The first time I picked up a camera…

I was heading to Portugal. It was the second time I had ever been overseas for a gymnastics competition, talk about exciting. That trip, along with a trip to Argentina the year before sparked a series of competitions that took me all around the world during my last two years of high school. In retrospect, I probably would have hashtagged my high school career as #humblebrag (yes I just did that). One week in physics class, the next in Portugal. One week in biology, the next in Japan. You get the idea. Continue reading

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bluebird

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
you.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
he’s
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
works?
you want to blow my book sales in
Europe?

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be sad.

then I put him back,
but he’s still singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
die
and we sleep together like
that
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do
you?

– Charles Bukowski

an aside

Due to the amount of time I spend on reddit, I find that there are few things that phase me or can sway my emotions (sometimes I end up on the weird part of the internet). But this essay written by Paul Kalanithi, a chief resident in neurological surgery at Standford, made my eyes well and my breath catch. I think we all struggle with mortality and our unidentified expiration date. I think it’s also inevitable that we want to fight the march of time, regardless of how fruitless our efforts can be.
Kalanithi’s words are beautiful and haunting, and I wish him all the best for the future.

click here for the article
photo via tumblr

favourite things

I’d like to think that I’ve always been a creature of comfort. I like being at home, ignoring the rest of the world and reading books with a big ol’ mug of tea. Bonus points to me if I’ve managed to swaddle myself with two blankets and am tucked into bed. When I was little (in age, not in height), I would consume books at an astonishing pace (figuratively, obviously). I started getting super into reading when I was six – I blasted through the Boxcar Children, Lemony Snicket, and other series of that nature. I was eight when I was introduced to one Mr. Harry Potter, and my world came to a dead stop. I started to compulsively read for hours on end (we’re talking seven hours here), skipping meals and reading until the sun came up. Call it a bad habit, but it stuck. You should have seen me when I was fourteen and realized the Chronicles of Narnia was over 1,000 pages long. I was so happy to get lost in another world, surfacing only for meals out of necessity.

Maybe it’s just me, but it makes me so sad when I see children glued to the screen of a tablet instead of a book. Of course I’m biased since I looove reading, but I’d like to think all those years I spent reading led to some sweet imagination building time and I really think those kids are missing out!

Cause really, finishing a really good book is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world.
I primarily read fiction (and cookbooks) but I just finished this book and it had me smiling ear to ear. An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s memoir, and god damn is it memorable.

I don’t think I can really write a proper review on it since my brain has been feeling mushy already from all the physics knowledge I’ve been trying to absorb before the Winter term of school gets rough, but it was upliftingly (I made up this word just now) positive and gave me the small kick in the pants I needed to head in the right direction. I like it enough to include it on my very short list of favourite things. Now with that out of the way, you’ll have to excuse me as I become recluse and try to learn how particles and waves work.

little moments

When I went to go pick out some shoes for rock climbing, I absentmindedly picked out some magazines. I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that. I was thumbing through them again this morning and got all nostalgic to when I was fifteen. I would devour these magazines and read them over and over every single night, and I would eagerly wait for the next issue to come out. It reminded me of a time before wifi existed and how I used to worship the big names that graced (and still grace) these pages. It also reminded me of a time when I would actually go outside instead of sit in my basement in the dark. Fancy that.

Afternoon Delight

I remember being seven years old and sitting at my desk eating lunch. The seating arrangement of our second grade classroom meant I was sitting there noshing on my sandwich with three other sets of eyes watching me. Bite, chew, and swallow. Across from me was a boy that was always smiling, his family had just moved to Canada at the start of the year. He wore a grey turtleneck, a pair of faded black jeans that were just a little too short, and white tube socks that were poking out from underneath. As I sipped on my juice box, I watched curiously as he pulled out his lunch. I had no idea what it was and from the stares and snickers coming from my other two lunch mates, neither did they. They started to make fun of him in the way only school children can, and I remember feeling immensely sad for this boy. The language barrier between us made it hard for him to grasp the meaning of the words the two were hurling at him, but by the end of lunch as I watched his smile fade, I think he understood. I didn’t finish my lunch that day and I’d get in trouble for not eating it all, but watching that boy push his food around hit my seven-year-old heart pretty hard. Ethnic food. He was getting laughed at for eating the lunch his mother packed him.

Looking back it seems ridiculous, but how many times did I beg my mother through tears to not pack me anything remotely Asian for lunch? I wanted to be like everyone else, I didn’t want to open my lunch box and find some ethnic dish no one else could identify and get ridiculed for it. No matter how much I may have loved it, it would have to be eaten behind closed doors at home.

I remember watching everyone trade their snacks at lunch: gushers and dunkaroos went flying across the classroom to the highest bidder. I remember feeling slightly ostracized because who would ever want to trade with the girl whose mother packed her seaweed for lunch? God, I just wanted to fit in. I wanted to share secrets with the girls at the next table next to me, I wanted to be accepted by my peers, I wanted to be picked first for a change, and most of all I wanted to trade my god damn snacks.

I went to an elementary school that was in an immigrant neighborhood and my school was pretty multicultural. When I look back at my junior high and high school career, it was pretty much the opposite of that and the colour of my skin definitely made me stick out like a sore thumb. I struggled to figure out where I belonged for most of those years, and in hindsight when was it ever okay for my peers to define me by my race? Why wasn’t anyone defining me by my sparking personality (this is a joke, my personality has always been more abrasive than anything)? I remember being told by my peers that those good marks on my test or assignment was because I was Asian, or that I was someone’s favourite Asian – like I was the best out of my own lot. Why the F. Scott Fitzgerald has it taken me this long to figure out that this is not okay? Even though these people weren’t saying these things to be rude (backhanded compliments, let’s call them that), they were reinforcing that I wasn’t like them. I get that everyone is a beautiful individual snowflake and everything but I’m getting frustrated.

Sometimes I feel like being the child of immigrant parents is an on going struggle, and I know I’m not the only person who feels like a first generation kid who can’t figure out how to blend their parents beliefs and values with the ideas that society has taught them. I constantly feel like I’m drifting. When I go back to Thailand, I can’t relate with any of my family. The jokes are lost in translation and the language barrier that grows larger with every trip back makes it more awkward with the march of time.

I’d like to think that one day I’ll have it figured out, but as of right now I’ll probably continue to struggle with my own existence (however dramatic that may sound).

But back to the boy, I remember the hesitation I saw on his face as he grabbed his lunch a week or so later. I remember sitting there quietly eating the seaweed strips my mother managed to sneak in after my vehement protests that morning. I remember that feeling of disappointment when no one wanted to trade snacks with me that day. I remember not caring about the significance of that moment when he placed his lunch on the counter until years later, but looking back now it must have resonated to my core.

Because out of his bag, he pulled out a sandwich.