single-minded immersion

I’m turning thirty in 377 days. Denise asked me if I have a particular goal. No, the answer is not to do inversions with the grace of Briohny Smyth, although I think this is an amazing example of flow.

I have never set a concrete goal but I used to think that, by the time I turn thirty, I will know who I am and what I want. I now realize that I will never get there but I think I’m getting a little bit closer. When a relationship ends due to differences in long term goals, it is only natural to question those long term goals.

I still feel very strongly about my work. I feel flow at work. Not every moment but most days. I don’t think relationships generate flow in and of themselves. As much as I love my parents, I do not feel flow when I walk with them in the ravine close to their house. But when people have common goals, they can be in flow together. I love hiking with my parents.


Who I Am: Someone who enjoys single-minded immersion
What I Want: Doing challenging things on my own and with people I like

Now that I have a hypothesis, time to do some testing. Seeing someone who is not super interested in traveling and seeing Chinese tourists running around LA carrying LV bags, I started to question why I love to travel. The answer is actually I don’t love to travel. In and of itself. Will I be upset if I do not visit Taj Mahal before I die? No. I’m happy to learn history from Wikipedia. What I love about traveling is the experience of getting lost and finding my way again. But I get the same experience from writing, which I can do everyday. So my goal for the next 377 days is to explore the here and now. Maybe taking a few days off to write. To practice single-minded immersion. Or inversion.


(image from

One reason I read Ondaatje is that I’m never sure I get it. Because I keep rereading what I have read, I’m only half way through Divisadero. But maybe I already understand. Because it’s a villanelle?

When I come to lie in your arms, you sometimes ask me in which historical moment do I wish to exist. And I will say Paris, the week Colette died // She was a writer who remarked that her only virtue was self-doubt. // They are the sudden possibility every time I pick up the telephone when it rings some late hour after midnight, and I wait for his voice, or the deep breath before Claire will announce herself.

9: Those who risked everything at a river bend on a left turn and so discovered a fortune. By the second half of the twentieth century he was, of course, a hundred years too late, but he knew there were still outcrops of gold in rivers, under the bunch grass, or in the pine sierras.

139: I once read an essay by a writer who was asked to imagine an ideal career, and he replied that he would like to be responsible for just a brief stretch, perhaps two hundred yards or so, of a river.

136: It’s like a villanelle, this inclination of going back to events in our past, the way the villanelle’s form refuses to move forward in linear development, circling instead at those familiar moments of emotion. Only the rereading counts, Nabokov said. // We live with those retrievals from childhood that coalesce and echo throughout our lives, the way shattered pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope reappear in new forms and are songlike in their refrains and rhymes, making up a single monologue. We live permanently in the recurrence of our own stories, whatever story we tell.

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop. Probably the most famous villanelle. And my favorite.

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

365 grateful project (count=71)

img src=design-milk

Architect David Jameson completed Barcode House in Washington, DC earlier this year. The project entailed creating a freestanding, modern addition to an existing, vertically-oriented urban row house. The extension is composed of a completely see-through, two-story, glass structure in front of a narrow concrete tower. A lyrical pattern of black steel rods that resemble a barcode run across the two glass façades, hence the name.


img src=rottentomatoes

I had a dream about la science des reves. I can recall many images from this film but cannot seem to recall who I saw it with. I switched to gmail and google calendar in December 2006 so I have no documentation whatsoever. Not remembering stuff makes me feel old!!!

October 1, 2006

The Science of Sleep made tiny explosions on my dilated pupils. I know it’s too much of too much (just click on the website) but the word overdose does not exist in that world. It’s about this guy who designs calendars where each month features a great disaster. He falls in love with this girl that makes boats full of trees and gives her a time machine. In conclusion, perfect date movie.

365 grateful project (count=70)

Winter Market @ Distillery District

  • I’m feeling super super super happy today.
  • A couple days ago, on my way to coffee, I ran into Barry. I consider him my first career mentor. He is the one that convinced me life insurance is more interesting than property casualty insurance. He used to come to Manulife scholar events. I used to send him emails where I refer to him as Gandalf and myself as Frodo. I was a bit sad last year when I found out he will be joining Pacific Life as part of the reinsurance transaction. But the Toronto actuarial world is very small so I don’t think we will lose touch.
  • I was a bit sad last year when Naveed left. But he seems happy with his new (reinsurance/consulting) opportunity so I’m happy for him. I always knew that he was well connected but it’s even more obvious to me now. Gotta work on people skills!
  • I’m starting a new role in two weeks. I will be reporting to Trevor, who I met in 2008 in HK. He has given me tonnes of great advice since then. Also, I will be part of a much bigger team so more people to learn from.
  • I’m starting to send emails to people to thank them for helping me in my current role. Marc responded and told me that I have “a very nice disposition”. I don’t think this is true 100% of the time but being told that I have “a very nice disposition” makes me more nicely disposed.

365 grateful project (count=65)

  • Love the “Keep Calm & Invest On” campaign.
  • We cooked together a few times. (I did the 50/50 speech on the second date.) But this time he cooked for me. Lemon juice from a bottle. Garlic from a press.
  • He got tickets to see Blue Dragon, Robert Lepage’s new thing at the Royal Alexandra Theatre. At first, I found the combination of a modern visual and a Chinese opera soundtrack jarring. Towards the middle of the play, I started enjoying the tension. The ending(s) is/are not particularly satisfying and I’m tired of the Angry Asian Girl archetype but there are lots of interesting elements to ponder over. I love the scene where the Angry Asian Girl turns around and takes a picture of her angry face with her cellphone.
  • Mum + Dad got me green tea cookies for Chinese New Year.
  • Madeleine Peyroux

Pheobe Philo simplifies

photo from

telegraph: Pheobe Philo, creative director at Céline, has announced she is expecting her third child in April and as a result, will be cancelling the brand’s autumn/winter 2012 catwalk show this March. But never fear, those thrown into disappointment by the news will be pleased to know that Céline isn’t leaving the schedule altogether, but will be hosting an informal presentation to a small crowd of journalists in place of the catwalk show, which Philo will attend. “The objective is to simplify.”