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.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Because sometimes I want to

I took it off.

You threw it across the room; the diamond shattered.

I always knew it was just glass.

Because Life's Too Short (not to be superficial)

When life gives you a lemon, make that honey lemon drink everyone is always going on about, and maybe, just maybe, if you drink enough of it, you'll get back your voice. In other words....

`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all.'

If you're feeling really low, it's nothing that a new liquid eyeliner won't cure. Especially if you don't use eyeliner, don't know how to, and end up smudging both your eyes with jerky movements because you lack the requisite artistry to outline your eyelids.

And don't forget about the French manicure - I mean if we're gonna splurge money we don't have (because we owe a huge portion of this month's salary to Mum for a loan taken) why don't we look around to find the most unnecessary thing we can spend it on?

Yeah, I'm talking really dark lip liner, a lip brush, expensive gloss (did you know that Parisian women won't be seen taking out the garbage without lip gloss? OK, that may be an exaggeration. But it's in this book I'm reading now see, Two Lipsticks and a Lover).

Anyway, it now takes three quarters of an hour to get my face done, with all these tubes of goo, powders and pencils. It takes about half an hour to get said face off -there's the eye make up remover followed by the rest-of-the-face make-up remover.

And I bought a long maroon kurta as well as a white one with green embroidery because I'm sick of my clothes. And I'm sick of my hair, but since I have to let it grow out I won't be doing anything radical to it soon.

And after all this, I still look like me. And after all this I still feel like me.

And as I sit here at Starbucks and see the various minor dramas going on around me, I feel strangely empty, all this gilding notwithstanding.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Letter to Kat

Dearest Kat,

I know, I know, I haven't kept in touch like I'm supposed to, and I know things are going so wrong for you right're on my mind, and I know how dissatisfying it is when someone tells you that. People tell me that too, but if I don't see something concrete, I think, out of sight, out of mind.

An old man just walked in, with a plastic Coffee Bean cup stuffed with dollar notes. He's gone over to the two women sitting in the armchair. He's wearing a clean blue shirt, but his hair is gray and wild. He bows respectfully and waits. They wave him off.

Beggars aren't supposed to come into Coffee Bean at BV2. That's Bangsar Village 2. I know all that. And yet as he makes his way to me, something opens inside. Maybe it's because of the way I'm feeling right now. Lonely and dispossessed. Maybe it was the book I just read (Treehouse by Naomi Wolf, I think you'll love it too). Maybe it's because looking at him, it's obvious that he was something more once. Could he imagine himself sinking to this? Anyway as he stops in front of me, bowing a few times, I reach into my blue knapsack (you remember the one I used to carry everywhere in Australia? It's falling apart but I still cling to it with affection) and take out my wallet. I don't have any dollar notes so give him five. He starts in surprise. Rich people (as in people who hang out at Coffee Bean) are notoriously stingy and loath to part with cash. He bows a few times. I don't meet his eyes because I am suddenly overwhelmed.

Without warning, I am crying. I bend my head to hide it. This place is empty and hopefully the barristas are not watching me.


Too much sadness.

I wish you were here.

We would sit in quiet cafes and write. You would read your latest effusion and I would tell you what I think. I love it when you're you. I hate it when you adopt that slightly hard edge, like you're fighting off someone, when really, there's nobody there to fight off. I still think "My Father in Four Acts" was one of the best pieces I read in uni. Really Kat, I'm not kidding. It was stunning.

And I would write something and read it to you. And you would tell me what you thought.

Remember Marcella's class and all that poetry we came up with on the spur of the moment? Wild! Or that creative writing class in winter where I wore that thick overcoat in class and wrote nasty odes to my pink stapler? Everyone liked it but you thought it was mean. And when I came home and read it out to my housemate, she cottoned on to the fact that I was talking to myself rather than my stapler, before I did. Wow!

I use everything I learned now in the worst way possible. I manipulate emotions to sell products. I think the products are OK, I mean, they're better than what's out there, but this is not how we dreamed of being, is it?

You said you're visiting at the end of this year, and I'm thinking of making a trip over there. Maybe we can go for another wine tour at Margaret River, stopping over at the Berry Farm for some of that excellent chutney.

I miss you, Kat. I miss who I was there. Not much of that me left.


PS: I just read this in Natalie Goldberg's Wild Mind:

I honor English majors. It's a dumb thing to major in. It leads nowhere. It's good to be dumb, it allows us to love something for no reason. That's the best kind of love.