Thursday, October 12, 2017

A Pitbull at Heart

Throughout his entire life, my dog never likes other dogs. Our neighbors had to reroute their dog when they saw mine approaching them.  Recently, we went to Sunnybrook Park, where there is a dog park. I had never been to a dog park, so that trip was more for me...

After we stepped out of the car, he walked about 100 meters and found a nice piece of turf and started to go in circles. He had already squatted down, but as soon as he saw a little dog coming our way, he forgot about doing his business and started barking at him. "Sorry." I said to the owner who gave me a grim smile, which reminded me of a friend who once told me that "some dog owners are idiots for bringing their stupid dog to a dog park." With that thought in mind, we ventured further into the woods. Before long, we saw a Malamute marching toward us. He was huge in size, yet meek in spirit. My dog looked a bit panicky and placed his paws on my wheel asking to climb up to my laps. No thanks. My dog came around to the other side of my chair so I could become his shield against this giant. The whole minute while the Malamute was inside our comfort zone, Heihei was tiptoeing with his head down. But minutes later, Heihei started to bark toward the direction where the big guy was becoming smaller and smaller. He was so mad that he looked a little bulkier with the furs on his back all standing up.

I tightened up his leash. As we walked another 20 meters, we saw a professional dog walker with her 7 dogs coming towards us. They got along very well, pacing at the same speed. It was an art that none of their leashes were tangled. All of the sudden, Heihei started yapping again, totally destroyed the peaceful dynamic. Three of the small dogs were triggered, they started to exchanged fire and fury like the park had never, seen, before. "Sorry!" I had to keep apologizing for him. It's embarrassing that my dog brought out the worst in dogs.

Then, we reached the heart of the dog park, where my favorite animals could run wildly and freely. Pooches were wagging their tails as their owners were unbuckling their leash. What if there is another idiot bringing their stupid dog to the park? With that thought, I scooped my dog from the ground and put him on my laps as we went into the gates. The small dogs had a designated area, but we were staying outside the fence and watching them chasing and playing with each other. Some of them looked so perky wearing their fancy costumes. I had an amazing time. But my dog was constantly making this grumpy noise. I could feel the vibrations of his vocal cord. "just a few more minutes, buddy."

Then, I kinda smelled something, and no matter where I relocated, it stuck with me like a foxy armpit. Then, I realized that I had stepped on a "golden" road bomb. It was all over one of my wheels.  I looked towards where we had come from, I realized we had to find an alternative exit. And the only other option was to go through the big dog's playground. Okay then, half way through the park, I saw a ball flying above my head, 3 seconds later, all the big dogs were running toward our direction. One of them looked so scary, he was skinny and tall, had a face of a human. He was particularly interested in us. I put my hands on my dog to steady him, and whispering, " dude, we gonna die, don't make a sound." I had no more hands to wheel my chair so we froze there and were surrounded by dogs. Heihei was so quiet that he almost was holding his breath as well. I was pretty impressed by his ability of risk evaluation. Fortunately, as another ball flew above us, the dogs left us alone.

Love the dog park, minus the smelly gold, minus the fury drama.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Light

I didn’t plan to spend my Friday night working on this article. But the words of this article have been boiling and brewing in my mind for so long to a point where I am almost incapable of doing anything else. I really hope you will keep an open mind while reading this, and you will read it till the very end. I am hoping that as a result, it will change your perspective and even your life.

I am working at a rehab hospital for people with spinal cord injuries. In a lot of cases, people’s injuries were so severe that they had a near death experience. You might have heard of it before, their “soul” left their body and they saw the “light” or even spoke to God. Skeptics argued that it was just a delusion or imagination. Well, this week, I had two very interesting encounters with two ladies at my work place and their stories prompted me to write this article.

Krista Burling is a friend of mine. She is an outpatient. Her injury happened many years ago. She came this Tuesday for her doctor’s appointment. We were chatting in the lobby area.“I have to tell you something.” She said, “September 25th of last year, I had a really bad lung infection, I fainted and when my parents came to my rescue they could feel that my heart was beating slower and weaker. I think I died at that moment.”

She said that within a second, she was brought to Heaven, it was a beautiful world with vivid colors and magnificent view. Krista became a Christian at a very young age. She was once again in her youthful body and at the corner of her eye, she could still see her earthly body lying there. Then she saw a waterfall, it was shining like diamonds and the water droplets were in the shapes of snowflakes. She saw a light coming from behind the waterfall, a blinding light, yet her eyes were not hurt. She heard the voice of God. I stopped her and asked, “Do you think it was God the Father or Jesus.” “I believe it was the Father.” The voice said to her, “Krista, today is not your day.” Krista didn’t want to leave heaven and go back to her body of pain. She bargained with God for a while, until God said, “I will come back soon for my church.” Then she found herself in a hospital room and stayed there for the next 3 weeks before she was discharged. It took a few more weeks for her to recover fully. She was forever changed. She said that she doubted God and yelled at Him many many times in her life. But this time she was given the assurance that God is real and Heaven is real. She tells her experience to almost everyone she knows, some believed and cried with her, some brushed her off.

I had reservation when I first heard of her story, Oh, I believed in it whole heartedly. However, I wasn’t sure if I should share it, or how to share it in an effective and convincing way. I didn’t go outside of my comfort zone, I only told a few friends and family members who are already Christians. I thought, okay, let Krista tell the story in her own words. I am good, I already told a few people. BUT, today, I was talking to another lady and this time, I realize that I am the only person who can effectively share this story, I have to get this out.

This lady is an inpatient, she had her injury only a few weeks ago. She is a new comer from China, she doesn’t speak a lot of English. My colleague Ivan asked me to translate for him and become her peer support. I will call her Lee.

Lee told me that she was hit by a car while crossing the street. She had a head injury, a spinal cord injury, a wrecked shoulder and a broken pelvis. The doctor didn’t think she would make it and asked her husband to fly to Canada to prepare for her funeral. Her husband took the very next flight and didn’t even pack a luggage. As she was describing the chaos, I asked her, “did you see a light when you were in the coma?” Her eyes were wide open, “Yes! I remember, for a very long time, I saw this blinding light above my head, I was in this place that was just so, so, so bright, to a point where my eyes were hurt.”
“Did you see a colorful world?”
“No, it was just a place that was really bright.”
I asked again, “did you see a man?”
“I saw a figure wrapped in light. I think it was a woman.” 
“You sure it wasn't a man?”
“It was a woman.” (My Catholic friend told me that it was Mary)
“Were you at peace?”
“I had no fear, I just felt normal.”

What amazed her was, for days, she had been telling people about this experience, which she could not explain it either. Everyone around her kept on telling her that she was in a confused mental state. I was the first person who told her what she had experienced before she even brought it up.
“Did you believe in God?”
“My landlord became a Christian all of the sudden, and she dragged me to church twice. I really didn’t learn much from it.”
“Do you know the story of Jesus?”
“Not really.”
“I think you went to heaven, or a taste of what it was like.”
She nodded and wanted me to tell her more about God next week. Before we parted, she asked, “Did you see the light?”

I never really died, my injury was never life-threatening. I didn’t see the light. But I didn’t need to see it to believe in it.I always want to write an article about heaven, but I didn’t have enough materials to make my case. What these two women told me this week gave me the courage to share my faith more boldly and shamelessly, and most importantly, it affected me. It radicalized me. The reality of Heaven, the anticipation of Christ’s return makes everything on earth matters less, it makes everything glorious.  

Lastly, I just want to say, if Heaven is real, you really cannot afford not to believe in it. On the other hand, if it's not, then people like me are fools, stupid, naive, happy fools. But we cannot find out for sure until the day we die.

Lastly, here is an interview I really like, it’s done by ABC’s 20/20. Please watch it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

When the Fat Lady Sings (Short Fiction)

I just heard of this proverb, "it ain't over until the fat lady sings." Not politically correct to call anyone the f word, but this is a much better title than my original one "The Last Six Days." This is obviously a story about the end of the world. I know, it's lame. But mine doesn't involve zombies, aliens or mutants. I was trying to imagine how the end would be like in a "realistic" scenario. I hope you will find it entertaining and thought-provoking.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Ohh Shut Up

I watch a lot of TV. Some choices are kinda shameful. I noticed in most reality shows, people are constantly seeking advices from others because their life is just soooo dramatic. Most of the time, I could almost guess what the advisor would say to help. Here are my top three guesses. 

1: "Just be who you are. "
This is the lamest advice in the history of mankind. I remember the first time when someone gave me this advice. I was 14. I had a crush on some body, of course. I asked his friend:" I just added him to my ICQ (pre-iOS, pre-FB, pre-MSN). What should I do?" This grade 7 boy said:" just be who you are." I remember thinking, "wow, that's just so profound. Not only that, but it sounds really poetic." Though I kinda know what he meant but I still didn't know what he was saying. Nowadays, it's hard to go through a day without hearing people say, "I am who i am", "you are who you are", "It is what it is", "don't let anyone change you from being who you are", etc, etc. The reason why this is the worst advice is because, Okay, do you even know who the person is? Does the person even know who they really are? Perhaps the root of their problem is because of the fact that they are who they are? For example, when Jeb Bush hired a consultant for his campaign, the consultant told him to, you guess it, "just be who you are". Jeb was like, "I have to pay someone to tell me this?" 

2:"Stay true to yourself." 
This usually comes in a combo, "bro, you are who you are, just stay true to yourself. " Again, it's equally empty. But for most people, they would just nod and nod, and absorb it as if they have just been enlightened. No one wanted to appear dumb by asking back, "can you be more specific? Like, what de hell am I supposed to do? Who should I give this rose to?" Which leads to lame advice number 3.

3. "Just follow your heart."
Your heart is where your love resides, so my guess is that this proverb is asking us to follow our emotion and feeling? Right? Maybe it's a good advice to some people, but it's kinda confusing to a chink. In Chinese, we write the word think as "想”. The word heart is written as "心”. It's part of "想”. When we say "I think" we literally say it as "my heart is thinking." Therefore, am I supposed to act upon logic and reasons when I am told to "follow my heart". If I were to give out the final rose, should I give it to an eye candy --- six-pack, six feet, dripping with sexuality or should I give it to a nice guy? 

To sum up everything I have said so far, I can use this lyric from one of my favourite songs, "You say it all when you say nothing at all." 

There are three short and sweet advices that actually deserve more credits. They are truly helpful and practical, not to mention extremely easy to remember. 

1 "Well, who cares."
A lot of times when we think we have done something stupid, we need to remember that no one cares about us. No one spends a great deal of their life remembering what you have done in your life. Everyone has their own stupidities to dwell on. 

2 "Just forget it." 
Yes, really helpful. I don't know about you, but I find it so easy to forget and move on. Sometimes I am not even sure if it's normal. But I guess that is just who I am. (Oops)

3 "Ohh, shut up."
It's something that I need to control myself on a daily basis. Let's face it, gossips are so juicy that it's hard not to spill it all over the place. So, before we speak, ask ourselves 5 questions: T.H.I.N.K 

Is it True?
Is it Hepful?
Is it Important?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind? 

If it's not any of the above, then just shut the hell up.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Devil Wears Chanel (Fiction)

Benny is a tough cookie and everyone knows it. He’s six feet tall with fifteen percent body fat and an impressive amount of solid muscles. He works as an exterminator. He likes the fact that he has the authority over life and death. But ironically, his livelihood depends on the survival and resilience of those squish creature that he kills on a daily basis.

The privilege of entering strangers’ homes had opened Benny’s eyes to the hidden fascinations of humanity. Most of the time, working at an apartment building felt like taking a rollercoaster ride between heaven and hell. Some units were beautiful and lofty like the Garden of Eden and some others were dirty and chaotic like a satanic bloodbath. FYI, twenty percent of the population are hoarders.

This would be another one of those days --- at least that was what Benny thought.

Benny went up to the fourteenth floor of this apartment building. He saw a beautiful brunette walking out of the end unit. She was wearing a red dress. It was so tight that Benny could vaguely see the outline of her belly button ring. She was curvy and sexy reminding him of his celebrity crush Kim Kardashian. Benny could smell the woman from where he was. Instantly, he was intoxicated by the sweet aroma of her perfume. As the woman was approaching Benny, he became really nervous. His heart started to drum and his face began to burn. Benny could not put a label on his feeling. He refused to believe that he would fall in love this easily and quickly. Benny wanted to say hi, but the woman was texting on her phone. She did not even lift up her head to acknowledge his existence. Benny’s heart sank as he saw her disappear into the elevator. Originally Benny was going to start off with the first unit on this floor, but instead he decided to go to that woman’s unit first. He was thrilled.

After Benny opened the door with his master key, he took a little step back. Two pillars of cardboard boxes were stacked on the left and right side of the entrance. There was a narrow passageway leading into the unit. An eerie odor blew toward Benny that made him reach for his gas mask. This was not how he had imagined. “Hello! Anybody’s home?” Benny asked a few times and was convinced that no one was home. He took out his work order and found that a bed bug treatment and a roach treatment were requested for this unit. He tightened his mask, put on his gloves and took his tank of pesticide with him. His little buggy was too big to go through the narrow tunnel, thus, he left it outside.

After squeezing through that little passageway, Benny found himself in the midst of an “Amazon jungle”. His jaw dropped. There was stuff everywhere! The entire floor was covered by shirts, dresses, bras, dirty laundry, food containers, leftovers, toys and things that were hard to tell what they actually were. It seemed like an F5 tornado had just blown through this place. With all the crumbs and flakes of food on the floor, are you sure you are not intentionally feeding the roaches? From experience, no amount of treatment would be effective on units like this.

Benny picked up a pair of pants on the floor to clear himself a path. Nah! Why bother? He put the pants back down and stepped on them as he explored further into the living room. He was shocked to find an oasis in the middle of this desolated land. There was a beautiful vanity right beside the window. All kinds of makeup and hair products were sitting elegantly on the table. The most eye catching item was a fur coat. It was lying on the chair like a Persian cat. Benny glanced at the label, “Sha-nelle.” Benny felt proud that he knew the proper pronunciation.

Curiosity drove Benny to the bedroom. As he entered this room, his eyes popped out of their sockets. There was more stuff piling up here. A mattress was sagging in the middle of the room. An altar was set up in one of the corners. A green-faced idol with seven arms was positioned at the centre and five plates of rotten fruits and moldy bread were placed in front of the idol. Benny suddenly felt a chill penetrating his body. He prayed the Lord’s prayer, drew a cross before mouthing his most sincere Amen.

Benny had enough. Just when he was about to leave, he saw two rats coming out from behind the altar. Benny locked eyes with these plague-infested animals. Over the years, Benny had seen cockroaches pouring out of an open cabinet like bees zooming out of a hive; he had dethroned dozens of queens while destroying dozens of wasp's nests; he had dealt with people of all kinds of icky and creepy personalities. Therefore, no one would believe that Benny the exterminator had a phobia of rats. After years of practice, he no longer had problems with picking up dead rats. But the live and jumpy ones would still scare the bejesus out of him. “Ahhhhh!” Benny screamed like a “Belieber”. The two rats fully came out of their hiding. Benny quickly turned around and wanted to run for his life. Yet his legs had a slower reaction time compared to his upper body. They intertwined and locked into a knot. Benny fell face first onto the ground. He didn’t just go down by himself. Along the way, he knocked down a lamp stand. All of the sudden, everything around him began to collapse like dominoes. Kenny’s blood pressure jumped higher and higher as he heard things break and shatter one after another. The world paused for five seconds before all kinds of organisms emerged out of the darkness: rats, roaches, spiders and who-knows-what. Benny wanted to die right there, right now. Before he could stand up, his hand touched a bony object buried under a blanket. As he uncovered the blanket, he already had a good guess of what it was --- a skull. After another top-of-the-lung scream, he realized that the skull was only a Halloween decoration.

Benny stumbled out of the room, stormed out of the unit not caring how many more items he broke along the way. He was panting like a dog. It was definitely a soul-crashing humbling experience. Just when he thought that everything was over, he realized that his buggy had been stolen. It dawned on him that Khloe had just become his favorite Kardashian. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Encounter With a Curious Stranger II

In my previous post, I talked about my encounter with children who were curious about myself being in a wheelchiar. This one is about grown-ups with the curiosity of a child.

“Why are you in a wheelchair?” It’s as blunt as it can be, especially when they don’t even say “Hi” first. In my experience, thirty percent of the time, they were seniors; thirty percent of the time, they were my fellow Chinese folks and the remaining percentage consisted of other ethnic minorities. 

So, here is a common scenario: I park my wheelchair outside the entrance of a building while waiting impatiently for my wheel-trans to come. A naive stranger walks by in a chill-lax pace, stops, scans my entire frame, gives a friendly smile and asks, whats wrong with your legs? I have to confess, before my spinal cord injury, I too, had zero knowledge about the central nerve system and its magnificent power. It would be bitter to shun her overflowing amount of enthusiasm. I answer, well, its not really my legs, it's my spinal cord. Oh? Her curiosity elevates to another level.  Hmm, you see, the spinal cord contains a lot of nerve fibers. A bundle of nerves looks and feels like Tofu, with the same texture and color and everything. When they are squashed, people are not able to walk. . . Sometimes, I would try to expand my anatomical tutorial for as much as possible in order to give more time for my wheeltran to come and rescue me, hence, I could flee from the next inevitable question --- So, why did you break your spinal cord? Unlike most other SCIs who were injured in a pure accident, I am not particular proud about the nature of my injury. I certainly do not feel necessary to tell strangers about the fact that its the result of a failed suicidal attempt. I was too honest a few times, and got them even more excited. So, the quickest way out is to say I had a car accident. If my ride still has not arrived, I am expected to describe a little bit and use more imagination.  Sometimes, I would get so confused in my own fantasy and begin to contradict myself. . .

Fortunately, every such encounter ends on an optimistic note: Oh, dont you worry gal. Let me tell you, you are young, you will be able to walk again. Almost a bit too optimistic, but I appreciate that. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016


After my dog turned 12, we noticed a lot of signs of aging. His energy level was low, his eyes were becoming hazy and his black fur was turning gray. My heart was aching to see him like that. I did a serious googling on if dogs would go to heaven. I also searched the internet for solutions and found out that changing a dog's diet would boost up their immune system. Hence, I had decided to give my dog nothing but fresh food. We used to give him what we eat along with his dog chow, but now it would be cooking for him, that's a whole new level of doggie love. A bit extreme but there is nothing ashamed of being a "dog lady".

I made a long list of food that dogs could eat and stick it on the fridge. When going for grocery shopping, things on that list would also be what we as human eat for the following week. I also found out that dog should eat things that resemble what their ancestors would eat in the wild; therefore organs and bones are essentials as well. We don't eat a lot of organs (as Chinese), but my mom started to look for recipes of making a liver dish. I was surprised when eating it for the first time in a long time, my mom said, "they came in a large package, Heihei could not eat everything, hence we are eating the rest." My mom would also buy pork bones and slow cook them for hours. Toward the end, the bones were as soft as calcium pills. Some of the pieces were too big for him to swallow, hence I would chew them on my dog's behalf. Again, nothing to be ashamed of.

Several months after, you would not believe the difference. His fur became black again and his eyes started to shine. He looked like a puppy. He even started to look for toys to play. He'd hop onto my fluffy sleeper and drag it off my foot. I was completely defenseless with my gimpy feet. After kidnapping the left one, he'd come right back to grab the right one. He also began to mind other people's business again. Whenever someone walked across our door, he would make his presence heard not knowing that he's an illegal resident in this pet-free building.The ultimate sign of his rejuvenation was being bitchy again.When his vet attempted to check his teeth during his annual checkup, Heihei bit him really really hard and would not let go of his hand. NOT sure if bad dogs could go to heaven. To my dog's defense, unlike our first vet, this new vet is not a dog whisper. "Not bad for a dog turning 13, all are well, what are you feeding him?"

When I saw my friend and told him about this, I was quite emotional, "I should have fed my dog nothing but fresh food all his life. Why would they tell us that we could not give dogs anything but dog chow? Is it all about the money?" He's one of the best people I have met. He always sees the best in every person. He replied, "I think it's because a lot of people have a very unhealthy diet. If they feed their dog with whatever that they eat, they might give their dog pizza, ice-cream and other junks. " Makes sense.