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Back for good

I have no idea why this line “Got a boxful of emotions, got a head of shattered dreams…” from Take That’s “Back for Good” song keeps popping into my head the past week.

Yes, I realise it’s “fistful”, not “boxful” when I checked the lyrics. Still, I can’t stop humming it. Bite me.

Once we were at a museum exhibition which featured Tang dynasty crockery and antiques salvaged from centuries old shipwreck. There was this particular display that had a vase that was as tall as a human being. As we stood in front of it, she turned to ask me something about the vase in an innocent manner. I forgot what she had asked but when I turned to her and was about to answer her, she burst out laughing maniacally.

“You’re such a kind person. You have this patient look and you were about to explain it patiently to me, right? Even though I asked a very stupid, very duh question, you were still going to explain it to me. You’re so kind.”

I might have blushed a little. “I really thought you didn’t know.”

“I knew the answer! I was just acting dumb/bimbo! And you cannot tell! Most people would have rolled their eyes and not be as kind as you. You really have a very kind heart.”

But I could sense she was very impressed with how I had reacted to her as we walked to the next exhibit.

Maybe I am really kind. I would have never described myself as kind until I met her. In that case, I’m also a romantic at heart. And I like planning surprises (even though they may not turn out as expected).

Two and a half months ago, I started planning for a birthday celebration that was to happen last weekend. I wrote down a list of items that I was supposed to get/buy/make and some fun activities we can indulge in and some fancy restaurants we can wine and dine at.

And every day if I had no overtime to finish up or no classes to attend after work, I’d go scour around the shops to see if I can purchase the items on my list or add new stuff. I’d research on the web for the right measurements and to see how something(s) can be made properly. I’d set aside at least one hour every night, no matter how tired I am, and devote my whole weekends to start work on the planned items.

Some gifts required more time spent because they consist of different components put together. So sometimes I’d skip lunch to travel to specialised shops to have the item customised. I was happy to have been putting so much effort because I kept thinking about the joy I’d see on her face.

I kept scrolling my list over and over again because I was afraid to miss out on getting something. Sometimes I would add new details or things on to my list whenever I thought of another possible item to get. I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible, you see.

Then two weeks closer to the big day, I increased my efforts. Item by item started going into the box. I kept visualising how her face would lit up when she open the box and that spurred me on. I slept minimally, I kept little contact with the outside world so focused I was on the project.

Then one night just a few days before the big day, the conversation happened.

I realised I needed to give myself some very much needed pride back. The whole time I was so focused on someone else that I forgot to love, care, respect and trust myself. Yes, I had forgotten how to put myself first.

For the past two months, I had cried my eyes out every night (that’s probably another reason why I had minimal sleep), I had felt my heart broke over and over again like it will never mend back and I couldn’t talk to anyone about it. There was so much pain inside I became numb and distant from everything. It was a terrible time to be me.

Until that night.

I always thought the best way to love someone was giving them as much love and care as possible and to treat her as best as I can. And then when something went wrong, I always thought maybe if I had done better, tried harder, needed lesser, been more accepting, everything would still be fine and we’d be alright.

I was wrong. How much longer can I hold onto the “boiling pot” with my bare hands?

At some point, I have to let go. I have to accept that I would have never been able to make someone happy no matter how hard I try or no matter what I do if I am not what she wants.

I feel like that guy in the movie “The Notebook” where he and the love of his life were forced apart by family pressure and social differences. So he restores an old house into their dream home, believing that she would one day find her way back to him, after all they have been each other’s best friend and lover.

There was a scene where they were standing in the rain and he said to her: “You can’t live your life for other people. You’ve got to do what’s right for you, even if it hurts some people you love.”

As they were crying, he told her: “I am not telling you it is going to be easy, I am telling you it’s going to be worth it.” (Ok, this may be a shorter version of what he said to her.)

Maybe that’s why being apart has hurt so much because our souls are connected. But what do I know? I am just a simple, kind-hearted person who is in love with a girl and who just wants to treat her well.

I guess no matter what happens to us in the future, the happy days we spent together were some of the best times of my life.

So yes, there is a boxful of gifts sitting in my room. And I guess… now it’s time.

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Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

This has been one of my favourite books ever since someone recited it to me one lovely morning. In the middle of snuggling in bed, she stretched out to the bookshelf and pulled out a hardcover book. She was so excited and all child-like, holding the book in her hands.

“Have you heard of this book?”

“No, I haven’t.”

“It’s a birthday book for kids… and I would annoy my sister by reading it in a Cantonese accent.”

And so she did the same thing that morning. Loudly, proudly, excitedly, she recited each word with gusto until she finished half the book. There were suitable pauses, long whispers and appropriate drama. Then it was my turn. And by the time I flipped to the last page, we were giggling like two school kids in bed. It was our new favourite thing to do.

Weeks later, it was her sister’s birthday and she decided to surprise her in the morning by reciting the entire book. As her sister tried to look rapt with attention, I took videos of her hilarious performance. She was so adorable sitting on the sofa in her pjs and looking so serious while reciting the story. That moment, I thought it would be a great tradition to carry on.

So picture me standing right in front of you now. I’m holding the book up proudly and I am going to recite the entire story with a strong nasally Cantonese-accented English, complete with appropriate facial expressions and hand gestures to you. Here goes:

Oh! The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Happy birthday.

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Listening: Sink by Tanga

This song was my most repeated track on the playlist two weeks ago.

Ok, the cover might look erotic. Well, the album is called “Erotic Lounge Vol. 4 – CD02”. Ahem.

I don’t know much about the artiste Tanga who performed the song Sink but I enjoy listening to it. Absolutely love the tune and the way it makes me feel when I commute to and fro from work. The second the music plays I’d feel a sense of calmness seeping in and I go all fuzzy over because it’s such a chill-out song. Something I badly needed the past three weeks.

Can’t believe it was released six years ago. It doesn’t sound dated or anything close to being irrelevant, unlike some sugary overplayed pop songs the radio keeps churning out.

“You don’t have to reach far for the power. You don’t have to rise to the top. You can sink into the narrowest part of your heart.”

Yes, this is definitely one of my favourite tunes of the year:

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Kings of the ocean

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So I saw these gigantic monsters from afar and I thought they were lobsters from two metres away. When I walked up closer to them, I realised they were prawns. Yes, but these are king prawns, not your average-sized prawns that are near the bottom of the food chain and get eaten up by almost everyone passing through.

It was too crowded for me to take a pic of the prawns with my hand next to them as a scale. But I can assure you they were at least 20cm long and 5cm broad. Told you they were monsters.

They were as big as someone’s face, bigger than the fresh palm-sized oysters we ate a while ago and it could feed a family of five if everyone is happy to just take two bites each.

Then I immediately brightened up and wanted to take a pic to send it to you so we could laugh about it. Then I paused and went, “Oh right. We are not speaking to each other.”

I walked further down the aisle and I took another pic that had a hilarious caption which I know you will find it just as funny as I did. But again I refrained from texting you.

The strange thing about soliciting advice is when we talk to other people to ask them for their counsel about the situation we find ourselves in, to see if they can help us analyse the dilemma we face and to hear what their solutions for us may be isn’t always the right choice.

They are not in our shoes, they don’t know what we have gone through, they don’t know exactly how much feelings and hurt we have inside, or worse, they may have their own agenda to tell you certain things but still, we listen to them and even follow their advice because we are lost and we are too sad to think for ourselves and we have no clue to what the other party is thinking about.

So we assume the worse of everything because that is the easiest way to protect ourselves from further pain.

We try to cope as best as we can, knowing that every step we take forward is a reluctant, painful step. If only the two people involved are willing to sit down to talk openly, to really bring up the fears, the questions, the pain, then maybe just maybe, there is a way out of this dark tunnel.

That’s just my thoughts. What do you think?

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Macaroni on bread day

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I saved this pic from PostSecret probably somewhere around last September.

It was after our lovey “alphabet macaroni on bread” breakfast in bed day. She also gave me a packet of “sheep’s droppings”, a souvenir which she bought from her New Zealand trip that month. I took plenty of pictures of the “droppings” that day because it was cute but she said I couldn’t keep it so I had to finish it before it expired. She was updating our “This is not a book” book while eating the breakfast I made for her. It was quite yummy, if I say so myself. Ha.

We had a lovely time that day staying in the air-conditioned room, watching tv, eating, taking pics, snacking, playing, laughing, doing activities that two adults in love with each other do, spooning and cuddling. Yes, we are pretty good at enjoying life.

So I saved this pic while she was away for work. I was missing her so so much and everything reminded me of her. When I saw this on PostSecret’s blog post that week, it gave how I felt a voice. It had managed to sum up what I felt about her accurately.

Even until now.

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The snow queen

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This was taken sometime in mid January this year. I was in a bad shape after she broke my heart because she couldn’t let go her past still. After all that we went through, I thought we were going to be an even stronger couple. I was wrong. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I became a functioning zombie and nothing more.

I needed some social medicine so I met my friends at a cafe. It was a cosy, homey, exquisitely furnished place filled with rows and rows of books. Ok, a slight diversion here.

It was in many ways my dream cafe – the exact sort of cafe I would like to own someday. It had plenty of retro furniture, quirky accessories and a mixture of modern pieces that are eclectically placed. Its menus were another unique feature. Instead of the standard printed paper booklets, the cafe used old hardcover children story books, tore off the pages inside and put their printed slips of menus in between the covers. It was creative, although it’d pain my heart if I had to do that to my personal collection of books. Ok, now back to my main point.

So I was given the menu with Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen” as the cover. It was prophetic. There I was feeling miserable, with my whole world crushed, and a book came to enlighten me.

The Snow Queen is a fairytale of a little boy Kai who was enchanted by an evil mirror and he became cruel to everyone he meets because he only sees the bad in everyone. Shortly after, the Snow Queen came and took him away from his home to a faraway place that was icy and cold. He was content staying there because he didn’t care for anyone but himself and his pleasure.

His childhood playmate Gerda was heartbroken at his disappearance. Both of them were “devoted in love to each other” since young. So she searched high and low, travelled to faraway places, sacrificed her life’s possessions and went through hardships so determined was she to find him.

“It took Gerda’s unselfish love to win him back. Her love was stronger than all the things that lured Kai away and made him prisoner. In the end, Kai and Gerda grew up and saw that their journey, like any you might make through time or across distances, taught a deal about what was true and false.”

Are there as many thoughts running through your head now as I did then? Are you thinking about how the story resembles parts of your life like, “WOW, THIS IS TOTALLY TALKING ABOUT ME!”

I thought it was a true reflection of what we were going through then and maybe even now.

As it was a story adapted for children, there were some questions at the end of the book that were supposed to help us reflect on the ideals represented in it and how we can apply them IRL (in real life). Here are the questions:

1. Why do you sometimes keep on doing things which you know are wrong? List some things which sometimes seem good, but are really bad for you.

2. Gerda seemed helpless. What made her strong?

3. When other people hurt you because they don’t live up to what you expected, do you try harder to help them or do you give up on them?

4. Have you ever done anything which was very hard, then later felt glad you had done it?

I know right. I exhaled and thought, “WOW.”

Had I learned anything since? Well, it’s yes and no.

I think in the past few months, what I’ve learned is many other people would have taken a look at what’s going on and ran the opposite direction. And you won’t even see a trail of dust behind them because they are just that fast.

There’s no one to tell me what to do. I have to tell myself what to do. And there are too many voices in my head that I don’t know who I should listen to.

It’s not easy to keep myself from spiralling downwards when things are not happening the way I expected them to.

Then I thought if she was Kai and I was Gerda, I should prove how much I love her and how much she means to me and I should continue doing the things I have always done for her and I would never give up on her, no matter what. Because she means so so much to me.

Tell me if I’m just another silly fool.

My friend once told me there is no right or wrong when it comes to love. Sometimes you just have to do what you feel inside.