Feeling the Heat

It’s been sweltering hot lately.

The weather, for one, has been inhumane. I find myself sweating like a pig each time I walk from one place to another, or even just sitting still in my seat, with the windows open. A few of us has been affected by the drowsy spell cast by the humidity in the air. Yes, we have beautiful sunsets, but I prefer the clouds and cool breeze anytime.

Also heating up are our nerves. I think there is something seriously wrong with the way things are run in my course this semester. Because this is actually my last week of school before we enter Study Week, and so far I have completed 2 tests and one project. Guess how many more to go? 2 more tests, 2 more quizzes, 2 more projects. Except for one quiz, everything is due this week.

I have two papers today. Finished one at 8 this morning, and going for another one at 8pm later. When I’ve downed this one, I’m still not halfway there.

Why must they give us our projects and tests so last minute? We’re usually penalized if we submit our work late, can the people in-charge be penalized for handing out our work late too? Sometimes I get the feeling that we’re being stuffed with work so that those people can get their job done and get paid. Yes, I’m ranting. So sue me.

But alas, each time one boggy has been tackled, the feeling of relief is undeniable. We slave ourselves to finish one task, and another and the next. When we look back, we’d actually think, “Wow, did we do all that?”

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.  Plus, I’ve been learning to take power naps.  Awesome stuff, I tell you.  Just 20 minutes and I feel refreshed all over.  If this keeps up, I might just adopt the polyphasic aka Uberman sleep that geniuses like Da Vinci practiced and forgo the regular 8-hour regime entirely!

No, I’m just kidding.  No way I’m spending less time with my bed.  But power naps are really good to just zone off and get the mind rested for awhile.

And guess what, this evening the sky has been showing hints of dark clouds and faraway thunder echoing softly with the cool breeze. I can smell rain. It’s coming. 😉

Icy Irony

We come across ironic conversations all the time, but hardly remember them as soon as they’ve been said and laughed about.  Anyway, I happen to remember one that happened just few minutes ago during dinner – I have nothing against the person who said it, but it’s just such a rare moment where I actually remember the lines.

Just a brief description of the scenario, 8 of us at a cheap-but-awesome Chinese makan place.  And for some reason we were talking about ice cream. (note: This conversation took place in both Mandarin and English…Malaysian style.)

Friend 1: I like Baskin Robbins.

Friend 2: I think Haagen Dazs is better, though.

Me:  I agree, it’s not as sweet and it’s richer.

Friend 1: Yeah but I prefer Baskin Robbins.

Friend 3:  Aiyah, cannot say which is better lah.  Everyone is different.  It depends on the individual.

At this point I was about to agree with him and his un-stereotypical statement until…he continued…

Friend 3:  Old people prefer Haagen Dazs ma…

Me:  Old people?

I wasn’t offended.  Really, I was just confused how my friend could make me change my mind almost instantly. You know, one minute you’re nodding your head and next you go, “Eh?”

Friend 2:  He meant people with more mature taste…

And came the rebuttal.

Friend 3: Ya lah!  Mature means old lah!

=___=”‘

Here’s the thing: My little naive brain usually dissects irony on the spot, out loud.

Me:  But maturity has nothing to do with age…

Friend 2:  Aiyah, never mind lah, never mind lah.

And sometimes I forget not everyone can take it because one thing led to another and I think my friend got a bit offended.  To that friend of mine, I really didn’t mean to offend you.  Luckily I managed to smack my ego hard and let him have the last word because I realize nothing good can come out of arguing, especially when people’s minds are adamant on being right most of the time.  Someone’s gotta give in or else it won’t end, or worse things could happen.

Even if it’s just about ice cream.


I Miss My Camera

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I took this with my 2-mp camera on my cellphone.  It’s something I used to do before I got myself one decent camera.

And lately, I’ve been so bogged down with work, telling stories in words seems like a chore nowadays.  I never thought I’d be tired of churning text and words, but I am.  Perhaps, some might say that I’m not a real writer after all – a wannabe, or simply a bored young adult.  Maybe they’re right.

My camera’s in KL right now, it was supposed to be sent for a mini check-up because of one problematic button, but it has stayed there for months now.  I haven’t had a chance to use it all semester, and now, especially when I need one shot to paint that thousand words, I really miss it.  I’ve borrowed decent cameras from my friends, and though mine is nothing compared to theirs – they still cannot provide that sense of comfort that I have when I’m using mine.  Like seasoned, worn out shoes.

I’m tired of digging my old photo archives, or put up noisy, pixelated shots.

There has been so many great sunsets lately, but I can’t make them last.

THREE: Will You Visit Me?

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Blood and gore was an everyday scenario for Sue.  Since the day she decided that she would dissect people’s mouth and teeth for a living she had seen all kinds of cases, all kinds of patients. From the easy going patients who would agree to whatever the doctor suggests to those difficult ones – Sue found her powers of persuasion increase day after day.  Sometimes, losing her patience works too.

But nothing prepared her for Kar Mun, a 17-year old with a severe injury at the jaw.

The injury was nothing new, as Sue calmly had her transferred to the plastic surgery department to get the damage fixed.  For Kar Mun, however, it was one scary endeavor.  Anybody who has met Sue would agree that she radiates a sense of warmth and friendliness, as a dentist or just an ordinary person.  Same went for Kar Mun, who soon found a friend in Sue and started to confide her true feelings.

A few days before the surgery, she gave Sue a call.  A little surprised, Sue asked her young friend how she was feeling.

“I’m in pain.  And I’m very scared.”

Sue felt a lump in her throat, even though she was confused how she got so attached to a patient.  She started playing the role of a caring doctor and gave her a few words of comfort and advice to help her through the pain, at the same time silently wishing she could take the pain away.  It was quite a one-sided conversation, mostly because Kar Mun couldn’t talk much without grimacing in pain her jaw was causing her.  When Sue finished talking, Kar Mun softly asked,

“Will you come and visit me?”

Sue’s heart sank when she heard those words.  The thought of visiting Kar Mun did not occur to her, and it was against a doctor’s code to have a personal relationship with a patient.  If she gave in to her request, it would be her third time breaking the rules.  And if she kept this up, she could be in real trouble.

“Sure,” was all Sue could say.  After all, she was her patient – it would be okay to check up on her.

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Sue did not know what to expect behind those doors.  She has had her fair share of observing patients in recovery, but she had no idea what was in store when she stepped into Kar Mun’s room.  Her head was tilted to the uninjured side, to allow her wound to heal, so she could not see Sue enter her room.  Sue walked over to the side Kar Mun was facing, and the moment the 17-year old saw her dentist, she broke into tears.

Sue took her hand, some rules are meant to be broken.

Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
-“Mighty to Save”, Hillsong

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Author’s thoughts:

Sue (not her real name), is someone whom I’ve just befriended not too long ago.  She shared this story with me and though it was short and lack details, I knew I had to jot this down.

I live in a world where God exists.  A place where some people are searching for that higher power, some have already found it, while others remain in darkness.  Some have already given up, and they continue to live with the notion that everything that has happened or remains to be seen are entirely consequences of what they have done or are about to do.

I live, in a world where people search for hope within others.  When others find that in me, little do they know that I find it in them too.  Because when I was lost, I was found.


“Shhh… They’re Sleeping.”

About 15 years ago…(gosh, so long already)…

“Mommy, look at this leaf!  It’s so pretty!”  The butterly-shaped leaves had always fascinated me, and they were abundant at the playground outside the apartment.  Sometimes I would pick up the dried ones that had fallen on the ground, but the green, fresh ones that are still attached have always looked so much nicer.

“Don’t pluck it!  It’s already late, the plants are already sleeping.  If you pluck the leaf, you’re going to wake them up.”  That was what my mom would always say.  Apparently, it only happens in the evenings.  That’s “bedtime” for the plants.  And I’ve always disliked anyone waking me up prematurely, so I guessed plants shared the same sentiments too.  So I’d let go of the leaf, give it a soft pat, as if saying ‘good night’ to it.

“Okay, it’s time to go home now.”

“But mommy, 5 more minutes?”

That was my most popular phrase.  Be it while I’m sleeping, playing, reading, anything at all.  I’ve always wanted more time.  My 5 minutes usually equaled to half an hour.

There was no specific time as to when ‘evening’ really was.  I didn’t know if it started at 5pm, or 7pm, or later.  But I knew when afternoon started.  Right at 12 pm.  And morning was obviously before that.  So I’d resume my little hobby in collecting leaves in the morning, at the same time fascinated by the morning dew drops on the water-proof surface.

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About 10 years later…(when hormones start dancing)…

The one benificial thing about learning Science in school is that you get to bust myths.  At night, leaves aren’t actually asleep.  Because there’s no sun, photosynthesis (a process where plants use sunlight to make food) does not occur, so some leaves actually “close up” to prevent loss of moisture into the air.  I guess the more correct term would be “chilling”, which means they are probably watching TV or something.

I walked pass a tree with the same butterfly-shaped leaves, and even though I knew the truth, I left it alone.  Somewhere inside of me wanted to preserve that little habit – maybe it’s because I loved those times when mom would come to the playground to take me home.

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Two days ago…

“Eh Vern!  You see!  The leaves are closed!  Yer!  Why like that wan?”

Mildred and I were walking home from dinner, and she couldn’t help but observe the trees around us.  I looked at them and saw the butterfly-shaped leaves closed and limped.  I couldn’t help but smile to myself.

“They’re sleeping, that’s why.”

Her eyes widened like a child who has just discovered something new.  She started examining every tree.

“Wah! Really?  I didn’t know that!  So they close when they sleep?”

I chuckled, “Yeah.  Happens everyday.  You’ve never seen it happen before?  So don’t pluck them okay, or else you’ll be disturbing them.”

“Oh is it??  I’ve never noticed it before!  So cannot pluck them hah?”  She was getting so excited it amused me.

I paused.  Eventually I asked, “You believe hah?”

More pauses.  And then…

“YEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!! You bluff me!!!”

I was laughing so loud I think people staying in the area heard me.  But Mildred wasn’t too keen on dropping the whole “sleeping” theory.

So we tested it out.

The two of us chose a tree, and then I started jumping like a mad person to hit one of the leaves in order to “wake them up”.  Which, of course, didn’t happen.

“You don’t remember your biology, do you?  There’s a reason why they close.”

“YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRR!!!!!!! I dowan friend you liau.  I hate biology.”

After a few “YER’s” and childhish comments, we both laughed it off and headed back to our rooms.

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Until today, I still don’t pluck leaves in the evening, or at night.

Shhh… they’re sleeping.

TWO: I Dare Me

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Danny had never felt so alone in a crowd.  Everyone seemed to have something to say, something to be interested in.  So did he, except that nobody would listen or care.  They would speak about the latest gossips, movies, TV series, mainstream music and all other things that he didn’t know much about.  It’s not like he was interested anyway.  And when others started speaking a language other than English, Danny was lost.

He never fit in.

But Danny has his own world.  And in that world, he was good at everything.  And by everything, it refers to things that he likes, or loves.  He could strum the best tunes out of an ordinary guitar, serenade hearts with his deep, haunting voice and a few other talents not many people knew about.  He was a hero in that world.

He wanted to be somebody out there too.  If only they could just see him.

“I heard you play the guitar really well.”

That voice almost made his wish come true.  He turned around and saw a familiar face, one that he has always seen in school but never had the chance to know.  Ironically, they were coursemates.  She was a tad shorter than him, wore black nail polish and had a hoodie on.  Danny couldn’t make out if she was a goth or a punk or if she was just confused.  He chose confused.

“I’m Mia.”

Mia the emokid with an unusual nice name, he thought.  Grasping it was his cue to say something, he asked, “Hi, I’m Danny.  How did you know I play the guitar?”

Mia hopped on the stool next to him, popped open a bottle of beer and took a sip.  “People talk.”

They talked about him? It was hard to believe that he was actually noticed in school.

“I know, hard to believe they’d talk about a kid like you right?  Well, you play in church, so I guess some of your church friends must have said a thing or two.”  Mia offered her bottle to Danny to which he politely raised his hand to decline.

“Uh, right,” was all he muttered.

“Are you socially inept or are you just shy?”  At that moment, Danny didn’t know how to respond.  How do you choose both for a question like this?

“This really isn’t my kind of crowd.”  Danny shrugged, hoping the topic would divert in the next second.

“What’s your kind of crowd?  Sunday churchgoers, hypocritical Godly people?  Can I hear an “Amen”? ”  Mia was really pushing the limit – and he didn’t like it at all.  But he didn’t tell her.  He didn’t really know what to say.  Mia continued, “Okay, I lied.  I didn’t hear about you from people.  I’ve been to your church before and I know what you can do.  And you were totally a different person over there.  You spoke out loud, made fun of people, you know, the entertainer.  But you’ve been my coursemate for almost 2 years now and you’ve never had more than a handful of friends.  What’s the deal?  We’re not good or holy enough for you or something?”

It’s not the church, he wanted to say so badly.

“Shut it, Mia.”  a voice said from behind.  It was Sam.

“Sam, I can handle this,” he softly protested.

“I wasn’t defending you, Dan.  I just don’t like the way she speaks about me.  I go to the same church as you too, remember?”  Sam was annoyed at both Mia and Dan – one for provoking the other, and the other for not taking a stand.  If they were a married couple, they would be a match made in heaven.  “Listen, the world does not revolve around you.  What you do, or do not do, affects others.  I know this isn’t your scene, but that doesn’t mean you have to be drowned in it.  And I’m not asking you to blend in.  But perhaps you should just try stepping up.  Your cheese has been moved – but that doesn’t mean you have to starve.”  Sam grabbed Mia’s bottle and walked away.

********************************************

“They told me I had to pay a sum of money for breach of contract.  But I saw it coming anyway, just that the amount can be a little painful.”  Jenna sounded stressed out, but slightly relieved at the same time.

“Maybe they’d reconsider a partial waiver, or work something out.”  Sam threw Mia’s bottle into the dustbin and switched the phone to her right ear. “So what are your plans now?”

That question made Jenna’s heart skip a beat, in a good way.  She suddenly realized that the resignation letter was in a way, the ticket to accomplish unfinished dreams.  When she was working, it hardly dawned upon her that she would ever get out of the life she was living.

“I’ve been thinking about going back to study.  I’ve always been interested in sound engineering.  Did some homework online and saw some great offers.  But…”

“But?”

“…at the same time I’ve always wanted to go somewhere else to see the world a bit.  Somewhere like New Zealand.”

Sam chuckled, “Whoa, slow down girl.  I asked plan, not plans.  Anyway, do you want to go to NZ to see the world, or see the place where they shot Lord of The Rings, like you’ve always wanted to?”

Jenna smiled, “Both.  My sis has been there, I don’t see why I shouldn’t try it.”

“One big step after another.  I’m beginning to wonder what sort of conversation you had with God the other night.”

Jenna opened the refrigerator door to see if she could get something to nibble on.  “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.  The timing just wasn’t right.  But soon I’ll be free from this job and I’ll have my options again.”

“Looks like someone’s taking a stand,” Sam replied.

“Well, it’s not easy…” Sam interrupted her and said, “No wait.  I meant someone else.  Sorry, I’ll call you back?”

“It’s okay, I’m tired and I want to go to bed anyway.  Talk tomorrow?”  Sam heard a soft yawn at the other end of the line.  “Alright.  Nights.”

Sam headed back into the hall and saw a crowd gathered around the raised platform where unplugged gigs are held.  They weren’t cheering, nor jumping or throwing insults.  The crowd was just plain silent.  All that was audible was sweet, acoustic music coming from a guitar, and lyrics sung by… Danny.

Mia stood next to Sam, and said softly, “I gave him a guitar.  The rest was him.  He’s better than I remembered.”

It was pure 5-minutes of Danny.  No one else, nothing else.  When he hit the last note, there was a pause.  Mia removed her hoodie and led the thunderous applause.  And for the first time, Danny saw her smiled.  He wasn’t sure what he accomplished, but as he headed off the stage, Mia asked him, “What got into you, Danny boy?  That was amazing!”

Danny stared at her and replied, “The moment you sat on that stool next to me, there was “CHALLENGE” written all over your face.  I did what you wanted me to do.  I dared me.”

Their conversation was cut short when people began to approach him and commented about his performance.

Danny dared himself to step out of his shell to show the world what he’s got.  It was sweet victory.

On another side of the world, someone has never felt happier about a resignation.

Hello World.

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Every morning, do you decide which side of the bed you’d want to wake up from?  Would it be the one that contains the remnants of yesterday, the one you sighed about before you go to sleep at night, or would it be that unknown side that requires the courageous part of you?

As a student (and a very,very young adult), there are days when I want to stay right in bed and sleep the day away.  The thought of early morning classes, rushing deadlines, and all the quirks life never cease to surprise usually convince me that it’s safer under the blanket.  It’s usually about continuing where I have left off the day before – the mistakes I’ve made, unfinished homework, and the little bit of good left that I want to preserve as long as I can, you know, the happy things.

Not all days are like that.  You know those times when you’ve dreamed of very exciting things the night before just to wake up forgetting every single detail even though your heart was beating fast and you’re all hyped up for a reason you totally cannot remember?   Some days are like that.  When matters that have happened yesterday are left nothing but a blur.   Good things or bad things the same.  Feeling a bit empty yet motivated at the same time, I look forward to the next 24 hours with no expectations.  I finish one task after another with no complaints, and try to slot in something exciting and fun in between whenever possible.

I’ve been trying to practice a little something a friend recommended me to do.  Before bedtime, I think of a list of things to be grateful for the day.  From small things like a good lunch to big things like great weather and friends, this little habit eventually leads me to look forward to all the good things everyday – to a point where I’m able to see past the unfortunate events and unravel the blessings in disguise.

Of course, it’s easier said than done.  It’s only human to feel, sad or happy.  Sometimes life throws its smelliest crap at us and we’re all afraid to face the day again.  There are days when we feel defeated, weak, and it seems almost impossible for us to get that one win we are desperate for.  And mind you, negative vibes are as contagious as positive, cheery ones.  But that’s nothing to feel guilty about.  It’s just like flu, but only those who aren’t afraid of your germs, and know that they’re strong enough for you will stick around to make sure you’re okay.

We have to remember though, flu goes away eventually. That’s when we clear the mucus infected tissues, hankies, change a new spread, throw the blanket into the washing machine, smile to ourselves and say, “It’s going to be a good day.”

I have a test tomorrow, and for the few weeks to come leading to my exam finals. Projects have just come in, more assignments, and like what my friends would say, it’s that time of the semester again. And then, the holidays. The difference between today and my holidays are just the things I have to and want to do. Still 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, unpredictable weather (literally and figuratively speaking) and a new multiple choice evaluation sheet on the same question, “Is this a good day?”

Everyday, my friend, is a choice for the brave.

Have a great week ahead.  It’s possible.