Dave and I watched the movie 50/50 last weekend.   I wouldn't say it was a comedy as much as it is a drama with comedic undertones.  It stars Joseph Gordon Levitt, who I love and Seth Rogan, who I like enough.  And for those that don't know the movie is about how Levitt's character Adam and his best friend Kyle deal with Adam's diagnosis of cancer.

This movie is very different from the situation that my family is in.  Adam is young 27 years old, with his whole life ahead of him.  My dad has lived, what can be considered a long life.  Adam is given a prognosis of 50/50, where my father has 0% chance of dying cancer free.

But there is one scene in the movie that really struck home with me.  It is the night before Adam's surgery, from which there is a very real chance that he may not survive.  He gets into a fight with Kyle and kicks him out of the car.  Then he kicks and screams violently in the car from frustration, fear, anger, everything - for maybe 30 seconds. Then it's over.   He collects himself and makes a phone call.

I've been there.  Screaming and crying in my car.  (as an aside, I don't know why I would pick a car as the place to have a tantrum in, very public, lots of windows, not very soundproof - but for some reason feels private, right?).  And when I was done, everything was the same.  My dad still had cancer.  I didn't really feel any better, and now I had snot all over my face.

I'm not sure what my point is, other than to say in the case of my father the writing is on the wall.  There is nothing that can be done to change the path.   We can only try to make things more comfortable for him and be thankful for the moments that we have left to spend with him.  I'm trying not to focus on the suffering and not to be sad all the time.  It's hard, and I can't say that I'm succeeding but I'm trying.  I'm trying to be positive.  And to try to focus on my life outside of my role as a daughter sometimes.

And while writing about it makes me feel better, I think I'm going to stop writing about IT for a while.  And maybe write about other things that maybe going on.  Other shallow, fun, inconsequential things.  Not that I have a lot of that going on these days.  But still.

Maybe I'll just make something up.

My next post will be about the unicorn ride I took yesterday.


Fuck You Cancer, one year later

Dear Cancer,

We've had quite a year, haven't we?

The year started out with my dad's surgery in January.  It was tough but my dad was tougher.  My brother came home from Korea for two weeks and the four of us gave you the Shin family beat down.  By March, the scars were healed and my dad was up and about. By April, he was taking walks around the neighbourhood and by May he was planting his garden in the backyard.  We thought we had you beat.

In June, you came back.

Maybe it wasn't exactly in June, you were probably there all along, hiding, giving us a false sense of security, but in June you made yourself known in the form of a tumour pushing against the sciatic nerve, giving my dad pain any time he sat down and all down his leg. More CTs, more doctors and by the end of July my dad was in for radiation and scheduled for Chemo.  And my brother was back from Korea for another 3 weeks.

Then came the septic shock in August.  Holy shit, I thought my dad was going to die right in front of my eyes.  We called 911 and it was off for a week in the hospital.  We finished off the radiation therapy and that left him too weak for chemo, so the doctor called it off.

By October, Tumour you had grown so large that you were interfering with other internal organs, and making it so uncomfortable for my dad to sit that he has to lay prone to be somewhat comfortable.  We were offered more surgery, but my dad said no thanks.  The surgery wouldn't remove the tumour, and his exact words were "I die if I don't get the surgery, I die if I get the surgery, so why get the surgery?"

That's where we are now Cancer.  December of what has been the worst year of our lives. Thursday of a week that started off in the Emergency at OT, a transfusion saved his life this time, but not sure what's next.   My dad survives on Oxycontin now, which I understand has a street value of many times what we pay for it at Shoppers.  Kids crush it and do it at parties.  My dad needs it to make each day bearable.

My brother coming from Korea again, this time to surprise my parents on Sunday for Christmas, but really because the doctor said "It may be a good time to call your brother." Either way, it's the best present we could give our parents.

You win Cancer.

But let me clarify.  My dad still gets up in the morning and smiles when I'm there.  He still talks about "when I feel better I'll....." and makes jokes about how my mom eats all the good food while he's sleeping.  My mom still listens to music while she makes him life the meals 5-7 times a day because he can only eat small portions.  She still encourages him and does everything with the same cheerfulness she has since my dad was diagnosed with cancer, years ago.   You'll never beat them.  Never.

You've beaten ME Cancer.  I have nothing left.  After a year of proving to me that it CAN get worse every single time I think it can't, it's like I'm the one with cancer now. You've broken my heart, Cancer.  And not in the Nashville country song way.

We haven't taken a photo in the last year.  I don't want to have anything to remind me of this year.    My dad is getting out-eaten by his picky vegetarian daughter at every meal. He's down to 130 pounds.

You are erasing my father.

I envy the people who lose their loved ones in a car accident or a heart attack.  ENVY. Shocking yes, but they don't have to watch them suffer.  SUFFER.  I would take shock over suffer.   Shock over the ache of watching them struggle every day with pain and watching every last dignity taken from them.  You recover from shock right?  Eventually?  Do you recover from watching your loved ones SUFFER?  Or does that get imprinted on your soul for you to carry forever?

I'm tired of putting on a brave face.  Of telling people my dad is "okay" because it's easier than telling them the truth - the truth is awkward, and it's ugly and it's cruel.  The truth makes me cry.

The correct thing to say, the thing that people want to hear is - I'm fighting, I haven't given up, I feel POSITIVE.   But the truth is I don't feel anything of those things.

The truth is I'm exhausted.  I'm sad.  I'm bitter.  The truth is I smile for my dad and my mom, but inside I have cancer.

Fuck you Cancer.

Moo Young Shin's Daughter


All the fun of cooking....with none of the cleaning.....

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited to a B&B cooking class experience in Guelph with 4 other couples at the Everton Academy of Culinary Arts.

Chef Dale Everton demonstrating something, not sure what.
If you are ever look for a fun overnight activity to do with a bunch of your friends, definitely consider checking this out.  The Everton Academy is set up in a huge house just west of Guelph (not sure exactly if that is accurate, once we're outside of city limits I get all mixed up), with a huge teaching kitchen.  Upstairs there are 4 bedrooms with 5 beds, so perfect for 5 couples if two couples don't mind sharing a room).

We got there around 6 o'clock on Saturday, unloaded our overnight bags and chilled out with a glass of wine (it's BYOB).  Then we all gathered in the kitchen and Chef Dale set about starting us out on dinner.  Here's our menu:

Sweet Potato Fries
Tuscan white bean dip
Grilled eggplant bruschetta
Rare beef tenderloin with goat cheese
Gnocchi with brown butter and sage
Baby arugala and oranges
Please excuse the quality of the pictures, they are from my iphone.
This is Dave chopping up some sweet potato fries.
Dale would show us how to make something off the list and then one or two people would be in charge of that menu item.  Pretty soon we were all working on something.  And as certain appetizers were finished we would be eating and chatting while other things were being prepared.  It was really super casual and fun.  When the main course was done we went into the huge dining room and enjoyed a fantastic meal, although I have to say, we were pretty full from all the yummy appetizers.  I should come clean here though, much as we all pitched in, Dale and his assistant do most of the work, and while we were eating dinner, they put together a lovely dessert that topped off a delicious meal.  And he put in some extra work cooking a separate meal for the gluten-free vegan (me).

After dinner, Dale adjourns to his home next to the B&B and you have the whole house to yourselves.  We had a roaring fire going in the fire place and we all sat around enjoying some post meal drinks and great company.

We woke up the next morning to a breakfast of waffles with blueberry coulis, bacon, and hashbrowns.  I don't know what more you could ask for in a weekend getaway.

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for something different to do on the weekend with a few of your friends.  Dale is totally laid back, very knowledgeable, and really make the learning experience a great one.  AND you can stop into Chudleigh's Apple farm on the way home for some apples and pie.


10 years ago today.....

I remember a day that started like any other.

When you work on a trading floor, your day starts early, so we had already been at work for at least two hours when suddenly Linda Park on our FX desk yelled out "SOMETHING JUST HAPPENED AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE".   Linda worked pretty far from where I sat and I had never heard her voice over the general work buzz up to that point in the full year I had been working there.

I remember every single tv screen on the floor suddenly, almost magically, showing the smoking North Tower.

I remember thinking "What the fuck is going on?"  I remember asking "What's going on?" (after only a year there I was too shy to swear) and getting the answer "No one fucking knows."

I remember for once the phones were silent on the trading floor.  For once EVERYONE was silent on the trading floor.  Standing and looking at the televisions.

I remember seeing the explosion when the second plane hit.  And the audible sound of hundreds of people gasping at once in a room the size of a football field (well smaller, but you get what I mean).  Because of the camera angle, I don't think we saw the actual plane hit, just the explosion.  The news informs us what happened.

I remember at some point overhearing someone say quietly "Barkway is there."

I remember seeing the first tower collapse.  I remember thinking it was a movie, the news teams were showing clips of a movie, what would happen if the towers collapsed.  But it was real.   I had just seen one of the twin towers collapse.  And half an hour later, as if to emphasis that this is real, the second tower collapsed.

I remember crying.  I think I was the only person in my immediate area that was crying.  And when one of my clients called and I picked up the phone I was crying.

"What's wrong?" Hermenia asked after hearing my voice "Are you okay?"  I knew in her office she wouldn't have had a television so she obviously didn't know.

"The world trade centre collapsed, the buildings are gone," I told her through sobs.

"Oh My God.  Let me call you back."  She didn't call back.

I remember Mike Fisher yelling "GO HOME.  EVERYONE GO HOME.  THIS DAY IS OVER."  and then adding for emphasis "EVERYONE GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE."  I will remember that until the day I die.  "Everyone get the fuck out of here" indeed.

I remember passing people on my way home to the subway, on the subway, on my walk home from the subway.   People who didn't know what had happened.  People who didn't know the world had changed.  People who wouldn't know until someone said to them "Hey did you hear what happened?".  That someone would not be me.  I walked home shellshocked.  As soon as I got home I called my cousin Judy in New York and could not get through.  I tried once every half hour, as I watched the news on my cable-less tv.  Around two o'clock Judy called me, the phone rang twice to indicate long distance and I remember thinking "Thank God" before I picked up the phone.  "Did you hear what happened?" is the first thing she said.  "Where is everyone?" is the first thing I said, meaning her brother, her mom and dad.  Fine, everyone was fine.

The following weeks, everything is a blur to me now.  News and more news.  Families looking for their loved ones, holding on to hope, posting flyers - the flyers break my heart.  A casualty count that only got larger.   A funeral for a wonderful colleague lost, a proud husband and father with another baby on the way.

We learned about true evil on September 11, 2001.  But out of the tragedy, came stories, many many stories, of bravery, of selflessness, of kindness.  People who sacrificed their own lives to try and save strangers,  who carried people out of wreckage on their backs, people who worked around the clock in the aftermath in the hopes of finding survivors.

On a day we learned about the worst humanity had to offer, we learned about the very best that humans are capable of.  The true definition of hero came out of the rubble of that day.  I still read new stories that bring tears to my eyes - 10 years later, there are still stories to be told.

I remember.


The other New Year's day....

Maybe it's because we're programmed with the first day of school in our formative years, but Labour Day always feels more like a New Year's day to me than January 1.  Maybe because through 18 or so years of education, Labour Day always signaled a new beginning, new teachers, new classes, new notebooks, a time when you couldn't be behind on anything yet because you hadn't started yet.   And though I haven't been in school for many years, it still signals the "real" end of summer (really September 21?  You are the end of summer in name only.)

Dave had to work today so I had the day to myself.  I didn't do much.  I watched 3 movies Definitely Maybe (which i had seen before but didn't realize I had until about midway through, obviously not a great movie), The Town (pretty decent), and Love Actually (an older movie I never saw but was pretty good) all while knitting these:

The pattern for these can be found here

Yes I know it's September.   Here's the thing.  Dave and I have never really done that much for Christmas.  Once we had a New Year's party and when people came over they were like "Um, where's Christmas?" - because we did not have one decoration up.  It literally could have been July, that's how bare our house was.  Truthfully, not to be a grinch, but I think Christmas is for kids.  As it has just been Dave and I, it hasn't been necessary to go through the whole tree/decoration thing in my eyes.

This year however, our nephews from NJ are going to be coming up for Christmas so that changes everything.  Hudson will be almost 3, kind of the magic number for Christmas don't you think?  Plus, I gotta make Canada Christmas as good as American Christmas in his eyes, so I feel like a have a responsibility to my country to make sure Hudson doesn't go home thinking Canada Christmas sucks.  Jonah is going to be 14 months, so I'm not worried about impressing him.  I think the wrapping paper from Hudson's presents should suffice.  Seriously if you've ever seen Jonah, he gets all happy and smiley if you even look vaguely in his direction - you don't even have to look directly at him.

So Dave and I are going to have a tree for the first time.  Never had my own tree.  It will likely be the fake one from my parent's house.  I don't see the point of cutting down a tree (yeah yeah, pine tree smell whatever whatever), and yes, I realize making a fake tree is probably equally harmful to the environment to produce.  But as I am using a tree that my parents already own (and won't be using - see, I come by my feelings for Christmas honestly), I feel fine about it.  I've always said when I had my own tree, I want only handmade ornaments on it.  Not counting the lights.  And the candy canes.  Hence, the Christmas crafting Labour day.  So far our tree will be barely not naked.  But it's only September right?

Any suggestions for handmade ornaments?  Leave me a message with any links.  No suggestions using pasta pieces, ok?


out with the old....

My first "single girl with her own apartment" purchase

Dave and I are getting our kitchen/family room renovated and this week we had to do some purging and cleaning and this included getting rid of some furniture.  This was all furniture from our old apartment that made the move with us to where we live now.  Stuff that I had bought many years ago when my roommate moved out, all the furniture was hers and I was left with an empty apartment to fill.

It was an exciting time in my life.  I was single, living in the city, I had just started my dream job and had my own apartment for the first time in my life.  Kind of like Sex in the City, minus the sex and all the fabulous clothes and shoes.

The couch above was my first major purchase as an adult on my own.  At $800 was the most expensive thing I had ever bought up to that point in my life (if only that were still true!).   I spent evenings and weekends hunting for the "perfect couch".  It was like a real quest, my co-workers got involved, giving me advice on what to look for and where to go.  "So did you get a couch yet?" was the first thing I was asked every Monday morning.  It took me so long at one point someone commented "Holy shit, just buy a fucking couch already."  I should mention that I worked on a trading floor, where a) people bought their kids ponies for Christmas, so watching someone drag their heels on a $800 purchase was probably a bit irritating for them and b) people used very bad language but not always in a mean way.  Anyway, when I finally bought that couch it was more like a collective triumph than a personal one.

My one regret about that couch was that for an extra $100 they would have converted it into a fold out bed, but I didn't have an extra $100 at the time.  Over the years many many friends have spent the night on that couch, that $100 really would have been well spent, probably like $1 per stay.   But I was always a responsible spender and I felt like I couldn't afford it.  If I knew at the time that one day I would be dropping $100 on vitamins at the naturopath on almost a weekly basis, or on a single trip to Whole Foods to buy some gluten free bread and dairy free cheese, I think it would have put it all in perspective, but sorry friends, I had no such foresight.

Yes, it is just a couch.  Just a piece of furniture.  But in a way, getting rid of that couch kind of symbolizes a tangible good bye to that time in my life when I made decisions on my own, scrimped and saved for the things I needed (actually needed not wanted), when every purchase felt "major".  It's not that I don't love the life I have now.  It's recognizing that I had to go through all that, to get to this, and that all that is a time you can never go back to.

Where did the couch go you might ask.  Thank you for asking.  We found a wonderful organization in Toronto called the Furniture Bank.  They collect gently used furniture and household items and transfer them to women escaping violence, refugees, new immigrants, and people transitioning out of homelessness.   These individuals or families are referred to the Furniture Bank by registered agencies and shelters and they can go in and "shop" for furnishings for their homes.  Everything is given to them at no charge.  

So the couch that symbolized a big transition in my life, now will do the same for someone else.


so little and then so much.....

What?  August already?  Second week of August even!

No posting for a while because at first, nothing was really going on....nothing worth posting anyways....just the regular hum drum stuff....work, eat, sleep, repeat.

Then all of a sudden too much was happening.  And all at once.  I can't get into it all really because some of it really sucked and I don't have the energy to go through it all at the moment.

One thing of note is that I've started seeing a naturopath.  And she discovered that I have some food intolerances - to gluten, eggs, and dairy and recommended that I cut all three out of my diet.  And for those of you who know me, you know that I've been a vegetarian for almost 20 years now.  So I have now effectively become a vegan and pretty much the worst dinner guest ever.  Or the best because I think I'm just going to start brown bagging it to dinner parties.

Gluten is in EVERYTHING.  For instance soy sauce should actually be called Wheat sauce, because if you've ever read the ingredients, they go in this order "water, wheat, soy.....".  I know - who knew?

So it's been about two months and to be honest, I do feel better.  How better?  I can't explain, but I just feel better.   That is, when I'm not effing starving.  No gluten, eggs, or dairy effectively means no baked goods.  No cupcakes, cookies, banana bread, pie...I think you get the picture.  It has really cut down on my extra-curricular eating.  Like do you ever just buy yourself something to eat when you are at the mall, just for the sake of eating?  For me it was always a pretzel or some kind of baked snack.  Now there is pretty much next to nothing for me to eat at your average mall food court.  Which I guess is not a bad thing.

from projectwedding.com
I don't know what would happen if you put those in front of my face right now.  Like if I would even bother using my hands or if I would just smash my whole face into that plate mouth wide open.

And cheeeeeese....I want cheese.  Brie, parmesan, chedder, omg I'll even take disgusting Velveeta.

Okay enough, this post is just making me sad.

I discovered Bunners on the internet today and I can't wait to get over to the junction to check it out.  It is a gluten-free vegan bakery and the reviews are fantastic.  I'll let you know.  Although if you were to put frosting on a potato right now I would probably savour every bite.