Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just being there.

Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot – peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

–William Stafford


The Gift

Time wants to show you a different country. It's the one
that your life conceals, the one waiting outside
when curtains are drawn, the one Grandmother hinted at
in her crochet design, the one almost found
over at the edge of the music, after the sermon.

It's the way life is, and you have it, a few years given.
You get killed now and then, violated
in various ways. (And sometimes it's turn about.)
You get tired of that. Long-suffering, you wait
and pray, and maybe good things come - maybe
the hurt slackens and you hardly feel it any more.
You have a breath without pain. It is called happiness.

It's a balance, the taking and passing along,
the composting of where you've been and how people
and weather treated you. It's a country where
you already are, bringing where you have been.
Time offers this gift in its millions of ways,
turning the world, moving the air, calling,
every morning, "Here, take it, it's yours."


Been treating myself to snippets of William Stafford poetry here and there - odd contemplative moments of peace in the rush of my day. Busy, so busy but happy too. Life is good, has meaning even in the tiredness that drains strength from my body at the end of the day. The day is good when you collapse into bed and have that delicious instant when your tired muscles and bones just liquefy before the dark reaching fingers of sleep take you into their embrace.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NYT article - When restriction becomes freedom

It could be that sometimes our greatest freedom may be to choose freedom from freedom. I am still surprised by the relief that floods me whenever I bind myself from going online, when I have no option but to ignore the incessant tweets and e-mail messages and videos and news links and even the legitimate research.

I’m not wishing the Internet away. It has become so integral to my work — to my life — that I honestly can’t recall what I did without it. But it has allowed us to reflexively indulge every passing interest, to expect answers to every fleeting question, to believe that if we search long enough, surf a little further, we can hit the dry land of knowing “everything that happens” and that such knowledge is both possible and desirable. In the end, though, there is just more sea, and as alluring as we can find the perpetual pursuit of little thoughts, the net result may only be to prevent us from forming the big ones.

Link to the full article from the NYT here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

today last year

In the next month, two more of my friends will leave Singapore for good and I'm more than a little sad.

Don't quote hoary cliches at me about how other people will come into your life. I don't care. I'm going to miss those guys so much.

Today last year or any day last year,I would probably be out having tea with Z, one of my closest friends in the world. We wound up working for the same company and he and I used to sneak out to have coffee at least 3 times a week. Or he'd come over to my desk to chat and eat chocolate. Or we'd call each other on the office line and giggle together about stuff. He hugged me when I cried because I got scolded. I hugged him when his life was going slightly mad as well.

When I listened to this song earlier in the week,I thought of Z and all those times we had just hanging out and knew that I'd miss those quiet happy times.



It's nearly November and nearly 12 months since I last set foot in Australia. There have been titanic shifts in my life since and for most of this year, I just felt like I was clutching at rails, handles, straws - anything around me that seem stable in a quaking world.

This blog has gotten ... more biblical in the last months and it's a partial reflection of one of the biggest changes in my life. Sorry folks, but this change in programming is permanent. I'm not some progressive libertarian, I'm not some open minded chick comfortable with the moral and ethical relativism of this world. I'm not and I don't want to act like I am.

Saw this on Tim Challies' blog and thought, well yes - this is pretty much it:

"I am...

* Christian - I affirm that Jesus is my Lord and Saviour.
* Protestant - I affirm the five "solas" of the Reformation.
* Reformed - I affirm the doctrines of grace - principles known to some as Calvinism.
* Evangelical - I believe the gospel (which is the original and truest meaning of "evangelical")."


"God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. "

Monday, October 19, 2009

IV - Winter

It's a season associated with lack: of life, warmth and light, but living in a land of farmers for so long taught me this - that the winter cold and precipitation is as crucial for the land as the heat of summer.

A winter of the soul need not be a season of discontent - fie on Shakespeare! - but a time of quietude and waiting, essential for healing and growth. One cannot hear it, cannot see it but one has to have faith - in the things unseen - that under the frozen ground, the flowers of Spring lie waiting for warmth and birth.

In our culture of instant gratification, the idea of waiting is now alien. It is therefore humbling for us to be made to wait gently through winter, to know that one cannot hurry Spring, or force the sun and moon out of their courses. More than it teaches us patience, it teaches us our place: that we are not the be all and end all, that Spring will take her own sweet time to show herself and finally, that waiting can build faith, patience, hope and love.

Just the one poem today - oh, easily the best poem I've read all year - the way it's been constructed, every stanza aching into the next is just beautiful. It isn't hopeful and it wasn't written by a hopeful man. But unlike the confessional poets of later years, with Wallace Stevens, one can only guess at what kind of secret misery could drain his world of all hope and meaning.

The Snow Man

By Wallace Stevens

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

But in the end, we are all waiting - not for spring - but for this:

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Snippets - kill the guy

A: So who do you think is responsible for the rise of anti intellectualism in the church today?

B: I blame Kierkegaard!

C(walking over): Huh? What? Kill the guy? Kill what guy?

A (in between laughter): Yeah they should've killed the guy.


A: So what's Kant's basic thesis?

B: That we Kant know .....


I love bad jokes. Oh dear.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thoughts from a 25-35 year old

I really needed to laugh today and this helped a little. It's from here via here.

Thoughts from a 25-35 year old

-I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

-More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.

-Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

-I don't understand the purpose of the line, "I don't need to drink to have fun." Great, no one does. But why start a fire with flint and sticks when they've invented the lighter?

-Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going? But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.

-I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

-Is it just me, or are 80% of the people in the "people you may know" feature on Facebook people that I do know, but I deliberately choose not to be friends with?

-Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft. (Didn't play Nintendo)

-There is a great need for sarcasm font.

-Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what was going on when I first saw it.

-I think everyone has a movie that they love so much, it actually becomes stressful to watch it with other people. I'll end up wasting 90 minutes shiftily glancing around to confirm that everyone's laughing at the right parts, then making sure I laugh just a little bit harder (and a millisecond earlier) to prove that I'm still the only one who really, really gets it. (cf How I met your mother, when Ted makes Robin watch Star Wars)

-How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet? (I actually know this one)

-I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

- I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

-The only time I look forward to a red light is when I’m trying to finish a text.

- A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.

- LOL has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say". (I just type ellipses when I have nothing to say or when something has rendered me speechless)

- I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

- Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.

- Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".

- How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?

- I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!

- Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies"

-What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?

- While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and I instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.

- MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

- Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

- I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.

-Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

-I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

- Bad decisions make good stories

-Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if I do!

- Is it just me or do high school girls get sluttier & sluttier every year? (probably, but I've been too tired to notice)

-If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.

-Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem.... (I think I got my own name wrong before)

-You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day. (Happens all the time)

-Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.

-There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

-I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to. (Try that on a 25 page affidavit....)

- "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.

-I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There's so much pressure. 'I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?'

-I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Dammit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

- I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

-When I meet a new girl, I'm terrified of mentioning something she hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.

-I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.

-Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...

- As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.

-Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is. (Usually when I'm tired ...)

-It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.

-I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call. (I also save them as "XYZ - do not answer" in case I forget who they are)

-Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what do to with it. (I do... heh)

-Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, hitting the G-spot, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I’d bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time...

-My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the hell do I respond to that?

-It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on and the link takes me to a video instead of text.

-I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Random Hens and other eggs


Neil Gaiman had a perfect day and my goodness, how I would love to live in that house! A tower and trees all around - I should so not be living in this place. Girls and boys, I want rivers, empty beaches, trees, green wide heart lifting SPACES.


Jack Kerouac's Rules of Spontaneous Prose:

(From here)

1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
4. Be in love with yr life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven


The Uses of Sorrow

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

- Mary Oliver

Monday, October 5, 2009

Night's candles are burnt out

Dear world,

Today I’m the girl crouching at the cliff edge, wrapped in a coat and watching the waves. The day is grey, the sea is grey and it seems that all colour has leached out of the world. There are questions unanswered and sometimes it seems as though laughter is some a faraway memory, a golden echo from an age long past.

Oh, I’m blue today so hold my hand, world, and tell me things will be better tomorrow. Send me a rainbow, a flower, a sparrow in the midst of grey, send me a little wonder so I’ll remember that life is good and full of joy.

Remind me that peace comes rarely and that – despite the present weariness – this really is a time of peace. Remind me that I have friends who love me, who're there. Most of all remind me of the Shepherd who guards me and guides me still.

Dear World. Remind me that when night's candles are burnt out and the larks sing, I will wake to a new day and there will be time to sit by a roaring fire and rest. There is no fatal journey to Mantua, no poisoned chalice, no dagger awaits. Those stories are past are past and this is a new one, a new chapter.

Mehldau today - he's darkly exultant in this one - but then I'm in a dark place for the moment so here it is.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

III - 秋

中秋 is my one of favourite festival of all chinese festivals.

A long time ago, my family would gather at my Ah gong's house every中秋. So much noise, merriment and childhood fun was had running around his frontyard, lantern in hand, facsinated yet afraid of the candles and nervously writing glow letters with fizzing sparklers while the "grown up people" sat and drank tea.

My grandfather died the year I turned 18 and the celebrations stopped then but every year I look up at the fat smiling moon and take a minute to remember him and indulge in nostalgia for times past.

Autumn is a time for harvest, for gathering the fruit of what we've sown and for watching the world flame with colour - orange, sienna, gold, red, vermilion against grapy sunsets of dusky purple-red clouds. It's a time like no other, to celebrate colour and life, a time to enjoy the fruit of summer's labour.

But also a time for taking stock: looking at the seasons past,weighing to see if it has been time well spent, if the work done in summer was good, was enough.

A good time then,to remind myself of the importance of discipline and work. The fruits of autumn may only be gathered by those diligent in the Spring and Summer and so the musical and dance lessons and practice times must be strictly kept, the studies must must get done and in general, one's nose must be kept to the grindstone.

A poem by Su Shi below, reminding us of the preciousness of this moment where life is good and the moonlight floods the sleeping world.

Then Keats on the ripe summer spilling into a bountiful, rich autumn - autumn in cahoots with the gentle old sun to bring abundance into the world.

Finally, my favourite version of this jazz standard so far - listened to 5 of 'em before posting up this one. Go youtube the Nat King Cole, Eva Cassidy and Keith Jarrett ones too but Stan Getz stole my heart with his melancholic unadorned walk through "Autumn Leaves". Richness without fanfare,simplicity with shaded emotion. Lovely.



"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells."
- John Keats, To Autumn