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?