Saturday, October 29, 2005

Turkish Tart

So, I've been covering the 60th World Congress in Vienna for Junior Chamber International. It happens once a year, and brings together people from over 100 cultures and nationalities. It's a great event with training seminars, keynote speakers, and crazy parties. I mean, the parties are just INTENSE. And it's just so cool to see how similar we all are, despite our regional differences. I mean we're all people right? We all still feel the same things. It doesn't really matter where we live.

There is a girl from Turkey at this conference who I have not met. But I know who she is, because everytime she sees us, she turns it ON. It's funny how people react when you're carrying a video camera around.

"Look! It's the Turkish Tart," I say, as she miraculously appears for the twentieth time, long hair pulled on top of her head, in patterned tights, dark blush and a short skirt.

"Yes, she's like a sweet that's gone just a little bit sour..." my business partner says, scrunching up his face.

She's become a bit of a nemesis, because everytime we try to shoot some video, she suddenly appears in the camera's viewfinder. We can't have a promotional video of 5000 Congress participants filled with only 1 Turkish tart! We need to show the great variety of people that are here. It's a constant battle that we're sure to lose. The pull of potential fame is too strong.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Avian Flu Anyone?

Hurrah! Finally! After a week of coldcuts, flavourless fruit, and mineral water - a hot meal! Chicken. In fact, whole rotisseried chickens and greasy french fries. The staff here circle the meal table like vultures. Some dig in with their fingers. Others grab a box and hide it on a shelf, saving it for when they are less busy. I am so excited that I can barely contain my joy. This meal is like manna from heaven...a juicy oasis in a desert filled with salami, ham, and bologna.

Cluck. Cluck. Cluck cluck cluck.

I turn to see the Secretary General of JCI. This very distinguished man speaks 5 languages, travels around the world meeting dignitaries, and works closely with the United Nations. And he is clucking like a chicken.

Cluck. Cluck.

He walks over to the meal table, picks up a box, and says, "We have chicken? Avian flu anyone?"

The chicken suddenly tastes very dry in my mouth. Sigh.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Horror of Horrors

Working this thing REALLY sucks tonight. We were offered free tickets to THE ORCHESTRA - the Vienna Philharmonic - but cannot attend because we have yet another event to attend and videotape.

We were very close to a Starbucks last night. I was sure I caught a whiff of those glorious dark espresso beans. But alas, despite much wandering, it was not to be found. This is torture.

Fortunately, I have found a cafe in the Congress Centre that makes a decent latte - one that doesn't sear all the tastebuds off my tongue with the first sip. Sheesh, they make it strong here!

Unfortunately, there is no escaping the secondhand smoke OR the coldcuts. I have a pounding headache that doesn't go away, my clothes stink, and my eyes are a raw, red burning mess. It's so bad that even the smokers are hacking away. But maybe that's from choking on coldcuts. One can never be sure.

Animal Rights Terrorists?

Last night, we were walking through Stephensplatz - a touristy sort of area, and met some members of the Queen's Regiment in full regalia sitting in a pub. The first question they asked us was, "are you Americans?" and not without a little bit of disdain. "No, we're Canadians." Smiles lit up their faces, they apologized, and warmly offered to take some pictures with us.

Upon returning to the hotel, I began watching BBC Worldnews. The lead story was about animal rights terrorists. Apparently, a company (can't remember which one, and it doesn't really matter), was denied their listing on the NYSE at the last minute, because of threats from animal rights terrorists. Animal rights terrorists?? I'm sure there are individuals that may feel intimidated and scared by animal rights activists, but I'm not sure that you can conscientiously lump PETA in with suicide bombers. It's a bit of a stretch. It does however fit in with Bush's agenda on terrorism. Keep the American people scared. Keep them worried that terrorism is always on the front door. People who are scared don't ask questions - they just want to be safe. In fact, the newest enemy of the American people is animal rights terrorists! Run! Hide your children! But careful, because they might be disguised as suicide bombers.

Is George Bush really trying to convince the American public that the economy is tanking because of animal rights terrorists? The Bush Administration has spent close to $204,000,000,000 on the Iraq War, and the costs continue to mount every minute. This does not even begin to include human costs and psychological costs, which are perhaps the most damaging of all.

But hey, maybe I was dreaming. I'm so tired, that MUST be what happened.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My Diet and My Feet in Vienna

ARGHH! I'm tzping on a European kezboard, and the y and the z are in reverse places...causes me quite a bit of trauma, since I am actuallz a touch tzpist. I have to keep going back to correct it. Are z'all able to figure out these sentences?

Anyways, back to looking at the keys before I type...

I am on a steady diet of croissants, espresso, cheese, coldcuts, second-hand cigarette smoke and 5 hours of sleep per night. Needless to say, I am not feeling too good, but there is not much I can do to change the situation.

I have decided that feet are not designed to be in shoes for 16 hours a matter how comfortable the shoes are. They need time to breathe, and to reconnect with the ground. This suffocating in leather all day is NO GOOD.

On a more positive note, we had the TOYP Awards Ceremony tonight, which honours 10 outstanding young people from around the world. One woman talked about travelling to Thailand to help an AIDS patient for Doctors without Borders. They had to crawl through raw sewage filled with rats and cockroaches to get to her. She had been abandoned by her family because of the social stigma attached to HIV in those countries. She weighed 60 pounds and had open sores all over her body. How do you turn your back on a fellow human being, let alone a family member? I felt pretty weepy and helpless listening to that, but also really inspired, and like I wanted to contribute more to the world. I am definitely looking into opportunities when I get back to Toronto. We are SO fortunate in Canada. We OWE it to the rest of the world to contribute.

I STILL haven't had time to have a Starbucks.

Monday, October 24, 2005


I found a Starbucks on my way to City Hall. Thank god. Now, I'll be able to sleep, which I guess is sort of a contradiction. In any case, at this point, I'm so tired, that when I fall asleep, I skip all of the stages of sleep and slip straight into REM. The dreams are intense. This can't be healthy.

No Starbucks in Vienna

Here I am on Day 1 of the JCI 60th World Congress in Vienna, and I am completely and totally exhausted. I already have a cold sore, and so far, I've seen the inside of my hotel room, the Austria-Vienna Congress Centre, the subway, and the grocery store. Travelling and working kind of sucks. I'm jetlagged, hungry, and totally constipated...and people smoke all over Europe. There's even ashtrays next to the toilets in the stalls. Given my extreme level of blockage, I'm kind of tempted to light up in there myself. It's probably the coldcuts and cheese I was served for breakfast on the plane ride over here. Gross.

And OMG, I can't find a Starbucks in Vienna. I am on the verge of a full scale panic attack.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Whirlwind Continues

Last night was kind of crazy. I think the planets must have been playing jokes on us - as everyone seemed to run into some sort of weird mischief last night. We threw our 2nd client party with Norm Li last night, and while the party went off a hitch (pics to follow), the preparation did not. My business partner Jared, disappeared for 2 hours, stuck in traffic screaming, with our video projector and a dead cellphone. My friend Supriya took over an hour to get to my house before the party, because her first cab broke down, and the second one got a flat tire. When she finally arrived, the cabbie was friends with the concierge in my building. It was that kind of night. I collapsed into bed last night at 3AM, legs tired from dancing, and exhausted.

I woke from a fitful sleep, to prepare for a business/pleasure trip to Europe. Is it possible to dread going to Europe? I guess dread is the wrong word. More like tired. When I think of all the work that has to be done before getting there, and while we're there, I feel exhausted - even though it hasn't happened yet. I guess I'm not really living in the moment right now, but in the future...which is exhausting enough on its own. My energy's split into 2 different time zones - present and future. Sigh.

6 hours till my flight, and I haven't even begun to pack. Instead I'm blogging. Guess I'd better get to it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Homeless Man

I wrote about the homeless man outside my office back in August. I haven't seen him for a while, and to be truthful, without his daily presence outside my building's doors, I haven't thought much about him. Life took over. The daily grind of getting to work, my morning coffee, things to do, friends to visit, and a future to look forward to - all these things eclipsed any thoughts of the regal, dying man that sold Outreach newspapers outside my office. But yesterday I saw him, from a distance. The first time in weeks, standing on the corner in a parka, with his Outreach newspapers in his hand. As I approached, I turned to see how he was doing and was shocked by how terrible he looked. It was clear that the cancer had finally seeped into every pore of his body. His face was an inhuman greyish green colour - a colour I have never seen on a person's face before. It was as though the lifeforce was being sucked out of him, that his living cells were being attacked and killed one by one. I am lucky enough to have never been close to anyone that's died or been ill, but I knew, without a doubt, that he was dying.

I saw some wetness under his eyes. I think he was crying. But I can't be sure. I can't be sure because the horrible, cowardly truth is that in this moment, I turned away. I could not face him. I could not be close to his obvious suffering. I could not be close to the death that surrounded him. I was scared. And in that moment, I walled myself off from him, went upstairs and forgot about him for the rest of the day.

This morning I woke up thinking about him, the guilt turning my stomach over and over. I felt sick with the thought that I had just turned away from a fellow human being in suffering. Sick that I had done what so many of us do everyday...

close off
don't feel
wall off

for what can we do? How can we do something about all the suffering we see in the world? It's not possible. But then again, how can we live with ourselves if we don't do something? Anything?

I vowed to look for him and speak with him, but when I walked up today he was gone. I hope I am not too late.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


My mom is out of town visiting my grandmother in Korea, so my dad is home alone. My brother and sister and I call him every few days to make sure he's okay, and that he is not too lonely. My dad is so cute, with his broken English. So much so, that sometimes when I picture him, he turns into a cartoon character in my head. Our conversation the other night went something like this:

Me: Hey Dad, what are you doing while mom is out of town? Is everything okay?
Dad: Oh, yes, everything is good. Tonight I am meeting my aluminum for dinner.
Me: That's great! Wait. Your aluminum?
Dad: Yes, the a-LUM-inum!!
Me: But dad, that doesn't make sense! What do you mean?!
Dad: Oh, I am meeting my old friends from high school - my aluminum.
Me: OH!! Your ALUMNI!
Dad: Yes, my aluminum.
Me: NO DAD! Aluminum is like tin foil. ALUM-NI!
Dad: Heh heh. Ha ha. Yes, my Alumni.

He's so cute. I wish I was there to give him a big hug!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Space Inside

From Elsewhere by Sarah McLachlan

I love the time and in between
the calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe

I believe there is a
distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out and holding in

I believe this is heaven
to no one else but me
And I’ll defend it as long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Beautiful Things

This image is video I took in the Annex on Bloor Street. The words are from Andain's Beautiful Things. I like the idea behind these song lyrics. I'm working on cultivating this feeling of excitement and anticipation in my everyday life. I'm striving to be in the space where I know without a doubt, that there is something beautiful, awe-inspiring, and wondrous around every corner.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Energy of Money

In my life, thoughts about the abundance/absence of money rarely enter my head. I'm blessed enough to have family and friends that would never let me down.

Lately though, I've been thinking about the energy of money. Why does money come so easily to some people? Why is attaining it so difficult for others? I'm not talking about problems/solutions around socioeconomic status, access to education etc - these things are apparent. I'm talking about a situation like mine - I'm university educated, literate and have access to virtually anything I could want. Yet, I don't have the abundance of money that I'd like to see in my life.

Carolyn Myss says that:
Money is a neutral substance that flows into and out of our lives, taking its direction from our intentions regarding it. It is those intentions that alter the neutral energy of money. We often allow money to substitute for life energy, frequently with negative consequences. The result being, every dollar we spend becomes an unconscious expenditure of energy. Scarcity of money can translate into a scarcity of energy in the body.

The challenge is to achieve a relationship with money that is separate from your life force. The more impersonal your relationship with money is, the more likely you are to direct its energy appropriately in your life.

Natural Abundance

An organic and healthy relationship to money is natural abundance. Here are the steps to bring this energy to your life:

1. View money as simply another kind of energy that flows into and out of your life.
2. Maintain a relationship with money that is without guilt.
3. Operate from the viewpoint that the more you create the more there is for everyone.
4. Get past the outdated notion that one must be poor to be spiritual.

These perceptions must be at the core of your energy system before natural abundance will be manifested on a physical/material level.
When I examine these 4 ideas, I realize that I am totally stuck on number four. I carry with me the belief that one has to suffer to change things. The belief that having a lot of money somehow makes you evil, or complicit in THE SYSTEM. Which means, I guess, that I have a problem with THE SYSTEM. I'm sure this is rooted in years of critical sociological theory courses in university, particularly around the concept of hegemony, which essentially teaches that there are those with and those without - the haves and have-nots. The haves control social and economic structures for their own gain. In other words, in the pursuit of power and ultimately money. (Yes, I definitely reside on the left hand side of the political spectrum).

I am however trying to get past this idea. It is outdated. Rationally, I know that while money can be a corrupting influence, it doesn't HAVE to be. For example, Oprah's a gazillionaire, and I don't think she's evil. In fact, having that kind of money, gives you the power to create a lot of positive change in the world. A lot more than if you can barely pay your bills!

Money can be a force for good. Money can be a force for good. Money can be a force for good. Money can be a force for good. Money can be a force for good. Money can be a force for good.

Maybe if I say it enough, I'll start to believe it...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Asking Too Much

Asking Too Much by Ani DiFranco

I want somebody who sees the pointlessness
and still keeps their purpose in mind
I want somebody who has a tortured soul
some of the time

I want somebody who will either put out for me
or put me out of misery
or maybe just put it all to words
and make me go, you know
I never heard it put that way
make me say, what did you just say?

I want somebody who can hold my interest
hold it and never let it go
someone who can flatten me with a kiss
that hits like a fist
or a sentence, that stops me like a brick wall

If you hear me talking
listen to what I'm not saying
If you hear me playing guitar
listen to what I'm not playing
and don't ask me to put words
to all the silences I wrote
don't ask me to put words
to all the spaces between notes
In fact if you have to ask, forget it
do and you'll regret it

I'm tired of being the interesting one
I'm tired of having fun for two
just lay yourself on the line
and I might lay myself down by you
but don't sit behind your eyes
and wait for me to surprise you

I want somebody who can make me
scream until it's funny
give me a run for my money
I want someone who can
twist me up in knots
tell me, for the woman who has everything
what have you got?

I want someone who's not afraid of me
or anyone else
In other words I want someone
who's not afraid of themself

Do you think I'm asking too much?

Friday, October 07, 2005

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Courage is not the absence of fear, but the realization that there is something more important than fear.

Integrity and Rage

What is the line between integrity and fighting for what you want? If others are going to be hurt in the process, but you really want something, how hard do you push?

Difficult questions, with many shades of grey. I put a lot of weight on integrity. I think that you have to be able to live with yourself. To be able to look in the mirror everyday and sleep at night. To feel good about the choices you make, even if they seem like small choices.

I fear though, that in my quest for integrity, that I have backed down from fights I should have fought. I have even used integrity as an excuse for not fighting when I should have. Where is the line?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

This idiom is used to express the idea that empty or unfilled spaces are unnatural as they go against the laws of nature and physics.

"I've had nothing but time on my hands. I watched three hours of Ultimate Fighting Champion last night. Tonight, I went shopping at Eaton Centre to find a pair of boots. Then I signed up for Lavalife and browsed around. I gotta find me a new past time. I'm bored," she told me over email. I could relate. Now that dragonboating was over, the time that used to be in such short supply was suddenly available in vast quantities. And understandably. We were used to training three days a week, and committing entire weekends to regattas. Beyond that, this team of twenty paddlers had become my close friends. Not only did we work out together, but I could depend on them for my social network. It was easy. Dragonboating was a complete physical and social activity in and of itself.

It was strange, because not two months earlier, we'd been complaining about paddling, our motivation levels at zero. We couldn't wait for the season to be over. We'd been through this before. The neverending pace of practices and regattas, and the ensuing feeling of emptiness when the nine month season was over. It was a cycle with which we were intimately familiar. We were used to it. But this time was different. This time, we'd both decided to quit completely. There was no season to look forward to and no practices to plan for.

We'd both made the decision to quit for the "right" reasons. She'd been paddling for almost ten years and needed to take a break. Me...well, I'd been paddling for four. I'd started because I needed to escape another life. A life that almost consumed me. One that was very dark, and one that I almost didn't return from. And it had worked. In some ways, paddling had saved me. It consumed me in the same way.

But now...well now, I am too comfortable. For me, the decision to quit is the right one. I suppose it's something in me...this need to be ever challenged, ever changing, ever uncomfortable. And I can feel it...a great, wide opening, a vast space waiting to be filled, and it's exciting, this feeling of anticipation. Still, I can't deny the fear that comes with changing the rhythm of your life. I can only have faith that creating this vacuum in my life will bring something even better!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Yellow Light

I've been going to Network Spinal Care for the last year and a half, and it's virtually impossible to explain what a difference it's made in my life. It's huge! I guess you could classify it under alternative therapies, but it's definitely grounded in science as well. I think it's just a little ahead of it's time, and that eventually we'll all embrace this type of treatment as mainstream. Essentially, Network believes that your body has an innate intelligence, and that health is not just about the absence of illness, but about wellness. Wellness in the broadest sense - physical, spiritual, emotional etc...I don't want to go into too much detail here, because I don't want to seem like a Network Evangelist...I want to talk about what I experienced today because it was just so cool...

I was lying on the table - it's just a regular old massage table - and Lynne (my doctor), continued with a bunch of low-force touches to various parts of my spine. At first, I felt the usual sense of relaxation, my body winding down, my spine starting to oscillate, and a quieting of my mind. My eyes were closed, but all of a sudden, my head felt flooded with yellow light. It was a warm, drowsy light - almost like the glow of the sun on a summer afternoon. I felt very peaceful, and when I opened my eyes, the light was still with me. The whole room seemed lit with this lovely, yellowish glow. In fact, it's still with me. It's very strange and I'm still not sure what to make of it. I guess it will all play out as it's supposed to...

I googled yellow in the auric spectrum, and this is what I found:

Yellow: joy, freedom, non-attachment, freeing or releasing vital forces. People who glow yellow are full of inner joy, very generous and not attached to anything. Yellow halo around the head: high spiritual development. A signature of a spiritual teacher. Yellow halo appears as a result of a highly active brow chakra. Highly spiritual people stimulate the brow chakra continuously for many years, because they always have intensive spiritual thoughts in their minds. When this chakra is observed when highly active, a yellow (Auric pair) halo appears around it, surrounding the entire head. Yellow thought indicates a moment of joy and contentment.

Yellow is a mental color in the aura. You will see this color around the head more often than probably any other color. It signifies concentration, thinking, learning, studying. It can also indicate spiritual development, usually on the very pale to white shades.