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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Newfound Joys

I'll admit it up front. I'm one of those strange individuals who tends to catch up to things a little late.

I'm sure most of you normal people out there have been singing songs about the New Year coming round probably as early as the start of December, or maybe even long before that. But me, it's only now that I am feeling a stronger sense of that spectrum of emotions that accompany an anticipation of the brand new things to come in the soon-be-to year 2010.

Well, whilst more than half the working population of Malaysia is still in its party-holidaying mood, I have been trudging to work every morning to an office that's two-thirds empty. Technically, somewhere in the back of my mind I realise that I am not alone doing this. Yet somehow, when I'm out on the roads driving to that faraway place where I work, it doesn't always feel that way. Nevertheless, I have been trying in my own little ways to keep myself motivated.

For one thing, the roads are much clearer than usual and that means a shorter ride in the car and being able to get into the office within a reasonable time (although I am getting up and leaving home later than I should). And with the clearer traffic comes the clearer mind and a reduction in stress levels. So, with a mind that's more at ease, I've been doing a bit more thinking whilst behind the wheel these few days.

One of the things I've been pondering is how easily I forget that each new day I have before me is in fact a gift. Yes, I know, it may sound awfully cliche and all, but the thing is, as regular human beings, we do tend to forget these things. Even if we're not scowling or grunting outwardly, I'm pretty certain there have been a considerable number of days where, upon waking up in the morning, one of the first few thoughts that crosses your mind runs something along the lines of "Just great, yet ANOTHER working day..." Am I not right?

And so we forget that waking up to a healthy body, having the sufficient financial standing to be able to drive a car out on the streets each day, zipping across town taking for granted that our safety is assured, having a predictable job and steady income, being able to come home to people who love us at the end of each day are things that not everyone in this world enjoys.

Then another New Year rolls along and suddenly, we're jolted to remember the 101 reasons why the year has been such a fantastic journey. We come to grips again with the mortality of life as news reports of fatal accidents or crimes jab fear and at the same time thankfulness into our hearts again. There's life to spare yet, and we're still blessed enough to be living it. We make lists of things to do, and relive that invigorating surge of excitement again as we hold fast to the hope that the New Year will spell better tomorrows for us.

But why does this only happen at the brink of a New Year? Only for another two or three months to go by and then we'll find ourselves again stuck in some dreaded rut, loathing the very air we breathe all over again?

Personally, I've always believed that most things in life hang heavily upon our perspectives - the way we see the world. Often times, a situation doesn't really change, but perhaps the way we look at it does. And depending on the conclusions we choose to draw from it, it would determine whether or not we are affected for the better or the worse by the said situation.

So, even as we revel in the fact that the New Year is in fact finally approaching (and fast too), let's put aside the age old habit of racking up long lists of Resolutions in favour of a brand new attitude for a change. And that attitude being this: to purpose in our hearts to find ways to see things in a new light each day. To make sure we don't fall into the trappings of the mundane, but to keep that New Year's enthusiasm alive the whole year through, as though it were New Year's Day every day.

How's that for a New Year's Resolution then?

Being different is a choice, after all. And making a difference is set in motion by a series of consistent decisions to remain different each time. If enough of us believe this and live this out, who knows what form of a different world we'll have at the end of 2010?

So let's do this.

Let's not hope for better tomorrows. Let's bring hope to others wherever we're at by the way we live today.

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm excited for whatever's ahead... Are you? :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Royalty

I dreamed a dream
And it was grand
With castles majestic and not made of sand
I held the world
And it fit snugly
In the palm of my hand
Then I realised in my dream
That it was a dream, a figment of imagination
Climbing and scaling the walls and interiors of my brain
What a shame
That it should not be real
Because it was beautiful
And well, admittedly, a tad surreal
In it the horses rode wide, white meadows
And the sky was pink and purple in shade
Kings and queens came to visit and share pots of tea
Then I envisioned you with me
With fits of hearty laughter and priceless company
Smiles for kilometres (not miles)
And time that stood still, albeit awhile
In my dream I was gorgeous and charming
And you were gentle and sweet and not at all alarming

Then suddenly...

No kings and queens graced the table
Nor horses galloping came to rest in the stable
The castles crumbled
And the beauty faded
The tea got spilt
The sky got raided

Then I sighed
And looked
Then there was you

So smiles remained
And laughter was a lesson learnt
A wisdom gained
Dreams, hope and reality collided
Over tea, we conquered the world
And crowned ourselves royalty
The walls of my brain crumbled
My heart, it fitted snugly in the palm of your steady hands

And then
There was the world
And there was us

* Happy 1st quarter, sayang. It's been a lovely journey thus far. :)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pause

One moment of silence please, as I mourn the loss of face from being unable to complete Nanowrimo on time. Again.

*sigh*

But three cheers for the fact that this writer has landed an editorial job, albeit only a contract basis.

Life is about to change. Yet another time. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Half Truth

I will tell you a story that is only half true. Which half that might be is really up to you.

I used to be a gorgeous princess once. Well, at least that's what my Mother used to call me. I wore the prettiest dresses and was the admiration of everyone who saw me.

Only that what they admired wasn't the dress nor the beauty. What they admired was really, my ability to be brave. Not many girls are brave. Or rather, not many girls are as brave as they portray themselves to be.

I was once brave.

I was brave enough to stand up to the boys. Boys are full of nasty ideas, and they are big bullies. One or two tried to tease me and call me names a number of times. At first I just smiled nicely and pretended like I was too sweet to do anything to retaliate.

Then, one day, when all the boys were out playing football, I exchanged the shirts of the nasties so that none of them got to wear back their own shirts. Of course, they never knew it was me who did it. I was careful about that.

I almost fought with a teacher once, for mistreating my friend. How dare teachers just accuse people of being lazy, when the truth was my friend was busy helping her dad's business so they could earn enough money for the family so she and her other sibilings could all stay in school.

I wrote my real thoughts about school down once, in an exercise book, and handed it up as my essay homework instead of what I was actually supposed to write.

But I had girls in my class who refused to let me join in their fun and games. I was on the sidelines practically most of the time.

Eventually I watched other people my age hog the limelight, whilst I fell back into the shadows. Not because I had nothing to offer, but because others outshined me, and I accepted it for a fact.

My voice grew softer amidst the growing confidence that my peers were developing. Latest world news, current youth trends, juicy gossip. I could not keep up.

I had talent once. I squandered it. That is because I sang in a school concert, and although it was pretty good, my teacher told me instead that I had done a terrible job and my voice was not worthy to be heard in public. Which was terribly untrue.

I had always wanted to be a teacher. But then my grades got bad in high school because I fell in love with a boy who didn't love me back. One day, I tried kissing a real live frog, hoping that it might become a real prince, who would love me as I am and when he looked into my eyes, I'd feel so self-assured that I was okay and that I was lovable.

My Mum died when I was still in university. She used to say such lovely things to me every day and it kept me going. It made me feel special, that I had a unique place in this world. After she was gone, I stopped believing everything she said because I realised all the hope she had encouraged me with hadn't had the power to save her from dying and leaving me all alone here in the world.

I found a useful job, and kept at it long enough until all the good people gave up doing it, and only I was left. So I was successful because there was no one else who stuck it out as long as me. And everyone thought I was smart. And also hinted that maybe I had been brave.

I married a man almost prince-like, only so far as his choice of cars, clothes and food go. Nothing but the best and the most pricey things for my handsome hunk. I am his princess, but only when I do everything he expects of me.

I wrote a story once, about what my lfe was really like. It had a happy ending, or so I thought I recalled. It goes something like what I just told you.

What I told you at the beginning of my story is true. And then there was the other half.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Them, part 2: Against Them


Entry #0002
Cardboard box

They hosted an entertainment event today. Various performers, but mostly from amongst themselves. The idea of course, was to generate publicity.


Many of us were asked to attend. No, wait, let me rephrase that: many of us were forced to attend. What good would a public event look, if there were too many empty seats?


But in all honesty, their ideas of amusement are feeble, to say the least. Back where we came from, music festivals were joyful and full of vigour. There is nothing of that sort here. If you would just look at us, we are nothing but the living dead. We have lost our souls almost entirely.


I am a performer at heart. I miss the freedom of singing in the open streets. And dancing. It thrills the heart, and sparks life into the bones. Dancing is forbidden here.


And so is singing.


But in the dead of night, I hear voices. There are some among us who have not yet forgotten the tunes of yesteryear. One day these songs will resound in this city again.


I hope in some ways I will help to hasten the coming of that day.


*     *     *

All related posts for this story can be found under the label Them

Friday, November 13, 2009

Passion

There is a great deal of difference between doing something because you have to and doing something because you want to. That is, I believe, the essence of passion.

Take now into consideration the fact that I am up at this superbly late hour working on freelance articles. Of course I'll get paid for it and of course I have to deliver because I agreed to deadlines and it would reflect on my professionalism.

But yet I could choose to simply kill off word limits by writing nonsense or simply plaster in facts without putting effort into coining catchy puns or putting life into the words I write. It would consume less time, and the work would still get done.

However, ladies and gentlemen, I take pride in the articles I churn out, regardless of how pressing the deadlines or how daunting the topics.

The reason lies in the existence of passion.

I will be downright honest with you and tell you quite frankly that the amount of money I am being remunerated right now for what I do versus the quantity of effort I put into to produce any one given article is not in the least proportionate. It is by no means at a sustainable level as far as income is concerned. But I am doing this in the hopes that someday it will be.

Let a passion of yours collide with what you do as work and the results would be explosive. Productivity would be up by a gazillion notches and not only would you be satisfied, I'd wager your employers would be as well.

I'm embarking on that road now. The path to seek out how I may enter a job that incorporates what I am passionate about that at the same time can earn me a steady and relatively self sustainable income.

It has not been an easy road so far, and I don't expect it will be in the future either. I'm still waiting for my big break to come, yet shuffling while I wait by taking on freelance work to build my portfolio. A lot of people in my life are supportive of my move to do this, yet not many people really appreciate what it involves or share my joys/despairs in the journey. I have been questioning too how much of this is worth it, and how it would be be oh-so-easy to just slip back into doing what I'm qualified to do but which kills me off slowly as I continue to choose to do it. It is a dilemma of sorts.

Is what you're passionate about worth fighting for?

If you asked me, I'd be willing to wager that if it wasn't, it wouldn't be labelled a passion of yours in the first place.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Them

Entry #0001
The Trenches, 0000 hours

I am finally alone. I am here at last.

I have tried many times to make it here to write this, but as you might expect, things often get in the way around here.

It's all their fault.

There have been others before me, many who have tried to do as I now endeavour to. To write about what really goes on here. To make known everything that they do.

They have kept us silent for far too long now. They try to strike fear into our hearts, to make us cower in their presence. To believe that there is no way that we can rise up against them. That they are not afraid.

But they are.

That is why they keep making efforts to silence us. It is the reason that they stalk us, the same cause for the violence. Yes. They resort to violence now. All their calm assurances that they would never lay a hand on those under their care is nothing but a hoax.

That's what they are, anyway. Nothing but a giant lie.

I shiver as I write this. I fear to be found out. But as I said before, I need to continue where the others have left off. It is the tiny glimpse of hope that comforts me now. The hope that somehow, when our story gets out, there will be a chance for change.

It is that chance which gives me the strength to keep going.

But this is all I can afford to pen down for now. I hear them coming. I must go.

Till next time.

*     *     *

All related posts for this story can be found under the label Them

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Look

I look at their lives and the many colours and stories. I wonder why
it is so full of activity, where mine is so empty. I wander through their
worn paths, and ruminate about my own. I falter in my convictions as
I study their certainty. I poke tentatively at the differences and cower
at the mismatches. I fear.

I fear.

Look. At. Me.

I fear.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hope, The Friend

Rough terrain slashing the backs of the weary wanderer
The dread of the perils of the trail
From the ones that were crossed before
Uncertainty underscoring the lines
The shapes and signs of the ever changing rhythm
Time and moments to a life
Tying memories around the things that matter
The dreams that scatter and crease the brow
The whys the wonder of the who how whens
Some places you head towards
The journey never seems to end or pace to slow
Of growing old or grace enough to blanket imperfections
Freedom fairness compassion justice to roam
An old friend, the shoulder upon which to lean
A pillow upon which to dream, to imagine the things that cannot be seen
Hope, the age old wisdom, the comforting touch
Puts words to songs and music to poetry
Makes things so ordinarily missed and neglected
Find their meaning
And mean much

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mental Garbage

"Girl," the teacher's voice was a tad exasperated. "Go take the rubbish to throw with Dennis."

She hadn't been listening. Or rather, had been pretending not to.

"Girl, are you listening to me?"

Somehow, this situation spelt trouble. She could feel it already. She lifted her gaze from teacher to Dennis and stared straight into his fidgety face. She didn't like him. Not one bit.

The walk to the garbage collection area at the front of the school was a long one. Or maybe it seemed longer than usual because she was less than eager to make this trip.

What student doesn't like time to escape classes? Well, she wasn't one to favour it. At least not for these sort of reasons.

His pace was way quicker than hers. He didn't care, obviously, that she couldn't keep up. Every now and then though, he'd glance back at her. Pretty much just to gloat, more than for any other apparent reason.

Finally, they reached the door to the garbage collection spot. He shoved the bag of rubbish at her.

"You go throw it," he announced firmly.

She took the bag from him and glared. Then, holding her breath, she stepped into the garbage collection area. A mere few steps in and the stench overwhelmed her. She dropped the bag hurriedly and turned to leave...

Only to find the latch to the door fastened.

She pushed the door. It didn't budge. Pausing for a moment, she realised right then and there what had just happened. The idiot of a boy had locked her inside the garbage collection area.

She thought about screaming. But then again, she doesn't scream. And she wasn't sure whether she'd be heard by anyone anyway. They were the only ones around and the nearest class was quite a distance away.

Deciding to delay any real panic, she pushed at the door again.

To her surprise and ultimate relief, it swung open. She hurriedly made her exit.

Not far from the door, Dennis stood smirking, obviously very pleased with himself for having successfully frightened her. She considered hitting him. Shouting at him.

But then did nothing.

She stalked off, and he tailed from behind - both making their way back to class.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Curiousity

As they say, curiousity killed the cat. But then again, I ain't no cat.

So... help me out with this survey. I'd just like to know what you think. :)

Click here to take the survey :)

*Psst... Part 3 of A Glimpse, A Glance, A Gaze coming soon, I promise ;)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Thousand Apologies, Sire

Aloha :)

It would appear that this blog has been lying idle for quite some time now. Rest assured, the blog author has indeed not abandoned this spot entirely, but she will most definitely return.

For the moment, she has her hands full somewhat... having taken up 3 different freelance tasks, and has her fingers crossed on transitioning to a proper writing career sometime... The sooner the better, of course ;)

Don't for a moment think that anything will be left incomplete here. I will most definitely finish off the last bit of A Glance, A Glimpse, A Gaze soon. Very soon. As soon as the deadlines over these next few days clear.

In the meantime, kindly amuse yourselves with this untitled piece of fiction. Psst: it's a collabo between me and my bandmate, Joanne :) Teehee. No telling you who wrote what and which parts... that's the beauty of collaborations. United we stand, together we fall (spot the deliberate error haha).

So, please dear readers, take note: this writer is not being lazy, in fact she is taking on more these days. And hopefully this means the quality of the texts written will improve :)

In any case, the ultimate passion for fiction and all things freestyle will most definitely never die, so keep up the visits, and see you here again soon with more brain fodder! :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Glimpse, A Glance, A Gaze: Part 2 of 3

*Another update! Finally! :)

Foreword


This short trilogy is based on 3 sections, each taking on 1 of the 3 words from its title. Each section is inspired by a quote randomly chosen based on the presence of the keyword in its content. There is no plot, and the story goes wherever it wishes. :)

Acknowledgments

My special thanks to Deric for the selection of the 3 random quotes and for being a supporter of these unpolished writings.


Read this first: Part I: Glimpses


Part II: A Glance

“The retrospective glance is a relatively easy gesture for us to make.”
- George Crumb

Mr Stiffellatrundle sat on the edge of his bed, staring in the direction of the strange brown box that now occupied a corner of his room. It felt like just minutes ago when he had arrived home with the box in tow.

In reality, it has been three days already since the box first entered his home. It wasn’t much of a threat – just another harmless, inanimate object to grace his rather spartan home decor. Yet somehow, Mr Stiffellatrundle has this strange feeling that there was something about the box which was alive.

Curiousity had plagued him ever since the arrival of the box. Yet, he had not come around to actually opening the box yet. He had waited. And waited. And waited.

“Just as long as you let us know in a month’s time what you’ve done with the box, that will be fine,” Miss Daintygracearnest had assured him. Those were her final parting words to him before she departed from his front door and whizzed off in her expensive, shiny car.

It had been pure silence since then. Well, not that it hadn’t been silent in his house before that. It’s just that the silence felt especially thick these past three days.

Mr Stiffellatrundle had this unnerving notion that somehow, this out-of-the-ordinaryness that was slowly bothering him would not really go away, until and unless he opened that box.

So now, here he was, staring at that brown, corrugated thing at the corner of his bedroom again. Contemplating.

He took a deep breath finally, then stood up and walked across the room to fetch the box.

* * *

Miss Daintygracearnest cleared her throat emphatically and raised the clipboard in her right hand to read the paper attached to it. There were five names on the list, and there were five people before her.

“Alright everyone,” she said brightly, putting on a warm smile, “I’m not sure if you’ve been properly informed why you’re here or not, but in any case, I’m about to explain. You five have been specially chosen. We’re about to hand you the liberty to pick yourselves a box each. This door in front of us here leads to the warehouse. Once inside, you can take your time, browse around if you like, and when you’re ready, tell us which box you’d like to take home with you.”

“A box? Whatever for?” Squealed a young lady with long, limp hair – one of the five.

“Well... basically, once you’ve selected your box, you can open it anytime and – ”

“What’s in the box?” Interrupted a scruffy looking school boy, still in his soiled uniform from having come straight over after school.

“You’ll see,” Miss Daintygracearnest said quietly.

* * *

What does your heart desire most?

That’s what the tiny label on the box said. It was positioned right smack in the middle of the two flaps with a seal on them.

Mr Stiffellatrundle stared at the words, puzzled. No immediate answer came to mind. But then again... there was something...

He closed his eyes and let the images flood his mind. He remembered. And then, he knew all of a sudden what his answer should be.

He gritted his teeth and started pulling apart the seal at the top of the box. Then, he parted the two flaps and pressed them down to their respective sides. Now, at last, he could see what was on the inside of his box.

* * *

Miss Daintygracearnest watched the five people in the warehouse in amusement. It was obvious they were all pretty overwhelmed by the sheer size of the place, and even more so by the number of boxes they had to choose from.

Four out of the five were randomly shuffling about the warehouse in a rather clueless manner, scanning the dozens and dozens of boxes, trying their best to take it all in and make an intelligent decision.

But the schoolboy was too young to appreciate any fancy tactics. He went straight up to the first box that he had laid his eyes on, and picked it up right away.

“I’ll take this one!” He exclaimed confidently as he stood right in front of Miss Daintygracearnest. He had picked on of the smaller boxes. One appropriate for his size.

She could only smile in response at his impulsive decision.

“Well, are you sure?” She said kindly, and bent down to meet the boy at eye level.

“Yes,” he nodded emphatically, and shook the box hard as he did so. “What’s inside it?” He peered at the box in his hands inquisitively.

“That’s for you to find out.” She patted him on the shoulder, and stood upright again.

“Can I open it now?”

Miss Daintygracearnest smiled again, in spite of herself. She cleared her throat, intending to tell the boy this wasn’t exactly the best thing to do since it might influence the perception of the rest about their own boxes, but she didn’t quite know how to put it nicely to him in a way he could understand. More importantly, she felt guilty about spoiling his infectious excitement.

“Well...” she began, pausing to think, then continuing, “how about we go for some icecream after this, just you and me, we can open it together... what do you say to that?”

“Yay,” the boy exclaimed in delight, jumping up and down, nearly dropping the box. “Let’s go, let’s go!”

“We’ll have to wait ‘till the rest are done first, okay?”

“Okay,” the boy seemed a little disappointed, but sat down obediently in a small, wooden chair that Miss Daintygracearnest pointed out to him.

* * *

The big brown box wasn’t full to the brim as what Mr Stiffellatrundle had expected. He was rather surprised to discover this. A huge, empty blackness greeted him as he peered into the depths of the box. Was the box merely an empty one?

Then, finally, he noticed it.

At the very bottom of the box was a mirror.

It was not a huge one, but it was large enough for him to see the entire reflection of his face in it. Mr Stiffellatrundle frowned, and the man in the mirror frowned back.

And what was he supposed to do with the mirror now?

He had to report something back to Miss Daintygracearnest by the end of the month. Would it be enough for him to say that he had just stared into a mirror at the bottom of his box? It didn’t seem likely. And he wasn’t really intending to forfeit his “rich reward” due to a lack of initiative.

So Mr Stiffellatrundle decided to reach into the box and take out the mirror. Perhaps he could think of something, a more significant way to make use of the mirror, just so he’d have a more meaningful story to tell Miss Daintygracearnest at the end of it all.

He stuck his hand in the box and extended his fingers out to pick up the mirror. But strangely enough, he found he had trouble grasping it.

He tried again. And missed.

Odd indeed.

The moment his hand came into contact with the mirror, he felt it slip right through his fingers. As if it was wasn’t solid. As though it was merely an image, and not really there at all.

He cast a critical eye on the mirror. Or what he thought was a mirror, anyway. It was baffling.

He tried again.

Digging his hand to the very bottom of the box, he tried manoeuvering his fingers in such a way as would seem logical in order to pick up the mirror. But this time, instead of gripping the edges of the mirror, he missed.

Before he knew what was happening, he found that his hand seemed to go right through the middle of the mirror, instead of him touching its surface, as he had anticipated.

He stared at the mirror and his hand, which now looked as if it had passed into a space inside the mirror. Or... beyond it. Slightly alarmed by the queerness of it all, he tried pulling his hand back out of the mirror.

However, to his astonishment, the more he attempted to yank his hand out, the further in it appeared to go. Soon, more than half of his arm had so-called disappeared into the mirror.

This was absurd.

Mr Stiffellatrundle grunted in frustration, and gave one last hard tug in order to get his hand free from the mirror. But instead, to his horror, he suddenly found the rest of his arm was being sucked into the mirror. First his shoulder, his head, his other shoulder, and finally his entire body.

In no time at all, he found himself no longer in his bedroom, but at the other side of the mirror, and apparently, in another world.

* * *

“Alright, everyone,” Miss Daintygracearnest announced in her brisk, business-like tone, “now that you’ve all chosen your own boxes, you are free to go. You can open the box at any time after you’ve gone your separate ways. Al that’s left to do after that is to let me know what you’ve done with the box and whatever’s in it by the end of the month. Alright?”

“Alright,” all the five replied in unison.

Before long, they’d all turned off in different directions to leave, and she was left with the boy standing beside her, looking up at her eagerly.

“Can we go for icecream now?” He grinned, and put his hand in hers.

“Why, of course. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Trey.”

“Well, let’s get going then, Trey.”

“I want a chocolate icecream,” he voiced decisively.

“Sure,” Miss Daintygracearnest couldn’t help but break into another amused smile as they walked hand in hand towards her car.

* * *

There was something familiar about the place where Mr Stiffellatrundle had found himself. He turned full circle, and scanned the area all around him.

He recognised the landmarks, and the shape of the roads, and the buildings. There was something surreal about it all, and there seemed to be nobody around. Or no one within sight or earshot, anyway.

Mr Stiffellatrundle started walking, turning his head left and right, trying to take in everything that was before him. Digesting and processing it as fast as his tired, sluggish brain could handle.

Out of nowhere, people began to appear. At first, they looked like mere ghosts, then the images of them became clearer and sharper to his eyes. Before long, dozens of them were in existence. They were everywhere; talking, walking, busy, engaged in life. Noise ensued. The chatter of conversation, the roar of engines of cars on the street, the pedestrians bustling to and fro about their personal business.

He knew this place somehow. He had been here before.

A voice was calling him now. He turned towards the direction of the voice. It was a lady’s voice. None other than that of his daughter’s.

“Daddy!” She exclaimed cheerily, and ran straight into his arms. The moment they embraced, Mr Stiffellatrundle felt a strange sensation. They parted, and then he looked down at himself. His clothes were different, and his hands... were not the calloused ones that he stared lately, each time he got frustrated with a disfigured piece of handiwork that he’d tried so hard to shape.

He was baffled. Extremely, completely confused.

“I’ve missed you.” The words somehow managed to escape his lips, amidst the swirl of thick emotions that was building, and almost suffocating him. He could hardly breathe.

“Me too,” she smiled at him, and took both his hands in hers.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Glimpse, A Glance, A Gaze: Part 1 of 3

*Apologies for delay in updating. Time flies. But I can't. Tired. :P

Foreword

This short trilogy is based on 3 sections, each taking on 1 of the 3 words from its title. Each section is inspired by a quote randomly chosen based on the presence of the keyword in its content. There is no plot, and the story goes wherever it wishes. :)

Acknowledgments

My special thanks to Deric for the selection of the 3 random quotes and for being a supporter of these unpolished writings.


Part I: Glimpses

"Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen."
- Anaxagoras

Mr Stiffellatrundle stared blankly into the mirror before him. He grinned half-heartedly, and watched silently as his reflection greeted him with a similar expression. Next, he raised both his arms midway, and stretched his legs apart from each other. He watched the copycat movements in front of him once more, while allowing his thoughts to race in a million directions or more.

Mr Stiffellatrundle was seriously bored. His face twisted into a grimace, and he lowered his arms. Tapping both his feet in turn, he shook his head vigorously and squinted his eyes shut for a good few minutes.

In his mind, he saw himself. But he saw differently. There was colour, there was cheer and there was vitality.

He opened his eyes reluctantly, once he could hold them shut no longer. And saw instead the pallid reality.

“Eww,” he muttered to himself, and walked off, utterly displeased with himself.

* * *

Miss Daintygracearnest tapped the pencil in her right hand lightly against the surface of the table. Before her, a huge newspaper spread – the classified ads. Among the many, she’d circled a choice few. Her eyebrows hunched together, a frown was slowly making its way onto her forehead. She needed to decide. And soon.

The telephone rang and she looked up from her insoluble task. Standing up abruptly, she stood and flitted across the hallway to lift the receiver. She picked it up on the third ring.

“Why good morning, Mr Perkyenergy! Yes... I’m still working on it... By tomorrow? Isn’t that a bit soon? Oh... hmm... Well, I’ll let you know by evening if I’ve managed to pick out a suitable candidate. Yes yes, of course. Bye.”

Miss Daintygracearnest hung up, and returned to her spread of newspapers on the table. As she sat down in her seat once more, one particular advertisement seemed to suddenly catch her eye. She leaned in to have a closer look and squinted at the text, trying to focus on what it said.

MAN, 101 YEARS OF AGE
SEEKS EMPLOYMENT
WORKS WELL WITH HANDS
SKILLED IN SCULPTURING – WOOD AND WAX

‘Nothing very unusual,’ she thought to herself. But somehow, for some unknown reason, she felt drawn to this ad compared to the rest she’d been poring over for the last few hours.

The name... somehow sounded familiar...

She picked up her pencil and drew a rectangle around that ad slowly. Then, she got up, picked up her coat and keys, and walked briskly out the front door and into the quiet streets outside.

* * *

*Note: This poem was originally written in 2 separate paragraphs, placed side by side on a page. However, due to formatting issues on this blog, I have published it with bolded letters to distinguish one paragraph from the other. These 2 sections/paragraphs of the poem may be read separately, independent of each other, or together. Take your pick ;)

What is beauty How grace beckons
An unrivalled complexion Drenched in compassion
Bathed in sunkissed shades Soaked by harsh rains of reality
Or intelligence cloaked in modesty And simplicity unrestrained
Does it diminish with each appearance Multiplying in joy
Does it manifest in greater fullness Shrinking and expanding
With each word spoken In a heartbeat
And the thoughts floated Embracing change
High on balloons Diving the depths of oceans
Up up and away Look out down below
Into vast grey skies Sunsets and sunrises
Illuminating darkness Blind wary eyes
Where there is no indecision Opportunities beckon
Does beauty linger Grace finds a friend
Or easily drain In the plains
From one to another A perfect harmony

* * *

They were heaving boxes. And in the boxes were things.
They stood in a row. The boxes were sealed. And in it were good things.
They passed the boxes one by one, and one to another.
The boxes were stacked in rows.
Each box, a surprise.
Each surprise, waiting for someone to be surprised by.

“Wait! I’ve lost count!”

The entire row of crew that had been passing boxes down the line came to an abrupt halt in operations. Pausing, they looked at each other, and at the boxes in their hands.

These were sturdy brown boxes.
Boxes without holes.
They were heavy, too.

They silently waited.
Counting the seconds.
Musing over the boxes.
Staring at one another.

Curiousity arose, the common plague.
They wondered about the boxes.

Each of the sealed, sturdy boxes needed to be counted.
Because every person counted, and the boxes needed to be enough.

The one who yelled for a temporary halt earlier was now saying,
“Okay, continue!”

So one by one,

The people. The boxes.
The people moving the boxes.
The boxes sitting quietly in their stacks.
Counting. Piling. Moving.

Moments away to a surprise.
Good things, to seal a fate.

* * *

Miss Daintygracearnest rapped impatiently at the door before her.

Was anybody home at all?

She had been standing there for a good few minutes before what was beginning to seem more and more to her like an empty house. She dug the piece of newspaper with the ad on it out from her bag again, and inspected the address for the second time. She was pretty sure this was right – this was exactly where the Mr Stiffellatrundle supposedly lived.

“Hello... Mr Stiffella... err... Stifella – “ She hastily referred to the ad again, unable to recall how to properly pronounce the name. “Mr Stiffellatrundle? Are you there?”

All of a sudden, the sound of faint footsteps. Growing louder and louder. Then, a twist of the doorknob, and before long, there stood a man right before her.

She blinked in surprise. She had almost thought no one would answer the door at all.

“Yes?” Was the gruffy reply that greeted her.

“Mr Stiffellatrundle?” She asked tentatively.

“Mmph,” he nodded as he responded in a low, quiet voice.

She gave him a cursory glance from head to toe. She was not repulsed, neither was she impressed. He was ordinary. But there was something she didn’t see but knew immediately somehow. He had something there. Between the tiny glimmer in the eyes, the protruding belly and the calloused hands. And the big smelly feet.

Somewhere, in there.
Something.

And she had an offer to make.

She opened her mouth to speak, and began.

* * *

“That’s one thousand three hundred and fifty seven boxes we have here, Mr Perkyenergy. I’ve counted them once, and then twice and then checked it thrice. And you’ll be pleased to know that they’re fresh out of the factory. Quality assured,” the man in the bright orange uniform rattled away his words chirpily, and extended a clipboard towards Mr Perkyenergy.

“Sign here?”

“Yes sir.”

“Mm hmm.” Mr Perkyenergy scribbled away his messy, almost illegible signature. “And what if the goods aren’t as effective for the reason we bought them, as per agreement? Do we get any compensation, or refund?”

“We assure you, Mr Perkyenergy, you will not regret this shipment. Start distributing the boxes to any worthy recipients of your choosing, and you’ll soon see.”

“Ah. Well. Here you go, anyway.”

The clipboard changed hands and was back in the possession of the superbly confident delivery guy. He flashed Mr Perkyenergy the most curious of smiles. It was neither warm, nor was it cold. By no means sinister, but yet there was a knowing look behind it all.

Mr Perkyenergy shook hands for the final time with the man. Then, the delivery truck, with all its orange workmen, were soon gone.

Hand on hips and deep in thought, Mr Perkyenergy had a big task before him now.

Those boxes.
Miracle?
Blessing?
That was what the manufacturers promised.
He’d need to see it to believe it.

* * *

Mr Stiffellatrundle was shaking his head, indicating a response that most would correctly interpret as a “no”.

Miss Daintygracearnest was not easily fazed. She dug in her heels, and repeated her words. Still kindly, and ever so gently.

“Mr Stiffellatrundle, we’re not asking much. All you need to do is just follow me right now, and I’ll take you to our Distribution Centre. You’ll just need to pick out one box from there, and take it with you and open it, and do with it as you please. It won’t take up much of your time, but we hope it’ll prove to be life changing and worth the effort.”

“And... wait a minute... I get paid for doing this?”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it being paid, but I’d say you’d be richly rewarded.”

“Hmm.”

“So, what’ll it be? Do we have a deal?”

“What happens after I open the box?”

“Well, that’s entirely up to you.”

“Hmm.”

Miss Daintygracearnest cast hopeful eyes at him and held her breath, waiting for that favourable reply.

“Well...” he paused, thinking it over as he ran fingers of one hand up and down his chin, “I guess... why not?”

She heaved a sigh of relief at his words, and then said, “Okay, shall we head there now, then?”

Mr Stiffellatrundle nodded, and stepped out of the doorframe to stand just next to Miss Daintygracearnest, closing and locking the front door behind him.

“Yes, let’s.”

She smiled gratefully, and led the way in front of him, pulling out her mobile phone from her bag as they went.

“Hello, Mr Perkyenergy? Yes, I have a Mr Stiffellatrundle with me. Yes, in fact, I’m heading over right now.”

* * *

Mr Perkyenergy eyed Mr Stiffellatrundle critically.

“And why did you say you chose him again? I thought you mentioned you had some criteria about fit, able bodied individuals of a youthful age that have high ambitions of life, blah blah... ” He waved his hand and frowned disdainfully at Miss Daintygracearnest as he spoke.

Mr Stiffellatrundle’s posture slumped at the hearing of those words. He caught the undertones, and he knew what was meant by them. He hung his head slightly, and began to have the growing feeling of sheepishness, for no particularly good reason.

“Well...” began Miss Daintygracearnest, who had noticed Mr Stiffellatrundle’s reaction and felt somewhat guilty for having brought him into this rather condescending situation, “we can’t just be selecting candidates based on a standard profile all the time. Besides, if we’d just struck him out of our consideration solely based on his description or our perceptions of who he is, then we might be becoming rather shortsighted, wouldn’t we? You heard his story, don’t you think he fits the bill? And now with us having met him, wouldn’t you think there’s something here worth taking a chance on?”

Mr Perkyenergy was rather surprised at Miss Daintygracearnest’s defense. She rarely spoke up much, so he figured that - whatever her reasons were – she somehow believed she had chosen the right person for their pilot run. He studied Mr Stiffellatrundle again – the clothes, the demeanour, the earnestness. He nodded slowly as he tried to digest what she had just said.

“Okay, well, I trust your judgment, Miss Daintygracearnest. And I’m so sorry, Mr Stiffellatrundle, I hope none of what we just talked about offends you. It’s just that we have limited boxes available for this first time, and we wanted to be sure it’s distributed to the appropriate persons.”

“Don't worry, Mr Perkyenergy, I completely understand. But may I ask something?”

“Yes?” Both Miss Daintygracearnest and Mr Perkyenergy said in unison.

“This isn’t exactly a job offer as I was hoping for, is it?”

Read this next: Part II: A Glance

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Trilogy Preview

It's coming. I've ideas for a mini trilogy in the works teehee.

Without over-exaggerating things, basically it'll be a short piece comprising 3 instalments - hence the trilogy title ;P

I dub it A Glimpse. A Glance, A Gaze, and it shall receive its inspiration from 3 quotes which I shall select soon.

Anticipate something later. I shall return! :)

Day #13 - Missing many days, and you too. But hopefully as I am recovering physically, so shall the consistency of writing pieces posted.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Missing :P

(to the tune of This Old Man)

This author
She's been sick
She's had no time to update
WIth a sore throat, blocked nose
Feeling tired and sleepy too
That's why nothing here is new

Hehe ;)

There'll be something new here soon. I promised fiction. I remember :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rhythm

P/s: Kindly check out Word Economy as well. It counts for Day #9 too :)

You are
As you were
Like the waterfall of words
Flowing steadily
Trickling drops of sunshine
Down the fine streams
Of evening traffic
And the rhythm to the melodies
That dance in twilight
Masquerading by day
The stories and reasons
To everything, and there
Your voice with its tones and tunes
Laughter carried on the winds
Blowing softly on them
Flags of pride and patriotism
Government and establishment
Fallen to a heap
Memories, inventories
Of things gained and lost
They cost you, and I
Would relive them
Again if you would
Be the heartbeat
To this rhythm

Day #9, extras - For Day #7, where I missed out posting something due to tiredness and rushing out test articles. Idleness breeds inspiration for this writer :) And I promise you fiction tomorrow...

Word Economy

It doesn't take many words to make a point.

Perhaps many of us don't realise this, but it's true. Often times, we say too much in order to convince others or to make ourselves understood. But really, you can say very little and yet carry your message across.

Let's consider some examples.

Candles. Cake. Wishes. Presents.

What does that make you think of? Why, a birthday party, of course.

Try this:

Eyes shut. Pillows. Lights off. Moon. Stars.

And that would be... sleeping at night.

Simple, isn't it?

So why do we labour so much on many words? Use just the minimal, by selecting the right metaphors, and be understood by everyone.

Food for thought :)

Day #9 - A little sick, but not without an active mind ;)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rain

Update via email

I looked out the window of my office building this morning, and it was raining. Not a drizzle, not a storm… but rain, nevertheless.

I watched the drops trickle down the edges of the window. The small but growing puddles accumulating on the rooftops. The leaves of the trees wriggling uncontrollably at the whims of the wind, as though being tickled by a whispered joke.

What is rain but just drops of water descending from the sky?

Yet it is a sign, a proof of providence from a God that reigns above us. It is the way that the Earth receives her nourishment, and the means by which she grows. No other human methods could probably hydrate the face of the Earth as efficiently as the rain does.

Personally, I am quite fond of the rain. It is a symbol of good things to me.

However, I realize that there are many who view rain as a negative thing. More often than not, rain is depictive of sadness or calamity in movies, songs, poems…

But just because the skies are grey and the outlook of the world clothed in momentary gloom, it does not mean that all is not going well. Rather, how about thinking of it this way instead: that the overcast sky is God’s way of telling us to slow down – even if just a little – and to remember that not everything is within our control, yet there is Someone out there who’s taking care of it all.

Day #8 - Written during my short breaks in the midst of office hours. Rainy weather has always been good climate for creative juices.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Of Juicers And Blenders

Foreword

I am SLEEPY.

However, I cannot sleep due to having to write some test articles for a part time writing job application.

But the one and only follower of this site (which is known at this moment) has asked if there'd be any updates here. Now, I promised a daily flow of written work here, so I should not disappoint. Self appointed "holidays" can only be stretched so far. Teehee.

So as an easy way out, here's one of the test articles I had worked on tonight. And if my potential employers read this, it's my ORIGINAL work, alrights? ;)


The Article

Have you ever noticed how sometimes certain things can be similar, but yet not entirely the same?

I made one such discovery recently whilst surfing online for juicer reviews. I hadn’t thought of blenders and juicers as being different all this while, but now I do.

Put simply, a blender basically liquefies the food you placed inside it. The final product is a puree-like liquid, which contains both water as well as the fibres from the blended item. As for juicers, it extracts the water content from what is fed into it; separating the liquid from the pulp as it does so. The end result is a pure liquid, without any fibre content.

You might think of it as merely a slight contrast, but it does make a rather significant distinction. In some ways, it proved to be a life lesson for me: it’s best not to assume things based on personal perception. Instead, it’s best to do the necessary research so we always get our facts straight.

(170 words)


Closing Remarks

Hmm. I think I'd still prefer fiction writing any day, if I can help it...

Day #7 - Lazyness looms ahead

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Once

I think I will not write anything today.
*self declared holiday ;P*

Day #6

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bonus: Days And Minutes

It all started with a friend telling me that my GTalk status had triggered her to start writing a poem. So I suggested why not we take turns adding lines to it (since she was stuck) and see what comes out.

So this is the final result:

DAYS AND MINUTES
by Anna Tan and Susanna Khoo

the days, they fly
but the minutes, they crawl
i try to climb high
but it's easier to fall

into comforts familiar
down these winding steps
onto these well-worn pathways
into familiar traps

yet on the horizon a glimmer
a wish, a hope, a dream
the days have flown by
still, no nearer it seems

time, please stop
do not eat me away
these fragile thoughts
should not be your prey

all i have, precious
jewels that i harbour
all i ask is another
second, minute, hour

to love, live, pray and give
to put my words in song
to remember all the good
to take back all the wrong

the minutes, they crawl
yet as ever they speed by
and as everything piles
again we wonder why

the days, they fly
by me, still unaware
yet there's time to amend
if i would just stop to care

Hehehe... you like? :)

Gifts and talents multiply in magic when there's collaboration. If anyone's reading this, I hope it inspires you to rally a few friends and work on something together ;)

Collaboration does not alter the focus of the limelight, but rather, expands the reach of its rays. :)

Day #5, on extended play :P

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sound, Noise

You don’t hear it, but there is a sound. It is a hard, loud plunk of something at the back of your mind, in the middle of my heart. It is quiet, but it is there. It casts its long, creepy shadows when none of us are watching, and whispers tunes in the cold night air. It is alive. It thrives – on the words we utter, on the steps we take. Up the creaky stairs. Down the noisy lanes of buses, trucks, cars and trains. Everywhere and anywhere, all at once. Once in awhile, something catches you firmly enough to leave its mark. And then you cannot part with what you knew. The things you leave behind and what you cannot forget, even with the passing of time. Blind. But ignorance cannot forever be pleaded. I hear it and it makes a noise. It crashes, and splinters into a million pieces at the bottom of the precipice. Sit. Still. For. Awhile. Piles and piles of memories, heightening to the mountaintops of lean dreams. You sing. And I pretend to believe everything. All the words meld into one. Only the moon, not a glimpse of the sun. Sons, daughters, learning from rhyme. Screaming, sculpting monuments of glass. Slipper. Slippery paths. Iron fists that thump on the tables of providence. Logic. Nonsense. You almost hear it, but then it slithers away.

Day #5 - Freestyle, because my mind is wandering and bordering on the melancholic.

Colours

“Mr. Paint Man, draw me a picture please.” The girl pleaded in a sweet, tiny voice.

He stopped short with his roller brush midway across the large wall. There goes the momentum. For a moment, he contemplated being annoyed at having his work interrupted. But that was only for the split second until he his gaze met hers.

There was a sadness about her, somehow. Perhaps it was in her eyes. They looked somewhat misty, and her voice cracked a little when she spoke.

“What kind of picture would you like?”

The girl beamed at the question, but shrugged in reply.

“You don’t know?”

“Something beautiful,” was all she could suggest.

He bent down and picked up a small paintbrush. He paused for a moment, realizing that he had no canvas to paint on. Not that it was a surprise, really. He wasn’t an artist, anyway. What’s worse, he only had two different colours of paint on hand. How that would amuse the girl at all, he really didn’t know.

He looked around. But there was no surface he could easily make use of to draw on. There was the wall, which was out of the question. Besides that, there was only the floor. He tapped his foot repeatedly on the cold hard surface as he contemplated it.

The girl gazed up expectantly at him, her big round eyes hopeful. There was no way he could’ve excused her request away.

So, he took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to imagine a picture in his mind’s eye. Then, he dipped his paintbrush into one of the cans, and began.

“It’s lovely!” The girl squealed moments later, once he was done with his feeble attempts at drawing something.

“It is?” He doubted that, but if at the very least it amused her or made her happier than she had been when she’d first spoken to him, it would be good enough. Suddenly feeling rather self-conscious, he glanced about nervously, praying hard that no one else would walk their way and see the mess he’d created. He’d have to think of how to get the paint out later…

Her face lit up in delight as she bent down and fingered the strokes of paint on the floor. She seemed to find some comfort in his silly little piece of art, for whatever reason. Her eyes narrowed as she traced the outlines of the shapes and figures in his picture.

Suddenly, she began to cry.

It was so silent that he wouldn’t have known at all, had it not been for the tears that were noticeably falling from her face. He stared at her bewildered, uncertain what it was all about.

“Tell me what colours they are,” she said in a calm, rather quiet tone.

He knelt by her side, stunned momentarily by the thought that had just occurred to him.

Then, he described the most lavish spectrum of colours that anyone could’ve ever heard of. He even told a story of the characters in his painting and how they lived in a wonderful world with dozens of hues, shades and tints.

She sat listening intently to his every word, eventually drying her eyes.

Then, she smiled.

Day#4 - Inspired by the advertisement on the overhead bridge at Kelana Jaya LRT station

Skipped

Day #3: Skipped a day of writing. Blah. Well, I'l try my best to keep up wherever I can. :P

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Found

if only, to be found
for reasons to sing
to alter anticipated passages of time
rhyme, to fill out songs
anthems, enthralling the world
to join in and sing along
not to hide, but to try
with linked hands and hearts
muster courage to fight
not permitting the things that matter to pass
or die
minutes, hours, days, years
the moments they fly
yet sometimes, time, stands still waiting
creating a scene, propagating the means
did you notice, feel or find anything
because what falls to abeyance
sooner or later, irretrievable
would only be lost

Day #2 - albeit late, thanks to the author falling asleep

Monday, July 13, 2009

Just Is

It isn’t right.

What isn’t?

What they’re asking me to do.

And so you won’t do it, right?

Well, yes.
Maybe.
But then again, it may not be much of a choice for me.

But you can decide not to.
If you want, that is.
Nobody would blame you.

No.
Maybe they wouldn’t.
But I might blame myself.

So what will you do then?

I don’t know.
What would you do?

Hmm.

Yeah.
You see now?

I understand what you’re saying, of course.

That’s good to know.

So, it’s like this. I’m giving myself 24 hours.

And then?

And then, I do what I need to do.

You know, people always think what they want to.
What you do doesn’t really change who you are.

Yeah.
But the thing is, people tend to just look at what you do most of the time.
Or… didn’t do.

True.
But you know, I’m sure you’ll do the right thing.

Right is subjective.

So it is.
And so is justice.

* * *

Okay, I’m gonna do it.

You sure this time?

Yeah. I’ve done my 24 hours thing.

And what happened in that 24 hours that made you so sure?

I thought about it.

And?

Then I came to a point of feeling alright about it.

And that is because…?

I thought of what she might have done.
Had she been here.

And why does what she would have done have anything to do with you anymore?

Because I heard her speak.

You what?
When was the last time–

Trust me. I did.
I was just doing the usual grocery thing, then I don’t know why, I felt compelled to stop at the park on the way home. Something about the air. The pitch of the whistling wind, blowing through the trees or something…

Now you’re starting to sound creepy.
What? You saw her ghost?

No.
Well.
Yes.
Well.
Not exactly.
Besides, I don’t believe in ghosts.

Well–

So I just walked right up to the middle of the park. And there was this huge, empty space. And I just lay down there on the grass, and stared up at the sky. The sun was too bright, and I had to cover my eyes. And as I did, suddenly, I heard her voice. It was as if she was just next to me, whispering into my ear.

Mmm. Right…
And what did she say anyway?

She said: I’ll race you to the end.

Err. And that means what, exactly?

She would’ve gone down this very same path I’m taking.
And, she would’ve done what I’m about to do much sooner.

Hmm.
And hearing some mysterious whisper suddenly motivates you to decide this?

Well… yeah.
I just needed to know, somehow, that she would’ve done the exact same thing.

And now you know?

I know inside in a way that I think is hard to explain.

Well, I’m trying my best to keep up, you know?

Haha well, you have always been a good friend.
Best I ever had, I’d wager.

Thanks.

You sound like you don’t believe it?

Sometimes.

Well, like you said, what you are doesn’t change.

That’s not exactly what I meant!

Ah, anyway, I need to go now.
I really need to settle this.

Wait.

What?

You really sure about this?

Yup.

And what makes you think what she says is right?

It just is.

* * *

Hey.

Hey there, stranger.

How’d it go?

I… I’m not sure.
But I did what I needed to do.

You okay?

No.

Anything I can do?

Not really.
And, you know… she came, alright.

You’re kidding me.

No, she was really there, I tell you!

Here we go again…
And she what? Applauded you for a job well done?

She cried.

But didn’t you say she would’ve wanted this?

Yeah, she did… does…. I believe.
But it’s like I knew it was wrong.
And so did she.

And you saw this coming but went ahead and did it anyway?

Well, I told you, I felt it was the thing to do.

And so now? Now what?
You feel the peace you had wanted so much?

Yes.
And yet, no.

Huh?!

This is my last time. The last time I will come here.
I will not pass this way again.

Hey, you’re starting to sound creepy again, my friend.
Just what exactly are you talking about?

I came to say goodbye.

What do you mean goodbye?

To everything.
So everything can go back to normal again.

I don’t–
Wait a minute… so you didn’t…?

No.
But I can’t stick around any longer.
Because the thought of not doing what I should have done when I could have done it might be enough to actually kill me.
You understand?

I think.

Thanks for always being a friend.
I’ll remember you.

Well, for the right reasons, I hope.
And what about justice?

Justice isn’t always fair.

And yet, they say life is beautiful, you know?

Well, it just is.

Day#1

A Post A Day

From here onwards comes the revamp. And hopefully this resolution sticks.

The Challenge

  1. Write a short piece everday - could be a story, script, abstract piece, poem, etc
  2. Length should be at least one page in MS Word (single line spacing)
  3. Try to vary the topics as much as possible - one day different from the next

Well, let's just see where this goes ;)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Truth

Long ago, I once had a blog called The Veritas Project. Veritas means truth. And truth, I believe, is the essence of really good blogging. You see, I've always believed in the sharing of the human experience. Of how what we've been through serves to encourage someone else. And that only can happen when we quite candidly open up and share about what we've gone through.

Trouble is, after awhile, this gets pretty hard. I used to be one of those bloggers who could be super honest about how I felt on my blog, and would tell at great length about some current challenge I was facing, or some battle I was waging - emotionally, mentally or what have you.

And those were the good old days when I was but a teenager, and felt so much more freedom for expression and other such liberal beliefs which we cling to when we're younger.

But now I find myself having such difficulty to come clean with what is really going on my head and life. In particular, the private life. Which is probably why this blog hasn't really been updated for some time.

I intended for this to be a place where I'd share my life stories for whosoever who fancies reading it, with the hopes of it being some kind of a blessing or something. Eventually if the posts were bulky enough in number I had desired to perhaps even convert it into a book. Yet the more I think of it, the more trivial my life experiences seem to be compared to the stuff I observe around me happening in others. And it seems pointless - like a huge masquerade just to legally publish and promote myself and my life.

And so I question again my purpose for opening this blog, and the many others like it (from times past). Is it for vanity? Blogging is so much about self - about getting noticed, about publicising your life for all the world to see. How in fact is it others-centred? God glorifying? I probably have lost count how many blogs I've started and then neglected, for the sheer reason that I cannot pinpoint its direction nor the truly noble purpose for which it was begun. Yes, it's a point of connecting to peers, a way to give others a peek into your life. But what really do we hope to achieve?

Writing-wise, I have not been churning out much of worth lately, and it's hard to tell if this is a pattern to be broken in the near future or not. I guess the verdict for now is that this blog stays open, and I will on occasion update it with some thoughts or perhaps a gem or two from my writing attempts... should there be anything readworthy.

It's just crowding cyberspace with more redundant words and webpages, unless you've something worth saying, and then the courage to tell it passionately.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ambition

I heard it said once that stuff you liked to do as a kid was an indication of what you should be when you grow up.

Well, if that were true, I guess I should've ended up as either a teacher or a writer. I remember pocketing chalk pieces from my school classroom and then taking them home and writing with it on my grandmother's bedroom wall as I pretended to teach an imaginary class. I even came up with mock exercises and wrote them in exercise books. For the writing ambition bit, I wrote stories, complete with illustrations and even attempted writing a film script in Standard 6*.

But as most life stories go, where we end up eventually can sometimes divert so far from what we initially intended or hoped.

I am now a Programmer by profession.

Quite a different skill set and job orientation as compared to what my so-called ambitions were as a child. In fact, looking back, I'd sifted through an entire spectrum of possibilities: everything from nutritionist, to singer/performer/actor, accountant, philosopher, inventor, you name it.

What does that say about who we are? Or what we become? Is the diversion evidence of an internal change of personality or preference, or is it merely a resignation to the convenient, a conforming to what is deemed as a respectable job?

Now and then I catch myself asking these questions. This being coupled by the fact that my generation is often criticised by our elders for being spoilt for choice as far as career opportunities and selection is concerned. But the truth of the matter is, in fact, that indecision plagues most of us, even in the midst of all these harboured dreams and their supposedly ample possibilities. There is this battle between settling for what is attainable, acceptable and normal, in contrast to what is desired and perhaps, a less than noble or useful career in the eyes of, say, our parents or teachers.

Well, at the end of the day, a job is sought for the earning of income. But since such a huge fraction of our time is spent on working alone, shouldn't we at least seek to find that which we are comfortable with or enjoy doing? To lessen the arduous task of keeping the career going in the long run, that is. But the world is not always kind. The most tender of dreams are often trampled underfoot in the midst of the business of daily living.

What of the kids who dreamed of being Prime Minister but only one did actually attain it? Or maybe that particular one hadn't even desired it in the first place? What if we were to all swap roles and make a beeline for the job we were meant to do instead of that which we do? How would the world change, I wonder?

Maybe, just maybe... the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of nations may sustain even better than they do presently. And perhaps the day may come where all children really do live to see their ambitions fulfilled, because society finally grasps the true meaning of a job being a right fit.

*Final year of Primary School in Malaysia

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The M Word

If you're anything like me, you find yourself every so often in this last minute dilemma of what to do or what to buy a certain loved one in your life. This is a common situation that crops up on birthdays, anniversaries, engagements and, of course... those special days designated to celebrate those important people in our lives. For instance, Mother's Day.

Now, don't get me wrong, I've nothing against earmarking particular days in the year for such purposes. But the implication of the entire concept is that every child needs to find a way to condense the gratitude they feel towards their mothers all into just one day.

There's the problem right there.

It's quite a task to do, really. Because, for those of us with good mothers, we find that the debt we owe them is far too great to be encompassed in just one present or just one meal. Hence, the awful pangs of panic and guilt that seize you as you comb endlessly through your mind on what would adequately express the thanks due to her.

Well, I got my Mum a gift like what most people do, but somehow, it still did not feel good enough. So me and my sister hatched another plan: to cook Mum a dinner on Mother's Day.

Despite both of us being much older now and armed with the basic skills and logic of cookery, we rarely practice our culinary talents. This is because we have such a great cook for a mother, and it's hard to practice your meagre skills in front of such a master.

But the season had called for it, and we were up for the challenge. And so on the evening of Mother's Day itself, we set off with two printed recipes plucked off the Internet in hand and prepared for the journey into the wilderness.

One of our first challenges was finding the correct ingredients. My sister had picked out a lovely looking dessert recipe, but unfortunately it required something called Ricotta, which both of us were totally clueless about. One shop and 2 supermarkets later, we still hadn't located the illusive Ricotta, and gave up, resorting to an alternative ingredient. Improvise was the name of the game. I'm sure Mum would've been proud, had she been also there shopping together with us. In fact, I could imagine her making the same decisions too... well, sort of, anyway.

Other challenges we faced was estimating the correct quantity for each required ingredient. How many cans? How many pieces? And the amazing thing about the recipe I picked out for the main course was that it didn't indicate at all how much was needed. Hence, the need to decide on a suitable amount. Our tactic was to overbuy, since it was better than to come up short.

We took longer shopping for ingredients than expected. We even walked by certain sections in the supermarket several times, just because we couldn't find what we were looking for. We also thought of a extra useful things to buy along the way. I remember remarking to my sister during our little mission, "Now I know why Mum takes ages in the supermarket."

After all the purchases had been made, there came the even greater challenge of the food making process itself. Simple things like what size to shred a vegetable, or when the rice in the pot is wet or cooked enough can be tough decisions to make, if you've not been accustomed to such things. Cooking is just as much an art as it is a science, and it was indeed baffling.

But after all the fretting and efforts needed, me and my sister finally served up a respectable little dinner, much to the utter delight of our Mum.

And more than just another culinary accomplishment under our belt, I felt that I had slipped into my Mum's private world for just a little while, and understood somewhat better the perils of shopping for the home and cooking for the needs of others. Our Mother's Day feat turned out a valuable lesson to me, and I realise this: more than finding a perfect gift for your Mum, the even better thing to do for her would be to take time out to make her happy and to attempt in whatever ways you can to understand her world.

And if we made that part of our daily habits, perhaps we wouldn't feel all flustered and guilty each time Mother's Day rolls around the corner.

* * *

A good book to read to get in the mood for Mother's Day would be Mitch Albom's For One More Day. I gurantee you, it'll make you appreciate your Mother more :)

"Mom."

It’s just a sound really, a hum interrupted by open lips. But there are a zillion words on this planet, and not one of them comes out of your mouth the way that one does.

- Mitch Albom in For One More Day

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grandiose

Sometimes the things we fancy, we don't or can't necessarily own.

I've never owned a Grand Piano1 before. Though, of course, if ever I owned my own living space and it was accomodating enough in size, plus my financial circumstances permitted such spendings at the time, I'd definitely purchase one.

I guess you wouldn't really appreciate the difference unless you've played on one before. An Upright Piano doesn't quite cut it. A Baby Grand is a compromise of sorts, and is somewhat acceptable for a season, I suppose.

But nothing can beat the Grand Piano itself.

Yet, in spite of never owning one, I'm proud to say that I've played a Grand Piano before on various occasions. Well, there were numerous situations which allowed me the honour, but I think the most memorable times I've played it was at the piano showrooms at Yamaha Music School.

Those were times when I had to wait for my sister to finish her Junior Music Course class for the day. Glancing through piano books that were on sale would be amusing for awhile, but you can't really sustain your interest for very long just gazing at pages and pages of manuscript in itself.

Then, one fine day - and I can't really recall how it happened or even who suggested it - I landed a chance to try out the pianos in the Piano Showroom (basically, it's a room where they housed all the different Yamaha pianos/keyboards for would-be buyers to test them out). And if my memory does not deceive me, I believe I pulled in a book or two off the music book stands and tried my hands out on them right there and then at the piano.

And there, amidst all the many types of keyboards and pianos stood the Grand Piano... waiting to be played. So play it I did. In fact, I did it more than once. And I did this at two different Yamaha music centres, even.

In my opinion, there's nothing like the sound of making music with the piano in an empty, acoustically approving room. I haven't done this in many years, but I still remember the feeling. The elation. The satisfaction, albeit only for some moments. After all, the piano isn't mine, and you can't always keep playing there for as long as you like. Initially, I was a bit self-conscious about how I sounded, or if others would hear what I played. But well, I came to recognise those times as good fortune that I should appreciate and make the best of. After all, such occasions didn't come often enough.

Looking back at those moments, I guess I'd say that in life, although you may not always have what you desire, sometimes there's this middle ground that you may chance to find. A privilege to live a part of your dream, albeit perhaps only momentarily. An opportunity meant to be seized, and definitely savoured.

Play the Grand Pianos life presents you. We may not get exactly what we want all the time, but we can make the best of whatever God affords us. And when we do, we may find out that our lives are really richer than we realise, after all.

1 Can't tell the difference between an Upright or a Grand Piano? Learn more about types of pianos here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sizing Things Up

My shoes are a Size Seven. They’re not so big, but I suppose, at the same time, they’re not too small either. Of course, maybe a Size Six might be easier to shop for, but I’m happy with my Size Seven. It’s perfect.

Sometimes I wish my life were a Size Seven. That everything would fit together perfectly, and even when things got hairy, there’d always be a time where all the loose ends would slip neatly together again and somehow, I’d make sense of it all.

But like my Mum is always telling me, life doesn’t come to you in nice, neat little packages. So I guess, it’s either we stubbornly cling to oversized expectations despite the limitations of life, or we change the way we live to accommodate the unpredictable bundle of experiences that life throws us.

I guess most days I still cling to a Size Seven mentality. I suppose that’s one of my greatest follies.