Tuesday, September 25, 2012

the curious incident of the dog at night time

I've been reading Sherlock Holmes in little sections, just finished "Silver Blaze" where Colonel Ross says

"Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"

and Sherlock says, "To the curious incident of the dog at night time."

"The dog did nothing at night time."

"That was the curious incident," Sherlock remarks.

I don't do anything at night time now, either. Although it's not a particularly curious thing.

Night time--

Used to be a time a would squiggle in between my parents in the dead of the night after watching Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone or Jumanji like some kind of contented raccoon pretending it was most welcome where it really, probably wasn't because it kicked and rolled a lot leaving everyone else blanket-less and cold and talked in its sleep like a distressed animal.

Used to be a time I would read books like Princess Diaries and So Little Time and A Wrinkle in Time and Narnia and The Boxcar Children and Sweet Sixteen and Harry Potter under the sheets till my mom would yell GO TO SLEEP DO YOU KNOW HOW LATE IT IS and I would say OKAY OKAY and then crawl out of bed and switch off my bedroom lights till I could hear her footsteps fade away and then switch on my nightlights and then I would leave one hand on the nightlight switch just in case I had to make quick moves.

Used to be a time I would stay up late watching sappy dramas like Full House and My Girl and creepy anime like Death Note and scaring myself to sleep.

Used to be a time I would stay up late on MSN talking to people who were trying to rush out the same biology or history IAs or TOK essays as me and we would lament our lives together drink coffee in the dark room alone, but not really alone and come to school with the same kind of eye bags and an air of tired giddy accomplishment.

Used to-- used to be a time I went for night runs with Leon/ Kathleen, but now Leon is in camp, and Kath is in the US. Now I can't go myself- its scary.

Something else that's scary:
I've just turned 19.

There. I don't know why I feel like crying. Phases, phases. People moving forward, moving on, moving off, changing. changing, changing, changing. Like that Keane song. It's not particularly curious either, change. Unlike Keane though, I know why things change.

Change is what makes life sometimes unbearable, but also much more real. There's this girl genius born around a century ago. Simone Weil. She seems to speak straight to my soul sometimes, comforts me:
Stars and blossoming fruit trees: Utter permanece and extreme fragility give an equal sense of eternity. 

Change, the embodiment of life's fragility. Change makes every moment, every memory, every experience vulnerable. But as Simone notes, "the vulnerability of precious things is beautiful because vulnerability is a mark of existence."

Vulnerability is a mark of existence. 

Thats why things change, Keane. Everything changes because everything exists. Because it helps us to know.

To know that we are Alive.

Night time--

Is when my strange friends Nez, Loo, Cra, Ser, Kryst, France, Bob would buy odd looking cupcakes to  celebrate my birthday in the dark of Scape. Where we sat and talked about nothing and everything and there would be loud, loud shrieks and we sang songs that we would hate ourselves for singing because really, Never Getting Back Together is not a song to be proud of singing along to. Where I feel like crying because these people will be thinking of me sometimes and I think of them sometimes and I want to take them all with me somewhere special forever. Where I see them grinning at me and drumrolling and can't help but hug myself and think You Are Too Lucky. Where I look at the sky and smile at the faces I've known for almost 8 years, and think

Look Amanda.
Look at the stars. Look how they shine for you.

Night time--

Is when I get home, 1145pm, tired and open my study room door and see faces lurking in the dark and balloons popping in my face and everything registers 1 second too slow. Where they sing and say I'm slow and look like I'm from Africa and how I forget the most important thing is Love sometimes, but they still love me enough to be at my house so near midnight they all have to pay midnight cab fares.

Where they almost kill themselves trying to plan this because people keep giving them mini-heart attacks and where they almost die of embarrassment for me. Where they love me.

Look Amanda.
Look how they shine.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

With A Little Love From My Friends

Sometimes I cannot understand why my friends love me. I'm irresponsible, I forget to reply texts, I'm never at my handphone, I colour in their birthdays in my calendar with pretty markers but ON THE WRONG DATE, I'm overly preoccupied with my work and don't make enough time for them, haven't been to any of their gigs, think that they were out shopping for overpriced goods when they were actually buying a gift for me. 

I feel so overpowered by their love, so overwhelmed, so grateful, that they could love someone as imperfect, as flawed, as broken as I am. That is what friends are, I suppose. Not people who love you because of your character, but people who love you despite it, and who will endeavor to love you always.

Sitting now in a muted pink cage beside my bed, Wolverine (named spontaneously by his Papa JS and after his abnormally sharp nails) now resides in my home. However, he will always be our, all together, our little baby. 

JS, Jon, Cars, you guys bring me joy :) Thank you for being my friend. 

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Learn Something New Everyday 

I haven't blogged in forever and ever. Blogger has changed so much since I last came by and now it's all newspangled. It's already May and when I look back at where all the time has gone I feel a sense of, yearning? Yearning for something. I kind of strange joyful, yet empty nostalgia. Perhaps it's only because I'm listening to And I Love Her by the Beatles, and the night is cold and black, and my skin is tingling but perhaps not.

It's 1:58.

So many things have changed. So many things have happened. I have changed. I have happened. Now would be a good time to talk about the friend I found in Jennifer, my kids at Power Enrichment, Catechism class, House, Criminal Minds, and the future. Now would be a good time to think about what I have learnt from the past few months, like how to prioritize, the importance of being there, how to give up your pride for your friends, how to sing praise in the park at the top of your voice, how to love God more, how to not be a snobby, self-righteous prig, how to be more responsible, how to be focused.

Now would also be a good time to think about what Grace told me over the phone a few moments ago. "Do something new everyday."

"It's so tiring, though", I say.

"It's only tiring because you stuck in your cyclical way of life. You have to do something new everyday. You have to go out and find it. Find excitement."

It might be difficult, but I think that if I wake up with the same thought everyday, which is to THANK GOD THAT I AM ALIVE I will most definitely learn something new everyday.

Asked where his inspiration came from, he said fiercely, "It doesn't come, Your Majesty, you have to go out and fetch it." -Alan Bennett 

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A Sense of A Beginning
I tried very hard to summon some semblance of anxiousness, but it shimmered away from me like fairy dust on a cynical adult. My traitorous mind refused the usual course of emotion and decided to settle gently into a kind of bizarre-freaky calm. Cleo complained bitterly at my lack of appropriate emotion. 

"Why aren't you nervous? You're getting your results tomorrow! You and Ryan are making me feel like my pre-results call is useless."

Alas,  I just could not be anxious. 

Somehow, an inexplicable peace had seized me and refused to release its impressively stubborn jaws. It was odd. Facebook was awash with emotional breakdowns and frantic well-wishing, and all I could think of was what I would eat after I had gotten my results (Japanese food with my family). It wasn't that I was confident of my results, it wasn't that I was guaranteed to do well, it wasn't that I didn't care. Perhaps my internal monologue had something to do with it. 

Amanda, whatever your grades, you've done your best for the Lord. He's the only one who gets to judge you. He's the only one who get to say that you've done a good job.

He's the only one who matters. He's the only one who knows exactly how much tears you've shed, how many long nights of sleep you've sacrificed, how many desperate prayers you've muttered, how much bloody effort you put in, how many breakouts you've had, how many times you nearly wanted to just give up but didn't, and most of all, just how much of yourself you gave to do your best and glorify his name. 

A grade does not get to define you. A bunch of random American or Korean or Middle Eastern examiners do not get to judge how much you've changed. They do not get to decide how much you've grown, how much you've learnt, how much your future is worth. Imma tell you girl, you so damn fine. 

So maybe my conscience doesn't speak in rapper slang, but that was about the gist of it. 
On the 6th of January 2012, I opened a white envelope. There, were the two numbers everyone was holding their breaths for, sitting innocently at the bottom-right of my IB transcript. 

I was wrong.
Those two numbers, after all that was said and done, were the Meaning of Life, Universe and Everything.

God, your sense of humour is just, peachy.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

And If My Heart Should Somehow Stop 

There comes a point where you realise that you're old enough. You're old enough to chart your own life. A time where it's time to stop merely dreaming. A time to start planning. A time to get things kick started. A time to start getting a move on. Maybe it's now? Maybe it was last year, maybe tomorrow. Maybe it's when you're 19. Maybe 19 is too late? Or maybe it's too early? Maybe it's whenever you know you have to start because the fire inside you is burning, and burning. It's easy to forget that the fire will burn out.

I've always dreamt of doing things and making things happen. I've always wanted to help, to be someone. To be someone special. To change things.

But there also comes an age where you gradually stop dreaming. Where your dreams are replaced with reality. With Being Practical, with Stability, with Making A Living, with Survival, with Real Life. . Maybe it's now? Maybe it was last year, maybe tomorrow. Maybe it's when you're 19. Maybe 19 is too late? Or maybe it's too early?

It's the 1st of February 2012, it's been a month since January. I'm 19 this year. It's been a month since the beginning of the year. I've broken my resolutions more than 5 times. I've slept past 1am. I've missed daily mass about 5 times. I've also been gross. (it was only a half-serious resolution though, so I'm not deeply bothered.)

I've been plagued by indecision. So many paths, so many choices. These choices would take me to places I would never dream of going, places I have never before dreamt of dreaming of. Cambridge? NUS-Yale? Liberal arts in the US? Which scholarship? Which course? Which life? Sometimes I wish someone would just decide for me. Sometimes I wish that God will just tell me what he wanted of me, where he wants me to serve him.

To distract myself (as I always do), I bury myself in BBC Sherlock, House, EVERYTHING BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH HAS THUS FEATURED IN (E.g. Third Star, Ends of The Earth, Hawking) and die a thousand times as I watch him work his magic on screen. He is truly a marvel to watch, a spectacle in his own right. He is so talented, it is almost exquisite. Watching him is like getting high on drugs. Alright not really- but yes.

He is not handsome. Veron and I have agreed that The Strait Time's description of his "vertiginous cheekbones, smoldering eyes and dark curls" that give him an "off-beat sexiness" does him little justice. Surely, that description must be left for the normal men. Surely, surely, Benedict Cumberbatch is not your average run of the mill SMOULDERY-EYED, DARK CURLED man? For he is most certainly not. Perhaps "off-beat" slightly captures him, but unless you have watched him in action, you cannot possibly begin to comprehend how completely out of this world he is. I can only conclude that he is something close to ethereal.

He's one of those actors who doesn't look particularly great in pictures, but in motion, he's breathtaking. Completely, and utterly magnificent.

Between bellydancing classes, driving lessons, pilates, Poptart@Velvet, reunion dinners, LOTR marathons, interviews, steamboats, birthday celebrations, chilling out, job hunting, Proj Infinity Planning,  searing Benedict Cumberbatch on my eyes with every show possible, reading C.S Lewis's Surprised By Joy, opening Ang Paus, playing Sets, watching House, and rambling on about movies like The Descendants (where George Clooney met his Golden expectations, but in entirely was depressingly draggy)  it's easy to be distracted. Too easy.

I have a dream, and 19 is not the age to let it go.
Just watch me.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Under Construction
I am as this close to losing my mind.
This is how my morning sounded like.

Sister stuck in the toilet. 
Knob is turned several hundred times by older sister, grandfather, mother and helper to no avail. Grandfather slams body against door. Repeatedly.

Banging continues.


Helper: I think, we're going to wake the neighbors. (Really? REALLY?!)

Man with big axe walks into my bedroom.


Knob falls off and door is forced open.
Younger sister is released from bathroom. Cheers all around. Toilet floor strewn with toilet paper.

Younger Sister: It was my bed ):

Blessed sleep and quiet. 

Construction work begins upstairs.

Construction work ceases. Helper and Older Sister rejoice over lunch.

False alarm.

Construction in the field opposite my house begins.

It's like a freaking musical.
I cannot even hear myself think. My Qatar earplugs are next to useless.

Feel like going to the wall and BANG BANG BANG BANG-ing my head on it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

some might say, we will find a brighter day

I thank God so much for Jon and his reminder of Jeremiah 29:11, that God knows the plans he has for me, plans not to hurt me, but to prosper me.
It's been a confusing time, and IB results have only served to make everything more so. I keep trying to figure out what I want. What I want to be. What I want to achieve. What I want to be proud of.

The thing is, now as I type this, I could see why this might be a difficult task. How am I supposed to know what I want? I'm 18 years old, I'm stupid and idealistic, I watch spongebob and fantasize about the perfect relationship. I fall down on rollerblades, I sing, I forget things. How do I know how to trust myself? I realise now, it's because I've been asking the wrong question. The question, I think, should be- What does He want?

When Mr Connor handed me the envelope with my name scrawled in the front of it, I inadvertently tried to read his expression and got- nothing. I was not nervous. My heart-rate remained stubbornly steady. I felt emotionless when I saw

Diploma awarded 

at the bottom of the page. No relief, no disappointment, no happiness, no sadness. It was like being stuck in some kind of limbo. The statistics that were flashed on the screen had managed to freeze my capacity to be proud of a 42. The competitive streak in me yelled that I was not good enough, not smart enough, and was never going clever or witty enough.

The other side of me, however, drew its sword and readied itself for battle. Inside my head was an internal struggle which went, more of less, like this-

Gollumamanda: You studied so darn hard and you didn't even manage to get at least a 43? What kind of stupid are you?

Smeagleamanda:  You're not stupid. Have you any idea how proud of your 42 you should be?

Gollumamanda: Please. You think your lousy 42 is going to mean anything in Singapore where 200 other students scored 43 and above? You couldn't even manage at least a B for your TOK.

Smeagleamanda: You must thank God, Amanda, because he has blessed you with these grades. You must thank God. 

I was intensely disgusted with myself for being so ungrateful for the wonderful results God has blessed me with. So, I might not have gotten a 7 for English. So maybe, that disappointed me quite a fair bit. However, I am certain that I have improved my writing since the first essay I wrote for Mdm Jenny Wong in 2010.

The past two years in IB have taught me so many invaluable things, how to speak up, how to stick by my convictions, how to track down teachers, how to laugh, how to balance, how to take courage, how to appreciate musicals, how to integrate God into every aspect of my life, how to enjoy visual art, how to run free, how to run wet, how to accept myself, how to be more responsible, how to spell the shortform of tomorrow (tmr not trm), how to appreciate and love wonderful music, how to be a good friend, how to stay awake in school, how to dress appropriately, how to sing on stage, how to pray, how to lead, how to inspire, how to be different, and how to be completely, and wholly reliant on God.

The past two years of IB has blessed me with invaluable friends who have taught me so much about myself. People who have challenged me, loved me, inspired me, annoyed me, connected with me, and people who I have come to have immense respect for. These people have changed me in places I myself cannot even pinpoint, and I thank God so, so desperately for them, because I don't know what I do to deserve them.

I will never, could never, and would never regret the 2 years that have passed me by.
They are part of me now, and always.

So thank you God, thank you God, for 42, for my friends, for cycling down the pavement singing The Good Life, for my parents, for my teachers, for my love for people, for life. You alone know the plans you have for me.

When you're happy like a fool
Let it take you over.
- The Good Life. One Republic

Thursday, January 05, 2012

If You Fall Asleep Down By The Water

I want to be more responsible. If I could have my way, I would be more responsible. Irresponsibility hurts not only myself, but others. Broken promises, late meetings, and missing the first part of Wicked.

Irresponsibility leads to 1km barefoot sprints from Promenade MRT to MBS Theatre while wildly yelling at poor, innocent passerbys IS THIS THE WAY TO THE THEATRE?! and brandishing a pair of black heels at them like a dangerous weapon. Irresponsibility leads to making your 3 friends watch the opening number "No One Mourns The Wicked" in a small lousy screen in the waiting room. Irresponsibility reduces you to a sweaty, disheveled, unkempt pile of rubbish on the day you've waited for for 3 whole months. Irresponsibility sucks.

I was so upset and guilty and furious and frustrated at myself that I couldn't stop crying outside the theatre. The stricken ushers looked terrified. 

"It's okay, don't cry, don't cry. You'll be inside very, very soon. Don't worry. You're only missing the first song. Don't be sad. Smile!" *Pat* *Pat*

I felt like I was a 5 year old who had dropped my lolly on the floor. It was rather nice and comforting though. But I still feel so rubbish that Jon Judes and Cars couldn't enjoy the beginning of the show just because I IRRESPONSIBLY left the tickets at home and had to rush home to get them from Bras Basah. My darling didi brought them to Bishan MRT for me and I could have kissed him because he actually agreed when I begged him on the phone. Perhaps it was because I sounded half crazed with desperation. He's a sweet kid. 

Resolution 4: Prepare for every outing in advance and list out the things that must be brought along.

Wicked was phenomenal. Our Elphaba and Glinda had terrifically powerful voices, and Elphaba's "No Good Deed" did not fall short of my expectations. Her scream-sing "Fiyero" was heartwrenching and although I had listened to Idina Menzel's versions a thousand times, I was not disappointed. My hairs were standing on end. Jonny said the UK cast was less pitchy, and the acoustics were better, but personally I cannot see how it can get much better than what I saw tonight.

It was worth every single cent, worth the anticipation, worth the word-for-word mugging of my favourite  Wicked songs, worth the dressing up in green, worth the 1km run, worth it all. The set, oh the set, it was beautiful. The florescent lights littered the border, and seeing my favorite colour splashed across the stage, bright, loud and beautiful, was indescribably incredible. The choreography was upbeat and fun, and never boring. Our Glinda totally nailed "Popular", too. 

It was, as Ron would no doubt declare, wicked indeed. I really thank god I have such terrific friends to watch musicals with- friends who buy me water and run to the toilet to get tissue for me while I burble sorry and cry and sweat. I love you guys so much.

The Musee D'Orsay Paris exhibition before Wicked was illuminating too. Ryan was obsessed with The Cardplayers by Cezanne, and Trish, him and I stared at it for a quite a while. After explanations, I began to realise how the lack of detail using broad brush strokes and what Ryan calls "blending-but-not-blending" was extremely skillful. I took the museum tour, and now I probably can give a tour (albeit with lots of gaps and exclamations that would annoy the posh patrons of art) of my own. I can remember strange things about Monet and Cezanne and Van Gogh and Manet like how Monet pissed off his patron by refusing to paint her face and instead focusing on how the light hit her dress. And how Van Gogh cut of part of his ear while painting Starry Starry Night in an argument with fellow painter and best friend Gauguin. How Monet felt guilty for thinking about how the light hit her wife on her deathbed instead of focusing on her, and painting her. How Monet really hated painting portraits but did it for the money cause he was dirt poor. How almost every famous painter has drawn nude women, like a rite of passage. How Rousseau got his depiction a horse-anteater creature displayed in the Salon of Rejects in France. 

I have so many things to talk about. The New Year of 2012, my new Star Trek obsession, Resolutions, my Italy-London trip, serenading of Ahma downstairs, steamboat at Fina's, LOTR's marathons with Trish HJ Gid Ryan and Cars, the Titanic exhibition, my Papa's birthday celebration- it's been so busy. 

I think the question that haunts me sometimes- is how much time should be spent reflecting about the day? Remembering the good times and the learning points of the day? How much time should be spent thinking about what has some to pass? Would the time be better used for experiencing more things? Or would experience without reflection ultimately become useless? 

Been reading Chuck Palahniuk's Non-Fiction. Ryan says he's screwed up. It's probably true. He's also a genius, though.

"...that's also how you write a novel. You plan and research. You spend time alone, building this lovely world where you control, control, control everything. You let the telephone ring. The emails pile up. You stay in your story world until you destroy it. Then you come back to be with other people. 

If your story sells well enough, you get to go on a book tour. Do interviews. Really be with people. A lot of people. People, people, until you're sick of people. Until you crave the idea of escaping, getting away to...

To another lovely story world. 

And so it goes. Alone. Together. Alone. Together."

"In this way, even the lonely act of writing becomes an excuse to be around people. In turn the people fuel the storytelling. 

Alone. Together. Fact. Fiction. It's a cycle.
Comedy. Tragedy. Light. Dark. They define each other.
It works, but only if you don't get stuck too long in any one place."

It's a cycle, you see. It gets lonely sometimes, when you reflect and think too much about things. When you crave and desire solitude so much you become isolated. But these are the times we are free to imagine, to create without borders, to build and formulate without fear of being judged, without limits. And after this time alone, you plunge back into society with new insights, ready for new experiences. 

It's a cycle. Always. We just have to know how to keep on cycling.

Pantheism- A feeling of physical and mental communion with the universe.