If this is incoherent or sort of crazed-sounding, please excuse my sleep deprivation. We're just so happy he's happy.
Will probably resume normal posting next week.
More Felix Progress
At the moment he's doing better than we are because he gets plenty of rest and attention. His recovery has been astounding really; a week after surgery he's doing 5 K walks and hills with us and is pretty much back to normal behaviour. He's able to do this because he was largely walking on three legs for two weeks before his op and isn't starting from scratch with the new gait, but still: all credit to you, Foofie. The only drama we've had is one munched stitch. The white thing on his back is the Fentanyl patch that was removed a day or so ago.
If this is incoherent or sort of crazed-sounding, please excuse my sleep deprivation. We're just so happy he's happy.
Will probably resume normal posting next week.
It's been a very tense week but Felix has had his amputation and has come through it with flying colours so far. He had the leg off on Wednesday and has been at home recovering ever since. He's up and walking today (thurs), which is great.
Thank you everyone who sent good vibes his way. Still far too shattered to post much and need to supervise him closely for the next 10 days til the stitches come out, but I will write a wee piece about this process that will hopefully help someone else faced with the same decisions.
Good luck with your recovery, Foofie. We love you.
Update 15/8: After a few exams he looks like he's clear of cancer elsewhere so we're going to amputate the right back leg as there is a decent-to-good prognosis for this presentation. He's a good candidate for three-leggedness since he's light, strong and fit with no known skeletal issues. We are very sad to lose one of his lovely legs but tremendously grateful to keep the rest of him. We both thought we were going to stroke out yesterday waiting for the clinical opinion.
Fingers and toes and junk all crossed for the operation on Thursday.
Update 18/8: We decided to get a CT scan before going ahead with an op to check the exact extent of the tumour etc and are still waiting on the results of that. It's fucking expensive but so much better to know and be able to plan any procedure before busting out a knife rather than getting a nasty surprise during. Hoping it's operable but we have to have decent margins. All the extremities are crossed.
Update 19/8: Tomography + all the other extensive testing showed a soft tissue sarcoma that is quite large but contained in the leg so at this point, no metastasis = great chance of a normal lifespan after amputation and we're going with that option. Frantically reading up on the procedure and aftercare etc. Felix is doing well, still running, playing etc., thankfully oblivious. I mean, this is why we didn't spot it sooner unfortunately but hopefully that same fizzy attitude will help his recovery. Op will be either Monday or Wednesday. Stress levels: intergalactic. Chocolate and cannabis: we thank you.
Drawing the collar of her new green parka closed, Susan walked as quickly as the broken ground permitted past the arcing neon moth as though it were some mythic peril, a Scylla sans Charybdis amid brick as slick and black as cobra scales. The club door stood unmanned, as was usual before the customarily tardy entrée of its loathsome impressario. She scuffed the far wall of the alley with her sleeve and hurried on, chin almost to her chest, slowing to study the wall for the low-set trompe l’oeil panel painted into it. Looking down, she saw that she was standing in a puddle the colour of fly-blown flesh and grimaced silently; she shaped her right fist with the help of her left hand and thumped it against the sodden wood.
Leaning forward, she thought that she detected the faintest suggestion of movement from the passage inside beneath the dull bass throb from the Moth itself. A shudder through the monstrous timbers hurried her backward.
“What th’ cott’n pickin fuck?” the occupant demanded from the shelter of its hide.
“It's Susan.” she told it. "I need to talk to you." The vampyre’s gloating chuckle passed through the wood between them as it worked the latch; she felt the violent grinding of the iron in her chest, remembered details of the creature's brutality toward her churning in her gut.
Without its slathered cosmetics, Siobhan’s face possessed a strange, hypoxic blandness, an anonymity more startling than the corrupt theatricality she had braced for, and at first she attributed her surprise to this irregular state. But while Susan marked its surroundings in perfect detail, the vampyre presented as an insistent anomaly, like a sun-bleached watercolour, blanched and impoverished. It stood squinting back at her, dark little eyes narrowing with its tongue-stuffed smirk in an expression of dismal delight, then froze like a jammed film, before leaning forward from the doorway and peering hard in both directions.
“Heh heh heh... them critters’ll bounce ye off a stiff dick soon’s ye core temp takes a fuckin nose-dive.” it chuckled. “Ye kin fuckin thank meh, an git back on ye wey.”
“Either let me in or I’ll go and make a fucking scene in there.” she insisted, nodding toward the Moth, a tiny lateral flinch afflicting her for a second; it was enough to trip the vampyre’s seasoned guard and it snapped out an arm for the door, too late, Edward pinning it to the wall with his boot while he caught the creature's throat. Susan bent low, turning quickly to heave the huge bolt back into place after them.
Adrenaline carried her down into the darkness, the sound of Siobhan's wheezy carping extinguished by the grip on its neck. On the landing Edward set the shotgun from the boot of his sedan against the wall and used a finger to enjoin silence, listening to the contents of the chamber beyond the dark arched door before holding up three fingers for her benefit. She nodded, half-comprehending, the flagrant reality of his intention transpiring only as he walked her back against the wall and stooped to retrieve the firearm.
He shouldered open the door with no more urgency or duress than some familiar invitee, the two figures smoking methamphetamine before the vanity looking up at him with pipes poised between their fingers, the feeble candle flame as still in the darkness of their eyes as it was in the dead air of the chamber. The tallest broke first, snatching a pistol from the foot of the mirror, only to lose the offending hand then two thirds of its shrieking head to the shotgun, its skull arrayed like an egg struck by a stone against the chalky wall. In the bright flash of the closely-coupled blasts the second vampyre dived onto all fours, making a scrabbling dash for the door; Edward kicked it onto its side as it scurried past and swung the hinged wood, the creature's squeals becoming a high scream, its shoulders, spine and ribcage crunched like seashell between it and the frame. Siobhan's hands clawed at his throttling grip as Edward set down the shotgun, turning both his attention and a freshly-drawn forty-five toward the portiére curtain. He listened intently, shifted his aim to the right and discharged the weapon twice into the heavy fabric. It sagged outward, permitting the fugitive to topple forward, stolen blood expanding slowly across the flags beneath its featureless corpse.
Susan's muffled voice was resolved as he heaved the door back, the vampyre's oily remains dropping wetly to the stone though some stuck fast to the black wood where they were most condensed. She jumped over the glistening mound of offal into the dirty glow of the chamber, lifting the collar of her parka against the thick, webbed stench of corruption, like something shouted in her face, gelling on her tongue like cold fat. Edward released the vampyre's throat and threw it to the floor, where it lay, cursing shrilly under the boot he planted on its back. Rendered in the disparaging colours of Susan's new perception, neither the expectorating creature nor the remains laid out in the shadows of the curtain and the vanity table inspired much more than simple disgust, the latter's catastrophic, widely-broadcast misfortune almost completely abstracted by the effect.
“I can see them...” she exclaimed, holding out a hand for comparison. “Vampyres... they stick out like dog’s bollocks...” Stepping forward, she scraped the pistol from the jellied gore with the toe of her boot and scooted it across the floor toward him.
“Lydia said you might develop an eye.” Edward replied as he trussed Siobhan’s ankles with the green sash of its robe.
"Dralna paramedic.” Pausing, he tossed a pair of shells from his pocket onto the ground by the shotgun. “Reload.”
“I don’t know how.”
“Learn.” He hoisted Siobhan from the flags and looped the sash over the lowest tine of the sooty candelabra overhead, tying it off so that the vampyre hung like a vanquished game fish, its robe and slip of jewel-green satin flapping down over its head. It hacked and spat and fixed them both with an inverted scowl.
“Least ah kilt that piece as close t’ fuckin dead as she gonna git fer th’ fuckin ferseeable.” it croaked, batrachian grin aimed squarely at Susan. She struggled to break the shotgun with both hands before the carousing Arabs and placid tigers on the wall behind her, replying without looking up from her task.
“I survived, you idiot.”
Siobhan questioned its ears in a moment of silence, its almost stately spin beneath the candelabra directing it toward Edward.
“'Suff'rable fuckin hellion... ye nev'r did hev no respect fer th’ nat’ral fuckin order... resurrectin poontang... how many fuckin chickens died fer that shit?”
Edward reclaimed the shotgun, employing his customary monotone.
"You seem almost surprised to see us."
"Aint ev'reh day ye bring a sahde a fuckin gash t' tune a blameless fuckin by-stander!"
“This is not a social call. The sooner you comply, the sooner we can leave town with your life savings.”
“Go rob mah fuckin cash drawer lahk every oth’r fuckin crackhead!” the vampyre croaked.
“Just give us the fucking money..." Susan insisted. Siobhan seized on her intervention, spitting from the maw that had rent her flesh.
“Ye kin suck mah cold dead cock b'fore ah tek orders from a chickenhead bitch on her dirty fuckin rag... tek more then yew t' poke th' fuckin lahks a meh! Ah were tradin simple gash fer needful shit since fuckin Noah quit crappin off the port sahde... shoulda chugged ye harder while ah hed the fuckin chance!"
The salty insult returned Edward's gaze to Susan. She stooped to collect the door brace from the ground and strode past him with it in both hands, swinging the iron back over her shoulders. It struck the helpless vampyre on the full and then again, ringing dully with the weight she threw behind the blows, her arms burning, the corybantic joy of dealing agony bruited like streaks of sky-bound sulphur by the rhythm of her strokes, the dead flesh thuds and beaten grunts baring her own teeth. At first the creature screwed its black eyes shut and weathered the broadsides with a hoary veteran's resolve, though it grew far less supportable, driven by her white-faced rage, loosening her victim's grip on its own sorely-goaded animus. It thrashed and writhed within its binding flesh, snapping and foaming at her beneath the chandelier and she whipped it with the iron until her arms were almost lost to her, snarling back at it. Edward raised a hand to spare his face the blood flung from the brace while the vampyre relinquished defiance and hung slackly, expressing a low, hollow sound of such inarticulate character that she would have mistaken it for the scurl of groaning pipes if she had not stood before its source. With her face clenched like a fist, she battered the creature’s knees into a bagged and shapeless purple sludge and opened wet black gashes across its thighs, returning to its midriff for good measure before being halted by her failing grip upon the iron. Susan leant over the brace to catch her breath, glancing back at Edward's silence. If she had looked to him for judgement he offered none, handing her instead a half-spent taper from the vanity with an attitude of ascetic, pristine detachment.
“Say it with me. My name is Susan Ellen Christabel, and I am an apex predator.” he told her.
Her victim swayed in the heat that boiled about the flame, still swinging faintly from her final stroke, the candlelight a slick, licking gold upon the viridescent satin swagged against its battered form. Its hem curled out toward her almost in invitation. Edward's terrible smile had defrayed his impassivity, his eyes an eldritch shade of electrum and she felt their wildest qualities glowing in her own. Wax bled over the back of her fist, stiffening swiftly. For an instant she saw terror in the vampyre's gaze and felt herself its object; she wiped unwitting blood across her chin and the smell belted the milkshake from her stomach, throwing her forward and ejecting an arcing stream that slopped onto the stone beneath the creature. She shook the candle from her grasp as she spat, groping for the edge of the portiére curtain in the darkness and wiping her face. A thick black rill escaped her victim’s little pug nose and pooled in its eye for a moment before dripping from its forehead. Susan held onto the curtain while her stomach threatened further action, turning her face from the smell of the vampyre on the ground beneath it.
“Does it even have any money down here?”
In answer, her companion stepped over the body he had left beneath the drape, pushed it back and disappeared, returning with an ancient, seal-grey safe that he dragged over the flagstones, the steel screeching and sparking on the granite. At the sight of it, Siobhan writhed from the sash that bit into its ankles, exasperated profanities growing less comprehensible with the fruitless violence of its struggle; as if in sympathy, the perforated corpse under the curtain began to tic and shudder.
“You only let me go to piss Nyāti off.” Susan assured Edward, frowning as the inspiration struck her obliquely. “How fucking thick am I?”
“Dummer then a fuckin shitpost if ye think that dirty snakeface aint gonna do yew lahk he fucking durn us.” the vampyre spluttered brokenly.
“Shut your fucking cakehole." she told it.
“Combination.” Edward demanded, his stare an analogue to the grasp he maintained on the gun.
“I kint re...”
The first two syllables of Siobhan’s prevarication discharged the weapon at the left side of its head, leaving a tar-coloured hole the size of a fist where its ear had been and dressing the distant wall with mottled tissue, setting the vampyre off in a spin. Susan kept her hands to her own ears as it slowed, offered an alternating view of Siobhan’s unilateral disfigurement while it spluttered out the numbers Edward required. Sounds of sucking liquid movement, of wet constriction and release gurgled distantly and yet issued indisputably from within its inverted person.
“Hurry up... I think something’s happening...” she hissed. The sight of the vampyre's throat, distended to the thickness of its head when he looked up, inspired Edward to rise and drag the safe toward the door.
Almost as he did so its mouth fell open and loosed a lapsing, fetid freshet onto the flagstones at the impartial behest of gravity, emptying the great elastic sinus in the vampyre's torso of its horrible capacity. Susan leapt back and scrambled up onto the padded stool before the vanity, watching the black slick wash around the folded legs of the corpse beneath. The stench besieged her; as she retched against her hands the wormy stool frame cracked and pitched her forward, forcing her to jump down into the sludgy pond of blood. Turning his shoulder against the thick splash from her boots Edward heaved open the safe while she stumbled over the mephitic remains crushed in the doorway, skidding wildly on its squandered fluids. She caught a hold of Siobhan’s dress rack, a sequined sheath coming away in her hand while the rest toppled into the spill.
The rank alley seemed alpine-sweet to her when she burst out of the passage under the eaves, flapping her parka to throw off the stench that seemed to mouth them even as Edward propped the trompe l’oeil panel shut with a broken crate. The bag from the safe weighed half as much as she did, stuffed tightly with soiled, looted currency; he hoisted it onto his shoulder and hung the shotgun from his elbow, swinging it toward a pair of gossiping vampyres descending the steps of the club. They froze, dumping a shower of wallets and credit cards into the skirt that Susan held at his command before reversing through the door. She hurried after Edward, shaking the scaly, Persian-green sequins of Siobhan's gown from her arm.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
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very much worth your time. see more here
The last hours of the afternoon had drawn enough heat from the sun to recall a more vernal incarnation by the time they had found the nominated café, visiting on the pedestrian leg of their journey a hunting boutique that had caught Edward’s unfailing eye. Susan found herself encumbered with an oil-green anorak and gaiters in spite of her stony-faced opposition, and humped the glossy bag through wrought-iron tables into the shade of a plane tree pressed between two blocks of gentrified brick. Despite her annoyance she was struck by the figure awaiting them in the spotted shade, enclosed in an elegant dove-grey trench, a heavy string of fat, vivid turquoise beads wound around the pallor of her neck. Nyāti watched Edward leave room for Susan across the table from her and the latter sat down before them, forming the notion that the two seemed like halves of the same forbidding animal. They spoke quietly to one another, exchanging some cursory greeting. Susan glanced at the menu and conferred her selection to a waiter, frowning at Nyāti's unblinking interest.
“She seems to have survived your strenuous attempts to dispatch her.” the latter remarked cooly, the disclosure prompting Susan to look purposefully toward Edward.
“Young people today.” he replied. “I’m prepared to accept the commission, but I don’t get out of bed for less than a hundred thousand US per individual, inclusive of disposal and a limited schedule of expenses. She'll float as she is. I'll need a new chainsaw.”
“I'm less inclined than you to throw money at Sachiin’s mistakes.” said Nyāti, clearly weary of the subject.
Susan sat with her bags propped on her lap.
“And I don't really want to die just at the moment.” she scowled. “Mind you, I haven’t been forced to wear this yet.” she added, shaking the anorak out of its plastic cowl and holding it up in both hands. “He did have a go at killing me, but he’s either going soft in his old age or he forgot the bullets and just didn’t want to say anything.”
“You must have been born lucky.” Nyāti replied to her facetiousness. Susan shrugged.
"I suppose we can't all be perfect."
“We’re leaving sometime in the next two weeks. I suggest you do the same.” said Edward.
“I’m going today. Frankfurt, and then on to Nepal... if I see no articulate creature for another century, I will consider myself blessed.” She seemed to have at last expressed a sentiment to which he could subscribe; Nyāti steered their conversation into unintelligibility, and Susan set down her bags and made for the bar in the rear of the converted terrace. Seating herself at the counter, she nodded to the barman’s offer of a lager and answered her phone, relieved to hear William’s voice over strident rocksteady.
“Packed up?” she inquired.
“Getting there.” He sounded weary, half-troubled.
“Nothing... just... baked.”
“Make sure none of them drive the truck into town with a bong in their face because I don’t think today’s the day we need to be bailing anyone out or having things confiscated.” she sighed, sipping the froth on her beer. “Someone cleaned out your brother’s bank vault thingy, and mine... he’s not very happy.”
William let the phone fall for a moment.
“Is he still talking?”
“Don’t let him go quiet... distract him.” A waiter emerged from the kitchen with her order and she slid down from the stool, following him out.
"You're scaring me now. What is it, for god’s sake?”
“Frost’s gone.” he sighed. “She lost her shit and ran. I couldn’t stop her.”
“You mean you didn’t try."
“Christabel, if she’d wanted to be chained to a headboard... I think we both know how that sentence ends. We’ll just... let him find out for himself...”
She choked on a mouthful of beer.
“Are you mad? He’ll go absolutely fucking mental!”
“We don't know that... maybe he’s... already over it...” William pressed his palm to his eye, despairing at the pathetic nature of the assurance.
“Your brother is a six foot four inch repressed homicidal maniac who never deals with anything! He just told me that himself! Have you stood next to him lately? Do you know how big he is? I'm stuck here with him...”
“We’re all the same size.”
“The only person he ever listens to just pink slipped his arse and went back on the fucking stroll.”
“You should have made Lilian tell him... this is her bloody mess.” she complained. “I have to go... I only ordered steak so I could eat it in front of Nyāti. I’ll tell him, alright? Just... don't do anything else stupid.”
Back at the table, her companions' implacable antipathy transformed the consumption of her jus-dressed rib eye into the defilement of some echoing sanctum beneath the sacred golden gazes of its statuary. Only the urging of her own biology allowed her to press on, hunching over her plate and sawing quickly at the grilled flesh while her eyes fell to the highest element in the scarified design descending from the base of Nyāti's throat. Beneath the turquoise beads it spiraled in two opposing directions before disappearing under her collar, suggesting curving horns, or some double headed serpent. Her substance had resisted exile, existing in its impossibly distant remove like strung pearls recalling the forsaken sea. Susan could see something of the same in Edward, though the loss had closed over inside him.
“What of Rana?” Nyāti asked, returning to their conversation.
“I don't possess the authority to question her divine imperative.” he replied.
“So you leave her to these creatures. And what becomes of this unprincipled preoccupation of your own? Which imperatives prevail in her respect?” Nyāti replied to his silence with an incisive stare. “Another fortunate soul. You must both treasure the thought you gave to the consequences of your patronage before extending it. Will you hand her directly to the interested parties before you go, or let her think she has a start on them?”
“You’d say the same thing if I were forcing her to leave with me.” he told her. She frowned faintly at his response, following his gaze as though hearing something more.
“Until now, I would have never suspected you of wanting to.” she assured him. “Whoever she is, Kala'amātya... let her go. None of this becomes you.”
“Speaking of expedient repudiations, have you heard anything from Avi'ashān, or does he cease to have ever been?”
Nyāti accepted the retaliation with the same dark brand of contained displeasure, retaining his attention as she set down her glass, the sun casting shifting white refraction through its contents onto the table cloth. She stood up.
“There is blood on your face.” she informed Susan, by way of farewell. Fishing a mirror from her handbag, the latter wiped at the corner of her mouth, glancing across to Edward, who had sat back in his chair and lapsed into staring in the direction of the bar.
"Cow." she muttered. She nursed what remained of her beer and then drained it, reclaiming his attention with the grave use of his name, glad of the table between them, and of the strangers sitting behind her. “I was just talking to William, and... I don't know how to say this, so... Lilian left this morning. I mean, for good. I'm sorry.”
She was deeply relieved that he did not seem surprised. Edward's gaze fell to the table, then moved slowly past her, losing itself in the distant dust-red of the brick wall. That he did not wish to speak was plain, but he did so, in recognition of her struggle.
“In’sha’Allah.” he said quietly, the phrase weighted with such charred fatalism that she yearned to contradict him.
“Did you ask her to come with us?”
“I can offer her nothing more than Sachiin offers you.” The admission settled like a pair of cold hands on her face and she was reminded of the first time she had spoken to him, though it was the absence and not the weight of sanction that impressed her, the knowledge that her observations enjoyed passage after all, alighting within him in unseen forms.
"It couldn't have been easy for her to go." she sighed. "But if she has..." A breeze shifted the slender, half-denuded branches overhead; she abandoned her suggestion and brushed the leaves from the auction catalogue he had neglected, thumbing aimlessly through the pages, absorbing little of its contents and returning to the cover image of a slender Tibetan Avalokiteśvara figure carved of smoke-stained wood, long robes sinuously plicated, the swept curvature of her gaze reprised in Edward’s. She remembered William's advice about his silence and forced herself to intrude upon it once more. “Gideon’s stuff does look incredibly stolen.” She turned the featured image toward him. "That looks like your grandmother.”
“Our grandmother went into the sea when Sachiin was born.”
“My god... why?"
“Two grandsons. Social death."
“And he’s almost a girl after all.” she smiled ruefully.
“I would say to tell her when you meet her, but she'll be in the hell for orthodox hypocrites, and you and Sachiin will be in the one for the people who never listened.”
“What about you?”
“I'm already there.”
Susan followed his lead out through the bar and across the road with her bags, catching him up in the shadow of their alley park. She let herself into the car uncertainly and looked through the window at him in section, his almost disembodied hands such fearsome artifacts though powerless to effect his only meaningful desire; he stood in a darkness he saw nothing of, rain-curled bills fluttering on the walls behind him. Content to allow him the time he needed, she lay back in her seat, remonstrating mentally with Lilian and William until her companion stooped to join her.
"SUV twats." she muttered, directing his glance to the rear view mirror. The party in question had parked across the mouth of the alley some way behind them, sealing it off; he released the brake, their wheels spinning then throwing them forward over wet cardboard and rotten pallet wood into the intersecting depths of a decrepit byway. "I don't think you can get out this way..." she warned, bracing her hands against the dash at the sight of a stockade of padlocked chain-link in the gloom before them. Choosing reverse, Edward drew them backward in an arc that halted in a bay adjacent to the alley, a forgotten sinus stuffed with sodden, discarded shapes of sheenless cinder-grey, cradled by towering conjunctions of Victorian brick. Fire escapes sagged like the blackened skeletons of giant reptiles blasted in the act of scaling the rust-streaked walls on either side.
She settled back into her seat, eyes wide in the darkness while her companion drew the slender case from alongside her legs and flipped it open. Staring blankly while he locked a series of satin-black elements together in both hands, she swore as it resolved into a elongate pistol, turning to struggle with her seat belt, prompting him to pause and lock her door remotely. The headlights of the pursuing vehicle played across the lower courses of the walls before them, the alley filling with the thick chug of its engine. He kicked open the door while Susan sank down at the sight of it edging past the black mouth of the bay, sliding into the footwell as the driver swept a spot across the brick and mounds of boxes, its hueless eye burning through the windscreen on the full as it slowed to a standstill. Edward stepped out from the wall into the beam and raised his pistol to the driver's window.
Five rounds flew in bursts of silver-white and the hard, cuffing knock of struck steel, denatured by the suppressor but still so loud that she contracted into a ball and covered her head with both arms. The sound of Edward's stride preceded him; he swung the weapon to cool it as he returned, drawing open the door and bringing with him the narrow, needling smell of scorched metal.
"Get up." he told her, the words dulled by the whine in her ears. She demurred, remaining in her static hunch until his fingers changed their grip upon the gleaming object in their grasp, spurring her to crawl back quickly into her seat. He gazed at her wordlessly as he resumed his own behind the wheel. Susan sat without moving before reaching across to instate her seat belt.
The bleeding neon flare left on her retinas by muzzle-flash spared her the sight of the remaining vehicle as they edged past its tail lights. Daylight, however vestigial, flushed so much from the encounter that she found she could look out as though blameless, impunity settling around them like loosed down, sinister in its weightlessness and alkaline inside her mouth.
"Is it better when you're angry, or when you're getting paid?" she asked, the words dragging as though melted by the effort of marshaling coherence and he offered no response.
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
© céili o'keefe do not reproduce
* Read the Book onsite * Go directly to this chapter *
A wee bit of context: this is New Zealand. We have a general election coming up in September and we are staring down the barrel of another neoliberal term of pathetic social injustice- expanding poverty, homelessness and environmental degradation at the hands of the farming and mining lobby. Borrowing to buy groceries, watching your/your childrens' opportunities for secure employment and housing recede into the distance, our waterways choked with pollutants and our natural resources battered into nothingness; these are our everyday realities now. They might sound familiar to overseas punters and I want you to really, really understand that this is the whole fucking world and the picture you're being sold of this country by interested parties is complete and utter bollocks.
Recently, Green Party co-head Metiria Turei (now a lawyer) admitted lying about her situation whilst on a benefit (what we call welfare in NZ) in order to receive enough money to actually live on (she didn't tell welfare about her flatmates). I'm going to stick my hand up and say I don't know a single person who hasn't done this to one extent or another as a way of negotiating their survival while at the mercy of a system designed to be punitive and utterly inadequate. All while listening to plenty of rich people bragging about their trusts and their offshore shit and their tax-dodging workarounds.
So fuck everyone clutching their pearls about this. I've lived here long enough to know who's grifting our collective resources on a massive scale out of sheer fucking gluttony and who is just trying to make it into next week in an economic and social system stacked against anyone who's not already wealth-adjacent.
Toby Morris is a local artist with a social conscience and the ability to neatly encapsulate one of the ugliest facets of NZ society; its frustratingly glib and utterly internecine battle with itself. Its need to blame the victims of neoliberal insanity for the latter's inevitable outcomes. I hope he doesn't mind that I boosted his shit, because I'd like you to see it.
Thank you for listening. Share this and give Toby a hand job or something on Twitter. And vote, fellow NZenders. Ideally Labour or Green. The time for sitting on your fat arse and nekk weekin is gone.
Aim To Please is a toasty, somewhat ocherous, organic pink, appearing warm in most situations but possessing enough dusty-neutral DNA to pull slightly cool on certain complexions and in blueish light (see the swatch in front of the ivy); it definitely shifts a bit and in this case that's a nice, natural effect that keeps Kardashianmouth syndrome at arm's length. It's more universally suitable than something like MAC Mehr, Stone or Whirl, which can sink you to the tits in ashy regret. I went so far as to assign ATP to the resale pile for this median quality since I already own (and love) Nars Dolce Vita (yellower, pinker), until realising how similar it was to my treasured Nars Walkyrie, which I am having trouble backing up. ATP is slightly lighter and less dramatic than Walkyrie but the effect is samey enough. It's a really natural, widely-compatible walking-around shade and I appreciate it now more than initially.
Texturally, it goes on well, applying silicon-smoothly with none of the stiff drag of a bad matte. It feels lighter and slightly more flexible than the Nars pencils- pretty insubstantial really, which is either a bonus or a negative depending on personal preference. It's neither particularly drying nor at all emollient. While it might slightly emphasis your lip lines, Aim To Please looks objectively better than a lot of similarly-toned mattes, containing just enough lowlight lustre to be actually flattering rather than just plain flat. It doesn't look sprayed on from a fucking can, á la liquid mattes (shudder).
Even if the stubby, fat-arse tip shape on this windy pencil annoys me, there's nothing intrinsically bad about Aim to Please and I'll be keeping it. If it is generally representative of the MAC Velvetease line, the Nars pencil formula still comes out ahead IMO due to its superior richesse; it is denser, more pigmented and just feels a wee bit more luxe. I'm just biased in favour of a heavier, more hardcore-saturated product.
L2R All MAC unless specified: Russian Red, Aim to Please, Nars Walkyrie, Retro, Mocha,
Nars Dolce Vita (VM version) in a range of natural light
* RubyHue Lipstick Review *
If you know poodles, you probably know they're high-functioning fiends in nappy form who will test boundaries you didn't know existed and treat your life like a theme park for dogs should you permit it.
And we sort of do let Felix do that, which is our own fault. He's the kind of dog that flies over to the stereo when you're putting on a CD and then stands poised in front of a speaker to catch the music with his mouth. He employs sophisticated displacement routines when thwarted, taking his rope toy into the bedroom (where there is plenty of floorspace) and spinning with it in a violent, head-shaking circle, like a ninja with nunchucks, a process that helps him reject our judgement and expresses his inner turmoil. He has an alter-ago, blanketmonster, who emerges when his head is covered with any sort of cloth; blanketmonster is full of furious courage and master of all. If an underling should insist on booping his nose through the cloth, they will be subjected to many devastating raaahrings.
Felix started looking at the internet over my shoulder and soon realised it was dog-relevant, being cat-heavy and featuring a lot of unassuming prey animal content. I made the huge mistake of showing him huskies on Youtube and now he is an addict, insisting on two YT viewings per day. He's angry with me as I type this instead of getting onto far more pressing concerns such as talking parrots, pool full of ducks, dogs howling and the eternal leopards looking in mirrors.
The retriever drive is strong in Felix and he would stare at the fucking ducks in perpetuity if we let him. I think he understands that they are representational instead of absolutely real, but he still gets up and low-key looks for the animals once the laptop is closed, as though he feels slightly foolish doing so but just needs to make sure I don't have a duck stash under the bed.
I only ever really watched music and documentaries on YT until Felix began influencing our viewing habits. One shouldn't write it off completely as a cesspit of subcreatures- I mean... don't read the comments unless you are planning an end-of-life righteous killing spree, but there are small specks of pure visual and spiritual gold. Black Palm Cockatoos drumming to impress mates, for instance. And if watching (I think these are Rufus or Allen's) hummingbirds bathing en mass doesn't do anything for you, I'm not sure what will. Both Felix and I recommend the following pieces.
I think it will be another lipstick review this week unless something interesting happens. It's the deadest time of year for us so that's just how shit rolls right now.