laughter and forgetting

October 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

image from Sally Underwood

Part One: Lost Letters

p5: To shift gears, Mirek had to let go of the steering wheel.

p6: When he asked her why she was so silent, she told him she had not been satisfied with their lovemaking. She said he had made love to her like an intellectual.

p7: For one reason or another, Zdena was displeased with him, and just as she was capable of imbuing the most abstract relationship (the relationship with Masturbov, whom she didn’t know) with the most concrete feeling (embodied in a tear), so she was capable of giving the most concrete of acts an abstract significance and her own dissatisfaction a political name.

p30: Is that possible? Yes. And why not? Can’t a weak boy feel true love for an ugly girl? He told her he was in rebellion against his reactionary father, she inveighed against intellectuals, they got blisters on their buttocks, and held hands. They went to meetings, denounced their fellow citizens, told lies, and were in love.

Part Two: Mama

p66: That movement, usually measuring fifteen centimeters at most, was as long as three decades.

p67: Stretched out on an armchair, he contemplated the two women lying before him on the wide daybed. During that brief rest period, it wasn’t Mrs. Nora he was seeing but his old girlfriends, his life’s witnesses Marketa and Eva, and he felt like a great chess player who has conquered opponents simultaneously on two chess boards. The comparison pleased him enormously, and he couldn’t help laughing and shouting: “I’m Bobby Fischer! I’m Bobby Fischer!”

Part Three: The Angels

p81: Just as someone in pain is linked by his groans to the present moment, so someone bursting out in such ecstatic laughter is without memory and without desire, for he is emitting his shout into the world’s present moment and wishes to know only that.

Part Six: The Angels

p221: Variation form was Beethoven’s favorite toward the end of his life. At first glance, it seems the most superficial of forms, a simple showcase of musical technique, work better suited to a lace maker than to a Beethoven. But Beethoven made it a sovereign form (for the first time in the history of music), inscribing in it his most beautiful meditations. Yes, all that is well known. But Papa wanted to know how it should be understood. Why exactly choose variations?

p225: In one of his pensees, Pascal says that man lives between the abyss of the infinitely large and the abyss of the infinitely small. The voyage of variations leads into that other infinitude, into the infinite diversity of the interior world lying hidden in all things.

p226: That the infinitude of the exterior world escapes us we accept as natural. But we reproach ourselves until the end of our lives for lacking that other infinitude.

p227: It is not surprising that in his later years variations became the favorite form for Beethoven, who knew all too well (as Tamina and I know) that there is nothing more unbearable than lacking the being we loved, those sixteen measures and the interior world of their infinitude of possibilities.

Part Seven: The Border

p281: The woman he had loved most (he was thirty at the time) would tell him (he was nearly in despair when he heard it) that she held on to life by a thread. Yes, she did want to live, life gave her great joy, but she also knew that her “I want to live” was spun from the threads of a spiderweb. It takes so little, so infinitely little, for someone to find himself on the other side of the border, where everything–love, convictions, faith, history–no longer has meaning. The whole mystery of human life resides in the fact that it is spent in the immediate proximity of, and even in direct contact with, that border, that it is separated from it not by kilometers but by barely a millimeter.

bachelorette party :P

October 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Sunday, August 21

Denise and I visited Stephen’s office. Very impressed. Lots of prettiness created by Teresa. What I’m most jealous of is the possibility that she might be spending a year in Paris. Can’t you just see me running around in Roger Vivier ballet flats and sitting on window sills? >.<

Followed by delish dinner at Le Canard Mort: Fresh Raw Oysters, Seared Crab Cakes, Rilette Board, etc.

photo from

photo from

365 grateful project (count=10)

October 19, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m feeling okay now. My first response to feeling okay: Should I go visit three countries starting with U (Uganda/Uruguay/Uzbekistan)? Okay, I’m making fun of Eat Pray Love. Which I have never read. But I hear it’s about a woman who divorces her husband and visits Italy/India/Indonesia. My real first response: Should I go climb seven volcanoes in Guatemala over the holidays? I only climbed Acatenango, Fuego and Pacaya the last time I visited. But: Perhaps happiness is the love of what is here and now.

  • Completed first round interviews. One candidate seemed genuinely attached to Manulife: “It was my first actuarial experience.” My first memory of Manulife dates back to my first week in Toronto. I saw the lawn and immediately decided it would be a great place to work. Even now, I find myself sighing as I walk through the garden. Burning with leaves. Bright even at night.
  • They seem to be brewing Caffè Verona everyday at the Starbucks close to the office. “Literature lovers out there will recognize Verona as the city where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet. Although the play ends in tragedy, we’d like you to know that every cup of this coffee has a happy ending.”
  • Once busy seasons is over, I’m going to spend a couple weekends visiting coffee spots west of bathurst, east of don valley. And read the Book of Laughter and Forgetting: “People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It’s not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.” And wonder: Does the past tempt us to destroy the future?

booking cancellation

October 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Illustration from gemma-correll

You have successfully cancelled your flight reservation.
The value of an unused ticket can be applied to the value of a new ticket provided outbound travel commences within one year of original ticket issuance.
Non transferable: the original booking passenger(s) must use their respective amount(s).

Doesn’t Air Canada realize how difficult break-ups are? Why are they making it so difficult for me to cancel the booking with the insane “non transferable” thing? Or was I insane when I made the reservation on August 16? Not realizing that we were on the verge.

The present is less than pleasant.

Luckily, the past is a choice. When I remember CJ, I remember that he drove Jenny + Rach + me home after lust caution. In his two-seater. When I remember A, I remember that he drove me to Pittsburgh to see Fallingwater. Two weeks after we met. When I remember S, I will not choose to remember cancelled plane tickets. I will choose to remember humming together on the ferry, debating fear or laziness at Balzac’s, perhaps making the floorboards sing.

The future is a bigger choice. What am I going to do with my portion of the Air Canada credit???

365 grateful project (count=7)

October 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

  • Sometimes, people seem to helicopter into my life to deliver insight. Qing dropped by Toronto and told me stories about a girl he dated after he returned to Guang Zhou. A girl like me. She sounds crazy. But maybe not as crazy as me. Expecting the other person to have their own life and then to uproot it for me.
  • S delivered a CD with all my photos. I’m putting everything away. My favorite card: “To a bunny who is always looking for a bigger rock to climb … you pick the rock and we will climb it. Even if it takes three days.” It was never going to happen. But I appreciate the thought.
  • Went to nuit blanche on a date that lasted until 3:30 am. Tried to explain my issues (e.g. a lack of empathy). He asked if I’m a psychopath (wikipedia: a mental disorder characterized primarily by a lack of empathy). I said that I don’t think so but there are lots of things I need to work on and I don’t know where to begin. He said that’s why he is working on improving his 5k time.

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