Friday, June 27, 2014


So yeah,

I suffer from Fibromyalgia (FMS). To the uninitiated, it is a rheumatoid condition that manifests itself as widespread, chronic pain of the muscles, joints and ligaments, as well as what I would say is the worst part of it: the fog. THE FOG!


The "fibro fog" as it is cheesily known, can range from flu-like symptoms (no flu, mind you) to simply being confused, tired, shaky, blurry vision (in my case) and total lack of concentration. I'm in the fog as I write this and my 80+ wpm typing speed has been reduced to about 20, if I'm lucky. Typos abound.

I'm writing this because I'm actually trying to get the blood flowing through my brain to see if I can conquer THE FOG!


...but seriously, this is a shitty, shitty condition that only middle-aged women and my old chef seem to understand. 90% of FMS sufferers are middle-aged women and the stigma of being a young, otherwise fit male likes to screw with almost every aspect of my life.

There are no well-documented "fibro attacks" as there are with similar (albeit much worse) conditions like multiple sclerosis, but I seem to experience "fibro attacks" with random frequency. The longest I've lived without an attack in the past ten years is four months. The last attack I had was one month ago. I was on line at the restaurant and it was like a mini-stroke. The left side of my body went numb while the right was shaking in excruciating pain. I worked through it, but as an open kitchen my customers were looking at me like I was Frankenstein's monster. My boss was very understanding, but he seemed embarrassed at the "display". I was given a break during the drama and I went out back and just cried. It wasn't even emotional, nor was it from pain. My body just lost control of itself.

FMS symptoms are brought out by stress and anxiety, both of which I used to have in spades. I've been pretty zen the past half year, in spite of my condition and various life events that would otherwise put me down. The problem I have is when I get THE FOG! I then get frustrated, stressed out and anxious, creating a vicious circle of cognitive anguish and physical pain.

I'm a cook at one of the busiest diners in Toronto. I'm a law clerk at one of the busiest firms. I'm trying to renovate my basement. I've had no time nor energy to dedicate to my own projects. I'm way overdue for some new art and design work. When FMS rears its ugly head, it ruins everything. I write this as catharsis and to help inform the ignorant and non-believing that shit is real, homie. Very real and very shitty.

If you have loved ones who suffer from this, please give them the benefit of the doubt. If you have employees or co-workers who suffer, extend patience and compassion. We are not a bunch of wimps who can't take a little pain. I'm a tough mofo; I carry a lot of scars, but THE FOG! cripples me.

I'm slowly taking steps in the right direction to better my health (firing my asshole doctor, for one) and trying my best not to use FMS as an excuse. I fight THE FOG! and the pain every day and it always wins.

One love. Thanks for reading.


PS: It's also incurable. Fun.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Sup, errbuddy?

There is a fine line between the simply personal and the confessional. As an artist, I constantly ride the fence. Blogs are an interesting medium as they represent the digitization of the journal or daily diary, albeit in a public sphere (even if it's not published, Googly Googs knows what you're thinking... they know...). Blogs represent the temptation to type a constant outpouring of neurosis and insecurity writ large all over the internet. Even established journalists have to park the personal in favour of a broader, more objective journalism, but again, the ease of confession on such a wide scale remains Damoclean for the individual and his thoughts and opinions.

So what does a fence-rider like myself do about such a glaring spotlight? I perform well under pressure and literally in the spotlight, but any performer adopts a stage persona, even if it is only loosely fictional. The internet provides a pseudo anonymity that allows the inner devil to the forefront of argument, and boy, does that devil like to argue. Everyone gets their 15 minutes; their two cents. Unfortunately for some, that's a constant stream of back-to-back, 15 minute fame sessions and many should have gone broke by now for pitching in their two cents. Hell, if I had a quarter for every time I put in my two cents, I'd have recouped at least ten years of shoddy emotional investment at an alarmingly favourable interest rate!

I suffer from the anonymous devil inside. I think of myself as reasonable, logical if often passionate; but not blind nor deaf. Anyone with a Burner account knows this dichotomy: Burner accounts allow total anonymity as they are not linked to Gmail or Facebook or Twitter, etc. but the blind passion with which one can rant in forums can lead to an obviousness of character, solidifying the ranter as an actual, human entity on the internet. The beauty of a Burner account is when one is burnt out, so to speak, the account can be deleted forever. Not the "be right back" forever of Twitter and Facebook, but actually gone forever. As long as the browser cookies are set to remember the Burner password, the account will exist. Clearing the cache and refreshing the browser can act as a sort of cleanse for toxic, trolling activity.

Exhibit A: we've all been on one end or the other

Many have inadvertently left their indelible mark on the cave walls of the internet. Perhaps a data-mining anthropologist of the future will find my Facebook wall deep in the strata of the digital past and interpret it as an important message left for the citizens of the future. Perhaps other strata will reveal a self-important, cat and sloth worshiping culture glued to their glowing, corporate, deified altars. The galaxy of would-be stars that are every individual on the internet further proves our insignificance in the universe. After all, if everybody is a star, then we are all destined to burn out and fade away anyways. If everyone is special in their own way, then nobody is special at all.

Here's to expressing our individuality... just like everybody else.

Friday, January 31, 2014


2014: Year of the Horse. More like 4712!

I look the part, but I am about as Chinese as the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley in Iron Man III or the plastic restaurant chain). My family has no formal meal the night of; no vegetarian cleanse the day after. This year, my mother had a culturally existential crisis on the matter when a family friend told her nothing short of "you are not Chinese enough; you need to learn your heritage". My mother is almost seventy and her friend is in her forties. 

Tough break, eh? I digress.

I am throwing a last minute Year of the Horse party at my mother's house for a few friends. It will be as sloppy and informal as it is last-minute. I write this before I've even come up with a menu. All I can think of is that this is a perfect excuse for a party. "Happy New Year" is the rough English equivalent of the only thing I can say in both Cantonese and Mandarin and even then, the Cantonese is my late Grandmother's dialect.

Relevance? There are a million other things I could be doing today, many of which are far more productive than my feeble attempts at maintaining some kind of sub-culture or family tradition.  I may look the part as I have mentioned, but then again I look the part for anything but black; though I have been mistaken for such through the sheer ignorance of my accuser and my choice of attire. Chinese New Year has always been that strange, exotic thing that I embraced as a part of my bloodline. In kindergarten, the teacher asked me to tell the class about it. I just described the glorious spread that used to push the family to the margins of the dining room on Lord Robert's Drive in Scarborough. I've never known the significance, if any.

Chow Kien & Chow York-Ying
Chinese New Year for me has always been about food, friends and family. China is no longer exotic, with Mandarin paving the way for a new lingua franca. I've been told I was "not Chinese enough" in my own time, albeit by a triad gangster addled by MDMA at a rave. If I choose to throw a party and give away jiaoze (dumplings) and booze instead of cash money in little red envelopes, is it "not Chinese enough"?

Who cares? Well, I obviously do a mote, or I wouldn't feel the need to write this. It would have been easier to go grab dim sum and then get drunk. It would have been of no significance if I did nothing, or simply joined the guys at the pub like any other Friday.

Little dumplings and tall cans of beer. That's what the year of the Horse is getting kicked off (har har) with.

To the glorious diversity of my ridiculous generation.


Xin Nian Kuai Le! Goong Hey fat Choy!

PS: I'm allergic to horses...