Category Archives: or lack thereof

occupied

it’s been a long time since i’ve felt the need to unload my thoughts and feelings here on this blog in the hopes to garner sympathy and interaction with the 5 people who still check on me once in awhile.

this is because months of putting myself out there, making an effort to meet new people, try new things, get out of my comfort zone of surfing the net and watching movies with “gang” during my free time has paid off – after 28 years of overcoming self-esteem issues and coming to grips with my deficiencies and acknowledging that only God can give me the capacity to love and accept people without expecting anything in return, after facing the very real possibility that i will go through life without a partner, God decides to bless me with someone who loves me and is there to listen to me say the things i used to put into writing.

it’s a strange experience, mostly because i reached a point where i was content with being single and willing to “rent” that extra space i saved for someone special to anyone else who needs it, in addition to whatever room i’ve already set aside for them. it’s a learning process because i now have another major priority in my life, one that i’ve never had to make a priority before. it was a point of contention between us and i had to work hard to remember that he’s more important than certain things and people i’ve included in my life to fill up that space i mentioned earlier before i met him.

i’m grateful that he understands there are certain things i do not compromise and he respects my beliefs even if he doesn’t share them. i do my best to do the same.

perhaps the greatest lesson i’ve learned from these 2 months is that i’ve been more selfish than i’d like to believe and that it’s stemmed from the acceptance that i’m destined to live my life for myself; that the service i provide is, in the end, a means to validate my choices in career and friendships and nothing more. it’s made me repent again for thinking i’m doing it to glorify God while in reality my intentions have been corrupted to be self-serving instead.

and when there’s someone else in my life, someone who considers me an important part of his world, the motivations that shape my actions need to change and i should question the motivations that have driven me before as well.

it’s ironic that falling in love with someone without a so-called socially acceptable belief system has made me believe and rely on God even more. it goes beyond the hope that he will one day know Christ the way i do or the need for guidance on how to bring the relationship forward .

it’s shaken me out of a rut and challenged me more than i’ve ever been challenged before – to stick to something i believe in, to encourage and love someone i believe in, to understand that i don’t live for myself anymore…and it all requires a strength and courage that comes from a God who has overcome death.

impersonal

technology has made relationships far too easy and impersonal.

you go someplace, you meet someone. you add them on facebook and exchange bloody instant messages over the bad excuse for a chat service called messenger for a couple of days before you finally give up your cellphone number. then, you proceed to send even more text messages with smileys that do very little to convey your actual emotions until someone decides it’s time to meet. and when you do meet, you realise the other person is insufferable without an electronic device to hide behind and the time required to compose a witty sms is crucial in portraying a character that does not really reflect who you are.

you comb the person’s profile, blog, tumblr, instead of utilising actual face time (not of the apple variety) to get to know what he/she is like. you think whatever you’ve put on yours is sufficient to give them an idea of who you are. you assume they’ve looked through your profile. you hope they have.

it’s so convenient isn’t it? to just go by whatever’s virtual and already “out there” and think that it’s enough. it’s such an integral part of relationships in this decade that we have forgotten there is a human aspect to things. what we “like” on social media isn’t representative of what we would spend time on or really love. your views on life and religion and politics and the future are so much more important than the pages you like or the personalities you follow or the photos you take.

technology just makes things so much more superficial. meaningless. an absolute waste of time and effort.

i think i need to stop for awhile, unplug and be a hermit. 2 months without a proper break has taken its toll on me. once the post-elections euphoria and training has died down, once the flattery wears off, once i go back to saying “no” – even at the risk of losing potential new friends and pulling the brakes on the resolution to put myself out there. there’s a momentum that needs to be kept up but seriously, i’m starting to feel it.

on a lighter note, my 3 favourite american boys put together a series called “technology ruins romance” a couple of years ago. here‘s one that’s relevant to this post. enjoy!

never been cheaper

it’s been a couple of disorientating weeks.

after a lifetime of feeling like i’m not good enough, i’m showered with the kind of flattery a fat nerd like me could ever dream of when i was 16. it’s a shame i’m now alot older and possess some insight. if i were 16, i’d have drawn confidence from those words, texts, from the body language. i’d have naively expected the world. instead, i believe maybe half of what’s been said was actually sincere. everything else had motive. everything else was meant to throw me off.

everything else meant nothing.

in a world where inflation is a rule and there’s never enough cash, we can find comfort in the fact that one thing will continually and reliably deflate in value – words. they’ve never been cheaper.

optical tango

i looked into the windows of 17 souls last night.

they belonged to strangers with whom i had no prior contact other than the handshake and nervous exchange of names seconds before we sat down and looked into each others’ eyes. the clanging of a cocktail shaker indicated the end of 60 seconds of quiet gazing and, after a burst of inevitable laughter, the line moved right onto an encounter with another pair of unfamiliar eyes.

it was an exercise tyra banks would certainly approve of. 17 attempts to get smizing down pat and perhaps mesmerize someone enough to come back and strike up a conversation outside the awkward non-staring and irresistible face-making. that’s the premise of eye-gazing, a silent speed-dating concept that first emerged a couple of years ago in – where else? – new york.

i had the privilege of attending the very first one in kl last night, organised by a couple of guys who seem to enjoy putting together unconventional parties at hip joints in the city. it wasn’t something i would normally go for, especially since i don’t already know any of the participants or even the hosts for that matter, but i’m in the midst of renovating a couple aspects of my life and what could be more un-lishun-like than an evening of optical tango?

optical tango. good lord. i’ve run out of alternative ways to describe eye-gazing. gonna stop consulting the thesaurus before things become any more cheesy.

so. eye-gazing. it was harder and alot more exhausting than i imagined it would be. first of all, we’re generally not a culture that embraces eye-contact or any form of body language, much less in a setting that’s supposed to be aimed at encouraging attraction.

secondly, and most disturbingly, i had trouble deciding what to do with everything from the eyes downwards. do i smile? how can i smile for a minute without it turning into a snarl (which, unfortunately, my smiles tend to go)? do i keep my lips pursed? should i show teeth? if i swallow will it be mistaken for…something else? what if i yawn? do i sit forward? relax towards the back? put my hands out? cross my legs? uncross my legs? what?

the gazing did eventually become easier. while the initial minutes felt like an eternity, the last ones went by rather pleasantly and i guess everyone was surprised by how much more relaxed we became after a few. gazes. after a few gazes and a few of everything else too, i’m sure!

it became pretty obvious by the end of the night that most of the participants were, like me, there out of curiosity and not in the pursuit of love. at the end of the second round of gazing, i felt as though i was participating in a team-building activity at the company retreat. perhaps one or two guys were actively out to pull, but everyone else seemed content with just making it through the whole experience and gaining a few new contacts in the process.

so would i do it again? yes, but to be completely honest the next time it would be on the context of actually hoping to meet someone special there. it’s much too tiring an exercise for casual socialising. there’s no way to look right into a person’s eyes without investing a little into the gaze and to come away with merely an experience feels like being shortchanged.

there’s almost certainly going to be an episode two to this eye-gazing party thing. the post-event questionnaire sounds like there’s another one in the planning and already a colleague of mine has indicated his interest in taking part.

looks like optical tango is here to stay!

old age

“you meet someone, get engaged a year later, married 6 months after that…”
“isn’t that really fast?”

perhaps it’s old age speaking, but after the fancies of youthful naivete fades away, you realise it’s the big things that matter. not the flowers, the wining and dining, long walks on the beach. it’s how finances are managed, where careers are going, whether children are wanted, in what faith those wanted children are raised, rainy day plans, respect, integrity, patience. after the sacrifices and compromises, if some resemblance of love still remains…that’s all that’s needed, isn’t it?

when you’re younger, it takes a longer time to see the big picture. the complexities of life become clearer when there’s a debt to pay and the responsibility of aging parents to take on. you find there isn’t much time to spend on the frivolous aspects of courtship, that you’re lucky enough they even want to be near you and all your eccentricities, that they’re a keeper.

it doesn’t take 3 or 4 years to get there once you’re 28.

perhaps it’s old age.

true story

a single shot, because a double would be too overwhelming. carefully steamed milk. poured gently into the paper cup, just a little short of a cappuccino. a drizzle, a stroke and a lift. a secret smile before the plastic cover goes on. an utterance of gratitude…then she was gone.

the second cutest waiter took my order that day. he had a shock of curly hair and a gap between his front teeth, which he displayed with pride when he handed me my change. i sat in front of the monster of a coffee machine on the counter and watched the designated barista make my flat white to go. he ground theĀ (sumatran) beans, popped the resulting powder into the contraption, prepared the dairy component, then slowly assembled the drink before my eyes.

the whole time, i composed a story about a boy makes coffee for a regular at his cafe, a girl who first caught his attention with her cheerful demeanor whether he encounters her behind the cashier or as he hands her her order: flat white, no sugar. there was a time when she’d sit and read – one day ishiguro, another day rilke – but recently she’s kept her visits short. he missed handing her a ceramic cup instead of a paper one. he missed the smile on her face each time she saw the design etched into the frothed milk, the twinkle in her eye as she thanked him for the coffee.

he wanted to say more than “would you like to make that a double?” whenever she stepped into the store, but his courage failed him time and again. so as an outlet for his affections he laced her takeaways with latte art, drawn with the same precision required for display. hearts, ferns, animal faces, but mostly hearts. each one hidden by a plastic cover, unnoticed. until one day…

“here you go.”

my thoughts were interrupted by the barista who created my cup of coffee. he walked over to deliver my order. to my surprise it was left open, the cover by its side, to reveal the design on top.

it was a heart.

of song types

songs are what i listen to, almost to the exclusion of everything else. i don’t listen to classical music or jazz very often, and when people ask me what music i like, i find it very difficult to reply, because they usually want names of people, and i can only give them song titles. and mostly all i have to say about these songs is that i love them, and want to sing along to them, and force other people to listen to them, and get cross when these other people don’t like them as much as i do.
– from “31 songs” by nick hornby

“so…what’s your type?”

nick hornby is one of my favourite authors even though his novels are bloke-ish and cover man-boy topics like music, football and pop culture. i’ve read most of his work and own a couple of titles, but i’ve left “31 songs” on the shelves of departure lounge – a cafe i love – so i’d have something to go with my flat white, no sugar.

i knew i’d enjoy the book the moment i read the passage above. it resonates with how i view music or anything else that i find pleasure in – i like whatever sounds good and feels good. there is no way to pinpoint exactly what it is or explain why i like one song and not another even if they’re in similar styles or by the same artist.

likewise, i struggle whenever someone asks what my “type” is. they expect me to say “tall, dark and handsome” or “awkward hipster” or “sporty and mysterious” or something to that effect. but when i think about it, i can’t classify any of the boys i’ve “loved” – according to whatever definition of “love” i had at the time – into a neat category that would assist well-meaning friends and family in their efforts to change my relationship status.

these days, i offer the non-committal “oh i like normal guys” as a reply. that of course is a lie, but it’s the kind of answer that would get people off my back and save me the trouble of writing a novel explaining why i like one and not the other despite the latter having the most devastating smile ever. it’d also ward off that awful topic of being a reacher or a settler or whatever “sex and the city” and countless women’s magazines feed society in order to make us buy more stuff. i can then avoid discussing self-esteem issues which i’ve already come to terms with and be spared from reliving the pain of rejection. it makes people scoff and snort, but it also leaves them confused and reluctant to pursue it any further.

which is exactly what i want.

“my type? well…you are.”