If they’re still standing after all these years, are they more Viagara Falls than anything?

It took under two days of having Mum and Dad around for stuff to get fixed at the house.

Apparently the solution to squeaky door hinges, if you don’t have the catch-all panacea of WD40, is cooking oil spray. Do a quick jot of oil on each hinge, both sides. Open and close the door a bunch of times to work the oil through. Then wipe it down. Dad got gripped by the compulsion to sort out the guest bedroom and took that notion to every other door we have. I dunno, maybe he was planning some twilight espionage and wanted to obfuscate his tracks. He’s in Toronto, I’m not sure what mischief he’d get up to. Most everything shuts at last call. Plus, it’s Dad. If he had his way he’d be in bed for 9.30 each night.

We’ve ixnay’d on the mischief, but we’ve been busy. Lots of food and exploration. I think I’ve had four meals out in the past three days (with another in the next few hours). It’s a lot. I don’t dine out all too commonly under my usual schedule. Mum and Dad are on holiday and I’m pretty sure they have less than zero interest in cooking. *Shrug*. I guess I’ll suffer through restaurants? At the same time it’s exciting to introduce my parents, my globe trotting parents, to all new cuisines. I mentioned the Korean. I’m also super keen to put some Ethiopian in front of them. If you haven’t tried it, Ethiopian is the best. You have a big ol’ piece of injera (spongy bread) covering the plate, with little piles of food. There are assorted vegetable and meat dishes. Exciting new spices and flavours. You tear off a piece of injera with your hand and use it to grab some of the pile, then you shove that into your mouth. No cutlery. It’s a neat experience and I’m deeply in love with most everything served.

It’s interesting trying to figure out what parts of the city are parent appropriate. Not in a my parents are sheltered kind of way. They’re not. They aren’t fussy travellers. Given our drastically different socioeconomic concerns, I’ve been remarkably surprised at how fussy they’re not. That said, we do have different tastes and standards. With the abundance of options in Toronto and limited number of days they’re here, they can only do so much. Or rather, they can only do not much. Are there touristy things they’d enjoy? If we only have a couple of brunches, where should they go? I basically never dine anywhere that requires a reservation. We discovered last night to our chagrin that Saturday evening is a night that almost across the board needs booking in advance. At least for anywhere halfway decent. So we couldn’t get into Ethiopian. Or Persian. Quick, cheap tacos though? El Trompo Tacos deserves a shout out. Unpretentious, tasty and incredibly fast from order to table. It was exactly what we wanted and a crazy cheap meal for four people. I think with drinks it came out to $33. Unreal.

We did hit the height of touristy today and drove out to Niagara Falls. Sure, it’s touristy, but like The Grand Canyon, there’s a reason for it. The falls were a marvel and a half. “The Canadian Falls”, known otherwise as the Horseshoe Falls, were colossal. An unbelievable amount of water flowing. I think one of the announcements mentioned 75,000 gallons of water per second. PER SECOND. Think of every shower you’ve had in your entire life. This is exponentially more water than that. I think. I did zero maths, but I’m trusting my guts on this one. We took one of the little boats out to see them close up. They handed us dainty ponchos with drawstring hoods and we proceeded to get soaked. Awe inspiring would be an appropriate term. As cool as it looked from the top, especially seeing the deep green hues of the water, it had nothing on being at its feet. The force was incredible. We still had some distance, but there’s nothing so humbling as witnessing something that makes you feel entirely insignificant. I thought for one full second about whether or not I’d be able to survive in the churning white water. By the end of that second I’d surmised zero percent chance of survival. The water spray was incredible. It damn near blocked out the sky, pulling you into vision bordering on a white out. The town around the falls themselves was hokey stimulation overload, but holy hell were the falls themselves impressive?

To answer my question, yes. Yes they were.

Colour them surprised

“You’re hard to shop for, because I know you don’t like colours.”
“Nope, I like colours now.”
“But you don’t really wear them out, right?”
“Yeah, I do. I wear colours a lot.”
“But not during the day…”
“My basic dress code is pretty colourful. It’s pretty much some colourful trousers and a colourful shirt on rotation.”
“Well I guess I don’t really know you anymore.”

My parents are here and, by this point in my life, I’ve become my own person. It’s not like I haven’t been an adult around them before, but it feels different this time. They’re in unfamiliar terrain and it happens to be my turf. They’ll always be my parents and have that above me, but it feels the closest to even footing it’s ever been. Which is nice. For all of us, I think. We’re all old enough and ugly enough to take care of ourselves and they no longer need to parent. Their job is done. I mean, it’s not like they’ll ever be able to totally let go of it, but they’re more hobbyist parents now. They do it for their own fulfillment, not obligation.

The best part is that now I’m the one who gets to introduce them to new experiences. Last night they got to try Korean cuisine. They weren’t working from a totally blank palette. New Zealand has a burgeoning Korean population and they both have Korean friends. But they’d tried Korean BBQ, rather than standard Korean fare. I figured starting them off with bibimbap was a safe bet. It’s hard to go wrong with meat, vegetables and rice. I got to enjoy my usual pork bone soup at my favourite place. As always it was an effortless, quick meal (effortless was a weird choice of words. Aren’t most restaurants effortless? Isn’t that the point of *not cooking*? -Ed) with the usual friendly staff. We got to shoot the shit. I heard how their holiday has been going and we kind of caught up. Ish. They’re here for two weeks. There’s no real rush.

We tucked back home to drink and brainstorm on what to do today. Man oh man, is Toronto ever crammed with options. There are places to walk, endless things to look at whether indoors or outdoors. There’s history and newer developments. There are activities and vistas, or activities based on vistas. So many local neighborhoods ooze with flavour. There are infinite restaurants and at least thousands of good ones. The hardest part is just making your mind up. We had a shitter of a time deciding where to brunch, primarily because there are too many appealing spots. We worked out a rough plan of coffee, brunch, a walk around the Scarborough Bluffs, afternoon lunch then maybe recuperating before seeing Chris Gerhard perform in the early evening. By any metric, that’d be a phenomenal Saturday. Even better when I get to show off my home to my parents.

I mean, I’m basically a whole new person for them to meet. I wear colours now and everything.

And now Che Fu is stuck in my head

I ran into someone on the train today.

Names are tough. The last two sentences seem mutually exclusive. They’re not. The “someone” was a guy from my office. Nice dude, we’ve chatted in the kitchen a bunch. I was absentmindedly reading and he tapped me on the shoulder. We hadn’t really had an in-depth conversation before, but it was swell. We talked about Toronto, places we’d love to travel and a bunch of podcasts. I’d had no idea he wrote fiction in his spare time. It was cool to deepend my knowledge of this guy. One big thing I never knew was his name. Every time we chatted I pointedly didn’t even try. He told me once a year or so ago. It was long lost to the aether. I was too embarassed to ask. You can get a remarkable distance without learning someone’s name. What’s a name but consonants and vowels, anyway? I lucked out. Once we got to work he emailed me a list of the podcasts he’d suggested. Safe.

That wasn’t the weird thing. The guy is slightly dark skinned. One of his parents is Carribean. Not really relevant to our conversation. Except that some old woman felt it was necessary to chime in. She interrupted our chat, leaned in and said “just wanted to say, it’s nice to see that you’re speaking English. I can’t understand what you’re saying, but that’s great.” We both stood there, kinda shellshocked. Shaken, we stumbled through some semblance of sentences. A minute later she made some kind of hand signal to a black woman wearing headphones. I didn’t catch it, but I think she was trying to tell her she liked her hair or something. Fucking weird. Incredibly out of touch. I’m sure it was more a dottery old woman trying to be nice than anything else. Still, it was entirely bizarre. It’s the sort of conduct that will die off with older generations. She probably thought she was being really progressive. Is it the thought that counts?

I do wonder in which ways I’ll become slowly out of touch as I age. I already know I’m not 100% on point with my social media knowledge. I peaced out of Snapchat quickly and still primarily use Facebook. I just don’t see the appeal. I get it, I just don’t like it. I still have a bug up my arse about reality TV and that’s been an institution for going on probably 20 years by now. There’s so much out there that does sound rad, but I’ve just figured myself too far behind to catch up. Minecraft, Hearthstone, Fortnite. For the longest time I distanced myself from streaming in lieu of downloading. I still find myself reticent to use Bluetooth instead of hardwired technology. I just don’t… trust it? My assumption is that it hasn’t become a reliable option yet. Bluetooth has been a standard function for how long? I don’t even know current pop music, which makes sense. It’s not targeted towards me. Still, you’d think I’d know what a DJ Khaled or Post Malone song sounded like. I’m telling you, I couldn’t recognise them if they played. That’s not something to be proud of, no matter whether or not I’d enjoy them. Ignorance is not a strength.

I’m sure tomorrow I’ll shit the bed on something related to gender. Ugh, I can feel my relevance draining by the minute.

I need my slippers and pipe, stat!

The giggle economy

I think I’m basically done with JFL42 this year.

That sounds like a pretty insubstantial statement, but it’s not. It’s a massive sign of growth. I’m becoming a responsible adult. I’m refusing to stay out late and suffer through the hollow feeling of insufficient sleep day after day. I’ve got stuff to do. I have a job and I need to take care of myself. Every year I’ve done 3-4 shows a night, hopped up on caffeine and excitement. I’ve been a wreck throughout the sunlight hours, then lather, rinse, repeat watched more shows. I’m tired of burning the candle at both ends for this week. Yes, this week. All I have is one show on Saturday that I’m gonna go to with my parents. I’ve also seen fewer shows this time around than I generally do. Last year it was 34 altogether. I think this year I’ll top out at 19. I’ve been cancelling the 11pm gigs this time, instead seeing a more reasonable two shows in an evening. Like a bonafide adult.

For so long with this festival, the draw card was buying a pass and hitting as many shows as possible. Taking advantage of the all you can see comedy. Getting the most “value” out of my pass. The thing is, I’m starting to learn more about value as I age. It’s relative. That’s the biggest thing. When I couldn’t afford to go out and see shows, having a smorgasbord of acts was amazing. By this point in my life I have other concerns. I like being able to spend time home alone or hanging out with my girlfriend. I’m learning to appreciate not running myself ragged constantly. With JFL42 for so long I was convinced that I had to catch ’em all. That the essential festival experience was ending up with an informed perspective on everyone I could possibly see. A lot of that was the reviewing. Since I was trying to wrap up and qualify the festival for an audience, I felt like it was my duty to amass a wealth of knowledge. The more I knew, the better I could serve them. It’s my fourth year. I’m older. I actually paid for my pass this year. I understand that I really don’t have to know everything. It’s okay to miss out on things. That not doing something doesn’t necessarily mean you are missing out. Value, once again, is relative.

I used to love buffets. Still do. All you can eat always seemed like a challenge. The goal was to stuff myself full of delicious tastes and get maximum value. Every time I’d go I’d feel borderline sick. Didn’t matter, patterns did not change. More recently my view of buffets has changed. You know what’s cool about buffets? The variety. Getting to choose from an enormous selection of things that’d be incredibly time consuming to prepare myself is a real treat. I’m still terrible with portion control, but I’m less often going back for a fifth plate. At 31, do you know what’s great for me? Trying an assortment of great food. Do you know what sucks? Holding my stomach in agony, spending hours in the bathroom and basically writing off the rest of the day. Is that value? For me now, value comes in quality experiences, not quantifying them in dollar amounts. You’ve paid the same cost no matter how much you eat. A dollar value doesn’t exist, but an enjoyable experience sure can. How would you define that?

So you know what? I’m having a home cooked meal tonight and a full evening’s rest. That sounds like a hell of a good time right now.

Passage advice

Do you ever feel like JUST ONCE you’d like to be hanging out in some eccentric dude’s mansion and leaning against a bookshelf which rotates and you find yourself in a basement face to face with a naked clone of yourself submerged in a glass cylinder then you hear voices so you duck behind a pillar and hear the eccentric dude and some unearthly being talking about their evil plan and you get overheard after your lucky coin rolls out of your pocket and the evil duo come after you and you’re terrified of the monster’s blue pupil-less eyes but just then your clone’s eyes snap open and it breaks through the cylinder and it interposes itself between you and the villains and says something poignant like “RUN. Live the life I never could” and so you do and hear a huge explosion behind you, then you come to hours later streetside with the place burned to the ground and an ambulance worker wrapping a blanket around you saying how lucky you were to live through that freak gas main explosion and you’re put on a stretcher and taken away as comforting chimes play in the background then the EMT opens his eyes and they’re both blue and pupil-less and the camera cuts to black and a demonic laugh is heard?

MUST BE NICE is all.

I dunno. A big part of me clearly wishes I led a life less ordinary, but I think deep down I know that if the call to adventure had my number I’d probably shit the bed and go back to sleep instead. I feel like I’m naturally risk averse. It’s not that I’m incapable of great things. Just that I naturally assume in most situations that my accomplishments will be less than great and avoid the situations instead. Thing is, in most movies they rarely give you a grounding for what life looks like after a grand adventure. How do you go back to working in a cubicle after seeing people murdered by unfathomable horrors or their own martyrdom? No matter how open the office plan, surely you’d feel trapped by ongoing PTSD? Part of the whole ordeal is returning to where you once were having changed, right? The greater the challenge, the more severe the change I’m sure. Would your relationships, both romantic and platonic, be able to weather the internal sundering of who you once were? Why don’t we see the cameras rolling on the breakdown and familial dissonance? Look at me. I’ve never had an adventure in my life and I’m already looking forward to living The Hurt Locker.

Complacency is a hurdle all of its own. I’ve never leapt from the security of a job without somewhere stable to land. Sure, it’s the smart thing to do, but it has a habit of whittling you down. I see friends who freelance or step boldly forward into the unknown. Where does that strength come from? Confidence? Desperation? Are they just skilled at hiding their terror? You know what? Stuff usually works out alright. It may be rocky for a while, but they persevere and come out with mere scratches and scrapes. Do we all shortchange ourselves? Do we deserve more credit? Are humans the resilient cockroaches I think they are? Am I asking these rhetorical questions fully aware of the answer, but still unwilling to enact and embrace change?

Who can say?

You know what though? The next time I lean against a bookcase and find myself in a hidden passage, I’m taking it.

Baby steps.

If you still read this, hi. See you in a few days

My parents are arriving in three days. It’s weird.

To be clear, it’s not weird in an unexpected kind of woah, how did these two aged humans manage to navigate hemispheres through sheer force of will and arrive in Toronto of all places? weirdness. It’s not weird that, post retirement, they’d want to take a holiday. It’s not even weird that they’d be interested in visiting their one child that has yet to procreate and give parents the one currency they desire over all: grandchildren and lineage extension. Hell, I think by now they like me, or at least they’ve gotten over the ludicrous sums it cost to raise what was once barely more then a sentient house plant. So it’s not THAT weird.

But it’s weird.

It’s weird because, for the first time in my life, my parents are gonna be under my roof. That’s weird, right? These people stopped me from dying thousands of times. They’d tuck me into bed and wash my little baby body. They fed me and instilled me with values like manners are important and people can love whoever they love irrespective of gender and that’s not weird. They created and enforced boundaries to help me become an adult with some scant clue about navigating a world that only cares about what you can do for it. Yet they’re gonna be under my roof, where my rules apply? Yeah, good fucking luck pulling rank, buddy. Not that I know any reason why I would. It’s not like we really have house rules, but if I ever felt like I needed to? Geez, I dunno.

I love my parents and by now I’m pretty sure I know then decently well. But what if I don’t know my parents, y’know? I’m pretty sure they’re reasonably socially liberal, but what if there are friction points? What if we’re so far entrenched in different bubbles of community that our views have tectonic instability? Will I have to spell out what privilege is? Or relate things that just aren’t acceptable now? Concepts of non gender binary or anything? There’s no way they’d know, right? Which doesn’t speak to ignorance on their part, but that things have drastically changed over time and it’s hard to care about that stuff as you age. I know, I care less about general whatnot than I did at age 20. Why should they give a shit post retirement? Or will I just swallow my tongue and let stuff slide? Figure if they were gonna change with the times, they would’ve made that decision on their own? They’re intelligent people and it’s not like they don’t grok things, but maybe they have views that *are* egregious in this day and age? I don’t know. The last time I spent physical time around them was around 17 months ago. If I did speak up about something they said would they accept my perspectives? Or brush anything off that the flesh lump they saved from cot death tried to teach them as condescending?

Even if I’m gonna give my parents enough credit, which they very much deserve, what about my extended family? We’re going to a big family gathering in Montreal. What if relatives I’ve never met as an adult start spouting off bullshit middle class white racism? “I was at the local market the other day and I noticed that nearly all the signs are in Korean. I feel like we’re the minority now.” That kind of thing. Also almost verbatim actual words a relative of mine has said. We don’t talk much. After a few glasses of wine I’m not gonna bother trying to hold my tongue. Is a family gathering even a good idea? It’s not high on my list of priorities, that’s for sure.

My girlfriend and I are also hosting a dinner for both our families to meet. THAT is gonna be weird as shit. Very different people. I don’t see any conflict happening, just a bizarre mish mash of assorted values and perspectives. It’s potluck, so at worst we can just talk about the food.

What if they get here and it suddenly makes me realise that yes, they are old? We’re all going to die and that’s a slow process. What if mortality is all that’s running through my mind? We’re having a mean and I’m thinking is this the last time I’m gonna have eggs Benedict with my parents? Or is the drive back from Montreal gonna be our last time in a car together? Who knows. You may call this excessively morbid, but all I know is my parents once picked me up for the last time without knowing it.

Yeah. It’s weird. I’m looking forward to seeing them though. It should be nice.

And to think I woke up with no opinion on this song whatsoever

I was thinking about “The Girl from Ipanema” this morning. It’s basically just an unremarkable dude writing a song about feeling entitled to a gal he was oogling.

Thing is, he must have a bunch of albums. ‘Cause the kind of dude who gets so bent out of shape by a woman ignoring him probably gets ignored by a ton of women.

I expressed the above on Facebook today and one of my friends chimed in. He said, rightfully so, that there’s a lot of problematic stuff in past pop music, but as far as he’s concerned this song gets a pass. Who hasn’t felt the pangs of unrequited infatuation? Of wanting to talk to someone you take a fancy to, but being too afraid to say a word. This is undeniably true.

That said, the song still kinda felt a bit iffy to me and I started to think why. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with checking someone out in public. We all do it and anyone who says otherwise is probably lying. Checking someone out, in my mind, is a cursory glance or two. It’s not quite staring so intently at them you look through them and into the void. It’s not lingering unnecessarily enough that you gauge how similar the rhythm of their walk is to a musical genre. If you’re glowering at them day by day and you never make eye contact, maybe there’s a reason. People have a decent amount of peripheral cataloguing. I have no doubt that this girl- nay, woman- knows that dudes are watching her. It even says in the song that when she passes by, they go “ah!” The fact that they’re making actual exultations does not sit well with me. She knows where she’s sashaying (to the sea) and she’s pointedly staring straight ahead. This further underscores that she understands she’s being watched. She sounds single-mindedly focused, which may imply she’s had bad experiences in the past and just wants to get where she’s going. Then there’s this dude pining in the background studying her every movement thinking “how can I tell her I love her?” Love her? You’ve never met her, let alone loved her. You don’t know a thing about her, but you’re in love with her? You’re not in love with her, you’re attracted to her or infatuated by her. You’re not in love.

To be entirely honest, I have a ton of issues with the way love is represented in a wider sense. In so many movies (and not just romcoms, but especially romcoms), people “fall in love” for the sake of a plot. What they term as “love” I feel is closer to just infatuation. Maybe I have commitment issues, but love means a lot more to me than being attracted to someone pretty. I can like being around someone, be attracted to them and enjoy the chemistry, but that’s not love. Your mileage may vary, but love to me feels earned. Love is something that kind of takes hold when you realise that person is a large part of your life. Love is knowingly embracing the fact that your significant other has shortcomings. It’s not seeing the rosy ideal of how that person fulfils your needs. Love is when you want to go out of your way to take care of someone because them feeling better makes you happy. Love is picking ingrown hairs or shitting with the door open. Love is having the hard conversations without taking shots or one-upping each other. It’s understanding that there’s the option to cut and run, but there’s something larger worth preserving and working on that as a team. That seems like love to me.

Shoehorning romance into a plot or song as a way to make it easily palatable feels lazy and uninspiring. Stop using romance as a seasoning when it’s a veritable meal on its own.

ALSO after doing a bit of research and math, the “girl” in question was 17 at the time. The songwriters were 35 and 49.

Fuck this song. That girl dodged a bullet.