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Woke up on the last day of class chalet with aches on the sides of my jaws, and I couldn’t open my mouth nor turn my neck. Fearing the worst – an outbreak of contagious mumps 3 days before my prom night, I fled to the doctor’s, who asked, “Did you do a lot of shouting over the last few days?” I learnt that one can get muscle aches by laughing too hard.
So apparently last night was the official time I “laughed the hardest in my life”. Take note take note, the hilarity has reached new heights of physical pain!
Two corners of the cereal box are mashed in, one from a hasty transaction at the supermarket cashier, the other from a hard bump against the table on a grumpy Monday morning. It’s been two days on a new breakfast regime and already, the box has been reduced to crap. The cereal is too crunchy for your delicate morning teeth, and milk softens it into a semi-sweet mess of swampy mush. Jaded mornings begin with a confused bowl of breakfast. Read the papers, do the cereal box crossword, wash your eyes – these marshmallow ghosties have no time for your ennui.
The fat boy inside of me wants to eat and eat. Diet and health propaganda is the ultimate weapon against the world eating itself to death. The point where food is but mere sustenance, a basic requirement for survival is well past – gorging food is not only affordable, it’s a necessity. My metabolism is powered by stress levels and mental activity, both of which have been severely under-utilised of late. Fat boy is slowly regaining strength a la Voldemort, awaiting a timely strike to my digestion, bowels and weight, causing global food shortages and inadvertently, massive inflation in food prices.
The Sims must be the most senseless game ever invented. Sitting in front of a computer controlling what is claimed to look like people speaking jibberish coupled with inane limb movement and absolutely absurd facial distortions. It’s like watching a pirated movie where the lips of the actors don’t match the audio soundtrack. Except that in the movie, the characters resist the urge to fall asleep in the middle of the road from exhaustion or pee in his pants. What’s worse is people who’re into the game. “My Sim just got a +2% relationship bonus with that other Sim!” Score!
We’re not stopping here. There’s still 42 more miles to go, but the sun’s setting steady and fast. Along that turn 10 miles from here, the streetlamps don’t work for a good 3 miles or so and I don’t trust the road reflectors in this dark October dust. That deserted rest-stop ain’t gonna sap away what precious time I have left with visible road conditions. We didn’t come all the way here just to enjoy milk-shakes and a dingy toilet at this god-forsaken ghost town. So sit tight, wind up your windows, and grab a cup; the coffee’s still hot.
This wasn’t in the script; yet somehow it happened like in one of those old TV shows where the actor improvises and surprises everyone on set, even the actress whom he grabs into his arms and embraces. Then, it was like magic and sparks and fireworks – now, it’s the easily-brushed-away cliché, the expected unexpected twist, the spontaneous comedian booed off stage for not sticking to his lines. Originality has no value and the creator is mocked and laughed at for his self-delusion. The heart has been accustomed to tricks and foolery – one almost predicts his own surprise when humanity self-destructs.
…That’s my grandfather’s morning coat! What a lark it is to dress so unfashionably!
Mustard? MUSTARD?! We don’t need your cultural insincerity! I ought to send you to the afterlife, that your grandfather might have his coat returned!
No way but the highway, Jiggling-Joe!
SHUT YOUR TRAP! Your alliteration stinks and I hate the way you dress and talk. Out of my sight!
Your gorgeous face is imprinted forever into my cerebral cortex!
You know when was the last time I heard robo-speak? Terminator 2, 1991 – that’s the NINETIES for you, Mr-Governor-of-California!
Your body is like…
I like running in the snow. Better than running on any other terrain because your shoes come out clean and you leave a nice shoeprint behind. Snow is best at 0 degrees, when it’s fluffy and soft and feels like the feathery sugar on donuts. Today the snow on my Dad’s car was fantastic – kinda like rain but not the same. It fell onto the window with a cushioned thud, and what seemed like a miniscule of shaved ice melted into a tiny droplet of water. Running in the snow, what’s not to like? The whiteness is blinding, a blank.
Your head touches the pool surface before your arms do, like the way you love plunging headfirst into things before testing the waters. Your head will be shark-bait and I’ll be sitting on shore, my heartstrings connected to your left ankle. Dive in and feel the wondrous Pacific blue swallow you in, before your head starts to hurt from brain freeze and the blood rushes to your toes. The ocean’s your world and you’re the oyster – the tidal push and pull roughens your exterior and polishes your pearl. Yet the sand on your toes reminds me of your delicate flesh.
Your wishes come too early but your presence is never on schedule. Move on, move on – the wind is your gas pedal but I can’t find the brakes. Then again, maybe you didn’t come with any; the urge to move on is pressing, as if you stay you’ll disappear along with your reason for existence. Leave your apologies at the door, hang your coat, I’ll go boil the tea cos I know you can’t stay long. Catch your breath (don’t have time for that), start conversations that can’t last too long. Funny how I can only recognize you from behind.
The girls here come with an attitude. It’s not all pretty faces, skinny jeans and soft skin – it’s the punk rock hair, T-shirts which they cropped personally, deep facial expressions (eyeliner and piercings optional) and the surfer chick gusto. My sister says “Whatever’s up?” on the phone and already, I cringe and pretend I don’t know her for the next 20 seconds. Hard to pull it off without looking like you’re trying to pull a pole out of your ass, really. Gentle but confident, needy but independent, modern but traditional, cool but warm. Oxymorons are what make their halos glow.
My sister is furious that I “make fun of people” here. Little does she know this is what I do. This is my way of getting back, my short revenge to the heaps of rubbish the nu generation is generating. I talk about fugly people (total strangers, first impressions, mostly) and attitudes here and I picture myself mentally stabbing out their idiocy and earning a small victory over their pathetic existence. If you can’t laugh over your silliness and take offense in it being mocked by ONE PERSON (me), way to go. You’ve shown how big a person you are.
She paints her nails to “suit her mood”. Blue, when she’s feeling mysterious like the lunar gods; red, to go with the passion and adrenaline pumping in her veins; sometimes they’re green after watching The OC and seeing Mischa Barton fit into a size 2 dress. To know her really well however, you should know that the nails only say that much. The smudged eyeliner hints of her tears from loneliness, the bronzer helps hide the painful burn she got while tanning for too long, whereas the cropped tee with a six-pack of Tiger beer on it screams, “LOVE ME.”
There is a row of shutter windows on the roof of the opposite building. Oftentimes I wonder what it could be a place for. Perhaps it could be packed full of the cats that infest my estate, or serve as the daytime hideout for the bats that circle the swimming pool after 8pm. The tinted windows suggest secrecy, promiscuity. Maybe a place where teenagers experiment and fornicate? Where the cleaners and security guards meet after midnight to discuss us, the unholy residents from hell? Boo Radley?
Sometimes I think I see things move behind the windows but I’m not sure.
Since when did children below 10 have the authority to request for presents costing more than 30 bucks? We’re not even Christians; we use Christmas as an opportunity to get together and for the cousins to receive gifts. But this is ridiculous, especially when one person has to buy at least 20 gifts in total for the truckload of children in this family. What happened to the element of surprise in unwrapping presents? What happened to pretending to like your present when you actually loathe it? Insolent, spoilt brats. All you’re getting for Christmas from me are hotel toothbrushes (surprise!).
Why can’t we refrain from talking loudly in confined public places? Why can’t we keep to our left on the escalator? Why can’t we clear up after ourselves at fast food restaurants? Why can’t we queue up in an orderly fashion to board the train? Why can’t we switch our phones to silent mode when we’re taking public transport? Why can’t we be polite and friendly without being hypocritical and two-faced? Why can’t we wear decent clothes that don’t make us look ridiculous? Why can’t we not occupy two seats on the bus? Why can’t we all just get along?
You didn’t tell me you’ll be back at dawn with blood and peanut butter on your hands. The idiot storekeeper wouldn’t let me in so early in the morning, so I smashed open his window and hit the display jars of peanut butter, you said. How inconvenient for a convenient store. Grabbed the brown and red stained bag of adult diapers and strapped them on for the old man. Just in time too, he would’ve needed a tussling change of sheets if he’d continue to sleep without any diapers on.
Go back to sleep, I’ll clean up in the morning.
Remembered a discussion with friends some time ago, how we all agreed that we couldn’t see the Earth living past 2050 AD. It’s strange, but a part of me is truly convinced that soon, we’ll be wiped out and begin the fossilizing process for our generation. How it will happen doesn’t seem too important. A giant meteor, a deathly flood, inhalation of a toxic gas we didn’t even know existed? Seems plausible enough. If it can happen to dinosaurs, what’re we to say we’ll live here forever. Life is a puzzle and I don’t think science has all the answers.
I don’t know how to use chopsticks, and am not ashamed of it. The Neo-Classical Chinese snobs and their boisterous proclamation of our rich heritage and its association with chopsticks – bah! My grandmother brought up her seven children in a make-shift kampong hidden by thick vegetation because she could not afford rent in houses. Wood was used to make houses and tables, not carved and smoothened to exquisite dining instruments. So please think twice before insisting that “as an Asian”, I
to know how to use chopsticks. My mouth refuses to consume food picked oh-so-delicately via the “correct method”.
Blank Microsoft Word document. Fingers whittling away on the keyboard but typing nothing. Possible to get lost in one’s own thoughts for hours on end, and find oneself slipping slowly into madness. Think about the past, present, future, and realize that the final emotion one parts with after such pointless mind babble is always jadedness and a gripping pull in the intestines. No need for water or food because your body is more self sufficient than you give it credit for. Soon the headaches, then the drowsiness, and finally the impending dread of judgment which always, always, ends with self-loathing.
The Sun Dance ironically brought in the rain. Sitting around singing songs that are so bad they shouldn’t exist. This time, no impending deadline towards a certain important examination. It was just our horrible voices and a handphone blasting dreadful music. Of poker cards, bridge, paper clips, sweet wrappers, and two senseless madwomen dancing and running in the rain. 4 hours of doing absolutely nothing except catching up on how we used to do it best – landiao-ing. The mild humidity in the CR was perfect, and as the skies darkened, I remembered what I had been missing all this time.
You there in your, “I’m better than thou because I have eyeliner and you don’t” look – I know you. I knew you eight years ago when the fad started and teenagers from angsty America to quirky Harajuku were doing it. I still know you now, in frickin’ 2007, trying to fit into that same pathetic mould you’ve spent your whole life digging for yourself. You talk about suicide when you’ve barely finished school. You highlight your hair to try to stand out because you can’t fit in. Oh I know you so well I could recite you like the alphabet.
We waited for the plane to taxi to the airport terminal connector shaft. Sitting in the sunken-in passenger seat, one can only wait impatiently to take it all in – the latitudes and altitudes of smells and fresh faces. Unbuckle your seat belts and wait for the click of the door lock; that’s when the troupe of equally anxious tourists, husbands, lovers and soul-searchers would rise simultaneously and head straight for the arrival hall, their bursting bladders restrained only by their anticipation of the Tokyo air. It’s 17 degrees outside, I’m going to pee in my pants, but I don’t care.
Christmas was delightful, as always. Relatives came on time (mostly), dressed up all nice for the occasion. Younger cousins counted down till midnight to open the presents, killing time away with Monopoly, Playstation, and UNO. The missing ones overseas called to wish Merry Xmas, the ones at other engagements sent pastries along with well wishes and apologies for their absence. Xmas tree couldn’t have looked more radiant, and people took turns to take photos in front of it, along with my grandmother the matriarch anchored permanently in front of the tree, smiling like she always does when we’re all together.
So this is the New Year. What are we supposed to expect? What’s coming up after the oh-so-clichéd countdown, the jubilant wishes and hollers at midnight? After the kisses under the mistletoe, and the booze and the laughter and the exchanged resolutions? Go back home feeling a little more rejuvenated at the prospect of a brand new year, yet a little more engulfed in the terror of a semi-fresh start. Wake up to a day just like any other, and come to the realization that this year is going to be the same. The same old, always the same old.
Each year I would get this 1-day urge to send out mass-bought, yet individually-personalized cards to offer season greetings. This will of course be triggered by receiving one from someone else, or letting a nice card design catch my eye while walking aimlessly through those shops that sell way-too-delicate stationery and paper products made by the Japanese. The urge will disappear for trivial reasons – horrible postage requirements, insane costs, and mostly, the setting in of pure laziness. These reasons add together over the years to build up a history of owing too many cards, too many greetings, too many wishes.
Behind the unwrapping of presents and above the conversations, Fawn could hear her own confusion, rising above the spirit of Christmas that hung in the air, thinly veiling its own existence. She heard the sound of the washing machine churning, and someone else in the kitchen opening another bottle of wine, as if alcohol was enough to reassure. A way of forgetting, even if it’s just for a while, the disasters that came along with the karma of a fantastic holiday.
Suddenly Fawn heard a splash in the pool and recognized that sound immediately. It was the sound of death.
There has got to be something wrong about the city when you bump into 20 different people while shopping in a single area of a 300 metre radius. Even if we had the space and time to breathe, it would be recycled air – nothing feels personal or sentimental in this place. The pictures on Facebook don’t promote sharing – they encourage voyeurs and admirers to seclude into privacy while getting a live feed of the world outside. Human conversations are invalid and we’re disintegrating into a generation defined by cyber-kinetic pokes and making faces for the camera because they last longer.
I’m enlisting in January and I can tell my mother’s worried half to death. She tells me she is confident that the training will be nothing for me but I know I’ll have to see her in tears on the day she sends me off at the ferry terminal. Our damn neighbour M just can’t help but yak on to my mother about the “Coping With Your Son’s Enlistment” experience she has, which she thinks makes all the difference in making her the queen of everything.
Secretly I think that her experience is inapplicable because her son is a wuss.
If nothing else, there was still the sound of her voice to fall back on. Her words were clear, as if her mouth were clean and empty, devoid of the ability to chew anything larger than a slice of apple or the less delicate than a baby tomato. The words themselves suggested something much less important, but it was the way it was spoken, sort of like the thought behind the gesture that was more significant than the gesture itself. We had enough chalk to draw the lines, but it was that which told us where the lines should be.
What would I say about 2007? Pretty much the same as 2006 actually. A little less hyper, a little more grounded, brought me little further apart from the people I used to know. Holidays were meant to patch ties and they did just that. Fewer regrets than 2006, more expectations for 2008. For it to make me a better person, a little less cynical, a little more friendly, a little more patient. Because life is waiting, and too often we complain and hang our heads low, when we could be embracing the little time for ourselves to catch our breaths.
The Tip Jar