Monthly Archives: March 2014

Oh Canada!

Reyes_Joseph_Prized_Buck

I’ve been making images based on nostalgia, based on the Canada I left behind. It’s the Canada back in the 90s and early 2000, the Canada of my early adulthood. To me, it’s become this sort of mystical place that I can never come back to, a Neverland of sorts. But it’s not just me, wishing I was young again. It’s me wishing I belonged somewhere again.

I left Canada years ago and started working overseas. I fell in-love and got married. Canada on the other hand, moved on as well. My sisters all got their own families. My mom died, my dad moved, our dog was sent to the shelter, and our old house was sold. And now, whenever I can still call the country home, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way.

Here in South Korea, I can say that I have a home. I have a wife who loves me and my in-laws have welcomed me as their own. But still, this is a country that will never let you forget that you are a foreigner. Even my wife and my in-laws are guilty of this.

And this feeling… the feeling of being an outsider, is why Canada just doesn’t feel quite like home sometimes. I’ve spent too many years overseas that it’s going to take sometime to readjust to Canadian life should I ever move back. It’s going to take sometime before my old friends don’t associate me as “the one who moved overseas.”

In order to rekindle my relationship with the country (first world problems if there ever was one), I started reading books on law and even Aboriginal issues. It was my effort to become a “better Canadian.” Doing so, I re-learned some things, learned many I things I should have known, and appreciated the virtue of earning citizenship, whatever form that may take. Still, the whole exercise was torture. It’s me looking back and wishing things were different, that the nation and I grew together.

Don’t get me wrong. I love many of the things that I got in exchange. I’ve experienced a lot of things that Winnipeg would not have shown me. It’s just that there’s a cold, depressing hole in my psyche looking to be filled by a home, and it’s not quite where I am at the moment.

I remember talking to some kid online years ago. He found me when I had a relatively well-trafficked blog… when I was writing more interesting stuff than this. He lived in some small town in Ohio and said he’s stuck living in such a mind-numbingly boring place. He said it must be good to be able to travel and have amusing stories to blog about. I told him to leave the minute he could. Don’t settle for that factory job and instead find work overseas.

I forgot to tell him not to stay overseas too long.

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The longest death (is not so bad)

Triumph

Sometimes nothing happens except for me making art. And that’s what I consider a fairly good week.

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Naughty Nudes English Class

Thirtieth_strip

I was talking to someone who teaches English here in South Korea. She teaches adults; late twenties to early fifties. I’m amazed at how she describes these adult ESL classes, with some students being petulant and difficult, and teachers needing to “handle naughty students.”

Naughty? Petulant? How exactly do you “handle” an adult in class? I was really surprised because the behavior being described to me sounds more like something out of an elementary or middle school class, not from a room full of adults who by now I assume have developed a fair bit of empathy (not just for the other students in class but also for the instructor who’s just trying to get it through the hour). I have taught before. I taught children and adults alike and I found that the few times I taught a small class of adults, it was actually enjoyable. It’s never the stressful hell I hear from teachers.

But what cause this behavior among grown adults? In university, I’ve never witnessed a situation where someone in class was being difficult. I imagine if that was the case, other students would police the class because they are there to learn as well. I’ve taken Korean classes in the country before. While the room is filled with western students, if someone was being difficult, it wasn’t to the extent that it would case stress to the instructor. It would often be someone needing more assistance, not someone being disruptive. What I hear from adult ESL teachers is sometimes surprising (and in one case, a student abusing another student).

Is it the whole I’m-older-and-I-get-to-talk-down-to-whomever culture? Is it the feeling of privilege that comes from paying for someone to be in a room? (You’re here to entertain us.) Is it students acting out due to stress? Is it bad teaching?

ESL is big business in the country. And unfortunately, Native English teachers are sometimes given the role of babysitting the nation’s children instead of teaching them English. But who can blame young children? Sometimes the foreign face in the room is the first one they’ve ever seen in their life, and they don’t know how to act, much less treat them as authority figures or instructors. But how do you explain babysitting some adults?

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Blog Burnt

Aunt_Jemima

Aunt Jemimaria

I was about to post something really personal on this entry, a post five paragraphs long. I once thought that despite being on the Internet, my relative anonymity allows me to be truthful and air out my personal grievances. But no, I’ve been burnt before.

I once had a blog that received decent traffic. I maintained it for a few years and it was visited mostly by strangers on the Internet, some of which also have similar blogs and I’ve considered to be my “Internet friends.” My daily escapades entertained some. Many of the things I wrote I would never tell to many people I know. But to close friends and strangers, they were interesting tales… the stuff of conversation when you just shoot the breeze with friends.

Relationships, sex, politics, etc.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. I couldn’t stay anonymous for long. Someone I cared about did a bit of sleuthing (and snooping), and soon my blog was discovered and all the truths which I have written about were shoved right back at my face. It was a mixture of embarrassment, frustration, and a feeling of being violated. I felt guilty for what I wrote, but then I felt anger and frustration at being discovered. And after mending that relationship, I could no longer maintain a personal blog. The closest I could come to is this. And I know this could also be called a personal blog, especially since I don’t just write about art… but really, I could never truly write about my life and innermost thoughts.

I miss that.

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Lightning Alley

beer

Writing poetry…

The bead curtain rattles, Sally’s skirt sways.
She does a jig on the porch like I was hallucinating
As the CD player plays.
Bob Dylan rambles about the depressed,
He sounds like he’s singing about me, and I only want Sally.
Don’t send me back to my apartment,
I don’t want to watch Frasier re-runs tonight.
Don’t go inside as well,
You know exactly why I came here.
I know you’re terrified and know
That you’re almost forty
But you should believe in this drug that I’m on.
You’re not that pretty but you would do,
And that’s okay for the time being.
You can cower in your blankie
And cross-examine whatever’s making you ill
And you can make ornaments out of your exes,
Throw daisies when it’s pouring out,
Wasting your holiday break praying
For some decent fellow to come out of the neighborhood
I’m not that guy, everyone knows
All I could offer is my mediocre body
Underneath this sweat-stained hoodie
With the small likelihood that we could live to retirement
But what else is there?
Just open the window wide open
And let the Saskatchewan air mess up your hair.
Tonight is full of possibilities
And the road in front of your house goes both ways
We only have one chance in our lives
So ditch everything and get inside my Dodge Stratus.
Can we hold hands? I could drive one-handed.
We’re going to the land of Abraham
Via Lightning Alley
It’s right there, like John Wayne Gacy at large.
The clock says 2:00 am but we should book it.
Via Lightning Alley. Let’s go.
Via Lightning Alley.

Of course this is all a goof. I submitted this to a poetry Webzine, wondering whether they’d catch it or not. But now I don’t know… maybe they like Bruce Springsteen too.

 

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