Roman Escapades

Alex’s guest post makes it sound as though I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with nary a care.

That’s not entirely true.

I spent two weeks gallivanting through Rome with precisely one care, namely, the dearth of tea in Italy.  I was nearly forced to drink a cappuccino, the horror.

No, but really, it was a rollicking good time.  And I suppose I should explain a bit more fully what I was up to.

You might recall my mentioning, earlier in the summer, that I was slated to appear in a fashion film for Richard’s line, Cavalier.  Normally, we advertise by dressing as piratical gentleman and commandeering pleasure yachts in the Mediterranean.  (No, I know.) But Richard decided he would like to try his hand at land-based conquests, and so this film was born.

The script was…well there wasn’t really a script.  There was merely a scenario: two Lotharios, one gay, one straight, go to a party as each other’s wingmen where they end up meeting their objects of pursuit and proceed to chase them across the gorgeous Italian countryside until conquests are made and everyone falls in love.

The bloke playing the straight lead–this sort of vaguely rakish Ken-doll who insisted upon calling himself ‘Britain’–thought it was charming.

His counterpart–a spunky American model named Molly with hair straight from the 1930s and a queer girlfriend named Lamplight–thought it was horseshit.

And I, as well as my counterpart Fox, saw it for what it was–the absurdist theatre of Richard’s most tongue-in-cheek dreams.  We were able to convince Molly of this, with Lam’s help, and so filming began.

The first day of filming was a bit stressful, I must say.  I’m quite used to being dressed up and paraded about at this point, but moving cameras are quite different from stationary ones, and the pace was arduous.  Then there was the lack of tea.  And the fact that I can’t ride a damn bike let alone a Moped.  And the sheer weight of performing ‘macho’ all day, as Fox played the more effeminate role on account of his delightfully elfin appearance.

But I hit my stride fairly quickly, and ended up rather enjoying myself.  The countryside is truly magical, with all its rolling hills and climbing cypress.

roman countryside

Now imagine a warm breeze ruffling your hair…

Marc joined me on set at least once a day, as well, to giggle at my ‘sexy face’ and make eyes at me whilst I marched around in jodhpurs and jackets.  And Fox was a delightful companion once he overcame his nerves about playing opposite ‘Mr. Brutus’, as I’m known throughout ghost Italy.

Meanwhile, the kiddos took to Rome with renewed fervor.

J went about everywhere in his little tunica and bulla, accepting parcels from townsfolk with the seriousness of mind that becomes the son of a Roman priest.  He also quite bonded quite with Claudius this visit and spent a great deal of time in the barnyard, learning to corral animals and read weather.

Mira did a bit of solo wandering, getting to know the land and the landscapes.  She also spent some time on horseback, introducing Nox around–Marc’s sneaky method of drawing her out into the town and forcing her to socialise.

And in all, we managed to use the time away to check in with a number of other friends.

Marie and Girafe came down from France for a ‘picnic’, which I should have known wouldn’t be a mere picnic.  They arrived with a boatload of lavish pillows, which Marie flung about a clearing in the countryside while Girafe made mysterious calls on his feather-covered mobile.  All of a sudden we had an oddly poofy, organic gazebo effect happening, and a vast array of food trucks from which to choose.

Delphi came out from the city no fewer than three times a week for afternoons that bled into suppers that bled into cocktails.  He and Claudius are no longer hiding their item-hood. They were as cozy as could be, and utterly sweet besides.  My favourite detail of their relationship: as Claudius is prone to forgetting to clean his spectacles, Delphi wears a soft cloth as a pocket square these days.  My heart!

And at the end of the trip, yes, we did go laze about in New Zealand with Matiu and Teddy and their son Miri.  I was quite ready for the time away from cameras and back in nail polish and loose tees.  Marc was ready to shed the immediate responsibility of representing Rome back to itself.  Mira and J were greedy for our time after all the excitement–quite gratifying, hehe–and I scarcely went ten minutes without a tiny hand in mine or a sleepy little face on my shoulder.

Now all that remains for the end of the summer is Marc’s participation in the war games.  He didn’t ‘play’ last year on account of the WWII theme, and he’s actually not leading any troops this year, either, to give other generals a chance to enjoy their moment in the sun.  But he will be providing live commentary from the stands this weekend, which is bound to be both enlightening and hilarious.  It’s a sea-battle, and he’s hoping they provided for ghost sharks to eat the fallen, because of course he’s hoping for that.

sea battle

Oh shit is ghost shark get out! – Marc

Oh, and I suppose I also have a birthday coming up, but I’m not terribly anticipatory.  It’s 199 this year, and I begged for a small gathering since I know for a fact I’m not escaping some monstrosity for my 200th.

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The Quiet Path to Peace

Father’s Day approaches, as it does every year, and as always, I am filled with both existential dread and riotous joy.

Rather odd how a greeting-card company creation can do that…

But I must say, this year, I’m more joy than dread.  And that has a great deal to do with my therapist, Jasmine, the task she set for me this last April, and the decision I came to as a result.

Jasmine, you see, asked me to celebrate Jon’s birthday in silence this year, to re-evaluate the depths of its meaning and his place in my life.  Her argument: To commemorate is sometimes to forget.  To speak at length is often to pull great loss into the shallows for public dissection.  She wanted to know how I felt about Jon when I was utterly alone with his memory.

At first, must say, I was a bit put off.  I’ve spent all this time reaching a point where I can talk about Jon without breaking down or, worse, fading out into vegetative depression consequent post-traumatic stress disorder.  And now I was supposed to be silent?  Had I not already adopted twice over?  Had I not conquered my guilt over Jon’s death to the extent that I perform well, and deservedly, as a father?  What was this?

But I did as she asked, because I knew she did not ask it lightly, and because I trust Jasmine immensely.  With both my life and my afterlife, quite frankly.

So, on Jon’s birthday—April 8th—I did not post to Facebook.  I did not decorate the house, buy a cake, go through my writings, or look at my recreated ‘photographic’ memories.  I sat, quietly, by myself, in my work shed, and about halfway through my day of silence I realised what Jasmine had wanted me to realise.

I am at peace with Jon.

I am at actual, quiet, exists-when-I-am-alone peace.

It’s not a peace without tears, without moments of crushing loss, without blips of fault.  It’s never perfect.  That’s not what peace is really about, is it? It’s not angels and trumpets; it’s acknowledging and turning down the devil.  It’s about hard emotional work becoming easier, and–for me–seeing that Jon would want me to have happiness.

My peace is Jon.

He is the constant tone—sometimes subtle and sometimes deafening—that underpins all the other melodies in my life.  A lynchpin in so many of my memories of Marion and Geoff.  A driving force in my own self-understanding and self-forgiveness.  A guide to my parenting.  A humbling reminder of what is important, what is superfluous, what is real, and what will pass.

At my next session, I walked straight into Jasmine’s office and right into her arms.  I didn’t know what to say, so I just hugged her for a while, hoping it would express gratitude.  She’s a let’s go running together, let’s have tea, let me hold your hand while you cry sort of therapist, so it worked.

We didn’t discuss it, really.  That was part of the exercise in quietude, the sharing of silent immensity.

I only talk about it now to share two things.

First, the exercise.  If you are in a similar place, do recommend.

Second, the decision.  The Junius-Smiths are going to actively pursue a third adoption.

Because, as it turns out, I am ready to do so.  I am prepared to process a shift in family dynamic.  I am prepared to welcome another little mind into my space, without feeling that I am pasting over Jon’s memory.  I am prepared for the search, the potential joys and heartbreaks, the possibility that this may take years, the necessary conversations.

The first conversation, of course, was with my husband.  If Jon is my pedal tone of peace, them Marc is my vibrant, dancing counterpoint. Yes, he said, of course he hasn’t changed his mind.  He wants another child.  He wants six hundred, with pets for all of them.

And then, of course, we talked to J and Mira, who’ve been asking for a sibling.  They were elated.  Serious about the process, but elated.

So, we begin our search this Sunday.  It’ll be a busy morning and afternoon with my administrative roles at JS Home for Children (always a popular visiting day).  But we’ve carved out time in our family supper and shindig for a slow start–familiarising J and Mira with traditional adoption processes, scheduling some visits at London- and Rome-based homes, planning our family video for adoption profiles.

God help us, three children…I already feel outnumbered.

But so excited.  So so so excited.

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.

Dinner Party Success!

(Marcus tried to make me name this post ‘Dinner Party is More Like Winner Party’)

So, May 1st was my big debut, and I am delighted to share that it went off without any major hitches.  In fact, I’d say it was a success!  A few of the most delicious details below…

I must start by saying that I am immensely proud of my family and grateful for their help in the matter.

Marcus was excellent moral support–every time I looked for him, he was at my arm, gracefully reentering conversation or just brushing shoulders long enough to remind me that he was watching out for me.  Also, the guests were obviously enamoured with the idea of a Roman in their midst, and he was more than happy to play the part.  He skulked about in a toga, sipping wine and looking ‘so mystery’.  And he only had to leave the room and giggle about it once or twice.

The children were also wonderful.  Mira gave a beautiful toast to Beltane over supper, and she looked absolutely smashing in a baby queen ball gown reminiscent of the 1920s–a sage green and lavender number she selected herself.  And J refused to move down table for a stodgy bastard who thought he should have been seated closer to me than my own son.  He just looked right up at this man and said ‘this seat is for faeries’ and continued to eat decorative parsley, and my heart soared.

I am also just thrilled with my two doorman/models who put on a good show.  Chauncey, shy and brilliant, worked the corners of the room, while Jerome, outgoing and…airy would be a nice way of putting it, charmed the milling centre.  And while their walks were still those of budding amateurs, that was really rather the point.  They’ll walk again when we open season in the winter, to demonstrate improvement.

And finally, I would be remiss as a ghost, Englishman, and moonlighting libertine, if I didn’t mention that Lord and Lady Rochester came to the party and left in incredibly high spirits.  That’s John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester of the court of Charles II, and his new wife/open-marriage-compatriot Drizell; Willy and Dizzy, known collectively as Lord and Lady Rooster, on account of them crowing gossip all through society.

John_Wilmot

I went to Elliot’s party.  Pinnacle moment of my afterlife, must say.

He wears less armour these days, but his hair is the same, as is his preference for satin.  He showed up in a tight-fitting blue satin suit with frothy, cream cravat and long black dress shoes with a bit of curl to the toe.  Very updated London.  And Drizell, a ghost from the 1940s, wore a gorgeous, ephemeral, glittering cream gown cut on the bias.  Both of them flirted shamelessly with Jerome.  And Lord Rochester invited me to one of his upcoming salons–he still writes unctuous poetry, which, while almost necessarily terrible, I cannot wait to hear.

And, in general, I would say people had a good time, myself included.  I was able to dispense with nerves as the supper progressed, falling totally into my role as society home owner and gentle eccentric.  Marc surprised me with a newly designed JS jacket for the occasion, which I debuted on the runway after dinner–russet leather lapels and pointillism grey wool.  And the house stood up to guests, with only one broken piece of pottery and a bit of spilled wine on the stairs.

Would I host again? Oddly enough, yes.

Am I looking forward to other society parties? Again, oddly enough, yes.

It’s a new age for Elliot, haha.

The Lovely Renewal

If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Vogue or Vanity Fair, then you’ve probably seen the cluster of pages toward the frontispiece wherein celebrities mill about at some party you’ve never heard of, wearing designer looks you can’t afford, clutching each other’s arms in an attempt to look like friends.

Celebrities-Inside-Vanity-Fair-Oscar-Party-2013-Pictures

Look at us. We are friends.

It’s disingenuous, dripping in diamonds…and, according to the PR firm what handles Marc and I, a celebrity rite of passage.

Knowing how loathe I am to participate in events and efforts that haven’t fully claimed my heart, Marc suggested that we throw our own Vogue-spread party, rather than attending some random soiree to fulfill our duties.

I agreed with the stipulation that it couldn’t benefit our own private coffers–no JS Design party–and it couldn’t capitalize on JS Home for Children–no sad orphan benefit.

He said that left either a massive birthday party for one of us, or, a massive wedding vow renewal party.  And as we had already missed his 2100th birthday, and my 200th isn’t for another two years…

So, we had a gigantic vow renewal.  We had an enormous guest list, ridiculous, designer party favours, an astronomical liquor bill, and…

…a smashing good time, I must admit.

This has mostly to do with Marc’s graceful party planning.  He started from a small list of requirements–that we actually renew our vows before our children, that we have a few readings by our best mates, that we forgo gifts in lieu of donations to a core set of causes, and that the focus of the event be about companionship, family, and fun.  And from that he extrapolated out into a live band, a romantic setting, plush food and silver, and photographers.

So, it was sort of like a party within a party.  Marc was delighted to run about in extroverted outer ring, thanking people for donations, telling well placed anecdotes, and fielding compliments and cameras.  I was delighted to monitor the interior, checking on the children, introducing our mates around, and visiting the children’s tent off to the side of the event.  And we were both delighted to find the opportunities where the circles ran together–on the dance floor, primarily.

We took tango lessons for the occasion.  Went over well.

Oh, and Elvis led the band.  NBD.

And, I like to think, we kept it genuine.  Marc’s tearful vows were the most beautiful, heartfelt words he’s ever said to me.  Our best mates–Ed and Jacques–stood up with us and our children, despite the PR firm begging us to ‘use notables’. I surprised Marc with a drag performance to close out the evening, launching into a few 1980s power ballads whilst wearing the first costume he ever made me.  And so on.

So, overall, I’m glad that we threw the party, and that we threw it in our own idiosyncratic way.  I’m glad that our children and friends were able to witness Marc and I recommit to each other, reaffirming not only our love but also their roles within it. And I’m glad that everyone seemed to have a good time, and that our causes fared well.

Now all that’s left is to go through literally thousands of photos.

Open bars do make for incriminating scenes…

NY Ghost Fashion Week Recap

Our host is on the road again this week, so I’ve only time for a short little post.  As it turns out, though, NY Fashion Week was rather low-key this year, so I needn’t go on at length.  Here’s a brief glimpse at our fashion forays:

Wednesday, February 10:  We arrived at fashion week and walked the first of many red carpets into the event.  J insisted on taking his new teacup pig to the opening events, on a glitter leash, and I must say Earl Pink made quite the splash.  We’ve quite the reputation at this point for doing eccentric rich-people things, but with children and charm.  In fact, one blogger has dubbed us the First Family of Fashion.  I suppose one must concede to ridiculous titles where required.

Thursday, February 11: I walked for Herschel, whose line of suits this season truly soared.  All Edwardian, as per usual, but with a great deal of country flair this time in rich red tweeds and plaids.

Friday, February 12: Meetings.  All bloody day.  Marcus was approached by commercial developers from ghost Egypt. They’ve requested he open his second African store (the first being in Cape Town) and commissioned a few new Egyptian/Roman pieces from him.  Fleur and John saw to JS business interests in Europe.  I spent my afternoon with Danny networking with models and gauging interest for my services as a London-based runway coach (interest is high).  And Mira had tea with Oscar de la Renta, acting as the charming face of his line.  J spent the day with Lucas, vascillating between Marc and I, cradling Earl Pink (who also wears faerie wings), and being quite adorable.

I walked for Georgie in the early evening, and then went on a bar crawl with Richard and the cavalier crew to show off his line in lieu of a runway appearance.  The man never does anything formally when he can do things with foppery. Not that I’m complaining…

Saturday, February 13: For the first time ever, Mira and I were scheduled at near simultaneous runway shows, and on opposite sides of the fashion events.  Marcus and I fought for a different time to no avail.  So, we checked Mira into her event with Lucas and Fleur (and J, to hold her hand backstage).  Blinked across the city to begin our runway.  Blinked back for a hot second to see Mira’s opening walk (with her kitten, Cozy, on her shoulder).  Popped back over to finish our show.  Disappeared again to watch Mira’s final walk with all the fetching looks, leaving Danny and poor, puritan John to handle the first rush of post-JS show interviews.  And then finally settled in at our after party for cocktails and conversation, occasionally spiriting away to check on Mira and J, who were tucked beside Oscar and Fleur, respectively.  The children were so very good for everyone, but Marcus and I were both heartbroken at giving them up for the evening.  It might mean taking a less coveted runway time slot or stage, in the future, but we’re never going to finagle things this way again.

Sunday, February 14: Lunches, followed by our closing ceremonies.  Herschel won a very much deserved afterlifetime achievement award–he’s been designing suits for 100 years–and he was oh so shy and sweet as he accepted the accolade.  The man really is a darling.  And the Junius-Smith’s, having made out like bandits in the Spring and Fall of last year, happily cheered on our mates and well-respected acquaintances as they picked up the other awards.

And that’s about it!  Rather exhausting, but managed with success.  I am looking forward to the Fall where Marcus will debut his first haute-couture line along with his usual runway, where Fleur and I will put forward our women’s line, and where Marie shall be back on scene.  (She boycotts American events in accordance with her French Revolutionary experience.  Rather feels they should have sent a ship to aid her Queen.)

Our next big event?  Marc and I are celebrating our five-year wedding anniversary on March 19, and of course I’ll tell all about those plans in my  next post.  Fabulous to be sure.

 

 

November Catch Up

I’ll be back to regular sorts of posts in December–short essays on ghost and family goings on and such—but I thought I would take the first day of the month to share a few retroactive highlights from my time away from the blog. Because goodness gracious, November. Never the busiest month for me in life, it has certainly become so in death…
Here’s what I was up to, whilst away.

Fashion Week (November 11-15)

Because ghosts are not bound by the same physical rules as humans, we can do our fashion weeks in rather inaccessible locales. So, this year’s fashion week took place deep with the forests of Japan.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f0/Shiratani_Unsui_Gorge_17.jpg

But with fabulous hair for accoutrement.

It was just about as beautiful as could possibly be, with fireflies lighting up the nighttime runways and gorgeous sunsets illuminating the afternoon. And Marc’s line —menswear inspired by campfires, charcoal, and gleaming driftwood—worked incredibly well with the backdrop, adding an extra level of magic to something already quite magical.

But behind all the beauty, of course, are schedules, reservations, rehearsals, bitch-fits, and last-minute problem solving, all of which went from about a 5 to a 10 on the Stress Scale this year. Reason being…this was our first fashion week as independent designers.

In every previous year, we’ve had AMMA dealing with the majority of the nitty-gritty on our behalf. Our first assistants, Danny and Fleur, also had coordinating staff meetings to help them solidify our schedules and appearances. This left Marc and I to just design, execute, and walk.

But this year…well, Marc had to not only design his set but book the space, coordinate the build, schedule the rehearsals, etc. Danny and Fleur had to be incredibly discerning about our interview selection, jettisoning some of the old and bringing in new, and they had to work more time for networking into an already packed schedule. And I had to put on my most confident swagger and go…talk to people. *shudder*

But we managed it all, the show went off well, and I was able to amicably part ways with one of my designers whose brand I’ve outgrown, promising to send him some fresh faces for consideration.

And in the end, at the award banquet, we made out like Junius-Smith bandits…no brag, *ahem.*

Marcus won the overall independent designer category with takes into account new shops opened, sales, brand originality, and design. The man is a sexy, design machine. Also, one of the recipients of Marc’s Rufius Award, named after his late artistic husband, received the award for best new line—Xavvy—and thanked Marc for his mentorship in the speech.

And Mira, our baby queen, won best print advert second year in a row modelling miniaturized Oscar de la Renta. In the shot, she has on a gorgeous red dress with cream under skirts, and she’s coming out of a forest cave and stepping over a puddle while she looks at the sky with this ‘are you quite finished’ expression. Hah! And her walk much improved this year, as well.

I was out of the running this year after winning the top modelling award in 2014, so I was able to just sit and cuddle J-bird and celebrate Marc and Mira.

Then the rest of the month was also about celebrating them, haha.

Marc’s B-Day (November 22)

One of the greatest pleasures of my marriage is having a husband who is truly the easiest person for whom to buy gifts. I mean…it’s extraordinary. He loves anything animal-related, cute and fierce animals both. He loves jewelry, like leather or gold cuffs, thick rings, adornments for his toga. He loves anything he can add to his favourite spaces in the house—kitchen, pool, bath, stables. He loves family-related gifts, anything to do with Roma, things that are fast, photography gizmos, clothing, wine, you name it. And no matter what you give him, it is like watching Christmas unfold before your very eyes.

Ugh, I love it.

And this year for his birthday (which we relocated from June), I got him the most perfect thing—a full afternoon with a falconer, meeting birds, wearing gauntlets, watching raptor predators swoop and dive, and making a new friend, as it turns out the falconer also dabbles in swordplay.

He literally almost cried when I told him what his birthday present was, and he’s been printing out pictures of falcons and pinning them up in his study ever since.

Husband achievement unlocked.

Mira’s Adoption Anniversary and Thanksgiving (November 26-28)

Marcus and I are neither of us American, but our host is, and so we sort of took to this holiday over the years out of proximity more than anything else. We all rather think it’s ridiculous as a celebration of anything even remotely historical, but it does do a good job bringing folks together for moments of warm gratitude, so when we started living part-time in Canada, we rolled it out as a novelty for our mates up there.

They loved it. Ed and Jacques fight us for hosting rights now, haha.

And then in 2013, our (now) daughter Mirabelle stood up on her chair and grandly announced that she had decided to accept our adoption invitation, injecting a whole new level of meaning into the holiday. She makes a toast every year now, baby mimosa in hand. It’s fabulous.

Alexander’s NaNoWriMo (November 1-30)

Of course the other momentary diversion from regular blog posts happened on account of Alex successfully accomplishing NaNoWriMo with 50,206 words on his current historical-fantasy project. I’m madly in love with it, and terribly proud of him—just wanted to say that in public space. Good show, darling sir.

Brutus: A Corrective Character Study

I’ve mentioned Marcus any number of times on the site now, and upon review, I’m afraid I may have done him the favour of implying that he is something other than a ridiculous man.

Entirely unintentional believe me.

Now, to be sure, there are aspects of him that are quite proud and quite Roman.  In fact, if you met him, you might be convinced for an hour or so that he is the stereotype of which you think.  He has hooded eyes, an aquiline (albeit quite broken) nose, and some of the broadest shoulders I’ve seen.  He wears togas and tunicas, many days, and confidence rolls off him like a derecho.

Oh yes, he can be very much the general, the senator, the soldier, the politician, the judge.

However.

As that introductory hour wears down, you find out that the next twenty-three in the day are about to reveal to you that Marcus Junius Brutus–avenger of the republica, stoic philosopher, noblest of Romans–is, without a doubt, the most wildly, joyfully, purposefully crazy man you’ve ever met.

This is not to belittle his alively days.  He often reflects in ways that are deep and real upon his time in Roma and his actions therein.

This is to say that there is also a massive part of him that is simply exhausted by the name he owns, the expectations that accompany it, and the memories.

That his palliative, his curative, demands that he be as nutter as possible, walking right up to the line that demarcates the eccentric from the certified, and grinning that grin back over his shoulder.

The grin that says, “Sic, I am total make supper for and is be so best, but fiiiiiirst, I am throw grape at. Look out is GRAPE EYE.”

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I am total throw grape.

Or, “Where the fuck is be catus? Shitty Kitty, where are be??? I am have thing fooooor. Is total non be throw into poooooool.”

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Also, I am total throw catus.

Or, “You are like cardboard stand velociraptor butler? Non!?!? What you are even fucking know.  Here is be basket. Is be full of shut up.”

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*VELOCIRAPTOR SCREECH*

Also, lest you think I am boiling him down into some sort of exaggerated dialect, a la Bram Stoker’s Dracula, let me assure you that he really, truly speaks that way.  He thinks articles of speech are a waste of time, he waves his hand dismissively at tenses and gerunds, and he uses elaborate circumventions to avoid words that he finds difficult to pronounce.

I call it Marc-speak.

Once you spend any amount of time around him, I assure you, you find yourself slipping into the pattern.  It’s charming and easy and often results in giggles.  Shouting “you are worst!” at someone fills you with delight.  Do highly recommend.

So, it’s not really the Marc-speak that paints him as odd.  It’s the things Marc thinks and imagines and does that paint him as odd.

Some examples…

I have yet to engage my husband of four years in calm, romantic pillow talk because he comes up out of sleep a) swinging and b) full of absurd ideas that generated while he was resting.  So, instead of hearing that I’m handsome or “so love” I get to field questions like, “If witch is be like, poof now you are be squirrel, what you are do for day of squirrel time?” and “what you are think is look like if dolphin and gator are be like sew together?” and “what if I am light some thing on fire today?”

Instead of pancakes with raspberry jam, I get “murder cake.”

If he becomes impatient with a complaint, he asks me, “You are cry? you are cry ocean of tear? is drown whale?”

On his days out of tunicas he wears T-shirts with toads, alligators, exploding death stars, dinosaurs, and slogans like “TEAM BRVTVS.”

He has a pet ghost shark named Pistrix who swims around with him in the pool. He feeds it cheese and crackers.

He makes his own wine (which I call Older-than-Jesus Wine) and gifts it at parties so that he’s assured to get a decent glass of red.

On any given day he might pretend to be a bird and speak in nothing but shrieks, or he might be a crocodile and spend the day on all fours, laying in wait for you to come down to the kitchen because goddammit you just wanted some tea.

He invents elaborate games like “Salt Eye,” which involves throwing peanuts, or “Pirate Time,” which is capture the flag, but in the pool and with tiny catapults.

He sent a script about the adventures of Fire Eagle and Steve Sting (a hawk with scorpion talons) to the ghost version of Cartoon Network, and they picked it up for an abbreviated first season to see how it, um…flies.

Right now, as I’m writing this post, he is lounging on a raft, wearing a homemade waterproof gator tail and flippers, sipping weak breakfast vino, and luxuriating in the fact that I am talking about him.  “OooooOOOOOooo you are write post about? Is because I am best.”

No, darling, because you are “craze.”

“Cheese fry,” he tells me.  Which is his way of saying “whatever.”  It’s the shortened version of “Whatever, I’m getting cheese fries” from Girls who are be Mean.

And so on…

But…*sigh*…here’s the kicker.  Although the gator attacks can become a bit tiresome, I actually adore all of Marc’s incredibly particular, captivating, and curated “weird.” Reason being–it’s all encompassing.

He welcomes you into it, and if you’re willing to play along, you’ll laugh until you cry.

He uses it to encourage you to find your weird, too, and then he celebrates whatever you find.  For instance, I found drag, and so Marc makes all my costumes, tells me I look “so beauty” in eyeshadow, and obligingly paints my toenails while we snuggle on the couch.

Our son, Little J, wanted to run around in faerie wings, and so big, tough Popa took him to a Roman silversmith and together they picked out the “most magic” pair, after Marc had secretly called ahead and placed the order.

Our daughter has lowered her walls, as she has finally met her match for confidence and bravery and oddity.  Marcus was her first hug in over seventy-five years…well, after J, who is, in plain fact, a tiny warlock of friendship.

Our mates have Marc on speed dial for shenanigans.

And when you need a protector, you can count on him to be at your side as whatever you need him to be–businessman, Left Shark, or husband.

…likely all three.

Ghost Cats and other Energy Pets

It has come to my attention–and how could it not, really–that people are obsessed with cats these days.  Other animals, too, but primarily cats.

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So much so that moderns have gleefully pointed to Victorians as the arbiters of this trend. I say to you–that’s an automobile. Victorians did not have automobiles, primarily speaking, so this cat thing is still all your fault.

 

I’m willing to play along to a point–I will NEVER use lolcat nomenclature, but I AM willing to relay to the people of the ubiquitous internet that there are, in fact, ghost cats.  All sorts of pets, actually.  And here is how that works:

Animal Energies

The first variety of ghost world pets are those conglomerations of slobbery/sinister energies that maintain their furry/well-groomed form from the alively world to the next.  In other words, yes, your pet can become a ghost.

This is incredibly common amongst dogs.  The going theory is that there’s something to be said for that protective inclination of dogs–that many of them stay on to protect their families or singular owners.

The benefit to this crossing-over of pets is, of course, that alively families maintain some sense of connection to the animals they’ve loved.  Even I am not grumpy enough to deny the sweetness there.

The negative side to this crossing-over of pets is that they often, after a point, detach from families and wander about as ghost strays.  Or they crossed over as strays in the first place.  This means that the rescue shelters in ghost world are absolutely bursting at any given time with Fidos and Felines looking for homes.  They are incredibly well treated–it’s much easier to care for a ghost dog than a real dog on account of the fact that…ghost.  But they’re still not at home, you know?

So why aren’t ghosts adopting these sorts of pets?

Well, because there are also…

Energies turned Animal

There are loads upon heaps of energetic conglomerations rushing about through ghost world, behaving as they wont without much in the way of form.  No one is quite sure where these come from–natural elements? disaggregated ancient humans? something in-between?  But in any case, ghosts can basically scoop up one of these configurations and remould it into whatever sort of pet-shape we wish, while maintaining the higher level thinking and personality that come along with its long-time independence.

These conglomerations often say, no thanks on the ownership, and then run off into the forests again, as happened with a baffled and belligerent kiwi-bird form that Marcus moulded at one point a while back.  But just as many stick around, happy to have a family with which to interact, food-type energies to consume most freely, and shelter from the elements, which can scramble energy post haste.

You’d likely rather not be struck by lightening, as well, right?

So, given the choice between a dog that stares at you lovingly, but blankly, and a dog that can help you do chores, respond to thousands of commands, and act independently without need for boarding…most ghosts go with this latter option.

This latter option also allows you to recreate the pet you knew and loved in life but didn’t follow you over or wait for you.  All you have to do is find an energy with a similar personality, mould it into the animal you remember, and then share your memories with it.

So, what does all of this look like in practise?  Well, on account of the fact that my husband is a great animal lover and we now have a vast menagerie of pets, I can introduce you to a few of each type.

Our first pets were of the energies turned animal sort.

First, Marcus formed his horse, Nox.  Truly, this is the second thing he did after manifesting as a functional ghost (more on what that means at a later date).  This goes to show that if you were an animal lover in life, then you will be an animal lover in death, to the point that it becomes nearly instinctual for you to create or adopt those sorts of friends who comforted you without words.  Animals are a huge part of newly ghosted acclimation groups for this reason, and as much as Noxwell’s proud, warhorse mentality grates at times, I have to hand it to him…he made Marcus’s transition much easier.

Following that, I determined that I also needed a pet to spend time with while Marcus was out riding, and I formed a dragon on account of the fact that I fucking love dragons.  I formed Toothless the Dragon, to be specific, but in miniature–he’s about the size of a very large Great Dane.  The energies I moulded were petulant, flippant, but utterly joyful, and he’s also taken to helping with construction projects over time, flying about with roof beams and helping me raise walls.  So I’d say he’s pretty true to the film version.

No, I do not fly him.  I’m afraid of heights…

Upon seeing my dragon, Marcus determined that he, too, needed an indoor pet.  And thus Globus was formed.  Glo.  Shitty Kitty.  Destroyer of my home and wearer of capes.  This energy cat is basically all the most entitled and destructive parts of my husband rolled into one tiny ball of fur.  Marc loves him.

I retaliated by forming the exact opposite of Glo–a little duck named Harlequin who is made of sweetness and helpfulness and loveliness.  All the nicest parts of my personality, but in feathered form.  He is so kind and good-natured that it just breaks your heart to see.  If Glo knocks something over, Quin tries to clean it up.  If we forget to make the bed, we come home to find the sheets pulled up and little duck foot prints on the pillows.  If you look the slightest bit sad, Quin is there to cuddle you.  Ugh, I’m getting teary eyed just thinking about how adorable he is.  I need to find him before I finish this post…

Ok, duck in lap, continuing.

Our final pet at home is Sam, a roly-poly hedgehog.  We formed Sam later in our marriage because we realised that we had our own pets, but not a pet together.  He’s exuberant like Marcus and spiny like me, and he has a great love of rolling about in paint and making little artworks with his quills.

After finding that we had access to a great, wide ghost world beyond our home, Marcus and I also discovered all the other types of energy pets.

We discovered that you didn’t have to make a pet that looked like anything in particular.  Our mates Ed and Jacques have this sort of…rectangular box with a tail and one eye and a bit of a snout.  It’s a monstrosity.  They call him Monkey.

We discovered that actual animal energies could cross over when a tiny parakeet flew into our flat in Toronto and took up residence, effectively becoming our son’s pet bird.

We discovered animal shelters when our daughter asked for a little cat for her birthday.  She adopted a tiny, jet-black kitten and named her Cozy.  We thought this was perfectly sweet, and entirely unexpected, until Mira informed us that the full name was Lady Constanza III of Motherfuck Island.  Because of course it is.

Side note: Glo has since met Cozy and fallen madly in love, to the point that he’s tried to take on some more cat-like behaviors in order to win her over.  He refuses to wear his capes around her after he near-strangled himself in the cat door, he’s taken to more regular grooming, and he behaves more respectably in her presence.  Cozy, however, cares not a jot for any of it, because she is, in fact, a real ghost cat, and cares not a jot for most things.

Marc also has a rescue bearded dragon named Barbu in his office at work–a gift from a fellow designer.

Oh, and he recently added a giant toad to our pond at the family home outside Toronto.   Marc has a thing for toads.

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This toad, specifically. No idea.

So, there you have it.   Ghost pets of all beloved varieties roaming about in the afterlife and making both themselves and their owners rather happier.

Alright, it’s a bit cute.

…I has duck.