the mortality of jim wong-chu

“did you know jim wong-chu?”

“yea, did he die?”

“yes, two days ago”

“of course i knew him from the RP days and he was also my mailman”

“oh yea, he was a mailman”

“and then he called me a bridge-burning lesbian”

“WHAT?!”

i mean, this was less of a big deal to me than the person who informed me of jim’s passing over text, and jim himself. he definitely had a problem with lesbians.

and bridge-burning.

admittedly, i was always on the outskirts of his legacy, even when i lived in vancouver, and moved into the neighborhood that the ricepaper office was in that also happened to be his route (no accidents). i was a freshly minted women’s studies (under)grad and oh so worldly because i spent a year in viet nam immersing myself in “my culture”-i was ready to claim my place amongst the great magazine writers of the world.

so i got a retail job. because no writer can make it just writing, right?

well, jim started an asian-canadian arts and culture magazine so that we could not only see ourselves reflected, but we also had a platform to create our own culture, and document it as it was happening. it wasn’t perfect, but it was/is.

he also started a grant (that i’ve been meaning to apply for) so that we could ensure our place in the canadian literary canon.

he also had a day job, and stayed at it because hey-writers gotta eat, and he chose one that allowed him to be not only publisher and literal distributor (he put my copies right into my mailbox, and probably saved on postage too!) but also to hang around the office and suggest wild article ideas to any young writer trapped in asian filial politesse he could see.

there were people-editors, directors, managers between jim and me, and most of them at one time or another had an estranged relationship with him, and to be honest, i think i forgot he was the founder and publisher until i googled the death announcement this morning, two days late.

as i write this, i’m in a text conversation with a RP affiliate that i’ve been meaning to see for some time now. this is not the reason that i envisioned that would bring us together. but it is the one that brought us together officially.

i lost track of jim when i left vancouver (presumably to become a bridge-burning lesbian) for montreal, but i thought he would always be there. i would hear about him from time to time, and even asked about him.

he was born two years after my father, so he died at 68.

it would seem that i haven’t asked about him in some time. and i haven’t heard.

but here’s to the legacy of jim wong-chu. i will forever respect his hustle and his humility to disappear into the footnotes, never use his own platform to write all the stories about the bands of acrobatic asian janitors that he met, and all the times he offered his own money to one (or all) of us to eat.

i’m great-full to him for never checking me, as i’m old enough now to know that i should’ve been checked many times over. i’m sure that there are many who can testify more intimately to the ways their lives and careers have been touched by jim wong-chu, but i offer this peripheral blink.

thank you, jim, for the reminder of impact, vision, and the importance of taking up space because it’s not a high school dance.

the next time i’m at main and broadway, i’ll pour out a little congee for you. unless they’ve razed my congee joint too. (sigh).

as much as i was lost in a self-absorbed fog of how i had to leave vancouver, it was perfect at that time of my life, and i was exactly where i needed to be. this reminder comes not a minute too soon, here in this city that i’ve finally reached after idealizing it for so long from there.

things are pretty freaking good here and now, too.

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storied truths

here are the stories that i heard from podcasts that keep swirling around my mind:

from death, sex and money: in one of the student loan episodes, a woman talks about how she had to default in her loans and her dad eventually committed suicide because he couldn’t handle her debt. now, as horrible as that is, i couldn’t help but wonder what their relationship was like, and maybe daddy was just looking for a way out, or he was super passive-aggressive and finally taught her a money lesson that she would never forget.

from love + radio: i was touched by how disgusting and petty people are-from the guy who clipped his toenails into his roommates’ food because they asked him not to eat it, or the girl who discovered masturbating with her dad’s electric toothbrush-“…and because he knew what a vagina smelled and tasted like….he finally discovered why the battery was always out”.

eeeeeewwwww.

from open run: because the playoffs were so boring, jesse and stefan took to talking about what they’re watching on netflix and other news stories. i can’t get over the dood that sued his date for $17.31 (plus pizza) because she was texting during guardians of the galaxy 2, breaking the rules of the theatre, and, also civil society. but really, his fragile male ego was bruised because she left him stranded at the theatre because he told her to text outside.

37 years old and sounds like an amaaaaazing date. i don’t know why no one has snapped him out yet.

which leads me to the podcast that’s been everything to me the last couple of days-the heart.

i know i’m late, but i can’t stop. it started with aliya‘s interview with caitlin on the imposter, and then i had to see for myself, not just the no series, but every other episode.

consent. confronting abusers. inheritance. losing yourself in a relationship. what’s love got to do with it?

everything, i tell you. every last thing.

super man in the roti shop

“i think you’re used to getting your way”

i love a lot of things about working from home, not the least of which being going to grab a goat dinner because i got a surprise arrival last night that explains my friday night twitter rage against russell westbrook (not that that’s not justified everyday) and why i was ravenous yesterday. sometimes, you just need some red meat protein.

it was a long line, one that i suppose is customary at lunchtime, and i had lots of time to reflect on the day that i’ve already had, and how to maximize the part that remains.

i also got to witness the most important customer service life situation that i have in years.

there was a particularly ruddy man sitting in front of the door, demanding that folks get him napkins while he ate with his mouth open, jabbing at his phone with his disgusting roti fingers (how much you wanna bet that this is one of those non-hand-washing mofos that i caught shit-handed at the airport?). nearing the end of his meal, he started to complain about people who were holding the door ajar because the lineup snaked outside of the restaurant.

then, my hero spoke up. a gentle giant, calm and strong, this man said the following to mister red:

“yes, there’s a lineup. yes-it goes out the door”

“you’re a customer and you’re entitled to your opinion, but we’re customers too, so we can stand in line inside”

“if you don’t like it, i suggest you choose another seat.”

“i don’t think you’re used to people talking back to you. i think you’re used to having your way.”

“you’re being a prick”.

“see what happens? don’t be a prick then.”

he held his own, looked him in the eyes, kept speaking the truth, and never meeting red at his blustery level, or escalating. my favourite was the hard stare directly at him as he made a production of swearing and swirling his jacket arms as he left.

winner winner, roti dinner.

this was so inspiring and simple, not just at work, but in life.

i love him.

this is the calibre of man that can stay in my matriarchy.

the other one-y’all can have him.

(maybe chrisette michele needs him for something for her inauguration set)

the pendulum must always swing back

“we go through episodes too, like attack of the clones”

i’ve been slacking for a few days on this blog (and on not hitting snooze on the alarm).

i didn’t stay up last night, i went to be hope-full because i had hosted a lovely dinner party and made delicious food. i fabric curled my hair (and it turned out dope). i woke up feeling blessed and ready to get up and blog about book junkets and colson whitehead and get ready to bookend my day with yoga.

i had a sinking feeling last night, when things were so very close…and couldn’t help but remember how i felt eight years ago. we kept hearing the whole time that it was impossible. but as the results came in (no recount), we were still at sablo, and i felt an elation that i have never known.

i’m pretty sure that this is what trump supporters thought-that same feeling of the impossible-that reality could possibly swing in a way that reflects your reality even just a little bit. and that was what signalled that it would happen-the glimmer of hope (for some) that it could. that’s all it takes. and really-this is about as american as it can get.

let me just dial it back a second to university. my roommate somehow got a hold of a hustler magazine, and there were these ridiculous poses of women wearing clear heals, taking a lunge position to “pee” on the floor-i say that because the liquid was very yellow and must’ve needed to be enhanced (or dehydrated) to show up in a picture. we were just puzzled, and with our first year women’s studies analysis we came up with this: the further we get in real life, they have to come up with a way to be more demeaning to us in the imaginary one.

and that’s how it is. for anyone who doesn’t believe in the underlying patriarchy (somehow)-here is your proof. it’s also the convenient shirk for every dood who feels the same way and thus now has an outlet-you love trump because trump gets to say all the things you want to, but would be shunned as a monster for saying. he’s your reason to confirm and not express your misogyny.

because let’s face it-if hillary (and why the fuck have we been only using her first name all this time?!) was really going to win, y’all would’ve elected her to head the party before obama, you know that. way back when you had that convenient race of safe black man vs. ballbusting white woman. but you were scared of hillary in a way that you didn’t know to be scared of obama-if hillary would’ve been running against al sharpton (or with al sharpton as a running mate), we would’ve had a very different history.

but i blame your racism there. and i blame your racism now. that little experiment has taken you places you weren’t ready to go-questioning the size of your sodas and having your kids eat junk food (pour out a lil’ liquor for michelle‘s organic garden on the lawn), gay marriage is legal, and you don’t know where the fuck to go to the washroom.

(but you elect a man who wants to fuck his own daughter, thinks women should be grabbed by the pussy, and thinks running a company is the same thing as running the country).

but i see possibility here. this year has brought the kinds of tragedy that can only bring change. so perhaps this (and brexit) means that the world that revolves around america will finally shift on its axis and we can finally imagine a world in which other countries get a voice because we’ll just drown out the clown.

i didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime.

because just like the momentary elation that i felt when the spurs won the championship and i felt like the nba wasn’t rigged for the first time, the cavs had to come back to win it-historically, and so the historical win of history has swung back.

but it will also swing forward. and as all the great musical legends and powerhouses are dying, this new reality will (continue) to keep birthing the amazing musical powerhouses that will be remembered as we go forth.

i will just see y’all when you come touring, because i’m not trying to go south. and i may extend my stay in toronto to four more years now. just to see.

my prediction for 2020 is that it will be a half-life pendulum swing back, as kanye will be further inspired (by the past two) to run, and michelle (the logical candidate) will have to fight him, and it will be a win that sets everyone further back (once again) because it will allow the bat pats for “progressiveness” to be more prolific and undeserved.

because dreams can come true.
and apparently, so can nightmares.

and my first instinct was to jump right to 2020-whose vision in this case is hindsight and the future because we’re trying to gloss over the present.

just to get by….

the corner (formerly known as speaker’s)

“we’re the highest rated comedy club on yelp”

i got free passes to this place outside of the sony centre during jfl 42. i suggested going last weekend to a coworker, and i was glad that she decided to postpone so i could go home and spend thanksgiving eating beef stew out of my slow cooker and napping hard. out of the blue, she asked if wanted to go tonight, and i decided to take her up on it, even though we had to pay because it’s the weekend, and the passes aren’t valid.

i got excited for a moment because the comics were hustling on the corner and i thought we were in, but avril lavigne sold us short, as he didn’t tell us that there was cover, and it was a bit surprising to be in a spot that is smaller than my apartment. but it’s the former speaker’s corner.

the real comedy was seeing a dood that i’ve been ducking since that uncomfortable dinner/punishment, on a date. i thought i was safe because there was a large gentleman who seemed to have walked in from the war, just mumbling and talking about opium and sparked his lighter. it was great because he was built like a refrigerator and was actually funnier than some of the comics, but he disappeared midway through and buddy made me.

it was super awkward, as he said “here here” very loudly to the comic who claimed that living in toronto was all about drinking craft beer and questioning his sexuality. and when that same comic asked him and his date if they were dating or fucking and he said loudly, “we don’t know!” though his eyebrows raised when she raised her hand when another comic asked if anyone had had a brazilian-i bet that’s going to be a fun night.

especially when i tried to duck away (bigups to my boy brian for hooking up the oversized deadstock australian vintage camo parka) though he grabbed me, and when he actually ran after me yelling my government name after that only to make weird small talk and threatening promises to call me-i’m really starting to think that he’s autistic or super clueless to how that looks to the poor young lady you’re on a date with.

most of the comics were ok, except the one who clearly didn’t write any jokes so he decided to punch down and repeat 900,000 times that he wished he could grab women by the pussy. shoutout to the one guy in the audience who decided to tell him he was wrong, and to me for getting more laughs than him by saying, “this is really funny and totally landing. i think you should fucking say it again”.

all in all-i don’t think i will ever go there again. or at least i won’t be in a rush.

but it was a crucial part of my day of odd coincidences, a lapis lazuli, indigo, pears, and aligning flows.

dig if you will a picture…

of a 29 bus route running effectively.

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH…BAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

ha.

maybe one day.

but today was not that day. i had an appointment at bloor and spadina at 11:30. i foolishly figured that leaving my house at 10:45 would be plenty of time. instead, the dufferin loop was full of buses and drivers casually smoking and hanging out and just sitting while the buses and streetcars piled up. FS is listed on the schedule and it’s supposed to mean “frequent service, within 10 minutes”. experience shows that this is more like BS. after 20 minutes of this standoff, a bus finally leaves, but alas and alack, it’s not in service.

more waiting.

more vehicle pileups.

finally, one gets going, well-they all go at the same time (of course), and we go two stops when the driver announces that dufferin is closed between queen and dundas so we’re going on a detour. it makes one unscheduled stop, so i’m optimistic, as perhaps i can still make it on time from dundas and ossington. silly of me once again, as no stop was made until dundas and dufferin (big fucking detour, guys). i had to call and postpone my appointment, which was nonsense, but it was a beauty-full day, and i would get off at the now back to regular stop of dufferin and college and take the streetcar. as the daylight of the year wanes, i’m aiming to stay above ground as much as possible.

but, no. the doors do not open at college for some reason, despite many people asking and pushing-really those back doors are like nail polish-the jerk cosmetic that chips immediately upon application, but refuses to come off when you want it to-the back doors will be quick to snap you up in its jaws, but are immovable when you want to get out-venus flytrap-like fuckers.

magically, the “malfunctioning” doors open at the next stop, and i have to get into it with an unemployed (i’m projecting) masturbator about why it’s not the bus driver’s fault and grumble back to college just to see that streetcar zoom past because the stop is on the wrong dang side of the street.

right salty, i decided to turn the day around by giving up on the ttc altogether and walking my ass to bloor and spadina because that way, i KNOW i will get there, and i had two more hours anyway because i had to reschedule the appointment.

my first item of gratitude was the seeming resolution of the road construction along college. my second item was the lightening of my load when i dropped off my library book at college/shaw. third was my iced mate at empire espresso, a coffee shop that i first encountered the day after mimi died and i got a honey lavendar latte at the location outside kensington market thanks to my indie coffee passport. the energy, crystals, and aromas in there were lovely, and there was a nice plaque on the wall that read something along the lines of “be kind-everyone you encounter is having a rough go at life”.

next up, i decided to meander into red pegasus and support some of our regular customers. i found a lovely book of future letters and plan to teef that idea for many more people than the intended.

further along, i ran into my favourite rapper and added to my legacy of accidentally staining rappers’ shoulders with my lipstick. we traded stories of bureaucracy and hugs and continued along our ways.

i dipped into jelly and got myself a pumpkin tiramisu donut because i am now spending money like water. also-pumpkin tiramisu donut.

i make it to spadina and take the streetcar to bloor. i was still early, so i quickly perused the cd offerings at the spadina road branch of the library and bought some crystals (pyrite and amethyst) at the cedar basket gift shop at the native canadian centre of toronto.

afterwards, i continued my walk because by then i had missed my movie. i went through the village because it’s been awhile, and found out that the crosswalks are rainbow, just like they were in philly last summer.

12 for $12 truffles from purdy‘s and a long overdue reunion with young niko where we put my crystals on the table and wrote and shared our lists of characteristics of our ideal partners (sometimes, it’s good to have a witness) and i browsed through too many boring conversations about thanksgiving on his jack’d account.

we headed to the reference library for the 2016 toronto book awards even though i admit this year, i was totally slipping. i did not read any of them before the ceremony (i kind of fell off with the evergreen books as well-but i’ve been reading down my holds’ list!). the only one i’m really excited about is ann y.k. choi‘s book, along with which she plugged the debut of kim’s convenience tonight.

but of course, a white legacy writer won.

i cut the sleeves off my trusty airplane plaid shirt (because of the mysteriously symmetrical rips that appeared a few weeks ago) and burned a mix of desenvoutement/gratitude/storax to purify the new crystals and bring an end to my weekend.

ever great-full,
xoxo.