Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Maybe tomorrow

It's a dismal Christmas I'm seeing in this year by myself. Funny but today, of all days of the year, I feel truly alone. All that frenzied running around,  'doing Christmas' with various people, all for nothing.

Doesn't change the fact that I'm truly alone.

Doesn't change the fact that I choose to be here by myself rather than in a house full of people.

I put Arnold in my lap and stroked him for a while but he seemed uneasy and eventually he pulled away.

I have only enough energy to scan the acres of nothingness that is my life. The life I chose. The life characterised by negation.

Maybe tomorrow. Things will be different. In spite of it all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Death, and the variants thereof

Mark texted to tell me that his uncle Eddie just died. He didn't say how. He just told me he was due to get on stage in about a half second. Eddie was young. I'd met him before. Lived in Perth. And he wanted so much to come home. Over there he worked and slept. Not much of a life outside the two.

And he was so lonely. He accumulated his leave for the year and came back to Malaysia. He would follow Mark around the musician's circuit. Or they would go fishing.

Mark sounded sad and in shock. But when with the help of my sometimes not so  trusty GPS I found this place there he was, playing with Alvin, as nonchalant as a Christmas decoration. About the only  indication I had that something was out of the ordinary was a song he chose to sing to end the first set: Swing low sweet chariot...looking to carry me home.
And just like that another person extinguished, falling into that deep abyss from whence no stories emerge.

This year has been full death and I just can't seem to find the people who fell in. I'm sure there must be some pattern in all this randomness. I just don't know what it is.

And I'm so tired.

Please,  there's only a few more days in the year.

Please,  no more.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The trick is to meander

I've finished the cover story. Of course, it's not finished, not really. It's just that I've tied up the first draft with a bow, and sent it on to Anna. To read, perchance to scream...ay, there's the rub. For in that scream of death, what nightmares may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal, cornbread, ah, there's the respect, that makes the tragedy of an overly long story that probably needs to be longer. No matter. Can always add. And I'm supposed to call this Datuk guy tomorrow to step up and spew quotes.

I've taken to buying stuff. I'm Christmas shopping at the moment (bought lotsa stuff today) and I still haven't even covered everyone I'm supposed to be buying for. Ah me, there's the rub. I bought another ring for me though. So now I have one red, one blue, one green and one silver. Yummers. I love my silver ring. I am constantly stopping to admire and adjust it on my small small fingers.

I thought this weekend I would concentrate on the dogs. They needed to be bathed (ugh ticks galore. Me not being around has been bad for the mutts). Their beds needed to be bathed as well (the ticks got onto the beds and the dogs were heartily avoiding them). Elliot has developed various wounds all over his body from excessive scratching and biting. I keep dabbing antibiotic cream on said wounds. Poor boy. Every time I think I got them all, he's opened up a new one and they bloom on his skin like a lot of pink roses.

So, anyway. I don't know where I will spend Christmas. Probably alone and after I will take a drive down to JB to be in time for Chubs's tea ceremony. Maybe I will find something congenial to occupy me. Maybe I won't. I still haven't moseyed on upstairs to get my leave form and apply for leave. Which I need to do, pretty soon.

What I've learned about holidays is don't have any obligatory to-do list and don't sign your money off somewhere to something that obliges you to go there every day. Instead, meander through the holiday, read your books and meander. That's good advice, no?

I came back with a cold but I think it's all done now.

I may go to Backyard tonight. But then again, I might not.

Later for you.

Friday, November 29, 2013


So I planned a day at the beach, in fact cleared my whole day so I wouldn't have to make tracks till about 4.30. And what should happen? The wind should blow up a gale making it close to impossible to sit out on the beach without getting blown away. But I persisted. I sat at the wooden seats that was in the hotel restaurant, facing the beach and determinedly finished my Dorothy Wordsworth. I even wrote a letter to Katherine. But then, I slunk back to my room to do some other things on my to-do list. I even ordered room service (see how low I've sunk?).

But then I decided to spend whatever time I had left on the beach. And I made tracks for it with my needlework and book. I read a poem and did my needlework. The wind, while still high, had died down somewhat. There were other people on the beach, rearranging the deck chairs to get whatever sliver of sun they could manage. They got more than a sliver. Most of them seemed nice and toasted. Speaking of which I find myself delicately roasted around the edges. Despite glopping on loads of sunscreen. Oh well. Now you'll know I went for a holiday.

This evening I searched out the famous Cicada artisans market. Because everybody insists that is the one place in Hua Hin you HAVE to go. But I was sadly disappointed. Not only was the stuff overpriced, it wasn't very artisanal to begin with. It seemed that by virtue of being Cicada, they could charge twice or three times what they charged at the night market. And Sarah warned me that artisans don't like to haggle. After taking a gander at the prices, I sighed and walked around feeling lost. Part of me said, the reason I'm not seeing anything worth buying is because I have already written everything off. But this feeling persisted, nonetheless.

At last, I decided that, if nothing else, I could at least eat here. Here too, Cicada had to make things difficult. You can't just go buy what you want from the stalls. Oh no. You have to get 200 baht worth of coupons and then walk around to see if there is anything that catches your fancy. And if nothing, you can always cash in your coupons. Provided you do so on the same day.

I did have a nice mango and sticky rice there. But that was about it.

Oh I forgot to tell you, this nice Canadian lady told me that Cicada was walking distance, only about a kilometre away, no problem. Well, I walked and walked and then walked some more. Came to a pub called Lost, which was how I felt so I smiled at the irony. And then I found it....I guess part of my judgement was clouded by the fact that I was so footsore.

But here's the thing. I had already decided that if I didn't like anything at Cicada (actually the possibility never entered my mind, I thought I would like at least one or two things there) what I would be getting from the night market.

So...I guess it's back to the nightmarket (for the 3rd time, no less) tomorrow. Oh well, having been to Cicada, I now appreciate the unpretentiousness of the night market.

I have planned my day (again) so I can maximise my time on the beach. Hopefully, tomorrow, the weather will be plascent. I know, that's not a word but that's the word I feel like using.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

In Hua Hin

I'm in Hua Hin now. Sitting in front of a computer that keeps translating every page I look up to Swedish. Those frigging Swedes seem to have put an override command on everything and it makes me see red. The tourists over here are not that friendly. I have only managed to talk to one - this Canadian lady who is volunteering with her husband on the Thai-Burma border. She's really nice and different in a good way.

As for the others, they look fat, Germanic and self-satisfied. Sometimes they are accompanied with a young Thai/Cambodian/Burmese girl, in which case, the self satisfaction deepens.

For the most part, I like this place. I guess what I expected was artist villages and hipster cafes - but the artist village only opens on Friday (so no, haven't been there yet) and the night market, well, I've made a few bad choices there. I have sent out a bunch of postcards today and will be sending out two more. Was waiting on an address...and the lack of wi-fi here is amazing. But I like the people - they're mostly gentle and polite and if I have to make connections, I guess it's better to make it with the locals, than the self-satisfied, oil running down their bodies, barbecued tourists. Ugh.

I haven't spent as much time as I would like by the beach. Which is where I'm heading right now. Or should I go scrounge up a sandwich somewhere? Decisions, decisions. I was thinking of watching Thor in Thai. Problem is inertia. Once I am seated, I find it very hard to get up. I don't run here and there. Instead, I amble.

Yesterday I went crazy at the night market and finished half the money I brought with me. Which makes it a lot. So today, I am banned from that place. I shall sit quietly in the hotel, take my meals here, post my postcards at reception, eat at the hotel (at least that can be added to my room bill which I can pay by card as they don't seem to accept cards anywhere else)...and just chill.

Tomorrow, I don't intend to get out of here until about 5 in the evening. For a massage and then...the Cicada Market. Finally, Sarah, I'll be going there and I want to see what all the big deal is about.

Later for you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A State of Constant Upheaval

It's my birthday today and I feel a little sad. My first birthday without Mum. Spent the last three days at Fraser's Hill which deserves a post in itself but the details have melded together and I don't think I want to write it anymore. Suffice to say I went with Anna, we walked a lot (ok not enough for her but quite enough for me), I acquired a fondness for Harvey's Bristol Cream, the place was mellow with old wood and pretty flowers (and a black cat that I named Uncanny), we had some delightful encounters with wonderful people (none of whom were members of the BMW sports club who tried and failed to book out the hotel for the weekend).

I finished reading The Little Friend and it left me vaguely unsatisfied, ending the way it did with nothing resolved. Sort of on a jarring discordant note. The book had 555 pages but it would have been more honest to make it twice that length. The font was small and crammed and it took so long to get through even one page. Nevertheless it's done. And I came home and picked up All Manner of Monks and finished it in one sitting. It was a delightful book, gently humorous and tragic by turns. But it also ended sort of discordantly and I need to look and see if Mike sent me any sequels to it.

I've decided to take four books with me to Hua Hin. Three of which are poetry books and one journal. And this doesn't include the two fat tomes I have downloaded on this iPad. I leave for Hua Hin on Tuesday. God bless my soul. It sort of feels like I'm stepping off a precipice but never mind. I can only fall so far.

So I'll be by myself for 6 days. Reading, maybe writing, and basically just contemplating life as it stands.

My room has degenerated into a tip. I probably need to do something about it before I go. At the moment, every inch of floor is covered with stuff. And I itch as I toss and turn in bed. Not good. Not nice. I feel like taking another shower. And it's 2 in the morning. I should just sleep.

The plumber came but didn't finish the work because some of it were deep seated problems which required more drastic measures. I am wondering how it all turned out. And there are other things that need to be done. Should make a list to give to Chubs who will be going back earlier in preparation for his wedding.

I didn't achieve all I wanted. But I did my best. And that is all you can ask of me.

What with everything I only ended up driving back on Friday morning. And then it was off to Fraser's. I left my charger at home and my change off tee shirts at the car wash which made for some interesting situations. But it all worked out ok.

I miss my Mommy. Hers would have been the first call at midnight to wish me. I wish I had spent my last birthday with her.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On and on

So the new heater has been installed and I'm tripping over dead lizards wherever I go. Courtesy of James the exterminator. Because apparently not only did we have an ant and rat problem but a lizard one as well.

Here's how insidious it is. Last night I shoved some leftover pizza in the oven toaster. I had had half of it for lunch and had saved the other half for dinner. Well what with buying groceries and visiting my old music teacher and Chubby's old teacher to hand out wedding invitations, it was way past 9 by the time I got back. So I shoved the leftover pizza in the oven toaster without bothering to look at it and when I went to retrieve it I found one slice neatly adorned with lizard toast.  Ugh.

I was too hungry to throw it all away so I merely fed the lizard-infested one to Arnold who was waiting at the sidelines tongue hanging out,  and ate the other two myself.  While reading The Little Friend. At a particularly reptilian scene. It seemed oddly appropriate.

The plumber who was supposed to come today hasn't been here. He said one of the things I require is by special order and only arriving tomorrow. Problem is, I have to leave tomorrow. Looks like I'll be leaving late. Must be sure to get lots of sleep today.

Also I want to visit Mummy's grave. Try to make it a point to do that when I come to JB. Don't foresee coming back very often from now on. Pity. This house is comfortable and very much a sanctuary

I could fall asleep here right now.

Posted a letter to Nessa. Paid a bill. Made a duplicate key. Swept and mopped the downstairs. Took Arnold on two walks. Will rest now and take him for his third.

Then I'll be off to Singapore to hang out with Nits.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


I'm in JB at the moment. Alone, or rather with Arnold. I arrived yesterday although I was supposed to arrive on Friday night. Instead, I got drunk in the office and had an excellent burger courtesy of Anna, went on to Backyard 2 to talk to Mark about Ivan's wedding (Mark and Alvin are playing) and had a vodka orange and from there on to Omar's. He cooked the most excellent pasta ever. More wine. So Friday was out. I got home tired and reeling and all but passed out.

Saturday is a blur. I know there was a lot of shopping involved: stationery, books,  groceries. I wanted to buy a handbag I could use - something sturdy which would actually hold everything I want and have enough compartments so I could be organised. I saw it, loved it and decided to wait until I could afford it. Right now I am seriously digging into my savings.

So Sunday.  Woke up late, started packing desultorily and then Chubs asked me to follow him to give out wedding cards. So yeah didn't make it to JB on Sunday either.

Was supposed to leave early Monday but staying up late to read The Little Friend put paid to that idea.

So I walked Arnold, posted a card for Dadda (he in turned vacuumed Arnold's little doggie bed) and took off at about half 10. By the time I hit the highway it was 10 to 11. By the time I got here (by dint of driving at 140 whenever I could) it wad half one. Well half one when I exited the highway. By the time I reached the house it was closer on 2. Bad jam.

And then it was time to feed Arnold, call for a pizza and try to find workmen who could deal with the various things wrong in the house. One of which is that Mummy's room wouldn't open. The calls yielded an electrician, a plumber and a pest control person. This morning I went off in search of a locksmith and found a good old fashioned one who doesn't charge the earth and who succeeded in unsticking our problematic front door.

The pest control guy knew and liked Mum. He's coming again tomorrow because the house is really overrun with ants. And rats. The electrician fixed two plugs. The plumber came to suss out the job, give me an estimate and take a deposit. He's coming back tomorrow to do the job.

Chubs wants me to deliver wedding cards. And I have some groceries to buy. To support life here over the next few days.

I am trying to get as much done as I can in the short time I'm here. And then my real holiday. Fraser's, Hua Hin and Happy Birthday Jenn.

I'm so tired.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Listing slightly but keeping on, nonetheless

To survive these amorphous days, I make lists. Lots of lists. I have a notebook for lists. But then I lose it and I use other notebooks. There are books everywhere. With different lists. What to do today. What to do at work. What to do after I come back. What to prepare for tomorrow. What stories I need to write. What I need to follow up on. Who to send questions to. For the dogs, their food, their walks, their weekly bath.

List upon list upon list. I cling to them and attempt to tick off the items, one by one. Done.

An easing of tension?

A clearing of pain?

And the lists are there to help me survive today. Because when I don't have a list to cling to, when I don't have a list to refer to, I just sit there, staring into space, allowing time to burgeon into this great big nothing, this great big cloud, I can't see in it, I can't see through it...and nothing gets done. Time, it is a-wasting. And then the guilt pours in. And I think, maybe tomorrow, maybe tomorrow...and tomorrow comes and I still haven't done a damn thing.

So enough. No more unstructured time, no more, not knowing how many minutes it takes to walk to the dogs, how many minutes it takes me to write morning pages, how many minutes it takes me to drive to work (with traffic jam and without), how many minutes it takes me if I park downstairs or if I park outside, how many minutes it takes me if I don't defrost the dogs' food the day before, how many minutes it takes me, if I start reading Gift of Rain in the morning and get carried away.

I actually record the time now.

I actually record it in a little book so I know.

I actually go back and check it and see if there is some way I can cut down on time doing this or that.

I actually try to figure out what the fastest way is to write a story.

I actually write out charts for the stories - what do I want to say, what are people supposed to get from reading this.

I move and I move and I move and I move.

Because if I stop, well, I stop indefinitely.

And I sit down and stare into space and time gathers itself in and spreads out on my shoulders and my lap and around me like a hug that never comes. And I breathe or forget to and thoughts dart in and out, gathering no moss, hurting sometimes, leaving no trace other times, like footprints in water.

And so I make lists.

And tomorrow, I won't be here because I'm going to catch a plane first thing in the morning. Part of me is looking forward to it. It will be so nice to see TK again.

And part of me feels that it is all one. Nothing to look forward to. Because if you look forward to something, you will be disappointed. And everything tastes as bland as reheated soup.

Every heart that is breaking tonight
is the heart of a child...

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

I Still Miss You

I still miss you. I can't help it. You appear in my head at the funniest times. And I wonder where you are. And I wonder what you do. And I wonder if you're finally at peace.

Various scenes replay in my head and I remember that in the last year of your life, there was so much tension, that I never spared your feelings, that I was so mean to you.

And I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm more sorry than you'll ever know.

I hope that wherever you are, you can sense that.

Perhaps I hope that you don't remember us at all, that you've moved on to whatever it is you're supposed to move on to.

And that you're finally happy.

And you're finally at peace.

I miss you so much.

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Date With The Ex

So I text the Ex today and we make a date to catch up. After work. Which is like after 9. And we meet in front of Ronnie Q's and I have some dinner in this tiny, noisy little burger joint which seems to be trendy (well,it's full anyway) which is not a patch on MyBurgerLab, and then we repair to The Talk for a drink. Kind of ironic because the first time we met was at The Talk. He was an analyst. I was a journalist. And I was taking him out for a drink. Because we used to fete analysts. He came in and saw me and instead of saying hi, walked right past me, sat inside, ordered a beer, and sweated profusely. Because he's an introverted (not shy, but introverted, there's a difference, as he takes pains to explain to me today, having stumbled upon some research on introverts).

"I was looking up how to turn an introvert into an extrovert and came across this research and...I feel so explained...like someone finally understood me!"

But that's not what he wants to talk about. Well, not all of what he wants to talk about. Basically he wants to catch me up on the past eight months. So he does. As I masticate my way through a not untasty (though not crash out either) burger, he catches me up. First, the living situation. When he went back, he was effectively homeless...house sat for a month, and then lived with a church member for six weeks and then was offered a room in the Rectory until the new Rector was appointed. And what happened there. A manipulator, a wrongdoing, him putting his foot down, she forming a team (a la Survivor) and managing to get him kicked out.

He quit the church.

The Ex doesn't understand people who allow wrongdoing to take place under their nose and don't say anything. He's starts to splutter incoherently as I gaze at him, sad, but stony-eyed.

"What did you expect? You went against her. Of course she was going to do something about it? Did you think she would just sit there and take it?"

People's bad behaviour never surprises me. It's like, of course, that was exactly what she was going to do. She's evil and that's what evil people do. If you want to go to war with an evil person, well, you'll either have to be very Zen about it, or out-Evil them. Otherwise...

He nods and goes on talking. Now it's the work situation. Again, here, no matter how hard he tries, no matter how perfect he is for the position, something always happens at the eleventh hour to pull the rug from under his feet. I sigh and feel even sadder. He deserves a break. Some break. The only thing I can hang on to now, is that maybe all this is happening for a reason, maybe something much much better is in store.

And I sip my sweet white wine and I feel something inside me relax. I don't realise how tense I am and how much I hold it in. It's automatic. I can't afford to...

And then the Ex asks me how I've been.

And I tell him. About the Mum. About the death. About the one and a half months in JB. About everything and I am alarmed to find myself tearing up. I, who didn't cry (well, not much) when it was right in front of me, happening.

He looks alarmed. And so I go for the bare bones of the story...and he nods, understanding.

"She was your anchor."

"Yeah, I guess she was. Nothing seems real now."

He continues to look stricken and stops telling me anything more about the shenanigans in Australia. Now he's focussed on...and I wish he wasn't because all I want to do is break down. I want to cry for her. And for all that I've lost. But I can't. Not here. Not in front of him.

My heart has been heavy all day.

And now, it's just about ready to burst.

Well, it's time to go. We pay up. Actually, he does. Even without a job, and not much money, he insists.

I tell him I need to find some place to live. He asks about the dogs. I say, they'll probably still live with my father. Or we would put them to sleep. But I need to start my life. Which has been in a holding pattern for so long now.

And he says: "Do you know what you want to do with the rest of your life?"

"Find a place to live. Start from there."

And he nods again.

And follows me to my car. I drop him off at his.

There's something different about the Ex. The last time I met him, he was so lost. Now he seems to have found himself, remembered who he is. He seems more assured and positive.

All good things.

I hope things work out for him. We'll probably stay in touch.

Once a year, twice a year, it's still "in touch".

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Rest Of My Life

The remaining parent looks at me and sighs: "I can't keep holding this space for you. I have to die sometime. Probably sometime soon. Don't feel like I have much life left in me."

It's true, I know. But it makes me feel scared and pressured. Get on with the rest of your life, he's saying. I've been hiding out here. I don't suppose I can hide out much longer.

I think I'm probably one of those people who end up in little hovels surrounded by a heap of cats. They're with me for the food but I pretend they're with me for company. Or love. Except that cats don't love. They just feel contempt. But I'm used to contempt by now. So I can keep company with contempt. It's OK.

I know I need to make a start to figuring out the rest of my life. I've been huddled in this corner, dry retching and the people who pass by, they stop and pat my head kindly and tell me everything is going to be OK.

I shoot them a look sometimes.

Don't they realise that nothing has ever been all right and nothing ever will?

I love my job. That's about the one good thing I have going.

I love my friends. Some of them.

I love my dog. One of them.

But I hate the rest of my life.

Maybe I'll wake up early and figure it out tomorrow.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Surving the 3ams

I feel so sad. It's 3am, my darkest time, maybe not just me. So I need you to light a candle and watch while I sleep. Because when I have no strength left, I lean on yours.

And I have no strength left right now.

Monday, July 22, 2013

And the world will be a better place

It's past eight and I'm still at the office. It's been a while since I stayed late. Not so bad, really. I managed to toss off an interlude, which I had intended to write anyway, but which was largely a reaction to an article I read today. An article written, I think, to be deliberately provocative. And like lemmings, we shared it, we commented on it, we flamed the writer.

So what if she deserved it?

We spent a good chunk of the very precious time allotted to us, dumping on someone too dumb to know any better. I mean, if that was the attitude we had taken, that would have been OK. Instead, we got personal. At least, I did.

I feel ashamed now. I really have to get over this whole "subhumanising" people.

Anna told me the writer was eccentric. Like me. At one wedding dinner she apparently told this inoffensive guy who was quietly eating his dinner that the mole on his face was in an unfortunate position and it meant that he wouldn't live to see his grandchildren. Or possibly, his children. In short, that he would die. Soon.

Out of nowhere to a stranger.

Oh dear. Was I like that?

Just Saturday, I told Mark that he would make someone a good wife. Make that, a good trophy wife.

So uncalled for. I will apologise today. Although it was said in fun, and there was a good deal of alcohol thrown into the picture that led to a boisterousness above the usual alcohol-induced boisterousness, that was still...unkind.

And my living quarters have deteriorated into scary proportions. Most times I just run away somewhere, anywhere, so I don't have to face it. And then I return, and slump on the sofa so I can avoid what I have to avoid.

Avoidance is my middle name. That and Denial (which is not a river in Egypt).

Maybe I'm just tired.

Maybe it's because I have no idea what's in store.

Maybe because where I stand right now, the road ahead seems dark and forbidding and I am not sure what tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will bring.

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Are you there?

Do you hear me?

Are you seeing what I'm saying?

I think you're seeing what I'm saying.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Easy As Sunday Morning

I finally finished Cheryl Strayed's Torch. I decided that to heck with it,  I'm a gonna at least finish one book. So I did. And while at first I kept consciously comparing the story to what she had revealed in Wild it gradually took on a life of its own.

I didn't love it the way I'd loved Wild (or else I shouldn't have taken so long to read it) but it was good. It didn't kill me to finish it.

Have done almost nothing the entire weekend other than hang on the phone and sleep at odd hours so I think maybe today I'll sleep at a decent time.

The dogs remain unbathed, although that should have been a priority since I found ticks on Arnold (he's here with me resting dreamily on the meditation mat that I never use for its stated purpose) while Elliott is outside,  tied up as a punishment for running away and not coming back when called.

Chubs is here with us as some piping problem dislodged his floor tiles so suddenly that it almost seemed like poltergeist activity and if that were not bad enough,  some guy in a four wheel drive hit his car from behind. Twice.

So he's camping out here for the moment. Uncle Solomon who descended on us unannounced for the weekend left this morning. Yesterday we all had a trip to the bookstore and despite the fact that I still have a ton of unread books, I bought a bunch more. Ivan bought two. The Unkley, one.

We also picked up some pants Chubs had tailored at a suit tailor here. Only half a year late. He was supposed to have picked them up in January. But then life intervened and he forgot all about them. When he tried them on they fitted perfectly and were, if anything,  on the loose side. His recent bout of dengue shaving off a cool 6 kilos.

We looked at possible wedding suits. The style now seems to be more fitted. Chubs thought that September's a good time to start the process. He liked a bright blue silk shirt but not much else.

I was supposed to catch up with some people over the weekend but I didn't. I have spent it completely vegged out.

I am useless without a proper to-do list.

So maybe I'll sit down and write one out now.

Morning meeting tomorrow.

And loads of questions to send out, an interview to finish transcribing and two more stories to write.

And there's the Maybank buka puasa in the heart of the city at rush hour. And maybe Marking after if I feel up to it.

Alone?  Yeah no plans to meet anyone tomorrow and no gang.

Sometimes we must go alone if we are to write letters.

The natural tears seem to be working. Dry eyes are less dry. Which is a very good thing.

Later for you.

Losing Time

Nothing is like I thought it would be. When your mother dies, the pain should be sharp and clear and focussed. It should be ever-present. It should be filled with regret, at the things you did not do, at what she had to suffer, at how long she was alone, in that condition, at the fact that she drove herself to hospital when she was having a heart attack, at the fact that you didn't just move in with her way way before, so you could have done something, helped her...

Instead, it's like my mind has split into a million shards; each separate and distinct from the other. I pick up a book, I put it down. I pile books next to my broken bookshelf, the one she broke, the one I yelled at her for breaking, the one I will never forgive myself for yelling at her for breaking. I wrote this in the letter I put in her coffin.

And then, there was nothing. Her body removed from the house, buried in that plot, piled with stones and flowers.

Her spirit absent in a way that beggars description.

I always thought I would feel her here around me somehow. Someone who was so present could never be this absent.

But was she?

Hadn't she spent all those years dying? Trying desperately to hold on, as she grew weaker and weaker, everything hurting and yet worrying about us, not letting go, praying her "Prayers of Power" for all the things that could go wrong, did go wrong.

And after it all, it was like she had been dead for years.

All those years she spent dying; all those years she had been alive; all those years.

And I just wanted to get away. Selfish, self-contained, not wanting to be around anyone who reminded me of this great big nothingness that had grown up inside me. This great big emptiness that has always been at the centre of me. Except now I touch its edges, I dive into the hollow black.

And I'm dead.

But like her, I pretend to be alive.

Except that I'm not doing such a great job. I keep forgetting stuff. Like to request a photographer for an important interview until it's too late. Like calling a friend to tell her, I made the appointment she was so insistent I make...that I couldn't come with her, but please, this is the address, if you really need to, go yourself, and deal with whatever you have to deal with and tell me afterwards. After I have painfully strung together words, racing against deadline, except that I race like a snail, a tortoise, a worm...thoughts scattered as the spawn of Satan, without agency, without urgency, without interest.

I keep losing time.

I look around and it's an hour later.

And then two hours.

And then three.

I shrug helplessly and go on contemplating the dust stacked in corners, the absurd mess I live in the midst off.

I need to gather, to arrange, to focus. And I will. Tomorrow. Maybe. Write a to-do list. Forget what I was going to say midway. Let the notebook fall from my hand. Send out the questions I was supposed to send out last week, or the week before. Maybe. To whom? I've forgotten.

Pick up that darn book again. Maybe today I'll finish it instead of picking up another one and another and another because my mind floats outside my body and my eyes, my dry eyes refuse to focus on anything.

And God, the sky is empty and my mother is gone and you?

And God, I wish I could come home to me again. I can't go home to home again because when she left, my home blew up, shattered, and most days I don't remember this, and most days I don't cry, and most days I'm not even sad.

And most days I feel nothing...and maybe that's preferable to the dark that hasn't penetrated any of the layers I've sewn up around me.

People are kind. They love me. I try to love them. But when you're a shadow, you can't love. There is nothing in you to hook a feeling and make it real. Do you know what I'm saying? Do you? Do you?

Do you understand?

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Sometimes I Forget to Smile

Look, I've got everything in place
My feelings safely locked away
in the heart of a glacier
I gaze stony-eyed ahead


Please don't chip away
at the ice
and don't look at me
with those eyes

Don't try to look
into my soul
Stop excavating this crater,
this hole

Let me function
pretend you believe
I'm really all right

Because sometimes
the fa├žade crumbles
the mask slips
And I forget to smile.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Because You Matter

The goodbye we never said
bleeds into the cadaverous silence
There are no echoes...

When I was done fighting
with the voices in my head
I looked around for you
but you were gone.

You disappeared silently
and I didn't see
Where are you now?
I don't know.

So I look for you
but the road is dark
I listen for you
but the phone is silent
I reach for you
but my arms are empty.

So I'm writing this
because you matter
you've always mattered
because I care
I've always cared.

And I'm sorry
So sorry
I let you go
And I'm sorry
So sorry
I didn't say...


Not Normal

If you ask me for something right now, it's possible I won't be able to give it to you. Truth is, I'm tired. Truth is, I'm so weary of pretending that I'm OK, that everything is OK, and this is how it should be and I couldn't care less. Maggot hasn't returned. And how is life supposed to continue as normal, when you don't know, when you can't see, when you didn't say goodbye?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Conspiracy theories

Are we the conspiracy theory generation? Is the stuff that appears to be happening all around us just as it is, or are there dark, hidden undercurrents to everything? I feel like I've been cursed with a lens that can only see drama and bad intentions and real, real evil.

I was once innocent. If you told me something, no matter how ridiculous or improbable, I would take it at face value, never sifting it to see if it actually could have happen, never noting timelines (well, actually I did note timelines, but if the timelines clashed, if your story didn't seem to work out, it didn't matter, I ignored the discrepancies).

And then she told me, he said, only Jenn would believe something ridiculous like that. She said it and I crumbled inside. First, at being so stupid. And second, at them laughing at me for being so stupid. And when I readjusted the lens, suddenly everything made sense. Looking at horrible people with the proper lens, you could see quite clearly, when they lied, why they lied, how everything was a performance, nothing was real.

It becomes difficult after a while, when you're surrounded by these liars, to know what to believe. The kindest you can be, is to to tell yourself that they don't mean to do it, they're simply lying to themselves. But the more sensible explanation would be, they're being manipulative because it is easy to manipulate you. Trusting shouldn't be blind. Not when you feel the contempt coming from the other side.

One of our dogs is missing. He ran away. Except that he doesn't run away. Not him. He pushed his way out just before a storm, another thing he doesn't do. And then he never came back. Him, who doesn't run very far. Who is too scared to go out when the sky lowers and starts to thunder.

Who did this to him? What call did he hear to force him out? Who is to blame?

We blame ourselves of course. We didn't love him enough. We didn't show him enough affection. He felt nobody wanted him. We all feel the guilt. And guilt does funny things. It makes you suspect things. It makes you create stories in your mind. It makes you look at people funny.

Under all that is the sheer heartbreak of thinking he may be somewhere, suffering, scared, lonely, in pain.

It's the uncertainty that kills you.

It's the uncertainty that always kills you.

I wish there were some way of knowing what happened.

I try to tell myself that I'm being ridiculous to suspect what I suspect.

But I still go on suspecting it.

In the meantime I won't waste my time or energy hating you. Every bit of intention is aimed at my dog. I'll go on praying for him and loving him.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Muslin Thoughts

It's been a long time, but I feel like updating this blog again. I guess it comes in waves, the blogs we update, especially when we've been polygamous blog-wise.

As my regular readers (all none of them) would note, from you I have been absent in the Spring. I don't know what that means, I just like saying it.

I am supposed to finish two stories now. I have transcribed both of them. Instead, I took off to Starbucks for a hot chocolate and muffin and a perusal of Woman In White by Wilkie Collins (I started, and you know when you start this, you cannot bear to put it down).

Among other things I have developed a taste for Pakeeza's fish curry. I stumbled upon it by accident as it's not one of the things I would normally get from there. Dadda asked me to bring him curry (sambar, yuck!) and there was a jam all the way to the Section 11 collection of Indian restaurants (OK, PJ Hills and Pandey's) and so I decided to go to Pakeeza instead. I got fish curry to go along with a dhal (the dhal was a bad idea) and when I came to eat my share of it with white rice, I was blown away. I mean it was so good, I could have gone on eating indefinitely. Instead, I left a portion for my father and finished my meal determining that this would not be the last time I went to Pakeeza to get fish curry. It wasn't. I bought the same thing, only a whole lot more of it, two days later.

I am still not recovered. My lungs feel like some ravelled sleave of care. Coughing interrupts my nights. I feel worn out in the mornings. And then I fall asleep and sleep soundly way past when. I'm at work now and I feel tired. It's like this illness has left its stamp on me, for better or worse.

Instead of finishing the two stories I am supposed to, I feel like going home, having some tea, having some rice and leftover fish curry, reading my book and going early to bed.

To sleep, perchance to cough.

Ay, there's the rub.

For in that cough of death, what dreams may come...