Posts in category "Random"


A few snaps of Jeff and Darren from a quick shoot last night. I never real­ized how much I need my new 70–200mm lens after get­ting a full-frame cam­era; 70mm is much too short, even in my small stu­dio room.

It’s strange to see so much nat­ural vignetting. I’m not sure if it’s the lens or the way the light falls off when spread across the back­ground from one direction.

Jeff in hat


Continue read­ing “peacock”…

Aguado Dionisio — Study in A Minor (arranged for ukulele)

Got my new tenor ukulele and it’s an absolutely gor­geous instru­ment, although I’m sure that’s related to the cost1. After a few weeks of try­ing out the Aquila’s they came with, I put on some Worth brown strings with the low-G.

Study in A Minor is a great piece to learn because it’s rel­a­tively sim­ple (so I don’t get dis­cour­aged too eas­ily), but there are three tricky parts to focus on improv­ing. They’re also each dif­fi­cult in their own way, grad­u­ally work­ing the dex­ter­ity or flex­i­bil­ity in a cer­tain fin­ger or two.

I wanted to film this as a record of the way the ukulele sounds now; it’s a solid lace­wood spruce body, so the tone will develop over time as the wood matures. Also, so I can have a quick ref­er­ence of what it sounds like with longer nails on the pick­ing hand (which were promptly cut after, because they were dri­ving me nuts). It’s rel­a­tively clear sound, whereas with­out nails it’s sort of “wet”.

I first learned this on a soprano ukulele, and I had to retrain my fin­gers to stretch on the tenor. It was a BIG dif­fer­ence, and I didn’t think my fin­gers would stretch far enough at first.

It feels amaz­ing to prac­tice some­thing for weeks, and to finally have it click one day. Then you never want to stop play­ing cause you’re afraid you may lose it the next day.

  1. Jesse says I paid “real instru­ment” price for it. []

My cousin Chris

I’ve only shared about two con­ver­sa­tions in my life with Chris — the last of which was about seven years ago — owing to the fact that we live on oppo­site coasts of the coun­try. But Darren and I rec­og­nized him as one of us: some­one who thinks for him­self and doesn’t buy into the whole Chinese cul­ture unques­tion­ingly. This is in con­trast to many of our other cousins, who seem to love their par­ents sim­ply because they were birthed by them, not nec­es­sar­ily because their par­ents are good people.

Chris hap­pened to be pass­ing by for a wed­ding, so I hosted him for two days. It was inter­est­ing to meet him at this point in our lives. I won­der if I’m actu­ally more sim­i­lar to Chris than I am to Darren, mainly because of how our cre­ativ­ity defines us. It was so easy for me to relate and talk to him. And as with Darren, I actu­ally felt like Chris was fam­ily, closer to a brother than a cousin, which is all too rare among my blood.

As an indus­trial designer he does amaz­ing draw­ings, full of vibrant colours that pop-off the page. I asked him to draw some­thing on my dry erase board because draw­ing is a cre­ative abil­ity not in my pos­ses­sion, and I find the process fas­ci­nat­ing. It was a logis­ti­cal chal­lenge because he would smear his exist­ing work every time he rested his hand on the board for stability.

He’s my exact oppo­site when it comes to health. He’s a vegan, while I’d find it impos­si­ble to give up meat, let alone but­ter and ice cream. He just lit­er­ally biked 100km a day across Canada, while my lifestyle could be con­sid­ered seden­tary at best, with only Tai Chi and some mild cal­is­then­ics in my exer­cise rou­tine. And yet we’re the same weight and shape. It’s sort of eerie to see him draw­ing in this video; aside from a shorter hair­cut, it’s almost like I’m watch­ing myself.

The time he spent here passed quickly, as I intro­duced him to the ukulele. Aside from catch­ing up and learn­ing about each other, most of the two days were spent exper­i­ment­ing and play­ing together. Eventually, we went to a music store and bought him his own Mahalo ukulele, which filled my heart with glee. Darren and Jeff are com­ing up for a visit next week, and hope­fully Chris will be able to hitch a ride with them for our ukulele band before we all head back to Toronto for Crystal’s wedding.

nothing gold can stay

The tears and the smears on my glasses which I look through to type this are telling me I’m still not over her. Or per­haps, the idea of her, because she had always held back a part of her­self from being mine completely.

This is what hap­pens when a true friend stabs you in the front. I guess I’ve been avoid­ing these thoughts for a while now, and con­fronted with them in con­ver­sa­tion, the real­ity has never been more clear.

I’m still a bro­ken man.

Even with the mixed sig­nals, the incon­sis­tency, and the pain, it was still the most sig­nif­i­cant rela­tion­ship I’ve ever had, and that’s what makes it so hard to let go. My other rela­tion­ships may have been free of all the drama, but they also lacked the depth, inten­sity, and intimacy.

There’s noth­ing I would have changed but the end, which dragged on for a year, one suture ripped out after another. It was far from a clean break, and any­thing but resolution.

I know I wasn’t the only per­son to go through the pain of sep­a­ra­tion, but the break wasn’t sup­posed to last for­ever. I was will­ing to step away so I could heal and be strong enough to be friends in time, to be there for her, to be ready to accept the next guy. And most impor­tantly, I was will­ing to come back.

She was sup­posed to be strong enough to let me go until I was ready.


I believed her.

Why couldn’t it have ended that night, instead of the mind­fuck that con­tin­ued for months after? Why couldn’t the last thing for her to leave me be the let­ter she wrote on the sta­tion­ary I gave her? Why couldn’t she have kept the promise she made to do what­ever it took to keep me in her life, and stayed away?

We haven’t seen each other in over half a year. It’s been even longer since we had an actual con­ver­sa­tion. It’s time for me to wake the fuck up. It’s time for me to deal with my emo­tions and the real­ity of the sit­u­a­tion. It’s time for me to move on instead of hold­ing on. It’s time for me to under­stand that I’ll never be what she needs, and she’ll never accept me as I am.

It’s time for me to real­ize that it’s over.

29 9/12: The Rocker

Music has always been a big part of my life, so it’s strange to con­sider the fact that I only seri­ously took up an instru­ment the year I’m turn­ing 30, which I gen­er­ally con­sider late to be start­ing any­thing new.

I used to play piano and flute, but that was never really my choice. For the for­mer, it was more of my mom want­ing me to be a good Chinese boy, and me not want­ing to let her down. When it came to the lat­ter, my school had a strong empha­sis on arts, and either visual arts or music were manda­tory. I chose music1, and played the flute; far from ideal for a teenager going through puberty and an iden­tity crisis.

I bought my first ukulele a few months ago, and I don’t think I’ve stopped play­ing since.

Self portrait at 29 9/12

Jammin’ in my jam­mies. With what may pos­si­bly be an erection.

Photo by Jess.

So much of my life has been filled by those four lit­tle strings. It’s an entirely new medium I’m still explor­ing, a mus­cle I’d yet to flex, a way of express­ing myself that’s so unlike any of my other outlets.

I get pains in my fin­gers and wrists from play­ing too much, so I struc­ture my life around the breaks; doing laun­dry, writ­ing, clean­ing my room, sort­ing my paper­work until the tin­gling or pinch­ing goes away. The pads of my fin­gers are dead. I used to fall asleep think­ing of her — now I work out scale pat­terns and chords across the fret­board in my head until I pass out. I even decided to make the ulti­mate com­mit­ment and grow out the nails on my strum­ming hand because the longer they get, the more pleased I am with the sound (and I find both long nails and asym­me­try absolutely dis­gust­ing).

It’s come to the point where I’d rather play ukulele than play games, or go out, or talk to peo­ple. I love play­ing so much that I enjoy it even though I’m still no good at it.

I turn 30 in three months, and music is my hot hot bath, my dead end, and my girlfriend.

The Turning 30 Series

  1. Ironic that I’m so much more of a visual artist now. []