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Monthly Archives: April 2016

IMG_9273You haven’t changed. I’ve heard that twice so far this year. A couple months back a family friend from the island was visiting and handed me this thick manila folder. She said it contained my school projects from grade three. She had borrowed it from mom for inspiration programing her own grade three curriculum. She said I had to revisit it because –You haven’t changed. Flipping through it my brother and I laughed our asses off. I planned to share it on Instagram but felt some of the pictures needed longer commenting than I care to type on tiny iPod keys. Then I forgot about it.

The other day a beautiful silver haired woman was buying a few books. She looked up at me and asked ‘Lysette?’ I brightened, as anyone would when they hear their name and especially for me, when it’s pronounced correctly.

‘I thought it was you… you surely don’t remember me. It’s Ms. Xxxx. Your kindergarten teacher.’ Her face sparkled ‘My – You haven’t changed.

She asked what I had been doing all these years. I gave her a very condensed run on life sentence ‘I’m a stage manager for a rural outdoor theatre company but it’s not full time so I worked as a carpenter for six years between contracts but I am taking a break from that and helping out here with the family, for now… if I lived in the city I would likely do theatre full time but for right now, living here, it’s good.’

She left with her books and my parents, who were both in the shop in other rooms thought it was rather strange the five year old me is recognizable. I joked with a friend recently that I am often mistaken for being ten years younger – though I never know if that’s a compliment or an insult but to be recognized thirty years later seems like a stretch.

IMG_8686At this point our shop was split into two stores on different streets in town. One called Books ‘n Things and the other FTF Books. When we amalgamated into one space it simply became The Book Shop, though our business license is still FTF. It’s nice that I still feel this grateful for my family. The best part is the accompanying story about Jonathan (no idea who I was referring to) cutting his foot and acknowledging the day wasn’t going well.

IMG_8683 Truth. Life is nice and mean.

IMG_8670How do I even unpack this one but let’s just skip to K. I’m not sure if ‘killer’ was already slang in the 80’s for being something cool, or if I literally identified with violence but seeing as I chose V for violent… by grade three I was already  invested in anything macabre; monsters and horror movies. Singer is mysterious. I don’t sing. I dropped out of choir in theatre school as soon as it wasn’t mandatory. Weird and X-rated are probably still two of my favorite words. Interested (rather than interesting) and Terrific Trier are astute personal observations. Obedient is the biggest lie on this page.

IMG_8676‘Hates me’ I love that. Sad that at this age I was already aware of my otherness to my peers but I didn’t fit in with my so called friends.They were a bunch of prissy middle class assholes. The movie Heathers resonated with my elementary school experience more than high school. I love the lower left drawing of the doctor making a mistake that causes organs to fly out of the patients body. I think the picture above it is of dad (hahaha the comb over) with a big wooden spoon. My brother and I remember if we were being brats and dad got fed up with us, he would pick up a mixing spoon and chase us but never hit nor catch us. We would scream and run around the couch with a mixture of fear and exhilaration until we collapsed from exhaustion and would finally go to bed.

IMG_8672It’s cut off but the part at the top is about if I had an owl I wouldn’t get picked on. Aside from my shitty friends there was a pack of older boys that would follow me around at recess and tease me. In retrospect I think it was because they liked me but I thought it meant there was something terribly wrong with me. In my opinion introverts really suffer when attention is drawn to them. When it happens, I want the earth to open up and swallow me. I wonder if I meant ‘through’ (obviously misspelled ‘throw’) as in to toss a mouse into the air for the owl to eat, or regurgitate it? Could have been either, or.

Our dog Jack must have run off into the orchards. He would disappear for brief periods of time but always came back. Years later I watched him die of lung cancer when he was twelve likely from the pesticides sprayed in the orchards. Jack was one of the best. A huge blue heeler cross. He had the body of a wolf with heeler markings. He was probably crossed with a German shepherd.

IMG_8684 (19)Robotec. Amazing. When I read ‘I love Evil!!’ I was like – Uh, I guess? Then realized I was talking about the massive crush I had on Evil Ed; Brewster’s best friend in the horror movie Fright Night. The scene where the vampire (Chris Sarandon one of the suavest vampires in cinema) corners Evil Ed in the alley and tells him ‘They won’t pick on you anymore… I’ll see to that’ before turning him into a werewolf. I watched Fright Night over and over, identifying with that and thinking – Ed, I accept you and we could be best friends. I remember my infatuation, in part because he turns into a werewolf, it seems a bit much for a six year old but it was probably less romantic and more about friendship. Next best part ‘Lunch! Lunch!’ and that hockey games usually don’t air until the evening. The passage of time with which my sister would stay in bed. Living around orchards we always had barn cats, at least three at anytime coming and going. One was named ‘Pussy’ and no parent should ever let their kids call a cat ‘Pussy’. Ever.

IMG_8678Dad has always had very liberal views on censorship but did draw a line at us perusing the extensive nudie mag section in the bookshop. We did it anyway. Since the internet has decimated the adult magazine industry, our restricted section houses vintage mags and true smutty smut smut but mostly erotic art and photography books.

IMG_8680Alley. Flood. Ghastly blood.

IMG_8674 Being blind eyes closed.  My favorite part is the bleeding tree.

IMG_9272The assignment was to write a letter to a fairy tale character. Always sympathizing with the wolves, my letter was to the Big Bad Wolf wishing him luck on his future endeavors.

IMG_8689The cover of my koala report. I love his little arms. I did hold a very drugged out koala in Australia once. It’s claws and weight cut through my skin. I don’t think they let people do that now, or at least I hope they don’t sedate the koalas anymore.

IMG_8687And finally randomly on the back of a page in no relation to anything else. This was my brother’s favorite of the bunch. I am positive this guy if from an early 80’s movie but I can’t figure out what. I’m going to wake up in the middle of the night and holler a title into the air and when I do, I will do a single post on that name. There are so many more but I’m stopping here. It is somewhat comforting to look back and see I had a pretty clear idea of what I was into (and am still into) at such a young age. My blood family, dogs, books, horror, gore, wolves and companionship. My perception of the world as absurd was honing itself too.

IMG_9023My youngest sister is getting married this summer and I’ll be out of town on contract. The brutal thing about professional theatre is once that contract is signed you do not take time off. We produce a show in four weeks or less; there is no idle time and everyone is indispensable. But it’s my little sisters wedding! Without a car this summer and a really shitty bus schedule from a remote outpost I was trying to figure out how to get to her wedding and miss as little rehearsal (actually tech. Seriously Dana, this couldn’t be a worse day for me) as possible. The simplest thing to do would be to hitch hike. Dust off a thumb that has logged a lot of time on the road.

Growing up in this valley where I live there’s a town, however small, every 10 to 15 minutes by car. Before my friends and I could drive we got comfortable sticking out our thumbs and climbing into the back of orchardist trucks to go see bands or hang out in the park with kids from other towns. As my confidence grew I could hitch hike in 5 hours or less to the city and sleep on roof tops with new found friends and hitch home over the weekend.

I’d get picked up by other hitch hikers -road karma- or the occasional person that would confess to me it’s something they never do but were doing it cause I was a young woman. I could tell they at least got a thrill out of it. A lot of the time it was just old tradesmen on the road, bored and looking for conversation; occasionally curious about what else but maybe my naivety always saved me from further propositions… in reality just dumb luck.*

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 I trusted my gut instinct to refuse rides. I’d try to find a way to be nice about not getting in the car making up a lie about where I was going. It often resulted in the guy spinning out and spewing gravel all over me while shouting profanities. I’d congratulate myself on clearly a good decision.

One time that didn’t happen. We were 15 years old, my friend and I were in a town about 40 minutes south of home. A car pulled over on the outskirts and she hopped in before I could access the ride. Two guys with huge grins asked if I was getting in. My guts screamed Pull Sara the fuck out of the car but I was tired, it was cold out and late. I got in. The driver kept smiling and saying ‘You like to party?’ Sara was in the front seat falling asleep, head bobbling and mumbling ‘Yeah… sure… I like to party.’  I was in the back seat panicking I have got to take control of this!

He started talking about getting drinks. I finally I spoke up ‘Our night is over. We just want to go home. No partying.’ The smiling stopped. I affirmed this several more times. He pulled over on the pitch dark highway and said ‘Get out.’ Headlights came up behind and blinded us as we climbed out. Two cars full of guys pulled up and that’s when I realized how grim of a situation we were in but gathered all of my will that this was not going to f-u-ck-ing happen.

There was confusion as the other guys thought we were just swapping cars. Sara and I started  yelling at them to leave us alone. They peeled out and a couple minutes later came back menacing at us. As if being left in the gloom we’d change our minds but we just screamed more. They scowled, called us bitches and drove off. We wailed into the black night; the stars and darkness.

I figured it would take us about four hours to walk home which was fine but what if they came back? We were walled in by mountains, barbwire fencing and ranch land. The road was the only route home.

A tow truck driver pulled over and offered us a ride. His face was kind. He was freaked out that we were walking the highway at midnight. We told him what happened. He had daughters on the cusp of being teenagers and asked us to promise we would never to hitch hike again.

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This seems to be the only picture I have of us actually hitch hiking. After a brief stint living in the prairies in the late 90’s  Joslin (left), Amanda (right) and I  were getting the fuck out of there and heading home, across the boarder into the mountains. I think Amanda was singing a Misfits song to her bag of jujubes. We were picked up by two guys in a jeep. With no room for our bags, they piled them on top of me and Joslin in the back seat. Our bodies were so tightly wedged we had to hang our heads out the back, faces up to the stars, laughing hysterically how we couldn’t hear or feel anything. The wind tangling our hair together. Our legs fallen asleep.

I spent two & half months hitching around New Zealand. Everyone that picked me up was great. It was summer; people were laid back, curious and friendly. I headed to Australia to visit family for eight months. Australia is similar to the rest of Canada in that the cities are hours and hours apart with little else in between. I flew into Sydney to stay friends in Newtown. I figured I’d just hitch my way down to Melbourne and around Victoria. My friends in Sydney were aghast at my plan. This was shortly after the hitchhiker serial killer Ivan Milat had been convicted, who inspired the horror movie Wolf Creek. Friends and relatives alike said ‘We will buy you plane/train/bus tickets – no one hitch hikes anymore.’ I reluctantly conceded.

I landed back in BC where Highway 16; cruelly known as the Highway of Tears, started getting more press ** Then Robert Picton’s farm was exhumed. I hitched home that Christmas from the city through a snow storm on a desolate road. I was picked up by a trucker who half way through the five hour journey pulled a switch blade to my throat while he was driving. I stayed calm, partially due to shock but also because I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of inciting fear. It called his bluff. As fast and incomprehensibly as it had happened, he laughed and handed me the knife to look at. Switch blades are contraband in Canada. He thought it would impress me. He was fucked in the head but ended up being nonthreatening once the scales were balanced. The rest of the ride I did grip the door handle staring at the winter wasteland wondering when I would jump, yet acknowledging we hadn’t passed another vehicle in miles. It was a white out on top of the mountain. No one was on the road.

This was the last time I hitch hiked. I settled into a routine going back and forth from the rural theatre to the city then relocating in my home town because was closer to the theatre and had the bonus of the family bookshop for the off season. Although I immediately decided I wanted to do carpentry during the off season which required a reliable vehicle for getting to remote job sites at dawn. The privilege of my own car, catching rides with friends or grappling with the awful bus service has kept me from needing to hitch. Thinking through this wedding quandary I found myself nostalgic and convinced it would be the cleanest solution for getting to her wedding in time.

 

That is until I recently watched Joseph Ellison creepy 1980 slasher Don’t Go in the House where the Psycho like killer finds women in need of a lift and takes them back to his mother’s house under the guise ‘It will only take a minute won’t you come in?’ Watching this eerie flick alone, obliterated any romantic notions of the autonomous freedom I had of being on the road.

Don’t Go in the House affirmed if I can avoid it, there will be no more hitch hiking in my future.

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*A further rant on my dumb luck ** Despite reasonable assumptions that there were/are several serial killers active over a forty year period along The Highway of Tears; the reason Highway 16 received prominent national press was because a Caucasian tree planter had disappeared. I cannot ignore the likelihood that my, for the most part nonthreatening, experiences hitchhiking had a lot to do with the fact that I am blond and white. I have to acknowledge there was more than ‘my dumb luck’ at play that I can sit here and reminisce my hitch hiking days.