135 – Pressing “Restart”

Been overwhelmed over the course of the past two weeks. Can’t think of a better word to describe how much I couldn’t really handle the things that were happening around me.

Got sick last Monday. Likely a viral infection. It got worse as the week went by and I actually don’t know how I survived. Did two midterms I didn’t really study for. BS’ed a lab report together last minute and then completely butchered the pre-lab that needed to be done before the lab. School was a nightmare and it’s safe to say that I probably didn’t do well on anything that week.

Recovering slowly now. Can feel some of the heaviness lifting off my shoulders – especially as the long weekend approaches (thank goodness for reading break).

Also found out that I got a little mini scholarship from my college (U of T is divided into colleges) for having a decent GPA. $500 isn’t much in the face of a $7.5k tuition, but it’s something. This made me really happy for all of lone second before my brother killed it with some bad news.

My uncle had passed away from cancer.

I’m actually still not sure which uncle.

But I would rather live with the uncertainty right now than have to face a reality that could turn out to be much worse.

All the information I have is from a Skype message with my brother – the vaguest person alive (exaggeration, but not far from the truth).

“Uncle” could be anyone.

In Chinese culture, “uncle” is a very vague designation.

Anyone could be your “uncle” provided they were close or close to your family.

But “uncle” could also mean your real uncle.

As in my father’s brother.

As in his twin brother.

And I can’t imagine how that would feel. Losing someone with the same face as you, someone you grew up sharing everything with.

For the first time in a long time, I feel sad and sorry for my dad. He may not be the greatest person in the world, but no one deserves to lose someone they love.

But all of this is speculation.

It all comes down to the fact that I don’t know shit.

And probably never will know anything concrete about family affairs (other than my aunt and grandmothers whom I have at least met and love).

In Vancouver, there was already a barrier of communication. Now I’m in Toronto, there might as well be a Great Wall between us.

And just thinking about this pushed me into a state of depression.

Spent Halloween night just crying (and subsequently had to lie every time someone asked me what I did for Halloween). I don’t think I’ve ever felt so alone in my life. At least back home I always knew what my mom and brother were up to. Now I don’t even have that (except for the ~biweekly calls I make back home).

All this isolation was devastating to me.

Made me want to give up and just go home.

But I can’t.

I’ve come so far and to throw it away would just break me even harder.

And so, just like every time you reach a GAME OVER in a challenging video game, I have to press RESTART.

Because it’s not over till it’s over.

Every time I hit a slump,

I just got to reset my mindset and carry on.

Remember the good moments and let go of the bad.

This might be a bad analogy, but I’m going to put it in here anyway to cheer myself up a bit – I always love applying the things I learn in class to my own life:

Just like a treadmilling actin filament in which the minus end is breaking and the plus end is building it back up, as part of me is breaking, another part has got to be strengthening up. And just like in the cell, this breaking and building will propel me forward.


P.S. Rest in piece, dear uncle. No matter if I knew you or not, I’ll pray you have a good afterlife. We will miss you.


Our broken hearts have healed.

we had our hearts broken

too sudden in its wake

and the uprising of emotion

was too much for us to take


you decided to release it

in an inferno of anger and frustration

and so you were always on the edge

ready to explode

but I didn’t want anyone to know

just wanted to contain it

hoped the feeling would go away

so I crumpled it all inside my heart

and kept it all at bay


but you can only run so far

before you have to face the truth

and on the nights when I just couldn’t take it

I would cry myself to sleep

release my inhibitions

give into a woeful weep


sometimes I wonder

if the reason why you fear love

is because you fear what you could become

because you fear what makes us numb


but you always looked out for me

in your own roundabout way

as if you could fix the damage done

while you were also hurting

as if you could fill the hole

while it weighed upon your soul


we’re older now

and the wound no longer stings

but it’s shaped a little of who we are

and in our memories, has left a scar

we press on forward

because that’s all we know to do

we still have some problems

but I think we’ll make it through.


related to this.

119 – Oodles of Doodles of Happiness

I just think oodles is an adorable word.

Work was good today. I changed my procedure a bit so it can be done with minimal errors. It’s amazing the amount of technical expertise you can gain from google (not really, but I learned how to pipette ethers without losing half the quantity). The samples we ran yesterday have decent peaks so it seems like my sample prep is working. Just need to test it on lower concentrations now (*fingers crossed it works and I don’t have alter it again*).

Went to the sushi place by University and Dundas – the one I went to often last year when I was living at Chestnut. The sushi is cheap (4.99+tax! :D), service is fast, and the quality is decent for what I pay. Haven’t gone back there for months now, so I was surprised to see little paintings on their walls.

There were these little animals and pokemon under the takeout menu and they totally made my day. They’re the kind of critters I draw when I’m bored in class. Couldn’t resist taking pictures, of course. 🙂

Just got off the phone with my mom (not really, she said like two sentences to me before passing the phone to our family friend and then saying she’ll call me later cause her phone is running out of batteries), and feeling just a twinge of homesickness. Usually when family friends are visiting, that means a lot of good food. I’m. So. Missing. Good. Food. T_T

Other than that, I can’t really complain. I think I’m finally getting used to living here (like two years late, but whatever), but living here is definitely not preferable to back home.

As a little moment of the inner spoiled me speaking: I miss good internet and playing games on an actual computer and flaaffy my stuffed sheep and my mokona’s and playing on my wii and all my friends of course and weather that doesn’t change from hot to cold to hot again and trees, there just aren’t as many here and my family and the city itself….


I’m glad I got that out.

117 – I’m not a great scientist. I think.

I don’t think I’m a good scientist.
Too clumsy.  Find myself spilling things, dropping things, and breaking things.  :s I try to be careful. Really, I do.
Don’t get me started on my awful pipetting skills (how do you do the exact same thing twice and end up with different volumes???).

But I guess there’s more to being a scientist than good technical skills. Gotta think like one too (i.e. This isn’t working,  how do I make it work? What can I change? What did work? Etc.)
Not too good at that either I don’t think.
For the most part, I’m enjoying my time in the lab. I don’t particularly get excited by the work I’m doing – like the way I do when I work on art or writing projects – but it’s okay.  Got me thinking I don’t want to be doing this forever though. A summer or two?  Cool. A few years? Maybe. The rest of my life? Nuh-uh. My brain isn’t wired for this,  I guess.

Been wanting to play a lot of league lately and not study for my MCAT (I’m in big trouble, I know). It’s just that working in this lab is fairly mentally  dehabilitating and the last thing I want to do when I get home at like 7 is study.
But I’ve got to.
I know.
If I don’t want to work in a lab for the rest of my life,  I need to do well on this test.
No more but’s.

I’m always afraid of people inferring I want to be a doctor because my parents want me to. Because I don’t believe parents should force their kid onto any career path. Children need to live their own lives.

I’m lucky enough that my parents support (for the most part) what I want. On the contrary,  my mom would’ve probably preferred me not to pursue med school (or attempt to pursue) – too much pressure and work that she doesn’t think I can handle/not good for me.
Maybe she’s right.  Maybe I should’ve taken the easy path (Business) where you don’t need an extra 4 years before building your career.
But I don’t think that would fulfill me.

And I’m aware of my privilege in the opportunity to choose (or attempt to choose) a career that fulfills me.
It’s amazing how my family could be so poor and yet end up with me as spoiled as I am. I’m a living contradiction (a part of me I may dig deeper into in a future post. It’s something that I’ve come to realize, accept, and appreciate over the past couple of months).

For now, I’m going to continue to question my capabilities and identity, for how can you figure yourself out if you’re not asking any questions? 🙂

112 – Need to get focused

The plan hasn’t gone too well. Probably due to the lack of trying.

The exam on Wednesday was disappointing. It was fair and I know I could’ve done well on it if I put in twenty more hours of studying. But I didn’t even try. The course will be my first B/C on my university transcript. Which to most people isn’t the end of the world. For me, it’s a crack in my med school dreams (a crack meaning I can recover if I put in the work, but cracks get worse if no one does anything to fix them – WHAT A GREAT METAPHOR HUH).

I think enough is enough. I spent the rest of Wednesday and Thursday wallowing in self-destruction. Too much chocolate, too much gaming, and too much House. I have another two final exams on Monday and Tuesday and they’re not going to study for themselves (but wouldn’t that be amazing if it were possible).

I’ll ease up on the plan a little, but I’ll get focused also. I can do this.

My mom called me up a few days ago. She says I don’t miss her enough because I don’t call home very often. The former is not true and the latter is something I should work on. I do miss home a lot, but it’s not like my mom will magically appear if I tell her I miss her. It’s something though. Even when I was living at home, we didn’t have real conversations often – but we can always start. I guess. I do miss her lots. I’d really like to go home for a while.

My mom saw my name on the CSU Facebook page and asked about that. I still find it kind of weird that she liked our union’s Facebook page, but it’s sweet at the same time because it shows that she cares about what I’m doing at school outside of class.

Am currently writing this while volunteering at a senior’s home (I help run a little grocery store that they can buy necessities from). It’s really interesting and enriching interacting with the older population. They’re filled with stories, opinions, and lively personalities. There is this couple that always comes by to buy coffee and they seem like some of the most peaceful people I’ve ever met. Definitely a life goal there – growing old with someone you can just enjoy a lovely conversation and coffee with.

Thinking of applying for a volunteer position at a hospital next year, see what it’s really like in there as a non-patient. I do have to be able to balance that with my current volunteering, my work, and school…so I’ll have to see what my schedule looks like in the fall.

Looking at my terribly hard to finish double major, I’m not going to be able to do a semester in Singapore like I wanted. It’s a little disappointing, but there’s nothing stopping me from doing something abroad next summer, so I’ll see.

Thinking back into the present, I really need to try my best. To stay healthy. To be happy. And to do well on my exams.

I think I need to add one more thing to that: to maintain good relationships with the people I know and love (not just my mom, but with the friends that I do have or think I have).

If all else fails,



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



as a family


I won’t have this memory

any other way

I need to believe in this feeling

need to believe that


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.