Posts tagged with "family"

ecstasy but not happiness

We left on a Thursday, travelling by train with tickets my uncle bought us. My younger self would have enjoyed making a mix to go with the undulating patter of tracks and the passing of seasonal landscapes in my window. I could let songs and albums measure my time spent traveling. Now I measure time in hunger and pills.

Union Station Toronto

But even as I age and the skyline grows less recognizable, the old stomping grounds remain comfortingly familiar. They say everyone’s an exile in New York. Well, in Toronto — where each municipality is a world unto itself, separated by miles of twisting highways and hours of traffic — everybody’s home.

Continue reading “ecstasy but not happiness”…

fall and falling

Darren and I crashed at the same time. It’s like we’re going through this together. I wish I was back in T.O. with him and Chris, cause some of the best conversations of the year happened in that car. We’re all in the same place, all young men on the mend.

I’m very pleased to say that Darren’s now the owner of a wild cherry sunburst Seagull Entourage Mini Jumbo (but with a pick-guard and cutaway). And I’m totally jealous, as I’ve been drooling over pictures of guitar bindings and rosettes myself lately. I had borrowed Jesse’s ginormous1 guitar for a bit, and I felt like I was pinned under a piece of furniture every time I tried playing it. It totally turned me off guitars in general, but as I was walking through the Ottawa Folklore Centre today, I saw a series of much smaller acoustics. I had to keep walking. The last thing I can afford is another hobby and another toy.


Got this shot through the lens of my telescope, which is why you can see the circular outline of the eyepiece. Big enough to make out the geographical features like the Mare Insularum splotch on the top left. Taken when still bright out, but the moon shone bright through the daylight.

I had a decent night of sleep for the first time in far too long, maybe because I’ve written more in the last week than in the three months before that. Strange how clear and calming and inspiring it is to be rested. I still don’t know what I’m feeling though. It’s like I just don’t know what to think anymore.

A ridiculous amount of Starcraft II has been played. ____ and I have even been playing against each other, which is strange for us because neither person wants to beat the other (out of sportsmanship), but neither wants to lose either (out of foolish pride). I was far more dominant in Warcraft 3 because it’s micro driven so we never did 1v1, but Starcraft is macro driven, which ____ is much better at. He’s proven himself to be a very worthy opponent with several good games on me. I’m so glad Blizzard doesn’t record the number of hours played in a person’s profile now.

I want to be in France in this season. My neighbours just came back from Paris and told me it was really foggy. I wouldn’t mind. Really. I’d love to walk down the stony path of rue Saint Vincent — the setting of one of my favourite Yves Montand songs — when it’s covered by a hazy mist and I’m sporting a cozy sweater.

I spend 21 hours of the day in my room, and I’m never bored. I don’t go out of the house for days at at time. I have neither the reason nor the desire to. I think I handle being alone too well.

  1. This word totally didn’t get picked up by spell-check, which means the Firefox dictionary is pretty decent. []

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.

Magneta Lane and my Cousin Darren

There’s been a smattering of good music lately, but this is the song that haunts me; Love and Greed by Magneta Lane. I added it to my collection on the 12th of October, and it’s already in my Top 20 Most Played. By no means is it the best song on the album; it’s just the one that hit me the hardest.

To hear it as a track by itself is a little out of context. It comes as 7 of 10 off Gambling With God, their latest album, and the songs leading up to it charge at a much faster pace. The dramatic change of tone between the verses and the chorus are effective in subtly drawing you in, against lyrics that should be screamed more than anything else.

My favourite part is when Lexi says, “I don’t want recycled love / if I did I’d pour wine in a cup / and get all liquored up / and fucking crawl in front of you” when the guitar and bass stop, and it’s just Nadia doing the bum-ba-da-bum-ba-da-bum-ba-da-bum underneath on her toms.

With the way she says fucking with such saccharine softness, one can’t help but wonder what intense sorrow could have caused this sullen, honeyed voice to spit such profanity.

It’s stuff like this that makes rather plain looking Lexi Valentine so goddam attractive, very much in a Karen O kind of way. I guess you could say I have a fascination with Lexi swearing, because she does it so infrequently.


I gave this song to Darren, and he sent me back this reply:

shit this song is on auto-repeat right now…. ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Darren’s the only person in the world who sees love the way I do. ____ knows me in every other way — logic, mindset, emotion, personality, habits, taste — but he doesn’t understand my love, which is a big part of me. The only one who understands is Darren1 because we share the same quixotic ideas about it. It’s as if we developed this romantic attitude as a backlash to how our fathers (brothers, who also look the same) raised us with such aloofness. This ideal is how we bond.

One time he told me he can’t wait for the day when we’re at his house with our girlfriends, and we’re playing Cranium, and we’re just…happy.

This is how I know he’s the only person who hears this song the same way too.

  1. Not even my girlfriends have come close to understanding, aside from Bronwen. []

A Visit From Big Sister

Sushi with Misun

Misun, aka my big sister, visited from France yesterday. We gorged ourselves on all-you-can-eat sushi, and I let her surprise me by choosing not to know what she ordered for us. Now I wish I had kept note so I could order the same things again.

Sushi with me

It was hard to argue with her about the bill. She kept insisting that she pay because she’s older (from her Korean culture), and I kept insisting that I pay because I’m the host (from my Chinese culture). I even used the argument that if it’s the elder who pays, then she would always be paying. Unfortunately, the hostess took her side and refused my money.

She was only able to stay in Ottawa for the night, but before turning in well beyond our bedtimes, we caught up as people can only do in person. We’d been keeping in touch the whole time we’ve been apart, and now had the chance to fill in the details.

The time I most felt like I knew what it was to have a sister was when we brushed our teeth together in the bathroom. Afterward, we compared grey hair, me laughing at her three strands, as I have a steady diet of salt added to my pepper.

Misun's note

When I woke up, I found this cute note, with our faces (including Dolly’s) drawn on it.