Monday, January 31, 2011

The Magician

The Magician does not fail when his victim discovers his perfidy. Because obviously, someone who has swallowed something once, will swallow something else again. You refine the liquid. Add sugar. Salt. Pathos. Layers. Wheels within wheels.

You draw from that stream of invention.

After the first unmasking the victim, who now knows that you have naught but treachery in your heart, colludes in the farce.

I know this is unreal but I'll continue to pretend because it's like reading a book. I know it's fiction, but I'm lost in the plot and I don't want it to end.

Yes, I pretend to search for the truth.

I say I want to know what's what.

But really, it's comfortable here, all caught up in my illusions, in your web of lies, and I'll tuck the anomalies away, the stray strands that don't quite fit in the tapestry.

Snip, snip, there, that's much better. A neat little picture.

I snipped too much?

Left a hole?

Don't worry, more thread back and forth, back and forth, a little darning, a little damning, a mock tantrum, and we're all better.

Now who'd like some tea?

Trust Jennifer. She's the only one who would be dumb enough to swallow this story.

The Magician only fails when you lose interest in the plot and wander off halfway, not caring about the great, dramatic conclusion, or the working out of clues littered along the way. Or who gets who in the end or who was lying.

Because let's face it, they were all lying, weren't they? They were all in on it. They were all watching and laughing from the sidelines.

It's a sort of Truman.

But I'm bored now. The Magician failed.

I can't even pretend to care. Maybe I never actually did.

So where's my remote?


Friday, January 28, 2011

Call Me, Call Me, Baby Baby Call Me Now...

Oooooh the place was divine, and the massage (OK my calves are still aching for that which apparently is a comment on my state of health). And after that I drifted out in a haze of aromatic essential oils to the KLCC to browse through the various books at Kino (why would anyone go to the KLCC if not for Kino? I mean, I know people do, but why?).

Anyways, I bought four books (most of them had discounts attached but they still came up to a hefty sum and I think I've exhausted my tax deductions book-wise, for the year, and it's only January) and was thinking, geez, I'm hungry, what I would like more than anything right now is a sandwich, a healthy sandwich.

Now I know there are a lot of you out there who think, materialise, just like that.

It doesn't often happen for me.

So there I was thinking, mmmmmm sandwich...when I happened to see a CEO I used to cover (one of the nicest ever) sitting near a sandwich place. Turned out, he owned it with his wife, who jumped up to go get me a sandwich and drink (on the house) and it was hands down one of the best I'd ever had. Salmon. I can still taste it.


And then I went to collect a check I was asked to come and collect today and here, for the first time, something to ruffle the placidity of a smooth, unbroken day.

Check? What check? Asked the lady from the finance department. Who did some furious phoning to discover that hey, yeah, there was money owing to me, but she couldn't issue a check because I hadn't sent them an invoice.

Grrrr....there I was, illegally parked downstairs, thinking I could just nip in and get it. Neways, she said, email me the invoice and I'll bank it in. Fair do. I hated going there if only because there was absolutely no parking to be had for love or money and you always ran a risk of parking tickets or worse, when you left your car unattended in a spot where it was clearly not meant to be.

Anyway, she was nice, so the ruffles were not large and in fact, they smoothed away all at once and I drove home still in this semi somnolent state, tranquility filling the car like seven-minute frosting.

Back to tea and brownie biscuits and The Magus and my creative projects and my little doggie (who's fast asleep next to me twitching)and my beautiful new bookshelf (I can't help it, every time I look at it, I smile) and my clean, clean room (it's been a while) and my relatively organised desk and answering emails so now I don't have to feel so guilty anymore and the possibility of an article on sandwiches, and, and, and....

FYI, if you're reading this and you're sort of female (or pretending to be) and you qualify for a Ladies Night, would you like to go with me to the spa (it's right in the heart of KL) on Wednesday night? There's a hot stone massage (or body scrub or something else) followed by chocolate fondue and we can bring our own wine and make a night of it.

Sounds like heaven to me.

It ends in February, so if you're keen, call me.

No really, call me. (making phone hand on ear)

Call me.


Chubs came over today because I called and asked him to and he helped me assemble my little bookshelf. Now I'm having the best time emptying boxes and deciding what goes on my new shelf (hey, I can see all my Shakespeare all together and now I can go ahead and read the Tempest (just cost the last novel and the present one is using it as a metaphor and shucks, I never read the play afore), pick a poetry book from the top shelf which is devoted entirely to poetry (OK, it's a very narrow bookshelf, but still, I got a whole shelf of poetry books isn't that cool?). I love seeing my Virginia Woolfs, my Jeanette Wintersons, my Natalie Goldbergs, all neatly arranged. To say nothing of the literary biographies or autobiographies (Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anne Sexton (but of course), Jane Austen, Arthur Miller, Robert Graves (and goodbye to all this too), some Joan Didions, some other books of essays (I love essays, depending on who wrote them).

And with all the arranging, my room is still in an advanced state of chaos.

Sigh. Now I need to find room for my Pico Iyers, and see whether I can fit the printer on my desk now that the bulk of the books have been removed.

All done now.


Later for you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Still Life With Books

Oright. And now for a real post. I am back in KL now, slowly doing the rounds. And I mean s-l-o-w-l-y. Sometimes people from the outside bug me, expecting me to match their speed, but I shrug them off like butterflies.

Slow is the new fast.

N'um saying?

I've written all of one article, gone for all of one meeting.

Tomorrow, I finally cash in the "relaxing massage" voucher Prudential gave me for my birthday. Today, I called for directions.

Oh life.

I've started to read furiously again (and not Harry Potter) and have so far finished Tempest Tost and Leaven of Malice (both by Robertson Davies, a Canadian writer my cousin Eve was intent on introducing me to, and whom, btw, I absolutely love), am now quarterways through John Fowles's The Magus, which is pretty intense (and then I have a stack of books that my Unkley gave me for my birthday on the side table, as yet unread (including a memoir by RK Narayan). I've also discovered Pico Iyer and the thing to do when you discover an author is to buy not one but two of her/his books. So I did. The Global Soul and The Open Road.

Can't wait!

I've also heaped a pile of books in a box to give away to charity. I thinned out my closet (one large garbage bag), thinned out my shoes (another large garbage bag) and finally, went through my drawers and removed all the odds and ends that have been in there for years but which have served (and will serve) no foreseeable purpose (the biggest garbage bag so far). All three were dumped in the charity recycling bin near my house. The books are in a box. I promised Addy she could come browse through them before I called Salvation Army or whatnot to come do the honours. I want to go through all the bookshelves and pick out all my books that are past their sell by date. I included the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Blue Book which I bought from Payless Books one year when I convinced myself I was two steps away from being an alcoholic.

Huh! All drama. I can't sustain the whole alcoholic thing for very long. Anyways, it has peeped out from the shelves long enough. So in it went.

As I've still got a lot of books stored in boxes (lack of space) I went out to Ikea yesterday and bought a (drum roll please!) bookshelf. Yes, I'm aware of the irony, giving away books and buying a bookshelf at the same time. But I need to clear some space on my desk and get the books out of the boxes. I'm surrounded by books (with at least 10 new and not read yet) yet you can't unleash me in a bookshop or I turn into the Book Monster....ahhh, books, more books, more books, more books!

I empathise with Tony Curtis (the Irish poet, not the American actor):

How did I end up like this?

A watcher of skies
and fields that run to clouds;
a keeper of stillness
a moonface at the window,
a love gone to darkness,
a still life with books.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sick Script

People often ask me how they ought to act when a friend reveals she's been diagnosed with a serious illness. Generally they respond to their pal in one of two ways: plug in, or freak out. Plugger-inners would rather err on the side of doing too much for a sick friend than too little. Freaker-outers worry about screwing up an unspoken code of behavior, or fear that somehow they'll contract a disease themselves. There is a third category who seem to get a perverse thrill from your bad luck. It's like schadenfreude, but more like sickenfreude. These folks almost feel pleasure when you become weak or dependent. I say, Nuke 'em. End those relationships. No poisonous energy needed now, thank you very much.

I was shocked by how clueless some people became when speaking to me about illness and disease. It may have been their nerves talking, but I was mystified by acquaintances who compared another's scourge to my own. Ah, the foolish things even the most well-intentioned people say:

"I don't know what to say!" (How about, "I heard and I care"?)

"But you sound okay."

"Chemo drip? At least it wasn't a portho-cath."

"That's nothing. My sister-in-law's mother's brother got bitten by a scorpion, and..."

"You have (INSERT ILLNESS HERE)? Well, I know how you feel because I broke my leg when I was seven."

"I know how you feel. My cat had leukemia."

"I know how you feel. I have symptoms of lupus. It's not actual lupus, but it's still pretty intense."

Basically any sentence that starts with "I know how you feel" is not a fantastic opener. Also unwelcome: visitors with colds. I know you want to show up for me , but don't you know better? I have a completely compromised immune system. That means it doesn't work. Your sneeze will become my pneumonia. Thanks for coughing on me. Now excuse me while I go Purell my entire body.

Then there's the whole contingency of silver lining-ers who can't make psychic room for the possibility of unwellness. They say things like:

"Well, look on the bright side..."

"Well, at least you still have all ten fingers."

"Well, at least it's not cancer."

At least it's not cancer? Cancer has funding for research. Cancer has cures. People have heard of cancer. I'm almost jealous of cancer. Autoimmune disease may be different from cancer, but no one should have to suffer through either one.

Sometimes during a casual conversation, a friend will say something like "Oh, I had the worst flu..." then cut themselves off in embarrassment. "I can't believe I'm complaining about the flu after everything you've gone through!" Don't feel too guilty. I hear myself bitching about my sore joints or funky nose and then think, There are so many people worse off than me. Why am I kvetching. Everyone has a different scale of suffering. But if you're're right. Compared to whatever's bugging you, mine is probably much, much worse.

Still, I say, better to attempt to connect than avoid. If you're not sure what to say, I'll offer up a script, an illness Mad Lib of sorts. While all outreach is welcome, personally, I prefer a phone call. If you must write, send a truly thoughtful e-mail or a handwritten card. So old-fashioned, I know, but it's a valuable memento for your sick pal to hold on to while she wallows in bed watching repeats of Montel.

Okay, the script:

Please leave a message after the beep. (This is the other thing - don't expect your friend to pick up the phone if she's feeling rotten. Caller ID to the rescue, once again)

"Hi, (PATIENT'S NAME), it's (YOUR NAME). I heard about your (SICKNESS SITUATION). I'd really like to help you, but I'm not sure how. If you want to hang out, or if I can bring you food or something, I'd be really happy to. But for now, I just want to say that this sucks, and I'm thinking about you, and you don't have to call me back. The end."

The point is to tell your loved one that you're aware and you care (same goes for any bad news - job loss, breakup, death of a parent), Don't assume you'll have to hang out in hospital waiting rooms to change bedpans. Use your personal skill set to help your friend. If you love music, make your pal a great CD. If you have a car, offer a pickup or a drop-off at a doctor's office. If you have cash, by all means, buy an expensive gift. All efforts are appreciated. There are plenty of ways to show your love without impersonating Florence Nightingale.

Excerpted from Are You My Guru? by Wendy Shanker

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hey Mean Kitty!

Does this mean kitty remind you of anyone?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well Pip Pip Then! (And I Meant It To Sting)

I took down the Christmas tree and crib yesterday. Yes, it was long overdue, but every time I thought I'd do it, I didn't. The thing with taking down the Christmas tree is bringing down the boxes to store the decorations, the tree itself, the various figures that go into the manger. Once you bring down the boxes, that's half the battle.

So while Mum watched some really dumb Bollywood offering starring a very young Akshay Kumar dressed as Don Johnson, supposedly at college, with college girls dressed like seven-year-olds, I systematically wrapped each precious statue (hey, our manger is from Paris, a present for the Big M from my first trip there) and stuffed it into the original box it came with (I remember luggage was pretty easy as I was flying business class....ahhhh the good ole days). Then I went about the slightly more complicated task of stripping the tree of it finery. Quite depressing.

But then it's already a week from 12th night. Last year I toyed with the idea of making cards for 12th night (after all it used to be a big deal in England before according to the Jane Austen Christmas book Jackie gave me) but of course, once I'm in JB all effort flies out the door. I don't feel like exerting myself enough to design the cards (although I found a lovely picture of two masks for the cover from a year ago).

Today I fed my compost heap with red sand. Red? Surely that couldn't be rich in nutrients. Mum said it didn't matter. The rest of the stuff in the big black bin would provide enough nutrients. The red sand would turn black. I love composting. If only because, for the first time, things like eggshells and potato skins excite me. I look at them and, my compost is going to be so rich.

Unfortunately, I left my herb seeds in KL but the next time I come to JB I will bring them to plant in those pretty little Christmas-themed pots. At the moment the basil and mint are doing splendidly.

The original basil plant died but like a phoenix rising from the ashes of its dead self, the dead tree has given birth to no less than five individual basil plants, all flourishing.

The newspaper contacted me with an assignment for Monday. That sort of makes it concrete. Kat wrote to say she and Mike and thinking of coming in July.

So yes, I'm slowly coming alive again.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Almost Tragic Consequences of Carelessness

I'll be the first to say it. It was a bad idea. To leave Toto unsupervised in the drain while I took the dogs for a walk. But for weeks he had obligingly walked up and down the drain, not able to crawl out and not even attempting to escape. Of course, during all these times, I'd been there with Titi in my lap, keeping my gimlet eye fixed on him. Which he knew. So he lulled me into a false sense of security. I thought I could leave him in the drain and come back to find him there again.

When Maggotty had been walked and tied up again, I spotted Titi, still in the same place I left her, doing her best impression of a statue. She hadn't even covered a few inches of ground. I glanced at the drain.

No Toto!

Uh oh. I peered under the cement drain covers.

Still no Toto!

"The turtle has escaped!" I told Mum, by the bye as I made my way out to look at the drain and beyond, beyond our garden. Mum clicked her tongue in a non-committal manner which would have fooled anyone not acquainted with the Big M, into thinking that she didn't care.

Thing is, the turtle has been hers for coming on 14 years. That is, if it's not 16. She went out to check the drains outside. Her presence drew the attention of the inhabitants of next door who stuck there heads out of one window each and asked what she was about. When she explained that she was looking for her turtle, one of them came out to join in the search. Soon the grounds were crawling with turtle searchers. Head down, bum up, a choir of "Toto, Toto!".

To no avail.

I, being made of less stern stuff, gave up the search and went upstairs to read some more Wodehouse. Mum, armed with a stick to root around behind the pots, kept searching. She doesn't give up easily.

Finally the calm before the storm air was rent with cries of: "Jenny! Jenny!"

I thought she was calling me for tea.

No. She had spotted a dark green shell behind two large pots. "There he is. Take him. And I bent over and scooped up the truant turtle. What Toto normally does when you discover him after he has made a bid for freedom is bite and scratch.

Tis true, he opened his mouth and extended his claws, but seeing Mum there, he stifled his naturally savage instincts and allowed himself to be placed in his tank without much of a struggle.

"Wah, St. Jude ah, very fast. St. Anthony didn't do anything." Mum said.

Yeah. I nodded. Nor did St. Francis of Assisi, whom you would have would be the natural port of call for lost turtles.

No matter. Toto was home.

Mum hollered over the fence to tell the other searcher that the turtle had been recovered.

Peace descended once again, on Jalan Gertak Merah.

And then it began to rain.

Oojah Cum Spiff

Lord Emsworth stepped back from the window. He had seen sufficient. The pyjamas had in some curious way set the coping-stone on his dismay, and he was now in a condition approximating to panic. That Baxter should be so irresistibly impelled by his strange mania as actually to omit to attire himself decently before going out on one of these flower-pot-hurling expeditions of his seemed to make it all so sad and hopeless. The dreamy peer was no poltroon, but he was past his first youth, and it came to him very forcibly that the interviewing and pacifying of secretaries who ran amok was young man's work. He stole across the room and opened the door. It was his purpose to put this matter into the hands of an agent. And so it came about that Psmith was aroused some few minutes later from slumber by a touch on the arm and sat up to find his host's pale face peering at him in the weird light of early morning.

"My dear fellow," quavered Lord Emsworth.

Psmith, like Baxter was a light sleeper; and it was only a moment before he was wide awake and exerting himself to do the courtesies.

"Good morning," he said pleasantly. "Will you take a seat?"

"I am extremely sorry to be obliged to wake you, my dear fellow," said his lordship, "but the fact of the matter is, my secretary, Baxter, has gone off his head."

"Much?" inquired Psmith, interested.

"He is out in the garden in his pyjamas, throwing flower-pots through my window."



"Oh, flower-pots!" said Psmith, frowning thoughtfully, as if he had expected it would be something else. "And what steps are you proposing to take? That is to say," he went on, "unless you wish him to continue throwing flower-pots."

"My dear fellow...!"

"Some people like it," explained Psmith. "But you do not? Quite so, quite so. I understand perfectly. We all have our likes and dislikes. Well, what would you suggest?"

"I was hoping that you might consent to go down - er - having possibly armed yourself with a good stout stick - and induce him to desist and return to bed."

"A sound suggestion in which I can see no flaw," said Psmith approvingly. "If you will make yourself at home in here - pardon me for issuing invitations to you in your own house - I will see what can be done. I have always found Comrade Baxter a reasonable man, ready to welcome suggestions from outside sources, and I have no doubt that we shall easily be able to reach some arrangement."

He got out of bed, and having put on his slippers, and his monocle, paused before the mirror to brush his hair.

"For," he explained, "one must be natty when entering the presence of a Baxter."

He went to the closet and took from among a number of hats a neat Homburg. Then, having selected from a bowl of flowers on the mantlepiece a simple white rose, he pinned it in the coat of his pyjama suit and announced himself ready.

(PG Wodehouse)

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Beasts Are Restive

Barnyard animals? Sheesh! Two days ago, the peaceful morning is shattered with Mum's shrieks. There is a squirrel rather than a rat in our rat trap and it is raising Cain. When I finally trickle down at about half past lunch (I make it a practise to sleep in rather while I'm here) the little animal has already injured its nose, hurling itself bodily at the mesh walls of the trap. Mum is too afraid to let it go: "What if it bites?" and I (never at my best when I've just woken up) can't figure out the mechanism. So she has to come show me what to do, while standing far away enough not to be attacked, and I get on with it.

When the trap is open the squirrel shoots out of it so quickly, all I see is a streak of brown fur as it scurries up a tree and out of sight. I smile in a self satisfied manner and tell Mum that is the last we will see of that bold piece. Several hours in the trap would have served as good a deterrent as any.

This particular squirrel made it a practise to sneak in the house and attack the bananas. We had been surprised by the neatly peeled skins on the floor. Since when had the rats taken to peeling bananas? And when we caught the squirrel and realised who the intruder actually was and it all made sense, I thought at least, that we had seen the back of that pest.

(I wonder if this is the same squirrel who pelted Julie with rambutan seeds one dark night after she had been watching some scary ghost documentary on the Discovery Channel?)

Stupid squirrel! It was back again today, upsetting bowls, and raising a ruckus in the kitchen.

Apparently it hasn't learned its lesson.

But we are not the only ones to be assailed by the various forms of wildlife in the area. Apparently, next door they are battling bats in the roof and bullfrogs in the hall. Also lizards but as geckos as such a fixture in nearly any Malaysian house (unless you do things like poison them) I think this should have hardly been worth mentioning.

It has been perilously near the second deluge today, as it rained and rained and then for some variety, rained some more. The naughty Maggotty boy has been sitting in the rain. When he gets wet enough he comes in to rub himself on Mum's car, or if I'm within rubbing distance, on me.

Elliot on the other hand has no desire to offer up his rump to further wetness. Even without that he's shivering. I just gave him their towel to curl up on.

It's a bleak, dark, dismal day (I keep telling Mum it's winter over here and she agrees) and right about now I could use a hot scotch and lemon. Or maybe a hot brandy.

Something vaguely festive and alcoholic.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Who You Are

They whisper
and you think
they're talking
about you.


They're just talking.

It's words
that spill over
each other
and words
don't mean
a thing

I should know.

Who you are
is beyond the words
it's beyond the doors
slammed in your face
and beyond the ones
who turn away.

That's not who you are.
That has nothing to do with you.

Don't let them fool you
don't let them make you think
that you're beaten
that this is it
and you're done.

you're not.

That's not who you are.

The first time I saw you
I saw you!


And I thought,

You wanna know
I still think,

Who you are
is beyond them.

They may never see
But it doesn't matter
It doesn't change

I can describe you with words
it wouldn't tell anyone
words never do.

So remember,



Don't buy into the nightmare
Don't buy into the lies
Don't let them make you forget




Thursday, January 06, 2011

Eggshells and Onion Rinds

Natalie Goldberg had this to say about the process of composting:

It takes a while for our experience to sift through our consciousness. For instance, it is hard to write about being in love in the midst of a mad love affair. We have no perspective. All we can say is, "I'm madly in love," over and over again. It is also hard to write about a city we just moved to; it's not yet in our body. We don't know our new home, even if we can drive to the drugstore without getting lost. We have not lived through three winters there or seen the ducks leave in fall and return to the lakes in spring. Hemingway wrote about Michigan while sitting in a cafe in Paris.

Our senses by themselves are dumb. We take in experience, but they need the richness of sifting for a while through our consciousness and through our whole bodies. I call this "composting". Our bodies are garbage heaps: we collect experience, and from the decomposition of the thrown-out eggshells, spinach leaves, coffee grinds, and old steak bones of our minds come nitrogen, heat and very fertile soil. Out of this fertile soil bloom our poems and stories. But this does not come all at once. It takes time. Continue to turn over and over the organic details of your life until some of them fall through the garbage of discursive thoughts to the solid ground of black soil.

When I have students who have written many pages and read them in class, and the writing is not all necessarily good but I see that they are exploring their minds for material, I am glad. I know those people will continue and are not just obsessed with "hot" writing, but are in the process of practice. They are raking their minds and taking their shallow thinking and turning it over. If we continue to work with this raw matter, it will draw us deeper and deeper into ourselves, but not in a neurotic way. We will begin to see the rich garden we have inside us and use that for writing.

Often I will stab many times at something I want to say. For instance, you can look in my notebooks from August through December 1983 and see that I attempted several times a month to write about my father dying. I was exploring and composting the material. Then suddenly, and I can't say how, in December I sat transfixed at the Croissant Express in Minneapolis and a long poem about that subject poured out of me. All the disparate things I had to say were suddenly fused with energy and unity - a bright red tulip shot out of the compost. Katagiri Roshi said: "Your little will can't do anything. It takes Great Determination. Great Determination doesn't mean just you making an effort. It means the whole universe is behind you and with you - the birds, trees, sky, moon, and ten directions." Suddenly, after much composting, you are in alignment with the stars or the moment or the dining room chandelier above your head, and your body opens and speaks.

Understanding this process cultivates patience and produces less anxiety. We aren't running everything, not even the writing we do. At the same time, we must keep practicing. We must continue to work the compost pile, enriching it and making it fertile so that something beautiful may bloom and so that our writing muscles are in good shape to ride the universe when it moves through us.

So I go to the large, large bin with my own tea bags and egg shells, dead leaves and onion skins, prawn shells and papaya shavings. Also some sand that Mum poured in, because she thought it was becoming a bit too, well, noisome. I take out the big stick and mix it all up and dream about when it would have broken down to soil that I can use. And I glance over at the turtle tank which is full of water, rich in nutrients, to speed the plants on their merry way up. And I dream of the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme which will spring up in my Christmas-themed pots (RM4.95 a pot)that may or may not get added to my Christmas baskets. (I think of new things every year).

I haven't done any mind-composting for a long time. My notebooks are all in KL. Here, I lie on the bed and read Harry Potter (all done now), or listen to songs on Youtube, or sit with Titi the turtle on my lap, dabbing aloe vera on her injured back foot (Toto the turtle has a lot of excess energy and frequently turns vicious). Titi sits placidly on my lap, the water dripping into my jeans, her little head extended slightly, and she dreams.

Toto, whom I've let out in the drain where I can watch him, is on a quest to get out of the drain. I watch him try to scramble up sides that are too high. I watch him fall on his shell and then right himself. I watch him use the length of hose pipe that has been carelessly left in the drain, for leverage and managing to scramble up on the wrong side of the drain (the one that won't lead to freedom). I watch him walk up and down proudly (I escaped the drain, I escaped the drain!) and favour me with a contemptuous look.

I watch him do all this while I pat Titi on the shell and speak softly to her. She's a good turtle. She's my pet. The other, well, if we could build a sufficiently large enclosure in which I could let him go every day, I'm sure he'd be less frustrated. A lot less.

The days are dark and the rains pour down. Everything is wet, dripping. The dogs are sleepy in this winter weather and they yawn and curl up.

Like me.

I yawn and curl up with a book and then fall asleep, my mouth open, drooling onto the pillow.

Mum's cries of "Jenny, wake up and come and have some tea!" fail to penetrate.

So I'll lie here and compost for a little while longer.

Oh Wow, You Mean It's Next Year Already?

Is it time yet? Is it time to go back? It probably is as the people who avoided calling me in December because I asked them not to, have started sending me tentative enquiries:

"Jennifer, are you back? Are you ready for work? Interviews next week; is that OK?"

Does that mean the holiday is over?

Technically I haven't really started the New Year. That's may be why when Mum asked me when a particular tub of yogurt expires, I glanced at the date (11-1-2011) and said:

"Next year."

And Mum grabbed it from me, then shot me one of her: "Are you mad?" looks.

Oh right. It's already 2011. Who'd have thought?

OK, I'll update this in earnest when I get back to KL.

It should be an interesting year.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Deep Peace of the Running Wave

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
(Celtic prayer)

Expecto Patronum

I decided a few days ago to re-read Harry Potter. The whole series (I'm now on the 6th). The thing about re-reading Harry Potter is that you have to prepare yourself for total immersion. Obsession.

This is the first time I'm re-reading the series since Deathly Hallows came out, what was it, a couple of years ago? Now I'm reading more slowly, I actually got to appreciate Order of the Phoenix.

I find Harry Potter terribly tragic though. I find myself tearing up on every other page.

Other than making me a complete basket case for the duration of the seven books, that is, assuming I don't pick up Philosopher's Stone again the moment I finish Deathly Hallows, it also has other unintended side effects. Like if someone makes me mad, I wave my non-existent wand at them and scream: "Crucio!"

Silently of course.

Which, as everyone knows, is an Unforgivable Curse and could land me in Azkaban.

Probably for life.

Also, and more importantly, it's not very nice.

What's really weird is that it's New Year and I don't have any New Year thoughts. Whatsoever. I hunkered down on Mum's bed and read my Harry Potter and listened to the phone ringing away as various relatives and friends called to wish the Big M.

When I asked her how many people she spoke to today, she said, more than 10 rather gleefully, ticking them off with her fingers, then running out of fingers.

If you have more calls than fingers, I reckon that makes you a popular person.

I was busy reading my book, so I wouldn't know.

I got a really nice text from someone by mistake. My phone didn't recognise the number and when I skipped to the end of that long message I realised I didn't know who this person was.

So I replied thanking her for the message, pointing out that it was probably sent to the wrong person and wishing her a Happy New Year anyway.

Which is what I'd like to wish y'all too.

Happy New Year.

And now I need to get back to my Half Blood Prince.

Mischief managed.