Category Archives: BOOKS

rescuing a lost weekend

It’s been a great week, generally speaking. I have a ton of reading to get through, as usual, but more on that later. I saw Frida one last time this past Friday with a friend. I had a really nice time (though I was surprised that we go through the exhibit in an hour, I took 2 hours my first time there) and it was so good to meet up with her. And then I sat in Mount’s Hedwig lecture. I can’t remember how he did it during first year – but everything he said was so easy and obvious to me. I suppose that is a good thing – that I did some growing.

I worked till 9pm on Friday but didn’t get any work done because I was chatting with co-workers. One of the things I love about my job is that most people there are thoughtful and have interesting things to say (since we’re all nerds by default).

And then the lost weekend began – rather than prepping for my exam and doing readings for my other classes, i watched 3 seasons of Mad Men. Do I regret it? No, but I feel terrible. So I’ll have to do my best to catch up now. Sigh, just thinking about it all is depressing. One thing to keep me upbeat is my dinner at Canoe! i can’t wait!!

PS. The Australian Open is happening and i’m rooting for Roger, obviously.

PPS. Made plans for Reading Week, eeeeek

PPPS. I managed to write poems this week – oh, how i’ve missed it so!

 

 

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constant spiral

Reading Aristotle has been a remarkable experience. The reading for this week’s lectures are metaphysics (book 1), topics and post. an.. I read all this in one go a couple of days ago and had about 20 sticky notes with “?!?” Written on them. If you recall, I was mad at myself for not having bought the book earlier (amazon carries it for $15 less, but shipping takes any from 1-2 months and I didn’t exactly plan ahead). Anyway, I gave all these pages another go last week and eradicated about half of those WTFs. And then last night, I more or less understood what I was reading. Today in lecture, my professor confirmed most of my understandings of the text. It felt so good! I love it when things like this happen, because it reminds me how important and useful it is to read things multiple times. This also gives me confidence in my ability to read critically. It’s never easy, but it is all worth it!

It’s funny how I consistently underestimate the magnitude of a seemingly insignificant thing. I remember being obsessed with Melba toast in middle school. I thought I was being so cool and ‘grown-up’, eating microwave melted harvest cheese on those things. Some girl in my french lesson (this is outside school) asked during one of those inane ‘breaks’ “Is that Melba toast?” and I proudly exclaimed ‘yes!’ Till this day, I have no idea why she asked – and whether she got anything useful out of my answer. Did she hate Melba toast, and thus, anyone one who relishes in their inexplicable crunch? Was she craving for Melba toast and wanted some of mine (granted it didn’t have cheese on them)? So many questions, and all of them MAJORLY IMPORTANT and FRUSTRATING at the time. I can only laugh now. I think we all do when we look back on our youth.

I had a terrible night’s sleep – tossing and turning into the wee hours and scrambled out of bed at 8am to wash, dress, and run out to catch the 8:30am subway. I had an ice-capp last night because my Wednesdays are fiendishly long. It was only an ice capp, and being a java-junkie, i didn’t think much of it. But man, did I suffer through the night. I eventually fell asleep to the dulcet tones of my Shakespeare prof (whose lectures are really really great, but he’s got a really soft, subtle voice that you hate in class because you can’t hear the damn man (I had to sprint from my preceding class from the otherwise of campus to ensure that I got class in time to get a decent seat)). Anyway, suffice it to say that my head’s not in the greatest shape now, but I have so much reading and prep to do for next week, and I have a poetry deadline on Monday that hasn’t even sunk into my brain properly.

I had a pretty frustrating shopping experience today. Although the upside is that I only ended up spending $20 + tax on a northface hoodie (originally $60!!!), I also wasted a lot of time and energy picking and then ditching new winter coats. I can’t wait till I’ll fully independent, when my parents have no barring on what I buy/not buy.

I was supposed to skype with a friend early this evening to discuss and finalize reading week plans – but she never turned up. I detest that sort of thing. But I can’t even muster up the energy to be upset about it. Still, ARGHHHHH!

The 4th season of Cabin pressure started off on what I considered to be a weak episode. The voice actors are clearly trying to elevate the writing, but the story felt so stilted and inorganic. I hate that I feel this way, because I love Cabin Pressure (And not just because BC is in it. I really fell in love with the whole cast and their dynamics!)

I went to the gym today (and I shall spare you the thrilling tale of me being locked out of my locker because my lock suddenly decided to stop working. This ended with my lock being destroyed by a staff member) and did all my usual exercises, so I’m not even sure the soreness I’m feeling in my legs are due to inactivity or due to activity. Hahaa

I need to be more prudent with my spending. I’ve afraid that with the new semester, my sending habits are about to spiral out of control. I am consistently spending $15 on food on a single day. I used to be good at keeping it below $10. Time to bring my own coffee again~ And snacks!! Fruits! Stop buying biscotti singularly!

Sigh, i’m running out of steam and I haven’t started on my Plato and etc readings…


renewal

it’s only the 2nd days of the semester and already I have about 50 pages of readings to do. Granted, I’ve completed this week’s readings so it’s not exactly urgent, but I’m one who likes to be ahead with my course work (you never know when cramps are going to hit me). I had Shakespeare this afternoon, and everytime I walk away from that class completely enlightened. I don’t always agree with the prof’s arguments, but he has such a way of examining and clarifying and unfolding the text that no matter how many times I’ve read a certain play, he will show me ALL THIS STUFF I’ve missed. It’s so wonderful.

I’ve started on my Aristotle readings and so far it’s smooth sailing. The metaphysics are fun to read, but the logic stuff (post an, esp) is dull. i think I still have unfavourable emotional residue from Modern symbolic Logic. i did all right in that course, and thinking back – it was fun and interesting. But that’s me reminiscing after freaking out over the exam, so I don’t know how valid (harhar) my opinion is.

I started a new course with Kingwell, and I am so psyched about this course. After much shenanigans and money spent, I got myself a copy of ‘Philosophies of Art and Beauty’ – can’t wait!!!

Hmm, I’ve got my eyes on the Estee Lauder pleasures hand cream and the clarins bb cream. Together, they will set me back $00 (not including tax). The only time I’ve splurged on cosmetics is on these gorgeous Dior eye shadow pallet, and shishedo lipstick and liner… Do I deserve unecessary luxuaries? Shoppers has a $10 back for every $50 purchase… eeeeek! Should I?

PS: Kim Woo bin is killing it in school 2013

UPDATE: My make-up obsessed friend recommended that I get samples from Sephora before i buy them. Smart!!

 


checking in

How was everyone’s Christmas? Sorry I’ve been MIA, after my exams ended, I have been working everyday since Christmas Eve. I spent the 3 days been my last exam and work by watching films (was totally disappointed with Anna Karenina, and have mixed feelings about The Hobbit), skyping with my mom, and meeting with friends. I went shopping on Boxing day after work – and came home empty-handed. This is the norm for me, but I was so looking forward to buying a little something. The things I really wanted did not go on sale, and the things I didn’t care for were 50% off.

I am munching on a KFC sandwich right now. The meat is tough but it somewhat satisfies my craving for fried chicken.

I was supposed to get through my Aristotle readings, but I barely made a dent. I feel terrible for slacking off, but after 8.5 hours of work and trekking through all the slush and snow, I end up passing out on my bed. I did finish one of the novels for my CAN LIT class though. I’m starting on Margret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace‘. I can’t say I’m absorbed, and I was never a huge fan of her writing – but hopefully, the story gets better.

I need to write more!! I have a ton of deadlines coming up and I don’t even have drafts for some of them. URGHH

I also need to reread those plays for my second semester of Shakespeare. I still have to meet up with people after New Years and it’s cutting into my prep time – but what can I do? Friends are important, and I need to loosen up a bit, too.

I went to see Frida last night. The museum is CRAZY crowded. It was a members only night, so I assumed it’d be dead – but I guess not. Sigh, I’d better go during the day time.

All my moaning and complaints about not having enough hours in a day are biased, I’ve been obsessed with this Korean drama called School 2013. It’s a refreshingly realistic (though occasionally exaggerated for dramatic effect) look at the Korean education system. I won’t fangirl about it here, but ARGH!!! One word: BROMANCE!

Meanwhile, I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz. It’s mostly Holiday themed – but still lovely. Do any of you use Songza? It takes me a while to find a playlist that is compatible with my taste, but it’s still pretty great!

 


Leonardo de Vinci: Anatomy

I got up to Unit5 Part A.7 of Symb. Logic last night and simply got too bored to continue studying. So I whiled away the night (I slept at 3am!) by watching countless episodes of anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”. Man, it’s always a mistake to watch food shows when you’ve only had a large veggie salad for dinner – but I persevered! I didn’t eat anything else, seeing it was so late in the night and there’s nothing I fancied in the house.

Whew! I’m literally starving…

Just  came back after eating a marshmallow sandwich because i didn’t have any toast spread left. It was surprisingly tasty. Hmm, looking at my agenda is going me headaches. The day after Tuesday’s midterm, I’m to meet up with my TA about the preliminary draft for my paper. Ugh, as you all know, I only have an outline. I suppose there’s another sleepless night! I’ll do a very detailed outline (with citations and everything) but there’s no way I’ll write 10 pages after that midterm.

During my procrastination this morning, I discovered touchpress apps! they are supposed to be fantastic! I bought the Da Vinci one – if it’s as good as it promises to be, I’ll probably get The Waste Land one too.

I need to get off the internet!! LATERZZZ

 


in the spirit

don’t say i didn’t warn you. once i get started on Moab, i simply can’t stop. here are 3% of the gems from Moab that resonate with me. some readers and reviewers complain that his writing style is too verbose. i can see why they think so – the word count alone is daunting to a casual reader. However, what is continuously astonishing to me (with each reread) is his remarkable ability to say precisely what i didn’t know about myself. I hate to say this, because it is untrue to some extent – but i relate to him. i say “untrue” because the context of his youth and mine are so astronomically different – and so our sets of worries and joys are also unidentical. but the feeling. Sigh.

i found these on the net (goodreads, etc – i rec that you buy the audiobook. nothing can beat fry’s own voice reading his own life. btw, his reading of the Fry Chronicles isn’t nearly as good. his voice thinned… because of the pipe smoking?)

“Life is sometimes novel-shaped, mocking the efforts of those authors who, in an effort to make their novels life-shaped, spurn the easy symmetry and cheap resonance of reality.”

“As I go clowning my sentimental way into eternity, wrestling with all my problems of estrangement and communion, sincerity and simulation, ambition and acquiescence, I shuttle between worrying whether I matter at all and whether anything else matters but me.”

“I used many times to touch my own chest and feel, under its asthmatic quiver, the engine of the heart and lungs and blood and feel amazed at what I sensed was the enormity of the power I possessed. Not magical power, but real power. The power simply to go on, the power to endure, that is power enough, but I felt I had also the power to create, to add, to delight, to amaze and to transform.”

“None of this is important in itself, but I feel somewhere that it has a lot to do with why I have always felt separate, why I have always felt unable to join in, to let go, to become part of the tribe, why I have always sniped or joked from the sidelines, why I have never, ever, lost my overwhelmingly self-conscious self-consciousness. It’s not all that bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing – they are not all bad. Those devils have also been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me.”

“People who can change and change again are so much more reliable and happier than those who can’t”

“It is the useless things that make life worth living and that make life dangerous too: wine, love, art, beauty. Without them life is safe, but not worth bothering with.”

“And then I saw him and nothing was ever the same again.

The sky was never the same colour, the moon never the same shape: the air never smelt the same, food never tasted the same. Every word I knew changed its meaning, everything that once was stable and firm became as insubstantial as a puff of wind, and every puff of wind became a solid thing I could feel and touch.”

“Well I don’t know about you, but when I recall childhood pain, I don’t recall the pains of toothache, a thrashed backside, broken bones, stubbed toes, gashed knees or twisted ankles – I recall the pains of loneliness, boredom, abandonment, humiliation, rejection and fear. Those are the pains on which I might and, still sometimes do, dwell, and those pains, almost without exception, were inflicted on me by other children and by myself.”

“Choking with dry tears and raging, raging, raging at the absolute indifference of nature and the world to the death of love, the death of hope and the death of beauty, I remember sitting on the end of my bed, collecting these pills and capsules together and wondering why, why when I felt I had so much to offer, so much love, such outpourings of love and energy to spend on the world, I was incapable of being offered love, giving it or summoning the energy with which I knew I could transform myself and everything around me.”

“Music is everything and nothing. It is useless and no limit can be set on its use. Music takes me to places of illimitable sensual and insensate joy, accessing points of ecstasy that no angelic lover could ever locate, or plunging me into gibbering weeping hells of pain that no torturer could devise. Music makes me write this sort of maundering adolescent nonsense without embarrassment. Music is in fact the dog’s bollocks. Nothing else comes close.”

“Music was a kind of penetration. Perhaps absorption is a less freighted word. The penetration or absorption of everything into itself. I don’t know if you have ever taken LSD, but when you do so the doors of perception, as Aldous Huxley, Jim Morrison and their adherents ceaselessly remind us, swing wide open. That is actually the sort of phrase, unless you are William Blake, that only makes sense when there is some LSD actually swimming about inside you. In the cold light of the cup of coffee and banana sandwich that are beside me now it appears to be nonsense, but I expect you to know what it is taken to mean. LSD reveals the whatness of things, their quiddity, their essence. The wateriness of water is suddenly revealed to you, the carpetness of carpets, the woodness of wood, the yellowness of yellow, the fingernailness of fingernails, the allness of all, the nothingness of all, the allness of nothing. For me music gives access to everyone of these essences, but at a fraction of the social or financial cost of a drug and without the need to cry ‘Wow!’ all the time, which is LSD’s most distressing and least endearing side effects.

…Music in the precision of its form and the mathematical tyranny of its laws, escapes into an eternity of abstraction and an absurd sublime that is everywhere and nowhere at once. The grunt of rosin-rubbed catgut, the saliva-bubble blast of a brass tube, the sweaty-fingered squeak on a guitar fret, all that physicality, all that clumsy ‘music making’, all that grain of human performance…transcends itself at the moment of its happening, that moment when music actually becomes, as it makes the journey from the vibrating instrument, the vibrating hi-fi speaker, as it sends those vibrations across to the human tympanum and through to the inner ear and into the brain, where the mind is set to vibrate to frequencies of its own making.

The nothingness of music can be moulded by the mood of the listener into the most precise shapes or allowed to float as free as thought; music can follow the academic and theoretical pattern of its own modality or adhere to some narrative or dialectical programme imposed by a friend, a scholar or the composer himself. Music is everything and nothing. It is useless and no limit can be set to its use. Music takes me to places of illimitable sensual and insensate joy, accessing points of ecstasy that no angelic lover could ever locate, or plunging me into gibbering weeping hells of pain that no torturer could ever devise. Music makes me write this sort of maundering adolescent nonsense without embarrassment. Music is in fact the dog’s bollocks. Nothing else comes close.”


interim

I’m feeling slightly queasy. My dad tried his hand at making fish, as in fish and chips. Without meaning to pun, it was very fishy – i had to drown it in chili spring roll sauce to mask that.

Anyway, i promised a monster post a couple weeks back so here it goes. Be warned – incoherency ahead! I jotted down bits and pieces of my thoughts over the weak and I didn’t realy make an effort to make them cohesive. This is literally a brain dump.

I was mending my yoga pants and listening to James Vincent McMorrow‘s devastating Follow You Down to the Red Oak Tree when my dad popped his head into my room and ASKED FOR THE SONG’S NAME! He literally disagrees with most of my music tastes (except for oldies and classical music) so this was kind of strange/awesome. He said the singer’s voice is very special – which is basically the reason why i love James VM so much! So much softness and strength! And oh yeah, I may have raved about that movie too – the one that cemented my undying devotion to Benedict Cumberbatch…?

I love entirely too much. this sounds like an odd thing to pronounce, but i don’t think i have enough love IN me, not enough for myself. Anyway, a portion of my time went into reading this. Tony Bourdain is such a character, that’s why I enjoy his shows (and the first couple of books were great!) so much. He’s lively and unpretentious (well, at least not to himself). I love real travel-food documentaries. I want to see the culture of the real folks, not just the touristy “hidden gems”. This also goes some ways to explain why I love “An Idiot Abroad“. Karl Pilkington is unlike anyone you will ever meet/ see/ hear of. He is just brilliant. Completely unassumingly, ignorantly brilliant – which is the best kind for reality shows!

oh! I found this fantastic site that links a ton of films, books, podcasts, to classic material! I have so many documentaries awaiting my attention it’s both delightful and depressing at the same time. Depressing because it’ll be a good month before i can even venture into the world of self-indulgence.

[brb – tummy feeling queasy!!! … is this TMI?]

Hmm… what else? I must one of the only people that didn’t talk about the US elections! Too much ink has been spilt on the issue already so i don’t want to dwell on it. I’m happy that he won – I disagree with Romney on several key points, but I don’t think he’s a bad person nor do I think he wants USA to go down the drain as a country. My mother is the opposite of me in politics, so our most recent skype meet was intense and a bit exhausting. But hey, she’s supposedly talking to Democrats online in order to “see the light”. She sees Obama in the same way I see Romney: ultimately nice guy – but not up to the task of being president.

on an utterly frivolous issue – i’ve been doing lots of online window shopping lately (due to my materialistic but stingy ways). I’ve come to realize something during these pseudo-shopping sprees: I view money in a completely different way than i did when i was jobless. Back when i didn’t have a job, i would easily buy things if i had the money. but now that i do have a job, i can never justify frivolous purchases to myself. i guess everyone experiences this maturity? But a lot of my friends think my frugal ways are hilarious. For instance, i have very sensitive to heat, so if i buy a coffee and the shop doesn’t offer cardboard sleeves, i always ask for an extra cup. when i finish my coffee, rather than throwing away the whole thing, i carry my unused extra home and save it for a day when i don’t feel like bringing my tumblr. is that too extreme? it’s no trouble at all to bring a paper cup home!

another thing i’ve come to realize during my vocal/visual arts haitus: the aforementioned arts are def not my forte. most of the time, i imitate. when i sing, i am always trying to mirror the original over some great cover. i haven’t painted anything original in months – always drawing waterlilies or starry night. i need to get back into doing more creative prints!! i miss it so! my creative writing, though not by any means especially outstanding – is completely my own, even if i can’t define what my style is.

This leads me to another point. I am so grateful that i have so many forms of creative outlet. I never feel ennui. In his second autobiography, stephen fry said that he and hugh laurie once exclaimed “how lucky we are!” They spent their days in cafes and vinyl shops after 20min of voice-over work (which pays very well). they did what they loved best, writing and acting together!

and of course talking about Fry always somehow leads me to his reproduced letter in Moab Is My Washpot which contains the immortal words “I tell you now that everything I feel now, everything I am now is truer and better than anything I shall ever be. Ever.” Fry wrote this when he was 16 and deeply unhappy.

I am not deeply unhappy, but if i may say so myself, i am deeply troubled. And every time I read these words, I am destroyed. Stephen Fry, over all these years, has always been so real, so authentic, so loyal to his feelings – whatever they may be. He never shied away from his self as he sees himself.

I, on the other hand, never allow myself to be so unguarded. every moment of my life is planned – by me! I never allow myself to wander. this is exhausting, and yet the fear of anticipation is too great to bear…