Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mormons, disappointment/forgiveness, and being a girl

The other day, I was standing at the bus stop, when I saw two Mormons at the bus stop. They were very easy to distinguish. If their black attire and black nametags didn't give them away, the fact they looked absolutely frozen while I was content without hat or mittens gave away the fact that they were Mormons, they were missionaries, and they were definitely not from here. (I was also secretly proud of myself that I was actually not that cold in the weather, when usually I'm always cold, and bundle up in at least one more layer than the average person during this season. Anybody up for moving to a tropical climate for the winter??)

I love religion, and studying religion, so in my mind, there was definitely a childlike excitement. (Real-live Mormons??? Oh boy oh boy!) They didn't do the best job of answering my questions though, and most of the time I felt like they were trying to convert me. I felt bad, and told them to give me a call if ever they needed help navigating the city, particularly the bus routes (I'm almost proud of how well I've figured out that system.) and they did call me again! But it was different Mormons this time! And they tried to convert me again! I wanted to start talking to them about the Catholic church in the same way they were talking to me, but I felt kind of awkward doing so. It was a good opportunity to get a free Book of Mormon from them though, to add to my growing collection of free religious texts.

Two things completely shocked me though. One, was that I had no idea that they didn't believe in the Trinity. Mostly all Christian faiths I've interacted with have a very strong belief in God being present in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and this had never concerned me. To have people suddenly question just that one detail, like, not the existence of God, or the divinity of Jesus (though, this was about the divinity of Jesus to an extent) but just the TRINITY, threw me for a loop. I like to think I've questioned deeply a lot of things in my faith, and put myself in situations where I am seriously tested, and made to doubt what I believe in, to see if it is true. And it always has been. It kind of made me feel like I've forgotten to question this, and I didn't realize how fast I held onto that belief. The second thing that caused me great question was that it was strange to interact very closely with people of such conviction for something that many people around me believe very firmly is WRONG. In fact, it's bogus. But like, the Mormons and I prayed before we started talking, and the one Mormon girl pulled out her Bible/Book of Mormon (they can come in a two-in-one form!) and it was full of sticky notes, and little flags and bookmarks, so it was definitely well-read, and by someone who fully and wholeheartedly believes it. Encountering conviction such as that, humbles me, because I know I have that same kind of conviction, but I was disappointed as well because they said may times to me that they were SURE. You can never be sure. Faith isn't about knowing. And it's audacious of me to say that I'm CERTAIN, but I do hope with all my heart, and it is the hope that we have that is most important, and most desperate. Never sureness, but hope.

I think I've had the girliest week that I have ever had in my life. Not only is today the worst day (and only some people may understand what that means. It's not a bad day at all. Just a worst day) but Matt Harrison gave me a haircut. If Matthew Harrison ever ran for Prime Minister, I would vote for him. He seems to be the person I've ended up calling in times of trouble. He came when I crashed my car, and when I needed someone to give a boost to my mom's car, he was the one I called. I posted on Facebook that I needed a haircut, and he responded. I took up his dare, wanting to see what would happen, wondering if I was going to leave my haircut with longer leg hair than head hair. He picked me up, bright and early, and then took me to a very fancy hair salon at the mall, and bought me a professional, and one of the best-done haircuts I've ever had in my life. I was floored! What a surprise! And it turned out wonderfully, though my dreadlocks are now gone.

The next day Wendy gave me a makeover. I have a dare with a few girls on my floor that in exchange for them giving me a makeover, they'd have to go with no makeup like I do. I just like to have the freedom to touch my face whenever I want, and I also feel like I look fine without having to add anything. But I looked SO DIFFERENT. And a lot of people noticed. It was a positive feeling, for sure, and I understand a bit more of why girls do it. I definitely don't want/need to though. After my super-girly week, I just wanted to hang out with GUYS. There's just something about just sitting and playing a videogame with a bunch of guys that honestly makes me feel some form of normalcy. So I went and saw Avatar last night with a bunch of guys. It helped me feel a bit more normal, for some reason. Not to mention that was an excellent, and imaginative movie! Wow! I would see that again in a flash, and I can see why it is so well-liked.

Tonight though, I had a gig. A friend of mine invited me to play at a monthly art and music gathering called The View From Here, at a community house called The Branches. I was deeply excited, and touched that a friend that hadn't even heard me play invited me to be a featured guest at this event! This was huge! And I told all my friends about it because I was so excited. But only one of my friends ended up coming, and the majority of them made awful, awful excuses for not coming. Things like, "Oh, I have school," "Oh, I have a sore tummy." and "Oh, I'm making dinner." were said to me. I was very disappointed. I wish I could write them all a letter. And I would have appreciated it if they were more honest; it felt like they were just making up the worst excuses and that hurt more deeply than if they had just said, "No, I don't want to come." because at least in that situation I could be honest back, but instead I'm socially forced to smile and say "It's alright, I hope you get better." when I would much rather say, "Stop feeding me BULLSHIT!" It's something deeply personal to me because I've studied piano for the majority of my life, and performing and playing my music for people gives me such intense joy. I love to play for people, and I love it when people want me to play for them.

But I don't want revenge. I thought about it on the bus ride (which, when you're angry/disappointed on the bus, it makes the ride infinitely longer) and I thought I could just shake my fist at the air and say, "Someday people will be paying hundreds of dollars to hear me play! mwahahaha!" (I didn't really do that. If I were to be completely honest I'd say that I was on the verge of crying, and trying to coach myself to do a good job, nay, a BETTER job, and thoroughly enjoy it, for the sake of the ones I care about who didn't care to come) But I don't expect that any time in my life, I would reach a level of musical ability where people would pay hundreds of dollars to hear me play, nor do I want to, but that's beside the point. Last week I was confronted with the opportunity to deal with a conflict, but after a lot of thinking, praying and discussing (from a few people, too) we realized the best thing to do was not only to forgive, but to pray for them to be blessed, and hope for goodness in their lives. That needs to happen more often. There is a time to confront yes, but every single time we must forgive wholeheartedly, and that means even going so far as to genuinely hope for the best in the lives of those who wronged you. You will be wronged. You will be disappointed, and let down. None of us can perfectly fulfill that, and I've only realized that the more you know a person, and love a person, the more deeply you can hurt each other. Because you will be wronged, you must never seek to do wrong back, but do MORE good, because it is RIGHT, and that reason alone is sufficient. If they do not come to hear you play, then the next time the opportunity arises to play your heart out, you invite all those who did not care the first with the same excitement as before, because it is RIGHT and that is truly forgiving. Not only does it give second chances, it forgets about the first mistakes. Truly loving does not react out of spite for the wrong done. It can't.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


This morning, I woke up at 5:30am, completely awake. And praying... I woke up praying. It was very strange. It made me wonder if I had been praying all night in my sleep, and how that works. I couldn't get back to sleep (which is very uncharacteristic of me... I am such a heavy sleeper I struggle with waking up!) so I went to the common lounge and read the book of Acts until about 7am, when very tired-looking people started coming downstairs, so I left and went back to bed.

I was praying for two things, and desperately: that God would lead me to a community next year. But not just people to live with. But people to learn from, and do ministry and help those around me with. I prayed that God would show me how to speak boldly about His truth like they did in the Acts of the Apostles - and to speak it rightly, and lovingly, with courage, and open to whatever may happen. I also prayed for a direction that is focused on God - that I wouldn't be concerned with a meaningless pursuits but that my actions and decisions would be focused on His will. My reasons for hot-air balloons are selfish, and I don't want to be overcome with worry and not have any direction beyond a mediocre pursuit that isn't concerned with His plan in my life and a greater goodness and beauty to strive for.

It was a really strange morning. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010


It's been a good month so far, and a while since I've posted. I've been busy, probably as busy as last semester, but it's been a good kind of busy. I don't feel the same kind of stress and pressure as I did. Here are some stories.

Mike and Mary had a baby! A GIRL! She's beautiful, her name is Ainslie. When I first saw her she was so tiny I didn't realize babies came in such a small size. It's incredible, to see them, and to see her, and I find myself unsure of how to act or be around her. Kind of like it's something so overwhelming and wonderful you're, in a way, moved to awe. It's weird for me to think that potentially, it won't be that long at all before I might have a baby, and that thought for the longest time has terrified me, but now it excites me as well.

Aaron Balzer was back in the area as well, and that greatly excited me. It was a good reminder of the blessing it is to have friends you've shared incredible experiences with, and you can still meet up years later to catch up and enjoy. Those are good friends to have. He, Mat and I went out for bubble tea. It was kind of fun for me to hang out with guys. I love doing that, because sometimes, it's easier than hanging out with girls. Except they were acting kind of girly, but it was hilarious for me. They kept on trying to set me up with different guys, saying things like, "He is GORGEOUS, he is a FOX, and he will woo you, and cook for you!" - I think there must have been something in their bubble tea. :D

I hung out with Angela a lot, which is great. One night I made her risotto - my absolute favorite food. It was my first time making it on my own, and I was a bit scared it would turn out badly but it was perfect. There's always uncertainty not knowing how it will be, or if I had done something wrong, and all I could do was stir it and wait and hope it will come together. I was so glad it did. I met her friend Keith, and we went to a karaoke night. I was quite bad at it, but it was fun. We went rock-climbing the next day, Ange, Janet, Keith and I, and I didn't realize just how INTENSE of a workout rock climbing is. I loved it! I'm definitely going to search for the rumored rock climbing wall at UW and start climbing. Angela has definitely become a close friend in such a short time, and I've grown to appreciate her every time I hang out with her.

I've been doing youth nights too. One night, we went sledding at Mt. Trashmore. Rather, the three boys that came went down and Mike and I shivered on the top of the hill while I kept Mike company and we contemplated calling Dan Cook and arranging a hot tub date. I eventually slid down the hill, and Mike chickened out and just walked down. I'm still in shock that anybody would just WALK down a hill like that. We did laser tag the other night, and surprisingly, I KICKED BUTT. No smack talk. This is the truth. I started winning everything, and somehow, I ended up on top, each time. The only person who beat me was this guy named Jack Bauer (how can I expect to beat Jack Bauer?) but once Jack left...

School started as well. This semester's much better than last semester. I'm taking piano lessons, which I didn't realize is such a staple in my life that I feel sane having it. I have a different teacher though, so it's odd having a piano teacher that is NOT the one I've had for ten years. And the first thing she did was tell me that the entire way and style I have played is completely wrong and that I need to change it. What she says makes sense: building strength from the entirety of the arm rather than just the fingers. But that's a ten-year old habit! That habit's in the double digits! And I have to change it in twelve weeks? Oi.

School also means Becca. I love hanging out with her. She introduced me to one of her friends, this wonderful individual named Alexander, who invited me to his house where we made arguably the best soup I'd ever tasted. Roasted sweet potatoes and roasted carrots, pureed. Roasted garlic, pureed. Roasted onion, chopped. A habenero pepper, pureed. Olive oil, cumin, and rosemary. And quinoa! Oh my goodness. I hope I never forget such an awesome recipe. We talked about community and the importance of it, and they had a lot of views that I'm very passionate about, so I highly enjoyed our conversation. I hope I see them again. A few weeks later, I ended up bumping into them, and they invited me to a party at their place, which I ended up being unable to go to, but apparently they got extraordinarily drunk waiting for me. Well... at least they were happy... :)

School also means work. I like my job a lot though. We're doing a contest about quitting smoking, but there's a category people can sign up for called "Don't Start and Win" where all a person has to do is not start smoking during the period the contest is running. Basically the easiest contest in the world.

I discovered through my classes that I highly enjoy macroeconomics as well, and understand it. This is shocking, because normally, I'm quite bad at math, but somehow, it makes really good sense to me. I have a test on it tomorrow. We will see if I live up to my claim.

I had some interesting revelations too. In one, the very first girl I ever compared myself to showed up at EBC out of the blue. It completely shocked me, and my emotional memory went haywire, as I suddenly recalled fresh feelings of insecurity I thought I had long forgotten about. We started talking, but I felt so awkward: she's a VERY pretty girl, and the whole time I was thinking about this zit that had appeared on my face that morning (what else is new?) I ended up telling her my revelations about license plates: It's quite simple. You can tell if someone has bought a car within the last five years because about ten or more years ago Ontario switched from doing the 3-letter 3-number combination of license plates (i.e. LMR329, my mother's Mazda from when I was a kid) to a four-letter, three-number combination, starting alphabetically. (i.e. ATYE158 which was my mom's license plate before they randomly decided to switch it on the Honda to BDHL874) which brings me to my next point. Five years ago they ran out of A's, so they've moved onto B's, (i.e. BFZD582 which was the license plate for my Saturn) so newer cars have B starting on their license plate. Trucks and larger vans do a four-number two-letter combination (i.e. 3906JA was my dad's Toyota Tacoma's license plate) but I've been so confused, because some cars have a three number three-letter combination, and the font is slightly different on those license plates, and I have no idea what makes those vehicles different from others. It's boggling. Anyway. Feeling awkward because you're around the first girl you've ever felt insecure around so you start talking about freaking license plates... well. I know I'll laugh about it someday.

The other revelation came because Tim and I had or first ever quarrel. Tim's this friend that I play chess with on a regular basis, and I didn't realized we had never quarreled until we did. He said something unintentional and teasing that suddenly brought back an upsetting memory, so I left the room. He felt super badly, and this was the night I left my cellphone at Dan and Mark's place. So when I got it back, I found a pile of missed calls and text messages from him. We went to talk, and made what I now feel has become the... walk down death row. It's really just the walk to Tim Horton's where I go to solve conflicts. It made me realize that I either get into way too may conflicts, or that I get into the same amount of conflicts as everyone else; I just want to confront them and talk them out. He asked me on the way how we should solve it, and I said, "Well, some people like to talk about it right away. Some people like to hold off till we actually get to Tim Horton's, and on the way, we go through this awkward formality of catching up with each other all the while knowing this big looming thing is hanging over our heads. I'm cool either way."

But the whole thing made me realize (somehow) how much and how badly I need to seek encouragement in my life and encouraging people. I actually have writing folders; I start a new one every couple of years or so (so far I have three: one from age 13-15, one for 15-17, and one for 17-now. I start new ones when I feel it's right to) but they are all full to bursting with old letters, ones on paper with permanent creases and faded edges, no longer fresh and sharp, all encouraging letters from all kinds of people from all my adventures. I keep everything, and I look over it and read it often. Those folders are probably the most valuable things I have. Why on earth didn't I think of this sooner!? I guess those "love languages" things have merit to them. So I started talking to people close to me and asking them to do this when I felt it was right to ask. I haven't talked to everyone yet (partly why I'm posting this) but I realized this is huge to me, and would help me tremendously. So. Please. I love encouragement. :)

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm still learning

I want to have a good year. In fact, I want to have a GREAT year. I'm excited for it. On New Year's Eve, I thought a lot about my past year, and realized that 2009, in summary, was a terrible year. It may be one of the worst years I've ever had up to this point. I crashed a car, ran out of money, spent the majority of the year feeling stressed and tired, for the first time in my academic life I was not successful with high marks and outstanding performance, and it affected my self-esteem and energy levels. And I really wish I ere exaggerating when I say that's not the half of it.

So because last year was so bad, I want to do everything I can to have a BETTER year. A great year. A year for the books. So here are my resolutions:

1. Touch my toes. My body don't bend that way, yo. But apparently it should. Angela and I are in a competition to be the first to touch our toes. This transcends into an idea that I want to just be IN SHAPE. I think this will help me to have more energy in general, and really, there's no BAD things about being in shape. UW has free swimming for people such as me, and I scheduled it so that I only have classes on Tuesday and Thursday, so I'll have TIME to go to the university just to swim. I love swimming, and I feel the need to do more of it. If I can learn to do a good eggbeater while treading water, that'd be awesome. I should get good enough to do a run, while I'm at it. Yorge just challenged me to do a 5k run in April, or a 10k run in August. That would be terrific.

2. Take good pictures. There's this guy around EBC sometimes named Andrew Goodwin who is a good photographer. One time I saw him taking pictures, and I swear, I experienced what I now call "Camera lust." And I'm finding myself experiencing this every single time I encounter someone who has a nice camera, especially when they don't know how to use their camera, and I think to myself, "I know how to use that camera. I can take GOOD pictures with that camera. But I can't freaking afford it!" - I always get ideas of things I can take pictures of, and portraits I can do, and things I can take, but I lack the camera to take these awesome ideas. I'd like to say that it's not the camera that makes the photographer, therefore I should be able to use what I have to take terrific photos, and really, I have been able to take terrific photos. So I want to enter those terrific photos in photography contests, and see about actually GOING out and putting those ideas in my head onto a picture. Lust is a sin. So I want to turn camera lust into camera love. I'm glad it's not boy lust.

3. Learn Etude Sospiro by Franz Liszt, once and for all. I haven't shown anybody the song in it's entirety, because it is the most beautiful chunk of musical literature I have ever heard, and I kind of want to surprise the world when I can learn it and get it to performance level. (It's also the most insane, hardest chunk of piano literature I have ever played, but that's beside the point) This transcends into an issue of self-discipline, which may be one of the biggest things I struggle with. It has certainly affected my ability to play piano, as well as many other things in my life, and I very much want to get back into learning new songs and improving my musical ability, and in the process, improve my self-discipline. It's a great project, because what it demands musically is at the moment beyond my abilities, so when I do conquer it, I will be able to play many more things much better, and what it will take to learn a song of this difficulty will only demand nothing short than all that I can possibly give and do of myself, and I love challenges like that like I love life.

All of these are selfish resolutions, which isn't a bad thing. They're focused towards improving and challenging myself, and I do this for what I call the Jonathan Livingston Seagull reason: To do better for the sake of doing better. To fly for the sake of flying. I play not because I want to be the best, or think I am the best (I most definitely am NOT) but because I love playing for it's own sake, and nothing more.

This doesn't negate the selfishness in the reasons, and I do not feel I could, in good conscience, have only resolutions that focus on myself without seeking to improve those around me, and seek goodness not for the self's sake, but for the sake of those I love, and those I do not know around me.

This is hard to explain, I think. But 2009 was not COMPLETELY a terrible year. Terrible things happened, but hard and valuable lessons were taught from them. I'm still learning. I feel like I've gained a lot of wisdom from what I have learned, and I make this claim, because I don't want it. I'd rather be ignorant. You're happy when you're ignorant. I told that to my friend Yorge and he said that it's when you feel like that when you know you have wisdom. Wise people don't want wisdom. I feel like I've been burdened with a deep sense of responsibility, which gives me a kind of a holy discontent and a need to act or do something about many different things, and I feel like I know HOW to act and what to do in those situations. Or worse, don't know what to do, and feel terribly powerless as a result. I can no longer sit idly when I feel a responsibility and abilities endowed upon me to act. This scares me. I don't like wisdom. Wisdom is troubling in a deeper sense than any selfish issue has ever been to me. If I am called to use that wisdom, may I seek those opportunities and have the courage to respond to that in humility and obedience. Interestingly enough, obedience turned out to be the biggest thing I learned this year. Funny thing: it tends to be terrifying, but somehow, it works out. It just... does.

I really, really hope I don't just write about all these ideas. I've tried five times to write this blog (at least) but each time I get to this part I feel guilty, or as though I'll just write it and still live... passively. I hope I am continually challenged to live up to my words, by myself and those around me. (Please remind me. I need it!) Writer's have to own up to the words they toss out, as though those words are living creatures, offspring that you made, therefore you must choose to defend and endorse. Besides being the messenger and the reporter, the writer also has to live up to those dangerous words that scramble away from that pen. There's so much I want to do, or say, but I'm not sure how to say it. I suppose... I'm still learning.