Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Old Year is Dying, Let Him Die

I wish to sum up the year, but that requires reflection and its 11am in the morning - and I am in my nocturnal phase, which means I should be fast asleep now. But because Mum insisted I get up and have some breakfast, well the coffee is singing in my brain and I am up, up, up!

This year, I lived by default. I fell into a job because there was nothing better on offer - not that I regret everything about the job - I did meet some pretty amazing and interesting people and I did get to produce two issues of a magazine my way - I fell into flings, I ate my heart out over someone who didn't care and never would care.

Frankly, it all seems like a frantic lack of planning.

Well, I'm starting the next year with a plan. It's slowly solidifying and I'm feeling quite happy about it.

Life can simply happen to you like a traffic accident. Or you can take the wheel.

I'm taking the wheel.

Later for you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

What a weird day. I saw it in, puking my guts out and crawling into bed beside my mother. "Ma, I'm sick," I whispered as she moved back to make place for me. And then I shot out of bed again to puke some more. Dry heaves as my stomach had been effectively emptied by first episode a few minutes before.

I tossed and turned, my head in a vice, unbelievable pressure behind my eyes. Pain blotted out everything else. These things happen, sometimes.

And then suddenly, unaccountably, I fell fast asleep.

And today, well today, I wandered through the day, watching Christmas movie after Christmas movie, reading one of my Lucia novels (EF Benson is a fricking genius), working on yet another needlework project (I think this one will be for Helen, Simon's mother).

The day I was due to leave for JB I had dinner with my good friend A. We met at what has become our usual place in Taman Tun, and exchanged gifts. Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly considering the fact that we have known each other for 18 years and tend to communicate telepathically, both gifts were handmade. I cross stitched an eagle. She framed one of the few pictures of us together, complete with poem, meaningful words and scrapbook stick-ons. As she doesn't tend to make gifts (that's my weakness) it was more than meaningful. We chewed on our lamb shanks, emptied our glasses of Malbec and the conversation flowed like the wine.

After which I drove back through the relatively quiet highway and Mum had a fit cos I hadn't told her what time I was leaving and all she knew for sure was that I was definitely in KL at 6pm.

I arrived at one in the morning and she staggered out to open the gate as the dogs went crazy. I couldn't let them go, as they were still growly with each other and jealous (they have become significantly more well-behaved since then).

And now, it's the wee hours and I'm awake because there is something, something, something...on the edge of my consciousness and I don't know how to reach out and grab it, or if I should let it light softly, like a feather, on my shoulder.

Perhaps, the latter.

Mark's only present to me ever was his song that he bluetoothed to my phone, which I have subsequently transferred to my Ipod. And when I listen to it, that umbilical cord I thought was cut, twinges.

If music be the food of love, play on...

Never mind.

It is Christmas after all.

Or at least, Boxing Day.

And lemon cakes and moist chocolate cakes and chocolate chip cookies and puddings and mince pies abound.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sometimes a good friend is all you need

Mary is packing up to leave and I'm transcribing furiously. Furiously. This guy is chattering on about strategic active hedges, and I grit my teeth and type. Did I mention furiously? I pause the recording and look up longingly for a while.

"You leaving?"

"Not unless you want me to stay."

I grin.

"Stay. Please. Then we can have dinner and I can send you home."

She seats herself right down, and decides to go through her voluminous google alerts.

I resume typing. Bad English and all. I don't bother to edit. Too tired. Too fucking tired.

Mel leaves. Then Gerry. And we're alone by the skin of a second. Mary removes her fancy sequinned red purse which contains the all-important keys. We will be LOCKING UP. For the first time. I cram my water cup and coffee mug into an overflowing sink. Lady will be coming tomorrow to wash. Mary moves things around at her desk.

We switch off the lights. Zap ourselves out. And then I rush into the bathroom outside leaving her to get on with it. I come out and she's on her knees trying to jam the keys into their supposed sockets.

"Child, I think she gave me the wrong keys. I've never tried these but they don't seem to fit."

"Give it here."

I try. And try. And try. Maybe there's a knack to this. Maybe not. We look at each other in consternation. "Mel? She only just left. Maybe she hasn't gotten far."

Mary calls her. Mel is already in her car driving away. She will call the boys to see if anyone is in Marketplace. If not she'll come back herself to effect rescue. By now, Mary and I are sitting cross legged on the welcome carpet outside. Except there's no welcome carpet. So we're basically sitting on the floor. Laughing at each other.

"Do you think Dana did this on purpose? Gave me the wrong keys cos I bugged her for them so much. Shoved this unlikely pair in my hands while thinking, he he he I got you, just wait till you try these?"

Now Dana is this inoffensive nice Indian girl. The mousy kind who hides behind her dupatta. You know what I'm talking about. I say, yes, yes, typical Indian drama queen. Maybe she will come here singing then run to one corner and then the other, shade her eyes, and sing...aaaaaaaaaaaaah (you must imagine the wobbliness of the aaaaahs)

Mary and I are rolling on the floor. Charles calls. He's the one coming to our rescue. He's a bit tipsy (they have been at it at Marketplace since 6. It's half 8 now) But he's coming up anyways. He does. Greets us sitting on the floor and shakes his head. Tries our keys just to make sure that the two ditzy females didn't get it wrong. We didn't.

So he locks up for us like the nice boy he is.

And says he might see me at Backyard later. If I'm going. Tired as I am, I tend to drag my ass to Backyard on Mondays just for the sheer punishment of it.

Mary and I make our way to Devi's Corner. Hungry as I am, I tell her my ghost story through mouthfuls of roti canai and mutton curry. Suddenly she remembers:

"Our boy is getting married. He was hanging around the other when you were paying and I wondered what he wanted, and he told me he was going to be away for a few days...going back to India to get married."

We look at each other. If our boy is going to get married, we have to give him an ang pow. Thing is, we don't have any red packets. Or white packets. Or even brown packets. I suggest we nip across the road to see if they have any likely looking envelopes. Mary is all for coming back on another day. But I say, no, we must give him the ang pow before he leaves, not after he comes back.

(For those not in the know, our boy is the best waiter in Devi's Corner. The one comes charging along when he sees us, providing us with water, napkins, and all the attention he possibly can, while attending to 100 or so other customers at Devi's. He's the reason we're platinum card holders there).

Anyway, we are nothing if not subtle. After asking him when he is leaving, we hurtle across the street, look for envelopes, find only ugly brown ones, ask the nice Bangladeshi fler there to show us other envelopes, he shows us some shocking shocking pink ones, Mary blanches, but I think they look I buy the packet, RM1 for all 25...and we take our own envelopes, write touching notes on the cover, stuff our money into it....then go across the street from him and signal for him to cross the street, present him with the envelopes....ahhh furtive....ahhh drama queens, I hear the tablas and the veenas...

And then Mary slips into the DVD shop and I follow her. She's promised to buy one, just one...or two, no more than two...and the first one is there and the second is sorrylar miss, not arrived yet....and she starts leafing through a pile and I grab her and drag her out of there bodily (I have to, if Mary gets going, we could be here all night).

And I send her home and hoping that one of my other colleagues doesn't come to Backyard with Charlie boy. "Mark doesn't like him lar...but then, knowing Mark he'd have to recognise him before he remembers he doesn't like him..."

Mary: "Oh yeah?"

Jen: "Yeah. Remember how hard I had to work to get him to remember me? I mean, he'd come out to get the morning paper and stumble over me at this front doorstep....Jen, what are you doing here? Me (giggling sheepishly): Oh I just happened to be in the neighbourhood...and then he goes to his neighbourhood mamak to have a teh tarek and there I am behind giant shades and a broadsheet....and then he's driving and glances in his rearview and there I am...

"Child, you're a stalker."

I acknowledge the truth with a sigh: "Yeah."

And we collapse in our seats laughing.

And I don't care that tomorrow is going to be even more complicated than today.

And oh yeah, I decided to give Backyard a miss after all.