The Magnet

30 july 2008

Our group had gotten separated the morning before (choppy surface and high swells; poor visibility; people finning off too fast - glare at buddy-no-more - and leaving their panicking buddy - points at self frantically - all alone in the scary cold directionless Blue; people having problems equalising; people finning after jellyfishes that look like the bottom of a diver's tank at a distance - points at self a little less enthusiastically) and had to abort our first attempt to look for hammerheads.

In any case, the buddy and I 'de-buddied' on the last diving day after we realised that BOTH our integrated octos were malfunctioning. (A certain uncle who mans a dive shop in Lucky Plaza, and to whom we had ENTRUSTED to service our octos, would very soon realise this too, as well as that of his impending mortality.) So the buddy - abandoning me yet AGAIN - joined the outrigger, while I stayed with G and J on the speedboat.

Our group decided to coordinate the descent more systematically. It would be our second, and last, chance to see the hammerheads - that is, if we were lucky.

We synchronised our backrolls into the water, and from the surface, followed the mooring line down to 15m, where we then finned along the reef to drop to 30m.

We found the bubble trails of the other group at a corner, even as we quickly searched for a firm handhold on the corals in the sudden currents - the operative word being 'currents' in its plural form, which were pushing and pulling us in different directions. (As K later recounted in Bahasa to the DM: "Kanan-kiri-up-and-down!") I got bumped against the reef a few times and noticed the rest of G flapping like a very big pillowcase (what can I say, he IS shaped like one, hence the analogy) as he tried to hold on with one hand.

The others appeared shortly from the depths with their DM. K was scanning around for his group and jerking his thumb up sharply, signalling ascent - to calmer waters? or the surface?

Our group turned back the way we came instead, and continued the dive along the reef wall, led by our DM (AKA Orang Gila). There was still a little current, but it was manageable. The visibility this morning was much better - 15m. A couple of white tips swam past swiftly beneath us at 35m or more, and a huge puffer hovered in an overhang. Some distance ahead, an impressive shadow of a Napoleon wrasse made its way to shallower waters.

We found ourselves swimming into a strong current again and hung on to the wall. As we waited, I marvelled at the sudden schools of jacks and barracudas passing by just a few metres away, and I warily watched a free-swimming yellow moray eel (or sea snake???). It didn't look like it was doing too well, twisting and flailing in the current. DM Gila gestured at us to stay back. Later, G would recount excitedly that at one point - being the point when I was busy watching the moray/sea snake and ready to bolt any moment it came too near - he saw another sea snake slithering around the DM's shoulders while the latter was just next to me, holding on to my arm (roll eyes). Gaaahhh!!! Neither of us realised this of course. GAAARRRGGGGHHH!!!

A while later, in spite of the current, we pushed on. DM Gila was ahead - he seemed fine where he was, away from the wall. J and I tried to inch our way forward. G was somewhere overhead, away from the wall as well, where he usually would be, with his videocam. (I found out during the debrief back on the boat that our DM, AKA Orang "You crazy ah!!!" Gila, was actually waiting for us so we could attempt a second descent to look for hammerheads. What the fuck??!)

And then, the currents hit me.


This WALL... this MASS... of water just came at my face. And it kept pushing. And pushing. And pushing.



I remember the roar of the water - a primordial roar of triumph.


I remember thinking that it was a good thing my mask, which I realised was shaking a little, hadn't been pulled off my head by the force of the head-on current.

I remember wondering, as I lost my grip again, and again, and again - even as J, struggling herself and with only one gloved hand no less, pulled me back to the wall a couple of times (her ungloved hand was cut in several places, though she didn't feel any pain until everything was over) - how long more I could hold on, when I realised this was NOT going to stop anytime soon. What if it didn't stop... AT ALL...

I remember thinking, as I clung to the reef for dear life, that I couldn't hold on much longer, with the currents pulling me in different directions.

I remember when my hands slipped for the last time.

I remember flying away from the wall, slightly upwards. Air embolism.

I remember my outstretched arms and fingers grasping at... nothingness...

I remember deciding I didn't want to die yet and finning frantically towards the wall - in vain.

I remember feeling my fins kick violently against someone's hands, trying to grab a hold of me from somewhere above and behind, even as I continued to kick towards the wall.

I remember being swept away from the group, and flying along the wall - yet never close enough to grab on to a handhold.

I remember trying again, and again, and again, my fingers slipping each time they did get close enough.

I remember that I started praying at some point for my life. Don't let me die now. Not like this.

I remember a Buddhist chant from my childhood, which I used to faithfully mouth to each click of a prayer bead, as I knelt in front of the altar every morning, next to my mother who was also chanting and clicking her own prayer beads.

I cannot remember how I finally found myself clinging to the wall again.

Perhaps the reach of the currents was weaker farther along the wall and my flight of terror had slowed down enough for me to grab a handhold...

Perhaps the DM had found me and pulled me in...

Perhaps my prayers were answered...

As I huddled and pushed myself deeper into the wall, I realised that I hadn't had a panic attack (read: closed airway - bad, very, very bad) and that my regulator was still in my mouth. I bit down harder on the mouthpiece and continued to breathe steadily albeit heavily. I was down to 80-90 bar. I didn't know how much more time I had at 20-over metres. And I was loathe to leave the wall again with there still being a current.

At some point, I felt the DM tugging on my fins (or something). He motioned me to move away from the wall to start our ascent. I left the wall - uneventfully - and moved towards him, into The Blue, drawing my fingers across my throat once. I was down to 50 bar. (Wrong hand signal, I know.)

I completed my ascent, including a 3-minute safety stop and additional 1-minute no-decompression stop, with 20-30 bar left. DM Gila broke the surface with ecstatic howls of delight. Siow...

The speedboat picked us up shortly. J and G were already on the boat. I needed a little more help getting up. G asked if I was alright.

"My chest hurts a little," I rasped.

We skipped the second morning dive for the day and went back to the resort to recover our frazzled nerves. The outrigger group continued with the second dive, except for the buddy of course, who called it a day.

I found out later that the buddy had an asthma attack - first time during a dive - while fighting the currents during the eventful morning dive. She figured it was the combination of nursing a flu, the 24°C water and currents. Back at the sanctuary and idyllic calm of our resort, I realised I was bruised and cut in a few places. Examining my wetsuit, I found a few holes. My gloves had also been cut through in a number of places. What the fuck...

It was a fucking tsunami down there, alright.

* * * * *

I can still remember being down there...

Deer* in headlights

29 july 2008

This happened by accident. I was going for a 'sharpen' effect but misclicked on 'difference clouds' and was bowled over by the rendered image. I likeee. Very, very much.

*Actually, they were calves. But what the hell, eh ;-)

Be Here Now - Ray LaMontagne

Don't let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don't try
Don't let your heart get heavy child
Inside you there's a strength that lies

Don't let your soul get lonely child
It's only time, it will go by
Don't look for love in faces, places
It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Don't lose your faith in me
And I will try not to lose faith in you
Don't put your trust in walls
'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now
Be here now, here now

Bay watch

28 july 2008

Somewhere in Lombok... approaching day's end... tucked in a quiet bay... surrounded by undulating hills and a sleepy little village, curious children and doe-eyed cows.

It was good to be away. The best holidays are those with no... expectations - as should life be.

Bedtime stories

22 july 2008

Some people have a glass of warm milk and listen to some light music.

I have coffee or ice-cream while watching an episode or two of Masters of Horror. Good stuff, I must say - the coffee, ice-cream and Season 1. Grin. The episode guide is here, if you are interested.

Welcome to my world.

Dark "Are We There Yet?" Knight

19 july 2008

I enjoyed the movie and action scenes (and needless to say, Heath Ledger's rendition of The Joker), I really did.

If only 153 minutes didn't feel more like 153 + 60 minutes. Zzzz. But like I said, it wasn't dull - fantastic action scenes and all. It was just that everytime you thought the show's ending - because you know, someone important dies AND it looks like the bad guy's really got it badder than bad this time around AND of course the action sequence is a lot more elaborate than the last - it doesn't. So you get back onto the road with the good guys hot on the heels of the bad guys (and the other way around), more high speed car chases, more explosions, more dead bodies... well, you get the idea.

Great show otherwise.

Real pity about Heath Ledger.


I know I've been dreaming every night; and it certainly feels like a lot of dreaming's going on - a few different dreams even - though I can't remember everything, mostly only the last one just before I wake up. And it's been like this the past few weeks. I don't know if that's significant somehow.

* * * * *

Yeah, I know I'm "great". So how about sponsoring me on that MBA now that you mention it? Heh.

* * * * *

I don't understand what it is you see that I don't. Maybe it was all just empty words of 'encouragement'. Because who goes around telling their friends that yes, I think you just have to accept you are mediocre, and you will never be as smart / witty / talented / successful / etc-socially-desired-attributes-etc.

So, no more of this trying to get me to be what I am not. What I can never be.

No more frustrations about unrealised 'potential'.

Potential, my foot.


You don't really seem to be liking what I can be, do you?

But it's what you've all always been telling me to be, no?

And you know what, I'm liking it.


17 july 2008

I decided to enquire about a second tattoo while I was picking up a new piece of body jewellery at Tiong Bahru Plaza. I don't have a specific design in mind yet. But I do know I want something more dimensional - depth and shading; something that moves. Possibly colour too. It'll either be to build upon the current design or a new one on another part of my body.

No, not the groin - as suggested by Pervert No. 1.

Nor the backside (WTF?) - as suggested by Pervert No. 2.

B L E A H.

Something around the navel.

And it'll be conceptualised from scratch. So it can't just be any tattooist. I need an artist.

Spider Girl

16 july 2008

The Stapler is a lion. R A W R R R !!!


I was telling The Stapler that I'm so busy these days it really feels like I'm octopussing (octopus - 8 arms/legs/appendages, get it?) And then I realised why I'm a spider - 8 arms/legs/appendages, get it? So desu!

But still! Why, why do I have to be a scary, hairy, black, multi-tasking spider?

I wanna be a majestic giant multi-tasking squid! But then I'll probably have to live by the water if my dæmon is a water-dweller.

Or, why can't I be a majestic armoured ice bear! Yeah! Then I wouldn't even have to be octopussing. I'll just have to start roaring and work will get done. Heh. Heh. Heh. If I've got to be intimidating, at least let me be furry and otherwise really rather cute, yes?

Work! Work! Work!

15 july 2008 (or really, 16 July 2008)

Sheer adrenaline got me through the past few days of work - work - work - gotta - pee - work - work - really - gotta - pee - and - gotta - eat - soon - work - work - finally - remembered - to - pee - work - really - gotta - eat - soon - work - work - lunch - work - work - work - gotta - pee - work - work - really - gotta - pee - work - work - dinner - work - etc - etc - etc - past - midnight.

The only reason I managed to crawl home by midnight (or 1 am on Tuesday morning) was because I could barely open my eyes by then - not from sleepiness but because my eyes were sore from the strain.

I've also been eating more than I usually do. It's as if my body is burning up fuel just sitting at my workstation churning out work. Gaaah.

And today, I got to the point where I just didn't want to be bothered unless you had something really important to say to me (hence justifying me granting you airtime), failing which, something really funny (so I would be too busy laughing to realise you didn't actually have anything really important to say to me to justify me granting you airtime), failing both which, I would proceed to bite off heads and shake my head violently side to side (the way Elmo the Four-Legged-One does with his toys).

So, it was really kinda funny how, with that thought firmly in mind, someone did try his luck a while later. What he had to say was important - to him (not so much to me) - but he did make me laugh a little, especially after I articulated that thought in my head and ranted quite a little (ok, not so little) about work.


That thing or two I really had to do is/are finally done. So I should be a more pleasant human being to be around the next few weeks.

I really hate it when people do the "hi-bye" equivalent of "let's meet for coffee/tea/drinks" but after several casual/furtive glances at your handphone at the rate of one casual/furtive glance every 10 seconds, you inevitably come to the cruel realisation that you've been hit-and-byed.

Bears! Bears! Bears!

I'm so in lurrrve with the armoured bears. Sooooo cuteeeee!


And my dæmon is Alexius - a spider. (WTF???) Ok, says here that it takes 11 days for my dæmon to "settle" and "manifest", so come back later to see what Alexius looks like (small, black, hairy and utterly ugly thing, ok you know what, forget it, don't bother coming back just to look at some small, black, hairy and utterly ugly thing).

And now I smell like bakuteh

11 july 2008

So you make the effort to jump into the shower, wash off a long workday's sweat and grime, and put on some perfume so you'll smell nice, even though it's just a midnight supper and everyone's in their glasses, shorts and slippers. But that's no reason to smell funky, yes?

Then as the 3 of you pack into the car (AKA confined space *amplify sounds and smells*) en route to supper, the driver turns to the front seat passenger: "Hey, you are smelling 'very fragrant' (translated from Cantonese) tonight!"

Excuse me, but I think that would be your back seat passenger AKA moi? Except, I could no longer smell myself because the right nostril was filled with the smell of my slightly - but for the amplified effect of the confined space - sweaty friend in the front seat; and the other nasal passage was preoccupied with trying to put a word - musty?? sweaty?? too?? - to the smell of the driver's car.

Urrrgh. Boys. Roll eyes.

Next: Midnight prata. Somewhere. Just not Tiong Bahru. DOH! Roll eyes again.

Now that you mention it

Is it so strange to show up for work in a casual blouse and jeans on a normal workday? I do know some companies do not enforce dress codes, yes?

"Won't your boss mind?"


"But I am the boss." Come to think of it.... I am. (Though, technically speaking, one of two of us; and only with regard to the daily operations and not executive decisions.)

Now, if only I could ban slippers in the office - only because people dragging their gold-filled slippers loudly across the carpeted floor just behind me are really driving me up the wall. Makes me wanna put on wooden clogs and run around their cubicles one of these days.

What the hell is happening

10 july 2008

Is pretty much what I think about "The Happening" (add: so-not-happening).

The whole nature rebelling against humans theme was just not very well written and unsophisticated in its choice of execution (excuse the pun). The movie was as unfocused as the terrified people running around, trying to flee the mysterious plague. And what's with the house and the plastic (fake) plant and fake food, and the crazy old woman with the life-sized doll in her bed? That something that I know the writer is trying to tell me is simply not getting through.

Actually, it was almost like watching Signs all over again - must be all that running away from 'something'.

* * * * *

Except he found himself having to turn away from the pleasing sight of her familiar face - to return to the momentarily interrupted attentions of the other female, who was trying to offer him a whiff of her breath.


Lips. Waiting. Inviting.

And she slipped away. Once again.

* * * * *

Maybe I just realised that I don't have to live in your shadow anymore.

And you just have to deal with it.

* * * * *

Working this Saturday. Again. Gaaah.

The point is

08 july 2008

I thought the poolside party went well, and we had a decent turnout, considering that not much planning was done. Ethanol always helps, of course ;-) - breaking the ice, mending bridges, and all that jazz.

Annie's Lane Shiraz 2006, Freddano Champagne and Moscato d'Asti, and strawberry wine. Yummy.

* * * * *

I've been anxious to have the new welfare benefits announced - it's been months since the approval. (Doh?)

So I reminded HR to make that announcement soon. There are a number of birthdays coming up in the next couple of months and it would be an opportune time to announce the birthday leave - especially since a not-so-welcome (for some) announcement would be made soon too. (Again, it's been weeks since the approval. Doh!)

HR did not see the urgency. Afterall, it would all be back-dated for staff whose birthdays had passed, and it wasn't as if anyone was going to cheat the staff of their birthday leave.

But that's not the point, is it?


* * * * *

The point is: do you really hate your staff that much?

* * * * *

And seriously, you're really losing it.

Looking for a miracle

05 july 2008

Culled from "Death in the Saddle", Bones (Season 3, Episode 3)

FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth:
Here we are, all of us, basically alone, separate creatures, just circling each other, all searching for that slightest hint of a real connection. Some look in the wrong places, some - they just give up hope because in their mind they're thinking "Oh there's nobody out there for me," but all of us, we keep trying over and over again. Why? Because every once in a while... every once in a while, two people meet and there's that spark, and yes, Bones, he's handsome and she's beautiful and maybe that's all they see at first, but making love... making love... that's when two people become one.

Dr Temperance Brennan:
It is scientifically impossible for two objects to occupy the same space.

FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth:
Yeah, but what's important is we try. And when we do it right, we get close.

Dr Temperance Brennan:
To what? Breaking the laws of physics?

FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth:
Yeah, Bones - a miracle.

* * * * *

And then you find yourself in the middle of a sight like this and you can't help but feel you've experienced a miracle. Simply breathtaking.


05 july 2008

Crispy rats with a hint of peanut butter. Snk. Snk. Snk.


01 july 2008

I had wondered about her recent holiday - just a few months after the last; she usually spaced her holidays farther apart.

"Who did you go with?"

"Alone lor."

"Oooo..." It wasn't unusual for her. "So what did you do?"

The usual - and meeting up again with HIM; everyday; for lunch.


I barely missed a beat.

What more is there to say - when it has all already been said.

What more is there to judge - back to square one; same old situation; same old shit.

What more is there for me to feel sorry for you - when you know he is wrong for you; this is wrong for you; everything is just so very wrong.

* * * * * * * * * *

The worst kind of relationship shit to be in - being involved with a married (and for that matter, already spoken for) man. IMHO.

Not even half as bad if he were ugly and fat and uninteresting; or a manipulative jerk; or even a serial killer. IMHO.

But that's just me.

And this is your life. Not mine.