the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: December 2009

New year, new hope

Every year, at around this time, I would think back over the months and marvel at how quickly time has passed, smile at the good things that I’ve done, and balk at the bad. Every year, I would sigh about how I don’t know where the year has gone, and think about how, before I know it, I’ll be 75 (if I even manage to live that long) and wondering where my entire life had gone. And once every few years, I would sit back and say a little prayer of thanks that it had been a surprisingly good year.

But not this year.

This year, I know exactly where it all went: down the drain, into the dregs of Earth, and eventually damned into that chasm we all picture laced with flames, known as Hell. So I did less of the marveling and more of the sighing with exhausted relief that the year has finally come to a close.

Because this year was a terrible one. It was abonimably, mind-numbingly heinous, and in fact I have great trouble finding an appropriate adjective for it, because honestly there is none that can adequately describe the monstrosities that took place this year.

Having to admit defeat and let go of that one crux in my life that I had fought for and against for so long. Being thrown into a professional purgatory that ultimately caused me to lose the will to work, and indeed, sometimes to live. Realizing at some point that I’d had enough of the politics and self-deprecation that come with my job and feeling as though I’d hit a dead end where the value and relevance of my work was concerned. It was all enough to send me into an almost permanent state of despondency for three quarters of the year.

And yet, despite all that, there is something to be grateful for this year. The one thing that has stopped me from throwing myself out a window so many times over the year, the one thing I can look to to help me preserve my sanity, the one thing I look forward to going home to on Fridays because it takes me away from the despair of the real world and for two or three days I can breathe more easily and be myself. And it’s the one thing that has made at least half the year that much more bearable.

And so I look back on this year and once more think that, after everything that’s happened, next year can only get better, and there’s only one direction in which it can all go. That thought, along with the raw plans I’ve made to pull myself out of this mess, is all that’s letting me hold on to my hopes for a better 2010.

Happy New Year.

26 and going strong

Afham’s 26th birthday — officially on December 24 — at Nerovivo Changkat Bukit Bintang and Twenty-one BSC, also known as the debut of my new camera:

Christmas with love

“Merry Christmas.”
I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note, saying, “I love you.”
I meant it
Now I know what a fool I’ve been
But if you kiss me now, I know you’ll fool me again

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away
This year, to save me from tears
I’ll give it to someone special

Wham!, Last Christmas –

Replacing the irreplacable

In the wake of my first taste as a victim of pickpocketing, I’ve been trying to replace the things I lost, namely my camera and credit and debit cards which had been canceled. So far I’ve been fairly successful, if not happier, at being able to regain some form of normalcy in my life as far as gadgets and finances are concerned, but not without a price.

On Monday, the day after I returned from Singapore, I hightailed to the main branch of my debit card’s issuing bank — whose name I am now too irate and ashamed to mention — to apply for a new card. There I was told, to my intense relief, that since I had recovered my wallet with all my cards still intact, I was able to have it reactivated, as opposed to replaced, a process I dreaded because the bank is notoriously slow in issuing debit cards. My relief, however, was short-lived, because even though the card worked in the ATMs, it could not be used at some merchants, a travesty I found gallingly humiliating because it sent me running out to an ATM to withdraw cash, by which time I had lost all desire to make any purchases at all.

And so today, after my card failed to work at even the most commonplace of merchants, Dome Cafe, I called the bank’s Customer Service line and demanded to know why my card kept being declined by merchants. It turns out that while the card’s ATM function had been restored, the debit function could not be, something the branch had spectacularly failed to tell me. This means that I will, after all, have to apply for a new card, after wasting two days trying to get it to work, when those two days could have been spent terrorizing the bank into pushing my application process.

As for my camera, the funny thing is that prior to going to Singapore, I never felt the real need to have a camera; it was there as something to be used if absolutely necessary, and most of the time, even when I did have it with me, I rarely used it. I suppose I was only ever looking out for specific, significant moments to capture, and after taking them, I would delete them because I never thought I would need to have those random shots sitting in the memory card.

But when my camera was swiped, the thought of losing all the pictures I had troubled myself to take, all the pictures Afham had insisted on taking, devastated me more than the thought of losing the camera itself, because it meant that all the memories of ‘our first trip’, as he liked to call it, were lost to me forever. So I resolved to get a new camera, and start using it more often in the future, because I could not afford to lose any more of these memories.

When it comes to cameras, I stand by two criteria: image quality, and camera size. I will scour the market for the most compact camera I can find that can take the best pictures possible, and if I have to, I will find a way to have both criteria meet in the middle. And over the years, ever since I got my first camera in 2004, I tried to keep to those criteria as closely as possible. There was the Konica Minolta DiMage Xt…

… followed by the Konica Minolta DiMAGE X1…

… and then, most recently, the Canon Digital IXUS 100 IS…

Of the three, the Canon was my favorite, because of its image quality and its sleek black look which complemented my personality more than the previous two did. And after it got stolen, I figured I honestly wouldn’t mind getting the same one as a replacement, but Afham was adamant that if I was going to spend money on a camera I might as well get something newer and better. So, after looking at several Canon models and being introduced to the Sony Cyber-shot models, I finally decided on this today:

I never thought I’d be one to own a Sony Cyber-shot, because it’s known as the girly-girl’s camera and I refuse to be stereotyped as a girly-girl (“Most girls like the Cyber-shot because of its design, so you can consider getting it!” salesmen like to tell me, not realizing that I go for function and quality first), but I have to admit, this camera has some really rather useful features, and for the first time in my life I strayed from the neutral color path (black, silver, gray) and opted for this blue color. I figured it couldn’t hurt: blue is my favorite color, and it’s not pink.

By a thread

I would be going against all my principles by posting a picture of myself looking as disastrously hideous as such, but as this is literally all we have left of our Singapore trip, and as my uncle is extremely excited that my cousins and I are all in a picture together for the first time in more than ten years, I’ll make an exception.

Tales of a traveling wallet

So.

After five days of being away from home, away from this insane city, and away from this country altogether, I realize that I don’t quite know how to describe my most recent vacation. Everything is running in together in my head, and it has all become a series of events all blurred into one.

Notice I don’t have any photos up.

While it was one of the best trips I’ve had in a long time — diving trips notwithstanding — it was also one of the most hectic, and the most traumatizing. Running around ceaselessly, from the chaos of Orchard Road to the dumps of Queenstown, from the quaintness of Haji Lane to the glitz of Clarke Quay, it was a whirlwind of activity marred by the absence of the photographs I had actually bothered to take with the camera I had actually bothered to bring along. The photographs which disappeared along with the camera that had been so artfully snaked out of my bag when I wasn’t looking.

So it didn’t matter that we had our pictures taken at the Esplanade’s 7atenine after the Lea Salonga concert — which, by the way, reignited my childhood dream of becoming (or at least sounding) just like her — where I downed two glasses of champagne to dull the pain of seeing the lost love of my life flash, quite literally, before my eyes and retreat into the part of my memory that I never dare visit. It didn’t matter that Afham insisted on taking my picture walking down Haji Lane, which has now become my favorite place to shop in Singapore, or that I had fun taking his picture standing in line waiting to be admitted into the newly-opened Bathing Ape store at the Mandarin Gallery.

It was a bit of a cliché that my wallet was stolen — for the very first time in my life, I might add — at Far East Plaza, known as the Singaporean version of Sungai Wang, quite possibly the shadiest mall in Kuala Lumpur. The loss of the money, which thankfully wasn’t much to begin with, was far overshadowed by the loss of the wallet and its contents, right down to the tiny little piece of paper that had been scribbled on and slipped into my bag months ago as a surprise.

After retracing my steps to the last three stores I was in, I resigned myself to the fact that I had become the victim of a pickpocket. And I was so distracted by the disappearance of my wallet that I only discovered three hours later that my camera had been swiped too, a discovery that could not be consoled by the phone call telling me my wallet had been ‘found and turned in’, sans cash, or my new acquisitions from Charles & Keith, Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. For the first time in my life, I realized the importance, if of the superficial kind, of a camera, because Afham’s happy quips about this being ‘our first trip’ just made me all the more guilty for not being more careful with my belongings, thus causing the loss of every physical memory of this trip.

But regardless of that stroke of misfortune, it was a good trip, and given the current calamities of my job, it was a much-needed break away from everything. I may have lost my voice — for the first time in three years — all muscle function in my legs, reminiscent of the marathon, my money, and my camera, but I found a little bit of happiness again, and the glimmer of a new will to better my life in the coming year.

And as if to cap it all off, during the coach ride home I heard the completely inarticulate attendant shout in the face of a passenger (not deliberately, but more to accommodate his hearing which was impaired by his headphones), “Sir, are you virgin?” She meant vegetarian. I succeeded in not guffawing out loud.

This little birdie’s flown away

I’m taking a long-overdue break away from life, and the opportunity for some serious retail therapy.

Afham is rocking back and forth on his heels, he’s so excited.

I’ll be back Sunday.

Don’t miss me too much!

Back in (retail) therapy

I haven’t been of a mood to splurge lately, which is saying something coming from someone who loves to shop as much as I do. Everything has looked so ordinary that nothing has really appealed to me; I walk into a store such as Diva, prowl through all the accessories and think I might like some of them, and then walk out empty-handed, and it’s difficult to really take my time browsing through every rack when Afham is hovering at my elbow, trying and failing spectacularly to hide the fact that he’s bored and wants to look at something he’s interested in, such as Nike shoes.

But with my trip to Singapore just around the corner — twelve hours away, to be exact — it’s difficult not to think of shopping and what I would like to get, especially now that the new mall in Singapore is open and finally home to one of my favorite stores, Sephora, and Christian Louboutin has also set up shop in Takashimaya. So, for the first time in years, I put together my Christmas wishlist:

It’s not likely that I will end up getting all of them, although I could sit here and justify wanting (i.e. needing) each item, such as wanting a bigger, thicker, cashmere shawl to wrap myself in at work and to replace my old, thinning, fraying Louis Vuitton one. But I will indulge myself anyway, because for the first time in a long, long time, I’m actually excited about going shopping.