Making Light of Things

August 2000 Archives

How Do I Live Without You?

I come with sombre news this evening. Much as I would have liked to have my journals a bright little spark in an ever-darkening world, life is not always like that. I apologise, if any need be given.

One of the first friends I made here in Arizona was Debbie. We both came in the Spring semester, while most students come in the fall. I remember seeing her often in the study lounge of the dorm, using the computer till the wee hours of the morning. I remember, because like her I had not settled into my room with a computer. We sat almost side by side night after night. It wasn’t until I took the initiate (plus the courage) to overcome my normally shy nature and be more friendly (after all, this IS USA) that I got to know her better.

We had lots in common. She was older than most of the people in the dorm, as I was. We both weren’t into the partying craze commonly associated with college students. In many ways, she was a comrade, battling loneliness and maybe even depression alongside me. Her occasional smile (which was occasional) lit up an otherwise dim social environment for me. We had our little walks at night (to the nearby 7-11 and back). We even watched Miss Saigon together. In some ways she was a motivating factor for my return to Arizona. It was hard to leave home, friends and Faith. These little things count a lot.

Debbie just told me that she’s packing her bags and going back to Indiana in two weeks. She finds it hard to adapt and misses home very much. I feel a sense of regret. Maybe I could have done something that could have changed all that. I should have been more of a friend.

Dearest Debbie, I will miss you tremendously. I will not ask you to stay for my sake, for it would be a selfish request. Instead, I wish you Godspeed in everything you do, and everywhere you go. The little times we had together will always be with me when I think about this foreign place called Arizona, that someone foreign too had showed me love here. You were my oasis in this dry desert. Thank you for everything, for standing by me, for encouraging me. While I know this is all part of life, my eyes tear at the thought of your departure. Do forgive me if I had been any lesser a friend than you have been to me. I pray God watch over you always.

God bless.

your friend always.


Ronald McDonald Finds His Shoes

I read my new guestbook entries today. It seems my mother’s giving me a run-down of what my course on “Eroticism and Love in the Middle Ages” should be. Don’t worry mother, it’s more about the culture and history of that period, revealed through the literature of that time. They’re not forcing their liberal views on us.

Ronald’s entry is one of the most inspiring things I’ve had in a long time. Dear Ronald, I’m not about to tell you “I TOLD YOU SO” or that I knew it all along. Rather, your little testimony strengthens me in a time when I am weak. God has provided through you, and I am really thankful. I guess there comes points in our life where we find out for ourselves who God really is and what it is He does. We can’t go on living our life based on other people’s faith or testimonies. We have to earn our own. Then we can remind ourselves in our time of need that we have seen Him with our own eyes.

I had a little argument on the basketball court today. I checked out basketball #100 from the counter under my own name. There were a bunch of guys who took the ball and when I asked them for it, they said it was theirs. After some clarification amongst themselves, they realised that they had ball #78. They then said, “We’ll trade you for it. You find ball #78 and we’ll exchange.” I don’t know what came over me, but I found myself highly defensive. “It’s your ball you lost, why should I look for it? My ball’s right here!” I got really agitated. One of my teammates found #78 and returned it to them and the situation was resolved.

Looking back at it, I’m not sure if there was a language miscommunication. It could have been that they just wanted to borrow my ball while theirs came along. Well, I can’t seem to rationalise their unreasonable act away. However, I should have kept my cool. I played better after that…but that’s not any reason. :)

Planted by Living Waters

I’m sorry I haven’t been as regular as I was last semester. I am in the process of putting my journal writing back into my daily schedule. I’m also trying to move my archives into a geocities site, so that I can leave the current material here on this limited Cyberway one. If you didn’t understand what any of those meant….it’s alright. We geeks won’t hold it against you humans.

I’ve had to do my first group project for my math class. It was a new experience, having to work with Americans. The group dynamics are slightly different from working with people from home. But we worked things out, and I’ve to do a presentation tomorrow.

The freshmen at the dorms (my roommate included) have been partying every night since the start of school. I managed to go to my first one last night. Zahid’s friend Paul had a party at his sister’s place, so I decided to take a look at what actually goes on. The movies weren’t kidding - they really have a LOT of people at these parties. There were at least a good two to three hundred relatively well-dressed people standing around drinking. There would have been no logistical difference had they done it on a field. The music was barely audible. They were doing just that - standing and talking - for hours on end. I’m not the social sort, choosing to stand by the sidelines and watch the world pass me by. After half and hour we headed back to the dorm.

Along the way there and back, we had people in cars screaming at us randomly as they drove past. I had to have Paul interpret what they were saying. I did make out one driver’s rantings myself - “Striked out???……” Seems that driver wasn’t particularly friendly. So what if we’re not the “IN” group? I have much better things than stand around with a whole bunch of people I don’t know and drinking. I find that a rather futile and meaningless activity. Maybe I’m too old for this.

My digital camera finally arrived. I went around campus in the morning taking photos. If any of you would like to see them, do email me. They’re rather large to be put on this page. I’m still trying to find the setting that allows me a reasonably good picture in a small compact file size.

I miss all of you back home. Sometimes it seems I’m standing in front of a huge tunnel, which I know will not end soon. But I know too that God has brought me here, and I am thankful. I am thankful for everything. Do pray for me, that I do not forsake Him, for it is so easy to make oneself the center of existence. Pray also for the others who have left or are leaving - Alvin in Milwaukee, Joel in Indiana, Cheryl and Mark, Florence who will be leaving soon to the UK. Life is not easy and it is easy to get swept away. May we be like Olive trees planted by the side of the water.


My English teacher asked me the other day, “Are you doing well?” and I immediately assumed that he meant how I was coping with schoolwork. He then clarified “No, are you doing well, as in everything?” I guess Singapore has placed so much emphasis on schoolwork and work that our own welfare seems to take a backseat. Someone commented on a Singapore forum once how we always end up talking about work whenever a conversation is going. There is little else to the person besides the work he or she does? I wouldn’t want to believe that. There is so much to a person, and sometimes I feel Singapore should build up people of character, rather than heading for economic success with all brute strength.

One thing I noticed about my average school day is the number of accents I have to cope with this semester. My Math teacher is French, my “Eroticism and Love in the Middle Ages” professor is German, my “Languages and Cultures of East Asia” professors are Japanese and Chinese (there are two of them). The other two are American. It takes a little while to get tuned in, and after that I don’t even seem to notice the accent at all.

The guys at my dorm party almost every night, coming back drunk. There’s so much more to college life, but I guess this is part of the experience as they see it. I hope none of them gets trapped in the endless cycle of alcoholism or even embark on a shallow self-existence.

The Winds of Change

Faith had a horrible day at work, her worst she said. I feel so helpless for not being there for her. Much as I would like to wrap my arms around her to make her feel better….I can’t. Her work at school seems to get harder and more stressful by the day. I guess children are something we know so little about. I just pray that God grants her enough strength and love to tide through. After all, He IS a better giver than I.

I bought a bunch of tickets for Broadway musicals that will make their way here this coming academic year. I look forward to going to them and yet somehow in my mind’s eye, I am holding Faith’s hand at Centennial Hall. I really wish.

Sorry for today’s lack of optimism and light. The loneliness has started creeping in, and I miss what I had but a week ago. The simple pleasures of a wonderful friend seem so distant. My former hallmates Emmitt, Justin, Nic and gang have all moved to another dorm, leaving me with a whole bunch of new people to get acquainted with. I am not one who loves change. I am one who would rather sit at the same chair, eat the same thing, have the same view whenever I can help it. I don’t know if it’s sheer laziness, but I don’t like being taken out of my comfort zone. Hopefully I’ll find some light at the end of this tunnel. Fast.

It's Off To Work We Go

It was the first day of school in quite a long time. There was a sense of excitement and anticipation, and maybe even fear. A poem was read to us, setting the tone for the entire course. I enjoy poetry, but live in glorious ignorance of its technical complexities. I look forward to reading wonderful poems and sharing life experiences.

My other module “Languages and Cultures in East Asia” had a large proportion of Asian-looking people, who most probably like me signed up hoping to have a headstart in the course. I do not profess expertise on the subject, coming from Southeast Asia, a whole different ballgame. The languages that will be covered most intensively are Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

Living with a roommate certainly is a different experience. I assumed army life would have prepared me for it, sharing a small enclosed space with a dozen other strangers. The one factor I didn’t consider was that none of that dozen were of a different culture. Ryan has been great thus far, considering the roommates I’ve seen Zahid live with. There are still differences of course, coming from a totally different environment and upbringing. I still find the music too loud, but that’s the fun in listening to music of an adolescent genre. You get to blast it. One funny cultural difference was made known to me tonight. I had forgotten to bring my nail-clipper from back home and asked Ryan if I could borrow one. It appeared that I had asked for something rather personal and sanitary. I’ve encountered people who don’t share utensils and am sensitive enough to understand the sharing of toiletries. It had hardly occurred to me that a nail-clipper would incite such a torrid response. He did hand it over, but also mentioned something about putting alcohol later to sterilise it. Laughs I don’t think I’ll use it. Have to remind myself to get one tomorrow before I start looking like one of those Thai dancers.

The music is still on, but I know Ryan is sensible enough to put on his headphones when I lay my head to sleep. I have much to thank God for. Thank You.

Coming Back To Home Away From Home

It has been the longest time since I’ve written. I spent all of my summer vacation back home in Singapore. I had problems updating on a constant basis because the computer was less equipped than this one.

Coming back to Arizona was an “interesting” experience. It ached so much to leave Faith again, having now tasted the wonderful sweetness life with her brought me, as compared to life without. I had contemplated not coming back, or doing my degree at a local university, but she encouraged me to see it through. I do love her so.

The skies in Arizona are still blue and cloudless, though only in the morning. It is the monsoon season and thunderstorms are the soup of the day. I’ve never seen lightning in such magnitude. It truly was a sight to behold. It feels so familiar coming back, it’s almost as if I never left (until I found myself forgetting the names of the eating places).

Tomorrow is the start of another semester and I look forward to the new things I will learn. My textbooks (thought EXTREMELY expensive) are a joy to look at and browse through, and I hope that the interest will sustain the heavy reading as well.

What can I say? I miss Faith. I miss holding her hand, putting her hand to my face. I miss seeing her every morning. But by God’s grace He will see me through.

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