New York Fucking City


We were gobsmacked. Two priviledged, well educated, well protected, and well read girls from

the suburbs of Vancouver were finally soundless. As our illusive, addled cabbie slowed down toward a

red light in what now seemed like our final inches of innocence in a tunnel underneath the Hudson,

we saw the glow ahead.


The lights turned on, but it was somehow darker. My undefiled eyes adjusted to the flamingo pink

irradiated welcome mat in the sky.

‘Pom Pom Diner’.

The insignia for overpriced, graceless, ‘Freedom’ fries, and all things big

city were now emblazoned in my brain and would forever be associated with the year 2004.

50 Shades of Grey

The opulent display of plumbiferous skyscrapers that rooted out of the pavement beyond the neon

welcome sign, were my form of the mom-porn of today. These silver, art deco, symbols of steel and

money and the American way were singing to me a song of reception I had only known from watching

reruns of Sex and the City, or that old King Kong movie. These monoliths of sand and structure were never

alone, in fact one could barely, it seemed, throw a pebble between them. They portrayed a stage

of dominoes absolutely dependent on their neighbour for support. What a display of brotherly love.

And they kissed the sky.

They soared. We looked like a two pronged fork melded together by our taxi seat. Her

head cranked outside the left window and mine to the right. This was the only way to see the sheer

magnificence of their height. These creatures of wealth were born of Gods. There was no other

explanation. They were the Rocky Mountains of the isle of Manhattan, so pure, so simple, and yet so lirresolute.

The light turned green.

And New York invaded our soul.

New York Fucking City

Mona Lisa’s Eyebrows

Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. I have seen the Mona Lisa twice in my life (for real) and about a million times (for fake). I have been to the Louvre, where the original is kept behind thick layers of plexiglass, two times. I have been to my Grandma’s house, where a tiny little replica of the Renaissance cover girl was kept more times than I can count.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, early 20th Century feminists, painted thier lips as a symbol of emancipation when they marched in the 1912 Suffragette Rally in New York City. Today the average woman spends about $2000 in thier lifetime on lipstick. I think I have paid about $40.00 in my lifetime on the waxy pigment. The taste and smell make me want to gag. When I was the Team Lead of the Toronto Dyke March two years ago, I met a fierce group of folks that called thier liptick ‘war paint’. I think Stanton and Gilman would be proud.

Archaeologists recently found a 2000 year old sandal with specific impressions on them that looked like woven material. This Roman artifact clearly proves that socks were worn with sandals back in the day. Last month, when I was visiting my dad in Vancouver, he was wearing sports socks with his sandals. This contemporary artifact clearly proves that my father has continued the tradition on proudly.

Dorothy’s gingham dress in The Wizard of Oz is actually blue and pink. The movie executives thought that white looked underwhelming in the new Technicolor process that was being used so they used pink. This phenomenon was kind of replicated during the epic “Do you see Gold or Blue?” dress debaucle taking over the internet, however there was no camera trick. It turns out we all see colour different.

I saw gold by the way, and I have eyebrows.

Mona Lisa’s Eyebrows


Jacqueline Ann Barnes, or Smeal as she preferred. Barnes was her married name, Smeal was given to her at birth. Her parents, James Murray Smeal and Joyce Rosalie Smeal nee Williams were teenage parents and had Jacqueline (Jacki with an ‘i’ was the only way she would let it be shortened) at the ripe old age of 16. The year was 1950, and the place was West Vancouver, British Columbia. After Jacki, Nancy, Barbara, and Don were born. There was a child between Nancy and Barbara however they did not survive.

James Brock Barnes was born in 1949, also in West Vancouver, British Columbia. His parents, Alma Minnie Barnes nee Horeis and John Wade Barnes were not quite so young when Brock (the James is never used, and is a general Barnes tradition) was born. Alma and John Wade were 29 and 30 respectively. Brock’s brother John Wade Jr. was born 5 years earlier than Brock in Dallas, Texas. You can start to see where this name thing is going.

Dallas Rosalie Barnes was born in 1973 in North Vancouver, British Columbia. If you haven’t figured this out yet, this person is me. My parents Jacki and Brock were fairly young, both 23 and 24 respectively. After me, my brother James Wade Barnes was born in 1976, again in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

The tree stops at the next two little people. Wyatt James Murray Barnes was born in 2011 in New Westminster, B.C. His parents Wade and Erin Barnes, nee Rayner were 35 and 28 respectively. His sister, Euphemia Daisy Coraline Barnes (or Effie as she is more commonly known), was born in 2014 in Maple Ridge, B.C.

My guess is that this tree will not continue unless either Wyatt or Effie decide to have children. Until than. I am beginning to work backwards from both Joyce and Murray and John Wade and Alma.

Jacqueline Ann Barnes was my mom and lost her battle with cancer last year on May 23, 2014. She was an avid follower and often spent days and weeks secluded in her make shift office that was also a sewing room. A couple of years ago, when I began to really pursue my writing career, my mom suggested that I write about my family. After she passed, I inherited both her account and thousands of pages of family trees, birth certificates, death certificates, war records and property records. I also inherited her curiosity of our ancestry.


Post 9/11 Generation and Why I am Glad That I Am Not

A couple of years ago I heard the term Post 9/11 Generation. This Generation, born after September 11, 2001., will never know a world without body scans, shoe bombers, and Guantanamo Bay.  They will never know the phrase “You don’t need ID to enter the States” or the phrase “Innocent until proven guilty,” and “Religious freedom”. Instead, all they will know is that anyone could be a terrorist, and we are never safe.

It was about 7am in North Vancouver and my usual clock radio woke me up with muffled voices. My usual symphony of Jennifer Lopez’s I’m Real, Destiny Child’s Bootylicious, and Fallin’ by Alicia Keys was instead a symphony of disaster, heartache, and confusion. Of course, being about 80% asleep still, my 26 year-old mind did not fully comprehend what was happening, or that the world was changing as I slowly opened my eyes. I remember hearing plane crash. I remember hearing New York. I remember hearing accident.

A couple of minutes later my phone rang. It was my friend Sue. I thought that she was calling me to tell me she was running late as she picked me up to go to work together most mornings. “Did you hear what happened in New York?” she asked. “Something about a plane crash,” I responded listlessly. “Turn on your tv,” she said. “I’ll see you soon.”

I went to the living room, both cats in tow, unaffected by the turmoil around them. All Frisky and Kiara wanted to do was eat, but that would have to wait until I figured out why there was such a sense of doom surrounding my semblance.

I found the remote, hoping to find a channel that would tell me what was going on. Every channel was telling me what was going on. Two towers, engulfed in flames. Helicopters surrounding it. Speculation abound. There was very little said about terrorism, however as one newscaster began talking about it, it caught on. This was no longer a plane crash. This was an attack on the U.S.A.

What I did not know at this point was that an attack on the U.S.A. was an attack on the First World. Everyone else was the enemy. Those Post 9/11 Generationals will never know what it was like to not have that fear of otherness. I think that maybe it is somewhat like the Red Scare when Communism was Enemy #1. My mom would tell me of drills in school where they would have to hide under desks. My Dad told me of the days when my Grandma had a bomb shelter built in her enormous West Vancouver backyard. Maybe that was comparable to the collective fear on September 12, 2001.

I do not remember clear recollections of that day. I remember listening to the radio all day at work. I remember some of the stores being shut down in the mall I worked at because some of those stores were in the World Trade Center. I remember seeing what seemed like hundreds of planes landing at the Vancouver International Airport, and than not seeing one at all for many days.

Perhaps what sticks out to me, being a Generation X’er was the immediate spell North America and Western Europe fell under after our precious soil was attacked. For me, I became aware of my priviledge. My sense of security was attacked, yes, but I was able to keep going. I felt awful for all of those innocent folks who lost thier lives in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania. What happened to them was wrong, and from what I suspect, avoidable. However, my way of life was not threatened. My priviledge was. My right to travel freely was undermined. My right to free speech was somehow torn down. My right to ignorance was no longer allowed.

I became a better, more skeptical person after September 11, 2001. I was roused to consciousness. I was suddenly aware of my place in the world. I was no longer as ignorant and closed in to the fact that the world did not and should not revolve around me. North American Post 9/11’ers were born into fear of otherness. Fear and self-righteousness. I am fortunate enough to be skeptical of the crafted fear around me. There are few enemies in this world. What 9/11 taught me was that those that run it, run our fears, and create our enemies. I am not a product of the fear that 9/11 brought us, but a believer in the questioning of where that fear came from.

Post 9/11 Generation and Why I am Glad That I Am Not