December 16th, 2011 § § permalink
I was trying out our flatmate’s little Penny skateboard, learning how to handle the damn thing, going slowly, not pushing off too hard. Abe taught me how to get on it, but he hasn’t taught me much else. After practicing what I remembered, I gained a bit more confidence and learned how to make some turns on it by putting the right amount of pressure on the tail.
It’s really when you think you got it, that the world conspires to prove you’re small. I think I was trying to increase momentum for a turn when suddenly, the board flew under me. Next thing I know I’ve hit my face on the concrete floor and my right cheekbone is on fire as if I’d been punched. My brain feels like it has been shaken, my gums and teeth hurt a little and all the while I’m hoping the injuries don’t show. Staggering towards the kitchen, I open the fridge and grab the ice tray and let the whole thing cool the side of my face. But while I’m collapsed on the bed, spitting all kinds of expletives, there’s a huge smile on my face because while it hurts, I think I found a new fun thing to do.
I’m going to buy a helmet.
December 14th, 2011 § § permalink
I miss my library. There are still so many books in it that I have not yet read. Call me a hoarder, though I prefer the term bibliophile, because –without sounding too defensive– they are kept for a purpose! Lately, I am reminded how easy it was for me to get lost in a book and forget all else. I’m especially grateful for Singapore’s public library and the access I have to it, because I’ve been borrowing books non-stop. As a result of my weekly visits, I’ve discovered a current favorite publication, The Wilson Quarterly and even subscribed to it.
Dicks are the accidental theme this month. I’m currently reading Moby Dick and will be reading Philip K. Dick next. Moby Dick was never a required reading for me in any of the schools I attended, but I was always drawn to the story. So far, I’m laughing at the chapters with Queequeg. The novel reads like a foreign language, but I’m thoroughly entertained.
In other news: I’m participating in Reddit’s Secret Santa this year and I’m very excited for my Redditor to get his gifts. I’ve requested that he film himself opening the package but he has not yet replied if he’ll do this. I told him I’d understand if he was shy, but I really hope he will! Whether or not he likes the package, I just want to see a human reaction to another human’s efforts to make a person happy.
Last night I baked another batch of my homemade dark chocolate brownies. This time, it was for my dear friend Pepe’s surprise birthday party, which apparently wasn’t much of a surprise because he saw it all coming. Pepe is one of those generous people who is a friend to many. He’s recently found someone to be happy with, so while he is normally jolly, his smiles are even bigger these days. It’s such justice to see good things happening to good people. Happy Happy Birthday to you, Pepe!
December 12th, 2011 § § permalink
I had never heard this expression used before and only vaguely understood what it meant. As I read through Chris Bohjalian’s novel, which shares the title of this entry (and is the inspiration for this as well), it became clearer what it could mean.
1. skeleton at the feast, a person or thing that casts gloom over a joyful occasion; a note or reminder of sorrow in the midst of joy.
Everything around us, is a sort of skeleton at the feast. Now that the world is vastly connected. Poverty stricken countries are reminders of the richer ones. The death toll of a calamity reminds us of the survivors. The crazy chatter of unsubstantial gossip about celebrities from all corners of the world adds to a priceless flood of other, more useful information. We now have access to an ever-replenishing library, that people once, could only imagine. Or perhaps I am alone in seeing the world this way. That despite the happiness (and allowing myself to feel the happiness), there are always little reminders of sorrows.
I finally finished this novel. You can tell by the way the perspectives of the characters were written that it was written carefully and sure enough, when I reached the acknowledgements, I learned that the book had been inspired by a real diary, and guided along by a few other books used as reference. I needed time with this one. Less time than I needed with The Information (which felt like I was swallowing ten courses in one go, without chewing, but it was nonetheless a satisfying meal). But I needed time nonetheless. Whenever I came across a passage or chapter that demonstrated the possible array of human brutality in desperate situations, I am reminded how in my twenty-three years on earth, and on my little island country, I have not yet needed to feel such a thing. I wonder if I ever would but hope that I would never have to.
Packed with blackened tortoise shells, an ancient shaman's grave may be evidence of early feasting. Illustration by Greg Harlin.
Survival has evolved into such a different word from how it meant during the World Wars. Even back when we were hunting and gathering, Survival had only one definition and that meant to stay alive. Now, it comes in different shapes. Sometimes it’s synonymous to making money, other times it means fitting in. Lately, I notice that it means finding someone who cares enough about you as you would in turn, care about them so that you have someone to survive with. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a romantic partner, but it seems that this is what many have chosen to look for.
The world is getting smaller, but I think as much as possible, we still have to try and survive it as a group or as it was once known, a tribe. The people in my (ideal and selfish) tribe, are my close friends, and they are scattered all over the world. I’ve been trying to reach out to them individually with the intention that they each feel less lonely and disappointed, whenever skeletons appear at their feast.
December 5th, 2011 § § permalink
I’ve been drawing and baking a lot lately – activities I welcome because the latter is something especially new for me.
…And it’s that time of the year again when we collect and remember songs, movies and memories to archive 2011 somewhere safe.