Friday, September 28, 2007

Growing Up

This post is long overdue but I've been so insanely busy lately and my computer is absolutely begging me to throw it out with the amount of times it has screwed up in the past month. Once again, it's September, the days are growing shorter, the weather growing colder, and once again, it's back to school season.
For many years now, going back to school has always given me pretty much the exact same feelings every year: excitement, a little sadness for the official ending of the familiar routines of the previous years, and maybe comparing my height to people I haven't seen for the whole summer in hopes that I have grown a micrometer or two. This year, however, the feeling was a little different. It was as if the idea of "growing up" had finally hit me. I mean, its not as if I've been oblivious to moving through the grades or growing taller over the years, but maybe deep inside, all along, there's a part of me that can't quite grasp the concept of one day being "grown up" and being an adult. Maybe it has something to do with sleeping in the same bedroom since I was six years old. I mean, its not that I think the same way or (thankfully) look the same way I did back when I was six, but whenever I'm asked the classic question of what I want to be when I'm finished with school, it still feels like I'm thinking about what I want to be when I "grow up".
This year, when I walked in the school, I saw that "popular" girls in my grade have given up on the sluttyishly tight TNA clothing and have gone on to wearing clothes that actually look good. Almost everyone worked over the summer and alot of people are still working part-time throughout the school year. I see people from my school working at grocery stores, clothing stores, and fast-food restaurants. I feel like people around me have all blended into the world and I'm still sort of stuck halfway between childhood and the real world.
As I am now a senior high school student, I am leading ten grade eights so they have someone to "look up to" and the school plans activities for them to help them adjust to high school. When I see them, I feel so old. It doesn't seem that long ago when I looked lost in the hallways and everybody not in my grade was a "big kid". I see them facing the same problems that I faced like losing touch with elementary school friends and I suddenly feel so old. Suddenly, I know all the people who are in Cafeteria Class that prepare my lunch who are all senior high school students. Suddenly, my friends are the ones in Vocal Jazz and not some older students that I don't know. Suddenly, I'm lugging around a huge Biology textbook and I realize that high school really doesn't last forever and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The "M" Word

Oh! The root of all evil, bits of coloured paper that we spend all of our lives labouring over, and something that people claim to hate but we secretly all love it to death: money. I think the older you get, the more the importance of money hits you.
I was five or so when I wanted pizza for lunch instead of leftovers from the night before, I asked for it and my mom said no. "I'll buy it with my own money then!" I exclaimed and dug out my savings from the odd five dollar bill that my dad sometimes gave me. Of course, my mom retorted by yelling loudly, raving about how I haven't even started making money and I was already spending it lavishly and how I'll grow up to be an idiot that only knows how to spend money and not how to make it. The little five year old me tucked the five dollar bill back in my pocket and sat down spooning the leftovers in my mouth, angry tears threatening to fall. Money did not feel too important back then.
I was seven or so and it was my birthday. My dad asked me what I wanted and I said I wanted Pokemon figurines. We went to Zellers and I picked out a box of two 11cm stuffed animal looking figurines in plastic for $11.99. We came home and my mom yelled at me for not picking out something more practical and wasting money on toys like these. She yelled at my dad for buying it for me. Money did not feel too powerful back then.
I was eleven when our class went on a fieldtrip to the province capital. To go there, we each got a box of chocolates and had to sell them to raise money. If you didn't sell them all, then you had to pay for what you didn't sell. My mom and I went to the Skytrain station near where we lived. I stood by the staircase where people left the station and shouted "Chocolates for sale! $3 a box!" Some people bought them from me out of pity, since they had to do the same when they were kids, I got kicked out of there by bus drivers and Skytrain attendants numerous times for selling the chocolates there without a permit. None of my friends had to do this, their parents worked in nice offices and their parents took the huge box to their offices and got them all sold in a day. My mom worked in a factory (still does) and my dad worked as a lowly paid cook in a small restaurant (still lowly paid, not the same restaurant). Their co-workers would never fork out $3 for a small pack of chocolates. My friends lived in nice houses and their parents own two cars. I live in a small apartment and have ridden in public transportation my entire life. Money began to become something important.
Now, my computer is constantly lagging with a RAM of 128MB, I've had it for six years and I want to get a laptop, my parents have said no. I took my Learners driving test today and passed (written test). My mom complained from the moment we left the house (and she's still complaining now) about what a waste of money and time it was. She told me that she didn't think I should drive until I'm 22 and driving lessons would be a waste of money since she didn't think I would be able to get my Novice License with only 20 hours of driving instruction. "Also, I hear of new drivers crashing their fancy sports cars all the time," she said. I don't have a sports car, in fact, we don't have a car, period. I have no college fund and since I went to Asia in July, I can't find a job and I've been looking since I returned. Money feels indeed both powerful and important now.
I think I've become a bit obsessed with making money. I've started writing on Helium, a site that pays you when people read your articles. I'm making pretty much no money right now, please click on the link below and read my articles. If you want to join, please give me your email so I can refer you and earn some extra.

My Helium Account

I'm about three clicks away from adding Google AdSense to this blog and I really don't want to because it would defeat my purpose of having this blog. Plus, I think I'd make about three cents each month with the amount of traffic I get. *Sigh* Money, money, money...

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Last of the Travel Log

This is it, I'm sitting at home happily in front of my computer and my days of eating and shopping as a past time are now over. It was an interesting experience, with good and bad. I met my cousins, and got along with all of them except one. She was extremely rude to me even though I was polite to her the entire time and she said that Harry Potter was for little kids, which of course is not true, and the ironic thing is that she's twenty-two years old, and watching some kiddie cartoon when she said that. Though I suppose one of the reasons why she said that was because she failed her English A-Levels and probably wouldn't be able to understand any of "Deathly Hallows", which I spent two days obsessively reading. I spent alot more time with my mom simply because I had no choice and I feel that through the process, we both learned more about each other and have become closer. I know a bit more about her past, seeing where she lived when she was younger and we spent more time talking about what I thought about things, and surprisingly, laughed together.
I guess after being in a hot and crowded place for a month, my little apartment suddenly seems very nice. Even breathing seems easier as the days of suffocating from pollution are over (somewhat). I think the thing I do miss about being in a hot crowded city is the feeling of walking through such a city at night; when people begin to head home after dinner, the vendors close up their stalls to go home to their families, the weather cools, and the city just doesn't feel the same. It feels more...romantic.

Anyways, here are some of the pictures I took on the trip: (most are randomly and badly taken)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Feelings About Harry Potter 7 (NO SPOILERS)

I finally finished reading the book today! As I was reading it, I was caught between wanting to slow down so the moment of finishing the last HP book would not come so soon and reading quicker to find out what happens next. All I can say is that JKR is brilliant. The tone of the book is definitely not directed towards the kiddie audience of elementary school children. The style of the writing departs sharply from the rest of the series and the contrast between the war and peace could be seen clearly in the way JKR plays with humour. Characters that one could say were important but flat are fully fleshed out. As I was reading the book, I could really see why it took JKR so long to plot out the entire story. There are seven books but it really is one story with a very intricate plot and seemingly unimportant details from previous books are brought up, I must say that I admire her intelligence. The story is deep and rich in wisdom with the way Harry's character develops. The plot twists and turns, its impossible not to be addicted. Alot of theories from fans that I've read online have come true, including theories in the shipping (romance for those of you who don't know) department. I really don't think there's anything left to debate about for the hardcore shippers now, haha.

From reading this book, I could see why I have never really gotten into the Book 7 fanfiction stories. Fanfiction writers usually only use the good side of the characters when they write, JKR knows her characters, she made them come fully to life by exposing their weaknesses and made them react realistically in difficult situations. I guess after reading the book, the story feels complete. I mean, I want to read more in the world of Hogwarts and magic, but at the same time I could see why JKR wouldn't write another book in the Harry Potter series. I still feel sad though. Its as if a long time good friend is moving away. I would still hear from them in the form of phone calls and emails, but its not the same as seeing them in person. The movies will still come out, there's always fanfiction, but its not the same. I think the books have changed my life in the sense that I've discovered the world of fanfiction and the hobby of writing and using writing to express myself when I can't get the words out of my mouth.

I suppose some day, I'll be eighty years old and sitting in my rocking chair telling my grandchildren, "Oh, dearie, I remember when the Harry Potter books came out..." and show them my first edition hardcover books yet again as they clutch their Random House Classics edition in their sweaty little hands.

*sigh* The end of another page in history.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Shopping Experience

Before I begin this post...

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is released today, yay! I'm on chapter four right now and I decided to take a break to blog and talk to my friends back in Canada. Secondly, when I saw that I had a comment for my movie review yesterday, I thought it was going to be a flame, but instead it was a comment by a very nice person preferring to remain anonymous who agreed with me. Thanks!

Moving on...

Travelling is always an interesting experience because you're being thrust into somewhere that is simply different from what you are used to. Shopping in a different part of the world of course has been a very amusing and memorable experience. The other day, I saw a bag that I really liked and it was priced at eighty-nine dollars in local currency. Since the store wasn't in a big retail chain or anything, obviously I attempted to bargain.

Me: Come on, that's so expensive!

Vendor: This is a really good quality bag, totally worth the price!

Me: I'll give you fifty dollars for it.

Vendor: No, no, if I did that, I'd be losing money, sixty-five.

Me: Fifty, last offer.

Vendor: Sixty-five is a good price.

(I start to leave)

Vendor: Okay, okay, fifty it is!

So in the space of two minutes, the price of the product dropped by 44%, advice for people travelling to Asia: BARGAIN!

Next, I had a rather bad experience. I saw a pair of Converses on sale, they were in a sort of brightish green so I had some doubts about how they would look on me but I figured: it never costs any money to try anything on, so why not? Since the shoes were wrapped in this plastic wrap or something, the store owner unwrapped one for me to try on. So I tried it on, the colour was sort of bright but I was wearing one so I wasn't totally sure. I asked her if I could try the other one, so she unwraps it and I try on the other shoe as well. With both shoes on, the green was way too bright so I decided not to buy the shoes because of the colour. With that, the owner of the store proceeded to yell at me, saying that I shouldn't ask her to unwrap the shoes if I didn't like the colour and kept yelling while I walked out of the store even after I apologized. I found the situation rather ridiculous seeing as she expected me to buy the shoes right away just because I tried them on and the fact that she was chasing after a customer and yelling loudly.

Whereas the prices in Asia are pretty low, they could work at their customer service a bit more.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Review: "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (NO SPOILERS)

Even in Asia, I managed to watch OOTP in English, yay!

For me, the Harry Potter movies have never managed to bring the magic of the books onto the big screen and OOTP was no different. In terms of the plot, as usual, a ton of detail was cut out as more than seven hundred pages was squeezed into about two hours of screen time. Many things were changed to simplify the plot in order to shorten the movie. It wasn't cut down to the point of GOF where the movie did not have a complete plot and was more of a bunch of scenes from the movie stuck together as a companion for fans of the book. At the same time, however, there was so much cut out of OOTP that the magic of Hogwarts: the students, everyday life, Harry's interaction with his friends, etc. The main plot of the Harry Potter books is of course Harry vs Voldemort, but what makes fans everywhere get sucked in is how we can relate to Harry and through him, "live" at Hogwarts and do magic. In the movie, I just couldn't feel that.

I didn't find any part of the movie particularly boring, but at the same time, there wasn't an emotional high point, this left me with a blank feeling when the movie ended: not good. Those of you who have read the book must think that I'm crazy, but its true. The book is packed with emotion with everything that happens but the way the emotional scenes are presented is so cheesy. It felt like something I've seen in a soap opera or a bad movie. I couldn't feel for Harry the way I felt for him in GOF when Cedric died. "Love conquers all" is the basic theme of all the books, but in the movie it was presented in a very lame way that doesn't allow me to feel the message that is presented on screen. It seems like I've already seen the technique that all these scenes are presented in. I, and movie audiences every where, are tired of melodrama.

I didn't find the acting of the three leads particulary spectacular, I didn't see improvement in terms of acting skills, maybe it was because of the faults in the "emotional" scenes. However, I thought that Imelda Staunton did an excellent job playing Dolores Umbridge, all pink and evil like a piece of poisoned taffy. Her actions fits the description of the book perfectly: evil but pretending to be nice at the same time. She didn't over or under act, she made you hate her, but you feel like you know someone like her in real life, which makes you hate her more.

The costumes were interesting, especially how in certain scenes, charcters seemed to be wearing clothes that the fanfiction reader, writer, and shipper (supporter of certain relationship theories in the HP fandom for those of you who don't know) in me was dying to get a screencap of for banner making purposes of future fanfiction stories. I like the musical score better than the one from GOF, I think I will get the soundtrack once I get the chance.

Overall, I liked it more than GOF, but it still doesn't meet my standards of what a good movie is.

Overall rating: 3/5

I heard somewhere that David Yates is directing the next movie ("Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"), this worries me.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Beach Frolicking

Ahhh haven't been to the beach in ages, finally had the opportunity today. There's something about beaches that I really like. It feels really relaxing to feel the warm sand underneath my bare feet, feel the foam of the waves licking my legs, and see the water stretch for what seems to be an infinite distance. When I almost arrive at a beach, I can always tell by the salty smell of the water. I like to stand where the waves roll in and feel the sand move beneath my feet, there's something strangely comforting about standing on a surface that's not solid, letting the ocean take what it wants and give back what it wants when the waves roll in.

Unfortunately, going to the beach isn't as fun as it used to be. I have to constantly watch every step I take so I don't step on broken glass or any of the other crap that people leave behind. Swimming there is completely out of the question after hearing all the nasty things that people have been dumping in the ocean. Of course, there's always alot of sunbathers, which means I have to carefully walk in between a whole bunch of beach towels laid on hot sand instead of drawing my own path on the sand. The most horrible thing that happens is when sections of the beach become part of private property and while the nice fancy homes are being built, all the construction noise and dust doesn't exactly make it ideal relaxation enviornment. I suppose this is why out of all the recent times I've been to the beach, I didn't take my shoes off, there just didn't seem to be any point.

Maybe someday, I'll do something extremely hypocritical if I ever become stinking rich and buy a house with a private beach property backyard. Meanwhile, maybe all the enviornmentalists will make a difference and we'll all get our nice beaches back.

The Louis Vuitton Bag

I'm sure there was a time when someone walked down the street with a Louis Vuitton bag and everyone came to the same conclusion that she was a woman with wealth and class, able to afford such a luxurious and beautifully designed bag. Nowadays, when I walk down the street, especially here in Asia, I see imitation LV bags being sold for less than $5 or $10 in Canadian dollars and everyone from the seven year old that doesn't even know what LV is to the twenty-something wanna be to the forty year old that doesn't give a damn what brand the bag is as long as its useable seems to have one. So now when somebody walks down the street with a LV bag, nobody thinks she's a woman of class and wealth, we're all guessing whether the bag is real or a really good imitation. Its like that with practically every single luxury brand of clothing and accessories. I suppose the reason why people would spend so much money on something in the first place is for the feeling that one can "afford" the luxury and its a status symbol. (Yeah, I know I'm shallow, but come on, everyone has had those moments in life where you need some item to raise your self esteem.) However, the status symbol of these luxury products have diminished significantly due to all the imitations. So by buying the imitations, we've stripped the real product of its meaning. So then we must ask ourselves, what's the point of all of this?