Friday, December 28, 2007

Merry Christmas Virginia!

So Christmas came and went. There were presents but we seem to have spent most of it comatose. Three nights in a row of going to bed at four in the morning takes its toll. We didn't even have the traditional Christmas present-unwrapping ceremony after midnight (which is like, my favourite thing about Christmas) because an uncle wished himself upon us and proceeded to raise holy hell when one of us insulted Singapore.

By three Julie was nodding at the table, Dadda was upstairs asleep, Mums was so tired she nearly passed out, and we sent said uncle and his two bratty kids back to their hotel.

As if one night of him wasn't enough, said uncle called the next day and invited us out to lunch. Note: Mummy's Christmas lunch is like my second favourite part of Christmas. He said Mums would be too tired to cook (she was) so why not eat out.

They all agreed and I went upstairs to catch some shut-eye, begging off. I was too tired to go and make nice at some stupid restaurant, pretending like I was having a good time. Mum woke me up to tell me to feed the dogs before she left.

So I made my way downstairs, cooked up what I thought of as a feast for the doggies and just chilled in the empty house, listening to Esther's present of plinky music which she said she hoped would "calm me down". I gave her crystal balls arranged in the Star of David, for good feng shui. She will put it on her desk, and hopefully it will give her good vibes for the year ahead.

Yesterday, I followed Mums and Chubs to go do a whole bunch of errands - fixing broken stuff (like my car) and repairing my broken gold chain. I also bought 11 DVDs (at five bucks a piece) and so far, only one is not working properly. When I went to the DVD shop to change it, the guy told me that the "Operasi" flers had been there and he could not replace broken DVD. But that was OK. He would have new stock in two days or so. The resilience of crooks is amazing. Almost as amazing as the resilience of those like me who support these crooks with my custom.

I watched a whole bunch of DVDs last night. (OK, four, but if the broken one had been working, it would been five) When Nietzche Wept was a surprise. I hadn't even heard of it, and there it was, this sort of brilliant movie with Armand Assante and Ben Cross.

We are more in love with the feeling of desire, of passion, than the object of desire...Yes. It's about the feeling of love and loss and helplessness and falling down the rabbit hole isn't it? Most times the objects of our desire are merely projections, not real in themselves - come to think of it, that was what Stardust was about, wasn't it? I also watched Stardust, cos Anita recommended it. And yes, I did like it.

The Perfect Holiday was a little two dimensional - the good guy being too good and the bad guy being too noxious. I also watched Uptown Girls which funnily enough, I found unbearably tragic. As it was my second time watching it, this time around, I noticed what sad heartbroken eyes, the main character, the supposedly fancy-free party girl, had.

I'm reading Black, White and Jewish by Rebecca Walker now, which is seriously good. But then, what could Alice Walker's daughter be, if not a good writer?

Coffee Bean again. It's crowded and there are a bunch of kids near me on their red Dell laptop. The automatic door keeps opening and closing. I'm part of the madding crowd and yet apart from it.

You know how it is.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I'm reading Marya Hornbacher's Wasted which is ostensibly about her eating disorder, but really, it's about her resolve to disappear, to achieve a state of non-being, which may be the opposite of Zen, but then, I wouldn't know. I throw the word Zen around without being fully aware of it's meaning or implications. Maybe not the book I should be reading now.

I'm writing this at the local Coffee Bean, the house being short one internet connection. Chubster will look at it sometime or other. At the moment, you can only get on the computer to play Mahjong, only to be unseated by the Big M who is a Mahjong fanatic who says, get up Jenny, let me play, aiya let me playlar, then I'll take a nap.

Only she doesn't. She gets lost in the game for hours, racking up high scores, while I creep upstairs to her bed, swathed in the womblike silence and fall. Asleep? Into a torpor? Who knows. The house smells of turpentine as an old man with a face like crushed brown paper instals the new kitchen door. He is painting it.

Yesterday, Dadda painted the kitchen. Today he is exhausted.

Mums asked, "John, do you want me to buy you jeans for Christmas?"

He says: "No, I want Jackie home for Christmas."

Mums says: "I thought I was the only one who missed Jackie. It's not the same when there's one of us missing."

He says: "You should tell her she must come back every year for Christmas."

And I say: "Look, the only reason she isn't coming back this year is cos she's coming in April."

They turn away sour-faced, missing their daughter. It's true though. Christmas isn't Christmas when there's one of us missing. It's just something to get through. The tree isn't up. The presents aren't wrapped. The cakes aren't baked. (I know I was supposed to and I have even bought all the ingredients, but what with all that paint, turpentine and chaos in the kitchen, I kinda can't)

We had breakfast at Kerala Restaurant this morning, the lovely pal appam and roti canai with mutton curry but Dadda complained the service was too slow. I didn't think even he could find fault with Kerala Restaurant. But evidently I underestimated him.

On my birthday, Jules took us to a trendy new place in Section 11 owned by these two photographers. Dadda went through the usual motions. First he looked at the menu with disgust, thumbing through it and exclaiming at the prices. Then, he tried to order beer (it's owned by Muslims which means no alcohol). Then he asked Jules in an audible whisper whether these people would be capable of making any of these steaks. When I saw the smoke finally emerge from young Julie's ears, I started to laugh. She asked him: Why do you always do this? I answered: Look, if he didn't do this, it wouldn't be him and what would I have to write about in the chronicles of my crazy family? Julie replied: That is not necessarily a good thing. But she calmed down.

I've already given my difficult father his Christmas present - a 29-inch television set. He didn't like it. Mainly because it unseated his 14-inch television set, which, although it was too small for the hall, was in perfectly good working condition! I came down to breakfast yesterday to hear him complain to Mums and the Chubster about it.

When I told Jacks this, she said consolingly that at least he hadn't tried to give it away the way he did Julie's present of teacups. Although I share the same premises as those two eccentric beings, I hadn't heard the story. Jackie kindly enlightened me.

It seems that my father had been bellyaching for years about getting new teacups (all but two of the old teacups had been smashed over the past 14 years). Julie finally forked out for a funky set but when she brought them home, my dear old dad, as is his wont, went ballistic.

Apparently these cups were too BIG. If we served tea in them guests would "drink us out of house and home". Julie filled one of the old cups with water and poured it into one of the new cups. It only required about a millimetre more of water. She tried to point this out to Stubborn but he was adamant and gave said cups away at the first available opportunity to his nephew for his housewarming.

Things that make you go hmmmm. I said, if he dared to do that with the tv, he would have been looking at the business end of a hissy fit. We laughed and pondered the mystery that was our father and his determination to never be happy with anything anyone could give him or treat him to, no matter how nice or expensive or fancy.

I wonder if it runs in the family.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

As I Walked Out One Mid-Winter's Day

I've been going through this slow process of defamiliarisation, creating new patterns, mostly to do with alcohol. And inebriation. The world seems slightly off centre as I stumble around coming off a high, looking for the next...the next fix, the next fix, anything to stave off today, anything to stop from feeling like this.

Mornings, I sleep off nights of red wine
Nights, I go out of my mind...

I don't feel bad most times. In fact, I don't feel anything. But then these feelings spring out of nowhere (not nowhere, the cold dark centre of my being that for the most remains hidden, protected, buried under layers of denial) and I double over gasping, reaching for that brandy, that wine, anything, just anything...oh fuck, does it have to hurt like this?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Treading Water

It sometimes happens that suddenly the oxygen is extinguished and you find yourself gasping for breath wondering whether you can make it to tomorrow, whether it is worth making it to tomorrow.

In Man's Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl went around the concentration camp working on those who had given up, by trying to help them discover their one reason to live.

Everyone has one.

But what happens if you can't remember and you're so fucking tired of it all?

You put up a suicide note on Facebook. Give yourself a month to say goodbye to everyone. Try and figure out how you can do it, to make it look like an accident. Resist crashing your car into another on the long, dark would be so easy, so easy...

A voice on the line, filled with warmth and love and hope, reaching across the miles and the anonymity.

Thank you.

A trip to Backyard to listen to Mark play (he always cheers me up), getting pawed at by an Indian drunk whose wife left him (so, what else is new) in the process. Four brandies and the inevitable drying out, the hangover.

The sadness, the spiralling out of control, the knees-to-the-chest ragged sobs, huddled in the front seat of my car, in some anonymous car park. The wondering about ways and means, what tools, rather than why build.

The Alice-down-the-rabbithole descent.

And then, and then, and then...yes, you can take your leave, yes, you can go somewhere regain your soul, yes, yes, yes...

So here I sit, trying to decipher an insurance policy document as my eyes give out and my brain shuts off. I've finished writing out nearly all my Christmas cards and even sent out a batch.

And I wonder where I'll go.

I need to disappear.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Ballad of the Sad Freeloader

I knew she had been staying with Mum for way longer than she was supposed to, but other than tentative inquiries from my siblings: "Hey, is that girl still there?" I wasn't aware of anything untoward. Mum never mentioned her. I hardly saw Julie as we led our own separate frenetic existences, coming home to crash and then up in the morning for another round of madness.

Then my birthday happened and everything had to slow down. Mum called. Siblings called. Julie took me out for lunch. And somewhere during all this I learned of the freeloader and the extent of the nuisance she had made of herself in our house.

She came for a weekend. She stayed for a month. In that month, she left of trail of snotty Kleenexes in her wake. All over the house. In that month, she expected my mother to wake up at 6 every morning to send her to the hospital (she's doing her housemanship) and pick her up. She expected my brother to do this as well, but Chubs got fed up and in a typical Jacobs response, stopped talking to her or answering the phone when she called:

"Auntie," she wailed. "Auntie! I can't get a taxi." If she had just stayed in the quarters the hospital provided, a taxi would not be a problem. But a determined freeloader will freeload for as long as she can.

"I'm leaving this weekend," she said, every weekend since she came. Then the weekend would arrive and she would make "donno". As in act stupid. Or oblivious. As in not move out for another week.

When Chubs told me she was making Mum drive her around, I was livid. As the information sunk in and started to curdle I could feel the rage rise in my throat. If my family was "too nice" to do anything, it would devolve on the family thug (i.e. me) to take matters in hand.

I called to tell my brother that I was coming back to JB next weekend to "help" this girl, a second cousin, move out.

A second cousin I hardly knew. I remember her as a very thoughtless kid who cheerfully destroyed other people's property. The only things that came to mind when her name was mentioned were "stupid" and "spoilt". To think of this stranger squatting in our house and driving up my mother's blood pressure (only her children are allowed to do that) was more than I could stomach.

Oh, I would be polite. But there would be no room to negotiate. She could either accept the lift, or she could have her things thrown out and the gates locked on her when she came home.

Mum found out I was coming. At first she thought I was coming to collect my present. When she learned of my true purpose, she was distraught. Yes, in coming to get rid of this nuisance I was just upsetting Mums further. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

In typical Malaysian fashion, Mum didn't want a confrontation. I said there wouldn't be one.

"Why are you coming back?"

"To kick that bitch out of MY house!"

"Aiya Jenny, don'tlar, she will go by herself."

"I don't trust you. You have been saying that for a month now. She won't go unless you kick her out. You're not gonna. So I will."

As I was driving back to JB (I was sleepy and took my time so it took me all of five hours) I wondered about the perfect outcome. I didn't really want to fight. I wanted it to be all solved when I got there so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Then I could concentrate on my wonderful birthday present and having a good time and being spoiled rotten.

There was no question of being merciful and just allowing her to stay. Some people are users and they walk all over you if you let them. And the longer they're there, the harder they are to dislodge. As Jules pointed out, it was not like she had no place to go.

When I pulled up outside the house, Mom came out grinning and opened the gate for me. She moved the dogs as I negotiated the car in. Then she gave me a big hug and wished me a belated happy birthday.

Inside, the Chubster was on his Xbox.

There was no third person present. The room she had been occupying was in darkness.

Chubs glanced at me: "You don't have a job."

I wondered briefly whether my boss had called to complain about me and tell my mother that I was now jobless.

No, that was not what he meant.

Apparently, the Mums, had finally cleared out the pest. And she had gone kicking screaming, a nuisance till the last. She made Mum drive her to her new quarters. And wait there 30 minutes where some poor doctor or other came to help her move. Apparently the fairy princess was above carrying her own luggage.

"Why didn't you just ask her to unload the car so you could leave?"

Mum sighed. "Anyway there was nice music on the radio."

All of which meant that I didn't have to kick anyone out. How delightful. Like my new Nokia 6500.

And I woke today to nice fresh appam and roti canai at Kerala Restaurant. Then it was a trip to Pasar Tani (Mums moved tentatively towards the orchids but resisted). Ivan stayed in the car and played one of the games on my phone. I traipsed after Mum carrying stuff.

We got home and I fell fast asleep while Mum made a really nice lunch.

Everything is so...peaceful.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

In A Song

No dinner, a cup of tea and then one brandy.

And now I feel ineffable. It must mean something but since the music is swimming around this room and illuminating corners with Schopenhaeur who begs me to inquire further, I cannot tell you, no I cannot, what it all means.

A single teardrop seems to crystallize this experience into something real, something tangible, something that feels like hell...

And I am slightly inebriated but not too much. I drove home through quiet streets, avoided the cavorting animals, stopped at traffic lights, listened to Stylistics and breathed deeply and imagined pearly moonlight spread out like a picnic blanket in front of me.

It makes sense.

It doesn't have to.

And I know you're listening and I know you're laughing and I know you think I belong under twisted sheets and I know, I know, I know...

Everytime I tried to tell you the words just came out wrong
so I have to say I love you in a song....

Monday, November 26, 2007

When All I Can Imagine Are Hands

I skipped over to the rest room just in time to hear the deejay announce - Happy Birthday to Jennifer...oops, she has gone to the rest room, why did she have to do that now?

I was at the Attic with Mary and Addy. We had opened a bottle of Annie's Lane. It was not humming (people were staying at home, all set for the trouble of the day to come) and the lights were muted, as was the conversation.

People swirled in and out as Annie's Lane trickled into my veins and made itself felt (incidentally, I managed to get a stash. A guy from some wine cellar-type shop just called to ask me how many bottles I want - he is selling it at less than half the price - woo hoo!).

I dug into my bag for a book of Irish poetry and made Addy and Mary listen as I declaimed at the top of my voice - let everything that is to fall, fall, beginning with tired love.

Addy liked the poem but Mary was all for something less depressing, so I recited The Olympians (at the back of my mind, those words continued to resound ...because you are not here this dishevelled bed holds no dreams)

Mum called just before midnight. Then Jackie and Simon. Then Julie. (The family except for the Chubster and the Dadda-man, basically)

And Jairus smiled at me from across the smoke and held out his hand.

Come dance with me.

So I did.

And I closed my eyes and laid my head on his chest, listening to the steady beat of his now-still heart.

The smoke cleared. Mary was smiling. Addy was laughing. I was reading a poem about Lobsang's last wish.

And somewhere behind me, Jairus gave a little wave and moved out into the whiteness.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Birthday Message

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him," said Tweedledum, "when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

"I am real!" said Alice and began to cry.

"You won't make yourself a bit realer by crying," Tweedledee remarked: "there's nothing to cry about."

"If I wasn't real," Alice said - half laughing through her tears it all seemed so ridiculous - "I shouldn't be able to cry."

"I hope you don't think those are real tears?" Tweedledee interrupted in a tone of great contempt.

-Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Which seems a particularly apposite (if not slightly depressing) way of beginning my birthday message. I don't know why with each succeeding year I seem to acquire less density, but there it is. I hear my voice disappearing into the silence:

Green, how I want you green!

I am a lover of uncontained spaces.

I stand three feet from my body and I have ceased to listen. What is it saying? This pageant around me, Christmas lights, fake holly, plastic evergreens, mustard-coloured lightbulbs, styrofoam snowmen - I turn away.

And a friend confides in me her hopes, her dreams, it's all so very real, it's all blood and guts and moisture.

I turn away.

And I force myself to concentrate on this document I am simplifying. It's all so real. And I am three feet from my body.

So, I turn away.

And I read about how this girl tried to shrink herself into nothing to try and gain some measure of control in her life. She was three feet from her body, existing in some alternate reality, wondering, wandering, somewhere. She turned away.

All of which amounts to nothing. So, in keeping with the momentous occasion...of turning 36 and not really caring that I'm turning 36 and wondering if it's me or if the world has become so terribly old and dusty and devoid of dreams:

Joy to the world,
all you boys and girls
joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
joy to you and me.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Angel that Wasn't

I'm going to have to start doing something about these mood swings...impossible highs (so high I get a frigging headache), Mariana Gorge lows, then highs, then lows, then two glasses of Cognac, then to sleep, perchance to dream, then to wake up and make my zombified way through a management meeting - then not listening, not caring, then listening, but not has got to stop!

I learned something today which I should have guessed but which was like a stab in the gut anyway.

And my friend Sree commenting wryly on my latest status update ala Whitman (to die is different from what anyone supposes, and luckier) sent me an inbox message to whit, I am the queen of goths...there is a winter within me, a place so cold, so covered in snow, I hardly ever go there.

Yes, indubitably.

Sadder but never wiser.

Why is that?

And what I really really should be doing right now is uploading pictures from our event onto my boss' blog with funny, quirky captions. Except that I don't feel particularly humorous at the moment. Thank God, Zafrul in his infinite wisdom (and dorkiness) has taken the photo CD and gone off somewhere. He is not due back anytime soon. In fact, I think he's going overseas. When I texted to ask him, he said, oh shit, yes. And when I asked if I could come out to meet him and take it off him, he didn't answer. Probably stuck in some ponderous highly important top secret meeting. Whatever. Not in the mood.

I think I shall take myself off. I need a drink. But I'm still hungover from last night.

When I fuck up, I really fuck up.

Later for you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Will You Love Me Tomorrow?

OK, I'm in the office, listening to Carole King (could you tell?) on the iPod and updating cos my friend Addy went to check my blog and to her dismay, there was no update. Naughty Jenny, naughty, naughty! OK, I smacked my own wrist.

I'm in kind of a high mood at the moment (even rejection can't faze me and I've received all of two today) because I'll be going to Backyard tonight and Mark is playing. Yay! (When I get obsessed, I get obsessed - and Addy asked me what's with the Mark theme in my life and I said, I really don't know, coincidence is all)

Anyways, I was feeling pretty down yesterday. One of those "pale shade of azure" days. I forced myself to put one foot in front of the other and feigned enthusiasm when we received such good coverage for the almighty launch of our Tune Card. It was sorta anti-climatic. I don't know...

The boss was all smiles and cheeky grins as he checked out his blog and comments etc. He was pleased with coverage - but then he's received so much of late that he's beginning to take it as a matter of course. As I've told him so often before, he doesn't need a PR. Just someone to field the requests from the press and pick out the best ones.

My friend Terence called and asked for help. So now, I'm his business development manager, his marketing manager, his press consultant - he said, just call it drinking buddy and have done with it. Luckily I love Terence, so none of this is a problem.

Baby, baby, baby, I got so much love in me...

Now for the launch. It went off with a bang. Literally. I was xeroxing press releases and the boss' speech at about noon (thing was due to start at 2.30 - I am nothing if not last minute). My hands were a blur, stapling sheets together, shoving them into very inconveniently built press kit cases and Nadia, my very own Din Din who was about to make her way to the KL Convention Centre noticed my set expression and my evidently increasing panic. She strolled over languidly (that one is a model, she is) and offered to help. Then Denise came over and offered to help. Also Mor Nee. All in all I had three helpers and we got press kits stuffed pronto. All one hundred of them because lots of non-press people, i.e. the other guests, have this bad habit of collaring the press kit.

I struggled carrying all hundred press kits (the iPod is now playing James Taylor's You Got A Friend) to the car, and then rushed to pick up Ambikah, from Tune Hotel, which was on the way. Poor thing. She's pretty high up in the ranks and what did she end up doing but carrying half the press kits for me as we staggered from the KLCC where I parked to the convention centre (kinda far and our arms were all but falling out of their sockets).

The boss wanted to do one practice with the animation (when he speaks pictures appear on the big screen behind him) and he gave this hilarious speech that we were rolling in the aisles. I begged him to give it like that and he said, you mad ah? I'll be killed!

We didn't have time for lunch what with the arrival of guests (they started trickling in sometime around 2.15 and swelled enormously by 3 when the event was due to start. One thing about Tune Money, we tend to start on time, which I love. Also, our events are well attended because my boss Zafrul has this habit of inviting everybody and I mean EVERYBODY on every single mailing list he happens to be on. He SMS-es everyone on his phone (and he has at least a few hundred names there), everyone on his Facebook network (as well as those who are not on his network), everyone on his email address book. (OK you get the picture)

Considering that he invites a thousand people at least, it was amusing to see creepy bald Indian guy (of the rude SMS fame) sign up at the guest book and ask rather pompously, "where do Zafrul's friends sit?" expecting to be assigned a VIP seat. He looked up to see me watching and appeared to start in surprise. Well, fancy seeing you here. (Yeah, fancy, I just happen to work at Tune Money, I mean, big surprise, right?).

Anyways, the guests were seated by five to three, the VIPS marched in a little after and the event started bang on the dot. It was really cool. Everything was RED and the boss went up and gave a rollicking speech (I wrote it so it should be). One of the VVIPs, Jessica Phang of Visa was late. When Zafrul was starting his speech, making all the necessary greetings, he said: "And Jessica Phang from Visa, whom I believe is on the way..." just as she scrambled in and ran to the front. I stifled a giggle.

He inserted a heck of a lot of jokes and the atmosphere was Tune Money's own brand of informal (who says financial services have to be boring?). Then the Minister-du-jour made his ponderous way up and gave his speech (which I wrote too, but he delivered it so badly it sounded like any old government speech, yuck!) My sister Julie came (albeit a little late as she mixed up the times and got a little lost trying to find the convention centre) said Zafrul was cool and the Minister was a sucky presenter. I agreed on both counts.

Then two winsome babes in Tune Money tee-shirts (no they were not our staff, but Zafrul talked of hiring them to deal exclusively with the CEO's office) brought a giant card out to stage and the VVIPs went up and arranged themselves around it. They were supposed to "load" the prepaid card, so each was given giant RM100 notes and told to put it in a slot in the card, which was made out to Tony Fernandes.

Then Tony was required to remain on stage while Jien (our very funny and rather attractive MC) asked him what he would like to use the RM500 to buy. AirAsia tickets? No, Tony the showman replied, MAS tickets. Or better still Firefly. Everyone tittered appreciatively.

Then the stage backdrop separated to reveal one of those thingamajigs where you swipe the said "payment processing" and then issued a giant bill that Tony was required to sign, which he did with gusto.

It was all so showy and nice...good music, "let's get retarded in here..." and then everyone filed out to eat. Including me. I shoved pastries and savouries into my cakehole with wild abandon, dragging Julie to the different food displays to taste this, that and the other. We were cheerfully discussing something (I forget what) when I heard a stern voice repeating my last statement quizically.

I turned around and who should it be but my ertswhile boss, the lady from hell herself, Hardev Kaur (or Hardcore Dave as we used to call her). Putting on my best PR smile I talked to her for a bit and then went off to search for more food.

Julie wasn't hungry. Most people recognised her from my wallpaper (they would recognise Jackie as well should she come, as she shares my wallpaper with the Shi Sho girl) although Kanesh, when I introduced him, couldn't believe Jules was my sister. "Too pretty huh?"

"Yes, I mean no, I don't look anything alike."

Yeah, so I've been told.

Anyways, the press conference was on in full swing...although the press seemed to have thinned out considerably. It went pretty well. I needed to rush back to the office to send everyone the Minister's speech as his press secretary had conveniently forgotten to bring copies. There were figures involved and figures are always tricky. Better to have it on paper.

Then it was off to Backyard to er...celebrate. Actually Mark was supposed to have been playing but he wasn't. (My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes - Anne Shirley, Green Gables).

We hung out with H (our event manager) and Jien (the MC) and Andy (H's partner) and it was a lot of fun. Some fight broke out inside between a guy and his girlfriend. The guy flung out of the place, screaming "fuck you" and drove off in high dudgeon, while his girlfriend stood at the door, surveying him thoughtfully. He was back in about 10 minutes (time to cool off?) and went in for Round Two.

"On a Monday night?" asked H, shaking his head. Never a dull moment at the Backyard. Mary, Addy and I who were there outside with the guys, thanked our lucky stars that we were not sitting inside. Being pawed at by drunk Indian guys gets a little old after a while.

(OK Addy, I've updated with a passion - you should be happy now)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Coming out of the Closet

Was I ever in it?

Anyways, I think my colleagues think I'm gay.

Which is kinda funny, but I will not go out of my way to deny it.

I do know they think I'm weird and get away with murder (what is weird exactly, and what is normal?)

Twice I've brought a date to office parties and both times a woman. The same woman. Oh dear...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Come One, Come All...

I'm sitting in a management meeting which is supposed to be weekly, but hasn't been for some time because the boss has been away. It's moving desultorily. The boss is not here (he's late or at another meeting) and Kanesh, the other boss is feeling particularly belligerent. Some people have already got up and walked off and I'm hungry. I don't know why this meeting always makes me hungry.

Lately, I've felt a frog in my throat (I think it has something to do with Bar Savanh on Saturday and a really really strong gin and tonic, cigarette smoke, raucous music and enduring it till 2.30am).

Sleep, lots of sleep is what I need. I realise that I cannot do the going out every night thingy. Maybe it's age. But I ain't no party girl. Come to think of it, maybe I never was.

It's Wednesday now and in a few days, we have another major launch. This time it's prepaid cards. I have to send the invites out today.

You wanna come?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Some Men Just Can't Hold Their Arsenic!

"I'm beginning to believe in liposuction," I lean over and whisper to Nits.

"I always have," she replies.

The models continue sashaying with languid arrogance in what passes off as a catwalk in this ballroom. Turn this way. Turn that. So you see the contours of their impossibly tall slim bodies, their sucked-on cheeks, their exaggerated eyelashes that look like nothing so much as cockroaches. Modelling local designers. I lean back in my seat and feel myself wanting to huddle and fend it off.

We're at the Supremes concert. Rubbing shoulders with the glitterati of KL. Thing about Malaysian glitterati, they tend to glitter. All that ice and spangles.

Then the ex-Supremes come on - and they are beautiful ladies, so confident, so larger-than-life, that I stop writing the feminist essay about decorative bodies in my head. (An exploding frangipani? A blade of grass? Which would you rather lie next to?)

We leave before the end when the Queen (of Malaysia not England) goes up to present something or make some speech or whatever. We've gotten what we came for.

And on the way down we bump into the serial SMS-er. Except that he is bearded now, and looking so diminished that I don't recognise him. Nits does. He watches us and when he sees we are going to pass by without saying hello, asks in a hurt puppy dog sort of way:

"Aren't you even gonna say hi?"

That's when we realise that it IS him. But I must say, it's rich to appear so aggrieved considering how rude he was. Never mind. Bygones. Not interested in more drama. We say hi. He tells Anita that I made him remove me from Facebook (except that I beat him to it, and removed him first. And blocked him)and he doesn't even have my number to say hi. Funny thing is, my primary emotion is boredom. I really need to go to the bathroom and I wonder how long we're gonna have to stand there making polite small talk. We move away. Discuss it a bit but we have better things to talk about. Proceed after to Vintage to have a couple of drinks and a nasi lemak (the beef varuval was to die for) and we notice the now-bearded serial SMS-er making his way slowly through the lounge, to see where we're sitting.

"There's something seriously wrong with himlar. Was he always weird or is it that this is the first time I'm seeing him in the light?"

It's tomorrow and I've just parked at Istana Budaya. Mary and I scored free tickets (off Anita) to go watch Chicago. The good thing is, we arrived an hour early. Congratulating each other and patting each other's back on making such good time, despite the notorious Tun Razak jams, we wander around trying to find posters of Chicago. Thing is, there don't seem to be any. Only Peter Pan. We are mystified.

Then Mary suggests I look at the tickets. I do. Chicago is playing at the KL Convention Centre. I don't know how to get there from here. Except that I gotta get there fast.

Gone is the blissful smugness of having arrived early. We leap into the car and take off. I get lost and find myself driving towards the hills. At this rate we'll be in Ipoh in a couple of hours. Mary, beside me, laughing so hard I think she's gonna bust a gut.

I do a U-ey and turn back. There I see the Twin Towers set out before me. I just need to keep driving in that general direction and we will get there. Somehow. We do with 15 minutes to spare. Park in the wrong carpark but that's OK. You're not gonna be finicky about things like that when you're so horribly late.

We scramble into the KL Convention Centre and try to find the Plenary Hall. The map says it's on first floor. We get into the lift which kindly informs that Plenary Hall is on groundfloor. To hell with it. We just follow every sign that says Plenary Hall and eventually we get there. Seated and breathless, we realise that we're up in the rafters. The free tickets were RM100 each. But apparently RM100 doesn't go far when it comes to Chicago.

It was very entertaining (although I did nod off briefly from not having slept properly the night before) but from where we were, the faces were white blobs, we couldn't make out features.

And tonight there's a dinner to attend in about two hours. I can't believe I'm out three nights in a row. What a change from my usual lepaking existence. And on Monday, Mark's playing at Backyard. I know I said I wouldn't go back there but come one, it's been a whole week!

I don't feel like working.

Make that: I really really don't feel like working.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Happy Deepavali

Sometimes Horses Die

"The thing is, Jennifer, you have become so terribly shallow." Her smile takes off some of the sting.

I lean back and exhale carefully, like it hurts. Because it does.

"Um, why do you say that?"

"Look there," she gestures to my dressing table. It is full of pots of goo that I just had to have because of this skin problem or that. I've spent thousands on trying to fade a few scars. Close some pores. That sort of thing.

"What have you written over the past year?"

I cringe again. I was hoping we wouldn't get around to this. I talked around things so we wouldn't.

But she is inexorable.

And I can't hide.

Although I've been hiding for close to two years now.

I sigh and shrug. "Um, nothing much, I have this job, you see..."

And she is not buying it. Anyone who works at Starbucks or D'lish as much as I do, has the time to write. Besides I think I wrote the least when I was freelancing and basically doing nothing for long swaths of time.

I trace a circle on the floor with my big toe and brace myself for the lecture. It doesn't come.

"Honey, don't look so guilty. It was always up to you."

I look up and she's gone. She never stays for long. I start to miss her all over again. I wish just this once I could have held on.

A woman like her is not a woman quite,
I have been her kind.

And I pick up Tony Curtis for comfort and he tells me:

There is a winter within me
a place so cold, so covered in snow,
I rarely go there. But sometimes,
when all I can imagine are hands,
when trees in the forest
look like they're made of wood,
then I know it's time
to take my photograph of Akhmatova
and sling it in a bag with socks and scarves.
My neighbours must think it strange
to see me strapping on my snowshoes,
to hear me roar at the huskies
as I untangle the harness.
But when all you can imagine are hands
it's best to give a little wave
and move out into the whiteness.

Maybe I should get a photo of Akhmatova. I have a sketch of Whitman. A postcard that Shelly sent me. She was a poet who was also a surgeon and she had this facility for knowing. She saw all those months ago, I would get obsessed.

I do it so it feels like hell
I do it so it feels real.

I wish it felt real.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Yesterday was...different. I went for the NST's Hari Raya open house at the Marriott Hotel and missed the turning into the parking TWICE. Finally I slowed down, in that extremely jammed intersection, rolled down my power window and leaned out to ask a guard. He pointed vaguely but I got the picture.

Cursing NST for having its open house in hell during high water, I made yet another turn. OK, I found a carpark of sorts. At least the related one. But the ticket dispenser was on the blink. I waited behind two cars as a man fiddled with it. The car behind me got impatient and started to honk. I adjusted my car and he shot past me looking for some other more clement car park.

When I finally got there I was more than an hour late. Not that it mattered. It never does with these open houses. There were people milling around outside and sit down tables, wedding-style inside. No assigned seating and since I wasn't here with anyone (the colleague who was supposed to come with me begged off at the last minute) I felt sort of awkward. Said hi to a few people who were busy talking to other people and as such had no time to talk to me, and then wandered from table to table in search of a spare seat.

Thing is, this was an NST function. Thing is, she works at NST. Thing is, anyone would have thought I would put two and two together and figure out exactly who I was likely to bump into.

So when I came across a table with more than its fair share of empty seats and looked hopefully at the occupants to ask if I could sit there, I come face to face with...
We hadn't seen each other for three years. Not since 2004 and my disaster of a creative writing workshop for kids that she arm-twisted me into doing and that I botched up majorly. Of course, Jeremy was there with his acting class, which the kids enjoyed, to save the day. As bad as he was, he had some saving graces. Any kid stuck in my class would gaze longingly at the other group, to see what Jeremy's kids were doing.

Anyway, I think she sent me a long involved message last year, but she sent it on Yahoo Messenger chat. Rather than an email. Which meant that as soon as my wonky connection cut off, I lost the message. I could have written back to say, hey what? Instead I chose freezing silence. I think if you want to talk to me, fucking talk to me. Don't send me fucking chat rubbish.

When I last spoke to her, her father was dying. When I last spoke to her, her husband had deserted her. For good. When I last spoke to her, she hung on the phone and ignored me. When I last spoke to her, she didn't have time to go out for dinner or a drink or tea.

Well fine!

So three years.

I wondered. This year, I've discovered that people who meant something to you once, go on meaning something. Love doesn't die. Somehow, after years, you bump into each other, unexpectedly, hug, talk through the painful awkwardness and then...

But that's not what happened. Oh yeah, we did hug awkwardly. She asked after my family. I asked after hers. She told me her brother was married and so happy now. Her nieces and nephew were teenagers. Practically grown up. Her father was even more ill. Her mother had just been asking after me.

"I've been having some intense dreams about you for the past two months," she said.


"No, not that kind."

I didn't really know what "that kind" was. I said "dreams" because I didn't know what else to say. She looked sad, diminished. The joyousness that once characterised her, no matter what was happening, that spirit, was not there. She sat there, huddled, talking to me. Flicking away furtive tears.

I felt nothing.

Or maybe, I don't know what I felt.

A band of traditional music started to play. It was supposed to set the mood. Instead, it did nothing but irritate. We decided to leave.

On our way out we bumped into a few people. Amrin, the NTV7 CEO who had been busy talking to someone else when I said hi before, came over and said: "Hey I've been looking all over for you. Sorry about that. That was a Genting Tan Srilar. No choice."

No problem. We chatted for a while and I introduced him to my newly-minted old friend. She excused herself to talk to her colleagues. It was all so polite. Amrin gave me his number and took mine. Said we should hang out with my boss who is one of his good buddies.

She came back to say, I'm leaving now, Jenn. Take care. And you know where to find me if you want me.

It was all so ...painless. After all that speculation, all the angst about this moment. It was a saltless soup. I didn't know what I felt. Only that I needed a drink.

I called up Mary Z. "You'll never guess who I bumped into here."

Mary tried. And failed.

I told her. "Oh my God! Child, I'm going out to dinner with Chong now. You want to call me later and chat?"

"I really need a drink," I was ascending some stairs and could see into this really posh bar. There were some guys there that I had met when I arrived. Charlie Peters and two of his kakis. They waved at me to come join them. And there I was telling Mary I needed a drink and shaking my head vigorously. Then not so vigorously. Oh OK, one drink.

I descended: "Why do you want to have a drink with me? You ditched me just now."

"Sweetheart, we didn't ditch you, you just arrived, you needed to go talk to other people what?"

If only he knew.

OK, so we had a drink, a few laughs, Charlie left early leaving the other two, practical strangers to entertain me. "That Charlie ah...invites you to join us and then leaves. You call him up tomorrow and scold him."

I nodded but resolved not to. It would be too much of a fag. One of them, Peter, was circulating among some new additions to our crowd of four. I said: "Peter, I'm bored, you're not entertaining me:!" Chastened, he shuffled back to my side and cursed Charlie again. I grinned at him.

He walked me back to my car. Which was a good thing because after one and a half glasses on an almost empty stomach - as you can imagine I hadn't eaten much at the NST do - I was tottering. We found my car, which was a miracle. Then I drove off and found myself sobering up pronto. But I didn't want to go home.

I wanted to go to Backyard and watch Mark perform and wash away the something (the sting?) of the past few hours. I wanted to lose myself in unashamed groupieness. Did I tell myself this?

Of course not. I called Mary, who was home now and asked if I could pick her up and go out to the mamak. Mamak forsooth! I automatically turned my car towards Sri Hartamas and asked her if she would mind. She was kind and accommodating.

I was sad.

Very sad.

Crowding out the thoughts that were insisting on crowding in.


Warmth. The lack of. Connections. The lack of. Loneliness. The lack.

When we got to Sri Hartamas, (there was a mamak near Backyard pub) I turned my footsteps purposefully towards the pub, ignoring the tea place.

"Child, didn't you say you were hungry?" Mary asked.

"Um, do you mind if we go here first for a while?"

For a while? Huh! We stayed two hours.

Mark was singing. He saw us and squinted at me with a smile thinking, she looks familiar. Who?

Anyway he sang, took requests and engaged with the crowd. He smiled a lot. Mary thought a baldie who went up to sing with him was cuter. I said no, emphatically not. And Mark has the sweeter smile. She said yes, he does. And he smiles easily. Nice guy. So we sang along and talked some.

OK the thing about Backyard is that it's full of Indian men. And two Indian women walking in alone is screaming: "I want to be picked up!"

We nodded at those who nodded at us but didn't engage. One red wine and one warm Seven-Up. I positioned my chair where I could groupie in peace.

It was not to be. A bunch of very drunk very young guys near us decided that we looked lonely. They came over and started putting their foot in the mouth. It was to go on for the rest of night.

One of them had come up and touched Mary. She jumped a foot in the air, swung around like a lionness and snapped: "Don't you ever do that again! The only one in this whole place who has the right to touch me is my friend. You do NOT come up to women you have never met before and put your hands on them."

Guy in question apologised drunkenly. She looked at him tightlipped: "OK but don't do it again. Learn to be a gentleman."

I was listening to Mark and smiling at Mary.

Then one of the drunken friends came over and drapped his arms around me casually. I shot her an appealing glance: "Get your hands off her, Siva. You do not simply go around touching women you have never met. I'm very protective."

Siva desisted but he was not ready to leave us alone. He muttered something about languages and really, why is it that they won't shut up when we're so obviously trying to listen to the live music? I even took care to inform him that I was here as a Mark groupie.

"Oh yeah, Mark? He's good yah...yeah, good. I don't know much about him. Yeah, I'm as lost as you. You know him very well then?"

Motormouth. Nothing interesting to say. But couldn't shut up. I turned away and grinned at Mark. He grinned back.

Mark told us he had four songs to go to complete the set. He took requests. He said he played James Taylor. I asked which ones. He said, name one. I said, Wandering. A burly Indian fler sitting at a table nearby nodded in approval because I didn't say Fire and Rain. Mark sighed. No, haven't gotten around to that one yet. So he played: "That's Why I'm Here and Shower the People" back to back. And then he played England Dan, John Ford Coley: "It's Sad to Belong To Someone Else" (I dunno but in my tipsy state I was thinking there was a hidden message here).

And he ended with: "I'd really love to see you tonight." Which was the song Anita and I most requested on the jukebox in Subway back when there used to be Subway in Medan Damansara with a jukebox.

We clapped furiously and he came to talk to us after a bit. "I didn't expect to see you here." I introduced Mary. We chatted. Then he had to go on his PR rounds and talk to everyone.

We had all of one decent conversation there. With a Londoner.

Mark said the Indian version of "It's Hard to Belong to Someone Else when the Right One Comes Along" is "It's Hard to Belong to Someone Else when the White One Comes Along."

Mary whispered to me: "I can just imagine what those guys are thinking. Indian women coming to a pub being very stand-offish with nice guys like us and talking to the white guy. Thing is, he was the only decent one here who was not offensive."

Since I was busy being a groupie, I was not too concerned what all these ugly Indian men were thinking.

But I think we'll give Backyard a miss the next time. It's divey and I like divey, but I guess I like clean, smoke-free, decent people who don't hit on you drunkenly, squashy sofas, interesting art pieces adorning the walls, muted lighting, a mixed crowd, better.

In short, I think I'm more of an Attic kind of girl. And Mark plays there every first, third and fourth Thursday. With Susan. I think I like him better as a duo.

Later for you.

Friday, November 02, 2007

This and That

I was up at The Attic last night (oh my, was I) with my good friend VJ whose birthday it was yesterday...and there was this band playing that I had never heard before and the lead singer was um...kinda cute.

So I force poor old Vij to sit on the sofas right next to the stage so we can hear better (I mean without our faces being actually on stage itself) and I go into frantic SMS mode to my friend Addy to get me the goss on background etc. Addy who is recovering from an illness, obliges.

I think I so the drama queen one.

But it was fun.

And we sang along to old England Dan John Ford Coley tunes.

And there was some birthday party going on there and we got a piece of chocolate cake each which was nice. I only ate half of mine because I wasn't really hungry. I did have the garlic prawns though and that was nice. The Attic is really lovely on days like this when there isn't a crowd or oretty people jostling for attention.

And here's a shoutout to my whippersnapper.

It's been a day and I haven't written anything for NaNoWriMo. As well as other things I'm supposed to be writing but haven't gotten around too, my attention focussed on speeches and press releases et al.

Guilt slowly creeping...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Before the Storm

Happy Halloween guys. The spirits bend over the earth and sigh. And somewhere in Bangsar, a girl huddles in her blankets and wakes up crying.

"He's not even my type! Why am I reacting like this?" she wails. And sinks under the sheets sobbing.

Somewhere else, a woman wakes up tired. "I sleep and sleep and sleep and yet I'm knackered. What can be happening."

And I, I cry in my sleep. Having read Colette and The Dark is Rising and The Awakening all at once. A friend calls and tells me his grandfather just passed away. At 90. He's still sad. Last week was tough. But he's coping now. He sounds a little high. And I wonder.

Everywhere, everywhere the dark leans down and sucks out the joy. Ragged teary faces emerge, drained of happiness.

An eyebrow is threaded. Nice? Not nice? Who knows? Naz of the swollen belly works her magic with the thread. Hairs plucked. Eyebrows shaped. She works at home so you need to know where she is, to go there. You call first.

A Pay Less bookshop yields treasures. Tomorrow there's a book sale. More treasures. And I still haven't finished all the books from last year. More books. More books. More books.

Sometimes, there is a hush before a storm.

You hold your breath, waiting for something to happen, knowing that it will be major.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crying in my Sleep

A mystery solved. I wondered, why, even getting to bed at a decent hour I wake up feeling so knackered. Mum, who was in my bed last night (she is down for a funeral) enlightened me. Apparently I have been crying in my sleep. I don't wake up. My eyes feel tired, but they're not red and stinging.

And I don't even know why.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Mourning Malaysia...

I'm alone on the leather seats at HUSH. They smell of expensive Cuban cigars and the table I'm at is supposed to be reserved. But the manager kindly let me have it. "Sit anywhere you want." he said. I'm waiting for my boss who happens to part own HUSH as well.

The boss is rushing all over the place. He's squeezed in some time before he's due for a flight to go over some stuff. I just had a great lunch at Tea for Two with ...

I feel a little sad, nonetheless, and I can't trace the source of this melancholy. Could it be the weather? The incessant rain? (But I like incessant rain). Could it be the two deaths that have taken place in the space of a day? But neither person was close to me and I really don't care. Was it the thought of death itself hovering over the people I actually love? (There being no armour against fate and such...)

Could it be the sentimental easy listening at HUSH which takes me back to earlier times and makes me feel a little sad?

Baby come back
any kind of fool could see
there was something
in everything about you...


Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Perfect Day

I would like to take off on the beaten highway and write a Road story.

So what if it's been done too many times? All stories are old. But new all the same. Every line is cliched. But fresh all the same. And what fun a journey into nowhere would be, meeting strangers, hanging with them for a day, adding them to facebook or not, and moving on.

How impeturbable the traveler who carries little and takes away less.

Ah me.

It's always a perfect day.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lots of Nothing

Despite the late nights and resultant exhaustion, I've gone through my two Margaret Atwoods and am now on to Colette. (I didn't tell you about Colette but I really, really wanted it and my good pal Mary found a copy of Cheri and The Last of Cheri at Pay Less Books, whereupon she uttered a shrill scream, grabbed the book, paid for it, and presented it to me. My friends are so nice)

It starts off with a guy and a pearl necklace. Am I supposed to take that at face value?

Snigger, snigger.

Work has been swirling and eddying around me. I feel the waves lap at my ankles, cold and slightly strange. Ah well.

Tomorrow's the last day before the festive break. People are already making their exodus out of KL. Driving to work today was wonderful. There was a noticeable dimunition in crazy traffic. I love KL when all the crazies (excepting me) have left. I can wander around shopping centres, my favourite bookshops, without bumping into a thousand other bodies. I will probably also get to the Sex and the City box set that I purchased last Saturday and haven't watched yet.

Time to kick up my heels and do lots of nothing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Curious Incident of a Man and His Texts

So there I was, reading and re-reading affirmations, my ears plugged with Rhonda Byrne who was telling me in so many ways that what I concentrate on, I get. A very zen state of mind. I think the little birdies were singing and the mango tree was boogeying to the music. In short, God was in Her heaven. All was right with the world.

Then I get a text. Wondering if it was someone from the office to ask me where the heck I was (it was nearly noon after all) I sighed. But it was a text from someone else. The gist of it was that he did not send the text he was supposed to have sent me on Sunday night.

Picture this: Me and Mary Z at the Bangsar Village Grocer picking up some fixin's for a sandwich or two on the Sunday night in question. My phone buzzes. Wondering who it could be at nine on a Sunday, I remove it from the clutter in my bag only to find the following message:

Jennifer I don't think I can make it as I just finished my morning meeting. (the message becomes garbled after and I don't remember what it said)

I smiled at Mary who was bending over, scrutinising a particular display for emery boards. "Huh, always amusing to get a message meant for someone else."

I shot back the following: "Wrong Jennifer."

And that was it. Or so I thought.

Anyways, come Monday afternoon, I get a confused message from SMS-er in question wondering what I was talking about. "What do you mean wrong Jennifer?"

Kindly, I explained that it was in response to his SMS on Sunday night. Perchance he had scheduled some meeting with some random Jennifer and clicked on my name by accident.

No, he assured me.

He hadn't.

Which is why Tuesday, nearly noon, I get a suspicious text informing me that he had gone through his outbox rigorously and found that he had only sent out 6 messages. And all to siblings.

(I don't know about you, but I thought this was belabouring the point just a tad. I mean, who cared, anyway?)

So I replied in a slightly irritated manner saying, so, you made a mistake, so just live with it and move on. And didn't think any more of it.

Unfortunately I seem to have unleashed a tidal wave. I got a mouthful of vitriol in reply. To whit: I know a good shrink, let me introduce you, you could really use one.

I mean to say what?

Can anyone say, uncalled for?

Conversation (yes even these breathless text exchanges qualify as conversations) deteriorated rapidly after that. I called him dumb and said I would be hurt by insinuations about sanity. Except that I never took anyone who couldn't spell seriously. Also, I said that being as self obsessed and self entitled as he was, the shrink had obviously not made much headway with him. But then, maybe he was just a hopeless case.

He said he had made an appointment for me as I desperately needed to have my head examined. Also that he had no desire to see me again because I needed to get some culture and my head out of the clouds and know there was more to life than a spell check.

Hmmmmm. I shouldn't have answered the first rude message of course. I should have been dignified and just "walked away". (I know this now after discussing it with one third of the 3K). Someone so childish and immature is just not worth my time.

But the exchange was so heated that I emerged bruised and shaken. Rhonda Byrne was still droning on enthusiastically in my ear. And my hand was trembling as I ticked off affirmations.

I sent off a text to Nits who called and consoled. It was too ridiculous! She was at a loss for an explanation. Just that this guy must really really hate me. It was obvious he thought I had hatched a deep dark plot to intrude upon his notice when he was busy comfortably ignoring me.

If I wanted to do that, surely I could come up with something more interesting and articulate than "wrong Jennifer". I'm a writer for crying out loud.

Anyways, I pulled into the office, wrote a speech, called Mary Z and we had tea at D'lish. Seeing I was very upset she made me order my food and have my roast beef sandwich first. She regaled me with tales of Jane Austen (I realise that for me, JA is the ultimate mood shifter) and we discussed Pride and Prejudice (the Jennifer Ehle-Colin Firth version) and she told me after watching just a few minutes of it she could have cheerfully killed Keira Knightley for that desecration of a Pride and Prejudice a few years ago. I nodded vigorously, mouth full of roast beef.

We talked about Jane's life (she's reading the Tomalin biography) and her loves (couldn't say really, Cassandra did her work well protecting her sister's privacy) moving off into George Eliot and Edith Wharton. It was satisfying and I leaned back full of roast beef and literary biographies.

When I launched into my story, Mary looked a little startled and then puzzled.

"He doesn't sound worth your attention. But did you really have to answer the SMSes when he got rude? Contaminating your phone with all that negativity..."

I thought about this for a while. The fighter cock in me would say, hell, yeah! But common sense, or the semblance of it that is trying to push a shoot through the dirt, said no. I should have ignored it. A dignified silence says plenty. After all, there was no way this conversation could have done anything but spiral out of control. If fat bald creepy dude was on the warpath he would have to fight with himself. As it was, I provided the perfect foil for him to unleash fury. Of course, I got a few choice words in, and some may have even penetrated that thick armour so he would have another hang-up to add to that overfull closet.

But did I want to do this?


I exhaled and felt the tension in my belly slowly dissipate. I was feeling curiously better.

OK, I need to go do some more affirmations.

I am calm and relaxed and centred and open....exhale...inhale...exhale...inhale... blow out the candle.

Later for you.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


I've just had the best day out with an old friend.

I was late. Late to bed, late to rise, makes a girl...crabby. (There was some drama with the car battery going phut on me which I intended to tell you about last night but I was too tired to and today the car story gives way to the fun in the sun with E story) Anyway I got a text message saying she was already there.


So I raced to the shower, threw on some clothes all anyhow, slapped on some lipstick and face powder with a vague idea of looking presentable. Arrived at said venue, where I said I would call her only to discover that my phone was out of credit. To whit, I could not make the call. So I had to waste more precious minutes getting a phone card and then topping up. (I really really need to switch to postpaid. I also need to get a credit card)

Anyways, she called me (in the midst of my top-up operations) and suggested Delicious for breakfast and I said fine by me and as I was heading for her, I noticed her face was all mottled red, like someone who has cried too much. Or someone who is trying not to cry. Grief, hurt, heartbreak swirled around her and I thought, oh oh.

Something was up!

She let me in on what very soon after we had ordered...I had poached eggs on toast and an orange juice, she had scrambled eggs on toast and a macchiato (just cos she likes the names of these foreign-sounding coffees). There was stuff going on in the office and the more she talked, the worse she felt. I listened for a bit, but I hadn't stopped my ears with The Secret for four hours a day for nought.

I made her STOP!

I just wanna STOP!
And tell you what I feel about you babe,
I just want to STOP!
The world ain't right without you babe
I just wanna STOP!
For your lurve...

And told her that she was giving these silly hos too much power. (Funny, it's always the cumulative petty things, like guerrilla attacks, that get to you, rather than the open confrontations) And asked her to switch her thoughts to what she wanted.

As the day progressed E, who is actually a cheerful contented soul, did just this. The energy switched. I could feel it happening physically. Sometimes, you just need to hang with a friend who's known you since you were 12. And talk all manner of rubbish knowing the other person will love you anyway. And listen to all manner of rubbish, knowing you'll love them anyway.

We sauntered off to check out music at the only CD shop at Bangsar Village. I bought five CDs.

She started to brighten up. Told me all about Hairspray and how brilliant John Travolta was in it. (Too bad, I didn't watch it and the illegal pirated version isn't out yet)

She dragged me to a little gift shop she suddenly noticed at BV1 and told me she spent ridiculous amounts of money on some cutesy gift figures (she showed me which one to get for her when she got married). Told me about a cottage in the country with a chimney and a garden that she dreamed off. We spoke of that half American, half-Korean actor she liked now. We had lunch at this Japanese restaurant at BV1 (E is a connoiseur of Japanese) followed by coffee and Coffee Bean and talked some more. Then, despite the rain, we charged across the road to Silverfish where I got Wilderness Tips (Margaret Atwood), The Edible Woman (ditto) and The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Betty Edwards) because I flipped through it and it seems like the kind of book I would like.

Besides, I've always fancied myself a secret artist who wants to make pictures and if I do, you can be sure I'll be inflicting some of these on you, only because I'm so fond of you...I asked E if we could both go to France, set up our easels on some lovely field of lavender or something and paint. She said she didn't think so.

Then we went off to Czip Lee, this stationery cum art supply store at the end of that street so I could buy "artist pencils". I told the nice lady behind the counter I wanted to sketch and asked her to recommend pencils. She laughed heartily and said it would be like the blind leading the blind. E, who is a notoriously observant busybody (worse than my sister Julie) had in the meanwhile gone in search of artists pencils, found them and come back to plonk a box of them on the counter. I beamed at her. Nice lady behind the counter shook her head at the 6Bs and said I should get 8Bs instead as that was what the artists got. So I did without further ado.

6Bs, 8Bs, it made me no never mind.

In that same shop we found lots of card-making apparatus. E and I had hatched this scheme to make our own Christmas cards. I said I could print out my picture and decorate it with Christmassy-looking cut-outs and inflict it on all the people who loved me, liked me or knew me slightly from the blog. E didn't bat an eyelid and said that would be a good idea.

(Um, what do you guys think of it? Also, please email me your addresses, I'm making up my Christmas card list for this year and if you get your cards in October it's only cos I'm efficient)

Anyway, we made vague plans to meet at her house and go crazy with glue and glitter and coloured paper (and pictures of me) and other such necessities. I told her I would be making all my presents this year and she smiled knowingly.

E makes her own presents, her own cards, sometimes even her own wrapping paper. She's one of the most intensely creative people I know and her ultimate aim in life is to be a "domestic engineer". She loves taking care of people.

Instead, she drags herself to work with semi-literate baboons complete with bright red asses, stares at a computer screen eight hours a day and writes instruction manuals for DVD players.

Anyways, after dallying at the bookshop and the art supply shop we felt the need for something cold and creamy to repair the tissues. So of course, we made tracks for Haagen Dazs (Upper Ground, BV2) and had a scoop each. Mine was vanilla topped with hot fudge and hers was cookies and chocolate topped with almond flakes. At this point, stuffed with food and good conversation, I started nodding off. E was chattering contentedly and then she fell silent. I unclosed an eye to see her gazing at me with some amusement.

Ah, it was time to go. We paid and were told, to our pleasant surprise that we would get something free from L'Occitane. You know, that really, really expensive place where some handcream costs over RM90? Yeah, that one. Anyway, we got these sachets of hand cream and foot cream while the nice store girl extolled the virtues of Shea Butter (I dunno why but Shea Butter sounds vaguely sexual to me) and I assured her I'd come back when they're having their Christmas promotion (despite the fact that I'm making most of my pressies this year).

Then it was really time to go. E, home and me, to Jaya's to get some DVDs. (Yes, despite the day-long binge I was still not satisfied). I ended up getting all six seasons of Sex in the City. Of course, I couldn't watch it when I got home as Dadda was hogging the TV. Is it the EPL or something? Oh well, it makes me no never mind. Something else to look forward to now.

E called to tell me she got home safely. This was her first time driving to Bangsar and she found her way there and back again without incident. I told her I didn't have the luxury of tip-toeing round in the car but had to drive into the heart of KL, the moment I got the car because of my assignments. Memorably, for the first assignment I drove to, I left two hours early and arrived one hour late. To anyone who knew their way, it would have been a 30-minute journey at most. The HP people were a little stiff with me, so after apologising wildly and trying to explain that this was my first time...I ended up taking the guy I interviewed out to Bangsar to show him what Malaysian nightlife was like. After a nice Chinese dinner (this was when Cheap Charlie's was still cheap) we ended up in Bazaar where we reclined on red velvet cushions, smoked a hookah and watched a bunch of girls making out.

He asked if this was typical KL.

I said yes, no doubt.

And we laughed immoderately and took another drag of that apple-flavoured hookah.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wake Up

I'm sitting at Starbucks wondering why I feel so sleepy (could it be the vampire attacks at 3 in the morning?) Dunno. Anyways, I'm supposed to be writing a speech for my boss to deliver at Cambridge and my soul is just not into it. Instead I take to staring at cool new suitcases at The Luggage Zone and fine china at Royal Doulton and tropical-coloured pieces of art at Art Accent.

There's a guy sitting near me who is raising his voice and scolding someone. Not appropriate behaviour for Starbucks. Also I am so interested that I swivelled around to have a look at his mug.

There is a tall model (at least I think she's a model) in tight jeans, spaghetti straps and scarves. She's resting her chin on her knuckles and inclining her head at this very ordinary-looking man who looks red-faced and sleepy.

There's a girl applying lip balm to her dehydrated kissers. She has been surfing the net and now she's stuffed her tiny laptop into her cool sling bag and sauntered off into the art shop.

All around me, people, people, people...I'm trying to capture moments, little droplets of intensity, I'm trying to wake up.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now

When I was young (or at least a good deal younger) I always thought there were goodbyes that would last forever. That this was IT.

No more, no more, no more.

That no matter how much some people meant to me, I could cross them off some proverbial list, erase them from my life and henceforth, they would cease to exist.

I know better now.

As long as I loved them, as long as they really meant something to me, they will show up again. Sometime. And when they do it will be like no time has passed.

Time: silly illusion.

What is one year, 10 years or even 20?


And Dan Fogelberg is playing in my head now for some reason or nother.

Trust isn't something that's spoken,
Love's never wrong when it's real...

There is only purple










Magic seems to be creeping in through the crevices. There's a muse out there, a whisper, a breathing in, inspiration.

There is poetry waiting to get out.

Dry ice and pretty dresses and rainbow-coloured park benches.

Something is happening here, only I don't know what.

I arise from exhausted sleep to lavender-scented air. France is peeping at me from the behind the bedpost.

The shepherdess comes alive. She smiles tenderly.

I take myself off to KLCC after a long long time and buy books of poetry. Books and books and books. There's Lorca. There's Whitman.

I'm alive. And the world shines for me today. Suddenly I am here today. Seems like forever. Thought I could never. Is this really me? I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive...

I invoke the muses.

I reject the gray.

No dust.

No despair.

No traffic.

No haze.

There is only purple.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Death, Art, Knots and Poor Quality Guides

There I was in the office bright and early (for once), my management updates all handed up in time, smugly anticipating (rather than dreading) the management meeting.

And then my phone went off. When I saw it was Mum trying to call, my stomach took a dive. Thing is she never calls in the morning unless there's bad news. Like last week when she called to tell me that my crazy aunt (known elsewhere in this blog as Old Lady) had been attacked by parang-wielding Indian hooligans who tried to push her in the house and rape her.

Old Lady's nearly 70.

It was not an edifying story.

Mum: Jenny ah?

Me: Hi Mum.

Mum: You at home ah?

Me: No, at the office.

Mum: Oh, I just called to tell you that Elizabeth Chew died.

Wham! I goldfished in shock for a while. Elizabeth Chew was my old art teacher at the Convent. She was a cantankerous old biddy who yelled at the girls, slapping a few (and what's more getting away with it). But still. She was one of those people you sort of forget after school, but who form part of the landscape of people who continue to exist until it's time for them to die.

It was not time for her die. Not to my mind at least.

An early disappointment in love had turned her into an angry bitter woman who could spew venom with the best. But there were flashes of colour. She was a very good art teacher. She was the only one who made me take that "free period" class seriously. And, when not in temper, she could be pretty inspirational.

She was also our Girl Guide mistress. My most poignant memory of her in that role is of me failing my knots exam and of her saying in front of a class of strange (meaning I didn't know them) girls: "We don't want poor quality Guides like Jennifer!"

Why are my thoughts of the dearly departed so uncharitable? Anyway, back to my conversation with Mum:

Me(in strangled whisper): How?

Mum: Snatch thief.

Visions of her being dragged by those blasted motorbikes swirled in my brain. Oh dear. Not what I wanted to hear or think about or imagine, first thing Monday morning.

Me: Really? You mean they...?

Mum: After church she went to Holiday Plaza for dinner. As she was getting out of her car, three men jumped her and took her handbag. She fell and her head hit the car. Went to the hospital to get stitches. Then when she got home, she started vomiting. And then she died.

(As you can see, Mum doesn't believe in beating around the bush)


Mum: Yeah, so be careful OK? First day of the month and all. Some more Hari Raya holidays coming up.

Me: Yeah, OK.

Goodbye Miss Chew.

I hope you find peace.

And I forgive you for calling me a "poor quality Guide" which translated into a belief that I was a poor quality everything for most of my high school years.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


I've just finished vampire fighting - I made it to Ice Vampire today and am terribly chuffed. I got my friend VJ to say he'd remove the vampire application (he accepted someone else's vampire invite to my infinite chagrin) so I could invite him and he could be part of my army. Woo hoo! I am so into this it's not funny. Or maybe it is.

I'm back from a night out with my friends A and S. There was Cabernet Merlot involved. Also some teh tarek. And although I was in Bangsar I was dressed for the beach. With slippers (you probably call them flip flops) and all.

Last night I was in Zeta Bar with good friend. There was champagne and loud music and a crappy band. And guys feeling up girls with exposed midriffs. Sometimes you don't even need the champagne to have fun. And an ex-boyfriend who was there with some chick and who stared a little but not a lot.

I am supposed to write about a trip to the Attic (yes, another trip to the Attic) last week, where a friend and I accidentally walked in on a "Get Me A Date by Friday" but time has passed, the memories have thinned, and really it was no big deal. Just lots of people swilling around, trying desperately to appear interesting, imbibing vast quantities of alcohol to help it along...there was some guy who hit on my friend. He seemed drunk to begin with but became soberer. His wife died on their wedding day. He was trying to pick up the pieces after a year of self destruction.


Always deceptive.


Nearly always wrong.

It's been a tiring week. I wanted to tell you about our launch of our first product but the memories are confused and tangled and I feel like another drink.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.

(PS: If you're not already a vampire, please let me bite you)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


It's the one thing we should grow used to after years of practice. And it is the one thing that stings the way death is supposed to but doesn't (according to Hamlet, anyway).

Whether it is a Facebook intro that is turned down by one party (click ignore) or a message left to languish unanswered or the unreturned telephone call.

How to get some measure of philosophy over this?

Practice, I guess.

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


Like that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Same Old Love

"Prodigal, you have given me love! Therefore I to you give love."

Iago cocks an inquiring eyebrow.

I shrug. "Sorry."

"It's all right honey. At least Whitman is a change..."

I sigh. Poor Iago has to put up with a lot. The only reason he hasn't given me up entirely, is that he's gay. He sort of understands poetry. And the heart of the heart, the centre of the centre, and the quiet dark. Oh God, I'm at it again...

I celebrate myself and what I assume, you shall assume...

"Darling, I'll have to take away your Leaves of Grass if you don't become more coherent. What exactly are you trying to tell me?"

A familiar refrain. Speak clearly Jenn, no one knows what the heck you're trying to say.

I struggle for utterance. The thing is, words dissolve in my brain and reform in entirely unexpected ways.

Every atom that belongs to me as good as belongs to you...

"That's nice sweetie," his shoulders droop and I can hear him thinking across the cold, cavernous space between: "No use trying to get any sense out of her today."

I bow my head ashamed and allow my long matted hair to cover my face. It smells of unwashed neglected human. It smells of shattered structures. It smells of the debris of unborn children.

Iago leaves.

And I am alone. Walt won't come to see me today, I don't think.

There's the white shell I put to my ears. The sea rushes in. Other smells. Pleasanter smells.




Ceremonial incense burning and I intone with an intensity that surprises the birds:

To die is different from what anyone supposes. And luckier.

To die is different from what anyone supposes. And luckier.

To die is different from what anyone supposes. And luckier.

I finger the prayer beads fervently.

Maybe he'll empty out the words and take me away from my dank hair and stale garments.

A ragged discordance is torn from my throat...

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what one supposes, and luckier.

God help me.

Or send Walt.

Friday, September 14, 2007

All over again

At the hole where he went in
Red-Eye called to Wrinkle-Skin.
Hear what little Red-Eye saith:
``Nag, come up and dance with death!''
Eye to eye and head to head,
(Keep the measure, Nag.)
This shall end when one is dead;
(At thy pleasure, Nag.)
Turn for turn and twist for twist-
(Run and hide thee, Nag.)
Hah! The hooded Death has missed!
(Woe betide thee, Nag!)

I have forsaken my regular Starbucks for D'lish cafe in my quest of ever new experiences. I am running out of options and patience and suddenly the world ceases to beam with its customary lambent glow.

I had lunch with a friend who described in detail how she planned to murder her husband. It was gory and curiously satisfying. (You have to meet the husband in question to understand why it was curiously satisfying).

Then I came to sit by myself, with my cup of cappuccino, wondering whether I wanted to have another sandwich...I had a pasta salad for lunch and it was very nice, and I had a caramel slice for dessert and it was very nice, but still...

Watching these two little girls in bright yellow uniforms, tuck away this plate of spaghetti bolognaise, smothered in parmesan, makes me feel hungry.

All over again.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Going Solo (without meaning to) and all the things I didn't learn from it

The dark unsmoky interior of The Attic seemed vaguely threatening. After all, for the first time, I was going there alone, trusting to someone's casual:

"I'll be at The Attic tonight. C U there?"

that I wouldn't be alone once I got there. But things have a way of playing out and casual invitations have a way of leaning heavily on the side of insincere. Which is why, when I got there, casual inviter was not to be seen.

I didn't know anyone.

I was effectively, ALONE AT THE ATTIC (How's that for a sequel to Sleepless in Seattle?)

I made my way around the bar searching for a seat. At least seated, you feel less awkward.

There was no seat.

One empty one was reserved. A group of two girls that would swell into a group of four. One of the two gave me a dirty look as I moved closer and plunked her capacious pink handbag there.


Another was occupied by a laptop. I asked the guy sitting in the next seat (I assumed, incorrectly, that it was his laptop) if I could share the seat with the laptop. He told me he didn't know. It wasn't his and he really couldn't be responsible for moving it.

OK, so this was getting humiliating. I was nervous and so way out of my comfort zone that I decided, hey, let's see if this is fodder for blogging. (The discomfort we will put ourselves through for a post is phenomenal).

I made my way back to the chair with the capacious pink handbag and stood next to it. Turned to the smiling female bartender and asked if she had any brandy on the menu. Yes, there was Martell VSOP for RM25 a glass or Henessy VSOP for RM28. Ach well, Martell was good enough. I would sip one glass of brandy with warm water over the hour I had made up my mind to stick it out there (I was due to meet my boss at the office at 10 for a rehearsal of his speech), enjoy (or at least, try to enjoy) the live music, and then make my way out of there.

New people were arriving. I looked up hopefully but the casual inviter was not among those present. A girlish 40-something in a pretty frock who swished her way around like a Latin dancer came up to talk to everyone around me. I had met her before but she obviously didn't remember. I had been with my friend Terence then, and he was something of a VIP here. When I rocked up with Terence, the two owners came to talk to us, followed by girlish old lady who tittered becomingly and forced my poor friend to stand and talk to her.

Terence has a bad back.

After about 15 minutes of unrelenting carbonated girlish conversation, Terence was leaning awkwardly on the table, shifting position to try and get more comfortable. The girlish one, unaware of anything but her own charm prattled on. Then she swished over to my side to introduce herself and talk to me.

Anyway today, she was too busy being beautiful, her long-suffering Danish husband in tow, to say hi. (which is why I'm being so catty).

A contestant from the reality TV show my boss had been involved in walked in. She was obviously popular and part of the in-crowd. I smiled at her hopefully, but her eyes brushed past me without recognition. Ouch. This girl had gone out of her way to be nice to me before, from some stupid supposition that I had an ounce of influence over my boss's decision on whether she would get to stay in the game or not.

I didn't.

She lost.

I contemplated going up to say hi but decided not to. If this was the way she wanted to play it, the only thing I had going for me was my dignity (OK not much dignity standing alone, desperately clutching the side of a bar, without even a chair and without anyone to talk to, but still)

So anyway, the Former Contestant went up to introduce the first act of the day, a girl with powerful pipes who would give us a rendition of cheesy 80s numbers (OK you can probably tell my mood from this; usually, I love 80s numbers). She was OK. Good in fact. Except that her accompanying pianist sounded like a bunch of bananas. And the singer really should have learned to pronounce some of her words.

Through all this, I kept glancing at my watch. OK, 25 minutes to go. 15 minutes to go. Yay, only 10 minutes to go. She gave us one more number and stopped for a breather at 5 minutes to go.

Could I leave?


I said 10 and I would leave at 10. Leaving earlier would be the act of a coward.

So I waited until this guy, who rejoiced in the rather unfortunate name of Adonis, (he so wasn't!) came on to give us a rendition of Lady in Red. After Powerful Pipes, he was rather a disappointment. You could hardly hear him. Then he came to the chorus and imbued a little passion into the words:

"Lady in red, is dancing with me, cheek to cheek."

Took me back to France, a little red number from Tannkul in BSC, and slow dancing with a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend who was holding me uncomfortably close and weeping because he was drunk.

Ah, the good old days...

Anyways, rude as it is to leave in the middle of a number, it was now 10 o'clock. Which meant, I was home free. The jerk who said he would be there hadn't showed up and I made my way a little unsteadily down the two flights of stairs (The Attic is after all, an attic) to my car to head for the office.

I had texted two friends while I was there, telling them of my predicament. One was at the airport sending his father off. The other was at home, cuddling her son.

Note to self: Once is enough. I don't have to take this challenge again. Next time I go to The Attic (or anywhere), make SURE I have company. And don't trust in "c u there?"!

If someone cannot even take the trouble to spell out the words, they're probably not gonna take the trouble to show up.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sleeping pills please please please please please

I didn't take pills or knock-out cough mixture to fall asleep last night. Which means I didn't fall asleep. I thought I would read myself to sleep, a memoir by Colette Rossant which was on my bedside table. Instead I found myself finishing the book in the wee hours of the morning still not dropping off.

When you get used to chemical help you get used to chemical help.

Then I had a dream where I had to explain to a rather annoying colleague my failure as a journalist. She was mocking and I was defensive. It was all very strange. And Britney Spears appeared and kept trying to make a comeback. She did a terrible version of all Madonna's videos and I felt vaguely sorry for her. There was such pain and desperation in her eyes.

And I woke up late for work. And I'm still at home which means I need to get off my keister and go.

But I feel so tired.

You know what you feel like when you lose your best friend? Pills have become that for me. Comforting and sleep-inducing and under their lambent influence I can disappear into total oblivion and forget I'm me for a while.

And since it's always today, a while is all I've got.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I'm a cat on a hot tin roof; too afraid to jump.

So I run on treadmills sweating profusely but getting nowhere.

'Well, in our country, said Alice, still panting a little, 'you'd generally get to somewhere else - if you ran very fast for a long time as we've been doing.' 'A slow sort of country!' said the Queen. 'Now, here, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!'

So I sip warm water (instead of having dinner) because I'm afraid to go shopping and nothing fits. It's all wrong or I'm all wrong.

So I stare at the pages of a book pretending that I can live in my mind once more.

It's getting harder...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Home, by any other name...

I'm curled up in one of the armchairs, a mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream cradled in my hands, reading my Anne Sexton. My laptop stands open in readiness for me the write the speech-du-jour, but I'm lost in the words. All around me, there are meetings happening, interviews happening, people discussing business plans, a few chatting over a coffee.

Starbucks. My new home. My new office. I am alone. I feel part of the crowd. Pretty people. Sexton talking to me from the pages. I disappear into her words.

An hour later I emerge from the torpor and tap out a few words on my screen. No cigar. So I pull out a notebook and write out an affirmation. This is the speech I want to write. This is how long I want it to be. This is how long I want to take to write it. This is how I want it to sound. Got it? Good. I rewrite the affirmation a few times to drive home the point.

Then get back to the screen.

I need some music.

Out comes the trusty iPod. There's Michael Buble singing Home followed by Amici Forever's So Far Away. How particularly apposite.

The model nearby is showing his portfolio to an agent. She has brown streaks in her hair and looks like she was once a model too. Pretty. She asks him if he's attached and he hems and haws and pretends. Finally admits to a girlfriend in Thailand. He's told that he must, under no circumstance, betray that he is already girlfriended if he is to take this job. It would offend his fans. He seems obssessed with a particular Korean model called Rain. Turns out, his girlfriend is obssessed with Rain.

I glance at his vapid pretty face and wonder if he would have fans and if they would be so dumb. But yes, fans are undiscerning after all. Once they decide to obssess about you, they will obssess about you.

I should know. Look at my boss. Four appearances in a reality TV show, in which he never smiled, spoke stiffly and calmly jumped down the contestants' throat for a misstep, and he has acquired a fan base. He has a boyish face and he's pretty smart, but even he's disturbed and amazed at the reaction of these girls. (We stumbled on a chat site that has discussed everything from his eye colour to underwear size).

So anyway, fans will be fans. Empty inside and seeking to fill the emptiness with some idol's perceived perfection. Ah well. Haven't I done it like a million times myself?

Feet of clay, Hal my boy, feet of clay.

So anyway, now I have my affirmation set, I start tapping with purpose. The speech emerges on the screen. I read a few times, edit, and think it's time to give myself a break. A barrista has come up to clear the tables. I smile winningly at her and ask if I can just order from where I'm sitting.

Sure, Ma'am, she winks. I wink back. I love this place. My new office. A little expensive (you can't get a simple drink for under RM10 and my parking comes up to nearly RM20 when I spend the whole day there) but you know, you gotta give something, to get something.

So it's back to Sexton and I feel my heart twist and turn as I follow her words, without wine, without artifice, telling it like it is. My friends wonder why I'm so obssessed by this suicidal poet. I think, suicidal poet forsooth. She was a poet. And that's what matters.

I want to get a book of Lorca. And his In Search of Duende. Love. Darkness. Love. And the world spins on...

Then it's back to the computer screen. This time, I've got to look at my boss's comments to incorporate into the second speech. His speech. I do it in about 10 minutes. Then it's back to Sexton. In between, of course, I check my Facebook to look at the Status Updates and see what all my friends are up to and what new applications they have loaded. It makes me feel connected somehow. In between, I answer all the emails coming to me from the office. I edit what they ask me to edit, unearth old files they ask me to unearth and send on.

And I think, all you need is a wifi connection, some good coffee, your Facebook, a book of poetry.

Who wants my job?

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Fee fi fo fum
Now I'm borrowed
Now I'm numb

The Addict, Anne Sexton

I didn't go to the gym today. Which is news because I've been pretty good about it this whole week. Yes I have. But today I have a frog in my throat and a cough that goes on forever and I'm thinking, no, I'm not going to go through that again.

So I'm back home early for tea, and then some cough-en (it's such a potent cough linctus that you have to give them a heck of a lot of information about self, before they let you buy it).

Dope and some sleep. All a girl needs.

I'm re-reading The Four Agreements now. The first, of course, is to be impeccable with one's word. Which is like, really, really hard. When you exist in an atmosphere of evasions and half truths. Funny, I wouldn't have identified myself as a purveyor of half truths.

After all, tact is not my middle name. Yes, yes, Dins, I know it's Carol, but that's not what I'm talking about OK?

My friend Addy called me just now to chat. I told her I was in my jammies. I feel proud of the fact that it's barely six and I'm in my jammies.

Sometimes a few choice words sum up your life.

It's six o'clock and I'm in my jammies:

Implication: You're sick.

Implication: You must have a really nice boss.

Implication: You have no life.

Implication: You have nowhere to go, no one to see.

Implication: All of the above.

Fee fi fo fum, now I'm borrowed, now I'm numb.