Like many, I woke up this morning to the shocking and devastating passing of Anthony Bourdain.
I never met Anthony Bourdain in person, but like many, I religiously followed his shows, read his books, and planned countless travel itineraries (including busing hours) to visit spots that he had been to. Because of him, I was inspired to go to Singapore, to the Philippines, and most importantly, to better understand my own roots and Chinese origins.
He was one of the first writers to truly put everything on the line – cut all of the bullsh*t and tell us how he really felt. That honesty, I feel, by osmosis, landed into my own life. His ability to tell stories, his verbage, and “Bourdanisms” morphed into my own vocabulary. I write, speak, and talk like Anthony did.
While he inspired me to get up and go, he also inspired me when I was at lowest points. Challenging days at the office or at school would often be solved by late night time with a rerun of No Reservations that I had probably watched a hundred times. I would re-read passages of Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw as a way to get a better night’s rest. He was a cure to depression for many of us in ways I wish we could have only told him now.
I am a foodie – because of you. I wandered into the unknown – including to Chongqing, China where I met the love of my life – because of you. I appreciate my city more and use your storytelling tips in my everyday work – because of you.
Thank you. May you find peace, adventure, and what you are seeking in the afterlife. I trust God to take care of your family and the rest.
First week officially in the books. I look around at my office, out at Victory Square through one clear and one not so clear glass window (there’s a story behind this – for another day, no less), I feel as if I have finally settled in.
I am grateful to have landed in a place of compassion and learning. I love it here. From having a brilliant office manager who I can already tell is a special soul to the equally brilliant colleagues I have. Everyday is filled with discussions about the law and doing good.
This journey won’t be easy. I’m shifting from what I will readily admit to now, a “business man practicing law” to a “lawyer who happens to operate a business.” The stakes are also much higher now as is the level of knowledge and finesse required. The clients that I have started to and well be starting to see often find themselves in vulnerable places, subject to an immigration system that increasing feels turned against them. Every conversed word and every step must now be more calculated than every before – often with lives and families hanging in the balance. It is not enough to simply show a client meets the requirements of a certain permit.
Learning to push myself yet be patient at the same time will itself be a process. Beyond myself, I need to put my faith in God and those around me. My heart is ready and the mind is making it’s way there – it has to overcome.
Over the next little bit, I will revive this blog – with a little bit of law and lot of love. Like the elephant being held up by balloons that sits in my office room I hope to take the heavy burdens in stride and focus on how much support I am grateful to have.
To the mentors who helped me make this decision, I am very thankful to each and every one of you. Now – let’s get back to the grind and do it for the people.
Growing up I used to play a game. A game, I will sheepishly admit that I still play to this date.
As soon as the light goes green - in fact, the split second it does - I rush to take the first step from the street corner on to the road. If I am in a car at a stoplight I press hard on the pedal as I were some Formula 1 Driver waiting for the light to turn green. I used to be a huge Greg Moore fan.
Today, I was walking along Burrard. At night. The kind of cool November night that you are grateful for - no rain for the first time in was seems like an eternity. I am exhausted by the late minutes of Monday monotony. Head swimming with too much commotion and perhaps not enough emotion. The high of a great day coupled with the reality of not enough done. Again. Just like every other day.
As I step into the gates ready to play my little game again, I hear two voices. Voices of wisdom and sage, older voices, but also one a youthful exuberance of a type of conversation I rarely have anymore unless a phone is against the side of my face. These two were playing the game with me today. I had competition.
Listening to them carefully, I watched as one figure put out their arm so the second one could use it as a railing to step off the ledge. "Thank you ma'dear" said the second silhouette, the challenges of the task ahead apparent. Slowly, slowly, slowly they made their way across the street. At this stage I was already miles ahead.
I rush forward. I miss my bed. I worry about work. The usual. Yet, I'm pre-occupied with this couple behind me. The green figure with two legs turns slowly into the red hand but the two silhouettes are still moving along solely. Easy comes as easy goes. My shoulder check tells me they've cleared my visual angle.
As I stare back and think forward, my brown dress shoes go straight into the curb as I stumble awkwardly, catching my balance at the last second and attempting to gracefully make it appear I am choreographing a routine for a local ballet house.
The two silhouettes walk past, leaving me with cellphone dangling in my hand like a rotten carrot. "You were listening to your music weren't you" one silhouette asks, shaking his head at my lack of grace.
I try to laugh it off but the truth was my earphones were not blasting music - although for most of the day they were playing Mariah Carey's Christmas album. I was not reading my cellphone (or was I) - these lines pretty much are blurred just like if I am working or not at any given minute.
No. I was distracted by the million lights and sounds of a busy street, in a busy city, during a busy time and a million more thoughts. Yet these two bastions of stability were thinking only of each other. Crossing the street, not in a manner that required them to do so - the so called "street-rules", but only when both of them had made it to the other side. Together.
Damn.... I thought to myself - this is where I want to be with who I want to be 40 years from now.
Crossing roads not because of the time it takes to get to the other side but in order to get there with the right person by my side.
I picked up phone and dialed my love.
Her weathered eyes tell me she’s seen some things;
Her neatly knitted red hat each stitch each seam;
She speaks not it seems in complex phrases;
She could have been here three decades but to you she’s the same as;
That Chang that Chong, too many Wong’s its wrong;
Like her only place at the table should be slurping Wontons at Hons;
You worry about your own backyard, call her the product of an invasion;
You paint her with the same brush, like all calligraphy must be Asian;
She wants nothing more than to say hello and have you smile back:
She tired of you saying go home, like she’s a pre-1960’s black;
Her wrinkled hands washing white rice, but to you it’s crack;
But she ain’t going nowhere, homie I’mma assure you of that.
Cause her nose has smelled the burning of bodies on the street;
She’s been through so many medical treatments, she’s immune to all disease;
She knows the games you playing when you raise up all your fees;
She’s dealt with enough shit, from fleas to trynna flee;
She doesn’t need you debating whether she still a refugee;
All she needs is you to tell her that her presence fills a need;
That her picking up your cans, truly helping clean our streets;
You might never know her name, but her story can’t be washed away;
She’ll wake up every morning, cause every morning it’s the same;
Maybe for a minute stop and say how goes your day;
Cause tomorrow when she doesn’t show up for work, you’ll be regretting what you didn’t say.
“You are my family. Thank you.”
I am proud to officially launch my new label – IMM (Inside the Migrant’s Mind). For many of us Canadian immigration starts with an IMM form. We are proverbial monarch butterflies. Our migrations around the world form the greatest natural phenomenon on earth.
Stay tuned as we explore the poetic power of our immigrant pasts, stories of love for our past and hope for our future.