Stopping by Woods on a Rainy Fucking Evening

You may recall how I ballsed up Christmas.

Audra and I decided to have a new year’s do-over.

I made breakfast in bed, we gave each other gifts, and had pretty much the greatest time that two people can have.

This is the singing bowl she gave me (like her, it is amazing):

2011 is going to be a great year.

During the solstice, a handful of us tried to watch the eclipse, but were thwarted by cloud cover. I’m not big on arbitrary holidays, but I love the solstice, and I love eclipses. Astronomical events bring me a kind of clockwork peace; a reminder that no matter how hard we might fuck things up, everything’s going to keep going. The solstice is when I think about what I’ve done in the last six months, and what I’m going to do in the next. A starting point and a finish line.

Eclipses are incredible, regardless of what kind they are. We are very lucky, on this island earth. Do you know how rare total solar eclipses must be, out there across the stars? They’re not a perfectly normal, common effect of planetary motion, like a sunrise, or the waxing of a moon. It just so happens that our sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, and 400 times further away. That’s why the disk of the moon covers the body of the sun almost perfectly, letting us see the corona. And in a few hundred million years, the moon will have moved far enough away from the earth that there will never be another eclipse.

Before then, remember to look up.

probably if i had some cat antlers i’d be fine

I don’t know how to deal with Christmas. Aside from some great hangouts with great people, the entire thing is just a disaster, and it’s still a better-than-average year. Every time it comes around, I think “well, maybe it’ll be alright this time”, and then it’s just catastrophe after catastrophe.

Usually it’s at least someone else’s fault. Family crisis, funeral, hospitals, cops, whatever. This year it was all me. I spent yesterday evening and today with Audra, and I’m so stressed out about the possibility of having a terrible fucked-up holiday that I have managed to:

  • Fuck things up with regards to receiving presents
  • Fuck things up with regards to giving presents
  • Fuck up her boxing day breakfast making
  • Fuck up our boxing day post-breakfast pre-hangout plans
  • Fuck up her boxing day post-hangout evening plans

Fuck.

A head full of noise and muscles singing like high-voltage wires; all I want for Christmas is to sleep until spring.

The winter of our discount tent

December Update: Winter has started to settle in, and I expect I should start to be able to feel my toes again sometime in mid-March.

Work is frustrating. I don’t feel like I’m adding to anything. All my initiatives have been stopped dead or put on indefinite hold. Most of the contributions I’ve made in the last two months are re-implementations of features and designs that were stripped out while I was away on tour. Plus, someone in security apparently has it out for me (if you’re reading this over a wireshark capture, let me know and I’ll buy you a coffee), and my boss has been uncharacteristically jerkish for the past week.

I’m frustrated at things going on in my personal life, but have nowhere to write about them.

I’m upset at things happening to people I care about, but can’t do anything about it.

Some great days in the last few weeks, but they’ve still been hard weeks.

Whatever. Trying to shake it off. Killing Joke tonight. Yes.

Shake the Disease

(I’ve stalled on my 30 days meme, but only because the next entry is “your music in great detail” and I have no idea where to start. I’m also behind on posting the final tour diary, but who’s counting?)

I’ve had something hanging over me all week. I can shake it for a meal and a movie, but it comes back when I look the other way. I can’t tell where it’s from. Grey autumn skies seeping under my skin, the bends after coming up too fast for air when the tour ended, person after person cancelling plans while I’m shaking off envy of other people’s friendships, or something else, outside my vision.

Sleep retreats like summer nights, and I can’t make it more than an hour without waking. It’s 4:30 in the morning (it’s always 4:30 in the morning) and all I want is for the night to be over because I’d rather be working than thinking and it’s gotta be warmer at work than it is in my apartment anyway.

(It’s not.)

The days are long, the nights are erratic, and my schedule seems more like a threat than a commitment. The leaves outside my window have started to change (red maples bringing mono no aware to Canadians with neither sakura nor sensitivity), and the chill in the air is a promise of winter.

One week until equinox.

trying to break into an electric lightbulb

It has been a long winter, and I’m finding myself in places that I never thought I would be.

I don’t know exactly how I got here, and I don’t know exactly what comes next, but I’m happier and more optimistic about where things are going than I have been in years.

The next few months are going to be busy: finishing production on a friend’s album, releasing an Ad·ver·sary remix album, going to SXSW Interactive, preparing for Kinetik, and a half-dozen other Big Things — but I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Good riddance to 2008.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Fucking Evening

I’ve been trying to find my centre. Winter is under my fingernails and on my lips, and I need to shake it loose before it gets to the bone.

More than anything else, what the season brings me is isolation. I end up so lost that simple things like touch, sharing a meal, or holding up my end of a conversation become overwhelmingly complicated, and leave me feeling sensitive and nervous.

I don’t know where I need to go to find what I used to have; all the signs are in another language, and all the maps are made of dust.

November

Can I feel the days getting shorter? Is this just psychosomatism, or is it something closer to the soil? There is winter in my bones, and autumn on my skin.

I had dinner with one of my sisters, and this is likely contributing to how I’m feeling. Family always fucks me up this way. I don’t know how to be comfortable with where I come from.

It troubles me that I do my best work when I’m troubled. I spent all day designing for restraint (always restraint), and I created and deleted more in one day than I’ve done in the last year. I need to channel this, while it lasts.

There is something more here, and I need to find and follow it.

If you’re running in a fog too thick to see, you might as well close your eyes.

on the road to delphi

I can feel autumn wrapping around the city like a blanket, whispering about the winter to come.

I’m hoping to use this time now to get things done before the snow settles on the city. I know that once winter is here, I’m going to have a much harder time with everything, and I’m trying to turn that awareness into motivation: Finish building restraint. Finish producing Mike’s album. Gut and rebuild my bedroom. Get the Ad·ver·sary remix boxset done. Make more personal space.

I used to have limitless drive for these things, but I can’t sustain it anymore. I don’t think it’s age that’s weighing me down (although in frankness, I am terrified of turning 30 next spring), nevertheless it feels like something has crawled into my skin and hidden that energy from me.

Or, more likely, something about the way that I’m thinking and the things that I’m doing is feeding back.

By speaking this aloud I may very well be invoking it (or so Thelema would caution me), but I’m privately and extraordinarily concerned about attendance to next Tuesday’s show. The last month has been the quietest month at Zaphods that I can recall (on par with the doomed Mono No Aware show years ago), and if what is traditionally the biggest night of the year ends up being a dead show, not only will it be financially crippling but also a tremendous kick in the balls.

Next year would be the 15th annual Industrial Strength Halloween (would’ve been this year if Eugene hadn’t preempted last year’s party), and the idea was to go balls-to-the-wall all out for it, but if Tuesday has a weak showing then we may have to reexamine our expectations.

…with that said, if next Tuesday doesn’t have the attendance we’re looking for, it’s not the end of the world. We have a ton of new promo material on the way, we (finally) have management that supports us and has a free hand to help, we’re trying to rent a bus to ferry people to industrial night from Kanata after the NIN show in three weeks, and there’s more in the pipe. So even if, hypothetically, everyone who had ever been out on a Tuesday vanished tomorrow, we’re not dead in the water or anything along those lines

But it would be really fucking disappointing.

Maybe I need a pilgrimage.

softer, lesser, slower, weaker

I took a sick day today. I’m feeling pretty icky, but mostly I’ve just got the winter blues, and I wasn’t up to a Monday morning.

I feel like shit whining about how I feel like shit, especially since I’m well aware how heavily the season is weighing on my mood. I know that it’s exaggerated, and that if it were bright and sunny I wouldn’t really feel this way, but that doesn’t change what it’s like inside my own skin.

I’m not going to be heading out on the Chemlab tour with Cyanotic. The details of why aren’t really important, but mostly it just didn’t make for good logistics.

I’d like to take some of my vacation time and travel somewhere, commitment-free. Nowhere fancy or far away, just somewhere where I won’t be DJing, playing, working, or doing anything out of obligation. A week in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, to drink coffee, explore the streets at night, and wrap myself in the anonymity that comes with being a stranger in a big city.

I do have friends and family in all of these places, but I’m not sure that my navel-gazing would make for good company. I’m also not sure where I stand with a lot of these people — not for any reason other than the erosion that silence and distance work on relationships — and I don’t want to impose my yearly existential crisis on anyone else.

I don’t talk much about why this time of year upsets me so much, or about the place that it puts me in.

A year or three ago, I wrote my excessively wordy LJ bio:

“I would tell you of my childhood, but I remember very little. I lived with my mother, and I was sixteen before I saw both of my parents in the same room together. I remember moving, always moving. I remember being kidnapped when I was eight, and a Christmas that the Hell’s Angels gave us a tree and gifts when we didn’t have money for food, much less toys […]

Mostly I remember a sense of profound sadness; A feeling that above all, life is about survival, and little else.”

That’s what Christmas reminds me of, and that’s how winter makes me feel. I was always profoundly aware every Christmas just how poor we were, and how hard my mother worked to bring my brother and I that single day of toys, smiles, and happiness. She’d do everything she could to get us whatever it was we’d been dreaming of all year (which was almost certainly video games), and more often than not she’d succeed — but it wasn’t what she gave us that was depressing, it was the struggle itself. It brought into sharp focus just how little life cares for fairness, how naive the idea of karma really was.

When I was a very, very young child, it was Kelvin, my grandfather, who would take me fishing, or to a new movie, or to the arcade. He wasn’t related to me by blood, but he was my grandfather, and I loved him as much as I loved my mother.

He died on Christmas day when I was eight. My mother didn’t tell me until Boxing Day, and I vividly remember how numbing the news was. I didn’t feel shocked, or sad, or much of anything at all. I didn’t cry when she told me, or at his funeral, and in all truth and honesty I don’t remember crying again until I was fourteen and I found a hidden folder of stories and comics on a friend’s computer, each one making fun of me in a different way: My hair, my nose, my teeth, my voice, my everything.

I do have good memories of Christmas — staying up all night and all day with Josh playing our new Nintendo 64, seeing the little furry ball of kitten that my mother surprised me with, sitting on the porch with Tracy Page and smoking cigarettes, watching the snow fall — but they’re few, far between, and hopelessly outnumbered.

Now I try to spend Christmas with friends, in a quiet, safe space; but Christmas is just one day in a long winter.

This is why I travel so much during winter, in spite of how unhappy the cold makes me. When I’m writing in an empty Toronto cafe with the wind pounding at the door, or walking down St. Catherine between giant snowflakes, that’s my insulation. My quiet, safe space. It’s not fair to expect my friends and family to shore me up emotionally every day until the sun comes back.

LE SIGH

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate this time of the year? Every year, you say?

Well, I still do.

I don’t know what’s happening with this Cyanotic/Chemlab tour. Which is bad, considering that I should be booking my time off now, if it’s happening. The problem with being involved in Cyanotic is that you can never really count on anything; the ground is always shifting whenever you look the other way.

…which is fine, given that I’ve been neglecting Ad·ver·sary as of late, due to post-cyanotic-fatigue and pre-label-frustration. I’ve got a handful of releases in various states of completion that I need to deal with:

International Dark Skies: My 2005 demo that labels keep saying they want to release and then not releasing. Current label: Fich-Art, run by the Ars Moriendi crew (Asche, etc). This thing is years old, and I’m tired of it just sitting here.

Bone Music: Full-length album containing some tracks from IDS, some newer reworkings of IDS tracks, plus remixes of IDS from other artists. International Dark Skies 2.0, really. Mostly done — just need to collect remixes and finish one or two tracks.

Channel Zero: This is what I’m working on now. All new material, concept album. Maybe 1/3 done. I’m probably biting off more than I can chew with how I’ve planned it, but we’ll see how it turns out.

The Raven Prince: This won’t be an AVS release — it’ll either come out as a self-titled (if there’s not already a band called The Raven Prince), or I’ll release it under Jairus Khan. 3-track EP soundtrack to a children’s origin-myth-slash-fairy-tale I’m writing.

It would be nice if any of these ended up the way I see them in my head.

Ryan’s a good friend, and I hope his new night is a smash success (and selfishly it would be awesome to have a place where Leslie or I could play an all-goth industrial-free guest DJ set), but I really wish that someone would do a weekly that wasn’t marketed as a statement about Industrial Strength Tuesdays (or “the scene” or whatever). It’s always “re-vamp” and “making the scene a threat” and “the REAL underground” and etcetera. It would be nice if someone did an event that was just marketed as “You like good music? Come to our night! We play good music!”

(Here’s the part where I sound like an arrogant jackass) Aside from Victor (RIP Le Bistro), I’m the only person in town who’s run a successful goth-oriented night in the last ten years (if I’m missing someone, let me know), and I did it twice. The reason they were successful is because they weren’t a reaction to Leslie’s night; if we picked them up and dropped them in a club in Montreal or Boston, we wouldn’t change anything about them. All of the nights/events that have started as an ‘alternative’ to Tuesdays have crashed and burned, because a) the music they play will always be defined by the music played on Tuesdays, and b) there just aren’t enough people who wear black to support two competing events — and let’s be frank — Industrial Strength Tuesday has over ten years of inertia, and any of the events that have openly and directly positioned themselves as competition are punching far above their weight.

The only events that have done well here in the last fifteen years (and this includes Zaphods, Le Bistro, Thunderdome, Dark Crystal, Absinthe, or any other) are the ones that worked to compliment the nightlife, rather than compete with it.

You can run an event that’s founded on aesthetics, or the community, or what-that-guy-across-the-street-is-doing, but they’re not sustainable. The only events that have any staying power are the ones founded on the music.

I’m done now.

how is it that you can survive here?

She’s beautiful, the most beautiful person I’ve ever known, and she has no idea.

I look at her and I can’t imagine ever wanting anything more.

Every year at this time, I have to catch myself.

The days get shorter, the wind grows teeth and draws a grey coat around the world.

I can see it happen. I can watch insomnia and illness bleed me dry. I don’t think I have what it takes. I don’t think I can do what I need to.

Even with her beside me, I don’t know how I’m going to make it through, this time.