pickleball

“the fastest growing sport in north america”

“i heard someone else say it, so i know it’s true”

i personally require more than one source, but glen was so compelling to talk to that i am now going to see him at church on sunday “for the music”, and i am going back there on thursday to try pickleball.

we met yesterday because i took a new route to the subway, and i saw his gardening tools littered on a lifted sidewalk. i had never seen the hook, let alone used it, so i started talking to him to seize my opportunity.

he hooked me with the pickleball, a hybrid racquet sport played with a whiffle ball and a racket larger than that of the ping pong. it’s for people who cannot do the running required of tennis or badminton, but kids are playing it too. i am intrigued.

why is it called pickleball?

because it was invented by a family who was adapting their tennis court to their kids, and when the ball went out of play, the dog had to retrieve it, and the dog’s name was pickle.

come on. if this wasn’t invented for me, i have no idea what was.

the smell of the pine that we were cutting back was invigorating, and the conversation was very sparkling. we talked of vancouver-his kids are there, staying active, and how the church can only stay alive by adapting to the needs of the neighborhood, like pet blessings.

one boy brought his lizard last week.

my mind is absolutely blown with the thought of cats and dogs and fish sitting in pews with children, waiting to be blessed.

glen is not particularly religious, he just started coming fifteen years ago because his father in law was sick and decided that he needed a new church. he was just the driver and came for the music, but it turns out, people are very nice and now he’s doing volunteer gardening, coordinating pickleball, soliciting glasses for the vision drive, and i’m sure much, much more. he used “we” almost exclusively, though he pointed out that he wasn’t there yet when they were built on top of a dump. now the garden is on a garden tour, and teachers eat their lunch there.

this is community. this is participation. this is pride. this is witness. this is why we are alive.

i’m great-full that i met this human and i look forward to seeing him in his element, with his people.

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un/natural cycling

i just tried to lie down because it was four-thirty-something and i have been crying for hours, and it turns out that there is a top limit of clips that i can watch of lebron becoming the GOAT (again).

what season is this? spring? summer? are the birds confused or ecstatic? what is the reason that they are yelling at the top of their lungs at this time? are they organizing? are they catching up? do they know that we don’t have that much time left? are they really free, or are they just in the sky? i mean, they’re definitely not in the sky right now, they are all in these trees, loud as fuck.

have you ever noticed that when you cry lying down, your tears pool in your ears? since equilibrium happens in there, is it actually possible to drown yourself in sorrow?

either way, i’m up and trying this again because i am not tired, even though i am exhausted. or maybe i am not exhausted, even though i am tired. i’ve never been sure where one stops and the other begins.

i put the itunes on shuffle and three songs in, have just been reminded that i haven’t removed kanye from my ipod yet. we haven’t had the chance to debate whether or not we are removing kanye from our ipods yet. because it’s “lost in the world”, i’m not skipping the track. nope-because it’s “lost in the world”, i’m skipping it. hold on.

(“consideration”-rihanna feat. sza)

when i first met you as a fresh-faced music enthusiast, your locks were swinging proudly as you bragged that you became a woman at a lauryn hill concert. i have always wished that was my story.

(“speechless”-beyonce)

i had to tell my single dad that i got my period when i was eleven and he gave me the free samples that came in the mail, immediately called my uncle, and gave me five dollars to ask my sixth grade teacher to buy me “what the girls were using these days”. he did the best he thought he could.

(“needed me”-rihanna)

it’s been twenty years since miseducation and it’s hard to get excited for a reunion when you no longer recognize anyone. i’m there in a heartbeat if there’s even a little chance of original arrangements, so eager that i’m satisfied with the four bars of ex-factor that skratch bastid played on saturday, and i like “nice for what” as much as anyone, but that song is not meant to be a jock jam.

(“kick your game”-TLC)

i heard the hurt in your voice when you rejected the comfort that people offered you at the funeral when they told you that it was their time. “no. it. wasn’t.” i’ve never said that about anyone from that point on.

(“caint use my phone”-badu)

yesterday, my sistar said that about you, and i said, “well….”

she knows the tattoo artist that was supposed to do your chest piece. of course she does, our communities are strong, connected, beauty-full and resistant as fuck.

i heard the news from your ex, who had heard from your other ex-the one that i had a crush on first, for the record, and i introduced you to. nobody ever remembers that part, but i’m not really mad about it, and now is not the time to be petty.

(“what they do”-the roots)

or maybe neither of you took me seriously because you’d seen me cry over that professor, though you never questioned me when i professed my love for him, or his for me-ok, maybe one of you did. you just laughed when i compared him to that big, drooling cat that came with your sublet in mile end, the one we wrote your dissertation in, the one you introduced me to sweet tea in, the one we lay around montrealing and discussing so much music in. i don’t think we ever talked about how he went on to offer a whole course in kanye when it was i who loved him, i never got to tell you that i felt a way about that.

(“skit #4”-kanye west i have to leave it because it’s the “there’s an imposter among us” skit)

i was on the subway when i got the text, on a slow crawl from warden to kennedy.

(“gold digger”-kanye and jamie foxx-fuck fuck fuckity fuck. skipping.)

(“the old prince still lives at home”-shad)

aside: for someone who came from the midwestern united states, born almost in the ’90s, i was very impressed with your knowledge and gusto for canadian hip hop so this is actually getting kind of eerie.

basically, i had too much time to imagine every possible scenario-in this present climate in your country, in your body, it could’ve been any number of things.

(“blood on the leaves”-kanye west fuckity fuck fuck i cannot skip this one.)

but the truth was absolutely not anywhere in the realm of any possibility that i could have imagined. and that’s how you always were-out of this world. honestly, homie, where did you come from? how were you so full of joy, life, experience, curiosity, wisdom, wonder, and how did you have a renewable source for so much more?

even when you were low, and i know you were. you always lived in such an exemplary way. and so you the ending matches the middle that we didn’t know was the middle. your social media accounts are already fading, but i have your letters and know your hand. i love your pictures and that you printed and mailed them to me. i just looked up at your holiday card now and my eyes are misty again.

(“southside”-common and kanye ok, so you trying to have this discussion, huh?)

the thing is, i didn’t realize that i put up so many of your pictures. i was also on my way to resume the library tour with the book you gifted me with as my guidebook when i learned. i was wearing my sue bird jersey. i was reading the first chuck palahniuk book i had read in years. everything was you and pndubs.

i was numb for 48, but this morning on the train uptown, the tears came forth. of course. you always supported metrotextual, you always saw me and my little acts of processing. remember that time my letter got lost because it went to jamaica jamaica and not jamaica plain, boston? and when you wrote back with a giant box filled with all of my favourite snacks from trader joe’s? there was no return address but i knew immediately that it was you. how the fuck did you remember my favourite snacks from trader joe’s? we never went to no trader joe’s.

(“compton”-kendrick feat. dre)

do you remember our babies that last year we were both in montreal? how you couldn’t just let keyanna cry so you ran to pick her up thirteen seconds after she started? i had her under less than ideal circumstances, and you helped me keep her safe. the twins are ten now, and look so much like their parents, i got a picture last year and meant to send it to you, did i send it to you? i never saw a picture of your new twins, but we did talk about all of the twins that seemed to find us.

(“everything i am”-kanye-sigh, i give up)

2016. it had been a minute. washrooms were a hot topic at that time. you were so relieved to be away from it while you were here. i picked you up and we ate so many seafoods with our hands, and you were there when i kicked my newly finished verse to my favourite poet. you floored me by remembering how i prefer to go through revolving doors-everyone in the same door, bobbing like muppets. i cannot remember a single revolving door in montrill so i don’t know how you even knew that, let alone how you remembered it 9 years later….

(“fireworks”-drake feat. alicia keys)

we went to the conference finals that year. you were here for game 7 vs. indiana, when i cried because we made it out of the first round for the first time since forever. you were still here when kyle hit that halfcourt shot to tie the game and i almost puked in hurricane’s, where they’d already switched some of the screens to the jays’ game because toronto sports fans are like that- hashtag,trust issues.

(“hola’ hovito”-jay-z)

you were there when i went “home” to vancouver before i moved here, back when i was still grasping at that idea of “closure”, when i cut off all my hair and was performing a lot. i was processing and you were in love, travelling to the yukon and shit because, that’s what you did, naturally.

(“the healer”-badu)

i didn’t know that i walked fast until you told me when i last saw you. i don’t think i ever noticed that before. did i walk slower in montreal? probably. i don’t recall you having a problem keeping up.

well, you’re ahead of me now, dear friend. i feel that in a lot of ways, you always have been. lightyears ahead, flying past on your bike. i hope the wind on your face brought you freedom and peace.

i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you i love you.

thank you for loving me and making sure that i felt it.

(“desperado”-rihanna)

grieving on the 29

“querida…querida…querida…i love you so much querida”

she walked onto the bus alone and i knew.

for the past few years (time is a bit of a vacuum in parkdale), i’ve been seeing a lovely couple on the 29 bus. they travel to dufferin mall because the husband has to go to dialysis. the wife is round and bubbly, the consummate caregiver, ever ecstatic to see me. the feeling is mutual.

yesterday, i saw her for the first time in a long time, and her whole aura was different.

“my husband, he die.”

she sat in the seat in front of me, also a change, as they would always take the first blue seats and wave furiously at me, grabbing me for a kiss on the way out, even when the bus was way too crowded. i’ve spoken with bus drivers before about her-she’s everyone’s favourite.

yesterday, i saw what crying looks like when there are no tears left.

yesterday, i cried the tears that had dried up in her ducts.

i am crying as i write this right now.

yesterday, i saw what grieving the loss of the love your life looks like.

“querida…jesu…querida…jesu…querida…”

we held hands on an unseasonably warm november afternoon, crying and expressing our love for each other. i didn’t understand all of the words that she was saying, i never do, but i think we got the important ones.

just like i cannot imagine what it would be like to grieve parents that one loves, i cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a lifelong love, never knowing that kind of love.

increasingly, i’m not convinced that that is necessarily a bad thing.

i wish all of the healing and peace and sanctuary to this woman.

i thank her for the remainder that i still have tears to hold and shed, and we all still have work to do.

parkdale-4

i think we were all a bit tired last night.

we did exercises on character, switching gears from place, and i found it challenging for this reason:

“I think it’s easier for me to write about place than character in this neighbourhood because the hood is a character, and so full of real ones, that it’s hard to imagine one in.

Perhaps I should personify the tamarind balls that I forgot are for sale in that OG general store.”

and, so.

perhaps i was just too full of baked onion rings.

we’ll try again next week.

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.

i guess that light bill had to be paid

“are police supposed to do this?”

after a discussion with someone last week about what we like in porn (and his answer being “amateur” because it was “something real”), i realized that what i like is something with a story-and the more outlandish, the better.

and by that i mean different from the dominant porn narrative, which already exists in a vacuum and is ridiculous. you couldn’t find anyone further away from being turned on by the ol’ no pleasure for women with unrealistic nails who are just passive receptacles until you jizz on their faces-and they love it.

once someone showed me something “with a twist”-for the money shot, all of a sudden, a nectarine was produced to hold the jizz, and then she ate it.

men are so basic.

no, what i’m talking about is a ridiculous scenario that people can still act through, keep the facade alive-i’ll never forget the one i saw about a nude intruder on the premises who was stealing the garbage, so of course, buddy had to go out there, wrestle her out of his recycling bin, and fuck her. yup-it was a human enactment of woman as raccoon.

or the one where three doods were just hanging out on a rooftop with their dicks out as bats, playing baseball-hitting actual baseballs with their fucking dicks. now, correct me if i’m wrong, but them shits is hard. (in this case, the balls and the bats were hard). they did this for a little while, until a woman magically appeared when they needed to sharpen their bats and then they went to town on her on a workout bench. and she was dressed like the mary j. blige what’s the 411 video-with her tits out.

so, for the sake of a story, and an annual check-in with porn, i decided to go looking. what i found was a video called “police brutality” that involved two buxom white female officers busting a scrawny black “perp” for home invasion, and then making him fuck his way to freedom.

now, despite how many problems there are with this premise, and it’s no coincidence that it appears in our current political climate, it’s just pitiful to watch because the poor man looks so forlorn and makes the most furtive eye contact with the camera-knowing that his mama and aunties and younger female cousins will make so much fun of him if ever they saw this, not to mention his boys. it’s really in your face, actors-you give it all away.

but not only is he full out embarrassed, he cannot maintain an erection-i have no idea why, as the more dominant woman is barking at him to be grateful that “this female officer is sucking your big cock” instead of taking him to jail. the poor thing is seated on the floor, sandwiched between the women in very convincing cop uniforms (complete with shoes and holsters) and while the one is kneeling awkwardly to work his flaccid member in her mouth, the other one is straddling his face, first backwards (so she can supervise and yell) and then forward, and while she’s barking the order to “eat my fucking pussy”, i’m worried that his poor little neck will snap.

overall, it’s not sexy, but i’m mesmerized. this is what porn has always been for me-a revealing sociological study. and humans are so fascinating and ridiculous.

i hope at least that this poor man got his light bill paid, because short of losing a bet, i don’t know why he was there, and it didn’t seem like he did either.