Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Fine Balance

Our society is based on an intricate balancing act.

Part of this balancing act is for survival.

Part of it is for the greater good.

Part of it is for greed and personal greed.

We are bombarded with some many images every day of what we should want in our lives and what would make our lives fulfilling. Fancy clothes, fancy house and cars, fancy toys. An education, a good salary and vacations.

But even when we take away the extra's, we are still left with a lot of dependence on society. Our basic needs: shelter, clothing and food cannot be met without the structure of our society. We go the grocery for our food, we buy a house and clothes. And we don't even really know where these things come from.

Where does our food come from? Where does our clothes come from? Where does the materials for our homes come from?

Food
A lot of our food comes pre-packaged and pre-made. There are so many "instant" meals - just add water or microwave. Where do the ingredients come from? What is the quality of the ingredients? What about additives and preservatives? How do they make it?

Basically it comes down to what we are putting in our body. And with the rising obesity rates, this should be a main concern for everyone.

In the past few years, I have been cooking for myself and one of the important things that I have learned is that we are capable of more than we think. And the conveniences of modern day supermarkets has spawned many businesses and products that we have come to depend on only recently. For instance - baking bread, cookies, cakes, soups, pasta, rice, juices, cut vegetables and fruits.

LeBlanc and I love to cook together, and we love to make things that we would otherwise buy. For instance, cottage cheese and dumpling wrappers. And I have to admit, even though we were completely newbies at it, I felt that the food definitely had fresh taste.

Clothes
Most of my clothes have a label thats came from China or a third world country.

I am aware of factories that do not treat their workers right who make clothes for major labels. But it's hard to make the connection between my clothes and people who I don't know. There are people who are suffering due to big labels taking advantage of desperate people in poor countries, but that's not the messages that we are made aware of in our society.

We are so separated from where our clothes came from, that we only see it placed nicely on a shelf with a big "sale" sign next to it. We don't know the rest of the story, and we may never.

Questions
But is it the fine balance that separates the raw materials from our final products that keeps our society running? Keeps the people of our society employed? Is our consumption what keeps the balance in our society?

Conclusions
I think back to my parents and how they sacrificed so much to give me and my sister a good life. In a way, I feel like they almost outsmarted our high consumption society.

How else would my father - working at a factory, be able to support my family (my mom, myself and my 2 sisters)? My mom stayed at home to take care of us, and together my mom and dad paid off their mortgage, and raised us. My sisters and I always had clothes on our backs (though un-stylish), we were always well fed, and most of all - happy.

Goals
To develop my consumer awareness and do my part to get back to the basics. Whether it be through my food, my clothing, or my household items.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas to All and a Happy New Year!!!

I know that there have been political debates over what is the correct terminology to use this time of the year.

I am sure that schools now are very different than when I was in school.

I went to public schools all my life, and have never been very religious though I consider myself spiritual. I remember when I was elementary school (between kindergarten to grade 5), we would get together in the school gymnasium a week or two before the holidays and sing Christmas carols together. The lyrics would be projected onto a large screen, and a teacher would be playing a piano and/or a guitar or another musical instrument for the musical accompaniment.

I especially remember "The Twelve Days of Christmas" because the grade five's always got to stand up and raise their hands when it got to "five golden rings."

Even though it might have been politically incorrect to sing Christmas carols in a public school, where many of the students are of different religions and backgrounds, as a child, I enjoyed this thoroughly. I didn't see it as a political anything, I just saw it as our school coming together at this special time, and find it sad that it's not done anymore.

So, even though, we are told that we should be wishing everyone a happy holiday to be politically correct, I prefer to wish people a Merry Christmas. It brings a warmer feeling to by heart at this special time of the year.

I hope you all had a very safe and Merry Christmas. I wish everyone all the best in the new year. May happiness find you and your family with many warm wishes from a chilly Canadian gal (moi!). Cheers!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hair Experiment: Take Three


Every time I go to my stylist, I am always scolded for washing my hair everyday. It's very harsh on one's hair and working in a mostly office environment, there is simply no need since it doesn't really get that dirty. My hair is oily because my scalp has been trained to produce this much oil.

I started reading more about products I use, and realized the chemicals found in most shampoos are really harsh on the scalp. Essentially they contain very similar ingredients to detergent!

Essentially it's a cycle which I started way back in my elementary school days (I also had super oily skin and broke out a lot). I wash my hair every day, and my scalp is used to producing this amount of oil. The only way out of this cycle is to re-train my hair to produce less oils.

Simple solution, right?

Wrong.

I have attempted this THREE times this year, right now being my third attempt.

Attempt 1:
I was reading FabulouslyBroke's blog and was inspired to jump on the bandwagon of no shampoo. I made my own apple cider vinegar rinse and bought my boar bristled brush. I tried this for a little over a week and gave up. My hair was super oily. Very gross. I couldn't show up to work like this! FAIL.

Attempt 2:
I bought a shampoo (Kiss My Face) that was organic and much more gentle. I decided to try using this every other day and ease myself into the whole washing my hair less deal. This attempt lasted just under two weeks. My hair was still not used to this and looked oily.

Attempt 3:
I have been using the gentle shampoo for about a couple months now, and I felt that I was ready to try this again. I have cheat a little and tie my hair up the second day, and I also wash my bangs. I am no in my fifth week and I look presentable for work! Yippee! I finally noticed my oils decreasing this weekend on the second day!!! So excited!

Conclusion:
I wanted to see this experiment through a 6 to 8 week period, and decide where to go from there. It's hard for me to stop cold turkey on anything. So by easing my way through this, I think it works best, even if it takes longer. In the end, I want to take better care of my hair, and also my wallet. It's a win-win situation which just takes some adjusting to. Will report back results in a few weeks!

What are some of your hygiene habits that you want to kick??? Any experiments that you conduct that you would like to share???




Monday, December 14, 2009

Poor Sucker

I went to a very technologically savvy school. In other words, I went to a super geeky nerd school where a high volume of my fellow classmates are socially disfunctional.

During my single two years of being single between dating Almond and LeBlanc, I have had my fair share of awkward encounters with socially disfunctional guys. Such is the life of a (female) engineering student.

But this weekend topped it off the stereotypical socially awkward engineer.

Background:
I know A. from one of my co-op terms. He is two years older than me and we used randomly bump into each other at school maybe once a school term. We would have some small chat, and that was it.

I have been out of school for almost 2 years, and him almost 4.

One of the girls, L, at work was in the same graduating class as him. He finds this out and suggests that we all go out for dinner to meet up and catch up. L and I see no harm and we go out for dinner.

That was about a month or two ago, and I haven't thought much of it since. Then out of nowhere, I get this in my inbox yesterday. Bam!

From: A
To: Des
Subject: A favour
December 12 at 10:30am

Hi Des,

I hope all is well with you. Are you looking forward to the holidays?

I am wondering if you could do me a favour. I am interested in your friend from your civil class, Jane*. I have met her a few times when I have spoken to a mutual friend (such as yourself). I often saw her with you, whenever I would run into you. She might recognize my face, but she might not know my name. Do you know what her relationship status is? Any idea if she might be interested in me? Sorry for throwing this at you. I would like to contact her but I don't want to shock her or come across as a creep. This would mean a lot :)

Let me know what you think.

Cheers,
A


From: Des
To: A
Subject: Re: A favour
December 13 at 6:19pm

Jane has a boyfriend.

From: A
To: Des
Subject: Re: A favour
December 13 at 8:01pm

Thanks for replying.

My first thought, "WTF is wrong with this guy?! And why did he reply back to a rhetorical email?!"

Awkward. Awkward. Awk. Ward.

I don't know this guy very well AT ALL.

The last time he saw my friend was probably THREE years ago.

This e-mail screams "creepy," and saying "I don't want to come across as a creep" doesn't make it any less creepy.

Why would you think this was a good idea?! What could be the best case scenario?

The sad thing is is that A probably spent a really long time mustering the guts to decide to make a move. Then, another chunk of time composing this email. Reading and re-reading. Writing and re-writing it to make it not come across as "creepy." Very ironic.

Conclusion: A part of me feels bad for this guy, another part of me feels that he should have known better. Poor sucker.

*Note: Jane is not her real name.

Disclaimer: This story is based on my experience and my observations as a female engineer in a dominantly male field. I am generalizing based on my experience. There is a bit of tongue and cheek, and this is not meant to offend any male engineers who are not socially awkward. (Besides, if you weren't, there would be no need for this disclaimer in the first place, right?)
;)

Any thoughts on this matter?? How would have you responded to A if you were in my position?? Is it just engineering males??

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mentors and Flashbacks of my Childhood


I am applying to a volunteer program in my community that is similar to the "Big Brother, Big Sister" program. We are matched up with a youth and we spend three hours together once a week for an entire year.

There are a few reasons I have decided to do this.

1) Having worked for a year and half, I have a better feel for my job, and feel that this is something that I can and want to work into my schedule.

2) I had a lot of good mentors growing up, and they have set me on the path that has brought me to where I am today.

3) I think that everyone can use a good mentor.

4) Kids are bombarded with so many different messages from media every day, that its good to have someone who is real, and ready to share with them their experiences.

5) I truly believe that education is the best gift you can give to yourself. It opens up opportunities that are endless. I want to encourage this thought to the future of tomorrow.

6) I already am a real big sister. I have two little sisters, and since they are all grown up, I can now have another mentee (aka victim).

As a kid, my mentors growing up are my parents and my teachers. For a very long time, I always felt like the awkward kid in class, but I remember my teachers always saw the potential in me.

Even though I was born in Toronto, my family spoke Cantonese at home, and I hardly knew any English when I started kindergarten. I was enrolled in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs until I was in grade 3. I remember kids in my class would make fun of me and call me names like "ching chong."

My mom was always very strict with my school work, and would make sure that my sisters and I were on top of our homework. She would assign additional homework, since she didn't think that we got enough from school. I quickly became the "brainer" in my class, and was also teased and made fun of. "Brainiac" or "smarty pants."

I wore glasses and had bad acne from grade 7 to grade 10, I can assure you that I felt very unattractive for what felt like forever. I'm sure that no boy ever liked me because of this, and I was always afraid to admit (except to my close group of friends) which boy I liked, for fear of the boy reacting with "Ewwwww. Des likes me!"

For anyone who has ever suffered from acne, it's a terrible thing. And even though, it looks bad on the outside, it feels worse on the inside. I had very low self esteem, and I remember wanting to just sleep until it went away. I couldn't even imagine myself without it. Would I finally be pretty without acne?

I started seeing a dermatologist in grade 10, and eventually my acne went away. I started to feel a bit better about how I looked, but I was still very shy and reserved. I was sure that no boy would still like me. I always convinced myself that I would concentrate on school first, and everything else second.

I had great high school teachers whom I still think of today for helping me get where I am today.

Ms. D - She was my teacher for grade 11 and Calculus. She was a wonderful teacher who really cared about her students. She encourages myself and other young women to take control of our financial future, and start saving and investing in our future. I wish that I had listened to her in grade 12, but I guess it's never too lateputting those thoughts to actions.

Ms. C - It was in her class that I learned to combine class lectures with text books stuff. I also learned to ask for help when I needed it. A lot of kids in my class didn't like her because she was tough, and gave her a hard time. Bullying could happen to anyone and it is never acceptable.

Mr. S - He used to be a student at my high school and was a complete genius. He went off to university on a full scholarship, and became a published researcher during his graduate studies. He decided that this wasn't the thing for him, and pursued a teaching degree and started doing what he loved - teaching high school physics. He would make up crazy, entertaining test questions involving Gingerbreadman and Secret Agent 001 (himself), and do fun projects in class.

In high school, I worked part time on weekends at McDonald's and saved every penny towards college tuition. I also tutored several nights a week for classmates, younger students, etc, and pu that money towards my college tuition fund. My parents are poor, and I was scared shitless that I wouldn't have enough money to go to school, and have to work my entire life at a dead end job.

After working for 3 summers, all my part time work combined, I saved about $14,000. Enough to cover me for 1 year! I applied to an engineering school with a Co-op program which allowed me to alternate 4 months of school with 4 months of work after my first year. My work terms were also a great opportunity to sample various civil engineer fields.

College was a great time for me. It wasn't just the schooling, but meeting so many new people who are also like me. They might have been the "nerds" in their class, and been teased the same way I was for being "smart" or wearing glasses. The classes were definitely more challenging, and I was learning all the math and physics I could possible want (my 2 favourite subjects in high school!).

I am very lucky to have been touched by so many mentors. I hope that through my volunteer work, I can be a good mentor to a little girl with some big dreams. And share with her some of my experiences and help her reach her dreams.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Performance Review


It went well!

My manager thinks that I will be ready for a promotion very soon. I am excited to be taking on more responsibility, learning new things and earning more money.

I've been working for a year and a half now. I feel very thankful for still having a job during these tough economic times, and having a job that I look forward to.

Talking to my manager about my future, I start to feel more like a career woman. I no longer feel like a student, and I am thinking more long terms towards what I would like to be doing. It's both an exciting feeling, and a bit overwhelming.

It's funny, when I was little, my parents always were very strict with me regarding my studies. They didn't want me to struggle financially, as they have. Never would I have imagined that this career stuff would be more of a journey, than simply a destination.

True, I graduated from engineering school, and started working as an engineer. However, the work doesn't stop there. And I feel that path is still not chosen, yet. Having got a college education, I feel has been the major step in opening up many doors to career opportunities.

This is just the beginning, and I am so thankful that my parents were such great role models and guided me on the right path.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Des's Financial Journey


Last summer, I started my financial journey as a full time engineer fresh out of school. I moved out of my parent's house and have been living on my own ever since.

This January, I had saved enough to pay off all of my $8000 in student loans I had accumulated during my studies.

After that, I had a net worth of just under $10,000.

I have been on a financial journey this year to learn more about my finances, and how I can work towards a future of financial freedom. I don't need a lot of money in my life, what makes me happy are the simple things.

I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and now my wonderful boyfriend, LeBlanc.

I love to cook, and I love playing volleyball.

I always seek to learn new things, whether it be through taking a course, reading a book, or just experimenting with new things.

I am learning to live a more minimalistic lifestyle. Basically living with less, but better. I try to apply this principle in the various aspects of my life. I try to live below my means, but still enjoy the things that are important to me, by compromising on things that are secondary.

Growing up in a family where money was always tight, I've grown up watching my parents save every penny. The most important lessons I've learned from my parents is to alway live below my means, and that materials items aren't the things that really matter in life.

Here is a glimpse into my bank account over this year to date.

My Savings
My savings have grown from $5000 (lump sum) to $12,429. I have divided that amount into different sub funds, as follows:
Emergency Fund $5880
Travel Fund $1535*
Freedom Fund $4009
General Savings $1005
*I took out $1400 earlier this year for my trip to Europe with LeBlanc

My Retirement Savings
My retirement savings is split between my ING account and an account with Manulife where I have company matching from my work. I started by putting $1000 into my ING account in January in the Streetwise Balance Fund, and have been making monthly contributions.

In April, I started investing $200 directly from each paycheck into my Manulife account into mostly index funds, and hence, decreased my contribution into my ING account. I started investing more money into my Manulife account because my contribution was not taxed, and my take home pay was almost the same.

Altogether, I have saved $11,003 in my RRSP's so far, as follows:
ING Streetwise Balance Fund $7260
Manulife Account $3743

Investments
At the beginning of this year, I was a little overwhelmed by learning about RRSP's, index funds, savings, etc. However, about a month ago, I felt that I wanted to try my hand at investing in individual stocks. I opened up a Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) and deposited $5000 in it to "play" with.

I invested in 3 stocks that I wanted to hold for long term: Birkshire Hathaway, Loblows and Rona.

Sometimes my stocks go up, and sometimes they go down. The highest balance I held was at $5260 last week, and this week it went down to $5045. I know this is all part of riding the market, and it's too soon to tell. Will report back in 6 months time.

In my checking account: $4780.

My total net worth today is: $33,257

I have one more paycheck this year, with expenses it will be $1445 and an additional RRSP deposit with company match of $470. For a potential balance of $35,172!!!

I have already paid my rent for this month and have about 3 weeks left of expenses in the year. I am so excited!!

Being realistic, I still haven't gotten gifts for my parents and LeBlanc. I don't usually exchange gifts with my friends and sisters, though we go out for lunch or dinner, instead. I also want to treat myself for doing a great job learning about my finances and working hard to stick to a budget. Reasonbly, I am looking at a year end balance of $34,500 after my normal expenses and some holiday expenses.

This is what I have in mind for my treat!

I love MAC makeup and I have been looking to buy some good brushes for a while now. They always have great deals during the holiday season (this set is for $58!), since these brushes usually cost at least $35 each, if you buy them individually full sized.


I love this sweater dress from ModCloth.com! Unfortunately they are out of stock and there is a $20 shipping charge to Canada! Ouch! So, I am looking for a super soft, preferably cashmere sweater that I can snuggle up in while looking effortlessly chic.

Note: I am NOT a financial advisor, and these are stories from my experience. Please consult your financial advisor when seeking advice on your investments and financial decisions.

How is your financial journey going??? What are some of the financial goals you have accomplished this year???

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pet Peeve: GreyPower Ad



I really loathe this ad. I don`t watch tv that much, but even in the short amount of tv time, this ad manages to show itself at every commercial break! It`s annoying and belittling! I can`t believe its has been allowed to air for so long!

As a woman, I find it sexist.

Even though they claim to be providing lower insurance premiums for middle age drivers, when I watch the ad this is what I hear:

We will provide you with a low insurance premium if you are a middle aged male.

I woman, I am offended and will never buy insurance from Grey Power. If they really wanted to enforce that they are specifically providing insurance for middle aged individuals, then why didn`t they use a teenager in the ad, instead of a forty something year old woman.

Newsflash 1: Men do not significantly buy more driving insurance than women. There is only about 5 - 7% more men with driving insurance than women. With this ad, they are potentially losing almost half their customer pool. (From a discussion with a friend who does research at an insurance company.)

Newsflash 2: Generally, women tend to outlive men. In Canada, the life expectancy of men is about 79 years old and the life expectancy for women is 84 years old. And I can assure you that when I reach my middle age and further, I will not be insured by Grey Power.


It seems to be me a very sexist and ageist ad that is discriminating against people. Just because you are a middle aged male does not make you a good driver. I am not saying that women are great drivers , or they driver better - that depends on the person. But it seems this ad is saying that middle aged men are better drivers and deserve a better rate than the rest of society.

When I was driving to work yesterday, some male bozo did the exact same thing this lady in the ad did. It was morning rush hour, and he felt it was necessary to swerve in front of me and cut me off to show that I should be going at 60kph instead of 55 kph. And, as if the 30 second honk did not get the message across, he also waved his hands and made demeaning hand gestures so I could see through his rear windows.

He was a middle aged male. Does he deserve a better premium than me?

What are your thoughts on this ad??? Do you think it is belittling to women or am I just being to sensitive???

Random Quotes from This Week



I went to get my H1N1 flu shot this weekend. My mom still thinks I`m a little kid and will cry over needles.

Mom: I hope you don`t cry, Des. When I got this needle the other day with your father, I saw a little girl cry because it hurt her so much.

me: How old was this little girl, mom?

Mom: I think 6 or 7 years old.

me: Mom, this little girl (*points to myself*) is twenty five years old.


LeBlanc and I were just hanging out on the couch and my arm was killing me. It. Hurt. So. Much.

me: I`m afraid that if you touch this arm, I will have to kill you.

LeBlanc: That seems fair. I remember when I got my shots, it was very painful.

me: Oh, yea. And I remember punching you in excitement about something. But you didn`t kill me.

LeBlanc: Oh, I`m sure I thought about it.


I decided to bake some cookies this weekend. I usually don`t bake. I love to cook, but I find the chemistry behind baking to be daunting and overwhelming. I bring in the extra cookies to work the next day to share.

Manager: Oh, you bake often, Des?

me: No, not at all. I had to run out to get all the ingredients!

Manager: Like cream of tartar?

me: No. Like flour.

And my manager bursts out laughing!

What are your funny quotes of the week???

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Story of the "L" Plateau


Thanks for your inspiring comment Greears!

I had some time to think about my "dilemma", and it really is not a dilemma at all. I am very happy, and LeBlanc is wonderful. Yes, in a perfect world, he would be proclaiming his love for me through Disney songs while dancing with the deers , and picking me up for our dates in a carriage that was made from a pumpkin with fairy dust.

But in this world, it's a hug and kiss in the mornings when he's too groggy to even think. Giving me massages. Cooking me dinner. Taking me to a show just because I want to dress up. Asking me for input on his next projects for work, if he's going somewhere far away. I've been greedy, and I admit it.

After LeBlanc and I had the talk, I took sometime and put together this story. As much as I try to be open and honest, there are some times when I am not. I do clam up. But I wanted him to know how I felt and this was pretty much most of what was on my mind after our talk.

"The Story of the 'L' Plateau" by des

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful little boy who liked to do nice things for a certain little girl and make her happy.

Sometimes, he would make her dumplings. Sometimes he would get free coffee from McDonalds in the early AM (drink most of both thier cups, but alas, that is a minor detail). Sometimes, he would take her out for a fancy wine tasting or watch a Cirque du Soliel show, so that she could satisfy her fancy of dressing up. And sometimes, he would give her random massages just because.

One very special day, the little boy bought her a beautiful cardigan sweater and matching cami (great taste,indeed), and wrote a very cute card that was decorated with stars, flowers, hearts and cloud puffs, reading "My life is richer because you're in it." Even though, the little girl was very happy, she had thought the little boy was ready to move the "love" plateau, and her little ego was hurt when the little boy did not come through.

Even though the little boy showed the little girl how he cared through his actions (see above), the little girl was still bothered after that night. She debated whether to tell him or not, and eventually she told him. In a most unattractive, bawling kind of manner.

Afterwards, the little girl and the little boy had a serious talk about the "L" word. The little girl had some time to think about how she handled the situation, and she has concluded this: Even though, she was right to tell the little boy what was going on in her head, and how she felt hurt, she doesnt want to give it more power than it deserves.

The little girl does not think that the little boy is slow at relationships, and thinks he is doing a wonderful job of showing the little girl how much she means to him even though he is not hard wired for being verbally emotive. However, occasionally, the little girl gets a little greedy. and wants verbal confirmation, when in fact, she doesn't really need it.

So, the little girl wants the little boy to know that she is very lucky to have him in her life. She also feels a little silly for having made somewhat of a big kuffufle. When in fact, the little boy shows the little girl how much she means to him, through his actions, everyday, and makes her feel very special and happy.

The little boy and the little girl then ride off into the sunset on pink unicorns who never fart, and they all live happily ever after.

The End.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Retail Therapy


Sort of. I just ogled these dresses from ModCloth.

*drool*

I don't own many dresses (I blame it on my tom boy-ish engineering ways). But it is never too late to start, ogling. And I just bought a beautiful sweater dress last winter from Banana Republic, and I love how it is so simple to look more put together with a dress :).

These are my picks from ModCloth. Too bad for the $19 shipping to Canada fee. Hmph.


I love the flowers on the neckline and the subtleness of the stripes

I love cowl necks! And I love the simpless-ness with a pop of bubbles.
I love the flowers on the neckline and the simple-ness of the skirt-like bottom.
Again, I love the simple-ness of the black and white. I love the creases at the waist, and the flower at the neckline.
I love the punches of red.
It's a simple cut, and it's more of an office-look.
I love the detail at the waistline and the way the bottom flows out.
I love the simple vibrant blue. I also love the pleats, and the waist band.
I know, another black-and-white. I love the cowl neck and the button detail at the waist.
I love the pattern and shape.
I love the casual and chic look of this sweater. It looks cozy and femine all at once.I'm not usually a fan of the one shoulder-look. But I think this looks so "natural" with the ruffles.
I love the lace at top, and the vibrant blue sash.
I could totally wear this lounging around with tights or skinny jeans tucked in some knee high boots.
Simple black dress, but I love the shape of it. I love thee flutteri-ness of the sleeves and the glittery cinch in the waist.
I'm not sure if I can pull on a strapless, but I love the teal and asymmetrical pleating of this dress.
Again, love the ruffles and the shape of this dress. I feel like I would enjoy an opera more just wearing this dress!
I love how simple this dress is. There is just enough detailing in the sash and bow at the waist to make it pop.
Again, I love how the dress is simple with detailing at the waist and the hem of the dress.
I love the metallic material and the scrunching look at the top tied altogether with a simple black belt.
I love the coziness of this sweater. I wonder how it would look with long sleeves (I always find short sleeved sweaters so strange.)
I love the simpless-ness of this dress. How the pleats pull into the waist, and then flow outwards.

*swoons*

Which ones do you like??? Do you have a dress that makes you feel like a million bucks???

It Bothers Me


I'm not sure if LeBlanc not saying "I love you" should bother me this much, but it does. A couple times, I was thinking about it since last weekend, and I teared up. Truth be told, it hurt more than I thought it would when I didn't read those words on his anniversary card, last weekend. It was too much to keep inside. I told him, today.

me: I don't want you to say anything that you don't mean. But I wonder when you would be ready to say them, or if you would be. It's been bothering me.

LeBlanc: I don't know, Des. I'm very slow at emotional and relationship stuff. What does that mean to you - love?

me: It would mean that I am someone who is special in your life. Someone you care deeply about. Someone whom you may have a future with, one day.

LeBlanc: You are special to me. Very special. In a good way. And I always looking to spending time with you. And I want to keep spending time with you.

me: What does it mean to you - love?

LeBlanc: I don't know.

Pause.

LeBlanc: I'm not too good at this emotional part. I am very slow at relationship stuff, I think I need to take some time and think.

I'm not sure if it was the right thing to tell LeBlanc how I felt. My original plan was just to leave it until he is ready to say it. However, I think its important that he knows that going on in my head, and something is obviously bothering me. I don't want him to "fix" it and tell me something that's not true.

What do you think?? Would you say something in my position???


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our Anniversary :)


This weekend, LeBlanc and I celebrated our first anniversary together. We both couldn't believe that it's been a year already since that fateful night.

I wasn't sure if I would be able to spend our anniversary together, so I made LeBlanc a gift basket of some herbal tea, a cologne, special tea cup, and pillows before he went away to Australia.

Last weekend, I reminded LeBlanc that our anniversary. LeBlanc went shopping (shock!) and got me a cardigan and cami - and it fits!

When I was reading his card, I started to cry halfway through. Even though most of it was happy tears, I was also a little sad. When he asked me if they were tears of happiness, I nodded, but that wasn't entirely true. I thought that he might say "I love you," or something to that effect, but he didn't. I haven't said to him since that night.

It's funny, everything he does makes me feel like I am special to him, and that he cares a great deal about me. But I guess I would like the verbal reassurance, as well. I don't really want to bring it up, because I don't want him to feel pressured to say it if he's not ready. At the same time, I feel a little hurt.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thoughts on Weddings (in general)

No, LeBlanc and I are not getting married. These are just my thoughts on weddings, in general. Especially after my experience through some of my friends' and co-workers' weddings.

To be honest, I'm not sure if I want a "traditional" wedding, or maybe even any wedding. Coming from a big Asian family, and being the oldest grandchild on my dad's side, I have a fear that my wedding would become some sort of circus show of varying degrees of family politics and having face. Basically, I feel that I have to be putting on a big show. I am also lazy, and am not the type of person to "ooohh" and "aaaah" over flowers, napkins, center pieces, decorations, etc. I don't want to spend a lot of money on things just to put on what I feel is a very expensive show.

Weddings are expensive, and I don't want to spend money on planning an event that is so stressful. Even with just the "basics", usually you still have the following expenses for 50 to 80 guests:
  • Dress ($500 - $1000)
  • Hair and make up ($100 - $300)
  • Venue ($3000 - $7000)
  • Flowers and decorations ($1000 - $3000)
  • Photography/videography ($1000 - $2000)
  • Wedding cake ($300 - $800)
I want to spend money on things that are important to me, and putting on a big show is not. I don't want to be a bride who is simply waiting for her wedding day to be over, because she is so stressed.

Having said all that, this is what I would like, if I were to have a wedding (non big show style).

I would love to have a very small outdoor wedding with about 10 to 12 people. In the fall, in a park with my parents, my sisters and one or two close friends. I would like to do the traditional tea ceremony with my parents. We'd take a few photo's to remember and then take everyone out for dinner afterwards.

No big decorations. No flowers (except maybe a bouquet). No center pieces. No fancy invitations or name cards. No band. No cake. Though I would like a dress. Maybe not a completely traditional western or Chinese one. Maybe one like this.
Just us and the people who mean the most to us.

I am not bashing big weddings, I just know that's not what I want, and its not what makes me happy. This is partly because of the craziness I hear and experience. I just feel that society portrays that as a bride, you get to go crazy because it is your day. You get to be a princess and throw the biggest party because it will make you happy. A beautiful gown. A gorgeous cake. Breath taking flowers. The perfect venue and menu.

Except that when I think of all those things, I feel there is a daunting list of things to plan, to arrange, and to make sure that everyone is happy - and that's what I don't want. It stresses me out.

What are your thoughts on weddings?? Do you want a big wedding or small wedding?? What is the most important part of a wedding for you???

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Long Distance Relationship Work and Playful Banter


I'm not one who is new to long distance relationships. Almond and I had done it several times. As with any relationship, it shouldn't be too difficult, but at the same time, it's not easy. In a nutshell, these are the most important take away points I've learned.

Usually, there is very little time to spend together (i.e. on the phone). You usually see only the best of each other at those times, and would rather not bring up topics that are not so happy. Sometimes, important issues can get swept under the rug because you don't want to waste this precious time you have together. Similarly, these items which get swept under the rug can get pent up and explode into a very ugly situation.

LeBlanc has been away on business in Australia for the past month. Having a 16 hour time difference puts some strain on our relationship. We talked about it before he left, and one of the things we were going to work on was communication and trying to include each other in our daily goings, with a combination of phone calls, texting, and e-mails.

As hard as we both try, one person usually does more of the above than the other. In my case, I felt a little neglected when LeBlanc and I hadn't talked in a few days. I knew that he had been working really long hours, and could just picture that when he came home, he would just collapse into sleep. But still. I wanted a call. I am his girlfriend. I am human. And I am selfish. Hmmph.

I also happened to be having a not-so-great week at work. I was afraid that I would be mad with feelings of pent up neglect by the time LeBlanc finally called, so I texted him a "heads up".

Des: I am feeling neglected.

LeBlanc: Terribly sorry... Meant to call you last night but fell asleep as soon as I got home. What are you up to now?

Des: At work.

LeBlanc then called. It was so great hearing his voice and the anger melted away. I told him about my week, and he told me about his. His project had hit somewhat of a stand-still and he wasn't sure if he would be back in Toronto (his project was originally 7 weeks overseas). I was almost afraid to hope that he'd be back for fear of it not happening.

Anyway, after our brief chat, I went back to work, and he got up to start his day.

I got an e-mail shortly after.

To: Des
From: LeBlanc
Subject: Fwd: Awwww... Poor Piglet

Just wanted to remind you that I do read your messages : )
-- LeBlanc

To: LeBlanc
From: Des
Subject: Re: Fwd: Awwww... Poor Piglet

Thanks :)

I do send a lot of them. I guess I think of you often.

I did feel a little miffed last night and this morning. These if a part of me that is understanding, and a part of me that is not, and sometimes they clash. I just feel how I feel, and figured I should let you know so that I don't explode on you, and squander the little time we do have to talk being mad. I know you are working a lot and long hours, and frustrated about your project. And I don't want to add to your stress, and I hope that I am not.

I hope your project works out, I know how much you were looking forward to it. I am excited for you! And I will keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best.

*kiss*
-- Des

To: Des
From: LeBlanc
Subject: Fwd: Awwww... Poor Piglet

That e-mail made me smile a lot... especially on the inside.

I hope that's what you were going for.
-- LeBlanc

Then the playful text banter. My favourite part!

Des: I probably should have added in the e-mail that patience is not one of my virtues.

LeBlanc: It's OK... Luckily, I'm a wonderful person.

Des: Yes, as wonderful as your are modest.

LeBlanc: Yes... Lots of both. (Said with a smile).

Des: Sounds perfect. Now you only need a spice rack*.

*Inside joke. I was impressed with this guy my friend is dating because he has a spice rack in his apartment. Lame, I know.

Update: LeBlanc came back yesterday afternoon! Hooray! And he brought a little friend for me, Mr. Koala aka Mr. K.**
**This is not an actual picture of Mr. K, but he does look very similar.

What are your experiences with long distance relationships? And what words of wisdom do you have to share about you long distance experience?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too Much Apologizing?


I'm the type of person who will be ridden with guilt, if you tell me that I've hurt your feelings, or hurt you in any way. I will feel absolutely terrible. I will rack my brains trying to retrace all steps that led to this situation, and I will apologize for absolutely everything that I can think of that has led to this. Then, I will beat up on myself for not having realized it soon. That's a pattern that I've noticed in the last few years.

It's true what they say, "It's a lot easier making friends than keeping them."

This weekend, I went out with a bunch of friends from my college class - kinda like a little class reunion of the "FOB" group. I wasn't particularly close to most people in the group, but we often studied together and hung out during college. The one person I was closer to in the group, J, seemed to be upset at me.

Just the distant kinda feeling, where even though it's been a while, they are not as super excited to see you as you are them. Ouch. She wasn't rude, or anything, but when I suggested we get together, she didn't say much.

I remember when Almond and I were on the verge of breaking up, he said something like, "I'm tired of always being the one who apologizes." I guess that's how I feel now.

J and I have had 2 major fights where I felt like I was fighting more than I should be for our friendship.

Example 1:
I went on exchange to Singapore with a classmate, P. We were all friends, and there was obviously chemistry and something going on between her and P. What I didn't know what that P had a gf in another city. Upon knowing this, and knowing that J and P's gf deserved better, I tried to convince J that this was a bad idea, but also tried not to judge her.

J and P try to do the "just friends" thing for a while, and J ends up getting hurt even more.

Fast forward to Singapore, P is the only person I know there. Even though I felt like I hated his guts for what he did to my friend, I can't explain to you the relief of a familiar face in a foreign country. So we start hanging out sometimes, though I did eventually meet new friends.

I also met P's gf (Note: They had broken up but had previously made plans to go on exchange to the same school in Singapore. Awkward.), and we hung out sometimes. I found out that she was actually a very cool person, and we had a ton in common, so we became friends. I told J that we were friends, but I didn't really go into much detail since I knew that J saw her as "the enemy." Even though there was a time difference of 12 hours or so, and we didn't talk as frequently, I felt that J had started giving me the cold shoulder.

After much prodding, I find out that she's actually de-friended me on Facebook, and has indeed been purposely giving me the cold shoulder. She said that she felt that I had betrayed her by being friends with P's ex gf.

I spent the next week trying to explain myself, that it was not my intention to betray her and I was still her friend. As an exchange student, you meet all the exchange students, and she was just someone I had a lot in common with. I never would have brought what happened between her and P up, or discuss it with her. This apology went on for almost a month, and things were still a little awkward when I came back from exchange, until she felt that she could trust me, again. Even last year, when I saw her MSN status as: "Why would you be friends with someone who hurt me?" when she found out that we had gone out for dinner.

I felt that I was always there for J when she was going through the P ordeal. But I never saw that P's ex gf had hurt her. If anything, P and J should have known better. But I still don't see anything wrong being friends with someone whom I click with. At the end of it, J believed me that I didn't mean to hurt her, and accepted my apology. But on hindsight, was there really a need for me to defend myself and my loyalty to her that much? Did I really need to apologize and practically beg for forgiveness? I don't know, but I did because I thought her friendship was really important to me.

Example 2:
Last year, we were all planning our graduation trips. Though, I'm no world traveler, I've done my share of traveling, and have a few suggestions / pointers when asked.

I lived in Boston for 4 months, and have traveled to New York City NY, Cleveland OH, Houston TX and some neighboring states. I also went on exchange in Singapore for 4 months and visited various cities in Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand.

Mostly, I have backpacked through out and explored with my group of friends. The Lonely Planet Guides were awesome. (Not the best thing out there, but definitely very practical.) My friends and I (including LeBlanc) stayed in hostels and guest houses, took buses/ subways or taxi's to get around.

I was often surprised at how there was always some way to communicate, whether it be pointing at a map, using a hand gestures, or speaking a little broken dialect from one of our backgrounds. It felt like there was some sort of global connection anywhere we went. After these trips, I strongly believe that with a little research, everyone can plan their trip to almost anywhere in the world, and tailor it to their style and budget.

So when I heard that J's graduation trip was joining a Contiki tour to see Europe in 2 weeks, I kinda knew how it would be like, and how much she would probably enjoy it. She was seeing about 7 countries in 2 weeks. I knew it would be mostly travel time, and spending maybe only a few hours at each site before rushing to the next site, or a hotel. But when I tried to explain this to her when she asked for my opinion, she only saw it as me putting down her trip and being unsupportive.

We have a tight group (four of us) and what I didn't realize was that she had told my other two friends who basically saw it the same way she did, but also empathized with her, i.e., big bully Des picking on little J who was so helpless. I'm serious. It was only when I was getting the cold shoulder from one of the two other friends that I was confused.

Again, I apologize for hurting J's feeling even though I had done it with the best of intentions. And I knew that when she came back from the trip that she felt that it was just going from one site to the next. It's never a simple apology, I always feel like I need defend myself and prove to her that I'm a good friend despite the mishap.

Fast forward to now-ish. She's been busy with her life, and I've been busy with mine. I try to keep in touch via e-mail or a phone call every so often to see how she is doing. But when my e-mails go unanswered and my phone calls go unreturned, I feel it is rude, and am a little peeved myself. She also cancelled out last minute on a few plans, and I guess I just feel ditched. I try to be understanding and shake it off, but I feel how I feel.

So at this dinner thing, I suggested we do something, and she said, "Well, the last time we did something was for your birthday." I think she was mad that I kinda forgot about hers. I guess she has a right to be mad, but it's way too late now. And I just don't feel like apologizing and fighting for our friendship. Again.

It's not that I have a problem with apologizing, it's just that it doesn't end with the apology. I feel like there are so many loops to jump through afterwards. To once again prove that I am a good friend.

Obviously I make mistakes, but so does everyone else. And so does she. She has hurt me before, but I don't make her feel bad about it for weeks or months at a time. J was supposed to go on exchange to Singapore, as well. We made plans for it, for almost a year. I was looking forward to spending 4 months abroad with my friend. The week we are about to leave, she changes her mind and cancels. When she first told me, I was devastated and angry. I was really disappointed.

But I thought that our friendship was more important than this trip, so when she apologized, I accepted her apology and made the effort to get together before I left. I wanted to let her know that I was mad when she first told me, but I was trying to understand and I wasn't mad anymore. Though I did wish she would be there to share all the fun with me, and would miss her.

I'm not trying to measure "sizes of mistakes" or anything, but on hindsight, that was a huge dissappointment for me, but I wasn't mad for long, nor did I want to make her feel bad. I mean, forgiving a friend is easy. But I feel like when I do something that has wronged her, it's always so much to get her forgiveness.

Is this bad??? I do feel awful, but I also just feel tired of it. I shouldn't have to keep proving myself every time, right???

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Cute :)


LeBlanc and I went to see the Cirque du Soleil performance of Ovo last weekend.

He got last minutes tickets for us and we weren't able to sit together. He was in seat 9 and I was in seat 11 (or something like that). It turns out that we were at the "aisle/walkway" seats. So no one was between us, but there was a walkway between us.

I was completely engrossed in the show -- it was fabulous, by the way. Those people are made out of rubber!

At half time, we head out to stretch our legs.

LeBlanc: You know, if you had moved your foot a little to the left, I could touch your feet.

me: Huh?

LeBlanc: You were sitting so straight, and I was trying to reach over and touch your feet, but it was too far.

me: Ohhhh. That's so cute!

After half time, I made sure that my foot was a little bit in the "aisle way", and when LeBlanc reached his foot over, our feet touched. So, even though we didn't get to sit next to each other to enjoy the show, we enjoyed it with our feet touching in the aisle. And I think it's even more romantic than him having his arm around me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Kissing

"Eight out of ten women believe that the first kiss will tell them everything they need to know about a relationship." -- Hitch, 2005

Kissing is important. To say the least. It's how we can express our emotions to each other. Whether they be tender, lustful, sad, desperate, mysterious, angry. Whether it's our first kiss, or not. A kiss on the cheek, forehead, nose, lips, neck or any other body part...

I have mentioned before that LeBlanc and I were friends. We had a common group of friends of the people we traveled with while on exchange in Singapore. He always seemed like a nice guy, but he seemed so carefree and goofy all the time, that I never really saw any other side of him.

One of the things that struck me about LeBlanc was the way he kissed me.

I'm thinking back to our first date, when what I thought I knew about him changed.

It was the way he kissed me, and the way he took his time to build up to the kiss. In a slow-flirtatious-shy kind of manner. Tracing his fingers along the length of my arm, and massaging my neck and shoulders. Tickling me. Holding me close, and then waiting for me to go the last bit.

From this kiss, I felt like I was seeing a completely new LeBlanc. Not the LeBlanc who leads our travel group on our crazy adventures, or the LeBlanc who does the silly things (like wear his underwear...). No, this was a LeBlanc who was gentle and sexy, and sensitive to me. His kisses were soft, gently, and teasingly. And it felt so good.

Even though I love all sorts of kisses. One of my favourites would have the be the forehead kiss. There's just something so sweet and simple about being kissed on the forehead. One time, it was before LeBlanc was leaving for Norway, and we went to his parents' for dinner. The taxi was going to pick him up at his parents, so we didn't really have a private farewell. We were standing in front of the taxi, his little brothers were watching. I gave LeBlanc a quick hug, and he held me for a moment and planted a kiss on my forehead.

How do you like to be kissed?? Would a guy have a chance if he didn't kiss well?? Would there be a point of a second date, if the kiss didn't go well???

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blah...


Yesterday, I got an email from someone I considered a good friend telling me she now realizes that our friendship is no longer a priority for me. It was a long and drawn out process, she told me, but she said she's glad that she realizes it now, and basically doesn't care.

A series of events have led to this path, and I am sorry to say that I have neglected my friends while LeBlanc and I have been dating. Except that I never really saw it as neglect until we chatted about it yesterday. It was hard to swallow that a group of my friends who I was once closer to, has felt for some time that they are my back up friends when LeBlanc is not around.

I wish someone had told me, but I guess it was something that I should have known. I just honestly thought that everyone was busier with their lives, and that it wasn't a big deal, if I don't make all the outings. But I guess I just missed one too many.

It kinda sucks. I feel like posting up the conversation, but I don't have the energy to post it now. I just want to go to sleep for a few days, and wake up feeling less rotten than I do, now.

Have you done this before?? Any words of wisdom to pass along??

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Standards


My girl friend, B and I went our for dinner last Friday night.

Throughout dinner, we talked about the usual: work, goals, money, boys.

B was just starting to see someone new, and I wanted to only know ALL the juice. As she spilled the beans, and we proceeded to pick this guy apart. We realized that the things we are looking for in a potential partner have changed a lot. From when we were in our high school days, to even our college days (and we only graduated last year -- 2008!).

One of the things that stood out about this new guy, lets call him "D", was that he had a spice rack in his condo. Imagine that, we were both so impressed with this spice rack, whereas a couple years ago, I could really care less.

I guess it's not so much the spice rack, but what it could mean for both B and I. To me, it means that he is somewhat of a cook, and takes pride in his culinary skills. He doesn't have to be an Iron Chef, but I can picture that he might cook me delicious meal on a date in, or be able to take care of himself (and hence, perhaps me!)and eat fairly yummy food .

We went through our list of what qualities qualify and which ones gets boys axed. I think this reflects not only our personalities, but also where we are in life, and what we have now come to expect in terms of quality of life.

We have both come to agree that "love is not enough."

In addition to attraction and caring for someone, which are important. But just as important would be to have similar life goals, similar views on finances, similar culture (and I don't mean the same race), respect of individuality. I would like my guy to be ambitious, but also financially stable.

1) Similar life time goals
I'm not sure what my ultimate goal is, but I would like to live a life that is relatively simple (minimal material possession) and be able to help others who are less fortunate than myself. I want to be able to contribute to sustainable development, whether it be through my work, or through other experiences.

2) Similar views on finances
I see money as a tool to live a lifestyle that is in line with my beliefs. I don't believe that we need a lot of material possessions to lead a full filling life, and I don't want to spend my money on the upkeep of things that do not add value to my life. However, I do see money as a tool to free myself from things that I do not want to do, and pursue my own interests. For instance, nto having to work at a job I do not like simply to pay the bills.

3) Similar respect for culture
My background is Chinese and I was born in Toronto. I think I am very open to new ideas and new cultures, and I think that it is important that my guy also has similar thinking. Whether it be heading out for a night of Indian food, or supporting the Gay Pride Parade.

4) Respect of individuality
I want to be trusted and respected for the decisions that I make. We may discuss it together; however, we may not always agree. This may be a big decision like going back to school, or studying abroad, or maybe a small decision, like buying an expensive pair of shoes (after saving up, of course!).

5) Ambitious and financially stable
Since I am an ambitous person, I find it attractive that my guy is also in the same boat. He doesn't have to super love his job, but he should be proud of what he does, and always aim to improve his skill set and always seek to learn. This was something that I found really unappealing about Hagan Daaz. He was super happy that he could watch 4 episodes of House at work...Yeaa...

I am no gold digger, and don`t think I have super expensive tastes. However, I refuse to support someone who does not try to help themselves. I worked hard to get where I am now, and no one is going to mooche off me. My guy should also be responsible for his finances, and be able to take care of himself, and maybe have some investments. Again, I am not asking for something in a guy that I don`t already do myself.

To summarize, the bar has been raised since my first dating days in high school. However, I think that I myself, have also raised the bar for myself. I hold myself to the same standards that I am looking for. I think that`s fair.