Saturday, November 29, 2008

My New Japanese Cartoon Characters

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There's no place like home

13Going in to the office yesterday didn't turn out to be a mistake after all. In fact, although I hated having to wake up at 5:30am to take the Greyhound downtown, I really loved being back in is home. Doing something other than my paper was also a very welcoming distraction; I spent the whole day just working on the docs and looking at the application I haven't seen for so long.

But I think what I loved the most about going back to Toronto was the fact that it was...Toronto. A big city in which I grew up, in which everything is an toronto-bay-streetarm's length away: from restaurants to shopping centres to parks, from finance to transportation to entertainment, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood to neighbourhood. In the early morning, men and women, dressed in business suits and wool coats, are bustling about the streets with a coffee in one hand and a briefcase in another--the city is so alive with power. And in the evening, strolling up to the Eaton Centre, watching the city light up as the night falls, it all feels so...rhythmic and exhilarating.

I am a city girl. I love being in the big city. This is where I feel the safest, protected by the tall glowing skyscrapers, surrounded by the tireless parades of people, with each person rushing by you in lively steps, engrossed only in their own affairs...and yet, without missing a single beat. And this...this is where I get comfortably lost: beneath the buildings, among the crowd, within this silent vibrance.

I wish I was a poet so I can paint you a picture of how beautiful I feel when I walk alone in my big city.

Friday, November 21, 2008

My Broken Heart

IMG_0686My dad and my brother have always been fans but I've never really followed basketball. I recall going to my first rap's game in high school because I ran into Celane on the bus who had an extra ticket and ditched my friends with whom I was supposed to go to the movies. I don't even remember who we were playing and what went on at the game since I only went because I've never been to a basketball game.

When I did start sort of started to follow basketball, it's always been a ride on the bandwagon. I bought a game package for someone over Christmas two years ago and I went to one of the games. Later that year, helping Chet scalp playoff tickets with Andrea earned us a free game at the playoffs. I did follow the rest of that series, which we ended up losing to the Nets in round 1. I watched the playoff games with everyone last year too.

n122607803_31348962_2245I think this year is the only year that I've started following the Raptor's since the beginning of the season. I sat through most of the games with Adam, watching as we win and lose. I went to the the game against the Heat last wknd at the ACC and it was so frustrating to watch a game with us leading in double-digits then having the Heat take the lead. Fortunately, we ended up winning that game. Today's game was even more frustrating. Fifteen points lead and then we went overttime and LOST the game? I hate the Nets. I really do. And the Raptors has really got to stop teasing me like this.

But melodrama aside, which is really not my point for this post and is taking me really long to convey, what I want to say, actually, is how much i hate getting emotionally attached to a sports team. Right now, I have been following the Raps not only because they are the Toronto team, but also because I actually really love watching most of the players on the team (alright...mainly the latest starting lineup). But like, what I mean is, when I'm watching the game, I get excited when Bosh makes a good play, when Parker steals a ball, when O'Neal rebounds, Calderon makes a good get the point..., but I also know that, regardless how the season is going to end, the team is most likely not going to stay the same. I find it difficult to understand how Adam can follow Ford and call him his favourite pointguard but then completely not following up on him after he gets traded. How do you negotiate your identification with a team vs. your attachment to a player?

I understand why ppl like Jordan regardless of the team he's on (because of his ability to play). I can also understand why ppl still dislike Carter even though he's still a good player (because his ethics sucks). But what i dont understand is how you can like a player on a team you also like and then not like the same player after he gets traded. And if your emotional attachment lies with the team, then how do you explain the large number of people who stop supporting a team because it has horrible players that are constantly getting traded? I know everyone has different reasons for who and what they support. Harvey says "you should have a criteria for liking a team" and that he "like[s] teams that play basketball the right way", which denotes that he likes basketball for the sake of the game itself, but you know, that seem to also connote that he likes a team when they plays well, which takes away the whole aspect of "loyalty". But he's gonna be a lawyer soon, so what more can you expect?

At any rate, although I was never an advocate for blind loyalty, I think for the time being, I will continue to follow the Raptors even though Harvey's says my "emotional attachment has been misplaced". I'm from Toronto and I think we have some great players on the team. There. Leave me alone. And stop breaking my heart Raptor's.


ETA: Tal found this--Rules for being a true fan, scroll down to loyalty (rules 18 and 19)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

That New Reality Show

Before I left the house today, Adam was channel surfing and Paris Hilton's face flashed before me as the channels were changing.
"Wait!" I called out, "was that Paris Hilton??"
"Whoa, she looks a lot better than she used to, go back go back, I wanna see!"
So Adam turns back to the channel and I find a significantly more refined-looking Paris Hilton sitting on a throne-like seat and Adam informs me that Elvin, one of our roommates, also said the same thing about her looking better.
"Must be plastic surgery," I announced out loud, "didn't she, like, disappear for a while? Probably waiting for her surgery to heal"

The shot pans to the rest of the scene and I see a bunch of girls sitting across from her throne.
"Umm..." I said hesitantly, "is this the new show where she's picking a new best friend?"
And to my horror, Paris Hilton begins scrutinizing each girl the way they do on American Idol and The Apprentice and decides on the girl that's not going to make the cut as her best friend. After the girl gets eliminated, she gets the traditional last scene talking about her experiences of being on the show with Hilton. As the show comes to a close, Hilton lies sideways on one of those 19thC chairbed things and announces to the world how hard it is to find a new best friend.


I felt my blood pressure rising as I stormed out of the house in the rain. How bad is reality show getting these days??? When I first heard of the show, I thought it was going to be Paris Hilton going off to random places in the world in search of a new girl to be her best friend; still dumb, but not an exploitation of human weakness and low self-esteem. Are you seriously telling me that you are making a show with a bunch of low self-esteem girls vying for a social validation by Ms. Paris Hilton? What kind of message are you sending to the public?

The scene that especially angered me was when Hilton decided to provide a public insight about how hard it is to find a best friend. No, no, no. No you did not. Don't go around pretending that this show is insightful and observational about the human condition. NO. The public is not stupid, we know how hard it is to find someone who really gets you. But. that's. not. how. you. make. friends. What type of value are placing on the word "friendship"? Is a friend someone who worships you on a throne and does whatever they can to please you?

A normal human process of making friends is a negotiation between social validation and individualization. People do things to please their friends in order seek validation. In turn, they are socialized to adhere to social norms. But at the same time, if your friends can't accept you for who you are when you are not violating social standards then you stick your back up and you find new friends. I know that not everyone is capable of doing it, but is this not the goal of social development? Is society not working towards helping people increase their self-esteem so that they are confident enough to say no? What type of behaviour are you condoning by putting this on TV? Are you saying that it's okay to bitch fight in order to get the attention of a popular and rich girl?

I HATE REALITY SHOWS and this has got to be one of the worst ones I've ever seen. Ironically, Adam tells me that there are worse ones out there. Have you heard about the show Parental Control? The premise is simple: Parents hate the girlfriend of the son, so parents pick three girls they like and send their son out to date them. Fine, I get that. But making the girlfriend sit with the parents and watch the dates live on TV while the boyfriend is making out with the girls? And then the show is about the girl and the parents fighting and swearing at each other? WTF???

I hate reality shows for that very reason. The exploitation of human feelings. This is not okay. Stuff like Temptation Island when you separate a couple, put one on an island with a bunch of peopel to seduce the person...WHY? What is the goal you are achieving? Under normal circumstance, a man may not cheat on his girlfriend, but if you are to place him on an island with hot girls trying to take off his pants everyday for a month, he most likely will cave. Don't give me the BS that you are testing his loyalty because placing someone under an extreme circumstance like that does not help with his development as a human being nor his relationship. It is absolutely ridiculous.

Human beings are not toys. Their feelings are not toys. You can argue that these people are consenting to be a part of the show so it's their own fault, but I cannot agree. There are people out there with low self-esteem. There are people out there who needs money. There are people out there who are not ethically intact. But as another human being that's a part of society, we are not there to watch them suffer and toy with their minds, we should be there to help them and care about them. And even if you don't want to care about them, you can at least leave them alone.

Note that I am not saying we are better than these people on the reality shows. I believe that they are fine on their own if there were not the existence of these horrendous shows seducing them towards the road of sins and stupidity. By watching these shows and creating these shows, you are the ones calling them stupid and that you think you are better than them. That is not okay.

These shows destruct humanity.

Perhaps my views are left-winged and that I am looking at this from the standpoint of protecting society, but I believe that humanity is important for our wellbeing and that I believe we should care about each other.

As a disclaimer, I do admit that my knowledge of reality shows are limited as I refuse to participate in this unethical phenomenon. I know there are reality shows that are out there which are more helpful than destructive. But seriously, this nonsense with things like My New BFF and Temptation Island has got to stop. We simply should not and cannot sink any lower.

And please, Paris Hilton, for the love of human beings, go away.

Monday, November 10, 2008

That New Korean Restaurant

Over the summer, I noticed that Charlie's Lunchbox, one of the Korean restaurants at the university plaza closed down. I actually never went there when it first opened in my 4th year while it had really good food and service (so i've heard). By the time I went there last year, it was already sold to this really really old (in their 60s?) Chinese couple. The food was horrible and there was no one in there; needless to say, I don't miss it being gone.

Today, we had the opportunity to actually eat out (it's been a while!), even though we were limited to the university plaza. Since I hate all food Waterloo, I told Adam that we can pick between that new Korean restaurant opened in place of Charlie's or Meetpoint, a middle eastern restaurant that opened up two weeks ago because at least i know i don't already hate it before i walk in.

Honestly, I have no idea what the name of the new Korean restaurant is. Maybe "Ga Jeong" (I have trouble retaining names when I don't understand them). Anyway, as we walked by, Adam and I were excited because the place looked really busy and the picture signs outside showed authentic Korean food like pork bone soup and ganponggi.

To make a long story short, the wait was long but the food is amazing.

The wait (*/*****)
No, we weren't waiting to be seated because the restaurant was that busy; we were waiting to be served the whole time. When we sat down, we were given a menu after approximately 5 minutes. While we were looking over the menu, I went to get tea for everyone since the sole waitress was too busy. After 20 minutes of waiting for her to pick up our order sheet and menu, I took the stuff to the counter where two old Korean couples were poring over the bills for a big group of people (who have been there for at least 10 minutes trying to pay the bill). After we put our order in, it was about another 20 minutes before our order arrived. So total wait time was about 45 minutes before we got our food (maybe even longer). The waitress is also inexperienced and worked really slow but I'm not sure why the cooking takes so long too.

The food (****/*****)
Adam ordered "tonka", his friend ordered beef and vegetable stew, and I ordered kimchi and pork stew. Their food was definitely really authentic, i think even better than owl and minerva. The servings was ok but they gave really big servings of free appetizers that made us really full! Adam's tonka, which was similar to Pork Katsu or Chicken Schnitzel (basically battered and deepfried pork) except with this sweet and salty Brown Sauce squeezed over it, was really big in portion. My kimchi stew had really little pork that consists of a lot of fat and John's beef was non-existent. Good thing they all taste really amazing, even for Toronto standard (and we're talking waterloo food here!). The price is medium, about 6.99 for pork bone soup, 8.99 for the stew dishes and 10.99-12.99 for the galbi and bulgogi stuff.

Is it worth the wait?
Adam says it isnt and I'm still sitting on the fence. To some extent we got there while it was really busy. After we got our food, the place calmed down and ppl who came in then got their food a lot faster. But then it got busy again and ppl were not being served properly. There's a sign outside that is asking to hire waitresses so maybe if they had more experienced waitresses, the wait might be better. I'd definitely try my luck there again! I mean, come on, real good food next to the uw campus? what more can you ask for??

Sunday, November 9, 2008

What being busy means

I used to wonder why people are so busy all the time. When I ask them how they are doing, what they are up to, they tell me that they've been really busy and really stressed. But when I ask them why they are so busy, the most common answer is "I don't know...I just have a lot of stuff to do...a kinda muffled answer that really is neither here nor there. So in the back of my mind, it's really hard for me to believe that a person has that much stuff to do; I feel that they are just pretending to be busy so that they sound important; that or they are too dumb to know how to organize their lives properly. Why are they so damn flakey? Who the hell can be that busy 7 days a week?

I fully admit that i have become one of those people I hate. After constantly apologizing for not calling them when I said I would, not making it for lunch when I made plans, not seeing people when I tell them I want to see them, I am beginning to really hate myself. And when I ask myself why am I so goddamn busy, I don't have a good answer.

As a full-time graduate student, I'm taking two classes. Two classes is pretty normal as we have lots and lots of dense readings everyday, papers, seminars, exams to prepare for. So in a regular 40 hours work week (5 days of 8 hours), if 6 hours (a day) are dedicated to class time, 16 hours (two days) to readings, 16-24 hours (2-4 days) to writing papers and prep for exams, that doesnt give me much time. In the event that i dont have something due other than readings, i'd get maybe the wknd to do something other than school work...sorta...since now that I have to start doing house chores on my own, it really eats up all your time. Living off-campus on a budget is a bitch. Cooking is like a fulltime job and between cooking and eating it can literally take up to 2-3 hours. Then there's grocery shopping for the food, doing the laundry, and cleaning the house.

When I do go back to toronto, for like maybe once in two weeks for a wknd, I usually spend Friday night hanging out for a bit, Saturday all day is running errands in toronto that i can't do in waterloo like getting chinese groceries, getting my eyebrows done, getting car fixed, driver license renewed, passport renewed, etc. In the event that i actually don't have free time and am supposed to be doing school work, i might still hide in my room in toronto and do it. Often I get back to Waterloo after my chores on Saturday night so I can do my studying in Waterloo on Sunday. Once in a while, I can pull out maybe an evening to do something more exciting than being in front of the computer or doing household chores but that's usually when I'm in Waterloo on a weeknight or something and i don't get to see my friends.

So when people ask me why i am so busy, it's really hard to say. I'm busy with school, mostly and during my free time i gotta run chores. It doesn't sound like an exciting, eventful, highly intense kind of busy...just a very boring kinda busy.

I honestly can't wait until grad school is over. Like someone was saying, grad school is like a class that just never ends. I miss being that person last summer when I can just be spontaneous and laid back, go out and do stuff whenever someone calls me, regardless of the event.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On Emotions

Over the last year, a lot of the ideologies I've been living under have been slowly thwarted by things I see, events I experience, lessons I learn. Sometimes you face something and it hits you right away, sometimes it just takes time and multiple lessons before your conviction even begins to sway.

When Harvey and I first began talking in fourth year, he was bemused by my indifference, apathy, and relativism. i rarely have an unwavering stance on anything because i believed that everything in this world is conditional and subjective and that nothing is certain. Time moves and things change, we have no control. To be honest, he was a bit dumbfounded. He tried to teach me about about passion and how important it is to realize dreams and make the world turn. He was using Barack Obama as an example, actually, way before the world realized he was going to be an amazing presidential candidate. You have to believe, he tells me.

Professor Easton Fraser came in our class two years ago while I was taking English 301H to teach us what it takes to be an academic. Passion, he tells us, is the key.

I make fun of Adam all the time because he is what I consider overly emotional. He gets excited, you know? When he wants something done, when he believes in something, he's enthusiastic and hyper. I usually find him way too idealistic and too hopeful and I always tell him to calm down and not get overly excited about something that might not even happen. You gotta trust, he says, you gotta believe that you have control.

And you know what? In the end, he's usually right. Once in a while, he gets disappointed, but most of the time, things happen.

To be passionate, to believe, to trust, to give your heart to something and allow it to be moved....or risk it to be broken. And you know what? I can't even stand to invest my emotions into any sports game because I can't bear putting my heart into a team only to see them get eliminated.

To be passionate is to be emotional and "emotion" is a bad word. If you look up emotional in the thesaurus, you'll get synonyms like disturbed, erratic, hysterical, impulsive, irrational, pathetic, sensitive, get the picture. Indeed, emotions has always been considered the other end of the binary for reason and logic. Emotion is the heart and reason is the head and you should always use your head. Girls are too emotional, someone might explain, they let their feelings take over their head.

Sometimes, people might tell you to "go with your heart" but come on, really? What does your heart know about the real world? Emotions are things I avoid having unless I have to and I live my life by the belief that I should never allow emotions to affect my decisions. I pride myself in being logical and detached, never allowing my life to be impinged by feelings. Feelings? Ew.

But let's face it, we need passion. If there is something we can take out of this year's presidential election, it is passion. We can't change something and we can't work towards something if we are not passionate about what we want. How can we improve ourselves and things around us if we don't have hope, belief, and the drive to change? Passion and emotions are not the opposite of logic and reason but its partner for achieving extraordinary things in the world. Did you know that studies have found that people with their emotional side of the brain damaged is incapable of making decisions? No matter how good the person is still good at analyzing and evaluating, without emotions, you cannot decide.

We decide because we feel and know what is right and we do because we feel. If we can't feel then we won't have a drive to do and to make changes in our lives. Let your self go and allow yourself to take in the emotions. It's okay to feel, to care, to invest, to get excited, to be passionate and it's okay to get hurt once in a while. Be ambitious and believe a little and it will drive you to be the best. If you fall, get up and start again. You never know until you try.

I know hide my fear to fail, my fear of being disappointed, my fear of getting hurt behind my cynicism and doubt. I tell peopIe am practical and realistic but somewhere along the line, I lost my drive to be better and to improve, to search for what I want to do in life. I want to be moved! i want to be excited! I want to want! There is a difference between being passionate and being irrational. You can be smart and still be excited about something you desire. Passion does not blind, only witlessness does.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Childhood memories

Have you ever looked back at your childhood and hated some of the stuff you did?
There are so many things as a child that I did that I am not so proud of and wish i could go back and change things, despite the fact that i wasn't consciously trying to be nasty.

Every Hallowe'en I am reminded of when I used to hide my candy underneath my bed and check them everyday to make sure that my brother did not steal them. On one hand, I was saving them and I didnt want to eat them all at once the way my brother used to eat his candy, on the other, I wanted to use the candy as leverage such as chocolates i don't like but he likes to trade for stuff i do like. But usually, by the time the next hallowe'en came around, most of them would still sit underneath my bed and they would have to be thrown out. It boggles my mind why I didn't just share them with my brother.

Another selfish thing that I really hate myself for was when when i was in grade 2 and my brother went to some fair and got two huge colouring books. He came home and gave one book to me and i saved those pages like treasures, colouring them only once in a while in fear of it running out. My brother, on the other hand, just coloured all of them (not very carefully either) and wanted to colour in mine. I refused to let him colour in mine and one day when i opened the colouring book, i found some of the pages torn out. I got really upset because my brother was "stealing" from me, which was a horrible concept, and told on him. My brother got in huge trouble (i think he got spanked) for it. A couple of years late, when I came across the colouring book again, it turned out that i only coloured like maybe 10 pages out of like 500 pages (it was a really big thick book). I remember i didn't want him to colour in my book because i wanted my book to stay pretty and he never coloured within the lines, but it so wasn't worth it in the end.

I'm sure I did nice things too when i was a kid, but when i look back and think about the not-so-nice things, it really makes me cringe and feel really sad. Obviously, people would just tell me that I should let go of the past and just be a better person now, but it still bothers me from time to time.