Here a mask, there a mask …

If I’m one thing, it’s intense. When masks started being optional, I thought I’d give it a crafty go and took an old pillow case and sewed up a few – very rudimentary handsewn prototypes.

I decided I liked more fashionable versions, so did some online shopping as well – cool floral ones from etsy, mod black ones from Peace collective, pink, blue and black from community masks, more flora masks from Pomp and Ceremony …

Then we went on lockdown, and my daughter took an interest in sewing. We bought the 2nd last sewing machine from Canadian Tire (they were sold out of most models!). I decided to up my game, found another pattern on line, and made another dozen masks. Old T-shirts, old denim, cheap cotton material from Walmart – I kept making them. Finding cool old pillowcases from Value Village, some chiffon for a 3rd layer, I had a mini production line going.

Of course I also have several boxes of disposable versions for my son (there’s very little chance he will wash the cloth ones regularly while at school) and for the household, to keep in the car, to have handy for people who come by to do work on the house who forget their masks….You never know.

I went on an errand with my husband yesterday, with a mask in hand. When I got in my car, there were a few on the seat (not used), a few in the glove compartment, a bag of disposables in the compartment at my elbow… When we parked I checked my pockets and also my belt bag for a mask and found there were some there too. I had six masks in hand, probably about 2 dozen in my vehicle. Which I take out only a couple of times a week.

I just burst out laughing. To the point of tears. I got my husband cracking up with me.

At the ridiculousness of it all. I have so many masks – I have more material to make more masks ( -I use chiffon for the middle layer, I think the netting makes them more effective, doing research of course) . It is mask madness. Never ending. My husband suggested I switch up my repertoire but no, I am sticking steadfast to my mask factory. I am obsessed. And I honestly do not know how to sew. Except masks.

I need help.

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Around the world

When I decided to sign up for this year’s NaBloPoMo -ish exercise coordinated by my blogger friend Melisa, I thought about updating the photo header for the blog. After all, I had set this blog up in 2016, when I was on my break from full time work and thought that beautiful photo taken in Florence during our May 2016 trip with friends, was a reflection of a new attitude on life. To take the time to enjoy the view; to not stress about life, focus on the family, pause to really embrace travel experiences without the nagging sense of commitments at the office…

But here we are today. At this particular moment in time, November 2020, during the 2nd wave of a global pandemic, we are not able to experience any travel. We are stuck.

I used to complain about all the travel I did with work. Being away almost 40% of my time for work, to Europe and across Canada, was not easy with school aged kids. This was compounded by the travel that my husband did as well. But travel for work certainly had its perks. Many of my answers for those facebook “where have you been” quizzes, were a result of work travel. Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Germany, France, Portugal, US, Bahamas … I look back and they were really great experiences. Especially since I was on my own – I love my family, but outside of the long days of meetings, there was usually opportunity to see some of the local flavour whether it be food or culture, and sometimes sights. I was never really good at taking extra time, though, always in a rush to get home to family.

We would also try to take a couple of family trips a year. Our last trip was to Boston in 2019 and it was not the smoothest. These kids are bigger people now, interests differing – they don’t always want to hang out with the parental units even when we are paying for food. We discussed that the next trip we would need to get two rooms – sharing is no longer an option. The kids want their privacy – yeah, they want their privacy and to get away from snoring parents. What we wouldn’t give to be able to travel like that now.

When I decided to look for work in 2019, I was fortunate to be able to have the option to look for something on my own terms. I landed a role that was 100% remote work from home, with travel to head office in Washington state as frequently as I felt necessary. I was looking forward to that flexibility, to be able to visit the Pacific west coast for a change. I made it there three times before we went into lockdown five months in. Now everyone is working from home. I anticipate I will get back there again, but the big question is when.

So for now, I will think about what to do with the look of the blog. Like life, it probably needs a change. But I could do with another dose of Tuscany just about now.

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She knows what she wants …

The other day my 15 year old daughter came into my office and showed me her ear – with a second piercing. Hold up – a second piercing? She hasn’t left the house much since the pandemic hit, and rarely without me. So indeed, she did this on her own, with a needle and rubbing alcohol. No ice. Just because she wanted to, with such little fanfare that I would never have noticed if she hadn’t told me. I guess it stands to reason, as the last time she asked for her ears to be pierced I asked her to wait. That was 10 years ago.

So the other other day, she came down to my office and said she wanted her hair cut. Short. As in …

She started her year with hair down past her shoulder, then a couple months ago she went shorter to her shoulder … but this time she said she wanted it super short. I mentioned that I could take her with me to my hair stylist but that was a couple weeks away. And she wanted it cut sooner. I had a few meetings so said I could come chat with her later and discuss options. She said ok.

After I had my last meeting of the day, I went upstairs to look for her, and found her in her washroom. I asked what she was doing and she said “cutting my hair!” – crazy kid was hacking away at the back of her hair, using a mirror and not the best pair of scissors. I had to laugh – told her she should have waited but she said it was fine. I tried to help her where I could by trimming loose strands because quite frankly and understandably it was a mess! I told her we best go to Great Clips to clean it up as I figured they would likely not be too busy and a walk-in was a possibility.

I still had some work to do, so she asked whether her Dad could take her. He had a busy day of running errands and had just sat down to chill a bit. He said he could take her later as he was going to make dinner. She called him on it – “You won’t make dinner for another couple of hours, can you just take me now?’

The benefits of being around each other every hour of every day – nothing escapes her.

And so the father did as he was told (have to laugh). And the finished product …

(The stylist gave her some coupons so she wouldn’t have to be so drastic next time around, to let the pros do their job).

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80s playlist

Have you heard the news – Huey Lewis is on Apple Music! Talk about “Back to the Future” vibes, listening to him and the selections he plays is like stepping into a time warp. It was a tumultuous time for me, late teens/early 20’s when music meant so much. It was social, it was fun, it was melancholic, it bonded me with friends, it was romantic (will get to the mixed tape playlist that solidified a certain someone as a keeper, in a bit…)

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been checking out our high school Facebook group of late as there seems to be activity likely prompted by the fact that we can go NOWHERE, and don’t do much but sit with our phones, our screens, our music. There’s a common theme there too, with people posting mixed tapes selections of back in the day; listing who the defining bands were. I have hesitated there, as I figure my playlist would out my age. I did comment how amazing it was though, when someone listed the incomparable Kate Bush on their list. I had to post a funny – I was asked recently to interview a candidate with this name, I told my colleague that was so cool to have such an iconic name. My colleague had no clue who I was talking about – I felt way old. Here is a bit of melancholy…

Since I discovered Huey’s podcasts, I’ve taken to listening while I work. I had forgotten (because, see above, old) that the Go-Go’s had featured so heavily in my high school turntable. Jane Wiedlin showed up to chat about what they had been up to and I can’t wait to see the documentary that they recently took part in. How could I forget that I would jump up whenever “Our lips are sealed” came up on the radio or during a dance.

Or “Rock Lobster” by the B52’s – is it just me or did we not all bop around and then slowly flop to the floor during “down, down, down, “… to pop up again and continue jumping around. And do you remember this song?

Super pale Brit type singing about missing his Asian girlfriend …

I loved “Missing You”. Played it over and over, not only because it was a great song, but probably because it came out during a period of my life when I was going through break up make up cycles. And the video impressed me because it depicted an interracial relationship without any usual Asian stereotypes – just a relationship. I suppose back then it wasn’t such a thing. (I ultimately made up but with a different pale guy who I hadn’t yet met, a few years down the road…)

My high school 80s go-to bands – The Police, GoGo’s, Foreigner, Duran Duran, Pat Benetar, REO Speedwagon, Queen, Cheap Trick, Styx, Human League, Haircut 100, Journey, Split Enz, Culture Club

My uni go-to bands – Duran Duran, Simple Minds, U2, Tears for Fears , Depeche Mode, Simply Red, Madonna, Paul Young, Eurythmics, The Smiths, OMD, The Cure, Suzanne Vega, REM, INXS

I know I have missed lots of great music. Thank goodness for the internet’s better memory.

So the mixed tape offerings that determined a more permanent evolving playlist showing that the couple that listens to music together, stays together?

In Between Days – the Cure

Save a Prayer – Duran Duran

Something by David Sylvian – Brilliant trees I think …

Bringing it back to today, there is a Canadian band who is still doing their thing, fronted by an awesome talent, Alan Frew, who I have started following on Social Media since this COVID thing started. I’ve also seen Alan solo at a few corporate gigs in the late 1990s early 2000’s when I fangirled pretty hard backstage one time (I seem to recall anyway…).

We saw Glass Tiger live in concert just last year with Corey Hart of the sunglasses at night – another Canadian treasure. And Flock of Seagulls. (Remember concerts? We were supposed to see Journey, Pretenders, Hall and Oats and Squeeze this year. Sheesh.)

Anyhow, Alan goes on IG live most Sundays, for an hour conversation, a little bit o music, good conversation, catching up on the COVID situation, having a few laughs, usually with beer/wine in hand. I love this guy. He’s been through a lot, a stroke, breaking his neck (OMG!). But I love his music even more these days. So does my husband.

So on Sundays, we hit rewind with Alan and the crew on IG. We haven’t forgotten, and so glad that these guys are totally rockin’ it and still around.

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And there went almost 40 years…

Guess what I did on Thursday? I attended a Zoom high school reunion. I graduated from high school 37 years years ago. What. The. F.

COVID has some unintended positive consequences, I suppose. We are all in our mid-50s now, that certain demographic. We have been faced lately with our mortality. We know of people we went to school with who have passed. We have kids in our 20s. Some of us are talking retirement – or already retired and getting bored. We are middle -aged. Yeah, I said it. It feels weird – in my head I feel 18 (and that’s super-weird because I have a 20 year old) … but as my old friend said she does too, until she’s been sitting too long and it aches to move.

We were on the call for almost 2 hours. Each of us had our stories, trying to cram almost 40 years into a 5 minute sound byte. After high school – college/university? Work? Marriage? Re-Marriage? Kids? Kids getting married? No grand babies yet, but grand fur babies. Some of us were late starters who still have teenagers – or younger (there goes freedom 55!) Some of us working and not thinking about retirement because honestly – we are still young.

The gossip – oh the gossip. Does anyone still keep in touch with so and so? Who’s where with whom now? I started it off right off the bat with full disclosure. I did not marry the guy I was attached to at the hip for my last three years in high school. That got a laugh – elephant in the room. Some of these guys are still friends with that fellow. One of them texted him during our call to say that we all said “Hi” including me. Funny, not awkward. It happens. I’m always surprised when I hear of couples who last after being high school sweethearts.

I have good memories of high school. And from our conversation, it appears that I was not alone. We had great friends, really wonderful teachers who were committed to us as students and there was a real sense of community. Everyone’s done pretty well – there wasn’t enough time to get into all the serious stuff which I know we have all been through. But it was a happy call. My cheeks were aching from all the smiling and laughter. It was fun.

We didn’t fit into all the typical high school roles that Hollywood often depicts. We all seemed to socialize across the various “tribes”. But we acknowledged that we were lucky. We would talk to each other on Monday.

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And I just became 19 again -squee..

Did you know that a certain young actor, grew up to be a director and a writer? And he’s good. I read his book on his travels years ago and realized that the sensitive guy he appears to be in many of the parts he’s played, comes from within. As if I wasn’t already mad crushing …

To be published May 2021.

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Strong as a mother

Kamala Harris is fulfilling not only the dream of many young women but her destiny as only her mother would know. When she gave tribute to her mother in her speech this past weekend, with the proud smile on her face, I wonder if there wasn’t some tiny regret that her mom was not here to witness this momentous day. She likely felt the strength of her spirit as she walked up to the podium.

Like Kamala, I share an admiration for my mother and what she has accomplished. I also have roots in Montreal; my mother was an immigrant to Canada, who came here to further her education and happened to meet her husband here. Her parents thought she should be a nun, while she dreamed of being a nurse. Unbeknownst to her parents, she saved her money, planned with a friend with the help of her friend’s father, to leave home for an education. She convinced her parents eventually, and at 18 years of age, travelled from Hong Kong to England. Then on to Boston and before landing in Montreal. As a trained midwife and labor and delivery nurse, she wanted a career during a time when many women were focused on marriage and family. My mother never stopped working even after she and my father started a family. My sister and I were given so many opportunities to learn and grow as young girls (yes, mom was TIgermom -ish). She believed in us and encouraged us to be tough, independent, confident and smart. (My much younger brother has had an appreciation for strong women from a very young age!)

She has never been content with the one job – she took an interest in real estate and eventually worked as an agent part time as well. After she retired from nursing, she kept up with real estate. It became another career for her, with my Dad, they worked together as a retired couple until his death 11 years ago. Fiercely independent, she has carved out a new life on her own, new friends, new social circles, she is still our mama – still picking up toilet paper and groceries for us when she sees a sale! To this day – she just turned 83 – she still participates in a few real estate deals a year as she is still quick as a whip. She is active at church, she does dance and fitness classes (even pinch hit as the instructor every so often before Covid hit and everything became remote). Remember what I said? She is EIGHTY -THREE.

I remember a few years ago we did an exercise at work where we were asked to describe our hero. Without any hesitation I described my mother to my team. When I visited her a little while after that meeting, I told her that she was my hero. I’ve never seen my mother look so pleased. But what was even more surprising was what she said to me.

She told me she was so proud of me. A few years earlier, I had secured a promotion which she hadn’t really acknowledged beyond saying congrats. This time, she said it wasn’t so common for a VP to be a woman, especially a woman of colour. Now if you are Asian, you have to know that this is a big deal – your parents never tell you to your face that they are proud of you. They prefer to brag about you to their friends and complain about you to your siblings behind your back. I was flabbergasted, but told her how important that was to me.

I am so lucky that we had that conversation. I treasure that moment in time, at a Tim Horton’s parking lot of all places, after having a coffee. I am blessed that mom is still alive and well – so full of wisdom and wit, and love and pride for me that she is willing to share.

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History being made

Well wow, after some excruciating days, truth and democracy prevails… Kamala Harris a shining star, Joe Biden a class act to move things in the right direction. Some wonderful speeches that inspired, celebrated diversity, and unity. Decent people. What a concept.

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Book club

Before there was writing, there was reading. In my earliest memories of kindergarten, I was sitting in the corner on my own reading, while other kids were playing. I couldn’t yet speak English (although born in Montreal, I only spoke Cantonese until I started school). But I loved reading quietly to myself.

Nowadays reading has become a luxury. I have been lucky to be part of a book club with my neighborhood friends – we’ve been meeting monthly for about a decade now. I’ve come to rely on those get togethers as meetings of a sisterhood of course, but also to keep me accountable to my reading challenge. Reading is learning, reading is growth, reading challenges my assumptions and makes me think. And boy oh boy, 2020 has provided a lot of opportunity to think. Unfortunately the pandemic happened, is still happening, and we have not physically met for book club in over 6 months. With work going on overload, my reading has taken a back seat.

But when you set your mind to it, guess what – it is possible! In October I read 5, FIVE books:

(excuse my crappy images, I am writing on my iPad, still trying to figure out WORDPRESS as a platform, and I am the least techy OG blogger that I know).

Each was wonderful in its own way. But each was also very sad, with even the “happiest” offering, opening with the main character’s suicide. I loved “Midnight LIbrary” so much that I tweeted at the author, Matt Haig – and he replied – how cool is that? How cool is he?

The one that is really sticking with me, though, is “Coming up for Air”. Check out my review on Goodreads if you want to know more …

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Happily ever after

Full disclosure -I watch “The Bachelorette “ . I’m not a regular fan, I tend to skip a season here and there. It’s formulaic, silly, a distraction in these upside down times.

What a concept – here is a girl, given a pick of a couple dozen “bachelors”, they have cocktail parties, go on exotic dates, group and one-on-one “chats” where they get to know each other on a much deeper level, make out a lot, and through elimination over a number of weeks, (who will get a rose, he should get a rose, come’on I can’t believe didn’t get a rose, how could she not choose him?!) they narrow it down to a final two, she makes the excruciating decision and the guy ultimately gives her a honkin’ Diamond ring (which she can hang on to if they stay together at least a year). A normal process, always leads to true love and marriage right?

This season was going to be THE season, the most mature bachelorette ever (at the age of 39) … the guys ranging in age from 29 -39, which in all honesty is not such a bad thing, given the stats (and my 83 year old mother’s estimation, the husband SHOULD be younger than the wife, when you see all the lone widows around her, but I digress…). This was gonna be good.

But guess what? The bachelorette promptly went and fell in love on the first night, having some weird cosmic connection, she could not stop going on and on about him, how she had met her husband, sneaking away to have time with this guy any chance she got. There was drama from the other guys, what the heck was going on, could this really be happening, and on and on. So the season that was supposed to be “mind blowing” – was so disappointing, honestly. I was getting so annoyed with our heroine, gushing over this fellow, falling in love at first sight, rather embarrassed for her. Love isn’t a Harlequin romance (I gave those books up at 14).

Now I wonder though, if I am just being so judgey. An old judgey woman? I am one of the lucky ones, I met my husband when I was young, we’ve been together forever. We can almost finish each other’s sentences, each other’s thoughts. And we watch this show – TOGETHER. We laugh about it, and he tells me he gets a kick out of my reactions and what I chirp out at the TV because I’m such a crackup you know. I don’t know what I’d be like at 39 after a series of broken relationships, still looking for my elusive soulmate.

Why shouldn’t we believe in love, that it can be this quick connection that can last a lifetime? What about you, what’s your story?

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