Scene Cards

Just wanted to briefly celebrate the fact that I’ve finished all the scene cards for my first romance novel!

scene cards

There they are. Graciously transferred from word processing lists to actual note cards by my host, Alexander, who, unlike me, has legible penmanship.

I have two hopes for the project.  I’d like to a) finish it, and b) manage to make Geoffrey and I look, as dramatic adolescents, even marginally sympathetic.   Had I a time machine, I’d flick us both on the ear.

 

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Hopeful Romantic

At one point, nearly…Christ, a decade ago, now, I attempted to write memoirs.

(Good god I’ve been a manifested ghost a long time.)

Initially, my host and I accumulated about 450 single-spaced pages, divided into sections regarding my childhood before I arrived in London, my young adult-hood as I approached marriage, my newly-wed years, and my years as a father.

It was all rather serious stuff—an accounting of a life, rather than the reliving of one.  This has largely to do with the fact that when I first manifested, I was rather a stick-in-the-mud, lacking in real personality and foisting this sort of agreeable, but utterly Victorian manner upon my host.

I understand now that ghosts long-dead and then suddenly manifested remember their public personas first, followed, often slowly, by their more poignant and complex memories.  Personalities fill back in over time.

Mine did, to be damn sure.  I flatter myself to think that my sense of humour is rather obvious, now.  I admit that my vices and penchants are equally as obvious.  And I’ve recovered my losses so that they might heal, my romance so that it might bloom, and my hobbies, interests, and tendency toward self-exploration so that I might grow.

The people who graced my life have become more real to me, as well.

Geoffrey, who I had thought to be my best mate, crawled into my bed and happily reminded me he was also my husband.  Marion, who I had remembered as my sweet wife, flew down off the mantle where I’d placed her and rightly berated me for idolizing her into inactivity, forgetting how far her radicalism went.  My friends, employers, and acquaintances exploded into colour and humour. And Jon, my darling boy, died again, forcing me to face my depression and to summon the courage to really, fully remember him—not only his giggles, his beauty, and his intellect, but also his stubbornness, his stark honesty, and his tendency to exhaust those around him with queries and challenges.

Naturally, I wanted to apply these correctives to my original memoirs, which had come to seem stagnant and false.  But by the time I had gathered enough of myself to consider such a task, Alex was deep into his graduate studies and fully immersed in the re-writing of his historical fantasy novel.  Oh, and I had, you know, remarried, become a father again, co-launched a fashion line, and taken on international modeling.

These things do quite fill a schedule, haha.

Then Alex finished his novel and sent it off for beta-editing.  He moved away from toxic environments to work on his dissertation in relative peace.  Marc and I settled into our business and charity, finding it all rather less bewildering.  Paces slowed.

I started thinking about those memoirs again…

Only now, I’ve been thinking…what if I wrote them as romances?

You see, one of the things Alex and I did have time for over the years was a shared love of m/m historical romance.  The plots!  The characters! The history and fashion!  It’s delicious, and sends me right back to my time in late-regency, early-Victorian London, curled up on a chaise, listening to Geoff read me poetry.  Hoping he’d put down the book and, um…well…

That’s rather the only problem with the idea.  Even just reading romance turns me into a fidgeting, blushing mess.  Not that I’m a prude—far from it, which is perhaps part of the hesitation to consider my amorous exploits in lush detail.

I mean, not far.  Far enough, though.  Oh, I don’t know…

But I’m determined to best the bashful, because in outline, the narrative thrust of the memories I want to share work so well for romance.  They’re funny, complex, lovely, sad, and triumphant.  And quite frankly, when I’m on my own, away from the fear of embarrassment, the stories fly out of my pen in such a way as to convince me of my need and ability to write them.

So, there it is.  I’m going to take a crack at romance novels.

On the site, that means you may be seeing a bit more of my Victorian life, as well as some recollections on the time—its politics, fashions, employment, operas, poetry, etc.  I hope that’s enjoyable.

You may also see new portraits from time to time, as Alex has agreed to sketch my loves, my friends, and their respective loves, who often became my friends, in turn.

And you might see bits of conversations, dialogue now, one supposes, as my compatriots and lovers were hilarious, lovely, sharply discerning folks who I’m convinced would like to be heard even now.

You will likely not see…um…saucy bits?  That sounds…anyway…

Let’s see how this goes, shall we?

New Portrait: The Kiddos

My ever gracious alively host, Alexander, has produced a new portrait of my children:

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I adore it.  I adore everything about it.  Especially all the little touches that make it so extraordinarily specific to them and their relationship.

What’s that?  You want me to discuss the portrait?  You want me to go on at length about my children? How kind.

I’ll start with Mira, as she jumped off the page first.  I mean, of course she did.  Look at her.  That is the hair of a child who likes to be noticed.

She denies it, but it’s true.

Every once in a while, she lets me soothe it with relaxer into these utterly stunning waves, straight out of the 1920s.  Or she lets Popa braid it in intricate Roman fashion.  But on the whole, wild and unruly is her chosen style.

Likely, that’s on account of the fact that her entire person is wild and unruly.  She is the sort to run straight towards danger.  She has a knack for finding the jagged edges on the world, where transformations are most like to happen, and brazenly flinging herself through them catching her omnipresent tutus on the way by.  She subdues ordinary friction and drama with a glance, but only to create friction and drama that more suits her.  She exists for the unexpected, and when things are going as expected, she creates it.

It can be a bit exhausting keeping up with her.  I have more than once rolled my eyes in a parent-teacher sit down where she sullenly explains that ‘the vase was bound to break anyway’ or ‘he had it coming’.

But we’ve found outlets for her particular brand of crazy.  Modeling, for instance, has proved a brilliant success, as it suits her desire to be seen, to destroy for the sake of art, and to gallop through adult spaces and dare anyone to question her presence.  We also let her go on solo walkabouts at the end of the summer (although they have shortened in length, and she didn’t even go last year).  And we let her have the odd glass of wine or champagne, often in front of the fire, where we encourage her to start creating through-lines in her philosophies and settle some of her anxious spirit.

We’ve also placed strictures, of course.  Lately we insisted that she must learn to read, which engages her in the portrait.

Jeremy–J–already knows how to read.  In fact, his position in this portrait is that of silent support, with the occasional correction, as Mira tolerates his interventions over anyone else’s.

That’s likely on account of the fact that J is the most patient, gorgeous, efficacious empath I have ever met.  Ever.

I recently ran across an article that introduced me to the idea of ‘holding space’ for someone–existing on the periphery or centre of the lives around you, as needed, and swooping in or pulling back based on the requirements of others; providing support without judgement, advice, or didactic intention.

J holds all of us.

He holds you, even though you’ve never met, I swear to god.

He tells us that he was just made with an extra big heart, and that he chooses to fill it with love and kindness.  Truly, this child…

Actually, that brings me to another point.  Although J cannot remember how he died, Marcus and I suspect that it had something to do with his heart.  His vocabulary is very heart-centric.  He will tell us his heart is sad, when he’s upset.  When he’s happy, his heart is happy.  When he’s ecstatic, he often bursts into tears or falls asleep, because there’s not enough room in his heart for all his love.

He’s also rather small for his age–a suspected 4–and he sports ever-present circles under his eyes.  He moves carefully, without the wild abandon of most toddlers, and sometimes we catch him taking a deep breath, almost as if to prove that he can.

We presented these lingering symptoms and behaviours to a pediatric death doctor–literally a ghost who helps little ones sort through their departures–and he agreed that it was likely some sort of failing of the heart that took J out of the alively world.  A cardiomyopathy of some sort.

J seems utterly uninterested in diagnosing his death–Marc and I attended to this for our own edification and won’t be sharing the results with J unless he asks.

And that’s fine by us.  We are more than happy to let him be what he is–careful, considered, and yet ephemeral and liminal.  Almost otherworldly, at times, despite the warmth of his cuddles and his position as the flexible backbone of our family unit.

Other notes on the portrait:

The pets are Cozy–Lady Costanza of Motherfuck Island–and Earl Pink.

Those wings, J would want you to know, were a Christmas present last year–balsa wood reinforced with teak and embedded with jade.  I made them, with help from Delphi for the stone settings.  They’re one of a growing collection of faerie wings, which J hangs up around his room and selects each morning with the seriousness of a man selecting cufflinks for an interview.  A pair of puffy wings with safety straps hang on J’s frog bed, so that he can be a faerie prince as he sleeps.

Yes, we field a lot of comments–vicious and curious, alike–about J’s hair.  He said it best himself, when asked if he was a boy or a girl: Mostly I’m a faerie.  I’m also four. 

Yes, we also field a lot of comments about Mira’s hair.  Or she does.  With a reckless abandon for profanity.

(We tried to get her to swear less for a while, as seemed a befitting sort of thing for a parent to do.  But she reminded us that she was over a century old, and therefore our ‘children shouldn’t swear’ argument held as much water as a sieve.  She also challenged us to consider whether or not we would be so concerned about her filthy mouth if she were not a girl.  Chagrined, we decided, fuck it.  Fuck it, she agreed.)

Yes, I have the best children. Naturally.

My Husband Thinks I’m a Serial Killer

…and I’m not discouraging this belief.

I mean, really, I was going to write about an oratorio in which I recently performed–tenor soloist–but this is far more interesting.

It started, I think because Marcus and Alex and I had been listening to far too much First Podcast on the Left.  After a time, Marc begged the Facebook question, ‘Who is be more like be secret serial kill, Elias or me?  We are be talk about for four hour and can non decide.’

Alex declared, definitively, ‘Jesus you’re weird.  Also, 100% Elliot, how was this even a question’.

‘See, I am think so, too’, says the husband, ‘but then Elias is convince me I am be equal like to be serial kill.  Which is like…so serial kill thing to do, shit’.

That’s fine, I think to myself.  But curious.  I ask for clarification: ‘ I feel like Marc would be so much more successful in this endeavour—he’s charming, seductive, and lethal’.

‘I am mean, I am think you are be exact same.  AND you are coach young model for total murder.  AND you are be super nice so no one is expect.  AND you are be kind of creep sometime, #shrug.  Now we are need police name for’.

He thinks about it…

‘THE MODEL KILLER’

I admit, there was a split second where I was a bit miffed.  I would never, never in a thousand years, hurt anyone who wasn’t an immediate threat to me or my family.  And I take the mentoring of my models very seriously—in an industry where it is so easy to feel unsafe, unwanted, I think it is massively important to have established models looking out for your well-being and showing you the ropes.

But of course Marc and my mates know this, which is why the irritation only lasted a split second, quickly morphing into a desire to prank the Good Christ out of them all.

I spent the rest of the night and morning trying to google ‘Creepy Victorian’ to pick out a new serial killer profile picture without unnerving myself.  Jesus God, it really was an odd time.

creepy-headless-portrait-6

This was a trend. Fuck me…

Next evening, a mate texts Marcus—has Elliot killed you yet?

‘Non, but he is keep look at me weird’!

I sigh over his shoulder at the text. ‘This is my normal face. This is the face you see every day, you’ve just convinced yourself I’m a serial killer. You neurotic crazy person’.

‘Face of serial kill. IS BE SO FACE OF SERIAL KILL’.  He turns back to his mobile. ‘Elias is total have dead model in basement of townhouse’, he texts. ‘Like for take bath in blood for look young’.

‘That is absurd. I’m a ghost’.

‘So is be absurd because you are be ghost, non because you are non kill anyone’?

I take a sip of wine. ‘It’s absurd for both reasons’.

‘IS WHAT SERIAL KILL IS SAY’.  He’s texting furiously ‘…he is so serial kill me’.

Now was the time, I decided.  With that panicked set to Marc’s shoulders, the grimace on his lips while he texted, the wariness in his eyes as I slid down onto the couch beside him.  He was ripe for the pranking.

‘First of all, I can’t serial kill one man’, I explain.  ‘That would have to be a singular kill’.  He shakes his head, as if to say, you are not making this better.  Which is entirely the point.  ‘The name you came up with for me is enticing, I’ll admit’.

His fingers freeze up like claws around his mobile.  ‘OMG, you are total be kind of serial kill who is write police and be like, good show police cop, try again, here are be detail of where I am bury model and who they are wear at time of death’.

I laugh.  ‘And the police say, dear god, he dressed them in human skin suits’!

‘WHY YOU ARE EVEN THINK OF’

I blink at him, the very picture of calm reason.  ‘They’re police.  They wouldn’t be inclined to know the phrase ‘who are you wearing.’  They would assume I had skinned someone alive, and dressed someone else in that skin.  For Heaven’s sake, have a glass of wine, you’re so jumpy’.

The phone dings, and Marc starts and looks down at it in flashes, trying to keep an eye on me as he does.  ‘Does Elliot have any rooms you’re not allowed to go in’? he reads. ‘OMG at townhouse! There is be room’!

‘Oh for, that’s the boys’ common room! I told them I wouldn’t infringe upon it. I don’t go in there either’!

‘You can non spell serial kill without LIE’.

‘Profound’.  I fetch wine for Marcus, and slide it into his hand.  He doesn’t drink from it. ‘The fact that you find this even slightly possible is hilarious to me. You could murder me in your sleep, and have, in fact, tried to do so’.

He relents to my statement with a careful sip.  ‘Like one time, before I am be used to sleep by someone again and I am think you are be wild animal attack’.

‘Also the beheading, which wasn’t in your sleep.  And I think you’ve ‘accident killed’ me a third time’.

He thinks about it.  ‘Non, you are fall off roof’.

I nod sagely.  ‘Right.  Anyway. Come on, let’s have a bath.  I promise I won’t strangle and drown you’.

‘O.M.F.G.’

‘I said I won’t! I WON’T drag you under the water and watch the life leave your eyes, Jesus’.

The look on his face clearly states that he never expected me to say such a thing.

Naturally, I spent the next few days deepening his psychosis.  It’s actually not hard to do, once you have your significant other on eggshells.

Step One: Begin complimenting them in an entirely clinical fashion.  ‘What a nice torso you have,’ you say, running your hand across their shoulders.

Step Two: Calmly sit by the bed and wait for them to awake.  Smile wordlessly and walk from the room.  As though you watched them sleep all night.

Step Three:  Do chores, as usual, but make sure to pick the creepy ones—the ones that involve time spent in basements or sheds.  You must return from these chores with some small amount of blood on you, that’s key.

Step Four: Disappear entirely from time to time.  When you return, to flying accusation, recommend some yoga or meditation.  That goes over reaaaaal well.

Step Five: Decide on an M.O. and casually work it into conversation.

For instance, I suggested that a mate deal with a problem at work by making a bullet point list for her boss and then feeding it to her.  And when Marc gave me the up-and-down, I clarified, ‘Don’t worry, honey, I’m not recommending she murder her boss.  My modus operandi is to fill people’s lungs not their stomachs.  Although, I suppose I could buy up all those devices for soaking up industrial spills and just feed them to people until they exploded like seagulls’.

‘What. in. Fuck’.

‘Not you’.

Pat their leg reassuringly.

Step Six: Give in to cute aggression.  It reads entirely differently when your S.O. thinks you’re a serial killer.  And for that matter, act on all those smothering, squeezing, biting urges that would otherwise seem totally normal.  Offer to help cut up the vegetables for supper.  Decide that now is a good time to sharpen the knives.  Indoors.  Remark on the strength of your shoelaces or your new workout routine.  Do you keep a journal? Start keeping a journal.

Step Seven:  The caveat? You love your partner, or you wouldn’t be teasing them thusly.  So make sure to spread out the above steps over time so that they don’t toss you over for less serial killer infested waters.  And let a month go by here and there without any activity.  It’s about the long game.  And about the possibility of a love life during these trying, prank-filled times.

Quoz, I think I might be a horrible man?

But I won’t tell Marcus, as psychopaths don’t feel remorse.