My cousin Chris

I’ve only shared about two con­ver­sa­tions in my life with Chris — the last of which was about sev­en years ago — owing to the fact that we live on oppo­site coasts of the coun­try. But Darren and I rec­og­nized him as one of us: some­one who thinks for him­self and does­n’t buy into the whole Chinese cul­ture unques­tion­ing­ly. This is in con­trast to many of our oth­er cousins, who seem to love their par­ents sim­ply because they were birthed by them, not nec­es­sar­i­ly because their par­ents are good peo­ple.

Chris hap­pened to be pass­ing by for a wed­ding, so I host­ed him for two days. It was inter­est­ing to meet him at this point in our lives. I won­der if I’m actu­al­ly more sim­i­lar to Chris than I am to Darren, main­ly because of how our cre­ativ­i­ty defines us. It was so easy for me to relate and talk to him. And as with Darren, I actu­al­ly felt like Chris was fam­i­ly, clos­er to a broth­er than a cousin, which is all too rare among my blood.

As an indus­tri­al design­er he does amaz­ing draw­ings, full of vibrant colours that pop-off the page. I asked him to draw some­thing on my dry erase board because draw­ing is a cre­ative abil­i­ty not in my pos­ses­sion, and I find the process fas­ci­nat­ing. It was a logis­ti­cal chal­lenge because he would smear his exist­ing work every time he rest­ed his hand on the board for sta­bil­i­ty.

He’s my exact oppo­site when it comes to health. He’s a veg­an, while I’d find it impos­si­ble to give up meat, let alone but­ter and ice cream. He just lit­er­al­ly biked 100km a day across Canada, while my lifestyle could be con­sid­ered seden­tary at best, with only Tai Chi and some mild cal­is­then­ics in my exer­cise rou­tine. And yet we’re the same weight and shape. It’s sort of eerie to see him draw­ing in this video; aside from a short­er hair­cut, it’s almost like I’m watch­ing myself.

The time he spent here passed quick­ly, as I intro­duced him to the ukulele. Aside from catch­ing up and learn­ing about each oth­er, most of the two days were spent exper­i­ment­ing and play­ing togeth­er. Eventually, we went to a music store and bought him his own Mahalo ukulele, which filled my heart with glee. Darren and Jeff are com­ing up for a vis­it next week, and hope­ful­ly Chris will be able to hitch a ride with them for our ukulele band before we all head back to Toronto for Crystal’s wed­ding.


  1. He must have drawn these fig­ures a bunch of times! I nev­er under­stood car­toon­ing draw­ing.… where it comes from inside some­one.… I can only draw what’s in front of me, and not with­out a lot of think­ing and adjust­ing. It’s work for me. Cartoonists have some­thing so whim­si­cal in mind and yet they’re so very exact­ing.

    it is fun­ny how all of my Chinese friends fall into your cat­e­go­ry of “us”-ness. The indi­vid­ual-think­ing ones (per­haps more a west­ern con­cept). I have nev­er stayed friends long with the oth­er Asians who have that direct unques­tion­ing obe­di­ence in their back­ground.

    I’m lob­by­ing for a uke duet!

    • I’m not sure if he prac­ticed, but he did ask him to give him a few min­utes to fig­ure out what he was going to draw, so I don’t think he prac­ticed very much. I can’t even draw what’s in front of me; not only do I lack the dex­ter­i­ty, I’m ter­ri­ble with pro­por­tion and per­spec­tive.

      I’ve been friends with both the unques­tion­ing and ques­tion­ing types, but I def­i­nite­ly feel more kin­ship with the lat­ter, just because I relate more to their sense of iden­ti­ty (or lack there­of).

      • Proportion and per­spec­tive are learned skills — but they’re like cer­tain math class­es.… you may… or may nev­er use them : )

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