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I think one of the reasons I’ve always had a hard time getting myself to study is because there’s never been any pressure for me to do so.

I don’t think my mom’s ever really once told me to study and she never got me a tutor except for that time I asked for one ’cause enriched math had me realizing I was not very enriched in math at all.

In fact, my brother and I spent most of our childhood gaming. And that’s exactly where I find myself heading towards a lot of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this post to blame my mom for my ever increasing procrastination habits. Instead, I’m very appreciative of how I was raised.

Sometimes I hear about the parental pressures some of my friends are facing in university and it makes me feel really thankful that my parents leave me to do whatever I want. Yes, deep down inside, my mom wishes I chose business over science (less years of school and still relatively okay in terms of finding a job), but she always let me choose exactly what I want.

And it’s sad to hear stories of people who were forced into an occupation.

And it’s frightening how extreme Asian parenting (though I’m sure it’s also present in other cultures) can be.

And it’s not that I don’t feel empathetic towards people struggling to meet their parent’s standards,

But I do feel fortunate.

That’s one thing I feel thankful for in the face of exam period.

It’s a warming feeling to know that even if my exams don’t go well, I won’t receive a lot of backlash (except from myself).

In light of this, I’m trying my best to ensure my motivation to do well stays high.

I can do this.

I hope.

99 – I’m very lucky.

I called my mom today to tell her my marks (they’re okay, could be better, probably not going to get into med school with grades like these). She doesn’t really comment on them because she’s not the type of parent to get super strict about grades. She’ll mention it when I don’t do well, but in a “I want my kid to do well in school” kind of way, not a “if my kid doesn’t do well, they’ll be punished” kind of way. She used to give me money in high school for getting 7/8 A’s (7 whenever I had P.E.). She gave my brother money whenever he made honour roll or got an A in university. We were bribed to get good grades in a way. But I’m not the type of person to work for grades because of money. I’m not a money person.

She doesn’t bribe me anymore, mostly because I left home (I’m sure if I was at UBC, she’d offer me the same deal she gave my brother which was $50 for every A). I’m a much heavier financial burden now that I’m in Toronto. I think the financially smart decision would’ve been to transfer back to UBC even if that meant taking an extra year to graduate. But if I’m going to be do graduate studies/med school (if I get in), I’d rather not waste an extra year of my life doing undergraduate studies. If it means student loans, then so be it.

I’m very lucky though.

Lucky that my brother is no longer financially dependent on my mom so that I can have the luxury of studying in another city.

Lucky that my mom worked so hard to raise me.

I was and probably still am very, very spoiled. I always got a new computer or laptop when something happened to my old ones (I think I got double the number of upgrades my brother received). I got to do whatever extracurricular activities I wanted to (although I regret piano sometimes for the way it ruined my relationship with my mom many times).

I am lucky that my mom endured so many long hours of work. That she made the effort to drive me to my various lessons despite being busy. That she bought me so many things despite not really having the money.

She was and is still very smart.

She wasn’t as lucky as I am.

She was a straight A student that didn’t have the money to go to college. She chose instead to work and take care of her family. She started cooking from a very young age, taking over parental responsibilities for her siblings. And I really respect and admire her for that.

I am very lucky.

When I was younger, I would often become envious of others when I heard about all the places they’ve visited and all the things that they’ve seen. Because we never had the money to go on trips like that. Didn’t really even have the money to travel locally (I’ve never even been to Banff or Calgary or even Edmonton, all of which I’ve always wanted to go). I don’t resent that fact any longer. Now that I’ve grown up to understand how much my mother sacrificed to raise me. Someday, I want to earn enough money to go travelling with her. To let her know how much I appreciate her.

I am reflecting on all this right now, because I’m worried about her.

There hasn’t been very much work for her lately.

Which means I am even more of a financial burden than I normally am.

I know we’ll be okay.

My dad is working these days (although I don’t like him, at least he’s providing for our family).

And my brother is doing his thing.

So we’ll probably be okay.

But I just really want to go home and stop wasting all of this money.

That means I have to study really hard and do really well.

I also want to experience as much as possible – to make this all worthwhile.

That’s a delicate balance.

I’ll do my best.

I love you, Mom.

Don’t you remember?

Hey, do you remember

the long line of people

waiting to buy their tickets

for a movie just released?

 

I still remember

the escalator ride up

the wait for our tickets to be checked

buying popcorn at the recession stand

walking into the theatre

ticket slip in my pocket

finally finding seats

the excitement when the ads finished playing

for it was

Spiderman 3

 

I remember

pulling my knees up on the seat

holding your hand in moments of suspense

feeling disappointed when it was over

because it meant we would have to leave

 

I remember

walking out of the theatre

before the credits ended

running down the stairs

playing a few games at the arcade

conveniently underneath

 

I remember

going home to fall asleep content

because movies were a rare treat

 

I remember it well

all these details in my mind

 

So why do you not remember?

I refuse to believe it wasn’t real

I refuse you to believe you weren’t with us

that it wasn’t your hand

I grasped for safety

 

I want someone to tell me you were wrong

and that you just can’t remember

 

Because this was us

happy

together

as a family

 

I won’t have this memory

any other way

I need to believe in this feeling

need to believe that

Mommy

you were there.

 

—————————–

Just a memory I can’t shake off. My mom told me she had never watched a movie in the theatres with my brother and I until this summer (she watched Harry Potter with just me). There’s this feeling in my heart that insists she was there. Spiderman movies were a family thing. Mom, bro, and me. 

On Shannon Hale & Childhood Inspiration

I remember being in fourth grade, awkward as ever, but overflowing with stories to tell and words upon words in the corners of my mind. My approach to reading was suicidal, I dove headfirst into every chapter, never looking back and never paying mind to what was happening around me. I remember at the time that I was just beginning to blossom in the world of structured writing, just beginning to grasp the power of words and how simple phrases could affect the thoughts of the mind that was reading it. I remember the shining moment when I got our class an extra hour of gym time – a game of capture the flag on the gravel fields outside – by writing a persuasive piece of writing to the teacher emphasizing traits such as “dexterity”, “agility”, and “strength” (three words you might recognize in any decent video game at the time) as traits acquired through physical exercise. I realized even then that my writing was probably not very impressive, but it stood out among the other pieces written by my classmates, and thus had some hold upon my fourth grade teacher. I had built up quite a reputation that year for being whiny and unwilling, but nevertheless clever. I didn’t have very many friends and I’m not quite sure I valued those I had enough. I had my head either stuck in a book or glued to the computer screen; it’s no wonder that my eyesight suffered as a consequence.

I remember the summer after fourth grade when I first started wearing hard contact lenses at night – lenses that promised to act as the ocular version of braces, preventing my eyesight from getting worse and giving me perfect vision during daytime provided that I wore them every night. I finally got to ditch the glasses that I’d been wearing since second grade and it was a good feeling to be able to run freely without the extra weight on my face. But it was also a hassle: putting them on every night and taking them off every morning and washing them. But I suppose it was worth it. Feeling the weight of spectacles upon my nose now – it was definitely worth it.

Look at its beautiful mosaic cover!!!

Look at its beautiful mosaic cover!!!

It was around this time that I discovered an author by the name of Shannon Hale, her various books nestled on some lower shelf in the fantasy genre of the children’s section. She was a No Name in my eyes, not something popular that my friends read or that the librarian recommended and was certainly not a popular book at that library as I often saw it on the shelf untouched. Nonetheless, the cover of The Goose Girl stuck out at me, some mosaic drawing upon its over. Perhaps it was the alliteration in the title or simply the plainness of its cover that attracted me, but I slowly picked up the book and again, without hesitation, plunged myself into its pages. I was enraptured, turning page after page after page. I was surprised. Some No Name author had impressed me. It had action. It had romance. And it had a female protagonist – a key factor at the time as I had trouble relating to books with male protagonists (perhaps the reason why I never continued on with the Eragon series). It was around the time when Harry Potter was shooting into popularity and when boys were often the main characters in novels of the fantasy genre. It excited me (perhaps the inner feminist in me?). It gave me power when there was no one in my life I could turn to and talk to with ease. Books were an escape.

In sixth grade, my friends and I encouraged by our teacher started a small elementary school newspaper. It featured articles mainly written by our class, but also from other grades and other students. Everything was hand done. We printed out the articles in columns, cut them out, and taped them down with invisible tape. Pictures were resized (mostly by cutting) and taped upon the page. I was part of the lucky few that got to work with layout and witness its entire process. It was breathtaking. It was beautiful. It may have been a small and silly publication with a multitude of errors, but hey, it was ours.

I remember writing an article, a book review, on The Goose Girl. Incorporating some of that persuasive writing ability that I had acquired in fifth grade, I made the novel sound to be more than it could be (or at least I hope so in an elementary standard). I’m sure I didn’t do Shannon Hale justice, but it was full of love and adoration for her and for her writing. I remember walking into the our little school library a week after and being approached by the librarian (who was friendly and knew many students quite well…I miss her) who said that she was approached by a student that wanted to read The Goose Girl after hearing about it in my book review. I was thrilled. She then informed me that our library didn’t actually carry the book. Not surprising since I did say Shannon Hale was a No Name among my friends (but certainly not a No Name to me after reading her books!). I wrote the book’s name on a piece of paper and submitted it (along with the names of other books of the series) in suggested books to purchase basket. Surely enough, the book appeared about a week later. It was a gratifying moment. I felt as if I had accomplished something…something small but yet big in my heart. I loved the school library and to have my opinions and thoughts mattered meant a lot to me. Our librarian was thoughtful and worked hard to keep our library buzzing. The library was a popular place (mostly on rainy days, often in Vancouver) and she was definitely one of the reasons why. I knew that if the book was available that someday some other kid would read it (if only because they had read almost every other book in the library due to its small size) and I hoped that it would affect someone the way it affected me. Though unlikely for that particular book to have that effect, it was another book in the library…and I believe this now more than ever, that books are building blocks to perspective, to imagination, and to developing ourselves. I had given something back to the community in a very small way, but still one that mattered so very much to me.

I proceeded to read several others of Hale’s books: Princess Academy, and the sequels to The Goose Girl: Enna Burning and River Secrets. That was the expanse of her books on the shelf at the time and I thought to myself, “This is it. There’s no more from her”. At the time, the library was the world to me and I was not yet fully experienced with Google which was only blossoming at the time. She disappeared for a very long time.

I yearned for more. Needed more. So I turned to other books to satisfy me. But nothing ever satisfied me as much as reading The Goose Girl for the first time. I think it was then that I realized how much writing and reading – how much language meant to me. I knew I would not be able to escape it for the rest of my life.

I chanced upon her name a couple of months ago at Indigo; a couple of her books were on sale. I was flabbergasted – she was gone to me, I thought she had stopped writing, I thought she disappeared. But here she was, alive and right in front of me. I know it’s an exaggeration to say since Shannon Hale was not physically standing there…but her books were. And that was enough. I had to read them. I had to read them all.

I dove into Austenland, Midnight in Austenland, Ever After High, and The Actor and the Housewife. One after the other. I enjoyed them all thoroughly. Ever After High was a burst of nostalgia for The Goose Girl was a fairy tale (rewritten). But the other three novels were a surprise to me for I had known Hale as a children’s author and was surprised to read her writing intended for an adult audience. Having strong female protagonists (YES!!!) comforted me and I easily slipped into her stories. The romance felt real more so than the fairy tale ones, than the stories of princesses and princes. It was a beautiful experience and I’m grateful for her contributions to the literary world.

The Actor and the Housewife awakened a new yearning in me and with that, a new understanding. I wanted a best friend, a relationship as fulfilling as the one that leapt out at me from the pages. I wanted a Felix Callahan in my life. Someone who understood without the words explaining it, someone who feels like you’ve known forever, someone who doesn’t need to be by your side or talking to you everyday to still be your friend. And I suppose I also related to that feeling, to that kind of existence. Because the internet is kind of like that. You have friends from all around the world that you don’t necessarily talk to every day but still get along with right away once you find the time. Like Becky and Felix in the novel with their telephone conversations, I have found so much fulfillment talking with people miles away. Distance didn’t matter to them. And I realized, distance shouldn’t bother me either.

Shannon Hale, I know you’ll never read this, but I thought it’d be nice to declare. You have inspired me, connected to me, and reached me with your novels in a way I’ll always remember. Thank you. And please, please keep writing.

Those were the times.

I miss staring into the horizon

wondering about

all the possibilities

that

tomorrow

would bring

 

I miss thinking

that

the only limitations

were the skylines of your mind

 

I miss the daydreaming

that existed

before the coming

of habitual tendency

of responsibility

of maturity

 

I miss the luxury

of freedom

of believing that anything was possible

with a forward looking smile

with kaleidoscopic eyes

 

Those were  the times

when happiness came naturally

and needed no protection

from our sighs

needed no provocation

and no reason

to exist

 

Those were the times

when happiness was happy.

Should’ve left her behind

Should’ve left her behind

this carefree spirit

that wanders

from place to place

with her heart out

for all to see

with her heart out

so easily.

 

Should’ve left her behind

midst the abandoned playground

swinging all alone

running after

no one

enchanted by

the sun.

 

Should’ve left her behind

with her

sophomoric

love-in-tokyo

pig tails

and her bright orange

skip rope

and her notions

of hope.

 

Should’ve left her behind

before her innocence

met your lack of

before her smile

met your tears

before her dreams

became your fears.

 

Should’ve left her behind

but now  it’s too late

to abandon her

for you have grown

too attached

too much in love

with what she loved

with what she stood for

with love itself

at the very core.

 

Should’ve left her behind

but you knew too well

that you needed her

more than she needed you

and that she’ll always be

a part of your whole

and the part of your heart

that comprises your soul.

[GAME] Poy Poy

I haven’t done a game “review” in a long time, so I figured I’d reflect on one of the most memorable video games of my childhood: Poy Poy, a game on the Playstation.

198338_10228_front

Having only owned the Japanese version of the game, I have never known it by its real name and have always just called it the “Rock-throwing game”, but out of plain curiosity, I recently looked up the name.

For me, Poy Poy was the first game in which I learned to button smash – to mindlessly press buttons on the controller and hope something worked. Adding to this effect, everything was in Japanese from the instructions to the characters to the different gloves you could equip. It was basically guess and test for me, having no knowledge of the Japanese language at the time. Looking back, most of it was in Katakana so if I played it today, I’d be able to decipher the majority of the items.

There was something so gruesomely violent and yet enticing about throwing rocks at each other. It was so pointless that it was fun. Whenever my brother or I got bored playing one of the more quality Playstation games such as Final Fantasy or Digimon, we’d retire and play Poy Poy for the heck of it. The feeling of competition and randomness that arose from battling each other in the arena of object-throwing was exhilarating. It was so ridiculous that we would laugh at times – especially on the park map which was dark and often had a roaming dinosaur on the map. Ah, that was always both my favourite and least favourite.

My best friend would sometimes come over and we’d throw rocks at each other for hours, not really understanding the point of the game as it was completely in Japanese. In reality, the game would be terrifying: throwing a rock three times your size would not only be impossible but superhuman-like. I loved the polygon-shaped people and their wacky hairstyles. I loved how there were jelly bean like things you could collect and have no idea what it would do – mostly due to the fact that again, the game was in Japanese and we had no clue what we were doing.

In the end, I guess Poy Poy served as an experience to show that no matter what language a game is in, you can enjoy it. There are, of course, limits on this as it would be completely unpleasant to play a role-playing game without understanding the story, but for something like this, it worked out for the best. I’m sure if the game was in English and I understood how to play, I would’ve had a completely different experience, but the fact that it was in a language foreign to me  urged me to not only indulge in Japanese culture, but to have fun without worrying too much about strategy or what not.

Poy Poy, for me, will always be that one game that leaves me grinning in the thought of it. It was never popular and it was rare to find anyone who had even heard of it, but it was special – something unique that will forever be a small chip of the video game world.

As I was unable to find a decent video of Poy Poy, I present to you one from Poy Poy 2, which is equally awesome and um…updated.