August 2012

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Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 05:05 pm
11 June 2012

Last night I dreamed of two people, hunters of the undead, a man and a woman. The man’s name was Remy, but I don’t recall the name of the woman. For reasons I can’t recall they needed help, or we desired to help them-- I think they were relations of some sort, though the details escape me. They offered to train us, and we offered to help them. It happened that our garage was fitted out as a workshop with a great many tools, perfect for the maintenance of weapons. The woman’s weapon was essentially a belt-fed sawn-off shotgun. She gave it to me along with the suggestion that I space out the bullets on the belt, to avoid wasting my ammo-- ammo was expensive.

I went with Remy on a hunt, where we were taking down a vampire nest that was based in a multistory house. Strangely the architecture was Chinese, although the vampires inside were not. We started on the roof and entered the upper story from there. Remy went first and was gone when I arrived. The interior was open around a center atrium and stairwell, and there were various vampires going about their business, so I went about mine.

At that point it became rather like a video game; when I killed a vampire they would be holding something afterwards, like a gold bar, which I could then pick up from their bodies simply by walking by. It was going fairly well until I started running low on ammo. I ended up fighting one female vampire by clubbing her with the butt of a revolver, which was taking quite a long time, but I was fairly sure it would do the job eventually.

To Love Life, by Ellen Bass

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you've held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it's like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it's heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you again.

Walking in London, 14 May 2012

I feel, often, a piercing loneliness, and wish that I had someone with whom to share my travels. But there is a virtue in traveling by oneself, that being mainly that there is no one you need satisfy except yourself.

The Tuesday a week past, I set out to walk. It was a sunny evening, cool but not cold. Thames-side, by the Jubilee Gardens, I paused to take photos, with the carosel in the foreground on a backdrop of the Clock Tower. I could wait as long as I needed to for the perfect shot, the right balance of light, a brief break in the passers-by; no one was standing, idle and impatient, waiting for me to finish.

I walked across the Jubilee Bridge and discovered the Korean Culture Centre by chance-- closed, of course-- walked up to Trafalgar Square with its great lions, took pictures of the strange new sculpture on the plinth. Then I chose a back street on instinct to take me to Regent’s Street. And who in this wide world would be willing to trust my sense of direction in a foreign city, and take an unknown route for the simple reason that I’d never walked it before?

I wanted to walk along Saville Row, but my attempt to cut over instead brought me to a pedestrian street stocked with restaurants, their outdoor seating shrouded by potted plants. Undismayed, I wandered from one to another reading menus and speculating over their patrons, and noted in passing a commemorative plaque marking the location of the photo of an Iggy Stardust album cover. Would anyone else consider this adequate recompense for a stymied effort?

I cut through more back streets to Hanover Square, turning up dozens of pubs and a fascinating clothing store, and only had to be on Oxford Street for a block to reach Uniqlo (Oxford Street is like an American shopping mall, only outdoors and in London. I dislike it more with every visit). There I spent a good hour perusing their t-shirt selection. Who would sympathize with my grumbling over Wolverine always representing the X-men (give me the Professor, or Rogue, or Nightcrawler, or Gambit, or Storm!), or thrill with me that they brought back one of the old Yoshitaka Amano designs?

On the way back I did make it to Saville Row, and happily criss-crossed the street, admiring the suits displayed in the windows. I stopped in front of Poole & Co.-- by Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen, the window stated. By Appointment to His Highness the Prince of Wales. By Appointment to the Former Emperor Napoleon. The window of the basement was still lit-- I crouched down and saw a tailor at work, ironing, measuring, cutting and sewing. I watched him for a while, trying to guess what he was working on, admiring his swift proficiency. Who else would be willing to crouch there with me, who else would find joy in simply watching the skilled work of a true craftsman at his trade?

At the end of Saville Row I turned right, for the simple reason that it looked more interesting. It brought me a block out of my way, but there I found a medieval perfumer’s hall, with a gothic spire-- a plaque informed me that it held the only complete set of hand bells still in London, 23 Carillion bells, still rung out on occasions of joy and celebration. The next street was crowded with expensive stores, the likes of Dolce & Gabbanna-- no less expensive but somehow crass after the understated elegance of the bespoke tailors on Saville Row. Turning back on course I passed covered shopping arcades-- closed, but I could just see small, elegant shops down the long corridors. I noted one to return to, a tiny cafe with a gold-and-macroon mountain in the window. I found a church with interesting concerts. A famous tea store, Fulton & Masons, with a display of cavorting heraldic beasts playing instruments in honor of the Queen’s Jubilee. The griffin was playing the harp-- clearly a creature of taste. Who else would be delighted by such silent music, who else would exclaim over the tea menu and make plans to try it (some day, some day)?

And then I walked on, and on-- down Whitehall and past its many government buildings. One small side street was fenced off, with four policemen on the other side, and I wondered why-- then looked up and saw the innocuous street sign: Downing Street. Only four guards, casually chatting, and the Prime Minister’s residence not far beyond. Walked past West Minister and the Clock Tower and the Houses of Parliament, with tourists taking pictures even at such a late hour. Across the bridge to say goodnight to the Lion of Lambeth-- the statue once stood outside a brewery and survived the Blitz. It seemed to me that the beast was keeping a worried eye on the skies. Then under dripping brick and steel as trains rumbled overhead, into the innocuous door of the Walrus Hostel just beyond.

And who in this world would walk with me that whole long way, and finish it satisfied? Who else would afterwards fall into my dreams, to wander with me some more?


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