Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dear Kingston, I'm Not An International Student

After an eventful evening at Zappas Lounge the other night, it took forever to hail a cab. Forever. I can't explain to all of you how excruciatingly cold it was. And so, resigned to the fact that it would take 20 minutes for a cab to arrive, we hurried into Mac's Convenience Store at the corner of Clarence Street and Ontario Street to warm up. Trust me, we needed warmth. Fast.

(Pretending) to look around for something to purchase, we wandered around until we caught sight of a girl watching us curiously. She didn't look that much older than us. In fact, if I had to guess, I`d say she was in her second year at Queen's.

Staring at us transfixed, the girl slowly walked forward, cocked her head to the side, eyes opened wide, and stopped directly in front of us to say the following:
"Oh my goodness, you girls look so... exotic looking. Are you international students?"
Hi. Martin Luther King Jr. just called. He wants a word with you.

At first, I didn't know how to react. Actually, I wandered off for a few minutes to giggle uncontrollably to myself before I went back. I know it wasn't a laughing matter, but I couldn't believe she was equating the colour of our skin to an automatic assumption that we were of the ~foreign visiting kind~

News Flash. Coloured people are born in Canada too!

She then continued with the following gem:
"Wow, your accents are really good. Where did you learn how to speak English? How do you like Canada? I know the weather isn't the greatest for ethnic people."
Oh, dear Superior One. You're incredibly perceptive. You're right, English was tough to learn for a yellow immigrant girl like me. Sometimes, I still pause during conversations to pull out my trusty English Dictionary. Lasting legacies of ESL class, you know? Don't worry, I'll do you proud and learn Western colloquialisms one day. Once I get over my inferiority complex over my thick Asian Chinese accent, of course. Also, I eat rice, perpetually use chopsticks as my primary utensil, constantly flash the peace sign in every picture, and scrub my skin with lemon juice every night so I could be as white as you.

Uh. In case you were wondering, that was sarcasm.

Back to my story. So after a few minutes, we realized that our cab would be at Mac's any minute. Thinking that the girl was out of earshot, my friend Shellane was confused. She didn`t know whether to be shocked or amused. Please, you don't get this treatment in Toronto. "She thinks we're international students because we look like this!" she marvelled in horror, pointing to her own skin. Yes, Shellane. She really did.

Okay, in all honesty, I wasn`t offended, really. I don`t think any of us were. We honestly didn`t know what to think. It`s not like we get this treatment often, particularly since we`re from Toronto. However, I suppose I can see where she`s coming from. Apart from the student community surrounding Queens` immediate area, Kingston isn`t the most diverse city out there. And, common sense speaking, what you don`t know or don`t see often can naturally, genuinely be perceived as foreign. Mind you, I`m not condoning behaviour that`s even borderline racist nor am I condoning ignorance. But I suppose, playing devil`s advocate, I understand where ignorance stems from, which is why I don`t think I was offended in the situation above. The lack of awareness, the lack of knowing still exists in smaller cities. And how can you know about something you don`t know about? You know what I mean?

It`s interesting when behaviour like this happens. I`m taking a Canadian Politics field course this semester, and the readings each week have all, in some way, touched on the idea of diversity and accommodating differences in Canada. I love the popular conception of Canada as a diverse, multicultural, cultural mosaic that recognizes and appreciates differences no matter where you end up in this country. But truthfully, while there are regions that reflect this cultural mosaic, others are beyond homogeneous. And it`s interesting to see differing approaches to diversity, even within my own province. But that`s just me rambling. I`m sure there`s more to this that I haven`t touched on, but I`m tired and I haven`t slept in a few days.

While some people perceive the numbers of immigrants in our country as a detriment, multiculturalism can also be our greatest strength. So let`s all be aware of our diverse backgrounds, hesitate when approaching stereotypes, and be sensitive and understanding of our differences, yes?

P.S. Oh, right. By the way, Kingston, for the millionth time, contrary to visual stereotypical indications, I'm not Chinese. I'm Filipino. Please learn the difference. Perhaps that'll stop you from approaching me at the Grizzly Grill with advances of "Chinese? Chinese? Ni Hao!" Also, I'm not a fan of sushi, fried shrimp, or anything remotely resembling seafood. Does that take care of all the Asian stereotypes?

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
- Maya Angelou

"Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were."
- Cherie Carter-Scott

"Irony is when we smile at those we despise, and engage in bitter arguments with those we love dearly."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Second Semester At Queen's - Initial Thoughts

After spending each day of Christmas break blogging, it's a bit of a change not having the time to blog regularly since school started. But, alas, work calls. And as the second week of classes for our second semester draws to a close, I've formed an early opinion of what this semester will look like.

I decided late last week which classes I would keep (shopping around for classes is serious business), and as I attended these classes for the second time today, I came to the conclusion that I made the right choices.

Yet despite my confidence that I've chosen courses that fit my interests best, I'll admit, I'm already drowning in work. In piles and piles and piles and piles of work. I wince at the thought of a research essay worth 70% of my mark. But, here's an admission I never thought I'd make.

(Sorry. I'm about to enthusiastically rave about school again).

I really don't mind this massive workload. In fact, to tell you all the truth, I'm excited about it. Mind you, I'm not thrilled to the depths of my soul about the thought of reading 500 pages a week on top of tutorial preparation, marking, essay research, MRP research, etcetera, etcetera. But I don't mind the workload because I know I'll enjoy what I'll be reading, what I'll be teaching, and most importantly, what I'll be researching.

And isn't doing what we like to do a blessing in itself?

And so, I'll make this second admission. I'll admit, my excitement about second semester is inextricably linked to my research topics this term. Don't laugh. I really, really like what I'm researching. So much that I've decided to share these topics with all of you. Hah.

It boggles my mind how how interesting, how absolutely fascinating these topics are. Research isn't just a tedious, tiring process about a topic you had to pick. When you find something you want to study, it becomes exciting. So fascinating. And exciting. And so, here I am, on the verge of beginning the research process. But I'm having a bit of trouble trying to figure out where to start (moreso for the first topic than the second). If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

TOPIC 1: Cocaine
Okay, so. We've all had classes in undergrad that we notoriously labelled as that other course. The course we're taking for the sake of a credit, for the sake of a good mark, for the sake of taking just because of limited choices. Luckily, limited choices weren't an issue with me. And while two of my courses this semester focus largely on Canadian politics, my "third course" has proven to be surprisingly interesting and... different.

Forget the traditional research paper. Forget that argumentative, research-based formula you're so used to. Instead, get this. For this particular course, we have the pleasure of picking any product in Kingston and studying its production and consumption. Anything! Anything you can buy in Kingston!

Which product should I choose? I've been torn about my choice all week. I couldn't decide between tracking the production and consumption process of Canada Goose jackets (especially black market ones), illicit drugs (ex. marijuana and/or cocaine), or babies (specifically the adoption process and the costs incurred when becoming an adoptive parent).

I'm leaning towards cocaine. Studying it, I mean. Hah. From its growth and production in South America, to the organized crime groups that disperse it, to its arrival in different countries. To its consumption. Everywhere. Interesting, right? Delving deep into the implications of gender and class differences in the production and distribution of cocaine globally should be exciting. Exciting, I tell you!

TOPIC 2: Women, Politics, the Philippines
The Philippines and the United States both have presidential systems. Yet while the Philippines has already elected two female presidents, the United States hasn't. Why?

Since I was younger, I always wondered about this curious phenomenon. In a Southeast Asian country built on patriarchal, small c conservative norms, why has there been a prevalence of female political engagement and representation? I may have an inkling as to a possible answer. But I'm excited to find out other possible reasons. Interesting, right?

Okay, I'm done rambling about research topics now. But really, can you see why I'm so excited about second semester? Quite honestly, I couldn't have asked for better classes that give me the foundation to study these topics. Topping that off with fascinating studies in Canadian Politics, I'm drooling in love for academia. I know I was a bit harsh the other day in my critique of academics. But aside from that, this is what we love doing. And I'm so happy that we're all on the verge of finding topics that we're excited about. Here's to an awesome semester!

"It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, feels the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed, is you."
- The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Confessions of A Jaded Grad Student - The World of Academia

I probably won't gain many friends with this post. In fact, I'll probably get some disgruntled, annoyed comments or rebuttals on the complaints I have below. But frankly, I would rather have these comments hit the spot than have this behaviour continue without some kind of rebuke. Also, note this post's lack of an apologetic disclaimer. It was intentional.

This isn't the first time I've complained about pretentious academics. See: Complaint 1 and Complaint 2. It wasn't until recently, however, that I realized these complaints are moot. They're useless. Despite my hopes that attitudes can change, they don't. And so, I've decided to give up hoping. Why hang on to my idealistic conceptions of open-minded, kind academics when, really, there are too many who are otherwise?

I entered the world of academia with the hope that what I experienced this past summer (see blog posts linked above) were rare occurrences. That the irritatingly self-righteous individuals I met above were a minority among more open-minded, humble individuals I could learn from.

But I was wrong. And in retrospect, I should have seen it coming. I've come to realize that when people *know* things, they automatically think that their perspectives are the only way others should think. Now, I'd like to point out that I don't want to generalize these comments to all disciplines or to every single academic out there. Instead, I'd like to express my frustrations about behaviour that I see way too much of. It actually sickens me to see how many people hold themselves up on a pedestal when it comes to matters they think they're "experts" on.

There's nothing wrong with knowing things. With being intelligent. With having great ideas. In fact, I'm in awe of you and your knowledge. But there is something wrong with being self-righteous about your intelligence.

If there is anything this blog post would like to convey, it's this. No matter how high your GPA is, no matter how intelligent you think you are, you have no right to make fun of other individuals' political inclinations or opinions. You have no right to believe your way is the only way. Because if it was, we'd already know what world peace looks like. You have no right to roll your eyes at people you think are below you. You have no right to snipe about people you don't identify with. You have no right to provide backhanded insults on perspectives your disapprove of. You have no right to be disrespectful to people whose perspectives you don't share. You have no right to stop listening to people who you don't agree with. Here's a thought. How about listening to what people have to say for a change? Because while you may think that your own political perspectives are OMGTHEONLYWAYTOSAVETHEWORLD, here's a reality check. Even if you are the most brilliant mind in the world, no one will work with you if you behave like a close-minded, insulting, insensitive academic. Whatever happened to respectful academic discourse?

I've seen too much of this behaviour among those in academia, even during my time at UofT. And it's disheartening. And after hearing some of these people's comments, I actually want to puke.

How about a piece of humble pie, yea? And while this title dubs me as a jaded grad student, I'll end here on a positive note. I know academics can be good, kind, accepting people. I've met individuals here at Queen's who I've come to love, to adore, to call my friends. But there are others who don't understand this lesson: It isn't just about your ideas. It's about the type of person you are. Kindness and the ability to work well with other people is also important in your quest to learn about our world. How about excercising more of that positive behaviour?

On second thought, I take back my admission (above) to stop hoping. Instead, I'll leave you all with this last message of hope. Call me naive, but I'll hang on to the hope that we can learn from each other in a respectful, kind manner. That we can continue on with respectful, peaceful academic discourse free of negative sniping and backhanded insults. Because really, isn't that the ideal we're all hoping for?

"Intelligence should be like underwear. Everyone should have it, but no one should be showing it off."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Asian Parent - Understanding The Behaviours & Motivations

Disclaimer: If this blog post offends any of you, I apologize. It isn`t everyday that I step beyond my usual bounds of neutrality, but this topic has been a long time coming. Secondly, stereotypes discussed in this post do not, of course, apply to every single Asian parent. Instead, this post is directed to those that do exhibit these behaviours. Lastly, I don`t mean to racialize this behaviour. I`m merely focusing on the stereotype exhibited by a community I`ve grown up in, a community that I personally know.

A few months ago, towards the end of the summer, my mother came home fuming. She was so angry that you could see the smoke spewing out of her ears. That afternoon, she had spent the last few hours at a local tea shop, having afternoon tea with several friends. Unfortunately, their conversation wasn`t as pleasant as the venue they chose. In fact, their conversation was downright vile.

Casually, one of the women asked my mother what I would be doing in school this year. To which my mother responded the brief yadda-yadda-yadda about Queen`s. Done. You would think that would be the end of it, right? That my mother would, in turn, ask about the woman`s daughter. That the women would laugh pleasantly about how super awesome education is. No big deal, right?

Except this particular woman exhibited behaviour that annoys me the most. The behaviour that Asian parents are stereotypically known for. And so, while my mother had tea, this same woman began to complain about my education. For the next ten minutes, she told my mother, in front of several other women, how law school and grad school are the easiest programs to get into. She continued with the following gem:
"Why is your daughter going to law school? Oh my god, anyone can get into that. That`s such an easy program. Is she stupid? My daughter goes to Ryerson, and her program is so hard to get into. Why doesn`t your daughter go to Ryerson too? She isn`t very smart if she`s going to grad school."
Uh. What? Please tell that to the thousands upon thousands of students rejected from law school each year. How do you even respond to that? Awkward silence ensued.

At another function, my parents were chatting with several other parents. Jokingly, my mother teased another mother, asking if her son had a girlfriend yet (all in good fun, of course). No harm to joke about the romantic relationships of youth, right? Well, no. Defensively, the mother shook her head in disdain, responding with the greatest of all airs:
"My son is only 23. He doesn`t have a girlfriend because he`s actually focused on his goals."
Uh. What? So... you can`t be in a relationship and have goals? Are these two situations mutually exclusive? Are we in some parallel universe here? We later found out that her son did indeed have a girlfriend, his mother knew about her, but outright lied to everyone at this party. Why? Didn`t you know? A teenager who has a girlfriend or boyfriend is known to be someone who isn`t focused on being successful. The parents are, in turn, looked down on.

To really understand what went on in the scenarios above, I need to point out the following. For those who haven`t grown up in this kind of environment, let me say this in the most blunt language possible. The Asian community cares about image. This statement isn`t intended to sound pretentious. In fact, it`s as frank as I can get. While conservative values usually comprise the environment we`ve grown up in, there`s another dimension to the behaviours of the families and individuals who make up this community. You need to look good in front of other people. That`s the bottom line. Your kids need to be successful. Taking piano lessons. In a good school. Your kids need to have good grades or else the family looks bad. It`s a pretty big deal. In addition to all this, One Upper Parents can also exist. Parents who feel the need to brag a bit more to look better than another set of parents. It`s both complicated and simple to understand.

And so, while my mother came home angry that afternoon above, subsequently relaying the story to me while we ate dinner, I was most fascinated with the fact that, while she was a psycho, we understood why this woman acted the way she did.

To others, she would have come across as psychotic. But to us, she came across as a defender of a family she needs to protect and promote. Asian parents (and their children) are under tremendous pressure from their respective social circles, communities, and extended families. Your children need to be in university. To dress well. To have good grades. To be successful. To be beautiful. To advance towards a great career. The Filipino community in particular is notorious for this behaviour.

I understand why they do this, and while I don`t agree with their attitudes and behaviours, I can`t fault them for it. How can I? When it`s the type of behaviour and social perception this community has always known? I don`t agree with the way they behave. But I know why they do it. And I understand.

And while this entire blog post unsettles me, the main idea I`d like to get across is that there are implications of culture on the behaviours of generations upon generations of Asian families immigrating to Canada from different parts of the world. Culture matters (Wow. I sound like a Professor I had last semester. Those in Comparative Development know who I`m referring to). Different groups see the world from specific cultural lenses, and it affects their behaviour, the way they interact with others, and really, their way of life.

And while many who aren`t part of this community won`t understand the ideas I`ve discussed above, who may conceive these values as archaic, reactionary garbage, I would beg to differ. I understand where these people are coming from. And while we can`t change these attitudes right now, I have hope for future generations who don`t rely as much on cultural perceptions of the world to interact with others in their community. I have hope for my generation. But only time will tell if these hopes are futile.

"If only closed minds came with closed mouths."
- Nicole Aitoro

"Let no man pull you so low as to make you hate him."
- Booker T. Washington

Monday, January 10, 2011

Grad School Applications - Cash Grab Costs Yet Valuable Benefits

Please give me a moment. I'm sitting in a corner drowning my sorrows in a bowl of ice cream. It may be the last one I'll be having for awhile. Horrified, I've created a list of all the things I'll have to give up this month. The harsh reality of potentially giving up my daily Starbucks intake is sinking in. Tragedy, oh the tragedy.

Why am I painting a picture so an bleak existence that even Starbucks isn't in it? It's January. And as a result, we're right in the middle of grad school and law school application season. And while we're all eager to write our personal statements raving about how we can save the world, something less exciting happens when we click Submit. We have to pay.

I've calculated that I'll be spending about $850 on law school applications this month. This includes the application fees, transcript fees to have my transcript printed with the university seals at both the University of Toronto and at Queen's, postage (especially for my international parcels), and other miscellaneous yet related expenses. This is, of course, on top of how much money has been spent on my law school endeavours this past year. The LSAT fees, the LSDAS application fees, grad school application fees last year, LSAT preparation fees, material fees. The list could go on. Law school and graduate school application fees have cost us so much money. And this is, of course, on top of the tuition we will be paying if we are accepted.

Dear University, I'm just a lowly Masters student. I'm not made of money, nor do I make much. I'd just like to be at peace with my daily London Fog, with food to eat, a good book to read, and the peace of mind knowing that I'll be attending law school in September. Is that really too much to ask?

Crawling to our parents to foot the bill can be one option when the going gets tough. But saddling the cost on people we're dependent on still leaves me unsettled. In principle, and in the name of independence, I'd really like to know why this entire process is so costly? Why do I need to pay almost $100 per law school I apply to? You read that correctly, that's per school. That's a month's worth of groceries for me. Clearly, I will be living off yogurt this month.

Why is it so expensive? Please. I sincerely want to know where my money is going.

Yet despite my complaints, I'd like to consider our dilemmas from another point of view.

Despite the bleak picture I've just painted for all of you (yes, again, that's almost $100 per law school), you can call me naive when I say that I'll accept this bleak reality with a hope and appreciation of what's to come. While many friends have dismissed grad school applications as an "ultimate cash grab" (and I don't deny that it is or might be), I'll choose to see it differently. In a more optimistic fashion.

I may be eating yogurt for the next month, but in the greater scheme of things, these hundreds of dollars invested are spent for good reason. Hundreds of dollars invested towards our futures, invested into applying for programs that can lead us to careers we'll enjoy and love. And at the end of the day, aren't these careers the reason we're applying in the first place?

I'm not saying that these costs are excusable or acceptable, but complaints aside (and I've complained a lot), we will be paying for these applications. Whether we like it or not. So let's make like optimistic pragmatists and turn our attentions away from the bleak realities of forking over the dinero. Let's realize that all this money will be worth it in the long run. Let's keep in mind that there are promising benefits to these costs.

It can be hard, but let's stay positive, my friends! Really, it'll do our heads and hearts more good to look at the more desirable, more satisfying aspects of our situation. Happy Applying!

"It's a funny thing about life. If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it."
- W. Somerset Maugham

Day 6 - Beloved Pets - The 30 Day Blog Challenge

Day 6 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge requires me to discuss beloved pets. And yet, I can't do so without a heavy heart. Allow me to describe my tragic story.


Day 6 – A photo of an animal you'd like to keep as a pet

Yes, my friends. That is White Fang. Am I the only one who watched this cartoon when we were younger? I have yet to find someone who shares a love for this cartoon. The Legend of White Fang, created in 1992, was a cartoon that followed the adventures of a young girl who befriends a wolf-husky mix on Alaskan Klondike territory. Together, they explore the wilderness, and encounter many dangers along the way. But while danger perpetually existed, White Fang stuck to Wendy as her loyal follower, protector, and friend.

Seriously, such an awesome cartoon! I remember munching on my Wheaties every morning watching this show.

Friends, I had my own little White Fang... but not quite. When I was four years old, my parents brought home a bunny. I know, so cute, right? This picture is the closest I could find that resembled how she looked like. I loved her so much that I spent quite a long time deliberating on what to name her. After a few days, I aptly named her Bunny. Clearly, I was a creative child.

I absolutely loved Bunny, so much that I'd even sneak out little snacks to feed her when no one was looking. Apparently, my four-year old self had no idea that crackers wouldn't be the best snack to feed tiny Bunny. However, we soon learned something even more tragic. My Dad found it strange that Bunny never made a sound, and never seemed to move. Ever. After a quick visit to the vet, my parents broke the news. Bunny was mute, deaf, and blind. And after a few months, Bunny tragically passed away. It was a terrible day for my four-year old self. I didn't quite understand what happened to Bunny. All I knew was that she was gone. And I loved her.

And so, if I ever had to choose a pet to have, I'd be torn between two choices. A wolf-husky mix who sticks closer to me than a brother a la White Fang (clearly, my cartoon watching has left me with grand expectations about loyal huskies. Are there even such things as wolf-huskies in real life?). Or a pet that reminds me of my first Bunny love. Both options would be more than enough to satisfy me.

I'm sorry, I didn't mean for this to be a depressing blog post. Forgive my walk down pet memory lane, my friends? Let's end on a happy note. Pet owners, please give your respective animals a huge, huge, huge hug for me. Please and thank you!

"Life is too ironic to fully understand. It takes sadness to know what happiness is. Noise to appreciate silence. And absence to value presence."

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Back In Kingston - Excitement For A New Semester

Skating, skating, skating!

As I write this blog post, I cannot feel my toes. Or my fingers, for that matter. And so, please forgive my poor grammar. Or any spelling errors that may occur as a result of my fingers' lack of mobility. Why am I semi-frozen, wrapped up in three layers of clothing, pulling on a third layer of socks, you ask? Let's backtrack a bit.

This morning, at the crazy hour of 7:30 am, my Coach bus departed from the Toronto bus terminal, en route to Kingston. Awesome. This meant that my parents and I had to leave our house by 6:15 am to ensure that we'd get there in time. Dragging myself out of bed this morning with barely four hours of sleep was not an easy task. And even the thought of hauling my monstrous suitcases home once I got to Kingston was enough to give me a mild migraine. And so, once the bus hit the Kingston terminal, I resolved to take a cab. And I did, arriving in Kingston bright and early this morning. Woot.

While I was super upset that the break went by so quickly, that I had to leave home when I really really didn't want to, I suppose being back isn't so bad. Why? Because arriving in Kingston has me excited about the following possibilities.

1) SOURCE OF EXCITEMENT #1: OH.MY.GOSH. It's a dream come true. As I walked to Starbucks this afternoon (after the nightmare of unpacking), I stopped in my tracks when I realized that there's a skating rink at Vic Park. What! What! A skating rink just a few blocks away from home? No way! And if that wasn't enough, it gets better. There's also a skating rink by city hall, just a few minutes away from campus!

I was so excited that I resolved to go skating every evening this week, even if it means skating alone. Yes, I'm crazy. But it's early in the term. Ergo, our work hasn't piled up yet. I should take advantage of this free time, no?

And so, I took a break from work this evening to go skating by city hall with my housemate. The good news? It isn't Nathan Phillips Square, but the rink is beautiful, and I loved it. The bad news? It was cold. Really, really, cold. And that is why I'm frozen in bed at the moment, lamenting the state of my frozen fingers and toes. Ah, well, enduring the weather was worth it. I'll just have to dress warmer next time.

I'm so happy that we have a skating rink just a few minutes away from home! I need to take advantage of how close it is. I'll just have have to, um, make sure I dress warmer next time. This I-think-I-may-have-frostbite business doesn't feel too great.

2) SOURCE OF EXCITEMENT #2: Tomorrow marks the first day of class, and I must say, I'm pretty excited about the course I'm attending tomorrow. Actually, I'm extremely excited about all my courses this semester. While there is a possibility that I may switch one course, I'm really satisfied with my schedule this semester (two days of class a week!), particularly since I'll be taking a course outside my department at the School of Policy Studies. So much new material to learn, so many interesting books and articles to read!

Okay, the books and readings part doesn't sound so appealing on paper (and I'm sure I'll be complaining about them later), but I'm so glad to have the opportunity to learn under some pretty awesome instructors, to learn material that I haven't had a chance to study before. It's going to be a great semester!

3) SOURCE OF EXCITEMENT #3: This is a really minor issue to get excited about. But I'm excited anyway. Many who know me are aware of my indescribable love for London Fogs. I perpetually crave tea lattes. And so, how excited was I to find out that, from January 7 - 16, Starbucks is having a 50% sale on ALL their tea lattes from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily?

As if I wasn't at Starbucks enough before, I may now just have to live there.

There are so many things to be excited about. It's a semester of new classes, new classmates, new teachers, law school applications, and other memorable activities and events that I'm sure we'll all enjoy. While I initially wasn't happy to come back, in retrospect, I'm glad I'm here. Home will always have my heart, but I suppose Kingston can have a part of it too. New year, new semester, time to get excited!

"I said to my child, I will explain to you as much about life as I can, but you must remember that there is a part of life for which you are the explanation."
- Robert Braul

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.”
- Flora Whittemore

“This is my wish for you: comfort on difficult days, smiles when sadness intrudes, laughter to kiss your lips, sunsets to warm your heart, hugs when spirits sag, beauty for your eyes to see, friendships to brighten your being, faith so that you can believe, confidence for when you doubt, courage to know yourself, patience to accept the truth. And love to complete your life.”

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Packing For Kingston - The End of Christmas Break

The usual packing situation. Sigh.

Friends, the end is near. The end of relaxation. The end of sleeping in. The end of doing absolutely nothing. The end of sweet, sweet stress-free bliss.

I guess I'm being a little dramatic. Okay, maybe a lot. But I thought I'd sit here and grudgingly write this blog post in acceptance of the fact that I'll be heading back to Kingston this weekend. Christmas break is almost over, and come Monday, it's back to class, back to the office, back to drowning myself in an insane amount of readings, back to the usual swing of things.

Boo. I don't want to go back.

And so, I'm dragging my feet, buying time before I have to grudgingly face the task of packing. I have a lot of stuff to bring back to Kingston, and I have no idea how I'll be lugging my monstrous suitcases from the Coach bus terminal to my Kingston home. In addition to winter gear, winter boots, and other necessary items (my skates!), my mother has decided to cook up a storm and will be sending me back to school with enough food to last me till June.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. But it's a lot of food. If nothing else, if I end up in a ditch somewhere in Kingston, trying to lug my suitcases home, at least I won't starve.

I've had such a fantastic Christmas break. My parents and I attended an awesome Christmas Eve party, enjoyed the company of family with Christmas dinner at our house. I rang in the New Year in an unusual yet memorable fashion. I had the pleasure of spending time with my dearest friends, from coffee dates, to lunches, to dinners, to shopping trips, to hang-out sessions and adventures that I've missed so much. My parents and I also had the chance to squeeze in a number of family dates to the movies (The King's Speech. Watch it), to the mall, to restaurants where I happily stuffed my face.

Wahhhhhhh. I don't want to go back! Don't make me! Everything I know and everyone I love is right here. At home. And yet I'm leaving it all once again.

Sigh. Okay. I'm done. No more whining. I have one last Starbucks coffee date tomorrow morning with Paula and Lenita, and one last event to play piano for on Saturday. Then it's goodbye until I'm back for Reading Week.

I assure you, I will be wearing this frown all the way back to Kingston. How did these three weeks pass by so quickly? I haven't even left home yet, and I'm already homesick. Goodbye, Christmas Break! And it's been a lovely break indeed, my friends. Till next time!

"Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy."
- Joseph Campbell

"I don't believe you have to be better than everybody else. I believe you have to be better than you ever thought you could be."
- Ken Venturi

DAY 5 - My Favourite Quote - The 30 Day Blog Challenge

Ah. Day 5 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge requires me to share my favourite quote today. This should be easy.

Dear readers, you may have noticed that all my blog posts are followed by a quote of some sort, much of it a result of a certain hobby a friend and I took up in high school. We've long since been avid collectors of quotes and passages we've read and liked. I know, I just revealed yet another part of my nerdy self. So I'll spare you all the details of my nerdy hobbies, and move on sharing my three favourite quotes.



"It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of
thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to
live that our death brings no pleasure on the world."
- John Steinbeck

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything,
but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do something that I can do."
- Helen Keller

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen:
not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”
- C.S. Lewis

I don't think these quotes need much explanation. Call them corny, but they hold some sentimental value (in addition to being valuable in other ways). In Grade 4, a few days before a major ballet recital, my teacher gave me a book as a gift, full of different quotes and passages that she thought I'd enjoy. Back then, she was convinced that I'd be a writer of some sort one day. It was so nice of her. And all three of the above quotes were in the book she gave me, ones I read before I headed to the dance studio the next day. To this day, I'm still quite fond of these quotes, and the book still rests on my bookshelf, yellowed with age but still in great condition. Their sentimental value, in addition to a number of other reasons, is a reason why I love the quotes above. I could go on and on about them, but let's just leave it at that.

P.S. That's a Gerber Daisy in the picture above. Aren't they lovely?

"It is true that we are weak and sick and ugly and quarrelsome. But if that is all we ever were, we would millenniums ago have disappeared from the face of the earth."
- John Steinbeck

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Special Friend Sarah - Thoughts on Cerebral Palsy Awareness

On Monday afternoon, I had the pleasure of going figure skating with a little girl I've been tutoring for almost four years now.

For the sake of privacy, I won't use her real name on this blog post. Today, let's just call her Sarah.

I couldn't wait to see Sarah while I was home for the holidays. Moving to Kingston has left her without a tutor (sob), and I wanted to spend time with her before I left.

And so, we headed to a local skating rink, played tag-you're-it! around the ice, and took a gazillion pictures. Because anyone who knows me well is familiar with my penchant for taking pictures. All. The. Time. You can always depend on me to whip out my camera for a photo-op at any occasion.

But, friends, there's something you should know.

My little friend Sarah is a tad different from other girls her age. I met her when I was nineteen, working as a camap counsellor for a summer camp catering to children with special needs and disabilities.

Sarah can't speak or walk on her own. Actually, she can barely move on her own. She is completely confined to her wheelchair unless someone moves her, and she can't carry on a conversation with words. She has to depend on others to eat, drink, write. She depends on others to feed her, needs 100% support in the bathroom. She can't communicate with others unless she uses certain electronics with programmed sentences and words to get her thoughts across.

Sarah has suffered from cerebral palsy since she was a young girl, affecting her physical development and, by association, her motor skills.

But while Sarah is limited physically, I refuse to believe that she isn't capable of learning or being social. After tutoring her for four years, I know she's a smart girl. I know she can read. I know she's capable of learning math. I know she's interested in learning Science, French, Geography, History, and other subjects. She's an incredibly intelligent girl.

And yet her brilliance is rarely recognized by her teachers, many who have long since given up on her as an impossible case. A little girl too limited physically to ever be treated as a regular student. Instead, they leave her with little "art projects" all day, too impatient to provide her with actual work.

But Sarah isn't as different as others think she is. She's just like any other little girl. She loves Hannah Monatana. She loves the colour pink. She loves wearing dresses, painting, watching movies. She loves music and parties. She loves and wants friends.

Last year, I remember asking her how her first day of school went, and she refused to smile. Instead, a single tear rolled down her cheek. Without words, I knew exactly how she felt. Her mother told me later that no one approached her at recces, and didn't make many friends on her first day.

I've grown to love Sarah and her family over the years I've spent tutoring her. I've tutored her brother, and spent time with her mother, gradually learning about the impact of disabilities on the families of these children. I've watched her mother cry in grief over the treatment of her daughter. I've watched her brother shrink back to the sidelines, allowing all the attention to rest on his sister. I've watched them discuss their financial circumstances. Sarah's situation requires her to have several expensive wheelchairs and equipment. Yet much of it isn't subsidized.

It breaks my heart to see her treated so negatively by her teachers and peers. Because while she's a little different physically, she shouldn't be treated like a social pariah.

My friends, if there's anything this story should tell you, it's this. I want to point out that there are a number of little girls and boys just like Sarah, desiring to be understood. And, most importantly, desiring to have friends. People who are aware that there are many children limited physically who just wish someone would spend some time with them. To chat about school, about the latest movies, the latest fashion trends.

We can't change the world. Nor can we magically give Sarah a voice or the ability to walk. Many of us don't have the credentials to research a cure for cerebral palsy. But we can be aware of Sarah's desire to be loved and, most importantly, accepted. And we have the capability to be what children like Sarah desire the most: to be their friends and to understand them beyond how they look physically.

For more information about becoming a volunteer for children with intellectual disabilities, contact your local Community Living location. They always need volunteers! :)

"The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not healing, not curing. That is a friend who cares."
- Henri Nouwen

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."
- T. E. Lawrence

DAY 4 - My Favourite Book - The 30 Day Blog Challenge

According to Day 4 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge, I should discuss my favourite book. Awesome. But as per usual, I can't just pick one. Those who know me well are fully aware of my indecisive ways.

And so, I've come up with a list of four books that I'm incredibly fond of. They aren't the literary classics you'd expect, nor are they overly popular. But they're books I love. And that's what counts, right? Three of these books are ones I read in my childhood, and the fourth is a book I read a few years ago.

In all four cases, it was love at first read.



I Want To Go Home by Gordon Korman
Okay, so, I was pretty anti-social in elementary school. Actually, let me re-phrase that. I was just really shy. To the point where my worried parents had to drag me to every social function, begging my sobbing eight-year old self to speak to at least one person at the party. Exercising my social skills, you know?

But really, all I wanted to do was read (and go to ballet class!). And when I was eight-years old, that was all I did. It's no surprise that my eyesight is pretty terrible these days, much of it a result of reading under the covers with a flashlight when I was younger, long after my parents told me to go to bed.

And it was in elementary school that I discovered my infinite love for Gordon Korman. Among all the books Korman wrote (and there were many), his 1981 children's novel I Want To Go Home is my absolute favourite. I think I've read this book more than twenty times since I first picked it up. Unfortunately, I don't own a copy, and to this day, I'm still trying to track down a copy to purchase. Sigh.

This story of a misunderstood prodigy trying to break out of summer camp is absolutely hilarious. I know, I know. The premise sounds lame at the outset, and the jokes may seem corny to those who read it nowadays, but I enjoyed this book so much when I was younger. And I still do. I promise you, this isn't just some lame children's novel. To me, it's a classic for readers of all ages. Forget Twilight, pick up a Korman children's novel and you won't be disappointed.

The Twinkie Squad by Gordon Korman
And on that note, we have my other favourite Korman book, his 1992 children's novel The Twinkie Squad. This story about a struggling band of unpopular, disregarded misfits is absolutely endearing. And the eventual camaraderie that emerges among these kids is a fantastic illustration of friendships that can form between people who are as different as night and day.

Plus, the jokes in this book are hil(wait for it)arious. I remember milk spewing out of my nostrils every time the Ambassador's son found himself in a compromising situation.

Other notable Korman books I love are the classic MacDonald Hall books. Enough said. If anyone would like to borrow them, I own the whole set. You don't be disappointed!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Need I say more? I know, I know. I fulfill the stereotype of a typical girly romantic. But there's always that book you love despite criticsm. You remember where you were, who you were, how you felt when you first read it. And this one's mine. I was twelve years old when I first discovered Mr. Darcy, and I never looked back.

There's always something about this time period that intrigues me. If nothing else, this story, dealing with the lives and loves of landed gentry in 19th century England has always piqued my interest. But that may be the history buff in me talking.

Also, Colin Firth. Forget the Keira Knightley version, the Pride and Prejudice BBC Miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth owns me, heart and soul. I absolutely loved this adaptation. Can we just admire him for a minute? Ready?

Ah, I love. To me, he will always be Mr. Darcy. Oscar Award, if he doesn't win you for The King's Speech this year, I'll need to have a few words with you.

Okay, moving on.

A Voice In The Wind by Francine Rivers
I've saved the best for last.

When I turned eighteen, my dear friend Liz gave me this book for my birthday. It took me a few months before I finally picked it up to read. And I'm eternally grateful to Liz for introducing me to the Mark of the Lion trilogy. This 1992 series is a classic, spawning worldwide recognition and loyal following.

A Voice in the Wind is the first book in this absolutely remarkable trilogy. It follows the life of a young Christian girl, struggling to hold on to her faith after being sold as a slave into a Roman household. I know, sounds cheesy, right? It isn't. Trust me. This book will quite honestly move you to tears. In a world where younger Christians often struggle to hold on to their faith, when religion is so easily dismissed as an archaic lifestyle or belief by family or friends, I think there are many who could sympathize with Hadassah's struggle. Myself included. This book is powerful, and compels us to understand the difficulties of staying (being?) a Christian right now, just as it was back then.

Politics aside, this book taught me more than I expected. And for this, Book, you will forever have my heart.

"Looking back, I have this to regret. That too often when I loved, I did not say so."
- David Grayson

"At eighteen, our convictions are hills from which we look. At forty-five, they are caves in which we hide."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DAY 3 - The Best TV Shows Of All Time - The 30 Day Blog Challenge

Well, this is a little awkward. I didn't realize the topics on the 30 Day Blog Challenge would get so personal. Apparently, on the list I've been referring to, Day 3 requires me to describe my Perfect First Date.

Um. I don't want to. That's as interesting to read about as watching paint dry. So I've decided to, um, revise the challenge. And refer to another 30 Day Blog Challenge List!

What's the topic on Day 3 of this new list? Describing my favourite TV show? Now this I can do!



Many of you who know me well have heard me rant about how much I love 90's pop culture. Because I rocked those overalls and high waisted jeans like my life depended on it. But when it comes to choosing what my ultimate favourite TV show was, I refuse to pick just one. How can I? When 90's TV shows were just all kinds of awesome?

On Christmas Eve, when I was eight years old, I came down with the stomach flu. Friends, it wasn't pretty. By any stretch of the imagination. And while I spent that evening sick and miserable, I still remember it fondly as the night I discovered The Secret World of Alex Mack. I marathoned this gem on YTV for most of that evening, and I fell head over heels in love. I also spent the next two weeks slithering around the floor, pretending I was transformative liquid. Who doesn't want to be a superhero, really?

When I was eighteen, in my first year and first semester of university, during my first midterm exam period, I came down with the chicken pox. I know. Worst. Luck. Ever. I spent a month in quarantine, was forced to defer my midterm exams, and spent several miserable weeks itchy and irritable. And yet, I still remember it fondly as the weeks I marathoned all seven seasons of Boy Meets World. I was in chicken pox heaven. And to this day, whenever I feel the all-too familiar feeling of stress or sleep-deprivation, I watch Eric Matthews as Plays With Squirrels and I bust a gut laughing.

I don't think everyone attaches sentimental value to things as trivial as TV shows. But I do. 90's TV shows remind me of the childhood I look back on fondly. I associate watching Family Matters with the desserts my mother would bake everytime I watched it, I associate Power Rangers (the ORIGINAL, obviously) with breakfasts with my dad.

I don't think we're ever too old for these shows, regardless of how corny or silly they are. And in this busy grad life of ours, it doesn't hurt to watch a couple of episodes when stress gets the better of us, right?

Be right back. I'm off to watch an episode of Alex Mack.

“Too many people grow up. That's the real trouble with the world. They forget. They don't remember what it's like to be 12 years old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well, I won't do that.”
- Walt Disney

Monday, January 3, 2011

Random Acts Of Kindness - My Starbucks Experiment

Today, while I waited for my parents at Starbucks, I found $10 on the floor. I know, right? Woot. I remember finding $5 on the floor of Stauffer Library a few weeks ago and happily skipped to Starbucks to buy myself a London Fog for free. Free! Oh, oh, happy day.

But as I eagerly picked up the $10 lying by the selection of Starbucks mugs today, I came up with an idea. Walking up to the barista, I placed my usual order, paid for it, and picked up my drink. However, after I received my drink, I went back to the barista, handed her the $10 I found on the floor, and asked her to use the money to pay for the drinks of the next few people who ordered. It doesn't hurt to give a little, right?

So I settled down on a nearby couch, cracked open the book in my purse, and discreetly watched the counter (from the corner of my eye) for the results of my request.

First, an older woman walked up to the barista, placed her order for a tall Hot Chocolate. The barista smiled as the woman stood with her wallet open expectantly. "Your drink is already paid for, ma'am," Barista explained. The older woman eyed her suspiciously, "What are you talking about? Please let me pay for my drink, I'm in a hurry." "Ma'am, your drink is already paid for," Barista repeated, pointing at me. The older woman glanced at me, tilted her head in disbelief, and asked what I wanted from her.

No, you aren't on Candid Camera. Take your free drink, and go!

A second customer arrived and placed his order for a grande Caramel Macchiato. And again, this older gentleman stood with his wallet open expectantly. "Your drink is already paid for, sir," Barista explained. The older man blinked, shook his head and asked, "I'm sorry? What did you say?" "Your drink is already paid for, sir," Barista repeated, pointing at me. The older man shook his head, glanced at me like I had a few screws loose, and thanked me hesitantly.

No, I don't want your money. Take your free drink, and go!

I remember doing something similar a couple of years ago with the young adult group at church. In small groups, we were handed $50 to go around Mississauga for a couple of hours doing random acts of kindness in our community. No strings attached. However, this was more difficult than it sounds. For example, approaching people at our local Metro, it took several tries until we found someone who was willing to let us pay for their groceries. You'd think people would be willing to have their groceries paid for. But, alas, it wasn't that easy. What's the catch? What do we have to give you? Is this a scam? Why are you doing this? Nothing's ever free these days, why are you doing this? These were the questions we were constantly asked.

In almost all the situations I encountered, there were looks of suspicion, disbelief, and eventually, very hesitant acceptance that someone would be doing something for someone else for free. No strings attached. Especially if there's money involved. Is random kindness such a rare commodity these days? Why do we hesitate to accept blessings, even when they're blatantly presented to us?

No, this isn't a scam. Please take this random gift from a stranger, given straight from the heart. Take your blessing and go!

It makes me sad to think of people who have their guard up when it comes to these situations. We live in a world where we rarely get anything for free. We always have to work for it, to give something up in order to obtain something else.

And so, if there's anything I learned from all my encounters above, in a world so wrought suspicion and, ultimately, greed, kindness is a big deal. Especially from a stranger. However, while we may encounter suspicion and disbelief, it's still greatly appreciated. So let's go beyond usual expectations and exercise compassion, kindness, and tolerance more often, yea?

P.S. While I was writing this blog post, I was reminded of this Friends episode. Oh, how I loved Friends!

"How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life, you will have been all of these."
- George Washington Carver

"When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people."
- Abraham Joshua Heschel

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around."
- Leo Buscaglia

DAY 2 - The Apricot Tree Cafe - The 30 Day Blog Challenge

With only a few days left of Christmas break, I wanted to spend as much time with friends and family as possible. And so today, I had the pleasure of having lunch with dear Candace, Ellen, Val, and Stewart. I was so glad to spend time with them before I left for Kingston. And most importantly, our long-overdue lunch date was held at the fabulous Apricot Tree Cafe.

Today also marks Day 2 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge. Here we go.



Located just west of Dundas Street and Mississauga Road, the Apricot Tree Cafe is a well-known local gem with a cozy interior, and fabulous (healthy) meal options. Like the one pictured above.

Now, this blog post isn't merely an enthusiastic review of a particular local gem. Because while it is indeed fabulous (and I will be returning), I feel the need to point out why polite service is necessary at any restaurant.

News flash. If your wait staff are rude, your restaurant probably won't receive many returning customers. Just thought I'd put that out there.

The Apricot Tree Cafe usually has impeccable service. The wait staff are usually warm, friendly, and most importantly, polite. Unfortunately, our waiter today was far from these three adjectives. And I have a sneaking suspicion he didn't care to be polite because we looked young. And, in relation to usual stereotypes of young customers, he probably assumed that we wouldn't tip well. In a restaurant full of older customers, we stuck out like a sore thumb.

News flash again. Even if you don't acquire much money from younger customers, you shouldn't treat them like the scum of the earth. Young customers can still tip you well if you don't act crabby.

Courteous, polite service will always be expected at any restaurant. And it annoys me (to no end) when wait staff turn their noses to the air and treat customers like garbage if they don't look a certain way. You aren't paid to be judgmental. We aren't loud, we aren't uncouth, we aren't unruly. We aren't trashing your restaurant. We're simply regular patrons, eagerly awaiting a meal at your establishment. So please be courteous, that's all we ask.

Ah, well. The Apricot Tree Cafe is still a fabulous Mississauga find, and my past experiences are enough to have me go back again. My parents love this place. Besides the poor service, we still had a fabulous lunch today, and I spent time with people I love and value. At the end of the day, what more could I ask for?

P.S. That's the Club Sandwich.

"Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have retained of them."
- Marcel Proust

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Optimistic Realist - New Years Resolutions 2011

For those of you who know my mother, you may have had the pleasure of sitting through one of her elaborate meals. And when I say elaborate, I do mean elaborate. To the point where you have leftovers for a week. Now imagine my mother's cooking during the holiday season. It's enough to feed an army, I tell you. And so, I'll be honest, right now, our fridge is pretty much overflowing with food. And who else will eat the leftovers besides us? Not that I'm complaining. After three months of cooking for myself, I was beyond eager to eat my mother's cooking again.

And so, I've been perpetually eating.

All the time.

I've been home for two weeks, and I'm pretty sure I don't fit into the pants I came home in.

Now, for most of my life, I've always been eager to make New Years Resolutions. Listmaking always excites me (I know, OCD tendencies). When I was eighteen, I resolved to become a vegetarian. When I was nineteen, I resolved to commit to a weekly exercise regime. When I was fifteen, I resolved to minimize the amount of TV I watch (sigh, this was the hardest habit to break). When I was twenty, I resolved to eat a more balanced diet beyond rice three times a day (What? I love rice).

And the result? At the moment, I'm neither a vegetarian, nor an avid gym attendee. And clearly, after stuffing my face for most of the Christmas break, I eat more than the required three meals a day, failing miserably on my quest towards a more balanced diet. And let's not even discuss the TV situation. Doot doo doo doo...

In short, I failed. Every year.

Each year, about a week after New Years Eve, the determination to fulfill those resolutions began to wane. The motivation slowly died. And I turned a blind eye to the Resolutions list I heartily committed myself to just a week before. For shame, for shame.

However, I still think there's a lesson to be learned here. Don't get me wrong, despite my past failures, I'm still making resolutions for 2011. Several, in fact. Much of which involves less procrastination, a balanced diet, discipline and, um, the elusive motivation to start going to the gym regularly (believe me, after all the Filipino desserts I ate over the break, I need to hit the gym. It's pretty necessary).

And yet, will I actually follow through with all of the above resolutions right away? Probably not. Will I fail? Probably. It's January 2nd, there are 363 days left in the year to fail and fall short of my (admittedly grand) own expectations. But while we may not perfectly reach our grand expectations at the outset, I don't think that should stop us from trying. Realistically, we will fail. But that shouldn't stop us from being optimistic about the eventual results of our resolutions. Because while failure is disconcerting, we should gather ourselves up and continue anyway. Dust yourself off, push forward, and try again! Our efforts are only as good as we make them.

And so, dear friends, whether you're making New Years Resolutions or not, I encourage all of you to continue pushing forward to accomplish whatever you have on your list, despite setbacks, failures, or the weary thought that you just can't do it. Perish the thought! Friends, it's a new year! Success is a product of effort, determination, with a good dose of optimism in the midst of any setback.

And I promise, I'll cut back on the carbs. Pinky swear.

Happy 2011, everyone! A brand new year ripe with opportunity and, if we put in constant effort, success! Let's get to it!

P.S. What's an Optimistic Realist? Click here. Yup. Good old, trusty, Urban Dictionary.

P.P.S. Inaugural blog post of 2011! Woot.

“When you reach the top, keep climbing.”

“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
- Abraham Lincoln

"Now there are more overweight people in America than average weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means, you've met your New Year's resolution. Done!"
- Jay Leno

"I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me."
- Anais Nin

"I resolve to stop complaining."
- Leonard Bernstein