Nardac, you big longwinded gasbag...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

La Dauphine handed me a well-used meme last week. 5 Random Things. I know I got a little carried away. So, without further ado, Nardac's Long-Winded explanation of 5 random things about her egotistical self.

1. Richard D. James
aphex twin
While some people’s lives are saved by bonafide miracles, my life was saved by a rock star. Well, technically not a rock star but an electronic music guy, with long shaggy hair, a giant beard and gorgeous eyes. I’m speaking of none other than Richard James, a.k.a., Aphex Twin. And his life and mine would cross one fateful autumn day, 1993.

I’m not sure if you remember 1993. It was my first year in university. I was a baby-faced freshman with an unattractive brit-pop haircut, a dandy-ish men’s blazer that I wore everywhere, who listened to nothing but Joy Division on her CD walkman, non-stop. I think Unknown Pleasures was glued on the central spindle. A bit morbid, but morbid is beautiful when you’re eighteen.

Besides Joy Division, while everyone was listening to Nirvana or the Pixies, I had gotten myself tangled with a rather strange breed of abstract designer electronic music, mostly put out by Warp during it’s early years. The mad scientist genius of this scene was Aphex Twin. Mr. James has always been renowned for his eccentricity and enigmatic presence. I loved his slit-like English eyes, his large frame, his orange hair, and the fact he bought a tank because he said it was like driving inside a womb, with a gun.

So, when I heard that there was going to be a stop in Toronto for the NASA See the Light Tour, starring Aphex, Orbital and Moby (I always hated Moby!), I immediately pulled all the stops out to get a press pass and an interview. And it was thus that I found myself, one late afternoon in October, in front of the Opera House, armed with a Pentax K1000 and a pen and paper, shaking like a leaf. And, suddenly, he was there, before me, taller than I expected. A broad-chested lad standing straight underneath layers of sportswear. Even now I shiver slightly at the memory. A teenage crush never loses its bloom.

I suggested going across the street for the photo. I can’t remember anything that he said. I can barely remember how he was except that his feet seemed silent. We walked, side by side, between the parked cars as the full sun cast sharp angles all around us. I stole looks at him from the corners of my eyes, numb and excited at the same time.

Suddenly, I found myself standing in the road, a car screaming towards me, a taxi, screeching its horn. Everything passes in slow motion. I was so sure to be hit. My feet couldn’t move. Softly, I felt a very sure arm grasp me from behind, pulling me back. Seconds later, the taxi had passed. He was very close and I could still almost hear him breathing. He whispered, “watch yourself there.”

2. Oo-Gee, Oo-Gah, Minerva, Felix and Boxer
My family was unenviously poor when I was young. I grew up with library books, homemade or second-hand clothes, second-hand beds and second-hand toys. The army of stuffed animals, two of which were sewn together by our own hands, were our only toys. There were two mon-chi-chis, a white bedraggled dread-locked cat, a black and fuchsia cat with fuchsia overalls, a skunk and a panda. Somehow, they provided enough daily entertainment for hours. I would spend large amounts of time creating little scenarios for them, little character traits, talking in different voices as I changed characters. I can still call up these voices, and it’s ironic that it’s in my play that my Singaporean accent is preserved whole.

3. How to seduce a girl, art-boy style.
My ex-boyfriend, Yuri, was an art-girl’s wet dream. Tall, skinny, dirty blond messy haired, soulful eyes, and a knack for doing unbelievably poetic things. He even plays guitar. The first time I met him, there were no sparks. And then, one dark winter night, I saw him again.

He was coming out of an Italian café, clad in a chocolate coloured parka, yellow cream toque, jeans and puma sneakers, when I practically slid into him. The snow was falling thick and the temperature had dropped. It was already late. I had bought magic mushrooms and was about to take them with my girlfriend, Nancy. The three of us headed back to my place, took the mushrooms, and went to the Beat Junkie to dance to some music. Forty-five minutes later, we were too high to stay inside.

And so began the epic trip. Tromping deep in snow, which blanketed the city in sleep and quiet, we sang the Laverne and Shirley theme song, kicking our heels out. We jumped into snow piles and screamed into dark alleyways. Yuri pointed out the colour of the sky. Then he pulled out a matchbook. Without tearing out the match from the row, he struck it on its backside, then tipped the match upwards, and set it on a snow bank. The match was a like the sole candle on a birthday cake, and as it burned down, the book burned into the snow. Just as it disappeared into the snow, the match fluttered out. There was a lick of light inside of the snow… just a flicker.

Later on in the evening, I played Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations, the later version, and served my cat dinner. Yuri pulled out a tape recorder and taped the sound of my cat eating with the music in the background. Just before the sun came up, he fell asleep on my couch. His knees were folded into his body and his eyelashes were the colour of wheat.

4. Laughing Monks
I think it was 1996 and I was on a strange voyage. That summer, completely by chance, I had managed to orchestrate a trip that would cover all the major religious centres of the world. I was to go to Israel, Nepal, India and Tibet. Tibet.

Tibet is one of the most beautiful and tragic places I’ve ever been to. The countryside is staggeringly sterile and the mountains stand so high they’re often shrouded with clouds. The sun is a little too bright and clear, and Tibetans make stretched dry skin the most beautiful accessory for broad high cheekbones.

I was at a monastery. We had woken up rather early, at our hotel in the city, to drive out for the morning prayers in the deep countryside. You could barely make out the road in the stark landscape. We walked into the main prayer hall and were hit, full body, by the reverberating chants of the monks. The difference between the daylight and the hall, lit only by yak-butter lamps, made the hall initially a large chasm of blackness before us.

Later on, I strayed from my parents and walked up the mountain by myself. I thought I was following a path, and I soon saw two elder monks before me. They smiled and pointed up. I continued for several minutes more. I lost track of time. Suddenly, stretched before me, was a huge plain with a giant mountain gaping over it.

Having drawn my fill of the view, I tripped lightly downwards, thinking the path would loop on itself. I got lost. The path disappeared. I figured to keep going down and to my right. Suddenly, looping up over a creek, I saw the squat rectangular building of the monastery. As I approached, I heard a chatter rising. Novices, young men clothed in red cloaks, poked their heads out of all the windows. There were thousands of them, and they were all clucking and pointing in my direction.

Tibetans give the impression of innocence. There is a gaiety in their laughter that seems untouchable. I walked between all this laughter and chatter, buoyed by the sound and the absurdity of all these boys popping their heads out of windows like soap bubbles exploding in the air.

5. The Shirt
The most expensive item of clothing I have is an Alexander McQueen shirt that I will love till the day I die. Savile Row tailoring on one side, and cut away on the other to reveal my shoulder.

I'm passing this onto Real Gem and EmmaB.