Loving Me

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This poem is in honour of Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Be aware, be safe. Don’t be afraid to talk. You never know who might be suffering.

you told me you wanted everything to end
actually, what you said was,
Sometimes I feel beautiful
I feel really beautiful

Child, I know a thing or two about beauty
it’s scraping your knees from bending too low
leaned over ceramic bowls
feeling the past ascend from a swollen pit
measured out in meticulous teaspoons
spreading from behind thin walls
lacking more density than your hollowed bones

beauty comes in a numerical on a cellophane wrapper
displayed through a three digit code
down to a two digit code
in weeks with a single digit span
volume in the world makes you no more happy than writing an essay makes you a wonderful poetry
and you would know that
you wrote about me in your diary

Child
you delicate fawn with glossy eyes
Child
beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder
it is truly as empty as you feel
Child
feed your soul to the angels and watch them feast on your beauty
you have what they will never achieve
Child
when the grim reaper becomes your narrator
show him, show him your beauty
you may be thin but at least you are fucking beautiful enough
to swell a progress, start a scene or two*

Shall I sing it again?
out loud this time, for even the angels must hear

Child.
My beautiful child.
Here you are again
you, beside me
but never me beside you.

* Eliot. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. line 113

A Summary of My Leadership Conference

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24 hours ago

I was wearing a pair of $300 boots

and a pale shade of ignorance

I bought them under the shallow pre tense that they would make me look good

so I would feel good too

right now

I’m standing up here with bare feet

and a new feeling in my chest

did you know a person on social assistance gets $690 a month to pay for rent, food, transportation, clothes and their health?

did you know the only atrocity greater than evil is apathy?

did you know I’m not the loudest person in this room?

I bet some of you can barely hear me

but I am a leader

and I am ready

The Day I Conquered My Fears

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Today is a day I’ll never forget. Today is a day I conquered my fears and finally embraced a curiousity I’ve been trying to extinguish for so long.

Today is the day I got in front of a crowd of 150 people and recited a poem.

I have always been deeply entranced by spoken word poetry. The thought of performing myself has always been at the back of my mind, but every time it came up I would always consciously push it away. I was always too afraid to actually embrace life head on. What if I messed up? What if nobody liked it? What if I wasn’t loud enough? I was living with doubts or fears holding me back, but I am glad to say I was able to change today.

I (reluctantly) leaped at the opportunity to perform today I was at a leadership conference. To wrap up the event, we were given the option of any creative outlet to express what we’ve learned over the past two days. When the spoken word group formed, I lingered around the mixed bag of students who still hadn’t decided what outlet they were going to express themselves with. I was honestly hoping there would be an option that would make me feel less vulnerable than getting up in front of everyone and reciting a piece of my mind and soul. I stood there with the other undecided students and I realized something: if poetry is my passion, what am I doing avoiding it?

So I joined the spoken word group. We were all going to go on stage as a group and each perform our individual pieces. When I practiced my piece, I was more nervous about people not being able to hear me than forgetting what I was going to say. I’m soft spoken and get nervous in front of people, so there was a lot for me at stake.

When I finally got up there, I was surprised that I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be. When the microphone was passed to me, I was only mildly shaking. Only about a 6 on the Richter scale! Nothing too severe. I can proudly say I only stumbled once at the end because I had to change up one of the lines, but other than that it went pretty well. I wish I had spoken a little slower, but it was good nonetheless. I was surprised that the audience knew not to clap but to snap (not to brag or anything, but I got the loudest and most snaps!!!!!!! I’M JUST REALLY HAPPY OKAY).

I don’t care if it sounds lame, but when I went back to my seat after I was tearing up a bit. It was emotional for me because I had finally conquered my fears and overcome the barriers I had set up in my own life. I was just so proud I couldn’t express it in any other way. I was really happy afterwards because some of my peers came up and congratulated me later. In addition to truly liking the poem, they knew it was uncharacteristic of me to get up there and were equally proud of me for doing it.

Never hold yourself back. If there’s something you enjoy, immerse yourself into it. Dive right in instead of watching from the sidelines. I know now that the view is much better when you can see it through your own eyes.

Shadow Travellers

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So we wandered night after night, sleeping through day after day, unknowingly in search of one another. Dirty, cheap motels beckoned to us and we followed like abused puppies. We drowned in the wrong beds of people who seemed right at the time, only to resurface at dawn when we would creep back to the lonely streets in search of our other halves. We kept pushing forward although we had no reason to, beating back the confusion in our minds as we strived to fulfill our unsatisfied appetites and warm our empty stomaches. The sentimentality of the people we had been with were as thin as the walls of the motel rooms we fucked in. It wasn’t until we finally found each other, both nearly consumed by loneliness, that we realized it only takes a simple smile or quiet hello to bridge the gap between survival and life.

Dangerous Bait for a Not-So-Dangerous Bite

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In Disney’s pack of memorable movie characters, Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo remains one of my favourites. Perhaps it’s his comical chant of “fish are friends-not food!” that touches my inner vegetarian soul or maybe it’s just the fact that he’s a shark that has made me take such a liking to him. But let’s be real- it’s probably the latter.

Sharks are fascinating creatures. They’re the lions of the ocean. The kings of the deep blue. They strike fear into the hearts of many but really are more friendly than most believe. All shark lovers I know take delight in sharing the fun fact that vending machines kill more people annually than sharks do.

smiling-shark

Recently, Australia has come up with a solution to protect swimmers and reduce potential shark attacks. They tagged a couple hundred sharks with electronic devices that send out a tweet on @SurfLifeSaving to alert ocean-goers when a shark comes within one kilometer of a beach.

It’s impossible to tag every shark in Australian waters, but I think this initiative is a positive start to helping humans coexist peacefully with these great ocean dwellers. It doesn’t harm the sharks to put a monitor on them and it allows humans to have quick, easy access to shark alerts. It’s incredible to see how useful a tool Twitter can be in protecting lives with a simple tweet. Props to Australia for developing this harmless solution!

However, Australia is also harboring some very negative, harmful policies against shark populations. To prevent shark attacks in Australia, the government has approved a shark cull in summer months to lure these magnificent creatures close to shore where they will be killed if they are larger than three meters.

I am stunned to hear this has been approved because there is currently a serious worldwide plummet in shark numbers being intensified every day due to human activities. Shark finning, the practice of catching a shark, cutting off its fins and tossing it back in the water to drown, is a hot issue that many people are learning about and becoming opposed to. The oceans are becoming more polluted each day due to oil spills and illegal dumping of waste, making sharks more vulnerable to harmful habitats.

This practice echoes the dolphin cull in Taiji, Japan. Dolphins are lured into a secluded “killing cove” where they face the fate of either being brutally slaughtered, sold into slavery in the cruel animal entertainment industry, or disguised as fish and fed to the people of Japan, despite their lethal amounts of mercury. Award winning documentary The Cove delves into this brutal practice which brought public outrage and awareness to this issue.

Hopefully, the shark issue in Australia can reach a wide audience as fishermen in West Australia are gearing up for the big cull. If you care about this issue, sign this petition here. Sharks may not be as cute and cuddly as a panda, but they are worth saving. Trust me.

This One is For the Dreamers

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This one is for the dreamers, the kind of young people who sit at home every night and day and wonder when their lives are going to start becoming exciting. You must realize that your life is boring because you make it that way. You can’t blame it on the small town you were born in or on movies for being unrealistic. If you want a romantic fling, go out and talk to people; find someone who can make that happen. If you want to be a fashion statement and wear patterned pants instead of jeans, go ahead and do it. The world is bursting full of infinite possibilities. To sit at home and complain about being bored is a waste of this very planet we live on with the privileges that surround us. Start by going outside: breathe fresh air, look at the sky. Boredom is not real; boredom is laziness, it is settling for comfort and mediocrity.There’s nobody stopping you from living an exciting life except yourself.

The Day I Put Down the Razor

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A few months ago, I was hanging out with a boy when I stretched my arms up to reveal a patch of freshly grown, unshaved armpit hair. Oh my god you need to shave, he said as he laughed with a disgusted look upon his face.

That reaction really struck a chord inside of me. Mind you, I’m Asian. I barely have hair. Yet, the repulsive tone of his comment echoed the attitudes of men I’ve seen and heard one too many times in the past few years. Enough is enough. I think it’s time to address the issue.

Women have body hair. I don’t think there are enough words I can use to describe the frustration this problem causes me. I don’t know why it’s so hard for men to accept the fact women are not hairless and for women to accept the fact they are allowed to have hair, even the visible kind. 

If men can have hairy legs that stick out from a mile away, why can’t women? According to some men I’ve chatted with, they say it’s “gross” and they prefer a woman without hairy legs. Well, what if a woman prefers a man without hair? It’s funny because I have yet to see a man with shaved legs. I mean, if it’s what the opposite sex prefers, shouldn’t you do it? Do men think women enjoy feeling a small forest on a man’s legs every time they brush together?

I was talking to one of my female dorm mates a while ago while we were on the way to the gym. She was complaining about how she had to wear leggings, not shorts, although she was planning to run. I asked her why she didn’t wear shorts, and she told me it was because she hadn’t shaved her legs “in like two weeks.” Why should you let something as natural as body hair stop you from wearing what you want to?

Don’t get me wrong, if a woman prefers her legs to be hairless, she can have her legs hairless. As long as a girl is doing it for herself, not to please others around her, it’s fine by me. But if a woman is doing it because she doesn’t want to be seen as foul it becomes an instant problem.

How can you call this an equal world when women are afraid to go out with unshaven bodies out of fear people will mock them? Why is it wrong to embrace your own anatomy?

This problem grows complex because it’s not only men who find it disgusting; it’s women as well. I told my friend I hadn’t shaved in over a month and she was so repulsed to the point she asked if my boyfriend cared, as if that would change my mind. Women need to accept their own bodies or else face containment in a world of expensive razors, painful waxing and tedious anxieties.

I’ll gladly tell you I’ve shaved my legs less than ten times this year (seriously, I could count). Since September, I’ve shaved my armpits twice and haven’t touched my legs at all.

A woman is not a child. A child does not have hair; a woman does. I am not afraid to live in my own body anymore, and I invite you to do the same.