The stuff that nightmares are made of


Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh. Heh.


Madame X's Whipping Boys

Dear Four-legged Friends,

This is your Mistress of Pain corrective training coordinator, Madame X.

I am a dog lover who is concerned about dogs being exploited by their human owners. I coordinate corrective training for these misinformed humans, so that they will understand that dogs are living things with feelings too and they are a life-long commitment. I specialise in confronting behavioural problems that dogs may have with their owners, like physical and emotional abuse and neglect.

Madame X's Whipping Boys is not just a facility for re-training human dog owners. We are also Relationship Gurus who will help your human owner understand that dogs are NOT acceptable 'date bait'. If the traditional methods of meeting a potential love interest have not worked very well - pub? work? - that is because he has been looking in the WRONG places. We will help your human owner understand that if he has not been able to get a date because he is a moron, having a dog will not change the fact that he is a moron - in fact, it makes him MORE of a moron for using another living thing who has feelings too as a date bait. We will also teach you a simple negative reinforcement technique whenever your human owner tries to use you as a date bait: The Sniff'n'Spray. The success of this depends on maintaining a ready reservoir of pee at all times, and developing an uncanny sense of timeliness at all times. At Madame X's Whipping Boys, we are firm believers that dogs are NOT 'date bait'.

If you have a human owner who cannot spend enough time with you or is exploiting you as 'date bait', bring him to us. We will whip help him re-think his responsiblities as a dog owner.

Yours doggedly,
Madame X


Taboo

Hmmm. I have never been surrounded by so many good-looking and well-groomed men. Apparently, the number of good-looking men and hot bods are inversely proportional to the ones in straight clubs. Heh. Dancing in a room bursting at the seams with the Happy Boys - many of them wriggling off their shirts as the night progressed - was strange, but not unpleasant. And apparently, fights just do not break out - even if they do, there is an unspoken rule not to go for the face. So, they bitch about each other instead. Heh. Heh.




inTimaTe

What happens when two friends cannot be "friends only" anymore?




S.T.R.E.S.S.E.D.

It feels like my head is going to burst, and I will self-combust any moment now...

I called the boss about work. "Hiii! I was just thinking about you." Oh great. Now he has moved on to harrassing me about work telepathically! Argh!!!

And somehow, I succeeded in frying my cool mouse and the office thumb drive when I was fiddling with the USB ports to set up the Shuffle. Duh.


Toys

New toy :-)

And the sister's toy boy invited me to hang out with them at a gay club tomorrow night. Heh. Apparently, the older sister did not look like the "serious" sort he had imagined her to be. Hmmm. I wonder what the younger sister has been saying...




The One

Collected my gold-plated replica of The One Ring today. I rule! Heh!




Today

I am being tormented. It takes, like, a hundred tries before I can surf or upload files. Ah well. Been too tired to blog anyhow.


inTimaTe

So sleepy... so tired...

The days are too short.

I have been sleeping like the dead the past few nights...

The nights are not long enough. (I do not want the night to end - because then, you have to leave.)

Each moment passes by too quickly; before I even realise what has just happened. There is simply not enough physical time to behold the entire significance of each little action and utterance - sometimes so small as to be almost imperceptible, and hence, so easily missed; and only realised later; too late - crystallised into these fleeting moments; these millions and millions of moments that make the whole of life; that make our lives complete.

I can only re-live the memories of these moments in my head; each time a little differently; each time unfolding a little more; each time seeing more in its entirety. Thought. Emotion. Doubt. Fear. Desire. Hope. The Past. The Present - of the moment. The Future. All come together in this little action and utterance. Perfection.

And then, there is the rest of life. Waiting to be experienced.

It is beginning to feel as if this one life is not enough.




Today

What is wwwwrrrrong with my connection?!!! ARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Others

A few seconds after I stepped into the cubicle, I heard the muffled footsteps, slow and deliberate, not in the next cubicle but somewhere above. And then, I heard what sounded like CREAKING floorboards. Slow. Deliberate. ABOVE. Screw the tummy ache! I fled the toilet without even washing my hands. (There are scarier things than touching door handles in public toilets.) Back at my seat, I called the building management downstairs. My voice rose a few pitches as I asked if they had sent someone to work on the roof. She quickly reassured me that it was just the rats: "We have a lot of rats!!!" (Oh yeah, that sure makes me feel a whole lot better.) And, they had caught 14 of them last week.

Rats, my ass.




Today

The home connection is crawlingggggg. Then, the scan picked up some stupid VNC virus in my Registry. Argh!!! How to get rid of it? I lost my Search Companion suddenly too - so I cannot search for the HKEY. Dammit!


80 mm

Saturday morning at the beach was lovely in spite of the late morning heat. It was nice and quiet (read: NO KIDS) - the usual weekend crowd would not come in until after lunch. Meanwhile, the horizon was an unassuming blend of sky blue and sea green. There was a pleasant calm and stillness all around - time seemed to move a little slower, and there was a quiet clarity to everything in the stillness. The man standing under a tree with his golden retriever, looking out to sea together. The child who squealed in delight as I came up behind and beside him, flying over the speed hump. The soft whirling of wheels, going faster and faster.

We went at a good pace with a couple of sprints and did not stop until about an hour later to re-hydrate. Actually, it felt like I could go on for another hour - the thighs did not tire and the shins did not cramp, which they usually start to within 15 minutes. It was surprising considering that I had not been blading for a few months. I am convinced all those standing poses have something to do with it :-)

So, I was not too disappointed that we did not get to hustle any "aspiring blading instructors" - we had a plan after Rainy told me about her encounter with the stranger who mistook her for a beginner, and then got an earful from her. And he was not even that good. Heh. Ah well, I guess even the most inspired of their kind would not think about trying his luck with two Amazonians who do not look like they need any help, especially if he can barely keep up. Heh. Heh.

But, there was a moment when I did look like I could do with a lot of help. As we picked up our drinks at one of the stops, I started to roll to the side and was going to fall. When I tried to catch my balance, I ended up bending over with my hands on the ground, and stayed there for quite some time, to the silent observation of a small audience at the drinks stall. From Amazonian to Un-Glamazonian.

Rainy: "Ehhh, what are you doing?"

I: "Ehhh, I dunno..."

You see, the other thing about yoga is that after a while, you tend to get TOO comfortable with awkward poses. As it slowly dawned on my sleep-deprived mind that I would not be able to push myself up because I was at an odd angle with insufficient leverage, I let myself drop to my knees, and then stood up. Duh.

Looking forward to next weekend :-)




Intimate

And then, as you stop screaming and learn to appreciate the unusual scenery, you begin to wonder what happens when the bungee cord reaches its end. In that defining moment when the cord strains against itself to reach for the skies, frozen in a longing that would never be fulfilled, you wonder what will happen on the free fall back down...


Winging Wednesday

Sometimes, we see the birds resting by the windows; occasionally, one would venture into the pantry and onto the shelves. This morning, I was standing a metre or so from the windows, looking away and down as I stirred condensed milk into my first coffee of the day, my mind still in a lull, when the thoughts of another intruded: build nest... build nest... fly through window... build nest... build nest... landing bay in sight... argh! it moves! abort! abort! flap wings frantically against moving black object... drop nice long twig... damn... fly away! fly away! ARGH!!! (That would be me screaming at the shock of being attacked by a twig!)

Guess that means the hair is starting to get a little unruly. Time to do something about it, yes?




Yogic Logic

"Unlike the Western philosophies where reason and emotion are often treated as separate forms of experience, yoga locates feelings and thoughts in the same "place" - in the faculty called the manas - and teaches us how to integrate these essential human experiences ...... In this sense, yoga truly lives up to its literal meaning, "union." Without logic and clear thinking, we might have strong feelings but no way of evaluating and knowing if we are meeting our goals. But, just as Mr. Spock comes to realize from being half human, feelings are equally crucial, for they can boldly transport us to realms where logic alone can never go."

Yay! Jim the Mole flew back to Bangkok this morning and I can now return to my violence-free meditations in the asanas. Happy-happy joy-joy. So, yes, tonight's session with the usual instructor was good :-)

And as I was walking home, two things came to me:

"I'm a part of those sepia memories that keep you sane in a changing world - your comfort zone."

I exist only because you want me to. The moment you let go of your past, I will cease to be. And I will finally be where I rightfully belong - the past.

"The ones who do not have the capacity to understand the truth are just as dangerous."

It did not help that they were not very pleasant people to begin with. But the real reason you detested them with such vehemence was because they just happened - through no doing of their own - to stand in your way to self-determination and reminded you of the limitations that you have to live with. Perhaps, if you realised this, you would not take it out on them as you keep doing now, with alarming consistency - one... two... and three?


Tuesday's Turkeys

If I do not rant sometime and somewhere, I will surely bite off some heads in the next few days.

Why is it that people who have obviously spent a lot of time writing 1000-1500 word articles which are fairly descriptive, cannot be bothered to spend another 5-10 minutes to come up with a more interesting title, if any at all? Hallo, the title is, like, the first thing that catches the eye? the initial introduction and taste of what to expect? the literary "hello, would you like to read me" handshake? And that reminds me, a weak title is like one of those flaccid handshakes. Ewww.

And when I asked for the 500 word article to be expanded, I did not mean another 500 word article which I am now expected to figure out how to fit seamlessly into the first, so that the writer will not sound schizophrenic.

Which, is what a joint article written by two people actually does sound like, especially when the revisions were made in haste. And then, things get more interesting when a third person, that would be me, joins in the "cleaning up".

Am I supposed to read everyone's mind now?




Maniac Monday

I was already feeling a little edgy this morning, but managed to figure out my work schedule for the week (which is going to kill me) without freaking out, and ha, was most pleasant over the telephone. Then, a much older co-worker came running to me for mediation in a rather delicate situation with another. So, I was really looking forward to yoga - there were no classes over the Chinese New Year week. Except, during tonight's class, I found myself being just a little turned off by the new instructor's face (though he was not bad looking) and deliberately tuning out his weak and almost self-absorbed voice, which instead of keeping me focused on the postures, disoriented me. I kept falling out and needing to lie down. A couple of times, I was so frustrated that I really felt like punching the new guy so he would just shut up.

Yep. It's that time of the month again. Auntie is PMSing bad and it sure ain't pretty. Whimper.




Happy boys and happy girls

This year, my uncles visited the family before Chinese New Year because they would be in Bangkok for a religious sojourn. Mum reported that the youngest (and still unmarried), who is in his mid 40s, sports a moustache and goatee now. Fwah! So hip!

"See, I told you he was GAY." I snorted and laughed.

"Hiaks! How can you say that? How do you know he's gay?"

"Aiyaaa. Can see what. And what do you think all those "company trips" that he keeps bragging about at the last few Chinese New Year gatherings, but clams up immediately when I ask him about his work, are for?" (Actually, I just found the bragging irritating. But, I still think he is gay - something about his face. Heh.)

"How would you like it if people thought YOU were a lesbian? How do you know they don't already say that? You go on holidays too and you are still single!" (Ah. Getting worried, aren't we?)

"Ha. I don't care. And I'm not gay."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A regular calls the ones at the climbing centre The Happy Boys. Heh.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Question.

Could you tell that Intimate Stranger - The Watcher, a story about "a man and a woman" was intended as a MALE perspective - a man watching a woman? (Nevermind that the writer - that would be me - is not.)

I had started writing a short poem, except the remembered images and sensations started to take on a life of their own, and the dates and places and people no longer mattered, as they flooded my head with their own story - some were actual encounters; some were attempts at watching and feeling through the eyes and mind of the other person (that would be the male perspective, obviously); some were my own reactions which I suppose are relatively gender-neutral; and some were just my wild imagination (heh heh). Then, I remembered the "collaborative story" and thought this was a good place to start. I also thought it would be interesting, among other reasons, to write from the male perspective.

Eh... or not?

She thought that "most men, I am quite convinced, go... WAH... chio.... *stare* 10 seconds later, ok... maybe 12 seconds :P forget... which is why I said it makes you sound lesbian... anyway, if you're wondering, as far as I'm concerned, you're straight until you inform me otherwise."

Most men, I agree, are usually not cognizant of what exactly it is about a woman that attracts them; which is probably just the thing that makes women "mysterious". Heh. But I suppose there are the exceptions, yes?

Anyway, the question is not whether I prefer women, but whether the male perspective angle was convincing.

Or perhaps I should just leave the male perspective to him before this turns into homo-eroticism. Heh.


Intimate

Mr One-Stone-Two-Birds staggered over with a wide grin. A hand on each of our shoulders, Mr OSTB blabbered some appreciative comment while his friend gestured frantically that he was drunk, before pulling him away.


Taste

I remember now why I stopped buying Boncafe - the grounds are too fine for the french press.




Words

Another book to the growing pile of unread ones: Legends 3 - Anthology of short novels by Robert Jordan, Ursula K Le Guin, Tad Williams and Terry Pratchett.


Et tu, Brute?

She likened it to a donkey trying to convince us it was a thoroughbred. Unflattering but undeniable. The talking donkey in Shrek comes to mind.


Taste

0318 hours: Wide awake on Turkish Coffee - half the cup was just coffee powder 8-|


Moving pictures

Constantine - Wingsssss :-) Mesmerising two hours.




Morning call

I crawled out of bed in a daze, still nursing a cough and the sniffles, to answer the ringing phone.

"Hi... I'm feeling sad." And then she started to cry.

"......"

I have always thought that the one who initiates a break-up should tell the truth. For the sake of Closure; the final act of Compassion. No matter how hurtful the truth might be. (But, I can concede that there are very, very rare exceptions when the truth might do much, much more harm.) No matter how frivolous and badly it might reflect on you. ("It's not you. It's me." And sometimes, it really is you.)

Because I believe the truth will eventually set everyone free - to move on; perhaps, also to learn a lesson or two, and grow as a person. Telling the truth may not be an obligation. But, really, it is the least that one could do for someone who was once the beloved. For old times' sake, no?




Breaking the ice

He was intrigued by Skin on Skin.

I was fascinated by Chance and Fate.

He was the sensual stranger who gave me a book about a woman's appetite for food, love, work and pleasure. (And was snubbed by my friend the night we met to make the exchange because the stranger was not "flamboyant" enough for my friend's taste. Heh.)

I was the curious stranger who gave him a female scent in a little vial.

He asked if we could collaborate on a writing project. The characters would not be too dissimilar from ourselves. And we would draw from our personal experiences. The story would be about A Man and A Woman; who cross paths; but do not know each other - Intimate Strangers.

How would it begin? How would it end? He does not know. Neither do I.

But I will attempt to weave the first spell.


Intimate Stranger - The Watcher

7 February 2005 (Monday). 1930 hours. Essentials Pharmacy at Far East Square. Singapore.

You are the stranger who I followed into the pharmacy on Monday evening. I had watched you moving past the restaurants; the deep brown of your bare shoulders and arms creating an arresting contrast against the soft white of your halter top; the hem of your blue skirt swinging just below your knees with every long stride. As you stepped into the pharmacy, you walked around, looking past the tops of the shelves, searching for... a friend?

You left after a while. But I found you again, at the other end of the alley outside the pharmacy. You are walking back in my direction with a friend, your head down, listening intently to something she was saying. You are also holding a huge carrier with festive goods - something that your friend helped you to buy and had just passed to you?

As we moved towards each other, I wondered what would happen if I brushed my shoulder against yours, or let my hand lightly graze yours. Would you flinch and give me a dirty look? Or would you allow my hand to linger against yours for half a second more of eternity, and smile secretly to yourself - the corners of your lips turning up just a little as your eyes flicker into awareness? Perhaps, you might not even notice the brief moment - your thoughts on your friend or the Chinese New Year holidays.

We passed each other. Gone as swiftly as we met. But I catch a whiff of an intriguing scent - something floral - you are using, mixed with the faint mustiness and wetness of your not-unpleasant perspiration on this humid evening.

I did not know where you and your friend headed to next. It was time for me to meet my friend for dinner anyhow.


1950 hours. Coffee Club at Raffles Place. Singapore.

I looked up in a pensive moment. You walk in with your friend, and sit a few tables away. This is... unexpected. But very nice... indeed.

I watched the two of you. What sad story was your friend, hunched low in her seat with her arms to herself and her back to me, relating that made the corners of your eyes and lips turn down as you listen quietly? What secrets was your friend confiding that darkened your eyes and caused you to frown? And what did you say in return, with such grave purpose in those dark eyes that look into hers so intently? Was it... a man who was no longer around to make your friend laugh? Sometimes, you break into knowing smiles or soft laughter - what was it that your friend had said to you? Or was it something that you had said to make her laugh - and yourself too?

What would it be like if I were the one seated with you at the same table? What would we talk about? What makes you tick? What interests you? What makes you frown or cry? What do you like? What makes you laugh? One of those jokes you get over email that would guarantee a chuckle? A funny story you heard from a friend? A witty observation about life? What would it be like if *I* could make you laugh? What would it be like to hear you laughing, and to have your eyes laughing into mine?

As you shift your shoulders and arms, moving your hands occasionally in mid-conversation, resting your chin or the side of your face against your palm, I wonder what your bare skin feels like. Is it as warm as it is brown? Will I feel the warmth of the sun when I touch you? And I wonder what my skin on your skin would feel like. No, not like that - you reaching over to touch my arm in that familiar way that women often touch men to show their interest. I want to be the one touching you - to feel what your skin is like. Then, the memory of your floral scent fills my senses and an image drifts into my consciousness - I am leaning in to feel your lips with mine. And I wonder if you would... hate it? Strangely, that is all that I want. Nothing less. Nothing more.

But, on that night, I could only watch you - when you were unaware. Because I did not want to unsettle or make you feel self-conscious. How easily our insecurities and worldly concerns can burden us, dampen our spontaneity, until we are only a pale shadow of our true selves. Let me see you the way I want to - not the way you want to be seen, or the way you think I want to see you. Please... do not lower your head and eyes in that practised and tiresome guise of female coyness - I want to look into those eyes. How deep do they go? What will I find? Nor twirl your hair while pretending to listen to your friend - are you listening? Let me see you as you really are. The way your eyes move across the room; the way they narrow cautiously or light up through the night. The way you listen so intently to your friend and then suddenly smile or laugh at something she says, or you do. The way your hair rests on your bare shoulders and falls down your back; the way you flip your hair momentarily away from your shoulders and part your lips slightly at the feel of the cool air on your bare neck and shoulders.

Let me watch you - for now.

Just as you watch me - when you think I am not watching you.




Tong Hai Vin

My sore throat kept me up most of last night. When I managed to lose consciousness from sheer exhaustion, a bizarre (though not unpleasant) dream invaded whatever precious time was left for sleep. This morning, I woke up with bleary eyes to find that I had a temperature, cough and the sniffles too, and every sneeze was waking hell for the throat. So, I was not in the best of moods when I picked up the call at work this morning.

"Hi... This is Vin..."

"Huh?"

"We met last week." (Ah. The Moron. At least, he got my name right.)

"VIN WHO???" (Vin? Diesel?)

"You don't remember? We met at the MRT station last week when I asked you for directions." (Snort. Yeah. Directions to nowhere.)

"NO. I DON'T REMEMBER."

"You don't? Remember last Friday..."

"I DON'T REMEMBER ANYONE COMING UP TO ME AND INTRODUCING HIMSELF AS VIN."

"Oh. Didn't I introduce myself?"

"NO."

"But I did. I don't know why you are so angry with me today. Did I do anything to make you angry?" (You think???)

This went on for a while - actually for almost the entire teleconversation - with me snapping at the guy, who in spite of the withering war cry of the Warrior Princess, hung on tenaciously to his end of the receiver with mangled fingers. It was... amazing. Bite off his head, and another one grows back! (Karl Ho should take some lessons from this guy on growing thicker hide.) I was to discover the reason for this apparent "tenacity" soon.

He brought up the %$!!#$ modelling thing again, and said he worked for a talent agency.

"What's the company name?"

"It's a very new company... in Kallang. We look for talents in modelling, acting..." (Kallang? Does your company also print saucy calendars for beer companies? Ok, I give you chance - tastefully saucy calendars featuring Sembcorp's CEO?)

"Yeah. So, what's the company's name?"

"We are just starting up. It's Tong Hai. But, you won't find us in the telephone directory yet because we are still very new." (Mouth open. Jaw drop. Blood splatters onto monitor and keyboard.)

"TONG HAI???" (Wah lan eh! You chose a cool name like "Vin", and can pronounce my name which did impress me just a bit, but you come up with something like TONG HAI?! Hallo!!! Are you sure you are working for a talent agency or selling canned abalone? Maybe your company prints the labels for the canned abalone? Or do you really work for a motor repair shop - which explains the Diesel connection. Oh wait, I guess the effort of coming up with a fancy name like "Vin" after watching xXx used up your one and only brain cell.)

I suddenly realised that Tong Hai Vin did not use the modelling line because he thought *I* was stupid enough to fall for it. Bang head on monitor. Drench keyboard in more blood.

"Yes. But you won't find us in the telephone directory..." (Yah. Yah. I know. Because it does not even exist, right?) "We are just doing a lot of research now."

"Oh. So you are doing research by chatting up women on the streets?"

He paused for a second and continued to talk about the company's work. My sarcasm was lost in the vast emptiness of his cranium. Roll eyes. He really is that S.T.U.P.I.D.

"LOOOOK. I know you used that as an excuse to chat me up and I find it very insulting, ok? Look at my face! How can make it?! You should be looking for talent elsewhere, like the pubs - lots of beautiful people there." (Must make me say until so clear izit?! KNNBCCB!!! Na beh!!! Make me angry on Chinese New Year Eve!!!)

"Maybe on that day, you looked attractive to me. Actually, I find you very attractive."

"YES. I KNOW I AM." (Foam.)

There was a slight pause at the other end of the line, and then he continued to brave the blazing inferno.

"I don't think MY BOYFRIEND will approve. I told him about you and he was very unhappy."

"I already guessed that you had a boyfriend. No wonder you are so resistant." (Oh, you think?)

He went on to say how it was not unusual for boyfriends to get jealous and that I should not let mine dictate my life and stand in my way of success. (Maybe I should have told him I found women as attractive as he did.)

Seeing as to how the proverbial horse had been flogged until there was not even skin or bones left, he asked me about my writing instead and said he could help find someone who might be interested.

"Do you write for dramas? Do you have dialogue?"

"No. I just write stories. I don't think they are suitable for dramas. But the script writer can fill in the main dialogue based on the storyline."

"Are your stories fiction or real?"

"Real. The best stories are based on real-life experiences."

"Really?" (Yes. And I bet a story like this would make an excellent comedy. You want???)

I insisted that he sent me a company profile via email or at least something in writing. I could not trust that he would not take my work and run away with it. He was reluctant to send me an official email about his company. Then, he asked for my personal email instead.

"No. Send to my work email. It's on my name card. I don't check my personal email. Too much spam." (Which is true.)

"What's spam?"

"Oh, you know... junk mail. People trying to sell me Viagra, hot dates, MODELLING assignments..."

"VIAGRA??? They sell Viagra???" (Sigh. My attempt at sarcasm was lost again. I should stop using my brain when talking to this one. Too much of MY blood lost and too many of MY brain cells dying by the second.)

Eventually, he ended the conversation reluctantly, and asked if he could call me again.

"Yah. If you have a good prospect for my writing." (Whatever. Roll eyes.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

If the single and available Singaporean Chinese men left are all like him, I am leaving this country pronto.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A colleague thought I was meeting someone for a hot date last Friday night. Erm, no... just a belated birthday treat. And as outstanding a conversationalist as A is - according to The Tome of Val-Halal: "...attractiveness is not the key thing... being good in conversation makes people wonder how good you are in bed too" - I had no intention of a ménage à trois with my married friend and his wife.

After she heard about my Friday encounter, she offered this sagely advice: "Sometimes, the way we are dressed can give the wrong impression... I do not wear spaghetti-strap tops at night... might give the impression that she is loose."

Hey! I did not look loose at all that night, ok? I was wearing, not one, but TWO spaghetti-strap tops (because the green one was see-through) and they were so tight that I am quite sure it created some breathing difficulties. I will have you know that I am a very up-tight kinda girl. Where got loose? Hmmmpppfff.




Intimate

After I hung up, I thought about my earlier anxiety. Though we no longer share our lives, and we walk different paths, it was nice to know that some things we once shared are still there.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This comes very late - but thanks to those who commented. I did call - a few days later. And I am glad I did :-)




Moving pictures

Finding Neverland was simply charming. What's not to like when it had something for everyone:

[1] Swoon Factor - Johnny Depp as "Chief Running Nose". Laugh.

[2] Damsel in Distress - Kate Winslet.

[3] Kid - Freddie Highmore. Perfect casting and haunting portrayal of the younger Davies boy who retreated into himself after the death of his father. (Trivial: Shares the same birthday - 9 June - as Johnny Depp.)

[4] Dopey Dog - Very big and very fluffy dog! Who doesn't seem to contribute to the story other than make everyone go awwwww every time he trotted in. Actually, I don't think he even had a name.


The finer things in life

Living, really living, is such an effort.

"But when you are being true to who you are, putting in the effort is really quite enjoyable. That would be one of the finer things in life... really living."
~ Val-Halal


Culled

Humour in daily living :-) You just have to see it.


Intimate

Or, have the stakes become higher?




Intimate

Still waters - not so still, after all.


Little people


Savasana

I did THREE hours of yoga this afternoon. From 2 to 5pm. At home. Flat on my back. In bed.

The Savasana (Corpose Pose) is a pose of total relaxation, which also makes it one of the most challenging asanas. It is also the pose in which the body heals itself the fastest. Heh.

I've just been so physically and mentally exhausted from the past two weeks of work and stuff. And I think something I ate during the week has been making me itch. Sigh.


My sister...

...who has been reading my blog on a casual basis has started to really read it. And she caught me gossiping about her. Heh. Heh. Heh.




Older

Happy Belated Birthday Mr Val-Halal :-D Glad you enjoyed dinner, and yes, I redraw my comment about North Indian food being bland - I just have not had good ones before. Heh.

So, people, go check out Shahi Maharani at Raffles City Shopping Centre #03-21B. Ask for the Goa Fish Head Curry, Lamb Chops Shah Jehani, Kashmiri Pillau (delicately fragrant rice with mixed fruits and nuts - screw the carbo diet) and Kashmiri Naan (ditto about the carbo diet).

Meanwhile, my second attempt to spend my birthday outside the country flopped. Again. Sniff. The leisure dive to Redang / Similan does not look like it is going to happen. My first attempt last year did not work out because the open water training for my diving licence was postponed by a week. So I was grounded. (SF was pleased though. Mutter.) But, things turned out ok. The dinner with old friends at The Legends' Poppi was not bad and I met some new people over the weekend.


Excuse me, do you want to model?

I was waiting for A to pick me up at the MRT station, and messaging SF when he came up and asked for directions to another station in the vicinity.

I gave him directions and added: "It's just a 15 to 20 minute walk down the road."

"Oh, I drove."

"Oh, ok. Well, then you can just make a left turn at the traffic junction in front and go straight until you see..."

He thanked me and I returned to my messaging.

"So... do you work around here?"

I looked up at him as the rusty gears (slept badly last night) in my head screeched to a slow stop and started to turn in the other direction, very carefully. "Yes. I work next to the MORTUARY." (Now, be a good boy and go away.)

"Oh!" Strange look. "Oh..." and "So, do you see a lot of dead people?" (Witty, aren't we? Either that, or he is trying to sell me something. GO. AWAY!)

"Actually, I do. In fact, I see and hear them all the time." Unfortunately, my idea of a creepy smile did not result in his sudden loss of all intelligent thought and his hasty retreat.

"Are you working tomorrow?" (Over my dead body, ok?)

"Yes." I returned to my messaging and often looked up and around for A's car. He was not deterred by my not-so-subtle hints, and continued to hang around.

"Can I have your name card or number?" He sat down beside me. (Sigh. Ok. Just the card.) "So, do you write?"

"Not exactly - rarely anyhow. I just collect the articles and manage things most of the time."

"Perhaps I can contribute an article sometime."

"Oh. Are you working in the pharmaceutical industry?"

"No."

"What industry do you work in then?" I had to ask a few times because he was not very forthcoming about his job.

"Entertainment." (And your industry can contribute to mine in what way again??? Yeah, this one is a real comedian, alright. Then again, it is said that laughter is the best medicine.)

I returned to my messaging for the umpteenth time and tried to ignore the persistent gazing.

"So, are you into modelling?" (C.H.E.E.S.Y.)

"Oh! Hehehehe!" (Blush.) "I where got standard? Hehehehe!" (Blush more.)

Which, is probably what he expected me to say. Instead...

"NO." (Na beh. Are you fucking blind or what? Can't you see the massive break-out on my face? Do you think you can pull a fast one over me like that? MORON.)

"Would you be interested in a modelling job?" (Roll eyes. What a sleazeball!)

"NO. But if you have a writing job, I'll be interested."

"Oh..." He left a short while later, and said he would call me sometime.

And then, I realised that he had not introduced himself, nor asked or called me by name - even when he got my card. Go figure.


Doors

Last evening, two of the girls heard the door close on its own while they were in the toilet - just two of them. Today, another wondered why she could not hear the footsteps of the other - unknown - person in the next cubicle as the latter left the toilet. A routine trip to the toilet - alone - has become the bane of our bowels. I think a few of us will end up with kidney failure eventually.

A thinks we are all going to go out of our minds when the Seventh Month / Ghost Festival starts. Actually, I do not think I can last another week. I am going out of my mind already.


Intimate

I know. I know...




Cheap... and good?

Is it such a sin to spend on, or want to appreciate, "the finer things in life"? Is "frugality" or "living a simple life" a more desirable virtue? As A puts it, can you truly say you have sucked on the marrow of life if you have not experienced the finer things in life?

Perhaps, the issue here is that some people mistake "more expensive" for "finer". The appreciation of the finer things in life is about the entire experience of engaging the senses AND the mind. For example, a pasta dish is not just about your taste buds, but also the texture, presentation, craftsmanship, and even origins. Although, you could argue that the act of spending a lot of money, be seen spending it or flaunting one's material acquisitions, can also be an intense experience - especially for the one whose money you are spending. Heh. Heh. Heh. (By the way, retail therapy does not count in view of its "therapeutic" indications. Ahem.)

While "finer" does often translate into "more expensive", some finer things in life can actually be appreciated for far less and even free. And, they do not always have to be material possessions. For example, architecture and natural scenery, and even the way a woman or man stands out from or moves through a crowd.

So, why do some people eschew - sometimes with much, too much, indignance - the finer things in life?

A certain "enlightened despot" self-professed expert of character profiling has an interesting - brutal, but sadly, true - take on people who like to impress upon others the virtue of being frugal and living within one's means. For ease of reference, let us refer to such a one as Mr Cheap & Good.

Mr Cheap & Good is quite socially inept and only uses frugality as an excuse for ignorance - an ignorance that he does not intend to do anything about. Mr Cheap & Good is probably someone who spends on gadgets and property because he believes these things deliver true value for the price and property will always deliver profit. Mr Cheap & Good probably does not have a clue about the finer things in life except for labels that are mass-marketed. For example, he would be very impressed by BMW but would not really know why it is a good car; neither would he know the difference between rear-wheel and front-wheel drive, or a Shelby from TVR. Mr Cheap & Good does not wear good shoes and goes for an all-purpose pair, or mistakes golf shoes for work shoes or PVC for leather. He does not wear a watch or has one that is below $150. He also likes eating at cheap places. Mr Cheap & Good's mantra is quite simply: "Cheap and good!"

Mr Cheap & Good does not understand why people would spend on the finer things in life or pay a premium for quality - because he does not know anything about lifestyle. He is usually kept on the outskirts of most social circles rather than a real part of it, as a result of his inability to adapt, understand or accept the sub-cultures of these groups. He has a limited understanding of relationships and tends to view his interactions with others in terms of buyer-seller or superior-inferior (or teacher-student) relationships. So, he can be quite self-effacing and often seen kowtowing to his friends' abilities and experience. Nonetheless, he can be very enthusiastic with people - quite like Jack Russell Terriers of the human race. (You were saying? Grrr...) Perhaps, that is also the reason why Mr Cheap & Good hangs around the fringes of social circles rather than become a total social pariah.

As Mr Cheap & Good uses frugality as a cover for his choice of a simple life, and begins to believe that his choice is made independant of limited financial resources or poor social graces, he is really being dishonest with himself, and subsequently with other people.

Notes:

[1] NOT ALL people who choose a simple life or are socially inept fit the above profile. And it is not about ignorance per se of the finer things in life, but the refusal to learn AND using frugality as a cover for it. So, watch that flamethrower!

[2] Dammit, this proxy blogging is hard work! Feel free to edit, A :-P


The viral effect

The one sitting next to me said that the intercom on my phone sounded on its own this morning - I was not at work yet. She was rather freaked out. Heh.

And I have not been able to help myself from relating my recent encounters. I would be talking about something else, and the moment the topic turns to work, the words would start tumbling out of my mouth - like word vomit. *open mouth* *jaw drop* *spew* When I did it last night during a break in class, the group was, fortunately, quite receptive; and the topic turned to the recent horror movies. This morning, I am afraid the unsuspecting stranger who was just trying to make small talk while we were waiting for a huge download, got a major upload of my close encounters. "Where is your office?" *open mouth* *spew* Arrrggghhh!!! (Eh... JJ... if your friend tells you I was a little strange... eh... I could not help myself! Honest!)

SF's take on my word vomit is that The Others may be seeking a way for their presence to be acknowledged - to what end, I do not really know. Perhaps, they just want to feel "real" again, by being a recognised unit in the world of the living. So, the more the living talk about The Others, the more they believe. And, the more the living believe in The Others, the stronger their presence will be felt. Hmmm...


Wah lau eh!

[1] He submitted an article that was just "a bit longer" than the 1400 words that I had asked for. "A bit longer" turned out to be 2000 words more - which I have to edit back to 1400 words and still preserve the tone. Faint.

[2] As I handed my handphone to my colleague to charge the battery, she asked: "Ni2 you3 fang4 vibrator ma1?" Gahhh!!!

[3] The moment he landed in Singapore (after being away for more than a week), my slavedriver drove down to talk to me, albeit briefly, about work, before going home to crash. Whimper...




Daughter of Paladine

54/60.

I passed the NAUI/ASHI Basic First Aid Course :-) Good thing I still remember those unhappy Saturdays selling my soul to the Red Cross and St John's just to earn a few miserly ECA points (before I discovered swimming) - except for whatever I could remember from the two lectures last week, the textbook was pretty much untouched.

The practical went well too, and I learnt that a basic understanding of the body's motor movements (go for the joints) can help the first-aider move his/her victim into recovery position with minimum effort. I also learnt that the application of this knowledge is subject to the relative size of the victim's clothes to his/her body.

C (struggling to bend my left leg at the knee and cross my right leg over): "Her legs won't bend!"

Instructor: "Eh, she's quite stiff ... (pause) ... eh, I think her jeans are too tight. And those boots..."

Okayyy...


"Despot!"

Congratulations to someone who just got a job offer :-) And is on his way to becoming a (Think) Tank Commander at one of those companies who actually hire people who can think and/or to think. Laugh. Think Tank Commander has a nice ring to it, no? So much better than a mere Manager or Chief-[insert as appropriate]-Officer. And methinks it quite befits my aspiring despot of a friend. Heh.

(Afterthought: Funny that the word "despot" should have made its appearance in a few other blogs. Must be something in the air. Heh.)


Tuesday Special

I was filling up my water flask in the pantry when from the corner of my eye, someone in white moved towards the sink. When I looked up a second or two later, there was no one there. For those who are already thinking "don't work so late lah" - it was sometime in the afternoon, when everyone else was working at his/her desk. I realised afterwards that I had not heard the person come in; and I can recognise the footsteps of even the softest person in the office.

SF related my experiences to her colleagues. One of them had an interesting theory. Considering the recent frequency of the "incidents" and that I myself have never had such encounters... okayyy, to be honest, I have felt just a little spooked on some occasions in the past, but the experiences have never been strong - loud sounds and sightings. So, I had always dismissed them as my general timidness and hyperactive imagination. Anyway, SF's colleague thought that one of my new colleagues, who is especially attuned to the supernatural, may be providing a "channel" for The Other Side. Indeed, the new girl has said that she can "see" such things. The poor girl is also concerned that she has been falling sick too frequently since she joined us, and been hospitalised a few times.

And, according to another colleague who came up to me to look into my eyes, people with brown eyes are more likely to see these "things". I have brown eyes. (But don't most local Chinese?)

Then, I realised that my first encounter happened exactly a week ago, on a Tuesday.


Things that make you go hmmm...

On my way home, I saw my sister hanging out with her friend at the void deck with Xena (The Warrior X-Puppy). They seemed almost embarrassed as I walked up to pat the dog.

The way my sister giggles and talks so fondly of her not-bad-looking but very gay male friend... sometimes, I wonder.