Category Archives: Day Zero

39. Donate my hair

Last Thursday night, a brave friend and her kitchen scissors sawed off the vast majority of my hair:

It looks a bit like the tail end of some poor, dead animal, doesn’t it? For reference, most of that hair ranges from 8 to 11 inches long. It’s layered, so a few bits don’t qualify, but we cut it off in one go rather than worry about measuring each strand.

And I got a proper trim at the hairdresser’s the next day, much to my friend’s relief. So I am now sporting a much shorter haircut, and the hair was mailed off today to Eva & Co. Wigs, the company recommended by UBC’s Cuts for Cancer.

Eva & Co. Wigs makes and donates wigs to the Canadian Cancer Society, and accepts ponytails of at least 8 inches in length (including the shortest hair in a layered ponytail). For more information on donating to Eva & Co. Wigs, visit their website, or check out the Canadian Cancer Society for information on donating to other organisations throughout the country.

Their mailing address is:

Hair Donation Program
107-950 Broadway St W
Vancouver BC  V5Z 1K7 

(Yes, the address listed here is formatted a little differently to the one on their website because if there’s anything I learned in my various customer service/administrative jobs is how to address an envelope properly according to Canada Post regulations. I’ve become extremely anal pedantic since then, i.e. please note that there are no commas or full stops unless part of the address name, the postal code does appear on the same line as city and province, and that there are two spaces between the province and the postal code.)

(This was obviously a far too important aspect of my life at one time.)

Some random facts I’ve learned in the process of growing out and donating my hair:

  • It takes between 8 to 12 ponytails to make a single wig. Each ponytail is worth between US$100-200.
  • Hair donation programs have different requirements for their ponytails, so look carefully! Some accept dyed hair, while others don’t. Lengths also vary, though the bare minimum seems to be 8 inches.
  • Long hair gets split ends easily. It took me more months than I expected to grow my hair out, because I had to get it trimmed every few months to get rid of those persnickety ends.
  • It cost approximately CA$10 to mail my hair, including purchasing a sufficiently large envelope.
  • Short hair is prickly to sleep on.

On a more personal note, this is one of those things I am particularly glad to cross off my Day Zero list, not just to say ‘I did it!’, but because quite a few people in my circles of caring have been diagnosed with cancer in the last two months alone. Donating my hair doesn’t change the lives of anyone I know, but I suppose it’s my gesture of changing something small for someone somewhere, in the face of otherwise helplessness.

The good news is, everyone I know is dealing with their diagnoses, and currently there’s nothing to do but wait and keep an eye on things.

Much love to my beautiful friends and relatives. Your courage and positivity are an inspiration to everyone around you.

98. Sign up to donate organs

I have to say, it’s a bit anti-climatic to spend years thinking about donating your organs and spending only two and a half minutes actually signing up to do so. A couple of clicks and filling in one online form available on the BC Transplant Society website later, I am, to all intents and purposes, an organ donor!

(Well, as soon as they send me my confirmation email and I verify myself on the registry, anyway.)

So for those of you who’d like to donate, but think you need lots of time to sit down and fill it all in correctly — you really don’t. Just three minutes, including time spent getting your CareCard ready.

BC Transplant Society art campaign

Live Life. Pass It On. (From BC Transplant Society. Credit: Eva Markvoort and Cyrus McEarchern.)

I decided to donate my organs a few years ago, but put off signing up until I had a conversation with my parents about my intentions. Because, although it’s not legally required to get consent from your next of kin, I thought my family had the right to have this discussion. Would it potentially upset them? Given that my family is everything from agnostic to atheist to pragmatic believers, but not practitioners, in some, but not all, traditional Chinese beliefs, throw in a healthy amount of Buddhist philosophy, a diluted dose of Christianity, and a minuscule smidgeon of Jewish heritage that no one (except myself) actually seems to pay any attention to — I had absolutely no idea how they would react to this particular announcement.

They weren’t at all upset.

It turns out, when I visited them this time around and asked, that my mother is adamantly against my donating blood and totally cool with donating organs. Her philosophy is that one might make me dead and the other, I already am so it doesn’t matter. Which is not really the kind of catchy phrase that one gleans from either Blood Services or the Transplant Society’s campaigns; I think, perhaps, that she might be thinking of the increase in AIDS in China in the 1990s when there was a sharp increase in HIV-positive cases due to infection through blood donation (or blood selling, as it really was at that time). Or perhaps she’s remembering the number of times I’ve suffered from low blood sugar in the last several years and how she doesn’t want me fainting on her hands again. Either way, we didn’t bother talking much about donating blood since I’m not eligible to do that anyhow.

Speaking of blood donations, did you know that if you can’t donate blood for transfusions, you might be able to donate to research instead? That’s for all you travellers who’ve been to malaria-infested places and the like. How exciting! (Can we tell that I want to donate blood, too? Maybe in another several years.)

23. Riverdance


Ever since I saw this show — oh, maybe ten years ago — I’ve been wanting to see it again. I put it on my Day Zero list as a promise to myself that I would go if I could, but with no real expectations of fulfilling this if the stars did not align.

Enter my parents, who are absolute gems and who took me to see Riverdance when they were conducting their farewell tour last Sunday!

The show was everything I remembered and hoped it would be. It had a good mix of dance, song, and instrumentals, with plenty of Irish stepdancing — the main hook of the show — as well as some brilliant tap and some really lovely flamenco. The music alternated between being hauntingly beautiful and thoroughly vivacious. My favourite part remains the bit where the Irish dancers, having travelled across the Atlantic to reach the United States, meet African-American tap dancers and have a sort of dance-off that ends up becoming a trade of dance traditions.

See for yourself:


Of course, the one I saw was a little different, having different dancers — there was moonwalking! — and the music was also somewhat changed, but you get the point.

Climbing trees

I’m home this weekend to visit my brother and there’s a tree in the front yard that I’ve passed countless times in the last few years with never a thought to climb it.

Until this evening, that is, when the world is being draped in white, and the orange glow of the lamplight is shining steadily against a deeper and duskier night than the ones I know, and it’s easy to see your surroundings with new eyes.

Also, the snow is too powdery to make a snowman, so I had to think of something else to do.

And isn’t that how it is? A restless urge, when something changes, to change as well, to do something different, to be someone else, somehow, for a while. To forge ahead, even when you don’t know what that’s going to look like, or even how you’re going to do ‘different’.

So you latch onto one of the ideas that you already have, one that’s been floating around in the back of your mind and perhaps doesn’t appear significant, or reasonable, or the answer to everything, but you take it up and run with it because really, that’s all you’ve got to go on right now.

And not having many ideas for what I can do when the world is snowing except make snow angels (check), snowmen (uncheckable) and have snowball fights (attempted check), I looked about me and realised there was a tree with no leaves in winter (very good) and very low branches (very good) that would make it possible to climb it.

If I wanted to.

I’ve never climbed a tree before. I have it on my list of things to do (Plus More), but I’ve been nervous about this prospect for a while. I tried, unsuccessfully, to climb a tree in our Hong Kong garden at the height of Christmas heat two years back, but my trainers just kept slipping and slipping on the bark. And then another year I acquired pinkeye, possibly from tree-hugging, which made me apprehensive about rubbing my face against bark again any time soon. There’s an apple tree in the backyard that I’ve been eyeing for a long time and sussing for its potential as a tree to climb, but I put it off. Not now, it’s summer. Not now, I’m busy with school. Not now, it’s just not now.

But it’s snowing and I couldn’t make a snowman and I wanted to climb this tree in the front yard instead.

So I clambered up to the first branching out at the trunk. I stood, perfectly still, realising, I’m on a tree! And stepped up to the next branch, and the next.

Leaning against snow-covered branches, I looked around me and delighted in my perch. The world was a little different from where I sat, but not by much.

It was almost disappointing.

But even though it wasn’t as exhilarating or life-changing as I’d hoped, I was sitting where I’d never imagined I’d sit, and that was something. I’d done something I secretly thought was never going to happen for me, and even though this wasn’t what I expected — it is a very low tree — sometimes, it really is that easy.

To my friends who don’t know what the future holds and are afraid: None of us know what the future holds, even when we make plans and think we do. Making the right choice isn’t about making a single decision that will result in a perfect outcome, but in making the best decision that you can at this moment in time, with what little that you know now. If you should learn more and think you need to change, then that will be the best decision you can make then. It’s a process, not a one-shot conclusion. Sometimes you’ve just got to pick something and run with it; it probably won’t end up the way you imagine it will, but you’ll get something out of it anyway. Promise.

Lastly, to my friend whose boyfriend made her read my blog while dining at The Keg: This post really isn’t related to any of the things we’ve been discussing together lately, but I hope you enjoyed some of the other things around here I’ve been pointing out, like the playable Angry Birds cake.

Also, this is one of my favourite pictures:

Rawr! It means 'I Love You' in Dinosaur!


(And to her boyfriend — thanks!)

61. Go skiing

Sun Peaks ski slopes

Sun Peaks

Standing on the edge of the ski slope, I wondered how on earth I’d forgotten that I have a fear of heights. Maybe because I hardly ever put myself in situations which activate that particular tremor?

Welcome to Sun Peaks, site of my first skiing experience last Saturday. Living in Vancouver is a funny thing, because we don’t get winters like the rest of Canada, and it was also the first time I’d seen so much snow. Looking back, I wish I’d made snow angels, but my mind was on something entirely different that day.

Next to me, a child slid gracefully down the kiddy slope, her arms relaxed by her sides, her hands empty of the poles I was clutching onto, as if skiing came as easily to her as breathing.

Take a deep breath, I told myself. Just go.

I went — too far left. Woah, that’s a steep drop coming right ahead of me and OH MY GOD FALL FALL FALL BEFORE YOU SHOOT OFF IT!

It’s a good thing that I am all for falling to my side in order to stop, if I can’t stop myself properly in time. Which was almost always.

Nope, I was not taking that T-bar up the actual bunny hill any time soon. I was going to stick to the kiddy slope for as long as I wanted — which was pretty much the whole day, but I got brave enough to do the whole run by the end of the day. I’m pleased about that, even if I did have to fall a couple more times on the way down.

But hey, I learned how to put my skis on and off, and how to slow down and actually stop (sometimes). It’s all about the baby steps.

And I got to tick another item off my Day Zero list as well.