Part of this title comes from me continuing to hum the song ‘Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga, a song that is kinda of catchy in it’s rhythm, but is kind of a terrible joke now for my year of IB students due to our closeness to the song after a certain series of presentation involving this dastardly song. The other part is my own duck partnership secret (there is actually no secret message here).


This Easter weekend I went out for Dim Sum (is this one word or two words?) with friends.

It was interesting. The person at the front desk spoke Mandarin to me, so that was fine. But I asked for an approximate time, so I would know how long we would wait, but the lady replied ‘You didn’t make a reservation right? Let me check over the list for you to see what I can do.’ That didn’t answer my question, so I asked the question again. I literally got the same answer, except this time the lady’s voice drastically changed into that of annoyance/anger.


This doesn’t happen in white-people restaurants!

Something inside my head related to speaking and understanding Mandarin somehow just turns off when I’m with friends that don’t speak Chinese constantly. With my BUS202 group, I have to actively think and speak in Mandarin since that’s how more than half of the group communicate, so I just do what is best with them. But with my day to day friends, swapping between English and Mandarin is always so difficult. I have no trouble in other situations, but just with my friends.


Alone & Unhappy.


Maybe it has to do with the environment in which the group is. It’s all English. I’m unsure of everyone’s level of ability to understand Chinese (not even mentioning who are Canto speakers and who are Mando speakers), I’m sometimes worried it might seem strange to speak another language predominantly in a sentence (even though it isn’t), and a that previous sudden swaps to Chinese for us usually results in some quiet exchange of glances or a strange echoing chuckle. Maybe some part of me feels uncomfortable speaking Mandarin, though it must only happen sometimes instead of all the time. Also, around friends there some kind of censoring of actions. Some actions my head thinks about doing it, but it’s always being restricted, even though the action is nothing at all. For example, there was a time when the food cart was passing by, ignoring our table. I wanted to just call out in Chinese and ask for something, however thoughts of ‘this isn’t normal in this group to call out’, ‘how do I even say ‘excuse me’ in Mandarin?’, and ‘someone else is going to do it’. Sounds like a case of Mary Gentile and her god damn rationalizations, though this dilemma was less than 35 minutes. Maybe about 10 seconds instead? It felt like I didn’t want to disturb what I felt were the ‘norms’ of the environment. I didn’t want to be the red flag among a group of whites, although in a friendly environment, it’s hard to see isolation happening due to it. I’ve done plenty of stupid things before.

In the end, someone sitting beside the lady went and just asked for one.

Also listening to Cantonese is hard. While I might be okay at speaking Mandarin, that’s only because my family environment is mostly Mandarin. I never get exposure to Cantonese or different dialects/accents of Mandarin, not even mentioning Cantonese. It makes it really hard for me to understand Chinese, regardless of who is speaking it, unless they sound very similar to a Beijing dialect (I wouldn’t even notice I had one…). Oh, and having what is supposedly a Beijing dialect/style of speaking Mandarin doesn’t help my case. Second language speakers with accents/deficiencies in their pronunciations or verbal grammar get the benefit of the other person instantly recognizing it and adjusting their language accordingly.

I needed to find a way to stick this in.

I needed to find a way to stick this in.

It would be like if you, a native and fluent English speaker, encounter a strange who asks you ‘Do you know what a cherry blossom is?’ in a accent and the fluency of the language isn’t there. Instantly you know not to throw out complex SAT vocabulary words out at them or to speak incredibly fast. The simple hint of an accent suddenly changes how you communicate with this person. Maybe now you slow down your speech or maybe use more common English words instead. The point being, having an accent is a benefit when trying to communicate with fluent speakers.

Me not having this kind of obvious problem and sounding like a Beijing person does not help my comprehension of language. Almost every conversation I have in Mandarin results in me having at least not understanding a sentence properly due to infrequent or slang vocabulary, which as a speaker who learned most of their Chinese from an older audience who are not well versed or even have knowledge of current slang is not something I am familiar with. Which is part of the reason why I feel so hesitant to swap between languages.

Alright, lunch (does it even count, it was pretty early, maybe about the time of my breakfasts) ends and we leave a 20% tip behind. No regrets. Just doubts.

Somehow go to Minoru Park. Still waiting on two losers to arrive (sorry my car was faster!), so like all normal young adults, we go to the children’s playground and play on the seesaw.

Or what looks like a seesaw.


We had two people on one end, and me on the other (I’m two people, no surprise there) and there was some slightly aggressive seesawing. To be honest, I was kind of tired after a while. Using a seesaw sure requires effort. I tried taking some pictures on the seesaw. From the viewfinder it looked okay. Looked clear enough. Afterwards at home though, it was a different story.


It’s always nicer when people smile.


In a smaller resolution, the image looks clear enough and good enough. When viewed in it’s actual size, it’s too blurry for my liking. Sad.

A recurring theme in my photos today was the lack of them. Also them being shot in ‘Single Shot’ mode instead of ‘Low Speed Continuous’ like normal. Also due to single shot, viewfinder, and general lack of foresight rendered a lot of photos either blurry or just not quite there in terms of quality. Sad.

Though I do think there were some okay-nice ones. None of them were the ones I had wished to be pretty (okay that’s a lie, some of them I really wanted).

Here’s one.


Especially when it’s people you don’t know.


Somewhere down my metaphorical photography lifetime, I swapped over from ‘scenery is superior’ to ‘human reactions are superior’. I still think scenery is amazing, and that it can still very often surpass a human shot, but there is just no story in a shot of pure scenery. Or at least a story that’s not of geoformation (is that even the correct term?). Stories make a photo more than just something pretty, it gives it an attitude, a personality and it gives it depth. I compare it to a story, where the plot is the instantaneous judgement of a nice photo or not, and the story in the photo as the symbolism, motifs, and other literary devices in a novel. Though a novel can offer so much more in terms of detail and showing appreciation to the author for their incorporation of it all, a photo can only show one single moment of a story.

In the defense of scenery shots, they can have stories as well. These recently uploaded photos taken from drones each have their own story. Stories about history, backgrounds and cultural change. But there is no visible emotion. Then again, there’s these photos.






Each one has a different story, and while there is no visible emotion as in people’s faces, there is an atmosphere that gives off emotions. Image (a), the one with only the building, makes it seem like a left-alone construction and gives me a feeling of isolation and empty. Image (b), the one with the building and it’s surroundings, makes me think of a more ‘one step at a time’ progression in the building and a generally happier tone.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

Maybe I could just swap to ‘both are equally as good’ and both are equally difficult and simple to take.

I think I’ll try my hand on some more human related photography. It’s just more fun.

Trying to take more than zero isn’t much of a challenge however.

Although posing people is just terrible. I much more prefer candid.

Also I don’t like telling people to do things when this is more of a creative endeavor. Everyone should find something that works for them. That may be something someone else has done, or it might be something no one would have wanted you to do, but it’s something that gives yourself a personal flavour. Sounds weird, doesn’t it?


We walk around the park. The camera switches hands a few times (I’m on my phone!) we go by some ponds and a small waterfall.

Like, really small.



We finished our merry walk and came to the conclusion of doing some shopping at Richmond Center.

But before we finished that, I tried to get a group shot. It’s not often I see all these people together. It’s even less often I’ll have my camera with me for those things.


No photos for the mall though, I left my camera in the trunk of the car.

Though I don’t know how much stores would appreciate me taking photos of their products and such. Maybe they wouldn’t care, but because it’s so uncertain I would go with the safe side – no. Though risk and exploration is a good and maybe even essential thing of photography. If you don’t know what you’re not allowed to do, the only way is to find it out yourself. Too bad I can’t do that. Sad.

Explored some stores. Learned some things about clothing and maybe people’s tastes in clothing. Also learned some more stuff about make-up. That time spent in Sephora wasn’t too bad honestly. Most things felt new. Not looking at something with a preconceived notion of it being negative really makes it a lot easier to accept things and even begin to (maybe) like them yourself.

Then we went to Daniel’s house (again). Maybe should consider not bothering his family so much. Regardless if he says they won’t care/mind, it probably isn’t that great to bother them so often! Although they are pretty kind. His brother is pretty… energetic about games and such, and his mother is really hospitable! Also, food. Yum (I didn’t really eat any).

Then it was time to leave.

A full day outside!

By outside I mean outside my own house.

Drove some people to a skytrain station (illegal – whoops). Then drove one person (not illegal!) home.


Saved the best one for last.

Had to appreciate the actions of some people today. Actually, everyone did someone today that I could appreciate.

Not sure if it’s fine to say or not though.