This page won’t be up very long. She asked me to keep it up for a few months and then take it down. So that’s what I’m doing. Because, well, Jamie Maxwell rocks (btw, that’s not her real name, and this is not her real picture, I’ll get to that later), and if Jamie wants me to keep a page up for a few months, well, that’s what I’m going to do. Otherwise she’d just hack this page and do it herself… Love that woman; even after all these years she can still blow my mind.
But let me start at the beginning because I love this story and only recently realised it was being written behind my back.
To set the stage for those that haven’t read my book yet, Jamie Maxwell is a character in my novel. She’s based on someone I knew way back when…
The wind howled outside. The leaves were almost all gone, and those that had not yet succumbed to fall, thanks to the wind and rain beyond the pane, now were but a memory. Winter was on its way. Sheets of freezing rain poured down almost insultingly, right on the other side of the window from which I gazed at my ‘other’ option.
Stay here or go home.
Stay here with her, or go home in that weather.
Stay here at her apartment, sleep here at her apartment, or go home in the freezing rainy night.
I was so nervous. I was much younger back then, and she was hot… and intelligent, and very intimidating… She knew as much about music as I did, as much about science fiction, as much about video games, as much about philosophy, you name it, whatever knowledge I possessed that I believed made me unique way back when, she also possessed… And she possessed so much more…
I’ve been using computers since the age of… Well, since forever. I love computers, from the 12,000$ Apple IIC I enthusiastically used at my Uncle Peter’s house when I was young, through the age of the first Macs, through Cegep in Electro Tech (amongst other things), right until now, I love computers. And in the Era of ‘state-of-the-art-U.S.-Robotics-14.4-Kbps-modems’, I was damned proficient at doing things with them.
However, this girl that I was with on this freezing rainy night… She was beyond good. She was better at everything I was best at, and she was an AI Theorist on top of everything else! I was so out of my league. I was with a PhD! Oh, I was so nervous.
Note: A writer she was not. For that matter, back then, neither was I. Nor is she a writer now, well she is because she writes beautifully, but that’s not what she does professionally. That’s what I do. She doesn’t work for a marketing firm either. That’s also what I do. She kind of stole my identity. But I’m jumping ahead of myself here. Sorry. Back to the story.
So there I was, looking out Jamie Maxwell’s window at the buckets and buckets of freezing rain being projected sideways by 75kph gusts of wind. The wind was howling (I know that word is overused, but it was really howling!) loud as all hell. The fallen late fall leaves were being morbidly tossed about down the street two stories down from whence I pondered (haha! ‘from whence I pondered’ never thought I’d write that).
The leaves reminded me of tiny human bodies skipping on water. You know, like when those really fast boats crash on disaster shows and the drivers get flung out and begin to skip on the water’s surface? The way the leaves were battered by the wind and the rain looked, well, they looked like that. Flaying limbs, completely unconscious, resigned to their fate.
Anyway, I digress. I was standing there thinking. Do I make a break for it and walk all the way from Rachel and St-Denis to the nearest Metro through this maelstrom of poetic irony, or do I stay here with her? The super beautiful, incredibly brilliant, slightly older than me AI Theorist/Punk Philosopher PhD that scares the living crap out of me.
Now, please, don’t misunderstand me, I was, and still am, by no means a wuss. The person standing at that window such a long time ago, looking out so longingly, thinking of escape, was a relatively experienced young man (relatively).
He was used to the night, he liked the underground world, he knew how to handle himself, he was a performer, a musician, a poet, he was by no means stupid, he was fun, he was brave, and he was adventurous. Still… Right or wrong, he was afraid of the tall shapely girl with the rather large breasts who just disappeared into the kitchen to get some more beers.
He was truly intimidated by her, and he was upset at himself for feeling that way. It was a ‘core of his being’ type of moment. He hated admitting that she was just a little more delinquent than him, just a little smarter, just a little better looking, just a little more fit; she was just a little more everything that he held so very dear about himself… truly she was, this isn’t just a perception thing… I know it for a fact. I was there.
She came back holding two beers: “I’ve never met anyone so young and so into the algorithms of reality. I’m really happy to have met you today, Chris. Who would’ve thunk it?”
‘Algorithms of reality’ and ‘so young’ balanced out by ‘who would’ve thunk it’. Do you understand what I mean? Even the way she spoke felt weird, plus she was only a few years older than me, the ‘so young’ was so not warranted.
I turned and walked on a shiny hardwood floor towards a stylish dark red love seat. Everything was perfectly designed. From the black framed while background paintings of circuit boards to the lamps, hidden cleverly behind wooden wall panels near the 12 foot high ceiling. So spotless. So adult. On the coat-hanger in the corner, my soaking-wet black leather jacket clashed with the furniture.
Jamie was sitting on the matching sofa on the right of the love seat. She had towel dried her long dark curly hair and it glistened ever so perfectly in the perfect ambient light. Believe it or not, outside it began to rain harder.
Something inside me giggled a little, it was one of those internal ‘huh-huh!’s that sound a little bit insane when you think about them to long, but it instantly relaxed me. I shook my head and smiled. She was so pretty. What the hell is wrong with me? I laughed inside. She had changed into a fresh black t-shit and dry frayed blue jeans. Huge perfectly intimidating braless breasts beating at my bravery. I was dripping on the shiny wooded floors. Figuratively, not metaphorically. “Is there anything I could wear while I put my clothes in the dryer?”
She gave me a funny look and cocked an eyebrow. “No,” she said with a wide smile on her perfectly chiseled face.
I smiled right back and playfully began taking off my pants really quickly. She barked out a laugh, “Fine, wait, wait, you win, funny, ok, I’ll get you something before you eloquently demonstrate the effects of shrinkage.” She rose and made for a corridor beside a nice open kitchen. I followed. Her apartment smelled wonderful, like clean clothing and wet girl hair.
When we entered the corridor I realized that her place was much bigger than I had first imagined, “Holy crap, Jamie, your apartment is amazing!” We walked pass the kitchen, pass a dining room type of area, chatting away, and then the corridor led us to another living room, but it was set up like a conference office. It was large, contained a massive conference table, and nine rather imposing leather chairs. “Ok…” I really didn’t understand.
“I work from here, Chris” she laughed a little, “hardly anything in this place is mine, it’s all paid for by the corporation that I work for.”
“Ok…” Still a little confused I walked on.
Beyond the conference room was another, smaller kitchen, and AV room, and then the corridor bent, and up ahead, in a room maybe fifteen meters ahead, I saw what must have been thousands of tiny LED lights in the distance. Walls and rows of green, red, blue, and yellow blinking spots, but before I could ask what they were for, Jamie opened a door, and to my surprise, we entered a whole other apartment. One much more to my liking.
It was messy as all hell. There was a pile of clothes on the floor probably half a foot deep in some places. I actually exhaled in relief. She smiled and shrugged her shoulders apologetically. “Sorry for the mess, this is my private area.”
I burst out laughing. It took her a microsecond to get the ‘messy private area’ innuendo and she burst out laughing as well.
I was eventually wearing a pair of her blue jeans (I’m 6’1″-6’2″, Jamie is about 5’11”-6″, so it didn’t look as crazy as you might think), and a soft long sleeved dark-blue cotton shirt with a large yellow smiley face on the back. Her soft and comfortable clothes smelled wonderful and I remember thinking to myself, why do clothes always smell better and seem softer when a girl does the laundry? (I learned a few years ago that it was simply because I was doing it wrong.)
We ended up in the living room of her messy personal area, leaning back side by side on a comfy well-worn sofa, tunes playing in the background, our feet on a coffee table, drinking beers, smoking Dunhills, looking at the rain hit her 8 foot cathedral style windows, talking.
It turned out that she didn’t really want me for sex at all. She was just very lonely.
We talked for hours and watched the sun rise. She told me all about her life. How she was always working, all the time, and about how much she loved her work. She was quite good at what she did it seems, one of the best in the world, and, cuddled together comfortably on her sofa, I found that I was no longer intimidated by her in the least. Just very impressed and happy for some strange reason.
She explained to me that she only got out about once a month or so, otherwise she was mostly isolated working in her computer lab. Exception made for a few meetings she held from time to time in her conference room, Jamie Maxwell was a true recluse.
She explained that she’d been like this since the age of twenty, and even before that she was a very solitary person, and that sometimes because of that, she forgot how to act around people. She liked it that I talked a lot.
Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it’s just the normal passage of time (it’s been close to 20 years!), but I can’t really recall most of our conversation. I remember what was communicated, how wonderful it felt, how incredibly interesting it was, but not the words we used.
Can you imagine a life like hers? Waking up when you want, working on something you love working on everyday, on your terms, being so good at something that companies build offices around you, and provide you with anything your heart might desire, just so that you’re happy. Because when you’re happy, you’re productive, and when you’re productive, your employer makes billions.
At one point, she snuggled up to me and told me that from time to time, once a month or so, or once every two months, she needed to be around someone real. That working with artificial intelligence for too lengthy a time alone, made her forget how real intelligence worked. That it made her feel cold inside. That it made her forget how it feels to be human. She snuggled in tighter. She didn’t feel cold to me at all. She told me she was leaving for Colorado Springs in a few weeks to work for a different employer, and due to the sensitive nature of her work, she would be incommunicado for about five years.
Five years… Wow. Imagine being locked out from the outside world for five years… Incredible woman that Jamie Maxwell. Absolutely incredible. You should’ve seen her…
Anyway… It was all very mysterious this AI programming business, and she was very cool. I was having a ball.
At this point, I’d like to add that, interesting as it was, all in all, we didn’t really speak of her job that much. To be honest, back then I didn’t really care what people did for a living, still don’t, I care about what people can do in real life.
I was a long-haired black-leather-biker-jacket-wearing classically-trained-punk/metal-musician with holes in his pants and 14 hole Docs on his feet. I thought I’d have at least 10 albums by now. I didn’t know that I’d eventually become a writer. And I certainly didn’t know that I’d write a novel about AI inspired by her life. Back then, with humility and humble honesty, I was a cool dude, she was an awesome chick, we were just two people in their early 20’s sitting on a couch, talking, drinking beers, listening to tunes and watching (and hearing -Howl! Howl!) the rain beat the crap out of a pair of really big windows.
I remember what albums (yes, this is way before the MP3, back then we had these things called CDs, no, no, not like DVDs, yes, even before that, so no burning, so you had to listen to entire albums (so bands actually had to work back then to make all their songs good), unless you constantly wanted to get up and change CDs) we listened to more than our conversations. No. Don’t go back and re-read. You don’t have to, the sentence goes: I remember what albums we listened to and how we felt about them with more detail and clarity than what we actually said to each other. It’s like that for the whole night…
Writing about her helps me to remember, but still… there are so many error bits in the code… Plus, it really doesn’t help that I made her into a character in my novel. Now her personality is all jumbled up in my head… Oh well… and such is life.
The fact that I wrote a novel inspired by her personality and work with AI, and that I’m taking all this time to write a decent explanation as to why none of her Twitter friends can reach her anymore should speak volumes about how truly incredible this woman is; a million and one candle lights…
Ok, sorry for that, don’t know where it came from, feeling a little weird about all this… She asked me to write something good for all those people that she met online and will never see again, she asked me to explain in my own way why she did why she did…
But while I’m writing this I can’t be working on my second novel, so that bothers me a little, but at the same time I don’t mind because she rocks and without her, well, my life would be really different and there would be no second novel to work on because the first would not have been written so I owe her, and… and this is a very, very important ‘and’, make no mistake… she’s so fantastically brilliant and incredibly dangerous that if I don’t do it she might do it for me, and while I’m sure I’d personally find it incredibly funny because she has a wicked sense of humour, I’m also sure that it would offend everyone I know and perhaps even cost me my job, so here we are… Where was I again? Oh yeah… The music… (Jamie, you rock!)
I think I Alone by Live was playing when she told me that she prefers to be alone than around people. She literally said: “I’d rather be the just ruler of the country of singular me, to be free but a lonely army of one, than to be a citizen of a nation of millions of idiots no better than sheep, conforming to absurd morality in order to have an identity homogenous with the group’s.”
You know what, Jamie? If there was a war, I’d bet on your empire-of-one any day.
We spoke of religion and what it does to humanity. You know, like 9/11, the Spanish Inquisition, witch burning, holy wars, Jihads, concentration camps, no condoms for Africa, clitoral ablation, and other such brilliant religious endeavors… So much fighting, so much killing and violence in the name of some God or other, all throughout history… she said to me… More people throughout history have killed in the name of God than in the name of the Devil… Makes you wonder, no? About religion, about which side is the evil and all… Hope Evil isn’t a measure of ‘deaths caused by the actions of your religious leaders’… because a lot of people will get a nasty surprise when they die… If you believe in that sort of drivel… And such is life.
Then we listened to some Rush… Jamie was particularly fond of ‘Closer to the Heart’. Which is why is why those lyrics adorn chapter -8 (minus eight) of my novel.
There was a corny bit when we listened to Bon Jovi and sang our hearts out. “Whoa-Whoa! Livin’ on a prayer!” Back then, in the years of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chilly Peppers, and Bahaus, Fields of the Nephilim, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, Pixies, and every other band you can think of, liking Bon Jovi for some strange reason was taboo. It was something you only did under the influence and behind closed doors. Everyone did it. Secretly. Everyone listened to Bon Jovi… But saying that you liked it was taboo… The ‘90s… A very weird time.
However… Then we put on Sonic Temple by The Cult… This was when she cuddled up… (Remember, from before?)… The Gods lay at your feet, Jamie… (I know it’s ‘The dogs lay at your feet, Edie’ but I like my version better, at least, it applies better to her)… And we sang the Sweet Soul Sister Canon perfectly “Na na-na-na na-na-nana na-na na ahh” Isn’t that amazing? She knew the song as well as I did. She sang perfectly! Well, perfectly, no, we have decent voices, but neither of us is a singer, we did have the timing and enthusiasm down perfectly, and really, that’s all it takes sometimes.
We fell asleep on the couch sometime later, and both woke when the sun was setting. I didn’t even notice that it stopped raining. It was a beautiful and fresh afternoon and I walked home with an oddly content smile on my face.
We became good friends over the next two weeks, and good friends was all we became. It was odd: she was gorgeous, brilliant, but I must have known on some level that a relationship with her would not work. Or that sex would ruin what we have. Or maybe, it’s exactly because we were so very much alike that an intimate relationship with her seemed so… Feudianly weird to me… I don’t know.
We were simply happy to be hanging and goofing around together. I realised after about a week that what she needed for a boyfriend was someone only a little like me (I was a distraction to her, I think) but a lot like her, otherwise she most likely wouldn’t ever fully be happy. She needed someone from her AI theory world that’s delinquent… And that’s when I got the idea for Alistair Maxwell, the main character in my novel.
It was afternoon when I left her place that day. I remember telling her offhandedly, “You know what, Jamie?”
“I think that one day I’ll write a book about you.” I laughed a little at the silliness of what I was saying, like I’d ever write a book, “and I’ll make you love this super smart delinquent hacker guy who wants to take over the world. Plus, I simply have to add a naughty shower scene!”
She looked at me and smiled, “If you do, I’ll come back to Montreal, stalk you, and steal your identity.”
And therein lies the beauty of this story.
You see, Jamie did come back to Montreal, did stalk me, and she did steal my identity. It’s the best thing ever. That girl rocks.
This is what she did. She’s been in Montreal for the last five months, but I only found out recently that she’s here. Besides that, I haven’t seen her or spoken to her since she left for Colorado Springs way back when.
It’s not like I looked for her or anything, in fact, besides thinking about her when I was writing the book almost a decade after meeting her, it never even occurred to me to look for her. She was someone special from my past, but who I only knew for about 2 weeks, and who I haven’t seen in almost 20 years.
Jamie managed to get her hands on some of my personal writing, an electronic copy of my novel, some of my ideas for my blog, some thoughts and notes about Singularity, and various other things I was working on, preparing for my book launch. It’s amazing how she can do that. Just hack into anything.
The point is that most of the texts were only half done, drafts that needed much editing. She finished what I began, corrected my spelling, and added brilliantly to the content. I have nothing to say. I don’t think I could’ve a done better job. She did it so well that I stuck with the style of website that she began, in tribute. I’ll have to migrate eventually, but for now, I like it here…
Jamie called herself ‘Neocount’ on Twitter because it’s the name of one of my favourite fictional characters of all time. It’s from the exceptional Coldfire trilogy by C.S. Friedman. Do you know why she did that? She was giving me random chances to find her. I can’t believe it never occurred to me to look for a ‘Neocount’ on Twitter…
She left for Tokyo about mid-April (this was her 2nd time going back, and we had a laugh at how it coincided with the launch of my novel, if you read it, you’ll get what I’m talking about), but not to teach English to IT managers in some corporation, as she told every one of her friends on Twitter. Oh no, not her… She was hired to work in her field, and again, is incommunicado…
But she asked me to say goodbye to you all. She says that she’s sorry for not being honest about her identity, however, who you’ve interacted with on-line was really her. She asked me to thank everyone for the excellent debates about Singularity, Lost, Politics, and everything else in between, and for all the other fun conversations as well. She said that she met more quality people on-line, and interacted with them in those few months, then she had in the last 15 years of her life… You must be some amazing people…
The picture that she uses on her blog is my cousin’s (i.e: the pic at the beginning of this story), slightly photoshopped, she stole it off facebook. It was another clue she left for me to find. Jamie is not allowed to post pictures of herself, she’s normally not even allowed to have any type of social network account, but it’s Jamie, she knows what she’s doing, and if she doesn’t want to get caught, well, she won’t be.
Note: The description of her in my novel is accurate, for those that are curious, both intellectually and physically.
So wherever you are Jamie Maxwell, thanks for the most excellent tribute and for the most excellent send off. I can’t believe what a great job you did! I mean, you really never ever do anything small do you? You put quite some time into this. I guess I’ll see you in another, what, 15 years?
And, oh yeah, Jamie, believe me, that character based on you, will now undoubtedly make some more appearances in future novels. And no, Jamie, to answer your question, I will not stop writing about your breasts. I was a poet long before becoming a novelist, Jamie, you know that. Asking a poet to stop writing about perfection is like asking him to willfully stop the beating of his own heart at its sight…
So, what’s next? Well, to all friends of Jamie Maxwell… And may I say that I am envious of you to have spent these months with her… Even if it was only via a blog and Twitter. I only got an e-mail and a half hour at the airport! But it was enough time to sign a copy of my novel for her, introduce her to my wife, and have a quicky threesome in the washroom… Hahaha! No! I’m kidding, I’m kidding! But I got you!
No matter where she is, I’m sure Jamie’s going to read this the minute it’s up, so I wanted to make her sweat a little. I can almost hear her laughing in that contagious way of hers. She laughs in deep guffaws that slightly spike in pitch at the end. And when you hear her laugh, you know that all is well with the world as long as that sound exists.
Anyhoot, to all friends of Jamie Maxwell, you can read more about her in my novel, she’s truly an incredibly rare person. You might be thinking that what I wrote is a stylized version of her, but trust me, I got her right on. Even she was impressed. I’d love it if we could become friends as well. She speaks (er, writes) very highly of you all… You lucky bastards…. You have no idea what I’d give to have known she was on Twitter… I got 30 minutes in an airport and an e-mail… And… Well… Enough inspiration to write a novel… Ok, so fine, we’re even…
So what’s next? Well, I’m going to take back my two crossovers, it took me a while to write those, and I’d love to share them with my own friends, you know? I might take back some of my other stuff as well, but I’ll leave most of it be. It’s kinda hers after all, and she did it for me, it was a great tribute…
But to be honest, I still have no idea it was a tribute to whom…
The writer in me thinks she made a shrine to her fictitious self, and that strikes me as a little psycho… But then again, who am I kidding? The writer in me is a paranoid schizophrenic and in no way qualified to speculate about reality, and the critical thinker in me keeps reminding me that I’m not nearly smart enough to figure out the reasons behind ‘her’ actions…
So here we are… The truth our only horizon.
You can get the book here: