Jina’s Birthday

Tonight, Beck and I went to a (non-surprise) birthday party for Jina that Chris was throwing. As Chris emphasized to me, the attendees were a collection of folks that were dear to Jina. Just so happens we like and are liked by both of them.

Unfortunately, Beck and I were running late, and arrived just as dinner was being served — a crock of meat chili, a crock of white chicken chili, and loads of snacky-things. And, I mustn’t forget the cooler of Corona and Smirnoff Ice!

Whenever Jina and Chris are involved, the crowd will be eclectic, and this one was: an artist, owners of a nearby coffee shop along with others. Of course, among the backdrop of Chris and Jina’s new flat downtown, everyone just seemed to fit. It’s been a long while since I’ve been around that kind of crowd — probably since my SF con days — and it was interesting that “let my hair down” on that part of my psyche.

To me, the most interesting part of the night was an incense burn. Chris has become quite a student of incense burning using very natural substances and very traditional ceremonies. For the party, Chris put on quite a burn, and we sampled probably a dozen different fragrances, each interesting and distinct in their own way.

It’s said that the mind clings to scent better than input from any of the senses, and my own experience agrees with that. For me, scent is sensual — not in a sexual sense, but in the sense that it is very enveloping, quite personal and, at times, overwhelming. There are scents from my past that, when encountered in my middle years, will bring back floods of memories, some unremembered for many, many years, and each clamoring for attention and high priority. That’s how strongly scents affect me, and it was a purely decadent thing that Chris allowed me to be a part of.

BTW, I get the same benefit of “memory unlocking” from some music. A certain tune will come on the radio, or waft over the speakers at a store, and a rush of memories hit me. It’s not as strong as with scent, but it can still be a strong impactor, and cause me to drift away for a brief second or two.

Chris also shared some very nice cognac with me, a taste for which I’m acquiring, having been introduced to it by him a year or two ago. Much like my beloved tawny port, cognac excites the senses with the scent — once again hitting a strong sensation receptor for me! — but I think there’s something quaint and anticipatory about the process prior to pouring the cognac. Chris heats water, pours it off to a dish, pours the cognac to a snifter, caps it, and lets it sit in the boiling hot water until the cognac is well-heated. That, to me, is a decadent process, and full of quaint, manual processes that haven’t changed in lifetimes. Something about simplicity and antiquity truly tweak my sense of wonder, and Chris’ cognac fits the bill.

Of course, I’m waxing on about antiquated processes and days gone by while typing on my laptop, surrounded by gear in my home office and listening to Kraftwerk on my Sennheisers…. on the surface, I suppose there’s some incongruity in all that! However, this is where I’ve been as long as I can remember. Oh, it wasn’t a laptop — it was either an ASR-33 teletype or an IBM 1053 Selectric communications printer converted into a terminal by my father and Larry Buhrman, hooked to a homemade acoustic coupler, dialed in to the HP-2000 at UTC — but it was Kraftwerk, and it was Sennheisers! The smells and sounds, speed and code may be different, but the process is antiquated, tried and true, and that seems to fit me nicely.