Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Going it Alone

*This post has been altered out of respect for a friend who does not wish to be identified. 

I am immersed again, thinking on our missing and murdered. The astounding generosity and ingenuity that is personified by the people of Cahoots Theatre Projects has brought me to a retreat to focus on furthering the script [now called] In Spirit. Among other writers and dramaturgs, in this strange little town of "twee", I think of May 6, 1978.

One girl is occupying the largest room in my mind - fueling the busiest muscles of my heart.

It is a lonely thing in so many ways, this play. I have come off of working on big group development - the Fort at York for weeks, with fourteen other actors and various other staffies, creative and non. The Mill for Theatrefront, with a dozen or so artists I admire newly and for ages. Big groups. Here I sit at the Green Room used by the Shaw festival, the only person. Not one other soul in the room, and it's a big one. In Spirit quickly became a three-person play. I worked with Andy and Michaela as soon as I had a draft to hold in my hands. We invited people to respond straightaway - it was us three or more, always. Today I am alone. This seldom means "lonely" for me, but this time, it does.

The other aspect that has me feeling like a tiny single-celled organism is that I am realizing, more and more, that this play is not enough. It is not enough to write a play about a girl who was murdered, and whose killer was never "brought to justice". Justice can hardly be served in this case. Even if the killer were found, proven guilty, and sentenced to jail for all of eternity, never would his mother glance out the kitchen window in hopes that her child was puttering down the lane on his new bike - "Sorry, mom! I got lost." or "Sorry mom, I ran away, but I came home because I realized..." whatever. No. Whoever killed got to grow up. The murdered did not. This girl did not.

She was imagined into adulthood by all of those who loved her, but she did not do the things that she ought to have done. She was cut short by someone who had no right to make that choice for her.

A play will not change that.

What I want is for the man who killed her - and it was almost certainly a man - to suffer. I do. And it goes against all of the faith that I have in our kind. Us humans. What have we done? How have we bred a person who can commit such an act? Why do I have a hunger for vengeance about this, a desire for the man who did this to suffer worse than any murdered child has ever suffered? He was a child once! It's a safe assumption to guess that he suffered in his youth - he must have to become such a creature. In spite of this, I have no sympathy for him. I want him punished.

A play is not enough. And so the play must demand what is.

Does this serve this girl? Does it serve her beautiful mom? Her sisters? All of those people who were effected by her short time with us? That is my hope. That is my aim.

This week, I do it alone. Never have I been so alone as any murdered woman or girl was in her last moments. And this is just a play. I wish it were more.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

from Michaela : A Hole in the Sky

*This post was altered out of respect for a friend.

As the actor asked and honored to walk for a brief time in a missing girl's shoes,
I found myself so profoundly affected by her.

I never had the pleasure of meeting her in person,
but I do feel like in some way I was allowed to know her... even if only a little.

The process of this play was beautiful and difficult and excruciating.
It struck me with such a profound sadness at times that I would need to stop and allow the wave to pass... grief for a relation, one of our young.
And now in light of the recent passing of my dearest Mama,
remembering the experience of In Spirit [retitled] is suggesting some strange kind of solace.

My Mom lived a long full life and raised kids and raced cars and was an active member of her community… this girl was robbed of that before she could even reach the age of thirteen. Just a babe really.
Even still, she was a great babysitter, loved her new bike and was loved and respected by her community.

And in the telling of this story I was ever reminded of the need to remain present.
To delight in some things and take heed of others. To always do your best and to know that it’s okay when you don’t.

The strange solace lies too in the reminder that at any time, especially those times when you feel exceptionally alone, those spirits are there. Our ancestors walk with us, carry us and continue to love us from another place. They continue on within us, through our eyes, our expressions, our subtle ways of being… our laughter.

As a friend said to me the other day, “It is like a hole in the sky.”… and that it is.
But somewhere I believe there is a huge reunion where there is only remembering and love and joy.
And maybe the only way to get there,
is through some hole in the sky.

Monday, July 2, 2007

in love like that

There are times I fear celebrating inside happiness because I don't want to chase the joy away. There are better days when I am able to look around, shake my woolly head and revel in how fucking beautiful this life is.

Today I had a reading of a play I conceived of three years ago. Back when I first wrote it, I quite loved it. I shared it with some trusted friends and fellow writers- feedback was encouraging. In spite of this, I let one person's lukewarm reception cool my own feelings about it. I let it slide to the side and pursued other stories. I'm glad for the work I did in that time, but I missed this play like home.

Michaela Washburn, Craig Lauzon, Gail Maurice and Michelle Latimer are helping me bring it to what is should be. By blessed luck, the grant I snagged is being augmented through the generosity of VideoCabaret. Through their own indie contracting, we also get to have Andrew Dollar contributing in a technical advisory capacity. This team is so remarkable I feel like I'm in love. I actually feel swoon-y over this. This is my job. Fuckin... what?

Ever lucky, me.

The play is reading this Friday afternoon at 3:30 in the Cameron House back space. We would love to have people in attendance who are willing to engage in a dialogue afterward. The greatness of workshop comes from exploring what-ifs with many people all in the same room.

It is my aim to work on production in this way. How many shows have you seen that just fuck the dog all the way through? In my experience... most of 'em. Why oh why is there not a feedback process during a run? Is acting so bloody precious that we can't adjust, edit, change and improve once opening night has passed? I call bullshit. I know that we MUST do these things. So many shows with gobs of talent can be saved this way.

Egos have shaped a construct that make theatre garbage. Actors are trained that changes beyond opening are detrimental because directors have too much power. Directors don't want their work altered once it is out of their hands. Directors teach acting at acting schools all over the shit. Of course we learn this- it maintains their dominance. Directors should be more like conductors. Where is the first violin on a theatrical stage? Where's the g.d. oboe tooting out its b flat or whatever? Theatre is weird, man.

Actors, of course are rendered impotent by the system we have in place. Flaccid actors are welcomed into most rehearsal processes. Vacant people who can appear clever or void on command. Also desired are people who choose to shut down their own opinions for the sake of avoiding cubicles. Those ones can be puppetted easy peasy. Misguided egotism. Some actors would rather parade around in shitty writing and directing instead of making rent as barristas or busboys. How? How is donning arsehole in your field better than working in a job that the general public views as subservient? Isn't it insulting to your own field to enable drek? Isn't it nobler to scrape bruschetta from the plate of some restaurant patron than to serve up third rate theatre to a patron who might support work that you are proud to be a part of?


Directors have become such dictators that the collaborative methodology is a farce in most rehearsal halls. We fear claiming our own space. How many great actors enable shit work because they have chosen to stifle their own good sense to get hired again? Most of us, I think. The ones who do speak up are all too often written off as selfish, difficult people. Serving the story is seldom priority, and in my life, story is the core. The blood, the guts, the stink, the spit- all of it. It ought to be. We know this. Yes? The thing is the thing, other shit is not the thing.

Why have we castrated ourselves? Theatre is hard, but why pretend at subscribing to some structure of working in an effort to make it less challenging when we know that that sort of imposed structure makes for homogeneous work? One structure cannot be applied to any two plays. Must not. When one person is added or taken from a room the format of working MUST be affected because the energy in the room is affected. Why pretend it doesn't? And doesn't that deny the power of theatre? Live bodies in a room- THAT is the power. We ignore it in rehearsal. So fucked! Forced adherence to a system of working toward a strong piece is suicide. It is safe, it is succumbing to mediocrity.

I don't know how to do it right, but I do know how to do it wrong. There are loads of examples of that.

No surprise that this workshop of Mom's Birthday feels like love- I don't know how to get that right either, but I am surrounded by examples if how to fuck it up. Have done so myself. Many times. On a grand scale and in mini versions. Maybe in both love and theatre, we keep doing it cause nobody's figured it out yet.

I don't know. I'm glad to know that I don't know, really, cause if I knew I wouldn't have anything left to do.

Throughout my life I have periodically listed to myself "Things That I Know". That list doesn't change a lot:
1) I love my Mom
2) I pursue honesty
3) I love sleep
...and a few others that come and go depending on my state of mind.

I wonder at starting a list of "Things to NOT Do With Theatre-Making".
1) Do not censor questions
2) Do not cling to a final draft, allow for improvement
3) Do not be late

What would you put on there? Are axioms problematic either way? Absolute yeses and absolute nos?

I don't know. Ever lucky.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Peter Brook

Peter Brook visited a small housefull of us at the Harbourfront Studio theatre today (April 8). I felt a little giddy recalling the teenie eenie run of TransCanada that had played there two years ago. Something I'd written for Cliff Cardinal and Lena Recollet, directed by Cowboy Nolan, had inhabited the space that Peter Brook was taking up. I love this city.

He began by speaking to the importance of space and its influence on the work. The moat between himself and the house seats distressed him, as he wanted more of a dialogue than a lecture. Made me smile to picture Cliffie jumping out toward the Canada Day crowd two years ago with a big damn plate of glazed dougnuts- how the kids whipped out at him like frog's tongues.

Jani Lauzon asked him to speak to multi-culturalism. He noted that the term "multi-culturalism" was a horrid one. He said that ultimately work on a global scale is more powerful when one works with people who come from a variety of sources. He said that people "absorb the rhythm of their source" and became quite animated when he observed how immediate the exchange is between two people when they have different rhythms. "The moment there is a meeting, something can be shared, exchanged." This led to a question about his interest in South African stories.

He spoke of the way that all forms of creative expression were outlawed in the townships under apartheid. Reminded me of how those in power came to Canada to study the treatment of the First Nations (specifically the reserve system) when formulating the system some decades ago. Ultimately, it seemed as though the vigour that came from finally developing their theatre legally was what drew him to work on South African works.

Andrew Pifko asked about whether Brook had noted the emergence of any styles in the theatre of late, whether for better or worse. Brook responded with "style is something one should never be conscious of." He observed that someone is always hard at work on "next week's cliche". He spoke to the drive of a project and how basing it in a certain "style" is not genuine and generally crap. "If it's a style, then it must be abandoned."

Somebody I couldn't see asked about auditions. Brook thinks them an evil that are sometimes necessary in spite of it all. He knows working sessions to be much more helpful for everyone, as compared to the lone nervous actor spewing his memorized solo work for three to five minutes or what have you. When working on multiple exercises with other actors, those casting do not judge whether the actors are fit to the project, they come to know it.

Someone at the back asked whether Mr. Brook could trace the moment when he decided he had to become a theatre creator. Brook took exception to the usage of the word "Creator". He said "I hate. Hate when people presume to use the word 'creator'." He thinks it pretentious. I later giggled when Mr. Marc Bendavid sheepishly admitted it was he who posed the question. I use this word regularly, in spite of the fact that my own preferred spiritual term in reference to a greater energy than single humans is The Creator. Theatre is creation- creation of a storytelling experience among people in a space.


This post is old now, and I will conclude it when the impulse strikes me again. For now, I just want to send it off...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

once i had this dream of you

Did I ever tell you?

I dreamt your head was bleeding all over you, pouring down in thick red globs, running fast in places, bright red and shining. You were stumbling around, drunk from loss of blood. It was a bright wide open space, broad daylight downtown. A hotel lobby and business all around. Pieces of your head were on the wall, on carpet, in your mouth as you smiled and on your t-shirt, an old white one. Leaking down into the waistband of your jeans, making you warm and sticky, forming crusts of dark brown red in places. You were breaking your head against the wall, I could see, but had set that aside for a second.

There was something about the way you looked at me that made me see I was the only one who might try to save you. Thought you should be saved, knew you to be a thing of pain and beauty. Everyone else could only see the damage. You told me without talking that you were going to keep pounding. -after you’d looked over the lobby full of complacent citizens, people in professional clothes, preoccupied with being busy, moreso than with being people, confirmed that they were not good company, you would continue mashing the organ that holds you in it, pulp it out of thinking on it anymore. You told me deep inside of me that you would let me save you.

I was scared to take hold of you, not sure of where your wounds were, knowing you had been breaking pieces vicious for a time. I know that this has taken you over before, but not like this. You veered back to the wall and I grabbed your ribcage whole. Your legs gave in and I drew you into my arms- encircled you, pulling your poor head against my heart, willing it into mending with my hands.

With this I break myself against you.

Did I ever tell you that I dreamt this dream?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

good thursday

This play, Quilchena, is generating its own momentum. Affirmation that there is more at work on this than just little ole me.

First, an invitation by Cahoots Theatre Projects to apply with them to have me housed as their playwright-in-residence for 2007/2008. Wow. My first offer of this sort from a professional company. A company that is so well matched - what good fortune. Fingers crossed, lads.

Second, SummerWorks lets us in! Really? Oh, my. This will be an adventure. I already anticipate my greatest overall challenge will be keeping the play within the time limit. Best to focus on a logistical concern rather than... oh, it's my first directing work. It's the first one person show I am writing, and the story will affect the people who make up the community I come from... these are far bigger than me. Ultimately they will work out as they will. It's only for me to check in that I am moving from a place of good intention and toward furthering communications. (I'll repeat to myself as I rock back and forth under the kitchen table)

Am presently trying to figure whether a 2nd draft and workshop are achievable before I run out of province to get wrapped up in Thy Neighbour's Wife. I suppose if I've been looking for the nudge, the SummerWorks news is it. Is it unreasonable to ask people to come to a second reading already? I feel like I ought to be paying them, which means I should do. One ordinarily finds it challenging to get people to go to theatre for free- and that's only sitting in a darkened room watching people make-believe. Asking them to interact, engage and discuss... is that more or less?

Personally, I prefer inclusion, but my normal-o-meter has never been particularly functional.

This blog is really useful as a means of sorting through my foggy scramble-head to sift out the topic-specific stuff. Piece by piece, thoughts get clearer. I am ever more dependent upon the keyboard to stitch together my own coherence. I get the feeling this would be an oddly ironic final entry before the last tenuous shreds of my sanity finally go the way of the dodo.

"It all seems so clear to me now..." and I'm discovered by my landlady stripped naked and eating a skinned cat in the neighbour's bluebox. Christ.

Hey, isn't tomorrow his birthday?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Oh, yeah!

Every so often I am happy to discover that I have been wrong about something.

'Bout a year and a half ago, while in the midst of having a play of mine produced by a company that had an existing infrastructure and staff and an annual budget and all of that fancy stuff, I found myself battling disinterest in the form that my play was inhabiting. Not theatre itself, but naturalistic (in fact hyper-realistic in this case) theatre. I kept saying to my closest friends "I love the team on this, but I'm kinda over this play." While the story was still one that I cared a great deal for, and I was honoured to be working inside the nurturing environment of Native Earth, I was feeling uncomfortable with the structure of the play. I suspect, only now, that this was largely a product of fear.

As is my general custom, I prefer to criticize my present state harshly before anyone else can. It's safer and I don't ever have to be surprised by anyone's judgment because mine is already in full bloom. This keeps me in a near-constant state of discontent, which serves to keep me from getting lazy, but also makes for a lot of flagellation. All around it's a tiring thing to maintain and prevents me from gaining perspective of the motivations for my behaviour until well after the fact. Good to be aware of this, now to take steps to alter this pattern. Anyway... enough tangential blather.

Last night I saw the Company Theatre production of Tom Murphy's A Whistle in the Dark. My regret is that I was not early enough to sit front and centre. The show was, at times, uncomfortably intimate in the best possible way
(a phrase used by a friend of mine to describe his experience of sitting in the front row for my play, Dreary and Izzy). There was acting work going on that absolutely drew me in. It has become a rare thing to be able to shut out the noise of my life while experiencing storytelling of any form: plays, films, books.

This was the first I had ever seen of Joseph Ziegler's work, having avoided most things Soulpepper. Frankly the privileged white male dominated empire that is Soulpepper makes me feel like wretching. Too bad, cause Ziegler rocks the Casbah. Other reasons I might have missed this show: it's not a new work, it's not Canadian, it's all white, it's mostly male, it's at the Soulpepper space... more of my own baggage impeding the enjoyment of this rich life, I suppose. Good reasons to go include: it's Irish, it's from an emerging company, I have repeatedly been told to catch it by friends who know me well, there are reportedly good actors in it. The only one I already knew to be fantastic is Sarah Dodd.

Also outstanding were Allan Hawco (who I had never seen perform- holy shit he is a powderkeg in this play), Aaron Poole (who spent much of the play listening while vibrating and doing it with such commitment and in such a creepy/menacing way that he was utterly compelling), Richard Clarkin (who I'd seen do Uncle Scar umpteen times while I was living in an usher hell sponsored by Disney, but have never seen really live a character. So so fine. Thorough, full and layered.) and Dylan Roberts (whose character you just immediately adore and want to have over for lunch).

To sum up, realism has made a welcome return to my heart. Will I write more of it? likely not anytime soon. Will I see more of it? likely not, as it is so often executed so poorly. It ought to be the easiest thing- we live in reality for the most part, don't we? I was holding that as a truth for the past year and a half (that it's a simple thing to get right), but really I have so few examples of people getting it right. How blind we are to our own ordinary glory. How unobservant. Is that also borne of fear, or just laziness? Poor self-esteem as a race? Living half-numb?

Right, so... who else has done this well?

The Actor's Repertory Company with their Pinter this summer past. Siobhan Power had stellar moments in Rubenfeld's Spain. Am I forgetting something? Someone? OH! Caroline Cave in Tremblay's Past Perfect. Hm.

Actors. Falling in love with acting and actors again. Spring fever indeed.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

No hands!

late march and BAM spring. holy shit. this is it.
this is really it. do you see? i'm not imagining this.

this happens every year? are you serious?
this is outstanding. doesn't always feel this good.

sidewalks rising to meet my feet,
babies shouting out "HI" and doling out smiles.
lovebirds - ACTUAL lovebirds - riding in a buzzy wheelchair ahead.
old white haired men in barbershops, opining openly, sneaking little glances at the skirts strolling by.

adults on bikes, seven years old again.
seven year olds on bikes, proud chins guiding them far far far from those training wheels- never needed them anyway, not really.

and you, who taught yourself. cheeky boy. on your bike alone, falling and bouncing up.
working to that moment when they'd see you- riding fast and furious all at once.
Look At Him Go!- since when does he...? "holy shit" they'd whisper
and say again "look at him go".

faster than i can imagine.
gone. in the best possible way. dead gone. cheeky boy.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On your bike!

First public outing of the script tomorrow.

Okay. Holy shit. I am so nervous for this my fingers are blue at the tips. All of my blood feels like it's stuck in my heart, pounding about like kids runnng wild those first two minutes in a bin of bouncy balls. Funny thing is there are really very few people coming to the reading. Funnier still is that the whole point to this was trying out a development process I hadn't done before, and that is exactly why this is terrifying. Bit of a control freak with the work stuff. Okay, all stuff. To some extent. Fuck. But the point is that it is VERY VERY early to have people in. The point is that we get people in right frigging now so that the audience is always as key a component as the rest of it. Michaela talks to them the whole time- best to have bodies as soon as we can. I know all of this but my sense is disconnected from my swooning courage just now. Holy word.

Thanks, those who can attend tomorrow. So many of my Red Deer College comrades. What troopers we be. Some Fort Yorkies, thanks lads. True it was short notice. Barf, it feels like my birthday- will anyone even care...? And twisted that I'm making it so much about me. I am made up of who I know anyway. Used to have a friend who purported that individuality is just an illusion. That we are all one big beast anyway. This is in harmony with my belief system, and yet I let this kind of fear, self-doubt and insecurity eat my head. Fair play, I suppose. This same friend once poo pooed me when I wrote him advice that contained my version of his words, rephrased through my filters. Hid behind a wall of haughty condescension when the mirror he had loaned me was too much for him to look into. We are the same beast, I do the same.

Good things. Focus on strong points. Well... I have admired Mr. Hollingsworth's ability to serve the story before all else these past two months. Seeing him helm a rehearsal with the caliber of artists he works with is holy shit stupendous. I strive to be more like that. Story above all. I will focus on that to get my juvenile ego to take a time out.

Aw, but good christ, people are scary. Petrifying because of how beautiful, how desirable, how like and unlike me you all are.

I think of the first time I heard Thomas King speak live: it was at one of those Pages Books "This is Not A Reading Series" thingers at the Gladstone. Margaret Atwood was up there talking with him, provoking him, probing him. He admitted, right out to a roomful of adoring (and scary) strangers "I guess I just want to be loved." I felt less lonely with that. Less pathetic. There sat my hero, just as human and squishy as I am. I would never have guessed.

The turnover from partial draft to first outing has taken place over six days. I wish now that I had express-posted the draft to Monica's mom, Madeline. I know that it is the best way to honour her and her experience. I also know that it is she who will ultimately decide whether this play is deserving and so I want it to be in really good shape. The peak of this would be to bring it to her community, my mom's community, where my cousins and aunties live. She and I are working to get my arse out there to do a workshop series with a youth group she juggles. So blessed that a life goal is in the works to be realized. That it should be through collaboration with her is impossibly right. Recently she emailed me this...

"As for a play regarding Miss (Money) Monica I feel that it would be an honour and this would be good for our communities as well."

Still, she has yet to read the writing. I wish she could be with us in the room tomorrow.
Feels that's how it should be.

How to sleep before a day so big?

Ooo, if anyone knows a bike like this one, please let me know. We need it for the show.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Question of Balance

*This post was altered out of respect for a friend.

A big challenge in writing this play and in deciding to go ahead with blogging about it has been this: how to get people to resist the urge to read the stuff a murderer has already posted on the net?

I do not want to bring more attention to the man who perpetrated such deeds, but I know that I would be looking into it and liable to read what he'd posted had I come to hear about his postings through this venue. Part of me wants people to assign her end to his hand, since the courts never did. Most of me wants to cleanse her name of the sensationalized association with a serial killer. Any suggestions?

How do we disappear the enormous white elephant clogging up the room? I don't even want him ignored, I want him to fall away, impotent and powerless as one spending life in the prison system is meant to do. Our society is supposed to be lessening the power given to him and his crimes. There were two people present when Monica died, and he was one of them. How do we seize that from his hands and put it back into hers, when she is not here with us? We use our hands, I know. Hold onto it for her in whatever way we can.

If you're at all in tune to this thing my roomate has gone mad over- the Secret- (worst title ever) then you know that the laws of attraction work against me by thinking on this at all. I've seen the magic Michaela has worked through this laws of attractions thing. It ain't magic. It's goddamn science. Hard to argue with it when you see results leaping into her boat like so many smiling and suicidal trouts. Of course this line of thinking has been around well before the product version of it ever was... like anything that works, it has always been known in some way.


Can I ask you not to read the posting from that other source? It's way outdated anyway. Or do I direct you to it, get it out of the way, and move on? Same deal for the show- how do I field questions about the whodunnit? How much fact do I include? It's all out there anyway, reported vaguely in papers. The girl in this case was never a headline, though some of the others were. (in this moment I struggle with noting that it was the murder of white children that got authorities moving to nail this criminal- is that a point? does this cloud my handling of this whole thing? ahhhhh!!!!!)

I am toying with the idea of including a sort of playwright voice in the script. As it is, Michaela will be addressing the audience directly in character. I may try having her switch out of character and speak as herself to the house proper, noting just such things. Does this diffuse the dramatic power of the story?- a true story of which little is known?

The final moments of [the former play's subject's] life happened without impartial witness, save for the life in the natural world where she exhaled her last air. The Creator being in all things, I cannot discount the land she came from as having been there, cradling her as she crossed over. I have a deep desire to go to the Nicola Valley for months and just sift through the soil there, passing it over me like smudge, lick the bark of the trees, chew on pine needles and drink only river water, in an attempt to absorb what the countryside knows of those moments. To make sure I don't misstep.

I will ask you not to type the name of the other person who was there when one girl died. Not here, please. If anyone feels moved to comment on this journey, I should be honoured. I do ask you to keep that one name from this space.

Think only of the good names. [omitted] Pauline, my mom, who connected me with [omitted]. Michaela, the courageous creature of hulking talent who will enact this play, Andy Moro who will ply his considerable understanding of theatrical storytelling to the design our show. And [omitted.] [Omitted. Omitted. Omitted.]

[Omitted.] Auntie, daughter, cousin, neighbour, niece, granddaughter, friend. Not a saint. Not any one thing. A fully realized twelve year old girl.

a girl

*This post was altered out of respect for a friend.

There was a girl who went missing from a community that neighbours my mom's, way back in the 1970s. Whenever I'd go there in summertime, as a kid, I'd see this picture of a beautiful teenager who I assumed had an enormous extended family. Everyone had her photo in their home. It never seemed odd that everyone knew her, but one day it did strike me as strange that I had never met her. She had that vibe of a teenager who'd be your favourite babysitter, hands down. When I was about nine or ten I finally asked after her.

My mom told me the girl's name.  "She went missing when she was only twelve, almost thirteen. She  just never came home."
I was utterly haunted by the thought of this vibrant glowing girl, out there somewhere, never having returned to her mom. I didn't ask anything more, it seemed too awful.

In 199#, without having to ask, I learned a little more about her. My mom asked me whether I remembered her- I did, though she was vividly present in my head as someone who would never be known to me. The news was that they had found her. Her bones had been identified, stumbled upon by forestry workers up on a Mountain, not far from her home.

There were whispers of a serial killer whose name I had heard. A man who was already, mercifully, in jail. In one day this mystery of seventeen years became the story of a girl who was snatched up and killed by a man who was somehow missing that piece of us that makes us human. That wisp of awareness that helps us to feel that we are all one creature working toward the same thing, no matter how seldom we get along.

Last year, at the age of thirty, I found that very girl was frequently in my thoughts. A quick and rare venture into math made me realize she would have been thirty the day her family had solid news of her in 199#. Had she lived, she would be her version of a thirty year old. Nobody would ever know what that might have been. I felt pissed off and that usually makes me anxious to take action. I rang my ma and asked after her again. My mom had a smattering of small facts, some thirdhand, fourthhand ponderings about her life and abrupt death. I wondered whether I could earn permission from her mom to write of her, having penned a few plays up till now. After we hung up, my mom tracked down the girl's mom. She spoke with my mom and they realized they were second cousins, sharing a great auntie. After a short catch-up session, the woman gave me permission to write of her daughter, via my mother.

Serendipity. Blood memory. The Creator calling the creative to work on what matters... Whatever it was, it had arrived. As of two days ago, the play has been born. A first draft will be read this Monday the 26th.

This entry, the outing of this blog, and primarily the development of this play is my way of celebrating a girl and the community that has treasured her memory. I will continue to write of the process and the play will become a full story, both factual and fictionalized. This is not merely a girl who went missing. She was a girl who loved to babysit. She had an astounding smile, a remarkable laugh and she had been given a brand new bike for her birthday, which was only thirteen days away when she left us.

She was failed by a system, untraceable for seventeen years- how can that be? Her murderer will likely never be charged with her death. He may be serving multiple life sentences now, anyway. I think that's supposed to be enough somehow. I remind myself not to give any energy to him, as he has already taken enough. I wish to avert her connection to him by informing myself and the listening world about the girl she was in life.

This girl grew up to be a radiant twelve year old girl in the Nicola Valley in British Columbia, Canada. Her mom was a [career title] and her sister still lives nearby with her [#] children. They like to go fishing and someday they will attend a play about their Auntie*.

[The play was booked to play in the area, but the family decided they would prefer not to have it do so. Myself, the creative team, Native Earth and my cousin Sharon (who paid to bring us out) altered out plans in order to serve the wishes of the girl's mom. We adhere to the belief that this is the right thing to do. Speak out. Be brave. Report anything you know. Please.]

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Perfect Because...

I am pining for you a little bit,
I hope that that's okay.
I am in love with you a little bit,
well- in love in my own way.
Of course it is worth noting there's
a safety in all this...
There's a freedom in not having you,
in not knowing what to miss.
To know that I won't pull you to me,
Naked and spent in bed.
To imagine all the things we'd do,
but only in my head.
There's a goodness there that comforts me,
in spite of all this craving.
There's a perfection in not doing it,
unspoiled fantasy in this behaving.
Nothing broken, nothing lost, no
fucked up heart.
This heartbreak already over because
it never got to start.
So I'll hang onto that- and pull
that close to me
And try not to think of how it could
have worked out differently

how I might have had
more time with you

beautiful soul
more time with you...
i'd fall.

Friday, January 26, 2007

WIDE 'a' wake

Not. Sleeping.

-whatcha doing?
-not sleeping.
-no, but... kay, but what are you doing?
-sitting here, numb with knowing i am just not asleep. ts'almost 4 am.
-lay down.
-tried that. just did what i'm doing here, but felt even more aware of it.
-so, instead you're typing to yourself?
-you never pretended at not being crazy.
-true dat.

oh, susanna. with a banjo on my knee.

-possibly it's spelled "suzanna".
-hm. i guess.
-the first nations population in the americas was decimated by as much as 93% as a result of imported disease.
-yeah, you read that last week.

-the heating in this house sounds like indigestion.
-maybe it's more serious.
-yeah. could be smallpox.
- does that make you tired?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

a present for you while you're sleeping

talk me out of it, do. i don't want me wanting you anymore than you do. so do that thing, that hiding away in your ugliest you- i encourage you to.

be cool and detached, say you hate me. come to me and then curse at my kindness. take my soft invitations and make them grow sharp- guard your injurious, treacherous heart.

clear from your head the time that we've had, and PLEASE while you're at it, clear mine. i don't know how to do that, but you're practised and mean. so take it and scour it clean.

but stay far from my sight i can't turn from your face. keep a distance, disappear, i will not ignore you. cease to be, my lost friend- because i refuse to pretend i don't love you.

Monday, January 8, 2007

ancestor plate

for this quick prayer i will wear your uncle's coat, your grandpa's rubber boots- easy to slip on, here at the back door. you toddle up with a finger pointed at your two year old belly- "me?"

your little paw offers up a cookie crumb- dessert before turkey- a treat to tide you over. dinner is coming late today. and so a piece of shortbread (we made those yesterday) makes it onto the plate i am holding. a plate for those who are not here with us, but who have made us who we are.

"i'm going outside, did you want to come?"

"yes." and with that you are gone andback again, your six inch sorrels rushed into the kitchen, awaiting your two year old feet.

"coat?" and you're pointing to the hooks.

"i'll carry you, my love. up!" held close inside the lining of this soft wool coat, held close against my heart. warm with all this new year's feast we wander through the yard.

your grandpa's big unbending boots slow my slippy step, make us hold each other stronger. warmly.

"it's slippy on this path. so warm today and now all frozen back over."

"yeah." you point up to the sky. clear night.

"this plate is for our grandmas and our grandpas. our ancestors. ancestors means our family who don't live here with us now."

"yeah!" you nod one time and we giggle in the snow.

the tree stands in the garden. a bird house sits inside, a smaller version of the house we live in. and you a smaller version of who you'll be.

"this food is for a thank-you. and an open door into our lives for all of our blood. everyone we love, even those we never met." your shining eyes tell me i am speaking for myself. you know, little man. you simply do. "will you say thank-you with me, owen?"


"good. can you say gookschem?"

"gookschem" is perfect in your mouth. and with shining eyes on both of us, i take you back inside.