Highlander in a Bowl: A Fish for the Ages

In the tank

Literally the only photo I have of still-living aquatic wildlife.

The longest-lived pet I ever had was a goldfish named Ducky. Other animals came and went through my young life: cats adopted before my birth, dogs with bum legs, rabid and ultimately too-crafty hamsters that had to be returned to the store in double-locked and duct-taped carrying cases to prevent escape or high-octane villainy. Ducky was a constant stalwart through my childhood, a calm, stupid, beautiful presence, never judgmental, never changing, and always there for me. She had a red streak down her back and a placid, gaping goldfish mouth.

My goldfish lived for over nine years.

Her arrival in my childhood bedroom is too far back in my memories to unearth. I remember little of her early days, little of her previous tankmate, little of what things I must have said to her as a boy. My connection to her was primal and innocent, a child and a small life entrusted to him. I controlled her access to sustenance, found out how to change her water with my parents, learned quickly not to slam my fists or fingers against the tank to get her attention. She was a little bright comet, gliding through a distant orbit in my room, and always there. Continue reading

The Accordion of Regret

Skilled students of the human condition have probably already deciphered: I returned to Toronto for a funeral. We’ll plunge into the deep pools of neuroses this generated in a few days, once I’ve fully expunged my very soul of all that icky sadness. For now, let us bask in the glory of people trying to communicate sincere sadness and genuine kindness over a language barrier, like trying to delicately pass soufflé dishes over a 12-foot-high concrete wall. Here are snippets from life at my Korean school to whet your appetites for catharsis and linguistic awesomeness.

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