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the clarinet is always the cat. the oboe is the duck! the piano… is a drag queen.

February 1, 2011

one time i had a man tell me that if i was any instrument, i would be his tenor saxophone. i thought that was fabulous and sexy and so very cool. i had never really thought of people as instruments before that.


like in peter and the wolf. which i have been listening to lately. a must-listen. so lovely. and the clarinet is the cat – although it is the A clarinet which is interesting to me. the oboe is the duck. the strings play peter (little shit). the wolf is played by french horns, which is amazing considering i’ve (subjectively) heard that the french horn is the hardest to play – but that is just orchestra gossip from my playing days.) every character is an instrument. the lines of the music tell the story. the different musical sounds make the characters distinct and memorable.


I have a good reason for putting this picture in this post (sort of). Julian and I are technically at a music recital. You can see his recorder, but not my clarinet - only the straps of my case. But also - we are dressed in Ukrainian garb while at a United Church. Also - this is the best picture of us ever. Our bangs match. I would be the cat. He would be closest to the... the bird.


well, anyway. this post started out originally as a writing exercise. i wanted to see if i could create my own peter and the wolf. i wanted to write little characters for each respective instrument. but as it went on, i became rather attached to some of the characters i made, and i decided to share it. if you play an instrument, this might be interesting for you. i definitely will not cover all of them, though. some interests don’t really interest me (viola). i want to date half of these people below. actually, i think i might have…



the oboe – is a teenaged girl with a thin nose and sharp teeth that she fancies looks like a vampire’s. she collects pieces of different coloured quartz and likes to step into dark closets to hit the stones off of each other to see the sparks. because of this, she always smells smoky and odd, and her throat is closed all up. she is a narrow aperture. (i realise that the oboe is useful, difficult, and unique, and is the instrument that the entire orchestra is supposed to tune to, but i’ve never been a fan of the double reed. apologies.)

the clarinet – is the cat-like young woman, who sometimes looks like a boy from a specific angle in a specific light. she has sharp incisors but a soft mouth, and there are calluses on her thumbs. she thinks herself nothing special, but she has a singing voice that is worth noting. she hates microphones and loudspeakers, has a collection of conductor’s wands that she’s painted. cornered, she bites. softened, she purrs. when she screams, she hits the sounds that nobody knew existed – sounds that taste like static and lime and boiling water.

the piano – is a man in a purple gown, wearing green shoes and black gloves. he likes to wear lipstick and carries a film camera with him wherever he goes. people want to take photos of him because he’s over six feet tall and wears dresses, but he likes to circle around other people and take photos of them while they’re turning, in motion, trying to catch him. he takes his photos home and writes semi-quavers on the undeveloped film in the darkroom.

the saxophone – is a teenaged discus player with thin legs and thinner cheeks. he looks like a stream of milk spilt down a cabinet. if he was allowed, he would paint his teeth gold and dye his hair red, but he isn’t permitted to do so. he likes to write poems for other people and fold the papers into little squares, slip them into the slats of lockers and venetian blinds. he watches eclipses with his bare eyes and dances like an apostrophe.

the violin – is a male ballet dancer with the longest legs in the world – tapered calves, tight thighs, red varnished leotard. he dances the dance of the faun and then the tsar, the rat and then the swan. he likes to wear clogs, cossack boots, high heeled shoes, platforms, because all he wants to do is dance in circles and hexagons. he speaks every language that he can get his hands on to learn because he is the best mimic, can raise his voice an octave to cajole and cruelly tease. he speaks in fricatives and pizzicato, has a long neck and a dusty mouth, moves his head like a bird.

the accordion – is a duo. he is an arlecchino in a suit of denim and second-hand silk that has been aired out from vintage stores. he likes to wear black face paint across his eyes, puts mascara on in the mornings sometimes, drinks tomato juice mixed with raw egg and tabasco. he plays the keys mainly for his columbina, who dances in the street for money in pointe shoes. she is mean and beautiful with a creaking voice, and wears green skirts with insects printed on them. she has handkerchiefs. they both like hotel rooms with turned-down bed covers.

the french horn – is a seventy year old gymnast. she is silver-haired but slips into a backbend easily, hold her body in a bridge and lift one long leg into the air, straight and tall. her fingers look like peeled birch, and she can pull quarters out from the loops of braids and the backs of heads. sometimes she likes to dress up as a clown. other times she wears fur coats that men have given her.

the cello – is the man who you dream about but can’t remember when you wake up. he wears his long hair back in a blue velvet ribbon, likes the idea of living in a damp house near the water. he opens his mouth when he swims in the pacific. he leaves the taps running when he walks out of a room and someone has to follow behind him, closing them. sometimes he walks right through puddles, through crowds of women. he eats fruit slowly, uses his finger to scrape honey from the sides of the jar. when kissed, he tastes like beeswax and cedar.

the flute – is a six year old boy who still likes to dance, who communicates in only laughs and trills of his voice box, like the way birds click at each other. he cries when the wings are pulled off of flies, and covers the wingless bodies with clear nail polish to preserve memory. he twirls a baton and marches with his knees coming up to his chest. when pressed, he will admit that he likes to carry his mother’s purse when he goes to the park.

the timpani is a basso who always walks with the left foot leading. the triangle looks like an absinthe fairy but is pink instead. the xylophone is an orphange of children with high voices. the snare is the drill sargeant with a penchant for silver jewellery. the gong is the woman holding the yoga position of trikonasana. the cymbals are synaesthetic twins with missing teeth.

i know i’m missing the brass, which is a travesty. but i ran out of steam. the trumpet has always been a fascination of mine, so know that i haven’t forgotten you, golden gods of orchestra!



today is february. february is going to be a good month. i’m going to make it a good month.

you don’t usually hear people say that february is going to be good, but i know it will be. it’s the month of love. in other parts of canada, it’s the month of depressing sludge, but here in vancouver – miraculously – it is the month wherein spring starts. it’s the month of cracking open my thesis and starting on it again! it’s the month of the vagina monologues, a month to wear pink and red and orange and say things that are on your mind! it’s the month to take chances when it comes to your love life, too.

helllloooo february!

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