Saturday, September 25, 2004

Frequenting public bathrooms has exposed me an array of messages and discussions scribbled on the walls and doors of bathroom stalls. I'm not sure about boys, but it seems like girls unleash a lot more than excrement in bathrooms. Traditionally, it's been the place to hang out. The place to talk, the place to giggle, the place to cry. In bathrooms you could see the object of teenage lust adding a third layer of makeup on her face, obfuscating the last traces of natural texture.

In addition to the usual chatting and primping and smoking, girls seem to have a habit of writing on the sides of the stalls. The number of bathroom stalls have increased significantly now that I'm in university, and with that comes many new reads. So far, I've come across a large number of memorable bathroom lit. There's the usual 'fuck', because writing obscenities is so rebellious, and 'initial plus initial' enclosed in a heart. I once saw 'for blow job, call [number]'. People are often quite opposed to posted instructions, like 'Please do not throw sanitary napkins in toilet', and respond by writing 'WHY DON'T YOU TELL US HOW TO PEE TOO'.

In one stall I found a discussion on love. The starter of the discussion had a bitter tone, and stated that love is merely a figment of our imagination and does not exist. Other comments include the lighthearted "I love my dog! It's real!", the cliched, the interesting, and the incoherent. Other discussions have not been quite as deep, and mostly include exasperated comments like "Please don't pee on the seat". I had a pen, so I couldn't resist writing "But it's so hard not to."

Recently I came across a rhyme: If you sprinkle when you tinckle, be a sweety, wipe the seaty! I cringed and giggled simultaneously. Lately I also saw POO SMELLS written in huge letters across the stall wall.

I have so much to look forward to whenever I get the urge to pee. Going to the public bathroom is an exciting (if slightly risky) business.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Dinner Table Conversation

Me: "You like the flowers I bought? They're so pretty."
My father: "I feel sorry for them. They were growing happily and now they've been ripped from their roots and made to sit on top of someone's dinner table."
"But see, they were grown with the sole purpose of being pretty in someone's home. They've fulfilled that purpose. You like the vase? I got it today. It's so minimalist."


"My father: Maybe you'll be a famous physicist one day."
Me: "Not possible."
"Look at Einstein. He wasn't that bright as a child."
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?"
"He wasn't successful at all when he was young. And look how he turned out."
"Look at Osama bin Laden. Teachers say he was quite the shy kid."
"I don't want to be a terrorist."
"But look at the kind of leader he is. He has so much power."
"That's because he has money. If I had money, I could have a lot of power over people too if I wanted to. I'd also buy lots of flowers."

Monday, September 20, 2004

A story my mother told me today made me cry. It is about a friend of hers who had an abortion at eight and a half months into her pregnancy.

Before lunch I was having a conversation with my mother about orthodontics and I told her my orthodontist also works with children with clef palets. Somehow the topic shifted to abortions. I talked about what I knew, which was that after a certain period into a pregnancy abortion can be very dangerous. I thought about articles I've read on stem cell research and embryos that cry. I said that after three or four months, it's probably not a good idea to have an abortion. My mother then told me the story of her friend who had an abortion at eight and a half months.

It happened in China when I was very young. China, the country with the one-child policy. Scans in the last month of my mother's friend's pregnancy showed a problem. I don't know the details. The umbilical cord might have been wrapped around the fetus's neck. Complications at birth could result in a defect. Everything could also turn out fine. But due to that risk, the doctor suggested she get rid of it. Since she was only allowed one child, the doctor said, she might as well have a completely healthy one. Get rid of this one and try again.

My mother's friend was only a few weeks away from her due date. Premature babies born at six months survive and grow up normal and healthy. She was in her eighth.

I can only guess that she was scared and didn't know what to do. Naturally, she believed doctors always gave the best advice, and she agreed to the abortion. I don't think she was told how painful, how horrifying, how completely heartbreaking the process would be.

During the procedure, an injection was given to put the fetus to sleep. When they took the fetus out (pardon my terms), it was still kicking and struggling to stay alive. I can't even imagine how unbearable that would have been to watch. Why was she allowed to watch? My mother's friend almost lost her life during the abortion too. She told my mother this story when she got back from the hospital. Everybody expected her to come home with a baby, and my mother was planning to make her chicken soup. She was so deeply traumatized and scarred that her husband didn't want her to get pregnant again.

I don't know what I would do if that happened to me, if I was scared enough by the doctor's words to agree to a late abortion, after a relationship had developed, after everything had been prepared - in the emotional, physical and every other sense - and the only thing left was to bring this life into the world. I don't think I'd want to live. I couldn't stop crying after I heard this story. When I finally stopped, I remembered the two hundred children that died under hostage in Russia and started to cry again.

My mother lost contact with her friend. They thought about adoption. I wonder if she remembers the pain everytime she sees a pregnant woman, if she remembers her own baby when she see's someone else's child. I hope she has healed.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Launching the Story of the Great Bedroom Makeover

As I had mentioned, rearranging the furniture in my room was one of the things I had planned for August. As plans go, this one was carried through. All I did was go through all the papers (ie applications, letters, brochures, notes) that I've accumulated, throw out most of them, pack the rest in boxes, then move the furniture around. No big purchases, no painting, no sweaty men in overalls. It was crazy, it was fun, it was backbreaking, it was dusty, it was one of the best things I've done in a long time. It was endless too. It took me, five, six weeks? I took pictures of the before, after and during, which I will post Whenever I Feel Like It.

Going through the contents of binders, shelves, and table tops, I came across a piece of paper with a poem I had written during the school year:

All this jazz
listen to the tracks
refrain from action
it's only a fraction
of what we convey
the unsaid, the assumed
guessing all day

Directly below, presumably written immediately after:

if solubility is greater than 0.1M, salt is soluble.

Right. I wonder what I was supposed to be doing.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

The writing on the bottom reads The Future Looks Bright.
It's also called Taking My Arteries For A Ride.

Friday, September 10, 2004

During the last two weeks of summer, I decided to see a couple of movies. I saw the following, in no particular order:

Big Fish
When Sally Met Harry (go ahead, laugh at me)
Lost in Translation
Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! (alright, I'm a loser, okay?)
Le Divorce
Love Actually
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (I held my shit together during the movie, but was a little freaked walking the 1.2 meters to my bathroom at night)


As I checked out Love Actually, the guy behind the counter said, "Love Actually. It's a great movie. I can't believe I'm admitting that."

On another note, they have little Spongebob halloween candy holders in Rogers, as well as Spongebob candy with a choice of several different facial expressions. Screw tuition, I'm going to spend all my money on Spongebob candy.

I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. I can't believe I'm admitting that.


Trips to the video store were interesting. While renting Lost in Translation and two others, I wore my 'Science and Engineering for Kids' tshirt, because I had volunteered for the camp a few summers back and because I had nothing else to wear. At the cash register, the woman behind the counter saw my shirt and asked me if I was in engineering - I am. Engineering has a disproportionate number of guys, she said. I nodded and smiled, because I had just brushed my teeth. I love men, she continued. Nod and smile, nod and smile. She handed back my card, and I prepared to leave. However, she kept on talking, so I lingered beside the counter. She carried on about the boys in engineering, how they date outside their faculty, which was great for her, because she would never go into engineering. Anyway, she said. She wished me luck, or something alongs the lines of that, and said that university is awesome. I walked out into the heat holding on to my videos, smiling and shaking my head.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Two stories in one day! Like killing two birds with one stone! Like wearing two contacts in one eye! Like sticking two french fries into one nostril! Like...


After orienation last week, I waited at the bus stop. The bus was already there, so we waited for the bus driver to finsh his coffee, empty his bladder, whatever. There are two kinds of Vancouver buses, the ones with stairs where you step down and use your weight to open the door (heavier is better, in this case, and this case alone); and wheelchair friendly ones where you exit by gently pushing the bars on the doors (how colds are spread). This particular bus was one of the wheelchair friendly buses. I've always been curious as to how bus drivers enter the bus, because I've never seen a door. Maybe they stick their keys in a conspicuous place and push a magical button. Who knows.

Walking under the sun all day and not having enough water to drink, I was more than a little out if that day and didn't take the incredible opportunity to observe the bus driver entering the bus. However, I didn't need to. The bus driver walked to the back door (where people [are supposed to] exit), and kicked it. The door responded to the less than gentle stimulus and opened. He walked in, settled down, and opened the front door for passengers to aboard. The way he kicked open the door was so no-nonsense, so matter-of-fact. I walked on the bus, laughing, and asked the bus driver if that's how all bus drivers get in, by kicking the door. He started laughing too, and said no, he just does it cause it's easy. Don't try it with the coach buses, he said.


At half past ten that evening, I was on the bus going home. I stared outside at the passing houses and the lit street, focusing on not drifting asleep. From experience, simultaneously trying to sleep and trying not to is one of the most painful experiences I have ever experienced. Slightly dozing off while keeping your head straight then pulling yourself out of the sleep is so nauseating, so dizzying. I think that's how they killed prisoners in Japan a long time ago. So I kept my eyes wide open, staring at the outside whirl of lights and cars and catching glimpses of the cute boy next to me's reflection on the bus window.

When the cute boy left I turned to look at the side he was sitting on, and saw a 'Poetry in Transit' poem. I thought it was kind of cool so I took out my planner and copied it down. When I looked up, I was many blocks passed my stop.

I don't think I've ever missed my stop. I ride buses so often that I can tell where I am located by the frequency of stops and the turns and the speed. I can't believe I missed my stop because of a poem. It wasn't that cool. Do you lovely readers want to know what that poem was?

By Heidi Greco -

I will ride my red motorcycle
into your heart
crash land my feelings
all over your doorstep
fling scented pink petals
across your front lawn
kiss you like pancakes
for breakfast

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Walking by a used bookstore/coffeeshop I frequent, I glanced in the window and saw the following book on display: "101 nights of GRRREAT Sex!"

I mean, there's great sex and then there's GRRREAT Sex!. It's all about the extra R's and capitals. I think I'll buy that book and give it to a random person on the bus.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

I know it's awful how long I drag things on for, but I felt the need to write about the bites from my camping trip. I think that everyone deserves to know why my legs look scratched up and infected. Please hold the vomit until this entry ends.

During the two nights of camping I sprayed myself liberally with Off! mosquito repellent despite my lack of faith in it and its cheap expired scented bathroom cleaner smell. I'm not sure if it was the smell emanating from a group of people all wearing the repelent that created a mosquito free zone or the fact that I wore sweatpants and a long sleeved shirt, but I was bite-free for the first two days. This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it's a huge accomplishment for me. Mosquitos love me. Chinese mosquitos, Canadian mosquitos - all kinds of mosquitos. It is not uncommon for me to be covered in forty or so bites. Exacerbating this obviously attractive addition to my somewhat normal skin, bites swell up to enormous sizes, the redness spanning an average of two to three cm; more if I scratch. Summer requires shorts and tshirts, so unfortunately, I have scarred many with my gross mosquito bites, some broken and bleeding from incessant scratching.

Now back to the camping trip. You can imagine my delight at finding no red itchy bumps upon waking. On the third (last) morning, I discovered three tiny bumps behind my red knee during breakfast, and promptly showed everyone. They (the bites, not my friends) were equal in size and arranged horizontally; my bug was organized. I wasn't upset, because three is nothing, but I was confused by their size. I kept on checking throughout the day to see if they had expanded exponentially in size. I decided it had to be an insect other than the mosquito, but that thought was disconcerting because mosquitos and I have formed a relationship long ago. The kind where we try to outsmart each other, the kind where I can hear them from far away, the kind where I have perfected my death-clap. To my horror, I found more throughout the day, which can only mean I got bitten in broad daylight. And not by mosquitos. Right.

After camping, I made the mistake of going to the beach at night. I came back with bites on my face and leg. It's funny that I started to look like psychotic grave digger with serious skin problems AFTER the camping trip. I already had multiple scars on my legs from biking and the inevitable daily accidents that befall someone clumsy like me. Add on the scratches and the gross bites I was a nightmare. On trips to ice cream, safeway, the bookstore and Rogers Video, I inadvertently made many little children cry. At one period even I was disgusted by how my legs looked, and I am not easily grossed out. So what did I do then? I took pictures. You should be very very glad I'm not posting those pictures on the internet.

The reason I am writing about this now is that weeks after I got bitten, the mosquito bites have disappeared but the other bites are still visible and still itchy. My legs look better now, and less red, but walking through a playground today I again elicited horrified stares at my leg. What makes this whole mosquito/other-insect situation so awesome is that I don't heal well and I scar easily. Little children beware! I have braces too!

Obviously, I made no effort to make a long story short.

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