Living the Social Event Horizon.

Before I offer the rather wildly satisfying anecdote that I want to write about, I need this caveat: there’s a persistent rumour-myth that claims “Jhayne knows everybody” that is patently untrue. There are thousands upon thousands of dazzling people I have never met and will never and, though I find this sad in the same abstract way that birthdays are, that’s just the way it is.

My relationship to this rumour is complicated, as it affects my identity, community, and influence, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively. While I appreciate that it allows me to play with social capital in a way that not everyone does, it also flies in the face of my self interest, beating black wings of denial that chase opportunities away. (“Oh, I’m sure she already knows that fascinating person. Spoiler: No, I don’t! But you’re right, I should. Introduce us!). I treat it much like fire, warm and attractive, but requiring a respectful distance. There’s a lot of layers there. Reality – only a vague relative to myth. So it endures, even as I persist in my role as a philosopher-assassin, refuting it to death. And honestly, it persists like most myths because, underneath the hyperblown twaddle, it contains a seditionist seed of truth.

There, now that my denial is out of the way, I’m going to blast it completely with indisputable evidence to the contrary. Probably with a sound like “quash.”

(It’s a terrible thing to share after I’ve just spent a paragraph tearing down the splashy premise this anecdote supports, namely that no one is out of reach of my network, but too bad, I’m new back to this writing thing and I’m going to be a dreadful player until my vibrato returns. There are going to be far too many commas, oblique and post-modern applications to punctuation, unruly mazes of brackets, harrowing mixed tenses everywhere, and wandering, unhelpful, and contradictory mixed metaphors. And you, dear reader, and future me, will just have to suck it up, because this little tangle of connections is just too baroque and delightful not to share.)

So! Livejournal. Bringing it back. Way back. Eight years, maybe. Possibly nine. Somehow I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a scathingly clever Jewish woman who lived (and lives) in Wisconsin. I don’t remember how I found her, probably Warren, same as everyone else, but I fell in friend-love with her immediately. Here in the present, we’re still friends. We didn’t meet until 2012, but our connection was enough for her to hand-pick me to attend her intimate wedding anniversary party in Madison last year and it was enough for me to put my life aside to better scrimp so I could attend. I probably would have stolen a car to go if the plane thing hadn’t worked out, actually. Stolen a car because it would have been less work than hijacking a bus. This is a lady I’ll hide some bodies for, is what I’m saying. For her or her beautiful husband or their beautiful child because that is how I roll.

She and I, we chat sometimes. We discuss disabilities, recovery, life, bravery, creativity, where to get good chocolate, all the usual things. And boys. Oh my, have we ever. She has hers all nailed shut, she’s set for life, but my history? We once sat in a chinese restaurant in Minneapolis and looked at my shoddy relationships and threw our hands up and despaired for at least an hour. Deservingly so. More recently, though, we’ve been talking about family. Bailing my brother out of jail, my dying parental figure, the trials and tribulations attached to both. (I don’t have many local people to discuss topics thickly smeared with emotion). Except our last conversation, which took an even more unexpected turn than usual. I think I had maybe been catching her up on the latest episode of The Lame MisAdventures of My Autistic Brother when I dropped an unusual name into the mix. (We will, for the time being, name him M, which is the most transparent sort of obfuscation possible. Sometimes I’m not entirely sure why I bother. See: paragraph 4.)

“M!” she exclaimed, “His name is M? Where do I know that name?” I am completely taken aback. That was a lot of excitement. Yes, I replied, jotting in a few background notes. He’s in Seattle; I met him though the people I camped with at Burning Man; we’re in the midst of a surprising flirtationship. She shook her head, dark hair flying everywhere, trying to remember. “There was some drama there, oh hell, what was it? I know that name, I know who that is! This is going to drive me crazy.” My curiosity blazed. There was no feasible way it was the same person. None. But the name!

I stopped what I was doing, nearly holding my breath, fluttering panic hanging in balance with mad delight, waiting in paused dread for the revelation that would either justify or cause everything we had been building to tumble and fall. (Running through me like dark water, in which way had I been gullible this time?) I felt weakened the way rust melts iron. How could these two people, from such wildly different backgrounds, wildly different everything, be connected? I love the impossible, but drama is hardly ever a positive word. They would get along, but how would they have met? I couldn’t think of a way. And she was right there with me, overcome by the absurdity of this strange potential connection.

A few frantic minutes later, it surfaced. I laughed in incredible relief. When I had first met her on-line, years before I ever went to Burning Man or started visiting Seattle, her best friend was S, a woman from New York. S was smart and sassy and fun and completely in love with a boy.

A boy named M.

Two degrees apart, a decade away.

Isn’t the world splendid?

I love it.

Travel Diary Day One: May 15th, Montreal

I have just returned from a trip to Montreal for Dee & Freida's ish-wedding, (they eloped last year), and Madison for Karen & Pär 's ish-wedding, (they eloped 20 years ago), and WisCon, a feminist sci-fi writer's convention. I tried to keep a journal of the trip, an attempt to work towards fixing my awful stillness, sadness, and silence.

I feel like I should be taking more pictures, the signs are all French, there are blue and white flags flapping from storefronts, but it has been a very long day, stretched longer by my restless, nearly sleepless night and the dilation effect of crossing two time-zones. The plane ride was choppy, but comfortable all the same. Not enough passengers to fill every seat, so there was room to stretch, room enough to feel like we weren't crammed in a can. How flat this country is, how bleak, I thought, looking over the plains, but then the lakes began to appear. The lakes that freckle the country are still frozen stiff, even in May, small, tidy sheets of white that gleamed like I used to imagine diamonds are supposed to, blazing with the sunshine even as our shadow touched them.

My friends walk arm in arm, a married couple, beautifully affectionate, sweet and pretty. I adore them both, they make me ache to know the language better, so that I could be as quick and fluent with them as they are with each other. I remember their wedding, the sharp joy they gave out, like flares from lighthouses. They live together now by the Olympic Stadium in an apartment I had never been to before, shared with four cats, each with a distinctive personality, a greenhouse worth of plants, and books deeply piled on every flat surface. We are coming back from dinner, I’m to sleep in the front room, on a currant coloured velvet couch surrounded by novels, paintings, plants, and more art. It’s glorious. The building is old in a way that no buildings in the west are old, with painted over wallpaper raised in a repeating pattern of griffons and urns and dark wooden doors inset with stained glass. They are on the top floor, the stairs narrow, circular, and set with stone. It makes me think of castles and timeworn foreign movies. Someone shoots a gun, there are footsteps, someone running, but all you see is a hand on the rail. I love everything about it. I love everything about them. And underneath it all, a constant, the welcoming perfumed scent of sweet-smelling incense.

I just tried one of the chocolates. My breath stopped.

365:2011/01/01 - twenty:eleven
  • Assorted books for sale – $5
  • Assorted books for sale – $10
  • Lunchboxes, toys, costumes, dvd/vcr – $5-$80

    Today I came home in a bit of a mood, thwarted and unhappy in some very deep places, but what should arrive but a completely unexpected and flat out amazing package from Karen of Strange Horizons. Not a surprise in the usual sense, as she sent me a note about it yesterday, asking if I had received anything from her in the mail, expected due date somewhere the back of December, but because we sadly presumed it to be lost in transit. Yet, to whatever caused the delay, I can only thank it. There could be no better timing. She has an exquisite grace about her that I devoutly admire, mesmerizing even over long distances, and it bleeds into her gifts, which are so sweet and clever as to make me cry, two years now in a row. There’s nothing else like it in my life.

    So though my morning may have started with an ache tightly, bitterly laced to my heart, since I’ve opened the cardboard box to discover it packed full of pretty, delicate paper and shiny hand-curled ribbons in my favourite colours and read her card, scented with sugar and lemon and love, I feel so grateful and vulnerable that if I were to leave the house, I would cover up my face. (Can’t go around blinding people, after all. Pretty sure that’s against the rules.)

    It’s amazing to be reminded so perfectly that though I’m isolated, I’m not alone. Her gifts are witchcraft, sent to foster healing and prevent further harm. Medicine against sadness, (couture chocolates and gourmet mint cocoa), hello kitty for sprains, (a plush ice-pack), sticks and stones to ward off injury from same, (glowsticks and pop rocks), a sweet serum to bring blackbirds back to life, (sugar exfoliant), and one. last. winsome. package. wrapped in turquoise and gold that I am almost afraid to open, because what if my head falls off from awe? Stranger things have happened. Have I mentioned we’ve never met? Stranger things, indeed.

  • step taken

    Scientists record ‘music’ from stars.

    It’s done! It’s done, it’s done, it’s done! Karen only has a few things left to pick-up, we only have a queen-size mattress to somehow move, and that’s it. That’s it! Even Remi’s found a place to live for November. Tra-la-lee-lah-lay-dah-lee. It’ll be all wrapped up by the weekend. There is, of course, furniture to be shuffled around, boxes that need unpacking, clothes that need to find homes in drawers, but it’s all, finally, in one place, with no obstructions.

    We sat on the floor last night in a puddle of clear space, mutually exhausted, (something I think everyone does when they move into a new home), somehow stunned, waiting for the soup to be ready, surrounded by boxes and upended furniture. Swamped by our day, he looked so tired I had to grin. “Welcome to the house,” I said, “Officially like.”

    Already we’ve shoved the futon in her room and lined the walls with bookshelves, which opened up space, and the bones of our new home are starting to show. David has a job interview with Raincoast books today, so I don’t know how much he’ll get done while I’m at work, but whatever. It’s starting, and that’s positive enough. Plus, rock on Raincoast. Rock on.

    Video: the secret lives of invisible magnetic fields.

    only vincent price could say it with a straight face

    Stephen Fry’s most excellent Twitter.

    Today’s the day Karen‘s moving out. I adore her to pieces, she’s clever, fun and urban planner silly, but I’m terribly glad. I think she’s going to be much happier living by Main St, and I know that I’ll be much happier when my apartment isn’t stacked to the ceiling with boxes. Once her room is empty, we can move the double-stacked bookshelves in from the dining area, as well as the fourty boxes of books, move the futon in there too, and get a bit of much needed elbow room. Thankfully, today’s also the day where Ray and Nicole and David and I try to haul the rest of his things over, (except the Queen size bed, which we’ve put for emergency sale on Craigslist for as ridiculously cheap as my conscience would let me), finishing forever with the tiny purple room where he’s been keeping his stuff. He will be officially Moved In, with no more popping back to Arbutus for another change of clothes.

    With that, I’ll finally be able to relax a bit, too, as David will take over a batch of the organizing and unpacking. When there’s space in the house to move, I won’t feel that every minute needs to be spent working to make it livable. (I almost cried, the other day, overwhelmed by how much needs to get done.) I can put that task aside and work on what matters more to my spirit and spend some time catching up on more virtual things, like processing my way through the vast collection of photos that I’ve been taking since Kyle generously sent me his spare. It’s been prickling under my skin that I haven’t even had enough time to make sure that I’ve got all our trip pictures off David’s laptop, let alone take a look at them. Prickling with great prickliness.

    Past that, not a lot’s been going on. There hasn’t been time for anything else. We’re still sorting out what we’re doing this weekend for Hallowe’en, trying to figure out if we can even pretend to afford to go down to Seattle, while our finances are smeared like jet lag over too many bills. I have en eerie premonition that we might not even make it to local house-parties for a spooky lack of bus-fare. Vuullnaaavia! We neeeed youuuu! Oh, for a beautiful and silent clockwork assistant to help us in our time of woe. “Where can we find two better hemispheres, without sharp north, without declining west? My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, and true plain hearts do in thee faces rest. Within twenty-four hours, my work will be finished, and then, my precious jewel, I will join you in your setting. We shall be reunited forever in a secluded corner of the great elysian field of the beautiful beyond! ”

    Diamanda Galas plays Vancouver Nov 29.

    p.s. My spam is more refined than your spam. The latest subject line: “Lists for specialties such as: medical geneticists, neurological surgeons,psychiatrists and much more‏”.

    emotionally satisfying music

    “A toddler whose remains were found inside a suitcase in Philadelphia in April was starved to death by members of a religious cult, including his mother, in part because he refused to say “amen” after meals, police said.”

    Listening to the Kronos Quartet covering Sigur Ros’ Flugufrelsarinn, music as quiet, rich, and thick as the calm pumping of blood. Sound like running hands over sheets, straightening them out on a September morning, as leaves fall outside, golden and red and silent in the gutters. I’m letting the cello soothe out the jangled nerves of today’s news, of going to bed at three and waking up at eight to the telephone ringing with police on the other end wanting to talk about permits and crowd size and kids running around with replica guns.

    Karen is considering moving out the end of October. She misses Main St, hopes to find a nice flat there, something vintage with wooden floors and windows that get stuck when it rains. I’ve been worried about her lately, she’s been absent from the house a lot, and I know her family isn’t as supportive as they could be, little things that add up into hoping she’s okay, so it’s nice to know that she’s well and together enough to keep on top of things. Plans will coalesce, they will calcify, they will become fact. It’s one of the nice things about living, how we continue to change and transform and become more of who we are as we become who we think we need to be. I hope that wherever she finds, she gets to paint her room again, whatever shade of light, minty lime green she likes best.

    David will be moving soon, too, though more immediately, at the end of the month. No longer will he be staying with me as his place becomes piles of boxes full of books, instead the two of us will be staying up too late, unpacking his life-things into a nice, wine coloured room in a big house across from the Ridge Theater on Arbutus. I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to teach him how to make really nice, to-the-ceiling cinderblock shelves, (remember to pad the ends of the blocks with hidden felt), and lie in the garden with the rabbits hopping on leashes as the city drowns around us in every day, ordinary life. I might not have very much passion these days, but I can see putting a mild time aside for just that sort of thing, and being okay.

    wear those poppies with pride


    Lung asks Claire, “How many people have you slept with?” and suddenly we’re all counting on fingers, measuring numbers, months, morality. I’m there to pick up a copy of the Senior’s Living Magazine that Lung and I have an article in – my first bit of glossy-paper local hard-copy. Vancouver’s 50+ Active Lifestyle magazine. There’s a steel haired woman jogging on the cover, sunglasses, IRONMAN t-shirt, and yellow text declaring someone’s else “Artist. Author. Actor.”. It looks very much like the sort of thing you might find for free between the pages of a community newspaper. We’re on page 30, messily rambling about Lung’s travels.

    Though it’s interesting to see my name in print, especially with his, reading it over is a little painful. Lung gave me a rough draft so dirty certain passages were completely incoherent and I only spent about an hour cleaning it up before we sent it in and went for dinner. Flipping through to the other articles, however, I found we fit right in. Absolutely everyone in the entire magazine abuses punctuation and laughs vindictively at grammar. “You, have to Love It” kind of stuff. It makes for easy reading, if odd, as if the writers of Dick and Jane had copy-edited every page. It’s almost soothing, which, it occurs to me, might be the point.

    25 unexpectedly useful websites

    100 ways to save the environment

    110 resources for creative minds.

    As of today, I have a new roommate for December. Her name is Karen, we don’t know each other particularly well, but she seems like an incredibly nice young woman. (We went to highschool together. Bizarre, that). Very much one of us, she goes to BarCamps, SFU, and has a passion for engineering transit. She’s even got a livejournal. Vancouver’s rental situation has moved past ridiculous into outright obscene, so it’s a relief to have found someone without having to resort to the vague social terror that is Craigslist For Rent ad.

    Another thing checked off the list today – finding a place to stay in Calgary the first week of December. Sean, (yes, someone else with an lj), a comp-sci, pure math guy that Dominique and Rowan introduced me to a few years ago, has volunteered his spare room! Yes! An exclamation mark! Somehow, in spite of the mini-catastrophes plaguing this trip, things are coming together. Now to find a way to get there. Pity there’s no easy way to put a transmission back into a van…

    “You said you would show me another country, and you have. It’s right here, in me.”

    isn’t she pretty?
    Originally uploaded by Foxtongue.

    There was flying yesterday. I opened my eyes in Reine’s bed, not having slept at all. Karen and Patrick were downstairs with her mother. Ten minutes later, we were driving. Smooth ska on the stereo, too early for people to be aware. Up Victoria, up fourty-first, taking the bridge past the airport and out onto highway. I held my breath through the tunnel and wished I could remember how not to be wounded. I let it out half way, feeling empty and futile. A child thought, how hollow they make these places. The way the music played made me think of movies, of black pvc.

    The plane was small, familiar. Fuselage white, pale as they always are in such places. Karen and Reine looked like headset angels. I rode in front, co-pilot pretender. Once I took the handles, but all I did was steer on course, something anyone could have done. It dragged to the left, heavy somehow so far above the earth. We flew to the airport outside of Victoria, touching down and lifting back up without pause. I held my hands out with my camera on top and said, “do you think we can do it?” to Patrick. Zero gravity, it lifted and fell upward, my fingers cradled under it as it swooped for the windscreen and I could feel my hair twisting away from my scalp, it was beautiful. Enough to unknot my eyes, to pry open my muscles enough to move.

    Light seems different when you’re flying, like above the clouds there’s a different texture. I thought of marbles, cats eyes glittering, and agates, how I dearly wanted to walk back in time and say, “teach me now, not later, before you make mistakes.” I wanted twin handfuls of them, glass smooth and clear. I wanted them to spill and fall into the ocean beneath me, a mystery to any witnesses as much as my relationships. I miss him, of course I do. His hands hold my heart still, that burning thing. Blood, however, has left me barren. Think of burned houses, only the shell and metal remaining. Let my honour be my unwarped steel. Picture red hair and eyes like blue quick silver. My strawberry heart is useless, obviously, or else I would be able to stop my crying. I could return it home and let it flutter back into my breast like a nesting bird.

    I have a doctors appointment this afternoon. A question asked of me demands it. The other women are likely wonderful people, but.

    I remember trust.