Monday, March 29, 2004

Close the World, Open the Next

Not quite the right imagery for me actually.

I see the death of TFYE 2003 as just a chapter in my life. No story has really ended. Perhaps the one about theatre with that bunch of youths, but not the conclusive, decisive, life-changing finale of any major part of my life.

Most of the cast (the two stage manageress too) were so teary on Saturday night. Even TC.

Most of us at least; I could not get a shot of all of us together.

I wish I could have felt something more. I don't know why I was so relatively unaffected.

I rationalised:

Maybe it's because I'm too logical and sensible. I didn't see much to cry over.
Yes, it was the last day of that journey. But so what? Journeys end every day. Maybe this was a major journey to many. Some journeys end without us even knowing it. For instance, friendships end after one particular meeting which no one realised would be the last. Phases of innocence and ignorance come to an end with each experience. People are dying, life journeys are ending. What is this single theatrical one in relation to all the rest?
TC washed everyone's feet and many tear ducts were activated in the process. It was touching -- the way TC chose to perform such a menial and humble act. I watched him as he even washed the bucket and pieces of cloth he used to wipe our feet, himself. Very sincere and very domesticated.
But I couldn't see how washing our feet marked the end of our year-long TFYE journey.

Maybe it's because I did not go through as much as they went through together. I wasn't part of the much-fondly-remembered, emotional and bonding production "3" last year. I wasn't a dying human in this show. I was an eternal and aimless Moon. My emotional journey had never been anything close to that of the majority of the cast.

When I saw everyone in the mood that night, I was a little upset at myself that I wasn’t as sentimental as everyone.
But two nights of good sleep have returned me to my logical self again. Just because everyone feels that way does not mean that it is the only way to be, nor does it mean being otherwise is wrong. Different yes, but not wrong. It’s so easy to get caught up, get upset, get ecstatic, get swayed and get taken in by the crowd of the moment.
The entire pre-last-show scene was just so evangelical.

I’m not saying that the rest who cried are easily swayed, but I have ascertained that just because the majority are feeling some form of solidarity doesn’t mean I, in the event that I’m not singing the same note, have to oblige myself to feel that too.

“It’s me. It’s only me.”

Journey Home

I was on my way home after my National Skin Centre treatment today.

Opposite me on the MRT was an old couple. The man was carrying a National Cancer Centre plastic bag full of medicine. The two were so sullen and sad-looking. I don't know whether that's the default expression of that old couple or was it the aftermath of the hospital visit, but it made me feel so sad.

I almost cried on the MRT, just looking at them. I teared.

I wasn't feeling so much for the dying party. I was feeling more for the one to be left behind. Not just being left behind, but slowly watching her partner go and knowing that it's a one-way process. No turning back.
Later, I did also think about what it was like to be him. To know his life is heading towards a bleak end. To be leaving his wife behind and trying to find ways to make the remaining time bearable and good for both of them.

I thought about Ly too.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Turning 19

Frankly, the day’s events were sucky (those close to me knows that I use the word “sucky” when I’m exasperated and can’t find any official English vocabulary to describe my experience) for the following reasons:

1) I woke up to a feeling of loneliness, an emotional hangover from the night before. I felt like going shopping for my monthly spluging item with a good close friend, but none were available (the few I had in mind were busy). My Mum didn’t give me a wake-up call to wish me Happy Birthday (in fact she never said it at any point through the entire day).
2) I spent half my day at The Necessary Stage among people I have known for a year but barely have a rapport with.
3) TC the director, whom I once thought to must be nicest SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) ever, came up with the most ludicrous and ironic conclusion about my lack of fusion with the characters in the play – telling me I think too much and don’t feel enough. Then again, perhaps he was right – but within the TFYE group itself. Elsewhere, I sometimes believe that I emote too much for my own good.
TC even told me that I seem to be hiding my own vulnerability behind all the questions that I ask. I just want to know more, and I think questions are a good way to start a meaningful conversation than a mere comment on something obvious to both speaker and speakee. I don’t believe I’m justifying myself here, because I simply do not understand how TC, someone whom I had developed a level of admiration and respect for, could come up with something so remotely far away from who I am. Am I in self-denial? Perhaps I can’t quite blame him. All he knows about me is from what he sees me as in my interactions with the theatre group, which I will admit, is quite otherwise from my natural and genuine self.
4) The show went horribly for me. While the rest of the cast were enthralled at having been reduced to tears by TC’s dying grandmother story and thus having been in full swing for the performance, I was treated to the reality of the show’s appeal to a real audience. The audience was bored; they couldn’t make sense of our work. My friends made up 15% of the <70-strong src="">
Outside the TNS Black Box after the show

Amardeep, a JC classmate, even took a cab to catch me after my show, knowing that he couldn’t be for the actual performance because tickets were sold out. He joined the church bunch at Secret Recipe decked out in his army garb, looking good, and faithful as a friend.

My sister made me her own bouquet of flowers – the smallest and crudest in comparison with the 3 other elaborate bouquets I received – but the most meaningful because it is both what she does best and the sheer effort and thoughtfulness. And because it is from my sister. She wrote me messages that addressed my insecurity (that stems from having an academically excelling and guitar-talented sister, along with a Mum disappointed in me). “I am so proud of you!” were the headlines of her note. For a younger sister, she certainly is very sharp and sensitive to me, especially surprising when I’ve hardly spoken to her or even seen her the past couple of months because of my afternoon tuition sessions and night rehearsals.

From left: Ly dearest, my white hair, Michelle, Tengren, Mike, Hongshen, Shanci the gorgeous one and Edmond

Ly, very graciously and lovingly took a backseat as I caught up with the rest of my friends. Our supper of 9 included ex-classmate Amardeep whom I probably will not see for a long time after this and ex-boyfriend Edmond whom I’ve not seen for a long time. Ly took me home. He told me sincerely that even after the entire theatre business thing, when I’m with him, I’m Weiling. It’s like I’m back home.

A third kind of feeling that weakened me yesterday was that of I-wish-I-could-give-more-of-myself-to-them feeling. I wish I could have spent my birthday with Mum, Cui and Mama too, but I didn’t because I was out with my friends. I hope they don’t have the impression that my friends mean more to me then them. I am just so pressed for time.

I do thank God for showing me what really is important. Minutes before I was due on stage, I was frantically praying and yet resigned that my prayers wouldn’t change anything. I was resigned to His omnipotence – that just because I prayed for the show to go well doesn’t mean that He would ensure it, because He may know better that that isn’t what I need. It was a terrible feeling to be so helpless for that moment. But yes, God indeed knows what my heart needs – and He gave it to me, in fact, more than what I would have actually asked for.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Tears of Gala Night Eve

Tonight, I cried my eyes out after TC passed his genuinely disappointed comments on our full-dress rehearsal.

I am not usually affected by mass reprimanding and the likes, but it was a personal comment he made at me that got me so upset. He questioned me whether I had been trying hard enough through the production process. This is a sore spot because I am aware of my weak spirit that gives up so easily. It was the same weakness that made me give up on my A Levels. Yet, TC was speaking of this with particular reference to my voice projection, which I feel I had worked sufficiently at, but simply cannot make the mark because of what I’m naturally gifted (or rather, ungifted) with – a shrill and small voice. In addition to that, I suspect my inflamed thyroid gland is preventing me from fully opening up my throat. Are these physical attributes the reason why I’m not performing to the mark, or are these exactly the excuses that make me underachieve?

Secondly, I was upset that I wouldn’t be able to do well in the gala night’s show.

However, when Ly asked me why I was upset at the production which he had the impression didn’t mean much to me (not of his fault, but perhaps understood from my passing-off comments about the rehearsals), I realised where another major sensitivity lay. This production does mean something to me, just as all my performances do, even if I’m working with a group of strangers. It matters to me because this is probably going to be my last stage performance. I’m probably not going to be allowed to dabble in theatre in University, which would have been my last chance in this area since I’m not pursuing theatre as a profession.
Mum is sorely disappointed with my A level results. She never has been so upset with my academic performance. She has blamed my distracted mind, involvement with TFYE and worst, Ly. While I do not disagree with her, it just upsets me this badly, that I no longer have her approval and support in what I do and what means a lot to me. She seems so displeased, so unhappy with me. She tells me that it’s good that TFYE and the late nights will be over in these few days. Yes, that is what I have articulated too, but not really the only sentiment I have.

This performance, particularly tomorrow’s one is also very important to me because it is the only day when Mum, Cui and my friends are coming. It is the only day, and probably the last, when I get to prove myself on stage to those close to me. I fail terribly in the academics, which so often seems the world to most people and the value I have inevitably allowed to rub a little onto me. At least, I still have theatre to justify my worth, my uniqueness? I know this is such a terribly childish notion, but here I am laying my most basic vulnerability to everyone now, complete and unabridged.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Patriotism: To Be Expecting

A child. In fact, 3 or more.

I can’t wait to be pregnant. I can’t wait to confidently show off my belly with pretty maternity clothes (versus consciously hiding the unsightly womb-protecting pouch of lipids with breath-holding techniques). And to know I wouldn’t ever be physically lonely for the next 9 months.

Some pregnant women look so good. Some women look so good pregnant. I wonder whether I’ll ever be one of those who look wonderfully radiant when pregnant, or whether it will appear that yeast has had its effect on my nose and have bloated calves and feet upon the life-harbouring experience.

I can’t wait to redeem my maternity leave too. I’m sure I’ll be guaranteed a good maternity package in view of my future teaching career most likely being in the hands of the civil service. And we know that the Government is pressured to set an example after all the talk about encouraging (re)productive sex.

Pak Lah’s political legitimacy with his clean sweep in the elections, China and the dead Hamas leader Yassin don’t interest me as much as the Mama-and-Papa-leave and EM3 debate that have recently been the issues of active debate in the papers.

Yes, as “aunty” as Audrey the stage manager may conclude derogatorily about me, I am content with my auntiness – my premature-to-many maternal instinct, household-expenditure budgeting skills, indifference to many youthful indulgences and in general, being too unexcited and level-headed for an Audrey’s perception of a kid.

Technical Rehearsal #1

The set-in-the-making was revealed to us yesternight. I must say TC (the director) or whoever designed the stage did quite a pretty and cost-concealing job with economic hanging fluorescent lighting tubes.

It was nice to be in the actual theatre itself, to know and understand the space, to know where I am in relation to the audience. Everything feels more real and in an ironic way, more consoling now. I'm less hesitant about the show as a result of experiencing the Black Box’s dynamics and observing all the other things that will distract the audience from our not-very-impressive performance.

By the way, I love blackouts because that's the time I get to scratch my nose or adjust a wedgie on stage.

Monday, March 22, 2004


My teenhood is expiring soon. This is my last year as a somenumber-teen-year-old.
Sad to say, I don’t have much to be proud of as I edge closer to the 2-decade mark of exploiting the earth’s resources, fulfilling karmas and being loved.

As a guilty result of blogstipation, I shall make random comments on my life as it is now and other miscellaneous thoughts which possibly could be of interest to some reader.

By the way, through my last few months of teaching elementary English to Primary schoolers, I have accidentally discovered the difference between the usage of “shall” and “will”:
“Shall” follows any pronoun referring to the speaker while “will” comes after the other pronouns.
I shall, We shall, Shall we?, Shall I?
He will, She will, It will, They will etc.

I received 2 birthday cards elaborately decorated with coloured pens, tissue paper, paper mache and beads from the pair of sisters I’m teaching.

Primary 1 Lina wrote:
“Happy Birthday
Miss Chen
I am Lina Tay
I will wolkhare
Thank you
To teach me.”

Her Primary 4 sister, Emily, apparently articulate with more words wrote:
“Happy Birthday Miss Chen,
I hear wishes you a………………………………………
HAPPY BIRTHDAY and a……………………………….
HAPPY DAY for you Miss Chen
From that day on I will work hard and do my homework.
(If you are free please reply me.)
(I will tell you more news on that day about me.)
(I will take good care of my health and be hard working ok?)
(Remember to reply ME)
Emily Tay
(Your student)
(For Primary 4)”

Apparently, I have inadvertently done a superb job in getting these two cuties to develop some hero-worshipping infatuation with me. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about my task in their education of English in the areas of spelling, punctuation, subject-verb agreement and parenthesis versus postscripts.
Don’t ask me where the I-will-be-hardworking-and-healthy-as-a-present-to-you concept came from. Never have I condoned anything of this nature (primarily due to the fact that the 2 girls always faithfully finish my assigned homework). Perhaps their Mum cleverly chose this opportunity and their passion for tuition to sneak in this very-Chinese and Singapore-education “moral” principle.

Production week has arrived. This week holds the technical rehearsals and the 4 badly sold-out shows. Sold-out isn’t self-praise here. With practical reasoning, 4 shows with only about a hundred seats per show isn’t hard to sell out. Furthermore, considering that we’re unheard-of amateurs, the good-sales credit then should go to the publicity campaign (flyers, TV Mobile and the Straits Times). We’re also the cheapest show in the TNS-M1 Theatre Connect ($15, $13 for concession eligiblets).
Okay, perhaps I shouldn’t be that wet a blanket (in spite of being logically and reality-wise sound), especially in the performance week itself.

On a brighter, or rather the more enthusiastic, note, this will probably be my last performance in a long time. Chances are that I wouldn’t be taking up Drama again should I enter Uni. As I fill out my CCA records for the university applications, I realised I had not ventured into other areas. I was in Table Tennis and Drama both in Secondary school and Junior College. I’ll like to try out a wilder sport if my Mum allows me to take up some extra-curricular activity (previously, she didn’t have much say since “c” in CCA represented “co-“, or more implicatively, “compulsory”). She’s tired of me having too many distractions in my schooling stint and is bent on ensuring I am closer to getting A’s in the next lap of my educational career.

But again, I digress (never begin a sentence with “But”, “And” and “Because”, unless you have artistic license to do so, or simply unless you’re not taking a Cambridge-related examination). The abovementioned “more enthusiastic” side of things refers to the dull nudge I have within, compelling me to make this performance a good swan song (even if I’m only playing the pimply and grouchy moon occupying the back corner of the stage with a few redundant lines in a 45-minute play).

And while gala night falls on my 19th birthday, I am aiming at the very least, not to make a pathetic memory of my presence on stage on that over-glorified annual event. The additional impetus lies in the reality that the gala-night Thursday is the only day when my family and friends are coming. In other words, Thursday would be the worst day to make a dog's dinner of myself.

At the end of this week, I am really looking forward to the return of my nightlife (just staying home). I can’t wait to part with the lonely late journeys home from rehearsals (which also requires me to walk past the still hauntedfied-by-night swimming pool in my estate, where I imagine some hair-covering-face “The Ring” woman emerging suddenly from the “Dark Water” and pulling me down into her world).

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Living Life

The past 3 months has the been the best time of my life since Junior College.

I had the most horrendous time of my life in my 2 years of JC. It does not matter whether I suffered out of my incompetence and/or clumsiness in handling the JC syllabus/lifestyle, or that most victims of the unsympathetic University-screening 2-year-course experience the same ordeal, these two years have left terrible marks on me. Any allusion to the aforementioned concentration camp for the soul immediately draws a feeling of nausea and severe discomfort to me.

I speak of this because, having been given some time away from the inflicting elements of the A-Level course, I’ve finally collected my thoughts and emotions in a coherent manner and overcome the strong aversion of discussing anything A-Level-related. I can at last speak comfortably of my experience at the A-Levels.

The two weeks my A-Levels took place in saw me in a sudden resigned bout of teary depression. After the first few papers (General Paper and Economics), I had become resigned to never making the mark to enter University. Yes, it was the most self-destructive emotional choice anyone could make at such a crucial point, but I regretfully did. The failure of my strength of character at that decisive period, once my scapegoat for botching the exams, is now but a sheer embarrassment and another item added to the self-reproaching to-do list. Basically, while messing up the A-Levels was by itself adequately detrimental to my happiness, the awareness of my self-destructive ways that led to it is even more painful and more time-enduring.

Bumping into a JC-classmate last week and giving a clumsy but candid reply to the “So how are you?” question made me realise how much I’ve lived in the past 3 months. I replied her with equal awkwardness, “Living, really living life.” Of course, the circumstance in which we ran into each other was also responsible for my unusual response (I was clad in a short skirt, plunging spaghetti camisole and dyed hair and caught in a bikini shop – something that none of my JC-mates would have even imagined the overlength-skirt-donning, 5-year-old-hairstyled, cosmetics-and-alcohol-virgin Weiling in. As for the outfit that fateful day at Orchard, it was just the occasional wild let-go Weiling who went for such a combination).

But I digress (though only in parenthesis, but that’s what these brackets are for right?). Anyway, in the last 3 months, according to I told my cell group members as we reflected on what we had to thank God for, I’ve been allowed to do what I enjoy and have been doing them well.
I’ve been given a flexible though hectic schedule (the tuition darlings, uncompromising night rehearsals at Cairnhill, driving lessons and having to handle affairs at home with my Grandma now banned from entering the kitchen after her operation) of which I plan my daily affairs meticulously well. I’ve been entrusted with the lives of several children of which I believe I have been dedicatedly and effectively grooming them academically while doing my best to make their learning enjoyable. I have become more domesticated in the aspect of culinary skills. I have had time to care for and give of myself more to Ly, my grandmother and a few others.

Simply, I have been happy, and that’s what I mean by having lived life the last three months.

However, the looming dark cloud of the results coming out threatens to tear my bliss apart.

The A-Level results are coming out within the next 2 days. The results will determine whether I squeeze myself into a local university or punish myself with a third year of hell (i.e. retaking the A-Levels). They will determine whether I can finally discard my loathed A-Level notes. They will determine whether I shall pick up a few more tuition kids or begin dropping them. They will determine whether I can even think of going on a short shopping spree with a group of friends in KL in April. They will determine whether I get pushed back a year in my get-married-young plans.

But nevertheless, I wish to announce for the sake of accountability, that come what may, I have chosen to place my faith in God’s omniscience and grace. His omniscience lies in Him knowing what He wants for and out of my life, as well as what He has made me capable of. His grace means He will never let me experience more than what I can endure.

Whether I’ll have to repeat another year or whether I graduate to the next step of my education, I know everything in my life will work out perfectly by His plans and through His understanding; and this is not the “perfection’ understood by the world.

“And we know that in
all things
God works
for the good
of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
~Romans 8:28