Things I Learned At My First Western Funeral

  • I still know the words to the Lord’s Prayer and Amazing Grace, thanks to my years at Catholic School and UCC
  • It’s not the words of the speaker that make us cry, it’s their own emo­tion. Therefore, humans are born with an innate sense of empathy.
  • Old peo­ple like to pick at their faces
  • The pas­tor may go on longer about their reli­gion, than the per­son who passed away and their faith. This is more to com­fort those in mourn­ing, than about hon­our­ing the mem­ory of the dead.
  • Knowing some­one for only a month before get­ting mar­ried can lead to over sixty years of mar­i­tal bliss

Avian Encroachment

Pigeon on a building

One of my pho­tographs, enti­tled “Avian Encroachment”, has been selected as one of the final­ists in CBCs 2008 Nature in Focus con­test under the cat­e­gory Your Habitat. There were 1200 entries entered this year.

The title is a play on the term “urban encroach­ment”, which is used to describe the destruc­tive habits of human activ­ity spread­ing over nat­ural areas.

Since the photo is of a pigeon sit­ting next to the spikes used to keep birds off the ledges of build­ings, it appeared to me that he was flaunt­ing his posi­tion, and push­ing back.

One of my geol­ogy teach­ers in uni­ver­sity said that it was silly to think of us try­ing to save the planet, because the earth, as a liv­ing thing, is going to be around for a long time. Environmentalism is really about sav­ing ourselves.

You can check out the win­ners and other final­ists on the CBC website.

A Night with Russell Peters

Having front row tick­ets to see Russell Peters means that you’re a fairly big tar­get for being picked on.

Especially after Pat yells “WOO” amid an oth­er­wise silent the­atre when Russell starts to explain how Chinese peo­ple aren’t as cheap as Indian peo­ple. From that point, we were known as the “Wu” fam­ily, and he’d refer to us when talk­ing to the Chinese crowd.

No one is off-limits though, and his eth­nic jokes cover a spec­trum of races as wide as the earth. I sup­pose that’s how he pulls off his par­tic­u­lar brand of stereo­typ­ing com­edy. Ottawa is an espe­cially fit­ting place, where minori­ties min­gle instead of seg­re­gate, and per­haps it’s exactly this rea­son that the crowd is so ebul­lient. It almost as if his set is writ­ten for us.

Afterwards, it was back to Pat and Jen’s for some con­ver­sa­tion over hot choco­late from their Tassimo. A scoop of mint-chocolate-chip ice cream dropped into said bev­er­age turns it into a yummy candy-cane hot choco­late, some­thing I must explore fur­ther in the future.

Psychoanalytic Reflections 04

My anx­i­ety is now under con­trol1, so my ther­a­pist and I have moved onto other issues.

It’s funny that I started going to ther­apy for my anx­i­ety attacks, but he keeps dig­ging up issues I never knew that I had.

Not that any of it is as debil­i­tat­ing the way the anx­i­ety attacks were, but it’s made me real­ize that they have affected my qual­ity of life. All of it stems from my par­ents (as opposed to being teased, some kind of inci­dent, etc.). Once again, I say that I don’t like to blame them, but the glar­ing fact is that I can now trace every issue back to my childhood.

The idea of a self-destructive pat­tern whereby we repeat the pain of our child­hoods is called a life­trap. They’re cat­e­go­rized dif­fer­ently, depend­ing on the school of psy­chol­ogy one pre­scribes to, but my most sig­nif­i­cant ones (i.e. rated “very high”) are emo­tional depri­va­tion, depen­dence, unre­lent­ing stan­dards, and puni­tive­ness. When I first started, I also had pes­simism, but this has mostly gone with my anxiety.

I’ll touch on two of them now:

Emotional Deprivation

  • One of the things that sparked the real­iza­tion that I didn’t have a reg­u­lar child­hood was when I was asked to fill out a diag­nos­tic ques­tion­naire. I was told to rate how strongly I felt about the state­ment “I have not had some­one to nur­ture me, share him/herself with me, or care deeply about what hap­pens to me”. I thought to myself, “That’s nor­mal? People have that?”.
    • This is why I feel alone and detached from the world. It’s not quite as clean-cut as this, as there are a bunch of other issues that fac­tor into the issue, but it’s an over­all feeling.
    • Until that point, I never con­sid­ered the idea that such peo­ple exist. I assume the par­ents are sup­posed to fill this role, and even­tu­ally a spouse.
    • In many peo­ple with emo­tional depri­va­tion, the life­trap man­i­fests itself in rela­tion­ships where they remain emo­tion­ally dis­tant. For me, it’s more of a dif­fi­culty com­mu­ni­cat­ing to my girl­friends about my needs, and then feel­ing dis­ap­pointed when my needs aren’t met.
      • This makes me won­der how cer­tain rela­tion­ships would have worked out if I was a dif­fer­ent per­son and didn’t keep break­ing up with my girlfriends
      • Unfortunately, I could write a book on this.

Unrelenting Standards

  • I’ve real­ized that I’m still being too hard on myself. This stems from the expec­ta­tions put on me as a child, or sim­ply the fact that I think being unsat­is­fied with stag­nancy is healthy because self-improvement makes me a bet­ter per­son. Most likely, a bit of both.
    • Sometimes I have to com­pare myself to some­one like Pat to give myself per­spec­tive on this issue. He’s a per­son who hasn’t “achieved” much when eval­u­ated by my stan­dards, but he’s happy and that’s what mat­ters. It makes me ques­tion what I’m try­ing so hard to achieve. I think of an old Calvin and Hobbes strip, where Calvin says, “It’s hard to argue with some­one who looks so happy”
    • I under­stand that it’s the pur­suit of great­ness, not great­ness itself, that should make life worth liv­ing, so when I have this self-destructiveness as a result, it doesn’t quite make sense. I’m work­ing on this. It helps me to keep a quote by Charlotte Cushman in mind: “To try to be bet­ter is to be better”.
    • A side effect is that I’m too hard on other peo­ple because I project my unre­lent­ing stan­dards on them as well.
    • A lot of peo­ple tell me that I wouldn’t have had so much pres­sure to be the best and per­form well if I wasn’t an only child.
  1. I don’t say solved because I don’t think one can com­pletely elim­i­nate anx­i­ety []

Kitteh With Catnip

One of the advan­tages of hav­ing such a lov­able cat is that peo­ple want to buy her things. I make a con­scious effort not to spoil her with human food, so she hap­pily accepts toys and treats from people.

Like this bunny filled with cat­nip that Louise bought for her.

One thing she really likes to do is grab her cat­nip toys by the teeth and shake them to release the scent. I don’t give her cat­nip very often, so in stoner terms, this meas she’s a lightweight.

And oh how she loves it; within a few min­utes, the fur of the toy is cov­ered in cat drool.