Archive | April, 2009

What binds is inextricable

30 Apr

I used to be the queen of breaking ties. Because there will come a time when I’ve reached my absolute limits. When I’ve given everything I had until there was nothing left.

Then, when I know it must either end or get better, I end it and walk away. Friends or lovers become distant memories. I do all the agonising before and never after.

But I find, sometimes, that life has other ideas. God has other plans. The person I most want to avoid keeps appearing everywhere I go to the point I feel, in my self-deluded moments, that the universe is mocking my pain.

I ponder on this as one of my favorite people has a birthday coming up. And another, more recent acquaintance, has a birthday exactly a week before his. Both have met the other, but have pretty much just me in common.

The former, I remember how I kept wanting to bail and he would coax me right back. Friends don’t walk away from each other, he said. The latter, I don’t know. I take some of the blame for it, for allowing something to start knowing that if it turned ugly I would have to live with the repercussions unless I either moved out of the country or out of my industry. Neither two options are feasible right now so I suppose I really should have though it through in the first place. Or chose not to ignore all the warning bells and horrid pricking doubts.

Though I’ve managed to move on with the former, it’s back to square one with the latter. Do I really want to go through the pain, the uncertainties, the horrid slog, the emotional rollercoaster? With the first, at least we had so many shared memories. With the second, it’s just resonating interests and mental chemistry.

Friendships are things you work at just as much as romantic entanglements. It’s not about numbers, it’s not about just keeping in touch.

In the end, you must think about the people who matter most to you. And actually make it a point to show just how much you do care. Not necessarily every day, but in what ways you can. That’s why I celebrate birthdays because Happy Birthday really is just another way to say:

”I’m glad you came into this world. I’m lucky to have met you. I’m happy that you’re still here today.”

Happy birthday, monkeys.

Is Les Miserables the cure to my misery?

28 Apr

I love musicals but I have a confession:

I’d never listened to the Les Miserables soundtrack before Susan Boyle.

Quite an oversight, really, when I grew up listening to West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera. Why not Les Miserables? Because I found the backstory plain miserable. A convict on the run? A heartbroken prostitute? A maltreated orphan? I preferred my musicals of a much lighter vein, thanks.

But maybe I’ve changed. Or maybe I’m just dogged by this persistent sorrow that won’t go away. I’m just escaping into the music all day, every day. Much like when I was growing up in a home where singing was my only solace, music the only escape from the madness of my parents’ marriage.

Is it loneliness? Is it recurring depression? Is it just me feeling too much of everything the way I usually do? I don’t know. But I find myself listening to my favourite showtunes – As Long As He Needs Me (Oliver) and I Dreamed A Dream (Les Miserables) on repeat. Now my new obsession is Les Miserables’ Bring Him Home. It resonates with that dull ache I thought I’d put to rest last year. The terrible hollowness and painful longing to just go home. A permanent home where there is no more pain, no more loneliness, no more having to feel or care. Where there is peace. Where there is quiet.

I feel parched while in the middle of an oasis; why is the blackness returning even as I have good people around me and life, though not perfect, isn’t at all awful?

And I cling to Pratchett’s reminder that you do not die for a god: you live for one. Every day of my life.

 

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there
He is young
He’s afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.
He’s like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone.
Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy
You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live
If I die
Let me die
Let him live
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

Under Pressure

26 Apr

I admit that twice at work I almost burst into tears at my desk.

The first time was due to personal drama that came out of left field and upset me to the point I took refuge in my favourite Japanese restaurant. Unagi and sake are the next best thing to a shoulder to cry on. Rather than make a scene, I left the office promptly at lunch, ate, drank and sniffled into a napkin and then came back able to work. I don’t do emotional displays at the workplace though my ex-colleagues do know that when I’ve reached point break, I scare even my boss.

The second time, I was buckling under the strain of three accounts. Trying to do followups on one account, finish prepping for another account’s event the next morning and then a third account suddenly demanding attention NOW NOW NOW.

I was stressed to the point I could barely function. The thing is: I can be easily distracted but once I focus on something, I tune everything out and focus on it with laser intensity.

It’s a whole different ballgame from when I was an editor. My job was sorted with a tasklist and each task had priority queues. The tasks would be done in order and by priority. I would also make it clear that someone’s priority might not be mine and if he had issues with it…suck it up.

So now I have to be a bit more flexible and determine just how to manage all the things on my plate.

My line manager gave me advice: “Sometimes, it’s better to overcommunicate rather than not say enough.”

I have to be more clear about what I’m doing and what I need to get done. Even if someone wants something now, I’ll just have to justify why now is really not possible.

Another friend of mine is doing his best to play mentor. He told me “Just understand that rather than hand in a piece of crap work to meet a deadline, make sure you give in your best work even if it takes more time.”

Now, more than ever, I’m glad I have good people in my life who will take the time to listen to my woes and help me address my foibles.

Hopefully the next week will be better. I like my role. I love my colleagues. I just hate feeling lost, inadequate and rushed.

Time to find my own tempo instead of crying when I can’t hear the beat.

Leave me alone already

23 Apr

Once upon a time, a girl dated a guy. She really liked him. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough. Girl was me, if you need clarification.

It took me a month to get over him. I cried every other night, lost my appetite and couldn’t sleep.

I’m over it though I don’t feel like dating anyone for the next, I don’t know, FIVE YEARS?

But it hurts to get old scabs picked at. For old wounds to be reopened.

I don’t want to talk about, think about it or do anything. Besides cutting off all my hair and retiring to the Himalayas.

Am tired.

The dreams you must let go of

16 Apr

You’ve probably heard of Susan Boyle’s amazing rendition of the song I Dream A Dream. It’s not very polished but there’s a strength and sweetness to her voice that makes her rendition compelling.

Listening from a singer’s perspective, I find the song’s a challenging one to sing. It requires stellar breath support and a wide range. The song’s not for a light soprano – you’d need someone with a big, gutsy voice to do it well and yet be able to match the top notes. An alto might find the range a challenge but it fits quite well within the standard mezzo-soprano tessitura.

(Ruthie Henshall singing a beautiful version of it)

The song itself is one with a beautiful melody but lyrics that twist your gut. And well they should, for the character they were written for is as tragic a heroine as you could imagine. Les Miserables’s Fantine has a child out of wedlock, and finds herself abandoned by the child’s father who seduced her and then left.

She sacrifices so much to keep her child alive, enduring shame, hardship and work as a prostitute. Poor Fantine is a romantic victim of circumstance and in I Dream A Dream encapsulates all the hopeless heartache of having loved and finding that love was in vain and unrequited.

I’ve been where Fantine was. Loved to the point of oblivion, only to have it all sadly reduced to anguish and painful memories. Romantic love, I find, is a happy dream. But the dream doesn’t always end well or translate to real life. I’m not looking. I’ve stopped looking for the longest time. Sometimes I do get lonely and miss the comfort of a hand to hold, sweet nothings on the phone, cuddles and languishing together, speaking of everything and nothing at the same time. Maybe I’ll find that again. Maybe I won’t. For now, those moments are distant, bittersweet memories of times I cannot return to. But loss is but a cycle of life, one that’s inescapable and a truth as bitter as unrequited affection.

I’ll live.

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

There's no saving you

15 Apr

Sometimes, I don’t get you at all.

You love the thrill of the chase – getting that job, that girl, that deal.

But once you get what you think you want, you decide you don’t really want it all that much at all. You coast, giving as little as you can get away with or just casting it by the wayside. Just like a child with a new toy. So fickle, so covetous, so easily bored or distracted.

You could be so much more than that. You’re talented, smart and with a mind that can do so much with so little effort. But you’re so not into making an effort, aren’t you? You want instant gratification. You want everything, for next to nothing.

In some ways I’m just as fickle, flighty and allergic to exertion. Which is why, sometimes, I understand that part of the reason you’re where you are is because life has hurt you too much. You’ve dreamed – those dreams were dashed. You’ve loved – to find nothing but betrayal and disappointment.

Though you hurt me so bad, enough that I want to hurt you, I can’t. I don’t know why I care about you, baby. I want you to do more and be more. To live more.  But I can’t save you. I can’t change you. One thing’s life taught me is that the only person I can change is myself.

I can pray for you. I can still care, more than I ought. And why aren’t I just telling you all this, to your face, in a letter, in an email? Because, baby, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about you is that you’ve never been good at listening. Especially to words you don’t want to hear.

There's no saving you

15 Apr

Sometimes, I don’t get you at all.

You love the thrill of the chase – getting that job, that girl, that deal.

But once you get what you think you want, you decide you don’t really want it all that much at all. You coast, giving as little as you can get away with or just casting it by the wayside. Just like a child with a new toy. So fickle, so covetous, so easily bored or distracted.

You could be so much more than that. You’re talented, smart and with a mind that can do so much with so little effort. But you’re so not into making an effort, aren’t you? You want instant gratification. You want everything, for next to nothing.

In some ways I’m just as fickle, flighty and allergic to exertion. Which is why, sometimes, I understand that part of the reason you’re where you are is because life has hurt you too much. You’ve dreamed – those dreams were dashed. You’ve loved – to find nothing but betrayal and disappointment.

Though you hurt me so bad, enough that I want to hurt you, I can’t. I don’t know why I care about you, baby. I want you to do more and be more. To live more.  But I can’t save you. I can’t change you. One thing’s life taught me is that the only person I can change is myself.

I can pray for you. I can still care, more than I ought. And why aren’t I just telling you all this, to your face, in a letter, in an email? Because, baby, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about you is that you’ve never been good at listening. Especially to words you don’t want to hear.