seventy bucks (bag check)

so here’s the thing-i like to spend money. i’ve been debt-free for over two years now, always pay off my monthly balance, and earn an honest living. i also support artists, make donations to the library and worthy causes, and generally share liberally.

that being said, i’m sure that i could’ve spent some of my retail therapy on therapy therapy, but everyone self-medicates, right?

i worked a weird split shift today so that i wouldn’t have to go in on my day off tomorrow, and in between, i went up to nations. i wasn’t ready for the sensory overload, but how does one get ready for that?

i completely zoned out and rolled my cart through the aisles, grabbing ingredients to make every vietnamese dessert i know how to make.

here’s what $70 got me from nations:

-one sachet of dried guyabano
-one sachet of green tapioca pearls
-one sachet of dried phillippine mangoes
-one sleeve of glutinous rice pastry
-one pack of mung bean vermicelli
-one large chunk of pumpkin
-one generous bag of pea tips
-5 pack of sesame instant noodles
-one japanese matcha cake
-one bag of persimmons
-three purple sweet potatoes
-one sleeve of duck egg and lotus pastry
-one pack of frozen durian
-one pack of rice paper rolls
-one rum raisin and hazelnut ritter sport chocolate bar
-one bottle hoisin sauce
-one bottle of sesame oil
-one pack of bamboo shoots
-one can of bananas in syrup
-one can of grass jelly
-one can of nata de coco
-one can of palm seed

a few weeks ago, i blinked at sephora at sherway gardens and spent $70 on 8 mini lipsticks by kat von d.

i am living my best life, y’all.

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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-five

though heavily carb-motivated, i felt much better about my efficiency last evening.

i let off some steam with a rant about pronunciation choices, and learned a lot through the group share about things going on in the city and things going on in brains. here are some lovely things to think further on:

“vampirate”
second-hand pens
nominating monsters

our prompts came out of books that were based in parkdale (what a great idea) and the ink flowed freely.

this is from our last exercise of the night-the personification of the neighborhood, which is the perfect merging of writing characters and writing the city as a character. here it is, with some flash morning edits:

Pro-noun

They’re not subtle, that’s for sure. But they’re definitely a they: non-conforming to gender, class, race or mass. Perfect in their imperfections, hypocritical in their contradictions, they’re never fully gentrified-with a smile. They never fit in, and therefore fit in perfectly. Their personalities, schedules, alternative professions, ducks-cannot be fully explained but somehow make sense within the borders of the neighbourhood, like those giant stuffed tigers at The Ex. It’s all fun and games until you have to wrassle it onto a crowded express bus to Dundas West station. Are they done counting how many days it’s been since last sugar was tasted? When did they alter the Elm Grove bus stop to read “Elmo Grover”? Do people who are assigned to recruit there as Witnesses actually fear being invited into their homes? Their mounting beef with the police includes the oversight of the bylaw that states that you must clean up after your pet, as horses casually trot and drop mementos one tonne at a time on the residential street west of busy Dufferin. It’s a good thing they move slowly enough to receive the clear disapproval, straight through the eyes.

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.

parkdale inspires-day two (the dog)

last night, our lovely little parkdale-loving writing group met for the second time, up a few members.

i didn’t come out of the session with as many gems, though my comment of “i didn’t get much further than ‘defiant ducks'” garnered the response “that’s going to be my next album title” from the person who also said, “i’ve got some nonsense”. so.

one of the new members introduced herself by stating: “my last poem was about a cat…who looks like he’s wearing a tuxedo!”, which is charming as all fuck.

anyway, here’s the takeaway (after a quick morning edit):

i walk down the steps of death into the day. on my way to the bus stop, my eyes automatically scan the abandoned and overgrown lot to focus on that guy who sometimes slips behind the fence to just sit there. we wave and say hi, never talking about the dog that’s always with him, even though it’s always a different dog.

no momos yet, tito ness-i can’t force it. but six more weeks for the planted seed to come to fruition….

dear parkdale…

i am so excited that i signed up for the writing workshop at my library that started last wednesday.

i am always up for quick, prompt-based writing with strangers, and i learned some new (to me) rules about haiku. i only knew 5-7-5, i didn’t know that they cannot be a simile or metaphor, and that they must involve nature. huh.

here are the somes that i wrote about the neighbourhood:

my sketchy solace
colour me falling in love
cold sanctuary

teeny bachelor
with high ceilings was perfect
no things after fleas

autumn leaves fall in
perfect light in the front room
worshipping sunday

quick circle of life
senior cat slayed baby mouse
and then her mother

and some non-sestina/sestinas:

seeking sanctuary in the city,
all i found was fleas
ignored red flags and sketchy landlords
cautious of falling again
missing the solace for the trees
that first year, my gratitude
was as frozen as the olive oil, -25degrees

there’s room for everyone
as far as our minds can reach
the streetcar arrives
and people cram into the first two feet
different languages, different destinations, different hygiene
but everyone gets to where they’re going, even the fleas.

i did throw the whole thing by contributing “fleas” as my word to the soup, but people really ran with it. shoutout to lindsay and the love lettering project, this was a lot of fun-see you next week!