Changing states

Within the confines of 0.25sqm, she taps her feet, swishes her hair, and flicks the wrists in rhythmic glee. With eyes closed, she flashes this smile. The kind of smile you would indulge in yourself or for the select few who are allowed to know your secrets. The kind you would have when you are enjoying the moment.

In the routine of the morning rush, I watch her burn the quiet minutes with purpose and love. 

Some time last year, I found myself watching an old woman. I might have lingered and, very likely, I might have stared. The paragraph was drafted in March. And today, I cannot remember a sliver of that encounter. Re-reading the text, I must have been rather envious.

My life is shifting, in more than one dimension. These feelings of excitement of venturing into little knowns and occasional discomfort are natural. The feelings come from anticipating the change. It comes from imagining the process of transitioning from one state to another. It could comes from the imagination of the end state. It is really just a thought. How bad can a thought hurt you? Well, unless I am jumping into the wrong end of the pool.

Welcome to 2017. The year I give in to the shock of a state change and wait.

My truth

I have not been exceptionally proud of myself lately. I have whined. I have allowed balls to drop deliberately. I have whined more. I have formed biases. I have whined so much more. Quite simply, I am my own Achilles’ heel.

It is my day job to point that out to others that moping is meaningless and only frustrating to the mop. It is my day job to discover solutions that is unknown. As one quickly notices the irony, it is also embarrassing to mention that I have been rolling in bed in self-pity. This is fast becoming very unbecoming.

I don’t have a proper plan, yet, in resolving the situation. It seems like my tactics have only been targeted towards an exit. This is an embarrassing choice. I don’t yield easily, especially when an early exit will only mean a personal defeat. Age is definitely catching up.

The four-day long weekend is forcing me to think. Think. Yes, because this cannot be it.

The Creature and the Horse

Weekends are a mystery. You yearn for it for five straight days. When it falls, you sleep through it. Waking up, both ways, in the evening of a Sunday is jarring.

And so it goes.

Back to what we witnessed over two weekends.

* * *

I have tried to visit the NT archives to watch Frankenstein. Suffice to say, my lack of planning didn’t get me anywhere. Hence, it was a real treat to watch it on the large projection at the Esplanade Theaters. Being the last showing in the calendar, the crowd was surprisingly large and squeaky. Well, the squeaky part was not a surprise. After all it was the version where Benedict Cumberbatch tumbled around half-naked.

Through the eyes of the Creature, Boyle and Dear allowed the audience to learn with him on his newfound sensations, to cheer for his survival, and to sympathise with his longing for companionship. Standing in stark physical contrast yet mirrored as the Doctor’s darker persona, blazing under the huge canopy of light, Cumberbatch and Miller delivered the roles as complements. Within a simple stage setting, they brought alive (pun intended) the purity of basic human desires and the hopelessness of pursuing perfection.

Perhaps because I am familiar with the original book, I am happy that they downplayed the main themes. It would have been expected. It would not have caused a permanent forward lean.

* * *

My affinity with horses begin from, well, the very beginning. Their grace amazes me. Their galloping power stuns me. And also, I am secretly envious of their mane, one that is much more tamed than my own. So naturally, I was more than excited to visit the big white tents.

Beyond an equestrian performance, Cavalia brings together the natural beauty of the two worlds. The majestic horses weaved effortlessly through the stage in beautifully choreographed routines amongst flowing costumes and unbridled riders. The live orchestra was remarkable where it paced the high-spirited tempo and maintained the seamless transitions. As the studs pumped through the scenes, the powerful and loving intimacy between man and horse was tingling and endearing.

I cared for the performance more than I expected that I would. Not because I fell really ill that morning, but because it was touted as a circus act. Thankfully, it was not even close.

Game of stabbing

We grow up playing games. We cheer when we beat the opponent, we sulk when we miss the killer shot, but we will still grab a chilled drink together afterwards, in good cheer. Sometimes when we lose real badly, we may get that drink a few days later. It was just a game. Still just a game.

Perhaps some people never got the memo. When you grow up and step into the corporate world, the combative gaming stop. Tripping someone in a race towards an imaginary finish line, that is constantly moving anyway, is a showcase of cowardice and you will be drinking alone. No amount of cooling period will change that.

Granted. It is more likely that it was me who didn’t get the memo. The games did not stop. Getting ahead, unlike in school, someone must physically step aside. There is no joint top-scorers.

I get it now but I still can’t live by it.

When are you ever sane?

“When are you ever sane?” She laughed as she slipped the rhetoric so casually. I smiled in response, knowing that it is valid and also in acknowledgment that it is not her first time trying to warn me, so gently.

I smiled because this is my insanity.

Things go on fairly loudly in my head, most of the time. So loud that I have always thought to myself, “Surely they can all hear it; I don’t have to spell it out, they can hear cogs; we are in synced!” Then she reminded me of the analogy that I use all time (on other people) – you can tap a pencil to your favourite tune, no one else ever hear same. The clues are in the eyes. I see them. I just need to learn give in to them. Just stop and explain.

I really want to believe I have a super power.

365 days later

I am not a person of reflections. Partly I have enough difficulty remembering last week’s events. Thinking through the year must be worse than hiking from Monterosso al Mare to Vernazza.

But here goes.

2013 started as a regular year. Some lethargy about work, some hope in a new dotted-line, and some faith in self to be a better person in general. As it kicked off with a snow-stormed trip to Tokyo in January, I spent the next four months repeating work routines, working on strengthening relationships and pining for the extravaganza trip to Italy in November. The highlight of the year. Or so I thought.

It started as an innocent weekend adventure. I cannot describe accurately the sense of warm pride and gentle comfort when I presented myself with the gift of my lifetime. Even though it carries a heavy burden of debt, it is cradled by lofty dreams. June has always been a favourite month. Last year’s was simply special. As I signed off on the countless sets of legal documents, I knew it takes moving on to build a home. Thankfully, I stepped up.

And counted my blessings once again, as August rolled around. Treelined with turquoise-coloured devotion that paved the way for possibilities, it is a path I thought never to regain.

If you are going through hell, keep going.
And I did, Mr Churchill.


I was also fortunate to live through a couple of quirky days:
  • Heaviest snow storm that hit Tokyo in seven years
  • Typhoon Wipha in Tokyo
  • Cyclone Cleopatra in Italy
  • Stranded due to a transportation strike in Florence
  • Carried a 25kg luggage through flooded Venice
  • Boarded a plane to London, barefooted
  • Suspected of illegal entry at London Customs
  • A single fine sun-soaked day in Cinque Terre, unseen in winter
  • Failed security screening because of a ball point pen at Changi airport

2013 was my leap year.

Does it ever go away?

At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and… carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you… you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is… Which could be awful – not all the time. It’s kinda not that you’d like it exactly… So, you carry it around. And uh… it doesn’t go away. Which is… fine, actually.

Yes it’s fine actually. It will be. It has to.