Ali Pinkney is the author of Tampion, released by Metatron Press.
I eat white fish and cured green pepper lateral-wise a subdued-tropical tank of fish. The fish are cantaloupe coloured they look fresh I start to cry. I’m at an Indian restaurant on St-Laurent alone as in, I’m the only patron in the whole—okay wait. As I typed that over my plate, arms stretched to the laptop positioned as my dine partner, the waiter says to me “It’s okay we all have problems, the New Year will solve everyone’s problems. Me too, I have the same problem.” And I’m like, wow, Sir. I don’t have a problem. That was a lot to like, say to me, man. (Inside.) I don’t respond with words or look at him but I consider what he has said.
Can the waiter see something in me I cannot see yet?
What governs us (how to behave) speaks (the way we are instructed to/way we do/behave) to the Outside about What We Know (to) but does not “exist,” as in, that which does not “typically matter.”
I do not have a hometown.
I have “homes,” and there are towns I have lived in, and most certainly there are compounds of the two, but I see these compounds as more vigilantly specific than X, Ontario.
Reliable literal places “to go back to,” for me, are accessible in the way the portal dial in Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle works, where I am the moving castle or my anatomical heart is.
My mind or what have you is “the door.” Yes. That’s right. That is what I have said.
It’s become usual for me to forge non-cemented spaces of familiarized monotony off of landscapes apt to undergo significant renovation (everywhere in young country Canada).
These “spaces” take the shape of more conceptual “Portals Between,” based on related “Porticoes” and are where (and how) I derive a palpable sense of home because my previous, more “typically located” old homes are either piles of rubble, or their visualization and/or dimensions are completely incongruous with my memory of them. When I am at the coordinate of old “homes” or “homelands” then, they tend to destruct and destabilize the connection or notion of “This is where I’m from,” and rather establish or inspire a sense of the de-familiar. They impress me with, “This isn’t what it was when I was here last” (i.e., I was here before and did a lot of things here but it is not here anymore, as neither is my past). And this sensation is almost always the case with everywhere—apt to constant, sometimes radical change in presentation of outward show. (Though I wonder what it would be like to grow a carrot in the carrot field. I used to pluck them from The Bay—if it would taste the same.) This is why I hair-split and identify with the Howl’s Moving Castle thing so hard. I remember basically imagining the portal dial Miyazaki created, but as just the portal part in the middle of the road through a phantom door outside the house I was born into, so I’ve been really stoked that it’s a referable thing from outside of my mind since I saw the animation.
To illustrate what I was saying about the rubble without going on too much about my nomadic locational history, see this unsolicited email from my Mother:
Porticoes, then, occur when noticed on site and associate with re/semblances of latent porticoes that occurred on other coordinates. Together, these assemble The Portal Between. By way of the (usually thematic) portico-association, the “spatial” sensation of home that I’m getting at “is.”
So, I circulate with my organs, which are literal places for microbes, etc., governed by and that govern my flesh. Veins, arteries, optic nerves, the aorta (which is totally really long, it’s like the heart’s spine if you have yet to visualize it inside of yourself), etc., are physical portal-form “between-meats” of the human insides that relate without our usually seeing them, as go the Portals Between I’m describing. In this line of examination, you could call arms and legs “locational” portals between One and Outside if you wanted to whether you have them or not.
The synthesized Return to HQ sensation happens wherever I am in my actual spatial landscape when the latest portico that simulates The Portal Between with the latent one.
Their creational “intersection,” then, which is like an overlay or a lighting gel but with the length of experience of space and time between them in context of my life, then, are always determined by the whereabouts of my body, which is why I got all hot on the lo-fi anatomical for a second.
Back in the restaurant RE: The waiter’s comment—
I feel fine. I think I feel fine. I second-guess myself as a suspended consideration because I think about what I feel from Outside. I do this to understand what the waiter saw in me whereas a moment ago, I enjoyed the feeling of my unchecked tears and was sure these tears were good ones because that is the way they felt.
I think the waiter must think I am lonely or depressed—both of which may be true—but I do not suffer due to either condition if even so even if, I would not call these problems.
For a blip, my boner for anonymity is offended.
I do not wish to engage the waiter in conversation. I’d prefer to be spared exposure to whatever synaptic transference makes him see my tears ~ = his tears. Made uncomfortably aware of my formal short-term condition here as monetary transaction for this dude to dote on me for an hour or so while I eat, I do not want to be defensive with the waiter at the restaurant. Talk will fuck up what has seamlessly become my impassioned soiree during which I’ve begun to emote over fish and green pepper. Nor do I want to make the waiter feel bad about his comment: an attempt to relate, or soothe me—good intentioned, or else something he always says to patrons, still. No matter what Source Case, I am very clear on the fact that I am the one crying in his restaurant where he probably spends most of his time.
I stay calm and say nothing.
I do not look at the waiter but continue to cry for whatever reason I don’t really push to discover and feel decidedly good about it.
I face the glass wall on to St-Laurent and know the several staff members to have eyes—one with very contemporary glasses—that may be on me, out the window too, on each other, the fish, wherever.
When I look at the fish I see several at once (no count). From this far away it is very hard to watch one at a time. Out the window, there are parking meters.
I consider that unless there are two + vehicles with the capacity to look the same way at one time, the Other Looking-Vehicle can always see what the Primary Looking-Vehicle can’t exactly see.
To appreciate the waiter’s comment, I think, People need X (some one or thing, for me here, the waiter) to Devil’s Advocate them so that they don’t feel like they fold into themselves or an Other, their own, or the Other’s ideas or custom habits. A DA to check their I’s and Ch’s—ich—to avoid an over-compensate or over-compromise (over-fold, bi-pass), yet participate as active and compassionate individuals in objective (or observed) circulatory discourse, or if two involved once, racquet ball, ball the DA, Intersections with current else, the several fish as ‘fish universal-general/homologous glob of fish concept’ and This Fish Tank spatially uncoordinated, or, This is a dead end and an Over-fold. Never passed never seen—impossible. No, convoluted Berkeley tree but I care. Loathe but must exhaust it. Other diners in this establishment may have never noticed the fish. Subdued-tropical not tropical, if I were seated upstairs and did not pass through this room, absorbed with my dinner party, I may not.
The waiter brings me one of those spherical syrup-soaked donuts and I feel like a jerk for not knowing the correct name right now and think Indian TimBit w/ Amber Goo. He did not look at me when he brought it. He just brought it. There it is in front of me under my arms, and he said as if he didn’t exist, “Some sweet for you,” then disappeared from my side.
Over-fold of self, is this Why coin money, else solitude un-advocated or un-devilled? No Devil, cessation to circulate. In effect, not observed, exist as “Single Tank of Organ Somewhere” w/ External Concept of Fixed Dimension from outdated knowledge base, based in expired/erroneous, but provisional past? Do Coins manage so = Human Whereabouts? Are coins shaped kind of like blood cells because of this?
Fork poised, I think of the Meter Maid and the Incubus as Existential Devil’s Advocates and figure their roles in society as such.
I happen to love cardamom.
Post-exams, preoccupation void, I fell into a lo-fi paranoid depression and rolled with it. One night after a load of X-Files, I had a kind of visitation from an incubus and it was fine by me.
So fine, I might even prefer The Incubus Experience to intimacy with Dermals.
This makes sense to me. As a kid, David Usher gave me the idea that The Incubus Experience is cool.
I remember I understood this in South Porcupine, Ontario where I was under eight.
Pelvis tucked under rose-head down duvet, I turn my five-six-or-seven-year-old neck to the navy-dark window, register the Venetian pull blinds, my swine pink bedroom—and as I look into the dark outside, understand Incubus.
I know my (exceptionally stark) memory is defective because the David Usher song came out in 2001, and I did not live in South Porcupine then. To account for this discrepancy, I figure it must have been the band Incubus that introduced me to the term. To bolster the memory as site of understanding Incubus (as cool?), I suspend the parenthetical < four and five words to the left, and recall my strong personal relationship with multi-vitamins at that age. This enables a potential “special care” for Vitamin the track, which was released in a time frame aligned with the memory. I figure I saw the video on MuchMusic then asked Father “What is Incubus?” Then the memory, I looked for it. David Usher’s tune then, would later super-impose incubus-the-daemon as cool thing in 2001 onto the preexisting knowledge of what an incubus was at the navy-dark window. So I’d fused the cool-factor to the primed fear arousal that I remember having felt with the window, and bingo-bango—a “Portal” of familiarity w/ visualized locale between younger experience and very recent experience, body the same site if grown/changed, a blend of sense-association and an idea of how to acknowledge/assimilate/categorize Incubus Experience 2015 into loftier experiential weave.
The Date of Occurrence above was my first Incubus Experience Proper, so one could say until then I’d been in wait for nearly 20 years for this, if you were to round up.
Previous to Incubus Proper, I had a broken-cervix-induced fever dream during which I blurred a Neoprene blanket (pictured below) in a hypnopompic state into the Trix Rabbit all wily-grope on top of me. The Trix-Rabbit thing (2013) was markedly unpleasant whereas the Incubus Experience (2015) was not.
The Incubus Experience was 100% spooky, 100% tingle-dark, and since I woke up before I considered SUNDS, 100% safe.
I am not sure if this is a valid sub-portal, twixt the Incubus and the Trix Rabbit— But the Incubus and what it delivered—paranoia and sexualized invasion by spectre at night—sure did recur when I needed it to for the greater good.
In the restaurant, I am going to cry again and I’m not sure why but I do, and it’s cool.
Arrived at Nanna’s house in London, Ontario, I felt not really anywhere but in wait of the next familial gathering. I had pin-balled around the province by bus, GO train, and multiple legs of car rides for the last four days. The previous two nights, I had slept on a ¾ length couch in a common area. I’d interacted with way more people than I am used to on the daily too, so I was subdued-testy.
From the open-concept den at entry-level onto Epworth Avenue, where I was on the couch, there is a panoptic effect facilitated by the many windows that comprise the west wall of the house. There on the couch, I began to feel the intruder paranoia I used to feel on the regular during the four months I lived here.
I was supposed to sleep in the basement where I had slept for the time, where the lightweight Neoprene blanket is and where I sustained a blasé terror of mine—sweeping milk snakes. I found myself unable to go downstairs.
Rekindling my relationship with the non-snakes, somewhat paralyzed by my consciously irrational intruder paranoia in the den, with that prickle-in-the-skull vibe, skeptical and tired of my own fear, I went upstairs to wake Nanna to tell her I thought I’d heard an attempt at entry through the glass sliding door from the backyard (as I thought I had). “So I could figure out what to do.”
Nanna was very chill and suggested I sleep wherever I please because the other night guests would not arrive until tomorrow.
Back on the couch in the den, between reluctance and will to assume cowardice and the minor bed work hassle in the day, I considered the Intruder Fear as some kind of self-imposed homing tactic.
Ten minutes later, a groggy Nanna comes down in a rather stunning flamingo pink polar fleece zip-away muumuu. The garment is detailed with evenly-spaced magenta scribble-scrabble flowers.
Nanna suggests I may be projecting some internal turmoil, and she explains to me what projection means. Nanna practiced psychology and she has explained projection to me many times before.
She does it now like it was the first time ever. Her seemingly naive repetition refreshes time, even if she only does this because she is getting older.
I agree with her theory.
Nanna goes back to her room and I stay on the couch for a while.
I watch her black cat Suki open its jaws and rattle its throat to the stucco ceiling in slow motion. Suki bridges up all static charge on the velvet chair she was on and the lug of her belly slumps to the hardwood floor. Suki faces the upward stairs away from me, starts to meow at something that was not there. I figure A ghost passing through the house. My friend Sarah told me a few weeks before, “Cats only meow for the benefit of people,” and Nanna’s ex-boyfriend had just died. He was likely supposed to be here tonight. If not, certainly tomorrow and it was after 12 am, and he really liked Nanna, so I could see his ghost logic having him come sooner than later, at the turn of the day.
Once Suki followed whatever she spoke to upstairs and was out of sight, I crossed the den and sat at the top of the carpeted steps down to the basement.
I stared at the studio portrait of the first dead man of the house (different dead man), framed directly in my field of vision above where the kitty litter used to be kept but was not kept anymore.
I listened to the refrigerator’s built-in icemaker, which Nanna told me is seven years overdue for a revamp, (explaining the Rorschachs on the ceiling above the bed I used to call mine below the kitchen). It churned all guttural-jank between this and the nether level.
I felt very, very home on the stairs in my now entirely blasé paranoia.
I remembered my Incubus Experience days before and how fine it was.
The familiarity of my paranoia, but refreshed to see it as a new paranoia, not part of the wash of the old that was pissing me off, and the knowledge Incubus was not necessarily unwelcome combined in a resplendent blend of momentum.
I collect one of the remote telephones of the house for access to the Outside, and take it with me down to the gut of the Epworth house.
And there, I rest in peace—perfect peace.
If the Incubus helped me to embrace the uncontrolled unknown and governed my ability to situate myself in spatial reality to rest my unnecessarily whirring mind towards a state of necessary, temporary monotone—the next day I met the Incubus’ counterpart in the Day World.
THE METER MAID
Intimate mesmerizer— the fourth parking meter in a row, it stood (I assume it still stands) outside the Via Rail station in London, Ontario.
We have come to greet my sister who comes from Toronto by train.
We will take Sister back to the house.
Nanna tells me to feed the meter with coins from the cup holder between us in the Volvo.
The temporary monotony of the parked car: the meter’s responsive slot allots grants in time to be idle on its specific jurisdiction of asphalt. It does this for its over-lady, The Meter Maid.
We feed Her meter should She arrive unannounced to consult Her informant.
This is Her way: unannounced. Our full accountability mechanized by the meter, on display.
The meter then, Authority’s correspondent, reports our behavioural politic: Nanna, the Volvo, and I. Its valuation of human effort transliterates as coin money exchanged as for-profit space/time for a larger, communal, city-wide civility.
There is no sticker that tells me what to expect in return for Nanna’s Volvo coins.
I feed it a nickel.
It gives us a single minute.
I feed it a dime, five minutes more—another dime. This seems enough.
I know not what The Meter thinks of the single quarter coin as we walk to the station. I know no other meter in the municipality—I care not to.
Sister’s train runs late.
I must return to The Meter.
My blasé casino, it engages me with Chronos and the Mayor.
It reads only three minutes have passed even though the clock says 8 have ended.
Pleased by its clandestine, logic-defiant generosity, I feed the meter a golden loon-dog.
We are granted thirty minutes more. Some of these we leave to the next Stationer.
Great-great-Mummu Hilda, my Mother’s Mother’s Grandmother, micro-dosed her community in Finland on poison ivy boiled in milk to build immunity.
My initial instinct with the meter was to micro-dose the amount of coins I put in, and it was programmed to lure me to give it more coin sooner. This exchange is made under the blanket pretense of paranoia that the Meter Maid will visit in our absence and sting Nanna with a ticket via the Volvo, due to my failure to micro-dose effectively for my immediate community of Nanna, Volvo, then Sister, and myself, to secure immunity appropriately. We risk, through my interaction with the meter, what would be a contagious affliction of negativity.
In line with this, think of the Incubus or the (Non) Night Intruder as a micro-dose of the paranormal—and the behavioural effects of this para– (i.e., trepidation). Coining these figures with words in order to understand and handle the micro-paranormal as part of a circulatory system of individual-social consciousness is to have it pass between ‘hands in the mind.’ Observed, but dealt with (i.e., Intruder, D. Usher track, Vitamin, Projection), through the exchange of interior/exterior effects.
It seems fit to me, given my recent meetings with Incubus and The Meter Maid— that paranoia be embraced as individual-societal Devil Advocacy for The Greater Good.
Or else, these figures are the alone man’s reliable society.
One drinks the ivy milk so as to buffalo up for the Future that may involve hard, naked, surprise ivy and a sufferable reaction.
For paranoia, then, if boiled in a milk pot—Human Kindness or Amber Cardamom Goo.
Once in the door at Nanna’s, Sister tells me the night prior she found some bad news in the suitcase last used by her recent ex. I decide to play Devil’s Advocate to force her to more formidably shape her expression of grief over the bad news so I can better understand her feelings.
She tells me, “Sometimes Devil’s Advocate is the worst thing you can do,” and left me alone in the kitchen.
As a result of this, my Sister and I have a tense time together with stilted eye contact and exchange pretty much no speech for two days until we do not suffer the boundary and rift, and bond again.
The bond happened best at a coin-fed crane machine at the Silver City.
The crane machine seemed to glitch for her because she was granted unlimited rounds to claw spherical foam happy faces, whereas I am pretty sure I only got one try. I had walked away from the machine to get her to play it too (and out of phone-world w/ her ex), after what I felt was my skill-based victory.
Sister pointed out to me that the crane machine was Win Every Time.
I did not see the sign that indeed said that when I had played.
I am still sure the machine played a victory track that glorified my ability to win, but it did not do the musical thing it did for me as I had my Sister anticipate it would for her when she kept getting smiley foam spheres until she stopped playing and we left the machine all endlessly-giving and walked away.
She gave one foam happy face to Nanna and one to Wildflower Charlie (I know I didn’t introduce him—here he is) and I had won one and she kept one.
There were crocodile-coloured fish in the tank at the restaurant on St-Laurent as well.
Crocodile is pretty much the colour of cantaloupe rind.
I look out the window of the apartment I live in across the city towards downtown Montreal.
Is it that I feel like I’m at home when I feel there is something out there that might come and fuck with me while I am asleep? Milk snake, Meter Maid, Incubus, to coin them because there is—Something out. We need that. Or is it that we only need that when in absentia of an intimate, regular bond with a flesh human and this a symptom of deep sexual and social frustration?
The clouds are low but the sky is white-yellow beneath them all nice but sour milk jaundice-like and there are water droplets on the windowpane. I feel lonesome but am happy. I tipped the waiter well and considered what he said.
Ali Pinkney is a writer who lives in Montreal. She has studied at Concordia University since 2010. Her work to date has been published almost exclusively by solicitation. There are two novels—PIKE or HORSE CRIMES, and YRKA—that she works on.