Saturday, December 30, 2006

6 a.m. Iraqi time

Saddam Hussein has been executed. The symbolic gesture is done.

He was apparently scheduled for another trial on January 8 for the killing of tens of thousands of Kurds in the '80s. Guess that won't be happening -- he was probably looking forward to it, considering the ... um ... circumstances.

Here's a fascinating story in the NY Times on the resting places of other notorious 20th-century dictators.

While the LA Times is the first to analyze how his death will affect the current situation in Iraq. (*Hint: The headline reads, "Impact of Hussein's death likely to be limited: The execution only underscores lingering divisions in Iraq.")

Hussein's death didn't nearly bring the same kind of satisfaction for me than when his sons, Uday and Qusay, were killed over three years ago. I was originally introduced to this progenic pair in -- of all places -- a Maxim article (no longer available online) way before the American-led invasion. It was a highly in-depth profile on the two sociopaths with extensive interviews weaved into a literary style. I remember being quite impressed at the time.

Anyway, I don't know what the point of this post is, but yes. Political nepotism. Everywhere. Baaaaaad!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Message from my babymaker

MArt takes a picture on his hometown beach
Nova Scotia (24/12/06)

Unsolicited Advice, Pt. 2

Relationships are terribly paradoxical. Unlike other activities such as riding a bicycle or practicing tennis, being in more relationships seems to lessen proficiency. It's like starting a fresh instrument every couple of weeks: Though you may possess skills that will come in handy, you are ultimately playing something entirely new every single time. Having played 10 (or 2 or 22) instruments will not make you an expert at one. For the past week or so, I've been holding a handful of informal seminars for women lately. (Alright, a bunch of my sister's 14-year-old friends, my own girlfriends, and my mother's employees.) These lectures center around my three-tiered system of evaluating romantic prospects. The concept developed as a way to give advice in shorthand by replacing entire ideas with the numbers 1, 2, and 3:

LEVEL 3
Obvious disinterest exhibited by both parties. Minimum confusion. Predictable behaviour, low. Applicable to strangers and acquaintances.

LEVEL 2
Slight interest exhibited by one or both parties (though, usually only one). Observed behaviours are more predictable, generally because one party exerts greater effort to be noticed. Maximum confusion. Failure inevitable. Applicable to both the courtship stage and coupled equivalent.

LEVEL 1
High interest exhibited by both parties. Minimum confusion. Predictable behaviour, very high. Applicable to friends and couples.

(Before I begin to explain this wild musing of mine, I just want to explain that I will be using gender definers simply for clarity's sake. Switch and substitute as you see fit.)

MArt and I observed that women tend to want to believe they have choice, while men tend to think they can convince women to choose them. Both signify the need for power. Furthermore, I had also noticed that all my girlfriends wish they were in relationships, but have yet to be successful. Using the earlier observation as a jump-off point, I realized the secret to landing a man is to -- surprise! -- stop excusing his crap.

What sort of crap am I talking about? Please, gather 'round:

Behaviour #1: He's taking every opportunity to touch and talk to you. Ooh la la! And what do you do when he drags you onto his lap? You sit on it, of course, giddy from all the attention.

Explained: Basically, without doing much at all, he's gauged your interest and publicized it to discourage competitors. Hooray! With a few strategic maneuvers -- contacting you spontaneously, sweet talking you without making immediate plans, being just friendly enough to avoid your asshole detector -- your mind has been monopolized. (Hopefully, for a long time.) Congratulations! He just caught himself a reliable source of willing booty.

Behaviour #2: He seems to be having fun when you're together. You like him, he appears to like you. Someone makes a move (fake left, shoot right) and frees the arrangement from the platonic. Choo choo! All aboard the sexy train! Then suddenly, he stops calling. Oh shit, what did you do wrong?

Explained: Nothing. It's not like you surprised him with your dick up his ass. (Props for trying though.) What's there to apologize? If he refuses to discuss whatever you did to offend him (or made his interest flounder), he just wasn't into you enough to give you another chance and felt he could do better. Next.

Behaviour #3: *Fill in your own personal adventure*

Explained: If he thinks you're long-term material, you'll know from the get-go. He'll adapt to your behaviour whether or not it's considered typical for you. So you try something new and rape him on the first date. He may think you're easy, but he's too enamoured to care (or judge). So you keep your legs closed and make him wait. He's grateful you're still sticking around. The futility of guessing games is understood: Information is divulged voluntarily and dialogue is encouraged.

When women think they know what men want and act accordingly, they discredit the opposite sex as equally complex individuals. (Fuck, I'm starting to sound like a bad self-help guru.) How MArt puts it is if women want real choice -- i.e., the power to accept or reject *cough* an adoring mass of admirers -- they have to set higher standards all round. Don't pile every man giving you dirty winks into the same category (don't flatter yourself, they don't all feel the same way). Go and have a life beyond finding a mate. Cultivate a passion for a hobby. If you stop responding to every pass and advance men make your way, the womanizers will move on, exposing the serious ones. You'll find yourself in a position of dominance without even trying. What's that old adage? That the one thing women hate more than being checked out is not being checked out? No wonder some women are messed up -- nothing could possibly satiate such fragile egos. I mean, think about it: In the end, with all these unresolved insecurities, would you want to be attached to you?

Unsolicited Advice, Pt. 1

The hardest thing about being back home for the holidays is discovering just how few people have changed since high school. The grapevine still sways with murmurs of the incest group (still cheating on each other with each other, still stuck in this shitty town). Sexy Spinster recently bumped into the lot of them at a mid-level restaurant chain. They invited her over to their table to discuss their unfortunate exploits. Oh yeah, punching a chick in the face after she gives you a blowjob? Hi-lar-ious.

Guitar Guy recently informed me of his presence again. Our once-a-year conversations generally revolve around, well, him. (Not that I'm all that eager to divulge anyway.) In this episode, I found out he had dropped out of university after one month and currently works at Staples. He had so much potential when we attended middle school together. Sociable, quick to laugh, a computer ace. Now, it looks as if he's heading to Bumsville. Don't get me wrong, he's still smart. Except, he wants to make it as a musician.

Need I say more?

Okay, so I'm being patronizing. Shame on me. But where are my loyalties supposed to lie? It's obvious these annual missives are there to remind me of his continued existence. Why? Probably because I found him remotely attractive years ago, so he wants to keep the fire burning in case he one day finds himself in dire need of some ... company.

I wasn't born yesterday. He's neither the first nor last man to do this to me. MArt's previous roommate, Dubliner Phil, blatantly hit on me the day of my flight home two weeks ago. The minute he found out he would be seeing me for the last time, he made a last ditch attempt to preserve potential poon. He grew a conscience, got sentimental, requested to meet with me in private. Sexual innuendos suddenly replaced his usual deluge of Asian jokes. And the hugs! Lord, he sure kept them coming. "What was that about?" I inquired MArt the following evening. He said he was also troubled by it; his "boyfriend alarm" had been ringing all night.

"He thought he could present a 'secret side' of him to you so you'd feel special and be open to hooking up in the future."

How could anyone fall for this sort of bullshit? I have no illusions that whatever it is I fell for in MArt had originally been mined by other women. Everyone exploits their quirks -- glorifying them only makes you a sucker. /con't/

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Reuters: Applied; Prospects: Zero%

I'm beginning to tire of people who insist on engaging in arguments with me, but do not ever find the time to read and become informed. Instead of expressing ignorance on certain topics or perhaps find the humility to ask questions, they will undoubtedly attack my resistence to "other views." Listen, I know I am stubborn, it's a quality that has taken me far. So I don't think I am required to always have the patience for -- dare I say -- inferior ideas. Okay, that was wrong of me to say. Let me rephrase. Disproven. If a lazy assumption has already been established to be false, why am I not allowed to say so?

No, I'd be lectured, that's just my "opinion."

Fuck, this is why we're still arguing the merits(?) of Creationism!

I think I'm in the mood for some misanthropy. These liberal arts majors are on the opposite end of the "apathy scale." Their failings stem from dipping their quills in far too many ink pots. Boring and trivializing (as well as ignorant and slow), they roll their eyes at details and numbers (having been raised on skepticism and not much else). Most also tend to be super sensitive to criticism. When I challenge their allegations, they think I am out to "get them" personally. (Not that their characters need much to be deflated.)

"Lily," MArt says. "It's not about winning."

What? So whenever a pop culture icon, leaning left or right, says something deemed remotely interesting to the public, I have to give whomever is regurgitating it back to me a congratulatory pat on the back? Is that it?

Oh really, you hate Bush? Me, too. Let's celebrate in commemoration of our own self-regard and drink until we run out of money for weed again.

These same people also like to think of themselves as being affiliated with communism on one level or another, adopting Marx's words as gospel. Not that it would have ever worked as a self-sustaining political structure, they'd sniff, but it was a noble cause. Both my father's parents were upper-middle ranking Chinese Communist officials. I can attest that my grandmother has never reminisced about those "good ol' days" with a sparkling enthusiasm (not the latter parts, anyway). President Putin, ex-KGB, had a hand in igniting the Second Chechen War and is bringing back the police state in Russia. Yes, quite endearing, these funny folks -- I'd really like to be associated with them. You know who else had a "noble cause?" Robespierre. And look how many heads rolled for him? (Alright, I'm being unfair, but this is a polemic.)

My boyfriend, again, swoops in and tries to clarify things for me. He says it is the ideology alone that people are attracted to. To which I reply, "How can people align themselves with particular ideologies, these doctrines of abstract 'truths,' when their real-life counterparts are so explicitly repulsive? There is no chance for discourse when the material exists in a hypothetical fog, pumped full of vague proclamations of 'brotherhood' that further confuse. It is possible to argue the merits of oppposing ideas, sure, but how do you argue within a singular framework? It is a cop-out and an illusion of broadening intellect!"

Furthermore, it makes me sad how casually "fascist" is thrown around, too. Anyone who flirts with pragmatism is given that repugnant tag nowadays. Well-meaning students have an endless supply of compassion for victims -- then again, everyone wants to be a victim. Girls from privileged backgrounds are suddenly part of the oppressed majority because they've discovered their gender's apparent limitations. (Thanks Dr. Money, because of you, I have to calmly listen to people who believe gender and biology are unrelated. Or to take it even farther: human behaviour is entirely socially conditioned. Right, because if it wasn't for society, I wouldn't have known the first thing to being a woman. Hell, upon seeing a man's penis, I might've stuck it in a sandwich before swinging it above my head like a helicopter rotor. Give me a break. Larry Summers was an asshole, but there were more valid reasons for his resignation than his musings about inherent gender differences.)

Anyway, even I'm guilty of stupid lefty recommendations. MArt has to start his sentences with "I feel" when he's angry as to not offend my fragile sensibilities. (He's such a good, obedient liberal.) Armchair psychologists, we call ourselves. When I threw that phone in Kenny's direction, Techbiana told me "violence was unacceptable" in the house. Yet, she -- and types like her (one who is moving in with MArt this month) -- laughingly slap men around and dislocate jaws, knowing that social norms dictate that there will be no retribution. ("You can't hit girls!")

Ugh, I don't know. Being a 20-year-old sucks. I love school, but I am so fucking done with it.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Werner Herzog

Werner Herzog's "In The Edges" is playing as I type this. It's a mini-documentary on the gang of musicans Herzog assembled to improvise on the soundtrack of his movie, "Grizzly Man", over a period of two days. It's wonderful, this language of music, translated over interviews and footage. Timothy Treadwell's playful self-portraits are re-interpreted under Herzog's direction just by a single semitone change. Observing the musicians too is fascinating: Using only Herzog's adjectives as guides, they somehow produce these raw, yet emotionally sophisticated, pieces with no prior practice and composition time.

I think the act of improvisation occurs just above our self-regulating capabilities. We string together words and thoughts on a daily lark; it is a creative process that allows for that to happen. Obviously ignoring conscious artistic decisions, pick up any novel and there will probably exist no duplicate sentences in it.

The thing I find so impressive about musical improvisation specifically is that the simple mechanisms of the instrument are so entirely understood by the player that it appears like a secondary, transient vessel in which to formally congeal ideas. I envy that. When I studied classical piano, I never rose to the point where I felt an affinity with it. There was limited self-expression except for the rare finger flourishes I'd add to a Debussy or Peterson. I suppose writing is my transient vessel, the thing I access when my body feels too constrained.

There isn't much competence in picking up a pen though.

***

MArt threw a party at his place last night. About a 100 people showed up, drinking into the A.M., writing on every available surface with highlighters. Their messages glowed under the black light with topics ranging from fucking to screwing in Spanish and French. I didn't join him, watching instead the last of the UP Series by Michael Apted at home. I'm not one for large gatherings, enjoying rather the intimacy of being with one or two people at a time. This would come as a surprise to people who've come to be acquainted with me as a conversational whore.

It's not that I talk a lot. It's that I can't stop once I start. The punchlines roll off my tongue as guests egg me on to continue: mocking, flirting, entertaining. There is a bit of a power trip when, in that room, I am allowed to I push back the line of accepted decorum without being pushed back. And then I am drained, feeling wasted for the rest of the night. After two hours of flagellation, self and otherwise, I fall into a silent victory (the kind that makes you look morose) and speak only to those who approach me. MArt usually senses these mood discrepancies, from centre stage to wallflower, and tends to me. He is good at diffusing the awkwardness of my abrupt departures with an excuse to leave too.

I love the spotlight, but only for a moment, deriving no satisfaction in being the monkey for long. It is the spectator, not the show, that holds the mercy of the occasion.

***

So Techbiana interviewed me for a radio assignment for class, her professor recommended it to the CBC, and it's now been picked up for broadcast! Super excited!

It's a dream of mine to work for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a foreign correspondent one day. This might sound out of character of me to say (and it might also be propaganda doing its job), but I do feel fairly patriotic. Born in Beijing, raised in Canada, this country has been good to me and to my family and I want to contribute something back in the future. I think my stint in Beijing this summer made me really proud to be a Canadian, helping me fully realize that the amalgamation of confused identities Canada sees itself as is exactly the kind of culture I want to live in. I mean, c'mon! We're geographically sparse, internationally connected, and peacefully at odds with America: it's Switzerland without the Saudis!

I have the potential to work in Hong Kong next year, but without a doubt, I want my opportunities to eventually lead me back home -- and the inevitable shameless corporate plug -- at the CBC.

So if anyone wants to put me to work there ...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Untitled (Pretentious Art Students)

It appears whatever amount of sympathy I had for the guy who got mugged the other night faded the moment I threw a telephone at him. To be fair, I showed self-restraint: I had first looked at the empty beer bottles, but vouched for the phone knowing the chord would prevent it from causing real damage (though Techbiana was on the line at the time in another room).

You know you're embarrassing yourself when people at a get-together start moving to the other side of the room, interrupting on occasion with awkward jokes, then leaving entirely. I let my extreme distaste for alcohol and casual shindigs (among other things) get in the way of ...

Fuck that. He completely deserved it, that alcoholic. I thought it was common sense than when something bad happens to you, you take precautions. Sure, "muggings" are random and you can't entirely prevent it from happening, but you can do things to lower the risk. And walking down an unlit street at night while completely hammered, to me, appears to be a risk. "So you're saying everyone who walks home drunk gets mugged?" No! "Why would you let it change you? You shouldn't have to live in fear." I didn't say that, but I think it's alright to be aware of your surroundings from now on. "So, you're saying we should all be paranoid." No! Goddamnit! I was being ganged up by six people and I felt incredibly defensive.

I apologized to the muggee for my behaviour: "I'm sorry, don't take it personally ..." Which provoked him to say, in turn: "I know, I know. You're so loud. [...] It's just that I argue sensibly."

Rawr! Hulk! Crush! Now!! Patronizing asshole.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back from hiatus

My uncle's dead. He died a couple of days ago, only a week or two after he was re-diagnosed with cancer. My dad's in Beijing right now with the rest of my extended Mandarin family. No news from him yet. I IM'd my cousin to ask him how he was feeling (in absence of a more intimate form of communication). He didn't say much. It took me over an hour to piece together the Chinese characters I needed to give him my condolences over email. I later realized, had it not been for the back button, that my message arrived in his inbox as groups of question marks: ??? ????? ??. He eventually received it in the intended format.

I told him I was sorry for his loss. That words cannot describe the feelings we're all dealing with. I asked him to tell his other dying parent how much I miss her, how much I love her, and how much I regret not telling her more often this summer. She's my favourite aunt and I became distraught the evening I was told, wiping my nose on MArt's shirt as he held me 'til my eyes grew swollen.

Shotgun Toter's dad was told by his doctor that she hoped to see him in "weeks, months, a year." Shotgun later told me that the "a year" wasn't lost to everyone in the room. Her cousin dropped dead only a few days ago (she was morbidly obese): "She was the daughter of the only sibling my dad still stayed in touch with."

Another friend, also a roommate of MArt's, is dealing with his father's impending death (measured in hours and days) when the cancer unexpectedly spread to his brain, leaving him conscious but with symptoms similar to Alzheimer's.

A friend and classmate was mugged at knife point last night when he decided to wander home drunk from MArt's place.

My mom might be dealing with an ulcer. (She didn't go into detail except that she bought a bunch of meds.) My dad has gallstones.

And MArt's dad is taking me -- us -- out to dinner when he comes up in a few weeks.


MArt and I have become quite ... serious. How it came to be, I don't really know. He recently deleted his entire computer porn stash. All 30 GBs of it. To make room for "legitimate" movies, he says. This obviously illustrates that he meant business. He's crazy to be with me, to be sure. Always patiently waiting for me to share my life with him. Not that I don't. It's just that, as Cat observed, I tend to do a lot of things alone. "The most out of anyone I know," she added. "Sometimes," MArt complained during a recent argument, "there's '[MArt] and Lily's world' and there's 'Lily's world.'" (The latter, he implied, an impenetrable entity.)

The other night, he came to my place, buzzed from too much beer and a blackout-inducing amount of red wine. We argued about something I said to someone about him -- in essence, my gossiping. It was the first time I've ever seen him genuinely frustrated with me. "Stop putting me on the defensive!" I yelled. "Girls talk. We forget what we talk about. If you surmised that it was me who told her, then it must be me. What's the big deal? I'm sorry!" Never having been a screamer, he instead retreated to the couch a few feet away, continuing to vent. After another couple of minutes of hearing him bitch, I turned around, put my iron down, unplugged it, and said, "It's over, [MArt]," and locked myself in the bathroom. Through the wall, I could hear him talking to me, but I stayed silent. Then I heard him getting up to walk somewhere:

"I'm going to iron your dress now," he said, aggressively.

"Don't touch my dress!"

"I'm going to do it!"

"Don't touch my dress!"

Seconds later:

"Where do you want me to hang it?"

"Put my dress down! I don't care, on the floor!"

"I'm not going to put something I just ironed on the floor!"

I sat back down on the toilet just as I heard a rap, tap, tap against the doorknob. It continued. I told him to get away from the door.

"Open the door, Lily," he said.

"No."

"Open the door. Please, Lily."

"No."

The tapping continued, so I begrudgingly opened it.

There was MArt, in only his boxer-briefs, with a bobby-pin in his hand trying to pick the lock while the red triangle on his bicep from the hot iron he had earlier placed on his arm to "prove" that he wasn't "drunk" began to peel and blister.

He apologized (and again the following morning). MArt carried me to the bed and played with my hair from above. "Stop looking at me like that," he said.

"Like what?"

"Stop looking at me."

"Why?"

*Sniff, sniff, blink*

I had made him damn near cry at the thought of losing me, turning this tough guy into mashed potatoes.

He's right though. I don't hold our relationship as sacred as he does. Or I didn't use to. I am always, as he says, first and foremost thinking about myself before I do the relationship: what benefits "us" comes after what I deem to be beneficial or convenient to me. My mother has taught me that men -- specifically, whomever you happen to be with -- comes second. Family might eventually replace yourself as your top priority, but don't count on a man to give you what you want. And don't let a man be the only thing you want.

MArt understands my indoctrination. He says it's the reason he's fine with making concessions: he knows I'm really trying to adjust. It's hard-as-hell work though. But that's why they call it amore, baby.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A consequence of adulthood

*UPDATE*
It seems that the cancer in my uncle's liver might be re-emerging and suspected to have spread to his stomach this time. He is the husband of my aforementioned aunt. Having come back from the brink of death already twice in the last four or five years, I am having a hard time believing such luck could be dealt to one family. And my poor cousin: 24-years-old with no other source of sustenance beyond his parents; he's quit his internship to take care of them, consequently compromising his graduation even further. It's like Dave Eggers's Staggering Genius for the me-love-you-(wr)ong-time working class crowd.

Sometimes, there is no appropriate reaction but rage.

***

My father, his older brother, and my grandma are hopping on a plane to Beijing this coming Thursday to see my aunt, who has fallen seriously ill. A long-time university history professor with a penchant for whining, she's always been known as a bit of a hypochrondriac. Chronically tardy except with speed-dial, her morning ritual would consist of calling up my grandma to gripe about her not-so-well-being as the old woman sat patiently listening to her forever cry wolf about one phantom pain or another.

It was their thing, mother and daughter, bonding over the sympathy they produced in each other. It was charming, often funny, especially when their tolerance faltered in the midst of conversation, provoking one (or both) to raise her voice in a furious crescendo.

But those episodes would soon pass; they always do in time for food.

With a face like a peach and glasses that obscure her cheeks, my aunt has a curiosity that surpasses her age -- a number that at once derides her intelligence while giving it the weight of repute gained in time. Her eccentric dress, her habit of adopting stray cats, she's just a wonderfully quirky, loving woman.

And now, she has no more than three months to live.

Secondary bone cancer, my mother told me this morning. The doctors have inserted metal rods in her hip because the malignant cells have almost completely eaten through, which -- if untreated -- would indubitably leave her paralysed (due to its position by the spine). There's also cancer in her ribs, which originally came from her lungs.

I am heartbroken. She had been visiting Eastern practices for the past year. Is this what they'd actually been doing: Preventing early detection with all its voodoo wizardry? Her misplaced faith ultimately landed her in a Western-styled hospital, but not before being sent away by the herbal specialists who greedily collected her money. Holistic, my ass! All a bunch of conjurers and con men! Exploiting the poor the way they do, it's enough to make me throw myself against the wall and cry. All summer long, my aunt was determined to see me nearly everyday before I left for work. It was a daily routine that required great effort (due to the hour-long commute and her frail health), but nonethless, an act of love: noble and indulgent, maternal and kind. So much love, so undeserved.

And now, she's dying. She's dying. She's dying ...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

He could do nothing but laugh when I inadvertently called him my husband

It appears the honeymoon stage is officially over. Not that it really ever occurred with MArt, but just as a point of reference, this relationship has grown to become a script in unrestraint.

These last weeks have been interlaced with drawn-out discussions concerning the aforementioned "us" and love-making sessions out of the ying yang (in a regretfully literal way). The differences between me and him are astounding. Even the paradoxical areas of our personas butt-heads in equal measure. When angered, I vent, he sulks. When agitated, I confront, he avoids. I am impatient, his is infinite. And while only big things get me down, his pet peeves outnumber the worst. Decorum is only important to me in public, yet for him, it is a necessary part of the private. Our lifestyle habits alone keep us a bit off-kilter simply because a) I cannot fully immerse myself into his large circle of friends due to my aversion to parties, as well as b) my unresponsiveness to his requests to meet mine (for fear of it appearing too "formal" an event). Even our superficial similarities -- like music and food -- are governed by the core mechanisms of our basal instincts.

In other words: We are pushing the hell out of each other's buttons.

One night, as I was busy concocting metaphors in yet another discussion beginning with "I feel ...," my emotions got the best of me when I suggested that perhaps I am not the one for him. I choked back tears that immediately -- and unexpectedly -- flooded my eyes and pooled between my lips:

"I never expected it to be so hard," I held my breath just long enough to say.

His hand crept into mine and stroked my hair with the other. "I'm going to work on keeping this, no matter what. I love you."

It was a mockable montage of forced fed pop, a scene taken from Lifetime's cutting room floor.

Corny as we tend to be, it's tough having two unrelenting alphas dictating the direction of the relationship. I've always thought myself capable of being in one if only because I saw myself as a "happy compromiser". Of course, this ability to "happily compromise" was just something I told myself to feel less guilty for being a calculating sophist. So here's a man saying no to me -- sometimes out of spite, sometimes because he's self-righteous -- and it jars me from my own existence, forcing me to endure my own brand of bullheadedness. "No" shouldn't be a part of anyone's vocabulary but my own! I tried contending to myself. (Needless to say, a fruitless endeavour.) Being single had the advantage of nurturing selfish impulses, and slowly trading them in has been at once an ordeal and an adjustment. And then there's also wondering when my amateur heart became a beeping device of territorial greed. I don't know when it happened; I'm sure it didn't come with the first date. This desire to be the source of his fears, the object of his affections, and the projection of perfection for him. (Though in reality, I have maintained to keep our material independence intact.)

Is our species' pursuit of security so strong that it can manage to convince a relatively sane person to pull together every resource to assure its survival?

me: "It's like two people stranded in an endless desert with a camel: They can either replenish themselves with what water they can scrounge up or give their share to the humped mammal in order to move forward. But why continue when all you see are sand dunes in every direction? What's the point?"

MArt: "Then you don't have hope."

Pandora should've kept the lid open longer.

I'm meeting his parents next month and we're attending a hockey game together to mark the beginning of the season. Perhaps love can only be judged in retrospect, like the never present tomorrow.

... Or maybe I should leave those kinds of thoughts to Wordsworth.

***

It seems as if every sore memory I encounterd during my freshman year of late-night shenanigans has been informed that I have been seeing a mystery somebody. I suppose "Lily has a boyfriend" does sound like a pretty absurd piece of gossip.

And there's no harm in keeping it that way. It's the price of being unknowingly known.

Except I'm vaguely curious as to why my business would be of interest to anyone (and to whom?); I hardly make myself appear memorable around the disturbed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dawson Tragedy

I never cared much for Dawson kids. These students tend to congregate by the alley under MArt's window, smoking doobies and chatting on their cell phones in that obnoxious language of teenagers. So needless to say, my first reaction to hearing a hoard of them screaming was of blind irritation.

"What the hell are they celebrating now?" I asked no one in particular while typing out a class assignment. "Shut up already!" I whined.

MArt calmly walked through the bedroom door and turned on the light.

"Someone's been shot. There's been a shooting."

Shocked, I told him to grab his camera and get out there. He did.

The traffic congestion soon swallowed me up. Both major streets intersecting MArt's place had been blockaded with sirens screaming for bystanders to move. At times, I heard the killer was still on the loose. At others, there were four of them, two now killed. Information was diluted, and weak on fact. I let the shuffling waves of kids carry me back to my campus, rain-soaked and frightened, someone was guaranteed to be dead.

For full story, click here

***


This was taken by Phil Carpenter, my photojournalism professor, who arrived at the scene of the action sooner than MArt did, even though my boy-boy and I live no more than a stone's throw away! Young'un still has a lot to learn.

***

Swiss Alps called out to me on the mezzanine. He asked me how I was. I told him ... Well, what is there to tell? I gave him a stock answer. He smiled.

"[KournaWhora] and I are getting married! We got engaged in Cuba!"

She's 20. He's barely into his twenties. Mazel tov! Hope they continue to alienate more friends.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Reed, Lou Reed

I had planned to stay with my parents for a week before returning to Montreal when I received an email from Julian Sher asking whether I could help him transcribe some interviews for his upcoming book on child pornography. I would be accredited in his book, he said.

Apparently, he had kept one of my random emails from over half a year ago, and thought I was a bright enough kid to be entrusted with this job. I never thought he would have given me a second thought after he rejected me for another paid position, but it appeared that my typo-free request was impressive enough to pique his attention among the other applicants from my program.

Fast forward a week. The work has been tedious. There is no other way to describe it besides anal sex bad. For the chance to get my foot in the news industry and make important contacts, I am on a stop/rewind/play rampage for hours worth of tape. Did I mention they're not digital recordings so I can't get rid of the distortions? Did I also mention the guy being interviewed has a thick Irish accent that is further obscured by mall musak half-way through?

Dying.

My first paid job and already I'm crying like an abortion clinic full of teenagers. Spoiled princess, MArt joked. It's alright, I can take the heat. I know I can't compare with him: working since he was 12; cooks, cleans, mends, and sews. Whereas, ever since I became too old to tempt James Woods, it's just been one internship after another at professionally relevant places. I've never had the pleasure of using the phrase, "Naw man, I got work tonight." It makes being condescended to that much easier to defend because, let's be honest here, I make a pretty easy target.

I'll stop before I start sounding smug ...

***

I'm in my junior year of university. Time sure does fly when you're not waking up beside a toilet bowl with your face planted in the lap of an autistic trannie named Delores. My magazine writing professor already asked us to think of a subject for our final feature piece. I've decided to do human trafficking ploys. I had heard through the dim sum grapevine that dollar stores and dime-a-dozen groceries are really fronts to get people into Canada. What the owners basically do is report false profit figures to the government to reassure the Man that, Yes, they are a sound enterprise. Doing so will allow them to bring over more of their "business associates" to this side of the Pacific. Except these business associates are really families who pay over six-figures (US funds) to be selected. $70,000 per head, was the number I was originally given. There's a discount for the whole lot. Considering the exchange rate is about 8:1, we're talking small fortunes being exchanged here. And a story fresh for breaking. But so far, it's just all hearsay.

First week of the new semester and I'm already trying to locate sources for interviews. I've become so lame, it hurts.

***

MArt and I role played high school virgins last night.

"Please," I gasped, mockingly. "Be gentle with me. It's my first time."

He grabbed my hips awkwardly: "It won't hurt at all. You wanna take off your shirt?"

I suggested some turn-of-the-century tunes to help with the atmosphere. He put on Massive Attack (after I vetoed Limp Bizkit). I worked down to his pants, and undid his button. "I've never done this before. I'm scared."

He looked at me with a grin that betrayed his age:

"Baby, just pretend it's a popsicle."

I fell off the bed laughing. "A popsicle?! Is that what you told girls back then?" I asked.

He blushed and covered his face with a pillow. Usually my man is smooth, smooth as Dave Chappelle's botoxed balls, but as I sat there, trying to catch my breath, I could tell I was killing certain perceptions he had of himself. I lifted the pillow a little bit, and snuck him a kiss. He shook his head and pouted. "Why do you want to know what I was like in high school, anyway?" he whined.

I explained that I was only teasing, that I love him so he needn't fear any embarrassing retributions, and that I only want to know more about him. Well, that opened up the floodgates. Not only was he in practically every sports team, he was a straight-A science student, and was the drummer in multiple local bands (which, unsurprisingly, also made him very popular with the pubescent set. ... Like, boob-signage popular). Then, as we were drifting off to sleep, he made this slip: "You should've heard the kick-ass valedictorian speech I made ..."

Oh, how my muscles ached from the subsequent seizure of giggles. What a cliche! The editor of the school paper with the Golden Boy. It's like a match made in nerd heaven. I wouldn't even think it inconceivable had he written the entire speech in binome and altered the chemical properties of the ink to make it smell like his customary "lady-friend morning-after breakfast."

***

I didn't think an interracial relationship would attract as much attention as it does, but apparently, holding hands with a white boy will get me the point-n'-whisper with a complimentary death stare.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Snakes on a plane

Flog me for not posting more often. Blogger, since rubbing head and shoulders with Google, became predictably closed off while I was at CCTV: my only Internet-enabled computer source.

This also means I am back in Canada.

A 6-hour delay plus 12 hours on a plane, and I am clinging to this keyboard like Porgy to Bess.

***

I went salsa dancing at one of only two Latin clubs in Beijing. Mighty fun. Observed one couple in particular with affectionate glee. Middle-aged, quite overweight, and donning matching He and Her striped tees, they chugga-chugged to the beat like exorcising catepillars on a pilgrimage to Cuba. Both of them had their arms bent at 90 degree angles, jabbing the air behind them, and stalked the dance floor in a dance of Alpha-male supremacy. Looked quite serious, as if there was something to prove in their lackluster performance, even as they tired themselves out and panted from exhaustion, shoulders slouched and sloping. What a sight.

***

I am not a fan of anger. It connotes a loss of control, a mired perspective, an inability to foresee consequences. Generally-speaking, I am wholly capable of talking myself out of displaying an excess of emotion. It has been years since I've seriously became enraged, and even then, I chock it up to have been a child. Everyone around me can attest to my aversion to it. Like this year's sailor theme, it is not becoming on me. MArt says perhaps I am simply too rational to get upset over minor irritations and am too quick to mine for humour to get overwhelmed. Which is why it surprised everyone when I became furious the day before I was to catch my plane to Toronto.

My internship this summer was obtained through backdoor connections, where the explanation ostensibly begins "a friend of a friend." The middle-man was a flagrant opportunist with a penchant for kissing ass only Juan Valdez can love. The first day I met with him, he was already asking for gratuities. Fast foward two months and last minute English lessons for his daughter, I brought with me to the TV station three boxes each of ginseng and chocolates (the former fetching for thousands of dollars on the Mainland), a set for each of the three people I was to "give thanks." Middle-Man walked with me to the offices of the big honchos, and left me there to take a call on his cell. So I initiated a conversation with one chair, whom I had met once before and who had originally assigned me to my department, telling him en anglais that I hardly knew Middle-Man, so it would be inappropriate for him to speak for me when I am entirely capable of thanking him myself. Looking slightly embarrassed and much confused, he responded with a few token words, accepted what I had in the bag after much prodding, and immediately hid it underneath his desk. Suspicious, I walked away, thinking "two to go." I waited for Middle-Man by the elevators. He, with that ever present Jokester grin, asked me why I still had offerings on hand, and immediately took them from me to give to the chair's co-workers. This, of course, left nothing for my actual superiors for my months-long stay.

This is the reason I became absolutely furious when I returned home. Since ginseng is worth a lot in China, Middle-Man thought it swell to use me to make himself known to department executives outside his own, and further his professional standing without requiring actual skill. I thought it was a cultural thing, but like everyone else in the world, voluntarily buying gifts for people because you're genuinely grateful is not limited to the Chinese. "Don't worry about it, Lily," everyone around me kept insisting. "You don't understand, you're a foreigner. Let the adults handle it." So Middle-Man used my gifts to help himself get further in the business and gypped me of the things I had originally brought for my mentors. I was cheated, and I saw it coming, but I wasn't allowed -- for wont of being a troublesome child -- to change the course of action.

I, expectedly, did not receive an iota of an apology. An "oops" would have suffice. I felt betrayed and screwed over for the ignorance of these people who called themselves adults. I've always had a problem with authority because my experiences with seniority have typically been disappointing. Are they more learned? Wiser? More saintly? Less? I feel I am their equal, for better or worse, and yet I let myself be treated with contempt. Had I been more careful, more responsible, less obliging, I would have made the necessary arrangements to have avoided this whole charade. But I had put my faith in characters and ended up swallowed by the game. I guess I was just too fed up with the country, too jaded by face savers, that I thought I could out-maneuver such obvious manipulations. But I felt trapped by my obligations as a respectful guest to prevent the incident from happening. It was a lose-lose situation and I think that's what made me lash out so unreasonably.

I did discover something about myself through all this though. Apparently, if I get really, really, pissed off, my thumb swells up big and red, painful to the touch. Minutes later, after having calmed down, the swelling will cease, colour now pale, as if terrorists had attempted an unsuccessful hijacking on my hand.

My dad says it might just as likely have been "bad qi."

Monday, August 07, 2006

738 pages + one weekend

MArt finally received my letter in the mail. He had waited three weeks and loved it immensely. The vanilla-scented parchment planted him on the couch, and he told me he just sat there, with it still on the coffee table, before reading a word.

And I was wrong. The letter ended: "You make me want to live the farce, and for that, I love you." It was farce, not facade, for the prior is much more apt. Play the fool to want the fool, as I like to say.

***

Here's to a happy birthday to my mom. The family's currently cavorting gaily in Los Angeles. Pfft, like I care; I have all the pollution I can handle in Beijing.

***

Is it more dreadful to think you love someone or love them only when they are there? This is a question I've been battling with between my occasional bouts of existential-driven anxiety attacks. (While gnawing on a drumstick, sober: "I'm repeating the actions of early man ... but eating the descendent of a dinosaur! Woah!")

These past couple of months, I've experienced first-hand the accusations normally thrown at the opposite sex. When MArt said he loved me as he ran out the door one day, I pretended it was a fluke and told him to have fun on his weekend trip. Days passed, maybe weeks, when he casually reprimanded me for saying it on the phone. "Accidentally," he teased.

At first I faithfully denied it. But when he persisted, playing along soon succumbed to acceptance. Whatever, I thought. He wants to believe what he heard; it was headed that direction anyway.

Maybe it's because we haven't known each other for all that long and being away from him only accentuates my apathy towards this relationship. I still conduct myself as a single woman because nothing seems to be more important to me -- right now -- than indulgent abandon. But that's much too simple (and frankly, cliched).

Or maybe I am emphasizing too much with the female lead in de Beauvoir's roman a clef, The Mandarins. Besides the misanthropic Nadine and the pathetic Paula (two pictures of love as a martyr too disappointing to enjoy), I felt an eerie affinity with Anne (de Beauvoir's alter-ego). Only ... it's the her as she appears to Lewis Brogan (Nelson Algren), not Dubreuilh (Jean-Paul Sartre). Known as the only other significant affair de Beauvoir had in her life, her relationship with Algren is minutely detailed for the pleasure of -- one supposes -- her own sake. I absorbed those passages hungrily as if I were reading my own diary. She wrote my mind, she spoke my words, and I felt noticeably agitated when certain thoughts digressed from my own. No, no, I'd think as I got tangled in the lines. It didn't happen like that! Not that way. And he wouldn't have said what he said. Nor would have I. But it did happen like that, and I was once again parked between the pages, forced to adapt to an unknowable past.

I never considered my relationship with MArt to be especially "passionate." It is wonderful beyond description, but doubtfully passionate. (Then again, if it is strictly associated with the primordial act, then -- in his own words -- we have a-plenty.) Yet, from what I gather, the way it has matured is really an anomally: a path less taken, a hidden ditch. It is not everyday -- or so they say -- that defenses crumble and continue without assurances, and naturally take root for naught. So I'll take their word for it, and recognize that what I have is pretty darn special. Not worry so much about the present, and chuck away the plan.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Insta-member


My aunt just sent me pictures of my newborn baby cousin. That's boy number two. Congratulations! (He's the one plopped over like an anemic Eskimo rapper.)

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pink Curtains

The best thing to do right now is to suck. it. up. I don't want to turn into a post-modern hack with the sole gift of criticism. I guess I expect a relatively high level of courtesy because, being from the West, the closest we come to "poverty" is when we sprout body hair. I suppose in a country of over a billion, where most live in abject conditions, there is little room for bourgeois rituals. So suck it up, Lily ... and keep countin' down the days ...

***

A co-worker of mine invited me out to Beijing's club district tonight to attend three parties. Attendees are all American expats, I'm told. Like an '80s Coyote Ugly.

MArt told me to enjoy myself. I asked him if that included using "I'm single" in my evening repertoire.

His answer more or less confirmed that neither of us is going anywhere, long-distance be damned.

These two months have been hell because such an arrangement is so unnatural. Feelings logically grow by proximity of contact, not in void of it. I exert and get no instant response. Like heat, it simply vanishes into the atmosphere with no sign of return, and consequently, validation. What's the point? I ask. He says he loves me, but what is there to keep him from relinquishing this obligation? I'm gone, he's free, there really isn't any expectations on my part. This, we both acknowledge, is a lie; my nonchalance a hurtful dagger. Of course I want him to be there when I get back. I want to, once again, see him fold the laundry and pull me into his lap. He and I have the luxury of consistency at least. I give him frequent updates of my time spent on this side of the Pacific and he, the same. His boss is over-working him; 12-hour shifts up the ying-yang. "How else can I support my girlfriend's shopping sprees?" he teased. He knows I'm not the type, though it's nice to know he's thinking of the future. (We might take a trip to NYC this fall.) With all this talk of committment-phobic men in our society, what sort of factors convince a man to want to settle down? It feels timely to ask why he feels so confident that I will be in his future. Is it hubris or bad logic? Why don't more women have such blind faith? In a small way, I envy his power to choose.

I've been reading The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir. One of the themes in the book is the balancing act between independence and fidelity. Maybe I will learn a thing or eight by the time I finish.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Apple-stained mug

Last night, I cried and cried until my cells exerted all their reserves. It was caused by a meaningless comment my mom made on the phone about how my uncle called to tell her I was making my grandma work like a maid.

I flipped.

Not because it was absolutely untrue. What he did was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Did he expect them to fly over here and beat me? I haven't lived under their roof in almost three years. Two weeks worth of unverbalized angst spewed out of me. I aggressively brushed my teeth and slammed the toilet stalls. And then, when my grandmother was out of earshot, I cried into my bed.

I've always said I enjoy the menial tasks I'm given at work. My enjoyment, however, doesn't stem from the job itself, but in the temporary contact I have with the culture I am most familiar with. I'm not even referring to something as simple as the "West." Having visited Beijing intermittently since I was seven or eight, it's not the city that makes me feel isolated. No, this recent bout of loneliness comes mostly from my ignorance of the culture. Sure, I might know the significance of national symbols and other odds and ends about China, but how I am to conduct myself and receive others is as alien to me as the nape of my neck. For someone used to direct communication, I am living in a city of vague proclamations. It is like a cornucopia of passive-aggressives all vying for the job of top mute. (The round-a-bout way people speak can be likened to the hutongs that ubiquitously populate the city.) Furthermore, Mandarin is my second-language. It is a language of much complexity, certainly made more complicated by its euphemistic nature. So here is my dilemma: I am a 20-year-old child-idiot in a foreign city, speaking in a foreign tongue, where the discussion of sensitive subjects is taboo, and etiquette is everything.

I discussed this with my grandma over breakfast this morning. She says perhaps I call MArt as often as I do because we share a common language. And she's right. Only she's not talking about linguistic structure, but the conditions of social integration. I might feel different in Canada as much as I do here, but in Canada, there is at least a niche for alternative expression. But so far, I have not encountered as many options here. (To be sure, I have not really searched.) Even so, maybe this is what immigrants feel after setting foot on a new continent: that assimilation is a necessity rather than a choice.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Chinese Idol ... straight from the military

MArt recently got a job as a cook. And thus, he's required (by default of being one's boyfriend) to foot the long-distance charges we've been racking up since I flew to Beijing two weeks ago. Calling cards are a joke here. They're like trips to Costco: a never-ending cycle of unfinished business. Just as you remember something important to say, the line beeps that maddening beep and cuts you off like an AIDS epidemic. He says he loves receiving updates from me; I just think he wants to masturbate. I mean, who knows? Maybe he really does enjoy listening to me whine about the domestically-centered plotlines of Korean soaps.

"Man, why she gotta be so obedient? And her hair: it's just so ... shiny."

I also developed an addiction to informercials. My favourite one -- so far -- is the one shilling for weightloss shoes. Apparently, walking will help you shed the pounds to a slimmer, newer you. It's in the technology of the insoles, you see. These insoles tone you up and tighten sagging buns, and all you have to do is walk. No sweat! because running is for losers.

Another says fat can be jiggled away. Yeah, it's supposed to be absorbed into your digestive tract and shat out your anus. The damn thing looks like a gigantic vibrator to me: One too big for your va-jay-jay, and too small to come with a free TV offer.

Speaking of, the most grating thing about this city is the stuff they have on the tube. Everything's dubbed here. (Just last night, I watched Terminator III. ... And now I wonder when I'd sunk so low.) Well, almost everything. Maybe it's just the shit ma grand-mere has on hers, but most of the 60 channels are like one long Ben Stiller joke. The chick who does the Korean wife also does the Indian girlfriend, and I suspect she might also triple as the Russian femme fatale (with the heart of gold and the steroid bosom of a lactating Barry Bonds).

MArt thinks what I'm saying is hilarious. What he doesn't find so hilarious are guys who want to pursue me. I told him he needn't worry because like all good Chinese girls raised in the West, I'm a bonafide racist. And by that, I obviously mean a yellow man makes for happy parents. And who honestly wants that?

I think my love letter to him finally arrived today. In a true testimony of my spinter beginnings, it ends:

You make me want to live the facade, and for that, I love you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Beijing Update

I'm a news scribe. That's the job they gave me here at CCTV-9. I can't say I enjoy it so much as I can't say I much enjoy Beijing. (Even the shopping is mediocre.) This time around, playing Melanie Griffith Banderas, I am prevented -- by my own unjustifiable reluctance -- to feel a connection with my birth city. The streets are sometimes familiarly immaculate, yet they are not particularly enviable. The word "facade" bubbles up everytime I peep out the bus window. ("Half-assed" would be too honest.) Parks have admission. City grass can only be looked at. Everything within the city-limits have been haphazardly painted over; historical monuments glazed with a blinding sheen. No one says what they mean. I work at the country's propaganda mouthpiece.

It's lonely being a foreigner.

I've made a few friends at work, co-workers mostly. The Chinese pretty much baby new interns as they settle in. I don't like this Mother Hen method, too impatient to memorize my job description before laying a finger on a keyboard. I'm skeptical of my time spent here, yet overall, I am grateful for this opportunity to be doing something new.

Every few days, MArt and I talk on the phone. I've been helping out a new girl, Lindsay. China, unlike the Oprah-fied West, doesn't really contain a self-help gene. Since only crazies can lead the crazed, I'm offering what little guidance I can give. It's amazing the kind of creative advice I can dole out over buns and noodles and some sort of fermented tofu shit with beans.

Works like absinthe.

Returning home, I saw a movie poster for Mission Impossible: III in one of the subway tunnels. The guy framed in the firey background looked like Tom Cruise, but hell, even I know Tom Cruise doesn't have the body of a Russian bodybuilder and Guile's haircut from Street Fighter. Dude, I eventually realized, the Chinese photoshopped the Tom Cruise! I don't know why it felt so ridiculously weird. Maybe it was the too-tight mandex shirt (in black, natch), but seeing how my chinky hombres view white people is earth-shattering! It's like a cigar might only be a cigar, but it comes pre-lit and dipped in macho juice.

***

They've been showing my news packages on the 8 o'clock news. Hehehe, so cool!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cuban Photos

Everytown, Cuba


The ubiquitous Che Guevara


Postcard shack


Country artery


Resort beach


Novelty ride


Cienfuegos park bench

Cuba Update

Cuba seemed more suited for partygoers too unaware of their immediate surroundings than it was for me. Needless to say, I didn't have much fun. Even looking past the terrible food (i.e. steak's approved for consumption as long as it's cooked after the point of digestion, smothered in brown sauce, and served with equally mouth-tearing rice), alternative venues of entertainment were limited to activities that needed not sobriety to apply.

You must've realized by now that I am, indeed, a travel snob. (Yes, one of those. Though to be fair, the Cuban people were very friendly and approachable - I easily got by with my preliminary Spanish.)

I suppose I should have expected this from my parents. Those lovers of Las Vegas and veterans of cheese. Resorts placate their palate for uncomplicated living. So seeing how I would've spent the week switching between oceanic baths, watching Showtime en espagnol, and following MTV's The Hills like a roach on toast (omg, like, Heidi totally dropped out of fashion school to pursue her dream as a publicist, only to, like, end up licking envelopes, and her cowboy boots were atrocious!), they decided to rent a car and take me to see the "real Cuba."

Readerdroid had warned me about what laid beyond the artifice and facade (though admittedly she didn't much care to venture outside her vacation compound when she was there last Christmas with her zygot donors). "Don't even bother, Lily," she practically yawned. "There's nothing. You can't even find food." I, of course, thought she was exaggerating, as she's wont to do.

And she was. But not by much. We drove from Varadero to Havana and then to Cienfuegos the following day. Cuba makes deterioration look like an artform. The crumbling remains of candy-coloured villas peppered the streets overrun with the poor. One wrong step, and sometimes you'd be stepping in raw sewage. Yet, around the corner, there would be stately hotels done up like Moroccan harems. (Sidenote: My family and I patronized one because it seemed like a safer bet than street vendor food. In retrospect, the hotel's menu was exquisite ... but it cost my mom around $130 CDN, and made her yearn for The Keg: she doesn't consider anything else passable Caucasian cuisine.)

The wealth discrepancy is disheartening. My parents remarked that the use of CUC versus the local peso is like China 50 years ago. (0.83 Canadian Dollar = 1 Cuban Convertible Peso = 24 Cuban Pesos.) We asked a fast-food attendant how much he earned a month, and he said somewhere between 150 to 250 pesos. And here we were, tipping at two dollars a pop, 10 dollars per maid. And there they were, making do with their shitty transportation system and hitchhiking everywhere. There were people waving bills by the side of the road in bumblefuck nowhere, expecting a ride from the next available vehicle, horse, or wagon. It's ... fascinating. And the blatant propaganda. Sure, there were the frequent La Revolucion posters featuring Che Guevara, but it was the anti-Bush sentiments plastered on most highways (*cough* dirt roads) that caught my eye. One featured Dubya's photo with Hitler's moustache and "Fascismo" written beside it. On TV, Bush is drawn as a cartoon Nero-type, bullying seniors into working the fields, enforced by a beefy sergeant. It's quite funny actually.

I'll post a selection of photos I took in my next entry. For a more authentic experience, they are best viewed with a gas canister positioned under both nostrils.

Friday, June 23, 2006

En flagrante

I'm sitting on the edge of my bed, scanning for long-missing accessories amid the dirty laundry. Here's an uncapped marker. There, a rental renewal notice. I feel like crap, but circumstances are jolting me into an upright position of productivity. My mom called me a few days ago asking that I return home:

"We [the family] go to Yellowstone. You take care of business. And brother."

I reluctantly agreed; she deserved a vacation, being on her feet 13 hours a day (as she's apt to remind me).

A few hours later, she rings me again: "You want to go to Cuba?"

Hell yesssss!

I'm told it's a belated birthday gift. MArt is so jealous. But he's still going to housesit for me. A lovely gesture, no? Apparently, we're in love or something.

***

A few evenings ago, a met an Irish tourist at 3 a.m. who asked me out for coffee.

I agreed, knowing it would be acceptable grounds for MArt to break-up with me. But I did it anyway because I am prone to being courted randomly off the street and this one, this one seemed decent enough (although a bit sloshed). The man ended up being a hedge fund associate for Goldman Sachs. We ended up at a 24-hour cafe, talking about the state of world economics, specifically in the Middle East and North Korea. I asked him what he thought of the latter's goals, and made him elaborate on his company's intentions in that country, what America really has in store for that side of the planet.

"They're completely unrealistic. They're delusional, yeah?"

What I gleaned from him is this: North Korea's basically paying him and his ilk to invest in the country for the sole purpose of securing confidence. So it, unlike China, is paying him interest. A few years ago, I heard through the familial grapevine that N. Korea was cordoning off a tiny area to experiment with capitalism. My dad's older brother was in the running to manage it. Now, I get what it really is: an office block all the big players are vying for. But the catch is, it's also entirely owned by the Europeans, so from what I'm told, investing in it commercially only really benefits the EU. America, in turn, also gets rich(er). It's win-win, unless you're North Korean. And since the South acts as everyone's money lender to access the North, even they get something out of it. Gabby, as my companion was called, already put down $4.3 million, but thinks the North Koreans need to cop to their situation and realize that they're in a strategic position, geographically, to govern as the gateway to the East.

An hour later, he's declaring his love for me. "Sorry," I said, "but my man's waiting up."

"He is a very lucky man."

Apparently, I'm one hell of a woman.

The conversation was fascinating in its candid portrayal of American interests versus American rhetoric from an insider. Before slipping into bed with MArt, I asked him whether he thought my actions were opportunistic.

"Of course."

I'm a journalism student, dammit! It's survival of the best story; the only thing I have in my arsenal are contacts.

***

Why some women can be a fucker to deal with absolutely eludes me. I've always thought as sharers of vaginas, we were born to have some sort of affinity with each other. Well, Tuesday's linguistics final showed me otherwise. This boorish lady, whom I had never spoken to before, took an immediate disliking to me. She was sitting with three other classmates, all of them men, who were so kind to offer me a seat and a hand in studying for the test. Immediately, everything I contributed was aggressively put down by this woman.

"Did you guys get this question? Does it mean that since the current discourse drives the idea that the mind emerges from the brain ..."

"NO! You don't get it at all!"

"... from the brain, Chomsky suggests that we distance ourselves from it in order to discover the linchpin of the mind/body duality?"

The men all nodded, "Yeah that's it." And there she was, arms crossed, giving me the eye, seething. [Sarah said she felt her negativity the moment I approached the table. That's why she left 15-seconds in.]

This continued until 15 minutes before class started. That's when she really brought out the claws. I asked her what her plans for the summer was:

"I'll be working."

Oh, I said, surmising that it must be something to do with getting her M.A.

"No, work. As in, I have a career," she scoffed. "I'm 31-years-old."

I decided I was just going to fuck with her now: "That's amazing! You look great, like one of Kylie Minogue's back-up dancers!" I enthused.

By the time the professor waltzed in with the booklets, she had already checked off her "accomplishments" for everyone to hear, chewing on every sizeable chunk like she actually carried speech bubbles in her back pocket along with the stick up her ass:

"I'm married.

"I have a 4.3 GPA."

"I have a mortgage."

"My husband and I are buying a house."

All accompanied by the requisite eye-roll.

"How 'bout a windmill? You planning to get one of those, too?" I asked. She wheezed like I had insulted her 4.3-rated intelligence. I smiled and listed off its various practical uses: Grind wheat, bring up water from a well, as an environmentally friendly air conditioning unit, a hideout from zombies.

"I don't get it."

Smarmy bitch. *sigh* Laxatives will do her body good.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Foam core

"How'd the midterm go for you?"

"It wasn't too bad, being open-book and all."

HOLY AYATOLLAH PAT MORITA! Open-book?! I had no feckin' idea. Didn't bring a goddamn thing. This, obviously, convinces my mother that I am on the cusp of getting kicked out of university even though I'm getting solid As (and Bs) towards my concentration. Yeesh, it's a summer general ed. course on linguistics; I don't give two shits about Chomsky.

Wanker.

***

I told my parents about MArt.

"This one's serious," I said.

"What is he?"

"What do you mean what is he? He's white, mom. He's a white guy."

"Oh, okay. [*silence*] I so busy now. Mommy go back to work."

***

I've been meaning to write in my blog this past week, but everytime I found an opening, I opted out. Two nights ago, I considered leaving MArt. The strangeness of intimacy boiling over, I thought of running away the following morning.

Thankfully, it didn't happen.

We were fucking and he said something that hurled long-buried issues into my face.

"You have a very dominating personality," he said, and patronized me from under my torso. "I only allow you to get away with it most of the time."

"Don't pull this childish shit with me," I warned before pulling on my underwear.

"Where're you going?"

"Home."

He held me back. I resisted. Unable to keep from laughing, I tried squirming off the bed instead. MArt nuzzled the back of my neck and asked that I tell him what's wrong. I ran my hands through his auburn locks and demanded an apology. Not until you tell me what's wrong. Tears crept to the corners of my eyes, fragilely cradled between meddling lashes.

"I cannot deal with passive-aggression," I stately flatly.

My assertiveness has always been a problem for certain men to accept. I've been slapped around in public, beaten in private, and generally humiliated for being the way I am. I have always been told I needed to be "tamed" -- an ill-natured game for the emasculated man. I should read less, they'd joke, not talk so much. Their feeble intellects easily cornered, I took the brunt of resentful response. Break me, they tried. I am better than you, their eyes similarly burned and seethed. I will cause you anguish. Submit, submit, submit. Always by force.

And so it came, fast and hard: the hand, the foot, the tightened grip. I fought back, and back it came. They'd been triggered, they'd reason. It was me, not them. It was my stubborness/foolishness/girlishness that was the cause. Don't do it again. (When I accidentally rolled over MArt's toe with my chair yesterday, my first reaction was to flinch before saying sorry. It was my body preparing to be struck. Instead, he shouted a couple of profanities, sat me down on his lap, and continued surfing the 'net. Amazing!)

I told MArt having a strong personality is how I prevent anyone from co-opting my identity: I don't want to disappear just because I've prioritized him. He ended up staying awake all night making sure I was alright and apologized for the things he did, and the things I never even thought of bringing up. He acknowledged that he has to work on accepting his more submissive role if I am to remain in his life. "You are the best thing to have happened to me [since I was 14]," he whispered in my ear.

What is a relationship worth? Can it be expressed in monetary terms? Is it even measurable? How fair is it to compare it to material necessity? In any case: Here's hoping long-term success with my first official squeeze. Huzzah!

***

Prada mules arrived in perfect condition. The eBay seller sent me a hand-written letter explaining why exactly my purchase was delivered late and paid for priority express. That's what I call service.

Lord, my shoe collection is getting to be way too ... Who am I kidding? It's awesome. The front door doesn't need opening!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gush the light fantastic

Techbiana told everyone at breakfast how she stood outside MArt's room this morning listening in on us having sex and deduced each of our positions from my aural hints. She was in Toronto these past two weeks enrolled in a communications course. Her dormmate was this extremely gorgeous gay guy Bryan Singer (yes, the Hollywood franchise maker) befriended in Hell-Ay. The story goes, Singer invited him to this year's Golden Globe's after-party where he met George "My smugness was immortalized on South Park" Clooney.

"Definitely gay," the guy confided. "He kept checking me out. We made eye-contact at the party six whole times. They were the lingering ones that last way longer than they should too."

Great, another Cary Grant copycat. Everyone should just be required to grow sleazy Burt Reynold 'staches and bow at the alter of Hasselhoff. That's Tinseltown in a nutshell. Or what it really, really, really, really should be.

***

Two days until the big 2-0. I'm not one for celebrating birthdays, but Readerdroid got the date out of me last week and is determined to bake me a cake since I kept refusing everything else she offered. MArt also had something for me, but I told him it wasn't necessary because we only recently started dating exclusively, and I don't think it's fair to expect anything from anyone you've only known a few short weeks. Oh, and chicks before dicks, and all that.

***

"Like rabbits," Sam chided in mock disgust.

He was referring to me and MArt's bi-hourly romps in the room next to his temporary pad. To the tunes of Propellerheads, we made ample use of the equipment laying around the bed as the sounds of the city permeated from the window.

At this point, it seems rather redundant to say that he and I are "intimate." Yet with the imaginative use of ice cubes and metal fixtures, it still strikes me as odd that he's a traditionalist. So last week, I asked him out shortly after my modeling gig. He confessed he was taken aback because he thought I didn't want a relationship. Besides, he continued, "What's a gorgeous girl like you doing in a place like this?"

The truth is, I like him. It feels wonderful to be the Annette Bening to his Warren Beatty. ("No more bitches," he vowed.) He calls me his very own Vargas pin-up, cannot stop himself from displaying affection. And most surprisingly is his lack of inhibitions around me (which is apparent to others as well). "I'm attracted to you sexually, mentally, and emotionally," he remarked as he drifted off to sleep. "There's no bullshit with you. You make me feel comfortable being myself." He's not out for control and possession like the others. He respects my boundaries without ever resorting to passive-aggressive schemes that only work to alienate. There are no obsessive feelings of inadequacy and unhealthy wanton impulses. MArt simply acts like a man in love. Yes, in love. Respectfully so. The type built on trust, compassion, and self-improvement. It is difficult to wrap my mind around it. No power struggles, no mind games? Our relationship exists in a gelatinous state of shifting flexibility. It is a quiet satisfaction and a personal triumph of independence within co-dependence. Except not. "Not," because we are not co-dependents at all -- there are no fake pronouncements that might bring us "closer together" nor pre-determined rituals feigned for the sake of security. In fact, when we eventually make our way off the mattress, I continue to play the role of the hapless spinster too proud to settle down (and he, the promiscuous artist of the starving kind). Of course, that might be because I am too much of a socialist to be an exhibitionist.

I suggested to MArt that my fear of dating might stem from my aversion to monotony. So we decided to combine my love of dress-up with novel activities when the chance to go out arises. Our first outing consisted of me in an outfit reminiscent of a Roman Holiday-era Hepburn, eating breakfast at an authentic '50s diner followed by an extended stop at a retro-themed ice cream shop complete with black and white checkered tiles and Richie Valens.

Simply said, there is no shortage of communication between us, and perhaps that is why my life is just that much richer with him.

But to be sure, still equally complete without.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

You gotta fight, for your right, to ... be employed

LUSH's Rubenesque manager (of the milky white, rosey-cheeked sort) regularly pesters me to work for her (granted, in a joking, unintrusive manner). I'm a bit reluctant because she turned down Readerdroid, and my skills are limited to the squat and point variety. But I would love to work a part-time shift and start earning my keep and rely less on my mother's saintly generosity. [*Update: That prospect seems to have to be pushed back because my marks just came in and there appears to be some A chips that are hankering to be cashed in at the Post-Natal Pavilion. Shocking, yes. But to whom?]

I'll only need it for the coming fall semester though because I have my eye on that TA position my kindly old professor offered me. (I totally backdoored it and fucked over proper applicants.) It's not that I believe working is a novel concept; my parents simply don't want anything to get in the way of my schooling. Understandable *cue sullen Soviet trumpeteering*. But mooching off them is getting to be a most tired enterprise and I don't necessarily feel proud of myself; it leaves a sordid taste in my (hyper-Dentyned) mouth. I've never exactly felt entitled to their big hearts, yet the fact remains: they don't want me working at no minimum wage-paying hole-in-the-wall (perched by a strip club, no less). So it seems that I have only one option: work in secret to wean myself from their bountiful teat. How urban 007!

That, or spend frivolously on eBay until they cut me off cold turkey. Sounds like a plan, marzipan.

***

I love the volume of female-as-protagonist movies out right now. I saw The Notorious Bettie Page a few weeks ago, starring the double-take-twin Gretchen Mol, and I'm probably going to go see Lady Vengeance by Old Boy-director Chan Wook Park tomorrow. Although, genres apart (the Mary Harron vehicle being a non-judgmental biopic), the polished core themes relish in grace and a noticeably feminine complexity. The people are flawed, yes. They are sympathetic, sure. They are portrayed the way any generically good character ought to be shown. But it is more than that. And simpler than that. What appears on celluloid is a kind of quiet optimism -- and bull-headed determinedness -- that idyllically unites women, if only cinematographically.

***

MArt teases me about not ever having watched Casablanca. Hey, I know it's always on television, but I don't do the tube. So he gleefully recites Bogie's lines to me in an effort to rub it in. ("That's Rosebud to you!" I feebly try countering with my Citizen Kane-o-dex.)

Wow, and with that, I just pieced together the reason he likes calling me, "kiddo." Man, sure took me long enough to figure out; I've always considered it curiously paedophiliac. The nickname's not too eye-roll inducing though: Who wouldn't want to be Lauren Bacall? Hubba, hubba.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Stand up, stand out

Ooh, how exciting! M called and requested that I be his main hair model for this weekend's show because my features look "stunning" on stage. Haha, cha ... right. Picture Joe Camel in a Liz Taylor wig and you're only half-way past Joe DiMaggio.

I don't know if this show is considered the big leagues des cheveux, but it's supposedly really uppity-oop. Located at a top tier hotel, attendees getting "piss drunk" afterwards, these factors alone seem to ooze, "Ka-ching, ka-ching. Mr. Belvedere is our bitch."

Anyway, I'm sort of hoping wardrobe is included because M told me a make-up artist will be kabuki-ing mon visage before the first event (I'm doing two) and I can always go for more statements of self-delusion. Nevertheless, the whole six yards is still something worth savoring. Mmm, the smell of superficiality. Me like.

I went to the FIDO store to get my phone fixed. [*Sidenote: The Frenchie who served me also threw in a new antenna. The entire rescue came up to be 0 dollars. Zip, zilch, nada. No surprise: a woman's currency is her cle ... charisma.] There was this dude seated in the waiting area, looked barely out of his teens, who tried to make eye contact as I took notes reading the International Herald Tribune (because I'm pretentious like that). Dressed head-to-toe in designer threads -- which included, but not limited to, Dior Homme peg legs and a classic LV messenger bag -- I found him still sitting where I last saw him when I returned to pick-up my walkie no-talkie son-of-a-bitch handset

So I chatted him up and found out his name's Tom. We ended up talking serious, serious shop. As in, fashion (ooh, bad pun). He's a first-year student in design school, sociable, and a mainstream brand whore (although maybe not as fanatical about it as I am; I was truly surprised he had no knowledge of Rochas nor the prodigy behind the helm, Olivier Theysken).

He confessed that the instant we crossed paths, the first thought that came to mind was, "Damn! Girl has style!" [Emphasis his.] I thanked him for the compliment, noting that unlike him, I cannot afford anything by Hedi Slimane, but just like him, eBay is my crack, cocaine, and horse tranquilizer all rolled up in a Venetian-blown pipe. I knew we clicked the moment he unconsciously bent over and felt the leather on my boots and nodded approvingly. "Hand-made. From Italy," I confirmed. "New in box, never worn. Internet bargain."

Okay, full stop. The moral of this here story is that I met my first Montreal socialite ("I just came back from partying in Paris for a week. I'm going back again in July") and hopefully -- fingers crossed -- his friendship will get my foot in the chi-chi proverbial door.

I'm almost 20 and have yet to accomplish anything significant. I need to start making contacts and parlay them into lucrative opportunities already! Can't you just see me 10 years from now, painting pebbles on the corner of a Mexican restaurant, and selling them as breakfast cereal sculptures?

God ... that would really suck. Yet, positively confirmed.

***

Sartorial coincidence, three degrees of separation: My hairdresser, M, is close friends with The Rakes, who appeared in the Dior Homme show, currently Tom's favourite band and brand. Now if only I can snag me an invite ...

A girl can dream. Or hustle. C'est la meme chose.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Inside the evil lair

As it stands, I still stubbornly refuse to relinquish the notion that what I have with MArt is illegit, whereas he is appeasing my every hesitation to prevent me from following through on my neurotic impulses (like running off in the cloak of night. Albeit, in Prada mules).

I don't want to leave him; he's my antipode. I like that he makes me feel completely at ease. An anchor of a man, mellow and forgiving, he's ... s'wonderful.

There is a crisis a-brewing in Lill(y)put, a problem of epic proportions: Life. is. freakin' perfect. I don't know when this 5-alarm, snore-a-thon happened. Between bankrupting my mother in my heedless quest for shoes and taking precautionary EC pills (because in Canada, pharmacists don't confuse their profession with the priesthood), who would have thought existential tides could be so tidy?

We were in the midsts of love-making when an unintentional laugh escaped from the chasms of his lungs.

"What were you thinking?" I asked.

"Nothing, nothing. It's stupid."

"What?" I insisted.

MArt looked at me ponderously from below, cocking his head to one side, and smiled meekly. I did the same and gently brushed hair from my eyes, waiting for his reply in a motionless standstill. He put his hands on my naked hips and warned me not to over-react. I nodded in anticipation of "beer," "hockey," or "Zelda."

"You're beautiful."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Glass

Foreplay lasts four hours.

The man is a beast.

I requested MArt's company at two this morning. He agreed after a bit of prodding. Dragging himself out of bed, he repeatedly rung the buzzer of some poor family living in an adjacent building before realizing he was at the wrong address.

He left half an hour ago. All 5'10" of him. I made him breakfast then kicked him out.

Sex with him is tremendously pleasurable. He is an extremely attentive lover. But I think he is beginning to get emotionally attached.

The twist: There's another woman.

Sort of.

MArt's friends - our friends - assure me she's just someone who cannot accept the demise of their relationship and continues to invite herself over.

Bullshit, I say with a chuckle.

"You're not the other-fucking-woman," MArt re-asserts.

"Then what is she?"

He looks down and rubs the back of his neck:

"Let's just say, she's not my girlfriend, but she would be very, very angry if I said she wasn't."

What does that even mean?

He spreads my legs.

"Shouldn't you be reporting this back to your woman?"

He digs into me deep, his beautiful saucer eyes holding my gaze with authentic adoration. "You're my woman." Pillow talk consists of one-liners hurled between political and artistic yarns.

He pulls out. I walk out. He pins me down. I struggle.

We joke, we laugh. He wants more. I ignore, capable of satiating only sexual appetite.

I fall asleep, against his heartbeat, inside his limbic cage.

Monday, May 15, 2006

"Woah, you taste like cocoa butter."

If everything is material, and everything is eventually recycled, then where does that leave consciousness?

I posed this question to MArt while we were in bed. We talked most of the night (after watching the Ah-nuld cheesefest, "Running Man") until I planted one on him:

"Maybe if we cut the girlfriend/boyfriend crap, I might not go running off like I did the rest," I suggested. "None of that, you know, typical stuff. Maybe then, I wouldn't be such a psycho."

He raised an eyebrow.

"Typical stuff, as in, dating?"

"Yes, exactly. Deal?"

"Deal."

I was listening to the shit I was feeding him beforehand and it dawned on me that I was just making excuses to dislike him. Physically, MArt is not my type: average height, average build, on the hairy side, a prototypical East Coaster. But mentally, I want to make love to him over and over again because the things he's well-versed in blows my mind - he is so intelligent. Not once did I feel the need to "explain" concepts, theories, anything to him - I've never been so at ease with anybody.

And the soundtrack to our heavy hanky panky? John freakin' Coltrane. Lord knows, I swooned.

I guess I took a lesson from NorIda and CatCouver (both of whom are having/had very good relationships with men less-than-aesthetically enviable): Wild men make for wild lovin'. Give them a chance.

MArt said something that implied I was out of his league. Hell, I've never met anyone as kind (and equally anal about good manners). So we're even.

"You know what this means?" I asked him as I rested my eight-pound head on his chest.

"What?"

"It means nice guys do win in the end. And psychos can too."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Deux semaines avant la fete des meres francaise!

Oh mommy, I do not squeeze money out of you like toothpaste.

A keg pump, maybe.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

Red tips

Readerdroid came by my place yesterday. She asked me how I was, and observed that among all her friends, I am the only one who always answers with a shopping list.

It's true. I do.

Santa's contemplating suicide.

Ever since I started actively using eBay (and how could I not? A pair of Guillaume Hinfray d'Orsays for one-fifth of the retail price? Vintage Schiaparelli in the original box? A private lot of Lanvin scarves serving no meaningful purpose? Spare me the lecture - these are my liquid assets), I've noticed a dip in my libido.

Not to say my libido was ever springing through the cracks like bathroom mildew, but it's never been hesitant to make a cameo appearance before, and lately it's been quieter than an on-duty NSA agent. That is, until late last night when I awoke to a tremendous ...

Ahem.

The point is, if I'm going to be addicted to something, it might as well be sartorial in nature. Sex requires the kind of persistence I'm awfully glad I don't possess. Italian-crafted footwear offer the taste with none of the calories, and what's more, you don't have to owe them an entire evening of entertainment ending in the corner of a bar lit by the remains of half-molten aromatherapy candles the chick with the lopsided boobs stole from the 99 cent store down the street from the Kama Sutra Castle which you frequented until the cops busted them for panda smuggling, prompting you pack your bags and fly to Haiti, building houses for "coloureds" in a moment of conscientious clarity helped along by the occasional tax break or ten.

The point is, my subconscious might be telling me something in dire need of attention and provocation. Perhaps it is saying ...

Eureka! Buy more shoes! Well, Mr. Suppressed Psyche, if you say so. No point resisting intuition - braver men have fought and failed.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Low light

My linguistics professor is sort of an effeminate man. Naturally, I assumed he was gay, which explained why I was also strangely drawn to him. I paid extra attention to his tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint slides during the course of the lecture, then suddenly, one after the other, my fantasies were vaporized:

Bombshell #1: "I have a daughter."

Hmm, not the best situation, I thought, but nothing I couldn't live with.

Bombshell #2: "The other day, my wife and I ..."

That's an obstacle a bit more challenging to maneuver around, but perhaps she's open-minded ...

Bombshell #3: "My son's just now starting pre-school."

Two kids?! Holy shit, how often does this guy sperminate? Still, I was convinced I could make it work - Gen-Xers are capable of getting freaky deaky with one eye closed while watering the lawn with the other. Rest assured, I wasn't detered.

That is, until he launched his fourth and final attack:

"I'm from Cape Breton."

Well, fuck me, that did it. It's one thing to be effeminate because you were raised near a Polish eatery run by hitchhiking beatniks in Williamsburg. It's another thing entirely when you were raised on whiskey and cod. Bah, married professors!

... sure can work a black tee over corduroys.

***

I bumped into Cuisiniere in my lobby today. He was, as you may recall, the last man I fucked and chucked. (Now, now, it was over a year ago - I'm no longer the same person I was then.) I haven't spoken to him since my European national cinemas class the prior summer. Seeing the guy wasn't awkward; it was actually quite comforting. The chemistry's still there and, from the looks of things, he wouldn't mind getting back together. (Although, to my credit, I was a five-alarm death star in leather and lace.) Talk about a lasting impression: that one-night stand prevented me from walking properly for two whole days.

Not that I complained.

***

Spent the evening at MArt's again, working on my painting. I had sushi delivererd. We watched Futurama. He wore his other hibiscus-printed shorts.

They glowed in the dark.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lonely is as lonely does, but still unwilling to settle

Okay, I was wrong. Apparently being asked to join the adult entertainment industry wasn't the strangest thing to happen to me during my week back home. Apparently being mistaken for my father's mistress is exponentially funnier.

"Who does he have with him?" the dim sum chef asked the waitress. "Look how he's parading her around knowing full well it'll get back to his wife."

Few people in the Chinese community know my parents have another child beyond my two siblings, so I am seldom recognized. The same people who used to be critical of my academic prowess ("Probably couldn't cut it in math," they'd tsk) now discuss my figure for fodder. How much I weigh, how small my waist, how "dainty" my feet appear in heels, everything is fair game for assessment. It's amazing the lengths people will go to avoid being engaging.

Now my mother is a true natural beauty: I have her smiling on my nightstand with immeasurable assurance. It is the face of limitless charity; I cannot compete. (*Editor's note: I become very sentimental whenever I bring her up. Layoff, it's a thing I have, like smothering breakfast items in ketchup and cutting phallic-shaped vegetables. What can I say? I love my mommy.)

***

Sacred and Profane Love (1515) by Titian

I don't know what to think. Techbiana's roommate, MArt, is smitten with me. He's inquisitive, attentive, and very quick - the first man to unabashedly reveal his affections for me without a hint of insecurity.

I am flattered, yet petrified.

The truth is, I hardly get approached by the male specie. Men ogle me, whisper vulgarities into my ear on the street, and gossip behind my back. They smirk, they fidget, some go out of their way to be rude, so I find it much easier to live a solitary existence than let those cowardly bastards castrate my self-esteem.

It is a special man who does not feel the need to put on airs with me.

MArt is a regular beer chugging Joe with a Canadian-bred obsession with hockey. And he's nice. So nice. And he's talented. A prolific peintre. And the least pretentious person I've met here. And I'm afraid.

Of a lot of things really. I'm afraid that he's idealizing me. My intelligence, my appearance, my walk, my talk, he has a high opinion of me that seems barely substantiable. I'm also afraid of what it would mean for my freedom: my mother has always told me to hold onto it for as long as I can. Furthermore, I don't date. I find it artificial, which is partly the reason why my mandate in the past has been fucking and fleeing. Cloistering myself away prevents me from encountering the possibility of acting on my impulses again.

MArt overlooks my superficial qualities: the exorbitant amount of shoes, the potty mouth, an inherent urge to stand out, and who knows what else?

I, on the other hand, cannot get pass his. He drinks, he smokes, he has Irish hair, and wears baggy hibiscus-printed shorts - I realize I'm nitpicking, but it can't be helped: He's just so Canadian. I'm resisting his overtures because rarely do men request my company without some sort of pretense. They keep me nearby for exhibition purposes (which encourages me to slip away unnoticed), and speak to me only to be spoken to (in an effort to appear more interesting).

This, you must realize, is disheartening. But I'm also not begging to be accepted; I loathe the sport of sponsorship. So my dilemma seems to lie between receiving someone without the hindrince of haughty inhibitions and holding out for "something better" because any combination of the two would just be immoral. (I *heart* Kant.)

It's the greener pastures theory with a twist: You can't expect me to be sensible if I've only ever been fed AstroTurf.