Friday, August 29, 2008

mommy, what does "awkward" mean?

i'm in quebec city. with my (conservative) parents. during gay pride weekend.

this is going to be good.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

even my chubby cheeks, crooked teeth, and the chinese can't stop my stardom now

and for tonight....Whitby!

my band Hamilton Trading Company is playing tonight at Johnny B's in Whitby, hosted by some radio station or another (i still don't know area stations). at least this is what i assume. i can't find any actual information on it on the website...the closest thing i've found was August 22's show featuring THC. that is probably not us. still, our show exists and you should come check it out.

how i learned to love patsy cline (even more)

i spent the weekend at a friend’s cottage on Pike Lake, near Perth. see, i don’t have my own cottage, so i’m that jerk that mooches off her friends in exchange for….my awesome company. this weekend it was a gathering of some of my best friends from high school, with whom we’ve managed to stay in touch over the years. it’s always a great time, as you can only have after over ten years of putting up with each other.

we like to pretend that we’ve stayed the same and nothing’s changed, which is partly true and partly false. it’s kind of hard to ignore the fact that EVERYONE at the cottage was now either a med student, a law student, or a pharmacy student. we also can’t stay up all night anymore and take more naps because we get tired. on the other hand, we are all still the same selves deep down inside, fun loving, silly, bafflingly unmarried, alarmingly nerdy and with the maturity of a thirteen year old when immersed in water (or beer).

this time we all seemed to bring our instruments so with a total of four guitars and two banjos at the cottage we got some great jamming in all weekend.

rob and i took a drive into perth on Saturday because he was craving roadside chip wagon poutine, and i suddenly had this moment. i was sitting at the picnic table waiting for the dude to finish up with the gravy. the highway road was nearly abandoned and everything was calm and still, with no sounds but a quiet staticky radio playing Johnny Cash. off to the side there was a flea market going on with folks selling crafts and fruits but there were no customers just then, just a big sign that said FLEE MARKT.

everything was so serene, and i was suddenly struck with this feeling, “so this is the country.” all of a sudden i understood all those country western songs about lovin’ Texas and wanting to go back home to the simple life at the farm. all this time i’ve only seen the bad side, seeing “country life” as synonymous with redneck ignorance or stubborn racism, which is still very true in many parts. all the horrible racist attitudes, and jim crowe atrocities that happened deep south was a result of southern white folks not knowing how to cope with this forced change in their simple lifestyle and paradigm, and so reacting with hostility to this abrupt interruption. but i suppose if you somehow overcome the obstacle of the fact that you will not be immersed in the diversity of humanity (or any kind of crowd at all really) but need to be open-minded anyway, there is much to be learned from just sitting back and enjoying the quiet slow pace. it was almost a Buddhist zen-like moment of peace, and for the first time in my life i saw the attraction of buying a house way out in the sticks.

i probably won’t do that. but maybe i’ll be the first asian to buy a cottage. maybe. or maybe i'll just keep showing up at yours.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

o canada

i was lost in the lakes
and the shapes that your body makes

the mountains said i could find you here
they whispered the snow and the leaves in my ear
i traced my finger along your trails
your body was the map, i was lost in it

floating over your rocky spine
the glaciers made you, and now you're mine

i was moving across your frozen veneer
the sky was dark but you were clear
could you feel my footsteps
and would you shatter, would you shatter, would you

and with your soft fingers between my claws
like purity against resolve
i could tell, then and there, that we were formed from the clay
and came from the rocks for the earth to display

they told me to be careful up there
where the wind blows a venomous rage through your hair
they told me to be careful up there
where the wind rages through your hair

-Great Lake Swimmers

i’m looking forward to heading out for Alan’s cottage at Pike Lake this weekend. old friends from high school, plus rob and i are packing a plethora of country instruments in the car (instead of a cooler…this is probably not as smart as we think). it’s going to be a guaranteed good time.

lost in the lakes and the shapes that your body makes

i’m not sure when my next chance will be to go to Northern Ontario. it’s not cheap. it’s not close. and there are no Koreans there. but it sure is gorgeous, not necessarily due to the lack of koreans.

to get to Chapleau, i flew into Timmons. all i know about Timmons is that Shania Twain is from there. I know this, because there are like a dozen signs that inform you about this as soon as you get into Timmons (“Welcome to Timmons, Home of Shania Twain.” “Make sure you visit the Shania Twain Centre!” “You are leaving Timmons, Home of Shania Twain.” “Shania Twain!”). they also have a new WalMart that they are very proud of.

Chapleau was several hours outside of Shania Twainville. it has a population of just over 3000.

interesting fact: i asked folks if there was a Tim Hortons in Chapleau. they told me that they had considered it at a town meeting but voted against it. this floored me – and then filled me with appreciation for their gutsy move. but they do have a Chinese restaurant that doubles as a sports bar and the coolest hang-out spot in town.

my favourite hang out spot though was the hotel room. because i had a freakin’ Jacuzzi next to my bed!

Chapleau is home to the largest crown game preserve in the world. i spent most of my time exploring this game preserve, racing around Missinaibi Lake on a motorboat. i spent so much time outside on the motorboat, i got a windburn. my life is pretty hard you know.

we met a camper who told us about an old gravesite located near an abandoned Hudson Bay Company post. we got the GPS coordinates off of her and went in search for this site. it took us through shallow waters where we had to lift the motor out of the water and use a paddle to guide the boat along so we wouldn’t get grounded, but eventually we got to the marker. and so did a bear.

so we decided not to visit the gravesite because we didn’t want to disturb the bear paying his respects.

we did find some old pictographs that some Aboriginal people painted centuries ago while in their canoes. that was pretty amazing, and maybe better than the gravesite anyway. maybe.

at any rate i’m not going to complain. there’s something daunting that fills your soul with awe when you are immersed in the precious Canadian wilderness. i think that is what has made my summer so amazing this year. pretty much every weekend i’ve been escaping the city to hide in the bush. we really do live in a beautiful country, and most of us don’t even realize it, since we spend all our time gazing at the ads on the TTC and pounding our feet on the concrete sidewalks in time with the rest of the Monday morning crowd. of course, downtown Toronto doesn’t seem to have mosquitos.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

long weekend at shady acres

my long weekend at Shady Acres was one of those things that have made my summer simply amazing. of course, to get there, i had to take a car, a plane, a bus and a subway and a streetcar to get into Toronto from Northern Ontario, and then a subway, a train, a bus, and a car to get to Stony Lake where the cottage was, so i was essentially on the road from 7AM to 9PM. but sometimes these things need to get done.

the cottage was located at Stony Lake, very close to Peterborough.

it was my good friend Steve Eccles' 32nd birthday that weekend, so he decided to celebrate it in style - by inviting some thirty of his closest friends to indulge in a three-day long party. it was a pretty crazy time, and even though i didn't know a lot of the people there, you get to know people pretty quickly when you spend three nights in close cramped sweaty communal quarters with the same folks, patiently waiting for the outhouse, sneakily stealing their mustard, going on canoe trips with them, crawling into a bed with them because that's the only spot left, not showering....

saturday night i made the discovery that sleeping arrangements were rather like a grown up version of Musical Chairs. the last one to pass out will inevitably run out of places to sleep (especially when there are some thirty people there). i tried sharing the sofa bed with two other people, but that was uncomfortable on several levels, so i in my brilliance decided that it would be a good plan to go sleep outside in the hammock and watch the sun rise. the outdoors was infinitely more spacious than squeezing three in a bed, and so much more quieter, so it was a pretty incredible "night" (i didn't actually sleep, and it was dawn). however, i soon learned that sleeping in a hammock really messes your back up, so i learned my lesson and slept the next night in a proper bedroom, listening to corey snore.

i was impressed at how well other people were eating. they were cooking pasta sauces, pepper salads, baked sugared apples, and baked potatoes. i on the other hand, ate three gross sausages and two awesome bowls of ramen noodles the entire weekend. oh, and a lot of breakfast beer. it was not my healthiest moments, but my manservant Carlos was playing hooky and i had no one to cook for me.

this was the coolest polish guy at the cottage. i have empirically determined that he is far cooler than Paul or Luke.

lesson learned: if you want to avoid bug bites, hang around people who are more prone to bug bites than you. then the bugs will go to them instead of you. i love jeanette.

many nights were spent, sitting on this dock, staring up at the clear night sky of stars, playing banjo while trying to sing HTC songs. it was pretty friggin' sweet.