Monday, December 19, 2011

My Hand Closes Over Nothing

They say I've lost it, and I tell them, I know, I have. But we're talking about different things. I shuffle along the street, head bowed, as if in deep conversation, and people pass me on either side, stepping away because they think I lips move, I'm forming words and I know you're walking beside me.

Sometimes the pain is quiet, and I just talk to you, tell you about my day and how it felt when they put the pickles in my sandwich, and what the floor feels like under my bare feet and why the dog looks at me and turns away.

I walk at night because there are less eyes. And I can talk to you without them staring, except that sometimes I forget, I'm too loud and they peep over their gates to listen.

I can't help it. I miss you. There is still so much I have to say to you.

Sometimes I feel you brush past and I reach out. But my hand closes over nothing.

It's these times that are the hardest. Just when I got used to not having you here, your shadow fell across my face and I reached out.

It's then, my darling, that my body screams. It pushes this broken voice through my throat, an animal pain, and it screams and screams until my throat is left in bloody tatters.

They come for me then. Closing in from all sides. I don't bother to run. I don't feel them shove me, hold me down, hold me to the ground.

The mad woman, they say. Can't we do something about her, they say.

And my body keeps screaming.

So I run away. I run. I keep on running. I reach out for you to hold my hand to pull me forward.

I reach out my hand but it closes over nothing.

You're still not there.

The other day, I saw something that reminded me of you. It was a puddle of water, floating over mud and I saw the moon's bright face reflected in it.

I couldn't help it. I knelt down and drank. I drank. I drank. Mud. Salt. Blood. I drank.

And they surrounded me again.

And a little child said, poor thing Mummy, the mad woman must be thirsty. Can we give her some water?

But then I didn't hear anything more, because my body started to scream.

Nobody can make out what I scream.

But it's your name, it's always your name.

It tears through my me like a siren and it keeps tearing through me until there's nothing left.

Death should not happen so slowly.

I keep waiting for you to take my hand. But you're still not there.

And so I keep walking, hoping that someday, I will reach out, my hand will close over something, and then I won't be there anymore.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Rest Of My Life

Sometimes it is just a matter of getting over it. Retentive feelings are all very well for Anne Elliot and with her, they worked. If they hadn't she would have died alone. Sad and brokenhearted and half a person.

But tomorrows have been surprising me. I found that no matter how difficult, it is always possible to get through today. If you focus on just getting through this moment, this minute, the next five minutes, suddenly it's tomorrow.

And tomorrows can be surprising.

For years now, birthdays have been something to endure and get through.

This year, the year I turned 40, it was special. It was a conglomeration of things - the people, the presents, the effort behind it, the food. My sister Jackie coming here and doing her best. Also Simon. Also Ivan. Even Julie whom I no longer speak to, staying back in KL and taking care of the dogs.

Arnold is sick again. That wound by the side of his head acting up. She's taking him to the vet.

I've never fought for anything worth fighting for. I've never achieved anything I can look back and be proud of. And I don't want to be scared anymore. I want to work towards something, build something, be proud of something.

That's my wish.

For this year. And the rest of my life.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

When My Life Needs A Spring Cleaning...

...the first thing I get rid is you.

It amazes me that some people make a lot of effort to reconnect (when I don't want to, rightly considering them vexations to the spirit, the kind that Max Ehrmann told us to avoid, who will annoy me terribly some time down the road) and then, voila, what do you know...they live down to expectations.

You're probably saying I shouldn't have had those expectations in the first place, right? That it was a self-fulfilling prophecy? Or that I should have just stuck to my guns and ignored the begging, grovelling apologetic letter and just blocked all access and addresses?

Never mind.

These kind of things help to strengthen my resolve.

So it's going to be delete and block on Facebook.

And root out emails over here and put email address on the block list.

That should do for now.

Life is short. I don't need these type of bastards in it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tears From The Stars

On and on the rain will say, how fragile we are...

A friend is sick. Real sick. Going for surgery. He called to tell me and I felt something inside contract.

But letting go is part of life,
And death comes to all,
Love cannot brook it,
Life cannot resist it,
Nothing can.
Death comes in the end.

He may not die. He's still young. But he sounded so tired on the phone. Not this again. Just when I thought I had it beat. Not this. Oh please, not this again.

We grow weary of fighting. Sometimes we just want to lie down and get it over with. Sometimes we just want it all to be over. So much pain, so much what end?

We fight our way up to touch some proverbial mountain top, to gather the icy stars, to rest in comfort for a while, here at the end of all things, looking down on vistas, looking down on clouds, feeling serenity.

But in the hushed oblivion, who do we see? What do we feel?

I sit here, pointless as always, trying to frame a sentence that makes sense, trying to count shares, trying to ask if any of this means anything to anyone.

I disappear into uncertainty. I thrash around for a bit trying to get out. And then I sigh. Give up. Allow myself to fall. Be carried off by the tides.

There is sorrow in the offing tomorrow.

There is the blasted light filtering through the cracks.

There is the smile of the Cheshire cat which fades slowly until it's just a memory, a gleam of teeth.

And as they turn to look back at you, one last goodbye.

Only, you didn't know it was goodbye.

You couldn't have known.

On and on and on and on and on and on...

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Thing That Lies Underneath

Wow. My last post was at the beginning of this month. Way to go in terms of a long, long time between posts. Most of the time I've felt pretty crummy and a it becomes more and more obvious that I don't belong here.

Trying too hard is trying too hard. It does not equate with getting anywhere.

For everyone else this whole deal seems to be effortless. When was it effortless for me? Surely there was a time I could remember generating stories. I remember going for networking events and meeting people. I remember going all out and enjoying it.

Now I sit in an office and stew. I don't seem to do much. Just stew.

I have been asked to dust off my CV.

It's just one of those things. In the road to nowhere, you always wish you had already arrived. Right now, I don't know where to go, which direction to take and I trip myself by trying to go in two directions at one.

There is the thing.

And the thing that lies beneath the semblance of the thing.

The thing that lies underneath.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Free, Free, Set Them Free

I'm at work now (but of course, where else?) and I've just finished my first piece on warrants (it was hard and I hardly understood what I was doing and the nice deputy editor took my hand, walked me through it and made a few suggestions so I end the night feeling a little less like a piece of crap than I did earlier). Everyone else had given in their fixtures and I was just...just...well I forgot I had warrants to do. Why couldn't they give me a coffee break? I would have rocked that, no problem. Because I like talking about nothing in particular. Only rules, it has to be vaguely economic, and make you laugh.

So there.

We talked the down market till we were blue in the face.

Technical correction today but the mood is still sombre.

And so, two days ago, I heard in my head this little voice from more than 20 years ago...and it said...Jennifer, you forgot to wish me....and it was said in a sweet hopeful tone. What did I do? Bear that I was, just down for breakfast I bit her head off. And got (rightly so) mauled by my Mom for doing it. And then I called her upstairs and presented her with the presents I said I didn't buy and the little thing was happy again. (I have much to answer for)

I have been thinking lately about how much shit in my life is my fault. And how when I do something wrong, I'm not just content to leave it but I have to take it, worry it and make it worse.

And how many relationships I have dropped hand grenades on. Nuclear power. Explode!

I feel guilty and I know that guilt is not a positive emotion, I mean it doesn't build you up, doesn't DO anything...doesn't repair anything.

And so I picked up a piece that I had worked on, on and off, for about 15 years. Nicely framed. And I couldn't, just couldn't bring myself to give it to her. Not after what's happened. Not after we've become worse than strangers.

I feel tired now. And I woke up feeling sick.

And everybody's cigarette smoke keeps getting in my eyes, my throat, my lungs...and I cough and cough and sneeze and sneeze.

And my Arnold boy is back in hospital because the pus was building up again the two holes had closed up. Now they punctured him again. This time the holes are bigger...but the infection runs so deep.

He's happy when he sees me and he wants me to take him home. I didn't go play with him today cos I was at work. And I feel sad and guilty about it while reminding myself that there are no positive attributes to's just ugly and painful.

I keep hearing these words over and over in my head:

Your love is a cage.

And I wonder who is saying it to me. Is it Arnold? Is it Mark? Is it one of my friends?

My love is a cage. So how do I open it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Re-organising My Life

You know what I was doing yesterday? I was refiling my journals in a box I had bought for the purpose. Basically my filing cabinet is imploding under pressure. And refiling journals from so many years (OK there are some serious gaps in 2006 and 2007, bad years, bad years all round) is fun.

I found an excerpt, a story I wrote that I thought I would post here but basically, I lost it again, shuffling around and organising my 20 or so journals.

I am redoing my room. I figure if I organise the space a little better it would be less likely to descend into chaos in just a week. My desk is covered in stuff. My side table is covered in stuff. My dressing table is covered in stuff.

Clearly what I need, as Sheldon would put it, is a new organisational paradigm.

So on Saturday (or was it Sunday?) I went out and bought two Ikea type boxes. So I could transfer my journals and my cards/wrapping paper/present stuff from my overstuffed filing cabinet. So far, as you know, I've only transferred the journals. But even sorting that out was a huge victory. Maybe today I'll transfer the cards and all. That should be fun. Am wondering whether to put those filing inserts to separate old cards from new cards and fresh wrapping paper etc in the box. The problem with putting those separations in is that I then can't close the the fancy box cover goes to waste.

Anyway, that's not all I did over the weekend. I also went and ordered a cupboard and a single bed. I figure with a single bed, I'd have more room to maneuver in the room. And once it's come and I've dismantled the clunky double bed, donated the mattress to some charitable cause and sent the frame to Addy who asked for it for her guest bedroom, I have space for another bookshelf (I always stand in need of bookshelves.

And I've ordered a new wardrobe. The one I have is falling apart so I am giving it up and moving on up, wardrobe-wise. It would be nice to finally have something that finally fits all my clothes and allows me to separate home/out/work (work being the important bit).

I interviewed my friend Theresa about decluttering and she told me about how she decided some 18 months ago, not to buy a single additional piece of clothing (underclothing and shoes not included in this ban because they tend to wear out), a single book or any of those accessories such as earrings, which she used to be addicted to. I will be featuring the interview on my other blog, The Bright Side, when I do a decluttering week, which should be coming up very soon. In fact, she put a box in her closet and everytime she decided she would not be wearing a piece of clothing, it would go into the box, and when the box was full, she would load it in the car and drive to TMC where she would dump it in one of those "for charity" recycling bins. Likewise with books. As for papers, she allocated a day a week when she would go through her mail, file what was necessary and run everything else through her newly purchased paper-shredder. The shredded paper would similarly be stuffed in one of those paper recycling bins and could also be used as stuffing whenever she wanted to pack anything.

The sum total of this was a great feeling of well-being.

There are the pack rats and there are the minimalists. I guess I'm somewhere in between, because I do get sentimental about certain things and when I'm in one of my spring cleaning modes and give them away, I pine for them some years down the road when I suddenly remember.

So I guess one of the purchases that I will have to add would be a memory box. Although I'd be pretty fussy about what qualifies for it.

I guess I would like to be a little (make that a lot) more organised. My life is truly, "pieces of paper, that I'll get back to later..." and it seems to be about scrambling week to week to make the quota and avert crises, rather than having some plan as to how I am going to tackle said week, with equanimity.

I wanted to update this because it's been a while and the last time I wrote here I was spiralling downwards and guess what...I hit rock bottom, stayed there for a while and then started the long descent out.

Life is what you make of it.

And suicide is no longer an option.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Sometimes you are walking along a passage. It's dark. Alongside there are people, standing, watching you. All strangers. Unfamiliar in a way that breaks your heart. Their expressions are neutral, blank. They see you without seeing you. And you pass them without seeing them.

No spark of recognition. No spark of warmth. No spark at all.

And once in a while you may suddenly see someone. A face. A gesture. An expression. And you stop and turn. And your heart fills with joy.

It's someone. You know. You love. Perhaps family. Perhaps more.

And you look closely...but they melt into smoke. And you think you must have just imagined it. That spark of recognition. That slight uplift of spirits. Yes, you must have.

And you walk on wearier than before. Because for that tiny moment there was hope. That this darkness would lift. Some light. Some joy. Some tenderness. Some love.

But maybe this journey is solitary. Maybe there is meant to be no recognition. Only blank faces against a beige wall that fade into indifference.

And maybe, for now, this is all it's supposed to be.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


What I most feel now is trapped by my life.

What I most want now is to escape.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Four Stops

It's five in the morning and I've been awake for I don't know how long. I went to sleep drunk. Instead of passing out, I slept lightly and fitfully. So I look at illuminated dials of the tiny clock on my overflowing bedside table. It's quarter to. Maybe I'll sleep some more.

But no. Sleep eludes me. Red wine killed sleep like Macbeth. So maybe I will go back to JB after all. I'm wide awake. And so I text Esther who's in KL. Yes, at five. Surprisingly the text goes through. Usually when people are asleep they switch off their phones. And I get a little alert to say that the phone has been switched off, but no worries, it will be delivered as soon as they switch on the phone.

An hour later (an hour of me, tossing on those twisted sheets, full of bees, empty of sleep) Esther answers. She said "Also can. What time were you thinking?"

And I say, I'm packing now (actually I'm still in bed). I can be over to pick you up in half an hour. And she flails helplessly. No, no, no. I have to get out of bed, shower, etc.

So anyway, I'm supposed to pick her up at quarter to seven. Fine by me. I loll in bed some more. And then get up and rush through packing etc. Arnold is jumping up and down because he thinks, ooooooooh, early walk. But it is not to be and I feel a little guilty because I haven't taken him out for a walk once this week. Not even once.

I pick Esther up. And so begins our fateful journey. We agree not to have breakfast before we leave. No, we'll wait till we get to the rest-stop at Ayer Keroh (about 100kms into our journey to make our first stop).

It is not to be. Esther had a bad night. Her note to self: Don't drink bad-ass coffee at 10 at night. Not if you want some sleep. She had just been falling into a deep sleep when the text came through. And after that I'd killed her sleep. So she was kinda groggy.

First stop. Toilet break.

Second stop: She needed to throw up.

Third stop: Breakfast.

Fourth stop: I needed to take a nap as after breakfast, sleep came over me, like a wave, like a whirpool, like the mists of Avalon. I started to drive erratically. Forcing my eyes open while my breakfast was forcing them closed. Enough. I pulled up at the next rest stop. Left the car running while Esther and I closed our eyes.

Immediate REM sleep. In fact, it was so deep that I started dreaming. And then I heard a voice. "The aircon will get hot if you keep it on while the car is stationary."

I jolted out of sleep, heart racing and looked around. Esther was still curled up on her side, but she was awake. The sound of a nearby lorry had disturbed her dreams. And she woke up to find some guy at a nearby car staring at the both of us, sleeping there, in the bright daylight, in front of God and everybody.

But the nap did the trick. I was awake now. And raring to go. I drove at about 120 most of the way. Sometimes 115. Esther chattered on pleasantly and then fell silent. When I finally asked her something, she mumbled. Apparently she was trying to keep it down. Gastric juices rising.

But we made it to JB without incident. And then I deposited her at her doorstep, pale and sweating, looking ill. She texted me to say, hey, you wanna go do a hair spa. (I said, what I really want to do is sleep). And then she texted again to say, hey, I can't do hair spa, am giddy.

The JB air worked its magic. Soon I was stumbling downstairs, a little less sleep-befuddled. And there was lunch. Delicious. And then it was time to take my dogs for a walk. We walked slowly, leisurely and they responded well to terms of endearment rather than my usual short, sharp barks and brandishing a stick. (Arnold has changed me). And then I was off to Giant for a bout of shopping for my mother.

And then it was home again, home again, jiggety jig. With a copy of The Edge and I made the Big M read my article and comment on it. It was an Options article (meaning lifestyle) and the kind of thing she liked (to say nothing of the fact that the dude I interviewed is Johorean and Catholic, two factors that raise him in her estimation) so she read the article and enjoyed it and then told me (because I asked her) why she enjoyed it.

Only my Mummy!

I've got to get to bed now as we're going to the market tomorrow. And then I have a meeting. And then, in the evening, I return to clanging cymbals that is KL where I self-medicate to tune out (not that it helps but I do it anyway).

Later for you.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

It's The Forever Bit

This has been a year of death, loved ones disappear, like they're passing into another room, not to reappear, and you wait and wait and realise they're not coming back. I was out at the pub today and I left early, tired. It's my third day on the two o'clock shift and this shift has a tendency of getting to you. And I'd read earlier that my friend Vivian's mother had passed on. Earlier this year it was my friend Alison's husband. And the sadness grew in me as I reached out into the ether to hold on to something, a wisp of smoke, a banished thought, a memory...and felt it all slip away.

And I wrote this. For them. And for all who've lost someone. Including me.

If you asked me
I'd tell you
It's the forever bit
I have trouble with

It's the little things
I stumble over
as I go about my day
catch myself
look up for a smile
and then remember

You won't be there
to smile at me
and if you are
I can't see you
and if you are
I can't feel you
and if you are
I can't disappear
into your arms
the way I always do
the way I always have
exhaling slowly
breathing in your scent

Because you won't
you just won't
be there.

So if you asked me
I'd tell you
It's the forever bit
I'm having trouble with.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Is Someone Trying to Tell Me Something?

I received this from The Universe today. It's noteworthy enough for me to include it here:

Some, Jennifer, are better loved from a distance.

For a while, anyway.

And that's OK.

The Universe

Besides, Jennifer, love doesn't really know the difference.

Oh What A Night!

Drunk again, Monday night, Backyard, what can I say - except that this time Ravin and Gerrick were with was supposed to be Yongie but when he heard that I was on the two o'clock shift and finished only at ten, he begged off. Addy was tired. Anita was at home with her favourite boys.

So Ravin said, Backyard tonight? And I said, sure thing...except that I finish late. He said it didn't matter.

And so there we went. And talked. And listened. And when they left and Mark was still playing, I wrote the following:

Just another untethered soul
in this bleak, smoky bar
I sit with my glass of wine
and my sadness
and listen to the
flickering sounds of the band
it's night here because
it's always night
time for bed
time for oblivion
and the lights
flame briefly and die
and slowly I fade
because it's over now.

It's over.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Novocaine and the Effects, Thereof

I've finally figured it out. When I'm not on the payroll, when I'm suitably unchained and can pick up and go, my feelings are in deep freeze. Slippery as a trout nothing sticks, which is the attraction of not working, or freelancing, in the first place.

But when I'm "attached" to someone or something, so to speak, everything goes into thaw and I fall apart.

I drink too much.

I sleep too little.

I cry too much.

I eat too little.

And I fall apart. And I fall apart. And I fall apart.

The centre cannot hold.

Do you know how difficult it is to get the centre to hold when I carefully inject myself with novocaine and walk around feeling nothing, knowing that after the area is un-numbed it's going to be excruciating?

Well, the novocaine has dwindled. I'm starting to feel.

And it feels like a fucking root canal.

The alcohol isn't helping.

It never does.

I wonder why I keep doing it when it never helped before and will never help. Darkness creeps in through the edges and I wish I could find a way out again.

It's OK not to be OK.

I'm not OK.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


In an hour I have to be at a friend's house for dinner. She's making/buying lamb. She invited me to break bread with her. We are close. We love each other. That's the way it is with friends. The people who love me seems to grow less as years pass by. And I'm learning to treasure those who do. Make time for them. Spend time with them.

Go to Zeta bar and WIP with them if they want to, even if I feel like a fish out of water there.

My dog lies here, next to me, reveling in his time with me. He has hardly spent any time with me during the whole week. I was out all week (except Tuesday), drinks after work, drinks, drinks, could fill a mountain, but drinks, drinks, not fill the emptiness inside...there's a hole and it burns and I fall down into it endlessly and I don't seem to be able to find the bottom.

So Arnold got a walk on Tuesday and Tuesday, I didn't come home drunk way past midnight.

Well I feel deep in your heart
there are wounds time can't heal
and I feel somebody somewhere
is trying to breathe

(so free her, so free her, so free her)

And a friend calls me up and says, hey Jenn, you wanna come for a drink? We're going to have tapas tonight at Changkat.

And he said it so naturally, just as if I was real, just as if I existed and I was charmed and I said I'd try to make it but it would be late, late, late.

And Arnold lies here, on the cold floor, with his body turned away from me, just waiting for me to leave again. Abandon him. The way I always do.

The way, everyone always does.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Wish Words Were Enough

One day I am going to compile a book of poems, most of which were written when I was at Backyard, floating on glasses and glasses of red wine. Yesterday I decided to go home after Mark's first set was over and I'd had two glasses of wine, which is kinda like my limit. But Jerry was sitting there with Deep, whom I've not seen in donkey's years, so of course I joined them, happily. And Jerry said, give her another drink. And I said no, no thanks, going home now. Gotta go take Arnold for a walk.

Instead I sat there and had that wine. And then another.

And then I went and sat at one of those triangular tables in front to watch Mark's last set up close. And I scribbled down a poem because I was on this side of maudlin. It happens when it happens. And there ain't nothing you can do about it.

Past midnight
on my fourth wine
Mark's playing
ain't no sunshine
I'm trying to remember
why I don't kill myself
because life is worth living?
even if there is no love
even if there are no lovers
and it's not over
even if it feels like it is
ain't no sunshine
but there's the yellow moon
and there are the words
I wish words were enough.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Blow by Blow

Yesterday at the office, feelings were running high. Two of my colleagues are members of Bersih, the coalition of NGOs calling for electoral reforms. They were pledged to go march peacefully to the Merdeka Stadium today to present a list of demands to the King. Free and fair elections doesn't seem to be asking for too much.

Not so. This group has been labelled everything from traitors to rabble rousers to anti-Islam. Our dear Prime Minister, in the meantime, launched the MRT project and promptly fled the country to the UK from where he sends asinine tweets such as rumours that Bersih supporters have somehow gotten a hold of submarines and are rising up from the waters in the Klang Valley rivers.

I mean to say what?

I think the moment that got to me the most yesterday was when my two colleagues were explaining calmly to the others who wanted to tag along (but who were unprepared for policy brutality) what to do, if the police started shooting tear gas into the crowd.

Apparently, you step out of the gas, breathe for a bit, allow the choking and tearing to cease and then continue along the way. Don't run because that would cause you to inhale more gas.

If they started shooting with rubber bullets, nothing for it...just run!

The one sitting next to me is only 25 years old. She had been jumpy all day. Not able to concentrate on her story about a quasi-banking group. I heard Anna, who had to go through her story (Shan deciding to take the day off and take his wife on holiday) scolding her. She came back to her place and looked up various things to beef up the story that she really didn't care about.

(Do you know how difficult it is to write something when you really don't give a damn? And your heart is about to jump out of your chest? And all the adrenaline is running so high it's screwing up your brain?)

I do.

Anyway, when she was about to leave she opened her desk drawer, took out, of all things, some scotch tape, left the desk drawer open, left her recording equipment out in the open, hands shaking, and walked out of the office after asking us, where to catch a bus.

No one knew.

We're not an office (or a generation) of bus-takers.

But the roadblocks had started and the roads were like carparks. KL was on lockdown. Buses were allowed. (Although most were forced to stop at some point outside the city) Taxies were allowed (but told to be careful who they picked up). LRTs were still running. But slowly, a cordon was being drawn around the capital.

Policemen thronged the roads which were becoming increasingly empty as the office goers and no one was allowed in.

Pretty soon, there was a tweet from her. "Naik bas."

And then sometime during the night, she was at her hotel room in Petaling Street. Booked ahead. Credit card number given over the phone. And she even tweeted that she had an extra room in case anyone required it.

And this morning, after watching phlegmatically, the police who have been told to show no mercy have been firing tear gas and water cannons into the crowd. But it's like something out of Les Miserables. The crowd waits to recover from the effects and then it marches on.

Do you hear the people sing
singing a song of angry men
it is the music of a people
who will not be slaves again...

The police are being compared to Dementors, the Nazgul, the...I mean, do we need any more comparisons? One tweet showed a pix of the legless (an old uncle who had lost his feet and was making his way along on crutches) marching against the heartless.

And the latest tweet says they have just arrested Ambiga Sreenivasan and the Bersih leaders.

When my colleague was leaving yesterday, hands shaking, she turned and looked at me.

"It will be unprecedented."

No, she was not fearless.

She was so afraid that her whole body was shaking in reaction. Having marched in the anti-ISA rally two years ago, she had no illusions about peaceful marches in Malaysia.

And in the face of all that fear, all those threats, all the roadblocks, everything..she was going anyway.

One of her tweets of what she heard the police say:

"Bodoh, tak le ajar. Ah, lawan lagi, ahhhhh."

(Stupid, cannot be taught. Ah, fight again, ahhhhhh)

Whatever they were prepared for, they were not prepared for this.

They were practising for July 9...but even they couldn't have practised shooting tear gas at a maternity hospital.

I mean, come one.

Enough is enough.

Change is happening whether they like it or not.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

After They Embalmed You

After they embalmed you
put ice cubes in your veins
and turned your skin to marble
and your eyes to stones

After they embalmed you
you sat there like a king

and you said come
so I came
and sat beside you
quiet, sad, unafraid.

And you said, kiss me
and I did
your cold cold lips
and your fingers like ice

And I wondered why
you still wanted this
after they embalmed you
after you were dead.

And I shivered
in your embrace
because your hands were
lips were
feet were
heart was

Tuesday, July 05, 2011


It's a little bit funny, this feeling inside...

Sometimes you don't know when something is going to hit. There is no warning, no build-up, and suddenly you move from zero to fury in about a nanosecond. And even while it's happening, and just have no idea what set you off and why you're behaving, to not put too fine a point on it, like an absolute bitch!

And then you walk into work, the weight of all the work you neglected to do over the weekend hanging over you, the weight of your behaviour last night (oh yes, your behaviour) hanging over you, the weight of the SMS which is saying, sorry Jen, don't mean to push you but we really really need the draft (and you have no idea what to write) hanging over you.

And somebody has left a copy of the weekly on your desk. And in that moment everything transforms. And the dark funk you have been walking around under...the funk you built up last night with your utterly irrational behaviour...suddenly dissipates and you feel...I'm with friends now.

The chatter rises, falls, friendly malice, no forethought...just people swapping stories, catching up, talking about the great march planned for the weekend, talk about wearing yellow, talk about silly houses that look like cakes, talk about, talk about...

And it washes over you. And suddenly you're clean again.

And it's a good feeling.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Holding My Hand

It's weird. He's holding my hand and instead of the warmth I know I'm supposed to feel, I just want to snatch it away. No matter how hard I try to pretend, this is just wrong.


And hours later, I hold my own hand and there it is; the warmth I was missing from contact with another human being. I feel it holding my own hand. I want to hold my hand longer and think about this for a while, and revel in that feeling, that feeling of being held, but I can't.

I'm at work and I need to use my hand for other things.

Like writing my stories.

So I struggle. I struggle against the need to need. I struggle against the need for external validation.

"Hey, so what did you think of my story? The one about you?"

"You mean it's out? Sorry Jen, still haven't read it."

And I deflate like a balloon, like a punctured football...and think, oh well, never mind. I liked my own story anyway.

And I'll hold my own hand.

Friday, July 01, 2011

It's The Story Of...

I've just finished writing my first cover. For the main magazine. I also wrote the cover for the lifestyle portion but that I finished on Monday. (Efficient, girl, efficient, efficient). I now have to write the sidebars to go with the main story.

Instead, I am rummaging through my various bags trying to find my iPod. No cigar. I must have left it at home when I tumbled out the contents of my bag onto my bed. My phone battery is on its last legs. Forgot that it was time to charge it last night. And this is a battery that goes from hero to zero in about a split second. No warning.

I wish I could have gone and hung out with Mark last night. Mark and friends, that is. They were celebrating his last day at the Concorde. There was to be lots and lots of alcohol and no one was supposed to remember anything in the morning. But if you're doing the cover, you don't go party with your friends (especially if you've already been out partying twice that week).

I am constantly pickled. So much so that I burp up red wine during lunch time and think...hmmmm.

I'm relatively OK with my story. I scribbled it out at Sids in Taman Tun yesterday, whence I repaired when my clogged brain was just not giving me any love at the office. The moment I sat down and smelled the familiar fumes, I called for a pipe and I called for a bowl and I called for my fiddlers, I actually called for some paper and started to write furiously. I got the intro. The second para. The third para. All the stuff that required quotes I put up a ... I scribbled a three-page long story (complete with ellipsis) And somewhere through my pen ran out of ink which is no problem when you know the manager and Rick let me borrow the pub's pen which meant that for the duration I was scribbling away, all of them were sharing one pen.

(Journalists really ought to carry spare pens and name cards - also paper...I am a disgrace to journalists).

I received a call from the PA I had trouble with a couple of weeks ago. Or was it last week? Time seems to travel so quickly over here, that:

I thought I saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned me in Greek:
I looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
'The one thing I regret,' I said,
'Is that it cannot speak!'

Yeah, that kind of thing. There I am strolling along in the balmy weekend and suddenly I'm kicked into the middle of next week. It's an unsettling feeling. Alcohol may have something to do with it, especially the blood of grapes.

Anyway bout the PA: she said that she loved, she simply loved my story about her boss and that all the staff including him, were very excited about it, and that it was very well written, and we should do tea sometime and she would come to my office because her husband works in the next building and she would come over with him and we could have tea and she could pick up the paper with the story that they missed...and...and...and

OK I'm going to go look for coffee now. I'll walk, clear my head, come back and write the two side stories.

That's what you do when your mind is a labyrinth, a torrent of swirled threads, tangled, tangled, tangled....who is that again? Is there someone on the outside looking in?

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Lady Next Door

There's something going on with the lady next door. Only I don't know what. She has been there for years, and I notice her without noticing her. I notice the children she babysits (kind of like background music because they spend a good deal of the time bawling their heads off), I notice the friends she has over (and old lady), I notice her getting thinner and thinner, I notice her going out with a girl, for lunch.

I notice without noticing.

And recently her "husband" who left her and went to China came back, all smiley and pleased with himself. He had his new wife and little baby in tow. Proudly showed them off. Here, right under his wife's nose. His first wife, that is. He showed up just after the disaster in Japan, when the radiation could have spread to China. He showed up and just expected to be put up. I don't know what happened but he was there a few days and suddenly wasn't there anymore.

I couldn't believe he could do that to her. To not only leave her like that, but to show up and rub her neighbours' faces into his new life. This was a nice guy, a smiley guy, it didn't seem like the kind of thing that he would do.

But then, he didn't seem like the kind of guy who would ditch his wife and take off with some nubile young thing.

And he did.

And she grew thinner and thinner. She took in these spoiled, annoying kids to make ends meet. Kids who would start screaming their heads off the moment their parents tried to drop them off.

It couldn't have been fun.

And she rented out rooms.

Except that recently, it doesn't seem like she has any more tenants. No one parks inside. The tenants always used to park inside.

And I never thought about how lonely she must be. And how miserable. I never thought that maybe, one day, when I made muffins or red velvet cake, I could have offered it to her over the fence.

Some gesture. Some friendly gesture.

Yes, I know there were friends and she was rarely alone.

But I never allowed myself to think about how miserable, sad and lonely she must be.

And today, one of her friends was banging on the door. I was outside and I looked. Her friend smiled sheepishly and continued to bang and call her.

No answer.

And just now, I heard someone calling again. And this time it penetrated the thick fog of white noise that envelops me, making me oblivious to my surroundings.

Where was she? If she had gone off on holiday, why didn't her friends know?

Could she have...would she have...?

And for the first time, I thought of the slow rotting inside...the sense of betrayal, the anger, the having to survive somehow, while he was smiling and happy and showing off his new wife, his new kid.

What must it have been like for her when he came.

What must it have been like for her when he spoke to us and said, lookie here, my wife, my kid...lookie here.

And that look on her face, the look I saw without seeing.

How could I have been so oblivious?

I will watch out for her tomorrow. I will watch and see and update these pages, some record at least of a person, a sad, lonely person, who is here near me.

I once sat next to a woman on a park bench and she spoke to me about her life and all I could see was her loneliness. That's all I registered.

But she wasn't just her loneliness. She prayed for everyone around her. In fact, she managed to get me to follow her home and put me on her hard as board sofa and I heard the Rosary beads clicking as she prayed for me that night, glad I was there, glad that for one night at least, she didn't have to be alone.

And I fell into a deep, sweet sleep, one of the deepest and sweetest sleeps I have ever had.

She was a powerful prayer.

We were on the train and a young man, the long-haired dodgy-looking type came up to her and said, do you remember me? And she looked down, afraid, because she tends to attract violent types.

But he said...I was one of those youth in that church...and you prayed for me. Thank you.

He said that to her.

She was a powerful prayer.

And I think about her now because I'm thinking...all this time, I couldn't spare one prayer for the poor, lonely lady next door. Couldn't say, God, please lift her spirits, strengthen her, raise her up, give her back her joy in life.

I say it now.

Now, when it may be too late.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

And For The Record I Was Lost

Thursday I got lost.I drove for two hours circling around, paying about a hundred dollars in tolls, running out of petrol, and guess what? Forgot to charge my phone so it kept beeping to tell me, hey, I'm running out of battery. I prayed, I screamed, I begged, I implored, and still I circled.

In all the wrong places.

No petrol station.

No more petrol.

Yet another toll booth. I asked the guy. Hey? Petrol station? Anywhere? Anywhere?

He smiled. Nodded. Said...just follow the signs for KL.

I asked Hulu Langat? How do I get to that exit?

The serene smiling Buddha said...just follow the signs...the signs for KL.

OK, so I was getting somewhere. The first good thing was finding a proper petrol station. And getting some food into my baby that had been shuddering frighteningly in the middle of nowhere. That would have been the icing on the cake.

And the next was finding that fricking exit. Yes. 9th Mile. Only I went straight along the road, ended up on the outside, turned back and went straight to the...police station.

A cheerful officer came out to show me the way. He gesticulated...go straight along this road, you'll see a sign. A big sign. You cannot miss it.

Problem is...go straight along this road could have been in two directions. He didn't think of that. And of course, I didn't see the sign. Because the road I chose, there was no sign. Double back in heavy, heavy traffic. A traffic light that doesn't change for hours.

The PA has managed to make one more call to my dying phone. She estimated that close as I was, I'd be there in 10 minutes tops.

Stuck at that traffic light it had already been 20.

I was so so late, it was not funny. I could feel my stomach heaving and churning. I felt my throat close up, a recent symptom of stress. My forehead burning. Roiling is a good word. I was a roiling cauldron of emotion. Only the bad ones.

The PA seemed more amused than anything. And sarcastic. She said, go ahead, take your time, we have nothing better to do but wait for you. And when finally, finally, I was on the right road, and saw the bleeping sign and made my way up the bleeping right road, and found the place (oh glory, glory) and got out the car and ran for it...she came smiling sweetly and said...people have gotten lost before, they've been late before, but never two hours.

Smirk, smirk.

I don't know why she hated me so much.

You know how some people smile and you feel like they're chewing ground glass?

You know how some people are perfectly civil to you, and you feel like they're spewing vitriol?

That was her.

But perhaps I'm being unfair. I mean she had only blocked the interview by pretending her CEO was not interested and had postponed it indefinitely and telling him I had found someone else to interview.

She laughed on the phone, speaking to me, in one of my numerous phone calls and said...yes, yes, I'll see him today, I'll ask him again. It doesn't look good though, I have to tell you.

Yeah, I have to tell you.
Couldn't lie to you
Wouldn't want to do that
No, we both wouldn't want that.

Operator the line is dead.

And finally, I said, fuck this, and sent him an email directly. And he said...surprise, surprise, I thought you were no longer interested. And proceeded to give me a time instantly.

A time, mind you, that I had already missed.

And being an important CEO of a listed company, he was chock a block with other meetings.

And my photographer had already come and gone.


I arrived. Was treated to her unctuous smiles and "you just sit there and cool off, calm down, my, my, but you're late, really late, no one has ever been this late before."

And her boss turned and glanced at my disheveled self and said...take your time, don't worry. And then although there were two merchant bankers and one VIP already there, waiting on meetings, and let's face it, much higher up the food chain than some stray reporter, he proceeded to give me a one-and-a-half hour interview.

She stuck her head in halfway, grinning like a banshee...I'm so sorry, but they've been waiting too long...what do I tell them? It's time.

Hurry up please, it's time.

Hurry up please, it's time.

Hurry up please, it's time.

Hurry up please, it's time.

And he nodded calmly, waited for her to close the door again, and went on talking.

I said, I'm sorry this is all my fault.

He said, don't worry about it, they can wait.

And so they waited.

And I staggered out of there one and a half hours later.

Found my way home with no trouble at all.

And promptly fell ill from all the stress on Friday. When I had to file the story.

But I did. Oh Sigmund. I did.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Am I Crazy Or Falling In Love

I've just finished transcribing an interview. I want to go home now. I was a cool interview and I found myself smiling incessantly. So Joyce, who's sitting across from me thinks I have yet another crush (she thought I was crushing on her contact she introduced me to...I liked him...he was charming...but considering crush? I don't think so).

I put pictures of my friends and my dog around me. Also two poems. And it was a very very good idea. Sometimes when I'm smiling it's because of what the interviewee was talking about. Sometimes, it's because Mark is standing there with his guitar and smiling at me in that blurred reproduction taken with my phone. Or because Mary and Prabs and struggling with their umbrellas pulling in different directions, laughing. Or because Arnold has perched his forelegs on my bed and is looking at me intently. Or because I have my arms around Nits and we're both smiling in close-up. Or because Jackie is laughing with the setting sun in Cagnes sur Mer in the background. Or because I'm in my Santa hat with my arms around Yong and Addy on either side.

And sometimes I read Lao Tzu:

In the pursuit of knowledge,
everyday something is added.
In the practice of the Way,
everyday something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.

And I breathe and take it in. Something to remind myself of from time to time. And there is my Edge Financial Daily mug stained with lipstick. Sort of dark red. Can't remember what I used today. And there is some red fabric draped around one side of my cubicle, courtesy of Anna, whose desk I am up against.

And there is my crushed napkin with the scribbled words - I was going to throw it away - but my colleague Zaquan, who dropped in on my sandwich and book for lunch and told me his favourite author of all time is David Foster Wallace...told me to save it. He said..hang it up, as is.

Zaquan's an artist. In fact, they seem to be crawling out of the woodwork here. They look so corporate and professional on the surface. And underneath...oh Sigmund, underneath.

Decorating my desk was a declaration of sorts. After keeping my head down and just doing my work for the three weeks I've been here.

I raise my head. I sniff a little.

Now I can go home now. I can email my transcription to myself and work on it at home.

Or else I can go music shopping. I recently discovered a local artist I want to hear more of.

If it's the mind that causes suffering, then if you learn to control your mind, you alleviate said suffering. So when I'm stuck in a funk unable to figure out how I'm going to get a story, I take a deep breath, say a prayer and relax. Doodle on my notepad. Write crazy Facebook updates. Comment on my own updates. Chat. Listen to Rainbow Connection. Crush (that seems to be a theme in my life right now). And send out good thoughts. Good vibes. Uncomplicated by the static of hopelessness and helplessness and sheer panic.

At least I hope I do.

Later for you.

Humpty Dumpty

You know how it is, when you pack your laptop and tape recorder to go to Backyard, listen to Mark and transcribe your interview in between sets...and then suddenly people turn up and invite you to join them and the whole thing turns into an impromptu party and suddenly you think, to hell with isn't about trying to transcribe interview in pubs. Rather it is loving the people who love you, hanging out with the people who actually want to hang out with you...getting famously inebriated and singing at the top of your voice, dancing like there's no one watching.

I hope you dance, hey?

And then...when everyone leaves and Mark has one set to go and I'll wait it out until he which time I'm too drunk to get out my computer and it's so much unnecessary baggage anyway, so instead, I pluck a napkin from the centre and start to scribble (because being drunk usually means that feelings bottled up rise to the top like cream...and have to, have to, have to be expressed)

And today, I uncrumple the napkin hastily stuffed into my little red bag and here's what I find:

So much of life is waiting around for permission
Holding our breath till someone says it's OK...

It's OK, it really is
and until we hear those words
we tie ourselves up in knots
don't sleep at night
cry into our pillows
because we're never good enough
never, never, never, never, never
And it's alright
it really is.

Just fall apart
and keep shattering
and when you're done
pick yourself up
piece by piece
piece by piece
until you're all picked up
and put yourself together again.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I Informed You Thusly; I So Informed You Thusly!

My car is looking respectable. Arnold threw up in my backseat last night (I didn't notice) and when I was taking Dadda out for his Father's Day lunch, Arnold scrambled into the backseat and I noticed it for the first time...and then, with all the windows down, I noticed it even more. So hacking and gagging, I drove Dadda to Rumahku. Luckily Chubs showed up so Dadda could go back with him and I could drive straight to my car wash guy. He listened patiently to my tale of woe and figured out how to clean my car for RM20 less than it would normally cost.

(I think my car wash guy likes me, which is good, because the car came out of the experience, sparkling and minty fresh).

Then I got home to see Chubs sprawled on the sofa watching my Big Bang Theory (season 4) and giggling to himself. And Arnold hurled himself on me, with those eyes, telling me that it was time to go out.

So after tea, and writing this...I am going out...lots of errands I should have done earlier which I will have to do now. With Arnold in car. Maybe now he has thrown up the entire contents of his stomach (those darn antibiotics just don't agree with him) he won't throw up again.

OK he has just done his noise that sounds like he's trying to tell me something. Like hey girl who feeds me, it's time to go OUT!

So here I go.

Jumping now.


Friday, June 17, 2011

The Waiting Game

OK the editor just called me up to discuss my story for the week, my first major story in this magazine/newspaper. The ones I've done so far have been frivolous (an advertorial, a light-hearted look at the new kids on the corporate block).

But today, it was different. I was put on the weekly this week and by reading the papers every day and taking copious notes (mostly questions, because I've been out of it so long, I don't know nothing about nothing) I was able to come up with a story idea for the meeting. (Yes, PH, the meeting went well).

And I plugged away all this week, being such a pest that if I had been them, I would have switched off my phone and refused to answer. (OK one or two of them did do this, but all it meant was that I kept calling). At one point I nearly sent out a text to a contact saying:

"Sad. Nobody loves me. Nobody called me back or answered my questions."

But just as I was about to press "send" somebody called me back. And then someone called me on top of the first person calling me and got call waiting. And then a third person called. So, well, I suddenly felt very loved and aborted said message.

So anyway, my editor (who doesn't know me or my work and as such cannot be biased in my favour like my dear Anna who worked with me in BT can) said he hardly had to do anything to my story. "It was good. You write well." And he sort of looked surprised.

I felt this rush, you know, like the top of your head spinning when you read good poetry. Dial it back two weeks when I was busy getting daily migraines (while writing close-one-eye advertorials, for crying out loud) because of performance anxiety. The only good thing is that I recognised it for performance anxiety and was able to address it.

Mostly by having my weekends off and not thinking or talking about work and hanging out with Arnold and making red velvet cake (yeah OK there was a purpose for that last week) and walking aimlessly around Bangsar and sitting at the vet for hours and talking to other dog lovers who called my baby a handsome boy, and, and, get the picture.

Tomorrow, however, I have promised to help someone with something corporate. Also somebody else will be sending me "talking points" and I am supposed to write a speech. So if any of this goes through then I think I'll have less of a relaxing weekend.

And Monday is so far away (doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore, it would be so fine to see your face at my door, doesn't help to know that you're just time away...) OK I just found the song on my iPod and am listening to it. I love Carole King.

Maybe I can go home early after all. And take my doggie out. He needs a bath.

I am not drunk but I feel like drunk texting somebody. And saying "so far away" or maybe "one town's very like another when your head's down over your pieces, brother."

Anyone out there?



OK I thought I was done except for checking pages to see that everything was hunky dory but apparently I wasn't. The editor swung and saw me goofing around on Facebook and asked very politely if I had finished market. Which had me scrambling. Because I thought he had given market to someone else, seeing as I was busy trying to finish my story.

So I undid all the good work of my story by giving in what was probably the world's worst market round-up. Bad news, oh lookie here, more bad news, and even more bad news. In fact, a fricking Greek tragedy (and I'm not talking about the debt crisis here).

What is Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, that he would weep for her?

Yet I,
A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak
Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause,
And can say nothing

And it was too late to call analysts so I decided to call my good friend Omar who, I had lately been chatting with about really important things like fat men and Abbotsbury and chocolate cake and twee tea places. And Omar, who has having a beer, came through. He sent me to look up comparative PE ratios (a little bit of a challenge as I'm spastic around the Bloomberg machine - CP? Really? Equity? Where? And what's the pneumonic for Maybank again? And what's the largest company on the index? It's been years...years since I've done market. And guess what? Even when I did it before, I never liked it. Never, never, never, never, never) He gave me a lot of funny quotes, sent me to look up Dr Doom's article about the Greek crisis, told me about this being down and that being down and in fact, everything being down - haha China..inflation up, IPO market soft (like a teddy bear) and cuddly too...

And so I managed to write....

the world's worst



My bad.

My fricking bad.

Oh boy.

I wish I could leave now and go out for a drink with Nitsy Poo.

But the copy editors have gone for their my copies are stuck somewhere in the process of being processed like candy floss or the rubber on your soles....or spiderman costumes.

You can see I'm losing it.

Losing, losing, losing...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Nothing in Particular

Wow, the last time I updated was first thing Monday morning? And lookit here, it's Wednesday night. Monday sort of morphed into two interviews, me running around like a headless chicken, asking questions, taping answers and then Tuesday...well Tuesday...I don't remember what I did Tuesday, because I only managed to transcribe said interviews today...and am wondering how I'm going to write stories. I had intended to write the stories when I got home. In fact, I even emailed myself the transcription in a fit of optimism.

Instead, I ate lots of brie cheese on crackers, watched eight episodes of Big Bang Theory back to back, goofed around with my little Arnold boy who's pleased as punch to spend time, except for the brief instances where he insists on being let out to misbehave (and by misbehave, I mean, start barking and then chasing people on the I have to go out and roar for him in stentorian tones, cos that's what I do when Arnold misbehaves, and he knows I'm the only one who'll smack him on the tookus, so his ears and tail go down and he slinks back in, then wags his tail and comes to play, and I think what the heck and roll around the floor with him because he's my chumby wumby puppy doggie).

Obviously I'm not going to work tonight. I need to take a shower though. And I'm hot, hot, hot (and not in a good way) and wondering...geez, shower? I'm sleepy, and then there's work....and basically my thoughts are as scattered as a shattered window...looking out at the dark, looking in at...somebody sitting at a desk, writing away, writing away, doing what they're supposed to do, because that's what good girls do, what they're supposed to do...and bad eight episodes of TBBT back to back and eat lots of cheese (and maybe a few grapes) and nothing much besides.

Maybe I'm on overload.

You think?


Just another washed out Wednesday.

People keep telling me stories and making me cry.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Thing Monday Morning

So I'm in early, sort of early (I mean there were people in here earlier than me, because this is Malaysia and there is always someone more kiasu than you around), and had time to clear my email (three - please make the necessary amendments and one, no you can't have the interview we tentatively promised you).

Then there is the going through the paper...well, I've done nothing but the lead so far, though I fully expect to finish reading the paper before lunch. OK the most attractive girl in the office (in my opinion, anyway) has just walked in with her hair done up in a chignon, sort of elegant, regal even. By the way she is dressed, I know she has an interview today. (You can always tell by the way a reporter is dressed if they're going out or not for the day). I'm in comfy non-corporate clothes, so you know I am so staying in today, except that...well, there may be drinks at Backyard later...maybe with contacts....but considering how the week has started off with people flaking on me, I'm not so sure.

The thing, my dear Jennifer, is not to take any of this personally.

What happened to your thick skin?

I know, I know. But you know, first thing Monday morning, it's nice to have an interview secured so there's at least one story you can bank on.

Instead of this big fat nothing staring me in the face.

We come from nothing, we go to nothing...nothing is what we're all about.

OK then, thanks for reminding me. I'll try to bear that in mind when I'm sitting there, mind blank, humming Nella Fantasia, or So Far Away (doesn't anybody stay in one place anymore, it would be so fine to see your face at my door, doesn't help to know...)

OK lalalalalalala you gotta song stuck in my head. Darn you! Now I'll have to go on singing it...yeah, you're just time away, long ago I reached for you and there you stood, holding you again could only do me good...Darn you Alternate Self!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Many Lives of...

OK it's 7.43pm now and I am still in the office. The first time I've stayed this late. Why? Cos it's Friday. You stay late on Friday to close pages. But I'm all done. My stories have been cleared and my pages (such as they are) are closed.

So I get my first byline tomorrow. Which is always a yay moment for any reporter. And I have a tentative date at Backyard on Monday. With contacts (takes me back to NST days, oh death in life, the days that are no more).

I can go home, take Arnold out for his walkies and then chill. Maybe watch a little Big Bang. Maybe ask Chubs if he wants to go out for a movie.

I have a little notebook with story ideas for Monday's meeting. Yay! I was worried about story ideas...but it seems that sitting down and reading the paper gives them to me.

Also calling contacts and chatting with them over the phone and having a little gossip. They now say, oh dear, you're a reporter again now, I have to be careful what I say. And then they proceeded to not be. Which is great. Spill those beans, baby, spill 'em, spill 'em.

I had a really awful drink (nice company, awful bar, godawful drink, more so for Addy who asked for rum and got bacardi instead - that tasted like cough mixture). We went to Rainforest because Mark was singing. He had a lump in his throat - so short sets. Also, he couldn't sing his usual numbers because the Rainforest crowd favours loud loud music (the kind that makes you cover your ears and run).

Never mind. Backyard on Monday. And since it will be a semi-work thing, schmoozing with contacts, I don't have to feel guilty about it.

Thing about work. It tends to take over your life. But I don't mind it when I'm in the press. I only mind if I'm anything else.

Nam sayin?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rainy Days and Thursdays

I have finished what I was supposed to do, so I am lolling at my desk, updating this, listening to subdued conversations take place all around me (today is Thursday, it is quite a buzzing day here) and trying to read the paper all at once. Talk about multi-tasking. Now, if I stop up my ears with earphones and listen to Nella Fantasia et al. I will be able to concentrate on reading the paper. Except that I am not reading the paper. I am updating this.

The past few days have been weird. I get so tense that I end everyday with a blinding migraine. So blinding that I can barely drive home. Now I know that these guys are going way easy on me and have only given me easy stuff to begin with. So that means I am stressing myself out for nothing.

Yesterday, first thing in the morning, I asked a colleague if he had Panadol. No, but he had Vitamin C tablets, the kind you dissolve in water, which he said always gave him the requisite pick-me-up. So I took two. Then, he asked around and found some aspirin for me (can anyone be nicer?).

After lunch I stopped by at Borders and picked out a volume of Edna St Vincent Millay. I read the famed Renascence and then turned to my favourite (maybe because we did this poem in university):

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply;
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands a lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet know its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone;
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

I don't know if you've noticed but the last stanza so to speak about her boughs being more silent than before is sort of a mirror of a Shakespeare sonnet which begins thus (or should I say thusly?):

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.

Anyway, because I'm weird I stroll along on my solitary way repeating phrases to myself like "where late the sweet birds sang" or "what lips my lips have kissed" or "in sooth, I know not why I am so sad."

Is it any wonder that nobody wants to hang out with me and I get weirder and more isolated by the minute?

Anyway, so yesterday I finished the stories that have been weighing me down and causing me all this stress and I left the office for the first time without a migraine. Which was kind of good because it had been raining intermittently and there was a massive jam outside.

Which meant I couldn't take Arnold for his evening walk (he was not happy about that) and ended up sprawled on the sofa watching numerous episodes of Big Bang Theory instead.

Oh the humanities!

Classic Sheldon!

So I interviewed someone I thought was nice but I am revising my opinion in the face of his not answering my email to clarify something or to comment on what I sent him. I have to really learn to detach from these people and understand that PR personalities are just that. PR. Puff of smoke. Nothing underneath.


I could use a drink tonight.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Fireflies and Dog Bites

Here I am again, post-lunch, falling asleep as I do some research on the computer. So I decided to update this, my much neglected blog. I didn't have a heavy lunch. Just a Subway sandwich. But apparently that's enough. I'm listening to Owl City's Fireflies. It is strangely soothing. Maybe that's it.

It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep
Because my dreams are bursting at the seams...

So anyway, there was the weekend. It came and went. Sunday was particularly busy. I had a to-do list. I did some of it.Missed out on some others. I'll forgive myself anyway. Nobody's perfect.

Cos I get a thousand hugs
from 10,000 lightning bugs
as they try to teach me
how to dance

Fireflies has a special place in my heart. Mark bluetoothed it to my ex-phone. The one I lost in the boondocks of a toll operator's office (it was the back of beyond, the middle of nowhere and my phone, my phone, my precious phone was lost forevah!)

Some good things happened today. I've landed an interview I really wanted to land. And I did it for the most part by being cheeky and unsober. I posted a card I was supposed to post last week. When I asked a few colleagues the way to the post office they looked at me funny. Apparently no one goes to the post office anymore. At least, not to post cards. To pay bills maybe.

What can I say, I write with a fountain pen, I send actual honest-to-God cards.

An anachronism and proud of it.

Arnold bit a guy today. Dadda called to tell me. He bit him hard. The guy who had come to change our gas cylinder. Dadda had relaxed his vigilance for a bit and suddenly the poor man was screaming, uncle, uncle, your dog bit me!

(Is it bad that when Dadda told me the story, instead of reacting with the horror I should have, I started to laugh? Maybe it's because Arnold's got broken teeth. Still, his bites hurt. Ask Auntie Ann. She got bitten. She had to sit down. And the guy who came to buy our old newspapers. He got bitten. He had to sit down)

All in all, just with us, he's bitten three people. At the shelter, he attacked another dog. Silly dog didn't realise that he is old and at a disadvantage. The younger dog came back strongly (Arnold had pinned him down at first, taking him by surprise) and took off a chunk of skin under his ear. The bad ear. Sabrina treated it with medicine and it healed nicely.

I can't understand it.

He used to have the sweetest personality. Castration affects different dogs differently, I guess. You'd have thought that there would be an easing of aggression. But this dog was not aggressive to begin with. And now he's become a bit of a nightmare.

Not to me. Because if he misbehaves in front of me, I wallop the heck out of him. (You haven't seen scary until you've seen me in a towering rage) And I'll do it if I have to crawl under a lorry to retrieve him. (He attacked the cute schnauzer that hangs out near our house and ran to hide under the lorry as I chased him bellowing wildly...there was hell to pay...I made sure of it).

OK this blog has served its purpose.

I'm awake now.

May help that the song has switched to Walking on Air.

There's so many ways to say you love her
It's so easy when you make the first move
then you're walking on air
walking on air
walking on air
love won't let you come down.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Angel Unawares

Next time you pass a source of light, pause and look at it carefully. There are angels hovering around it like moths. And you'll know there are angels because there will be a pause in the ever deepening darkness around you, like someone cut in, distracted you, and suddenly, just like magic you're focused on something else.

Something totally different.

Sometimes, the angels even come when you forget to call.

And the light sources are never what you think. No, not that fluorescent hovering above you. Not the yellow lamp pulsating benignly. Not the candle in all its mellifluous effluence.

None of that.

Sometimes it's a dog.

Sometimes a person. The kind of person you don't notice because they are not insecure enough to be conspicuous. The kind of person who has a walk-on role in your life, and in the space of that minute, you pass them, you feel better, you're indebted, but you don't know who you owe.

And that's the way it's supposed to be.

Just Another Frantic Friday

OK I can't help it. I'm updating this in the office. When I get back home at night after the work, Arnold tries to scramble into the car. He wants to go for a ride, then a walk. Of course I have to change out of my office clothes first. And therein lies the problem. Because the moment I see my bed, I flop on it. And pass out for a while.

It's not that I'm stressed or that I've been given anything major to do. I guess it's just the stress of being in a new place, among strange people. When you put an animal in a new environment, the first thing it exhibits is stress. No matter how friendly the environment.

Everyone has been nice. My desk head Kevin started the ball rolling by taking me and a bunch of others out to lunch to welcome me. It was incredibly sweet. My first day, there was a briefing with HR, a setting up of the computer and then to work. I'd met the editor in chief a few days before (coming in to the office for the meeting before I was due to start work) to be given assignments, projects to handle. She said they were short-staffed, and needed to mobilize all resources.

What this means is that I don't go for daily assignments or do the day-to-day stuff as yet. Not that I'm complaining. No, I don't complain. I just nod off at my computer.

I have a very sweet kid sitting next to me. But today, I received an email to say, I'm being moved. So all the roots I've put out in these past two days (all two of them) I have to pull up.

Oh well, when I went to Seattle way back when (I think it was 1998, during the heights of our financial crisis just after we announced capital controls and all hell broke loose) I visited Microsoft. (I didn't choose to, it was part of the itinerary). The thing I'll always take away from that experience is seeing this guy standing at the reception in shorts and nothing else while the rest of us shivered in our overcoats, it being Seattle and rainy, basically shivery weather. We turned to each other and nodded solemnly. "Must be a programmer." I stared and continued to stare because that's what I do. If Nits had been there, she would have asked me to be more discreet. As it was, I stared to my heart's content and the programmer didn't seem to mind as he was either performing or oblivious. But that's not what I wanted to tell you. When these two from Microsoft gave us a presentation about the company one of the things they said was that people change offices every six months. There were, like, 22 or 23 buildings sprawled all over this plot and because people kept changing offices, no one ever knew which office Bill happened to be in. Which was both a security thing as well as the way he liked it. Apparently, one of the Microsoft values was the ability to "turn on a dime". No roots, no habits, no getting comfortable anywhere. (Although if you were a programmer, you did have free tomato juice, a sleeping bag under your desk, and a shower so you never had to leave the office. LIKE EVER)

Everyone is polite and professional here (as I've been told over and over again). They're quiet and basically just do their work. Yesterday, there was a husky fellow wandering around and speaking loudly and when I sneaked a peek I saw that he was from some corporate. He walked around and disturbed everyone. And didn't seem to get that he was disturbing everyone, because of course, they were polite about it.

OK I need to get back to work.

I just wanted some token update and am too tired to do it at night.

I haven't settled in yet.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Day Before The Day

There is a shocking pink doggie bed on the floor of my room. A recent acquisition. Today, actually. After I finished the slew of errands that I had to get through before D-hour, I went out there and bought my Arnold what in doggie-world should be the heights of luxury. A doggie bed. I didn't think he'd mind the colour. After all, it's roomy and comfortable.

But Arnold, being Arnold, and rapidly turning back into his spoilt self (the emotional effects of the shelter apparently wearing off, though not the cough or the cold) sniffed disdainfully at it. I coaxed him on by sitting on it and gathering him into my lap. Then slowly removing myself and allowing him to test it out. He rolled
over once or twice, caught up my hand and pretended to bite it (a favourite game) and after a bit, he'd had enough and picked himself and trotted off the more attractive floor. Where he's seated himself out of reach, but where he has direct sight of said hideous bed and whatever else I might be up to. Have to give him his second dose of cough mixture today and am not looking forward to it. Mostly cos he hates it and fights pretty hard. I don't seem to have the knack of giving this dog his medicine. At best, he spits it out. At worst, he throws up.

It was a busy day. After Arnold woke me up with his usual hacking cough (I thought I'd taken care of that, somewhat, but apparently it's more persistent that I thought) and I forced his antibiotic and then his cough mixture down his throat, I fell back into bed for a short nap (pretty short, I had a full day and couldn't afford to sleep as much as I wanted) and then took myself off.

First to immigration to go see about my wrecked passport which they were giving me a break on and not filing a case. When I'd told my friend Harvinder about the broken bottle of port in my bag and the drenched passport, she leaned back coolly and asked me to "be prepared" for a whole heap of shit.

Apparently when you mess with your passport in anyway, immigration comes down heavy on you. Hers had disappeared into the washing machine, courtesy of a husband who didn't like clothes strewn on the floor, post-trip, gathered them all into his not-so-scrawny arms and dumped them higgledy piggledy into the machine.

Apparently when your passport goes through the wash, it looks worse than when it is baptised by a bottle of port.

Who knew?

Anyway, an immigration officer who identified herself as Subashini called me: "Miss Jennifer, I'm the officer assigned to look into your case. Actually the damage is not too bad. You can come do the passport the normal way."

Which is why when I finally made it there at 10 in the morning (which is very late by immigration standards) and finally managed to locate her, she greeted me with a smile and said, "next time don't be so careless with your passport or we'll have to open a case." I hung my head, dug my toe into the ground, and "aw shucksed" like any errant teenager. Then she handed me over to a smiling fellow who processed everything quicksmart and asked me to stick around to pay for my passport.

"How long?"

"Not long. Maybe 15 minutes."

"Oh good. I have time to get to an ATM."

And I was out and back in the appointed time. And the cashier dudette said, "OK come back at 11.45 to collect your new passport." It was 10.45 then. I went out for an ill-conceived wander around Section 17 which is large and sprawling and where the road numbers make no sense at all. I traversed the length and breadth without finding the road I wanted. But when it got close to 11.45 and I had to head back to immigration, I saw roads that looked close to what I wanted.

So I went back (getting very familiar with this carpark now - thankfully today, no creepy dudes tailgating me) sprinted upstairs, just in time for my number to be called. Who'd have thunk?

So there I was, fresh with new passport, a good start to the day. Then it was off for my medical (starting a new job after all, and it's apparently par for the course, though I've had two jobs in between this and my first real job with no medical at all, none!).

This time, I found the road straight away. A little more difficult trying to park but eventually I did. And then I was in and out in about 20 minutes. Urine sample. Chest X-ray. Tired-looking doc taking my blood pressure, pulse, listening to my heartbeat. Aced the eye test. Simply aced it. Which was about the only thing I could know for sure.

While sitting in the doctor's office I called my credit card company and asked them why they hadn't sent me a cheque for the amount they owed me. Instead, they had credited it into a non-existent credit card. The girl goes, oh we didn't know you wanted to cancel the card. It's only blocked not cancelled.

Hmmm. My understanding is that when someone steals your card, it's cancelled.

Neways, she said, don't worry. I've just done it. The money will be credited into your savings account by Friday. Anything else?

I hung up feeling lighthearted. More and more stuff being gotten out of the way. Amazingly I'd be able to cross everything off my to-do list today. And this with practically no sleep at all.

While I was in the throes of the medical a friend texted me. "Lunch?" Well, actually she'd texted me much earlier. I only saw it when I retrieved my phone to call the bank.

I answered: "Medical now. After?"

Which she was cool with. So after reading B and P off the charts, I took myself off to the shopping centre she was in. Only, not being familiar with the roads, I found myself heading in the wrong direction.

No problem. Internal GPS recalculating. Make a U-turn here. So I did. Light traffic which made it easy. (I love easy. It sure beats hard). Got there. Found the last bit of Supernatural Season 6 (Yay!). And the full Season 4 of Big Bang Theory (Double Yay). We had a lovely quick lunch at Subway - amounts to an obsession, but if I were not obsessive I would not be anything. Just shadow and vapour and clothes walking around without a person inside.

Then we found a hairdresser. Yay! Hairwash. Seated next to each other, chatting away over the din of the hair dryers, there was a minor adventure. The wires caught fire. Really! One minute it was a hot afternoon in nearly June and the next was a potential disaster. My guy stamped it out, removed wires that had been burned through (extension cords, what else) and fitted his hair dryer directly to the power point. And tried to act nonchalant. It sort of worked in that we calmed down. At the same time it didn't work in that we won't be going there again anytime soon.

And then it was time to grocery shop and I bumped into a famous senior journalist who'd heard from his girlfriend that I would be joining them (his girlfriend that is, not him). He said congratulations and I didn't know you lived around here and you must come by for a drink sometime. And he gave me his address. He was looking for corn chips and pineapples and he was making dinner. Salsa, or so he told me. Yum.

And then I decided to head over the other side of the road, to see if I could get Arnold a bed. I could. Ugly colour, but it was comfortable right? Isn't that what counts? Apparently not.

Anyways, I got home, unloaded the car, shooting off instructions to my father (you see, I bought fish. I'm putting it in the fridge. Don't forget to cook it. Fish. Tenggiri. I repeated a few times in case he hadn't caught it the first few hundred times) And then I climbed onto my bed, sorted out the DVDs trying to figure out which one to watch first.

Supernatural. Definitely Supernatural.

And so saying, fell fast fast asleep, so much so that I shot out of bed, heart pounding hours later thinking, oh shit, my first day of work and I'm late.

I wasn't.

It was still the night before.

Time for bed.

Good night sweet princes/ses.

The Flaneur That Was

I wish I was writing this when I was wide awake and halfway sober. OK I am sober. The one brandy warm water didn't do much and I didn't feel like a second or third drink although Louis and then Mark urged most pressingly.

Sometimes you just don't feel like drinking. So what can you do?

I went to Backyard for the first time in weeks. So much so that Mark greeted me with:

"You haven't been here for two years? Where have you been? Down South?"

And I replied: "Two years? Now I know you're Indian. If I had doubts before."

(For those not in the know, Indians tend to exaggerate. Everything)

Mark has come up with a new song. His own. Music and lyrics. It was really catchy and he said, "This one's for Jennifer."

I listened and couldn't identify it but liked it anyway and later when he came around he told me. His own song.

All I can say is wow.

So I went there alone because none of my peeps were available and because when no one is available and I want to go, I go anyway. But the Monday night crowd is as familiar as an old blanket that kind of smells of you, you know one part perfume, two parts sweat...

Anyway, I seated myself at one of the "good command of the stage" seats and then saw Louis who was sitting in what was my favourite place in the whole of Backyard. He beckoned for me to come join him so as I said, Backyard on a Monday night. Full of familiar people. Of course some are the familiar people you don't want to see, like the skinny model who has the hots for Mark and shoots me this contemptuous look as she sails off to play pool, her hair falling in perfect waves around her perfect little skinny face.

Mark catches me glancing her way and says: "Yes, she irritates me too."

Although I'm not sure he means it. Probably trying to be nice. After all, I haven't been here for two years, so must be nice to me. Not many people scream, stomp and cheer like I do.

Fans. Can't put a value on them.

So I say, hey, guess what? My days of bumming are over.

And Mark says, really? where?

And I say, The Edge. I start Wednesday.

And he says, OK. Well congratulations. Where is it again?

And I say, opposite the Curve.

And Louis (who is drunk by now, polishing off half a bottle of Chivas Regal) tells me about various people in the bar. He asks about one. Tells me about another. Gets really agitated when some young girls and old men start dancing.

I watch the cliche playing out on Jerry's newly installed wooden dance floor and will myself to just be. Not have any judgements about it. After all, everyone is here to have fun. And people are probably having the same reaction to me sitting with Louis and chatting with him. Married man. I'm chums with his wife. I ask why he didn't bring her. He says she has to wake up early for work. That sort of thing. So we just chat. But someone from the outside looking in could have judgements about it.

And it's been a hectic week. I've had NST chasing me for two stories which sort of divided like amoeba into four. The thing was, two was impossible. Four was simple. And manageable. You know how paradoxical some of these paradoxes are.

Arnold is back with me. I took him back. He had settled in at the shelter (except for a fight which he instigated with one of the younger newcomer dogs, in which he came off worse, much worse) and kennel cough. He was mad at me at first. After all, I had abandoned him. He stayed by the gate for two days and howled. Sabrina ignored him. And then, hungry, tired and heartsick, he went up to her. And she fed him. And little Arnold transferred his affection. When I came, he saw me, jumped up to lick me once, and then went back and stuck close to her.

What did I expect?

I bundled him into the car and he climbed all over me trying to look out of the window. He hadn't wanted to leave the shelter. He didn't trust me anymore.

When we got home, he ran up and jumped on Dadda. I was surprised that the D-man got a much more enthusiastic reception than me. But, whatever. I had stopped along the way to buy him some food - rice and meat. One thing Sabrina said was that no matter what was wrong with him, his appetite was good. Very good. Arnold REALLY loved his food.

Funny how he was always so fussy with us and left half his food or turned up his nose at it, no matter how expensive. This has changed. I filled his bowl with rice and meat and Arnold went for it, with a vengeance. He left the bowl clean.


Sabrina also told me that Arnold was somewhat of a Houdini. He would jump and nudge open the bolts on the gates and let the other dogs out into an area they were not supposed to be. Then he would bark to alert her (she would be doing something inside and he wanted her to come out) and she would come out and herd the dogs back in, wondering how they got out. It happened a few times before she caught on as to who was the culprit. After which she tied him up. And the mysterious gate-openings promptly ceased.

Last night he slept in my room for the first time since he came back last Tuesday. And he coughed and hacked all night and threw up in the morning. So I took him to the vet. Who doled out cough mixture and antibiotics. I wrestled him to the ground and fed him both when we came back. He's stopped coughing so much. And the awful discharge in both his eyes (which has been there since I picked him up) seems to have lessened.

He's mad at me now as I forced some more cough mixture down his throat when I got back from Backyard. There he was tail a-wagging to greet me, and here I was, evil with the yucky syrup and the syringe. A dog's life is full of trial and tribulation.

Like cough mixture.

And horrid little pills.

And being spanked for chasing and pinning down the schnauzer and dragged home in ignominy.

And being abandoned at will.

First one. Then the other. Nothing is sacred anymore. And you can't trust anybody.

After I've clicked publish, I'm going to see if I can coax him back to my room and soothe his storm-tossed spirits.

So yeah. Arnold's back. New job. It's been a busy week.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Sometimes I feel like someone has thrown up a wall between me and the rest of the world. None of my words get through and I seem to be existing in an alternate universe. I watch others through a glass, darkly, through a mirror, but I reach out and touch the hard surface, something impenetrable between me. And them. So many thems. All singing on the other side. They do not see me. It's like in a dream. They do not know I watch.

Being Zen is easy when you're in a spa, or in your room, sitting cross-legged on a meditation mat, chanting OM over and over again and observing your breathing. It's not as easy when you've a meeting to get to, and although you've arrived at the toll plaza two hours early, you've gone straight into a road that resembles a parking lot.

From the emergence of ambulances, you know there must be an accident up ahead. But the traffic continues to arrive and it's been 10 minutes and you have barely inched forward. 20 minutes. Half an hour.

Finally, you manage to get out of there, double back, try to find another way. To no avail. You arrive at the meeting you could not miss, 40 minutes late, to face a very pissed off client.

Try to remain Zen through it. Try to do it as every car on the road misbehaves, and you nearly get into a dozen accidents as the panic level rises. When your bones feel funny and creaky and injured as if there were hairline cracks on all, and you think, no, I cannot fall apart now, I have to make this, I cannot fall asleep now, I have to make this...

Funnily enough the first part of the journey, at the later part of four in the morning was as peaceful as the night. Some fog, a few car lights, quiet, quiet, sounds only of the MP3 plug-in, and the early early morning, caressing you with its knowing, its certainty. Yes, we were early. We would be on time. No problem.

So the traffic started to pick up around Seremban. So what? We were still early. Masses of time. So there were signs that said, traffic is slow after toll. So what? Traffic is always slow(er) after the toll. Masses of time.

But there's a difference between "slow" and "not moving at all".

And when we manage to turn back and go through Kajang, getting onto the LDP, the traffic is crawling. Another accident. And guess what? It's not only the police and ambulance that's out. There are people standing outside the IOI Mall.

"Fire drill," says Chubs, who is the one late for the meeting. I am the one trying to get him there on time and getting more frantic with each passing moment. I breathe in and out. Tell myself that this panic never got anyone anywhere. And panic a little more anyway.

Then he looks more closely. There is smoke billowing out of the mall. There are firefighters shooting jets of water into it.

"No, not a drill, there's a real fire."

And the traffic continues to crawl. A road I was following which said Petaling Jaya/Kuala Lumpur suddenly says, no, I'm heading towards Cheras. Which is not where I want to be heading. And as traffic on both sides is chock a block, I cannot inch my way into the right road. But which is the right road? The signs seem to be confused. After I change roads the signs ahead tell me that I was originally on the right road after all.

Anymore of this and I am going to hit someone real hard.


We arrive at Chubs's house and he rushes to iron a shirt and perform his ablutions. I help him with the shirt. We rush out of the house post-haste and he decides to drive because my jerky emergency braking is not helping matters any.

"Wow. This is such a strange day. We seem to be blocked every step of the way," I say.

But we take only 15 minutes to get to his office. I'm tired. Real tired. But I take over the wheel and head on home. To take a nap. Before my assignment. A few minutes at least as I'm feeling quite shattered.

I wake up to find all the veins in my eyes have popped. I have seriously red eyes. And I have to go interview these women about a national form of art. I arrive too early, so go off by myself and have a very very oily bowl of aglio olio that I don't finish. Make a mental note never to eat in this place again (OK I was giving it a chance, but apparently, it didn't deserve the chance, good to know) and then, cross the road in the midst of a thunderstorm to get to the house I have to conduct the interview in.

They're lively and engaged and nice...I'm struggling to keep awake (which sometimes happens) and after...I come home, this time to sleep. For real.

It's five hours later before I emerge from the mists of Morpheus. Chubs is supposed to call me to come pick him up as I have his car. I give him a call and he says, yeah, I'm still at the office, I'll call you when I get onto the LRT.

But it's two hours later and he hasn't called and he isn't answering his phone or texts. I feel a sliver of worry, mixed with the knowledge that Chubs regularly misplaces his phone, leaves in the car, the apartment, the office. But it's late. And he is likely very very tired. And unlike me, he had to hit the ground running. No five-hour nap.

I hope he's OK.

Still not feeling very Zen.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sleep, Errands, Work, Maybe

It's 12.39 over here, noon, and surprisingly I'm up. And not only am I up, but I have managed to do a ton of stuff already. Perhaps a little unsurprising as I only came to JB this time around cos Mum was off for a reunion and she needed someone to babysit the dogs. Also, to wake up at the ungodly hour of 7 (7! I ask you!) and send her to the cathedral where she and her homegirls would be catching the bus to Malacca.

Of course my weird sleeping schedule has thrown everything a little out of whack. Yesterday at 11 when I was still deep in the throes of slumber (I had been up until about six in the morning, first, finishing Shawn Achor's The Happiness Advantage and secondly, inputting the Piper At The Gates of Dawn for my happiness blog) I got a call from Chubs. He wanted to know if I was going back. Sleepily, I murmured something like: Mmmmm, ahhh, yeah.

And he said, OK I'll follow you. I nodded into my pillow and agreed. And then fell fast asleep again after saying, OK in one hour, maybe two. I stumbled out of the room briefly to see my Dadda all dressed up. He said he needed to go get some money to pay the guys who fixed the air con. I forbade him to go walking anywhere (the moment he steps out of the house into the hot sun, he gets giddy and then laid up for like, a week) and emptied the contents of my wallet, which was just about enough to cover what he needed and went right back to bed.

To sleep, perchance to dream. And dream I did. Arnold was standing in our airwell. I stared and stared at him, rubbing my eyes. He looked younger and more well-cared for. Though how he could look so good when he must have run away from the shelter, which is far, far away, and made his way back home, I didn't know. I called my father out. "Dadda, come and see, is this really him?" and my father came out and said, yes, it is.

Deep deep sleep. The kind of sleep where you pinch yourself to see if the vision will go away and it doesn't.

So in the midst of all this sleep, I hear Ivan arriving. And he's asking Dadda, you mean she hasn't woken up yet?

And I stumble out of the room and say, no I was talking to Thomas on the phone and he was telling me his mother-in-law got robbed because they didn't have the dog at home.

And I get funny looks from both the father and the brother. Firstly, I do not speak to Thomas (a cousin). Secondly, he doesn't have a dog. Thirdly, his mother-in-law did not get robbed.

I say, I think I was dreaming.

And they say, yeah, most probably.

Dadda says, go eat, wash your face nicely and then go. So I do.

We take Chubs's car (which is, let's admit it, way more comfortable) and he drives the first half of the journey so I snuggle into my seat and fall fast fast asleep. Again.

Halfway through I notice that Chubs is popping the tic tac, a sure sign that he's falling asleep. The journey so far has been through torrential rains as Malaysia has decided it's had enough of a heatwave and the rains are making up for lost time. So I say, want me to take over?

And Chubs says, yes, we'll change at Ayer Keroh. Which is like, Malacca. So we stop at a service station over there, and make the switch.

Funnily enough, the moment I take over it's blue skies all the way. And we arrive in JB in very good time, as there is no jam past the toll (although there should be at this time, seeing as it's just after office hours) and we make it home with time to spare. The dogs go crazy and Mum stumbles out to open the gate smiling and saying, bloody fool lar, why couldn't you take a bit longer.

Because we're interrupting her Hindi soap marathon. (Chubs really interrupted it as he changed channels and watched the last part of The Last Samurai instead).I'm giddy from the drive as well as the lack of sleep and go upstairs and crash. Only to wake up and find Chubs is spritzing me with water. He wants to know what I want for dinner. And then to wake up to Mums bellowing out my name...come and eat, come and eat.

And then it's a packing extravaganza (she packs all of four outfits for one dinner because she can't decide between them) and then she switches off the light very determinedly (no Jenny, no reading, you go to sleep).

And I wake to find her puttering about until it's time to send her off. Chubs wakes up and drives. And her friends are so impressed by this minor feat of us sending my mother that they all stand around, smile and nod and tell her how lucky she is.

Unidentified friend of Mum's: Are you coming with us?

Me: No, we came from KL to feed the dogs.

Unidentified friend of Mum's: Oh yes, the dogs.

Our dogs are famous. They are the source of many excuses whenever my mother doesn't want to do something. She says, there's no one to feed the dogs. And just a few days ago, the one person she could depend on to do it when she was not here, passed away. It was all very sad.

After we sent Mums, it was still early - so off to Kerala Restaurant for appam for breakfast, then to Pasar Tani for the dog's food (and some of our food as well) and then to the post office to renew the Big M's road tax, and then back home to watch Prince of Persia (OK that was not planned, more of a coincidence really, and is Jake Gylenhaal the cutest thing since bulldog puppies or what?) and make the doggie's lunch.

They've eaten, Chubs is now out for lunch with his girlfriend (I asked him to bring me back the Mask of Zorro so I get to see Don Diego training Alejandro, sort of like Yoda training Luke, nahmean?) and I am sleepy. Wondering whether to read some and knock off or be good and transcribe the interview I did on Thursday and write the story. Or I could just watch reruns of the Good Guys.

Decisions, decisions.

Sleep, it is.