Coming to Terms

Dearest humans,

It is with deep regret (and deep tardiness, apparently) that I post this, what is likely my last thing as Stupid Ugly Foreigner for the foreseeable future. Know that it is out of my respect for you that I write this, as I believe in closure, and I feel like a turd going out on a post that calls my departure a hiatus.

The ease with which blogging slipped out of my life lately confirmed the gooey, honest truth for me: that I was needed elsewhere. That my home planet was calling me. That somewhere out there, there was a bowl of noodles going cold, uneaten by my face.

I am still writing, of course. Fiction was my jam long before I was bloggering, and although I like both I think it is time I direct my creative juices (cranberry flavoured!) towards making something different. I am working on a project right now (it involves clones, horned aliens, and all of the pathos you can get) which I feel very excited and proud of. It’s not yet ready for human consumption (although people interested in reading drafts of short stories can always email me and by my friend), but maybe one day soon it will.

This is both easy and hard. Easy in that the internet has always been ethereal nonsense, a whiff of smoke and electrons sparkling on my laptop, and closing the lid does not take a lot of energy. It is hard because I have been very proud of this blog and the things I have put up here. I have bared my heart, my brain, and all but my butt in how frank I have been about my failings in life. I have written some things I am very, very proud of, and also some things I am deeply embarrassed of. I have chronicled several years of my life in pictures and words, and some people read it, and they even liked it!

I have really appreciated all of you who have read, liked, shared and commented over the years (Jesus, it really has been years). I feel honoured to have had an audience at all, especially one so encouraging and pleasant.

I hope to see you all again, out there. I may blog again in the future, and knowing my own need for yammering, I will certainly always have at least one outlet for my stupid thoughts on the world (@ironcardigan, y’all!). But until then, may the roads you walk be long, the bowls of soup you eat be tasty, and the plane rides you take be less-than-farty.

See you on the road.

Summer Hiatus

As some of you local SUFferers may have gleaned, I have been lax on my postings lately. This is because it is summer! Time of beautiful sunshine, swimming, ill-advised nights of drinking expensive craft beers, and endless concerts. I attempted to still dole out your regular assemblage of words and larfs, but alas a vacation within a vacation (I am a Matryoshka doll of self-indulgent travel) and a whole lot of last minute “But I haven’t seen you in a year!” gatherings have limited my writing time. Also, I am attempting to lodge more time in my short stories, and in a screen play I am co-authoring with a dear friend, because if there’s anything about being mildly self-absorbed in your writing and simultaneously aimless in your mid-20s, it’s writing a goddamn screenplay.

 

But adventures have been had. Words float in my noggin. I have travelled, and eaten the things, and taken pictures, and thought about what a whackadoo world we all live in. I will be bringing you my thoughts on the matter in about two or three weeks. Until then, enjoy your summer, eat some noodles, and walk down a strange road you’ve never seen before.

Thoughts From the Front Row of the Concert

See Michael. See how sweaty and happy Michael is next to band.

See Michael. See how sweaty and happy Michael is next to band.

As the kind of unknown ukulele/mandolin/fiddle hipster nonsense I enjoy tends not to venture to China, a large part of my trip home was to include music. I feverishly scoured concert listings and venue websites looking for shows, gleefully snapping up tickets and planning my attack. If I am going to bother attending a concert, I generally want to attend it as hard as I can. I show up early, I grab whatever beers I need, and then I plant myself in the front row. My feet root to the spot, I set up a tent and a beach chair, and I settle in for joy directly in front of my eyeballs.

Here are a few amalgamated thoughts from the last week, in which I spent 4 of seven nights pressed sweatily against a speaker in a rock club.

–       I am technically in the splash zone. The singer of this alt-bluegrass outfit sweats more than any human being I have ever seen. It has gone from endearingly human to actually disconcerting, and I wonder if I should get him a glass of water. He maybe has a condition. Should we be calling somebody? Getting him on an IV? On another night, Cary Ann Hearst also notes that she and her husband are getting pretty gross and that the front row can probably feel it. “But y’all look like the kinky types so I bet you don’t mind.”

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No Meat, No Rats, No Dysentery: Food Road Rules

Cambodian market food

It will be fine it will be fine it WILL be fine

It had been a busy day of Hangzhou-ing, and we were ready to eat. It was murky and rainy out and we quickly moved from restaurant to restaurant, trying to find any that would pique our interests. The famousest and fanciest of Chinese eateries were long full and boasted impressive waiting lines.

We eventually settled on one tidy, pleasantly mediocre-looking joint. Jen, our life coach and Chinese interpreter, set about discussing what to eat with the waitresses, while another staff member led us to a room in the back. We filed into what appeared to be my grandfather’s dining room circa 1947, and began gathering around the table, which was draped in an enormous doily and then sealed in mylar.

Agnes cringed as she pulled out her chair, and pointed to the skittering vermin that she had loosed. It flexed its pincers or tendrils or legs or whatever at us angrily, unhappy at being disturbed. “That’s a fairly large cockroach,” Agnes muttered, attempting to undersell this monstrosity. If the cockroach had sat down to the meal with us he could have fit in an infant’s high chair and requested a kid’s menu.

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World Festival Of Men Hitting Ball With Feet

Hey Seymour

I have never taken a photo of anything ever remotely related to a sport. So instead, enjoy a picture of this weird dog.

The gym teacher sat across from me, looking stern and unimpressed. I had been fat the entire semester, which didn’t really jam with the subject he was teaching. And here I was, sitting fatly despite all of his best efforts. He asked me what grade I felt I should get. He pre-emptively gritted his teeth, already hating my reply.

I launched into what I thought was a fairly compelling speech detailing all of the reasons I should get exactly 75%. I showed up every class in gym attire and put in my best, awfulest effort into whatever fresh horrors he had devised for us. Despite obvious discomfort and a truly thrilling lack of ability, I showed up and did all of the things. The lifting, the running, the kicking, the hitting. Terribly and thoroughly greasy, but I did them.

Gym class was going to slash my average, but I felt I had earned a modicum of understanding for giving it all a go. I laid out my feelings for the gym teacher, who sighed and agreed. Gym class being mandatory only until grade nine, he knew this would be the last he’d ever see of me and the last time he’d ever have to hear me talking so fatly, so pathetically, about sports.

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Of Marriageable Age: The Long, Dark Wedding Season of the Soul

Doom.

Doom.

The death certificate of my childhood arrived in a crimson red envelope.

I slipped the contents out onto my desk and unsealed them, unfolded them, unclasped them. I had never received a missive so delicate or so complex, and it took several moments for my baboon digits to free the contents to browse. What appeared from within shook my heart with horror. I trembled suddenly for reasons I could not then articulate. The sky outside seemed to darken, the clouds grew heavy with ash and smoke. Everything tasted like salt and copper and purple.

Tina is getting married in August. This was the first wedding invitation of my adult years.

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Better Learning Through Collaboration, Pedagogical Rollercoastery

Wolf and Pig

Yours truly, with highly venerable Scottish ladywolf colleague

The full-body pig suit was incredibly hot.

Pink and gelatinous and topped with a great cardboard-and-felt monstrous head measuring a half-metre in diameter, the costumes were pretty magnificent. I had planned ahead and thought to wear only gym shorts and a t-shirt, and thus my wretched porcine swaddling was not quite so torturous as it might have been. Even still, as we waddled down the hall, unable to walk astride because of the width of our encasements, the bulk and claustrophobia started to feel like a sauna buried deep below the earth.

We wandered into the library, where our children had been deposited minutes before. The librarian had read them the 3 Little Pigs, and we were those pigs, having recently fallen out of our storybook, concussed and bewildered and unsure of our connection to one another. Shrieks of joy assaulted us as we approached. Some tried desperately to figure out who was trapped within each piggy of lupine disguise, while others were just willing to go with it and accept the magic.

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