Thursday, 31 March 2011

Things I learned in March

Well, it's the end of a very long month, and I'm exhausted. Drained. Could sleep for days. But before calling it a wrap for March, I feel the need to list 10 things I learned this month. So here we go.

1. I miss chocolate. I can't wait till the Easter bunny gets here.

2. A lot can happen in 31 days. The 1st of March looks very different from this angle. I need to remember this the next time I feel impatient.

3. I need to squeeze in some more Zzz's at night. Really. I can no longer spend every night with Conan.

4. Hashtags and Twitter are not the enemy. #TweetAsIfYourLifeDependsOnIt

5. After recently entering back into the PC world, I realize how much I love Macs. I wish PCs would have an 'all windows' function. #LifeWouldBeSoMuchEasier

6. Did I mention I miss chocolate?

7. I need to switch from coffee to herbal tea. It's my fuel but... #NoOneLikesTheShakes

8. Laughs come easily during reruns of How I Met Your Mother.

9. I'm over winter. #SeriouslyOverIt

10. I miss being able to wear my hair curly. Why won't it grow?!

Bonus thought: I miss life in analog.

Hey, remember Clip-art? It's been a while.

xo





Image courtesy of Google Images

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Signs worthy of a sigh!

Although it has gotten better in recent weeks, I sometimes find myself wistfully in thought, reminiscing about experiences during my year spent in Korea. I miss a lot of things about my time there... the convenience, the friend the independence... But more than anything, I miss the randomness.

Yes, randomness. This was mostly reflected in the many signs found all around Korea. I've talked to some of my friends about the funny signs I came across in menus, on the street, on doors, and even on the subway. But I was recently told that my words would be better supported by pictures. And I wholeheartedly agree.

You have to understand that a lot of these signs have been translated according to sound. That is, they were originally written in Korean, until someone came along and told them how to pronounce the words in English... which later resulted in English signs surfacing, with the words spelled according to sound.

Well, either that, or we can thank Google Translate for these gems. Or... maybe they actually mean what they say. You be the judge.

Most of these photos come from other blogs, and I've gathered them as I've seen fit. I've also included a couple that I took. It's obvious others shared my sentiments, but were smart enough to take photos as evidence.

Enjoy!

xo





Images courtesy of Google Images and StraightFromTheCurls

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Something gave


The big news:
Looks like I'll be an official addition to the wonderful world of web editors by this time next week. (I say 'official' because this gig doesn't involve the word 'freelance' or  even, well, 'free'.)

It took over six months of 'hanging in there' and doing what I could to keep myself in the game, to finally find a light at the end of the tunnel.

I'm really excited for this opportunity, and can't wait to see all of these skills I've acquired put to use. It seems fitting that I'd end up with a career involving the Internet somehow, doesn't it? But I kind of like it... I'm fascinated by the WWW and am constantly trying to keep up with the directions it's headed in.

So here's to a long and exhausting journey coming to an end. It's been great, but I'm looking forward to focusing on life in the present tense. I wonder what this new volume will have in store for me.

Stay tuned.

xo





Image courtesy of Google Images

Friday, 25 March 2011

Tech talk and updates

A gentle reminder for me. Hopefully most of you already realize this.

"She's wired in."

I've never wanted anyone to make that statement in reference to me, but that's what it's been like this week.

Let me start off by apologizing if you've stumbled through, clicked on, or swung by the blog, only to find a message telling you it doesn't exist. As you can see, it very much exists ... much to my original domain registrar's dismay.

After spending a chaotic 48 hours transferring my domain to another company, sorting things out with blogger, and believing that my web world was about to get back on track, Bert decided to get sick... again!

And this time it's not a hard-drive issue. This time, it's with a problem I paid over $100 bucks to have fixed at the Mac store earlier this year. It turns out... not-so-fixed. So Bert's going back to the shop in the next day or so, and hopefully he'll be all sorted out in the next couple of weeks.

At least it happened in Toronto and not Seoul this time around. It always helps when the Apple Geniuses speak the same language as you. 

Speaking of next week... some big changes are coming up! I'll fill you in over the weekend.

Until then, thanks for your patience with me over the past few days. This is more tech stress than I could have ever asked for, but I'm dealing.

In the meanwhile, check out what might quite possibly be the most adventurous cat in the whole world! I'd love to see how many stamps Kitty has acquired on her passport. Too awesome!

xo





Image courtesy of Google Images

Monday, 21 March 2011

Resilience

I spent some much needed quality time with a couple of my girlfriends this past Saturday. Is there anything better for the soul than easy laughter over brunch with forever friends?

We don't see each other a lot these days, so when we do get together, it's always well appreciated. The conversations focused around the usual topics -- what we'd been up to since we last got together, men, our families, men, women, our upcoming plans, men... and reminders.

F decided to get tattooed on Saturday. She had been mulling over the idea and placement of it for a long time, but after finally having made up her mind on the 'where' and 'what' she decided the 'when' had to be on Saturday. So after a day of shopping and gossiping, we found ourselves on Yonge Street, in the friendliest Tattoo parlour I'd ever been in.

F told me a while back that she wanted the word "Resilience" tattooed in script on her body.

"Why not 'Resilient'?" I asked. "Wouldn't that be better?"

"Well, I'm not resilient. It's something I have to remind myself to try and be everyday," she said.

And after having listened to some stories from F's life, I couldn't think of a more perfect word for her to meditate on.


Resilience.

Ten letters joined together to connote so many different visuals and ideas.

Life expects us to be resilient, but no living thing can fully say they are, can they? Resilience is something we have to strive for. Plants and animals have to strive for resilience against the elements. And if they survive, they become resilient -- but just through that particular storm. If another one comes along, they have to strive for resilience again... and again... and again.

It's the same way with humans too -- we have to strive for resilience through the elements and physical forces. But there's also resilience from emotional and mental pitfalls. Battles that were fought long ago can leave unseen scars which, for some people, need to be dealt with everyday. These scars can affect our everyday life, our choices, our paths. But striving for resilience helps us get through, whether it's one day at a time, or one hour at a time.

If we simply turn on the news these days, we're reminded of what a mess our world is in. The recession is destroying families and businesses, earthquakes and tsunamis are causing havoc, and man-made wars are hurting civilians in so many countries.

And in between all the headlines we read "...but the people of Japan are resilient. They will get through this." Or "Libya is one of the most resilient nations in the world." Or even "This recession has made people resilient..."

The thing is... they're not. They're striving for resilience. They're fighting battles they didn't ask to be in. They've been dealt these cards and now they're trying to cope. They're trying to be resilient.

Resilience isn't something that comes with the click of a button... it's something we have to hope for. It's something we have to strive for.

Resilience is fueled by the hope that we can get through. That someday, everything will be OK.

xo





Image courtesy of Google Images

Saturday, 19 March 2011

10 things I know to be true

I've been inspired to write this post after watching spoken word poet Sarah Kay's TED talk. The goal is to write 10 things I know to be true right now. So here we go!



1. Despite knowing chocolate will go straight to my hips, I refuse to end my relationship with it.

2. I'm fascinated by people who have a way with their words. And by people who use their words to promote good in this world.

3. A video of a laughing baby or cute kitten/puppy will always put a smile on my face -- no matter how badly my day may be going.

4. The sound of ocean waves gently kissing the shore is possibly one of the most calming sounds ever.

5. Hugs -- genuine, warm, big, loving, squeezed-till-you-melt hugs -- are amazing.

6. Mum's home-cooked meals are the perfect antidote to avert an emotional meltdown. Or at least delay the onslaught of one.

7. This world is fueled by hope ... despite what the naysayers may want us to believe.

8. I long for a day when I'll be absolutely content with my physical and emotional self.

9. My Mr. Darcy is out there. He's apparently just too stubborn to ask for directions. (Get on it, will you?)

10. The soundtrack to Love Actually is the background music to my life right now.

___________

Now it's your turn. What would you put on your list of 10 things you know to be true?

xo





Image courtesy of Google Images

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Colour my world

I love bright colours. I know this might come as a shock to most of you who know me, but it's true. Despite my habit of swaying towards a black canvas when it comes to my staple clothes, I love bursts of vibrant colour and try to include some aspect of it into my outfit at every chance. Some days it's through chunky accessories like bracelets and earrings, but on most days, it usually translates across through the scarf that's draped around my neck.

Even as I look at my outfit as I write this, I can't help but laugh -- dark blue jeans, black boots, a black sweater, black hair pulled back into a ponytail, and a white scarf with green and orange flowers on it.

Lately I've been spending a lot of time thinking about my own space. Literally, of course -- I'm talking about my very own humble abode. I'm imagining what I'd be like as the interior decorator for my own life, and wondering whether my personalty would translate through my d├ęcor and designs.

My shoebox in Seoul didn't leave much room for negotiations. I had one rectangular room that acted as a kitchen/bedroom/closet/office/living space. But I often laid in bed and imagined what I'd do if I had a bigger space. Would I stick to a neutral canvas and highlight it with colourful accessories (like my daily uniform)? Or would I be bold and actually add colourful splashes to the walls and living spaces?

Well, I'll let you be the judge of my thoughts. I was recently going through my computer and came across a folder titled 'Casa Inspiration'. Here are some of the images I found inside it. I guess the name speaks for itself, eh? These are some of the inspirational pieces I've held on to for my Someday Casa, stemming mostly from Indian and Moroccan designs.


I love these colourful cushion covers, inspired by the beautiful mirror and embroidery work that's native to Rajasthan -- India's desert oasis. I feel like these cushions can add bursts of colour to any space. And you can never have too many cushions!

And this lovely mustard yellow colour for an accent wall...


Sigh! Just type 'Indian decorations' into Google and check out the colourful melange that comes up.

I'm biased to warmer tones because I can trace my past all the way over to the ambiances of India's eastern coast. To this day, when I think of spatial comfort, I draw upon visions of sun-kissed rooms with vibrant splashes of colour in the drapes, the furniture and the linen. I long for open spaces where breezes aren't left out because they're cold, but are invited in because they're warm and familiar.

So when I conjure up images for my ideal comfort space, I can't help but smile when I see these.




I think if you left me alone in any of these spaces, I'd be quite content. It's simple luxury, isn't it? Throw some colour into a setting based in nature, and you've got such elegant beauty.

And with that, my tropical heart wins once again over my nostalgic brain... which, mind you, is still thawing out from this brutal Canadian winter.

What inspires your ideal space? Do you go for comfort, clutter or nostalgia? And do you prefer bright, bold colours to neutrals, or rather, the other way around?

xo





Images courtesy of Google Images

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Dr. Seuss on love

I love Dr. Seuss. The man certainly had a way with his words, didn't he? What's your favourite Dr. Seuss quote?


xo




Image courtesy of Google Images

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Curious about castles

I have castles on the brain tonight. I've stepped into my fair share of Gothic buildings over time, but I've yet to set foot in castle. I guess it's one of the items on my bucket list, and I'd like to explore a few in my lifetime. I know of people who obsess over them and actually travel just to visit different ones all over the world.

Perhaps I've read too many Jane Austen novels, but I love the romance associated with castles. The idea that generations pass through one space, roaming the same grounds, sleeping on the same beds, under the same roof... it's all quite fascinating.

I'd love to start out in Europe -- specifically Scotland, and work my way through the rest of the United Kingdom. My friend B says her town of Pontefract has a castle in it as well, which would be nice to visit someday.


A few years ago, a friend travelled to Germany to visit his family. When he came back to Toronto, he brought me a souvenir -- a postcard picture of Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany (pictured above). The name literally translates to 'New Swan Stone' and it's located on this beautiful hillside in southwest Bavaria. The view of the castle (and I'm assuming from the castle as well) is simply stunning. I can't imagine how breathtaking it must be in real life.

Check out these 15 amazing castles from around the world for some lovely travel inspiration!

xo

Friday, 4 March 2011

A toad by any other name

I've been meaning to share this story with you all for quite some time now, but my biggest fan and number one critic (Mama C) didn't know about it, and I was afraid to tell her. But thanks to my lovely sibling, she's been enlightened, and now I'm free to share it with all of you.

So, here we go!

The back story.

A few weeks after moving back to Toronto from Seoul, I decided I needed to get out of my slump and meet new people. You might have read about my feelings upon moving back (if not, check out A year in a dream), but suffice to say, I felt left behind while all my friends had moved on in their respective lives, careers, romances, etc. So I thought the most logical thing to do at that time was to try online dating. It seemed easy enough -- you log in, create a profile, upload a photo, and consider your options.

A few friends were lucky enough to meet their significant others online, so I thought this was a good sign. Mind you, the sites they joined ranged from the popular ones you could join for free (my first big mistake in this endeavour), to the more complicated ones that involved filling out a questionnaire about 10 pages long.

So one Wednesday afternoon, after waking up confused about the date and time again, (an awful reaction to jet-lag), I joined the online dating world. I won't plug the website here, but I'll say this -- for a site that says they have a lot of fish, it sure doesn't have a variety. I think this is one of those cases where quality over quantity DOES matter.

I dove straight in.

I filled out the basic profile information -- age, sex, location, physical attributes, what I was looking for, interests. They seemed like basic enough questions that would matter when searching for a suitable partner online. Then came the other questions that set off a red flag in my mind, but which I filled out anyway -- race, body type, religion, political views...

Those of you who know me will agree that I'm more of a mind over matter kind of person. Sure, I like a great smile and broad shoulders just a much as the next person, but given the choice, I'll take a witty conversation, a sense of humour and intellectual stimulation over dead air, fancy dinners and kisses any day. (Yep, you read that right).

The usual suspects.

Within minutes of uploading my profile, I was inundated with messages. OK, that sounds a little pompous, but bear with me. I realized very quickly that women on online dating sites bear the brunt when it comes to filthy, bizarre and borderline creepy messages. They ranged from one liners about my race, to questions about my personal habits. Mind you, this was without an introduction. An even more creepy aspect was the age range of the guys sending these messages -- anywhere between 19 to 65. Just about any guy with a pulse and a libido, eh?

Within a few days I learned to filter the messages. I set up a criteria for myself and ruled out any messages that were one liners composed in broken English, (I will not date someone who doesn't know the difference between your and you're, to and two. We learn the difference between these words in grade 3, and the invention of spell-check does not give you an excuse to slack off on that matter. Phew! Sorry. Obviously a touchy subject.), or contained any reference to my race or religion from the get go.

I've never considered race or religion to be factors in my dating pursuits, and I know that I'd expect the same from anyone I was with. I hoped that with the turn of the century and with globalization these wouldn't be factors for anyone. I would never want to be with someone who only wanted to date me because I was X race or X religion. That would be a recipe for disaster from the gamut.

Along came J*

A few weeks and many disappointments later, I found myself weaning off the idea of online dating. I started to realize I preferred meeting people in real life. I mean, not that this wasn't real life, but this idea of quantity over quality was killing me. And I was becoming more jaded with each new message received with the title, "Yo baby! Ssup?!" I decided to give myself a chance for a couple more weeks, before deleting my profile from this pool of fish all together.

One night I received the following message in my inbox.

Subject: Dear Pretty Lady
Message: I am a PhD graduate from ******, where I specialized in ****** research. I am also an Indian Catholic just like you, and you know how rare we are in Canada. I am kinda bored this evening. Would you like to chat? :)
- J

I didn't reply back to him because I was turned off by the idea that he found my profile by typing 'Indian' and 'Catholic' into his search box. If these were important factors to him, then I knew we wouldn't get along. I figured not responding to him would mean I wasn't interested. This had worked in the past with messages from other guys, and I also figured it was the universal way of telling people you weren't interested in them (at least in this strange world of online dating).

Five minutes later, I received the following message.

Message: How come all the Pretty Indian Catholic girls are in Toronto, and I am stuck here in Vancouver? It's not fair. :)

Again, he emphasized the whole Indian Catholic thing. Now I knew for sure we wouldn't gel. But at this point I was also quite irritated and felt inclined to respond back with something snarky and mean. Instead, all I could come up with was this:

Message: I'm sure there's tons in Vancouver. Maybe you're not looking in the right places.

I guess he took this as a good sign (and now, I see how he could have), because I found an instant message pop up from him (the site had instant messaging?!). We talked for maybe five minutes. He asked me a bunch of questions about myself, and I tried to remain as short and civil to him as possible. I excused myself and told him I had to go offline, and said goodbye. It ended with him asking me to send him my contact information.... which, of course, I didn't.

The following morning, I received this message.

Subject: Dear Pretty S
Message:
I enjoyed chatting with you this evening, and I am happy that you are a Goan. If you are interested, you can read about some of my best scientific research available from the ****** website. Anyway, I was planning to go to Hawaii in November, but it is hard to find a nice Indian Catholic girl to accompany me. So I was thinking if you would like to take a couple weeks off in November, perhaps you could visit me in Vancouver for a few days and then we could go from here. If you book your flight to and from Vancouver, I will pay for our trip to Hawaii. We would have a great time. When you are in Vancouver, I could teach you how to ski, and then when we get to Hawaii, I could teach you how to surf. :) I haven't really dated that much, but I am looking for a long term relationship with a lady that I could potentially marry someday. Please let me know if you are interested?
Best Regards,

- J (He also included his e-mail address and phone number in the message.)

This wasn't really happening, was it? ANOTHER emphasis on the whole Indian Catholic thing? Should I have told him that I barely made it to Sunday mass every week? Should I have indicated in my profile somewhere that being Indian doesn't define who I am and what I do on a daily basis? And to top that off... a free trip to Hawaii, ONLY IF I came on my own to visit him in Vancouver first? After a five minute chat?! This couldn't be real.

So I made a mental note to remove my race and religion from future online dating profiles (yet to happen). And even if he found me based on those factors, I would assume one look at what I wrote on my profile would drive him away, screaming, in the opposite direction -- we seemed like complete opposites as far as our priorities in life were concerned. So I ignored this message as well, figuring that not responding to a trip to Hawaii would drive home the point that I wasn't interested.

Then, a few days later, I received this message.

Subject: S, I like your eyes...
Message:
...because they are almost as narrow as mine. It was once said that evil spirits enter into wider eyes. So at least we don't have to worry about that. :)
- J


At this point, I was starting to get amused. I shared these messages with a friend of mine, who said, "You know, in all the time I've known you, I've never looked into your eyes and thought, 'Gee, S has really narrow eyes!'"

My own mum went into shock when she read this message recently. "For a scientist he sure does believe in old-wives tales a lot, huh?" she said.

As you can imagine, I still didn't respond back. But I also didn't think he was worthy of being blocked. After all, it wasn't too bad yet... right?

A few days later...

Subject: S, your eyes remind me...
Message:
...of the beauty of a tranquil Vancouver sunset gently glistening over the peaceful pacific blue.
- J :)

OK, this was nice. But if this hadn't been preceded by the string of bizarre and kind of creepy messages, I would have been flattered. I know by this point you're thinking, "Why haven't you responded to him yet?!" Or, "You're leading him on..." (How so?)

Here's the thing... I can't bring myself to tell someone, flat out, that I'm not interested in them. And I know a lot of you share my fear. I've had people do it to me in the past, and I know you, dear reader, have either had it happen to you, or have done it to someone else. I don't condone this, but I do think it's a better tactic than leading someone on with false hope. (Don't you think that's far worse?)

Wouldn't you figure that if someone hasn't responded to your handful of messages by now, that they weren't interested? Wouldn't you think that someone with a PhD would put the pieces together somehow?

No.

A few days later...

Subject: Dear Pretty S,
Message: I think you should get to know me. I don't drink alcohol or coffee because I don't take drugs and caffeine is a drug. If I get bored or depressed, I just run for miles and miles on the downtown Vancouver seawall. I am a (Ivy League)-educated scientist with a background in ******, ******, ******, and ******. To be honest, I am actually looking for a long term relationship with a lady I can marry someday. Although I am 35, I have better strength and stamina than most 25 year olds, and I have a healthy 102-year old Grandfather, so I am really only one third through my life.

If we are compatible, I am sure I can provide you with a wonderful and happy life in Vancouver, and it is only a five hour plane ride away from your family in Toronto which you can visit anytime. I believe that we could bring much happiness to each other's lives and to the lives of our families. Perhaps we could chat on skype video sometime?

Best Regards,
- J

Where do I begin...?!
1. I love how he assumed that if we got together I'd drop everything and move to Vancouver to live with him. Talk about an antiquated manner of thinking.
2. He's assuming he's a third though his life -- he could get hit by a bus tomorrow and be 100 per cent through his life (morbid, I know, but it's the truth).
3. If he thinks coffee is a drug, then that fact alone would set us miles apart. I love my cuppa java in the morning, and a nice cuppa tea in the evening. And sometimes, I like a glass of Merlot. And on hot days, I'll indulge in a margarita or two. I guess that makes me (and 99.9 per cent of the planet) a drug addict.

A few HOURS later, I received this.

Subject: S, I am not that good at mind reading.
Message:
Also, I never really understood the concept of taking a hint? :) Please let me know what you thought about my previous messages because I would like to get to know you better. Thanks S
.
- J

And finally, the last straw.

Message: Dear S, I once wanted to be a journalist, but I let it pass me by in favour of science. In journalism, we look for the crisis around us. In science, we cherish the universe that surrounds us. That is why I became a scientist.
- J

And with that, I blocked him, deleted my profile from the pool of fish, and vowed never to take online dating seriously again. It may work for a lot of people out there, but it clearly isn't for me right now.

I couldn't believe this guy. He insulted me for being in journalism... but the saving grace was AT LEAST I was a Goan.

Really? Is this what's left to deal with?

Dear readers, I would LOVE it more than anything if you shared some of your stories with me. Am I alone in my experiences? Do you have a funny or horrifying online dating story worth sharing?

Please join in the discussion on the blog's Facebook group or comment on this post. I can't possibly be alone in my experiences... can I?

xo




Image courtesy of Google Images
*Name has been changed for the sake of discretion.
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