Friday, February 18, 2011
-Moon Palace, Paul Auster
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
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.
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
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.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Saturday, September 04, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
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 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.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
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.
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
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
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
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.
Friday, February 19, 2010
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
Friday, February 05, 2010
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Even this is a feeling that should be deleted.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
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