Can I just

share one of my all-time-favourite received compliments:

“I’ll always remember you with stars in your eyes.” — L, 2004

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Whut

I was in a classroom, and the students were taking turns doing their group presentations, and I was in a group with Ish and two other girls I don’t remember. Ish walked up to the front and started presenting, while I and the other two groupmates remained seated, but Ish wasn’t alone up there because there were like a dozen other people, I don’t know who, and then suddenly the aisle to my right caught everyone’s attention because there was a pool of blood, and everyone was freaking out, and Ish and I tried to clean it up but there was too much, and then suddenly for some reason it was time to go to the next class, and I don’t know what happened to the blood, and then I was standing outside the door, looking back in, and the professor, Eden, was standing inside, looking out at me, and I said, “I don’t want to go,” and she said “4:30” and I said “okay”.

And then I was on my bike, riding past crowds on narrow streets, and riding up and down small, grassy hills, and even up and down stairs, and then some student asked me, “Is it faster that way?” And I said, “it’s about the same,” and then I ran into Tonet and KE, and Tonet was in a marigold-coloured baro’t saya, and she had just come from a dance recital or something, and she was excitedly telling me about it, but I had to go.

And then I was in a bookstore, sitting next to Eden, who was talking about how to negotiate wages, and then a woman walked up and said to her, “You told me you were busy but you’re just here discussing contracts with that girl? You’re treating her like a colleague, but me — an actual colleague — you turned me down.”

(And then I woke up. And then I went back to sleep.)

I was in a car, in the passenger’s seat, and Eden was driving. It was night-time. Laurie and Mae were texting me about our previously arranged dinner plans. They were already at the restaurant. I replied, saying I was going to be late (obviously). I checked the time and saw that it was 10 pm. I figured I should text my parents, tell them I was having dinner after a long day of schoolwork, but before I could do that, the car pulled up at the restaurant, and we got out. We walked in to find my friends, and we said hello, and Mae was down to her last slice of pizza, and we didn’t actually sit with Mae and Laurie and the rest of them, because we got our own table. I decided I wanted fried chicken.

(And then I woke up.)

Apparently it’s a Frank Sinatra evening

I love how music (or art in general) can whisk me off to a different place and time. I’ve listened a few times now to The Night is Young and You’re So Beautiful and Strangers in the Night. (All titles link to Frank Sinatra versions on YouTube.) The room I’m in seems filled with the air of Old Hollywood, and everything is in greyscale, including the Mickey Mouse cartoon playing on the television. The setting is ripe for reminiscences.

When I was six, I had a small piano keyboard and a book of piano sheet music for beginners. Strangers in the Night was one of the first songs I learned to play (just the melody, since it was a book for beginners). Another song I remember playing from the book is The Girl from Ipanema. My grandfather liked Frank Sinatra.

I’m listening to The Way You Look Tonight now, and I’m thinking that it was a good job, figuring out how to play songs on the piano from a book at age six.

And now it’s Moon River playing, and I remember how every “that was a good job” came as “well of course you should always do a good job, otherwise what’s the fucking point of you? Are you just going to be a worthless piece of shit all your life?” 

Now it’s Are You Lonesome Tonight playing, and I know that that six-year-old girl won’t have any measure of self-worth until she’s much older.

And now it’s You’ll Never Walk Alone playing, and my heart aches for her.

Explain “could”

Ish donated blood, and Joey donated blood. I watched the nurse inject the syringe into Joey’s arm three times in the same place. She was bleeding out pretty bad from the needle hole. Afterwards, Ish and Joey both changed their Facebook profile pictures to ones that showed the post-donation bandages on their arms. And then my brother also donated blood. He bled out pretty bad, too, and the nurse had to attach some cables onto his arm — cables that connected the veins from his shoulder to his wrist, bypassing the needle hole entirely. And then I found myself at a Foo Fighters concert in the Philippines, and Monica and Chandler surprised Dave Grohl by getting on the stage. Yes, Monica and Chandler, not Courteney and Matthew. Monica was wearing a black lace dress. Chandler was wearing a black shirt and a red silk skirt. It was kind of a strange concert; there was a giant dragon head above the stage, and Dave Grohl seemed confused. After the concert, I was backstage, looking for the band. I didn’t get to see them. They were in a private room with a group of young female high-school students — some sort of meet-and-greet, I guess. So I just decided to leave the auditorium. Before reaching the doors, I noticed I wasn’t wearing my trainers. I backtracked, running, and I saw this guy who said he found my shoes. He threw them towards me. I put them on and left the building. Outside, there was an expansive field of grass. As I was walking, this girl came up to me and said she knew I wasn’t in the technical support department, but she needed help with a customer. She led me to what looked like a computer lab in a school, where there were computers of various shapes and sizes and languages and brands I had never heard of. The customer was there, a girl about my age. She had her tablet with her. She was with her mother. The customer wanted live-streaming stock quotes. She explained she had already subscribed to receive that service, but she wasn’t getting them. I said I’d check out her tablet for her. I did a screen print, and it appeared her tablet was showing only the left half of what it should’ve been showing on the screen. We tried the computers in the lab, but we couldn’t get any of them to work. They were either incomprehensible or too slow. One of the computers had a Google search page up. The last search was “explain ‘could'” under the “Korean filter” search setting. I took this to mean that a Korean person was searching for the meaning of “could” in Google. Anyway I told the customer I couldn’t help her. And then I woke up.

Dreams

I had a dream I was in a big house, at least four storeys high, with lots of yard space. There was a party being thrown by a publisher. It was more like a college party than an Oscars afterparty. The publisher held a contest for writers. I was one of the winners; I was going to have my book published. The publisher wanted the title of my book to be my name (four letters to be printed sideways, in gold font, on the white jacket cover). Lips was there; she won too. Wait, it was either Lips or Dianne from work. Jam was there, but she was mostly attending to a newborn baby. Sol and Tonet were both helping me design something, perhaps the cover of my book, perhaps not, I’m not sure. They each showed me a blue-and-white circular pattern that resembled first nations symbols. Joey and Dana were there too.

Vancouver International Film Festival

Film: The Natural Phenomenon of Madness (Philippines, 2011, 135 minutes)
About: a broken relationship
VIFF website says it’s: sharp, visually arresting, it’s unlike any other Filipino indie
I think it’s: technically well done, but dragging

Film: The Sandman (Switzerland, 2011, 88 minutes)
About: a man who is leaking sand
VIFF website says it’s: part “Eternal Sunshine…”, part Kafka and wholly unique
I think it’s: very entertaining and creative

Film: Headshot (France, Thailand, 2011, 105 minutes)
About: a cop turned hitman turned monk
VIFF website says it’s: smart, original and very, very stylish
I think it’s: good, solid

Film: White (South Korea, 2011, 106 minutes)
About: a pop girl group recording a cursed song
VIFF website says it’s: a zappy horror thriller
I think it’s: scary enough, but it explained itself too much

Film: Box Man Hong Kong Lonely Heart (Canada, HK, Australia, 2011, 4 minutes)
About: a man in a box meets a woman in a bag
VIFF website says it’s: charming
I think it’s: pointless

Film: Advanced Cybernetics (USA, 2011, 4 minutes)
About: a sentient computer on an empty spacecraft
I think it’s: a purely visual experience

Film: Bike Race (USA, 2010, 13 minutes)
About: a bike race and a love triangle
I think it’s: good, entertaining

Film: Friday Night Tights (USA, 2010, 4 minutes)
About: a male dancer
I think it’s: fun

Film: Lose This Child (Israel, 2011, 4 minutes)
About: a newly hatched sea turtle
VIFF website says it’s: a music video
I think it’s: really good

Film: The Man with the Stolen Heart (UK, 2011, 8 minutes)
About: a man who lost his heart
VIFF website says it’s: a surreal oil-painted tale
I think it’s: not telling or showing me anything new

Film: Moving Day (Australia, 2010, 9 minutes)
About: a little girl who finds bad fairies
I think it’s: well done, with a cool story

Film: The Nest (UK, 2011, 12 minutes)
About: a daughter and her overbearing mother
VIFF website says it’s: an amazing oil painterly animated world
I think it’s: beautiful

Film: Out of Erasers (Denmark, Sweden, 2011, 15 minutes)
About: a strange new epidemic
I think it’s: good, creative

Film: Outside In (Austria, 2011, 6 minutes)
About: a suicidal ogre
VIFF website says it’s: actually an old man, not an ogre
I think it’s: interesting

Film: Brick Novax’s Diary (USA, 2010, 16 minutes)
About: an international supercool legend
VIFF website says it’s: about an amazing, crazy, multifaceted life
I think it’s: really funny

Film: Dreileben: Beats Being Dead (Germany, 2011, 88 minutes)
About: a nurse and a hotel maid
VIFF website says it’s: one film in a fascinating, sensational three-film project
I think it’s: a good love story, a film that could stand on its own

Film: Dreileben: Don’t Follow Me Around (Germany, 2011, 88 minutes)
About: friends finding out they dated the same guy
VIFF website says it’s: one film in a fascinating, sensational three-film project
I think it’s: not really value adding

Film: Dreileben: One Minute of Darkness (Germany, 2011, 90 minutes)
About: an escaped convict
VIFF website says it’s: one film in a fascinating, sensational three-film project
I think it’s: a good sad story

Rick Rypien

Hockey player Rick Rypien, born in 1984, was found dead in his home on Aug. 15. The death was deemed sudden, but there is no suspicion of foul play. It is widely believed to be a suicide. He had been battling depression for years.

In the hockey world, he’s known for getting into fights against opposing team players. (Fighting is allowed in hockey, unlike in soccer. Hockey fighters would take off their gloves and then start punching their opponents. The game would pause until the end of the fight.)

There was an editorial cartoon in one of the local newspapers. It showed Rick Rypien on an ice rink, in his hockey gear. The stadium had no roof; you could see the sky. Among the clouds, this was written: “Keep your gloves on kid… You don’t have to fight anymore.”

More dreams

I’m in Manila, studying for a maths exam. My cousins and aunts ask me where my sister is. I say I’m not sure. To get away from them, I climb a very narrow flight of stairs, built in the small space between a pair of slum houses. I have to dodge laundry hanging on the slum houses’ windows. I take a jeep to get to school. When I get there, people are preparing for a big production, like a cheering competition. I have the maths exam in my hand. The time has run out, but I’m not even halfway done with the questions. I carry the exam papers around with me as I navigate a maze in the school’s parking lot. There is a gigantic, slimy wormlike creature in the maze.

I’m in a white building. The rooms are filled with important-looking men and women. They’re discussing the end of the universe. I eavesdrop. Some people will gather at a particular location; they will be spared from the destruction. I go into a room and then get my baby sister. Carrying her, I look around for other people I know. Everyone’s out on the streets, celebrating something, I don’t know what. I find Joey and Ethel. We head to the meeting place. We sit around a small square table and lay our heads down on it, like we’re sleeping. A lady tells me I should leave my sister behind. Two men fight. The destruction starts. Ethel pushes the two men off the edge of the room. They fall into what appears to be a black hole.

I don’t know any of these characters in real life.

I’m walking halfway around the auditorium with Mark and Abby. People are coming in through various doors, looking for seats. I see Eric at a far entrance. He walks toward us. And then a montage — Mark, Abby, Eric, Rosalie and I — at a garden, at school, at the beach, at a pool, at a play (not watching but acting). Mark and Rosalie seem to be a couple. Abby and Eric, too. And then, while I’m hanging out with Mark and Abby, Mark asks me, “Do you love me?” I say, “What? No!” I wonder if I’m lying. And then we go hiking, and we get to a house, and on the other side of the house is a river, and there are mats lined up on the river, and if you walk on the mats, you won’t sink. Eric and I go swimming. And then it’s time to go home, and the couples leave, and I’m angry at Mark, and I want to hang out with Eric to complain about Mark, but Eric is leaving, so I’m angry at him too. I am waiting at the bus stop when suddenly, everyone’s back, and Mark tells me he likes me, and I figure it’s like I’m shooting an alternative ending for a movie, and Mark and I go swimming in the river. And then Tyra is screaming from the second floor of the house, like something horrible is happening and we must leave, and everyone quietly goes to the dock to wait for a boat, but no boat is coming, so everyone just crosses the river by walking on the mats, and there’s a large, red and blue striped coat on one of the mats, and we just keep walking, wanting to get away. We come to a house, we go inside, and it starts caving in. Mark and I manage to crawl out of the debris, but we find ourselves at the same dock where we were earlier. We look back at the house, and it’s not caved in, but it’s the same house where we were earlier. I look at the mats on the river, and the coat is still there, and an old woman peeks from under the coat, and she’s what we were running from in the first place.