Letters from the alleyway

20140425-180623.jpgLately has been a patch of such intensity, so much pressure in every direction, that each glimmer of tenderness, of humanity, of a hand reaching out in the chaos has felt like a branch that must be held onto tightly in hopes of slowing the relentless slide down a slope.

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That dream the other night of a house where everything you touch turns into something else – you pick up the umbrella, it turns into an eel, you grab the doorhandle, it turns into a salamander.
A house of so many tricks and false faces and turns and complications, and in the dream I am trying and trying to leave, to take my son and go live with a man I’ve met by the seaside, a fisherman, to go and live a simple life, the three of us, if I can just escape this house….
But –
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But I can’t leave.
I can’t extract myself.
Yet.
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A couple of nights before that it had been a childhood home, passing through the kitchen and my mother making dinner and instructing me on how I should go out and do all the right things to get this man, to hook this rich guy already and get myself taken care of, fer chrissakes.
He is waiting for me outside, this guy. A producer I know – bit of a hot shot.
He is just up the street, and is impatient there in his fancy car, a sports convertible – he wants me to hurry up and get in the car.20140425-180350.jpg
I am annoyed at being hurried.
All I want to do is play in the mud…
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Weekly Photo Challenge – Letters

Threshold

Threshold of the subway doors, humans and hints of animal beyond – wolfman on subwayThreshold of a slinky bus, during a morning commute, he studies his phone, bathed in light – 20140406-193526.jpgThreshold of a cliff, of the lake, of the edge of the city, of the transition from urban neighbourhoods to the wild beyond – 20140406-193632.jpg
Threshold of a smile, of the beginning of life, of nascent love…20140406-193701.jpgWeekly Photo Challenge – Threshold

Abandoned Photos

runner, truckThey’ve been sitting in a folder in the basement, old old work prints that never quite got finished, and are here scanned. I’m thinking to join a local photo co-op so I can scan some of the old negatives and revisit them, give them some love, resuscitate them from their state of defunctedness.boy w fridgeThey are moments of abandon, in different meanings of the word – a moment of wild running abandon; an abandoned fridge and perhaps child as well; and losing oneself to the abandon of sleep…sleeperWeekly Photo Challenge – Abandoned

Three Hearts – alleyway art evolving

art in the alleyIn the alleyway just down from my house, there’s the expected graffiti on the garage doors, but more unusual are the bits of installation art that appear.
This one of the heart has been most striking.
It began on one side of the alley, on a kind of plywood sliding wall, and has morphed over time, its paper images and fold-out doors peeling away in the weather, then magically sprouting new imagery in its centre.
After several incarnations on the plywood wall, one day it had been moved to the other side of the alley, near someone’s rear doorway. alleyway heartIt continues to evolve. The images continue to shift. Over time it’s become a highlight of the walk down the alley – to see what new elements have arisen in the night.
I’ve been thinking I must contribute to it at some point, adding some new element, some small sprinkle of love before we leave the neighbourhood.

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Grand Animal

The taxi driver refused to go any further.
In the dream I was staying in a hotel on Spadina near College and wanted to go shopping further down towards Dundas, in the deep and winding medieval streets, but the driver turned the car around and let me out, saying “most people don’t want to go down there – it’s too dangerous”.
It was like one of those neighbourhoods in Mexico City – Colonia Doctores or Ciudad Neza way back when – where all taxi drivers refuse to enter, cause everyone knows anything could happen.
So I walked.
The streets were deserted, dark, until I got down near the very bottom, almost to the waterfront, where the sky was wide and the road opened up into a kind of rock quarry, reminiscent of Teotihuacan –
quarry1teotihuacan b&wAnd still walking, I ventured into the rocks, strolling happily until I sensed movement in the steps and mounds of the quarry. And as I looked, these creatures took shape.
They were lions – stone lions.
They were living animals – their large bodies moving and rummaging about – but they were made of stone, the same stone of the the quarry.
placcid lionsnarling lionAt just the moment that it registered in my mind what I was seeing, the danger I was in, a large lion sensed me too, the hint of movement in his peripheral vision, and his head snapped up in a snarl.
Then the pounce, the running jump of the massive creature coming after me.
Suddenly I had a large plywood board in my hands which I lay underneath in a crevice in the rocks, pulling the board flat on top of me, effectively disappearing into the ground.
big biting lionThe lion lumbered heavily over me, not finding me, scrambling over and away, somewhere beyond where I lay hidden.
The fear was so real, the terror so palpable – one of those nightmares that wakes you up in a sweat, blinking in the dark of the bedroom.
The next morning I was out walking, and turning the corner to where the new second-hand bookstore is, the guy who sells old National Geographic magazines for a buck a piece, I noticed several had big spreads on lions.
nat geo running lionI brought them home and began to draw.
When the dream is so vivid, so strong, and yet so cryptic, there is nothing for it but to spend more time with the imagery…
running lion

Good morning

My morning ritual has gotten more and more elaborate over the years.
It begins hors champ, out of frame, in my bed with scribbles in a dream journal à la Robert Moss – you can’t move too much or the dreams get lost, as if it is the body that holds them, not the mind, so this must be done while still in bed, searching inside the positions of the body for the secrets of the night.
Then journal and pen get dragged groggily downstairs to the kitchen table where writing continues, a kind of morning pages thing à la Julia Cameron, but with candles, I’m not sure why, just for fun.
candles, journalIdeally this is all happening before first light, cause next up is the Sunrise Ceremony à la Diane Longboat, with a little more fire to make a smudge of dried lavender and sage – it’s supposed to be tobacco, but tobacco is kind of pricey around here and doesn’t burn so easily and I’m not so fond of the smell, and seems like the main idea is prayer and gratitude for the day, giving thanks for being alive and being able to see the sun rise yet again, the smoke rising to wherever prayers are heard.
smudgeThis is done facing east, of course, though as a Canadian the changing arc of the sun becomes quite evident if you are doing this daily, and right now the sun is a little further south each morning.
If the day is not too wet, and sometimes even when it is, I stand barefoot out in the dewy grass and damp soil of the back yard, out where the morning glories and other plants reside.
sun in artichoke stalks 2And somewhere in this greeting of the sun a glass of water will be consumed, the first drink of the day blessed by the light of the sun, re-hydrating the body after sleep.glass of waterBut I must confess, each morning is a struggle between the timing of the glass of water with the sunrise, and the feeling that I want, I crave, I shouldn’t, but I just can’t hold off on my one deep intractable addiction, my true love, the one I lie in bed the night before fantasizing about…
coffee groundCOFFEE…..
Oh how I love my coffee, can’t wait for some coffee, am sad each time my allotted 2 cups are done and I’m not allowed anymore.
But I’m not the only one. As I move through my morning routines, often as not sneaking one coffee in before the glass of water, or even before the morning pages and the first lighting of the smudge, I have to be careful not to set my cup down. Someone else here, bizarre little thing that she is, will lick my coffee cup if I’m not looking –
kitty sniffsWe call her the Italian cat cause she likes coffee and pizza, will steal a piece of pizza from your plate if you’re not careful. As a kitten she was found in the alleyway here in Little Italy – seems it might be genetic…
For a good morning bonus, here’s a nice little article on creativity and morning habits.
(Weekly Photo Challenge – good morning!)

Nostalgic evening

20130705-195956.jpgA long walk home from work after some 12 hours in front of the computer and it’s a hot heavy summer night and the downtown is busy and congested with crowds and throngs of people all moving in different directions at different speeds.
In a square with a fountain, kids play in and out of the water, drenching themselves fully dressed in that way kids will do without a thought, without a care, letting themselves go, free and open into the sensation of it all, the wet, the surprise of it, the cooling down of the body. One boy rides a scooter between the shoots of water. I suddenly long for freedom and energy and optimism of childhood, for the hot summer nights when I’d play loose-limbed and happy with my friends with just this kind of abandon.
20130705-200027.jpgRounding a corner I happen upon an old payphone – a relic from the past so hard to come by these days, the graffiti and garbage collecting on and around it suggesting a sad and lonely disuse, the discarding of quaint technologies, already forgotten.
pay phoneHeading up Spadina the crowds thin out and the colours of Chinatown remind me of other years lived in other cities and other apartments, that one on the edge of Chinatown in Montreal, and the boyfriend I had at the time, and the first night we hung out and he walked along the ledge of a garden, balancing, showing off, both of us giddy with the newness of something, something we didn’t yet know would be so mismatched and dismal.
20130705-200048.jpgSo much colour and small works of art there is everywhere on this route! A parking lot with a string of bare lightbulbs hanging in front reminds me of quinceañera parties in Mexico with strings of lights and little fold up chairs and tables with table cloths where everybody sits between drinking and dancing late into the night.
How many little glimpses of lives we can have within one lifetime…
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic