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.