Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Long December

It's been a poor week. If it's true that bad things come in threes, I must have been dressed to the nines in unfortunate karma.

My wallet was pickpocketed and then, as I was standing in my bedroom, trying to think where it might have gone, my pearl necklace broke and sent pearls, rolling like warm bullets, down my neck and shirt. The sound of them clattering on the floor was like thunder and I crawled like a blind woman, deperately feeling for the tiny pink orbs with my hands.

Today wasn't any better. People were rude and threatening in the few jobs that I had to do, a big piece of work I'd put a lot of time and thought into didn't completely pan out and my new $100 sandals started cracking. That's the last time I pay that price for shoes, Jimmy Choo be damned.

I've had worse days before, for example when I made a phenomenally huge mistake in the paper and that very day, I kid you not, a dog PEED on my bag. I laugh my way through all those moments, but I'm just a girl and sometimes, there's nothing for it but to put your head down and have a good cry.

The day I lost the pearls, I remembered what Janet Fitch said in White Oleander about expensive pearl necklaces that had a knot between each ball of lucre so that if the strand broke, only one would be lost. She wished her life were like that, she wrote, all knotted so it wouldn't scatter each time something bad happened.

That night, when it seemed like everything had snowballed out of all control, I sat on my bed, put my head on my knees and wept.

The tears dispersed in the darkness, like pearls, and I knew just what she meant.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Haw Haw!

Filched from my daily A Word A Day email:

"To profess to be doing God's will is a form of megalomania." -Joseph Prescott, aphorist (1913-2001)

I never thought of it like this before, but innit true? Love it!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Full Of It

"He fucks good," she purred, pushing stray hair behind her ears. Not for the first time that evening, the lady sitting at the next table had my undivided attention.

Let's start from the very beginning, a very good place to start. A couple of us convened for dinner after work at a tiny Japanese restaurant in Far East Plaza (you know the one) and because we hadn't made any reservations, we were squashed right up against a couple who had just come in as well.

The woman, whom I'll call Apu for convenience, was togged out in designer gear, least of all a floaty Loewe scarf, and had the kind of coarse attractiveness you get in Chinese women with skimpy dresses, too much make-up and orange-streaked hair. Her dining companion (henceforth dubbed Mr Burns) was dressed down in jeans and a t-shirt, spiky hair and black-framed glasses.

All right? All right.

So, Apu, being one of those women who cannot keep their voice down to save a drowning puppy, started gushing as soon as her couture-covered ass touched the seat and consequently, we were treated to a long, incredulous tale about how she had come to be such a fashion plate.

To summarise, Apu and Mr Burns had dated a long time ago. Mr Burns was now happily(?) married and Apu, who had gone on to a string of casual sex flings, had just met a HongKong businessman of untold wealth who wanted to, get this, marry her. So she was bringing Mr Burns out for dinner to ask him to attend the wedding and simultaneously flaunt her unbelievable riches and unforseen luck.

Therein lies the rub. At some point of the evening, much to our amusement, it became evident that Mr Burns was not quite over his infatuation for Apu, who was quite content to fan the flames and bask in the centre of lustful male attention. Every now and then, he would reach over to pat her on the head or brush some hair out of her face while she simpered like a grotesque kitten.

And so the conversation went:

Apu: (in the kind of fake Western accent people tend to pick up when they've suddenly rolling in the Benjamins and are forced to act classy) "I just cannot believe I'm getting married. Me! Can you believe it? Me! And this guy who wants to love me forever and buy everything for me. I'm so HAPPY!"

Mr Burns: "Mmhmm. That's great."

Apu: "I just want to tell you EVERYTHING. But I don't know where to start!"

Mr Burns: "Shhh. Not so loud." (smiling indulgently) "You can tell me everything."

Apu: "He wears these typical HongKong businessman suits? Heeheehee. And he's like 160cm. So that's shorter than me cos I'm like 170cm. I just can't believe it!"

She was sitting so close beside me that I accidentally sat on her scarf at the beginning of the evening. We could hear every word like a bell and by this point we were getting so into the storyline that we couldn't carry on a conversation of our own anymore. And then came that fateful line:

Apu: "But he fucks gooood."

I choked violently into the warm towelette I had been applying to my face and dissolved into uncontrollable giggles, the kind that would visit frequently over the rest of the evening. My dinner buddy looked equally disbelieving. Mr Burns, to his credit, was completely unfazed.

Mr Burns: (completely seriously, reaching for her hand) "Well, that's great. I know how important that is to you."

We nearly toppled from our chairs. I had to turn my head to stop from spitting laughter into her face. Just when I couldn't get more gobsmacked, she proceeded to detail to Mr Burns just how she knew.

Apu: "We fucked once, when he flew down here, right. And then the second time, he came, we did it. And then the third time, he came down and we went up to the suites..."

Mr Burns: (attentively gazing into her eyes) "Uh huh."

Apu: "And then I was wearing a really short, sexy dress and he got angry with me! He said "You look like a cheap prostitute, stop dressing like this!" and I got angry and I shouted at him "You idiot! I'm doing this for you!" and we had a fight, so we didn't have sex and I got tired so I lay down to sleep and he lay next to me the whole night without touching me. But the next morning when he woke up, he didn't touch me, he just looked into my eyes and he cried. Cried! And then he said he wanted to marry me. And I said yes. And straightaway he drove us to Cartier and blew $100,000 on a 2-carat diamond ring! Are you jealous yet? I want you to be jealous!"

Mr Burns: "No, no I'm not..."

Apu: "Anyway! This is a guy who never had a serious girlfriend and fucks four or five girls a year and now he wants to marry me so badly and he loves me so much and can you believe it? I'm so HAPPY! And now I have to look wonderful for HIM! And he bought me so many things, so one week I'll wear my Cartier and next week my Piaget and then..."

I was rolling my eyes, hard. The charm of the carefully skewered and barbecued mushrooms and peppers was somewhat diminished by the squealing blather next to my head.

Apu: "Anyway! I want YOU to come to my wedding because it seems right that you should be there. I mean, I love all of my friends but all of their marriages are FUCKED UP. Yours is the only one that's working. So you should be there. You're not going to get divorced right? Promise me you're not going to get divorced."

Mr Burns: (bewitched, by now, to say anything) "No, no, I'm not..."

Apu: "Great!! Anyway. Can I tell you a secret? I just broke up with my other Indonesian boyfriend last week!!!"

At this point I just about swallowed my tongue. What had started as amusing was getting both ridiculous and distasteful. We were teetering between helpless laughter and annoyance. I was on the verge of excusing myself for the loo when Mr Burns decided that he too had enough.

"Um...why don't we go somewhere else where we can talk?" he asked, eyeballing me slightly. I fear, as I am wont to do in my excitement, I may have snorted my disgust a little too loudly. "Like the Balcony Bar for instance."

"But I want to tell you everything!" she squealed.

"Yes, yes, but you can tell me as we walk, okay?"

"Okay," she shrugged and they got up to leave.

Not before the final coup, though. As she threw a good $70 on the table for a rather pricey dinner, Mr Burns shifted uncomfortably. "Are you sure?" he asked, and she giggled like a milkmaid. "Oh yes! Petty cash. It's just petty cash. Heeheehee. That's what HE always says before buying me things." They flitted out.

The subsequent silence was deafening. We looked cautiously at each other. "Wow," I said. Wow, indeed. It was like something out of The Hills (not that I follow that superficial, gossipy, over-scripted trash). We were so lost in the choppy wake of the drama that we were momentarily unable to say anything. For a moment, swept along in the soap opera, my buddy said: "Maybe we should follow them to the Balcony Bar and see if..."

But thankfully, no. After all, $1 macarons at Bakerzin are far too tempting for me to resist, even in the face of an MTV-like reality show. I may be a dumb blonde, but I'm a dumb blonde who eats, too. A very big, curious part of me wonders if Apu did end up spilling everything, and if Mr Burns ever got past stroking her hair and made a huge love confession ala Seth and Summer in The O.C. (I don't watch that either). Another part of me wonders what his presumably meek, timid wife at home is going to think when he sweeps in past midnight covered in perfume and... what is that, the smell of regret?

Mostly, if we're going to be all moralistic about it, I guess I've realised that money can't buy class.

Although, I gotta admit that I might be equally triumphant and garrulous if I ever nab some random business man that dangles a $100,000 diamond ring that way. So, kids, if you ever see me dressed in Loewe and pan-stick with some sad Chinese sod in some restaurant, you now know what's coming.

Rest assured he'll fuck real gooood too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Two different days, two totally different concerts, but equal amounts of fun!

We saw The Prodigy last Tuesday when they came to Fort Canning. Holed up at the back of the hill with a great view of the stage and lights from where we were standing, we lounged around on the grass in the chilly night breeze while two deejays spun their sets out. My brother and Han told cheesy jokes while I lay back with my eyes closed, feeling the stars shine through the trees.

When The Prodigy finally came on, no one could keep still. We danced and jumped madly through the one and a half hour set, much like clubbing with crazy live DJs. Even my brother, usually laid back and cool at gigs, was prancing around on the slope to the songs that we knew off Fat of the Land. Sure, some of the music was repetitive and the lyrics were cheesy (prompting Han and I to joke that they only had two songs: Firestarter and Everything Else), but it was a blast.

I remember growing up to Breathe and Smack My Bitch Up in school. Keith Flint was a sensation then, frightening and fascinating with his madly glaring eyes, horns of green hair and various piercings and studs. We were told repeatedly by the Catholic teachers that they were satanic and not to be listened to, which of course promptly sent every girl who could afford it rushing out to HMV to get the cd.

Me, ever the consumate nerd, refused to listen and even changed the channel on the radio if they came on. Now, I caught myself letting the electric music pulse through my body with manic energy. Enh, so much for being brought up by nuns.

One highlight - a man we nicknamed Mr Happy Pants (HP), standing just in front of us, was so excited by the concert that he had been wriggling around before it even began. Presumably, the dude was on a Prodigy Pilgrimmage and when they came on, he went into frenzied dancing, not unlike that which you see in charismatic churches with TV evangelists (sorry, Christians). His hair was soaked with sweat as he squeezed his eyes shut and shimmied out his love for Keith, Liam and Maxim Reality, sometimes pressing his hands to his forehead as if God Himself had come down for him and he couldn't take it anymore.

With nary a pause, HP shook and dipped and chassed, running in circles round his friends when he ran out of moves. He cycled his hands like he was swimming freestyle, pointed madly at the sky and thrust and jiggled his hips.

Needless to say, this called for only one thing. Imitation. By half-time, we had learnt all HP's moves and started breaking them out in sync like dorks at well-timed intervals just for fun. He never turned around and caught us swimming and pointing in time, but I daresay we would have had to hurt him to make him tear his eyes from the stage.

Ani DiFranco this Tuesday was a whole 'nother barrel of pygmy three-toed sloths. She was charming and intelligent, communicative and relaxed and obviously enjoying herself. I never really listened to her until someone lent me a cd late last year, but she's a songwriter par excellence with lovely, staccato guitar licks that suit a musical voice which half-speaks, half-sings, dripping with gentle irony.

At 38, Ani - or should I go all formal and be like Ms DiFranco? Or do the music review surname style - DiFranco? Or just call her by her full name the way I talk about Nikki Sixx and Tony Iommi? Not John Lennon obviously, because being the soulmate of my next life, I call him merely John. Or snugglepuschnookums. Or whatever, you know? I mean, not like it's going to matter once we meet and get it on eventually, karmically speaking of course. Ahem. Where the hell was I, anyway? - At 38, Ani seems to be really content, laidback and confident which equates to a wonderful performer on stage in a way that's equally exciting and inspiring.

She was practically note-perfect and I really enjoyed the songs that I knew, plus the mad (but slightly geeky) xylophoning going on at the side of the stage from one of the backing musicians. Some of the newer songs were slightly cheesy, including one about how much she adores Obama (sounding like she possibly wouldn't balk at getting into his presidential pants), prompting Nisha to say that these angsty activist musicians are only good when they're angry.

In between enjoying her cheeky, mature sense of humour and the political poem-rants, we were kept busy trying to guess which of the three piece backing band was her husband (or wife) after she told the audience she'd just gotten married in Hawaii. Nisha voted for the heavily tattooed xylophonist or female drummer while I vacillated between the guy playing the awesome double bass or the poorly attired shorts-and-high-socks roadie who handed her guitars throughout. Turns out she's not married to any of them but some dude who's the babydaddy to her two-year-old daughter.

So, randomly, two awesome Tuesdays which helped chase away the start of work blues... next up, Coldplay, anyone?

I hear they're coming in little over a month's time and I'm as eager as any to finally see Chris Martin and co. in action because they're huge and it promises to be great. I gotta tell you though, I'm attending the concert with a gigantic Coldplay fan, who was planning to fly up to Australia so she could catch them, so she's probably jonesing to end up in the front row of the fracas.

You have been warned.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Better Late

It's been a month, but I think I've finally got them down. After all, New Year's Resolutions aren't something to screw around with.

Every year I make the same tired old resolutions about losing weight and gaining money, so this year in the spirit of Tabula Rasa, I thought I'd try something different.

Something actually achievable as opposed to the regular, idealistic bullshit I usually list. So here goes, and here's to keeping them this time.

1) Take my recommended daily intake of calcium every day.

I hate drinking milk but the knowledge that Asian women in particularly are susceptible to osteoporosis frightens my balls off. If it means more ice-cream, chocolate, cheese and lattes, who am I to argue with the laws of nature?

2) Moisturise at least twice a day.

Because the doctor says so.

3) Be more careful.

Think before I talk. Make my decisions with more information and consideration. Stop buying clothes and shoes that are too tight. Hang around good people. Try to see things from a point of view other than my own. Eat less sugar and more vegetables. Exercise more.

You know, all that zen jazz.

4) Decide what course of education I would like to pursue before the year is out.

What I need more than anything is to go back to being able to skip classes, sleep in and feel like all the pressure is on me letting myself, and only myself down. Enough of this responsibility shit for awhile.

As my brother frequently jokes: "I don't know what you're so worried about, jie, it's not like what you write is printed and read the next day by thousands of people. Chill."

5) Do the things that make me happy.

This is the most important one (apart from the one I'm not listing about buying a cute new handbag). I am DONE spending my time trying to please other people and doing things because it will make them feel glad or secure or satisfied. Beck (and my mother) tells me that I have to be liked by everybody and it makes me do all kinds of things because I don't want people to be mad at me, to hate me, to feel sad because of me, to be hurt by my decisions.

Two decades of living in North Korea-like conditions will make you really really pissed off. Keeping all that anger inside will make you still madder.

So I'm done. For once, I'm going to go out when I want to go out, see who I want to see, write what I want to write, say what I want to say and if you have a problem with it, to quote Dick Cavett, fold it five ways and stick it where the sun don't shine. (Unless you're my illustrious boss, in which case, please don't stop paying me and did I mention how illustrious you were?)

I would like to have me a little fun my way and if this means running away to Tibet and opening a Llama farm with an 80-year-old rentboy I met while backpacking in Pondicherry (um... just an example, y'know), Imma do it. I feel like I've deprived myself of many things I've wanted and needed to do for too long, and I keep telling people life is too short to live like that, but I never do anything about it.

So let's try it for once: I am going to decide when I do what.

Judge me, and you are dead to me. Try to beg me to do otherwise and you are sleeping with the fishes. Fuck you and your dog for trying to make me feel bad about it. I am done feeling guilty and sad and scared shitless. DONE, DONE, DONE.

So stop me if you see me doing otherwise, aight beyotches?

I'm off to a fine one-month-old New Year.

So far, so good.


At 5am, driving a car that doesn't belong to me, reality has never seemed closer.

A simple driving operation has turned into a careful pilgrimmage - if I crash the car, fall asleep, get lost or find a passenger has croaked, I'm screwed. And yet, we're all filled with a certain joyous camaraderie.

The D is in the front seat, rather worryingly passed out while The R and Ir try to comfort a rather green-looking Mags in the back. The dark is quiet and cool, the asphalt glows like a friend.

We cut corners and make illegal turns more than a couple of times, fuelled by The R laughingly navigating over the street directory at the back. Once, we swerve dangerously over a chevron marking in the middle of two highways. And in the middle of the turn off from the highway, Ir asks Mags if she needs to stop.

"Is it okay?" Mags replies shakily, through what sounds like a mouthful of marbles. I pull over quickly, trying to find the hazard lights and randomly jabbing at buttons with my forefinger.

Because I am just that awesome a driver, I manage the curb. The R slides out like a ninja and Mags simply folds over at the waist and heaves violently.

I can hear her coughing puke onto the tarmac, just missing the car door. We hover around her worriedly, The R patting her back like a father and analysing the reversely peristalted matter (Rice! And is that chicken you had a while back?!) while Ir soothes her in her most jovial way: "Don't worry! We've all had this same problem before. And we're probably going to have it around you next time."

Mags recovers sufficiently to giggle and reassured I ask everyone to get back in the car for a short while. "I'm going to drive up front and pull into the side lane so we don't get hit from behind," I say, eyeing the headlights that come flashing swiftly out of the dark at our rear. "You can walk around a bit there and get some fresh air."

The R and Ir pipe up suddenly. "Much respect! You've had plenty to drink but you can still hold your own."

"Speak for youself," I grin. "I saw you both knocking back quite a few but you sound completely alert."

We pull over again about a hundred metres ahead and this time they all get out of the car, except for The D, whom I have to check is still breathing. I roll the windows down and wait for them to shuffle about in the darkness when Ir suddenly gives a squeal of laughter. "Guess what! You were driving with the street directory on the boot outside! The R put it there when he got out the first time!"

Everyone is chuckling by now and as a blast of cool air streams in from the open window, I throw my head back and laugh like a little girl, feeling my hair swim at my neck. Suddenly, in the most surreal of places, it occurs to me.

I'm finally starting to feel like me.