the backstage epiphany

where reality is so subjective it's entirely optional

Monthly Archives: December 2010

After the storm

Well, so here we are again. Another full circle come, another year gone. As I sit here and think about everything that has transpired, I realize I actually do not remember very much about the year, and the memories have all blurred in on one another, this year more than the last, so much so that I don’t even know whether to call this year a good or a bad one. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been so busy shutting out as much noise and dissent as possible that everything else just got tuned out altogether, or because I haven’t spent as much time registering and absorbing everything as I usually do.

So maybe it was a numbing year.

Nevertheless, it is the last day of the year. When I think back (with a great deal of help from my blog archives) to all the highs, lows, the good times, the bad times, the awesome times, the awful times, the mistakes, the milestones, and the many, many lessons, it’s no wonder I’ve become muddled up with everything that has happened this year. With all the people I’ve met, the things I’ve done, and the mistakes and choices I’ve made, it’s amazing I’m still standing, albeit with that many more chips on both my shoulders.

But the new year dawns tomorrow, and with that the hopes for an improved lot in life, for new (and old) dreams to be fulfilled, and for that step closer to what I’ve been hoping to achieve these last few years.

Happy New Year!

Surprise, surprise, Afhamio!

After a month of planning, Facebook invitations and messages (one of the few things Facebook is actually good for), endless BBMs (“Who is BBMing you at 3AM?”) and calls (“Why is Angah suddenly calling you?”), Afham’s 27th birthday surprise finally happened.

The good thing is that he was born on Christmas Eve, so all the restaurants are just raring to help with the planning of a big private party. The bad thing is that he was born on Christmas Eve, so all the restaurants are also raring to make sure that they don’t lose out on any business by calling and prompting you for a deposit and confirmation on the number of guests as early as two weeks in advance.

After deliberating over which restaurant to hold this do, I went with Eza’s suggestion of doing it at Top Hat. This worked out very well because the restaurant is a converted bungalow on Persiaran Stonor, away from the Christmas barbarism that is Bukit Bintang (which still couldn’t diminish the problem of finding a parking spot because I was made to park on the street). And despite being persistent and annoying with the reminders, the staff were very helpful in putting together a buffet dinner in a private room to accommodate our number (final tally: 21).

And to top it all off, Afham got a Nike Air Force 1 DJ Clark Kent cake specially made by Raindough Desserts. It was a sign of how much he loved it that we were only allowed to eat the box it sat on (made to look like the Nike Air Jordan Retro Silver 25th Anniversary packaging), and to this day it sits in our refrigerator intact, save for the heel that I made him part with in order to give Eza and Aziah their share.

Looking back now, and even when I was looking at Afham with all his friends that night, at Top Hat and later Phuture, I remember wanting to do this for  him not only because he had a comparatively quiet birthday last year, but because with age comes life, and with life comes the difficulty of getting  together as often as we would like to. And so this birthday was my gift to him, a way for him to be with all his friends and just forget the trifles and burdens of life for one night.

And indeed, forget pretty much everything…

Happy Birthday baby!

Playing the Facebook part

Every few months I do a little cleanup of my Facebook friends list. I go through the list of people and deliberate over whether or not my absence from their friends list would be noticed, as it has been at least 8 years since we spoke and we would have nothing to talk about now. And then I decide that since they have 883 people on their list already they would never know when or how it went down to 882. So I remove them from my list, in an attempt to keep it restricted to people I have personally met and actually spoken to.

Then I wonder, Have I really met that many (current tally: 454) people in my lifetime? And if I get rid of a good 20 people every few months, does that mean I’ve actually met more than 500 people in all my born days? And if, according to TNS Research, I know extremely few people by Malaysian standards, is it really possible for some to have known as many as 3087 (and counting) people in their lives? It’s no wonder they end up developing those bizarre Facebook habits we see and eventually have to hide; it must be exhausting having to keep up with so many other people who are simultaneously promoting the color of their underwear and ingredients of their lunch-hour sandwiches.

After reading the results of the TNS survey, which state that ‘Malaysians have the most buddies in online social networks’ — half of whom I’ll wager they don’t even know, a very disturbing fact in and of itself — I have to wonder if this curious knack for collecting ‘friends’ is somehow related to the same mental disorder/national epidemic that has people excessively self-promoting on Facebook — even going so far as to incriminate themselves when they’re malingering, creating false occupations and engaging in very public warfare. Is this some form of self-validation or self-gratification that makes them feel the need to be known, liked or even taken notice of, thus breeding the insincerity and patronizing behavior that are so often mistaken for friendliness? And is this what fuels the love for partying, dressing up and going out to be seen — channeling the Western culture, so to speak — that this country is so notorious for? It would appear so, if the numerous photo albums splashed across Facebook while nursing hangovers the next day are anything to go by.

The disturbingly unanswerable question is: Why do people do this? In this day and age of staggeringly advanced technology, where whole identities can be conjured online and nobody would be the wiser, are we simply trying to appear better than what we really are, and if so, to what end? When all the adulation has been soaked up and wrung dry, what else is there left to sell but ourselves, just the way we are?

The first resolution

I’ve never subscribed to the idea of making New Year’s resolutions. I always saw it as a way of setting oneself up for failure and disappointment when the resolutions can’t be met, and eventually, when we see that we’ve set a bar for ourselves to do so much that we can’t, we end up not wanting to even do less, and just doing nothing at all.

Last week, a man interviewing me for a job told me that he has been following my blog, and even pointed out that he noticed I’ve been writing since 2004, which puts me in the ‘pioneering’ group of bloggers — a fact I cannot attest to because I don’t know how long bloggers have really been around. He also said that it was a great thing to be writing, to have that level of curiosity which drives a person to pursue a certain issue to such great depths and then present it in their own way — another fact I cannot attest to because I write about mostly personal, and not worldly, issues.

His statements, however flattering, got me thinking about all the writing I’ve been doing and how it has evolved and varied over the years. And I was once again reminded of how little I’ve been writing this year, partly due to the disillusionment of having certain undesirable followers and partly due to the lack of energy to actually chronicle everything that I’ve been thinking, feeling and observing. What I initially passed of as writer’s block had, in fact, become a form of self-reservation. That realization made me wonder why I’ve gone against my principles and held back so much this year, when I used to be as open and opinionated as I liked, and why I’ve turned into this weak, mealy-mouthed ninny who’s taken into account what a few narcissistic nonentities think of what she has to say.

So, for quite possibly the first time in my life, I’m making a sort-of resolution (besides getting a new job, which is something I promise myself all year round) — whether for the new year, old year or anywhere in between — to come back out of this shell and start writing more. If nothing else, I figure that rather than have all my anger, and recently resurfaced bitterness and cynicism, snowball into one long tirade, it’s better to have it more evenly distributed.

Reaching to settle

“As bad as either one is, I would rather be the settler. It would be mortifying to know that in striving to be the reacher, he would have as good as settled for me.” – Becca

It’s a question we always ask ourselves: what do we want in a partner? There are those who want a pair of alluring eyes to wake up to in the morning, or a voice like James Ingram’s to answer the phone to. There are those who want a trusting, loyal heart to rely on, a glass-blowing wit to banter with, or an unpredictable spontaneity to be excited about. And then there are those who are just content to take whatever comes their way and hope for the best.

When it comes to relationships, is it better to settle for what we have and do our best to make it work, or to search tirelessly and reach for the closest that we can get to our completely unrealistic perception of the ‘perfect person’? As it is there is no such thing as the perfect person — the search for which I likened to the extermination of cockroaches — so when we try our vainest to locate this elusive commodity, we are indirectly setting ourselves up for failure because no matter how perfect they seem, there will always be something that isn’t quite the way we want it. They may have the exterior of Adonis and the bottomless pockets of King Solomon, but lack the ambition of even the most common paperboy.

But when we convince ourselves to be content with the person we already have and just work our damnedest to make the best of it, how do we remain happy with them in the long term? We are so exhausted from extricating ourselves from one failed relationship after another that in the end, we are just grateful to have someone who, even after several years, still seems to be the only one willing to volunteer for the job. And yet, in the end, when we can no longer ignore the flaws and have to accept that they will always be there, how can we bring ourselves to up and abandon the only kind of normal relationship we have ever known?

When I was younger (i.e. stupider and more idealistic), I was prepared to search and wait for what I thought would be the right, if not perfect, person for me. And so I waited, I hoped, and I brought myself so far below the point of humility and dignity that I began to fear that even if it worked out the way I wanted, I would always wonder if he was secretly second-guessing his decision to be with me. That was when I realized that if I were reaching so far beyond my means and actually succeeded, he would merely be settling for me because I was the only one willing to claw the air for him.

And now, having hit the age of 26 five days ago and still being nowhere near where I hoped I would be at 26, I realize that life is too short to be wimmeling around in the haystack, and that in the end, it’s always better to be grateful for what has been given to us, because it’s what we make of it that matters the most. It may be a form of settling, but it still requires a great deal of reaching.