the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: November 2009

Occupational hazard

Standing around a long table laden with annual report designs this morning, it was already taking all my discipline not to walk away as a sign of my complete indifference and lack of interest in what people thought of trees and diamonds and chess pieces. It didn’t help that this was being done on a Monday morning after a long weekend, and it didn’t help that I’ve been preoccupied with the potentially life-threatening situation I’m currently in.

As the mindless debate about which designs would be presented to the ones whose opinions mattered the most, how they would be presented and what flibberty-gibberty would be conjured up to sway said opinions to our side, I felt The Eyebrow (my left eyebrow, which has oft been solely responsible for the repulsed expression on my face) began to furrow as the word struck a most unpleasant chord in my head: playful. On and on it went: “Playful, playful, playful…”

That the word was in and of itself being used to describe an annual report cover already picked at my irritation nerve. That it was being repeated while describing two or three other designs threatened to drive me over the edge and result in my putting my hands over my ears and screaming for the word to disappear. And with that, I mentally added the word playful to the List (see below).

It’s no secret that this country has never been famous for its standard of English, unless it’s viewed in ascending order: lowest standard first. The language has been butchered and thrown into a melting pot of languages comprising the local tongues to produce one common language mastered by anyone who can speak a smidgen of English.

So it was with much astonishment and derision that I learned, not far into my current job, the words that people were using in their daily (professional) communication, misusing and abusing them to an appalling degree. And as the months went by, my irritation at hearing them increased exponentially with the number of times I heard them. Some of them were not used in the wrong context, but the frequency of their appearance made it look as though they were used as generally-accepted terms, and not because anyone really knew what they were for.

And it has now come down to me cringing, rolling my eyes, and swearing (under my breath or out loud) whenever I see or hear these words — normal, everyday words that I’ve added to the List of Words I’ve Come to Hate Because of My Job (which has been broken down into two categories):

Overkill: Words that are overused and overrated
Advise
Kind(ly)
Assist(ance)
Discuss(ed/ion)
Challenging
Playful
Strategize
Noted
Clarify
Verify
Liaise
Seek

Humiliation: Words that are misused because people don’t know their real meanings
Revert
Embargo
Escalate
As per

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Thankful

Another year, another Thanksgiving gone by. For the second year in a row, I spent Thanksgiving here, in a country that does not seem to grasp the concept of Thanksgiving. Granted, it’s an American tradition that was religious in origin, but for a nation that is ever determined to mirror the lifestyle and culture of the Western world — such as dressing up for Halloween, apparently — they are sadly ignorant of Thanksgiving here.

Even though it did not feel much like Thanksgiving this year, it felt surprisingly more so than it did last year, perhaps because it was my first Thanksgiving away from Buffalo and the life I had loved there, and as I had been back for barely eight months, it was part of the process of adjusting to life here that I had to learn to do without Thanksgiving as well. Another reason I couldn’t think of Thanksgiving last year was that I was too caught up in my own personal life, trying to salvage something I had destroyed and that threatened to consume me, and I failed to realize that in spite of all the difficulties I was facing, there was always something to help make it all more bearable that I could be thankful for.

And then, two days ago, as I sat at my office desk, contemplating an extremely disturbing piece of news, I remembered that it was Thanksgiving. Every year, when I was living in the U.S., I thought about what I was thankful for, and it was always the people I had come to know and love there, and the fabulous opportunities I had been given to live some of my dreams. And so, in an attempt to take my mind off  the possibility of having to face what could be one of the greatest tribulations of my life, I thought about what I should be thankful for this year, or ever since I set foot back on Malaysian soil.

I’m thankful for my parents giving me the space and time to adjust to life here, for understanding what a significant and difficult transition it was, and for accepting that I was no longer the 19-year-old who left home on her own for the first time, but the 23-year-old who was grown up and trying to start her own life all over again.

I’m thankful for the greatest friend God has given me, who was there through the difficult times I had last year, who tried not to judge me when I dragged myself down to an epic low over something I couldn’t have and was throwing everything away to achieve. Who sat with me through bottles of gin, vodka and tequila with Kleenex at the ready while I contemplated the mess I had made of things, and who still sits with me while I bawl my eyes out over the phone about the circumstances of my life, all without judgment.

I’m thankful for the job that I have, for being able to get a job on my first try so soon after coming back here. Granted, it may not be what I was cut out for, but I’m thankful to have a job in the current times, and I’m thankful that I will somehow be able to make the best of a bad situation where my job is concerned. I’m thankful for this job that has given me what I can consider a good friend, and the few people who make it just a little less difficult.

I’m thankful for the man in my life now, whom I ran into, under the most unusual straight-out-of-a-movie circumstances, after not seeing or speaking to him in over a decade. Who saw and accepted me as I am now — damaged goods, as is — and still promised to stand by me and wait for the day that I can take down the wall around myself and stand before him a whole, healed person.

And most of all, I’m thankful for being able to rebuild my life here, even though I had fought so hard not to come back. I’m thankful that I was finally able to realize that even though I had left home when I was 19 to escape the life I had then, it didn’t necessarily have to be the life I would continue to have when I came back. I’m thankful that I now have some semblance of the life I wanted, and I’m thankful that I’ve learned to look at the big picture and make what I can of what has been given to me.

Love, lies and lessons

“You expect this of the young ones… You expect this of the old ones… I’m going to wait for a vampire to show up!” – Becca


I suppose I shouldn’t have been too surprised. After seven years of nothing but bad luck and bad relationships, I should have known better. I should have know that with a colorful history comes the baggage of knowing that sometimes, history comes back to haunt you, and the ones who love you, whether by your will or otherwise.

I may have been damaged enough to let you break down my wall in the beginning, but there were times when I was lucid enough to sense that you were lying to get your own way. Now that I know you were lying to get your own way, you can be sure that the wall will go up back up, and you will never be able to break it, or me, again, no matter how much I love you.

You’re the boy who cried love.

Glitter, feathers and wings

So maybe this is why I decided to start blogging again:

The 2009 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show was staged on Thursday, November 19, in New York, and even though the show was missing Gisele Bündchen for the third year in a row (I still miss her; she is one of the very very few who can still bring that supermodel vibe to the runway), Eugenia Volodina, Natasha Poly, Adriana Lima and Karolina Kurková, the latter two of whom had just given birth, I can’t wait to watch it when it airs on December 1 on CBS (not that ASTRO carries CBS; I’m just waiting to download it). The pictures from this year’s show promise its usual glamor, jewelry and underwear that nobody in their right mind would ever dream to don. And, as usual, it’s the one night a year when women of every size feels mortifyingly bad about themselves, and the one night men forget everything that has to do with sports, cars and wrestling.

Fortunately, a few of my favorite supermodels are still walking the runway of this show:

Alessandra Ambrosio
Still my personal favorite

Miranda Kerr

Izabel Goulart

Ana Beatriz Barros

Doutzen Kroes

Heidi Klum
You would never have known she’d just given birth to her fourth child a mere five weeks before the show if it hadn’t been shouted about by every news medium on the planet

Oil on troubled waters

Sail on, Silver Girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way

Simon & Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water –

See, I told you I’d be back soon.

Barely three weeks ago I decided to take a break from blogging, having realized that I no longer had anything to write about that was really worth reading. This led me to decide I needed to take a step back and figure out the direction in which I wanted my life to go, because that in turn could clear or cloud my judgment and thus affect my writing.

So I stepped away from the text box, but remained so attached to this place that I comforted myself by playing with the layout, hence the new header and link color. I kept my Twitter going, because my brain tends to go into overdrive sometimes and I’m constantly in need of some form of an outlet to preserve my sanity.

The good thing about this hiatus I went on is that it allowed me to look at my life from outside my writer’s mind, to see it from as different a perspective as I could. From there, I hoped to figure out why I had been in such an epic slump over the last few weeks and how I could get myself out of it. I kept faith in the idea that with a little time, I would be able to clear my mind and think things through thoroughly enough so that I could resume my writing in a healthier state of mind.

One reason was my job. I suppose on some level I had always known that the sudden changes that occurred in July would be little more than a quick fix, instead of a solution, to the problems I had been facing, and that had been slowly snowballing, ever since I joined this company. I don’t remember exactly when I finally accepted that I had allowed myself to be bought back into a company I had been desperate to escape, but that knowledge only served to enhance the self-loathing I sometimes felt when I looked around and saw the mess I had chosen to remain in.

The other part of my work-related reason was the social pressures I was beginning to feel. I had somehow been roped into a campaign of sorts to be more involved with the people in my Division, which completely went against my principle of being averse to communality and only served to increase my resentment of being around such bawdy, boisterous people, resulting in me isolating myself more than ever and forcibly shutting everyone else out.

This was not helped by the fact that there were some who had managed to stumble across this blog and found its content more personal than was necessary (no doubt a by-product of being oversensitive and gallingly narcissistic), and in the end I had to lock my Twitter and start filtering my blog content while I figured out what to do with them. It made me ever more derisive of my sudden conformity to the social and office politics, because it went against another principle of mine: to never do something just because others thought I should. It took more than a few people’s advice to make me realize that this blog is my own and therefore for me to do as I please with it, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t always be able to please everyone, and shouldn’t bother with the ones who aren’t significant enough to make me want to please them.

As for my personal life – which I have too often called one of the greatest oxymorons of my existence – I had thought I had finally come (as close) to terms (as I could) with everything that had happened over the last seven years that I could let go of the old anger and unhappiness and focus on the first real relationship I’ve had in nearly three years. And yet, circumstances of my life were such that along with this new relationship came the old fears – of being hurt, abused and ultimately abandoned – and they began to take a toll on me sooner than I would have liked them to.

This emphasized the fact that I had landed myself in this relationship before I was actually ready (not very wise in retrospect; then again, one may never know when one is truly ready), and even though I cannot complain about my current lot in life, it made me realize that I had yet to let go of that one person. That one person who had made me question my self-worth time and time again, and yet who meant everything to me, to the point where the thought of losing him – though I had never actually had him – brought about a pain beyond all bearing. And with recent developments came the acceptance that there are some people who get under our skin and just stay there, and as perverse as it sounds, we wouldn’t have them anywhere else for the world. I now understand why people say, “I love you, I always have and I always will,” because even if it were not the kind of love we want it to be, it’s the kind of love nobody else would understand. As I said a year and a half ago, you are everything they never were.

And now, having made peace with the two banes of my existence, I think I am as ready as I’ll ever be to put them behind me, and resume my writing. I may not be happy as a lark right away, I may still fall into a slump that is sometimes more severe than others, but I’m willing to brush myself off and try again. These two factors will influence my writing for a long time to come, but at least I see them in a slightly clearer, if not better, light now, and compared to the crippling darkness I’ve been in, that makes all the difference in the world.

Not forever, just for now

With sporadic outbursts in between

“Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.” Don Delilo

hiatus

Come on. You saw it coming.

As happens every couple of years, I’ve come to a dead end on the long and ever-perilous adventure known as blogging. It’s not so much writer’s block as it is a complete (albeit temporary) shutdown of my entire being, where I’ve become physically, mentally and emotionally incapable of gathering my thoughts and putting them down coherently on any surface — paper, keyboard, cement, whatever — beyond this rather lengthy explanation for my mental vacation.

This may have something to do with the fact that over the past few months, this blog, which has ever been my lifeline and sole outlet for speaking my mind without fear of being attacked by the Cerberus of the Under(blogging)world — judgment, ostracism and social persecution — has become a victim of that very same three-headed monster bred by the appallingly intrusive nature of the bonafide vapid narcissist.

It may also have something to do with the fact that I have recently lost the will to do anything (work, party, live altogether) except assume the fetal position on a couch indefiinitely; the only thing stopping me is the knowledge that Afham would be wasting his time trying to coax me out of my death trance, or at least off said couch.

Regardless of the reason, it is time for me to take a step back and a big breath, and try to realign my thoughts and emotions, and hopefully make some sense of what’s happening to me. And maybe, with it I’ll find the spirit and energy to write again.

I will not be gone long; in fact, as is with my previous attempts at hiatuses — and knowing my own overwhelming need to address the profane aspects of my life — I don’t expect this one to last more than a month. My Twitter will still be active, so that I may ensure the containment of my sanity, even if it’s only within its 140-character walls, so fellow Tweeters are more than welcome to follow me.

To the ones who have been following this blog faithfully, for all (your personal) intents and purposes, thank you and I will see you soon. And to the ones who just happened to hop on and stumble across this most untimely post, welcome, take a look around, and if you like what you see, come back soon.

Not even six degrees

Up until I came back here a year and half ago, I had completely forgotten what a discomfittingly small world it can be, especially in this country. And apparently, the terrifying smallness of it can lead to rather unfounded conclusions.

Me: Do you remember that time we ran into my high school classmate at the Terrace Bar?
Afham: Maybe…
Me: You know, we ran into his brother at BarSonic, who was your classmate in Sunway College.
Afham: Oh, yes. That. Why?
Me: I think my classmate’s ex-girlfriend is Rick’s* sister.
Afham: Rick who?
Me: Oh, you know! Rick Chang.
Afham: Oh, yeah, from school. Wait, how do you know Rick Chang?
Me: I met him through Jason’s* sister. I only got to know him better after I came back from France.
Afham: What do you mean by ‘know him better’?
Me: We used to talk quite a bit, but then after that I went to the U.S. and he went to Australia and we lost touch. We spoke every now and then, but not for a few years now. And then I ran into him at D’Haven a few months ago.
Afham: Oh… So you guys used to date then?
Me: (pause) I’m not really sure how ‘know him better’ translates to ‘used to date’, but no, I never dated him.

Assumptions, I ask you.

*Names have been changed to prevent potential awkwardness.