winds; relished thoughts
revel like oasis
wounded memories metamorphose
Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023 @ 9:44 p.m.
A fellow INFJ caught up with me yesterday, she is still curious and on her quest to define fulfillment and content.
To her, eclectic artists like me are new specimens because we think outside or break the box. I don't operate on systematic project workflows, but sparks of ideas in art, music and words will be inspired and expand until fruition in their bubbles. The productivity is probably what intrigued her the most. How are these unorganized ideas and schema expand and create on schedule like some organic growth sprout?
I don't know either. I only know that I relate to Joan Miro, Li Bai, Mondrian's works a lot. Romanticism, organic versatility, time and evolution appeal to me a lot.
I would love to be on the same level as Cao Xueqin, but to create a novel with over 400 characters, each with their own allusions, poetry and song in a plot within a plot and writing this while in poverty is something unimaginable.
But this esoteric lifestyle of artistic-logical fulfillment is a rare delicacy that may be enjoyed when one is at peace with themselves, or fully understand the hows and whys they have this superb time management.
Classical musicians are often trained for this time management. Every time we have an orchestra holiday or end of year performance, this means we have to skip lessons. Thus, ensuring we study lesson materials before/after missed classes was essential, and making sure we work with our respective instruments and orchestra as a whole to play the song, escape for toilet breaks, prepare for tuning and find missing section members will teach you how to work it.
But in the flute world, I think exams and performances may be built by European musicians, so our learning are often limited to classical or jazz (and pop) music. I do like how musicianship is structured around notes, time signatures, rhythm and terms so we can understand how music works and its rules, but breaking the box and playing East Asian songs in recitals is pleasure itself as you free the audience from constraints and expectations. The wild is nice.
Then again, don't be like me and ironically play demon slayer's soundtrack in a musical recital in a church. (The performance was well received, some friends said it was bad ass but I had no idea about the irony until after the performance).
Until then, Mondrian's cubes should be showered with non-primary colours tonight.
Monday, Dec. 26, 2022 @ 3:37 p.m.
Fish are no longer just pets but family members after 1-2 months, and as much as I say snails are freeloaders since they came in for free (so must eat algae for their keep), they are part of the tank community.
According to coworker with some experience, I have been spoiling them. Here's their routine:
1. Daily attendance check
2. Daily body check (except snails) - fins, mouth and eyes, gills. All parts should be intact, no fungus, scars, redness e.g. blood, extra parts
3. Feeding once a day, 1-2 weeks with daphinia because I know I overfed them
4. 8 hours-ish of lightning
5. Algae scraping, plant trimming will come when I see fit.
Yeah, definitely spoiling them with food, recreational areas, bubbles etc.
Fish and aquatic stuff to do next year
1. Sign up for free product testing from Hygger to lessen my fish bill.
2. Get plant trimming equipment because normal scissors don't do it.
3. Get auto feeder because HK trip.
4. Go to Aquatic Expo to check out discounted/new goods.
5. Learn more about fish meds as too many brands are doing it. Mum says my fish grown in size, not sure if this is a good thing? I know 2 are bloated.
Pet Fish Musings
Friday, Dec. 09, 2022 @ 4:15 p.m.
In an unexpected twist of events, we become fish owners/carers/parents.
My nephew got a betta fish but a few months later, the fish was not as a colourful or playful and as his parents was busy preparing for arrival of another child, they asked us to take the fish in.
At that time, we were convinced we could totally take care and revive the betta - it was only one fish and all the supplies were there, right?
After watching several videos, I realize that the supplies were inadequate (there is too much misconception about bettas :( and unfortunately, with no clue, did a 100% water change and the poor betta died.
But since I ordered new gear and we did not want that to go into waste, with help from a former coworker and a lot of videos, we got 8 fish, 2 snails and 4 live plants.
Here is what I learned from my aquarium/fishes so far (zebra danios, rosy red minnows, albino corys)
1. When you get a fish, you are building an ecosystem, not just some space for a fish.
Tropical fish needs a heater for optimal temperature, live plants and substrate to offset chemicals and resting spots. It is chemistry.
2. You will always learn something new about your fish by observing them 20 minutes daily.
I look at them over meal times as I have been guilty of overfeeding, and here and there, still, they amaze me everyday (one swam up to the the rock and rested on the java moss, zebras having their races and minnows and their "daily meetings").
3. When the environment isn't optimal, the fish will tell you.
Once I turned on minimum water float and all the minnows were hiding in a corner. They know and they will show it in their way.
4. Fish are much smarter than we think
I am not going to teach my fish tricks, but they know when to duck away from the gravel vac, where the air pump bubbles are and when to duck down when the light is on (or maybe mine are just sensitive to light)
5. They are social
We didn't get a betta because we want less aggressive fish and pet shop recommended minnows, zebra danios and corydobas. They each have at least one of the same kind and it is heartwarming to see my corys laying right next or alerting next to each other, zebras racing one another and minnows exploring the tank.
6. Find a pet shop/resources that has knowledgeable/good advice
Big chain pet shop might have given my nephew bad advice as poor betta was in a tank less than 5 gallons and have no heater (if your house is 24C, it doesn't mean the tank is 24C!). Thanks to Girl Talk Fish, Aquarium Co-op videos and Menagerie pet shop, we got a proper tank, filter, heater, air pump and food. Bonus is that pet shop has Q & A on phone.
7. Plants also need care - but this is giving me aquascaping ideas
I admit I am more into aquatic plants than fish, but that's because I would like to do an iwagumi style tank one day. That said, plants also need heater and their plant food, and it is fun to see them grow.
8. Fish is a commitment
Just because their lifespan is shorter it doesn't mean they don't deserve the best care we could do. Mine can live a max of 5 years, but other species can live for 10 years.
9. Be aware of what you are doing to nature/environment
I understand my fish maybe from the wild or a fish farm, esp. the rosy red minnows as they are feeder fish. But I do my part to not exploit wildlife by not buying exotic/wild species and cram them in a tank because they deserve to be in nature. So you will never find me with a shark/clown fish/archerfish for that reason.
10. Don't settle for less
There is a lot of amazon brands here and there for test strips, pet supplies, plant food etc, but they are cheap for a reason. Find good resources and recommendations, and enjoy the hobby!
Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022 @ 3:07 p.m.
An old friend reached out recently and asked if I feel fulfilled.
I told her that fulfillment for me is achieved in unconventional ways. Maybe it is because of my purpose, or maybe because I already achieved most of what I wanted to do so in the conventional way.
I have been creative and interested in words and arts since very young, when I would teach my late grandmother alphabet, somehow won prizes in the local art studios by just drawing my holiday in a sketchbook and got honourable mention as an ESL student in haiku competition. By 15 or 16, I already play with words and art, I realize they are part of me or a lifeblood and are no longer hobbies.
But growing up in Asia, society has different definitions of "success". My parents taught me early that I may not be able to do what I want and aside from reminding me the importance of balancing studies and extra curriculars, did what they could to help me understand and experience connections of careers I may be interested in. That was how I ended up in summer camps.
While my parents continued to encourage me with creative pursuits e.g. orchestra and did not pressure me to go into stereotypical subjects such as law or medicine, I was still reminded that my creativity was anything but a hobby. Maybe have a career in PR and marketing. But as most creatives tell you, can't be a hobby.
There was a lot of pain, I splintered into 2 selves so I can preserve and grow both creative and non creative sides. Thankfully I met poetry friends and readers that helped me flourish in the other world, and got to study art history and English, which develop my artistic senses and styles.
I spent enough time achieve grades and managed to achieve my childhood dream of being a teacher, even promoted to Head of a Department and shifted careers within my field. Out of impulse I built a freelance career that is diverse and satisfying enough for my active mind. While I still want to know how a promotion feels like, and be a director at a board, I think I have spent enough time achieving what society wants. So long I am at a job I can learn and pay bills, I would like to work to live, not live to work.
I have always been interested in bettering and healing others but realize I am not cut out to be an activist a long time ago. Somehow special needs and healing work out and I get to share my experiences. I always remember how students' parents were relieved when psychological assessments showed what happened to their children so they knew where to go forward (unfortunately, there are some parents who still deny their kids' learning needs), friends and parents who were relieved because I told them to go see psychologist about their anxieties after my own ER experience with panic attacks, and they finally understand what they are not focused; business owners who could send their kids to school thanks to loans (as a lender, I see microfinance as a means to help but understand it is a loan so try to lend to repeat borrowers or places with lower interest rates; my former sponsored child who now wants to be a doctor etc etc. These incidents are way more rewarding than climbing up the corporate letter for me.
As my counsellor and I agreed, we also try to work on bringing my creative and non creative sides together so they no longer have to show up at different times as they are the same person. I spend more time on poetry, flute and doodles and nothing beats having my poem featured in front page, or playing in a recital.
I also discover I love the poet Li Bai's works, and still have some ways to go before understanding all of Cao Xueqin's Dream of Red Mansion without literary analysis. I am not them, but I discover I too am romantic and sentimental, and that is probably why I write poems in certain style. Honestly having a romantic and healthy death is a goal now (because if Li Bai really died by searching for the moon as he jumped in the river drunk, that sounds like a very good death).
I am excited about what gothchyld will be.
Things I learn from ER
Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022 @ 2:18 p.m.
I never imaging having to go to ER in style with a stretcher twice. Or that coughs will be so deadly.
The previous times I went to ER were only because doctors were not available on weekends, and that I had panic attacks and did not know what to do (which led to a smooth transition to family doctor as I could walk and take subway to hospital).
Before I forget, here are some things I learn about ER:
*Ambulance is a paid service as they are part of government, and paramedics do not work for hospital. I got a pretty reasonable $45 one way, but for international visitors and students, buy health insurance or else it will be $240 each way.
*Paramedics will register you for ER and stay with you until you are safe and on the way to be registered. When I couldn't move, they waited with me until they can transfer me to a bed as I cannot enter waiting room seated.
*Ambulance is very well equipped. They will take notes once you are there, but there is emergency drinking water, basic medicine, and they will measure your blood pressure and temperature. Both ambulances I have been are clean.
*One will be dropped off to whichever hospital that is taking patients and hopefully the closest to location from home.
*ER flow is waiting area - assessment room - treatment - results waiting room.
*Bring water and food as food court can be a bit further from waiting room if you cannot bring someone with you. And a phone cable as that will be a source of entertainment and passing the time.
*Crazy things happen in ER. There are addicts, annoyed patients, severe injuries etc. People can kick themselves out but they will be told they are doing so against medical advice and will not hold hospital liable. I feel for ER staff and police who have to endure this all the time.
*Talking to nurses about fears of doing tests help nurse and me. Nurses don't mind me talking away and explain procedures as they know I do not like blood work and my veins are small. They try their best to accommodate. I got several encouraging comments too.
*Hospital has shoes. Went to ER barefoot first time as I couldn't move and going to stretcher is priority, and they have spare shoes and socks so I can go home.
*Wait for discharge report and check if there are referrals. Referral to covid clinic led me to have a puffer for coughs and that is so useful.
*Wait time can be long. I am not sure about other hospitals but I waited for 2 - 4 hours for the two hospitals I was in.
*I did not know that in Ontario family members can get narcotic prescription for you. That is an update.
I hope I do not have to go to ER again under such circumstances (or to ER) but am very thankful for all the help and support from medical teams, family, friends and work. Hope to be able to have a functioning lower back, cough without such pain (actually, just don't cough at all), be covid free and painkiller free. :)
Wednesday, Oct. 05, 2022 @ 10:44 p.m.
As I discover more of my root issues that cause panic and anxiety, and how due to society perceptions I disintegrate into two identities, I see the following findings:
- By the time I realize I am an artist or writer, I already know this is me and it is not just a hobby. 15/16 year old me then do all means to ensure that artistic self has a safe and positive environment to grow and preserve herself there. For sure, it took time for me to learn that everyone interprets a work differently and writer's block, but that self is safety and lovingly preserve and blossom.
- I manage to have a non-creative self that learns everyday skills. Perhaps due to a promise that I made with self that I need to learn real life skills, or perhaps because also that is what everyone else pushes. I develop some great skills but due to childhood experiences, managing what to do after a mistake or a failure is still in the works. That is to be worked with by counsellor. Starting point is that mistakes happen and I am human, therefore imperfect.
- I did get sucker into the society perception of earning more $$$$ and continuing to rise up. But a phone call reminded me today what I find most fulfilling is to be able to heal and help people, even if it is a 7 minute phone call. My path obviously differs from people and hey, money is important, but fulfillment for me is to be able to impact people like that. It is an uphill battle but must remind self of overall fulfillment.
- After all that studying and exploration, I never call myself a writer. Artist-writer or artist is better representation since I mix art into literature and sometimes write about art theory. Writing a piece is too much of an art work for me since I have to find the right words, describe it in whatever essence I talk about, work out flow and structure to make it beautiful and meaningful or achieve overall purpose. I don't see this as literature but rather conjuring something up a canvas.
- How to fully integrate two selves is still in the works. At least not calling myself as two parts is something.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022 @ 4:04 p.m.
If I were to re-choose what I do in real life, I would love to go into conservation or pharmacy. Too bad chemistry teacher made electrolysis difficult to understand. Basically, I like restoring and fixing things without being too physically resourceful.
My artscape is typically a mix of East Asian art, Gothic architecture and burst of Joan Miro.
Picasso and Cubism was great for a while, but after a Picasso course, 5+ Picasso exhibitions in museums and auctions, I am overloaded.
Gothic architecture takes a notch up from Romanesque because it really explores space. I think it treats space like organic, living things instead of dumping it with figures and decorative arches. Instead, all you have is this open space with meticulously crafted pillars and beams that support a church, and you can see God and light flooding you and loving you.
I am not Catholic. I understand our tendency to make figures of Christ and saints though because humans need something to look, but at the same time it is tempting to become idolatry. I much prefer a cross.
Baroque is too much for me - it never tickles my fancy. It's like challenging and warping Roman and gothic ideas and you get a great experiment of shapes. It's simply to decorative.
East Asian art was a full circle. I used to like Western art a lot more because calligraphy is boring. All you get is black and white words of unknown. But a Christie's auction opened my eyes and a fabulous professor showed there was a lot more. I love how artists try to show the essence of the painting with calligraphy and landscapes, and embed depth of philosophies and unrestrained freedom. Integrate romanticism and practicality in bamboo groves or words. Ah, so much depth. And words cannot express.
Joan Miro is what I love about modern art. I think modern art is a lot about discovery and reexamination of traditional ideas. We can't do portraiture and act as cameras anymore. That said, Miro struck me because of possibilities.
Each dot is an organic matter. A force to evolve and move and be. A possibility. A contradiction of certainty and uncertainty. It bursts of life and tells you to move forward. He even tries to explore poetry and words together. (And back then, I was in a class on word and image).
While I didn't envision English major to be fully about English literature, at the very end, 4 years of ninja training in writing centre with English and art history courses were what I needed as me. To be. To feel. To think. To live.
Still in a dragon pavilion
simple majesty, longing for companionship
I drank, a light red wine
dance in this serene fantasy
Monday, Sept. 19, 2022 @ 9:16 p.m.
Feels overwhelming and a burden lifted with so much freedom for the creativity to come. How many years have it been whaled up in a society's perception and hidden at night, circumventing rules?
I don't call myself a writer, I call myself an artist because I mix art and art theory in words. Somehow, my style is always beauty and meaningful littered with symbolism. I like to think I can enrapture whatever essences I can pen with. It would be nice to drink in the woods, wishing our leaders all the best and be. The journey is often alone as I discover musicians and commercial artists do have a different route. I wonder what would be to have a conversation with Li Bai, or Cao Xuequin, William Shakespeare and Liu Rushi about words and art.
My solitude and loneliness are also complicated by my upbringing and choice. There are many Chinese kids who forgot their culture and language after immigrating or going to an English medium school, but I made an effort and choice to pursuit these works. I am grateful for that led me to understand and unearth valuable philosophies and rich works, and understand a bit of Dream of Red Mansion and yuanxia like Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation. However, I also invest in learning Dutch art and love Shakespearean works and Tudor history with British schools. British medicine and church reformation have been intriguing. As such, a Chinese would never call me Chinese, and British would never call me British. I feel most at home in museums when it is me and works of arts basking in each other, or airports with travellers in time capsules, travelling to new places or familiar places.
As I learn eventually, my poet is more unrestrained than I thought. She is quite bold in her words, but loves her beauty and meaning. Dreams of romantic ideals like dancing in the woods, yet gives and maintain this loose ended poetic group with a dream to die finding the moon. (just like Li Bai)
Ah, sweet realizations. Sweetened dreams burst in moringa revelations. Saccharine chimera-realities.
Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022 @ 12:30 p.m.
2 years on and off my affair has been found out.
I am relieved. If you ask me 4 years ago, I would see affair as a death knell. I didn't know I would succumb to it. Now, I see it as a grey area.
Diaryland is the best place for me to air my story because I don't want to tell a village, but I will vent again and again and again with new discoveries and different emotions and findings everyday. 30-day journal seem like a good thing.
Affair partner and I first knew and talked to each other in November 2019. It was devastating because current husband broke off with me due to family. I had a lot of hope before that we would get married and have our lives and shattered. I felt I needed a rebound to live.
I did have a rebound. It ended in February 2020 as current husband wanted to be back again. I was hasty as affair partner was still there. There was a connection with high school and do good ideals, and love/hate relationship of business. (It moves the world around but if I have it, I would love to have an ideal coexistence of social enterprises, mom and pop shops and businesses).
Current husband would disagree, but I had this on and off, I saw it as a 3D version of a tumblr tale where I read smut for romance games. Except it responses. I met affair partner in Montreal, had dim sum and left Montreal for an otherwise happy trip for things. I enjoyed discovering new cafes and paddle boarding.
Life went on. I got married to current husband in May 2021. There were texts but I spent around at most an hour and at least 15 minutes. We had sexual conversations before I married and I saw this as a bachelorette party "going to the strip club" idea. I answered sexual questions after marriage because argh, I wanted more pleasure. I was greedy.
At around 2017, after current husband decided to be with me after a horrible break up in 2015 and told me of depression. I was lost. I relocated to Canada, discovered I had anxiety and was coping with it. Because I do not know how to deal with depression, I believed to just agree whatever husband says. I was somewhat happy. It was difficult to get him outside the house. Eventually it conditioned me to think agree with husband. If you do not agree, you are depriving him (only in sex) and just move with the momentum.
I also have a very difficult time saying no to big decisions in life. Just ask upwork and most of the time I would say yes for gigs. I think I am very slowly working on the fact that saying no in my family leads to drastic consequences. I don't want to be barred from the doors, endure silent treatment and have 4 other people lecture along the way.
Being a creative (not oddball) is something I grasp with. I try rotating it for 20 years with a day/night life and that part of me has a lot of experience in creating fantasy, little experience in living in reality. If I walk on a street, I would be conscious of looks from other people, be hypersensitive in scenery despite having no inspiration. I don't think I have tried to fully integrate it back. It has been progress of integrating it from 2 selves to one.
Let's continue on, so with such dynamic, it went on. Whatsapp conversations continue. Since there were issues such as changing jobs, mental illnesses and dealing with new family members, I would sometimes turn to the affair partner and see texts, feel validated and bring the energy to the marriage. I would say I am suck deep into a fantasy land, but the goal is really because I love my current husband. I want to bring the deficiency into the marriage and fulfill what cannot be fulfill in my opinion, for example, more validation for myself, feeling safe as the creative (but uninspired side).
Why would I not break it to current husband? I know it hurts, but I was living in a fantasy. It is the same fears of abandonment that struck me I believe. Along with shame and guilt and sadness. I thought I enforced some boundaries when keeping it on and off, and not being engrossed in it, but I failed.
My grieving over the affair partner surprisingly ended quickly when it was discovered. I was relieved. I felt vulnerable that my whole self is exposed to this freedom and limbo, but finally I can move on before trapped in this fantasy land forever.
It made me realize that human behaviors are so grey and of course there is an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and sadness and guilt and shame. I will see what it will transform into. I am happy that my parents and God loves me by what I am and not what I do.
I can say I overwork because of my fear of losing things.
I can say I condition myself to not agree or not say no to major decisions because of past experiences that I have not yet healed from.
I can say I didn't challenge partner and have conversations because I wonder if I do, it will rock the momentum.
That led to transgression and then well, you know it.
I will continue to write as I ran out of writing materials.
Somethings that I want to do regardless:
-Paint on Krita and dive into the painting trajectory
-Read Jin Rong's books
-Become more in tune with myself
-Have a safe space. Ugh, allpoetry has been...lacklustre and not complete for a long time.
-Bask in nature.
-Play 1000 pieces puzzle.
-Taste good coffee around the world.
-Have quality friends.
I will expand the list tomorrow.
Friday, Aug. 26, 2022 @ 5:34 p.m.
For the past year, I have shifted more to music than writing. However, I believe both mediums feed off each other.
Musical adaptations are quicker to compose (since someone already composed the original) and introduced me to Japanese anime and modern take of Chinese music. I am happy that besides classical music, I can play a wider range of repertoire and take flute beyond the western realm.
Writing takes time. It is not as fast as a song turnaround because inspiration needs to be soaked and at times researched. I am rewriting my take on Jia Tanchuan from Dream of Red Mansion and would love to write about the cityscapes. It takes time and thoughts, but I will definitely be proud of the end results. I look forward to penning on the multi cultural city of Chang'an in Tang Dynasty where trades and cultures converge, or the bustling night markets of Song Dynasty (bc when there's enough shoppers, let's make it a 24-hour bustling night market!)
My creative pursuits are really the forces that keep me going as I deal with fibroids and treatment. I am happy symptoms and results match up, but nervous about treatment (will this involve surgery bc there's a pretty big thing inside me?)
But I know my haven is in creativity with boundless imagination and meaning and art, and it will evolve and await me no matter what.
Wednesday, Jun. 29, 2022 @ 5:04 p.m.
It is summer. The time of year when anxiety attacks return.
My mind and I know we are breaking the cycle by finally relaxing and slowing down my schedule (after all, workload is less in summer, there is a day off), but we are amateurs in this journey of relaxation.
After three years of major events and one project after another, I suppose I have been conditioned to be on the go everyday, and when I am not doing something, I thought I am not productive and self blame kicks in.
But we are work to live, not live to work right? So why not develop a sustainable routine where I don't burnout and take things slow? I thought.
If ancient poets have the wisdom to drink and chatter before they write, then I should too indulge in this much needed siesta.
But adrenaline flows and so does reflux, but with time, it will be another milestone.
Friday, Apr. 29, 2022 @ 10:09 p.m.
Juxtaposition and cacophony are among the few literary terms I learned in A-Level English classes, but juxtaposition is also how I describe myself in personality and belonging.
INFJs are walking contradictions - I seem aloof with my introversion and logical decision as I analyze transactions or remind enough people to do their tasks, but there are many tears behind doors as I question how to better the world with accountable and sustainable nonprofits and defy cultural expectations in prose or music.
I do not why I complicate myself culturally even further. English literature and Chinese characters are established from different rules, so do their local terrains and religions. However, I gave in when husband from desert lands woo me with rhetoric and physically resourceful abilities. Now I speak and learn fragmented words based on Arabic, am tangled in a forever debate on Israel and Palestine and occasionally get caught in spices. Maybe, I do that so I can wear a 4 lb dress of gold, adorned with bracelets and jewels worth thousands in a walima.
My thought process is clearly laid and visually represented in an organized mess, and my nails will always be bitten despite repeated attempts to look beautiful with moisturizers and nail polish.
All these for a difficult ambition to a leisurely recluse in a place where juxtaposing characters exist.
I can't unburden myself by giving up hobbies or not caring about the world, my brain does not fully embrace the concept of rest, and men's rules do not allow me to achieve this leisurely rich status without some currency, so for now, let me be a juxtaposing word, rich in adjectives and trying to steer away from a melody of cacophony.
Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2022 @ 4:45 p.m.
Since I am down with the cold and experiencing whatever sensations that a cocktail of cold/flu medicine brings me, I may as well write something about Pakistan.
Pakistan has a sweet spot in my heart. Despite the blazing heat and the crossover between night markets and high-rise malls, it is a land of dessert in the midst of the modernization. While I stayed in a well to do area close to hospitals and schools, it reminded me of old times in perhaps 1960s-1970s Hong Kong that my parents described.
Karachi is a bustling metropolis, of street vendors and shops, of emerging high rise condos and constant flow of traffic. As I observed and asked questions, it is like a city and culture in transition, with traditional and modern ideas coexisting with each other. On one hand, young people (men and women) are encouraged to pursue higher education, with some women pursuing work after graduation/marriage, but on the other hand, people also married young (I definitely marry late in their standards), and that may have led people to become full time housewives, or choose more lucrative careers to care for their family.
I wonder how it is in its olden days in Mughal Empire or Maratha Empire, with its courts and trades. Since I learned history mostly through art and leisure reading, while the Qu'ran is widely accessible and Islamic culture is ingrained with its local practices, I always felt I am missing a part of the picture before I piece its history together as a foreigner. As the foreigner, I am grateful for the people's warm hospitality, and it gave me a unique position to ask and ponder questions, but it also invited curious stares from pedestrians who may rarely encounter a foreigner.
With time, I hope I can write a better narrative than this fragmented one conjured by adjectives and short descriptions. But until then, Karachi reminds to be a metropolis in a desert in my mind.
Art & Words
Monday, Feb. 07, 2022 @ 9:27 p.m.
With this year's unexpected snowstorm and fluctuating temperatures between the frozen snows outside and heated underground tunnels inside, I have succumbed to a cold.
But is because of this rest, did I get to stop and reevaluate my creative works.
Thanks to the pandemic, I learned how to compose flute adaptations to anime OSTs, game soundtracks from Chinese & Japanese developers, and Chinese classical music I am happy that besides Debussy and Mozart, I can also confidently play soundtracks and songs from Genshin Impact, Obey Me, Jay Chou and Marblue. I hope to continue expanding my repertoire as I prepare for my music theory and practical exams.
After spending several years writing about scents and flowers (my personal favourites are satsuma and rose), I started writing about historical figures and weaving Asian landscapes/philosophy in poetry. Sometimes, my inspirations are lesser known historical figures in the Western World, such as Yuan Tiangeng and Li Chunfeng or Chinese proverbs, and other times, I fuse Eastern and Western musical influences to string words into poems. So far, I enjoy this process of 'translanguaging', where I read and research into Chinese sources and novels, and introduce readers to East Asian culture and history in English poetry and stories. (On a non-creative front, I also translate Chinese & English texts so maybe that counts?)
While I am proud of all my works, I am most proud of my short stories. I felt I grew my craft as by writing about Chinese women who were infamous (because they were highly educated courtesans who challenged gender stereotypes of Confucian values?), shared my heritage with my grandparents' stories and experiences in pre and post-war China, and introduced readers to the complex world of Dream of Red Chamber (or corrupted rich families) through characters' points of views.
When I looked at various authors' journey to publishing, I found that many of them attended writer's workshops or had formal training in creative writing. I am sure that these workshops and courses provide a deep understanding in the craft of creative writing, but I always feel I am both an artist and a writer when it comes to my creative process.
My creative process is never methodological. Like art, it always evolves and grows in the infinite realm of creativity. Sometimes I write a poem spontaneously , and sometimes I perfect a melody through days of practice.
However, because my creative medium is words, I also take time to choose and refine my words in poetry and prose, and find inspiration in novels and non-fiction books. When I write about an East Asian individual or concept, I ensure that it is easy to read, but also beautiful and meaningful in diction and style.
When I was younger, I only play my games with words. Now, I talk to both art and words. Perhaps this is why I will always be both the wild artist/writer who writes about different cultures and histories spontaneously, but also the meticulous conservator of words who tries to restore my artistic mediums with beauty and meaning.
I have vented long enough, it is time to rest and think about new works...
Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 @ 12:11 p.m.
Have to let a bit of my brain energy out, if not it will be whirl in my mind and give me an acidic dose of reflux or haunting sleeps
As my mind wandered on the bus from Quebec to Montreal, I saw that my mind always notices the finer details in some unknown architecture, and find solace in sturdy structures that are not beautiful, but will weather the storms and snow that flood the city. (so much so I now have to reexamine my possibly worn out winter gear)
When I am in hostels, people often ask if I am an East Asian ethnicity. While I am knowledgeable in Chinese history, literature and some politics, local Hong Kongers will never deem me a local, I barely know Canadian history and British will never really call me one of their own either. Such versatility and adaptability are the gifts of third culture children, and their burdens.
My life has always been about venturing outside the box and viewing the world as a watcher. My love of art and words are constant and globalized, but they are infinite and can evolve. To unearth it, it has to go back to my unorthodox upbringing.
I was born in Vancouver and raised in Hong Kong since I was 1. Perhaps because of their North American influences, instead of watching TV shows, my parents always brought us to bookstores and museums. My mother would point to me, character by character, the abbreviated illustrations of the four Chinese classics. My brothers gravitated towards commerce and sciences, but I dove into art museums long ago.
I am not sure about how kids are now, but having like minded elementary classmates and teachers who also quiz about English and Chinese literature solidified my dedication to this quest for aesthetics.
I used to adore Italian Renaissance art with its vibrant colours and texture, and life size murals. It will take some time for me to go full circle.
British school matured this love into a craft. The eventual journey to understand English literature in an analytical lens, and dedicated teachers who guided me to the basics of Chinese literature and translation paved the artistic way. Complimented with European history, orchestra practices, British and Asian geography (shopping geography was the best) and a much loved ESL teacher who helped us break down these complex concepts, I was able to survive and know the predominant European culture. Thankfully, a lot of classmates are also third culture kids with expat parents so all of us are in it together.
But my brushstrokes remained blunt and wordy. I experimented with poetic styles, took classes and debated left and right with former writing partners. Yet, this path is to be forged and refined in time.
Sugaring with fancy words won't do.
Because my path of aesthetics is not about delicate superficial beauty, or contemporary fancies, but rather, meaning and beauty brewed in capsules of time.
Art history and Shakespearean English in university did exactly that. After years of European art, seeing how Chinese art expresses essence in deliberate brushstrokes in calligraphy, and innovate in art forms of shadow puppets and lanterns were revelations. It is time to reclaim the Asian part of me.
Hanging scrolls and calligraphy can be fragile and ink can wander, but no avail, there is architecture in grounded Romanesque, individualized Gothic, enlightened Renaissance and experimental modern styles to keep me in place. Kick in studies of medicine in Shakespearean and Marlow's works, and a practical writing and rhetoric program prepped for the real world and I am almost done.
I will skip the adulthood reflections before it becomes a long winded story. However, Montessori tenets of peace education and learning through materials, returning to HK to teach and my accidental start in freelance side gigs were all useful. I am not alone in this world that likes labels, and rushes for the creative product than the process.
When I am in Quebec City, I was in awe of beautiful structures in Citadel, Notre Dame church and Ursuline Monastery. Sturdy, timeless, delicate.Yet a cup of wintermelon bubble tea from Enchanthe also soothes the mind and unpacks thoughts. And of course, my South Asian husband and travelling companion whose craft shines in the plethora of his intentional, yet experimental photos and videos, and whose navigation and kindness shine through this trip from less noticed to large acts.
I expanded my craft into music, comics (my fun art form that requires little thought) and prose/poetry. I trans-culture more as I hope to fuse and bridge gaps between Chinese and European art, sometimes with music melodies. It will undergo another cleanup when I understand more of Pakistani and Islamic history and arts. But the path to beauty and meaning is constant, yet evolving.
Or as my grandmother's story goes, we are simply ones following her quest.
During the Japanese war, the Japanese would ransack houses and bomb ruthlessly. Children would be killed, and if you look pretty as a woman, you, would be raped and then join the massacre, then to be wrapped as dumplings to be eaten.
Every day, I would put on charcoal. One day, the Japanese asked if there were anyone was in the house and I replied no. A few days later, I left.
Grandmother walked from Guangzhou to Hong Kong and Macao.
After hearing repeated versions of this story, my father pursued social sciences to understand relations of Pearl River Delta. He and I discussed about history at times, but his interests lie more in 20th century. We still have a subtle art debate about whether Italian or Dutch art is better. (I am on Dutch side, riddle are irreplaceable).
By the time this story is passed down to me, after reading history and failing historiography, I focused and fought my uphill battle to be and embrace as an artist. My canvas is poetry, prose and flute. Because I am culturally Chinese and British, ethnically Chinese, with Canadian nationality and have rare access to Pakistani culture through my husband, I am relishing my time in this unique spot.
And now, back to decomposing my thoughts and bickering with some letters!
Friday, Dec. 24, 2021 @ 10:49 a.m.
Since my brain is super active and will brainstorm ideas overtime, good to jot down these ideas and refine so I can rest and embrace the reflections that streetscapes can bring:
Storywrite & Allpoetry.com
- Edit Rose
- Write piece on Jia Xichun (a scope of the demise)
- Write piece on Li Wan (small characters are interesting)
- Or maybe I will write about Lin Daiyu
I really got inspired by Marblue's music, may trickle to Allpoetry.
- Gradually read through grade 2 and 3
- Take grade 3 exam
- How to play Genshin Impact Music for Keqing, Childe, Ganyu, Albedo and Xiao for now. Refine Zhongli. Maybe do a concert because Obey Me + Genshin is a lot of work.
Try a reformer class
- Understand finance system
- Understand so can create query for uploading marks and avoid errors
- Dig it and implement agile process for self, probably a 1-person scrum run and kanban for everyone else
- Play with LMS
- Continue with certificate program
- Web accessibility is fun
Probably need to hire a VA for myself
Walk on street, lay on mat, enjoy game and contemplate
Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 @ 9:54 p.m.
I re-read Cao Xueqin's Dream of Red Mansion lately. While I am not able to fully understand and savour the rich symbolism of the novel and often find the study guide more appealing than the book, it's a goal achieved.
While this year's reading challenge focuses more on foreign literature, I also want to try reading a Chinese novel each year so to not miss out good fantasy novels and classics that are all "rule breakers" and banned books.
Sometimes, my life of breaking rules gets lonely. But I am not the startup guy who can be comfy with so much risk, I break and refine structures/thoughts to innovate, but need a blueprint. Or...I was thrust into it, but the long term impact was good.
Being a creative with a family of non creative people was the start of it. I create and preserve a space for myself while exploring creativity forms. There were a lot of misunderstandings and tears, but free museum exhibition and blood do hold us together. As my mother says, I inherit the best of her admin abilities. But I digress that I am an artist who learn to survive and refine practicality with agile thinking by day, and still need my dose of art at night.
I just treat poetry and prose as month-long art work, and add a flair to corporate communications. A surprise is that I also get to do some instructional and elearning design which are my cups of tea.
It's the same with faith and cultural experiences. This fight can get lonely. This journey can be tiring. But it upcycles.
It reminded me of Jia Tanchun and Lin Daiyu from Dream of Red Mansion. Jia Tanchun established well to be equal to sisters who were born of noble birth with her words and had the intelligence, and ended up marrying far (because the book was meant to be a tragedy about confines of tradition). Lin Daiyu was a free, sensitive and intelligent poet ahead of her times, but her fragile health and traditions led to an early death.
This journey has its ebbs and flows, but to think that it satisfies my active brain and the impact it will be, I am ok with it.
Silk and Pen
Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021 @ 11:43 p.m.
When I get compliments about my more youthful appearance, I credit it to natural products. However, I can't deny my art history education may have influenced this aesthete tendency across music and poetry into my appearances.
Or I just don't want more chemicals.
I read my poetry and music from the past 10 years and as scattered as the themes can be, it is a lifelong experimentation and conservation that shows how my self evolves. From the teenager who observes society and sees literature as a haven/relief, to aspiring aesthete who finally accepts my multicultural upbringing and make it art.
Poetry takes more time though. Maybe because I got diverted with flute, or it just takes time for inspiration to churn and brew. Or I expand into different mediums.
Accepting myself takes time with my life experience, but the tender sensitivity and calm confidence certainly shine as this journey ventures.
Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021 @ 5:27 p.m.
Since 2002, I probably create this diaryland thing to vent and discover myself. Overtime, I feel a bit comfortable divulging my real self now.
As the artist/writer/musician and sensitive person in a household of non-creatives, I realize I can't not cry and not stay in tune or feel emotions. Thanks to poetry, I protect my real self and thought I would follow rules to split the two selves because adult figures and society tell me that creativity cannot make money (but I can study art history), so it split into the rational and creativity selves.
It was great for a while, but I wanted to integrate them into one. The creativity doesn't always have inspiration, but brews like wine and got sick of being displaced at night.
To be creative is to be misunderstood. To be creative is to think out of the box and in my case, enjoy the freedom. It's getting better to accept and love this real self, and I get to do my 1.5 jobs and create a poetry haven, expand into music and wander in art.
I am excited and nervous for jobs and in the future, motherhood. Maybe I get to raise another creative so we can paint flowers with brushstrokes of words or compose wuxia music, or maybe I have someone more like the dad (the dad is still creative though), But to continue to heal and free are what I savor now.
Silk and Canva
Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021 @ 9:49 p.m.
My real self is a never ending silk that wraps and protects, usually white but with a canva as a package. To create across times and depths, to heal and protect this sensitive soul in the journey of art, word and music making. It is always calming and when I describe to counsellor, she told me it was calm and confident.
To integrate my school/work self with real self is an upward journey. Adult figures told teenage me that creativity should be a hobby and brushed off my entertaining thoughts of being a sports writer, but directed to something practical in law or marketing. Until I found linguistics in university more of a science than art, and fell in love with art history courses at first sight. The memories of writing A Protest to Banning of Bookstores met with comments to study harder. Creativity to them, was a fleeting long term passion, never a reality.
To protect this self from losing, I split into two selves. The school/work self that meets or exceeds what is expected, and the real self that appears at night to relish inspirational lights or once in a while, dab onto pen and paper. Eventually they became one self, but this shifting game goes on for I don't know how real self will fare in world of boxes and expectations.
I learn how me and others perceive my work is varied, and not many can peel into the core of this deep, insightful, vulnerable soul. But to resolve the root of insecurity and anxiety disorder is to shed all these tears that were held, to travel across time to hug the young me who don't understand the shackles of this world, and now, to integrate real self with its energy.
People often say I am self aware, but maybe because multi cultural and multi faith upbringing means I have to define, and define what I am. And after too many times of being told not to cry and failing to do so, I delve and find the real self.
They say to be creative is to be misunderstood, to feel differently and it is true, but it is also to free the shackles that bound everyone in their boxes and heal with a splash of words.
Time to wrap myself in soft silk and dissolve in every emotion.
Friday, Sept. 03, 2021 @ 2:31 p.m.
The cure to anxiety disorder to embrace it and slow down.
My lifelong quest in life is to understand I am always, always the rule breaker that shatters conventions of different realms so I can heal, and to express/support through creativity in words or music or art. Perhaps, this is the cultivation of years of literary indulgence, or perhaps, like the adventurous dragon I am, I cultivate into a silent keeper of stories.
I get frustrated when I see others promoted before me and sometimes sigh when I teach/connect others with different cultures/faith/mental illnesses so they understand. Yet it is also time to self-soothe and self-parent, because who knows how many times my words/forms have been shut down by a society's conventions.
Looking back, I am never one who fame adores or successfully captures the power. I am a third culture kid who embrace 3 cultures, had my faith shift and catapulted into a progressive Christian wilderness (while being married to a Muslim), dissolved most my tears into words and formed some underground poetry and music community group while dabbling in gig work and microfinance.
Being on the fringes is not easy, but so isn't the shackles of convention because someone got to explore something new. For me, the remedy is to slow and meditate and trust that God will be there with pilates as a weapon to calm and wind.
And let sakura petals to sprinkle love and reflections in this solitary pavilion, where knowledge and art remind me hard-won understandings of red lotus, and look forward to the day to write poetry and dance with a sip of wine.
Read My Heart
Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021 @ 5:15 p.m.
Slightly better now but took home with another cocktail of medicine.
Not that I will slurp them as if a pleasurable drink of evasion, after enough first and second hand experiences, addiction will only write your death.
After an anxiety attack, I once had a list of accomplishments and saw that it never fit into the conventional society's criteria. Really, it has been an uphill battle since birth. No wonder I want to retreat/retire so I can spend all the time healing scars.
My personal achievements were dates of books published, being able to compose flute melodies for Chinese/Japanese music, embracing my diverse identity (probably belong in the airport), defying rules to become the interracial and interfaith few and still swimming after too many injuries
What I liked most career wise was establishing my freelance realm. I have main jobs but to start this with 0 knowledge of freelancing and payment systems, and broach out to various industries. That, and somehow cultivating 9000+ people on Allpoetry fb group (not a paid thing). Even though writing partner disappeared years ago, I still felt like I am extending the gesture that he did when he became a reader and partner.
After 30+ years of this, the calling of words and flute are increasingly coming, so much I bleed back into Euclidean Square to time travel and heal these issues, so I will see how it is with the pursuit of remote work and healing.
Thursday, Aug. 05, 2021 @ 11:56 a.m.
After a 6-week run of anxiety attack and panic attacks, I am a shell of myself, still recovering and recuperating.
It is work-related, but I understand why I have turned from confident to fearful. From creative/curious to waking up with fast heartbeats and clinging onto meds.
Words carry a lot of power. Constant intimidation and (stress/anxiety errors) will wreck anyone long term. It is to the point I was watching every episode of Netflix's Skin Decisions and somewhat relate to one another.
I too have scars on my back and uses peels to eliminate it so I can have a second chance wearing tank tops. My skin has become porcelain and is so easily wrecked with a scratch or a cut. However, at this moment, my mental scars are much larger than my physical ones, as we embark on the battle to calm and restore one another. It's like the pomade and peels and gels I put on my skin are fading and you see my scars, and here I am, too vulnerable after too many botched makeup attempts.
It will take an unknown amount of time but I am thankful for my safe haven in freelancing. It reminded me what I like and the love-hate ride I have with clients.
Sunday, Jul. 25, 2021 @ 4:22 p.m.
When I post poetry now, I think about flow and the quality of words - it is very different from how I first started, but this is what happens when I have expectations beyond satin stanzas and a perfume diffusing into layers of the world
Obey Me soundtracks have provided tremendous inspiration. After 4 otome games, I understand how tsunderes and yanderes appeal to me due to insecurity and scars of being me (defying society expectations all the time since birth). I do admire the overprotective warlords/sect leaders/demons in the game who intrigued me with their vulnerabilities, or tsunderes who covered up the same scars in another way.
Appropriately, my porcelain skin meant that a scratch becomes a wound or mark easily and years of doing is similar to a physical representation of the journey of transformation. I don't think that life is hard is an appropriate description, even though it took me a lifelong journey and a bombing to say this, but rather a cyclical quest to attain wisdom. I develop anxiety out of this, but it lead me to be more compassionate.
My keys dries and expires on words because I love to explore and seduce on canvas like a pomade that enchants and stings, while I smoke a kiseru to feel and watch, though that is an eternal craving to sip on.
In carpe diem, let me shower with allegros and fortes and string a broken concerto to bring something to life.
Monday, Jul. 19, 2021 @ 10:00 p.m.
The fog beyond the anxiety haunt at its different intervals, and despite reading whilst playing puzzles and mobile games, I am slowly drifting away from society.
My high school friends are surprised at my next long-term goal to retire, maybe because they have their slew of goals to retire and the mounting list of bills to pay. Most of them are surprised by my long-term thinking or ambition.
But psychotherapists and friends can only do so much when it is clear that I am in too deep of a path of society's expectations. I realize inspiration comes and goes and gets divergent on too many topics (marketing, history, finance and art etc) and whilst writing poetry and blogs don't result in tears, my soul is as scarred as the impatient scars on my back. Unlike my back that can be healed gradually by paying money for green peel (yet breed its scars because I am a battle at night), my soul will take its sweet, indefinite time to heal.
My birthplace has its mountain of taxes (and benefits), and where I was raised is brewing with political turmoils, so Europe it is - in its moderate climate and crossover of cultures where I belong.
There are tinges for the occasional temptation of fame and the lust for money will not end as I await and create this arcadia.
Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2021 @ 3:40 p.m.
Mental note to self:
June/July is my traumaversary because it was where errors (major/minor) and big stuff - hiring/firing/relationships happened.
You will need to take higher dose of celexa.
You will also be prone for more errors.
Monday, Apr. 12, 2021 @ 1:45 p.m.
I remember young me wanted to make a living as a writer and poet, and I would soak up various forms of literature and art from various English speaking countries, hoping to borrow words from famous authors.
Then I got razzle dazzled into art and teaching.
I did achieve that writer dream many years later, but they are nothing exciting and can be mundane as I type and translate words on my laptop.
My translations are mostly financial (bank statements, remittance slips), health (patient leaflets, hospital receipts, instructions) and other oddities (leases, property announcements that someone got Covid-19). On the odd day I get to translate good Chinese literature my heart will skip a beat and secretly laugh that my ancient Chinese is put into use.
My writing ends up being 50% graphic design (on Canva) and 50% writing. They are mostly worksheets and now finally an ebook about making remote learning work. I probably become pickier on graphics and have a format for worksheet design, but again, nothing where I can make readers flow on satin stanzas or sneak in a Shakespeare line, but very concise and clear writing.
Or maybe, those times I make suggestions to new hire about word choices in email. (Because I know how troublesome it is to decipher wordy replies, and how I have to find a way to talk to international learners.)
I used to resist marketing and PR, but now I will take up on copywriting and editing, and go into data of marketing. I suppose, this writer dream is partially achieved?
Dummy's Guide to Investing
Tuesday, Mar. 09, 2021 @ 2:04 p.m.
*This is only based on investing in Canada. I will update when I finally retrieve my HK bank account so I can invest in HK Stock Exchange.
Back in the day, my mother told me that side jobs were great ways to earn extra money. However, once you take on too many side jobs, you realize that there is not enough time in the world to earn money.
Since I do not have enough funds to invest in property, investing in ETFS/index funds are affordable ways to invest in companies and earn dividends. I will share how I transition from investing in index-funds to stockbroker, and now building my own socially responsible portfolio and US funds portofilo as someone with little finance background.
I started off investing with Tangerine's investment funds after researching into Couch Potato style investing. At that time, I have less than $10,000 of funds to invest, dont' want to check share prices every day and have no idea how to rebalance my portfolios. Despite paying a higher % of management expense ratio (MER), Tangerine does the rebalancing for me and I can select risk levels while sitting back and doing other things.
In case investments go awry, I also invested in a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) with Home Trust so I know that after 1 year, I will at least earn 2% interest from GIC. One year later, Tangerine funds yield 5% so I opt not to renew my GIC, but I also want more than 5% returns.
I had a short stine with wealthsimple's robo-advisor and am still not a fan of robo investing after losing a few hundred dollars. Wealthsimple was in its early days and I don't like that I don't have a personalized experience and that it is not one size fits all. I transferred my funds to a stock broker who yields around 8-10% returns over 2-3 years period. Stock broker was communicative and was helpful when I opted to transfer all my company retirement savings funds (I had to stick with bank that company chose, and RRSP plans that bank provided, which earned $5 in 2 years 0_0) into investing account when I changed jobs, with admin fees waived.
My stock broker has since then focus on his business as an alternative lender, which prompted me to explore other investment options. Because of SO's referral bonus, this led me back to wealthsimple, but this time I opened a trading account where I can buy shares from companies instead of forced into an investment portfolio.
Wealthsimple has since then developed a socially responsible portfolio which I liked (they also have halal investing, but I am not interested in that one). As such, I put a nominal amount of money into that SRI portfolio, but also build my investments around socially responsible companies in my trades.
Now that I earn more $$$ in US dollars, I will also open another Questrade account so I can buy shares on NASDAQ and NYSE. We shall see how that progresses, but profit of $20 a day is not too bad for now.
Thursday, Jan. 07, 2021 @ 4:53 p.m.
2021 is another year without New Year resolutions, because time is a different trajectory in the world of creativity.
I thrive on Kanban approach to be productive so I can spend time to fill my endless curiosity with knowledge. After 10+ years in education industry, what keeps me in this field is the possibility to innovate and translate knowledge. (My favourite online learning remains to be Tim Horton's, but knowledge check continues to be another story)
Other ambitions include being a full member of FC Barcelona and fulfilling my dreams to retire in Malaga/Sevilla in earlier than anticipated time, maybe publish a book etc
Why Barca? Manchester United always have a special place in my heart as my childhood club and introduction to football. 7 years of fast-paced and entertaining English football was a dream to my younger years as an example of how ambitions and goals can be fulfilled. But now I relish the slower pace of Spanish football, with a heavier focus on ball control. That said, RVN, EVS and a few other players will always be special and it is refreshing to see them as coaches.
Or simply, any clubs with 'Real' indicates patronage from monarchy, and coincidentally, Barca is as diverse as it is in its founding and free of politics. (I still think it can be the only place that will thrive being independent)
Beauty and Aesthetics
Sunday, Dec. 06, 2020 @ 11:01 p.m.
Ah, beauty, aesthetics and probably trade are issues that I write in my undergraduate thesis for art history. That said, I took my dad's advice that one should not pursue PhD unless one is willing to not to anything relevant afterwards in their studies, and become a jack of all trades or master of words.
But I do ponder about beauty and aesthetics. Because high school art program is highly visual, my poetry journey is influenced by my cynical thoughts and exploration on society and influences from English literature I read. Shakespeare, Marlow and various scholars are still impactful, but once I study art history, my idea of beauty and aesthetics are challenged.
I long to write "roughly", have my words trempled in dirt, ridden with war and blood and the ugly, but it is not my style. I tried. My palette evolves into art, infused with art history ideas and the essence to enrapture. Seduce on satin stanzas. Divulge or spit meaning in a word. Once I wrote about how Takashi Murakami and his team of artists challenge "high art" into commercialization and make it accessible, and I admire the work that museums pour into make art accessible, but at my core, my euphoric medium is poetry. When I can spill more words, we have prose. When inspiration needs brewing, I head to my flute and browse at art. Art is infinite. Beauty is subjective.
The society ramblings evolved into relationships with words and music, stampeded through scents and flowers and now I am translanguaging my Chinese and Japanese history into English.
In my carefree artistic nights roaming as a sage, I await a duet with Rajor, as I sip rich wine or tea like poets in Luoyang, and ponder like Cao Zhi who wrote Rhapsody of Goddess Luo.
Except I saw through the fickle desires of the world, and embrace my sensuous ambitions to be a sage/artist in artistic haven, to enrapture with bursting bubbles of beauty and ever changing aesthetics.
Friday, Nov. 27, 2020 @ 11:45 p.m.
Playing Memories in Luoyang and Yearn of East Wind made me inspired, but my body is too tired to write the prose/story I wanted, and poetry in Allpoetry can get repetitive
But I do have goals - to be carefree poet/flutist who can spend days crafting, refining and relishing my arts. Perhaps, drunk with caffeine/cocktails while dancing in the woods and scribbling poems on trees. If ancient poets willed and did it, perhaps it would be an euphoric state of mind too.
Those who don't understand will say this is a hobby and we must have jobs, but those who do will know that this is a lifeblood. When one has seen through the worldly dusts, the aspirations to such euphoric is an indescribable state.
Ah, Memories of Luoyang, how Li Bai and Du Fu bought me into another state..
Thursday, Nov. 05, 2020 @ 12:15 p.m.
There are so many important things to do, to think - USA Elections, HK National Security Law, Covid-19 etc etc
They are important. We should vote, fight for social justice, model positive behavior etc. However, there is also a point when we remind ourselves of our purposes, and relax and let God come in. (Or whatever name you call)
All of the US Election posts remind me of my youth. I always wanted to be on the frontline to fight this injustice, to better this world and make things right. Power was surprisingly not attractive to me. Maybe because when I learn that when I try to argue and show my opinion to family, there are 4 voices that are louder than mine. May as well save my breath than driving myself insane to bicker with 4 more people.
So much that my mother called me "our cute little dragon (other half says it is cute little dragon in a pink tutu -_-, my real dragon title is misled by those two ...)
That said, I always want to right things. I also liked that attention. But being a fighter isn't my purpose, and after seeing the horror of Bangkok protests, Lebanon Civil War and Hong Kong protests, I saw that it is important to try and shape and right the world, but immediate results can be two folded. It can work or fail, now or later. You have to calculate well to make the right decision.
Since I saw that politics isn't my foray and had my attention satisfied with creations of artistry, I retreat into healing and creativity. After all, we are in a mortal world, we are human and politics can be twisted into something, but healing and creativity ...I can save and nurture my self, strut that visionary mind and share haven with others.
That is much more fun to me.
But this realization takes time, I had to understand myself and satisfy my own ambitions and goals first for 5-10 years first before I flick fans and dab in flute and pens like a true literati.
Recently, I came across 20 or so songs specially composed for Bilibili and each represents a piece of Chinese history. I love it so much that I slowly compose my adaptation for flute for ones I like, but the one I love most is about two Taoist masters.
They were each commissioned by the Emperor to produce divinations for the future, and one went berserk to produce the results for next 2000 years, so the other one had to stop him and tell him not to leak all the secrets of heaven!
Reminded me how we all want to rush and get things our way, but have to be reminded to not look at it in a mortal, human and short-term perspective.
I suppose I really should figure out what fans I should flick next time..
Sunday, Nov. 01, 2020 @ 9:01 p.m.
Breaking rules was not what I was taught to do, but breaking out of boxes and tasting freedom are what I have been doing for the past decade. It is painful, it is bittersweet, but definitely worth it.
The bias to judge and intervene is easy. We all have bias. Doers will want to step in. But everyone has their journey and their steps to conquer. I always remember how poetry friend's opposite views lead to endless bicker, but because we are accepting of our differences, we learn. I thrive and become a sage in a poetry euphoria.
Rule-breaking is bittersweet. I take my sweet time exploring churches because I am so tired and scarred from unhealthy communities. I respect those who thrive, it works! But questions and shifts happen, and stuffing more prayers or volunteerism or fear wil make it worse. Then you have to go and do what you can to find yourself and thrive, whether this be work or spiritual or family communities that is not working. Easier said than done though. I have lost friends, left a country, unlearn perfectionism. It is painful, but totally worth it for me. Now onto budgeting $$ better so I can sage my way in life lol!
Then again, third culture kids like us do learn to adapt early. There are friends and fam who tilt towards one culture, I choose to incorporate 4. For me, bringing Chinese & English to novels and poetry is sexy. YouTube channel is a possible casual project bc flute needs more love and diversity than classical music.
Anyhow, that is my journey of rulebreaker since I don't want to disclose anyone elses. 14-year-old me loved vampire novels because Anne Rice made them look special, and wanted to be the hero. But I end up as healer/strategist for very good reasons.
I so look forward to levelling up to sage level and living xianxia life as dragon lady with my love.
Friday, Oct. 30, 2020 @ 2:38 p.m.
I normally don't binge write because inspiration takes time to brew, but when stress takes a toll, unburdening is much needed.
It's always a gift and a burden to have this insight of creativity and feeling, it has taken me to so many worlds that I can reach the depths of it. I probably address myself as artist too, because I think that after studying art history, I no longer write or play flute only in a literature or musical standpoint, but I incorporate my own twist and art into it. Art is also great to draw and explore philosophies and other difficult, harder to probe issues.
My favourite is contemporary Chinese art's satire and Medieval Islamic, Jewish and Europlean books, it reminds me the dual reality that we often wear and how the world is interconnected. That, and 5 years into writing, I realize that my writing style is tilting towards going for aesthetically beautiful and meaningful, tried to be "rough" but it was a total fail :P
Of course, being a blend of cultures and insights have its challenges. The conficts, the very deep emotions, the rule breaking and the crazy fun, but I suppose breaking the glass ceiling is another title to go for before hitting home run?
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020 @ 12:25 p.m.
Oh Diaryland, 12+ years of growing up, venting and whatnot..but I am glad I preserve imprints of my life on remnants of the internet and find my real self in creativity.
I am sure everyone's branch of creativity and art/music/words are different and for me, it is the unexpected inspirations and intense emotions. Those times playing soundtracks for 30 times are something, but beautiful, beautiful work got done.
Growing up as the sole creative person, I encounter parents/society trying to tough us up and see that cycle repeated in students or friends. I tried very hard to tough us because it is the portrait of a success, but at the end, tears still come, emotions still surge, impactful work still gets done, so I think we are just rare people who get to appreciate and create things from another perspective.
The downside is that we do get misunderstood. We have pressures to fit in or adapt. My journey has given me the insight towards dysfunction and codependency. Faith shifting happens (But I will tell you that I am still drawn to God, just not organization where fear or same-sie behavior is enforced, then becomes a cultish mess)
And thanks to that, I guess Allpoetry facebook group becomes an introverted-ish but wonderful group in its way, there are different views, there are those hard discussions, but I get touched everytime I see poetry nurtured and those honest-hard convos turn into something good.
Monday, Oct. 26, 2020 @ 6:26 p.m.
Because retail therapy won't work and no matter how much food or coffee I munch on, I can only offload my overwhelmed state in words or drawn in flute.
I get overwhelmed. I get anxious. I am a high functioning aware child of dysfunctional family, and I get my anxiety from faith shifts and new country, but it really all wounds up at home. Perhaps dysfunctional environments breed empathy or I was born with creativity, but for so many years home and society will tell me to squish this, repress and follow. But at my core lays a wounded inner child who is accepting this overwhelmed vulinerability, somehow becomes an excellent healer and have to spit out whatever she learns.
I get why I get anxious from overachiever and burnout tendacies and craziness. I also try to embrace vulnerability and not open 5 browsers when fearful or anxious.
SO gets what I am. But SO is also similar product of dysfunction. Except there is the internalization process and overdawning fear. And a warp of concern and doubt and shame and then fear and anxiety collide and bam...
Kick into mum's (narc) strong view and double wham....
Then of course my brain overthinks, overwhelms, comes undone and it is time for anxiety button..
I don't think i want to say control, but rather embracing the highs and lows of my volatile emotion and creativity is a better bet. There is light in the end of the tunnel but for now, let me splash this tsunami of words.
Monday, Sept. 21, 2020 @ 11:35 a.m.
Years go by, and I am still the creative who do not have the luxury of spilling art into what I do, with a lot of scars and sadness in between, so venting probably the best option.
I was brought up in a society where status triumphs over life, and I was born into a household where I am the sole creative, over-sensitive soul so misunderstanding is very, very common. Family is filled with museum tours and novels that makes my soul learned and well-read and I finally start playing with essences of words into poetry in high school.
Somehow my high school teacher knows, and I made special friends on poetry community. I am always thankful for creative partner/husband figure who bestow me the gift of agree to disagree in the banters and let me know I am a writer in my own right. Years later, art history, poetry and xianxia tilt me to create a style that reeks of beauty, perhaps meaning and maybe heal you in between. (Tried to write rough, realize I am healer for life and there is no escape towards it)
Years later, I know I don't have the luxury to be in a job of creativity, and have long put status past me. Years later, words preserve myself amidst dysfunction and gave me insight towards abuse/dysfunction generation dynamics so I can point and dabble. I relearn the flute to compliment writer blocks and build chinese xianxia music out of it, but the scars and tears of uphill battle is still here.
I know I have achieved 90% of what I wanted, I know I get the privilege to create safe creative space online, but I will tell you 110% what I crave is the day to become drunken literati in the woods, because the gift of art and third culture are sometimes heavy to carry.
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 @ 9:55 p.m.
10 years ago I graduated from university and was in the process of achievng my teacher dream. I met a prof who took me as her Research Assistant and that experience made me acclimated with crafting papers/emails and being very tech savvy. Being on that gap year, I still like to take credit for editing bro's grade in East Studies Course since I read and edited.
10 years now, I have visited 11 countries (15+ trips without SO), learned golfing, pilates and paddleboarding, transitioned to adult learning after the classroom fun with a 1.5x worklife (freelance empire is something), went to Old Trafford and Camp Nou and fall in love with anime and wuxia because of a certain Pakistani guy.
Oh, and I take back admin duties of Allpoetry fb and make into a 6000+ person group. Got 2 godsons, financed 5+ microfinance loans and sponsored child #1 became better so now have sponsored child #2.
Birthdays were big deals 10 years ago, but with 90% of goals done, life is better spent reinventing xianxia melodies on flute and scheming the next move in secluded sage clothes. (I know change happens, but 16 year old me's plans worked out for 23-ish me..)
Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020 @ 9:32 a.m.
Overtime after I relocated to North America, I have transitioned within the Education industry, established a freelance business and still complain about bills.
But since Covid-19 is making everyone rethink their careers, relocate and lose jobs, here is my pent up thoughts for 5 years.
Get in touch with friends in that country, figure out how resume/CV for that country would be and if you need any licenses, additional qualifications and climate for your industry. Oh, and prepare to work for something unrelated to what you did in your old country before.
I started emailing schools 6 months ago but still got rejected for every Montessori school, but since I had administrative experience, I got a part time job, which led me to a full time job 8 months later in adult learning.
I have edited over 50 resumes and cover letters, and 95% of people only list what they do, but not so much of their accomplishments and results. You can borrow the phrases from that of performance reviews. Phrases like teamwork and hardworking should be eliminated because that is what expected of you, but then again, don't inflate yourself into the likes of "astonshing communication skills."
I do wonder what it is like to have the luxury to explore industries sometimes. Maybe that is because my mum asked everyone what they wanted to do when we were 16 and no was not an acceptable answer, or I still love being in the learning/education field and explore every other gig in the freelance world.
One baseline that still reasonated with me was in a relocation, be prepared to work in a coffee shop. That said, to transition is to look into your network and ask, take courses to upgrade and have that experience necessary.
One day, just one day, I may actually make a resume writing course...
Wednesday, Jul. 29, 2020 @ 10:54 p.m.
Many times I forgot that I already achieved almost all I wanted in life and needed a pat on the back. But if I air it to friends, it will be too much gloating, so it is better to compose a list here:
- Already achieved my childhood ambition to become a teacher and surpassed it by being the Head of the Department
- Started freelancing 5 years ago, still active and working for me by my own terms
- Appeared in career conferences, academic conferences and second language acquisition conferences as a speaker.
- Unexpected, but successfully transitioned out of teaching
As an artist/writer
- Published in over 5 magazines, books, anthropology before the thirties
- Found and had a creative partner/husband figure for 10 years who made me notice my art is worth more than I thought, and probably influenced how I choose partners (love my opposites, refuse to be with anyone who has similar personalities)
- Recovered and healed out of emotional abuse through words
- Have dedicated readers without knowing
- Write poems and prose based on my own timeline after 10+ years, accidentally end up managing a 6K+ poetry community group so others can heal/grow
- Found haven in Chinese xianxia world and fusing cultures, don't think I am going back to conventional poetry now
- Sponsor child outgrown program
- Maintain both cultures from my upbringing, even add a third
- Made peace with faith shift, at times surprise Muslim and Christian friends with knowledge on their histories.
- Pick up the flute - if not writing, likely playing the flute.
This is probably why I can flick my fan and just save enough $$ so I can retire in Spain.
Thursday, Jul. 23, 2020 @ 10:42 p.m.
To remind myself that my mental health and sanity is worth everything, even if it means to defy expectations and detach partially to people that I consider close.
Because after 28 years of understanding and healing myself out of emotional abuse, I can either set my expectations and perceptions so I can liveor to give away the sense of self, independence and mental health for someone else.
I borrowed quite a lot of words from Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, but edited it to reflect the situation. Rough translation as follows:
I have been hiding my feelings, avoiding the masses to follow the rules
All alone in the world, with nowhere to cry
I had gave up my sense of self, but who is swallowing her own tears?
All alone on this path, what is there to envy?
If a sect cannot accept me
why would it matter to give up to return the favours?
now to follow mhy heart, to be this carefree person
Monday, Jul. 20, 2020 @ 3:28 p.m.
3 months after my grandma passed away, I am still grieving.
It is particularly hard to grieve for my grandma because she is a woman of a few words. For my grandmother who has repeatedly told me her experience in Sino-Japanese war, it was much easier to pen a story as a momentum and to pass it.
But for my grandma who would rather act than speak, this process was harder, for there was no inspiration to pen on it. No words to unearth the grieve inside.
There were well-intended friends who said I could write whatever, but to me, writing is an art. If what I wrote were a scramble, it wouldn't be a poem, a story or a prose, it would just be a messy piece of ill-thought out writing. This would not serve as a memento unless I have sufficient inspiration for it. Yet, this inspiration is so few and so nameless.
Perhaps, because I am the only person who had the experience of being raised by my grandparents, I feel a lot more than relatives, siblings and parents. I am sure everyone had their share of grieve, but my grieveis isolated because nobody can experience the gravity of it. Nor can anyone relate to that depth of pain that is always choked inside my lips, but constantly stinging my heart.
Overtime, I may come up with a memento, but until then, I would cut a part of myself in this blog entry.
Monday, Jun. 22, 2020 @ 12:18 p.m.
Ambitions in 2006/2010
- Publish poems
- Get a good job
- Get raises and promotions
- Learn how to invest
Ambitions in 2020
- Have lazy occupation
- So I can devote more time to read xianxia novels, translate them and practice flute-
- Write poems as I please
- Bicker at insurance/financial institutions on how to get the most of pension plans
Yup, ambition continues to go downhill every year now that I achieved everything that younger self wants. I should continue to count down when I can devote full time to wuxia, xianxia and good anime..
Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2020 @ 8:46 a.m.
My inbox is flooded with COVID-19 precautions and store closings but as 2002/2003 entries showed, we were already trained with SARS during our high school years.
Working from home is always a dream come true for me and now I get to taste more of it. I look forward to the day when I am fully remote so I can continue to live the sage dream (A lot of people mention pursuit of happiness to be their goal, I think I have done that with creating and evolving life with poetry/prose)
I look at past life as a teacher. It was something that I wanted at that time, but I never quite fit into the chatter about how Montessori can cure almost everything, and I am just too curious to try out all technologies offered. They probably assign me to special needs for good reasons though, because we can be with each other and grow. (Student reminded that the substitute immediately quashed the continuation of business plan that we work on -_-)
Perhaps that is why the transition to non teaching and adult education role is much smoother for me. As more of my friends want to move into administrative roles or struggle to find work in public school boards, perhaps they may need to just as curious. I was fortunate to explore Zoom and taught online years ago, and learn from a former manager who constantly learns to be a marketing x learning hybrid. But it will take some time to adjust and think that technology is possible and tinker with it.
It seemed that technology and virtual work will continue and expand seemed a rather accurate depiction.
And now, being a drunk sage writing poetry sounds like a very good career option :D
Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 @ 10:25 p.m.
It has been a while since I splash some words on diaryland.
Faith shift version two is not as painful but perhaps it is a larger scope. The first shift was shifting from mainstream Christianity to progressive Christianity, and this time, perhaps because I see how religion and conservative culture can do, I bask among Abrahamic realms. I still attribute to the Abrahamic God but decide I may as well truly understand what each three faiths are about, now that I have this luxury to do it.
After all, Christianity was what my kindergarten taught and godmother lovingly expose me to, Judaism was what almost half of my previous workplace practiced (if not by race) and Islam has always been in my life creatively and personally. This is the luxury and burden to be raised and be across cultures.
I still attempt to balance myself as the creativity calls with her tears, but I felt i am ready to bask in literati and sage ways of life. As always, to love and embrace myself remains my assignment. But a life well lived and well done, remains the goal.
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 @ 4:50 p.m.
Because I made a speech about vulnerability and ended up crying myself (oops, but oh well), I thought I can shred a few words here and there.
Last year was a lot of changes for me. I would like to sum up as transition or overcoming. I understood why I was fired at my last position and was grateful that there was freelance to help me with that one month, but I was able to reflect and figure what I could have done better and why it was not a good fit for both of us. It also made me realize that remote work or partial remote work is a dream for me, hence my continual quests for freelance stuff here and there when I see fit.
I am so grateful to practice my vulnerability when my engagement was broken. I would have hid and pretended to be "fine" in previous times, but it made me be real. If I did not opt for trying again, I felt I was stuffed in something. I am glad that we tried, because even though it did not work out, I had a voice, and it transition well. I never lost the knowledge and understanding I gained from Islamic world, and it reinforces me that I still have to understand these politics better to world in my own ways. Gotta admit that I realize there were issues with self blame and rejection with childhood upbringing. But what I was glad was that it was 5 amazing years of growing and learning, and to have former fiance and current partner agree to meet when I am all ready for a LAN party, that is a gift.
As for current partner, I like to think he is my law of surprise in Witcher. However, there are no deeds involved. But I am ready to talk to therapist on Thursday on rejection and merging my two selves that have chained for so long.
Friday, Jan. 03, 2020 @ 9:47 p.m.
I have heard friends said I am strong, I am not, I just happen to experience a lot. Resilience is a better word.
I wish, faith shift is easier, but it is not. I know I travel across Abrahamic faiths even though former fiance and I had a second shot and it did not work out, but I like the idea in Islam that it accepts all three holy books. With my understanding of Christian-Judeo texts, Quran seems to summarize it all. But I wouldn't call myself a Muslim despite eating halal meat for years, I just have the experience and privilege and wounds across Abrahamic worlds. Or what I cringe and shred were boxes that can be toxic and fearful. I do wonder what will come out of faith shift round 2.
Or the flashbacks, and the photos that I never delete and simply immortalize on Mega. Wiser now, and because of the forced circumstances that sparked, I acknowledge the emotions and be kinder. I don't force to repress or forget, but rather see it as a point where it led up here, and take great lengths to be mindful for self-care and care. Vulnerability is hard to practice, but I enjoy the times I can shred out of it, and the hope to be more myself.
I am grateful I get to build and love and transition with former fiance. I do keep reminding self that my Pakistani knowledge and extended family won't be gone out of this. I am also grateful for current partner who understands the gravity and weight of these happenings and let me be. I can't wait to grow and learn and be with you.
Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 @ 9:29 a.m.
I come into previous relationship as what I thought to be a whole person, but I come out as a healer.
In an alternate reality, we would have been married, but life/God has its flow.
I was given life. We tried for a second time.
I am in a second faith shift. The first time, I tilt to progressive Christianity but the second time, I will tell you I love the social justice of progressive Christianity, but also the idea that God is through Jesus, Moses and Mohammed in Islam. I am so weary of man-made systems of fear, but not to my current partner's ideas that all faiths lead to God. After all, the masjid protect me. [Sorry, I didn't get to have mixed babies, but I truly inherit the stereotypical hot-blooded Pakistani personality.]
I am not strong, simply resilient and wise. I outgrown my mother's expectations and was led to be a rulebreaker, healer and sage by choice. My former partner will be my writer partner for there is so much love, my current partner will understand that creativity that roam and be impactful.
Thursday, Nov. 07, 2019 @ 7:56 p.m.
My heart is heavy because there are uncertainties and traumas.
Throughout my life, I question why I am wired this way - to feel so much and to be so vulnerable, and act resilient while simultaneously hurting.
I do not know why I get so upset whenever there is a disaster striking somewhere in the world. I remember how heart breaking it is to see the Syria war happening, the gang rapes in India and the cases of microfinance gone wrong.
I do not know why I am the only one out of the family or my group of friends crying after we watched Argo, Coco or other movies. I certainly felt a lot more than everyone.
I do not know how or why I was the only one crying and feeling the pain when we paid respects to my late grandfather that I never met. I would have loved to know him.
I do not know how I found words and music and art. It was the only realm that understood and embraced all of me without pretenses, and guide me through to the understanding that creativity is constantly infinite and evolving.
There were many times I wish I did not have this fertile imagination and emotions, for it causes so much pain and speculation, and so much misunderstanding from others.
However, as my mother said, we will continue to encounter the same incidents again and again until we learn, this is perhaps the moment for me to plunge into fissures of uncertainty and be. To bleed into words and relish the frustrated concerto. To breathe into oblivion, and become a sage whilst balancing all this imagination and emotions.
Monday, Oct. 07, 2019 @ 3:00 a.m.
Throughout my 20s, I often encountered (meaningful) silences.
I often blamed myself for not being able to write and press myself to complete my hurdle of wishes and goals, and of course, burned myself out.
Now I understand my craft evolves, and I have to give into patience as inspirations bloom under its own timed journeys.
I reminiscence the 20s when I was passionate about freedom and Middle East politics and war, I missed that hot-blooded young adult who wanted to almost anything and everything to alleviate poverty, stop wars and tear over the world's affairs (but somehow don't want to find a non-profit because there are already so many people doing it already)
But instead, I morphed a corporate self out of everyday life - to learn the logic and wisdom to navigate in a workplace, to educate myself every bit of Islamic and Christianity history so I can understand and do something one day, and now so numbed by protests. I am now a cynic at the game of politics - one who understands the difference between politician's talks and the reality of a city, one who sees that the time is needed for change and not everyone can be myself who is pushed out of the box, but one who now shrugs off politics and protests as if is everyday.
I miss that passion.
Or maybe I have achieved my latest purpose so I need to think of new ones (the last one being creating a poetry community for poets/writers to express their work).
I will transform.
Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019 @ 10:47 a.m.
In the midst of the political chaos, let me quip about Hong Kong in this domain where I won't be face with a backlash. However, I am not sure if I can keep up with my aesthete self and express the complex history behind the protests so eloquently. After all, trans-languaging between Chinese and English is not an easy task.
When Chief Superintendent of State, Charles Elliott negotiated with Qishan during the First Opium Law, Hong Kong and its Harbour was handed over to British control, it was humiliating for the citizens. There were rebellions, but all was worst with the Sino-Japanese invasion before the British restored control. I would not say the British did the best job, but they made Hong Kong taste a glimpse of freedom with the introduction of British law structure, and the rampant building of museums at the end of the British reign.
When Deng Xiaoping spoke of the handover in 1980s, China re-opened to the world after Manchu Qing and Communist eras not long ago, and I like to think his statements implied his hopes that by the time of the handover, China would exceed or be on par with Hong Kong's modernity in terms of laws, trade and perhaps autonomy.
But of course, that did not happen.
China rules its many provinces through control, from censorship of media outlets, to armed conflicts with Uyghurs and Tibetans. And Hong Kong, who tasted democracy with its adaptation of British laws and exposure to international trade and cultures, could not immediately tolerate this style of governance. This led to Hong Kong as a special administrative state.
Because Hong Kong, as a special administrative state, provide much more in terms of education, health and trade, it became a melting pot, with North America/European expats who relocated as per their company or to seek their fortunes in the East, to mainland China and other ethnic minorities in South Asia who migrated in rags in hopes for a better life. Amidst of this disparity, there were mainlanders who assimilated into the Hong Kong way of things, those who saw Hong Kong as a way to wash their money and Hong Kongers who overtime, establish their own culture.
In the beginning of the handover, the Chinese government rewarded Hong Kong with trading and other perks such as protests, but these rewards were revoked, in part because China could outdo Hong Kong with its other cities, and in part, because Hong Kong would not "obey" to the parent with its protests and demands, such as autonomy to elect its chief executive.
Initially, I thought the extradition law protest would only go as bad as the Umbrella Movement in 2014. But having been through Lebanon civil war in 2006, I knew it could go as bad as that level. The cause of the protest was no one's fault, but a large difference in governance and our perspectives.
Protesters need to know that they cannot win, even with violence, because China government operates with an iron fist and democratic or violent protests would only be cracked down. All they would open up to would be some compromise.
Of course, there were horrible police officers who would take this opportunity to assault others who should be brought to justice, but they were also forced to do their jobs with tear gases when protesters stepped up with weapons. As my mother said, right now is the best time to rob in Hong Kong, because the 5000 police officers not only had their reputation tarnished, but were on call everyday to settle protests and disputes all around Hong Kong.
The HK government chose not to do anything and I would say they were the culprit of this fiasco. While we could call them incompetent, not all the officials were, and some were limited by their powers. However, what I am certain was that the Chinese government would certainty punish Hong Kong for this fiasco, and a demise is imminent.
But of course, you could all discredit me as a "true" Hong Konger. After all, I was brought up in a mix of Hong Kong and North American culture at home, went to a British school with extended families in Lebanon and Pakistan. But for now, I could only sorrowfully smile that I made the right choice to seek my aslyum in Canada.
Sunday, Aug. 04, 2019 @ 10:35 a.m.
I wanted to spill seductive words into a canvas but it takes a while to rein in, and what better way than to flex a bit of these words into the blog-sphere as a refresher?
I am grateful that after 15 years, I can retreat in the poetry and look in the world like a grain of sand. To achieve beyond my career ambitions before 30 was a miracle and it leaves me more time to devote into my passion in art and social betterment. Society will say that we should always strive for more status and power, but I have discovered my purpose in art and healing and gladly retreat as a sage.
To survive and understand wars and protests were beyond my imagination, but these events were precisely why I can be resilient and advocate for this sanctuary for writers and sensitive souls. I created/preserved this sacred pavilion for myself when I play my game with words years ago, yet I did not envision that a Facebook group I created also became an inclusive and nurturing space for other writers.
To stumble into wuxia and understand my art comes and go are my blessings in life - it made my art reach a new stage, and let me understand that my sacred space is an organic, vulnerable and compassionate duality that constantly evolves and heals. I cannot wait to see how intercultural texts will flourish with this pen.
Sunday, Jul. 28, 2019 @ 7:32 a.m.
I am vulnerable, and I am always happy that there is this place to vent and retreat.
In fact, I think this is my writer self - vulnerable, emotional, but rather reflective and wise after. I just neglect this space because of work commitments.
In April, it was bad being fired. It was a lot of hurt. In June, I got a part time job at an office and online learning freelance that paid me sufficiently. However, there were no class renewals in August so I will depend on other tutoring and office job. The shortage of a couple hundred dollars made me anxious, vulnerable and fearful. How will things be? How can I pay all the bills? (Actually, I am fine, but I will fret because it breaks me out of my comfort zone).
I know online learning is freelance so I have been looking for other part times. Or perhaps a full time when I know it is time. However, this takes time. I talked to my therapist and we talked about my destructive pattern when dealing with rejections and uncertainty.
As my mother said that when God closes a door, another will open. I believe this is the case. But I am human, I have been toiling many battles where I am vulnerable and had to go on, and I would rather release and be heal before making the next move. Unlike SO that bottles up, I had to release and bleed words, talk to multiple people and breeze it through. Eventually, I will be set on the right path again.
But for now, I will release this melancholia and bleed words, and indulge in the moments where I am retreated into my sanctuary and can spill all these emotions free again.
Friday, Jun. 21, 2019 @ 9:20 a.m.
I have long to pen something but because of new job and various gigs, often times I am sipping tea early at 6am in the mornings, or writing away for another paid project.
The freelance month and cycle of interviews in May was something - I spitted work from medical invoices to powerpoint slides online, and somehow manage the feat of landing 20+ interviews.It reminded me there was a lot more out there than former workplace and various cultures as I vetted about flexibility, position roles and support. Contrary to the popular saying where jobs were found in networking, I only landed 1 interview from a referral, perhaps in the nonprofit and arts and culture worlds, networking will get you somewhere (especially in higher Ed or fundraising since mum probably provided references to 3 of her staff that went elsewhere), but a lot is also about crafting your resume and cover letter, and following application instructions.
Or perhaps I am just a collection of resources.
In the education world, I have saw former teachers promoted to Vice Principals, Principals or Directors of Education who supervise staff and train curriculum, some colleagues who became part of academia and entrepreneurial ones who started their businesses. But as of now, I am still the one who intersect teaching & learning management as I teach online and offline, coordinate a LMS and moderate discussions while doing administrative stuff like project management.
June was refreshing as I propel into LMS and survey management at new work which was right down my alley from previous work. What amazed me was how learning had change from traditional classroom settings to virtual and blended learning.
Today there are still adults in classroom but we then want to pay for an instructor who will offer interactive and fun experience where our questions will be answered quickly, and where we will not get bored and fall asleep even with coffee. And then online, we demand the same interaction, be it a poll or chat at a live webinar, or a discussion.
Technology will only get more interesting..
Wednesday, May. 01, 2019 @ 5:12 a.m.
Let me decompress here - at times, when I walk near one of the former workplaces, I get overwhelmed and feel stressed out (but have to admit that nearby mall has almost everything I need, so I make a point of appearing after office hours), partly because I am not that brave as a self employed person yet, partly because I do wonder what other thinks.
But I believe awareness and enlightenment are always great as they lead to little discoveries here and there :)
Just like how this self employed status started out as something on a whim! I knew I was bored and wanted to do some side gigs, but had done minimal research and signed up on Upwork. Years later, I met and worked with very interesting people in translation industry, teach a wide variety of learners and get to write blogs too! I would have 0 idea what freelancing is aside from having a PayPal account and creating a profile on Upwork.
I am always grateful for this eclectic community because I believe one day, we will all be virtual and outsourcing/offshoring will continue to happen. I have stumbled onto translation, taught online, learned 5 platforms and get to sleep. But there is still healing and so let it heal.
Friday, Apr. 26, 2019 @ 9:58 a.m.
I just need some mental decompression after a long day churning words for wuxia and browsing some ancient poetry.
When I look upon my current life, it is a journey to be a dragon sage. I say dragon because I am born in the year of the dragon, and do inherit the risk taking, ambition, versatility and spending (unfortunately so) aspects of it. Then again, DD and everyone are also dragons so I do get curious if they truly believe they belong in that year.
The ambition of me took me to be a straight B student with a load of activities on the side and to reach new heights before many milestones. After all, it makes wonderful stories to be published before 18, presented in a conference before university graduation, achieved my childhood ambition before 25 and have a side business before 30, right? But of course, I will have to include the many rejections to fully spread y dragon wings. (Or to vet the scammers, tell my dad PayPal is not a scam etc)
In the past year and once I got into wuxia, I have felt a stronger urge to retreat as a sage in this self. There is healing to be done. There have been enough issues to go through. Of course, there is still a journey but I believe I am finally more or less likely at peace.
Thursday, Apr. 25, 2019 @ 12:07 a.m.
Washington was healing and was every bit of my town - filled with museums that stretched across streets and coffee shops here and there (Blue Bottle! Paul! Kintsugi!), against the backdrop of Capitol Hill and government buildings.
I was sick of New York when I went there the second time - yes, there were gems with The Cloisters and MET revisited, but it was becoming poorer with mascots and choirs desperate for money, and tourists taking photos in front of Trump Tower with inauguration.
America has its disparity and I can go on about my questions on their health, education and governance policy, despite how the Presidency has entertained me over the years. But DC was calming with its government buildings and museums anchored aside the Potomac River and memorials.
I saw the Vietnam War Veterans Memorial with names engraved on black blocks. It was the way I remember my late grandmother, no explicit visual statues, but forever carved in my mind and evoking its own powerful messages. It is how art is for me.
Of course, there were Sackler galleries and I marvel how the OxyContin magnates cover up with art, or Freer and Bliss who donated their collections in their diplomatic careers (Smithsonian Freer/Sackler galleries and cherry blossoms that fill my heart with wholeness.
Saturday, Apr. 20, 2019 @ 8:43 a.m.
5 years ago, I was in Taichung, burnt from a bad breakup, wondering the next steps.
5 years later, I am in Washington, re-living the childhood memories. Let go from a place due to transitions and not quite the fit, but within a week, got a gig as a team member at martial arts translations three times my first experience (with some TLC from the master)
I remember the 5 year faith shift that finally has its beautiful end. I was raised interfaith and my mother was at the learning stage absorbing as I deconstruct. The Episcopalian/ Anglican was a middle ground for me and in midst of breaks, toxicity, relocation and relationships, I found online resources for healing. I learn that I cannot write always because inspiration soaks, but when I do, I will be engrossed in this infinite sanctuary.
I learn I need causes and I am the balance of reason and ideals. The avid reader of business articles and spits into strange tales. But because I burn out so much, I need to heal. I found my next love in wuxia, and next job will be there to pay the bills.
So I recharge at Washington, not so frightening from the Angkor Wat exhibits when I first visited as an 8 year old, but a plethora of Qing dynasty and rose gardens. Of course, there was Vietnam War Veterans memorial that will always tear me as this was the way I process and remember my late grandmother's death (too many poems and stories written, but an etching would be a good description), and to saokin art without scanning for meaning.
To be art without meaning
To jump into art and to be a dragon...
Monday, Apr. 15, 2019 @ 10:51 p.m.
Ah, one week. I have projects 1, 2, and 3 to do, coffee shop interview (because meeting people for me after trauma will always start in a coffee shop) and teaching demos.
The shakiness of meeting strangers is still there, it persists perhaps because trauma is like exposing vulnerability to everyone, except, your wounds are visible scars. How my parents half-dragged and half-persuaded me to go to Toastmasters award ceremony, I do not know.
However, vulnerability will linger and become an imperfect scar to remember and to be.
Saturday, Apr. 06, 2019 @ 12:40 a.m.
It is good to begin with a blog everyday. This may go on for sometime.
Calmer now, but still healing. Words clear me and transform me always
All I think of is one of the art pieces that I studied during university, something along the period of Donald Judd and Eva Hesse, where there was a scar in front of the white background. It reminds me to embrace my imperfect scars and experiences and who I really am.
So here unleashes my long diatribe. After all, words are the cheapest and best therapy, right?
I love and start writing officially since 16 - always sensitive, always imaginative. But of course, I get shot down and was told to do a real world thing. I was also very type A until a breakup. I did become a teacher later after a stint as a research assistant (best remote job, and I realize early I can do remote!). The students and staff are great but management was always expanding and then a campus shut down so I relocated, wanting to be a class teacher. I never got it. I went to a call centre but that did not work out due to scheduling. Then I landed my gig in customer service/workshop coordination and it was good despite extended probation initially.
I left for fired position due to higher paid. At first it was good, and I do realize I can continue to improve on documenting everything and making sure of deadlines but communication was vague. I felt I could not succeed and later on put on extended probation and then after errors of a list I was terminated. Shock, hurt but relieved. I did not have the anxiety attack last time. I see things to improve, but also that environment would not work for me if it is a big brother environment. I was actually looking for freelancing gigs a month before that!
So I will heal, write and continue to apply for remote things (what I want to do). I may start with part time because I need time to get over this and have the self esteem back again. Going to Washington will also be awesome! But to the road ahead, I will need the faith.
What I am grateful for is that i learn I have been suppressing this real self for years. I want to be somewhere that I can say I am bad when asked how are you and not mold into a pretzel. Of course, there are insecurity issues, and hey, remote has always been my plan as I do plan to have a child in the near future
So I appreciate all the hugs, kisses and support. Thank you for being on this road with me.
Falling on a cliff revisited
Friday, Apr. 05, 2019 @ 4:50 a.m.
Since my wordpress blog is locked out, I guess I have to flash and wrangle everything from diaryland. I do love diaryland since it has been a sacred space when I started it in Grade 8.
The days that DD would design and write, and the days that I would write and write and write. Society pressures us to forget ourselves and be a pretzel, but my creative self has been the core of me. The core that told me to learn normal work things in society, the core that has been through wars and protests and the one that cries out telling me I have repress it for too long.
Of course, kick in the Muslim SO and life gets a bit complicated. I remember the faith shift I had when Evangelicals no longer welcome me with open doors, the wrestle of God (I chose to stick with it, but in a healthier and better way for me) and how now I am in this position where I have such a grasp of Christianity, Islam and some Judaism that I can be a safe haven for faith shifters and sojourners. (We can have healthy discussions and I was always inspired). That is perhaps why after creative partner, I believe my purpose is to spill all the love and create this haven for creatives and sojourners and every broken soul.
I will be honest that I don't like being fired. But who does?
It made me rethink that I was already planning remote and exit. Remote has been what I wanted to do for quite some time after I started my freelance (casual) gig in 2014 on a whim, and since I do plan to have kids, that is what I want to do so I can spend the time to be with them. (Plan to get married soon, and this miracle is another story) The system and I are bad fit for each other, it is too rigid. I will need reassurance that I am ok and I can do it. I will apply for part time because this is what my body and mind allows me. I will volunteer for refugees because that is always my calling. There are of course some reflections on my part on how to be better for the next thing.
I learn that job security is never secure - even my school campus got closed down! We have illusion because benefits and all that but this time, I can fully leap forward. I do learn about taking a step at a time, especially when my body is already refluxing and stressing and having nightmares with this job! I aim to take care of self and already craft out something of a home office. (Yes!)
But I did get spoiled when I was translating wuxia novels. It was the peace I crave. And I would end this catharic post with a story:
I always admire dragon lady from Legend of Condor, perhaps, because we are both dragons, or perhaps because of the intense love between her and the male character. She was wounded and jumped into a cliff when she was badly injured and later, the guy found her and they lived happily. I dream of the jumping off a cliff many many times. It was a release, and here I am, taking the plunge.
Thursday, Apr. 04, 2019 @ 10:43 p.m.
My sacred space
My beloved space
Got fired. Of course I am processing with the momentum of emotions. Last time I was let go it was a scheduling issue.
This time, I tried and did what I could but could not fit into their pretzel. However, it was suffocating for me. I remember checking in with swipes, sick to my stomach as I feel the big surveillance machine going. I remembered crying to SO and parents about how my creative self is ripped and killed and repressed, and hoped for the remote life.
And then this happened. The emotions do stack themselves up. But they are paying me for April so I will go to the trip as planned and admire the cherry blossoms.
I would say I was never being listened to. It inspired me the joys of remote world and how I have always been a ninja. We will see what comes next. Naturally, source of money will be worried but that is me, after all.
It is perhaps time to unveil and jump into the box that i never thought would happen.
Remote and freelance together.
Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019 @ 9:52 a.m.
Of course, my panic alarm triggered in new place where time is caged. I am not ready to breathe life into wordpress since love and energy tanks are exhausted, but that battle took the writer side out of me into the world.
It made me face my fear of silences.
The muted melody that seethes of fear and rejection in court-esque politics.
It reminded that I am not emperor's bird (well, I tried) material.
But the melancholy will linger for a while before some resilience is breathed into me. At times, this emotion overpowered so much that I am drowned. Being how quick to grasp information that I am, it instantly bouts into a static overload, as if a SEO map gone wrong.
And of course, penning it with little words is the cheapest but most vulnerable form of therapy so of course I am still here.
Monday, Mar. 11, 2019 @ 4:46 a.m.
At times I find my self awareness and immense conscience difficult to deal with.
Granted, I know a lot, at times, too much about myself and spend most of my life (trying) to accept/embrace this vulnerable soul I strive so hard to preserve.
But that also means I deal with triggering issues 5 times harder, and have a very difficult time after reflective silences because my brain will decipher Byzantine history in 2 weeks, and I can comeback on interesting capital punishments and laws. Even with this newer interest in stocks and dividends, it is as if I am an old soul.
We all know about how I am going to build towards this freelancer life so I can roll my eyes, drown in coffee and be banker wife 2.0 (had a discussion with the banker, agreed that we signed up for the wrong things where he could be HR and I would be smirking as some independent broker having 5 people signed up for a credit card/accounts with my image of I used to be a finance idiot and now....)
But let's not dwell on that. I am exploring this context of death as more facebook friends have babies (I know, what a cynic).
I still grieve over the deaths I saw.
The suicides that I heard from high school and university reunions. There were untold stories of harassment, depression and complications that we never hear. Yet, all we seem to label people is their status. There is so much untold that I wander and want to know.
The deaths that we know are coming but still cannot get over. Grandmother is always a muse in my stories and this is how it became. I offer another to make a biography for another grandmother because it is a memento mori. They have rich stories. Perhaps, their ideas of cycle of life is different from mine but to relive the moments of war, love, death and life? I will write it all over again.
The non physical deaths we experience. I like to think of creative partner as the ex husband but his departure was needed for me to be where it is. The Beirut memories and conversations among the 4 will always be there and i can never refuse the rooftop party till the end of the world of nihilism and revolutions. But he left. It was because of this I realize I can be a sage and seduce with words and find the banker that see through the vulnerability. It was because of this can I see I have no role in immediate revolutions, but having the keys to 3 civilizations may mean I can ultimately stop something.
Or my own death. The older I get, the more of a sage I become and want to retreat to the oceans where I can dance like a drunk literati. I know my type lives for purpose and so it is fitting when I exit I fulfill that purpose despite the sins and loins. So it is time to achieve that sage
Wednesday, Feb. 06, 2019 @ 4:04 p.m.
When I finished my translation assignment with martial arts novels, I thought I would immediately delve back into writing.
In a series of beautifully timed injuries and snowstorms, I found myself hibernating into a comfy slumber until it is time to write again. Young me would challenge myself, but present me has long accepted it is a transition between inspiration and evolution.
Long ago, I thought I am done with faith shift.
But not so.
I feel for those in Abrahamaic religions who are equally challenged and questioned as our faiths are thrown into an ocean of oblivion, and external pressures leave us to lick our own wounds.
Our desert mothers and fathers have long question, for faith is a cyclical cycle of seasons, where perhaps doubt and sabbaths will lead to a beautiful wild.
Since I become a privileged foreigner in the Islamic world, let me divulge into the Islamic faith shift I encounter.
To me, the crux of Islam is obedience, and in its arabic linguistic roots, it means submission or volunteer submission to God. There was a tale where Mohammed sent shops to Africa asking the Emperors to obey to God, and almost everyone except the Ethiopian Emperor submitted. Perhaps, of fear. Perhaps, of their perceptions of God.
However, because Islam achieved what Christianity did not manage do - to integrate into governance, when civilizations globalized, it become much harder to "modernize" tradiitional customs that were made centuries ago. It is always my hope that countries would separate governance from Sharia Law since interpretations can easily be played into the authority's advantage - how it pains to see people stoned and whipped for different opinions?
I want to pen this because we get this gift of shifting. There will be hoards of well wishers that tell us we are going through a downward path; there will be leaders who tell us to pray more or participate into multiple support groups. There will be a constant sense of guilt or sin or question whether we made the right choice. (In fact, I have this guilty feeling as I blog about whether I can even speak of other Abrahamic religions, so perhaps years of Evangelical fears still linger)
And all of this to be answered to a backdrop of silence.
I cannot guarantee there is a quick fix or definite ending towards tis shift. There are sojourners who left the faith completely, those who returned back or those who treasure their new existence in this beautiful, wild ground of living in the fringes. What I can say is to take this silence to find soul-nourishing activities that heal you with the trauma.
It was hard grippling that I disobey/sin - but you may find the religious books or even the idea of prayer traumatizing - so take a break. Refrain from viewing websites that reinforce faith shift is a horrible idea because it happens. Sometimes, these groups may gather a group of people who needs help themselves and as my late counselor said, toxicity can breed more toxicity.
I remember how I turn my faith shift into a historical study of Abrahamic faiths and I had a wonderful quest discovering architecture and politics of Byzantine, British and Shi'a and Sunni empires. And the times I converse with friends about histories without any conversion.
There are still a lot to be done in the Islamic world, because there is only one text, and how male-dominated societies can end up not being protective of women (see honour marriages or temporary marriages in the news). But there must be some beautifully wild things going on if they too begin to faith shift. The shift in Christianity is emerging with more progressive churches implmenting LGBTQ/interfaith programs, but would there be a voice for Islamc to speak out and break away from the stronghold of submission?
So I shall sit back and witness this shift and see what it leads. I came out still believing in Christianity but also with a vast knowledge of Christian/Islamic history, however, my trauma and the trauma still exists. In the meantime, I will let my vulnerability flow into its own dance of words as I retreat to the protective cloisters of Byzantine and Qajar empires.
My silent melancholy
Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 @ 8:34 p.m.
I am sure I have spent the last 4 years deliberating interfaith and cultures ever since I started dating Muslim fiance, so bear with it as I vent because after 4 years of hope, frustration and discoveries...
I finally came clean to my mother about my struggle to ever fit into mainstream Christianity.
This is really for myself.
In my 4 years of faith shifting, my faith was questioned at every angle because everything from 2 Corinthians passage to small groups to the internet would tell me that being with Muslim fiance would be an evil, abhorrent, downward spiral sin.
There were times I question Islam, especially when it is always associated with terrorism, but I found there are both extreme Christians and Muslims, some may bomb and ravage a city, and others may drive people to kill themselves.
This struggle started when I decided to quit the Evangelical Church 4 years ago because the pastor delivered a sermon targeting at young people to only date Christians or convert their significant others before marriage.
That hurt me to the core. It was not as if I went outside of my way to date a Muslim guy to rebel against the church, but to see that there was no support to whom you thought could rely on was devastating and disappointing.
I remembered the days when I experimented with the prospect of no God or going into another Abrahamic religion. However, both options did not work for me. I could not shake off the idea that there was no such idea of a caring and just God, yet I disagree that Mohammed is a prophet, or that Jesus is merely a storyteller.
That was part of the reason why I relocated to another country to regain my sanity.
When I turned to the internet to find others' experience, it was even worse. My google searches often resulted in links from various churches bashing my decision, or emphasizing the need for conversion. While there were the rare one or two articles that became my lifeline, the other ones were often nightmare experiences of women who married Muslm men and were psychologically abused.
I don't deny their experiences. Everyone's experiences will be different.
What continues to traumatize me is how exclusive and unsupportive communities can be - to have false friendships that are based on one's success rate of converting their spouses (needless to say, I am no longer friends with my former small group members) or to endure continuous advice to convert; to reject and ostracize members because of our failures or lack of motivation to convert our partners and to haunt us with well intended reminders of what a downward spiral we are heading into.
What a struggle it had been - to be in the faith, and yet to face so much backlash in the community. I finally understood why others who been through similar experiences decided to convert into their partner's religions, give up the relationship or religion altogether.
As my Muslim girlfriend's faith started to unravel, it opened this Pandora's box for me. But I am grateful for those rare friends who chose to stay friends and online communities that remind me that there are also many of us who are silenced into this steep price of interfaith relationships.
But I am hopeful that there will be a change in these toxic communities, and that there will be accepting and progressive communities that will spring up. For the world continues to globalize and there will be more interfaith marriages and friendships, and I vow that I will still do what I could to let my future children choose for themselves.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 @ 11:24 p.m.
I have not brushed with words for quite some time, so it is always comforting to start my art in this safe haven for 15+ years.
This year has been full of changes in my artistic and professional lives. I feel blessed and am excited, but naturally, I worry.
Transitioning into a new job with the standard notice is a big deal for me. While I am very well versed in the game of freelancing and teaching/research contracts, I have never transitioned into another position due to relocations. And this job is a transition in itself as I transform from an educator with administrative responsibilities to an administrator for continuing education.
But instead of rushing myself, I know this time, I am going to take my sweet time to process and be thankful for all the friendships and opportunities.
Creative wise, I have fallen in love into the world of translating fictions. I have definitely learned the hard way that I need a sabbath after 4 months of translations coaxed all the words out of me, but it is an art in itself to translate Chinese web novels into English pieces, and I do relish the occasional poetic phrases here and there. This is definitely something I will take in a heartbeat so long it is not 40 chapters per week.
I also took back the reins on managing the facebook group that I founded for Allpoetry members. Managing writers is naturally easy because we can all relate with our creative tendencies, but balancing these words with a firm grip was a process. So glad I have another admin on board to help me approve posts so I can spend more time resting in my creative haven. (I tend to imagine it as a chinese pavilion or an artist studio)
And of course, the other half whose busy lifestyle make my life so colourful and somehow manage to believe I can do everything like this.
Tuesday, Nov. 06, 2018 @ 9:45 p.m.
These days, instead of picking up my writer pen, I pick up the translator pen and recreate Chinese contemporary martial arts novels into an English novel.
After translating over 100 chapters each month, I fell in love with the martial arts, the plot twists, the romances and the history and with the death of Jin Yong, the pioneer of modern Chinese wuxia last week, I hope to continue the legacy.
But since I get paid to write and translate, the allure of rising to be a manager becomes less and less attractive to me.
Not because I have no ambition, but because I already own my freelance business and oversee myself from contract negotiations and crafting words, to payments and the full cycle of my projects. I definitely enjoy seeing sides of employee (day job) and owner (night hustle), and who can resist doing amazing things like voice overs and translation of chinese legacies?
But of course, my hope is to fully retire into this underground gig economy and focus on translating, teaching and writing. This will hopefully give me more time to write my Chinese literature and appreciate Arabic poetry.
After all, if Allpoetry facebook group can organically grow into 2500+ members worldwide, and my translator's pen could start off with $0, everything is possible.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018 @ 4:21 p.m.
I knew my destiny and what I had to do.
Even the counselor said I need healing from the trauma of writer life and not counseling.
I try to be light.
But I know who I am with is always my opposite.
Depending on where you believe in Christianity, I am already paired up with the dark side being with a Sunni Muslim.
Or we may say that we are united as followers or descendents of Ishmael and Isaac.
Or we unified the Arab and Chinese worlds and that we would have made the Silk Road Trade in Chang'an so smooth. In a different dynasty like Yuan dynasty, I would definitely be in a higher rank because of the significant other.
But you usually see him first.
I am, after all, packed with an ambition and grit of a dragon, yet I fully know I am to heal and to love and to write. You don't want to see me too soon, because that meant something would happen.
Or perhaps, I just want to give you a teaser with writes and make you savour gothchyld here and there in my selfish desires.
Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 @ 10:19 p.m.
I wanted to be strong, to be bold, to change someth
I was raised to a warrior and charm the crowds with a smirk, and tested again and again with projects under projects, but my emotions would not numb and tears still flow at certain fleeting moments.
It was not until years later that I was told I have a much more powerful gift - to heal, to create, to give meaning and perhaps, to change the world.
Let me shred and peel myself in front of you.
Unveil my scars concealed under layers of concealer for decades.
And breathe life as I choke out the toxins like a periodic ritual.
Perhaps, creative souls also liken that we trespass two worlds - the reality that has its own set of practical rules and prejudiced ideas, and the organic, evolving creative realm that envelopes us with love and go tell us to do something.
All the time, my creative side tells me to preserve this emotional beauty with elegant words, but then go be a fiery word warrior that mediates and fight for peace and understanding at the most turbulent shores.
I didn't buy a ticket to the most dangerous places and fight - that would be irrational, and that is another's purpose. But we will get back to that later, because my life also connects to these conflicting forces.
Before I come back to this conflict, I had to acknowledge my raw emotions and the creative realm are my core self, and read encyclopedias upon encylclopedias of dysfunctions of the heart and the mind. Perhaps that was what God had in mind for me. After all, it is not everyday I come out unscathed of a havoc.
To untangle and sense the hidden emotions and struggling life of those who have numbed so long.
To discern and continually pray that those who killed their core selves will one day embrace their murdered selves and cherish their lives.
To be a sounding board for them and tilt them to ideas, but never to force them so. It is their homework, I often assert myself, even if it takes a life time.
However, I made a vow that I will never be a counselor. To absorb so much is too much for me and I do not want to poison myself. It is better to be the initial guiding light and lead them to the rational professionals who can do that.
At my core, I am simply an artist-writer-historian who creates and breathes meaning and this is the formula that I can thrive with.
Now, back to our conflicting forces....
A decade ago, I did try to be bold and have some literary revolution over war at Middle East. My kindred spirits are dear to me and I bury myself into books, attempting to learn their laws and the root of the problem.
But life decided it was time for me to cherish and savour art history to strengthen my craft and leave this for 10 years later, when I met my soulmate and came into a crossover.
In the Bible, we are constantly reminded of the different paths that Isaac and Ishmael. Through Gentiles, I have read the stories of Isaac, but he read and believe in the origins of Ishmael.
I do not know of God's plans ahead, but I do know that this conflict continues today in warfare.
Some of us and some of them have turned into extremists who have gone too deep in the dark unfortunately. But there is still hope.
I never convert to his side, there are some beliefs that I don't believe in, but from historical books, it appears that this long-standing feud started when we kill whoever who disagrees with us, and this dragged onto crusades and quests to purify the world, along with some corruption here and there.
So now, I shed and sit in the position of diplomat - still hoping to be more like God through the Bible, but dissecting Middle East history and politics as if an expert. (Let's not forget the lecture about Wahhabism, it was exhausting)
Kick into my out of the world writer self and you cannot get a more delicate position.
But I guess, this resiliency means I get to change the world after all.
The Battle With Silence
Sunday, Aug. 05, 2018 @ 4:25 p.m.
The 6-hour Mindfulness Retreat last week opened a Pandora's box.
It was not my first time in a Mindfulness Retreat, nor the first time I saw my mind warped and wrecked and wrestled in pieces.
But when I came out, I had refluxes, anxiety attacks and little critters reminding me of the haunting silence.
As introspective I can be, I have been burned into fearing stillness. Growing up in Hong Kong does not help when everything can be answered in 2 minutes and you have a barrage of apps to toy with in the subways either.
But to leave my inquisitive mind into a stasis when half of me have a booked schedule, and the other half of me have my challenge to be writer-diplomat-historian, that is placing me in a haunted house.
This reverie spins and kills my inspirations into strings of madness, but it is precisely the root I have to face.
My body will one day return to ashes, and I do not need to burn and churn my mind to build Venice when this stillness enables me to savour finer things in life. Not everyone has this gift to be self aware and decipher their issues at the expense of a $20 mindfulness therapy and aspiring mindfulness teacher training. (Yes, this is happening)
To slow down and inhale life
To realize meanings and purposes
and retreat into a sabbath of art
in this blended reality
and return to both worlds in big love adagio
Monday, Apr. 02, 2018 @ 11:20 p.m.
While Canada is a living proof of thriving diversity, at times, I relish over my cross-cultural upbringing and experience.
Recently, one of my poems is selected to be included in Allpoetry's 2018 Anthology "On Earth As It Is in Poetry" under the name "gothchyld" (it will be published in US!). While each write has their own story and each publication is equally special, I was more amazed that as a former EAL/ESL student, I have not only continued to study English in A-Levels and University level, but manage to publish my English poetry in UK and US.
While my parents intentionally taught me English and Cantonese (but of course, with a bit of Chinese accent), my cross-cultural upbringing was completely accidental.
I have seen that cross cultural adults often made choices - to revert to their primary culture (e.g. ethnicity by blood), to convert to their secondary culture (e.g. where/what they were brought up) or to maintain their fluidity of cultures and went on to be even more mixed. How I took the latter high road, I do not know.
Although they were born and bred in Asia, my parents were never local by heart. Perhaps, because they love both Hollywood and Korean movies, and embrace the progressive society that the West have. I remember a childhood traveling to museums in Asia and North America, and reading both Red Mansion and Pride and Prejudice.
Enter British international school that was a melting of nationalities. After catching up with English for 2 years to be on par with my peers (critical thinking was not well integrated in local schools then), the romance of soccer and sophistication of Shakespeare have won over me. My love of Shakespeare definitely spills over to university and beyond and I still occasionally brag how I studied under two renowned Shakespearean scholars (Prof. Jill Levenson and Prof. Holger Syme), where I learned to decipher beyond iambic pentameter and write about Elizabethan medicine.
But art appreciation took over.
And so did my writing partner from Middle East who brought a breath of fresh air.
10+ years, I met with my classmate, who has progressively become 'local' in Hong Kong culture after she met her Hong Kong born and bred fiance. Her Cantonese and knowledge of Hong Kong culture probably beats me now, but I know my dilemma on Hong Kong and China governance would never let me revert to a local.
Or my cousin who has studied the arts and met her Caucasian boyfriend in the creative industries. But I know I can barely finish an American/Canadian TV show, have almost quit alcohol altogether (liver takes too long to breakdown) nor do I like camping so forget that.
Life somehow decide that it will be more fun for me to retain all my cultures and take on a new one. It has continued to groom me to appreciate and understand more of Chinese and British history and literature, along with Canadian art. Then after my writing partner vanished back to the practical world, I met my South Asian fiance with a similar cross cultural upbringing and I end up deciphering Mughal and Ottoman Empires along with Islamic laws (very sporadically) to understand beyond family gossip.
Despite Chinese questioning my interesting life choices (based on 9/10 Chinese friends and cousins), the South Asian fraction has welcomed me with open arms (based on 9/9 South Asian friends). Something must be right.
This may just be glocalization at its best.
But I know I will definitely remind future children that the world is truly their oyster with 4 cultures and languages at their hands.