Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

April 2000 Archives

Burger Rivalry

Had a pretty interesting encounter today. Andy (my dorm mate) and I were going to McDonald’s for dinner when the guy working there just decided to lock the door on seeing us climb up the stairs. We arrived at 7:58pm, and I assume the closing time was 8pm. It was one of the rudest gestures I’ve seen. The two people three steps ahead of us got in though.

When we went to Burger King at 9:18pm later on, wanting to try the Caesar Chicken burger, we found out the closing time was 9pm for weekends. As we were walking away, the manager came out and told us we could use the drive-through if there weren’t any cars in the driveway. He also threw in some onion rings, and gave us extra large chicken patties. All this for 99 cents per burger.

On receiving the most wonderful gift, Andy and I joked about whether we should send the burgers for lab testing, to test for toxic chemicals or things of that sort. It’s sad to see that nowadays when we encounter someone mean, we shrug our shoulders and walk away, but when we encounter someone nice, we doubt the person’s sincerity. It wasn’t too long ago mean people were the exception to the rule.

I only hope I do not get too discouraged with the way the world has changed around us.

Quarter Life Crisis

I apologise for not having written for two days. It’s probably the longest stretch of silence I’ve had since starting the journals (I know for some of you….it’s a welcome silence). Well here I am rambling yet again! You shall have no peace!

I got an email from Sarah, who told me not to lump all of youth into one collective junk pile. She is right. I should not stereotype any group, for Sarah has proven me so wrong. She’s really been one of the most wonderful young people I’ve had the chance of knowing, even if it is solely through email. Sarah, you’re a jewel.

Was walking home from the recreation center today and stopped in my tracks just looking at the stars. They are wonderfully bright tonight. I remember a quote that said “I can never look at the world the same way after having seen the moon rise on the other side of the planet”. I often wonder how much I have changed. It has been unnoticeable to me, but when I return to Singapore, will I come across as a different person? If I have changed, I only hope it is for the better.

Coming here has certainly broadened my knowledge and my perspectives. I begin to understand other cultures, not necessarily agreeing, but understanding. I’m really looking forward to going home. The food! Oh the food. The last thing I want to do is head for a McDonald’s or any other fast food chain.

I met my twelve year old sister on IRC today. It feels almost surreal in a sense. She tells me that she has made many friends on IRC. My natural instinct is to fear and be protective, but I realise that she has grown up, and I too have aged. My baby sister who had a single best friend the past eleven years of her life has now found the internet. I can almost imagine what it would feel like for a father to give away his daughter at her wedding. Well…I’ve always been told that I’m more protective of my sisters than my parents are. I guess I do have to learn to let go a little. laughs My short stint at parenting.

The finals are coming up soon, and I fear that I may be unable to update the journals as often as I normally would. I’ll also be moving my computer to storage, and I hope to continue updating you from Singapore. I would love to share the emotions and events that happen there to you here in America. So do forgive me if there are lapses. I thank God for you who have taken pains to read every single line of nonsense I’ve written. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone out here.

God bless.

To My Dearest Baby Sister

Being an operator on the IRC channel #Poetry is not an easy task. For those of you unfamiliar with what an operator does, an operator is the person who is given the authority (and responsibility) to govern the channel. #Poetry sure has changed a lot in the past few months. The main troublemakers used to be anti-Christian pseudo-intellectuals coming in to wreak havoc, defaming a book they have never read. Now it’s filled with a greater number of troublemakers, and unlike the pseudo-intellectuals, these don’t even try to spell properly. They spew vulgarities and racist remarks, often agitating anyone for no particular reason at all.

I have been one of the main targets, not because I’ve done anything at all, but simply because I’m an operator. It’s been really vexing and I’m thankful for those who drop private messages and tell me not to bother with them, or encourage me. I’m not afraid of my reputation being tarnished, for I have none. I’m vexed by the fact that this is our youth, the “leaders of tomorrow”. While many discount it, saying it’s phase, things have changed. The youth of yesteryear were not like this. Singapore’s youth, or maybe even the world’s, have grown up angry young people, full of hatred and spite. They are likely to attack anything that moves, regardless of agenda. They demand freedom of speech, an end to censorship, not wanting to face the fact that with freedom comes responsibility. The scariest thing of this all is this: I see it in my younger sister.

She’s the most aggressive of us all, often clawing people (literally) to get her way. She shows no generosity or consideration at times. I have seen the beautiful side to her. I stood dumbstruck when she gave me two dollars for my birthday a number of years ago. I remember then that two dollars meant quite a bit to her. I was struck with awe, at the beauty of humanity, how we are dual-natured, as heavenly as we are earthly. I only hope and pray that she grows out of the self-centered nature, and rise above the values taught in today’s society. She will rise like the Phoenix that is her name, out of the ashes, a bright light. And I will once again stand dumbstruck, at the beauty of God’s creation.

American, British and Aqueous

Almost felt like skipping classes this morning, but after forcing myself to the first class I found strength to continue the day. I’m glad I made it to all of my classes. Getting some fresh air and sunshine was good for me, and I came back to my room this evening feeling thankful for life’s little pleasures God so abundantly provides us.

I gave a short speech to a group of Americans who were going abroad for studies. It was just a short sharing of my own experience coming to a foreign land, and telling them what they should expect, or not expect. During the meeting, it occurred to me that most Americans (at least the ones in that auditorium) did not have a clue as to the stereotype other people had of them. It was news to them that we had jokes about the loud, humourless yanks. I do not condone stereotypes, for they are a symptom of a narrow mind. Even in America there are so many different regions, each with their little idiosyncrasies.

The difference between American humour and British humour is indeed great. Even now, I have found myself unable to laugh at the comedians that put up a comedy hour every Friday at one of the auditoriums. American humour tends to be highly contextual in nature, making fun of the current issues and events that are happening. It is also rather aggressive in nature, often attacking an individual, even to the point of slander. British humour is concentrated on wordplay and little sparring sessions between individuals. I find that easier to swallow. It is hard to laugh at someone else’s expense, especially when that particular someone is not there to defend his or her own reputation. I find Singaporean jokes drifting towards American humour, and I am worried that we might learn the aggression and highly competitive nature found here. So much for meritocracy, the jewel of our nation’s development.

First Sunrise

It was a really dull and boring day today. I seemed to have come down with the flu bug. It could be that, or the pollen in the air is getting in my system. I spent almost the entire day in my room, only going out in the evening to get some groceries.

Oh yes, for the first time since I’ve arrived I saw the sun rise from my window. Well, not exactly the sunrise, but I saw the sky’s transition from black to blue. I’m not one who sleeps in really late, it’s just that the sun rises really early in Arizona. I saw it happen at 5:30 in the morning.

I did meet someone interesting on IRC though. It was amazing how he and I though many miles (I only use miles because miles goes better with the word ‘many’) apart were so similar in our outlook of life. I have found souls similar to mine, but this was the first time the particular soul was of a similar gender. It was nice to know I wasn’t alone in my perspective of the world. Too often have I felt ashamed that males in our society refuse to uphold what is good and noble, and would rather choose to embrace a base and self-centered way of living, or treating women etc.

My nose is all clogged up, my eyes are watery, and I feel like a ton of bricks knocked me upside on the head. Oh, by the way, happy Easter.

Life At Best Is Very Brief, Like The Falling Of A Leaf

It has been a lonely day today. I played basketball this morning, but apart from that I’ve had minimal human contact. Zahid is nowhere to be found, and Debbie has gone to her aunt’s for Easter. The rest of the folks have gone home for the Easter weekend, and the few that are still here have gone drinking and partying. I haven’t done as much work as I would have liked to do this weekend, so I guess I’ll just have to do it tomorrow.

It’s approaching the finals, and most of the tests are out of the way. This semester has passed by so fast, and I’m beginning to see that my life is a really short period of time. I only hope that I make good use of the time.

A poet’s life is summed up in the poems written. I wonder what poem my life will be.

Spring Fling and Pollen-filled Air

Slept so late yesterday trying to finish my paper. Funny thing was I felt more refreshed this morning than yesterday when I had more sleep than usual. Well the refreshing feeling lasted for a few hours. When I got back to my room after class I knocked out for a few hours. It’s good to know that I don’t have that much homework for the weekend.

A bunch of people from the dorm have gone to Disneyland, a program organised by the dorm. Looking at them boarding the bus, I wonder if I should have signed up and gone. Have I turned less adventurous? Coming to America I wanted to have a chance to explore the place as well as study. It seems that I’ve become a little too pragmatic for my own taste. Then again, the thought of roller-coasters doesn’t really appeal to me. I do not want to spend money unnecessarily, my parents work hard to support me while I’m here, and I’m thankful. When I was in the army, I didn’t depend on them that much financially, and now coming back to a state of dependence I feel a certain debt I never felt before. I know I owe them a debt of love, and that God has indeed provided so abundantly for me through them.

Spring has come upon Tucson. The air is filled with pollen. I can feel it when I breathe, and I understand why it triggers people’s allergies. I’m fine so far. Coming from a place that has no seasons, this is the first time I’ve seen spring of any kind. The oranges are appearing on the trees, and flowers are sprouting out everywhere. It’s easy to forget to look, for it’s a gradual process, rather than the burst of colour often depicted in poems and books.

The final examinations are coming up soon, and I have quite a bit of reading I want to catch up on. This semester has passed by so fast and I’ve learnt so many things they don’t teach in schools back home. It has opened my eyes to a whole new world of knowledge. Knowledge that may not be relevant to money making activities, but knowledge that we ought to know as human beings in a wonderfully created world.

Nearly Died Waking Up

I coined a new phrase today. “Nearly died waking up”. That was my answer when a friend asked me how my day was. Yes, it was that much effort trying to get out of bed this morning. It has been a hectic week, with a test today and two papers due tomorrow. Funny thing is, I slept early last night, in anticipation for my last minute work plans. Seems the extra sleep made me even more tired.

Ronald sent me a very sweet picture of two really tiny babies, one with an arm over the other’s back. Apparently the story was that these two were twins, and one of them had little chance of survival. The nurse disobeyed hospital policy and placed the two of them in the same incubator. The stronger one put his arm over the other in an embrace. The heart rate of the weaker one stabilised, and temperature went to normal. It’s a gentle reminder to help our fellow man. Thank you, all of you who read my ramblings on a regular basis, for your encouragement and prayers.

It’s now three in the morning, and I have just finished editing and printing my two papers. Maybe it’ll be easier to wake up now that I’m sleeping late.

God of Hamburgers

Ronald asked in the guest book how we knew which God was God. In my last entry I was just amazed at the people who could with all firm conviction say that there is no God. As to which God is real, the debate continues, and it is something you can only find out on your own, and for yourself. I relate well to the movie “Contact”. It doesn’t shove the idea of God in your face. In fact, it never even did conclude that. But it did establish that there are things we simply take by faith. There are things scientific empirical evidence cannot prove. The more I learn, the more I’m aware that I do not know.

Went to Gentle Ben’s for the first time tonight. Kieron used to go there every night for a drink with his friends. I went there with Derek and Emmitt, and was told that the food there was good value for money. I have never eaten a burger that big. Thank God I was in the carnivorous mood, after playing some basketball.

This week’s tough. I still have a test tomorrow and two papers due Friday. I enjoy the work, as it gives me an outlet to express myself, but too much work is also a dampener of the spirit. I hope Singapore learns this fact soon. Our children are carrying schoolbags larger than themselves.

Well I had better be heading back to my work.

A Quantum Leap of Faith

laughs I know that yesterday’s entry was nothing short of nonsensical, and that it only makes sense to me, and even then, only at times. Dreams are such weird things which in themselves hold deep emotion and meaning, yet no logic. Maybe Ronald is right, Heaven is not understandable by human minds.

Yesterday was the last day of my science lab for this semester. Time really passes by so quickly. I remember first groaning about how this three hour lab was only worth one credit - a bad investment so to speak. Now I look back at the many things I have learnt from using my own hands and applying these abstract science formulae into usable everyday context. I have a photo on my desk taken with a pinhole camera we made on Monday. It is beautiful in its simplicity, and its shades of grey give it an arty look. Also on my desk is a small engine that runs on batteries. I hope to amaze some children one of these days, maybe even my own in the not-so-faraway future. To open their minds, and tell them that learning is so much more than making the grade.

Managed to do quite a bit of work tonight, reliving the scientific discoveries of the early 1900s. The discovery of the electron, the dual nature of light and quantum mechanics. It was a time when people were just about to proclaim “now with Newton’s laws we can pretty much explain everything”. Boy were they so wrong. In quantum mechanics there even exists an uncertainty principle by some scientist whose name is too long to remember. It’s simply a principle that says, “we have given up trying to measure everything - the electron is there, where exactly we do not know, but it is”. This is accepted as sound scientific principle. Why then, do so many people doubt the existence of God, when the evidence is right smack in their faces, is right smack THEIR faces? We will see Him face to face one day. Maybe then, and only then, will everyone believe.

Nightmares of Baking

I have decided to change the font of my journals, for I have suddenly discovered how hard they were to read when in a hurry. I hope this is easier on your eyes, and I apologise for taking so long to discover something that stares me in the face everyday.

Had a weird dream last night. Not that all my other dreams make sense. We forget most of our dreams anyway, but I woke up from this one with a jolt, and made a written copy of what went on in the dream that very moment.

I dreamt that there was a monster in the oven of a small house I was staying in, and it was a sort of brown gelatin-like monster that had lost its moisture. It was now a brown dry crust, imprisoned in the oven. Somehow I made the mistake of pouring hot chili sauce over the monster, thinking that the heat of the spice would kill it. The moisture from the sauce revived it, and it started to quake and move. I closed the oven door and stood a distance away, hoping it would stay contained. It oozed out of any small gaps there were to be found, slowly but surely escaping its prison.

I picked up the phone and dialed a number in desperation. It was someone I knew who encountered the monster before. The very next moment, I found myself outside the house, and met by the girl whom I supposed I called. She pulled my arm, and we ran away from the house to some shops nearby. We ran into a pawn shop, and I remember the deep red lighting within the shop, and the smell of incense. A fat lady sat at the counter, adjusting the time on her clock. She asked me if she should put the time to a different time zone to make it easier for her to figure out what time it was in the other country. I told her that she could just do the simple calculations, and she kept the clock on Singapore time. That was when I woke up.

All of this makes no sense at all, and even as I put this down on my journals here, it still doesn’t make any sense. The one thing that did hit me was the moment the girl pulled my arm. She initially held my hand, but I was uncomfortable with it because she wasn’t Faith, and yet when I moved her hand to my arm (which to me is less personal), it felt good. I’m not about to tell you that I had an affair or any of the sort, and for a brief moment I was afraid that I had seen how easy it was to enjoy the feel of the another girl’s hand pulling my arm. What I did right away was tell Faith all what I had dreamed, and I hope that by being open I might have the support to overcome any temptation

Laughs the journal today really makes no sense at all. The dream world is a world that makes sense only within itself. I remember once when I was a child, and during a nightmare, at the most dangerous moment, I stood atop a mushroom (YES a MUSHROOM) and proclaimed, “It is only a dream!”. I woke up from the dream, and didn’t have to face the danger.

Dreams. How do we understand something we so easily forget?

I Love To Hear The Story

Went to church today. There was the ongoing discussion on the book of Revelations. This is probably the hardest book, because it writes about things that have yet to happen. Everything is in such vivid imagery, and subject to interpretation. There is no use trying to predict when Jesus will return, like so many people in our time have done. If He said that He’ll come like a thief when no one expects it, that’s what it is. The question was asked what would you like most about Heaven?

I can just imagine it. All the saints from all time gathered together around, sharing their own individual stories, every tale woven with God’s grace and mercy. It’s not the foundation of the new city that’s made up of twelve types of precious stones that impresses me, even though it is stunning to see someone build an entire city on twelve layers of precious stones. It is the saints. The ones who came before us, and showed us the way. The ones who were willing to endure till the end. The old song goes “oh I want to be in that number…when the saints go marching in”. I really don’t deserve to, living the kind of life I live. But the invitation is extended to all of us, and whosoever heeds the call is received into the joy of the Lord. I need to get a few good stories of my own to trade on that never-ending day. Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love.

Food for Mind and Body

Spent pretty much the whole day doing homework, leaving my room only for toilet breaks. I don’t remember ever being so enthusiastic about homework ever. My parents can bear witness that I never ever did my homework for the most part of my life. I got caned on my hands, made to spend recess at the teachers’ room doing homework, made to stand in front of everyone, and yet still produced no homework. I try to remember my reasons, so that should my children turn out like me, I’d have an answer for that day. I guess it was largely because I saw no obvious reasons why I should spend good childhood days labouring over problems someone else already had the answer to in the teachers’ guide. The excuse “it’s going to help you during your exams” just wasn’t good enough. What were exams, except a never ending series of already answered questions?

Today I do my homework to tune my mind, preparing it for the day I face the problems no one has the answers yet for. Isn’t it amazing how we’re supposed to study what took geniuses to discover? Teenagers are reading what baffled all of humankind a few hundred years ago in the area of science. So, come to think of it, we never did learn all that much did we? The human mind is so infinite, yet so finite. It’s all relative. It’s infinite to the ignorant, and finite when placed in front of the universe, or even multiverses before us. Money is relative…the more money you have in your pocket, the more relatives you have in your family.

Had dinner with a fellow Singaporean this evening. Spoke the whole time in Chinese, and it felt good to hear it spoken back in the familiar accent. It’s amazing how much of Singaporean talk is centered on food. The food we miss, the best food we’ve had, the best and worse places. If we took away food from our conversations, Singaporeans would be really silent people. Oh, we’d participate in the universal act of complaining about our government. It’s the same everywhere.

Happily Ever After

Just finished watching Notting Hill, which I purchased on DVD. I guess one could call me a sentimental fool, often watching heart-wrenching and tear-inducing movies over and over again. The high from being involved in the euphoria of first-found love, and the melancholy tug of a heart broken are two things that just seem to keep me coming back. A lot of people I know have told me that it’s not the same when a relationship goes into time. There are no more fireworks, no more suspense and they conclude that there is no more love or feeling. I can remember the first time I held Faith’s hand in mine. It drove little sparks up my fingertips, to know that I was finally holding the hand of the girl I had loved since I was nine. It’s a different feeling now, and one could be right to say that there is no longer the blast of fireworks to blind the eye, but in its place is an intimacy that is equally wondrous. “So close that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so close that when you close your eyes, I fall asleep”, so wrote Neruda. It’s all in the small things - the light of her smile, the warmth of her hand….the eyes - the beautiful eyes where I see another living breathing being that now looks upon me with equal fascination.

Notting Hill warmed my heart to see the story of two people who chose to live their lifetimes together. The bench in the garden was engraved with “To June, who loved the garden, and Joseph, who always sat beside her”. The sparks and the fireworks all fade away, but to have your loved one lay her head on your lap as you read a book….wow.

A Million Lives; Two Pounds of Turkey

Just read through the requirements for the next English paper I have to write. I have always found English to be a wonderful medium of expression, and I love the little intricacies of a perfectly used word. Solomon said in his proverbs, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”.

I begin to recall the people who heard my voice in writing and developed them. My love for literature first started when I was thirteen. I have always been a really lazy student, and never did my homework, EVER. My literature teacher threatened me, saying that unless I handed in one year’s worth of homework in the next two weeks, I would be unable to take the final exam. I stayed up every single night, reading and doing the exercises. Needless to say, I got an A for the exam. It was then I realised how much I actually loved reading and feeling for the characters. A book was not just a book or story, it was a whole new world that I could explore. I believed then, and still believe, that we are able to live a million lifetimes, if we read a million books. We would have seen a million different worlds, lived in different towns, assumed different identities. Got spurned by love, found true love. Saved the innocent, became a villain. Lived the life of a slave, enjoyed the life of a Don. Wouldn’t we then understand each other a little better? Wouldn’t we then see that we all do things with a good reason for most of the time, and understand the other who seems bent on making our lives difficult by the decisions they make? Would we be better people, having seen through a million different eyes?

The school cafeteria had a huge turkey leg for $1.25 yesterday. Emmitt and I felt it was a steal, and bought the remaining two. Over-indulgence is a mistake I have been taught so many, many times, but never ever learnt. Tried playing basketball with two pounds of turkey in my tummy. It just felt so ewww. There’s no way to describe it. Fleshy? Meaty? Carnivorous? Well, remind me next time never to jump in and bite more than I can chew. God provides abundantly, but greed and gluttony are another thing altogether.

A few people prone to racist speech have come into the Internet channel #poetry, where I am an operator. I cannot condone such speech, and I do not believe in speech being free. It is not free, meaning that there are consequences to the words we say, and we should be responsible with them. How can we blindly slander another in total ignorance, and claim freedom? I still do not understand the colossal amount of importance the people here place on free speech. While it is a fundamental right, I believe that freedom has its boundaries. Freedom is only freedom when we do not trespass the freedom of others.

Friends: Need or Want?

I apologise if any of you came here yesterday to find no journal entry. I was till late trying to finish my English paper. It’s a load of my shoulders, and I celebrated it by going to the gym today.

I often wonder about the many brief friends I have made of IRC, as to how they’re now doing. Friends that I helped tide over rough patches of their lives. Maybe it’s my fault for not having kept up the relationship, but relationships are so easily broken when the computer is the only form of communication. One party just has to stop using IRC, and the entire relationship just disappears. I hope that the few on my mind, especially Lindt, are fine and doing well. I wish I had some means of contacting her. The only information I had was destroyed in the laundry a few days ago.

Someone on IRC said that we don’t need friends. We only need acquaintances to tide us through that temporary need. I may not need, but I really do want friends that I can sit down with, sipping my coffee, looking at our grandchildren and talking about the good old days.

Spoke to Justin about affairs that matter more to us. He’s taking his studies very seriously, and did confess to not finding joy in any of them. I fear for him, for he cannot possibly go on an entire lifetime not enjoying what he does. Then again, many of us do that, don’t we? Smell the flowers I say, and life will be that much sweeter. It is a gift from God, and like many gifts we have received, we have also made into a burden. Let us dwell in the joy of it all.

Reading the bible last night, I came by a passage that was most enlightening. The priests wanted Peter and the Apostles killed because their influence was great among the Israelites. Then one man stood up and said (paraphrased) “so many leaders have risen and fallen, and their followers have scattered. If what Peter and the Apostles say is from human knowledge, it too will pass away. If what they say is from God, no man can stop it”. The moment I read this I thought about Pattie, and how she seeks the truth. I know that someday the truth will come to her, but I hope and pray that she’ll not avoid the bible because of Christians. We often fail to live up to what we are called to be, yet so many boldly proclaim “superiority” to others. Sigh. When will we learn that humility was one of the first traits Jesus showed. In his birth in a manger, away from the crowds.

Where Are The Clowns?

Spoke to Zahid today about his plans for summer. Somehow all of us international students are held together by the dream of going home. I guess the few I hang out with are the ones who have not taken this trip as a partying excursion. We all miss home and await the day we return to our friends and loved ones. In that way, we have unity even though we come from the different corners of the world.

I seem hooked on the song “Send in the Clowns”. I’ve three different versions sung by Frank Sinatra, Judy Collins and Barbara Streisand. It’s a sad, melancholic, dreamy song. What makes us drawn to the Eponines in the world? Is it some sadistic or masochistic streak in us that makes us love to yearn? The happily ever afters never do seem as much in demand as the longing, painful as it might be. Or is it only me?

Dry Heat

Whoever said dry heat was better was definitely writing that in an air-conditioned room. The weather is turning hot here, and it sizzles when I’m in the sun in the afternoon. It’s a different heat from the sticky, humid heat back home, but it’s not any better, that I can assure you.

The analogy that comes to mind is like a piece of bacon frying. In hot humid Singapore, it would be like the piece of bacon pan fried with lots of oil. In hot dry Arizona, it’s like the same piece of bacon pan fried without oil. I don’t know much about cooking, but I know I put a little oil to fry my eggs so that the eggs won’t stick to the pan, and won’t turn black on me as fast. Well, as long as I stay in the comfort of air-conditioned rooms, I should be fine.

Did my laundry today, and I did something stupid. Leave a piece of tissue paper in my pocket you say? Been there done that. First time I did my laundry, I threw in my jeans with a whole PACK of tissue paper. This time it wasn’t tissue paper. I often carry a small notebook around in case I need to write down stuff. What to do, who to call, phone numbers of friends, important places etc. Well…there goes the notebook. When I took my clothes out of the dryer I found pieces and pieces of paper. So if you’re reading this and I used to have your phone number, I don’t anymore.

I await the start of a new week. Time flies fast.

To Live And Not Love Is Not To Live At All

Stayed in my room the better part of the day doing homework. When I did finally go out for dinner, the skies were gloomy. I can’t imagine myself living in Chicago or Seattle if the skies are to be grey all the time. It would be a great dampener of spirits.

One thing I forgot to put into my journals a few days ago was Emily. I helped her with her English paper. She wanted to write about how variant family structures (e.g. Single-parent, gay/lesbian families) were bad for society. She presented it on Friday, and did a good job despite being nervous. A surge of parental pride came over me seeing her stand in front of the class, presenting something she was zealous about. laughs I know she’s not my kid, but I guess I like teaching people.

Another thing I’ve been thinking about : Is it possible to fall in love too easily? I used to be a cynical person, and somehow over time, with Faith’s influence I’ve become one who loves. I love the sky, the flowers around me, the people. I can still through people rather well, but now I try to trust and understand them. In a way, I’m Javert reformed. Just in case you get the wrong idea that I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with some other girl here, I’ve not. The smile of a stranger, the light in another’s eyes, the little people going on their own way. Sometimes I feel my heart just melt for those moments. Maybe it’s the same way I fell in love with Eponine. It’s just one moment, etched on my heart, to be remembered always. I love Faith and have made a commitment to her, and I know I must be careful not to slip, yet to live life indifferent of the other lives around us is a life without love, and that, is no life at all. Where is the line to be drawn then? Do feel free to give me your thoughts, those of you who have been faithfully reading.

Mood Swings

A certain melancholy fell upon me this evening, and it took me a while before I realised what had affected me so. Faith was in a bad mood this morning, and I just felt so alone at the beginning of the weekend. I just spoke to her on the phone a few moments ago, and she was back to her normal chirpy mood. I was so thankful. It really had brightened up my life.

To hear her laugh and smile is something I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of. After the short time on the phone, I felt the strength come back to me. I even went to the gym to find some solace in basketball, and somehow my mood affected my game. I left after a few short games which I played badly. Thank God everything is fine now. I’ll try putting the ball into the hoop again tomorrow.

Dearest Faith, I do miss you a lot. You’ve been so much a part of my life, bearing with me for the past eight years - loving me, caring for me, praying for me. I know that God has brought us together, and there’s such an immense joy I get when I know that our relationship is pleasing in His eyes. I really cannot thank Him, or thank you enough for making my life so much more bearable, so much more joyful. Hug Thank you for everything. Thank God for everything.

An Underpaid Profession

This whole week is full of tests and papers to be handed in. The funny thing is, I don’t feel as pressurized as I did back in my Secondary school. Enjoying what you study really helps.

The lack of funding in this school is really hurting us. We’re losing good professors and the standard of education here will inevitably drop. It’s sad how we place so little emphasis on education and so much on military might. Education is the key to so many things. If we had good education, and I mean it in a sense greater than just academics, so many problems would be solved. There would be no prejudice, and wars would be reduced. Conflicts amongst ourselves will cease. I know I’m being idealistic, but isn’t ideals what we all should strive for? We cannot firefight our way to the future, solving problems as they crop up. We need to go to the root of the problem….oh well, here I am again, rambling as always.

I’m just hoping that this school doesn’t intend to become a second-rate school because of a lack of funds. I’ve not considered transferring, but if the situation is such that I have no choice….sigh, I don’t even know where to go. I’ll just leave it all in God’s hands. When I was choosing amongst the many universities to apply for, the one lesson I walked away with was that God’s plan may not by my plan. Which translates to, God’s choice may not be the “number one” choice.

Played basketball today. Needed that break to stretch. I’m getting into the game here, and I’m enjoying it. Even high-fiving the opposing team when they make a good shot, I find that they do the same when I make a good shot. That’s what I call a good time. I don’t know if I’m going to become a good competitor in the world ahead of me. I sometimes fear that I’ll lose out in the job market if I’m not aggressive enough, or if I don’t sell myself enough. The thing I fear more would be if I changed into something I hate. It’s hard to balance between the two.

Well, I’ve to go to bed now. Got a test bright and early tomorrow.

Open My Eyes That I May See

“Open his eyes to Your hand”. This was what my uncle prayed for me over the phone a few moments ago. Indeed God’s hand has been most gracious to me. My uncle called to make sure everything was going ok here, and we spoke for a bit. He told me about his childhood and I learnt more about my mother as well. I’ve never known very much about my family beyond my parents and siblings. It’s nice to hear that it sometime in the past all of them were like us.

Mom has certainly changed quite a bit these few years. I remember her as high strung, always screaming at me because I never did my homework. Doing homework just never made much sense to me at that time, I never knew how I was ever going to use it. Mom was also in jobs where she had to work like a horse, literally grinding the axe day by day. I’m glad that she has finally found a job she finds great happiness in. She’s become more temperate and seems to have found contentment. She certainly deserves it. Seeing her happy, I too cannot help but be happy as well.

The stars are shining bright tonight, and the air is a nice cool, no longer cold. I took a short walk out, just enjoying the campus and its silence. I know that I will miss this place when I leave.

The Simple Things

A lot of people ask me what brings me all the way to the States to get my degree. I’ve always known the answer, but it got lost along the way. I remembered today.

There is this elderly lady who serves food at a particular stall in the cafeteria. I must say her warm smile and motherly love is a major factor in my lunch decisions everyday. I remembered when my family and I went to Anaheim a number of years back, and we had to find something to eat in the middle of the night. We went to the hotel restaurant and there was this one waitress, who though tired, served us with such wonderful hospitality. I knew then that we as Asians have something to learn from people on this part of the world. The bus driver in Hawaii, the cashier at circle-K, the manager at Carl’s Jr., and so many others. Somehow the service is so much better here. It’s more sincere, and the elderly lady takes time every single day to talk to me and ask me how my day was etc. She does this for everyone, but for that one moment, I felt special. The guy at Circle-K jokes with me every time I get my foodstuffs there. They are people who do not know my name, or as a person, but have taken time to make my interaction with them pleasant. There’s also a love for their jobs, whether big or small.

Come to think of it, I’m beginning to think that the bigger the job, the less joy one exuberates doing it. It’s hard to find a high-level manager giving that extra amount of personal attention. It’s sad isn’t it? We strive for the better jobs that pay better, and somehow they give so little joy to everyone else around. I’ve contemplated being a food hawker (someone who sells food from a small stall), inspired by the chicken-rice (a favourite Singapore food) seller I so often eat at. He’s one of the few I’ve seen who serves with a smile, and remembers exactly what Faith and I have every time I go there.

I’ve come so far to obtain a business degree, and yet I see none of this being taught in the classrooms. I’ll keep reminding myself, lest I forget, that it is these small things that make life bearable. It’s not solely for the money, it’s so that we all can life a happier life.

Memory

I woke up this morning with my whole body aching. Three days of basketball certainly took its toil on me. I decided to rest the next few days and let the adrenaline out of my system. Funny thing is, while cycling to the Science Library, I felt the urge to play basketball again. I suspect it’s the doughnuts that’s making me so hyper. Well I psyched myself not to play. Faith would certainly kill me if I didn’t take care of myself.

Had Chinese food for dinner tonight. Almost died from the amount of salt or MSG found in the food. Now I remember why I haven’t eaten there for the past few months. The owner and his wife are nice people though, who still remember me even after my long absence.

Debbie just reminded me that it’s only six more weeks to the end of the semester. Time has flown by quickly and I really hope that I won’t let college pass me by unnoticed. It’s so easy to just do the things you have to do, and tread the routine like a treadmill, devoid of colour and scenery. I make it a point to remember what I see, hear and experience. Like Sabrina said in the movie of the same name “I’ll have it in my pocket when I get home”.

I wrote a poem that was published in a small collection of other works back in Secondary school. It’s amazing how my thoughts are still the same today. The poem ended

it’s true they say Man will never cherish the moment an event in the making but will live to regret, will regret to live an event over a memory made.

Donuts Light Up My Life

I was rereading an email my mother sent me about things back home. My two sisters seem bent of fighting each other till death, hurling at the other words Oxford Dictionary makers would blush to include in their dictionaries. I only hope I get to see two of them when I return home, and not just one triumphant one. The value of my two siblings have never been a constant thought in my mind. Now, away from home and missing family life, I would do almost anything to sit with them and engage in the antisocial activity of playing Playstation games. It’s funny isn’t it? I’m not sure about husbands who come home every night and go straight to the couch, hand on the remote control. I hope I don’t do that when I get married. I know that I miss the time playing videogames with my sisters because they were equally involved in the game. They were cheering in their seats, or grim with determination, and mind you, they didn’t even have the control in their hands. I miss them both. Min (the elder of the two), won’t be home to meet me as she’s going to Taiwan for an immersion trip. It’s apparently an attempt to make her more “Chinese”. Hopefully she’ll come back with the ability to cook splendid Chinese food. We could start a small eatery here. I don’t know how Louelle (the younger of the two) did in her basketball tournament.

There’s nothing like college life. Really. Played basketball four hours for three days in a row. Aching all over. Have to write a paper on how a Gorilla learnt sign-language, and whether it can be considered as a human language at all. Don’t think I’ll ever have any Gorilla papers to write when I hit the job market. Oh, and the doughnuts.

The doughnuts. Debbie introduced me to the “Boston Kreme” doughnut at Dunkin Doughnuts and I am so hooked. It’s chocolate glazed on one side, and in the middle it has a vanilla flavoured pudding center. MMMmmmmmm….Reminds me of a short limerick I read back in Singapore :

Optimist and Pessimist the difference is droll. The Optimist sees the doughnut the Other the hole.
The pastor at church told some light bulb jokes today. Here are some of them :

How many Charismatics does it take to change a light bulb? Ans : Ten. One to change the light bulb and nine to pray against the powers of darkness.

How many Independent Fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb? Ans : One. Any more would be too much cooperation.

How many Christians from old-fashioned, forty year old churches does it take to change a light bulb? Ans : Ten. One to change it, and nine to tell you how much better the old one was.

How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb? Ans : Change???

How many Calvinists does it take to change a light bulb? Ans : All of them. They would sit around and debate on whether or not the light bulb really exists.

How many New Age Christians does it take to change a light bulb? Ans : We don’t know. They’re never around long enough for a light bulb to burn out.

Well these are just meant for a few laughs. No offense intended. I’ll head for bed now. God bless you all.

Amazing Love, How Can It Be?

Today was rather productive. After a few hours of procrastination, I finally got down to doing my work, and finished most of what I needed to do in a few hours. It felt good. I played some MP3s (music files) and sang along with some of the Christian songs I have loved for so long. It felt so good to worship God in a simple, personal way. This was one of the many many songs that spoke to me.

Create in me a clean heart, O God And renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence O Lord And take not Thy Holy Spirit from me Restore unto me, the joy of my salvation And renew a right spirit within me.

It was a prayer by King David, the one who wrote the Psalms. It was my prayer today. I have been a Christian for a good number of years, and as I grew older, I grew more pragmatic in many ways, mixing my own wisdom with what God really wanted to show and tell me. “Restore unto me, the joy of Thy salvation”. I remember the first time I prayed to accept Jesus in my life. It was a marvelous feeling. It was not an emotional high - I prayed in a small room with no one near me at all, no band playing or choir singing in the background. But there and then, I knew that something had changed inside of me. There was an immense amount of joy. I knew with ALL my heart, that Jesus was Lord.

I still do know that today. But the vision has gotten cloudy with my own wisdom. I had become knowledgeable in my own eyes and forgot how joyful my salvation was. It’s like that with many of us isn’t it? We now pray with one eye open, knowing through our many “years of experience” what is possible, and what is impossible for God to answer. We have lost the childlike faith that we once had. I tasted my joy of salvation today. I sang with Keith Green, heart to heart, wanting God to restore that joy back. I cried with tears of remorse that I had become my own person, instead of what He wanted to mold me into. He wiped away those tears and astounded me with this other song :

Almighty God, the Great I AM Immovable Rock, Omnipotent, Powerful. Awesome Lord, Victorious Warrior Commanding King of Kings, Mighty Conqueror And the only time, the only time I ever saw Him run…. Was when He ran to me, took me in His arms Held my head to His chest said, “My son’s come home again” looked at my face, wiped the tears from my eyes with forgiveness in His voice said “My son, do you know I still love you?” He caught me by surprise, He brought me to my knees, when God ran.

I really did stand amazed at the presence of Jesus. That despite it all, He would still take me back unconditionally. Amazing love, how can it be.

I’m sorry I keep blabbering on. I just cannot choose not to share this amazing experience. Thank you, for those who keep praying for me.

End of a March

Wow, another month has just flown by. It’s also Friday, the end of another week. I watched the movie “Contact” today. It was a wonderful movie, and it was such a good depiction of what faith is to the human being. It is something we really cannot prove to another, yet is as equally real as what we can see, smell and touch. I also watched Les Miserables on DVD. As you can tell, I had a swell day.

I guess Les miz will always steal my heart away. Tears formed in my eyes hearing Fantine’s song “I dreamed a dream”, Marius’ “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”, Eponine’s “On My Own” and “Little Fall of Rain”, and so many other songs. I’ve heard it so many times before and it still grips me with the same force. It is such a beautiful story.

I posted a new message on the Wildcat Online. One of the writers wrote about how ridiculous it was that some people wanted to make it against the law to burn the flag. I was so utterly appalled at the lack of sensitivity and unity. The writer wrote, I paraphrase - that the country is great because its citizens have the right to burn the flag. I certainly hope no one in Singapore has that kind of loyalty. It’s funny how I got so agitated by this article when I’m not an American, nor intend to be one. My blood boils even now to think about it.

Someone left an empty flask with a label “Ebola Virus” near the Science Library. It caused a huge commotion and even the FBI came down to investigate. Turns out that it was a premature April fool’s day prank. Sigh…that’s where the taxpayer’s money is going.

I shall end here tonight, and I bid you all sweet dreams.

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