Yok-Sen Tse, RIP.

I was six when I first saw my grandfather cry.
He wanted to be Chinese stoic
So he tried
Not to
But out of the corner of his eye
I saw the tear squeeze its way through
And trickle down his weathered cheek
Down down down down
Until it hit the edge and wavered for a second
Before dropping towards the ground.

Fourteen years later and here I stand
Now a man.
Chinese and stoic
But fourteen years ago I learned that
even the stoic shed tears
Even the fearless have fears
So why, as my family crumples around me
Wailing a long lament of life lived and lost
Do I find myself so unable to cry?

When I was three, my grandpa sat me on his knee
And asked me what I wanted to be
When I grew up
I was three
I wanted to be a penguin, fat and fuzzy and free
But Grandpa told me
that in order to carry on the family tree
I must come to be what I did not choose to be
A doctor, cause see
Doctors brought wealth and prestige,
Health and a need
To uphold the name of the family tree
With grandchildren branching out like leaves
I needed to be all that I could be
To ensure that I was worthy of being
A Tse.

Seventeen years later and here I stand
A man.
Not a doctor, but a poet
But grandpa, wouldn’t you know it
I still prescribe powerful potions and pills of poetry to the masses
Injecting intelligence and information to a world that is reeling
Because sometimes, it is not just our bodies that need healing.
So I guess I am a doctor.
I treat my patients with patience
And the wounded with words of wisdom
As I wade waist deep into worldly war zones of waste and wickedness
Grandpa, I hope this is enough for you
I’m sorry I can’t cry for you
I’m sorry you never got the chance to hear me heal with my words

My father always says “yun lo mo yeuk yee”
Which means “there is no medicine for age”
And when I sat massaging your frail hand
Three weeks ago in that hospital room
I realized that it’s true
There is no medicine for age
Your hand was literally a spider’s web
Your body, a skeleton with skin
The only thing remaining that still told me it was you
Was a nametag with your name, and your ridiculously oversized ears.

Age comes to us all
And while age didn’t come gracefully to the most graceful man I have ever known
Still I know
That the constant batter of waves
Can turn to sand even the toughest of stones.
Grandpa, I’ve seen you cry.
And I want you to know that
Even though you can’t see my tears
They’re here.
Hiding somewhere behind this passive face
Is a boy, not a man, who has witnessed your grace

It’s a grace that I hope to carry with me to the grave
They say, “yun lo mo yeuk yee”
But I plan on breaking that mold
So when I’m eighty three
I can sit my grandson on my knee and ask him
What he wants to be
At eighty-three, I plan to be still playing pick-up in the gym with the younger dudes
But since I’ll have two busted knees I’ll just be that old guy who makes smart passes and hits the open three

Grandpa, I never spoke your Chinese.
But that doesn’t stop me from wishing you safe passage
Wherever you may be
And I hope that from your celestial crib, you’ll look down and see
That I turned out to be
Exactly who I wanted to be
And that you’ll be proud of me
happy, in truth and in death’s sweet release

So to my father’s father: I pray you found your way to the father, grandfather.

Rest. In peace.

-Chris Tse


Reflections of a post-op patient

I had my knee surgery last Friday, November 13. It was, in many ways, the end of a long, long journey that has spanned 23 months, taken me through physio clinics from Ottawa to Vancouver, brought me tears, pain, false hope and real hope, and enlightened, educated, emasculated, edified, and caused me to evaluate everything from my faith and identity to my purpose for living. For those of you who think I'm exaggerating, peep the post from June 17.

So as I sit here now, just under a week since the journey ended, I find it somewhat funny that the only thing remaining to remind me of where I've been is three large X's of medical tape, stained crimson and covering the site of the surgeon's incisions. Where his knife entered and put an end to nearly two years of distress, but also divine inspiration.

There is no guarantee that this surgery will get me back to 'normal,' whatever normal was in the first place. I'm no longer the person I was when the injury first happened; indeed, it is odd I even consider that the operation will make me who I was, because who I was is no longer who I am, or wish to be.

I may never run competitively again. I may never again feel the pure adrenaline rush of rounding the bend on the bell lap of the 800m, lungs threatening to explode and legs threatening to collapse from under me. I may never again pop ollies off the sidewalk, land a roundhouse kick in sparring, or negate a shaky handle and suspect jumpshot by simply being able to blow past everyone.

But it doesn't matter. Maybe it did, back when I was who I used to be. But who I used to be is not who I am now. And who I am now knows that whatever comes of this surgery, the past has made me strong enough to handle it.

"So I hope that you all see, that there’s beauty in the darkness if we choose to see, that the starkness of what we now are proves to be, a reflection of what we’ve survived and what we now know. So embrace the boulder on your shoulders, with a touch as soft as snow."
- Nathanael Larochette


Current Musical Gold: Installment 2

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."


Current Musical Gold: Installment 2 (in no particular order)
1. Family Business - Kanye West
2. Boom Boom Pau - Super Mash Bros
3. Spring - Free Will
4. Thief - Brooke Fraser
5. Ghetto Gospel - Tupac
6. Slither - Velvet Revolver
7. World Spins Madly On - The Weepies



Blast from the Past #5 - We've Already Forgotten

BFTP #5 - We've Already Forgotten
Type: editorial
For: Coquitlam Now editorials
Written: November 2007 (grade 12)


61 years ago, Roosevelt, Stalin, and Churchill met at Yalta, on the coast of Ukraine. There, they discussed and argued and agreed, emerging from the conference with a new proclamation that effectively brought an end to World War II. 61 years ago, 42000 of this nation’s bold citizens died in combat or from wounds inflicted in combat, fighting together against an enemy who sought to rid the world of justice and diversity and impose its own maniacal agenda on free people. 61 years ago, Canada truly became a country proud of its soldiers, though sadly, the attitude came too late for many World War I veterans, who were neglected and abandoned after returning home from battle. 61 years later, we’ve completely forgotten.

When you read this, it’ll be Friday, and almost every single school across this fair land will be holding their own Remembrance Day assemblies. Students will be given a poppy, marched down to the gymnasium, and seated on the bleachers. There will be an honor guard of local cadets, maybe a speech or two, and a slideshow, and possibly a piper. And then a trumpet or bugle, usually played by a student, will belt out the “Last Post”, everyone will observe a moment of silence, and then the kids will return to their classes. The ones who skipped the assembly will come back from wherever they went, and life goes on.

Remembrance Day has lost its meaning in this country. I can’t speak for the adults, but for the children in the schools, it is no longer a thing of true remembrance and commemoration. Even those who have grandparents who were soldiers do not seem to realize the importance of this day. Instead, it has become just another stat holiday, much like Thanksgiving or Easter, except without the fat bird to grace the table. Remembrance Day does give us a cause to remember, but for the wrong reason. Instead of reminding us about the brave men and women who died so that we could live the way we do, it reminds us of the hard-learned fact that these days, society leaves them behind. The world works in a constant cycle of consuming and discarding, with no time for gratitude or even enjoyment. We take what we are given, and use it without appreciation. The sentiment that seems to prevail is that the wars were fought long ago, the freedom was won long ago, and the soldiers died long ago. Yet, does this give us cause to forget? If anything, it should give us more reason to remember. Life is a precious commodity; time doesn’t change that. Lives lost long ago should be just as cherished as lives lost yesterday.

The soldiers who are risking their lives to defend liberty right now in Afghanistan are no different. Some of them have died; that is the reality of war. And when they die, they make the front page on the newspapers, and the headlines at 6 o’clock. Their military funerals are broadcast straight to our televisions for the whole nation to witness, and their bodies are sent back to Canada for proper burials. We all watch, and we all say, “how sad,” and maybe some of us even shed a tear or two. But a week later, it’s over and done with. We’ve done our part; we’ve participated in the memory of the fallen.

I suppose I shouldn’t expect much else; after all, few of us were around when the last big war took place, so we only know what happened according to our history textbooks. But just imagining the pain, hurt, and absolute hell that our veterans went through to bring us peace assures me, without the slightest of doubts, that they deserve more than what we’re giving them right now.


Lest We Forget - Foreword to BFTP 5

This was written as an editorial; now it is a tribute. On this day, we pay homage to the hundreds of thousands who have lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom and happiness. Whether that freedom and happiness come at the expense of the freedom and happiness of others is a debate that will rage until the end of conflict itself. Perhaps Jean-Francois Lyotard was correct in saying that the advancement of humanity is synonymous with violence, and thus humanity is doomed to progress without true progress. Regardless, what is man without ideals? Beliefs for which to stand upon, opinions for which we go to war?

This day is not about what we believe or why we believe it. This day is about the idea of belief so strong that we are willing to lay down our lives. On this day, I discriminate against none - peacekeepers, marines, suicide bombers, medics, gang kids, mothers, brothers have all fallen in the pursuit of ideal.

This day is for remembrance. Lest we forget.


Boxscore from November 8, 2009

48-36 for Wishing Wells (L)

Name of the game: Soldier on

3-4 from the line
8 points
8 rebounds
7 assists
3 steals
3 blocks

Newsflash: Playing defense 1v5 is hard.


Things learned from November 4, 2009

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." - Helen Keller

It's so easy to feel overwhelmed by the weight of my own problems, let alone the world's problems. If I've got so much crap to deal with, how can I be expected to try and change the world? What little I have to offer won't make an ounce of difference anyway, right?

Not according to the most incredible blind, deaf woman the world has ever known. Frick, I hate feeling convicted because it reminds me that I actually have to get off my butt and do something once in a while. Damn you, Miss Keller. Damn you.


Boxscore from November 2, 2009

78-74 for Black is Back (W)

Name of the game: Channeling Steve Nash

6-8 from the line
14 points
4 rebounds
15 assists (thank you, thank you)
4 steals
2 blocks

Newsflash: I have acquired a new injury!