Saturday, March 08, 2014

Breathing Easy

Life is confusing for me right now. I'm trapped between two phases of life, and blogging is like revisiting an old friend and not knowing whether I should lapse back into the old slang we used to speak in or accept that we've grown a little.

I used to to blog straight out of my mind, thoughtlessly and without purpose or aim. I don't know how people have such purpose to their writing. I write purely for catharsis, or when I have something I NEED to get out of my head in the world. After attending my Flash Fiction elective, I crossed this point of no return. I cannot go back to my old style of writing because I can't go back to my old style of thinking.

I don't think my mind will ever be full of novel and intriguing ideas, ever. My mind has always been relatively empty (that's why I can relate to Emmett) and when people used to ask me "what are you thinking about", I usually say nothing.

Today was a an especially great day because I hung out with Tiffy and sang silly Taiwanese songs all the way through the night Weeyang and Evan. It was so much fun!!

Thanks Papa

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My Eyes Are Shooting Sparks

So it's 3.49. This is going to be another one of those stream-of-consciousness-not-really-worth-reading blog posts that I'm not going to think about and just write because I feel like typing and my head is full of peaceful things and calm things.

Well, my music taste recently has been freaking me out. I seem to have become very bored of my iTunes playlist which is full of Anya Marina, Drums and FUN --- songs I used to play on repeat over and over again. It seems now all I feel like listening are really old songs like Lemon Tree and tacky Chinese New Year songs like 大地回春. There are two feasible explanations for this.

1. I'm so tired that some things get a little loose up there
2. I'm old

Both these explanations inspire little confidence in me.

No matter, no matter. I'm glad to report that my friends have really strange music tastes too, and upon my suggestion of performing 大地回春 for the CAMPOS dinner this Friday, Bryant automatically went and listened to the song (the Ah Boys to Men version) on loop until he came up with a jazzy sorta arrangement for it. These people, they blow me away. Just when I think I've seen everything, that I've experienced and learnt about them as much as I could, they surprise me.

Today we have a Student Government Constitution Convention thingamajig where people propose drafts for our YNC government Constitution and it was pretty awesome to hear some of things my friends had to say. We were deciding between a senate, a traditional hierarchical council and a FEUDALISTIC HUNGER GAMES type constitution called The Silverman Games. It was generally a very exciting experience. I'm awful with these constitutional-like things because it's like my mind hates thinking about these things. It's rather frustration because I want to be serious and thoughtful about these government constitutional stuff (because it's important, right) but sometimes I just can't bring myself to care. All I can think about is how fun it would be to have Alphas in the Silverman Games and I imagine myself part of the clan cheering and doing war dances and yelling the Chieftain. Sometimes I'm so immature it kills me.

I love my friends, though, and I really thank God for allowing me to meet such amazing classmates because I'm learning so much from them. From Rio, how to stand by what you believe, from Kei, Carmen and Nia to make an effort to bring the community together through administrative precision. From Adrian and Zach an optimism, from Liam and Nick the importance of formalities and being professional. Although I cannot see things from their point of view (because I generally prefer having fun over being mature and overly serious about things) I do understand how the Silverman Games could come off as unprofessional and inefficient and adversarial. However, I believe that it really would be exciting to try a new style of, as Carmen calls it "trial by fire" since we have a chance now.

Also just now TY returned my my papaya container with nice presents inside and it made me so happy. And Carmen and Vangey and Nia and I had such a fun time studying downstairs (QR maths proofs and talking about Vi Hart, myths, Tolkien (as always), Journey to the West, Locke, and politics. It was AWESOME. Then before that I met Qing Puppy and Jierong and how wonderful it was to see their faces again and hug them and talk about life and meeting and I felt so delighted. And now I'm so tired I can form coherent thoughts in my head any longerrrr so I shall crash now but thank you thank you thank you thank for today. Amen.


Sunday, February 02, 2014

Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously

So I met someone special recently. It was deeply exhilarating. I felt like a hunger within me was being sated, a thirst quenched, a fire fanned.

There we go. - handsome Archie of Singapore.

Here's a story he told me.

Old Man: So what are you studying?

Boy: Oh, I'm studying law in law school.

Old Man: What do you what to be after you graduate?

Boy: I want to be a lawyer, I suppose.

Old Man: Then after that? 

Boy: Hmm, I suppose once I work hard enough I can rise up the ranks and make partner.

Old Man: Then after that?

Boy: After I make partner for a while I'll be pretty comfortable. I might be able to open my own private firm.

Old Man: Mmmm. Then after that?

Boy: Well, I reckon I'll be married so I'll have a beautiful wife and kids to take care of.

Old Man: Then after that?

Boy: I guess I'll invest in more property and have a nice house and car for my family.

Old Man: Then after that?

Boy: I'll grow older, I suppose. Watch my children grow up.

Old Man: Mmmm. And then?

Boy: And then I'll soon be old and be a grandfather.

Old Man: And then?

Boy: I'll be so old that I'll... die.

Old Man: And then?

He reminded me of something so important. That I don't want to wait until the last AND THEN to regret. To look back and realise my life could have be fuller. To look back and see my life had been empty. He reminded that

success is a byproduct of your passion and conviction.

So Amanda Lee, in 20 years, when you look back on this blog post, I hope you can look back and feel joy swelling in your heart. I hope you can say to yourself

"Amanda, you have tried your best to do the work that matters. To feed the hungry, to give drink to the thirsty, to clothe the naked, to habour the homeless, to visit the sick, to ransom the captive, to bury the dead. To love. To live. To experience and choose love every single day and to let it flow over. Amanda you have done your best. Amanda even though you might not have done everything completely right, you never gave up. You never shut your eyes and your heart to the exploding light and perfect forgiveness of Christ Jesus. You never turned away from the day into the night. You never lost hope in God. You never gave in to exhaustion and sheer frustration. You kept on swimming."

He reminded me also:
Don't Take Yourself Too Seriously.

Life is full of little joys and laughter. I must remember when to rejoice with a light heart. I must remember to PRAY WITH MY HEART AND NOT MY HEAD.

You must be VULNERABLE. He said "Some of you might not have had a girlfriend or boyfriend. That's because you are so, so, so AFRAID of getting hurt. You are afraid of being vulnerable because you might get hurt.

Which you will."

I gasped so loudly when he said "You will get hurt" that I felt my face heating up. I don't know if I how to love someone that much and give so much of my heart to someone I don't know that well. I don't know how to do that. I need to be secure that my heart will not be needlessly broken. Sometimes I don't know if I reinforce the barriers too harshly.

I think though, the only solution is remembering that the only person who will never never never never let me down is God. He is the only one who is perfect love. Because I have already received perfect love from him, I don't expect someone else to fill that void in my heart. I am free to love other better. I have faith that should I ever find someone... we'll be aye-okay. Hehe.

The only way to live is to live for others + God. 
- Cutie Archie William Goh :)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Squash, Descartes, and Musical Washing Machines

I'm listening to Cantus Eatnemen Vuelie by Frode Fjellheim which Frozen introduced to Bryant and Bryant introduced to us during Accapella jamming last night. It's terribly pretty... transcendent and chant-y with bits of hymn stuck into it. Then there's a section where the choir goes especially loud and your heart beats in time with the song. I imagine angels singing these songs and that makes me very glad.

Dear Lord, today was one of those lazy days. I got up at about 10 and padded around room checking my phone aimlessly. Then I tried to finish figuring out the Wax Argument in Descartes' Meditation 2. I typed out very briefly what seemed more like a summary than an actually argument reconstruction, but I'm adequately pleased with it. I'm actually enjoyed Descartes slightly more than I expected.

When I go for Father Garcia's talks, he always talks about Cartesian logic "I think therefore I am", and condemns it as relativist and warns us not to think down that line. It's odd cause Prof Cathay Liu tells me to try as best I can to think in the head of the philosophers we study... and the problem with me is I like to be obedient (yes I'm gross and boring that way) and when two smart people say different things to me I become confused.

Descartes, all things considered, thought, seems like a pretty swell guy. He's got this whole "personal touch" thing going in his Meditations and Discourse, where he talks about travelling too much and "eventually becoming a stranger in one's own country", and his loves:"oratory and poetry". Unlike a large majority of his fellow thinkers, he sometimes says exceedingly endearing things like

"... I want to stop here, so that by the length of my meditation this new knowledge may be more deeply impressed upon my memory". - Meditations 2

(I imagine him earnestly pursing his lips, cross legged, breathing deeply in to assimilate his new thoughts, trying to let them impress upon and diffuse into his being.)


"Be that as it may..." - Repeatedly throughout the Meditations

Dear Lord, I wonder what you made of Descartes and his deep yearning for knowledge. How much he wanted to get to know you better, he sent all his Meditations to Priests and Catholic people to vet and check. His intellectual fervour is something I admire :)

After my rendezvous with Descartes, I went downstairs to have lunch and listen to President Perry tell us about Yale-NUS and field some questions from the students... some of which were really interesting. Perry talked about how important it was it remember the different between "distinguishing ourselves from NUS" and being an "elite school", VERSUS being "elitist". He warned us against being prideful and exhorted us to improve relations with NUS. I thought that was a pretty timely reminder for me. Sometimes, when I meet my people from NUS, I feel more "special", in an odd, awful way, just because there's the word "Yale" in front of the name of my school. It's pathetic that I need to draw confidence and self-worth for a name, Lord. Please don't let me continue this thoughts.

It was darling Anshuman who reminded me to go listen to Perry, and after that we went for a nice, sweaty squash session where Anshuman taught me how to pick up difficult serves.

"Wait for the ball, Amanda. Don't rush for it. Since you're already waiting and not immediately volleying it, might as well wait a little longer so you can take a nice aim and shoot. You can practically pick up any ball if you wait long enough. It's true."

And he proceeded to demonstrate hitting a ball that was bouncing very minimally off the ground. Somehow, that display really sticks in my head and through the whole game, I actively attempted to wait for the ball instead of blindly rushing toward it. Anshuman is a very logical player and a wonderful coach. I had a brilliant time playing with him.

It unfortunately could only be a quick round, cause I had to rush off to a talk held at Yusuf Ishak House by Brother Justin Yip who talked about the exact thing I was reading about yesterday... Pope Francis and his message that the Catholic Church is not so much about rules and punishment and boring doctrines and sleepy masses.


The Catholic Church is about love. It's about a love so deep and so terrifying that we cannot fathom with our measly minds. It's about a Titanic-esque love, a love that makes your heart want to break and burst at the same time as Celine Dion sings "every night in my dreams..." and the blue, endless waves crash and a tiny old lady in her white nightdress stands on the rungs of a boat.

Love in the big things and in the small things. I asked Brother why the Church History was so important and he said something that made quite pretty sense.

"When I counsel married couples who are only a few years into their marriage and they tell me they don't feel love for each other any longer, I always tell them this:

Love, it stands the test of time."

Sometimes, love is in the small things too. (credits to Arundhati Roy one of my favie authors of all time). Like walking through the random back fields of U-town and looking for carts that the NUS students make with Maggie after the talk. Like coming back from a tough frisbee training to find lovely smiles in the Common Lounge and a hot pot of homemade (by the cooking trio Nia Carmie and Vangey) stir-fried soba and mushroom sauce. Like laughter in Carmen's room on a late Wednesday night watching Vangey's video about an extremely talented washing machine.

Eternal life, indeed belongs to those who live in the present.
(Credits to Carmie and Wittgenstein)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Crownless Again Shall Be King 

I'm back!

Yesterday was such a tiring day that I practically fell asleep while typing. I literally sat at my computer and typed with my eyes flickering shut like a dying firefly.

I had a wonderfully relaxing day today. I woke up at about 8.30am and rolled around in bed before getting up to brew some green tea to fill my tummy. It was so, so warm it shot straight down like a arrow unto it's mark, exploding in my stomach in delicious, delicious warmth. I had a bowl of cereal while poring over this week's Catholic News in our living room Suite. Somehow, the cold air added unto the quiet of the morning, and the hot tea and cold milk and crunchy Banana Nut Crunch and the languid air of sleepiness made me emotional.

I got weepy over an article about my hero, Pope Francis.
I was flipping through the pages and then I began reading Archbishop William Goh's message to Catechists, where he made Aragorn-like exhortations.

"Let us draw strength from his contagious joy! The joy that comes from proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Christ is with us! Courage be upon us!"

"Either we evangelise the world or we will be secularised! In this spiritual warfare, there is no neutrality. Jesus says clearly, 'Whosoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not father with me, scatters.' (Mark 12:30)"

There I was at the table, giggling at Archie's glorious words and imagining him on a horse riding up and down the rows of soldiers while we waiting to storm the Black Gates of Mordor, shouting "COURAGE BE UPON US!" in his slightly singlish-y accent and bobbing white hair.

It's a very important reminder for me though. Sometimes, I forget how tough the fight will be. It's only the second week of school and temptations galore in the form of sloth (can't make myself get up in the morning, can't find motivation or discipline to do work), gluttony (so much excess of food), envy (being jealous of people), pride (thinking I'm better/ prettier/ smarter than others), vanity (caring excessively about how I look, priding myself not for my actions and kindness but for how I look)... they get the better of me. It's so easy to slip. It's so easy to fall in this bloody spiritual warfare.

When I read about Pope Francis and his exploits though, I feel as though he makes everything seem simpler. That sometimes life is hard only because we choose to make it hard. On his birthday, this big guy, 77 years of age, famous and all, he basically goes out to his front porch and beckons these homeless fellows in to celebrate his big day with him.

Simple, really. So why did it bring tears to my eyes? Why was I leaking like a tap this morning when I read his article? This man inspires people because he is simple. There is something about simplicity and direct kindness that strikes deep in our hearts. It moves a part of our soul that we sometimes forget exists. And in that movement we feel alive. Like darling Jon Foreman The Wise says "and I wonder why, why would I wait till I die to come alive?"

Why indeed? Why wait till I die to come alive? To feel ALIVE and burn, burn, burn, for the love of Christ and from Christ's unconditional, love for us? Everyday, I, am reminded, I must choose my fate.

I kept rereading the poem Bilbo read for Aragorn over and over again trying to stick it in my head because it is, in Vangey's words, PERF.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.
The old who is strong does not wither, 
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be wakened, 
A light from the shadows shall spring. 
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king. 

After a nice dinner of Vangey's delicious scrambled eggs and tortilla wraps with stolen kailan from downstairs and stir-fried sardines with the sweetness chopped onions and garlic, poor Alvin Pang had to compete with the immensity of Tolkien's poetry. Sorry Alvin... my heart was too full.

Speaking of choosing fates, it is Catholic Awareness Week 2014. I was mending a lonely booth at the Central Library yesterday. I spent a nice hour reading all the pamphlets and posters-pin-ups and learning so much. We're not supposed to approach anyone to tell them about Catholic Student Society because apparently that will upset the religious freedom act thingum in Singapore. I don't know yet how I feel about this rule.

Although I had no patrons in my hour-long shift, I was thinking about how our conversations might go.

Visitor: So why do you believe in God? 

Me: He's been in my life since I was 11, and I've seen him work miracles in my life. I've seen him work miracles in others. I meet him every week at mass. He changed my life... no... he SAVED my life cuz now I don't have to die and die and die for the crap I get up to in life. His blameless son already did all the dying that had to be done for me. He taught me to be vulnerable, to love and be loved. He changed my relationship with my mother. 

So why would I wait till I die to come alive?

I would say. I was so excited to tell people, but no one came. In a way I was relieved because it's scary to actually say these things to a real visitor and not recite them in my own head. Another wise friend, Sara Bareilles says though "I wonder what would happen if you say what you want to say and let the words fall out?" Nothing too catastrophic, I gather.

Courage, indeed, be upon us.

Thank God :)
It was a pretty swell day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Second Week of School

So Cara texted me randomly. 
She screen-shotted a page from my older posts. My old blogposts when I was 11. 

I typed. like this!!!!!! like seriosly, omg. I was like, SO BAD AT SPELLING!!!!!!

And I put. Like. Fullstops. Like everywhere. 

And added extremly redundant spaces!!!

To add emphasis on my words.!!!

It is mortifying to read them. I cringed so much I nearly had a face-cramp. They were absolutely hilarious though. It's good to know how much I've changed since I was 11. Though I'll give it to myself... I didn't have the spelling, but I did have spirit. 

Reading Qing's blog (and speaking of Qing's blog, it is AWESOME.) has gotten me in the mood of blogging again. It feels odd to blog without something to say though. I think I'll just lapse back into my usual diary style cuz that seems to be the only thing that works for me now.

Dear Lord,

It's been a wonderful two days. Thank you so much. I've been having a gorgeous week, it's like you blessings abound and tip over the edge, making mea burbling pool of contentment and joy. Although there was a point on Friday I felt really awful and down, but I attribute it comfortably to women-ly emotional coasters, insecurity, and general tiredness. Thank you God for blessing me with Loopy who (amazingly) was up at an inhuman hour doing who-knows-what... and she listened as a sobbed down the phone like a hungry baby at midnight.

Thank you Lord for giving the boys a fantastic basketball game on Saturday. It was a great great game against Yusuf Ishak House, and the boys played really really hard. They sprinted across the court in what seemed to me like seconds, pushing themselves to win. I loved Subhas's technique of leading and also his sportsmanship. It's inspiring.

Oh wow, there's so much more to thank you for Lord. The wonderful dinner with Tara and John Reid at my place, and then we went off to a playground, where I heard poetry from them...


Friday, September 27, 2013

3 Days into Twenty

Keeping with tradition, I will now blog sometime-around-my-birthday because after scrolling through my past blogpost, I have a little bit of a tendency.


Bet you now the word looks weird. Same way it feels weird to me.

Veron left in the morning, and I sat in Starbucks after she left spending time with C.S Lewis. After a bit, I felt lonely. I thought about Ching's message to me just before midnight and felt warmed in my heart. To warm it even more and remind myself to stop being a sob, I told Leo the busker I met in the Orchard-Far East underpass to "please sing a song for me, it's my birthday", and so he did. Instead of singing just the usual birthday song however, he sang a song about how I was like a storm in the desert, how I was like a sleepy blue ocean, and a walk in the rain... it was somewhere around the "storm in the desert" where my eyes couldn't hold all the water in any more and started leaking like a broken tap.

The song is called Annie's Song by John Denver (I googled it) and he transited into the usual happy birthday song after wrenching up heart out and pouring in steaming Sara-made chai. My heart was bursting, and I felt filled with God's love from a stranger.

As Chings pointed out, I tend to overthink on my birthdays, I tend to question friendships and life and existence and meaning of things and it gets me down.

Somehow, though, God has a funny way of doing things. He forces, FORCES me to remember that no matter how much I want to protect myself from the love of my friends, no matter how little I want to vulnerable and to accept less love so I don't feel so vulnerable, he doesn't let me. I don't want to grow up and start to be cynical about birthdays and think that it's a social exchange where if we celebrate yours, then you'll celebrate mine... I want to remain in my childish notion of joy and love and friendships, but I do realise it's not going to be easy to maintain birthday celebrations with friends forever. But we will try. And we will fail, but the effort counts for something, and the memories, perhaps, even more.

My beautiful god-siblings Aly and Drey blow out my candles for me after we have a scrumptious dinner prepared by my darling Aunty Yeni. She even used little green-tea chocolates on my cake because my favourite colour is green.

Halfway through the cake cutting, the door bell rings and Moses pops out from behind the door with a most cheeky grin on plastered unto his face and I stare at him for a few moments and then from behind him pops Kim, Mike and Bel and I don't really know what to say. God is so crazy for bringing these people into my life, and reminding me of his blessings all on one day, that I feel kind of that I owe him a great deal. 

Mei: Jie!! Look at the moon tonight! It looks awesome!
Me: Huh? But Mid Autumn festival is over. (Runs to the balcony nonetheless)
If there is a moon out there that gives a girl cause for joy, then this was it.
Me: (speechless)

I receive love from all corners there is no where to hide from all the love that strikes my heart. I am so grateful and guilty and terribly bad to receiving all this love, Starbucks and a opportunity to read C.S Lewis to him from Niraj, a beautiful card from Cara which made me feel awfully happy, a heartfelt note from Bobbies, Mel, Carmen, Theo, WJ. Reg and my Fairy Godmother... 

Without having had my friends come over, I know that they love me.

In the words of Henri Nouwen,
A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, "Isn't that beautiful," or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don't have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.” 

Thank you dear Lord, for the blessings of my friends, who show me how to be vulnerable when I don't necessarily want to. Thank you for my neighbours and my parents and my siblings and my grandfather and my Aunty who are representations of how you love me-- without reserve. Lord teach me to properly respond to these gifts of love. Teach me to do better in being a friend, a sister, a daughter, a neighbour, a student, a leader and most importantly, a child of god.