meeting sook-yin lee*

“don’t get mad”

but, she never remembers me. and i’m not mad, per se, i’m just bewildered. but it just goes to show, we don’t all have the same priorities, and the things that stick out for us are different than the things that stick out for others.

here are the significant “first-time” meetings of sook-yin lee from my perspective:

-i was probably 8 years old when i saw her on tv, on this magical new station called muchmusic, and not only was i captivated by her asian-canadian face and presence, she was sitting on the edge of a desk talking about eating chicken feet (my favourite dish that i ate with my grandma) and then she took her foot in her hands and mimed eating that. i was incepted with the drive to fill this space in popular culture that was being carved by this woman

-15 years into this quest, when i printfiltrated my way into being the music editor at ricepaper, i pitched a story/interview about the above experience to uncomfortable faces because they had already done a story and had a large beef with her over it-oops. not only did i miss that, i missed that whole part of research into the magazine i was contributing to (which in itself is a large part of the asian-canadian narrative). a rookie mistake that is quickly rendering itself obsolete now that people seem to be caring less about legacy and more about texting than text.

-when i finally moved to toronto ten years after that, i was at the reference library when noticed a woman cloaked in a heavy aztec poncho in the dead of summer, made eye contact with her, and before i could talk to her about the garment that was somehow working (my unspoken understanding is that we are west coast sartorial sisters)-she gave me a handbill of her movie year of the carnivore (she was flyering like spike lee!) and i told her the chicken feet story and told her that i intended to stalk her and be part of her then radio show, DNTO. her response was “not if i stalk you first”. i was smitten.

-i saw YOTC on opening weekend, maybe even twice, even though i was broker than broke that first year, and was blown away by how complete and completely amazing it was. i immediately went back to the library and took out shortbus, because i hadn’t seen that, and squealed when i saw that i had the same vibrator that she was using on the bathroom floor. (i still miss that vibrator and still haven’t been able to find it).

-last year on mother’s day, after a week of getting myself ready to see the apology, i was in the building with so many amazing women, and talked to her extensively afterwards, and she asked me if i also worked in the industry.

-last week, with the cbc director that uttered the opening quote, she introduced herself (again) and though she was comfortable enough to let me stroke her rabbit fur head lining (and i was comfortable enough to do it), she asked me if i was working in the building.

over the last seven years, we have crossed paths many times, and have shared nods and smiles, which i thought were of recognition, but maybe were just of friendliness or mutual style appreciation. or perhaps they were of recognition, not of me personally, but of the fact that we have people and realities in common, and that’s ok.

i sense that people might have a similar kind of experience/expectation of me as a result of the work i do that leads to long-term shallow deep interactions with folks. i am very great-full for the opportunities to be extremely present with people, from whichever side they come. i am sorry for the woman that insists that she knows me (and my “twin sister” who told her i was “going on a trip to china”)-i didn’t see you at yoga because i take my glasses off and i’m there for yoga.

i’m very glad that i keep arising to meet my s/heroes, and that new ones that i haven’t met yet are making more art and music and doing the good work every single day. the matriarchy is possible.

*in reading this over after it went live, it seems that i’m a bit obsessed with syl. i am not. i just have a very efficient card catalogue of a brain, and though i focused in on this person and our interactions to write this blog post, i do not constantly have this running on a loop. i am obsessed with everything, and can basically pull this up for anything that has made an impact on my life. example categories: favourite black thought lyrics, scottie pippen statistics (including clyde drexler‘s height because, you know, the 1990-91 blazers vs. the bulls, obviously), the motorcycles that i’ve been on in every city that i’ve lived in, dogs of the junction, apples i have tasted (oh, juliet, i still remember you), so many details about so many things.

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