Making Light of Things

December 2001 Archives

Beyond Bars

It was my first time carolling, ever. To do it to a group of people in prison didn’t make it any easier. except for the fact that they were a captive audience.

It was hard to look at them and sing songs about children skipping and dancing, snow-covered sidewalks and the like. We omitted some songs which might have proved more depressing then uplifting, but one has to admit, Christmas carols aren’t the sort of thing you want reminding you of a world you have no access to.

It was hard to look at them because I saw a lot of myself there. Unlike most of the others who sang beside me, I was brought up in the slummier parts of Singapore, where my first uttered words were in Hokkien. Unknown to many friends and all of my family, I was part of a gang in Marine Parade. Not one of those teeny-bopper gangs you find so much of nowadays. Most of them are already married with children. Frankly, I am glad for all that I went through. I am not ashamed of who I am or where I come from. I am ashamed that I had changed so much since, and in the eyes of those behind bars it seemed like I have betrayed them. Gone over to the other side. Became English-speaking, yuppie trash.

Took a while, but I finally lifted my eyes above my music score and looked them in the eye. There was no resentment to be found. Some clapped along, others sang whatever they knew. If we repeated words enough they sang along. Angst is a luxury afforded to the affluent. I returned to my roots and remembered the simplicity of life there. The warmth of a friend and late-night talks under the void-deck. No running after riches, talking about the stock-market, no endless debates about current issues we honestly have no control over. No pretense. I liked it like that.

Life…their life…the life of a “low class, uneducated” man flows inside of my veins. I will not taint it with the synthetic cold and lifeless electronics of “new and improved” Singapore. I want to smell the rubbish along Kallang River. I want the old Singapore back.

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Personal Confessions

I have never lived this life before.

For most of my life, I was somewhat of an underachiever who never failed to get the phrase “bright but lazy” on the teacher’s remarks column of my report card every year. I thought of myself a rebel who refused to be judged under the norms and criteria of established society. Sure, even then I was opinionated and equally verbose, but I’d rather have died than compromise my perspectives, dance to the tune of the graders for a good grade. I didn’t want anyone to judge me by the numbers on a page, be they red or blue.

These past two years at Arizona have been somewhat of a new life. For once in my life I did not have to tone down my opinions or fear asking questions. Unlike the “you don’t need to know at your level” answers I got from teachers in Singapore, the professors here have been more than happy to see that a student expressed interest in their field of study. It was such a liberating experience, much like soaring, I would imagine. It was such a high.

Unbeknownst (gotta love the word) to myself, the whole rat race began to get to me. I often reminded myself that it was not the object of education. I believed that I had it all under control, yet somewhere deep inside I knew I had betrayed all those who were like myself in my youth. I had sold out and gone the other way. Some deep part of me focused on getting the grade, getting the grade, getting the grade. My sense of self-worth began to be tied to academic success and the fruit of pride began to blossom in my life. I didn’t like where I was headed.

During these few nights of final exams I found it hard to sleep. I wasn’t consciously obsessed with grades, but obtaining those good grades have never come down to this fine a line in my four semesters here, and it all hung on how I did at the finals. I tossed and turned about in bed, my mind prancing about like a racehorse on steroids. Website layouts, things to pack, people to meet….whatever material my mind could attach itself to it did. I knew that I had become something I had dreaded. I had become a drone to the system. I had become someone who was more concerned with what people and society thought of me than what God thought of me.

I knelt down to pray last night. I needed Him so much. I needed to be saved from the latent pride that was building inside of me. Like my previous entry a few days ago I pleaded “more holiness give me, more strivings within”. I wanted His assessment of me to matter more than anything this world could throw at me. I wanted to get my priorities straight. I wanted to be able to see clearly again.

Today I stare at the chance that I might get four less than satisfactory grades out of five. I am relieved, not that the burden of accomplishment has been lifted from me, but that I feel like myself again.

I have learnt a lot from this whole struggle within myself. Despite my inner reluctance, God has removed what I treasured, and gave in exchange more of Himself. I have never been more fulfilled. I can only stare in amazement and whisper my thanks.

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On Silver Wings

Heading home in a few hours. Not really looking forward to a full day in a pressurised cabin, but the power of chicken rice and beef noodles is not to be underestimated.

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Singlish Words Of Wisdom

Don’t be like that whore!

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Makeup Classes

© Superstock Inc.

“What? Now you tell me the smokey look is out!”

Go on. Hit me with your best captions. Just drop them in the comments below.

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Vehicle License Plate Suggestions

I’ve to revew the car license plate registration here at Arizona, and I need suggestions as we’re thinking of changing the current number / letter combination to something more interesting and easier to remember. It has to be seven characters long or less. So far we’ve come up with MEEPOK, SLOWCAR and BLANK. I’m sure you guys can give us better ideas.

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I Am A Work Of

If I were a work of art, I would be Claude Monet’s Waterlilies.

Based on The Art Test that seems to be in vogue in many of weblogs these few days. I’m darn proud to be a Monet, considering how many Monet posters I have at home.

I am soft and gentle, but very colourful. Although based in reality, I look at the world through a filter of impressions which shape how I see things. Splashes of light help to define my presence and bring an endearing quality.

Which work of art would you be? The Art Test

Biscotti is Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, which hangs in my sister’s room. The utterly tranquil deep blue of night as ripples caress the fabric of night-time sky. What a beautiful soul, Van Gogh.

Delwen is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. She thinks she’s gonna make it big in the porn industry after the art piece assessment. Go ahead…you know you want to visit her site.

Frou is Piet Mondrian’s Composition A. Never seen this art piece before…but I think it’s utterly square. Time to relax doncha think Frou?

Vaya is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Popular and charmed millions? That’s absolutely Vaya.

To add your site to this awfully long advertisement, take the art test, and leave a comment.

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Elvis Sighting

This was the last photo of Elvis before he lost his nutella hairdo to someone’s insatiable nutella cravings.

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My sister is undergoing some experiment for her speech and hearing sciences class. Apparently she has to experience being mute for two days and later write a paper on the experience, so the house has been relatively quiet the entire day. The magna-doodle board has become our main medium of communication. For those of you who do not know what a magna-doodle board is….shame on you. It’s the white coloured board with the slider at the bottom which you use to erase the board. It’s always seen in the sitcom Friends, behind Joey and Chandler’s door. Extremely useful, if you ask me. Especially if you have a mute sister who sings in the shower sometimes.

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Last Leg

Just a little more than week to go, with exams around the corner. Just a little bit more…then it’s rojak, chicken rice and loads of other good stuff for three weeks.

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A Tad Late

It is still World AIDS day in Hawaii, so I guess I’m still in time. Didn’t hang around my computer today, hence the tardiness of the update.

I vividly remember where I was and the emotions I felt when I first heard about AIDS. It wasn’t one of those things one could just walk away from and pretend to have never heard. I knew that very moment, young as I was, that it would have an enormous impact on the society we lived in. On many rooftops, people were heralding it as God’s judgement unto the sexually immoral. On others, you could hear the rallying cry against homosexuals. Even today those cries can still be heard loudly and prominently over the more rational voices of the informed. “It happens only to bad people”. They qualify it with the rare exception of blood transfusion accidents and infants.

They are absolutely right. It happens to bad people. The thing they failed to see however, was that there is no absolutely good person. Some lie, some cheat, some steal, some murder, some commit adultery. Who is one to judge the other? Instead, let us be more informed about the disease, and with whatever good there is to be found in us learn to love.

It is sad that many self-proclaimed Christians judge the loudest. Forgiveness is amongst the first things to be found in the nature of Jesus Christ.

A few useful links.

Yahoo! Medical Information

The Body

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control

The NAMES Project

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