parkdale-7

mad late, but here are the haikus from last week before today’s last workshop:

the theme was “autumn turning into winter in parkdale”:

it’s too hot inside
smells of man are very ripe
polyester-no.

dark days turn frosty
leaves are more wet than crunchy
ground down into slush

farmer’s market done
tacos are all year round, though
faces-stuffed and starved

this time, they’re all about nature (maybe the theme set us up for success)-and i know that rule now.

time flies when you’re having fun.

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parkdale, 6.

“sometimes, you have to kill your puppies”

sometimes, the advice that you get in writing workshop confirms everything that is happening in your life.

i have been feeling some rage lately-i just want people to be better, and know how to express their feelings without hiding behind grossly re-imagined texts and emails. i left work just early enough to slide into the abbott for tea and got the satisfaction of stamping all the paper cups and ranting to the lovely katherine.

first, the quotes of my amazing and talented co-writers for further pondering:

“we periodically take her on a magical mystery tour”

“it sounds like a shortcut to creativity”

and now, my poetry of the night-the faux sestinas, first from my free write, and then from everyone’s free writes. this time, i contributed “grimace” because “pork hock” was not accepted:

pork is a tough sell
it inspires grimaces, religious and secular
with stalkery byproducts-check your marshmallows
though flexibly delicious atop all of the starches
rice, potato, perogy, bread, noodles
an unintentional service announcement
merely a statement of facts as i have no hocks to hawk

so frustrated
trying to livestream
the octopus
hiding in water
inspires only grimaces
what is the formula?!

we started editing, and it was nice to look back on all of our writings, and i did find a piece to develop for the parkdale time capsule, but it’s more of a piecing together of many writings, rather than one to be edited.

(i forgot to find the emotional centre).

oops.

once again, i’m so great-full for the time and space and writings shared with this group.

parkdale love letters-week three

for the first time last week, i left the workshop with a piece that needed work and re/work. i knew from the free write that it would be the night that i pay tribute to dov, and i had just come from jim wong-chu’s memorial the night before, so i was feeling a bit bittersweet and tender. but that’s the thing about writing-it’s always got me through.

i lit some incense for these friends and mentors yesterday, imperfect as they were, and went out into my community to celebrate strong women and also to cry in the ceremonial space that was walking with our sisters-it’s kind of hard to fully celebrate when the misogyny and art that comes from healing is so real. the top part of a moccasin is called a vamp (i learned this), and a gymnasium full of decorated yet not sewn into a full shoe (to represent the unfinished lives of the missing and murdered indigenous women) was so power-full and so shame-full (hey, canada). i crumbled at the first baby one, and cried angry tears at the ones that had dates-1971 stands out-some people have been waiting for justice for their loved ones for 8 years before i was born, and many more have been waiting so much longer. one set were covered in garbage bags and stated “we are precious. we are not your disposable garbage”. the beadwork, the needlework, the mourning, and the artistry that came out of the creativity necessary for survival was flooring and another reminder of the inequality between women and men, because even when we are navigating the most violent of circumstances, we are the ones shouldering the responsibility of educating and coping, all while our bodies are the battleground.

and they call us crazy.

well.

there were a lot of feels that came out of life last week, so here’s to starting this one with some process:

i chose two pictures tonight
because of their warmth
no one was in the frames
but lights were the sign of life

i took a picture of you once
at the Cadillac Lounge
whisky was in the frame
but no physical copy exists
you’re as tangible as you ever were

drawn to your smoky drawl
country in the city
art on your arms and music in your heart
i suppose i chose warmth thrice

i once saw you cry because
your wall was covered
immediately after you painted it
and i am still moved
when i hear that old soul singer
you introduced me to
now especially

frozen water
still water
live

reflecting the light
evidence that we were here
but also that we’re not

you went back to the ocean
home forever
except the part of your essence
that remains in Parkdale

i hold space.

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.

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….