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February 2000 Archives

Brother to Sisters

I just turned to my jukebox page and played this midi. It is one of the themes from the Playstation game Final Fantasy 8. It was the last game I played on the Playstation back home in Singapore before coming to Arizona. Hearing this music brings back so many memories that though recent, seem so far away. It seemed only yesterday when I was sitting in front of the television, with Min and Louelle by my side, and Auntie Lyn popping in now and then to see how the game progressed. I miss my sisters. Of course I don’t miss quarrelling with them, or having to ask them to do their homework, but there are so many things that I love about them.

Min has grown up so well. It wasn’t too long ago I was carrying her in my arms, or watching her fling telephones in her bursts of rage. Right now she’s deciding what to study. I guess she hasn’t found what she loves to study, but she’s a smart girl who seems to get pretty good results without working up a sweat.

Louelle, my younger sister is turning more beautiful by the day. At the rate she’s growing, she should be seven feet tall when I return to Singapore. I remember distinctly one wonderful thing she did for me. It was one of my birthdays, and this girl couldn’t have been more than nine years old then, gave me two dollars as a present. I was so touched that tears came out of my eyes. Two dollars to that young girl meant the world at that time. These days, it would probably take all of Bill Gates to make her flinch. Seems like most of our children in Singapore have it good now. I’m not so sure if the shift from the lowly game of marbles to the high tech gameboy is good, and I pray that this lovely sister of mine chooses what is right and good.

Sigh, the music still playing, brings that scene so vividly in my mind. Sitting by my sisters, playstation controller in my hand.

To Min and Louelle, your brother loves you very much. Do remind me often of that fact, in case at times I act like I don’t.

Speaking the Same Language

My new roommate Kieron, has finally arrived. He’s 24, and doing international architecture in UA for a month. It’s funny to see how the people in the dorm cannot understand the English he speaks because of the English accent. I can hear him perfectly fine, and sometime interprets what he says for other people. I’ve to try to be quiet in the mornings when I wake, and sometimes my Asian tendency to be reserved takes over, and I lose the otherwise social behaviour I try to maintain. I guess sometimes I need some space. I shouldn’t have any problem adapting, having come from the Singapore army, where living in close quarters meant having your face constantly in someone else’s armpit. This should be a piece of cake. Nevertheless, I know I have to commit it all to God, rather than play the probabilities. We all know Murphy’s law.

I received my English paper back today. I did better than expected, and I have a lot to thank God for. So far, my results have been good, and it’s not because I strive hard to get them, but I like studying now. I walked home today from my science lab class, and I am convinced that the human mind is capable of understanding infinity, if not bogged down by obstacles like competition, conformism and laziness. I have learnt much since coming to school here. For those of you who think that school here is easier than Singapore, it’s not. It’s different, not in the fact that grades are easier to obtain, but a level of continuous learning is needed here. Back home it was the hit and run of the exams. Here the game is consistency.

I guess life is getting more diverse for me. English roommate, American environment, Chinese church. Doesn’t get more diverse than this. I’ve learnt a lot of things I never knew I never knew, and I’ll include them in my section sometime.

Anyone wants some tea and crumpets?

The Mountains Declare

It’s a beautiful day today, and the sky is the most beautiful blue. I just returned from a gospel meeting, which which is somehow connected to my Dad’s church in Singapore. They managed to contact me and even provided the transport for me to get to the meeting. It was amazing to see how the meetings were exactly the same, even half-way round the globe. It had the same feel to it, had the same format, sang the same songs. The best part is, there is no main officiating body that governs these two geographically separated meetings. There’s no head church or person to say that this is the way meetings should be held. I guess God is the main person.

I felt weird amidst all the people I don’t know. I had problems introducing myself. I don’t even know how to pronounce my name. Is it “Lucian” with the Cian pronounced like magician? Or see-an? Never had to call myself before. I just told them they could call me either - as long as it got my head turning, they got it right.

My roommate came in today. I was sitting in my room, waiting the whole day, and he didn’t turn up. I went to the meeting and came back to a room with the lights off (I usually leave them on). His bed was already made and clothes all on the dresser. He left me a note to say that he’d be back late and apologized if he would wake me up. So, I’d assume he’s a nice guy, who is considerate. His name is Kieron, probably an easier name to pronounce than my own. It would sound like Karen if pronounced fast, but beats having a name that sounds like Lucy-Anne when you want to pronounce it clearly.

School starts tomorrow, and I have the weirdest of English papers to hand up. I have to critique an article on American politics. You’d imagine the amount of extra reading I have to go through just to know who’s the right and left wing of the political arena, what they have been standing for, and their differences. It’s much simpler in Singapore. I won’t comment too much on that for fear of being sued (if you have any comments, you could email me).

Ah, the mountains glow with a deep auburn, shadowed ridges that resemble that of a face, a wise face that has gone through countless ages. I can see why the American Indians belong to the land - it even looks like them. How small I feel when I place myself beside all things large and great. It’s puts my pride back into place.

Old School Rivalry

I’m sitting here and my voice is hoarse. No, it’s not the flu bug. I just came back from a basketball game between Arizona State and my school, the University of Arizona. There’s been an ongoing rivalry between these two schools in terms of athletics, so you would expect some of the loudest screaming you’ve ever heard at games between these two.

Walking through those doors was like going to a surprise party. There were thousands in the stadium, and you couldn’t tell until you stepped through those doors. The myriad of red, blue and white was a deafening noise to the eyes. When the game started and our players came unto the court, the crowd rose from their seats, and I held my breath. It was as if a giant had woken. I’ve never been to the Kallang Stadium in Singapore as soccer never really was a sport I followed. The roar of the Arizona Wildcats was something to behold. When the ASU (Arizona State University) players stepped on court, they looked intimidating in their gold uniforms, like gladiators ready for battle. The Wildcats played really well from the start though, and it wasn’t till some time when ASU scored their first points.

It was a good game (We won). Despite getting a high on the euphoria of being on the winning side, I got a clearer picture of how competition has made us less than what we should be. Eddie House, Arizona State’s top scorer, was booed and the target of many a vulgarity. He did nothing wrong, just playing his game. “Unity” would make people aggressive. No one likes to lose. I feel the unity of course, being from the school, but I cannot turn away from the fact that what happened was as senseless and unjustified as racial discrimination. Sports is ugly. I’ve always thought that sportsmanship was inseparable from sports, but I guess I’m wrong. That’s why we have sportsmanship awards - it’s that rare a lot of the time. I am not totally depressed, I had a good Saturday. It may sound lofty, but I have hopes for mankind, that we may see through the civil strife, and focus on the problems we face as one united people. I’ll do what I can in my own small way, and we’ll see, if it indeed is a better way than this.

Sweet Fellowship

The most wonderful thing happened. I met Cheryl and Matthew online just now and we had a short time of wonderful fellowship. It’s been so long since the three of us were together. Cheryl is now in Stanford, Matthew in the Singapore army, and I in Arizona. The weekends have always made me lonely and wanting for company, and God has so marvelously provided for me tonight. Tonight, I go to sleep under a blanket of warmth and love, knowing that God has given me brothers and sisters in His family whom I can depend on throughout my life. They’re unlike classmates, which somehow fade away. They stay for good, knowing me inside out, encouraging me, rebuking me, teaching me and loving me.

I feel so blessed. I had a short chat with Ai as well. Even though we were half a globe apart, it felt the same as if I were sitting next to her and talking to her about work. I guess that’s what happens when good friends meet. There’s never the awkward silence, in its place, a peaceful loving silent embrace.

We all grew up together, sharing dreams. Now, many years have passed and our dreams still stay as they were, dreams, but we have changed with time. I only pray that time has been kind to us, changing us closer to what God wants us to be, rather than us being changed by the pressures of society and self-ambition. I hope for myself that I have not gone this dark path, where the insatiable greed for self-esteem takes over all which is noble and good. I know I face a real danger of that happening, and I ask that if you read this, and know me well enough, to offer me a warning once in a while to put me in my rightful place, as a servant, of no one but the Most High.

Bridging the Linguistic Barrier

It’s amazing how fast time flies, and I face another weekend. Time on your hands when you have little to do, and no one to meet, becomes a little laborious. It’s hard to find something to do in Tucson, where the bus systems are not as convenient as back home.

My new roommate is due to come in this weekend. I finally cleared the mix-up. He’s from England, is English, and speaks English. It would be quite impossible if he didn’t, and there would really be a communication problem, Latin being so hard to pick up. I don’t know what is in store, but I pray that I’ll be a good roommate, and that he’ll be a responsible one too.

Found out today that Mummy went ahead and printed all my journals from day one for Daddy to read. I also heard that Daddy has been poring over it. It’s kind of hard to picture that. Don’t get me wrong, my Dad and I have a great relationship. Though he’s not as vocal as Mummy, I know that he cares for me a great deal, and in many ways, his leadership in my life has complemented my Mother’s. I am thankful for them both and all that they have done for me. Indeed, God has put His hand in my life so wonderfully. Everything has really fell into place.

I also found out that Daddy bought a new knife. He has this fascination with knives, going to Sungei Road where people lay their goods on the ground to potential customers who flit from mat to mat, surveying the best goods for the best prices. That’s one thing we share, and something my Mother can never understand. She tends to think of us as serial killers. Knives interest me in a weird way. I cannot put my finger on it. Looking at it objectively, it’s just a piece of metal, but yet there are styles and patterns that are artistic, and a functionality you don’t find in pictures hanging on the wall. So, it’s a mixture of usefulness and beauty. Maybe…just maybe that’s it.

The application for dorms for the fall semester is out already, and the deadline is next week. I still don’t know if I want to stay in the dorms or move to an apartment. The dorms are so convenient, I even catch some of my forty winks between classes. The space is small though, and I’ve been living without a roommate these past two months, so adapting to one is still an uncertainty to me. Getting an apartment is a good idea, so if family and friends were to visit the very-interesting town of Tucson, I’d have a place to put them up in. I’ve to make a decision fast…

I made up my mind. I’m going to play basketball. I’ll think about the apartment thing later.

A Kinder, Gentler Message

It rained again today, and it was slightly heavier than two days ago. It’s an amazing sight, everyone walking around with waterproof jackets rather than the usual sweaters, and for the first time since I came, umbrellas appeared. The glossy, plastic feel of the crowd seems almost unreal to the everyday scene of sunshine I’m so used to seeing.

What sort of person would walk around carrying an umbrella here, I wondered. There is an average of 300 sunny days, and of the remaining sixty, a good percentage of them are just cloudy. Well, it must take quite a prepared person to whip up an umbrella.

I’ve been quite a prolific contributor to the WIldcat, which is Tucson’s daily newspaper. It’s free and easily available, but I read it online, and contribute to the discussions there. I would like to think of myself as environmentally friendly, but the real reason behind not getting the papered copy is that I don’t want to fill my wastepaper basket in my room at too fast a rate. Laziness rules.

There was a recent stabbing of a gay student somewhere near campus recently, and there was a march to protest against such hate crimes. I read the Wildcat and saw pictures of people carrying signs “Jesus Loves Gays” or “God loves all Her children”, and I found the focus of the signs entirely wrong. I contributed to the Wildcat, and got a rather defensive response from another reader. I tend to shun away from heated confrontations, because I know that I don’t have the perseverance to argue my case. Winning an argument gives me a distorted sense of success I’d rather not have, and I find it not worth stepping over another for.

I replied to that person, Pattie. I tried to be objective and understanding, explaining that I had nothing against homosexuals, nor was I branding my beliefs on everyone else, but that I could not stand by and watch the God I knew misrepresented. She replied to that my post this morning. I opened it, rather frightened to find out if I had offended someone, or if I had to once again defend myself in an argument that was closed by defensiveness and hostility.

The post Pattie put up was heartwarming. She told me about her search for the truth in her life, and shared personal things which I felt privileged to learn about. I told her about how I came to believe what I believe. It was the most amazing exchange, where two parties have put aside hostility, and accepted differences, willing to learn from each other. I do so wish the discussions in #poetry would be such. Too often had we have to deal with minds that thought they knew it all, unwilling to admit other people’s opinions, yet claiming to have an open mind. Not willing to hear another view without first trodding on everyone else. I cannot sympathise with people like that. It takes an open mind to know that we know so little. That’s a beginning.

Thank you Pattie, for your kinder and gentler message. If only the world could view things like that, we would have stopped fighting ourselves, and concentrate on the many issues at hand, gaining a fuller, richer, and more vibrant knowledge of all that is around us.

Droopy Eyed

I know I’m not the only one who feels that growing up is something we sometimes wish we could do without. As I grow older, I feel that life has become too complicated, too fast, and a little too ugly for me to handle. I often dwell on things that have been constant in my life (if you already haven’t noticed). Things like the blue sky, and the blanket of stars that surround us. Maybe I’m in denial, but I do so believe that if I could retain the nature of a child, I’d be a much better person. I’d want my entire life to be a single moment on a Precious Moments picture. So much for a goal in life.

Today was my short day, classes ending at 1pm. I went to the Recreation Center, and today I scored three whole points! I know, it isn’t as high as Michael Jordan or the rest, but I’m getting there. I’m indeed blessed to have played these few weeks with people who don’t slight me for my lack of skill or size. I’m able to play hard and enjoy the game.

The cool of night and its solitude makes me miss home. Today, it’s no longer scenes of boat quay, but I miss the yellow-lit ambience of Faith’s home, Auntie Joyce’s cooking, and just sitting down in front of the television, with Faith sitting beside me. I thank God for these blessings, and I yearn for the day I return home, and be there again.

The Beginning of a Long Crossroad

It rained last night. While a common sight back home in Singapore, it’s only the second time I’ve seen the ground wet from something other than an over-enthusiastic sprinkler. It started in the afternoon, while I was cycling to one of my classes. Small droplets fell, and you could feel the excitement in the 35000 strong student body that was moving from building to building. Hushed tones of awe and a weird smile was plastered over the face of us Wildcats. It brought out some feelings I’ve never experienced in my life.

In the cold evening wind, the yellow street lights glowed with a certain fuzziness from the rain, as me and a few of my dorm mates went just outside campus to have a smoothie. It’s kinda like a milkshake, with lots of fruit thrown in for good measure. The fuzzy street lights have always brought back childhood memories. It always reminded me of the times I cried as a child, and stared outside the window. The lights on the street would refract through my tears and produce a sparkle that would stay etched in my mind’s eye. Don’t get me wrong, I was never a cry baby as a kid, these moments happened when I had to leave my nanny’s home to spend the weekend with my parents. It’s not that I don’t love my parents, it’s just that when you’re five or six, that’s a lot to handle - moving from one place to another.

I got back my science test results today. A smile flooded my face despite my best efforts to keep it in. I did well beyond my expectations. This subject, which I so dreaded, then loved, gave me the most uncertainty as to the grades I would get, but opened my mind to the infinite universe, and the laws that govern it in a most wondrous, cohesive manner. The Professor even asked me why I wasn’t doing Engineering or Science. To be honest, I don’t know.

I want to be so many things. Not to stroke my ego, or make me look good, but there are so many things that I love, or learnt to love in my life (statistics and brinjals I have to work on). I don’t know if I’ll end up doing MIS like I came to Arizona for, but I want to entrust it all in God’s hands. He knows what’s best.

Artificial Irritation

It’s been some weekend on IRC. For those of you unfamiliar with IRC, it stands for Internet Relay Chat. I often frequent the #poetry channel on Galaxynet servers. It’s almost amazing. I’ve been there a few years now, but these past two days we’ve seen the most interesting ways in which people can irritate others online.

Just Saturday evening I had to ban someone from the channel for being a public nuisance. As usual I tried to reason with the person, hoping there was a misunderstanding of sorts. After a short while, another operator in the channel (who wasn’t as patient) decided enough was enough, and banned the person from the channel. In the next 48 hours, I would have two people tell me how stupid I was, for no apparent reason at all. One of them blamed me for putting poetry on the channel and told me to shut up. I looked at the channel name #poetry, and was utterly shocked and amazed at this person’s lack of literacy. The other just muttered nonsense, saying he was drunk and all, and started insulting others in the channel.

Just when I thought IRC idiot weekend was over, it got extended to include Monday. A few hours ago, there was a smart-aleck in the channel who seemed to have tabs on everyone with a religious belief. He/she positioned him/herself as an agnostic, and apparently had an immense sense of ego. As usual, I just stated my beliefs, not criticizing the other person’s belief. I got called incompetent, and the works. I just cannot believe how some people think they have the answers to the creation of the world, when in fact all of humankind live in constant discovery of the seemingly simple things around us. We have yet to even scrape the surface of creation, and yet we have people who deny the existence of God. It wasn’t too long ago when the earth was thought of as flat, and we have people who question the nature of God.

I’m not forcing the bible on anyone. I believe what I believe, because God has been real to me in my life. I know there are so many things I do not know, and therefore I won’t argue the theories of creation, for I know they are but a movement of hands who belong to one greater than myself. I do not say I know what is cosmic in nature, for my knowledge is so small, compared to the almost infinite universe we live in.

I’m enthralled by the works of creation that is all around me. I’m amazed at mathematic laws, at the consistency of Physics, at the wonder of words. We are discovering this as we go along. No one can claim to even have invented any of this. The word discover means only to uncover what is hidden. It has always been there. I was shocked at this person’s lack of awe, when faced with infinity.

I also learnt something about myself. Despite my best efforts, I get defensive whenever someone judges me as incompetent or stupid. I get offended when I get slighted. I know some of you think of it as human nature, and you’re probably right, but it’s not Christian nature. I’m not being self-righteous, which is why I’m even telling you my weakness, but I know what I should be, and what I should not.

I always look out for friends online when I meet people that irritate me. I ask them urgently to hold me back, to help me. I’ve found new friends, and I treasure the old ones. They watch out for me, that the Hyde inside does not take full reign of the things I say or do. They were there for me these few days. Indeed they were godsend, to see that the worst of me didn’t fully manifest itself. Thank you, Navelle, Nadir and Romzie for watching over me and standing up for me. I appreciate it.

So even though it seemed that it had been a horrible weekend, some friendships were formed, and others forged in gold.

Search for a Church

Being a constant receiver of Ruth’s Wit and Wisdom series, I must say it’s the most weird combination of heartwarming, hilarity and innocence packed in one line. To those English experts out there, yes I know that the last line was a bending of your inflexible grammatical laws. I apologize for the intrusion, do forgive me my apparent lack of vocabulary…heartwarmth just didn’t sound the same, and warmth was too broad a word. Those of you who don’t know who Ruth is, she’s a little girl in church who’s shown the most enthusiasm in obtaining a hotmail account since Bill Gates. Oh, Bill is NOT a little girl, I’m sorry about that.

I’ve been looking for a church for some time now. It’s almost like detective work, you need to ask the right questions, ask the right people, and have an instinct for what God wants you to do.

I’ve been to a few. I went to one that was pretty charismatic, the population made up mostly of college students. Another was a Methodist church that seemed to be run by women. And there was the Presbyterian church that had a short morning meeting with a really small congregation.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problems with college students, women or small congregations. The one thing that I felt uncomfortable about was that they asked for money upfront. I was reading Matthew when Jesus sent His disciples out into the world, that He told them not to bring money, much less ask of it. I’m in no position to argue this case, I know there are also places in the bible that state that a worker is owed his/her dues. It just didn’t feel right to me.

I got a tip off after asking the Chinese food place I eat occasionally at, that there was a Chinese church at fifth and sixth (for those of you unfamiliar with American road systems, it’s the intersection between fifth street and sixth avenue). I’ve looked for it before, finding only a First Baptist Church, with the Pastor’s name in a small sign in front of the church. I’m not a linguist, but I was pretty sure that wasn’t Chinese.

I decided to go there and try looking again this morning. I cycled there, looked at the sign, and wondered aloud to God where the Chinese church could be. I cycled aimlessly around and came to an intersection. Waiting for the cars to pass, I saw a car with two Chinese in it, dressed up pretty nicely. No one wakes up early Sunday morning and dresses nicely unless going to church! A low-speed pursuit entailed (hey you try chasing a car in a bicycle). I lost them at one of the turnings, and I decided to head back nearer my dorm. Passing by First Baptist again, I saw that car parked opposite the church. Then I saw a few more cars coming and stopping in front of the small building owned by First Baptist and used as an “educational center”. More Chinese stepped out, and went into the building. I felt like I struck gold.

I spent the next ten minutes looking for a place to park my bicycle. I gave up, and just asked another Chinese passer-by. I brought my bicycle into the church and placed it beside the wall. They meet at the basement of this building, in a small and unflamboyant manner. It’s a small gathering that reminded so much of church back home. The testimony by an elder sister was good, about how she overcame cancer, and what God told her through it all. It was the longest service I’ve attended since coming to Tucson, ending at around 1 in the afternoon, but I know that God doesn’t ask of us what He’s not prepared to give. The offering box lay inconspicuously at the side of the door.

Being new, I had to stand up and introduce myself. It’s been so long since I was new. There was a sense of belonging though, despite the small differences. I felt amazed by God’s hand, that despite being half-way round the earth, here were His people, worshipping Him in the same way, all through the years. I may attend this church from now on. Oh, did I mention the church had the entire service in Mandarin? Left the place with a headache, but at least I had my share of spiritual nourishment. Thank God.

Friend in the Hood

Came back from playing a game of basketball, had a shower, and am now waiting for my food to heat up in the rice cooker. It’s a beautiful night, and the full moon is shining brightly in the sky. That reminds me - I have to measure the diameter of the moon using trigonometry for my science lab report due Monday.

That’s the kind of things we do here at the U of A I guess. Though seemingly pointless, it’s the application of theories that so interests me. Now I see how things are used, abstract ideas made concrete. And for those of you who know me really well, a game of basketball always gets my thoughts going about life.

It’s not the academic thinking that gets triggered. It’s funny, but every time I come back from a game, I get very introspective. I begin to see clearly, about my life, about God, about my relationships. I know that basketball has little to do with these, but it always brings me back. I remember first playing basketball when I was 13. I went to school six hours early, in the wee hours of the morning, just to shoot hoops. There in the cool of the morning I often prayed to God while shooting my three pointers, and I remember committing the basketball game to God. It seems that He speaks to me every time I come back from a game. It’s a most blessed thing.

Basketball at the U of A has been an eye opener. They play the game so differently here. They play much more competitively, and therefore the skill level is higher. Actually, it’s not a higher skill level, but a different mindset that differs from basketball in Singapore. Back home, it was just a game. Here, every time I step on the court, there would be some session of arguing about a call - often including vulgarities and dark countenances. It seemed that every time I stepped up to play, my love for the game died a little.

I make stupid mistakes I never do at home. I fumble the basketball like I first played the game. I cannot play with that mindset - that if I were to do something wrong, my teammates would be upset with me. It’s just too unlike my game, where shots were innocently fired, and friends made. Here, there was always a tension looming over my head like a cloud, waiting for me to make a mistake, to take a bad shot. A glare here, a sigh there, all these just throwing me off, every time.

Today was not such a day. I played full-court for around two hours. Oh, I made those stupid mistakes all right. I missed a shot right under the rim with no one guarding me. I passed the ball to the wrong person twice in the space of two minutes. The person I was guarding was a good foot taller than me. I ran back to play defense after my mistakes - and whispered “my bad” - which apparently means “my mistake” in these parts - to no one in particular.

“Hey no problem man…”, I heard him say to me. He ran up and down the court with me, sometimes shaking his head at my mistakes, not in despair, but in jest. I may not have scored any, or done much. But I could feel it coming again, the love of the game that made me put so many hours into the game. Thank you, whoever you are.

Away From Home Alone

It is Friday once again. It’s almost funny, that I hope for Friday during the week, and when it comes, I hope for the week to begin again. It’s not that I love school, it’s just that the weekends aren’t the most happening times for me.

Most people in the dorm that I speak to regularly have gone back to Phoenix, back to their homes and families, and girlfriends. The ones that stay behind do so because they have parties to attend, women to meet and drinks to consume. I’m being presumptuous. But I don’t see any of them walking around wondering what to do. That’s me.

It’s a good thing I came up with the homepage, where I place my thoughts. It keeps me busy, and is a (sort of) relaxing thing for me to do. I intend to go to the Mall this Saturday, but like every other Saturday, the thought of taking the bus, and wasting a day on transport would probably turn me off again.

These few weeks have been cramped with tests and quizzes, and many Wildcats (term for the people of U.A.) walk around with a little stress on their faces. Justin (my neighbour) takes tests very seriously, and to be honest sometimes I worry for him. I guess he’s just more goal-oriented than I am.

It’s hard not to be. I’ve done well in the tests I’ve had till now. I’m afraid of it becoming a game, where people crowd around, watching, waiting for you to drop that ball. The pressure builds up every time you do something good, accumulating to the point you can take it no longer. I do not want to be trapped in that never-ending spiral. I just want to learn, to acknowledge the things I do not yet know, and seek them out. Grades, results, should not contribute to my sense of well-being too much. It’s not right to be weighed by your test scores.

It’s evening here. Good morning Singapore. I want so much to see the sunshine start to climb over the shadows, and onto the face of my beloved, sprinkling a glitter of magic dust over her eyelashes. The smell of tea, and half-boiled eggs on the table - and I’m home again.

Utopia is Where You Make of It

After two months of living in a two person dorm room alone, news has finally come that a roommate will be assigned to me. Details on this roommate are really sketchy, and I’m certain some of it is wrong. At least I know THIS is wrong - One, my R.A. (resident assistant for those of you who have never watched Felicity) told me that my new roommate comes from England. Two, my roommate is here on a language course to learn English as a second language. I’m no expert on linguistics, but the word “English” had to come from someplace. I can’t even think of another national language used in England. Maybe they switched national languages while I was having my fever.

I’m looking forward to the new roommate, contrary to what most of my other dorm residents think. Having been through the army back home in Singapore, invasion of privacy, lack of personal space, living with other’s disgusting habits have become a act as natural as breathing. I look forward to showing someone around, taking care of the person, and watching out for him.

I miss home. It’s funny, the scenes that come to my mind are that of Boat Quay and sitting there with my friends by the Singapore River. For those of you who know me, I’ve only been there twice, and I don’t go pubbing. I guess I miss the hustle and bustle of the city beat. I miss Parkway Parade, the place where I spend most of my leisure time. I miss the convenience of having a huge mall just at your backyard.

I miss the possibility of meeting up with friends. I could just say on IRC “hey let’s go to Geylang and eat Tao Huay Chui” and there was the possibility of it happening. It has never happened, because I have never asked, and that is because I’ve never thought of that possibility being taken away from me.

I’m not anti-Singapore, like a lot of vocal people I know. Coming here, it has only proven to me what I always believed. That the Utopia you seek you can never find in a particular place, but in everyplace. It is found in the falling of leaves, in the warm morning sunshine, or in the chaste evening snow. It is found where you want to find it, and finding it, you impress upon your heart a memory of joy that helps us move on.

For those of you not from Singapore reading this “Geylang” is a place in Singapore, and “Tao Huay Chui” is Soya bean milk. Maybe we’ll try it together someday.

A Letter to My Mum

Hi Mummy,

thank you for your reminders. I’ll have to get a sieve before I can make the Chrysanthemum tea. I’ll do that as soon as I get to the mall. I’m feeling much better, if you haven’t already read that in my homepage.

I’ve just banked in my scholarship money and the balance in the savings account now stands at around *. The bank has asked me if I wanted to see their investments people to invest it. I’d much rather you do these things, knowing myself, I’d spend too much time analyzing everything. I don’t want the money to be stagnant here, earning the measly amount on interest. And it’s tying up quite a significant sum you could much rather use. Only problem I see would be the rising US dollar. If you want me to send it back to your account, could you provide me with the details?

How are things at home? I speak to Min on the internet once in a while. She’s always doing her literature. Don’t think she’s found a love for it yet, but at least I don’t detect an insurmountable amount of dislike for the wonderful subject. Things are great here, I’m feeling so much better. I couldn’t breathe in deep for the past few days, then this morning I sneezed and breathed in deep, and a muscle popped back into place. So everything is ok, except for a slight cough. I’ll still stay away from basketball and heaty foods for the next week or so. God has really been watching over me. Haven’t heard from you in a while. You must be pretty busy, or did something go wrong with your email connection? I had a job interview, which I recorded down in my journals on my WebPages. I decided not to go for it, even though the money offered seemed to be good. It’s a sales job, and I cannot sell something I don’t know about to a people I know little about. So I’ll be back this summer. Oh, I’ve to get in touch with the lady at the travel agency, I’ll do that by the end of this week…it’s been a busy few weeks with lots of tests. I’ve done very well, but I don’t want pride to get to my head (again all this is recorded on my homepage).

Well I’ve to go do some homework, and readings. You take care. And send my love to Mama, Auntie Lyn, Daddy and the two treasures at home. Tell them that I love them, and I love you.

your son.

For Want of Simplicity

Just came back from the informational job interview. To think I was really excited about it. It took the people there a good hour before they told us the job. I felt a little funny when we were half an hour in and still talking about the money.

I thank God that the decision wasn’t made more difficult for me. I had wanted to go back home to help out in the church camp. Didn’t want to rule out this option, so I went for this informative session. They wanted us to sell student handbooks - sort of like school notes for American students who are in high-school. That’s definitely one thing I cannot sell. I wasn’t even educated here, let alone know the stuff in those books. I don’t know about the Constitution, or who the past Presidents were.

Maybe I’ll never get used to America. It’s not that I don’t like it - I do. I had to fill up a form during the session, and the questions went like “what is your greatest strength?” or ” what do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” Maybe I’m too Asian to sell myself so bluntly. For the question “what do you think you can develop to enable you to attain success in your life?” I scribbled down “more Godliness”.

I guess I want to live the idealistic kind of life Louisa May Alcott wrote about in “Little Women”. A life so full of innocence, so full of life. Sigh. It almost feels like I long for the life I never had.

A Reawakening of a Love Affair

There are some things I know I should do. This is one of them. For those of you who have already read my update, you’d already know that I’m having one of the worst fevers of my life. It’s not so hot as it would seem, but rather I shivered so badly I thought I tore a muscle in my back. I was unable to get up from my bed for a few hours.

It was really depressing. I’m not usually one to get depressed. I’ve always thought of myself as strong, as someone who could take whatever life and God gave me. I was wrong. I prayed like a little child, not knowing what was ahead. There is no description too great for what I felt at that point in time. I felt like going back to Singapore, back to where people would care for me, and make me feel better. There were points in time when I even thought there was a possibility of my being bed-ridden, for the pain was excruciating and near the middle of my shoulder blades. It was that bad.

Something drew me to read my bible. Not that I don’t read my bible, but this time something drew me. I turned to Matthew chapter 8. It spoke so much about healing of lepers, the healing of Peter’s mom (who was also having a fever), the healing of the Centurion’s servant. Funny thing is, it wasn’t all these that spoke to me. It was the end of the chapter, where Jesus cured a man of possession and set the demons into a drove of many hogs. The hogs, being now possessed, went right into the sea and drowned. The people of that town then beseeched Jesus to leave that place.

I am like the people of that town. So many times I’ve been happy with what I have, forgetting the Giver who provided all these. I chose the hogs over Christ Himself. I thought little of being cleansed, and more of the “wealth” that I’ve come to know in my life. Now, not being sure if I could even walk without hunching badly, I wanted Christ so much. Like the Centurion I knew that He had the power, with just one spoken word to save me.

I slept early (again, something drew me), at 10pm. It’s now midnight. I opened my eyes and stared at the ceiling. I had left my door slightly ajar, so if things got really bad, I could just shout for help, and not have to open the door. My neighbour knocked at that very moment, and asked me if I knew that my door was open. I don’t know why, but that little concern overwhelmed me. I now knew that indeed, He is watching over me. I sat up. (Did you read that??? I sat up!) Walked straight down to the toilet and filled a bottle of water and walked back. I had slept for two hours. Don’t think that was enough to do anything…been sleeping the whole weekend and only felt worse. And in that instant I knew that Jesus had spoken the word. And that He was by my side. And I thanked Him, not for the gift, but for the presence.

Coming to type this email, I had received another email from Huiling who said that she’d be praying for me tonight, in Michigan where she’s at. And my IRC beeped, and another friend asked me how I was feeling, because I had set my screen-name to Elec_Sick. I KNOW that He cares.

Empirical Evidence of a Logical God

The much feared science test was today. I wrote in my journals yesterday that I understood science much better - it’s amazing what a little pressure can do to you. I wanted to study last night, but only got ten minutes worth of work done before my eyes started tearing. I set my alarm clock to 1am, hoping that two hours of sleep might somehow give me enough energy to study.

breeep breeep An arm reaches out, shuts the alarm off, and manages to change the alarms settings to 7am just before slinking back into bed. The 1am alarm was a joke. my body didn’t even take it seriously. My mind, on the other hand, reasoned that I had around two hours between classes in the morning. My mind, obviously forgot about the time I take to walk from place to place, and the breakfast I had to eat.

One more hour. I arrive at the Physics and Atmospheric Sciences Building early, got seated down on any available chair, took out my notes…and oh my gosh…..it looked like greek to me. Slightly flustered and almost panicking, I pull out a few sheets in my notebook that I had not know existed. “Sample Exam”….I flipped through it, trying to solve questions. Only thing I accomplished was getting more flustered. I made careless mistakes, and things that once were clear…now weren’t. Study study….

Ten more minutes. I’m just starting to understand things again…and I don’t have enough time. If only…oh whaddahey, I’ll just trudge in to face my fate.

On seeing the paper, I set out to do the first question. I remember having to do four out of five of the questions. I chose a simple velocity problem. It was a problem alright. No, it wasn’t difficult. I just couldn’t solve it for some reason. It took me a good ten-fifteen minutes to finally see my stupid mistakes and get it down. I could do three of the four calculation questions. Question number one was this historical question, about Ptolemy and his ancient friends, and covered scientific history all the way to Newton. I had intended to leave the historical question out, then I read the instructions - Do Question ONE, then choose three out of four. I had to do question one??? But…but…

Argh. Just scribbled a few names I could recall on the paper. Then I wrote. And I wrote, and I wrote. It all started coming back to me. Names, theories, everything started making sense again. By the end of it I felt so impassioned about Newton and his contribution to science that I scared myself. I was starting to sound like some physicist who spent his life trying to prove the earth went round the sun.

I only have God to thank for this. He really has been watching over me all this while. I don’t know how I’ll do for the test, but I do know, that God has given all of us a wonderful mind, whose sole purpose is to understand His. Whether it is by physics, literature, music or math, we see His creation. His beauty in nature, His nature in literature, His logic in math, His amazing symmetry in physics.

Thank you God, and thank you Dr. Donahue for not making it so hard to see the wondrous beauty that is all around us.

Valentine's Alone

Woke up this morning still with a slightly sore back. Almost overslept, good thing Faith called me up from Singapore in time to wake me up. I thank God for His wonderful healing, but so much more for the lessons that I’ve learnt throughout this time of sickness. So many people have emailed me to ask me how I was, and though I have yet to receive an email from my mother, I know it’s only because she hasn’t checked it yet, being as technologically savvy as she is. Good thing too, don’t want to get her all worried.

I climbed out of bed and went for my morning English class. Sat outside for a while, waiting for the students to come out so that I could go in. Didn’t notice the huge note on the door saying that the class has been cancelled. I would have skipped and rejoiced on the way back to my dorm, if my illness and worry for my teacher hasn’t prevented me from doing so. Really hope Dr. Roepcke hasn’t come down with the same flu.

I have a science test tomorrow, and I didn’t study for it the entire weekend, being scarcely able to get out of the horizontal position even to drink water. Today I made the mistake of going to class one whole hour early, and took the time to read through my science textbook. Today was kinda different….I understood the darned book! It was like something in my brain got turned on…and the machinery inside was whirling around…

My T.A., Jennifer has been most kind to me. I’ve always come across as the annoying kid with lots of questions. Being Asian, I’ve not been the most vocal of people. I’m glad that here in the U of A my questions do not go unanswered. Jennifer took some time to answer some of the questions I’ve had. It’s especially precious, as Einstein noted, that time is relative. On Valentine’s day, evening time is VERY VERY precious. Well, for everyone but me. My computer waits for me day and night.

Oh one thing I forgot to mention…I watched Miss Saigon yesterday. (wait…weren’t you SICK REAL BAD yesterday?) Ok…it’s marvelous what two advils can do to you. It was AFTER watching it when I concussed on my bed. It was a beautiful musical, and if you let yourself get into it, tears are bound to flow. I preferred Les Miserables though, of course, who could take me away from my beloved Eponine. Jennifer…I do hope you make some time to watch Miss Saigon…and anytime if you can Les Miz!

I received a call sometime yesterday evening. Someone from the school wanted to offer me a job during Summer. I don’t know whether to accept it or not, but apparently I was short listed for this offer. They’re paying around US$7000 for three months. The money’s great, it would look good on my resume…yadda yadda yadda…Just pray for me will y’all? I just want what He wants. I know that I’m needed back for church camp, and my heart is always there. I won’t rule this one out, and I’d appreciate any advice any of you can give me on this one.

Well I have got to go. To all you out there…Happy Valentine’s. To the most beautiful girl I know (you know who you are) hugs….I love you.

An Introduction

This is my first journal, and I guess I have to begin with a short introduction. That’s right, I haven’t written my diary in a long time.

I’m a student here at the University of Arizona, and I came here from Singapore about two months ago. It’s been tough, coming in the Spring Semester when everyone is already settled into their little niches, with friends of their own. I have made a few friends, but there’s nothing like starting out in a new place with people who are as lost as you are.

Woke up today and boy did my back ache. Took me a while to figure out I was suffering from the flu, nasty fever and the works. The only thing that’s helping me look straight at the computer screen right now is two Advil tablets and turning the screen brightness down.

It has been quite a journey I’ve been on. I had made up my mind to study in the United States quite a long time ago, when I was working in Chicago for an internship. I remember writing down a list, a list of ‘good’ schools that I wouldn’t mind attending. All my friends made it to good schools - Cheryl went to the University of Michigan, Mark went to Duke University, and Joel went to Notre Dame. It was not a conscious effort to compete, but it was taken for granted that only these schools would be acceptable to me. My list wasn’t long - University of North Carolina, Indiana University, Texas at Austin… Arizona was not in my list, namely because it had not made the Top tier as ranked by US News.

God would see to it that my pride would have to be in check. I missed all my application deadlines, failing to take the required SATs in time. The tuition fees would cost more than expected with the rising US dollar. I knew that God was wrestling me.

Going through college directories, Faith came across Baylor University, which I noted was not on the top tier. I dismissed it right away - not good enough, I thought. God bugged me endlessly about Baylor. I had problems sleeping thinking about it. It came to a point I broke down and almost shouted ‘ok! We’ll just do what You want!’. And then the peace came back to my life. He whispered to me in the most intimate way. I held my dreams in my arms, not wanting to let go, but finding myself unable to resist. God gave me back my list, and He allowed me peace, peace to choose whichever University I wanted to attend.

There I saw, that we’ve been fooled for so long. That the desire to be number one is so deeply encoded into our lives. We consciously or subconsciously compete with one another, and it becomes an endless race. I chose Arizona, leaving my application to the good Lord’s hands - knowing that it was best for me.

So here I am, writing this to you, from a little room in Arizona.

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