Coffee is a tier of my food pyramid, the tier beneath grains. Coffee is what life should be, a complete sensual experience: from the first whiff, the sound of pouring, the light reflected in the dark pool, the warmth, till the last sip. Good coffee has body as complex as feelings, bitter-sweet-velvety. Good coffee revives memories of coffee shops and characters in them. I had a taste when I was six years old and couldn't let go ever since. Coffee is my first love.   //   If I had the habit of chewing paper, as opposed to chewing finger nails, books would also be a tier of my food pyramid. I appreciate all kinds but a certain lyricism blows me away. Whisper realismo magico. Souse in Love in the Time of Cholera. I sigh at pretty words the way some girls sigh at pretty boys. I sigh at pretty boys too, if they are purely fictional. Real people weigh too heavily by nature of existence. Books are my best friends.   //   Although I enjoy sipping Gin & Vodka while moving to Rhythm & Blues, I am most definitely not a party girl. A typical free night involves long walks and movies. Before Paul Thomas Anderson, before Magnolia, there was a time when I truly really believed that I am the only person who feels disconnected. I watched Forces of Nature and realized that everything happens for a reason, if only you allow yourself to perceive it. I watched Sliding Doors and hoped that the events of my life will echo, that somewhere it turned out perfect.

Mid September 2004
{chapter 10: required capital}

I attended the actsci club election on Thursday and helped out with the mathsoc first year class representative elections on Friday. I must say: there are a lot of crazy frosh this year! They are quick to get on the stage and make the most hilarious speeches. I envy their confidence.

When I was a frosh, I felt rather swept away with the crowd, uncertain about my 'smart girl' identity and hoping that my average will not drop 15 percent. By third year, I had reclaimed my identity i.e. regained confidence in my cramming skills and decided to become more involved with other aspects of university life.

In retrospect, my transition from high school to university was extremely smooth. There are definitely many people who are better than me in many ways, but Waterloo is not a place for faceless perfectionists. When you meet these people in person, their brilliance and quirkiness will take your breathe away.

Manga-wise, I am perusing "Invisible World" (Chinese Title: "When the present meets the future"). The storyline is episodic, so I can sqeeze in a chapter of this between chapters of life insurance products. The artstyle reminds me of "His & Her Story", clean with motion lines for movements of air. The school uniform also appears the same. Kanade's short hair is styled similarly to Yukino's. All the male characters have dark pasts but somehow our protagonist brings out the best of their personalities ... of course >.<

Early September 2004
{the prisoners' dilemma}

Let me begin yet another September by commenting on Fahrenheit 9/11. As someone who did not support bombing Afghanistan, let alone Iraq, I do not find Michael Moore’s suspicions particularly surprising. However, I left the theatre with a sense of uneasiness as if someone had been shouting at me for two hours. A loud voice may provoke but a controlled passion is more persuasive. What truly disturbed me was his emphasis on patriotism. All identities are manufactured and some serve important purposes, but until they become citizens of the world, not just citizens of America, they (and hence we) are trapped in the prisoners’ dilemma.

I finally uploaded more pictures: Christmas pictures featuring the church opposite Manulife, the tree outside the Toronto Towers Perrin office, as well as Denise and Stephen fighting; NYC memo 3 featuring a late summer walk in Central Park with Donna; hiking pictures from Upstate New York; and wax museum & FAO Schwarz pictures from Kate's visit.

My entertainment these days consists of reading a thousand page book on life insurance products and feeding my manga addiction. Manga is such a time wasting guilty pleasure but I picked up Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend), which is about a girl called Riiko. She visits a website selling male figures and receives a free trial for a robot from the nightly series *cough*. Surprisingly, or should I say predictably, after the robot is rebooted *wonder what the reboot button is*, he still remembers Riiko. So readers are left pondering over the humanity within artificial intelligence. Not long ago, I followed another series called Chobits featuring a robot girlfriend called Chii. Of course, the robot girl is stupid and weak due to software problems while the robot guy is strong and talented. Is this the future of AI?

Mid August 2004
{to delight in every sunset}

Friday night was wonderful. I went to the Princess with Luke and saw Before Sunset, one of those films where you find yourself on screen having the very conversation you had two weeks ago. The entire time, I was suspended in disbelief that a fictional character can capture so delicately and precisely my perception of myself. Yet it casts doubt over my individuality. I am another urbanite acquiescing in numbness. I am every modern woman embittered by romantic love. Perhaps …

For me, the most enlightened moment was when she perused their reasons for not exchanging contact information nine years ago. When we are young, we are invincible and we luxuriate in time, because whatever belongs to us will find its way back to us. More importantly, we take for granted those brief glimpses of the soul (or the firing of neurons, if you prefer).

However, this film does not exactly serve to bring our expectations down to earth. Is a conversation worthwhile if it is not of this intensity? Should I pursue a person if the attraction is not of the same scale? Oh, to appreciate the sparks of reality against the fireworks on the screen.

In other news, I got a haircut. Once upon a time, someone told me that short hair accentuates your features. Since I am not particularly engrossed with my features, I always preferred long hair. But finally, I decided to be adventurous.

Early August 2004
{anxiety is the dizziness of freedom}

Last week, nominations were open for the next set of mathsoc executives. Naturally, labels such as "power hungry" and "incompetent" were tossed around. Beyond "making a difference", I believe everyone who is seeking to lead desire influence on a more egoistical level. The difference lies in what sort of influence. A Kierkegaard quote comes to mind: "The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins." In my humble opinion, inspiring little changes is more difficult than commanding a revolution.

Recently, someone from Manulife contacted me regarding an opportunity to work in Japan. My mind started spinning: wouldn't that be something? The next stage of my life is so {beautifully} uncertain that a simple consideration of the possibilities sends frenetic pulses throughout my system.

During the past month or so, five distinct people have distinctly commented on the state of my singularity in five distinct situations. First, they seemed immensely confused. Then, they proceeded to feel sorry for me. I do not expect to be understood by everyone in everyway but please leave me alone in the open interval from zero to one, where every possibility is possible and every certainty uncertain, and excuse the bad math allusion.

Late July 2004
{may new sufferings torment your soul}

Last weekend, I had a long movie dinner coffee dessert date with Xiao Min ;) Even though I am washed over with cynicism regarding my own relationships, I love hearing others recount their past experiences. So wistfully romantic! I am using a notebook purchased many summers ago. I found this in my own improbable handwriting:

The room is gloriously backlit
Because you are so beautiful
And when I surround you
I exist only in relation to you
So for an empyrean instant
I too am part of the brightest sunlight
Until it disperses and tonight I sleep
    Enfolded by infinite blankness
    Cradled by imploded memories

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I believe that I am fated to be the depressed little girl. The reason that I cannot write poetry is because good things keep happening to me.

Mid July 2004 {Lucky}

Three really good things happened to me recently:

1. I passed course 6. Everyone says, of course you passed. But I cannot begin to describe my sense of relief.

2. I am receiving a Silver Pine Cone Award at residence. It is not exactly the achievement of a lifetime but I am quite happy as it is completely unexpected. I am one of those people that give a piece of themselves to whatever they do, yet sometimes I wonder if anyone will care two seconds from now. Anyway, I am told that people really enjoyed social activities this term. Hopefully the fond memories will stay with us.

3. I am a semi-finalist for As Prime Minister Awards. This means I have the opportunity to meet other students who are interested in big picture policies and defend my essay in front of a panel of judges.

However, I have not been in the best of moods. I really am not critical of how others look but sometimes, when I stare at myself in the mirror, I simply cannot understand why I look the way I do. It is such a crazy feeling. I stopped running during midterms, but I am running again. A sense of physical strength is reassuring.

I also find myself saying stupid things. For example, today I made a stupid comment about the general program. Of course, some people are in general because their marks are not high enough for honours, but being as book-smart as I am, I am totally aware of the uselessness of book-smartness. Last week, we were forming a committee for dealing with students who are accused of cheating. It was said that the committee members should not be 'perfect students' because then they cannot relate to the typical student. I disagree but if I keep talking the way I am, I shall be known as the poster child for that stereotype.

competitive advantage seemed to be like pornography: everyone knew it when they saw it, but no one could define it.

Early July 2004 {no limits}

Hank Paulson learned during a stint as a White House staff assistant in the 1970s that there should be no limits to aggressiveness.

Late June 2004 {Night & Day}

Somebody asked me whether I wrote the poem quoted in the previous entry. Actually, it is by Langston Hughes. A sample of my writing:

some nights i am
  a cracked voice
  a train of ugly thoughts
    (which nice people do not think)

some days i am
  the perfect accident
    (caused by the brightest sunlight)

So why am I writing bad poetry again? I have a midterm tomorrow and I do not wish to study >.<

Early June 2004 {Dream Deferred}

I am enjoying my term thus far. Being the clueless VP(f) that I am, everyone in mathsoc is giving me a hand. I am learning a great deal about the faculty which I have supposedly been part of for the past four years and truly beginning to appreciate how much work goes into the society.

Last week, I organized a pool event for WCRI. Somehow, only residents of North and South participated. As a result, I am holding a grudge against the other social managers who obviously did not promote the event *evil* Still, there were 30 something people and I had a blast eating noodles and extra chewy candy with Steve and Walter.

Recently, my parents' friend's son, who studies computer engineering at the university of Toronto, secured an internship that supposedly pays $35 an hour. I am not surprised that the father is announcing this to all his friends. What bothers me is that, afterwards, my mum started asking me what kind of money my computer science friends are making.

As it is, I feel bad for considering grad school. If I were to choose grad school, I would prefer that my parents support my decision. Also, this incident makes me wonder whether it would bother me if all my friends were to make more money than me in ten years. Maybe I should work first and prove that I can make $35 an hour. But what happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore--
And then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Late May 2004 {gerer son stress}

Photo update: tulip festival 1, tulip festival 2, lao fundraiser, st jocobs and grandpa visits waterloo. I still need to edit new york aquarium, edwards garden and romeo & juliet. I tend to edit pictures in no particular order except as memories occur to me.

Taking French this term and the first theme? Des techniques pour gerer son stress. (Don't expect me to type accents for non academic purposes.) The one thing that I really need to practice to achieve balance in life: sortir avec des amis dans les bars!

The social event last Wednesday turned out great. I got quite a few comments indicating that it was the best North social ever. Very satisfying feeling. Most of the social reps were supportive, especially Jen and Lucy.

I have so many fun things lined up this summer. Going to Niagara Falls with parents next weekend as well as biking on Toronto Island and a TSO concert with friends. The weekend after, touring London with Steven. After the exam season, it's almost overwhelming, not quite but almost.

Early May 2004 {remember last summer}

I keep finding pictures that I forgot to edit:
nyc memo 1 // nyc memo 2

Course 6 is over and I just don't care any more. The entire process has been such a drag on my life. The attainment of knowledge is supposed to be fun, sometimes painful and fun, but this is simply painful.

I am the social manager for my residence division this term. We are doing games, movie and pizza next Wednesday. Jen, my unit mate and social rep for my floor is super enthusiastic. This will be fun =)

Since this past week has been the first week of school, I have been fending off questions such as do you plan to go to grad school. As usual, I don't know. I hope the upcoming research term will tell me. All I can say is that I am intrigued. The brightest light is always the unexpected.

Late April 2004 { a la recherche du temps perdu }

A nice surprise arrived through email: "I am pleased to advise you that you have been recommended by the University of Waterloo for a 2004/05 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Student Research Award tenable for the Fall term 2004." I understand the fact that I am a girl in the faculty of mathematics asking for a research opportunity in actuarial science greatly increases the chance of receiving such an award. Still, I was not counting on it.

I told my parents at dinner and they were entirely supportive of my decision to take a paycut to try something that interests me. Both my maternal and paternal grandfathers taught at universities and my dad has a PhD, so if I were to following an academic path, it would seem rather expected. However, I always envisioned myself in a corporate environment.

I recently realized that I have become a very different person in the past two years. Two years ago, I considered the concept of a graduate degree in actuarial science ridiculous because actuarial science seems to be such a practical subject. Now, I am looking forward to spending four months on the sixth floor of the math computing building. I do not know where I will be a year from now but I am dwelling in the excitement of it all ...

mercer coops at marche // link to jenny's album

Early April 2004 { with purifying watercress }

ski trip pictures

I just met my soulmate - Yardley London Apothary "Cool As Can Be" Cooling Body Scrub With Purifying Watercress. It's making me so happy that I want to study for course 6.

On a more real note, I had a meeting with my coop advisor yesterday, the same woman who practically yelled at me for not returning to Sun Life two and a half years ago. Surprisingly, knowing that I only have one work term left, she suggested that I try banking. To take her advice, I would have to not return to Mercer. She said, "Banks don't look for skills, they look for talent." And I thought I was supposed to demonstrate talent by accumulating skills.

March 2004 { four cups of black coffee }

There is something intrinsically therapeutic about hand-coding html; six brief keystrokes and you have a non-breaking space. Fifty two days until course six and I am beginning to feel the stress. I actually rather enjoy reading about finance and investments. It's the fact that I have to memorize fifteen hundred pages and write a test that bothers me. Today, at the office, the inevitability, the waste and the lack of sleep really hit me and four cups of black coffee afforded no reprieve.

w/ Xiao Min @ Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet

February 2004 { leaving it to the fate machine }

Someone asked me why I write here. Let me attempt to explain. First of all, I am a closet exhibitionist. My emotional state is either locked-up or flooding. In real life, I lock things up, because I fear that such things interfere with my rationality. Here, I flood, because why not? Another reason that used to be important is no longer so relevant. There have been critical times that I just couldn't decide whether to tell someone something. If I don't tell, he may never understand. If I do tell, what if he still does not understand? Writing it here is like leaving it to the fate machine otherwise known as google.

January 2004 { the eloquence of letters }

I saw Cold Mountain and was blown away. The novel is supposed to be based on Homer's Odyssey but I could not prevent myself from drawing parallels with the English Patient. The nurse reading the letter at Inman's bedside. The inevitability of the final fall. Anthony Minghella, what can I say? The rational part of me is asking ... why are these people even in love yet the fact that everything is so irrational makes it all breathtaking, like the eloquence of letters sent yet never received. Somehow Inman's return was even more significant than the return of the king.

I think mostly the magic lies in the cinematography and the story itself. The landscape along Inman's journey. Those perfectly saturated colors provoke me to dive into the film. Like life, the film suffers many unnecessary losses but when you see the little girl with shiny red hair, you understand the reason, somehow.