Friday, September 30, 2005

Time Warp

Last night, I was shooting an event at Club Phoenix in London, Ontario. It was called Lovefest and was sponsored by Lifestyles Condoms. Lovefest was full of fresh, young things looking, I guess. Twenty something girls paraded around in short skirts, glittery tops and stiletto heels, flaunting themselves for the hungry pack of twenty something boys. The air was filled with lust, the tables covered with condoms. As I surveyed the scene, I felt something somewhere between pity, anger and jealousy.

Pity because the girls had no idea how beautiful they were. They preened anxiously, careful with their hair and make-up, their desire for attention and validation obvious. The feminist in me was angry, as these women reduced themselves to pieces of meat to be looked at and judged. I wanted to scream at them, "Don't you girls know you are more than this?! Don't you know you are worth more than what you look like?!"

Around midnight, as the club filled to capacity, the DJ played Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust. The lights flashed, arms lifted, and ecstatic, the dancefloor began to pulse en masse. I was taken right back to The Guvernment circa 1998. I realized it was not so long ago, that I was one of them. One of these young women, searching, exploring and discovering what it meant to be a woman. I remember tripping over piles of snow, giddy and laughing, in platform sandals and a miniskirt. I remember flirting madly with just about anyone, because I could. I remember the feeling of anticipation for another Saturday night, the excitement of the unknown. I remember dancing till dawn and being totally free. It was one of the most liberating times of my life, but also one of the most difficult. Because I also remember the insecurity. The not knowing if I was good enough, a deep feeling of unease. I remember giving myself away for nothing.

I suppose it's easy to look backwards, armed with all those extra years of experience, and judge those that are younger. I scoffed internally, thinking "Ha! You think life is so simple and easy...that it's just a big party! You have no idea what's coming in the next 5 years. What a struggle life is. That you are mortal." But then I realized I was jealous. I wanted to be back there, to be carefree, to believe that nothing mattered beyond Saturday night.

Sadly I realized, that that time was forever lost to me. I could never go back. And it was bittersweet.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

100 Things About Me

My best friend Melanie has challenged me to write 100 Things About Myself. As we speak, she's on number 83. So, here goes:

1. Right now, my baby toes are screaming at me. I've crammed them into the cutest, little Nine West shoes, and they are blistered, red and angry. It hurts so much, I can barely walk. I don't know how I will make it to the end of the day.
2. I don't notice much about my external environment. I can walk by the same building everyday, look up 5 years later, and exclaim to my friends, "hey, is that a new building?!?"
3. That's because I'd rather live in my head. I am often deep in thought. Things are more interesting, beautiful and nicer in there.
4. I also appear to be deep in thought when I am walking down the street, just so I don't have to make eye contact with strangers.
5. A lot of people think I am intimidating, but they're wrong. It's just a mask I put on, because I am actually really shy.
6. Until you get to know me. Then I'm really loud, obnoxious, and totally opinionated.
7. I believe in fate, destiny and perfect love.
8. I think we all have a sacred purpose on this planet, but that most of us do not fulfill that contract.
9. I think that most people are afraid, most of the time, myself included.
10. I am trying to move away from fear, and towards love...but it's hard.
11. I love, love, love westies, and when I see one on the street, I squeal like a little girl.
12. I've never held a job for longer than 2 years, but I've only been fired once. I suppose I am proud of this fact.
13. I take Vitamin C, antioxidants, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids everyday.
14. My mom is a health freak, and she is beautiful.
15. My dad is often very sad, wants to be famous, and writes heartbreaking poetry.
16. I love them so much it hurts. Sometimes, I think about losing them, and I feel breathless, and my eyes well up with tears.
17. Like now.
18. I project an aura of invulnerability, but I am extremely emotional. I cried during the opening credits of the Lion King.
19. I think this is because a boy I liked when I was 18 told me I was too intense.
20. I am often attracted to unavailable men.
21. I never act on that attraction.
22. I just got back from British Columbia, and am leaving for Austria, Italy and the Czech Republic in 1 month.
23. David Usher was on my plane, but I didn't think it was him cuz he was too small. My friends approached him, got on the guest list for his show, and went for drinks with him after the concert. I was mad, but I didn't show it. I love David Usher.
24. I think Canada is the best country in the world.
25. I work for the government. In the last 6 months, all I've done is send a few faxes, and mail a few letters.
26. Secretly, I want to be a rock star. Well, not a rock star, but a singer. But not for fame. Just to sing, and be paid for it. I love singing.
27. The light fixture in my condo is 2 lightbulbs hanging out of the ceiling. My dining table has no chairs. I am house-poor, but happy.
28. I have my own video production company, which is about to blow up.
29. My brother is a new millionaire. He has always had a charmed life. I am proud of him. I wish we were closer.
30. I am really close to my sister. She is really funny, and makes me laugh. We have our own language together, which drives J insane. We look alike. Sometimes people think she is me. Even close friends of mine.
31. When I was young, I took piano lessons. I was really talented, and loved performing, until the moment I forgot my piece on stage. I still remember that feeling. I don't play anymore.
32. I didn't get my first boyfriend until I turned 19...but it was really love. Too bad we were so young.
33. I'm still waiting to fall in love again.
34. Sometimes I cry because the sky is blue and beautiful.
35. Sometimes I am really mean for no reason.
36. I drink a tall Americano with honey from Starbucks everyday. I am addicted to Starbucks espresso, and make a point of going to Starbucks in every foreign country I go to. It's always the same.
37. Melanie thinks I can't do this in 2 hours, but I am already on number 37, and it's only been half an hour.
38. I guess I like to talk about myself.
39. I have lots of really close girlfriends, and they are like my family. I don't know what I would do without them.
40. But I am a hermit. I spend a lot of time alone.
41. I love CSI - but only the original one, and some nights I will surf around until I find all the episodes available on digital cable. I find Grissom strangely sexy. Is that weird?
42. I still haven't forgiven my mother for burying my stuffed rabbit toy in the garden when I was a child.
43. One of my favorite books is More, Now, Again by Elizabeth Wurtzel.
44. Right now I am reading Elegant Universe by Brian Greene, which is about superstring theory in quantum physics.
45. I am reading Dazzle by Judith Krantz at the same time.
46. The last 10 songs on my iPod Mini were: A Sorta Fairytale by Tori Amos, A Penny More by the Skydiggers, A Loop in Time (Banco de Gaia Remix) by Wally Brill, A Little Respect by Erasure, A Common Disaster by the Cowboy Junkies, 1979 by the Smashing Pumpkins, 100 Billion Stars by Lux, 38 Years Old by the Tragically Hip, 21st Century by Weekend Players, and 8pt Agenda by Herbaliser.
47. I love all music, except for country and heavy metal. I have music playing almost 24 hours a day.
48. On my last trip, which was 10 days long, I took 842 digital pictures.
49. The last movie I saw was, A History of Violence with Viggo Mortensen. Even though Viggo is at least 10 years older than me, I would still marry him. I love him.
50. I recently reconnected with a friend I haven't talked to in over 5 years. It seems she has met a lot of people that know me as well, in that time.
51. I believe in 6 degrees of separation, and serendipity, and that coincidences are not coincidences.
52. A lot of people think I am really flaky.
53. I have dragonboated for 4 years. This is my last year. I am hanging up my paddle. I need to make room for something else. Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.
54. I am a Pisces Sun, with Gemini Ascendant, and Taurus Moon, and an Ox in the Chinese Zodiac. All of this seems rather contradictory to me.
55. I like anything that's new.
56. I think I was born before my time...that I was supposed to be born in 2046. I am jealous that I won't be able to see all of the new inventions from the future after I am gone.
57. I am afraid of dying.
58. My hands are cold.
59. I'm not sure if I believe in God, but I am a spiritual person. I know I believe in gratitude.
60. I think I am destined for something great. I just don't know what it is yet.
61. I try to live in the present moment as much as possible.
62. I am late for work everyday...but I am so stubborn that my boss has stopped fighting me on it.
63. I'm surprised I haven't been fired yet.
64. I am Korean by birth, but feel like a citizen of the world.
65. My parents wish I was more Korean. I tell them it is their fault for immigrating to Canada.
66. Mel, did I mix up their/they're/there? I'm not sure.
67. My 45 year old married female boss has a crush on a 25 year old male staff member, and it's disgusting.
68. I'm sure that my good friend, S, was my older sister in a past life.
69. Michaelle Jean is taking over as Governer General today. She's a descendent of Haitian slaves, who married a French filmmaker. I think that's really cool. And that she has a wonderful, warm, calm energy about her.
70. My roommate and business partner just called me...and he is ruled by his stomach. He has not eaten lunch yet, and is very grumpy. I don't like that.
71. My hair used be in inch long spikes all over my head, but now it is halfway down my back and blonde.
72. I am rebellious. I don't like taking orders from anyone.
73. I like to do a crossword puzzle everyday. They say it keeps you from going senile when you are old. I'm not sure if this is true, but I do it anyways.
74. My favorite color is blue sometimes, red sometimes, or silver sometimes.
75. My dad's nickname is Piggy. He just got an honourary doctorate in literature from Tokyo University, so now we call him Dr. Piggy.
76. He hides cookies in his desk at home, where my mother can't find them. My mother is extremely disciplined. He's not allowed to eat those things because of his high blood pressure.
77. I don't have a favorite food.
78. If I was forced at gunpoint to choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would probably be sushi.
79. I have the healthiest digestive system in the world. I have a bowel movement at least 3 times a day.
80. Sometimes I think I am incapable of falling in love.
81. I want to change the world.
82. Right now, I'm thinking about how I can convince my friend to go to Shoppers Drug Mart for me to buy some moleskin for my toes. I don't think I will make it.
83. My grandmother on my mother's side is 97 years old. My mom is going to visit her on October 5th.
84. I think it must be heartbreaking to leave, knowing that this time could be the last time...
85. There was a time that I danced from dusk till dawn.
86. I love the early morning - the fresh air, dewiness, and anticipation - but am rarely awake to enjoy it.
87. I can sleep for 12 hours in a row. There's not much I'd rather do. Well....except listen to music.
88. I miss the feeling of someone lying next to me in bed.
89. I am nervous about kissing someone again. I think I forget how.
90. My favorite seasons are fall and spring. They feel like beginnings and endings.
91. I love drinking coffee when it's raining. The last time it rained, I typed "rain" into iTunes to see how many songs would come up. It was a lot.
92. I wish all my friends would love themselves as much as I love them. Sometimes I feel frustrated by how they treat themselves. They are all beautiful, amazing people with limitless potential.
93. I wish that men were nicer to women, but mostly I wish that women were nicer to women.
94. George Bush has aged a lot in the last couple of years, and I hope it is because he has a guilty conscience, but for some reason, I don't think so.
95. I do not believe in war or capital punishment.
96. I think that The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara by Errol Morris is one of the most brilliant documentaries I've ever seen.
97. I try to live my life with as much consistency and integrity as possible.
98. Sometimes, I feel haunted. It's better since I smudged my house.
99. Currently, I am listening to You're Beautiful by James Blunt over and over and over again. He has the most hauntingly beautiful voice I've heard in a long time.
100. That's 100 in less than 2 hours. Now I'm going to hobble my way over to Tim Horton's for some steeped tea.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

The Weight of Things Unsaid

I like you so much, I talk to everyone in the room but you.
- Ani DiFranco

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My dad, the Poet: Part 1.

When I was young, the mere sound of my dad's footsteps was cause for unadulterated bliss. We three children would run through the house in a mad race for the front door. Who would reach him first? Who would jump into his arms and be lifted high into the air, feet kicking and screaming with laughter? I trusted him the way only a child can do - completely, and with total faith. And the trust was well-founded. My dad loved us more than life.

At 13, my family went through one of those episodes that families sometimes do. At the time, it seemed as though my world was ending. In my naivete, I had assumed that life was never-changing, that I would always feel the same. But the father I had known in childhood was gone. No longer filled with joy, his lust for life had somehow disappeared. He wandered the house with heavy steps, lost in his own thoughts. He seemed filled with sadness. And I couldn't understand. Did we no longer bring him joy? Had I done something wrong? In the way that teenagers do, I blamed myself. I thought I was somehow responsible. And in my helplessness, I began to hate him, and myself. Where was the father who had once lifted me so high into the air, that I had felt as though I was flying?

When I was 25, I left my family and bathed myself in the refreshing anonymity of Toronto. I was tired of many things - the sadness that surrounded my home, the surprising sameness of my dad's melancholy, the feeling of responsibility for something I couldn't control - but mostly, I was tired of my own disillusionment. It was time to lift the veil of heaviness that I'd been wearing for over 10 years. And lift it, I did! I celebrated my independence in the sin and simplicity of clubland. Weekends seemed to pass in a glorious blur of dancing, music and friends, Saturday melting seamlessly into Sunday. Unburdened of the responsibility I had felt for so long, my family seemed far away. I was lost in a no man's land, acting as if I could outrun the shadows that followed me.

By the time I was 28, the endless nights of furious hedonism had lost their lustre. I was unemployed, directionless and sinking into an ever widening pit of despair. Disconnected from myself and my family, I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself. What was I doing? Where was I going? And who could I blame?

For as long as I could remember, my dad had written poetry. He wrote in his mother tongue - a language I could understand, but not read - rendering it as inaccessible to me as nuclear physics. Until now. He had recently translated and published an anthology of poems called Immigrants' Path II. I picked it up on a dreary Sunday morning, the day after another hopeless night of clubbing. I was soon deeply entranced by his words, one sadness replacing another:

A Life for Two Hundred Dollars

A hundred fifty dollars a month for rent -
Forty dollars for gas and electricity -
Eighty dollars for telephone and food

When we first stepped on the alien land
Our first month's living expenses totaled
Two hundred seventy dollars.
With three in the family
We left home
With only six hundred US dollars.
At night
My two-year old daughter and six-month pregnant wife
Slept peacefully.
And bold as I was,
Nothing on earth scared me then.
But it was nothing but vain-glory and arrogance.
Even the flower garden in my glowing hope was bruised
By our pauper's existence.

What a delight it was for me to challenge the unknown world!
Observing the morbid-bound faces of the Indians,
All night long I asked myself "why?"
After wandering for twenty-five years,
On Canadian Highway #1
And now gazing at paths that cut through the barley fields,
I sing 'Camelia Maiden' in my mother tongue,
And hear only a sobbing wind blowing.
Here stands a wayfarer shouting;
"Living like this, I can't go home!"

Friday, September 09, 2005

I wish I could feel this way.

This image is from some video I took of the Toronto skyline. The words are from Madonna's Nothing Fails.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005