Monday, December 28, 2009

Rising from Ashes


Current Mood: Rearing to go on some new things.

Current Song: Wait it out by Imogen Heap.

Hiya everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday weekend full of gluttonous activities and much napping (I think I may have eaten my weight in almond chocolate bark. Oh yes, there will be much running this week). Since we are but mere days away from 2010, I believe that this will be my last post for 2009 (The end is nigh!).

Last week, my mum's coworker and friend sent home some presents for me and my sister. He usually sends a little something because mum is one of his favourite people to work with (she's no-nonsense just like me). One of things that my sister and I both loved - aside from his uncanny ability to pin down our personalities - are the chinese book marks that he gave us. They are these metal bookmarks engraved with one of the 4 animals of the chinese constellation.

Because of my love for all things historical, I of course, had to do some research on what these were. My sister's emblem was the Jade Dragon (also known as the green dragon). It represents the Emperor and protects the East. It is also associated with the element of wood and the season spring. Fitting for my sister. Given she's a May baby and is constantly happy.

My emblem, which I thought was creepily fitting was the Vermillion Bird, or the Phoenix. Representing the Empress, it is the bird that often protects the South. Its element is fire and its season is summer. Despite the fact that I'm partial to the fall, I still think that the phoenix arrived at an opportune time for me.

Though the chinese version of the Phoenix is different from the one we usually associate with mythology, I like to think of the two in the same breath. It's a bird, that when burned down (known as self-immolation), rises from its own ashes. I feel that in some ways I'm like that. 2009, though a tough year, has given me the strength to go on to what I hope will be a more successful 2010. I'm rising from my own ashes, letting the unnecessaries stay behind and forging ahead. Despite the scars, I'm brand new in some ways. Lucky for me, the phoenix only arrives in times of good fortune. I think good things are ahead.

What's more, the pairing of the Dragon and Phoenix (also yin and yang) represent perfect harmony. I would definitely have to give credit to the two dragons in my life for helping me get through the this. Without their fierce strength and ability to slap me silly when I'm filled with self-doubt, I'd probably be spending my days in bed.

(And this is where I thank people).

I've got a rather long list of thank you's for the year, so I'll try and abbreviate as much as humanly possible. I've had the absolute pleasure of meeting some of the most intelligent, passionate and hardworking folks this year, thanks to Brazen Careerist. From sharing recipes to advice on career, Brazen again, gets the big shout-out. It's my home online and I'm happy and honoured to call these folks my friends.

Of course, there are the usual friends of mine, with whom I've had many a cup of coffee, shared many a book recommendation, cried many a tear, and laughed many an ass off, the MAISers, the old choir folks, the online blogging community, some very old high school connections that I revisited this year, the boys in Toronto.

Thank you all for being part of my rich and fulfilling life. I hope that we can take flight together in 2010. If I don't get a chance to talk to you before the new year, have a wonderful one everbody. It's a new decade. Let's make it a fabulous one :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fa La La: December Photo Walk


Current Mood: So Tired!

Current Song: Clocks by Coldplay. It's been in my head since yesterday.

Sorry I've been AWOL for a bit. I've been prepping my content for this blog. I appear to be going soft in my old age, and so my sister, friend and I hit the town yesterday for some lights viewing. Vancouver, as you all know (by means of being envious), is a stunning city and comes alive during the holiday. I thought I would share the photo walk that we took yesterday with you and spread the christmas joy (or what have you). So here you are!

PS: I have no tripod, so I had to shoot these by hand. So that means, 1. They're a bit shakey, blurred, though I tried my very best and 2. I have no tripod

The Festival of Trees at the Four Seasons Hotel

A kind of neat ornament of a peacock feather

This was a wish from one of the wish trees. I thought it was cute

The Olympic Countdown clock outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, looking sort of festive.
Robson Square, just adjacent to the skating rink, all lit up in twinkly lights.

Ice blue Christmas Tree at the outdoor(ish) skating rink at Robson Square.

Picture of Spring at Robson Square. Not the season. The mechanical bobble.

Harbour Centre, lit up at the top.

Canada Place Sail light show. Looking kinda neat.

The Olympic Rings in the harbour. For some reason they're entirely green today.

Monday, December 14, 2009

That Thing Called Trust.


Current Mood: Tired, and perhaps a little under-the-weather.

Current Song: from Saher by Jagjit Singh (it's that kind of day).

So I started off writing an entirely different blog post, and then it turned into this one. Lately, this has been in the forefront of my mind.

Yesterday, while having a conversation at some point, my sister said, "It's really hard to trust people."

It took me as a bit of a surprise actually, because of all the people in my family, she is the one that is most likely to trust someone. I'm the spiney one with the thick armour. I might have been lead armadillo in some previous life.

This isn't always a good thing, by the way. I've grown up like that. I'm suspicious of people in general (not in the needs-to-be-sedated way). I take apart social responses and relationships and reconstruct them so I can understand them. I would make a fantastic editor because of my proclivity to deconstruct on a regular basis.

Another among my long journeys. When you look at the very root of my trust issues, therein lies the key. It's more about being able to trust my responses rather than other people. I know myself well enough, but given an ambiguous situation, dealing with myself is more of an issue than dealing with another person. I don't know how I'll react. How my brain will wrap around the situation, what I'll say.

I've been lucky this year to be exposed to so many new people, many whom I've met through social media, and never in real life. Many have become good friends. This has gone some ways towards allaying my fears.

I also realize that I have never fallen apart to a point where I haven't picked myself up again. Something must be working inside. Some part of my being (probably the deconstructive/reconstructive one) puts me back together again.

I still have to learn to trust others. I think it goes hand in hand with learning to trust myself. I realize not everything can be trusted, but I also realize that giving someone or something the benefit of the doubt, is a form of respect. And respect I can do.

Monday, December 7, 2009



Current Mood: Hitting the end-of-year fatigue wall

Current Song: Rain by Creed (just heard it today. Makes my heart smile).

Today's post was actually inspired by Matt Wells' Daily Fix moment (He's inspired, and a hottie!). Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary names a Word of the Year that describes the general mood/trend of the year.

This year's word of the year is: Unfriend
Definition: -verb- to remove someone as a friend from a social networking site such as facebook.

If you've been reading my blog this year, I've been talking a lot about change, out with the old, in with the new, bygones and such. I think that the dictionary could not have picked a more apt word.

For me, this year has been full of internal changes as I seek to forgive, forget, plan, restrategize, let go, start anew. Some of it has to do with people, others with ideas I have of myself.

Lucky for me, it's also the beginning of a new decade. This seems to be an opportune time to put aside all of the things that have clouded my mind the last decade. It was a tumultuous one, as I finally entered my 20's and started to really discover what I was about and who I really was. There were many firsts experienced, many mistakes made, many opportunities to grow. I wear my scars with some amount of pride. They're a testament for all the various things that haven't held me back. In fact, I feel better about it now.

I'm planning (hopefully), to have a symbolic ceremony on new year's eve this year. I plan to put out everything that needs to be let go (I just have to figure out how to do this efficiently). This year has been real progress in terms of these things. I hope to finally put all of my hang-ups aside. I hope, especially to forgive. I think that I've decided what I can live without, and it's a good time to set myself free. It's time to unfriend those thoughts.

Should I go through it, I will definitely blog about it.

Time to prepare for a new year. Hopefully one that will rock in so many ways. And hopefully one from which I continue to grow and learn.

So, dear readers, will you be "unfriending"?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Event Roundup: Camps and Operas


Current Mood: Fairly awake despite having quite the late night.

Current Song: Ave Maria (I was singing a bad rendition in my dream, and it's carried over to waking life).

This week has been most eventful in a long while. It's not often I'm out and about at more than one event. Being an introvert, I need plenty of time to recover. This week however, I attending two events that I thought to share with you.

On Monday, I went to something called Foreign Policy Camp. See this post if you want to read what it was. It's always a little bit intimidating to hit up an event without a wing person, but I seem to be getting more and more used to that. It's also very intimidating when there are many people in some very expensive looking suits attending. I'm always afraid of saying something stupid.

I attended two sessions - one in the morning, and another after lunch - during the day. The first one was about the Global Supply Chain and ethical and sustainability practices in the private sector. For those of you who know, I covered some of this in my thesis. We had wonderful facilitators in Steve Williams from SAP and Esther Speck from MEC. I learned about how sustainability practices are part of their business cases, and that is the way in which they ensure that it isn't just a side project. During the recession, they've been able to maintain many of these practices without letting them fall away. Regulation of these practices seem to be both internally driven as well as by consumers. Both speakers made a great case for sustainability having other benefits such as retention, morale and productivity. I learned a ton from people who actually employ these practices, and it was great to see a real business case rather than a hypothetical one to put things in perspective. I think we're on our way here, people!

My afternoon session was completely different. What a change! John Monahan, a wonderful facilitator from the Mosaic Institute led a session on the role of diasporas in creating Foreign Policy in Canada. Basically it was in the form of a breakout session where we answered fundamental questions. I guess the general mindframe of the group seemed to be that diasporas are first and foremost canadians, meeting Canadian values. As such, they shouldn't be cherry-picked as experts on the country of origin. It's isolating, probably some form of tokenism, and highlighting a difference that may not necessarily be present. For instance, if someone told me that I'm the expert on East Africa and what do I think of Canada's engagement, I wouldn't know what to say. I've been in this country long enough to have become Canadian. My ideas on how that engagement might occur may offer some new insights, but I wouldn't by any stretch of the imagination by the resident expert on the topic. It was an important thing to realize, especially in the wake of some of Canada's recent interactions with Asia-Pacific and Central Asia. Again, lots to think about, as Canadian Foreign Policy moves to evolve in the next decades. All in all, a wonderful day of meeting new folks and engaging my brain in some much needed intellectual calisthenics!
You can read this article written in The Mark on Global Citizens by John, for further reading.

And now for something Completely Different!

Last night, I attended Vancouver Opera's show for Norma with one of my dearest friends, Michael, as my date for the evening. The show was spectacular. For those of you who may have been perusing the papers as of late, you'll notice articles about Norma popping up everywhere. One of Vincenzo Bellini's famous Bel Cantos this two-act opera concentrates on the central character Norma, a druid priestess, who has a husband Pollione. Pollione falls in love with a virgin of the temple, Adalgisa, and chooses to leave Norma. This doesn't go over so well. And in short, the gates of hell open up.

This would probably be one of my favourites now, along with Aida from many years ago. The depth of character and richness of sound portrayed by Hasmik Papian, who plays Norma was unsurpassed. Richard Margison, who plays Pollione has a beautiful tenor voice. My favourite parts of course were the stunning duets performed by Norma and Adalgisa. And the big bang choral number was a wonderful ending to the night. I've been the opera before, a handful to times, and this is by far one of the most captivating ones I've seen in a long while.

Thanks to Vancouver Opera's Opera Under Thirty Program, we got fabulous seats. I'm always a little disappointed when I don't see young folks at the opera. There are great programs such as this one out there to encourage young people to go and see the arts, and I really encourage you to take advantage of them (before you hit your 30's and have to pay full price! Gasp!)

All in all, a wonderful week, with wonderful new learnings. Sorry for the rambling. I hope I've satisfied my fellow policy nerds as well as my fellow art lovers. I shall write again next week. Until then, stay well :)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We're Never the Same Again


Current Mood: Recovering from the intellectual aerobics of yesterday..whew! being smart is tiring!

Current Song: System by Seal

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending ForeignPolicyCamp 2009. I was among many of the various types of people who sat in all day sessions discussing Canada's foreign policy as it pertains to a myriad of things. But I'll write more about that later this week. This is more about something I learned at my lunch break.

The conference was held at Harbour Centre, which sits on the waterfront in downtown Vancouver. This area of about 3 blocks or so was where I worked for just about a decade, going from my highschool job to my first ever "real" job. So, it is an area that feels like home. I even did my graduate degree at the downtown campus of SFU, which is coincidentally at the Harbour Centre.

Many times, I've walked along the streets. I'm familiar with the bookshops that line one side of the street, where I used to go during lunch. I know the coffee shops, some of them my regular stops before or during work. I know how the streets behind the harbour centre light up and glimmer, giving the cobblestone an ambiance of and eighteenth century novel. I think it's beautiful and easily one of my favourite places.

The last time I left there (which now seems like another lifetime), I was sad. A life I had built up personally and professionally had somewhat torn apart at the edges and that year I lost my footing a bit. I struggled a little to regain that footing, but never really did. So I moved on to new endeavours. Every time I've been back to that area, whether it was for coffee, or just passing through to another part of town, I'm enveloped in a bittersweet fog that makes me reminisce about the good and bad times that little nook of vancouver had for me.

This time, however was different. I feel like those days were literally ages ago. I feel like a different person. I look into the water and I'm not sad. Yesterday we had brilliant sunshine in the area and the city was abuzz at lunch time, smells of various foods wafting through the frosty afternoon. I felt new. I shed something during my years away from that area that gave me new eyes and it's something I'm thankful for.

It just goes to show, we are never the same person as we step into the same structures that we do. There is a saying that goes, you never see the same river under the bridge twice. I believe it to be truer than ever now. Call it a process of growing, or of realization, or simply of being able to turn something off inside. But for the first time in a long time, I walked those cobblestone streets and smiled.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ForeignPolicyCamp 2009


Current Mood: Meh...

Current Song: Blame it on the Rain (which I totally am) by Milli Vanilli
I just wanted to write a short note that next week, there's a great event coming up for folks who are development/ foreign policy nerds like myself. ForeignPolicyCamp will be taking place next Monday November 30th from 9-5. In Vancouver, they'll be at Harbour Centre.

This event is being put on by Canada's World, a wonderful organization. The camp is basically going to be asking questions about Canada's role in the world, and the direction of Canadian Foreign Policy. For those of you who don't know what a camp is, there are no tents or marshmallows involved. It's an unconference that will have open sessions, a media lab and case studies. You can choose what you'd like to attend. Some of the topics include engagement in Afghanistan, Africa, Arctic Security, The role of Artists on the international front and tons more.

If you're not in Vancity, there are camps also happening in Edmonton, Toronto and Montreal. We'll all be connected virtually, and it'll be a really fun learning experience. Information about tickets and registration is available on the website

There is also a cool flickr campaign where you can add your policy priorities on to a joint flickr group.

I'll be attending. And hopefully be reporting back the following day. Just a word in. Please let your fellow policy nerdlies know :)

Thanks Blogosphere!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Open to Opportunity: What I Admire about Oprah and Kristin Cavallari


Current Mood: Not yet decided. It's only monday.

Current Song: Worn Me Down by Rachel Yamagata.

I've been mulling over this post for a few days and I finally decided to sit down and write it.

I know you all heard last week that Oprah Winfrey will be retiring her show in September 2011. She says that she can feel in her bones that it's time for a change and that this feels like a good thing to be doing. This must be hard after 25 years, I'm sure. It's practically your child by that point.

So then you must be wondering why I would dare put Television Royalty's name next to Television common folk, often starring in the lowest common denominator available: reality TV. But you all know that I'm a fan of reality TV and my life is (thankfully) not nearly enough drama as that.

Some of you may know Kristin Cavallari from MTV's The Hills. She joined the cast after the departure of Lauren Conrad as the new crap stirrer.

There is something I think the two women have in common. Their ability to be open to new opportunities. While this may be different types of opportunity (new media endeavours and new men, respectively), you have to admire the fact that they realize when something has reached its expiry date. They create a space for something else at that point.

We could all stand to learn a few things from that. No matter how long we've been attached to an idea, be it 25 years or less, sometimes it's important to put the security blanket of an idea aside so you can be open to new things in your life, even if they're a bit scary. It's not only important for personal growth, it allows you the option of different perspectives and helps you step out of the box.

After all, you wouldn't hang on to stale bread forever, would you? So why hang on to a stale idea?

It's one of the lessons I've learned this year, and plan to take with me into 2010, which, I hope will suck a little less.

There are two steps to the process of letting go: one is actually letting go, and the second is being open to the possibility of new, wonderful things happening to you.

Okay, I've said my bit. I'm off to do some work now :) Later taters!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Happy Place


Current Mood: not bad despite the fact that it's pouring buckets out there

Current Song: Laschia Chio Pianga from Farinelli.

We always hear about Happy Places on television. Usually they're in the context of someone having some sort of major crisis and closing their eyes, standing still and saying something like "still blue pond, still blue pond". But I think each one of us has a happy place that they go to in real life. It's the place where you feel top-notch and where you could come away from smiling for days. You feel the most comfortable there and it brings out the best in you. You're automatically more approachable, more light-hearted, more mellifluous.

Today, I'll tell you about my happy place.

It's a little place at a very large intersection. It's a good 10 minute walk away from public transit, but well worth it. A favourite Italian coffee shop that was re-introduced to me by a friend from my graduate program. There is a giant gellato cone flanking the door. The place blares loud Italian music and is full of kitschy statues of naked men (not complaining, just saying). The tables are glass, and the chairs are meta covered with vinyl cushioning and the biscotti is to die for. It faces on to a very busy street, right across from a Starbucks if you can believe it. It's family owned and the older gentleman that works there calls you "darling" and "honey" when you place your order. The younger one - his son - calls you "sweetheart". They're loud folks and sometimes it's hard to hear your partner.

When I walk in to the mixed air of brewed coffee and moisture left over from the rain, I feel happy. It's dark and warm and a wonderful solace away from busy rattle of daily life. The regulars are always milling around, going from one table to another: old couples, a photographer, young families who walk in with their many children. They all know each other and sometimes I know them too. I smile at them in greeting. When I leave, my jacket smells like the cappuccino I just drank that's giving me the shakes. I walk back down another 10 minutes in the rain. I don't mind.

Such places are just a reminder that when you're down or wanting to escape, find your happy place, in real life, and go there. You'll feel better for it.

Do you have a happy place?

(The rain is subsiding, I must away to my erranding. Later taters!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sometimes the Abyss is Okay.


Current Mood: Got lots done today. Writing, however, is an epic fail

Current Song: Fireflies by Owl City.

Ever totally felt empty? Like it's all for naught? Sometimes there just isn't the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. It's dark when you get up, it's dark when you to sleep. Nobody calls. The only emails you get are reminders of the perfunctory variety. Life is just bland. Where is the fire? Yeah it's depressing isn't it?

But it's also okay.

I've been having that kind of a couple of months where I feel like I'm sitting around for far too much time. And what's worse is sometimes I don't want to be left alone with my own thoughts. They just go around in circles. And when they do that, they drive me crazy.

But that's fine. I can live with it. I can give myself time to stare into the abyss until I've had enough and then I'll get up and move on.

I sometimes have to remind myself that lying in wait is what's expected of you, when everything is out of your hands. And what you should do when you are waiting is make yourself useful to someone. Or in the very least, make a difference to someone. Send a "just because" text to someone. Be someone's light when you're not feeling particularly illuminated yourself.

Trust me. Sometimes it's worth lighting someone else's path. And leaving the dark to do what it might behind you. Trust that someone will light your path at some point.

For now, just wait. And be alright about it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Giving Thanks on The Examiner!


Current Mood: a little screamy, but i'll manage.

Current Song: The Sesame Street theme.

I'm lucky enough to know a bunch of really cool folks on Brazen Careerist this year. Over the year that I have been interacting with Brazen, I have gotten to know lots of interesting folks. One of my fellow Brazens, Sharalyn Hartwell, who works as a columnist for The Examiner is doing a fabulous project in honour of Thanksgiving Day. You can read all about it in her column.

Now I know it's not the Thanksgiving Day holiday for us folks up here in Canada, but there's always a reason to be grateful. Today, I'm a featured blogger on the Gen Y Gives Thanks project. You can read all about what I'm thankful for here.

And of course a big gob of gratitude to Sharalyn, who is working so hard to put these out every day. Please do check in with her column often as she has lots of fabulous posts from bloggers just like me :)


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

High School High?


Current Mood: a tad curmudgeonly.

Current Song: Walking With a Ghost by Tegan and Sara (good song!)

As in my usual way, I sat down at my computer yesterday morning. I am not a morning person and the fog of sleep hadn't yet lifted. I signed on to messenger as per usual and suddenly at 7:30 in the morning, I get a message from a friend : "Did you get the invite??"

"What invite? what are you talking about? I don't even know what your name is, it's so early."

"Check your email!" He says.

Clearly something exciting is going on. Some people have abnormal levels of enthusiasm in the morning. So I check my email.

Sure enough, I have a Facebook invite waiting in my inbox.

For my Highschool Reunion.

That's right. Apparently a decade went by while I was asleep.

I've grappled with the question practically since graduation about whether to go or not. Usually I sided on the "go" team. Part of me feels like being selfish and bragging. About what? I'm not sure. There must be something.

Then there's the grumpy teenager that still lurks around from time to time, that can't be bothered with it. Don't get me wrong. High school wasn't a total waste of time. I had some good friends. And then there were those atrocious moments *cough* gym class *cough* I was happy to start my new life once I graduated.

When I was younger, I had assumed, I might have all the necessary things in place. Now that I'm less than a year away, I realize it might take me a little while until the UN hires me. And probably a little while longer to be in escrow. And maybe a few years still until I win the Pulitzer. Ah the pipe dreams of a young idealist.

I haven't gone at all the way I thought I would be going. Not that I'm not proud of myself. Sometimes it takes a while to believe I've accomplished something in my life. We never really look at the whole retrospective at once do we? I'm sure there are highlights in there somewhere. Perhaps the publishing and the grad degree could stand on their own.

So at the end of it all, I joined the group. I might go. If I can find something nice to wear.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Break-Ups in the Digital Age


Current Mood: I'm doing a good psych job on myself regarding singing tonite. On the bright side, i have my blogging mojo back. Yesss!

Current Song: Something from Echoes by Jagjit Singh.

Today's blog post came to me about half an hour ago. It's partially inspired by Samantha Karol's blog on Brazen today about friendships in the digital age and partially based on watching crappy TV on MTV Canada. I know, I'm always classy.

In one such scenario on said crappy TV show, one girl was asking another whether she speaks to or sees her recent status ex. The breaker-upper replied that she has no contact with her ex and she has blocked him on facebook because she doesn't really want to know what he's up to or any of that.

It got me to thinking about how break-ups have changed since the advent of social media. It's now no longer about having your friend or sibling take his stuff back to his house (or you, should you choose to brave that whole ordeal). It's no longer about walking out never to see the person again, except perhaps by accident on some street in your city.

It's now more complicated to break up sometimes. What are you to do with contact on Facebook? Email? Twitter? Do you keep everything intact and creep around to see what the person's up to (you can all now admit you've totally done this)? God forbid you're members of professional organizations that make the whole thing a bout of admirable emotional calisthenics.

As much as being plugged in has given us access to friends and business contacts that you wouldn't stumble upon walking down the street, it comes with its difficulties. For some folks, these break-ups are easy and everyone can remain friends forever and ever amen. But if you're one of those who had a messy one to contend with, you've got some digital detritus to think about as well. Forget about his Alma Mater t-shirt as your biggest problem.

What say you, readers? Is breaking up in the digital age much harder to do?
picture credit:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Have a Gift and I Know How to Use It!


Current Mood: In emotional recovery.

Current Song: You Can Never Hold Back Spring by Tom Waits

Sorry I've been out for a while folks. I ran out of ideas and then I got in a funk. I should be back now, I think.

Yesterday was a baking day over at my house again. You all know that I have a very talented sister and mother who are avid bakers. You also know that I hate baking but am an avid eater of it. If there was a Department of Ironic Punishments in my version of hell, it would probably involve baking...and gym class (Yes it's Treehouse of Horrors time).

In any case, I stumbled my way through baking, keeping up with my quick and deftly moving mother and finishing a bunch of cake in record time. Just because I dislike something doesn't mean I can't be good at it. Right?
Well. I guess.

This was the result of "dirty icing" the cake (which is essentially a preliminary coating of icing before the good stuff). It looks like it was attacked by wild dogs, but it got the job done. Good.

And this is what I thought of it. Boo-urns indeed!

But in true, introspective Mehnaz style, it did get me thinking about inate gifts. It is evident that I don't have a gift for baking. I find it kind of a little bit boring. My sister and mother however, find the whole ordeal from melting the butter to cleaning the bowl at the end.
My gift? Well I like to write. And I think, I'm not half bad at it. So It's a testament that if you love something, you should just go for it. It's the one time my head goes out the window and I fall in love with what I'm doing. Life is really just too short not to love what you do. We don't know if we only live once. But why risk leaving it until the next lifetime?
In related news, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I don't know what I'll be writing about and I have no idea how this is going to go down, but what have I got to lose? Wish me luck! I'll be updating my progress :)
Curious about the finished cake product? Check out Honey Tops in the next few days ")

Monday, October 19, 2009

Red is my Favourite Colour: October Photo Walk


Current Mood: Tired. very tired.

Current Song: "What is Love" by Haddaway. Nineties anyone?

I have to admit it folks. I don't have a topic to write about this week. But I do have pictures from a photo walk on a glorious fall day. I got some weird looks in the process, but it was worth it :) Also included, shot of pumpkin light we've been putting up for a decade now probably. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change and Tourism


Current Mood: Anticipatory

Current Song: Saviour by Lights

When I was little, my family went on a safari to Mikumi National Park. The safari was basically in the form of a game view, where you drove a car through the floodplains and rather large savannah areas and tried to look for animals. We have pictures too. Most of them are of brownish savannah grasses and single trees, behind which, apparently is an animal. I still have yet to figure some of them out. This was back before the day of automatic zoom lenses and fancy shmancy cameras like I tout these days.

Many many years later I came across tourism again when I did my Master of Arts thesis on pro-poor tourism (which is, the tourism that shows net benefits for the poor). I specifically concentrated on nomadic tribes of Masaai in Tanzania as well as indigenous groups in South Africa. My question basically asked what the private sector can do to promote pro-poor ecotourism is these areas, what works, and what doesn't.

In doing the myriad research that I had to do for this monster paper (oh, the sleepless nights), I read a lot about the impact of climate change of Sub-Saharan Africa, since this is going to be a major issue to contend with in the health of the ecosystem in the future.

Most people in the world are going to have to learn to adapt to the effects of climate change. This will include small agriculture, grazing cattle (which is the livelihood for the Masaai) as well as policy surrounding National Park Maintenance in these areas. We have already seen the impact that climate change has had on South East Asia with the major typhoons such as Ondoy as of late. Sub Saharan Africa faces a different problem with the quick drying up of land, a receding of the major lakes, and the extension of desert land.

So what can we do? Such an intervention needs to be multifaceted with the collaboration of local people, governments, the private sector and international organzations to raise awareness of adaptation technologies. Furthermore, least developed countries need these technologies to stop the further degradation of land, and subsequently to stop the further cycle into poverty as a result. Climate change consequences not only threaten to rob the area of precious natural resources, but a significant amount of revenue (nobody is going to come and see animals if there aren't any).

I would hate that my children (or nieces and nephews) never have a chance to experience what I did, albeit, to six year old eyes, it's a bunch of weird trees.

There is lots of research you can read regarding the impact of climate change on ecotourism in Sub-saharan Africa and there are lots of ways you can support education and conservation efforts. Links below!

International Institute for Environment and Development

The Kesho Trust

The Masaai Wilderness Conservation Trust

The Overseas Development Institute's Pro-poor Tourism Programme

Now you know what I did holed up in the library for all those months :) Enjoy and Happy Blog Action Day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Your Girl Friends Sometimes Give the Worst Relationship Advice


Current Mood: bit headachey. Could be the massive amounts of food I've ingested as of late

Current Song: Worlds Apart by Vedera

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not the raging intellectual that everyone thinks I am. Well, okay, I'm not the raging intellectual all the time. I have my deliciously sinful reality TV addiction. In that vein, while I was making dinner the other day, I was watching an old episode of Laguna Beach. Now if you've ever watched that show, you know that it's mostly about "hooking up" with guys. This time however two girls were discussing if some guy liked one of them. And of course, like most girl friends do, one was offering her advice. She said something to the effect of "Of course he likes you. You can totally tell by the way he looks at you!"

This little episode got me to thinking about my own experiences. We spent most of my grade 12 year dissecting what the boy I liked did for any sign that he fancied me. It was the one guy I ever liked in high school and that was it. Since then, we've spent our time dissecting relationships. And giving each other advice.

Now don't get me wrong, I love my girl friends. But in all honesty, that advice can be dead off because we're always trying to read between the lines for things that might not exist in the first place. It's in our nature and we do it rather without thinking about it. But at the same time, it's not accurate. Just because he texted you "Merry Christmas" does not mean that he wants you to have his babies. I'm just sayin'

I'm pretty sure the world would be a happier place if we all stopped trying to see more than what actually exists. My guy friends will impart such knowledge. As will my married girl friends. They have been there and done that and are willing to share their no-drama ways with you. And my guy friends? It's the only straight advice I can ever get.

Girl friends are great for all sorts of advice and are available post-haste during a break up and to celebrate your milestones with you. They're even good with a little perspective about relationships and telling you that you deserve better. But if you're trying to read between the lines, it's best you don't and go the straight-forward route.

And that's it for me. Signing off. Have a great Thanksgiving, my Canadian Friends :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Every Kid Should Join a Choir


Current Mood: Full from lunch (beans on toast is not daily fare around here for lunch)

Current Song: You Can Never Hold Back Spring by Tom Waits

A couple of weeks ago, I went with some friends, and Zoyo to see the Vancouver Chamber Choir as they prepare for their tour of Asia. Now most of you know, that I sing. And most of you even know that I've been in choirs since we pretty much came to Canada. For a long time, I was with VIMYC and we've had some fab opportunities to sing (including for a peace concert for the Dalai Lama!) Being in a cavernous church listening to a professional choir got me thinking about how much music teaches us about life. People usually exhalt the virtues of having your child join a sports team. I think it's equally valuable to have your child join a choir or an ensemble of some sort.

And no, we're not social outcasts. In fact, every choir I've ever been is is really good looking! Here's what I learned about life and relationships and work from singing with wonderful people.

Communication is key! Whether you're communicating with your conductor as he waves his or her arms around frantically or whether you have to listen to other parts to find where your cue is, communication is absolutely key to performing a piece well emotionally and musically. If you suddenly stop watching the conductor, the whole thing falls apart at the seams.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! There are just too many times when groups or individuals don't come prepared, not having memorized or at the very least read through a piece. This holds everyone else back while we all have to wait for them to play catch up. If you don't want to be called out on it, you have to do your work ahead of time.

If you're going to make a mistake, make it good and loud! Want to screw up? May as well do it royally. It's the only way to learn from your mistakes (that is NOT an A sharp!). One of my conductors said that rather than hiding the fact that you haven't the foggiest about what's going on, ask and it shall be clarified. And finally, sing it wrong, so it can be fixed.

Back up your people. When you're in a choir, you work in a group. If one of yours has a solo, the rest have to sing their parts well, even if they are in the background. We all rely on each other to get things done.

No one part is more important than another. Whether it's sopranos trilling high notes or altos singing colour notes or basses hovering somewhere around the very depths of the bass clef, all parts are equally as important. When one drops out, you feel it. And you need all 4 or 5 or 6 parts to make the machine work.

Choir or orchestra or theatre is about forming relationships that rely on more than just one facet of communication. It's about reading cues, hearing the right moment to enter or exit and elevating relationships to a whole other level.

And this is why every kid should join a choir. And don't worry, they won't nerd out :)

Peace out people!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Admitting is the First Step: Yes! I am a Writer!


Current Mood: Bit on the sleepy side. Long, fun, night.

Current Song: Tidal by Imogen Heap.

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to go and see Margaret Atwood's reading of her new book, The Year of the Flood. I have never been to a reading before, and I'll blog more about it later. I went with a friend, Michael, and one of his lovely friends.

We stopped by a Starbucks afterward for a quick cup, and got to know each other a bit better. In the process, as we talked about writing, and books, I got the question, "Oh! So you're a writer?"

I fumbled. I "um"ed and "ah"ed around. There was a "well, I...uh...." in there somewhere, until Michael spoke up and said, "Yes, she is a writer."

I started thinking about the episode earlier this morning, and was trying to figure out why it is so hard for me to say that I am, in fact, a writer. It's not that I care much about what other people think of me. If you know me well enough, you'll know I've never half cared what people say/think of who I am and what I do. I don't fear boxes either. I live in the boxes, somewhat with my love of all things orderly and alphabetical.

The hardest part is connecting with myself and admitting it to myself. The words feel funny on my tongue..."I am a writer...I am a writer....I am a writer." I am going to have a difficult time with this new acknowledged part of myself that is quickly forming into something of substance. I don't know when it happened, but it's happening.

Admitting is the first step. The rest is just good grammar :)

Hope everyone had a fab weekend. Enjoy the dying sunlight while you can :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Knowing When to Walk Away


Current Mood: Feeling claustrophobic. Must get out of here soon.

Current Song: Strawberry Swing by Coldplay

Dear people. I feel like I have to blog this out. It's an idea that has been brewing in my head for some days now and I just felt like writing it out. This is my attempt at personalizing this blog a bit more (don't worry, no sob stories). I think one of the biggest things that I've struggled with in my life is knowing when to walk away from a situation.

I've grown up with my environment constantly changing around me (more so, than most people). In that environment, attachment is hard to come by. You hang on for dear life to anything and anyone that will stay with you. Oft, there are no guarantees. As I grew up in Canada - thankfully, a much steadier environment now - I've had to contend with the fact that sometimes I hang on to things that probably need a bit of letting go.

Being the solid, logical creature that I am, I like to weigh out my options. Someone once told me a story about an entrepreneur that only enters or exits situations if they pose a 3 to 1 ratio. He only enters business deals that offer him 3 benefits to one risk. I think it's a good way to go. I've only recently started using this strategy to figure out when I need to walk away.

It's usually even more difficult if it's something you care about. As much as I hate hokey sayings, sometimes you have to let it go, even if you love it. Sometimes it is about more respect for yourself to know what's good for you. Consider that benefit number 1.

It's an everyday kind of lesson for me and one that hopefully will keep me mobile in my life, always moving forward. For now, we continue to learn as we go, and trust the process in the meantime.

My question to you, dear readers is: How do you make strides to walk away when you have to?

Okay, out I get. Will write again soon :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lessons on Time we can Learn from Prufrock


Current Mood: Moving on to the next thing, post haste

Current Song: Daffodils by Malia F. Erik Truffaz

I had time this weekend to think about time. And I missed reading poetry, so I pulled out my favourite poem and read it. I'm always inspired by T.S. Eliot's "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock". I must have looked at it a thousand times over the course of many years. Here is my favourite passage.

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

I've always remember this passage and it always makes me think of the preciousness of time. This seems to be a bit of a roundabout way of saying that time is of value. Your own time and the times that others so willingly give to you. I think time is a matter of respect as much as anything.

Prufrock, poor man, is a regrettable character who fails to take action, thinking himself half fool, half dispensible (and a bit obtuse). I would only hope that the rest of us make good use of our time, be it to meet with others, to spend it working or whatever else. Time, which we don't have plenty of, contrary to popular belief is something we will always need more of. Best not to waste it.

Just a monday afternoon thought process, if you will.

Will write again soon, perhaps of more interesting things. Happy Monday!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hey Pretty Boy! You Need a Nerdy Girl!


Current Mood: Accomplished (finally finished an article that's been hanging over my head for days!)

Current Song: Poker Face by Lady Gaga

A brief encounter with a fellow blogger and brazen careerist about the virtues of nerdy women got me to thinking about my own nerdiness. As one of many, I am dedicated this blog post to extolling the virtues of cool nerds (like me). I think everyone should date a nerd at least once in their life. Here are my reasons why you might benefit from the underrated and understated, yet oh so cool nerdy girl!

1. We are well-versed in something - It's not all style, no substance with us. Whether we're versed in the art of the PS2, have read every single classic imaginable or love the Simpsons, we have an interest other than weekend bar hops. We might have large collection of vintage tshirts or records or bottle caps! We're good at what we do too and will regale you with entertaining stories or at the very least, quote TV characters to make you laugh ("Welcome to Itchy and Scratchy Land; Where nothing could possibli go wrong. Possibly go wrong. That's the first thing that's ever gone wrong!")

2. We value relationships - In highschool, we weren't popular. We didn't have a boyfriend every other week and we certainly didn't go around the block any number of times. We've watched from afar for many years, and we think we understand it. We won't drop our lives to if you pay us a little attention (we're too secure for that now). But we will value what time we have with you, and trust me, we're pretty entertaining.

3. We are NOT boring - Most of us have a lot to say. And a lot of it is not obscure. We throw in the occasional trekkie reference, maybe, but on the whole, we're thoughtful and sincere and are down with a lively conversation or debate anytime. We're far from boring, because we enjoy all manner of different activities from Jazz festivals to Farmers Markets. Some of us are even athletic (who'da thunk it!).

4. You can take us home to mom! - When we were younger, we spent a lot of time with our families, and so we value family. You'll never have to think twice about letting us meet your mother. We're quirky, but we can tone it down. Besides our parents taught us how to respect adults and so we know to help clear the table or to talk to your mom about where she got that vase. Trust us, she'll like us!

5. We're in it for the long haul! - We don't like dating a million people at once. We find it energy zapping and kind of tedious. We won't step out on you. We know we've got a good thing going. It took us so long to find you, so we won't just cast you by the wayside.

So here it is. On behalf of all the nerdy women out there, give a nerd a chance! We're pretty awesome and make for some interesting conversation :) So go on, then!

That's it from me. I'll write again soon :) Happy monday everyone!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Art of Closure


Current Mood: Back to the grind *grumble grumble*

Current Song: Butterscotch Highs by Marc Robillard

So I'm back from Vacation and this is my first day getting back to business. As you know, I've always thought of fall as a good time to start things. It goes back to my school days I think, where new classes, new books and new clothes all come around at this time. I've decided to extend the same philosophy to autumn this year, despite the fact that I'm not going back to school.

But first, a few things to take care of.

We all know that when we are trying to move on, there are some things that we need to close the door on. Whether that's a job, a relationship, some life transition, in order to progress, some things must go by the way side.

This year, I will mark the end of a rather difficult transitional period in my life. There is no particular reason why, but I think I've reached the end point. Though I say it was difficult, many good things came of it: a graduate degree, lots of great trips, friends. I don't discount these things and will carry them with me.

I realize for myself, that the trick is to listen to your gut. You'll know that something has reached its natural end, when it makes you feel differently to engage with it. You might not love your job anymore or seeing that friend just doesn't make you feel happy and refreshed afterwards. Listening to my gut is something I've learned over time. I'm generally quite intuitive, but when my head cuts in, I tend to listen more to that.

The goal this fall is to file away some of those things that will allow me to take the next steps in fulfilling my own aspirations. Hopefully this works out. I'll let you know how it goes :)

Okay, best to get on to some work. Will write again soon!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Calgary Pictorial


Current Mood: exhausted

Current Song: inteha by Jagjit Singh.

Sorry I haven't written for a while guys. I just got back from Calgary. Despite my initial apprehension to go, I had a really good time and have gained a new appreciation for trucks, and wide roads and flat land. Not to mention, the no-tax awesomeness.

Instead of going on about the trip, I thought I'd share some pictures with you folks. Enjoy!

This is the Buddha from my Aunt's kitchen (which I will one day pilfer).

Rocky Mountains on the way to Banff (I rode up front in massive truck!)

Barbecue fires with clearly too much butane or whatever they use...

My cousin's stupid sense of humour (refer to previous post about boys being gross)...

Calgary city lights by night, with no tripod and a moving car...and my shakey hands. It's a cool picture anyway.
Anyways folks, hope you enjoyed the pictorial. Will write again, and soon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

5 Things I Learned in Alberta


Current Mood: Tired (and annoyed. I blame it on the bad dream).

Current Song: Paparazzi by Lady Gaga

Been here just over a week now. I'm getting used to the Albertan pace of life (which I don't really know I would take to in the long term). There's been a lot of eating and baking and lounging. Also too much shopping. I think I've reached my quota for the year. So here are 5 things that I learned while here:

1. It is never too early (or too late) for a barbecue. Eating barbecued meat at 11 in the morning, or eating it at midnight is apparently, not out of bounds really. In fact KFC is daily fare for breakfast for some around here. I miss vegetables.

2. Boys are smelly and weird even if you're not 5 years old. As you know, we don't have men in our house. Over here there are three tall boys who eat a lot, and subsequently create a lot of commotion. They are the ones eating said KFC for breakfast. Remind me not to have children.

3. The driving alone would kill me here. I'm scared of the roads here. I have no idea how I would navigate my way with fields on all 4 sides. Plus a sign that says "Maximum 110 km" is not my friend. I drive like an old lady and I like narrow Vancouver roads, and traffic.

4. One Tax Rules! If I buy a pair of pants for 10 bucks (as if!). It won't cost me 500 extra dollars in tax. Take that BC! In your face, Gordon Campell's harebrained HST idea!

5. I don't think they're finished building this place. There is a lot of land, and most of it is flat. Last week I went to a mall that was literally in the middle of nowhere. There were acres of land, and suddenly a Home Sense came out of nowhere and slapped us in the face. It was a bit of a weird experience actually.

I'm here for a some more time. I shall report back, and hopefully when I get home, I'll have some fun pictures to share with you all. Anyway, I'm off to go lounge around for a while. Until next week!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Be Brazen With Me and Brazen Careerist


Current Mood: pretty awake

Current Song: Midnight in her Eyes by Joe Henry

Hello from Calgary! We've been here a few days, and mostly we've shopped. I even got a nice belt, so now I don't have to hold up my pants with rope! (Score!!).

Today I'm writing on behalf of my friends at Brazen Careerist. As a Gen Y (aged 19 to 30), we are increasingly managing our careers and reputations online (how NOT to have your boss see drunken pictures of last Friday night). With the advent of things like facebook and twitter, there is a need to create a sense of community. Being online is simultaneously isolating and overwhelming.

I joined Brazen a few months ago and have found a wonderful sense of community, with the staff and friends. I even totally got a feature blog on there! The launch promises some excellent features including a personal feed and the chance to create a professional resume. But beyond all that, you can connect with people from all walks of life (i've connected with fellow humanitarians, book lovers, writers and of course music lovers).

So whether you're job hunting, or need to connect and network with folks in your industry, come over and join Brazen. I'd love to more Canadians on there too! Come on over and join the Brazen network. We're all in it together :)

Until later this week, ciao!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Talking About Generations


Current Mood: Awake, surpringly early

Current Song: Barely Listening by Pilate

Two posts in one week! Miracle of Miracles! It's a short one today.

Just wanted to let you know that I was asked to guest post for a site called Talking about Generations - a blog that is interested in intergenerational behaviours in and out of the work place - a little while back. Today my post appeared on the site.

You can read it here.

Thanks to Ines and her team for giving me the space to write.

That's all kids! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Look Ma! No Car!


Current Mood: bit rushy

Current Song: Dirty King by The Cliks

Terribly sorry for not having blogged in such a very long time. August has been a bit of a whack job and I've been out and about and trying to do things every day for the last couple of weeks. As you know, I'm going to Alberta until the beginning of September, for what my family deems a well deserved holiday (I am yet to be convinced of its deservedness). Nevertheless, I'm off in about 2 days (packing yet to commence).

Yesterday, my sister and I got up to some trouble and tried out the Canada Line for the first time. It's the new line of the skytrain system in Vancouver that now links Vancouver International Airport to Downtown Vancouver. It is apparently, the first of its kind in Canada (woo Olympics for expediting a rapid transit system and simultaneously burdening us with debt!). It's such a lot of hassle to get to the airport, given the state of the narrowly crowded roads going there. And parking is even worse and exorbitantly pricey.

So I thought I'd share some pics of the journey, given that I'm taking it again in two days to go to the Airport, which I love so. Here goes!

We begin at Waterfront Station. Look! It's showing the time the train arrives, just like in London (Only the station doesn't smell like pee)...

And now we have a view of the Fraser River as we zoom on past. The train is underground for the most part through downtown and then goes back above ground once further south.

They even have self-check in along the stations for those heading in the direction of the Airport. Very convenient if you're in a rush or don't want to bother with people or something.

Okay, so this last one doesn't have anything to do with the Canada Line. But we had a craving for sushi, so we went to Kimono on West Pender and Granville after our escapades. We used to go here in ye olde choir days so it was great.
Okay folks, I'm off to do some packing (now, where did I put that suitcase...?). I shall blog from Calgary with pics, hopefully of exciting adventures (hah!). And I shall see you back in Vancouver in Early September! Go Team!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

What If I Am Good Enough? Fear of Success


Current Mood: meh.

Current Song: Great Expectations by Elbow (great band)

So I've been away for a couple of weeks. Suffice it to say that I shouldn't ever stop blogging because the ideas have been brewing in my head since I hit the pillow post-blogathon. Anyway, August has been brutal already and I don't expect it's going to improve significantly on any front. But onwards and upwards right?

Last weekend was the long weekend, and when my family is around one another for prolonged periods of time, we suddenly turn into psychiatrists. This time it was my turn to play patient. I've always wanted to write a novel and having done lots of writing in the last year, my family decided to ask me why I haven't started on this said novel as yet. I thought about it it. For a while too!

It turns out it's not that fear of failure really that's been holding me back. Rather it's the ugly closeted brother we call the "fear of success". It sounds stupid to most of you I'm sure, but I think one leads to the other.

For most of my life, I've held myself to my own expectations (and subsequently extremely high standards). Nobody else really has I don't think. I'm afraid that I will write and I will succeed, and suddenly people will expect me to fit their standard.

Over the last week I've thought more and more about it. If I'm true to my own standards, it would be folly not to do it. If for nobody, then for myself. I would hate to look back at the end of my life and have a list of "shoulda's." It's likely more disappointing to let myself down than it is to think that I might reach the pinnacle and then veer out of control.

It's another trust issue I think. I'm just going to have to learn to put faith in myself and my abilities to handle whatever it is that comes my way: success, failure, hell, high water, locusts, bad makeup....

So I'm happy to report, I've started writing the novel. You can all shut up about it now :)

Will report on this event periodically as the mists clear. Until next week, happy week!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Post 49: As they Say in Swahili, Asante Sana (Thank You Very Much)


My second ever Blogathon is now complete! I am happy, and tired. Most of all I'm just glad I can stop typing (this makes you never want to touch a computer ever. again. )
There are loads of people to thank this year (I'm not linking because I'm exhausted. Go to post number 2 to figure out who they are).

Thanks first off to Rebecca for rallying all the Vancouver bloggers together. We couldn't have done it without you.

Thanks to my fellow bloggers: Gary, Duane, Raul, Barbara and Catherine (and others) for spurring me on.

Thanks to the folks at for putting together such a great event and providing all of the support we needed for 24 hours around the world. I know you were busy. Thanks to Pico for keeping me awake and "monitoring"

Special thanks to my Posse: Michael, Nosh, Julie, Mel, Jen and all of the others who made a point of dropping by to give words of encouragement and to suggest topics. Wouldn't have done it without your support.

A big gooey thanks to Mum and Zoyo for the food and for hanging around for way past your bedtimes.

Thanks too, to everyone at Tumaini for being awesome. I hope we started something today that may carry on in the future.

Remember folks, there is still time to donate and show your support.

I am taking a very much needed rest from blogging for a couple of weeks. You have plenty to wade through for that time. Signing Off for now!
Ciao for Niao!

Post 48: Morning Approaches


I'm sure we're all out of steam at this point. One more call out to people who haven't had the opportunity to donate to the Tumaini Children's Project. Please do so! It's a great project and they work really hard to help HIV/ AIDS orphans in Kenya. Remember, you can donate through Paypal on the site as well :)

As the sunrise approaches, I snuck outside to take a picture.

Post 47: The Well Runneth Dry - A Meme


I had to resort to these survey thingies to get me through the last coupla posts. So here goes:

1. What is your middle name? I don't have one!

2. What colour is your mailbox? I don't have one. We have a mail slot. It's gold.

3. Do You have to travel over a bridge to get home? No, not normally.

4. What colour is your bedroom? Sunshine yellow. It's a nice colour actually.

5. Do you know anyone with the same ringtone as you? Unless someone has "I put a Spell on you", no.

6. What do you do first thing in the morning? Normally, brush my teeth. Today, go to bed!

7. Who was your kindergarten teacher? Honestly, I don't remember at all. Guess she can't have been all that memorable.

8. Are you taller than your mom? Yes, by 1 inch!

9. Does anything on your body hurt? Yes, my back is killing me!

10. What brand are the pants you're wearing right now? I'm in scrubs that say SFU

11. what is the closest green object to you? the back cover of the Margaret Atwood book by my bedside.

12. Ever broken a pinata? No. I haven't, strangely.

13. Where were you for the last 24 hours? fittingly, I was blogging. Still am!

14. How many pairs of shoes do you own? Oh too many.

15. How do you usually sleep? On my stomach.

16. If you were in a circus, what kind of performance would you do? Ehm. Trampoline?

17. What was the last hot drink you had? I had a coffee 23 hours ago.

18. How many have you had the cold/ flu in the last year? Probably twice.

19. What was the last thing you bought? cupcake shells I think.

20.Where does your family name come from? India I think.

Post 46: My New Appreciation for Dilbert


When I was a kid, I hated Dilbert Cartoons. Probably because I didn't understand them. I didn't realize how relevant they were when you started up in the workforce. I even have a handy-dandy Dilbert calendar on my wall. This month it says "Does anyone have a question designed to increase my workload for your entertainment?" Clever.

Here's one from the website. I think we've all been there!

Post 45: 5 Things to Do After a Breakup


It's late (or early) and you're going to have to start forgiving me my spelling mistakes. It's some small miracle that I'm awake and still coherent actually! And you've all been fabulous this whole time. Much love.

I was speaking to a friend about breakups. She recently went through a really harrowing one and it got me to thinking about what we do after/ or in an attempt to free ourselves from emotional ties. So here are 5 things to do after a breakup.

1. Cry - You may as well do it now because it won't really be all that handy later. Get it out of your system, so you can move onto a different place in the emotional spectrum.

2. Cut your hair - It's odd, but hair carries so much attachment along with it. The first thing I'd do is cut mine off (and I haven't got long hair). It helps and makes you feel newer and less dented.

3. Clean house - Throw stuff out. Get new clothes. Donate some old furniture. It lifts weight off you, and it's a good opportunity to go get new stuff!

4. Visit - Though the first instinct would be to be a total shut-in and shun any company. It's probably the worst thing you can do. Best to get up and visit people. If you're afraid of talking about the breakup or you've talked it to death already, just politely turn the topic away. I'm pretty sure people would be understanding about it.

5. Do Something New - Do something you've never done. Or take up something that you dropped. It'll get your head in a different space and will keep you from brooding (too much).

That's my five. It takes some time, but like everything, nothing is permanent. This too, shall pass :)

Post 44: Risking Someone's Life


Next idea post came from Noorin in London. She asks: Have you ever risked someone else's life.

My answer I think would have to be no. Unless you count my erratic driving methodology, then yes. Seriously, I have no sense of my car. Watch out. I think that I'm relatively careful with other people's presence when I'm around (not that I'm extremely dangerous as a human being or anything).

I do know of some stories of people who have nearly died because of someone else's foolishness. At one point, it involved a drunk driver who took his child and a friend for a drive and knowing full well that he was in shape to be operating a vehicle at all. There was much swirving and they barely made it home in one piece.

Not only is risking someone else's life incredible irresponsible, it's also very selfish. Not that i'm condoning risking your own life, but that's one's own issue. If your involve other people, you have no consideration for them at all. It then becomes a philosophical issue, which might be too complicated to discuss here. It all does come back to the sanctity of life. Whether you value your own life enough to consider others.

Post 43: My One and Only Love


I'm a big jazz fan. I stumbled upon this song by John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman some time ago and it's one of my favourites. Luscious voice and gorgeous manoeuvering of that sax! Enjoy!

Post 42: Marry a Man with No Charm


My mother and I were having a conversation today somewhere between the frenzied posting extravaganza and we discovered something strange. Men who are charming, and sweet talkers often have nothing behind them. Generally, in the pattern of my life, it's men with no prospects, or future or plans of any sort. They manage to talk their way through the next day and then the next. I think it stops at the charm. Many a time I've thought that I liked someone only to find out that there's nothing else of substance going on in their lives.

It's disappointing on so many levels.

Lucky me that there haven't been very many of them. It's still disappointing nonetheless.

So our new plan is to marry men with no charm to them whatsoever. I figure if you're trying to compensate for the fact that you don't drip honey with every word, then perhaps there will be something else there. Perhaps you'll have been too busy planning out your future, securing your prospects and building equity to bother with the poetics of verbage. Charm, like looks, will eventually fade and become less appealing when people discover that the lights are on, but nobody is home. If you can't hold up your end of the bargain after that, we're in a bit of trouble.

It's not exactly the most secure plan on this plan, but then again, what is?

Post 41: Everything Changes at Midnight


Just a hand at some description. Was feeling it.

The clock stumbles towards sunrise.
The air tastes different, moist from the past day of summer rains
There is extra bass in the song that plays.
I've never heard that note before
Must be new.
Orange glows and grey shadows mix
At one parallel, then perpendicular, then intermingled
It makes sense for this hour
Where everything changes
Until the light breaks up the noise.

Don't forget to give to TCP!

Post 40: 5 Things I Would Be if I Wasn't


Woohoo! 40th post. This is most certainly auspicious in some way when all I want to do is fall asleep. Thought I'd make another 5 of list. So here's a list of 5 things I might be if I wasn't who I am today. We're thinking occupations here. Anything else at 1:30 in the morning is just too difficult.

1. Poet - Well I write, but I'd wear billowy skirts and let my hair run free and curly as it wanted.

2. Doctor - Given that I'm alright with blood and such, I would have made a great doctor. Too bad I hate chemistry and physics.

3. Art Historian - I admire their vast knowledge of all things beautiful. If ever there was something to aspire to!

4. Architect - That would be so cool. To leave a physical mark of your work on this earth for generations to see. How amazing.

5. A Pianist - I've always wanted to learn how to play. I would love to one day have become a concert pianist. Just to be that intimately acquainted with an instrument that's not my voice would be great. An extension of who I am I suppose!

Post 39: Neruda, Another One of My Favourites


I love the Darkness of some of Pablo Neruda's poems. There's a shadow to his love poems that I appreciate. This particular one is my favourite


I do not love you as if you were a salt rose, or a topaz,
Or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
In secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms,
But carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love, a certain solid fragrance
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride.
so I love you because I know no other way.

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest, is my hand
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep

Post 38: Rumi: Your Fragrance


I'm not much for Rumi and sufi poetry on a daily basis. It's too floaty floaty for me and I have to be in the right state of mind to truly enjoy it. Last year, though, I had a chance to sing with the National Choir and we sang a piece of Rumi's poetry transcribed to music.
It was arranged by Ed Henderson (of Vancouver Chamber Choir fame) and translated by Coleman Barks. It's stuck with me for such a long time now. Thought I'd share.

Your Fragrance

Your fragrance fills the meadow
Your mouth appears in a red anemone.
But when those reminders leave,
My own lips open
And in whatever I say
I hear you.

Pretty right?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Post 37: Cool Videos


If I had ANY sense of extraversion, I would totally do this!

Post 36: Honey Tops


My sister, Zoyah is an extraordinary baker. She just came home from work and baked a cake. It was crazy. I'm pretty lucky to have such goodies around my house. It's also a wonder that I'm not 200 pounds more than I currently am.

She has a blog called Honey Tops, where she showcases all of her yummy vittles. She's new to the blogging world, so I thought I'd give her some space on the blog. Her latest creation is below. Something she threw together. Inspired by Mum's pants from early in the day.

If I'm around for Blogathon next year, I'll bring some in :)

Post 35: Hearts Vs Minds


Ever meet those people who follow their hearts their entire lives? If something tells them to suddenly move to Boston, that's what they do. If they don't feel right about something, they don't tend to do it.

And then there are the counterparts who think things to death. Every situation is assessed to the very nub and then some. Every detail is thought through to the very end.

I'm the latter of these folks. Like I've said before, I haven't a spontaneous bone in my body. I think things through to the very end. Sometimes it's a bit of trouble actually because I fail to take those opportunities that may take me along a path I haven't determined. It all comes back to my controlfreakishness. But I learn as I go.

Luckily, I have an uncanny sense of intuition. It's not really my heart and I don't follow my emotions that way. It's a gut thing really, and it's supplemental.

How about you? Are you a heart-follower or a mind-follower?

Post 34: The Gods Are Bowling


We had a thunderstorm earlier. My friend Nosh, who has been checking in all day felt a bit sorry for me staring at this computer screen so she sent me some pictures of the sunset during the thunderstorm in North Vancouver.

North Van is good for something eh Nosh ;)

Post 33: 5 Most Underrated Musicians


I really do love this whole list thing. It's making life so much easier. Although I should probably save some for later. If I get incoherent, I'll just put up pictures later :)

1. Imogen Heap - I love her music. I don't think she's mainstream enough. She may be more famous in the UK (her home town). Have a listen to her music. Some of you will probably recognize "Hide and Seek"

2. Marc Robillard - He's Canadian. I first heard him on Bravo Videos and I loved his songs. He's got this raspy thing happening. Totally worth a listen!

3. Ron Sexsmith - He's so fantastic. I think most of you will remember his song from a few years ago called "Whatever it takes", but he's worked with so many people including Coldplay on a song called "Gold in them Hills". If Coldplay likes him, you should totally check him out.

4. Wintersleep - Again, heard on Bravo Videos and they have a great sound. I believe they were at Pemberton last year. Sad to have missed them, but they're fantastic.

5. Tom Waits - He's old school, and a total crank, but I think he has this heavy feeling of history to his music. Even though some of it sounds like Sea Shanties. I can't help but listen to "Alice" on winter nights when it's raining.

Post 32: 5 Most Memorable Books


I'm dedicating this post to my friend Michael, who has been checking in all day and shares my love for books and reading and all things literary. This 5 of list thing is really working for me. Here is a list of the 5 most memorable books in my library.

1. An Equal Music by Vikram Seth - amazing story of lost and found love and how circumstances that change can impact a relationship into the future. Plus music is the background for it, which I love.

2. The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje - There is this fantastic part of the novel that describes the different kinds of desert winds. It was the one thing that caught my attention and I remember writing an essay about it. I will forever remember that passage.

3. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - I read this when I was 10 and it was formative in how literature could be written. Dickens is a bit drawn out even for an adult, but I especially will remember Ms. Havisham's character in her wedding dress.

4. Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels - A fantastic novelist and exquisitely written. Such a sense of history and loss in that book. Another one of those novels I read on entrance into Uni (and another Michael and I read at the same time, along with Number 2!)

5. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry - I felt like I was hanging in the balance the entire way through this novel. It's simultaneously devastating and beautiful and gives you this panoramic scope of India during the time of Indira Gandhi. The very end of the novel is etched into my memory forever

Post 31: I Shaved My Legs Upto the Knees For This? Expectations, Men and Divorce


If you don't already know by now, you've probably at least come to the conclusion that I am a child of divorce. My parents got divorced many years ago and I've been raised by my mum (an awesome woman) ever since. Well, there's no more raising to do, but you know what I mean. She's a super lady too.

I have to say though, that as a child of divorce, you take on some interesting perspectives of the opposite sex, some of which is tempered through the lens of a divorce. Now, I'm not going to say I hate all men or any of that malarkey. It's not nice. I have more male friends than female friends and they are gems. I am quicker however, to find faults in relationships.

Yes, that's right. I can get judgey. I think it's easier for women who are divorced or the children of women who are divorced to be harder on men. Some might stem for the need or the necessity of independence. And sometimes it might just come out of the fact that it's been a let-down so far. It's just much easier to write off a flaw than it is to look past it.

I'm perfectly happy where I am and I am slowly (veeerrrry slowly) learning to give love a chance. I don't want to miss it really if/when I happen upon it.

Post 30: I Now Pronounce You a Completely Different Person


I recently went to a wedding of a dear friend of mine. We attended the actual wedding ceremony (Known in Muslim religion as the Nikkah). It's the signing of the marriage contract and the ring ceremony. I was struck by how the bride entered as one person and left as another, changing names, and altogether identities. She is still the same wonderful sweet woman I always knew, but it set off the commitment alarm in my head.

I decided that if (and it's a pretty big IF) I do get married at some point, I want to keep my own name. Not out of any particular familial attachment to it. I feel like the name that I have earned is one that is who I am. I'm defined more by who I am as a person than my ancestral background. Not so much the "daughter of so and so" but more that girl who blogs!

I think it's grand that people want to hyphenate or change their names entirely. Good on you and more power to you of course. For me, I feel like I would lose who I am a little bit, my academic background and how people know me. I know I won't be a different person, but it might feel like that. Perhaps I just can't imagine myself in that situation.

Also I'm not bothered with the paperwork :)

Post 29: 5 Things I Love about Vancouver


Off the edge of Hermit Island. Photo Credit: me :)

Obviously, I will need to dedicate a post to Vancouver and why I love it here.

1. Rain - I love the rain. Some people will read this and think I've lost all my marbles. But I love it. It's refreshing and there is something about being blanketed in the rain that just takes everything else away in the world.

2. Waterfront - I love the Waterfront. I often go hang out there. I used to work in an office that directly looked over the waterfront. it's a gorgeous view even when you're working late into the night.

3. Green Spaces - The city has an absolute abundance of green spaces from parks to mountains. There are plenty of trails for running or biking or just going for a stroll. I like being surrounded by the urban terrain along with the natural terrain.

4. Culture - from Little India to Commercial Drive to Robson Street, Vancouver is such a mix of cultures. I love being able to just enjoy any cuisine from the world. And Vancouver is small enough that this is all accessible.

5. People - I've made this place my home for the last 17 years and I've met some of my best friends here. I think it's a fabulous city full of life :)

Post 28: Conversation Starters


My mommy totally rules. She made chinese food. And now I feel much better after having eaten it (lower back, not so good).

I wear a necklace with the map of Africa on it and it is always a conversation piece whenever I meet people. It was a present from a cousin in Africa and I've been wearing it for about 12 years now. Just the other day, I was in a cafe on Commercial Drive when an old man inquired as to my roots or why I was wearing that particular necklace. Funny thing is he bet his friend I would say I was from East Africa. Weird eh?

It's always kind of neat to have something like that's unique to who you are. You can see why Africa is so close to my heart and why I want to support the Tumaini Children's Project. I'm proud of it and gladly show it off every chance I get (Plus it's a great way to pick up guys. Not that I need the help!).

Do you have a conversation starter that people always ask you about?