3 Weird Parks

My new abode is surrounded by three parks, each with its distinct personality. If you wanna get hit on by creepy men, walk your dog or do jumping jacks, you go to China Creek. China Creek Park is characterized by a super steep hill overlooking a baseball diamond. I imagine it would be the perfect setting for an outdoor concert. Occasionally they set up a community slip n slide. This is the park where I like to read because the angle of the hill always ensures good lighting. However China Creek does come with the odd interruption. Not odd as in infrequent but odd as in unusually weird. I have been hit on twice so far in this park, the first man may have been an actual serial killer, and I don’t say that lightly. His two cute doggies were swarming me (China Creek is an unofficial dog park) and he used that as an in. His first line was “Wanna go flying?”

-What?

-I got a Groupon but my buddies cancelled, wanna go next week?

-Uh can I bring a friend?

-Sure.

We continued to chat a little and I told him how I was on my third job interview for the same company and was out of appropriate outfits. “I have some” was his second line.

-What?

-My ex moved out and left a bunch of her clothes, designer stuff, wan’ ’em?

-Uh send me a pic…

He never did cuz he knew he was caught and I surreptitiously avoided him the next time he was walking his dogs.

Another interruption you may come across in China Creek are the training teams, or classes? I’m not sure. I was again sitting in the park reading a book peacefully when I suddenly found myself surrounded by senior citizens in yoga pants hopping up the hill in two lines on either side of me. It was as if i was the nude model in a life drawing class I had not signed up for. “There’s a whole park…”

Today I got offered a free skateboard while reading in the park, then I got hit on. That pretty much sums up China Creek.

The next park over is called Sahalli, it’s characterized by a grassy knoll and a community vegetable garden. Next to Sahalli is the subsidized apartments for those suffering with PTSD Trauma and in the afternoons we’re usually getting shit faced at the park picnic tables together, these are my gang. Terry is a Vietnam Vet who has a slight obsession with Richard Nixon. George endured ten years in Canada’s Residential Schools (racist camps for set up by Europeans to “assimilate” First Nations). Rod is a struggling alcoholic and Shelly is the “mom” or rather “daughter” (she’s my age) who looks after the group. We have good times together but sometimes things get a little crazy, not in Sahalli but in the next park over (can’t remember the name of it) where there’s a larger group of old guys on income assistance drinking. One got pissed at Terry and kicked the peddle off his wheelchair.  It gets a bit too intense for me so I tend to avoid it. Adjacent to this space, which really seems like it should be the same park yet has its own name, is the now internet famous Dude Chillin Park. Dude Chillin Park is, like the name suggests,  the local hipster hangout. One of my favourite things to do in Dude Chillin is watch the faces on Hipsters passing by as they smile at me or Shelly and then drop to a gape as they see us pallin’ around with a bunch of old dudes in wheelchairs. Dude Chillin Park is full of dudes trying to play guitar or groups of adults playing throw back kids games like California kick ball. I kinda hate it but it’s the nearest park to the liquor store so a logical pit stop on the way home.

Some days I’ll go on a park crawl and just check out he different scenes as my mood changes, I feel very lucky to be sat beside so much greenery and an abundance of birds, a sweet little corner just off the express bus.

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Tell them your Secrets

If you want to feel oneness with the world, tell them your secrets. It works, try it.

After I published my 10 Bios in 10 Days project I felt it, oneness with the world. It feels like expansiveness. Like my consciousness became bigger than my body and reached halfway down the block.  Like the barriers between you and me were crushed, Afterall, once you know all my secrets there are none. There’s no cosmic difference between us, and you can feel it.  And that shit’s addictive. Who knew it was so easy to achieve?

One of the more popular stereotypes for reaching oneness says that to be at one with the planet and all of humanity you need to get still. You need to sit on a mountain top and not speak, You need to have a really ugly haircut, or no hair at all and you need to speak in monotone, as if your whole aura got botox. You need to wear long flowing scarves and baggy pants. Oh and you must be vegan.  All this is bull shit, of course. You can experience a sense or oneness covered in tattoos and wearing all black, you can be black. You can be loud. You can be a little punk and swear a lot.

All you need to do is share your secrets, unashamed or at least bold enough not to care, and just go for it, hit [Publish].

 

 

 

Biography 1O: Jules

Jules was part of Les Cinq Filles, you remember, from the Annie Bio?  In a lot of ways Jules was worse than Annie.  Unlike the other girls, Jules lived in my dad’s neighbourhood, which meant her family had a freestanding house with a white picket fence. I remember the day they got that fence.  It was right around the time I went over to Jules’ house to play, the first time we hung out without the other girls. We had a great time, I think I was there the whole afternoon. The highlight was baking cookies for her dog, and when I left I remember making plans with her to try out new recipes, a dog bakery for our one client.  The next Monday at school I found her and Annie looking at me and with the “she’s such a loser eyes.”  Later Annie made fun of me for the dog cookies.  I knew Jules had had actual fun, that’s when I figured out Jules was not my friend, she was playing both sides.

Unlike with Annie, Jules and I didn’t stay friends growing up. Jules didn’t really change, she stayed sidekick level mean.  I remember in grade 7, she yelled to me across the sports field “Jane did you get your period yet?” in front of the whole school. She was doing some sort of tally and hadn’t heard that I had actually gotten mine first. It pays to be a January baby.  So her attempt at embarrassing me that time failed flat, it actually got me respect.

Later Jules moved into affirmative action mean. By this time we were already adults. Pre-drinking before our first high school reunion at a mutual friend’s place, one of the girls I wasn’t friends with brought out an old collage. It was filled with pics from the high school days. I wasn’t on it, nor did I expect to be. I had a different friend group in high school but our host that evening overlapped us.  Jules immediately pointed out that I wasn’t on it:  “Oh look at our silly eye-brows, Jane you never plucked yours did you? You we’re so much smarter than us!”  The girl who brought out the collage looked super guilty and uncomfortable, she knew what Jules was doing. I shrugged. My eye brows are in style now thanks to Cara Delevingne. Poor Jules never had the power Annie did, I wonder if it bugged her to be perpetually b-level mean?

I feel obligated to point out the one time I did see cookie-baking Jules again. It was in grade 7 and one of the boys in class had written a song about me. With the help of my girlfriends as it turned out.  Apparently the popular girl was pissed I was flirting with her boyfriend but sine she had no song-writing talent of her own had roped in a few others to write the lyrics. The tune was to Aqua’s Barbie Girl.  To give it some context, the boy I was allegedly flirting with was the same boy Annie had inadvertently ratted me out to in grade three.  With my usual friends singing this song on repeat I started to wonder around the courtyard alone. I didn’t get very far because Jules and another girl I’ve always liked came up to me and said “that song is so mean, you can hang with us.” So I did for a couple days, until the song blew over.  That was really cool of Jules I have to say. If your curious about the song’s lyrics I remember them in perfect detail.

Jane’s a valley girl, in a valley world

Life with Jane, it’s a pain

When she talks she whines, she does it al the time

Her mind is blank, she’s a skank.

Biography 9: Megan

Megan is my latest Starbucks Barista.  It’s amazing how close you can get to the person who makes your coffee. When I had just moved to Sydney, Australia I was desperate for a place to live and lamented to my Bondi Junction barista in between ordering and picking up my beverage.  I take that “hows your day going?” shit seriously. He told me his dad might have a space and we exchanged numbers. The next week I moved in. Since then I’ve been very serious about my Barista Therapy.

I met Megan at the Starbucks near my mom’s place when I was living there earlier this year after being reno-victed.  Actually my first False Creek barista was Nick but after spending so much time there I got tight with the whole clan.  Megan and I both thought the other was 24 until a less significant barista brought it up. She couldn’t believe I was in my 30s and I could not believe she is 19! Fresh out of high school basically. She’s so open about her struggles and anxiety, I hid that shit from the world until super recently.  She’s got no shame about her therapy, or being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, or casually stalking local musicians, or Instagram flirting with the cobbler’s son. Our Starbucks is next to a cobbler, a florist and a pancake house, the shoe artisans being the most compelling.

When I moved across town, into my own place, I sent Megan a Facebook message that read “Guess where I am!” with a pic of my new Starbucks’ outdoor tiling.  Within 20 minutes I saw her on the street. Bitch is good at her stalking. Turns out my new Starbucks is next to her Wednesday therapy session and we’ve hung out a couple Wednesdays since.  She’s taking me to stalk screenwriters at her favourite coffee shop, Renzo’s.

Megan has an Indian Status card but looks totally white.  “Indian” is a dumb name the Canadian government still uses to indicate First Nations.  She got me hip on where to buy genuine Native Art that actually pays royalties to the artists. So far I’ve gotten a dope magnetic leather card holder and a bunch of incense.  She also sent me some photos from her visit up North, which is cool cuz it’s a place I’ve never been. How odd, since I’ve been around the planet. Note to self, visit Northern British Columbia. I felt reticent about featuring Megan in this bio project since I’m a bit big-sister protective over her and didn’t want her to feel exploited. But I gotta remind myself, that bitch is stronger than me.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 8: Uncle George

My uncle George breaks my heart. He’s the sweetest man but goes un-respected and unloved. My uncle Steve was Grampa’s favourite, since he’s accomplished and smart.

George is an artist, and fragile of heart.

He is honest and loyal and always has my back.

It makes me so sad that people treat him like crap.

He had measles or mumps at a young age, which gramma says held him back. One of those old world children’s diseases we only know from our vaccinations.

Since he had a stroke he’s been kind of  a sad sack, my mom loves to use that phrase with my aunt. But I love him anyway because I can get down with that.

There’s no one funnier who makes me laugh, at the absurdity of the Winnipeg Jets or his frog in a baseball cap. Inside jokes.

He studied animation but someone “stole his idea,” he painted canes but old people prefer chairs with wheels.

He has a customer service job which is kind of insane, since there’s no one crankier at least not that I can name. It’s the kind of thing that let’s me know God has a sense of humour.

I love my uncle George, I love him the best. Fuck all you haters you all fail the test. He’d like that I think, he’d giggle with his chest, water glass bobbles up then down with a mess.

My uncle George makes me cry, so it’s easier to write this in rhyme. There’s too much pain for his bio to be the same and it’s kinda lame but maybe it will get better.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.

Biography 7: Robert

Robert accidentally added me on Facebook. I think he mistook me for the famous publisher whose name is one letter short of mine. I kept him because he posts interesting things.  Like street art which interacts with its surroundings. It’s often funny or at least amusing. One day I told him so. He was thrilled with this unsolicited positive feedback and we began chatting. I shared my blog with him since he is also a writer. He gave me a bunch of pointers. I sat for three hours in Patisserie des Ambassades in Harlem chatting with a completed stranger over messenger. Then I somehow offended him, as I often do, and we didn’t speak again.

Until now, more then a year later, when I saw he is coming to my home city for vacation. I sent him a couple tour tips. He harassed me about my writing. I confessed I hadn’t been doing it. He pushed me. I pushed back. We had it out until we had this bio project idea and I agreed to do it. 10 Bios in 10 Days. He wanted me to write one about him but I didn’t know any of his biographic details. If it had been Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York interviewing Robert I’m pretty sure this is the story he’d get.

Robert has been arrested twice. For stealing Coca Cola vending machines, two of them. I asked Robert if it was the soda he was after or the coins? Turns out he wanted the money but got stuck with 5000 cans of Coke and $1.75. Then he got caught and went to jail. Some connection got him off and he didn’t do any time, instead he got off with paying a small fine. Even though Robert is from New York these shenanigans went down in Texas which somehow make them more believable.  That still didn’t totally explain the bright idea though so I asked him some more. Turns out he had just come off a two year cocain habit and need a rush. Guess that’s why the plan wasn’t well thought out.  I supposed this was a turning point in his life because it showed him how much of a douche he was. Actually those are his words. I felt satisfied with this explanation and Robert must had sensed it because he stopped talking, about that subject anyway.

This story is part of: “10 Bios in 10 Days” by Jane A. F.