Not knowing why I’m joining the trend of tumblr, but for now I am.
Please find me here for more non-sequiturs and rants; lucky you! =P
Not knowing why I’m joining the trend of tumblr, but for now I am.
Please find me here for more non-sequiturs and rants; lucky you! =P
As the year is coming to a close, it would be great to be able to say that this blog post is meant to provide closure and a space for reflection for both myself and anyone who may be inspired from reading this post.
However, the truth is that I have a pretty poor episodic memory, for which I usually say that it’s just because I am focused on the future and not fixated on the past. Having said that, I am super thankful for the invention of photographs and videos, because I would not remember much without their prompting. And this is why, inspired by my dear friend, here is one personal highlight from each month in 2011, complete with photos and videos! Creating this post is more for my benefit than anyone else’s, as I otherwise would not remember what happened this year =P. I actually had to look at my Google Calendar to remember what I did each month (thank goodness for that invention as well!).
January was the first time I was back on the stage acting and singing in five years, and it was more than I could have asked for. Amazing cast and crew, a phenomenal and thought-provoking production of Kiss of the Spider Woman, and I learned more about acting and the art of being part of an ensemble than I ever had the privilege of learning before.
A photo from rehearsal! =)
February was a busy month with med-related gatherings of great friends, including parties (the biggest one of which was the annual Internos with all four med years attending), the first of many meetings planning the annual Med/Dent talent show, and the start of rehearsals with my amazing bandmates in our med school rock band: the Superior Retention Band.
March was mostly Unit 5, which was the musculoskeletal system, so it was anatomy-intensive in a very short amount of time (along with more extra-unit assignments than usual), so I think I was actually studying and working on school for most of it…but I made it through, so I’m going to say it was worth it! =)
In April, four of my Pennsylvania family members traveled quite a bit, leaving their lives behind momentarily just so we could all spend a weekend together. Great news was shared and I think we had a pretty awesome time together, but that’s pretty standard fare =).
The 2011 McGill Med/Dent Talent Show happened and I believe we raised $10,000 for Starlight. It was so much fun organizing this event with incredibly talented and dedicated human beings who I have the added privilege of calling my friends, and the result was that we had fun making skits, singing songs, and creating a pretty spectacular event together while raising money for a good cause.
Below is our band performing for the talent show, as well as one of the skits in full!
The first year of med school ended with June, and it was personally the most significant month of the year for me for a variety of reasons. I think the beginning of summer, the end of school, and my birth month meant that great changes and personal growth were inevitable, not to mention I saw quite a few out-of-town friends! =)
This was the month that two of my favourite people came to town and showed me the beauty of my own city, and I’m so thankful to have been included in their awesome adventure.
In August, I started a new job promoting mental health awareness at McGill, and the staff and volunteers that I’ve had the honour of working with are passionate, intelligent, and people that I could spend hours talking to on any given day, because we are driven by similar interests and passions in health promotion and prevention. Creating the Zenity Squad this year for mental health promotions with this team of stellar individuals was, to me, the first step in realizing the career that I hope to carve out for myself.
We had our white coat ceremony in September, so we can be official med students in the hospitals starting in January. I didn’t think it was a big deal at first, but eventually I realized the symbolism of the coat: the fact that many patients may not know the difference between our white coats and those of residents and attendings, and more importantly, the coat is about accepting the responsibility of taking the health of others into our hands. The trust that others place on us and thus, the power that we have and need to respect. Turns out it is kind of a big deal.
My October was all about a little musical production called Into the Woods, and oh, the stories I could tell you about this show! It was indeed a magical production, full of drama in the creative process itself, but coming to a fairytale conclusion. I learned so much from this team, and I think the experience will shape my performances as an actor and singer forever.
I also have to mention how much I appreciate all of my colleagues and friends in and out of med school who came to see the show. It means the world to me and I hope/think they enjoyed it!
Below is our cast photo, along with one of the promo videos we did for the show. Nothing but fond memories =).
TEDxMcGill happened in November, and organizing this event connected me with such inspirational and passionate human beings, and I’m proud of the event we created together.
Here’s one of my favourite talks, where he redefined success in the course of his own talk that afternoon, when he pulled himself out of what he thought was a bad start, and managed to bring the event home in the end.
My big December trip is now ending, and this month, I have been blessed with the company of beautiful friends and family (inside and out), as well as time for personal reflection in places that I got to explore. I feel loved and ready for the next step in my medical education, and there is nothing more that I could ask for from a vacation.
I think reflecting on the past, at least for me, helps me realize that I have been actively living this year. That as someone who focuses so much on the future, I need to stop and appreciate all of the amazing things I had the privilege of being part of and I had the power of making happen this year.
It’s not always about bigger and better things, moving onwards and upwards, but looking down every once in a while and admiring the fact that we’ve climbed up pretty high; we’ve come quite a ways up, and we’re exactly where we’re meant to be at this moment.
Here’s to 2012 – to looking back with fondness and without regret, to the excitement and anxiousness of the yet unseen, and to the present, oh, the present.
I’ve had sinusitis/phlegm/hoarseness for three months since my musical ended. I thought the symptoms just needed to run their course, but since I came to Hong Kong and took steps that have been finally leading to my recovery, these are the things I realize that I didn’t appreciate before now (first of an annual series, perhaps =P):
So yes, some simple things I never thought were important now will be adopted into my regular routine. Maybe it’ll help prevent and reduce the amount of time I spend with sinusitis…
I will let you know if it works out!
So I thought my life was busy, but I only became recently acquainted with Busy when I watched one of my best friends balance her life with her new two-month-old baby (the cutest in the world, I might add).
One day I tagged along and on top of feeding her baby every three hours, changing him at least that often, and trying to keep him preoccupied and happy so he doesn’t cry when he’s awake, she also spent the morning at work, picked up her seven-year-old son after school, went to visit a daycare centre for both of her kids, dropped her partner off at work, got dinner for us, and somehow still remained as cheerful as ever and managed to keep me entertained all day long. I think she often forgets to eat, but she makes sure that her family eats. While I was there, she slept at the same time as me, but she woke up hours before I did, while also waking up periodically to feed the beautiful baby.
Supermom: I guess the word “busy” is reserved only for them (and Superdads).
Perspective. Gotta love it. It’s a beautiful thing. =).
As of December 5th, 2011, the Basis of Medicine ended, which means the 1.5 years of lectures are now over forever. In January, we go into the hospitals as second-year medical students: naive, wide-eyed, eager. Ready to be unready for the experiences that will shape our lifelong careers.
Although we still pay tuition, we no longer have summer vacation as we once knew, as we are thrown into work at the bottom of the hospital food chain. I am genuinely thrilled.
However, January has not yet arrived. As such, all of the colleagues in my class are taking full advantage of this last month off, each in our own way, before we essentially start our careers.
For me, this month is a month of traveling, and this is the first time I’ve traveled to multiple destinations in one trip, visiting friends and family literally all over the world. I figured, when am I going to get this guilt-free month-long opportunity again? Probably not for years.
Thus, I am now on the third leg of a little December journey, and I am having an amazing time.
The brilliance of traveling to multiple locations like this is that I realized that each place I go to ends up reminding me of my past – a specific time in my life and the specific person I was at that time; engaging different, specific parts of my being.
In New York City, for example, I stayed with a friend I admire tremendously, and we share a strong interest in theatre, so some might say we were in the right city, and my theatre side was entirely fulfilled by seeing three shows, critiquing them with him, singing theatre tune after theatre tune with him as we walked home down the streets of Manhattan, and meeting many of his wonderful friends who are passionate about (and in many cases working in) theatre as well.
In Pennsylvania, I spent some quality time in the suburbs with my family of friends there, and it was like I warped back in time to when I spent a year with them, picking up exactly where we left off and having those simultaneously intense and silly conversations and experiences that characterize our family. The pancake-toast man captured in the photo above is characteristic of our silliness =P.
Now I’m in LA with one of my best friends, and, of course, the focus is on going to the theatre and owning Hollywood, but in truth, it doesn’t really matter what we do, because he ends up dragging me on adventures anyway – just like old times.
And when I get to Southeast Asia and I’m with my family, I know that I’ll revert back to being a child: being told what to do, but ultimately, loving being taken care of (as long as it’s for a short period of time).
And it’s just funny that when most people think of travel, they seem to mean traveling to new destinations in order to open up their eyes to new worlds and things they’ve never seen.
For me, traveling seems to let me do the opposite: to go back in time to relive the best parts of my past. How awesome is that.
I had the pleasure of watching Chinglish on Broadway in Manhattan while I was there, and it was one of the few times when I enjoyed theatre without people breaking into song in the middle of it. Chinglish works for so many reasons, in my opinion: because it presents accurate stereotypes of the Chinese while making characters complex and multi-faceted; because it transitions between scenes with Chinese hip hop and rap that seem to capture the juxtaposition of East and West; because it takes an old concept of lost-in-translation and somehow still makes it fresh, hilarious, and extremely authentic. As the son of two business people who are currently running businesses in China, I found the awkward dialogue and ridiculous business dealings extremely funny because of how shrewdly reflective they are of reality as I’ve heard and seen for myself in China.
That five of the seven actors are Asian (and I think even authentically Chinese rather than Korean or Japanese playing Chinese, which is not absolutely necessary, but nice, I think), gives me hope and inspiration for my own mini-career as an actor. It’s true that this show was about China, and Jennifer Lim, the amazing female lead in the show, talks in an interview about the double-edged sword of getting opportunities specifically because she’s Asian, but also cautious not to get pigeonholed for the same reason. However, I think shows like this are extremely positive because they feature Asian actors in roles that allow for depth and range in the performances, rather than casting Asian actors in limiting roles that perhaps reinforce beliefs that these actors have limited range.
But what moved me the most in this show actually had nothing to do with the specifics of race. Well, I guess it kind of did.
*Spoiler Alert* An American businessman falls in love with a Chinese Vice-Minister of Culture in a (relatively) small Chinese city while working on a deal. Both of them are married, and after the affair goes on for a while, the American wants to tell his wife the truth about their affair, because he’s in love with her. The Vice Minister, however, thinks that this is a ridiculous idea, and tells him that if they respect their respective spouses, they would continue lying to them. She goes on to say, in Chinese, the most memorable line in the show for me, which was this:
“Love is an American religion.”
It gave me goosebumps because I immediately understood the difference between the two. The Chinese Vice Minister then talked about this word in Chinese (“ching ee”), which I understand roughly as a commitment in a marriage based on time spent together, mutual sacrifices, and dedication even if you are no longer in love. It’s in contrast to the notion of romanticism and love and passion and chemistry that I’ve grown up with in Canada, and I, in many ways, am a follower of this latter religion of love.
Regardless of whether it was the Valentine’s Day industry that initiated this religion, this line from the show really resonated with me, because I realized what the characters were talking about was a difference of what love means to them. Words are the best we have, but so often it is unable to capture what people really mean when they use them, especially with such packed words as love, where individual definitions are informed by years of living and redefining the definition of love, so that it may take just as long to understand what the other person is trying to express through that word.
The beauty and tragedy of Chinglish, for me, was the universality of this lost-in-translation idea applied to the concept of love. When two people’s fundamental beliefs on love and marriage are so different, could the result have been any different?
Surely no two people’s definitions of commitment, love, and marriage are exactly the same, so how far apart is reconcilable, and when is it irreconcilable?
This last question is the one I continue to struggle with.
The trouble I have with love is how to strike the balance between not having expectations so that I can let myself go with the natural flow of the relationship and let myself be surprised, and not letting my own desires and even beliefs go completely in the process, getting washed away by the tide.
When is it being flexible and spontaneous? And when is it losing the grounding of who we are?
The dance, this push and pull, the force of the moon on the tide – it’s all so difficult to navigate…