The Fine Young Cannibals: The Raw & The Cooked Album (1988)


4 o’clock am, captain’s log:

First things off, I’d like to take this time to thank my insanely low
tolerance for caffeine for making this late-night/early-morning sleepless escapade possible. Thanks to you, my friend, that ginger ale I drank at 1:30pm is still very much existent in my bloodstream. Or my spleen or whatever—There’s a reason I’m not in science.

On the bright side, I guess this puts an end to my 4-day writer’s block which has possessed me ever since mum passed away last Friday. If mum can hear me right now or whatever—I’m not religious—I know she would never want to be the cause of my writer’s block. Cus’ if anything, she was one of my biggest—if not the biggest supporter.

It kinda sucks that it had to take all of this to truly appreciate all that she was. For example, just the other night, I watched Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom with the cousins. Backstory: Mum always urged me to watch some Wes Anderson because I’m a film nut but I never found the time to do so—end of backstory.

“Mum didn’t stop smiling the entire duration of The Fine Young Cannibals album—which just made me dance harder and crazier.”

Where do I even start? Well on top of his perfect balance of close-up,
medium, and long distance shots, he had a sick controlled colour palette that really encapsulated the time period. The composition? Impeccable. The cross-cutting shots? Quintessential. Point being, I’m probably
boring the hell out of whoever is reading this, but never mum, no, she never complained. After every movie I watched, I would boast about the brilliance of the film. And after every bad movie I watched, I would rant to her about the stupidity of the film. The best part? She actually listened to me and discussed the jargon that I learned from the three film-making video lessons I found online. And when she was done with listening, she gave the best advice. 

For example: "No skateboarding in the house! Get a hobby! Sarah*, take your damn volleyball out of the salad bowl"—(True story!)

No but seriously, if “Sarah 101” was a college course, she’d definitely be the professor; she knew me better then myself. Frick, I wrote the wrong “than.” See, this is just another reason I miss her, she was the best dictionary/peer-editor/thesaurus; she always knew what word I was thinking of.

When we had our weekly book-reading sessions, I’d always make sure she was within reaching distance so I could ask her about words I didn’t understand. I swear, she could define each word, it’s synonyms, as well as use it in a sentence (maybe that’s why she was such a good study buddy for the spelling bees I used to do). Most people stopped when they were kids, reading books with their mum, but we never did. It was our bonding time, our chance to go on adventures with our favourite characters like Junie B. Jones and Lennie Walker, from the safety of my twin bed.

We were so compatible, mum and me (and not just because we’re huge English nerds). Just a couple months ago, we discovered that we had similar taste in music; It ranged from Johann Bach to Black
, classical to classic rock, and we both played the ukulele. The only difference in taste is when I wanted to listen to “sad” songs; she always used her veto for “happy” ones. I liked to show her new songs that I thought she’d love, and in return, she showed me old songs she thought I’d like.

I’ll never forget the day we spent playing all of her favourite cd’s. It was just the two of us and I needed music to “study” for my English lit final.

Disclaimer: I say “study” with “quotation marks” because I was really just skimming, pretending that Elton John’s ballads weren’t interrupting my train of thought.

When I did finally finish studying, I was feeling pretty “bleh” from the heavy content. She suggested I hula-hoop my worries away. I asked if she knew any good hula-hooping songs. She had me read out her entire cd and vinyl collection to her—which she
alphabetized, of course. I was on the last row and
losing my talking stamina fast when she told me to
stop on The Fine Young Cannibals. I pressed play and recognized track one, “She Drives Me Crazy,”
immediately.And just like that, our dancing bodies
were taken over by the characters in The Breakfast Club. Heads banging, hands flailing, we were having a time and a half together.

See, I’d been hooked on that makes-you-dance kinda music ever since mum told my sister and me about the musical she choreographed in Elementary school (she had the entire class dance to “Gimme Shelter” by The Rolling Stones, it was legendary).

Mum didn’t stop smiling the entire duration of The Fine Young Cannibals album—which just made me dance harder and crazier. It’s funny, she has this saying she always said, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” But after that impromptu dance party for two, I’m changing it to “Dance like only mum’s watching.”

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, mum was sick at sports. Not only was she short but speedy, but she also obliterated the stereotype of “playing like a girl.” She could always anticipate where the ball was going—a key reason why my friends always wanted her and dad to play volleyball in the backfield with us teens. Whether it was baseball, volleyball, basketball, or hockey, mum excelled at them all (no wonder she was the captain of so many of her high school sports teams). That and the fact that she was always so positive and encouraging, no matter the situation.

She had the best outlook on life, all the philosophers I learned about in school never stood a chance. Among a family of perfectionists, she revealed the cons of that mindset, the centre of my anxieties.
Finally, I get it: there is no such thing as perfect.
But for the record, if there was, she’d be the closest thing to it.

Long before my diagnosis, we visited dozens of counsellors together in hopes of finding the right fit for me. She never gave up on me, even when I gave up on myself. And in the fall of my senior year, when the doctor told me I had major depressive disorder, she worked even harder for me to relocate the happiness I had lost. She helped me be happy again, it just took me a while to realize it.

She helped me find joy in the ordinary which sounds cliché but is nevertheless true. When I was unable to leave my bed due to sheer exhaustion, she would lie on my bed with me for hours or however long it took.

At school, when my social anxiety got the better of me, I’d call her crying from the bathroom stall and she’d stay on the phone with me until I calmed down from my panic attacks.

She was the most selfless person I’ve ever met, and I get to call her mum. How cool is that. Better yet, how cool was she? Answer: super.

Cus’ that was what she was like to me, and continues to be: Super-mum. My dad? super-dad. Sister? Super-sis. And my cat? Super-moo. We’re like the incredibles except less white and more asian.

Throughout this whole ordeal, we’ve become closer than ever before. The members of my family are my best friends. Dad’s really stepped up his game, and my sister has become my adult goals. Heck, even the cat has stopped pooping on our furniture
(I hope I didn’t just jinx that). Even though she wouldn’t want to take credit, she never liked the spotlight, mum made this happen. She taught us that, like us, life is short, and we better make the most of it.

And hey, congrats mum, you did it; you’re still managing to teach us life lessons in the after-life. Guess that’s cus’ you never left.

I feel you with me when I read.
I feel you with me when I write.
I feel you with me when I sing.
I feel you with me when I dance.
I feel you with me when I’m happy.
I feel you with me when I’m sad.

Basically, I feel like you’re with me all the time. Cus’ it’s true, you’re in all of our hearts forever. I’m gonna read all of your favourite books, watch all of your favourite movies, and learn the lyrics of all of your favourite songs...Just not now, it’s getting late—or is it early? It’s like 6:00am as I write this. Ugh, I should really listen to you and stop drinking caffeine in the afternoon. Like you always said, mum knows best.

Goodnight mum, I love you.

Megan Kwan