Stopping by Woods on a Rainy Fucking Evening

You may recall how I ballsed up Christmas.

Audra and I decided to have a new year’s do-over.

I made breakfast in bed, we gave each other gifts, and had pretty much the greatest time that two people can have.

This is the singing bowl she gave me (like her, it is amazing):

2011 is going to be a great year.

During the solstice, a handful of us tried to watch the eclipse, but were thwarted by cloud cover. I’m not big on arbitrary holidays, but I love the solstice, and I love eclipses. Astronomical events bring me a kind of clockwork peace; a reminder that no matter how hard we might fuck things up, everything’s going to keep going. The solstice is when I think about what I’ve done in the last six months, and what I’m going to do in the next. A starting point and a finish line.

Eclipses are incredible, regardless of what kind they are. We are very lucky, on this island earth. Do you know how rare total solar eclipses must be, out there across the stars? They’re not a perfectly normal, common effect of planetary motion, like a sunrise, or the waxing of a moon. It just so happens that our sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, and 400 times further away. That’s why the disk of the moon covers the body of the sun almost perfectly, letting us see the corona. And in a few hundred million years, the moon will have moved far enough away from the earth that there will never be another eclipse.

Before then, remember to look up.

probably if i had some cat antlers i’d be fine

I don’t know how to deal with Christmas. Aside from some great hangouts with great people, the entire thing is just a disaster, and it’s still a better-than-average year. Every time it comes around, I think “well, maybe it’ll be alright this time”, and then it’s just catastrophe after catastrophe.

Usually it’s at least someone else’s fault. Family crisis, funeral, hospitals, cops, whatever. This year it was all me. I spent yesterday evening and today with Audra, and I’m so stressed out about the possibility of having a terrible fucked-up holiday that I have managed to:

  • Fuck things up with regards to receiving presents
  • Fuck things up with regards to giving presents
  • Fuck up her boxing day breakfast making
  • Fuck up our boxing day post-breakfast pre-hangout plans
  • Fuck up her boxing day post-hangout evening plans

Fuck.

A head full of noise and muscles singing like high-voltage wires; all I want for Christmas is to sleep until spring.

The winter of our discount tent

December Update: Winter has started to settle in, and I expect I should start to be able to feel my toes again sometime in mid-March.

Work is frustrating. I don’t feel like I’m adding to anything. All my initiatives have been stopped dead or put on indefinite hold. Most of the contributions I’ve made in the last two months are re-implementations of features and designs that were stripped out while I was away on tour. Plus, someone in security apparently has it out for me (if you’re reading this over a wireshark capture, let me know and I’ll buy you a coffee), and my boss has been uncharacteristically jerkish for the past week.

I’m frustrated at things going on in my personal life, but have nowhere to write about them.

I’m upset at things happening to people I care about, but can’t do anything about it.

Some great days in the last few weeks, but they’ve still been hard weeks.

Whatever. Trying to shake it off. Killing Joke tonight. Yes.

[06/30] Of leetness

Day 06 – Your hobbies, in great detail:

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what separates a hobby from something more serious. Is DJing a hobby? Baking? Gaming? Hacking? Fucking?

If you spend a few hours a week on something, is that a hobby? What if you’re passionate about it, if it consumes you and you spend all your waking moments in pursuit of it? Is it still a hobby then?

I’ve got a thousand records or so, but I wouldn’t consider it a hobby. I’m not a record collector. I’m just someone who loves music, and records are a very enjoyable means to an end.

I don’t paint miniatures or collect stamps. I write music, take photographs now and then, play video games, go through a lot of books, listen to a lot of music, and have a lot of things to say about copyright.

I’ve been doing the online journal thing for fifteen years or so, and on the rare occasion write other things too. I used to develop and teach web design and computer security classes (and I think I was Canada’s first Certified Ethical Hacker instructor), and spend waaaaay too much time on Wikipedia.

Do those count?

Postscript: According to Harris Interactive, these are the 25 most popular hobbies and leisure activities in the US:

  1. Reading
  2. TV watching
  3. Spending time with family/kids
  4. Computer activities
  5. Going to movies
  6. Fishing
  7. Gardening
  8. Walking
  9. Playing team sports
  10. Exercise (aerobics, weights)
  11. Golf
  12. Church/church activities
  13. Listening to music
  14. Watching sporting events
  15. Shopping
  16. Socializing with friends/neighbors
  17. Traveling
  18. Playing music
  19. Entertaining
  20. Renting movies
  21. Eating out/dining out
  22. Hunting
  23. Crafts (unspecified)
  24. Swimming
  25. Camping

[05/30] Of hearts and guts and heinlein

Day 05 – Your definition of love, in great detail:

Love is when you put your all chips next to someone else’s and bet double-or-nothing.

“Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it… It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.”

– Erica Jong

It means being willing to do the hard, difficult things that are necessary to smooth the road ahead; to tackle the things that neither of you are good at. Anyone can be loving while things are easy. It’s how you treat someone else when things are hard that is important.

It’s about being genuinely invested in someone else’s happiness, not just in how they relate to your own happiness. Helping them do things that you don’t benefit from, that don’t make you look good, that aren’t a comment on your relationship.

Love is not never having to say you’re sorry, it’s making a safe space for your loved ones to make mistakes in.

Shake the Disease

(I’ve stalled on my 30 days meme, but only because the next entry is “your music in great detail” and I have no idea where to start. I’m also behind on posting the final tour diary, but who’s counting?)

I’ve had something hanging over me all week. I can shake it for a meal and a movie, but it comes back when I look the other way. I can’t tell where it’s from. Grey autumn skies seeping under my skin, the bends after coming up too fast for air when the tour ended, person after person cancelling plans while I’m shaking off envy of other people’s friendships, or something else, outside my vision.

Sleep retreats like summer nights, and I can’t make it more than an hour without waking. It’s 4:30 in the morning (it’s always 4:30 in the morning) and all I want is for the night to be over because I’d rather be working than thinking and it’s gotta be warmer at work than it is in my apartment anyway.

(It’s not.)

The days are long, the nights are erratic, and my schedule seems more like a threat than a commitment. The leaves outside my window have started to change (red maples bringing mono no aware to Canadians with neither sakura nor sensitivity), and the chill in the air is a promise of winter.

One week until equinox.

[03/30] Of apple trees and Newton’s law

Day 03 – Your parents, in great detail:

This is the kind of post that gets people in trouble. So a word of warning: If you’re the kind of person who stops reading something when people write “trigger warning”, if you’re related to me, or if you are ever likely to interact with me on a professional level, you should probably stop reading.

My father was a simple man.

Rather than trying to describe him, I will instead just copy and paste a few actual real-life headlines that might come up if you were to hypothetically search a comprehensive media database for his name, in no particular order:

  • Aylmer man to be tried for first-degree murder
  • Witness says arson accused was ‘crazy’
  • Four of seven men charged in Hull killing to be tried in Montreal
  • Hull bar operator sues police
  • Two found not guilty of arson conspiracy in Commercial Tavern fire
  • 2 get life terms for torture death
  • Bar gets liquor licence back; Judge rules Hull business’s rights violated
  • “King of Coke” busted in undercover sting operation

…and just for kicks, here’s an excerpt from one of the articles, slightly edited to protect the guilty:

He is known in the region for sit-up marathons to raise money for charity. But he also has a lengthy criminal record, including drug possession, plotting to traffic cocaine, obstruction of justice in a murder at the bar and failure to register a firearm. At liquor board hearings last year, RCMP Sgt. Paul Theriault testified that he was the head of a vast drug-trafficking organization tied to cities in Canada and northern United States.

Over a 3 1/2-year period, police said they intervened 63 times at the basement bar in Hull. Sixty people were charged with various crimes. Some of the complaints range from refusing to evacuate the bar after an anonymous bomb threat in 1988, to packing in 280 patrons though fire regulations allow only 187.

One woman was beaten at the bar after refusing advances from two pimps who wanted her to prostitute for them. Another woman had a broken glass ground into her face after refusing a man’s sexual advances.

He’s a fairly entitled fellow, having grown up in a castle in Turkey on a street that bears his family’s name (which has since been taken over by the Turkish government, and turned into a museum and movie set).

He’s also the reason my mother and I moved around so much when I was young; we had to stay one step ahead of him and his friends. The most time I ever spent with the man was when he kidnapped me as a child, I think, but the details are hazy. I did make an attempt to get to know him during my early teenage years, where he made his only positive contribution to my life: full access to a nightclub, dj gear, and a night of the week to do what I wanted with.

Sometime around this period we were made aware by the RCMP that my family and I had been under 24/7 police surveillance for years (sorry about that, Josh), and could expect to be under periodic surveillance pretty much forever (sorry about that, everyone I’ve ever lived with). It is also around this time I learned that, even if you’re guilty of a crime, if the police don’t like you they will just plain make shit up and and try to fuck you as hard as they can.

I haven’t seen him in years. He used to make a point of showing up outside my office if I started a new job, or calling me at other people’s houses when I was travelling (sorry about that, Amanda), but I think he’s lost interest. Last I heard, he married a Russian girl my age and is settling down somewhere. (If you want to know where, just look for the city that has the most carbombings of white Jeep Grand Cherokees with gold runners.)

Mother.

I feel less comfortable telling her story, mostly because there are a lot of fresh wounds there. But I’ll try to describe her, at least briefly:

She spent time in Mount Cashel’s sister orphanage, taught me how to put on lipstick and eyeshadow, saved my ass when I was buying hot computers for the mob and a deal went bad, tried to pay one of my friends to sleep with me, would slap me if she ever saw me riding a bike that wasn’t a Harley, made a lot of terrible decisions, always did everything in her power to keep me safe as a child, and was so adversarial that I left home before I was old enough to collect student welfare.

..

What’s tomorrow’s meme topic? “What you ate today, in great detail”?

Man I am looking forward to that.

[02/30] Of beginnings and endings

Day 02 – Your first love, in great detail:

It was 1998, I had just turned nineteen, and her name was Amanda. She had come with a friend to a birthday weekend cottage trip, and I think I started to fall for her when I realized she knew all the samples on The Prodigy Experience. We stayed up all night together on the beach, and it wasn’t long after that before we said ‘I love you’.

We spent a summer together doing all the things young people in love do, and then she moved to Peace River. Between long love letters and a week-long Christmas visit (via a 3-day Greyhound ride), we kept up a long-distance relationship for six months or so before it ended.

When I was a teenager, I used to lie like it was going out of style. It didn’t matter what. Big lies, small lies, brilliant lies, stupid lies. I lied if I liked you, I lied if I didn’t like you, I lied if the sun came out from behind a cloud, whatever. So when I realized that Amanda was The One, I wanted to make the foundation of our relationship an honest one. I told her about all the big, small, brilliant and stupid lies I had told her and all of our mutual friends. And, unsurprisingly (although quite surprisingly at the time) she said she couldn’t trust me and that was the end of that.

Looking over my old (unpublished) website archives, I found this Valentine’s Day entry from 1999:

“Good night, Jairus.” she said through tears, and I knew we wouldn’t speak again, not the way two people in love do.

There was a click, and the line went dead. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, I thought. There was supposed to be a happily-ever-after, or at the very least a horribly cliched breakup, something I could write about in my diary.

But there wasn’t. There was only the dull hum of the line, and me standing in the kitchen, feeling very, very much alone.

I mostly remember being stunned; I didn’t quite get how being honest with someone could mean that they wouldn’t trust you anymore.

Everything changed after that. I realized that if The Person Who Loves Me Most couldn’t handle being close to me, then I was likely doing something wrong. I wrote an open letter to my friends, letting them know that I had lied to all of them, each and every one.

The fallout was exactly as bad as you might think it would be. Some people didn’t care. Some people forgave me, but we were never really close after. Some people never spoke to me again. Some people screamed at me until they cried.

Years later, I rebuilt a friendship with Amanda. There were a lot of mea culpas, a lot of tentative steps to figure out if as adults we were interested in opening up again after caring so much about each other as teenagers. We spent time together on the rare occasions we were in the same city, dropped little notes to each other in tough times, talked about old friends and old stories.

Then, a few months ago, I said to her that rainbow parties are myth and moral panic and it was crazy to be worried about the dangers they pose to her unborn child, and she de-friended me on Facebook.

So that’s nice.

[01/30] Content Creation Meme, first in a series

Day 01 – Introduction:

I’m Jairus. I’m 31 years old, male, and I live in the city I was born in; Ottawa, Canada.

I work as the Web Communications Coordinator for a Crown Corporation, a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill. I’m trying to cut down on the amount of groups/classes/etc that I identify as, but my Twitter bio claims that I am a DJ, hacker, electronic musician, designer, and copyright nerd. Things I am not include: white, straight, vanilla, liberal/conservative, religious, or good with money.

I don’t remember much of my childhood, which is probably for the best. I have a lot of siblings, but grew up with my mother, and my brother Josh. (My younger brother named Josh, that is. I also have an older brother named Josh. It’s complicated.) As a teenager I was very good at hacking, stealing, telling stories, being homeless, making friends, lying, and Quake. I moved to Toronto with my then-girlfriend (Jessica) and then-roommate (Venk) shortly after I got a job and a home, and spent a few years there alternately making crazy dot-com money and surviving on a bag of unwashed rice and other people’s leftovers.

After coming back to Ottawa and spending most of my 20s living and loving with the multi-talented DJ Leslie and a rotating cast of friends, foes, and family, I struck out on my own last year, and now live alone in Chinatown with two feral kittens, three video game systems, and four single-purpose kitchen appliances. I’m madly in love with the beautiful Audra Williams, and try to avoid having Facebook describe any of my other relationships as ‘complicated’.

I’ve just returned from a 5-week tour of the United States and Canada (playing the final show tomorrow at Zaphods, where I’ve DJed with Leslie for nearly a decade), and am really looking forward to figuring out what it is I want to do next.

Continue reading

Wind and Cities (or: this is not a tour diary)

In Chicago. Spent the day wandering the city (including a fantastic two hours as part of an architecture walking tour), and have been left with tired feet and a heavy heart.

Being in the United States is rough at the best of times, and seeing just how many mentally ill, homeless, hungry people there are in this city gets to me. It’s so fucking brutal.

The tour’s coming to an end, which is of course bittersweet. I’m looking forward to seeing the people (and kittens) in Ottawa that I love and miss, but there’s a lot about the city that leaves me raw when I think about it. Homesickness, without any city that makes me feel like I’m home.

Going to go out to Neo tonight. We’ll see if my sorrows float.

Are we there yet?

+ I ate delicious barbeque for a week while I was in Texas!
– However, I might have broken my wrist there.
+ …while I was riding a mechanical bull.
– …because of an Irishman who thinks he’s HILARIOUS.
– Irishmen.
+ Audra has been staying with me at my apartment for the last week since I got back, and it has been the best week I’ve had in a long, long time.
+ I will be taking over a larger 1-bedroom apartment in my building at the end of the month!
+ This means I will have room to get a portable dishwasher. Oh sweet jesus yes.
+ I’m doing some really awesome UI/Wordpress stuff at work for the new website.
+ A lot of people are going to be using it after it launches.
– A very heavy speaker fell off a shelf and onto my face on Tuesday.
– Percocet seems to serve only to make me nauseous and useless.
± The combination of facial abrasions, fat lip, and splinted wrist appears to encourage strangers to be very, very nice to me.
+ Booking for the bigass autumn tour is going well.
– I need more downtime.

07/14/1978 – 03/02/2006

Squid

You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me waiting for spring and summer
You will find me waiting for the fall
You will find me waiting for the apples to ripen
You will find me waiting for them to fall
You will find me by the banks of all four rivers
You will find me at the spring of conciousness
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain
You will find me if you want me in the garden
unless it’s pouring down with rain

37.5 million seconds

A little over a year and a month ago, I got a message titled “BFF 4 EVER” from an audrawilliams. She thought we’d get along, she said.

oh hai

After discovering that we worked across the street from each other, we met for lunch the next day, and spent a good two or three hours talking about politics, music, childhood.

Two months after that, we were presenting together at Podcamp in Toronto, and it wasn’t very long after that she found a ridiculous kitten to keep me company in my new apartment.

blinky

She’s smart, accomplished, hilarious, and so stunningly beautiful that I can’t really wrap my head around it. In the short time that I’ve known her, she has introduced me to incredible people, helped me tackle a lot of very daunting problems, caused an international incident, helped shape the progressive political dialogue in Canada through her work with the NDP, and impacted my life in more ways than I could ever expect to have words for.

She accomplished something really amazing today, and while I’ll leave it to her to decide if she wants to talk about it, I could not be more proud of her.

Congratulations, Audra. You’re incredible, you make the lives of everyone close to you better, and everyone who loves you knows they’re lucky to know you.

audra and jairus

I love you so much.

On masculinity

I wrote this reply to a question posed on LiveJournal asking about the contemporary definitions of masculinity, and what (if anything) separates the masculine from the feminine. No one responded over there, so I’m reposting it here, because I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on the subject.

Do not reply to this post to argue about feminism.

I suspect that there’s a lot to be said on this topic with regards to fatherhood, but I don’t have any experience in that area to draw on.

There are a few different questions here, I think.

1: What is the contemporary definition of masculine?
2: Can you construct a contemporary definition of masculine, using positive traits that are exclusive to men?
3: What traits should be deferred to men so as to consider those traits exclusively masculine?

The answer to the first question isn’t terribly flattering, and the nature of the second question makes it impossible to answer without being sexist (as it is equivalent to asking “what positive traits do women lack?”).

Personally, I don’t agree that a trait can only be ascribed to one or not the other in order for it to be masculine/feminine, because the context of the male experience and the female experience are so different that a trait (let’s say, promiscuity, or humility) is not the same thing for a man that it is for a woman. Saying that humility is a masculine trait might be positive, because to be humble men may have to recognize their own male privilege. Saying that humility is a feminine trait might be negative, because it’s morally elevating a symptom of oppression.

This article is interesting, I think. It makes a lot of positive “men are” declarations about men that would be totally unremarkable status quo statements if said about women, (A man doesn’t point out that he did the dishes. A man looks out for children. Makes them stand behind him. A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to.) and a number of fairly provocative statements that I don’t think translate as easily, for better or for worse. (Maybe he never has, and maybe he never will, but a man figures he can knock someone, somewhere, on his ass. A man knows how to lose an afternoon. Drinking, playing Grand Theft Auto, driving aimlessly, shooting pool. A man fantasizes that kung fu lives deep inside him somewhere. A man knows how to sneak a look at cleavage and doesn’t care if he gets busted once in a while.)

Personally, I don’t think contemporary society is terribly interested in buying into the idea of positive masculinity. It’s dangerous to say “this is male, this is good” if you’re adverse to the idea of inferring something bad about being not-male.

2-(3-[4-(3-chlorophenyl)piperazin-1-yl]propyl) – [1,2,4]triazolo[4,3-a]pyridin-3(2H)-one

(One of) my therapist(s) has recommended that I keep a private daily journal, as well as an ongoing ‘worry list’ in point form. I have not been very successful with either task.

Right now, I am worried about:

  • Not being able to fall asleep
  • Falling asleep and getting too little sleep to function well tomorrow
  • Falling asleep with the help of a sleeping pill and being too chemically hungover to wake up in the morning
  • An early-morning meeting at work
  • Money to pay for:
    • Various outstanding bills related to moving
    • New hard drives (and a new media server to put them in) to replace the ones that have been failing (with data loss) over the last two months
    • The trip to NYC I took last weekend
    • Expenses incurred returning home by bus as a result of the (borrowed, ten year old) car blowing a gasket in upstate New York
    • A trip to Albany this weekend to go pick up the soon-to-be-repaired car and bring it back to Ottawa
    • Whatever part of the massive car repair bill the owner of the car doesn’t feel like paying
  • If I’m going to lose 4 1/2 weeks saved vacation time due to sick leave / insurance issues at work
  • Not being able to do an Ad·ver·sary (or Cyanotic, or…) tour in the next 12 months due to a lack of vacation time
  • How a number of different people (and animals) that I love are doing
  • Not having nearly enough time.

Hoping for a quiet day and a quieter evening, tomorrow.

Things that make you go blog

Things that make me sad:

  • Not having support you need from friends
  • Discussing power and gender
  • Staying up all night (because you can’t sleep)
  • Not having what you need to cook what you want
  • Really missing the cats you lived with

Things that make me happy:

  • Connecting with people you should have met a long time ago
  • Discussing politics and strategy
  • Staying up all night (because you don’t want to sleep)
  • Breaking in new dishes with delivery pizza
  • Finalizing plans to pick up new kittens

status++

+ I am posting this from in my new place in Chinatown.
+ My new apartment is two floors above someone amazing who I love.
– She has terrible wireless!
+ I got a free a mug with a kitten on it from the people who moved out!
+ Also a couch and TV stand!
– My TV just might be too epic to fit through the stairs.
+ I played an awesome set at Festival Kinetik in Montreal back in May, without a single on-stage reboot.
+ I also released the Ad·ver·sary remix disc!
+ I have some good ideas for the next Ad·ver·sary record.
+ They involve coal miners.
+ I have been practising for my Bluesfest show with Peter Murphy.
+ I also played an awesome show with Cyanotic at Zaphods.
–  …but I couldn’t join them for the whole tour due to work/sick/more.
± I then spent at least twenty hours watching Ken Burns documentaries in a haze of sickness.
– I have been too stressed and busy to write much lately.
+ I am going to order pizza.
+ It is going to be delicious.

Addendum:
+ It was delicious.