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.