the runs

April 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

[Picture by DC Runographer]

I had been waiting a long time for this moment. It usually hit me around the end of April & December every year, but when end-2010 and April 2011 passed by with nary a whisper of the moment, I began to get really worried. Was I doomed to be an eternal sloth? Was all my equipment going to junk-sale heaven? Was I growing to become like my dad’s sisters, whose only source of entertainment was eating and gossiping? Thank God then, that it finally happened tonight.

Yes, I am inspired to start running again.

[Picture by DC Runographer]

It’s not for the fact that the half-marathon is a mere month away and I haven’t trained at all. Neither is it because I need to be slimmer, want a cathartic channel, or that I saw my flabby reflection in the train windows. None of those things propel me off the chair and on to the tracks. Even when I’m in the midst of a run, competition is the last thing that urges me across the finish line. If anything, seeing others get all sweaty and glow-y with their sense of accomplishment makes me want to sink deeper into my metaphoric couch.

No. The one thing that inspired me was the idea that I could take pictures while running.

I know, it sounds odd. But runography (it has a name!) has actually been around since… well, since the iPhone met the runner, though the term was crystallized by John Wood, an amazing photographer (just click on his name to view his feed).

And I think it sounds just brilliant – combining my love of photos with the need to be distracted while I run. But honestly, the thing I loved most was finding out that someone else out there was a complaining runner.

Every blog I read about running is all about how exhilarating pounding the pavement can be. It made me want to give up because even though I do love running, I usually hold dialogues with myself – stuff that I dare not put in print as they consist of complaints, curses or general bitching about my fellow runners. It’s fun. It’s motivating. And… it’s how I get through my weekly 10k.

The DC Runographer’s blog is therefore, my savior tonight.

[Picture by DC Runographer]

His pictures are gorgeous, his stories, hilarious. The fact that he’s serious about running is also very inspiring. After reading his blog, I actually began missing my dear old Asics shoes & Nike shorts! Taking them out of the cupboards, I think I heard them sigh with relief when I said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow morning darlings.’

I haven’t quite found a solution for a few things though:

  1. How am I going to run with an iPhone in hand? I have a tiny shuffle that I clip on to my top because my hand usually grips a towel.
  2. How am I going to take nice pictures? I usually run at night. No nice flares there, and I might need to battle with low light conditions.
  3. Is there a way to be subtle, if I need to stop to take a picture? I’m shy. I run alone. My area is crowded with people at all times of the day. I might end up looking like a fool.

I guess I’ll find a solution somehow, with a little experimentation. It doesn’t quell the urge to lace up and sweat it out though. Not one bit. I’m just happy that the moment finally arrived.

I’m going running again.

PS. Am I the only one who thinks that the word run looks funny?

rest & inspiration in videoland

April 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

Signs that I’m relaxing again:

  1. I start to care about how my nails look.
  2. I enter my Google Reader to plough through hundreds of posts from my favourite sites.
  3. I hang out with friends without worrying about work. Or talking about work. Or thinking about work. Or working.
  4. I watch YouTube videos.
  5. I laugh. A lot.

Today was one of those days, and considering it was a full-day rehearsal where a key dancer fell sick, another bumped her head and ended up looking like a Star Trek cast member, the lights design was wrong, wrong, wrong, and a pair of pants got torn… well, being relaxed amidst all that was a very surreal experience.

‘I’m not used to this,’ I confided to Ms Hoppy, the dance choreographer. ‘I almost never have time during event rehearsals to have lunch with anyone.’

‘Yeah! I noticed that. What happened?’ she asked.

‘Well… I’ve been banned from entering the main stage area,’ I chuckled. ‘We’re training Jap Girl to helm productions and if I’m around, I get in the way of her learning.’

‘Now who was it who once told me to get out of the way?’ Ms Hoppy giggled. She was referring to a particular talk we both had a few months earlier. Back then, she had already resigned from leading her old dance crew, but found herself needing to step in again and again to ‘help’ as no one seemed able to rise up and lead.

‘What should I do? There doesn’t seem to be anyone around who’s capable of doing the job!’ she’d whined to me.

‘Well, maybe it’s because you’re standing at the door, refusing to leave, and blocking the way for someone new to come in,’ I’d told her then. ‘I know it’s love and concern that makes you want to help them do a good job, but sometimes, you need to let go. Just walk away.’

She took my advice and made a clean break… only to see a new leader rise up a mere few weeks later.

‘Yeah… I am letting go.’ I smiled. ‘But feeling this free after so many weeks of intense preparation just feels alien.’

‘Alien maybe. But good, no?’ Ms Hoppy giggled again. I couldn’t help but agree, as we walked away from the venue to get my laptop. We were going to watch YouTube videos.

*

After a night of laughter, here are some of the videos that I thoroughly enjoyed. Some are just inspiring. Some, hilarious. And others… old, but good. And just in case anyone out there needs a good break, I thought I’d post a few of my favourites for your viewing pleasure.

Drummer At The Wrong Gig

This chap is just skilled to the bone. And you can tell that his performance is well choreographed because damn… he doesn’t miss a beat. Gold jackets, old dudes, an even older song and a passionate drummer who just does it for himself, you’re going to enjoy this because he is enjoying it to the core.

George Mason University’s Green Machine

I dislike school band music. Sorry! But it’s all too noisy and blah for my taste. Watching this school band cover Rage Against The Machine changed my mind about that though. And if school can inspire my future teenage kids to rock the flute like the girl in red… then darn it! I’m signing them up.

PS22 Chorus

I was in the school choir. But shit, it was never this cool. Watch these adorable kids sing their hearts out as they cover Adele’s Rolling In The Deep. I mean, they are seriously digging their repertoire… wish I had their teacher.

11-year old boy covers Lady Gaga

This though, was the performance of the night for me. I was in awe of his voice, his arrangement and how so much talent could be found in someone so young.

*

I go to bed tonight with just one thought:

All it takes to change the course of a person’s future, is that one teacher who inspires because he himself, is inspired.

May we all live lives that inspire too.

th.ink

April 22, 2011 § 4 Comments

‘Do you ever stop thinking?’ I asked Jap Girl & Crazy one day, after a shoot. We were seated in a lovely Japanese restaurant, out little treat after a tiring day.

‘Yeah, all the time,’ Jap Girl replied. ‘Sometimes, I find myself doing it in the middle of a meeting or discussion, and I realize it’s kinda bad because when I start thinking again, I’ve lost my place in whatever has been going on… so I’ve been trying to get disciplined about my habit.’

‘You’re kidding, right?’ I was amazed. ‘How do you not think at all?’

‘It’s easy,’ Crazy said. ‘You just don’t. Your mind is blank. It shuts down, that’s all…’

‘You can’t just stop thinking…’ I shook my head in disbelief. ‘I mean, it’s more a sense of self-awareness, right? Like maybe you aren’t aware that you’re drifting off and thinking about other things like a nice wall, a pretty font, how the lady looks weird…’

‘Well, see… I never thought about that. I just don’t think in those blank spaces.’ Jap Girl looked puzzled. ‘You mean you think all the time? Don’t you ever run out of thoughts? Or get too tired to think anymore?’

‘Well, when I run out of thoughts… I think about why I have no more thoughts. Or that I’m too tired to think, and start to think about why I’m so tired, or how I can be less tired. Or ask myself why I have reached a place where thoughts are no longer pleasant… I have never stopped thinking. They aren’t all serious thoughts!’ I added, seeing their worried faces.

‘They can be random. But I’m aware of what inspired those random ideas…’ I paused. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been in that place where thoughts don’t exist.’

‘I wonder if that’s a good thing or bad…’ Crazy said.

*

If my life was measured by the number of thoughts that cascaded through my mind, I have lived more than 2 months in the past 2 weeks. Staying awake for too many hours left too much time for reflections, assumptions and summaries.

If, however, growth was measured by the number of times my thoughts were corrected, altered and changed (to adapt to a new perception/understanding), then I have sped through a year in 14 days.

And what have I learnt?

  1. Perfection is an illusion, as long as it’s based on man’s performance.
  2. There is always more to meets the eye in any situation. There is always a story behind the actions of every person you meet. And there is always a different way of looking at things.
  3. Value is an intangible quality, too often measured by tangible qualities, which oversimplify its true worth.
  4. Purple cows can only be found in fields where it’s possible to reinvent what people expect.
  5. My position is a role. Not an identity.
  6. Leap, and the net will appear.
  7. Everything. And I mean everything… is temporary. Hold all things with a loose hand.
  8. Real creativity requires significant work.
  9. Love is the ultimate idea generator, the propelling force, the beginning and end of everything.
  10. I need an ‘off’ switch built into my brain.

*

And now, I sleep.

Goodnight world.

*

PS. I don’t think my posts qualify as a post-a-day anymore. More like a post-whenever-possible

now. see the sky.

April 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Thinly stretched over several planes of existence, it was only a matter of time before the snap occurred. It was inevitable really. I knew it was coming, I did my best. I tried everything, explored different methodology, I gave more, studied more, did more, sacrificed more… and honestly, went about doing life backwards.

When the tears finally hit hard, and my self could not take another step… I finally stood still.

‘There’s one last thing you haven’t tried…’ I heard Him whisper.

He was right. Slowly, I took out the heart-shaped box and unfolded the first letter I saw. I began to read – line upon line, promises upon promises – the letters He once wrote to me.

*

‘I struggle and emerge…’

With numerous deadlines looming ahead, it’s a real struggle to rest without guilt. Even when my body crashes in rebellion against late nights and long days, the first thing I do when my eyes open from slumber is to make a coffee, turn on the computer and reply emails.

Today was therefore, a real struggle.

Bleary-eyed with the remnants of sleep, I spent almost 3 hours (on my day off) answering emails and researching facts to substantiate my decisions. It’s a sad day when my coffee and breakfast are both ingested over the keyboard. Once completed, I washed up and the little girl came home. Sleep will have to wait, I told myself as I sat at the dining table and chatted with her about her day. I knew she was missing me terribly…

Two hours later, she was finally under the blankets for a nap, when the doorbell rang and the little boy came home. I repeated the entire routine with him till it was his turn for a nap.

I finally crawled into bed with a sigh, when my phone began beeping with text messages pouring in.

‘This is getting so frustrating!’ I screamed in silence. ‘I give up! I can’t do this anymore… I really need to rest. I’m literally falling apart. Can’t You do something about this?’ The tears were rolling down my face.

Ever since Mother left for Japan, the demands of life doubled, both at home and at work. The care-giver for my handicapped sister had to be replaced, the school-teacher called to highlight some problems with the little boy, the little girl grew emotional… every spare time I have left over from work is spent handling matters at home.

It’s not been easy at all.

And crafting time to relax has been the hardest thing to accomplish on my list. It’s not because I couldn’t craft out time. I could. I just couldn’t do it without feeling guilty when demands surrounded me on all sides.

Lying in bed, unable to sleep, I wept.

‘Are you really giving up?’ the Dream Maker asked.

‘Yes, I am.’ I whispered in reply.

‘Then I can be Your strength,’ He said. ‘Because these demands are not meant for you to meet.’

I scoffed. Easy for you to say, I thought. Who else was going to do it, if not me?

‘I am.’ He said. ‘I am your now, if you let me. I am your rest. I am your strength. I am your solution. Not your tomorrows, not your yesterdays… I am your now.’

I’m not sure when I fell asleep after that, or what transpired while I was at rest, but emerging from that moment, life seemed a little more manageable. Sure, there are deadlines I still need to meet (in fact, after this post, I’m going back to work) but the change wasn’t about the tasks. It went deeper.

It was my perspective.

I could finally see the sky.

‘Living is being happy: seeing, hearing, touching, drinking, eating, urinating, defecating, diving into the water and gazing at the sky, laughing and crying.’

– Milan Kundera

Saturated with the knowledge that the Dream Maker walks alongside me, I shall venture forth. One step at a time. And I will emerge from this journey with a smile.

Because I don’t live for my tomorrows, nor dwell in my regrets.

I live… now.

writing a draft script

April 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

10.30pm

Okay. I’ve procrastinated enough. The family’s asleep and I can start work on a script for submission tomorrow. Except… I don’t quite know where to start. Writing an ‘E Entertainment’ styled video is something new to me (what happened to normal and mundane?) and before I can even begin writing the script, I need to feel the language often used in such programs. Opened up Firefox. Here we go.

11.15pm

Downloading videos off the net for reference. And all of them are bios of either boy bands, rock bands or erm… boy bands. Figured they’d be the juiciest reference. I’m not referring to the men, of course. Just the text! Oooh… but the Backstreet Boys have nice tats. I never knew that! Okay, concentrate. Listening to the voice-over now…

11.30pm

I’m bored. Reading twitter for a bit. Did you know that a woman in Japan was arrested for selling fake natural elixir as a preventative for radiation poisoning? Or that Spike Jonze directed Arcade Fire’s short film? Or that Kitty’s gonna bake Xalegria some scones? Neither did I. Back to work.

11:42pm

Shit. A scary kid’s voice just suddenly blared out at me, asking, ‘Can you guess?’
Forgot to close my browser and it was one of those pop-up ad. My volume was at max level. Shock turning into deep hatred for pop-up ads. Deep breaths. Keep calm. Carry on.

12:11am

Introduction completed. Reading through what I wrote with aim in mind.
Goal: Funny, hilarious script.
Hurdle: I am not funny. No witticisms in sight yet.
Dear God, help me.
Moving on to the second part of story.

12:15am

Received news alert from CNN: Forces loyal to incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo agree to ceasefire.
Waitaminute. Didn’t I just sign a contract that declared me the incumbent? What in the world does that word mean??

Twitter time. Word on the street is an interesting blog made up of interviews with random people.
Oh! And if you like Radiohead, here’s them covering Neil Young’s music.
Sent email to husband who is just in the next room, as we’re discussing iPhone photo apps.
Too lazy to walk over. Besides, I’m doing work.

12:52am

Alright. Finished the second part of the story. On to the finale. Doing faster than I expected because I gave up being funny. Figured I could work on those aspects tomorrow. Tonight, I just need to get the framework out.

1:00am

Crap. Went back to check the notes from our brainstorming session and realized that while I got the gist of the storyline, important elements were left out. I got too caught up in the bio stories I’d been watching. (sigh) Back to the top people.

1:04am

Just received an email from my pregnant colleague, who’s assisting with the production of this video. What’s she doing up so late? Replied her with the message, ‘Babe, go to sleep‘. I think we’re one of the only people I know who constantly tell each other to go home, go to sleep, stop working…

Is that good or bad?

1:11am

Haha! I was right. Colleague just emailed me back to tell me to sleep.

11:32am

Outline of script COMPLETED.
It still needs a lot of work but hey, I did something tonight.
Tomorrow, the finer details & storyboarding. Then it’s on to the shot list & shooting schedule.

But for now, good night world. I’m out.

/regret/

April 4, 2011 § 2 Comments

There once was a girl who thought life would be good. She married a man she loved… and still had a boyfriend on the side. A guy who’d travel the ends of the earth for her – which he did, when she was ‘posted’ overseas for a 2-year contract. What she didn’t know was that she’d end up pregnant, lose her job and find herself saddled with her husband’s medical bills as he was admitted to the hospital for pneumonia.

Life literally fell apart in the span of one week.

And every night, she fell asleep crying.

*

There once was a lady who thought work was meant to be fulfilling. She had been offered several jobs – one with fame, one with traveling opportunities and one within the comfort of her own home. But she either turned them down or left after a year. Nothing satisfied her, till she entered her latest arena. Advertising.

Thrilling, it challenged her, pushed her to the edges… and then the floor beneath her feet fell away.

Her very own boss turned around and embarrassed her before one of her most important clients. Time and time again, he forgot all the promises he’d made. It felt like her own reputation in the industry was in danger of getting marred, not by her commitment or work, but by the man who first employed her.

Disappointed, she looked back at the doors she’d closed and wondered if there was any other path she could walk. It felt like there was no way out.

*

Regret.

Some say the word was coined between 1300-1350, originating from a Middle French term regreter, which is a mix of the Old French re (again and again) and the Germanic greter (greet). In other words, it came from the idea to re-greet, i.e. to welcome again and again… the past?

It does bear some truth, because we only ever feel tremendous remorse, loss, sorrow or dissatisfaction when we look at our history of faults – the common phrase that begins each thought, ‘If only...’

But you can’t drive a car while looking at your rear-view mirror.
And you can’t live today if all you see is yesterday.

*

‘I don’t know how you do it,’ Smiley said to me today. He’d just returned from a trip overseas and we’d finished updating each other with a brief summary of the past two weeks.

‘I don’t know either. I’m just taking it one step at a time,’ I sighed. Yes, I feel tired and worn out. Yes, life can be a serious struggle, too often than I’d like it to be.

‘There has to be reason why you’re facing so much,’ Smiley continued. ‘Maybe it’s because the Dream Maker knows you can do it. He is your supply. Maybe He thinks highly of you… and that at the end of it all, there’s something great to be gained.’

Maybe. But I haven’t even thought about what I’m gaining or learning. I’m just doing my best to keep still, and carry on. It’s going to be a big week several huge weeks ahead but I’m okay. I’ve got the Dream Maker by my side.

He wrote this story, shit, He knows how it ends and dammit, He loves me.
So I’m going to be just fine. And yes, I believe that.
Because I at the start of this year, I remember asking Him to help me become more efficient, to grow wiser, to be deeper in thought and more creative in my solutions. So this just might be my learning plan.

I asked for it.

And for that, I have no regrets.

*

‘God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him.
He rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to His eyes.’

– Psalm 18:20, 24 (MSG)

with friends | shine on

April 3, 2011 § 1 Comment

‘A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.’

– Leonardo Da Vinci

*

I scrolled through the text messages on my phone and pondered a while on the conversation that had just taken place. So many questions, so many statements, so many emotions underlined the simple words exchanged and I couldn’t help it. I needed to do something. Anything… that could possibly help the other person.

Have you ever been in that same place? Where you want to extend a hand but haven’t the faintest clue as to what your extended hand of friendship could possibly offer?

*

I recently found myself on the other side of the extended help.

In the centre of several productions that were beyond what I could cope, I had to pull together a storyboard, a detailed list of shots, shooting schedules and a whole new crew on my own. Then I had to fill in the director role. It was overwhelming. I probably teared once every day in silence, as I sat and stared at my computer screen. The tasks were simply beyond me. So much depended on these videos… too much depended on me.

I’d already asked Mr. Black to help with the edits and he willingly agreed, on top of his own productions. So I knew what was going to happen after. But during? With a heavy sigh and heavier heart, I picked up the phone and texted DigiBoy.

‘Hey… do you think you could help?’

I paused for a few moments before hitting send. My reluctance was largely due to the fact that he was already maxed out with work, had recently gotten married to a really good friend, and rarely had days off to relax. Calling on him was something I’d avoided as much as I could. Until the moment I knew I couldn’t go on.

And when he replied that he’d help, I teared a little again.

I can’t explain what it feels like when a friend puts aside his life to help you get on with yours. And when his wife offered to be on set too… I fumbled with the phone. Where could I start to say thank you?

*

And still the encouragement came pouring in.

Kitty baked some lemon tarts and GuitarMan’s wife bought me a box of macaroons.

‘Hope this cheers you up!’ they both said. And it did.

*

I’d been looking forward to some rest and was ready to work a little on my days off. But what I didn’t anticipate was coming home to a major family ‘situation’ where one of my full-time helpers has to leave with immediate effect. This throws a kink in my work schedule as the replacement will then need to go through several weeks of training (to care for my handicapped sister) and I cannot imagine where that time will come from.

I already have two scripts due this coming week, storyboards to complete, yet more crews to assemble, two videos to edit with Mr. Black and if that’s not enough… Both my son and I came down with the stomach flu today. Throwing up was never fun.

‘Typical story-writing technique’ I said with slight sarcasm to Kitty. ‘Just as the chapter ends, a new twist creeps in at the end and you find yourself reading on.’

‘I’d read that book,’ Kitty quipped in reply. So would I, actually. Just that I can’t as I’m too busy living it.

I was all ready to curl up in bed and whine to my pillow (a pathetic replacement to Mother) when Mrs. Couple texted me.

‘If you need me to come over at times to supervise things at your home, I can. Don’t be shy to impose okay? I’m just a drive away.’

What can I say? I could choose to complain about my work (which by the way, I love) but have decided instead to feel the comfort of my friends. Because in the past few days, I’ve been loved by some of the most amazing people on the face of this earth.

*

Shine on.

That’s what I’d tell the friend I had the earlier conversation with.

Because while it’s true that there are so many genuine factors that give you reason to sink deep in frustration and anger (I know I would if I were in your shoes), there are more reasons to lift your head up and walk proud.

Not for the work that you’ve done in the past – you aren’t defined by old accomplishments.
Not for the truth your life could tell – words are as flimsy as the people who hear or repeat it.
Not for the future you know you can shape – you aren’t the sum of your potential.

Stand tall and unafraid because like the moon, your light is a reflection of a greater power. You are untouchable because no man can rewrite your story – the past, the present, the future. How can they when the lines in your book was written before they were born? When the ink that shaped the words came from His very own veins? When the very idea of you was personally created by the Dream Maker?

No man can pull down what has been placed to shine in the sky.

Shine on.

Where Am I?

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