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

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  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.