Posts tagged with "Darren"

I'm happy to report that my blood does clot

The best time of the year to make the dri­ve to Darren’s house is in the Autumn. It’s about five hours door-to-door — bar­ring any traf­fic or con­struc­tion — so there’s a good chance I’ll catch a sun­rise or sun­set no mat­ter when I leave. It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly beau­ti­ful when the leaves are chang­ing and the colours are at their rich­est along the stretch­es of the 401.

Sometimes I’ll turn on a stand-up com­e­dy sta­tion instead of music, and it helps take my mind off the drea­ri­ness of the less scenic parts1. It’s like hav­ing anoth­er per­son to talk to, except the con­ver­sa­tion goes one way, and they tend to be fun­ny when not over­ly polit­i­cal2 or Andrew Dice Clay.

Chinese dishes

Zhaliang and clas­sic Cantonese noo­dles. #thingsI­couldeat­ev­ery­day

I still think of mov­ing back to Toronto, where there’s every­thing that isn’t avail­able to me in Ottawa. But I hate all the things that come with such an unwieldy and poor­ly amal­ga­mat­ed city. At my age, I val­ue com­fort over excite­ment, and Toronto has become a city that’s bet­ter to vis­it than to stay.

After meet­ing Mike in London, I knew that’s where I was meant to live, with Bloc Party and Monty Python and The Underground and rainy weath­er and Portishead and a bil­lion accents and Only Fools and Horses and that sto­ic British men­tal­i­ty and Paris just a train ride away. But that wasn’t my fate, and the dirty streets of Toronto are the clos­est I’ll ever get to that.

Continue read­ing “I’m hap­py to report that my blood does clot”…

  1. Usually the small towns with no charm or per­son­al­i­ty. []
  2. Cause I nev­er get it. []

round my hometown memories are fresh

It’s good to be home.

By the end of my jour­ney, I start­ed long­ing for the com­fort of my house and slip­pers, as I imag­ined being splayed out on the couch, watch­ing a movie with a bowl of ice cream in my hands. It’s been more than a week since I’ve been back, and I’ve yet to do this. It’s hard to pull myself out of the old habit of being pro­duc­tive. Sometimes I need to be wait­ing at a ter­mi­nal in New York with a three-hour lay­over to be able to sit down and enjoy a film.1

large bud

It’s dan­ger­ous to go alone! Take this.

At the same time, I’ve nev­er been more indul­gent, my lat­est vice being those bags of York Peppermint Patties. I fig­ured out that life is too short and I should be enjoy­ing myself when I was sip­ping café allongé on a patio with Karin on a beau­ti­ful Paris day, and I could final­ly appre­ci­ate this fact when talk­ing to Dennis over our lager on an Edinburgh afternoon.

This is prob­a­bly why I don’t feel over­stim­u­lat­ed, even though I’ve been going full-tilt for the last two months. Darren came over as part of his sab­bat­i­cal, and we did the things I rarely find an excuse to do myself, like going shoe shop­ping or order­ing sushi. Last week I staked him $20 and watched him win $600 when he hit his num­ber at the roulette table, five min­utes after we stepped in the casi­no. He gave me back a per­cent­age of my win­nings, and he spent the night play­ing black­jack while I bet on the elec­tron­ic hors­es. We didn’t end up win­ning much after that, but we both left up.

Lisa even took us danc­ing2, where I learned that the entire appeal of strobe lights is their abil­i­ty to make every­thing look like a Michael Bay movie filmed in 24p. It turns out this is also a great way to do some peo­ple-watch­ing, although you start to get depressed when you see a pair of kids from their respec­tive groups pick­ing a fight with each oth­er cause they’re drunk, then mak­ing up and play­ing grab-ass on the dance floor. Ironically, I end­ed up being the one sober enough to dri­ve home.

sushi platters

From left to right: Yummy roll (deep fried crab, avo­ca­do, salmon, white fish — served warm), spicy salmon piz­za, eel spe­cial roll, green drag­on roll (avo­ca­do on tem­pu­ra shrimp and cucum­ber), shrimp tem­pu­ra roll, and Philadelphia roll.

Last time I checked, there were over 5000 unread items in my feed read­er, and tweets from over a week ago in my Twitter time­line. It’s strange to be so dis­con­nect­ed from life as I knew it. I haven’t writ­ten any­thing in as long either, which is a very long time for me. I con­sid­ered delet­ing this blog, then tak­ing a month off instead, then decid­ed I’d write when I felt like it. The thing is, I always feel like writ­ing, but late­ly this urge has giv­en way to being pro­duc­tive in oth­er ways or hav­ing fun. It’s like I’m final­ly on the Taoist path, dis­cov­er­ing that my trip has changed me more than I first thought.

  1. I end­ed up watch­ing sev­en on my trav­els, which is prob­a­bly more than all of last year):
    • Sunshine — good as long as you can get over one real­ly big, real­ly stu­pid plot ele­ment. Which I couldn’t, so on the whole this movie sucked, even though it had some of the best direct­ing I’ve ever seen in my life.
    • Network — Unbelievably ahead of it’s time in terms of media commentary
    • The Last Picture Show — a great com­ing-of-age movie direct­ed by that guy who played Dr. Melfi’s psy­chi­a­trist on the Sopranos, and Cybill Shepherd in her debut role
    • Ladder 49 — I don’t trust Pat’s taste in movies anymore
    • Kung Fu Panda — they were pret­ty good at the Chinese details
    • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — a fun movie over­all, the best part being that it’s set in Toronto. Also, very dis­ap­point­ed at how much of a sell­out Bryan Lee O’Malley is for chang­ing the end­ing based on audi­ence reac­tions at test screenings
    • To Kill a Mockingbird — I want­ed to be a lawyer after see­ing this

    []

  2. Which for me is pret­ty much just sway­ing back and forth while being mes­mer­ized by the gui­tar play­ers. []

short exile on a long weekend

When you no longer work in an office, some­times you don’t find out it’s a long week­end until the Friday of. My friends have also replaced their rit­u­al bar­be­cues with babies and play dates, so no invi­ta­tions were sent out that may have noti­fied me of the holiday.

Toronto Lake Shore

A qui­et moment among vol­ley­ball tour­na­ments and beach goers in a calm area of the Lake Shore.

I want­ed to get away cause I’ve been dread­ing any time alone. Loneliness hits me hard­est when I’m sit­ting at home won­der­ing what every­one else is doing. A road trip to Toronto was the best way I could avoid that. Unfortunately, the only peo­ple I can drop in on with such short notice hap­pen to be five hun­dred kilo­me­tres away.

The truth is I nev­er watch sun­sets any­more. I’m usu­al­ly too caught up in my projects cause I’m wor­ried about being left with noth­ing but the thoughts I’ve try­ing to put in the back of my head. That’s why I don’t mind the five-hour dri­ve at this time of year; it gives me an excuse to see what I nev­er make time to do. When I leave at a quar­ter to sev­en, I hit the rich­est1 part of the sun­set halfway through the 401. For a glo­ri­ous stretch, there’s noth­ing con­crete curves and crim­son colours bleed­ing through the trees.

CN Tower sushi

The “CN Tower” sushi plat­ter, with tem­pu­ra obser­va­tion deck.

All I want­ed was a quite time with the right com­pa­ny, no heavy plans or per­son­al­i­ties. I’d be kick­ing myself for all the shots I missed cause I was too com­fort­able to pull out my cam­era, but I know that’s what those moments are about.

To lose your­self in the haze and sum­mer heat final­ly upon us is to live like a child again with­out a wor­ry or thought of any­thing beyond the next five min­utes. Regression is embrac­ing the itchy sweat break­ing out on your face, as your fin­ger­tips mash the ice into slush in a white cream soda freezie.

grocery store

Feeling lit, feel­ing light,
2 a.m., sum­mer night.

I’m always fight­ing exhaus­tion on these trips cause I don’t get enough sleep. There’s too much to do. It’s a test of con­sti­tu­tion to be dri­ving in the dark­ness and city lights, won­der­ing if I’m too tired to be dri­ving, let alone nav­i­gat­ing the infu­ri­at­ing con­struc­tion and traf­fic of down­town Toronto. When I sur­vive anoth­er day, it’s a reminder that not every­thing has to be per­fect, that the world still turns no mat­ter the state of my heart or mind.

Over a par­tic­u­lar­ly heavy blend, I was asked what it would take for me to go all out, to say fuck it and lose con­trol. It made me real­ize I’m already there, sid­ing with indul­gence over mod­er­a­tion, try­ing to break myself down so I can rebuild myself again. That’s why I always lose myself on those warm sum­mer nights, when I tell myself I’ll be in bed by 10 every night, but the com­pa­ny keeps me up till 3.

cat and human

Dexter is now too fat and lazy to fight off my cud­dly advances.

I have such a mixed past with Toronto. It was such a chaot­ic time in my life when I lived there. I was crip­pling­ly unde­vel­oped, but that also meant I still had the inno­cence none of us ever return to once we hit adult­hood. Much like those mem­o­ries, this city will always be a part of me.

Now I’m back in Ottawa, returned to the lit­tle things that make it home like a famil­iar pil­low and a cat’s par­tic­u­lar purr. In my case, the exile is always self-imposed, a con­trolled escape, and I always won­der if any­one would care or miss me if I nev­er came back.

  1. The time when it just starts to get dark, a bal­ance between the rich colours and bril­liance of light, since they both com­pose. []

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.