20 December 2009: I took this down a while back, in response to some feedback from friends that thought it was creepy, excessive, and pathetic. Since then, I’ve had the unfortunate experience of a protracted close association with someone who contributed nothing to my life but boredom (and in some exceptional moments, grief). That made me realize, again, just how important it is to recognize the people who do leave an indelible Sharpie-mark on our lives.
Also, the subject said it was okay.
Usually once a person becomes famous or successful, they take the time to thank the people that helped them get there; the people that influenced them, pushed them, inspired them or were just there for them.
I’m not famous, and hardly successful.
Still, there’s someone who already deserves my thanks, respect, and praise. And she deserves it whether or not I have done, or will ever do, anything notable.
Really, it’s long past due. For that, I apologize.
I met jessrawk—that’s not her real name, but it might as well be—in person, a year and a day ago. In one way or another, without exaggeration, she has had an effect on every moment and aspect of my life since then (and, to be honest, even before that day).
Before I met jessrawk I was, well, married with three kids. I voted Conservative. I sneered at Mac users. I ate greasy A&W hamburgers several times a week and paid an uncomfortable price in waistline, digestion and wallet.
It was jessrawk that, first and foremost, inspired me to write again. She also inspired me to strive to get better at it; to check my facts, to make sense, to put feeling into it. It’s a work in progress.
Now, my soul’s pretty flame-retardant. It may only take a pair of glasses, dark straight hair and fishnet stockings to turn my head, but it takes a whole lot more to ignite my heart. I was even naive, or egotistical, enough to believe it couldn’t be done.
I was wrong.
It’s not really a secret that I fell for her like Easter on a Sunday. The girl’s picture has graced my iPhone since I got it, and the phone I had before that since about the day we met. It’s not coming off, either. I couldn’t bear to change it.
What would I change it to, anyway? I challenge anyone or anything to mean that much to me again. Go on, surprise me.
Jessrawk is music. Every movement of hers is the step of a dance. She knows more about music, good music, than anyone else I know of.
If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t know and, in some cases, love the Weakerthans, Okkervil River, Danny Michel, Luke Doucet, Buck 65, Propagandhi, Jim Bryson, Pulp, The Smiths, Islands, The Eels, Interpol, Gentleman Reg, Hawksley Workman, and Ron Hawkins. I wouldn’t even know Death Cab For Cutie or Tegan and Sara, although those aren’t directly her doing. I wouldn’t have frequent cause to remember Thrush Hermit, This Minor Tremble, The Rheostatics and The Inbreds. I would never have seen Eppiphane, Amos the Transparent, Jesse Dangerously or the Centretown Cripplers. This list is not exhaustive.
My music collection would probably be a banal mix of Rush, DEVO, They Might Be Giants, Metallica and Johnny Cash. Not that there isn’t still some of that in my library, but the play count is quite low.
Let’s not get started on film. It’s enough that she nudged me towards Bruce McDonald. Pontypool qualifies as my favourite movie ever, and I was pretty impressed with The Tracey Fragments (it was disturbing, and for a film to disturb me, to break my heart, is pretty monumental).
Gender inequality has always bothered the hell out of me, despite my undeniable misogynistic streak. Jessrawk pretty much qualifies as an authority on gender theory. I’m knee-deep in The Female Eunuch, Cunt and Manifesta not because she told me to read them, but since I know because of her that there is something I can learn from them.
She convinced me (quite effortlessly) to sign up for Facebook. And I couldn’t live more than a couple of days without watching her status change from Thrush Hermit to Leonard Cohen lyric.
She certainly didn’t try to convert me to a vegan diet or lifestyle. That being said, when you’re sitting across from the greatest rhetorical mind you’ve ever met, lifting bits of chicken to your mouth and realizing that you just don’t enjoy it anymore, and you can’t find a logical argument to support continuing to eat animal products… well, it’s sort of silly to think one way and act another. So I gave it up. Milk I’d tossed out a while back. Eggs, dairy, honey, meat… all completely gone from my diet for maybe a month now. I’ve never felt better, by the way. It’s a bit vain, but the fact that I’ve dropped two pants sizes since I met her is due in no small part to the effect she’s had on my eating habits, and my lifestyle in general.
She was very kind to me, especially when I didn’t deserve it.
She taught me I was stubborn and self-centered. (I still am, of course.)
There are so many things she did for me.
So, what did I do for her?
Well, I bought her a church organ, a pair of really nice boots, and some art off the wall of the Black Tomato. I wrote her poetry. (Okay, it was mostly bad, but I wrote her poetry.) I made sure she had a spot in line to get an iPhone the day they came out in Canada. I took her to dinner more evenings than I can count, even when it meant walking three hours in either direction through the snow during the Ottawa bus strike. I brought her medicine when she was sick, band-aids when she was hurt, groceries when she was hungry, and coffee when she was studying. I got her tickets to several concerts. I gave her more Christmas presents at once than I did for everyone else combined in the past five years. I ran her papers to campus in the middle of the night to drop them off so she could meet her deadlines. I went without a bus pass for a while so that she could have one. (I didn’t tell her at the time, but I’m sure she knew.)
Some of my friends have said I did too much, that I went far out of my way for her.
That’s not the way that I see it.
I regret that I didn’t do enough.
I don’t rightly know if you’ll end up reading this, jessrawk. If you do: thank you, and I’m sorry it took so long.