1. It’s been almost four months, and I’m still unemployed. I think it might be time to leave.

     

  2. Some good news to share:

    I am officially taking over the UNPLUGGED column at Vancouver Is Awesome! Every second week, I will be hunting down the places in and around Vancouver where you can get away and get back to nature. I’ll also be doing a couple of features on wildlife and foraging as the weather improves and the edible plants start to come up. 

     
  3. Good witches.

     

  4. A cherry blossom landed in my jacket collar today. I didn’t notice it until I got home and it fell on my bed—it was still perfect, didn’t get squished at all. It’s surprising what those little flowers can take.

     

  5. I saw a man carrying a small dog today and I was 100% sure it was a koala for about 2 seconds. I had accepted it as a reality.

     

  6. They’re Everything That’s Wrong With Vancouver

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    I live in Vancouver, one of the busiest seaports in the Pacific and a city with a reputation for being an awesome place to live. Naturally, this status draws a lot of immigrants, and it has for over a century; Chinese workers came in the thousands during the 1858 Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, and census data says the Iranian population in Vancouver has tripled since 2002. Canada has long prided itself on being a culturally diverse “melting pot” that preaches tolerance and leads by example in its treatment of refugees and providing services for new immigrants. Why, then, do I feel like I’m constantly cringing at racist comments skittering out of the mouths of those around me?

    Most of the people I know in Vancouver are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. None of my grandparents were born in North America, and my own mother technically came to Canada illegally, so it confuses and saddens me when I hear the people I’m closest to start on about how the foreigners are ruining everything. 

    My family and I have white passing privilege. Not familiar with the term? It’s when you are not of entirely European or “white” descent, but you could pass for being so. I identify as mixed race, so equality is an important issue for me. When I hear about some of the discrimination my friends who don’t “pass” face, it just kills me. I love my friends, and I love their families, so it stings when a member of my family—who have had people of Chinese, Korean, Persian descent in their classrooms, frequented their businesses, and invited their kids over for playdates—turn around and say something like “oh, the Persians must not tip well, they’re known for being stingy” or “Chinese men are disgusting, they spit everywhere”. They talk about these people, their neighbours and peers, like they’re the “other”. These are the people who taught me to treat others how I want to be treated, to always give people the benefit of the doubt and never to talk about anyone behind their back. 

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    Being on the Pacific, Vancouver is a city full of Asian diaspora. Vancouverites grow up hearing stories of the abuse of Chinese workers on the railroad, of Japanese internment camps and the Komagata Maru. They sigh with sympathy for those who lived through the Sri Lankan conflict or Mao’s Cultural Revolution, then they turn around and complain about their behaviour. They conveniently forget that this “behaviour” is a product of culture, which in turn is largely a product of history. Just because the world is getting smaller via the internet and immigration doesn’t mean we should expect everyone to constantly conform to the western worldview. 

    I’m going to focus on the hate-on people seem to have for people from mainland China. Over the past couple years, a lot more immigrants and a lot more investors have been hopping the pond to start a new life in BC. According to The Vancouver Sun, BC is facing a wait list of 45,000 wealthy mainland Chinese wanting to settle down in the Lower Mainland. Why wouldn’t they? The climate is mild, it’s safe, there are good schools and good opportunities for business. Unfortunately, this influx will drive Vancouver’s—already considered the second-least affordable housing market in the world—real estate prices up exponentially. Then there was the racial/financial line in the sand caused by the (now-cancelled) “investor” immigrant program. The economic impact of this class has actually been comparatively small, but the social freakout and racial stereotyping it has caused is really not helping Vancouver’s bad rap as a beautiful city full of closed, cold, and cliquey people.  

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    I hear complaints every day on how these newcomers drive, how they speak, how they serve you at their restaurants. I hear it from my relatives, the same people who ask if I want to invite my Chinese friends to go camping. When I raise the issue, I hear “but she’s not like other Chinese” or “oh, but she’s Hong Kong Chinese” or “I’m not racist, I just [excuse goes here]”.  

    The worst are the comments about how they eat. There’s no end to them; they’re the subject of dinner party jokes, of whispered venom on the part of non-asians who are sitting in a Chinese restaurant, eating Chinese food. It’s not just the older generation; there has been a dreadful trend lately that sees people of my age group on the lookout for the “authentic” dining experience. They eat, snicker, and run back to their friends and regale them with horror stories of table manners and brag about how they nibbled a chicken’s foot once at this little hole-in-the-wall, oh-so-authentic place on Powell. Who are we to judge how a certain culture eats? Who are we to call their food disgusting when there are whole blogs and Reddit threads dedicated to the weird crap white people eat (case in point: ambrosia salad, tater tot casserole)? 

    The casual racism needs to stop. I want to urge anyone who is feeling uncomfortable with things their family/friends/coworkers might be saying to speak up—if you don’t tell them, maybe nobody will, and this ugly wheel will keep on spinning. I know how sensitivity-workshop this sounds, but it’s most effective to just tell them straight up that it makes you uncomfortable, and ask them please to not do it again. It’s hard calling the people you love out on this stuff; they might get defensive or really hurt when you bring it up. But racism doesn’t only affect one person, or one family. It indoctrinates our children, distances us from our neighbours, and spreads fear. Fighting discriminatory thinking is no longer just up to our government; as Canadians, we need to start walking the talk and be the accepting, multicultural nation we portray ourselves as.

     

  7. The Covet List: March 2014

     
  8. Miiiiaaaaa, look at meeeee.

     

  9. Hurt Animals

    I find an owl sprawled in our rafters, beak open, blind

    and perfect, rising chest shot

    with the melonseed markings of a female.

    Despite her pain, I love her so fully. I feel so selfish.

    Perhaps snake poison blinded her,

    for I left my lawn to grow neck-high and sharp, and pit vipers moved

    in.

    Now my daughter is trapped in gumboots, even in summer,

    because her mother is lazy with the scythe.

    I lift the owl, my hands stupidly bare. Where is my sense?

    Her enraged churrs silence the wallbound shuffling of mice.

    My landlord comes nightly now,

    since I brought in the last hurt thing.

    He comes for rent, for food, for me.

    Since the end of the cold drought,

    I have sent my daughter each night

    to sleep among the horses.

    (Published in the 2013 chapbook Nothing but Sound and World, edited by Patrick Lane.) 

     

  10. Rug

    The rug is a red surprise in the new house,

    a glitch in the bareness.

    My grandmother haggled it down

    between swigs of sludgy coffee in Ankara.

    She loved it for its language of geometry,

    but didn’t notice the birds in the third border

    until she laid her ear on its firmness 

    and held her breath against the dust.

    (Published in the 2013 chapbook Nothing but Sound and World, edited by Patrick Lane.) 

     
  11. New York is a city of amazing camera fodder—I’m so happy with the shots I got there. I’d like to go back in the spring or late fall when it’s not quite so muggy.

     
  12. Constellation cup! I’m pretty pleased with how the matte glaze turned out over the black slip but unfortunately a crack appeared in the bottom so I can’t put any liquid in it. Destined to be another pencil cup, I guess.

     
  13. Hallowe’en bonfire, 2012. 

     

  14. 6-month goals

    • get a steady writing job
    • win a poetry contest
    • make a whole bunch of mugs and plates
    • write/edit twenty poems
    • move more
    • become better at time management
    • dedicate time to a cause
    • eat less sugar
     
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