Making Light of Things

May 2001 Archives


In a little less than two days I’ll be aboard an aeroplane headed home. It is the realisation of many hopes, some in black pepper and others in chilli, and served with a side of fried mantou (a Chinese sort of bread). Yet today while we drove down Broadway Ave (no, not the one in NY, silly) there was a slight pang in the air. Looking at the yellow traffic lights and the cacti-scattered mountains in the background, I know deep in my heart I’ll miss Tucson. It wasn’t so going back last summer mainly because then Tucson was the inside of a four-by-eight cell masquerading as a dorm room. The acquisition of a car opened up many avenues of musing and exploration. The Wal-Mart at the end of the really long Grant Road, the wonderful lights of Tucson by night as I drive down Skyline Drive, Waffle House in the morning or El Corral at night. You may call me cynical, but there are things I know will never occur in Singapore, not especially after Singapore got thrown out of the Malaysia Cup. The intensity of Tucson’s unity when the boys from the U of A went to the NCAA championship game is an experience I will never forget. Maybe we’re too busy making money back in Singapore. There are many things I love about Singapore, but her tendency towards materialism isn’t one of them.

Tucson, how do I love thee, let me count the ways. There aren’t many ways in which I love Tucson because there is only one way, albeit a fuzzy one. I bumble along my emotions and am unable to express it accurately, but know this - I am grateful for all that I have seen, heard and felt. Be well, fair Tucson, in my absence.

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Sleep On IT

There are so many questions regarding dreams. From the Blade Runner’s “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” to more obscure “Do you dream in colour?”, humankind (to be PC) has always wondered if dreams were indeed a peek into another realm, or a journey into the subconcious. I dream in colour. I dreamt of an ivory white coffin with beautiful silver handles last night. Not being the superstitious kind, my first reaction was to get up and write it down, marvelling at the intricate design rather than the deeper meaning, if any, behind the rather ominous sign.

Another skill I’ve picked up while here in Arizona is the ability to work in my sleep. Having suffered the torturous MIS (Management Information Systems) class last semester under the gruelling Professor Jon Michaels, this unique ability came unto me. I can actually sleep on a problem and awake with the solution. Well, most of the time anyway.

Whether in colour or in black and white, there is so much to learn about the human psyche and it’s inner workings. It lies between the physical and meta-physical, truly a discovery waiting to be uncovered.

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Food Fights

Min and I will be heading home in five days time. I guess the one thing Min thoroughly enjoyed was the sheer number of television channels. It’s a routine she follows fervently. The weekday afternoons spent on repeats of ER, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the occasional Dating Story. During the evenings Friends would come on, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, more ER, depending on which day we’re talking about. The one thing that I caught on was the cooking shows. I’ve included a number of web links to cooking shows we watch with devotion. Most undoubtedly, Iron Chef is almost a religion in the house we live in. Though it has been airing in Japan for over three years already, it is a novel idea here in the Western world. It is a sort of gladiator battle, where instead of warriors wielding swords, challenger chefs come on the show to challege the Iron Chefs, resident chefs who are supposed to be the forefront of their respective cuisines. There’s Iron Chef Japanese, Chinese, French and Italian. The chairman of the show would then reveal the secret ingredient, of which the Iron Chef and challenger would have one hour to prepare as many dishes as they can muster. The dishes are judged by a panel of judges (some of whom know little besides eating) and the winner goes home with nothing but fame and glory (so the show says). Though Min and I always laugh at the mannerisms and ridiculous intensity of what is essentially a cooking show, we are captivated by its intrigue. “What is the secret ingredient this week?” drives us to watch it over and over again.

It’s educational in a way, so I tell myself. Hey, I whipped up quite a good pasta for lunch today.

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Dream A Little Dream

Just finished watching You’ve Got Mail, the cyber version of Sleepless In Seattle. It has a nice atmosphere to it, and one cannot help but be moved by the innocent eloquence of the emails between the two. One particular line that caught me was when Meg Ryan replies to the question of whether there was someone else in her life with “There’s the dream of someone else”. We all have our dreams of that particular someone. That someone who’ll sweep us off our feet unto adventures untold, and at the same time be the rock of stability and dependability. That someone who’d love us unconditionally and cradle our fragile hearts with TLC. There is that dream of this somebody. And in slightly more than a week I’ll see her face to face again.

Thank you so much for loving me. There are so many times you doubted that you could ever be that someone in my dreams, but you’ve been all that and more. I can only thank God for you and pray that in all things I remain faithful to Him, that I may be a better friend, companion and God-willing, husband. Continue to pray for me, for we live in tumultous times. God be with you.

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Silence Not Quite Golden

There’s a deaf person (they don’t call it audiably-challenged, do they?) in my statistics class and it’s interesting to see the signers move their hands in a continuous graceful fluent motion, especially so when you know the lecturer is rambling. Well amongst my observations I realised one thing: we so often daze off while listening to lecturers, parents, over-talkative friends and such. When confronted we just issue a simple “oh yeah, I’m listening”. Deaf people don’t have such a luxury. There were times when this student was clearly not listening. As you can see, even a non-expert like me can tell. The signer’s futility was written all over her/his face (there were two of them) as they went on to an audience that clearly left them some time ago. Our lives would be so different if we weren’t afforded the little oasis, where our daydreams are subtle enough to stay hidden.

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Playing With G-Strings

I’ve never thought of myself as musically inclined. It’s probably because I’ve always been surrounded by people who were truly so. Faith plays the piano and has the most angelic voice (not saying this just because I’m madly in love with her (oh ok, I’ll admit that it has some influence)). Erick is able to improvise music just by listening to it. My cousin Matthew plays the guitar like a man possessed. I often stand aside and watch as they talk in their own funny lingos of al codas and accelerandos. Somewhere down the line I concluded that I had little passion for music and turned to the written and spoken word instead.

I play my classical guitar pieces in the privacy of my own room, and sing to myself when no one’s in the vicinity. There are many times where I feel an overwhelming urge to burst into song or be able to take over the stage with music. Yet it seems my mind has already been programmed to believe myself incapable of producing music. Yet now I sit here listening to Firedance (from Riverdance) and I can’t help but feel the music in my veins. My face pulls into a smile for no reason whatsoever. Upon self-analysis, I find my musical tastes favouring Broadway musicals and country music (yes you read right), indicating a need for a storyline that would pique my interest. Yet this music has a story in itself, and pulsates with emotion. Other things in my playlist right now include East of Eden by Lee Holdridge, which I have decided shall be our wedding march. Pachelbel’s Canon in D is a wonderful piece, but overplayed.

I still look forward to the time where I find the courage within myself to sing before an audience and somehow pull it off without disgracing my family name. Maybe Les Misérables’ “Empty Chairs On Empty Tables”, “Do You Hear The People Sing?” or The Scarlet Pimpernel’s “Where’s The Girl?”. I want so much to move the human spirit, and as Dr. Jekyll sings in Jekyll and Hyde, to “feel alive!”

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One of the worst parts

One of the worst parts about going to school has to be that small hill we have to ride over everyday. I just grunt and bear it, but Min, being the more vocal of us both, voices her disapproval on an almost daily basis. It is only recently that I noticed the words printed on her bicycle. In huge letters it spells “GRAVITY”.

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Under Pressure

One week into summer school and I’m so relieved it’s the weekend again. Being a three week semester, everyday of lecture constitutes a week of normal time. Hence, there is little time to rest and I am glad statistics isn’t totally alien to me. It’s not exactly my favourite subject, but at least I’m familiar with chi-square and standard normal distributions and the like. It does make life a little easier. Min is down with a little cold and flu, and as of now doesn’t want to take her Nyquil as she doesn’t want to be knocked out early on a Friday night. Oh, don’t worry, she’ll pretty much sleep into the wee hours of the afternoon tomorrow. The weather here is terribly hot (warm is too nice of a word to be used), and cycling home in the afternoon is not something we look forward to. I can’t wait to come home and eat at hawker centers and be in walking distance of a shopping center. In some ways I like the small town life, but I’m discovering myself to be highly urbanised in many other ways. Much as I dread the eventual global warming air-conditioning causes, the need (read need) to cool down is just too important. Right now, my electric fan is my number one fan (or vice-versa).

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Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost but now am found was blind, but now I see.

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To See Beyond The Eye

It seems today that almost anyone can publish a book. I mean, even Shaquile O’Neal is publishing a book. While he’s one of the few players in the NBA to actually graduate with a degree (he went back to school in summer), it seems that the door is open wide for anyone, absolutely anyone to get published. It is no longer literary skill or a keen intellect that drives today’s literature. The pen that creates make-believe worlds in vivid detail is not half as mighty as a stained condom or cold hard cash. I do not know if we as human beings have denegrated to this plebian level, or that the mass media no longer targets the intellectual elite, but the general population. Of course, one could always argue that not many members of the population sign hundred million dollar contracts like Mr. O’Neal. Are there anymore Emily Dickinsons, Brontes, Hemingways or Nerudas in the world? Are their whispers no longer audible in the fray of commercial hip hop, rap and the sound of gunshots?

We no longer hear Shylock’s tears falling on the sandy ground, or Orpheus’ pained song as he pleads for the lords of the underworld to release his wife. We seem to have lost emotion. Emotion is but a beginning, yet it seems to have lost its innocence. As Emily Dickinson once wrote,

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those we have personality and emotion know what it means to want to escape from these things.”

If you are out there, you who see the old man of the sea, or hear the sound of raindrops on grass, raise your voices and sing, that I may know I sing not alone.

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Sorry if you came here expecting an update but received none. It’s not my fault really! Blogger was down for the last few days. They seem to have fixed the problem. I really hope they did, cause Blogger’s too good a solution to be allowed atrophy due to oversubscription. Well as long as you can read this, Blogger’s doing a great job. Many thanks.

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Looting Scum Devil Land

Just came back from a day trip to Phoenix. It’s amazing how much difference trees make to the scenary. Felt almost like home for a brief moment. We managed to buy Ribena, Pokka Green Tea, Yeo’s Kaya, Calbee Prawn Crackers and many other things at the Chinese supermarket there. munch munch….can’t wait to be home.

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It has been awhile since I’ve read the Bible in a careful manner, and I’m glad that Faith reminded me to do so. Today’s reading from Deuteronomy 3:21 - 29 was about how Moses was forbidden to bring Israel into the promised land. All his life he had been preparing for this task, yet it was not him but Joshua who would be the one to complete the journey. God told Moses to go atop Mount Pisgah and view the promised land from there, but he was not allowed to enter it.

One can only imagine the type of pain that Moses felt, yet it is a foreshadowing of things to come. The Law gives to us a glimpse of the life God wants us to lead, but falls short in bringing us there. Joshua (also Hebrew for Jesus) would complete the journey. We need so much to depend on the One who saved us. I know I do.

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No All Beef Patties Special

Oh I forgot to mention this: This afternoon while getting a whopper at Burger King, I got one without the beef patties. It tasted pretty good. The guy must have known I was coming down with the flu or something.

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Michael Jordan In Heat

Exams are over and I’ve been playing basketball like a bat out of hell (wonder how that phrase came about). I’ve finally gained a little confidence after having the group of trash-talkers I used to abhor play on my team. I even got nicknamed “Michael Jordan” for a brief shining moment. I thank God for these times, not that I get a dose of self-esteem, but that I can play basketball for the sheer joy of it. Not having the height or the bulk (or the shooting touch), I just try to out-hustle everyone. Seems I don’t ever get tired chasing after an orange ball. Maybe my name was Rover or Duke not too long ago.

Feel like playing basketball today, but I’m down with a cold and a sore throat. I’m not sure if it’s the viral kind. There’s so much pollen in the air it could just be an allergy of sorts. The weather’s turned terribly hot these few days, reaching the hundreds (farenheit), which is about 39 to 40 degrees celcius. It takes determination just to walk to the car, let alone bake in it. Argh, can’t believe we have three more weeks to go.

Min has been rather depressed lately. She thinks she didn’t do well for her exams. Knowing the pessimist she is, I’m sure everything will turn out fine in the end. So right now I’ll just have to be a little careful about stepping on her toes.

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To Protect And To Serve

Jan is a friend I made on IRC (Internet Relay Chat), and though we’ve not seen each other face-to-face extensively (we’ve met a few times), there’s a certain closeness I feel toward her. Most recently there was a certain change in her manner of language and tone that struck me by surprise. She used to type things out in full sentences, keeping to proper grammar and spelling, much like I do. This time it took me quite a while to recognise her through her use of mispelt (though syllabically correct) words and broken sentences. As you read this you might think that I look down at people who do not stick prissily to the omnipotent rules of English grammar. That is not true at all. I speak Singlish fluently and am proud of the fact. I have no qualms with people using colloquial terms or terminology unfamiliar to me. Yet the change in her unsettled me somewhat. It felt as if I had lost a friend with whom I could speak my mind, and in her place stood one without the necessary gravity to have the heart-to-heart.

After speaking to her and communicating my fears, I am ashamed that I had unintentionally judged her such. She is not different simply because she now chooses to speak different. But I cannot deny the fact that there is a change from the brooding to the more lighthearted. I have to remind myself that she is still yet young, and life abounds with much change before her. In some way I am glad that she has taken this first step towards jollity. I lived my whole life old for my age and often in thought (though my teachers swear I was daydreaming all the time). There are times I wonder what it would be like to break free from the mold and be unafraid to make a fool of myself. I have dreamt (and still dream) of performing in a broadway musical or singing in front of an audience, yet I am most comfortable when delivering speeches.

So I look upon Jan as an older brother would - with fond affection, and ever ready to protect. She has taught me something today - To be in awe of every human soul, and not let my own inhibitions transform me into an elitist who thinks himself superior. Blogger Comments x

Hope That Doesn't Disappoint

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” 1 Peter 3:15

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:4-6

Hope is one of the least emphasised topics in today’s preaching. Yet as I read my Bible today I am reminded that I ought to have the “hope that is in me”, that I may defend it with meekness and fear. Without hope, the Christian faith is but another religion, another belief. It is the fact that we hope in Christ’s second coming that gives us motivation to go on. It is the power that enables us to run the race, to fight the fight. Yet our vision of hope grows cloudy when we forget the fact we are called to live for a higher purpose.

I have a friend who faces a huge dilemma. Her visa expires in less than two weeks and she might have to return back to Singapore. I must admit I do not understand fully her reluctance or her situation, but it is the death of hope in her that scares me so. I know with all my heart that all these things happen for a purpose that is yet to be revealed to us, that in some way, no, in every way, God is in charge of everything. I only pray that I may be of some comfort in this difficult time for her. Yet sometimes it is hard lift her up and be optimistic of the situation. But the one thing I have to say, and should have said to her while we spoke was this:

I hope with you. I hope for you. And I know that hope in God never disappoints. I only pray that somehow you be shown the same. Blogger Comments x

A Shade of Red

It’s “dead” day today. While most people have study weeks that allow them a whole week to prepare for the exams, we have “dead day”, a single day. Instead of moping over the lack of time we had, Min and I decided to go do some grocery shopping. Living on pizza simply wouldn’t do.

While stocking up the cabinets, we discovered a piece of ginger sitting unobtrusively in the corner. This was a piece of ginger that Faith bought with us back in December. Only now it was hardly ginger as we knew it. It had shoots and was starting to grow leaves. Heck, leave it alone for awhile more and we probably had ourselves little baby gingers. Sadly, ginger the plant had to make way for new groceries. It was also due to the fact that we were afraid of it mutating into some venus flytrap hybrid. So another piece of Faith’s presence goes into the trash.

Erm, Faith dearest, the ginger snaps you bought still sits there. Blogger Comments x

Clean Hands or Dirty Hands

Uncle Mun Fai’s father passed away on the same day as Uncle PK. It was sudden and unexpected. He passed away due to some asthmatic problem. Though I’ve never really known him well, I remember the first time he came to Changi Christian Assembly. He looked the splitting image of Uncle Mun Fai. He always carried a very quiet demeanour about him. It was a pity I never got to know him just because I didn’t speak Cantonese.

Uncle Eddy mentioned some interesting facts about the two deaths on the same day. One was an educated man, the other a simple one. Yet both came to God by faith in Jesus Christ and found salvation. It reminds me of how temporal human achievements can be. The things that last live in the lives and memories of those who yet live, and a life lived serving others sows such this crop. Whether we are called into positions of leadership to do “great” things, or into the small activities of everyday life, we ought to exhibit the faithfulness worthy of our calling. There are no great or lesser things in God’s eyes. For if one sinner repents, the entire heaven rejoices. The party doesn’t get larger than that. Blogger Comments x

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