Sunday, November 01, 2009

The world's so small it's scary.

Baru tahu kalau speaker pertama Oxford yang menang EUDC tahun ini ternyata senior debat di JC waktu dilatih sama Mrs. C. Dia baru lulus bulan lalu dengan nilai tertinggi di collegenya. Nanti dia juga ikut di KoC. Waktu dengar beritanya pikiran jadi melalui beberapa tahap: kaget-perplexed-kagum-ngiri-kesel sendiri karena merasa underperform-terinspirasi-termotivasi-eerily calm-strangely purposeful. Dulu pernah debat bareng dan sekarang saya lihat video dia untuk training?!? Lumayan merasa tertampar... humph. Lihat ke depan saja lah, tapi sekarang mulai diingatkan perlunya memegang sejarah sebagai bahan pembelajaran. Refleksi untuk mendorong, bukan untuk bikin down. Hmmm. *shakes head out of stupor* There you go.

Friday, August 21, 2009

PPact 2012 Revisited

Trust me when I say I (sort of) get it why Kyoto Protocol founders might be a bit ambitious when they first formulated the scheme and how now, 3 years before it expires, they're rushing up to do their part because time is running out.

Today it's 3 years before PPact2012 expires and I'm still nowhere near what I vowed to be. I got distracted. A change is timely, if that summer I still plan to meet the other 8 and be able to hold my own. An engineer, a concert pianist, an artist, three businesswomen, a fashion designer, and... Me. In our twenties in Paris. Toasting our successes with a triumphant reunion. Ka-chink.

6 years ago, sitting around in our Crescent Girls' uniforms with Hershey pies in Orchard Burger King, it sounded carpe diem-ish and inspirational and glamorously romantic. Now it makes me feel like screaming, "Yes, I'm seizing the day! Seizing the bloody day I tell you! Seizing!" Tempus fugit indeed. Well I've got about a thousand days to prepare myself for D-Day and the clock is ticking.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Came across a quote yesterday, "on peut rire de tout mais pas avec tout le monde", i.e. we can laugh at everything but not with everyone. Some days I find that very true.

Things that I initially find amusing, ridiculous, or out-of-this-world are, well, the only reality for others. The butt of these jokes are, more often than not, real life subjects, which makes me feel rather guilty and unfeeling sometimes. I wouldn't be laughing if I was in their shoes, or even just standing next to them. I know, I know, I sound like a goody two-shoes, but I'll say what I want here and the world be damned. Particularly when it comes to unflattering rumours concerning people I know, I hate being in a position where I get pulled in and curiosity gets the better of me. I'd look back at the memory and find myself repulsive.

But then I normally swallow the lump in my throat and shrug it off. Then go back to being (or trying to be) a good sport. You can't seem too sensitive about things, I suppose. A sense of humor is an essential must-have in most dinners/lunches/brunches, much like a pair of socks when a guy's wearing loafers. You don't really pay much attention to them but if someone has none you'd realize that something's a bit off. Like an alarm would go off somewhere indicating the unwelcomed presence of a spoilsport. Breakfasts are much more forgiving, you can always feign drowsiness or attribute your disinterest to lack of sleep.

I don't know why I care about such things, really. Sometimes I can be disgustingly self-conscious. Oh well. *yawn* I've successfully bored myself to drowsiness. Over and out.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14.

No word for it. Roddick's going to win this thing someday! I wish I could say hang in there. He was nothing but aces at today's finals, and I truly hope we haven't seen the last of him at centre court. Go Andy!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

17 Again on Fall/Winter 2009

J texted to check out his "show" on youtube. He was wearing an apron that looked more like a kilt and a floral jacket. It was the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen on a guy. I didn't even know the designer does male clothings. I thought she only specialized on bridal which, judging from the glorified apron, is probably what she should do. I watched 17 Again with T and F last friday. Zac Efron was terrific. I bet he wouldn't look ridiculous in kilt and floral.

Everyone's going to Europe. My ex-roommate is doing a semester abroad near Paris, and D and M have started Paris IV. I can't wait to graduate and move there. Take a BGF, move into the Latin Quarter, I'd even stay in a dorm if it comes to that. Focus, Ry. A year more, a year and a half at most, and (fingers crossed) I'm off to old rive gauche.

So, last week I came back from WLC in Singapore. Every night of the conference we had to work on the position paper until late, so I didn't get to do a lot of things I planned to do, like visit my old schools and hostels and have dinner with the girls. I only got a chance to meet Y, and that was only because she had a long lunch break one day and I skipped a banner-making session to run off to citylink. I helped her shop for office shoes. Fine, I bought a pair, too, but only because she picked it for me and she had vouchers. One should not waste vouchers. It's rude. The conference was awe-some. I loved every minute. And the cool thing is that I got to stay in the vice-ambassador's place. The post is empty so a friend and I had the entire house to ourselves, with two maids and a chauffeur-driven black lexus. The entire manse and car had tinted windows - very secret service-ish.

Grandma M died last week. She's not really my grandmother, more like my grandmother's cousin, but she's always been a dear. Mother went to her wake and ran into my editor, who excitedly offered more work to finish this summer, interviewing another ambassador. It's probably a necessary part of the long and winding road towards becoming the next anderson cooper/christiane amanpour. Anderson cooper's gay, by the way. Just like J. Every single person I'm into these days turns out to be gay. (Sorry J. Don't worry, you know I'm over it.) Maybe I am turning into a fag hag. Oh bugger.

I took down the samurai from my room's wall. I'm afraid it gives people the wrong impression. Okay, it's actually because I'm reading Anne Rice and the specter makes things on the wall tremble at night and horrifies the poor suckers into paranoia. And last night was kinda windy. And the samurai was quivering a bit. Who needs samurais on walls anyway? I should probably go to sleep. I only blog when I can't sleep. I'm probably going to have a very disturbing nightmare about a kilt-wearing earthquake-inducing ghost who is also, chances are, gay. Oh well.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Musical Makeover

I've been listening a lot to Eels, Weezer, Ben Folds, Smashmouth, Cake and similar music lately.

It's a bit of a jump from the usual suspects on my iPod. Sweet friends who'd had enough, albeit baseless, faith in my musical taste were almost always disappointed when they borrowed it. The initial content was archaic, and that's putting it mildly. The youngest musician was Frank Sinatra, and he's been dead for a while. The rest were mostly nether-century composers, when music involved very little singing or none at all and most of the cover art were paintings of the composer because photography then was probably advance technology.

So I decided to botox it since a. it's getting a bit depressing because I'm leaving my house to places this summer (starting from a fortnight from now) which means I'll be leaving the piano behind which means I would miss playing and listening to classical would be like salting the wound, b. my socially adept sister (more than I can say about myself) says you are what you listen to these days and from that principle I would be a boring sixty-year-old snob. I wouldn't say that's inaccurate, but I'm not sixty, and c. I've started listening to contemporary music and hey, they're not half bad, and they'd probably help me in future karaokes.

So, my mp3 player now holds an eclectic repertoire of everything new from Black Eyed Peas' Boom Boom Pow (I still giggle when I see the title) to Lenka, Katy Perry, Kings of Convenience, One Republic, All American Rejects, The Ting Tings (what's in a name anyway), Jason Mraz, Lady Gaga (she can actually sing), Kris Allen (gasp) and the abovementioned maestros on the first line. I still keep some selected classical pieces on a separate folder, though, as collateral. Save it for a rainy (summer) day. My sister's pretty proud of my updated taste, even when I pointed out that if I'm what I listen to now I'd probably be a very confused fifteen-year-old chart-hopper. Give it two weeks and I'd probably start reading romance novels. Err... or not. I'd take Flo Rida over Nicholas Sparks any day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Feeling Frosty

Somehow I was left feeling rather Robert Frost-y. I really can't tell if it's just me or because of the movie. Here's one of my favorite Frost poem my high school literature teacher made me read in practical criticism class once.

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still.
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.

But I am done with apple-picking now.

Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples; I am drowsing off.
I cannot shake the shimmer from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the water-trough,
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.

But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and reappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.

My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
That rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.

For I have had too much
Of apple-picking; I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall,
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised, or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.

One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Robert Frost


It's been a while since I've seen anything that can move me on TV. I used to crave epiphanies from Hollywood flicks; Disney cartoons were to me what Aesop’s fables were to Greek children. I've learned to believe in dreams from little nemo, to seize the day from dead poets' society, to have faith in love from Romeo and Juliet, and so on.

And then at some point I grew sceptical.

It's a lot easier to be sceptical in this world, I assume, as a laugh and a scoff can turn even the sourest of disappointments into a forgivable joke. I heard once that clowns wear a permanent smile to mask their sorrows from the world because there's no room for sad clowns in the world.

I suppose at one point we all turn into clowns.

At some point inevitability abandons us all and we suddenly stop running around and the questions start coming. All of a sudden we needed a purpose, a role, an identity. All of a sudden we wanted to map a track and build a yellow brick road leading to our own personal Oz.

And thus with it comes the need to find a niche that fits you, but most of the time you don't bother creating a new one (the idea seems rather self-indulgent in itself), you simply try to fit within the mould that existed. Sure, certain variations are acceptable, but the general idea is to follow certain ground rules. Being secure and confident and happy is one of them. When you meet a person for the first time, you set your countenance into default mode, and this usually includes a polite smile, a calm composure, and a welcoming tone of voice (assuming, of course, that you, like most people, still believe in the value of civility). You might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed, fell down a flight of stairs, got bitten by a dog, and fell into a puddle, but when you meet someone for the first time, you try to smile and shake their hands and not make a fuss. Because it's not really their fault, is it? They didn't know you had a rough day. They had nothing to do with it, so why rain on their parade?

Of course, if everyone was like that then we'd have a very happy society made up of very unhappy individuals.

So then you factor in pride (or you can call it an innate, instinctive sense of self-preservation, if it makes you feel better).

You see, you know that these people exist, the people who are unhappy and yet still put on a smile. But it would be a shame if you were one of them, wouldn't it?

So you look for a remedy. You anticipate sadness by constantly hunting the reverse. You try to codify happiness. You subconsciously construct within yourself through your own values and through your observation of the world through your eyes what you believe to be the source of happiness. A successful career, a good health, a comfortable life, a room with a view, a promise of heaven and salvation, a gold medal, a word of praise or thanks, a sense of social and financial security, whatever it is you choose to include, in the end you end up with a customised framework of happiness and then, be it subconsciously or deliberately, you begin to pursue it. And you start walking purposefully.

But you're not the only one walking, are you? That yellow brick road is not a one-way freeway; it is an overlapping, bottlenecked, jammed up maze filled with people trying to get to their Promised Land. And although they say you shouldn't measure yourself with others as yardsticks, sometimes you can't help but compare yourself, can you? I mean, these people are right there in front of you, on your left, and on your right, and, since you're blessed with peripheral vision, you can't help but compare.

Because nothing makes your glass feel fuller than an emptier glass beside it and nothing makes your glass feel emptier than a fuller one next to it.

And sometimes you can't help but think that it's not even about how much you put into the glass anymore; some simply start the journey with a gallon while other were given teacups. But a part of you (that self-preserving morsel) refuse to believe that. You must at least carry enough to get to your destination, and if it turns out you don't, you're simply not walking fast enough or you're wasting your water along the way. You cling to the idea that although the world might seem to be unfair, in the end you'll get your fair share if you keep at it (whatever 'it' is according to you). If it works, great but if it doesn't, surely it's not the end of the world.

If you get to the end without reaching your destination, you change tactics. Perhaps the end is not the end. Perhaps there's something better beyond the end. And then you try less and pray more.

If you get to the end before reaching your destination, if somehow along the way you genuinely felt that you've found happiness and contentment and a sense of fulfilment, you also change tactics. Perhaps there is more. Perhaps the end will give me more so I should want more. And then you lose that contentment and look for what you've already found because you simply believe that something better must be waiting around the bend.

In the end we all just keep going until it finally occurred to us that all this sprung from that set of ideas we constructed ourselves a long time ago, and that when all is stripped away, really, the point is the journey you've been walking on all along, not the destination (here come the clichés - but I'm taking off that mask now anyway so screw conventions and hail clichés).

The point of all this rambling is that the movie made me realise that I need to keep in mind that the pursuit of happiness is a huge part of happiness itself. The toil, the pain, the waiting, the wondering, the ebb and flow will all culminate to form your own personal happy ending. And understanding that will let you appreciate your journey in all its colours, not just the pastels. It all comes down to perception in the end. I think so anyway.

- drying my tears after "Shadowlands".