Biography 1O: Jules

Jules was part of Les Cinq Filles, you remember, from the Annie Bio?  In a lot of ways Jules was worse than Annie.  Unlike the other girls, Jules lived in my dad’s neighbourhood, which meant her family had a freestanding house with a white picket fence. I remember the day they got that fence.  It was right around the time I went over to Jules’ house to play, the first time we hung out without the other girls. We had a great time, I think I was there the whole afternoon. The highlight was baking cookies for her dog, and when I left I remember making plans with her to try out new recipes, a dog bakery for our one client.  The next Monday at school I found her and Annie looking at me and with the “she’s such a loser eyes.”  Later Annie made fun of me for the dog cookies.  I knew Jules had had actual fun, that’s when I figured out Jules was not my friend, she was playing both sides.

Unlike with Annie, Jules and I didn’t stay friends growing up. Jules didn’t really change, she stayed sidekick level mean.  I remember in grade 7, she yelled to me across the sports field “Jane did you get your period yet?” in front of the whole school. She was doing some sort of tally and hadn’t heard that I had actually gotten mine first. It pays to be a January baby.  So her attempt at embarrassing me that time failed flat, it actually got me respect.

Later Jules moved into affirmative action mean. By this time we were already adults. Pre-drinking before our first high school reunion at a mutual friend’s place, one of the girls I wasn’t friends with brought out an old collage. It was filled with pics from the high school days. I wasn’t on it, nor did I expect to be. I had a different friend group in high school but our host that evening overlapped us.  Jules immediately pointed out that I wasn’t on it:  “Oh look at our silly eye-brows, Jane you never plucked yours did you? You we’re so much smarter than us!”  The girl who brought out the collage looked super guilty and uncomfortable, she knew what Jules was doing. I shrugged. My eye brows are in style now thanks to Cara Delevingne. Poor Jules never had the power Annie did, I wonder if it bugged her to be perpetually b-level mean?

I feel obligated to point out the one time I did see cookie-baking Jules again. It was in grade 7 and one of the boys in class had written a song about me. With the help of my girlfriends as it turned out.  Apparently the popular girl was pissed I was flirting with her boyfriend but sine she had no song-writing talent of her own had roped in a few others to write the lyrics. The tune was to Aqua’s Barbie Girl.  To give it some context, the boy I was allegedly flirting with was the same boy Annie had inadvertently ratted me out to in grade three.  With my usual friends singing this song on repeat I started to wonder around the courtyard alone. I didn’t get very far because Jules and another girl I’ve always liked came up to me and said “that song is so mean, you can hang with us.” So I did for a couple days, until the song blew over.  That was really cool of Jules I have to say. If your curious about the song’s lyrics I remember them in perfect detail.

Jane’s a valley girl, in a valley world

Life with Jane, it’s a pain

When she talks she whines, she does it al the time

Her mind is blank, she’s a skank.

Biography 9: Megan

Megan is my latest Starbucks Barista.  It’s amazing how close you can get to the person who makes your coffee. When I had just moved to Sydney, Australia I was desperate for a place to live and lamented to my Bondi Junction barista in between ordering and picking up my beverage.  I take that “hows your day going?” shit seriously. He told me his dad might have a space and we exchanged numbers. The next week I moved in. Since then I’ve been very serious about my Barista Therapy.

I met Megan at the Starbucks near my mom’s place when I was living there earlier this year after being reno-victed.  Actually my first False Creek barista was Nick but after spending so much time there I got tight with the whole clan.  Megan and I both thought the other was 24 until a less significant barista brought it up. She couldn’t believe I was in my 30s and I could not believe she is 19! Fresh out of high school basically. She’s so open about her struggles and anxiety, I hid that shit from the world until super recently.  She’s got no shame about her therapy, or being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or casually stalking local musicians, or Instagram flirting with the cobbler’s son. Our Starbucks is next to a cobbler, a florist and a pancake house, the shoe artisans being the most compelling.

When I moved across town, into my own place, I sent Megan a Facebook message that read “Guess where I am!” with a pic of my new Starbucks’ outdoor tiling.  Within 20 minutes I saw her on the street. Bitch is good at her stalking. Turns out my new Starbucks is next to her Wednesday therapy session and we’ve hung out a couple Wednesdays since.  She’s taking me to stalk screenwriters at her favourite coffee shop, Renzo’s.

Megan has an Indian Status card but looks totally white.  “Indian” is a dumb name the Canadian government still uses to indicate First Nations.  She got me hip on where to buy genuine Native Art that actually pays royalties to the artists. So far I’ve gotten a dope magnetic leather card holder and a bunch of incense.  She also sent me some photos from her visit up North, which is cool cuz it’s a place I’ve never been. How odd, since I’ve been around the planet. Note to self, visit Northern British Columbia. I felt reticent about featuring Megan in this bio project since I’m a bit big-sister protective over her and didn’t want her to feel exploited. But I gotta remind myself, that bitch is stronger than me.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 8: Uncle George

My uncle George breaks my heart. He’s the sweetest man but goes un-respected and unloved. My uncle Steve was Grampa’s favourite, since he’s accomplished and smart.

George is an artist, and fragile of heart.

He is honest and loyal and always has my back.

It makes me so sad that people treat him like crap.

He had measles or mumps at a young age, which gramma says held him back. One of those old world children’s diseases we only know from our vaccinations.

Since he had a stroke he’s been kind of  a sad sack, my mom loves to use that phrase with my aunt. But I love him anyway because I can get down with that.

There’s no one funnier who makes me laugh, at the absurdity of the Winnipeg Jets or his frog in a baseball cap. Inside jokes.

He studied animation but someone “stole his idea,” he painted canes but old people prefer chairs with wheels.

He has a customer service job which is kind of insane, since there’s no one crankier at least not that I can name. It’s the kind of thing that let’s me know God has a sense of humour.

I love my uncle George, I love him the best. Fuck all you haters you all fail the test. He’d like that I think, he’d giggle with his chest, water glass bobbles up then down with a mess.

My uncle George makes me cry, so it’s easier to write this in rhyme. There’s too much pain for his bio to be the same and it’s kinda lame but maybe it will get better.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 7: Robert

Robert accidentally added me on Facebook. I think he mistook me for the famous publisher whose name is one letter short of mine. I kept him because he posts interesting things.  Like street art which interacts with its surroundings. It’s often funny or at least amusing. One day I told him so. He was thrilled with this unsolicited positive feedback and we began chatting. I shared my blog with him since he is also a writer. He gave me a bunch of pointers. I sat for three hours in Patisserie des Ambassades in Harlem chatting with a completed stranger over messenger. Then I somehow offended him, as I often do, and we didn’t speak again.

Until now, more then a year later, when I saw he is coming to my home city for vacation. I sent him a couple tour tips. He harassed me about my writing. I confessed I hadn’t been doing it. He pushed me. I pushed back. We had it out until we had this bio project idea and I agreed to do it. 10 Bios in 10 Days. He wanted me to write one about him but I didn’t know any of his biographic details. If it had been Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York interviewing Robert I’m pretty sure this is the story he’d get.

Robert has been arrested twice. For stealing Coca Cola vending machines, two of them. I asked Robert if it was the soda he was after or the coins? Turns out he wanted the money but got stuck with 5000 cans of Coke and $1.75. Then he got caught and went to jail. Some connection got him off and he didn’t do any time, instead he got off with paying a small fine. Even though Robert is from New York these shenanigans went down in Texas which somehow make them more believable.  That still didn’t totally explain the bright idea though so I asked him some more. Turns out he had just come off a two year cocain habit and need a rush. Guess that’s why the plan wasn’t well thought out.  I supposed this was a turning point in his life because it showed him how much of a douche he was. Actually those are his words. I felt satisfied with this explanation and Robert must had sensed it because he stopped talking, about that subject anyway.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 6: Amby

Amby is my best friend. We met in Hamburg, Germany while I was studying there and teamed up with her then boyfriend Roberto. Amby and Roberto were from Miami and I was happy to have someone in this small town hell to share my North American jokes and nuances with.  Amby would often study in our Ad School library and that’s how we became friends. I dragged her to Happy Hour at Cock-Tails under the subway platform and that was it.

I kind of hated everyone at that school so it was nice to get an escape. Amby was studying German at a language institution nearby and came with a whole set of new experiences and friends. When our time in Germany ended and she moved to London with Roberto and I moved to Paris for an internship. We lost touch for a bit then something amazing happened, after Paris and London we both moved to New York. We partied all the way from Harlem to Brooklyn and it was an awesome three months. Then she moved back to Florida to be with her family when she and Roberto broke it off.

Although we’re separated physically by a vast number of States and Provinces we chat regularly over Facetime.  She just moved out of her parents house into an apartment a couple blocks from her sister’s place and I’m back in my hometown as well. We went through those adjustments together. It’s nice to have someone who lives at the same pace. Although she has zoomed ahead as of late, it hasn’t affect our friendship.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 5: Dad

My dad was born in Santiago on Chilean Independence Day. His parents would tell him the parade was in honour of his birthday, a simple lie which solidified his feelings of high self-worth (and self-importance) at an early age. Winning the local Top Forty-Under-Forty contest, achieving longest standing CEO as a non-owner status, these accolades came easy, almost naturally. Within the family he is put on the highest pedestal which casts a long shadow for me and, as I’d later learn, a couple of others. I think the fact that I’m a woman also has something to do with my lesser status in the family. My dad doesn’t notice this special treatment though, he’s convinced he’s ordinary. I was oblivious to it too until recently. My mom says that at funerals or parties there’s always a crowd hovering in line to speak to my dad.  Strange, since I find him incompetent at most things.

Like Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory, my dad is a physicist with questionable social skills. Of course my dad doesn’t find The Big Bang Theory funny, being so similar to the character who is the bud of all the show’s jokes.  My dad’s lack of social empathy, and need for control, put a strain on his and my mom’s relationship, on ours too. His success in business ensured people generally would over look his social ineptitude, a dichotomy which was very hard for me to reconcile when I was younger, especially since I am an only child and experienced this alone.  It wasn’t until I publicly put some distance between us that my mom and some uncles came forward with their support.  They didn’t want to say anything negative before but figured since I had figured it out on my own it was safe to speak.

After a year of basically no communication with my dad I can approach our relationship with less attachment, and as a consequence more clarity. I can take him for who he is and separate my identity from his, especially with those who still insist on introducing me by my connection to him; “ this is Jane, Jane is Dan’s daughter, Dan’s interests include…” Hahaha. Sometimes my dad will even laugh with me.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 4: Annie

Annie was a real pre-teen bitch. Queen of the mean girls. We were nine and she was our Empress. I remember meeting Annie on our first day of grade two. In actuality we had met at age four in the playground between our mom’s two co-ops but grade two was the first time I actually remember meeting her. She was sitting on the floor at the front of the classroom with her boyfriend’s legs straddled around  her. I was in immediate awe. How this girl was mature and confident enough to have a boyfriend in grade two astonished me. We became fast friends and by the time grade three rolled around we had formed a girl gang, although we didn’t really consider ourselves that. It was the teachers who called us “Les Cinq Filles”(the five girls) they were concerned about our impact on the other students, accusing us of being exclusionary.  We shrugged it off and kept quiet during our regular Principle’s office stare-downs.

Les Cinq Filles may have looked like a “group” from the outside but inside there was a well discerned hierarchy. Annie at the top, obviously, Jules and Kelly next tier, then me and Lea holding up the pyramid.  We would call dibs on who got to sit next to Annie at lunch, if me or Lea asked and then Jules did, our earlier bids were forgotten. Annie could and would get us to do anything, often times to our own humiliation. I was the minute keeper (as I was the best in school) and kept the book of tallies on our scores for these “friendly” activities. I remember one time I chickened out on a dare and Annie told a boy at lunch that I liked him, which was especially tragic because I actually did like that particular boy but hadn’t told anyone. Keep your cards close to your chest is some thing I must have learned at a young age.

As the grades moved up we stayed friends and Annie somehow blocked out our grade three days from her consciousness (to mine, Lea, Kelly and Jules’ disbelief). It turns out I hadn’t moved past it but had buried it deep. A few months ago Annie and I were having a chat in her living room while her daughter Cindy played on the floor.  I had just moved back from New York and I guess something had changed in me. Like I learned how to not take any bullshit in New York and had brought that skill home. Annie was dissecting my latest relationship and criticizing all my major life choices when suddenly it went like “nope” in my head. I told her “I respect your opinion but I’ve had enough of it for one day” and walked out. Cindy said “bye” whilst Annie stayed silent. We haven’t spent time together since but sometimes I’ll text her just to keep things light. We have after-all known each-other a long time.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.