[08/30] Of cities in dust

Day 08 – A moment, in great detail:

It was snowing now, light flakes betraying the morning sun’s promise of spring. I took a long moment in the doorway before I joined the crowd, fifty people moving in a hundred directions. To work. From work. To a friend’s home. To pick up the baby. To start a new job. To break up with their lover. To light the fireplace at home.

I feel insulated, now. The crowd protects me from the snow, the snow protects me from seeing anything too far away, and anything too far away doesn’t exist in any meaningful sense anyway.

I duck into a coffee shop for caffeine and quiet reading. I’ve spent so many hours of my life here, but it’s somehow different now, and there isn’t a flicker of recognition in the faces of anyone who looks up. I’m still insulated by the snow, by feeling like you’ve come home and found some other family watching your TV and eating off your plates.

I make my order and open the book to page one. It’s a beautiful place to be — fresh coffee, crisp pages, a new story in a familiar setting.

Toronto.

[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.

[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.

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