Monthly Archives: July 2006

A Bittersweet Comfort

Thumbnail: BBQ pork
Thumbnail: Washing veggies
Thumbnail: Cutting onions
Thumbnail: Shiitake mushrooms
Thumbnail: Washed veggies
Thumbnail: Bone China bowls
Thumbnail: Soup close-up
Thumbnail: Soup extreme close-up

A bowl of egg-noodles, with barbecue pork, shiitake mushrooms, shrimp, carrots, bok choi, and green onions in a chicken broth, is considered comfort food for most Chinese people. They say that comfort food soothes the mind by acting like an opiate, hitting the receptors in our central nervous system. We go to it in times of stress, and in addition to keeping us full, it keeps us pacified.

As Pat and Jen cut, and wash, and cook, they never nibble. Everything that’s prepared goes into the pot. Not too long, or the vegetables will lose their firmness. With chopsticks and a spoon, they serve the noodle soup in large bowls. One eats from the spoon, which is used to scoop the broth, while the chopsticks are simply used to put the desired ingredients on the former utensil.

I don’t have meals like this anymore. Chinese food is a complicated affair. It takes a motley set of ingredients, most of which is only available on a single street in this city, so I’m grateful for a real home-cooked meal.

Everything about it brings me back to a time when I was a child, living with my parents, living off Chinese food every day. The contrasting colours of the pork against the noodles. The full aroma. The savoury taste of broth. Even the dulcet slurp of noodles.

If only my childhood was worth remembering.

What To Accept?

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

—Andy Warhol

Many of my relationships, romantic or otherwise, are often approached, at least partially, based on the hope that the other person will change. This change can take the form of something as simple as promptness, as frustrating as tidiness, or as grand as self-centeredness.

Change, synonymous with improvement, has been the basis of my life. It takes a self-awareness of my faults, combined with a desire to change these faults, to improve. Assuming that others are the same way has been one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. When the veil is lifted, and I realize that someone is stuck in their personality, I lose my faith in humanity. For the fraction of people who are conscious enough to know that they need to change, (and I mean this in an absolute sense, where almost anyone would agree that something needs improvement, such as temper or closed-mindedness) only a fraction of those are actually able to do so.

It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not.

This means that when I meet someone, I either have to accept or reject them for who they are, because that’s most likely who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives. I have to stop accepting someone based on the hope that they will get better.

Acceptance, which has always been a difficult thing for me, thus becomes the most important thing in my relationships. It also remains one of the most hardest things for me to change.

So should I learn to accept this about myself, the way I should learn to accept things of others?

Bear

Thumbnail: Bronwen kisses bear

Thumbnail: Bear on the rug

The best friend man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son, or daughter, that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and good name may become traitors to their faith. The money a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our head.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only to be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince.

When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wing, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives his master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when that last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there, by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true, even in death.

—George Graham Vest

A dog, simply named Bear, meant the world to a handful. His life was filled with pleasure, though never spoiled, and freedom, though always disciplined. In the last year, his health started to decline. He had a glass eye for his cataracts, heavy medicine for his tumors, but through it all, he was happy, and there was nothing but happiness for thirteen long years.

Bear’s life represented a childhood, and all the innocence, insouciance, and bliss associated with it. Painful, yet important, his passing is seen as a distillation of maturity. This chapter has ended, so another one can begin.

Requiescat in pace.

Canada Day '06

Thumbnail: Pat in the hat
Thumbnail: Chaos on couch
Thumbnail: Brother Mike
Thumbnail: Lacey
Thumbnail: Beer in hand
Thumbnail: Jenn with drink
Thumbnail: Sarah licks
Thumbnail: Karen laughs
Thumbnail: Winding down on the couch
Thumbnail: Breakfast of champions
Thumbnail: Maple leaf

For Canada’s 139th, Aaron and Karen braved the rainy weather and hosted a small gathering for a barbecue. By the time I arrived, several hours early from helping Trolley in the morning, I was tired, moody, and smelling rather fresh, so I decided to leave by the time people were supposed to arrive in the afternoon. Fortunately, Pat and Jen showed up early too, bringing with them a deck of Dutch Blitz. It was a game I had never played before, but grew addicted to quickly. The fast-paced, and convivial nature of the game lightened my mood, and by the second round I was feeling jovial. There were other games too — bullet chess, Trivial Pursuit (90’s Edition, which the guys won for the first time ever), Soul Calibur 2 — all of which I partook through the rest of the evening.

I had such a good time that I ended up staying the night because I missed my last bus. In the morning, we slowly rose with coffee and greasy food, eventually playing some more Dutch Blitz before I had to leave.

It’s hard to remember a time when I was so at ease in a large group, or when I laughed so much. Maybe we’ve finally cut out the intolerable people, the ones who rub me the wrong way with their simple presence. Maybe, as a sign of my growing confidence, I’m getting more comfortable around other people.

Or maybe it’s a combination of both.