Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011

because you don't love me back

Friday, February 18, 2011

Rosemary Chicken Sandwich

I didn't know what I felt anymore. The strain of watching him fall apart left me numb, and by the third week of August I was walking around in a trance. The only thing that mattered to me at that point was to keep up an impassive front. No tears, no bouts of despair, no lapses of will. I exuded hope and confidence, but inwardly I must have known how impossible the situation really was. This was not brought home to me until the very end, however, and I learned it only in the most roundabout way. I had gone into a diner for a late-night supper. One of the specials that evening happened to be chicken pot pie, a dish I had not eaten since I was a small boy, perhaps not since the days when I was still living with my mother. The moment I read those words on the menu, I knew that no other food would do for me that night. I gave my order to the waitress, and for the next three or four minutes I sat there remembering the apartment in Boston where my mother and I had lived, seeing for the first time in years the tiny kitchen table where the two of us had eaten our meals together. Then the waitress came back and told me they were out of chicken pot pies. It was nothing at all, of course. In the large scheme of things, it was a mere speck of dust, an infinitesimal crumb of antimatter, and yet I suddenly felt as though the roof had caved in on me. There were no more chicken pot pies. If someone had told me an earthquake had just killed twenty thousand people in California, I would not have been more upset than I was at that moment. I actually felt tears forming in my eyes, and it was only then, sitting in that diner and wrestling with my disappointment, that I understood how fragile my world had become. The egg was slipping through my fingers, and sooner or later it was bound to drop.

-Moon Palace, Paul Auster

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

words that came at 2:03PM

she caught too many fish
the fish that she caught swam away
she dropped her net into the water
everyone caught fish except her

Sunday, November 14, 2010

the day was celebrated with a new toothbrush
and a toilet bowl choked with tissue paper.

back to the old of sleeping in the living room with slow films running.
staring into empty spaces, we do not die.

along the way, we forget how to.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I feel certain that I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier ‘til this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that — everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer. I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.

-Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thanks to Operation Memory, each of us woke up in a different bed
Or coffin, with a different partner beside him, in the middle
Of a war that had never been declared. No one had time to load
His weapon or see to any of the dozen essential jobs
Preceding combat duty. And there I was, dodging bullets, merely one
In a million whose lucky number had come up. When

It happened, I was asleep in bed, and when I woke up,
It was over: I was 38, on the brink of middle age,
A succession of stupid jobs behind me, a loaded gun on my lap.

Excerpt from Operation Memory, David Lehman

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

She Thinks of Him on Her Birthday

It's still winter,
and still I don't know you
anymore, and you don't know

me. But this morning I stand
in the kitchen with the illusion,
peeling a clementine. Each piece

snaps like the nickname for a girl,
the tinny bite it was
to be one once. Again I count

your daughters and find myself in the middle,
the waist of the hourglass,
endlessly passed through and passed through

but holding nothing, dismayed
by the grubby February sun
I was born under and the cheap pleasure

it gives the window. Yet I raise the shade
for it, and try not to feel it is wrong
to want spring, to be a season

further from you -- not wrong to wish
for a hard rain, a hard wind
like one we sat out in together
or came in from together.

-Deborah Garrison

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

When it comes to having faith and hope, there must be no compromise.

The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty.
-Anne Lamott

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Where you are, right here and now, this is how bad stories end. But it's also how the best stories, begin.

Saturday, September 04, 2010


You are the water that goes with my pills, the peeled prawns, the McMuffins sitting on the dining table, the long legs I can hardly keep up with, the hollowed back-view,

Thursday, June 24, 2010


23 December 2009


Sitting by the library window, I wonder if writing can really keep me in touch with my feelings. How does the act of writing cross over from being a source of affliction to being a form of exorcism which is still not exactly a happy ending? This limited piece of writing skimmed over my mind, and only half-succeeds in presenting the surface residue. Feelings can be so hard to bear with, and it is a constant struggle to stumble from one day to the next. Sometimes I think there must be absolutely nothing in me that is basic or strong enough to carry on and an internal suicide occurs, episode after episode - something in me shuts down heavily.

Yesterday I was here too, and it was pouring through the clear glass pane. The panicking mynahs were swooping around in wild circles, trapped in a flurry of madness and not seeing the infinity of the sky that wraps them. It was frustratingly beautiful to watch, so much that I just had to take my eyes, and myself away from this window scene. So that I would not be possessed by a clutching fervor to break my head against the glass.

I had a thought: encircle the heart, never let it break. The heart should be circle-shaped, it will then keep running and never lose its tail. Somewhere along the way I must have forgotten how to write and how to love properly, with fears, without metaphors. Was it because of what you said -smiling wryly-, and in that chance I knew you would never understand my metaphors, even when they are built upon you and your hopelessly careless brick-foundation. Chips, knocks and scratches only add to the attraction.

Sinking amidst reports that are necessary due, to seek more urgent funding, writing has now become or had long became a necessary self-denial- a cooking up of a storm and punchy phrases for a meal that I myself have never attended. I am polishing utensils nervously and biting half-moon fingernails, having to think that my dishes will become convincingly real once I specify the right ingredients. Of believing that it is real when it is not yet real, so that it can then become real.

My dreams dissolve with this stirring of rain, the crashing flight of delirious mynahs, strictly heart-shaped hearts, __________________. Please stop tearing and start living. Is loneliness a feeling you get from other people? Is this thought already a sign of weakness? Even that assumes that loneliness is weakness, but who sets it that way?

Wake up, chin up.

I received the first in the mail

March 2010


I wonder where you are now, as you are reading this. 'What did you do today?' Many of them will always ask what you are doing, and are more concerned with the things that happened to you on the outside rather than the things that happen inside. Did you stumble through your door into the security of your impossibly messy room, only to find an envelope laid out on an unused surface which is hard to come by in this middle of these clutter. Will you remember the afternoon you had, putting up frames on the wall, and trying to work out an unbeatable combination of frames? There is no turning back once the holes are drilled, no room for regret in this squashed place with small walls. And when you are halfway through and sitting on your mattress, looking around, what should call then, but Mr Void knocking lightly at the door of your soul. Or more specifically, at the empty door frame of your soul?

Wait, and who decides that there shouldn't be a door; the few-minutes-ago self who wrote that very sentence and pinned it into an unchangeable ink and white-background reality, the self who sat there aching at the frames not yet up but supposedly secured with set-up spots of blankness on the walls, or the self who clings on impossibly tight to that bit breath of Destiny who is uncontrollable, and dishes out lemons and downpours to beings all around the globe?

To have pretty things, but not feel pretty. To be surrounded by what is called art and other clever designs, but left to drown in deepening pools of miscellaneous souls or someone's pocket that is filled with scarred stones. To have this warm corner to call your own, and to be washed away by a draft of lemon rain.

Of all the cards in this series, horrid-looking as they frankly are, I still believe they deserve to be mailed out and unwrapped by earnest fingers. This slogan on the front echoes deep, as deep as a coin that could not audibly stir the bottom of a well. A well in a forest that nobody knows of, that has trees that never grow old and do not not say a word. They merely ruffle their branches over your head and let one of their own green drift downwards to the feet, but not before capitalizing on this 'frozen in mid air' moment. A fishing line has been spun outwards, holding all things together, suspending this half-awake heart that is finally heading to a new place and choosing to not know that it is a breath closer to numbered days - one, second, next, a crinkle and a goodbye unsaid. Though you have already touched my toe once, for the first time.

It was yet another Sunday afternoon across the car-park shrouded in sunlight, and into her car. "This is a sad song," she says as it starts playing on the radio. Ahead of us, a single brown leaf happens to lose its footing and to tumble down from the same place it has been for its entire lifetime. The wind teases, as the leaf now dives to its death in play-pause-play stages, not unlike the stages we undergo in life. It is a pause for me right here, right now and it falls with silent bravado that arrests my self, which is sitting in that metal but transparent vehicle (I can be sprawled across the road watching the leaf, in another version) and another self is clenching my sides and not breathing, watching it die.

For in dying, it lived beautifully.

"Remember that."


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dearest D,

I begin writing this not knowing what to say, but these words would tumble out of themselves as this pen staggers forward. Here I am, seated at the wooden dining table where I have spent many a rainy afternoon, and there you are, in an opposite time zone, softly stealing my nights when I am soaking and rinsing the sun in my sink. That is what I do when I step into the apartment, after dark and slipping myself out of my shoes, letting my eyes fall halfway- I wet those worn clothes, gather soapsuds and dip them once, twice and again in the running water. The toilet holds itself still, and breathes most quietly and respectfully as I go about my washing.

The air there must feel very different, though perhaps it is so only because we think it in our mind. Look for something there, a job, and stay on if you can. Sometimes this can be easier when it is unplanned for. Then, there will be no expiry dates or ink circles on the wall calendar. There will be no casual waiting for someone who has left to return, only to most definitely, leave again - one departure is enough, and so are the replays in the cogwheels of our memory. Which is worse or which is better - leaving or being left behind? The airport is divided into two sides, the cold and the colder. The massive glass panel that divides these two countries stays the warmest itself, and the panting hands on it bleeds some of the warmth as they perform a final goodbye, waving and then resting on the vulnerably naked yet sturdy surface. I do not mean to sound melancholic or morbid, I am putting this across very matter-of-factly, like how someone would announce to the kitchen that we've run out of eggs or that the water is boiling and the fire should be shut down. There is no need for breaking into dispute, no bubbling of internal turmoil.

I believe that you will take good care of yourself, and enjoy these stolen moments away from our occasionally heartbreaking city.
L you.

There are fortune cookie messages written and wrapped for you, or yous;

1. For the curious geographer in you, the traveling cafe singer.
2. For the woman in you, the serious tea-drinking woman.
3. For the sometimes sad soul, not in you. When there is no nearby Cedele.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Consider these 2 stories. Which is closer to yours?

You wake up everyday and work from Monday to Friday, and often, Saturday too. If you finish work early, you and your partner go to your parents’ place for dinner and see your child for a few hours. If you work late, you buy a packet of char kway teow from the hawker centre but eat it at home because it’s too warm to eat there. You’re not crazy about the job but you know that if you keep at it, you can afford a car in 3 years’ time, and in 5 years’ time, buy a condo close to the primary school you want to send your kid to. Your conversations with people are either for the purpose of networking, work, or for familial obligations you cannot avoid. On weekends, you play golf with your friends at your country club or watch a movie with your partner. Once a year, you go on a ten day vacation to New York, London, or Paris, and when your children are big enough, Disneyland.

Alternatively, you wake up and you have no idea what is going to happen today, tomorrow, 6 months or a year later. Ironically, because of this uncertainty, all possibilities exist for you. You can be the Prime Minister of Singapore, you can make a movie, you can cook a meal you have never cooked before, eat at a place you have never eaten before, you can color your hair red, you can skip instead of walk, you can volunteer at the school you have always wanted to volunteer at, you can write a book, or you can have a baby even though you don’t have a maid. You have conversations with people who set your heart palpitating and your mind on fire. Your weekday is not so different from your weekend because everyday you are thinking, creating, and more important, imagining.

Full text here:
Paved With Good Intentions, by Colin Goh and Woo Yen Yen

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

God is the God of the unsuccessful- the God of those who have failed. Heaven is being filled with earth's broken lives, and there is no "bruised reed" (Isa 42:3) that Christ cannot take and restore to a glorious place of blessing and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain or sorrow and make it a harp whose music will be total praise. He can lift earth's saddest failure up to heaven's glory.

J. R. Miller, Streams in the Desert

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"You were much more muchier (then)...You've lost your muchness."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Here with a desktop telephone, a glass of water, two cellphones, a journal, a laptop, headphones and a pencil- I have everything I need to keep me here, but nothing at all.

Something is too still, too stagnant.

Until the touch of raindrops on flesh, I have forgotten that I have a window behind me. It started pouring without warning and I leave my wooden table, feet clambering all over the floor, to shut the windows shut the windows. And to let in the rain. Back at the table with the objects laid out, strangely senile and oddly smiling, I realize I have now nothing but something in all, something small in a seed.

Sunset Way in late 2009, twilight

Friday, February 19, 2010

Malacca, October 25th 2009

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day.  Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

One Art
, Elizabeth Bishop

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The quiet fear, that came nearer to the surface now as she scanned the pages- she was in the "Salads" section- was that this thing, this refusal of her mouth to eat, was malignant; that it would spread; that slowly the circle now dividing the non-devourable from the devourable world become smaller and smaller, that the objects available to her would be excluded one by one.
-The Edible Woman, Margaret Atwood

Sunday, February 07, 2010

You're the first, the last and the 'right now'.

Friday, February 05, 2010

and she is utterly convinced that everything she touches turns into dust
we talked about you, we doubled the dosage.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

carries a lot of suitcases but all of them are empty because she's expecting to completely fill them with life by the end of this trip & then she'll come home & sort everything out & do it all again
How many people can you love before it's too much? she said & I said I didn't think there was any real limit as long as you didn't care if they loved you back.

lift yourself up

It is heartbreaking to listen to a child crying over the phone for an hour. Instead of feeling sad and helpless about it, what could have been done? What is the best that can come out of a situation as such? It is always about the doing, the stuff you got to strut, there is no feeling. The blues are bad. If it is negative energy, it must be swept under the rug.
Even this is a feeling that should be deleted.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

We were poor, struggling. Climbing walls that fall, stirring buckets of paint with chopsticks. Surely someday we will see that we were having the time of our lives, and all the ladders we had, had only taken us higher.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
'Pooh?' he whispered.
'Yes, Piglet?'
'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. 'I just wanted to be sure of you.'

Monday, November 09, 2009

It is strange. The unreality of it seems to enter one's real life, penetrate into the bones, and make the very heartbeats pulsate illusions through the arteries. One's will becomes the slave of hallucinations, responds only to shadowy impulses, waits on imagination alone. A strange state, a trying experience, a kind of fiery trial of untruthfulness. And one goes through it with an exaltation as false as all the rest of it. One goes through it, -- and there's nothing to show at the end. Nothing! Nothing! Nothing!

-- Joseph Conrad, "To E. L. Sanderson" ( 1899 )2

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Sunday, October 11, 2009

If you turn up tonight, my life will not change.
If you don't turn up tonight, my life will not change.