Making Light of Things

November 2000 Archives


It’s the Thanksgiving weekend and almost everyone in the dorms have gone home to be with their families. The whole campus is almost an eerie silence. Almost - we had a football game against ASU a few hours ago. ASU fans filled almost a third of the huge stadium, maroon and gold pom-poms waving. They won the game. And I did the most dumb thing. After watching our loss on television, I decided to find some dinner. I just put on my jacket and walked downstairs unto the street. Many people waved at me. Cars honked at me and the drivers drove past putting up their thumbs as they saw me. A kid in a car waved a pom-pom at me. A maroon and gold pom-pom.

I realised my stupidity. I wore an orange jacket. As gold clothes are hard to come by orange has been the substitute of choice for our in-state rivals. And here I was walking on the streets wearing the colour of the victor. I half wanted to run back to my room and change. I couldn’t help but smile at my unintentional betrayal. How stupid could I get? chuckles

I need a hug. I’ve never thought of myself as dependent on others, but rather a loner. I guess it’s these moments I’m proven wrong. Sometimes I look at the sky and I’m amazed at where I am, yet other times it seems like a downhill spiral of loneliness that doesn’t look to end anytime soon. I need Jesus in my life. I’ve been neglecting to read my bible these few days. Do pray for me. That I may remain faithful amidst the work and the hustle and bustle.

Goodnight you all. God watch over you.

Balls To You, Balls To Me

Our ladies’ volleyball team won the conference title today. It was the first time the University of Arizona ever won the title. It was also the first time someone else besides the University of Southern California or University of California, LA won the title. They’ve pretty much dominated it throughout the history of the tournament. Until tonight.

We played our state rivals Arizona State University. The rivalry between our schools is very intense, all the way from the late 1800s. Quite a number of their fans came down to McKale Stadium (our school stadium) and wore their maroon and gold. Some carried plastic pitchforks as their mascot was the Sun Devil. There are even T-shirts that have the “Official Ten Reasons Why I Didn’t Go to ASU”. Some of them included “I already know the alphabet” to “The Wildcat (Arizona’s mascot) is a symbol of peace with nature while the Sun Devil confirms the myth that ASU participates in devil worship”.

I enjoyed the game a lot. Not because we won, but because of the attitudes these girls shown on court. When they won a point they didn’t jeer at the other team, stare them down or show any sign of putting them down. They simply huddled, hi-fived and carried on. It was a beautiful sight. Sports have become so competitive that these little gestures have been lost, replaced by ones that trample the opponent to bits.

I attended the reception for the volleyball team after the game. It was held because it was the last home game for some of the seniors in the team. I sat in a dark corner observing the surroundings and the people. Little children went up to these girls and asked for autographs. I was particularly touched by this father who had a small boy in a wheelchair. He had made cardboard posters to cheer the team on. I want to be a good father if I ever have a child. The example I had before me was more than exemplary. It was beautiful.

In between the game and the reception I rushed down to the planetarium. I managed to use the telescope and caught glimpses of the Pleides, a group of seven stars also know as the seven sisters. I also saw Orion and the little trapezoid that could be seen only with a telescope. Saturn looked like a little toy, a pale yellow ping pong ball within a ring. Jupiter and her four moons was spectacular. I could see the swirls around her. It’s hard to imagine that small ball was so much larger than earth. Utterly amazing.

The Catcher In The Rye

These few weeks have been really busy and packed with test after test, and readings after readings. Books lie on my bed waiting to be read. Juan Ruiz’s Book of Good Love, Gottfried von Strassburg’s Tristan, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye lie on top of Goblin Moon, the Spiderman novel I was halfway through before academic hell broke loose. I’ve finished reading Catcher in the Rye. Thoroughly enjoyable I found myself admiring Holden Caufield, the anti-hero who was totally convinced that the whole world of adults were “phony”. It is not too hard to see why.

It’s been some time since I stepped into Jenelin’s websites, and it is amazing how this girl finds time to manage her sites so well. Her sites “Armands to Zounds” and “Barricade of Revolution” are found in my links page. I have always been intrigued by this young lady who shares my love for musicals. Rather, it is me who shares her passion, for she has plenty for the rest of us. She has since included a journal in her websites and it is a very interesting read. Her love for life is rare (though I seem to have said this about quite a number of people) and even contagious.

An idea hit me today. It’s a semi-business idea, one of the many which I occasionally have. I thought of bringing huge pieces of cardboard and markers to basketball games, and charge people a few dollars to make their own posters. This way, the stadium atmosphere can be totally intense, while I make a little dough. It is not the money that matters to me, but rather the chance at making a difference. Well, I’m not sure if I have the guts to carry out my plans. I don’t know if being in business college is truly something I’m cut out to do. I don’t possess the courage or determination to push a sale, or stick to an offer. Much as I would like, the days of business being a service to society seem to have passed me by. Handshakes are no longer trustworthy, and the spoken word is as intangible as the wind. Maybe Holden was right, the older we grow, the more “phony” we get. Holden loves his kid sister. I miss my innocence. I strive to keep it, even in the face of friends who often tell me of things I lose by being such an idealist. I hope to have something beautiful left in me to pass down to my children.

When Holden’s kid sister Phoebe asked him what he wanted to do if he had his choice he replied

Anyway I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around - nobody big, I mean, except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. I mean, if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.

School dropout. Antisocial. Lonely. Depressed. That’s Holden for you. Idealistic, hopeful, forlorn that the world isn’t what it should be for the children. That’s Holden for me. In so many ways, I too, want to be the Catcher in the Rye.

Food and Fun

Stephanie finally came down to Tucson for Homecoming. It was something we’ve been planning for such a long time, and in a flash she has come and gone. It is amazing how different Tucson is when you have car at your disposal. We ate at El Correl, no doubt the best prime ribs I’ve ever tasted for so low a price. Stephanie told me that there were places in Tucson where the night skies were filled with stars. She described it “as if someone had put a glass sheet over you and sprinkled thousands and thousands of diamonds”. I hope to see that sometime. The stars are so few and far between back home in Singapore.

Homecoming is a festivity unique to American colleges and universities. The alumni comes back to visit their alma mater, and (hopefully) donates some money. It is nice to see such gratitude, a trait we Singaporeans seemed to have lost along the way to our current economic success. It was amazing to see the alumni marching band take up the instruments and strike up a tune, or the alumni cheerleaders wave their pom-poms. They were elderly and maybe not as attractive as they once were, but where physically beauty has declined, there was a purity of heart that easily compensated. Here they were, twirling their batons, marching in the parade as in days of old.

Eating with some of the alumni at the alumni dinner which Stephanie got us both tickets to, we heard stories that were rather intriguing. The elderly man seated next to us started telling us about how his dad worked in Singapore before second World War. I sat there listening to stories from a man who made the history books come alive. I know in my heart I will always remember Arizona. Even now I make memories to bring around in my pocket.

I am terribly tired from a weekend of wonderful discovery - the prime rib of El Correl, the shopping places that were really good bargains, Baggin’s sandwiches, Stone Cold Creamery. Notice that we had a LOT of food. Wonderful, glorious food. I’m off to bed now. Tomorrow is homework day.


A plane crashed today. A Singapore Airlines plane, to be precise. The news came so abruptly when Nick came into the IRC channel #poetry and announced it. For a brief moment we thought he was kidding. We obtained verification from our individual browsers and there was a lapse of silence. We sat there in shock, wondering if any friends or distant relatives were on board that flight. It seemed almost inevitable that some immature soul would march into #poetry and make wisecracks about the recently deceased. The plane crash spoiled my mood that day and I had no tolerance for them, promptly banning them from the channel. Slowly the process of blame allocation began. “How could the pilot take off in that weather condition?” “Why didn’t the air control tower stop them?” “Why isn’t the airline releasing the names of those on board?” In the corner, Wanda the witch cackled, seemingly nonchalant to the plight of the few hundred.

It may seem cruel and insensitive, but many of us breathed a sigh of relief to learn that the number of Singaporeans on that flight wasn’t as large as it could have been. Most of the passengers who were in the plane were Taiwanese and American. The pictures of the distraught Taiwanese family members as they walked through endless aisles of coffins pierces my heart. How brief and fragile life is. While they made their way around the aisles hoping not to identify their loved ones, Zorro and some fairies sat around, drinking gin from plastic cups.

People we knew streamed into #poetry, some asking for prayers for friends who might be on board that ill-fated flight, others frustrated at the delay the airline had in releasing the names of those involved to the public. Some of us prayed, a few others learnt how to. Many people were walking around with glitter in their hair, laughing and playfully pushing each other. Children were crying at thought of having lost a parent or two. Some of them had little baskets in which to place their candy. Those children were out on a mission.

Many Taiwanese burned offerings to their respective gods, some directly to the particular relative or friend who passed away in the crash. The billowing smoke rising to the heavens serves to remind us that there is a world above the one we’ve constructed. In these times of sorrow we learn once again of the things we’ll miss, and how we’ve failed to truly treasure them when we had the chance. The lesson is short-lived, for we forget tomorrow, trudging back to our lives of running the wheel, bringing home the dough. The light we had gained is as temporal as the candle flame in the pumpkin lamps that light our pathway tonight.

Happy Halloween.

« October 2000
Main Index
December 2000 »