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Real life

| friends

I went to Michael McGuffin’s birthday party. I enjoy spending time
with him, his wife Alice, and their kids. There’s just that sense of
reality, of being human, of making that connection. It’s very
different from the high-energy tech or event-ish parties I sometimes
go to. It feels more intimate, more real. These are the friends in
front of whom you can be vulnerable, and because you can show them
your weaknesses, you also delight in sharing with them your joys.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter I wrote him:

One of the things that helped me get through all the
culture shock and the loneliness was that unreserved openness with
which you welcomed me. You took me into your life and into your circle
of friends. You made me feel at home. And you gave me quite a bit of
advice about graduate school, too.

I wish all the best for them. Seeing them reminded me that I need to
visit them more often. Maybe I should take Alice out for hot chocolate
and another massage… And I should bring back one of those pop song
books for her guitar-playing, too. Hmm…

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Stories from the NY trip

| friends

The e-ticket from the bus company said that people should arrive
twenty minutes early in order to keep their reservation priority. The
pickup point was 1.5 km from my residence. I was taking no chances,
though. If I missed the bus, I had no idea how I’d get to New York
without spending way too much on a plane ticket! I requested a cab for
5:00 AM (meep!), giving myself _plenty_ of time to get there.

Too much time, apparently.

As it turns out, waiting alone on the sidewalk at 5:10 in the morning
is nerve-wracking, even in Toronto. Toronto feels like a generally
safe city (compared to Manila, at least!), but I was still pretty
nervous. Someone with a thick Irish accent asked me for help getting
back to Oakville. I normally don’t give people money because, well, I
haven’t sorted out the best response to panhandlers yet, but I was
just so rattled that I gave him the smallest amount I had. Didn’t have
any coins, so I ended up giving him CAD 10. Fortunately, he headed off after that…

… but then I was sitting on the sidewalk, shivering, scared, and
more than a little worried that the bus might not actually show up.
After all, I wasn’t going with an established company like Greyhound.
Knowing that I’d charged it to Visa and could dispute the charge just
in case they scammed me was small comfort waiting there at 5:15 in the
morning with no bus in sight.

Waah.

And that was one of the times I felt really, really, really lucky to
have friends I can call at 5:17 in the morning.
Jedediah Smith lived closest to the
intersection. Although I knew he wasn’t really a morning person and
he’d probably need the sleep, I called him up anyway. I was starting
to get really nervous.

And he came, and that was awesome. =) We chatted for a bit before the
bus showed up. It turned out to be non-dodgy. Whew! But it was
wonderful having company. =)

Yay.

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Learning more about keeping in touch

| family, friends

I picked up a package from the front desk today. My mom had sent me a
box of Crane stationery, perhaps reminding me that I still owe her a
handwritten letter for my birthday. I have to admit: I’ve been
absolutely terrible at keeping in touch. I haven’t talked to my
barkada at home in ages, although I check LiveJournals once in a
while.

I need to set aside time for this. I’m missing out on people’s
stories, on the cool stuff that’s happening in their lives. I miss
hearing about my dad’s adventures and my sister’s colorful goings-on.
I miss listening to my mom’s insights and chatting with my barkada.

I should schedule that in. It’s at least as important as meeting my
research supervisor regularly or hanging out with my friends here. I’d
like that time to be less about me telling them stories or asking for
advice and more about me listening to their stories. My mom doesn’t
blog, so that’s the only way I’ll get to hear about Ginger and Adphoto
and all of these other things…

(Which reminds me – I still owe them the map thing.)

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The Secret

Posted: - Modified: | friends, happy, purpose

On the walk back toward Greg’s Ice Cream for post-sushi dessert, Simon received an invitation from Shane to join him and a few friends for The Secret, a motivational video about the power of positive thinking. Although I had been looking forward to getting to know Richard and the rest of the folks over ice cream in
the continuation of Quinn’s birthday party, I also felt that it would be good to join Simon for this. It was a good decision. Not only did I have the unexpected pleasure of reconnecting with Bryan Pickle (whom I had met at one of Mike Fletcher’s parties), but the video was thought-provoking.

Not that the ideas proposed in the video were new to me. I take it practically for granted that you see what you’re looking for. The video was flashy and fast-paced, although you’ll probably want to skip the pretentious first sequence and mentally edit out some of the more over-the-top effects. Despite the distractions, though, I managed to still my mind enough to attend to the video, collecting stories, gleaning insights, and reflecting on my own experiences.

There was a short lull after the video ended, then everyone else dug into the almost-forgotten fruits. I stayed still, turning the thoughts over in my head, permitting silence to fill in the gaps and listening to how I felt instead of immediately putting things into words. This was perhaps strange to the friends who were there. Shane asked me if I
didn’t like the movie. Lara agreed that everyone could probably find examples of experiences that fit, and the conversation went on – but still I kept quiet, reflecting.

A few hours earlier and I could have channeled the energy of passion and excitement into the discussion, matching the tone of Shane and Lara’s voices, but I was in a serene mood. I haven’t yet connected with either Shane or Lara on that level, when the silences are comfortable and one speaks when moved to. I’ve been that way with Quinn, and Jed, and Simon – yes, Simon has his calm moments, hard as that may be to believe. <laugh>

Serenity. Those who know me primarily for my enthusiasm and who have mainly seen me on the sugar-high I get on life usually worry the first time they see me in one of my calm moods, and even those who know me well often ask me if I’m feeling down. (Trust me, if I were feeling down, you’d know!) Serenity is that quiet stillness within me and the space I create in order to discern.

And now, hours later, I have a better understanding of how I feel.

I agree with the gist of the video: the mind is powerful, our attitude shapes our life, and our feelings and intuition give us a good way to sense how well we’re doing.

However, thinking about it, I’ve come to realize that it is not the full secret of my life. What thesecret.tv describes is not my philosophy or my way of living. There is something different, something missing…

Ah. Here is a gap. The video focuses on receiving, but does not describe the great joy I have in giving. The video describes visualizing a goal, but I also love discerning a path. The video talks about uplifting the self, but my desires go beyond myself.

In order to serve, I must take care of myself, of course. I can’t help people if I am miserable; joy comes from joy. But I am confident that if I listen and extend myself, the universe will nourish me. It always has.

I do not need to manifest anything into my life. Happiness is not something that is in my future, a puzzle with jigsaw pieces that I have to find and assemble. It is simply now. I have an abundance of opportunities, and my job is to explore them. It’ll be *tons* of fun!

I ask the universe for some things, but in general the I come across opportunities before I even know to ask for them. If I am to receive anything, I ask for the discernment to see the best things to do at a moment, the beauty in each instant, and the ways to help people explore their potential.

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Quinn’s birthday party – all-you-can-eat sushi!

| friends, party

Quinn celebrated her 22nd birthday party at Mariko Sushi (851 Bloor St
W), which has a decent all-you-can-eat menu for CAD 14.99 (~ 20 with
tax and tip). It was a wonderful evening of round-robin discussions as
we introduced different aspects of ourselves. We started by giving our
names and our favorite type of sushi. Fan asked what our official job
titles were, then I asked people to talk about one of their non-geeky
aspects. Each (re)introduction spawned other conversation, and I
really enjoyed getting to know everyone at the table a little more
deeply.

It was a good party held in honor of a great friend. =)

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Trying something new

Posted: - Modified: | friends, party

I’ve decided to do something about my media deficit. ;) Yesterday, we
did a trial run of a video party. As usual, we went through several
alternate plans. It was lots of fun, though!

Plan A: Use the common TV room in the basement. Unfortunately, it was closed.

Plan B: Use the second-floor TV area. No DVD player.

Plan C: Use the second-floor TV area and hook up Simon Ditner‘s laptop to it. We had the right cable (you gotta love geeks with cables!), but couldn’t figure out how to select the video input.

Plan D: Use the projector Roger Yang brought and beam the video onto the wall of my living room. THe projector speakers turned out to be fairly good, so we didn’t need external speakers. (Good thing, too, as I didn’t know where I could find speakers.)

Plan D1: Watch Aardvark’d, a video about software development. The DVD that Jedediah Smith burned had problems, though.

Plan D2: Watch the music videos that Quinn Fung brought. Michael Gondry did the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I enjoyed. The music videos were terrific. =)

Definitely mind-expanding, and not a bad beta party. We’ll do that
again sometime!

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Snakes on a Plane!

| friends

Watched Snakes on a Plane with Leigh Honeywell, Quinn Fung, Jedediah Smith, and Seth Hardy last night. Tons of fun, particularly with the audience participation bits. The movie itself was as cheesy as expected, but hey, it wasn’t about the film: it was about the meta-humor…

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