Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Thursday, 25 June 2009 @ 12.35pm

I thought I lost Eddie yesterday. No, not in the sense that we were breaking up. He was out of range. I found him again after probably the most dreadful and panicky 30 minutes of my life. But then it got me thinking, where would we be without technology?

Eddie had to start work at 7am yesterday. When I woke him up, he was hot and feverish. He’d already complained of a sore throat the night before. When I left him in the living room before heading to my room, he was already coughing and sniffling. I told him not to go to work, and that I’d send him to the doctor to get an MC. He replied through his blocked nose, “Tho, tho…I habe to go.” The translation? “No, no…I have to go.”

When we reached Bangsar, he didn’t look good. I urged him to go to the doctor. No - He’s as stubborn as I am. I told him to try and get half day if he could. Before he walked off, he said, “Tho, tho…”

At 1pm, I was just about to get my lunch when he called. He couldn’t make it. He felt horrible and asked me to get him. I couldn’t. Trix is not like Mega. I couldn’t go as I pleased. There are rules at Trix. I apologised and he said he’ll ask a staff to take him. At 2.30pm, he called again and asked me to get him. He got an MC. I apologised again and said I could only pick him up after work. He said he’ll just sleep in the office till then.

At 4pm, as I was chatting to Ina through email, I mentioned to her that Eddie was sick and stranded at Bangsar till I could fetch him. She said that she was leaving work early and could pick him up and bring him to Trix. Great. I called Eddie. He didn’t answer. I tried again. The phone was switched off. I called the outlet. They told me he’d left. I freaked out. “Where did he go? How did he leave? I was supposed to pick him up! He has no transport and he’s not well.” The staff just kept saying, “Sorry ma’am.” And the panic began to set in…

I kept calling his phone. Sometimes it rang, but he didn’t pick up. But then it would go to voicemail. I was panicking. Where was he? How did he go? Is he ok? Ina told me to calm down and just keep trying. I called his friends. They haven’t heard from him. Shit. In my head, I was thinking I’d go to the outlet after work and search for him. If I couldn’t, then call his friend and find a way to trace him. If I couldn’t, then find friends who were nearby Bangsar. In all this time, I just kept calling and calling and calling. And each time, all I heard was the operator tell me that he’s not available. He finally picked up. He was asleep and grumpy. I immediately called Ina and his friends to alert them that he’s still in the office, asleep. The staff didn’t know he was in there.

The thought of not knowing where a person is, or how to get in contact with him is probably one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. You don’t know where they are, whether they’re ok, and how you’re going to get in contact with them.

That got me thinking…how did we manage without technology before this? How could we go about without mobile phones and laptops and what not? And when did we all become so connected? I know that I can contact people through their mobiles, or office phones, or email or Facebook or one way or another. But the moment they’re not connected anymore, we panic. But even if we are connected through technology, we don’t have the same connection as the generations before us.

Before technology, communities were created through physical and verbal contact. You had to make a hell of a lot more effort then than you do now. At this moment, I am connected to a woman called Ivy. We’re often in contact with each other. I know what she looks like, I know what she does, I know her phone numbers and even where she lives. But I have never met her in my life. How did we meet? Ivy sells clothes online and I was interested in a kimono dress that I found through this website.

I got the dress. It was posted to my house. I just put cash into her account and the next day, ta-da! New dress to wear to the office. Ivy added me on Facebook and emails me regularly on her new clothes stock. Through Ivy, I’m also in contact with Toto Lace, who also sells clothes online. But I have never met these women. They know my body size, where I live, what I do for a living, what style of clothes I like to wear, and what my budget is every month.

As with everything else, technology has both its good and bad sides. It allows you to meet and explore a whole new world. It’s fast, convenient, and it keeps you connected. But it also means its easier for people to prey on you. For them to get your personal details or sabotage you by placing discriminating photos or comments that could tarnish you reputation forever.

The mobile phone is definitely another little wonder that has all the good points going for it. It’s mobile, it’s accessible, it helps you out in any situation (provided that your phone hasn’t been barred), and it’s a way to keep you in contact with your loved ones. But once you switch it off…that’s it. You’re disconnected. I never thought or felt that technology had such a major impact on me until yesterday. I never really thought twice about it. But when you’re disconnected…you’re out of contact, out of touch, out of range. If it’s with the one you love, that’s the scariest feeling in the world

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Passion for English

Tuesday, 23 June 2009 @ 3.07pm

We were in the car, talking about which schools are good and what sort of education our children should have (yes, it might be early. But it’s always good to start planning ahead).

I said that we should encourage them to learn Mandarin, and that we would learn and practice with them. He agreed. I said that they could go to him for BM and Agama, and myself for English. He agreed. Then I said, “who are they going to go to for Math?”

This question led to him asking me why I was (and still am) so bad at numbers. I told him that they’d done research that your teacher can be a very big influence in your liking a subject or not. I have never had a good Math teacher – or at least not one who was able to spark my interest.

From kindergarten, I’ve had Math teachers who were more interested in their own personal lives then they were of actually teaching Math. In my history of Math teachers, two stood out the most. One was an overweight Chinese lady called Mrs Beulah. And the only reason I remembered her was because of her name. She was actually kind of jolly too. Oh, and she spoke about her husband a lot.

The other was Ms Ting. I, along with eight other Math misfits were in Group 9 (the lowest possible group made possible specially for us lost causes) were put in her class for the last two years of our high school days. She I remembered because all she did was preach about Jesus Christ and what she did at Church. (You can now see why I don’t really fancy Math).

There were two more that I don’t so much remember their names or faces. Just situations that involved them. One was when I was in Grade 7 (Form 1). She was a depressing woman. Every time she walked in the classroom, it felt like she brought with it all the bad energy and dark forces with her. It didn’t help that the classroom was at the far corner of the school and already felt like a cave. The other one was an English man. I forgot his name. He just didn’t care. I remember once I copied the sums and answers from the text book and returned it to him. I was so sure that I was going to get into trouble. I didn’t really care at the time (what with puberty and all…) And what did he do? Marked it all correct, praised my good effort and gave me an A+. He was quite puzzled when I failed during the exams.

Eddie then asked me why I liked English so much. Ahh…another story all together. My first teacher was called Mrs Button. She told me that when you read a book, you could paint beautiful pictures in your mind and make it your own. She taught me how to use my imagination. I remember once in Standard Two, my teacher, Mrs Linda, gave the class two options – watch a video or write a story. I was the only one who chose to write a story. Mrs Linda tried to convince me to join my classmates and watch the video. But I was determined to write. So I sat alone at the corner of the classroom writing.

When I was in Grade 7 (I didn’t go to Grade 6, so a lot of significant moments happened when I transferred from Grade 5 to Grade 7 – really opened up my eyes), I had Mr Moss for English. He was the new teacher at school and had a new method of teaching. He wanted us to write. No text book references, no nothing. Each class, we were made to write about something that came from us.

In Grade 8, they introduced English Literature, which we were taught once a week. Mr Moss was my teacher again. This year, he opened me up to the world of Shakespeare. He made us play the parts and read the lines.

In Grade 9, we were allowed to choose what subjects we wanted to take besides the mandatory Math, English and one Science subject. I chose Art, Design & Technology, Development Studies and English Literature. The last three years of high school was probably the best time of my teenage life.

I did a Diploma of Mass Communications, and that opened me up to journalism – soft and hard news, as well as different sorts of styles of reporting. University was the breaking point in my life. I was doing my bachelors in Media and Communications, but majored in Cultural Studies and Philosophy. This opened me up to Albert Camus and James Joyce, among many other writers, philosophers and sociologists whom I couldn’t get enough of during my years in Melbourne.

I told Eddie all this, explaining to him everything in detail. I even gave him some examples of my favourite authors. I told him about Roald Dahl and his infamous twist in the tales. And as I spoke and spoke, I didn’t realise that I have allowed English Literature to become such a big part of my life. I think this was one of the reasons why I couldn’t accept being just an AE. I’ve been back at Trix for only a week, but feel more useful in the last week then I have in the last six months.

I may have honed my skills as an AE and have learnt to deal with all sorts of people, but my years spent learning, reading, living and breathing has made me become what I am today. I am an Editor.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Truth is...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009 @ 9.44am

The truth is…my life has been a total chaos. Ever since I left Trix, there hasn’t been any structure in my life. Those who know me know that I’m an organised, OCD neat freak. They know that I need order in my life – that everything has a time and place.

The truth is…it took three times before they let me go. And when they finally did, it was because of some clever manipulation that took place after I realised there was no black and white holding me back.

The truth is…for the past six or seven months, I felt dread and misery on Sunday evenings. And that’s because I didn’t want another week to start.

The truth is…in the last couple of months I’ve been questioning myself and my abilities as a writer (I started doubting myself after I joined that fucking job). And that was one of the reasons why I wanted to leave so bad.

The truth is…I haven’t been spending much time with anybody lately. Everyone I know gets a couple of hours (if they're lucky) here and there. And yes, I still blame that fucking job.

The truth is…I didn’t realise how much that fucking job affected my life and lifestyle till I was in the car driving with Martha next to me. She asked why I wanted to have dinner. My reply, “because I have time.” After a giggle and a high five, it was then that I realised that I really have had no life in the last six months.

The truth is…I need to start making the effort to spend time with certain people, especially those who have been the worse neglected.

The truth is…I’ve been living like a nomad for the past six months that I have to learn to stand firm again. That fucking job made me run from place to place without a breath, and at all hours of the day (and sometimes night). I need to learn to live normally again.

The truth is…I came back to Trix yesterday, and it was like I never left. I came in, got briefed on five newsletters and went on with it.

The truth is…it felt strange to leave the office at 6.30pm yesterday, with the sun still up. What felt even stranger was that everyone else was leaving too. At that fucking job, I always had to make an excuse even if I wanted to leave at 7.30pm!

The truth is…the grass always seems greener on the other side. But I’ve been there, and I’ve lived it. And I can guarantee you that it’s not.

The truth is…I’m an Editor again. And I love it.