I’m finally in my own house again. Going to Toronto means I give up the comfort of my kitty, my computer, and my enveloping duvet for a few days of authentic Chinese food, real Chinese kung fu movies, silkworm sheets, and a few moments of family dysfunction every now and then.
Time at home left me drained. Turns out that I had an extra party to go to, and this year, I pulled myself up to go boxing day shopping. It was killer on five hours of sleep, but definitely worth it, my best score of clothes in years. Mom was running around every spare moment, preparing food for over 40 people for the New Years Party, while dad practiced his karaoke between runs for groceries. There were two nights that I sat by myself and enjoyed the new projector, and it was the most relaxing time I had during my stay.
As nice as it is to get away, I’m glad this only comes around once a year.
Stepping back to the 25th, I awoke to the sounds of ebullient whispers coming from downstairs as I lie in Julia’s bed, which she’d carefully made for me. I checked my watch, noticed that it was 6:40 a.m., and remembered that Shirley put her foot down about not opening any presents until seven. The kids were already up, of course, their internal alarm clocks set to spring in anticipation, even after we stayed up late the night before, playing wrestling games until the threat of Santa not coming put them to bed.
Instead, Santa went all out this year, from Nintendo DS, to mp3 players, to boxes on boxes of clothes, to DDR dance pads, to portable DVD players, to games for every system. He also left me a mini remote-control Mercedes SLK, and I’d normally say that he shouldn’t have so he could spend more on the kids, but he also left Braden and Bill a mini Hummer and mini Mustang GT respectively, so I had to accept the gift in order to race them.
Just being there was enough of a gift. As the kids ran around, unable to decide what to play with first, I started to consider staying so I could spend the day, but the responsibility of prior engagements and time with the parents kept me in check. We had a big greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs, but John was there to pick me up for the four hour drive home before the turkey dinner.
Exactly one year ago today, I was doing this. Even though the annual party at Chris and Clarmen’s actually starts on the 25th, I really see it as a boxing day party, the way a New Year’s party really starts on the 31st of December.
That night we used the excuse of going to Timmies for all the parents as a way out of the house to have a session. Unfortunately, this meant remembering about a dozen drink orders, something that proves difficult under the influence.
In chronological order:
We met up at the house, where Darren’s fingers brave the turtles
A session occurred outside, and on the way to Timmies we introduced Chris to Dreamtheater (hence the music selection)
An order is made for about a dozen drinks with great difficulty
We drove back to play Slap Hand, which is a variation on Slap Jack, except the pile is hit every time the correct number is called (and for increased difficulty we played with +/- rules where the pile is only hit if the number spoken is an addition or subtraction of a different specified number)
Darren randomly deals everyone a hand of hold ‘em and plays it through, and this causes me to make fun of his obvious addiction
Darren precisely deals a full hand of 13 cards for a game of Asshole, while talking, for which I count my cards in disbelief and finally realize just how much he plays cards
Other signs of how stoned we were:
Darren and Chris’s voices drop an octave, while my voice raises two (two!)
I can’t keep my jittery hands under control
The way Chris says, “Just awesome guys. Awesome.”
At one point we have to stop to count to the right number in Slap Hand
I laugh, a lot
This year, today, Lam joined us instead since Darren is off in Las Vegas.
When going through Psychology 1101 to cover a required science elective, I studied the characteristics of introversion and extroversion, but the material never really resonated with me. As I saw it, there are varying degrees of both, I fit somewhere on the introverted side of the scale, and this was the extent of the application of such a subject.
I can force myself to be social, friendly, cheerful (what Shirley and I call being on), but I can only do this for limited amounts of time. Usually I can keep it going just a few hours for a party or gathering, or as long as a few days as required if we’re out camping or snowboarding, but never longer than this.
The rest of the time I spend in my room, away from the world, because the social interactions of everyday life are a huge drain on me. When I’m alone, I recharge in a way I can’t explain. I’ve spent years feeling guilty for this behaviour. The North American attitude is that there’s something wrong with being quiet or unsocial. The most striking memory I have of this was during frosh week, when others would constantly harass me to go drinking, or dancing, or partying with a bunch of people I had never met before.
Now there’s an explanation that makes more sense to me than a simple degree on a scale. In a recent article, neuroscience researcher Marti Olsen Laney talks about the connections between introversion and biology. “It impacts all areas of their lives: how they process information, how they restore their energy, what they enjoy and how they communicate.”
I realize that there’s a greatly significant correlation between the way I behave and my introverted mindset. Introversion is an attitude that affects almost every aspect of my life, deeply rooted to a physiological level. It isn’t something I should be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
And if I can come out of my shell every now and then, I’ll be alright.
This is the view out my window on the night of a snowfall. The bedrooms are in the basement, so I get a subterranean look at my miniature lawn with pine tree, although the garden is now buried under 40cm of snow. There are the Moonlights, deprived of their charges from snow covering their solar panels. There’s the A/C that cost me a month and a half salary.
A little box, outlined by fence and porch, of my things.
I sleep with the blinds open in the winter because at night I see more this time of year than in the summer. Snow makes the sky glow an ashen orange, a phenomenon I can’t myself explain. On some nights, it’s too bright to sleep and I have to mask my eyes, peeking out every few minutes to make sure my winter paradise is still out the window until I fall asleep. When I feel especially sentimental, I leave the window open a crack to let in the smell of ice and dry air.
The price of this pleasure is at least three dead in weather related incidents across the province of Ontario.
There’s no room for confusion or regret. One can only thrust oneself forward, never looking back, never questioning what was once said. To learn from these mistakes is the only saving grace. Busyness is simply self-distraction, and to believe otherwise is self-delusion.
So do you fuck him harder, to bury the love you once had, to drown the guilt with fervent voices? To convince yourself that it’s over, and that this is better anyway?
And do you try to love him more, because you can’t love me?
Even after three years, it’s still strange when people e-mail me, people I’ve never met before who mention my experiences and quote the words I’ve written. When they share a bit of their lives in return, perhaps from the guilt of finding themselves the unassuming and unabashed voyeur, it never ceases to be interesting. They’ll tell me of their pot smoking habits, recommend music that’s touched them in some way, talk about the abuse they suffered from their parents, share the kinky habits that are normally reserved for those with a physical familiarity.
It’s strange because even with these details, I really know nothing about these people, while they know some of the most intimate things about me, stuff that I hide from others in everyday life.
And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I’d rather not find out.
The Canon Speedlite 430EX flash lets me take advantage of a 1/200 X-sync speed, which means that high-speed shots such as these are now possible in low lighting conditions. I picked one up this week, so most of my free time has been spent learning the capabilities of an external flash unit. The tilt-and-swivel head means that I can bounce the flash off a ceiling to soften the light, or take advantage of the surroundings, such as bouncing it off my stove (the picture on the left) or off my fridge (the picture on the right). There’s also a low-profile AF assist beam that’s a huge improvement over the seizure inducing on-board flash unit.
I decided to go with a Canon brand flash so I could have full E-TTL metering support (which fires an undetectable low-powered pre-flash for evaluative metering done through the lens) to match the Rebel XT shell. One of the coolest things about the 430EX is that a set of motors automatically adjust the zoom range to match the lens, and it can be used as a slave unit that can be optically (which also means remotely) triggered from a master unit for up to four light sources.
Even though there are tons of other accessories I’d like to have, such as a Sunpak hand strap (which would be a good compromise between the safety of a neck strap and the convenience of no strap), some Kenko extension tubes (for macro photography), or a portable microdrive, I thought that a flash would currently best serve my needs. This isn’t even to mention the options for some sweet glass, like a lens with image stabilization, a telescoping range, or even something from the L series which I’d have to put a second mortgage on my house to afford. I think that I’m only beginning to understand how expensive a hobby photography is.
Outside it’s snowing, but inside it’s a clatter of carts and dishes. Dim sum is mostly seafood, especially shrimp, but the most common ingredients are oil and monosodium glutamate.
My parents go full out with the tripe and the phoenix talons (a euphemism for chicken’s feet), dishes that scare most Westerners, and even some Canadian born Chinese such as me. The dim sum here is much better here than at the restaurant across the street, they note. The rice-flower skin of the shrimp dumplings is delightfully smooth and thin, a demonstration of the chef’s skill. The mooli cakes, made from fried daikon radishes, taste especially savoury. Even the buns are steamed well and slightly sweet.
The praise of my parents is a testament to the quality of the food. They have the ability to find fault with almost anything, the root of years of childhood despondency and confidence issues, but today the food is nearly impeccable.
I’ve been falling sleep with the TV on lately. Discovery channel, trashy tabloids, commercials every quarter hour. The constant chatter keeps me company the way old movies on DVD can’t. It’s like the world never sleeps. Someone else is awake, and watching the same thing as me.
It’s one of the things I like so much about you. If you hide that, you’re hiding the best part.
The little girl was taken to Humber River Regional Hospital, and later transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children, where she was diagnosed with what police call “a significant brain injury”.
The J is like an H Ricky, Hal-a-peen-yo
This is live.
Sometimes I wake up with a song in my head that I may not own, or even particularly like. Sometimes I wake up knowing some news before I read it on my lunchtime break. Sometimes my dreams will take off in a strange direction, and I’ll be cooking something complicated or unloading automatics through house windows or fucking someone I’d never have a chance with in real-life.