Wednesday, October 27, 2010

To whom am I speaking?

Wow, has it already been 7 years since I began writing into the ether? That's what you call time not well spent.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Underemployment

How many ways can my mother express her disappointment in my entire existence?

A lot, apparently.

a) She suggests going back to school

"What am I supposed to do? Get a degree in chemistry?"

"I laugh. Ha ha ha. They no accept you if you try!"

b) She reminds me about that loan I owe her

"Insurance woman call. She say, this year, more money. I ask you, where my money?"

c) She calls me for no reason

"So ... what you doing?"

"I'm working."

"Oh, but you no work anymore next week. So ... what you do after?"

d) She thinks I'm avoiding her

"You come back home this weekend?"

"No, I'm busy."

"Then you never come back forever! I no want you!" *dial tone*

e) She asks me about my successful med school/law school/professional school friends

"He do that? So good! He tall one, yes? You no like him?"

"Ma!"

"You, Paul, think like artist. What you do? Draw people, fun animal picture, doing the dancing outside the mall?"

Why, why, why?

Not 10-minutes ago, I got into a confrontation with a delivery van driver. I had to take something down to the offices of the Directors' Guild and quickly found a parking spot (a notoriously rare occurrence) soon after driving onto the street. I flipped on my signal to show my intention to back up, but the truck behind me gets thisclose to my bumper. So I rolled down my window and swung my hand back to gesture to the driver to "move back!" But he didn't budge. In fact, he shouted back that he was behind me. No shit, dickhead!

So I drove to the end of the street to do a 3-point turn. The trucker sticks his head out of his window and called me "the worst driver in Toronto!" I stared him down and in response, explained that "I had signalled to park, but you drove up behind me, so you can go fuck yourself!"

A few pedestrians stopped to look, while the meter maid from way out back surveyed the scene. The trucker drove away speechless, while I savoured my victory.

Why is it that some people have the courage to talk smack once they see that I'm a tiny Asian girl and can't beat them up? Do they assume I'd just take the abuse and serve them spring rolls?

*Note: Paul says I drop the prim-n'-proper-cashmere-cardigan act whenever I'm agitated or exuberant. In either case, I pull out my inner chola. Hold the eyebrows.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Worn Out

Slate published Maud Lavin's analysis of female aggression, as enacted by Helen Mirren, last Friday. I was reading the article, trying to come up with comparable characters, when I reached the third last paragraph and nodded emphatically. The author describes a scene in the series Prime Suspects, where Mirren plays Detective Jane Tennison reacting to a slight by a show antagonist:

In Prime Suspect's second episode of its first year, for instance, there is a tiny scene in an elevator in which a large male copper (who viewers already know dislikes Tennison) crowds her unnecessarily while pretending to be politely reaching for the panel of buttons. Tennison simply refuses to move or accommodate or do anything but stare—in a distinctly non-yogic, non-serene fashion—and make him reach awkwardly around her. It's these small graces of rudeness in the face of minute social plays for power that only Mirren could have pulled off so well. Source


"Minute social plays for power." My eyes lingered on those words for a beat and it occurred to me that I encountered just that at a gas station last month.

The cashier was confused about my pump card as it belongs to the production account. As he was fiddling around with the paperwork, a large man stepped behind me in the queue and waited impatiently. He looked about 6 ft 4 in, was wearing a leather motorcycle jacket, and his face was lined and pockmarked like James Hetfield.

His hand nudged my shoulder as he put down a small bag of chips and a carton of milk on the counter in front of me.

I looked up at him. "Don't touch me," I said.

He said his hands were full.

I glanced at the two items, now fully aware what he was doing as there was plenty of space around me.

"Ask me nicely," I continued, sternly, "but don't touch me."

Well, he stammered, he said excuse me, but I gave him a dirty look.

"You can ask me nicely," I repeated coolly, "but don't touch me." I then proceeded to say good night to the cashier and walked out.

The cashier had been watching this play out and grimaced nervously the entire time. "Minute social plays for power" is right. Just because you're impatient doesn't mean you can punish me for holding you up. It's the small humiliations of daily life that grind us down and people like him lack the discipline to behave otherwise.

These people can kiss my ass.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Culture Clash

Paul's cousins are visiting from Russia. One of them, Boris, developed a huge blistery cold sore on his lower lip. We were all at dinner last week when everyone thought it would be a good idea to swap drinks to try out the different variety of beers the pub brewed on-premise.

Boris, arm outstretched, motioned for Paul. Paul, drink in hand, raised his eyebrow in confusion. Boris continued motioning for him.

"What do you want?" Paul asked.

"Your drink," came the answer.

Paul froze, looked down at his glass, then up at the crusty red wound on his cousin's lip.

"But you have the herpes!" Paul exclaimed, pointing at Boris with an accustory finger. A strange silence swept across the table.

His cousin's expression fell and waved his hand to attract the waitress's attention. "Can I have ... a straw?" he inquired.

"For what?" asked Paul.

Boris shrugged: "To drink your beer."

When the straw came, he plopped it in Paul's glass, and got to drink the raspberry concoction he'd wanted.

As we were lying in bed that night, he explained how blasé Russian people are in regards to contracting these things. "Even with the straw, I'm worried he might've given it to me."

And by proxy, ME! Crapppppp!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Don't you hate people like this?

Paul's parents and a family friend invited us to see Banana Shpeel by Cirque du Soleil.

From the opening number until the intermission, three women sitting behind me would not stop talking. They would pepper every act with their nuanced observations, like, "She's petite!" "That's a sexy dress she has on," "Ouch, that must hurt!" "They used a trap door," "It's funny because he was about to walk that way. Wait, no, he's changed his mind."

On and on it went. Their "conversation" (in name, not content) was as tedious as it was agitating. Medically-speaking, I should have no molars by now.

During the break, Paul's mom gently requested that they refrain from speaking during the second half. She was met with indignation and mild racism. Paul's mom has, albeit, a strong Russian accent, but bitch please, she did not need a lecture on proper word usage when addressing strangers. A self-satisfied smirk was glued on the woman's face when Paul's mom left to spend the rest of the break in the lobby.

Once she was out of sight, I turned around and reaffirmed what had been previously said, explaining that her actions and those of her companions' were distracting to me and Paul as well.

This really riled them up and all three of them got in my face, their Jamaican Patois slipping ever more casually into the conversation. They said the show was a "circus" (even though we were all sitting on velvet seats near crystal chandeliers) and part of the "circus" atmosphere involved talking with no restrictions.

"There's no plot," one said, "so you don't need to concentrate that hard."

"We're theatre people," another added. "Do your research: It's how people behave everywhere else!"

"Anyway," she said, grimacing, "if you were paying attention to the show, you wouldn't even hear us talking."

WTF?! I told her she had every right to enjoy herself but she didn't have to narrate everything she saw as "we're all watching it at the same time."

This back and forth lasted another minute or two until Paul told me to cool off before I lose my point. He gave me a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and whispered that he'd talk to them instead. In a calm, clear voice, he explained why having conversations would be distracting to audience members sitting near them (many of whom agreed with us). Yet they yelled over him and told him it was he who was mistaken.

The Queen Bee of the bunch repeatedly interrupted him by rolling her eyes and telling him she didn't have to listen to a word he said because he wasn't her father!

These were grown ass women in their 40s and 50s! They were incredibly defensive and immature. I was absolutely fuming!

The theatre usher eventually came over to explain to them that talking during the show is unacceptable as it is a nuisance and a distraction, but their passive/aggressive cattiness continued for another 15-minutes. One of them loudly proclaimed that complaining behind someone's back is a "Canadian thing" (as she and her cohorts were from the States). She implied that we were all uncultured or we would've known better than to challenge her since live commentary is positively encouraged by the rest of the world. Alas, if only we would travel outside our national borders for once.

Jaw clenched, I barely enjoyed the second portion of the show. The chattering ceased, but I reeled from the confrontation until the overhead lights came up and Paul escorted me to the sidewalk. Rainy and wet, I drove home telling myself Paul had been right all along: ill-mannered people suck and that's why we cuddle at home :)