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-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.

salman said-toronto reference library

this magical night, i met two 80+ versions of myself, one of whom, once shown the shallot that i had in my pocket to give to salman rushdie, grabbed me by the scruff of my neck like a mama cat in a peach blazer with shoulder pads and thrust me at him yelling, “this young lady has something to give you!”. here are some quotes from the evening:

“now i have the story too-the time a girl wanted to give me an onion.”

“libraries are a good substitute for school”

“and like the internet likes to tell me, it doesn’t work if it’s a leap year. there’s no fucking leap year.”

“monotheistic gods, unfortunately, get virtuous, and that’s not very interesting-they’re like people, how many virtuous people do you like?”

“a lot. i’m glad you brought up that point. there’s not much else to do in fairyland but have lots and lots of sex-they don’t have books or movies, and that’s part of why they like to meddle in human affairs-we do all of these other things, and most of us don’t have very much sex at all.”

“i like the idea of talking about dreadful things, amusingly.”

“hollywood attacks new york every summer, people say it’s los angeles’ way of showing that it cares.”

“i’m sorry about the staten island ferry-no, i’m not”

“cambridge, england, the real cambridge”

“when you become a writer, the things that people like about your writing are the things that people don’t like about your writing”

bb: “donald trump wants to build a wall between the US and mexico..” sr: “who’s going to build it?” (chuckles)

“history doesn’t go on tram lines-it’s not inevitable”

“when i was studying history, i was told very wisely, not to speculate about the future”

“christopher sometimes referred to himself in the third person…as ‘the hitch'”

“i called him a pussy” bb: “do you regret that?” sr: “no. these people were executed for drawing pictures-too many of my friends were on the wrong side of history”

“the only reason you’re dying it’s him because he’s described as having big ears. the frank sinatra thing came up because i turned off the sound during a debate and mccain was like this little red man strutting about (pantomimes) and obama was so smooth, so comfortable in his body, and i thought, i like that guy.”

“thanks for giving away the ending”

“they wanted me to audition to be bette midler’s gynecologist-and i thought that was irresistible”

“gynecologist, not scientologist”

“i do shoot my mouth off about saudi arabia as much as i can-ask anyone”

“i have a longing for the day that nobody asks me that question-someone tried to kill me, one of us is dead”

“the reception of midnight’s children in india was so much more important to me than winning the booker prize”

“nobody gets everyone-that’s why there are a lot of writers”

and, so. the dividends of being adored by librarians continue to pay off. to everyone who i invited that couldn’t make it-i’m sorry, the loss was all yours.

david suzuki at the toronto public library

“in the past, when i went on a book tour-i’d use the book as an excuse to give a speech on the environment.”

“i’m tired of fighting-we need to get together and talk, because if we can’t agree on what’s important, we will lose every time.”

as i was leaving work today, a woman with obvious mental health issues came into the store. she has been banned, and as no higher management was in the store, i took it upon myself to let her know that she was not welcome (i have already had to ask her to leave on many occasions-for stealing, for yelling homophobic terrorism, just for blocking peoples’ way with her effects) and she flipped out on me-she yelled at me that i was harassing her, that i was off my meds, that my “fucked up eyes” should not look at her, and when i told her that i was calling the police, she went to my co-workers and told them that they shouldn’t hire “temporary foreign workers” and that she was going to call immigration to deport me.

i’m a canadian citizen. but i happen to be one that works in the whitest rich neighbourhood in the city that is gentrifying too rapidly for its britches. i know that mentally ill folk are being squeezed out of their sausage wrappings, but is this lateral violence necessary or excusable?

if nothing else, my young white co-workers got a glimpse of what may happen at any moment in my skin, and i only wish their outrage could translate not only to the huge outbursts, but also to the microagressions that happen regularly. but how can they? i am not perfect, and i do harbour feelings of rage against those who have systemic and overarching power-whether or not they cash in on it. i acknowledge this, but do not apologize for it, because it is real.

i bought myself a purdy’s ice cream bar and went into david suzuki’s most inspiring talk at the reference library. i was in a privileged position there, as i was invited by a committee member and saw the poor folks who had been in line for hours scramble for better seats. i met a kindred spirit, and was moved by much of david’s talk-including the beauty-full and heart-breaking history of immigrants in this country who arrived here without their grandparents-so they arrived with “the shallowest roots in the old country and none at all in the new”. how people can be lost in just two generations with no language, culture, or geographical connection. how we choose who to remember and credit, and who gets lost in the shuffle? how he had to skip part of the description of his mother because he couldn’t read it without crying-that for me is enough to put it on my list.

the quote off the top shouldn’t have been made in the past tense, as much of his political agenda made it to the forefront of his talk, but at this point-how can that be separated from who he really is? i don’t think he can.

as i go through my own ongoing struggles and triumphs with relationships, the final food for thought of the night was when he described how the ones that “vanish from our consciousness” are “heroic in their humanity”, and i think that right there describes my mission in life.

i left inspired and clear and great-full, and i will leave all of the bad feelings of the earlier confrontation with this sign off.

goodnight.

psych-i will really leave it with the surprise tweeting of a line from my poem that was published in the first edition of the generations literary journal years ago.

that was amazing.

every day is metrotextual church

“if someone would’ve told me that bestiality was illegal, i wouldn’t have worked so hard on that story”

that was just one of the highlights of the miranda july talk at the reference library on thursday. having just watched the future a few weeks back, i didn’t know that she had a novel out, and i’ve got it chooses you, which i may or may not have already seen, fresh on my shelf from the library.

i went to iyengar class today for the second week in a row, and finally made it to the ago for the first time as a member. i fell upon a fresh video project that i wasn’t expecting, courtesy of the mammalian diving reflex and i urge everyone to see it if they can. the last thing that i thought i would see today was a bunch of high school kids asking dan hill if he can still get it up, or atom egoyan telling a story about humping an inflatable chair as a youth.

i’m currently finishing a very dark and riveting film, big fan (dir. robert siegel) and falling a bit more in love with patton oswalt. i came up with an idea for a new tattoo, we saw more of the itinerary, and samurai bambi called me “aunty” yesterday. i’m burning tibetan temple and frankincense because it’s sunday, and have poured rosemary essential oil into the holes in my desk, and found a new milk tea spot. i’m going to spend the rest of this superbowl sunday not caring about football, and thinking on the magnitude of wilt chamberlain‘s numbers (shootout to duolingo once again for the knowledge in translation).

life is good.

the central park five

this also came from that fruit-full trip to the fort york branch a few weeks ago. i may be mistaken, but i believe that there was an episode of ny undercover that attempted to deal with this-damn you music royalties-we need to be able to watch that show on dvd already (on a related note, i just picked up all the episodes of my so-called life from the annette st. branch, guess it will have to tide me over until i get season 2 of homeland). what i appreciate most about this power-full expose of the criminal justice system, and the parable that we have yet to learn from (see the secret trial 5 for a contemporary and ongoing example (many thoughts and prayers to the markat family)-is the wrap-up with the men about the process of making and touring the film. the blatant disregard of the need for mental health accommodations and re-entry techniques and an apology for wrongful conviction, media slander, and the loss of their youth to long prison sentences is shameful, but the choice to keep not learning-that’s almost more criminal. the fact that it took the rapist speaking up on behalf of the children he let take the rap for many years before speaks volumes on how disposable some people are, and how imbedded that fact is in our institutions and government. the fact that these men choose not to be bitter and angry, and see the sharing of their story as the therapy they were never allowed to consider is inspiring and humbling. hashtag, these are our heroes.