The organised chaos

I am….

Especially for Topo, whose strength and courage I seek to emulate constantly, who inspires those around her.

I am that baby born to complete the family.

I am the child whose complete family was broken irrevocably at the age of six.

I am the child who said her first prayer in the back of your car while you rushed us to the hospital.

I am the daughter who laughed and played at your funeral, only realising on the last day what death really meant: that you were never coming back again to let me lie on your belly while we watch TV together, to cook fried rice for us, to let me hang onto your arm swinging like a monkey while we crossed the road.

I am the student whom you almost drove to suicide, you who abused your powers as a teacher with your daily verbal taunts and emotional attacks, just because I was a fatherless child.

I am the imp who pooped in her uniform, lying to all and sundry that she had sat on dung while lying on the grass in the school field.

I am the daughter who never saw you at prize-giving ceremonies every year as she went on stage to collect her prize while other parents were busy taking photos of their children.

I am the daughter who is grateful for the free rein you had over her life, for allowing her to choose her own paths, for shaping her independence and resilience.

I am the sister who looks like you, sounds like you, thinks like you, and used to wear your hand-me-downs.

I am the sister who fought you, despised you, hated you.

I am the sister who never stopped loving you.

I am the cousin who climbed on top of letter boxes, jumped from slides and swung from monkey bars with you, just like a boy, just like you.

I am the granddaughter who, in her dream, wanted to make you a cup of tea as she always did after your sudden death.

I am the best friend who will never judge your actions, your words, your life, just like you will never judge mine.

I am the friend who gave you laughs with her silly boo-boos, from falling flat at your feet on the day of our exams to walking around the school with a trail of toilet paper stuck on her pants.

I am the girlfriend whose dreams of having a tall, dark and handsome boyfriend vanished when she met you, and then realising that it didn’t really matter.

I am the girlfriend who found you sexy driving the black manual Honda Civic SIR.

I am the girlfriend who accidentally flushed the first ring you gave her down the toilet bowl because she had been playing with it, and not because it flew out of her finger as she had reported.

I am the girlfriend who watched you sink into murky depths of isolation, self-abasement and desolation but did not have the strength to pull you out and still keep herself from tumbling in after you.

I am the ex-girlfriend who vowed to hate you when you flew off to the other end of the world into the arms of another, but realising that hate can seep into the very pore of her skin, flash in her eyes wherever she looked, be inhaled and exhaled in her every breath and then she vowed never to let that happen.

I am the woman who decided that she did not need to live for or with another in order to be happy.

I am the woman who finally understood that to truly love one is to forgive one’s mistakes with no recrimination, no baggage, no doubt.

I am the woman who now waits for you to be the driven man that she had fallen in love with once more, whose talents had amazed her then, and still amaze her now.

I am that woman, that girl, that child.
I am me.

Health Goddess

Ouch, says the foot

I popped over to the gym today after work, determined to pound some treadmill and chalk up some distance. While I managed to push myself to run/walk for 40 minutes, beyond my usual comfort zone of 30 minutes, I could only manage 5.5km, 0.5km short of my targeted 6km.

A pity, really, because I had been in fine form during the run. I had no real pain in my side and I forced myself to breathe regularly through the nose rather than just gasping for air. The music roaring in my ears, via my iPod, was making the run on the treadmill more enjoyable than usual.

But curses, my right foot started hurting and I was practically running in pain before I decided to stop playing hero and walked for the remaining period. I had aggravated the injury, picked up a week ago while running, by pushing my speed from 9.2km/h to 9.6km/h.

Robert, the PT, told me I had better lay off running for a while so as to let the injury heal. Since it had not recovered fully in a week, I suppose I had better rule out any high-impact exercise for the next two weeks. His advice was for me to replace running with swimming, the elliptical machine or the stationary bike.

Urghs.

This totally sucks.
I was so looking forward to my weekly run, building up for the eventual 10km that I would have to pound for the Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon. I had to limp back to the office to dump my gym gear while sipping my milo and feeling very sorry for myself.

The only good news is that I had weighed myself after the run and downing many paper cups of water, and it was exactly 40kg. I had put on weight! The five-meals-a-day routine is starting to work.

Here’s how:
8.30am – finish breakfast of bread and tea, and bugger off to work
10.30am – half a cup of cereal in milk or a muesli bar (plus an occasional banana)
1.00pm – lunch
4.00pm – half a cup of cereal in milk or a muesli bar and tea
9.00pm – dinner

[Let’s play tag! , , ]

The organised chaos

Music 4 Mondays (9): The one about you and me

So there we were, sitting across each other at a hawker centre on a Friday night, with a bowl of bak chor tang hoon between us on the table. Not quite the romantic date anybody else would have in mind, but something just right for us.

“You know,” I said in between bites of noodles, “Why is it that you never say things like ‘oh darling you are so gorgeous and I am so madly in love with you’?”

He paused in the act of sipping up his drink, turned slightly red and grinned. No answer forthcoming, though.

“Hello? So why don’t you say stuff like that? Huh?” I demanded, waving my chopsticks belligerently at him.

He turned redder still, and his grin got wider. Finally, he managed to muster a reply: “It’s all in the heart. You know it’s all in the things that I do.”

“Uh-huh,” I rolled my eyes, “Sometimes it’s just nice to hear things like that.”

He could only grin, like a cheshire cat, in return.

****************************

He was poking vigorously at my tummy, in retaliation for the abuse I heap upon his tummy almost every time we meet. Suddenly, he stopped, looked up and said, “Are these your abs?”

I stared at him, puzzled. “Err, what do you mean?”

“These,” he said, stabbing at my midsection. “These are your abs. I can feel a line and a distinct difference.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed. It’s probably from all the crunches I do during the conditioning section of my combat classes.”

“Little abs,” he smiled. “These are your little abs.”

****************************

We sat in the car in comfortable silence. He was driving me home and it was late at night. I dozed off without realising it.

Suddenly, I could feel his fingers stroking my cheek gently, willing me to wake up. I opened my eyes in confusion.

“You were biting your lip as you slept,” he explained. “I don’t want you to bite yourself in the event that you wake up with a jerk.”

****************************

We were sitting close together, his arm around me and my head fitting perfectly in the little crook between his head and shoulders. I was doing what I loved to do, that is, asking him inane questions about life, love and the universe in general. He was doing what he always did, that is, indulging me with his answers.

“So, if I didn’t change you as a person during these past six years, what am I doing in your life then?” I asked, biting my finger.

“Well, you changed my life. Now, I have something, someone to look forward to,” he replied.

“But that could be anyone, not necessarily me,” I pouted.

“But it’s you, not anyone else,” he pointed out.

****************************

We may not say the sweetest of words to each other.
But this is how we are, who we are.

This is You and Me.

You and Me Song by The Wannadies (AAC)
All the Small Things by Blink 182 (AAC)
Love is Strange by Mickey and Sylvia (AAC)

[Let’s play tag! ]

Silly things

Quotable quotes

As a journalist, one of the best things to happen is when subjects, be it interviewees or speakers, shed all their PR inhibitions and let loose their lips. They either take (un)intelligent potshots at anything and everything, or say the darnest things that make you go, did he just say that?

Here are some of the best that I have read this week.

“Maybe on Friday they get their 30th virus of the week on their PC and they decide to go check out a Mac.” –Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the Apple Expo in Paris, on how iPod users might be tempted to switch

“Music companies make more money when they sell a song on iTunes than when they sell a CD. If they want to raise prices, it’s because they’re greedy. If the price goes up, people turn back to piracy – and everybody loses.” –Steve Jobs waxes lyrical about music companies

“We want to go after Salesforce.com as much as we can. I’m an investor in Salesforce, and I want to see my investment go to zero.” — Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on his company’s competition with rival Salesforce.com

“When Microsoft put up a database to track customer credit-card numbers, it took 45 minutes to be broken into. I’m not here to make fun of Microsoft. Well, not a lot.” — Oracle CEO Larry Ellison on the security efforts of his rivals

“There are some zealots that think there should be no software jobs, that we should all, like, cut hair during the day and write code at night.” –Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on the debate of Microsoft vs. Google

“This is the $8- to $10-billion of research and development we’ve done over the last five years starting to bear fruit. Any one of these activities, I believe, could be our iPod moment.” –Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy holding out for an iPod moment in his company’s products

“It’s the first time we’re using a word-of-mouth campaign to drive interest, instead of a traditional ad campaign.” –a spokesperson for Dell, on the lack of an advertising campaign for its iPod shuffle wannabe, the Dell DJ Ditty. For a contrast, take a read at John Gruber‘s take on how proud Dell is of this product.

Little Miss Shopaholic

Shopping is good for health!

!(imgleft)http://static.flickr.com/29/49018638_f5cf3a2a81_s.jpg!

Little Miss Shopaholic says, “Shopping is therapeutic!”

First, there is the delighted pleasure, such that you can’t help but showcase your buys to the rest of the world. For example: “I have just ordered my iPod nano!!” The intended effects that these words are meant to evoke in your listener are pleasant disbelief (“What? Really? Wow!”) and some slight envy.

Then, there is the stress reliever. When work, relationships or just plain ‘ol life seems to be getting you down, a funky pair of white and green polka dot wedge heels can do wonders to your mood. And that skirt that fits you so well and costs you so little can bring a little hop to your steps as you walk and a bright grin for strangers. And the thrill of unwrapping the packages of goodies that you bought online can banish any black clouds to the deepest of hell.

This brings me to the next wonderful effect of shopping: it enhances your relationship with the significant other. When he offers to carry your bags while you flip through the racks of clothes, you feel loved. When he tells you how pretty you look when you are trying on stuff, you feel loved. When he massages your tired feet and aching back after a long day, you feel loved. When he picks out stylish clothes for you to try, you feel loved. When he fights the crowd of people in a sale with nary a grumble, you feel loved. LMS thinks that Romancing Singapore should organise a shopping expedition.

Shopping can also turn you into a meticulous person. Let’s take grocery shopping, for instance. While at the supermarket, you walk down aisles and aisles of food, toiletries and other necessities. You then pick out a box of yummy cereal that’s on sale, figuring that you can bring it to work for the second breakfasts that you plan on taking, and a pack of biscuits that seem to be high on carbohydrate content. Just the right foods to help you gain weight. And then, there is that carton of Meiji chocolate milk that you need to boost your calcium intake. And that pack of Cheezels is for….supper.

The point is, you compartmentalise your life when you go shop for things and you become a tidier person. And you become wiser too, when you find out that Watson’s is charging you $2 more for that pack of tampons than other shops.

Buying things can make you a better person too. For example, the purchase of a new pair of gym pants or that new pair of anti-fog, anti-UV goggles will spur you on to go to the gym to work out and swim more often. And tah dah! A healthier (hence, better) person. A new pair of shoes will allow you to work your brain juices thinking of creative ways to wear and re-wear them, which means that you become innovative (and hence, better).

LMS believes wholeheartedly that what with all the positive effects of shopping on the individual, shopping is truly an underrated form of hobby. Amen.

The organised chaos

Music for Mondays (10): the one about faith

It’s the 15th day of the eighth lunar month today, also a day known as the Mid-Autumn Festival. As I sit here typing, my little orange lantern is burning brightly and bravely in the darkness, the sole survivor of a lantern expedition gone wrong, which saw two of its kin being burnt to gory deaths due to impatience on my part.

It looks lonely.
It is, and yet isn’t.

It just so happens that today is also the wedding day of my cousin. While I am not particularly enamoured or fond of this branch of the family, I am rather glad to see him happily wed to a beautiful and loving woman. To know that they have triumphed in the face of obstacles, ranging from different family backgrounds to parental objections, is rather inspiring.

Of course, family being family, nobody could give up the chance to quiz me on where exactly I am on the path to wedded bliss. While I am skilled at the art of dodging, the barrage of questions, together with seeing the relaxed and happy faces of my cousin and his new wife, still managed to to me.

Where exactly am I on this race of life?

Doubt is like a torrent of rain, pouring down on you anywhere that you run to. It wets you, soaks you to your bone and it chills you right to the core. But eventually, it will stop and then you can get your wet clothes off in favour of your favourite ratty old teeshirt which brings you so much comfort and familiarity. And then the world stops being grey and the sun will start shining again.

Perhaps it just so happens that the rain seems neverending now. But it will stop one day, and the finish line will seem nearer than ever.

I wish it would stop.
I wish I could look up to the sky and see what the stars have in mind for me, see the path that they are illuminating for me, rather than the murky depths that cannot be penetrated by my naked eye.

The lantern has gone out.

Everything in its own time.
The answer will come.

The organised chaos

Numbers nightmare

Words, words words,
I’m so sick of words.
I get words all day through
First from him, now from you.
Is that all you blighters can do?
–Eliza Doolittle lamenting in “Show Me”

Back when I was in SCGS choir (it’s da school man, it’s even got its own wiki), we used to put up musicals for our concerts. During my last year there, we put up a mini version of My Fair Lady and together with three fellow singers, I put my heart and soul into playing the part of a chambermaid (haha!). We were known fondly as the san ba maids. It was a most enjoyable performance. Let me see if I can dig up an old pic somewhere.

Anyway, the songs have more or less been ingrained in my mind, almost 10 years since I left my alma mater (yes, I am that old). That particular song, sung by Eliza when she was frustrated with all the phonetics lessons she was getting, just popped into my brains this morning.

I think it has something to do with the project that I am handling now. The way I stare into the depths of Excel spreadsheets and punch numbers into the calculator, you would think that I am a full-fledged accountant. Given that I have absolutely no affinity for numbers (except probably money) and flunked my way through junior college, you can see why numbers are a nightmare for me.

Numbers, numbers, numbers
I’m so sick of numbers!!!

Arts & Entertainment

Hey Nostradamus!

!(imgcenter)http://static.flickr.com/33/43275103_0bd4c44450_o.jpg!
I have just finished reading Douglas Coupland‘s novel and somehow, the feeling is one of unsettlement.

The story tells of the victims, direct or indirect, of a high school massacre a la the Columbine shooting. It’s neatly segmented into four narratives: Cheryl, the 17-year-old school-going Christian girl; Jason, the husband she had secretly wed in Las Vegas; Heather, the woman who falls in love with the disenchanted Jason years after the shooting; and Reg, Jason’s estranged father.

The centrifugal force of the novel is Jason, whose emotional state of mind is like a ripple on a still pond that upsets the tranquility of the surface of the water. His grief and anger over the incident, as well as subsequent events, are like emotional baggages that he never shook off, not even when he is in a relationship with Heather.

There is something realistic about Coupland’s first person perspective of the characters – they do present to us as four different voices at different stages of maturity in their lives. Cheryl is like Cassie Bernall and her simple and pragmatic way of looking at her life, and recounting the details of the shooting while being in limbo is touching and yet honest. Her frank opinion of herself as nondescript, her lack of intimacy with her family, her pure love for Jason, her uncertain and yet stoic belief in God – they tell the story of someone who is halfway between being a child and an adult.

As for Jason, his disengagement with life after the massacre is a tapestry of many seemingly contrasting things: endearing yet cold, poignant yet harsh. His revelation that he has never really gotten over Cheryl, and his obvious deep love for his dog, Joyce, stings and warms your heart. Along the way, Coupland throws in a couple of surprises in Jason’s life that stuns you for a moment and keeps you flipping the pages, dying for more answers.

The story of Heather may seem a little misfit here as she was never part of the massacre. But her narrative reveals to us how, through her, Jason finally finds someone that he can connect with, although never fully trust. She is also the unlikely link to the next narrator, Reg.

Reg is perhaps the character that has the most changes wrought in that slender tome. He gradually shifts from a cruelly cold and religious man to someone who once loved and was loved, and finally, a broken man seeking the affection and understanding from his son. He seeks solace in felllow misfit, Heather, and builds up an strangely strong and discomfitting friendship with her.

The book doesn’t seek to justify the violence, nor is it concerned about the killers. It seeks, rather, to expose the emotional depths of its victims and its introspective take is hauntingly compelling to read. The denouement of Hey Nostradamus is not one of resolution but rather, a question to another question, which makes you sit and ponder about what you had just read.

All in all, one of the best contemporary books that I have read recently.

Friends, Geek Girl

Nano-lust and NATAS

!(imgleft)http://static.flickr.com/31/49020333_10ee99ed0d_s.jpg!
Decisions, decisions.
I’m terrible at them.
I’d think, and hemmed and hawed about the possibilities, the alternatives for ages. And then, I’d seek advice from the people around me on their opinions, which is not necessarily be a good thing. Even when I have made a decision, I am still shrouded in uncertainty, wondering if it’s the best choice for me now and some time down the road.

Based on that scenario, I would have to say that this was definitely one of the better weekends I have had for a long time.

First of all, I have booked my flight for Siem Reap! After all the dithering and whining, the plans have finally been stamped, signed and approved. All that jostling at the blood-sucking NATAS travel fair was worth it, since we managed to unearth a good deal at S$430, inclusive of taxes and two nights’ accommodation.

When I say “we”, I meant my new-found favourite travel partner, EFB, as well as Trevor and X. Add a Nellie.C to the mix and we are all set to go to Cambodia!

Of course, when EFB says “Cambodia here I come!”, he really meant “Happy herb pizza here I come!!”. I’m tickled by his exuberance and enthusiasm.

Do I feel odd being the only girl in the group? Not really, given that I had grown up falling out of trees with male cousins. Plus, being a girl means I can whine and make them carry stuff for me, and I am going to demand the best bed for myself. Hur hur. I’d just have to suppress the intense urge to smother EFB with my pillows should he snore too loudly. Besides, I have these (stolen from the media lounge in Interop when I was at Las Vegas):

!(imgcenter)http://static.flickr.com/28/42337224_6e73dd2cff_o.jpg(Sweet Dreams Herb Tea)!

I’ve got herbs of my own too

After all that physical exertion at NATAS, the EFB and I met the Boyfriend for dinner (mine obviously, not his). It was delicious prawn and pork rib noodles at Food Museum. Though way overpriced at $5 (I can get it for, like, a buck cheaper at my favourite Amoy Street), it was a gastronomic delight. And then, we headed down to Applecentre@Orchard where we managed to lay our hands on the exalted iPod nano (with “n” in lower caps, thank you).

If I weren’t already in lust, I am now. For this thing, this tiny creature of such impossible beauty and style has won me over. I had resisted the urge to upgrade my trusty, fat iPod for more than two years but now, the dam has been breeched.

I shall be a nano owner by the end of the week.
But don’t worry, I will brag and boast about it when the time comes. Toodles!

[Let’s play tag! , , , , ]