A plague

Yesterday, I donated blood for the very first time. I felt excited as I filled out the proper forms, felt a little more anxious as I had my hemoglobin levels tested, and felt a tad jittery as I sat there and waited to be called for my blood drawn. Then finally, I felt a sense of righteousness as the blood started flowing from my veins and into the bag. There’s a shortage on blood lately and I felt, at the time, by doing this I was committing an act of goodness, a deed of the kind and noble-hearted. (I even got a little pin in a shape of a blood drop with the number “1” inscribed, to mark a milestone.) It is true, though. I did walk in the clinic with more than good intentions and I’m sure anybody willing to bleed out a pint of their blood for an unknown recipient (or perhaps known), also does it in good conscience.

Today, I sat on some steps at the corner of the Manulife Center, waiting for a friend to arrive for lunch. This was after I had just walked by a homeless man lying under some covers at the exact crosswalk I had just past at the corner, with his cap held out, asking for some change. I remember very distinctly that I had peeked at his visage as I approached the corner and walked by him, and noticed that his complexion was a lot more pink than it should be considered well. But having seen so many homeless men and women, pan-handlers, junkies and being instructed not to approach them because they are “dangerous”, “potentially a health risk”, “violent or aggressive”, “drunk”, “fakes and phonies”, or “useless and lazy”, it felt utterly natural to completely avoid his gaze (even through the peripherals) and just walk right past a human being, as if he hadn’t existed.

This was all fine. I mean, if one’s mind and heart both believe that something is the right thing to do, then it’s perfectly fine to have disregarded that man. I sat there and people watched for a while as I waited for my friend. It was during this time that I realized, “This is not fine.” I saw a mother and her child exiting the Gap, all smiles, having concluded a successful shopping trip, also walk past that man without so much as a stolen glance at him. The child I could have estimated to be around 3 or 4, the age at which a child is possibly the most curious. At that age, they are fascinated by almost everything and anything they can get their working senses on. This child, however, did not even recognize that a man was lying on the streets or inquire as to what that man is doing. At this point, the “more pink than normal complexion” resurfaced in my mind as I continued to watch the man stick out his arm, limply, asking for some change. Questions ran through my head like, “Is this man sick? Is he not feeling well? Is that why he can’t get up? Why is his face so red? I hope I don’t read about a dead homeless man at this corner in the paper tomorrow.” My final thought stopped me in my tracks and I felt so bewildered, at myself and later at the mother and the child who had also ignored the homeless man. Because of my fear of this man being dangerous, potentially a health risk, violent or simply just a fake, I had completely disregarded whether or not he needed help. 

It is the unfortunate truth out on the streets that many people are mentally and/or physically ill, many also not by choice, and have become homeless because of it. I agree, natural instinct to shy away and fear homeless people have kept a lot of people safe and I also don’t advise just randomly and unpreparedly approaching any stranger, homeless or not. But this culture we live in breeds a sense of exclusivity, almost as if leprosy had resurfaced from the Biblical times, and this sense of entitlement is passed down as if it was hypnotic trance, especially from the baby boomer generation to us and to our children. As I sat there and watched the child go by with no sense of curiosity, I thought to myself, when I have kids, what am I supposed to teach them about the homeless. And all this sense of righteousness and nobility from having given blood, volunteered with seniors, patients and the community, disappeared instantaneously.

I don’t believe encouraging pan-handling by giving the homeless spare change is the way to helping them get back on their feet, but I also don’t believe that not giving them your spare change is going to teach them a lesson and they’ll finally “go get a job and be useful to society”. Yet, that is what a lot of people think. After this incident, I went and googled on the homeless; why people are homeless, what others think of the homeless, what are the causes, what we can do…and I came by an interesting blog post titled “What do you think is the root cause of homelessness“. It describes a missionary that hands out sandwiches to homeless people and after each session, the volunteers discuss what they think are the root causes of homelessnes they saw that evening. A lot of the root causes are big issues such as: poor family conditions, poor education or physical disability. Currently, there are tons of foundational programs that aim to rid the education and family issue and there are lots of government fundings and charitable organizations that help those with a disability secure their finances, but I’m still troubled as to why with all the exposure and help that these causes are receiving, the general public is still dramatically unaware and uncaring of the homeless situation. I am definitely one guilty as charged.

With all my questions tonight, I still have found no answer to satisfy any of them. For now, the conclusion I have come to is that I will be volunteering some of my time at shelters or soup kitchens. My motivation and intention is not the nobility of the deed or how much these places really need volunteers, but that I really want to understand this issue a little more hands-on, especially from the people that are going through these motions. I will try and keep this updated here; may start a new page if it gets a little crowded with the rest of my late night ramblings. Please share your thoughts, if any.

piece.lemur


Hi

Hi.

Recently, I’ve experienced an event that truly made me feel like “I am no longer a child” and the whole “action, consequence and responsibility” concept. And it’s also very good to know people, friends, family, are there for you.

I think I’ve always tried to be, believed I was, convinced I was a fairly responsible person. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do in my future and I thought I knew what actions needed to be taken, what consequences I had to deal with and what things I needed to keep or give up in order to obtain my goal. I’ve ran several, hundreds, thousands, millions of scenarios through my head, planned (almost) each step and evaluated how I would approach each situation as it came up through my life. Better yet, I evaluated how I would not approach certain situations as I thought I would just avoid such situations because I believed I was smart enough, responsible enough, and (believe it or not, also arrogantly thought) wise enough that these situations would never occur to me; that I would never allow such situations to occur. And because of this somewhat foolish line of thinking, I didn’t have a contingency plan right away when it happened and I panicked.

I’m not usually one to panic, fret, or be overtly anxious over any situation, planned or unprovoked. I usually take things in stride really well, ask anybody who knows me well. I’m a little hot-headed and I may be overtly (let’s just say) “passionate” about certain things, but I pretty much kick into “how do I solve this” mode right away. I did not this time.

I was scared. I was anxious. I was awkward. I was embarrassed. I was so delirious to the point I almost convinced myself that it couldn’t have possibly happened and that I didn’t need to take any follow-up measures. Good thing, at that point, I had support from a very good friend (and my Star Trek: TOS poster with Spock there, “The only logical thing is to…”). There was one thing I had to do to rectify the incident and doing that one thing was so awkward and so nerve racking for me that my hands were jittery throughout the entire process. I have to admit, I almost gave up halfway because I was so nervous (and really I shouldn’t have been; another story for another day when I feel like I’m mature enough to discuss it openly). But I did it in the end because I knew that there was only a short window of opportunity to fulfill this and that if I did not, all the things I’ve planned to do, all my goals and dreams and aspirations would all have to be put on hold, never mind the consequences I would have to face with my family, my friends and myself.

On my way back from accomplishing the task, I looked around at this big city, and in that one instant, I finally truly felt what it was like to be fully responsible for your own actions. Never have I felt these words so strongly, “Consequences are unpitying.” -George Eliot.

You know, as much as this was a terrifying experience, I think it was a lesson in life that had to come sooner or later. I possibly would have preferred if it came in a different form, but I have a feeling in any other circumstance it would probably still deliver the same amount and quality of impact of emotions, if it really, truly were to teach us a lesson. I don’t think I’m any wiser or smarter than I was before this happened, but I think definitely a little more diligent, a little more tempered and a little more thankful that beautiful people (family, friends who love me) exist.

piece.lemur


In light of recent events.

Hello. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Third year kind of took me by the whirlwind and it’s just been an incredibly busy semester. Now that it’s exam season, having free time isn’t looking like it’s happening anytime soon either. However, in light of recent events, the Connecticut school murders, I thought I’d share this article (more so a journal) that I came across today.

There have been a lot of issues tossed around the media, assault weapon ownership, gun registration, etc., but I feel like this piece of writing really touched on something a lot more relevant, mental health.

I won’t say much more, because the author can definitely articulate this point a lot better than I can. Give it a read, really offers a perspective that we, the media and the public mass, often address far too late after incidents like these occur.

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2012/12/15/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother

piece.lemur


Absolute pleasure and privilege

It’s been so long since I’ve just sat there and listened to some music. Unfortunately, I feel, university has fostered an environment where I listen to music when I study and that really takes away from the entire experience.

Today, the fire alarm rang at 8AM. I wasn’t planning on getting up until 10:30AM, but hey, I’m already up, might as well do something. I didn’t feel like working just yet and so I went on Youtube and finished the “The Voice” I was watching from Friday.

When you have time to sit there, do nothing but enjoy the music, man it’s a rewarding experience. You feel alive; feel like you can still feel. It’s such an amazing break from normal routine, but unfortunately I just can’t take too much time out of each day to do something like this. I’ve realized, in doing so, it gives you a lot of time to think; not just about the music, words or what the performer’s expressing. Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of jumble gets sorted out in my head.

I tend to talk to myself a lot, in my head, aloud, writing like this. (I promise, I don’t have schizophrenia.) And yesterday, a friend and I had a really long late night talk that we should both talk more to others about what we think/feel as opposed to keeping it in our heads. I do agree, but I’m not sure how long that’s going to take me to actually carry out. I do a lot of thinking when I do keep things in and if you’re like my friend and I, haven’t figured out quite how to just say things, I should remind you (and myself) that just listening to music is one of the greatest ways to do so. Running is also a good one, but sometimes I get distracted too much in thinking that I just stop running.

Honestly, just put a song on. Close your eyes, listen, don’t think about the usual things, but go with where the music takes you. The moment you get shivers, or goosebumps or just smile for no reason, that is the moment you want to go for. Sometimes we forget that emotions should be genuine and in a busy world, it’s hard not to be routine and automated. We all know how to smile, laugh, but how many times out of all of it, can you really say you’re genuine. Some revelations from last night, just need to be reminded of (remind ourselves) that it’s okay if you don’t want to emote.

We all get laughing fits, the awkward “I’m suddenly smiling, but I have no reason why”, the sudden surge of tears, anger so great that you shake. As much as I think that there is a very healthy incentive to smile every day and be optimistic and look forward even if the day’s not going so well, I also think that it’s necessary that the guard is let down sometimes. I feel, in our society, that being a happy camper is, at many times, a huge burden on most people. There are just times, days, that you honestly don’t feel good. But because you have to go to work, see your friends, go to school, be on the streets out in public, you can’t always have a sour face when you want to.

So, take the time to. Take some me time. Or take some me time with a friend who would be there for you.

(Sorry, today’s post is pretty jumbled. I had a lot to say, and morning grogginess probably didn’t help in articulating.)

Anyway, I’d like to share this:

(I listen to other language songs, it just so happens a lot of times the ones I do share are in Chinese haha.)


This is the live performance with video and all, but also audience noise. I personally find watching the video, you get a greater impact. Especially the part right before he gets into the chorus, you can see all the judges sit up in their seats in anticipation of something great. It really was, great.

However, if you don’t like the audience noise, this is the clean version without video. Less of an impact, just because we’re visual people, but still amazing nonetheless. I still got the same shivers and chills.

piece.lemur

P.S. Redact: I am sorry. I didn’t give the approximate translation of the song. It’s titled “Onion” and basically it describes that the person singing is like an onion, always a side, never the main course.

If you could lay eyes on me, even momentarily, if you can hear heart break. I’m like the onions at the bottom of the plate, always a supporting role. Secretly I watch you, secretly I hide myself. If you’re willing to open my heart, layer by layer (like an onion), you will find, you will be surprised, you are my most suppressed, deepest secret. If you’re willing to open my heart, layer by layer, your nose will be sour, you will shed tears so long as you can hear and see my whole-hearted feelings.

Yes, I know. It doesn’t always sound great in literal translation.


It’s how you look at it

Just also wanted to share this. Besides the fact that she’s an amazing singer, she’s also incredibly optimistic and just so happy.

One of the judges asked her if she’s happy like this every day and she replies with, “Basically, yeah, even when I’m sleeping. I really believe, from the bottom of my heart, I’m the luckiest, happiest person on the planet. Everyday, I’ve got all this time to do the thing I love doing most, which is playing music and singing. And I’ve still got time to do this and do that and I don’t have to worry about food or clothing and I have all these great friends. Plus, today, I’ve let all four of you turn for me. I’m just too happy, too blissful.”

That is the somewhat literal transliteration of her explanation. And that really put things into perspective, can’t help but smile at her optimism and her sunny character.
Sometimes, we get bogged down by the little things in our everyday lives and we get stuck in this rump. If you just step back and look at the things you have, you’re really not that badly off.

Like she said, go do something you love doing. Be around friends, live life as if there were no worries (even if it’s just for one day) and things will seem a lot brighter. Even the big worries can be put into perspective when you’re reminded of this:

"You Are Here"

A little cliche, but does the job.

Have a good one!

piece.lemur

P.S. her bald style has a funny story as well. She says her hair used to be very long, down to her waist. And everyday, she’d spend so much time just trying to get her hair proper that there was no time left for her to sing, practice, play music. So, what better way to solve the problem than to completely shave it all off. She jokes that, the main point here is that her head is also incredibly round, looks good bald haha.


“The Internet is for porn”

If y’all know me, I’m a huge “Avenue Q” fan and that’s where the title hails from. Look it up, incredibly hilarious.

But apparently, that’s not what it’s for. At least not for this 15 year old kid. A new, innovative and (cost-) efficient way of testing for cancer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19291258

Yep, 15 year old, “chilling in biology class” (and I do quote), learning about antibodies and carbon nanotubes as biosensors. “Put 2 and 2 together” and googled research papers, information other protocols and came up with his own procedure. Emailed it to 200 professors at J. Hopkins, accepted by one.

Now, that’s what he does, everyday.

What an amazing story. It really goes to show how much the advances in technology are benefiting the next generation in making intellectual progress. But as I was reading this, and watching his interview, it got me thinking, is it really worth it?

Granted, discoveries and breakthroughs in any field are gradually going to be made by younger and younger people, given our advances in education and technology and how younger kids are having access to these advances. As well, this really looks like something he loves doing. In the long run, he’ll have missed an entire childhood milestone, being a teenager.

Thoughts?

Although I say this and question, if given that kind of intellect and opportunity, I’d probably go down the same path, no questions asked. I probably wouldn’t even consider this milestone I missed. But if it were my children (one day, hopefully, when I do have kids), I’d worry. I don’t think I would stop them from doing this if they chose it in the end, but I may very sternly and solemnly weigh the options with them.

But, good for him. Kudos.

piece.lemur


I really like this!

Yes, I’m watching another talent show haha. This is the Chinese version of the “The Voice” franchise. In case you’re not familiar with the format of the show, the judges all have their backs to the contestants and judge the voices solely by ear. If the judges find that the contestant has a good voice, they can turn around and recruit them to their team.

Anyway, I really wanted to share these two videos! They are two contestants from different weeks of the audition segment, but they both sang the same song. This is honestly the first time that I’ve not been able to say I prefer one cover over the other.

Just, they’re both so good and they both have touching stories. I don’t even know which one I should tell you to watch first. Maybe, flip a coin.

Skip to 0:45 if you just want to hear him sing.

Skip to 1:03 for the same reason.

Enjoy.

piece.lemur