Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?
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Author:  December [ Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:16 am ]
Post subject:  Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

I just read Dvash's post about travelling in Connections, and I thought it might be useful to tell each other what's on our own skin. If you can see it without straining your neck too much and just want to give street names, that's fine, but ideally ... I just think it would help if we could give each other a sense of what to expect. If you want to take each other there, anyway. Maybe, if you're okay with it, you could take pictures of your marks, too, and we could piece together a larger map out of our skins.

I'll go first.

Every night, I find myself at the corner of Oppoponax and Fugue. There are usually people walking past, sometimes hurried, sometimes ambling, laughing with each other as they do. They dress in the most astonishing ways: some are studies in chiaroscuro with their faces painted scarlet, others wear extravagant confections of maize yellow and spring green, but drape it over with fur-lined cloaks so black it dizzies me to even write about them, makes me feel like I'm sinking into the memory of them. Others dress in motley scarves and artfully arranged rags, twist bells and ribbons into their hair. I've seen people put on pantomimes and play improv games, seen others busk -- I saw a damsel with a dulcimer. I actually saw a damsel with a dulcimer. I don't know if she was Abyssinian or not, and I couldn't make out the words she sang, but I found myself wondering if Coleridge had a patch of ink on his hands that wouldn't come off no matter how hard he scrubbed.

I've gotten to know some people. At 18 Oppoponax there's a book-binder with the beak of an ibis. She never speaks, but I've watched her work for hours. Her beak seems defter than two pairs of hands, and she uses it to the same effect. The first two nights I travelled on my own I couldn't stop watching her, and she hardly seemed to notice me -- she certainly never turned me away -- but she'd go about her business, folding and sewing and gluing in place. Watching the books come together under her guidance was like reading a novel, in a way -- I couldn't wait to see what would happen next. She would pause, sometimes, retire to the back of her shop for perhaps twenty minutes, and from the smell of it she'd make coffee, before coming out to continue her work.

On the third night, instead of staying in the back room, she came out with two small porcelain cups balanced on a tray. They were beautiful cups -- small, handle-less, and painted with vines and thorns and red flowers, stylised peacocks and bees. The coffee smelled of cardamom, the way my dad always made his, grinding the spice in with the beans, boiling it 'till it made thick mud at the bottom of the metal pot. She looked at me until I took a cup, then took hers and lifted it up to me. I did the same, and we sipped together in silence for a while. Then she took my cup back, returned it to the tray, and just as I was opening my mouth to offer to do the washing up, I was in my bed, the taste of coffee still on my breath.

Her name is Geth. Hard G. I know because one of the tumblers told me the next night. I was a little shy to go in -- I was raised with the custom that one never lets a guest leave without having poured them coffee, with the wry flipside being that if you had an unwelcome guest you offered the coffee early on in the evening to speed the leaving up. I wasn't sure which category I fell into, so I hovered around the door when a young man -- he was about 5'5, just a little shorter than me, but built in that way that romance novels call sculpted -- came up to me and said, "you're the girl who's been watching Geth every night. Aren't you bored yet?"

I stared at him for a second -- he was really beautiful -- before I said, "No." Height of eloquence, I know. It's so much easier to write than to talk, sometimes. He laughed, anyway, and asked if I wanted to see a real show. I told him I didn't have any money, and he laughed again -- that warm, brown-honey kind of laugh that's so nice to hear -- and said I didn't need any. I followed him.

His name is Orex. He has sandy hair and eyes that I think are grey, but they looked so green that day -- night? -- because of his clothes. He was wearing baggy green trousers and a sort of rough green tunic when I met him. I could go on, and on... I could write a novel about all this, except that it would feel like trespass, somehow. I don't want to write about that place -- I want to write for it, if that makes sense. I want to bring something to those people who dazzle me so much with what they make, I want to write them poems and songs and sing for them, I want to kiss Geth on the neck and tell her how grateful I am that she lets me watch her work. I want to write something worthy of her work. I wonder -- I wonder, if I wrote something here and bound it there, would I be able to bring it back with me?

But I meant all this to have a purpose, which is to say the following: I travel to a place full of artists and artisans every night. There's Geth's shop, there's Orex's troupe performing nearby, by a tall stone monument that looks like a rook in chess -- deliberately, it's not a tower, it looks stylised -- and there are other streets, Pinion and Virelay and Carbuncle, that cross it at odd angles, a bit like the area around Drury lane in London. There's a cafe at 23 Pinion, near where it intersects with Oppoponax, that's run by a woman with her hair piled up in dreadlocks and full of shells and seaglass; her name is Isobel, and the cafe is called The Ousel's Nest. She's got a really dry wit, but she's also got a sign that says "immigrants welcome" -- which is what they call us, immigrants. Lots of shops here have those signs out, but if they don't, it doesn't mean they don't want you... Just that they aren't political, I think.

So. Where does your tattoo lead? What's it like there? Have you met anyone who'll speak to you, anyone you can ask questions of? What are you learning? Dvash posted about a dangerous place -- have you heard of any others best avoided?

There may not be an Encyclopaedia yet, but surely we can attempt to map one out ourselves, here, for our own purposes.

Author:  Dvash [ Mon Nov 24, 2008 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

December - I'm a little confused here. This is what's on your skin? How do you visit there every night? I've never been to the place on my skin; I only have other people's stories telling me where it took them. I thought it was impossible to ever explore it myself. How do you get there?

Author:  December [ Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

Um... You know, I was going to send this as a private message, and then realised how ridiculous that would be, given... Well, everything.

I masturbate. I've never been anywhere else but where I went the first night, to Orlande's shop. Honestly, the idea of just jumping random people's bones really daunts me -- I'm really awed by what you've described, but I don't think I could ever do that myself.

Author:  Dvash [ Wed Nov 26, 2008 8:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

Oh! Uh, stupid question, I guess. It never occurred to me that masturbation might get me anywhere. And, um.. well, I don't really need to jerk off alone too often, so it hasn't come up since I got infected. [laughing at myself] I'll have to give it a try and report back.

Author:  ThuliumMezzo [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:58 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

Holy lord, I never even thought about that. I was infected about a year ago but never masturbate. I will conduct a super scientific experiment and get back to you.

Author:  December [ Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

Hah! Do you read http://www.girlgeniusonline.com, Thulium? FOR SCIENCE!

So, both you and Dvash, if you don't mind my asking -- where did you go? Where do you lead?

Author:  Feressa [ Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

This is me, and mine.

Author:  December [ Sat Jan 10, 2009 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

That's so beautiful, Feressa -- like jagged, steampunky henna. Do you know where you lead?

Author:  typhoidsamantha [ Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cartomancy: show me yours, I'll show you mine?

I have a picture now, a representation of a representation of the city. These streets must be near yours, December, because there are artisans here as well. Just at the wavy crossroads is a glasswright's shop. He spins glass for the theaters; great chandeliers and small windows for them to shatter each night. At the end of the play, he sweeps the shards together and puts them back in the furnace. Each night's work carries memories of the last's.
I helped him once, picking up the prisms from the chandelier (it's not Phantom, what they perform, but it mirrors it darkly) and folding them in my sleeve. My hands left fingerprints and grease marks on the glass. The next night, I could feel myself shatter as they dropped to the stage. My voice echoed in the crashing and tinkling, along with a thousand others.

This theater, on the curving avenue, was once a bookstore. The actors fold themselves back into books after the applause dies away.

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