we can get them

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Saturday, April 23, 2005

Shiny Happy People

[ Edited April 26: Because hor blogs cannot be whineey. Because that's what my friend thinks blogs are. Whiney. Why would she think that? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy? ]

Am I lacking the Shiny Happy gene? Was the gene pool lifeguard looking away when tragedy struck because the giant pharmacutical companies slipped him a tip? Did the family tree lose one too many apples? Was I the branch that fell too far off? Am I ever going to stop with the silly metaphors? Who knows!

Maybe my environment explains it. In a Freudian kind of way. Maybe I should just open up and talk more to the folks at home and unburden my miseries. People seem to think that alot. Yeah, that's it.

Me: "Why do bad things happen to me so often?"

Grandmama: "...you have bad luck, you have always had bad luck and there's nothing you can do about it. So don't be sad."

Ah. Excellent. I sense a few more universes imploding under that epiphany. Grandmama: destroyer of worlds. My maternal Death Star. Note to self: in times of emotional crisis, ask not Grandmama for help (depending on what kind of help, you are seeking of course - reader discresion is advised).

Perhaps a parental figure, one of the two pillars nurturing child development, the foundation of character, the touchstone of principles, growth of the psyche and fulcrum of a child's universe, the provider of Love, Guidence and Emotional Nourishment, your model for God:

Dad [reading papers]: "You applied for what course?"

Me: "Econs."
Dad [reading papers]: "(Pffft) Oh boy." [reads papers]

Thanks Dad.

My dad, resident poltergeist: not seen enough to be substantial, seen enough to be noticed too much.

He reads religious books. Ironic in a way, that.

en at 9:55 pm


Bright Young Things

I have bad mood swings. Whereas most people manage moods that are more predictable - oscillating back and forth relentlessly with the lethal gleam of a pendulum down-down-down towards Poe-inspired decapitation - my moods are atomic monsters that lurk at oceanic depths dragging aircraft carriers and oil tankers to a watery grave, if not scaling the heights of some culturally significant architecture (If you promise not to look closely too into my metaphors, I promise I won't either).

Stricken, I did what every smart, rational, thinking person in the Twentieth Century would do: I looked for something to throw blame at. Many people have turned blame lobbin' into an sophisticated art-form gun-slingers would be proud of, following the rise of other social activities, such as bitchin'-until-the-other-gives, two-handed-back-stabbin' and everyone's old favourite bootlickin' the boss. Such trends should continue if arenas for the aforementioned interaction increase - starting with the increasing Project Work for secondary school kids to initiate the future of our nation into the corporate world.

Hey, maybe primary schools should start looking into it - imagine the fun: " Tee-char!! You ver-lee preety today leh!" " No fair one tee-cha, he make my crayon broken now cannot finish!" "Must punish her leh, she always colour so slow one!" Haha. See, our next generation of entrepreneurs. Doesn't it bring a tear to your eye? Tissue, please.

Instead of developing into a bio-medical hub or a casino Integrated Sin City wonderland, maybe we should tap into our comparative advantage and develop our never-say-die kiasu-ism. Then hor, with our grammatically more efficient Singlish lingo facilitating communication and cannot-lose-out attitude when bargaining, we can win more awards and be Number One in stuff again! This time business stuff.

Okay, maybe I've been watching too much of The Apprentice.

en at 2:35 pm


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Morning sacrilege

Every morning that I manage not to be late, I am subjected to a news update by a couple of student councillors that Prozac will not be reaping profits off of. It should be a crime to be that cheery in the morning. Punishable by an angry mob armed with pitchworks, medieval weaponry and burning torches.

Why, blasting happy music over the PA system and chripily reading out news headlines on a working weekday morning should warrant Death by Mob (not a spectator sport, my dears). Blasting happy music in what appears to be chinese over the morning PA system that I do not understand should warrant consecutive Death by Mob(s), where we simply dig you up and kill you again until the appropriate somber morning mood is met.

And if the collective morning mood didn't sway us from casting the first rock well, we'd have done with... ZZzzz.......

Councillor voice [totally gushing]: "I hear this guy at the Lord of the Dance is reeeeeealleeee good-looking!"
Teachers [disturbingly ad union]: "WHO?!?!?"

en at 10:41 am


Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Other Shoe

When your eyeball is an inch away from an angry cat, you tend to remove yourself from such a situation as soon as possible. There might be the unfortunate 'pop' as claw meets membrane, the wet sensation of vitreous humor dribbling down one cheek.

It suddenly dawns on you that your cat is a natural lethal killing machine. The rapid slapping of her tail against your face implies that the only thing barring her from exercising her razor sharp implements on your supple human skin is the provision of all her future meals.

You hope cats plan for the future.


Flag-raising in school. The only glimmer of interest rests on the school flag creeping behind the national one. The assembled students continue to murmur the anthem (the troupe of latecomers gathering strength at the gate) as the school flag creaks up the string, persevering yet perpetually lagging.

Each morning the doomed affair plays out before the oblivious hundreds in uniform - a strained pursuit, a tedious resignation, a last-minute scramble to meet at the apex.


Aiyah. You kenna rejack. Nowadays always liddat one. Noe result quite jialat alrede but still damn sad ehh.

How to say... Keck Sum.

en at 8:51 pm


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pointless remarks

My grandmother just pointed out to me how Chinese singers always cry with one eye in their music videos. I added that they not only have one eye to cry with, they also only shed one tear - rolling down their cheeks in that gratuitous close-up slow-motion shot designed to convey their emotional depth and grand acting prowess. I suppose it's because when people are truly distressed, they are stricken by this strange affliction which paralyses half of their face (or the whole of it, depending on their acting scope) minus the tear ducts in one eye.

Another meaningless observation: If you ever past by the green field next to the Liang Court area, turning into town (it would be Fort Canning Park), you will be struck by the mysterious appearance of many colourful cows. They're rather adorable in a cardboard cartoonish way - painted warm colours, spots included. There are dozens of them, just standing around as mounted cut-out boards tend to do, staring wide-eyed at their surroundings the way real cows never do.

I wonder if the cows have anything to do with the vehicle cow tail advertisments. The rear of the buses say "Moove is More" - another cryptic clue. I wouldn't be surprised if this were some dastardly scheme by some modern-day supervillian designed to confound superheros (and in so doing lead to the former's inevitable defeat).

en at 7:47 pm


Saturday, April 09, 2005


Not being particularly keen on renewing my Amore subscription, I only dread reverting to being that inert pale yellow slob at the end of the A levels. I am currently quite satisfied with my lumbering (given the right conditions) murky-yellow (under varying lights) self. And there must be cheaper means on the road to glorious unashamed-to-wear-tube-in-public fitness. Especially if bright shining magnificant fitness comes with a range of accessories.

Like sports shoes, which I attempted to buy. As with any discerning, informed consumer unwilling to part with a large amount of cash on one purchase that one might not frequently (or ever again) use, I checked out the online websites. The Singapore Nike women's website was undeniably chic, colourful and high-tech. It was also utterly useless for anyone wanting to browse through say, oh-I-don't-know sporting goods. As I clicked at the screen searching for links perhaps deviously hidden in the hot pink background, I only hope that their shoes manage more practicality than their websites.

My confusion was heightened as I took to the shops to look and handle the shoes. Alot of sport shoes these days bear trendy, hip labels like Presto and Supernova. While all this is nice and good, sometimes I want a specific kind of shoe like oh-I-don't-know running shoes. Maybe I'm too demanding. The labels on the shoes say things like TorrentMax or Vertico Extreme or Clima Vortex or Express Buzz Duplex or SuperGravoHyperPlus! I know it's important to make us consumers feel happy that we're buying shoes that will allow us to break the sound barrier and escape the atmosphere. I just want to ask: What kind of shoe is it? Tennis? Running? Cross-trainers? Walking? Well, yes, I can tell a soccer shoe from the rest but you could at least try squeeze in the shoe type beneath RadicalReduxGalaxticStarburstThrustNova.

Just a clue would be good. Maybe a letter. Before I get too lazy to leave the house.

en at 1:26 pm


Job Perk

After class, a student comes up to me, "There's something I want to tell you."

I blinked, "Uh, okay." I hoped it wouldn't be anything bad.

"I think you're damn cool teacher!" She says. Her friend next to her agreed and nudged her to say more. Helpful friend, that.

"The first time you walked into class, I asked [my friend] who you were because you were damn cool!"

I blinked again. Okay, this was good and... Creases started to appear on my forehead as I concentrating on delivering an appropriate reply. Thoughts sluggishly fought to the surface, squirming for attention. How does respond to an unexpected direct compliment?

Answer: Probably not like this.

I muttered a dazed thank you. And then added a totally unnecessary remark on rethinking the teaching bit because it was a stressful occupation. I suddenly had the pressure of living up to the label of damn cool. A small voice inside whimpered for coffee. Correcting her language was the most remote thing on the desolate landscape of my mind at this moment.

The students shuffled off to their next session of mental hibernation cum idle chatter. Having survived the latest onslaught of lessons, I scurried back to the air-conditioned sanctuary of the staffroom.

en at 12:07 pm


Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The sound of her wings

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Requiescat in pace, little one.

en at 5:36 pm


Let's talk about Death

[7th April: minor modifications to post. Typos & stuff. Nuthin' big, just being picky.]

Morbid, yes perhaps. There is a typical chinese wake outside in the carpark. The kind with elaborate decorations, a big red tent gleaming white and neon lights, flowers on display for the deceased, visiting relatives playing majong and chit-chatting late into the night. A stray antique lantern with a piece of white cloth attached can be seen at the bottom of the hill - a sign of Death having passed this way, welcoming visitors.

For the past few hours they have been blasting karaoke-type songs that are decades old, traditional tunes that sound alot like noise when played through crackling muffled loudspeakers. It's funny how such rituals are supposed to honour the Dead (and Death by association, I suppose) but the only thing I felt was a twinge of annoyance, hidden at home, being made to listen to old music played right in the middle of the afternoon. There wasn't a sense of Death, only a barrage of noise, colour and ritual.

And then I realised my kitten was dying.

A couple of weeks ago, two kittens had appeared on our ground-floor balcony, courtesy of one of our looked-after strays (creatively-yet-affectionately called MeowMeow). Grandmama and myself have been looking after the neighbourhood cats (yeah, catz in da Hood) for a long while now. Maybe it's because we're lonely. Or weird. Or both. Or that we're both born in the year of the Tiger.

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Here we go: Awww...

I named the kittens Cain and Abel. The names never really stuck. But there's nothing else to call them by so.

Abel's daddy tom cat (like himself, big and brown and striped) got 'de-throned' by Cain's daddy tom cat (like himself, bigger and grey and striped). This is going to sound like a feline soap opera. Consequently, Abel's daddy got sick and died. But since both tom cat daddies had fucked MeowMeow, both of them had kitties, both looking their their respective daddies.

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This is Abel. He is currently very very sick.

Death is not the painful part. Dying is. As cats are nearing Death, their bodies begin to stink. You guess there's something rotten on the inside but there's nothing to do about it. Maggots appear in their feces. It's too late. The cats can't move as easily as before. They refuse to eat. Their back legs go limp and their heads start drooping. They start to get unnaturally cold and spend most of their time immobile, slumped on the floor, with only the feeble heaving of the chest showing signs of Life.

I pick Abel up too easily with one hand. His ribs are painfully pronounced to the touch. He hasn't eaten for days maybe. The thing that makes the whole process more painful is that he refuses to just quit. Obeying some greater instinct, he still manages to crawl into the sandbox. But he can't crawl back out.

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Is that it? Is that all I get?

I suppose you don't really feel Death until she's close by. I imagine her stooping over Abel, smiling. Being Death. Not rushing, not exactly waiting either because she doesn't have to wait. She just does, in her own time. Of all quotes, I remember Neil Gaiman's:

"It's hard not to love [Death]. She loves you, after all."

The grandeur of a wake for a loved one. A good cry for a small animal waiting to die. All are simply goodbyes.

en at 1:07 pm