Sunday, May 28, 2006

Previously, on Two In The Bush

Firstly, quick thanks and apologies to several people who dropped by during my prolonged absence. I wasn’t ignoring anyone, honest. I’ve just been in a bad place these past two months. Sooner or later, everyone catches a bad stretch, and I’m no exception.

Sometime between the 2nd and 3rd chapters of ‘3 Eroticas,’ I hurt my back. After that, a whole lotta things took a nose-dive:

I couldn’t run. Running is something I never knew I’d come to love, and when I can’t run, it’s upsetting. I missed the adrenaline highs that followed, the sweet ache in my legs that reminded me I did something physical. I only started running again two weeks ago and even then, only once a week. My stamina has suffered, but I’ll get there. First lay down the routine, then aim to improve.

I couldn’t write. Actually, I could. The sick irony of it was I could only write at work. I couldn’t stay in any one position more than half an hour (with the exception of lying down, which I could only do at home). All I wanted to do was finish my work and go home. Thing is, I kept interrupting myself. I had to get up from my desk constantly. The vicious cycle ate at me and some days I felt like screaming. By the time I got home, I was too tired to do anything. This is actually the first piece of writing I’ve done in weeks that isn’t part of my job.

And when I got better, things got worse. No more pain, but then half a dozen colleagues left in about 4 months, 3 of them writers. My work load tripled, and the agency suddenly decided to start pitching for more business. I stayed past 10 almost every day and I worked weekends.

Then my Mac crashed. I wrote this post from my Dad’s PC.

So there you have it. It’s not over yet, the storm. But it's dying down.

To the people I love, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be distant. You know everything that’s happened here cos I told you already. I want to get back back to you. But I had to get back to me first.

To the regulars, thanks. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I wasn’t ignoring anyone. Indeed, I only read the new comments a few days ago. I’m also sorry I haven’t been by. If I’ve missed something special, please feel free to cut and paste some belated good vibes from The Box (see below). I hope to post some new material in the next few weeks. I’ve also been wanting to preview an experiment on the blog for a long time, but I was worried not everyone might like it. But this is true of everything I’ve done anyway. It’s time to stop trying to think 30 moves ahead and just trust you guys.

To the Universe. So, it’s like that huh? Fine. I’m still standing. C’mon. Let’s go.

Good Vibes Smorgasbord (cut and paste where appropriate)



“Hang in there ok?”

“Ew, gross.”

“Oh. My. God.”

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sign here please

My signature was born when I was about 10.

I used to carry around a sketchbook filled with cartoons of characters called The Wuppets, inspired by a range of toys they gave away with meals at the A&W drive-through. Actually, ‘toys’ is a pretty generous term. The Wuppets were just balls of wool with eyes glued on. Y’know, the kind for making soft toys you which can buy in bulk, that roll when you shake them. They had big hobbit-like feet, flat pieces of leather with double-sided tape that you could use to stick them – quite permanently – on car dashboards.

I drew pages and pages of Wuppet cartoons. No dialogue, just the Wuppets doing stuff. The only thing I wrote were the titles: The Wuppets At The Haunted House! Wuppets Go To Space! Looking back, they were prolly the height of my artistic talent. They were easy to draw (just a circle, two eyes and feet) and to this date, I haven’t drawn anything else as consistently well. Again, ‘well’ is a generous term. More accurately, my Wuppets are the drawings that have turned out closest to what I imagined them to be.

Anyway, at some point, I felt proud (or was it possessive?) enough about them to want to exert some ownership. So I decided to invent a signature.
I asked my dad to show me how he signed his name. The signature he showed me was actually the ‘initials’ version and it left a deep impression on me.
Maybe it was the way he did it, that looping of the pen that seemed so much like a needle with ink as thread. A few deft swirls of the wrist and a symbol magically appeared. A kind of logo that said ‘Dad.’ Or perhaps it was the way he signed a few of them in a row, each repeated with equal precision, like it was a stamp.
Either way, from that moment on, my concept of signatures was as pictures instead of words. Drawing instead of writing.

And my drawing sucked.

To my 10-year old self, crafting a signature was a big thing. A this-is-how-people-are-gonna-remember-you-for-the-rest-of-your-life-so-you-better-not-suck thing. After all, it would bear my name – and a name is the most public, yet personal thing a person can have. Best to go slow.

So via this blend of childish insecurity and a premature sense of drama, my first signature was…my Dad’s.

I began signing the Wuppets with my Dad’s initials and pretty soon it was everywhere. My books, my pencil box, every where. From time to time, Oh, I tried working on my own signature, but it just never seemed to match up to Dad’s. Besides, nothing was wrong with the one I was using. A few people had even said it was cool. And so I let it be.

Then two things happened.

Thing #1: Dad started letting my brother and I read his comics. Maybe they were too dark for us (Twilight Zone, Tales From The Crypt, Conan) or maybe he didn’t have the time to dig them out of the boxes before then. Either way, it was an upgrade in our privileges. A promotion.
Then I started noticing a lot of them had a signature on the cover. It was stylish and elaborate. Translation: I couldn’t make out the fucking thing.
So I asked Dad.
He said the signature read ‘Goya.’
“Yes. Goya is an artist from the 18th Century. “
“Why is his name on your comics?”
“It’s just someone I admired.”

Thing #2: They’d given us forms for class trips before, but the one to Cameron Highlands was the first one requiring the students to sign as well. Dad had already signed for me to go, but I left the ‘student’s signature’ portion blank. Out of habit, I almost signed my Wuppets signature, but stopped when it hit me that it wasn’t mine. Just someone I admired.

So that night, out of necessity, I drew my own signature. I had no time to try out different versions and because my teacher admonished us to ‘always sign the same way’ I didn’t deviate from that initial scrawl.
When I made my first passport, the design was finalised. It traced the ungainly loops and a laminate was placed over it, sealing it.
The one I use on cheques and credit card bills today is a direct descendant.
All who have seen it says it bears very little resemblance to my name.
That’s understandable.
After all, it was done in a rush.
And I’ve never been much of an artist anyway.