Donnerstag, 31. März 2011

So It Looks Like I Have A New Professor...Named GENE YANG

So I don't know if our regular readers recall a few months back when I blogged about cartoonist and American Born Chinese creator Gene Yang coming to my graduate program at Hamline University and pretty much blowing everyone away with his presentation on comics and sequential narrative. It turns out the esteemed Mr. Yang impressed the Dean at school so much that she's turned right around and hired him on as a professor in my program – an MFA in Writing For Children.

This is kind of crazy to me. To be perfectly honest, one of the motivating factors for me getting into the Hamline program was to finally get something on my professional resume that DIDN'T involve comics. Still, I'm never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, particularly one that gives me the opportunity to study with a creator with chops like Gene's. This is a very small world sometimes.

In any event...welcome to Hamline, Gene! Prepare yourself for the blistering cold of the Twin Cities for ten days out of the year!

Leo Zarosinski covers Hellboy: Seed of Destruction

Original cover by Mike Mignola; Dark Horse 1994. Leo Zarosinski's website is here.

Beth leaves ER and the Hospital: 'make her comfortable'

My heart, keeping me out of commission since Monday had me going to the ER this morning, then not (ending up in the ER anyway) and after seven hours back home to recover.

My heart woke me up this morning, as it shook my body awake, like a plush toy in dogs mouth. That is how it has been, and growing worse in the three weeks since I was last in ER. And I learned some important things but also, looking back, I have found that the other side of Alice’s looking glass is also a looking glass: I worked hard and long to document and bring the evidence of the problems in hopes of having them solve them. Now I realize that instead of that happening, there is a language of code words and questions half answered or pretended not to be heard which create another barrier.

The difference between you and I; the difference between me of a year ago and now is that a year ago, I was trying to get people to take the disease A.A.N. seriously, which I believed would lead to treatment. The difference now is that the ER doctors, the EMT’s, the GP’s, the specialist DO take the disease seriously, which is why they have a hard time looking at me or talking to me.

I am going through the paper-pushing of dying, when I don’t have that ability. I was email the representation agreement (which is required in Victoria, even if you have a Power of Attorney agreement, in order for Linda to make medical decisions). It was because this was not yet signed that I did not have task 2’s, which were taken away because I had night workers so Linda could sleep and Beacon didn’t want them. Now, due to the amount of medication, and the high levels of drugs, opiates, and actions, Beacon wasn’t going to do ANYTHING until we had a representation agreement. We went to the University law clinic and got that started. Then the RN saw me, talked to me, or talked for a bit, then decided she really didn’t want to talk with me at all, and I haven’t seen her since. And the Task 2’s, which HAD to be signed and such in person…we are notified by phone they are approved.

I’m scary. This is because people my age in my condition aren’t around for long. So they are waiting for me to die.

The GP is putting me into the pallative society, and talks with Linda about the ways, the three ways in which deal is likely to occur. The start of these ‘death scenerios’ occur regularly in everyday life. They are about as abstract as ‘Beth will pick up a book, then Beth with start reading.’ Only have, ‘Beth with start with heart autonomic failure which will be followed, likely due to the strain on a weakened system by other systems in a cascade of autonomic failure which leads to death, perhaps from toxicity from liver or kidney failure, or suffocation due to lung failure.’

This morning, my abdomin was rigid, an internal organ was outline pushing through my back, and my heart was not functioning to the level I could not sleep. I decide to go to ER. I decide not to, as I have my support meeting, the other walking and talking dead people.

I go to the support group, first time in three months – only, on months with five Wednesdays, they don’t meet on the last one. It is an empty room, but I chat with a society member. Left alone, I have heart pains, lose consciousness due to overheating and wake, disoriented on the floor. It is some time until I am found.

In the US there are usually EMT’s and EMT-medics, known as the ‘driver’ and the ‘medic’. The paramedics who come to pick me up are a special group called Paramedic Specialist, which are two heart and lung specialist medics who take calls involving heart problems. They have high training skills and put in a line while I am on the floor, better than in the hospital. I think due to the senior citizen, the need for this unit exists, as they take only heart, passing out and heart related problems. They have a monitor on the fly and can see that my ventricles, the two bottom chambers are not working, and yet, enough of a flow is passing through them to keep me conscious. They know about POTS, and they know about progressive central autonomic failure to ‘get it’. They can see that the erratic are causing changes in my breathing due to the pain. The pain is only like you get if you have PAT’s or an AV node or even if you drink WAY too much caffinee as a student and your heart makes that funny feeling (that’s like a flutter), or if you have a goat kick you in the chest (that is a counter AV node beat), or a ‘ug’ which makes you feel like your blood should be flowing and is stuck, and then it goes away. Those are a ‘single’ heart erratic. I used to have 40-80 erratic in a day when they started the heart medicine.

Now I have, during an hour, 300-500 erratics, which I work through, or try to ignore, until they get so bad I pass out, or are too painful to endure, in which case I just lie there as they make my shoulder and breast jump while I gasp for air. That means, 3000-6000 erratic heart beats of different kinds each day.

S, one of the Paramedics was talking to G, explaining about POTS, and also how they had seen someone with a heart like mine. They transported him this morning and he might be going to get a risky operation behind his heart to eliminate the electrical failure. ‘It is not a heart, or beats we see in someone your age (more like double).’ I wanted to know about D, the operation guy. Was it going to cure him?

“No,” S, the senior para finally answers, “It won’t stop the progression.”

‘The progression’, is like, ‘Quality of life’, or ‘no need to worry about coming in anymore’ – it means, no, he is fucked and like you will die, but maybe without as much pain. That is confirmed when they ask if there is anywhere that ‘I’ know might help.

I am in the hallway talking to S. A guy is wheeled by and looking in pain, followed by three police officers. I can hear him being questioned about what drugs he has taken today other than pot.

S. and I are talking about my problem with low blood pressure and if there is an external way to shrink the veins. He can’t think of any, except, as I remember, cocaine. But that has problems too. The guy in the room and the Police don’t realize that later I will be given to take home more drugs than that guy took today. Because that is ‘my’ deemed medical solution.

One advantage of being T, (terminal) is you get to talk about taking cocaine around police officers and no one thinks it is a problem.

The good news is that, one test deemed that the erratics over the last two weeks have NOT structurally damaged my heart. Linda had called the general reception and found that to get quick tests, push for the tests you want, and say them over and over again. We wanted to know if structural damage was occurring, and if I had a Bladder UTI I could not feel.

I gave blood. Linda said I screamed for over a minute, without taking in a breath. I guess that music training paid off: go breath control. All I remember is the pain and purple, and then going funny and almost passing out as he had this huge syringe of musky dark blood, with silt and a layer of clear atop, putting the syringe into the various vials for testing. That and the needle sticking out of my arm, the the line to match was a bit much.

The answer? If I had cancer stage 4 and it was affecting my heart, they would say, ‘You don’t need to come in anymore. The pain is not due to structural damage.” (to heart people and ER people almost all ‘pain’ in the heart is ‘structural’ while the PAT’s and such are merely ‘interpreted as pain by the body, lungs and brain’. So they would say that I need higher doses of pain medication and concentrate on that. Because late stage cancer causes central autonomic failure and there isn’t anything they can do, but give you the lollipop.

And that’s pretty much it. I asked the heart specialist paramedics, I asked the RN’s, the woman who I said, ‘oh, start recording now, here comes a bunch’ and who was the only person to clean up the ‘medical litter’ left on me. No, they had never seen a heart like it, not in thousands or tens of thousands of ER patients.

I didn’t have a UTI, and no current structure problems so I got a Fentynal patch slapped on me, next to the one already there. “How long has it been since it was increased?” The doctor, who was good, knowledgeable and trustworthy asked.

Linda thought it had been two weeks, maybe heading towards three. “Okay, good enough.”

I tried to talk to him about this steady progression up the Fentynal ladder (since what he ‘added’ was more than twice what I started on with Fentynal), as with the expectation I would tak this or soon more during the day, there was going to be a limit reached of the maximum amount of patches soon enough.

“That’s why Fentyrnal was made,” he said, “To take care of pain.” Then he moved onto increasing the opiates for when I sleep, so that the pain doesn’t wake me up.

When people give you morphine so you can talk to them, or give you some Fentynal to cover you until you see your GP in a few days, that means you are needing to ‘be made comfortable’. No big tests to run, no looking out for side issues, just ‘more pain, cover it up’ I don’t have to go to ER because I am in pain due to dying, not because I am someone they can help from dying.

“Except you are still here,” one person said. Yes, I am still here, can still get tartar problems due to tooth brushing, and still need to stabilize all functions possible, but those I can’t, just cover them over, like Wilkie Collins, with vase quantities of laudanum.

Off to sleep now, and adjust to the new pain meds. Neither I or Linda had counted the heart pain from erratics in the pain medication for day or sleeping because, well, it was supposed to get fixed right? Except now it is too far to fix, and there are no nodes to burn out, and no failing of the heart to beat, which could use a pace-maker, just pain, and autonomic failure. It was a very tiring day.

Mittwoch, 30. März 2011

The Many Loves of The Human Torch

Two months removed from the death of The Human Torch and a month and a half after Valentine’s Day, I’m riding the zeitgeist as I always do and writing a post about Johnny Storm’s various girlfriends and shape shifting alien wives.

Many good super hero comics have a strong soap opera element. From the Superman-Lois Lane-Clark Kent triangle to the Melrose Place-like shenanigans of the early 90’s X-Men, love and lust between these attractive folks in spandex can be as crucial to keeping things fresh and building an acclaimed run as your central mystery or monthly action scene.

As with many things, 60’s Marvel pioneered a lot of the soapier elements in comics—or to be fair polished them up, since the aforementioned Superman stuff was going before and the Legion of Super-Heroes had to have been at least holding hands and trading flight rings—with Peter Parker’s pursuit of Betty Brant in Amazing Spider-Man, Bruce Banner’s Quasimodo-like yearning for Betty Ross in Incredible Hulk, the shy courtship between Cyclops and Marvel Girl and so on. But nowhere was the interpersonal as important as Fantastic Four.

The personal dynamic amongst the FF has always been at the forefront of their stories, just as much as their villains or the wild locations they visit. However, it’s not like any other super team because it’s not a group of peers hanging out and waiting to couple off, it’s a family; to go back to my favorite analogy-generator already used once in this very post, if the other teams are Melrose Place, Fantastic Four is The Waltons. Romance played a role, but paternal, fraternal, maternal and whatever means the sister version (saternal?) bonds came first.

Reed and Sue Richards are the longstanding royal couple of the Marvel Universe; they’re Billy and Alison if things had worked out (three Melrose Place references in five paragraphs—I’m rolling!). Theirs is a mature and sweet but ultimately kinda boring love. And The Thing is an awesome character, one of the best, but part of his whole deal is that no girl is ever going to get with him unless she’s blind and has a kink for clay already established.

Which leaves us—or left us—with The Torch.

For 50 years, Johnny Storm had to shoulder the burden of being the single guy bringing any and all romantic intrigue to Fantastic Four (because Sue was never really going to swim off with Namor). He played every role from love struck teenager to swarthy playboy to even over-his-head newlywed. Every time a new creative team came onboard or a direction shift was made, invariably, Johnny got a new girlfriend—and what a group.

Let’s talk about a few.

The Human Torch’s mostly anonymous teenage girlfriend who came more or less pre-packaged with the series and then stuck around predominantly off-camera for the first 50 issues or so. For real, the best ever appearance of Dorrie Evans is Amazing Spider-Man #21, in which she has more lines then every issue of FF she showed up in combined—and is named Doris for some reason—and spends the story trying to use bookish Peter Parker to make Johnny jealous but also kinda falls for him (as I recall). It’s the most personality Dorrie ever displayed, much of it the usual Silver Age girlfriend “make the hero jealous” routine, but she also came across as kind of sweet at time and perhaps would have been perfect for Peter. I also love that when Stan Lee had to name his young male lead’s love interest he went with “Dorrie”—was that name more common in the 60’s?

I would hope at this point my loathing for Crystal is well-known or I’m really not doing my job here. She is in all likelihood my least favorite comic book character ever, with only Sardath giving her a run for her money—and that idiot got taken out again in the new issue of R.E.B.E.L.S.! But I digress. That aside, the Romeo & Juliet romance of The Torch and Crystal is one of the classics and even I kinda dig it. The funny thing is, finally having recently gotten around to reading the original stories in Masterworks form recently, the whole thing comes out of nowhere entirely; one issue Johnny is sort of pining after Crystal’s older sister Medusa (and maybe still dating Dorrie?), then the next he’s madly in love with Crystal—and likewise—and then the next they’ve got an unbreakable barrier between them and it’s heartbreaking. It’s one of those stories that are really great and emotional as long as you just look the other way on its origins and how quickly the dial got turned up to 11, but that’s the simultaneous beauty and absurdity of Silver Age comics. Of course Crystal broke Johnny’s heart because she’s an awful, awful shrew, but it was nice while it lasted.

I’ve got a weird soft spot for Frankie Raye, despite the fact she co-opted the Nova codename for a couple decades. Her back story is nutty—she’s the stepdaughter of the guy who created the original Human Torch, got fire powers from a lab accident, and then was given amnesia, an invisible golden swimsuit that blocked her abilities and subtle pyrophobia by her stepdad via hypnosis—and she was actually a bit out of Johnny’s league and didn’t seem to realize it. More than that, though, I love the John Byrne story where she more or less became Galactus’ willing herald because it would save Earth but also because she just thought it would be fun to see outer space; she again broke Johnny’s heart, but doing so by getting cosmic powers from an immortal planet eating space god is a pretty clever and unique breakup strategy.

Midway through his awesome FF run, with The Thing out of the picture, John Byrne decided to experiment with mixing things up a bit and not only moved She-Hulk in as a new member of the team, but also hooked up Johnny with Ben’s longtime love interest, Alicia Masters. I was initially intrigued by the pairing, but ultimately, like I believe most fans, didn’t think it worked. A lot of interesting but somewhat ham-fisted of Johnny noticing that Alicia is actually somewhat close to his age and stuff. After Byrne left, Roger Stern ended up marrying the couple, which really didn’t seem to work, as it altered the dynamic I talked about at the beginning of this post and took Johnny out of play as the FF’s single guy. Eventually the folks working on the book came to see it was an odd fit as well—though not for awhile—which brings us to…

…it wasn’t Alicia after all, it was a Skrull! Lyja had a lot of potential as a character and as a love interest for Johnny, but I don’t think she or their relationship ever really got a fair shake since she was created as a solution for a situation rather than a new idea. Her alienation from her own race and the way she somewhat put her warrior nature in check because of how much she cared for Johnny and on the flipside his having to work through such ultimate betrayal as getting married under totally false circumstances but realizing he did love this woman is all good story fodder, but the whole thing came along at an unstable time for the book and the characters, so it never came to fruition as it may have during another period. I did like Lyja’s brief return during Secret Invasion, as she deserved to tell off Johnny for forgetting about her, but I also like that they still couldn’t quite resist one another.

The Nova-Namorita fan in me of course despises this pairing, but aside from that, I kind of love it. It’s so perfect on so many gimmicky levels: the mini-Namor/Sue thing, the fire/water thing, that they’re both just outgoing party hard characters who know how attractive they are. This is another one that never got enough play and it’s too bad she’s gone (and presumably the Namorita who turned up during War of Kings was plucked from before her dating Johnny days); they’d be a fun occasional hookup.

Even in the Ultimate Universe, Johnny is a mack daddy who can’t win. Crystal ditched him even harder over there, and just when he seemed to have a good thing going with Liz Allen, she burst into flames and went off to hang with the X-Men. I’d like to see this one revisited. Somebody get me Brian Bendis…

wedding wednesday: claire la faye bridal

okay, major wedding wednesday epiphany - the accessory designer of garden of whimsy that i just posted about last week is the same lovely woman i posted about way back in september!  i'm pretty embarrassed about this epiphany, i definitely should have put two and two together way sooner, but regardless, i am even the more impressed with this woman after learning more about her expansive talents!  she is, of course, the uber talented claire la faye, and today i'd like to show a few pics showcasing her newest collection . . .

 wedding dresses in soft pastels ~
delicate rose detail ~

rosy feathers ~
 (and of course she also designed the beautiful headpiece!)

* photo shoot by rebecca lindon of Deville Photography *
discovered on junebug weddings


Dear Readers,

I know that there hasn't been much updates except for some movie reviews. I have an article coming up soon within this week. However, as appetizer I am giving out some wallpapers that I got from some site that I came across recently. *Please take note that they are not my artwork! I am just sharing it*

So enjoy these few wallpapers guys! 

Last but not least, its me! Finally after such a long time, a proper new pic of me! Like it? Wanna test your camera skills? Contact me! I'd do it for u provided I have the time! or if you need a photographer, let me know as well!! =D

In whole, I would like to thank you guys for continuous support for this blog. I hope that all of you guys would gear up to read my up and coming article soon! Till then ciaoz people!! 

Brian Taylor covers Havok & Wolverine - Meltdown 4

Original cover by Kent Williams; Marvel 1989. Brian Taylor's website is here.

Montag, 28. März 2011

Visual tribute to Omega in comics

Victoria B.C.’s lost suburb: Fernwood & ‘What do you Do?’

The first question Bill, who was 77 with Cerebral Palsy, asked was ‘What do you DO?’
I had not been asked that question in over a year and a half, and here a disabled person was assuming I DID. His view was the opposite of Health Authorities workers, the medical suppliers, the YMCA/YWCA supervisors and directors, the doctors, specialist and everyone else I had met who assumed disabled meant ‘life without focus and purpose’.

Of the five people I talked to at this indoor market for those who knew all about scraping by, two asked what I DID. Perhaps the reason 79% of Canadian wheelchair users are unemployed is because, in this city where the 10K’s goal is to have 15% of the entire population RUN regardless of age, those who do the hiring, who are part of those who ‘have’ equate ‘crippled’ as ‘hopeless and helpless’

Those who are just getting by know that in the underground and sideline economy, where spending a day to make $10-$30 is okay, disability from mental illness to physical issues don’t stop someone’s gig. And that gig is ‘follow your dream’ which often, when kicked to the curb, frees a person to take the risks of following what they love, and hoping some money comes.

I used the world ‘crippled’ because in a film watched last night the protagonist kept saying, “I don’t fear death when I fight; when I meet the next challenge, but I fear being crippled.” Dying was synonymous with being able to ‘Do’, to keep going after your dream, or as he said, ‘The next mountain to climb”, but being disabled was worse that death: it was a unimaginable living dead-end.

I said to Linda on leaving, “My problem is that I’ve been talking to the wrong Canadians. I had given up, thinking Canadians were apathetic assholes. But I've just be talking to those who don't know what life is like on the edge, and the wrong ones." I laughed, "Thank goodness." I went back to interact to those who have lived in the Tower, and it was a relief. It was a cool swap meet. For the whole time I was at the market, the heat of the room turned my body red, and my speech and movement was impaired. But not a single person finished a sentence or interrupted me. And they didn't do tasks FOR me, like when I struggled to grasp coins in payment. I wanted to know what they did, and they wanted to know what I did. We were equals.

The woman who sold me the Margaret Atwood Handmaid’s Tale and Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Bodywas heading off to India.

The 14 year old who sold me the goth black top, skulls and cats showed me her favorite hoodie, with a music note and skull, music goth. We bartered. “How about 50 cents?” she asked.

“Will you take a dollar?” I countered. I am either very bad or very good at bargaining. That was a good deal.

I talked with some starting Native art carvers. I had met them at the Xmas fair. They were hanging and had the instruments out, carving while we chatted, doing the dream, even if the money wasn’t there yet.

Bill, who told me he had been told by doctors that he would be dead by the time he was 30 proudly proclaimed he would be 77 years old soon. We both belonged to the Quadriplegic Society and he had the same power chair controls as me, I have the beta version and he has the alpha version. Bill’s CP makes it harder to understand, but he waited for me, and I waited for him. We traded info about hospitals, and rehab, wheelchair fitting, and hobbies. He gave me a sleep shirt with native art on it. I picked up that Bill, like me, liking having a talk. I also noticed that he liked a) talking to women, flirting a little, and 2) looking at their breasts.

Was Bill the 'normal' Jerry Lewis on his telethon fought for? Jerry always talked about the ‘wretched lives’ of those with MDA and Cerebral Palsy, and telling everyone that like Bill was told, and Harriet Johnson: they would die young, young, young. Or rather, they would die UNLESS they live for Jerry (seriously, he states that one boy is 'still alive' because he, Jerry Lewis, took time to go bowling with him: and that like the Babe Ruth story, he is the Babe Ruth, for whom children stay alive because of his promises: "Hero worship, okay? That child stayed alive because of Hero Worship, and that's what I'm doing"). Yet he calls those who are disabled 'half a human' and Bill and I live in a 'Steel Cage' (his term for a wheelchair). When asked , 'Is that how you REALLY feel about them (those with disabilities)?' (an interesting 2 minutes)

His reply, "They can't run with me down the hall can they?", and in the stunned silence of the interviewer he continued, "In TRUTH..aren't they left with half (of being a human)? If there is a degree of measurement, are they whole (humans)?" This is where Jerry Lewis seems to talk about Eugenics. Are those with migraines 9/10th human?

Was Bill at 77, happily enjoying his harem of women to converse with weekly, and yes, maybe loving the breasts too, but happy, and kind, and generous. A success story? Or half a human? To me, Bill was living a good life, and the life he wanted. What was my life? Bill wanted to know. Writing, I told him, but thought later how I didn’t send postcards until I got disabled, indeed, I didn’t reach out much once I got out of the social edges.

Jerry's has a harsh response to criticism from a group who USED to be poster children for his telethon: those shown as dying, as to be pitied. Now these 'Jerry's Children have grown up and say, stop making us out to be things to be pitied, we don't NEED a great white able bodied hope who put himself forward as the only one who cares (even to being nominated for a Nobel Prize). Jerry's response was to threaten to take away their wheelchairs for complaining.
Or as he said in the linked clip, 'what do I care about them (ex-Jerry Lewis Poster chidren)'. He explained to the interviewer, "When 100 million people are watching me and thinking what I do is okay I can't worry or dignify (them)": the now adults, children who were used as poster children for MDA. His stance is that if able body people agree with him that the disabled are 'half a human' and wouldn't survive without Jerry, then he doesn't want to hear from those he is fundraising for, or even used TO fundraise. And if they complain, take away that 'steel imprisonment' in which they live (gee, INDY gets me places, but isn't my prison or my guard). As to being disabled, Jerry told Vanity that if he was, he would 'kill myself'.

In choosing that point of view, or Bill's, I think I'll go with Bill. After all, nice breasts to stare out, and good company isn’t a bad life to live. I guess they would be hunky boytoys for all the hetero gals out there. Basically, to Jerry, I 'Don't' do life, while to Bill and those at the swap meet, I 'Do'.

At the swap meet, still thinking myself as human, I bought gifts; books to send, a goth top for a teen known only by email and laminated posters for other onoline friends.

But I also got gifts: a sleepshirt from Bill, some extra posters, a cloth woven carry bag and a new outlook, a view to look at until I can look out my windows again. Yes, a woman let me look in her old viewmaster which had 3-D mix of superheroes and Canadian ‘wonders’ from spiderman swinging in, to a bucking bronco in the Calgary Stampede. You can see that it totally gave me the ‘WOW!’ factor (and that I am completely overheating, my face and arms bright red).

The woman said she got it, and was going to give it to someone but after seeing my natural reaction (“I did NOT have my mouth open!” I told Linda. She insisted I did, and was like a little kid), she knew that I was the ‘right’ person. And finding that I would keep it by the computer to have something too look ‘outside’, that made her certain. Bought a gift waiting for the right person to come, she sounded like me. We traded names of Blogs, and what we ‘Did’.

It took me three weeks, with my poor health to get there, but it was pretty cool, interesting people, interesting stuff.

The location, in Fernwood was surrounded with what Linda and I call, Ukrainian colors. This is because she come from the prairies where after World War II, groups of people from various countries were given land along the train line, so while she grew up in a town which spoke German (is dry, no alcohol, thus no prom, and had a typical 1938 German school day), there are within 10 miles, a French speaking town, two more French speaking towns twenty minutes away, Old Mennonites (Prussian and Paraguay), Russian, and Ukrainian towns.

From her married in relations and community, Ukrainians like bright colors, BRIGHT colors, so when we saw a house like this, it felt we were right back in the Prairies.

When Linda moved away, her ‘setting up home’ presents fell into two catagories, those that could be used, and those that glowed in the dark, which were put in a separate box. Even now, Linda will say, ‘oh don’t worry, that’s a Ukrainain towel/blanket’. This means, it is wild and not to her taste and not something she is too worried about getting damage as it is functional, vivid colours but functional. Fernwood, is reported to be an area of artists now, and still has lots of old houses, and the kind of old group housing houses, complete with the VW bus in front (one guy turned his car into a hot tub for reasons still unclear) which I remember from the time I lived there after arriving from Gettysburg, PA to go to university.

Our house was a lot like this Edwardian multilevel, which had 12 boarding rooms. I went there because I could afford it (just under 100 for a month) and though not as well painted as this, I was next to the kitchen and the bathroom. In fact, what I was paying for wasn't a room but the pantry off the kitchen, shelves removed. My room was 8 feet by four feet. I had a bed, and a door out. While it was small and unusual, it didn’t seem that odd during daylight when my grandfather inspected it and said, “Are you SURE?” as grandmother said I couldn’t stay with them and this was mixed gender and I could afford it.

It turned out the rumors of drug use was true in Fernwood as the next room over, the guy was growing pot plants, and on shaggy guy who had a live in girl when I arrived, earned his rent by selling magic mushrooms. Perhaps this was the when I had the path split: I COULD have enjoyed free love, candles and drugs (though I don’t remember lesbians or bisexual around, mostly just horny stoned guys). But since I was trying to go to uni, and work a full time job AND get home before the sun set (since that was not the place to wander after dark). Getting food was hard as our communal kitchen was often being used to prepared drugs, including preparing the pot buds, which took over the sink for three days, so no spaghetti! I was oft invited and started running out of excuses to avoid going in the 'vehicle hot tub' which I think didn't know the word 'bleach' and had hosts of STD's (maybe this was one of those places you COULD get herpes from a hot tub?). So it was time to move.

While there are lot of great houses, with lovely colours, and rightly should be heritage houses. But I am not sure if they are registered as Fernwood is one of the ‘lost’ areas of Victoria, not an area anyone thought of 'preserving' despite age. With a town hall, theatre, pub, and center, all within walking distance of town, and on the way to both the jobs at Hillside and the University, Fernwood is fortunate it hasn’t been discovered, bought up and turned into condo developments.

The place is full of character homes as well as parks, little pathways and green spaces, but also, and this keeps the price down, DRUGS, lots of them. I heard from a tenant, after I left the panty ‘room’, a month or two later the house was raided, perhaps due to one tenant there going from house to house looking for drugs when his supply ran out. There are, spaced between the restored and painted Edwardian houses, squats and shooting galleries. Unlike the UK, squatters are not legal nor can then get rights to the house (in the UK, you can even get on a list, or get a list of places that are open for squatting, and if you stay for 10 years, you OWN the building). Here, it is criminal vandalism, not that I haven’t had to squat (live) myself in unheated, no bathroom bits of roof and floors. Thank goodness for university bathrooms and showers and McDonalds, eh?

But one thing that Fernwood does is expand your mind, one way or another. This trip it was trying to navigate the streets, as the one ways, dead ends, and tiny streets is another reason adding lot of cars and condo’s is a bad idea. As Bill put it, “We are in the Center of a Maze!” True enough and often we would be blinded, while lost trying to find the entrance and street by yet another building blowing our limited color scheme and brightness ideas wide open. This is only a fraction of the buildings I took pictures of, or asked Linda to, all within a two square block radius.

Suddenly, I have the urge to get some glow in the dark forest green, eggplant purple and banana yellow and get decorating.
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