A Friendship: An Excerpt

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The first time we truly spoke, we talked about our imminent departures from Toronto. I think that day was the warmest of all days we spent with each other, sun-filled, a surprise. “I’m not here anymore.” “I’m just kidding, I’m here, don’t worry.”

Nearer the end, we hiked to the beach and raced to the waves. The wind seemed to be perpetually against us. I gave up competing, stood with my hair dancing around me, and admired you admiring the horizon. I did not take a picture—but if I could have taken one picture of our three weeks, that would have been the moment. You, the bright gray landscape, your forest green backpack, your figure—solid and easeful—…the beauty of what I saw beyond me.

Later that evening, I sat on your bed, I held a book you loved, you leaned your arms against my crossed legs. You asked me about the boundaries I had asked for; I told you I had grown fond of you. I said our friendship made me happy, and I buried myself in the nook of your shoulder.

The first time I leaned against your shoulder, the back of your sweater was covered in pine leaves of trimmed shrubs. It was sunset. I went home cold, confused. Many times did I feel that way, not during, but after. I cried, I despaired, stone-heavy on the moss yellow carpet of my room. I felt shameful and unprepared. I thought, too soon, not enough, not for me.

But you still listened. And my friends listened. And even in that one late night, when my resentment seeped into every corner of your room, and you told me you were tired, you still kissed me goodbye. And I still sobbed on the way home, but later I tried to make it better, because you had tried to make it better, and my friends reassured me I could make it better.

Giving Life To Life

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Now that some sort of end is approaching, I think—thank you.

To live life, to live life.

When was it, when I began to wake and slip forward into a still-to-be-lost time?

The world forgetting, by the world forgot.

Oh sun, sun shine, sun forward, sun lost.

Tell me how to live a life without pity.

Do you not fear, to be doing the right things wrongly?

Why do I hate myself? The indulgence. The privilege. The privilege of calling myself privileged! The falsity of my indulgence! The inability to be authentic, genuine, as other people! The fallacy of comparing myself to other people! The knowledge that soon I will be not okay! The knowledge that soon I will be okay! Not being satisfied! Feeling bitter and envious about other people! Only being happy through recognition and attention! Pathetic thinking! Pitying and pitiful.

Leave me under the blue sky, I will colour myself.

Pity

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I have spent many lonely hours biking to the Harbourfront and sitting lonely by the half real water, listening to the seagull behind me wailing like a newborn child, pretending the colder wind bothers me not. Stuffing my face with a garlic shrimp rice bowl, or a small organic apple from a Koreatown fruit market, or tasteless cucumber, I supress the thought that there is something or someone waiting for me, edging closer to my periphery like some daytime star. I play it cool, I lean my legs against my bike, I write bubble letters in my notebook, those too-good, overused Yeats lines.

On a crowded Sunday afternoon an East-Asian man asks me if he can take my picture. He’s a banker, but it’s a drab job. I say yes; I position my braid on my right side and look intensely. He shows me the pictures, I’m morbidly disappointed. I look disheveled and the framing too. I grab my notebook, write down my email, and tear a sliver of paper. It’s been a few weeks, still no pictures—he had said he would Photoshop them.

For a while I sat on the water taxi dock. Then it was roped off.

There are so so many dogs by the Harbourfront. They all seem quite well-behaved. I mean, the owners too. I personally don’t mind if they don’t wear masks, as long as they’re not spitting to my face. I don’t wear a mask either. I am usually far from people enough.

One thing is that I am constantly surprised by the dearth of Harbourfront lurkers at night. By 11 PM I can usually get away with dancing to 2.5 songs without any inherently awkward encounters. Is there no better place to dream than the water? To scream? To cry? To wonder, what is beyond, what is beyond me?

Call it bullshit; I call it too.

LAST APRIL IN TO

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Holy moly moly.

Soundscapes closing.

Songs for Antigone: The Kick Inside, Silvery, Mountaineers, Vantablack.

Thinking of saying to goodbye to turquoise bike: impossible.

Have I grown sick of the Thai Red Curry from Thai Basil?

Back to Bangkok Style Pad Thai.

Home-cooked meals soon.

Oh my stomach.

Colanders Art.

Pleasing dream.

LIFE

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This has been a restless week. It will be another restless week. In my restlessness I would like to remind myself of where I was, in a time very near to the present. This was a time I saw no future and did not seek for one. Where I wanted to take one year off and go hide in Northern Canada. Where I simply did not care to make a life of myself.

Somehow, the tides of life have turned things around for me. I got into one law school, the another, then a Masters program. Then I got a scholarship. And I thought—no I am not sure. Then thought—wow, I am beyond excited. But soon after—geez, I am not sure about law and what about the program I am still waiting for? Following a reassuring call with a mentor I affirmed—law and this scholarship is a solid, good path. Yet one day later (today) I am ruminating, stressed—what about US law schools? Will they propel me to spheres of power I cannot imagine?

First, I realize, I must calm myself down. What I am truly stressed about is signing a contract and then backing from it. What I am also stressed about is the stress of delaying decisions, making plans. So then, I am to think—there is no wrong choice. Whichever experience I inhabit, I will make the best of it, and I should also choose the experience where I will be allowed to find time to be my own human too. In life we can go many different paths. But one person, at one moment, can only make one decision. Life splinters into different paths in our mind, but in real life, we walk one path with many offerings. But it is still, one path. To see myself as a high-ranking diplomat—yes. To see myself as a community lawyer—yes. I am all of those right now, I do not know which one I will want to become and so there is no point in worrying about that. I can become a print-maker, a shop-owner, a poet, an English professor. The figs are abundant. The figs will drop, but that does not mean I am paralyzed. Simply that I am lucky and privileged enough to even have the chance to try to taste so many different figs.

Now, time for sleep, my gal.

Love

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In the 21st century, to be in love with another is more necessary than ever. I have tried self-love, self-care, personal development, stress eating, book diving. Nothing, nothing is a better antidote than love between two.

If you can derive your love from familial and platonic love, then I applaud you. But for me, the only sustainable solution is to be completely dependent on another, and to have another completely dependent on me. Every day. Every metaphorical day.

Of course, I would refuse to admit this to, say, my Twitter crowd. But I crave it. It is my deepest secret; I must let it expand.

I look at self-sufficient people around the world and I applaud them. Then I say thank you, when they spit at my feet.

(I cannot be okay. I cannot be okay if I am briefly imagining jumping from my friend’s balcony on Level 46 when we are sharing charcuterie.)

But I was okay when I was in love. I was so okay that I was shaking within myself all the time. Everything falling out of place, falling into place. Everything, finally everything.

So—Yes. When I say I need to be in love I really mean it. But I will refuse you if you are also the type that needs to be in love. I can only pity you from afar, and hold you near my heart.

Sickness

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In my sickness, I see every sign as either a vessel of salvation or destruction. Unable to hold two ideas at once, I either merge with one or wander amongst countless, which is like a cycle, which is like the fog. In my sickness I close the blinds to my window every night, and sometimes afterwards I rip one side open, crane the pane halfway, and stare at the distance between my body and the ground. In the morning I let a big breath out with the wind: it smells unbearably like spring or mass-produced breakfast.

In my sickness, I diagnose my condition as sickness. Every couple of months I add a new characteristic to the consideration. First it was rumination, then sensory-processing sensitivity, the trauma of heartbreak, imbalance of idealism and cynicism, cultural dissonance, self-image, rupture from the cycles of nature, mommy issues…

In my sickness I do not see many things or declarations as authentic. I often assume a position of skepticism, believing that people have a motivating agenda that is unethical or are embedded within a system that is too perverse to generate genuinely ethical sentiments that I can apply to my own living.

In my sickness, I am not always sick. I might not even be sick at all. Who makes the boundary between functionality and dis-functionality? Maybe I’m just normal, a depressed normal, an unstable normal, a mostly fine normal. How am I not, okay?

In my sickness, I am reproachful. I forgive, but failing to forget, and failing to completely forgive, or perhaps forgiving erroneously, blame the mis-forgiven once again. I bless the sun constantly, relieved it has appeared, overwhelmed that it shines, across the entirety of the sky.

In my sickness, a pimple (just red, no whitehead) grows under my eyebrow.

I trim my bangs, enough to still hide the inflammation.

Eh I’ll Just Post It

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That bitch made me cry, but she’s an influencer now. She’s an Amazon Associate who “really tries my best to choose local and small brands, products, and services whenever I can.” She got those weird on-page pop-up ads that manifest with a click. Fuck ads. Fuck shitty workplace environments and government bureaucracy. We all compromised our integrity that summer.

God I Wish I Was

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God I wish I was a graphic designer. Wish I was Angel Chen’s face. Wish I could speak European, bear a sleek tattoo. Wish I had an effortless Twitter that made me seem smart, nice, and not neurotically dependent on validation. Wish all my underwear was sexy, and terribly comfortable. Wish I could hit those high notes and low notes. Wish I had a male specimen that could reciprocate perfectly my need for a specific type of physical affection that requires an emotional understanding built on months of a whirlwind trust. Wish the cafeteria food was less salty and more Chinese. Wish I didn’t inherit my mom’s face pores. Wish I could do with less clothes.

I can do with less clothes.

Picasso

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I came back to Winnipeg on December 13th, and quickly fell into a feverish yearning for my high school crush. On my first night, under two thick blankets and embracing my stuffed dog, I gazed at the streetlamp and black sky and snow-covered road, and felt my past surface as a dark ember. In the weeks prior I had been worried that memories of the summer, afternoons of unspeakable depression, would haunt me stubbornly, but the cold and the changed trees allowed no other season to exist in my consciousness. All I could think about were those freezing evenings with a violin case on my back, the sound of tuning instruments in the basement rehearsal room, and my stupid naïve longing for a boy I had fantasized would kiss me first.

I grabbed my notebook and wrote lines like “In my Winnipeg, the only person who mattered was you,” and “your gaze fell in the air like misunderstanding.” For several brief moments I wanted to call you. I had no fear. I was just curious, curious perhaps about whether you had changed, whether you were still of the temperament to do the things you had done when we knew each other more intimately. I would like to say that on my side I am of changed temperament, that I would no longer read Ezra Pound to a hopeful someone by the river, foolish and nervous, but of course I still would, flowing river or frozen.

The heat of the emotion left me some days later and I started to meld into other, more recent emotions. At some point I dug up my old notebook and I found a poem (a dual poem, the only one of such I’ve written thus far) about a visit to the Art Gallery. It was the year of the Picasso exhibition, the summer where my skin was tanned to a shade my mom scorned at, the time I still believed you could like me. What I didn’t understand then was that even if you did, it would not count for much, not in the way I wanted and deserved. I would look at you looking at a woman of cubes; I do not remember suspecting you would ever look back at me.