Youngest kid of six with an inferiority and black sheep complex, but determined that God saves not just his soul to heaven but the remainder of his manic-depressive life, so others won't say he became a Christian and remained a jerk.
i won't be transparent before i'm opaque. and you'll get to know me starting from the small things: who my favourite bands are. what kind of movies i like. who are my heroes.
I’m convinced that when confronted with sincere, real love, the Jesus factor will become obvious. But let’s not plant the cross before we carry it. I’m not trying to con you.
Some dreams are meant to be achieved. I know that. But maybe other dreams are meant to drive us, privately. Never known to anyone but ourselves.
It is a sadness that, when choosing between crying and sighing, will choose sighing. I'd almost say that melancholy is being sad about sadness itself.
On memory and nostalgia
It saddens me when life moves forward and people decide that certain things are worth forgetting.
I've learnt that the word irregardless is filed as a non-standard word in the English language. That's a lexicographer's way of saying it's not a real word.
Crowds are fickle things. So when we stand in the thousands and cry against the present government, do we know who we're actually crying for?
People always want the best for themselves. But I want to sometimes take second or third or fourth best, just so that the loser down the road doesn't always have to come in last. It must feel like shit to always come in last.
On growing old
Leasehold property make me feel sad. It doesn't matter how old the family photos are that you put on your wall. It's your family but it's not really your wall.
I ask you, if God loves everyone, and if God is also incapable of loving evil, how can there be such a thing as an evil man?
On a daily basis
One line quips, like this.
Monday, July 31, 2006
What is the texture of loneliness?
I don’t like to talk to people after church. I like to be alone and be quiet and digest the message. I like to think about it. Or even if I’m not thinking about the message itself, I like to sit in my thoughts for a while, maybe for another hour. I don’t see why not. The way church is done, it hypes you up at the start of worship, which is necessary to jolt anyone out of their Sunday morning malaise. Then it homes you in on God, into deeper and deeper worship, and then ideally it hits you with the brutal truths of life during the message. It is for this reason, incidentally, that I get excited every time pastor chew tells us it’s going to be a “hard message” and proceeds to treat us all like thinking Christian adults. I love that. But this sequence of events: (1) jolting, (2) homing in, and (3) the teaching of truths needs to be followed up by (4) a time of contemplation, and then (5) planning and making arrangements for transformation, and then lastly with (6) action.
This, therefore, is the ideal Sunday – (1) jolting right through to (3) learning during church time, (4) contemplating after church and (5) planning in the evening; (6) action is for Monday when we go out into the world. That’s why I don’t like to talk to people after church. Talking after church is always the same old boring superficial nonsense about how your life is and how work is where none of that is a means towards a more significant end – by end, I mean a more meaningful conversation, which would justify a superficial entry – but it becomes and end to itself. Post-church is always a frustrating exercise of social bullshit, if you excuse my language, in the name of Christian fellowship. I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to me after church to pat me on the back and tell me “Wah, you’ve gained weight uh”. Let me qualify one thing: I’ve taken responsibility for my weight gain and I don’t care anymore what people say. My intention now is to justify calling post-church chatter “social bullshit”, because when people criss-cross after a damn good message and all they can talk about is how fat you are, then by golly I will UNAPOLOGETICALLY call that kind of talk bullshit.
I want to hole up and think and dwell on the thoughts. I feel for my pastors sometimes, and I think I could never be a pastor because I’d get so frustrated that nobody seems to be taking the message seriously. At the first sound of “and all God’s people say, Amen!”, all of these God’s people are up on their feet walking out and talking about the bak kut teh in klang. What happened to the message? Was it like the last song in a concert? Hey, even at concerts, people usually leave the gig humming to the last song, why don’t churches leave humming to the tune of the pastor’s sermon? Is our need to perform our social animalism so strong that at the first loosening of the pastor’s leash, we run like stray dogs into as distant a dialoguescape as we can get from the message? Is church really so hard on everyone?
I’m being judgmental, of course. I’m assuming that people who chatter after church do not take time out after the chatter to reflect on the message and thereonend move the gears up. And I can be judgmental like that sometimes, so please forgive me. But it’s hard, you know, because for the largest part, I don’t really care how they wanna spend their post-church time; I only care that I want to be quiet and contemplative and introverted because nine out of ten messages, I believe, demand that kind of response. And it is in this state that I try to wriggle my way into some kind of solitude and stay that way while getting lunch and while killing time before any afternoon church activities get underway. But it’s hard, you know, because people know you, and out of a good heart and friendliness, they strike up conversations that unfortunately, inevitably, always mean nothing.
And so this was my lunchtime thesis to mel.
And while she helped me balance my opinion and potential judgmentalism on this front, today at least, she could do little to stem my introverted mood. This introversion would follow me all through my afternoon training sessions all the way home circa six.
During which, for the first time in the longest time, I felt lonely.
When we did our casting interviews for my movie – which is about lonely people – we asked many of our actors the following questions:
What makes you lonely?
What is “loneliness” to you?
How do you respond to loneliness?
All of which was part of my cunning plan to decipher their answer to the larger question: what is the texture of loneliness?
Being alone and being lonely are extremely different things. I live alone, but I am almost never lonely whenever I’m alone. I love my solitude and there are few things I cherish as much as coming home to an empty house and having the freedom and soundlessness to mind my own business – incidentally, that business is always the business of cognitive activity. My hobby, it seems, is to lie down on my bed and think about stuff. And I love it! I love it to bits! But today, I really felt lonely. And when I eventually got on the phone with mel after falling asleep and waking up at 11pm, I told her that I had “thought myself into loneliness”.
That’s true. I think that’s what I did today. I thought myself into loneliness. And the benefit of hindsight now tells me that maybe that’s why people don’t think so much after church. Maybe sometimes it’s too heavy to worship and then hear and then think straight away. Maybe any sane person who does that on a regular Sunday will inevitably on one of those Sundays think themselves into loneliness like I did today. And maybe believing that worship that leads to teaching naturally leads to contemplation is about as idealistic as believing that feudalism that leads to capitalism naturally leads to communism. And while I expect my church members to all file into the cafeteria hotly discussing the finer points of the sermon, bibles out, comparing cross-references and debating about the Hebrew infinitive verbs in key verses, you have to admit that that’s probably just utopic, if not downright freaky.
So maybe I am a freak and maybe I wish all my church members were freak like me. If they were, I wouldn’t have to think myself into loneliness, I could actually contemplate with them. I could actually engage and plan future action with them. We could inspire each other and fan the flame of revival like young people once fanned the flame of revolution. And all that over soya bean milk and kuih. And it is only because I’ve been schooled in the “change begins with me” philosophy that I refuse to end this post on a note of defeated resignation that the world and the church is “just like that”. As long as pastor chew’s voice is still ringing in my head, I absolutely refuse to easily engage in nonsensical social banter about nonsensical social issues. And so if you see me after church, or if you see me after cell, and I’m mulling about by myself, it’s not because I’m being miserable. And if you try to chat me up by talking about the latest Honda Civic and I reply with questions like “what is the texture of loneliness?”, please don’t think that I belong to the loony bin. I’m just being one of those difficult Christians.
Labels: loneliness, society
9:15 am ]
Friday, July 28, 2006
: Hey... are you a fan of cheeses?Me
: Err... yeah. I guess you can say that. Ya, I'm a friend of Jesus.Colleague 1
: Then can you tell me, what's monterey jack chese like?Me
: ??Colleague 1
: Like, do you think we can get it here?Colleague 2
: Did you just ask him if he's a friend of Jesus?Me
: Yeah.Colleague 1
: No, no, i asked if he was a fan of cheeses
. Fan of cheeses!Colleague 2
: I'm ok with cheeses. Yeah. But i think i'm more of a friend of Jesus than a fan of cheeses.Colleague 1
: So you won't know what monterey jack cheese is like?Me
Labels: dialogue, humour, language
9:52 am ]
Thursday, July 27, 2006
The cleaner ladies at my office are absolutely suicidal.
Carparks. Exit ramps. Blind spots. For two days now, between 5 to 5.30, when lots of people leave the car park, the cleaner ladies at my office building line up diagonally - get this, they literally line up diagonally - across the entire width of the exit ramp around the blind spot so that as you drive up the exit ramp, flooring on the gas paddle to make it up the slope, you are immediately confronted with a row of cleaner ladies standing inches in front of your car with their brooms. What the heck is wrong with this world? Don't people want to not die anymore? Is this like some industrial action put together by six ununionised master cleaner employees? or are they really all suicidal?
a couple of weeks ago, i spent a whole day subbing stories about people who got into accidents in their workplaces. one guy answered a phonecall while on a ladder, fell down, damaged his brain and during rehab, committed suicide. two guys were burned in a firework factory when static electricity caused a couple of explosions. and then there was this fifteen year old kid who was an apprentice at this factory, who was helping to clean a conveyor belt when his arm got caught in some rotary part. his whole arm got severed off from the shoulders down. of this kid's story, my colleague told me "it's stories like this that make me thankful that i'm a white collar slob". it's true.
yesterday on the ldp, there were these road sweepers standing on the cuff of the fast lane, sweeping off leaves. what the heck are they thinking? i'm sure they realise how fast the cars on the fast lane go. still, they don't look remotely bothered to stand in a more safe way. they didn't even have so much as an orange cone to alert drivers, you go round the bend at 100kmh and there they are, both feet on the road, back to the cars, sweeping leaves off the nature strip. i don't think they always have a choice but they probably don't realise that there are laws regulating what the council need to supply in order to make their road sweeping safer. i swear, at 100kmh, my sideview mirror just has to clip one of those guys' elbows and it will not only break it, it will fling him onto the road where the next car will kill him. i know this sounds like a damn daggy thing to be blogging about - on a blistering cold morning like this one, i could be weaving all sorts of yarns right now - but it's really distressing me.
if i see those cleaner ladies lined up in front of the exit ramp one more time, i think i'll just go down and scream at them. all those stories i sub, a lot of them involve really negligent bosses but a lot of the time, they also involve some really reckless workers. common sense alone should prevail, right? you'd think that a properly socialised darwinian adult knows the basic skills of survival, right? some of them are so damn negligent it just makes me mad. they're all commblocks waiting to happen and they don't even care. all they care about is standing around and sweeping the floor. i swear, when i drive up the ramp, they don't even bother to move.
Labels: society, violence
12:58 pm ]
Monday, July 24, 2006
I will prevail.
I will get by this.
I will survive this.
They can't beat me into submission.
They can press me.
They can't crush me.
They can strike me.
They can't destroy me.
8:46 am ]
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
i've been flitting between extreme burning passion for a cause or a job and complete indifference towards the whole world. some days, i feel so fired up, like i can take on everything and scold everyone whom i think is doing things wrongly and have an opinion and be all gung ho about life and living. then on other days, i couldn't be bothered to change lanes even if i'm stuck in a queue and the lane next to me is empty. i can't explain why i can be so motivated and driven to achieve things and get life going on one hand and on the flip side just switch and become uninterested in things and get all ecclesiastical about life.
havel. havelim. hakol. havel.
i don't wanna be down about it. i wanna be ON. i wanna be white hot with desire for God and life and purpose. now it seems like every three days of ripping fire is followed up by three days of bland, tasteless indifference.
what am i supposed to do?
Labels: defeat, survival
12:43 pm ]
Friday, July 14, 2006
Men have no excuse. For too long we've been hiding behind the excuse that "men don't like to talk", "men don't communicate well", "men are not so emotional", "men are not relational", as if these excuses were pulled out of the Genesis pocket guide to gender traits. It's not biblical and it's an absolute lie spun by the same kind of nonsense authors who bring you books like Women are from venus, men are from mars. It is completely and utterly unbiblical. Jesus was a communicator, Jesus talked a lot. He was extremely in touch with his emotions and he was always firecely relational.
All these men who come out and say "oh, we're just wired like that" are just plain lazy. Yes, that's what it is: laziness. too lazy to do the difficult job of emoting and communicating. how many times have i spoken to people who say that their fathers cede communication and emotions to their mums? is it a familiar story to you? talk to father: "how's work? how's money?" bam. bam. done. talk to mother: "how are you feeling? are you sure you're ok?"
I was recently discussing with a group of guys that fathers were all like that, and they all knew that fathers out there want to communicate, but they just don't know how. they make all these inroads but most of the time, they end up saying the wrong thing and it creates friction. it has to stop, but it can only be stopped if the sons of today stop hiding behind this phantom excuse that men are not built to emote.
Claim back that space man. Come on, there is nothing in the bible that justifies men being unemotional and unrelational, and Father God Himself is every bit the kinda guy who wears his heart on his sleeves and want someone to know it. If guys aren't gonna claim back this space which we've subcontracted for so many generations to wives then the communication and emotional gap between fathers and children is always gonna be there. Malachi 4:6 says that God is gonna turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their father.
Wake up man, all you men! The only way you can ensure that your children in the future don't have testimonies that begin with "my dad is the typical chinaman dad who doesn't show emotions and we have a communication problem" is if you take responsibility for your communication skills and start emoting like Father God emotes. It's a poor excuse, it's been used to death and what's worse, it was conjured not by God but by some postmodern chick author with a nothing more than a psychology major.
Let's not hear anymore "we're men, we're not emotional" cockledoodledoo. Because the last time i checked, you were created in the image of a fully emotional Father.
Labels: gender, society
1:07 pm ]
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Why can't people be nice? Some people are just not nice. Maybe they were dropped as babies, or maybe when they were six, someone mutilated their families while they watched in horror strapped to a chair smeared with honey and released to rabid bears. If they had these kind of excuses, then maybe it's ok to not be nice.
I was walking to the lift in my apartment yesterday morning when two guys came out of their house. They were there at the door, facing outwards when i walked past them and very pleasantly said "Good morning". In a different time and place, ie the human world in 2006, you would have been greeted back by a corresponding "Good morning", or some other commensurate greeting, but no. In this godforsaken breeding ground of evil vibes that is the front of my neighbour's apartment, all i got was a stern and harsh glare from these guys, as if i had just called them the sons of an algerian terrorist.
What's wrong with people man? It's just a frickin good morning. You just say it back and everybody multiplies smiles. Capisco? Apparently, non capisco. Forcing a greeting out of some people is about as humanly achievable as urinating your guts out. You know what people like this deserve? They don't deserve a good morning. They deserve an absolutely crummy morning. They deserve a morning full of scolding and overpiling work and small accidents and a neck strain, all over the morning from the point of their rude silence all the way till the clock strikes noon. Cos if i wanna bless you with a nice good morning wish, and if you have no interest in my well wishes, you might as well get shot off and disappear into the sewers, where undiscovered reptiles slither around you all anti-meridien. Bad morning to you, lousy neighbours.
It's bloody manners and it's bloody simple. Just smile if you can't speak. Just nod if you can't smile.
3:17 pm ]
Monday, July 10, 2006
I like old fashioned things. When I was growing up, I was exposed to a lot of stuff that my parents liked - one of those things was watching old football videos. I grew up with videos of Italy winning the world cup in 1982. As a six year old boy, I used to run around the house with a ball at my feet, terrorising all the delicate pieces of furniture before me as every piece of wall became a teammate with whom I would play a one-two.
Of course, I was every great footballer - at six, i hero worshipped a gangly little Italian man called Paolo Rossi, who in three games wreaked havoc for the great Brazilians and Poland and a die-hard Germany. Paolo Rossi's goals and their world cup triumph in Spain infused my memory with great imaginations. I always support three teams at the world cup - England, Holland and Italy. Of the three, my love for Italy goes furthest back. It goes back to those days, tv on, ball at feet, terror in the house.
Last night, Italy became champions of the world again. And this time, I didn't have to catch it as a six year old watching four year old video tapes. I didn't have to ask my mum what happened to heroes such as Rossi and Tardelli and Zoff because they weren't around anymore. This time, I caught it live, fraction by fraction, as a 26 year old with more than an interest in watching goals on tapes. This time, the heroes were before me: Buffon, Cannavaro, Grosso. And as the world cup was lifted into the night sky in Berlin, it felt like Madrid all over again.
I was a child again, rewinding the tape to see the final again and again. Lippi looked like Bearzot, with his cigar and snowy grey hair. Buffon looked like Zoff, larger than life in height and legend. This little skinny guy, Fabio Grosso looked like Paolo Rossi, an unlikely hero. I had wanted Italy to win this world cup for so long now. I punted before the opening game one month ago that Italy would win this, sometimes not knowing if my credibility was on the block over head or heart or memory. Just like that Spanish magazine up there, today the world's media is flooded with images of a new Italian side making new dreams, perhaps, for kids like me who always thought that Brazil equals bad guys.
Forza Italia! Campioni del mondo!
5:55 pm ]
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Fergus overturns his keyboard and runs a paper clip through the ridges.Colleague
: Fergus, you really have nothing to do, don't you?Fergus
: No, my sigmalink's just come back on. But i just spotted something in my keyboard that needs to come out.Colleague
: I hope it's not alive.Fergus
: Depending on how long it's been in there. I think it's the kind where the longer it's been in there, the more likely it's alive.Colleague
: Oh look...
Something falls out of the keyboard.
Labels: dialogue, happenings
12:17 pm ]
Monday, July 03, 2006
Have you heard the one about pizza hut being racist? If you haven't, it goes like this. If you order for delivery, pizza hut will apparently note what race you are on their bill. It seems that if you are bumiputera, noted M for Malay, you will not be charged service charge. If you are non-bumiputeral, noted C for Chinese or I for Indian, you will have to pay service charge. My sources also say that the same thing applies for dine-in bills, though I've read one pizza hut source online denying that it happens for dine-ins. Granted that I could be sued up the wall for defamation, I'll tread this gingerly and say that I'm eager to make one delivery purchase and see for myself. That isn't to say that I distrust my sources, who have personally inspected the bills and spoken to Malays who frequently get away without paying service tax.
I've been encouraged to boycott pizza hut. I'm still unsure of this. Until i personally see the bill, I can't just boycott them because it's still absurd that this extent of racism can exist in our big commercial world. If it does, however, then... shame shame on you racists. I also have the problem of having boycotted a few other popular eating enterprises for a variety of other reasons (one of them is a warung that i believe is also racist), and the flesh in me fears that I'm gonna end up with nowhere left to eat.
If you've had a personal encounter with pizza hut's bills that include race and/or service tax in relation to race, err... don't
post a comment. I don't really wanna turn this place into a forum for such issues - there are better places for that. If you want to stand up and post a comment to vilify any act of racism, though, feel free. Charging anybody anything based on different price scales for different races is right down there with rape, incest and necrophilia, and the business of such perpetrators should be utterly undermined by people power.
11:18 am ]