HeartEdu

Matters of the Heart in Story Format – Tales of a Vancouver Girl

Category: People

Angry Teegan is like an Angry Jigglypuff

I wandered out for lunch with Teegan under a blanket of low hanging clouds. Most often, she and I are together at lunch. Have I ever told you about Teegan? We are quirky people in a quirky friendship.

Low hanging clouds and gray all around

Low hanging clouds and gray all around

She is petite, soft-spoken, adorable, and will punch anyone in the face that gets in my way. No, really. I tell her my woes and she gets so mad that she declares that she will seriously punch offending parties in the face. Not that I would ever condone that but watching Teegan get worked up is like watching a Pokemon get mad. I’m thinking of Pikachu or Jigglypuff turning into an cute and pretty version of the Incredible Hulk.

This is Jigglypuff when angry.

This is Jigglypuff when angry.

In reciprocation, because it is a friendship, whenever she goes away and comes back from a trip, I surprise her with interesting and random news that amuses her. For instance, she once went away for a week, and when she came back, I had become a vegetarian. It’s my way of saying, “Hey, you better come back…because I am doing awesome things that you can NOT miss!”  You know, like that time she went away for three weeks, and I started wearing lipstick and doing handstands in the office.

We have a pact to limit ourselves on the shopping this year. Whenever one declares that she would like to purchase something, the other grills with questions and statements like, “Do you need that?”, or “Seriously? You have something like that.” Sometimes we lie too, “Yeah, that totally makes you look fat”, when in reality, it is absolutely exquisite. I might be the only one lying — she’d be ridiculous to think anything made her look fat. By the way, if I am sad, Teegan is horrible with this pact. “Awe. Do you want to stop by Lush?”  When this happens, I let her know that this would be an inappropriate parenting method (for her future reference), and that yes, I would like to stop by Lush.

Keep us away from stores!

Keep us away from stores!

But Teegan is more than just the girly girlfriend. She is also one of my running buddies. Whenever we run together, she tells me stories in more than 5 sentences at a time before taking a breath…even if I pick up the pace. So here we are running, I’m dying, and she is talking like she has forgotten that we are running. Magical Pokemon powers.

She also complies to my oddball request with amusement. Requests like, “Hey, hold this lil lamb up against the window so that I can take a photo!” This in a yuppie part of town.

Lil Lamb having a hayday in the yuppie part of town.

Lil Lamb (something I’ve sewn) having a hayday in the yuppie part of town

Teegan may as well be a Pokemon because I would keep her in my pocket everywhere I go.

It’s sunny, but put on some pants!

It was a beautiful Friday in Vancouver. Had the opportunity to take some pics on the way into work and afterwork from the work patio. Sunny days in the Rainy City are a big deal. It could be sunny, and 6 degrees celsius, but you will always find at least one Vancouverite wandering about in shorts and a tshirt. Seriously, it’s not that warm. Go put on a coat…but if you have nice legs, I’m okay with the shorts. 😛

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Clockwise from top: Canada Place, old building in Gastown, Gastown’s infamous Steamclock.

The work day flew by as my colleague and I trapped ourselves in a meeting room to work on a proposal. I was in a haze (a truly barfy haze) from taking some prescription meds (yes, legitimately for me), so my colleague was on point and taking the lead. However, at some point, we switched roles when I started mixing the medication I had in my system with Coke Zero, and she had post-lunch food coma.

When the work day ended, I met up with Nathan and his colleagues at Yaletown Brew Pub. I watched them drink. When we left, we were crossing a large intersection:

Slightly tipsy colleague: I’m going to moonwalk across the street!!! (So he begins…)

Nathan: Uh, dude, that is NOT looking anything like the moonwalk!

Me: OMG, you’re SO DOING IT!

Slightly tipsy colleague: OMG, I TOTALLY AM!!!

I like to encourage. That’s what good people do.

When Nathan and I parted with his colleagues, we headed out to Richmond because I had a mad craving for tofu dessert.

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Tofu Dessert in Richmond (behind Aberdeen Centre)

So that is what I had. 🙂

Ex-Monk in Vancouver – Part II

Read Ex-Monk in Vancouver – Part I here.

A week after we went to Year of the Snake Asian Expo at BC Place, Nathan and I met up with our friend, Ronaldo, to check out the Thrangu Monastery (Tibetan Buddhist Temple) in Richmond. I wanted to learn more about Tibetan Buddhism, and also wanted to buy some mala beads for chanting in my meditation practice.

The monastery is beautiful with its golden roof, symbols of the 8 spoke wheel (to represent the eight-fold path), and rows of prayer wheels built into the outer walls.

We entered the monastery from the back, and came upon a hallway with photographs of the lama, and the temple during construction. We followed the hallway and ended up in the gift shop. Nathan was observing some artwork of the many forms of Buddha while Ronaldo and I perused the mala beads in the display case.

Suddenly, I hear someone calling Nathan’s name. Now it’s not uncommon for Nathan to know people in the most random places all about Vancouver. This includes restaurants, pubs, the skytrain, under bridges (kidding), etc. If he meets you, he will find a way in which he is connected to you…like some real life embodiment of Facebook. Seriously though, in a monastery?  Who on earth knows Nathan here.

I turn around, and it’s Ric adorned in monk garb. Ric hugged us both and introduced himself to Ronaldo. He taught us about the different Buddha forms in the artwork, and then in the distance, a gong began to ring.

“Do you have time to stay? The ceremony is about to begin!”

Before I knew it, Nathan, Ronaldo and I are ditching our shoes, and climbing the stairs into the Main Shrine Hall where we felt the eyes of a very large Buddha, 35 Buddhas of confession, and 500 smaller Medicine Buddhas.

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Thrangu Monastery – Main Shrine Hall. Photo taken from thrangumonastery.org

A very special ceremony (to end the past lunar year) was about to begin. We sat on cushions and chanted for two hours with the monks of the monastery while following along in a book. Nathan and I chanted in Tibetan which was us basically guessing what we thought the Tibetan words was going to sound like. Most times, I was way off. The chanting was very calming and it brought me great peace. The monks changed the rhythm, skillfully strung together words, and went full force on the biggest gong I have ever seen. You ever see those photos of monks with toned arms? I’m pretty sure it’s from gong’ing (no such word, but I now knight it with the meaning of “tone arms from hitting the gong”).

Ronaldo left part way through because of prior commitments. I had watched as he stood silently, bowed at Buddha and left the room. Just so you know, leaving is completely acceptable.

After two hours of chanting, it was officially break time. Ric took us on a tour of the monastery. He walked us around the outside, and encouraged me to spin the prayer wheels embossed with Om Mani Padmi Hum. By saying it aloud or in your mind, and spinning it on the wheel is equivalent to saying it 100 times.  I ran alongside the building, with my hand out and spun the row of prayer wheels in delight…with hopes that all sentient beings be freed from suffering.

When the break was over, we went back into the hall for another hour of chanting. When this hour was done, it was time for dinner. Ric’s wife and some of the other ladies have been in the kitchen this entire time creating a delicious feast. Nathan and I sat with strangers, and ate our meal. There was going to be a fire show, and another hour of chanting after dinner. However, Nathan and I had decided to go after dinner. On our way out, we met Lama Pema. He serenely smiled and nodded at us as we nodded and bowed at him. The only way I could describe this moment is that it felt very “namaste”.

What we thought was going to be a one hour visit turned out to be five hours of peace, calm, and friendship. Ric is more than just an ex-monk, he is a real-deal kind of friend.

Ex-Monk in Vancouver – Part I

Nathan and I have been wandering for hours now at the Year of the Snake Asian Expo at BC Place.

BC Place – photo taken from office window.

It’s all becoming a blur of colors — mostly many shades of red. Row after row of booths selling remote control cars, macaroons, stinky tofu, trinkets, lanterns, and more. The sound of children laughing on carnival rides, vendors hustling, and the crowd bustling echos distantly in my mind. This event is like a mishmash of Vancouver’s Chinatown, Playland, and Richmond Night Market — all conveniently under the roof of BC Place.

We are at the point where we’ve lost my brother, his fiancee, and mischievous little Luke to the bleachers. They are likely sprawled out on some chairs enjoying…well, the chairs.

Nathan and I dragged our feet to the edge of the earth. This is the last row of booths. To our delight, we saw a man and his wife selling Tibetan handicrafts and meditation tools. His name is Ric and he is an ex-monk. He told us tales of his brother (also a monk) who practiced silence for 3 years. Could you imagine? Anyhow, we became fast friends and exchanged contact information. We left that booth after an hour with a huge gong and a singing bowl under our arms. Ric’s wife had wrapped the gong up in a beautiful shawl. This is going to help us greatly in our meditation practice.

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The beautiful gong and singing bowl in our meditation room at home

I had nothing but good feelings about him. Nathan was skeptical. Was this man telling us wild monk (oxymoron?) stories to seal deals? He seemed too good (in the moral sense) to be true.

It is later confirmed that this was not the case.

To be continued…

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