when in university...

a few thoughts during the days at the university as non-student and non-teacher.  it's a weird place to be a simple worker. as far as i am concerned, as skilled my work may be, for the social ranking, a casual employee falls somewhere between the regular employee (like the caretakers and office admins) and graduate assistants (as they are never in an objective position. thorny cushion really).  so you may be curious, how does monkey see the school social structure?  well, before i put it out there, i have to clarify that unlike the universities of the medieval period, the post-modern institution is... well, an institution.

what is a university?  well, the word comes from the latin word universitas.  along with growth of towns, which made congregation of specialists and wanna-be-specialists possible, associations of various natures, much like guilds for tradesmen, came to existence.  the difference between the pre-medieval and medieval universities? one may now get a diploma.  the earliest famous university is university of bologna, where one of  my favorite author, umberto eco, still teaches. awesome.  university became a shorten expression for: universitas magistrorum et scholarium, a community of teachers and scholars.  and yes, academic freedom was one of the very first thoughts that came into series of priorities.  hence, let's just call the initial model of a university as a place to learn and exercise academic freedom and... there was no tuition!  like current military academies, ex. west point, someone else paid for your university (usually by the church).

what do i see as the university now? well, we see it as a necessity (as if you would die if you dont advance from university from high school) for a normal life (ie. financial median earning power).  tuition is high and often an undergrad degree is never enough, for the actual position you may want to eventually get to.  so, an extended form of a high school, really.  what about that distinction on paper- diploma? well, it's fairly easy to obtain:

1. apply to universities, get accepted
2. find a mean to pay for it
3. do not fail classes. file right paper works
4. with enough time, you get a paper
5. youve graduated!

and let me just add that... being in univ education usually can guarantee some outcomes. no, coming out better educated is not one of them. but, yes, being poorer is almost guaranteed!

well, when one started to charge for the rights to education, as it costs the society to run such institution, one would think that we would exercise our consumer power, as we often do. we complain about our coffees too hot. too cold.  we complain about fast foods that it's unhealthy and should not be sold to us.  we complain the cheap product that we bought broke down. we even buy clothing, wear and bring it back.  and tuition isnt a small spending.  unless you are bright (or live in uk, as i am told, where they often do degrees within three years), most likely you will take four years to complete a bachelor's degree.  well, bachelor's degree takes about 127-132 hours of college credits, it now takes a good 4.5 years on average.

instead, in universities, these young adults often look themselves with pride, forgetting the very words they use to describe selves.  the whole idea of bachelor's degree stems from the word baccalaureatus, which comes from baccalaureus, an advanced student.  so really, it just means you have advanced as a student.  what is a good student? since we are borrowing from the old times, let's see what student means...

etymology would describe that the english word student came in 14th century, from french, estudient, one who is studying, from the latin word studium- to study.  so what is to study?  well, here's something from online etymology:

study (v): early 12c., from estudier: to study,
from studiare, from latin studium: study, application,
originally: eagerness, from studere: to be diligent (pushing forward)
from (s)teu- to push, stick, knock, beat.
noun means: application of the mind to the acquisition of knowledge.

damn. it's a verb. did you see that?

a student then is a simple noun form of a verb, someone who studies, who pushes, who is diligent in pursuit of knowledge.  dont even get me started on the word learn.  all i would say is 'learn' is a... verb.  again.

learn (v): leornian: to get knowledge, be cultivated
german lernen: to learn, or lais: ' i know'
with precontext:
to follow or find the track.

university is a noun. but everything else in there involves verbs.  is it a coincidence? no. i dont think so. but because it involves life's normality such as tuition, pay cheques, tenuer process (which i think is mentally retarded concept), distinction between the job categories (ie. not all your 'profs' are professors.  especially in music school, i bet most of them are instructors/adjuncts/tutors, who gets paid... well, slightly better than bank tellers), workloads, territories- physical and mental/conceptual, often it is easy to lose the very sight of things.

with couple good friends who have sat in all-around-academic chairs (with ten years spent at universities, i know that these people are also rather versed in the art of deciphering the mysterious academic fog regarding the 'respectable' university lingos), we often exchange thoughts that just steams up our heads. just to make sure that one have not completely lost it and became insane.  you know what they say, if it's just you, you are insane. if there's a good group, it's a trend! hahaha.  and recent talks have brought old thoughts back into life. and here i am, a lowly casual employee, trying to make a few interesting points.  if it offends you, please remember, it's just a musing. from a monkey. hey, im somewhere below regular univ. non-academic employees.

and before it all happens, let's see how i see the social ranking of the universities:
1. students who pay (your tuition fuels the place)

2. teachers (they are respected- supposedly, for their knowledge):
tenure-track will include:
- distinguished/endowed chair (kingpins, like being canadian senate)
- full professorship (senior, tenured, safe for life)
- associate professorship (mid-level, usually tenured)
- assistant professor (entry smallfry, yet to be tenured)
non-tenure track:
- research prof (no teaching, just working, salaries are NOT from tuition but from external)
- adjunct instructors/lecturer/associates (paid for hours they 'work')
- full time instructors (non-tenured full time teachers)

3. non-academic full time employees (without office, it'll never run)
(oh wait, with office, it barely runs... you didnt hear it from me though)

4. casual employees (we come and go)

5. graduate assistants (ooooh.... there'll be light someday)

you see, most university takes undergrads because they want to be there and the institutions can charge them tuition, in my opinion.  that tuition, with external fundings- private or public, like taxes, fuels the institution. yes, most of the undergrads are... consumers! you arent there because it's for free and yes, your teachers and staffs are... service providers.  and no, they are not doing charity work.

so why so passive when it comes to getting your money's worth as a student?
5k is no biggie for you?
lucky you. haha.

however, remember that what i would call an 'old institution mentality' carved in ivory would like to convince you that the social ranking should be reversed on top....

1. teachers ('we are empowering you. giving you our precious time')
2. paying students (since you pay, we have to keep you content)
3. staff
4. grad students as GTAs (get outta there, mate)

so what are the thoughts that monkey have leaking from ears? well.

1. get your money's worth: you need a service? perhaps you arent the only one who needs that service or facility. ask for it. ask until it's given to you. it'll never be given to you unless... admin had spare time (which they never do), or well, it'll never be given to you. speak up. be a noisy consumer. dont tell me your 5k isnt as important as a bloody mcdonald coffee.

2. realize you are there to learn. it means you would go do shit.  ya, like obtaining skills of- well, teaching yourself how to learn. that's what your teachers are for.  it's simpler to tell one how to interpret or physically execute a musical passage (since we are in music school) than teach you how to practice. so rarely they'll volunteer that information. but think what you may need to do once you graduate. do you wanna hire a teacher all your life? you must be rich or in dire need of companionship.  get down to business and see what you are and what your doing.

3. look at the very words you use so often: 'practice.'  one of the things that makes me laugh is what i call a 'hopeful' practice. it's funny because we all do/did it. and boy it is... silly. you start from the top of the piece, play till you get stuck. now, repeat the passage over and over again. when succeeds after million tries, proceed to the next part. wait. ooh. youve just lowered your chance of playing it right even more by practicing.  if the odd was 1:10 (right to wrong execution), now it's at least 2:20.
if something isnt happening, wait. pause. think. why is it not happening? learn to dissect the problem. you dont know how? well, that's what your profs are getting paid for. that should be a lesson.

4. remember that bachelor's degree doesnt carry much anymore. you finished 4-5 years of univ. now what? how marketable are you? what do you know how to do?  to practice 10 hours a day for a recital program a year means... well, may be you have 5 hours of music.  that's 5 hours. what are you going to do for rest of your life with that?  make sure those 5 hours are only an illustration of your obtained skill, rather than the sole product of your young life.  true, it's not always about money, but when they send you the first repayment form, i bet you would wish you have money. we all do.

5. teachers have lives too. as much as you are proud to study with them, they are their own person before anything else. if they are busy and swamped with students, well, remember, he/she may remember your needs as much as you would.  take notes. write it down. inquire.  they wont be able to encompass the all-you, they are busy. instead, give them some tangible things they could do for you.  simple admiration is something you do as a teenager with picture of the teenage vampire heroes.

6.why are you there? who are you?
before you commit further into academia, try to see why you are really there. being in school (a passive state) does not make you learned (as learn is an active verb. it's not a bloody noun).  being in school means that you couldve been somewhere different. possibly more fun.  so make it worthwhile. if it's boring, determine why it is boring.  if the answer still is simple boredom, well, go do something else.  what did bachelor's degree did anyone anything?

7. dont be wasteful.  dont waste your teacher's time with stupid things they cant help you with.  dont waste tax payers' money with failing a course you never studied for. though you pay, there are other people's money invested. for OUR future. so stop being a baby.  so you pay while you are there. someone else had to pay in some form for the building to exist, the profs to be educated, you to be educated enough to get there, the subject to exist in academic disciplines, etc etc. it's not all just you. so stop taking advantage of things. be honest.  be efficient.

anyways, am sure there'll be more things from monkey head in same vein for a bit longer as i am working at the univ.  sometimes things i see makes me really question sanity of the general population. but then, im nobody. im just me. and that's enough for me to think and make statements of my own context: in this time, university.  if you want, do pick up a fight with me for insulting the ivory tower. go ahead. but before that, make sure that you feel as if you got your bang-for-buck from the ivory tower you love so much.  before you confess your admiration for your teacher, while respecting, try to think what is it that he/she actually have contributed for you and what you have contributed back.  they arent replaceable batteries. they need recharge. give something back.  actually go learn from them. what a concept.

and now to bed. love to you all. mad phd casual employee monkey's all ready for sleep. mmmm. sleep. im a simple person. as long as i dont have to do the things i hate, it's a good day. hope yours was as good.



i am very lucky to have good friends. yep. here in yyz. and all over the place.  and nope, i dont tend to spend much time with them in person or on the phone, bizarre enough (though i do love doing things with them once im in the same physical space).  i think of them very often and though i dont actually make contact, i wonder if my thoughts ever make it to their heads.  often it seems as if i am trying to save a bit of myself so when i actually meet them, it would be awesome.  yep. i also hold the urge till i have to run to the bathroom to pee once in awhile.  or try to save that last piece of candy until the very last moment.

or perhaps im just really lazy. may be the excuses i just put on there are for- well, justifying myself.  why? i have no clue.

however, it's often funny when thoughts do cross path in the air, much like radiowave, simultaneously. as if it's been scheduled.  and though one try to tell self that: oh no, it's impossible, who are you kidding! if they arent going to tell you that they have been thinking about you, how would you ever know that it's true? dream on kid!

then it happens.  all the time, actually. between minnows, one minnow can almost tell when the other minnow would wave across the puddle, albeit through immature phone and skype, etc.  synced.  and today, with book bomber.  i am somewhat cautious about taking bookbomber's time, i always have been.  ever since ive known him, he's always working on something, hence perpetually short on time.  usual communications are done through sparse emails, unless something super entertaining is going on.  things like renovation-gone-wild.  today- well, it was just out of the blue.  had to take the phone and had to text a simple hello and voila, comes the reply:

'weird. i just started thinking about you and banff and here you are- etc.'

confluence. that's it. must be.

it's a real amazing feeling that there are such luxury in this world. in real life.  confluence from one another, linking and overlaying, like real blueprint CADs, eventually creating the real complexity of life- which is quite simple when looked through as single layers.


translating incomplete expressions

i recent met up with the little kiddies i love so much in yyz (and i still am so lucky to catch up with some more to go!) and these particular kiddies all have something in common: we are all koreans and ended up being more of transplants than anything else, and yeah, we all studied music.

re: transplant, it's a bizarre thing to grow up in foreign soil sometimes.  for instance, i came over to canada when i was twelve and somehow i have became what we call a 'twinkie,' yellow on the outside and white for inside.  the opposite of a twinkie would be a f.o.b, for fresh-off-the-boat.  as ridiculous to use the stereotype, it is somewhat true.  ask any immigrant family, especially the ones who comes from tighter-structured and traditional world to freer-world (and it does not get much freer than north america or austrailia, trust me).  i know lots of kids who came at my age to canada and they look as if they just got off the plane, however long they have been living here. my older bro is a bit like that.  for me, when i went back to visit in 1996, i was already called a 'foreigner.'  because of the differences of cultures, there is always much dismay and confrontations.

i remember the time a kid came up to me quite angrily and said: why do you always use english to communicate? you are still a bloody korean, whether you like it or not.  it was a quite a shocking experience, as i do not think in neither languages and often whichever one wants to come out first.  i was probably in an english environment.  funny enough, if my parents talk to me, i often talk back in korean without thinking, unless it's going to be a disagreement or a simple 'no'; we arent suppose to say 'no' to elders and this point was beaten on my head since a very young age.  so instead of being semi-forced to do stuff i dont want to, now i conveniently switch to english and use words like: no, you (the pronoun 'you' will have many different forms in korean, depending on the relationship between the speakers. in english, you is a you, whether 'you' happened to be a friend, an acquaintance, a workplace boss or mom/dad. therefore using the english pronoun 'you' to mom/dad always feels a bit naughty, an act of defiance).  

another silly thing was that me and gabe use to speak in korean until we get pissed off at one another.  i was told to never ever swear to another person, doesnt matter what.  but see, that's only ingrained for my korean. therefore, we used to switch seamlessly to english and call each other all kinds of names.  funny, isnt it, i couldnt even call him 'stupid' in korean while there was no difficulty at all at calling him a f@#$ing douche bag. oh i miss the kid.

with these kiddies, we often share much of the same issues.  and yes, it is somewhat therapeutic to let it all go.  we talked about how difficult it is to stay in music and not go into debt.  the phone will never ring and if you ever decide to go to grad school while paying a full tuition, you will be in that much debt.  and for most of us, it is impossible to make a living by just playing. we have to teach, take a job, whatever is necessary.  one of the kiddies is now commuting all the way to thunder bay to play with orch there while doing stuff in yyz.  that's bit nuts you think, and i say yes, that's bit nuts.  but that's life.  i think she was being real trooper, it takes guts to do things like.  yes, it wont be a permanent position and with that kind of attitute, i bet she can go far.  

another kiddie is getting her foot into the real world, finishing school and learning budgeting and the tricks and difficulties regarding personal relationships.  her problem may be that as a korean kid, she was always taught to 'go with the flow,' make things easy. so whenever she wants to ask something on her own behalf, she feels guilty.  the amo of guilt in korean catholic's mind would rival an irish on any given day, me thinks.  unless, of course, you are a harlot like me. hahaha.  as a good role model, im teaching her to say 'no' to guilt.  who needs that anyways.  

and then.. there's the dreaded 'parents' issue.  doesnt matter how long they have been out of the country, the parents always wants the best for their children and often that means back in the old context.  what is 'the best?' well, of course, less risk there is, the better it looks. for girls, it's real important thing in their mind to find the right man.  my current situation with minnow, for instance, does not sit well with my family.  gabe used to say: let it go man, i will take care of it. and i thought and believe that he would and could help a great deal.  i have heard many times from granny that he got a proper shot-down for standing up for me from mom/dad.  in fact, ironically, my dad have stopped speaking to me entire since the day i told him why i want to move to england (for minnow), till the day he had to call me so i could go pick up my brother in a small black box in kelowna.  

anyways, the kiddie is having a bit of a challenge with her own relationship with her parents in regards to her dating scene.  for the parents (same as mine), it's such a bizarre thing: why dont you pick a good christian/catholic korean boy, slightly older than you (that means about 304 years), who is making loads of money and comes from good family?  well, okay, it's a very common wish from parents all over the world, i agree.  see, the challenge is that she's seeing a slightly older kid.  she's in her 20s and he's in 30s. and i started to laugh: im a bit far apart in age.  and  you know, if minnow was ten years apart, they would wish minnow was only five years apart. and if age was right, they would wish he was a korean and a christian.  at this point, i wont even like him, even if it was minnow! hahaha.

so it's always so easy to dismiss parental requests (of all sorts) as a nonsense. you can ask what you may. i will only do what i can.  it's pragmatic however seems- not so compassionate.  however, i beg to differ (not only to defend self here for not following mom/dad's wishes).  we the immigrant kiddies try to do our best and it's not always a great thing to compromise, especially when something means so much to one party (or both parties).  of course we want our parents to be anglosized, to not care about our occupations or earning (it dies not help to know that there are so many asian kids who plow through school and diplomas in areas which makes money- like dentists, engineers, etc.  but who wants to be a dentist really? you wanna look into someone's rotten mouth all day? especially when it is usually caused by personal habits?) or worry about the age differences or the races of our loved ones.   only if it would be so easy.

the word compassion comes from old french.
from late latin: compassio, fellow feeling, 
from compati, to suffer with,
com (with) + pati (to bear, suffer)

silly enough, both parties are suffering. mom/dad and the kiddies.  we all wishes we can convert the other into us.  i jokingly say since my parents are 61 years old, i give them at least 30 years to accept who i am.  and my decision.  they have been living and being themselves for 61 years.  they work hard at their integrity (which i am so glad, as there are so many people whose got zero clues to who they are, regardless of their age) and they have a view of the world.  and yes, it is unique for them.  and if it took 61 years of work to build up to be who they are, even 30 years would be a short time to convert.  and may be they will take the option 2, which is much easier and desired (by me): to accept, as it.  

parents are hard on kiddies because they care.  parents who arent there are the ones who does not care. those mad parents who yells you all day long, every phone call, there's at least one silver lining: they love you. they just dont know how to tell you in appropriate context.  them telling you that you are screwed up means they love you and they want you to be better.  them telling you that you are wasting your life doing music means they are worried about your finances and wishes that you could earn much money easily.  them telling you that you look like crap (this happens very often in my house) means they want you to be beautiful to others, as you are beautiful to them.  this is called translation.  

i dont think i am making stuff up in my head when i translate the raw materials my parents say to me. because they do love me, whether they would tell you in the terms you want or not is a different matter altogether.  and may be they are also translating the whole time i am speaking.  when i tell them i will do whatever i want, may be i am saying i am listening to you and taking notes.  when i tell them they are being unreasonable, may be i am saying that i understand what you are saying.  we are all trying. and we all care.

i talked to my mom shortly this evening. she just got back. she's been ill the whole entire last week. she does not have the heart to fire the helper at the shop at the mo (he's a good man, but he just arent there much because his wife's going through chemo. unfortunately mom/dad's work is almost too much even when he's there. so now they leave at 430am, getting back to home for 10pm.). she wishes her baby son was still around. she wishes i was dating someone she would like.  she wishes i would not move to europe as planned but to stay in town and work/live nearby.  and with all these thoughts, we say not what we think, but what we could say.

mom: and how are you?
monkey: am alright. here's msg for granny-
mom:- okay.  you busy?
monkey: keeping busy. did you eat yet?
mom: we are eating. you?
monkey: am going to.  are you still sick?
mom: well-
monkey: (cuts mom off) dont get sick! it's silly!
mom: i was gonna say-
monkey: stop being sick, no candy for your doc's appt!
mom: calm down, eat well and call again soon ok?
monkey: bye mom bye! dont get sick! 
(mom hangs up with rolled eyes to ceiling)

immigrant kids and parents. or simply, child and parents. persons loving one another, though there are so much translations required. but it's all real and it's all here.  good night mom.  dont be sick. it is silly. it makes me sad. there are only very few things that ever mattered.

i care for you.
one day, i will grow up to be a complete twinkie, then i will say:
i love you.


noisy eaters should be sent to bed with no suppers!

(pet peeve tag by graphic designer brittany harriman, florida)

just like everyone else, i have some pet peeves. though highly insignificant and dumb mostly, it is weird to be effected so fundamentally by such small things. i am sure i also have habitual failings that disturb others and i would like to not to do it, if i can help, at all!  so what are monkey's peeves?  well, there are too many to list, unfortunately, but i will put on some today here, as it makes me laugh at the same time. gah.

1. wrong contractions/nu-spelling: i understand lots of kids, especially with farcebook and texting culture, they like to make up stuff because it's convenient or it's funny (or retarded!!).  the biggest and most dumb one is 'your' vs 'youre'.  just because they look similar... or referring to things without checking the standard spelling.  i understand if you alternate between 'color' and 'colour,' though as a stickler canadian, i prefer the extra 'u' for what it's worth.  though ive been called on my lack of capital letters and general punctuation. so i am guilty as well. boo. but really, i bet people who do nu-spelling has no problems with it at all. so my loss, most likely.

2. that's the other thing, i do not like the tyranny of capital letters. though that's closer to mental disturbance than a pet peeve.  i just like the spacings between the smaller letters a bit better.  looks bit more egalitarian somehow.

3.  people who eat and make lots and lots of noise: the other day, i was going to drop by a chinese restaurant to pick up cha shu pork. i decided perhaps i would like a bowl of congee as well.  i was in one of busier places in toronto and that meant i will be sharing the table as a single diner. which is fine. and there came this young man.  i am sure he's probably in university (looking at the neighbourhood, time of the day, way of dressing etc) and he's one of those guys who are somewhat incomplete.  now, why would i say that: well, he sat down with a psp, transfixed on it while ordering his lunch etc.  i was being rude, i suppose, observing this man and his appearance (he was right in front of me! i didnt have an electronic device to occupy self!)- havent shaved nor washed his hair in ages, shirt full of spots and stains, etc. then came my nightmare: he is a noisy eater.  i hate when people chew with their mouths open. it makes wet-churning-noise which i find gross.  and with him sweating, hence wiping his face with end of his sleeves (no!!), i ended up taking my lunch to go. i could not do it.  people should realize that eating should not require noise making of any sorts.  gross.

4. toilet paper on a roller, with rolling side closer to the wall: you know when you put on a new bugger roll, you have two chances- toilet paper will either unroll over, so that the paper will be draped on 'your' side, or the other way- the paper will be draping to the 'wall' side. this drives me crazy enough that i have changed the bugger roll so it will fall on 'my' side. that is nuts, i know.

5. people who talks on phone while in line. i dont care what line- grocery, bank, dentist. shut up! that's what texting is for. we dont wanna know about your recent breakup with a millionaire, which is probably just 
a hoax anyways.

6. unbalanced things: things that are slightly off balance. like pictures.  frames. doors.  especially pictures.  i dislike when people sends you tons of badly taken, off-balance, washed out pictures, especially when it's dealing with some dumb stuff, like falling over drunk. it's not funny.  

7. drivers who often wants to run you over while you are on a bike lane: nothing more to say.

8. self-important people: i mean, who do you think you are exactly? your life involves around you, yes, but realize that pronoun in use is 'you' not 'we.'  just because you want me to, does not mean i have to learn a ridiculously hard music in a day for 20 dollars.

9. people who takes more than one seat on transit: spilling over IS a tragedy. especially on commercial plane. i did not pay for you to spill over and take my precious cubic inches.  this applies to buses and trains as well.  if you got stuff, fine, i understand, i travel on public transit too. but dont you dare think it's alright to squeeze in and spread out.  that's just bad. wrong. mad.  dont touch my thighs with yours. please. it is a public space.

10. dirty cutleries at eateries/cafes: NO! NO! NO!

11. shit printed scores: i often have to read things fast and when the spacings on printed pages are off, it takes forevermore effort to read them.  also smudged notes and transparent pages suck.  ooh did i mention loose sheets as binding dies? or simply pages in binder that falls out? i know. i should get them spiral binded...

12. underseasoned food: if you want to eat less sodium, go ahead. if you want to eat margarine all your life, be my guest. dont tell me they are any good.  i think it's mighty fine to eat and THEN move.  anyone who have seen me eat knows what im saying. i like eating tasty delicious food.

13. bad understanding of tempo/rubato and everything in between: being drunk does not make you a musical person.  and you should not look like you are dancing while playing and vice versa.

14.  wrong recycling things in bins: ie. paper in plastic, glass in paper, that kind of things.  the worst offenders are people who put trash in lost-and-found. you wonder who does that- well, it does happen. mind boggling.

15. people whose speeches contain large quantity of following words (>25%): well, like, umm, i donno (then who knows eh?), you know, kind of, etc etc. it's not just alright to speak in concise manner. it's supposed to be concise.  anyone who disagrees, ask yourself: do i listen to a voicemail message to the end?

16. people who do not tip enough and people who expects tip for lack of service: nothing further.

17. people who spill dairy and sugar all over the coffeeshop seasoning table: clean up your mess please. just because you are having a tremor (most likely caffeine related), does not mean you can be retarded and uncultured.

18. north american date format of month-day-year: cant we do either small to large scale or vice versa? it makes no sense...  to add to my preference, i also like 24-hour format better than 12-hour format. screw am and pm.  it gets even more confusing.

19. spit pools on practice room floor. it's gross. i understand that it happens, but brass players, dont you think it's gross to step on other people's spit pool? so stop! please!

20. what looked like a clean microcloth for cleaning glasses/camera lenses: the effort is now nullified totally and your glasses is dirtier than ever.  if you use my glasses hankie for kentukey fried chicken lunch, at least leave me the wet nap with my dirty hankie.  and yes, the correct order of putting lotion on hands would be: clean glasses with hankie, fold and put away hankie, put lotion on hands, not to be reversed, EVER.

21. butter for toast in airplanes and restaurants that are icicle hard. do you want me to heat them up on my non-existent cleavage? clearly, that's an insult to anyone who did not make it to the final interview at the hooters...

22. nailclipper that you meant to throw away long long time ago but have forgot to: now that you try to trim your nail in a hurry for a rehearsal, it'll rip through your fingertips. ouch. own fault. still, fail.

23. HHD blank cd packaging: those clear plastic wrapping for discs are impossible to open in a hurry.  once again, perhaps it's the fact that i am always in a hurry. but you mustve remember at least once when you were excited to open a new cd, only to scratch across the entire face panel in vain effort to open the damned case.

24. that pencil you find in practice room- ooh yeah, pencil! only to realize it's empty/broken (snap! fail), haha.

and the list may go on and on, but if these are the essence of my suffering, i think the day is a good one.  it really was just a small pet peeve that got me thinking today, with the noisy eater.  i like my communal tables, however, those communal tables should come with etiquette teacher.  and the things i am annoyed because of 'rushing,' i should try hard to not to rush. eliminate the opportunities.  and for all the other things that 'other people' do, i am sure most of them have not even realize what they actually do and what that may do to others.  perhaps with these bits of free time, i should re-examine myself and try to be less-annoying, though it is always too tempting to observe others, the source of pet peeves are endless.  are you amused or annoyed? what do YOU do when these small things get to you?  makes me wonder how we all live in proximity with one another, mostly happily, if not at with tolerance... and for all those things that grates on nerves, well, let us have some tea. tea and time may not fix anything, but time certainly do solve all problems eventually. and tea will help pass the time. life must be alright, once again. without pet peeves. yay. love to you all.


on the oldest game of the world

it is that time of the year again. yep, the sales pitch for christmas is hung everywhere with no shame (well except in the states, they will still be waving thanksgiving sales flags till 26 november 2010, the infamous black friday where people run others over to point of death for their once-in-lifetime chance to get cheap stuff) and all sorts of relationship thoughts are creeping up. possibly for everyone (!)

the singles are starting to feel the pressure of RSVP parties, the doomed check-box for single attendee vs. double.  the newly attached people are starting to re-examine their partners with microscope: can i bring him/her home? is he/she fit for my contextual surrounding? am i fit for his/her surrounding? what of people returning to home- especially college kids, the new fragile affection vs. the homey historical artifact gf/bf? the list goes on and on.

couple days ago, i ran into an article by one of my favorite journalist, david mccandless.  his mash up of datasets and brilliant graphics makes one chuckle with no shame. even when it involves sensitive subject such as break ups.  a bit of schadenfreuden i suppose. but before you call me cruel, do give me a break.  ive endured my fair share of relationships-gone-the-way-i-dont-want.  even at present point, being happy with mr minnow, let's not forget that he is in an entirely different time zone to begin with! and yes, that's far. boo.

i used to wonder as a child: how did my mom/dad meet? what is it like to fall in love?  does it last? arent we all just programmed to cheat- that is, to get into a relation, stay long enough to reproduce and pass the first toddler stage, then bugger off to another mate? (btw, that would be approx. 2 years- and yes, the general consensus do state that a relationship would be tested usually by 1.5-2 years of inception)  what if i change? what if he/she change? how do i know i am not gay? do old people have sex?  is sexual love inclusive of fateful love? what of one-night-stands?  platonic vs. personal interest?  growing out of relationship? what of being royal vs. becoming a hypocrite?


of course it matters.

in fact, up to this date, i think about these things fairly often. especially that i have found the person i love dearly with no reserve.  yes, i have fallen in love before, so what makes this special? i suppose i am in a different place, quite simply.  in a successful relationship, both parties make an effort.  with common goal, even when the individuals may differ.  yep. it's an effort, not efforts.  of course there will be days that one needs to pull the other, one kicks the other on the shin, one picks up other from being crumpled on the floor, etc., but the idea is that it's a unified action.  an action. not actions.

just days ago i heard that one of our friends' got a new appt with the symphony.  great news, as music jobs are hard to come by.  the even-better-factor? well, his partner's already in the ensemble.  they also went through phase of long distance relationship, uncertainty with government paper works and the process of assimilation as a unit in the land that should have been familiar (trust me, when one has to the mountains of paperworks for citizenship related things, even a home soil will seem combative). so i suppose for me to hear about this news was almost like an elation. totally great.  so now, with stroke of luck and lots of hard work, they can spend majority of their lives together.  in close proximity.

there are also other unions within the orchestra and i envy them greatly.  well, may be 'envy' isnt the right word.  perhaps 'covet' would be closer.  though one would never be a millionaire being in the orchestra, the job is enjoyable (esp in a good orch), pay is alright, and yes, this orch tours as well (take me! i know how to set up chairs) and you get to do it with your partner (somewhat like a second-degree removed chamber music, i suppose).  i say that's pretty ideal.  and unlike chamber music, where there is that chance of bite-head-off-discussion-moment, having a conductor and principles before individual players do nullify much possible confrontations.

in contrast, just couple weeks ago, i had some other friends who were also hoping for similar goal- but auditions being what it is, unluckily, they now wait for another chance in the future.  parallel circumstance, however the very opposite outcomes.  but at least they are together, unlike the minnows at yyz and man, which i, once again, envy, slightly.  and yes, they are bonkers in love. so there.

then there's another union where one of them travels a great deal.  often up to four to six weeks a stretch.  it is work and yes, it is nice to travel and all that, but when one is slightly weak or sick (as life gets to us at some point), it is true that one naturally pines for the other, whether consciously or not.  but they wouldnt trade it for the world.  and i am so happy to be with them, as individuals or as a union.

recently there was another case where one settled for comfortable companionship with a person, though he was really interested in someone different.  because of initial expression/hesitation from the interestee, rather than waiting to see further, i think, he went with the conventional route- when one is sought after, well, one should grant a chance to the world!  and when i heard of the current situation ('old' relationship ending, starting to foster a new one with the initial interestee), i couldnt help but to think about the importance of examining the self: what is it that one seeks in this particular union? but like most young people (including myself and million others), such process is inevitable and unavoidable.  at least he acted with the best possible attitude and grace he could possibly manage, me thinks.  he's a fine young man and it's just one of those many learning curves of life.

there's another couple, who are quite young, however, is separated by the atlantic ocean (i know too many of these, it seems).  though madly in love, my friend is often swayed and adulated by another person, who is in close proximity (geographically; it also helps that this person is totally infatuated and eternally hopeful) and often wonders about one's own reaction to situations of flattery and blatant pursuit.  here, the major catch is that they are a young couple.  there is very little one could do to give a non-verbal assurance or express affection through all that distance and time differences.  i am crossing my fingers for them, but i also understand such circumstances are difficult.

then there are a few of my friends who are single and are the most wonderful human beings of this planet. period.  the catch? well, because they are something spectacularly beautiful and unusual, it seems almost impossible for them to find an optimal situation (ie. find a partner).  it's like being the hope diamond.  the more beautiful and rare one is, more difficult it becomes to find a suitable partner for them.  dont believe me? go ask a serious big scale jeweler; it is a common practice to withhold a gemstone for a ridiculously long period of time, until the jeweler comes to find another that can match it.  no point of spoiling the gem by setting it against something that is, well, 'less.'  unless, you see, if one is willing to set it as a solo piece.  but unlike gems, people love companionship.  so they think they are doomed, meanwhile i think it's just taking its time...

another case is people who grew into one another quite comfortably that since it seems 'set,' there is no easy option but to continue with it.  a relationship usually goes through a rocky patch in the first 1.5-2 yrs mark.  a silly (!) explanation would be that that's the length of time humans would require to mate, produce offspring and guard the offspring through the infancy.  and when it's all done, it's time to go find another possibility, to spread the genes.

another explanation is that after 2 years or so, one needs to clarify whether it is a serious relationship (which involves various form of commitment such as engagement/marriage/common-law, etc) to the world and the partner (it is so easy to have a blah date then just return to separate residency and break out a bowl of chips and completely forget about it, hence ritualizing it) and that by end of this time period, one probably have learned most mundane things about the partner, including those pet peeves that could create a spontaneous combustion.

so after a easy initial 'honeymoon,' if one start to see 'other' interests, what is the right thing to do? well, it differs for each individuals, but the answer is it's never so simple.  especially when that 'other' person keeps burning through the back of the head while the old partner have faded into a pattern.    i know many who have passed through this phase and are happily settled into the 'serious' phase, where there is literally no one else in the world they could be interested in.  and for those who are in this rocking point, i can only watch and mull over it.  i am aware of cases where one makes the best efforts to transfer this 'familiarity' to 'love,' which then turns into heroic effort to be royal, at which point the only prizes available are:

1. a stand-in, largely functional social union (sans affection/love),
2. an elongated struggle, arriving to an inevitable yet somewhat fortunate conclusion of separation.  in my humble opinion, a devotion can be deadly tool, as it could make people to be hopeful, and once hopeful, one is willing to endure all kinds of pain.  but devotion, despite its ability to soak up all sorts of efforts and sacrifices, can only work if matched by another devotion...

and then there are a few who are unhappy with the world and self, who seeks companionship as a panacea for their lives' problems.  uncharacteristically harsh and unstable, they are often the tyrants of their world while they can only see themselves as the victim.  as one mends self, i think one grows out of this insanity (it is insanity in a true sense, as one realizes the faults or shortfalls, one does feel badly and feels the need to readdress their actions in apologies; though whether they do is a different thing all together.  in looking back, they even feel sheepishly about their past behaviors) inevitably.

the problem is that until the mending begins, they can create further problems for others. especially for the 'sandbag' stand-ins.  their partners are not really partners of equal value.  they are supposed to become mentors, mother/father, caretaker, worshiper and a personal savior.  the only problem is that those partners may not be aware of that implication at all...!  they thought they would be in a simple, happy union (oh shit).  and for the temporarily insanes, it is never clear what the problem is.  i think it helps when the sandbags realize they are getting beaten up for nothing and start to demand respect, but often, these sandbags are just too nice (the unusually sympathetic bunch who are capable of self-sacrifice in name of humanity...) and they just get run over for a bit.

but not all relationships i know are like the aforementioned examples.  there are simple and nice ones.  and even every couple have their challenges and problems (who does not, unless, once again, one is truly delusional), much of the people i know have found their partners.  it is a constant work and upkeep.  and unlike fixing the house or childrearing, there is no easy way out and no real respite.

i have asked several people who tried to work through difficult relationships.  ive been in to ruts myself.  so after all that rant, how do i know that i am happy now and i am set for life? well, i think it's rather simple.

the first sign is that one simply knows.  if one is aware and have been practicing being aware of the inter/intrapersonal world, being receptive to something so spectacularly stunning as love (not just infatuation, interest, companionship, obsession, veneration or pure mad mental illness) is not a difficult task.  the question should be that whether one have been aware at all.  if not (or unsure), the best place to be is to start to make some sort of effort to understand the world and self.  then look outside of self.

the second answer would be that
1. there always will be something interesting if one waits long enough (just simple fact one lives in ever-changing flux of a world),
2. therefore to determine something so transient and ephemeral as love for its absolute value is futile (unless your partner showed up riding a unicorn with a complete castle set),
3. hence, it's not about making the best choice, but of being honest to self and being brave enough to commit and foster a relationship.  so what if there'll be more stuff coming up later? for example, there'll always be nicer, bigger, cheaper, sharper imaged televisions.  does that mean you should not buy one because there'll always be a better one?  does that mean you must replace your television every quarter?  nah- neither are practical or possible.

and even if it is possible, we are talking about television. it does not love you back. it does not care. you buy it in a store. you can buy it with a click of a mouse.  it's a bloody thing.  shouldnt people be a bit more complex and deserve a bit more attention?

the third point is that yes, anything worth your life is not necessarily so easy.  sometimes it can be easy. but one shouldnt expect it to be a no-effort.  i tell you, the easiest thing is to die. and well, most of us do not want to die. we want to live. and we want to preferably live without pain/suffering.  and if there is to be suffering, we want to minimize it.  look at the newest health/drug technology and their stocks- it's the hot shit, for sure.  people have been desperate to find shortcut to happiness.  for eons.  even animals. plants. single-cell amoebas.

we the living all wants to thrive.  and that is the exact opposite of death.  my brother gabe will never ever have to worry about girls ever again, because he's dead.  but i bet if he was alive, it would occupy certain portion of his consciousness. on-going. haha.  so being alive and having the choice to tackle difficult things are the privilege of the living (and yes, it's not a right)

so based on those three things, i can happily muse that i am content, happy, elated and silly bonkers in love with minnow.  i dont want anyone better. i dont want just someone. i dont want any love. i want love from this particular person, as i cant help but to love this man, and guess what, i am fortunate that he loves me.  note, it's not that he loves me back. it's not a financial transaction.  he loves me willingly and freely.  even if i were to say to him: stop loving me, it would be his choice to love me anyways.  and why would i say such silly thing anyways.  i am fortunate that he kept himself through the trials of time and life.  keeping oneself is a full-time commitment.  especially if one is beautiful and extraordinary.  and to find him at this point of his life, full of vitality, beauty, ingenuity and love, and being able to be found by him, man, that's pretty awesome.

and yes, i am able to say that i also have kept myself and worked myself to become who i am.  i am not a mere product of consequent events of my life.  i did not always follow the most easy path.  i did have struggles, like all of us the conscious beings do, and some, i won, some i lost.  i may be a bit dented and impractical, but that does not matter, as minnow loves me as who i am and who i have been.  and for us, it's a joyous time (if bit practically demanding), to become who we want to be.

and meanwhile, i will continue to muse about this never-ending-curious topic of love.  i havent even got to sexuality and im laughing at the length of this post. if you made it this far, i say thank you.  and yes, love to you, from me. from the world. one is never totally separated from the world, as people always have ways to be connected by various spidersilk threads that defies laws of physics- time, space, whatever else.  

3 november 2010 post


piggie's halloween

last night was the infamous halloween, where unexpected things happen and disguised people and spirits roam free during the night.  it was a nice one, considering that the sky of yyz was crystal clear with a near a quarter moon, shining down into the city street.  with leaves rustling under small and big feet, doors were knocked and candy bags were filled.  it was a rather special one for me, as i had a close friend from lincoln days visiting me for a wknd trip.  and yes, she loves to dress up as well.

in conjunction to the usual north american fancy dress parties at clubs and such (the three former nebraskan girls went out to the little italy, only to get their poor ears blown off through the euro-trash beats of the basement clubs. oops), yoshi's visit was a nice opportunity to walk around the town and enjoy the last downward curve of the autumn, before the mad christmas fever infects the city.  funny, in canada, after the summer, the shop windows change from thanksgiving-halloween-christmas, which is a bit different from united states, where it goes halloween-thanksgiving-christmas.  and from what i have seen in north england, they just do summer-christmas (with exception of small shops doing halloween advertisements).

it's a nice feeling to share the melancholic autumnal sun with old friends, though now none of us live in the very place we have met.  we still keep in touch with people, but it's not about the location, but of these incredibly resilient spider silk connections that may stretch up to 140% of its initial length.  some, we have lost in the time and differences. some are still close, as if i were to pick them up from the airport today, there only can be a seamless transition to the comfortable respect and affection.

so last night, unlike the previous night of loud music and artificial festivity, we went to visit another dear friend in the west end of the city to carve pumpkins and such.  only to realize that once we have arrived to her house, my phone piggie was no longer with me!

piggie is a stuffed cell phone charm thing.  i have a silly habit of putting animal things on the small items, such as phone, usb sticks, earphone pouch and such, so that i may not lose them completely in my assorted black bags (as the items themselves are also black)  and often, they start to develop a persona and it becomes quite one way relationship: i look for them and they always try to hide or worse, run away.  piggie was always attached to the end of my cell phone (that's right, when i switch phones from europe and north america, vice versa, piggie changes phone, to hang on my back pants pocket), ever since i picked him up in nyc, september 2007.  i was visiting my friend caroline who was studying in nyc at the time and my bro farooq happened to be in nyc magically as well! we walked by a accessories store and picked up two piggies and another thing i cant remember what- it was three for 10 deal.  her piggie was hanging onto her bag and my piggie found its place on my phone.  *and yes, farooq just reminded me that we got lost in harlem at 1am that day as well. epic beginning for a small phone piggie i say, haha.

from that day, i have not been apart from piggie for may be couple hours.  as i carry phone wherever i go and as it was fed/charged in the spaces i lived (banff, england, yyz, you name it- even during the mad bus trip and such!), it was never too far. there were times i have briefly lost it or misplaced it (though i suspect it was piggie who was being sneaky, looking for adventures), usually within 24 hours, piggie was back in my back pocket, looking around the world with his big dotty eyes.

once realized that piggie had ran off, i have tracked every single square foot of the sidewalk from caroline's house to the subway, then back.  on way back to my house, i rechecked the both platforms of ossington and spadina (points of departure/arrival on yyz subway), went off and re-inspected the streets i walked on from restaurant to coffee shop to grocery store.  i have now called the coffee shop and the jewish centre lost and found.  and the restaurant.  piggie is still missing.  only thing that is left to check is the lost-found of the subway.  and let's face it, it will be closer to miracle if i find piggie.

it's just a cell phone thing.  but we did look all over for piggie.  i wonder where he slept last night, as temperature dropped subzero.  it is amazing to feel such affinity to a small inanimate thing, as it slowly became animated through years of interaction.  over three years, he went with me and saw the world as i did.  though he probably saw it near the hip level rather than eye-level.  i dont have a huge hope to find him again.  perhaps he did thought he could pull an E.T. and head out to an unknown adventure.  i just dont want to think he's been stuck at a trash bin or been chewed off by a random puppy.  no...

it is a dumb musing and i know that if i were to be sensible, i should just pick up another stand-in, just silly and bright so that i can at least continue to find my phone in the back bags. but i dont think i can, just yet.  i am going to visit the lost and found for ttc today and see if anything have been returned. when i have a chance to drop by the annex area, i will ask once again. just in off chance that piggie is done with his exciting halloween mischief outting.

and it makes me feel rather happy, knowing that like piggie, there are people who have shared my eyes for the world with me for years. and for years to come. and they are less likely to take a silent departure for a secret trip (bad piggie), and i feel very attached to them, however far they may be in real distances (pah).  so with such autumnal thoughts, i am closing this post about lost piggie, to start another day outside, hoping to find the silly piggie, if not, to wish him a good trip out.  i wonder if he'll write.