Saturday, February 24, 2007

Mental Masturbation

Mika -- Grace Kelly

This boy (I say boy in the loosest form of the word) is being touted as England’s new Freddie Mercury, which is great because I just love me some Freddie, and shiny white jumpsuits notwithstanding, I think Bohemian Rhapsody is one of the best songs in the world. For some reason though, he also reminds me of a commercial, poppy version of Rufus Wainwright and this song is, in my view, queerly amazing (or amazingly queer, depending).

Anyway, as I am trying to put off actually doing work, I thought I’d just give it a plug because like it, or not, that is some catchy shit and I’m holding out hope that if they’ve finally let him onto MTV, Rufus can’t be far behind.

Also, is it wrong that I actually think the music video is cute?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Famous Last Words

In my entire life I have been to only three wakes and one funeral.

A part of me is extremely grateful that I haven’t had to experience the departure of anyone close to me, while another part of me is secretly somewhat disturbed.

Death is a very touchy subject I know, but I feel I have a little authority to talk about it candidly seeing as how I am actually going to die someday. I have, over the course of time, managed to come to terms with the idea of death and what it entails for me and I speak about it with the candour that I would like to be accorded to me when my time is up. If anyone is offended by my (sometimes cavalier) way of talking about dying, I honestly don’t blame you, so try not to blame me either, will you? There’s a good lad.

The truth is that while I have no problem with the actual idea of expiration, I have realised that wakes can sometimes be uncomfortable affairs for some people. For one, I'm not sure the deceased person likes to have people standing over her body, whispering things about how peaceful she looks and/or how unlike herself they have made her out to be. For another, while I think the living companions of the deceased do appreciate the closure of well wishes and the company of visitors, they aren’t that fond of people standing over their relative’s body, whispering things about how peaceful they look and/or how unlike themselves they have been made her out to be either.

This epiphany has led to a personal decision of sorts.

I don’t want to have a wake. There, I said it!

Frankly speaking, I can’t abide by the idea of lying there for days with my friends crowding around my coffin and wondering when I last grew so fat or why they dressed me in such a strange, uncharacteristically-lacy affair. I don’t know that it would be much fun for my loved ones either, having to make the corresponding preparations. Instead, if the relevant "authorities" don’t mind me having my say, I’d rather be “put to rest” on the same day of my death or one day after if it must wait.

I figure in that time, everybody who wants to can come to say their goodbyes and see me as I really was and before they have had too much time to speculate on the size of my waist when I am not sucking my stomach in, I can be sent off. I would love for my impromptu “funeral” to be like Graham Chapman’s –truthful, spontaneous, funny and irreverant with people celebrating life rather than mourning death. I imagine there would be groups of my friends standing around on a nice beach with all their dogs, talking and laughing over good chocolate and champagne and swearing loudly occasionally.

Ideally, I’d love to be put in a wooden boat and pushed out to sea before being coated in kerosene, set on fire and left to drift like the Vikings used to do to their dead.

If possible, I’d even be especially partial to good music playing loudly as I sail off. It could be either some good psychadelic stuff (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, “Because”) or the theme song from The Nightmare Before Christmas, just so that I could have a final poke at those who assumed I’d reached the end of my mischief.

Unlike the sentences I begin with “Have you heard the one about…”, I am absolutely not joking. So. If you’re reading this and you’re not too disturbed or disgusted by the idea (and you’ve decided you still want to be my friend), you’re more than welcome to come when it happens if you happen to be in the vicinity. There’ll be loads of good music, funny speeches and nice things to eat. And a boat! And a fire!

If you happen to know the words to The Night Before Christmas theme song, you can even join in. And just in case you happened to miss me amid the festivity, I’ll watch from wherever I am then and laugh with you.

It’ll be fun.

I promise.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Idle Hands

“E says:
it's just the cognitive process of transfering from the semantic system to the output systems

Girl says:
Oh god no.

Girl says:
I am too tired to even read that sentence.

E says:
..via the fallible medium called "language".

Girl says:
I saw the word “cognitive” and just scrolled away!

E says:

E says:
okay lah”

-- Ernest, on the message he was trying to get across to me

I can’t believe my friends and I have been reduced to making psychological jokes to each other. This is how lame school has made us. Uck.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Here's Looking at You, Kid.

It is 2003 and we have only known each other for a few months.

“I’ve forgotten to bring a jacket to school,” I say idly online, imagining how frigid the air will be at my morning lecture tomorrow.

“If you really need one, I’ll stop by tomorrow morning and bring one for you,” she says without hesitating and my heart gives a little extra hop. Surely she’s just joking. Just making a gallant, polite offer.

“That doesn’t make sense,” I retort, “your lecture’s only at ten and mine’s at eight. You’d have to get up extra early for no reason.”

“It’s okay. I’ll be there.”

Bleary-eyed and sniffling the next morning, it is easy to forget the offhanded conversation we had the night before. The clock, still analog, ticks over to eight as I rub my pimpling arms and suddenly, a memory prickles sharply. I jump from my seat and run down the aisle to the swinging doors and sprint out into the morning light, tinted with grey.

She is sitting there, just as she promised, hair tousled over sleepy eyes, holding a large camel-coloured windbreaker in her arms. I am so touched I can’t even smile and my heart gives the same little leap as the night before. It smells just like her, spicy, dark and a little dangerous –the smell of life-changing adventure.

Just a few days ago, I was sitting at a table in the school corridor when she appeared there, fifteen minutes before she had a big presentation due, flustered and pushing her hair out of her face.

“What are you doing here?” I stared in surprise.

“You forgot this,” she said, thrusting something thick and brown at me. A warm, tailored jacket the colour of chocolate.

I hadn’t even realised it was still hanging behind the door when I left the room. She flashed me a quick, shy smile and then was gone down the corridor to prepare for the afternoon lesson, barely giving me enough time to shout a good luck wish in her direction.

Three years have passed and she still brings me her jackets and sweaters when I have forgotten mine, gives me the blanket in the middle of the night even though the air is soaked with black chill, holds hands under a hoodie with me on the back of freezing bus rides. I take it forgranted sometimes, too comfortable to remember just how much she goes out of her way to make me feel good.

Sitting at a lecture, my legs crossed under the over-sized jacket, it all comes back to me, fresh and warm as the scented heat under that first windbreaker all those days ago.

So thank you, S, for making promises to keep me warm and safe.

And for loving me enough to always see them through.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


She peeked over her shoulder and then leaned forward to me, smiling conspiratorially the whole time.

I leaned forward as well, waiting eagerly for an interesting, possibly clandestine comment.

“Psychology?” She whispered, confirming my line of study.

I nodded in anticipation.

"Wow." She leaned closer, giggling a little. “Can you read my mind right now?”

What. The. Fuck.

This is the third time in two weeks that someone has asked me this question. Out of the three people, one is a graduate who actually studied one module of psychology and two are life science students. Life-bloody-science.

I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how people who are supposed to be at the pinnacle of their education and at the peak of broadening their outlook and awareness can repeatedly believe that a field which courts such great levels of uncertainty and empirical experimentation boasts the ability to probe one’s most private thoughts.

Excuse me, but they have something else for that. It’s called ESP.

Maybe it’s psychology’s fault, for building up a façade made of Freud and dirty sex, for allowing the term “shrink” to become pop culture vocabulary.

Even then, I wish people were more discerning. I wish they would use their own brain instead of asking me to read it for them. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but even I know when to be a little incredulous.

The question is by no means a novel one. Every year at the university Open House, young, eager-beaver students-to-be stand in queue to ask me if they will be able to perform dazzling feats of magic after four years. Oh, and whether their patients will have to lie on a couch.

I’m willing to answer this many times. I’m even willing to help the misguided ones correct their decision because I know how miserable they will be if they get accidentally stuck in a field that turns out to use (shock, horror!) statistics to understand human (un)consciousness.

But damned if I’ll answer it every week for four years, to everyone I talk to, with a smile on my face and a kindly correction to boot! If people haven’t figured it out and spread the word by now (graduate who took one psychology module, this means you!) then they’re never going to get it.

So, with this positive new paradigm in mind, here is my Chinese New Year’s resolution. The next time someone asks me, “Can you read my mind?”

I will look over my shoulder.

I will beckon them closer with one finger.

I will lessen the space between us.

I will murmur softly, “Yes, I can.”

And then, I will clock them in the side of the head with all my fucking might after which I will whisper mystically, “Right now, you think your head hurts.”

And then before they have time to react, I will straighten up, give them a secretive, mysterious wink and put my finger to my lips in companionable camaraderie before sauntering off with a smile.

Just try me.