Monday, July 31, 2006

God's Work.

I heard about it from mom right after her choir practice. Our parish priest, Father FA became the barrier of bad new before the practice began. It was only woman and children's practice this week, so I had no idea about any further details then. Father FA received the news first hand and I think it was the choir that he first informed. A couple of weeks before, the choir had already been struck by a misfortune that one of its member, Albert, met with a horrible hit and run. Imagine this, he got hit by a lorry, causing him brain damage and now, he's lying in the hospital, half paralysed. The previous choir practice was offered in prayers to Albert. This week's practice, according to mom, was offered to all the pilgrims who was involved in the accident.

The thought of it totally slipped off my mind the rest of the day. It made me feel like an absolute jerk when I saw the picture of the overturned bus with passengers sticking out, pinned under the bus, that I have forgotten about it after mom told me. I felt worse that this was what I was trying to remember to include in my night prayer last night and I didn't have the chance to. I was almost speechless when I saw the news over the front page of The Star. I didn't have the chance to flip through the papers as it was D's and it'd be rude for me to pull it away from him. The horrifying picture with the victims pinned under the overturned bus and the firemen trying to save them was heart-wrenching enough to make me cry. But the environment of students yelling to one another in the hallways and the
sound of chairs being dragged across the classrooms as students hastily made their way through the class to their seats was kind of distracting to make me actually sit and take in the bad news.

I only managed to see the front page of the report and got chased by the wardens out of the class to attend assembly before I even flip the page for the continuation. A feeling of injustice ran over me as I made my way to the hall for the assembly, watching the other students who were mostly unaware of this horrible tragedy. They probably didn't even give a damn about it, if they knew. It was unfair that these people were suffering from such great loss and people like me are still living life as it is, unhurt and safe. The other students could still be passing the ball to one another in the hallway, unaware, as I turned left towards the hall, while the victims are probably mourning uncontrollably at their homes at the death of their loved ones. It was unfair.

Certainly, the bigger question that came to my mind was,
how could this happen when they were all on a pilgirmage to St. Anne? Where was God then? Why did He allow this to happen? I was helpless and unable to answer these questions myself. I couldn't find the right explanation to this. They were all on a pilgrimage, aren't they?! Of all times, why now? I could only comfort myself by telling myself that God has his own plans and decisions. He certainly has his reasons, I'm sure.

I was a little distraught about this whole incident. I know, it didn't happened to me and I should be happy that it's not me or my family there... but I still feel a sense of grief. I sympathise and empathise them. I was quite taken aback when D showed no signs of sorrow when I was gaping at his paper. "Haiya, 11 people died," he said to me, as if to tell me that that was all I needed to know. "Hello, they are all Catholics on a pilgrimage to St. Anne," I said in an offensive way, "We are all addressed as 'brothers and sisters in Christ' for a reason, you know!" I couldn't help but feel angry at the people around me who didn't bother a bit about this tragedy, making it sound like another passing tragedy that caused no one's lives. I know that it is way out of our league to help but at least, show some respect or sympathy!

My anger and frustration stuck with me throughout the day, though I didn't sense it for a brief moment when I was hurrying to finish my Moral assignments. It climaxed when dad "so happens" to forget to bring my daily dose of the paper with him when he was at school to pick me up! I was so looking forward to reading more about it that I kind of yelled at dad for not bringing the papers then. Fortunately, he was pretty calm about it. I couldn't help but express my feelings of the incident to him right in the middle of the school car park that I was close to tears. I got so tensed up that I seeked solace with some food at the canteen.

I only had one thing in mind when I reached home : to read and read and read about the incident. The grief, the feeling of the survivors who lost their family members couldn't possibly be put in words. It was so terrible. The one victim who got my tears flowing out was Arulsamy Savarimuthu, who lost his 13 year old daughter, Alvina. Imagine a father's heartache to see his own daughter, being pulled out from under the bus and die not long after. Imagine that. Think of the pain he's going through. The picture of him at his house, breaking down when receiving donations could let you have a picture of what a father's going through.

Well, after seeing all these I couldn't bring myself to a conclusion as to why God allowed all of these to happen. To me, it is God's amazing way of teaching. Seriously, I see it this way. It's his way to bring us Catholics back together again, unite us in prayer and remind us of who we are and our responsibilities to one another as 'brothers and sisters in Christ'. It's also God's way of reminding us to appreciate and acknowledge our loved ones as we still have them. God's certainly not using these people as a subject to show us these. I'm not God, therefore, I can't explain his plans, but I believe that He has His great design that man have been trying to understand.

See the pictures of the whole congregation coming into the church as one to offer prayers for the victims is enough proof that God has undoubtly brought us Catholics together once more upon this tragedy. I'm sure God, being His loving self, wouldn't want to see us suffer also. Often, we forget about the importance of unity, peace and love. Sometimes, we even neglect these in our daily lives. To me, this is God's only way to reaching out to us, reminding us the things we neglect or forget. WE shall not see this as God's way of inflicting suffering as a form of punishment to us sinful mortals. If he was, I wouldn't see any point of Jesus going to the cross and die for us. Instead, we should take this as a mess
age from God, as harsh as it may seem, we should embrace it and ponder over what He could be trying to say to us. Father's sermons in mass is merely enough to awaken the senses in us.

Jesus, nailed at the cross to wash our sins...

That's how I see God's amazing works. "He works in mysterious ways," as the saying always goes. As what 5xmom may have put it, these are the different forms of crosses we have to bear. There are smaller crosses and bigger ones. Those who have bigger ones are because they are made stronger. This is how I see God's work. I pray that God will welcome all the 11 victims to heaven with open arms as they leave this world filled with sadness.

"Eternal peace grant unto them, oh Lord. And let the perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls rest in peace, Amen."

Friday, July 28, 2006

School and Family.

Third day of school after the monthly exams, I can already see the usual pile of homework stacking up again. My hands are already filled with so many stuff and homework just adds to the list. But frankly, the pile of homework also conists of a few overdued and incompleted homework. =P. For one, my moral assignments are way past the given dateline and in school, I come across tiny shreds of papers, clipped between my textbooks and and exercise books, with homework that was given on the beginning of the second term written on it. It's like, "Crap, I still haven't done this. How could it slipped off my mind?" when I discover reminders in between pages of my textbook. I'll just shove it back to the page where I found it and continue with lessons, hoping that it'll strike my mind to do it when I'm free. Hell, I'd give anything to be with mom now.

Mom's on a business trip in Hong Kong! She left at 7 a.m. yesterday and would be arriving tomorrow at 6.30 p.m.. She was sent by the company to Hong Kong to attend a certain meeting with the other company for 3 days and 2 nights. I wanted her to bring my camera along but she refused, afraid that it'll proably end up broken or stolen in the streets of Hong Kong. *groans* Who knows what she's doing right now? Her last text to dad was that she was enjoying a vast array of dim sum there. I know I'd be shopping if I was there or probably taking pictures. Either way, it's better than what I have to do this weekend, which includes me deliberately trying to finish my homework and assignments apart from other stuff.

The only thing that keeps my sanity intact is the knowledge of me attending SONY's Nature Photography 2006 project in about a week's time from now. Yeap. The highly anticipated project is held annually by Sony (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd., jointly organized by the Ministry of Education of Malaysia, and supported by project partners, CLICK! Magazine and Malaysian Nature Society. One of the activities of this project is a "Student Nature Camp" which will be held at the Belum - Temenggor Forest Reserve from 6 to 9 August 2006. A group of 50 secondary students and teachers will take part in this discovery trip to this forest reserve to learn more about nature and eco system. It wasn't easy to get into this camp as they only accepted one representative from each school. Penang had only 4 schools going and my school was one of them.

Apparently, there aren't alot of photography enthusiasts in my school - there were only 4 students (me included) who responded to the announcement of this camp. I was the first one to get there, hoping that I'd be able to get the place first hand.

Just to clear the air, I wasn't wanting to go for the sake of representing the school. Instead, I was more keen on going to gain personal experience. There's only going to be 50 participating schools form all over Malaysia and it was extremly crucial for me to get into this program. I felt that I deserved to be on the program too, at that point, cause I was the only one who knew about the camp (and the important details) before it was announced. I was sent an email from AE the day before, informing me about this whole Sony program. Interested as I am, there wasn't any apparent way of me enrolling in it. At the sound of Ms. Lee mentioning the words "SONY Nature Photography", I couldn't help but work my way into getting things done my way!

I was the first respondent to arrive at the school office as the announcement faded through the PA system of the school. Some other students emerged a few mintues after I did. Ms. Lee was reluctant to approve of the first respondent as I had no encounter with her at all and I had nothing to prove to her that I was photography enthusiast. Unlike the other respondents who had hardworkingly contributed their talents in various forms to the school and was popular among Ms. Lee, I had nothing with me for back-up other than my passion and interest. Na-da. I even had the crazy idea of showing her my Flickr page or Photo Blog, but pulled out of it when I thought it'd be too much of an obnoxious act.

At the end, with a little bit of audacity (into admitting that I have a good camera and even to the extent of promoting myself), self confidence and sweet talk, I got what I wanted. In another way, I'd have to thank Ryan also for letting me have the chance to go on this camp. He could've retaliated and pushed his way around me to get Ms. Lee's approval when she told him to let me have a chance to represent the school for something, considering that he just got back from Singapore, representing the school for Young Enterpreneuers, I think. He was also the vice president for the schools' Photography Club. What didn't he have that could easily let him take my place? But he didn't. Instead, he said that it was Ms. Lee's choice and he respects it.

Ms. Lee was in a hurry to fax the application form back to the Ministry Of Education, so she personally called dad for approval on this matter. She got my particulars and signatures and the usual stuff. Briefed me a little about the whole program and let me off with the permission slip which needed dad's signature. I was on cloud nine to be walking out from her room, to have finally achieved something for myself. I'm so pumped up and excited about this whole thing! Now, let's leave the nervousness, the I'm-not-sure-about-it-myself, and the lack of confidence matter aside for the present moment. Let me savour this moment of triumphant....

Back to reality, I still have to attend another week's worth of school before attending this thing! It sucks! It sucks when you can see this really bright light at the end of the tunnel but never able to reach it! I also have to wake up at 6 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday) for volunteering at the Salvation Army Donation Drive under the school's Interact Club. I think I'm going to sleep now. I'll try to cramp in an episode or two of Grey's Anatomy, Prison Break or The O.C (season 3). Take your pick!

Special intentions to Adrian (my beloved cousin) for going for an eye laser today. Not sure what he has but he complains of this blurness in his left or right eye, I can't remember. The doctor's advice was to go for this laser. Second opinion from another doctor claims that he has this disease in the eye called coates. I'm not sure about his whereabout now, but I hope his resting well. If you're ever reading this, Adrian (which I know you will, sooner or later, no matter how many times I change my blog address), get well soon! We're missing your wacky-ness since all of this befall on you. Hope he recovers soon. God bless.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hazey Hungry Ghost Festival.

It's the time again. The time when an eerie (and filthy) coat of dull grey enshroudes the entire city, turning the once sunny tropical island into a place filled with coughing pedestrians and blurry visions, almost competely blocking the sun. The time when the sunshine turns into nothing but a dim glow above the cloudless, grey sky and birds retreat into their nests due to the deterioration of vision lengths, almost reducing it to a mere 2km. No, it's not due to the many invisible hungry ghosts lingering around the city, scavenging for food and haunting people.
The much loathed haze has made its come back since the past two weeks.

I don't know how has it been affecting your lives but I know my life's been a living hell. Being asthmatic, for one, I experience difficulties in respiration. It's impossible to shake off that irritable tinge of charred trees in the air. It's horrible cause it makes my over-sensitive nose itch instinctively most of the time, which, by the time I lay my fingers off my glowing red nose, will send me into another sneezing fit. Sneezing my head off uncontrollably in public isn't really a nice thing for others to bear, as the time interval between each sneeze is not even enough for me to utter the words 'excuse me'. People often give me disparaging looks when I launch into one of these sneezing fit. Even if I politely cover my mouth and nose with my handkerchief and sneeze into it, onlookers will start to shift uncomfortably on their seats at the sight of me.

Really makes me feel like yelling at them, telling them off that it's just only my allergy towards dust and soot that I'm only sneezing! Otherwise, do they actually think I'd go parading around if I've come down with Avian a contagious flu? Seriously? Do I look that sick? The only way to stop my hysteric sneezing is to have another shot of Nasonex right into my nostrils. Surely, the smell and taste of a field fresh sunflowers at the back of my throat does ease the pain and irritation, leaving me with a swollen, red nose. Quite unpleasant, if you ask me.

The haze is surely staying, as the Hungry Ghost Festival (Phor Thor) just kicked off yesterday with mom and dad taking off on the motorbike to the nearest ko tai (a karaoke singing performance on a set up stage as a form of entertainment to the spirits and public as well) to enjoy si ko t'ng (a bowl of ice syrup filled with jellies, beans and assorted nuts) Great, more burning of joss sticks, prayer paraphernalia and gigantic paper effigies to appease the hungry ghosts and more soot to boot the thickness of the haze shrouding Penang! No pun intended towards Buddhism and the worship of Tai Su Yah (King Of Hades) since there are certain worshippers who are aware of the critical condition of the air quality. Still, the burning of hell money, paper BMWs and luxurious paper houses doesn't really add up to improve the air quality, does it?

Amah (dad's mother), being a Taoist all her life, will usually hold numerous prayer sessions, filled with numerous home-cooked offerings for the deceased, ranging from her curry chicken to her soya sauce pork leg and minced vegetables mixed with slices of pork. I only know the names of these food in hokkien. Despite being a devout Catholic, I have been helping amah out with all the preparations needed during the Hungry Ghost Festival from young, like setting up the altar for the offerings, folding joss paper into shapes of cups and even taking care of the arrangement of cutleries on the table of offerings, prepared for the spirits. In this case, when the set up
and the praying with joss sticks is being done at home, it is to fulill filial piety. We Catholics are allowed to honour our ancestors, even if it means, honouring them with joss sticks. So over the years, it has been some sort of a customary for the family members to gather at amah's house to carry out our duties as great-grandchildren.

Another kind of praying is to the numerous figures of Taoist Gods and Goddesses, which we Catholics don't usually deal with. Though, we still help amah out with her extensive preparations for prayers, seeing that she has always liked the idea of doing everything grandly and ceremoniously. Considering her age now, she could barely manage anything at all, not even cooking. Yet, she still protests on having every altar set up like it was used to 20 years ago. When it comes to praying to the numerous Gods and Goddesses, amah doesn't set up her own altar. Instead, she goes to the huge altar set up by the neighbourhood committee to pray and give her offerings, at the feet of Tai Su Yah.

Growing up as a Catholic under the influence of Taoism at home, I've developed a weird interest towards mystical stories of The Monkey God or Kuan Yin or other petrifying looking figurines that decked the altar at amah's old house. I've also shown an unhealthy enthusiasm towards matters like re-incarnation, The 9 Levels of Hells and breathtaking ghost stories that roamed the Buddhist version of hell. Don't misjudged me. I've drawn a line to myself into believing such matters as true and only take an interest in them as a matter of fascination. No more than that. No doubt, I've always enjoyed amah's gratifying ghost stories of the weird, unexplainable incidents that occur during the Hungry Ghost Festival, no more less than the stories I read in True Singapore Ghost Stories.

However, I still coudn't answer one of my classmates when he shot at me, "Do you believe in these stuff during the Hungry Ghost Festival?". I can't possibly give a definite answer as the underworld still remains as an intangible subject. Honestly, I have no idea what to believe. It's really mind boggling to even come to think of it. It all boils back to the same question : Do you believe or not?
I prefer the idea of snucking in my bed and finishing another book of True Singapore Ghost Stories, getting myself mystified with stories that are not proven true or not on a hazey day as devotees all around Penang, pile up on their joss paper, getting them ready to be burnt, making the air quality even worse.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CD Review : Shayne Ward

I intended to write sooner, when I came back from school but Blogger has been a real bitch lately. I don't know if it's only me or it's the same for the rest of you but Blogger has been really stubborn to load. If it eventually manages to load the page, it'll refuse to log me in. And if I actually manage to log in and done with my post, feeling all satisfied and content, it'll log me out automatically when I press the 'publish' button, which results me in losing my posts! It really kills the whole mood of blogging when that happens! Now, I'm taking extra precaution by copying my posts before publishing it.

Is there something wrong with my internet connection or Blogger has just been bitchy with me? I don't know.

I've also got my hands full with a number of stuff lately, which is taking up most of my time to blog. I've got the MPH writing contest essay that I just finished just now. Still not sure if it's good enough. Well, I've never tried my hands on fiction before. Make this my first! My monthly exams pretty occupied my free time, although I didn't really quite study for most of the papers. I've also been working on entering a few other competitions also. I'm not telling you what it is... yet, but I'm working on it. You know, there's this myth that if you boast before somehting actually happens, it'll never come true. I bet they have a name for it but I have no idea what. I fairly believed in this superstition. So I'm keeping it to myself. Mostly, it has got to do with photography and stuff alike. You get my point. Don't bother.

So, monthly exams just ended today and I took the liberty of my free afternoon to complete my MPH Search For Young Malaysian Writers 2006 essay while indulging myself into some good music. At least it is what I consider good music. The essay, as usual, exceeded the maximum amount of words and I'm still having trouble cutting off words. Every words seems to be equally important. I'll probably deal with that tomorrow. I'm just relieved that I manage to even complete the essay, although, I still doubt the relevance of the story to the given theme. For that, I kind of awarded myself with some good music.

This time, it's Shayne Ward. The winner of X Factor, another reality talent search TV programme, I assume. I mean, Simon Cowell is one of the judges. What else could it be? I saw Shayne Ward in one of those highly-overrrated CD reviews in The Star. Seriously, the CD review is based on a single person point of view and who knows what taste of music this reviewer has. Well, I guess all CD reviews are like that. I think it serves no justice towards the CD and the artist that they're being given bad comments when the CD reviewer practically doens't even listen to the kind of music he/she was supposed to review. Oh well, why bother? I say, get the CD yourself and listen to it, rather than believing in CD reviews.

Shayne Ward caught my attention when I saw his video on MTV yesterday, with the single No Promises. It wasn't exactly the Video Of The Year but his voice definitely got my attention. I didn't even finished the video when I went back into my room to search for his album online. Downloaded it last night and has been listening to it since I got back from school. His vocals were actually better than I imagined it to be. I personally like his high-pitched tones in his vocals. It really gives some punch into his songs. C'mon, not every male singer out there these days could manage this high-pitched thing anymore. The ones I could remember were Justin Timberlake, Daniel Bedingfield, James Blunt and perhaps, Lee Ryan? Yea, only a few guys. And Justin Timberlake has underwent a throat (tonsils, is it?) surgery that he can't really work that pitch anymore, proven in his latest single Sexy Back. After all, viewers of the X Factor show voted for Shayne Ward to victory!

My reviews on his music is certainly better than what The Star had given him. He wasn't as bad as The Star mentioned, ok? He debuted with his single Stand By Me and was a big hit around. He's new single. No Promises, is slowly gaining popluarity among his fans, including me. His other songs like You're Not Alone and That's My Goal (the first track) have a unique tune to it. I daresay that his music is still fresh and new. It certainly needs some getting used to. Overall, his whole album is a soothing one to listen to, especially in the night. I don't know how to categorise his music though. Is it pop or R&B? I could never get this right! I'll call it pop for the time being. His music are mostly focused on one genre as you can hear that most of his songs sound almost alike, which is what I always look for in an album. I'd call his music original as he doesn't come forth to me as another wannabe, trying all sorts of different styles to please his fans.

The only down part about his ablum was that he had his own versions of other songs, namely, All My Life (Kci & Jojo), What About Me (Shannon Noll), and Back At One (Brian Mcknight). His rendition of All My Life and Back At One sounded pleasent enough, but nothing compared to the original. However, his version of What About Me was horrendous! It sounded like a failed attempt of turning the song into his own! Compare Shannon Noll's to his and he stands nowhere between Shannon Noll! Fortunately, there were only three songs that he did. I think it has something to do with the show though. Hopefully it wasn't his idea to do the songs. The rest of the album makes it a soothing CD to listen to.

Talk about his video, his mouth movement and body language when he sings reminds me of American Idol 2006, Chris Daughtry! There is an undeniable significance between the two of them. Take a good look at the video and take a good look at Chris Daughtry's performance. I caould easily mistaken the both of them. Call me blind, but that the way I see it. =). Check out the video below. I think the video's really cool and the song really nice. It's hard to find male singers (can someone please give me a name to categorise?!) like this nowadays.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Cynical Me.

The feeling lingered within me throughout the whole day. The feeling of shock and disbelief to see my work printed in MPH's A Collection Of Stories On Teenage Life. Well, it would have my name on it it it was written by me. The strange thing is that I find such close proximity of understanding and relation towards the story that it seemes as thoough it could've might as well be written by me. It's somewhat scary to find my own words being extricated by a certain stranger by the name of Kevin Soo. I finished his last sentence with my mouth wide agape. I went totally speechless and was practically grasping for air when I read, "My passions include music, writing and photography..." Oh my, what a coincidence.

Does this mean nothing else but merely a coincidence? Or do the same people with similar passions think alike? I'm utterly bemused. The feeling I felt when I read his story... it was... ineffable. It struck me so hard that I almost fell from my chair which I was sitting two-legged-ly.

Kevin talks about the feeling of being lonely and the emptiness that shrouds him when he's around his friends. "I'm more alone when I'm with people than I am when I'm by myself," he writes. Weird, I understand. I feel exactly the same way. My spirit, my soul, drifts apart from my body as soon as I am enclosed in a circle of peers. My presence among them doesn't usually last long and it's also never felt. I was never in the spotlight. Not that I want too, but my presence is never realised. The urge of re-connecting my body and soul is ever so prominent when I'm no longer in their discussions. I don't feel belong when I'm with them. Their discussions/talks becomes as insignificant as the sound of bustling buses outside the school walls.

I don't remembering me feeling this way from young. I could still remember the great times and the incoherent laughters shared with, whom I thought then, were my friends. Those remains as memories, I suppose. For I will never be able to turn back time... and I don't want to. Gradually, I developed a shield that secluded me from the others, since I entered junior high. Don't misunderstand me, I wasn't an absolute loner, sitting by the corner of the classroom, burying myself into tonnes of books and alienating myself from the other classmates who were then talking about girls and computer games. I had friends, as a matter of fact. Numbered as it may seem, I still had them. They weren't exactly what you'd call loyal friends. Normal buddies whom there my invisible shield protects me from.

Like Kevin, I struggled to feel belong too. I struggled and longed for the acceptance into a group of peers. The struggle never ends. People can be so difficult to please and a group can almost be impossible to for me to fit in. "It is possible my standard for friendships is too high..." writes Kevin. I can still remember me, standing up to stretch, after an hour of self indulgence on the book, The Sky Is Falling, looking around the classroom, dreamily, to see a group of guys talking about girls and flexing their muscles as they talk or comparing the amount of body hair, another group hissing secretly to one another about computer cheats and another group, questioning each other with their textbooks held closely to their eyes. I took another yawn, sank back into my chair, let out a little sigh and went back to my book. The people around me seemed to be an illusion of some sort as I couldn't be more bothered about them.

"...I realise I no longer relate to any of my peers. They seem immature, never really saying anything worth listening to."

Sometimes, I sit by myself, wondering. What is it that sets me apart from all these people? Kevin's statement could be my answer, "It's possible I'm an elitist snob, priding myself in thinking I am better than others." Well, at least in different fields, I am. I fairly believe in that. I find myself muttering to myself, convincing myself that I might not be as good at the stuff they're talking about but I have my own qualities that I'd like to keep a secret from this world. Hence, the soul drifting apart from the body. I thought to myself, girls ; commitment, computer games ; too childish, muscles ; I still have that extra tyre if you ever need one, studies ; tiring. What's the point of even trying to fit in? I gave up my struggle of wanting to fit in, even if it's outside the classroom. I gave up entirely. Ended my misery, it did. I felt tired to want to try to be someone else I wasn't.

"I used to be puzzled why a trip to the movies would be cancelled when one of my friends couldn't make it but they would go ahead if I was the one who happened to be busy. That upset me until..." writes Kevin.

Same here. It used to hurt me alot when I find out my friends were watching Star Wars at the Golden Screen Cinemas while I'm stuck with mom, selling raffles for charity at church. Even when birthday parties were thrown or the hottest concert in town was held and I wasn't invited to be in ANY of them, I used to be so frustrated that I was on the verge of tears whenever I find out. Anger only held my tears back then. I realised a few years later that friends don't mean the whole world to me. I remembered dad said once to Grace, "Your friends will not be there forever... who will? Your family!" when she got busted for doing something really stupid, I can't remember what. Dad's words was etched into my brain from that awful day onwards, when I sat there in front of the TV while Grace got yelled at by an infuriated dad.

"With the sorry state of the world we live in today, I believe it's better to be an outcast and not fit in. Does't the fact that I can't stand the sight of this place mean I'm different from everyone else? I'd like to think so; it's the only comfort I get from being the way I am"

I grew up, in the next few years, with the impression that my religion and family comes first. I don't get hurt to hear the fact that I was at church attending mass while my friends were attending The Malaysian Idols Finale concert. It became easy for me to turn down offers of friends to go to the movies or hang out whenever it clashes with family plans. I don't need pestering by mom to disappoint my friends or vice versa cause I believe I can make the right decisions myself. Besides, why spend the time in the movies feeling the pressure to fit in with the group rather than to be comfortable and at ease with my family? And why spend the time feeling the pinch in my own wallet even if it means only a DoubleCheeseburger when I can enjoy sashimi with mom at Nippon Yataimura, without even causing a dent in my own wallet? After all, Star Wars isn't really my thing.

"Sometimes I wonder if I have a choice. It is possible I could force myself to enjoy the company of the people around me. Would it matter that I'd be living a lie? Maybe after a while, it would become real for me. Would it be worth it?"

I gave up trying to answer Kevin's questions, confiding to my family and religion. It made me who I am today. My friends don't come first at any occasion. My family and religion stays on top of the list. The struggle made me see what was important to me. I won't change a thing if I was to give the chance to go back time. Though, I'd try to be more careful and try to avoid knocking mom's vase down and smashing it into pieces like what happened last week! Other than my mistakes and regrets, I wouldn't change a thing about the way I feel about friends whom, like Kevin says, "...remain acquaintances and memories of better days." The only thing that sets Kevin apart from me is that I'm sort of happy to confide in my family and religion which still kept me as the jovial and warm person who I was a few years back! No regrets!

I wonder if I'd ever be able to have a chance to meet Kevin Soo, one day. I wonder if anyone else in this world feels the same. I might be a failure to you that I look like I'm just copying someone else's story and further collaborating it with my own life, but that's not the case. It's just amazing to find someone who thinks the same way as I do and share the same passions as I do and I'm just sharing it with you. In real life, I do have someone who has been my friend since the first day we met and thinks almost alike but just don't quite share the same passions. This person is my only friend whom I used to write as a subject for my English essay entitled "Your Best Friend". Oh the chessy-ness, I know. Still,I think it only serves this person justice to acknowledge that this person remains different from the others.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Disdainful Diagnostics.

Monthly exams are going on. As you can see, I've put no effort in this exam, seeing that I'd fail anyhow. Initially, I did put in some effort, effort that wasn't seen at all through the first term. But after I found out that the subject I most put effort in was going to undergo some Diagnostic Test by the government, I kinda lost whatever sense that's left in me. It made my effort seemed all the more useless that they were going to be put into test in some nonsensical test that obviously doesn't even require simple calculations and can be easily answered by a 10 year old.

Don't gget me wrong. It's not that I have any problems with he government testing us on basic English understanding skills on the subjects that were changed from B.M. to English a few years back, to see if we could cope with the change so far. I'm being considerate to other people who might encounter problems with the change and this test really doesn't require any much preparation. I'm not saying I'm good or anything but the questions that are asked are, what I'd say, easy for even someone like me - who doesn't study and have no basic skills in Add. Maths. Well, it's sort of an evaluation test anyway, so it's more focused on our understanding of English rather than to test our skills. In short, it's kind of easy for me. Also, no pressure is needed when it comes to one of these contemptuous tests.

So I felt that my efforts were kind of put to waste when I found out a week before the actual monthly exam that we were to undergo a Diagnostic Test for Add. Maths, Maths and Science which only means that it doesn't need a lot of preparation. A little put off by that, I turned to another Grey's Anatomy marathon, where I try to finish my entire season of the show. It didn't work very well as my eyes went all teary by the time I hit 3 a.m. Resorted my frustration to Harry Potter also. I just finished the book just now.

It felt as if I've lost all my eagerness to pass this exam.Even the pressure of fullfilling my responsibility as a son (blessed with everything he can ask for) and as a student don't seem to be effective enough to get me to revise a stackful of books and notes. It's usually me staring at the test papers, perplexed, watching the others scribbling frantically on their papers or shading their answers in the answer sheet as if their life depended on it. Hmm... I'm not like that, never will. I'd prefer studying one of those yawning invigilators, making up all sorts of stories and defining their every detail.

Or I can always bury my face into my folded arms on the table and go to sleep till the 2 hours is up and wake up drowsily to the scrunched up face of the invigilator trying to tug at my paper which is caught between my arms and the table. Either way, I'm going back to Grey's Anatomy or maybe Prison Break.

Beyonce Knowles - Deja Vu


I just seen this video over at YouTube, out of curiosity. I never liked the song the first time I heard it. Edward agreed too saying that it wasn't Beyonce "quality". Listening it on the radio the second time was like, breathing new life into the song. I didn't liked the song, immediately, but boldly clickling the 'Play' button to listen to it after Edward said that it sounded good if I'd try listening to it, made me kinda liked the song. It wasn't an instant fave but I'm beginning to feel the rythm and the beat of the song, pumping in my veins, after playing it on repeat for a few hundred times today and after watching a good quality version of her video at YouTube.

I must say Beyonce looks more like a deranged dancer in this video rather than her usual self. Seriously, the way she shakes her booty gives me the creeps. The messy hair isn't really working for me. She looks desperate and slutty in this video. Especially when she was working it on on Jay Z. I got almost mistaken that she grabbed his crotch the first time I saw the video. It's kind of scary the way she work things on Jay Z. Too slutty. Still, she managed to pull off most of her outfits in this video, as usual. She's really hot and sexy and looks like she could work with any outfit thrown at her.

Despite her being a crazed dancer and a slutty biatch, she still manages to crac me up in most of her dance routines. I practically laughed my head off when she was dancing in the dessert and with the black leather outfit towards the end of the video. She looked like she ran dry on moves when she was in the black leather outfit, dancing really funny moves and striking really odd poses that made her looked inhuman. And her dance rotuine in the dessert/paddy field gave her away as more into a trance than dancing. It's kind of freaky if you were to replay her video again and again. She kinda got a little carried away in this video, I think. I mean, her hand motions, facial expressions and body language... a little overdoing it, dont'cha think? Nonetheless, she still looks hot and sexy in this video.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chew Jetty Trip. #3

The other thing I discovered about the island, besides the huge swamp and eagle, was that it was filled with rubbish. Damn, it was filthy! Rubbish was at every corner you turned. My wild guess would be that the rubbish was collected from the sea. After all, thePenang beaches are notoriously known for the rubbish you can find. The rubbish that were floating all around could be easily swept ashore with the waves and just stay put there to rot. I heard some of them said in, hushed whispers, to themselves that we weren't the only visitors to the island. Maybe so. But there was no way any visitor could have caused that amount of rubbish to be collected even in a long run. It's weird how the islands are left to rot like that when it remains so obvious from the Penang Bridge.

Our 15minutes was up in a jiff when mom yelled for my name from the other side of the island screaming that we're about to leave for the next island! I wasn't mistaken when I thought there was a tone of worriedness in her voice when she yelled for my name, almost deperately. "Ok, mom, I'm coming!" I yelled back as I took the last shot of the island and the swamp. Unfortunately, I could only take a limited number of shots considering that alot of the strategic angles and interesting subjects were already taken by other professional photographers. It just feels awakward if I were to go to their spot and shoot from their angle. Their vehement glares at me if, I was to walk closer could tell it all that they weren't too happy to share.

I scrambled my way through some branches and got back with them. Mom was already on the line of people clambering into the boat with my sneakers. She told me tet up first, so that I could pull her up next. Did as was told and made our way to the back of the boat again, apologising profusely for causing them who were already seated, to shift in their places uncomfortably.
I settled down and check my shots. Sighed a little and cleaned the front lens of droplets of water with my cloth. Mom decided that she was going to take her shoes off also at the next island stop. "Great!" I said cheerfully as I leaned back a little, poking my head out of the shed, to enjoy the sun on my face, as mom took off her socks and shove them into her shoes also. The next island was just nearby, so it didn't take us long to arrive.

I got down just like I did before and helped mom off. We spent a little while longer on the smaller island seeing that Tim had to take his shots for the website also. There was more dry land here compared to the last island which was covered mostly by the swamp and filled with overgrowing weeds among other unkown species of plants. The crowd was more dipersed here and everybody was having a good time frolicking around the beach, taking photos and enjoying the hot sun plus the fair view of Penang Island with the haze. The bridge was more visible here and most of the crowd was focused on the part of the island which had a good view of the bridge, snapping their digital cameras away, asking others to help them with their cameras if they wanted to be in the picture.

I took a few pictures seeing that the pros had already covered most of the area. I asked a guy to help me take a picture with mom. He was kind enough to help and we got our picture with the birdge behind it. It was pretty cool to be hanging with my mom, trailing her behind with the camera as she turned into her non-worrying self and made footsteps along the shores, giggling slightly. I gotta admit that it's been quite a long time since I last saw her smile, sincerely. And did I mention that I was this close *showing my thum almost touching my indez finger* to stepping on dead jellyfish? It was kind of a miracle that I missed all of them! I could've so easily stepped on any of them!

One of the many jellyfishes that was found ashore...

Time was up and the sun was beginning to set. We got called back to our respective boats like little children again. I scrambled clumsily onto the boat, helping mom behind me and we set off again with me checking my shots and cleaning the camera lens. Waited for a little while for the others to get into their boats and for their boats to get started. We got back to our main objective which was to visit the Penang Bridge during sunset. I leaned back to my usual position to enjoy the sea breeze that was already now slapping against my face as the sped of the boat took up. We got near to the Penang Bridge, very near indeed. I can say it was a breathtaking moment for me cause in a few moments after that, I was looking right from beneath the Penang Bridge to its mega-like structures that held the bridge together. After 16 years of being a Penangite, I kinda felt a brief moment of pride in me! Everyone, including was, was feverishly snapping pictures either with their compacts, SLR or mobile phones, as the boat circled one of the gigantic columns that supported the bridge.

We were supposed to stop and make our way to the platform but due to unforessen circumstances, we couldn't. So we made a few rounds around the columns, took photos and headed back. The sunset was partially amazing - thanks to the haze. Yet, it was a great to sit in the boat and just watch the sun go down beside the Penang Bridge. The one thing fortunate about being on the same boat - literally- with Tim was that we were going to be in one of his group photos. Oh, trust me when I say that the camera is one of the things I fear most in the world but somehow, I felt like I wanted to be in the picture there and then. Strange, I know. Tim courageously set-up his tripod at the front of the boat, had a 10 seconds timer and, and ran back to get in the picture, causing everyone to shriek when the boat shook from side to side at one time, almost turning the camera into the water. Taking pictures on a shaky boat was kind of hard, I'd say. It just depends on the photographers stability to take the the exact shot at the precise moment the boat's stagnant. Skills come to play.

After Tim (and everyone else) felt satisfied with their pictures, we decided to head back to the jetty (finally!). The way home was pristine as we watched the sun go into hiding, slowly behind some mountains in a speeding boat that almost went the wrong way again. The old man realised that he wasn't on the right track soon enough to turn before we stumble into some Burmese Fishing Boats and probably get robbed. The boat ride ended with an official group photo and with most of the participants expressing their joy and satisfaction on this trip. We were treated to some Chew delicacy for dinner before everyone went their separate ways. If I'm not mistaken, the Chews are famous for the Kapitan Chicken Curry. That pretty much sums up the whole trip.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chew Jetty Trip. #2

Getting on a rocking boat wasn't at all difficult as I imagined it would be a few days prior to the trip! I got on first and, dutifully, helped mom on board. The sampan was nevertheless shaky, beaten by the waves, as each of us made our way to our seating, loosing our balance ever so often. Mom had to cling on my hand to make her way to the back of the sampan as we boarded it first. Surprisingly, I gained more balance than I thought I would with my legs spread apart. I got mom seated comfortably and I sat beside her. We were the last two sampans left waiting to be filled with passengers (Tim was still talking to Siew Pheng and we waited patiently for him). And yes, I never let go of my camera the whole time, snapping photos feverishly at every opportunity I got. Suffice to say, I wasn't the only one taking photographs there. The majority of the crowd there were photography enthusiasts and some of them are even professional photgraphy, judging by their cameras and extensive lenses.

The really old man (I'm sure he's a highly skilled fisherman) who was in charge of our boat started the motor of the boat, with all the strength he could muster and with the shaky hands, skinny hands of his, drove the boat a little further away from the pier. We just sat on the boat and waited, floating near around just like every other 5 boats were, for the last boat to arrive to load the remaining passengers who were still waiting anxiously at the pier. The sun was flaming hot and my body was just beginning to break into a sweat, especially with the life jacket on and a backpack containing two bottles of water on my back. There wasn't much wind while we remained stagnant on the boat.

Thankfully, not before long, we saw the last boat sped by our boat to the pier to pick up the remaining passengers. After receiving orders from Siew Pheng's mom, the boat ride began with the old man restarting the engine. Look, the old man was really old and I could've sworn he had some hearing disability. He almost took us off course, going directly to the left when we're supposed to head to the right and still needed a few minutes of our desperate yells for the message to sink in into him, before he realises we were on the wrong track! All the time, I was worried sick about mom getting sea-sick. Well, she has developed and image for herself, always known as the weak one, after the numerous times she blacked out at the weirdest of place! Even before the trip, I kept reminding her to bring her ointment in case anything happens to her and knowing me, I wouldn't be off much help. I kept asking her if she was allright and fortunately, none of the dreaded incidents happened.

The only down part about the whole boat ride was the haze. Penang's been badly hit by the haze and beeing out in the middle of the sea didn't quite gave us a view of the outskirts of Penang Island that we were hoping for. I could only make out the outlines of Komtar and several other buildings. Pointing the cmaera towards the island only resulted the pictures to come out with a tint of dull grey. Plus, the rubbish spotted surfacing on the sea was downright awful. You could practically find every damn thing floating around the sea, scattered all over the place. I could only focus on the sky and other boats that was around. Thank God, dad got me a camera with a 12x optical zoom for my birthday! It'z amazing how far my camera could go.

So there I was, seated comfortably with mom by my side, enjoying the breeze on our face and the occasional sprinkle of water from the sea whenever the boat crashes a wave. Living in Penang all thsese years, I've never experienced such a thing and it was truly something new. What was stated on the itinerary was that we were only going to visit the Penang Bridge. Unless I've read wrongly, I was surprised that we were going to stop by at the Penang Bridge Tidal Islands, well, that's what I learnt when we finally got there. If you're a frequent user of the Penang Bridge, you'd probably be blind to miss the two little island on your left (if you're using the bridge FROM Penang). I've grown up all my life, used the Penang Bridge probably close to a millionth time, wondering what was on those two little islands.

My lifelong curiousity was answered when our boats took a stop at both the islands. The old man pulled over? Wait... I'm hopeless with these sea-terms. Anyway, the old man pulled over the shores of the first tidal island and we got off - the normal way, of course, jumping off the boat getting wet till your knees. It was the one time that I regretted wearing sneakers to an outing. My sneakers were partially soaked when I got off the boat and after helping mom off the boat. Having the sneakers on also kind of forbade me to venture any further in the island. Yeap, we were given a total of 15 minutes to "explore" the island. Most of them with sneakers, I saw, had willingly took off their shoes and went exploring.

I realised I couldn't afford to miss this opportunity and pulled off my shoes, stuffed the socks into the shoe, with mom nagging, "Be careful!" and ran off to join the others. Mom refused to follow, though. I mean, how many times in your lifetime do you get to go to the island? Anyway, I was amazed to find that there was a huge swamp behind the tall pine trees that kept it from view if you were standing form the Penang Bridge. It also happened to be an eagle's lair. I have no idea where thos eagles come from, but the whole flock of them were resting on a tree. Thanks to my 12x optical zoom, I managed to get something, I guess.

To be continued...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Chew Jetty Trip. #1

Certainly, it didn't took me as much anxiety as it would if I was to tag along blindly with a bunch of ignorant 2o year old daredevils on a boat trip to Penang Bridge and back. Following a group who's experienced and organised was definitely more soothing. I was surprise by the calmness in my head when I was preparing for this trip with AsiaExplorers (AE). I know it's not a big trip and all, but cut me some slack here. This is my first time I ever managed to convince mom to pay for a trip and go along with me!

I've been a member of AE since 2003, I think and I have never been in any of the their outings at all. The closest one I ever get to was when AE decided to go on a hike to the Penang Waterfalls. Unfortunately, it rained heavily the day before and over-protective dad called it off, saying that it'd be much too dangerous for me to go along considering I am was still a kid. So you couldn't count that as participation. Other than that, I've never been anywhere closer to an AE outing, whether it was held in cosy hometown Penang or neighbouring countries. Well, not till today, that I'm proud to call myself an AE member.

I received an email about this trip about a month ago before the designated date and was thrilled by the moment I read it! I forwarded the email to mom in her office about a month later after much hesitation. She was happy with the idea and we were set to go. Dad arrived at the venue and dropped us off, saying, "Take care guys. Matt, watch out for mom." I got off the car, rolled my eye, saying, "Yeah, sure. Bye dad!" slamming the door behind me. We waved as he drove off. The Chew Jetty was literally a jetty. I'm not sure what comes into your mind when the word 'jetty' is mentioned, but picture this : houses built, entirely of wood, arranged closely together, suspended a few feet above water by wood that's buried deep beneath the depth of the seas and a whole community working as fishermen.

It's the tiny part of Penang that I've never been before, despite all those years of growing up in the old and broken Georgetown. I was amazed to see how these people are able to live their lives like this. Almost as surprised as the community itself, with peering heads, popping out of the doors miraculously as mom and me walked by each house to get to the end of the jetty where the facilitator lived to get our life jacket. Not that it's bad or anything - most of them had the incospicuous Astro satellite dish poking out of their roofs - but it's just surprising to see them still able to live in such a condition in the 21st century - living just a few feet above badly polluted water which gave out a horrible stench, due to the rubbish and in houses so tiny that it almost had me believeing that I was Alice in Wonderland.

I mean, when I stand up, I'm usually looking down from a fairly reasonable height above into their little houses, eyeing them enthusiastically. Even the people looked smaller when I'm standing on the pathway made off pieces of thick plank arranged closely together, that separated the houses in between and which creaked heavily under my weight everytime I make a movement. It was scary at first to be walking along the pathway with the sploshing of muddy sea water visible beneath your feet, but it's alright after you realise that the community has been walking like that since... forever? By the looks of it, it wasn't exactly a model house that one can easily call a home and I wouldn't recommend it also as it doesn't exactly provide the freshest air from the sea. If the muddy foul water beneath was treated and the rubbish cleared, I'd reconsider. Still, the number of people living there (with the surname Chew) remains unchanged since 6 generations ago! It was a fact, however, which I learnt from the facilitator of the trip, Chew Siew Pheng.

Whem mom and me reached the end of the jetty, where Siew Pheng's house was situated at, we were greeted by an arousing number of people who were already there. I spotted Tim immediately, the founder/creator of AE, approached him, shook his hand and introduced myself and mom. He was such a warm and jovial person and it was kind of unexpected that the voice that greeted me back was high pitched and shrilled. No offence, but it's sounds similar to a cartoon character. Yet, he never misses a smile when he speaks to people. It was really nice to finally meet the person behind all the AE website and all those emails about exploring different parts of Asia.

Our arival was considered late cause majority of the crowd was already getting ready to board the traditional fishing sampans being held together by ropes, with experienced fishermen (I think) doodling around the ropes and arranging the sampans for the conveniences of us to hop on it. Mom and I collected payed for our life jackets and put them on immediately. I was busy fiddling with my camera (gotta get it out all the time for potential good shots) and mom had to meddle with the buckles on the life jacket for me. We got ushered by Siew Pheng's mom (a skilled fisherman also. I could tell by the way she handles the boats and took control of the situation) into one of the few remaining sampans together with Tim. It's just pure luck that we got in the same boat with Tim, cause that's all that matters and he knows more stuff than any of us. We were also lucky to get the only sampan with a shed as mom was beginning to complain about the blazing sun and about how she should've brought her umbrella along. That made her shut up.

To be continued...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Done And Over With!

I've done it! I finally got it over with! It was a feeling of mixed sensation when I actually stepped down the podium ending my speech abruptly with a "Thank You" at the second ring of the bell, indicating that my 6 minutes was up. I was more keen on getting it done than doing it properly towards the end of the speech. It was one of the most excruciating moments of my life, believe me! Having to wait a week till the day finally comes was nothing but unfathomable stress!

You bet, I was shivering like a git when I was put on hold right before my turn. Almost pissed in my pants when I had to pull the card to see who goes first! I hesitated when the timekeeper opened his palms in front of my face and told me pick a little piece of scrunched up paper. I stared at his opened palms, scathingly, hessitated and pulled one out. I was lucky number three! Cold sweat was breaking out of my forehead after that, as I sat there with my notes, with no means of pulling out. Staring into the crowd of 265 restless students was downright depressing. Although, they weren't really a bunch who pays alot of attention to what the participants were saying in their speeches. Still, it gave me all the reasons to be on pins and needles. Not to mention the fear of being ridiculed was oddly strong that day! It was amazingly hard to surpress my feelings and act confident!

The whole day of school was like a total blur. I couldn't possibly pay any attention in any of the classes. I kept myself busy most of the time, repeating my speech over and over again till I felt nauseous to go at it another one more time. I was already lack of practice. Poor thing, my classmates were the ones who had to put up with the same speech, that was crammed into my brains two days ago, being repeated by me with common errors and the occasional blatant laughs and disconnected pauses. It was somehow unbearable if you ask me.

The previous night also, mom, dad, akak and Edmund was my audience as I practiced my unpolished speech at them! It was really bad at first. I kept stopping in the middle of the speech to look back into my paper to get going. My hand gestures were of total discomfort and plain weird and I was so fidgety, as I faced the family in the living room with the television behind me and them sitted nicely on the couch. Before this also, I've done alot of practices with akak. She doesn't exactly know what I'm saying but she could be a great audience. She even stopped me from doing embarassing hand gestures during one of our training sessions. It's basically me, blabbering away while she carries on with washing dishes or ironing the clothes, ignoring me most of the time. As I said, I've repeated the speech so many times that I almost puked when I practiced it for the last time during recess.

My anxiousness escalated to some extent as the competition grew nearer. Trust me, I almost backed off the competition after hearing the announcement to gather all the Fourth Formers in the hall. I wasn't on the verge of breaking into tears when I heard the announcement over the PA sytem in the school. I swear, if it wasn't for Aiman - a really good classmate of mine who's actually patient enough to bear with my atrocious malay - who was grabbing my hand tightly, tugging me hard to get me into the hall, I'd break into a run! He was the one listening to my speech being repeated for the day and was the one who gave me most of the moral support I needed at that time!

Which reminds me of my first and the last public speaking was when I was 11. That was almost as agonising as this! I didn't do well either that time. I practically forgot the whole speech up there and stutter my way through. Thankfully, it wasn't THAT bad this time. I mean, there was obviously the episodic long pauses, stammer and bumble, but I managed to pull through it. Well, not until the 6th minute bell rang and I have to cut off half of my conclusion, leaving the audience gaping in awe and confusion. I knew they were in confusion as a few of them approached me and asked me which side am I actually supporting after I came down the stage to be with the crowd of unquiet students, waiting for the last bell of the day to go!

I wouldn't know how well I did up there, but I'm proud that I got it over and done with, scoring the 1st runner-up. Neither did I feel defeated nor undefeated. I gotta admit, Faizal's (the winner) speech was astonishingly good! He was so comfortable on stage! He grabbed the microphone, went to the middle of the stage with no signs of a tremble, and started off his speech with such level of comfortness. He was really good! He could really speak with such ease and confidence. At least, he didn't need tiny little cut-up notes to help him and it definitely didn't sounded like he recorded the speech into is head and hit it on the play button while on stage! There was also something unusual (in a good sense) in his tone. He had a certain slang for sure!

Tiny little cut-up notes like mine...

I went to school today with a little more pride (not that I had any before) in myself and a little feeling of self-satisfaction that I've actually achieved something. It wasn't fame I was looking for but to have a number of people seeing me in hallways telling me that I had a good speech the day before was beyond my expectations. Pleasant, I'd say. I've actually proved to myself and everyone else that had what it takes to do something like this. It certainly made it into my short little list of accomplishments!

PS: See it from Edward's point of view about the whole elocution.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


It's getting extremely easy for me to spend my entire afternoon, looking, reading and commenting on blogs! I mean, there's an endless list of blogs out there and every one just seemed to be so fun to look at! I don't need to be blog hopping to read up blogs. The blogs that I've subscribed too can already give me a handful of stuff to gauge at. Needless to say, I'm not the only one writing posts that might as well be as long as my wishlist. But most of the time, I just scan through long posts, picking up what's important and interesting. I know none of you actually go through my posts as well. Well, no one reads anything on my blog except the tagboard!

So my usual pile of homework's been stacking up again. By again, I'm saying that I actually managed to shed some off the weight of my back and it didn't even last me 2days for it to pile back up. I came home from school today with a handful of Add. Maths, Accountancy, Science, Economics and History. Ahh... this is the life. Monthly exams are coming up next week and homework haven't been subsiding. In fact, the teachers seem to be more aggresive on giving out homework. They seem to be delighted at the very thought of their students, scribbling madly across the book to get their homework done by the given dateline, which is usually the next day.

Homework was supposed to be subsiding, since last week, in order to make way for me last-minute heroes to do their revision! I haven't managed to touch a single book on my shelf. Not even having the intitiative to pull out the History book to read up on the history of Islam, every once in a while! As usual, I find myself receded with studies and examinations. I swear, that there was NOT one class that I entered, this week, that didn't involve me fumbling for my pencils and erasers, hastily to catch up with notes and me turning the pages haphazardly, causing the pages to tear till the middle of the page, to make it to the next number of notes.

It's also July and most of my note books are almost used out to the very last bit - even the back cover of the book is filled with notes! My inks are also nearing to the tip of the pen. It's time to save money to re-stock my school supplies. Who wants to go shopping with me??

Which makes me wonder how Grace is doing there. Her classes have begun. We just made a phone call to her and she sounded really sick through the phone. It was either the line was bad or that the flu was blocking her nostrils that she sounded as if she was talking with a tube stuck into her nostrils. It's her birthday tomorrow and Edmund wanted to sabotage my mobile phone to make a phone call to her. I wrestled him (yea, pity him. Imagine his size and mine) for my mobile phone and randomly picked up the house phone and dialled her number on it, handing the receiver to mom and left. I did managed to have a word with her, after eveyone had had a go at the telephone. Keeping the conversation short as usual was easy. Wished her a corny "Happy Birthday" and said our 'love you's and shut off the phone, with her blowing her nose on the other side. I couldn't make out whether she was crying or she was really sick. However, she still asked dad for some money for school supplies also.

Regardless, I can still manage to find the time to blog about these uneventful happenings around me and the viccinity of school. Just comes to show that I'm not paying any attention to my homework and assignment. The only thing I find enjoyable doing around my house during rainy afternoons is to read Harry Potter, since my downloads are not completed yet.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I Suck!

I just got off a conversation with Edward. I took the guts to send him a copy of the elocution text I prepared. I managed to come up with about 1227 words, got it printed at Adrian's and realised it was extremely long. I cuit it short to 633 words and re-printed it. I thought it was an OK essay al along. I THOUGHT IT WAS OK! Note I've never given more credit to myself than I should. I hate the thought of growing complacent in undertakings, therefore, I never liked praising myself. But I do think I have certain qualities that I can be secretly proud off. I've always work towards perfection but have always managed to maintain a certain level of mediocrity. In other words, no matter how hard I try, I'll always turn up being average and below.

Edward just made me realise it again that I'll never be good. Don't get me wrong, it was good of him to be honest to me. I asked him for his opinion on the text I prepared. At first, he said my audience was bound to get lost in my speech. I took it as that I ddn't arrange my points clearly. He was reluctant to tell me off, knowing fully well, I'd be pissed at the end of the conversation. I made him say what he REALLY thought and he did vomit his thoughts about my incompetency on the text. It appeared to him that the whole text did not stand on solid ground. I admit, I didn't have enough strong points to pass my message. My essay was on a really small scale, focused only in the school, he added. My essay also sounded more like a complaint article than a good speech, he said.

Come to think of it, most of the things he said, I find to be true. I didn't occupy myself doing research on the allowance of mobile phones in school. I just used what I had in my mind, which comes across to Edward (and myself) as completely shallow. The text also sounded cheesy in a sense when I address my audience and some phrases. Edward calls it cheap-ness. I did, however, feel a little insulted. But nevertheless, it was good for Edward to open my eyes. I can't lie that I felt extremely energised after hearing what Edward had to say. I felt downright disheartened and useless. How could I actually come up with such complete rubbish? Expecting to be delivered to a crowd of restless 16 year olds? I might as well give the speech in an old folks home.

I've always thought my essays writing skills were OK. Now, it seemed like complete rubbish! Such crap I could come up with! I seriously feel like burning the essay and just pull myself out of the whole competition. The little remains of self-confidence in me has been officially crushed into pieces and drained from my soul. I'm dry. I suck at everything I do! I thought English was one of the little things I didn't suck at. It doesn't appear so, after what's happened.

Sunday Afternoon.

I've dedicated my whole Sunday afternoon, catching up with Harry Potter and the ongoing dramas between Harry and Cho plus the disbelief of Harry to find out that his dad was a school bully, instead of the usual ritual of disecting the History textbook or self-burial into unsolved Add. Maths questions, preparing for the upcoming monthly exams. With a bowl of leftover (homemade) coleslaw and a spoon sticking out of it, clutched in my left hand, I type this, listening to Imogen Heap's Hide and Seek, slowly, becoming my favourite song if I were to continue playing it on repeat and watching the sky through my window at the back of the monitor, gradually turning indigo.

I've decided to take things a little easier from now on. Considering that next year would be the dreaded SPM year, now's the only remainig time for me to hog up on movies, cantonese soap dramas, TV series and waste time! Just for the record, I'm not just going to merge myself into a couch potato freak, but I have decided not to stress myself so much from now on... till next year, that is. I've been told that this was suppose to be a "honeymoon year" since the beginning of school term. I never did took that seriously. Meeting with an old Sister (nun) today, made me aware that I should really learn to have some fun and laze around (especially on Sundays), when she told me, "Oh, Form 4. Honeymoon year lah!". I might just start to take that phrase a little more seriously.

Thus, the download of a new series, Prison Break and the second season of Grey's Anatomy and also the third season of The O.C.. Anyway, it could still be so relaxing to put your mind off some books on Sunday afternoons and just do what you like best. In my case, huddled in bed , reading Harry Potter, listening to some good music and enjoying the moody wheather outside the window, with the occasional low grumbles from the sky, is exactly the way I enjoy my Sunday afternoons.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I've been sitting here all day long, cracking my head to come up with something to write about for the Cheeseman Elocution. Most of the time, staring blankly into cyberspace, to the tiny pixels of the monitor. The only dilemma that I'm facing is that I'm not sure which title am I suppose to write about.

I approached Mr. Goh today, at the end of the lesson, when he was clearing up his books, stuffing them hurriedly into his bags, getting ready to leave the class, to get more defined details on the elocution. "Sir, can I speak with you about the elocution?" I said, looking down at him, as he was sitting on the chair, still busy with his books. "What? Are you going to tell me you're going to pull yourself out again?" he said, still busied with his books and not looking up. "Oh, can I?" I said enthusiastically. "Of course, not!" he said as he stood up, still scanning the table to make sure that he didn't leave anything out, with his right hand pocking his pen into his pocket. "If I was MATTHEW KANG," he stressed on the last two words, "I'd proudly go up the stage!".

Yea right. If Matthew Kang had all the confidence in the world and feared not of the idea of being ridiculed and rejected. We had a little conversation about the elocution day, the crowd I was going to face and my text. "So, my title is definite? Blogging?" I asked. "No, definitely not. You can still change. You can write about... 'Why Handphones Should Be Allowed in School' if you like," he suggested. "It may not be a prize-grabbing title, but it'll ensure the crowd backup that you obviously need, " he added smilingly, as if to hint that it'd be a great joke and a tease to the school. "So you're suggesting I change my title?" I said confusingly. Turning to look at the clock, he said, "Not necessarily. The choice is still up to you." I stared at him blankly for a moment with my mouth ajar. "Haiya, I'm sure you can do it! OK. See you next Monday, " he patted me at the back and dashed off. Something in his tone of voice tells me that he's taking this competition pretty lightly.

And I don't know why I still find myself, worrying excessively over matters as such!

I have spent my entire afternoon, shoving away my pile of homework, devoting full attention to this matter. I couldn't make up my mind on what to write, whether it was 'Blogging' or 'Handphones'. After much consideration, I decided to take a nap to clear my mind. LOL. Literally, my mind have not done so much of worrying a thinking in a while that it tires me out easily.


The nap definitely helped and I've made up my mind. I've decided to go with the title "Should Mobile Phones Be Allowed In School?" I find 'Blogging' a norm now and I'm sure none of them needs me to explain any further about blogging. Besides, there are some people that I know that don't really approve of me blogging. I have a hate-fan-base, that's for sure. Till this point, I've managed to come up with approximately 430 words or so (and I'm still not even halfway through my points yet). Writing definitely doesn't come as much as a burden to memorising it! I need to get this done, at least by the end of this weekend. I'm not sure if my points are reasonable/valid and I seriously need to get it checked by Mr. Goh.

I've got my fingers crossed so far. I hope this title works out.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Cheeseman Elocution Competition.

Every day in school, I dread for something new and exciting to happen. Something out of the mundane, pathetic lives we lead in school. Waking up at 6a.m. in the morning, when everything is still pitch black outside , to another daily routine is boring the life out of me! No matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to change spice up this sick routine. It's technically the same everyday! I wake-up, clean up, get dressed, breakfast (rarely), go to school, feel sleepy in school, wait patiently for school to end, get back from school and launch to my computer-addict self.

Minus the boring routine, there hasn't been a day that I spent in school, this entire week (and a few weeks before), being extremely alert and awake! It's impossible to pass the day without falling asleep in one of the many long classes of Mr. Khor. Most of the time, I find my eyes gradually closing with my chin falling gently onto the table, slowly falling into the tender, soft arms of slumber before the end of every lesson. The only thing that keeps me awake is Aiman hitting my back repeatedly throughout the lesson or when the class monitor addresses the teacher, only that I'll suddenly wake up and wipe away the saliva hanging halfway into my pocket.

The other thing is that I find myself daydreaming even more since the new time schedule started. It's easy to stare into the alluring dark green colour of a blackboard with some writings or number scribbled over it with chalk, letting my mind slip away thinking if anyone is ever going to come up with something wild once in a while like something we see on High School Pranks. *sighs* Imaginations starts to run freely and I lose all my consciousness again, paying no attention AT ALL to what Mrs. Chee is mumbling about in front of the class. Everything turns into a blur when I get myself caught up in another one of my daydreams. It feels like I'm on drugs or something. Undeniably, the extra time spent at school is really tiring. I could swear that by the end of Wednesday, it felt like it was Friday!

Enough about boring school.

So here I am complaining about the same ol' boring school when I just got myself a 12 marks worth of demerit on Wednesday and at the same time, have a 600words worth of essay to prepare for. You know, after what's happened to me for the past 2 days, I shouldn't be complaining about how boring school is. I'm not gonna change it cause school IS boring... and definitely troublesome too.

Remember how worried and caught up I was when Mr. Goh said I was going to represent my class for the Inter-Class Oral Competition, thingking that it was going to be a speech kinda thing when it turned out be an ordinary one-on-one oral test? Well, this time it's for real. For a moment I thought I already had passed the barrier of fearing a presentation on stage facing approximately 265 restless students, but I was wrong. Mr. Goh once again, happily picked me to represent my class for the annual Cheeseman Elocution Competition! At the beginning of the year, I thought it was going to be the Inter-Class Public Speaking Competition, which by now, I have heard no news off. This time it's the Cheeseman Elocution Competition?! Didn't I tell you the school was troublesome with so many "annual" events?

I've heard of this elocution competition a couple of times before in the past 3years of my schooling life. I was never bothered (the I-don't-give-a-damn attitude) to learn or know about it, always living under the impression that I am never ever going to get picked to join any of those heinous competitions. Who would ever thought that I'd be picked for the most of it, on my 4th year of school!? I never thought of this prospect when I chose the arts stream class, at the beginning of the year. I wasn't going to give in easily to Mr. Goh when he broke the bad news to me, pulling me out of Mr. Samad's class when he was saying somehting about midpoints, I deliberately begged Mr.Goh to differ his choice!

He simply refused repeatedly and was on the verge of yelling at me when I finally relented. He wrote my name down on the back of the piece of paper, that was meant for the participants of the elocution, with rules and regulations and particulars about the elocution printed, unceremoniously over it. I gave him a really messed up expression when he finished writing the final letters of my elocution title which is 'Blogging'. Mr. Goh kind of wrote the title himself without asking me for my consent. I just nodded my head in blankly when he assured me the date and the time of the elocution, set on the next Thursday (13/7) on 12.40, I think.

Matt : So who am I going to face? The whole of Form 4?
Mr. Goh : I don't think so. I think there'll be changes this year.
Matt : Who are the other participants?
Mr. Goh : I'm not sure. They'll have to be picked by their own respective teachers.
Matt : How long is the speech itself?
Mr. Goh : About 5-6minutes.
Matt : ...
Mr. Goh : I'm sure you can do it!

Somehow, he's tone of voice didn't really convinced me that I wasn't going to face the whole of Form 4 and he was pretty rush-y about this whole thing. I liked his words better when he told me to represent my class in the beggining of the year! He sounded more encouraging than this. Maybe he was juts being fed up by my complaints and my lack of confidence. I can't blame him. Come to think of it, the only RATIONAL explanation to me agreeing to Mr. Goh the last time was that I had lots of time to prepare.
But now, to come up with 600words (it's not that hard actually) about the topic 'Blogging' itself in a few days time? Let me catch my breath first...

I don't even know what the hell this elocution is! I mean, I had helped Grace with one of her elocutions 4years back and she got pretty good grades for writing my ideas and taking everything that I say about 'peer pressure'. It sounded really stupid when I asked Mr. Goh, "What exactly is AN elocution?". I've never done one or attended one before! I think it's something similar to public speaking, is it? I'll Google it.

It's like I have not enough stuff to deal with. Technically, my usual pile of homework is still there, despite all the effort I've been putting in lately to (hopefully) finishing it. It still stands! Plus, the monthly examinations are coming up in two weeks time, including this week. I haven't exactly put any effort it that, I gotta admit. I've been spending alot of wasted afternoons instead of sitting down and opening my book to the million tiny words of my History textbook, reading up on the history of the Prophet Muhammad and memorising numerous names with really weird spelling, and falling asleep not long after. I still prefer the wasted afternoons.

But now, I'm going to have to think of come up with something to write about blogging. And fast.