exercise: N 2.2

N exercise 2.2

objects from my childhood home

Coke memorabilia (endless)
lamp with a ship’s wheel to turn it on and off
low-hanging ceilings in the basement
huge chest freezer
an L-sectional
a plaque of bronze reading “At this site in 1857 nothing happened”
a “Fuck Iran” button attached to the mesh of a speaker in the dining room
an oval dining room table with insertable leaf
those cubes of translucent material that are stacked in walls and whatnot and they admit light but imperfectly – it’s warped and distorted within the cube and rendered only as abstract shape and line to the eye
a combination TV-VCR in my bedroom, 13″
too many coats in the closet
a carving of a sun and a crescent moon with half-smiling faces
an ancient 7-Up branded thermometer
big-screen rear-projection TV
rectangular mirror over the fireplace (the fireplace didn’t run)
carvings of flat Jamaican faces from my folks’ honeymoon
a framed photo of my parents in front of an old car
litterbox under the basement stairs
a wide-mouthed lamp with a red bulb
a small TV in a cupboard
a used futon
a bowling-ball sized ball of rubber bands

Working on digital projects with friends was a big part of my childhood for a few years. Whether we were constructing websites to share animated GIF materials (mostly frame-by-frame rips from Dragonball Z video games, used as clip-art for people to make their own animations and scenes) or building a parodic RPG or scamming the naive out of their Neopoints, the computer in the basement was the place where it all happened. It was next to the chest freezer mentioned above, and sometimes I would lie back on top of that freezer, staring contemplatively at the ceiling, hashing through ideas while somebody else was at the PC’s helm. I was there when we had our biggest score in our Neopoints scam – in which we constructed a fake but official-looking website promising to generate unlimited Neopoints as long as you gave us your account name and password, first, to which a surprising number of people, in those more innocent days of the Internet, were willing) – by nabbing a player who’d obviously been at it a long time and already had millions of Neopoints. We were elated, and changed the player’s password immediately, forever locking him or her out. Then we went to McDonald’s, a 15 minute walk away, to celebrate. Later, we went through the account and its arcane inventory of magical items and pets we’d never known existed. It was fun for a while to sell these rare items in-game for a single piece of gold, thrilling these other lucky players who received unspeakable deals. Of course, we never found out what happened to the players we scammed, and Neopets, the platform, did catch onto us more than once, but we were resilient, for a time. We had other interests in those days, too, but this was one of them.


Logan Bright

exercise: N1.5

N 1.5

I’ve only been in one fight in my life, one physical fight, at least, and it was with Corey Thompson, in elementary school, whom I never really liked. He was blond and a bit jocky, whereas I was anything but. I don’t recall the circumstances of the fight but I believe that I started it. It wasn’t much of a fight – we must have been 12 or 13 at the time, certainly no older – we were wrestling on the ground at the back corner of our school’s vast playground, at the grassy part, where the fenced edges of the playground met at a corner. We were never too antipathetic toward one another, Corey and I, but there was no genuine affinity there, either. I recall we were playing touch football, which I was never much for, but I did for a while bring a football so that Dave Pritchard and the other popular guys like Dave Webster would let me play, and I was popular too for those brief interludes though even then I recognized that I was being used. I stopped bringing the football before long, but that’s not what the fight was about. Corey and I were on the grass, on the ground, probably on our knees, my arm wrapped around him, in a head-lock type thing without any skill or understanding of what I was doing, without any end-point in mind. I recall in high school there was to be some massive fight at Gage Park, which was easily a couple of kilometres from the school, between our own Delta Secondary and some rival institution – Queen Mary perhaps? And so a horde of children like the orcs of Tolkien flooded west along quiet residential streets to arrive at the park, surely exhausted by then, to witness the brawl. That’s how I remember it, but I remember it from a crane’s-view like a film, and I remember dozens of barbaric youngsters, so surely my memory cannot be trusted on this or any other matter.

exercise: N1.3

N 1.3

1.

I have a make-believe memory of being a baby in the sink, being bathed by my aunt and mother. Apparently I peed right in my aunt’s eye, which seems somewhat incredible. What’s even more incredible is the idea that I might remember this at all, presuming it’s true. I mean, I was a little baby, a wrinkly wedge of flesh, small enough to fit into a standard stainless-steel kitchen sink. That doesn’t seem highly likely at all. If it’s true that I peed in my aunt’s eye – and both my aunt and my mother seem to enjoy reminding me of this, or at least referencing it on occasion – then it’s certainly not true that I remember it myself, but rather that I’m remembering hearing about it, and conjuring a “memory” from remembering hearing about it. This is all a little meta but it seems likely enough; the mind can invent this type of thing, reshape history into a memory, a false memory, really, that feels true enough. Babies don’t remember these sorts of things, our earliest memories come from around the age of three or older, maybe four, and for me it seems they don’t start until high school, with some fragments of elementary school thrown in to prove I wasn’t hatched from some vat. Of course, false memories could just as soon be implanted, as some high-level Scientologists believe.

2.

I don’t know that I have any early memories. I certainly couldn’t fashion a story out of one if I did, with conflict, drama, characters experiencing difficulties and overcoming them or not. I have always enjoyed trying to keep a rain drop, say, or a small LED, within a frame of wires on the highway or two lines on a windshield. This often happens in cars, I guess, hence the imagery. When driving, or rather riding in the passenger seat, as I don’t much like to drive, and certainly didn’t at my “earliest memory” stage, I’d select a rain drop or light or other small smudge, and try to keep my position, adjusting my head in small increments, to keep the smudge or drop within the frame of whatever happened to be serving the purpose. This is something I still enjoy to this day, though the opportunities are fewer, as I am rarely a passenger in an automobile – the most recent time was the morning after Caleb and Lindsay’s stag and doe, when Heather and I raced through Toronto traffic to drop the rental off before the 1 o’clock deadline, at which point we would have to pay for another day. I still haven’t paid Heather back my half of the rental fee; this will go alongside the rent itself, I think. I know it will because I can’t have that hanging over my head even if she isn’t aware of it directly. And probably she is as she’s smart, knows what’s going on in her life.

3.

This is to be page three of two or three. I think Novakovich has his answer that I cannot make a story out of my memories, despite trying. I certainly am imagining more than I remember. I could expand and rewrite in the third person, hm, that’s interesting. These memories are so deeply personal, touched by my adult self, that rewriting them for another person would be to lose all semblance of connection to reality. But I guess that’s what fiction is for, the whole purpose of the enterprise. Recast into a trance that which has been observed and experienced. I remember when my sister and I would play basketball in the long narrow driveway of our house on Kensington, she used to throw the basketball so it would hit me in the face. She had good aim, often enough, and my glasses were always at risk. I’ve had them for years but not forever, so this memory must have taken place at least after I was twelve years old, which is a good deal later than most people’s earliest memories generally take place. Has it been all the pot smoking of my youth and late-youth, that has disturbed and irrevocably damaged my access to my past? Or have I always been aloof, unconcerned with the nature of my reality, unquestioning of circumstances in which I find myself? Seems to be the latter, a personality defect rather than a dirty consequence of poor choices, but then, I don’t smoke as much as I used to.

Writing Exercise: 2 PoVs on a childhood event: child and adult

wex-novakovich5e6-loganbright.pdf
Logan Bright 2016 – Novakovich 5e6

1

The backyard at grandpa’s house was full of treasures so I wasn’t surprised when I found his map. Mommy and daddy were moving stuff out the front door into a big square truck when I pulled the folded paper out of a box of papers and medals. I opened it along the creases, it was blue paper and blue lines but there was a big red X square in the backyard. The house had an address printed on it and it was grandpa’s address.

I ran out to the yard and sank to my knees in the damp grass, putting aside little piles of dirt with scooped hands. The map wasn’t specific on where exactly in the backyard the X was supposed to be so I started at what I thought was probably the centre. My nails got full of mud and my jeans were filthy before I thought to fetch a shovel from the shed.

The little wooden building was padlocked though, and daddy had the keys. His birthday was coming soon and I wanted to surprise him with the buried treasure so I went back to the house and crept up to the doorjamb. I darted inside the kitchen, which luckily hadn’t been packed away yet, and returned to the yard with the two biggest spoons I could find.

All afternoon I dug around the yard, a few inches here, behind an old washing machine; a few inches there, beside a checkered loveseat with oily stains. When the sun reached the treetops, mommy came to the back door with a glass of iced tea and found me covered in the rich soil, and the lawn full of holes like a family of groundhogs had just moved in.

I beamed up at her. “Don’t tell daddy,” I said. “I want the treasure to be a surprise.”

“You’re looking for grandpa’s buried treasure?” she asked, kneeling beside me.

I took a big sip of the sweet tea. “Yep. And I’m gonna give it to daddy for his birthday. From grandpa.”

From out front of the house my dad honked the horn of the square truck.

“That’s very kind of you, sweetie. Come on inside now. We’ll come back and find the buried treasure next time.”

 

2

I was around 10 when grandpa died. His yard was full of old furniture and half-finished projects, scrap metal and rusting toys. Treasures all, to my eyes. I’d spend hours playing in the cool, damp grass when my folks came to visit with grandpa.

The day my parents came to clear out his furniture, I found a map in an old iron box full of dusty medals and stiff photographs. It must have been a city zoning map or something, blue on blue, but I recognized the street and the address to be grandpa’s. The map had a big red X in his backyard.

I ran out back and began digging with my bare hands. My father’s birthday was approaching and I had a mind to give him the buried treasure for a present.

I was caked in mud before I thought to try for a shovel but when I got to the low wooden shed I found it padlocked and realized that only dad had the keys. I didn’t want to spoil the surprise and so I snuck into the kitchen, making sure no one would see me, and I swiped a couple of the biggest spoons I could find.

I dug furiously all afternoon, leaving dozens of holes a few inches deep scattered across the backyard.

The sun had reached the tops of the trees when my mother appeared at the kitchen door with an iced tea in hand, and called my name. “What are you doing out here?”

“Ssh,” I said. “I’m digging up grandpa’s treasure.”

She came and kneeled in the moist earth beside me, careful not to get her khakis dirty. “Buried treasure?”

“I found a map. I’m going to give the treasure to daddy for his birthday.”

Out front, my father honked the horn of the square rental van.

“That’s a very sweet idea, peach. But let’s come in for the day, hm? We can always come back another time to find the buried treasure.”