Thursday, August 25, 2016

Should have, could have, would have

What I should be doing is writing a speech. What I am doing instead is surfing the net, feeling blatantly uninspired. Writing speeches is only bearable when you have some Anne Sexton on hand to read. A dip into Sexton, some inspiration, some loosening of this brainlock and then I write. Nonsense at first, braindump, and then I arrange the nonsense and sometimes it actually makes sense. And if it doesn't, that's what second drafts are for.

How do you keep doing what you are supposed to do, when you pretty much don't feel like doing anything at all? When your eyelids are drooping and you're thinking, ah, a nap at the desk would be nice.

This morning I had an interview in a bungalow near a kindergarten and I left my name cards there. The person I interviewed called me as I was on the way to BSC for an official lunch and I had no time to turn back. So, there I am, lost without my cards. But not really.

I just found out that I am going to interview someone whose books I really love.

Unexpected things do happen to wake you up!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

I Want You To Burn

I am sipping a glass of Prosecco and staring at the screen through my new glasses. It's late but I can't go home yet. Thinking of all the animals hungry and wishing I could. Oh well. Comes with the territory. And I hope they're not really starving. Kicked Ebony out today because the devil has gotten into him and he was behaving like a mad cat.

Last night I locked him in the bathroom after he broke a glass. Today, obviously still enraged, he started zipping around madly and torturing Sheba. I gathered him up by his hind legs and tossed him out of the house. When I was leaving for work, I didn't see him. Obviously he has taken to the hills. Oh well, he'll come back when he is hungry. If no one else decides to adopt him first. He's obviously decided that he has had enough of this house. 

I would say "ungrateful" but really, is he? Cats are cats. They have their own code. 

It's late and I was thinking maybe I can come in late tomorrow. But then I remembered; early assignment. (that's a heavy sigh you cannot hear)

Elaine found her dog. It's been a month and poor Moksha is emaciated and injured and a bone is exposed in her paw - her foot must have been caught in a trap. I don't know what the full story is and how she eventually came to Elaine but poor doggie. It looks like it was not a moment too soon. She has been warded for three days. After which she should be, if not as good as new, at least, as good as can be expected. It will be a slow healing process for all of them.

I'm listening to Tina Arena's "Burn". I think I'll do my "morning pages" now. 

Monday, August 15, 2016


I'm writing this from the office. Have just finished transcribing a loooong interview that I thought I transcribed at home, but somehow, it sort of got lost in the transfer. I decided not to scream soundlessly into my computer screen but just get on with it. To tell you the truth, I don't really have time to scream. I have missed the deadline set for me so now I'm scrambling to catch up.

It is a familiar territory full of blood and entrails and the sound of children weeping and dogs howling and cats mewing piteously.

Also I'm waiting for a phone call which I should have made a couple of weeks ago because I want to feature this particular do-gooder...and I needed to talk to the boss but the boss was overseas and the person I interviewed just ended up talking about politics and spirituality and bullying and and and...well, nothing I could use.

Naturally, my mind has taken a break and drifted off somewhere during this time. Of course it would. It always does this when I have a shitload of stories to deliver, stories that are expected to mean something.

I'm even afraid to read the notes.

I'm afraid of being overwhelmed by all those words, words, words, words, words - hours upon hours of interviews neatly transcribed, laid-out, ready for me to figure out some sort of structure, arrange the words into proper sentences...make it work, for God's sakes.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Setting boundaries

There seems to be a theme over my last few blogposts. This incessant feeling of exhaustion. I need to do an audit to see how much of that is from actual work and how much of it is emotion - living up or at least, attempting to live up to other people's expectations, not wanting to offend people, not wanting to be thought a bad friend.

There were times this year when I should have said an emphatic 'no' basically because I was too tired or I had other work to do, important work to do. Instead I agreed, albeit reluctantly, and then felt exhausted and then fell terribly sick. There is a pattern is not selfish to not meet expectations. I have to define for myself what selfish is or isn't.

If meeting your expectations means that I languish ill in bed for the next few days or work through the fever and the sneezing and the incessant coughing...then really, I shouldn't be meeting your expectations. And if you choose to take offence about that, then really, we shouldn't be friends, should we?

And cutting you out of my life would seem like a lightening, a removal of toxicity.

Switching off my phone this weekend was one of the best things I ever did.

Saying no to going to the BRC was another.

Later for you.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Reclaiming My Life

I keep talking about claiming, or rather reclaiming my life, but most days I don't do a very good job of it. A friend, a deeply intuitive friend, told me that nearly all my actions are driven by guilt. She said guilt was my primary emotion.

I rejected it at first. Of course I felt a little guilt; who didn't? But surely it was not the primary motivating factor of my life.

I notice lately that I have become irritable. Actually, not just lately. It has been a long time now. I resent ordinary things; like being asked to join people for dinner. My immediate reaction is? What, you think I have nothing better to do?

Actually, I don't really have anything better to do.

But I want to go home, hang out with the pets, read my books, write some letters.

I want time to myself.

But instead of carving out that time for myself, I usually just go along with plans I never intended to make. Spontaneous plans that arise all of a sudden. Even if I'm tired. Even if I don't want to. Even if there is someplace else I'd rather be.

Guilt stops me from getting out of chat groups on whatsapp. Instead, I mute these groups or switch off my mobile data for the weekend.

I have thought of turning off my phone for the weekend because innocent invitations can drive me crazy.

I finally acknowledge, something is not right here. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

I missed something today because I have decided that I want my Sundays to myself, doing whatever the hell I feel like doing. Even if it is nothing. I do not want my Sundays circumscribed by prescribed activities.

(Here a gentle voice butts in to tell me that I was never circumscribed, that I chose to go on my own volition and that I'm free to leave ditto, no questions asked. Any guilt I choose to feel, I choose to feel on my own).

I want to reclaim my life.

I just don't know how.

My Nubian Princess Who is Actually A Male Cat

Ebony and Sheba spend the night outside. I go out twice in my jammies to try and cajole them back. No cigar. They are content to cavort in the field next to my house or hide under cars. This is despite the fact that neither has had their dinner. There it is laid out in splendid profusion, barely touched.

Oh well. I give up and crawl onto my newly cleaned bed (Rose is coming on Saturdays instead of Sundays from now on), try to read a few pages of "13 things that mentally strong people don't do", and fall fast fast asleep. Oh, the bliss of it.

In the morning there is an incessant mewing at my door. Sheba must have jumped in through the window wide open at my study table. Although there is food laid out for him (the untouched food from the night before) he wants to crawl into bed and suck on my earlobe (it's a cat that was abandoned by his mother too early thing; they find a spot on your body to nurse). I am too tired to swat him off but eventually I have to wake up. 

Ebony is outside. He has come in (despite Stella) and is waiting by the door. I let him in as well. 

He noses around his bowl, maybe has a few mouthfuls and then goes off to sleep. Sheba, on the other hand, who is asleep in the bathroom and realises that I am up to suspicious activity (bathing is classified as suspicious because once you bathe, you go out) came out sleepily and proceeded to make a nuisance of himself. He had to jump on my lap. He had to displace the book (Flaubert: A Life) I was reading. He had to weave himself around my feet and mew loudly at Esther when she came in with the ramen she was lunching on.

He saw me settle down with the computer and decided that it was a false alarm and has gone off to sleep again. Ebony has not stirred except to display different bits of his belly to the sun. He is sleeping on the cage in the air well.

Last night I had dinner with Chubs and his family. It was nice. Francis is a big boy now, talking. He likes monster trucks (there, birthday present and potentially Christmas present sorted).

On Friday, out of the blue, a colleague treated me to a really expensive facial. Not only that, I escaped the sales spiel at the end. She had to endure it but as she is comfortable saying no over and over, it didn't really bother her. And then we went for dinner and it was good all around.

I would write more but I want to go off to Tropicana City Mall and write some letters and watch a movie.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Creating my own sanctuary

I ask my body, why is it that you are so tired? Why is it that the thought of doing something, anything fills you with such irritation that you want to shut out the world, the incessant whine of other people and their demands (even their legitimate demands) and hide away for a while or a little longer than a while?

The world is too much with me day and night and somehow it seems like I can't escape...

I haven't sat down to write a letter in weeks. Weeks! Me, who writes letters every week and does so cheerfully.

I've decided that my weekends are going to be my own again. I will eschew every activity (except for Mass) from it because I resent all other activities.

As for exercise, I will decide on what I want to do and how I will go about it. My shoes are still dirty with mud from the plantations. I need to wash them.

I will go off for the day, go for a movie (which I haven't been able to do for the longest time because there is just no time and when there is, I'm too tired), hang out at a cafe, write, read...switch off my phone, not worry about anything or anyone else.

Yeah, that's what I am going to do.

Later that day:

OK it's less than an hour later but still later. I wonder what's missing. I re-read old blog posts and see the same weariness, the same difficulty in putting one foot in front of another, the same forcing myself to keep on when I don't really feel like it anymore.

Even later...

I am reading Flaubert: A Life. I have just gotten to his affair with Louise Colet. I could understand and relate to Colet's frustration...the affair started off all blood and fire and poetry and explosions and then he cooled down and got sober and forbade her to come visit him in Croisset and would rather spend time with his friend and...just became detached is all. And she, with her husband and her protector on the side, wanted all of him and didn't understand what he was on about in his letters, his dissertations on art. He wanted to talk about art. She wanted to talk about love. She wanted to know that he loved her, above all else.

He didn't.

Ironic. After the (final) ending, they became pen pals.

And so it goes, and so it goes.

Monday, August 01, 2016

A Holiday That Wasn't

So I took the day off because I was tired. I had spent most of Saturday walking through plantations trying to find my friend Elaine's lost dog. She spotted her dog on Saturday but Moksha seems to have reverted to her wild, terrified state. She saw Elaine, she followed her from a safe distance and then she skittered away and hid. The next day (Sunday) she went back with only her husband. And the day after that (today) she went back alone. The food she had left had been eaten. But there are plenty of stray dogs there at the Orang Asli village. So it could have been eaten by any one of them.

Elaine sounds sad, defeated an exhausted in her whatsapp messages. People offer eager support. But I think she just wants to be left alone.

I didn't get much rest yesterday because Sunday is invariably a day of activity. One of us has to go to the LRT station to pick Rose, the cleaner up. And then, well, you have to wait for Rose to get through your room. I fell asleep only to be awakened by the phone and I answered it and couldn't get off because there was a lonely old man at the other end and I stupidly invited him for lunch (he didn't want to come but Esther was cooking up a feast) and then I was late for the Mass I had intended to go for...and ended up at a late Mass at a church I don't normally go to.

So everything was late. I was late getting home, which meant rushing to walk Stella and there was the activity at night...but I was too tired to rush anymore so I arrived horribly late and left rather early because there were three stories I still had to clear, not to mention a foreword to write. I cleared all of one.

So woke up this morning, took the day off, cleared two stories, wrote a foreword, went to sleep and then found out that I needed to do more stories because, well, empty pages. So I have in effect spent the whole of my day off, working. Sigh.

Now I need to take Stella for a walk and give her her evening meal. But I should feed the cats before I leave. Or should I? Maybe I can feed them all one shot.

Decisions, decisions.