Why Again?

Everything seems to be taken care of: I'm packed, and the plane leaves in just over 9 hours. I'll get there with two and a half hours to spare. And then it will be some time before I will return to visit again.

Sometimes, it's with great sadness that I part with this city. As I drove home after dinner today, I thought about the striking mountains casting long shadows under the sunset earlier today, and a tear almost came to my eye. Vancouver is, as one friend so aptly put it, dreamy. And I wonder constantly why I am so inclined to leave it for years at a time.

Heck No, I'm Not Blogging That

Over IM, yesterday (slightly edited for you):

ME: ... I probably could have showed hEr a little more that I loved hEr; I'm not particularly expressive (in relationships).

HIM: which is funny for a metro guy. speaking of metro, today i spent money on a psp ... but probably spent equal amount in total on clothing and skin care products. scary.

ME: I'm still denying the metro. Skin care? Oh, I gotta go get some before I move to Asia.

HIM: really? i'm not even bothering to deny the metro. and if you deny metro then you could just be gay instead.

ME: Yeah, I think I'd rather be metro.

HIM: this is what i got. X had heard about it and was getting some, so i pickd up some at the same time. they have a store in taiwan it seems. heh. it's expensive stuff, but i figure go all out, if this doesn't work, i just won't bother with anything.

ME: My dermatologist said not to bother. But I still do. Because "obviously", I know better than he does. He's not metro, after all. He doesn't have that instinct.

HIM: not to bother with skincare products?

ME: Just a good soap. Like, a regular soap you can buy at Walmart. he had a brand called Basic or osmething.

HIM: maybe he's saying you're beyond help. but queer eye taught me collagen fights wrinkles! they must be right because they're gay! is your dermatologist gay? hmmmmmm?

ME: He's not. That's why i don't trust him. :-)

HIM: (this conversation should be blogged)

ME: Hahaha ... you do it.

HIM: i don't think i want to admit i discuss skincare products on my blog

ME: ... but it's okay for Mr. 49% Fem, I suppose.

HIM: it's one thing to say "sure, i'm metro" and get chicks fawning. quite another to say, ask where to get a manicure.


HIM: you're 49% fem?

And the conversation pretty much ended there.


Yesterday, as I bounded up the cement stairs back to my house, I dropped my phone. Now it's scratched. Damn it. I want a new one -- good thing I won't have this one for long.

Two and Counting

It's been two years now.

Two years that I've religiously blogged (about non-religious stuff). Two years that I've spilled my silliest thoughts, confided my innermost questions, and shared my stupidest observations. I hope we've laughed and cried together, though I somehow have the feeling that you've mostly laughed at my crying instead. Just wanted to post a quick note and thank all of you for sticking with me this whole time (or pretending to by posting sporadic comments as if you'd been there all along).

Thank you so much! Now go do something productive.

Wait, Which Tree?

Things are happening rather quickly, and when I get a chance to breathe, the same questions go through my mind.

Is this right, this path I've taken?
What if I'm chasing the wrong things in life?
Is this what I really want?
Or am I just fooling myself (and doing a damned good job at it)?
What if I'm barking up the wrong tree?

What if my key to happiness was in front of me all this time, those years ago, and I didn't appreciate it for what it was? If I try to go back (when I finally see the light), will it still be there?

In some ways, "it" isn't just an "it"; it's a "they" as in people, places, experiences. I don't want to be a nomad, because it feels like I'm just walking away from the things I want.

I Heart Vancouver

It's home. Everytime I come back; it's just "home". Even if it's raining, or snowing, or whatever.

Had an enjoyable lunch at Sophie's Cosmic Cafe with Hougee, gorgeous sunshine beaming upon us all the while. And then an easy ride through some neighbourhoods, windows down. The weather was absolutely perfect.

I don't know what it is. I just heart Vancouver so much.

I Heart IKEA

After a failed week of apartment hunting -- though it has been conjectured that I'm being too picky but I don't care because if I'm going to live there for a full year, you can bet I'm going to be selective such that I like it and I don't regret signing at that lease price -- I'm was feeling a little depressed yesterday. I needed a little pick-me-up, and more importantly, a break from looking at sub-par apartments. So late in the afternoon, with slightly sore feet from walking around, I dropped by the intersection of NanJing East Road and DunHua North Road: home of the only IKEA in Taipei.

Oh. My. Gawd.

I love IKEA. It was like seeing an old friend on the streets of a foreign country. It's the exact same stuff over here, except that some of the tags are in Chinese. I wandered through the underground showrooms while my iPod was funneling "FeelGood" into my ear (which is the playlist of music that always puts me in a good mood). I was so happy. So happy.

I mean, I loved IKEA back in Vancouver, even more in Palo Alto (when I actually had my own place to do up). And here, I don't necessarily have a place to decorate -- I'm only looking for furnished apartments -- but dammit, I was so happy there, I practically wanted to rent an empty room and fill it up like page 372 of the IKEA catalog! *

I heart IKEA, and I thank it for brightening up my day.

* No, page 372 is just a blind example for writing purposes. I doubt IKEA even has a page 372 in their catalog. Oh, but they have a lot of catalogs in-store, which is different from the rare-as-gold IKEA catalogs of North America.

Wood Prick

It was bound to happen, sheerly based on the exposure I was suddenly getting. I mean, how could I have expected otherwise?

I sat on a stool, backpack still on my back, iPod in my ear, eagerly awaiting my steamed veggie dish. I remove a set of plastic-sealed chopsticks from the cup, and slid the plastic sheath off the wooden tool. It awarded me with a spear into my finger, and drew blood.

Traumatic, I know. But I regained my composure quickly, and with pinpoint accuracy, I extracted the javelin from my finger. Now, the only reminder left of that sliver's intrusion into this shrine is the trail of dried blood leading from the bloodstream to the outside.

Exactly That

Things cost the most when you have a picture in your mind of what it is you want. You know, when you go,

"Oh, I know exactly what I'm looking for."

Because it means you have a certain look you want from it, or certain feature set that no other make/model fulfills for you. None of the other competing products give you that same feeling or satisfy that need in the same way. And when you let your purchases head in that direction, you get stuck like me: stuff is expensive.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm high-maintenance (though I fear that I really am), but I just always have a certain style/feature in mind in my head. And that means, almost invariably, that I get disappointed at the selection out there, and it nearly always limits my choice of products down to one. And somehow, that one product that "does it for me" is never the cheapest one. Ever. It's just how I am.

And what with the apartment hunting I'm doing (thanks to that rat bastard StupidAgent), I've seen my budget head north some 20% just to find something else that might be the same. And you know what? It's still not the same.

Alright, Hold It

Alright, look. What part of

"I'll hold this apartment for you."

could there be some kind of misunderstanding with? I know that Asian practices tend to be a little more under-handed, but this is ridiculous. This agent rented it out to someone else, hours after he promised he'd hold it for me until I could meet with him again (tomorrow/Saturday). I'm pissed. I feel like getting all ghetto on his ass, because he's dealt a blow to my future lifestyle, which I was quite looking forward to. This all means that tomorrow, I have to head all over town looking for another suitable apartment in the area.

This is harder than it sounds because people don't simply post their apartments for rent anywhere. You can't just walk up to a building and say, "I'd like to live here," and then expect there to be any postings there. Most of the time, these studio apartments are handled through rental brokers/agents. Pain in the ass.

Great, I have a work permit to work here, but nowhere to live while I work. Time to put my comfy shoes on again. Dammit! I'm absolutely livid right now. Somebody's gonna get hurt real bad ... somebody.

A Flash of Life

We keep hearing about this, in the movies and in supposedly real-life stories. But that hasn't satisfied my curiosity. Have you suddenly found yourself in a life-threatening position? And does your life really flash before your eyes?

If it does, what parts of it flash? (Would kind of be a shame if your potentially last thoughts of your life were about that time you had to line up for three hours at the DMV, huh.)

Getting Oriented

Wow, it's really going to happen: inside of three weeks, I will be transplanted to Asia.

Actually, I think my friends and family are a lot more excited about it than I am. I've got a big bag of mixed emotions about such a momentus (for me) move to the Orient. There are things I'll look forward to, things I'll miss, things I'll welcome, and things I'll resist. (Hey, that rhymes.)

So frankly, I've been more thinking about how I'm going to enjoy my time here, what I should buy to make my life more comfortable, and such material comfort items, rather than thinking about the actual work that I'll need to do. Instead, I should be trying to figure out how to develop the market here, and how I'm going to cope with my mediocre Chinese skills in a market that requires careful wording and diction.

Exciting times ahead, guaranteed. Let's see where it all goes.

Temporary Insanity

So I've been kicking it in this city for a month already now. And there's this constantly irritating aspect of this society that keeps eating at me (ironically). And it's this.

Nothing here seems to be permanent.

It's insane how temporary things are around here. You order from just about any tiny restaurant here -- where most people eat -- and they give it to you in disposable wares. Paper bowls, paper cups, disposable chopsticks, plastic spoons. And that's not just if you order take out; a lot of restaurants serve their sit-in customers with disposable things. And then all in a plastic bag.

Can you imagine the volume of trash generated by a single person eating two or three meals a day, each with a bowl, cup, and utensils? And then imagine that some 20+ million people live in this tiny little island alone?

It's all disposable, all made just for temporary use. It's all kind of sickening, really.

Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Riding

It's one thing to ride a scooter in crazy traffic, but it's a total different thing to ride in the back of someone's scooter. And if you don't know how to handle it, it's easy to get all freaked out. (I know this firsthand.)

First rule: no moving around to see what's going on out there. That means no wagging your head to look at the view on either side as buildings and trees pass by. The weight of your head (plus oh-so-sexy helmet) will wobble to and fro when you do, and you'll ruin the driver's with your unpredictable (to him/her) motions. And you'll notice that your driver (whose hands you've placed the safety of your life in) will be trying to frantically recover balance in a hurry. This also includes the rule that you, as the passive rider in the back, should not be shaking around or trying to catch your balance frantically, because you and your driver will end up over-compensating, and then you may as well run the scooter into a wall to get it over with.

None of that. Instead, you need to find that happy place in your mind, and calm yourself. Trust your driver; it's not like you can control the vehicle from that backseat anyway if you wanted to. Stay tranquil. Be zen-like and unaffected by your surroundings.

Heck, sometimes I just have to sit there straight behind my brother and stare that the back of his helmet, doing nothing, looking at nothing in particular. A few times, there was a van or car that we narrowly missed, and I was really glad I didn't see until after we passed it. My brother obviously saw them and took appropriate action. Had I seen it earlier, I would have freaked out and ironically would have caused an accident by trying to prevent it.

Once you've graduated from the inner peace of riding the backseat, you might train yourself to become not just cargo, but actually an assistive existence on that scooter. I managed to predict most of the scooter's next motions, and helped by leaning into the turn ever-so-slightly. A tiny pre-emptive move like that can go a long way to helping, just as moving a sliver in the wrong way can really mess stuff up. Of course, this means you need to be somewhat telepathic of your driver's tendencies. Fortunately, my brother's driving style is much like my own, and I assume that my scooter riding style (when that day comes) will mirror his closely.

So far so good, no accidents. I'll be a speedy little scooter boy myself in no time!