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page 31

The ludicrous timing of the message did oddly cheer me up however because I love a little irony.  Maybe I’m bluffing?  I say out loud that it cheered me up, speaking up towards the ceiling of my apartment.   I don’t think I quite believe it myself.

This Dan Mc-whatever rejected the poetry in such a way as to try and not make me hate him—telling me that the work is good.  He did also essentially say that I was ugly.  Kill them with kindness I guess, never burn a bridge.  Who knows when they might be famous and you’ll have to call in the “favor” you did for them by being the first to reject their work and insult them outright.  You pushed them to work harder so they really owe their success to you.  Right?  I drink more water.  Evidently writers fall into two categories: the first is the ones who can actually write (Margaret Atwood and her buddies).  Their book jacket pictures always depict a moody, high contrast image of a bespectacled academic in a big sweater and scarf.  They usually look stern: furrowed brows heavy with the vast amount of knowledge they’ve accrued by studying obscure subject matter or sometimes (and this is usually the case for the women) they’re shown with a mischievous smile—they’re smarter than you and they know it.  The second category is all the hot authors like Lauren Weisberger and other former sorority girls—they’re borderline illiterate but well connected.  Their pictures are always bright, carefree and obnoxious and they always maintain that they want their writing to speak for itself and not be influenced by their image.  Sure.

Come to think of it, FoundationCreative has more in common with reality T.V than it does to literature.  The artists who make love on canvas, and model in their spare time get written up in Vancouver Magazine with exclusive photos.  The writers discuss in detail their disdain for the war, how Buddhism has changed their lives and given them smaller pores and their discovery of the beautifying benefits of tantric sex.  I read an in-depth interview in the Headhunter.  The FoundationCreative roster is definitely news worthy and admittedly easy on the eyes.

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pages 29 and 30

Outside the rain has picked up even more—the puddles already immense at the corners of each sidewalk.  SmartCars, Audis and Minis zip past, ushering shoppers to their new debt inducing locations.

Scurry, scurry.

I deploy the chute of my umbrella and stand momentarily in the downpour—my pants getting drenched from the back spray off the street.  I feel like a minor character my own book.

I somehow let you play the lead and didn’t even know.

***

I come back to my apartment, my little home, my hardwood haven.  Kate Bush playing in my C.D player.  I had a craving for her after the re-mixing I heard last night.  Corny yes, but well written, much like my own…positive thoughts only.  I check the little mirror in my bathroom.  My face is hilarious.

If I only could make a deal with God

I decide to conquer my hideousness one glass of water at a time and start chugging from a refilled 1.5 litre Evian water bottle.  Perhaps every hour on the hour I’ll repeat this and see if I can drown my acne.  And good lord, my hair is even worse.  I worry about this too much.  Beauty they say is from the inside out.  Think beautiful, be beautiful.  Be beautiful.  Maybe it helps that I’m smart…sort of.  A good personality can disguise a dumb face, stupid hair, flat chest, skinny legs and a crooked grin.  And whoever told me that should be shot.  I should have started to save my money from the very start.  Buy my way into good looking.  Tori Spelling did it, and it worked…some would say it worked.  Most of them are other celebrities.  Buy a new nose, cut out your crooked teeth, stick your ass in your lips, get daily facials and monthly manicures, and take lessons for speech and etiquette.  Exercise.

Get him to swap Our Places

I notice that the light on my answering machine is flashing and I check my voice mail.  Hey there, you’ve reached Katharine Henry’s residence.  To your dismay I’m out or unable to come to the phone.  Leave your name and number and I’ll call you back whenever possible.  Thanks.

Beeek

“Hello this is a message for Katharine Henry.  Katharine, this is Dan McKarvey calling from FoundationCreative.  We want to thank you for your submission but…Uhm, we have a great degree of publicity involved with the promotion of our authors, poets and artists.  We do a lot of showings, openings and signings, more than most publishing houses…you get the idea.  Your poems are quite lovely, but at this time, with the showcasing we’ve been trying to so of young, fresh and sexy talent I am afraid we will be unable to represent your work at this time.  Best of luck however and as I said your poetry is edgy and I look forward to reading it in a publication.”

I hang up the phone crookedly in the receiver.  At this point I would have to re-examine why I sent the man called Dan any of my work.  It’s almost too fitting for the day because of the farce that occurred earlier.  I already feel defeated but now this: get rejected not for a lack of talent but for…well.  So close and yet so very, very far.  It’s like being in the middle of the ocean, stranded and someone throws you a lifesaver but the lifesaver is lead weighted and pulls you down further.

It feels like that.

page 28

“Books.  You’ve heard of Dimension Apart?”

“Yep.”  I’m actually trying not to soil my own undergarments.  There’s an intestinal tango going on inside me as my nerves feel like they’ve suddenly just been plugged in.  D.A published some of my favorite authors: Hammil, Suris, MacDougal.  I pretend to drink coffee calmly—my lips barely touching the bitter, lukewarm liquid.   I am trying to play it cool.  I am trying to convince him I’m woman of the year and not an unaccomplished, illiterate poet.  No.  No I’m not.  I am quite obviously a student who looks out of place amongst the glitterati at Horoscope café with an 8-dollar muffin and coffee combo talking to the Grande publisher of DimensionApart.  “I’ve read a few of the books you published.”  I offer the statement, knowing full well he doesn’t believe my supreme understatement.  D.A is international and everyone has read something they’ve published.

“Many have.”  He says.  It’s a smug comment, definitely and recognizing that this conversation can only devolve, I opt for an exit.

“I had actually better go Mr. Jamus, it was a pleasure meeting you.”  I grab the last of my muffin and pull on my sweater-jacket.  Umbrella ready, I give him a stupid little wave.  He waves back and returns to his coffee.

Asshole.

page 27

“I know how you feel.  I get Pa-Jamus a lot.  Nothing conjures quite as sexy an image as flannel sleepwear.  Sometimes I get PJ too, which I think might be the name of one of the Little Rascals.  Well you’re certainly creative, which is essential when introducing yourself.  I definitely won’t forget your name if we meet again.” He says.  I feel like he may have just given me a compliment but I don’t celebrate too early to err on the safe side.

“What is it that you do Pajamas?”  I ask him, hoping that my little jest at his name comes off as cute and confident rather than annoyingly over familiar.

“I’m in publishing.”  He smiles deviously and takes another sip of coffee.  The look of utter self-satisfaction is rank all across his face.  He knows exactly what he has just done to my psyche now that I’ve confessed my desire for a writing career and spouted bad poetry at him.  I turn away and bite into my muffin again without delicately breaking off a piece because somehow I feel offended and I’m sure he as a good idea as to why.  ‘He could be being honest,’ I think as I flip into a little daydream.  I picture this man named Pajamas as a pair of long, plaid underwear with a buttoned-up ass burrowed away in an office pumping out books on sleepwear and undergarments.  I chuckle.

“What sorts of things do you publish Pajamas?”  I ask him, hoping that he says he works for a scientific journal or another rag that’s equally dull and removed from my own writing.

page 26

“I try to.”

“Just try?”

“I do, write that is.  Nothing publishable yet.”

“How old are you?”

“23.”

“In school?

“Unfortunately yes.  Hence the insatiable desire to get something published and drop out.”

“I see.”  The man is sipping his now crema-free coffee (he drinks it black I see, how mysterious) and squints into the sunless streets.  The drizzle exchanges itself with a much heavier rain and the traffic is now picking up.  Scurry scurry little Vancouverites, scurry.  Eat your organic veggies, get to your spinning classes, your pottery lectures and your galleries.  “What’s your name?”  It was the man again, somehow I had forgotten that we were mid-conversation.

“Kate…therine.”  I extend my hand for a shake as I trip a little over my words.  He takes my hand in his, the back of which is covered in freckles.

“Pleased to meet you Kate-therine, I’m Patrick Jamus.”  I couldn’t decide whether I thought his sardonic tone was charming or rude but I decided to follow up the hesitation I had about my name anyway in an effort to not sound like a total idiot.

“I normally prefer Katharine.  Kate is very casual and I hardly know you, and Katie is what you call a rag-doll or a redheaded six-year-old.  Or if I went the Kathy route I’d be an obese lesbian or a politician’s wife with big round hair and I’d have to be addicted to prescription meds.”  This makes him smile and he sips from his coffee as though he was whispering the mug’s brim a question.

page 25

“I’m so sorry.  I was thinking out loud of something I’m sort-of writing.  Please sit.”  I move my knitted sweater-jacket and the medium height, medium build, handsome John Doe puts his coffee on the bar counter.  “I tend to zone out on weekends.  Again I’m sorry.”

“It’s really no problem, it happens to the best of us.”  A statement that I assume he makes referring to himself.  He says this while taking a sip of an Americano and some of the crema (how cool am I for knowing what it is?) clings to his top lip, he licks, and I return to staring out the window.  The low-lying clouds dissolve once more into a drizzle, reaching like clammy tree branches down onto glass-skinned Vancouver.  The droplets speckle the window, and water coats the saturated concrete of Horoscope’s “patio” with another application of gloss.  My coffee steams the bottom of my chin as I stuff buttered Urban Apple/Spice into my mouth.  Healthy muffin my ass.

“You write?”  The stranger is asking me a question.  I’m totally unprepared and the wad of muffin I’m chewing has mixed with saliva and it’s now far too large to swallow suavely and not choke and die on.  I try to chew fast to answer and attempt a sip of coffee to speed the breakdown process, bad move.  The bolus has begun to congeal in the back of my throat—I try everything possible to stifle my gag reflex.  I choke. Images of me spewing expensive baked good and coffee sludge over the window and the handsome gentleman dart through my brain.  Damn Vancouver and its alternative grains that are indigestible.

I recover…luckily.

page 24

Oddly enough, the café is busy.  God, people in this city are such losers.  Black clad, rain protected Vancouverites sipping Americanos, soy steamers, vanilla lattes, and munching on gingerbread biscotti and healthy muffins.  I order from what looks like a fetus wearing M.A.C Viva Glam lipstick and a push up bra.  She rolls her eyes at my boring choice of Sumatra (I think it sounds sexy) with room for plenty of cream, and an Urban Apple/Spice muffin.  The duo costs a whopping eight dollars and seven cents.  I ponder whether it’s the muffin or the coffee that is forcing me into bankruptcy and why, for this price, they don’t let you post a picture of yourself on the door stating to the public that you are so cool and rich that you get your coffee from this particular cafe.

Window bar seat.

I pull out my little notebook (a social crutch I keep with me to look intelligent in public) and I start to jot down some poetry that’s been tumbling around in the rotary of my brain for the last few days.

 

How Hatha is your Yoga?  How tantric is your sex? 

Reach your arms around my shoulders, put your hands around my neck

How trendy is your downtown?  How amazing is your chest?

Untie my shoes, unzip my lungs put my breathing to the test.

Think about your free time, think about your past

Hire me at you business and make the time go fast

Do you read the paper?  Do you watch the news?

applaud the Black you saw today, ‘cause he gives you the blues.

You were in my movie, you were…

“Mind if I sit here?”

“In…my…show,” awkward pause.  I just spoke out loud a line of shitty poetry to a total stranger as I was writing it down and I can tell he’s thinking of a way to brush the comment off and sit down before his coffee is cold.

“Uhm, yeah, I prefer the term ‘turf’, or ‘hood’ even but ‘show’?  Never heard that one before.  Works just as good I guess.  I’ll have to write that one down.  No, it’s just there aren’t any seats left and your jacket…” he’s motioning towards my coat on the empty seat beside me and I realize that I can’t multitask.  Thinking and talking simultaneously is far too difficult.  His attempt at being funny was still pretty miserable though, even for a grown-up.

page 23

Hey there, you’ve reached Katharine Henry’s residence.  To your dismay I’m out or unable to come to the phone.  Leave your name and number and I’ll call you back whenever possible.  Thanks.

Beeek

Oddly enough there isn’t a message and instead, the awkward shuffle and caluk of a phone hitting its receiver.  I curse myself for rolling over to check my messages this early on a weekend.  I guess it’s good that I did though because it’s got me moving a bit.  Saturday mornings always induce a little panic in me—my stomach sloshes and tumbles around, apprehensive with the thought that the weekend is already slipping away as I lie in bed.  The dim aluminum-grey light filters in through the rolled up foot of white Venetian blind over my apartment’s large window.  The rain of last night has stopped, perhaps only a few minutes ago—it’s resting.  The roads outside echo with the sounds of gulls and other city birds, bleating at each other over crumby wrappers and bits of soggy toast from the dumpsters.  They’re not complaining though.  Aside from the hustled squawks and caws, the streets are pretty silent, and 7:00 flashes a wounded red on my alarm radio.  Having not set it and already feeling ineptly awake, I swing my legs over the edge of my bed.  They bend at the contact with the hardwood floor, phone cord lying stupidly across my lap.  Everything hurts.  I consider a jog but my small intestine squelches the idea and instead I opt for a shower and then coffee at Horoscope.

There’s ringing in my ears.

In the shower.  Warm water from the rusted showerhead drizzles over the knots of my spine.  The lull of the water hitting the porcelain in the tub tempts me to sleep, it tells me that I should just return to my bed and let the headache figure itself out amongst the mess of pillows and woven blankets.  I resist with thoughts of caffeinated goodness.

The walk to Horoscope is mildly refreshing: irriguous air clinging to the brick facades of the buildings on South Granville and to my skin, fogging up my glasses.  When I get there though, Horoscope’s unassuming windows are dark and I panic thinking that they’re closed and that my excursion is in vain.  I actually wrenched myself from the cool bliss of my bed, from the indecision and procrastination of a Saturday AM at home for this?  How dare…

…the fog on their inner windows suggests coffee is being brewed.

Open.

page 22

Fifteen dollars later I’m home.  My house is impeccably clean, my bed soft, my face unwashed.

Asleep.

page 21

I walk up to one of the ten or so taxis lined up on the street waiting to chauffer drunk brats home from their night of un-supervised sin.  Who knows, maybe some of them will be drunk enough to leave a decent tip.  Doubtful.  I sink into the back of the cab and lean against the window while I tell the extremely foreign driver where I’m headed—where home is.  He turns out onto the street and almost runs over two blonds who have drunkenly stumbled out of the club, most likely for a cigarette.  I suppose they’ll find one in the street somewhere.  One of them puts both her hands on the hood of the cab and looks directly into the eyes of the driver and then with that teenaged Pfffst spitting sound, bursts out laughing.  The other yells out “Pak attack! It’s a 7/11 samosa Jihad!”  I lean forward:

“Feel free to run over them.  I promise I’ll tell the cops that it wasn’t you.”  The driver turns and looks at me smiling.  I’m not sure if he totally understood me, or them, but at least I attempted to make a sort of connection.  He drives past the two date rape statistics toward my home across the bridge.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Vancouver flooding entirely in this weather.  The little yellow taxi puttarup-pupping across the large concrete bridge, then suddenly out of nowhere, the bridge supports disintegrate with the throb of the surging water and the bridge would crumble into the marina.  The Israeli taxi driver would be crushed in the fall, his arm extended and broken in the berserk spinning of the steering wheel.  The early model Chrysler wouldn’t have airbags, but the impact with the jaundiced waters below will be surprisingly sympathetic.  I’d stare at the darkening window as the taxi sinks into the deep pollution—bubbles peppering the cab’s windshield with yellow light and, because I’d be so relaxed, I wouldn’t claw at the door handle or try to break out. Nah, not tonight.  Instead I’d unbuckle my seat belt and close my eyes, the city above me swelling with tepid torrents of rain.  A state of emergency, a province in despair.  F list Celebrities will lend their names to the cause, and evil companies will send money to the “Repair Vancouver” fund.  In time my name would appear on a memorial sculpture in the downtown of the diminished city, the cab driver’s of course would not.  That would be something to write about for sure.  I look at the driver as I consider his character for a novel and he glances at me in the mirror, unnerved.