Tribolum.com Making Light of Things

January 2001 Archives

Only Three Words

A friend of mine told me about his relationship with a certain girlfriend of his today. He muttered THE three words to her. It was not planned nor expected. The circumstances are not as conducive for a relationship as he would have liked. Oceans separate them. He did not mutter those words with any ulterior motive or false pretense. To the best of my knowledge (and his), he wants to mean it to the fullest extent of honesty.

I no longer remember the first time I whispered “I love you” to Faith. It seems so long ago. Even now as I’m typing this journal an ICQ message appears, and I type “I love you” once again to the person on the other side. She too, is miles and miles away (the Americans have not figured out how kilometers work yet). I’m as clueless as the day I was nine and had a crush on her. But the one thing I do know is that love never fails.

I do not say this out of pride, for I know for sure that I fail. But God has seen us over so many years, so many obstacles, that I can truly say that I place my trust in Him. It does not guarantee that I’ll end up marrying Faith, much as I want to, but I know that if I place everything in His hands, He will make beauty out of what isn’t. The nonsensical phrases Faith and I share, the laughter, I’m thankful for them all.

Stories Of The Real World

For one of my modules I have an Ethics course in Journalism. Having disagreed with the Wildcat (the school daily) on so many numerous occasions, I thought I might as well get some academic credit for it.

Yesterday’s lecture was insightful. Dr. Sharkey, who constantly reminds us that she doesn’t teach in a strictly academic sense but brings the real world in with her, brought up some issues that were pertinent to the course. The question of the day was : Does one’s right as a human being override the right of being a journalist? A few of the events in question were: should a journalist be first on the scene of an accident help victims where capable to do so, or cover the story as the job description fit? It was rather frightening to see that a large proportion of the student journalists were intent on looking upon their chosen profession as a different species of human being. The story mattered, period. Of course the dilemma arose when someone changed the scenario to the journalist arriving at the scene to find their own loved ones in the accident. There the rules changed.

Despite the increase in education, have we learnt to be heartless? Have we lost our humanity and gained an almost mechanical efficiency to perform our societal function in place of it? Do we hit the books to make us more adept at rationalising away our intrinsic good and justify our equally innate selfishness? The books do not teach us the Superman vs Lex Luthor battle that we have to face within us many a day. Thankfully, Dr. Sharkey drags in the real world and hits us upside on the head with it.

Country Music In Chicago

Came back from playing basketball tonight. Got into the car, turned to the good old country music radio station. Just like the old days. It was exactly like that when I was working in Chicago. Ruslan (my boss then) and I would end work late into the night, and we’d trudge totally drained into the car. The streets were grey with snow tainted by the many vehicles that had come before us. We drove past closed shops and their lit signboards as country music played from the car stereo. I’d look up at the stars and wonder what people at home were doing. It was a lonely time for me, and work occupied every single waking moment.

Tonight I came home with a gladness in my heart. I had someone to come home to. The sound of the television, any activity within the home was a welcome thing. Though I’d probably be too inhibited to tell her face to face, I’m very thankful for Min’s presence here in Tucson. I still mope along with the country music, but I come home to the sound of friends, ER, or whichever sitcom is playing tonight.

When Universes Collide

I found myself thinking of the events that happened over last semester as I walked down the corridors of the Modern Languages building. I stood at the exact spot. The very place.

I stood here last semester when my English tutor Joseph Wood asked me a question that till today still piques me. “Are you well?” he asked. Back then I had immediately related it to how I was taking to his class. I replied then, “oh, I’m doing ok, the readings are fine….yadda yadda.” Then he explained himself a little more clearly, “Are you fine, as in how are you doing?” It was a question people around this region ask for the sake of asking, evidenced by the “How do you do?” salutations one received upon meeting another. It was a question that required no answer. Yet this time Joseph stood there, truly expecting a reply. How often do we pass people by, never delving deeper than the superficial functions we serve. How often we fail to realise the immensity of a human life before our very eyes. Whenever I look upon human eyes, even those in pictures, I see there a whole universe behind those eyes. How broad, how high, how deep and how immense (I use this for other dimensions I so utterly wish to express but have not the words) that universe! All contained within a single entity. How great then is the Creator, and how vast.

Thank you once again Joseph, for asking. It was then

two universes met we stood there in our place in our time. Side by side we marveled. We marveled.

Surreal, But Nice

The Wildcats played UCLA today. I brought Min to her first ever Arizona basketball home game. It was an amazing game, with UCLA having played extremely well in their last few games. Of course, you’re able to guess from my highly optimistic voice right now the outcome of the game. Yes, we won.

I don’t know if I compromised my “elder-brother” authority status by jumping up and down during the game. It was rather close almost all the way to the end. Laughs no, I don’t really care. It’s a matter of time before I get Min to jump up and down with me. I’m glad that she enjoyed herself. At least that’s what she told me. I’m glad that she’s here. Sometimes the reality of the situation doesn’t hit me. I’m here in a foreign land with my sister. And we’re going to be here for some time. I actually walk over to her room just to see the facts for myself. To quote a favourite movie, “surreal, but nice”.

Not Worth The Rent

Watched the Broadway Musical “Rent” tonight. It has won its fair share of awards and accolades, but to be honest, it failed to touch me on any level. I know that I’m spoilt silly by Les Miserables, and had the good fortune of finding the CD to the Scarlet Pimpernel, and to a lesser degree Jekyll and Hyde. I’m not sure why I like Broadway musicals. I don’t know if it’s the storyline that touches me, or the music that captures me. Upon closer analysis, I conclude that the storyline is a foremost priority to me, considering I’m not especially musically inclined. Rent just didn’t make the cut on that part.

Not much to write about tonight, so I’ll keep it short for now. Goodnight.

South Cows Have Triple Toes

Tonight was the first time I attended any event that was held outside of the school grounds. Min’s much awaited Stars On Ice was in town for a one night only show. Though not an avid fan of ice-skating, I’ve come to know the household names, even if some of the terminology does elude me. For example, a “south cow” (spelling it as I hear it) is supposed to be a move where the skater jumps in the air and spins for a predetermined number of rounds. To me it’s just prime rib, pure and simple. I don’t really care much whether the cow spoke with an accent, as long as it wasn’t the gibberish produced by many of the mad-cows from across the Atlantic. These, and other terms were involuntarily osmosised (if there’s such a word) into my database through an almost painless procedure called cable television. Ok, to be honest, it stings a little, but only when your favourite basketball team is playing on another channel.

Anyway, back to tonight. It was rather surreal to see the skaters in person. Scott Hamilton, Kurt Browning, Tara Lipinski, Kristi Yamaguchi and many other names once associated solely with television were now in the flesh. Though dance wasn’t my cup of tea, I began to learn the appreciation of figure skating. Scott and Kurt helped out a lot by making their performances comical, adding theatrics unto the abstract. Soon, I found myself enjoying the performances of people who glided over the large smooth surface, whose arms flowed with such grace. It’s the closest one gets to flying I guess. I know I wouldn’t pay good money to watch a two minute skydiving performance, that’s for sure.

Women in sequined costumes that reflected the light a million different ways, their hair dancing in the wind. And the arms of the strong men who held them up, protecting them from the cold hard surface beneath them. And there we were, the audience, amongst the clouds, watching the angels flit by.

Brain Lag

Today was the first day of school. The first taste of the new classes was a nice one. This semester is significantly different from the other two that passed before it. I have classes like Theatre Arts and Music. Theatre Arts (Drama) was really interesting today. Being rather introverted, it took a while for me to get out of the shell and allow myself to participate and enjoy the class. Math class was rather intimidating as I learnt that we’d be doing integration and differentiation. These two topics terrorized most of my secondary school life. I have never understood their use in the real world. I hope that this course will teach me such.

The Classics lecture was a pleasure to attend. The professor was humourous and interesting, clearly passionate about how the Greco-Roman world has influenced every aspect of the life we now live. There are a ton of readings to go through, and I hope to be diligent enough to keep up with them.

I breathe the fresh air once more, and hope that my love of learning is still within me. There is so much to know, so much to understand. I only hope I can enjoy the the full magnitude of the experience.

Parenthood

Min had her first taste of walking in the rain today. It was nice to have someone to ford the streams with. It wasn’t even a huge pour, probably a weak 6 out of 10. With the construction in campus it was hard not to get our feet wet. We finally got around to doing her Catcard, the student ID for students at the University of Arizona. She has been trying to delay this for the longest time, afraid that she’d look like a hag or something equally ugly on the card. To be honest, the picture turned out wonderfully.

We watched Billy Elliot with wet shoes. It is a heartfelt story of a boy who had the passion to learn ballet, but was squashed by his father who thought of it as a sissy activity. Eventually his father has a chance to see how talented his son really was, and pawned his deceased wife’s jewellery and went back to work in the mines despite an ongoing labour strike. He wanted so much to give his son that chance to find out if he were good enough to be admitted into the Royal School of Ballet. Again I am reminded of how much a parent loves his or her child. It is an instinct that drives the parent to forsake so much. I only hope I will have the same amount of love when I have my own children.

Love and Basketball

Playing basketball is a most amazing thing. Somehow it has a profound effect on me. Besides the aching feet it has always given me time to think, time to reflect, time to recover. I guess I haven’t been exactly paying attention to God these past few days and it has shown in my behaviour.

I have been more easily irritable, as evidenced by my mood swings. I have been less giving, as evidenced while Stephanie was here. Little things got to me. The most important of all was a little exchange I had with my mother.

She got upset with my sister and I for not calling back. To be honest, we called back less than five days before her complaint, and in her irritation showed in her emails. It got to me and I replied rather curtly, and now upon reflection, disrespectfully. We were upset that she had given Min’s sweets to Louelle, my other sister, when it was meant for Min’s friends. Logically, we had a right to be upset, or even angry.

God spoke to me today. Coming back from basketball and in the shower, things became clearer. This was no way to live. The love of God was not to be found in me. My mother works long and hard to put us through school and I was being calculative about my feelings. Even though I still wish she had been less harsh, I see the error of my ways. I hadn’t read my bible for some time (church doesn’t count) and with this core gone, everything had started to turn haywire. Having learnt that I got an award of “Highest academic achievement” from the University, my accomplishments were worn upon my breast like a medal. I had become proud and egoistical, even if it were in a silent way. Inconspicuous to everyone, but totally visible to God.

I am thankful that He did not leave me as such, for there is such an emptiness that comes with human pride. I am reminded that all good things come from Him. I am reminded that my parents are the best parents given to me by God. Most of all, I am reminded that despite my failures, God still reaches out to me. I know that by myself I will no doubt fail Him yet again, on another occasion. But He doesn’t fail. Love doesn’t fail.

So I want to apologise for my pride, my insensitivity and my lack of Christlikeness. I am still nowhere near where I ought to be, but I take comfort that God is patient with me, and I hope all of you are the same.

Run In Such A Way That You May Win

Stephanie is leaving today. In the midst of everything else I forgot to mention that she arrived Thursday night. We’ve spent a whale of a time, going to El Corral for dinner, Baggin’s for lunch, shopping at the mall etc. Many a time I was tired from the things that have passed and Min’s orientation, and less than tolerant of the increased load placed upon me. I should have been better company. I’m sorry Steph if I’ve spoilt your vacation in any way.

We attended Bobbi Olson’s memorial service today and it was amazing how many people were touched by this one lady. The one common denominator was not how she died, but how she lived that made the difference. I was reminded to live a life that was beneficial to others. To sum up what many people said, the game of basketball has its winners and losers, but in the game of life everyone has a chance to win. If you live your life that another may breathe easier, if you live your life and bring a smile on a child’s face, you have won. You would have succeeded. We have so much to learn.

Higher Hands

Uncle Tubby passed away today. Though he was Faith’s uncle and no relation of mine, I knew him well. I remember the dinners we had at his place, where he’d crack jokes ranging anywhere from the food on the table to Kuku (his sister) and their childhood with Uncle Eddy. In the later stage of his cancer he was still joking irreverently about the tubes that stuck out of him, and in his own way shielded us from the pain he was going through. I also remember the many times he gave me advice regarding the career path to choose. His son Melvin was in Australia studying and for that moment I felt like he was speaking to me as he would have his own son. I regret not being there in his last days but I know that God has His plans for everything. My heart goes out to the family, even more so when I heard that Melvin was taking it hard. He, like his father, has always been the one with the timely (some of the time) and untimely (most of the time) jokes. I guess it was time for Uncle Tubby to go. We leave him in Your hands, for Your hands are gentler and kinder than ours.

To Bee A Hummingbird

There isn’t very much to say today, except that my sister wanted me to put in the journal that we saw a hummingbird. It was a light green bird no bigger than a tablespoon. I had at first thought it was a bee, and Arizona is known for the killer bee, so that got me a little cautious. Isn’t it too often we’re too careful to see beauty?

Dance

Min and I have spent a good part of our time watching movies and videos. She’s not one for strenuous adventure, but I hope that somewhere down the road I’ll make a convert out of her. Tucson has great hiking trails and scenery. I couldn’t help but notice a trend in the movies being produced.

In recent times we’ve had American Pie, Road Trip, Loser and a number of many other movies revolving around college life. The funny thing is, all these movies are comedies, and aim to poke fun at the college experience. The general stereotype is that college students have sex on a constant basis. Sex is present with more frequency than the act of breathing. Jokes are made about it, and I wouldn’t be exaggerating when I say that these movies make it their theme plot. Have we degraded ourselves this far? Is it only American culture where love and sex are treated flippantly? Do people still dream dreams, and hold hopes?

To you dear reader, have you forgotten your first love? Emily Bronte wrote “Shall Earth no longer inspire thee, O lonely dreamer now?” Continue to hope, to stand in awe. And as the song Stephanie introduced to me went: (I paraphrase) if you’re caught between the choice of sitting down and dancing, dance.

A New Start With An End

It’s the end of one year and the beginning of the next. Funny thing is, my sister and I did the same thing we did exactly one year ago. We sat in front of the television and watched the world as it celebrated the occasion in a thousand different ways. Time Square was again the center of attention, dropping a large ball made of crystal instead of the usual metal one. One of the resolutions I laid down for myself this new year was to update these journals daily. Even in this I have failed. While the journal you now read is dated January 1st, I am writing a good week later. These are the thoughts and feelings I had on January 1st, scribbled untidily on the notepad on my table.

Bobbi Olson passed away today. She was the wife of our basketball head coach Lute Olson. In Singapore this would have been a small matter, little nuggets that only trivia enthusiasts worry over. Here in Arizona it is a great loss. Lute is easily one of the most influential people in the state of Arizona, not in a bad sense. Thirty-five thousand hearts soar with every basketball game and are affected in some way or another. Lute and Bobbi apparently had the romance one read about in books. He, in a position as high as he is, was clearly incomplete without her. She was his complement in every way. I knew little of who she was, but the loss is shared by many.

Min (my sister) starts her orientation tomorrow. It seems almost surreal that I have family here with me, and sometimes we are blissfully unaware of how far away from home we both are. I only hope I’ll be a brother worthy of a sister as she.

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