Sitting at the bar I told you everything

I should cancel Spotify. I keep saying I will. My year-end playlist contained two artists: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds and Sharon Van Etten. I am buying real albums again and calling into our local campus radio station with requests.

This was always my favourite song off Are We There but it took me years to actually watch the video.

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nobody will ever see this

As I grapple with feelings pertaining to signing my name to words and the unpredictability of audiences in the digital dogpile era, the thought that nobody will ever see this is a positive affirmation at times. In other frames of my life the statement served other purposes: as a young freelance designer with a technically solid but un-hip and boring portfolio, nobody will ever see what I have to offer. As a library worker, it was the two straight weeks I spent nearly in tears in the sub-basement of the building, unpacking and numbering thousands of mineral potential maps that arrived some decades before, and were casually deemed unimportant enough to languish in the backlog. They sent us two copies of each, so half of them were immediately. “If we don’t have them in the collection already then we’re keeping them,” I was told. For reasons I will not get into here, I had reason to believe it was a punishment of sorts. Nobody will ever see this. It took several months to get them all into the collection and I am very happy that the student who helped me on this uses me as a reference. Nobody will ever see this. I don’t think anyone will ever benefit from our months of work.

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Fixing (and) fear

My car is making a weird noise but maybe it isn’t. I took a dude’s advice on my saddle height on my touring bike and ended up in the hospital. In the absence of appropriate tools, pieces of furniture I assemble might be a little loose. When I say fix I mean quietly making the problem go away, or back to the way it was before. In an attempt to fix things myself I bought a hacksaw, a bolt extractor, a set of drill bits, and a tool that ultimately did the trick. I don’t know what it is called but I have fond memories of the weekend we walked to Canadian Tire and wandered until we found the item we didn’t know how to describe so we did not ask for help. Why is the act of fixing material things sometimes so intimidating? I knew I loved you when I learned that you do not judge me when I don’t know.

I am one of the facilitators of the Information Maintainers community, where we discuss issues related to the day-to-day work that keeps complex systems afloat, and endeavour to recognize the people behind information access. I enjoy helping folks bring their files and archives from past to future. I don’t judge people when they come to me needing specialist software or data support, why do I get so scared needing particular kinds of help – when things are involved? I have come very far in the last few years, now that I no longer instinctively brace for humiliation when I speak up, unsure.

  • _v2
  • _v3
  • _chapter2
  • _chapter2_final
  • _chapter2_final_withcomments
  • _chapter2_final_ugh
  • create new folder and start from scratch and never look down that file path inside

Sometimes it is easier to write hard feelings through lists, schematics, finding aids, reference works.

The colours

From 2000-2002 I was a stoner undergrad who studied art history because it was the only thing I was any good at with respect to anyone else in highschool. I was a solid bottom 15% kid at a school for smart kids that left all of us middle-class kids with serious mental health issues as adults, while all the rich kids became management consultants or war criminals. My father died during my first year of undergrad leaving me traumatized, dropping out of school, and now I choose to not dwell on my 20s, ever.

For a brief period of time in the winter of 2002 I fell into abstract art and got it for a hot minute. The rest of the time I was smoking weed and crying. I love Donald Judd and this video makes me love him more.


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.

In your wounds…