what I’ve been doing for my birthday

My birthday wasn’t very much of a birthday. There was breakfast with Jenn, who had stayed over the night before after going to Sam‘s script reading with me, and Christina, who’s staying here until she moves to Montreal on Sunday, the wild girl, and tea with Paula, then some people I don’t see often enough came over for cake. It could have happened any day of the week, a day like that. It was almost an accident that it was my birthday at all, a slip of the calendar.

Today, however, was completely crammed full of lovely unexpected. (Friday gets extra points because Friday is the day David and I have to sleep in, swearing off the alarm, we lie in bed like it’s a favourite song on permanent repeat.) Dominique called saying let’s go for lunch, with Lung calling almost right after to say he was coming over with a birthday present. As we waited for them to arrive, Christina, David and I had the rest of the birthday cake for breakfast, starting a sugar theme that was to last the rest of the day. Once we had everyone in one place, we went over to 7th for Chinese food, then out to Kitsilano for something called The Unicorn.

The Unicorn is a dessert offered at the first Vera’s Burger Shack. It’s every kind of ice-cream and every kind of topping they have, all at once, for thirty dollars but free if you finish it alone. It has a reputation of defeating grown men who think they have a serious capacity for gluttony. Be that as it may, it’s been on my List Of Things I Have To Try for quite awhile. I didn’t eat it alone, however, as we all took a spoon, but even so, we almost died. Five of us, and we couldn’t manage to eat the last peanut butter cup. It sat in the bottom of the pitcher like a soggy accusation.

After that, there was very little we could do but sit, so we gingerly picked our way to Kitsilano beach and sat in the grass, laughing at our delicious folly, holding our bellies, and sitting as still as we could. This, of course, is when Lung decides he has to try and sit on my head. Hooray for Lung, picking on a poor little woman like me. My favourite photo of this sad, sad debacle is not of Lung cradling his not-quite-sprained finger as I sat on him instead, a knee in the middle of his back, but when Christina just about fell on top of him trying to wrest his camera away as he insisted on using the last shot in his camera to take her picture. Her t-shirt, as it clearly shows in the next photos, says, I PWN BOYS.

Next we went to PLANET BINGO, the mysterious, very large building at Main and 11th, that I had always wanted to explore. David and I had stepped in once but had immediately retreated, overcome by the over-powering feeling that we had gone through an airlock into a muted David Lynch scene, as if we would discover a midget dancing backward with a bright pink ink dabber. The idea of going as a group lent us impetus, made it feel safer, (as it happens, Dominique had always wanted to go too), a sense of security which almost immediately proved to be false.

The place was an anthropological experience, through and through. Rows of vacant squares filled with meaningless numbers, blotted out by hands moving almost automatically as a soft, harmless voice recited numbers over speakers set into the walls, as if thorazine were free at the door. There was no natural light. The bottom floor was resident to a hundred people, easy, lined up like refugees, hopeless, frugal, and addicted, there for no other reason but to be there. As soon as we discovered there was an upstairs, with electronic bingo, we fled up the institutional, darkened stone stairs. Computers would be less of a threat, somehow, familiar, and requiring interaction of a sort we didn’t have to buy markers for.

We entertained the notion of trying out the second floor just to be surrounded by more weirdness, but it was too full, we wouldn’t have been able to sit together, and none of us felt comfortable being isolated there, so we went up to the third. (Hurried whispers, “There’s three floors, they said!” “Three??” “Three.“). The third turned out to be perfect. Miniature disco balls hung from the ceiling, explained by a sign on the wall that said Planet Bingo’s Lunar Lounge. It was possible to see that the windows had been spray-painted black sometime about thirty years ago, a time measured in how the paint had flaked away, showing a slight snow of sunlight in the cracks.

Not knowing what we were doing, we were reduced to the hive mind collective of the lost tourist, trying to pool knowledge in an effort to over-come the cultural language barrier. Eventually we figured out how to buy cards on the computers, play the games, and decipher the names the games were given, smiling nervously the entire time. Running out of cards was a relief, as if it was an escape, rather than a sad thing, bring unable to play. It was evident we didn’t belong. Blinking into the sky outside, away from the casino false lighting, was wonderful.

Thankfully, PLANET BINGO is only a couple of blocks from where David ostensibly lives, so next came a visit with his bunnies, Fido and Emerson the emo bunny, and a welcome, brief sit-down at his place to catch our breath. The ice-cream, even hours later, was still defeating us.

Dominique left us after that, and our plan of going out to Jenn’s BBQ fell apart as soon as Lung, Christina, and David and I got back to my place. Any movement felt like too much effort, so instead we dropped our left-over’s in the fridge, bounced up the Black Dog where we picked up Lars & the Real Girl, and settled in for the night.

The movie was bloody good, and that brings us to now. Christina and Lung on the fold-out couch, quiet in the dark except for the occasional furniture squeak, David asleep in the bed behind me, and me tapping at the keys, listening to TV On the Radio and happy to be the only one awake. The cats were checking in on me every once and awhile, but I’m pretty sure even they’ve settled in for the night.

Tomorrow we’re all going up the Drive for breakfast, to pick up cat litter and groceries and hit up the bank. (Exciting, I’m sure). Then, yay, double-yay, triple-yay, we’re going to Playland to ride the rides and eat cotton-candy and truly atrocious hot-dogs! (David’s promised to ride a roller-coaster too, for the very first time, for my birthday. I’m very pleased. I love them dearly and want to share. I think Lung’s going to maybe be convinced to try it too. I don’t know yet. He’s a tougher nut to crack.) In the evening, after all the thrilling I’m-going-to-die-on-this-ride/stop-crying-you-sissy excitement has had a chance to wear off, we’re going to the Richmond Night Market for street food. It means putting off job-hunting for a weekend, but somehow, I’m finally all right with that. I didn’t send even one resume off today and I don’t feel guilty at all. I can catch up Sunday, once my friends have gone, and the birthday weekend is over.

Goodnight everyone. I hope you’ve been having a very good week. I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch much. Thank you for the birthday wishes. It’s been mild, but it’s been nice.

because people have already started to wish me a happy birthday

365 day one hundred & thirty-one: precious little mind

An amazing, astonishing, astounding, fantastic, fantastical, incredible, marvelous, miraculous, phenomenal, stupendous, unbelievable, wonderful, wondrous party, Jhayne’s Fashionably Late Birthday is back!

(When you only have a birthday party every two years, you really have to make it count.)

When: Friday, June 13, 2008 at 6:00pm
Where: the Foxy House, 1531 east 4th ave

BYO-whatever you like.

Easy suggestions include: Instruments, ice-cream, wine, glitter, spray-on hair dye, sidewalk chalk, chocolate, fruit, bubbles, cake, cookies, sock puppets, music, games, cheeses, fake mustaches, body-paint…

Rumour says there may be a bar and/or a BBQ, to be confirmed closer to the date.

There’s nothing quite like the magic of Mike Silverman

Personal favourite, occasional light of my life, That 1 Guy, the melodious master of the magic pipe, is still on tour! (Watch some live performances!)

May 24, 2008 – Bella Music Fest – Geneva, MN

May 28, 2008 – The Aquarium (Dempsey’s Upstairs) – Fargo, ND

May 29, 2008 – Teatro Zuccone – Duluth, MN

May 30, 2008 – Riversplash W/ BUCKETHEAD – Milwaukee, WI

May 31, 2008 – Park West W/ BUCKETHEAD – Chicago, IL

June 1, 2008 – Barrymore Theater W/ BUCKETHEAD – Madison, WI

June 2, 2008 – The Picador W/ BUCKETHEAD – Iowa City, IA

June 3, 2008 – The Waiting Room W/ BUCKETHEAD – Omaha, NE

June 4-8, 2008- Wakarusa Festival- Lawrence, KS

June 25-30, 2008- Festival Intl. De Jazz- Montreal, QC

July 5, 2008 – Lakeview Arts and Music Festival – Chicago, IL

July 6-8, 2008 – Cisco Systems Ottawa Bluesfest – Ottawa, ON

July 12-13, 2008 – Blissfest Amphitheater- Cross Village, MI

July 18-20, 2008 – Vancouver Folk Festival- Vancouver, BC

sunday tea on a saturday: putting bread to good use

What: French Toast, not quite sunday tea
When: Saturday, May 24th. 11 am – 3 pm

Karen and I have been considering hosting Sunday Tea for awhile now as a bit of a house-warming for her. (Sunday Tea is a weekly social event a group of us started a few years ago out in New West which has since become a roving event. General rules for Tea are: if you know at least one person who knows about or has attended, you’re pretty much invited, and yummy things and interesting kinds of tea are welcome, but no TimBits are allowed.) It just keeps not quite happening, however, so in liue of Sunday Tea, we’re having a French Toast Saturday.

Bring whatever you would bring to tea, but bring whatever you would like to have on french toast too – fruit, butter, syrup, jam, chocolate sauce, caramel, preserves, etc. Whatever floats your boat when it comes to toasted, egg-y bread with a delicate hint of vanilla and cinnamon. Ask for the address if you don’t already have it.

a cure for summer (for adam & david & juan)

pluck nine shiny yellow lemons from the pile, put them in your basket, find the strawberries, try to decide through the clear plastic clamshell boxes which ones contain the best and most delicious strawberries, put two of them in your basket too, and one pink grapefruit, then purchase them and leave the store. peel what needs peeling, tear them apart, lick the tart juices running down to your elbows, smile, laugh, (try to find someone pretty to help), put them in a medium sized pot, then rummage through a kitchen drawer until you find a neglected potato masher, one rarely used no matter how delicious mashed potatoes are because there is just never find time in a busy life to make them, and use it to squish the pulpy sour lemons and the pink grapefruit that squirted while it was being skinned until they are mostly juice. while doing this, the pretty helper should have washed the strawberries in bracing cold water, clear and fresh and cool, and begun to pry the stems out with a fingernail, delicate and certain. they should then open the berries as if they were lips, something sweet to kiss, and toss the pieces in with the wet and acidic mess in the pot, brightening it with berry blood the colour of love and good music. when the first box of plump and perfect strawberries is gone, pressed into the rest of the liquid, take the pot, thanking the pretty assistant, fill it with beautiful water, enough to cover the mixture three times over, and put it on the stove to boil like a mysterious teenage dream of summer. when the mixture has begun to boil, possibly stir in with a wooden spoon, cracked perhaps from being left in the sink too long last month, a cup of the darkest demera sugar, as unprocessed as sugar can be, flavourful as honey. after thirty minutes of bubbling, making sure nothing sticks to the bottom, take the pot from the stove and place it inside the fridge, as arctic and pale as fake fox fur. the frost will lick it clean. when it is cold, it is ready to drink. enjoy.