Saturday, March 29, 2008

In pursuit of happiness...

'Happiness is a choice' is what I usually say to people who are down and in a rut. And now that I sit in the rut I've tried to help people get out of, I'm beginning to wonder... Is it really just a matter of opening your proverbial eyes and finding happiness again and throwing your smile back on your face? Five months have come and gone and at first it was easy: It was a novel idea of a big city girl living in a mining town, traveling and staying at hotels every few months, having a wickedly chill work environment with a family-like group of co-workers, getting paid more than I ever imagined I would after university.


And now, the dust has settled and I see the dismal town this big city girl has been dropped in, the traveling for work is wearing down my love of movement, I'm finding that the family-like group of co-workers have already established their lives here and don't need a newbie in the mix of regularity, and the paychecks are losing their luster. This is the first time I've been stuck wondering how to dust myself off and make myself the happy girl that select people have come to love.

Advice is always easier to give than to take. So note to self (and others who like to give advice): don't hand it out like it's candy because chances are you won't enjoy it like candy when it comes time to taking it yourself.

In an attempt at positivity, let's try to identify what I can be happy about:
My family, Ian, my health, work is going well, the weather is starting to show signs of improvement...

I guess in my time alone here, I've realized just how important friends are: They really are a support system. And somehow they've disappeared from the above list. I'm sorry to Ian because he is now carrying the burden my friends usually share the load of. We've become the victims of circumstance and I'm sorry for that because I was an accomplice in the crime.

per·se·ver·ance /ˌpɜrsəˈvɪərəns/ [pur-suh-veer-uhns]

1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., esp. in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Today I watched Bella and the movie reminded me of another story I once heard of... the story of a woman who gave up friends and a good job to be with a man in a foreign country. Just a year into the marriage, and there were already fears and proof of infidelity. How could a person do that to someone who gave up so much to be with them? More importantly though, how could a person have another child with this man and stay married to him? Perseverance is what it was/is. This woman refused to let go of the nuclear family life that she always dreamed she'd have. She sacrificed her own happiness to make it work for herself and for the sake of the children. Sometimes I don't know if I should be praising this woman or feeling sorry for this woman. If you get what you want by sacrificing true love and happiness is that a good thing? When is enough enough? But to be fair, I suppose she found true love and happiness in her children. If a person can persevere through a marriage like that, it takes a certain type of bravery. Some might say it would've taken a braver person to get out of that situation, but I'd have to disagree. It's a different kind. It takes different kinds of guts to get out of an unhealthy situation than it takes to seek and find love and happiness somewhere else within that situation.

I guess this thought-exercise has finally made me realize why she loves her children so much: it's the only love she's been able to attain for herself to shroud her dark past with. Some may misconstrue this love with over-bearing and protective, but that's what love should be, right? It should consume you and protect you. But wait: is it still perseverance in this case or is it love? Or is it because of love that perseverance exists?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hooked on phonics worked for me.

Every time we spoil each other with these extended visits, I get scared of the addiction I'll re-develop.

But like any good addict, you brace yourself for the withdrawal you'll go through after you get that little taste just one more time. And like any good addict, you've come to accept that you'll never be able to give it up, no matter how far or how long of a time you're away from it.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

RE: cancer rates in an aboriginal community downstream from oil sands production

Alberta Cancer Board apparently assessed the cancer rates in the community and concluded that cancer rates were on par with the rates of the rest of Alberta. Just because it's on par doesn't mean it's normal and acceptable, especially if the community's cancer rates were below the province's average before the boom in oil production began. The Alberta Cancer Board can't possibly say with 110% confidence that these cancer rates are acceptable when you're comparing apples to oranges. That conclusion has no substance because it's attempting to average an isolated spike in cancer rates with a population size magnitudes greater. It's statistically unsound to make this kind of conclusion. Does that mean if 50% of Albertans were suffering from cancer, then it's OK for a once untouched community to see those rates of cancer in their community? Shouldn't the government be concerned with rising cancer rates in any community in the province? Unless the Alberta Cancer Board has done studies on the community pre-development, then they cannot make any conclusion. The doctor who initially conducted the study even said that she did not have sufficient data to come to a conclusion. So of course the Board took whatever data she did have and pulled out provincial data sets to statistically fudge numbers to make a poorly substantiated claim about the community's cancer rates. I remember, quite clearly, from my first-year statistics class that you can come to very different conclusions based on the same statistics, depending on how you interpret those statistics. The conclusion that the Alberta Cancer Board came to clearly shows how they chose to interpret their data. But my argument to all these statistics is quite simple: cancer is the plague of the 21st century, so it's safe to say that cancer is associated with development in the modern world. Ergo, it should also be safe to conclude that there is a connection between a community that has been more exposed to development today than when they first settled the land and the rates of cancer that they are experiencing today. It's not a question of whether or not the community's cancer rates fall within some province-accepted cancer average, it's a question of whether these rates are unique and abnormal to that isolated community. If these cancer rates were always present in the community, what reason would they have to speak up now? Provincial "average" does not mean "acceptable" but that is what the Alberta Cancer Board is trying to define it as. According to my dictionary, as an adjective, "average" means "having qualities that are seen as typical of a particular person or thing". It also means "mediocre; not very good". So why don't we rephrase our question to the Alberta Cancer board and ask them how they define "average" and why the government acknowledges this average as "acceptable" when "average" implies "not very good" as well.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It was quiet, understated, and sweet: more than I could ever ask for. When ~80% of your relationship has been long-distance, that 20% you get makes Chinese food in the core of downtown Calgary taste that much sweeter; it makes cramped hotel rooms feel that much cozier; it makes life feel that much fuller.

We dropped a considerable amount on transportation alone, so I wanted dinner to be economical but still good, so hence why we ended up in Chinatown for our anniversary dinner =) It just so happened the hotel was on the corner of the Chinatown block. We skipped out on the dozens of gourmet restaurants on 8th Ave. for some 乾惼四季豆,麻婆豆腐,& 牛肉大餅. Yummm... I.S. got a 榴蓮冰沙 and we went to Second Cup for a green tea chiller for me.

The weekend felt like it completely flew by and I imagine the next 4.5 days of work for me will also fly right by, considering how much work I now have to do given that my direct supervisor is away for 3 weeks and quitting after his return, so it's all on me and I'm so not prepared for this... I have a hard time falling asleep because of all the thoughts running through my head and I get waken up early by the same things that prevented me from falling asleep >.< And so the stress finally begins. But I'm excited to spearhead another major project ("another" being in addition to the one I had in the summer). I like knowing that I'm the lead on an important project and that no matter where I end up, I'll leave a little legacy behind for someone else to pick up =) Perhaps I'm getting a taste of power and I like it...!

But speaking of power... I'm running out of it.

Thanks, I.S. for flying out here. One week away for S.F.!

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I can't remember the last time I 'rawred'. I thought the final phone call with M. counts as the most recent occasion, but it's not the same, at least not in the way I felt today. I've never seen it, but knowing the premise and the posters of the movie, I felt like Rocky today. That infamous image of him finishing his jog to the top of the stairs was what came to mind when I hung up the phone tonight. I was shaking, but I boxed it out of me. And threw a few kicks.

Lessons learned:
1. You can never be too careful.
2. Everything happens for a reason.
3. Whatever doesn't kill will only make you stronger.

I trust that the accident happened because I needed something to help me grow in a different way that I've forgotten about/tried to avoid. So perhaps the wind did blow the door open: to reveal a side of me that I should carry around with me more often. You know, just in case.

The Meaning of Life

It's a good question, especially after collecting yourself from being shaken up by a "minor incident". We are subjected to moments of trials and joys to culminate into what? I think people approach this question from the wrong angle though. Life doesn't "culminate" to anything, per se. Life is energy. To carry out life is to help perpetuate it. And why must this energy be perpetuated? To that, I say just because. Humans are constantly looking for an answer to everything and that's why we have Google and Wikipedia and the Discovery Channel and we refuse to accept that sometimes there's nothing to say in response to "why?" And that is where faith is based. Trusting without knowing. And that is where religions are based. Religions give people an answer to the "why", but yet there is nothing to answer the question of a religious idol. So there is no meaning to life. We just need to have faith in there being a purpose without knowing it. And in order to attain such faith is to work to bring yourself closer to something in life that gives you purpose and meaning. So you see: it's just a circle, which is life.