Wednesday, December 8, 2010

If only looks were everything, then my mother would have had it all.

My mom passed away yesterday, December 6th, 2010, at about 2:30 in the morning.

It's been a long time, but she was finally relieved of her suffering and welcomed back to where she was always meant to be: a far better place than here on earth.

I was looking through old albums last night--a very typical post-death activity, no doubt--and it's always strange to see people you've always considered "old" since the time you were born... young, and realize that, that's right, they had an entire lifetime behind them too. The archetype of a "mother" seems so timeless that it's hard for someone young like me to imagine my mom in any other role.

But I think what's especially interesting is that my mom's face (biological thanks to my grandma) never really changed. 20 years later, she still looked pretty much the same... until the last year when she lost all of that. But maybe it's convenient at least for me that I'll always have the same face in my memory, her forever youthful and cheerful expression, an immortal image of a woman who wasn't as immortal as I had thought after all.

Still, my mother was so beautiful. She will always be beautiful to me.

The moral of this entry? Let's see. That we'll all eventually die, I suppose.

I know this has become the cliche thing to ponder about, the repetitive theme of too many pieces of literature, the conclusion that all science points to. We know that people die, that there are seasons, there are generations, there are civilizations. We have evidence of it in history and we hear about it everyday. We know it as a fact.

But we will never, ever be able to understand it. We have no idea what it means to live and die--and to no surprise; after all, who has lived and died before and come back to tell the tale?

All I know is that my mother is so very beautiful.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Macarons have feelings, too.

Last week, I held a birthday tea party and my friend presented me with a beautiful box of macarons from Point G, a boutique in Mont Royal famous for just that. Seeing that I have a slight obsession with anything colourful and tea party-like, macarons were the perfect gift-- and, for the record, also incredibly photogenic.

I never really liked taking pictures of people; I very much prefer inanimate objects. They have feelings too. So I hope you enjoy this photo entry as much as I do-- just use a bit of imagination.

Aisle Seat

The Texture of Confetti


Fellowship of the Ring

You Belong With Me



The Land of Dr. Seuss

The Two Towers


Cliff Diving


Mumbo Jumbo

A Walk Along the Beach


It's food after all.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

When giving thanks is really giving reasons to give thanks.

And that was this year's Thanksgiving, here and gone again.

In my first year of university three years ago, I remember going to a friend's apartment for an awkward gathering, awkward because nobody really knew anybody else that well in October of their first year of university. Then in the past two years, I went to another friend's where she hosted scrumptious Thanksgiving dinners for a few friends, two years consecutively. Now that she's graduated, this year, I was invited to another friend's place for a nice chicken dinner, and I baked a cake to bring for dessert. I'm very, very grateful that I've been able to spend all four Thanksgivings of my university life having good food with good company.

It's not hard to count my blessings. I'm thankful for a lot of things, and very often too. Of course, like all people, there are some things I'm sure I take for granted without realizing, but generally, I feel that knowing when to be grateful for what I have is not one of my weaknesses.

But sometimes, I also feel that it's become a sort of ritual thinking for myself. It's like convincing myself that my life is worth living, that there are things I have that some people in this world don't have, that there is some kind of higher value in my quality of life that puts it above the lowest possible.

But I hate it. In counting my blessings, I also unintentionally compare my life to other people's, and whether it's better or worse than whatever I compare it to, it's just as bad. If it is better, I am comforted by the thought that there are people suffering worse things out there. If it is worse, I am bitter about the fact that life is, indeed, unfair and that I have the short end of the stick. Either way, they are horrible thoughts.

I can be thankful-- and I am truly thankful for these things-- for being alive, having a family, having friends, having access to some amount of money, being able to receive an education. Many people have these-- although I suppose that shouldn't be a factor in whether or not I need to be thankful for these things. But on the other hand, if I were to go into a little more detail, I would say that I am alive while constantly struggling with existentialism, that I have a family of a dying mother, an absent father, two caring but elderly grandparents and the rest hovering somewhere between 'acquaintances' and 'strangers'; friends that can only ever be friends at most and can never fill in as family, money that I have access to, yes, but not money that is mine while I continue to sink deeper into debt, and lastly, I only wish I had a higher intelligence so I could receive an education free of charge.

Yes, I've heard the phrase "There are people in this world who don't have even that!" many times, and yes, that is very true. But like a friend said to me before, it's like a person who's lost one arm, and a person who's lost both arms. Yes, the person who has both arms missing is probably in more pain in comparison, but that doesn't cancel out the fact that the person with one arm gone is also in pain.

Well, I had decided long ago that the only reasonable thing to do in any case was to just make the most out of what I have. It doesn't matter if it's unfair, or that some people have much more available to them or were born with advantages and into better circumstances; this is what I have, and that's that, so make do with it. And feeling the frustration of one seeing someone else with clear advantages over oneself, I can only imagine what it must feel to be someone looking at me and feeling the same way. At least I should do what that someone looking at me would wish they could do if they had what I had, which may not be much to me but so much more to that someone else.

This is also one of the reasons why I am personally so against suicide, or abortion, even. So many opportunities at life willfully wasted, while so many people struggle to grasp the same thing but to no avail. It makes me so sad. But that is another matter.

All in all, I think Thanksgiving is generally a wonderful time of the year, despite the fact that people should really get into the habit of giving thanks all the time and not just once a year. I suppose it doesn't have as big of a meaning to me for this reason (which I guess is a good thing?), but it does give an excuse to have dinner parties that create that warm and fuzzy feeling for me as we gather around the dinner table. The challenge for me then, I guess, is to someday be able to give thanks without that other negative side, to be able to count my blessings and truly think of them as blessings in themselves and not in relation to anything else.

I'll work on it.

And in case anyone is wondering, the picture at the top of this entry isn't related to anything mentioned in this post. I just thought it was pretty and decided to include it. Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What is with bamboo?

I was having lunch with a friend at one of the school cafeterias this morning, and what do you know? Bamboo chopsticks. Well, aren't they fancy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The "eco" in eco-friendly definitely doesn't stand for economically.

These days, it seems like if it isn't "eco-friendly", it's not cool. "Earth-friendly beauty" in terms of make-up is a total paradox in my opinion. They really try, don't they?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Living the student life.

I had spent a week or two dedicated to getting some writing done every night, but I've been finding it more and more difficult to set aside a chunk of time to just sit and be creative. Acting as the president this year for the departmental association of East Asian Studies at McGill has given me a lot more miscellaneous tasks to get done-- emails to send, meetings to attend, events to organize-- and by the end of the day, I'm just exhausted to the point that I don't want to do anything but sit and... well, do nothing. But yes, this is basically all just one huge excuse for not having been productive in my writing as I would have liked to be, as usual.

In any case, aside from dealing with school-related activities and going to class, what I've been doing lately can basically be summarized by the following images.

Basically, a decent amount of calories. But on a more serious note, I suppose I've just been trying to distract myself with a bunch of things that I've been hoping would serve as forms of therapeutic activities, in one way or another. Socializing, having a few drinks, baking, doing some brainless reading... it's been quite enjoyable so far, although I'm not quite sure if it's really achieved anything. Probably not.

Speaking of which, "brainless reading" is a horrible oxymoron. But I can assure you that it was quite true and very applicable in this case. I have never been one for reading chick lit-- in fact, I had only come across the term "chick lit" when I actually looked up what kind of genre these books would fall under. Out of the many books I've read in the past, I have only ever read approximately three "chick lit" novels in my life (excluding stuff like The Babysitters' Club when I was in elementary school, and even that could go under 'mystery'), but I was feeling particularly stressed one day, and so, picked up two of these chick lit novels from Indigo.

I'm not sure what to say. I've read another book by this 'Sophie Kinsella' (which, I read, turns out to be a pseudonym) before back in my high school days. I've never read The Confessions of a Shopaholic, but I had happened to pick up another one of her books called Can you Keep a Secret? at a book fair when I was on vacation in Asia one summer, and desperate for anything in the English language. Then, years later, I picked up this one called Remember Me? at the bookstore last week. And well... the two books are basically the same. Office ladies stuck in a junior position until, by some stroke of luck, they meet a multimillionaire and off goes this ridiculous romance where-- for some unfathomable reason-- a regular, base-salary office lady with (really) minimal intelligence would suddenly attract a social elite, thus given another opportunity at "a better life", half supported by this horrid excuse of a romantic relationship and the other half by the idea that the guy is, in fact, very rich.

I don't know, I just felt dumber and dumber the longer I read this book. Which, fortunately, didn't take very long at all. But I wonder how these kinds of books manage to have such a huge audience-- I mean, sure, it can be seen as a sort of fantasy relevant to the billions of women working in cramped offices in dull, urban landscapes everyday, but... really? I don't understand. I just remember myself hoping throughout the entire novel that the protagonist didn't actually reflect the psyche of an average woman in the 21st century. It's a little horrifying and, well, embarrassing.

Anyway, I'm now reading my second Kirino Natsuo novel, called Grotesque. I read her other novel, Out, quite a few years back and I liked it. I'm only about two chapters into this one so far, but it's probable that things are going to get more, er, grotesque soon and I'm pretty excited. Kirino is a thriller, murder-mystery novelist and, from reviews I've heard and the one other book I've read from her, I'm hoping she might do a decent job in this one too.

I'm rather glad that I'm not taking any English courses this semester for once. I'm only 3 credits away from completing my English program, so I just have one more course on American literature in the Winter semester; in the meantime, I'm free from English classes this semester. In the past two years, I had been taking mostly English courses and often felt horribly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of reading and writing-- which is to be expected of an English program, I understand, and I appreciated this, just that it gave me no time at all to read anything for leisure and not for class. So I'm hoping to use this year to get some work outside of school done, while I still can.

Should be fun!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Like a bottle tossed into the ocean.

Today, I received my first sympathy card.

Actually, I think it's a bit too early to receive one as my mother is still alive. But it struck me as something so strange and foreign, like it's hard to believe that it's truly meant for me. The formality doesn't seem quite appropriate yet for someone my age. Sympathy for who, me?

But then I remember, that when my mother does pass away, it won't matter how old or how ready I am to receive the entirety of being a mature member of society. I will have to do it regardless, because no one else will do it for me.

I suppose this may come as a surprise for anybody who may be reading this entry, but this summer has been so very stressful for me. It was so long and tiring, and because I had decided it would be even more tiring to share what I was experiencing with others, I had kept it to myself. To give a short summary, my mother was hospitalized for a few weeks in July and is now on palliative care at home. Basically, just over a month ago, we were told that my mother (who is suffering from heart and kidney disease which then entails many other dysfunctions within her body as a result) is incurable and has a life expectancy of approximately one year left. Putting the details of my mental state throughout the summer aside for another day, the summer progressed and is now coming to an end, with me getting ready to leave home again for my last year of university in Montreal.

Two friends and I went for a walk along the West Dyke Trail this afternoon. It was a splendid time of taking photos, climbing hills and chasing grasshoppers as we would have 10 years ago. But as our energy levels died down after a while and my friends were occupied with studying the many plants available for viewing at the public garden, I detached myself from them for a bit and turned around to look at the landscape behind us.

As I stood there staring across the field into the far distance, I suddenly felt a strong sense of loneliness, of a fear for the future that is appearing to be so forlorn and desolate; a life without my mother. The strong breeze, the rustling of dry grass, the bright but sunless sky that reached into neverending space... the sudden occurrence that the world is so vast and empty hit me so rapidly that I could only think of one thing: I am scared to be left alone in a world like this. At that moment, I felt as if I was frozen in a place where my past was but a faint flicker; the future seemed blank like the pitiless sky that-- unlike us-- will always exist, surpassing time and space, and I will be here and gone like a vapour in the wind.

You might think that I am a bit too young to think of these things, but keep in mind that having a dying mother at home and all... well, I can't help but be constantly wrapped in a cloud of slightly existentialistic melancholy. Life is so very short. Growing up with a single mother has made me an independent person-- indeed, probably much more independent than most girls my age-- but also extremely aware of my vulnerability as someone who will be completely on her own in this world without my mother.

Well, in any case, I still have some more time at school to decide what to do by myself from here on. But only so much time, and I will have to make my decisions soon. But you never know, many things can happen within a year's time. As even this short, summer season has proven.

Where will I go from here?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I've never had blackberries before, actually.

Today, I'd like to address the topic of those handheld devices that every other young person seems to have these days called the "BlackBerry".

The first time I learned about the BlackBerry was in high school, when a friend of mine worked at Bell Mobility and received a BlackBerry to use, free of charge, for working there. Not that anyone she knew had a Blackberry back then since most of the people who used it were businessmen, but it seems to have become the complete opposite in recent days.

It started with some people I knew who were studying commerce in university. It was the "cool" thing to have if you want to do business-- or rather, at that point in time for them, if they wanted to be pretentious. All these university students started popping up with a BlackBerry of their own, furiously typing away text messages to their other [spoiled] friends that own a BlackBerry, or distracted at work or in class by the small screen through which they browse the internet... because who can stay away from the internet for more than a few hours these days?

The BlackBerry isn't the most cost-effective phone, since the phone itself is quite expensive in addition to the monthly fees you have to pay. I guess I don't really have a problem with that since it is your choice whether you want to spend that much money on a 4 inch piece of plastic and metal, but what I do find [even more] ridiculous is the BlackBerry Messenger service, commonly known as "BBM".

If you take the bus in the Greater Vancouver area, the most common ads you'll see over your head are-- other than the annoying sex sense ad with a picture of two teenagers making out-- the ads for the BlackBerry that span across two ad spaces. At the bottom of the ad would be one of many horrible slogans that the company came up with, like "Define your friends from your frenemies", "Get connected with your inner, inner circle", "If you can't say it here, you probably can't say it". Personally, I think the most outrageous (or not?) goes something along the lines of "You know they know you know they read it". Apparently, BBM records if the other person has read your message or not in a conversation.

Why would anyone want that? I think the only thing it would be convenient for is if you're in an emergency and you type "HELP" to someone, and if you know they've read it, at least you can have a peace of mind that help may be on its way. But that is an unlikely situation. Instead, it seems to me like this is going to create a whole lot more drama for the tweens, teens, and young people out there using this device. Why would you want to know if someone has read your message or not if it's not that important? Why would you want someone else to know that you have read their message? What happened to privacy?

I don't think I'd like it very much if people knew what I did on my own phone. I can read your message and decide to reply or not, whenever I want. Why would I want anyone else to know what I do? I also don't need people to know where I am 24/7, so I don't see why I would need BBM. But without BBM, what is the point of getting a BlackBerry, at my age anyway? Oh, who am I kidding, it's not necessary at any age, really. But I find it especially devastating that young people are getting attracted to this type of thing, spending money and signing a contract they probably don't need and most likely can't afford on their own. Do you really need to talk to your friends all the time? There are so many better ways to connect with your friends, and I hardly think text messaging is one of the most effective ways in doing so.

Perhaps it's just especially annoying for me when I see my friends checking their BlackBerry every other minute when I am hanging out with them, or teenagers not being able to look away from their little screens for over a minute during a short bus ride. Sure you can stay "connected" to your friends this way, but I think I'd much rather spend quality time in person, or even on the phone, than texting short, meaningless sentences to my "friends" about nothing important. I text on my phone too, but for me, I think texting is more of a way to eventually lead to a more efficient and worthwhile way of communicating, maybe meeting up at someplace else or whatnot. Not a way to rid myself of my own boredom with the excuse of "talking" to my friends.

By the way, if you own a BlackBerry and are reading this: by all means, carry on with your life.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Transit Trouble.

Image borrowed from The Buzzer Blog

As some of you may know, I am working full-time at the Down Syndrome Research Foundation for the summer, and I commute from the south of Richmond all the way to the north part of Burnaby and back everyday. So I spend quite a bit of time on transit, and I've had my fair share of awkward moments on the bus, the skytrain, and the Canada Line.

When I am not pushed against four other people around me during the rush hour, I actually find it quite fun to watch other people during the commute. From impressive leaps through closing doors to an embarrassing time when a lady caught the bus just as it was leaving and made a public announcement saying, "Thank you everyone!!!" only to find herself lacking change for her bus fare, I've realized that despite being on transit for so many hours per day, it can still keep you somewhat entertained. Not counting that instance where I was yelled at by a bitter, 50 year old virgin on the Canada Line for "not being aware" and "having my bag in his stomach, my hair in his face, and my earphones in" which, apparently, is a sin and totally not what everyone else is experiencing on a crowded train. Not that I (nor anyone else) took him seriously, of course-- I soon put my earphones back in and took pleasure in seeing his look of complete outrage.

After work today, it was another day of crowd jostling on the Canada Line, and I had my hand on the middle handrail (the one pictured above). There was a rather chubby woman standing to my left, and she seemed a little oblivious to how she could conserve as much space as possible to accommodate more space for other people. She moved around a lot, but I couldn't exactly give her the space to do so since there was, unfortunately, another rather oblivious and chubby man to my right.

I didn't mind, really, until we were at the Langara station and, for some reason, she felt the need to press herself up against the entire bar to make space for invisible people that were apparently passing behind her. An awkward moment proceeded to take its place when she pressed her chest up against the bar right where my hand was. I happened to be removing my hand from the bar at the same time, so she basically pressed her chest right up against my hand for a second before I dropped my hand. I wasn't looking at her, but from my peripheral vision, I saw her give me a brief, accusing look. Don't flatter yourself, lady! One, I'm not into boobs. Two, even if I were (of which there really is a 0% chance, just fyi), most likely I wouldn't be interested in ones on a woman who looks like she's nearing her fifties.

In addition, I looked across the train when there were less people, and saw a lady standing across from me in a completely pink outfit. Pink knit sweater, pink silk scarf, pink trouser pants, pink shoes... and holding that popular Damier canvas LV bag that every spoiled woman seems to have nowadays. In her other hand, she held a very beat up Michael Kors shopping bag. Aside from my dislike of high-end brand name bags (perhaps I will talk about this fad to waste money another day), what I thought made it a painful sight to look at was not only the horrible clash of colours, but the irony in her carrying of brand names contrasted by how obvious she was being in trying so hard to indulge in brand names that she's even used a small Michael Kors shopping bag to the point of ripping.

Anyway, this entry doesn't have a point at all. I just felt I should record some amusing instances I've come across from being on transit so often.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More obligatory shopping.

I ran out of eye cream a few weeks ago and hadn't had the chance to go out and buy some more yet. I've been using the Anna Sui eye treatment cream for quite a few years (and Biotherm before that), but I decided I wanted to try something different this time. After asking my mom, who told me to try Clinique, and looking around the cosmetic section at Sears for a bit, I decided on the Clinique "all about eyes" cream. When the lady at the counter asked me "what my concerns were", I told her I usually stay up late so I'd like to reduce circles and puffiness, and she recommended this one for me.

When I got home, I was digging through my mom's collection which consists of numerous bags of her prized cosmetics, and I took some stuff that she probably isn't going to get around to using. I gave her a call to make sure I could take her stuff, of course. I'm excited to use her Lancome eye palette! These are all the colours I mostly use on a daily basis.

And on a final note, I bought a brand new stick of my favourite product, Tide to go! On Friday, I was commuting to work when I was forcefully pushed by a girl behind me, who apparently really wanted to stand in this one spot some steps away from me, even though she would have been fine where she was already standing. Without noticing that I had no space to move aside to for her to pass through, she pushed me and my heavy handbag slid from my shoulder to my elbow, jolting my arm and causing the coffee that I was holding with that hand to spill... onto the Korean girl sitting below where I was standing.

Even though it wasn't my fault, I apologized profusely to her and asked her if she was okay. She said yes, but her face looked something in between "upset" and "outraged" (even though it was just a tiny bit spilled onto her t-shirt), so I took my Tide to go from my bag and said, "If you like, you can use this," and told her how to use it. She looked a little skeptical at first and she dabbed at it (I told her she had to press down... but she wasn't pressing hard enough and I didn't want to be like NO YOU HAVE TO PRESS HARDER FOR THE TIDE TO COME OUT). So in the end, the bus reached the terminal station where we were all getting off, and I told her she could keep it.

Needless to say, I was hugely disappointed that I lost my favourite item. But I got a new one today, so it's fine now :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Obligatory shopping.

I bought two new pairs of shoes today, finally. I'm picky with what I wear, so although I like fashion, it's actually quite difficult for me to choose something that I'd want to wear on myself. New shoes for work!

Monday, June 28, 2010

What a nostalgic taste.

Don't they look great? They taste great too. Peeled especially for me by my grandpa-- I'm feeling the love.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The times I enjoy most are the times that never change.

Yesterday wasn't the sunniest day, but still a relatively warm day. I was able to have lunch and coffee with an old friend of mine whom I went to both high school and university with, but had gone on an exchange program to Sweden to study there for a year. We saw each other over the Christmas holiday, but it has been six months since then and that is ample time to create many more new stories to be told.

I had a lovely time catching up with her over our meal, followed by coffee and cake. And to my delight, she gave me a "little" gift that she had brought home with her from Sweden! Well, if this was to be considered "just a little gift" as she had told me while handing me the package, the world would be a frightfully luxurious place then, too much for someone like me who delights in merely finding a dandelion along the side of a road.

She gave me a little polka dot vest, handmade and straight from Europe. It is so cute! Handmade things are amazing, and so I'm very sorry for the following pictures that don't do it justice (because I must admit, although the vest is adorable in person, it's not the most photogenic thing out there). And you must excuse my pink, Minnie Mouse bed covers.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Miyavi concert.

This is a bit late, but I went to a concert on Thursday night. As you may or may not be familiar with, there is a Japanese singer-guitarist called Miyavi, or as the kanji 雅 reads, miyabi, which means elegance. Just like the majority of the Japanese rock scene, Miyavi's music style is difficult to pinpoint-- not to mention that his style specifically is constantly changing-- and so I will merely describe him as an amazing guitarist who likes to develop his own sense of how to play music.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend his concert-- actually, that is an understatement. To be exact, I lined up for a total of close to 7 hours to attain my spot in the front row of Miyavi's concert (and if you must know, yes, I did touch him). If I have to be honest, I'm not a huge fan of Miyavi, so you might say that someone else probably deserved that spot in front of the stage much more than I did. And maybe that's true. But to be fair, if I can line up for 7 hours to be in the front row of your favourite idol's concert in place of you, then maybe that shows how much of a fan you are.

But despite not being his biggest fan, I am an admirer of his superior guitar skills. This guy is talented. I was very much looking forward to a performance with his acoustic slap guitar, but alas... he only stuck with electric guitars, which he switched up after every two songs. But nonetheless, he gave an amazing show and I had such a fabulous time fist-pumping, headbanging, and cheering with many other fans (98% of which are girls, I might add) that the muscles in my arm and neck ached painfully the next day, in addition to my short loss of voice after the concert and the ringing in my ears that still persist.

There was a no photography policy, so I respected that... halfway. I didn't take any pictures during the show, but I did take a sneak picture of the stage, with Miyavi's logo as the backdrop. Oh, don't be so stingy, the quality of photos without flash (as they were sneak pictures) isn't that great anyway.