Sunday, November 11, 2007

Schmutz Residence and the Milk Bar

We give my favourite performance of the whole tour to an audience of two: Ed and his mom, in her living room, while she sits in her recliner, rapt. She was too ill to come to the readings, so we brought the readings to her. Neil reads the first ten pages and I suddenly see him, peering over his glasses, as the storyteller he is above all else. ryan reads a long piece for the first time – “social pedagogies” – and its vulnerability and eloquence is stunning. I can feel the power in my diaphragm and know I’m doing well. Ed and his mom have a little fight over the tea and she pushes him over, I mop up the spill and giggle.

I get through to Jon, who is giddy and agrees to send as many more
copies of the book as he can – probably 30 – on to Winnipeg ahead of me, I learn that I have received my first review and it is glowing (if a little squirrely). Read it here.

We do and interview with Sue Baccarro for the arts publication she works for, which degenerates into Neil, ryan and I getting very academic and writery and talking for a very long time. It feels very good. I get some things straight. Almost too late, we change into superheroes and head to the Milk Bar, picking up Shawarma on the way.

As soon as we get to the Milk Bar, my stomach locks up and I give my falafel away. I want to throw up. The Bar slowly fills with family and friends. Kark Jirgens comes out to represent the English department. Misty and Todd, whom I haven’t seen in 3 years, come to stand in for the old workshop guard, Aunts and uncles come, Gennie’s mom and two sisters are there. I can feel myself starting to come apart,

We rope Ed into hosting and he almost makes me cry. Ryan reads “social pedagogies” again when I ask him to, pairs it with some shorter snappier pieces and gets his jab-jab-uppercut on, Neil reads the second half of Radio Drama and it goes over like gangbusters. I talk a bit. Reveal the tattoo. Dedicate my performance to my parents. I don’t stutter too much, It feels good.

And it’s over. My brother sells books. Lots of people sign out tour books. I have some rye and coke. I try to visit a little with everyone and feel like a great weight is lifted. Everyone loves our performances, it seems, Compliments bounce off my face like pellets of hail. It feels like we’ve won something. It feels fantastic.

I buy another Shawarma, one I can actually eat. We go back to Mike’s place, drink, play Guitar Hero again. ryan and I talk about some new poems he’s working on, stuff he might read at the end of the tour and it is good to talk about the writing, to feel like working even while celebrating, I eventually fall asleep leaning against Ed s he strums out “Cliffs of Dover” on a plastic guitar.

It’s not home for me, not anymore, but it feels good to have Windsor’s blessing. The halfway point. Into the depths of the prairie we go, triumphant.

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