Monday, March 28, 2011

Epic Interview

I’ve been to an interview where the owner of the company had nothing to ask me and the associate spent the whole time doodling flowers, hearts and small animals on my resume. I’ve also shown up to an interview once where they completely forgot that I was going in, had hired already, and sent me on my way. But neither of those two could rival the second interview I had on Friday afternoon.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Giving Back

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the sweet e-mails and messages for my birthday! You guys are the best, and I had a lovely, productive, grown-up-feeling day. :)

So there was a mild freakout among all my friends when I cancelled my birthday party, and I thought that I should explain the decision with a little more detail, because clearly, my last explanation wasn't enough for many.

See, two weeks before my birthday I had a This Is Your Life Moment.

I was comparing last year with this year (a self-destructive habit I know I'll have to break soon or it'll make for a very depressing year!); last year I had 30+ friends at my birthday party at this really cute venue that served fantastic food, where a really handsome DJ hugged me, bought me a drink and got the whole restaurant to toast me, where the really handsome DJ's handsome friend tried to impress me, and most importantly, I announced to everyone that I was moving to Spain. I was working three jobs while finishing school at the time and it was very, very difficult, but it was for something wonderful that I was really looking forward to.

This year, many of my best friends weren't even in Toronto for my birthday and I just felt like I had nothing to look forward to. All of a sudden, the next few years of my life stretched out before me. I could see myself slogging through the daily grind (provided I can find a hopefully decent job soon, that is!), trying to pay off my student loans and my car, not travelling anywhere, spending as little as I can... It was such a depressing thought. I didn't have a Next Big Thing to look forward to. I felt - and still feel, truthfully - trapped in my hometown when all I want is to be somewhere else. All the time.

So I cancelled my birthday party because I wasn't in the mood to celebrate and instead just set out to make it as much like any other day in the year.

I had two work interviews scheduled and although they turned out to be a bit of a waste of time, at least I was being productive. I realized at 12:00am on my birthday that I still hadn't donated money to Japan yet, my favourite place in the world, so I did that. Which, by the way, don't even get me started about how impressed I am that there's no riot there, that people are behaving so peacefully, and especially how in awe I am of the courage of the people who take turns going into the nuclear plant to try to fix things, putting their own lives on the line for the greater good.  (To make donations - please do if you can afford to and haven't yet! - please visit here or here.)

And I booked an appointment to give blood for the first time.  All throughout university I wanted to give blood, because I used to walk by the clinic at our University Community Centre all the time.  However, I chickened out twice because I was (and am!) terrified of needles, which earned me a very cold, verbal slap in the face from my aunt, who told me that my split second of pain could save someone's life.

So this year, I decided to bite the bullet and do it (after I got bailed on twice by people who were to accompany me).  No more waiting.  I was ready.  And what better day to do it than on my birthday?

It was actually much less traumatizing than I'd thought.  Canada Blood Services has a really helpful hotline staffed by very nice people who will schedule you at a time convenient for you at your nearest clinic.  The nurses at the clinic I went to were absolute angels.

I was really afraid of getting my finger poked, but that happened right off the bat and wasn't too bad because it was done with this little mechanism that pokes you when it senses pressure.  It didn't hurt THAT much on contact, but my finger throbbed for a bit afterwards, and then I realized that I couldn't get the manicure I scheduled for later, but that was okay. :P

Then they had me answer a really lengthy questionnaire.  You have to answer the first 13 questions outside, and then the next series of (quite invasive) questions are answered one-on-one with a nurse in a private room, after she takes your blood pressure and makes sure that you're an eligible donor.  They ask you things like whether you've paid to have sex before, whether you've had sex with someone who could possbily have had sex with another man, whether you've taken illegal drugs, etc, and the magic year seems to be 1977 - they want to know if you done any of these and other things since 1977, which I guess was when AIDS really broke out in a massive way.

And I must say, answering the first set of questions really drove home how fortunate I am that I could be in a position to give blood.  They ask if you have or have ever had all kinds of scary illnesses, and being able to check off No in every category made me feel really blessed. 

Then it was showtime.  I must have been very obviously nervous because the nurses kept checking up on me and reminding me to breathe. :P I was especially apprehensive because two of my best friends, who are nurses, told me that my left arm was a good arm to use, but I ended up getting stuck on my right one.  I also made the mistake of looking at the blood dripping into the bag, but a few moments after I averted my eyes, I was fine again.

It didn't take long at all - 15 minutes for the gory part, but about an hour for the entire process of a first appointment.  And I am really, really, REALLY glad I finally did it.  It wasn't that bad at all, I really hope my blood will help someone, and I feel really lucky to be able to do this.  I will definitely be donating again and I'd encourage everyone who reads this to donate blood, too!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


I’ve always felt like St. Patrick’s Day is kind of, sort of my birthday, too, because I was born in Hong Kong but grew up in Canada…

This day last year I bought myself a plane ticket to Madrid, and that is, to date, the best and most expensive birthday present I've ever given myself.

23 was an unbelievable year. Absolutely incredible, with enormous challenges and equally enormous rewards.  24 is uncertain, but whatever happens, I will make the best of it.

So I'm kicking off 24 with two job interviews, a blood donation session (my first!), and perhaps a big meal or two, with really, really good cake (Superwoman and I decided to finally make the pilgrimmage to the Dufflet bakery together at Yonge & Eg) – a good beginning, I think. And because I’m giving blood, it also means that I won’t be intoxicating myself today – but all of you should most definitely go out and have a good time!

Happy St. Patty’s Day! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Pita & Company

In this week's edition of Tasty Tuesday, I'm going to introduce you to the only eatery in Madrid that I've been to more than five times, besides La Mallorquina.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Haves, The Have-Nots and The Have-Not-Muches

Since coming home I've been swamped with lust for material things.  I don't know if it's the much more prevalent product placement, the fact that I watch (a little bit of) TV again or masterful marketing aimed at my demographic, but I find myself suddenly wanting everything, like this, this and this.  And, oh Cosmos, especially this!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

what is it that you love so much about spain?

I love it for many reasons - the culture, the people, the food, the language, the architecture, etc. But mostly, I love it because living there is one of my proudest achievements to date. I really wanted to live there, it seemed nearly impossible, then I made it happen through determination and hard work - and with considerable intervention from my guardian angel. :)

I will admit that I probably do idealize Spain. It's not a perfect country and it's not The Best Place to Live Ever, but it symbolizes the incredible results of my dedication and will, and that's what makes it so special to me.

Ask me anything

Why do you hate being in Canada so much?

I don't hate it here; it's my hometown! I just really, really want to be somewhere else. All the time. It's just good, old-fashioned wanderlust, plain and simple.

I'm not even sure where I want to go next. It doesn't even necessarily have to be back to Spain, although that would be nice, because actually, I was quite lonely there at times. I enjoy being by myself a lot, but I remember walking around alone at night in downtown Madrid when it was packed and musing at how ironic it was that I could feel so lonely when there were so, so many people around...

I just want to be somewhere else, and I don't know where. I feel this urge to keep on running and I have no idea what I'm looking for, what it is that will make me want to settle down in one place.

The problem, though, is that I can't satisfy my wanderlust, because I have a ton of student loans as well as my car to pay for, so I'm feeling kind of trapped right now. I had a really disheartening This Is Your Life Moment the other day. But that's another story. :P

Ask me anything


No; I haven't changed my current city (here, on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.) because I'm just in denial. :P

Ask me anything

y did u cancel ur birthday party? whats wrong???

Because I'm not in the mood to celebrate this year - but really, what is the big deal?. Everyone is freaking out about this and it's really not such a huge issue!

In the grand scheme of things, one birthday is just one day. It's not like I'm saying I'll never celebrate my birthday again. It's not like I'm never going to another party again. I just don't feel like celebrating this year.

And actually, if you think about it, it's all just hype. Without all of it, you'll see that all "special days" - birthdays, public holidays, anniversaries - they're really no different from any other day of the year.

Ask me anything

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Curry's

Tasty Tuesday is back, featuring my favourite restaurant in Madrid!  Ironically, it doesn't serve Spanish food, but Indian.

Like any red-blooded Canadian girl, I have regular cravings for all kinds of ethnic foods - Indian, Levantine-based (I prefer the Lebanese interpretation), Japanese, Italian (if that counts - it's pretty mainstream in Canada), Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Greek...

Monday, March 7, 2011

I've Got Me

The problem with having a very repetitive job is that my mind goes numb after the first few minutes of working and then it just wanders randomly everywhere...leaving me free to remember and relive things I'd rather forget.

But that's my own punishment for making poor choices, so I kind of deserve it. Now that the conventional gatekeepers and guards in my life aren't always witness or privy to my mistakes and therefore there to berate me until shame/irritation mentally beats me into submission (i.e. never doing the same thing[s]again) my own mind is stepping up to the plate admirably. I suppose that's part of growing up.

So with unfortunate recent situations in mind, I've decided to add the following things to my 2011 Goals list:

7.) Break the habit of asking questions whose answers I already have an inkling/know outright I won't like.
8.) Stop poisoning my body - not that I ever did that often or even regularly, but I'm coming to realize that even once in a while is too much.
9.) Stop seeking trouble. Must be my bleeding heart. I need to trust my instincts - like, if being in a certain environment makes me feel like the inherent happiness in me is being leeched out, I need to stop putting myself in that situation.
10.) Keep in mind that mistakes ≠ the end of the world

My friends would also suggest that I stop thinking and overanalysing as much as I do, but that's a very deeply-entrenched characteristic of mine, and it's not always bad. Sure, I drive myself nuts, but I also enjoy my own company immensely. In fact, I'm one of my favourite people to spend time with.

And at the end of the day, I think that's what's most important. No matter what happens, I've got my own back.