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Bamboo Star

June 3rd, 2006

Work in Progress

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Days have been blurring into weeks. We’re into June now. A whole new month is before us. Fresh. And squishy.

I’m actually feeling a bit squishy; and I’m not just talking about the perpetual pudge ‘round the waist. It’s not a blah, blobby feeling. No random floating around. I’ve actually been moving in a very focused manner. I feel like one of those soft, smooshy stress balls: often squeezed into a tight, unrecognizable shape that eventually bounces back to normal. Like the foam stress ball, I’m not really bouncing back but sort of returning to normal in that slow-mo way. What’s more, I’m not sure if I get back to my original shape!

Wait…I’m just as doughy as before. Stress ball analogy still stands! Sigh.

What am I trying to say? God, if I could only just spit it all out without sounding 15 all over again. Forgive me for writing is nothing like riding a bicycle! I think that I am possibly forgetting the little I developed while feverishly blogging every night during the school year.

I guess what I want to do is publicly declare war with myself. Maybe war is not the best way to put it. I am forgetting how to write but I have not forgotten my aversion to violence and love of peace.

It’s not really a declaration of war. It’s not really a manifesto. It’s just a seed that I’m determined to make grow.

No more half-assed living.

The only thing holding me back from living my every hope and dream is typing these very words.

Why am I still telling the Internet that my flabby middle bugs me? Because that squishy stuff has been defining me for my WHOLE LIFE and I’m equally scared and undisciplined to do what it takes. I don’t really know. I have been out of therapy for about three years now.

The thing is, I’m thriving. I’m working hard at something I truly believe in. Everyday I feel like I contribute to the universe and in turn lap up the abundance I get in return without collapsing under the guilt of my Catholic upbringing.

Incredibly, I—possibly the most sensitive person on the planet–don’t let myself cry when people look me straight in the eye and spill their broken hearts open after years of inordinate suffering of unimaginable magnitude. Instead, I do my best to help alleviate their suffering by making their goals and my capacity meet in the middle.

I am never satisfied because in this line of work, nothing is ever enough; and yet, I know that I can only do so much. The universe is at once so cruel and so kind. I haven’t figured it all out yet. I hope that I never do. I do like the discovery. And really, who likes a smug S.O.B.? Nobody.

So the daily work makes my soul dance until it is weary. That means that sometimes I complain about the unimportant. I mope. I sit idle. I consume to the point that I become annoyed that I cannot find storage space. The clutter engulfs me and I get angry. With myself.

And so here I am reminding myself to live fully and happily to my ideals. More and more I embrace the challenge, but I recognize that I’m not doing enough.

No more half-assed living.

Tales of full living to come. The stories have already fallen into my lap. Glorious bounty, I tell you.

I was digging around my messy, messy room the other day and ran into all kinds of old goodies like my pacifier from PLURtastic raver times to old school agendas (as in, high school-issued agendas) that told the story of my past life. Anyway, for a few years my agenda was covered in everything that was me. I didn’t need to write my name on the first page because the covers said it all. “Racism. Stop it!”-stickers from the March 21st campaign. A picture of Felicity with a blurry Ben in the background. Teletubbies stickers. Doodles. Poetry. And written in blue permanent marker were three magical words that I almost forgot: Life. Eat it.


May 30th, 2006

You can be a winner in the Game of Life!

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Work out.

(Not necessarily in that order.)

Writing will find its way in again soon enough.

May 18th, 2006

Nature and Nurture

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Rethinking the battle between the two Ns.

I know my genes. I can almost reach out and grasp that double helix. I can actually reach out and grab that slice of buttery lemon cake offered to me in a meeting. Sigh.

I don’t understand myself. I worked my ass off at the gym this morning. All those little protein fibres tingled and burned. Oh, lactic acid, I kind of love and hate you at the same time! Oh, little cells, keep on repairing those tears! You can do it! Thank you for working so hard for me!

I have to get back to journaling. If I had been journaling, I wouldn’t have eaten that entire goat roti today. It wasn’t even that good! So many West Indian joints near work and I had to choose the worst one on a whim! Argh. Next time, it’s Island Foods all the way. Or rather, halfway. I’m only eating half next time.

Anyway, it’s back to salad tomorrow for lunch. Salad for sanity.

Things are quite chaotic right now. I know I say this all the time, but I’m really damn busy. On top of that, I’m behind in my work because Legal Aid Ontario is having a much needed IT transformation that has stalled our operations. The new computers sure look pretty. Too bad they are not working yet. I’m sure it’ll all be worth it. Anything will be better than the ancient machines we were using before. Death to CRT monitors!

One thing I’ve learnt at work is that I really value my language skills and enjoy fostering them. Okay, that isn’t a new discovery or anything, but I always like some confirmation. In the short while I’ve been working at the clinic, I’ve been called on to act as an interpreter several times at work and have been happy about my performance. On the one hand, it’s tiresome to be asked to help out with this Cantonese-speaking client “just this one time” over and over again when other work has to be done, but it’s also highly rewarding. It’s also interesting to see how much Mandarin-English interpretation I can do without resorting to Cantonese or English.

I also confirmed my longstanding suspicion that my French has run laps around my Spanish. My Spanish listening comprehension is still decent, but man, the French wants to slip out so badly when I try to speak in castellano! It’s incredibly frustrating. Then again, it has been SEVEN freakin’ years since my stint in Spain. If you ever wanted to know, 7 years is a sure way to lose fluency.

Anyway, I leave you with some interesting pictures taken on my front porch. It is truly spring! :) These pictures are best seen large. See the whole set so far on flickr over here. I’ll grab a few more shots pics tomorrow before I take off for the weekend.

Keepin' her eggs warm

Almost Ready


Day 2

Tired from growing so damn fast


May 14th, 2006

Sweet Pollen for the Busy Bee

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I’ve been extremely busy. Not totally pushed to my limits, but trying to preserve myself by choosing sleep over blogging and the like. I haven’t stopped taking pictures or hunching over my beading area either. Now I just have to take pictures of the little baubles for you all to see! :)

I also promise to take some pictures of my hot spring/summer shoes. Oh I love this time of year for so many reasons! The shoes play a big role. And the bags, the jewellery, the clothes… :P

Here are a few spring blossom pictures from my recent trip to Boston. There are more to follow.


Gender bender

New England charm


May 4th, 2006

Thank God for Lifejackets

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Where to begin? Time seems to be travelling so fast right now. This morning, while engrossed in my book, I almost missed my subway stop. Sometime earlier in the ride I realised that I had forgotten to take a transfer–my proof of payment for the later change to streetcar. Rush, rush, rush.

It’s a rush in all senses of the word. I’m enjoying this whirlwind adventure that is my life immensely. All day people have been saying, “It’s sink or swim!”

I’m not just treading water. I’m really swimming.

Since I last left you, I finished my exams and hopped on that seedy night route from Toronto to Boston. I almost didn’t get on the right bus in Toronto that brought me to Buffalo, NY where I had to make the crucial transfer to the long-haul bus that made stops in Rocherster, Syracuse, Albany, Springfield and finally, Boston. Unlike on the posh “first class super VIP” buses I rode around peninsular Malaysia, I had trouble sleeping on a regular Greyhound coach. Though it was mostly the fact that the seats were predictably uncomfortable, my inability to get into REM sleep might have been related to the Gonazalez-style driving of the self-proclaimed “motorcoach operator”, D.W, a round lady who sported a tough attitude and a uniform grey skull cap.

Other than the exhaustion and attendant crabbiness, I made it down to Boston’s South Station without much incident. While the overall circumstances that forced me into taking the night bus still warrant complaining, there’s no point in complaining. Besides, I’d do just about anything for a reunion with my man. Aside from my heart wanting to leap out of my chest in anticipation of the first glimpse of Dave in the station and that first tight embrace, the only other exciting thing that happened was me connecting with an Uzbekistani farmer who had first approached me with a classic query: “Excuse me, are you from China?”

Good thing this guy got his story out really quickly or else I would have left him with one of my death stares. :P I was absolutely fascinated by everything that he had to say about finding American and Dutch contacts who were willing to engage in amazing international exchanges. Don’t knock the power of the Internet.

Anyway, cultivator of fruit, vegetables, and very soon flowers, is the poster for the entrepreneurial spirit. He was so open with bits of his life story and let me bombard him with questions about when and how he saved the money to buy his land right after the Soviet Union fell etc. etc.

Since he was looking into learning new flower cultivating techniques from the aforementioned Dutch and Americans, he invited them over to his farm in Uzbekistan. They enjoyed their visit and eventually returned the favour. The American leg of his learning tour is 8 months in total. He was on the same bus as me because he had sold the car he had bought (on the Internet, of course) and used during his stay outside of Rochester, NY and was on his way to New Hampshire to another farm where he would pick up other skills and knowledge related to his new floral adventure. Totally fascinating stuff.

Boston, of course, was a blast. This time, we did actually spend a lot of time in Boston. Dave and I were really riding high on this stolen weekend together. We always have fun together, but we really hadn’t had this much fun in a long time. It was like a dream. Exploring areas of the city we had never visited before; strolling through the beautiful blooming commons; munching on the most delectable of treats; snuggling in the middle of a dark cinema; laughing too loudly at each other’s stupid jokes and so much more.

One afternoon when Tina and Dave were both busy at their respective nerd labs, I pored over the beads at the Cambridge location of Beadworks. I spent just enough for enough. It’s obviously not cheap to shop at this kind of bead shop, but I allowed myself a few indulgences in my heady post-exam love high. Plus I got to pat myself on the back for any bulk bargains I got on marvelous gemstones in Asia. :D

Honestly, I can’t wait to get started on the 1000s of projects swirling around in my head. The creative juices are coursing through my veins, baby. Woo! Beading, painting and knitting are on the agenda!

If only I could find the time for these things! The past few days of work and training have been exhilirating and exhausting. My little Boston jaunt tired me out; but work has really beaten me. And it’s only been two days! Eep! It’s going to take a bit of adjustment; but if anything, I’m adaptable.

Take the commute for example: ~1.5 hours each way on public transit. My antidote? Fantastic fiction. I don’t care what you all think, but I just finished The Time Traveler’s Wife and it pierced through my too-full heart. Good gracious, that was a fine book. The love story is as beautiful as the prose, but the references really slayed me! Punk rock, art history, literature, aristology and opera? Please sir, I want some more. I had just ran my fingers over Dave’s copy of Rilke poetry given to him by his mentor and them bam! there were Rilke’s words leaping off my pages. And the snippets from a book that I studied in high school and adored, A.S. Byatt’s Possession were perfect! I don’t care what my friend Wilson said last night in the parking lot before we sadly parted after a rare meeting, the book was damn fine. Mainstream book club material or not!

I’m not sure what tomorrow’s reading will be. I think that Martin Sloane is calling my name. I am artsy fartsy lovesick masochist.

If I’m lucky, I won’t have a chance to continue this rambling tomorrow for I will be spreading my social butterfly wings after another long day at work. I’ll just have to remember to tell you about the shoes next time. Oh, the glorious shoes. I can’t resist a hint: St. John stilettos. Okay, that’s more than enough. The shoes are important, but changing the world is more important. I need sleep to do that.

April 25th, 2006

It is time

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…to kick some serious law booty.

I am way too tired to be witty. I can’t even insert some appropriate Jedi humour or something. I guess I’m a different kind of nerd.

I have one thing on my mind: getting through my 3 100% final exams that start tomorrow. I suppose I have 3 things on the mind then. Make that a 1000 things! So please think of me on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday mornings! I’ve already got a whole army of friends and family sending me good vibes, but we can definitely use some new recruits.

Everything you’ve heard about law school is true. And yet it is not. Some is true and some isn’t. We can argue either side to the death. Argue, argue, argue.

I can almost taste the end. Freedom is within reach.


April 22nd, 2006

Checking In

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I have so much to write about but I really can’t afford the time. I’ve been finding solace in other activities like belting random show tunes out at the top of my lungs. Man, I’m so out of practice! I now have to remind myself to really sing from my diaphragm and not just force air through my little lungs. Blah. I think that a return to singing is in order this summer. Even if I don’t have to practice for a performance, I shouldn’t let my voice get so weak. Yet another thing to add to the summer list! A return to piano might be in order too.

I actually have a small text file saved on my computer with random tidbits I wanted to share with you, but since I’m only taking a teensy weensy break from studying with printed materials, I’ll save those for another day. I’m on my brother’s machine instead. Since it’s slower and all, I’m not as inclined to stay on and play. ;)

See? Even though I’m behind in my study attack plan, I’ve been very focused. I’ve been so busy cramming that I have not actually been online in days! Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve checked my e-mail a few times. I also got a shock when I saw how many unread feeds I had in my RSS reader. Ack! There will be no catching up in that department any time soon! Sorry to those I’ve been neglecting!

It’s nice to think that there are people wondering if I’m alive. I am alive. Not sure if I’m well, but I am alive.

April 18th, 2006

Me: The Latest ‘It’ Girl

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When the sweetest, prettiest and craftiest Gnome in the world calls, a girl answers. Giao (affectionately known as Gnome G) has tagged me. Hence the title of today’s post. I’m “it”, dudes; and it sure feels good. :P

(five, cinco, cinq, 五)

Five minutes to yourself: I’d take out my jewellery-making stash and stare at it all lovingly. With only five minutes, I’d probably only be able to brainstorm projects and not actually get anything made.

Five bucks to spend right now: I would like very much to buy a fashion magazine as I have been fantasizing about this for days. However, that extra reading material would distract me from my studying and I have enough trouble with flickr and blogs. So I would just get a really fantastic mug of coffee (preferably a rich peaberry blend) and some yummy biscotti in a cute, cosy café. I’ve been making my own coffee at home with the cafetiera I brought back from Tenerife years ago but since I’m using some generic dark roast it is not really espresso. So I’ve been drinking decent sized mugs of American strength coffee but that hasn’t killed the craving to hit a really nice coffee shop. Too bad there are none in my neighbourhood.

Five items in your house you could part with, right now, that you hadn’t thought of already: Oh my, there is so much! I am a horrible packrat. Let’s see…old textbooks and notes from high school, old cosmetics, my MD player/recorder that I spent a FORTUNE on in Akihabara 6 years ago, other ancient portable music players (yes, I still have a cassette Walkman somewhere), my childhood sticker albums (don’t laugh.)

Five items you absolutely, positively could not part with in your house: My laptop, my phone, my camera, school crap (right now) and my fabulous handbag collection (okay, that’s way more than one item but you have to understand that I just spent several minutes thinking: “Handbags or jewellery?” And seriously, I even thought that jewellery would have to include my crafting stash! I’m awful.)

Five words you love: There are too many. I am an indecisive bugger but I’m too tired to fight with myself tonight. Here are a random bunch: luscious, scrumptious, loquacious (huh, I guess I like words that end in ious), tautological, ming(s/ing)

Five folks I’m tagging: I haven’t figured that part out yet. I don’t know if these people will do a meme. *shrug* Play along if you’re in the mood for a little mindless fun. I won’t hold it against you if you don’t. I’m tagging Gino, Akio, Reese, Andrea, Andrew.

Thank you to all those who left encouraging comments yesterday. I deeply appreciate them. Really. Merci!

For that, you get some random photos from Macau:
Ruins of St. Paul's


Okay, now here’s the requisite whining. I am tired. I squandered sweet, sweet study time today because of that fatigue. I’m going to redeem myself tomorrow. I am the cramming queen, y’all! Here me roar!

In initially annoying, but overwhelmingly exciting news, I learnt today that I start work on Wednesday, May 3rd and not Monday, May 1st as initially planned. There was a huge mix-up at the clinic and some subsequent e-mail communication problems that had left me in the dark about the possibility of visiting my honeybunches earlier than late May. I’m going to have to take an awful Greyhound night bus to get to Boston on Friday the 28th, but it will be worth it. I can’t wait!

Now I get to see Dave a twice in May! It’s going to cost an arm and a leg but by the end of May I’ll have a paycheque or two to cover my massive Visa bill! Life is sweet when you can have fun and keep a balanced budget.

Another exciting thing is the tagged Andrea aka AMG, Dre, the K-rot, Mari-chan, Mariko and other goodness is back in Scarlem. She has made the trek from from Edinburgh, Scotland to visit friends and family for one week. Since I fall into the former category, I will be shuffling my study schedule to dine and squeal with my precious friend. I feel like I will be roped into doing something very Asian like eat sushi and drink bubble tea since she doesn’t get to feed those cravings in the land o’ haggis. I mean, she doesn’t get to do that kind of stuff without coming across as a Wapanese freak. What is up with people who cannot identify mixies/hapas? Is it like gaydar? Some have it and some don’t? Seriously. I know that the girl has auburn hair, but are you blind?! Anyway.

The ‘It’ girl needs her beauty sleep.

April 17th, 2006

Baby Steps

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I’m so confused. I’ve spent all this time agonizing over 10,000 words on something important. Something I supposedly believe in. It’s over, but I’m not satisfied.

I signed on for 7 years (and maybe more) of continuous post-secondary education so that I could do something meaningful with my life. No doubt, I’ve found meaning in the work. People do have to write about these things.

But when push comes to shove, I get so distracted. The passion burns. I do believe in the good fight; but there are so many other things on my mind and in my heart.

I think that in the end, I’m tired of all this writing. I want to go out there and DO. I joke about how I’m not going to get a break after my scary, scary 100% final exams because work begins immediately afterwords, but you know what? I’m really looking forward to jumping in headfirst. I may choke a little in the beginning, but I think I’m ready.

Maybe all this obsession with beauty–in images, baubles, food–is preparation for all the darkness I’ll have to face this summer. All these little distractions are reminders of the light. When you’re fighting the dark—even if you’re not deep in it and only a guide, you have to remember the light. Without the light, there’s no point in burrowing through that tunnel.

One step at a time.

April 16th, 2006

Festive Fun!

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Wrong Holiday, Right Colours
(Wrong Holiday, Right Colours.)

Once again, I am at my computer sipping an overly-caffeinated beverage and getting frustrated and distracted! Fun! Since it’s Easter, I’m actually a little bit less distracted than usual. There’s certainly more face-to-face distraction with all the holiday events, but knowing that I have to hit mass with my mother and dinner with the extended family kind cramps my procrastination style. :D

I haven’t read all of the Pope’s Easter Urbi et Orbi but I’m fascinated by this year’s political messages. I suppose they are not anything out of the ordinary, but I feel like it’s a good time to prop up the peace cause. I may often deeply disagree with the Vatican, but from what I’ve gathered in the news snippets, this year’s Easter message from the Catholic Church is one that most people can appreciate.

Of course, I think that at least in the wealthy Western world, when covering or discussing this papal address, people will latch on to the call for nuclear diplomacy and point fingers at Iran before turning to talk on Israeli-Palestinian affairs. Sorry, Darfur, not even the faithful are listening to your cries.

And well, apparently Shakira is going to root for Latin America with a Live Aid-style event because no one else will.

I don’t want to repeat yesterday’s (this morning’s?) 5 a.m. bedtime so I’m going to get moving on the work.

Wishing all those who celebrate Easter a happy holiday. While I’m at it, I’m sending early cheers to the Orthodox Christian folk and a belated happy Pesach to my Jewish friends. No matter your faith, I hope that you get to spend some time with loved ones. Spreading the love is definitely a great way to work towards world peace! :D

Spreading the love over a good holiday meal? That’s just gravy. Happy munchin’!

ETA: What are you folks doing today? If you’ve been celebrating, what have you been eating? Being the kooky cosmopolitan Chinese Canadians we are, my family has munched on everything from sweet kosher macaroons to spiced Jamaican Easter buns (we’ve finished the hot cross buns already.) Last night’s dinner out was straight-up traditional Cantonese. Tonight’s dinner is going to be random “Canadian.” The hosts are making a turkey and we’re bringing the prime rib aka roast beast.