Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Perhaps I keep this for posterity. People who stumble upon it can read about the emotional growth of a female Torontonian born in the 80's.
I want to pick a new theme and stick with it, but if I do that, I should give it a new domain and keep it cohesive. Maybe the problem is that I'm not cohesive. My ideas are all over the place. What I feel like writing about varies from commentary on parallels I draw from seemingly disparate situations, to thoughts on work or homework, to creative bursts of poetry, to end of day reflections. Sometimes I write about travel, but not often.
I'll probably just leave it alone. Let this blog remain incohesive and unused.
Thursday, 15 February 2018
Instead of going clockwise, I decided to go counter-clockwise, and start with the most touristy sites in the south, and make my way around to the north to see Dettifoss Falls and Akureyri. From there, I head straight to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, skipping the West Fjords just because I don't think I'll have enough energy to drive that much at that point in the trip. I spend a day checking out Vidgelmir cave, Foraging, Glymur all en route to Reykjavik, where I spend my last evening. On the day that I fly out, I spend the morning at Blue Lagoon to decompress from all of the driving and hiking before heading straight to KEF to drop off the car rental and fly home.
Have a look. Let me know your thoughts. Additions? Omissions? Opinions?
Friday, 29 December 2017
I feel like this year was full of dichotomies. While being the most exciting, it was the one most riddled by health issues. Google maps tells me I did twenty-one trips, flown and driven thousands of miles, but S Health tells me this was my least active year. While I did a lot of site-seeing, I think I also spent more months in bed with a fever this year than any other. My benefits coverage tells me that I maxed out paramedical in August, and my budget trackers tells me that I have spent hundreds each month since on chiro, RMT and acupuncture just to reduce pain...
It wasn't all about travel and poor health. I also reconnected with a lot of folks from my high school. The contrast of meeting new people and seeing new places, and reconnecting with folks from fifteen to twenty years ago at my high school has been a reminder that there is a lot of excitement and thrill to be had at home.
Again though, I met hundreds of incredible, inspirational people this year while travelling. At the same time, I've been burnt by a handful back home. I've made a few new lifelong friends; I've lost a couple lifelong friends to cancer and heart disease. I wrote the best philosophy paper I've ever written this year; I missed the most classes due to illness than ever before. I've made the most money I've ever earned this year; I have also spent the most money I have ever spent this year.
Again, a year of dichotomies.
Perhaps it is fitting, then, that this year end on a quiet note. After all the excitement and thrill, if this year is truly about dichotomies, then the perfect end sounds like a relaxing one with my oldest and closest friends.
Thursday, 27 July 2017
No wonder I'm tired. I need to be more cognizant of the tiny tasks that are exhausting me, then take the time back.
Wednesday, 26 July 2017
In truth, I was only going to open this blog so I could search for some things I'd written years ago that I wanted to share with someone new that I'd met. I got to scrolling and remembered how much joy I found in capturing my feelings. Written expression has always been a big part of my identity, and while a blog is not a requirement to write, without one, I have failed to do any.
I can think of several reasons for this, the most salient being that I haven't gotten to know anyone new in a little while. Part of the fun of writing was expressing my thoughts and feelings to share it with someone who cared to read it.
I've been in need and in search of inspiration to motivate me. I have been questioning my existence for months now. I always thought it was people who inspired me because of the impact they had on the world, but it's more than that. It's also the direct impact they have on me. I'm looking for connection.
I might have to finally admit it. I might be lonely. Not in a romantic way. Rather, in an intellectual way. Is insightful conversation still possible in this age? Or is it a dead art?
I'm not so desperate for connection as to search for it, accept it from anyone, or even expect to find it. I'd still choose loneliness over knowingly compromising my interests and concerns and opinions just to have company. That I know for certain.
It makes no sense to me. Now that I'm well into my thirties, thinking about this makes me chuckle. It explains some huge failures in communication I've had with people over the years.
There was never going to be anyone who made me do anything. I have always, and will always, do what I think is best, and that decision will always be my own.
Monday, 1 August 2016
Sunday, 31 July 2016
Monday, 18 July 2016
Months passed, and I stopped asking. I just always laughed whenever he did it.
Then one evening, when I was feeling really sad about something, he poked me on my nose and said, "Boop. It's your smile button. It never fails. Push the button ... Boop!"
This was cute for a couple of reasons. One was that he had kept it to himself for perhaps over a year. Second, that it worked infallibly and I'd had no idea.
I wonder how many more smile buttons I have, and how I'll find them.
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Wednesday, 15 June 2016
Sunday, 5 June 2016
It's only 8:38 a.m. on this Sunday and I've had the chance to check in with four really close friends this morning.
I woke up this morning thinking about being single and how at times it feels as though I have this endless well of love and no one to shower in it. Then my friends remind me that this is not true.
I love and care so much, so deeply. And the reciprocation from all of these wonderful people makes me feel so grateful that it brings tears to my eyes.
I wish everyone could feel this.
Tuesday, 19 April 2016
Through all the walls you'd built.
Entrapped by all the suffering
And pain and all the guilt.
I climbed to the top to reach you.
To extend to you my hand.
Unwilling, you declined and I
Wanted to understand.
I dove in, I did not tear down
All the walls you'd built.
I surrounded myself with all your pain
And suffering and guilt.
And when I had my answers
To what brought your walls about,
You still had not taken my hand
And I could not climb out.
Monday, 11 April 2016
There was much more to that night, I know, but I mention this story for one very important and seemingly insignificant reason: he sang to me. Like every (every?) teenage girl, I fantasized about being serenaded, or at the very least, singing a duet with the boy of my dreams. That night, he and I were slow dancing through some fast song when he sang "Kiss The Girl" from The Little Mermaid into my ear, and then we kissed.
I was so impressed with Daniel from that evening. Daniel is by no means (no offense, Daniel) a singer, nor does he even like to sing for fun. He had the courage to step outside his comfort zone and do something that he really didn't want to do for me because he knew it would make me happy. It was better than any song anyone had ever sung to me.
Because of the sincerity and symbolism of it, this is one of the best gifts I have ever received. I knew then the way I know now that it wasn't something that he'd do for just anyone, and that is what made it special.
Perhaps it helped that I knew him well enough to know how special the effort truly was: it's hard to assess the meaningfulness of a gift when you aren't very well acquainted with the giver.
Friday, 8 April 2016
There was a time when it was daunting. We felt lost, alone, and very confused. Now that I see my friends beginning to embark on this journey, I realize that all this experience will help me help them.
We are only alone if we don't let people in.
Friday, 25 March 2016
Looking back at older versions of myself through the lens of age and experience makes me feel content. It's been an interesting tale. I wonder what the next three years will bring.
Friday, 5 February 2016
I can see so many parallels between what I experienced and the accounts described - anonymous and not - by Jian's alleged victims. Well, Jian just lawyered up with one of the best. Forgive my cynicism but I have no faith that he could be charged as the criminal that he allegedly is in the eyes of the law ... any more than any of the other predators out there who haven't faced penalty or reprimand.
I shared my allegations; he backlashed. It resulted in my having to endure 6 full days of interrogations regarding the events in question, and one full year's worth of attacks on my character that took the form of several hundred page documents "supported" by "testimony" and pedaled off as "evidence".
I documented everything thoroughly and supplied my extensive evidence. I did my part. The rest is on their heads.
I feel satisfaction knowing that my account brought it to a shade of grey. Without it, it most certainly would have been painted black and white. I can't control how the shades of grey are perceived. I am giving you my account of the story. That is all I can do.
Monday, 28 December 2015
I don't meet many anymore. Perhaps I never did. I haven't thought about it. I haven't had the time.
One of the last discussions we had was about time. He warned me that it would pass ever more quickly with age, and I retorted that I had found the solution. I related a story about how I had received that very same warning when I was twenty-five, a warning I very diligently heeded. In fear of passively watching the years slip past me, indiscriminately melding into an indiscernible collection of past events, I decided to take action! I would make each moment memorable. What better way to slow down time than to ensure that each moment was filled with memorable things, places and people. It was logical. I spent the following years refining the process, taking on exciting new opportunities, trying a variety of new activities, and getting to know a lot of interesting people.
It's eight years later, and I believed I had worked out the kinks. The years have been discernible. Each had a character; or, at least, I retrospectively assigned it one. It's hard to say which is the case. This should have felt like success. But the other day when this kindred spirit kindly warned me that time would pass ever more quickly with age, and I proudly regurgitated my usual logical solution-as I've so done since first formulating it when I was twenty-five, something felt amiss. I remember everything, regardless of any interesting characteristics; with or without any prejudice. I remember it all.
It was a gross miscalculation. I understood the concern to be that I would lose track of all the details. Accordingly, I formulated a solution centred on slowing down the perception of the passage of time, namely making it memorable. But my thinking was fallacious! Effort to make each moment memorable is required assuming that without it, I would forget. It's so striking. It's so obvious an implicit premise. It's so pessimistic. It's so ... disappointing.
I didn't need to go out of my way to make each moment so special that I'd remember it. I was going to remember it, anyway. Problem solved. So why was it still so unsatisfying?
Though it wasn't good-bye, if age has taught me anything, it's that it probably was. We parted ways on book recommendations that would "trouble" the other. By "trouble", I mean "afflict intellectually". It has been a long while since I've been "troubled" by a book. It's been even longer since I've been excited to read one recommended to me. I wished I'd told him that. Instead, I blamed the work environment for how rare it was. The truth was that even in environments where it was expected to have been commonplace, it wasn't. It meant a lot to me that I could inspire someone to be excited about a book. It meant a lot to me that I could be excited. Most importantly, why have these final exchanges been troubling me?
To 2016! I hope this year is filled with lots of peace, love and happiness.
Wednesday, 11 November 2015
My grandfather on my father's side fought and died during WWII during what has come to be known as the Bataan Death March. I was born 40 years later in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
The destruction of the records made it almost impossible for anyone from that town to emigrate to Canada. My mom and dad did, but no other member of our family was able to join them.
Since that time, Japan has issued an apology to the Americans for their losses. I don't think they did the same for the Filipino POWs who lost their lives in that death march.
When I think of Remembrance Day, I think of this.
Thursday, 6 August 2015
This mini-vacation comes to mind for two reasons: it conjures up fond memories of time with my late father, but also because of how we all planned to but chickened out of riding the cable car over the Falls.
We're a family of chickens, and when are all together, such chicken-ry is magnified to incredulous proportions.
Monday, 25 May 2015
Anonymous FB Friend O'Mine
Monday, 16 February 2015
One important bar-restaurant that I needed to see was the Mt. Washington Tavern. Known to locals as "The Tavern", it was known for being a great hangout that offered great food in a great atmosphere. I should have tried to catch their dinner service or grab an evening drink, but I was never going to make it with my work schedule, so I eventually decided to go to The Tavern for a lunch. It's a lot like the Madison in Toronto: a collection of bars, each of which with its own character, shoved into a large mansion-like building.
We were seated in a very well-lit area for lunch. It was empty with a skeletal staff. There was one server, one busboy, one hostess working but not in my area, and no front-of-house managers visible. The food was prompt. I had the beet and goat cheese salad and found it disappointing. It would have been nice if they beets were drained better, and the goat cheese was warm.
After lunch, upon getting into my car, I realized that I had left my sunglasses on the table. They were Armani Exchange's brown square butterfly style and matched everything I had. I was in a rush to get to work, so I called The Tavern from my car while in the parking lot, and spoke with the hostess. I told her where I had left them - on my table by the condiments. She put me on hold briefly, then came back to say she didn't see anything on my table. I was surprised because I remembered where I had left them and it had been less than a minute, but decided it was my fault for leaving them. I headed straight to my restaurant to get ready for our happy hour opening.
Several hours later at my restaurant, I chatted with my bartender, Bryant, and the patrons about it. Bryant interrupted, "Do you mean those really pretty brown Armani bugeye ones that all the girls are wearing these days?" I nodded in affirmation. He then asked me if my server was a young female. I said yes. He told me, "Yeah, those were stolen." All the gentlemen at the bar agreed.
This was my first introduction to the difference between Toronto and Baltimore. I was so used to Torontonian waitstaff, who would reasonably wait a least a week before claiming finder's keepers on personal effects left behind by patrons. I decided that I was going to get my sunglasses back. Several gentlemen offered to accompany me and be my "muscle", but I politely declined. I told them, "I got this."
As soon as our dinner service looked like it was under control, I headed out. It was about 9 pm, 8 hours after the incident. This venue had several entrances; no main one. I entered through the same entrance that I used at lunch and spoke with the hostess. Let's call her Hostess A. Hostess A was not there at lunch. I asked her about their lost and found processes, and described the pair of sunglasses I had left earlier that day. She told me that they have a lost and found at each hostess stand at each entrance, and she offered to check.
I watched her check by where we were standing and not find them. She told me that she wanted to ask the hostess at the nearest entrance, let's call this one Hostess B, since Hostess B had been working all day. The other stand was about 10 m away, and I watched their exchange. Hostess A approached Hostess B. Hostess B looked at me then spoke aggressively with Hostess A. Her hand gestures looked like she was telling Hostess A what to do. Hostess A appeared taken aback and changed from pleasant to uncomfortable, with tensed eyebrows. I found this very interesting. All the while, the busboy from lunch walked by. I stopped him and asked him if he bussed the tables in my area at lunch. He said he did. I thought, "perfect!" I asked him if he had seen a pair of brown bugeye sunglasses left at my table from lunch. He said yes, and that he had picked them up and put them in the lost and found.
I looked back over at Hostesses A and B. Hostess B now decided to approach me while Hostess A stayed back. Hostess B told me that she had been there all day, but that the sunglasses that I described were not retrieved. I told her that I just spoke with the busboy who confirmed that he had picked them up and put them in the stand. I looked her square in the eye and asked to speak with the owner. She went into the kitchen.
A floor manager came out. He said that the owner was not in. I explained what had happened and requested: (1) a copy of the lunch staffing schedule, (2) the name of my server, and (3) the owner's contact information. He walked to the back. I waited about one minute before he came back out appearing panicked and in tears. He told me that his sister was the server at lunch, that she was in class until 10 pm and that he could return my sunglasses at that time.
I didn't report the server, my sunglasses were returned, and everyone lived happily ever after. Or did they?
My sister and I had our second sets of tires stolen last Thursday. We left them in our parking spots in our building's parking garage. We knew there was risk in leaving them out, but it was a shared risk: everyone in my building left their extra sets of tires in their spots. Unfortunately, only ours were stolen.
This theft reminded me of the sunglasses. I asked everyone if they could have moved them before I believed that they were stolen, and I was comfortable with my loss so long as it was my fault. Once I realized that it was the handiwork of a liar, I had to do something about it.
My sister and I have filed police reports, and will be meeting with our building's security to review the security tapes tomorrow. We may never see the tires again or get any remuneration for our trouble, but the hope is that the perpetrators will learn that they cannot get away with theft.
..but will these thieves ever learn? I am pessimistic.
The Tavern was burned down some time later that year, an event that inspired many to message me to tell me I 'didn't have to do it' because I got my sunglasses back.
Monday, 22 December 2014
After passing, the driver decided to accelerate and pass me. The car then settled directly in front of me, swerving in the lane. I lowered my speed and stayed back so I could keep an eye on it. I wanted to call the police to report that this driver was intoxicated, but my phone was turned off inside my purse in the back seat. I decided to follow with caution.
The driver alternated between slowing to below 30 kph to force me to pass, and speeding up and swerving in front of me. I weighed my options, considering alternate routes as they approached but decided to stay the course to Jarvis. Any streets north to the Gardiner would put me in a dangerous residential neighbourhood. At least Lakeshore was wide, well-lit, and had few lights.
The car was tracking behind to my left when I caught a red light at Bathurst St. It then crept forward and stopped directly to my right. The southwest corner of Lakeshore and Bathurst is brightly lit with a gas station there, but I chose not to look over. I did not want to make eye contact. I did not know if this person was following me. I let out an audible sigh of relief when the driver then signaled to turn right, and slowly rolled into the crossing, and held my breath at it stopped, cancelled the signal, and reversed until it was once again just to my right. All this while stopped at the light was red. All this while I plotted my next steps.
The Jarvis on-ramp would be from the right lane, the purple car's current lane. I decided that when the light turned green, I would switch to the leftmost lane to avoid being near the intoxicated driver, accelerate quickly so I could gain distance, then switch back over to the right lane in time for the on-ramp. I was ready.
In moments, the light changed. I crossed the intersection. I switched into the leftmost lane. I caught green lights and gained a good distance ahead of the purple car. I could not see it in my rearview. I was almost home free, when I hit a red light at Jarvis St, right in front of the on-ramp.
Disappointed, I stopped and while stopped I could see the headlights of the purple car reappear in my rearview and approach from a distance. I sat at the red light and watched it pull right up to my rear bumper. If I crept one inch forward, the purple car crept one inch forward. The driver was mocking me. Regretting the missed opportunity at Bathurst, I glared at my rearview mirror now desperately trying to get a good clear look at the face of this intoxicated driver who had been following me for the last 11 km, but all I could see was outline of a head through the accumulation of dirt on both of our vehicles windows and shadows cast by his headlights.
If the driver exited his/her vehicle, I decided that I would run the red light. Otherwise, I would wait. Either way, I'd soon be on the highway, where there were other cars, and mine was faster.
We waited. The light turned green, and I gunned for that on-ramp. The driver followed but couldn't keep pace. I gained a good distance and kept an eye on the purple car in my rearview mirror. Without fail, there it was gaining speed, approaching me.
I began to plot my next move. If I didn't lose the purple car on my way home, instead of leading the driver right to my place, I would circle the DVP-northbound, 401-westbound, 427-southbound, then Gardiner-eastbound until I did. I was mid-thought, when the driver suddenly lost control and collided with the middle guardrail, sending sparks flying. The vehicle was then propelled forward from the impact, and rolled backward across the expressway to the furthest right lane where it came to a stop.
In shock, I continued driving. My first instinct was to turn back and help, but I was on the highway just ahead of the crash so I couldn't. My next instinct was to report the collision, but I didn't want to risk diverting my attention from the road to get my phone, turn it on, and connect the Bluetooth. My final instinct was to stay the course because that vehicle may have still been drivable, that driver may have still been conscious, and I had no reason to believe that the pursuit was over.
...but it was. With focus, I completed my route and arrived home safely, uncomfortably recalling what I had just witnessed, and knowing what it was that I had just narrowly dodged.
Thursday, 13 November 2014
I walked to work today. I strode on by past the stalled traffic, the tense drivers and their impatient passengers. I smiled as the wind air-dried my freshly washed hair. I felt alive as I walked over the bridge that crosses over the 404 and looked down at the parking lot below.
In 2009 (I think I could be rewriting history), I vowed to drive my car to work every day for a year. I improved my driving in leaps and bounds but the process changed me. I became a chronic driver. I began to drive everywhere. But I grew up as a pedestrian. I used to carry a backpack, rely heavily on my Metropass and felt carefree without the baggage of a parked car anchoring me down. It was freedom. I need to manufacture some freedom. Maybe this is the form that it will take for now.
Friday, 10 October 2014
Problem of Induction”, where induction is another means of obtaining knowledge. Falsifiability states that the truths of science are arrived at through a series of conjectures and refutations. Because of the
problem of induction, we cannot consider truths that were arrived at inductively as “justified”. However, we can be “justified” in showing the falsity of a statement.
An example of a falsfiable conjecture: All orbits are circular. The way to falsify: find one that is not.
An example of an unfalsifiable conjecture: Scorpios are secretive. There is no clear test to disprove this.
Verificationism is the view that a statement only has meaning if there exists an empirical test to prove it (regardless of the practicability of such a test). “Meaning” is defined as having truth-value (that is, it can be true or false).
An example of a verifiable statement: Mercury’s orbit is circular. Why? Because we can observe that this is true or false.
An example of an unverifiable statement: Scorpios are secretive. Why? Because there is no empirical
test that would show this to be either true or false. Actually, I’d say that saying that it could be true or false is a false dichotomy.
Interestingly, NP-complete problems are technically verifiable, but not practically so.
Popper was a critic of verificationism. To Popper, scientific truth could not be arrived at by “verifying” a conjecture. Since induction was not "justified”, “truth” could only be arrived at through “conjectures and refutations”.
But Popper’s criterion of demarcation (i.e. his falsificationism) was a methodological norm, and not a theory of meaning, as verificationism is.
Tuesday, 23 September 2014
After arriving in Cuba, I met a gentleman named Habib. Habib was a friendly, seasoned solo traveler from Montreal, also there on a last-minute solo excursion. Minutes into meeting him, I knew that he'd be the perfect travel companion. (It also didn't hurt that he spoke several many different languages fluently, including English, French and Spanish.) I advised Habib of my need to purchase local cigars, rum and a Cuban marble. He laughed, and agreed to help me with my quest.
And 'quest', it sure was. Every day, after sleeping in, having lunch, and sunning on the beach, Habib and I would catch up at the taxi/bus stop then head into the city. From there, we would go for a walk through the streets, visit an attraction/museum. Every evening, we would have dinner at a different recommended restaurant, then end each night with a live show and dancing. So, we spent every afternoon wandering the city streets.
Not surprisingly, there were a lot of street vendors at/near each tourist attraction. Everything on the list was easily found ... except the marble. Inquiring about a marble with each vendor led us down some unexpected paths. It didn't take a lot of prodding to convince each one to take us back to his/her place to show us their full inventory. We weaved in and out of back streets and housing; were shown private collections of decades-old goods carefully preserved for resale. And why? Because no Cuban vendor - even with a fluent translator in Habib - could understand the concept of a marble. We were shown collections of marble-made products, some of which I purchased for their rarity and beauty. However, not only no sign of a Cuban marble, no understanding of it. We used hand gestures and drew pictures. We described their use. Nada.
I have since lost touch with the person who requested the marble. I'm sure it was a joke, but it turned into a fun adventure that took me through the backstreets of Havana, uncovering a variety of treasures I stood no chance of otherwise stumbling upon.
Sunday, 24 August 2014
And although I think my ability to not compare myself to others was laudable, the degree of self-criticism was not. It was symptomatic of a level of perfectionism that has haunted me since. I will never be "perfect". I know there is no such thing. However, it has taken me a long time to find comfort with that. I miss major milestones, and downplay my accomplishments. It is a difficult exercise for me to brainstorm my contributions ... to anything. I tend to focus on everything I aimed to do but did not.
Anyway, this is all to say that I had a wonderful last couple of years. And before I downplay to the point of forgetting, here is a list of things that I did (or didn't do):
- I bought a Jag. I call her Kitty.
- I took golfing lessons and discovered I can drive well past 200 yards consistently.
- I bought a new Fender guitar and started guitar lessons.
- I took some lessons in boxing and did some TRX training.
- I fell in love with Vibrams. I now own 2 pairs.
- I started cycling or walking to run errands. To help with this, I bought an amazing Detours Freemonster Flap Pannier. I save gas and get fresh air and exercise.
- I went rollerblading for the first time in 7 years.
- I went to a Jack Johnson concert at the Molson Amphitheatre.
- I visited Wasaga beach for the first time in years.
- I went for a hike at the Cheltenham Badlands twice this summer.
- I got a Canada's Wonderland Season's Pass this summer and for the first time in my life I went on all the biggest roller coasters, and spent time in a bikini at the water park.
- I've watched every blockbuster that has come out, but only blockbusters. If there aren't good movies out, I don't go to the movies.
- I cut my hair, manicure, and facial budget. They are frivolous treatments.
- I cut my restaurant budget and started cooking again.
- I didn't move! I did find a new apartment and am planning a move in the imminent future, but I managed to stay put for a few years.
- I stopped drinking, clubbing and going to bars. I just enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner. I don't have time for the other stuff.
- Although I cut my spending on clothing, I've picked up some pricey staples: a black Hilary Radley wool winter coat, a grey Helly Hansen raincoat, a champagne Rudsak winter coat, and a Nooka Zem Zot Mirror in Steel.
- I and my sister got through a draining year for caregiving through my mom's a hip fracture and hip surgery, starting dialysis early, and a sepsis infection. (My mom is doing exceptionally well and is in good spirits, I should add.)
Tuesday, 19 August 2014
It's on my mind because I'm tired of 'angry Eminem' and I don't want to see Eminem evolve into a socially conscious rapper. His ability to delve into human psyche is unparalleled in rap, imho. So these forays he's made into American politics have just been disappointing. I think we need to hear from a happy and balanced Em. I want to hear about the successful Em who never succumbed to industry pressure. I think he'd elicit deep emotions of happiness no other rapper could express because he has rich lyrical content and expressive vocal style.
Fans need their stars to grow with them. Else they outgrow them.
Monday, 11 August 2014
Wednesday, 29 January 2014
Sunday, 14 April 2013
Three years later, I awakened one morning to find myself with limited range of motion for my head; any move I made put my neck into spasm. It was constant whiplash. I was diagnosed with torticolis and was told that it was my posture while sleeping, and stress. I was told to get registered massage therapy and to destress. The clicking worsened and I noticed a physical change in the position of my lower jaw. It had shifted to the right.
Later that year, the migraines started. I couldn't find the trigger. Accordingly, I could not determine a treatment. I stumbled upon the diagnosis really by accident. My mom suggested that I go see a Filipino dentist whose office was downtown. I visited to discuss dental and orthodontic work, but what I stepped out with was a set of x-rays, explanations for failed motor skill tests and a diagnosis for TMJ. It turned out that I had a rare overbite and tooth rotation combination that was creating and worsening my TMJ. In layman's, my tooth alignment progressively caused my jaw joint displacement. Registered massage therapy and time were never going to heal this problem.
Treatment entailed wearing a daytime and a nighttime mouthguard. They were designed to prevent the pinching of the nerves that run through my jaw joints. The idea was that wearing them would reopen the space that should exist between the upper and lower mandible, and that slowly being weaned off them would create a stable jaw that didn't require a prosthetic to prevent the pinched nerve. Once that happened, I could get orthodontics not for aesthetic purposes, but to help to realign my bite so as to prevent this going forward.
Anyway, years of pain, discomfort, planning and execution have brought me here: 30 years old with braces! To boot, I have these things called biteturbos affixed to the back of my top front teeth which is preventing my upper jaw from touching my lower... Until my jaw begins to realign, I will not be able to chew anything. My orthodontist said that the average length of time required to wear the braces is 2 years. Here. We. Go.
Monday, 18 March 2013
|The view from Gus' passenger seat.|
We are all creatures of habit, I think, to some extent. (I don't know, off-hand, how true this is. I am not a neuroscientist, and where normally, I would take a moment to look up some documentation to support such a statement, on this, I will just go by anecdotal evidence.) As much as I do spontaneously, there are just some strange things that I am very consistent about. One such thing is where I go to tank up. There is an independent, full service shop near my place that has very low rates. Unless I'm in another city, or there are unmitigated circumstances, this is where I go to tank up.
The other day, I had my window rolled down while I was tanking up, and I overheard a gentleman say "Fucking Smart Car" under his breath, as he walked past. He didn't look at me, or the car. He wasn't looking to instigate anything. He just ... said it as he passed, and I just happened to hear it because I had my window rolled down.
What's interesting is that since this little incident, I've noticed that this actually occurs often. If I'm sitting parked in my car, and people walk by, I can see at least one person mouth the words "Fucking Smart Car."
I shouldn't be surprised. This purchase has polarized my friends, and been a source of amusement for my co-workers. I just wanted an inexpensive vehicle that was good on gas in a traffic-heavy city where I prefer to drive, and am often alone when I do so. I didn't think anyone (or everyone) would care so much about this purchase.
In a city plagued by traffic and unreliable transit, I find it remarkable how much hate there is for the Smart Car.
Monday, 4 February 2013
I still remember the moment when I pushed on the door to exit to street-level, and it wouldn't open. It wasn't quite panic that I felt, but it did hit me pretty instantly that without my phone, I had no choice but to be patient. I couldn't waste energy on pounding on the doors with opaque windows, or on calling out to every car that passed. For one thing, any passerby should/would be wary of helping a person on the other side of an opaque door. For another, if the passersby were in vehicles, it was likely that they wouldn't hear me as they drove by. This is why I imagine none of the people, or passing vehicles helped me when I tried to call out to them for help.
After the first half hour of being trapped, I thought idly about how long it would take before anyone would notice something were the matter. Would anyone in my office notice? Would they know who to contact? How to contact them? The answer is my sister. But would she even know how to locate me? Would she remember that she has access to my Google Latitude location? And if not, would she know that she has all of my passwords so that she could look up my latest Google Latitude location? I set this up so that if I were ever in trouble on one of my miserably long solo road trips and I didn't get to notify anyone, at least the handful of people who have access to my Latitude would be able to locate me. In my case, it really was just a matter of time until someone else parked and tried to exit.
Not all of us are so lucky. Some of us get permanently trapped behind metaphorical opaque windows, not knowing how to woo the next passerby for help, should there even be one to pass by. Some have similarly as encrypted methods for being found so that even when it is determined that you're in need of help, and that somebody wants to, no one knows how to get to you. Some of us will die in our stairwells. Sometimes, help never comes.
Until I don't, I feel like I let him down.
Sunday, 20 January 2013
I spent the weeks leading up to opening night feeling like it wasn`t really happening. I felt as though, at any second, I would be yanked from the show, and my part recast. It didn`t feel real until the show actually went on. And when it all ended, it especially felt unreal when I got a standing ovation at curtain call on closing night. I can still hear the cheers.
That was when I was eighteen. I haven`t felt that way since. I went back into the grind, without knowing what I was grinding for. There have been `roles` that I`ve played, and `reviews` would tell me that I did quite well, and though I may have earned a `standing ovation` or few, it was not the same. They weren`t `dream roles`. ...not until now.
It`s almost `showtime`, and I plan to earn that standing ovation all over again.
Monday, 7 January 2013
As regards the location, I was looking for something (1) affordable that (2) had a rich and interesting history, and that was (3) safe. Havana was an obvious answer. Cuba is an affordable destination with flight + hotel + meal packages as low as $100/day year-round, and the local dining and entertainment costs at pennies compared to any Canadian/America/European city. Cuba is known for its low crime rates. (For the time being, I will pass on sharing my thoughts on why this is .) Finally, Havana is a city with a rich history, and its current state reflects it. Although I spent the peak of each day on the beach, I didn't stay on the resort. That would have been a bore to someone like me. [Aside: The weekend prior to departing, I caught a documentary entitled Last Chance to See Castro's Cuba. This gave me a current snapshot of Havana, and what exactly to expect when I walked through the streets.]
As regards the reason why I went solo... Ask any solo traveller why they do it, and the answer will always be because of the freedom. Solo travellers naturally gravitate towards each other. At least, this is my experience. When I meet a new one, I like to ask him/her why he/she does it, and I always get the same answer. No one to please. No one to plan for. You do everything at your own pace. You are neither dragging, nor being dragged along to places.
Finally, as for why I went last-minute, well, let's just say that there were a number of things that I had to celebrate this year, and I decided that it was important that I oblige. Also, I find it generally exhilarating to test my planning skills as a reminder to myself of what I am capable of pulling together on the fly. Between work, school, and family, so much of our lives are planned. I try to squeeze as much spontaneity out of my personal life as possible. I don't advise having no preparation, because that's foolish. However, with proper preparation, I can walk into any city, and, day-by-day, meet people, and do local research to discover and determine the most interesting path to take. It never fails.
Alright, back to my trip. There is a lot to discuss, so I will be breaking it down into smaller topics in the weeks to come:
- Las Terrazas Aparthotel Islazul
- Habana Vieja By Day
- The Search For The Marble, Tobacco, Backstreets, and The Black Market
- Food, Drink, and "Fine" Dining
- The Nightlife: Music, Dancing, Entertainment
Not everyone is a coin-sorter. Some people are the opposite. I'm tempted to call them poisonous, but maybe that's just because that's what they are to coin-sorters like me: they jam me up, and leave me unable to function optimally. In isolation, they exist without opposition. Imagine swamplands, with weeds, and wildlife: organic, natural "disarray". Who am I to say what is best? But what I can say with utmost certainty is that they are dangerous for me.
I've been "sorting coins" lately. I fear the repercussions of what will happen when I get jammed up with the return of my "swampy" personal associates.
It's the start of 2013. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to tackle this issue. I can't turn everyone into coin-sorters, no, but can I find a way for us to happily coexist? Oh, more than that - can I find a way for our lives to intermingle? Can we mediate a solution whereby I can feel productive and enjoy a sense of accomplishment and growth, and they do not have to change? This is the question.
Advice welcome. Please submit.
Friday, 14 December 2012
Would you please playfully pluck at my heartstrings
With frenzied, feather-light fervour?
I humbly beseech you to make me sing
A serenade of soft, sweet sounds
That assemble into songs I've never sung before.
You'd have me on my knees -
Tantalized by your reprise -
Imploring that you never cease
Building me up to a blissful release
Before permitting me to collapse in rapturous reprieval.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012
I know you're reading. I like that I don't know who all of you are, but I would like to request that you comment. From the monotonously banal to the extreme opposite, all comments are welcome. I've made it as easy as possible - all commenting restrictions are disabled. You can do it anonymously, without providing a valid email address, and without having to prove you're human.
Now go! Make your presence known.
Tuesday, 4 December 2012
I had spent the last two years letting go of every aspect of the battle that was out of my control: what other people thought and what other people did. I spent the last year trying to find peace and joy in knowing that it was all over. I tried to find pride in that I had endured. I had learned to quiet the voice inside my head that yearned for vindication. That need only fueled my anger and strengthened my discontentment with the world. It made me want the things I could not control. However, hearing these words mad me burst into tears.
I had once declared publicly that I did not need to explicitly hear one's reasons for abandoning me, but I was wrong. I soaked up the words the way the roots of a drying flower would water after a drought. It was overwhelming and revitalizing.
"I thought I was alone."
"What are you going to do if you return?" She looked at me earnestly, expecting an answer. I didn't know why she was asking. She kept asking me such wasteful questions.
I won't be returning, I thought. Period. Not a single person in their right mind believes it is a possibility. Why should I entertain it? The focus should be on what I'm supposed to do when all of this wraps up; when the inevitable happens and I have to sign papers forcing me to pretend the last few years of my life didn't happen and I have to start anew, ten steps back, with a gaping hole in my life that was filled with whatever filler I was legally advised to regurgitate when asked.
"I will never go back."
"You're going to walk away from every plan you've set up for yourself, from the entire life and experience you've built, as if none of it ever happened? You're not going to fight for it?"
"Fight for what?! To be in a world that could do this to me? That would deem me guilty without so much as a fair trial? Without an opportunity to speak? I have been censored into silence. The truth has been twisted and I have been crippled, unable to defend myself. All I can do is await the inevitable. No, I will not go back. I will find a place where things like this can't happen."
Except, places like that don't exist. I was also wrong about what was inevitable. When the ordeal concluded, I neither won nor lost. It felt as though a gag was removed, my hands were untied, the lights were turned on and when I had the courage to look around I found that no one was there. I was left standing alone, stripped of energy and confidence, unsure of how to proceed.
I wondered how I would rebuild but I realize now that I did not have to. Not all was lost. I was never alone.
December 2012. Remember this time, everyone. This is when I showed the world what I was made of.
Thursday, 29 November 2012
Tuesday, 27 November 2012
ID Cards, Photo Albums, and Games
Just after my father's funeral, a small group of us went out to dinner. There was a sign posted at the host stand indicating that there was a discount for seniors.
Marlene pointed it out to mom. "Mom, get your senior's card out."
"No, I didn't!" Marlene interrupted, but you could tell she wasn't certain because she reached for her purse.
I set it down in front of me, and paused. I looked at it. I teared up just touching it. My dad wasn't secretive about its contents. He was just protective of it. It was one spot that remained untouched by the chaos that surrounded it all of these years. "He needed that," I thought, "if I were anything like him." I thought about all of the times I had popped it open in the past. It was as a young child. I found his old university report cards. I found some letters from family. He had certificates and awards. He had cards. It was all entertaining stuff to read.
I loved my dad, and I loved to learn about who he was. After age six or seven, I was past the briefcase. I was on to listening to stories he told me about his life. I got older, and I moved on to interrogating him about it. I got even older, and he began sharing the inspiration to the wise words he'd spoken to me all me life. We talked about his youth, his family, his education, his romances, his social life, his travels, and what he wanted me to take from all of it.
I rested my hands over the lock, and turned each piece to fit the correct sequence, and popped open his briefcase for the first time in about twenty years. What I found, to my surprise, sitting well-kept, and safely preserved inside was the missing wedding photo album.
It's who they are. It's who people are: they vary. They are not all like me. I can't expect them to be. I was never good at that. My dad knew it. I was a lot like him. He learned to live with it, carving out a space that no one touched, not because they couldn't, but because they all loved him enough to know what it meant to him. I think it's my time to do the same.
Monday, 26 November 2012
Friday, 23 November 2012
In the eighth grade, I delivered a speech that was more like a 5-minute comedy act about dating. I discussed what it meant to date at the age of 13: what it felt like to have a crush, to ask the object of your interest out on a date, the awkward talk with the parents for permission and dealing with rumours about your crush.
Oh, what I would do for a copy of that speech. Actually, if I tried, I could probably recount most of it. I do remember incorporating a bit about the 'telephone' game. It was about rumours, how quickly they spread and how they mutate. My more liberal elementary school administrators appreciated my candour. The Legion did not.
It was what happened after the competition that remains most memorable. One of the judges stopped to hand me a ribbon for my participation and pose with with. She plastered on a tightly held smile, and with her gaze on the cameras, she leaned in close to me and condescendingly whispered Watch out for those rumours! The smile was wiped off my face. All I could think was that I was just telling the truth the of matter. Why is that an issue?
So the other day, when a true story in which I played one of the main characters came back around to me as a rumour:
(1) two years after the fact;
(2) from the most unexpected source;
(3) through what had to have been at least 20 "telephones"; and
(4) grossly inaccurately to the point where my character had been morphed into an unrecognizable form, namely a young male (which happens to be fortunate because it could then never actually be tied to me),
it was the recollection of reciting my speech on dating that came to mind. It didn't matter how old I was when I wrote it. It didn't matter what the story was. It was the idea that with each transmission, the story underwent a transformation. It was understanding that no one cared for the truth, even though that was what they claimed they were interested in. It was that I knew all of that even as a naive 13-year-old. Experience has only ever reconfirmed this for me.
How does a story change over time? In what ways and why? It isn't always unguided. Some transformations are the crafty handiwork of unconscionable people.
Monday, 19 November 2012
"Soul-searching" was never a journey upon which I ever meant to embark. Quite the opposite. It was early in my life that I considered it a fruitless pursuit. My reasoning as a child was simple: you cannot search for who you are. You can only develop a greater sense of self-awareness by living, and reflecting on what you've done. This cannot be done by standing still. To stop would be to do nothing; to learn nothing about myself; to stop growing.
It was then frightening to me that I would unwittingly wind up engaged in activity that can be characterized as "searching for my soul" after high school, and even more so that I found I couldn't stop. I jumped almost mindlessly from one job to the next ("almost" because there were technically always reasonable grounds for the moves, but "mindlessly" because they were never based on criteria that contributed to my happiness). My consolation was always that I was at least "doing" things: pushing personal boundaries, meeting a lot of people, and learning new hard skills. But was I learning about myself? Did I discover anything I didn't already know? Was I challenged? Did I grow?
I grew, in the broadest sense of the term, as inevitably as our forward passage through time (or apparent forward passage through time in everyday experience; whatever.) Looking back, I didn't wind up exactly on the "soul-searching journey" that I criticized as a child, but there is no denying that in spite of all of the activity, with regard to a formulation of an answer to the question of who I am, all I was really doing was standing still.
Saturday, 10 November 2012
I feel like Finn on Glee: someone who was always told he would do great things, but whose confidence was lost in the rush to find out what they were.
I was told every day of my life that I was "meant to do great things". Oh, I am still told this to this day. It actually stings a little. I can't figure out what those things are. But this is said to me in such good spirit, I can never reproach a person for it. And why would I? I don't disagree. I still think it's true.
In the distant past, I tried to deal with it by seeing my ventures as biding time: getting ready to pounce, dipping my feet in different waters only to accumulate an evermore rich history of experience.
I don't think that the "great things" I will do in this lifetime will come from sitting still. I also don't think I will ever have some grand epiphany about what I am meant to do or to be. I aim to excel in all that I do. I just need to keep doing that ... and walk away when I don't.