?

Log in

Naomi


Tui Bijoux

Recent Entries · Archive · Friends · Profile

* * *
Today is my step-mother's 40th birthday. I feel like writing about our history together and why she means so much to me.

Gael first came into my life in 1985 when I was 5-years-old, a year after my father and mother divorced. My father and her met in Seattle where she shared a house with Mudhoney and worked at the Egyptian Theater in Capitol Hill (I believe a Cocteau Twins concert was somehow involved in their meeting). They were heavily involved in the Seattle music scene, my father playing bass in bands that opened for acts such as Alice In Chains, etc. However his bands, Variant Cause and Next Exit, never quite made it to Chains famedom (I still have memories of playing on the drums while joining my dad at band practice). Dad decided to move to a small town near the San Juan Islands called Anacortes in order to give me a more stable upbringing. Gael joined us shortly after and at only age 20 she took me under her wing.


Gael in my dad's studio, Anacortes, 1985

Gael was my saviour in many ways. My mother still lived in Seattle, but she was struggling with her health and didn't feel capable of taking care of me. My father provided for me well in the years we lived alone together, but his main source of income was scrimshaw which was crippling his back, so he was unable to continue for much longer. Gael often worked two jobs while my dad sold the occasional painting for $1,000+ and yet we still spent most of our lives living below the poverty line. Far more important than finances, Gael provided emotional support and an abundance of humour in difficult times. She is a remarkable and talented woman; she can play the clarinet, flute, saxophone, piano, guitar, and has an ethereal singing voice similar to Elizabeth Fraser's. She's also incredibly intelligent; languages and mathematics come easily to her, as does an ability to quickly memorize prose or lines (she's a great actress), and a published writer on top of it all. You can read some of her writing online here and here.

In 1986 we moved onto the isolated Sinclair Island where she diligently homeschooled me for five years. I'll never forget the comforting sounds of her practicing the flute on the bluff, it's haunting notes floating over the waves. Over these years Gael became a mother and a wonderful friend to me.

After Sinclair we started a coffeehouse in Anacortes called The New Bohemian which my parents modelled after the coffeehouses they spent time in while visiting Paris. It became the creative and community hub of the town and often we would have free meals for the homeless and anyone else who wished to join us. The artistic and musical teenagers loved it and it's where Phil Elvrum of The Microphones/Mount Eerie first had his start at age 14. The coffeehouse eventually failed because it was too ahead of its time for a little conservative American town. It became a haven for the outcasts, misfits, and geeks and because of this the conservatives made it their mission to shut it down. The final nail in the coffin was our chef stealing thousands of dollars from us and skipping town.

During the last days of the coffeehouse we were nearly destitute, I recall having to wash my hair in public bathrooms before school and showering at the marina because we had no home anymore. I moved in with my grandparents and then my mother moved to an apartment in Anacortes where we began the often tumultuous process of learning more about each other. All three of my parents became close friends and my mother always admired Gael, saying she couldn't have asked for anyone better to take care of me. In 1996 my parents moved to Antwerp, Belgium and I joined them in 97'. Over the next several years they travelled around the world showing and performing Snarg in museums and music festivals in places like Mexico City and Barcelona. 1999-2002 were spent in Port Townsend where, as usual, Gael became the most popular barista in town and active in the theatre scene.

My parents divorced in 2002 which was a shock to the system for all three of us. In many ways I still feel like I'm mourning the death of someone, or something -- that entity that the three of us were when together as a family unit. My father moved to Torino, Italy for a year and I moved to London. After years of being so tightly knit we've all split off into completely different directions.

My family may have been extremely poor, but because of Gael's tireless hard work and humour and my father's artwork we were the happiest and most well-travelled bohemians I've ever known. Gael was the shining thread that held us together, kept us positive, and gave me a stability growing up that I may not have had otherwise.

Now for the first time in Gael's life she has her driver's license and is working towards a career for herself in stenography and closed captioning. I am very proud of her and happy she is doing something for herself. She's eternally young in spirit (and in appearance, I swear she doesn't physically age), exceptionally loving and generous, and she constantly inspires me to this day.. but the photographs tell more about her than words can.

I love you, Mom!



Sinclair Island, 1986


Planting carrots on Sinclair Island, 1988


Gael looks so beautiful. I'm the tomboy looking uncomfortable in the pink frilly dress. Sinclair Island, 1988


Gael and Dad


Katy and Gael, Sinclair Island, 1990


Sinclair Island, 1990



Gael and Dad on San Juan Island sailing trip, 1990


Uncle Greg (looking very 80s) and Gael, Anacortes, 1990


Gael and I on Halloween, Sinclair Island, 1991

(Gael's practicing her best vulcan stare)


Anacortes, 1991


Seaside, Oregon, 1991


Gael, Dad, and I, Anacortes, 1991





Gael and Dad performing at The New Bohemian on Halloween. Anacortes, 1992


Framed at The New Bohemian, Anacortes, 1992


Making an italian soda at The New Bohemian, Anacortes, 1992


Behind the counter at The New Bohemian, Anacortes, 1992


Anacortes, 1994










I always associate Gael with rings and liquid eyeliner. Those rings are etched into my memory.






Portrait of Gael made by my Dad, 1994


Dad and Gael, Anacortes, 1994?

(I used to love showing this one to people and saying, "They're my parents!")



Annick, me, and Gael in Antwerp, Belgium, 1997


Gael and Guy. Antwerp, Belgium, 1997


Gael and I at a party, Antwerp, Belgium, 1997


Polar Opposites. Antwerp, Belgium, 1997

I love this photo. This was taken at our local pub, The Cuveeke, where we would drink with the locals until dawn. After about 1am most of our drinks were free, either given to us by the owners or bought by the locals who became good friends with us. I don't remember the name of the very typically Belgian looking gentleman to the right, but he was also a regular.


Gael and Ludwig jamming at The Cuveeke. Antwerp, Belgium, 1997

Ludwig ran our local friterie and became a good friend. We used to sing karaoke with him until the early hours of the Belgian morn.


Antwerp, Belgium, 1997

Gael and I spent the day making paper cranes and she handed them out to businessmen on the street.



Gael and I (Dad and Chan in the background). Antwerp, Belgium, 1997


Gael has fascinating feet. Around the table: Neil, Annick, Dad, Chan, and Guy. Antwerp, Belgium, 1997


Gael and Neil in Antwerp, Belgium, 1997


As a geisha for Halloween, Anacortes, 1998


Backstage pass photo for Benicassim in Barcelona, Spain, 2001


Port Townsend, 2002


At my bachelorette party, Port Townsend, 2002


Gael with a Bebop stole, Port Townsend, 2002


At a friend's wedding, Anacortes, 2002


At the Kinetic Skulpture Race, Port Townsend, 2002


Macsen and Gael (as the proud mom) at my wedding, Port Townsend, 2002


Gael and Kirsten at the Pisces Party, Port Townsend, 2003


Visiting me in London, 2004


Pints for the girls, London, 2004


A few from before I knew her...



Growing up in Pullman, WA




Gael, her sister Sharon, and her brother Steve.


(I know, I cheated, it's a few hours past the bday deadline in this timezone, but in it's still bday-time in PST!)

* * *
* * *

Page 1 of 2

1, 2
* * *
On March 9th, 2005 08:23 pm (UTC), therealbird commented:
Woah, was that surprising.

I'm from Anacortes, too. But my family got there in the early 90s, I guess too late for the New Bohemian. Where was it?
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Rare to come across others from Ana. :) The New Bohemian was open from around 92' to early 94', it was located on 5th in the block of buildings across from The Majestic. I think there's a self-help bookshop or something there now.
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 08:38 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag commented:
wow
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 08:39 pm (UTC), snowmoa commented:
awesome. I love homages. She looks like Kristen Hersh of the Throwing Muses
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 05:23 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I never thought of the Hersh likeness before, the hair-do is certainly similar!
— On March 15th, 2005 07:37 am (UTC), interimlover posted a reply · Expand
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC), dawaioser commented:
Happiest of birthdays to her!
She looks like a lovely person, very beautiful and full of vibrant spirit! ':^)
[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:17 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Happiest of birthdays to her!
full of vibrant spirit

She is, she affects whole rooms when she walks in. She may be small, but she gets noticed. :)
* * *
On March 9th, 2005 08:57 pm (UTC), ginamoog commented:
wow wow & wow. Happy birthday to her.
[User Picture]
On March 16th, 2005 02:27 am (UTC), nomi replied:
thanks! I'll have to make sure she reads the comments to see all these bday wishes. :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 09:03 pm (UTC), sebastian commented:
she's gorgeous . you were blessed with her inner beauty as well as your natural beauty . ( phew, i manoeuvered enough so that it didn't sound like a backhanded compliment, gome . ) happy b-day gael !
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 05:35 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Thank you.. even though we're not blood-related or similar in appearance we were always asked if we were related, perhaps because we share a lot of the same mannerisms.

(For a second I thought you had called me "gnome" which was what my parents called me when I was little.. I was wondering how on earth you knew that. ;)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 09:10 pm (UTC), cnwb commented:
Before I read the part about singing like Elisabeth Fraser, I was going to say the first photo looks like she was in the Cocteau Twins (a total compliment, of course).
[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:18 am (UTC), nomi replied:
She'll love that compliment.

I wish I had some recordings of her singing. There's snippits on snarg.net, but sadly that's all I have.
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 09:16 pm (UTC), vizzygoth commented:
naomi, this is such a beautiful, thoughtful tribute to a special person in your life. over the years of reading your journal, i have developed an idea of how amazing gael is, but reading the whole story nearly brought tears! you are both so lucky to have had each other in your lives...

i especially love the closeup sepia tint photo of her.

happy birthday gael! :)
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 11:24 am (UTC), nomi replied:
thank you, sweetie. I count my lucky stars she came into my life when she did.

That photo is one of my favorites, it's all in the eyes. :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 9th, 2005 10:32 pm (UTC), m00t commented:
YAY GAEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I miss Gael :(
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 11:34 am (UTC), nomi replied:
I miss her, too.

I hope we can all get together again someday.

by the way, did you ever receive any gifts from amazon? For all I know because of the mix-ups you may have received 3 gifts now.. if so then happy birthday, merry christmas, and happy valentine's day. ;)
— On March 10th, 2005 11:57 am (UTC), m00t posted a reply · Expand
* * *
On March 9th, 2005 11:21 pm (UTC), crankmagnet76 commented:
It's already been said, but... wow.
[User Picture]
On March 16th, 2005 02:32 am (UTC), nomi replied:
I obviously think she's pretty amazing, so it's cool to see others agree. :)
* * *
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:22 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Thank you, it is much appreciated. :)
* * *
On March 10th, 2005 03:22 am (UTC), josef_barghest commented:
What a thoroughly splendid read.
[User Picture]
On March 16th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Thank you and thanks for taking the time to read it.
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 03:23 am (UTC), localcharacter commented:
Thank you for this! I don't know her that well, but... she really is that beautiful and sweet and unique. Happy Birthday, Gael!
[User Picture]
On March 16th, 2005 02:22 am (UTC), nomi replied:
It's a shame we all didn't get to know each other better before we jetted off. I admit to having match-maker thoughts about you two, but I think the time has passed. Damn. ;)
— On March 18th, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC), localcharacter posted a reply · Expand
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 04:00 am (UTC), blueaspic commented:
Beautiful tribute.. beautiful lady.
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 06:03 am (UTC), celie commented:
This is a lovely entry...

Happy belated birthday, Gael!
[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:30 am (UTC), nomi replied:
the cow is staring at me.
glad you enjoyed it. :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 06:18 am (UTC), whorlpool commented:
..
She looks a bit like Kate Bush in some of those photos. Happy birthday to her!
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 05:41 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: ..
I know she would take that as a great compliment. :)
— On March 10th, 2005 05:44 pm (UTC), whorlpool replied, “Re: ..” · Expand
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 06:19 am (UTC), banshee commented:
That was just wonderfully fascinating. You have the most interesting family! Thank you for this.
[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:32 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Thank you for taking the time to read it with your busy mommy schedule. :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 08:29 am (UTC), citizenkafka commented:
That's a great story. I've read about your travels and family as you post things, and this post filled in a lot of very interesting blanks. And it always makes me smile when you mention places I know all too well. Thanks for sharing, it was heartwarming.

[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:38 am (UTC), nomi replied:
I haven't written very much about my past in this journal. Some people have been reading me for 4 1/2 years and still don't know much about me, I guess it's about time I filled in some blanks. ;) Thank you for reading!
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 08:38 am (UTC), langerdan commented:
As usual Naomi you've surpassed yourself. (Just when we thought it wasn't possible!). Thanks for sharing & happy Birthday to Gael.

(She doesn't look forty though does she)
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 05:53 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
She doesn't look forty at all, like I said she seems
eternally youthful in body and spirit.
I don't know how she does it. :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 09:24 am (UTC), orb8 commented:
naomi, such a beautiful post about a beautiful person! _big_ hugs to both of you
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 05:56 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
thanks, mya. :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 12:40 pm (UTC), newsbean commented:
She reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. Such a beautiful free spirit. Thank you for sharing this. It reminds me of what I want to be with my life (there IS a being with life, instead of in life). Really, truly thank you for this.

I washed my hair in public restrooms for much of highschool as well. Although the situation was vastly different, it was also extremely familiar.
[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:46 am (UTC), nomi replied:
My parents are constant reminders to me that you have to create your own reality and live fully in the moment.

I'm sorry you had to go though a similar experience in HS.
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 01:33 pm (UTC), womanonfire commented:
wow! happy birthday gael!

i didn't know so much about your family this is a really beautiful entry <3

[User Picture]
On March 11th, 2005 06:57 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: wow! happy birthday gael!
glad you enjoyed reading about our little family. (:
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 10th, 2005 03:18 pm (UTC), naturesfriend commented:
That was so much fun- reading and seeing beautiful photos of your lovely mom. Happy birthday, Gael!!!
[User Picture]
On March 12th, 2005 10:49 am (UTC), gulch replied:
As I'm sure I've said before, I've never met Gael or even communicated with her other than through group emails on Antiweb, but I've always felt what an amazingly special person she is. Those writings of hers on j'n'g touched me incredibly when I first read them all those years ago (I'm sure I mentioned the one where she talks about you as a teenager, which brought tears to my eyes and really made me understand what it is to be part of a family). I remember her mentioning a book that she was working on, and for years I barely suppresed the anticipation of hearing more about it.

And, yeah, she is drop-dead gorgeous.

What I didn't know is that you Dad had a Ricky like mine!
— On March 16th, 2005 02:16 am (UTC), nomi posted a reply · Expand
* * *
On March 14th, 2005 10:41 am (UTC), (Anonymous) commented:
Brings back memories
Nomi,

What a lovely post! Gael is one of the most funny and sweet persons I've ever met. I will never forget that year we spent together in Antwerp. :) Seeing these pictures from the past, makes me almost feel nostalgic. Anyway, give Gael a big (virtual) hug! Or even better: send me her e-mail address, I'd love to write her. Love, Annick.
[User Picture]
On March 29th, 2005 11:40 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Re: Brings back memories
Dear Annick,

That year in Antwerp will always be one of my best memories. We all had a lot of fun together. :) I will send you her email address and vice versa, it would be great if you two caught up with each other..

kisses! :)
* * *
[User Picture]
On March 15th, 2005 07:28 am (UTC), weetanya commented:
what a wonderful homage. and what a unique life. *hugs* to the girl who washed her hair in the bathrooms, and *hugs* to the girl now with the great creative spirit.
[User Picture]
On March 30th, 2005 12:07 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Thank you, Tanya. *hugs* to you too, since you're pretty incredible yourself.
* * *

Page 1 of 2

1, 2
* * *

Previous Entry · Leave a comment · Share · Next Entry