Ghosteen came out when I was alone in Vancouver, a city I am very ambivalent about. I listened to it as I walked between my hotel and the conference and across the bridge to meet a pal and to the airport on repeat all the way home. The swelling before the punch.
In a way, it’s the most Hallmark Cards of Bad Seeds albums, in its quiet and beautiful arrangements and representations of everyday moments of unconditional love – the kind of album one could theoretically listen to in the car with a parent, if one was maintaining a conversation over it the whole time – no BDSM, no Old Testament, no fingering a partner. The album followed a time of great loss and profound grief, both for Cave and the Bad Seeds themselves. I understand loss acutely but until now I have not known the kind of love it helps me identify. With Ghosteen I am pre-emptively bereft and mourning love that will be lost. Read “Violence, Mourning, Politics” after. (Not me, I’m not sure I can read that again.)
The final song is what I hear when I see Australia on fire. “Hollywood” is their longest track to date (sidenote: I use “Babe, I’m on Fire” as an effective unit of measuring time) on love in the time of climate change. Judith Butler calls for a politics of nonviolence based on an identification of our shared understanding of the feeling of being undone by loss and I wonder if tying love to landscape is politically transformational in the same way. “Hollywood” puts love in a burning landscape and asks if it can outrun a fire. How safe are we by the ocean, in a gust of wind, at twilight.
I spent a lot of my childhood around test patterns and it feels good to be back around them. I stitch a bit and go through phases. The ones I eventually finish are sayings, composed in Illustrator and exported with MacStitch, typically delivered months late to the recipient. The ones that have been going on for years are film and video stills, including a giant portrait of Nog from Deep Space Nine (RIP Aron Eisenberg) and a city scene from Blade Runner. I stitched a scene from The Thin Red Line that I had a blurry photo of on my phone.
Over the winter break I stitched everyone their Christmas gifts because I spent all my money on gas. My hand crunched up into a claw at the same time that Dustin started to recover from his various workplace-related repetitive strain injuries. He was heading to a job upstairs in the media library, where he could continue to live out his Gerry Todd dreams.
As I use everyone’s favourite search engine to find appropriate images for this post, it returns local search results first, including film showtimes. My favourite film of all time, Airplane!, is playing in a Toronto theatre this week. I text D to see if we have any Garbage Day plans. I am generally oblivious when it comes to today’s date. Last Wednesday, February 14th, when we ran into a friend and she asked us if we had plans, I responded “taking out the garbage” because it was a Wednesday. It has been Garbage Day since then. We live in one of those weird zones where garbage pickup happens every week and I do not pay for parking.
Today I am to write about something I love. I am almost more nervous about writing about something that I love than any other topic. I want to do the things I love justice, and as I generally lack the vocabulary to describe the feelings that floor me. I give up before I try instead of stammer as I attempt to confront the point. Tonight I will write about Airplane!
I like my job so much because we all take our work seriously, but most of us don’t take ourselves seriously. I love my colleagues for their collective sense of humour. I had my second performance appraisal recently, which went well because I’m happy to smile and laugh my way through it. When asked to name what I was proud of in the last year, I named the cat and dog calendars I made, raising over $2,100 for charity. I was given a listserv for my totally SFW dad jokes (“welcome to 1999,” my highschool pal Victor said, correctly) though that technically happened in 2020.
At the same time, I drove some pioneering work in Canada, took part in making some meaningful improvements for trans folks on campus, and was invited by my professional hero to be on a panel of archivists and librarians at my first academic conference in a long-ass time. When asked what my professional development goals were, I asked my manager if she remembered that scene from The Simpsons, in which Homer tells his new boss about his aspirations:
For ten years, I worked in a turkey-shaped concrete building that took up the whole block and sank two stories into the ground. The majority of the library’s entrances are on the second floor, suggesting those uninitiated to the institution should probably just keep walking instead of figuring out how to get in. Two slight slopes, enough to satisfy ball-fetching dogs, curve down to meet the bottom of the windows on the first floor. As he returned from his break, my colleague informed me that there was a cat downstairs in the tiny valley, understandably anxious because he didn’t know how to get around the building. He bounced off angled exterior slabs and wide staircase rails, posed for several photographs, and eventually I caught a long enough look at the tag on his collar to punch it into my phone. “Ugh, everyone keeps calling. It’s my boyfriend’s cat,” the sleepy voice on the other end replied, “he’ll come back.”
I went up back upstairs to open the department for the day, and one of the student workers learned from Facebook that a cat managed to enter the building through the revolving doors and was presently evading capture in the library.