Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"A Call For Truce"

O Night, cursed be you, for yours is a scheme most vile—
Were your offenses to be numbered, the list would run a mile;
The Book of Mem'ries isn't meant to be read for pleasure,
Yet on the stage of dreams you dealt it out as hard measure...
You turned loss into a love scene, as only a jester could;
You rejuvenated hope, but that doesn't mean you should!
Love is gone, don't you know? it's time to take your last bow
We were there, remember? We can't ever go back now.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Hapless in dreams

I hate dreaming lately.

To put things in perspective, what I really hate is waking up to find what I thought was real when it happened was actually a dream.

Dreams are a cruel machine the better they get. There wasn't any signs or banners in the dream that warns against emotional investments. And you always find out the truth a second too late. And like lovers who steal your heart along with your money, the best cons always manage to vanish and keep you swooning over their acts despite the fact that you're left with nothing but your socks and the memory of a cheap thrill.

Nonetheless, though I hate to admit it, heartbreaking dreams have a place in the cognitive process.

They remind you that though it might seem like you own the world, it could all be gone in an instant, and that you're fundamentally powerless in the greater scheme of things.

Don't like the sound of it? Nobody I know does, myself included. That's why I guess it's all the more important that we're reminded that every single day, lest we take for granted the simplest of things that usually mean the most to us.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are you a philosopher?

I met a Frenchman today and expressed to him my fascination with Paris. He encouraged me to visit his country with the following reason.

According to him, in France an average man gets to have seven women, and often five of them are knockouts and the other two are plain ugly.

He then wittily offered to confer two of his ugly ones to me out of goodwill. I told him if that was the case I believe I might just find the ugly ones beautiful by my standards (like there is such a thing as ugly Frenchwomen). The man expressed his touché by raising his hands and eyebrows as only the French could do, and said, "Are you a philosopher?"

Oui monsieur, comme vous, je pense à de belles femmes toujours.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Love gets dated

Who needs this day right?

Tell me the meaning of Valentine's Day. You gotta set a day in the year aside for birthdays. Celebrating it any other day won't do. Same goes for memorial days like Australia Day and Anzac Day, lest we forget. But a Valentine's Day? Do we really need a set day in the year to celebrate our love—in whichever sense you take it? Love is the only thing you can't have an anniversary of. If it's ever there, love is too large and too close a presence to need reminding, and too pragmatic to get exclusive attention only one day in a year.

I'll tell you what Valentine's Day is for. It's for those who can't decide on when to celebrate their love—if they haven't already realized there isn't a single day when you shouldn't celebrate. It's also for those who want, for at least a day, to forget love. Love in it's truest, day-in-and-day-out sense. Without February 14th, most people would probably lose the only chance they have of being treated the way they aren't treated the rest of the year... like getting expensive boxes of chocolates wrapped up in glossy ribbons, receiving scented cards written with notes on feelings and good opinions, or walking on rose-petaled hallways.

In a word, pampered.

Love on the rest of the days is hard work and stripped of pretense. You see the other person in their realest form and most of the time it leaves much to be desired. The sad part of it all is that you know you're stuck with an imperfect person when you're secretly gauging them against ever-increasing standards. I for one am a perfectionist, and therefore do not condemn the desire for perfection. I believe we're made for perfection. That's what I believe Valentine's Day is for. To create a fleeting illusion of perfection in the other person through royal treatments.

Why don't we do what we do on Valentine's Day everyday? A culture that makes a day for love will soon need to make appointments to love.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Love gets old

Good thing about eating in public is you can listen in on some of the most interesting conversations.

This afternoon I was sitting next to two chatty young girls munching my Filet-o-fish burger and leaving the earphones of my iPod on in pause mode to obscure the fact that I was blatantly eavesdropping (though the volume at which they conversed did save me the trouble of straining my ears). And boy! the things they talked about could shame a grown man into shrink-wrapping his high school yearbook.

When I was making acidic comments in my mind on each silly thing I heard, I knew my transformation into an old fart has come full circle. I no longer root for Andrew the ex, who thinks Matt is no good for the girl. I don't trust Matt either, who shared dessert on a first date that wasn't an official date anyway. And when Matt still attends his ex's family reunion, I wondered why people don't turn into old farts any sooner.

Looks like the dating scene still hasn't changed since my time. The young are the easiest to fall in love. Just as easily as they fall out of it. What remains is the reminiscent old fart who wonders about possibilities. I think it would be wrong to say that he wishes to relive the past differently. The old fart is someone who's pretty comfortable soaking in the bittersweetness of life, being well aware that whatever choices he could have made, he's bound to live with regrets either way. Rather than sulking over what befalls, he's the happiest when he realize he's actually enjoying the torture of not knowing it both ways. C'est le mystère de la vie.

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Musings on a blue Chinese New Year

As family and friends are celebrating the arrival of Year of the Rat (you gotta love the Chinese for including a rodent among the signs in their calendar), I'm quietly tugged away in a far corner from home where festivity is underway.

The blues have long been anticipated since I found out a month ago that my housemates will be flying home for Chinese New Year, leaving me Melbournebound for 3 weeks.

Just when I was beginning to enjoy having the house all to myself, I was visited by old memories in the form of an early autumn night's dream in the middle of Week 1. To protect the privacy of innocent parties involved, let's just say I dreamed of a love interest from the past and was living out an alternate version of reality until sunrise.

The dream was so vivid it left me as loathsome in the morning as a pregnant hyena. To think of all the efforts I've put into rearranging related memories according to Jungian archetypes throughout the years, they finally retaliated and showed me a demo reel of the director's cut. Naturally, it gave rise to questions that begin with "what if..."

What if I made a different decision at some crucial point in history, would things have turned out differently now?... Oh brother... this is a time when I wish I were a hyena—at least hyenas don't ask hypothetical questions! But then again I guess hyenas don't experience reveries on an autumn night either.

That's not to say that I'm accustomed to living off relationship carcasses from the past. OK maybe I am. But if you know my personal history you'll wonder. I wish I have a penny every time I'm asked a variation of "Have you found someone yet?" Brothers and sisters everywhere, to satisfy your spirit of inquiry and end all curiosity toward my love life or even my sexual orientation, let me answer your question once and for all with the title of U2's song, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For".

To end the concern of some and maybe disappoint others, no I'm not gay. But I'm not in love either. That might be hard to believe for a man my age (I'm going on 30 in the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar) and erm... virility (contrary to misconceptions propagated by my boy scout image, I do experience hormonal drives). It is common that polite society cannot fathom such a sub-species as healthy single heterosexual males, at least not as a constant life form in no need of further enhancements through pairing with their female counterparts.

Don't get me wrong if you think I'm not looking. Just ask my housemates how I have pushed the envelope of being desperate in the past... though I operate on a highly selective mode and rarely show my hands, to borrow betting terms.

Maybe that's my problem. Probability dictates that success rate increases with the increase of the number of throws (or so the casino would have you believe). I detest the idea of leaving up my love life to random phenomena, therefore I fold, untie my bow tie, and help myself with a glass of whisky at the bar.

I am the missing link in the human cultural evolution—a single man who thrives amidst survival of the couples.

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Friday, February 08, 2008

The lazybone-paranoid's guide to living alone (Part 2)

  1. Check your mailbox daily to avoid important letters being left out in the weather. Getting rid of spams could leave an impression of constant activity around the house. Overfilled/unattended bins do the opposite.
  2. When you're out having fun, leave a light on where it can easily be seen from the street. Give a spare key to a trusted friend or the designated driver.
  3. Bolt the door first thing when you get into the house, even if it's likely that you'll leave the house later in the evening. Plans could change and it's common for friends to stand each other up.
  4. Always put emergency calls on the top of your phone's speed dial.
  5. If you're getting picked up by a taxi from home, always give your next-door neighbour's address and wait outside their house.
  6. If you live in a townhouse or ground-level apartment, shut all windows save those in your bedroom before going to bed.
  7. When walking home, circle around the block twice if you suspect stalker activity. If it's after dark, pretend to call a friend and that you're expecting them at home. Ask something like how far away they are so that the person you suspect can hear you. If needed, pretend to repeat your mate's reply that they're there already and say you're just a minute away.
  8. Assign a wash day for whites and another for colours. 'Nuff said.
  9. Unless you have a dryer, wash your favourite work clothes on Friday night to make room for bad weather over the weekend.
  10. Stock up the pantry on candy/muesli bars and always keep a couple in the bag as rations.

The lazybone-paranoid's guide to living alone (Part 1)

  1. Save the movies on your hard drive for when Internet in down and you can't stream off YouTube.
  2. Turn up the music in your room and leave the bathroom door open so you can sing to your favourite song in the shower without fear of voyeuristic housemates.
  3. Never cook for just one meal. Prepare extra portions and keep them clingwrapped in the fridge for when you're hungry but don't feel like cooking. They usually make good packed lunch / snack at work.
  4. Always keep a green bag in your slingbag/suitcase. You never know when it would come in handy when you need to take a trip to the grocer's after work. Environmental issues aside, it makes for a more durable and less clumsy carry than plastics.
  5. Always hang up two ironed shirts of tangential colours in the closet for when you sleep in. That way you buy time and reduce the chances of wearing something that looks like what you've worn the day before.
  6. Unless you have easy access to a power source or a second charger at work, charge your phone/iPod the night before. If your iPod's battery level goes below 20% let it play out an hour or two before you hit the sack and charge it only after the battery's flat to maximize battery life.
  7. If you don't shave everyday take out the batteries of your electric shaver to avoid damage from battery leakage.
  8. Keep extra rolls in your toilet(s) in case you're stuck to the seat realizing that you run out and it's impossible to reach for one.
  9. Drop off rented movies at the store a day before they are due. Penalties can add up and you don't want your membership suspended the week your favourite movie is released on DVD.
  10. Keep two distinct perfume scents for when you're wearing a shirt from the day before out of desperation. At least you smell different.