News:Â The popular Montreal-based writing project ‘365 Attempts at Life‘ has invited me to write a post every Monday for an entire year.Â Six other Montrealers in the Entertainment biz will be writing on alternate days.Â The topic of each post is simply, ‘life’.Â Â Below is my first post.
But first…, in other news, Evja, the project with dancers from the Ballet Jazz de Montreal, is shaping up and will be presented at the Outremont Theatre in early January, 2013.
An iPad app I helped develop for the popular children’s book ‘Monkeys in my Kitchen‘ will be released soooooon…Â We are just wrapping up a few loose ends with the technical side of things.. hang tight mothers, fathers, and toddlers.
Writing Post 1…. :
by Courtney Wing
Itâ€™s thanksgiving today and I canâ€™t say I amÂ a big Thanksgivingâ€™er. Growing up in a Chinese family half of the time and a Russian and Icelandic family the other half of the time (splitsville for my parents in the 80s), Thanksgiving was never looked upon with much traditional value of much sort. On my motherâ€™s side [Russian/Icelandic, third-generation Canadian], a turkey was sometimes served with a spattering of visiting relatives. The influence of aÂ few large tumblers of Johnny Walker red label fueled mildly tense discussions of very unimportant matters of life. Meanwhile,Â the TV blared in the background, challenging our vocal chords and no doubt increasing debating tension in the room. After supper we put the TV to proper use and watched it for awhile.Â Then we went to bed.
On my fatherâ€™s side [third-generation Chinese Canadian], Thanksgiving was noÂ more thanÂ an excuse to have a good Chinese feed. This either took place around two large circular tables at any one of a few preferred Chinese restaurants in my home town Vancouver, or huddled around the kitchen table at my step grandmother, Eva Popos, house. Regardless, Chinese food was the focal point for our reaching chopsticksÂ and the only things that were giving â€˜thanksâ€™ were our palettes and bellies.Â NoÂ verbal or mental gratitude was really encouraged towards people, places, or things for this holiday. It just wasnâ€™t! This is likely a result ofÂ the majority of my Chinese family being agnostic and a small minority being Jehovahâ€™s Witnesses. So generally, as an unspoken rule, religion and itâ€™s various associated values, traditions, and practices, were simply cast to the wayside as potential topics of discussion.
It wasnâ€™t until later years that I began to experience â€˜legitâ€™ Thanksgiving-esque traditions outside of the family. ThisÂ mostly consisted of dinners held at various friendâ€™s run down abodesÂ while studying at university inÂ Victoria or musicâ€™ing here in Montreal. One particular Thanksgiving that comes to the forefront of my memory took place here in Montreal approximately 5 years ago when my heart was heavy and drippy for a particular Mennonite gal. I was invited to join her and her friends at her house forÂ a feast that stretched the length of two wobbly IKEA tables. Tealight candles lit the undersides of an assortment of mismatched porcelain plates and bowls and my home-made applesauce was destined to be a delight. As we sat down in preparation for the feast, someone had the idea that each of us should express what we were thankful for. Generally, Iâ€™m not one to get giddy over the opportunity to express my feelings of thanks to aÂ group of people I donâ€™t really know that well, but what is one to do when confronted with such opportunity? Fight or flight simply wonâ€™t suffice in such a situation!Â To make a long story short, when it came time to express how thankful I was, and to what and whom, I expressed that I was thankful for knowing this particular Mennonite girl and being able to spend such quality time with her in the recent weeks. To my dismay, when it came time for her to express what she was thankful for, she said that she was grateful to have her roommates in her life. There wasnâ€™t any mention of me, which of course is kinda okay, for my ego is considerably tame, so I like to think anyway. However, following my public and vulnerableÂ expression of gratitude towards her, it wouldâ€™ve been nice to have had a tad of reciprocation, no? I mean, talk about a heart fuzz kill! Of course the depth of the story of how the rest of that relationship unfolded is deep, but this was a particular moment that signified to me that the relationshipÂ was destined to fail.Â Anyway, more on that laterâ€¦ Iâ€™m sure there will be plenty of violin lamenting in ensuing blogs and Iâ€™m straying too far from what my initial intent is for this Thanksgiving blog. And that is, to take a moment, and give thanksÂ to a particular individual in my life – my auntie Sheila.
Unfortunately, two weeks ago she was diagnosed with colon cancer that has metastasized to her liver and was given two years to live. The initial shock was unforgiving, the kind that leaves you staggering for steps as you try to navigate your way to the solace of the ground with very soggy eyes and a shard-torn gut. Auntie Sheila is someone who is essentially a second mother to me and someone whom I love dearly.Â Throughout my entire life, this woman has provided me with guidance for all things good and that matter in life.Â Love – wisdom – morals – family – value – food – happiness – travel – educationâ€¦ These are only a few words of a long list of words worthy of expressing what she has provided me with. I equate a great part of who I am with the love and care she has given me and what she has taught me. And now, she has been given two years to live. Oh life, you cruel fiend. You cruel cruel fiend.
Since learning of the cancer, myself, along with my cousins, have been racing to learn of every possible conventional and alternative treatment there is so as to extend her life as long as possible. Nothing else really matters except navigating ourselves along the best path thatâ€™ll lead to her healing. Hyperthermia heat treatment, vitamin C injections, Amazonian jungle bark, laser technology, the beast of chemotherapy, the list goes on.Â Ughâ€¦ what to chose and follow up with, who to listen toâ€¦ when to deny research as quackery, how to mix this with that?Â Itâ€™s never ending.
Itâ€™s bizarre in lifeÂ how something like this appears out of nowhere and all of a sudden you are catapulted into a harsh reality, one which gives you no option butÂ to do everything you can to save a loved oneâ€™s life. This is how most waking hours have been spent these past two weeks, and I imagine this is how most waking hours will be spent in the coming weeks, and months ahead for that matter. All that to say, balance in life is of course necessary, hence, my keenness to vent, blab, and wonder about all things and everything for another 51 weeks here at 365 Attempts at Life.Â See ya next Monday.