清明

Qing Ming Festival/Tomb Sweeping Day.

Yesterday, I went for a walk outside with my siblings. Although this is decidedly not the best course of action considering the state of the world, the suburbs are relatively safe and spacious; we only were in contact with each other and our cameras. Since it’s spring, we absorbed the sunlight while loudly and perhaps rambunctiously snapping pictures of the cherry blossoms and other flowering plants, as well as some of dogs that barked at us.

I’ve been at home for a little over a week now, and (at least for me) I’ve fallen back into the same old routine as always. We’ve also had to tackle homeschooling with my little brother, which is a bit of a pain. Partly because he’s a bit ahead of his classmates, and partly because he is lazy and only wants to play games… of all kinds… with me… and I still have my own stuff to do. So it’s difficult, but we’ve got no choice but to get used to it. Another side effect of being at home is that I dream of high school. It makes sense, of course, but it’s kind of weird.

Anyway, I’ll take this time to remember that I went to visit the graves of my great-grandparents on my dad’s side last summer in Taipei. I did my best to be respectful and appropriate, but as always, my innermost feelings were jumbled. I found myself wondering if I’d ever have a more average reaction to death or tragedy. Then, as usual, I decide that things like this take time and experience, which can only come naturally: so why worry? There’s no way to prepare for the unknown. The best I can do is be honest with myself.

Recently I’ve also been thinking about how to be independent enough, while also being a part of a family unit. How can I maintain the identity of self that I’ve built while also being the child I’ve always been? Small issues like that are what I’m fumbling with. Sometimes I find myself unwilling to argue a point with my family that I would’ve previously been overeager to do. Similar to something I’ve thought about previously: where am I truly from? Is there one place I can tie my identity to? Some people choose a few places to define their identities, but even that’s not sufficient. I suppose that’s why I like the idea of a wanderer, or an amorphous blob that migrates with the seasons. Well, again, none of this really matters. It’s a fun little shower thinking exercise, I guess.

Alright, that’s about it for now. I’m going to gain a lot of weight at home, which is going to be great. Preparation for next winter. My little brother wants to go out and play now, so I’ll end here.

春分

Spring equinox.

So far, we’ve got 3/4 sky photos. I’m not saying that this is a problem, but it is definitely a trend that may become boring very quickly. Fortunately (or unfortunately, actually), quite a bit has happened since the last post, and quite a bit will happen in between this one and the next. We’re in a state of emergency, so school and most other things have been cut short. It’s been extremely stressful and extremely weird, but hopefully it ends well. Ends soon.

I think it’s best to try not to be too attached to anything. Sure, it’s inevitable that we can get used to things in its current state, or a current routine, but it’s also inevitable that it can disappear as quickly as when we first became accustomed to it. So it just saves a lot of unnecessary sadness to not care as much about the current state of things. I’m grateful, but I don’t expect anything. I mean also… stability is hard to come by when you’re 19.

 

惊蛰

Awakening of insects.

A picture from a botanical garden I visited late last year.

I’m not a big fan of insects. I acknowledge that they can be great, and some are pretty-looking, but for the most part I am a large coward and I am afraid of things with many legs. There’s a snow warning for today, but so far there’s only been rain and the regular surplus of wind. I didn’t even have to wear my parka.

It’s the last month before exams! I’m incredibly stressed and incredibly busy, so there’s really nothing too interesting happening besides that. Time passes quickly during the school months, but it seems even faster during the summer. I’ve been trying to carve out time to read things I like or just to draw for fun, which also passes time. My living situation has also improved so there’s less distractions and things inhibiting me from doing what I want.

I hope there’s no misconception that every post I’ll have some sort of topic or thing to report. So far I just have a few of my shower thoughts from this past month, so walking-home-from-class thoughts.

Never mind, there’s a few sparse flakes of snow drifting about right now.

Anyway, since it has been fairly warm this past week (above 0, slightly), I’ve been feeling less uncomfortable physically. Always a plus to feel like you want to go outside. I’m not really having too good of a semester though, my classes aren’t as fun or interesting and all the assignments just feel so tedious. I’m honestly enjoying my physics elective more than my studios, which Says Something.

One last thought: there’s no real escapism. Leaving a place for another doesn’t render your origin obsolete. At some point or another, you’ll have to come back to the beginning, if even just to take a look.

雨水

Rain water.

The sunset yesterday.

 

There hasn’t been much rain here, since it’s usually in the negatives. I woke up the other day to the sound of persistent water dripping, and I thought it was rain… which would be something I’m used to. After opening my blinds, I noticed that it was actually just the melting snow and ice.

I’m halfway through my reading break, and I can’t say I’ve been the most productive. I haven’t been unproductive, either, but then again, I tend to feel unsatisfied regardless of how objectively productive I’ve been. Whether I’ve written, painted, edited, etc, I still feel unproductive. This is probably because I either haven’t finished the project, it’s not “perfect”, I haven’t received criticism or praise, or just because I know I made it and therefore it can’t really amount to much. I wonder how I’ll ever compensate for that last reason, though. Well, anyway, I’ll never run out of work to do.

Recently I’ve been thinking about reading. As a little kid, I was a typical voracious reader who had read pretty much everything in their library that was their genres of choice (I liked historical fiction and sci-fi and spooky things). I read extremely quickly and had a pretty good memory, which is why I was good at writing and story-making in school. As a result of constantly reading, I was always living in a world which was not mine. I would live in borrowed realities, existing mostly in my head and not in real life. But then I entered high school and stopped reading for some reason. I did read manga (and not all useless fluff, although there’s a fair amount of that), and realized I liked movies… so then I watched a lot of movies. Except they were mostly Japanese or Chinese movies. I have no idea why. Anyway, I went to the library last week and got two books, and finished them in two days. Which was nice, because that meant A) I still read fast, and B) I should get more books. It’s a nice way to fast-forward a few hours, since when I read I kind of don’t exist anywhere except for between the pages (if it’s a good book).

The book I read most recently was One Hundred Years of Solitude. A quote from it was present in a Chinese drama I watched last month, which made me curious. The copy in my school library is very old, and very shady (there’s a bunch of notes, marks, and smears that look like dried blood? in it), and also thicker than I thought. I referred to the family tree in the beginning of the book multiple times, up to the very end. It was a very interesting book, and I’m not half as wise as I need to be to comment any further on it. But anyone older than me should read it. It’s wild.

I’ve also thought about adding books in other languages to my (not really existent) reading list, but I realize that that’s a bit ore time-consuming… and brain-energy-consuming, and I should really save some of that for my assignments.

So, nothing too interesting these past few weeks, just some more mild introspection. Hopefully it’ll be less cold next time.

Until then.

立春

Beginning of spring.

The little white dot is Venus, I think.

In an attempt to write more often, I’ve decided to post on the solar terms. Since I’m not super knowledgeable about dates or the history behind old calendars, I’ll be limited to writing about my personal observations. Which is pretty much what I usually do. I’m predicting that I’m going to end up posting within one day of the actual observed term in EST/EDT, and ramble for a few paragraphs every half month until coming to the conclusion that I have nothing exceptionally interesting or new to offer. I’m of the belief that writing something is better than writing nothing… thus I’ve decided to embark on this posting schedule experiment.

Although the name of this term is the beginning of spring, it’s still very Winter here in Toronto. There’s a snow and ice alert for the next few days, and the wind still freezes my face after thirty minutes outside. Back home there’s also an extraordinary surplus of snow, too. There seems to be an abundance of coldness around the world recently (interpret that as you’d like), and I wish we could fast-forward just a little bit. To warmer weather, to spring. Personally, I just think it’d be nice. I don’t favour one season over another, aside from a small preference for summer simply because of my birthday.

Speaking of celebrated days, Chinese New Year was a few weeks ago. It’s the second one I spent apart from my family. Holidays spent away from home makes it feel like it never happened, and I lose my sense of time. How long has it been since I sat at home? When was the last time I saw this person? Do they feel the same loss of time? I can’t tell if it’s been a long time or a short time. My sense of self has always been fairly stable, so at the very innermost, I feel as if I haven’t changed a day since becoming conscious of my existence. If I haven’t changed at all, then how can I tell the passage of time? It just seems like everything else is moving forwards quickly, and I am being swept up in it. Not as an omniscient observer, but more like a little creature in a boat, holding on for dear life.

Well, that’s not really a bad thing. It would be unfortunate if I was the type of person who had a specific goal in life, striving hard to reach it, battling the strong currents. As it is, I’m free to wander as I wish… as long as I don’t fall off the boat and drown.

Anyway! It’s the start of a new year. Technically, the year can start whenever you want it to. If you reserve goal-making for January 1st, or your birthday, or the Monday of the week, you’ll never really start. So I’ll start this year on February 4th, in the space between classes where usually I would be grocery-shopping.

That’s all I have for now. Will report back in half a month.

Until then.

 

 

2020

A bit of a more personal (if that’s possible) post.

10 years of New Years’ Resolutions. It started as a grade 4 school assignment, and then became a sort of mini-tradition for myself. I would do a year in summary the day before New Year’s, then a post on resolving to be a better me. In the beginning I’d write things that I though I was supposed to write, like eating more veggies or improve in a certain school subject, or silly things like turning ten, which was a mostly inevitable thing. The last two years though, I haven’t really been keeping up with this tradition. Instead, I wrote little reminders that were either extremely vague or extremely practical, and were also applicable to Life in General Always, not just for this specific year as a goal.

Also, I’m the annoying type of person who doesn’t believe in Being a Better Person or any sort of improvement since I think that people can’t really change. Their personality and most inner, deep-rooted ways of thinking never change, despite how they may choose to display their beliefs and thoughts. So why should I bother pretending I can be a Good Person if I’ve never quite been able to truly be one? Plus, no one seems to be able to agree on what makes a truly good person.

Anyway, pessimism aside, 2019 was an eventful year. The summer itself felt like 3 separate years, and truthfully, I have no idea how I got here alive. I stayed in many different places, each place for less than four months, and met many new people. I hope I get to go on more adventures this year. Being busy is a lot better than being sad. The only thing is, this year I had to say goodbye more than previous years. It’s something I always was afraid of as a child. It’s also probably something that will never get easier, but that’s not going to stop me from adventuring.

Let’s check last year’s reminders:

  1. Remember what is important to you.
  2. Anything you do, do to the best of your ability at that time.
  3. Take your vitamins.

I do take relatively more vitamins than I did before, so I guess that’s a start. And in a way, some of my 2010 resolutions fit me better now. Specifically the cooking and eating ones, and living until my next birthday. As juvenile and silly it may seem, you never know what could happen.

One more reminder:

  • There’s a lot out there, and you’re not an outsider to it all.

Here’s a video I made this semester with my friend: self-directed.

how long is three months, really?

I never really considered myself a “family person” when I was a kid. I don’t think I was even a “people person”: I was usually reading or playing games or otherwise involved in some other imaginative realm that didn’t always involve another person. I was still a regular kid, though. I had friends at school during recess, I had friends at my neighbourhood playground, and I had a little sister who I kind of bullied into joining my world. But partly because I moved to Canada with only my parents, and partly because I’ve been awkward from birth, I found it difficult to feel connected the older I got. Specifically, with my extended family. Outside of my parents, my siblings, and my school friends, I had no other connections. It wasn’t that no one tried to reach out, either. It was just that they were too far away, and I was too far away, and also I was an insensitive little kid who didn’t understand anything.

From the moment I reached Shanghai until the moment my uncle watched me go through the lines at the airport, I was immersed in this feeling of… probably too much of everything. Aside from Shanghai being this massive city with too many smells, sights, things, and people in general, I also had a significant number of family there. I was considered a tourist in my birthplace, while simultaneously being welcomed “home”. Suddenly, instead of being the oldest kid-adult and middle person of my small family, I was one of the babies. It was kind of weird at first, but after communicating to the best of my ability with my Shanghainese skills (which I thought were stuck at the age I stopped speaking it, AKA 5 years old), my uncles and aunts and grandparents began to re-familiarize themselves with a 19 year old kid from Canada. And I began to familiarize myself with the concept of “family”.

People that I may have viewed as acquaintances (in terms of how close we were and how often I’ve seen them in our lives) were automatically supportive and welcoming just because we were related by blood. Just because of that shared DNA, if I needed help they would help, no matter what. I could rely on people, I could go to their houses for dinner, I could go to art galleries with them… it was just so nice! It also made me realize that my parents really did have it hard in Canada. I don’t know how they did it. The difference family makes in our culture really is quite significant. Since I’m accustomed to a more Western ideology while also being kind of alone from my own experiences, this was a very startling realization.

Of course, I also saw the similarities and differences between my dad and his older brothers. That was kind of funny at first, but also when my older cousins came back as well, we began to discuss our dads and learned even more about them. I enjoyed hearing about all of it. I got to experience first hand the way they deal with things in Shanghai. Everything was completely different, even the littlest things. When my parents and siblings arrived, that’s when I was probably happiest.

One thing that always makes me teary is when I see my brother. Even if it’s only been a month, he’s so much taller and I guess more composed of a person. He grows so fast, and he’s so smart. He’s a good kid, no matter how much I shame him for being a baby. He’s always my precious baby brother, though. This time during our trip, he really showed our relatives his personality, which was pretty amusing. Watching an 8 year old talk to 50 year olds…

I also miss my parents. They’re the first adults I ever met, and probably remain one of the few adults I can speak to casually. I’ve come to some new understandings of them when our relatives told me stories about them when they were younger. Also, when they left, I felt really helpless. I got home at 5AM that day, and spent a long time just moping. Logically, I knew that I’ll be fine when I wake up in a few hours, but in that moment I wished that I wasn’t so lonely. After being surrounded by the people I knew the best, to be suddenly thrown back into unfamiliar territory was kind of scary. Anyway, I was right about being okay in the morning. I still miss them, though.

Although I speak to Gloria frequently (probably too frequently), it was also clear that she’s changed, too. She’s a big kid (and not just like, physically). She has her own thoughts and perspectives and methods of getting her point across. She’s reliable and kind of too pure sometimes, and she’s also my number one right-hand man. That sounds kind of funny, but she’s really not that much like the annoying 7 year old I used to tolerate.

From my trip, there were a couple of moments that stood out to me, so I’ll briefly list them here:

  • When I had a cold and heatstroke in Taipei and was sleeping in the hotel room. Everyone had gone out except my brother who was presumably watching over me. I woke up to him singing to himself in the washroom…
  • That day the three of us children went to karaoke and the arcade with (Lulu) and (Mimi).
  • Our grandpa’s 90th birthday celebration, of course. The scrambling to finish our last presents, and the family photos where I redeemed myself. (My 9 year old self was glaring in the picture from that dinner, and it’s still hanging out above the fireplace in Burnaby. I really hate that photo. It encapsulates the very edgy essence of being 9.)
  • Once when my dad’s oldest brother was driving me back, he asked me if I considered myself more Chinese or Canadian, and which felt more like home. I said neither, and that I was a wanderer identity-wise.
  • The last week with my older cousins (and my niece), featuring an escape room, them making dinner, me being a leech for meals, a cat cafe, and saying goodbye.
  • The times I went to the hospital to see my grandpa. I was overwhelmed by other people’s emotions, but truthfully I wasn’t as sad as those older than me. My siblings and I could only watch and sympathize. We held his hand and made small talk. I’d like to think we did the best we could under the circumstances, but it’s hard not to feel like you’re a shitty grandchild. Even though we know it’s not something we could help.
  • My mom’s friend! I lived in her house for a month. I was very well-fed. I remember specifically once my dad and I had a disagreement and I came home from work all angry and sad. She told me to chill and we ate crabs and rice cakes while I vented, and she just smiled and said she understood. It was very nice, and I got to practice speaking Chinese.
  • One night my dad took Gloria and I to a street market in Taipei and we had beer and food and a pretty nice time.
  • Every single time I was treated like a little sister. Technically I am, but it’s truly rare for me to experience it… and it’s… nice…
  • Playing Tetris on the DS while sitting on my parents’ bed, in between them as they talked about stuff.
  • When my grandaunt arrived and we had a dinner together. However, my older cousins were with the three of us at our home and my parents were somewhere else, also separate: so when we got to the restaurant first, we ended up welcoming all the older people in.

There’s still quite a lot else that happened in those 3 months. It was a very interesting time, and I encountered a lot of new things. I became best friends with the subway map. I got 71 mosquito bites. I climbed a couple of mountains. I went to museums and took way too many nasty photos of my siblings. It was a good time, and I realized that as long as I’m with my siblings and my parents, anywhere is fine.

how to live

I’m supposedly on vacation, but at this point of my life a vacation just means not going to school, so I’m actually still doing a bunch of other things. So I’m in China, just kind of wandering around until my parents and siblings get here. Also, I realize that I don’t need a lot of things to survive… but I still manage to have a lot of things (namely medicine and creams).

Anyway, a funny thing to note is that at workplace A, I am the tiny child being babysat and occasionally given a task to do, and also being fed ice cream on a daily basis. At place B, I’m the oldest of the bunch and despite having an absolutely disgusting English accent, am taken quite seriously when I do my jobs. Either way, I’m still an outlier to the average and a bit awkward. But I’m a firm believer in doing the best I can wherever I go, so I figure that as long as I’m watching out for myself, then it’s fine. I can only account for myself, I have no say in how others perceive me, weird things happen irl, etc.

Well, it’s pointless to complain when I’m on vacation. The next 2 weeks I’m still definitely busy. After that, I’ll really be on vacation-vacation (and can regress into my actual degenerate form). I mean, I’ve been sleeping before 11pm all this week… I really don’t know who I am anymore. It’s probably because I get up at 6:30am, but anyway. Not the point.

In other news: I miss my siblings. And my parents. It’s me vs the Extended Family right now, and it’d sure be nice if the rest of my family could be here to suffer as well. :’D

To be honest, it does suck to be the only one of my generation (not even my age group) here right now. I’ve no one to do touristy things with. Of course I can go by myself, but sometimes it’s more fun to have a companion.

Anyway. I’m off to sleep. See ya around.

 

 

day by day

My little brother turned eight a couple of days ago! I was in the midst of exam season so I couldn’t be there unfortunately, but I did buy him a present so there’s that. It’s strange to think that he’s already eight… I sometimes think my sister is eight still, although she’s almost double that. To save my siblings some embarrassment I won’t elaborate too much on how I’ve watched them go from cute floppy useless babies to the annoying but surprisingly smart kids (teenager…?) they are now, and instead maybe I’ll write about myself.

First off: I’ve been writing aimlessly on this blog for 11 years now, which is a pretty substantial chunk of my life. Admittedly, I started  initially for the sole purpose of learning how to write coherently. I can’t say whether or not I’ve succeeded considering the fact that I still don’t make very much sense, but there’s probably been some kind of positive progress since then.

Speaking of progress and change, yesterday was the last day of my first year at university. It’s been an interesting nine-or-so months, and I’ve been pretty productive. I don’t think there’s much else to say, I guess. I went to museums and galleries and they were all pretty and inspiring, I watched movies and ate a lot of unhealthy food (though that’s nothing new), and I also spent significantly less time doing work in comparison to last year. Or so that’s how I felt, and that’s nice, not feeling like my life revolved around going to school and then coming home. There’s a bit more to it.

Otherwise, not much to report. Things are happening, I’m still overthinking, and there’s always a lot left to do.

2019 wishes

Although I didn’t do the whole resolutions thing last year, I figured it’d still be nice to review the past year a little bit.

Truthfully, I can’t recall easily anything specific from 2018 in terms of what I did in each month (something I used to catalogue dutifully), but I do remember that I was very busy. If I wasn’t chasing after deadlines, I was pretending I had something to do, so thus I was always doing something, and that something was always urgent. In a way, it was an elaborate way of beginning to distance myself from my mistakes. Even in earlier years, I recognized that I made mistakes in my friendships and in… life generally, but I couldn’t figure out how to get out of that rut and tended to just spiral further down into mild despair. So I decided that removing myself from what I believed to be the bad situation would be the best option.

I feel like I must clarify a few things, if only to myself: firstly, a bad situation does not necessarily mean that I am/was a victim and thus dubbed it as bad, but that I was at some points the perpetrator of the badness. By removing the source of the bad, that would solve at least a few problems, right? Second, even though I was wallowing in a pit of self-hatred, I didn’t really blame anyone else for the situation. (I currently don’t blame myself for certain actions then so much as pity myself. I was a weird kid.) A bunch of kids made a bunch of mistakes. If I went back to that time, I would most likely still make the same mistakes.

Anyway, I’ve thought that thought to death by now. I’ll continue by pasting last year’s reminders here:

2018

  1. The taste of bitter and the feeling of empty is alright.
  2. Remember things you want to remember, and don’t worry too much.

I’m not quite sure I understand what the first one references exactly, but let’s analyze them both. Technically, they both mean the same thing, which is that I should worry less and just go with the flow. Very clichéd, but it’s also not a bad thing to remember. Most things in life you have very little control over, so any bad thing or good thing that happens is just a thing that happens. If you’re lucky, then that’s fine. If you’re unlucky, it’s also no big deal. Alternatively: if the only thing stopping you is your own doubt, then don’t stop.

Another thing I’d like to address briefly is the idea I had about becoming an adult. Any change that happens is also (usually) out of our control, so there’s no use in lamenting over being stagnant when you are unaware of your own changes. I think I place less importance on being mature or smart or whatever constitutes adult-like behaviour now. My only goal is to be content. Not to feel indebted to anyone, or feel held back. Or stuck in a bad situation.

Now for this year’s reminders:

  1. Remember what is important to you.
  2. Anything you do, do to the best of your ability at that time.
  3. Take your vitamins.