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Posts Tagged ‘choices’

Face to Face; a Love Letter to The Art of Acting.

In As Artist, life, Love on October 10, 2015 at 7:49 pm

as artist

I called “cut”. The room was quite tense. The camera started rolling at 10AM, by now it’s almost 2PM, and we’ve got nothing. Day 2 of filming, same subject, same setting, same format, the only difference is text. It shouldn’t be this hard.

Not that we don’t have anything – we have just short of 5 dozen clips of the same text – about the subject himself. A biographical text, so to speak, derived from a series of questions by me, co-written by three creatives, then distilled into its most essential form. Nothing is exaggerated, nothing is untrue. It was confounding to me, how a handful of quite remarkable facts and accomplishments chained together in a lyrical flow, were rendered unusable because the speaker had, time and time again, ran over the words like they were the petty, wilting items in the grocery aisle, on “end of day sale”. I’m not working with wilted salad.

“Do you have another appointment after this?” [read: you seem rushed, and rushing gets you nowhere]
“Are there others whom you should attend to first, so you can be fully here?” [read: you’re not present]
“Take a moment, walk around, grab something to eat…” [read: leave this space for a minute]

I’m running low in the barrel of positive reinforcements… yesterday was fine. Alone on set, I re-checked the frame, the lights, the technical design of it all, and the aesthetics were quite pleasing – the cosmetics, the composition. Beautifully lit, too, but what good is beautiful, if it’s untrue? The camera doesn’t lie. Still images can be very deceiving, but moving picture? “Film is truth, 24x a second.”

That very quote from M. JL Godard changed my life. From actor to director, I suppose I’ve “come of age”, but nothing comes for free.

For an actor, our work is mostly intangible, but if the process involves any degree of blood, sweat, and tears, what we then deliver, you will feel it through the marrow of your bones – and that feeling, is undeniable, is stronger than anything you’ve ever felt, is the closest to truth you’ll ever get. That’s the breath of life, in this often lifeless world we operate in. Close your eyes, inhale; feel. 

I was filming a musician. As a musician myself, I equate what we do with love and truth as well, but there are differences. If there isn’t love, there isn’t passion, then the work is void of depth or artistry; there needs to be fire.

There isn’t a correct way to compare music to acting, but of one thing I’m certain – that acting forces you to confront yourself, and all that’s deep within you, in a way that music allows you to sink into, and quite possibly, drown. Music is like mother ocean, it offers an escape; acting, well, you’re on fire and you’re running on a one-way street straight to hell, repeatedly. Because, Meisner.

The art of it is so. The business is a whole other beast. Hence, the actor’s dogged training in the art itself, its techniques, camera techniques… years and years of training that makes acting itself, its proper profession. Years and years of character sculpting and forced emotional-palette widening that neither music theory nor ear-training quite get to.

30 minutes on the clock, my talent has returned, with coffee, thank god. One rehearsal, we almost had it, the cameras roll, and we’re shut out, again.

I turned the camera off, and what proceeded to unfold, was in essence, therapy. Unbeknownst to me, I had stepped into the shoes of all the great acting coaches I’ve had. I was channeling them all, even the ones I’ve only read about. Of the many things I said, the most matter-of-fact had been that, the hardest lesson in acting, is learning to let go and unlearning all that adulthood and society have conditioned and socialized us with. Reversing that takes more than two days; for some, even two decades will only scratch the tip of the iceberg.

So, it was a moment of epiphany, of revelation, of miracle, and even that is an understatement, when a dragon of more than four decades had been slain. The dagger was not from me, but the blood burns in my hands. If this is what I’m devoting the rest of my life to… I’m okay with that. These moments, I can live and die for them, even though the cost is unimaginably cruel. Can you be so in love with your art? I don’t know. I just know I am, and the evidence before me, confirms it.

It’s been almost a week since its death, and I remain affected, as if it had just happened. Another country, another set, another wrap, I still remember it all, all too clearly. It was a moment of raw beauty, where no words could accord with justice, but ending the blog here seems without manners.

The tears we are reduced to, along the path of artistic training, are worth more than the petty emotions of a baby. They aren’t signs that we need to grow up, but rather, anthems of having grown up, the lament of all that’s sacrificed, and the realization of all that’s lost… A classmate once reported to the Chair of the Acting Department of the conservatory where I trained, that “we all had breakdowns”, to which I quickly added, “no, breakthroughs” – because there is a difference.

Among the 74 clips I have trimmed down to work with, one of them, I know, marks the transition between being in the dragon’s shadow, and being free, truly, free. In between the takes, there was that private space, that sacred space, that elusive truth which we trade our vulnerabilities for, and forever seek to reach… be it actor, musician, or any other creative through any other medium.

As artists, we need that truth like it’s the air we breathe. We need it to live, to create, to imagine fantasies that feed the rest of the world. Because when all the glamour and lights fade away, all we have, to taste, to save us, is the air we breathe.




X number of Provocative Questions

In Of Power on April 16, 2015 at 12:30 pm

mental floss

A recent post made a lot of people uncomfortable, myself included, for very different reasons. I seemed to have upset the conventions of social cohesion, even on my personal Facebook wall.

Given the crude realities of sexual harassment in NYC (elsewhere, too), and referencing the catcalling video, I’ve said some “horrible things” about a young woman, and what her open back romper invites, on a day where everyone else in that subway car was covered in leathers and other pieces that offered full-coverage. The post, out of orienting reflex, isn’t to question her prerogative to be. The words, perhaps loaded, to which I still stand by. The argument in question isn’t about rape vs. wardrobe, which if you’re inclined to know, I’m in the correlation camp, not causation. To deny the correlation puts you in a world I don’t live in. Yet, the comments that ensued seemed to have taken issue with my word choices, shifted the responsibility entirely to those who rape, and the girl is left innocent. There in lies the problem.

The aim of the post was to highlight the inherent dangers in the seed of a less-than-intelligent choice, and consequently, what that provokes in a less-than-pristine world. During a decade of misadventures around the world as a solo young woman, I’ve learned, the hard way, that nothing happens out of thin air. Been around that block too many times to speak nicely about human nature, I can say, with brutal honesty, that many times, when I’ve been “victimized” and called for help, I was faced not with sympathy or coddling, but with questions like “What were you thinking?“. It’s easy to slip out of the dress of responsibility and lay the blame on the villain. But what does that perpetuate? At some point, sooner or later, you’ve got to own your life, your actions, and certainly the way you put yourself on display in public is an everyday exercise in that chapter. Your body is a human billboard. What are you selling? What are you accentuating? What are you transmitting?

Power isn’t something others can rob you of; don’t volunteer it away.

My words weren’t pretty, but the realities of sexual harassment aren’t often, either. What I said wasn’t sugarcoated, and perhaps, politically incorrect, if anything, but they weren’t “horrible”. What’s horrible are the crazy things that happen beyond the ideal world on paper, where most of the arguments seem to niche. I have no interest in psychobabble, or really counter-arguing to justify stupid decisions. Did you know that lawyers account for the top three psychopathic professions? If my words, as they were, made you feel uncomfortable, you don’t want to hear me entertain further arguments. I don’t speak to coddle; I don’t speak to incite anger or provoke victim mentality soothing either.

Some provocative questions for thought.

I. Do you believe that there’s power in non-verbal communication?
It’s really not a question of belief, but more so of acceptance, and acknowledgement. There are banks of behavioral studies in the public domain that will blow your mind.

II. Are you aware that when reporting sexual harassment claims to any official,
A) that they question what you did to provoke that?
B) that your actions and behaviour are called into question, just as much as what had happened to you?
C) that they tell you, most indecent men would take any sign as a yes, if it’s not a definite, loud, no?

III. Do you believe in social conditioning? That as much as socialization is something that happens to us, that we are also responsible for shaping it?

IV. You’re in a crowded subway car, and there’s a scantily clad woman within your intimate space (skin to 18 inches, according to Edward Hall, anthropologist). Her open back romper flares open with the breeze that accompanies the motions of the subway, and the frame is a naked back, exposing bra hooks and all.
A) Where is your focus?
B) What kind of attention is this calling for?
C) What would you think that a less-than-decent man would do? Take a street-smart guess.
D) What are her chances of having something “horrible” happen to her?
E) When was the last time you were within inches of a women’s exposed back?
F) When was the last time you were within inches of a women’s bra, so that you can count how many hooks on it?
G) Are any of the above of a sexual nature?
H) How do you train your dogs?
I) How do you fish?
J) Do you believe that the worst of people have animalistic instincts?
K) How does orientation reflex play out in this case?

V. Do you correlate the above mentioned woman to a figure of power?

VI. Are laws made because every one can/should/do control themselves? Have you heard of addiction?

VII. Have your thoughts filter through a victim mentality check. Do they support and encourage victim mentality? Be brutally honest.

VIII. Does the alleviation of responsibility coupled with the labeling of “victims” empower them?

IX. By judging my words on paper, literally, in an ideal world setting, what are you really perpetuating? A lot of things sound good on paper, Communism is one of them. The world we live in?

X. A life lived in victimhood, or a life lived in ownership? Which contributes towards a better world and a healthier society?

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Newton’s 3rd Law.


13 things you failed to see when you reported my photo for nudity.

In my charmed life, Of Power, reflections on February 6, 2015 at 6:02 am


It’s easy to say, “get off my work, and mind your own,” and that’s largely how I felt when I received the notification from Facebook, informing me that a recent photoshoot snap had somehow offended your tastes, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, you reported it to have violated Facebook’s Community Standard on nudity. Now, if you were genuinely concerned about my well-being, you could have reached out to me directly. Flagged an email, sent a message, saying, “hey, perhaps you could reconsider…” But instead, you chose to operate anonymously, passive aggressively. This kind of behaviour is not my style. Now that you’ve gotten my attention, you’ll forgive me for folding my usual modicum of diplomacy into the round-file, because if my work offended you, this is not going to get better.

A common failure for millennials such as myself, is the incomprehensible yearning to be understood by the wrong people and seeking validation in all the wrong places. But you see, I don’t like to misdirect my energy this way. I align myself with women who, pardon my manners, didn’t give a flying f*ck. If I curbed my ways to make others comfortable, I would fail as an artist. If I fail as an artist, I fail as a being.

While I don’t aim to be understood, I would be mistaken if I didn’t show you the thirteen things you failed to see when you reported my photo for nudity. These thirteen things are what I know for sure, and what I know for sure, trumps your opinion about a world you clearly don’t understand.

I. My four-figure worth of designer wardrobe.
Pieces include: Quilted Designer vest; AP bra top; AP knickers; Designer boots.
Novelty, I was actually wearing clothes. I had to, it was a job. It was for one of the fiercest fashion designers I’ve had the honour to meet. It was a creative collaboration. There was hardware involved; I was selling something; that something wasn’t flesh.

II. This is a professional photo, by a leading photographer.
That means this is work; this is art; this is product; this is public.
What this isn’t, is that it’s not a selfie that reveals too much privacy, which if you allow my two cents, has cause for greater social concern, relatively speaking. But the means to take a selfie render these #firstworldproblems. I digress.

III. The hours of hair and make-up art, by a team of talented artists.
There were a team of hair and make-up artists. They came with concept drawings, reference images, and a full table’s worth of make up that would last the average person about ten years. There’s nothing average about artists; nothing average about what we create. This is our standard kit, but “standard” is easily a dirty word.

IV. The art of the pose.
The reality of being 5’4″ dictates that I usually never do fashion modeling. I was booked for who I am, as opposed to the fashion model that I’m not. That alone, is success as an artist. When you book work as yourself, instead of who they want you to be, and believe me, there are a lot of people wanting you to be a lot of different things, in this crazy world called showbiz.

By booking me as who I am, I brought who I am to the pose. That means eleven years of yoga and bringing the pose down to a level where vertical inches became irrelevant. At the same time, achieving an artistic goal of balancing flow, grace, energy, and movement in a dramatic way.

You try. No really, try

I guess the nudity was too distracting for you to have seen all this.

V. The art and skill of the capture.
That was not a wig I was wearing. That’s real hair, and working with forces of gravity means that what you see doesn’t come naturally. As badass as it would look, in moments of imagination taking flight, I can’t walk around town like this – not even in New York City, and not even if I wanted to, because it’s literally, naturally, impossible. What you’re failing to see, is the physical work involved, the mechanics of time and time again of various actions called, rehearsed, and then the sheer chance of one of those clicks working out. Maybe.

I guess my clothed nudity must have impaired your faculties for comprehension.

VI. The art of lighting and photoshop.

VII. The collective efforts of a team of creatives.
For the purposes of this shoot, there are seven: two models; two make-up artists/hair stylists; photographer; designer; gallery owner. All seven creatives have invested in time, energy, and efforts to make creative magic. Any creative project involve three phases: the prep/pre-shoot, shoot, and post-shoot. Each phase has its own work.

When you report a work like this because it conjured up something so uncomfortable within you, you are effectively undermining all of the following, each of which has a cost that far exceeds the price-tag of the clothes I had been wearing.

VIII. The collective creative vision of seven artists.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
Magic doesn’t happen when the vision isn’t aligned. To align the visions of seven artists is magic, in its own way. I’m sorry you failed to see this.

IX. The daring pursuit of love and passion – of and as – an artist, x7.
We are not timid to pursue what really sparks within us. The work is created from a place of love and light. As artists, we operate out of love. I dare say that the average, certainly under-performing crop of 9-5ers operate out of fear. Sometimes, I wonder where the value of life is, in those other lives?

X. The courage to choose to be an artist, x7.
Being an artist is a choice. I had, and have other options. The easier choice would have been to have stayed within academia, or government. I chose, perhaps, the most difficult one, but also the most rewarding one. I confront the challenges and inevitable dark sides of this choice daily. Tomorrow, I will choose again. I hope, with all my light, that you could have the courage to lead a life you’re proud of, one that’s fulfilling, one that’s rewarding.

XI. The commitment to living a life as an artist, x7.
Most of the class I graduated with, from Film Academy, are now onto other careers. Having worked since the age of fourteen, my father, to this day, is still wondering when the day will come, when I get myself “a real job”… I had one. I had plenty. But the life I have committed to, is that of an artist, and that’s a life that I will re-commit to, with each rising sun.

XII. The unyielding love for all we create, x7.
As artists, we are all naked, in a sense that we are totally vulnerable to that which we create, and then to those whom we touch directly and indirectly through our art.

Like all creations, you, too, were born into this world, naked, with a lot of chaos, screams, blood, and sweat.

Naked, but my creations are conceived and coated with love. Everything else is trivial.

XIII. Facebook’s Community Standard on Nudity.
Given that I’ve excelled in every subject I’ve ever studied, the pairing of poor judgement with impaired comprehension does not impress me. If I were your teacher, I would make reflection an assignment. I would ask that you re-evaluate your judgement, given the thirteen items above. I would ask that you read some poetry, go to a museum, attend a concert, watch a film, learn a new language, get a drink, see a therapist… but why?

Why art? Art offends you.

So please, just unfriend me. Get off my work, and mind your own. Facebook did that. Your turn.



Hendrick’s with Hobbes

In Drunken Philosophy, life, Of Power on November 30, 2014 at 2:56 am

#Ferguson #RayRice #JianGhomeshi #whyistayed #whyileft #BigEarsTeddy

Hendrick's With HobbesHashtags violent enough to descend Hobbes to my apartment door, in the “all of everything” that is New York. He didn’t show up uninvited – I don’t appreciate these surprises as they disrupt my creative flow and derail my work cycle. Rather, he’s been on my mind. His theory of the natural condition of mankind has been deeply ingrained in me, even before the POLS250 days. Political theory – a subject dense enough to have induced anxiety attacks of former classmates, is not the average cup of tea, or your usual Saturday night delight. Hendrick’s is served.

Between #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday, the world as it is, glitters with more abundance than ever. Yet, stripped away of material excess, the State of Nature remains a “war of all against all,” in which human beings continue to constantly seek to destroy each other in an increasingly incessant pursuit of power. Life in the State of Nature remains “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.” In the increasingly interconnected world, every platform amplifies, every echo resounds, every wall reflects, every Retweet further perpetuates. Noise levels have become assaulting; silence is harder to hear. Impressed, Tom was, of my modern recount of Leviathan. He noticed the tattoo above my left heel; Chapter XIII was my favourite, I told him.

At my piano, I entertained him with some twelve tone ideas I had been engrossed in for a brass quintet reading at Juilliard. Perhaps a wild mistake for a man who didn’t live long enough to even experience Bach, but it was the precise prerequisite to tolerate any tinkering on a gravely out-of-tune piano. He took to the Hendrick’s. Well… given the options, I, too, prefer music of his era. Sorry, Jon, but you know this about me.

Tom served me a top-up, and inquired about the concert-program-turned-coaster beneath my glass. Fragile Freedom, he noted. Yes, now that was music to his ears. Having conceived his masterpiece during the English Civil War, arguing for Social Contract and an absolute Sovereign, he took serious intrigue with the Velvet Revolution and the transformation it had ignited. In times of war, freedom is fought for with blood, tears, and lives on the line; freedom is a dream, elusive and fragile. In times of peace, freedom is a blessing, yet bruised by irony, its existence seems more fragile, because we didn’t fight to secure it. If freedom in our lives cease to exist, it’s because we have failed to own it.

I told Tom about the woman at the street corner (see Worth) only a week ago. As life would have it, I met her only 5 minutes after having left the Fragile Freedom concert. Our acquaintanceship literally formed on concrete, where she was drowning in a sea of feelings – feelings strong enough to have halted my kinetic march home on a very cold night; feelings that I remember to be as destructive as they were debilitating. Feelings, the very essence of what makes us humans; the most primal and deeply rooted are fear and desire.

At the most primitive level, fear is instilled in us to trigger retreat from life-threatening danger. This type of fear saves us; its value and utility lie within self-preservation. However, a continual state of fear paralyzes us, and fear-induced-paralysis feeds the demon. I know this from experience. Abuse is the name of a monster whose initial attack is an assault, where our blood is but an appetizer. What feeds it, and what strengthens it, is the target’s submission, the ultimate relinquish of one’s power. If after the first attack, you didn’t run for your life, then the alchemy of fear clearly didn’t serve you. It didn’t serve S, nor is it serving Janay Rice. With only a glance of the news, Tom was tickled to see that his theories remain relevant to this day, that even in 2014, we still live in a Hobbesian world.

Out of the crucible of fear, are endless narratives of #WhyIStayed. These voices aren’t limited to romantic relationships, domestic partnerships, or any relationship of a sexual nature. The monster’s desires go beyond carnal appetite; their lifeblood runs on power – and thus, it feeds on every type of relationship.

Another drink. Tom noted the photo next to the Hendrick’s, and asked me about the beautiful girl in pink. Can you blame him? “She’s engaged to an amazing man,” I said. “But why is she crying right now?” Touché, I forget that the dead can hear beyond our mortal ears, and that even with the sonic assault of my out-of-tune keys, Tom was able to register the sounds of her tears.

“She, too, is battling with a monster.”

“Tell me more…”

“You know the story. The very foundation of the Leviathan, and of your life’s work. Every man for himself. She signed a contract with a monster who clearly cares nothing of her welfare or time; she is not valued for even a fraction of her worth, let-alone well-being, but exploited for results, an experience any high-performer could relate to, as most have attracted and/or experienced some form of such abuse in their trajectory. Abusing the contract, the monster reigns sovereign, which actually, defines him as a tyrant.”

You know how this is going to end.”

“I don’t assume that I do. Although I hope, as I have asked her, to reclaim her self. To own herself. The possibility for an alternate ending, for a counterstrike, exists as long as she hasn’t completely relinquished her power.”

I use the word “target” because “victim” carries with it too much negative connotation. It is not to deny the power dynamic, but “victim” denotes the battle is over, whereas “target” is a status of a fluid nature. I refuse to further strip away one’s dignity by word-painting them into a position of even less power. Words matter. The monster is after power; fearlessness is its kryptonite. Targets can win this battle, but only by fearlessly owning themselves.

“…fear by day and night, fear as deep as the marrow of the bone; … this past, this endless struggle to achieve and reveal and confirm a human identity, human authority, yet contains, for all its horror, something very beautiful. I do not mean to be sentimental about suffering – enough is certainly as good as a feast – but people who cannot suffer can never grow up, can never discover who they are… He achieves his own authority, and that is unshakable.” James Baldwin

Unshakable starts with knowing your worth. He who thinks we live in a time of peace is under grand illusion, for so many of us aren’t even at peace with our selves. The only freedom that’s antifragile, is the one fought for, by exercising supreme authority over your self, owning your self. Owning your difference, your narrative, your time, your choices, your mistakes, and your power.

For Tom, sovereignty is the soul of the Leviathan. I say, sovereignty is the soul of antifragile freedom.


P.S. Di, the copy of Antifragile, which our photo is propped on, is yours. I remember your traveling style to be with overweight suitcases, nude pumps on feet, and a hard-cover book on hand – all signs of an inexperienced tourist, really, but as facts would have it, you jet through 60+ countries on a regular basis, so I don’t feel too badly about this contribution to the weight you carry.

P.P.S. M, Hendrick’s and rosewater go very well together – better than Hennessy and Guru, the way we had once experimented in our undergrad days. I mixed in the bottle you had brought back from the Middle East. Tom was a fan. 

P.P.P.S. Jon, having said what I said, I am nonetheless grateful for the limitations that push creative growth 🙂 I hope cocktails are being served with the readings, and not after the readings. I’m aware that this may read rather suggestively.

Whiskey, Cigarettes, & Cologne

In life on March 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Is being an actor in New York hard? You never seem to be wearing many clothes in your FB pictures. Hope all is well in NY. I have no doubts you are doing very well.

How do you respond to a message like this, really? Even when I ignore the sarcasm from the opening question, the heavy judgment in the statement that follows renders the genuine, caring bits in the end, contrived and meaningless at best. I confirm the fourth and last statement to be true, thank you for your faith in my nakedness.

The answer is yes.

Yes, acting is hard. You have no idea how difficult it is to be completely open, honest, and truthful, 24 times a second, on set, on camera, and off-screen rehearsing. The way we train and stretch our emotional dials to the extremes will terrify you, because we make big choices that terrify ourselves. The difference between an acting school and an asylum is that as actors, we’re actually sane and controlled. But to an untrained eye, we’re all just the same. Naked, vulnerable, crazy, and fully exposed to judgement, warranted or unwarranted.

Acting is hard, because unlike most people, as actors, we can’t settle – it’s all or nothing, go big or go home. We don’t fake it – we won’t fake it. Every fiber of our body, every cell, is filled with intention, truth, impulse, and a genuine interest in getting the others to “tick”. So acting is tiring, but it is the one thing that makes me feel most alive. Acting is about constant growth and a state of becoming – it comes with the territory, and it is one of the most difficult journeys of discovery and exploration.

Music is what runs through my veins, but acting is what gives me pulse, so I don’t remember life before I became an actress, before I tumbled down this rabbit hole that I call my paradise. But I remember the smells like I remember the sounds. I used to shower only with products that smelled of chocolate, coconut, vanilla, or mint. I used cinnamon buttercream frosting lotion, and I had an intoxicating collection of perfumes, some of which still sit on my dresser, somewhere between the masks, feathers, black lace, leather cuffs, silk bows, and white pearls…

A glimpse of my past and you wonder why I’m naked where I am today. I don’t.

These days, every time I close my eyes, I relish in the scents of whiskey, cigarettes, and cologne. And I don’t really want to wake up.

So go ahead and judge me. I dare you. I’m as real, and as full, as you’ll ever be. Or never be. Recklessly wasted on life’s succulence…you should taste it.


Spring Cleaning; Live with less, but live only with the best.

In life on April 22, 2011 at 2:25 am
In pursuit of Quality

I’ve never strived to be a minimalist, but by virtue of my nomadic life, I’ve had to become one. I may have a lot of things, but I don’t have the same type twice. My bare essentials fit into two suitcases, and 2 carry-ons, which isn’t bad at all, considering that I travel with my “studio” (midi-keyboard, electric violin, multiple laptops, recording devices, etc.), my dance gear (jazz, ballet, modern, lyrical, oriental, hiphop), my yoga things, and my performance wear… When they’re specialty items, the cost of replacing them far exceeds the burden of carrying them, so I keep them with me.

As I live and accumulate (I don’t shop much at all – my highest expenses fall under travel and restaurants, thanks American Express!), the amount that I am able to keep and carry (while in nomadic mode) does not change. As such, this kind of lifestyle has forced me to become highly selective, yet, I still find Spring cleaning to be necessary. As the “new” come in, instead of hoarding everything like a pack-rat, it’s better to re-evaluate your assets, and let go of the sub-standard. You owe it to yourself to live with only the best.

What’s more important in life though, are the people we meet and keep. In the age of hyper consumerism and hyper connectivity, we are all of a sudden, exposed to that many more people, thanks to multi-platform networking. I’m a huge fan/advocate of social media, but studies have shown that regardless of how many thousands of people we may be connected to, fundamentally, our capacity to maintain genuine and meaningful friendships is at around 150 connections. (i.e. Dunbar’s number as a theoretical cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships). 

If one is limited by one’s capacity to carry things – the rational solution would be to reduce the load. Paralleling this logic, as the number of people we meet increases, we should also let go of a similar proportion of people, so that we don’t max our cognitive threshold. The key formula in maintaining a healthy balance is to keep the people who enrich your life, and let go of those who are bloodsuckers in disguise. To blow a relationship – any relationship, over a disagreement is plain silly and unfortunate, but it happens all the time. Yet, so many relationships that have clearly passed their best-before dates are still being held on, for reasons that confound me, and at the cost of happiness.

Trendy numbers don’t stay in my closet for more than a season; classic, timeless pieces are in my permanent collection. I will continue to carry them, to the 26th, 27th, and eventually 192nd country I travel to, and that’s the same attitude I have with the people I’ve had the privilege to encounter in my life. I’ve been lucky in life to have met so many incredible and inspiring people I now call my friends. I’ve also had to part ways with a number of them, but that’s how life runs, and it’s worth it, knowing that I live and learn only with the best.

So when time comes around for Spring cleaning, don’t just get rid of boxes of stuff – look at the people, too. Life doesn’t come with a “refresh” button, so you just gotta do the dirty work yourself. As a child, I used to cry when friendships fall-out. At 15, the end of my first relationship broke my heart. At 22? I couldn’t be happier at the sight of some people walking out of my life – they’ve just made room for my life to become better.

I love detox.


Moving On

In life on February 9, 2011 at 7:01 am

Where am I these days? You ask.
It’s really hard to say. Do you mean geographically? Because that changes quite often. I like to say that I am where I am needed – because that’s the truth, but it’s only a partial truth, because I am really where work requires me to be. Yet even when I’m stationary, I’m not. Unless I’m playing the piano, my heart is somewhere my mind isn’t, and my body is somewhere even further from the two. They always seem to be in separate places, unfolding their own ways. I am only one when I’m playing the piano, where I surrender my everything to music. Every other moment in my life, I am divided – not by choice, it’s just the way I’ve become.

I’ve also become more and more free – free from attachment, and I like it this way. Have I considered settling down? Certainly. I’ve considered it and the answer is no, thank you.

One of the qualities that I don’t like about myself is my weakness in saying no. But that’s changing, as I’m learning. In the process, I may piss off certain people…that’s okay though, I’ll make new friends.

My high school best friend is getting married in 10 days, and a friend said that “we are all looking for our ‘Azams'”. There is indeed truth in this statement, but I don’t feel longing… I am not sad or depressed because I haven’t found my “Azam”, instead, I am happy – the fact that I may meet him as I move on with life excites me. When I am not moving, I feel imprisoned; complacency is the death of me.

Yet I’m not the type to never look back, either. I don’t burn my bridges, and I do miss the people and places where I’ve left…that’s why I do re-visit “the past”. Call me sentimental if you wish, you can even call me something that pleases your ego, because you won’t have another opportunity to make that mistake.

Prompted by a recent event, I realized that once I’ve left a place, I’ve really left. This place is Toronto. Observations and experiences that same day mounted to something quite hurtful. The problem is with me though, as I still hold dear some of the friendships and relationships I once had. Surrounded by the same people, I am not who I once was, and you just don’t get it.

Because I care, I carry too much of the past with me, and it might be better to let go and move on. I may be tempted to look back from time to time – but I’ll save myself the journey. The math is simple – if I don’t go back, I could be twice as far in the direction of my dreams. If I don’t go back, maybe my mind, body, and heart will eventually arrive in one place.



Fresh Innocence

In Family on February 2, 2011 at 12:34 am

I’ve been quiet lately because I’ve had lots to do. We’ve all heard that one before – but no really, I have. January came and left just like that – wasn’t it supposed to be a quiet month after the holidays? Yet the holidays live on – by the time I finish this post, it will be New Year’s Eve for the year of the Hare.

I get a re-start. Lucky me.

For the 5th year in a row, it’s a new year without family. Although deep in my heart, I want to spend it in Toronto with a lady who is very special to me, it is likely that I’ll be working through the night in the music studio instead. FML, or rather, FJB.

A lot of people have rebellious natures, but I was stupid enough to act on mine. A lot of people have dreams, too, but I actually actively chase them – some people call it courageous, others call it daring, a few call it unrealistic, and pessimists have called it worse things. I don’t care, it’s the only way I’d live.

But there are prices to pay and there are consequences of choosing such a path – I became so caught up in my work, deadlines, and the “fight”, that I let the important bits of life slip on by. When it’s good, I feel on top of the world, but when it’s bad, I feel that life is running me. I can’t cave and withdraw now though – there is no fallback if I don’t look out for myself. There is so much build up, I can almost see the light. This year is critical.

Qui ne risque rien, n’a rien. Some go for the big fish, I have my eyes on the shark.

It flatters me immensely to think that someone would call me “Supergirl” – ever since I could remember, I idolized superman over any other being in this world. My fan-photo is proof. I believed in him then just as how my brother (DJ) believes in the tooth fairy now.

I don’t know if DJ really believes in the tooth fairy, or that he just believes in everything I say – something that touches me deeply, but the money under the pillow certainly helps the tale.

DJ recently lost another tooth, so he put it under his pillow, as he did with previous teeth that had fallen. The next day:

DJ: (in a sad tone) Mommy, you’re right, the tooth fairy must be too busy getting ready for the New Year, that she forgot to come 😦
Mom: (thinking: oh shoot, I forgot about it!) Er…yeah, it’s a very busy time of the year, so why don’t you go back to sleep and give the tooth fairy some more time?
DJ: Okay. *falls back to sleep

30 minutes (or so) later…

DJ: omg look! It’s a 50!!!
Oh really? A 50? That’s generous!
DJ: It’s New Years, of course she’d give me extra! (in Pinyin: dou guo nian le, hai bu duo gei diar ma!!)


I laugh at DJ, but I admire his innocence. It’s something we lose with time, so it is so endearing to see him this way.

But who am I kidding? I still believe in superheroes, they just go by names other than Clark Kent.

P.S. If you are Clark Kent, you should get to know me 😉