the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: March 2009

Perennial standstill

boredIt was a typical Tuesday morning. I was in relatively early, for the first time since I came back from Singapore nearly two weeks ago, and I was excited for the latest issue of the newsletter to be delivered because it had a new layout. At a little past 10AM, I was done clearing my Outlook inbox and was about to get on The New York Times website when —

It took me almost a minute to realize that even though all the lights had gone off and taken my computer with them, the music from Puteri Gunung Ledang: The Musical was still playing raucously from someone’s computer. So I got up and walked around the office, and discovered that my computer and two others’ were the only ones that had died with the lights; the other fifteen computers were happily humming away.

I was again a victim of lawrus sodimusSod’s law.

Fortunately I keep a set of (very thick) books in my desk drawer, for light reading whenever I get bored or need some time away from proofreading dishwater-dull fund reports. So I decided to read until the power source my computer and the lights were connected to had been fixed. As it turned out, I would spend the rest of the day reading.

By 12:30PM I was so restless from not being able to do anything else except read — which got rather tiresome after a while because I had to do it in semi-darkness — that I decided to while away my lunch hour, and then some, at Pavilion. At 3:30PM, after I had felt guilty enough about staying out so long, I trudged back to the office, only to discover that the power was still out, and likely to remain so through tomorrow.

And so this trumps the day I hosted the RHB-Horwath 2009 Budget & Tax Planning Seminar as the most unproductive day I’ve ever had on this job. Not for nothing, though: in order to avoid further brain death, my Macbook will go to work with me tomorrow; if I could get away with it I would spend the day working from Starbucks at Pavilion, which could also result in the spending of more money but would at least make my day more productive than today.


Earth Hour 2009

Lights out, heart on

The spectacular view of the city from KL Tower

KLCC in darkness: the spectacular view of the city from KL Tower.

The one hour where the whole city — indeed, the whole world — went dark. And with it, my perspective on certain things. I finally managed to come out from behind that fabulous façade I’ve been trying to put on all these months, and been failing over the last week. And even though it didn’t quite happen the way I thought it would — it turned out to be two hours too late — I feel like a weight has been taken off my chest and out of my system, and I don’t have to hide anymore.

Call it what you will


- PostSecret

“I’m definitely no saint, but I kind of know what it’s like to want to give everything for one person, only to have it all go to waste.” (In reference to Hassan, one of the characters from Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner)

No sooner had I pressed the Enter key — for yes, it was I who said this, over Google Talk — than I asked myself, Was it really a waste?

When we put our effort into something, only to have it come to no fruition in the end, is it a waste? We labor over something for extended — in some cases not even so — periods of time, weighing all our options and wondering how we can make it all work out so that it becomes a win-win situation, and when everything blows up in our faces, we heave an enormous sigh of frustration and say, “Well, that was a complete waste of time!”

Yes, in some ways it may have been, because we didn’t get what we wanted after trying so hard or for so long. On the other hand, is it really so much of a waste if we could learn something from it? While we like to think back to everything we did throughout the entire process, wallowing in our resentment and anger, how often do we think about everything we didn’t do, everything we could have done, that may have changed our fortunes and not made it a waste after all? Wouldn’t the fact alone that there were things we could have done make it a waste, because it means we threw away what little chance we had by being too afraid of losing everything? And even if we lose everything, it doesn’t mean it was a ‘waste’; it just means we get to learn from our mistakes so that when we’ve built everything back up, we’ll know not to throw away those chances again.

I know I have no call to think that I wasted my time and effort on this. I was too afraid of pushing for what I wanted, afraid of pushing it out of my life completely. And now that it’s too late, and knowing how it all came to be like this, I will say that if it was indeed a waste, then it was entirely my own fault, because I didn’t try hard enough, and now I’ll have to live with it.

But I won’t call it a waste.

Because no act of love is ever a waste.

My own form of substance abuse

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t just shoot their husbands.” – Elle Woods, Legally Blonde

It’s been a little over two months since Becca and I decided to make an attempt to force more positivity into our lives by joining a gym. And while there may be some small physical improvements, Becca raised an odd, but somewhat pertinent, question: “Do you think it’s helping us emotionally?” And for the first time, I stopped to think about what my workout sessions (which some people have called ‘excessive’, but really, what’s a mere four days a week?) have been doing to my overall mental and emotional health.

As I mentioned very briefly before, my gym time has helped with my rage issues; my workout sessions have me walking out of the gym feeling as though I was just run over by several trains, but with a light, heady feeling I haven’t felt in a long time — possibly since my month-long stint in Boston a year ago. That very feeling is the reason — aside from the dire need to relinquish unnecessary body mass — I feel the urge to go to the gym the same way Rebecca Bloomwood feels the urge to barge into Barney’s and swipe her credit cards. If I’ve done my regular time on the machines, and I don’t feel as though I’m about to keel over, I keep going until Becca comes over and pronounces herself half-starved. When I know I won’t be able to make it to the gym on one of my designated days, I make up for it on another day — and even on days that I don’t have to go to the gym, I go anyway (as yet a rare occurrence), all simply to head off the negative emotions I carry like a cross day in and day out.

All of this begs the question: How much is too much? Whether good or bad, how do we know when to stop doing something? If we become almost dependent on exercise to take away our anger and sadness, will we stop or cut down only when something happens to make us do so, like a broken collarbone, or cardiac arrest? If we are in a situation that we know is bad for us, but we remain in it anyway because we know that there are moments, however brief, that make us happy, do we try to get ourselves out of the mess only when the damage becomes irreversible?

I don’t know if what I’m doing now, going to the gym four to six times a week, is a bad thing, but if it also means that I haven’t run out to take shooting lessons, then there’s no harm done.



1. the act of resigning.
2. a formal statement, document, etc., stating that one gives up an office, position, etc.
3. an accepting, unresisting attitude, state, etc.; submission; acquiescence: to meet one’s fate with resignation.

It’s a word I’ve come in contact with a fair bit over the last few weeks, in all three meanings. I don’t know how much longer this will go on for, but right now it’s here, and I’ll have to live with it.


It’s as if I sent this in myself.



A new old song

This is the sound of a broken heart
There’s only one reason why we’re apart
She never would have made it to your car
If it wasn’t for the club, I’d still have my love
We would still have us

Hatin’ On The Club, Rihanna

This song, apparently an upcoming single, reminds me of the old songs I grew up listening to with my grandparents. It has that old-school pop feel to it — even in the lyrics — and infused with the quirky R&B beats that sets Rihanna apart from her genre’s counterparts, it’s the kind of song that gets me stuck to it all day.

And just how old are we talking?

1956 – Changing Partners, Patti Page

1961 – Sad Movies, The Lennon Sisters

1973 – Paper Roses, Marie Osmond

The beginning of an end

He was very calm as he gathered everyone — or those who weren’t on leave because of the school holidays — in his office. He had that Look — that Look I recognized as one of trepidation, of apprehension, at the effect his words could cause. But it was also a look of detachment, the look one has when one realizes that their efforts have come to no fruition, and therefore they have come to terms with their situation and decided to take the only other measure they know they have left.

“I want to let you all know that I am leaving the Group.”

Nobody said anything. I had seen this coming. For as long as I have been on this job — hardly even a year — I have seen him range from outrage to frustration to pure resignation. But for the past few weeks, it had been different. The resignation had become indifference; it was a sign of defeat because he knew he could never alter the powers that be, and do what he had been given the position to do.

I will not deny that I have on occasion been frustrated at his behavior, especially when he could not and would not stand up for himself and for the rest of the Division, when he had cautioned me that it would be best not to question those whose authority directly affected our livelihoods, and when he had advised me not to be too passionate about what I do — this last bit that I still refuse to heed, because it’s my passion for what I do that keeps me sane. At the same time, I knew he had his reasons for doing so, and I knew them well: so that nobody would allow themselves to be dragged blindfolded into the swamp that is Corporate Malaysia, and watch their spirits get chipped away with every passing day.

And so, in the time that he has left — a month has never seemed to short — I will remember as best as I can why I’m still here, doing what I do. It is because I sincerely (and maybe naïvely) believed that regardless of what I chose as a career, I could do some good with it, if not for the world, then at least for my company. It is because I like what I do, in spite of all the heinous politics that dictate this very company, and I thought I could learn to look past it if I just focused on my job. It is because he understood me on a level that not many people can — without judgment — made me believe that life is only ever as good or as bad as I wanted it to be, and reminded me of what matters most in life, which is not the job. And it is because he gave a lost little girl this chance — her very first job back in this country — to prove that she could be worth something after all.

You did what you had to do, and you did good. You may not realize it yet, but you’ve done yourself — and more people than you know — proud. Now it’s your opportune moment to go out there and do great things, because there is always a chance that you can. Thank you for teaching me all that I know right now. Thank you for giving me the room to grow. Thank you for taking that gamble and giving me the chance I needed, a chance that not many people would have given me. Good luck, Charlie.

– Angel #3