Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


How far can you stretch a friendship before it breaks? For it takes little to cross the line between love, and hate. How much can you ask from a friend before he stops giving? For it takes a lot to be forgetting, and forgiving. How long can I be a victim before you stop playing hero? For I am tired of myself, you must be tired of me too.

So my friend, I harbour no illusions.

I am only a figment of my own imagination.


As the year draws to a close, I wonder if I look forward to 2009. While people around are busy preparing for the countdown, making new year resolutions, I sit here pondering.

To wait.

In anticipation of something, anything.

Monday, December 29, 2008

heAR fRom Me

She told me she is happy to hear from me. I am glad she is happy to hear from me. I find it difficult to believe that people are happy to hear from me. Because sometimes I am not sure I am happy to hear from me.

The joy of imperfection.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


Sometimes, gratitude is not enough.

Friday, December 26, 2008

wHen DArkNesS FalLs

When darkness falls, it falls fast. And suddenly, you are enveloped in the inky blackness.

I haven’t felt the darkness so acutely in a long time. Yet strangely, a part of it still feels so familiar. Perhaps even comfortable. Perhaps even safe. Like returning to the neighbourhood I was growing up in when I was little. And I knew, every door along the road that I knocked on, someone would welcome me in and take care of me.

For I, I am a child of the night.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

mY FavOUriTE chRIstMAs sOnG

A ray of hope flickers in the sky
A tiny star lights up way up high
All across the land dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born.

A silent wish sails the seven seas
The winds of change whisper in the trees
And the walls of doubt crumble, tossed and torn
This comes to pass, when a child is born.

A rosy hue settles all around
You got the feel, you're on solid ground
For a spell or two no one seems forlorn
This comes to pass, when a child is born.

And all of this happens because the world is waiting
Waiting for one child
Black, white, yellow, no-one knows
But a child that will grow up and turn tears to laughter
Hate to love, war to peace and everyone to everyone's neighbour
And misery and suffering will be words to be forgotten, forever.

It's all a dream, an illusion now
It must come true, sometime soon somehow
All across the land, dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

dReaM ComE TRuE

I had a dream. I came knocking, and you opened the door and welcomed me in.

In my dream, we were sitting there, talking like old friends. We shared jokes, laughing so hard I almost cried. We ruminated on life and living, thinking with such force I almost cried. We told stories, chiseling away so much of my self I almost cried.

And dreamily I wonder, if you hadn’t been the one who opened the door, what would have happened.

Then I realised, it isn’t actually a dream. I did have a good time chatting with you yesterday.

Thank you.


I’m one for taking the easy way out. Sometimes when I’m tired, all I want to do is to curl up and sleep. To let the problem pass away. To let things be swept under the carpet. If ever a war was to happen in my lifetime, I reckon I would just lie there and wait to die. It’s too troublesome to try and scrape together a living. Or perhaps my instinct for survival is not well developed.

This morning, she asked me how I coped. I told her I try not to take things too seriously. I think from a distance, one can breathe easier. And it does not mean that when one is further away, the more one is dispassionate about what is going on. Sometimes you have to take a step back before you can see the way forward.

You must have the courage to pursue your happiness.

Monday, December 22, 2008

WaiTInG, hOPiNg, wONDeRinG

For many days, weeks, months, I have been waiting.
Waiting, for a miracle.
For many days, weeks, months, I have been hoping.
Hoping, for a miracle.
For many days, weeks, months, I have been wondering.
Wondering, whether miracles really happen.

I have been thinking.
Thinking, that miracles do happen.
But miracles don’t happen just because I wait for them.
Miracles don’t happen just because I hope for them.
Miracles don’t happen just because I wonder about them.

Miracles happen
When I take the initiative
To do something
To make them happen

Sunday, December 21, 2008


It is dusk, one of my favourite moments of the day. The sharp edge of day gets a little softer. Little children come back from school and the playground is filled with their laughter. The birds cry a little louder. And I ponder on the closing of another day.

In this moment between light and dark, in this moment between day and night, I decide to hang around. Not wanting to let the day go, not willing to let the dark in.

Resistance is futile, my friend.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


"A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking."

(Jerry Seinfeld)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

i WouLD liKe...

I would like to be a woman who loves and who is loved.
I would like to have little hands holding mine so I can keep them safe.
I would like to be part of a happy family.
I would like to hold my children and love them with all my heart.

“Where would my dreams take me?” I asked.

“Someday you will find your true love,” she answered.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

wHat I dO NoT HaVe

There are many things I take for granted. From little things like having broadband internet connection to major things like being alive. From having a roof over my head to being able to wake up tomorrow morning. From having my five senses to being able to think and dream.

It was never my intention not to count my blessings. Just that it is easier to blame the world for the things I don’t have. I have a cupboard bursting with clothes, but I don’t have a walk-in wardrobe. I have a bookcase bursting with books, but I don’t have a library of literary collections.

I understand the magnitude of the world, but I don’t understand my own insignificance.

TouCH mE, tOuCh Me nOt

When I was little, I used to love looking for touch-me-nots. I loved to disturb them so that the leaves would close. I was mesmerized by them. From the dandelion clock-like pink flower to the spindly leaves. Many afternoons you would find me crouched on a grass patch playing with the touch-me-nots.

Perhaps, like me, they have many secrets to hide.

Mimosa pudica from the Order of Fabales.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008


You are special. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Friday, December 12, 2008


There we sat, in companionable silence. It is hard, to find someone, who is as comfortable with silence as I am.

I have known her, for a little over 2 years now. It is interesting, how our friendship evolved, over time.

Friendships are magical. There is nothing to predict the process that turns strangers into confidantes. Neither is there a marker that dictates when a mere acquaintance becomes a soul-mate. Somehow, it happens. And just like that, we are friends.

May the magic of the flowers bring you much love, peace, and joy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

tHis, Is...

Day follows day. As night follows morning follows night. In a repetitive cycle.
Seconds chase after minutes chase after hours. In a never-ending game of catch.

This, is life?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

fALliNg DowN

The first time I was taken to hospital for treatment was when I was in New Zealand. It was while I was on a wildlife day tour during one of my early weeks there. We were trekking down some hilly farmland to reach a secluded cove where we could watch the yellow-eyed penguins come back to roost for the night. I think I slipped and instinctively reached out to grab hold onto something, which unfortunately was the barbed wire fence.

Blood spewed. I had cut my finger. But surprisingly, it didn’t hurt that much. Either I was in too much shock, or the cold was really doing its job of numbing my fingers. There was quite a lot of blood, but the first aid kit was in the tour bus which was quite a distance away, so a decision was made to continue with our trek down the hill to catch the penguins while a makeshift bandage was put together with pieces of tissue paper.

When we eventually got back to town, I was sent to the hospital, nursing an injured finger that by this time had swollen quite a bit and was beginning to smart quite a lot. The doctors injected some local anesthetic while they cleaned up the wound.

I still carry the scar today. On the ring finger of my left hand. I just think it’s very poignant, given the situation I am in now.

A scar forever etched.


We were running away. We had to run away. From who or from what I do not remember. Except that we were running away. We pretended to be foreign students wanting to learn about local culture, so we could mingle with the crowds. We sat in buses and in trains. We hid in toilets and in store-rooms. We were running away and we were running away.

We had to swim miles and miles of ocean before we could reach safety. We had to swim for days and weeks and months before we could reach safety. We had no choice but to swim to safety. That was the only way.

The ocean was a deep dark blue. The corals were beautiful. Schools of fish accompanied us. In dazzling colours they swam beside us. We made friends with dolphins and with whales. We swam in a kind of drunken stupor. Swimming day by day by day.

And then I woke up.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

uPSet tHE BaLanCe

I am often unsure of what I want. My life hence feels like a series of missed opportunities. Maybe it might be more accurate to say I am very easily swayed by what others say. So in my moments of indecisions, I follow whoever has the loudest voice.

Which has not always served me well, but it allowed me to go on. Until the other day when I discovered, I had inadvertently upset the balance.

No use crying over spilt milk. At least clean it up.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


“So what do you want?”

“I still don’t know.”

“Well, I do. I want to move on with my life.”

aN EgG

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

(C.S. Lewis)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I am allowed to make mistakes.

diFfERenT LivEs

I have always wondered about the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Sometimes not without a smidgen of envy. If I didn’t have to worry about money, would my life be any different? If I had millions of dollars to my name, would my life be any better?

I have also realized, that it’s almost impossible for me to fathom the lifestyle of the rich and famous. We exist in such different social spheres it is like our lives will never collide. I will never hang out at the places the rich and famous hang out at. I will never have a common set of friends with the rich and famous. Our thoughts, our words, our very lives, are essentially different. Divorced one from the other.

I was at the supermarket the other day and I thought about whether the rich and famous would frequent places like that. What if they suddenly wanted to eat a peanut-butter and jam sandwich? Or perhaps, only escargot and truffles feature in their diet.

It is amazing, how different lives can be.

Monday, December 1, 2008


It’s the school holidays, and I hear little children playing, screaming, laughing, in the playground. It makes me smile to hear them so happy. And I wonder, when was the last time I laughed so hard? When was the last time I felt brave enough to scream at the top of my lungs and crazy enough to double over with laughter? When was the last time I felt so free?

I have a bad habit. Of looking at the world through grey-tinted glasses. For every laugh I hear, I remember every tear shed. For every cup half-empty, is another cup half-full. For every moment I am envious of what others have, I forget to be grateful for what I have.

My happiness is hard won.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


I am not by nature an impulse-driven person. Much as I like to be spontaneous and carefree, the rational and cautious side of me wins hands-down. Most of the time anyway. Although I often wonder whether it is true that I would rather err on the side of caution, or whether I am just a scaredy-cat who doesn’t dare to venture out of her comfort zone.

Having said that, I do have my impulsive moments. Like the time when I decided I needed socks. And I bought close to 15 pairs of socks, within the day. Or the other time when I decided I wanted to read. And I bought close to 20 books – of which the majority is still lying in their shrink-wrap untouched.

My birth sign is Libra, a pair of scales. Balance, is what I seek.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Food has a very interesting role within my family. Not only is food energy-giving and life-sustaining, food also serves as our moral and philosophical compass.

We have a favourite story of the Big Cookie. Long time ago, a mother left her son in the village while she went into the city for a couple of days. When she left, she tied around her son’s neck a very big cookie that would last him the duration of her absence. But alas, when she returned a few days later, her son had died because he only ate the cookie as far as his head could reach.

We also have a favourite philosophical question, “Would you rather starve to death or binge to death?” And during mealtimes, we would often debate on this topic quite intensely. And it shows in our attitudes toward food. Whether we live to eat or eat to live.

Would I rather starve or binge? I think that depends a lot on what I’m denying myself of, or what I am indulging myself in.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pay iT FoRWarD

Often, when someone does something nice or kind to me, I wonder why. I wonder why I have been picked to receive this special favour. I wonder why the person would choose to help me instead of someone else, perhaps more deserving. And I realized, there is no rationality in acts of kindness.

I remember watching the movie “Pay It Forward”. I remember how intensely the message of the show resonated with me. I remember being so inspired I wanted to start my own version of paying it forward.

When I do something nice or kind to someone, I don’t expect there to be any returns (I think it’s pathetic if relationships became so transactional). So, the simple joy of seeing the person smile is enough. And the knowledge that you have made the world a slightly better place for someone, even if it is for a moment.

Loving, has little rhyme, and much less reason.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LonGEr thaN ALwaYs

I must have mentioned that I am not the most patient person. I may be lazy and like to procrastinate, but I am still an impatient person. So while I was waiting for the little green man at the traffic light the other day, I nearly killed myself by trying to jaywalk.

You know how they say that just before you die you will see your life flash by you in an instant? Well, that didn’t really happen. It was just a black blankness in my head. There weren’t any bright white lights, nor were there film reels of my life. There was nothing.

I suspect death is a lot like that. Just a black blankness stretching into forever. Without consciousness, there can be nothing. At least, I don’t think it is something that we can comprehend while we are awake. Except for our dreams, our sleeping hours are an unreality to our conscious minds.

Maybe dying is like falling asleep. Just longer than always.

Monday, November 24, 2008

wHat Do i KnoW?

I’ve been feeling a little wistful these days. It’s the holiday season. While people rush about to buy Christmas gifts and prepare for the New Year, I’m struggling to come to terms with the year that just passed. And it’s not only about weighing what I have done this year nor is it about writing new New Year resolutions. It’s about learning to take things in stride. It’s about learning to let go. It’s about learning that I need to learn more.

Not until quite recently did I discover that there are a lot of things I do not know. Like how the bulb lights up or how you shouldn’t climb into your bath-tub with the toaster oven switched on. I am sure I must have learnt this before during Physics class, but there is little or almost no retention of the material. The immensity of “knowledge” that is out there for me to pick up is … limitless and mind-boggling. Where do I start?

I think little children have it right. The easiest way to start is by asking, “Why?”

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a FoREveR MoMeNT

I have, for a long time, been bothered by the concept of a forever moment. For sometimes, it just so happens that you are entirely consumed by what is happening at that particular point in time. And all your focus is on that. And that moment seems to stretch into forever.

They tell me it is a matter of perspective. Imagine a big piece of white canvass with a black ink blob on it. Some people will describe the ink blob down to the minutest detail. Some others will see there is a white piece of canvass yet to be explored. The perennial problem of the glass half-empty or half-full.

A forever moment. A moment that stretches into eternity? Or eternity caught in a moment?

Friday, November 21, 2008

mY SafE HaVEn

When I was studying in New Zealand, there was a place I loved to visit. It’s a little clearing on a little hill. The path to the clearing is lined with tall pine trees on both sides. I loved to hear the crunch of dirt and fallen tree branches while walking. I loved to be able to pick up pine cones along my way. I loved to imagine that that was the path where my knight in shining armour would ride down and sweep me away into a life of eternal bliss.

I would visit the clearing very often. I liked to sit there and stare at the little town far below me. It’s a pretty place, and because there wasn’t anyone who really visited there, I adopted the clearing as my own safe haven. Some of my best pieces of poetry were written there.

It’s also a place I visit when I felt sad. A little way off the clearing lies a cemetery. Sometimes I’d take a stroll there when I was feeling down. There’s something comfortable in the quiet of the cemetery. It reminded me of the fragility of life. It also reminded me of the resilience of life.

Now, all I have are memories of that place.


I learnt a very important lesson in forgiveness today.

I’m often very torn when it comes to forgiving people. I’ve always felt that when I forgive someone, I’m doing wrong to myself. Yet if I don’t forgive that person, I feel awful. And then I realized, I have never really tried to separate the act from the person.

To me at least, I have always taken the thing that the person has done to hurt me as part of the person himself or herself. Which is why there is this feeling of betraying myself when I try to forgive someone.

But forgiveness does not mean that I condone or accept the wrong you have done to me. Forgiveness means that I am able to see you as separate from the act. Forgiveness means I can look you in the eye and still trust you.

Forgiving is really really hard.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

bEinG WhOLe

I like to sit alone and think. I let my mind wander. Sometimes, it could be a familiar refrain from a song I like. Sometimes, it could be words that I read from a book. Sometimes, it could be stuff that friends write to me in emails. And suddenly, my mind takes on a life of its own.

I love the plasticity of my mind. That it is able to think, to rationalize, to dream. But, too much of something good may not be that good after all. Just like my mind, and how it argues itself into corners it can’t get out of.

I’ve been thinking about Humpty Dumpty, and how he could not be put together again. Humpty Dumpty fell, and he could not be whole again. I fell, I broke, and I can’t decide if I am still whole.

“You can’t appreciate wholeness until you see it from the perspective of God,” she said.

Monday, November 17, 2008

thE PoTatO BaLLeRinA

I spent the morning sewing ribbons onto my pointe shoes. The process is time-consuming. First, I cut the ribbons into correct lengths. Then, I make a marking on the pointe shoes where the ribbons should go. The ribbons need to be burnt at their edges to prevent fraying. And the sewing part is where it gets tricky, because the needle should only go through the canvas part of the pointe shoes and not the satin layer outside. Lastly, elastic bands are sewn on at the Achilles heel part of the shoes to allow for better fit.

Pointe shoes are actually very interesting creations. With just a hardened box at the top of the shoes, it allows a ballerina to stand on her tiptoes. And suddenly, even a short girl can look tall. In some inexplicable way, I find it easier to balance myself in pointe shoes rather than in soft shoes. The box evens out the centre of gravity, allowing each toe to have a hold on the ground. Of course, the toes go through a lot of wear and even more tear.

My teacher said I look like “a sack of potatoes” dancing… sigh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

dO I LoOK Fat?

I have always been a big proponent of telling the truth. Truth is one of those values in life which I will not compromise, like no killing, equality of life for all, etc. It must be something I have picked up over the years, because I remember I wasn’t the most truthful kid in my neighbourhood when I was little. But now that I’m grown and “have experienced life”, as they say, I have incorporated truth as part of my personal value system.

The only blemish on the horizon – white lies. The matter of white lies puzzles me. Telling something untrue in order not to hurt people. Must it really be one way or another? I hate being a hypocrite, telling lies. I also hate to hurt people, telling the truth.

“So do I look fat in this dress?”

Truth is often brutal.

Friday, November 14, 2008

CoNfiDEntLY DouBtFuL

I have realized something interesting that happens during my ballet lessons. And it has something to do with the frame of mind in which I attend the lesson.

When I go into the lesson full of worry that my teacher will scold me, and that my classmates are all picking up so fast except me, I tend to have a wobbly lesson. My worries would prevent me from focusing and concentrating, so that I find it really difficult to execute the movements.

But when I go into the lesson with a light heart, wanting nothing but to be able to dance and express myself, I tend to have relatively good lessons. I trust that my body would have enough dance-sense to carry me through the lesson, and usually I do not do too badly.

Self-doubt, is a very powerful force.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TheSE thInGs cALLeD FeEliNgs

As I am wont to do, I had a pseudo-philosophical discussion with a friend yesterday afternoon. We were talking about emotions, about feelings and how they impact on us.

For a very long time, I was under the impression that there are “right” feelings and there are “wrong” feelings. (There are many personal, familial, social forces at play in contributing to the perception that feelings are “right” or “wrong”.) Like feeling happy is considered “correct”, but feeling angry is “not correct”. For example, what happens when I feel angry is that I don’t acknowledge the feeling is there. I sweep it under the carpet, and the emotion gets buried deep inside me, because it is considered “wrong” to show anger. Over time, when enough of the negative emotions have been collecting, they start to boil over, and show themselves at inappropriate times.

So now I’m slowly learning, that although there are negative emotions, these negative feelings in themselves cannot be considered “right” or “wrong”. They are a lot more complex than that, actually. And having the awareness and being able to articulate these feelings inside us is part of the process to becoming human.

My friend also mentioned something interesting. That often, these so-called negative feelings are actually “nurturing” feelings as well. Because they force us to look at what is causing the distress, and prompt us to show some care for ourselves.

“Take a deep breath. Ride it out for now.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My impatience often gets me into trouble. I get annoyed having to wait for things to happen. Like waiting my turn at the swimming pool (because some person decided it was much more fun to swim breadth-wise across the pool instead). Or waiting to cross the road. Or waiting in line to pay.

This impatience is most obvious when it comes to my attempts at artistic pursuits. I look at my seniors in ballet class and I impulsively think I can do those steps too. I start a piece of drawing and I have to get it done within the day (or within hours if possible). Working with media that need drying, like clay or stained glass, is hard for me.

Sometimes I think, if I could live my entire life in one whole day, I might do just that.

And she said, “Day by day. Little by little.”

Sunday, November 9, 2008

aiR-dRYinG CLaY

My latest discovery in my artistic quest is air-drying clay. I’ve been playing with it for the last couple of days. It’s a difficult, yet interesting, medium to work with.

Air-drying clay is not as malleable as Play-Doh. Neither is it as sturdy as plasticine. So here I have this mixture that is part-floury, part-lumpy, and the determined artist in me was trying to make elephants. The first elephant I made by fashioning the different body parts individually and then putting them together. The second elephant I made by molding the whole animal from the same lump of clay.

The putting-the-body-parts-together part was difficult, because the clay lumps do not cling easily once separated. Eventually I had to use water and a little cocktail-pick to painstakingly meld the parts together. The teasing-out-elephant-from-one-lump-of-clay project was difficult for its own reasons. The clay was too soft to take firm hold of the shape so while I was working on the head and trunk the left limb would be deformed and vice-versa.

Good art takes time to create.

Saturday, November 8, 2008


"The jobs so many dogs really perform is to allow us to project our feelings upon them, to assume they are excited or downhearted or lonely when we are. 'He’s so much happier when he’s out in the country,' my husband always liked to say about Beau. And maybe he was right. But I suspect it is he who is happier in the country, and he liked the idea that he and Beau were of one mind."

(from Good Dog. Stay. by Anna Quindlen)

Friday, November 7, 2008

sOBeRinG LesSoN

I learnt a sobering lesson. When bad things happen, they happen together. Successively. Consecutively. One after another. And an accumulation of bad things happening drags my mood down down down.

Curious phenomenon. It’s like when one bad thing happens, our senses are tuned in to only react to the bad things.

Have we become too caught up in the bad things that we have forgotten to count our blessings?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

LosT WitHOut yOu

A friend asked me why my MSN message read “lost without you”, and he insinuated that I was pathetic.

In just a span of a few months, I lost a place in the speech therapy course that I am keenly interested in, I lost a very good friend and mentor, I lost a job that I was only centimeters away from getting, I'm losing what I once thought was the dream of my life. Hence I’ve been pondering on the concept of loss, and the impact it has had on me.

Losing something is often painful. That sense of disbelief, that sense of rude shock, that sense of dismay. And more often than not, losing something leaves me feeling lost. I am a relatively “sticky” person, in that I tend to be overly attached to things, to ideas, to concepts, to events, to people. Without these anchoring me to life, it is very easy for me to lose myself.

Of course I feel lost without you. You taught me how to light a match in the darkness. You fished me out when I fell into the deep well. You have been my solace. I am not pathetic, just grateful.

Lost without you… but I’ll survive somehow.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Every so often, things happen that make me feel there is a grand design to my life, my existence and to the world around me. Snippets of songs that perk me up when I am down. Words of wisdom when I am feeling lost. Friends getting in touch when I am feeling lonely.

Or times when I am thinking about something or someone and the incident happens or I come into contact with the person I was thinking about. I guess if I look around me long enough, I can probably find evidence of coincidences everywhere.

Yet I wonder, are coincidences just merely that? Random events coming together? I like to believe, though, that things happen for a reason.

And maybe coincidences are a way of letting us in on the magic of this world.

WhaT It TakEs to Be A SupERheRo

If you realise that your idols are human too, would you be happy or sad? Happy that you may be like them? Sad that they are only like you? I’m feeling a bit ambivalent about this.

I just discovered today some things that I would rather not have discovered about a person that I respect and admire. I suppose I should have stopped, but I craved for the information. And like eating up that last chocolate, I am now feeling guilty. Not that there was anything scandalous or illegal going on. It is just the fact that that person is also human is starting to sink in. And that, hit me hard.

In my world of comic-book superheroes and television idols, the people I admire have larger-than-life and out-of-this-world personalities. Even if they are human, they are only human for part of the time. While they have a second life with which they don their superhero power and idol glamour.

Pity, reality chugs along and labels us plain humans.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I must have a face that says, “Please feel free to ask me for directions.”

Just in the past week, I’ve been asked for directions on three separate occasions. And they all seem to have an interesting story to tell.

I met the first uncle in the hospital. He said he had just sent his neighbour to hospital on the ambulance and he didn’t know how to go home, coupled with the fact that he didn’t bring his wallet. So I whipped out some money and sent him off in the correct direction.

Then I met another guy on my way to ballet while a torrential rain was pouring. He was trying to get to church, but as I was rushing for my class, I pointed vaguely in the direction that he was supposed to go and mentioned he might like to take a cab instead.

The last man I met just last night on my way home. He was “lost” in a completely different part of town than where he was supposedly staying. And I have a relatively poor sense of direction when it comes to roads because I travel only by the train. He wanted to know which direction to walk in so he could walk home. Again, for some reason I cannot really remember, he didn’t have money on him (he was robbed?). So I whipped out the last bit of money I had in my purse and waved him off to the train station.

Crooks or not, it’s hard to ignore someone who has cornered you with their pitiful story.

Wouldn’t you err on the side of generosity?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

DifFiCuLT quEStiOnS

Would I tolerate polygamy to be with the man of my dreams? Would I love a man so much that I am willing to share him with others? Would I be willing to trade fidelity for a few stolen moments of being with my darling man?

These are difficult questions. Questions that I hope I’ll never have to answer.

Yet it’s an interesting thought experiment. The concepts of love and the man of my dreams. The concepts of fidelity and adultery. They are closer to me than I first imagined.

Because when push comes to shove, I actually don’t know which way I’ll go.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

cOMe hoLD My HanD


Regret. Feeling sad about something wrong or a mistake made and wishing it could be different and better.

A friend asked if I have any regrets in life, and I was hard put to answer. Regret presupposes that things are either correct or not. But what if it isn’t always so simple? Between right and wrong, mistakes and successes, there is ambivalence and fear, insight and indifference.

Sure, I regret not having continued with ballet lessons when I was younger (as opposed to me attending classes now with my inflexible body and feeling all clumsy in class). I feel sad about it. But that is not necessarily wrong or a mistake. It was just that at that time, circumstances extenuating or otherwise made me choose what was then the best option for me. And I have heard say that decisions cannot be deemed just right or wrong.

Is there really regret? When it cannot be any different or better?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

cONsuMeRism & Me

It’s funny. I often declare that I am against consumerism or any dealings that promote consumerism. Yet I enjoy shopping too much to stop myself from mega-buying-sprees.

This enjoyment of shopping is a relatively recent occurrence. When I stopped working full-time, in fact. For while I was working, I had no time to indulge in frivolous buying. And probably I was too much of a miser then to figure out ways of pampering myself. But once I stopped working, I found the energy, and the means, to spend.

And spending is very catching, whether for self or others.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It’s very pretty outside my window now. The wind is whipping through the trees, sending hundreds of flower petals swirling. In a place where there are no seasons, this is almost like autumn. I would like to go out and dance among the flowers and leaves.

Autumn is a time for reflection. Before the cold of winter comes round and we are forced to hibernate our actions and our thoughts. After the heat of summer has gone and we are drawn to contemplate our successes and our failures.

Yes, I think I would really like to go and play with the flowers.

A siMpLe ThiNG

I spent a lovely long weekend in Bangkok with a good friend. We went shopping, eating, more shopping, more eating. We sat and admired the view from her room, drinks in hand, chatting away. And I realized, this is one of those simple things in life that make me happy.

The ordinariness of daily life, when shared together with a friend, adds colour and depth to the experiences.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

tHE tReE FalLs

I remember there was a time in university when I felt very disheartened. For some unknown reason, I began to tire of the lessons that I once loved. I no longer felt motivated to quench the thirst for knowledge that I once had. There were days when the world felt bleary, dank, messed-up. Like “I-got-off-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-bed-the-cat-ate-my-socks-I’m-having-a-bad-hair-day” kind of messed-up, only worse.

It got to the point when I couldn’t take in what my lecturers were saying anymore. I didn’t understand what went on in classes. It got to the point when I started to question my own existence. I didn’t understand what meaning there was to my life. It got to the point when I could see no point.

Objective reality felt too far away from me. The world with its ontological premises alienated me. Linguistic relativism left big gaping question marks for me. Too much linguistics and philosophy does that to me, I suppose.

If a tree falls down in a forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Monday, October 27, 2008

ReViSiTInG mR. D

When I first met Mr. D, it was with open arms that I welcomed him. He entered my life without guile, and I took comfort in someone who understood me so completely. More than a friend, I found in him a mate for my soul.

There are times in our lives when we do things without thinking, when intuition or sixth sense takes over. I think befriending Mr. D happened during one of these times. Without needing to say anything, we connected at some deep metaphysical level.

I completely embraced Mr. D as my soul-mate, even when you told me otherwise. I followed Mr. D into his world, even as you are holding onto my hand trying to stop me. I wanted, or maybe I needed, to have Mr. D by my side.

You could see, though, that Mr. D was bad for me.

As the song goes, “Millions of eyes can see, yet why am I so blind?”

Friday, October 24, 2008


I am an analog watch/ clock type of person. I like to watch the second-hand moving the minute-hand moving the hour-hand. I like that you need to check the skies to tell whether it's day-time or night-time. My first watch was a Mickey Mouse one, and I remember being fascinated by Mickey swiveling his hands around the watch face. With Mickey pointing his fingers guiding me, I slowly learnt how to tell the time.

Digital watches by comparison felt cold. There wasn’t Mickey there to help me tell the time. The only interesting thing about digital watches was when they read 12:34, for that is a magical time for me. Yet for all of its magic, I was often confused when hours ran beyond 12. It wasn’t until I was much older that I began to understand what 21:40 hours meant.

The other thing about analog watches, they are really helpful in doing mental sums.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Betrayal, is something I abhor/ despise/ cannot condone, whether in myself or others. Being betrayed is probably the nastiest thing that can happen to a person. Being betrayed is like someone leading your soul to the slaughter, snuffing out the light that is you.

Betrayal, rocks your world. It crashes everything around you, all that you have ever believed in. It breaks you, as a person, into a million million shards.

Yet betrayal, if you survive it, also empowers you. It rocks your world, so that you can see from a new perspective. It crashes your beliefs, so that you can re-evaluate your value system. It breaks you, so that you can build your life again with only the pieces that matter.

As in all things, betrayal can only be tempered with time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


People come into our lives for different reasons. Some teach us things to do. Some teach us things to not do. But I like to believe, every one comes into our lives to teach us something.

I have had many idols in my life, from teenage crushes to school teachers to bosses to Hollywood stars. Each of them touched me in a different way. I will always be grateful to the teacher who told me I could write. I will always be in debt to the boss who gave me many opportunities. From these people I learnt strength and fortitude and resilience. I learnt how to be giving, when not to give.

And I hope, in some small way, I leave some lessons behind.

mE & YoU

When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, I am basically a selfish person. Or perhaps, self-centred is a better description. I like to believe that the world revolves around me, my needs, my expectations, my whims, my fancies.

But I suppose life has taught me otherwise. That the world does not revolve around me. In fact, truth be told, sometimes it seems as if the world doesn’t really care about me, my needs, my expectations, my whims, my fancies.

This is one of the hardest lessons growing up. To learn that there is not just me, but that there is you too.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Since coming out to work freelance, I have discovered something. And that is how lonely it can get. Without the familiarity of colleagues and peers, work feels lonely. I get through the days on my own, and that feels lonely. Even worse, I can be out where there are lots of people, and I still feel lonely.

It must have been many years ago when someone told me, “You can be alone without being lonely.” Aloneness is a state of being. Loneliness is a state of mind. And perhaps, neither one presupposes the other. But when you are alone and loneliness hits you, that can be debilitating.

When you think about it, isn’t life very much like this? Aren’t we alone in our own life? Only I get to live my life, and only I can be responsible for my own life. We are alone and we are lonely by turns.

For in the end, it is just me, myself, and I.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

ThiS is HoME, TRuLy

I am always in awe of those who display a patriotic loyalty to their home country. It is very touching, in a gut-wrenching-heart-seizing kind of way. Because I have never had such feelings myself.

For where is home, really? Where is home when the place that you are born and the place that you are bred are different? Where is home when your time is divided between the two places? Where is home when you have bits of yourself in one and not the other, bits of yourself in the other but not in one?

My only claim to my birth country is a piece of paper stating that I was born there, and a passport that allows me to leave that country. I neither speak nor understand the national language. I was never educated in my birth country, although I grew up there.

If home is where I have a shelter over my head and a bed to sleep on, I have two shelters and two beds. If home is where the heart is, I don’t know where my heart is.

No, I really don’t.

Friday, October 17, 2008

tHE LitTle AduLT

When I was little, I couldn’t wait to grow up. The world of adults seemed so much more exciting than my tiny one. Adults could go out at any time, and stay out late. Adults could watch horror movies, and not be frightened. Adults could have conversations with one another, intelligent or otherwise. I was impatient to be an adult.

Now that I’m an adult, I kind of miss being little. I miss the innocence and the wide-eyed wonder with which I used to perceive the world. I miss being carefree, not having to worry about bills and responsibilities. I miss being loved, the way you love little children by tucking them into bed and patting them to sleep.

Life is a hell of a thing to happen to a person.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Ever since I started the series of procedures for the viral infection on my feet, I have been hung up on the issue of pain. And pain tolerance.

It is often said that our body forgets pain easily. It is also often said that we each have different pain thresholds. Perhaps, it can even be said that no two pains are ever alike. For pain is an acquired knowledge accumulated over time and experience. No one (I hope) purposely puts us in pain to teach us about pain.

Pain is individuated. Something uncomfortable happens to us, and we learn to use the word “pain” to describe that uncomfortable feeling. I don’t know why some people cringe at the slightest pain while some people never bat an eyelid even when it seems very painful. I read stories of how people are battered, broken, and yet still survive horrific accidents, and I am speechless. Is it because my pain tolerance is really low, or have I mistakenly used ‘pain’ to describe what is merely ‘discomfort’?

It’s good that our body forgets pain easily. It’s bad that our body forgets pain easily.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

LoViNG iNSidE & oUt

'Fynn, you can love better than any people that ever was, and so can I, can't I? But Mister God is different. You see, Fynn, people can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so it's different. Mister God ain't like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.'

(from Mister God, This Is Anna by Fynn)


The Facebook phenomenon has been sweeping across town with a vengeance. I must admit, though, that I haven’t yet quite figured out the purpose of Facebook; beyond throwing chickens and water bombs and getting SuperPoked.

I am, however, amazed at the number of “long lost” friends I encounter. People I had known a long time ago but who at various stages stepped out of my life, I see them on Facebook. And it is always a pleasant surprise to “read” that they are now happily settled with kids, or working in some exotic location, or just generally to know they are well.

Social networking aside, Facebook can actually be quite voyeuristic!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008


The concept of time is fascinating. In fact, there is a whole area of philosophy dedicated to the study of time. I remember being in my undergraduate class feeling bewildered, having to choose between being an A-theorist of time or a B-theorist of time. I remember feeling lost, having to take sides between whether time is tensed or time is un-tensed. I remember feeling confused, with the debates on time travel and what is the most logical way of explaining time travel.

I remember being caught up in the fact that English is a tensed language which influences the way I look at time. But I also remember being caught up in the fact that Chinese is a tense-less language which also influences the way I look at time.

Time is contagious. We are all getting old.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Come October every year, I feel a little melancholic. Perhaps because it is the last quarter of the year, and I can’t help but reflect on how the year has been. Perhaps because it is near my birthday, and I can’t help but reflect on what my life has been.

It is interesting how in a span of a few years, or months, or even days sometimes, how much we can change. Two years ago I was almost a completely different person than who I am now.

Where I only saw darkness before, I now see shafts of light coming through.

Friday, October 10, 2008

ShaREd cONsciouSNesS

I am fascinated by the idea of a shared consciousness. I was reading somewhere (or was it from TV?) that at the moment we have a particular thought, there are at least six other people in this world who are having that exact same thought. Amazing, isn’t it?

I wonder what is in our shared consciousness. With whom do I share this consciousness with? How do the things in our shared consciousness get there in the first place? What are the beliefs or values that unify us one being to another?

If there is shared consciousness, is there also shared unconsciousness?


My mum has been busy filling out lucky draw forms from our milk cartons. The grand prize is a car, which would be really cool. But as my mum is filling out the forms, she keeps saying that some people are really lucky when it comes to things like that while others are just plain luckless. I think my family belongs to the luckless group. How else do you explain that even in those “sure-win” lucky dips, we’ll end up with the least of the prizes like tissue packs or pens.

I began pondering the issue of luck. Some people do seem born with a silver (gold?) spoon in their mouth. Things in life tend to go smoothly for them, and there isn’t a lot of drama that upsets their lives. On the other hand, some people seem to have all the bad luck. Their lives consist of more falls than victories, and it is an uphill task even for mundane survival. I wonder if they remembered to thank their lucky stars?

It’s not about luck. I suffered my fair share of sleepless nights too.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I have never done bungee jumping. Yet through dramatizations by various friends, I have some inkling of what happens during a bungee jump, albeit limited. Language gives us knowledge, allows us a tool with which to exchange information and thoughts. I hear people tell me about their experience of bungee jumping, and I feel almost as if I were in their place.

It is very interesting, this phenomenon of experiencing and not-experiencing. Without experience of something, is a person able to objectively think about it? Would my empathy with you be sufficient fodder for my thoughts? Or would such rationalizations be so far short of the actual experience that they are a waste of time and effort?

Is there still an experience when there isn’t an actual experience of that thing?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008



dEAth & GRieF

I was doing a short hospital attachment the other day, and while I was hanging around the nurses’ station, one of the first pieces of news that came was that a patient had died. And suddenly, there was a lot of shuffling as the doctors tried to determine the cause of death and the nurses tried to deal with the grief-stricken family and everyone doing our level best to not disturb the other patients.

Death is one of those things that changes your life forever. Yet it is so inevitable. In some strange indescribable way, death leaves its mark on us even long after the incident. I remember my grandmother dying, and how sad I felt at her funeral. And many many years after her death, I still have periodic bouts of sadness that grip me. And it’s the same with other people I know who have died. That same attack of grieving that happens, sometimes long after they have been laid to rest.

Psychologists tell us there are five stages of grief, and that each of us goes through the stages at different paces. Some of us recover faster. Some of us take a longer time. But death, never fails to impact.

I wonder which is worse. Being cut off from someone knowing that he or she has died? Or being cut off from someone knowing that he or she is not dead?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

tO Be yOUNg AgaiN

I was watching one of those Funniest Home Videos’ clips just now and couldn’t stop laughing at this adorable little boy. He’s probably five or six, and he was dancing his heart out at a Christmas jingle that was playing in the background. Even though he wasn’t very coordinated nor graceful, and he even fell a couple of times, it was great fun watching him dance.

I think what struck me the most was how un-self-conscious he was. His sole purpose was to entertain, both himself and the audience, and I must say he did a mighty good job. It is always interesting to see how awkward we become when we grow up. Hugging your dad or getting a goodnight kiss from your mother becomes embarrassing over the years.

Ah, the wild abandon of youth!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

sANdra oR SaRah?

I remember being in secret friendship groups when I was in primary school. From the storybook world of Nancy Drew and Famous Five and Hardy Boys and The Three Investigators, my friends and I would create our own versions of superheroes who went about solving mysteries. Admission was mostly exclusive, but I suppose other groups would have their own cliques as well.

It was fun, to hang out and explore our school surroundings, hoping to come up against some exotic mystery or other. We even had special code names that we’d use only when we were at group meetings. I think I was either Sarah or Sandra.

It was serious, when we shared secrets with one another. Like taking a leap of faith. Secrets of secret crushes, secrets of family affairs, secrets of dreams and desires and fears. Dismissal from the group was immediate if you spilled the beans.

Secrets, are dangerous things.

Friday, October 3, 2008

iN GraCE We REcEivE

Sometimes, things go wrong and we look for someone to blame. Sometimes, things go wrong and we blame ourselves. However, when things go right, it is often difficult to praise ourselves or others. For a long time, I have been puzzling over this reticence to accept credit for the good one has done.

Sure, our cultural heritage prides itself on humility. But sometimes, I wonder if the refusal to accept commendations graciously is also another form of hypocrisy. Self-castigation cannot be a life-long motivator for action. Instead of focusing on the stick, perhaps we need to learn how to appreciate the carrot.

So next time, when someone says “Well done!”, remember to say “Thank you.”

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PaiN Is pAIn nO MoRe

I recently attended a talk by a motivational speaker who shared with us her rocky and unhappy childhood, and how she overcame her past to become a successful business entrepreneur and celebrity. It is a familiar story retold in its many forms and styles, with an almost Cinderella-like quality – poor and abused protagonist finds a fairy godmother who changes her life forever.

The morals are always the same. Do not be contented with your lot in life but seek to continually improve yourself. However tough your life situation is, never give up. It is in adversity that you find strength. It is possible to overcome any challenge so long as you put your heart to it. Bad things happen to enable you to grow.

As my ballet teacher likes to say, “Once you can accept the pain, then the pain is pain no more.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PaiN TranSfeREnCe

I have been having a series of procedures done to the soles of my feet for some viral infection that has developed there. Each procedure involves razor blades and liquid nitrogen, which is no fun. There is normally a fair bit of pain involved during the procedure itself, and pain from the swelling and blisters that form after the procedure.

In the beginning, when I first started the procedures, I would look at what the nurses are doing to my feet, in the hopes that when I see what they are doing, I can rationally convince myself it is not such a big deal after all. Still pain.

Then I began to close my eyes so I could not see what the nurses are doing, focusing my thoughts on happy things, hoping that my mind is able to will the pain away. Still pain.

So I have been prompted to look into the theory of pain transference. Recently during the procedure, I would grab a part of my arm and pinch it really really hard. Odd as it sounds, it actually works. There is still pain, but when the pain is something I can control (pinching myself), it is more bearable than something I cannot control (nurses doing the procedure). It is like manually teleporting the pain from one place to another.

I wonder if the pain in my feet will completely disappear if I simultaneously pinch both of my arms?

ChaNGe (ii)

“Be the change you want to see,” said Mahatma Gandhi.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

cHAnGe (i)

Change is more often frightening than not. Change implies that there is some disruption to the standard operating procedures. Change implies that it is no longer status quo. Change implies a state of movement, as opposed to being passive.

And change is something that only we can effect in ourselves. The whole world might have spun a degree off its latitude, but no change would have taken place unless you acknowledge that change.

We are often told to turn over a new leaf, but can a leopard really change its spots?

Saturday, September 27, 2008


We spoke about setting goals today. I tried to visualise what I wanted out of life, and I came up blank. Long time ago, though, I’m sure I had goals. I wanted to be a Nobel Prize-winning author. I wanted to be a world-famous ballerina. I wanted to grow up.

Yet now, it’s hard to extrapolate goals from the mundanity of everyday living.

We joked about the meaning of life. I am slowly convinced there is no one answer to this. She goes one better, she thinks there are answers out there we just don’t see at this moment. Either way, living should take precedence over pondering.

Yet I obsess about existential questions everyday.

But I shall get off my soapbox and let you be.

nOW yOu See it, NoW You dOn'T

"Everything is so fragile. There's so much conflict, so much pain... You keep waiting for the dust to settle and then you realize this is it: the dust is your life going on. If happy comes along, that weird, unbearable delight that's actual happy – I think you have to grab it while you can. You take what you can get. 'Cause it’s here, and then... gone."

(from Astonishing X-Men Vol 4 by Joss Whedon)

Friday, September 26, 2008


Poignant has been on my mind these last couple of days. In the things I see, in the things I hear, in the things I read, in the things I say. Poignant has become pervasive. It permeates my thoughts, consciously or unconsciously or subconsciously. Someone drew a screen over me and left the veil of poignant behind.

I’ve always been known to be a little melodramatic.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ciRCLe oF FriENdS

Inspired, is how I normally feel after a gathering with my Inner Circle friends. Our coming together was almost magical – one called one who called another and another, and the six of us found ourselves part of a comfortable and comforting alliance.

It is rare to find friendships like that, especially in adult life, when the pressures of work and commitments at home overwhelm. Once upon a time, we sipped tea and dreamt about setting up our own company and working together. Today, we sipped tea and reminisced about the old days. So much has changed, and yet so little.

You know how sometimes things just click into place like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle? That was exactly what happened with us. We fitted into one another snugly.

And together, we bring out the best in each of us.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

tHE PerFecT MaN

In striving to be the perfect friend, the perfect daughter, the perfect employee, the perfect student, the perfect sister, the perfect person, I sometimes forget to be me.

A person, in order to function fully and freely in the world, needs to be rooted. There must be basic anchors of beliefs and values that hold a person in place. And living under make-believe expectations keeps me chained to a self-less identity.

“Stick to the basics,” he said.

Monday, September 22, 2008


I am in a strangely reflective mood these days. Perhaps it’s because I have been going through a lot of old documents to find a certificate that I need. And going through old things always puts me in an affected mood.

Feelings I had long forgotten surface.

Smells take on a sharper note.

Ears hear the loud ringing of silence.

Tastes develop extra textures.

Eyes that have seen too much no longer know how to cry.

ThiS Is LifE?

I spend all my time waiting for something big and momentous to happen, some earth-shattering and ground-breaking event, some tectonic clash that defines who I am. But I’m slowly coming to realise, this IS life. No big bang, no fanfare, nothing stupendous. There are no alarms, no bells and whistles. There is just me and life.

It is a humbling thought. It is a sobering thought. It is a scary thought. That I am the same as everyone else. That I am no different. That this is life.

How can there be nothing more to life? How can it just be this daily grind? Is it reality or cynicism that has set in?

Stop thinking. Life is life. Shit happens.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I used to rage against the world. Against all the injustices that people suffered. Against the prejudices that people inflicted. Against the lies that humanity bought, and sold.

I still rage against the world now. But the rage is tempered somewhat. With my problems taking over a big part of me. With the knowledge that certain things cannot be changed. With the blind-sightedness that comes with age.

I still cry when I see the old lady sitting by herself eating her bread.