Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Happy Hoopy Hooghly Hollerween
There's about an hour until my first and only midterm of the semester and all I can do is check email, browse blogs, look out the window at the students walking around campus, sniffle, think about how cold I am (yet refuse to take the time to put on my sweater) and try to figure out ways to get my right eye to stop bothering me. I've gotten three styes in the last month and a half and I hadn't even heard of the damn things before that.
Midterm in less than an hour. No motivation. Not studying. Not worrying. My slackness has officially consumed my soul. Is it really that wrong of me to not care about a 2nd year Distance Ed course because, hello, it's a second year course and I'm a fourth year student who decided to take all of her 4th year seminar classes (which are a crap lot of work!) in one term while working two jobs and trying to keep herself sane. Too bad I'm going a bit crazy anyway.
I considered dressing up as a boy for tonight, but my default costume is Cho Chang, again and again. HP3 was on TV over the weekend and I couldn't help but think to myself that that was the book where we were introduced to the lovely Cho, but the big wig execs decided to cut her out of the movie. I might end up donning the costume and going out to a club somewhere tonight and find myself on a dance floor among many scantily clad girls (honestly, when did the trend of I-can-be-the-sexxxy-version-of-everything-on-Halloween start?). Honestly, I think it'd be nicer to veg out with the old roomie with some Halloween flicks and snackies.
I miss riding my bike, having fresh groceries, going to the gym and having Internet access at my house.
Eat some candy for me tonight.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Things That I Still Might Want To Be When I Grow Up:
- TV hair commercial star
- cooking show host
- news broadcaster
- cafe-tea shop-used bookstore owner
- tech savvy
If I ever get a cat, I might name her Gizmo. But I'd end up just calling her Cat.*
I finish my final exams this semester whenever I want.
Starting November 7th or 8th, my life is going to be academic hell. Again.
This is a list of the holidays I'm getting next term:
March 19, 2007
April 5-16, 2007
April 19-20, 2007
May 1, 2007
June 23-24, 2007
I think I'll go to Morroco for my birthday. Or maybe Ibiza. Yeah, Ibiza.
I just survived a week without phone or internet access at my apartment. Hello, World of Communication! I'm back!
Being a full-time student, working two jobs, volunteering here and there and trying to maintain a social life takes a lot of really good time management skills.
I don't have really good time management skills.
I am, however, very good at creative space management.
I think that the term "creative space management" is one of the better things that I've given intellectual birth to.
I've had five cups of tea since Friday night.
I love cereal.
My biological clock isn't quite ready to have babies yet, but it totally knows when Daylight Savings Time is.
PS: A day in Toronto + Totally seeing Death Cab For Cutie again tomorrow night = Squee! Happiness!
*Know the movie where I got this from?
Monday, October 23, 2006
The Good Life
I'm surprised that I left a post that made me sound like such a brat up for so long. Not that I care an awful lot about how I portray myself on here [(re)presentation is such a tricky thing]; I guess I just surprised myself with my funky spending habits. I've always been grateful that I was never spoiled as a kid and that I came from humble roots (read: poor refugee parents who didn't know what allowance was), but I think that I confused 'making it on my own' with 'doing whatever I want' and now I'm paying for it, literally. However, the situation has righted itself in some sense, as I'm happy to say that within three days of making that post I managed to get myself employed with another job. I was blabbing about loose-leaf tea at the market on Saturday when the owners of the little tea shop overheard my obnoxious voice carrying over the din of customers and offered me a position at their new location. I happily accepted the offer and now I'm back to my tea snob self. Life is good.
Life is good, folks. And I know this is true because I say that even though I'm feeling awfully tired and wholly uninspired right now (I blame the horrible pumpkin spice latte I had during class tonight - my faith in chai has been reconfirmed once again). What else can life be when someone tells you to close your eyes, hands you a sharpie and then surprises you with two big pumpkins? I mean, I spent my Friday evening carving a kickass pumpkin beside someone else who was carving another kickass pumpkin, baking the seeds, making a poutine-salmon-veggie dinner, watching The Incredibles while munching on the baked pumpkin seeds and the most delicious zucchini bread, and then taking a bubble bath while having King Solomon's Mines read to me. Life is grand when being productive means not only making dinner and doing laundry, but also carving pumpkins, watching a movie and taking a bath all in one night.
I've been doing a bit of unplanned lifetsyle changing recently; nothing big, but I've always been a firm believer in that 'the little things make all the difference' adage. Like, flossing more and showering on a regular basis, getting regular exercise (hello! biking to school AND going to the gym - I never thought it would happen), cooking and eating healthy (ie: no frozen foods, more fresh fruits and veggies), spending less time in front of the computer (sorry Internet peeps, but this means no MSN and only checking email twice a day), and instead, spending quality time with quality people. Is this a super-cheese Back to the Basics thing I've got going on? Probably. It's been a while since I've been cheeso-beezo, so hear me out.
I love that my motivation for getting up really early in the morning is to make my roomster a delicious breakfast. She is so awesome that I actually want to get up forty-five minutes earlier than I have to so that I can make an omelette, fried tomatoes and English muffins and arrange them all on a pretty blue plate and serve it to her and pour her a glass of orange juice while she just sits there and enjoys it. She inspires me to complain less, stress less, work harder and cook more and stay active and healthy and environmentally conscious and be more understanding and less judgemental. I'm a firm believer in surrounding yourself with good people because they're the ones who make you want to be a better person who does something nice for someone else just because. And I have a lot of want to be better right now, so thanks to all the peeps who inspire me, keep me sane and off the meds, and want to think of a surprise that's cooler than two pumpkins (honestly, not much is).
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
I'm one of those people who can't remember the last time they had to worry about money. I sometimes did when I was a kid because my parents were always fighting about it, but it was really more of a 'wondering what the big deal is' kind of worry. I never had an allowance - the only money I received from my parents was a nickel or a dime for every A that I got on my report card. So, that was about 50 cents two times a year. As a 13 year old with no financial responsibilities, I suppose that an annual income of $1 was livable. Two weeks after I turned 16 I got a job and once I started raking in my own hard-earned cash, I never thought twice about spending it. My parents never spoiled me, so I supposed I started doing it myself. Now, that's not to say that I wasn't wise about it, not to say that I didn't shop when I knew there were sales, or that I never wrestled with other middle-aged women for cheap buys on Boxing Day, or that I never clipped coupons or bought no-name brand stuff or argued with cashiers when I knew something was on sale even though the difference was twenty cents. I was thrifty and proud of it – for years, I bought used CDs for $5 when they were upwards of $20 in the stores, and I never spent more than $10 on a top. I still have collection of shirts and sweaters where, when people say something nice about it, I gloat, “This was $7! At Bluenotes! I know!!”
Then I dated someone who spoiled me seventeen ways from Sunday for almost two years. I didn't quite realize it at the time because I often think that I'm more old-fashioned than I recognize, and at times, it just felt right for him to pay for dinner or for the plane tickets or for the registration fees. He hardly ever took a penny from his parents and sustained himself…somehow. He worked, but it never seemed like he worked that much and yet he was able to afford all sorts of neat things, for him and for me. It was admirable. I'm much the same way now – I can't remember the last time my parents paid for my rent, or my tuition. He showed me how great financial independence was and taught me a lot about generosity (I will always believe he is one of the most generous people I’ve ever met, ever) and how nice it feels to treat someone to something when they don't expect it. I learned how to give, really.
So I started doing it more and more. Buying people drinks here and there, treating people to lunches and dinners and tea and sometimes, a professional massage. I buy random gifts and spend an insane amount of money at Christmas. I know what it's like to be nice to myself and it feels great to want something and be able to afford it. My second camera and accessories were $512. It costs me $50 every time I get waxed. I spent $131 on a fancy family dinner at the top of the CN Tower. I never asked for the $25 that someone owed me from a set of theater tickets I picked up for them. I forgot that someone owed me $10 from two weekends ago. I dropped $265 in a second when I heard about the big earthquake in Pakistan last year. I bought $60 worth of seafood in Seattle and shipped it home for my dad's birthday. I blink and $200 has turned itself into tickets for The Nutcracker. I spent $120 on wooden bird and alphabet stamps and Hello tags from an artsy paper store in Vancouver that I still haven't used. Ridiculous stuff like that. $60 on seafood. $120 on wooden stamps. Stamps.
I'm lucky. I've lived a pretty luxurious life for a 22 year old – I don't know many others who travel so much and go skydiving and put themselves through school and go shopping and buy whatever they want (within reason, except for the stamp incident). I skip school to go to concerts, see plays and musicals and the symphony, I eat at fancy restaurants whenever the mood strikes me, I drink wine and order dessert. I buy books often, go on roadtrips with friends, treat myself to a chai latte if I want one, spend whatever I want on groceries. I have a sleek, new lappytop, and a new iPod. I've never had to think twice about purchases, at least not for very long. Like that time I bought a guitar one day after school while running errands at the mall, or all those times when I saw a pretty dress in a display window, tried it on and bam, I was sold and so was it.
It may not seem like it, but on a day to day basis, I actually don't spend a thing at all. I always pack lunch, don't buy food at the campus food court and I hardly ever go shopping so I can't really buy clothing – I still own clothes that I've had since I was 17. Both of my school bags are from my little brother; one is a backpack he used for a year or two in Grade 9 or 10, and the other is a messenger bag that he got for free off Asian Avenue, back when it was popular with all the cool kids (ie: geeky Asians in high school). The bike I'm using to get to and from school right now was also my little brother's when he was 10. I haven't bought winter shoes in about four years. The Thrift is still strong within me (see: love for hand-me-downs), so I usually skimp on the brand name stuff and opt for the sale racks because I'd rather not be a walking billboard, thanks, but there are some things that I just really don't want to pay for (ie: to have AE or GUESS scrawled in block letters across my chest). My spending habits are varied, random, sporadic, but when it happens I suppose I tend to go big. I saw my random purchases as something that enhanced my life and made it into something that I enjoyed. I may not have brand name clothing, but I travel and see and do lots, and never stress.
And so when I started seeing someone who never bought anything frivolous, who always opted for the cheaper, who never treated me to anything, who sometimes didn't even bother to go to an ATM before we went out so that he would have enough cash to go Dutch, I didn't quite understand it. Ignorant, judgmental and snobbish of me, perhaps, but I struggled with the fact that, Well, didn't he know how nice it felt to give someone something? No strings attached, it's just on me so don't worry about it? I don't mind splitting the cost and I've never wanted a boy to pay for everything all the time, but it's nice when they at least offer. For the most part I understood why he couldn't, but at the same time his excuse of being a hoarder never took away my wish that he had taken me somewhere nice for something, or at least thanked me for the tea or the movie tickets or for dinner.
And now, this is the part when Life mixes things up a bit and I get a taste of my own damn medicine.
I realized a few mornings ago that I'm officially operating under a debt. One that is a bit larger than I thought. I was about to pay my credit card bill of $2353.65 when I realized that I DON'T HAVE TWO THOUSAND FIFTY THREE DOLLARS AND SIXTY FIVE CENTS in my bank account. It was the MacBook and the iPod that threw me over. Maybe it was the $80 in book-art purchases, maybe it was the $211 DCFC tickets, maybe it was the $150 belly dancing lessons too. I did a double take. I've always been able to pay my bills, I've always had enough money – how did this happen? Travelling and spending for two months and not working is how. I suppose it's my own damn fault. When I refused that tuition cheque from my parents, I didn't think that it would help me cover the new computer and thus, leave me worry-free for the semester. And it's as if the Fates are working against me because for the first time since first year, I'm not working while I'm in school – giving campus tours pays a bit, but it's a very small bit, and I can't live off the $40 that I get every two weeks.
What of New York? Or the other road trips I want to take? Will I not skydive before the winter sets in? What of all the other things I want to do! But, I need winter boots and a coat with a hood and I'm running out of cereal! It's my turn to buy the milk! Mother of God, I worried. I'm still worrying. I know that I have another credit card bill coming in the mail next month, I know that I have expenses, like groceries and utility bills. I'll never be able to justify getting another chai latte, or a snack from the café between classes. I won't be able to take friends out for dinner when it's their birthday, I won't let myself buy drinks from the bar. I want to bake, but that means buying the ingredients. I don't even want to spend the $4 that it costs to do laundry at the Landromat. I'm definitely stressing.
What to do? I returned $60 worth of books that I bought, broke out the emergency fund and lo – I have paid the bill. If I return that vest I bought, then I'll have another $30 or so, but that's cancelled out by the cable bill that I still owe money for. Now I have a glorious $56.23 to get by on until I somehow acquire more funds. I hope it doesn't start to snow again because I'll be in my Mary Janes for a bit longer than I thought. Oh my. Time to get back to my roots and start Thrifting again.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Reasons Why I Should Quit School And Become A Housewife
I always make my bed. My room is always neat.
You should hear me squeal and clap when I get to go grocery shopping. Going to the local Farmers' Market will get you an even better reaction.
I love home furnishings stores. I can spend hours at Ikea.
I make lists. To Do lists, To Buy lists, all sorts of lists. They keep me sane.
I know tons about loose leaf tea.
I have my daily schedule up on the fridge. Just in case.
I love cleaning up after a meal. Actually, I love cleaning up in general. I will always pick up after people. I can't stand leaving a mess.
Hosting a dinner party gets me more excited than spending a night out at the bar.
I know how to cook tofu and make it taste good.
I love to cook. And bake. And eat.
If you come within five feet of my non-stick pans with anything sharp (see: cutlery) or rough (see: brillo pad), I will ask you to leave my kitchen.
I separate my dish towels from my hand towels.
I am not afraid to pack or unpack.
I know how to store mushrooms so that they last at least a week and a half. (Paper bag, never plastic, crisper drawer - yes, it's that simple.)
I now swear by Tupperware.
I love laundry. All of it. Sorting (darks! lights! whites! delicates!), pre-treating (bleach pens, I love you), setting the machine, hanging it to dry and then the subsequent folding party!
You should see how organized my underwear and sock drawer is. It's scary.
I love running errands.
I can make soup. From scratch.
Though I don't like vacuuming or dusting, I will always do the dishes and I really, really like putting them away when they're dry. Really.
I can carve a whole chicken really neatly, with minimal mess.
I know about kale.
Nothing gets me to cream my jeans like walking into a kitchenwares store.
I know the secret of putting dates into fruit smoothies for some added panache.
I watch home decorating shows, do-it-yourself shows, cooking shows, baby shows, what not to wear shows.
For more evidence, see:
Late brekkie on Saturday morning. Cereal combination of: Corn Flakes, Muslix, almond and raisin granola, served with milk (duh), banana slices and blueberries; 12-grain bagels; very berry yogurt with fresh strawberries; tangerine juice.
A day trip to the St. Jacobs' Farmers Market.
Dinner on Saturday night. Started with marble cheese on tomato and basil melba toasty crackers and herb and garlic melba toasty crackers. Salad: Romaine lettuce, light greek feta dressing, tomatoes, red peppers, parmesan, lots of freshly ground pepper. Main: Thai curry rice with broccoli, carrots, onion, zucchini, red pepper, mushrooms, tofu and chicken.
Dessert: A trip to the see the symphony orchestra play Verdi, Bloch, Brahms, and hear an aria from Madame Butterfly. Browsing an art gallery.
The one thing that was missing but will be made up for later with lots of candles and a book: A bath.
Who am I honestly trying to kid here? I already am a housewife.
See also: Tonight when I spent two hours doing dishes, preparing a meal, browsing through a Tupperware magazine, cooking chicken for tomorrow's lunch and dinner, marinating more chicken (mmm, curry!) and doing more dishes when I clearly have an assignment due tomorrow night that I am nowhere near finishing. Housewifery sounds great when I despise schoolwork so much.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
The Extent To Which I've Fallen Behind Yet Again
I still have to tell you about Beijing. And Vancouver! And Chicago.
I skipped a class to go to a concert. Emily Haines! Totally doing that again in two weeks. Death Cab for Cutie!!
I'm behind on readings for all my classes. No surprise there. I haven't done a single thing for my DE class. Again, I'm not surprised.
I've already handed in an assignment late. This is a bad surprise. It's the 5th week of school, for crying out loud.
I haven't told you that I'm taking belly dancing lessons, have I? Didn't think so.
I'm still thinking about getting driving lessons so I can get my license before I leave the country.
Oh yeah, I've got to take care of details and all sorts of paperwork for that too. And learn Spanish.
I still haven't applied for OSAP (for those non-Canadians, that's government funded financial assistance for students). Since I'm not working this semester (it feels so weird to have TIME!), I need all the free/borrowed money I can get.
I forgot all about sending in my iPod rebate - currently, I've paid full price when I was only supposed to pay $51. My bad. Again with the money issues.
Oh, and speaking of which, AHH!! GREEN!?! Of course, a nano in my favourite colour just HAS to come out after I dish out tons of moola for my boring white one. Phooey.
A Happy Belated Thanksgiving to all the Canadian folk out there (to all the others, yes, this mythical Canadian holiday IS celebrated). I have to admit that I don't celebrate this holiday too much myself (y'know, being Asian and all), but it sure did give my family a good excuse to take a mini-road trip "up north" to Georgian Bay and get out on the water. Maybe if I can catch up on everything else, I'll show you photos from that day when I spent 3.5 hours on a boat, re-fell in love with Mother Nature and promised myself to get a cottage, a boating license and a vessel which I can operate with said license.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Other Than The Old Biddy Upstairs, It's A Good Morning
What I'd really like to do now is not write this paper proposal that was due yesterday, but make an omelette with green peppers and onions and mushrooms for my roomster so that when she gets up for her 11:30 class, she's got a nutritious brekkie to start her day off right, or I suppose I'd rather check emails and go through old photos of friends in high school because man, I'm missing them a lot these days, or I suppose I could go upstairs and smack my landlady because not only did she say we can't shower past 11pm (come ON, we're students, we don't do anything with ourselves until it's dark outside), but she also told me this morning that I'm not allowed to have overnight visitors unless they're family from out of town which I think is the most ridiculous thing that anyone has said to me in a while because HELLO I'm an adult now and I'm paying to live in this house and perhaps I should be sympathetic to the fact that you may be suffering from ye olde Empty Nest syndrome, but I am not your child to boss around. Period.
Now to finish this proposal before I get on that bus for home. I hope my moussaka keeps well in the fridge while I'm gone for four days.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
There Is A Lot Of Love
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Can I give you a hug?"
"Well, I’ve been waiting for one of those all night."
I hugged him tightly, probably more than is expected when two people meet for the first time.
I went to a special lecture by Stephen Lewis the other night and I experienced nearly the full gamut of my emotions within an hour or so; joy and laughter, awe and inspiration, anger and confusion, heartbreaking sadness.
His biography tells you that he is the Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, author of the national bestseller Race Against Time and U.N. Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. He has served as Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations, he chaired the committee that drafted the Five-Year U.N. Programme on African Economic Recovery, and he was also the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at one point. In 1997, he was appointed by the Organization of African Unity to the Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the Genocide in Rwanda and he is currently a Commissioner for the World Health Organization’s Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, a Senior Advisor to the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York and also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. There's an infinite number of things you can say about Stephen Lewis being a lifelong social democrat and diplomat, because he's done a million and one things to try and save the world. He's made a difference, but little has changed.
In his speech, he spoke of the Canadian veneer of multi-culturalism, a subterranean racism that exists in this world, because there is something out there that is preventing us from easing the suffering that goes on worldwide. He spoke of gender equality, of diversity and what it means to truly embrace it. He spoke of Uganda, of HIV/AIDS in Africa, of the human condition and how bitterly frustrating the world can be. I know all that. As a sociology student, it seems that all I learn about are the troubles of the world; I learn about poverty and the problems with migration and globalization and transnationalism. I know about race and ethnic relations, of immigration policies, of structural inequalities, of exploitations and classism. Yet, never have I learned what to do about any of these issues. I know cab drivers who have come from other countries where they were doctors, I've been waxed by a woman who has a degree in chemical engineering. My degree feels so relevant when it comes to knowing and yet so irrelevant when it comes to doing.
I made a comment in class last week about cultural identity and got shot down immediately by someone speaking about experiences with racism and discrimination. Apparently everyone has seen racist behaviour coming even from a seven year old. I wondered to myself, How is it that I grew up not knowing racial slurs and slang words? How is it that I don't see these things too? Do children really refuse to play with dolls that have a different skin colour than they do? At times I feel so cultured and experienced because of the things that I've done, the parts of the world that I've seen, the people that I've met, the things that I have learned, but at other times I feel like the most naive person to ever exist because I don't see discrimination like everyone else does. Am I really wearing those stupid rose-coloured glasses?
Listening to Stephen Lewis speak was like listening to a really sad poem, it was like seeing the suffering of the world flash right before my eyes. I'm reminded of that scene in The Fifth Element where Milla Jovovich learns about the history of war in the world and she see the images flash on the computer screen in front of her, and she cries. It was like that. I cried. A lot. I cried mainly because I didn't understand; it wasn't so much Why the suffering? but moreso Why is nothing being done? There is a quote from the Boondock Saints that will always resonate with me: "We must always fear the wicked. But there is another kind of evil that we must fear the most, and that is the indifference of good men." He even boiled it down to the simplest of things: education. All we need to do is learn about each other and accept and embrace each other. It all starts with the smallest, most important things. All we need to do is learn to love each other. And maybe then, the hurt will stop. The funny thing about diversity is that ultimately, we're all the same: Human.
I left the lecture feeling emotionally drained and very melancholy. I wanted to do something and I didn't know where to start. I researched his foundation, CIDA, UNICEF, and there's more on my list: CARE, Doctors Without Borders, WarChild, the CCIC...the list goes on. The next morning, I sucked it up and did the Run for the Cure for breast cancer because, if anything, that was a start. I wasn't running just for breast cancer anymore, I was running to find a solidarity against suffering. You supported me with $432, and from the bottom of my little heart, Thank you. You'll be happy to know that I did indeed run the entire 5 kilometers without stopping. It turns out that when I was training for the run at the gym by running 5km on the AMERICAN treadmills, I wasn't running 5k at all. It was more like 5 MILES, which is the equivalent to 8km, which is probably the reason I did not die while running yesterday morning, which is probably why I'll opt for the 10km run the next time I try to save the world from breast cancer. And next time, I'm going to opt for doing much, much more than raising $432 and running a few kilometers if I want to save the world from anything.
As I stood there, with my arms wrapped around the shoulders of Stephen Lewis, I didn’t ever think, “Wow! I’m hugging Stephen Lewis!” because, despite the fact that he is the poster-child for everything that I want to be when I grow up, I felt like I was hugging someone who was just so real, so human. So humane. I whispered to him, “Thank you for trying to save the world.”
“Well, it’s nice to try, now isn’t it?" He smiled at me. "You can pick up where I left off.”
Life has a funny way of breaking my heart and giving me hope at the same time.