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#09

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Euphemism

Today I got word that a friend's mom had passed away. To be exact, the message I remember hearing over the phone was truncated to simply "[she] passed this morning". To the ever-versatile and very economical Singlish speaker, this makes complete sense. In retrospect, it draws attention to itself.

You have passed away or passed on or departed (as though Life were nothing but an unavoidable, alas mildly unpleasant stuffy stopover at some soon-forgotten airport terminal). Like an exhalation, a sigh, an expulsion, we are gone, off into far country like a somebody's second thought. Or the relaxing of a tense muscle; a gentle crossing over still waters into green pastures under a clear blue sky

Quite the peaceful transition, it seems.

After all, we would like to see our loved ones going gently into that good night, not futilely raging against the dying of the light. Now that's not a pretty sight: being dragged kicking and screaming out the door, or whacked across the head and dragged across the room, or drugged beyond comprehension and taken for a one-way ride. Or self-combustion.

Also, I notice that no one ever seems keen on leaving. No one seems to leap into that great beyond or swing away into that biggest mystery; or soar into the big unknown. There is no initiative, no gusto toward what lies ahead.

When one or , it almost implies some measure of control. After all, it is you who is the performer, who is the one in action; the change embodied. There is no mention of a greater force pulling the strings. You have passed on, as if always of your own whimsical choosing; an afterthought; a casual gesture. No one is ever taken away, or abducted by unseen powers, or kindly but firmly asked to leave the premises.

Even the simple, perhaps curt: she died. She did something, as though she took Death and wore it as a hat.

As though we hide our hopes for a final say in matters of the gravest importance.

en at 1:10 am

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Cow me

My tongue is sore. It would appear that keeping me hungry is unwise. Having only a slice of pizza to tide me from morning till five in the afternoon, I ploughed through a big serving of hot tomato soup in a bread bowl. Now even eating bananas hurt.

Food has always been a constant in the family. And I've always eaten fast. My Grandmama recalls how when I was a kid, I ate my porridge (lovingly boiled full of meaty, carrot and fishy yumminess) without chewing enough and how I made my demands for continuous spoonfuls. I only remember the feeling, that nagging tug of impatience and hunger as I was told to chew and swallow first. My five-year old world then focused on a hovering spoon with a narrow, bewildered intensity, already questioning the wisdom of adults.

A few years back, I hit a rough patch. In my haste to get the food down, I was swallowing rice that wasn't chewed. It felt as though I was trying to ram a fist down my oesophagus. Or a freight train. I'd actually pause at the table, wheezing and spluttering in muted agony, at the mercy of rice grains.

I was warned about fish bones but anything consumed at high velocity becomes dangerous. Or at least, incredibly painful.

I'm not sure whether my chewing technique has improved or that my insides have somehow undergo miraculous overnight evolution to endure my speedy food consumption habits. I finish before everyone else (not all guys, of course, but some) and begin my study of others' eating habits; whether they insist on picking every bit of their sandwich apart using utensils or trying all the given sauces ('Dude, I think that's ginger, not garlic.')

And yes, scalded tongue. Still eating.

en at 11:04 pm

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

A tad overwhelmed

Escapism does not pay. The world does not halt in accordance to my whims. University-related spam does not cease when I take to another three-day camp and pretend four years of extreme multi-tasking do not exist in the limited framework of a twenty-four hour day, a sixty-second minute and the caffeine-governed attention span of my human mind (that is, as I type this, very gradually deteroriating into water, electrons and good old mush).

I attempt to digest the contents of my university timetable, as though the names and numbers and venues might somehow morph into something tangible. The nervous weight in my gut settles and grows, feeding on the stream of new information, threatening to erupt from my chest with the finese of a screaming alien in a horror classic. CCAs spam an overflowing school mailbox with notices, sign-ups for clinics, trips, meeting times and places (to be confirmed and re-confirmed) and mailbox-guzzling images to tease. The university administration announces new partnership universities, talks, seminars, IT updates. A zealous professor reminds his students several times to get the required textbooks and requests a teaching assistant, all in pink-font messages (if I recall correctly).

Another day and another email requesting for volunteers for a community service project (clock 80 hours guaranteed!), or seeking attention for the latest school-sanctioned bash (glamorous photographs of freshies grimacing in front of blistering spotlights included!), or another thank-you note to strangers from strangers, or highlighting the winners of some competition you didn't have a clue about, or inviting you to high-tea for some CCA whose acronym you can't figure out, or a warning that your mailbox is about to exceed its limit and quite predictably, helps your mailbox to burst.

Meanwhile, there is the course bidding to fathom, professors looking grand in their beards to meet and greet, a new spanking campus to try and not get lost in, people's names to learn, jobs to find (and keep), CCAs to join and meetings to attend, a laptop to configure and understand, community service reports to write and the usual respiratory functions to remember to perform.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

I realise people like to ask whether I'm ready for university.

The usual response goes, "Well, I don't have much of a choice, do I."

en at 12:54 am

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Coffee is my Bitch

Best line EVAR? This just occured to me in the midst of an msn conversation. I wonder if it's patented. Coming out of two camps, entailing name games, ice-breakers, introductions and all sorts of brain-numbing small talk, I find that it's both a convenient and accurate description to throw around: "Hi, remember me? I drink enormous unhealthy amounts of coffee."

As a disclaimer, I might add that it is the conventional wisdom that consuming lots of coffee is unhealthy. There are probably thousands of scientific reports and studies, boasting thorough research and expert analysis, out there touting both the heart-attack-life-saving-preventive or cancer-causing-death-courting effects of coffee. Information overload. Although I suspect, consuming anything tasting this potent in enormous amounts is unhealthy.

Hence, my tidbit of information still stands. I'm going for another camp tomorrow. Time to give it another walk.

There's a 'coffee connoisseur' card at the Dome franchise, which for 38 dollars gives you 10 cups of coffee. Which is great because I'd definately finish it before the 6 month expiry date.

I've been drinking coffee since secondary school. Not out of any dire need, I remember. Experimenting with the taste, wondering what the fuss was about: the traits becoming of a future addiction. The legit buzz frees the tongue, opens doors to triviality usually unfound, numbs the boredom. Life seems a shade lighter a cup of coffee emptier. Especially mornings bordering on school. Or work.

It even allows you to place a mug of coffee in uncommon places: a bed. A location brimming with that onimous potential for spillage, hence hardly ventured into without a dose of mighty caffeine. It's empty now, which eliminates the threat. But is going to smart tomorrow when I have to sleep and wake up at 9am tomorrow.

A substance inspiring hyberpole.

,

en at 9:04 pm

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

Those Odd Moments

Because sometimes Life isn't interesting enough to take up more than a handful of lines. And sometimes because I'm too busy looking the other way.

1.
When you unveil your spanking new gorgeous Powerbook and your Grandmama is sitting nearby, the screen lights up and suddenly you hear, in cantonese no less:

"Eh. Someone has taken a bite out of the apple!"

2.
When in the middle of Orientation, someone says, without meaning any irony at all, "(Friend A) got into NUS law! She's so smart."

(I can only nod and go, "Mmmmmm.")

3.
When at ContraDiction, Alfian Saat enlightens us on what our national identity might have been.

Even when I was a wee thing, I knew for a fact lions never had black manes and red bodies.

en at 11:36 am

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