Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Me 'n' Books

I came across this meme at Bookmark My Heart so how could I resist?

1. Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback? Trade paper. Hardbacks are expensive and not comfortable to hold while reading in bed, mass papers are small and don't open well when they're thick, and trade papers sometimes come with french flaps which I love.
2. Amazon or brick and mortar? Both. I like browsing in store but I find books are more often discounted online...and I prefer Chapters as it's Canadian and I have an iRewards card.
3. Barnes & Noble or Borders? Neither. In Canada, it's either Chapters or Indigo, and since they're one and the same, it really doesn't matter.
4. Bookmark or dogear? BOOKMARK ALWAYS!! I'm super-anal about my books - I don't even like to crack the spine!
5. Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random? Random-ish. There is some method to my madness.
6. Keep, throw away, or sell? Keep because I plan on having a library of my own one day soon (that's what the den in my condo is destined for!)
7. Keep dustjacket or toss it? Keep.
8. Read with dustjacket or remove it? Remove it (see 4.)
9. Short story or novel? Novel - I prefer character and plot development over the snapshot of short stories...I don't find them satisfying.
10. Collection (short stories by same author) or anthology (short stories by different authors)? Probably anthology since I've been known to buy ones published by Harlequin Romance in the past.
11. Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket? Harry Potter - can't wait for the final volume! I've the first Lemony Snicket but couldn't get past the first chapter.
12. Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks? Depends on how engaged I am in the book. I've been known to pull all-nighters to finish a book if it's THAT good.
13. “It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”? Once upon a time because I like cheesy romances and don't like to be scared.
14. Buy or Borrow? Buy because I'm stocking my library, unless I'm due for a cheesy romance fix, then I'll go to the library and borrow about 20 Harlequins and read them over the next couple weeks.
15. New or used? New - see 4 above.
16. Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse? Browse, and upon occasion, recommendation.
17. Tidy ending or cliffhanger? Depends on the book.
18. Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading? Usually night-time reading because that's when I have the time.
19. Standalone or series? Both.
20. Favorite series? Harry Potter, Griffin & Sabine, and the various trilogies by Nora Roberts - when I'm feeling blue, or need a mindless fix, I'll pick up one of her books and visit with some of my favourite couples.
21. Favorite book of which nobody else has heard? My taste doesn't run to the weird and obscure.
22. Favorite books read last year? The Thirteenth Tale.
23. Favorite books of all time? The Alchemist, Essays in Love, Conditions of Love, Nora Roberts' romances (see 19.)

I also stumbled upon this quiz, and apparently I'm a Literate Good Citizen. Heh.

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Literate Good Citizen

You read to inform or entertain yourself, but you're not nerdy about it. You've read most major classics (in school) and you have a favorite genre or two.

Book Snob
Dedicated Reader
Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?Create Your Own Quiz

Monday, January 29, 2007

Class is cancelled!

Another productive, long weekend for the most part. I went to Bamiyan Saturday morning to pick up more supplies, mostly pearls and findings and spent the night working on a 5-strand necklace I had started last week. It was slow going since I injured my right index finger opening a bottle of wine. Silly me - I let my finger get in the way so the skin got caught and immediately puffed up. The darn digit is still tender and an angry-red. If I was at 100%, I would have gotten more work done but I'm not, so I only just finished the one piece Sunday morning.

I had a 45 minute massage booked for 1:15pm which I was a little late for thanks to the slow Sunday traffic. I asked the RMT to work on my back, shoulders and forearms and did she ever work me! Not so much my back, but I had no idea how tight my forearms were just from working with wire until she got her hands on them because they HURT! It was a good hurt, but dang!

After a quick shower at home, I headed back out again to source packaging. The boxes I want are being discontinued so I stocked up. If business goes well, I'll use all 160 and once they're gone, I'll have to figure something else out. If business is lackluster...well...I'll have a bunch of boxes left over. I'm going with a chocolate brown and pink theme but the boxes only come in white. I'm hoping that my great idea to spray paint them brown will work. (keeping my fingers crossed.) I also picked up a really pretty pink grosgrain ribbon to accent the package - I'll post pics later, if it works out. ;)

Sunday night was girls night in. I headed over to my friend N's house with a bottle of wine and a tub of green tea ice cream to complement our Asian theme night - we took a couple pages out of Hot Sour Salty Sweet and made tom yum goong, spring rolls and green curry chicken. It was a first attempt at these dishes for both of us and we were pleasantly surprised by how easy everything was - and quick! From start to finish, it took us maybe 75 minutes to prepare the 3 courses. I've been meaning to buy this cookbook and now that I've tried a few of the recipes, I'll definitely have to add it to my wishlist.

I took today off to see to some more business. I went to John Bead and was underwhelmed. The place is huge with TONS of stuff, yes, but not stuff that I wanted. They don't have much in the way of fresh water pearls and faceted semi-precious gemstone beads so I left empty-handed. I headed back downtown to visit Bamiyan again, but stopped at Lacy & Company first where I picked up a scale that can weigh in grams as well as carats, and some anti-tarnish solution.

And then I got home to the voicemail telling me that the JewelCAD class I had enrolled in was cancelled. The good thing is that I'll have my Tuesdays and Thursdays free, but the bad thing is that I'll probably have to wait until the fall at the earliest before the class is offered again. The message said I could call to enroll in another class otherwise they would give me a refund. If I had known 2 weeks ago that the class was going to be cancelled, I would have signed up for the drawing class, but it started 2 weeks ago so I think I'll just sit this term out and focus on my mandarin.

I can see clearly now

I foolishly rinsed my left contact lens down the sink over the holidays and had to place a panicked call to my optical shop to re-order a fresh pair - I don't wear disposables and I'd had that pair for a year anyway, so I figured I may as well replace both.

Since getting the new lenses, my left eye's been off, yet, when I wear my glasses, my vision appears to be 20/20. At first I wasn't sure what to make of it - I thought maybe I had put the right lens into my left eye and vice versa - I've done it by accident in the past before. But that wasn't the case. Then I thought maybe the lenses had been mislabelled and I didn't have the right prescription. So today, I went back to the store in the hopes that my optician would be able to solve this mystery for me.

Thirty minutes and 4 pairs of trial lenses letter, his answer was that the astigmatism in my left eye had gotten worse in the last year and a half since I last got my eyes checked. My glasses corrected the astigmatism, which was why I was able to see fine when I wore my glasses, but because my contact lenses didn't correct it, my vision was blurry. He gave me a pair of trial lenses for the week, and if my vision is ok (which it is, for now, anyway) he'll order the left lenses with the astigmatism correction and I'll just have to pay the difference for the lenses.

What a relief to be able to see clearly again! I've thought about doing laser eye surgery...but there's a part of me that's scared. While I have a couple friends who've done it, it's technically still considered experimental surgery in Ontario. What if they screw up and I'm left blind?! I know that's not likely to happen, but I've only got one pair of eyes. There's no going back if they mess up. So contacts and glasses it is...fortunately, I actually look good in glasses - unfortunately, I am cursed with an Asian's bridge, or lack thereof, so glasses tend not to stay in place on my nose.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Condo update

The changes day over day never ceases to amaze me - in the last couple weeks, they've poured the concrete for what I think is P2:

January 17 @ 9:18am

January 18 @ 9:16am

January 20 @ 12:23pm

January 22 @ 10:21am

January 23 @ 2:48pm

January 24 @ 1:42pm

January 25 @ 8:50am

January 26 @ 9:53am

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pricing, packaging, etc.

I met my friend at her studio last night to discuss pricing for my jewelry. I've never sold anything in a store before so I'm not sure at what price points to start, although we had discussed ranges when I first approached her to take her up on her offer to sell my pieces on consignment.

It was a productive meeting: I showed her the pieces I've made so far and we talked about markups - she's suggested a range of between 300-500%, depending on the piece, but I'm a little skeptical that someone will pay that much. I'm going to trust her though since she knows her clientele. She does a lot of bridal, and her rationale is that if a bride is going to spend $3-4K on a dress, what's a few hundred for a unique necklace that can be custom-designed for her if she so chooses?

We discussed packaging too, which I've been putting off...and now I'm glad I did because she had some great ideas on that score too. I had already decided on a chocolate brown and pink theme for my packaging - I love this combination - and after stopping at a couple places tonight for samples, I sketched my idea...and now I'm excited!

We talked about my debut - she wants me to be ready in time for Chinese New Year, which is February 17th - so I will be very busy in the next 3 weeks getting ready. I've always worked better with a deadline, so this is just the kick in the butt I needed!

I measured the display case she'll be clearing out for me - it's 6.6' x 2.3' - bigger than I remembered, so aside from sourcing all the packaging and photographing everything for my marketing portfolio, I'll be working on additional pieces to fill the space, which is the most fun for me anyway. So another full weekend ahead!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How rewarding!

I got my credit card bill the other day and glanced at my reward points balance, which I don't normally do since I check my bill online and file away the hard copy when it arrives. Last I checked, I had enough points for a long haul flight to anywhere in continental North America, including Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. I've since accumulated enough to fly to Europe! Woohoo!

I didn't have plans to travel this year since I figured I'd save the money for furniture, etc. but I can now fly abroad and visit my family in Amsterdam or London for free! Alternatively, I can continue accumulating points and I should have enough before year-end for a flight to Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Africa or South America! Oooh! Maybe I'll save my points and join my mother on her annual trip next year to HK/China to visit my grandparents!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why don't hockey players smile?

I went to the gym tonight for a run and one of the TV channels just happened to be turned onto the NHL All-Star festivities. I guess it had just started since they were going down the line, introducing each of the players.

Can I just say that most of them didn't look very happy to be there? Despite living in hockey-mad - or maybe just Leaf-mad? - Toronto, I am not a hockey fan - our household favours basketball, only because my brother's a baller and it's the only sport he watches that I understand - plus, they play really good music at the games so I'm entertained twice-over. I tried to get him to explain NFL football to me once but he soon got frustrated with my questions and gave up in a huff.

The only times I've ever sat down, on purpose, to watch a hockey game from start to finish is during the Winter Olympics. I like seeing Canada reign supreme and, without fail, I get teary-eyed when the Maple Leaf is raised and I hear the first few strains of O Canada! (Ya, I'm a sap, but that's another story.)

Anyway, back to my point, the players looked stone-faced and almost uncomfortable as the camera panned onto them...I don't remember their names, but I can count on one hand the number of players that cracked a pseudo-smile. Sooo different from the bravado and smiles I typically see amongst basketball players.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Quirkyalone am I

One thing I learned: Anuptaphobia is the fear of being single.

One thing I'm grateful for: My friend at work who gave me a pep talk via email after I found out I didn't get the job I interviewed for.

One thing that made me laugh: My mother and brother - first because she took what I thought was a sure bet that my brother wouldn't drink the soup, my brother because he proved me wrong, and my mother again because she wouldn't take my money when I tried to pay up.

I've been invited to the 3rd annual Valentine's Party hosted by my friend's girlfriend. I didn't go last year and I don't plan on going this year either. I realize that I'm probably being a snob and that I should probably give her a chance because she's at least making an effort to keep in touch and get to know us, where my friend has not.

However. I have still not forgiven her for adding my email - without my permission, I might add - to a mailing list for some pseudo-lonely hearts meet-up group soon after my ex and I broke up. Perhaps she meant well, maybe that's how she got over her break-ups, by going out and meeting new people right away. But really, who does that to someone who's pretty much a stranger to them? And without consulting her boyfriend. I talked to him about it afterwards and he told me he found out after the fact and told her that she shouldn't have done that. I got periodic emails from the group for a few months after that and finally put a stop to them by marking them as spam. I didn't think I held grudges, but I do now.

Last year, the party was for singles only and my friend who had gone, said there were games. I have nothing against games...if they're board games, that's cool. But made up games that reek of cheesy get-to-know-you "say something nice about the (strange) person sitting next to you" type of games I'm not down with.

And this 'do is called Anuptaphobia Arrest. I was online with my other friend earlier, who asked if I was going. I said no...and we got onto what anuptaphobia means...I really didn't care, but he googled it, and it apparently means the fear of being single(!) Heh. I wonder if she's projecting?

Funny thing too, is that I got a message today from the Edmontonian I went out on a date with earlier this month asking me for my number again because he'd neglected to save it to his cellphone. My first thought was why? I think it's pretty clear from our interaction (or lack thereof) since then that neither of us is interested in the other, so what's the point of me giving him my number? I chose to ignore his message as I was at work.

I have no fear of being single. In fact, I've never been one of those people who has to be in a relationship - I completely identified with the term quirkyalone when I first heard of it. Anyway, given all the demands on my personal time lately with my business, classes and the on-going job hunt, my time is very valuable and I don't want to waste it by spending it with someone I'm not particularly interested in - life's too short.

I believe love happens when you least expect it so I'm going to carry on doing things that I feel enrich my life and experience. I will not be one of those sad, desperate souls who puts everything on hold. I think in this case, the harder one tries, the more likely it is that one's quest will end in failure.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Long productive weekends

Isn't this amaryllis pretty? I had bought it mid-December in the crazy hope that it would bloom in time for Christmas, but it did not. It's been fun watching it grow from the bulb. I was worried it wouldn't bloom because I don't have a green thumb but 'lo and behold, I've been surprised by the changes in the last week. Just 4 days ago, the buds had broken out of their, um, pods(?):

To today, with the leaves a few inches taller and the flowers in full bloom:

It's been a long weekend literally since I took Friday off as a sick day. My stomach wasn't feeling good Thursday afternoon so I spent Friday at home taking it easy and eating lost of bland congee. It was productive though as I started work again on my jewelry, which I had been neglecting the last week. I finished 3 pairs of earrings and 3 necklaces. I would have finished a fourth necklace, except that I forgot that Bamiyan closed at 4pm Saturdays and since my mandarin class ends at 4pm, it was obviously too late by the time I arrived after class.
I've made good progress on filling my order, but I've still got lots of work to do administratively in terms of sourcing packaging. I've been meaning to go check out this one store for the last few weeks now but haven't yet made it out. I can't be putting it off any longer.

I also got my butt out to the gym, which I had also neglected the last week. I went for a run yesterday morning, but it was a crappy short one (perhaps because I was running on a mostly empty stomach?) but I made up for it this afternoon by running 5.29Km.
From the Stacks Update: I've been so busy with my business that I haven't had time to keep up with the challenge. I've got a couple chapters left in The Line of Beauty, which is only the second title from my stack and given that there's only 10 days left in the challenge, there's no way I'll be able to finish another 3 books in time - particularly when the books I've picked aren't exactly light reads.

I've bought a number of new books - most have been jewelry/gem reference books, but I went to Chapters after my aborted visit to Bamiyan yesterday afternoon and picked up the last 2 books in the Griffin and Sabine series, Alexandria and The Morning Star on sale. I was so taken with the trilogy when it first came out - the format was so refreshing - a story told through correspondence. How could one not be intrigued with the vicarious thrill of reading someone else's mail? Anyway, I had initially borrowed the trilogy from a friend, and had subsequently received book 1 as a gift. I bought The Gryphon a few years ago so will have to pick up books 2 and 3 sometime to round out my collection.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My first sale!

My girlfriend came over tonight for a look-see at my jewelry. I hadn't expected to make any sales because we were catching up for the most part but she ended up buying 2 necklaces - one of kyanite and silver beads, and the other a rope of pearls and labrodorite. My first sale as a business!! I was a little sad to see the rope go though because it's one of my favourite pieces to layer with. It just so happened to be one of her favourites too - and if I want to make this business a success, I can't be turning down chances to have my jewelry out there and worn by someone. I gave her some of my business cards to hand out and consoled myself with the hope that her enthusiasm for the necklaces will lead to more business in the future.

I guess this is the internal struggle I'll have to get used to - on the one hand, I'm glad that someone else appreciates what I've created, but on the other, it's bittersweet because it's a part of me that I have to give up.

The handbag as health hazard

I came across this news item while browsing today about how oversize handbags are a health hazard in terms of neck, shoulder and back problems.

Jane Sadler, a family doctor, reports that she sees many female patients with neck pains and headaches. One of her diagnostic tests is to look for her patient's purse and pick it up. "We take it over to the scale and weigh it and usually they're anywhere from 7 to 10 pounds (3.1-4.5 kgs)...We're really going to see women with more and more problems later on if we continue the big purse craze."

Physical therapist William Case urged designers "to place a cute, educational caution tag on all bags to inform of potential neck and shoulder dangers." - I don't know about you but I felt very patronized by the mention of "cute" educational caution tags.

Anyway, it made me think about how heavy MY everyday bag is because I've had friends comment on how heavy it seems when they should happen to hand it to me for whatever reason.

I'm presently carrying the black Kate Spade tote I got in Hong Kong 3 years ago (it's very similar to this one in size and shape). Contents include:

- wallet
- wristlet (for all my misc cards)
- day planner
- make-up bag (which I rarely open, but you never know when you'll need it)
- small sketch pad
- keys & work security badge
- pair of leather gloves
- pen
- tissues
- gum
- cellphone

All this weighs in at about 5 pounds. Not quite hazardous, but if I included my jewelry biz folder, which was in there last week, I'd probably be in the danger zone. Does this mean I'll lighten the load and edit? Probably not.

I consider myself a bay lady first, and a shoe girl second (but maybe that's because I have ugly feet, heh) I suppose the one thing that saves me is that I don't spend much time in the day carrying the load on my shoulder or arm. It goes from the car to my desk where it remains all day, back to my car and home - all told, I probably carry it for no more than 10 minutes. So why do I have all that stuff with me? I like to be prepared for most eventualities - if for example, I know I'll be riding the subway, I'll drop in a book to read or my iPod to listen to. Maybe I'm a bit of an organized control freak...I don't like to be caught unprepared or bored. I can't help it.


And is it just me, or are the days getting to be a bit longer? It only occurred to me as I was leaving the parking garage at work tonight. I had turned on my headlights underground but realized when I got onto the highway that it was still light enough out that I didn't really need them...this was a little after 5pm. I probably wouldn't have noticed the time if it hadn't been for the fact that it was around this hour at Christmas that I turned out our star lights in the front window.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Golden Globes

Instead of prepping for my interview tomorrow as planned, I've been parked in front of my TV for much of the last 4.5 hours watching Entertainment Tonight, the Golden Globes, and now The Hour. George Stroumboulopolous was interviewing Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and I couldn't help but notice that he has really big nostrils. I also tuned into his interview with John Legend and must say that I am very impressed with how articulate he was in speaking about the issue of race in America and the publicity surrounding Kanye West's now infamous statement that President Bush doesn't care about black people in kinda makes me want to check out more of his music.

Here are my superficial thoughts on the Golden Globes:

* Emily Blunt is tops on my list for best dress here - very Herve Leger band-aid dress-esque1 and just beautiful. (via)
* I have a girl-crush on Kate Walsh.
* Why does Renee Zellweger always look sour-faced? Does she not smile anymore? I did like her green dress though.
* Angelina Jolie's dress was beyond underwhelming.
* Beyonce's gold dress was T-A-C-K-Y.
* Mary Louise Parker's hair and make-up was gorgeous, as was Cate Blanchett's.
* Cameron Diaz - awful make-up, and over-tulled.
* Sasha Baron Cohen as Sasha Baron Cohen was funny.
* Kyra Sedgwick's acceptance thanking her "one and only, her only one, Kevin." *sigh*
* Mia Maestro's multi-balloon dress: ewwwwwww
* Reese Witherspoon - she looked great and I loved the yellow dress/red shoes combo.
* Sara Ramirez looked lovely in a 40s pin-up kinda way.
* Drew Barrymore's blush-pink dress was very pretty.
* What was up with Vanessa Williams' crazy big hair?!

That's all. I have to get back to prepping for my interview.

1 I used to watch a lot of Fashion Television as a kid.


I spoke too soon when I speculated that my condo might be ready early: I called the sales centre today to ask when I might expect to go in to pick out my cabinets, etc and I was told that it would probably be about 9 months, which is fine, except that the "official" occupancy date is this September.

I know delays are de rigeur. that having to wait an additional 3-6 months is really no big deal in the grand scheme of things - my best friend's place was delayed 3.5 years. Besides, this delay gives me time to save more money for my furnishings, but I was so looking forward to decorating my own place sooner rather than later.

The site was quiet today - there were no men scurrying about. : (



Ol' Man Winter

I went to bed last night with forecasters calling for 10-15 cm of snow, but given that previous calls for such weather have failed to come to pass, I was rather skeptical. When my alarm clock sounded this morning at 7am, I turned my radio on to find that I was right. The snow warning had been called off around 2am and instead of snow, I was greeted with freezing rain. It made for a lovely 1 hour drive in (as opposed to my usual 30min) - but at least I didn't have to shovel the snow before leaving for work this morning.

It's quiet at work today...for some reason I can't get any sound on my computer - but at least it's working - our network was struck by a virus last week which disabled connectivity for much of the company.

Friday, January 12, 2007

6K, baby!!

I went to the gym tonight after dinner and had a fantastic run. And you know what made it fantastic? Well, to start with, I decided to be a bit ambitious in terms of the timing of the sets and the speed - W1/R7 (I had sort of plateaued at W1/R6) and I ran at a faster pace than usual. It was relatively effortless, i.e. I only felt the twinge of a teeny cramp at the end of my second set, and after walking for a couple minutes, it went away and stayed away. I also ran an additonal 10 minutes and probably could have continued running for another set. And finally, I wasn't even sure I wanted to go and I did and I broke my previous record by running just over 6K! Yay for me!!!

Let's rewind, shall we?

I had packed my bag last night for a run after work. The gym is on my route home, and instead of turning right into the parking lot, I drove on by towards home. I was in no mood for a run and knew a half-ass effort would only discourage me for the next time. I rationalized with myself that it was OK to skip the gym because I have plans to meet my friend for a class tomorrow morning - our first BodyJam class.

I worked on my jewelry for an hour after dinner and felt guilty about skipping my run. I remembered the re-run of Cityline I saw last week in which they talked about making workouts a priority by scheduling it into your day, etc. I was inspired by that episode and have since begun putting it into my planner.

Besides, I didn't exactly have the healthiest - nor tastiest - breakfast this morning with my sausage, egg and cheese sandwich from Tim Hortons. To add insult to injury, I picked the sandwich with the most calories according to their nutrition guide - it rings in at a whopping 500 calories and 34g of fat. McDonald's Sausage 'n' Egg Mcmuffin tastes WAY better and has 60 fewer calories and 8g less of fat - not that I keep count or anything. But if I was going to cheat on a diet, McDonald's would be my poison based on taste and nutritional content (or lack thereof).

So to make a long story short, I felt guilty and decided to head to the gym to run off some of my breakfast. And am I ever glad I did! I feel energized and proud. :)

Condo progress YTD

While I miss the snow that is winter, the mild weather of late has meant that construction on my building is moving along at a fast clip. I wonder if it will actually finish early?!?

I dropped by the site last weekend and while you can't tell from the images below, there's actually two levels of parking now, and that brown box in the later images is the elevator shaft!

I can't wait for the call to go in and pick out the colours for my cabinets and floors!

January 3 @ 12:50pm

January 4 @ 3:22pm

January 5 @ 10:49am

January 8 @ 4:49pm

January 9 @ 9:39am

January 10 @ 2:15pm

January 11 @ 1:01pm

January 12 @ 1:33pm

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My business cards arrived!

I got home and found that my business cards had arrived! Yay! It's silly how a little piece of card stock can provide so much validation, but seeing the name of my business printed out all-official-like makes it seem a bit more real.

I ran tonight - I almost didn't go but am glad I did because I skipped it last night and we're going out for dinner tomorrow so if I didn't go tonight, my first visit this week would be Thursday, which is far too late in the week for me to stick to my goal of hauling my butt to the gym 3x a week. (How's that for a run-on sentence?)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Shared assumptions vs. shared lives

"Perhaps being old friends didn't mean very much, they shared assumptions rather than lives."

I came across this line while reading The Line of Beauty today and it struck a chord because I've drifted apart from a couple friends that I thought I would be close with forever. It's a shame because I've known both of them for at least 17 years - that's more than half my life!

I suppose I've noticed that we'd been drifting apart for quite some time now - but it was only this past holiday season, that it occurred to me that I don't really know what to talk to them about anymore.

I've always played the role of social coordinator so perhaps I'm partly at fault for having spoiled everyone. I've stepped back from this role in the last year mostly because I feel that they've taken me for granted...and as a result, we don't see each other. I've noticed that if I don't pick up the phone to call, or send an email to say, "hey, what's going on?" it will be months before we see each other again. Case in point: we got together as a collective over the holidays, but the last time we saw each other before that was my birthday (which I organized) in September. How sad is that?

Friendships are like any other relationship - they require regular maintenance. I think the main thing that has kept us together for so long is our shared history. But people grow and change from new experiences and if they don't grow together, they grow apart. And that's what we've done. We don't have any shared recent history, and while I realize I can change that, part of me is apathetic, and the other is resentful because it takes two and I'm just tired of putting in all the work.

Que sera sera.

I am weak

My original plan for the weekend was as follows:

Morning: Bamiyan for bead supplies
Afternoon: Mandarin class
Evening: Jewelry

Morning: Gym
Afternoon: Packaging reconnaissance / Jewelry
Evening: Jewelry

But it seems the trend for waylaid plans continues: I did in fact make it to Bamiyan in the morning. I spent a productive 2 hours there, much of the time just exploring the aisle of silver findings. I left around 12:20 and didn't have much time to get a real lunch before my mandarin class at 1, so I just ended up getting a chocolate chip muffin and a coffee at the Tim Hortons. Class was fun - I had the same instructor for this class as my last, and there were also a number of other students I knew too.

By the time class was over at 4 my poor diet today had caught up with me. I was weak and trembling from hunger - not noticably, but I could feel it. So I ended up gorging on sticky rice which my aunt had made - soooo yummy.

I had gotten a text message while I was in class from my friends to go out for drinks instead of staying home like a good little worker bee, I went out. You only live once, right? We ended up at Lot 16, where they have the smoothest chocolate martinis I've tasted in recent memory - rather like chocolate milk without the cream. By about 12:30am though, hunger had set in again - all of us had had small dinners - so we headed back to Mamma's by my friend's place to pick up some pizza, and settled in for a viewing of Mean Girls, which was quite enjoyable. (Whatever happened to Lindsay Lohan? She was such a pretty girl and now she looks unhealthy and more often than not, skanky.)

I didn't get home until 3am so there was no way I was going to get up in time for a visit to the gym. Besides which, I've now got brunch plans for 12:30 at Sugar. I haven't been there in a few years, but I loved the minimalist atmosphere and the mismatched tables and chairs. I remember their coffee as strong and good (no refills though) and they serve a great eggs benny, my favourite brunch meal. There was also talk of a visit to CasaLife afterwards, so I can go visit the Liberty bed I'll be buying later this year. I'll also be able to check out my condo site in person, after seeing it's progress online for the last few weeks.

Gotta go get ready now!

Friday, January 05, 2007

At least I ran

One thing I learned: Garbanzo beans and chickpeas are one and the same.

One thing I'm grateful for: My mother, who loves me so much that she makes me eat these nasty little black Chinese pills because I look tired and they're supposed to re-energize me or something.

One thing that made me laugh: Borat.

You know what they say about the best laid plans? Well. I had 3 to-dos on my list after work. The first was to go to the gym for a run, which I did do - 4.44K in 35 min. While I didn't beat my personal best of 5.4K in 40 min set this past Tuesday, the point is that I made it to the gym at all on a Friday night after work. Yay for me!

After dinner, I had planned to go out and pick up one of those accordian file organizers to keep track of my receipts and other assorted loose papers related to my business but I didn't make it.

My last to-do was to change the investment allocation in my work RRSP. But I forgot my log-in password and was locked-out after two attempts. And then I couldn't answer my challenge question - I think it's case-sensitive and I can't remember how I typed it I was locked out there to. I'm a dork.

My eyes have been heavy with sleep since about 8:30 and I don't know why I've been fighting it all this time. I'm heading to bed now...maybe having to get up at 7am this past week is finally catching up with me. I dunno. That's the only thing I can think of for my sad, sad state.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

The secret of love

So I had a first date last night with a boy. A nice enough boy, but it was rather underwhelming. My gut instinct says that we are not a good match and when I sit back and think about why I think that is, it all seems to boil down to his seeming lack of curiosity and adventure.

He's originally from Edmonton (and I have nothing against people from Edmonton - I'm sure "Edmontonians" are all very nice people) and decided to move to Toronto to take advantage of all that the "big" city has to offer (breadth of choice in restaurants, nightlife, etc.) But one year into his move here and he's yet to explore the city and doesn't seem to have much of a desire to. We don't seem to have much in common interest-wise: he talked a LOT about hockey, which I really could care less about, and he admits to not having much interest in dining in restaurants other than Asian ones. And he kept referring to himself as an Edmontonian, which I found rather irksome.

It wasn't a dreadful experience so I was thinking about whether or not I should go out with him on a second date - afterall, it could have been just nerves that prompted all the talk about hockey on his end. And he does seem to be a nice guy. My girlfriend seems to think I should...she says she usually reserves judgement until date #3, unless the guy does something truly awful, like start a bar-fight on their first date (true story!) I think I will...but I'm still not sure.

My best friend sent me the article below today after I told him about my date last night. The first person that came to mind when I read it was my ex...the only man I have loved. I read it fairly quickly and then put it down, knowing that I would have to read it again to absorb it all.

the secret of love (via)
By Dr Tan Chong Kee

It is the time of the year where we find ourselves wanting to connect with and appreciate our friends; a time to have a conversation with them about things that really matters to us... Tan Chong Kee shares what he has learnt about the secret of love.

Last Sunday, I invited two of my best friends over for a nice long lunch. They were a straight couple who have been married for many years and still obviously very much in love. We started talking about relationship and I, having just come out from a terrible failed one, turned to them in earnest, and asked them to divulge their secret.

The husband barely needed to think before answering: find the right person and give 100 percent. He grinned at me and continued: “that wasn’t what I did when I was younger, but I eventually learned this lesson.” I understood, without him saying so, the difference between his first and his current marriage. It was such a simple and honest thing to say, and I felt renewed appreciation for them as my dear friends.

That got me thinking. How do I know if someone is the ‘right’ person? How can I give 100 percent?

We all have a list of what our ‘right’ person must be: he or she must be attractive enough, rich enough, has a good enough job, has a high enough social status… and then they must be funny enough, intelligent enough, generous enough, patient enough, good enough in bed... and then they must be willing to pick me up from work, not get angry when I cancel on a dinner date, laugh at all my jokes, dresses the way I like, think the way I do… Sure, some of the items on the list are the bare essential items that let you know you have met the ‘right’ person – and they are different for different people. But if they are causing us never to meet anyone ‘right’, then it is probably a good idea to examine that list more closely to find out what is going on.

Why is it still so hard to find the right person even after reducing our list to the bare essentials? Even if we start a relationship with someone who meets all our core essentials, somehow, something goes wrong along the way. Let me admit right away that I tried for years to find one myself but have so far only several close hits but no true success story to report. And I looked at my friends who are so in love. What makes them the ‘right’ person for each other? What is their secret? How do people who are truly right for each other recognise each other? What is it that they look for in another that tells them: yes, this is the one for me? I really wanted to know so that I could find mine.

And then the true meaning of my friend’s answer dawned on me. The man to whom I’m willing to give 100 percent will be the right one for me. And similarly, the man from whom I will receive his 100 percent will pick me as his perfect match. The secret to love is ridiculously simple: it is the willingness to give and the willingness to receive.

Have you ever met someone and very quickly become attracted to them? That is the sign that you could potentially be each other’s perfect match. These are the people who fit all our core relationship essentials. As long as you are not emotionally shut down, your body and subconscious mind will let you know it very quickly through the feeling of strong attraction.

Whether or not that potential becomes realised depends crucially on how much we are willing to give and to receive. Love demands no less than our all. We are either giving our 100 percent or we are not. No bullshit, no hedging, no middle ground.

This is a hard lesson for many of us to learn. We fear giving 100 percent because we fear losing control. We tell ourselves if we love another person with all our heart, they will take advantage of us, or they will take us for granted, or I will not be able to make them do what I want anymore, or they will not love me back... So we hold back. We think we can play the game of giving the other person a little taste of the good stuff, and then give them more if they do something we like, or withhold if they do something we don’t like. Or we withhold to keep them on their toes, to keep them guessing so they would love us more. Or we set preconditions: we will give 100 percent only if there is total commitment. We forget that love that is withheld will simply wilt and wither and eventually, we do not give not because we choose not to, but because we have no love left in our hearts.

Or we fear receiving 100 percent because we fear the loss. We tell ourselves if they found out who we really are, they will no longer love us, so better not open our heart to receive or the loss will be too painful. We push people away and play hard to get. We show our ugly side little by little, if they are willing to accept that, then we will accept their love a little more. It becomes a game of ‘how much bad dynamics can I make this relationship sustain and still keep it limping on’. Or we set secret targets to see if they meet them, or secret traps to see if they would trip. We would rather kill love than to face our fear of receiving it. Some might even fear both giving and receiving and play both contradicting games at the same time, flipping from one to the other at the drop of a hat.

If I had a thousand pages I would not be able to enumerate all the games of love that we play. We have learned these games from our parents, from our friends and from our environment. We might be clever enough to have invented a few of our own. And the really clever ones could even invent games that will fool themselves. But consider this: would we still truly love and respect someone if we actually succeed in manipulating them? Isn’t it clear that these games will only lead to lose-lose end results? Isn’t it obvious that in using them to prevent what we don’t want from occurring, they become precisely what will cause the results we most dread?

Why then do we hang on to these games when they are causing us so much anguish? It is, ironically, because we are afraid of getting hurt. But guess what happens when you start playing games? You draw your partner in and sooner or later, they will respond with their own games. We thus create for ourselves this tragic vicious cycle: We play games to avoid getting hurt. These games cause us great hurt. So we hope that a more skillful play will give us the upper hand next time. Fear leading to pain leading to more fear leading to more pain. Relationships now become the place for us to refine our game-playing skills, as our mind churns out a hundred reasons why we must ‘win’ at all costs! Is it any wonder that so many people have completely given up on love? And we blame the world for it, without ever realising that we are creating and perpetuating our own hell.

But what about the hurt, some might insist, we cannot ignore that possibility can we? I am reminded of the lyrics that ask this question very poetically: “some say love, it is a razor, that leads your soul to bleed” And there is no better answer to this question than these same lyrics:

It's the heart, afraid of breaking,
That never, learns to dance,
It's the dream, afraid of waking,
That never, takes the chance,
It's the one, who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to be,
And the soul, afraid of dying,
That never, learns to live.

The secret to love is there is no secret. Find the right person, then give and receive 100 percent. The deep dark secrets are in the games, and there is no need to dwell in those bleak and lifeless depths.

Are you still playing games with the one whom you love? Now is the perfect moment to take stock and ask yourself what you really want: to be ‘safe’ and ‘right’, or to find love. There will be pain whichever way you choose – one is the dull pain of slowly dying, the other is the quick pain of being alive. And there is also a difference in the pay off: in one, you get to feel superior if you ‘win’. In the other, you get to surrender to true love.

Happy New Year to one and all, and may we each have the courage to reach for the love, the joy and the fulfillment that are in all our destinies.

Dr Tan Chong Kee holds a Ph.D. in Chinese Literature from Stanford University in the United States and is one of Singapore's best-known figures in civil society activism

I thought I had found the "right person" in all the ways mentioned in the article. I believe that I had given 100% of myself. Why? Because before him, I would analyze the guy and the budding relationship to death. "As long as you are not emotionally shut down, your body and subconscious mind will let you know it through the feeling of strong attraction." With him, I just accepted and let things happen. I made myself emotionally available and took a chance on love, despite the obstacles, the main one being the fact that we were seperated not only by distance, but by time.

He lived in Vancouver and would always tease me about moving out west, and I would joke back about him moving to Toronto. The one time we had a serious conversation about it, I told him I wasn't at a point yet in my career where I felt I could have my pick of jobs - and the opportunity was (and still is) far better for me in Toronto than it was there. And he admitted that he knew this to be true for himself as well.

So imagine my surprise when he broke up with me: he told me he was at fault for not giving his all, for putting his career ahead of our relationship, yet he turned around and accused me of doing the same...of not making him my first priority because I didn't want to move to Vancouver. I never said I didn't want to move to Vancouver - I just didn't want to move to Vancouver at that point in time because I would have set myself back career-wise. Was I being selfish? Perhaps. But we also had a conversation in which he said to me that he wouldn't want me to move out there just to be with him - which is what I would have been doing if I had quit my job.

I would like to think I was honest with him - that I didn't play games. But I suppose my holding back in an effort not to put pressure on him, or cause him any more stress than he was under with work and with his studies, I was, in a way, playing games.

It's occured to me, too, that I've spent more time analyzing our relationship post-break-up then I did while in it. And to what end? It's done with, and all I can hope for is that I don't make the same mistake again.

Lesson #1: no more long distance relationships,
Lesson #2: don't settle for less than 100% (and as time progressed, I knew I was settling for less than I deserved, but didn't want to admit it because I loved him), and finally,
Lesson #3: when you open your heart you may find love.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007: Year of the Gun?

So, we had the Summer of the Gun in 2005, in which there were 31 gun-related murders in Toronto. So, WTF?

In Toronto, a grandmother was shot point blank at her own front door New Year's Day, an 18 year-old girl was shot inside her apartment just after midnight on the 2nd, and two men were shot at the Guvernment nightclub while in the process of being kicked out of a private party just before 3am. Meanwhile, a student in Tacoma, Washington gets shot to death on his first day back at school today.

What is happening in this world we live in? I don't understand the senselessness.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 off to a running start

It's a new year and I'm sitting here half wondering whatever happened to 2006 because it came and went so quickly.

I've been busy the last few days working on my jewelry - I have 5 pieces done and a 6th on the way. The design process is different now that I'm making to sell, because I'm not just making one-off pieces to wear myself. I have to make different pieces that are not only cohesive, but serve different price points - necklaces, bracelets, earrings...I have to go back to Bamiyan to pick up some more findings...and softflex...and more beads, of course.

Needless to say, my new year's eve was a quiet one. My mother cooked up a seafood feast and invited my uncle and his family over. After cleaning up in the kitchen and playing with my baby cousin for a bit, I went back to work, not even noticing that the new year had come and gone until 6 minutes into it. It was a weird new year's too because I'm not accustomed to hearing the pitter-patter of rain against my window pane this time of year.

I finished up around 2:30am, read a bit and then went to bed...only to be awoken this morning when the phone rang around 10:30. I don't know how I'm going to get up for work tomorrow because I've been sleeping late and sleeping in for the last week.

I went to bed last night thinking I'd go for a run today as I'd called ahead to ask and they were open from 10 to 2. I woke up though and my resolve had weakened. I was feeling lazy...but when I heard that it was unseasonably mild - 10C - I knew that I better haul my butt out to the gym because I otherwise wouldn't leave the house. Sad, I know, but I've been working!!

Anyway, I'm glad I went because I had a good run - I didn't quite break 5K, but I was close. I'm not sure whether or not to abandon the program because I average about 4-5K on each run. As the program progresses, the running portion of the sets gets longer...and I've been stuck on Week 4's W1/R6 set for a while now. I haven't gotten so comfortable with this set yet that I can progress to Week 5's W1/R7...cramps are a problem for me...and the thought of Week 7's W1/R10 just about takes my breath away - and not in a good way.

I spent the rest of the afternoon vegging about - I watched a few hours TV and did some laundry and spent some more time with my beads.

Now I must prepare myself for the new year ahead. This first week back at work should be fairly quiet. My performance self-appraisal at work is due on Friday and I DREAD them. So it'll probably take me the rest of the week to muddle through it. My mandarin classes start up again on Saturday so I'll have to start listening to my CDs again - I resolve to listen to them in the car on my way to and from work, like I've been meaning to but haven't. (I'm a lazy student - but I got an A in my last course!) Then of course, there's my business to see to. I've also signed up for a jewelry design course using 3D software that starts the end of the month running twice a week in the evenings.

The job market will likely be more active in the new year so my hunt will be more serious. In the midst of all this, I have to maintain my gym routine...and somehow find time for dating again.

I've always been fairly goal-oriented. I went to a university with a co-op program, so when I was on a study term, I'd focus on school, and only when I was off on work term did I really make the effort to flirt and have fun and date. Same thing happened when I was studying for my CMA - I had no patience or time for dating. Now that I'm mostly over my ex, I've decided it's time to date again...but dating isn't fun for me. I don't have the patience for the get-to-know-you stage. I find it tedious. But it must be done. So I will do it. I have a date Wednesday and on the one hand, I'm looking forward to it, but on the other, I'm dreading the initial awkward conversation. UGH. (I'm terrible. I know.)
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