My Name is Cassandra

Greetings Earthlings!

thisCassandra is taking an on-line writing class and is pretty busy with it and with the new job. The first assignment was to write an introduction, a creation story, something that would let the others know who we were. I started with the Lucky in Names post, inserted a newly created creation story, and then ended with the Il Cameroni myth (names changed – shortened), and I’m ever so pleased with the result.

In the crit, the instructor’s comment was “thisCassandra, this is brilliant!

How on earth did you get to be such a genius?

I marvel at your crafting of this story.

I loved it, chuckled, and am now exhausted from reading it (in a good way!).

Wow! You have just set the bar for assignments for ever and ever.

A marvelous story from a great teller.”

Here is is. I hope you enjoy it!

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My name is Cassandra.

This scroll has been translated for me to mean something like “If you remain alone and contemplative, you will attain wisdom,” which may or may not be true (I’m in the process of finding out – I’ll keep you posted). Here is the story:

In the Art History class one morning just before Christmas break, a guest lecturer from the Department of Asian Studies spoke about the Literati, a group of intellectual artists who lived in Asia in the 17th and 18th centuries.  While she spoke, a master calligrapher demonstrated her skills. We were impressed.

At the end of the class the calligrapher distributed piles of these (about 6″ x 18″) scrolls (kind of like fortune cookies fortunes) that she’d made for us; hundreds of these fortune scrolls that she’d made up with different sayings on them, most of them “Merry Christmas”, and we all lined up to get one.

Earlier in the class, my friend, May (from China) and I had been talking and I showed her how I write the character for my last name (badly), and then I told her my Chinese name and she wrote one of the characters, but didn’t know the other. I seldom remember how to write the characters of my Chinese name, and have to copy them from somewhere else. I usually recognize them if I see them written, but not always.

When I got to the front of the line, I considered looking for one of the “Merry Christmas” scrolls, but just took the fortune scroll that was on the top of the pile without looking at it. I looked carefully at it while walking back to my seat, and sort-of-recognized the bottom character as maybe being one of my names, the one that May had written for me earlier in the class. May confirmed that it is my name, which I’m pretty sure is pronounced Hui (but it might be Jun – I can’t remember which it is), and it means “wisdom”. Jun (or Hui), the other part of the name means “leader” or something like that.

My father gave me my Chinese name, Jun Hui, and Chinese speaking people tell me that it is a good name. My mother gave me my Anglo name, and I know that it’s a good name too. I have had great good fortune in my names. A good name is an important thing to have – it is something for which I am grateful – everything expands from there.

My name is Cassandra.

I don’t have a creation myth. I believe that the universe exists, but I don’t really have a cosmological model as to what it is or why it exists or where it came from other than the one that basic Newtonian physics provides.

In the beginning there was density, something that was not quite vacuum, not quite mass. According to Newton’s law of gravitation, between bodies, even bodies that are not quite mass, there is a gravitational force, F, such that F equals G times (m1 times m2) divided by r squared, where G is the universal gravitational constant, m1 is the mass of the first body, m2 is the mass of the second body, and r is the distance between the two.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the density accumulated in thicker clusters of density, denser masses of not quite mass. Slowly, ever so slowly, these clusters of not quite mass drifted towards one another. The closer together they were, the stronger the gravitational force between them was, so the quicker they drifted, and the quicker they grew.

Let’s say that two of these clusters of not quite mass were undulating close to one another; two glittering spangling wisps of density drifting ever closer together. Their first touch might be tentative, and after the inevitable shooting off of sparks, and they might draw apart again in shock. They might brush together again, then they might brush apart again. Again and again, colliding, separating, their wisps teasing, ever tangling, at times light and barely noticed, at times urgent and bruising, each touch creating sparks that would become more wisps. Wisps entangled, wisps apart, faster and faster, ever more wisps, coming apart, coming together, coming apart, coming together, coming together, coming together until their urgent, bruising collisions created one exhilarated, compacted density.

Now this would not be an isolated incident, densities would be undulating and coalescing and compacting all over the not quite vacuum, and eventually two bits of not quite mass will come together to create mass, actual mass, critical mass. At that point, when they try to pull apart again, they will find that they aren’t able. They will try to disentangle their wisps, but all that will happen is a small detonation where one of the wisps will come away. Every wisp that breaks away, will cause another small detonation, then another, then another, pop pop pop, in chain reaction. Their wispy union will have created a Big Bang that will be heard across the newly created universe, and everything will expand from there.

My name is Cassandra.

I have described myself as an “Indifferent child of an unindifferent universe”. I have many reasons to believe that the universe is not indifferent. Here is one:

More than 25 years ago there was a photograph in the Georgia Straight. I have no memory of the photo, but I do remember reading the by-line, let’s say it read Dan Gordon, and as soon as I read the name I knew that Dan Gordon would be important to me someday. I wondered how, where we would meet, but I never got around to doing anything about finding him. I figured the accident would happen if it would.

Twenty years ago I started dating Bobbi, who is now my ex. At that time I was also dating a man named, let’s call him Ross Gordon (no relation to Dan). Ross and I liked each other a lot, but it didn’t work out between us.

A year later, Bobbi and I had a temporary break, and I met a man named, let’s call him Simon Gordon (no relation to either Dan or Ross). We sat next to one another in English 326, Grammar, and kept one another entertained. We had a legendary flirtation, and hung out quite a bit outside of school. Simon and I liked each other a lot too, but our attraction was never consummated.

A year after that, I moved to Montreal where I got a job on a television series. One of the crew was a young man named, let’s call him Edwin Gordon (no relation to any of the others) who used to spend hours and hours in my office sitting across my desk from me, just hanging out. One day Edwin’s friend Tim came and told me that I should go out with Edwin. Edwin and I liked each other a lot, but we never did hang out outside of work.

Bobbi and I got back together and spent ten years together, sometimes happy and sometimes not, and then I moved out, I wanted to go on a trip, my first solo journey, so I started organizing a trip to Cuba. Claude, the friend who was helping me with names and contact people there called one day and asked if I would take some things to Cuba for a photographer friend of his. I said yes, and wondered if Claude’s photographer friend might be Dan Gordon.

I could still recall the feeling that I had had that Dan Gordon would be important to me. I had never told anyone about that feeling, but I had thought of him a few times in the years since seeing his by-line, and had wondered how he was doing. Somewhere in there, a woman I knew was dating him, but she never introduced us. Here I was much older, much more experienced, perhaps wiser, and still couldn’t shake the feeling that someone whose name was the only thing I knew about him would turn out to be important to me. A few days later I received a phone message from Claude’s photographer friend, who turned out to be Dan Gordon.

Dan and I met a few days before I left, and I took some items to Cuba for him: photos, negatives, gifts for friends. Soon after I returned from my trip we started dating. That was eight years ago, and Dan is still part of my life, indeed he is very important to me.

Dan has turned out to be one of the great loves of my life; he and I are like wisps formed of not quite mass, and we drift together and apart again, never able to hold our relationship together for very long. We are undulating densities, and nine months together has been our limit. We have yet to coalesce into a critical mass. We may never.

Dan is not the last of the Gordons; in one of our times apart, I discovered Craig’s List Rants and Raves. One day there was a post from a woman ranting about the wait staff at the restaurant where she and her fiancée had celebrated his birthday: they had wanted to go out dancing after dinner, but there had been left over birthday cake. She had expected the wait staff to look after the leftover cake for her, putting it into a box and keeping it for her to pick up at her convenience, but they hadn’t. She was furious and wanted to destroy them; she couldn’t really do that so she did the next best thing and publicly lambasted them on Craig’s List Rants and Raves.

I found her annoying, so posted a cranky response: “I have to ask: What was your leftover birthday cake doing in a restaurant without an escort?”, and within a few minutes someone named Ian Gordon sent me a private response to my public response to the rant. At that time I was trying to adjust – Dan and I hadn’t seen one another for almost a year, and he had just started calling again. I debated responding to this e-mail from not just one more Gordon, but someone with the same name as Dan’s father. I wondered if this Ian Gordon had anything to do with any of the others, and then I responded, thanking him for his support. He responded to my response, and then everything expanded from there.

Ian Gordon turned out to be a literate, educated, witty, bewildered curmudgeon, in ways like me, and we exchanged many e-mails, then became friends. One day he told me that Ian Gordon was the name of his thesis advisor for his M.A., that he had chosen to use it for anonymity, and that he hoped that it didn’t matter to me. He told me his name, Mitch, and gave me his actual e-mail address.

I thought about it, and decided that Mitch’s vaguely dishonest initial presentation didn’t matter to me as much as our friendship did, so we continued communicating. Eventually we met for coffee, and walked to Casa de Gelato for ice cream. He and I liked each other a lot, and we dated for a while, though not very long.

Although he turned out to be a Faux Gordon, Mitch was the 5th Gordon, and, I hope, the last. Mostly I choose to remain alone and contemplative, a wisp undulating solo, and I hope to attain wisdom, rather than critical mass. I’m not expecting much expansion from there, but we shall see.

My name is Cassandra.

~ by thiscassandra on Friday 24 October 2008.

One Response to “My Name is Cassandra”

  1. Beautifully told!
    Glad to see you back at the blog. A fast and busy year this one but kept checking in.
    I’ve got a new tel# but e-mail is still the same, would love to hear from you.
    — J. Claire

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