It is an uncomfortable truth that when friends or people ask me what my dad does for a living, I have often lied. More like always. For years, I’ve said he either owns or works at a shipping cargo company in Hong Kong where his position allows him to work online in Canada while occasionally going to Hong Kong. I would get asked if I were to take over his company in the future and I’d say he would never force to do such a thing if I was not interested, and that was usually the extent of others’ curiosity.

This lie does hold some truth to it. 18 years ago my dad did own a shipping company in Hong Kong and he visited my mom and I in Vancouver a few times every year. But since then, my dad sold his company, immigrated to Canada, and held many jobs over the years that were a lot less glamorous as operating one’s own business. Warehouse worker. Sales associate at a cell phone company. Fish packer. Baker. Selling health products. Here in Vancouver with my mom and I.

For the same reason that kids want to sit at the “cool kids” table, I wanted my classmates and friends to like me. “And how do I get people to like me?” I thought, when I was 11. “Lie.” And so one lie about my dad’s job, which I considered “not cool”, lasted 18 years.

I am not proud of the way I acted and I am deeply sorry. If Confucius is a god, I would have struck by one of his books from heaven by now. It is shameful that I chose to lie about my dad’s occupation because I wanted to save face or that I considered him to be less successful because of the jobs he had to take because he could not get better ones in Canada. I pretended that my dad was the same person he was 18 years ago.

Put your hands in the air and wave 'em like you just don't care.

Put your hands in the air and wave ‘em like you just don’t care.

In many ways, my dad is the same. Continue Reading

One night when I was 11, my parents brought me to visit a violin teacher in East Vancouver for a “testing”. What this meant was for me to meet a random, older woman and see if I wanted to pay 50 dollars to spend 1 hour with her privately every week and play with an instrument of her choice. At 21, I can now see clearly the innuendos present, but when you’re just starting Grade 6 you don’t think about these kind of things and you just want to play. And oh boy, did I play all the time and all night long.

For the next 7 years, I had weekly violin lessons and learned how to play the castanets. Just kidding. I shouldn’t joke about the instrument that cost several hundred dollars and with which I spent countless hours playing at home until and after my fingers hurt and my neck ached. But humour is my way of numbing the pain from my grueling experience filled with blood, sweat, and tears, the last of which happened more often than I would like to admit.

I was not born with the natural talent to play the violin, but beyond that I did not give myself a great advantage to ever be great at playing the thing. Most violinists start learning when they’re 4 or 5 when the fingers are still tender and our ability to protest is weak. In one classic example, the beautiful sound of a music note changing pitch slightly is called vibrato. In order to be good at this, your finger knuckles must be limber and soft.  As you grow older, your fingers become hard and stiff, unless you’ve learned the technique when you’re young. Because I started so late, my abilities were hampered. Coupled with my lack of perfect pitch, nervousness when performing in front of others, and a hindering inclination towards perfection, I was not giving myself a good shot at becoming a great violinist.

But I pushed forward, hoping everyday that my natural talent would kick in and I’d become an internationally renown violinist. That day didn’t come. I am not great at violin, but I can read and memorize sheet music, play songs, vibrato, hold my bow correctly. Perhaps it was because of my struggles with learning that I could not fall in love with my violin. The moment I learned how to play a new piece was exciting and fun, but I could never love my instrument so that I could practice for hours on end without protest. I went to see numerous concerts by famed violinists and listened to CD’s, but I could not feel the passion. That every hour of every day that I was practicing was just another hour of me watching the clock and hoping I could develop time-changing powers.

We`re both Asian, but that`s as close as we are alike.

Other than us both being Asian and are nearsighted, I`m sadly nothing like Hiro Nakamura from Heroes.

The day that I entered university was the day I stopped playing my violin. Continue Reading

When it comes to picking out a restaurant for dinner, I’m usually the best and worst person to be given this task. Due to my habit of going on the internet late at night, staring at food porn (a.k.a. beautiful pictures of delicious food), and reading restaurant reviews on Urbanspoon and Yelp, I’ve become somewhat of a snob when choosing places to eat. I figure that since I’m spending my own money, or what little I do have, that I should be efficient with my purchases and get the most benefit from my 65 cents and bits of string. So when friends or coworkers ask me for recommendations they always get a great choice and have an awesome time there, but only after hearing me compare 10+ different restaurants with varying price ranges, cuisines, locations, and my colourful commentary on what I think the waiter should do with his stale piece of bread.

But this isn’t always the case. I often find myself choosing the same restaurants time and time again. Lin’s Chinese Restaurant on West Broadway. Cazba on Davie Street. Dai Tung on Kingsway. My reasons for doing this is partly because I’m lazy, but mostly because if I’ve had great food at a restaurant before, why not again and again forever? What can I say: I’m faithful.

I do this with TV shows, songs, books, and places too. I’ve watched all 10 seasons of Friends so much that I know what line of dialogue is next and I don’t even laugh at the jokes anymore. I often have songs stuck in my head for months before I’ve moved onto something else. My friends were really glad when I stopped singing Set Fire to the Rain whenever I opened my mouth. I must have read the Time Traveler’s Wife 4 times already within the past 3 years.

With places, it’s been Rocky Point Pier in Port Moody. I was introduced to this place years ago in high school, but, being naive and foolish, I only noticed the jungle gym. This summer, a friend told me about the Boathouse there and their $5.99 happy hour appy specials from 3 to 6 pm. I’ve been hooked ever since. The Boathouse should give me a VIP card for all the business I bring them.

But it’s not really the cheap food and drinks that brings me back again and again, although my empty wallet does steer me in its direction an awful lot. It’s actually the view of the lake and mountains from the pier and watching the sunset that’s addictive. I mean, just look at it.

Daisy’s house is just across the water. #booknerd

Continue Reading

Every year since second year of university, this process always happens to me. Every. Freaking. Year. Let me explain through the magic of gifs:

1. Classes are so interesting! Way better than what I was learning last term.

2. So much free time. I should join a bajillion clubs on Clubs Day.

3. After joining a bajillion clubs and forking a lot of money to said clubs.

4. I’m so inspired to do more for other people and the community. I should apply for a position or two (or three…or four…).

5. Damn, so excited to be [insert position title] at [insert organization name] doing [insert job description]!

6. Repeat #5 2-4 times.

7. Proceed to spending all my free time doing #5 and #6.

8. Ehmegawd kill me now, I have no time.

9. Commit seppuku.

As time progresses, I’ve discovered this is what is called “Student Leader Problems.” Don’t believe me? There’s a Twitter account for that.

Now after 3 years of university, I’ve discovered what I am truly passionate about instead of doing random things because it peeks my interest just a tiny bit. Now I’ve broadened to organizations outside of UBC and they are even more exciting and incredible than the ones on campus.

So far my involvement schedule includes: Continue Reading

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Yes you can.

One of my favourite TV shows is 30 Rock. It follows the hilariously awkward life of Liz Lemon, head writer of TGS with Tracey Jordan, a Saturday Night Live parody. She works long hours, deals with idiots otherwise called her staff and actors, while trying to achieve the impossible: having it all. Having it all means getting a boyfriend, having a baby and eating healthy, none of which have panned out except for the first one in the lastest season.

At times, everyone puts exceedingly impossible goals for themselves. Getting a six pack. Going into space. Holding Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen hand. But what Liz is trying to do isn’t impossible. There’s a push and shove. She doesn’t want to give up anything like time in her work and eating Cheezy Blasters while achieving her goals, but sometimes you can’t “have it all”. You can have certain things, but not everything.

Liz’s crazy life has got me to thinking about balance and achievable goals. I’ve set goals for myself for this summer, within the next year, within 5 years, and my entire life. Something’s gotta give and I have to be realistic. I’ll probably never date Jennifer Aniston or be an animated Disney character, but that’s ok. I have other goals. Goals that are doable. Goals are dreams with hard work. Goals I am working towards bit by bit every day.

As long as you are a little bit crazy, crazily passionate, dare to dream a little higher, you can do anything. Don’t give up on what you like. As Lemon says:

Hey, I don’t bail. I am still watching Smash, Criss. – Liz Lemon

I used to think that flips flops were footwear sent from hell, along the same lines with crocs, Birkenstocks and gladiator sandals:

Recently though, I’ve taken a real liking for them, so much so that I actually went hunting for a good pair of them for a week. Then when Hollister had a 20% off sale (still going on by the way if you’re interested) and I got a great pair for $14. Although it’s bit pricier than what I would pay, these are real comfy and look pretty good too.

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Comfort first.

After wearing them for a few weeks, I’ve come up with my list of reasons why flip flops aren’t fashion faux pas and why they are awesome.

  1. Your feet enjoy the fresh air. It’s a great relief from having them stuffed in Vans or runners all day when you’re out, especially when it’s been pretty hot out.
  2. Easy in, easy out. Just slip them on when you’re in a hurry and take them off whenever you step inside the house.
  3. Take them off even when you’re out. Sometimes the thing between your toes isn’t very comfortable. So just take off your flops for a bit and get comfortable.
  4. No socks. Along the same lines with having your feet stuffy in things, socks aren’t great.
  5. No smelly feet when you take them off. The air naturally disperses the odours so they’re sorta clean smelling, not that I’ve smelled them before.
  6. Lots of styles. There’s plastic ones for the swimming pool or the beach. Leather ones to go out. Plenty of colours and fabrics. You won’t be bored with what you wear, just like shoes.
  7. Cheaper than your average shoe. The first pair of flip flops I’ve ever had were from Old Navy. I bought them a year ago at their annual $2 flip flop sale. They were plastic and cheap, but I could only stand wearing them for a week. But the good ones I got from Hollister were only $14, much cheaper than $40 that I’d often buy my shoes for.
  8. They make music. The clap clap sound is like your personal theme song when you’re out and about.
  9. Show off your toes and accessories. Got a great pedicure? Why not show them off to the world when you’re wearing your flops? I don’t paint my toe nails, but I know most girls do so why not take them out for a spin and show off your colours? Also, if you have tattoos or rings on your toes, flip flops gives them ample catwalk time.
  10. Wear them anytime, anywhere, with anyone. Someone I know from school wears flip flops everyday of the year if he can. Snow, hail, rain, it don’t matter. Flip flops are pretty appropriate for any occasion.

Go on and get yourself some flip flops! You won’t regret it.

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Battle Scar Foot.

In the last month, I’ve been spending money like I have any. Which I will once I get my paycheck from the PNE. But the situation has gone out of the control. I think it has to do with two things: Hong Kong and Craigslist.

Hong Kong is a shopping heaven. Everything is cheaper than Vancouver and, at most times, in the States. There’s no tax, not to mention tons of sales all year round and free gifts with purchase, which makes everyone in Hong Kong a frequent shopper. Under that influence, I bought around 10 shirts and polos which were all on sale. I didn’t buy much of everything else, like shoes, pants or bags, completely different than previous vacations there. I think I caught the shopping bug during my vacation which has translated into my bleeding wallet.

Craigslist is awesome. I don’t care what people say about buying second-hand clothes and things because it’s damn cheap. You can buy jeans that cost $200 retail price for $40. And you can haggle. And sometimes you find free things that people don’t want, such as a digital photo frame. I almost buy everything second-hand. The key is to ask for pictures and when did they buy the item. They can lie, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I also go to the mall quite often, just because I’m running errands and I find coupons on the internet to use. The more you go to malls and compare the deals, you find them. Such as buy 1 get 1 at Forever XXII that’s happening right now. I got a tee and 3 for my mom for $23.

As of now, I’m finding my wallet bleeding. My feet also because of all the walking. Luckily, my laptop decided to not crap out or else I’d be buying a MacBook Air too. But I’m getting a Google Nexus 7 instead because at $259 for 16GB, it’s a steal. Continue Reading