the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: July 2009

Color-blindness (Part IV)

Walking from The Curve to Cineleisure some weeks ago with Afham, we passed a mini-extreme sports exhibition sponsored by 100PLUS. To my surprise, one of the crew members took the liberty to walk over to me — which he may not have had Afham not been preoccupied with a phone call — and…

100PLUS: Hi! How are you?
Me: (already wary) Fine…
100PLUS: I remember you. I saw you at Sunway Pyramid a few weeks ago.
Me: (convinced the man was lying) Sunway Pyramid?
100PLUS: (gesturing to rock-climbing structure) Yeah, you were standing outside where we had this same event too.
Me: (realizing, abashed, that he was referring to the day of the Korea Sparkling B.Boy Competition at Sunway Pyramid back in May) Oh, that one! Yeah, I was there… I remember all this too…
100PLUS: Yeah, yeah! What’s your name, by the way?
Me: Sandra.
100PLUS: (eyebrows shooting up) Oh, Sandra! You’re Chindian, are you?
Me: Excuse me?
100PLUS: (repeating question as though I were deaf) Are you Chindian?
Me: No, I’m just Chinese.
100PLUS: Really? And your name is Sandra?
Me: (adopting the well-practiced air of indignance) Is that not a valid name for a Chinese?
100PLUS: No, no, I just thought you were Chindian because of your name.

By this time, Afham had ended his phone conversation and was laughing fit to be tied, proceeding to pull me away from the impertinent man in case I did more damage.

To 100PLUS’s credit, he was the first person ever to assume that I was of Chinese-Indian parentage. With that new addition, the Mistaken Races list currently stands as such:


Yes, French, as assumed, much to Afham’s amusement, by one of his own friends. I tell Afham he’s not one to talk (or laugh): he himself was recently mistaken for being Burmese.


Cleaning out my closet

“How in one night have we come so far?” – Kim, Miss Saigon



Standing on the deck, looking out at the clear, inviting waters of Tioman Island and breathing in the fresh sea air, brought about a sense of contentment I haven’t felt in a very long time. For the first time in months, maybe even years, the feeling that all was well in my life — or as well as it could go, as unrealistic and unlike me as it seemed — appeared more present than ever.

Then I looked down, something I did very often over those three days, and felt again the old wave of sadness wash over me. But at some point, that wave of sadness was replaced by something resembling more of wistfulness. The thought of keeping them away in the top shelf of my closet for more than a year, too pained by the sight of them to even think about having them as a part of my life, seemed so terribly distant now, and, in a macabre way, so terribly amusing.

Sometimes it’s difficult to believe how far it has all come. From the little secret smile of a new beginning, to the giddy thrill of hopes so high they seemed impossible to fell, to all the rage and frustration of playing a game I was too tired to play and didn’t know the rules of, and finally to the resignation of surrendering to a losing battle, it’s definitely been one very large, very full circle.

And yet, when faced with the question of whether I would do it all over again, or do it differently, my answer would now be of less certainty than before. Where once, long ago, I would have readily risked everything to fix the mess I had made, fully accepting of the circumstances and determined to prove that I could be good enough, now I’ve learned to look at the bigger picture, and come to realize that some things can only be fought for for so long, before all ego and pride must be set aside and defeat be admitted. And I know now that I wouldn’t do anything differently, because it was all the unfortunate circumstances that drove me to bring myself to where I am today.

I’ve learned to wear those shoes, and they’re very very comfortable.

Pretty in Pink

I normally wouldn’t post pictures like these, much less of myself, but I find them so amusing, and at the same time so endearing because it shows us all as a team — though whether we are in reality or not is another matter — that I had to put them here.

Group Corporate Communications at the launch of Easy by RHB, Wednesday, July 15, 2009:

With the new Group Managing Director, Dato' Tajuddin Atan

With the new Group Managing Director, Dato' Tajuddin Atan

With our new boss, Azman Shah Yaman a.k.a. The Messiah (or The Savior to Eza)

With our new boss, Azman Shah Yaman a.k.a. The Messiah (or The Savior to Eza)

We finally let the other boys in on the picture

We finally let the other boys in on the picture


The only other person I'll take photos like this with

The only other person I'll take photos like this with


Last look

Looking back on the last couple of months, I noted, not for the first time, that I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to. Up until May, I would blog almost every day — and now I wonder why I seem to have so very little to say or think about that I don’t feel the need to siphon it all into the little 6 inch² box that is my text editor, and thus relieve myself of the anger and frustration I once felt in spades.

I have recently — and constantly — been reminded of how much can change in such a short amount of time. My personal life had suddenly taken a turn and begun a slow, albeit steady, uphill climb. Barely a quarter of the way up, it was swept off its feet and most unexpectedly catapulted past the halfway mark, and up until today it continues its journey to heights I had long fallen from and am now learning to tackle again.

As for my professional life — also known as the greatest oxymoron of my existence — it was in a shambles after the departure of my boss and left at the mercy of a woman whose quest for supreme hegemony and dominion would have put Saddam Hussein to shame. And just when I thought I had found a way to escape before my own bitterness became my irrevocable undoing, I was pulled back in by a small, renewed glimmer of hope that perhaps there was a way out of this cesspool that didn’t involve defenestration.

To say that having all this happen over a span of three months had left me emotionally incapacitated and mentally unable to put it all down coherently in words — until perhaps now — would be a poor excuse. But for once, I’ll leave it at that.

With everything I have gained in recent weeks, there was also a fair amount to be lost, in both my life and my work. While it may be easy for one to sagely preach, “Sacrifices must be made,” it doesn’t make the sacrifice itself any easier. We are pulled in two separate directions, tempted by an escape but terrified of the unknown, and at the same time cleaving to an old attachment, comfortable where we are but knowing at some point we have to learn to let go. And when we’ve made our decisions, we can’t help turning back for that last look, bidding our silent goodbyes and wondering if we made the right decision.

All this being said, however, I’ve found some sort of closure in knowing that even though the decisions I’ve made may have been because I had no other choice, in some way they were the right ones, because in the big picture they could all work out for the greater good. In a different time and place, things may have gone my way, but in the here and now, this is all I have, and I’m happy with it. I’ve let go of the old anger and unhappiness, and forgiven the ones whom I once blamed — although knowing that in truth, they were not the ones at fault — for my own inadequacies.

But I will never forgive myself for not trying — or fighting, depending on how  you look at it — hard enough for what I wanted. I will never forgive myself for not recognizing my flaws and altering myself accordingly in a bid to salvage what little I had left. And I will never forgive myself for allowing it to consume me until I had almost lost my own sense of self, and subsequently, self-respect.

I’ve taken my last look.

A celebration of grief

“This is a moment that I wished I didn’t live to see come. But as much as I can say that and mean it, I do know that God is good, and I do know that as much as we may feel — and we do — that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more.” – Stevie Wonder


Amazingly — or perhaps not — I managed to stay up to watch Michael Jackson’s public memorial service. After nearly two weeks of headlines, conspiracy theories and speculations, the world’s greatest entertainer was finally laid to rest. These were a couple of my favorite moments from the service:

Jermaine Jackson singing Smile, said to be Michael’s favorite song

Usher singing Gone Too Soon

But despite all the vigils kept, all the music and videos played throughout the world to commemorate his life, this was what broke through everyone’s denial and made us all realize that this really was happening, that the King had really left us:

Paris Jackson saying goodbye

Farewell, Michael. I love you. You rocked my world, you know you did.

Out of the ashes

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” – Maria von Trapp, The Sound of Music

phoenixFor weeks now, I had been preparing myself. Convinced in my unhappiness and frustration, I was getting ready to let go and start all over again in a new place, among new people, as daunting as that may seem. And by God’s grace, a new window of opportunity was opened, and I was given that chance to start over.

But the chance did not come without its doubts. I didn’t know how much I wanted it, or if I wanted it for the wrong reason: a means to escape from my current lot in life, no matter how attached I still was to it. I was afraid that once I shut the door to my present and turned it into the past, and leaped through the window to a future I didn’t know how much I wanted, I would come to regret that decision, after which both door and window would be latched, shut to me forever.

And then, as though He were responding to my hesitation at the windowsill, even as the smoke and the ashes continued from the bridges I had begun to burn, another door opened, a small one newly carved into the door I had been longing to close. The force of it, and perhaps said attachment that I still felt, drew me back from the window and towards the door again, and once more I knew I was about to sell my soul back to the Devil for the comfort and familiarity of a station I had come to love.

“So, you’re giving them a second chance then?” Greg asked at one point.

On the contrary, it felt as though I had been given another chance. Another chance to prove my self-worth, to pull myself out from under this alternate form of slavery and come into my own, and to prove to myself that I could be less of a weakling and not turn my coat at the slightest hint of dissatisfaction.

Either way, I have shut the window to the temporary freedom I craved, and entered back through the new, albeit small, door to my reformation. And when the time comes for me to escape again, so help me God.