I’m Pregnant

At least that’s what I told the boot camp instructor. Yesterday Rita decided that it would be a good idea to provide us with a free pass to, what we thought/were told was, an introductory boot camp class. Cam was on board and I was lured by the promise of Mexican food at the end of the session and so I reluctantly agreed (as is the case with all the other misadventures I’ve been lured into). At first glance we didn’t seem the most unfit individuals in the class that took place in an expansive, residential and quiet park in the burbs of Newmarket. There were other girls there that were slightly on the heavier side and more importantly, pregnant ladies. For sure we thought we had it in the bag. After all, I run at the gym regularly (and by running I mean I prance and move any which way on the treadmill that will prevent me from falling on my face at a minimal speed of 5.0). But forward we marched, or ran rather. We ran about six blocks at a pace that most expert joggers would have classified as a brisk skip but by block two we began falling behind and cursing the wind. (The wind did nothing to us but we were just that angry at the world.)

After our grueling run we began the first circuit which the instructor dubbed as “hell”. We acknowledged with nervous laughter but of course by this time Cam and I were more excited to be stationary than anything else so we didn’t really put much thought into how bad the next exercise could be– anything was better than running for our lives. But hell it turned out to be. Never in my life had I ever considered how difficult any boot camp class could have been. During the period of great confusion and sadness (the circuit of hell), I contemplated many things, which included the following:

-“If I run now, which bus could I take to get home? Are there even buses here? Damn Newmarket!!”

-“How does one legitimately fake passing out? Seriously, do I just slowly slither into a fetal position??” [replays in head all the fainting scenes in movies to make it seem believable]

-“These people PAY HER to do this to THEM??? My God!”

-“I think I’m having a heart attack. Seriously. Some. One. Help. Me.”

-“New memoir title: I’m pregnant and other lies I tell my boot camp instructor. [Noted!]” 

-“Dear Lord, I have never really asked you for much but today, please Lord, right now make it rain– only just enough for her to stop. I need a break!!!”

Humiliation is a tough pill to swallow. One never wants to lose or be the loser. Everyone wants to win or do well. But at this delusional stage in the class I thought it was about life or death, and my life was worth more than looking like a sad loser. And so I stopped; I simply became motionless and avoided eye-contact with the instructor. I didn’t care if no one else stopped or that everyone else thought that I couldn’t handle it because the truth was I was only there for Mexican food and this was becoming a serious health risk. (Okay, I couldn’t even write that last sentence without laughing inside.) Fine, my life was not in danger but it was horrible—the most horrific physical exercise I had ever endured. Never had I ever wanted to violently punch anyone out more than the instructor that kept yelling at us and calling us pussies (especially after she told us that it was actually week eight exercises that we were doing as opposed to beginners exercises). Okay fine, maybe she didn’t yell at us, maybe she just raised her voice in a higher pitch than I would have preferred. And maybe she wasn’t calling us degrading names but she definitely made us feel bad and that’s all that I could remember in my haze.

In the moments when I came to and when my mind began operating at a normal person’s speed again, I realized that I didn’t want to just sit there for the remainder of the class and look like a sulking four year old so I picked up my limp body, dusted it off and declared that I was with child so that I, too, could be down-graded to more manageable exercises (which were just as terrible so props to the preggos, seriously). In the end, I did get the food that I was promised and Aunt Flo came by and confirmed I was not pregnant after all.

December 5, 2015

What do you say about one of the people you love the most in this world? I could tell you how wonderful she is, how caring and thoughtful she is to her family and how loyal she is to her friends and those dearest to her; that her sense of self is more solid than anyone I’ve ever met– that her abilities are endless. But that wouldn’t be a fun speech. It would be a nice speech but not a fun one.

So let’s start from the beginning. Growing up with Liz was pretty unmemorable I have to say. She always kept to herself and minded her own business- so much so that Helen and I didn’t even really notice her until we were about 4 and 6 years of age. Me 4, Helen 6 that is. Liz was always a quiet and patient child. She was carefree and simple-natured. If she ever thought something was unfair or felt an injustice inflicted upon her she would make her feelings quietly known but then quickly move on. That’s the thing about Liz– she has a unique resilience and a quiet strength about her.

Which is the exact opposite of who I know her to be today.

For those of you who know her well too, you’ll often recognize her singular brand of tough-love. A barrier that is extremely difficult to puncture. She doesn’t allow others to feel sorry for themselves which is very difficult for me, as I often feel very sorry for myself. She finds ways to remind you how short life is, how privileged we are but sometimes her words are a little harsher than she intends them to be. Here are some examples of our past exchanges on every day subject matters:

Me: I don’t want to eat that.
Liz: That’s all we have you little Baluga.

Me: It’s freezing out! I’m so cold.
Liz: That’s because you have no soul.

Me: He doesn’t like me.
Liz: Who cares, nobody does. Move on.

Me: I didn’t get the job.
Liz: You’ll get another one. Stop being a cry baby.

Me: I’ve been sick for over a week…
Liz: That’s because you’re a diseased weakling.

As harsh as her words are sometimes, you can almost, almost (sometimes you have to try real, real hard) to see the nugget of compassion in her words. She really just wants you to stand up to life and stare fear in the eyes and let the chips fall where they may. And just accept it like a champ.

And thus, my ability to function as a human being on as high a level as I do today, is fully credited to her. She is not only my little sister- she is my caregiver, my reality check, my rock and clearly, as per the examples above- my bully. And so, I thank her- for if there was no her, there would be less of me.

I’d now like to take this opportunity, on behalf of Liz and Adam, to thank two very important people. For without these two people, there would be no union to celebrate. And these two people are: myself and Camille. You see, Liz met Adam through Mike who was at the time dating Nikki (now married) who was introduced by Rita who is our friend and also Mike’s brother Mat’s wife. So you see, if not for Cam and I, none of you would be here on this day, drinking unlimited free booze. You’re all very welcome.

Until Liz met Adam, there was only one person in Liz’s life that was as obsessed with her as he is today. That person is me. So Adam, I hope you can forgive me for how protective I was of Liz when you both first started dating. Not so much protective of her heart, but more so protective of our time together. I am not certain of much- but I do know this – two people as in love as you two are, should never be separated, not even by me, not even for a minute. You are the mate to her soul.

And finally, I’d like to officially welcome Adam into our family. Not only have you always been there for Liz, but you have always been a strong member of this family, even from the beginning. It has been a pleasure getting to know you. Heck, you blend in so well sometimes I forget you’re white and we’re Asian.

So, what do you say about one of the people you simply cannot live without? You say that she is simply the best person you know.

A toast- may you both always remember this day and remember how well I spoke of you two but most of all, how much love is in this room. To love, laughter and happily ever after. To Liz and Adam!

Let Me In – I’m With Jesus.

In the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks that occurred last week Friday, GOP Candidate Jeb Bush proposed a ridiculous idea of only allowing Christian Syrian Refugees into the U.S. Now, in all cases and on all occasions I try to stay away from speaking and/or writing about political issues for many reasons but mainly because I don’t know squat about politics and I don’t want to pretend to know anything about politics. But this interview with Jeb Bush and his radical “suggestion” was so completely absurd, disturbing and baseless that it baffled me into writing an impassioned post about his idiocy.

So I don’t know politics – but here’s what I do know. I live a very privileged life (I have all my basic necessities met and I do not live in constant fear for my life or anyone else’s that I love) and while I am not as successful as my brightest peers, I am a contributing member to my society and this society has benefited from my contributions. I am one person- undoubtedly there are millions more like me. Yet none of this would be possible if Canada were not as gracious a country as it has been to people running from war-torn countries for refuge. I am a first-generation Canadian. My parents are the reason I am here today –whether I like them at the moment or not or agree with their parental guidance or not– I am in full agreement that without them I would not be here. And thus, without the generosity of this country and many other countries that have opened up their homes to strangers, Canada would not be as colourful, as rich and as culturally diverse a country as it is today. We have all benefited from this, whether you are fifth generation Canadian or new to this country.

So needless to say when the media was reporting on this story of Jeb Bush’s idea of only opening U.S. doors to Christian Syrian refugees it enraged me because if his party was in power during the time that my parents were running from their war-torn country, they would have been turned away simply because of their faith. What is truly scary is that the U.S. is a leader in many ways- should other world leaders see this type of consideration, it may just spark other countries to follow suit.

And so here’s the next dilemma – how exactly does one prove their religious status anyway? It is clear that Jeb Bush doesn’t really have a clue either because when pressed about this minor ‘application’ process, he said “they’ll be able to prove it”. How Mr. Bush, how? Will there be a skill-testing question? Maybe something like this: “what does the H in Jesus H. Christ” stand for? If you know the answer, does that really make you “Christian?” We’re not talking about a half hour game show here- we are talking about saving families just like yours, communities just like yours, lives just like your own. Will the refugees have to risk their lives by going out to find a printer amidst the rubble to type up a reference letter from their Christian pastor to sign? Is the U.S. going to accept reference letters from Church officials now? Seriously?

I don’t know what the answers are for the refugee crisis. And this post isn’t about having answers. It is just questioning the intelligence and common sense of potential leaders of our southern neighbor. World leaders face a crushing moral dilemma here but is closing the doors to people who need asylum really the answer? Are nations going to start operating their country and making important life-altering decisions based on pure fear of the unpredictable, the unknown?

And I am tired of hearing everyone characterising one entire population/group as terrorists. This is completely off-base and dangerous for obvious reasons. Saying that all Syrians are now terrorists is like saying all Americans are unabombers. We cannot and should not measure a whole population based on a few of their Ted Kaczynski’s and Timothy McVeigh’s. And if you do your research, you’d be surprised to find that there are many other American-bred bombers who have Christian ideologies. These stereotypes are generally never used in a discriminatory manner towards other Christians.

Now, I am not here to bash Christians or retaliate against any religion. I myself don’t particularly subscribe to any religious group and don’t actually take issue with those that do. My only problem is when people use the matter of religion to manipulate, attempt to convert and/or oppress already-disadvantaged individuals/groups or try to dictate what is considered “right” or “wrong” based on which religious beliefs you adhere to. And to me, deciding for all of America that only people of Christian-faith should be let into any country (especially a modern, civilized country at that) is unfounded and slightly deranged. After all, isn’t that the exact ideology that is at the root of terrorism? The act of using terror to wage war upon another group because anyone who disagrees with that regime and that faith has to suffer and be punished in horrific ways– that this need to serve your own faith supersedes all else, including the core values of humanity thereby justifying the killings of millions of innocent people.

Mr. Bush, you fail.