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?


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.