mother | me

The tears are rolling down my face as I write this.

I’m not quite sure how to deal with the news.

‘I’ve never had the feeling come so strong before and I know I must do this,’ Mother said to me over a cup of tea, several days ago. We had just returned from our trip back to Japan and Obachan’s health (although vastly improved when we visited her) had deteriorated. ‘Ever since Uncle Shintaro passed away… Obachan has had no one to care for her. Paying for a full-time nurse is different. There’s no personal touch. I am her only daughter and I must do this. I want to do this.’

I thought she meant some time in the future.

But today, she handed in her resignation at work.

Because sometime in April, Mother is moving to Japan for an indefinite period of time to care for Obachan.

*

I have never in my whole life been apart from Mother.

Every time I encountered a problem, had some good news or wanted an honest opinion, Mother was there. And when I had to leave for a trip urgently and the household was in shambles, Mother picked up the pieces after me.

I know she’s doing the right thing.

I know Obachan needs her and that Mother is a mere phone call away.

I know these things… but who else knows me inside out like her?

*

‘I’m being selfish, aren’t I… wanting Mother to stay back just for me…’ I sniffled in the Dream Maker’s arms tonight. ‘But I can’t help it. I suddenly feel so lost.’

He just hugged me tighter, enveloping me with His arms of love.

‘What am I going to do when she’s gone? Who will I run to? Will I get used to her empty room?’ I wailed.

‘Look, when the time comes, you’ll be fine.’ He wiped my tears away. ‘You’ll handle everything spectacularly.’

‘How do you know? I’ve had to be an adult, yes… I’ve had to do my share of adult things… but I’ve always had the time away to be a child again when she was around. I’m not sure I can be an adult without her.’

‘Hey…’ the Dream Maker said, ‘Her blood runs in your veins. Everything you see in her – her resilience, her wisdom, her strength – it’s all inside you. And when the time comes for you to rise up, you will. It’s in your very person to shine.’

I shook my head. It wasn’t just about me and whether I could cope.

Mother was my comforter, a blanket of assurance I wrapped myself in every time life dealt me a cold blow. I wanted to be mothered.

‘It’s her season to be mothered, and to care for her mother in return. Let her go. And love her while she’s still around… for you to freely express your heart to. Don’t let the loss consume the life that remains. It will be good…’ He whispered into my ear.

I sighed. Then wiping my tears, I stood a little straighter and managed a smile.

I will determine to show her an expression of my love every single day with something new. I want her to go knowing she’s loved deeply… that she’ll be missed greatly…

And that somehow, she needn’t worry about what she leaves behind because like her, I will be independent and take care of everything in this household while she’s away. I can.

And for my mother, I will.

*

I’ll miss you mummy.

*

[Footnote: For those who work with her, please don’t disclose her decision till she herself makes the announcement. I think she’ll like it that way.]

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live.breathe.learn.

‘I did it! I learnt how to rip my dvds and change their formats… and damn, it feels good.’ I leaned back on my chair with great satisfaction.

‘Is it easy to do?’ Jap Girl looked up from her work.

‘Yep, all I needed was to download Handbrake and follow the steps… now all I have to do next is figure out how I’m going to transfer all my cassette tapes into mp3 tracks… and I’ll be king!’ I laughed.

‘I noticed that about you… you like learning things,’ she said.

‘Do I? I mean, is it that obvious?’ I asked.

‘Oh yeah, you seem to get a thrill out of reading manuals, forums and seeking out solutions for little problems.’

She was right of course, I really do get excited when I find out how to do something new. It’s almost exhilarating.

‘But doesn’t everyone like learning? I mean, when you figure out some technical shit, or manage to solve issues with a little research, don’t you feel good?’

‘Not really, no.’ Jap Girl smiled, ‘I’d rather get someone to figure out the stuff for me, and then do it for me. Or at most, teach me. I think you like to set yourself little mountains to conquer… you are competitive that way.’

‘What? Me? Competitive?!’ I looked at her with feigned horror. ‘I am so NOT competitive!’

‘Oooh yes, you are!’ Jap Girl laughed loudly. ‘That you cannot deny.’

But I shall. I really never figured myself out to be someone with a competitive edge. But learning? Yes, that gets to me. I am so hungry for more, to learn more… and every single night, I want to go to bed satisfied having known, tasted or experienced something new. I think it just keeps me young.

After all… weren’t we all sponges when we were little? The world was fresher, its colours crisper, the sounds more resonant. It was as though life was all new, every single morning. And that is how I want to greet each day, with that sense of awe at how little I know… and how small and finite I am in it.

*

‘I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.’

– Henry David Thoreau

I’ve finally begun the tedious process of transferring all my Japanese language tapes (from the 80s, mind you) into Garageband, and thereafter, into my iPod.

Because my dear friends… I am finally doing what I wanted to do in 2010. I am going to learn to speak in my mother tongue. Imagine the world that will open up to me, the stories I’ll hear… and of course, the wonderful secret language that Jap Girl and I will finally have.

It’s divinely schoolgirl-ish.

Of course, not a single bit on the language tapes makes much sense to me right now, but I have this idea that if I play the tapes while I sleep, osmosis will take place and I’ll wake up with a new language, ready for use, on the tip of my tongue.

Okay fine. I can dream, can’t I?

*whee*

Many thanks to DigiBoy who lent me his cable. He’s always been awesome that way, being the techinical-god who had the patience to answer my technically naive questions. Then again, he was the one who asked me if there was only space for one person on the top of mountains…

‘Because mountains have peaks, right? And peaks end at a point… so does that mean only one person can stand there at a time? And if so, does the entire group have to take turns to summit?’

DigiBoy… you are such a spot of sunshine in a sometimes grey world.

*

‘Why are your eyes so red and puffy?’ I asked the Designer.

‘Oh… I slept late last night,’ he sheepishly grinned.

‘What were you doing?’

‘I got this new software and was teaching myself to draw feathers in 3-D, you know, stroke by stroke, that sort of thing. And then to animate the feathers to move as they would when the wind blows.’ He answered, turning his computer screen to face me. ‘Look!’

‘Why are you doing this?’ I asked. He was already swamped with work and I was curious about his latest project.

‘Oh… no real reason. I just wanted to figure out how to use the software,’ he shrugged. ‘You know… just in case.’

I smiled. So maybe I wasn’t the only one.

*

‘I have finally figured out how we can catalogue our entire props collection!’ Scooter Girl hollered. ‘I am so excited! It’s the same system I implemented in my new home. I think it can work… now I just need to go to the hardware store to get the drawers I need.’

‘Erm… you enjoy cataloging the stuff?’ I smirked.

‘Yes, of course! I can’t stand the mess. And I always want a system that I can manage in place…’ she continued, staring at her excel spreadsheet. ‘What I need to know now, is how to monitor the borrowing process… hmm…’

I retreated quietly to my corner of the office and began to chuckle.

‘You know what?’ I tapped Jap Girl on her shoulder. ‘I think you do like to learn…’

‘What do you mean?’ she asked.

‘You just don’t like to read manuals and stuff… but you are so curious about the world and what you see. You learn from observing life. Your learning isn’t quantified by knowledge alone. You do it every time you ask the questions that people only think, but never say. You however, just voice them out. And because of that, you learn. Just in a different way…’

‘Maybe…’ she smiled.

*

‘Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning.’

– Albert Einstein

What about you?

Are you a knowledge-starved person too?

busted

‘Hey, I’m gonna be late.’ I told the Manager. ‘I erm… got stuck in my jeans and it took me 20 minutes to get out of it.’

‘What in the… how?!’ Came her reply.

‘Well… I took out an old pair of jeans and tugged them up. They’re old… I wore them 13 years ago, and I didn’t know the zipper was gonna get busted! So after ten minutes of trying to fix it while I still had them on, it took us another ten minutes to erm… cut myself out of them.’

Not only did I want to die of embarrassment, I was mortified that I couldn’t slip into that lovely old pair anymore.

Sheesh. Who else gets stuck like that at eight in the morning?

*sob*

*

‘It’s a deal then,’ I smiled at Jap Girl.

‘You’re on…’ she chuckled before leaving the office.

Yesterday, we’d planned on being ditsy the whole day, all through our meetings. It was the only way we could think of, to cope with the avalanche of work that’s been pouring down on us since the new year began.

Sadly, we forgot all about our deal. The busyness was more than we could keep up with and at the day’s end, we turned to each other.

‘Did you remember our pact?’ I asked.

‘Yes… I did. But everyone looked so serious, it just seemed… inappropriate.’ She replied.

Bugger.

*

And so, the new year has begun. With busted jeans and busted promises.

I just got to remember that this is MY year that’s dripping with abundance.

(or dripping with buttons, as I mis-heard Jap Girl say, during lunch).

 

 

i’m a junkie. now hit me.

Ever had the ‘chills’ when you listened to a song?

Well, it seems like music could quite possibly function as a drug for some people. In a recent study published by Nature Neuroscience, they found that music can increase the dopamine levels in your brain (like how you feel after having that delicious dessert you’d been craving for) and certain tracks – from classical to rock – actually causes you to feel that wonderful ‘shiver’ down your spine.

In the study conducted with 26 individuals, their emotional arousal (monitored via a brain thing-a-majig… not anything else!) was documented and their top 40 hits can be found here.

I’m not surprised that some of my all-time top bands were on the list. And at the same time, pleased that these scientists have a wonderfully diverse playlist.

Yes, I am a music junkie. And now we know why. Take a listen to some of my personal favourites.

1. Lamb – Angelica (electronic)

2. Explosions In The Sky – First Breath After Coma (post-rock)


3. Led Zeppelin – Moby Dick (rock)


4. Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake (classical)


5. Ennio Morricone (Film score for Kill Bill)


6. Steve Vai – Beethoven’s 5th (rock/metal)


7. Tiesto – Adagio For Strings (trance)


8. Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond (rock)


9. Dave Matthews Band – #34 (rock)


10. John Williams – Across The Stars (film score for Star Wars)


*

When I think about how music has the power to cause such reactions in people… is a wonder then, that the importance of harnessing this power to create dreams becomes all the more important to me, and what I do?

Dream Maker… you know what makes people tick. Cause me to hear that heartbeat – yours and the people’s – and to create landscapes upon which they too, can paint their own visions for tomorrow.

andy rehfeldt

Once in a while, a new genius pops up on your radar. One that causes you sit back in your chair and go, ‘Damn. This guy’s good.’

Now I may be a little behind time in finding out about Andy Rehfeldt and his amazing spoofs of tunes but just in case there are some of you out there as bad as me… here are some of the best. Courtesy of youtube. And Rehfeldt’s amazing musicianship.

Black Eyed Peas – I Got A Feeling (Psycho Version)

If this was the version that got airplay instead of their pop-version, I just might find it less nauseating than it actually is… but really, the hilarity kicks in at the end of the video when the group gets all excited but the music takes it slow…

Justin Bieber – Baby (Metal Version)

Almost good enough to make a Bieber fan… if this was really his original version, that is. Heh.

Metallica – Enter Sandman (Smooth Jazz Version)

This one made me laugh till I cried. It could be the fact that I once head-banged to the original. Darn. I think I just revealed my age.

But the chap is brilliant, no?

\re\

We got re-wired today.

The internet connection now is faster than I’ve ever experienced (fibre-optics, anyone?) and I’m blissed out with the fact that I don’t ever have to wait for another youtube video to download again. Then, a niggling worry began at the backside of my brain…

‘Does that mean you’ll get used to never having to wait?’

In a world filled with queues… That is not good news. You see.. waiting taught me to slow down, to breathe, and most importantly, to limit the number of pages I wanted to load at one go. Now, I’m not hindered by anything other than my physical limitations. Ahhh… But that’s a worry for another day. In the meantime…

*whee*

*

‘Give me something new…’ I snuggled up the Husband. It was time for a re-load. Music-wise, that is.

‘What do you want?’ He scrolled through his massive iTunes database. The house was finally quiet and we were in bed, his laptop glowing softly in the darkened room.

‘Oh… I don’t know. I’m in the mood for some good song-writing,’ I replied. ‘I don’t need to explore post-rock music for now, I think I have enough of those… but something that you know, grabs you. Makes you listen. Makes you feel. Makes you… identify with the singer…’

‘How about John Grant?’ He asked. ‘His album is a little sad but it made me feel…’

I raised my eyebrows with interest. It’s rare for The Husband to connect emotionally with a song and if something hit that heart-nerve, I was interested.

‘JC Hates Faggots? Queen of Denmark? Chicken Bones? Erm… he sounds angry.’ I said, scanning the album titles.

‘Well… he is gay. Maybe he’s been hurt before by the religious folks. Or his dad.’

I got that album and spent some time reading through his lyrics. The Husband was right… it was all dismally sad, angry and sarcastic. But more than that… it brought me in to the singer’s journey in this world. And I realised that there is no difference in one’s sexual makeup.

 

‘I wish that confidence was all you could see in my eyes, like those interviews in locker rooms with talented sport guys. I wish I had no self-awareness like the guys I know float right through their lives without a thought. And that I didn’t give a shit what anybody thought of me. That I was so relaxed you’d think I was bored. I’m sorry that they didn’t hand it to me on a silver platter, like they did to you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to become the man you think I should aspire to.’

– John Grant

 

We, like Grant, are just looking for two things: acceptance in a world that divides itself with thick black lines, and… love.

*

When you have everything at your fingertips… what do you choose to listen to? What do you fill your eyes with? What do you want to taste? What do you want to feel?

Walking to the train station this morning, I was busy scrolling through my music when I realised I wasn’t alone.

‘Come away with me…’ the Dream Maker said.

‘Where to?’ I asked.

‘Does it matter? As long as we’re together…’

I smiled. And followed Him.

It was time for me to hide myself in His arms.

It was time for a spot of re-loving.

I don’t want to forget that language again, ever.

*

‘Every morning you wake up, He’s there, waiting to affirm you. To be the voice of affirmation. Because it doesn’t matter how many times you hear others compliment you… once you hear a negative remark, there’s something in our psychological makeup that causes us to hear that negative voice louder than anything else. And that is why we need to hear Him again, and again. We need to be reminded of how much we’re loved, every single day. We need to be reminded how much we’ve been made accepted…’

– The Big Boss, Jan 9, 2011

And within His book of love letters to me lies the greatest treasures – the story of His love for me, detailed page after page. Unabashed at His devotion, unashamed of His sacrifice for me, unhampered by what others might think… the Dream Maker seeks me out to tell me what I need to hear, again and again.

And oh, how I need reminding.

bad. just bad.

Tattoos.

If you ever get one, spend the cash on a good artist. And dear god… do spend good time deliberating on what will soon become a permanent mark on your skin.

But… in celebration of the bad and ugly, I’ve compiled a few favourites off the internet… just for fun. Happy reading!

*

‘Got this rad tattoo after I got this hot chick’s number. Check it out.’ He says. ‘NOTE: numbers blurred for obvious reasons.’

I checked. I choked.

*

Die-hard Britney fan.

Bad lyrics and generic blonde who doesn’t look like Britney included.

*

Young boy comes home one day and says, ‘Look Mom! I got a free tattoo!’

And we wonder why it was free?

It’s a skull and flames… by the way. In case you couldn’t quite figure out what it was…

*

A man with an obvious love for mutant animals… Large-nosed tiger with dinosaur claws and something weird beneath it’s face… what in the world is that?

*

I hope he got a free Happy Meal for that.

*

Not a bad likeness.

Except… that’s Jimi Hendrix.

*

Typo alert!

And is it supposed to be blood or jam?

*

Now… here’s something that I actually liked.

Taken from the Pixies classic track (that some days, really describes me at work).

Moral of the story?

Choose a design carefully, search for a good artist and pay him (or her) well.

It’ll be worth it.

 

 

 

 

the dreaming, the dreamers & me

Last night…

I was a reporter doing a story about the prisoners on death row. Needing to pee before conducting my first interview, I unwittingly exposed one of the inmates’ weird habit of filming his fellow prisoners when they went to the toilet. When an entourage of wardens and I decided to confront him, he killed himself by piercing a long, thin poisoned metal shaft into his thigh. He would rather die than face further condemnation… but I wondered, what else could a man sentenced to die lose?

Further up a few layers of subconscious…

I was a volunteer at the ‘orphanage’ for mutant animals. There were kittens with distended, engorged bellies, rabbits that were discoloured… various animals that had no parents, which nobody wanted. The more I cared for them, the more I grew to love these abhorred creatures.

‘So, what do you think my dreams meant?’ I asked the Sister, on our way home today.

‘I read that there are two ways of interpreting dreams,’ she answered. ‘The first is to view them as an alternate reality that you really want…’

‘Right. I really want to hobnob with prisoners and mutant animals,’ I remarked.

‘Wait… the other way to understand your dreams is not to focus on what it featured, like the prisoners and weird kitties, but how the dreams made you feel,’ the Sister continued.

Interesting.

‘Well, the main thing I woke up with was this sense that I’d misunderstood these characters,’ I said. ‘I recoiled inwardly when I first met the prisoners and with the mutants, I felt a little grossed out. But when I got to know them better, when I had the chance to understand their situation better… there was such repentance in my thoughts. I felt sorry… for myself that I had such biases, and for them, that meeting people who disdained them was part and parcel of life.’

‘What do you think brought about those thoughts?’ the Sister asked.

I was quiet for a while.

‘Maybe you aren’t satisfied with your job?’ she probed.

‘Nah… I am more than satisfied. I get to work with people, help them… it’s something more. I think…’ I paused for a bit, before continuing. ‘I think it’s the sense that I’ve misunderstood someone… like I have a perceived notion of someone or something in my life, and I’m waiting to be proven wrong. It’s as if I want to be proven wrong…’

‘Maybe…’ the Sister said.

‘Maybe…’ the silent Husband finally looked up with interest. ‘Maybe you just like weird shit.’

*

Dreams have never scared me. The worst scenario I’ve encountered was to wake up with a pounding chest, sweaty palms and a very confused sense of reality. My dreams feel real and yet, at the same time, I have the uncanny ability to stop them for a bit, and return to them later… or to go back to a particular scene where the ending wasn’t satisfactory to choose a different path to take.

Yes, they are always, always interesting.

They don’t always mean something.

And sometimes, they really do hint a little at the thoughts I’ve kept submerged.

So I couldn’t help but ponder about last night’s alternate reality. What was I trying to tell myself?

*

I do like some weird shit.

I like seeing beauty in something ugly.
I like seeing the quirkiness in something elegant.
I like seeing blue glitter on my nails when I’m dressed in a suit.

And yet, at the same time, I like my happy endings.

But not all dreams have happy endings.

Sometimes, they end with questions that aren’t readily solved by a simple google search or a popularity vote.

Sometimes, the dream’s only purpose is to make one ask the right questions.

2011 & other random challenges

I’ve always loved a challenge.

Whether or not I actually manage to complete it with panache is another thing, but I’m a sucker for such things. So when I read that WordPress was conducting an experiment (one with a motivational angle – they motivate, we respond) I decided I’d try.

All I have to do really, is sign up.

The tough bit comes after, when I sit down and begin my challenge: to post something new every single day for the whole year. Will I have that much to write? That bit shouldn’t be too hard. It’s the time factor… Those of you who know me, know how crunched for time I am… always.

But since we’re already on the topic of arbitrary challenges that I set for myself… and will myself to complete with no other reason that to… well, finish it… here are some other things I’ll be challenging myself with for 2011.

1. Trek up to the Everest Base Camp

2. Learn how to speak Japanese

3. Learn makeup for brides and actually get someone foolish enough to hire me

4. Complete my first marathon

5. Complete my next half-marathon within 2 hours

6. Read a book a month. At least.

7. Sleep at least 7 hours EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

And with work in mind…

8. Learn to use Photoshop

9. Buy a camera & actually start taking pictures

10. Write more scripts!

There. I’m done. I think that should keep me sufficiently occupied.

*mad insane chuckle*

shuffle 25

This is going to be self-indulgent. But then, when is a post here not?

So here goes.

Inspired by a friend’s post, I put my iPod on shuffle mode and patiently listed out the first 25 tracks that came on. The Hubby has always gone on about how playing music on shuffle is the best way to explore your own person music archive but I never did listen to him. I’m quite particular about what I wanted to hear, depending on my mood and what I’m doing then. But! I have to admit… this little exercise brought back some interest in the other 75 gigabytes of music that I don’t regularly listen to, but happily tote around with me every single day of my life.

That said… here’s my 25 tracks. And the thoughts that went through my head as I listened to them.

01. River by Madeleine Peyroux (oooh, nice. Why haven’t I been picking this album out to listen to? It’s almost perfect in every way for my midnight time alone…)

02. Everything In Its Right Place by Radiohead (classic band alert)

03. Space by Spiritualized (another amazing band. Grew up listening to them… still do actually… erm, both the growing up and listening…)

04. There’s No Home For You Here by The White Stripes (listened for a while, then promptly forgot… sorry White Stripes fans)

05. I’ll Be Your Pot Of Coffee by David Knight

06. The Love Of Richard Nixon by Manic Street Preachers (who could forget this early punk band? Taboo album titles, a missing member… just another band whose every album I owned with such pride back then)

07. Voicething by Goldfrapp (I enjoy listening to them while running. Hmm…)

08. High & Dry by Jamie Cullum (which is actually a cover of Radiohead’s classic)

09. Ladies Of The New Century by Mum (a band the Hubby introduced, which I fell in love with)

10. Robot by The Futureheads (I be honest… I not listened to them… yet)

11. The Best Of My Love by the Eagles (vintage no? What does that say about me?)

12. The Hollow Earth by Thom Yorke (my love and passion for Radiohead is showing a little too much)

13. Laid by 1969 (cover of a James’ classic, and a band that refired 2009 for me, reminding me to live with a little passion)

14. Polmont On My Mind by Glasvegas (a band, which if you haven’t listened to yet, you must! Worth your ear-time. And the gorgeous internet landing page is beautiful…)

15. Helter Skelter by U2 (classic cover by a classic band of another iconic group – the Beatles)

16. Bird Song Intro by Florence & The Machines (barely a song really, at 1:42 seconds… loved watching this band live)

17. Know Who You Are At Every Age by Cocteau Twins (gosh… we’re really going down memory lane here. This band accompanied me throughout my teenage years… I remember smoke-lit nights writing and listening to their music)

18. Fragments by Manic Street Preachers (I’m starting to see a pattern here… with the music that I have in my iPod)

19. Lasted In Different View by Yasushi Yoshida (beautiful instrumental music, fanstastic for late night pondering)

20. In The City by the Eagles (oddly, I hardly listen to this band much now. Maybe it’s a sign)

21. Halo/Walking On Sunshine by the Glee Cast (embarrassing… I am a closet Glee fan. I can’t help it. I love watching how they do the covers and mash-ups. No excuses…)

22. Don’t Be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed by Mum

23. Amsterdam by Coldplay (needs no introduction, really)

24. Catastrophe And The Cure by Explosions In The Sky (one of the ultimate bands to watch live. Ever. I love.adore. them and am weirdly thrilled I’m nearly ending the list with this spectacular track)

25. A Three-Legged Workhorse by This Will Destroy You (another awesome track, awesome band… and awesome way to to end this very dull and inconsequential list)

 

Coolest bit to this entire exercise? I’ve begun listening to my iPod on shuffle. It’s… liberating. And just like watching MTV, I hang around waiting to see what pops up next. A little rainbow moment in my constant colour-shifting world.

So what is your shuffle 25?