Friday, October 29, 2010

Doggonemad part 2

* Continued from a previous post: Doggonemad

  1. 1st revision: 29 October 2010

"I'm feeling a little under the weather," I groan to the voice on the other end of the line. "I think I need the day off. I'll probably head to the doctor's after this."

The thought that I am lying through my teeth came to mind. Though I had to wonder, even at that moment, how teeth could have anything to do with that.

Perhaps it was like having bits of vegetables stuck between your front teeth. There'd be all these horrid bits of green protruding outwards so clearly for all to see even whilst you continually denied that any were embedded there in the first place.

"It's all your fault!" I exclaim reproachfully whilst casting dirty looks at the dog.

The canine's mouth was open with his lips pulled back just enough for me to see glimpses of his teeth. He looked like he was smiling.

"Yes, yes, I know. What's new? Anyway, can we get on with this?" Hans scampers across the hallway and neatly gathers up his leash in his mouth and trots back promptly to where I am standing.

I stare at him quizzically as I grab the leash from him. I still have trouble believing this furball can talk in plain English. And that he possesses such advanced thinking skills.


"Oh, get on with it," barks Hans, sitting himself down right in front of me, nuzzling my hands to quickly put the leash on him.

"Mmm," I mutter half reluctantly, but before I know it, we're out the door. The dog's the one who's taking me for a walk this time. Or maybe it's more like a run.

"Would you please slow down?" I screech through gritted teeth as we fly across bushes and flowerpots, jogging paths and pedestrian crossings.

"We don't have the luxury of time. Any moment now, the clues might get swept off or buried away and then we'll never find them and you'll never believe me."

"Why wouldn't I? After all, you can talk," I mumble somewhat sarcastically as I scarcely avoid colliding with a tree as we whizzed past.

Hans is in a zone of his own by now. He doesn't seem to have heard my last sentence. His head is bent low with his nose to the ground, and he busies himself searching for some specific scent that I know nothing of.

"Do I get any explanations yet?"

Hans looks up between sniffs and turns back to reply me, "Just a second, we're getting close now."

I sigh and nearly trip on a large stone at the same time. He had better have a good reason for having dragged me out all this way.

Not to mention the fake illness that I would have to conjure when I finally did make that trip to the doctor's in hopes of a medical chit that can explain away my absence at work today.

"Look," Hans says suddenly and I fix my gaze in the direction where his nose is pointing.

"Uhh.. it's a cat?" The disinterestedness in my voice was crystal clear. "You made me come out all this way for a cat?"

"Sshh!" Hans reprimanded me in a hushed tone. "We've got to follow her."

My movements are careful and calculated now as we tail behind the feline. Anyhow, she didn't appear to have seen us.

Hans speaks up again as soon as we hide behind the shadows of some nearby trees.

"It's your grandma..." He begins.

"What about my grandma? She's dead, you know."

"Yeah, of course I know. That sneaky cat over there was her cat."

I frown for a moment as I try to recall.

"Oh, and this interests me like, how?"

"The cat killed your grandma," Hans said grimly.

I stared at him in disbelief. How on Earth could a canine mind have deduced that?

"And what makes you say so?"

"She had a heart attack, didn't she?"

"Well, yes but-"

"Yes, and that cat had something to do with it. Your sweet old grandma had been in the pink of health before. I don't think it's common for you humans to drop dead suddenly when you're not in the least sick or something, right?"

"Well... yeah..." I admitted, still trying to digest these new pieces of information Hans was feeding me with. "So what do you propose we do now?"

"The cats are up to no good. It's not just your grandma that this feline was out to murder. She and the others like her have something bigger in mind. We need to find out what that is about before it's too late."

And that was how my hatred for cats began.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I will be gainfully employed again soon. It's a mixed bag of feelings. 

Frankly speaking, I hate the thought of having my time and energy being subject to someone else's control. Call me a control freak. Or a stingy, selfish brat. But I have come to resent this very necessary part of being an employee. I'd rather head off and do my own thing and earn money in my own way, on my own terms.

But maybe it's not time yet. I don't know.

In any case, I suppose I should not complain. Apparently there are people in this nation who have difficulty finding jobs. Now that one really baffles me. There are only two possibilities for this:

  1. The person concerned is extremely picky about which jobs he/she will apply for, and may even outright reject those that are not up to his/her standards
  2. The person is not qualified enough for the kinds of jobs he/she is applying for

There are many practical ways to overcome both these problems, but then again a lot depends on the person in question. 

But if you ask me, I'd say there are plenty of jobs existing in Malaysia right now. Just take a look at Jobstreet, or even the classifieds section of your daily newspaper. There is undeniably an abundance of vacancies in just about every industry. 

I've been unemployed for less than a month, and have in fact attended a few interviews before finally deciding to accept an offer that was made to me. 

Besides my own experience, another friend of mine recently quit his job as well, and he has already been employed by another organisation - not long after having left his previous job.  

So, if any of you are hunting for a new job out there, take heart. There are employers out there who would be dying to have you on their payroll, as long as you're willing to prove to them that you're worth it. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toilet terrors

I was at a public toilet in a petrol station in Mutiara Damansara yesterday when I was greeted by the following words on the door of the toilet stall:

$ One night stand $
Bernie Lim

I was somewhat appalled yet intrigued by this haphazard advertisement.

Are there really people out there who are that desperate that they would randomly call a number they found sprawled on the bathroom walls for a night of fun? Hmm. I always thought one night stands were committed because of that irresistable chick or hunk that you chanced to meet at the pub or club or err... wherever. Not by contacting some unknown person whose number you got off the toilet door.

There was this other thought that crossed my mind too: did Mr. Lim actually bother to go through the trouble of visiting the Ladies' just to scribble his little advertisement on the toilet door? And if he had encountered a lady or two in the washroom at that time, would he have tried to work his charms on them in the hopes they just might be so mesmerised as to agree to sleep with him? Or worst still, did one of his present or past clients happily agree to help him put the writing on the door? Eww. All of these possibilities sound gross to me. Anyway, go figure.

Another side of the coin to this is the sad feeling that there really are Malaysians who are so hungry for sex that they would even be willing to indulge in it with a complete stranger. Either that, or they're so keen to make an easy buck that they are completely comfortable with the thought of prostituting themselves. How is this a good reflection of where our nation is headed?

If you will note with me for but a brief moment the state of most developed nations: can you confidently say that crime rates are any lower in such countries as compared to others? Or might it even be... I dread to say it... much higher, even? And yet the aspirations of most developing nations is to head towards becoming developed. But what does being developed mean? Does it mean that the social and financial divide between the very rich and the very poor should be allowed to widen further? Surely the logical answer is "no", but is this what actually what takes place in reality?

Just thoughts, that's what all this is. It's how my brain works - shooting off with a gazillion possibilities in mind for whatever enigmatic reason you can muster.

In any case, I hope some member of the cleaning crew wipes off that advertisement from the toilet door soon. And more than that, I hope Mr. Lim finds something more constructive to do in his spare time.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Breaking (into) news

[At 2.15 pm today]

I just got home from an interview at a famous local newspaper publisher awhile ago, and am still recovering from the experience. No, it wasn't a nasty encounter, but nevertheless, interviews demand a lot more ardour than usual and have the tendency to deplete your energy level at rather alarming rates.

As expected, I was required to sit for a test which lasted for an hour. Writing was definitely one of the skills that was being evaluated (after all, I was applying to become one of their journalists), along with some general knowledge on the business world (in line with the kind of publications which I would potentially write for). 

The interview that followed immediately afterwards was with two of their editors, and much to my relief, it was quite an informal chat and not one that was too intimidating (although the longer it went on, the more I felt increasingly restless, especially at the point where one of them says to me, "It's a bit intimidating, isn't it?" What an adverse psychological effect that produces).

The outlook of a career as a journalist certainly is quite different from what I'm used to. Having done freelance stints for a considerable stretch of time, the flexibility it offers is quite lovely (although the earnings are meagre and cannot really sustain you) and somewhat hard to give up. 

Another thing, writing for periodicals such as magazines poses other kinds of demands on you. For one thing, you are often afforded longer periods of time for the entire research and writing process, and perhaps landed with a bigger word count. Topics may vary widely, and more often than not, you're blind as a bat with regards to knowledge and foresight about the subject matter at the first instance when you're just starting work on a particular assignment.

From my current viewpoint, journalism appears to be a more specialised field, and you basically write stuff within a given turf. I suppose in that sense you can speak in greater length and depth about what you write on, and growing experience would dictate that your commentary is valid and your opinions well founded.

I'm not sure which side of the fence I will end up on yet, but hey, I can do features. And I've done press releases before. And blog posts. And citations. And whatever-else-you-want-to-throw-at-me. If it's about the text, name the topic and I'll flourish you with an article. Well, at least that's how I hope I come across. Hmm.

At the back of my mind now is that blog post I need to revise for that boss I freelance for. And the house chores I haven't done. Being without a job doesn't necessarily mean you're actually free. There is really so much to do. In fact, even if I were to just concentrate on finishing my house chores alone, I think there'd be enough to keep me occupied for quite some time. (Only finance-wise I'd be suffering and soon become a pauper, more or less).

Ah, I'm rambling. I guess I should stop here until the next time when I have something more productive to say. 

Good day everyone.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Just for now, can I be permitted to bask a little in my own glory a little? Just for one teensy moment?

The reason for that is that I am excited. Very excited, if you must know.

Just a little over a year ago, I began the arduous task of taking on silly, tiny, peanut-paying freelance jobs in order to kickstart a career in writing. Since that time right up to the present day, I've written on everything from kitchen mixers to foam mattresses, selecting car insurance to repaying loans and credit cards, detox products, studying in France and even profiles of famous personalities.

And in the midst of all these fantastically bizarre writing episodes, I've earned a little bit of credibility. And with that, coupled with God's merciful graciousness towards my efforts, I have been privileged to attend quite a number of interviews and land a job as a writer.

Even now as I write, despite having recently quit my job, I have new opportunities opening up and it's got me excited.

I hope this doesn't bore you too much, my dear readers, or that I don't sound a tad too full of myself.

But for me, this is nothing short of amazing. For an Accounting and IT graduate who has absolutely nothing on her education certificates to showcase her capabilities as a wordsmith except the fact that she knows she can and she can prove it, this is absolutely amazing.

It just goes to show that, God willing, with an ounce (or more) of determination and some effort on your part, it IS possible to:

  1. Switch careers to something totally unrelated to what you had been doing previously
  2. Make something you love doing into your career
  3. Get recognised for being good at it

I really feel this is a story worth telling. Perhaps someday I will write this down into a book or something. It is something I wish everyone out there knew.

To anyone who's taking the path less travelled, or anyone who's contemplating that leap of faith, I'd say go for it! :)

Perhaps you may not know where you'll end up. Maybe you'll get rejected or belittled once or twice. But at the end of the day, you'll get there. And then you'll look back and reminisce, and realise that it was truly worth it all.

*     *     *

Read my current collection of Receipt Stories and Like them! ;)

The write way


A dream, living

He and I

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Writing prompt:

One day you wake up to find your dog/cat waiting for you at the side of your bed, sitting on your briefcase. Cocking its head, it tells you, in perfect English, that you won’t be going to work today. Why won’t your pet let you go to work, and what happens?

  1. 1st revision: 29 October 2010

“Hans, what are you doing sitting on my laptop bag?” I blurt out loud on a reflex, perfectly aware that my loving and devoted German Shepherd probably would not understand a word of what I had just said. 

The huge furry pooch just kept on staring at me, panting noisily with his tongue jutting out and his eyes looking directly into mine. That cute look. Dogs always give this ridiculously cute look that somehow ends up convincing you to give them what they want.

“Off boy, off!” I command Hans in my most stern voice.

Only that I am not good at giving commands, and the reaction I solicit from the canine is merely a momentary pause in his panting, during which he cocks his head to one side and continues to gaze at me in a somewhat wise looking way.

As I sit up and attempt to reach out my hand to pull the laptop bag up from beneath the weight of my stubborn pet, an unfamiliar voice suddenly says to me, “You’re not going to work today, Susanna.”

Puzzled at the existence of this voice, I look up quickly and scan the entire bedroom. As far as I remembered, it was only me and the furball that were here.

“Who’s there?” I squeak tentatively.

I feel the wet nose of my dog nudging my elbow.

“It’s me, silly,” comes the voice again, and this time I turn my attention to Hans and realise that it is in fact him that is speaking.

I shrink back slightly, retreating towards the other side of my bed. I must be dreaming. My dog is speaking English to me.

“You can talk,” I utter incredulously.

“Dogs aren’t that dumb you know,” comes the voice again, and this time I note that the words really were coming straight from the mutt’s lips.

Hmm. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? I own a talking dog.

 “Since when do you talk?”

“Since you’ve been ignoring me over the last few months and my only entertainment has been the evening news. They speak pretty good English in their broadcasts, you know.”

I felt a tinge of guilt growing the moment I heard him say that. Well, yes, I was sort of guilty for having sidelined Hans lately. What could I do? Life was throwing all sorts of nonsense at me, and I was trying my hardest to deal with it. The last thing I had on my mind was making sure my dog was well entertained. I fed him and gave him a comfy place to stay, didn’t I? Surely petting him several times each day should cover it?

Yet, based on the current feedback I was hearing, apparently it was not.

But hey, I’m the owner here, aren’t I?

I crossed my arms impatiently.

“Alright, mutt, so you can speak English. And why should that be such a good reason for you to stop me from going to work?”

“Because,” Hans replies calmly, “I know things you don’t know.”

“Like what?” I mutter in disbelief. “Would you get on with it? I’m going to be late.”

“You don’t understand, do you?” Hans growls and bares his teeth to me.

“Well make me understand then.”

“Take me for a walk and let me lead you. I’ll show you what I mean.”

“Whatever for– ”

“Trust me,” Hans reassures me, and grabs my left arm in his mouth whilst he drags me out of bed.

I groan, but comply. They say German Shepherds are a clever lot. I suppose I’m about to find out just how true that is.

* Continued here: Doggonemad part 2

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Space and time, things that hurt, heal, warm the soul and rhyme

I am relatively free these days.

The reason for this is that I am out of a job - I recently left my last employer due to some sticky issues that I foresaw would not be likely be resolved. Sounds rather vague, doesn't it? Well, as the wise ones say, don't complain about your job online, and especially not on your blog. Thus, I will not do so.

In any case, I freelance fully yet again, ladies and gentlemen ('till such a time that I have full time/part time job offers again). Have you any need of a writer? *puts on a wide, convincing grin*

Frankly speaking, I feel a wave of laziness that is getting increasingly hard to shake off. Earning a living is rather hard work. And although writing is my forte, the truth of the matter is you don't always get to write on the topics you love AND get paid at the same time. It's a rare occurrence, trust me.

Perhaps in this temporary period of freedom, I shall blog more. Let you in on my thoughts and fears and what nots. After all, it takes skill to be gracefully unemployed. 

Now please excuse me whilst I go out to wash my laundry. Hehe.

Shifting seasons

It always begins with discontent.

A tiny gnawing at the edge of your nerves. The inexplainable restlessness that plagues you every few hours. A repetitive questioning, a series of self-contemplations on the meaning of life and whether or not the things you've been investing a significant amount of your time and energy into are really worth the sacrifices you make.

It is in these uncomfortable moments that an impetus for change surfaces. But then comes the crucial bit: the decision on whether something should be done or not.

In that choice lies the possibilities of improvement, deterioration or stagnation. Which of the three becomes a reality really depends on what action is taken. Or isn't.

Whatever the case may be, at the end of it all, we have only ourselves to blame for the outcomes that befall us. But conventional wisdom does dictate: you cannot expect a different result if you keep doing the same things.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Slick, not slack

If you had imagined I'd been slacking, think again, dear readers.

Despite the apparent lack of posts for some time, this writer has been very much busy. If not writing, then reading, lazing about or hanging out with family, friends or the boyfriend.

And of course, daydreaming, the healthy hobby of all good writers.

In any case, I am happy to report that with the absolutely marvellous weather that Petaling Jaya has been enjoying lately (read: rainy), it's no surprise that I've regained some creative juices at long last.

For the ignorant ones, I am a full time writer who writes mostly business/non-fiction stuff for my day job. Boohoo. More often than not, this results in the creative tendencies of my brain getting quashed to make room for the logical and commonplace.

But my heart has always been sold to fiction and poetry.

Yet honestly, in the typically harsh, no-nonsense culture of every day life, it's easy to sideline these seemingly insignificant forms of creative writing (honestly, what has the world come to?). Such is the difficulty that out-of-the-box ideas are getting harder to come by these days.

But let's hope that all changes sometime soon :)

And now, a little summary for you of what's been up my sleeves of late.

Been toying with ideas for a full length book (whatever that means hoho). I've the basic ideas, but still lots of gaps in between what I envision will be the finished product, and what it currently is. Have already thrown out the few pages I started for what was to be the first draft, and have begun writing it again from scratch. Where this leads to, and whether I will finish... that remains to be seen.

I decided to participate in Book Xcess' Receipt Stories competition. Sounds simple enough. Submit multiple entries of 100 words or less and hope to be noticed. Because if you do get discovered, you'll be a winner and will have the chance to see your story printed on Book Xcess receipts. What a cool concept! Here's my initial entry: He and I. Do give it a read. If you dare, that is.

I also wrote a children's story today. I feel rather proud of that one. I've wanted to get one out for ages, but there hadn't been any inspiration. Sad to admit, really, but being an adult does hinder you from hatching whimsical, fantastic storylines that are beyond the realm of the ordinary world, yet appeal to the hearts and minds of the younger ones. It took a small cockroach appearing on the monitor of my office computer to jolt me into a feasible short story plot. Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself. For the sake of labelling, I'm putting it in a separate blog post. Read about it here. I'm getting a niece of mine to help illustrate it. I'm anticipating great things. If all goes well, I shall re-post when I have the images on hand.

Well folks, isn't that a lot to accomplish now? I still have hopes of churning out more fiction, but I guess that will have to be a story for another day (literally).

As I leave you now, I bid all you other writers and Keepers of the Arts a good night and may you continue to champion that which you love. If you're looking for nice, mellow, slightly melancholic music to grace your writing sessions, do check out Fiction Family. It has served me well today, and I expect it will in days to come as well. Perhaps the name has something to do with it. Hehe. (Mr Foreman, you owe me a free CD for my promo efforts).

Goodnight, and do write... wherever, whatever, whenever.