I contributed to that?

The pictures of my last post were taken at an art studio, where I spent an enjoyable afternoon painting and catching up with my artist friend and mentor GG. We each started on a huge human-sized canvas. The subject was “water.” After a couple of hours, GG had finished with his painting, while mine was still in a dreadful state. Not any more. I just got the news of the enhanced version tonight. GG has more than fixed it; he has turned it into a master piece. I’m just thrilled that I painted the base colors. What a transformation!





I had my hair done and dressed up for an opera night last night. It is sad that most art forms today are not profitable via ticket sales. Opera is a typical example, and is said the whenever the curtain is up, the show starts to lose money. About 50% of the fund must be raised through patrons. Thus, last night I went to a fabulous gala, with good food, wine and company. The show was decent as well.
opera night

the second piece


This was the second piece I finished yesterday. I felt relieved and light-hearted because it was finally out of me.

I also had a fun evening last night, a girls’ night out with four other women. We laughed so much, on stupid topics, which were mostly provided by me. I had a great time. It was a dose of female camaraderie that I desperately needed. But as soon as I was in the car driving home alone, I was back to my solitude melancholic self.

A friend of mine told me today that she thought I was very productive with my time. I guess people do perceive me as energetic, funny and productive, so totally opposite from how I see myself. I remember another good friend of mine used to tell me that he was always “happy but unsatisfied”. I think I now can finally appreciate and understand his sentiment. I am happy. I am very content with my life as a whole. But there is something missing. I don’t know what that is. And therefore I’m not quite satisfied, and I’m continuously searching for it. Even after I exhausted myself on multitude of activities, I’m still searching.


All of a sudden I wanted to paint again. There was one period a couple of years ago I wanted to paint all the time, but that desire had come and gone, and I had not been painting for quite some time. Now that I dedicated the month of April to finish the first draft of my novel, my desire for painting seemed to have come back with a vengeance.

This morning I looked at all my unfinished works in acrylic and in oil, and started to work on them. I didn’t work on them for very long. In a short four-hour period, I finished two pieces. One of the pieces was a portrait for my friend Tony, whose birthday was in March. The paint was intended for his birthday – last March! So more than a year later, I finally finished it. I was surprised at how little time it actually took for me to complete the work. If I knew it was this easy, I probably won’t let the unfinished painting hanging on the wall bugging me for more than a year. But then again, I was incapable of finishing it earlier, because I had absolutely no desire to do so.

I wonder whether this was true to my writing as well. When I stop, the incompleteness really bothers me a lot, and I feel quite discontented. But when I start again, l seem to not have as much obsession as I have imagined when I was idling. Maybe I should let my book bug me a while longer? And maybe then the writing would come quick and smooth.

do I look local to you? (day 3 of 9)


China Trip – Day 3 of 9

Today was full of activities of visiting and hanging out with relatives, with great food and drinks, and even some games of Mahjongg. But I still made time to visit MOCA Shanghai. Honestly, it was a huge disappointment. I guess with contemporary art it is usually a hit and miss, as every installation is different. The guide-book was a few years old, and it had pictures taken from x exhibits ago and looked great. The current installation was not nearly as interesting.

I looked like what you would expect from a typical tourist, carrying my bag on one shoulder across my body, with a huge Canon 5D and heavy professional-grade zoom lens in one hand, and a map in the other. So why did all these people come and ask me for directions? Strangers might have done so because they saw I have maps and assumed (wrongly) that I was already familiar with the content of the map and was ready to give out consultations freely. But my local friends did the same! When I asked them where to go and showed them my guide-book of “The Secret Shanghai”, they said that being local prevented them from knowing the new and hot places, as they only frequent their usual spots. In fact, they said, they’d love to go to some new places where a tourist might find interesting, and they would like to accompany me, but could I please set the itinerary?

I now have requests for itinerary for next Monday to Wednesday, that’s like my whole rest of the trip in Shanghai. And I don’t want to visit a place more than once on such a short trip. Ahhh, what should I do? I have to lean heavily on my expat friends for advice, as they must know where to go and what to do. I can’t believe I got myself into such a predicament!

Author’s Note: The picture above is based on inside view of MOCA Shanghai.

do, thus appreciate

IMG_2092Countless examples I have, but too trivial to share. Putting my hands on the keyboard, tiny happy memories from just the past few days trickling into my mind, like raindrops falling off a leaf.

Aren’t lives made from the collage of memories?

Even the best daydreamers, and I can attest to the validity myself, would be better off “do” rather than “think”. Just as imagined fresh air, the smell of the vegetation on the mountain after the rain and the lightness of the body benefited from healthy blood circulation of physical activities, are no way in comparison to the real thing. To that, I thank hubby for dragging me out of bed to hike the Cowles Mountain this morning, making my experience real and not an illusion.

I wouldn’t have enjoyed a delicious dish with a perfect concoction of richness and freshness if I hadn’t ordered that unfamiliar item on the menu at lunch.

I wouldn’t be reading and appreciating my follow blogger’s insights, writing and visual art skills if I hadn’t dabbled in some of those things myself.

I wouldn’t be pleasantly surprised at every corner, noticing and appreciating some of the most obscure things in life, if I hadn’t tried to “do” something with my time.

Oh, how I love this feeling…

empanadas, etc.

Yesterday morning I stopped at my favorite Vietnamese sandwiches shop for my Vietnamese coffee. My Starbucks gold card sighed in my wallet. I also bought some breakfast meat pastries to share at the office as I knew it would be a busy day. I learned from my favorite Colombian that it tasted exactly like the Colombian empanadas, though looked differently. She was delighted to found this familiar taste unexpectedly in a Vietnamese pastry which later I found the name to be “Pâté Chaud”.

Making one person happy made my day, and a few hours later unexpectedly I had a business idea that was completely unrelated to food. Ever wondered how the brain works? LOL. Incidentally, I was scheduled to have chocolate and ice cream with my Harvard PhD friend and I immediately recruited her for the cause.

Lots going on but not enough energy to go around…