Thursday, July 31, 2003

at luncheon today with a bunch of high powered suits from the city, i was struck with a sudden question: where are the civil institutions in our city? of course, the easy answer is that we've never had any and probably won't have any significant ones for a very long time because our government seems to not believe in civil society and public discourse. but the hard answer is another question: are we afraid to produce them, or are we so complacent in our belief in the PAP that we don't even want them to exist to ask hard questions?

the speaker at lunch today was someone from the Local Economic and Environment Development Council, which looks into zoning and development of planned manufacturing districts and transportation networks and that kind of thing for the areas under its care. the speaker enthusiastically introduced us to a bunch of schemes that his council was pushing through -initiatives, they're called =) - with the City Council to improve things in their purview; in particular this caught my attention: he was thrilled that they had managed to not only save 450 jobs on Goose Island but through their efforts increased employment on Goose Island by 250 jobs. and it struck me that he was thrilled about total 700 jobs. that's a really small number for someone looking at the big picture -- chicago has a HUGE population. but for the people who live and work in the areas that the LEED council concerns itself with, 700 jobs IS a big deal. and then it struck me that it's really something exciting to see people so concerned with the intimate details of the city in which they live -- which inevitably led me to think about singapore once again.

civil society is really all abt organisations like the LEED council: institutions that are not commercial, nor governmental; institutions that are concerned with specific areas of social life and are willing to put in time and effort and energy to analysing problems and figuring out solutions. institutions that participate actively in public discourse and public government, though they are not officially part of the governmental structure. they serve as checks and balances for local and national government; they serve as a wellspring of ideas from outside the bureaucracy -of course, they have a bureaucracy of their own, but it's much smaller-; they serve as a means to serve on a more concrete, intimate way than being lost in the huge government superstructure, esp here in the US where government is truly a behemoth act.

so why don't we have civil institutions at home? sure, the government has never encouraged their existence; in fact they've never even encouraged public discourse. but it's disturbing that civil institutions haven't arisen, damn the torpedoes. ok sure, some things exist, like local RCCs and that kind of thing to take care of social life, but political life and economic development have no such checks and balances to ensure that what's happening on a national level is acceptable to us on a local, personal level. there is no channel of communication between the government and the people that is effective, neutral [-ish], and most importantly, open.

the other thing abt their absence is -- is this absence an indication of apathy on our part? do we not actively demand a say in our own future? after all, civil institutions are one way of ensuring that what is happening to us is acceptable to us; in singapore they may be the ONLY way that we can ensure that the future is acceptable to us. their nonexistence seems to imply that we have truly given up our futures, our entire lives, to the keeping of a sovereign that we have no influence on, that seems to believe that it constantly knows what's best for us without ever asking us first, and won't listen to us when we want to tell it something that is important to us. we don't care that we are not heard, that we have no voice. and that's terrifying.

that said, i still don't know what to do about the lack of civil society in singapore. part of me wants to shrug and throw up my hands and say 'whatever, man'; part of me --the state-flag-carrying part of me-- is trying frantically to come up with a solution that doesn't involve the complete overhaul of the education system -and- the destruction of an entire generation; the rest of me is asking if this is really that important. frankly, i have no idea.

on a completely different note i now have a name tag that reads 'Jeanette Kwek, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago'. tomorrow i get my picture ID for the Bank. how cool is that.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

first day of work is passing in a blur of 'hello, nice to meet you's and confused attempts to yank data out of a recalcitrant data set. but it's pretty cool to be here, in the hallowed hallways of the Fed -ok admittedly this isn't the new york bank, but it is a Fed bank nonetheless! it's a lot more casual than i thought it would be, which is nice -- everyone seems to go out of their way to make things less strange and intimidating. that's really good, because otherwise i would just be a hopeless mess - i'm still learning my way to the elevators, and my boss's office! the interns are sort of in the back of the figure of eight that makes up the research dept's offices, and i still get lost trying to find the washroom. -grins- no sense of direction = bad. but work is going well, i think i'm going to have fun, i have my own computer and my own space to mess up, and it's casual dress so i don't have to truss myself up in suits every day, though i might wind up doing that anyway 'cos i love to wear my funky shoes. the price to pay for vanity.

time to go back to work. =) no more slacking off -- i knock off in an hour...

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

i have a job! =) i'll be at the Fed, i'll have my own computer and my own cubicle, and i'll be able to wear sort of casual clothes all summer. as long as i remain within the bounds of casual friday, i gather, i'll be just fine. -grins- considering i've had to do that for both PSC and RGS before, i think my wardrobe can handle it. yay! =) so i won't be hanging around here wasting time anymore...not much anyway. =)

i start work tomorrow morning.

------

day after day i must face a world of strangers
where i don't belong
i'm not that strong
it's nice to know that there's someone
i can turn to
who will always care
you're always there

when there's no getting over that rainbow
when my smallest of dreams won't come true
i can take all the madness the world has to give
but i won't last a day without you

so many times when the city seems to be
without a friendly face
a lonely place
it's nice to know that you'll be there if i need you
and you'll always smile
it's all worthwhile

touch me and i end up singing
troubles seem to up and disappear
you touch me with the love you're bringing
i can't really lose when you're near
when you're near my love

if all my friends have forgotten
half their promises
they're not unkind
just hard to find
one look at you and i know that
i could learn to live
without the rest
i've found the best


Carpenters, I Won't Last A Day Without You


Monday, July 28, 2003

next project: make sushi!!! =) who knows if i'll be successful. but it seems like a reasonably fun thing to do. only i have nothing to make sushi WITH. which reminds me. there is no can-opener in my apartment. or a corkscrew for that matter. how can it be a college student's apartment with no corkscrew?

time to go shopping.

wow, what a mess. i come back to chicago after a long and exhausting flight, unwilling to leave, really, to find that the promised job did not materialise -- we got our dates mixed up, my boss and i, and they were expecting me on June 28th when i'd clearly said July 28th. -sigh- so right now my life is in limbo and i don't know what's going to happen. hopefully there will be another opening with my prospective boss, but otherwise...who knows. i feel really crappy about putting him through all this trouble. =(

on a much happier note, i went swing dancing up at Studio X last night -- it was the last Studio X of the summer! now i'd never been to Studio X before, always been sort of too lazy to get my butt up to the north side, but i'm really glad that Jan dragged me last night. [literally: he called at a quarter to nine and proceeded to talk, argue, and basically twist my arm into going with. kudos to Jan for his tenacity.] it was a blast! i'd forgotten -- i always forget -- how much fun it is to dance, and watch people dance, and listen to music in a dimly-lit room with a cool floor. i've lost a lot of my ability to follow -- the ability to switch my mind off, for one thing, which means i anticipate too much and usually wind up doing the wrong thing; and i'm no longer able to feel like i can make a start at playing instead of just following -- but hopefully with practice it'll come back faster than if i were learning it for the first time. lindy is so cool! especially when you execute a cool move you didn't know you were going to execute -ah the wonder of being a follow- and you and your partner share this moment of excitement and exuberance and -whoa that was cool- and everything feels just right in the world. that's such a beautiful feeling. things to work on: swingouts, you can never stop working on swingouts; getting back into the zen of following; and twist-twists! my swivels suck - i need to find a doorknob of the right height to practice with. somewhere with no carpet. my whole apartment -minus the kitchen- has carpet. bad for twist-twists.

and of course the dance floor was populated with some pretty awesome people last night, like our very own Sean and Bradley and Katie. i -love- watching Sean dance, he's so smooth and tight and cool, and he does these very very cool spin moves -he dances hollywood- and everything is so small and tight and sweeeeet. he also reminds me of amos, for some reason, it's really quite odd. pity his regular partner wasn't there last night, when they dance together i can't take my eyes off of them. and Bradley and Katie are fantastic too -- i had a great dance with Bradley last night, it was so much fun. now to find the motivation to go dancing at Fizz tomorrow night...i'm broke!

also discovered that Salonica is a great place to have brunch -- the prices are very reasonable and the servings are HUGE. i stuffed myself having brunch with paul yesterday. it was great getting together with pstan and yakking and catching up with what's going on in hyde park and so on -- i've felt very out of it while i was at home in singapore. it's always like that -- chicago fades away to a dream city while i'm home, and then i come here and singapore feels slightly unreal. though not so much this time -- i'm still incredibly homesick -sigh- it's also always really easy to chat with paul, we always have stuff to talk about and it's really generally funness to hang out with him. =)

so: got much accomplished yesterday: i had brunch with pstan; my phone line should be up in the apartment within the next two days or so; i went dancing; i cooked dinner. wow. =)

Thursday, July 24, 2003

gotta love the internet -- just signed up for new phone service online. so i should have a functional phone line within the week. i can't believe i give my roomie five weeks to deal with the phone plan situation, and she doesn't manage to do it anyway -- and i take care of it, in less than five minutes, from my room in SINGAPORE no less. dear god. but at least it's taken care of, and i should be able to get dial tone in abt a week.

leaving singapore once again in about six hours' time, and will be on my way to the airport in just a little over three and a half hours. how quickly time flies when you're having fun, i say. =) i've had a blast back home with all of you -- the friends, the family, the madness the food the movies the drinks the parties and all the assorted other goodies that i've been plied with over the last month. there are some of you i only managed to see once, or only managed to talk to briefly without ever meeting face to face for real despite all our promises, and for that i apologise -- it is entirely my fault, that i tried to see everyone and do everything without realising that there are only 24 hours in every day. and there are those of you with whom weeks are never enough, months are never enough -- those of you whom i wish could be with me every step of the way, physically and emotionally -- but we each have our separate individual lives to live, and it's selfish of me to want to keep you closeted with me all the time. besides, we'd kill each other, wouldn't we? =)

i'll be back in chicago soon, and getting ready to start seven weeks of work and then another ten weeks of school before christmas break rolls around. write to me, all of you, and let me know what's going on with your lives: your twentyfirst birthday parties that i will miss, and the concerts and the dancing and the craziness we always get up to when we are together that i won't have a chance to participate in. because at the very least i'll be able to imagine what it would have been like -- you guys know i'll be there in spirit cheering you on [dunk cheetung in a pool, he deserves it for dunking feng!]

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

drinks with old buddies from A01A tonight. i'm going to miss you guys when i'm off again, back to my other home on the other side of the world. much as i love it at the university of chicago, i do miss all of you when you are not here, and i wish that we could somehow be together while being all this distance apart, living out separate lives. i guess to a certain extent that's what the blogs are for: to let us have some sort of idea what's going on in each other's lives while we're not physically in the same place at the same time -- which seems to happen just once a year these days, short enough to make me miserable, yet long enough that i can run around and see all of you and spend just too little time with you.

every time i have to leave this country i am reminded that all my roots are here: the people i love most in the world -- my family and the Qwormz; A01A, with whom i have shared two wonderful years of JC life, and with whom i continue to share the world of college life, and hopefully will continue to share the world of working life! and all the random other people who float through my life and make it richer for their existence. how could i ever imagine leaving, when everything that makes me the human being that i am is here?

Sunday, July 20, 2003

back at my computer for the first time since thursday night -grins- it's been a great, fun-filled, event-packed final weekend of my summer vacation back in singapore. still am finding it hard to believe that i have been home a month now --where does time go? gail, i totally understand your bewilderment at realising that three weeks have gone by: what have i ACCOMPLISHED in the last month? other than having my wisdom teeth out? -- and i am almost about to leave again for another few months in chicago. at least there is christmastime to look forward to.

friday nite: everyone who turned up for the Humanz Party 2003: thanks for coming, it was a blast! i couldn't believe we got this many people to come; josh couldn't either. it looks like we have a good stab at reviving that humanz list that mr R let die...=) it was wonderful seeing so many of you again, and catching up with what's going on with everyone, and talking to the tutors. if i hadn't been so exhausted by my day at the beach it would have been even more spectacular for me, i think. -grins- the BEACH! sentosa's beaches, while not fantastic, are much better than East Coast -grins- and i spent most of friday morning baking in the sunshine. however, since i cleverly put too much sunblock on [ahh the fear of burning like i did last national day at the same beach!] i do not have a satisfactory level of brownness of skin. so perhaps there will be another trip out to the seaside squeezed into my schedule for the next three days -- i can always stay up all night wednesday night to pack, right? who needs to pack anyway? -wink- and saturday was the best, spending time -read all day- with the people i love most in the entire world, other than my family. the Wormz really are the family that i've chosen for myself, and every minute spent with them is precious -- i wouldn't exchange them for anything in the world. except perhaps even more time with them.

time to go hang out with jon and the rest of my real family one more time...



Friday, July 18, 2003

looking back from where i stand tonight
i wouldn't change a thing about my life
wrong turns i had to take back in those crazy years
could not have been mistakes if they brought me here

'cos all my roads have led me to
this night, this love i share with you
and though the road was never smooth
life has made me someone who
could be the right someone for you

i don't regret a single broken heart
that taught me what love is and what it's not
someone must have planned our two paths would cross
i couldn't see it then but i was never lost


-- All My Roads, Colin Raye



Thursday, July 17, 2003

everytime i think of you
i get a shot right through into a bolt of blue
it's no problem of mine
but it's a problem i find
living a life i can't leave behind
there's no sense in telling me
the wisdom of a fool won't set you free
but that's the way that it goes and it's what nobody knows
and every day my confusion grows

every time i see you falling
i get down on my knees and pray
waiting for that final moment
you say the words that i can't say

i feel fine and i feel good
i feel like i never should
whenever i get this way
i just don't know what to say
why can't we be ourselves like we were yesterday
i'm not sure what this could mean
i don't think you're what you seem
i do admit to myself that if i had someone else
then we'd never see just what we're meant to be


-- Bizarre Love Triangle

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

have had a surfeit of fun over the last 48 hours, am feeling the tiredness set in now...it's a pleasant sort of feeling, but it makes me incoherent as i type. indulge me. =) i love spending time with the wormz, and yesterday was one of the best in a while -- eun and alex and i hung around in town all afternoon [after i'd spent two hours sitting in coffee club xpress in wisma drinking a HUGE latte and reading undisturbed] cutting alex's hair and shopping and shooting pool --i suck at it! as H. knows very well having attempted, once, to teach me-- and then meeting amos and cece for la mian and xiao long bao and all kinds of other goodies. mmm. -happy tummy-

watched City of God this evening -- am very impressed by the movie, good call on the recommendations, pple who have been trying to get me to watch it!-- but am slightly irritated at myself for not watching it at Doc when it was showing in the spring. [on a side note: how strange it is that the movie only opened here this summer, while in the states it must've opened much earlier, to have been shown in the Doc spring season -- that's a quarter behind the cinemas downtown] it's the kind of movie that would have been really amazing in a cinema filled with undergraduates, esp undergrads like the ones who populate Doc Films at the U of C. i've become accustomed to watching movies with other college students; it's still strangely disconcerting for me to enter a cinema and have it half-filled with people who've clearly just knocked off work! anyways -- the camera work is excellent, the plot is gripping and real, the whole MOVIE feels real. honest. logical, in a twisted dark alien sort of way. go watch it. pity it's only showing at Cine, and at weird times.

am slowly coming to realise that i have only a week more in singapore before i'm off again for my little island oasis in chicago, with its full-sized bed with back support, and its north wall of glass, and its view of downtown where i will begin work the week after. how time flies when you're having fun!



Monday, July 14, 2003

excerpts from a late night/early morning conversation with alex:

...you know, if you look at the pure forms of both democracy and communism, they want the same thing, really -- for everyone to have a part in the community they live in, to have a role and a responsibility and a place. both communism and democracy need the same conditions to exist: a citizenry that's informed and that cares about the other people who live around them.

...it's funny how over all this time all people have really wanted to be able to do is live together peacefully and prosperously, and to be able to care about one another and live to a ripe old age...and we've never been able to do it

isn't it odd how some things just jump out at you at one in the morning?


furore over a video captured on a PDA in an RJC tutorial involving a teacher yelling at a student and then ripping up his homework. heated discussion with parents over whether this is the right thing to do -- mom is sort of upset because she feels like the two of us -meaning me and the brother- don't show the proper respect for teachers, her idea being that the very fact that this person is a teacher should command instant respect from us, because this is a person of authority. now i can't help but think that her thinking is influenced by the fact that this afternoon we watched The Road Home where the teacher was well-respected as a matter of course and mom seems to think that that is the way things should be.

well let it be stated for the record that i don't think the kid did the right thing. as far as i'm concerned, videoing people without their knowledge and consent is a no-no, much less posting it online for all the world to see. there're laws against this kind of thing, kiddo, regardless of how justified you feel in doing it. but having said that, i take issue with the idea that it's particularly heinous because this was a student filming a teacher, as if this were in any way more disrespectful or indicative of the collapse of the fabric of moral society than any other act.

as far as i'm concerned, being a teacher doesn't confer any special virtue on a person. GOOD teachers are of course worth their weight in gold and should be treated accordingly. however, you will find that in the majority, and i mean the very vastest of majorities, of cases, that is precisely what happens. children --students-- are very good at distinguishing between the people who are genuinely interested in their welfare, their education, their development as human beings and citizens, and they are willing to give credit where it is due. but god help you if all you want is to produce little clones who will score As and are willing to do anything -scream, give shitloads of homework, punish and humiliate- except put in real concern and effort and love into the class, because no one is better than your average student at spotting self-serving, lazy, incompetent and worst of all uncaring teachers, and mercilessly turning their lives into hell. look at it this way: if the TEACHER isn't interested in what's being taught, why on earth would a student be induced to care? if children learn by example, then by god the examples we're putting in front of them are really not very good ones, are they?

we always talk about how the teacher is one of the most important, motivating factors in a child's intellectual life: how a good teacher is important when children first enter school, because they're the ones who make our children want to learn, want to know more about the world, stimulate the curiosity and thirst for knowledge that is the mark of the scholar. and yet we seem curiously blind to and unconcerned about the fact that many many teachers in the system today are not up to the job; many of the teachers in the system today are filling spaces, plugging gaps, biding their time til their contracts are up and they can breathe a sigh of relief and leave for greener pastures. while i'm not saying that good teachers don't exist in our education system -- they must, because i've been lucky enough to have been taught by a whole slew of them in sucession -- i am saying that we need to be more deeply concerned with the fact that our system is unfortunately riddled with bad ones. we no longer live in times where teaching is a respected profession; because of that, we get teachers who don't always deserve automatic respect.

if i could, i would take a sledgehammer to the education system and recreate it from the ground up, filling it with the kind of teachers that i had: teachers who answered questions, all questions, who never ridiculed or rejected a point of view without argument or discussion, and most of all who got to know their students, who cared about us, made each one of us feel important. i would inculcate in the students a love of reading -a voracious, insatiable appetite for words and books and poetry and science- and a critical curiosity, a questioning of everything -well almost everything- they're told and that they read. and i would have them write or at least learn to write well, because everyone should be able to write and argue, it's good training for their logical minds. i wouldn't try and force kids to be what they didn't want to be, and i would do my best to make sure every child got to fulfil his potential in whatever field he chose.

but you know i can't do that. i'm not sure there exists a person in this country right now who can do that for our children.

Saturday, July 12, 2003

for some reason i've been thinking over these few days what i would like to do with my life post-college and perhaps even post-PSC. right now there are several options:

(a) stay in the civil service. this depends on my liking what i'm doing, of course, once i start work. that, in turn, is contingent on what i choose to do when i finish school, something that i like to mull over now and then. i'm really tempted to say that i want to go to Education, because i'm interested in it -- but i'm also afraid because MOE is one of the most stolidly bureaucratic of our ministries, and i'm afraid that the experience will break me. on the one hand i really want things to change for the kids; on the other hand the experience of being unable to get anything to change for them might just kill me. other options to keep in mind: probably Mindef, or Finance. somewhere i can hopefully use both the economics training and the political science. i think regardless of whether i stay i would like to go back to school and get an MA at least.

(b) leave the civil service but enter education in some capacity. i'm getting quite excited about this whole Raffles Program thing, and listening to dad talk about it last weekend gave me some ideas about what i would like to do with it. talked to Dan also last night about the possibility of teaching something i'm genuinely interested in -history of the modern world, or perhaps east asian history- in this program, and got quite excited about it. so there's a possibility, if i want to be an educator without being MOE. i think of it as a new form of education, something more all rounded than anything we've tried before, and if i can be some part of making that a reality, i would really love to do it. i think, however, that this route would entail my getting some post-grad work done in the field of education. not sure if that's something i'm willing to do just now.

(c) go back to school, get my post-grad, stay in academia forever. the idea of being an academic historian is quite quite appealling. sometimes i like to live life in the clouds, you know? reality doesn't have to exist for me except in a sort of theoretical, -people and places and time must exist so i can write about them- sort of way. a world i can retreat into, a world that makes sense and isn't necessarily full of stupid people who bullishly shoulder their way toward certain death and destruction, who squirm into corners in the blind belief that specialisation is safety and security. one of my profs once told me that i have the brain of a historian -amused- perhaps i will get the chance to prove him right in the future. have yet to decide what i want to get a post-grad in -although at this point econ is pretty much out of the picture- either in political science, or in east asian studies. the way my mind works though, it'll probably be a polsci degree with east asian historical focus maybe. the real problem i have with east asian studies is that i'm not really interested in anything beyond the histories of the various places -- you know, things like 'culture' and 'art' -- they're ideas and concepts that i don't really have any interest in dealing with. i just want to know what made things happen the way things happened.

one thing is certain though: i'm not going into the business world, the private sector, whatever you want to call it. i'll never be an economically productive member of singaporean society. it holds no appeal to me -- a great disappointment to mom, unfortunately -- compared with the allure of school. i want to be a perpetual student.








Friday, July 11, 2003

had dinner with cousin Jon at NYDC this evening [wisdom tooth update: very little swelling but chewing hard foods is still well nigh impossible. i had soup and dessert, good enough. infinitely better than MORE porridge. =)] and the whole relationship issue came up as a topic of discussion, among many. i've missed having jon around, we have such great dinner/lunch/teatime conversations when the adults aren't around to get in our way. this is the best thing about having a cousin who is the same age as you!

anyways, to put this down on paper --so to speak, or perhaps to send it out into the ether before i forget it-- and because it seems appropriate coming after the rant of this afternoon [brought on by girl flaking out on friend of mine]: i think that relationships are about two things. they're about love and they're about commitment. not just about being IN love, the whole rush of attraction and sparks and passion that flies around your heads those first heady months, but also loving your partner for everything that he/she is, and accepting the entire person that your partner is, not just selected, attractive parts. it's about being two separate people who are better together than apart because of that love. a relationship is also about making a choice -- some author once wrote a book about how love is an act of will not emotion, and in this case i think that's justified -- to stay with a person until Death Do You Part, so to speak. because it's just unbelievable that you'll never again meet another attractive human being because you're married to someone, you know? but you can definitely make the choice to do nothing about that attraction, because you've CHOSEN, and that choice is important to you. to both of you. but it can only work if it's a choice both of you are willing to make.

perhaps the reason that divorce rates are higher and people are unhappier about the decisions they make these days is that they've forgotten the importance of that notion, that definition of commitment. people have bought into the idea that they deserve nothing less than their dreams come true, nothing less than perfection, and they are no longer willing, somehow, to work for that dream as their parents and grandparents did before them. no relationship is perfect from start to finish, yet these days it seems easier --less costly-- to people to just leave and start all over again, instead of trying to work things out, even small things like whose turn it is to empty the trash. i guess it IS less costly to start over these days, because it's more permissible and you have more second chances than you used to. like Kathleen Kelly's 'dream of someone else' being the reason for leaving the someone you're with. =)

such depressing thoughts. yet there is still something to hope for, something to dream for, because sometimes in a rare moment of clarity you see precisely what you want, and you can hang on to that and remember that, and not settle for less than that, and not care that you are going to have to work hard to achieve it. i have my inspiration. i hope that one day my cousin will find his. =)



Thursday, July 10, 2003

you know, human relationships are really much more complicated than they need to be? i really wish that somehow, everyone could magically meet the person that he/she is supposed to be with, and never be parted from that moment on. honestly. that would save us so much trouble, and pain, and conflict, and self-torture, and self-flagellation, and all that kind of nasty, masochistic stuff that i like to save for my intellectual torment. but life doesn't work that way, i guess, because people don't like their lives to be easy, whatever they may say.

who knows what persuades us that we have fallen in love with another human being, and what makes us stay, against all common sense, all logic, despite the fact that our friends keep telling us that we are completely insane and that 'she is a FLAKE, get the HELL away from her! and STAY the hell away from her!' -- because we are too bull-headedly stubborn to accept that somethings aren't meant to be, some people aren't what you think they are, some people become someone or something they're not because of circumstances outside of your control. who knows what makes people make self-delusional statements that fly in the face of all logic, all emotional sense, because they are unwilling to accept the implications of actions which they must take? who knows what makes people take the self-destructive decisions to stick to their guns, and push one another beyond the bounds of endurance because one of you wants so badly to make it work, and the other wants so badly to not hurt his/her partner? it's not easy to make decisions to leave face to face: all you can remember at the time is that this is the person you've thought you've loved, that you HAVE loved the last heaven only knows how long, and this is the person who made you happy and safe, once. but ultimately the decision has still got to be made.

what makes another person uniquely suited to be the one person in your life who will always make you happy, always keep you safe, always bring your life joy and fulfillment and maybe pain and sorrow, but pain and sorrow that you're willing and able to bear?



Wednesday, July 09, 2003

it's always great to receive mail, isn't it? i've just spent two hours watching You've Got Mail and it always makes me want to jump right online and check my email and send pointless emails out to all my friends. there's just something about that movie that i love: the combination of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks; the endless books -- blending the Shop-Around-The-Corner appeal with the massive massive inventory of Fox Books, i love both kinds of stores; the shots of new york in the fall and the spring and oh, all those gratituous pictures of one of my favourite cities in the world -- i love new york. what more could i want in a movie? and i seem to watch it every time i'm home, and free, and sick, and tired. it's a great pickmeup. =)

i love those bookstores. i know some people have no use for big chainstores -- Ann Fadiman springs to mind, with her comment about Borders books just popping up like those ducks you use for shooting practice at carnivals [if you pop one, another jumps up in its place, identical to the first] -- but you have to love the fact that they have huge inventory, you can sit for hours reading and no one will bother you --well maybe not NO ONE, but no one you can't scare off with a well placed, well aimed scowl -- and MULTIPLE TRANSLATIONS of the classics! i love Kino and Borders for that reason; Times and MPH haven't got a thing on them, and that's really sad. really really sad. of course, there's always the other option, the 57th Street Books and the Sem Coop, which are my other favourite kind of bookstore, where you can always find your particular perculiar version of whatever book you're looking for, and have a long chat with the counter staff about it while you're looking for it/purchasing it.

the romantic in me, who pops out now and then for no apparent reason, loves the idea that somehow you can meet the person of your dreams just randomly. there's this line -- meg ryan's character, Kathleen Kelly, she says: "No, there isn't someone else. But there is the dream of someone else." when she's breaking up with her boyfriend and i'm thinking to myself, yes that really is true, isn't it? we shouldn't have to give up our dreams of 'someone else' just for the one we're with, should we? and there's something about the magic of loving the place that you're in, and the one that you wish you were with, that really appeals to me.

well it's time for me to wander off and finish reading a few of the ongoing projects that i have on hand...oh Pinker...

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

a moment of silence for the brave Iranian twins, Ladan and Laleh Bijani, who passed away during the surgery today to separate them and would have allowed them, for the first time in 29 years, to live separate lives.

Monday, July 07, 2003

i am no longer wise -- my teeth came out today, in a flurry of LA shots after judicious sedation by a really nice anesthetologist. as usual, he couldn't find my vein the first time, so the back of my left hand is going to be one solid bruise come the morning -- i can see it coming up now -- it happens every time: i bruise easily and have tiny veins, a bad combination when needles going in and staying in are involved.

so far, so good, though food consumption is down down down -- i'm eating MUSH as my dentist calls it, it's really quite depressing to stare at the gorgeous food on the dinner table and then start eating fish porridge, and be unable to even eat the fish 'cos you can't chew anything and can only swallow the rice -- and tomorrow will probably be a truly liquid diet. good thing i like milk. =) mmmm. but the pain is being very well managed by painkillers, and i think that there isn't really that much pain at this point anyway -- though i am told by many that it will get worse, and the swelling will show itself tomorrow. we shall see...

oh, and get this: my painkillers are Bright Pink, and they come in sugarcoated pills. as in the casing tastes like candy. how cool is that?

in other news, got my grubby fingers on a copy of Pinker's The Language Instinct -nod to alvin-boy- over the weekend thanks to Alex and Charles's willingness to wander ard hunting it down for me, and am in the first third of it now. it's really quite good, wakes the mind up, challenges what you thought you knew, and all pitched at a level that doesn't really require any specialised knowledge. except in grammar -he talks about noun phrases and verb phrases, and i'm stuck at 'what's a noun, a verb, and a phrase' because heaven only knows i never did grammar classes, i learned grammar and syntax by reading lots of books as a small child! =) so if you're fascinated by the question of how people acquire language, this is probably an interesting way to start...

tomorrow will be a day filled with reading, sleep, and plenty of dvds -- i found You've Got Mail! so i can finally watch it again. i love that movie --




scripture reading for the third sunday after Trinity: 2 Cor 12:2-10 -- excerpt:

"Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

cf. Nietzche's On the Genealogy of Morals -- i would quote but my copy is in Chicago. suffice to say that his scathing remarks about Christianity being the bastion of the weak are well founded in the writings of St. Paul -- something that i actually don't find all that depressing.

went to a different service this morning -- instead of our usual 8am traditional Anglican service at St. Andrews -- at VCH and really really didn't like it. by the end of the service i was so agitated i literally vibrated in my seat, i just couldn't wait to get out of there, it upset me so much. two things: (1) church services were not meant to be a dog-and-pony-show complete with drum set and electric guitar, with no sense of calm or ritual, with no formality, with screaming babies outside the doors and people coming and going as they please as if this were a baseball match; and (2) this is Victoria Concert Hall, if you please -- i have come to expect a certain standard of professionalism within its walls, it's MY CONCERT HALL, and having this dog-and-pony show held inside of it is just painful to everything inside of me. they use mics, for goodness sakes. it brought tears to my eyes to be back in this familiar space, listening to these familiar acoustics, and having it completely ruined by the ra-ra madness of this strange 'Anglican' service. i swear, if the church keeps heading in this direction, i am jumping ship and turning Catholic. far from inducing calm and magnifying faith, this service made me so angry i couldn't see straight, couldn't wait to leave, made me half decide that Nietzche is indeed right about Christianity. my relationship with the Church is tenous at the best of times, and this morning was NOT the best of times.

i hate intolerance. which may be intolerant of me, but when i hear people say things like 'i hate gays, they're so useless' it makes me so angry i have to bite my tongue to keep from snapping at them. 'how many gays do you know?' i want to ask. 'when's the last time you talked to one, when's the last time you made the effort to see past his sexuality, when did everything about a person become encapsulated in his gender preferences, when did stereotypes become more important that individual human beings?' i want to ask. 'when's the last time YOU were a productive member of the human race?' i want to ask. when people talk about things they have no understanding of as if they were The Authority on the subject it drives me mad -- and when it's my Own Family doing the talking, it's just infinitely compounded, because i CAN'T just look at them like they're completely crazy, and i want to know -- why are they this way, when i'm not? are they too rigid, or am i too flexible? why can't they ever see the other side?

i don't know what to make of their strong and blind belief in a Church that has shown itself, time and again, capable of monumental hypocrisy and lies, of intolerance, of selective interpretation, of rigidity and hatred and all the things Unchristian which the clergy preach against, of fighting wars of extermination and political survival. a Church that was founded because one man wanted to leave his wife for another woman, and couldn't win his battle with the Roman Catholic Church. a Church that very often doesn't seem to have anything to do with God, not very much at all.








Friday, July 04, 2003

'But it's a big but. Do you mind? It's important! Someone has to care about the...the big truth. What Vetinari mostly does not do is a lot of harm. We've had rulers who were completely crazy and very, very nasty. And it wasn't that long ago, either. Vetinari might not be "a very nice man", but I had breakfast today with someone who'd be a lot worse if he ran the city, and there are lots more like him. And what's happening now is wrong. And as for your damn parrot fanciers, if they don't care about anything much beyond things that go squawk in cages then one day there'll be someone in charge of this place who'll make them choke on their own budgies. You want that to happen? If we don't make an effort all they'll get is silly...stories about talking dogs and Elves Ate My Gerbil, so don't give me lectures on what's important and what's not, understand?' -- The Truth, Terry Pratchett.

like a bad penny, 2A01A 2000 keeps returning to RJC, year after year after year. it's been three years since we left; it's hard to believe that so much time lies between the us now and the us that existed in 2000. it was great to see the guys again -- it felt just like old times, only alvin's a little more smarmy/charming, and fengyuan is no longer a bastard -grins-...it was a pity that kee and esther couldn't join us, and of course mr ryan tan was not home either...but we managed to have a good time without him. everytime i come back to this place, and spend time with these people, it really truly feels like coming home -- to think that after all this time it still feels like being back in college together, only we're older, wiser [maybe!], and more appreciative of the friendship that we share now that we know what it feels like not to be together in time and space.

it was great to catch up with mr R and mr E and find out what they've been doing with regard to the Raffles Through Train, which is in the process of being created. in particular, mr E's description of the philosophy class that the kids will be doing -- i have my doubts abt making 16yrolds read Kant and Marx. while i stand firm in my opinion that reading the primary source, the original document, is the only way to go, i'm not sure that at 16 years of age the mind is ready to deal with the complexities and just sheet obstinacy of Kant's and Marx's language -- they write like the german philosophers they are, it's terrifying and exhausting! but exhilarating when you finally understand.

but yes. spending time with my old friends from A01A was definitely the highlight of my day -- though alex being home is a close second =) -- because i haven't seen them in so long, and it feels so right to be back together again. yay. i love you guys =)

time for bed, and to nurse the crazy blisters on both feet resulting from vanity combined with new shoes from Charles and Keith. there exists a positive relationship between the prettiness of the shoe, and the amount of pain said pretty shoe inflicts on poor defenceless foot. Charlie's Angels II tomorrow!



Thursday, July 03, 2003

nothing i do right now seems to ease the headache that i started a few hours ago -swearing profusely under breath at stupidstupid wisdom tooth which is causing said headache, along with heat- so this will be brief and irritable.

(1) Tim Henman is losing his quarterfinal to Grosjean, though it has been repeatedly interrupted by the English weather. while impressed by the nimbleness of the rain squad in protecting the courts from being drenched, am less than impressed by Henman's standard of play. cannot help but continue to support him though, because unlike my mother, who only wants to support winners, i pick a side and stick with it. and the spirit the home crowd is showing at Centre Court is amazing.

(2) finally finished A Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami. all i can say is that at the end of every murakami novel i feel like i need a stiff drink -- i think there's a terry pratchett novel in which this line, or some approximation thereof, exists: life makes more sense through the bottom of a glass of alcohol. yeah. same idea. after a bout of Murakami, i think i need some alcohol in my blood to convince me that this world might actually have some sort of meaning. i still love Murakami though.

(3) i came across this in an old journal --eun, it's the purple book, i was rereading it: how were we ever that young? -- :

Miles Away

I want you and you are not here. I pause
in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
before language into still air. Even your name
is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
than the words I have you say you said before.

wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong
but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away.
inventing love, until the calls of the nightjars
interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain
into memory. The stars are filling us for no one.
-- Carol Ann Duffy




Wednesday, July 02, 2003

go to Harry's at the Esplanade while you're home, ye who are jazz-and-blues fans, you will not regret it. UBlues's lead singer is not much to look at, but when he opens his mouth and plays his guitar, and you close your eyes [or sit with your back to him, as i was], you can fall in love. the smoothest, mellowest male voice accompanied by lovely driving electric guitar and bass and drums. very competent playing, very bad drinks -- you're paying for the privilege of listening to relatively decent music by drinking really bad cocktails with very little alcohol in them. it's a good environment though, and if you get cold or bored, you can always move outside and stare at the lights of One Fullerton across the water, or take a short walk along the riverside -- the band can be heard for quite a ways since the door of Harry's is open.

i think it's so funny that many a time, i've encountered guys with Voices, but i have to listen to them with my eyes closed, else i am distracted by the niggling question in my mind: how is that unprepossessing body producing That Voice? where is it COMING from? it's so bizarre, it's almost beyond belief. far easier to close my eyes and fall in love in my mind...

2A01A 2000: mr R is making time for us between 1100 and 1200 on thursday morning; be there or be square. he's marking common tests this week, but he says that he can certainly make time of us 'old friends'. =)

time for me to be abed -- the specialist investigages my brother's shoulder injury in the morning. wish us luck.

If I love you,
Will you give me your heart,
faithful and true?
If I love you,
Will you truly love me too?


Tuesday, July 01, 2003

i was walking along, minding my business
when out of the corner of my eye
wham, bam, alakazam,
wonderful you came by

i was humming a tune, drinking in sunshine
when out of the orange-coloured view
flash, bam, alakazam,
i got a look at you

one look and i yelled 'timber!
watching out for flying glass'
'cos the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out
i went into a spin and i started to shout
'i've been hit, this is it, this is it!'

i was walking along, minding my business
when love came and hit me in the eye
flash, bam, alakazam
out of an orange coloured sky