Everything Else, The organised chaos

Forget it

Taking your partner for granted is often one of the sins that people in relationships commit. You assume that your partner naturally accepts all of you, good and bad, such that you end up not bothering about each other’s needs. You do not bother to change your bad habits, the very flaws that drive your partner to tears, because you think, when we first started going out together, I was already like that so you have no case to complain. And the worst thing that happens is that when said partner, who was driven to tears by the things that you do, end up leaving, you still do not learn from your mistakes and change.

You did not listen when she said that she felt like she was performing a monologue when she talked to you. You thought that she was complaining about nothing, making a mountain out of a molehill. You told her off, saying that this was who you were, without putting yourself in her position. You thought, she doesn’t understand me.

And then now, through someone else, you come to realise that you are a bad conversationalist. And you thank this person for helping you realise this truth.

And hence, unknowingly, you break someone else all over again.


I want to be Dorian Grey

After a weekend of chalet, the thought of going back to school on Monday (for a 9.30am class, no less) sounds dreary. And since I haven’t slept well for the past two nights, Monday sounds doubly dreadful.

This weekend flew by so fast, especially today. I think when I grow old, the thing that I would miss most is being young. Today has been so fun, so reminiscent of youth. Even though we were all exhausted, we went ghost-hunting (AKA looking for trouble), drove around aimlessly trying to decide on where to go, decided to go look for trouble again and then rounded up a very eventful day at Starbucks. As Jane said, the last time we did nothing like that was eons ago. We were all so bogged down by life and work that unconsciously, we stopped doing what we used to do.

Even though I didn’t contribute much in a sense, it felt really good to just go with the flow and do things which had no logic, which seems nonsensical, which adults would frown upon. Going to explore the old Changi hospital and cruising around in car with no sense of purpose is not exactly the most practical thing to do.

I may not say this often enough but I really do enjoy the company of my zany friends. It’s pretty funny to sit in the car and hear some weirdos name Skunk and Wayne wail to the songs blasting from the stereo, to hear Jane giggling hysterically for no rhyme and reason, to listen to Bralala sing the lyrics wrongly (not today though), to just bounce on our bottoms and sing loudly to the songs.

And then as we were at Starbucks, we came up with weird names that our kids (if we ever get married and have any) would hate us eternally for. Some of the options include:

Kong Ghim Li
Orc Tan
Tan Ah Wen
Aragorn Kong (sounds like Aragorn gone wrong)
Mango Tan
Tan U 2
Very/Super/Supra Long (guess who came up with this lamer)

But anyway, instead of focusing on how crappy my Monday is going to be (with two back-to-back tuition sessions), I shall have my warm memories to bring me through the day. We are still so young, we have long roads to go. Hopefully, when we are all old and weary, we will still retain this sense to youthful enthusiasm and optimism, instead of being cynical and sour.

The organised chaos

Let’s go vegan!

Mad cow disease in the US of A.
Bird flu in Vietnam, Japan and South Korea.
Coronavirus-carrying civet cats in Guangzhou.
Fowl cholera in Thailand.
Carcinogenic salmon from the UK.

Going by current trends, the meat on our tables will soon end up in the slaughterhouses for all the wrong reasons.

And as Marshall McLuhan (he of “the message is the medium” fame) says, “the world is a global village”. How true. Diseases are spread throughout the world with an ease that had never been seen before. One man carrying the SARS virus could hop onto a plane and infect others at an astonishing rate. And as our kids get smarter, so do viruses. They mutate and change in strains in response to new bodies and even environments.

This is the whole new world.

Arts & Entertainment

The end of a Sex chapter

After reading through the following article in yesterday’s Straits Times, I have decided that reporter Ong Soh Chin is a woman after my own heart.

JAN 10, 2004
Goodbye to good Sex
By Ong Soh Chin

UNLIKE most of the world, I have no time for reality TV.

Maybe I’m missing a gene or something, but shows like Survivor, Temptation Island and The Bachelor would appall me with their venality if they didn’t bore me to tears first.

But I do not begrudge the fact that other people enjoy watching them. I also understand that I am painfully in the minority, if the shows’ ratings are any indication. And I’m certainly not here to ask that they be banned.

But I do want to know why many of these tawdry programmes have pride of place on Singapore TV when a programme like HBO’s Sex And The City is still nowhere to be found.

While the recent Censorship Review Committee has lifted the ban on it, there is still no word as to when the series will actually be shown here, and whether it will start from Season One or the current Season Six.

Life! understands that HBO is currently waiting for the Media Development Authority to get back to it with screening guidelines for the series.

Fans know that Season Six, which is ongoing now in the United States, is the last one. The final episode is expected to air on Feb 22.

So, ironically, by the time we finally get to have Sex here – if we ever do – the moment would probably have long passed, the lifting of the ban rendered meaningless and the victory hopelessly pyrrhic.

Those of us who wanted it bad would have found ways of getting it over the last six years of its existence.

After all, we may not be able to have Sex here, but we can in nearby countries like Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Thailand where the series is shown on HBO, albeit censored.

And you can be sure that we will be watching the final episode, all misty-eyed, smoking our post-coital cigarettes in a dark place off the beaten track; while those who never cared for Sex will still remain shiny happy virgins, beaming under the bright lights of this city.

But after all the sturm und drang, after all the reams of editorials that have been written here about the series – quite a lot considering it’s not even shown here – one question remains largely unanswered.

What is so awful about Sex And The City, really?

Nobody in it takes drugs, kills people or beats up small children.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say its ban was an entirely misogynistic decision. Its four lead characters are attractive single women, all gainfully employed, who meet and date many men.

Their biggest crimes? Being picky about the men they date (Carrie), realising that happiness does not necessarily come with a wedding ring (Charlotte), being a single mother (Miranda) and enjoying guilt-free sex like a man (Samantha).

The series also boasts some of the best TV writing in recent years – honest, sexy, witty and insightful. It makes you laugh but also think, which is more than can be said for some of the duds on TV which make you do neither.

The four women all try to do the right thing and they are always there for each other. That’s much more than can be said for a lot of the people on Survivor.

I sometimes wonder, if Sex And The City had been a comedy series about four single men who date and have sex with women, would there have been an issue?

Maybe not. Maybe not even if it was about four married men who date and have sex with women.

As Sex And The City approaches its inevitable conclusion, I am left feeling the same way I do when saying goodbye to old friends at the airport, or when a relationship ends amicably.

There is a sadness, born of the realisation that all good things must come to an end, but tinged with the knowledge that one will always have fond memories.

As with the best relationships and friendships, one also becomes better and wiser as a result.

For me and the many others who love it, Sex And The City has been groundbreaking in many ways. While some grinches – women included – may decry its heroines as shallow girlies who are concerned only with shopping and finding the perfect man, I think otherwise.

For me, the series is important because it blows the traditional female stereotypes out of the water – stereotypes which have long depicted single women as neurotic old maids, whores or nuns.

At the same time, it also allows that single women can be funny, silly, buy lots of shoes and make mistakes when it comes to relationships. In other words, it shows that single women are not perfect. Just single.

But the biggest lesson I have learnt has been gleaned, not from the series, but from Singapore’s banning of it.

While Sex And The City’s worldwide popularity has been nothing short of a phenomenon, the powers-that-be in this town, which wants to be a Renaissance City and an information hub, have remained coldly resistant, until its bittersweet end.

If our TV programming is any indication, these are the messages we may be sending out to our young minds:a) Real single women (not spies, witches or vampire slayers) are personae non grata b) Unless they end up married or want to be married.c) But watching real people at their worst – cheating, lying and backstabbing just to win a contest/husband/millionaire/hot babe – is okay.

Is it any wonder these days that I don’t watch TV? There’s too much reality, not enough creativity, too much that is mundane, not enough that is aspirational.

As far as local programming goes, I am invisible. As far as local morals go, single women can’t have Sex.< I don't know about you, but I think it's time we all learned to think outside the (goggle) box.

The organised chaos

The Day I was Born

I remember this really depressing line from the (excellent) movie, Igby Goes Down. When Susan Sarandon, mother to aforementioned Igby was talking to his elder brother about the troubled Igby, she said, “His creation was an act of animosity, why shouldn’t his life be that way?” Perhaps it’s pessimistic but sometimes, I feel as if my life is like that. Not that my creation was an act of animosity (God forbid) but that somehow, my life will never be the contented, snug and warm kind.

It doesn’t mean that I am depressed or unhappy. I am neither. But it’s just as a dear friend told me, I never seem to be satisfied. In a way, it’s true to the way I see life. I am always questioning why, wondering if that’s all there is to life. I have an unquenchable thirst to know if I can break out of the mundane box that I am trapped in and yet nothing much in life can drive me on to greater things.

A certain cliche goes that the only constant thing in life is change and yes, indeed, I have changed. But this new me fits like an uncomfortable skin, I do not really like it but I have more or less accepted that I have changed. I can live with it.

One of my friends is organising a birthday dinner for me later. While it would have thrilled me to see that they care enough to want to celebrate it with me, I no longer feel that way. I am touched that she is sweet enough to want me to have a happy birthday as a single but I was really not expecting anyone to bother (and I think no one else would have but her). The excitement and expectation has died a natural death in my heart, along with many other things.

I used to love birthdays because to me, they mark the day that I was born. It’s a very me thing, admittedly and I feel that it’s something special. I used to cry alone because my mother and sister would never remember that it’s my birthday or even if they did, they would say that it’s no big deal. It always hurt when people don’t feel the same way towards birthdays as I did and hence, treated my birthday as they would theirs (meaning, do nothing).

Now that I am older and more weary, I have learnt that the lesser you care or bother, the better you are. While I might have wanted someone’s birthday to be special, that person might not reciprocate in kind and I end up disappointed. So, why bother? Keeping yourself happy is better than trying to make others who don’t really care about you happy.

As Radiohead sings in Let Down,

Transport, motorways and tramlines
Starting and then stopping
Taking off and landing
The emptiest of feelings
Disappointed people clinging on to bottles
And when it comes it’s so so disappointing

Let down and hanging around
Crushed like a bug in the ground
Let down and hanging around

The organised chaos

Forgiving is easy, forgetting is not

I have come to realise that I am good at saying that I have forgiven but in truth, when the hurt has been inflicted, I may never forgive totally.

For one, I don’t think I can ever forgive a friend and his partner 100% for insinuating that I am an unstable person. My friendship with him is still as it was before the allegations came tumbling out but sometimes, I find myself thinking bitterly about what he said.

And in a way, it was also one reason why I never spoke to my ex-boyfriend for a few years after we broke up. His actions and words hurt me and I could never look at him without the flood of memories roaring in my brain. It became easier to just ignore him because he had meant a lot to me and yet had pained me.

But time heals all wounds and I am glad to say that while it can get awkward sometimes, we have talked on those few times we met. He is a special guy, all warm and funny (which was why I liked him) and I do wish him well.

So I guess forgetting is the hardest part of my life and time the most important factor. Hopefully, as I grow older, I will learn to let go more easily.

Arts & Entertainment

Get rrrrrocking, baby!

Today is only the 9th day (well, technically 10th) day of January but I sure hope that the rest of the year will showcase movies as great as the one that I caught today. No, it isn’t Return of the King (on a side note, do you know that when you visit the official LOTR website, there will be a voiceover from one of the actors chosen at random, welcoming you to the site? I once clicked it almost 40 times before I got one from Viggo Mortensen) although it is definitely my FAVOURITE show of all time (I only watched it twice).

Surprise, it’s Jack Black’s School Of Rock! Yes, I went into the cinema with no expectations whatsoever and came out of the darkened theatre with lots of giggles and fun. It was inspirational, humorous without being farcical and 100% feel good.

I loved how smart-alecky Summer was (especially when she was identifying herself to some hardcore rockers as the manager of the band), how Freddy tried to appear as a real rockstar with his spiky hair, how prima donna stylist Billy was, how neurotically principal Ros (played to hilarious effect by Joan Cusak) uptight was, how cool Katie the bassist was (even though her role was under-developed) and how zany Jack Black as the fraudulent teacher was.

All in all, four out of five stars for this one!

Geek Girl

iPod mini is hot

The newly unveiled iPod mini is so cool, I am seriously tempted to get one. But it’s only reaching me in April! *wails*
It’s small, cute, functional and looks so so gorgeous that I can hear cash registers ringing away already. Damnit. I take back what I said about not wanting anything for my birthday, give me one of these 4GB iPod minis anytime!!

Launched at the MacWorld San Francisco, it’s not the only thing that wowed me (or rather, that caught my attention from what I was doing). A new music software got me quite intrigued and that is the GarageBand. It’s wonderful, it’s like making the normal yous-and-Is out there the biggest musician of your room. Getting hotshot singer John Mayer to help demonstrate it was a smart move by Apple (well, he was one reason why I actually paid attention to the demo).

Time to sleep. Still need to get up early to go to work and serve annoying customers. And get bullied into doing more work.

Little Miss Shopaholic

Not enough shoes!!

I am most definitely a shoe whore.
Recently, I acquired two more pairs of shoes, courtesy of two loving and generous god sisters.
That brings my tally to nine pairs of shoes in six months, starting from June to December 2003.
And that’s not enough. I am still on the lookout for more, in particular peeptoe heels that ooze sexy glamour in subtle tones. I am dying for a pair of elegant red heels, to match my predominent purple-and-red wardrobe and to dress up simple outfits. I want a pair of ballerina pumps with patent pink bows for that obnoxiously retro look. I glance lovingly at a pair of x:odus rubber thong heels, trying to decide if purple or white is my thing (Carrie Bradshaw donned a pair of white ones so I’m swaying that way).

In short, I can never have enough pairs of shoes.

But I feel vindicated after reading through Playing Footsie in today’s The Sunday Times. I feel positively normal next to the interviewees.

One throws out her relations’ shoes to make room for hers (I haven’t reached that stage yet, I just squash all my mum’s shoes into one drawer of our shoe wardrobe which has six drawers). Model-actress Lum May Yee has a pair of $1,000 Christian Dior boots which she has worn only twice and which she feels happy merely looking at (My leather boots are almost ten times cheaper than hers and I have worn them at most five times). And yet another scours the internet in search of more great finds (I don’t do that, or rather, I can’t cos my shoe size is considered abnormal for an adult bah).

See? In the face of such women, how could I but pale in comparison with them?