guy runs it. Simon Piquer. If he could make it a nudist guest house he would.”

The patio was in a quiet courtyard behind a cafe. Cool, damp.

“How was the train?”

“Nice. Relaxing.”

“Flying is faster and cheaper.”

“So you tell me, but I’m not in such a rush.”

“Right, I forget you’ve had the whole summer to yourself. I’m lucky to squeeze in this one week and I’m working at the same time.”

“Who is he?” Mike saw no reason for more small talk.

“You had a vision?”

“I saw you. Under the oak.”

Patrick reddened. “I’m sorry.”

“We knew this might happen.”

“I wasn’t looking for someone. Really. You know that.”

“Yes.”

“Jay Fisher. We met one night. At Big E’s. We started talking and …”

“One thing lead to another. He know?”

“About us? Yes. He doesn’t mind.”

“No one wants their honeymoon shared. Do they?”

“Honeymoon?”

“This is your first trip together?”

“No, Vancouver.”

“Ah, right, the Queer Film Fest. How was it?”

“I told you all about it.”

“First I’ve heard of Jay.”

“Mike …. nothing’s changed.”

“So what was going to be? Me in the afternoon? Him at night?”

“I … I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you not to come. We’ve been planning this since Christmas. How would you have felt?”

“No worse than I feel now.”

Patrick reached out to him. Mike pulled back. He didn’t want a vision of Patrick and Jay in bed.

“Don’t pull away from me.”

Mike got up. The table grated against the brick floor. “I haven’t unpacked yet. Now I won’t have to.”

He could jump back on the train. Go to the airport. Catch any flight out of here. Out of this. Patrick had allowed him not to worry about being alone. Now he had that to face. His life. His future.

“Nothing has to change.”

“Too late Patrick. It has already changed.’

“Do you want to meet him?”

“No.”

“Please, Mike. You’ll …”

“I’ve got to go.”

Montreal was a big city. He would stay. Lots of men and now he was on the loose he could dive into that pond and come up with something. Easy as fucking pie.

“I’ll see you at the brunch tomorrow.”

He had a pass to all the Film Festival events. Openings, press conferences, brunches, anything he wanted to see.

“I don’t know.”

“Tonight?”

“I’ll get by tonight.”

A small change of plan, that’s all. No furious pumping away and glorious nut throbbing ejaculations with Patrick tonight. The scent of which had taunted him for the last few weeks. His anticipation of Patrick’s belly, thighs. Such a waste of of time. Years of wasted time.

The search continues. He wasn’t spared. Fuck. Why wasn’t he spared?

“See tomorrow. You know where?”

“I got my map.”

Too bad this detour wasn’t on it.

Mike wanted the hot sun to burn his frustration away. His legs were numb but not the emotional numb he wanted to feel. The hill up to the Old Port was steeper than it look. The sun was unclouded and there was no shady side of the street for protection.

His shoes were too heavy. Why had he picked these useless, thick, hot, hot shoes. Heavier with each step. Ugly shoes, ugly black socks, all wrong. No wonder he was unhappy. Who’d look twice at this hairy, squat man limp up the steps if only to laugh at him.

Fool. He was such a fool. He should go back to Assoupir and get out of the city. Leave it all behind. Get back to the safety of his house in Halifax, the cool dry house. He could play his favorite music, take his hot, hot, hot shoes off and just sit in the living room, sit on the back porch and let the air cool his feet.

He plodded up the hill, each step took him closer to something and away from something.

Not that there would be anything there for him. He’d made his plans before he left. Names and locations of the movies he would see with Patrick, the receptions he would be go to around the city. A useless list things that would never happen.

Like always, it was a mistake for him to live in the future. Plans always caught him and bit him on the ass, kicked him in the head. Dreams would turn around to mock him for even dreaming them.

He stopped to catch his breath. A group of teens crowded past him. In matching T-shirts and shorts. Laughing and elbowing each other as they made their way past him. Boys and girls. He caught sight of a badge on one of them;

‘Teen Congress for Hope.’ with a dove hovering over a name.

Great. Just what he needed now a bunch of fresh faced, happy religious freaks.

“Sorry, sir.” One of them stopped beside him.

“It’s okay. I’m in no hurry.” He looked the boy in the face. Not a boy after all. Must be one of the chaperones.

“You going to the Old Port?”

“Eventually.”

The man’s smile was brilliant, like the sun, his perfect skin almost glowed as he spoke to Mike.

“Here.” The man trust a tract into Mike’s hand.

“Stop the Film Festival.” was printed on the cover.

Their hands brushed. Mike had a brief vision of the man eating ice-cream, laughing.

“Thanks.”

“The Light shines on all regardless of how they look my friend.” The man darted to catch up with the rest of his crowd.

Too bad it looks reflects better on you. Mike headed back to the b’n’b. The Old Port could wait.

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Shoulder Rub

On a recent Disability After Dark, Andrew Gurza talks about consent in light of recent sexual allegations in the news recently. He address the very direct types on intrusive use of power to force ones sexual needs on another, supposedly weaker or more vulnerable person. “You want to work in this industry you better put out.” or “You’re a helpless cripple so you should be happy anyone would want to molest you.”

Andrew recalls doing things or accepting sexual behaviour that he didn’t feel he should decline. This I fully understand from when I first ‘came out’ here in Toronto. Having sex I didn’t enjoy, with men I didn’t really feel attracted to, just for the sake of having sex. Or when I was with a guy I found attractive letting things happen than I really wasn’t enjoying just to be with them.

As I became more confident & comfortable this happened less. Now it is easy for me to state boundaries & face the consequence of being not wanted – telling men you aren’t into poppers etc. puzzles them. Sometimes they show up with pot, poppers, sex toys: things that I have already said I’m not into & expect me to give in, to be a nice guy. Not going to happen.

Odd how consent becomes a situation of coercion or gradual accommodation: just rub my shoulders or I’ll just rub your shoulders turns into – you led me on by letting me rub your shoulders. ‘btw autocorrect turned message me or else to massage me or else in all those emails.’

The manipulative tactics of the predator often start out so innocuous. He drove all the way from Oshawa or Brampton to see me, so now I should do what I already said I wasn’t into – it’s my fault for leading him on – so be a nice guy, polite, do I give in or give him the shove, or rather not give him the shove, or anything else. (By the way I am worth the drive for what I do enjoy.) Just because I let you hug me doesn’t mean I want to fuck.

“What are you looking at?”

Mike wasn’t looking at anything. He was trying to follow a tread of thought, a thought that had lead to his nickname – Muttman.

“Nothing.”

“Then look at nothing the other way.”

The young man who had snapped at Mike put his arm around his girl friend’s shoulders and pulled her closer to him.

The sound of the train clanked Mutt man Mutt man.

Was it the pleasant face of the young man that had started the thought process? The man had to be mid-20’s, maybe younger, fresh and attractive. With what he supposed was an attractive girl friend.

The Muttman name had sprung up in fourth or fifth grade and stuck to him to university. He hadn’t been able to shake it till he graduated. Now he was called either Mike or Mr. Poole. But something besides this pretty couple had to have set off the Muttman echo.

What had he been thinking of a few minutes ago?

He’d put his train tickets away and had checked to make sure he had the address of L’Assoupir, the bed and breakfast he’d stay at in Montreal. He’d been reading in the paper about the biker turf war in Montreal – cafes and clubs being blown up and had wondered if his b’n’b was near any of that. But they had a dog to protect them, right.

Right! They had a dog there. He’d heard it bark in the background when he made his reservation last month. Dog to – what kind of dog – to Muttman – a short jump.

Muttman Muttman. He hated that name. Even his teachers would call him that. He had Mutt embroidered on his high-school jacket. It had been easier to give in, to pretend to be okay with the joke than to pick a fight with everyone who called him that.

Muttman was better than some of the other names he’d been called. Pizza face, vomit puss. All because of the port-wine stain splash on left side of his forehead.

When he had asked his Dad why the kids picked on him because of his looks, the reply had been he might as well learn to live with it. It could be worse, at least he didn’t have a limp or need a wheel-chair. Now that’s a real disability. Some people got looks, some got brains, so he’d better hope he had some brains. He did but found that if he was too smart in school it made things worse not better. It was easier to be stupid and ugly to get along than fight them.

He had hoped that by university, when his adult body filled in, he would gain some sort of decent looks but that hadn’t happened. His shoulders remained uneven, odd ears that couldn’t be hidden with his thin hair. Nose with its bump and bend and a chin that jutted and rounded at the same time. Plus the discolouration which had faded some thanks to laser treatment but would never disappear.

The only thing his adult body was able to provide was some hair to fill in his face.

Gym work didn’t suit him. He tried but all he managed was to get hairier and thicker. Muscles just refused to form. His shoulders took on enough mass to look even so shirts fit him better.

Muttman Muttman.

Looks only a mother could love. At least with his looks he didn’t have to make excuses for his lack of lucky at the dating game. His Dad comforted him by saying that someday the right girl would come along. One who didn’t worry about looks. That was the only kind of girl worth having anyway.

Trouble was that girls didn’t appeal to him. All through school he saw them giggling behind the boys who taunted him with Muttman. They were as cruel as the boys, worse because they didn’t have the honesty to speak for themselves.

The boys were another story. Being bullied seemed a natural way to relate. He could stick up for himself when he had to, but avoided physical confrontations. It was easier to be a part of the joke than to fight it. He became the best bud of several of the most popular guys at different times. The brains that would help them with essays, hang out till they guys wanted to date.

He never wanted to be one of the popular guys. The pressure of looks and sports and dating didn’t appeal to him. It seemed like a lot of work for such a small reward. He understood what it was the girls were attracted to. Those perfect males bodies so unlike his.

He wanted from those boys what they bragged about giving to the girls. Tongue kisses, touches in private parts, sex. Fucking. Sucking. He wanted that and knew it was another thing to hide.

It wasn’t till his second year at university that he let himself explore that dream. The University of Toronto had a gay and lesbian student union. His first year there he’d been fearful of being noticed. But by the second he knew it would be safe. There were gays on campus he knew he wouldn’t be alone.

So he came out. Again found himself the best friend of someone one who had all the fun he wanted to have himself. When he complained about not meeting the right someone there would be a silence – then suggestions for more work-outs – try these glasses – looks looks looks.

The only look that every worked for him was the dark, the less light the better.

Muttman Muttman

The train took him to Montreal on another vacation. Another meeting with his lover. Yes, he had managed to land a lover. A long-distance lover, but a lover. Patrick Lough was a noted film critic and historian. Someone who was welcome at festivals and film openings around the world. Someone who liked sex with him.

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HotDamn! It’s A Queer Slam

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November 1-30

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy ice cream in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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Bloody Footprints

One final Halloween movie inspired piece. The opening scene is all I remember the rest is impure imagination. Blood is best fresh and this one is really dripping dripping dripping.

Bloody Footprints

the movie opens

on a busy sidewalk

someone with a knife

stabs a stranger

keeps on going

while the victim collapses

remember the knife

the flash of it

the thrust

blood blood blood

 

people stepping in it

as they step over the body

on their important way

bloody footprints

quickly splotching the sidewalk

as the camera

pulls up up

the police arrive

the credits roll

over the expanding trail

of bloody footprints

 

steps lead to smart shops

to offices

into elevators

down marble corridors

over carpets in hotel hallways

cafe floors

washroom stalls

blood gets on hands

trying to clean shoes

the fingerprints on mirrors

coffee cups

documents

dried flakes fall between

keyboard keys

smear smart phones

traces tracked undetected through

airport screening machines

splotches on luggage

the blood travels around the world

 

the sidewalk

with the outline of the body

is a pool of blood

after crime scene photos have been taken

after cellphone photos have hit the net

city works come to clean it up

 

the camera looks for the stabber

pushing through crowds

roving over heads shoulders

no faces

hands washing

blood pooling in sinks

almost dripping down the walls

of apartments

seeping out of TV screens

bloody footprints

lead up to a door

the bell rings

you reach to open the door

the closing credits roll