From the AOT archives: Change

Introduction: 3 April 2009

This is an interesting entry called “Change” which I wrote seven years ago this day. Since I thought the response to this entry was meaningful, I’ve included the comments from people who read enough of this entry to share their thoughts.

Have a good weekend, dear reader.

***

Change
3 April 2002

It’s amazing how time changes a person and how exposure to a different environment polishes off the rough edges of one’s talents.

There are times when I reflect upon my life and the things that I have achieved. When I was a young lad, there were moments when I wished I was born into a rich man’s family. When that did not materialise, I wished I was some lost son of a rich man and I was swopped by a careless nurse at birth.

Like all self-created fairy tales, I did not get the ending to life that I wanted.

Despite telling myself otherwise, crying over split milk (some puddles split as far back as 1978) happens way too often. It is not a particularly reassuring thought when, after 26 years of existence, one fails to recall a particular achievement in life that I can be proud of.

I’m not practising the Christian mantra of being humble. I have learnt that false humility puts people off, majorly at times.

I derived no pleasure in sweeping three awards at school while I was 14 – Story-Teller, Story-writing and Best Debate Team. I came from a crappy school where the top student from the best class would probably struggle in any of the worst classes in the top ten schools in Singapore. Not surprisingly, the school’s now a flat piece of land and was never listed as one of the Top 40 schools.

That’s all that I can think of. The rest of my life, sad to say, is about struggles, struggles and more struggles. Filled with blood, tears and sweat, but no fruits.

Twenty-seven. That’s how long I’ve lived and I really wonder how I would describe my life when I reach fifty-four.

With the recent crisis, it suddenly dawned on me that if not for my spiritual beliefs, I would become a mental patient. Depression is not exactly a pleasant experience, more so, when you find yourself boxed in.

Voluntarily.

I no longer trust my friends. Either they leak out stuff they should not say, or they condescendingly tell you things you already know…

Me: Am I a good friend?:P
*long pause*
Someone (not E): Har??wat type of question is that?

I did not get a response. So, I said…

Me: April Fool!

*weak smile*

Now, the only thing I wish for is to have the courage to change my life. I want to be child-like again. I want to be able to see the innocence of this world without allowing skepticism to take over. I want to be able to trust friends again, without living in fear that I may be betrayed.

I want to love again, without having to worry about the possibility that one day, love will leave me.

But that’s just not possible, isn’t it?

***

Now, I despise myself for crying last night.

Life can be a joke sometimes.

***

Comments:

delwen: (04/03/2002 06:18:06 PM)

sigh.. many a times i felt like you, fucked not once not twice but many times over by this kind of issues that plauged me n caused me depression till i finally learned to harden myself and become extremely nonchalent to objects around me, my only retaliation to things that shouldnt happen to me is rebellion and cynicism. As of late, i started to open myself up becoz i dont believe in losing myself to small trivialities. My approach is now altruism. I believe the world could still be beautiful and for you, treasure in what you already have and not what you cannot live without.

—–

areya: (04/03/2002 09:49:54 PM)

I agree with Delwen :)
“The happiest of people don’t neccessarily have the best of everything. They just make the most of everything that comes along their way.”
Kan4 kai1 yi4 dian3, as my old friends used to tell me.
(er, I hope that’s not useless advice ;p)
—–

Jude: (04/04/2002 09:38:19 AM)

at some point of time in our life, we are always wishing for something very different from what we have now. Thats human nature. I do not know why u view frenship as something fake, maybe cos the type of ppl u mix around with have fake as their middle name. Everyone is of a different nature. there are times when we are much stronger than the rest, and times when we are more vulnerable. As long as we come off it stronger and learning something.

what am i toking abt…. i dunno how to comfort you well the way u comforted me, but i just wanna say that though we only know each other thru blogging, this frenship can always turn into real as long as u’re willing to give it a try. :) And u did, that night, dint u? :)

—–

Lois: (04/04/2002 09:47:54 AM)

on del’s hardening of oneself. from my material engrg i learnt that the harder one is dun mean one is stronger but more brittle when facing an impact. ho tai erm ho siek.

on the other hand i agree wif her that u shld look at wat u have and not dwell on the lost or unobtainables, is not healthy in any sense.

—–

Verda: (04/04/2002 10:45:26 AM)

Same thoughts before and still thinking of that now. But we can either stick to just dreaming of it or just walked on… I know it sounds cruel. but why dwell on the past and wants in life when u know it is out of reach?

From the AOT archives: (Almost) all about Sam Hui

(Almost) All About Sam Hui
2 April 2004

I guess this is odd, but I have been mesmerised by Sam Hui’s songs recently, especially his early works. Maybe it is the honesty reflected in the lyrics of the songs. Maybe it is because they are unpretentious and they echo the thoughts of the common man. Above all, his mastery in weaving complex Chinese terms (which I suspect may require the skills of one who mastered Higher Chinese or Cantonese in school to appreciate) with the melodies he composed for most of the songs made me an instant convert and admirer.

Right now, I add another item to my long list of regrets in life and that is why I never got round to do better in my Second Language during my younger days so that one fine day in the future (like the present), I would have enough know-how in the head for me to better appreciate the meaning of those phrases the man penned for the song lyrics.

Yet, this is of little consequence last evening as I lumbered my way back home, listening to him on my trusty MD machine and still feeling the numbness on the right side of my cheek. Even as the tons of words swirled in my head (as a result of too much of looking on as a spectator during the dinner and post-dinner discussion), I pushed them all to the back of my head. It is not so much about the topic, which was interesting enough for all at the table to dissect it during a 30-minute spell (of sorts), but more of a self-centred need to sort out more pressing matters that had to be dealt with in my system.

That is before they manifest themselves into something sinister.

I reckon that if I discount the dinner and post-dinner activity, it would have been a day to forget for me. It is one of those days when you do not want to revisit or recall ever in your life. Maybe for some of you out there, there is something worth remembering for every day of your life, but if I were to attempt something like that, then possibly they would all come in big chunks of sadness, despair and disappointment along with the nice puny almost negligible bits.

Never in my life have I wanted so much to forget about anything to do with the past.

Sam Hui’s songs will do for now.

***

I have come to realise that having a quiet office is a precious and inevitably rare commodity. Bickering, useless chatter, unwarranted and not-funny-at-all jokes and long extended private conversations on the phone, all of them present in an open-concept office environment, are absolutely unnecessary distractions, while I doll the powers-that-be up with endless Powerpoint presentations and soothe delicate egos in my note-taking endeavours.

Of course, I have not heard of anyone who succeeds in his/her career doing Powerpoint presentations all day long. Then again, since they said locally-produced Phd graduates are good enough to only wash test tubes, I should not grumble about plonking spiffy jpeg files on the Powerpoint slides all day long.

Sam Hui’s songs will do for now, to shut out the noise while I make the font size of the words on slide 235 slightly bigger.

***

I am amazed sometimes at how certain people have this unbelievable ability to do a 180-degree turn in terms of their diplomacy status towards you in any setting. They can tell you the deepest darkest secrets of their day, giggling like one schoolboy/girl, for like the first hour and the next, they shut you out completely with a blank expression on their face. No amount of coercing, prying or bribing will change things.

Maybe it is just me, but the older I get, the more I have problems trying to understand this world and its inhabitants, including myself.

***

The weekend is upon us and I started it by decorating my light blue work shirt accidentally with a 5-cm long sambal chilli stain. The good thing is my inept ability to get any social activity going in my life will mean that I just have to endure the weird stares and ill-disguised giggle as I make my way home after work later. I do not have to trawl the streets to get to a bourgeois place like Holland Village or to the human-infested malls along Orchard and show off unwittingly to everyone that I had Nasi Lemak for lunch.

To make things more interesting, some evil people in the office building decided for the seventh workday in a row to punish us by removing soap, a very precious commodity, from the office toilet. For someone like me who is now blessed with an irritable digestive system and a love for spicy food, it will guarantee not only dirty hands during the entire course of my stay in the work cell, but nothing to wash off any stain with.

For those who know where I slave my days away doing Powerpoint presentations (you need not reveal it publicly, please), surely you cannot, for the life of you, miss the irony of it all.

***

Now, I assume it would be entirely passable if a 28-year-old bloke who is not a little bit on the obese side declares openly that he likes to listen to Britney Spears or is enthralled by the lyrics of all F4 songs. He may still be some girl’s socially acceptable target for a significant other.

I now assume that I cannot see how any reference made by a 28-year-old (some say 29) bloke who is not a little bit on the obese side about how he loves listening to Sam Hui (a passé 70s Cantopop icon) will be any girl’s idea of a socially acceptable target for a significant other.

Dear sir, please minus away some points from my already negative “Eligible Bachelor” score.

***

Imaginary scenario during some speed dating session:

Girl#1: Hi! What’s your name?

Me: D W. What’s yours?

Girl#1: XXX

Me: Nice to meet you. Good name.

Girl#1: So how old are you?

Me: 28, but some claim that I am already 29. If I take the average, I am 28.5 years.

Girl#1: *weirdo alert* Oh… That’s an interesting way of putting it. So what do you do for a living?

Me: I do Powerpoint slides.

Girl#1: Huh?

Me: Yeah. Font size. Background colours. Corporate logo. Line thickness for a table. I am an expert in these. I help to polish my boss’ slides to make them look like the next best thing since sliced bread.

Girl#1: (to herself) This is the last time I participate in this dating crap. (to me) Is that all you do?

Me: Mmm… I do a lot of note taking, I guess. You know, soothe the egos of those bigwigs and rewrite what they said during meetings into some spectacular quotes worthy to be featured in the ST Life! Section.

Girl#1: (to herself) Shit. Like that, where got career prospect? Where got chance to get the 6Cs with a loser like that? (smiles to me) So, er, what do you do during your free time?

Me: Oh… I think a lot.

Girl#1: About?

Me: Life. Human beings. Why am I plonked here on earth? Where do I go from here? What is the meaning of my life so far? Etc.

Girl#1: Er… Besides that? Er… What about music?

Me: Musical preference? For now, it’s Sam Hui.

Girl#1: Who’s that? Jazz singer? Some composer?

Me: No. He is a 70s Cantopop icon. I love his music.

Girl#1: You mean that guy perpetually wearing that 70s hair and acts in those slapstick HK comedy movies?

Me: Yes!

Girl#1: (to herself) This one’s definitely one of those weird, cannot-make-it oddball. Imagine someone on God’s good earth still listening to Sam Hui! So obiang! (to me) Oh… heh heh… Nice to meet you, D W.

Me: Nice to meet you.

Girl#1: *freaks out and runs away*

***

My current favourite singer

Have a nice weekend, dear reader.

***

After-note 2 April 2009

Mystery of the day: How on God’s good earth did I write like that?

From the AOT archives: Another joke…

Another joke…
1 April 2005

Brace yourself, another D W joke:

D W: Tell me, please. Who do you think I am?

Someone: Some say you are a nice person. Some say you are a pervert. Some say you are a stalker.

D W: Who do you think I am?

Someone: I think you are just an idiot.

*guffaw*

***

I will be meeting some friends tonight for dinner – people who possibly have no privy to events in my life for the past few months. I wonder if I will see shock on their faces when I beg them for a job over dinner tonight. After all, most of them are more successful in running their careers and lives than I am currently.

So, I will have to go there with a cap in hand.

***

Someone from long ago was at the same event as I. She was there as a guest while I was running all over the shop in helping to get the show going. Although I knew how this was done to polish some people’s collective egos, I did my part, trying to be a responsible adult like everyone else.

I was running across the large room when I first saw her. She was still as slim and without examining her hand, people, especially men, would easily believe that she was still single and very available. People whom I worked with used to tell me of how she seemed to be almost every average male’s perfect partner (not only in bed hor) for life. Some even heaved a sigh for me when they commented at how I should have been given a shot at it if not for the fact that she had her wedding ring plonked on her finger already.

She did not see me the first time round, but when I made my second trip across the crowded room, I turned my head to cast a short glance again and somehow both our gazes met. I could see the telling look on her face and a second later, I observed she turned to a lady (someone whom both of us knew) and began to say something, which due to the distance between us and the collective noise of many small talks being engaged in the crowded room, I could not catch any of her words. However, my instinct told me that she must have been telling the lady about how she could not recognize me because of how obese I had become.

Work beckoned for the rest of the night and tiredness at the end of it denied me the opportunity to pause for a few moments and contemplate on this chance encounter. Now, in the relative silence of my “cell” and with depressive thoughts swirling in my head once again, I noted this down as one of those bitter-sweet moments of my life.

In essence, I feel that I have come so far in my life only to have never felt so low.

***

Yesterday, I was reading about the story of the man who got the courts to give him permission to end his wife’s life. It caused quite a hue-and-cry in the US in recent months and because of the publicity given to this case, I managed to read both sides of the story, with an open mind (no less).

On one hand, science decreed that the chances of the woman’s recovery from the vegetative state were almost zero and therefore, it would make perfect sense to assume that the woman, or anyone else for that matter, would no longer wish to prolong her life under such circumstances.

On the other hand, the woman’s parents were still confident that a miracle could be possible as long as she had the breath of life and they were desperately trying any and every means to try to reverse those legal decisions.

I read an article, written by the lawyer representing the woman’s parents, of how her condition was as bleak as it seemed and that she seemed to show signs of resolve in wanting to fight her way out of the comatose state. It was a heartbreaking article of how the woman never left her bed for the past five years of her life and how she was denied the opportunity to have sunlight streaming in from the window of the room because allegedly her husband deemed it necessary to pull down the shutters.

However, nothing was as tragic or traumaticising when the lawyer described how, in a moment of folly, she asked the woman if she still wanted to live. The account of how the woman struggled so hard to express her intention was enough to break my heart and here I was talking about ending my life for the past few days.

Once more, life became precious in my eyes, after reading that account yesterday. I told myself that at the very least, I could still express myself almost effortlessly and that the laws of the land had right in making decisions on my behalf, for my life.

But today, when I stepped into the “cell block”, walked to my “cell” and opened the first e-mail, everything dark, gloomy and depressing started to cascade down on me…

Update: The woman has died. Looking at it, I want to believe that she has gone to a better place.

***

After-note: 1 April 2009

Someone reading that entry casually might have formed certain impressions of the person who wrote it. Or that regular AOT readers would have been perplexed at how things became a downward spiral.

Perhaps Divinity should be thanked for giving us this thing called “hindsight”. Re-visiting this entry shed some light on what could have caused this downward spiral. I thought about how I could have prevented myself from falling and how I could have recovered from the impact.

From this, I came to some conclusions about who I am and what I had become.