Sunday, April 29, 2007

Postcards from Interzone

The past four days have been a tempest of utter abandonment, impetuous decisions and broken rules.

And just when I had a routine and things were picking up a drumbeat and pace, and when I had forgotten the vulnerability that comes with have any sort of emotions at all. Outrageous fortune, indeed.

But all the rules I broke were my own, and if I wrote them I suppose I can change them. There is one last rule that remains intact - and by virtue of the fact that it is the sole remaining rule - it is also the sum of all I have ever believed in, distilled to to barest essense and if I were to lose this, I may lose everything.

I am exhausted with my return to reality.

What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures with themselves destroy:
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament;
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident.
This world is not for aye, nor 'tis not strange
That even our loves should with our fortunes change;
For 'tis a question left us yet to prove,
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.

- Hamlet, Act III, Sc II

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How cute is it that I watch Ian Wright wax lyrical over Vienna on cable, and then come in and tune in to the internet radio and Falco's Vienna Calling starts playing!

How cute, how cute.

I don't even know Falco. I just know that happy 80s music makes me incredibly happy.

Why don't we steal away/why don't we steal away/into the night.

La la la.

Bike lesson on Friday!

That rare and elusive night slot. I had hesitated quite a bit at the booth because I wasn't sure if I would have plans but well. This is all connected to my 'say yes then see how later' attitude.

Nothing to write about. Work going on ok. Many late night this week because the photo essay is on Singapore in the wee hours of the morning. As for today - finishing up one more so that I can clear myself to concentrate on the photos for the rest of the week.

And I realised that I do enjoy writing. Just spend too much time collecting data and the writing process goes so fast I can hardly savour it.

Ok back to coffee and work.

3.30am Update : Can I just say that making international calls to interview people thrills me to death?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Last night I dreamt (yes I do that a lot) I was at a dinner gathering with pre-arranged seating.

There were little white cards to tell you where you were supposed to sit.

Slightly distracted by making small talk as I went from table to table, I somehow couldn't seem to find out where my place was even though there were plenty of empty seats and unclaimed white cards left.

As I stood milling around, chatting to someone, a host of sorts came up to ask me why I was not yet seated.

I told him I couldn't find my card, and I didn't know where to go.

His face widened into an expression of friendly incredulity, turned on his polished black heel and swept his arms in a flourish towards the empty seat nearest to us.

"Its right there!"

How could I have missed it? I walked over, and on printed on the little card sitting in the middle of my plate was 'Photographer'.

"Oh. I guess that must be me."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I bumped into him a few months ago when we both took the same lift home late at night. I remember thinking it had been years since I last met him, and we exchanged pleasantries and he said he had been overseas helping out his brother's business. It was very successful and doing well, he said. I was still in ST then, and had to quickly explain why I had a camera slung across my shoulder.

The same thing happened again tonight. I recognised his shape as I approached the lift, and smiled as he turned around and recognised me.

"Where's your camera?"

More small talk as the lift chugged along slowly. It turns out he's in real estate now.

"Here take my namecards and give them out."

"Ok I'll call you if I ever have to interview a real estate agent."

He handed me too many, and I used my foot to keep the lift door open and tried to return some.

"Ha, its fine, I've got thousands of these."

Was it really more than ten years ago when we were friends? Sitting next to each other on the around the green table in our chinese tuition teacher's house, egging each other to slack off? A decade since we took turns to lie on the couch and rest as the other was having 听写?

We used to race downstairs after tuition, to see if the lift could beat a human sprinting down 13 flights of stairs at breakneck speed. As far as I recall, it never could.

I can't remember why we had classes together. Maybe the timings was mixed up. It didn't matter since we were the same age and learning the same things.

There was an incident when we were hanging out at the staircase metres away from my flat and I fell on the stairs and hit my ribs on the edge of the steps. I was in so much pain I begged him to call the ambulance, but he just looked slightly shocked and didn't. I think I was pissed off. But the pain subsided and so did my anger.

I don't remember talking to him much after that period. We grew up I suppose, that awkward secondary school phase when you didn't smile unless yhou had to.

Well, not until tonight anyway. I thought it was nice. I liked the idea of interviewing my neighbours.

I reached home and gave his namecards to my Mom.

She took one look and raised an eyebrow.

"Oh so he's released already?"

"Released? From where?"

So it was all a lie.

When I throwing waterbombs and living out the next awkward phase of my life in JC he was robbing and molesting women in my neighbourhood. He was convicted, dealt a jail sentence too painful to consider for someone at that age and a horrifying number of cane strokes.

I dug it all up online and read the details in disbelief. It wasn't just petty theft. It was violent and horrific. He attacked one woman in the lift, led her to a staircase landing, bound, gagged, stripped and molested her.

His namecards are still stacked on my desk in front of me.

Its still the same face that sat across from me as we read aloud dizzying chinese characters in a small HDB apartment.

So as I had my first boyfriend, got drunk in clubs, contemplated which career I'd go into, he was sitting in a jail cell waiting to be released on good behaviour. I can only try to imagine what it is like to have lost all those years.

Our lives ran parallel once. Where did it all go wrong?

I don't know how I'll react if we meet in the lift again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fortune's Fools

In a rather macabre display of irony, I flipped my Onion Day-To-Day Calendar to read this:


Victims Sought In Next Week's Shooting

CHARLOTTE, NC—In an extremely brief press conference on the steps of City Hall, area psychopath Roland Walling, 46, announced Monday that he is on the lookout for potential victims in the unprovoked shootout that he expects will leave at least three dead and up to 10 wounded next Tuesday.

"I'm asking for the community's help in piecing together the details of Tuesday's pointless, bloody attack," Walling said. "There's no clear motivation for my horrendous act, so I'm having a good deal of difficulty developing a coherent plan of action."

While many details of the grisly shooting are still unknown, Walling said he will most likely walk into the post office on Tryon Street shortly after noon, draw a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun from beneath his jacket, and begin shooting at random.

"Right now, the community's involvement is essential," Walling said. "I have no solid leads for potential victims, so please contact me immediately if you can be a target for my insane outburst of rage, or if you know someone who might be willing to be shot."

Added Walling: "I repeat—anyone who can be in the vicinity of the Tryon Street post office between 12:15 and 12:18, please come forward."

Walling urged victims to call him at 659-4066, visit him at his dilapidated mobile home in Sugar Hill Park, or "just swing by the post office Tuesday." He added that volunteers who wish to remain anonymous should remove all identification from their pockets and destroy their dental records before approaching the scene of the forthcoming crime.

Homicide detective Ryan Fowles of the Charlotte Police Department expects to be the first at the scene.

"It sounds like it will be like nothing I'll have ever seen in my 20 years in law enforcement," Fowles said. "It's going to be hard on all of us, largely because there will be no good reason why this will have had to have happened."

In spite of the inevitable confusion that will attend this sort of unimaginable tragedy, emergency response teams say they will do everything they can when the time comes.

"Next week's tragedy will no doubt remind me why I took this job," said Memorial Hospital EMT Kim Paulkins. "There will be no way we could have been prepared for it, but the important thing is that we all act professionally and do our jobs when the unthinkable happens. I'll just wish that, if someone has to die, I could have done something to have saved him or her. I'll just have to tell myself next week that I did everything I could."

Fowles said the families of those involved will be notified as soon as the victims are shot. Nonetheless, many potential victims have been reluctant to step forward and help the gunman.

"I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm getting involved in this upcoming shootout," said Mindy Grant, who lives next door to the post office. "That crazy man will just have to find someone else to kill. No, thank you. I know better."

Beth Kammerman, who has worked at the Tryon Street post office for 11 years, will leave a husband and two daughters behind if she is hit by one of Walling's bullets.

"I'm sure I won't be able to believe the things I see," Kammerman said. "I'll have to ask myself, 'Why did God allow this to happen?' Especially if there's children, who won't have done nothing to nobody."

Sidney Crawson said next week's shooting is exactly the kind of thing she has warned her fellow residents about.

"Everyone will say, 'It was so sudden, it came out of nowhere,'" Crawson said. "The authorities should be able to see this coming, if you ask me. I'll have some hard questions to ask people next week, believe me. I just hope I'm lucky enough to be alive to say this after the fact."

Contacted at his home, Walling said he expects to be wounded by a shot fired by either a gun-carrying postal employee or an off-duty cop, but he believes he will manage to escape from the scene of the crime in a late-model Honda.


Walked over to Plaza Sing to indulge in some ayam panggang from that ridiculously popular Indonesian BBQ stall. Such a foolproof formula - grilled/fried stuff with good gravy.

And then there was some Carrefour clearance sale which got me slightly excited because nothing beats cheap retail therapy.

Amidst the books and household products, I walked past three guys in office attire carefully inspecting toy action figures. It made me smile slightly, how sometimes we just don't grow up. I admit I felt slight disdain, and was contemplating how unnecessary negative feelings were in this context when I strolled past the girls' toy section and was forced to stop to look at a careless display of My Little Pony figurines.

I talked myself out of buying one, and maybe I shouldn't have, just to teach me a lesson for snickering at people that were same as me. I can't remember where my old ones went to, nor can I remember the last time I saw them or I watched the cartoon. No matter, it was just so pretty. But I've enough clutter to deal with already.

And then as I reached my block, I could hear the shouts even with my earphones plugged in. A Malay couple arguing, well the guy was doing most of the shouting anyway. The girl started to walk quickly away only to have her arm grabbed by the guy and was forcefully swung back to her starting position.

Some old man on a bicycle was a few meters away watching the entire scene. I immediately labelled him as one of those voyeuristic kaypohs and I tried my best to turn my back on the scandal to walk home.

Then the shoutings escalated, and the guy smashed his handphone on the ground, all the while gesticulating violently at the girl. There was some vague recollection of how D similarly smashed his crash cymbal in some random carpark and I shuddered. Cymbals make more noise than handphones. The old man didn't move.

And as the shoutings continued, the guy moved to stand in front of the girl, towering over her. At this point, the old man got off his bicycle and went to intervene, keeping his body between the two lovers. The girl kept her head down, shrunk into as small a ball as she could muster and hid behind the old man as her boyfriend continued to yell. I can't understand Malay so I can't tell you what was said.

And it amazed me, how I mistook concern for voyeurism, how I mistook abuse for a couple's private business, how I mistook my apathy for civilised politeness.


(I saw this off The Dudes' blog and I think this is the most awesome thing to come out of Talking Cock EVER.)

I took me a while to get it, but when I finally did, I reallly really really got it man.


I keep coming back to add on as I remember stuff I wanted to note down.

Masochist hour has begun. Bring on the coffee and the 80s music that will make me last the night!

I've had several nightmare about the deaths of my cats. Usually involving them leaping to their deaths, a reflection of my paranoia since we live on the 9th floor.

I had another a few days ago, by far the worst but I've forgotten most of it, so yay for you. Someone once said, "Is there anything more boring than listening to someone else recount their dreams?" Probably not, although some life stories comes pretty close.

Anyway, I dreamt I was in an India-esque train station. Terrible crowds. Waiting for the train with my cats on board to pull in. They were supposed to be caged, but someone (I think my Dad) let them out thinking it'd be fine since they were in an enclosed space.

When the train came to a stop, someone went to clear out the garbage.

This is where it gets all fuzzy. All I can remember is that someone grabbing my cats one after another, smashing their heads in and flinging them two storeys down.

I'd seen someone do the same to rats once, and while I felt pretty horrible then this one really sent me over the edge.

So there was a lot of yelling and screaming and I beat up someone who I felt was responsible, can't remember who.

Ran to their limp bodies. Picked them up and put them in a tray of sorts and ran to an animal hospital. A lot of pitiful mewing and me worrying I was breaking more bones by moving them.

On hindsight, its a bit strange they weren't dead already.

I think my alarm clock deprived me of an ending to this one.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Taking a midday break (is it just me or is the fucking weather fucking annoying) and I surfed on over to the Miss Singapore Universe 2007 site to take a look at our bevy of beauties. Even my mom, who has a PhD in SeeingTheBestOfPeople couldn't help but wrinkle up her face in horror when she watched them on TV.

It was funny, that Miss Christabel 'We Are Blessed to Bless' Campbell said she wanted to be a journalist to, "report on the kind of news that interests me most". Yeah, you, and every journalism-inclined person I know.

And if I have to listen to Peggy Chang tell us how we should "Leave as if you'll die today" I really just might.

My colleague said that procrastination is a manifestation of insecurity. I think he's so smart its irritating.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

这个是好的 lor

That's the catchphrase going around in office. I find uttering it gives me a strange sense of comfort. Compensation for my lack of Chinese roots? Whatever.

Bike Lesson Number Four Update:

Today's session proved particularly frustrating. How am I expected to demonstrate my ability to switch gears when I've to stop for stupid cars every 10 meters or so? I feel beginnings of road rage.

On the way back, I struck up a conversation with a dude that had helped me during an embarrassing moment on the circuit when my bike stalled.

I've no way of knowing if he was being genuine or being a bastard like those you see in the movies when the cute quarterback asks out the school's misfit just so he and his frat brothers can laugh at her. So I sidestepped the high-school-esque requests for MSN and handphone numbers, all the while contemplating how stupidly ironic I was getting attention when I felt extremely unkempt with my greasy hair sans makeup. And then he guessed that I was probably 18 or 19, and it became quite clear that he has poorly developed visual perception.

I've been addicted to I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER? after being introduced to it on Rich's Fourfour. If you aren't already reading Fourfour, I've got nothing to say to you. Because seriously, 那个是好的lor.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Ok indulge me as I relay this little tale of how I indulged in the sin of ultimate girlishness by squealing and running down stairs to try and catch up with Alina (see photo of beautiful girl below) when I realised she had stopped by for casting not knowing it was my office.

I am so fond of those girls. I like them because they are nice. And sincere. And just generally very pleasant human beings to be around.

Of course, if I were to be perfectly, painfully, bluntly honest with myself, I like them because they like me - and that's the shallow and highly pleasurable feeling of illusory self-validation you get when a couple of beautiful women treat you as an equal. Are these bastions of glamour not ashamed to be seen walking down the street with someone who obviously missed out on Fashion 101? Surely I must be doing something right!

Ministerial pay hikes. Discussed to death and I still have no opinion on it, other than obvious emotional responses. But I calculated: It'll cost Singapore's 4.4 million people S$0.70 cents each a year to pay our Prime Minister.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Long weekends never go as planned. Generally there's a lot more sleeping and slacking than desired. My body's capacity for sleep sometimes surprises even myself. Figure this - Waking at noon, lunch, falling asleep at two and then waking up at six. Repeat.

It was a fairly domestic weekend. The parents are off for Qing Ming in Malaysia, and there were cats to be fed and laundry to be done. Previous long weekends typically involved a lot more exploitation of time which means staying out late and drinking a lot. But with hungry cats waiting at home, there was no such desire or opportunity to do so anymore.

And I do enjoy this routine. I figure if I become jobless I'd probably revel in such domesticity.

Had another bike lesson though, which went much better than the first. I didn't fall down or buckle under the weight of the bike (which I routinely see happen to other girls present) although there were a number of close shaves. I will not give men that satisfaction.

But the driving centre is an interesting place and a world of its own. Unlike the rest of yellow-boxed Singapore, people lit up almost everywhere except inside the building itself. It felt as if I was in another country. The instructors too, had an unusally wry sense of humour. They were very patient and seemed genuinely helpful. You'd figure dealing with young punks all day would make them crabby.

But I did get onto the outer circuit and went all the way up to fourth gear. And yes, it felt just wonderful.

Back to work tomorrow. I guess there are only some routines I enjoy.

Monday, April 02, 2007

M1_1560 copy

New issue is out. My photo essay has been getting good reviews, but I personally dislike it. I have my reasons.

The next two weeks will be hell.

Every issue I say that things will be different this time roumd, but it always ends up the same. Wasting time chasing false leads, reading tons of material that doesn't make sense and end up being useless. And just as the deadline approaches, you realise you're back at square one. Or square zero, for that matter.

i'm really getting sick of feeling this inadequete.

A part of me really, really wants to go back to doing what I used to do. And even so, I don't know if I did it well. At least I remember having a lot more satisfaction.

I miss the interaction. I miss travelling to three or four or more places in a day and talking to people.

Someone criticised me, told me I should spend more time observing people on the sidewalk. Something about understanding human behaviour.

Who uses the word sidewalk??

I digress. Anyway, few days earlier, when the same person mused that my personal background remained unknown, I questioned, "Do you really need to know?" And after some thought, the reply came back - "No, actually I don't." And that was that. I will thus continue to keep my background unknown.

I rest my case.