Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Prisoner's Dilemma (Part 2)

Is it possible to love two persons simultaneously? Or the persons you love are mere manifestations of who you are or where you're at or what you yearn for in life?
What's it like to be in Guinevere's shoes? To shuttle back and forth between Arthur and Lancelot?
When KKN rekindled her affaire de coeur with her old flame HB, she put it down to boredom since ABG was totally engrossed in his work and they were living in a small back water town in the middle of nowhere. They just had their first born but she was lucky to have her mother and a maid to take care of the baby and manage the household. So much so, she spent her mornings at the club house and her afternoons reading Mills & Boons. A visit to her hometown led to a meeting with HB, whom she had a torrid affair that ended disastrously in her late teens. His family, who owned a successful business downtown had disapproved of the love affair between the boss's son and the sales assistant. (KKN's schooling was interrupted when she ran away from her grandparents' home. Although her mother enrolled her into evening classes, she was too pretty and too distracted by all the male attention around her to focus on her studies) They decided to elope but was tracked down and she was put in custody at a home for runaway girls. After her release, the family decided to move away from the urban kampung to set up a new life elsewhere. At their new place of residence, her life took a turn for the better - a job as a receptionist at a government agency exposed her to a whole new world of glitterati and dignitaries. She basked in the attention and generosity of her admirers and suitors while maintaining correspondence with her childhood sweetheart in the UK. (ABG's family lived next door to her grandparents' and he had started writing notes to her since they were pre-teens)
Her mother and ABG's parents arranged a wedding by proxy to avert a marriage proposal from a prominent politician. She left to join him in the UK, worked at a chocolate factory (which she would bring to mind every now and then to make him and her family feel guilty), got pregnant and returned to deliver their baby.
The revived affair a few years later was to have devastating consequences, not only for her but for an innocent third party who was a mere pawn in a vicious game of vengeance. The discovery of ABG's liaison literally drove her to the brink of a tin mine but she made a volteface, decided to salvage her marriage but refused to take the blame for their marital problems. Instead, she spewed vehement charges at the alleged "home wrecker". However, deep in her heart, she still kept the fire burning for HB who symbolized the passion and freedom of her lost youth. Confined in her gilded cage, she often longed for those unfettered days of far away and long ago.
Now that she's going thru a similar experience - torn between selfishness and selflessness, feeling guilt for inflicting pain on a person whom she feels compassion for, a sense of self-loathing at her inability to match his style or approach - she is struck by an epiphany:
A choice between camaraderie with a person who resembles her laid-back second bro Kamal and awkwardness with someone who reminds her so much of her late strict Big Bro Hatta.
Something's got to give, and she's alone again (naturally?)
To be continued ... The Cop and the Runaway (Coming Soon!)
I was so high I did not recognize
The fire burning in her eyes
The chaos that controlled my mind
Whispered goodbye and she got on a plane
Never to return again
But always in my heart
This love has taken its toll on me
She said Goodbye too many times before
And her heart is breaking in front of me
I have no choice cause I won't say goodbye anymore
I tried my best to feed her appetite
Keep her coming every night
So hard to keep her satisfied
Kept playing love like it was just a game
Pretending to feel the same
Then turn around and leave again
This love has taken its toll on me
She said Goodbye too many times before
And her heart is breaking in front of me
I have no choice cause I won't say goodbye anymore
I'll fix these broken things
Repair your broken wings
And make sure everything's alright
My pressure on her hips
Sinking my fingertips
Into every inch of you
Cause I know that's what you want me to do

A Prisoner's Dilemma (Part 1)

EOW used to give countless lectures on the topic, "A Prisoner's Dilemma", and she in her self-absorption, failed to understand why until sometime later. He was a world-renown professor at an ivy-league university - he led research projects that spanned the nation and continents, his publications were widely cited and his classes were usually over-subscribed. Despite the credentials and accolades, he led a simple and frugal life - he cycled to work unless in the winter when the snow on the ground gets too cumbersome for cycling, then he would ski or drive his station wagon as a last resort.
On the surface, he seemed to be a happily married man with a dutiful wife, two adorable daughters and a dog. But M whom he married after completing his doctoral dissertation had "let herself go" and had never been an intellectual equal to begin with. While enrolled in his classes were young and attractive females who hung on to his every word ("hangers-on", the uni version of female groupies or fans) and who are willing to sell their souls to be his disciples.
But as Fate would have it, he chanced upon an effervescent Oriental at the local Steep & Brew and couldn't his believe eyes when she registered for his class in the next semester. He just have to let her know of his intentions ("Intended actions, unintended consequences" was one of his favourite quotes). It turned out that she wasn't the submissive and docile woman from the Third World after all but a complex individual that was a challenge he failed to conquer.
Anyway, the point is there are so many male and female EOWs, either trapped in unhappy marriages, relationships or just very set patterns of thought(lessness?) and (non?)actions that they may or may not be able to free themselves from. Aren't "we all just prisoners here of our own device"? To be continued...
Hotel California
On a dark desert highway
Cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas
Rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance
I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself
This could be Heaven or this could be Hell
Then she lit up a candle
And she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor
I thought I heard them say
Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place
Such a lovely place (background)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year
Any time of year (background)
You can find it here
You can find it here
Her mind is Tiffany twisted
She's got the Mercedes bends
She's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys
That she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard
Sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember
Some dance to forget
So I called up the Captain
Please bring me my wine
He said
We haven't had that spirit here since 1969
And still those voices are calling from far away
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say
Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely Place
Such a lovely Place (background)
Such a lovely face
They're livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise
What a nice surprise (background)
Bring your alibies
Mirrors on the ceiling
Pink champagne on ice
And she said
We are all just prisoners here
Of our own device
And in the master's chambers
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives
But they just can't kill the beast
Last thing I remember
I was running for the door
I had to find the passage back to the place I was before
Relax said the nightman
We are programed to recieve
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave

Monday, February 20, 2006

How Do You Spell R-E-L-I-E-F?

R-O-L-A-I-D-S! This is a very American thing; if you don't know, you won't know. Anyway, ROLAIDS is a remedy for those who are not 'regular', i.e. a RELIEF if you have a problem that is 'stuck' (pardon the pun!) there for what seems like eternity and drains you of your 'joie de vivre'.
"It's not that the glass is half empty or half full. Instead, the question is why isn't the glass the right size to hold the amount of water it's got? Learn to size your expectations appropriately and things will get better."
Yeah, I guess one can choose to be happy regardless of the situation. One's hopes and fears are but an exageration of one's imagination. Having said that, I couldn't help but feel relieved that I have declared to myself that I will quit doing whatever that don't produce the anticipated results because it had been weighing on my mind like a ton of bricks.
If it happens, it happens; if not, let it be.
I'll lay it all at the feet of the Lord - let HIM decide what is the best course for me.
If I sound like a daydream believer, that's because I am so weary of trying to be rational and realistic.
I will let the New Age Gal, the Hippie, the Free Spirit in me and my daily diet of inspirational quotes to guide me:
"We each need to let our intuition guide us, and then be willing to follow that guidance directly and fearlessly."
– Shakti Gawain
"It is only by following your deepest instinct that you can lead a rich life."
– Katherine Butler Hathaway
And not let titles like Intuition: Its Powers and Perils by David G. Myers (Yale University Press, 2000) to deter me from my path.
"How reliable is our intuition? How much should we depend on gut-level instinct rather than rational analysis when we play the stock market, choose a mate, hire an employee, or assess our own abilities? In this engaging and accessible book, David G. Myers shows us that while intuition can provide us with useful—and often amazing—insights, it can also dangerously mislead us."
—Yale University Press
Essays adapted from Intuition: Its Powers and Perils:
Do We Fear the Right Things?
The Power of Coincidence
There's a Gut Feeling... by Karen Peterson, USA Today
The powers and perils of intuition. Psychology Today, November/December, 2002, pp. 42-52.
The Powers and perils of intuition. In S. Della Salla (ed.), Tall Tales About the Brain: Things we know, but ain't so. Wiley, 2005, in press.
INTRODUCTION (read it all)
1. Thinking Without Awareness
2. Social Intuition
3. Intuitive Expertise and Creativity
4. Intuitions About Our Past and Future
5. Intuitions About Our Competence and Virtue
6. Intuitions About Reality
7. Sports Intuition
8. Investment Intuition
9. Clinical Intuition
10. Interviewer Intuition
11. Risk Intuition
12. Gamblers' Intuition
13. Psychic Intuition
Selamat Malam, Mas!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

What Do Women Want (Part 4)

Loyalty and Sacrifice
“Apa yang kau cari, Palupi?”*
(What are you searching for, Palupi?)
BABY remembered this Indonesian movie by Asrul Sani deep in the recesses of her morbid mind - an Indo version of Nora from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House, leaving her unfulfilling marriage in search of ‘herself’. She herself had married young – she met him at that impressionable age of 19, a tail beam of a turbulent adolescence and childhood. In retrospect, he was the exact opposite of her urbane, cosmopolitan and upper class background. But of course, her father had squandered all of his share of the family fortune on misguided ventures and her mother had to rely on her culinary and other domestic skills to raise and feed them.
But she was her mother’s Baby – the spoilt and petulant last born child, the apple of her eye, the jewel of her life - in short, her ‘precious’. That her second brother was her ‘blue-eyed boy’ did not pose a problem to her until later in life. At that point in time, she was the little sister that her two older brothers and sisters had to be responsible for.
She didn’t disappoint her mother then – she was quiet (unless provoked), well-behaved and diligent at home and an excellent student in school. She was 12 when Abang and Kakak returned from the UK, had their first born, and Mak began to devote most of her time for their family in Batu Gajah, and left her in Yat’s and Kamal’s care. Yat was very enterprising, making her own money from catering food for university students, developing a varied social circle and taking her little sister under her wings. Kamal withdrew into his own world of music and hurt.
Then Yat moved out to live with her friends in downtown KL, so it was just she and Kamal, and sometimes Mak. Kamal had been her protector, mentor and hero but the role reversal occurred when she was about 15. She became the nurturer, literally propping him up when he was down and dejected.
So when she met AI at 19, and he helped Kamal to recover from his malaise, she and Mak felt indebted to him. He was nine years older, a self-taught journalist and creative writer from a remote village in a Northeastern state. He opened up a whole new world of Malay rural and underclass psyche that she, as a cub reporter from an urban and middle class background, found so intriguing. Besides, he was the darling of Malay mainstream media and literary circle then. Yat had disapproved of this mismatch right from the start, but he would get down on his knees and begged her to stay every time she wanted to leave. She felt needed and secure – the much younger, more attractive, more intelligent and more capable partner in an unequal relationship. What she was not aware then that it was an “unhealthy attachment” or a co-dependency, to use a popular psychiatric parlance.
And the flip side of the needy significant other can be very cruel indeed. Post wedding was like the other side of midnight. Once her first pregnancy was in its third trimester, he would head to the club house after work and she had to walk home from the office. It was just a 5-10 minutes walk in the evening but she had expected to be fetched from work like other wives in her condition. Not to let herself into an empty house, wash and iron his clothes, cook dinner and wait for him to come home at midnight. The constant rows over his ‘extracurricular activities’ was causing a strain in the marriage but one look into her newborn’s eyes’ momentarily dispelled all thoughts of leaving. However, the discovery of explicit photos of a cover girl in his briefcase was the straw that broke the camel’s back. She moved back to her mother’s, he begged her to come home, she conceived again, they went abroad and had a second child; they returned and pretended to be happy like many other married couples until she could not keep up with the facade any longer. A study leave was the answer to her prayers for liberation.
Fast forward to about five years ago - an unexpected turn of events, an on-again, off-again friendship that alternate between affection and angst; and almost three years ago – bumping into HIM after running away from “high drama”. Will she slam on the brakes and surrender to fate? To be continued.

*The phrase 'Apa yang Kau Cari' later became a classic idiom in Indonesia.
*A Doll´s House (1879) was a social drama, which caused a sensation and toured Europe and America. In the play a woman refuses to obey her husband and walks out from her apparently perfect marriage, her life in the "doll's house". At the the turn-of-the-century physicians used Nora, whose mood changes from joy to depression in short cycles of time, as an example of "female hysteria". Later Havelock Ellis, inspired by Nora's character, saw in her "the promise of a new social order."

Friday, February 17, 2006

What Do Women Want (Part 3)

The Ultimate Soul Mate
Yani often tell the person dearest to her, in her precocious way:
“Why do you have to make life so complicated? Either you do it, or you stop thinking about it. Be positive about life!”
BRAT used to get just as exasperated when her mother was indecisive; and now she thought: “I have become my mother”. With all the possibilities in the palm of her hand, she should be feeling on top of the world, yet she feels misunderstood, depressed and suicidal. Not suicidal as wanting to take her own life, just feeling pointless in going through life.
“You don’t understand people, and people don’t understand you.” Oh, shut up, Master Chin. You’re not faced with all these people who either don’t speak or speak in ‘tongues’ that would drive you up the wall!
“I just want to write a best-seller and live on an island with my clones, people who think and talk like me,” she told her confidante, and he smiled. Given a choice, she would rather be Rowlings than Queen E, but then again, she may want to be both. Who knows exactly what goes on in her mind? A girl can be so spoilt for choice that she cries on her bed alone at night.
But now, she doesn’t even have a writing contract, or a finished manuscript. For the first time in her adult life, she has to rely more on her charm than her brains, and it makes her feel like an airhead. It may be flattering to have someone doting on her - pouring her drink for her, paying for her meals, her hair and her nails, giving her pocket money for Christmas shopping, offering her a ticket to join him overseas, or pick a lakefront property in Cyberjaya.
But she never wanted to marry a foreigner. All that she wants is someone who understands her, someone who she could relate to, a Mr. Right who treats her right, a properly worded invite. She heard Master Chin’s voice in her head again: “You are selfish, and you like to show-off.” No, Master Chin, she countered him, you wouldn’t believe it; but actually, I’m very shy and timid. Or, at least, I used to be.
"Egoistical or egotistical?" EOW used to throw that question to the class. But I am not MT or MN to walk several steps behind and follow you to your office. Is the issue about obedience or dignity?
As far as her memory could take her, she had always wanted her own way, or “to be right”. Her mother and sister used to take delight in recounting the story about how they locked her out of the house when she was just a year plus. She had insisted that they take the bridge instead of the short-cut via the monsoon drain. What a little control freak! And what child abuse.
And yet she is once again at this crossroad or crucible in her life where she is torn between principles and nascent feelings of empathy for someone whom she thought is the Ultimate Soul Mate - the Absolute Real Thing. But she had had the same thoughts about others before him that she just couldn’t trust her instincts or judgments anymore. As HS would ask her:
“What would you do differently today?”
Would she finally be able to stop, get out and get in? First, she must check her eye sight and, secondly, step on the brakes. To be continued.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What Do Women Want (Part 2)

Sign My Name Across Your Heart
Fortunately you have got
Someone who relies on you
We started out as friends
But the thought of you just caves me in
The symptoms are so deep
It is so much too late to turn away
We started out as friends
Sign your name
Across my heart
I want you to be my baby
Sign your name
Across my heart
I want you to be my lady
Time I'm sure will bring
Disappointments in so many things
It seems to be the way
When your gambling cards on love you play
I'd rather be in Hell with you baby
Than in cool Heaven
It seems to be the way
Sign your name
Across my heart
I want you to be my baby
Sign your name
Across my heart
I want you to be my lady
Birds never look into the sun
Before the day is gone
But oh the light shines brighter
On a peaceful day
Stranger blue leave us alone
We don't want to deal with you
We'll shed our stains showering
In the room that makes the rain
All alone with you
Makes the butterflies in me arise
Slowly we make love
And the Earth rotates
To our dictates
Slowly we make love
Sign your name
Across my heart
I want you to be my baby
Sign your name
Across my heart
I want you to be my lady

This was one of Yat's fav songs. I should have put it in the revised post about What Do Women Want (Part 1). When I thought about it, Self Destructive Streak was too harsh and judgmental - people grow and change as they go through life; so does love - it may grow or it may wither over time. I came to the realization that Yat had probably had a Feminist Awakening or Consciousness (read Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique*) and felt that she couldn't exist as a mere appendage to Heinz, as Frau Gombel, the wife of the MD; so I changed the post to Her Own Identity, Her Own Money, Her Own Space.
She may start out thinking that she had found a good 'catch', a responsible provider and a husband who had elevated her status in society, but the sense of isolation and monotony of being a 'non-entity' is simply unbearable (that accounts for the popularity of the soap opera, Desperate Housewives). Most thinking women need to be more than just Mrs. Somebody or they will start to project their frustrations on to other women whom they perceived as having more fulfilling lives. So many women are being told that they are lucky to have successful husbands and children, but deep down in their hearts, they feel the emptiness of being just extensions to other people.
All the mansions, luxury cars, designer labels and jewelleries in the world cannot make up for the lack of meaningful and substantial achievements of their own, independent of their husbands' and children's. Or they will start to find perverse delight in trivialising and even sabotaging other women's achievements. I may post What Do Women Want (Part 3) when I have finally articulated my own experiences on this matter.
As to Why Women Love Bastards as a retort to Why Men Love Bitches, I retracted that phrase since it seemed to evoke strong reactions from certain quarters who took it as a personal attack. I thought it was a witty repartee, but then again, it was not fair to Geog either. He may be very different from Heinz but he must have appealed to Yat's nurturing instincts.

"You don't need a silly dance to do jack-squat with yer life"

* The Feminine Mystique, detailed the frustrating lives of countless American women who were expected to find fulfillment primarily through the achievements of husbands and children. The book made an enormous impact, triggering a period of change that continues today. Friedan has been central to this evolution for women, through lectures and writing (It Changed My Life: Writings on the Women's Movement in 1976 and The Second Stage in 1981). She was a founder of the National Organization for Women, a convener of the National Women's Political Caucus, and a key leader in the struggle for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Friedan published her latest book, The Fountain of Aging in Fall, 1993 and is co-chair of Women, Men and Media, a gender-based research organization that conducts research on gender and the media.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Love Actually

Happy Val’s Day! And love is in the air. But, of course, pour moi, it’s Me, Myself and I (The eternal Narcissus*).
So, here’s another piece of wisdom from Salerno’s article:
“The simple truth is that no one can orchestrate real love or even honest chemistry. No one can explain why people feel love for those they feel it for. You can’t will falling in love, but you can make people cynical and hard-bitten. You can remind them so often of the dangers of finding Mr Wrong that they second-guess every romantic spark within them. You can remind a woman non-stop that men just want to get laid. While reminding a man that women just want to go shopping on his credit card. By doing so, you contribute to a climate wherein both genders believe in nothing, trust in nothing.”
And similar msgs from family and friends:
“Love is so pure and beautiful…so unique-like u! Love is meant for everybody. Happy Valentine’s Day! I love u, u r my light”
- Yani
“Life is a chemistry. Dilute ur sorrows, evaporate ur worries, filter ur happiness & u’ll find crystals of Love. Happy Valentine’s Day!!”
- Hazlinda

It’s Raining Men, Hallelujah!
If love is indeed meant for everyone, why are there so many lonely hearts around? “It’s a Singles’ World”, another article from NST (12/02/06, F4), revealed that the ratio number of males for every 100 females (Department of Statistics, 2000 survey) for Never-Married Population Age 15 and Above always exceed the latter. So why are the females lamenting about the lack of prospects and spending Valentine’s Day alone or with their girlfriends? However, it did not provide a break down according to age brackets; but even so, there should be more than enough to go around.

*In Greek mythology, a youth who was punished for repulsing Echo’s love by being made to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool. And I wonder who my Echo is? No prizes for guessing right!

Val Note to Kid:
Hello, do keep your piece of mind in whichever part of your body. And let go of my hair. Speed Dating's for those who've never had a date for, like, 30 years.

Monday, February 13, 2006

SHAM: Self-Help & Actualization Movement

"Do you sometimes feel at the mercy of impulses you barely knew existed, let alone understand? It's time to seek out the deeper meaning and the divine lesson of thoughtless (and repeated) actions in your life."
Now, wonder how true are the forecasts of your daily horoscope? Just days before, I was contemplating the lessons to be learnt from the futility of thoughtless (and repeated) circumnavigation and non-actions. What do I attempt to accomplish here?
I've certainly got the emergency response but I somehow couldn't muster the courage yet again.
Then, lo and behold, there's this article "Self-help books? No help at all" in the Sunday papers (NST, 12/02/06, F9) that aptly describes my predicament. It's by an editor who concludes that the self-help biz is "a sham that exploits our weaknesses for profit". As a one-time detractor, and now a proponent, I couldn't help but feel party to the whole 'scam'.
Salerno says: "Self-help is an enterprise wherein people holding the thinnest of credentials diagnose, in basically normal people, symptoms of inflated or invented maladies, so that they may then implement remedies that have never been shown to work". He illustrated the phenomenal market growth of 50 percent for self-improvement in the US between 2000 to 2004, and annual gross revenue of USD8.5b to USD31.7b. But the most fascinating bit of information was that the key to self-help biz model was "failure and stagnation".
Then it hit home that I am still stuck in this rut of searching for a solution to "Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway" (Susan Jeffers). It seems that I would forever be doomed to walk the tight rope between "victimisation" and "empowerment". And I thought that this gal is gonna get her groove back, well at least in areas that she is an 'expert' (that I have control over, to use the self-help jargon!)
Well, time to transcend this sense of "positive self-worth", "be spontaneous" and "go with the flow" (easier said than done).
Salam PJ!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

What Do Women Want (Part 1)

Her Own Identity, Her Own Money, Her Own Space
Although it’s been more than 11 years since my sister died, I often thought of her and wondered why she left the stable and responsible Heinz and finally ended with the immature and insecure Geog. Heinz was 13 years older than her, the former Commercial MD for the Bonn-Cologne Airport, the corporate man about town, always dapper in his suit and tie, provided her with financial security, social status and emotional stability. And what can I say about Geog? Three years younger, not as impeccably dressed, a science researcher (“that dentist without a practice”, according to Heinz), obsessive compulsive, socially inept, perpetually broke, and still lost and searching now at 49.
Yat met Heinz when she was only 23. She was a stewardess for a chartered helicopter service, so the mature blonde and blue-eyed expat manager was a definite ‘catch’ and a passport to a more exciting world. After two years of courting, they married and left for Bonn. There she led a life of a suburban ‘haus frau’ (housewife), cooking, cleaning, sewing and waiting for Heinz to come home from work. Heinz didn't want children, so they just have his family and his friends for company.
But it was only five years later, when I was in Boston that I kept getting late night and early morning phone calls from her, crying her heart out about how cold Heinz was and how routine and meaningless her life was. She had decided to work as a local staff at one of the embassies and Heinz was not pleased with that. But she was adamant to be financially independent and was contemplating a separation. I could only listen, sometimes falling asleep with the phone in my hand.
The next thing she told me she had moved into her own apartment and had filed for a divorce. After a few months or years of enjoying her freedom with new found friends, she met a rich and dashing Romanian but he was married. They had a brief wonderful time together but she had to pick up the pieces of her broken heart when it ended. But that was not the only thing she picked up, she found ‘a spoilt little boy’ named Geog, who would be her pleasure and pain up to her death bed. He would cling to her but wouldn’t marry her because she was older than him (only three years, for Heaven’s sake; and I’ve met a 25 year old hunk who invited me to his home town to meet his parents). He would insist on paying only his share of the bills and doing just his share of the chores even she was lying on her back after traction. He would have the gall to instruct me on how to care for her at the ‘kranken haus’ (hospital) while Heinz was the one paying for her health insurance. And, of course, he was the one who bawled his heart out on his sleeve when she breathed her last.
He did visit her grave at Bukit Kiara (we brought her body back to be buried here) and put a dozen red roses; so did Heinz. On his second visit, almost 10 years after her death, he hinted at a replacement and invited me to go to Bangkok with him. To be fair, he has improved but I would not feel comfortable with my sisters' or friends' ex-partners.

Like I said I'm in a sociable mood, so just returned from my ladies' zikir group; the topic of discussion was The EGO. I learned that just 1 hour of contemplation a day about Allah the Creator and the reason of our creation on earth is worth 70 years of perfect worship. The purpose of seclusion is to seek heavenly as well as worldly knowledge, which is updated every single second, and can only be acquired by the soul and the mind working in concert.
So, for each and every day, I should allocate at least five minutes to contemplate on what I've done for Allah that day, repent for every negative thought and deed and attempt to correct them.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

Both Sides Now
By Joni Mitchell
Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons ev’rywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on ev’ryone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all
Moons and junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As ev’ry fairy tale comes real
I’ve looked at love that way
But now it’s just another show
You leave ’em laughing when you go
And if you care, don’t let them know
Don’t give yourself away
I’ve looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It’s love’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know love at all
Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way
But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living ev’ry day
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all
I’ve looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s life’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know life at all

Whoever ever claimed himself as a 'life expert' should listen or sing to this song.
Last Sunday nite, I was so overwhelmed by intense emotions that I had to seek help from a 'convienient' confidante. Sorry, but I have recovered. So, here's one dimension of a complex multiple layer of expectations and dissapointments (his and/or mine?).

Case Study:
AO used to have the world at his feet. Born into an elite family, he went to college in the UK and worked as a stoke broker at Wall Street in London in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He returned to Malaysia in the mid 1980s and was financially comfortable enough to retire - he owned a petrol station and property at an elite residential area and bought and sold shares on the Malaysian stock market. With his Porsche and poise, he was seen as a 'catch' to women who want to be 'set up for life'. Except that these women have to 'read' and 'respond' to his style and meet his mother's approval since, being the eldest and unmarried, he still lives at home and attends to her needs. So much so, he suppresses his own.
In the mis 1990s, something happened that he will live to regret until the day he dies. On the way home, he and his mother stopped by at the neighborhood store. A vivacious woman in a tight short denim skirt, a tank top and Dior sunglasses caught sight of his sports car and just stood and stared from the sidewalk outside the corner video store. He quickly dashed into his car to let her know that he was the owner. His mother, realizing that he was gone, followed and got into the car. The woman on the sidewalk seemed to snap out of her reverie and he thought he read her lips saying: "It's an old man, and he has a wife". By then, his hair had turned grey and he saw no point in dying it black.
From that day on, he decided to befriend the owner of the video store and invited him to play chess as an excuse to hang out at his shop. How he looked forward to her brief visits to AN's shop and, one fine day, a mutual friend set them up for high tea at a nearby five star hotel. He would always remember the way she looked that afternoon in her knee-length maroon linen skirt and pink floral chiffon blouse, and he matched hers with his own baby pink shirt. She asked him many questions about himself and his family. Then he decided to leave just when she was going for her second helping, and PC, JN and AW were stunned. But they thought that he had to leave for a state in the East Coast to pay tithe before Ramadan.
She asked JM if he had mentioned anything to her or PC after that day. JM said no, maybe she should give him some time. But he seemed to be taking his time and she thought mmaybe she should not be passive and wait, but be proactive. So, she decided to stop by his house which was just next to her old primary school on her way back from the store one day. She gave her 'salam' and was invited in by a nephew. She told them that she had been to their house as a schoolgirl long ago and his mother confirmed that her niece was her classmate. Since she had walked to the store, she thought he would offer to send her back to her apartment nearby. When he did not, she left her contact numbers for them to call her.
When they did not call her, she looked up for his number and asked him out for drinks but he told her that had a prior engagement. She couldn't understand why did he turn her down when he had waited almost everyday at the video store, the kopi tiam and the mamak shop to bump into her? Why can't he tell her that he wanted her to follow him home or get into his car? Why does he expect her to read his mind, read in between the lines and 'whack' her if she did not respond according to his wishes?
By then, she had grown weary of what she regarded as a one-way communication and had openly exchanged telephone numbers and hung out with other male friends. He then retaliated by having a former flight attendant (whom she called the 'Tart') to come to his house in a cab. The situation deteriorated to a point that he (or his mother) told the neighborhood tattler that he didn't want her, that he didn't even want a well-known royalty who was interested in him. So, why did he then showed her 'the Tart' making a u-turn in a cab whenever she passed by his house to work after that? Or moved 'the Tart' to the next block in her apartment complex? Or so it went on for more than 10 years til today - him hoping that she will forgive, forget and approach him again - to this very day.
This is a classic case of two people operating from entirely different social and value systems. The man had been conditioned perhaps by his family or previous experience that he only needs his money or material possessions to speak for him and women will make the effort to read his mind, approach him, do the talking and make all the moves. The woman, on the other hand, had been raised to expect men to make the first move, break the ice and tell her exactly what he wants from her.
The Solution:
He must be willing to swallow his pride and approach her or just settle for a woman who will pander to his whims. She will have to shed her inhibitions about being the 'pursuer', be less self-conscious and more sensitive to his inadequacies (but he could speak when he declined, why not what he wanted?) or just marry someone who will make her feel at ease. What do you think?

Right to Change My Mind

Talk about a girl's prerogative to change her mind. Since no woman is an island (well, not for very long spells), I have no choice but to 'reconnect' with the world at large once again. Perhaps when I've made my millions, I can afford to retreat into my Garbo mystique.
So, what started as an exercise in pure, unadulterated self-indugence - 'A Maverick's Notebook' - which suddenly metamorphosed into a socially embracing 'Bicara Communicare', is attempting to find its central focal point. Besides, I am working at designing a website for 'Bicara' and separating the wheat from the chaff, that is the 'no-nonsense' from the 'yes-nonsense'. And to mark "the crumbling of the Rock" and "the thawing of the Iceberg", I have finally decided to come out of the closet, not to coyly hide behind a thinly veiled anonymity, and viola, to reveal my true identity. An attempt at deconstruction? Maybe.
So, N Notes will be the conscious, unconscious and subconscious blathering or babbling of 'queenn' Noor ('the Light'), not of the Hashemite Dynasty, but of the Badarudin ibni Yusof ibni Shahabudin lineage, otherwise known as 'QueenB' - Baiti as in 'My House'; also known as Bet among close friends and family members.
Since I'm in my sociable mood, I would also like to give credit to my fellow sisters (in the entertainment industry) for shedding light on "the importance of being earnest", that is "being true to one self, not to live a lie" (there she goes again, with that 'authenticity' bit; although being the sometime irreverent and defiant social misfit or social critique (from whichever angle you choose to view it), I will surely fail in the Social Intelligence - SI - test, which is the fad right now).
I'll get back track on track with life's lessons from "Women of Rock" (Rolling Stone, Dec 1997), namely Courtney, Tina and Madonna but also Cher, Blondie, Linda, Mariah and all those rockin' sisters from the 1960s to the 19990s. Like, who held the fort after Coban decided to blow out his brains, who "took off with 36 cents and a Mobil credit card", who "turned down a blow job for a record deal", who was told that "America will hate you", who was "outcheesing the a--h---s", so on and so forth?
Which somehow brought me to Why Men Love Bitches by Sherry Argov (i.e. the strong and independent variety, not the backbiting, back-stabbing type). By now, you could tell that the cliched "changing mindset" is my cause celebre, my life struggle that I paid dearly for, that got me to be booed at an etiquette class (Why the excessive emphasis on women to be refined when men are allowed to be brutes?) but later selected as The Model of Feminine Finesse, and attracted the longest line for "the person with the least attractive character traits" in a self-help class (Don't hate me coz I'm beautiful, hahah, and dare to be different; and just what kind of exercise in straitjacketing is that?), and other costly consequences that are still too painful to disclose.
Since the topic has shifted to love (Love is All U Need - Beatles), I think Ms Turner best sums up my emotions:
Whats Love Got To Do With It
you must understand
though the touch of your hand
makes my pulse react
that it's only the thrill
of boy meeting girl
opposites attract
its physical
only logical
you must try to ignore
that it means more than that
what's love got to do got to do with it
what's love but a second emotion
what's love got to do got to do with it
who needs a heart when a heart can be broken
it may seem to you
that i'm acting confused
when you're close to me
if i tend to look dazed
i read it some place
i've got cause to be
there's a name for it
there's a phrase fits
but whatever the reason
you do it for me
repeat chorus
i've been taking on a new direction
and i have to say
i've been thinking 'bout my own protection
it scares me to feel this way
what's love got to do got to do with it
what's love but a sweet old fashioned notion
what's love got to do got to do with it
who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

"Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world" - Lucille Ball

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lost In Translation

Better Man

Send someone to love me
I need to rest in arms
Keep me safe from harm
In pouring rain

Give me endless summer
Lord I fear the cold
Feel I'm getting old
Before my time

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow through this pain
Lord I'm doing all I can
To be a better man

Go easy on my conscience
'Cause it's not my fault
I know I've been told
To take the blame

Rest assured my angels
Will catch my tears
Walk me out of here
I'm in pain

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow through this pain
Lord I'm doing all I can
To be a better man

Once you've found that lover
You're homeward bound
Love is all around
Love is all around

I know some have fallen
On stony ground
But Love is all around

Send someone to love me
I need to rest in arms
Keep me safe from harm
In pouring rain

Give me endless summer
Lord I fear the cold
Feel I'm getting old
Before my time

As my soul heals the shame
I will grow through this pain
Lord I'm doin' all I can
To be a better man

Bicara Benar (Authentic Communication):

There must be at least a handful of male friends who have sang this song at karaoke sessions. I'm no Feminist Male Basher and my heart genuinely goes out to them - even the twice-married and cavorting with a GRO. Sincerely, I could feel their pain, if the only way they know how to express themselves is through 'things' that they can buy or acquire, when being 'bad' is a defence mechanism or self-preservation against vulnerability and hurt. What went wrong with the way parents raised their sons? Why do most men find it easier to communicate through actions than words?

On the other hand, some women have the tendency to scrutinise, dissect and analyze each feeling that they go through. And, of course, there are those who have the tendency to be in denial of the reality just so they will not be stigmatised. And what can we say about the 'smart' girls who internalise and play by the 'rules of the game' and almost always end up the victor? Whatever the outcome or consequences, we all answer to our own conscience and how well we sleep at night. But the issue is to achieve authentic communication and a genuine relationship.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hallelujah! What A Revelation!

Baby can I hold you
by Tracy Chapman*

Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like sorry like sorry

Forgive me
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like forgive me forgive me

But you can say baby
Baby can I hold you tonight
Maybe if I told you the right words
At the right time you’d be mine

I love you
Is all that you can’t say
Years gone by and still
Words don’t come easily
Like I love you I love you

*Tracy Chapman is a fav artiste coz of her 'revolutionary' struggle; was torned between Talkin' Bout a Revolution and Baby, but thot I shld jive with today's theme. Enjoy!

Chronic Chronicles:

Talk about Hijrah and how I've migrated from self-flagellation to self-acceptance on the very first day of the new Islamic year. Thanks to Greg Bernherdt (He's Just Not That Into You) and Dr Phil (of Oprah Winfrey Show), the two greatest guys alive to knock some sense into women's heads (Now, Why Do Smart Women Make Stupid Choices? Only Heaven Knows). But first of all, I have to lodge a police report for having my brains stolen, or go for a lobotomy, hahah!

Why, oh why, does it have to come from men to tell women to stop making excuses for the shoddy treatment they've been dealt with all this while? I resisted HJNTIY for a no-brainer but, boy, reading it turned out to be a 'lite bulb' moment. Goodness, how I've been duped into thinking that my standards and expectations are too high - that I'm the one who is lazy, 'difficult' and selfish when it's the spoilt and lazy a--h---s who should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.

Some basic principles, according to Bernherdt:
1. Don't say you'll call when you know you won't;
2. Don't give her your phone number so you can turn her down
(If you've never made a call before, you don't know how much courage it takes to make just one phone call, write one card or letter, or make one visit);
3. Don't speak in codes as if you decline when you want her to follow;
4. Don't get sick pleasure from making women fight over you;
5. Don't expect her to drop everything to run after you when you didn't call to inform or make prior arrangements.
(In short, don't play mind games, don't expect her to follow with just a look, a signal or a throw-away line, don't be so self-absorbed if she's really the one you want, be a man and pick up that phone)

Wow, what a relief, what a load off my shoulders and my mind. All those years when CTS, EOW, JKS, AO, HS and KN were pitting me against DR, MN, AH, the Tart and whoever, I was taking the blame for being fickle, egoistic, a 'crippled personality', a flirt, a 'chicken' and a simply 'difficult' person. And if indeed I am all those things and more, then it's your God-given role to assure, persuade and convince me that it's you that I should spend the rest of my life with. For God's sake, I don't need to be in a pseudo or quasi-relationship. And I should stop this monologue; if you need to talk, you can always call me. Ciao

Aesthetics and Computing:

A former colleague, Afflatus, has decided to 'reinvent' himself and just focus on 'inobasi', oops Inovasi, for the central theme of his blog.
Being the kaypohchi that I am, I had to add fuel to fire by citing some succint statements from an article I just read this morning, 'Why does Stephen Fry hate Bill Gates?' (Word, Oct 05, 18-20):
Fry, who calls himself 'an absolute Mac evangelist' thinks that Mac 'was the complete future of computing'. And that MS Windows was 'so badly designed, shoddy at every level, the icons and interface are achingly inadequate. It's without thought, without love, without passion, without emotion, and that is unforgivable.'
He thinks 'Beauty is not an added extra, it's fundamental' to tech design since 'People thrive when surrounded by things that are well made, with life and vibrancy ..... with love and care'. In other words, 'Beauty is not incidental to life, it's essential'.
Well, I'm a Mac fan myself, and a Wildean like Fry. Cheers!