In my dream I met someone I wanted to hook up with at a Yakitori stand. We were waiting in line and we had friends in common, though our friend groups were relatively separate. She felt both proximate and mysterious. And she seemed to be into me, too.
Because dreams tend to be both ambiguous and so specific that they are not always relatable, I'm going to skip to the end. I woke up and we had not hooked up. I went back to the party I had been hanging out at and talked with friends there about meeting her, friends I don't recognize in waking.
My friends and I were laughing about my chaotic follow-through. Like, why are you even back here if you want to hook up with this person? Did you even get her number? It looks like you completely abandoned the Yakitori idea. Aren't you hungry? My friends gently ribbed me about factors I honestly hadn't thought about because I was just acting on impulse and feeling intrigued.
I had a Nokia-like phone and kept trying to text her until I realized I didn't have her number. I could picture the stand and where it was located in relation to the house party I was at so clearly, but when I went back, the scene was different. It had become night and there was a party going on in the street.
There was an entire community of people in a city I knew intimately, its architecture and social dynamics somewhere between DC and New York. I knew what corner the stand was on, and who I could expect to see there. I saw this girl again, though I can't remember the circumstances or what we talked about.
The dream's ending was vague yet definitive. I enjoyed that night, and then it was over.
At eight in the morning yesterday, awake, I walked through my neighborhood. The church bell struck eight times and the crows cried. I felt like I was in a Victorian Gothic novel, far from the reaches of modernity, still in the grips of unresolved longing for friends both old and prospective.
I've been working too much! Haha. Not very funny. I look forward to its end. Building websites ain't easy. So, I've got some cool little things for y'all.
I received a sweet email from an old friend who's a subscriber with a request: an audio reading of my writing. So I did it! If you've got a request for what you want to see in this zine, please email me by responding to this email or sending a message here if you're reading this on the website.
If it's something I've done that you want to see me do again, or something you think would be cool if I tried, let me know. I can't promise I'll do everything, but I love your feedback and wanna be in touch to make this mutually meaningful.
Then I've got a video from a stream of mine where I played a haunted adventure game from the nineteen nineties. You know, the late twentieth-century.
The piece was originally released in issue Number Zero Zero. Back when I was doing very silly naming conventions. You can also read it below in this expandable content below and you can let me know if this design feature is totally annoying. A more accessible version of this would be a design where I can add text to the audio player itself, but I'll do my best with what I have right now.
Read the full text of "Ever"
ever wake up and the birds are too loud and everything is covered in fog and you are no longer human
ever feign indifference when you actually feel like a child harboring impure thoughts at the corner of the garden party
ever notice that fear doesn't compound itself, but it does accumulate and become living, a voice indiscernible from your own
ever abandon your human family and find new kin, only to realize hundreds of years later you've recreated the familial dynamics of your youth
ever amass wealth, but not as much wealth as your peers, whose vast estates exceed yours
ever become lost in jealousy even though you resent this form of existence
ever spend centuries coming close to truly changing the world only to lose momentum because your comrades die of old age and you get depressed
ever kill someone because they remind you of what you once were
ever kill someone because you didn't understand them
ever kill someone because you missed them so much
and it just kind of happened.
ever ask a friend to entomb you in concrete, at first as a joke, and then it got serious?
ever think back to a conversation, turn it over in your mind, and conclude that maybe you expressed too much enthusiasm about this concrete idea
ever laugh because your powers could easily extract you from this situation
ever laugh because you don't really want to free yourself
ever cry because you do want to escape, but you're afraid of what's out there, and down here there is no sun, there is no turning of the stars, no disapproving gaze
there's no mistaken admission, nor is there the haunting sound of voices you once knew.
Here's a recording of Demon Fairy from a recent issue available to subscribers, Accursed Sixteen. I've included the full text below.
Read the full text of "Demon Fairy"
We abandoned the warmth of the Pour House, a cozy and packed coffee shop twenty minutes down Main Street from McDaniel College, where I went to school in the early 2000's. Heather and I decided to leave the show we had just checked out to explore the wintry town. At 23, Heather was a few years older than me and she'd lived in Westminster most of her life. She was a cute bisexual white girl who liked faeries and magical objects.
I was one of the few people in my friend group to be close friends with Heather. Some of my friends considered her a "townie" because she went to the community college and they looked down on her past. She had life experiences that I didn't have yet and we watched art films together. At a party, Heather bit my neck and asked if she could give me a hickey. I said no but it was only because her boyfriend was watching us and I wanted it to be alone.
I felt safer at night with Heather because she knew every side-street and alleyway in town. We walked the graveyard circuit behind Main street, admiring the variety of stones with our hands in our pockets and warm breath against the cold air. When we encountered a small church lit by old-fashioned electric lamplight, she showed me a sarcophagus-shaped hunk of stone that had a fissure down the middle and was cracked in several places.
According to legend, she told me, the stone marked the grave of a slave owner. As hard as locals tried to keep the stone intact, every year it would break apart again. She had her doubts about the ghost theory and believed more firmly in the changes of the earth and underground currents. It felt right that the earth itself would destroy his grave against the will of his white descendants.
Up until that point I had very little idea of the age of the town. I knew nothing of its history aside from what I could grasp through its antiquated architecture. Despite the linear East-West layout of the main drag, I discovered that there were quite a few back streets running cross-wise along the town. The grid-like arrangement was reminiscent of the District of Columbia, where I was born and where I still managed to get lost.
On the drives North to college from home I watched the trend of housing development, a shifting and growing wave of gentrification that, at the time, was on the cusp of enveloping Westminster and all of Carroll County. I recognized the early signs of economic growth and ravenous construction of homes and office buildings that was so familiar at home. I asked how Heather felt about the change. "I can't wait," she said, "I may not go to the city but the city will come to me. It's changing already."
As we emerged from the back streets into the open space of Main Street, our conversation slowed and became quiet. The storefronts were dark and the streets were completely empty; the only activity was a flashing street light. In moments like these, we didn't feel the need to talk. A hush slowly blanketed everything as we became aware of the silence, like a vague phantom at the corner of our vision.
Heather spoke first: "It's so quiet. It's almost never like this."
From time to time, especially when I am out in the sunlight, a pale watermark will nictate across my vision. It's always looked the same: like a curved string of pearls held together by a thin membrane. It dances across the periphery and I can never look directly at it. Its fairy-like visits are frequent enough that I take notice but they're brief enough that I forget soon after they disappear.
Moments like the one I shared with Heather that night have little pretense or context. They pass like tiny fairies that only show themselves as limpid impressions in a discarded photograph. It's hard to put them into neat boxes with the rest of everyday experience, which is how I felt about knowing Heather.
These memories are fantastical and yet completely natural and inherently real. I feel a momentary connection that is transformed later on by a demon who thinks and remembers. A demon who obscures faded forms from view because they still love and want to protect.
The demon lives on and fairies die so they can be eaten.
The demon speaks and another memory takes form.
Don and I kept each other company during the summer of 2004 when I worked briefly at Johnson's plant store in Kensington, Maryland, my home town. The store primarily employed middle-aged women, and I enjoyed his weirdo outsider irreverence. Don was in his 40s and had a stout and boyish look to him. Before he got sober, he was a bartender, where he had honed his ability to tend to customers efficiently and quickly retrieve information from memory.
He also claimed to have stalkers and admirers among the customer base.
Each morning he rolled up on his skateboard wearing dark shades and a teal Johnson's shirt. A day working with Don was guaranteed to be filled with whatever odd jobs he could muster during the quiet days of late August. His constant activity and the stories he told me as we worked passed the time a little faster.
He had lost his driver's license so he took the opportunity to drive the forklift any chance he could get. Whenever something in the front parking lot needed moving, he made sure somebody had the counter covered and went out back to "mount his stallion". When he emerged from the back upon his trusty forklift, a cigarette hung from one side of his mouth as he maneuvered around the parking lot.
He was serious about staying busy most of the time, but taking a breather usually resulted in him telling a story from his past or recent present, like when he broke the speed limit going down a steep hill on his skateboard.
"I was really afraid I was going to die that time." he said as he mimicked putting out his arms to encourage wind resistance.
Don's eyes caught me off-guard every time I saw him without his shades on. They were clear sky blue.
One still Sunday I looked between the two wooden A-frames from behind the counter. I watched past the drooping late-season plants and saw Don looking up at the sky with a water wand in his hand.
"Listen," he said. It was silent.
"It's like a ghost town."
We stood for a moment, waiting. There were no cars. There were no people. The wind blew gently.
Let's Play Cosmology of Kyoto
I cover much about the game during my commentary in the video, so I'll keep this brief. I prefer to approach let's plays as an exercise in contextualizing and preserving works while being a little spooky. Cosmology of Kyoto is not impossible to play. You can download it as a package with an emulator pretty easily.
There were some barriers, however, to playing it. The setup required some technical knowledge and patience with text-entry and a save system that nearly destroyed me due to its apparent brokenness in the emulator (:
It was five years ago and my demeanor as a creator is different. Some of the bits don't hold up. The esports jokes in particular. Thankfully, as I eased into it, I eschewed bits in favor of trying to share my sincere reactions to a unique and sometimes shocking game. I wanted my stream to land somewhere between stream-of-consciousness and pre-written essay based on my research about the game.
I'd intended to play it for about a decade. In contrast to the short time scale of most games discourse, I chose a game that had been released 20 years prior and lived in my head for years since I saw it on Home of the Underdogs.
The track at the beginning of the stream is Doom and Gloom by Daniel Suhre.
Finally, a public post. Hopefully I kept it together this time and didn't reveal too much from the coffers of my most private dreams.
If you've got a moment, please forward this zine to a friend who'd enjoy it. I would love it if you did that. Also, may you consider buying a paid subscription for yourself or for a cute friend. The more people subscribe, the more I can pay for things like moving my videos off YouTube for Vimeo to remove the ads.
I've got some new writing coming your way that I'm excited about, along with the next installment of the Cosmology of Kyoto stream. I enjoyed making the illustrations for this issue, so I'll likely do more of those :3
I love to get your feedback, thoughts, feelings, ideas. Respond to this email or reach out at daphnis (dot) mxxn (at) pm (dot) me and your missive will make its way to me. I'll try to respond and incorporate feedback or requests into future issues.
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