Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Older and Wiser?

I had a long conversation with Rose last night. It’s good to have a girlfriend for a change. We pondered upon some big questions about love and relationship. Thinking back I’ve dated non stop for more than a third of my life. When Gladwell said 10,000 hours is all it takes to master a skill he certainly left out relationships. Aren’t I supposed to get older and wiser? I’m older now but I find myself in the same quandary as I was 8 years ago.

Often times when we slip and fall we pick ourselves up and ask what have we learn from it? What have I learned from the last eight years of failed relationships? Nothing really.
Was I ever in love or was I going through the highs and lows fueled by hormones and pheromones? If love is a drug I’m just slowly coming out of bad trip. Was it love or lust? Was I looking for sex or intimacy? Overtime I’ve come to the realization that it is only during sex can a woman so easily hold her partner’s full attention. There could be hot models, six other lovers and family feuds but during that short span of time to him I’m the sun, the moon and the universe and there is nothing outside of me. A Freudian psychologist would have said that I lust after attention because I grew up without a strong male figure. Ultimately I want love and intimacy. Sex is just a quick and easy fix that gives the illusion of those things. A cheap trill but who would know better to tell the difference? Traditionally people have this convoluted theory that women get attached after sex. In reality, women want to feel romance before the act and men gets pussy whipped afterwards. Speaking from personal experiences there has never been an exception. It’s not a race or a competition and I don’t prefer it that way; it just is. Rose said nothing hurts more than when you’re the one that’s being dumped. I’ve had the fortune of not knowing the despondency of unrequited love. Maybe it’s a good time to quit while I’m still ahead.

Some people believe we are born with all the knowledge we will ever have. Learning is an on-going process of self discovery. I haven’t changed. Perhaps I’m stronger, or am I just more caliced? I know myself better now. I’m slightly depressive and self deprecating. I admit that there were times when I depended on relationships for a quick fix, a distraction, an excuse from myself. But I do think there were also times when I was in love. If nothing else I’ve at least fostered some life-long friendships and that is more precious than all the roller coaster rides combined. At some point one just wants a consistent companionship more than anything else.

I can’t say if I was ever really happy being in a relationship. When the right song comes onto the radio while I’m driving in my little Beetle I’m happy. It’s not a matter of bitterness or skepticism I simply have no need to get involved at the moment. I’m content being by myself. If and when I make an exception, he better be good.

Monday, March 30, 2009

June 1st 1999

Coming soon: The day that changed my life...

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Can’t say that I’ve ever known an Abigail before. We met under unlikely circumstances, but nothing really surprises me anymore. When I learned of her concert this afternoon I made a point to go to support my Eastman colleague.

The Ciminelli Lounge is an exquisite circular hall in the dorm building for more intimate recitals. Her apple red dress greatly contrasted with her pale white skin, exposing her well toned arms. She was calm, radiant in a DePre-nesque way, almost beautiful. As the sound of the cello filled the space I was enveloped by something greater than the sound, it was Abby. Her breathing, deep and steady, in sync with the music, swallowed me as if we were part of larger organism, expanding and contracting, light and free as a jelly fish in the sea, earthy and sturdy as a mammoth.

This is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed listening to Benjamin Britten at a performance. Maybe it was her unorthodox introduction to the third cello suite with her bright colorful voice, almost more suitable for a singer, a perfect match for her capricious character. The Prokofiev sonata was well balanced and flawless.

But first, there was the Grand Tango by Piazzolla.

Make yourself a cup of tea and I’ll tell you about the day that changed my life.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Future Tenser

Future tenser, you know them, you’ve dated them. They are the people that have fucked up everything in the past and present. They are the people who have nothing, no credit but empty promises. It’s the future tensers that got us in such deep economic shit in the first place. If there is one thing I want my daughter to know is that be wary of men who speak in future tense. If a man is not good enough for you now, he never will be good enough, like a pair of unfitting shoes.

Day after day he calls and texts, “why aren’t you responding? I’m so sad and lonely, I want to come back. I will be good. I will do anything!” And time and time again I’ve made it clear, “It’s over. I don’t want you here.” How arrogant, self-centered, narcissistic asshole do you have to be to assume that you are entitled to have anything, anyone at anytime you want. No means no. Respect my right to choose. To impose upon someone is no different than being a rapist. I am no one’s property and I answer to no one. If I don’t respond it’s because I don’t want to, and I have everything right to live my life the way I want to, peacefully. So for the thousandth time, leave me the fuck alone! As an old Chinese saying goes, try to reason with someone irrational is like playing piano for a bull. I do not intent to turn this blog into a vengeance-filled bashing ground but there are things on my mind that I can not avoid over spilling. Sometimes I feel as if I have no other option but to escape to a monastery. I’d consider becoming a nun if I was at all religious.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009


How close have you been to the edge?

I became familiar with the works of Elizabeth Bishop during my senior year in high school with influences from Mr. James and Mr. Fox, two of the best English teachers I’ve ever had (although Mr. Fox was more of a Whitman fan). Around the same time I started to read Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Erica Jung. I collected their books mostly from Brownbag bookshop on Monroe Ave, my favorite used bookstore and displayed them on the same shelf together everywhere I moved to. Couple months ago John Dearman took a glace at the shelf and asked with a chuckle “Are you ok?” It was amusing and refreshing that someone finally made an appropriate comment about the books after all these years. I’m not a writer, not a poet and not suicidal.

Last week I read about a play called “Edge” portraying the final hour of the life of Sylvia Plath at the MuCCC on Atlantic Ave. I’ve been meaning to see it but never made the time to do so. Few days later I caught on CNN that Nicholas Hughes, son of Sylvia and Ted Hughes, hanged himself in Alaska. So tonight, I made a point to go see the play.

It was a 2-hour one woman show with a chair and a small table. Marcy Savastano, who played as Sylvia, spoke in a “tight, clipped, vaguely aristocratic accent” which reminded me of the Lilith on Frasier. It’s not exactly what I imagine Sylvia to be but it’s not entirely impossible or unlikable. I for some reason have always preferred Gwyneth Paltrow’s image of Sylvia in the movie of the same title. Not everything in the play was factual, such as the address of her last residence, 23 Fitzroy Road which was few blocks away from where Yeats once lived, not where he actually lived. Some of the monologues were clearly based on sentiments from her poems and journals but many were elaborated from controversies involving her husband Ted Hughes, who some suspected was abusive and ultimately responsible for her death. In the play Sylvia laughed and said he was a “killer of a husband” pointing not only to her death but a copied suicide carried out years by the woman he left Sylvia for, Assia Wevill.

I’ve always found Sylvia to be a quite ordinary, witty and likeable person with great talent, passion and pride for her works. I flip through her journal from time to time and I find myself thinking and writing some of the same things. Again, I’m not a writer or a poet and I’m not suicidal. There is a common misconception that people who are suicidal are somehow an entirely different breed with insanity but in fact they are rather normal people with eccentricities just like the rest of us. I feel weird saying all this because we always say it takes one to know one. A coward will always be a coward. It takes great courage, conviction and bravery to leave this worldly place. Love and hate are strong emotions on two sides of the same coin and in a parallel way so can be the passion and desire for life and death. Perhaps people who choose to leave us don’t see it as a deficiency or unwillingness to live but rather a strong, unfaltering will for ultimate solitude.

I understood and could relate to every word in the play. The part about her authoritative unyielding father who managed them as objects in his life rather than kids that needs to be loved. He taught her to strive for nothing but perfection. The part about her demanding mother who loved her unconditionally and instructed Sylvia to live life exactly the way she wanted her to live. And the part about Ted Hughes; especially the part about Ted Hughes. It was an abusive relationship I knew all too well. I understood it when she said, when I looked into his eyes “I knew he could kill me.” I understood every syllable in that sentence because I too have uttered those words. It didn’t mean he was going to or intent to pierce her heart with a knife. Certain people, mismatched souls, have a way of pushing others over the edge. It’s a mentally abusive and dangerous game. It’s like meeting that man or woman who could make you do anything but multiple by a thousand times more intensity to a level of utter mutilation, sick and twisted.
No man could ever come close to understand the unique and indescribable pain and helplessness of a woman being restraint on the bed or followed in the car or being put under close surveillance by an unreasonable, jealous and insecure man who acts out of irrational madness. I’m embarrassed to even talk about the kind of bullshit I went through in the last eight months of the dysfunctional relationship. I’ve had two police reports, the first one told me “the writings are on the wall, people don’t change.” The second pair just asked why I haven’t moved out as if it was solely my fault that I’m stuck in an abusive relationship. Yes, abusive, when someone forces to you live with them against your will it’s abusive. I knew I was responsible for my life but not everything was easy. The frustration was imaginable. More than once have I shouted on the top of my lungs while throwing coffee mugs across the room with fury, “I’d rather die than to be with you!” And all he would respond is “that’s a mean thing to say.” You see, only a coward and self-centered bastard would say that because they can’t imagine such strong emotions and not to mention actions. Any warm blooded person could hear those words came out extreme desperation but not him. He stayed and pushed me and pushed me closer to the edge until I can no longer breathe. Even now he still tries to make his way back into my life. Over my dead body. I have every right to decide who I want or don’t want to be with. And if it ever comes down to those two choices, there no doubt in my mind which one I would choose.

Sylvia didn’t have a blog. Ted Hughes destroyed the last few months of her journals entries before her death. We may never know what her thoughts where at those last hours. We will never know if she really meant to die or it was just another one of her acts to cheat death like an escape artist. To wear it proudly like a battle scar. Some people needs to be close to the edge to feel alive.

The way I see it is that if I can’t live the life I want to live, there is no point to live at all. I’m not a writer or a poet and I’m not suicidal. Certain unmatched souls just have a way of pushing me over the edge. I must flee from them as one would from a deadly virus. I’d rather be alone for the rest of my life then to risk being with another psycho ever again. But a girl on roller skate told me for every woman there is a future asshole waiting.

Two Poems by SP

Lady Lazarus

I have done it again.
One year in ever ten
I manage it –

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify? –

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day.

Soon, soon the flesh
The grave cave ate will be
At home on me

And I a smiling woman.
I am only thirty.
And like the cat I have nine times to die.

This is Number Three.
What a trash
To annihilate each decade.

What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see

Them unwrap me hand and foot –
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.
The first time it happened I was ten.
It was an accident.

The second time I meant
To last it out and not come back at all.
I rocked shut

As a seashell.
The had to call and call
And pick the warms off me like sticky pearls.

Is an art, like everything else.
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels rea.
I guess you could say I’ve a call.

It’s easy enough to do it in a cell.
It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.
It’s the theatrical

Comeback in broad day
To the same place, the same face, the same brute
Amused shout:

“A miracle!”
That knocks me out.
There is a charge

For the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge
For the hearing of my heart –
It really goes.

And there is a charge, a very large charge
For a word or a touch
Or a bit of blood

Or a piece of my hair or my clothes,
So, so, Herr Doktor.
So, Herr Enemy.

I am your opus,
I am your valuable.
The pure gold baby

That melts to a shriek.
I turn and burn.
Do not think I underestimate your great concern.

Ash, ash –
You poke and stir.
Flesh, bone, there is nothing there –

A cake of soap,
A wedding ring,
A gold filling,

Herr God, Herr Lucifer

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.


The tulips are too excitable, it is winter here.
Look how white everything is, how quiet, how snowed-in.
I am learning peacefulness, lying by myself quietly
As the light lies on these white walls, this bed, these hands.
I am nobody; I have nothing to do with explosions.
I have given my name and my day-clothes up to the nurses
And my history to the anesthetist and my body to surgeons.

They have propped my head between the pillow and the sheet-cuff
Like an eye between two white lids that will not shut.
Stupid pupil, it has to take everything in.
The nurses pass and pass, they are no trouble,
They pass the way gulls pass inland in their white caps,
Doing things with their hands, one just the same as another.
So it is impossible to tell how many there are.

My body is a pebble to them, they tend it as water
Tends to the pebbles it must run over, smoothing them gently.
They bring me numbness in their bright needles, they bring me sleep.
Now I have lost myself I am sick of baggage –
My patent leather overnight case like a black pillbox,
My husband and chilled smiling out of the family photo;
Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.

I have let things slip, a thirty-year-old cargo boat
Stubbornly hanging on to my name and address.
They have swabbed me clear of my loving associations.
Scared and bare on the green plastic-pillowed trolley

I didn’t want any flowers, I only wanted
To lie with my hands turned up and be utterly empty.
How free it is, you have no idea how free –
The peacefulness is so big it dazes you,
And it asks nothing, a name tag, a few trinkets.
It is what the dead close on, finally; I imagine them
Shutting their mouths on it, like a communion tablet.

The tulips are too red in the first place, they hurt me.
Even through the gift paper I could hear them breathe
Lightly, through their white swaddling, like an awful baby:
Their redness talks to my wound, it corresponds.
They are subtle: they seem to float, though they weight me down,
Upsetting me with their sudden tongues and their color,
A dozen red lead sinkers around my neck.

Nobody watched me before, now I am watched.
The tulips turn to me, and the window behind me
Where once a day the light slowly widens and slowly thins,
And I see myself, flat, ridiculous, a cut-paper shadow
Between the eye of the sun and the eyes of the tulips,
And I have no face, I have wanted to efface myself.
The vivid tulips eat my oxygen.

Before they came the air was calm enough,
Coming and going, breath by breath, without any fuss.
Then the tulips filled it up like a loud noise.
Now the air snags and eddies round them they way a river
Snags and eddies round a sunken rust-red engine.
They concentrate my attention, that was happy
Playing and resting without committing itself.

The walls, also, seem to be warming themselves.
The tulips should be behind bars like dangerous animals;
They are opening like the mouth of some great African cat,
And I am aware of my heart: it opens and closes
Its bowl of red blooms out of sheer love of me.
The water I taste is warm and salt, like the sea,
And comes from a country far away as health.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Book

The forth book has arrived today. So far this year she has ordered me: “American’s Best Graduate Schools,” “Best Law Schools’ Admissions Secrets,” “Future Medicine” and another one I didn’t bother to open. I have a feeling it’s not by Rick Steves or Eyewitness Travel or anything else I have on my Amazon wish list. It’s not a bad thing to get books in the mail but if you know anything about my family dynamics you would understand why I find this to be a bit annoying and somewhat offensive. But of course, it’s not as insulting as when she told me to “just get married and have some kids ‘cause there’s no hope for me for more schooling and a better career.” Coming from a family rooted in high education in scientific fields that is probably the most insulting thing I’ve ever heard of from my mother. Oh well, underneath it all I know she just wants me to be happy. Although she might not approve of my methods but ultimately I’m doing things that make me happy, and she should be happy for me too, she just doesn’t know it yet. Just as she thinks I am not on the right path to happiness yet. We love each other and it’s all good at the end. I just need to figure out a way to make enough money to take good care of her when she gets really old.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Went to see the first part of a documentary film about Ernesto "Che" Guevara this afternoon at the Little. There was a photo exhibition of him at the Galleria Pacifico in Buenos Aires and T-shirts of Che has became an iconic souvenir for Argentina (and probably for Cuba as well). The Argentine doctor was a master in guerrilla warfare and a principle organizer in Fidel’s 26th of July Movement which overthrown the US-backed dictatorship of Batisda in Cuba in December of 1956. Che was a prolific writer, ranging from personal journals to theory of revolution, warfare and education reforms. Few years ago the movie “A Motorcycle Diary” was made based on Che’s journal about his journey from Buenos Aires to Cuba. One of most well-known quote from Che was that “the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love” and that there is no life outside of revolution. I think to be great in anything one has to have a great feeling of love and at the absolute pinnacle of any career it becomes a way of life and there is no life outside of it. This is probably true of any successful artists or scientists. Maybe it’s easier for me to appreciate some of sentiments having grown up in a communistic society (call me a communist sympathizer). When some people think of Communism they think of unmotivated laziness and heavy dependency on the central government for fixed income. Both in theory and practice that can not be more true than saying HIV is a gay disease. When a street cleaner work with the same vigor and pride as a cardiologist you better believe that’s going to be the cleanest street you’ll ever step your feet on. I’m not in anyway promoting communism here and I do have a good understanding of the capital market with an economic degree from U of R. I’m just saying communism isn’t really what people think it is. A capitalistic society is used to think of rewards measured by monetary values but in a communistic society the value of ones work is more so measured by ones contribution to the society. Obviously there’s a slight difference between a street cleaner and someone who finds the cure for cancer but in a way a society can’t function without either of them. When I grew up I was taught to cherish everyone’s work equally as my own. Every grain of rice is a drop of a farmer’s sweat; call that communism propaganda if you wish. I wouldn’t teach my kids differently.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Chinese Friends

Through working at Myland I’ve acquired two new friends, Shawn and his girlfriend, Melody. Both of them came here from China in 2005 and graduated from SUNY Geneseo. Some people are meant to be together, like these two, they met each other when they first arrived in the US on their way from NYC to Geneseo and found out that they’re both from the same neighborhood in China. What are the chances?! Shawn started to work for Myland just before I joined the team and created the website for the company. Making a website might not be all that difficult but building one for Heidi is a whole other thing… Shawn worked on it endlessly for a good half year to get things exactly “right.” It’s a bit odd that I’ve never had any Chinese friends since I moved here from China. I don’t think it’s a conscious choice but rather mismatched personalities or miss opportunities. I’m glad I finally got two Chinese friends because Chinese people love food and they love eat together (kind like the Italians). This is the second Saturday I was invited over for dinner. Shawn and Melody each put in their share to prepare a scrumptious homemade meal. I’ve often cooked for others but being cooked for comes very rarely and frankly almost never happens outside of my parents’ house. Last week we had Chinese hot pot. Kind like fondue, raw meats and vegetables are cooked in a pot full of delicious sauce mixed according to the diners’ taste, mild, spicy, garlicky, seafood, etc. Luckily we all loved spicy food! Tonight we had fish, slow cooked chicken with potatoes, Chinese vegetables and a tofu dish. Everything was delicious. Afterwards I stayed for a bit to play Chinese card game. It’s good to have Chinese friends again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mad Cheap Ballroom

After two weeks of training I have successfully picked up 8 ballroom dances in additional to Tango, which I already knew. These dances fall into two categories: smooth ballroom (Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Bolero, Rumba) and rhythmic dances (Salsa, Cha-Cha, Samba, Merengue, Bachata and East Coast Swing). Last night Jonah gave me a comprehensive evaluation where I was asked to go through each dance by naming, counting and demonstrating all the steps that were taught in beginner classes (no cheat sheets). I pride myself with been able to pick up almost anything relatively quickly and I was confident in my steps. It’s a walk in the park for me to pick up a dance by following the lead but to be able to demonstrate steps alone is no easy feat. It requires a thorough understanding of the steps and counting to be able to visualize things out of context.

Jonah was very pleased with the progress I have made and I welcomed me onto the team for another week of intensive one-on-one training before I start teaching next week. I was excited but my excitement was soon eclipsed by the offer of minimum wage. It was quite shocking at first. I didn’t know what to say. This is absurd! I’ve never heard anyone teaching anything in the world for minimum wage. I was getting paid more in Argentina for teaching English and that was a third world country with a currency that’s worth a third of a dollar! To put things in perspective, I used to teach guitar lessons for $45-60/hour; I’ve taken private tango lessons from Luciana Valle for $125/hour. But of course, I’m no profession, so at the initial interview I sat my starting rate at $12 which I thought was extremely low and reasonable. No discussion followed after that so I mistakenly assumed the rate was acceptable. At $7.15/h I feel too insulted to even negotiate. Without saying much I took the offer letter home and slept on it overnight.
The next morning I wrote:

Dear Jonah,
It has been great learning the dance in the last two weeks. I'm glad that you have seen the progress I've made and accepted me into the studio. However, after careful consideration, I have decided to decline your offer. At the initial interview I had mentioned that my minimum was $12/h. Although this will not be my primary income there is a value for my time and effort and at the rate that you offered I find myself to be under valued or even a bit insulted. We have both invested into this thus far. I regret that this will not work out for us but I do respect you as a dancer, a teacher and a business owner. Thank you again for giving me the opportunity.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Things to Do

This afternoon I went to see a musical production of Tweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, at the Geve Theater. It always feels good to take advantage of the $8 student tickets half hour before the show. I’m not good at giving reviews but if you like a dark pedestrian musical, this one is for you. The set was nice but other than that nothing really impressed me much. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it with such a beautiful sunny day outside. The usual Sunday organ concert might have been a better choice. Still, it was nice to see it just to see it.

Later in the evening I finished reading the book Outliers. It has been a productive day for me.

If you talk to anyone for more than 10 seconds around here they will inevitably complain about the lack of entertainment value in Rochester (the first complain is always of course, the weather). The locals have a way to trash Rochester and the outsiders just don’t know any better. When people ask me what’s there to do around here I don’t even try to get into it. Most people that ask don’t share my interests enough for me to bother. If you’re looking for Vegas this is not it.

As for me, this is what I love:
1. Eastman concerts
2. RPO concerts
3. Little Theater
4. Geva Theater
5. Memorial Art Gallery
6. Lake Ontario: Abbott’s at Charlotte
7. Pittsford Canal
8. Cafes (Java, Spot, Spin, Boulders, etc.)
9. Restaurants (LJ, Mamasan’s, Sinbad’s, Thali of India, Abyssinia, Sodam, Magnolia, Dinosaur BBQ, Scotch N’ Sirloin, Eros, Pare, Pane Vino, Bomba Bistro, Jojo, Edible’s, etc.)
10. Surrounding areas: Letchworth State Park, Walkin’s Glen, Finger Lakes Region, Niagara Falls, Thousand Islands.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thanks but No Thanks

Sometimes I feel the more I try to explain myself the more I am misunderstood. It’s like fighting a loosing battle. In reality, people who get me get me and the ones that don’t, don’t need the explanation. They will only construe my words to fit their perceptions of what I’m like and dish out helpful advises like just relax or play the guitar or whatever else they feel like sharing. Jesus, if there’s anything anyone should know about me is that I am a person of my own violation and I am not afraid to do what makes me happy. If I’m not taking advises from my own mother, the woman who gave birth to me without an epidural, I doubt anyone else would really stand a chance.

I’m done reasoning things out. For the last time, please refrain from advising me to play the guitar anymore (unless you’re Dr. G or alumni, and the funny thing is that they almost never do). Also, stop with the “hey, play me something” bullshit. That’s almost as bad as “hey, say something in Chinese!” This is not a freak show. And no, I don't play in a band and I don't want to. I got into the worlds best music programs when I was 17 without my parents ever nag me about practicing. I’ll be 26 this year you’d think I can play on my own if I wanted to. Thanks for the constant badgering I now find this subject as annoying as my mother pressuring me go to med school or law school. I know this sounds a little bitter but trust me, if as many people annoying you about the same thing as often as I have you’d be going crazy too.


I’m reading again, half way through Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. People are always pestering me about getting back to playing the guitar. The important thing is that I’m slowly starting to do the things that make me happy again. Everything takes time.

I rarely follow any individual authors. It’s not Gladwell’s writing but the subjects that intrigue me the most. Wasting thousands of dollars on an economic degree from U of R didn’t get me a job to pay off my student loans but it did give me a deep appreciation for the way economists are able to argue just about any subject in an objective and logical way and provide enough statistical evidences to support their arguments. I’m not going to attempted to summarize the book other than mentioning its subtitle “The Story of Success” and a quote from page 155, “Success is not a random act. It arises out of a predictable and powerful set of circumstances and opportunities.” It somehow makes me feel a little better about my rough start on attempting a real career. Gladwell mentioned that ten thousand hours is what it takes to master a particular skill. “It’s all but impossible to reach that number all by yourself by the time you’re a young adult. You have to have parents who encourage and support you. You can’t be poor, because if you have to hold down a part-time job on the side to help make ends meet, there won’t be time left in the day to practice enough” (42). Of course, this is not to blame my parents, although they never supported my musical pursuits. I did have the ideal circumstances other than my parents. I just simply never practiced for ten thousand hours. I could probably go on about that for another ten thousand words but that’s not something I want to get into now. One sentence that captured my attention this morning was “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning” (Gladwell 150).

I guess it goes along the old saying the end must justify the means. I’ve carried a various part time jobs and one that have lasted for 5 and half years. When people see my resume they see a variety show and a girl who can’t hold a job for more than 6 months at a time. I have to admit that at the beginning my lifestyle as far as career is concerned sort of came by default. I wanted to be a concert guitarist but I never practiced enough. I thought about becoming an equity analyst but my career councilor told me I wasn’t good enough. I’ve been looking for a job constantly for the last 3 years and the closest to a full time job I’ve ever had was working as a secretary at Sutherland Global Services for $12.50 an hour. I did hell of a job there but I was bored out of my mind sitting in a cubical all day. And for what?

My perspective changed after I started to travel and especially after my 4 months employment at Sutherland. I am going to be strong/brave/proud and own up to the fact that the way I live my life is not by default but by choice. I’ve made that comments to friends that understood before and now I’d like to share that with the rest of the world (or whoever cares enough to read this).

I know what I do might not be a long term solution and I’m probably not making enough contribution to the society. According to Jon Steward to the planet we’re just a mild case of eczema. Really nothing will save the mother earth short of the extinction of the human race.

I know this is not everyone’s cup of tea but for now I’ve chosen to work and live this way because it makes me happy. I work hard and I’ve learned to enjoy it because the lifestyle it allows me to live. In a tough economic environment I’m grateful to have the job I have and live the way I live.
I want to see the world, I have been and I will continue to. And if I'm lucky I will be able to share my joy with people around me everywhere I go and to inspire others to pursue their dreams or even just to put a smile on peoples' faces for a brief second. I'm not going to cure cancer but to have a positive effect on people, however small it might be, for me is enough contribution to the society.

Marion the psychic once told me I’d live me life as a teacher. Well, I’ve taught guitar lessons, English classes and now ballroom dancing. Teaching might be too strong or arrogant of a word for me. It implies I know better or more than others. In reality, I’d like to inspire people to find happiness in their own ways, whether it’s through music, dancing, reading, and traveling or just to be able to slow down and enjoy a cup of tea. Life can be quite simple especially when lived alone. At end of the day I am the only one I need to please and as long as I can go to sleep at night with contentment I know I’m doing just fine.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


This afternoon we had a memorial for Ping’s son, Henry Sun, who passed away from an auto accident last Saturday night. The tragedy was a great shock to all of us and my heart goes out to Ping, who also lost his wife to cancer few years ago. I know it’s a bit cold but has Bill Gate pointed out, life is not fair.

A great number of people came for the memorial service from the local Chinese community, Brighton school district and close family friends. I’ve never met Henry before but I learned from the few speeches that he was the best student and son, friendly, outgoing and generous. He was a freshman at Brighton High School, an active participant in the school choir and on the path to start a career in science to find cure for cancer. Many good things were said about the young boy. I can’t help but to wonder would we love him or miss him any less if he wasn’t such a good student or an ideal son? Being as head strong as I am I have practically done everything my mother told me not to do short of becoming an alcoholic abusive drug addict. Still, I know my mother would go insane if she ever looses me. I saw many familiar faces at the service, most of them were friends of my parents while they lived in Rochester. I couldn’t remember many names and didn’t want to get into any in depth conversation since as far as my parents know I’m still working as a secretary at Sutherland Global Services. With both of them deep rooted in science they never want to see me doing anything relating to business, which is to them is a dishonorable field full of trickery. To avoid 6 more years of conflict like when I went through music school I figure what they don’t know won’t hurt them.

The room was stifling, not sad, just uncomfortable. I’ve only been to one other memorial service for an Eastman alumnus who passed away from a heart attack before he turned 30 (not sure if he had any angst or if anyone had warned him about it). That service was beautifully done: filled with love and music. In some ways it was joyous, a celebration of his life. Instead of mourning for his short existence his parents’ expressed their gratitude for the privilege of having him for as long as they had.

Life is easier and losses are more tolerable when seen with gratitude rather than constant dissatisfaction.

Most girls dream about their wedding ceremonies: the flowers, the dresses, the cake, etc. I, on the other hand, have only really thought about my memorial service. You see, to have a wedding you actually have to have two people involved and one of them is pretty much out of my control. While there’s no guarantees for a wedding, dying is something I’m pretty sure I can handle on my own and if I’m lucky enough there might be a few friends around to throw me a service. I want lilies, lots of them in white and different colors. I want music, lots of it, a little bit of everything: Pachabel’s canon with LAGQ variations, Villa Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileira #5, Rodrigo’s Adela, Brouwer’s Berceuse, Schumann’s Traumerei, Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat, a Di Sarli tango and maybe a song from Schubert’s Winterreise or Handel’s “Ombra mai fu”…

Sometimes white is whiter against black. Maybe life is livelier in contrast to lost. Some people act, some react, some act to get a reaction and some just don't act at all. I'm not one to sit out on the bench. I want to live life exactly the way I want to, every minute of it.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Great Purge

Historically the Great Purge refers to Stalin’s political campaign to purify the Soviet Communist Party through surveillance, prosecution, imprisonment and executions of unaffiliated or anti government members. Similar thing can be said about the holocaust, genocide, the Dirty war in Argentina or even the Red Scare here in the US post WWII. My great purge, although tiny in nature, is a big step for me towards personal contentment.

As I previously noted, I’m not only a person to be misunderstood but also a person of contradictions. The most obvious one is patience. A common observation is that I have none but there have also been occasions where people describe me as the most patient person they’ve never met. I can be stringent and forgiving; fastidious and easygoing; harsh and gentle; frugal and extravagant; sociable and aloof; gregarious and reserved…

The list goes on but in general I’m a caring and generous person. I rarely hold grudges and make enemies. Over the years I’ve encountered people from all different walks of life and never had a problem befriend anyone. This is an attribute I pride myself with; however, increasingly I realize not everyone deserves that unconditional friendship. In the last 25 years of my life I can only name one person with whom I no longer speak to out of my own volition. That list is about to get a bit longer now.

Time and time again I find people take me and my friendship for granted. I have a lot to give so it is not the mere unappreciated friendship that bothers me but the way few people continuously misjudge my character and abuse my generosity. They are what Rose would call relationship Vampires. They leach onto others and suck the life out of people. They walk through life constantly look for what they can get from others instead of ever offering or sharing anything of their own. The numero uno mistake I make in life is to be too generous to people who only take but never offer; giving people chances when they don’t deserve any; to befriend with people who frankly doesn’t give a fuck about me and continue to let people abuse my generosity.
Ironically, this guy drove me into a pond once and now he’s telling me I should relax and let go of my angst so I don’t die of a heart attack before I turn 30. Telling someone to relax in a heated discussion is a condescending thing to say because it diminishes the person’s feelings and denies them the right to express their emotions. The reality is that if he cared at all about my well being he wouldn’t have drove so irresponsibly with me in the car. I could have died that night and never make it to 30.
My last catastrophic relationship was a great example. The guy made me miserable beyond belief, even I’m ashamed to talk about the details because it reflects poorly on me. Still, after everything we’ve been through he continues to expect me to be unconditionally supportive and caring, which I have. But it makes no sense logically what so ever. If someone takes me for granted and makes me miserable I am under no obligation to be their best friend. I’m tired of this bullshit where people tell me that I help them to better themselves or they are getting better for me. I’m not trying to run a training camp here. This is it; no dress rehearsals. You’re either ready for me or you are not. There comes a time in everyone’s life where they need to stage a great purge to cut ties from the negativities and Vampires to allow further personal growth and contentment. My time has come. You’re either on my team or not. The key for me to live pass 30 is not to swallow my angst but to eliminate people who cause the angst in the first place.

“There’s only two types of guys out there
Ones that can hang with me and ones that are scared
So baby, I hope that you came prepared
I run a tight ship so beware” – “Circus” BS

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Le Vent du Nord

"Quebecois tradition fills a Renaissance Music Hall
On March 3rd, Le Vent Du Nord performed in one of the world’s finest chamber music halls, Kilbourn Hall at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Filled with fans as well as many newcomers and students, the Hall was illuminated by beautiful and rousing melodies, stories, and laughter. The evening began with a pre-show talk that introduced the band and the history of Quebecois music to the uninitiated. Once the concert began, even the most staid audience member was on their feet and clapping along. Those fans familiar with the band’s body of work were pleasantly surprised to hear two new songs from the upcoming cd, expected to be released in October of 2009." - Le Vent du Nord

The band was enjoyable although I couldn't help it but to feel as if I was listening to the same song 15 times.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Inikori Dance

I got a new job teaching ballroom dancing. The whole thing just sort of came out of the blue. A while ago I replied to an ad for ballroom teacher at a local dance studio. When Jonah from Inikori Dance Studio finally scheduled a face-to-face interview with me a month later I had no idea what to expect. Although I’ve spent quite some time dancing tango, my exposure to other ballroom dances is pretty limited. For all I know I just didn’t want to look like one of those laughable people auditioning for the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” I was the first person Jonah interviewed on Saturday. After completing a lengthy application form the interview went not unlike interviews one would have for any other job: going through backgrounds, related experiences, availability and expectations. I feel comfortable talking to people and Jonah was a very nice person to talk to. He smiled and nodded when appropriate and emphasized on the professional aspect of teaching ballroom dancing. Still, I was somewhat puzzled by the positive feedback. I know it takes more than a good dancer to be a good teacher but surely Jonah can find a better qualified dancer and teacher. Just before we walked out to the dance floor I looked into his eyes and said, “I don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. I’m not a great dancer. In fact I wouldn’t even call myself a dancer. I have taught guitar lessons for five years to people of all levels and backgrounds. I’ve also taught business English in Argentina. So I have experience with teaching different subjects and age groups. I am a fast learner, out going and trainable.” Jonah gave me a big smile and said “well, I like all the things I’m hearing.” With that, a tango, a horrendous salsa, and a waltz I was hired. Not to brag again, but I was the first one to be interviewed that day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


The weekend came and went. Some people go to church on Sundays but for me it is organ time at the Art Gallery again. On the way back from Wegmans I thought: life is good. It really doesn’t take that much to be happy. I love where I live and although I don’t have what mom would call a “real career” I can work and travel at my own will. I’d be satisfied with going to the organ recital every Sunday for the rest of my life. Around 5pm on a sunny afternoon the sun sets just outside of my big windows casting in the most pleasant orange glow between the blinds. Sometimes I feel I should go somewhere to take advantage of the last rays of sunlight but most of the time I feel more content basking in the moment alone inside. Today was one of those days. Call me lazy.