Monday, January 30, 2006


Karl had carefully divided the small pile into 5 crumbly white lines. Each line was about the width of a very skinny straw – like the kind you found wrapped in plastic on the sides of juice boxes, mom packed for lunch in elementary school. Each line was about 2 inches long. Most of the powder stuck together, but a few crumbly bits refused to adhere to the pile, and were scattered across the face of the CD case like specks of lint. Lily picked up the credit card sitting next to the CD case and carefully scraped up the stray pieces of powder. When she had cleaned up the line as much as possible, Lily took a deep breath to ensure that she would not blow any of the powder off. Finally, she stuck the green plastic straw deep inside her right nostril, plugged the other nostril, and inhaled sharply.

Lily sat back upright, and for what seemed a long time, she didn’t feel anything at all. The numbing effect of the cocaine she had just snorted dulled her senses momentarily. Suddenly, after an indeterminable amount of time, at least to her, she felt the familiar itch and sharpness inside her nose, and then the welcome explosion inside her brain. As the blow made it’s way through her sinuses, a sweet metallic flavour filled her mouth. The back of her throat felt thick and she swallowed hard, trying to overcome the numbness she felt.

She turned to Daniel, and handed him the straw. He gave her a hollow smile, but his focus was on the pile of cocaine in front of him. Without any of her preamble, he stuck the straw up his nose, and with great gusto, hoovered the line into his system as quickly as possible. He closed his eyes, already calmed by the presence of the white powder in his body. He leaned back, and without saying a word, waved the straw in the air for the next taker.

Sam reached over and made a grab for the green piece of plastic that was hovering in the air. She missed. After another lunge and a miss, she kicked Daniel in the foot to get his attention.

“Ow! Do you have to be such a bitch?” he said, frowning at Sam.

“Uh, oh!” Sam mocked him, “Is your little line wearing off already? It’s been, what, a whole 5 seconds?”

Lily sighed, “C’mon you guys. Get with it Sam. Karl and Jules are waiting.” And indeed they were. Karl and Jules watched the whole affair, slack jawed and a little confused. They were trying, without much luck, to wait patiently for their turn.

“Sorry guys.” Sam apologized, as she leaned over and sucked the powder up her nose. As the precious powder entered her system, she plugged both her nostrils and snorted hard to ensure that all of it would make its way into her body. Daniel waved his hand nonchalantly. He had already dismissed Sam, Karl and Jules in his mind. He made a grab for the straw, but was intercepted by Jules.

“Hey buddy, it’s not your turn yet.” Jules reminded Daniel gently.

“Oh. Yeah. Sorry Jules. I’m kinda out of it.” Daniel said faintly. Jules knew he didn’t mean it, but left it alone.

“Get on with it!” Karl was getting impatient. Jules quickly took his turn and handed the straw over to Karl, who after waiting for what seemed an eternity, took no time at all to digest the line that had been allotted to him.

All five of them sat back, and studied the empty CD case. Was it too soon to ask for more? “Yeah probably,” Lily thought.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Seed Thought

When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless." We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change, yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is. - Galaway

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Moments of Grace

I recently started a class at the Transformational Arts College called Meditation and the Modern Mystic.

The fundamental question of the course is: how does one retain spirituality in the modern world? or how do you become a modern mystic?

Essentially, a modern mystic is able to:
- transcend ego
- surrender
- detach
- be of service/contribute
- trust divine guidance
- stay centred in the face of crisis and change
- view life as a journey, rather than a problem to be solved

This is, of course, underpinned by true emotional healing:
- healing of wounds
- healthy ego
- ability to take charge of life
- ability to be intimate/get needs met
- have choice
- avert crisis

The two go hand in hand. They are parallel paths that must be travelled simultaneously.

If you attempt emotional healing without a strong, spiritual (not necessarily religious) component, you risk:
- narcissism
- self indulgence and self absorption
- emotional healing addiction/woundology
- recycling of old patterns and wounds

And you can't become a modern mystic without healing yourself emotionally because you can't transcend an ego you never had, or you may end up using spirituality as a defence mechanism or form of escapism.

But, how much easier is the path to spirituality if you are a monk, locked away from the modern world, praying/meditating for hours a day? I'm sure this life has it's unique challenges, but what of the rest of us? How do we stay centred in a world where we are surrounded by competing media voices, rampant consumerism and any number of temptations? How do we stop wanting things? How do we detach from all of that?

I have just begun (or maybe I was on it all along?) my journey along these two paths, and I keep discovering how much I don't know. What I do know is that my moments of grace only happen when I stop doubting myself, when I stop fearing the unknown, when I stop asking what I can get, when I stop competing, when I stop recycling old hurts, when I forgive, when I laugh, when I give, when I love.

My hope is that eventually these precious moments of grace will turn into a long lifetime of grace.

Monday, January 23, 2006


According to Statistics Canada, women of legal voting age outnumber men by over 500,000 votes. I believe the situation is similar all over the world. Demographically speaking then, women are more powerful than men. If women all over Canada voted on election day, we would have a government chosen by women. What kind of effect would that have on the world?

Given that we were not even given the right to vote, by male lawmakers, until January 1st, 1919, this is a pretty heady realization.

Your vote does count, so fight your apathy and make sure you vote today!

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Until I was about eighteen, I believed that the air conditioner in the car was called the air corn. It never occurred to me to question this incontrovertible fact, despite my perfect command of the English language.

"Dear husband, please turn on the air corn." my mother would say in a mix of Korean and English, to which a blast of cool air would fill the car. Of course, the air corn is actually the air con, which is all the same thing anyhow.

Or at least I think so.

I was sure I'd learned my lesson, but a few years later, my dad's pen club became his fan club...or so I thought.

There are a number of reasons why I assumed this to be the case. In the Korean language, there are only 24 letters, 14 of which are consonants. The L and the R in English blend into 1 sound, the G and the K blend into one sound, and the P and the F blend into another sound. Growing up, apples were affles and of course, the pen club, became the fan club.

OK, so I thought my dad was famous. At least in Korea. C'mon! He does have published books of poetry, and is very well known in the community. It's an honest mistake! My mom had a good laugh at me for that one.

I vowed to NEVER be fooled by this again! Boy was I wrong.

When we were in Palm Springs a few weeks ago, my dad pointed at these beautiful flowers, and exclaimed, "BOUGAIN-BILLIA!!"

"Bougain-billia?" I thought doubtfully. I'm no botanist, but this can't be right.

Later in the day, as I was flipping through a magazine, I saw a picture of some similar looking flowers with the caption tubular verbenas. The wheels started turning in my head, and I became convinced that Tubular Verbena had somehow been magically translated into Bougain-Billia by my dad's Korean accent.

Tubular Verbena - Bubular Berbenia - Bougain-Billia. Can't you hear it? I sure can. And so could my sister and brother. We teased my parents mercilessly about this all week, and laughed to the point of tears.

At the end of the week, my mom entered the condo and triumphantly exclaimed, "it IS Bougain-Billia!" and showed me a piece of paper with the word bougainvillea written on it.

I'm not sure what to say.

Sunday, January 15, 2006


In Korea, when people die, they are buried under small hills or little mountains. I guess it depends on your level of wealth and social status. In May, my father is going to Korea to try to buy the hill/mountain that his father is buried under, before it is developed into a condo, mall or parking lot. This seems like a rather large and expensive undertaking to me.

See the thing is, he never knew his own father. He passed away while my dad was still in my grandmother's belly. He left my father nothing, because in 1940s Korea, you only left money to your sons, and my dad was not yet born. What if he had been a girl? Thus, my grandfather's entire inheritance was left to my dad's older brother - my uncle. A terrible man, who lived like a king, while my dad starved and stole bags of family rice to pay for school. A terrible man whose own children would not even visit him on his deathbed. Strangely enough, my mother was the only one with him when he died.

My father's entire life has been touched by this early, devastating loss. He carries it with him - a big, black mark upon his soul. He lives like he is waiting to die. As a child, it was difficult to hear this constant refrain. "One day, I will be gone, and you will know what it is to be without a father. Your life is my life. I am only happy if you are happy." No child wants to think about their parent dying. Can a child even comprehend this? It used to anger me. I did not want so much responsibility. I did not want to think about dying.

A few years ago, around the same time that my dad published his book of poems, I asked him to tell me about his life. He told me about the loss of his father. The poverty in which he grew up. The humiliation he felt. The sadness he carried with him everyday.

As he told me his story, I began to understand his history. How his past informs his present and his future. I felt the weight of this story, which is the story of my past and present too. I could feel it's patterns encircling me, enfolding me, beckoning me.

We are our parents. We carry all of their sorrow, pain, joy, happiness, despair and disappointment within us. I feel this more profoundly everyday. But rather than angering me, as it did in the past, I realize that I can break out of these patterns, and in the process, free us both.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Insecurity is a Luxury

I started reading Race Against Time by Stephen Lewis this morning. It's about the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, which focus on creating change in the areas of education, heath, poverty and gender equality by the year 2015.

The first chapter is called Context: It Shames and Diminishes Us All, and it starts like this: "I have spent the last four years watching people die. Nothing in my adult life prepared me for the carnage of HIV/AIDS." I've already shed tears, despite having read only seven pages of the book. It's devastating.

I started to think about my life, and the lives of the people I know, and how blessed we all are. I started to think about how we all complain about silly things - ongoing litanies of:

I'm getting fat.

I'm not sure what to do with my life.

I am not pretty enough, I am not smart enough, I am not good enough...

We take so much for granted:
If we were uncertain of our next meal, if we could not feed our children, if our country was in famine - we would not have the luxury of worrying about getting fat.

If we did not have access to clean water and medical attention, if our country were wracked by civil war, if we were ruled by a dictatorship - we would not have the luxury of choice.

Insecurity is a luxury only developed nations can afford.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gary the Philistine

Well, I ran into my psychic love connection again. Gary looks lovely today in a pale blue shirt and fuzzy blue vest.

I tried to dodge past him in the hallway to no avail.

G: Hello!! I see that they've put the wall up between our offices.

Me: (continuing to walk away) Yes, the wall is up.

G: I guess they're separating the Philistines from the Gentiles. (hearty laugh)

Me: Um yeah. I guess so.

G: (yelling down the hallway) So, I guess the Philistines won't be mingling with the important people.

Me: (over my shoulder) Yes, there will be NO mingling!

And with that, I escaped into the safety of my office.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Fountain

I just watched the teaser trailer for The Fountain, and I felt chills running up and down my spine. The trailer doesn't give away too much, but it looks like the movie is about the 3 lifetimes of 1 man (Hugh Jackman), and how it intertwines with his 1 love (Rachel Weisz) in 3 different time settings (1500, 2006, 2500) until he reaches his ultimate destiny. The editing, music and visuals in this short trailer are incredible, and I love these themes.

It's written and directed by Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream), who's work I adore. He's the kind of writer/director whose work I anxiously wait for.

And thank god Brad Pitt is not in this film as originally intended!

You can check out the trailer here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Joshua Tree National Park

While in California, we drove to Twenty Nine Palms and spent the day wandering around Joshua Tree National Park. The landscape gives a feeling of beautiful isolation, alienation and desolation. Here are some pics I took:

Monday, January 02, 2006

Trapped in Palm Springs!

You would think that being stuck in Palm Springs for an extra day would be a good thing. But, I beg to differ. It started when we arrived at the airport 2 days ago to find out that the flight had been moved up 2 hours. This fact had not been communicated to us, which was definitely a huge oversight on Westjet's part. We'd missed the plane, and with no more planes leaving that day, we were stuck in Palm Springs for at least one more night. Happens all the time, right?

Did we instantly run back outside and into the glorious 25 degree sunshine of California? Did we lie back and put up our feet under the swaying palm trees and blue skies? OF COURSE NOT! Despite the fact that a workable solution was created after 15 minutes, my parents argued with the poor Westjet ticket agents for over an hour more, trying to convince them that they were in the right. My sister and I sat on the sidelines and tried to keep out of it, but it's hard to watch your parents uselessly arguing over something they can't change. It's hard to watch your dad's already high blood pressure creep up higher and higher until he's red in the face and hyperventilating. I haven't felt that tense for a long time.

Eventually everyone calmed down enough for us to get outta there, but lemme tell you, this last extra day of the trip was no picnic. My mom was angry, my dad felt cheated, and my sister and I were trapped with them in a fleabag motel complete with paper thin walls and the sounds of people having sex on squeaky mattresses. My brother had wisely booked a separate flight earlier in the week, and was likely sitting in a pub surrounded by friends, laughing and drinking beer. I felt like renting a car, driving to the closest major city, and begging them to put me on a flight. San Diego? LA? San Fran? Anywhere but Palm Springs.

We arrived at the airport the next day (New Year's Day) and were told that our flight was delayed by 4 hours. Mechanical problems. In all, it took us over 13 hours to travel the three and a half hours back to Calgary. I have never been so happy to be in Calgary in my life. And I will be doubly happy to be back to MY life in Toronto in one week!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Intentions for 2006

I'm not setting New Year's Resolutions this year. I'm setting Intentions instead. They are:

1. To approach life not from a place of fear, but from a place of love.
2. To go fearlessly in search of my destiny.
3. To accept and receive an abundance of love and gratitude in my life.