procrastination station

a few weeks ago, i happened upon the most relevant buzzfeed article i’ve ever happened upon (which i admit is a bit of a grandiose statement to make, given the website’s propensity to fuel my sense of self-loathing and deprecation with gifs that always seem to exactly capture whatever i am feeling). i can’t quite recall the title of the post, but it was something to do with milestones every graduate student encounters.

now let me tell you, reading through those milestones (scrolling through those gifs)? was like witnessing a narration of the last year of my life. when you start your master’s degree, you are filled with jubilation and a large dosage of self-validation. i mean, you got in. they wanted you! chants of you were born for this fill your mind as you prep for orientation. and you feel like you’re a kid again, really, all the nervous excitement and the uncertainty, but you also feel ready. you trust yourself for making this decision, for dedicating another two or so years to the pursuit of knowledge, something i still can’t quite wrap my head around.

BUT THEN.

before you know it, thesis writing bears down on you, and the immensity of the task you’re facing becomes very, very real. suddenly you don’t feel quite so self-assured of your decision to continue your schooling, to fill your brain with more knowledge, to get a better grasp of the world’s complexity. let me tell you, that’s the stage i am at, and have been at, for the past two months, and it’s a struggle. on the one hand the pride i have for being brave enough to dedicate a year or two of my life to this task seems worth it. on the other, the responsibility i feel towards doing this topic justice is overwhelming. there’s just so much – so much reading, so much writing, so much mapping, so much trying to fit the pieces together in your head that you begin to question if it really is possible, to make sense of whatever you’re trying to make sense of.

the first draft of my thesis is due on friday (!!!) and i’ve been oscillating between zen-like calm and panic for the past month. while i think i’ve made a lot of headway, i still don’t feel like my paper’s in a place i’m wholly comfortable with yet. i am hoping (crossing my fingers) that in the 11th hour, things will click. they usually do.

Living Your Moksha Week One.

I have always been a “go go go” sort of person. My. Whole. Life. I’m the type of person who enjoys a fast pace, both literally and figuratively. You know that Facebook group that existed back when Facebook actually had “groups” instead of “pages” that was called I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head? Yeah. I was ALL over that (and note, I still want to punch people who walk slowly).

Because of this, I had always shunned yoga as something “not for me”. The reasons were plentiful: I thought it was too slow, wouldn’t get my heart rate up, took too long, wasn’t very efficient, I wouldn’t feel the DOMS that I have a love/hate relationship (but mostly love). But most of all, as a student, I found it incredibly unaffordable and therefore inaccessible. No way in hell did I have enough money to pay for a $15 class for a low intensity class that lasted 60 minutes when I could bust out a 45 minute run for free.

But then…I met Moksha Yoga. One of my best friends Alex had been raving about it for a loooong time and eventually he was able to convince me to attend one of the classes. And I loved it. As it so happens, this year a studio opened not-too-far from my house, and ever since I’ve been attending regularly.

One of the best things about Moksha is that it advocates a simultaneously personal but social approach to yoga. It’s an opportunity to really invest yourself in a practice that is all about what YOU want it to be. Concurrent to this is a strong emphasis on the development of relationships with your community, society, and world that are healthy and conscientious. These are reflected in the 7 pillars of Moksha Yoga: Be healthy, be accessible, live green, sangha [community] support, outreach, live to learn, and be peace.

Over the next seven weeks, Moksha Yoga studios across the world are hosting a seven week “Living Your Moksha Challenge” to celebrate and really put into practice the 7 pillars of Moksha. I have signed up with the wholehearted intention of embracing these challenges, exploring what they mean to me, and incorporating the Moksha pillars into my everyday life. Since I have a teensy feeling that I might have difficulty charting my progress, I’ll be updating weekly to muse about the week’s challenge and how I’ve been living Moksha that week.

This week is Be Healthy, and the challenge is to nourish your body by eating no processed foods and no toxins in the home. One of the best things about this challenge is that it’s entirely personal and interpretive. You get to decide for yourself what the pillar means to you and institute the changes you feel are in line with this interpretation. For myself, this challenge means:

  • No junk food – chips, pop, juice (unless it’s fresh!), candy or chocolate, and loading up on homemade, fresh, foods! 

Let’s see how this goes!

Finish line

Honours stress

Honours stress

It’s here, it’s here. I never imagined this day would come, but in a few days I’ll be wrapping up the final paper of my undergraduate career, a 50-something page behemoth AKA my honours thesis. It has been a crazy ride and I’m still a little unsure as to how I got this far but hey ma, I (pretty much) did it! And for the proof, here’s my room slash work area in all its messy glory. What you can’t see is the jumbo bag of Cadbury Mini Eggs hidden under my laptop case. Cause you know, we all need a little bit of sugary goodness when it’s crunch time.

Musings and New Beginnings

I’ve never really fancied myself a writer, or considered myself particularly gifted with words. That has never affected the centrality of language in my life though; the world of literature has always been very close and dear to my heart. As a child, I was always reprimanded for reading books at the dinner table (my parents thought it was rude, truthfully, it totally was – but in my mind today, much more polite than texting at the table); I read through the night under the cover of my blankets, craning my neck in strange positions in order to get along even a little bit further in whatever tome tickled my fancy at the time. I don’t know what it was – is – about books and words and letters and language, it always seemed to be so vast, so huge, so infinite to me – full of possibility and wonderment.

I regret to say that as I grew older I grew more distant from this world of words. Life got in the way. Friends, school, extracurriculars, keeping up with the hubbub of being a teenager and now young twenty something seemed to be more important. And I’m not negating the importance of my social life – but lamenting the lack of role words have played in my more recent life, my incessant need to be in the now, the current, and to forget about the past and memory.

The past six months have been a whirlwind for me. Life threw me a curveball – no, a 180 degree ball (physicists don’t get all up in my grill). It smacked me in the face and forced me to seriously reconsider everything. To be honest I feel like I haven’t given myself any time to really sit and digest all that’s happened in the last few months – reconsider and reflect on how it’s changed me as a person. And I think part of the reason for that is that I don’t want to admit that it’s changed me as a person, I want things to be exactly as they were and I want me to be exactly as I was. But one of the epiphanies I had on one of the many days I spent on my living room couch recovering and wasting my time away was that  I wanted a better record. A better record of what was happening in my life, my day-to-day life, from the most mundane and trivial to the hugely exciting and life-shattering. I’ll be completely honest, something that totally scares the shit out of me is just not knowing. Not knowing and not remembering. Too much happens in the course of a lifetime – in MY lifetime – for it all to disappear and be forgotten.

I’ve always been at a bit of a loss as to why I keep a blog. I could never figure out what the best way to funnel my interests and energy towards it (thus, the haphazard posting schedule)…to a certain degree, I think I’ve been doing what I want to do with it, though perhaps not as consciously as I wish to do now. I’ve always been a person of the present – never particularly concerning myself with either the past or future – but more and more I think it’s important to actively take a role to remember.

I don’t think any of this really made sense.

Midnight City

After quite the adventure searching for the perfect winter parka, my journey has finally come to an end. Long story short, back in August, William and I took a much-needed end of summer vacation to Washington and the Oregon Coast; one of our last stops was in the so-called hipster capital of the US, Portland (and I don’t mean that as a pejorative, I absolutely adore Portland). While traipsing around the city, we stumbled upon the store Dunderdon, which was filled with impeccably tailored pants, shirts, and in particular – outerwear (there were also the last remnants of their summer collection, from which William bought an awesome pair of shorts. Seriously awesome, they are my favourite pair of men’s shorts ever). In any case, as my luck usually has it, they were completely out of women’s jackets in my size (surprise), so I returned to Vancouver jacket-less but hopeful that perhaps I could find something similar.

Lo and behold, only two stores in the city carry Dunderdon: Eugene Choo and The Block. And as it so happens, I was able to snag the last Women’s Coated Canvas Coat available in Vancouver in my size. To say that I walked out of the store slightly euphoric is definitely accurate. I can’t wait to wear this baby out! Best of all, it’s water repellent…and super duper warm. Looking forward to being cozy cozy in my new coat when the chill really starts to set in…

New York, New York

I’m falling off my chair in fatigue (I was up at 6:30 AM this morning for an 8:30 class, I’m evidently a sadomasochist) but I’ve committed myself to completing this post before I let all the details of my New York trip escape me and sink into an irretrievable abyss.

Taking off from where I last left off – Sunday was our “social” day, as it entailed meeting up with the various friends/family members we knew in the city. In the morning, we met up with Jocelyn’s friend Alex and his girlfriend Eden for a lovely brunch/lunch at a little cafe in Soho, Once Upon a Tart. It was a tiny place and quite dark, but the food was tasty, and their tarts (as expected) were delicious. I bought a pear and almond tart to take away as a snack later. We split up after, as it was Alex and Eden’s last day in New York and they were hoping to fit in some more shopping before their flight left, so Jocelyn and I walked around in Soho a little bit, exploring the shops and jewelry stands, before taking the subway to the Meatpacking District. We stumbled upon an artists’ fair in the basement of a local church which turned out to be a treasure trove of amazing jewelry – I bought a lovely little bow ring (similar to the Kiel Mead designed one that I had been lusting after), and Jocelyn bought a ring with a pretty turquoisey-teal stone.

Afterwards we tromped around the Meatpacking District a little more in our attempts to find the entrance to the High Line, an old abandoned railway track reincarnated into an urban park suspended above the bustle of the roads of New York, which fortunately was found with the assistance of some other tourists. It was a beautiful day, so the park was quite busy with people walking along. High Line was definitely one of my favourite parts of New York – it’s quite small (as it exists now, though I believe they are planning on expanding it), but even the fact that it exists above the road imbues it with a certain sense of calm – of course, the gardens and greenery, benches and seating help too – the organization that is responsible for its operations also holds various public and community events, such as workshops, book loaning services, and public art installations. It’s such an interesting and well executed example of how to successfully merge the functions of a public green space that simultaneously operates as a place for public gathering, presentation of art and installations while effectively utilizing the space that is available – as you probably imagine, space is kind of at a premium in New York, and there isn’t any significant green space in the middle of such a metropolis.

We lounged around High Line for quite some time, reading books and resting our tired feet. In the late-ish afternoon we decided to trek to Greenwich Village, where we were to meet my cousin Kelly for dinner – originally we were going to try to locate a subway station and subway there, but through our random wandering we found that we actually just stumbled into the neighbourhood, which was nice. In the process we also found the famous Magnolia Bakery – since we had a sweets craving to satiate, we thought we might as well try some of their “famous” cupcakes. As it so happens, Magnolia’s cupcakes aren’t nearly as tasty as advertised and I came away quite disappointed – homemade is definitely better. After our brief snack break, we explored Greenwich Village a bit – got to jump into Marc Jacobs’ stores – before deciding to lounge, again, in the Hudson River Park. Dinner was at Hakata Ton Ton, where we had delicious Japanese tapas. Afterwards we headed for gelato in Little Italy, then called it an early night, since we wanted to get up bright and early for the following morning.

Monday was MoMA day, which actually ended up being my favourite museum of all the ones we visited. In the morning we decided to tackle the Empire State Building (at 9 AM!) because we heard that crowds could get really horrible. Fortunately, we had barely no line – we only really waited to buy tickets – but I was a little disappointed in the general experience, as there wasn’t that much to see. We spent maybe twenty minutes at the 86th floor observatory before deciding to explore some more of Midtown before heading further uptown to MoMA – which was amazing! So much wonderful art; I’ve always been preferential towards modern art over classical art, so MoMA was a bit of a heaven for me. Jocelyn and I ended up spending up the better part of Monday in MoMA, and we also grabbed lunch there – at Cafe 2, which was way over-priced given the lack of quality! Our pastas were over-priced, small-portioned, and tasted like plain boiled pasta with a few veggies and cheese sprinkled on top. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind paying more if the quality is there – but the quality definitely was not there with this meal. Needless to say, we were very disappointed (enough for me to semi-rant about it here, at least). To make up for Cafe 2′s sub-par cuisine, though, was the MoMA gift shop, which I could definitely spend hours and hours in – so many amazingly designed gadgets, I wanted them all irregardless of my need!

After our day at MoMA we were, naturally, starving, so we made a stop to Tiffin Wallah, a raved-about Vegetarian Indian restaurant. It was DELICIOUS. Especially after the big let-down the MoMA’s dining was. I had the Tiffin Wallah platter and Jocelyn had a potato and veggie curry, both which were delicious. I ended up eating a pepper and spoiling my dinner, which was unfortunate.

Tuesday was our breather day, which we spent in Brooklyn. In the morning we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, which was lovely, and made our way to the TKTS booth in downtown Brooklyn in our attempts to snag discounted Broadway tickets. We were very fortunate and were able to get evening tickets to Chicago in a prime location in the theatre for half off! Score. If you’re ever in New York and looking to get discounted tickets from TKTS, try to go to their booth in Brooklyn, because it’s significantly less crowded and you won’t waste nearly as much time waiting in line as you would at the booth in Times Square. With our moods considerably lightened, we took the subway to Williamsburg, grabbing lunch at a wonderful cafe (I think this may have been our best meal – so yummy) at DuMont. Afterwards, we headed to the “central” shopping area in Williamsburg, Bedford Avenue, where we got a chance to stop in some of the little shops. I got a cool magnifying glass necklace from Catbird, a wonderful jewelry shop on Bedford – I wanted to buy everything in there, but had to resist.

After checking out the vintage mecca Beacon’s Closet (it’s a behemoth – we were overwhelmed to say the least), we took the subway downtown and decided to check out the Financial District before our play – we were able to see the World Trade Center site (after Osama Bin Laden had been killed, no less), which was both a surreal and profoundly sad experience; I was a lot more affected than I thought I would be. After spending some time exploring the site and memorial museum, we headed to Century 21, a giant discount department store. It was ginormous and many deals were to be had – they had Marc by Marc Jacobs wallets for just $79.99! – but we were both exhausted and didn’t have nearly as much patience or energy as we would’ve liked to scope out some deals. If I returned, I would try to visit in the morning when I was a little more energetic.

A little exhausted, we continued sightseeing, checking out Trinity Church, the Federal Reserve, etc. until it was time for dinner, where we stopped by a little burger diner in the Financial District called Zaitzeff – really yummy, and cool space! We then took the subway back to Times Square just in time to watch Chicago, which was fabulous. It starred Christie Brinkley, who, in my opinion, wasn’t AMAZING (but did relatively well given her lack of Broadway experience), but the rest of the cast was fabulous! When the play was over, we decided to shop for souvenirs for friends and family back home – and so began my quest for the 7 3/8 sized NY Mets hat for my little brother, which, after a long period of searching, was finally located!

The main plan for Wednesday was the Guggenheim – Jocelyn and I are museum lovers, so predictably we tried to hit all the big ones. It was unbelievably rainy on Wednesday, so off we tromped covered head to toe, toting our bright coloured umbrellas to the ivory coloured art mecca nested comfortably in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It was very busy and crowded, exacerbated no doubt by the relative smallness of the museum. That said, I did enjoy the Guggenheim, both for its art, and the seamlessness that the architecture afforded to the viewing experience. Wright truly did magnificently with this building, and the exhibitions are so carefully curated that everything flows together perfectly.

Given the smallness of the Guggenheim, we were out of the museum by 2 PM, and we spent the rest of the day shopping in my quest to find a pair of Sperry’s that a) fit, and b) were in a colour and design I liked. Unfortunately, my quest was not completed by the end of the trip, but I did manage to snag a cute pair of Keds that I’m looking forward to stomping around in this summer! For dinner, we decided on pizza from Lombardi’s in Soho. A simple margherita pizza sated our craving for a perfect thin-crust pizza, and afterwards we stopped by Rice to Riches for some rice pudding for dessert (delicious and incredibly indulgent).

Our last day was completely and utterly devoted to the Queen (or King) of all New York museums, the Met. We got there relatively early, around 10:30 AM, and were there the entire day prior to leaving for our evening flight, until about 5 PM. The first thing I learned, right away, is that you are not going to be able to see and absorb the entirety of the museum in a day if you want to retain any sort of recollection of what you saw that day – if I did it again, I would try to see it over the course of two days. We didn’t get a chance to see all the exhibits that they had to offer, instead deciding on which ones we wanted to see the most and prioritizing those.

Predictably, the highlight of the Met for me was the Alexander McQueen exhibit, Savage Beauty. I must have spent at least an hour in there, not least because it was so crowded, making the viewing slow going. But it was amazing and impeccably curated – everything from the lighting, to the design of the exhibits themselves and the music that played in the background served to complement and embody McQueen’s work.

After the Met, we began our journey home, spending at least 2 hours in JFK airport waiting for our flight (the time which, surprisingly passed very quickly as we got absorbed in our readings). After spending five hours in the air, in which I got almost no sleep, I was home. And missing New York terribly. It’s a very schizophrenic city, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. And though I don’t think I would wish to settle there permanently, it’s a city with so much to offer – and I already intend to visit again in the near future.

Empire State of Mind

Today marks the almost halfway point of my trip to NYC. It’s the first time that I’ve traveled more than 2-3 hours from home without my parents, to a city pretty unfamiliar to me, and so far everything has been lovely.

Jocelyn and I took a red eye flight to JFK from Vancouver at 10:40. At the time it seemed like the best option, as it was a direct flight, and we were hoping that we would be able sleep on the flight and maybe do a little exploring during the day – which, unfortunately, did not really pan out. There were a ridiculous number of young children and infants on our flight who were very uninterested and on the whole displeased with the concept of sitting relatively still on a plane for five hours, as you can imagine, not much sleep was to be had. Cathay had quite a wide selection of in-flight films to choose from, though. That may have mediated my annoyance about the whole flight situation slightly.

To add to it all, our flight was delayed because of wacky weather, so we didn’t land until an hour after our estimated arrival time. I was totally fine, but once Jocelyn and I sat down for a quick breakfast by our hostel, I felt completely downtrodden.

We were so exhausted we spent two hours in Barnes & Noble attempting to read but mostly dozing in and out of sleep. As soon as we could check into our hostel we did and crashed for about an hour.

Feeling a little more energized, we decided to try to explore some more so we took the subway to Midtown/Times Square and walked around amazed by the spectacle of it all. Let me tell you, it is even more schizophrenic and seizure-inducing in person. Guy Debord would be rolling in his grave.

After we decided that any further exposure to the flashing lights would’ve hazardous to our health, we decided to grab some dinner before checking out the Top of the Rock – we stopped by a lovely Japanese ramen place called Sapporo which was very tasty.

The Top of the Rock was a lot of fun, though I thought it was a little pricey. We were originally planning to see if we could catch sunset over New York, but unfortunately we were too late. The views were still spectacular, though.

Friday was our first “real” day in the city, and we decided to tackle the American Museum of Natural History and Central Park. The Museum is HUGE. But amazing. The Hall of Biodiversity was definitely my favourite, though it was really sad that the resource centre was empty. Also, I got to see dinosaur bones for the first time, which was kind of exciting – though by the end of the day, they were old news – the museum has LOTS of dinosaur bones.

Afterwards, despite our aching feet, we decided to walk around Central Park a bit. It’s a very wonderful urban park but it doesn’t hold a candle to Stanley Park in my opinion! We left earlier than I would’ve liked as it started raining very unexpectedly…

Today we explored Chelsea, NoHo, SoHo, Chinatown, and Little Italy. There was tons of shopping and lots of walking! I got a really cute pair of heels from UO, and a pair of trousers from Anthropologie. SoHo was insanely crowded – like Robson Street at home, but during Boxing Day – yet when I mentioned it to the salespeople, they all said it was slow or normal…yikes. We went to Prosperity Dumpling in Chinatown for lunch for a really cheap meal – it cost me $3! – before taking the subway to Battery Park, where we hung out eating sweets until dinnertime (as you can tell, we have super healthy eating habits). Dinner was at one of the few Malaysian restaurants in the city, Nyonya, which was yummy but not nearly as good as my beloved Banana Leaf at home.

That was an awfully long post. I’m going to try my best to keep track and record my trip…hopefully there will be another post in a few days!