Smokewound (tease)

July 2021

A short missive catching some ideas that I didn't have time to weave together as much as I'd like to. Here's the link to the original on patreon.

So, this month ended up being pretty wild and hectic and I honestly havent had any time to write. I havent got as much as usual to offer up to y'al!

A little behind-the-scenes talk: The 3edc column on my laptop’s keyboard has been on the fritz for the whole year, and this month I finally got myself to take it over to the repair shop, which is where my laptop is right now as I'm posting. There are only two writing sessions in this newsletter. The first one is my normal gush to get ideas down, done in my laptop a few weeks ago via my special little 60% mechanical keyboard that has made writing feasible so far. The second is on a flight to Olympia, typed out in my phone in the notes app.

I was considering for a bit that I'd post a draft of this smokewound idea then post a fuller one sometime next month, but the more I think about it, the more it feels like the idea is bigger than this newsletter space. And it feels disingenuous to me to be doing newsletter writing so far past the thing happening. So this is going to be all I'm putting up for this month. I do intend to flesh this out more, but we'll just have to wait and see what the future holds for it.

Thanks as always for the support, whether that's in eyes or dollars. I'd still like to move off patreon to my website (I think?), but obviously I haven't had time to do that at all lol. Anyway, here's what I've got.


This month is July, and the main two things on my mind are the smoke and my wounds.

I’m struggling coming off of the information that the CIA basically funded affect theory and mfa programs as we know them, literally promoting “sensations, experiences, and memories.” What am i to do with this information, when that’s all i write about? What else do I have to say?

I’m staring this newsletter by eating a slice of our half-moon cake: a round of Annie’s box funfetti cake mix cut in half and stacked with a ganache filling & topping, paired with some stolen vanilla ice cream, coincidentally assembled at the half-moon.

The wounds I mainly mean are the many tattoos I've opened up this month. Four of them are from my dear, often-referred-to Scout, and the other three are from my incredibly skilled friend Jasan. All seven are on my right side.

Scout started with touch-ups, reopening an open hand above my ankle bone. It was something like three years ago that Scout was doing this thing where you gave him three words and he’d come up with a tattoo for you on the spot. You decided whether you wanted to see the image before it got pinned on you forever. I wish I could remember the words I said, something pretty probably, something about girlness. We held off on resparkling the three colored crosses above the hand. Blue, Green, Red, easier to pull out the colored ink at the end.

Next was the one on my arm, “Quotidian”, maybe you remember it. It was inside this year, so I’ve already rambled about it here in my letters. More dots in the letters, fresh and crisp again, raised from the rest of my skin, pulled out by the pricking. It’s been a week and it’s peeling now, little sloughy skin dots rubbed across my skin when i do my twice daily lotion.

He did my goose vase next. Before I cave and text him asking who the artist was, I scroll all the way back in our instagram exchange to the first moment he sent me the image, and find this gem from him: “my perfect disgustingly soft transsexual goose vase body”. I text and he says "eva zeisel!"

What ends up the final poke is a vessel from one of his many flash sheets, a corked jug which I imagine to be well-worn and comforting ceramic, with a leafy heart design on the exterior, blasted into my upper inner arm. So phenomenally painful, exactly what I wanted. Perhaps inside something is fermenting, but I'll never know, and in the meantime I'll have fun wondering.

We had planned for a long ceramic sword, the one from the first volume of Nausicaa that Kushana sliced in half, but our proximity was cut short by a covid scare. I wasn't exposed, just full of complicated feelings. Oh well, someday.

The colored lights from my leg hand, left unsparkled.

The smoke is a different kind of wound, certainly longer. Ann Helen Peterson ellucidates it clearer than I could what this special mourning feels like in her newsletter. "What it feels like to lose your favorite season"

The bakery is of course still a wide open wound desperately trying to heal, that I can’t not address. Things are worse and worse, and if you want any more reasons that the co-op is totally fucked just ask me, I don’t want to list them all here. In lieu of quitting outright, I decided to go to severe part-time to keep the discount and remain able to contest the OSHA resolutions. On my “last day in the bakery”, which, like my pervious last days in the bakery wasn’t actually my last day, we looked out the window to see blue sky for the first time in over a week. We walked outside and saw out in front of us the unobscured hills. I turned to the left and still saw a monolith of smoke towering over the street. We were at the edge of it, and for the first time I understood the full dimensionality of it, the way the wind pushed and pulled it into shape.

The next day we rode with a friend I hadn’t seen since before the pandemic to Spokane for a haircut for Olivia. It was, uh, very stressful. We were very late and that set the tone but we still managed to have fun.

Being so far north, Spokane wasn’t smokey at all, and for a moment we fantasized that it was over, but back in the car going south I texted scout and he said “smoky i don’t like it” and sure enough as we drove we saw the hills get more and more obscured. Miserable.

I had to go get groceries that day. I worry my respirator and an old man asked me about sweet potatoes in the produce section. He was curious about the mask, he fought in Vietnam, has a lot of trouble breathing. I give him the respirator info and he writes it on his little clipboard. He asks my name and for the first time someone says "oh, Fran from Francis?" He asks if that's with an i or an e, and I say I got it from my grandfather, so an e. He pulls a tiny laminated copy of the prayer of saint francis of assisi from his wallet, and I say it's a noble inheritance to be sure. He says he started praying in Vietnam and we joke about hedging bets.

I ended up quitting the coop at the end of the first part-time week. Big catharsis alone in the bakery for 5 hours before I left. Sobbing, smashing, screaming, barefoot dancing on the bread table. I'm glad for the time, it let me process a lot of the shit I had with that place.

The last night Scout was in town we met at the arboretum and watched the sun go down on the smokey palouse while "sharing" two halves of a joint. We stretched out into the darkness on a blanket and suddenly the moon appeared from behind an smoked-over cloud. We did a blood moon blanky mode tarot star. Big feelings, a long distance apart sprawled out ahead. A goodbye with no hugs but a hand hold.

The next week I started in the kitchen at One World, which is just great. A guy who worked in the coop kitchen an eon ago comes in and says to me, "yeah, once you quit that place it's like you get your soul back." He's right.

The same week I started nannying for two very cool and lovely girls. I drive them out to a farm. We mix cookies together and dance while they bake.

Jasan tattooed a match on my wrist, blackened at the end with a fresh-blood-into-maroon flame. She's apprenticing at the moment and doing her free flashes, and I cannot say enough how good she's doing! An absolute joy to be tattooed by her.

I have a red ring that wraps around my wrist that the match intersects with. It was done by Nick, the guy mentoring her, and I've made it to mean something like transgirlpower, the comforting energy of existing with friends with ease. It's been a while, so Jasan touched it up too, and while she was at it did the red starburst behind a little dagger on my forearm.

The smoke has come and gone all month. There was a day where it lifted and we had an iced tea downtown. There was a day where it rained for a few minutes in the morning and we saw and heard and felt a single crack of lightning through our downstairs window. There was a day where nothing noteworthy happened, but we woke up with dry throats and headaches from the window being open overnight to cool the apartment.

The day before we left to fly to Olympia the smoke was as bad as ever, AQI somewhere between 70 and 170, depending on which of my four apps I check. I put on my respirator and bike to the USPS, to walgreens, to the girls house, to the computer repair shop, and I come home red in the face, out of breath, exhausted, and fall asleep on the couch.

It's so bad but I finally read the article Callum mentioned at the "trans in place" event. "No Good Grief: Ecstatic Counter-Mapping" by Knar Gavin. It's a strong and important reminder that climate grief is apathetic and not going to get us anywhere. We need to know we will get through this, and that togehter we need to fight to make the world into what we want it to be. I need to reread it again, drill this sinking sorrow out of my head.

Ok well, there's so much I haven't mentioned, but the plane has landed. I'm going to go lay in the woods and sniff the ocean.

Until next month,
Love you,