LINES in #Chile

I wrote this in pieces on my phone over SIX HOURS I had to wait at the PDI (police department of international affairs…roughly) one day:

10 am. At PDI I had to register and get my Chile ID card. Without that, I can’t open a bank account, my employer isn’t allowed to deduct my taxes (which means I can’t stay here). First, there was a line to get into the building. Then, I was given a ticket with a letter and number – just like at the cambio yesterday ! It looks like they do a lot of different things here, which is why it’s SO busy: not just registration for foreigners like me, but for citizens too, plus tourist visas, replacement cards for all of these. By number alone, there were over 200 people ahead of me, but it was more than that because of the letters too – no idea what they meant.

10:30 am: There’s a recruitment slide show playing too, and it pulls no punches – the opportunity to break up human and drug trafficking, seizing insane illegal guns!

11 am: I’m standing RIGHT under a fan now. Bliss. Was just thinking I should’ve brought water. If I thought about it, I would’ve guessed they’d search bags and not let water bottles in – but no screening at all.

12:30: I’m also a little bit sick: just a sore throat, in the evening a bit tight in my chest. Illeana gave me some flu medicine last night, and offered to get me some more today. Would lie to shake it before my orientation Friday. I’m guessing it’s from the stale air on the plane(s), and the last-minute running around the week before that. (also not helping: my body fighting theIUD, causing the non-period cramps)

1 pm: As busy as it is, it’s moving quickly. And the line just to pay ( must me done before you can be seen) just keeps getting longer. Who knows how long the lineup outside is now?

1: 20: I feel like I really stick out here. I did in China of course – I expected to, there – but I feel really obvious here, too. I don’t feel that people are overtly looking at me, like they DID in China. Maybe I just feel like it, I’m self-conscious.

2 pm: Maybe I should’ve had another coffee. Or BROUGHT coffee.

2:15 pm: I wonder if there’s any point to the lineup, with the ribbons (Is that what they’re called? the line-up…things? Why don’t I know this??) Or if it’s just a means of crown control, or to the show people the line IS moving. There are enough numbers ahead of me – and a while other half to this room full of seats , full of people (150+ ?) that I’m sure I’m going to be standing around to wait even after I clear the line. And the. There’s the numbers. It doesn’t appear there’s an express line or any jumping of the queue.

2:30 pm: I also really hope I have everything. Maybe it was foolish to come here without having been to the office first. But Peter at the consulate said to go in the first week, and the guy at the airport was clear too. I was told: the doc from the consulate, my passport. I’ve got me bit folder with my work contract too – and everything else – just in case. If it turns out I’m missing something, oh well. Them’s the breaks. Adventure!

2:40 pm: I suspect some of the people waiting are in fact waiting for others to get their paperwork done: that they don’t have numbers themselves.

2:45 pm: I was going to find a metro card after this, but I think instead I’ll go home and have lunch first!

2:50 pm: HERE’s a problem I didn’t expect: the fellow who spoke to me yesterday at the immediately addressed me as “tu”. I couldn’t figure out if that was because (he guessed?) I was younger, if we were in a similar situation, or was he instantly being friendly. I can’t very well assume anything but “usted” can I ?

3 pm: Not sure what happens when the current line runs out. THEN you get to grab a chair? If you can find one?

At 3:35, I got my turn, and 10 minutes later, I had my temporary ID. WHEN the real one arrives, I couldn’t tell you!

Photos of #Chile : #Santiago Centro

On my walk around Central Santiago, there were bells ringing from all the churches, and ladies weaving palm fronds for people as they went into mass. I’m looking forward to Easter here next week – I can’t fathom what it’ll be like.

VOTE. You. Have. To. VOTE. Part 1 #vote #canada

The horrors have been coming so thick and fast that no one can process them all. Which is part of the strategy, clearly: throw in all the immigration, abortion, and press bans, one right after the other, and there are too many things to nail down and protest.

Which is why I am — for the moment — still happy and relieved to be Canadian. Because we still have time.

The solution is very simple, so simple we already know what it is, but it does take work. Part of the issue has been simple complacency, the old “we took for granted” that racism, sexism, and hate speech weren’t as bad in Canada, and we made the false assumption that “not as bad as” meant “no problem at all.” Pretty obvious now that assumption was incorrect. So the obvious, simple way to combat all that is to: STOP. IT.

People who aren’t white are being harassed. When you see that, stop it. Call the police. Yell. Start carrying a black marker with you, and when you see hate propaganda posters anywhere, DON’T tear them down, but write this across them: Section 319 (1) . That’s “hate speech”, in the Criminal Code of Canada.

CANADIANS EVERYWHERE, in Canada, living outside of it, ALL OF YOU:

Write to your MLA, your premier, your MP, and the Prime Minister. Today, every day. Tell them that what it happening in the US will not happen here.

And if the new president wants to get shirty, I am willing to live without avocados. I survived without a car most of my adult life. If things get so tough that I can’t get a job in Canada, I now have the ability to teach pretty much anywhere in the world, and come back…thanks to my Canadian passport. That’s how lucky I am.

Refugees — NOT “migrants” for god’s sake! — are worse than unlucky. They are in danger. People who are anything but white-Caucasian, are in danger.

Canada is better than the US. Prove it, and make the people we elected to represent us prove it.

Best friends: A very small note for Andrew Ridgeley and Mark Hamill.

My mom died when I was fourteen.  Remember that for later.

When I was 17, I knew a guy at my Roman-Catholic high school named Jason. He was tall, nice-looking, and the prototypical life of the party. He died of a massive heart attack when we were in grade 12. He’d had a congenital heart defect which he and his family knew about — but very few people at school did. Our school held a memorial service for him, and I happened to sit near the front. I clearly saw Jason’s closest friend, and later wrote in my journal “Please help him God, he looks like I did three years ago.”

He was sitting in the pews beside the altar. With the family.

My first thought when George Michael died was for Andrew Ridgeley.  Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go was released in 1984. I was 9 years old, in grade 4. I loved George, obviously, but it was Andrew I had a crush on – he looked more attainable to me (for a superstar adult who lived in Britain). He looked nice. It always bothered me a bit whenever I heard a joke about him years later (“the other one from Wham!”), because I had felt overlooked all the time too. But think about this: they’d known each other since they were 17 years old. He was likely the first person George ever told he was gay…in the early 80s.  Yes, George Michael was the utterly talented, charismatic sex symbol. Yet I think it’s now very clear, there would have been no George Michael without Andrew.

And in the same week…Carrie Fisher. Whom I adored so much in When Harry Met Sally, but who had to forever after be Princess Leia. Princess. A princess who can lead an army, shoot a laser, fix a spaceship… oh that’s not normal? Oh well, that’s what 10-year-old me thought a princess was.  Sorry Disney.  Another reason I looked up to her: she was so pretty, yet not unachievably beautiful, like the supermodels my sisters and friends and I were inundated with in the 80s and 90s. , Carrie Fisher I could actually look like! (I didn’t remotely resemble her, but I felt I could.)

Amongst the explosions, taun-tauns, Ewoks, and VADER, my favourite scene in all the  Star Wars movies is Luke asking Leia about her mother. Yes, I loved, loved, loved Han and Leia, but I identified with Luke and Leia. They were destined to be best friends. And I always felt that same twinge about Mark Hamill whenever I heard a joke about him.  Whatever else happened (or didn’t) after, he was Luke Skywalker.  And there would have been no Princess Leia, no Carrie, without Mark.

Hug your closest friends. Be the best friend who becomes family.

 

Kabuki Theatre and Oiwa #theatre

I am a theatre junkie. Kabuki is at least as old as Shakespeare.  It’s one of THE drama traditions I heard about as soon as I decided theatre was my life. Going to a kabuki play was on my must-do list while I was in Tokyo, but it was also felt, for me, like going to a cathedral and I hadn’t been to confession.

The Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginzu, Tokyo, the largest in Japan.

The Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginzu, Tokyo, the largest in Japan.

Billboard for the show outside the theatre. Of course no photos were allowed during the show.

Billboard for the show outside the theatre. Of course no photos were allowed during the show.

It was utterly amazing. It was actually four short pieces I saw, which — with intervals when you could get full meals and beer to have at your seat! — was three and half hours long. The style of acting and the men playing women (I’ll need to post about that separately—because) took some getting used to, because it’s so utterly different from any show I’ve ever seen before, and that’s part of the reason it was enthralling.

One of MANY screens hiding the stage over the performance.

One of MANY screens hiding the stage over the performance.

Everything I felt seeing my first kabuki was wrapped up in what I’d felt earlier that day while trying to track down Oiwa…the main character in one of Japan’s creepiest ghost stories, most famous kabuki plays (I didn’t see that one, sadly), and many of the country’s successful horror films.

There are a few different versions of Oiwa’s story: here’s one of the shortest, yet best and scariest. Horror and/or Japanese film fans will recognise her likeness from the Ringu series.

I have presumed to put her into one of my stories…the short film I started work on in France over the summer, and the related feature-length screenplay I just drafted. They both concern domestic violence, culture clashes, racism, sexism, revenge, and guilt.

Theatre people are, put mildly, superstitious. We call it “The Scottish Play” or “McBoo”. We leave a “ghost light” on in the middle of the stage when the theatre is otherwise empty and dark. And in Japan, whenever an actor onstage, or an actress on film, takes the role of Oiwa, they go to her shrine in Tokyo and ask Oiwa’s permission to play her.

And that’s what I did too.

The shrine in Yotsuya, Tokyo.

The shrine in Yotsuya, Tokyo.

The trope of the Maiden Ghost, based on Oiwa, has appeared in so many incarnations now that she’s thrown the first pitch in a baseball game. Which sounds silly, but I find it actually shows that Japan takes her as seriously as kabuki; she is embedded in Japanese culture — everyone knows her, and everyone, in a strange way, loves her. She embodies something genuinely wrong — vengeance — but it’s something everyone understands and has, at some point, wanted against someone else. I’m frightened by and enthralled by her.

I hope it’s not cultural appropriation — Gore Verbinski’s remade Ringu, quite well, I thought. Yes, I went to visit Tokyo to see the city, yes I met up with an old friend who’s been in Japan 14 years. However…I also went to Tokyo specifically to visit Oiwa’s shrine and ask “is this okay?” I hope it is.

A closer look at one grave.

A closer look at one grave.

Cemetery behind the shrine.

Cemetery behind the shrine.

Photos of #Japan : #Asakusa , #Tokyo

Asakusa is the neighbourhood where I stayed, still very much Tokyo, but quiet and hip. It’s where I had the best burger, doughnut, and sushi of my life (so far).

Photos of #Japan : The East #Imperial Gardens, #Tokyo

The East Gardens of the Imperial Palace of Japan…distinct from THE Imperial Gardens because those are immediately around the current Palace, and are off-limits.  And what you do get to see is utterly magnificent, and huge — I was there nearly three hours and didn’t see everything.