February 2012 in Review

What happened:

February 14th surprises from the corner store (Kenji + roses + chocolates)!

– Spent a lot of time with Kenji, just hanging out, being silly, keeping each other company while we did our own things. And it has been so nice. No-stress hangouts with my favourite guy are the best.
– Took Kenji out for a fancy meal to send him off to Montreal for surgery. What I remember the best from the date was Kenji making fun of the dish I ordered, which he called cat food (I had a housemade fettucine with chicken livers, sage, and pecorino). He clearly forgot how much I hate being made fun of about my food!!! Despite all that, I had a wonderful time.
– Started going to the gym at my local community centre for $46/three months. Guys, it’s the best thing! That’s $15 a month! I like it there because it’s unpretentious and mostly nice people from the neighbourhood (I got in the mornings when there seems to be more middle-aged exercisers). Oh, and the Aquafit ladies are sure to brighten your day with their chitter-chatter and laughs!
– Had my chart updated by my astrologer/astrology teacher Julia Wawrzyniak-Beyer! I’m looking forward to some sweet Neptune transits in the next couple of years, hopefully doing some good in the career side of things.
– Oops. I’m going to cheat with this one: I started a Twitter account (okay, I started it at the end of January)! I mostly try to keep my tweets to Toronto-specific food, critical fashion and style, and a bit of personal updates.
– Little sister visited! I love sister visits! We laugh about things that we don’t with anyone else (in Canada). Seriously, it’s humour that 1) has to be in Mandarin and 2) has been developed over the span of our lifetimes. It’s very special, let me tell ya. I remember grocery shopping with Ruth once in Peterborough at what was once Price Chopper, and we spotted someone in the store who we didn’t want to bump into and make small talk with…so we just hid in the pasta aisle, trying to hide behind the other person (which doesn’t make any sense) and making ourselves really, really rigid and small. We died laughing. That’s the incident I always think of when I think of laughing with Ruth. We discovered some Korean restaurants that beats any other places I’ve been to in the Koreatown area: go to Seoul Restaurant for 2-person pork bone stew and Paldo Gang San for their cheap do-it-yourself BBQ. Full and satisfied!

Little sister getting smothered by Calamity Jane

Some things I learned this month:

Robarts Library ain't that bad on an early weekday morning.

– I’m almost done with this whole non-degree-student thing at U of T, picking up the credits I need for my BEd. And that realization has made me less of a Scrooge. Last month was not so easy because it was the beginning of a new semester that I didn’t even want to start in the first place. Now that it’s February, I feel like I’m close to the end, so am feeling much lighter and less down about it all.
– I wrote a paper for my Urban Historical Geography course about how the development of the railroad facilitated the growth of Chicago from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Ask me if you want to know! Ha!
–  After Kenji’s surgery, I really got into learning about general anaesthesia (emphasis on the after surgery!).  My mind was blown. I knew so little about it and never really understood why it was such a scary thing (and why anesthesiologists were paid so much money). And damn, when I did read more and watched videos, I was floored. WHEN YOU ARE UNDER, YOU ARE BASICALLY THE LIVING DEAD. YOU ARE A ZOMBIE. YOU ARE IN A STATE THAT I CANNOT EVEN COMPREHEND. WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN YOU ARE PUT UNDER??? Mind. Blown. I couldn’t stop thinking about this for days.

A list of things I’m thankful for this month:

Kenji’s smooth surgery, the doctor, the nurses, his mom, Kenji himself, my favourite regulars at work who make having to deal with shitty customers a bit better, torrents, second-hand stores.

The keywords for February are patience, gratefulness, and shopping (lots of shopping…).

What I’m looking forward to in March:

– For Kenji to come back to Toronto! I miss that guy.
– CHICAGO! Sarah Creagen and I will be tabling at the Chicago Zine Fest! This will be my first time tabling at a zine fair, which is super exciting. Also, Chicago happens to theeeee American city I want to visit. There is so much history, art, architecture (did you know that the first skyscraper in the US was built in Chicago??), and urban geographical history to absorb in that city! And looks like the city is good for thrifting, too.
– Continuing to monitor  my digestion problems. I have started to drink a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon every morning on an empty stomach, which was what my nutritionist told me to do. And it’s a miracle. Just have to be diligent about this.
– Watching more movies from the canon (mostly the Western canon). I still haven’t seen the biggies like The Godfather and Jaws. Craig taught me how to use torrents and it has changed my life. Watching movies and TV shows are no longer a burden! No more tracking things down on Side Reel! Last night, I finished watching 12 Angry Men (1957). I have Blade Runner lined up next.

Happy leap day! As the brilliant and beautiful disability justice warrior Mia Mingus said, take a leap! Take a risk! Do something brave! Tell someone you love them!

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My mother taught me to love colours

As I sit in my kitchen, waiting for my carrots, endive, and onion to finish roasting in the oven for this roasted carrot soup, I think of my mother, who often says that it’s important to have colour in your food. For her, the importance of rich, vibrant colours was not linked to “health” (ie. health hypes telling us to eat dark greens for this and to eat reds and oranges for that!); she simply valued the aesthetics of a table covered in varying and vibrant colours. Her love of colours is obvious with her clothing. She mostly wears brightly-coloured t-shirts that are a bit too big, a bit too baggy (and some of which are hand-me-downs….from me! *guilt*). I love my mother for her bright wardrobe and her bright personality.

Doesn't this make you feel so warm and safe?

I sewed that applique onto my mom's t-shirt as a present for her when I was in high school.

As I grate the orange carrots and quartered the chartreuse endive, I think of her. I think of my mother, despite the fact that more often than not, she puts soy sauce in most of her dishes, subduing some of the original colour of the ingredients. And I know she throws in a dash of soy sauce in most things because it’s easier to flavour food that way than to take a lot longer, concocting dishes that retain all their greens, reds, and oranges. I think of her, despite the fact that she would never make a roasted carrot soup (“Pureed carrots? As soup? You call that food? Are you sure you can eat that???”), the beautiful shades of orange remind me of her love of colours.

My family's DIY family portraits from a year ago.

Eating egg tarts in the middle of the sidewalk in Taipei. Notice the bright blue against my sister's and my blacks. May 2011.

I think I might miss my mom. Mayyybe.

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Bloggers ruined me and my confidence, but lipstick saves all my days

For the last month or so, I’ve been questioning my hairstyle choice (and my style in general). I’ve had this DIY, short, asymmetrical cut for about three years now. And I’ve generally really liked it. I like it not only because I feel like it suits me, but also because I do it myself and I feel good about saving that money so I can spend on other things that make me feel really good (like eating out with friends). But lately, I’ve been feeling uncertain about my hair. I’ve been daydreaming about long locks, about wavy hair with volume, having enough length to dye my hair many different colours at once. I come across POC bloggers like Arabelle of Fashion Pirate and lust over her hair, thinking, OMG I CAN DO IT TOO I WANT IT. I find myself wishing I “looked good” with long hair. I have somehow convinced myself that only short hair styles are “flattering” for my face. I think I am going through a bit of a “I’m-not-femme-enough” period. And a “I-should-be-more-unique-what-the-fuck-is-up-with-my-banal-gay-haircut” period. And a “I-want-to-stand-out-more-and-I-should-not-play-into-that-Asian-stereotype-and-I-want-to-be-sexier” period. God, I can’t even stand myself.

I think what/who is partly to blame are bloggers and blogs. One of my favourite leisure activities is following style and crafting blogs. Jumping from blog to blog and having ten plus browsers open works really well for me as a Gemini rising. I feel like I have exposed myself to quite a large number of blogs, yet I find myself doing circuits between only a few types of aesthetics. If it’s not the ephemeral, translucent aesthetic of a white blogger with long hair and clothes from fancy vintage stores, then it’s the whimsical aesthetic of a white mama blogger with a nice family and the goddamn cutest fucking baby. And I get totally sucked in, scouring my local Value Village for more gold picture frames and kitschy kitchenware with so many rust spots they must be hazardous to my health. Sometimes I look around my room and my apartment and wonder how I let these bloggers I don’t even really know decorate my entire living space.

The aforementioned rusty kitchenware excavated from Value Village

(But it’s also not just the pretty, straight white bloggers. It’s also femmes of colour with whom I compare myself. But fuck, that’s another blog post that I’m not quite sure I am ready to write.)

But, sometimes, when I am able to be easier on myself, I tell myself that these things make me feel kinda good. And feeling good is hard to come by. It’s so important for me to remember that if I’ve found something that makes me feel even slightly happy (and I’m not causing too much harm to others), then hold on to it for as long as it still makes me feel good! Let it go when it becomes stale and allow myself to be changed in the process of being exposed to other aesthetics and forms. As Iris of Bossy Femme recently said:

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that it takes me about six months to go from hating something and believing I will never to do it to loving something so much that I become a major proponent. I remember when I thought I would never wear skinny jeans, floral print, navy blue with black, short skirts, high heels, big eyeliner… you get the idea.  Eventually, all of this stuff comes at you in a context that you find appealing and you begin to get just as stoked about it as everyone else…I don’t feel scared of being labelled a hipster because while I do love listening to records & drinking my coffee out of jars, I love other things, too. (I assume something similar is true for most people.) Better yet, I know I will learn to love all kinds of things that I haven’t even considered. And that’s pretty badass.

My Goddesses. My Saviours.

Anyway, all the new lipsticks I’ve recently purchased is helping (I’ve visited the MAC counter at Yonge station at least two times in the last week). I feel really proud of myself for wearing lipstick and accentuating these lips that I feel self-conscious about. And so, I’m gonna keep layering that lipstick on for as long as it protects me from my critical self.

The problem-causing hair + the armour lipstick = I'm doing all right!

Muah!

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January 2012 in Review

What happened:
– Started my weekly schedule of class Monday to Thursday, work Friday to Sunday
– January was a month of being indulgent and letting me treat myself to nice food. I checked out Enoteca Sociale, The County General, Union, Aji Sai‘s all-you-can-eat, and Yours Truly. Union and Yours Truly have won my epicurean heart.
– Had Lunar New Year dinner with the usual suspects, as well as some new friends. Diasporic holiday gathering helped with the inevitable homesickness.
– Challenged myself and signed up for The Social Feed, a communal dinner with a big group of strangers, at Marben.
– Made my first ever pickles! I made some bread-and-butter-ish pickled carrots for the fridge.
– Really was not motivated to focus on school at all. I am disinterested in most of my classes and sometimes just want to forget about assignments and never do them. This continues to be the case…
– went to see a Chinese herbalist for the first time. She told me, “Your body is not capable of digesting all of the food that you put into it.” Dead on. She’s got it dead on. The herbal tea I drank for five days helped with my digestion problems.
– Feeling similar emotions as I did this time last year, which has been a wee bit difficult
– Feeling blue towards the end of the month and upped my daily dose of vitamins

Lunar New Year Eve dinner in Chinatown with some dear friends. January 29, 2012. 

Some things I learned this month:
– My body may not be very wheat-tolerant
– I can be vocal about feeling like I’ve being treated with disrespect and thoughtlessness

A list of things I am thankful for this month:
Traditional Chinese medicine, red wine, and my TTC pass, big firm beds, tiny indoor fairy xmas lights

So the keywords for January are food, sadness and health.

What I’m looking forward to in February:
– Working on my zines during reading week for Sarah’s and my big trip to The Chicago Zine Fest
– Getting my second astrology chart reading done by my astrology teacher. We’ll see what’s in store for me in the upcoming year!
– Making dill-pickled carrots!
– Continuing monitoring my body’s reaction to different foods/different amounts of food

Here’s to a good February! Dear Universe, please let it be a good one this year!

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Auditory hallucinations – Part II

Julia, my astrology teacher, told me that the voice I hear might be trying to protect me from whatever it is that is making me anxious or stressed out. The voice might be coming to me as a barrier to those things that my body is not responding well to. It is filling up my head space so those nasty things that make me feel bad can’t enter. I am intrigued by this idea. I have always just perceived the voice as a nuisance and a neurological/mental/physical response to anxiety…because how could something so loud and confusing be protective? But I suppose this voice could be one other protective mechanism in the vast pool of a variety of ways people protect themselves; some mechanisms are deemed “healthier” and more “productive” and others are labeled as “dangerous” and “destructive.”

Julia suggested that if and when the voice comes back, I could welcome it by saying like “I’m open to what you have to say,” whether mentally inside my head or literally out loud. This might open up space for the voice to do its thing, whatever it is.

And who knows? Maybe it is nothing beyond a response to anxiety. Or maybe it is something residual from my childhood. Or, or, or!

Regardless, if the voice does come back, I will try to refrain from taking anti-anxiety pills to chase it away so I can give it some time in order to see what it will do.

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Kiyoshi Kuromiya “Biographmap”

I came across the name Kiyoshi Kuromiya a few days ago in the comments section of the latest Threadbared blog post featuring Alondra Nelson‘s newest book Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination. I had never heard of this radical-sounding POC before and decided to do some basic internet research on him. After doing some reading up on Kuromiya, I decided to create a visual mind map to help me remember what this man was about. The drawing contains references to Kuromiya’s background as well as the work he was involved in throughout his lifetime. Certainly, this drawing is simple and simplified, but I find useful in remembering someone I am glad to have learned about.

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New Denver, British Columbia – August 2010

I sat on the steps of the building I drew in my earlier post to do *this* drawing. It doesn’t matter which direction you look in New Denver, there are always mountains in front of you.

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