Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Day 14

Aaaand it's back to work tomorrow, folks.

I like the idea of working again. The past 14 days have been great for resting, but I miss the routine. I do! I'm amazed, myself. Bums do turn!

Highlights of this break:
  • The Amazing Flying Mua Chee of Ipoh
  • My cousin's wedding (OST featuring Kung Fu Fighting not for sale)
  • Penang gluttony, albeit without banana sesame pancakes
  • Attending prayer meeting for the first time in more than a year
  • Long, uninterrupted quiet times and journalling sessions
  • Room Furniture Rearranging, Part I
  • My 3 great sticker finds
  • Breakfast with the family without feeling I have to rush somewhere
  • Shiny, happy Spunky
Life is good. Thank you, God.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Overdoing, underbeing

"Why exercise? Why diet? Lose weight the easy way!" yells a newspaper advertisement.

"Gain back your initial investment and more in just 7 days! No charts to read, no more research!" reads a leaflet someone stuffed in my mailbox (apparently, they
really wanted me to attend this seminar, because there were five of them in there).

Clearly, in order for the people in so many industries to offer shortcuts and easy ways to a better life, there must be a demand for them.

It's true that as life gets busier, conveniences that get the job done quickly are welcome indeed to every weary soul who stumbles upon them.

I guess I don't have much of an issue with the easy way out; I'd just like to know why we're so addicted to it.

What's wrong with exercise and dieting (healthily)? If you truly want to make money through investment, isn't it wisest to put some sweat and grey cells into it rather than trusting a method that's helped someone else make his millions? How do you know
you're not just another source of income for his well-lined pockets?

"But I have so little time to do all I want to do," says the beleaguered urbanite. That's true. Unfortunately, time is one thing we just can't get more of, regardless of our need. But why do we feel we have to do so much that even when we can't achieve it all the traditional, elbow-grease way, we have to find a shortcut? Why do people stretch themselves beyond capacity in order to do and achieve what they probably don't have to anyway? It's
cliché but true: We're human beings, not doings. When was the last time you sat down idly without a book to read, exercises to do, or a TV/CD player bleating at you in the background, and just enjoyed being?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

No swearing please, I'm human

In the old days, no man would dream of swearing in the presence of a lady.

It was assumed that no lady would even know of any swear words, let alone use them.

These days, it seems I can't have a simple dinner in a food court, watch a movie or listen to the radio without having my ears battered by a steady flow of profanity.

The other night, I almost got indigestion from having to listen to several rap artistes tell me explicitly how they felt about various issues. Interestingly, though the issues varied, the cuss words didn't. Not much, anyway.

The last time I watched a movie, it was an animated feature. I guess that's what made parents assume it was ideal viewing for their kids, because the cinema was packed with under-12s. I wondered if the parents in there cringed as I did at the references to bodily functions and "watered-down" euphemisms for cruder swear words that some thoughtful scriptwriter must have put in for the sake of the child-safe ratings.

Some people tell me I'm too sensitive, even judgemental. Am I being hypersensitive by trying to practice discretion over what I hear? If I don't want this kind of language coming out of me, I'd better start with getting as little of it as possible to enter my mind, hadn't I?

As for the "judgemental" tag, please. I have nothing against the people who swear. It's just their language I have a problem with.

I'm sure some people can't understand why I get hot and bothered over a small thing like language. Aren't things like violence, stealing and prejudice worse? Sure they are, I just haven't written about them yet!

I've heard many people say they want to live a life with meaning and leave something good behind. I think the quality of our lives depends a lot on the words we speak and hear.

If you're someone for whom "strong language" equals saying "Oh, my!" when something shocking happens, yay! And if the bulk of your vocabulary consists of words that you wouldn't say in front of your grandmother, religious leader, three-year-old niece or primary school discipline master, how about an overhaul?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Day 2

5.15ish: Toss and turn in bed, unintentionally pull light cord and cause it to fall on its switch and switch on

Two seconds later: Sit up in bed wondering how on earth I ended up outdoors at noon

Another 2 seconds later: Realise it's not outdoors, it's a long way from noon, and I am now wide awake

5 minutes later: Get SMS from friend saying something to the effect of, "I don't know why but I'm suddenly wide awake, and look at the time!"

10 minutes later: Give up on going back to sleep and decide to drive to nearby park to enjoy quiet time at sunrise

20 minutes later: Decide, since I am officially Free with Nowhere Else to Go Post-Quiet Time, to do something a little different. Head for National Monument instead.

10 minutes later: Spend peaceful 35 minutes enjoying birdsong and frog croaks in Lake Gardens.

35 minutes later: Head home for much-needed sleep.

Reminder of freedom
I don't think anyone could call me patriotic (and most people call me Ren, anyway) but seeing the monument reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for. Sure, life here isn't perfect, but neither is life anywhere on Earth. As I live my life the best I can, I hope I can make some small but significant difference that will prove those long-lost lives will not have been given in vain.

An old man stood
My mind just replayed this image of Ah Koong, my nanny's father-in-law, standing at attention every evening when Negaraku played on the TV at 5.00 pm. When I first began to notice him doing that, I was about 3 or 4, and I remember thinking it was pretty funny that he would bother to stand when no one was watching. I was told it was because he had experienced the hardships of war and Emergency, and he appreciated the freedom he could now enjoy.

We're built such that we find it hard to appreciate something unless we know how miserable life is without it. Now, about 20 years later, I am beginning to appreciate what it was that brought an old gentleman to his feet at 5.00 every day, whether or not anyone else was there. Not because I've tasted war and physical oppression, but because I know I'm living in freedom now.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Day 1 of 14-day inter-job break

This seems like a good time to do one of those "Oh I'm so efficient, this is all the stuff I've done already" posts. Naturally, since this is me, "stuff" isn't a clear-cut matter of writing down things to do and doing them. Somehow, things just have to get interesting.

Meals eaten: Two. Ish.

Snacks: Black pepper "Water Crackers". They're so dry, I wonder why they're called Water Crackers. Maybe because that's what you most need immediately after you eat them.

Injuries: Four. Strained left jaw muscle, discovered while brushing teeth in the morning; three swollen and soon to be colourful bruises on right thigh from multiple encounters with left foot corner post of four-poster bed.

Tasks completed: Two and a half. Got sneakers repaired; dropped pay cheque in machine; partially completed alteration of evening gown for Sunday's dinner. Stopped work on gown when realised that stitches being removed are part of original gown tailoring and not prior alterations.

Urgent task to complete tomorrow: Repair evening gown, making it look as if original stitches were never touched.

Object lesson in dryness

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