On seeing Peter Gabriel and Sting: Rock Paper Scissors 2016

 

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I don’t even know where to begin, but I guess I’ll start. I’ve mentioned on this blog before about my love for pre-1975 Genesis and about my obsession with Peter Gabriel back when I first heard Games Without Frontiers. I will never stop being a huge Gabriel fan.

The Eighties were huge in music for many of us born in the Seventies. While punk still lingered in the back of our brains, new wave, and a lot of fusion had taken over the pop scene. There were genres, of course, but it was such a great time for music that you’d hear Lionel Richie played next to The Cure and not bat an eyelash. One of the bands that really stuck with me were The Police. Their catchy reggae and punk inspired tunes hit feelings of nostalgia no matter when they were played and even if their songs were new. When Sting aka Gordon Sumner, branched out on his own, his music was an extension of that. Although you can separate The Police and Sting, you can’t separate the musical styles as a whole because Sting wrote a lot of the music and lyrics. Andy Summers eccentric guitar style is still iconic and Stewart Copeland is still a god of drums in my book. The Police catalogue lives in vinyl records and VHS tapes in my home.

I remember hearing Fortress Around Your Heart for the first time while waking up one morning. I’m sure many teenage girls were seduced by that song and ran out to get The Dream Of Blue Turtles. Or maybe that was just me. UNF, THAT video. *swoon* 

I caught  Sting every time was on television including his appearances on Saturday Night Live (elevator!) and one of the greatest music shows ever, Night MusicI’ve seen him perform solo live a couple of times and with The Police during their reunion. His shows are incredible and besides being great pleasing his fans, he’s such an underrated musician and poet.

In the Nineties I took my mom to go see Peter Gabriel with me because I’d never seen a concert with her that wasn’t salsa music. My little Colombian mom stood there cheering and putting her hands up in the air like she was a long time fan. Well, it turns out she listened to every mixed tape I made her and tried her best to understand me because she’s an awesome mom. That night we hugged and we had the best time ever as mother and daughter singing along to “Sledgehammer,” which was the only song she hadn’t made up words to, since although she’s fluent in English, it’s hard for her to gauge words when sung sometimes. It’s adorable.

When Sting and Peter Gabriel’s Rock Paper Scissors tour was announced, I called my sister. I took her to her first all-ages show (Weezer) and had also bombarded her with mixed tapes of Genesis, Peter Gabriel, and Sting. I needed to see this concert with her. The first time we saw Sting together was the night I had announced to her that I was pregnant with my first child. As I jumped along to the music that night, she kept trying to hold me down to keep me from hurting myself, worried because I was pregnant.

This year, we’ve both hit some hard times. Thus, when I called her about the Sting/Gabriel concert, she immediately said, “LET’S DO THIS.”

Last night was one of the most amazing concerts I have ever had the pleasure of being present at (and that’s saying a lot since I’ve seen some incredible shows). Peter Gabriel started the night off with a rock hard version of Rhythm Of The Heat (you know that BRRRRRONG from the film Inception and the looming drums in most film trailers? Inspired by this song).

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People light up their phone flashlights in lieu of lighters to “Love Can Heal.”

Sting followed after with If I Ever Lose My Faith In You. It’s definitely one of his more pop driven tracks, however, it started what was a great back and forth feeling for the night. Peter Gabriel would drive in, then Sting would answer, and the night felt more like a nice rollercoaster ride of greatest hits and some new tracks as well. As they came up to explain their formula for evening, up on stage the two looked like to best friends about to duel at karaoke. Gabriel would josh on Sting’s looks, while Sting would play up Gabriel’s versatility as a showman. I laughed. I cried. I turned to look at my sister and dance with her. Both of us overjoyed at reliving our teenage hood (we’re eight years apart) together for once.

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Gabriel and Sting comedy night.
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Sister best friends forever.

One of highlights of the night for me was Sting starting off with the first verse of pre-1975 Genesis’ Dancing With The Moonlit Knight (“selling England by the pound”), and then plow right into Message In A BottleIt was as a response to his and Gabriel’s reaction to Brexit this week. Oh and they played so many hits, so many wonderful renditions together of each other’s music. Peter Gabriel did Sting’s If You Love Somebody Set Them Free in his lounge inspired glam style. And that’s the thing, while both of them are prolific songwriters and accomplished musicians, while Sting is Sting by his presence, Peter Gabriel’s been glaming it up with the likes of David Bowie and Robert Fripp for ages. For me, Gabriel is one of the most influential artists out there, not just because of his music, but also by what he always brings to the stage. Whether it’s in costume changes or weird ass dance moves, but Gabriel’s voice transcends the persona he projects up there and brings shivers especially when performing this song:

 

Here’s a setlist for the night: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/sting-and-peter-gabriel/2016/air-canada-centre-toronto-on-canada-43ffa7ef.html

Needless to say I am on cloud nine for a while. By chance because it was Gabriel, I got to see Tony Levin play with two tight lineups in one year (with Peter Gabriel last night, and King Crimson earlier)! I am in prog-rock heaven.

I died. I came back to life. I am refreshed. The dark will back as always, but for now, I have music.

I adore my sister. We’ve both seen each other through thick and thin and best and worst. Last night was the best, not just because of the music, but because it’s a reminder that no matter what, reach out. Don’t give up.

“At the end of ‘Don’t Give Up,’ when the pounding bass takes over, I found myself skanking, dancing reggae style; I was in Jamaica in the spirit of Bob Marley; I saw the break of my marriage, my move from Los Angeles to Rome, my change of name, change of face, my own struggles and determination to make it again ’cause I have friends’ who would help me not to give up.” Armando Gallo, Peter Gabriel, (Omnibus Press, 1986).

 

“‘And Englishman in New York,’ was more of an open tribute to Quentin Crisp. The pair had met when Sting suggested him for a role in The Bride, and their friendship grew when Sting came to New York. ‘He’s one of my heroes and one of the most courageous men I’ve ever met. He was homosexual in England at a time when being so was physically dangerous, and he was himself, with no apologies, in such a flamboyant and brave way that should be an example to us all.'” – Sting, from Sting: the biography by Robert Sellers, (Omnibus Press, 1989)

 

AND BE YOURSELF NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY.

 

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Although they delved into some old stuff, I still wish they’d played these two songs (I was just in the mood for them…although my Gabriel and Sting choices change day by day):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

saturday poem

on perusing my manuscript and finding your drawings in the margin

I want you out.

I want to stop dropping to my knees
at the force of the automatic waterfall
whenever I see something of yours
because I live in us still.

I want you out.

I want you to stop inhabiting my words,
haunting my stories, and
my steps through the city.
Stop interfering with my laughter
it diminishes when
I remember I’m alone.

You obscure my sight
my view of a tomorrow
the memory of you
a shadow
stand in the way.

Lingering dark
black dog.
I want you out.

I want you out
of my liver, my skin,
my core, beyond the ribs that
extend when I breathe us out
my own warmth disappears
in the cold air
frozen by the idea of you.

I want to turn to stone to banish you
with the flick of my wrists
or become empty
like a vessel for
something without within.

But no.

I want you out
Out
please
exorcise you with
smudges and blurs
good days and parties
these exclamations
of hope in paint
and words become
powerless sigils
when you’re here.

I am convenience

because my heart still beats
and tries to keep up
with that rhythm when
we first met
while yours thumps wildly
too far away for me to hear
and also to other metres.

I want you out!

But you can’t do anything
and that’s the rub
that by doing nothing
you’re still there.

Society causes trauma when it is against women’s right to choose

 

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I stand with Planned Parenthood.

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The thing I don’t get about trauma is how people tell you to get over it. Stuff happens. Stuff does happen, but it doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it all right.

Abuse happened to me through other children, adults I trusted, strangers, and these were all times when I was either vulnerable or strong. There’s no formula for the conditions of abuse. It happens. However, a violence that happens to you is a violation that makes a scarring imprint. How do we heal?

I grew up in a very Hispanic family as I’ve mentioned before. Much of the stuff women in Hispanic families are told is based on maintaining a weird patriarchal-matriarchal tension that has become an ideology. You either listen to your mother or you listen to the man of the house. But you always default to the eldest man of the house. If he isn’t around it’s the mother’s words you heed, but if you’re married or seeing a guy, you default to his needs and wants.

You also are taught to repress a lot to maintain appearances or an upstanding status within the community. Women are always shamed into submitting. Women bring shame, men bring honour. Supposedly. This is why abortion is still illegal in many Latin American countries like Colombia. You get put in jail for having an abortion, regardless of how you got pregnant.

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In several circumstances, women and children are silenced within Hispanic families for speaking out against sexual abuse. If you reveal it, the first thing that’s asked of you is how you provoked it or maybe why you didn’t speak up sooner, implying a sort of conspiracy of some sort. This isn’t always the case, but my impression growing up with and around Hispanic families, this was/is the norm for children and women.

And yet, abortion is still illegal in some parts of Latin America. Women are still shamed for not getting married or immediately labelled as lesbian, as if that were a derogatory term.

The way I dealt with trauma was to repress it. Buck up, learn from it, and deal with it. You’re better than your trauma. The problem with that though is if you live many years this way, that trauma manifests itself later on in weird ways. You hurt yourself or hurt others, or your body starts to internally explode with destroying schema. Schemas are supposed to help deal with stress (ie., panic attacks, anxiety, psychogenic seizures, etc.). They help the body deal with mental confusion and pain. It’s injurious though.

There is no obligation to anyone who has had a trauma to speak of it. Everyone finds respite and healing in their own way. I’ve had injurious schema and have lessened it through writing online about it. Why does anyone silence anyone, especially women, who have trauma? If we were allowed to speak of it more, we could understand why it happens. If we understood why it happens, then maybe we could help prevent it from happening so often.

I’m speaking solely as me because I can not speak for every woman, but I can speak to support every woman’s right to choose. I’m writing through the lens of an Hispanic woman who sees abortion as a life saving operation. A women’s right is to be safe and have the potential to do anything that doesn’t involve being with a man. If she chooses not to have a child, regardless of the circumstances, no one has a say in that except because it is her body. A life is not a life unless it is lived. There is no such thing as “potential life.” Maybe we should be imprisoning men who masturbate. Why don’t we? Because they’re men. Why does society try to tell women what’s right and what’s wrong? Because we’re women. That’s the illogical logic.

The attacks happening at abortion clinics around the world are atrocious. They’re trauma over trauma and a way silencing women. You’re killing people. Women who have an abortion are saving themselves. They’re saving themselves from a society that tells them what to do, how to be, how to look, and what to say all in the name of keeping them down and silenced.

There are parts of the world where they arrest women who have an abortion. There are parts of the world where you have to give birth to the child born of rape and incest. There are parts of the world where you are forced to give birth to a child without any regard for the body aka the person it came from.

The terrorists bombing, shooting, and committing violent acts against women to maintain a dominion over them are no better than rapists and violators. They are inhuman pieces of shit procreating a culture of violence and trauma that will never end unless woman take up their inherent right to speak out and claim their own rights.

I stand with Planned Parenthood.

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Fandom: a quick ramble

“Patti with Bolex-1, 1969”

“Oh to be

Not anyone

Gone 

This maze of being

Skin.”

(Patti Smith, “Beneath the Southern Cross”, Patti Smith Compete 1975-2006)

I’m going out tonight to see Patti Smith talk about her newest book, M Train,  at the Design Exchange here in Toronto. I saw her perform once and that was by sure luck and the generosity of a friend who gave me an extra ticket to see her at the AGO. Tickets for Patti Smith always sell out fast here and I think that a lot of venues underestimate her importance in the here and now. The AGO is a small venue and once tickets went up, the fans brought the site down from their demand. It’s made me think a lot about how much we love the heroes we admire.

“The boy was in the hallway drinking a glass of tea
From the other end of the hallway a rhythm was generating
Another boy was sliding up the hallway
He merged perfectly with the hallway,
He merged perfectly, the mirror in the hallway”

(Patti Smith, “Land,” Horses)

Artists and sports legends become these eternal super-people in our minds. I’m a fan of a lot of things, but I’d be left a bumbling fool if I were ever to meet Peter Gabriel, Patti Smith, or Arnold Schwarzenegger (there’s a lot missing though because I should put in Sting, Claire Denis, Ian Curtis, Anne Sexton, Alan Parker, Blondie, Chris Marker, Mary Shelley, etc., etc., but I’m not going to because it would make this too long really). The only thing they have in common is my love for their work, but I guess in some ways Gabriel and Smith connect because of their music. Schwarzenegger stands on his own because my main love for him is because of my favourite film of all time is Conan the Barbarian. It’s not a film that I can easily pull out in auteur conversations without resorting to idiotic quotes and cheesy trivia that only matters to me.

Patti Smith is a good example. I got into Patti Smith about the same time Lou Reed and William S. Burroughs came into my life musically and in books. I connected with the surreal, yet down to earth nature of Burroughs and Reed, but Smith’s music exuded a weird erotic yet grounding existential now for me. She’s just everything I’ve ever wanted to be. She’s a writer, musician, an intellect, and has lived her life well. I can’t imagine ever being like her, but her work is something I aspire to getting somewhat close to.

I planned my first trip to New York City through her book Just Kids. I have two copies: the one I first read, and the other I read again to highlight the places I should go to feel the ghosts of things she’d seen and heard.

“Is was in a Beat humor. The Bibles were piled in small stacks. The Holy Barbarian. The Angry Young Men. Rummaging around, I found some poems by Ray Bremser. He really got me going. Ray had that human saxophone thing. You could feel his improvisational ease the way language spilled out like linear notes. Inspired, I put on some Coltrane but nothing good happened. I was just jacking off. Truman Capote once accused Kerouac of typing, not writing. But Kerouac infused his being onto rolls of Teletype paper, banging on his machine. Me, I was typing. I leapt up frustrated.”

(Patti Smith, Just Kids, pg. 177, Harper Collins, 2010)

This is what I get from Smith: her undying love for the word. She’s a bookworm like me. Her mastery over the word, however, is something so underrated. If I’ve read half the amount of books she has in her lifetime and sucked up so little in turn, I can only aspire and I’m happy there. I never wanted more than to just exist in that middle ground (which I don’t think I’ve reached yet). It’s the middle ground where your brain tries its best to catch with what it has seen, read, and heard. Through the peripheral world of Smith, I’ve come to know the NYC punk scene, the beat poets, the French romantics, and the spin offs in the film world. I owe a lot to my influences, not for what I write or my work, but for the ever evolving thirst to know more than what is within myself. If every person is a universe within itself, I can’t imagine forever being boring. I want to exist in the plane and write in the plane where forever stands still in expectation.

I’m writing this in a spontaneous state of upward mania coming up from down and I know the down is coming real soon again. This is a state where people take their anchors (sad or happy or angry music, cooking up a storm, cleaning the house, focusing on work, taking a walk, lying on the floor, seeing a friend, having a drink, coping, etc.). I’m taking an anchor today in writing my excitement at seeing a hero again. In a time where all the heroes become human because we know way too much about them (or think we do) through media and in the endless twitter stream, sometimes the light isn’t dulled because of their humanity. I guess, the light should never end because of it. However, Patti Smith is one of the few examples that heroes are perfect with their scars, flaws, and imperfections. The gilded cracks in their interior make their exterior shine ever more. They make you want to be the best you, even if that you is full mania and gloom.

“We broke from our moth husks alive in the night,

the sky smeared with stars we no longer see.

A child’ creed stitched on handkerchiefs —–

God does not abandon us

we are all he knows.

We must not abandon him,

he is ourselves

the ether

of our deeds.

The whistling hobo calls, sweeping time, sweeping time.

We sleep. We scheme, pressing the vibrant string.

Happily self conscious, we begin again.”

(Patti Smith, “The Long Road,” Auguries of Innocence, Harper Collins, 2008)

I admire because I aspire and in such my heart sings to just be. This is where one doesn’t give a fuck about what you are in the entirety of it all. I am me and in all my chaotic, self indulgent doom reverie I still scream. From there I create and express. You can’t pin a historic document on a person’s lifetime and you can’t really place a marker of any significance on an individual star. I am mediocrity and a xerox machine. But I am still there, observing, expressing, painting an imprint, and in there is the connection to a universal truth of spirit and faith. Fandom is a religion, like everything else. No one state holds dominion over an individual’s emotions and in that is the validation. Despite the media’s swing of vituperation for failure, the words, lyrics, performance, and spectacle…if the undeniable connection is there, all hail fandom: an escape and return to find one’s true self.

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Say hello to your heroes, lose yourself in them, and revel in the joy they bring. They ask for nothing more than for you to just be.

Your tempest in a teapot,

J

Update: I had no idea there would be a book signing. It’s a weirdo photo of me, but OMG PATTI. ❤

No idea if she’ll read and/or like the book I gave her, but this small exchange …I have no words.

My first published poetry collection and other stuff.

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  • On August 8th I received word that my poetry manuscript, “There Is No Escape Out Of Time” has been accepted by Insomniac Press. It will be out sometime in Spring 2016.

Needless to say, after years of sending out manuscripts and working away at it, I’m a ball of excited emotion about this. Take a look at their catalogue!

When I was a kid it has been my dream to write books that you could look up at the library or bookstore. You could see the name of the book and the author on the spine as you’d scan the rows of shelves. It’s a dream come true and if anything, I’m very happy and grateful to have this opportunity.

  • Some other big news is that I’ve been hired by the Rusty Toque as one of their Senior Literary Editors. I’m honoured to be a part of this magazine and to work with Kathryn Mockler to boot. Their openness to all forms of art, poetry, and literature has been far reaching and I hope to contribute as best I can to it.
  • I’m still plugging away at my novel. I don’t say much on it since it’s taken all sorts of turns to the form it is now. There’s no stresses on it, just a lot of sorting out of arcs, research, and ideas that need fleshing out.
  • This fall The Power Plant in Toronto is opening an exhibition featuring the work of Dora García. García‘s work is heavily influenced by literary references and the exhibition investigates and stages the work of James Joyce through annotated books, performance and video.

I’ve been asked by The Power Plant to give an hour talk on my perspective of the exhibit for their Sunday Scene on  November 8th at 2pm.

First of all, it blows my mind that we’ll have Dora García’s work here in Toronto, but on top of that I get to speak on it!

  • On the film critic front, I’ve been accredited again this year for The Toronto International Film Festival! I’ll be a reporter on the scene doing reviews and interviews for Next Projection. Always a high energy time and I’m over the moon about it. It’s work, but it’s fun.

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More details on everything as this year has been a bit overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fired up though! This with planning the Toronto Poetry Talks (and many thanks to all who have come to help at the monthly meetings!), it’s all go go go. Staying the course and working at it.

Still transcribing Ulysses and plugging away at other projects.

The peripherals.

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There are stages of grief I’ve bookmarked as schemas. Something about shock, denial, confusion, anger, and sadness. The feelings cycle like an eternal wound that will never heal. Eventually the wound might heal, but the scar is always there. It’s all different stages and different outcomes for everyone. People parse things in various ways, in their own ways, due to learned coping methods.

I’ve dealt with some deaths, some immediately close to my heart, others in the periphery. I haven’t been exposed to it as much as most, thus I only know how I render grief. There’s a sickly gut shock that permeates everything, my body, my head, and even my hair. Nothing in my system is immune to that feeling (I’m writing this feeling right now as it has invaded me). A dull ache hits the back of my neck and tension runs down my shoulders to meet the chaotic ill in my stomach. Right now I cry at the recollections, the memories, and the surprise of how sad I feel.

Someone who was once there, smiling and greeting people like they had known them all their lives, will no longer enter the room to make it brighter. That’s when the anger hits in because we as life survivors are helpless at stopping the way life goes. The cruel abruptness makes everything feel pointless. As people who are aware of our fleeting existence, isn’t this something we’ve known all along? Why are we shocked and angered now? Why am I feeling on the verge of tears for the peripheral?

The peripherals. They’re not acquaintances, but they’re not people that you hardly know. They’re like these genuinely special markers that make you reassess the person you used to be when you last saw them. For some reason, peripherals make you want to be a better person, despite you not seeing them as often. They become part of the subconscious world of feeling, knowing, and learning. They are not close to you, but the way they affected you made them so. Let’s take a famous peripheral to some, Joe Strummer, as an example:

In the documentary The Future Is Unwritten, one of his friends explains what it was like to have Strummer call in unexpectedly to say he was coming to town. His friend immediately tells his wife he’s going early to bed. She asks him why. “Because Joe’s coming to town and we could be awake for several days,” (drastically paraphrasing since I can’t find the original quote). Strummer’s friend then goes on to relate that they would spend a week just meeting new people and committing all sorts of wild antics. Many of Strummer’s friends rarely saw him, but when they did, he’d breathe new life into their worlds.

Strummer was a peripheral to some, but he made such an impact that the memories still live on to affect others.

Today some of my friends grieve for a close friend. Others, like me, grieve for a pretty amazing peripheral. I knew this person since 2003, mainly online. He’d troll my dramas and then when we actually met, I found them to be such a cordial and warm human being. They’d come in and out of real life threads throughout the years, like a surprise treat. Bear hugs. Good to see you again. Of course, you’re always here. Family.

Out of the anger there will be numbness. There will also be connecting and reconnecting with those closest to one another. There will be rehashing of stories and memories of the people we love and have loved. I’ve always known that as individuals we are part of many villages. In my head, out of my core, everyone in every one of my little villages already knows each other. Sometimes the peripherals in these villages ebb and flow in their immediacy to me, but they’re always there. There’s stability in that, in their appearance and reappearance.

I don’t know if I hate the sick first shock feeling more or the way life ridiculously goes on. The wound is so deep at first and then, after whatever time it takes, the person’s face becomes a memory or a feeling. They become a part of you and you take them, the emotion they evoke, with you forever.

Intense grief becomes a part of my everyday, the numbness subsides a bit, and maybe I find my routine again. Life goes on without someone you love.

The peripherals are powerful, and almost supernatural connectors. They march into a room with hundred watt smiles and make everyone happier to have known them. It could be in the hugs they give or bits of wisdom they impart. Sometimes it’s just the fact that they make you laugh for something you’d never do yourself. There’s a brutal honesty, bravery, and vulnerability in the peripheral.

Going out for drinks tonight with some beautiful souls.

I’m thinking of dandelion wisps today for some reason.

On Pluto and science.

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The new image of Pluto, taken from the New Horizons probe on Monday. http://www.theguardian.com/science/video/2015/jul/14/pluto-new-horizons-science-nasa-cheers-video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvU_ir9jkG4

It was my father who introduced the night stars to us; that is the stars in the way they’re meant to be seen. My sister and I were aware of space, I mean, of course it’s all around us, but it was on a road trip that we became viscerally attuned to its magic.

Earlier that week my mother received a phone call late in the night. It was news from my great aunt that her son, my mother’s cousin (in Latin American terms that would make him my uncle), was dying of pneumonia. He had been calling out for my mother, Nelsy, on his deathbed. The two were very close once. The next day, after much family discussion, we organized a family road trip to see him. My sister and I gave notice at school and took our homework with us to do on the road. It would be a far trek from Toronto to Tucson and I didn’t even know my uncle. However at thirteen, I was glad to be out of anything to do with school and the teenage weariness that came along with being with others my own age. I loved school, I just never felt like I fit in at grade school.

I don’t remember if it was after we met my uncle (he died the day after) or if it was on our way home, but at some point my dad pulled over in the middle of the desert. He had to take a leak and there wasn’t a rest stop in sight. It was completely dark out, but for lights of towns reflected in the hills around us.. Each hill was girdled by the impossible greenery that fed off of it. Giant cacti, low bush, and alien-like flora dotted the stretch of the flat lands and valleys which reached up to the dunes and ridges. The freeway lights caught a bit of this, but my dad made his way to some bushes by the lighted path of our car’s headlights.

“Yac-ke-leen!” my dad yelled out from behind the bushes. “No mires para aca! Tell your mother to open up the sunroof.”

There were tiny lights above the window, but when my mother opened it up, it seemed like we were looking at the entire universe. My eyes seemed so small to take in the big expanse of the universe above. The sight of the milky way filled me with both fear and unexpected arousal. I woke up my sister and we both stood there enamoured by something so incredibly real that it should be impossible.

“Star Trek is real!” my sister said.

“Yeah,” I replied.

I was speechless. I’d grown up mostly in the city, living in apartment buildings, and never seeing anything like what I saw that night. It was like watching a fairy world materialize. The sky stopped being heaven to me. It was a place people could go to, went to, and the moon landing was an actual thing in my brain; before it was just textbook fodder. Clouds and flight were possible, but airplanes weren’t going to take me to space. I got hooked on hard science fiction books and alien stories right then and there. I took an astronomy course in university and made a compass to track the stars (an astrolabe). I almost failed the course, but the professor saw my enthusiasm and took some time to offer me a list of visual references that would help me for my final exam. It gave me confidence, if not for science, but to know that having a passion for something can sometimes surpass the boundaries we impose on our own brains.

Some time after having my kids, I got the harebrained idea of studying physics through the extended learning courses at the University of Waterloo. I ordered the materials and studied, but my mind couldn’t wrap itself around the abstract concepts. I gave up and the next summer I took a similar course through UofT’s continuing education programs. It was a course aimed at people who wanted to learn about astrophysics, but not necessarily get a degree in it. I loved it. If I had the money and the time, I’d go back and take more of them.

I did some research and looked into getting a mathematics or science degree on top of my English literature degree. I enrolled through UofT again and took half a semester of first year algebra. I barely passed the first test, but I was having so much fun. It was odd feeling like my brain couldn’t do anything because it was so overwhelmed with information. I’d get one concept out of the hundreds, but there was a huge satisfaction that came with figuring that one thing. I should have audited the course instead. I quit and went back to concentrate on my strengths: running and writing.

Today came with news of the New Horizon’s probe flying by Pluto, giving us a visual of a perfectly round dwarf planet. Pluto is the awkward goth of the solar system. Scientists have wars on the semantics of it, whether it should be classified as part of our turf or not. Pluto doesn’t give a shit. It’s been orbiting the sun in its weird pattern, isolated from discussions, and the meaning humans have imposed it. Lord of the underworld in mythology and romantically cursed with love for Proserpina for the benefit of Venus. It is because of that love in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, that we have seasons. There’s a reason for Pluto in some astrological charts. It helps believers discover their inner world and learn beyond the blanket of our darkness. That is, if you believe in those things.

There’s a weird thing that happens when an event in space exploration comes to the forefront of the news.  People get a little bit excited even if it has no direct impact on our personal life experiences. Every day we share an existence like celestial bodies orbiting and changing one another even if we are unaware of it. Traffic, meals, dogs, ants, the street busker, the traffic cop, teachers, et cetera, all influence our inner world peripherally. Our lives are so isolated from another though. You can’t read my brain and I can’t read yours. We can only decipher feelings and thoughts through gesticulations and words. As socially adept as you can be, we all live an individual insular existence. There are worlds within worlds beyond worlds influenced by other worlds within ourselves. We spend most of our lives trying to discover and come to terms with those spaces in our brain, so its quite a miracle that we can, and even attempt to, communicate. Connections are vital and the forces of repulsion and attraction drives our lives daily. We reproduce, make choices, build, destroy, and consume all in the name of an unspoken pull for purpose.

Our planet Earth can not exist without the other celestial bodies doing their thing around it. While we have our wars and go through the cycles of life, we are hurtled through the galaxy like a baseball being flung into the skies. Humans as space travellers continuing to make poetry about our spaceship Earth and our associations within it. But Pluto doesn’t give a fuck. It’s the honey badger of planets looking all spiffy and cool as people “oooh” and “ahhh” at its photo. It suddenly exists before our very eyes.

Looking up at the stars is an ubiquitous action.

There really is no particular point to this post, but to say I still love science. Science is like the cool kid I thought I wanted to be. Out in space with all the mathematics and scholarly language humans can muster, an astronaut is a tiny speck. The astronaut observes and studies, but to the ether it is nothing. Our probes are tiny gadgets that only mean something to us. In the mysterious universe of synchronicity, there once was a man who told his daughters to look up at the night sky to feel dreams become aspirations. Today there was a photograph taken of Pluto that told the world to look up beyond itself imploring it to continue dreaming.

**Edited to add: Pluto Shits On The Universe by Fatimah Asghar

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/250212

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My friend reminded me that I’m obligated to include SCIENCE!

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/70051022″>Thomas Dolby – She Blinded Me With Science</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user19454554″>Mad Hatter</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>