Tuesday, March 31, 2009

so...what do you think of the world?

Coming back from my trip to Hazelton, I had quite the experience in a cab ride home from the airport.

There was rain, darkness, and an airless silence as the driver navigated his way through the very small obscure streets - I had no idea where we were. I always like to start conversations with the drivers by emitting a stupid question that I'm sure every cab driver has heard at least fifty times throughout the day. Today I chose the inane: "So...is this a taxi service that only goes back and forth from the airport?"

cab driver: "yes, yes...just the airport."

Long period of silence ensues. Sometimes, not very often, cab drivers don't feel like chatting, so I usually let conversations drop...but I also like for them to know that I'm interested in any story they want to tell. I continued: "Did you have a busy day?"

c d: "well...this job...is not so easy. I wait in the lot sometimes for two...two, three hours. Then, I get call to go to airport. And sometimes there not busy...so I wait again. Then they call us to the taxi stand, but when they call, 20 taxis drive up at a time, sometimes for only two or three people...so I have to wait there again. It's hard...for a short time, I don't mind....but this...this is not a real job. Not for long."

chee: "oh dear, how long have you been doing this?"

c d: "I did this for a little while, and then I had a real job last year, so I stopped. Then they had no more work after November, so I do this again. *sigh*"

chee: (*dismayed hm*)

c d: "Life was good where I'm from...have big house, no worries..."

chee: "Oh, why did you leave?"

c d: "I leave because I don't like the way they treat women, I want equality, I want to choose the government..." he continues weaving in and out of tiny streets, revealing that he has lived here for eight years now, that he had no choice in where to stay, it was settled by the UN. Before coming here, he wandered through several European countries for many years.

"...I left when I was young. Look at me now, because of what I believe in, I suffered, I never have a home...I wasted so much of my life." At this moment, he looked at me in the rear view mirror, my heart broke a little bit, and he didn't notice that our vehicle barely made it through the intersection on an amber just turning red traffic light.

chee: "sorry to interupt...but you have to turn right at the next intersection. Sorry, please go on."

c d: "oh, I know, I know...see? my turning light is on."

chee: "thank you"

c d: "Ok, so...what do you think of the world?"

chee: "oh...uh, the world?....oh geez. Uh...well...I think it is...immobilizing, when I think of all the suffering in this world, and so much seems unjust. But I like to think that everything will somehow balance out eventually. Mmmmm...we can only try to make the best of every situation and try our best to understand how the universe works."

c d: "yes, beliefs that encourage you to have an open mind and gain wisdom is what I like too" In the tiny rearview, I saw the furrow in his brow disappear.

We pulled up in front of my house, even though the rain poured down, he climbed out of the cab to shake hands with me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

this is what depressed five year olds might do

I remember the first time I was depressed. Or rather, maybe it's the first memory I have of being depressed. I was five years old.

All of a sudden, I had discovered what death was all about. What is the point of everything?!

I couldn't sit still on a couch unless I was upside down.

Unable to sleep, I'd wander out of my room in the middle of the night, find the piano bench and sprawl over it.

When I was able to sleep I would wake up and lie there, not moving - even when my foot was protruding from the tangle of blankets and feeling quite cold.

What a mess I was.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

isn't everybody just like me?: part III

After that one moment of pure joy, I got up to dance in celebration. I executed the flailing arms, body twisted in a different direction from the knee-bent jumping legs dance move with perfect form. I wondered what celebratory jigs my family and Mrs. Wong had decided to do. I opened my eyes and found everybody staring at me, mouths agape.


I sat back down on the couch and shoved a handful of candies in my mouth. I can't even imagine what Mrs. Wong must have thought my parents were teaching me at home.

Monday, March 9, 2009

isn't everybody just like me?: part II

This is something that I haven't been able to admit to myself since this event transpired.

When I was a child, I used to think that everybody had "a song", and it was universally known that this one song would always represent this one person. There was no reasoning behind why each song was chosen, often I would sit in the car and listen to the oldies station, thinking to myself, "oh yes, this melody is playing for my next door neighbor"..."oh, and this one is for her cat."

One day, I went to a family friend's house where my brother and I were served candy and chips. I was nibbling quietly away at the treats, when my mother's friend put the radio on. Could it be? It was "KILLING ME SOFTLY" playing on the radio! My eyes darted to look at my my mother's friend nonchalantly sipping her tea. What a moment! This was the first time ever that THE person and THE matching song ever crossed paths in front of me! I couldn't contain it, ofcourse I had to point it out to everybody! "It's the Angela Wong Song!!!!"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

isn't everybody just like me?: part I

This is a memory that I never let myself recall fully, even in my head, because for so many years it would embarrass me so much that I would physically squirm.

One day, just over a year ago, I told a very good friend about it - about how the five year old me happened to exclaim the very puzzling phrase, "Oh! it's the Angela Wong Song!" whilst dancing happily in the middle of a room full of people. To me, the most embarassing part was that I was wholly expecting everyone to nod excitedly and join in with the celebration.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

childhood strangeness

Before I discovered the concept of death, my parents tried to give me hints that such a thing existed. Once, I was told not to put a plastic bag over my head, "or else I would never see my mommy and daddy ever again." Oh no! Who would be so cruel to abduct my parents?! What would they do with them?! It was up to me to save my parents from that unknown fate.

So I was somehow smart enough to refrain from putting a bag over my head, but it was a very long time before I realized that I wasn't being all that altruistic for not doing it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

mini adults

I see a lot of kids on the sidewalks these days jumping around with their toys, it's a joy to see. Lately, I've noticed that some of these toys are actually mini versions of adult things. Today, a little girl was happily pushing a red plastic shopping cart in a zig zag line, and a little boy was pushing a little vaccuum cleaner-like blue contraption while making whirring noises with his mouth. This reminds me of a time when my favorite christmas present was a plastic toy sink that pumped out real water and came with a bright green drying rack. Finally! I could wash my fake china after putting plastic toast and danishes on them! Now, I leave dishes in the sink, in hopes that they will clean themselves. They never do.
It makes me sad that these kids aren't able to enjoy the best part of childhood, which is lack of responsibilities.
I wonder if I should be sad about myself, for losing the sense of joy in washing dishes.