Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Of late: May Musings

       1/ Watermelon radish reverence.  2/ Hey Happy cafe in Victoria.  3/ Brown Ridge, Saturna Island.  4/ Emily Carr 2015 grad show.
5/ Hidden brook at corner of St. George & 11th.  6/ Bagels in Mt. Pleasant.  7/ IT'S OK at home.  8/ Raspberry rhubarb.

 I told you I'd write soon, and then a whole season went by. The cherry blossoms even came and went. No apologies-- because no posts means living my life; actually standing under the blossoms and having blossom fights (like snowball fights, but with pink petals), rather than documenting everything-- but I am eager to carve out a space for this once more.

This is just a little something, fashioned from a structure that I saw elsewheres, but it's enough to thrust me back into using my fingers to type the words that I feel so hard in my brain. 

I do hope you've been well.


of late, I am...

Making// time for myself. I've been following the cues of my body and heart, and not overdoing social time. It might not make sense to an extrovert, but I'm finding that I am the most me and the most present when I schedule one friend date during the school week (usually one-on one), and then one other/ maybe bigger social event on the weekend (family date, bunch of friends for dinner, or another one on one). Anymore than that, and I go a little sideways. 

Drinking// warm lemon water in the morning, and ACV in hot water for the rest of the day. A sip of B's beer at dinner just for the taste.

Reading//  a novel and a half per week. Being a substitute means that there are stretches of time where I can close the classroom door, and get lost in words for a while. I've read more in the past three months than in the previous three school years, I think. I get recommendations from friends, the internet, then place books on hold at the library and visit their aisles routinely. 

Recent favourite: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. (electric)
Currently thumbing through: The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (so good, even 60 pages in, even about BASEBALL)

Wanting// the feeling of peace and mindfulness to stick around. So golden in the moment you have it, but slippery too. Trying not to want it too much, and let things be.

Watching// the last season of Parenthood with B, and lamenting that it's almost over. A tiny bit let down by Season 3 of House of Cards so far. 

Listening// to traffic on Fraser St. and not being bothered by it. (this is drastically different from just eight months ago).

Eating// a bit too much sugar. And lots of home cooked meals

Feeling// a lot of love and wonder for my friends here in BC, and wishing those in the Yukon lived closer.

Wearing// all my prettiest shoes to school, without the need for snowboots or rainboots for the walk to work. This hasn't happened in four years. 

Noticing// that feelings come and go, always. Even the anger. Even the jubilation. 

Thinking// about softening. About being gentle with the critic. About the columns in my spreadsheet for our trip to Europe that are filling up with plane tickets, car rentals. About what these next months hold.


Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 in Pictures


I thought about you, this, often in the last five months. I should write something. So much has happened. I should record it for me, for us, for them. 

At some point, after a couple months and then one more, and another... it becomes much harder to begin again. The images and events seem to take on either very mundane properties, or becomes so huge that I wonder, how can I explain this to anyone?

So I suppose it takes something like the first day of a brand new year to catapult me out into the expansive sky again.

As per tradition, I give you my collection of 2014 photographs. I do it more for me than you. It steadies me to know where I've been; it shows me the history of this year that makes up the skin cells and molecules I have at this moment.

To be sure: know that it has been a bit of a trying year. Pictures don't ever capture this. Sometimes it feels like a falsehood for me, to share images of only the highlights, and not talk about the hardships that come from being complex human beings. I don't want to mislead you, or myself.

So trust that when you see my photos--or anyone's photos, for that matter-- you are seeing the golden moments. The ones that inspire hope or laughter. The ones that remind you that life is good. The ones that are necessary.

Gratitude to the golden moments of this year that got us through all the changes of growing up.

Happy New New.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Love Letter

On our last full day in the Yukon, I finally broke the ice with my favourite server at Sakura Sushi. She may not be everybody's favourite--she's got a stony face that rarely smiles, but she is so efficient and so unapologetically herself. In our four years of living up North, she had never engaged me in conversation before, so I take it as a sort of opening of the universe that this happened just as I was preparing my heart to leave.

She wanted to know if I was Chinese (yes), if I was a visitor (no), and then ultimately, did I live in Whitehorse (no, Haines Junction.)

Her characteristically impenetrable face shifted like a seismic event.

"Haines Junction?! Why would you live there? It's so small! Whitehorse is okay, but Haines Junction?"

Yes, Haines Junction.

You are so beloved.

This fondness: I didn't think that it would happen to me, when I moved there in 2010. We thought, at most, we would ride out one year and get some experience and pad the resume. I kept the Yukon at arms distance, never allowing it to reach any real part of me.

But.. you got in, you wily bastard. You got in and you now claim pieces of my heart.

I grew up there. Or, it may be more true to say, I grew longer there; wider there. I stretched myself very tall, and spread my fingers until they were full. If my spine is straighter, it is because of you; if my soul is stronger, that is because of you too.

I know that nostalgia has a way of highlighting only the most golden tones, and it forgets all the lonely moments, far away from family. But this is a love letter to you: so nostalgia away. Golden everything, for the moment.

You were so vast, that you gave me the space to change. There was no ceiling on the tops of your sky, so I never feared that I would hit my head if I kept on aiming higher.

So I kept on aiming higher.

Your mountains and trees were still for me, in the moments in my heart that I was anything but. You let me walk in your forests, and worry them with my feet, just as I was worrying in my mind. Somehow, each time I was finished in those sacred green spaces, back on the gravel road, clarity or peace would hold my hand.

I think that you are magical.

Your wisdom rubbed off on me, and you trusted me to take care of the young people on your land that are lost, or scared or needing to be understood. When I think of them, the ache in my chest is great. They were my light on very dark days, and taught me more than I ever taught them. My last day at school was a big splinter in my thumb; a crack on my favourite mug... they were so excited for summer to be here, that I don't know if they realized truly that we would never banter in the hallway again, or eat walnuts in my office and talk about their troubles.

I did.

So I hugged each of them as many times as they would let me.  If I could have shrunken them down and carried them with us in the pocket of my jeans, I would have. But then that would be taking them away from you, and you are what is right for them.

You filled our loneliness at being away from home, with the most beautiful people on earth. Truly. If friends are family that you get to choose, then our Yukon family was one of the best choices we have ever made. They folded us into the batter of their lives as if we had always belonged there. It is soothing stuff, to be made to feel like you belong. It allows you to be brave, genuine, good. It means that you are seen and heard. I am realizing these days, that one of the most important things to feel as a human being, is that you are seen and heard for exactly as you are.

These last few weeks have been sprinkled with some tears. I feel very much like I am not here, in the present moment. Not yet. It is frustrating as all hell for me to feel this way. I cherish feeling peace, of accepting the choices I've made in life. I don't like regret. People ask me if I am so excited to be here, and their faces fall a bit as I can't match their own joy. I feel a bit lost.

So I do this:

Late at night, when it is 1am and I am still awake because of feeling all the feelings, you arrive. I think you are my spirit animal. I imagine that you turn into a blanket--one that is slightly golden, the kind that if I squint, I know each strand is made of raven, elk, moose, friendship, mountain, snow, children, fire. I feel you gently laying on me. You know I like compression, so I am squeezed equally from all sides and the force creates some support for my raw heart. I get to go to sleep.

My dear friend, you taught me to be patient and forgiving of myself, so I take that lesson into this new chapter. I don't feel, yet. But I will. Until I can, I know that you protect my ability to do so. I know from your teachings that in spite of these tall glass buildings I see around me, and the power lines that silhouette against these skies, there is no ceiling on my life.

I can keep aiming higher.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Life in Pictures: San Francisco

I'll have to come back one day with a pal or two in tow,
maybe during the spring or summer,
when I'm not spending most of the hours indoors,
conferencing, filling my brain with data,
(albeit really really good data),
and bring a pogo stick for getting up those insane hills.

Still, it was good and nice and necessary,
to leave the snow for a little while and head to
fog, and many coloured people,
and baked goods with edible flowers on them.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to: Make Cheese

I made cheese. Therefore, I now win at life.

A. How to Make Paneer (an incomplete, out of focus, step by step guide):

Stuff you need..

  • whole milk (not UHT pasturized, though)
  • lemon juice or lime juice
  • big pot
  • cheesecloth / hemp cloth/ lightweight dish towel

We used 2L of whole milk, and the juice of one lime. Enough for two people to eat for dinner (if you are not as much of a maenad as B and I, you can prob. feed more people than two)
Easy to double, if you want to make more.

Friday, March 21, 2014


I've had some posts lined up in my brain: one on San Francisco, one on making cheese, another one for Pi Day. They are rattling around somewhere in the spiderwebby attic of my cerebral cortex.

But instead, I am going to write about money, honey.

Yeah. I've been thinking about it non-stop lately. In good ways! In grown-up, empowering ways. It has always been a fascinating topic for me, as opposed to a taboo, awkward, private one. I'm turning 30 this year, and money is on the agenda of my 'sit down and thinkaboutit' horizon.

(If this topic is not interesting to you, I would skip this post.)

Here is a brief look at my history with money (inspiration here):

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On Becoming a Sourdough

- photo(s) by Margaret Liu

Cheechako: A greenhorn, or newcomer to the Yukon.

Sourdough: A Yukon old-timer; a true or veteran Yukoner.

On February 17th, 2014 at 1: 13 pm, I realized that I had unequivocally become a sourdough. I was on the last leg of my travel back home, after a tasmanian devil of a trip from HJ -> WHSE->VAN->SF. I was wedged in between two unfriendly ladies in the plane-shaped tin can, hurtling through the biosphere, feeling dehydrated, unsettled and a bit morose, to tell you the truth. It is always nostalgic and bittersweet for me to visit my old life, especially solo.

Engrossed in a book, I hadn't looked up from my own ego and woe in an hour. The captain's message stated that we were about to prepare for our descent into Whitehorse, I wearily glanced out the window, and..... Mountains.




My heart literally plumped back from its Grinchian lump of coal, and I grinned like an idiot.

I was back in the Great White North.