December 5, 2014

Murderous Meat

July 28th, 2044

 

It didn’t all start at once and by the time I was aware of it and my mom let me watch 24-hour news instead of my usual lessons, the world was already in crisis. This is what happened.

A few years ago, there was this 60-something year old lady in Texas named Esther Hughes who started waking up with really bad headaches. She took lots of medication and saw many doctors and they performed many tests but they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. They gave her prescriptions for strong opioids she had to inject herself, which didn’t help, and frustrated and in pain, she closed all her curtains and shut the world out.

Eventually, the holidays rolled around and Esther’s kids became concerned for their mother when she told them she not only wouldn’t be hosting the traditional five day feast but that she wouldn’t be seeing them over the holidays at all. She said the pain was too unbearable.

Troubled by the turn of events and the tone in their mother’s voice, Esther’s children, thinking they were doing a very good thing, decided to bring their families and the holiday feast to Esther.

Fortunately for Esther, it was her youngest daughter who arrived first. She told reporters later that it was the blacked out windows on her childhood home that told her something was really wrong. She lightly knocked on the front door and called to her mother, but there was no answer. She said she knocked for another few minutes with no answer before she went to the spot the spare key to the back door had been hidden her whole life. It was there and she made her way around the back of the house and unlocked the door to the sun room. She said the whole house was dark, but having grown up in it, she knew it like the back of her hand so she quickly searched the first floor for her mother with no results. She went upstairs, straight to her mother’s room, where she saw a lump in the bed. She called for her mother and turned on the light and according to their first interview with Oprah 2.0, Esther pulled the blankets over her head and screamed for her daughter to turn the light off, which her daughter, who was scared, immediately did.

In the dark, Esther’s daughter felt around for the bed and sat down on the edge of it. Holding her mother’s hand, she asked, “what’s wrong mama?” and Esther began to weep. Esther then held her daughter’s hand and brought it up to her face, allowing her daughter to first feel her mother’s lips, then her mother’s nose, then her soggy eyes which Esther fluttered so her daughter could feel her eyelashes and then she raised her daughter’s fingers to the middle of her forehead where…her daughter pulled her hand back and gasped. She said she felt the spot again with both hands this time and she was certain about what she was feeling in the dark: right in the middle of Esther’s forehead, where nothing should have been, there was a closed eye. And it had been crying too.

After recounting to her daughter how the process had happened and that bright light can often trigger headaches, Esther allowed her daughter to bring her downstairs, into the living room, where Esther said it was okay to turn on certain lamps, which she had dimmed by putting scarves over their shades.

Eventually the rest of Esther’s family arrived at Esther’s house and they all heard her tale, while not quite knowing what to do next. Esther didn’t want to see any more doctors or anyone for that matter, or rather she didn’t want anyone to see her.

Finally her family persuaded Esther to let a priest come to the house, who told her that this third eye was a gift from God and that there had long been stories and theories in many religions of a third eye giving the person the gift of prophecy. He told her that she should let as many people see her as possible, that she could help people in need make tough decisions, that this was her gift to share.

Pretty soon Esther became a worldwide media sensation, appearing on all the talk shows and news shows with her daughter, wearing sunglasses over her original eyes and a headscarf over her third eye to prevent headaches. People were calling on her to bless them and to try to heal their wounds or to tell them their futures.

At the same time people began pilgrimages to Esther’s home from all over the world, other people with new mutations that all happened in a short amount of time were starting to crop up in the media, which started a frenzy on the 24-hour news channels – so I’m told – about why this was happening. Some experts claimed it was because of pollution. Some claimed it was because of a surplus of vitamins. Some claimed it was because this government or that was testing or using weapons of mass destruction. Some claimed it was a virus or a bacteria. Some went so far as to say that these mutations were the next step in human evolution. No one was co-operating with anyone else and in the end, they would all be wrong as a result.

But as the media goes, after the initial hysteria died down and governments reassured their people that they were doing everything possible to determine the cause of this new “disease”, you didn’t hear about mutations as often. Soon people stopped worrying and went on with their lives, for the most part, with the most paranoid among them wearing medical masks in elevators and cities setting up sanitizing stations in malls, subways and large office parks.

And then Cookie Kaye happened. Cookie Kaye, of New Zealand, was the host of her own popular live internet cooking show, “What’s Cookin’ Cookie?” where she would prepare dishes from her global fans’ childhoods; such staples as macaroni and cheese with prosciutto on top, butter chicken, jerk pork or meatloaf with gravy.

One particular day, Cookie, dressed in a white, sleeveless blouse with yellow flowers, began by explaining that it was her 100th show and in that honour, she thought she’d surprise her fans with a dish from her own childhood: pan-fried lamb chops with rosemary and garlic. Cookie chatted about growing up in New Zealand and how lamb was a very common meat there, as she combined minced garlic with fresh, chopped rosemary and a little crushed red pepper to give it a bit of pizzaz! Since the next step in the recipe was to rub the mixture onto the chops and refrigerate for 4 hours, she pulled out two already prepared and chilled chops from the fridge and started heating olive oil in a large skillet. As the oil reached the proper temperature, Cookie discussed with her virtual audience the many other ways one can enjoy lamb and how you can obtain lamb in places where it may not be readily available. Once the oil was properly heated, Cookie explained that all you had to do next was to fry each lamb chop for 3 minutes on each side to attain medium-rareness and as she said this, she picked up a piece of the maroon, herbed meat in each hand and laid them into the skillet.

Immediately the lamb chops began to sizzle in the oil and before poor Cookie could say anything else, they were both flailing violently in the pan, writhing as if in pain like slugs that have had salt poured on them, splashing hot meat juices and oil across Cookie’s hands and bare arms. She gasped as she drew back and in the next breath she was pointing at the pan and yelling at her camera man, angrily asking if this was a sick joke. At that same moment, one of the chops launched itself out of the pan and over her right shoulder. In the clip I saw, Cookie screams as the second piece of lamb propelled itself similarly to its mate, only this time it flew straight at Cookie, hitting her in the face before Cookie throws it to the floor. Cookie screams “can you fucking help me here please, Steve?!” and now the camera man, still carrying the camera, rushes around the corner of the cooking island and drops the camera as he goes to aid Cookie who is shrieking and crying that she has hot oil and blood and pepper in her eyes. In front of the camera, now on the floor, is the second lamb chop, still sizzling and twitching in a most disturbing fashion as steam rises from it and in the background, you can clearly see Cookie’s high-heeled shoes and those of the camera man’s and then you hear the running and splashing of water as Cookie flushes her eyes at the sink. The camera man is heard talking on the phone with emergency services and the next thing you see in the clip is Cookie’s shoes turn around to face the still slightly squirming meat, which she then violently and without ceremony stomps into a million pieces, kicking the camera in the process, ending the clip.

As soon as this clip went viral throughout the world, stories of other incidents of butchered lamb parts behaving strangely when heated started slowly coming out in the papers. Those I was allowed to read. Then beef and pork seemed affected in quickly soon after, until finally there was a grotesque incident involving a turducken, captured on video and uploaded to YouTube.

In that clip, you see a green oven and through the window in the door, there is a black roasting pan that jumps around every couple of seconds, sometimes hard enough to knock the pan’s lid askew. You can hear two or more people in the clip quietly freaking out completely and swearing and a caption appears on the video saying that they were attempting to cook a turducken for Thanksgiving and that this was happening approximately an hour and 15 minutes into cooking it. Then one of the people, a man, gets brave and you see him open the oven door with one hand and then with an oven-mittened hand he pulls out the rack that the roasting pan is on and then backs up and out of the way while the roasting pan bounces around some more, seemingly agitated by the movement caused by pulling out the rack. The people in the background all go “OOOOH!” as the same man quickly reaches for the lid of the roasting pan and pulls it off, jumping back once again. Steam rises and the person recording the video gets closer and higher to better see what was inside the pan. What should have looked like a normal turkey on the outside looked more like a squirming mass of white flesh and bone, pulsating and spasming while the duck and chicken inside it presumably did the same. A girl in the background screams, “FUCKING GROSS!!! SOMEONE KILL IT!!!” to which someone replies “HOW?!” and the next thing you know, the oven-mittened man shoves the turducken back in the oven, without the lid, and slams the door shut. “That’s how,” he says and from there the video is a time-lapse view of the turducken from the window in the oven and you can see it squirming violently until finally it simply from within the oven there is a loud thump and an explosion of flesh against the glass. The video slows back down to normal and the oven-mittened man carefully opens the oven and backs up so the videographer can get a better look at the carnage inside the oven: bits of white flesh and skin and bones covered every surface of the oven and inside the roasting pan, where the chicken’s back and parts of the duck were still “raw” but cooking, it was twitching and flexing and reacting as if in pain just as the lamb chop had when Cookie Kaye tried to fry it. Someone suggested putting the remnants of the turducken back in the oven to “kill” the rest of it and the video stops there and starts again with a view of the inside of the oven with the rack and roasting pan pulled out slightly. All of the meat looks cooked, most of it overcooked and some of it burnt. Then the camera turns to the face of the oven-mittened man who mugs for the camera and says, “And that’s how it’s done, boys!” The video ends.

After that video also went viral, the governments of the world finally started working together.  When the World Health Organization issued a statement telling people to cut down on their consumption of un-processed meat until more was known about what was going on,  all that did was cause pandemonium and most people stopped eating meat completely, sticking to vegetables and fruits and processed foods. Most stores stopped selling it because they couldn’t guarantee that each piece or package of their meat wouldn’t react violently when the customer attempted to cook it.

My grandma Lisa said she saw this all coming. She said that a long time ago, when they were just starting the programs to replace heirloom livestock with cloned livestock that didn’t get sick as often, grew faster, tasted better and as an added benefit, the meat made people look more youthful, there were campaigns by people like her who thought that this was the wrong way to go. That this would muck up the food chain. And they protested. There needed to be more testing. But the governments of the world saw a quick way to “end” world hunger between these cloned animals and fruits and vegetables that had been genetically modified to not only grow just about anywhere, but to be resistant to pesticides and herbicides, and didn’t listen.

Now the 24-hour news channels were reporting that it was this strange meat that was causing the mutations.  I felt relieved because I don’t eat meat and neither does anyone in my family. Soon scientists figured out that it was the genetically modified corn that the world feeds to its livestock in some capacity or another, which was causing changes to the cloned animals’ DNA and when people ate the animals, it changed their DNA as well, causing mutations, cancers and death. The crisis, of course, was that the only “heritage” animals left on the Earth were wild game and immediately breeding programs for elk, deer and moose were established.

By this point, my mom said it was okay to watch the 24-hour news channels as much as I wanted to instead of my usual lessons because this was an important world event that would have lasting repercussions well into my grandchildren’s generation, so watch I did. I watched in horror with tears streaming down my face as animals were lead into big pits in the ground with a layer of charcoal at the bottom, doused in something flammable and lit on fire. Alive. To die. Screaming and writhing in pain. Because cooking or burning the meat was the only way to kill it, they thought in the beginning, so that’s how governments started disposing of the world’s meat supply. This upset a great many people, particularly Hindus who objected to the mass slaughter of cows that for all intents and purposes could live out their lives in peace but most people were so angry at the meat itself for being bad because by now just about everyone on Earth had been negatively affected by the meat in some way, that they blamed the animals and wanted to see them suffer. The United Nations eventually concluded, at the persuasion of several kinder countries, that the animals should all be poisoned or euthanized and then their bodies disposed of by cremation and most countries followed suit, while the poorer nations opted to slitting throats before the burn. Even on our little farm in Michigan where we weren’t burning anything, you could smell the rest of the world’s char.

On one morning show I watched, there was a scientist, Dr. Ryan Brownstein, discussing these worms called planarians that had an almost infinite ability to regenerate themselves into whole organisms, making them “effectively immortal”. He said that you could cut a planarian into 279 pieces and each piece would grow into a new planarian. This was significant, he told the toothy, blonde host, because when scientists were perfecting the livestock to clone, planarian DNA was most definitely part of the final sequence, which was what had been giving meat the property of giving the consumer a more youthful appearance and sometimes a slightly longer lifespan. The planarian DNA in the meat allowed for humans to regenerate their lost cells faster, allowing for new, glowing skin for all meat eaters just about all the time. He said that the problem now, however, was that this planarian DNA had run amok and now you can cut a cow into an unknown amount of pieces and after a short period of dormancy which is slowed down by refrigeration, each piece would grow into a whole new cow. That’s why these animals had to be destroyed, because if they were left to their own devices, we would be overrun with them. Not to mention what may happen to animals who ate parts of these animals – we couldn’t even grind up these genetically modified livestock into dog food – it could seriously damage the ecosystem.

“That’s what I’ve been saying!” cried grandma Lisa.

People really are so dumb though. Even the Amish got hoodwinked into replacing their heirloom livestock with cloned animals from the Sandy Mount company who just so happened to also sell the corn to feed them, which was cheaper and easier than the Amish growing their own corn to feed their own animals as they’d been doing forever.  Worse though, is that so many people signed on to ranch these animals due to government subsidies that no one thought to even try to preserve heirloom species. There was no Noah’s Ark, the so-called “frozen zoo” had a malfunction and everything thawed in 2019. The cow as my grandma knew it is extinct. As is the pig and the chicken and anything else you’d find on a farm 30 years ago. The cloning system was working so well and the whole world was fed so they thought “this must be a good thing”. With a lack of labelling of genetically modified produce, people just got used to that too and stopped protesting. Even vegans eventually got on board because it meant they could have any type of fresh fruit or vegetable any time they wanted no matter where they were in the world or what season it was.

And of course, there was the Svalbard disaster of 2032. Unknown armed terrorists wearing balaclavas and no distinguishing clothing, just all in black, descended on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault by small stolen planes on June 22nd and they killed the small staff that was in the building but left all of the security cameras undisturbed because they wanted someone to see what they were about to do.

The security cameras, the feeds of which were also stored at an offsite location, showed the terrorists, 18 in all, placing homemade ANFO bombs all throughout the seed rooms. I’m not even sure how many there were total, but enough that when they blew, it destroyed the entire stock of the seed bank, devastating the world’s original food supply. The terrorists were shot down trying to fly back to Norway but when officials got to the wreckage, they found that all 8 people were dead, apparently of cyanide poisoning: they had all killed themselves. This was a kamikaze mission.

The terrorists were eventually identified as being from all over the world but connected via the internet and while it was never proven – no motive ever was – many people I know thought the terrorists were hired goons for someone higher up because as soon as the news hit that Svalbard had been decimated, the stocks for Sandy Mount and companies like it shot up like squirrels with their tails on fire. Everything was investigated forward and backward but there was never any proven link between the terrorists and any of those companies or those companies’ shareholders. My gran said it was “some next level illuminati shit” because whoever did it doomed the whole world – except us – to be dependent on genetically modified produce, that these companies owned the patents for, for time immemorial.

Once people realized that the genetically modified – or GMO for short – corn had made the cloned animals act like planarians, they started questioning the genetically modified tomatoes and lettuce in their salads. The corn on the cob they had at their barbeques. The beans and textured vegetable protein in their vegan chili. If the meat had changed their DNA, would the genetically modified produce make them behave like planarians too? If someone lost a finger, would it grow into a whole new clone of that person?

Governments around the world obviously reassured their people that the produce was safe and that it had been tested for a long time with no ill effects, meanwhile behind closed doors presidents and prime ministers were ordering their top scientists to drop everything and make damn sure that what they were saying was true.

It was around this time that mom and gran started getting antsy and the guns were brought up from the cellar. Our farm is already protected by 12 foot fences topped by razor wire, disguised by rows of sunflowers but I had never seen the guns come out before and it frightened me. Being 14 years old, my mom said I was old enough to learn how to shoot so mom and grandma Lisa took me out to the behind the greenhouse and had me shoot old paint cans. They said I was a natural and that made me proud, but I was still scared because I didn’t understand why I might have to use the shotgun I held in my hands. They took me back into the house and sat me down at the kitchen table where gran gave me a dish of applesauce with raisins.

Our farm, they said, is veganic. This I already knew, it has been veganic for generations. We didn’t even fertilize with manure, we exclusively used compost. “All of the plants and seeds on our property are heirloom and right now that is a very valuable thing”, gran said with a hard edge to her normally soft as kittens voice.

Suddenly everything came into focus. All the rest of the world had was genetically modified seeds that may be making them sick and we were sitting on a farm with produce that had never been tampered with and we had an abundance of seeds because we harvested our own. The reason my mom and gran were certain that we wouldn’t start mutating was because we were raw vegans living on an organic heirloom farm. We ate very little that we didn’t grow ourselves.

My gran used to be famous, sort of. A long time ago she wrote a blog and book about eating a raw diet which we still follow, called “Raw on $10 a Day (or less!)”, which became a national bestseller at the time, as different diets were all the rage and people were eager to try anything that would give them the kind of glow my gran naturally had then, as she still has now. Because of this, she said, it was feasible that certain people may come looking for her now because in her book she suggested that people be wary of genetically modified organisms and that they should grow their own since the government refused to label them. Some people would naturally assume that she was doing this now.

She said that since we had a surplus of seeds, we could send some of them to someone but who would that someone be? And would the farm, our food, be safe from looters, our own neighbours, in the meantime?

These questions would have to remain unanswered for now. For now the gate to our driveway is chained shut and padlocked and my mom has been on the internet non-stop, trying to find the right person to offer our seeds to, someone who wouldn’t take advantage of us and leave us without food for ourselves. We’ve never trusted the government but it looked like on some level we were going to have to. While mom did that, gran was on the phone with family members who all also had farms like ours in Michigan and between all of us, gran said, we could show the government just what “Militiagan” meant.

As they did that, I immersed myself in 24-hour news for days.

In India they refused to kill the cows but made a preserve for them, agreeing to the United Nations’ stipulations that they keep the sexes separate so they would not mate and die out naturally and that if the bovine population began expanding rather than declining, then a complete liquidation would be necessary.

There were a lot of talking heads saying that the changes in people’s DNA were permanent and that we could be seeing birth defects for generations from this. Already babies were being born with deformities akin to the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, like having two faces or babies that looked like their features were trying to slide off their faces altogether. Fortunately for these babies, most of them did not survive outside of the womb for longer than a few weeks. Because of these babies, women were getting abortions and tubal ligations in record numbers.

Doctors all over the world had a hard time keeping up with the effects of the meat between birth abnormalities, abortions, cancers and adolescent or adult mutations. Doctors and scientists found that no matter the mutation, if they operated on it, the same mutation would just grow back. The cancers were completely untreatable tumours inside people in various places from brains to bowels and the cancer was in every cell in between; it was in their DNA. Removing any of these tumours was fruitless because they would just grow back and by then the cancer would have already spread to somewhere really bad, like the kidneys or the liver or the brain, if it hadn’t been there previously anyway.

A new symptom started afflicting people where they would get a crazed look on their face, make a high pitched squeal, bite their own tongues off and eat them. Patient zero appeared to have been a woman in Japan on a crowded train and many cases have now been reported on every continent. The patients afflicted by this new behaviour then collapse into a catatonic state and stay that way indefinitely, unaware of anything happening around them, unable to feel pain or cold, unable to eat or evacuate waste on their own. The cause of this new, “cat got your tongue” syndrome is unknown but it is presumed to be related to what the media is now calling “murderous meat”.

Esther Hughes, seer, committed suicide.

With so much going on, every person on Earth basically started diets of rice and beans. Because no one knew what was safe to eat, people stuck to produce in cans, thinking they were better somehow, and all vegetables had to be nukrowaved for at least 5 minutes before consumption, because people were thinking that would “kill off” whatever DNA was active in the vegetable that could potentially harm them.

The vitamin and supplement industry was booming as people struggled to keep from being malnourished. People trusted synthetic nourishment in pills over fresh oranges and bananas and bread, a phenomenon turning a thousand science fiction books and movies into prophecies.

Some governments had to put in place bans on the exportation of meat because poaching had become a problem as people hunted the wildest of game to try and feed their families, such as cheetahs, zebras, seals and puffins. The breeding programs for deer had been successful so far but on nowhere near the scale they needed to feed any kind of large population. The elk and moose were less successful at breeding on their own so scientists resorted to the outdated practice of in vitro fertilization and things seemed hopeful.

I thought it was pointless though. People wanted no part of meat at all or even soy products that were made to resemble meat. People were sick and scared. The future of the human race was in question and we still didn’t know what was going to happen to us or our farm.

Then one morning at dawn there was the honk of a vehicle at our front gate. We looked out the window and there was a procession of shiny black cars parked on the side of the dirt road we lived on. My gran told us to stay in the house and to stay armed and she went out the side door to the truck. We have a very long driveway and my gran, while incredibly healthy and vibrant, is still elderly, so she drove the truck – unarmed – to the front gate to greet the people on the other side.

My mother and I watched with teeth on edge at the front windows. My mother was texting someone, I asked who, she said “everyone, this is happening” and I grew more afraid.

Much to our great surprise, gran unchained the gate and one of the men in suits pushed it aside. Gran got back in the truck and backed her way back up the driveway, parking at the side of the house as the truck had been before. As she did this, those 6 shiny black cars followed her up the driveway, with the last one closing and chaining the gate behind them all.

My mother told me to stay in the house and with shotgun in hand, she went through the kitchen and out the side door my gran had gone out previously to greet gran and these unidentified people. I ran behind her to watch what was about to happen through the window in the kitchen door. My mother said loudly, “mother, what the hell?” and as she said that men came out of the black cars, guns also in hand, screaming for my mother to “drop it” and get on the ground.

“There’s no need for that,” my grandmother said. “Honey put the gun down, it’s okay.” And my mother warily obeyed, placing the gun on the stair in front of her and putting her hands in the air. She slowly lowered them as a small figure emerged from one of the black cars. A thin woman with dark hair cut in a chin-length bob, wearing large sunglasses and a Pratt skirt, blouse and blazer stepped out of the car and into the sunlight. Behind her, a large man wearing the kind of suit every man wears only wearing it slightly better than the average man stepped out of the vehicle and held her hand as she picked her way through the mud toward gran, my mother and me.

She didn’t need to introduce herself but she did anyway and shook my grandmother’s hand. She was none other than the President of the United States, Belinda-Anne Briggs and her companion was the First Gentleman Charles Johnson.

Gran invited them into the house and lead them up the steps of the porch, where my mother had retrieved and put away the shotgun before scurrying into the house ahead of them. I didn’t know what to do so I went into the living room and slouched in the doorway between that room and the kitchen to watch what was about to unfold.

Gran, the President and the First Gentleman sat down at the kitchen table and my mother leaned against the kitchen counter. My grandma told my mother to get everyone some apple cider, which she explained we grow the apples, press them and bottle the cider ourselves so it was guaranteed to be GMO-free. Our guests gladly accepted and my mother served everyone a large glass. She offered me one but I just shook my head no, wanting to be as invisible as possible in the shadow of someone so huge.

President Briggs began by telling my grandmother how much she enjoyed reading her book and how she thought it was a shame that it was out of print and that that is something that should be remedies as soon as possible because a raw, vegan diet of fresh food is exactly what the American people, or even the world, needed right now. The second thing she wanted to discuss was our farm. She wanted to know everything about it, about how we keep our orchard pest-free, about what we grow in the greenhouse and how we harvest seeds. It was the letter she seemed the most interested in.

My grandmother flat out told her that we had a surplus of GMO-free heirloom seeds and that we had been trying to figure out what we could do with them to best help the world, if anything and the President cried real tears of joy, holding my grandmother’s hands across the table with both of hers and squeezing affectionately.

Something North America still had that a lot of the world did not was open spaces for planting fields, especially since the cattle and poultry industries were no more, said the President. She wanted to start by a few select organic farmers like ourselves planting “victory gardens”, a concept from the last century, harvesting enough food for ourselves and our neighbours and collecting enough seeds to plant for the next year, as well as to share with the government who would distribute the seeds to applying farmers. All of these activities would be heavily monitored by the military to ensure that the organic food supply remained GMO-free and to protect the gardens and fields from theft. The infrastructure was easy enough to implement, explained President Briggs, it was the seed stock that was the problem. Even farmers who had been planting perfectly normal organic corn in the earlier 2000s sometimes had genetically modified corn blow into their fields and when Sandy Mount found that these farmers were inadvertently selling their patented product, they sued the farmer into bankruptcy. The President said that she was in the process of creating a set of laws for the companies that produce genetically modified organisms that would eventually phase them out, make them illegal in this country and have them pay for the long-term implementation of the victory gardens. Apparently Canada was on board as well and due to our long-standing alliance with them, we would be co-operating with people on both sides of the border through the internet and mail system.

Gran said that even sending one person three tomato seeds to plant on a windowsill with instructions on how to eat most of the fruit and save a lot of the seeds at the same time, to be shared with someone else could make a difference. With time and the right selection process, community gardens and rooftop buildings with all tenants taking care of their own food supplies would be possible.

“YES!” exclaimed the President. “Exactly! This is exactly what I envision as well!”

“This,” grandma Lisa said stiffly, “is what I was trying to say in 2014.”

“And we should have listened,” President Briggs quietly admitted, meaning every word as she patted my grandmother’s hands.

After that, gran took the President, the First Gentleman and some of their staff down the muddy path to see the orchard, greenhouse and Southeast field while my mother got to work preparing gran’s famous cucumber dressing which we paired with a summer salad topped with edible pansies; it was gran’s showcase meal, if she ever had one. As she did that, I started peeling the apples for gran’s “Awesome Rawsome Applesauce” for dessert enjoying the sunshine streaming through the partially open kitchen window, a breeze slightly flicking the lace curtains. I smiled. Today was a new day.

December 4, 2014

No and I don’t know.

Yesterday was Touched By Fire.

I finished work at noon and had between then and 3:30pm to roll enough joints for the night, figure out where to eat, co-ordinate all this with my mom and get myself ready, which not only often involves multiple wardrobe changes, but more importantly, well-timed pharmaceuticals, and I was freaking at twelve-oh-one because I didn’t know where to start. I started by rolling joints and listening to bad hip hop because medication of all kinds is the most important thing to not leave the house with and I’ve been known to take a VERY long time to do this, even with a rolling machine, so yeah, started there. As I got to about my 2nd (of a planned 5) joint, Blake got home with lunch from Fresh-A-Fare, which I had really really wanted when I asked him to bring it home half an hour prior, but since I hadn’t had a ton of time to actually medicate between then and when he got home, my stomach just wasn’t ready for it so we ended up leaving it in the fridge for Wes for dinner if he wanted it, which he would because it was a ham and cheese sandwich and turkey with wild rice soup and he eats like me, so he’d be all about it.

As Blake ate and I rolled, we watched Once Upon a Story in Wonderland because it’s free on this trial Netflix type deal we have right now, and when the episode was over, Blake went to the bathroom to start getting read and I so, so stupidly checked e-mail and Facebook. And that is how I learned that my friend, Jeff Depew, the drummer from Scratching Post, had passed away. As some of you know, I was sort of the band’s first unofficial mascot/panty girl/merch bitch who did a lot of touring with them and became very good friends with everyone involved. I was/am shocked and saddened by the news of Jeff’s passing and however it happened, it is my hope that it was peaceful. I found out at around 2:30pm and had to be out the door at 3:30pm. At first I almost didn’t go. Just didn’t feel like partying or having a good time or being social. Then I almost went in overalls, which in hindsight I probably should have, it’s what I’d originally wanted to wear, but I settled on the same thing I wore on our attempt to see Book of Mormon, which had been thwarted by a blizzard so the outfit had never been seen before.

It took me half an hour to do my makeup because makeup won’t stick to tears, no matter how much primer you try to use. I’m a very simple lipstick-top-lid-eyeliner-one colour of shadow-mascara kinda gal. Makeup usually takes 10 mins, tops.

Anyway, traffic was hellacious and it was becoming apparent that we’d be late, so I texted my mom who said they were running late too, which I figured because that’s how my mother rolls. We get to the parking lot and it’s 100 km away from the restaurant we were meeting at and it’s blowing snow and I’m in a skirt. That walk made me so unhappy, especially since at the time my mother kept texting me from the restaurant about stuff as I’m trying not to get hit by cars or drop my phone or get it wet. Finally I literally told her to “stfu lol” and eventually we got to the restaurant.

We went to this St. Louis Grill place that I don’t think I’d ever bother with again unless I had to. Typical chain, with tiny across-from-Skydome Toronto portions and prices. I did eat a piece of macaroni and cheese wrapped in bacon and deep-fried that was pretty wonderful but I forgot to bring enzymes with me and really really should not be eating something like that anyway.

After eating, we went to the show. I went there. I saw that my painting was in the very back corner in the dark where it belonged. I looked at everyone else’s stuff, some good, some not so good but overall WAY better selections than previous years, then I parked my ass at the bar where I could see people looking at my painting (but turned my back to it because I couldn’t look) and see when they did the speeches. Speeches were uneventful except that this year there were prizes and our old friend from town here, Brian, won an honourable mention in his category and his girlfriend won best of show for her category.

After the speeches and awards and stuff, the place cleared out pretty fast. It wasn’t like previous years at all. See, something happened. I don’t know what but last fall there was some drama surrounding the show and suddenly touchedbyfire.CA was NOT the place to go, but touchedbyfire.CO and there was a mad scramble to get sponsors and find a space. It seemed like too much drama for me so I didn’t enter. This year it was run with the same group as last year and I noticed a lot of familiar artist faces missing, which seemed odd to me. I mean, this show has its regulars and I didn’t see two of its most prominent ones represented there last night. The bust for Rebecca Burkhardt, the person in whose remembrance this event takes place, was also missing, or at least I didn’t see it anywhere. Her dad was there though.

Before we left the show, Blake and John went around the room to see if anything had sold and only 2 things had, one being the most inexpensive piece in the show.

While the quality of work this year was definitely better, the experience wasn’t. There was no printed catalogue, which is really the only reason I go, just printed postcards with instructions for people to use their phones to take pictures of the QR codes beneath them or whatever they’re called, to pull up basically this page. That makes sense for the paintings being up in the gallery for a month but the show should have had a printed catalogue, especially since if I sell my piece, I’m giving them 20% and I want certain things, like show catalogues, for them to deserve that 20%. There were also no name tags for artists which was a mixed blessing. Every other year I turn mine around as not to be identified but this year I was trying to get up the courage to actually speak to people, to sell that damn thing, and them approaching me first would have been better.

The show’s been running 8 years, my first time was the 2nd year and I think I’ve been in it a total of 5 times. Last night marked only the 2nd time I’d submitted anything that was actually for sale and I really really need to sell this piece or make money from it somehow, in order to complete my next project before I get frustrated by money and logistics that I give up.

Anyway, here’s my painting and what I wore and how far away I was away from my painting at all times. THE END.

PS. I also invited my brother and his girlfriend to dinner and the show but he never even replied. I have no idea why, I haven’t done anything to him and we haven’t had a fight, so wtf? This hurts me a lot more than it should and was on my mind all night.

PPS. If you want to buy my painting, help me make BETTER art and see my awesome artist statement, click here.