Sunday, September 25, 2005

3 rainy days: 1994

“Any moment now.”

That’s what my brother used to say every time it poured.
And every time he said it, I’d let out a sigh and shake my head.

We had just seen Jurassic Park and since then, my brother would peek out the window, screaming at me to come quickly lest I miss it.

‘It’ being a full-sized male Tyrannosaurus Rex stomping through our neighbourhood, broad-siding cars as it went, setting off alarms, clipping the branches off trees with its giant bulk, and – my brother predicted – stopping momentarily to peer into our house with a calculating reptilian eye.

“They’re not reptiles," my brother would hasten to correct me.
"Reptiles are poikiothermic, which means they can’t generate their own body heat. Dinosaurs were homeothermic. We know that now from fossil evidence showing hearts capable of pumping….” And so on and so forth. My brother’s delusions were nothing if not detailed, fuelled by a rich diet of National Geographic articles and thick scholarly books by dinosaur paleontologists.

Initially, I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, whatever.”
This upset him greatly.
He would give me this look and scream “You don’t believe! That’s why it won’t come! You have to believe!” Then he would storm upstairs to his room, slamming the door.

My brother however, is very forgiving.
And the way I thought he was more than a little sad for believing, I think he thought I was more than a little sad for not.


When it rained something fierce, he would again shout frantically, arms flailing, “Quick! Quick!” He would move the curtain open just a seam, just a peephole’s width, and say it:

“Any moment now.”

And then a funny thing happened.
I started coming forward. Looking out into the rain.

Even today, when it pours, I look at skyscrapers from my place in the gridlock.
I look out from my house, hiding behind the curtain.
And I find myself keeping still.
Cos that’s what they said in the movie.
They can’t see you if you keep real still.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Movie review: Flightplan

Flightplan is actually the third movie in a row I've reviewed about peril and airplanes.
Funny, that.
Anyway, check it out.

Also, to everyone who commented on the last post, thank you.
I've taken it down cos it was always meant to be a small tribute, but I'm happy to see so many people who saw the event felt the same way.

Monday, September 19, 2005

3 rainy days: 1999

I think it’s a myth that blind people have a greater sensitivity to the world around them.
That they somehow know more about the world.
I think they just pay more attention.

When your world is dark, you see with your fingers.
And if you pay enough attention, if you surrender yourself to this new sight, you will be amazed how much you can perceive.
Your fingers will remember nooks, curves, clefts.
And your skin becomes a map that not only shows the territory travelled, it captures it.

The thousand kisses that rain down on you soak into your skin.
And suddenly, the storm is inside the room.
Swallowing you whole.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The natural

Connie is very young, but already she’s an incredible comedian. Her comic timing is perfect, her jokes unforced, and oh so spontaneous. Connie also has no idea how talented she is.

Which is why instead of her own show, Connie works as a nurse at my chiropractor.

About a year back, I had a back injury. Long story short, I compressed the discs at the L4 and L5 vertebrae (I love saying that) and had a hard time walking for a while. And so began my acquaintance with Connie.

Connie administers various treatments as per the doctor’s orders e.g. ultrasound therapy, lumbar traction, muscle stimulation (leave it). Most require a hands-on approach (leave it I said) and talking is a way to make the time pass.

Connie: Now you take off pants.
Me: Don’t you wanna get to know me first, Connie?
Connie: No. No time today. I got other guy to do after you.
Me: It’s all just a job to you isn’t it?
Connie: Yes. Quickly! Pants!

I drop my shorts, lay on my stomach, and Connie squirts cold electrode gel on my ass. Now this is purely scientific. This is muscle stimulation therapy. It’s to simulate the muscles in my lower back the way a workout would, but I can’t work out cos I’m injured. So Connie uses electricity.
Connie turns up the voltage a bit too fast and I feel the current like 400 hornets stinging my ass.

Me: Connie, it’s getting uncomfortable.
Connie: You want pillow?
Me: No, there’s too much current. It’s getting painful.
Connie: You can take pain. Other guy can take pain. You can take pain.
Me: Connie, you’re hurting me.
Connie: But only a while. 10 minute!

Some days, I get strapped into the traction machine.
You lie on your back, on a device that looks like a narrow bunk (like on a train or submarine) but is actually an electric version of the rack they used on prisoners in the Bastille.

Connie puts a stool under my knees so I look like a dead spider with my legs in the air. She then straps me in. Tight. I mean, she puts one leg on the bed for leverage and pulls on the fucking strap like she’s hauling supplies up Mount Everest. I felt I should say something before my diaphragm imploded.

Me: Connie, it’s very tight.
Connie: Tight then only good. Must tight.
Me: Do you treat all men like this?
Connie: I just follow doctor. Doctor she say do you tight (turns to leave).
Me: Wait, where are you going?
Connie: Don’t worry, I come very fast. Now I go see other man.

And I’m paying 80 bucks a session for this.

Monday, September 12, 2005


Last Friday, I went to a birthday dinner hosted by my ex-neighbour. We’d known her family for about 22 years and it wasn’t exactly something I could easily say no to. Especially with my mom saying things like “We can’t say no to them.”

The birthday was for my neighbour’s mom, who’d had a stroke a coupla years back and she’d actually made some remarkable recovery. She’ll forever walk with a cane, and now has to shake with her left hand, but her face is pretty much back to normal. This is significant because when someone speaks with a slur, we automatically slow down and speak louder. The old lady has always been sharp, and I think regaining her speech at least make us less irritating to her. And of course, there’s her smile – knowing and just a little cheeky, like the stroke never happened.

But something else did.

I had a kind of seizure myself.
They were triggered by a series of events and I had a kind of grand mal episode with the standard blackouts in between. And when I came to each time, my world was slightly changed.

They played a small slideshow tribute. They showed photos of the old lady when she was young and all the places she’d been.
I realise I have almost no photos of myself after graduation. My existence has a photographic gap of more than eight years.
I will take more photos. I will make new memories. I will make memories worth photographing.

I was seated at a table with people I didn’t know. And didn’t like.
If you’re in any traditional Chinese sit-down dinner, you will be stuck with these people for at least eight dishes plus dessert. It is a punishment consistently overlooked by Amnesty International.
My wedding dinner will be a small restaurant booked for the night. Everyone will know each other. Everyone will get to order something they like. And it won’t be expensive since I don’t actually have many friends.

There were relatives from all over. Hong Kong. Louisiana. Toronto. London. Boston.
My mother’s family is close and it hasn’t gotten them through some shitty times. My cousins and I however, have drifted apart.
I can change that. I think they want to as well. When they’re close, families don’t feel big, but the safety net does. And I want that.

My neighbour’s mom is 81.
I will be 31 this year.
We should only live as long as there are people to love us.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Too close to home

Given enough time, you can get used to anything.
You accept, adapt, survive.
Given enough time, balance returns, and though things aren’t the same, they become manageable again.

Denial is a form of adaptation.

It’s been long enough after the last visit from the loan sharks that my neighbours have begun to settle into a kind of comfort zone. What began as evasive action has become routine. They come home late, they leave early.
And unconsciously, their pattern, their complacency, became ours.
The loan sharks have given up.
Everything would be ok.

Then the red paint returned.
Their roof was covered in it.
Their garden was covered in it.
Their walls and the porch looked like the scene of a massacre.

I suspect the thugs come in the afternoon, when the guards don’t keep to their rounds as strictly and the entry of cars is less likely to be questioned.

My neighbours tried to hide their shock, and just scurried into the house. They sneaked out in the middle of the night, scrubbing furiously attempting to remove the paint. But it was no good.

The next morning, the rest of the neighbours saw everything. The red paint made the house look like the site of a slashing, but the scrubbing made it look like a botched cover-up – which it was.
In the end, my neighbours called someone in to paint over the red streaks on the walls. Maybe the painter didn’t have time to find a match, so the result was patches of off-white against light beige. None of which hides the red, which now appears as dark shadows under the hastily, unevenly applied coat of new paint.

But worse of all is the red paint they tried to wash away has settled into the tarmac just in front of my house. It stains the entrance.

The red looks at me every time I step over it to get into my car.
Trouble is at my door.
And it is no metaphor.
I hate that their siege is becoming mine.
I hate that I now share their terror.
Yet not the comfort of their denial.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The spice of life

Contrary to popular belief, the Saffron flower is a pink-petaled thing.
The yellowish tint with which we associate its name actually comes from the pistil.
The pistil is what makes the yellow dye and the fragrant, almost seductive spice used in our food.

It takes roughly 150,000 Saffron flowers to produce a single kilo of spice.

We have taken so much from this planet.
So, so much.