Fantasy: Issue No. 14

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no . 14 fantasy

DAVID SEDaRIS

words with friends

JESSICA KRUGER

murderballin’ model

STORY TIME Quarterly Conversations about Arts & Culture

fiction contest winner

ISS 14

14

7

252 7 4 9 4 9 7 1

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6.95 ca / printed in canada


N ITE NATIO L O P A R O WORDS F STRONG

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SUBTERRAIN IS A PUBLICATION OF THE SUBTERRAIN LITERARY COLLECTIVE SOCIETY DESIGN + PHOTOGRAPHY DEREK VON ESSEN CREATIVE


THE SHAPE OF DVENTURE THE SHAPE OF DVENTURE

This Day in Vancouver The City of Vancouver has been through a lot in its first 125 years. It’s a city that has played host to Expo ’86 and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. A hotbed of political activism, technological innovation, and bitter racial tension, Vancouver is the stomping ground for world-renowned actors, twisted serial killers, and the founders of Greenpeace. It’s a city on a journey; a journey that has taken it from being an unrefined, frontier logging village, to its current position as one of the most livable cities in the world. This Day in Vancouver is the story of that 125-year journey, one day at a time. isbn: 978-1-927380-42-0 | 416 pps. | $38 can/usa 10 x 8 | Illustrated throughout | October www.anvilpress.com | Represented by PGC/Raincoast

vanmaritime.com

by Jesse Donaldson

what’s your fantasy?

—Anonymous submission


featured contributors

ashleigh rajala divides her time

afra michael boissevain is a

lover of poetry and people. She has spent the last few years travelling, writing, and falling in love. Her work is informed by sensory explosions and the pursuit of beauty. She currently resides in Toronto. You can reach her at @afraboissevain.

rachel burns is a writer, editor

and comedian. She was an issue editor at Room magazine and has appeared on stage at Bumbershoot and the Vancouver Comedy Festival. Rachel believes in the inspirational power of yoga, cookies, and small, fluffy animals.

sean cranbury is a bartender,

contributing writers

contributing photographers

Kristin Ramsey Copy Editor

Pamela Rounis

Afra Michael Boissevain

Tristan Clairoux

Rachel Burns

Kyla Jamieson

Carmen Faye Mathes Web Editor

Sara Bynoe

Clint Lofkrantz

Sean Cranbury

Nich Hance McElroy

Jodi Garwood

Martina+Reem

Kyla Jamieson

Kathryn Mussallem

Monika W. Koch

Stu Popp

Nina Paula Morenas

Leigh Eldridge

Kieran Elise O’Brien

K Stewart

between a variety of poverty-inducing ventures: writing for fun and writing for torture; watching far too many movies and reading far too few books. She is the winner of our Fantasy Fiction Contest. She recently moved from Vancouver to London, read about it on her blog: sandpaperblues.wordpress.com.

Stephanie Orford Stu Popp Ashleigh Rajala Emily Ross Sara Szlobloda Alize Zorlutuna

contributing artists Caitlin Bauman Rebecca Chaperon LeeAndra Cianci Jessica Eaton Amelia Garvin Wade Janzen Pamela Rounis Gilly Russell Ola Volo

editorial staff Katie Stewart Creative Director Michelle Reid Co-Editor-in-Chief

Emily Ross Web Editor Jayme Cochrane of Slant Design Web Designer Deanne Beattie Founding Editor-in-Chief Brandon Gaukel Founding Creative Director

contributers to sadmag.ca Hannah Bellamy

writer, and independent digital media maker based in East Vancouver. He is the creator and host of Books on the Radio, a radio show about books, which features new voices and ideas in books and book publishing. Sean is also founder and curator of the Real Vancouver Writers’ Series.

Jessica Russell Melanie Shim Farah Tozy Shannon Waters Sad Mag is published four times per year by the Sad Magazine Publishing Society, Suite 534, 2818 Main St., Vancouver, BC V5T 0C1 Email: hello @sadmag.ca

ISSN 1923-3566 Contents ©2013 Sad Mag All rights reserved.

Ariel Fournier

Jackie Hoffart Co-Editor-in-Chief

Kait Fowlie

Pamela Rounis Lead Designer

Mark Hombrebueno

Caitlin Bauman Designer

Monika Malczynski

Sara French Grant Hurley

Robyn Humphreys Designer

Lawrence Mathes

Kristine McLellan Copy Editor

Nina Paula Morenas

Kaitlin McNabb Copy Editor

Maddie Reddon

Schmuel Marmorstein Lise Monique Oakley Emily Ross

Distribution coordinated by Disticor sadmag.ca facebook.com/sadmag twitter.com/sadmag #MariahOnFiyah


LETTER FROM THE EDITORs

At sad mag, we are engaged in a shared fantasy on a daily basis. What can we dream into reality on our pages? What collaborators and partners will work with us to realise our wild ambitions? Whose words, photography and art will crack open new worlds and possibilities? We are consistently blown away by how Vancouver’s talented and supportive creative community responds to these questions, and we’re always excited to hear from new potential contributors. We had some sweet, sweet fantasies for our fourteenth issue, and have watched with delight as they have unfolded before our eyes. We are especially proud to present the first-ever piece of fiction in sad mag: “The Stars—Les Étoiles” by Ashleigh Rajala, winner of our Fantasy Fiction Contest. It was hard to choose a winner from the array of submissions, but we believe this story is truly fantastical. We’ll also be unveiling some of the other shortlisted submissions exclusively on SadMag.ca. Within these pages we’ve managed to cover all the fantasy-related adjectives: tawdry, dreamy, far-fetched, romantic, desperate, and amazing. For those of you who have been reading since we launched in 2009, we think you’ll agree that each issue is more substantial and beautiful than the last. To our new readers and subscribers, we’re delighted that you’ve picked up this issue, and we hope you love it just as much as we do. — michelle reid & jackie hoffart, Co-Editors-in-Chief

table of contents

06 08 10 12 16

Rebecca Chaperon Eerie dearie

Photography by Clint Lofkrantz

Dispatches Montpellier, Bangkok, Istanbul

Downward Job A spiritual employment quest

Sad Love The gritty reality of online dating

18 23 24 27 28

Fantasy fiction contest winner The Stars—Les Étoiles

Photography by Nich Hance McElroy

David Sedaris Words with friends

Vancouver Special

Playbuoys In search of sexy sailors

on the back cover

Jessica Kruger (p.32) Photographed by Martina+Reem

Painting by Rebecca Chaperon

Floral headpiece by the Flower Factory Kodak Portra 400

Caught on a Wind from a Parallel Dimension 12 in x 16 in Acrylic on Canvas

Jessica Kruger Student, athlete, baker, supermodel

Photography by Tristan Clairoux

Amelia Garvin On art orgasms and sadness

Lightning Dust

Person, Place, Thing

sad mag would like to thank

Lise Watier

$10 Tarot

Maylies Lang

Deanna Beattie

Megan Lau

Veronica Best

Love Medals

Caitlin Callahan at MAC Cosmetics

Katrina Molson

Adam Cristobal

David Sedaris

Sarah Danniels

on the cover

32 38 40 43 44

One of a Few The Flower Factory Jordanna Hardy Instant Theatre David Jack Kroma Acrylics The Lab Lightning Dust

Darren Li

Anvil Press Specimental Design Storm Crow THEY representation VanArts The Vancouver Maritime Museum


: Interview

Rebecca Chaperon Eerie dearie by emily ross art by rebecca chaperon photography by k. stewart

Painter Rebecca Chaperon tells stories with surreal images and fantastical juxtaposition. Since moving to Vancouver in 1995, Chaperon has witnessed and contributed to the changing art scene in Vancouver. Gaining success and recognition from previous shows and publications, Chaperon is ushering in a busy fall with three notable accomplishments: a joint exhibition with Angela Fama at the Initial Gallery, the launch of her first book, Eerie Dearies, and a show for the original drawings that inspired the book.

emily ross: How did you become involved in art? rebecca chaperon: Since I was little, I was always

drawing. I would work on things with my mom—she was always doing crafts and was very creative, so there was that drive there. Though I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do [art], I remember graduating high school and thinking, “I would like to do something creative—maybe I’ll do design.”

After high school, I did a general year at Kwantlen and took a drawing class. It was at night and I remember it being totally cool. The room was like a mixed-use room, so the painting students used it as well. I remember it smelling like linseed oil. I have very vivid memories of how it smelled. Icebergs in Love 3 ft x 4 ft Acrylic on Canvas

At that point, I didn’t feel that confident about what I was making, but I was so excited by what other people were making.

I just felt like, “That’s what I want to do, that’s the feeling I want to have.” I want to make something and be excited by it.

er: After Kwantlen, you transferred to Emily Carr. What made you chose their Fine Arts program?

rc: My last year of high school was spent in White Rock,

but I had grown up in Ontario. It was a really big move [to Vancouver] at a time of life when you want your friends around you and you’re used to things a certain way—and want them to be that way forever. Had it been one more year, after high school graduation, people would have been going off and doing their own thing anyway; but I think [having moved already], I wanted to be somewhere close to where I was. I didn’t want to go through a big change again, so I chose to go to Emily Carr.

er: How did you end up specializing in painting? rc: I didn’t really feel that comfortable doing 3D fine art like

sculpture or installation. It was messy and chaotic and the tools were loud, and [painting] was just more my speed. I’m kind of a quiet, solitary person anyway.

er: How does a typical day for you start? rc: I wake up in the morning and for a while, I was coming here kind of early. But I find that because my day can go quite


long, I’ve stopped pushing myself too hard in the morning. I get here around 9:00am or 9:30am and then I’ll do little tasks throughout the day to break it up.

er: How do you transition from life outside the studio to life inside

nostalgia and create a new story from it—I want to insert myself into those landscapes a little bit.

er: As you’ve used art to explore, how would you say the Vancouver

the studio?

art scene has allowed you to grow? Is it really as isolating as people claim?

rc: I feel that often I need to think about things when I’m not

rc: You know, I think I’ve gone through evolutions since I

at the studio, because once I’m in this room, it’s go. I’m just in this really fast-paced environment. I try on my walk here to be really calm and meditate on the fact that I’m taking one step at

Fuji Instax

graduated in 2002. When I graduated, I felt a little unprepared and a little annoyed at that, because I’d gone to art school and paid that money and then here I was not knowing how to move forward. So I did some of the things I thought I was supposed to do, and nothing really came of it. I think at that time I thought to myself, “Oh god, you have to paint boring landscapes to be able to make money.” At the time I was painting these little ink drawings of robots and thought, “I’ll never paint landscapes,” which is hilarious because now I totally paint landscapes. So I think there’s a maturity thing about it.

“ I’m trying to take those experiences and that nostalgia and create a new story from it.” a time, because I know once I open the door and walk in, it can be overwhelming recognizing the amount of things I might have to do in one day. When there are a lot of different things going on, it’s hard to decide what to do first and step away to realize the most important thing.

er: Is this the time where you also think about new ideas or what inspires you?

rc: I’ve found that usually while I’m painting I get good

ideas and get inspired. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love doing prep work for canvasses. I do a lot of stages before the image goes on. While I’m working, I’ve got a certain size of canvas. I’m coming in contact with that and touching the surface, so I’m really building a relationship with each surface, getting used to it, and exploring what could happen there.

er: Living in a creative community with lots of galleries and support, do you see yourself staying in Vancouver?

rc: I feel like Vancouver is home. It felt like that because

the move here was not by my choice, but once I started to put down my roots, I really found I valued having those long

er: Your work is quite fantastical in certain ways, with icebergs and

confetti featured in your most current series. How would you say your work embodies fantasy?

rc: I guess I like to work with narrative a lot, in a really kind

of playful way. I don’t like the word whimsical, but it’s kind of whimsical. I’m definitely feeling very liberated with my painting experience currently, just deciding to place things where I feel they need to go and not caring about trying to make sense of anything. So I’m really just dealing with putting two things together.

er: I’ve noticed that even with the pleasant shapes, the backgrounds provide a stark contrast.

rc: I really like that kind of juxtaposition in my work. People

have different reactions to it, and I like that kind of perspective. Everybody is different, so they interpret it in different ways.

er: How does your work allow you to explore new perspectives and fantasy?

rc: It’s great that you use the word explore, because I think

that’s really what I’m doing in this series [Antarcticus] more than I’ve ever done before. Because I’m taking two narratives, two places I haven’t been before, and I’m really imposing myself into them and creating this kind of mysterious narrative.

I’m using a tropical landscape, Mauritius, which is where my dad’s from. I grew up listening to stories about this place and have this illusion in my mind that’s pretty fantastical. I also have these letters my uncle wrote while he was bringing expeditions of scientists to the Antarctic, and they’re such beautiful letters. I’m trying to take those experiences and that

friendships I’ve made here. I’m not in a hurry to let that go. They’ve helped me through times where I’ve really been struggling with making work or career choices. There are great opportunities out there, but I’d always like to keep Vancouver as a home base.

er: What’s next for you? rc: I have some ideas for my next series. I don’t know what

it will look like, but I want to work on this idea of combining Rococo style paintings and super modern technology—really again focusing on juxtaposition.

7


: Photography By Clint Lofkrantz


Adox Colour Explosion 100


: Dispatches

You will learn the vocabulary of moments. On the swallow-up couches of your landlord’s apartment, exhaling American Spirit into 16th century roof beams, in the backseat of a car flying down the autoroute, air so hot the wind could light sparks in your hair. Sticky still with ocean salt, you will lie at 3:00am on a cool stone floor and remember the sudden relief of seawater. In the street outside, late lamps still glow yellow on half-awake stone. Sunflowers wave an ocean of gold, fields of fringed faces raised to the sky, July salute. You too will eat the sun, turning-turning to meet its rays; late, thick nights over liquor, dress clinging to the dampness of your spine, you will watch your skin devour street light, brown and oiled. You will count the remaining days while ice cubes disappear in tall, thin glasses of pastis. Kisses will become more urgent, a cigale-crescendo of midsummer desire.

There is a peculiar suspension of time that occurs on the hottest nights. Before downpour, the world will pause in a tangle of language, of limbs, learning how to say I want you with a tongue that feels new. Belly-tight for relief, you will hold within you the pulse of the clouds. The hot wind will come in gusts, in gasps. Un coup de foudre: the electric shock of sky and skin. Pressed between the pages of your journal, poppies plucked from long, waving stems. There will be no story, no neat-and-tidy chapters. In lieu of sentences, fragile petals of chiffon rouge. You will write this one in easy laughter, in shadows lying long on sand. Goodbye tastes different when you don’t say it aloud. It is the colour of evening sunlight. You will fall in love with the world. —afra michael boissevain


Bangkok The cheapest hotel room in Bangkok has no windows and no air conditioning. It costs $10, five each. There are a dozen cats in the lobby, grey sheets on the bed. There are brown smears on the walls. They are cola, we think. They aren’t mud or blood or shit. They are cola.

we even touched. These words are many but amount to not one inch of my skin upon yours: not one breath between our lips. We met on the Internet. Now, we drink rum and cough suppressant in our unclean love nest. We eat McDonalds and watch all the Rocky movies on a channel piped in from Macau. The Temple of the Dawn goes unseen, only 30 minutes away. The room starts to smell sweet and sour, like sex and dollar menu burgers.

“ We met on the Internet. Now, we drink rum and cough suppressant in our unclean love nest.”

I want to go home. We both have pneumonia. In the night, we wake each other, coughing. We hold each other in the hot dark and cough on each other without caring. We are thin and tanned and wet. We are weak and wet like wounded animals, wet inside and out. We are wet in the lungs and wet all over from the heat of the windowless room.

And I will go home. I will go home to clean sheets and hot showers. My tan faded and my lungs empty, I will wake up in the cold dark, alone. His body my phantom limb. —kieran elise o’brien

When we dreamed of this trip, all the squalor of it was rose-coloured and goldplated. The back alleys of Indochina burned and shone with love and promise. We were martyrs and we were lovers and we were married in our hearts before

Istanbul lives and breathes in my heart, tinted with the unique hue of nostalgia. Returning is always a shock—it is at once as familiar as my own skin kissed by sun and sweat, and alien, as though my feet have never pressed against its cobblestones. It is home, and yet it is not.

Writhing against expectations, I try to find the graceful space between defiance and generosity. Amidst revolutionary fervor, so many things remain unchanged, unquestioned, like the fact that I want to make you tea because I want to. Not because I am a woman. Not because I should.

Returning in June, after five years of absence, I happened upon what felt like a revolution. Pouring out of windows, people sounded their desire for change with pots and pans. The streets filled with discontent, living rooms burst with political debate. And even as I added my voice to the cacophony of opinions, I served tea, cleaned, and performed a version of myself that only lives there; a version where I am a good Turkish woman.

When I was younger, I thought that compliance with codes of gendered behavior meant betraying my identity as a feminist. As I got older, something shifted. I began to see how we inhabit ourselves in nuanced ways, depending on what different contexts demand of us. Strength looks different in different contexts— feels different. Malleability is my most prized means of survival. —alize zorlutuna

11


: Feature

by rachel burns & jodi garwood illustrations by leeandra cianci


Dear Hiring Guru, Re: Managing Editor, Lululemon blog As an online marketer/spiritual scholar in searc h of elevated consciousness and exceptional retail, please accep t my application for Managing Editor, Lululemon blog. As a natural “trut h seeker” and healer within the corporate world, I was summoned to this position by my life coach-slash-holistic nutritionist. We believe that managing the Lululemon blog is the perfect fit for exploring my whole self —an exceptional, unique opportunity to seek spiritual empowerment through SEO optimization, brand cultivation, and social media strategy. (And I love the pants!) I am a graduate of the Transcendental Meditation School of Management program where I learned to harness the power of the mind to increase my capacity for compassion and dominate the business field. Before pursuing a master’s degree, I spent a profound three days in a yurt just south of Carlsbad, subsisting only on kefir, Diet Coke, and the teachings of Steven R. Covey. I emerged deeply changed, with a hunger to expand the brand experience into the unconscious (including sleeping the brand and afterlife-ing the brand). As a word strategist, I have contributed to a varie ty of online communities. I am the official YouTube commenter for all of MC Yogi’s videos, a regular contributor to a Candida Yeast forum, and, most recently, intern at Little Toez (Southern California ’s 45th most popular mommy blog for women without children). Clearly, I understand the important role that digital voice can play in creating a powerful movement. I’m ready to leave a legacy of greatness with sampl e blog posts like: “Achieving spiritual enlightenment through fabri c selection,” “Finding your groove (pants),” “Financial abundance throu gh your mula bandha,” and my innovation doesn’t stop there! I have devel oped a line of Luon business-casual garments sewn entirely from Wunde r Unders—wick away your social anxiety during that big presentation! I also created the sport “Spirit Sparring,” where competitors battle their personal demons alone in an MMA octagon ring. And I want to share this innovation with Lulu. But can I live the brand? I own nine pairs of Lulul emon pants so, yes. As a left-and right-brained ambivert, I can be all things to all people, and that’s what makes me the perfect candidate to lead and blend into your digital team. Light, love, and laughter,

Lisa Anderson aka, Ammavaru

“There’s no I in ego” —Lisa Anderson

13


: Feature

Standard Application Questionnaire Q: A goal you’ve achieved that you’re proud of (Personal, Professional, or Health)?

Q: How would you spend an ideal day off with no financial limits?

I’m especially proud of completing my recent dual master’s degree in Publishing and Retail Science. My thesis, “Stretched to the limit: The consumer behind the brand—an exploration of credit, love, and Namaste” uniquely positions me to hit and leverage Lululemon’s customer and commercial touchpoints.

If I were working for Lululemon, a day off would only be a state of mind. I would embrace the unknown ambiguities of life— express myself through open-source Drupal and live fully in the present moment, all while fine-tuning both my 30-year life plan and 7 ½-year birth plan. And I’d probably have a great lunch!

In addition, I’m exceptionally proud of reaching 3000 followers on my “love, believe, fall” Twitter feed. It examines the tenuously reciprocal relationship between explorative quantum physics and its effect on local, organic produce.

Q: If you could high five anyone, who would it be and why?

Q: How have you elevated someone from mediocrity to greatness? As Yogi Bhajan once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I worked with a friend of mine to face her fears and complete her first one-woman play, My Body, My Brand Ambassador—an Exploration of Choice, which was awarded “Pick of the Fringe” at the Edmonton Fringe Festival, 2009.

Howie Mandel, just to see what he would do. Also I’d high five Suze Orman for inspiring me with both her hairstyle and the ability to mentally overcome my financial limits. Q: Tell me a quote you live by. “A photographer gets people to pose for him. A yoga instructor gets people to pose for themselves.” ~ Jay Fields Q: What are you most passionate about? I’d have to say eliminating childhood poverty while simultaneously sharing my passion for vegan energy drinks.

Q: How will you elevate Lululemon?

Q: What do you want to be remembered for?

I think I will bring Lululemon an intricate balance of all things web perspective. I’ll go beyond managing the blog; I’ll mindfully massage it—into what already is. I’ll do this by cultivating the breath between the metadata. By being sensitive to the space that comes up in the blog post—without judgment, without fear...

That time I fell down in crow pose and everyone laughed! It kind of openly demonstrated my endless commitment to being selfless and not taking myself too seriously!

It’s about being open to what the Twitter feed doesn’t say. Standing tall in the boldness of the solitary photo post. Lululemon won’t just be an online store; it’ll be a true yogic experience. Yoga = union = lulunionfication = world class elevation. Q: What gets you up in the morning? I’d have to say my alarm clock! Haha, no, just the pure joy that comes with living my truth.

Q: What is the theme song of your life? Miley Cyrus—“We Can’t Stop.” I think the fact that she both “can’t stop” and “won’t stop” reiterates her (and my) commitment to her (and my) passions. Q: What is your favourite way to sweat? Whether it’s buying a fashionista’s wardrobe on a publishing intern’s salary, opening myself up for ridicule at a family gathering, or just practicing arm balances on a hot summer’s day—I love doing it all in Lulu!



: Romance

SAD LOVE: THE NEW YORKER The gritty reality of online dating by nina paula morenas art by ola volo

I get an OKCupid message from someone who is in town visiting family for a few weeks. Even though I know nothing can really happen long-term, I agree to meet him for a coffee. He’s from New York, he’s a photographer-slash-musician, how bad could it be? Even though he’s not the most handsome guy, he’s funny and getting cuter as the date progresses. We decide to go for another drink and end up seeing a movie. We sit in the back row and somewhere after the credits but before the bottom of the popcorn we start making out like teenagers. A middleaged woman sitting alone two seats away shoots daggers at us. I know lady, I’ve been there, we’ve all been there. You’re alone and there’s some gouge-your-eyes-out couple making googley eyes at each other and you just want to vomit directly in their faces. As much as I’m sympathetic, I feel the need to seize this spit swapping opportunity. After the movie, he takes my hand while he walks me home. He seems very comfortable with me for how long we’ve known each other (a whole three hours), but I have to assume it’s because he’s a limited-time offer, right? If we were in NYC he’d probably stress about this small gesture of hand holding instead of flaunting me around the block like he won me at a carnival. That weekend, he comes over to my place for dinner, but since I’m in a no-cooking phase I suggest BBQ takeout. It’s hard to take dainty bites of something as sloppy as a pulled pork sandwich, but what do I care? This guy will be gone in a week and I have a craving. I devour my sammie in a grotesque five minutes, hardly coming up for air. Somehow I’ve got BBQ sauce on my neck and I’m starting to get the meat sweats. I’m a charmer. He mentions after we finish our sandwiches that maybe eating them was a mistake because he’s gluten-intolerant. I don’t usually buy the whole “gluten intolerance” thing and I ignore his comment. He holds his shit together (pun intended) and we continue drinking wine and chatting. He notices my guitar and asks if he can sing me a song. My eyes widen, frightened of what I’m about to hear. He probably has a specific song queued up for this very occasion. God help me if it’s awful, because I know it will show on my face. He begins playing and it’s actually a bit of a downer tune. I’m glad it’s not some schmaltzy love ballad and I’m reluctantly impressed. A sad song is more manipulative though. This guy must get a lot of sympathy action. After a little making out he insists that I play him a song. I go with the ukulele instead of the guitar and play the only song I know, one I learned at the request of another online dating prospect. Maybe that song will finally do what it was supposed to and get me laid, after which it will become my secret serenading weapon. My performance secures another half hour of making out before we leave for a friend’s party, where we get drunk and handsy before stumbling back to my place. We proceed to have clumsy sex. This guy is all over the place in bed. He seems to be speeding through a set routine where only at the end will he get to do what he wants. He’s moving from one part of my body to the next so fast I have to tell him that we’re not under any time restrictions. He loses his boner. Boners are so fucking sensitive. I’m left unsatisfied. But I can’t say he didn’t try, he was just so… sloppy. And yes, we were drinking, but something about his

sweaty, lumbering body really repulsed me. It just wasn’t going to happen. We fall asleep, but throughout the night I repeatedly wake up to him apologizing for getting up to go to the washroom. Finally I get up to use the bathroom myself and as I put my feet on the floor I feel something squishy. It’s the condom. For the record, my trashcan is literally a foot away. As I enter the bathroom I see a balled-up bath towel, sopping wet on the floor, and the remnants of what appears to be an overflowing toilet. Perhaps I was too hasty in disregarding his gluten intolerance. But if you’re on a date, how about not eating something that makes you shit your pants uncontrollably? Or maybe he clogged it from hurling? I’m left to choose from the buffet of gross things that could have happened here. Puzzled still, I go back to bed, teetering on the edge of the mattress so as to not touch him. I wake up relieved that he isn’t beside me. Did he leave? Am I free to disinfect the bathroom and burn my sheets now? Nope. He’s in my kitchen, helping himself to some coffee after drawing the world’s largest cock on my chalkboard. I laugh at the irony of this massive dick with the memory of his less than stellar performance fresh in my mind. I get into sweatpants and make no effort in my appearance as we sip our coffee in awkward silence. The next two days he keeps texting me and I reply with short go-nowhere answers while deliberating how to get out of this mess. How am I supposed to explain my hot and cold demeanor when I don’t understand it myself? Sure he was gross, but we’re all gross sometimes. And even though this is what I say in my recurring don’t-be-an-asshole-have-some-sympathy pep talk to myself, I’m still disgusted by the thought of him. And finally I do something that feels completely out of character for me: I lie. I say I don’t want to see him again because he’s leaving soon. He sees through this and pressures me further. I dig myself deeper saying I shouldn’t have slept with him so quickly and I’m not that kind of girl. At the time I thought this was a lie as well, a way to wriggle out of any real confrontation, but the more I think about it the more I realize it’s all kind of true: the person I am so disgusted by isn’t him at all, it’s me. I thought I wanted a relationship, but I keep setting myself up to fail dating people who are unavailable: geographically, emotionally, gastronomically… I feel terrible. But then I realize that all the things I was doing to repel him, like not caring about what I ate in front of him and what I looked like, not reaching out to him and keeping my texting brief, were the exact things that kept him interested. I was elusive. Independent. Confident. I was behaving like a guy would, a guy I would be frustrated with and probably attracted to. This is a learning moment cocooned in an awful experience. All of the sudden I feel empowered. This could define all future relationships where I treat men poorly only to leave them wanting more! Or, I could just find someone nice, who lives in this city and who can handle his pulled pork. Read more of the Sad Love series at SadMag.ca/sad-love




Fantasy Fiction Contest Winner by ashleigh rajala illustrations by caitlin bauman


: Fiction

Just like Scarlett O’Hara, her dress was made from curtains. It was white now but it had once been purple. A long time ago, before she was even born, the curtains had been selected for the living room because they matched the wallpaper perfectly. She grew up in a living room of purple paisley. Everything was purple, actually. Her father liked it like that and her mother never thought to complain. But she, their only daughter, never really cared for purple. But they didn’t listen. And so purple it always was. The last time she had a growth spurt, she outgrew everything she owned so her mother had to spend the morning sewing a new frock. (She was late for school but no one noticed.) When she returned home, she blended into the wall. Perhaps she would disappear into the drywall, get pulled into the foundations, and be left to stew for eons in the dirt under the house. A few years from now, would her father look up over his paper to her mother and ask, “Hey, whatever happened to our daughter?” It was the only dress she owned. Always she blended in. She had hoped that growing would help. She always wanted to be bigger. And growing would mean a new dress. And so she wished she would be. She wished and wished but nothing ever happened. Little and insignificant she stayed. At dinner times she would pass the salt when requested and that was where she remained.

Then, one day, she heard a rumour: there are things upon which a person who desired something could wish. They were called “the stars,” or “les étoiles.” She liked both names and couldn’t pick a favourite. She wished every night now after she put herself to bed, “Please, les étoiles, please. I have grown so little these past few years. I want to be bigger. So big that no one can ever ignore me again. Please, stars, please. I want to grow and grow and grow.” She wished every night with her head poked out the bedroom window and her hair hanging down in tight braids brushing against the rose bushes below; she wished on les étoiles. There was something special about one star, she thought. It flickered like the candle she once saw her grandmother carrying down the dark hall when the lights went out. It flickered blue and red. She smiled to herself and felt the cracks between her loose teeth with her tongue as she closed the window. The stars were special, she thought, they would heed her desire. She knew her wish would be answered. And it was. By the next morning, she’d outgrown the curtain dress. It stretched tightly against her skin, the seams bursting, the hem skimming far too high above her knees. Again her mother ripped another panel of curtains from the living room windows. Again she haphazardly stitched together a frock. (Again she was late for school. Again no one noticed.) Again her father sat at the dinner table, his newspaper stretched in front of his face, “Pass the salt.”


Again she poked her head out the window. Again her braids brushed against the roses. “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” The next morning, she’d grown again. (She was late for school and still no one noticed.) “Pass the salt.” That night, to l’étoile blinking red and blue, “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” By the next week, her mother was setting her alarm clock earlier and earlier in preparation for the new dress she would have to sew. “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” Within another week, all the curtains in the entire house were not big enough to make a dress for her. “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” “Pass the salt.” A week after that, she didn’t fit in the house any more. A week after that, she didn’t fit in the yard. A week after that, she didn’t fit in the local football pitch. “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” A week after that, she was sleeping several miles away in the farmers’ fields, the cornstalks making her pillow, the pumpkin patch at her ankles. She wore all the curtain dresses stitched together around her body. (The school eventually sent a letter wondering why she had missed so many classes.) “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” Her mother stopped sewing altogether. Whatever fabric she could find was lashed together with duct tape. They used sticks and wet rags to give her a daily bath. (The school claimed that the field was out of their catchment area and she should no longer attend.) But still she had not seen her father. The newspapers did not deliver to fields. “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.”

21


: Fiction

Her mother and the farmers gathered together with the sons and daughters who would take over their plots one day and dressed her every morning. The potato farmers hoisted on socks stitched together from a thousand potato sacks. The corn farmers wove their corn silk into rope and thread to bind the fabrics around her limbs. The blueberry farmers used their rakes to comb her hair; it took 10 of them four hours to plait her hair and tie the bows. Their field was directly under her; she’d ruined not only their farms but also the bottom of her dress. The curtain-dresses-frock was stained with a blue sweetness that cost more than her parents could afford. Her mother passed along messages from home that the newspapers issued columns reporting on the increase in the price of blueberries and why oh why could this have happened? “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” When the point was reached that her mother, along with all the farmers, had to work out a system of ropes and pulleys to get the curtain-dresses over her growing body, she made the front page of the newspaper. They came out in hoards to see her and this wooden contraption built around her growing body. Photos were taken in endless succession of the docks built up to her shoulders; of the toothbrush, like an oar from an ancient slave ship, which took six men to work; of the now-ragged curtain dress hanging in lashed-together shards from her expansive skin; of the patchwork fleet of tarpaulins strung up over her head; and of her face, freckles the size of hula hoops. They needed to back up nearly a hundred yards to get her in frame. The flashbulbs sparkled around her and she realized with glee that they noticed her. They asked her questions and questions. “How much do you eat?” and “How do you bathe?” and “Is purple your favourite colour?” They did not ask how or why she grew so large. And so she kept the secret of les étoiles to herself. That was when her father came for the only time to the farmer’s field. He brandished the newspaper with her picture across the front, grinning proudly. He wore his best sweater vest when he came to visit. She stopped wishing. Even though she no longer needed to poke her head out a bedroom window, she stopped wishing. She wasn’t sure how many weeks had passed since that first wish had been granted, but it was then that she finally stopped growing. She was famous for a week. Then the fields fell back into silence. The farmers finished counting up the money they’d made from letting the reporters

and sightseers park in their driveways. Her mother put her hands back on her hips. Her father returned home, the newspaper tucked under his arm once more. She tried to wish again, “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I am not big enough yet.” But nothing happened. She never shrank again, but she had stopped growing. For years she stayed that size. For years she stayed in the farmers’ fields. She got to know their names, their histories, their dreams. The rains came. The rains went. The snow came. The snow went. The sun came back. The sun left again. The contraptions around her gradually grew more permanent. The seasons swung by: year falling into year springing into year, then falling again then bouncing back again. Metal replaced wood, polyester fleece replaced wool, industrial cables replaced corn silk. Her curtain-dresses faded from purple to lilac to lavender to white. The crops around her had long since withered. The farmers retired when their money went and nothing else could grow to replace it. The sons and daughters of the farmers—who had once planned on taking over the farms—married, had children, and moved away, leaving the farms behind. She heard occasionally how they went into the city. Eventually none of the farmers were left anymore. When her mother herself disappeared, her knees too old and rickety to row the toothbrush anymore, there was no one left to see her anymore. That was the first night in nearly ten years that she wished upon a star again. “Please, les étoiles, please, stars. I don’t want to be seen anymore. I’m sick of being seen. Please. I don’t want to be seen anymore.” Years later, Stella, granddaughter of old potato farmers, drove near the fallow fields, remarked casually to her own grandchildren in the backseat of her jalopy: “Look ahead and you will see a giant. I remember her when I was younger than you. She wore all purple then, but it’s white now.” The grandchildren laughed, “Silly Grandma! There’s nothing there!” As the jalopy disappeared down the lonely, quiet road, the invisible giant let go her breath, sighing again, alone once more.


Kodak Portra 400

: Photography By Nich Hance McElroy


: Interview

WORDS WITH FRIENDS Author David Sedaris chats with the host of Books on the Radio by sean cranbury

I don’t have any David Sedaris fantasies. Sedaris is a dream interview, though. I spoke to him in May about his new book, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. We also discussed British rubbish versus American garbage, Whoopi Goldberg, Jon Stewart, and throat skimming.

sean cranbury: You’re in Toronto right now. How are things

ds: I think it’s either something that seems really funny to me, or something that seems like it might be relevant, or it might be something that I could use in an essay.

Like there was something I was reading the other day—I was in Arizona a week ago, and I was having lunch with a friend of mine, and we decided to split a dessert.

david sedaris: Great. I had a reading last night and a bunch

So we were splitting a dessert, and I noticed there was a gay couple on the other side of the room and they were splitting a piece of pie. And it occurred to me that straight men don’t do that—straight men don’t split desserts.

sc: How long was the reading?

So I started asking straight men, “Would you ever share a dessert?” Most of them said no. Most of them said, “To tell you the truth, I just wouldn’t. I would split a plate of Buffalo wings, maybe, but a dessert—that’s just crossing a line.” So I started asking more and more men about it, and I just made note of that—a special note in my diary—because something might come of that.

in Toronto?

of interviews—you know, it’s a book tour. I was on a lecture tour before the book tour, but a lecture tour’s pretty easy—you don’t have any interviews, and the book signing doesn’t take as long. You sign more books in a bookstore than in a theatre, I don’t care how big the theatre is. Last night the book signing lasted for seven hours—

ds: Forty-five minutes. sc: Right. ds: But when you’re on a lecture tour, you read for an hour, and then you answer questions for another half-hour, but it’s different because people are in comfortable seats and the lights go down. But when you’re in a bookstore, people are standing up, and it’s crowded in there, and nobody wants to hear anybody read for an hour under those circumstances.

sc: What were you lecturing on in your lecture tour? ds: Oh, it’s called a lecture tour, but I just read out loud from my work. I read out loud for an hour, but we call it a lecture tour, I don’t know why. It sounds good.

sc: You’ve been keeping a journal since September 4th, 1977, and

some parts of that journal make it on to the pages in your books. What are the characteristics of a piece that makes the transition from your journal into a book like Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls?

Like, it’s just something that just strikes me as odd, or something I saw—the day before that a young woman had all of her favourite books tattooed on her legs and one was a book by me and she showed it to me. I think I was supposed to be honoured, but instead I was thinking, oh my god, like, if I had my favourite books at the age of 22 tattooed on my leg, you better believe I would never wear shorts again.

sc: Does the journal also work as a private space for your thoughts, where you’re also working on just putting down your experience and knowing full well that these pieces will never see the light of day?

ds: Oh yeah. I’ve never handed my diary over to anybody. I

mean, I used to get my diary bound by this guy in Chicago, and he would look at it when he was putting it together, but I like to think he had better things to do than read about my pathetic life in my diary. But I honestly think he knew me better than anybody, because he glanced at those pages.


Surprise postcard from David to Sean

sc: Some people might consider the portrayal of your father in the most

recent book unflattering. How do you relate to those pieces? How has it affected your relationship with your father?

ds: Oh, I don’t want anyone to think—I would not have traded

my father for any other father. My mother was a very supportive person and that was enough. I just needed one such person; I didn’t need two of them. And I wouldn’t have traded them for anything. It’s such a different time, too. I’m 56 years old. So I think now when people think about dads, they think, oh, dad’s the one who puts you on his shoulders and he takes an extra day off work so he can spend that Monday holiday with you. That’s just a recent construct. My dad was just of a different generation. You went to work, you came home, you loved everybody, and you kept them nice and afraid of you so you could have your way, and that’s just the way it was. It wasn’t any different next door, or in the house next door to that, or the one next door to that.

ds: Hmmm…no. I was in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, a few

weeks ago, and it was a Saturday, and I was on my lecture tour, and I had a couple of hours to myself in the afternoon, and I took a walk along the road. It’s a beautiful, beautiful countryside there, and I passed the same sort of garbage—exactly the same sort of garbage—that I find in West Sussex. Beer bottles, liquor bottles, Red Bull cans, potato chip packages, candy wrappers. It’s never real food—nobody ever buys a bag of cashews and throws the bag out the window. It’s all fake food. There’s a tesco Metro near us in the country, which is a version of—you know, they sell gas, it’s like a 7-11. Maybe they’ve got a bit more than a 7-11. But I walk in to a place like that and I just think of it as a litter supply store, because all the stuff they sell is stuff I find on the side of the road.

sc: Just helping the neighbourhood and making sure that locals have something to throw out the window of their car.

ds: Yeah! Ha ha. One of my plans is I think the police should

set up barricades on the side of the road and anyone whose car is clean, they should fine them. Because if your car is clean, that means you’ve been throwing stuff out the window.

“Someone who had a big influence on my writing was Whoopi Goldberg.” I went to college for art, and I mean, what parent wants to pay for that? My dad’s an engineer. If I had gone to school for chemistry or anything that seemed real to him, that would have been different, but in terms of writing and stuff, my dad doesn’t understand writing, he doesn’t understand books, he doesn’t read them. I wouldn’t want him to! I didn’t want a father who would read something, and say, “Looks like you’ve been reading Bartelmann.” I don’t want that! I want [a dad] who is just amazed that someone can type.

sc: According to some of the reading that I’ve been doing, you can sometimes be seen picking up rubbish by the roadside near your home in West Sussex. A question popped into my mind: Is there a difference between British “rubbish” and American “garbage” ?

sc: That’s a good idea! Kurt Vonnegut

once wrote that he was funnier on paper than most people, and the same can be said for you in your work. Are there writers or comedians who you feel particularly inspired by? Or who were influential to your writing?

ds: Someone who had a big influence on my writing was Whoopi Goldberg. sc: Whoopi Goldberg? ds: She did this one-woman Broadway show, in 1984 maybe? And I got a VCR tape of that, and just played it until it wore out. She was doing these characters—and I was never interested in acting, I mean, I wasn’t interested in that aspect of it—but it could have been written down. I loved the way the stories moved. And I loved the way I would be laughing and laughing

25


: Interview

and all of a sudden I just was not laughing anymore. Like, where did that come from? All of a sudden I would just be really shaken up. And again, it was—if I had read these on the page, I think I would have felt the same way, but the difference is you saw her in front of an audience, you heard an audience reacting. If you read it on the page, you might laugh yourself, or you might make that kind of noise you make when you’re moved. But you wouldn’t have heard a thousand people doing it. So that was part of it to me—the idea of an audience making noise.

sc: I’ve seen and heard you read out here in Vancouver. So is that—is it an important part of what you want to write—not every piece in your books obviously is the type of thing you would read in public, but is it important to you that the work translates well to an audience? That you can make people laugh in person?

ds: Yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t want to read something that’s

just straight, you know? That wouldn’t interest me. I guess I’m so insecure I need to hear people laughing to prove that they’re listening. But in a way, you can feel people checking out when you’re reading. Like when they start coughing, that means that they’re skimming, with their throats.

sc: Skimming with their throats? ds: Yeah. So when people cough, I think, okay, if this was in

print right now, this is the point at which they’d start to skim.

But there are some stories in the book that—I mean, they’re fine on the page, but if your job is to entertain an audience, an American audience, if you read a story with a black character in it, that black character has to be Morgan Freeman in every movie he’s ever been in. If he is anything less than that, the audience freaks out, they don’t know what to do. They’re sitting there thinking, “If I laugh, does that make me a racist? Is the whole point of this story to show up my racism? The person next to me is not laughing.” And they just can’t be there with you. It’s okay on the page, alone, because no one’s watching and it’s a private experience, but experience has told me that it doesn’t really work in front of big crowds. On this tour, I brought a few stories with me, and one of them I read one night and realised, gosh this needs a whole lot of work. I thought everyone would relate to this, and it’s just not happening, it needs a whole lot of work. But I didn’t read it again. I thought maybe on the next tour, after I’d gone home and worked on it for a couple of weeks, but it’s not fair of me to subject an audience to this again. And I had another story that seemed pretty close, so I read it the next night and the next night and the next night and the next night, and every night I made a change to it, and ultimately I felt really good about it. The people at the beginning of the tour didn’t hear as good of a version, but I wasn’t ashamed of it.

sc: Speaking of audiences and being able to make people laugh

sitting in rooms together, you were on Jon Stewart. Not a lot of writers get an opportunity to be on a show, or in front of an audience of that magnitude. How did you feel going on to the show? What was that experience like for you as a writer?

ds: Well, those shows have a pre-interview. For a lot of

those shows, the pre-interview can go on for hours. Then you show up at the show, and they have his questions and your answers written on a piece of paper. But for Jon Stewart, the show—I had to leave for the studio at 5:00pm,

and at 4:15pm the producer calls for the pre-interview, and it’s 15 minutes long. And for most of those other shows, you don’t see the host until you’re on TV. Then you walk out there on TV and sit down next to this guy, and his face is the colour of a pencil eraser, and you think, “Oh my god, my face must be that colour too.” By the time you’ve come to grips with that, your segment is over. You’re trying to remember your beat, and thinking, okay, what did I say on paper? What did that thing in my dressing room say? An actor might be okay with it, but I’m not an actor, right? It just feels phony, in a way. Jon Stewart comes into a dressing room, and remembers your friends’ names, and he hangs out with you, and he just wants you to be comfortable and relaxed. He’s like a host at a party—he just wants to reassure you that this is all going to be great, and then he says, “Let’s just continue this out on stage.” And you feel so relaxed when you go out there, and he’s got you, you know what I mean? Some of these guys on TV are like, “Oh, no one has laughed in four seconds.” So he’s going to get the laugh—you’re in the middle of a story, and then he interrupts so he can get a laugh, and then you feel like a fool if you go back into your story. Jon Stewart just trusts you, and you trust him that he’s going to—you know, because no one dislikes going on TV more than me. And if a book comes out, I’ll do it, but the second you agree to go on television, you start looking at the world that way. You start thinking, “Will this work on TV? Will this work? Is this something I should talk about on TV?” I consider myself fortunate that I’ve been on a tour for six weeks before I went on TV, so that when the woman calls to go on the pre-interview, I say, “Look, here’s some stuff I’ve been talking about on stage that works.” My theory that men with beards have fathers who have guns, my dessert theory. It’s stuff I’ve been saying in front of an audience that I feel comfortable with. But if I haven’t been on tour, and they just call me up one day to ask me to be on TV, and I’m just trying to think up stuff on the way to the studio, I don’t know that I would—it’s a danger, you know. It’s always a danger. Because it’s flattering: you go on TV, and the next day people approach you on the street and say, “I saw you on TV. Can I have your autograph?”

sc: They have no idea who you are though, right? ds: Right! But you have to admit, it feels pretty good. An audio version of this interview can be found at booksontheradio.org.


: Fluff

E ‘N’ SHINE RIS

vancouver special Or, eight dicks I never asked to see by sarah szloboda illustration by pamela rounis

4) A comedian I’ve worked with. He sends me side dick and asks if I like his tie.

It’s the stuff that dreams are made of. A fairy tale for the modern woman: at 26 years old, I have had more dick pics than serious boyfriends. And I have had a lot of boyfriends. In the last couple of years alone I’ve been Brett Favre-ed eight times. Most texted, some Snapchat-ed, one emailed through the feedback form on my old website. All of various shapes and sizes, and all similarly unsolicited. In a city turned woefully inward, where the eye contact is sparse and the ego aplenty, is this the next frontier? In an effort to understand the trend, below is my introduction to this new form of currency.

5) Another comedian I’ve worked with. He Snapchats himself naked in the bathroom. He used to draw a cartoon dick to conceal the real thing, but moved up to full-frontal soon after. I took a screenshot and he’s unsurprisingly eased up.

1) I met a guy at the Biltmore, we drunkenly danced, and that week we went on a date. He texted after he dropped me off to say he had a great time. I said “I did too,” and that “I hope to see ya soon ;).” Perhaps he misunderstood. It may have been the wayward winking face. I did see him after that, but only the part of him he replied with. So romantically spontaneous he didn’t even bother to trim.

7) An old coworker who asked me out for drinks. Before we could go, he sent me a picture of him “side-piping” in his suit. Still haven’t been on that drink.

2) My old boss. My old boss. My married former employer. A man who saw a couple of wars, and a prison term, before navigating his way to the front of the local film industry. After a series of successful polite deflections, one Saturday morning there it was. Followed by “good morning.” It wasn’t.

6) A guy who I still text because he is smart and funny and, since moving out of province, is perfectly out of reach. His cock selfie was as unsexy as the rest, but arguably less out of the blue.

8) A guy I’ve been on several dates with. One day he texted he couldn’t stop thinking about me. Later that night a picture, followed by the question: “See?” And I do.

3) My ex-boyfriend from high school. Using the feedback form on my old website, he sent a 4:00am reminder of what I was missing. He was kind enough to put a ruler in frame. This may be my most forwarded email.

27


by sara bynoe photography by kathryn mussallem illustration by pamela rounis


: Profile

In May of 2012, I travelled to New York City to follow my friend, Vancouver based-photographer Kathryn Mussallem, on her hunt for sailors during Fleet Week. Together we walked through Times Square and the West Village, prowling for men in white bellbottoms. With her eagle eye, she’d see one blocks away, squeal, then shout, “Sailors!” She’d approach with her big red-lipped smile, point her camera in their faces and say, “Hey, sailor, new in town?” For those who don’t know, or missed that Sex and the City episode, Fleet Week is when active military ships dock and pour out young men in uniform for a week of partying. There are Fleet Weeks in several major US port cites, but the biggest event is the one in New York City. Mussallem’s sailor crush started at a young age. Growing up in the late ‘70s, Mussallem was in love with musicals from the ‘30s and ‘40s that featured sailors dancing, fighting, and flirting with women. She wanted to be Marlene Dietrich; she wanted to sing, smoke, and have men fawn all over her. Unfortunately, Mussallem didn’t grow up to be a singer like Dietrich, but she does belt out tunes at karaoke. Mussallem teaches digital photography and Photoshop at Emily Carr University, and is the child of an airline pilot and a stewardess— so just like sailors and Dietrich, travelling has always been a part of her life. The first time she saw a sailor in the flesh was on a bus in San Francisco in the late 1990s. “I was with my mom and I sat next to a uniformed sailor. Out of the blue I said, ‘Hey, sailor! New in town?’” Mussallem recounts. “It was such a cliché, but then again so was seeing an enlisted man out and about in his whites.” Years went by with few sailor sightings. It was by chance or divine intervention that Mussallem discovered Fleet Week. In May 2009, Mussallem and a friend were visiting New York City and were surprised to find the city filled with sailors. On that trip, Mussallem excitedly dragged her friend to ship tours and anywhere they could find men in uniform, always carrying her camera along. She returned from that trip inspired; she wanted to spend more time with sailors, and photography was a great tactic to infiltrate their circle. In 2011, she travelled to back to New York City. This time she was alone, determined to spend a week photographing sailors.

On the first night of Fleet Week, Mussallem was out with a few friends at a gay piano bar in the West Village when she decided to pop outside to see if she could find any sailors. “In a matter of 20 minutes I took the photo that changed my life—and I made out with my first sailor,” Mussallem says. “I returned to the gay piano bar and impressed the room with my tales of sailor shenanigans, showed them a few photos, and proceeded to sing a Liza Minelli number from Cabaret.” That night, she finally felt like Dietrich. The photograph that changed her life features two sailors, in their white uniforms, looking directly into the camera lens. Cigarettes draped between their fingers, their non-smoking arms are slung around each other in brotherly love. One of the sailors is caught talking out the side of his mouth like a New Yorker saying, “Hey, whatcha doin’ here?” The other sailor has a goofy grin and squinting eyes. It’s a joyful photo of two sailors out on the town. She spent the rest of that Fleet Week making friends with sailors, collecting their contact information on her phone and on Facebook. She also started to connect with public relations officers who noticed her photographing—it’s easy to stand out if you’re the only female photographer around. During that Fleet Week, she discovered that there were other events around the United States where she could photograph sailors. Since Mussallem had airline connections and knows how to travel cheap, she was ready to go at a moment’s notice. During the next year, she went to Fleet Weeks and Navy Weeks in Seattle, San Francisco, and New Orleans. She spent time in Norfolk, Virginia, where many US Navy officers are stationed. Highlights of these trips include photographing the US Navy train Russian and British sailors in firefighting, drinking with sailors on Bourbon Street, and getting a tattoo from a sailor in the electrical shop of the USS Wasp. When I was in New York City with Mussallem in 2012, we started our sailor safari back where it all began: the West Village. She was on an emotional high after spending a night on the USS Wasp. She’d been helicoptered out to sea with other photographers and journalists, and had photographed sailors against the backdrop of Manhattan as they sailed in on the parade of ships that morning. Mussallem wore her sailor hunting uniform: lips painted in Lady Danger by mac, flashy red heels, black shorts, and a low cut black top that showcased her “sailor pillows.” Suddenly she’d catch a flash of white out of the corner of her eye and would take off before I even knew what was happening. Of course, she was always headed towards young men in the iconic white summer dress uniform of bell-bottoms, neckerchief, and bucket cap. She’d approach them, point her camera in their faces, and say some flirty comments. The men would flirt back. Many recognized her from her night on the ship. “Lips!” they called her. “I saw you onboard.” Apparently she’d caused quite the stir with many male sailors that day. After taking a few photos of sailors on the streets, we walked away in search of the next adventure. Mussallem told me what makes her photos different than other military photographers. “I’m a bit of a predator when I’m chasing them,” she admits. “I am looking at them as sexy, young, virile, beautiful men. It’s a mutual performance, you know, I’m giggling and giving them the pin-up girl, and they’re giving me back the [grunts] manly.” Mussallem and I made our way to The Mean Fiddler, a bar close to Times Square that is the epicenter of Fleet Week antics. In the typical grimy Irish bar we found more than 200 men in uniform fist-pumping to party rock, downing pints, and

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: Profile


rubbing up against anyone that caught their eye. Every time lmfao’s song Sexy and I Know It played, they would jump up on the bar, lift up their shirts, and writhe like Chippendales for free shots. This is not the type of bar Mussallem usually hangs out in. Back home in Vancouver, she likes to go dancing at the East Van Soul Club or Ice Cream Social. She frequents farmers’ markets and artisanal coffee shops. I thought she’d be completely out of her element in this Jersey Shore-like bro culture, but instead Mussallem dove into the crowd, with a drink nestled safely in her cleavage so that her hands could be free for her camera and flash. That night, she captured moments like muscular marines hanging off of the rafters, a 21-year-old gawky sailor groping a young woman’s butt in two handfuls, and a couple of marines close-talking with women who appeared to be in their 60s. Mussallem would take breaks from photographing to canoodle with her favorite sailors; she looked like she was having the time of her life. The next day, Mussallem went down to Washington Square to photograph marines demonstrating tactical maneuvers on the

After years of self-propelled travel and work, Mussallem’s sailor project is starting to gain recognition. Over 30 of her photographs were featured at the Vancouver Maritime Museum in the exhibit Tattoos and Scrimshaw: The Art of the Sailor (March 14 – October 13, 2013). Her current portfolio also got her a scholarship to attend the School of Visual Arts in New York City for a Masters of Professional Studies in Digital Photography. Her long-term plan is to publish a book.

Kodak Portra UC 400

In early 2013, an announcement was made that Fleet Weeks across America were canceled due to the economic sequester. Mussallem was heartbroken when she got the news. She very well may have captured the end of an era, but that hasn’t stopped her from doing her passion project. She called up the public relations officers she knew and said she was ready and available to go wherever they would let her photograph. She was off to San Diego a few weeks later to witness international Navy training. She took pictures of the New Zealand Navy divers doing push-ups on a beach just for her benefit, and organized a group of over 200 Canadian sailors and four United States Marine Corps armored amphibious assault vehicles into position for a photograph on the beach. “I’ve always been fearless about jumping right in and getting

“ The bravado, the masculinity, the romantic ideal of a man far off at sea thinking of you on lonely nights—it’s a fantasy turned into a reality, and I love living it.” grass—essentially big, burly men wrestling on the ground. She what I wanted when I’m behind the protection of the lens,” didn’t hold back from getting the photos she wanted. “I love she tells me. “But this project has been a real lesson in asking how I can make full grown men, men who are trained to kill, and pursuing my desires to get what I want. My students, my feel so nervous,” she says. “When I’m inches away from their friends, even some of the sailors I know are always asking me, face with my wide-angle lens and they don’t even know how to ‘How the hell do you get to do all this?’ They see photos of me compose themselves, it’s the ultimate power. The sailors and in tanks dressed up in helmets and flak jackets, geared up to marines have no choice in whether or not they get photographed, ride in a helicopter, on the deck of an aircraft carrier or posing because they are employees of the government, and Fleet Week on Instagram with a rocket launcher. The answer is simple: I is a huge public relations event for the Navy.” just asked.” Since then, Mussallem photographed sailors at Boston Navy Week, where she spent time on the USS Constitution—the oldest ship in the Navy, commissioned in 1797. She rode in a light armored assault vehicle (essentially a tank with wheels) across the Bay Bridge during San Francisco’s Fleet Week. In Vancouver, she photographed Operation Trident Fury by sailing with the Canadian Navy on the hmcs Algonquin from Victoria into Vancouver, and was a special guest of the XO (Executive Officer) to an invite-only cocktail party on a US ship. She now has thousands of photographs populating her sailor memorabilia collection (and a cellphone full of their numbers too).

I wondered if all this time with sailors will ever lose its appeal, but Mussallem assures me, “I don’t think I’ll ever lose that fantasy. The bravado, the masculinity, the romantic ideal of a man far off at sea thinking of you on lonely nights—it’s a fantasy turned into a reality, and I love living it. Maybe firemen will come next.” Check out her photos online at thealmightyqueen.tumblr.com and thealmightyqueen.com

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: Profile

photography by martina+reem art direction by gilly russell makeup by caitlin callahan styling by sarah danniels at they representation hair by katrina molson at they representation assistant maylies lang

The jungle bordering the dirt road was lush where a local Sri Lankan boy picked a lotus flower and handed it to nine-year-old Jessica Kruger. This is one of Kruger’s strongest memories of life after her family embarked on a sailing trip around the world.

She’s told this story many times, and her direct gaze and relaxed smile don’t waver as she tells it now.

Around the time Kruger was born, her parents bought the hull of a sailboat, put it on homemade wooden cradle supports in “I don’t want to be one of those people who is afraid to talk about the back yard of their Coquitlam home, and fixed it up in their things,” she says. “That’s how you educate people—by being open to talking about it.” spare time. By the time Kruger was six, her parents had saved enough to sustain themselves, her, and her sister on a sailboat for four years. Kruger’s home became a 41-foot sailboat called Synchronicity. By the time she was 10, Kruger had travelled on three oceans to 37 countries on six continents. “It feels like a dream. It doesn’t feel like it’s the same life as this one,” Kruger explains from the back patio of her parents’ Coquitlam home. Her bare arms are still brown—a sign of her recent trip to Croatia. Kruger is still a voracious traveler. But life has been different since her accident. Kruger became quadriplegic at 15 when she fainted and fell off a ladder in the second week of her first real job as a house painter.

Kodak Portra 400

so we don’t know how much time had passed before the other painter found me.”

“I was up on the ladder doing the prep work on the fascia board. I felt faint, blacked out, and fell two storeys onto the concrete below,” she recalls. “I was the only one on that side of the house,

Kruger woke up to the sound of sirens. Then: paramedics rolling her onto a stretcher. They put a hard collar onto her neck to limit the damage to her spine. If they hadn’t put the collar on, her arms and hands might have become more impaired than they are. “Then again, maybe I’d be a lower class in rugby if they hadn’t,” she laughs. Kruger’s functionality is ranked near the top of the scale for a quadriplegic person. She counts her lucky stars about this, except on the wheelchair rugby (aka murderball) court. Only a limited number of high-functioning players can be on the court at once, so the pressure’s on Jessica to bring her A-game every time. But it’s not like she can’t take a challenge. The only woman on the otherwise all-male provincial team, Kruger first started playing casually shortly after the accident. While staying at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre after her accident, Kruger



: Profile



: Profile

was introduced to the sport by Duncan Campbell, one of the “I took it out on my mom and my boyfriend,” Kruger admits, inventors of wheelchair rugby. Now 21, she’s been playing reflecting that her mother has been stalwart though it all, and her boyfriend couldn’t have been more supportive. Seeing a seriously for two years. therapist helped her defuse the negative feelings. “For a year I Her sights are set on the national team, then the Paralympics. was angry, sad, and asking, ‘Why?’ But now it’s not so much.” “For the most part, everyone [at school] knew,” says Kruger, speaking of the months she spent in rehab after her accident. Her friends, including her now-boyfriend-of-four-years, Raj,

frequently visited her at the centre. “I had that safety net to soften coming back into school.”

Now she’s mostly forward-looking, apart from the occasional frustrating health complication. “I found things in my life that made me realize that I love this life and that I needed to get over it,” she says. She found ways of making her experience meaningful, including speaking for WorkSafeBC. She’s begun to really enjoy her classes, and looks forward to her future with a family and boyfriend who “embraces me whether I [am] capable of walking or not.”

Still, for any girl, and especially one who had been on the cheerleading team the previous year and always relished team sports, getting back to normalcy was hard.

These days whenever a new problem hits, Kruger takes things one day at a time and “makes the most out of the really awesome things that are happening in life.”

“In the beginning, I didn’t go through the grieving or the anger,” Kruger says. “I had so much support I didn’t want to let anyone down.” But after two years of uphill battle to recover and adapt to her new life, more health complications emerged and the anger hit.

Some of those awesome things happen because Kruger makes them happen. This is a woman who throws herself out of planes for fun—she’s gone skydiving once and bungee jumping twice, before and after the accident. She throws herself into her other passions just as ardently.

“You have to be stubborn to accomplish things,” Kruger says. “I’m in opposition to people who tell me I can’t do things.”


Kruger’s latest really awesome pursuit seems like something The girly role is a surprisingly good fit for this murderball out of a John Hughes movie. She won a contest by popular enthusiast. vote in July to be a spokesmodel for the new perfume, Something Sweet, by Montreal-based cosmetics company Lise Watier, after “I’m totally on board with the whole Something Sweet brand. It’s not like I have to fake it. I can just sit around and enjoy entering “for fun” at a friend’s urging. macaroons and pink,” she says. Her pink bedroom suggests Kruger’s contest application quickly snowballed through social this isn’t one word of a lie. (“The wall is coral, in my defense,” media, earning her votes from across the country and rocketing she says.) her into the top five out of 407 applicants. Before her accident, Kruger had dreamed of modeling. One time, she submitted some photos of herself to an agent through It also happens that Kruger has a cake business on the a friend, but the dream fizzled out after she never heard back. side called A Little Something Sweet. She bakes cupcakes, and wedding cakes every so often, mostly for friends. “I definitely didn’t think it was going to happen once I was in a She doesn’t invent her own recipes, but does get fancy wheelchair.” with fondant. “I’m not Cake Boss,” she defers. But cake supremacy may be in her future yet. One more year as an English major at Simon Fraser University, she muses, and then she might go to pastry school.

Fuji Pro 400

She’s the same person she was when she walked down that Sri Lankan dirt road, she says, but now with a few more measures of stubbornness.

“You have to be stubborn to accomplish things,” Kruger says. Kruger doesn’t read fashion magazines and has no idea who her “I’m in opposition to people who tell me I can’t do things. People favourite fashion model would be, yet she seemed right at home didn’t think I’d be able to push my own wheelchair—they at the swish launch party for Something Sweet at Vancouver’s thought I’d be in an electric wheelchair.” Loden Hotel in August. Dressed in pink, with her dark blond hair in curls and her makeup professionally done, Kruger sat “Even if I don’t want to do it, tell me I can’t, and I will.” amidst tables piled with macarons, meringues, cakes, and pink cocktails, smiling serenely and chatting with journalists.

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: Photography By Tristan Clairoux

Fuji Superia 200



: Interview

Amelia Garvin On art orgasms and sadness by kyla jamieson photography by kyla jamieson

Amelia Garvin was raised on a potato farm in Surrey. At 17, she moved to Vancouver (with her triplet sisters Brigitte and Jacqueline) to attend Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Now on the cusp of graduation, Garvin is spending the summer painting at East Hastings’ Gam Gallery. Much of her recent work has grappled with the unexpected loss of her mother in 2010. On a sunny July morning, we met at the Gam and discussed art orgasms, sadness, and making it through art school without doing the assignments. Garvin ate apricots as we spoke.

kyla jamieson: What’s your daily routine? amelia garvin: [Laughs] Oh man. For years I’ve tried

to have one, but it’s never worked. There are things that I do regularly, though. I have a rule that however many hours I spend at work, that’s how many hours I’m going to spend in the studio, if not more. I have to be there. Even if I’m not doing anything productive per se, I’m still there.

ag: I don’t know. Sad is the only word I could come up

with—I guess it’s more that I want to transfer a sort of emotion, maybe not sad exactly—but I want to be able to feel something, go through a creative process, and then have a similar emotion delivered to the viewer. So I don’t feel crazy.

kj: How would you describe the art community in Vancouver? ag: Really small. I have a really good time whenever I go to

openings, but it feels so small that I have a weird dread of doing something wrong, of presenting myself too early.

kj: When you make something, is it not with the intention of other people seeing it?

ag: Lately my work has been quite personal, so I don’t feel a

big need to show it. When people ask to buy paintings, I don’t want to part with them. I’ll give pieces away, but only if I’ve had them for years.

kj: Have you always had a studio? Did you have one at

kj: What do you think about what Kathy Grayson said, that artists

ag: I’ve had one for the last year, but I didn’t use it for a few

ag: Well, I think it’s important that you’re not reaching out to

Emily Carr?

months because I was working on an animation. I was in the computer lab. I’d scan my drawings and then touch them up in Photoshop.

kj: What was the animation that you made? ag: I guess it was how I felt about my mom dying. I found

should make art about life, not life about art?

every single person in the world, but if someone sees your work, they should at least be able to appreciate a colour, or a texture. I have a hard time when art is referencing art history and that’s all the work is about. You end up looking at it for two seconds and then immediately going to a book. It’s not a bad thing, but it ends up being a research project, and I don’t know how good of an experience that is.

out she had terminal cancer the day I got back from my first

kj: It becomes esoteric.

“ I want to be able to feel something, go through a creative process, and then have a similar emotion delivered to the viewer. So I don’t feel crazy.” semester at Emily Carr and she died in February of my second semester. I had over a thousand drawings, and I’d made up a fictional narrative to accompany them, because I didn’t want to address things head on—but I had to remove that element. There was too much going on. Someone dying is already a big story, anyways. I remember showing that animation for review in class. I was super pumped to show it, because it was way too emotional for me. Just writing the script, I couldn’t even breathe, I was crying so hard. I was in my room, writing it on sticky notes, feeling ridiculous. When I showed it in class, everyone was super quiet. I’d spent months giving my soul to this thing and nobody had anything to say. I was really pissed. The best time I showed it to someone, she had the audio playing in her ear and the animation going as well, and she just started crying. I hadn’t told her what it was about at all. That was the best. My goal was to make someone cry.

kj: Why? ag: I just wanted to make people feel sad. Sandwich 24 in. x 36 in. Acrylic on Canvas

kj: Why sad, as opposed to something else?

ag: Yeah, you might as well not even have the work; you might as well have a passage in a book that suggests the idea. I think that when you make something, you have to give a bit of a shit about the audience.

kj: One of my writing professors told me that the audience owes the

writer nothing, whereas the writer owes the audience everything— you can’t take their attention for granted, you have to offer them something worthwhile.

ag: Yeah, I think of a painting as being like a movie. It has to

have a hook to it, to make someone want to stay with it for a while. Otherwise it has the same impact as an image you see for two seconds when you’re browsing Google Images. Two years later, you won’t be able to recall that moment, or think, “Oh, I was standing there for 15 minutes, because I just didn’t get what this was.” I think people have a lot of anger towards contemporary art. They’re like, “I don’t get it.” With something like a Renaissance painting, there’s a clearer narrative; you can familiarize yourself more easily.

kj: There’s an anger, which comes from what? ag: From not knowing. People have told me that their reaction

to not getting something is to shut themselves off. It doesn’t really matter if you “get” it or not—what about the experience of going to a gallery, or seeing something new and having a discussion about it? Not knowing can be interesting.



: Interview

Fuji Instax

kj: What’s been your favourite project so far? ag: [Long silence] Hmmm. I think I Would, the series I had

in Emily Carr’s year-end show, which might be because I spent the most time with it. I wasn’t rushing. For a while I doubted that I needed to do it, so I did a bunch of weird shit—then I’d have these meetings with my teacher and I would just break down, like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. Who am I? What am I interested in?” and I was left with a blank. But when I look back on the time I spent working on that project, it was fine. I kind of knew where I was for a minute.

kj: How do you put that piece into words? ag: [Laughs] Oh, fuck. Well, it started as a piece of paper. My

mom wrote a note when she was in the hospice—the beginning says “I would,” but then the rest of the sentence breaks down. It ends up looking like scribbles and half-words, with some recognizable letters, but nothing you can derive meaning from. So it’s left up to the person who’s reading it to try to investigate what that meaning could be. I wanted so hard to know what the note said and to understand her intent, because it must have been meaningful for her, if she wanted to write it down. But I knew from the beginning that I was never going to find out. At the same time, I was really hopeful that I’d have some kind of revelation. I’d known her pretty much my whole life—how could I not guess what she was trying to say?

kj: What was the process of painting those panels—there were nine of them, right?

ag: There are 17, but I chose nine to show—at that point it

was an aesthetic choice to decide, in terms of line and colour, how they fit together.

At first, that project was a reproduction of the original note, but I quickly began to doubt the necessity of having an exact copy. Even if I created a perfect reproduction, something would be lost. Every object—a building, a gravestone—tells a story about someone. But then, what happens when an object is produced in an art setting, to remember someone? Does it become something else, because it’s in a gallery, or because it’s put under the banner of “art”? Does that make the person who’s being remembered more important?

kj: Do you think putting something in an art setting changes it? ag: I think so. It’s a question of how to tackle emotion in art. When you’re making something to be viewed, how real is the emotion? But also, does it really matter how real it is, if the person looking at it is experiencing an emotion?

kj: How important is the work’s effect on the viewer? ag: I’d say it’s pretty important. But you can’t make decisions

based on what you think people will like aesthetically—it will look forced. When I’m working, I need it to look a certain way—it has to make me sing. If something’s really good, I’m just like, “Ahhhhh.”

kj: Art orgasm? ag: You get this feeling that you can’t touch it anymore, it’s just right. It’s exciting—I’m excited about painting.


: Interview

LIGHTNING DUST

monika w. koch: What’s behind the album’s name? Why did you ultimately decide to call it Fantasy?

amber webber: We were originally [using the title Fantasy

Chatting with Amber Webber, one-half of indie duo Lightning Dust

for] the song “Diamond”, but after recording the album thought that Fantasy was better served as the album title. To us, the album kept on evoking images in our minds of old ‘70s and ‘80s fantasy movies, and I’d see lots of bright colours while listening...That’s also what got us interested in Jessica Eaton’s photo for the cover.

by monika w. koch

mwk: Your songs are a bit heavier lyrically, and more sophisticated,

album art by jessica eaton

than what one might expect from a project like this, and it’s a neat complement to the melodic crispness—and sometimes, even, simplicity—of the synthesized instrumentation. Was this combination of sound and lyrical narrative something you aimed for from the beginning of your work, either in the context of this album or as Lightning Dust?

aw: Lyrically, I just wrote what I felt the music was presenting

me, or what wouldn’t leave my mind. For Josh [Wells] and I musically—we wanted to steer away from the dark folk-type sound we’d had in the past simply because it wasn’t new and exciting to us any more. It just needed a break. At the same

time, we were really getting into the world of synths and drum machines. So when we decided to write a new album we preplanned only that we’d have fun using our new instruments to make it. If I wrote a song on guitar, I’d hand it off to Josh and he’d re-arrange it and hand it back. It was a lot of fun.

mwk: We are all in love with the “Diamond” video and the synchronized swimming routine. Where did that concept come from?

aw: That video is all the genius of Helen Reed. She is an old pal and very talented artist! Her mind works in hilarious ways I admire. I was on tour with my other band the whole time she filmed the video, but she ran the rough concept for the video by us pre-tour and we loved it and trusted her to make it rule.

mwk: What is, by far, the most fantastic place you’ve ever gone swimming?

aw: Night swimming in the Adriatic Sea after playing a show

on the beach at a magical little venue called Hanabi in Ravenna, Italy. They put on free shows all summer that hundreds of folks come out to. We all went swimming after; the water was warm and it was very dark... it felt really special.

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: Person, Place, Thing

Person Jen McNeely

Place

Storm Crow Tavern

Thing $10 Tarot

by stu popp photography by stu popp (this page) & leigh eldridge art by wade janzen

Kodak 800

After two readings, the tarot cards are telling me that things are going pretty good right now. This is reassuring considering that my interview with Jen McNeely, co-founder of $10 Tarot, has gotten off to a rocky start. We had originally planned to meet at Commercial Drive’s hot new nerd bar, the Storm Crow Tavern, to talk and do a few tarot card readings on a sleepy Wednesday evening. However, it turned out that Wednesdays are the day that the Storm Crow holds their popular pub quiz night and exactly zero seats were available for me to plumb the mystic depths of my future against the backdrop of ray guns and battle-axes. We would end up relocating to a nearby park. I will eventually find my way back to the Storm Crow several days later for a lazy Sunday brunch, chosen from a delightful menu filled with nostalgia-evoking mini-cereal boxes, Eggo waffles, and

boozy coffees that come in a mug you can keep. My meal will be enjoyed over a few hands of Guillotine, a card game set during the French Revolution that is just one of many available to the patrons of the pub. These things will happen, but for now I am seated on the slightly damp grass scribbling furiously in a notebook as my romantic fortunes are being divined. McNeely lays out the cards for my first reading and we chat a bit about who she is not. Contrary to local folklore, she informs me, she is no longer a filmmaker, is not yet a registered counselor (though she is working on it), and was raised in Dawson Creek, not East Vancouver. She also can’t tell the future, though she knows someone who can. Who is McNeely? A writer (“fairy tales mostly”) who practices magic (the “witchy magic, not close-up magic”) as part of woevan (Witches of East Vancouver). She started $10 Tarot with fellow reader Wade Janzen with the goal of making tarot fun and accessible in Vancouver.


Collage (left): the seven of swords tarot card Seven is, by no measure, a fortunate number in the tarot. With the Swords you have some intellect at your side, but you will need your wits about you, for something shady is afoot.

Together, Janzen and McNeely have done short-form tarot readings in parks, along the seawall, at stagettes, and any number of other parties around the city. The short readings involve only three cards as opposed to the usual seven, and have a variety of categories like “Mind, Body, Soul” and “The Wheel of Fortune.” Janzen isn’t at my reading—he has stumbled upon free tickets to When The Sun Comes Out, a lesbian opera—but McNeely explains that their dynamic works because he balances out her more intense style. Even without her partner’s softening presence, McNeely is very reassuring while she unfolds the story of my past, present, and future romances from the tarot cards. McNeely is affable and charismatic, despite the sudden change of locale, my distracting note taking, and that she has correctly pegged me for a skeptic. We discuss the technique behind reading tarot cards, which relies not just on the suit of the card but also the reader’s intuition and what

elements of the art on the cards the reader focuses on as the card is flipped. After two readings, one long and one short, McNeely comes to the conclusion that things in my life are pretty good. A lack of major arcana cards tells her that I won’t have to prepare for any major upheavals any time soon. Romantically, I’m waiting for my ship to come in. The Seven of Swords card (the Traitor) is the only sinister card that appears; Jen informs me that someone in my life is being a “sneaky bastard.” As the sun begins to set, I thank McNeely and we part ways. I’m still a skeptic, but I can’t help wondering about the identity of the sneaky bastard. Is it you? Is it me?

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