Saturday, September 30, 2006

His Mistress

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Her name is RUBY, and she is of Japanese origin. She has been in my Hubbs' life for a few months now, gradually occupying more and more of his time and attention. She has taken away my couple time with my man and ruined social commitments that we would otherwise attend. She has occupied his mind by day, kept him up late at night, and infiltrated his dreams.

But as of today, RUBY will be no more. He's going to sever ties with RUBY this morning, after which time I will have my Hubbs back 110%. I know it will be hard for him, since he has invested so much time on RUBY, but I also know that the farewell will be spectacular and a memorable event for those who are on hand to witness this magnanimous kiss-off.


Wait! Before you start thinking that Hubbs is a scummy, two-timing philanderer, however, I should explain that RUBY is not a woman; she is a computer coding language similar to PERL, and the topic of his Edmonton Code Camp presentation today. RUBY was a topic he and his buddy Steven R. chose to present about, even though neither of them worked intimately with RUBY or knew much about it a few months ago.

That was a few months ago. Since their commitment to the presentation, however, the boys have been hard at work getting to know RUBY inside and out. They've poured hours of their time into converting their knowledge into an engaging, dynamic, and informative presentation for the coding community of the area. These last few weeks have been hellish for me, the wife, who has had to endure being put as a second priority to the completion and rehearsal of the presentation.

Well, at long last we're getting rid of RUBY. The guys present this morning at 9:00 a.m., and once the presentation is over, the royal kiss-off will take place and RUBY will be dunzo. Hubbs will be back to his adoring self, and I will be back to being the object of his adoration ;) And perhaps we shall never speak her name, again.

I can hardly wait. Competing with a decades-old computer language isn't fun, especially when your hubby is an intense perfectionistic workaholic who loves challenges and learning boring crap like this. =P

Does anyone else have difficulties with "mistresses" competing with them for their significant other's attention, or is it just me and my crazy coder of a hubby?





Friday, September 29, 2006

My Hubbs Has It All Wrong Too

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Having read and been inspired by Pagolina's amusing post about the seven things her husband is wrong about, I thought I would also highlight a few things my Hubbs has gotten wrong. Pagolina's hubby responded to her points here, and it was an entertaining read as well. We'll see if Hubbs gets around to tit-for-tatting my well-formed arguments one of these days...

Anyway, here are
a few things that my Hubbs has all got all wrong, too:

a) Make-up: Yes, I *do* in fact look different (and much improved) when this layer of paint is on my face, and just because it isn' t noticeable to someone who regards me through a lens of love does not mean that the rest of the public won't notice my blotchy skin or pimple or pale lips.

b) Hallowe'en Fun Size Chocolate Bars: Buying these will not ruin my diet, because I do in fact have the self-control to eat only one fun size chocolate bar each day, if I so choose. It's just that on most days, I choose to have two, that's all.

c) Dead Sexy, High-Heeled Shoes: Just because I choose to wear high stilettos that give me blisters and impairs my mobility slightly does not mean that I am vain; sometimes, that really is the only pair of shoes I own that goes perfectly with that outfit (plus it does makes me look sexier!). It would be much appreciated if you could just walk a little slower and hold out your arm to keep me balanced, and then I'll be fine.

d) Ne
eding a New Dress: While you as a man can get away with wearing the same suit to several different weddings and just switching ties and shirts for each one, I as a woman cannot do the same. Therefore, a new dress is warranted and necessary for every special or formal occasion that takes place within a season (or 6 months). And don't worry - I will wear that dress again, provided that it still fits a year or two from now.

e) Taking Out the Garbage: Although I am physically capable of doing this chore, it doesn't mean that I am meant to do it since I am pretty sure that you, being taller and stronger, are a better fit for carrying that hefty, long bag of kitchen wastes from the door to the garbage chute across the hall. When I carry the bag, I have to lift my arms to a 90 degree angle to prevent it from dragging on the floor, whereas you do not. This is why taking out the garbage is your chore, not mine!

f) C
elebrity Gossip: Though I realize that this is not quite the same as reading Newsweek or Macleans, it is NOT a waste of my time to read up on celebrity gossip. I can learn all sorts of interesting new things from these sites (like how people can schedule a tummy tuck at the same time that they have their C-sections to deliver their babies, or how methodone is a deadly combination when mixed with anti-depressants), plus I am using my reading abilities and net-surfing skills rather than simply numbing my brain by watching soap operas on daytime television. So, give me a break and let me tell you the latest news on Brad and Angelina, ok?! ;)

g) Apartment Temperatures: It is better to have a cool room than a hot one, because if you are cold you can always put on a sweater. If I am hot even after stripping down my layers of clothing, I cannot remove my skin to get cooler. Therefore, let us keep the A/C on and the fan blowing for as long as we can before the winter hits, at which point I will be forced to turn on the heat.


That's just a sampling of the stuff that Hubbs is misled about. I just don't have the time to post the rest! =P

Thanks Pagolina for letting me rip your idea; it was fun to clear the air! ;)


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Good Housekeeping

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Every so often, I am stricken with the urge to clean. This is usually preceded by an extended length of not cleaning, followed by a few moments of mortifying discovery (usually of the dust persuasion), or the approach of a visitor to our humble home.

Today was such a day. It came upon me like a wave after I noticed that there was an uncomfortable layer of gray that had settled on the top part of my desk (where Hubbs' many Transformers are proudly displayed). I tried to hold it back, to justify that I could wait until the weekend, but alas, the urge was uncontainable.

I began by doing laundry. Mountains of laundry, including all of the bedding. I even replaced our summer comforter with our down-filled winter one. Then I folded laundry, and did the dishes.

Next, I wiped down the shelves and desk tops and window sills and top of the vents, all of which had accumulated a respectable layer of dust. This proved to be a more challenging task than I had initially imagined, particularly when it came to wiping around my Hubbs' very cluttered desk, and his Transformer collection, each of which had to be replaced in their original positions just so.

Post-wiping, I attacked the bathrooms with my spray cleaners and sponges and paper towels and toilet brushes. Then I swept the floors. Finally, I mopped the floors.

And then I rested.

Of course, my urge has dissipated somewhat now that most of the place is clean, but there is still the annoying task of vaccuuming the carpets and the blinds. This I am saving for another day, possibly on the weekend.

And now I can feel good about sitting down with my textbook and reading about pedagogy again.

Fin.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Van City Here I Come!

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As you all know, one of my fave cities in all the world is Vancouver. Well, Hubbs was very sweet yesterday and granted me my wish of going back to Van for a long-weekend getaway in November! =D

I am so excited, especially since we're staying at a different nice hotel (the Georgian Court Hotel) this time, and we're also renting a vehicle, which means adventuring to more diverse parts of the metro area! Of course, chances are we will still end up in Granville at the market, and in Richmond (although I think their night market will be closed by then...booo!), and at Stanley Park, but we may also venture to parts unknown.

Any recommendations, folks?


We're also going to be looking for good, affordable eats this time around. We've already done the Lumiere thing, and the Tojo's thing, and even the Joe Forte's thing. We've been to the Sandbar Restaurant, Sequoia Grill (the Teahouse at Stanley Park), Paul's Place Omelettery, Milestones, and even Cactus Club. Now we want to visit affordable, healthy, and funky eateries. Something that won't cost us a bazillion dollars or gain us a bazillion pounds.

Again, I welcome all suggestions!

Impaired & Impatient

3 comments
I have a problem. Well, actually, I have many, but one of my big problems right now is that I am developing quite a little case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Nothing major for the most part - just some tingling and numbness in my hand and my palm, and the feeling that my right hand is particularly swollen and kind of useless at times.

For the most part, it isn't really "triggered" and I don't feel the symptoms when I'm typing or reading. However, my budding disease does become a problem when I have to write in-class essays or midterm "short-answers" or long-answer final exams, since these are all written by hand and during a short, allotted amount of time. If I have to write down all of my many run-on-sentence thoughts, in just a few short minutes my hand starts to cramp and then numb out. Then, my writing gets much messier and my writing speed dips significantly. Eventually, I have to stop writing altogether, and shake my hand out to try to get some blood back into it. Then I begin writing and the vicious cycle commences several more times before my essay is done. By then, my hand is pretty much done as well.

I met with the U's student disability services department. They said that I'm out of luck; until I get an official diagnosis from a specialist, they cannot help me. I called the specialist. They said the waiting list is 3 to 6 months long and then there is a 2-week scheduling period. My midterms take place in 1 month, and my finals in 3.

So, now I'm impaired, I have to beg my profs to see if they will permit special allowances for my exam-writing, and I have to wait a long time just to get diagnosed, while my poor hand (and median nerve) continue to deteriorate and my right hand grows more swollen.

I am impaired and impatient. And it's only gonna get worse, so it seems. GRRR!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hot and Cold

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Brrrrrr....I'm so cold in here. Why is the living room freezing cold?

Who turned the A/C on?
Holy sauna! It is boiling in here! Quick, turn up the air con and throw the fan on, too!

I can feel ice cold air blasting into my bones. Why's it so dang cold in here?

Man oh man is it ever warm in the apartment! What's the thermostat set at, anyway?


And so continues my daily internal dialogue about my ever-changing temperature preferences. I'm not sure if it has to do with my hot showers and post-workout overheating, or if it has to do with the abundant flow of sunlight into our apartment during the daytimes, but I often find it superbly warm in our home. Then, I try to switch the air-con on, and the fan, and next thing I know my teeth are chattering and I need to find myself a sweater/hoodie/bunny-hug to keep warm.

What is going on here?!?! I'm way too young for menopause and hot flashes so I am quite certain that this is not the reason for my flip-flop between being too hot and too cold.

I think I am just temperaturemental.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Welcome to My Story - Just the Beginning

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My understanding of God, and my knowledge of who Jesus is, has definitely evolved from the time when I first uttered my prayer to Him. As with all young people, I initially thought in extremes; it was either all-or-nothing, and there was no room for grace or love in between the two. My understanding of the Bible and of who God is, was superficial, and I lived for a while in a bubble made by and for "believers."

It is only after 15 years of life experience following that fateful day that I have begun to grasp what it truly means to be loved by God, and to be a recipient of His grace. Now I see things a little differently. Though I used to view myself as an outsider, unremarkable and without a place to belong, I have come to real
ize that we're all not that different after all. You and I, we are both unremarkable in and of ourselves; in some way, we're all outsiders. We've felt the sting of rejection and the pain of loneliness and emptiness. I have committed my share of sin, but then again, so have you; these have come in different packages, and have been lived out in different ways, but in the end, we've all sinned.

Our sin has separated us from God, who is good and perfect and sinless; because He cannot tolerate or look upon sin, we would have all been doomed to never know Him if it wasn't for the fact that He loved us first, and loved us deeply. His love was so powerful that He gave His only Son, the embodiment of Himself, to die in our place. It was because Jesus paid the price of death for my sin, and your sin, that through Him we now have the opportunity to know God first hand, and to have a relationship with Him. I've learned that His gift of salvation (saving us from our own sin) isn't just for me or for any particular people on the earth; I am as unremarkable as anyone, if not moreso.


His gift of salvation is for everyone, including you. His heart aches to forgive, and to lavish blessings on His children who have been reconciled to Him through Christ. He longs to give you and I new hearts that aren't so broken and twisted; He wishes to be in a personal relationship with us, and to become a part of our lives. All it takes is for us to talk to Him, wherever we are, in whatever state that we are in, and ask Him to forgive us and take away our sin, replacing it with His presence in our lives.

In learning that this is His heart's greatest desire, I have come to appreciate my role in the "big picture." I have been called to love, and to be gracious; I have been challenged to become one of God's ambassadors, through whom He can tangibly show love to people who feel alone, and unremarkable, and burdened like I did. He has asked me not only to love Him whole-heartedly, but to love my neighbor and my enemies as well. He has called me to tell my story, and to share the good news about who He is and what He has done for me and for you, to arrange for us to have hope, and healing, and eternal joy through Him.

And this is why I have shared my story with you. May it plant a seed in your own life.


-------,------'---<@

I hesitate to call myself a Christian, not because I do not follow Jesus Christ, but because that label has become overused, and sullied by so many who have not really understood what it means to be a sinner who is saved by grace. Anybody can call themselves a Christian just because they believe there is a God, but the Bible says that even demons believe that there is a God. I would rather not associate myself with those who take on the title of "Christian" and yet continue to act with hate and judgement and self-righteousness. Because that is not who He is, nor is it what He is about. And that's not what I'm about, either.

Instead, I would much rather call myself a follower of Jesus, a personal friend of Christ's.

I am an unremarkable person who has found my significance, acceptance, and joy in the arms of a loving and holy God who continues to make me into a better person.

I am a sinner who deserved to suffer eternal separation from God because my sin, but who was saved and brought into eternal life by His loving act of sacrifice on a cross many years ago.

I am an imperfect creation who has fallen in love with her Creator.

My story has only just begun, and will continue to be written for eternity.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Welcome to My Story - The Spreading Light

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When God began to mend the many hurts in my heart, it was impossible for me not to respond to Him with love; He pursued me and He loved me and He healed me day by day, and I fell deeper in love with my Savior as a result. I started to see how well He handled my life when I let Him control it, so I slowly began surrendering more of it to Him.

It didn't escape my notice that my outlook on life was changing; I started to have hope for my future, both in this life and in the one to come. I wasn't afraid of being in control and having to push myself along to success anymore; I could rely on the One who calls Himself faithful, and He was taking care of the rest. My appearance no longer held power over me, either; God replaced my fixation with my external appearance with a desire to be inwardly beautif
ul. Though of course I still tried to look good, it was no longer something I relied on for validation; the Lord called me wonderful and significant, and I was content to let the joy and love inside of me be the measure of my beauty.

Inwardly, there was no question that I had become a different person, a "new creation" as the Bible calls it. Outwardly, too, there was evidence of change: He had begun to restore my relationship with my mom, and the loud, miserable arguments we constantly had were gradually being replaced by a mutual respect and appreciation for one another (even if we still didn't see eye-to-eye much of the time). As well, God had given me peace about my grades, and released me from the burden of having to be "the best." I gave it my best shot, and He took care of the rest; He still blessed me with a respectable (almost 90%) average in the end, which I attribute to His graciousness rather than my "brilliance."

I became actively involved in attending Bible studies, youth group, and Sunday worship. My knowledge about Him grew, and my relationship with Him deepened. I could finally say that I knew Jesus personally, and He knew me.

As God continued to work in my life, He began to bring forth the aspects of my character that were sinful: my arrogant pride, my desire for vengeance, my anger. I felt convicted about these things, and as I asked Him to forgive me and give me the strength to work past them, He did (and continues to do). Somewhere along the way, I guess my family took notice of the changes that were happening to me.

One of my little sisters started coming to church with me. She learned about Jesus during her time there, and eventually came to know Him as her personal Savior; since then, I have seen amazing positive changes in her disposition and her life.

While I was in Bible college, my other sister and I had a heart-to-heart over the phone, at which point I had the privilege of praying with her as she invited Jesus Christ to become her personal Savior. This was the first step in a spiritual journey that has brought her to an active relationship with Him.

I also had the privilege of introducing my little brother to Jesus. He was really young at the time, but I believe God planted a "seed" in his young mind about Him, and started to reveal Himself to him over the course of his childhood. Since then, my brother has grown impressively in his knowledge and faith in God.

Of the members of my family, my dad was the one we worried about the most. From the time I had become a follower of Jesus Christ, I became a target of his scorn. As a hardcore atheist, he was resistant to everything that that the rest of his family believed in. Watching us say grace at the dinner table angered him, and seeing us go to church on Sunday frustrated him. When I expressed my desire to go to Bible college, he forbade me. When I decided to get baptised, he almost didn't come to support me. It was only after more than a decade of seeing the awesome changes occuring in the lives of his family that he softened his attacks on God and on us.

Eventually, he began to see that he was missing out on something beautiful that the rest of us had come to experience. He longed for the je ne sais quoi that he saw evidenced in our hearts and our lives. By his own admission (as stated during his testimony), he was particularly perplexed by the 180-degree changes he saw in my life and my mother's, and wanted to know the source of this. Finally, after 10 long years of our prayers for him, my dad made a decision to ask Jesus into his heart. With some fear and uncertainty, he took a step of faith and committed himself to following the Christ who had changed his family. I am proud to say that the man I call Dad today is, by all accounts, an entirely different man from the one who mocked me when I started going to church at the age of 15.

And this is how God, in His infinite love and mercy towards His children, brought my family to salvation and gave us eternal life.


Welcome to My Story - The Light of Hope

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I entered high school as an anorexic overachiever with serious self-confidence issues. Unremarkable, remember? That was still me. But then I noticed him. A little dorky, a little shy, but wickedly funny, sensitive, intriguingly reserved, and adorable to gawk at. His name was Jer, and it was lust at first sight. My hormones kicked into high gear when I discovered that he would be sitting at the same table as I was for math class. These same hormones went into overdrive when I discovered that some of my closest friends were actually friends with him. I had found a new past-time; it was Jer.

My academic pursuits and family relationships took a backseat to this newfound obsession. Beneath the surface excitement and lust, however, my loneliness and desire to be accepted and understood and valued, remained. This was a hurt and an emptiness that no amount of attention from any boy could fill; it was pervasive, and the undercurrent of my existence.

When I found out that Jer was a Christian, I didn't think much of it. After all, during the summer my mother had rededicated her life to Christ, so she had been talking about Jesus and God for
several weeks already. I was used to the name, I understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but that meant nothing to me personally. I mean, of course I believed there was a God! He just didn't do anything to or for me; I still considered myself a Christian though, based on this belief in a God.

Two months into the school year, an opportunity to "bump into" Jer outside of the school context arose; our mutual friends were attending some sort of weekend-long youth Christian conference to be held at the school, and Jer would be there. Knowing my penchant for Jer, they invited me to attend, but I was afraid to go. A flood of excuses and questions flowed through my mind. What did these Christian high schoolers do at a conference anyway? Was this going to be some weird cult thing? I wouldn't know anybody there except my two friends and Jer. Was I going to look stupid or embarrass myself? Worse yet, what if Jer thought that my going was a desperate ploy to get his attention? What would he think of me, then? I eventually declined the invitation.

The Friday night of the conference, my mother mentioned to me that she had heard about this youth speaker coming to town. She asked me if I wanted to go. Without even a moment's
hesitation, I said no, and provided her with my litany of excuses. Then, about 30 minutes before the thing started, I changed my mind. I had been thinking about Jer, and had decided that I really wanted to see him (even if it was only for a brief moment or from across a gymnasium). I would go for that one night of the conference. Arrangements were made for me to meet up with my friends.

When I arrived, I had little more on the brain than seeing my crush. However, the first "session" was getting started, so I had to tuck away my personal ambitions and get seated; we perched ourselves on the bleachers in the back. During that session, there was singing, but I didn't know the songs at all, so while everyone else sang I was straining my neck to see if I could spot Jer in the crowd. I didn't see him. I don't remember much of what the speaker said when he finally got started on his talk, but I could see that he was a pretty convicted fellow; he obviously sincerely embraced whatever it was that he believed.

At the end of the session, I spotted Jer, but we didn't have much opportunity to even greet each
other in the mass of other young people who were exiting the gym. My friends asked me what I thought of the conference thus far, and I had to pause before I answered them. Both during and after the session, I had noticed something. I couldn't describe it in words, nor could I really provide examples of it, but I felt like there was something different about the atmosphere of the evening. It felt like the air was lighter, and people were more cheerful, and there was just something really special about being there. I felt welcomed even in the midst of hundreds of strangers, and I couldn't explain why. It was the best that I had felt in a long, long time, and I was enjoying myself.

Though I wanted to return for the remainder of the conference, I realized that the possibility of this was small; I was scheduled to work all the next day (a Saturday), and in order to attend I would need to find a co-worker to take (or switch) shifts with me on short notice. I looked at the time; it was 10:30 p.m. My heart filled with disappointment, because there was something intoxicatingly appealing about being there that I wanted to experience again.

Ever the optimist, upon my arrival home I began calling the list of people who might take my shift. After several people declined, I was fortunate enough to find a taker: a girl named Joy, who also happened to be a Christian. I thanked her profusely and vowed to return the favour one day.

The next day's sessions and activities were pretty good, although my attention was only half
focused on the speaker; I spent most of the morning and afternoon sessions sitting on the bleachers and admiring Jer from afar. I also drank in the still-enticing and warm atmosphere of the conference.

During the evening session, my friends and I somehow ended up sitting on the main floor, about 15 rows away from the stage. This was an unfortunate choice, as it made it twice as awkward for me to locate and gawk at Jer; to do so meant that I would have to turn my head a full 180 degrees every few minutes, and this would be quite embarrassingly conspicuous. As a result, I decided to actually listen to the message for once.

The speaker talked about Jesus, and about sin, and about a bunch of other things that honestly went in one ear and out the other. Near the end of his message, he asked the audience a question: If you were to die tonight, right there in your seat, could you be 100% certain that you would go to heaven? I don't honestly know what happened, but I felt like he had looked directly at me and asked me that question. Would I go to heaven if I died right then? Could I be 100% sure of that? At that moment, I realized that I could not. I mean, I knew who Jesus was, and I believed that God existed, but I didn't have a relationship with them; I didn't know Jesus any more than I knew the Pope, and if it took knowing Jesus as my Savior for me to go to heaven, then this was something I needed to do! My eyes welled up with tears at the realization that I was going to Hell, even though all along I thought I would go to Heaven.


The speaker asked the people who wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior to stand up, and to walk up to the front of the stage to meet with these church people who were standing there with name tags. These volunteers were going to pray with anyone who wished to become a Christian. I hesitated. I didn't want to stand up. I didn't want anyone else to know that I was someone who didn't know Jesus. I didn't want to be embarrassed. Silently, I shed tears in my seat, with my head bowed down low. When my friends noticed this, they urged me to stand up, and offered to go up with me. After a lot of persuading, I agreed, and we walked up together. Then I got grouped up with a volunteer, who brought me to the hallway behind the gym and led me in a prayer asking Jesus to be my Savior.

The night ended soon after this "altar call." When I emerged from praying, my friends were waiting, eager to celebrate with me my newfound salvation and eternal life. I was glad for their enthusiasm, but emotionally drained from crying and praying. I didn't even look for Jer in the crowd; I just went home and went to bed.

When I awoke the next day, I didn't feel like I was any different than the night before. I knew I had
prayed to accept Jesus as my personal Savior, but I didn't feel like there was any change in my life, except for the guarantee that I wasn't going to Hell anymore. I returned for the last session of the conference, happy to have become a Christian but having no idea what that actually meant.

After that fateful night of accepting Christ, I returned to my unremarkable "normal life." My classes were the same. My relationship with my parents was the same. My grades were the same. Nothing had changed, or so I thought. Maybe I wasn't really "saved"? Maybe that whole thing was just an emotional reaction to the powerful sermon and some sappy background music? I didn't know what to think. My friends invited me to go to their church with them on Sundays and to attend youth group on Friday nights, and I accepted their invitations, mostly because I would see Jer there and not so much because I wanted to worship God.

Attending church services and Sunday School and even going to youth group had little impact on my feelings of inadequacy and emptiness, although I did notice
that I no longer felt the compulsion to count my calories. As a result, the pounds came back on as my appetite returned. However, I guess I stopped caring about finding validation through my appearance; I had the love and acceptance of these new church friends to make me feel good about myself.

During Sunday School, I began to notice the huge discrepancy between my knowledge of the Bible, and that of my friends. This bothered me immensely, and so I started to read the Bible every day in the hopes of "catching up" on the tales of Noah and Elijah and the apostle Paul. After all, I still cared about what others thought, and I didn't want them to think I was some sort of ignoramus. I also started to pray, and asked God to help me learn this stuff so that I could be a better Christian. I still wasn't feeling very much like a Christian, and my life still felt unremarkable in every way.


What I learned from the Bible, and my chats with God in prayer, began to change me over time. By no means was this an overnight process; it would be a lie for me to say that I truly "knew" Jesus based on uttering a single prayer at a youth conference. However, as I read more and more of His Word, I grew more and more hungry for it. As I prayed in Jesus' name every night, I found myself wanting to communicate with Him more. The things I learned and the shift in my heart during this time was what really changed my life.

I learned that God loved me for who I was, flaws and all. His love for me was unconditional, and He accepted unremarkable little me without pressuring me to be anyone other than who I already was. He loved me so much that He even used my sin, my lust, to bring me to Him. I learned that I was remarkable - valuable and significant to Him because I was created by Him, and wonderfully made in His image. I learned that He wanted to unload me from the burdens I had carried for all those years of my young life, and was happy to have me surrender control of my life to Him; He promised to work for my good if I loved Him and was willing to make Him a part of my life.

I also learned that I was a sinner, and that because I had sinned, my eternal destiny was to be separated from Him and from all that is good. However, because of His love, He sent His only Son, who was sinless and blameless, to die on the cross for me; Jesus exchanged His fate with mine. It was by the blood shed by Jesus that my sins could be washed away; it was because of His great love and mercy for me on that cross that through Jesus I could be in relationship with God without shame.

During this time of Bible reading and prayer, something happened to me on the inside. I can't adequately describe what it was, but the hurt and the pain and the loneliness and the emptiness I had felt for so long had gradually been taken away, replaced with what can only be described as a sense of peace and contentment and joy. I didn't notice it at first; in fact, I probably didn't notice it for a full year. It was something that others around me noticed and commented on; it was something that my parents (in particular my dad) took note of. I felt lighter though, and no longer obsessed with creating my own success in this life; I no longer looked inwardly for strength and for purpose, and I stopped making myself the center of my universe. My motivations changed, and so did my pursuits; I wasn't pushing myself to be the best in academia or in appearance or in my relationship with my family anymore. Instead, I was relying on the strength that Jesus gave me each day in order to do my best and make Him proud; He became my focus.

And as I was changing ever so slowly because of God's hand at work in my life, I had no idea about the bigger changes He would bring to the life of those I loved . . . .


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Welcome to My Story - The Darkest Days

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When my unremarkable self entered junior high, I became an even smaller fish inside a larger pond. A pond where competition was heavy in both the looks and brains departments. A pond where one's value and worth were determined largely by their social networks and what they had to say about it.

At first, I didn't care about others' opinions of me, or so I told myself. I was there to get educated and get out, and I was not about to engage in social games that might jeopardize my one ticket to success: my grades. However, my body and my hormones betrayed me, and the turning tide resulted in my caring very much about what others thought. Their opinions either validated my existence or confirmed my unremarkableness. Usually the latter seemed to prevail. My looks were inadequate and I was still overweight. Strike 1.

Add to that the mounting pressure to achieve high honours (because anything below 90% is a fail), and I was becoming undone. Though I poured equal effort into my classes as always, my grades began to dip. The message I got from my parents? And the one I told myself? Second best was not enough. In my mind, my unremarkableness was confirmed yet again. Strike 2.

My relationship with my mother also deteriorated; I was a temperamental teen, and she was not the mother I wanted her to be. I felt very much like nobody around me listened to me, and nobody really understood. I was failing in my attempt to be a good daughter. Strike 3.

I don't remember the first time I considered ending my life. It was in the eighth grade. My grades had declined to the point of the low-80's (a bonafide "fail" in my books) and I was at my heaviest weight and largest size, ever. My mother and I could no longer speak more than two sentences to each other without it becoming a full-blown verbal confrontation, and nearly all of my friends had decided to stop talking to me for no reason whatsoever. I was feeling incredibly unremarkable, all alone, and entirely unloved. It seemed to matter not whether I lived or died, since I considered my worth to be that insignificant; if I was the captain of my soul and master of my own destiny, then my ship was definitely sinking, and I had no idea how to rescue it.

I contemplated taking every pill in our medicine cabinet for many weeks on end. I thought about how unremarkable my death would be, how few people would mourn, and how some might even be glad to be rid of me. I wondered how long it would take for the pills to kick in, and how long before I would die. I pondered about the level of pain I would endure physically before I passed out, and I often gazed into the medicine cabinet, thinking about my worthless life and worthless death.

I also thought about God, and about whether or not He existed or cared. I knew little about Him, but enough to know that He was not visible in my life and could not heal the pain and hurt in my heart, produced after so many years of pushing myself yet still feeling unremarkable.

Though I considered killing myself many times, somehow I never mustered up enough courage to actually follow through. In part, this was due to the fact that I was never alone in the house; my siblings were always there, and I was concerned about them having to find my dead cold body in the basement. This was not their problem, I reasoned, and unremarkable as I was, I was still too smart to traumatize them like that.

Somehow, my obsession with death faded gradually over time, and my life changed again when I contracted chicken pox a few months later. I lost a week of school and ten pounds, and by the time I had returned to class, people began to compliment me on the most unremarkable part of my self: my looks. Apparently, ten pounds was a noticeable improvement in my appearance, enough to garner me a tiny bit of praise. For an individual starving from insignificance, this was huge, and I ate it up, vowing never to gain back the 10. My grades were still far from excellent (surpassed by several of my peers), and my relationship with my parents was still strained, so this was the last hope for me: if by my looks I could achieve some form of success and sense of self-worth, I was going to pursue it to the death.

I began to eat smaller and smaller portions in a bid to keep the pounds off. More weight dropped off my frame, and I received increasing amounts of external reinforcement for it. My unremarkable self was starting to feel valued again, even if it only lasted momentarily and was completely external in nature. I clung onto this success with all of my hope; it gave me temporary reprieve from the unremarkableness, loneliness, and insignificance I still felt deep within.

When my consumption dwindled to 400 meagre calories a day, I could reduce it no less without fainting, and thus introduced exercise to my routine. Still more weight came off, and more compliments and attention poured in for me. Eventually, I was the smallest size I had ever been, and the lightest weight I had ever been. I felt great while the validation lasted. Unfortunately, the compliments and attention stopped coming after a while, and my weight levelled off. My period also stopped (amenorrhea), and my hair was falling out. I also began to faint quite often.

But, obsessed as I was with wanting to feel remarkable and successful, I continued abusing my body with little food and a lot of activity. I could count calories in my sleep, and knew exactly how many were in each item I put in my mouth. In spite of my seemingly-improved exterior, however, inside I was still the same insecure, lonely, and unremarkable little girl who longed to be free of the pressures to succeed by the world's definition. I was still hurting and alone, and my heart yearned for validation and acceptance that wasn't dependent on me. I was sick of being my own captain, and sick of bearing the burdens for my destiny by myself.

I felt hopeless and lost. I had no idea that the next year would mark the greatest event of my young life.


Welcome to My Story - The Beginning

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My story is a story about an unremarkable girl who was born into an unremarkable family in an unremarkable town. My life, at the very beginning, was highly unremarkable. I ate, and slept, and grew, and ate, and slept, and grew.

As a young child, I was taught that everything I wanted to have, I would have to work for; this world was the world that mattered, and this life was the one that counted. I was the only one who had control of my life, and my success or failure would be dependent on me alone. It was an unremarkable philosophy that many have heard, and many continue to live by.

I learned that success was defined by straight A's, good looks, and behaving for my parents. Since I was a chubby little girl with an unremarkable appearance, the message quickly sent to me was that I would never be good enough in the looks department, so I should really invest more time in my brains and my behavior. I believed with all my little heart that even though I was unremarkable, my success in this life was only going to come if I brought home perfect grades and was obedient to my folks. Since I was homely and plump, my looks were going to be useless to me. Improving my lot was going to be dependent on this unremarkable little girl getting a good education and eventually, a good job. It was all up to me. I was the captain of my own soul.

So how does an unremarkable girl go about creating her success? I began to pour myself into my books. I studied hard and read a lot, and put an immense amount of pressure on myself to perform well in school and at home. When my efforts finally yielded fantastic grades report card after report card, my pride and motivation were increased; when my parents got compliments about what a great kid I was, that became my reinforcement. Of course, nobody noticed the insecurity, rejection, and loneliness I experienced from being and feeling unremarkable, and from bearing so pressure and weight much on my young shoulders; I was good at masking it and quite frankly, it was up to me in the end anyway, so what could anyone else really do?

As you have undoubtedly figured, Jesus Christ did not fit into this equation that was my understanding of life. My young eyes did not look to anything beyond this world, nor did I even consider it worth much of my time. Sure, I knew "God" existed, whoever He was, but that meant nothing to me, to the work I would have to invest in my schooling, and to the rejection I felt in my heart for being an unremarkable little person.

Even as I was dragged to Sunday School, I had no awareness or desire to seek out the bearded man on the colouring page or in the pictures hanging on the wall of the church. Who was this Jesus Christ? I didn't care. He could have been fictional or real - it made no difference to me, because I controlled my life, and any success I could garner was the result of unremarkable me earning it, and it was up to me alone.

Of course, then I hit junior high and everything changed...


Why I Should Never Read for Fun

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Two things happen:
1) I lose track of time and subsequently, productivity, and
2) I am often challenged and convicted by what I read.

I recently inhaled two novels: This Present Darkness, by Frank Peretti, and Death Watch, by Jack Cavanaugh and Jerry Kuiper. The latter was consumed in a matter of two hours this morning.

The first book, which I have read several times before, reminded me about the importance of prayer and the reality of an enemy that looks to destroy God's people.

The second book, an allegory of sorts, hit my spirit hard.
Though I initially thought the book was pretty contrived, in the end I came to appreciate its message condemning our generation of believers for not caring about our neighbours' eternal condition. If we knew that someone we cared for was about to die in 48 hours unless they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, would we tell them about Him in order to save their lives? The book compares the situation of people randomly dying due to their receipt of a "Death Watch" notice, to people who are dying every day without knowing the Lord; the point is that the physical death of a person is worth preventing, but even more so is the spiritual death!

Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them. - Eccl. 9:12

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. - Matt. 10:28

Anyway, I was pretty convicted by this book, and it definitely gave me pause to consider the last time I told anyone about the One I serve. So maybe I will do that in the next couple of blog posts, if you don't mind. If you aren't interested in hearing it or feel offended by my story, feel free to skip to my less-provacative, non-religion-based posts. And if you are interested, please stick around and enjoy!

Good and Pointy

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I came across this insightful quote today, written on NK's blog:

Imagine a world without authors. A world where works get penned, but no one takes credit. A world where academics contribute to a bank of ideas with no treasurer.

Unfortunately, if no one took credit for their writings, then no one would take responsibility for them, either. This is an intolerable consequence. So we should not model our information systems on principles of open source software.

Of course, the narcissist that I am would never consider forfeiting credit for my words. Nonetheless, this gave me pause. Thanks NK! =)





Sunday, September 17, 2006

Talk It Out!

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I am a big proponent of talking things out.

You know, explaining things to someone else until yo
u suddenly figure it out for yourself. I think that we all need to mutter to ourselves (in an inconspicuous, non-insane sort of way) or find a sounding board (read: hubby or best friend) to listen to us and bounce ideas off of until we can come away with a better understanding.


A long time ago, when my Hubbs worked for cruel masters who forced him to pull 36-hour days, I remember sitting with him at his desk while he looked for errors or bugs or whatever wasn't working, on a computer screen filled with code. I saw letters and symbols but I had no idea what they meant, so I couldn't help him out at all in that respect. Instead, I would sit and listen as he mumbled to himself, talked outloud to noone in particular, and eventually tried to explain what he was doing, to me; I understood none of his explanations, but he looked cute talking so I just stared at his cuteness and smiled. Anyway, inevitably he would find his problem/bug/error mid-sentence during his explanation, and presto! Problem solved. This happened a lot. It was like he just needed the process of talking it out to help him process information and problem solve and see things in a new way.

My point? Today's archaic classroom - the ones where kids aren't allowed to talk (except when the teacher suddenly feels like there should be a brainstorming session or class discussion). Teachers are totally doing their kids a disservice by not letting them talk to work their way through ideas and math problems and science concepts. Without this talk, I think a lot of kids are finding it hard to come up with novel solutions or process information into genuine understanding.

I am an advocate of talking (as those of you who know me already know). I think a bit of noise is healthy for every classroom, and a relatively noisy class is a productive, engaged class.

So talk already!


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Phenomenal Phantom

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Few things inspire me more to sing than watching a live showing of a well-written, well-performed, musical stage production. And now I feel like singing =D

Watching Phantom of the Opera for the second time didn't make it any less entertaining; if anything, this second viewing was better, because I was more familiar with the songs and could sing along, plus I knew where to look for the "surprises" that happened during the show. It also helped that we were seated on the main floor in some seriously sweet seats. We could actually *feel* the heat from the pyrotechnics on the stage!

I remain amazed at how they do those candles on the floor of the stage when Christine and the Phantom are down in his "lair"....do those things just come out of the floor of the stage or what?

Truly, I believe the talents of the actors playing the Phantom and Christine and Raoul really make or break a performance, and we were lucky enough to score a very strong set of lungs in all three actors playing these roles. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Raoul was a good looking young dude (as opposed to shaggy-haired and older looking, which would have been all wrong for Christine)! ;)

I was a little worried for the Phantom tonight, though, when he had to sing while perched on the rather wobbly looking angel statue/fixture thing that was suspended from the ceiling. He looked like he was having some issues with his balance, and I kept waiting for him to fall and plummet to his death during the performance (which thankfully didn't happen, but if it did it would have been memorable for entirely different reasons).

Anyway, overall it was a fabulous night of great food and great company, followed by great entertainment. I am not complaining; I just wish I had more Saturday nights like this! (hint hint Hubbs!!).


No no no no no no no!

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It is coming.

The skies have darkened.

The temperature has plummeted.

The ground has dampened.

Leaves have decided to divorce their branches.

And I have been forced to turn on my heat.

Winter is nearly upon us.

May it be a brief and mild affair.






Thursday, September 14, 2006

I am Whining

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It's gross and stormy outside.

I didn't eat frequently enough and so now my arms and leg
s are shaky and I feel weak.

I'm a week into school and already I am behind in my schedule of readings and study questions.

I think I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

My bathroom and kitchen are filthy but I don't want to clean.

I feel like eating junk food but I can't.

I feel like having sushi but I don't want to brave the ugly storm.

The stupid people at Student Awards still haven't given me a scholarship yet.

I feel restless too.

My back is sore.

There's nothing good on TV and nothing good online.

And I'm complaining on my blog.






Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Arbitrary Sizing ... Or Our Overweight Youth?

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So remember how I bought that t-shirt from my faculty a few days ago? And remember how I got a swag t-shirt from the supplement shop a few weeks before that?

Well, there seems to be some arbitrary sizing going on with my t-shirts these days. My new t-shirt, sized Adult Small, is a tad on the tight side (but that's okay because I am planning on losing some weight in the very near future). My free swag t-shirt, which fits just right (snug and loose in all the right places), is sized a Youth Medium. So explain me this: how is it that an adult's *small* is smaller than a youth's *medium*?!?!?!?

I understand my size range and the need to be flexible with my sizes depending on the label/designer/store, but I don't understand the arbitrary nature of this sizing. Do t-shirts not have a sizing standard to which they all adhere? Are our youth becoming so "unpleasantly plump" that they actually wear bigger medium t-shirts than adults who would wear a small? Or are youth-mediums actually just the same size as adult-mediums?

Someone clear the confusion for me, please!


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

We Evicted George Foreman

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Lest lawsuits come a-knockin', let me clarify: our George Foreman grill was evicted yesterday. I got him for Christmas from my dear sis Superstar, and began enlisting his services when I was living in my old apartment in the "hood." When Hubbs moved into our present home, George moved in with him, and soon became a part of our dinner table. He grilled for us and even helped us with entertaining some guests who had come over for burgers. He was reliable and powerful, though perhaps not the cleanest one of the bunch. We tried to help him clean up his grime, but somehow, a little bit always managed to stick around. After a year and four months with us here, the accumulation of his filth finally caught up to him; he wasn't opening up as much, and he started to smell bad too, especially when he was all fired up. In spite of our efforts to get him clean, he refused to get clean. Sure, he still did his job around the house, but we started to notice that he was burning our food now.

Anyway, after a painful decision, we decided that we needed to evict George. He wasn't pulling his weight anymore, and the effort that we had to invest in h
im just to get him to do a simple job was not worth our time. So, yesterday, after we found his replacement, we broke the bad news to him and helped him pack up. He's gone now, and we eagerly look forward to our new helper, Hamilton Beach:


It was a good time while it lasted, George, but we gotta move on. Hamilton - welcome to the family!


Monday, September 11, 2006

A New "Year" means New Stuff To Do

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As a person still heavily immersed in academia, I consider that my year actually begin in September and ends in August (or April, depending on how I look at it). Strangely enough, though, others who are not so much a part of the academic world also operate by its calendar. For instance:

-My church's "Fall Kick-Off" starts in Sept.
-Our couples' group begins meeting in Sept.
-The gym's various specialty classes (like Salsasize, which I am considering signing up for if Hubbs is willing to join me) begins in Sept.


Sadly, with all this stuff going on and starting up it also means less available blogging time. =S As such, do not be alarmed if you don't hear from me for a few days; I'm around but just a little busy with readings and assignments and projects and workouts and chores and IRL social commitments, but I'll be back. =D

Oh...and did I mention that autumn is my favourite season?! YAY for Fall!






Thursday, September 07, 2006

Packratitis

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In my bid to make room on our bookshelves for my textbooks, I began a small cleaning/packing frenzy that lasted approximately 2 hours. During that time, I was once again reminded of my affliction, or the thorn in my side, if you will.

I have packratitis.

Yeah, you probably have it too, to some degree. We all do. It's that little sentimental part of us that insists on keeping every card, every gift, every badly-coloured colouring page gifted to us by someone we care about. It's that frugal, practical, hoarding aspect of ourselves that wonders if we might need something again on some indeterminate rainy day down the road. It's that weird greedy defect in our personality that holds on to useless trinkets and stuffed animals and bags simply because we don't want to see things go to waste.

Well, my packratitis is getting a little severe, so I had to buckle down and junk a few items, including some booklets from our pre-marital counseling sessions (sorry Pastor Ed!), some old textbooks with zero resale value, some ugly coconut candles that we had never burned, old bills and papers from an eternity ago, my cheap-a$$ "rock kit" from that stupid geology class I had to take, as well as an assortment of other knick knacks that were useless to me or anyone else (you know, the "gag gift" variety ).

Of course, I'm not completely cured, because I packed away several stuffed animals, some of my old essays, class notes from last year's studies, old bills from the repair of our car, and many more things that I probably should have just tossed but haven't quite mustered the courage to throw out yet.

The hardest things to decide on are actually my books; at what point is a book no longer worthy of being kept? When it has been read? When it loses its front cover from over-reading? When its contents are no longer relevant to our current life situation? *sigh* I still have several boxes of textbooks and novels sitting in the storage room at my bro's place, which I have yet to rummage through and make some decisions on. Surely my psych textbooks (which I paid hundreds of dollars for) are no longer worth any money, nor are they terribly useful to me now. However, is there enough child development content in those texts for me to hold on to them? Would it be a tremendous waste for me to just pitch (or donate) my books when I spent so much money on them and they are in such remarkably pristine condition?

And so, my packratitis continues to wage war on my space, and I continue, day by day, to amass a wealth of "stuff" that likely has little lasting value to my life.

Is there a cure, or do we just need to move to an even bigger place?!??!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

My Worst Jobs

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Whilst reading Mike Chalmers' blog on colour-coding how good his jobs were, I reflected on my own employment history - the good, the bad, and the oogly. I thought I'd share some of my yuckiest jobs with you:

* Designer Sunglasses Salesperson in Mall Kiosk - It was a full-time summer job, and at times
I worked from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. That wasn't so bad, but I didn't get the legal allotment of breaks, and sometimes I worked the kiosk by myself, which meant that if I needed to use the washroom, I would have to take everything down and lock up. Thankfully, the kiosk was located near a leather goods store that was manned by a Lebanese teenage guy who a real flirt and very nice to me; sometimes when I needed to go he'd just watch my stand, since his store saw even less traffic than my kiosk did. Of course, I learned a lot about Oakleys and Serengettis and higher-end sunglasses with impact-resistant, shatter-proof lenses. I quit once the summer was over.

* Go-Kart Track Cashier - It was another summer job, one which I took right after high school. I was supposed to be the ticket seller and soft-serve vendor at a small, local go-kart track. Unfortunately, my boss was a sexist slimebucket who refused to let girls work on the track, and who insisted that his "girls" wear tight-fitting clothes that "flattered their bodies" at work. As well, he'd change his shirt in the middle of the kitchen (and nobody wants to see his gross body), and at one point he asked another female employee (a friend of mine) to take his wallet out of his back pocket for him; his excuse was that his hands were dirty, but I think the only really dirty thing about him was his pervo mind. I quit after 2 weeks.

* Hostess of an Italian Restaurant - After being a hostess at Earls (which I loved), I decided to get another hostessing gig when I moved. Unfortunately, this hostessing job paid horribly, and not only was I expected to seat customers and run the occasional entree, but I was supposed to fill up all the guests' water, serve the buns, clean the tables, clean the bathroom, and shut down the patio as well. The tip-outs from the servers at this place were minimal, and I caught the restaurant recycling uneaten dinner buns from one set of diners to the next. The restaurant was filthy and gross in the back. I quit after 3 weeks.

Those were probably my top three worst jobs of all time, and I am very glad that I will no longer have to deal with that level of ickiness or law-bending once I enter the highly-regulated teaching profession. Of course, I am definitely glad to have lived through the horrors of these jobs, since I probably built a lot of character from my experiences. Or so I'm told.



Missing the MTR

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Today I really miss Hong Kong's public transportation system, namely their trains on both the MTR and KCR lines. The MTR train lines work in an interconnected fashion, so that the various lines connect to form a circle around the entirety of Hong Kong. As a result, you can pretty much get anywhere in HK using their train system, especially in conjunction with their bus and mini-bus routes. The KCR line further extends this access into the New Territories (more inland, northern region closer to the Chinese border).


The trains in HK were always air-conditioned, as were the stations. In the winter when it was cold outside, they were heated. The stations were also very secure, with hidden security cameras as well as station staff located throughout. Although there were always tons of people waiting for each train, the wait was never more than a few minutes, and if you missed one train, you could still catch the next one three minutes later. The train stations were also malls unto themselves; they contained not only a variety of shops, but bank machines where you could take out extra cash! Finally, there were no tickets to fuss with at the train station; you used a debit-like Octopus card and swiped to enter and exit the train area. The local 7-11s (of which there was nearly one on every block) were convenient locations for you to add cash to your Octopus.

In my current city, the wait for the train can be longer than 15 minutes; if you miss your train, you could be waiting a long time for the next one. As well, we have only a few limited stops to which the train will run, and it definitely doesn't cover more than the center of the city and some very northeast district of town. Furthermore, our train stations are dingy and dark, and sometimes a haven for street people who need a warm (or cool) place to lay their head. There are no shops nor bank machines in our stations. There are just an abundance of ticket-selling machines, which one has to fiddle with and then "stamp" their tickets before they can get on the train. And when/if the train guy decides to come and check on your ticket, you have to dig around and locate that stupid little piece of paper.

Overall, it's an entirely inefficient transportation system, and our town could learn a thing or two from the urban developers in HK, particularly since HK's square mileage is about twice that of our city, but its population is about 6x greater.

*sigh* Maybe I just miss HK, period. It's the beginning of their school year there as well, and I very much miss my life there as well as my students. If only Hubbs & I could have everything we want from here but be living there!!! *sniff* Just one of those days, I guess.



The Keys to Happiness

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What is the secret to lifelong happiness? My Hubbs seems to think there are 11 essential elements, and Ridley adds one more. Both are interesting perspectives to be sure, and contain some pretty good ideas and essential truths. That being said, I'm not so sure that spinning rims and thick gold chains really add to happiness, but that's just me. ;)

So anyway, this got me thinking about what I humbly percieve to be the keys to happiness, and here's what I concluded:

1) A loving support network - Being surrounded by people who love you unconditionally, and who actually know who you are (the good and the bad), is an essential ingredient to being ha
ppy.

2) Contentment in all circumstances - Sure, there's always stuff you'd want to improve about life, but finding something, anything, to celebrate and be happy with in life definitely adds to one's feelings of joy. Think like Winnie-the-Pooh, who always seemed to find something to be happy about.

3) Hope - This may be in the form of God or some deity, or it may be the promise of better things for tomorrow or next year or eternity, but having something or Someone to hope for and pursue is vital to happiness.

4) Consistency - Everyone has principles and beliefs, and I think that acting according to one's beliefs rather than contrary to them, is important for internal consistency and for feeling happy.

5) Identity & Sense of Self - To be happy, it is also necessary to embrace yourself and the unique qualities and gifts that you have to offer the world. There's no other you! Finding this appreciation for one's own value and contribution to humankind is essential to helping them find happiness in this world.

I think that the keys to happiness are pretty much intrinsic, with the exception of #1. Though the more superficial and material things like money, or a nice home, or vacations definitely can help people feel happier, I think that those should be considered more as tools and means to bring about happiness, rather than generators of happiness in and of themselves. But that's just me.

*******

Speaking of happiness, a new movie is coming out either later this year on Dec. 15th, called The Pursuit of Happyness. It stars Will Smith and his son Jaden, and is based on an autobiographical book by Chris Gardner of the same name. You can watch the trailer here, and the movie looks like it'll be one of those tear-jerker, tear-at-the-heartstrings, emo-heavy flicks. I can't wait! =D




Sunday, September 03, 2006

Deal of My Lifetime

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If you aren't already aware, I am a bargain hunter. The frugal part of me (a value instilled by my hard-working, lower-middle-class parents) refuses to pay exorbitant amounts of money (or even regular price) for almost anything. As a result, I often make a beeline for the "Clearance" and "75% off" signs upon entry into any store, and generally refuse to look at the other "newer" feature items hanging on the walls or displayed in front-of-the-store shelving.

This past weekend, I had a chance to shop with my bro, Vanilla Con, and Mommy. We headed to one of the Winners stores in town, where I found nothing that I wanted to buy; everything in their racks looked remarkably picked over, and I wasn't interested in sifting through mounds of ugly clothing just to find one or two articles that may or may not fit. When the rest of my shopping posse went to pay for their goodies at the till, I began to walk towards the benches located at the front of the store (near the tills), when what should catch my eye but a Clearance sign!

I began to look through the sale bin beneath this sign, as well as its neighboring sale rack, which featured a few "leftover" items. One of these items in particular caught my eye, be
cause it was a beautiful eye-catching cranberry red leather briefcase. In my mind, I quickly figured that the briefcase would still cost me $80 or so at its lowest clearance price, since the original "Compare at" price detailed the bag to be valued at $220 elsewhere. Imagine my surprise, then, when I saw that the most recently marked-down price of this gorgeous bag was $25!!!!

Immediately I checked for rips or tears or a faulty zipper, none of which I found. This was truly an opportunity I could not pass up, given that I will be entering my field as a professional in less than a year. I held tightly to my newfound treasure as I sped walked to the nearest till, where I raved to the cashier about how great a deal this bag was. My mom confirmed its material to be genuine leather (using her trusty sniff test), and I proceeded to purchase this:


A Latico Leathers Classic L0126 2-Compartment Briefcase, in cranberry red Vaquetta leather. Priced originally at $220 ($139CDN at Winners), found online for no less than $108US (+ shipping), and purchased by moi for a humble $25.

Now isn't that a deal of my lifetime?

Swag Hag

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Remember how I told you I love the free mini-shampoos and sewing kits provided at hotels? Well, I've decided to coin the term "swag hag" to describe people like me, who basically like anything that's free.My most recent "acquisitions" include a double-CD, fridge magnets, and beach bag (for sponsoring a World Vision HopeChild), and various shampoos and lotions and soaps from the hotels. Today, my Hubbs (so by default, I) also got a wine-bottle-opener kit, a magnetic game, an insulated coffee mug, and two computer/work bags from his placement company. A few weeks ago at the supplement store, I received a free t-shirt and some protein bars and protein drink mixes, along with two foamy round things that I think were meant to be used as grippers for barbells but now act as heat pads for my hot dishes.
Anyway, most of this stuff has nearly zero market value, especially since it's all branded with company logos. However, I still love every item, for they represent things that I was given for free, things that were gifted to us as tokens of appreciation for our patronage or our support, or for no reason at all. These swag items represent a generosity and grace that I sincerely appreciate, and even though I probably won't use half of this stuff and will likely donate the other half, it's nice to have received it nonetheless.

And that's what makes me a swag hag.