Friday, January 18, 2008

terms of endearment

I have been called many, many things in my life. I have e been called a wild orchid that yet has to be tamed. I have been coined sugarbowl by my grandmother after a little cute teapot twisted story that Natalie Hannaford introduced to me. Sky girl was my first screen name on the internet. My nickname in basketball was bigmama.

Recently I have achieved two new identities...both of which i had to have explained to me.
McCall, my lovely neighbour jokingly called me heffer. Which is best described in the picture to the left. Quite a lovely photo.

The other one is an angler fish, named to me by my darling twin sister. (Ria you know what this says about you, right?) A angler fish is an evil lurking fish that dwells in the deep lairs of the ocean, with a lure hanging infront of its mouth. (see photo to the right)

Do I take offence? Of course not, both animals here have such great character that make me laugh hysterically. But maybe a more important lesson could be learned here..

What is in a name? What does it signify about us? I remember my father once telling me that even if Riani and I were switched by birth, and I was given the name Riani, I would still be the same person. I would still be me. I would still be a heffer-fish.

What is important here about names is that we allow it to limit us. We are afraid of them (he would cannot be named in Harry Potter), we use them against each other (them, us), we even label each other as to hurt each other. Even names such as old, thin, fat, young, naive, these all limit us to realize what potential we can see in others. What does a name hold? As said by Juliet:

Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

So what is your name? What holds it true? what backbone have you given your name? What vault of gold do you have to verify the currency of your name? We all have names, but it should all be spelt in one way....L.O.V.E.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Alchemy of Life

There are times when God comes down and causes an apocalypse...ending widespread pain and brings such bright, amazing light that all you can do is let this light consume you. We hear about it in our Qu'Rans, Bibles and Torahs, as well as on the news and in popular movies.

Now I've been through, let's say a little soul searching era of my life, and I was at the darkest place I've ever been. So I thought to call on the powers of heavens for another apocalypse, help heal and end this pain. AND, none of this fluffy interpretation crap, I want hard scientific proof.

So God, being the kind loving fella He is, got me going on a little search for the truth.

Today was the first day of school, and i ran into a phd bioengineer friend, randomly...and we got talking about atoms. We got on the subject of electron shells, because i was looking at a molecule structure at his lab. He said that the white bubbles would probably be hydrogen binding to an atom because in the loss of an electron, hydrogen would bind to the atom.

I argued that there were already eight electrons in that last shell, so there shouldn't be a hydrogen....because atoms have a electron shells that were in a 2-8-8 formation...two electrons in the firstshell, and eight for each shell thereafter. (remembering this from middle school!) I looked it up tonight, and we were both wrong. it's highly complex.

The most amazing thing i realized in my readings was:

Most of the physical and chemical properties of atoms, and hence of all matter, are determined by the nature of the electron cloud enclosing the nucleus. The nucleus of an atom, with its positive electric charge, attracts negatively charged electrons. This attraction is largely responsible for holding the atom together.

if i read is attraction of the nucleus and the electrons that holds the atom together.
attraction: the process of drawing one body toward another.

you could argue that attraction is a byproduct of love of the highest form. Just as this force brings us together, somehow at 5am. I could be a negative electron whizzing around in space, and feeling your force, draws me in.I stabilize you. You in turn, make me whole, make me an important part of the fundamentals of our existence.

We can apply this theory to relationships. Either two people attract each other because they bring different elements to the bond, or there is something out of extra electron here...which causes a reaction to occur for that electron to go off into the world until it
meets the right nucleus that needs it to be balanced, to be neutral. The split causes a great amount of energy, but it the greater scheme of things, it balances things out.

There is negative everywhere. Without it there would be no positive. Without the both working together, there would be NO LIFE. Attraction holds us together.
Love. it is in its purest, smallest form.
Love is all we need by the beatles is ringing in my head right now.

it is this very force which holds the world together, the entire universe. without it, the universe would cease to exist. oh my god that is such a huge concept.

all i had to do was look inward, to the smallest part of me for the simplest answer,but this the answer to the most complex ideals. We are all one.

apocalypse means unlifting of the veil, of god coming down and showing us the heavens, to end all pain we know. To end suffering.

When i asked God for this, what i meant was for Him to...i dont know. Not this.
Instead, he showed me the heavens, and everything I could possibly be, and beyond.

Bring love into your lives, and to everyone you meet, because it is love that brings us together.

Love you all, Danielle

Sunday, January 6, 2008

the greenland problem

A friend of mine, who is an actor, shared with me a monologue that he is working on. It hit me like a ton of bricks, brought tears to my eyes. I feel as if i should share it with you.

It is from a play about two gay men. One owns a map shop. Map shops have an emotional connection with me, the last one i went to was in Maui. For these men though, their shop is just as painful, because they are living around the reality that all their friends are dying from aids.
have a read. The owner hasn't left the shop in months, and the other keeps leaving chairs all over the shop. These are the chairs of their friends that have died. He wants the shop owner to stop pretending that nothing is happening, and to be a part of the solution.

This is a monologue that the shopowner gives about a particular map we are all familiar with, the mercantor map.

Any talk of maps ultimately comes around to one very specific, lingering issue: The Greenland Problem.
Now, you may know this, but Greenland is actually about the size of Mexico. However, on the well known Mercator projection map -- the one hanging in front of your classrooms in grade school -- Greenland appears to be roughly the size of South America and twice the size of China. Clearly a world power to be reckoned with, if it were, you know, habitable.
The Mercator map also shows most of the earth's land mass to be in what we consider the "north," when, in fact, the "south" is more than double the size of the north. Scandinavia seems to dwarf India, though India is three times as large. And the old Soviet states appear to be twice the size of the entire African continent. In reality they are smaller. Smaller by, oh, about four million square miles.
A map maker takes a messy round world and puts it neat and flat on the wall in front of you. And to do this, a map maker must decide which distortions, which faulty perceptions he can live with -- to achieve a map which suits his purposes. He must commit to viewing it from only one angle.
The Mercator map, developed in Germany in 1569, was a great aid to navigators since, for the first time, all lines of longitude ran perpendicular to the equator -- or straight up to the top of the map -- rather than converging toward the poles. This meant that all the lines of longitude and latitude intersected at right angles -- and this meant that, for the FIRST TIME, a sailor could draw a straight line between two fixed points on the map and steer a constant course between them. The map had accounted for the curve of the earth -- the sailor did not have to.
To accomplish this, Mercator had to accept a distortion: the parallel lines of latitude would have to be spaced progressively further apart as they moved away from the equator. This, in turn, would progressively distort the sizes and shapes of land masses -- from zero distortion at the wquator, to absolute distortion at the poles... the Greenland Problem.
Mercator was a brilliant man. He freed the art of cartography from superstition, from the weight of medieval misconceptions. And his map revolutionized global navigation. He never intended it as a tool to teach the sizes and shapes of countries. He never intended to make Greenland a global behemoth.
But, nearly four hundred and fifty years after Mercator, we still think the earth looks like this. It doesn't. It never has. But we've come to accept the distortion as fact. We've learned to see the world from this angle.
I like this map. I sell this map. I don't wan people when they buy it that, like any good newspaper, it contains a few lies. And I've grown accustomed, when i feel the tug of a perplexed child on my sleeve, to turn and patiently say: "No, it's not really that big."
Maybe it's comforting to us because we, too, have our blind spots. We, too, have things on the periphery of our lives that we distort -- in order to best focus on the things in front of us. In order to best navigate through our days.
Sometimes, though, these things on the periphery, these things that we do not understand, these far away things grow to massive proportions -- threatening to dwarf our tiny, ordered, known world. And when they get big enough, we are forced to see them for what they are.
People I know are dying.
This is my Greenland Problem.
----Jody, Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz.

Friday, January 4, 2008

fish balls on a stick and other grocery list essentials

“Maybe we can snack on these!” BJ jokes, handing me a packet of chili-fried baby crabs. It is a college party snack joke waiting to happen. “Hey people, Abu over here brought the stuff camel, and for the ladies, BJ brought the crabs.” It is always such a circus to go to Uwajimaya, an Asian supermarket here in the international district of Seattle.

Now here is a place that combines the best of both worlds: crazy things only Asians would eat, and an American assortment, which in turn translate to a night of pure entertainment of products I would like to bring to some of my marketing classes. Tell me, dear professor, how do I market fish balls on a stick to the American consumer?

The sheer selection was mind boggling: the tea section was an entire aisle. There were at least 30 types of green tea, black tea, oolong, you name it. Fruit? Forget your apples and oranges, we got mangoes, manggis, rambutan, and the king of the fruit, the mighty durian. Even the bread has a selection with pandan (banana leaf), santan (coconut milk), and many others. There is a warzone in the middle of the store: rice bags piled up on either side, trenches of food large enough to feed an entire army. I can see a solider running back and forth in my mind screaming urgently: “rice cookers! We need more rice cookers!”

Food plays such a major part of our lives, nourishing our bodies (or not), comforting us when we’re sad, or even showing our economic status. For me, food is almost like a looking glass that reminds me of my roots and the complexities of being a third culture kid. My parents always told me to try everything just once. How else would a six year old kindly ask for chicken feet soup in Singapore? How do I know that the fish eye is the best part of fish head curry? Aquariums were awesome to go to, because my mom would tell me how to cook the fish that just swam by. Then there are the stories of the durian nights of drunkenness. When home in Medan with my family, we would have a durian party, usually on the tiles of the garage. My grandmother, 80-something with machete in hand would with one swoop hack the spiky fruit apart to reveal the treasures of a perfect seed: covered in the rich yellow meat of the durian that to me has the most amazing velvet texture to it. Durian has a bit of fermentation; you can get awfully giddy eating it. I, on the other hand, get DRUNK off of durian.

“How about these?” I walk back from memory lane and stare at what BJ has put in front of my eyes. Lactic Acid bars. I’m still confused. It looks like those tubes you put in the fridge and freeze. Who made the name for this thing? Lactic acid fruit bars? Seriously? I jotted down the email address on the back to email the company to ask them if they need a new marketing intern. The best one yet: Birds net and white fungus dessert soup with red beans. This is quite a lovely dish from Singapore, light and served cold to ward off the heat. I was doing a marketing project for a dessert shop with a bunch of Singaporean exchange students, and they couldn’t understand that this was not going to work here in Seattle. “Yes, waiter, the white fungus birds nest soup with red beans please. Vanilla ice cream is just sooo passé.”

You have got to love globalism, if anything to make it easier for people to exchange ideas, try new things, and be more open minded, and you can do without trekking through the outer parts of Mongolia. Just start small in your own local Asian grocery store. I learned a lot about myself today, where I’ve been, who’ve I become, and what new things I will try in the future. Remember, you are what you eat, which means eating just about anything shows you are open to an ever changing world. That, and you’ll be surprised how comforting shrimp crackers can be on a Friday night.