BOOK REVIEW: ‘love is a mixtape: life and loss, one song at a time’ by Rob Sheffield

*some small plot detail spoilers contained in the description below*

When I found this book on the stacks of Halifax Public Libray, as I navigated through the careful architecture pathways – looking for inspiration in environment or education or both – I noticed in the Table of Contents that the second chapter (all named after playlists and important songs to the story telling) was titled Hey Jude.  So, naturally my interest was piqued, if i am to play into this Beatles ascribed identity for this life. As I read the story at the beginning of chapter 2, Rob describes building a mixtape of only Hey Jude for the entire length of the cassette by repeating portions of the record into an album of filler “hey” “na na na nanana” and “JudyJudyJudy” – I knew the storytelling would continue to balance musical entertainment with heartache and joy in careful harmony to tell his story.

The story of his wife unexpectedly dying, and his coming to terms with their romance’s untimely end is eloquently explored by describing their relationship in a series of mixtapes from their life together. The mixtapes were evidence of their mutual adoration of music at the time, and the changes in the alternative-punk legacy with albums which had in the duration of the track length, each contributed to this love story.

His wife, Renee, completed the music part of his life, and soon filled in the gaps he didn’t know he needed filling by a southern accent and sassy comments. Their love feels so true off the page, being in their company must have been a simple treat.

And so, while reading this comfortable love story, the despair of her loss being within each story about his memory, I am comforted by the peace he has found in the joy they shared. It’s their love story, and it has ended – in the sense of no longer continuing into the future. but I can understand the need to preserve what was, for the sake of the beauty of the story. for the perseverance of our belief in love.

Reading into their life together, i was cheering for the happy couple the same way they were living it – until, as abruptly as it happens, Rob carries you into the truth of the situation. that in less than a minute, his wife dies from a brain aneyursm.

In the flurry of the grief and frantic planning of memorializing her body + memory he recalls not sitting with the immensity of the loss until later, on solo drives in the days following when music on the radio (no matter the station) would remind him of her. Stating what I feared was true, “I knew I would have to relearn how to listen to music, and that some of the music we’d loved together I’d never be able to hear again.” (149)

Soon after, this thought is followed by the assurance to the reader that as the story began, it continued:”mix tapes were the life raft I held onto” – and understandably so. It seemed this was what was happening while they were living and falling in love, but now more than ever, it would be the best self-made therapy to keep creating new memories in the style of the old ones.

—-

Where this hits home the deepest, is how there are plenty of unwritten stories kept within my personal memory of music intersectionalities. And how I share some of the songs with this tender couple’s experience, but how many of the songs were briefly popular during the late 80’s and into the 90’s – and they never made it into my working memory of the time period (okay, I was a small child living in a rural place..). Even with the missed association with the value of some of these songs I could appreciate their organization together as even song titles creating simple, abstract poetry of shared living in a globalizing community of shared stories.

And how, the era of the mix tape is unique all in its own. But we still understand the value of compilations, of sharing collections of music; track order does, and sometimes does not, matter. In many senses, technology is advancing faster than our ability to make use of it in our own time. When i was a kid I used our family’s CD/tape player to record copies of my sister’s CD tracks into a mixtape for the car (which only had a tape deck) or create strange CD mixes based on whatever music I had used our computer to download via Limewire, Napster, and whatever software at the time was able to translate a cool song into a digital file. As a child, I didn’t believe anything could happen by copying music in this way, because it’s just like making mixtapes and sharing music across the street, it’s just across the world now.

My history with music as a transition aid has been the most valuable part of the loss of places, people associated with those places, and the soundtrack we build underneath it all will be what holds us together when the rest falls apart. That’s where Riverhouse/Heartwood are a foundation – or atleast two deck posts- of my grief; layered with changing places (“we’re not us anymore”, unfortunately) and the loss of people who created them.

So I have an undercurrent of favourite songs which have and will continue to guide me along the path of getting over yesterday and growing into tomorrow. It’s in reading this book that I can put my experiences into the greater context of loss, and understand them to be far less consequential than the abrupt end of a marriage due to the loss of the person while the love remains. And then, it clicks, that’s what I’ve been chasing. Closure from the love that never ended, rather the physical presence was removed. So, I’ve learned to love the music and people of the place differently, without necessary discussion of why we are all connected, because it hurts too much.

And, some songs stick with you even after the loss is fresh. Hearing the song by the Replacements mentioned in this book brought back memories of the first year of infatuation with my Edmonton interest – who made sure I knew to listen for Unsatisfied during their set at Osheaga. But I didn’t, I slept through. And that was some cosmic joke played to remind me of a number of ‘read between the lines’ meanings. But also to remember that it is a song worth listening to, because of its legacy, and great lyrics, and weight. Hearing Leonard Cohen sing on a recording, and knowing you’ll never hear new music by him again. Or, in the heart of the loss, the warm fatherly baritone of Bobby Gibb recite the ode to the haggis on Robbie Burns day. Or see Shotgun Jimmie with Mark Kroeker – though the year he came through the prairies we each caught a show in our respective cities and congratulated the other on accomplishing that Bagtown goal. Some people are always going to be memorable. And if they’re lucky, they’ll get a mixtape of memories all to themselves. Keep the music makers close and the family of appreciators closer. (sometimes outdoor concerts are chilly!)

The nostalgia coded into a song’s storytelling and melody is crucial for its soul to come through, but it needs to transcend an individual’s nostalgia and become ubiquitous into the human experience. That’s where mixtapes – good ones- can communicate more than a kiss in some scenarios. They can be better than a therapist. (not a replacement, but enough to know why you’re unsatisfied, perhaps)

And if you’re lucky, you get to have someone narrate all the reasons why they chose the songs they did to you, with introductions and stories. Appreciating the community this music has created on the airwaves alongside the chaos of living.

I’m not sure if this book was an antidote or an amplifier for my retrospective tendencies, but flipping back through pages of the book now completed seem as familiar as floating backwards into my own memories – smiling at experiencing that joy with the lucidity of deja vu. flashes of curious familiarity mimicking past emotion.

And now, in the phase of my living where I am finding more courage to start learning music and developing unique style + character in playing piano and guitar, I understand the challenges involved with creating a ‘new’ sound, if only for the immediate frustration involved with the pain of not knowing how to get the sound you don’t know you need. So, my gratitude meter is restored with each new song, and each time I pick up a guitar and default to D chord, because it’s the transition from uke to guitar and I feel comfortable there. But i’m getting really sick of that note in particular. Thankful for all the sharers of music ability and advice. Without them my inspiration meter would have no traction against the current of modern life. With them, i have a memory of a time of my growing up and out of naivete.

“a mixtape steals those moments from all over the musical cosmos, and splices them into a whole new groove. … I’d rather hear the Beatles’ Getting Better on a mix tape than on Sgt. Pepper any day.” – pg 23/24

there’s more of my story to be told – about radio synchronicities and mix tape ironies. but for the moment i’m glad to have indulged in someone else’s. Highly recommend this read to you, internet person; if i haven’t spoiled it for you with the plot leaks.

geo-madic musings: leaving forests be

Regardless of the instance, I’m always seeking a better way.  For the sake of saving time or saving face it’s why we’re here in the first place. It’s why we sought out these third places of our past – for solace and sympathy, for challenge and calamity. For comfort, and for refuge from the fear of saying ‘i don’t know’ yet again.

But we’re not all here from the same past and we’re all going to different futures –  when the worth of our bettering loses sight of that quest it’s time to hold back and just agree. Sometimes, it sucks. Sometimes, it’s harder than it should be. I want to say it’s possible but the roadblocks that detoured me here said that some things aren’t supposed to be changed – at least not yet. Sometimes you need to take a reprieve and take a leave of absence.

Find yourself in the leaves of the forest, or in the generalized polygons of the forest. It’s all for something if it’s not for naught.

Give your struggle meaning. It will figure itself out along the way.

Ask questions, and accept answers. find ways to make giving a shit fun.

Ch-Ch-Changes on the same Theme

I was making this playlist on paper, then spotify, when i decided i needed to think a bit more deeply about 2016 so I called up my grand-family friend. We talked about his life, and about mine. And all the things I think of when I’m offline, i’ve discovered, are key pinpoints of my brain’s inner workings that I’m thankful i have.

I support the conversations with elders in our personal story. For wisdom, for kindness, and yes… quickly witted comments about the state of the world. But also an informed sweetness, to know the benefit of reflection,  to have moved on from so much until this point,  the memories which remain are not only valuable.. They’re all you’ve got.

Having a conversation with this grandfather-figure  not too long ago, he  told 3 separate stories to make a point about serendipity.  Each of these stories  (snapshots of moments – 1000 words to paint a picture) involving himself and our dearly missed MB. Their lives crossed over in odd ways for 20 years,  living separate lives, with reason to interact  at first – then contact became sparse,  as needed but always welcome as the years went on. He recalled: “It was around the time my father died, I called her up, as I hadn’t done in quite some time. I rang and she answered.” He said, in a particular manner, ‘I knew there was something the matter with her the moment I called.’ … “then you find out why”

Her father had also died.

She says: ‘oh my god it’s you’

With that, no need to go into details. You go straight to empathy.

That moment, and a few significant others, were moments of that serendipity.  He explained, now, after her end and our grieving: “There’s truly a chapter for each one. {45 years from now., ago} He continued, how a previous instance, he courageously decided to mention the importance of their interaction, on the cusp of her marriage. I’m going to have to say some things to you.. ‘I have no interest in getting in the way […] I really care for you. And the reason I’m telling you now is that it doesn’t matter’ And she never took me up on that dinner. But I was there, at the beginning and the end, in moments

The transition .. If you want to know…” And I did.

so, we continued to talk about the distance they survived, by means of networks of community and places of important beauty. Both in storyline and landscape.

From this chat, I reflected how this version of the same synthesis In my context Has not been easy but it has been kind many times over. This transition, is twisting the story in  important ways Until the time comes to demand we accept our capacity ..for foolishness of love, for impatience, for cruelty, for fear.

And in that appreciation of oneself, we see without astigmatism.

In this conversation, we also talked music and how Leonard Cohen had passed away. How on his latest album everything was softer, darker, still so characteristic of his style. And that he was reflecting on the end of his life, and produced a summation album of his wisdoms as he collected them and made a career out of it.

‘make sure you listen to Treaty, and include that one in your list,’ he says.

and so i did, track no. 13. in a Dan Mangan sandwich with Gord Downie alongside some modern favourites closer to the heart, within local networks. i’m honoured and delighted to be able to collaborate favourite memories next to each other. And within modern streaming, to create and share a mixtape with the people making the music in real-time.

and a little bit, of all of it, is the Beatles too. and that’s cool with me. especially on days when the weight of the world is a bit too heavy on my aching shoulders (i.e. mapping laptop)..

A nasty woman’s rant clinging to optimism and honesty 

​Sometimes I challenge myself to believe we silently elected Trump the same ways Harper remained in power for 10 years, by not speaking out, by accepting our cultural bias blindly even after becoming globally aware. Our maps are the story of this awareness shift. That our resistance must tell the story and allow it to evolve.

This challenge has been embodied by the nature of our culture within this geography. 

Our fear of self-care, of narcissism, of true honest love is what keeps us rebelling against our mother (earth, in this context). 

I understand narcissism, much of my anxiety is rooted is in attempt of being humbly mindful of all the insecurities that prevent acceptance of yourself within the world around you. 

I understand healing from the pain of awareness – ignorance is no longer bliss when the shield is ‘woke’. 

This past year I’ve been inspired by a call to action, sourcedby the generations evolution which has got us to this point. To experience creationism (if only a delusion, say some) is to allow a collective reason for hope. Surrounded by such a glorious world of rugged terrain and magnificent forms of life, I’d declare God too. 

But for the transformation of that obsessive attachment to that story to have magnified our ignorance to the power of our energy bill.. means North America needs an attitude adjustment, maybe elect a president who would make Sublime – What I Got as the first dance song, with a follow-up from Uptown Funk. Or something. America, I thought you were cool! Oh right, as a quick filter into the lens of racism we’ve realized there’s still something very tragic happening within our consumption culture that has elected a corrupt businessman to take away the freedoms within which he was raised to take for granted, and  somehow is getting away with it. 

As a relatively well-adjusted ‘woke’ Canadian also living within these freedoms only a border away, yes, I am concerned about the effect. I am concerned about the current state of environmental protection requiring improvements, not further pipeline risks and pollution at the cost of our dignity as a species. If there’s a god, she’s probably not too pleased about you not cleaning up your room regardless of how you pray in words of thanks between requests. 

And so, this idea of women’s inferiority told through generations of institutions has been magnified to pussygrabbing and abortion rights decided upon by men. If 2015 was Justin Trudeau electing a 50/50 cabinet, but Trump/Pence 2017 is blantently mysogenist and ignorant.. how can that dichotomy exists between neighbours, we wonder in silence. Afraid to ask America about another black eye or second ‘stay normal’ triple-triple in their hand (after we explain this is Tim’s slang for coffee, eh). 

That’s where I’m at with this, how can our altered perspectives exist simultaneously..? But, both that confusion and the question itself, are important to how this earth operates.

And so, we ask them. We MUST continue asking them. Why did you think you could get away with that? When have you checked your privelege next to those seemly worse-off? How did that feel, do you even understand what you are saying?? Yes, I’m a nasty woman. I bleed and can ‘by pure accident’ become pregnant yet forced to raise a child, but you say that’s my fault, that you or any other slimeball can grab my precious pussy because you’re a star, or a man, or assertive enough.

I’m a nasty queer, how do you like that? That, maybe you don’t do it for me. That I too, have trouble controlling my own sexuality at times but that does NOT mean it is okay. It means there is a lesson to learn. Consent, triggers, moral code, ethics, decency… I could go on, but I best stay focused. 

I have some other things to be afraid of, thanks for environmentally aggravated GMO/pesticide/processed exacerbated analphylactic relationships with food. So, my day to day consists of reading food labels, asking ingredient questions, and being hyper aware of what’s around me. ‘did he just walk by with a peanut butter sandwich?’ ‘those muffins looks great! There’s eggs in them, right?’ ‘cool, trail mix! Hey, is that a peanut?’ Whoops.

One hospital trip to stabilize anaphylaxis without healthcare and supportive family would have been an expensive local vacation. And, I can’t imagine if I wasn’t near my epi-pen.. but Canadian healthcare literally saved my life without a bill attached.

So, I appreciate that Obamacare has been revolutionary to the USA for the past 8 years. And for Pres.Drumpf to now be burning those documents without even catching a whiff of the wax seal melting, is -as our new demagogue puts it -‘Sad!’

It all infuriates my anger reconciling with those more dominant world events happening in real time. (Mind you, I’m still weeping over the loss of the Alexandria Library 2 millenia later..) 

To be able to also live within a community that has Race to the Bottom & Whistleblower as a soundtrack..reinforces that dichotomy of ignorance surrounding islands of awareness in our collective headspace. thoughts of ‘what do we do with this now?’ dominate.

To retreat into the safety of melancholic depression, I find peace in the concept of these imaginary islands I’ve been creating. Representative topography. Emotional geography. Visualization of headspace. Favourite places refined to an ideal. Safe workshops of hope recycled from despair.

And that’s where I go when reality is too much to process. That anxiety I mentioned? It’s the gravity that keeps the water suspended next to land, that which creates flotation and peace. 

In each cyclical transition of my life, as they’ve come around again and again with deeper resonance, there’s a persistence in healing energy to be offered next to the pain. One blessing I’m grateful to be aware of. And so it goes. 

One year ago I visited Halifax in search of peace from the particular emotional storm I created this time. It was an extension of my definition of running away – a flight over Canada. And again, this weekend I was in Halifax, an afternoon drive from home this time. Perfectly timed gathering with the one who encouraged me to stay during that first visit. Those synchronicities have been dominant lately, fueled by accepting positive opportunity regardless of whatever negative must be endured. 

Apart from global events, I am optimistic about 2017. School has been a welcome change, and will offer great possibility for personal progress beyond past regrets. The mantra ‘i wanna get better’ echoes next to other anthems of enlightenment ca. 2014/15. (See: music journal.) 2016 being the death of so many inspired souls was a more dreary playlist, but hopeful + steadfast towards love just the same.

I’ve asked a lot of questions in 26 years, I think it’s time to start writing some answers:

Favourite Song: So Much for Everyone – Dan Mangan or Salem – Marin Patenaude (and the Follow Through, Revenge of the Trees – Into the Night II is also rad as fuck.

Favorite Cover song: Hang with Me – Dan Mangan (cover of Robyn), or Jolene – White Stripes (even though that one time I said I didn’t like it better than Dolly’s, sorry Pete)

Best road trip playlists/podcasts: well, ch-ch-changes 2016 Spotify one lately, both ‘Fo Twenny’ and 3:56 are neat random assortments based on length of songs (equal distribution in a playlist is somewhat strangely neat); podcasts – DTFH, Joe Rogan Experience, Alan Cross, CBC radio 3 interview series’, vinyl cafe..

Favourite Place to see a Show: this might be the hardest question for me, formerly the Artery ( ❤  rip) though Aviary is just as rad. Honestly, house concerts rule too. Riverhouse Cafe weekend jam sessions gave many lovely memories. But for, ever, no matter the band? Nancy Appleby Theatre in Athabasca, AB. (home)

When did you laugh the hardest: probably at a Cake Monday dancing to Uptown Funk on the counters wearing a banana costume. Or smashing a gingerbread house with my grandma. but also laughed out coffee on my computer monitor yesterday, sooo…

Patronus (formerly spirit animal): ‘flying buffalo’ aka moose (according to the highway signs in northern Albrrta)

rest in peace,2016

electionjohnoliver

There’s been a lot of talk about how 2016 is the worst year ever. I’m not about to argue that the deaths of 50 beautiful + inspiring souls has created a dampened spirit in the hearts of global networks. These individuals we look to for inspiration, and eagerly appreciate any newsworthy actions from high profile celebrity of great respect.

Is it really the worst year ever? We haven’t experienced a global war this year, nor have we seen great amount of disease. There have been unfortunate and unnecessary massacres all over the world, so yes, it has been filled with tragedy. Including that time Donald Trump stole the US Election….

However, these statements of “worst year ever”are not about the syrian refugee crisis or about climate change becoming a worsening problem. These are statements fuelled by a presumed loss of hope by the bringers of musical, artistic optimism meeting the end of a fruitful, wonderful life. We collectively mourn in status updates and meme-ingful displays on social media. However, this does not well reflect the affect such art has had on our living. I have chosen to show gratitude with each of these stars’ passing, as many others around the world have as well – in a burst of reliving their collective bodies of work. Celebrations of their living do more than bursts of mournful sorrow. Both are expected, but to summarize the sudden loss of our heroes in the statement of the ‘worst year ever’ while cursing the power 2016 has had is to discredit the opportunity we have had to indulge in these magnificent authors of our culture. Celebrity Deaths of 2016 (Summary)

To name a few ways from my own experience, I would not have seen Die Hard with the same interest or conviction (for the first time) had Alan Rickman not passed away in January, nor would i have conducted an interview with an Edmonton connection about the impact of David Bowie had his passing . I was reminded of the power and strength of Leonard Cohen’s beautiful poetry as I relistened to his most mournful classics next to strangefully hopeful ballads. Prince’s death came as a surprise, and because of social networking, I (like many others) learned more about his life than we ever knew because of his untimely death.

Leonard Cohen’s passing, on Remembrance Day of all days, hit me particularly hard, as I realized so many of his iconic words were in the soundtrack of my upbringing. Moreso, they were sung by a family friend who is already gone. I’d already lost my favourite baritone version of So Long, Marianne, before the original was taken by time. The magnificence of his poetry will always be on the ‘to read’ list because there’s always going to be something new to discover..

Most recently, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away with a day of each other – epitomizing the heartbreak we are all feeling as a product of grief, especially as the year draws to a close. Star Wars defined the feminists, the fragile, the Force… In our growing culture of understanding instead of condemning difference, Carrie was a guiding light to help us be more real with ourselves in facing mental illness and addiction. As an icon she was revered but sought to be respected as an individual.

we all loved you, Princess. rest easy. your legacy and inspiration will continue to guide us. #carriefisher #confidence #action

A post shared by hey, i'm jude (@judelovesquestions) on

This is a theme which has been of great prominence in my personal appreciation of public figures. Until thorough examination of personal patterns, my default was to idolize and place people of high regard on pedestals, away from the unsavoury entrapments of humanity. But they are individuals facing health concerns and uncertainties in similar ways. Like our aging parents and grandparents, they too will face memory loss, poor health, and death. Psychological distress can happen to anyone, particularly those facing Life.

This year’s personal and public ripples of community have informed a change of heart –  that our humanity is continually enlightened as we move beyond struggle. Art is the end of confusion and beginning of refocusing beyond pedestals. Our connection to the importance of an artwork means that the creator of the work is simultaneously more and less valuable. The potential for them to create more enhances their worth, but since the idea is released they do not need to be as present

Each one of these celeb deaths invited us to reflect on our connection to their work, to enjoy the company of this public identity once more as conscious enjoyment informs our appreciation. Yet, the irony of timeliness is funny, how the presence of their genius has been preserved in technologic time capsules – consecutive flat pieces of camera film or circles of plastic vinyl grooves allow our memory to rest in the peace they have left for us.

I think part of this anger and confusion that is projected through social media as many stars leave the earth in droves is a reminder that we have loved their work and never been able to tell them about it. So together, we find ways to honour the memories they have helped us create together – wthout them. It begins a new era of their fame – posthumous adoration is out of their control. In a way, it gives us more power to define their legacy once the work has reached completion.

As this ‘horrific’ year comes to a close we must remember that however 2017 comes to us, the loss of this aging. trailblazing generation is natural as time rolls on. The work they have produced has informed our growth and is not going anywhere so long as we continue to access it.

It is a blessing to know the world at the depth we are able, so, thank you 2016 for reminding us of all the inspiration which keeps this pale blue dot a beautiful place to live.

Going forward into 2017, the things that worry us have become the problems we can solve: displaced war refugees, unjust seizures of power under the guise of democracy, basic human rights for our neighbours identifying as something other than heteronormative, and ecological instability which will inform our activism.

Surprisingly, i’m not entering into 2017 blindly optimistic that it will reach some sort of normal. Because once this kind of shit starts, it often spirals out of control. Unless, as in the famous words of Dr. Seuss’s Lorax, someone like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not gonna get better, it’s not. 

So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to care a whole awful lot about the things we CAN change. And let the stuff we can’t simply wash over us. Take it in, surf the wave, and breath in every new day without the weight of despair. Take care of yourself, and let others take care of their own self. Ask for help; offer help.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year is that no one makes it out alive.And dwelling on nostalgic wishes will only keep us depressed. Whether it’s a race to the bottom or apologetic anxiety encouraging a clamour to the top, there’s still going to be someone who calls it soda when you call it pop.

Some advice, if you’ll take it? Calm down, wave au revoir to whatever disaster you may have caused in 2016, and remember to tell those whom you appreciate that they matter.

This has been the year to remember to let [her/him/they/them/it/us] into our hearts, to make a sad song just a little bit better, to sing the NANANANA’s just a little bit louder. This has been the year of embracing the strength of your vulnerability.

2016 has cracked but is not yet shattered, let the light pour in.

In memory of all those we have lost. In honour of all we have been given. Goodbye, 2016.

**header image: screenshot of Dan Mangan’s music video for Race To the Bottom, Youtube 2016.

productive nostalgia

archetypes are our fears

given voices, given chances

to bring us to tears

without speaking to years left behind

are you prepared to unwind

the cables of string theory

linking this life with continuous rewinds

a year in the past

keeps denying fears

from becoming regrets

a day in the life

stands stronger among the rest

pushing towards the best


keeping idols on pedestals is no way to look them in the eye

dreams become our benchmarks for understanding

ways to become truly free

through words, paralyzed by possibility

comparing the best moments

without ever having sight of the hurdles

to be overcome

dare we risk

reaching our goals




at the beginning of the end

I can't imagine who else to be

but in love with being on the mend




'he who does not weep does not see'

spoken by the miserable ones

to declare their desperation for clarity;

though pain can be overcome

we do not know

what benefit we can offer

to the greater good found in

 living, while in our time,

many use the energy they contain

demanding a breakthrough.




falling deeper into the gravity of assurance

keeps the strength I've summoned to be a greater

force than foresight can predict

the brevity of our experience cannot explain

how our desiring

can breathe new life

through eyes of enlightenment

through eager encouragement




healing hurts

and we are not told often enough

because it aches to consider

in moments of anguish

how things could possibly get worse




yet, many days of our life are spent knowing

we've got it pretty good

and no amount of gratitude can bring that happiness to light

once it has been erased.




kitsch-y desperation for understanding

leads us to hunt value in discount bins

and lonely breakdowns;

exasperated from false passion

learning  to make the best of leftovers

culture informs our lessons,

relearning importance in lost generations

always

questioning

why, why, why




Do you ever truly know what you've got til it's gone?

have you ever known a greater delight

than standing in the light

of a sun-soaked moon

reflecting wisdom into the night

determined to make everything right




capsizing the halos on our dreams

emboldening our life with changing seasons

finding ways to live, ending our failure by

remembering how to give

more than is asked




With that in mind, do we ever truly know home?

except as reflections in nighttime windows

and fleeting glimpses of memory

when we are weak, caught in a loop

idealizing the past

clinging with a fierce grasp more tightly

on the confusing past

rather than receiving an open future




with circumstances of our belief

we understand motive to be meek

yet pride haunts this daily churn,

always finding ways to spend what we earn




it may cost more than what you are paid,

we're told to do it anyways.

Keep doing it until the end of days.




Get used to goodbyes

they are evidence of ways we try.




better still, get used to quiet

it will always return

each time with more wisdom

and greater defeat




with hazards of helplessness our obstacles during

soulless fantasy

do you ever really know what was meant to be

or is that the greatest game we like to play?

straight lines + colonial times (poem)

we’re taught how geography is straight lines, 

in clusters, 

forming cities. 

so we learn the names, who runs them, 

and his-story’s take on how they came to be. 


these straight lines occasionally bend around curving water

and rising hills. 

we know them because of

the flat maps of documentation

we inherit, these important memories

reduced to textbooks. 

we memorize. rarely feeling their textures of culture.
 

part of this learning, of how to carry this tradition,

is about building more and better, always. 

never ceasing to explore. 

document, collect, report back. 

this is the formula of colonialism // our heritage


we learn how to cross the river, not how to follow it. 

skipping over the earth’s chapter on flexibility. 

the inherit importance of curving around a rock, 

not blasting through it, 

may be one of the quietest secrets

eroding from our awareness 

with each new set of lines


this type of geography - systematic at best - denies understanding

of cultural nuance. spatial play. 

what it means to explore, truly and gently. 

rather than rape our land of its value. 

we are learning. we must. always. 

how to carve out cravings, and how not to. 

differently from tradition, if tradition is only a temporary gain


the same way feminism redefines equality 

against hard-headed men

in new ways, each generation’s own bra burning is different.

yet the redefining teaches the crude essence of humanity. 

passionate individuality our greatest and most cursed gift. 

emboldened community our saving grace.


to speak for all the world, and yet hear nothing, 

is a failure of many ‘great’ leaders. selfish explorers. 

fearful of what they might find in places ‘untouched’. 

fabricating myths and drawing such fear on maps. 

for them the value of the world is in power; 

what namesake can be stolen, ascribed, and profiteered.

redefined in industrial lenses. 

resources for the marketplace. 

we are told that is the worth of the earth.


as colonial byproducts we can hardly justify

any of our biases. but as humans we must do something 

(or many tend to feel strongly we should try)

is equalized stasis the goal? 

socially and psychologically, 


in this moment of security

as you cup that hot mug of cumulative achievement

and satisfying refreshment


look outside and notice your reflection

alongside the others in the glass.


question this moment, 

is it time for it to pass?

heart work

the connoisseurship of wonder
has discovered great stars
from naval gazing,
reflections in waves

we’re all meant to wonder
we all tend to wander away
from repetition and patterns
wishing us to stay
& waving us away

mixed signals & foggy skies
flags warning danger ahead
observations made with careful eyes
each version uniquely terrifying
for the vulnerable honesty within

guide your compass outward to receive direction – magnetic attractive guidance
is encouraging to our voices’ resonance
turn this compass inward, triangulated by experience and intuition.
underneath a troubled climate
respect attitudes of authority
if only to change them kindly.
share understanding like chocolate,
tasting each layer of nuanced flavour.

cultural privilege is having chocolate to share, but we’ve normalized it.
how deeply in the pool of reflection will we notice our ignorance?

for all of this, give your heart to your work. work on your heart. the art of not giving a shit is a careful routine.
this price of peace is expensive.
a bill containing kindness and listening.

a piece of this golden opportunity is to reach toward being cosmically united.
set loneliness aside for only a moment.

that gilded moment can be your new pedestal. the humility of honoring intelligence can be our new currency.
objectively delighted for peace.

making The Best out of breakfast

each day upon waking

i congratulate myself

for taking unconscious breaths

and remaining alive

this, the celebration

is performed with breakfast,

with breathing, with warming liquid.

ritual strengh brings importance to regular

recalling eagerly declaring ‘the best’ things..

a reminder of how it quickly grows tiresome, forethought

predicts if everything’s better;

nothing competes at all.

 

positive acceptance is different

than competitive ultimatums.

do not sell yesterday short by

prioritizing tomorrow.

each experience, no matter how we judge,

is ours for the taking, and making

‘the best’ out of it.

in this way, i guess, where nothing is best over lost

rather finding the Best part of living,

find joy in each agony. Find this jar of

collected best moments in a thousand tomorrows,

thanking yesterday’s martyrs for sacrifice.

I don’t often free write at 2:17am but here I am, wired, anxious, reflective, and visualizing happiness.

Somethings I did today:
-I participated in the #myanxietylookslike #mydepressionlookslike Twitter trend, and I feel amazing.
– I talked to my dad for more than 5 minutes over the phone and it was easy, enjoyable, constructive…
– I identified with how I am ‘queer’ by gentle comparison with the larger public population at the Halifax Central Library and felt comfortable with it.
– I bought my favourite tea even though I can’t afford it. At the direction of a best friend.
– I began to really let go of some hang ups from MTA, and Edmonton. Nothing’s the same, enjoy the memories. push forward.
– I cleaned, a bit. Enough to become productive again. Damn bed bugs, very grateful for the exterminator coming again soon.
– I registered for an allergy conference – hoping to find networks and courage.

I drew, wrote, painted, and read good things today.
I consumed no alcohol today, even though I had brunch at a bar. (It was delicious)
I remembered MK, AC, JN; those who are forever young in their death and love.
I made a playlist of neat songs I like, as ‘me’ as can be, for now.

I cant keep being so paralyzed. It’s time. Do.