dal niente

Month: July, 2009

Three Days

I feel a lot better now about things in general.

The thing about bad situatinos is that they are what they are– what really makes them worse is how much emotional involvement I decide to have in them beyond what’s useful.  I mean, I don’t want to become a feeling-less monster, but the fact is, it’d help sometimes.  And that’s what exactly what sleep deprivation does to me– it makes me focus, as if every act I do in my daze is one of survival that demands my utmost attention (because why, god, why else would I still be awake if it wasn’t for some life or death situation, right?) and that’s what drags out every moment of downtime into hours, days, or a week.

A couple of days ago I went to work. I was the surgical coordinator.  In the past, the surgical coordinator’s job was easily argued as the easiest of all the coordinator jobs– basically, he/she took care of the logout of surgical sheets, and keeping track of the surgical patients.  But that’s all changed since Andrew, one of my trainers at the MCH, left.  The position now involves running break replacements, which means that the surgical coordinator is basically replacing the primary as well as receptionist’s posts for chunks of 1 hour and 30 minutes (for the long break and short breaks).  The thing about replacements is that when you sub for someone, you need a situation report before you can relieve someone of their post.

The sitrep itself isn’t a problem, it’s an easy procedure, but manning a position for only one hour is problematic because you never know the ‘big picture’ of what the previous person was trying to accomplish before you went on break.  So, for one hour, or for half an hour, you’re basically trying to be useful but you’re also trying to stall or figure out how to accomplish the more complicated tasks of the position without messing up because you don’t know the ‘big picture’, since you just came on just then.

On the other hand, the surg coord position has gone from one of the most boring positions to one of the most action packed.  I am not kidding when I say that the other day when I was working SC, I didn’t stop running around the hospital.  Because you shift positions 4 times throughout the 8 hour shift, that’s really a nice way of keeping your day interesting because you’re always being dumped in the middle of a situation with your guns bnlazing.

Speaking of guns blazing,

remember that game I used to talk about, Gears of War 2?  Well, I’ve apparently managed to addict my three roomates to it.  We even have friends who come over to play.  They’ve never actually played anything except horde mode yet (not even campaign) but they’re having so much fun with it.

It’s really nice to see people excited about something I like– I don’t even necessarily need to play, I can just watch them do it.  The best part is that since I saw them staring out, you can really see how far the’ve come.  They used to panic on Wave 1, but nowadays, they can actuall make it to about Wave 16 without my help. 

(Of course, I’ve finished all 50 waves, but anyhow.)

Like watching someone as they progress in martial arts or music, watching someone become a better gamer is something that is simply beautiful.

FPS has it’s particular learning tree.  It varies from person but you can see all the markers.  First, they become more familiar with the controls.  The character moves around less awkwardly.  You can see that the virtual environment seems closer to a second nature when there’s a definate direction to their runs.  You can see as they focus their weapons that the crosshairs line up on targets with less sweeping swings and with shorter, precise taps of the stick: a long big one, followed by two or three small adjustments to compensate for overleading.  As they get better, the long track becomes shorter until someone just starts focusing almost directly on their target and then uses one or two calibration pans before sniping a head off.  They’ve got a long ways before they can do the latter, but they’re getting there.

And then there’s the main fun part of Gears of War 2, which is when players start realizing that when you’re outnumbered by an intelligent, almost omniscient AI, you need to use teamwork.

And it’s not that their teamwork is great.  It’s quite the opposite– it’s quite hilarious actually.  They have instances where by fluke they manage to save eachother with a well placed rocket or grenade, or sometimes someone in a panick will run into a fray without knowing, and just pull out a chainsaw by accident…

Anyway, it’s fun to see.

I should mention that I also borrowed a copy of the latest Prince of Persia and I must say, it’s been a long time because I’ve seen a game that felt this good.  The game itself is simply fantastic.  Camera angles, which were the weakness of it’s predecessors on Xbox, have all been fixed up and I must say that as far as controls go, this new PoP is probably the best game I’ve ever tried.  Controls are responsive, the gameplay is frighteningly intuitive after a while.  I kind of all this game “God of Rock Climbing” because the Prince is a rock climbing beast in this game, and that’s part of what makes this game so fantastic.  It’s so easy for you to run a kilometer on walls, swiging from bar to bar, scaleing sheer cliffs, all the while with a girl in tow hundreds of kilometers off the ground.

Hard to explain.  Try it, and you’ll like it, I’m sure.  This is a genre of gaming that I haven’t seen in a while, and the most impressive part is that in an age where games seem to want more attitude (swearing) and realism (violence), the latest PoP is actually a game I’d rate G.  It manages to keep you up with just execution and the magic of moving around.  There isn’t actually much fighting, to be honest– it’s mostly about running, and never stopping.

I went to a new martial arts gym last week for the first time, and this thursday I signed up for a ‘pay as you go’ plan which includes 10 lessons for 120$.  It’s not cheap, but it’s on par for the industry.  The place teaches kickboxing, boxing and grappling.  With the closure of Numac until further notice, it’s good to get back into something and to feel sore once in a while.

We’ve rearranged the living room and the apartment seems now a lot more livable, a lot more cozy.  It feels a lot less ‘temporary’ and a lot more like a home now.

Christmas lights that I ordered from eBay for the conversion of my backyard into a south american themed terrace arrived, and they’re quite good!  Kim’s also going back to her parents’ place this afternoon to obtain their Christmas lights.  Perhaps tomrorow we can begin construction… she seems as keen on the whole idea of I do.

I went to visit my parents yesterday during my first day off in 8 days of work. Despite having slept a fair amount the night before, I was still exhausted and had to take a nap when I got home.  My parents are in higher spirits nowadays, because the repairs to our duplex are finally underway and we’ve found a few solutions to the tenant problems at hand.

Before dinner I swung by my grandparents’ house too to check up on them, and helped them with some work around the house.

My grandfather asked me to help him do the yardwork– that being the grass mowing, mostly– so I went down to the garage and got started.

It’s the wierdest thing when your grandfather has a newer lawn mower than you do.  You expect everything that your grandparents to be back from the World War 2 era but frankly, his lawn mowever, made of a combination of plastics and lightweight metals, weighs less than half of the lawnmower I have back at my parents’ place or at my apartment.  It’s so easy to expect our elders to simply be old, when, in fact, they were once young weren’t they?

I had a ‘moment’ yesterday with my grandfather.

It was the first time I’d done yard work with him since I was in elementary school I think.

I mean, sure, I’ve cut his grass before, but I never did it with him helping me and giving me orders in the background.

Back then, the backyard of my grandparents’ place wasn’t just flowers and terrible grass– it was a full of chinese vegetables, row on row and in racks.  Mostly melons.  My grandfather would tell me to hold the melons as he cut them down, or he’d give me a knife of my own to cut down the vines at the end of the season and stack them in a corner.  I’d get splinters from the chinese melons sometimes and, back when his eyes were better, he’d dig them out with a needle he’d sterlized with his cigarette lighter, from back in that lifetime when he used to smoke.

This time was different– it was more him holding the extension chord so it wouldn’t get in my way.  He was telling me to zigzag this way or that.  It wasn’t necessary of course– who hasn’t been mowing lawns since they were teens?

But it’s the connection, I suppose. To the past, to the present.  Elders wouldn’t be elders if they didn’t try to give you advice, even if it wasn’t needed, right?

Mind you, a lot of the problems going on right now in life haven’t been resolved.  But at least I’ve got my morale back.  Let’s go forward.

Ctrl + Alt + Del

Time: 4:56 PM
Location: Check it on Lattitude! I’m back at my parents place for my day off.
Batteries: 80% (The highest they’ve been in over a week)
Morale: ^_^

At at my parents’ place.  It’s my first day off in over a week, and I feel great. What was the secret? Sleep.

I got 8 hours of sleep the the night before yester, and I got 7 hours of sleep yesterday.  I know there’s a lot of you out there who think that nothing less than 9hours will do, but well.

Poison Control

(The following are posts written earlier than this posting date, but saved on USB)

July 26, 2009


Location: ER

Time: 08:26

Batteries: 60% (I just started work, so uh-oh spaghetti-o!)


8.5 hours after leaving this place, I’m back at the desk.  SSDD, as they say (same shit, different day).  I’m pretty much at my limit and thankfully I’ve got the evening off to have a real sit down meal rather than pizzas or standing/walking leftovers warmed in a toaster (we have no microwave.)  We’ve got sushi planned, with drinks afterwards.


Everyday, I like to think I’m special. I like to think I’m unique.  In what ways, well, why not everything?  There was something they used to say back in English lit though, and that was that all the stories to be told have been already told.  At this point, they’re just reiterations from different voices, but essentially, the characters and the themes are the same even if the packaging changes.


If I look around, I’m in a similar meme as the first men I knew, those being my grandfather and my father.  And we’re similar in many ways that make me feel less special I suppose.  It’s not always a bad thing because if someone was virtuous, why would you want to be different for the sake of being different? It’d simply be nice if we were all the same, that’d be a good thing, right?


But when you share some of their vices, well.  I wish I was special in that, after living with men such as my grandfather and dad for so long, I wish I knew how to break the pattern.  You’d think I could, since I’ve seen it so often.




My grandfather and my dad are, in some ways, very similar people.   They’ve both got this sense of entitlement to them that comes from childhoods of poverty, scraping and scrounging.  I didn’t go through all that to any real extent when you really look at it… growing up from birth in a first world nation, more or less growing up in my native language and not needing to make any switches either linguistically or with all the cultural baggage that comes with it.  They’ve basically struggled a lot more to get where they are than I ever did.


It makes them feel that anything nowadays is owed to them by some sort of balance of karma.  Although karma doesn’t normally pay back within a single lifetime, it’s a distinctly Taoist or Confucian upbringing that tells them that now that they’ve paid their dues, things should just work out nowadays.


There are plenty of great things I could say about both of these men.  They’re very proud, independent, and resourceful.  If there are problems, they don’t ask for help.  They try to fix them.




July 27, 2009-07-28

Time: 12:34 AM

Batteries: 40%


Back at work.  SSDD.


I’m feeling a bit better this morning because I did manage to not lose more sleep.  I mean, I managed to stay on par and gain a bit, so that’s good.


But last night was bad.




I didn’t get to finish what I was saying yesterday so I’ll address that first.  About my grandfather and my dad, that is.


In our clan, my grandfather and my dad are known for their explosive tempers.  I don’t care to speculate about whether it is biology or superstition that this is something that passes on, but I’ve got it too.


There are subtleties—I don’t explode like they do and just start calling names or expliatives out when they get upset.  I guess the difference is that when they get angry, they just let everyone know really obviously.


As a child growing up in my house, I didn’t like any of this, and especially if I was the one being yelled at, I found that yelling back only made the situation worse.  So, I’m the kind of person who tends to be able to bottle things up.


You know what they say about bottling it up though; you need some sort of release.


I’m not sure when it started exactly, but it was around college that I made the swap from your average friendly guy to being a loner.  I don’t know if it’s a switch really, or if it was just that suddenly, I was put in a situation where I didn’t know anyone and having grown up in a rather strict house it was the first time I had so much freedom.


I would go to the arcades to play a few games of Marvel vs Capcom, some Street Fighter Alpha 3.   I also hung out a lot in the ‘multipurpose room’ of Dawson, which was a small stage hall with a grand piano in it.  The piano was locked, but I’d managed to make a key out of a bent piece of coat-hanger which allowed me to open it up. Either that, or in the time after MAC was first opened, I’d be up in the multipurpose room shadowboxing.


I did spend a lot of time also in 2c.14, but I wonder how many of those friends really got to know me? And it wasn’t their fault– simply, I don’t think I wanted anyone to know me, not really. I mean, we spent a lot of time together, and we did a lot of things together, but now that I think about it, how many of those people did I actually trust with my life back then?



I think that, because we’ve  all had those all nighters before, we often don’t really think about how potent sleep deprivation is, especially when it tips its toes into the fringes of clinical insomnia.


Yesterday was just a day in a series of days where very few things seemed to be working out right, and so many things seemed to be going wrong.


Last sunday was my dad’s birthday.  The thursday before that, a freakishly heavy rainstorm caused one of the duplexes that we own to flood.  That’s a problem because the water damage was moderate.  The tenant who lives downstairs though is a total asshole. For whatever reason, he doesn’t want to make us a copy of the key to the garage, and whenever we try to arrange a time when he can open the door for the plumbers, he gives us the runaround.

Long story short– he’s stressing out my dad because at some point, the tenant actually started verbally abusing my mom.  My mom doesn’t really care too much– I mean, she’s upset, but she deals with a lot worse at work so she doesn’t really care beyond any functional involvement in the situation.  Basically– she knows that being upset doesn’t solve anything, so she generally tries to take things calm.

My dad though is different.  He gives into it, as if it’s the Dark Side.  But he doesn’t get anything out of it, and it always ends in tragedy– my dad gets upset but the rage is so much that he can’t focus on problem solving anymore.  He gets too emotional and reactional about things.

So last sunday, we went out for dinner at my parents’ favorite restaurant, Beijing.  During the whole dinner, he was sulking and just not talking to either me or my mom.  My sister’s out of town, so it was just the three of us.  In my family, we have this saying that on our birthday it’s not good to be in a bad mood.  Like the New Year, the birthday is indicative of what’s going to be coming for the rest of the year.

I asked him if he was training for the Montreal marathon this year.  He said he wasn’t, and that was that.

I asked him if he and mom were doing more biking, since he and I had just bought mom a bike for her birthday last month.

“No.  With all this apartment shit going on, who can enjoy a bike ride anymore?”

I was a little suprised at his comment, even for my dad.

“Well, that’s all the more reason to ride, then.  I mean, you can’t stop living your life just because of the apartment thing.  There’s nothing we can do about that so just go on doing things you like doing, there’s no point on thinking about it all the time,” I said.

I felt… bad.  About saying that.

I always get these moments where I feel like I shouldn’t be saying anything along the lines of real advice to my parents.  I mean, certain domins, sure– I can suggest what kind of camera they want to buy, how to fix this or that, or how to setup the computer or something.

The reason why I felt bad is becauset his kind of advice has to do with living one’s life.  That’s always been my parents’ domain, my dad’s in particular.  He’s a great dad, really he is, but his pride makes it impossible for him to take advice from anyone.  Least of all does he enjoy taking his own medicine from his own son.  I’m only telling him what he taught me, really– to run and gun.  But he got caught up in the indignation more, and just said even less for the rest of the dinner with that unconscious frown he wears when he’s totally exhausted.  I had the rest of the dinner basically with my mom because he didn’t join in anything, and he didn’t even eat much.

And that’s what I felt bad about.

I’m the kind of person who kind of wants everyone to be happy– when those around me are unhappy, I try to solve it.  And if I can’t… well, I guess my own mood drops.


My cousin Michael is running into problems because he’s growing up into someone who’s simply useless.  He hasn’t been raised to be independant, and for a while got in with a stupid crowd at school that values looking cool above being able to do anything practical.  His education isn’t going very far.  He’s got some health problems due to a bad diet and a stubborness where he doesn’t want to go to a doctor no matter how much my mom or I advise him to do so.  And his family is in debt because his dad spends too much cash, and because he himself is developing into someone who spends beyond his means even though he’s not even 20 years old yet.

He’s in a downward spiral and for years I’ve been trying to see what I can do to get him out of that hole.  For a while, things seemed to be going well.  Before I left for Korea I helped him get into college.   I used to tutor him for math and a bit for his English and french.

This is one of those things that changed while I was in Korea.  When I got back, Michael, who seemed to be getting his shit together before I left, well, frankly when I got back he was a loser.  It really hurts me to say that because he’s family.

In many ways I see him going down a similar path that I did when I was in college– mostly, of being an all around fuckup.  But you know how retrospect is if you’re in a better place at the moment– hindsight is always 20 20.

But there is no guarantee that if you live irresponsibly that some day you’ll turn around and be happy.  I know a few friends who I was really close with in the past who have gone completely the wrong way and who have never survived that lifestyle– it continues to destroy their lives.

I don’t want that for anyone in my family.


My grandfather recentlly was seen by a pulmonologist and it was decided that his lungs actually got better.  The great news is that he no longer needs to use constant oxygen supplements (he used to have to walk around his own home with oxygen tubes strapped to his face at all times because his 02 saturation was too low to be safe).

That’s great.

On the other hand, my grandfather is kind of a smartass.  He’ll have a fear of God in him everytime he gets majorly sick– but whenever he recovers, his respect for his condition as well as those around them suddenly dissapears.  He no longer has to take orders from anyone anymore.

The situatino that arrised was that a lightswitch in his home was burned out for some reason.  He decided to repair the light switch by himself– only, he’s far from being an electrician.  He didn’t even turn off the main power.  He actually managed to short circuit the power and pop a fuse.

Basically he managed to almost electrocute himself because he was fucking around with live wires.

My dad didn’t take to this sitaution at all and as a result, my dad and my grandfather took a few days off from eachother because they had, as usual, lost sight of the actual subject (the light) and gotten too caught up in arguing with eachother (a pair of stubborn, never back down sorts of people).

I guess I mention this because it’s never that simple– when the family has problems, it’s never something that I can separate myself from. My health, as an individual, strongly reflects the health of the family.  Right now, it seems to be not so good.


The other day, [Y] called me up while I was at work.  She had read here on xanga how I was getting closer and closer to [Kingston].  She wasn’t thrilled about it all, so we chatted via IM a bit until some obscure hour in the morning… and got nowhere.  You know how it is with IM conversations– you can never quite read the subtleties of someone’s tone the way you would in person.  Regardless, it left me feeling quite worthless.


Basically, because of these events, I just started hating my life for an entire week or so.  At first I was still able to power through it.  But it started adding up.  Along with the sleep deprivation.


As I mentioned before, I think that, because we’ve  all had those all nighters before, we often don’t really think about how potent sleep deprivation is, especially when it tips its toes into the fringes of clinical insomnia.


When you’re tired, and I mean, really tired, like, you can count the number of hours of sleep you’ve had every day on a single hand for a week straight, shit starts to get pretty fucked up.  You don’t know why things are going wrong, because, basically, your mind is being poisoned.  Biologically, your brain is soaking up chemicals that are coming up in all the wrong proportions.  Your body is tired and sluggish.  Your reactions are slower in some ways, such as your reflexes, but on the other hand you get more irritable and more reactive to the little things that you could normally shrug off.

The culmination of my week of aggravation and powerlessness came a night ago when I arrangned to meet a bunch of people at work for dinner and drinks.  Dinner turned out to be different from expected– as usual, a bunch of my coworkers bailed at the last minute, and so the only one from my work group was, once again, [Kingston].  But a bunch of my non-work friends, who I hadn’t really counted on coming, all decided to show up.  That was rather cool– because in the end, we were spontaneously 9 people, including one of NitroNilla’s friends, Laura.

We all had a pretty good time of the sushi, which was all you can eat (courtesy of Tokyo Sushi, on the corner of St-Matthew and St-Catherine).

We did have plans to go to Hurleys afterwards though, and that’s where things started getting a bit messed up.  Originally, we had set up the dinner and drinks so that [Kingston] could get to know her coworkers better.  Though many had canceled on dinner, they would still meet us for drinks afterwards.  Of the group of 9 though, the only person who decided to come along was NitroNilla.  The rest of the group decided they were too tired to come and would part ways, which, considering that it was only 8 pm and the majority of them hadn’t even been working all day, I thought was pretty lame.

Regardless, I went with NitroNilla to Hurleys for some good old fashioned Irish music over drinks.  Paladin joined afterwards.

THe problems were twofold– first of all, there was no Irish band.  Instead we got some sort of jazz flute band.  Which isn’t normally bad, but I specifically wanted Irish music because that stuff cheers me up, and I was in a pretty bad mood.  Jazz flute? Well…

Secondly, one of my coworkers showed up an hour and a half late, and the other two were totally incompatible with my other friends.  I spent an hour and a half basically trying to bridge the gap between the two groups, but both groups weren’t very interested in eachother and weren’t making much effort either.  I was basically simultaneously third wheeling for two pairs that wanted nothing to do witheachother.  It was a pretty annoying time.

Throughout the endeavor I got messages from Terminator and Kingston telling me to join them at Kaffeine instead, since they’d decided after all that the group of them would stay out.


Anyway, one thing lead to another– I made a brief appearace at Kaffeine before calling it a night, and biking to the apt alone.  They (Terminator, Kim, Kingston, Terminator’s brother and Wraith) all took a cab to my apartment to watch some snuff film they’d rented for shits and giggles at Movieland.  At this point I was pretty exhausted, not just physically, but mentally, and just wanted to sleep.

There were several things that happened taht night which I just didn’t enjoy.  I’ll skip the details in favor of the conclusions– by the end of the night, I was so exhausted and angry at the situation that I wanted to clobber Wraith because he was playing the playa, I had had it up to here with Kingston, and I was fed up of Terminator and Kim just because they were laughing so much.

What was really going on?  I mean, a few games of Gears of War 2, some smoking, some drinking, the movie and then a few episodes of The Entourage.  I only played a round or two of Gears, and the rest of it I just opted out in favor of sleep– but I couldn’t sleep because they were too noisy.  I just stayed up, trying to play some unplugged electric guitar to calm myself down which worked to some extent– but my urge to just snap, especially at Wraith, was growing very quickly.

So I did what I do when I get pissed off– I walk away from the group.  My absence was not unnoticed, but frankly, it’s the only way I know how to deal with things.  When I’m part of a group and I’m upset for whatever reason, I need to separate myself.  I need my alone time to burn off excess energy.  I can’t be around people because if I do stay around them, I’m going to say things that I regret and they’re going to see sides of me that I don’t think anyone necessarily needs to see.


That’s the difference between my grandfather, my father, and I.

They just blow off their steam whenever they want.  I can’t. I bottle it and try to deal with it on my own.

I don’t think either one is intrinsically or totally better than the other– what I can say though is that my level of anger definately increases with proportion to sleep deprivation.

It was just an awful night.  Terminator and Kim were concerned afterwards and asked me if I was alright, and Zack even stayed around on the backyard porch with me a while while I played guitar to myself, but when asked if they could do anything for me, I told them:

“Nah, I’m cool. Thanks though.”

By 5 am when everyone else was asleep, I was still on the back porch, sipping a cup of tea.  I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about all the things of the week and feeling that I had somewhere gone wrong with everything.


Time: 23:00

Batteries: 30% (Redline!)

Morale: -_-‘’


It’s raining like mad outside tonight.  I just happened to upgrade my splashguards from a compact Louis Garneau  Tail Streamer to a more serious looking MTB set (it looks kinda strange on my road bike, but well).  But a set of splashguards really only works when you’re going through puddles—not when the sky is trying to murder you by dropping a tidal wave on you.


I was away from Canada for more than a year so, but I don’t remember the weather in Montreal being quite like this.  By ‘this’ I mean slingshotting within the span of a single day from unbelievably sunny to pouring rain, and then doing so for like 3 months straight.


Meanwhile, Texas is undergoing an extreme drought, so much so that police are patrolling the suburbs and fining anyone caught watering their lawn.


Yeah sure, global warming is a myth.



Truth is, I normally actually love riding home at night in pouring rain.  I find it therapeutic, like some sorta spiritual cleansing.  The distance between my workplace and my apartment is ideal, at about 15 minutes during daylight conditions, and between 20-25 mintues at night in suboptimal ones.


I’m not sure what I like about it.  It’s really sort of bittersweet because right now, I guess I’m not in all that great a mood.  It’s the sleep deprivation.  I went into this work marathon in probably a B- sleep condition, and now I’m really hugging the D- grade right now.  I’m going to be working essentially 10 shifts in the span of 8 days.  You may wonder if it’s illegally dangerous, or dangerously illegal.  I dunno.  All I know is that I wish I was paid overtime for that, but I’m not.


Last night I worked from 23:15 until 7:15, then I came back to start at 16:00.  I’m going to be here until 00:00.  I’ll be back here in the morning at 8:00 again.


I’m basically functioning as if my workday cycle had 20 hours and then I’m squeezing in an extra workday somewhere.


I’m eating like crazy nowadays and I’ve put on some weight despite the constant cycling.  I think it’s muscle mass, but a lot of it is pure carb weight too.


I suppose cycling explains part of it, but I think it’s also the bad sleep.



The thing about sleep deprivation is that in the first few days, it’s kinda fun.  I don’t stay up due to stress nowadays—I mostly stay up because I feel like I don’t have enough hours to do everything that I want to do in a single night.  At first, in that sense, it’s a good thing to squeeze an hour or two extra in before going to bed because it feels like you really got a lot out of that hour, while the benefits of sleep are often a lot more subtle.


But then it quickly (and inevitably) gets out of hand.  I always tell myself that I’ll have more discipline when the work days pile up, but what actually happens is the opposite—on workdays, because I have less time to do what I want, I end up taking out more and more of my sleep bank, and it exacerbates the whole situation.



I guess bottom line is that right now, I’ve got 40 more minutes of this shift and then I have to bike home in the pouring rain.  Normally that’d be cool but at the moment, frankly, I’m tired. I just want to sleep.


I feel like I’m getting cranky.  [Kingston] told me to have dinner with her tonight after she finished her shift—I happened to be at work and having my half hour break remaining at the same time—so we ran out to the Maison Bulgogi for a quick bite on her treat before she went home and I had the rest of my shift to do.  I just wasn’t very sociable. I don’t know exactly why. It’s one of those situations where I have no explanation except that I’m tired—which, perhaps, is all the explanation.


The whole world is different when you’re tired—you’re never yourself, or perhaps you’re too much yourself.  At least, I am.



I’ve been thinking about this whole thing with [Kingston] and it reveals something about me—maybe I’m desparate.  I’m reading into ‘intentions’ of hers that really aren’t there, I’m just seeing things in this light.   I am the Ted Mosby who screws things up by getting too deep too fast.


How long was it since the last person I had a crush on?  It’s been just over a month.


[Kingston] has only been around for two weeks, and I’ve been blazing through all this even though this is really, really doomed.  I guess that, as much as I really like her, I know it’s not going to work and I’m just seeing this through.   I don’t even intend to tell her—because what would that accomplish? It’d make things awkward, it’d highlight that maybe she’s been spending more time with me than her boyfriend would like… who knows.  This is all supposition.


But what does this say about me?


Doesn’t this make me insincere?


How many crushes have I had since January?  How many times have I spoken of them as if each of them was the end of the world for me?


But it can’t be true, can it: because the world didn’t end with one, or the next.  And I hate that it feels like I cheapen each one like that.  I don’t meant to because every one of them is special—but what does it take?  What does it take to really make anything work?


If there is a girl out there who turns out to be ‘the one,’ is it a good enough for me to be myself and risk it all, all over again?  Or will she want something original, something specifically for her that makes her different from all the others?


Well, they’re all different.  The girls I have crushes on, I mean.  I don’t mean to seem insincere, but sometimes, I just feel that if things were different, if the timing was different, maybe…


I guess tonight, I hate that I need somebody to love.  I hate it.  I’m tired.


I’m not perfect. I just wish I were sometimes so that I would never feel bad.



It’s been an abnormally long hiatus from posting online.


I had actually written up a post a couple of days ago to put on, but because I had forgotten my USB key back at my parents’ place from the last time I went there, I was using an old MP3 player as a temporary storage device instead.  That MP3 player doesn’t work very well and as a testimony to that, it just decided to eat my post without so much as a thank you.  The reason why I need a USB in the first place is that station where I often work overnight, at triage, doesn’t have internet access, so I need to save my writing for later uploading. This post comes courtesy of network shared drives– during my boredom last night, basically reading all openable files it occured to me that a lot of these drives must not be local.  My guess was pretty good– turns out that although the triage computers don’t have internet, the ones in the doctors’ station do, and they’re linked by network drives.  That means that I can save my data onto the drive in encrypted, cleverly named files (such as “Infectious Disease C8482 Study”) and nobody will be the wiser.


Well, so what’s new with you folks?



I was thinking about something recently, and that’s this whole thing of ‘staying in touch.’  The whole expression, it seems to me, has to do with just shooting the shit with people every now and then.  But how important is that really?  We can do that peripherally with a 4×4 inch IM window at the corner of the screen, which we tab into periodically from watching How I Met Your Mother streaming online.  You’ve heard it time and time again that the internet changed everyone—staying in touch at a certain point no longer meant that you needed to within a touching range with someone.


Social networking sites are kind of paradoxical in that way because activeness in cyberspace is often inversely proportional to activeness in meatspace.


Well, so what’s new with you folks?


I guess you can say, I’ve been keeping busy.



I introduced [Kingston] a few posts ago and the reason being is that lately, she’s become somewhat of a constant in my life.  And that’s problematic.


But let’s start at the beginning.  After that first night when she joined my group at Tokebi’s for Korean food and drinks, she texted me the next day saying that because of what we’d been eating the night before, she suddenly had this homesickness for instant noodles.  Being the gentleman that I am, I invited her over to my newly rearranged apartment for a dinner of instant noodles with dumplings and veggies.  These were eaten over a few bottles of soju and half a bottle of Metaxa—Metaxa being a god awful brandy derivative made by the Greek but used by the Portugeuse use for honoring the dead—and well, things got a bit tipsy.  The evening began at 7 and by the time we had worked our way up to 1am when my roomies came home, we’d talked about a fair number of useless things, from the mud in which dead men lie, to the laughter that defines the human condition.  You know:  Shooting the shit.  It was sorta like keeping in touch, except not over a phone or in front of  a screen, but in front of a live person.  Being in touch range.


Which is why I say that it’s problematic.  Because as the night progressed, so did my urge to get closer to her.  But that in itself isn’t why it’s problematic—there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to someone, of course.  Thankfully my roomies came home and after brief comical introductions, we decided to call it a night.


By the time we’d had enough for the night, it was late and the trains that she needed to take home had ago chained their gates shut.  She decided to stay the night.  She took a shower, borrowing my only towel, and used a clean pair of scrub pants and one of my Street Fighter shirts for pyjamas.  She was pretty exhausted and just fell into the satellite chair in my room, already half asleep and insisting that she sleep there and that I take the bed.


Gentleman that I am, I picked her up and threw her on the bed, and drew out the spare mattress for myself.  I think I was more drunk that she was, and in that sense, it’s significant that was still able to function the way I did.


Although I lay on the mattress next to hers and we were both pretty exhausted trying to process all that alcohol, somehow I ended up in the bed with her and we spent who knows how long, of all things, checking out the names on her phone.  We made fun of the names one by one in the dark.


And that was it.  Eventually she fell asleep.  I rolled myself off the bed, and slept pillowless and blanketless on the spare mattress.


You see, she’s got a boyfriend back in Vancouver.


And I keep telling myself, you are not a homewrecker.

You are not a homewrecker.



The next two weeks, leading up to yesterday still, we’d meet eachother almost everyday to do something.  Half the time it was her idea.  We went out to bars, restaurants, shows.  I’m sleep deprived, but I feel great.

Sometimes we did groceries and instead decided upon cooking dinner at my place.  Yesterday after I finished my overnight shift, she came over in the morning and made me berakfast: butter and peanut butter on toast.  I’d never heard of the combo before but it’s not half bad.  After breakfast, despite my exhaustion, we watched a movie before going out for coffee.

At the Just for Laughs Festival, we went to see Ethnic Heroes of Comedy, as we were spilling champagne because we love racist jokes that much, it was then I realized without a doubt that I was fucked—I was falling for this girl.  That she worked in a healthcare setting and understood parts of my life related to it wasn’t enough on it’s own.  Nor was it that I like her style, her bluntness, her purposeful alternation between miss-know-it-all and the atypyical dumb-blonde.  Nor was it that this or that– in the end, it was because when she laughs, it makes me think: this is someone I don’t want to lose touch with.


I almost told her right then and there.  But you know me– as much as I can find rationalizations to do anything, so too can I find rationalizations to do nothing.

And as much as I’d like to flatter myself, the homewrecker principle isn’t the only thing holding me back.  I’m just scared, to be honest.  She’s going back to Vancouver at the end of August (how do I always find girls with mileage problems?) and, of course, there’s one detail:

she keeps in touch with her boyfriend.  And he sounds like a good guy, from what I can force out of her.


I don’t think I can deal with being the replacement boyfriend in the meantime.  Yet I persist, because my heart’s in charge of operations.

And when has my heart ever let me down?


When I first went to Taiwan, one of the things I noticed immediately was how many scooters there were out there.  Like, they outnumbered the cars 10239482458 to 1.

I got a scooter of my own while I was in Korea.  It was so much fun that even though I bought it in winter and the windchill left me shaking so hard it hurt my teeth, I persisted in using it in defiance of all sanity.

When I got back to Canada, I just started noticing scooters everywhere.  Were they there all along and I just hadn’t noticed them before?

It’s been a long time since I seriously thought about a relationship.  I mean, dating is one thing– having fun and all that, you know? I find myself in the state of a Season 1 Ted Mosby: I’m looking for the one.

And everywhere I look, I’m just seeing girls who could be that person.


The first time I met [Kingston]?  I don’t even remember.  She does, though.  She was being given the tour of the emergency department by the resident who she was to be doing research work for.  Apparently, and this is the way she tells it, this is what happened.

[Jinryu]:  Can I help you guys out?  You look like you need a coordinator.
Resident: Oh, no, it’s okay.  We’re not actually working down here.  God forbid!
[Kingston]: Thanks though.
[Jinryu]: Oh yeah, definately.  You don’t want to work down here.
[Kingston]: Why’s that?
[Jinryu]: Oh, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.  That is, unless you decide to work down here. Then. You know.  You could do some killing too.
Resident: Hahaha!  You kill me!
[Jinryu]: What? Should I?  Did I tell you already?!
[Kingston]: (nervous laughter)

(… and they walk off…)

Mind you, I don’t remember any of this.

Days later, while I was working for surgery, I ran into her several times at triage.  One of the nurses mulled over a fashion magazine, asking me “[Jinryu], I need some new magazines and a martini.”

“We’re all out of magazines [T].  You know how hard it is to sneak those into the hospital.”
“Oh well dammit all, [Jinryu]! If I can’t get both I don’t want either.”

The other nurse was reading a book in one of the examination rooms.  The admissions department, which was connected to triage by a little window, was similarly silent.  It was a really quiet evening.

[Kingston], who was from Vancouver but who is studying at Queens in Kingston (hence the choice of pseudonums for the sake of online anonymity) stood out because normally, the only people at triage are nurses or coordinators like myself, and coordinators don’t have a sense of impatience in their pacing like she does.  When it comes to sick children, no news is good news. She, on the other hand, had that eye which said she was looking for patients, which is something that neither nurses nor coordinators  want to do unless forced.  Inactivity at a hospital is a paragon privilege. 

“Heya.  I don’t think we’ve met,” I said, answering her bored smile.  “My name’s [Jinryu].”
“[Kingston].  Hi!” she shook my hand after putting her pen in her pocket, which was another sign that she wasn’t one of us: no way we’d have the budget for that.
“Are you doing a study on something?”
“Oh, yeah.  It’s pretty dead out here though.  I haven’t had any candidates all day.”
“What’re you looking for?”
“Well, I’m supposed to test blood sugar drops in patients with gastro.  And they have to be under 5 years old.”
“Ah,” I nod. “Well, that would explain it.”
“What would?”
“Why you can’t find candidates for your study.  When did you start?”
“I’ve been here for like three hours.  Oh, you mean the study?  It’s actually not mine, but the resident I’ve been working under, [Resident] has been trying to get it done since he was in med school, so… I just started on it last week.”
“Oh, well, there’s your problem.  Gastro is so February.  The in thing right now is H1N1.”
“Oh really!” she laughs.
“Yeah.  I mean, we thought that it ended two months ago, but you know, it kinda made a comeback.  It’s kinda retro and cool now, y’know.  I mean, even I’ve had swine flu. I’d say you’ll be out of a job soon, unless you start going out on the streets and giving gastro to kids under five.  You know, to ensure job security.”

Later that night, she came practically running down the hallway looking for a patient.

“Where is [Child X]??”
“Uh…” I scratched my chin. “I called them in a while ago.  In 25?”
“They’re not there! I checked!”
“Hmm… I think they’ll be back.  I think I overheard they had to go for an x-ray.”

She bolted off.

A half hour later, I ran into her again in triage and she came down the hallway looking ecstatic.
“I got one!” she cried.  I gave her a high five.  It would turn out to be one out of two candidates she’d get all night.

The tough part of a research monkey’s job is that, as a mater of developing an accurate study, the study generally tries to isolate as many variables as possible.  Studies generally target very specific demographics, and that means, your work is to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.  On one hand, on a busy day, a research monkey will sift through tons of initial diagnostics at triage looking for a candidate for the study, which is a ton of work; in contrast, on a quiet day the likelihood of someone coming in meeting those criteria is drastically reduced, and they wonder why they even bother.  And of course, patients’ families aren’t obliged to agree to the study either, so even if you do find a candidate, they don’t necessarily want to cooperate.

When you really think about it, [Kingston]’s job is to find children who are shitting and vomitting, and then ask their parents if it’s okay to stick them with a needle.  You can imagine how thrilled most people are at the concept.

Thus, the busy days are long, and the quiet days are even longer.

On quiet days, we have plenty of time to chat.  One day it just so happened that I finally managed to set a date to have dinner and drinks with some coworkers– three of my fellow coordinators– which is a miracle.  The thing about hospital work is that hospitals never close.  There are about 3 main shifts of staff per day spread out to cover the place: days; evenings; and overnights.  For us clerks though, because there are a number of odd little tasks that come at specific times of the day, we operate on about six different shifts.  No two clerks on any given day ever start and finish at the same time.  Our shifts overlap, sometimes more than others, but that’s the extent of it.

Thus, making friends with coordinators and trying to, ahem, coordinate, in the sense of extra-cirricular activities, is near impossible.  Either you don’t finish at the same time, you’re not off on the same days, or, worse still, you’re sleeping.  It’s just very difficult to meet up with people from our department because schedules conflict terribly.

It just so happened that by some alignment of the moons, 4 of my coworkers agreed to come to the same evening.  That’s an abnormally high count of availabilty, as far as I’m concerned.  It was pretty awesome.

But you know, if you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is– and as it were, 3 out of 4 of those coworker cancelled within hours of the get together.  Thankfully, the event also included a handful of my non-work friends.

[Kingston] was the only one who made it, making her the first of my co-workers to ever hang out with me outside of a workplace context, despite that I’ve been working at the Montreal Childrens’ for the last 7 months.


Professor Soukwan Chan taught me only one class while I was back in Concordia, but without knowing it, he would be one of the most influential teachers I’d ever have.  It was an Urban Studies class, and though I didn’t even get a great grade in that class, he encouraged me to take what I learned and to develop my own ideas from them.  He was one of the few teachers that I’d met at the university who genuinely encouraged thinking out of the box.  I suppose if your major is English literature with a minor in philosophy, most professors by default want you to think backwads in time father than forward, but Soukwan’s field was not only in a very progressive subject but he was also a revolutionary in his own way.

It was with his help that I wrote a paper that caught the attention of NRCAN, a government environmental agency based out of Ottawa, and I got a cash prize along with two-way tickets and board to the Chateau Laurier where I’d give a presentation on alternative transportation models.  The cash prize of that was in turn used as the startup capital for RsM.

I think that ever since elementary school, with the discovery of things like all those catchy environmental fads like “reduce, reuse and recycle” or the dangers of CFCs, we all have always had a bit of a green-minded line to put on the resumes to appease that mandatory socially fashionable green-friendliness.  I’m not a militant environmentalist– I don’t go around chaining myself to trees or driving my boat in front harpoon canons– but I do think that the modern urban model, both from a geographic and socioeconomic perspective, can use  a lot of work from the bottom up.

I say that there are definately environmental fads.  Sure, we recycle– but we also live in an age where people subscribe to the absolutely ridiculous practice of buying bottled water.  Sure, we no longer use air conditioners that give of CFCs, but the gratuitous use of air conditioning in buildings and vehicles has incresed environmental impact because of increased power needs.  Basically, when it comes to saying we’re green, we’re hipocrites.

But, really that’s okay.

No really, I’m not being sarcastic.  It’s okay that we’re being hipocrites because these sorts of things are only measured in terms of an arbitrary standard of what’s considered right and wrong.  Yes, everything has consequences– and a dying planet might seem like a pretty bad one– but you know, from some peoples’ perspectives, maybe it’s a good thing?

Take smoking, for example.  Back when cigarettes first came out, people did notice “you know, I’ve been having breathing problems lately” but they chose to ignore them.  Nowadays, because the problem has gone past a critical point, we’ve now got the concrete evidence that links certain behaviors to certain consequences.  The way we treat the environment is the same– no amount of half ass consequences will do it, as many people in Washington an Ottawa will tell you, “global warming is a myth”– so maybe all this green living is really all just badly timed.

Think of it this way– for every extra unit of energy you spend out of your life saving the enviroment, that’s one more unit of energy that someone else doesn’t have to save– it’s one more unit of effort that they can use to claim that ‘there isn’t really a problem.’  Basically, you’re being a sucker.

On the other hand if you could only just accelerate the process of bringing the real consequences instead of preventing them, then we’ll learn faster.  Take a look at how much we learned from the events of Hiroshima.

Regardless, in the grand picture of things, I’m still someone who has my own beleifs about the way things should be done. I just don’t necessarily press these beliefs on others.  A few of the concerns I’ve always had were related to the issues of urban sprawl, especially when it comes to transportation related issues.  I won’t go into details about just what sprawl it is, I’m sure you can read up a wiki.  What I would like to explain is that I’m readjusting my life in ways that align with my beliefs, which I couldn’t while I still living with my parents.

Here are some of the changes, that arise simply because I’m on a bike:

  • I don’t have a driver’s license.  But, I have gone from a lifestyle of getting rides and taking public transportation to using a bicycle or my running shoes to get everything done.  There are local businesses literally minutes away, and even Chinatown where I might need speciality goods, which is about 25 minutes away on bike at the opposite end of downtown Montreal, is still accessible.  It doesn’t sound like much I suppose, but going from a lifestyle of cars and public transport is really  different when suddenly you’re operating on just two wheels.
  • Being on a bike means I’m no longer buying in bulk like I used to when I lived with my family, for two reasons: firstly, I can’t carry it all; secondly, I can’t eat it in time.  Is that a bad thing?  Not really– it means I’m getting out of the house more often and buying fresher ingredients rather than stocking up preserved or frozen things all the time.
  • I don’t need a gym membership because frankly, biking everywhere or carrying my groceries with my own two hands is plenty of exercise.  It also happens to be free.  Unless you’re seriously training with very specific results in mind, there are very few results that you can get in a gym that you couldn’t get some oldschool kungfu “carry 50 gallons of water around the mountains” way.  It’s always struck me as a bit bizzare that we make this social distinction between “working out” and “developing pratical strength.”  Or, you know– being able to run 20 minutes on a treadmill, but tripping and falling when you have to sprint after a bus.
  • I don’t waste as much time commuting as I used to.  Before I moved out, on a workday I’d spend typically between an hour and a half and two hours commuting.  If it was a ‘going out’ day, I’d spend easily over two hours if I hadn’t coordinated myself with buses. Nowadays, a workday commute takes me 30 minutes total, and a ‘going out day’ adds about ten minutes to that, assuming that I’m heading out to opposite end of Montreal.
  • Honestly, not being in vehicle really opens up your connection to a city.  I’m not just talking about potholes in the road.  I’m talking about your sensation of everything around you, from the sounds of the city to the chill of rain.  Being in a vehicle with the music on has this gloss-over effect that I think contributes to an increasing sense of dispondency.
  • A bicycle isn’t like a car for several obvious reasons.  An understanding of mechanics is one of them.  While it is possible to really appreciate the inner workings of a car, which is something my dad brought me up with, our relation to a bicycle is a lot more intimate if we want it to be because we can really make our bike work the way we want it to.  You can tighten this, loosen that, and the feeling of how it handles will change dramatically.  It doesn’t always cost money to customize a bike either.
  • Riding a bicycle also gives you a much greater sense of road responsibility.  It’s really easy to drive an SUV in the sense that any mistakes you make will have little except financial consequences.  Drive a Hummer and you’re pretty much on top of a food chain where you are basically invincible on the road.  But that kind of power, what kind of responsibility does it come with?  What did we do to earn that kind of firepower?  Nothing, really.  I’m not talking about how much you’re willing to pay for the vehicle… I mean, what says that you’re responsible enough to drive something that dangerous?  Nothing, except that everyone else knows you’ve got a 5 star safety rating, so in the grand spirit of Cold War everybody gets the same 5 star cars.  Riding a bike is different– you can die.  I will be the first to admit that many cyclists out there don’t know a thing about it, but for me, one of the paramount principles of the road is respect.  I don’t even mean road courtesy. I mean respect, the same way you would respect a gun, or a kitchen knife, or a power tool.  Respect, because it’s dangerous, and by seeing the kinds of effects the tools and their users have on the lives of others, one can hopefully learn to develop a sense of connection to the environment and life around us.
  • Which brings me to my last point.  Riding is dangerous.  I don’t do things simply because they are dangerous, but I think that engaging in activities with risks teaches me a great deal about how to ‘keep it real.’

I guess overall, the lessons I get out of all of this is that living truly has something to do with taking the safeties and autopilot off.

When you hear that jingle, you know it’s time to turn to the next page.

When I was in early  high school, I started writing a book.  It was the first one I ever started writing (and also the first one I never finished).  It was called the Chronicles of a Future Past.  The title was based loosely off of an X-Men series back when time-travel was all the rage in comics.  The book was written in different forms– sometimes it was prose, sometimes it was written as a screenplay.  In college, I revised it into an abridged version that was going to be put into production by the Dawson Animation Club, but the project never got it’s feet after months of planning.

I always wanted to be a writer when I was young.  I, in all honesty, never thought that I would work in a hospital, or in a library, or in a foreign country. There were four things I wanted to be when I was young– a musician, a writer, a martial artist and a Jedi.

I’m not quite a Jedi yet.

I’m not a professional musician, but I can say that I definately am better at music than I was those many years ago.  It’s not that I’m actualyl good at any instruments, but I think that it’s more accurate to say that I love music and sound.  Sound has always been the best sense for me.  People complain I mumble, it’s because I don’t like to raise my voice because it blocks out everything else.  I like to hear things.  And I’ve gotten better at it.

The dream of being a martial artist started when I was young, growing up in a racist neighborhood and being a typical weakling, and I found, in an old shoebox, a picture of my dad wearing some sort of gi, performing a traditional chinese salute like the way they did in movies.  I had no idea he’d done any martial arts before. I found out later that one of my uncles also did, and was even adept enough to teach wing chun in Toronto before he got married and settled with the more stable job of electronics repair.

And then there was Ranma 1/2.  It was one of the first animes I’d ever seen and I fell in love with the lifestyle.  Martial Artists could handle anything– they had adventures on a daily basis, they had a circle of friends who might as well be enemies yet who still were always there for you, they had family, they had a code of honor.  They had everything. Except money.  But who needed money? Ranma could take on all comers in the dojo, at school, or in the streets.

This many years down the line I haven’t won more than a few medals and ribbons yet I consider myself better at making a fist than I used to be, maybe I can throw a kick or two. And it’s not so much despite failures but because of failures that I am as strong as I am today.  Genma used to say: “The Life of a Martial Artist is Long and Treacherous.”  And it has been.  And long as it has been, it’s given me the time to experience and understand myself in so many ways, enough that I can’t how I could have made it this far without its lessons.

As to writing, well.  Writing.

I’m still not a writer, I’m just someone who writes.

Back to Chronicles of a Futre Past. Back then, when I started writing it, the internet was “new.”  We were still in the age of dial-up modems and Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes), offline mail readers like Blue Wave, and MORPGS (before the “massive” part came out) that operated by daily packet excahnges between BBSes.  Back then, my aliases were Bitman or Kayne. Yes, they sound pretty lame, but sue me, I was like 15 at the time.

At some point, the name Jinryu came up for the first time in writing.

It was the name of the male lead in Chronicles.  He wasn’t based on me: but in a lot of ways, I actually kind of grew up to be very much like the character that I tried to write him as.

And it all started with another character, the female lead, whose name was Flynt.

I began writing this story back then at a time when I loved science fiction and fantasy, and when I was reading comic books religiously.  I was really into Weis and Hickman books, I’d started out on Tolkien, and then I’d found my way backwards into older authors like Mark Twain, T.H. White, and some of the really dated stuff by Asimov, H.G. Wells and Philip K. Dick. 

Chronicles  opened with a company of covert operatives, called Legionnaires,  sent to infiltrate a research facility.  Among his squadmates were other soldiers who bore code names, such as his best friend Jace and the squad captain, Masen.  There was a female character whose name I can’t remember anymore, but she was Jace’s love interest.

There was a bit of a situation and things got really fubared, ending in a firefight, in which Jace’s love interest got killed.  Jace similarly goes down while trying to recover the body of his lover, cursing Jinryu for running witht he rest of the squad. In the scamble to escape what turns out to be an ambush meant to be the burial of the team by their benefactors, everybody gets picked off one by one except for Jinryu.  He barely escapes into the surrounding forest, mortally wounded, where he falls unconscious.

Years later, he’s living a peaceful life, secluded in a forest cabin, far from civilization, where he lives by foraging, spending his spare time reading and writing.  He lives away from society and lives the simple life as atonement for his previous life as a mercenary.  He would have lived out his entire life as a hermit had it not been for an event: a visitor.

While sleeping, he’s awoken by a crash from downstairs.  When Jinryu makes it down the stairs to investigate, his old pistol, still curiously well oiled and leading the way without a either a hint of a tremble or rust, he finds a weathered and beaten old soldier lying on his demolished kitchen table.  She’s in her forties, shes in an armor that he doesn’t recognize, she’s carrying nothing but a sword on her back, and she’s dying of internal injuries as if somehow she’d fallen from a roof and landed right on his kitchen table.

After a brief conversation that reveals essentially nothing to Jinryu, but by which the woman finds out a little bit about Jinryu and seems satisfied, the woman announces that when she next awakens, he’s going to have to give her the red card which she produces from her pocket.  She closes her eyes and falls unconscious.  Abruptly, there’s loud whir, a flash of light, a blast that knocks him off his feet, and suddenly, the woman is gone as all the power in the cabin burns out.

Trained as he is though, he suddenly notices that he’s not alone in the house and despite his disorientation, recognizes that he’s suddenly under attack.  It takes him just a moment to notice that his assailant is using a sword, and that, oddly enough, the assailant is wearing the same armor as his previous visitor.  It isn’t the same person as before though.  His sttacker is definately not crippled, for one thing, she’s younger than the woman he found earlier, and is in fact quite energetic in her attempts to cut his head off.  He attempts to turn it into a gun battle but with limited ammo and the assailant’s unbelivable intuition and speed, they find themselves in a stalemated situation until locked in close quarters combat.  In the scuffle, he drops the red card on the ground, which he’d totally fogotten about.  The assailant sees the card, breaks off the attack… and apologizes.

She introduces herself as Flynt, a second generation black ops merc whose squad was based off of Jinryu’s former Legionnaires sqaud.  She was the older woman who had visited earlier, but because of the grevious injuries incurred during a jump back in time, she’d likely had to resort to a ‘regression’ in order to heal her wounds.  With the regression, Flynt had wound herself back in time, restoring her health but at the same time scattering her memories of the future she’d come from, which, presumably, she’d been sent back in time to somehow correct.

All she had was in the red card, which contained a clue about where they should go to get some answers.  It involves how, in the future, Jace has become– shall we say– a very influential and very dangerous person.

Reluctantly, Jinryu decides to abandon his isolation and accompany Flynt and try to make something with the rest of his life.

Along the way, the two meet characters and undergo experiences that, at the time of the story’s writing, were actually real people I knew and real experiences that I had or heard. In a strange sort of way, Chronicles of a Future Past really meant “The Story of Now,” and it had woven into it a secret diary of many parts of my life as well as the lives of my friends.

Chronicles never was completed, it fell under dust sometime in college, but I did start working on other projects.  The most lasting of all of them was blogging.

As to blogging, it’s been really hard to find the time to write lately , but I guess that the truth of the matter is that if I really wanted to, I would find the time for it.  I think that’s one of those truths that’s revealed about anything that we don’t do– it doesn’t matter to us as much as we’d like to think.  It kinda goes into that ‘perfect record theory’ that I have.  We like to keep up certain habits.  Like the friends who drift into acquaintance and then into obscurity altogether, a habit like writing is something that I like to keep in practice but which doesn’t always do it for me.

Yet at the same time, the occasional reunion is nice.

Don’t get me wrong– I don’t mean that when we do blog we’re not living our lives.  But frankly, it really depends on how you chose to use your time– blogging is just one way of living my life, and sometimes…

well, you know what they say about how a thousand travel books are never as good as one trip in person?

sometimse, a thousand words I could write aren’t as good as one time that I tell someone “I’m glad you’re here.”

The difference isn’t in a capacity for imagination or creativity– the difference lies in that exciting spice that is our vulnerability.

The thing is, writing is one of those ways of burning energy for me.  I wake up in a morning and I don’t always know what’s in store for me, but depending on what goes on in my environment I take in a lot of energy from the world around me and I need some way of processing it.  Sometimes it goes out through actions, sometimes it goes out through writing.

Lately, a lot of things have been going on.  I’ve had many more days off lately than usual– I worked only 4 days last week, and this week I’m at work writing this from my one day of work this week– and so I’m filling up my time constantly with things that are just burning my energy.  I’ll be honest– I haven’t been a very good family man lately to my grandparents.  It’s been a bit over a week since I last saw them in person.  I consider this my own little vacation though from all that drama.  Nobody likes to think of family as a burden, especially not when these are the same people who raised you up from your hands and knees, but it really is like the Sphinx riddle, isn’t it?  The situation goes back to where it was, and that kind of transition isn’t always kind on people.

But here’s the selfish flipside: I think I deserve this time away.  It would all be for nothing though if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been having a great time during the past week.  It has a lot to do with living on my own, because of the fact that I’m being held more accountable for every little thing in my life.  I like this feeling of being dependable to myself, because when I get something done, I get to feel the results, and I can be grateful for what I can do.  That may sound strange, but I’m just getting so much shit done.  One of the comments I had when I first came back to North America was that life here seemed so slow compared to life in Asia (although, staying in Vancouver and then moving to a suburb of Calgary had something to do with the pace)– now, I’m getting it back though.

It’s been days since I last wrote, and I’m in the mood now, so, over the next few days to make up for lost time,  let me fill you in, and get back on track with my story.

Lit Up

I’ve got this grand plan which I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to bring to fruition yet.  It involves converting my backyard– although perhaps ‘terraforming’ is the better verb– into a social gathering spot.

So far, all the social gatherings in my new apartment have 9 times out of 10 revolved around the living room, in large part because of the presence of the widescreen plasma, Xbox, and Gears of War 2 (of whom I’ve converted several of my friends into entry-level junkies).  I don’t want it to become a gamer house though.  Aside from the obvious hygenic concerns, I’d like to think that we’re all capable of a wider spectrum of social activity (and no, that doesn’t include my roomies’ recreational use of marijuana), and that means that I want to enable the place to be used not only for the occasional barbecue but to have the same functions as a bar/grill or coffee shop with a terrace.

The terrace is the big thing.  The problem right now is that backyard area is completely wasted.  [Terminator] put some grass in last year but it’s full of weeds and the fences are lined with miscelaneous ugly shrubberies and such.  The weeds have to go, the bushes need to be dug out and replaced by things with actual color.  And the patio itself? I suppose we can do without a paintjob if we want to be going for that rustic look, but at the very least we need to improve lighting conditions so that we can go out there at night.  The entire patio is lit only by the kitchen lights at night, along with a single incandescent signal light.  It’s really not enough for people outside to sit under.

The plan, and [Terminator’s] gf Kim agrees, is that we’re going to install a web of christmas lights all throughout the backyard.  I’m thinking of netting the entire underside of the patio roof (there’s a balcony above us from the tennants upstairs) and then running some lights over the backyard, anchored either on the rails or the above balcony, and stretching out to the post where the clothesline is hooked up.  I don’t know if you’d call that the South American or the Mediteranean feel but regardless of the teminology, we want to make it more homely, and not just a typical college-bachelor-guys apartment.  Terminator wants to get an oldschool phonograph for style.  Maybe some windchimes.

The project is moving rather slowly, but at least it’s moving. The first step so far was to buy some cheap LEDs on eBay.  We’ll see what they look like when they arrive.  Aside from that, I’m going to borrow a spade from my house to dig up the backyard.  Kim’s going to search for the unused Christmas lights back at her home.  My mom’s going to donate a bunch of colorful flora from our backyard.  There are plans in the works– I just hope to get this all started before it gets too cold and back into winter mode.

I’ve been working since late high school so I manage my money pretty well I think.  I don’t earn a huge salary, and I’m by no means rich, but I do invest a lot.  Anywhere between 50% and 80% of my paychque usually gets stashed away, so whenever I say I’m broke, it’s not that I can’t make ends meet– it means simply that I’ve used up my ‘entertainment and other’ budget until the next paychque comes in.

Living away from home in Montreal is very different from living along in Asia though, and the primary reason for this is financial.  In Korea, I could save a ton of cash and still be able to party like mad.  If I blew a week’s salary on a week’s entertainment entertainment in Korea?  That amount of eating, singing and alcohol would probably kill me.

In contrast, in Montreal, I can really only afford to go out once or twice a week.  That’s a big reason why I’m trying to get added value out of my apartment.  After all, the venue is only half of the equation to a social gathering– people are pretty important too, right?  It stands to reason then that with the right people, any place can be fun.  My living room with a bunch of the guys and an Xbox is a perfect example.

I would however like to make our apartment more accomodating to the interests of the fairer sex though, and that means the eating, coffee and drinking that we’d otherwise pay craploads to do outside.

I’m of the firm belief that home shouldn’t just be a hotel, where after a long day we throw our keys on the dresser and our heads to our pillows– home should be where you find ways to appreciate and build memories with your family.