the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: April 2009

When thunder and lightning strike


My best friend has just hauled herself out of a sort-of-but-not-quite relationship with a man who was completely the wrong choice for her in all circumstances. As much of a relief as it is for her to be out of this situation that was only ever going to spiral downwards, it has also put her in a bit of a slump, because, as she admitted herself, it was a shame that it had to end with this particular man, however bad he was for her, and she is once again manless.

Why is it that we can never go for the things that are good for us, and make decisions that could ultimately benefit us in some way? It appears that our capacity for taking things for granted is so great that we end up throwing away the good things, choosing instead to either live a life of selfish, irresponsible complacency or go straight for the things that make us (temporarily) happy, but ultimately take away our faith, our hope, everything we once believed in.

We live by the creed that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, that no matter how many times we ruin things for ourselves, there will always be that chance to learn from our mistakes — to run towards the light, so to speak. So we continue to dance around in the dark, doing exactly as we like without caring too much about anything or anyone else, and waiting for thunder and lightning to strike as a sign that it’s time to get a move on actually begin to care. And when thunder and lightning strike, and we decide to stop dancing and look around for that elusive light, we realize that it had been put out a long time ago.

So we are, it would seem, innately self-destructive people. Or maybe it’s just Becca and me.


Progress is as progress does

“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

This weekend I was able to:

  1. Meet some of my primary school friends and rekindle a friendship with one of them.
  2. Discover a new hangout in Bangsar, thanks to said primary school friends.
  3. Procure a new form of distraction, again thanks to said primary school friends.
  4. Meet up with the girls, who have all been hankering for a real get-together since Bridezilla Weekend, so this one will last at least a month or so.
  5. Gain new perspective on certain things, which now has me wondering if there should be a slight rearranging of priorities.
  6. Rebuild my alcohol tolerance after my 46-day abstinence; if two consecutive nights of gin, vodka and tequila didn’t do it, then I’m a lost cause.
  7. Think about it — and you — without feeling the need to throw things.

Not bad after several weeks of laying low.

A life for a life

A month ago I decided to put my money to good use by sponsoring a child through the World Vision program, figuring that since I seem incapable of putting my own life right, I can at least try and make someone else’s life better. And I just got my child’s details in the mail! 🙂

Awelani Patience Mufamadi, aged 7
from Thusalushaka, South Africa


First chivalry, now common decency

Sending an innocently sarcastic email in reply to one that was thought to have been sent by mistake because it was not read thoroughly enough to realize that it was, in fact, no mistake.

Kicking up a fuss with a peer because Vanity does not permit direct contact with the person from whom the original email was received.

Enlisting the help of a subordinate to keep watch at the door for original sender’s return from the bathroom, while accessing said sender’s Outlook Inbox to delete said sarcastic reply before it, and subsequently the abysmal oversight, can be discovered.

When work stops being a professional matter and is used to facilitate a personal vendetta, is it any wonder, then, that work ethics and professionalism — and, in the big picture, common decency itself — are  now completely dead in this country?

Is this how the kids are doing it now?

Samantha: I trust you’re finding something noteworthy to put in your column, JJ?
JJ: Look at you… I can think of a few other places I’d like to put my column tonight.
Samantha: Dream on, JJ.

– Sex & the City –

I was at Bangsar Village II’s MPH after a gym session earlier tonight, browsing the titles and minding my own business, when, out of the corner of my eye, I sensed someone walking up to me. I looked up warily, to see a boy — and I say ‘boy’ because he could not have been much older than I — standing next to me with a tentatively inquisitve look on his face…

Boy: Excuse me, hi. I’m sorry, but can I ask you a question?
Me: (left eyebrow already inching its way up) It depends…
Boy: I just wanted to ask — do you think it’s OK for a girl to check her boyfriend’s phone for text messages?
Me: Excuse me?
Boy: Yeah, I just wanted to get your opinion, because, you know, you’re a girl.
Me: Is this for school?
Boy: No, no! You see, my best friend’s girlfriend is not happy that he talks to other girls, even though they’re just friends, so she started checking his phone because she thinks he’s cheating on her.
Me: Well, is he?
Boy: No, of course not! He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet.
Me: (snorting) I’m sure.
Boy: Whoa… That was a very cynical “I’m sure.”
Me: Well, you are his best friend, so you would have your own biases.
Boy: So, as a girl, is it really OK to check the guy’s phone for calls and messages? They’ve been together two years already.
Me: (walking around the aisles and keeping eyes fixed on book spines as a hint of disinterest) I think it’s wrong for anyone to check their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s phones. But if after two years there are trust issues like this, something must be wrong somewhere, so maybe she has her reasons for feeling this way.
Boy: How old are you?
Me: (thrown by the change of course in utter randomness) Excuse me, you don’t ask a woman her age, particularly not one you don’t know.
Boy: OK, I’m 24.
Me: (getting tired of this by-play) Well… I didn’t ask. But assuming your friends are your age, they’re a bit too old to be dealing with their problems this way.
Boy: They’re 21. And how old are you?
Me: Not that it matters, but I’m 25. Or I will be this year.
Boy: Oh, that’s too old for me.
Me: (completely taken aback and quite ruffled now) I don’t see how that’s relevant, but excuse me?

At this point, thankfully, the useless banter was interrupted, upon which I scurried off. It was later pointed out to me that the boy, who really did not look much older than 21 himself, was attempting a pick-up routine. If that had indeed been the case, I would have given it a 2/10, for being long-winded, tedious and completely fruitless in the end, because no names were given (although, as also pointed out, this might have been because we were interrupted and I was swept out of the store).

Hemming and hawing

Now that I’m at a proverbial crossroads in my life, I’m reminded yet again of what a terribly indecisive person I am: I can never seem to make my mind up on anything. I spend ages in a bookstore, reading the synopses on the back covers of books, thinking each one could be a good read, but I end up walking out of the store empty-handed, because I’m afraid that after I start reading I’ll realize I just spent RM49.70 on a book I don’t even like. I test out a new lipgloss color on my hand and find that I quite like it, but I’m reluctant to purchase it because I’m afraid that it will look different on my face and I’ll be saddled with a tube of RM79 lipgloss until I’m guilted into using it.

It wouldn’t be so bad if my indecisiveness only stopped at the superficial things. But now I can actually put together a list of things I’ve been meaning to do that I just haven’t gotten around to out of laziness, complacency and the apprehension that doing them would mean having to see them through  to — and possibly failing to obtain — a certain end result. And no matter how significant or otherwise each task may seem, it doesn’t diminish the fact that I’m trapped — and deservedly so — in a hell of my own making.

Update my résumé. Ever since I started thinking of a career/job change, I’ve been making mental notes to update my résumé so that I can actually take that first step towards said change. I’ve always hated anything résumé-related, because I can never be sure how much information to put in it that will come across as impressively substantial but at the same time not long-winded.

Go on the wild-goose chase. Naturally, with the task of updating my résumé, comes the ordeal of going through the much-hated process of looking for a new job — be it in the same profession/industry or a new one altogether — which is another bane of my existence, as I’m terrified of interviews (and the corresponding rejection) and apprehensive of starting over in a new place, among new people, when I’ve become comfortable where I am.

Return to the stage. Being out of the Pitches and the University at Buffalo Choir has made me miss singing and performing, whether on my own — as my mother very briefly (and probably half-jokingly) suggested — or in a group. But as I haven’t been in any local ensemble since Operafest — a stint which ended more than five years ago — I haven’t the faintest idea how to go about seeking one now (auditions for the Selangor Philharmonic Choir I passed up for lack of preparation notwithstanding). Another thing stopping me is the thought of having to audition all over again, a task I also find daunting as the past years of performing have not taken away my stage-fright.

Test my endurance. In this case, it would be the Standard Chartered KL Marathon in June. Having recently gotten back into my gym groove, I was given the idea of signing up for the 10KM leg of the marathon, and despite my initial reservations about it, I began to consider it. But as Becca has resolutely refused to participate in even the 5KM leg, and it has been at least a good two years since I participated in a long-distance foot race (made more bearable by the fact that it was held in 20°C weather and I was with a good twelve other girls), I’m not entirely sure I want to be doing this on my own.

With all my mental haggling back and forth on these matters, it’s a wonder that I get anything done at all. But I would like to at least get half these things down pat (predictably the first two), and if nothing else, to provide myself with some consolation that I’m making an attempt to haul myself out of this self-made slump.

Mortification makes for very effective motivation

“People tell me, if I lost you, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I don’t know how to tell them that you are my world.” – Vivica A. Fox, Why Do Fools Fall In Love

This makes me want to turn back time:

i'll never tell


It’s become easier over the past couple of weeks. Now that the humiliation and mortification of reality have really set in, thanks to the distractions, alcohol and many wise words and packs of Kleenex from Becca, they are the driving forces behind my renewed efforts to put it all behind me and start over. Two weeks from now, I would have spent a year of my life in this doomed cycle, thinking I could still regain control of myself, the circumstances, and the consequences.

But no more.

“I want to understand properly, Rasa Devi. I want to learn the rules of love and how to apply them. And if I can’t use them on the one I love… I’ll use them on the ones I don’t.” – Maya, Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love

One woman’s stash is another woman’s style


With the departure of my boss, and the impending arrival of a new Group Managing Director — and consequently a busload of people that he is reportedly tooling in with — I’ve gone back to thinking about my next step in my working life, as my personal life appears to be at an epic standstill and therefore not worth salvaging. I had recently put it off, driven by an odd attachment that has developed from meeting certain people whom I actually like and can bear to work with, and a sense of accountability for the things I do here, that I haven’t felt since my days of pseudo-teaching in Boston. But I’ve come to realize that no matter how guilty I may feel for upping and leaving this company, with the unlikely possibility of a replacement who can speak, read or write in English, there are some things we simply cannot afford to hold on to.

And so I’ve begun revisiting ideas for the next phase of my career, where I want to go, what I want to do and how far it can take me that I will be able to really make good of it. And last night, I was able to add one more option to the list:

Fashion stylist.

Stop laughing.

Taken from Thesis Week at Parsons School of Design, New York

Taken from Thesis Week at Parsons School of Design, New York

I’m surprised I never considered it sooner. No doubt my mind is not as open to the possibilities as I’d like it to be, because whatever I wanted to do that involved fashion — after deciding at the age of seventeen that fashion designing is out of the question because I can’t do more than sew on my own buttons — also only ever involved writing about it. But thanks to the list of 25 Dream Jobs, sent to me by a friend who is currently undergoing a career transition, it dawned on me that since I love fashion, and I love to shop, why not get paid to do it?

The bane of my wardrobe has always been my build, which has greatly limited my options when it comes to shopping — no smocking, no elasticized sleeves, no scoopnecks, no spandex, and all big, all blowsy, and all empire waist.  So it may not be such a bad idea for me to transplant all the ideas I put together in my head onto people who are about two feet taller and six sizes smaller than I am, and who will be able to pull them off better. And these days, with the eroding lines between seasons and collections — pre-season collections, capsule collections, collection collections, for everything from haute couteur to shoes to lingerie — and designers recycling and revamping styles several times a year, the task of dressing women of different shapes, sizes, age groups, and even colors, is a challenge in and of itself.

This will obviously not happen overnight — or, in fact, happen at all — as I have neither the background nor the experience in this field, except for the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet, and the hours I log reading the fashion and style sections, blogs and magazines. But a girl can dream.