Monthly Archives: June 2011

Reflections/Notes from the Allied Media Conference 2011 PART 1 – Kindness and Recognition

I think one of the most significant and moving experiences many of us Torontonians had while in Detroit was the generosity and incredible friendliness and kindness of people in Detroit. I spoke to many people about how nice and refreshing it was to have people be so generous with their knowledge, skills, kindness and hearts. I think many of us came to the conclusion that this wasn’t something we experienced in Toronto.

Arti and I sat on one of the black couches on the purple rug in the middle of the conference building and talked about how we were floored by the kindness in Detroit. We both agreed that the generosity and care is likely a way to survive in the shitty economic and social times that is Detroit. In order to survive the devastating economic collapse and the haunting remnants of the 1967 Detriot riots, it seems kindness was the key to vibrancy and resiliency.

I’m not talking about those people who give out free hugs and are super-duper-chipper-happy-alalala about it all because that’s weird and uncomfortable for me. I’m talking about care and recognition at the level of a “good morning” or a “hello” to someone you pass by in the early morning in your neighbourhood. These are not outlandish acts that happen in isolated and planned moments (eg. “free hugs!”) but a way of sharing space with others. I’m talking about, both literally and metaphorically, widening our field of vision/perception so that we actually see others, to see more.

Arti and I discussed what it would be like if we were nicer to one another and how that would transform the way disabled people, trans folks, queers and women would perceive their relationship with public spaces. This might mean we wouldn’t have to put on our armors every day when we step out of our homes. We might not always have to be in our heightened, alert modes, which can be exhausting and sucks energy away from the things we really want to be engaging in.

I wonder what our social circles, our streets and the city of Toronto would be like if we were more aware of each others’ presence.¬†Those simple “hello”s and “good morning”s are ways to tell someone “hey, I’m here sharing this space with you and I acknowledge and respect your presence.” And that’s so fucking nice! Those moment where “proper” liberal boundaries of self/other and private/public are broken with a simple nod are so energizing.

I think of Janet Jones, the beautiful and vibrant elderly black woman with a head full of white hair, who owns Sources Booksellers and gave everyone who came into her store an inspirational card to take home. I think of Sharon, who let Sarah and I in to the North Cass Community Garden so I could do one of my favourite things in the world – just being amongst vegetables growing in soil. I think of Art, the man who drove the bus for one of the AMC tours, who just had a really kind vibe to his quiet, exterior self. I think of the many, many strangers I passed, who would make eye contact and say “hi” or nod. It’s contagious! I found myself doing the same! With a bit of practice over the three days or so, that “hi” and that nod came easier for me.

What many of us had the privilege of witnessing over this past weekend is a part of the basis for movement-building, transformative justice, community accountability and all the exciting ideas that were thrown around the Wayne State University campus. These movements must make sure those people that they serve feel good . A lot of this is about feeling good, feeling recognized, feeling noticed and feeling respected. And I think those “hi”s and “how you doing?”s are a crucial part of getting there. I definitely felt it in Detroit.

To close: “Nice isn’t everything!…but nice can sure count for a lot.” – Sarah C. Creagen, aka my very good friend and travel buddy to Detroit

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Allied Media Conference, Detroit, MI – Day 1

I’m in Detroit at the Allied Media Conference, where I will be like a sponge, absorbing information/thoughts/skills around childcare collectives, using science fiction as a transformative tool, community accountability, typography and the history of Detroit. I will post my notes and thoughts from the conference here to share with people.

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Taiwan 2011: Some thoughts

This year’s trip home to Taiwan was kind of a big deal. It was the first trip, in eight years, during which I was not in a monogamous relationship. Yes, I have been a serial monogamist for the past seven and a half years, with various partners, with very little break between them. So this was a big deal!

It was a big deal because going home always conjures up heavy things for me. It’s also a meeting of the different worlds that I am a part of. These worlds are not so distinct from one another and, in fact, inform and influence one another. However, regardless of their interconnectedness, I juggle them precariously and exclusively. I do this because it feels safer. What are these worlds? They are abstract ideas of “Taiwan,” “home,” my parents and my guilt-ridden/love-filled relationship with them, my queerness, my “life in Toronto,” responsibility, my career…just to name a few.

To go back to a home, then, that is trying to hold its love for me while also not being okay with my queerness is difficult. This is especially hard when I am going back to this dear home of mine while in a queer monogamous relationship that I also hold very close. Some things are said. Some things are alluded to. Most things are kept quiet, to ourselves.

And so, this year, to go home with new approaches to relationships and to not be in a monogamous relationship was refreshing. I found that I was able to think about the possibility of moving back to Taiwan for a year or two. Not being in a monogamous relationship and learning new ideas about relations/relationships, love and care has opened up some of my emotional and mental space, which has allowed me to think about new possibilities for myself. I daydreamed about riding around on my own scooter in the streets of Taipei. I pictured myself living in Taipei and visiting my parents in Taichung every other weekend. I thought about finally getting to know Taiwanese queer circles. I even thought about other possibilities like moving to Shanghai or Beijing. These were moments where I could imagine my worlds coming a bit closer together.

These were ideas that couldn’t come to me earlier. They couldn’t surface to a level where I could comprehend because I was so blocked off from them with specific ideas of safety, internalized eurocentrism, romantic partnerships…and ideas of who I thought I was (a queer Chinese-Taiwanese immigrant girl with a complicated migratory story who will always struggle with familial guilt and only be somewhat okay in North America).

This ability to imagine new things for myself was huge. It felt strange to my mind and my body…but a good kind of strange. I can feel the newness and it’s exciting.

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Good Morning! Good Night! (8:30 mins, 2010)

I made this short video in 2010 as a part of the Legacy Video Project (now the Queer Video Mentorship Project) with the 20th Annual Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film and Video Festival.

Synopsis: How do we love those who are far away from us? With migration, movement and globalization, how do we love from an entire ocean and continent away? In this short video, a full-hearted girl connects fragments of love, distance, longing and responsibility.

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Why “Airplanes and Time Zones”?

AIRPLANES

The timeline and trajectory of my life is closely tied to airplanes. My family and I left Taiwan for Vancouver when I was seven. We left Vancouver to go back to Taiwan when I was 13. I left Taiwan for Ontario when I was 18. I now currently spend most of my life in Toronto. I visit my family in Taiwan once a year and have been for the past eight years. To some extent, airplanes have facilitated the shape of my life. In a very physical and material sense, without airplanes, I would be out of touch with a really significant part of my life – my parents and Taiwan.

This intimacy with airplanes also denotes a certain amount of privilege that I hold. It is a very big, loud, obnoxious reminder that I move with some ease in this world.

When I hear an airplane flying overhead, I feel compelled to look up. I always do. When I was younger, I was fascinated with the idea of commercial airplanes actually being a tin can high up in the sky that is shooting hundreds of people across the sky. I don’t think there is anything that profound with my fascination. I think it is simply a matter of mathematics: it’s something about perspective and the idea that something so big in size could seem so small by simply being far away from me. And that that “small thing” could at the same time, hold so many bodies and facilitate so many different lives.

TIME ZONES

I have important people in my life who live in many different time zones. I think about time zones and time differences a lot. I have to in order to communicate “live” with those important people in my life. Time, for me (and many, many, many others), is not so concrete and fixed. It is a constructed reminder that in the same moment, life can exist so differently; someone is waking up while someone else is just starting a shift at the post office while someone else is having a glass of wine while someone else is dozing off in class while someone else has just died.

AND SO…

I am using this space to think about home, travel, space/time, sanctuary, decisions, family. I will do this through writing and bits of visual art. There may be some drawings. There might be sound sound bites. We will see, I suppose. There may or may not be sporadic posts about something academic (I am currently completing my Masters degree) or something seemingly unrelated to “airplanes and time zones.” But I am sure if I think about it for long enough, I can link almost everything back to planes and time zones.

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