Wednesday 29 February 2012

The Great Singapore Adventure: Part 2!

Continuing where I left off, Saturday morning actually saw us meeting our hosts face-to-face for the first time. For the first two days, both Joshua and Yong May went off to work and to bed so early that we never actually saw them.
I then met Francis for breakfast at Forty Hands, where I was too lazy to take photos, and then hopped across the street to Books Actually. Where I go uber <3<3<3<3<3!

You get stuff like this
In cutesy paper bags

The shop's filled filled with lots of artsy fartsy kind of stuff, and is SHO PWETTY.

But I shall stop fangirling here and tell you if you want to see the rest of the photos, you can check it out on facebook. =)

Since my next appointment with Jo was a little delayed, we hopped on over to Littered with Books, where they had this huge sign saying, no photos allowed. And this was where Stupid transport moment #3 was realised. See I'd been hanging my small little digital camera off my wrist because I was too lazy to bring my huge handbag out. And somewhere between dashing in and out of the taxi in the rain, I'd left my camera behind.
The good part was, Francis called the taxi company and we managed to get it back right before I rushed onto the MRT to meet Jo at Bugis (again). THANK YOU FRANCIS!
The dashing Mr Cheah, checking out some deep, philosophical books. Or something.

Okay, so back to Jo and Bugis, our plans were nearly cancelled because of the rain, but after lunch we decided to brave the drizzle anyway. A map reading error made us start walking in the wrong direction, but it was worth it because we passed by a second-hand bookstore where I got these for only SGD5:
Meh, I can't read this until after Easter.

And after a long trek back in semi-drizzle, we finally reached Haji Lane!
And because I am this crazy person who meets multiple people at multiple time slots, I hopped over to Holland Village after this excursion to meet up with Timothy Liu, where he treated me to Katong Laksa and Singaporean otak-otak. This was followed by a little driving tour around Singapore and then he dropped me off at Haw Par Villa as he had to take his son for swimming class.

So Haw Par Villa was an unexpected find, because well, I didn't know anything about it. But if any of you have ever used Tiger Balm in your life, you have these two guys to thank for it:

It's free entry, and has all these educational bill boards and depictions of Chinese legends. And I realised something sucky about myself - I know a lot about Greek and Roman mythology, but next to nothing about Chinese mythology. Maybe it's because they don't write exciting Chinese myths in English. Or maybe they do, but I'm already biased against it so I never pick it up to read. I don't know.

Then it was off to Vivocity, for dinner with our hosts... and now that I'm blogging about it, this feels like a bit of an overkill in just one day. I'm crazy. Meh. So final picture for the post:
Me, Yong May, Joshua and Edrian

Nothing much happened on Sunday except that we were late for church (back to FCBC at Expo) and missed the entire worship session by Israel Houghton. :( I still blame Edrian for talking too much. HAHAHAHA. But the sermon was good.

And finally, the great Singapore adventure came to an end. I shall do this again soon.

Monday 27 February 2012

#atozchallenge: what should I write this year?

Okay, so I signed up for the Blogging from A to Z challenge again this year (#atozchallenge on twitter). This is basically a challenge where you write a post every day except Sundays during April, with each post titled sequentially from A to Z. This kicks off on April 1st, which is the only Sunday for which we'll write a post.

Last year, I wrote a short story series at my old blog here and I'm wondering if I should do something similar this year, or if I should write a series of unrelated fiction, or if I should do posts on other themes, like say books, or blogs, or... I don't know.

The deal is, if I do write fiction, instead of waiting for alphabet prompts, or having to hunt for the right word, I've decided that I will just take the last word in the dictionary for each alphabet. Now I haven't actually picked up my Oxford to check what those words will be... so I suppose that will be part of the challenge!

Sunday 26 February 2012

#fireplace: Give me this mountain

The question sometimes really is how much do you want it? How much do you want this change you keep talking about, dreaming about, quarrelling over? How far are you willing to go? How dirty are you willing to get?

Dreams aren’t made of shimmering fairy clouds, castles in the air. They’re made out of blood and sweat and tears - how far are you willing to go for this dream of yours?

It was a passing comment in last week’s sermon, but Pastor Doug Norwood mentioned the passage about the lame man who was waiting at the pool called Bethesda for the angel to stir up the waters of healing.

John 5:6-7
When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
“Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

That’s what we do, isn’t it? When someone asks us how much we want something, we end up giving excuses about why we don’t have it, or can’t.

And then Dr Peter Daniels, in yesterday’s sermon, mentions Caleb and how at 85 years of age, he says, “Now therefore, give me this mountain”. Give me this mountain. Let me take it up as my challenge, as my right, as mine. It won’t be easy. It’s a mountain. It’s a giant. But it’s mine for the taking.

Joshua 14:12
Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.”

So give me this mountain.
Give me the impossible sphere of performance arts that nobody understands.
Give me the dance that draws Your Spirit to hover over our assembly in worship.
Liberate my feet, loose my hands, pour forth the words that speak Life.
I am hungry.

Friday 24 February 2012

The Great Singapore Adventure!

In lieu of a #fridayflash post, I shall regale you with the adventures of Anna in Singapore!

Thursday started off with a bit of a mad rush to the airport because of the early morning jam. Eeks. The flight was smooth - in fact, we landed early, and I spent the two-ish hours waiting for Edrian's flight from KL to arrive re-reading KaSonndra's book When Copper Suns Fall so that I could finally get round to writing the review (which, incidentally is finally up here).

Edrian took about an hour to get out of the airport and clear immigration, so I was kind of glad that I decided on the peach tart and iced chocolate I had earlier. Hopped on the bus to Terminal 2 then caught the MRT into town and got distracted fiddling around with bluetooth keyboards so much so that we totally missed the announcement that we were supposed to switch trains at the Tanah Merah station. We only realised this when I heard an announcement saying "Next station - Changi Airport". The conductor comes out from the end of the train and looks at us funny because everyone else has disembarked so we asked if we were actually supposed to change at Tanah Merah, to which he confirms yes, we were. So that was half an hour wasted going up and down the tracks: Stupid transport moment #1. The rest of the trip to Yong May's apartment on Depot Road was pretty uneventful, thanks to the very awesomely detailed instructions she e-mailed us on how to get there.

Cassandra, whom I met in Project Dance, graciously picked us up from there via taxi where she and her friend Michelle treated us to a lovely dinner and desserts at Raffles City. Thank you, girls!
Michelle, Cass, me. Photo stolen from Edrian's facebook.
Then we took the MRT down to the main reason we were in Singapore!
 For which I took crappy photos in the beginning, just for the heck of it.

I pretty much enjoyed it, until Edrian and the oh-so-musical-guys started bitching at the end about how the sound wasn't that great, and all they did was what they already they did in youtube, and how the musicians weren't the good ones they saw on youtube and were probably team B, and how Israel doesn't really connect with the crowd, etc. I mean, the only gripe I had before that was that I couldn't really hear the backing vocals, which I was keen on catching because ohgoshtheyalwayshavesuchintricateharmonies. Urgh. But you know how negative comments just stick? Okay, gripe number 2 would probably be that the expo hall was flat, so I couldn't see anything much anyways, but at any rate, I went there with the intention that it would be a great worship concert and if it's a worship concert, well it doesn't matter if you can't see the singers. Mini epiphany (not really) on the fact that I'm beginning to depend too much on hype, especially in worship, to be able to worship, and how I should really be concentrating on that still small voice, but that's a post for another day.
Followed the Metro Tabernacle people for frog porridge at Geylang after that, which was pretty yummy, though I was dead tired. On the taxi ride back, Edrian fell asleep and I was zoning out a little, which resulted in the taxi stopping a little further than he should have, so we had to walk. A bit. More.

So I get annoyed with people who say they'll do one thing but then don't, so Friday started with a bit of a what-the-heck moment because Edrian's friend who was supposed to pick us up, forgot. This led to Stupid transport moment #2, where he misread the bus number, leading to us miscounting the number of stops, so we got down from bus 195 at some random bus stop and wondered where the Tiong Bahru Market is. We asked a random passerby how long it took to walk to the market, whereby he gave us a funny look (again!) and said that it's really far, at least 4 bus stops away. So we waited for the next bus. And it really was quite far away.
At any rate, we managed to have breakfast, and then the guys were all agog about going to this here place:

Which was a bit of heaven for them, but pretty boring for me after awhile, because they spent THREE HOURS deciding on what bass guitar to buy. It was a Hartke. For SGD730, or thereabouts.

Got stopped after two quick shots because apparently we can't take pictures. Meh.
Random koi pond at Suntech City Mall
Hopped to Suntech City Mall after that for lunch and a bit of a walk around before I went off and left the guys behind to meet Anne in Bugis.
3D art!
We caught a shot of the 3D art thing (which wasn't half as impressive as I thought it would be) and I got tricked into thinking that the Shaw Theatre in this artsy-fartsy place would be an actual theatre instead of a movie theatre. Ah, wishful thinking.
You is tricked me....
This is La Salle school of performing arts. ARGH SO PRETTY!
Accidentally bumped into Shari and Jim at Singapore Plaza (I think that's what it's called? Or Plaza Singapore?) which was pretty good because I didn't get to meet them otherwise. =(
HELLO HWAS! And Anne :)
Actually managed to catch 3/4 of the Hwa siblings in Singapore too! I think it's the first time I've met all of them in the same place, excepting Yue-Yi who's in the UK, but then again I meet her more often than the others. Err actually, I think except for Wei-An who was in Project Dance for 3 days I probably met Hui-En only once, and I'm not sure if I did (or did not) actually ever meet Shi-Hsia in real life. Maybe at a NSCF camp, but I'm not sure.

To be continued...

Tuesday 21 February 2012

#bookreview: When Copper Suns Fall by KaSonndra Leigh

When Copper Suns Fall (Copper Suns, #1)When Copper Suns Fall by KaSonndra Leigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Micah Prizeon has been in a coma for a year, a tragic fall weakening him enough to allow the deadly glutovirus to take over his body. Fifteen-year-old Chela, his twin sister, is certain that the fall was no accident and vows to find the cause before his life support is pulled and his body used for medical testing. Set in an America (now called the Nation of Corunum) devastated by the wars between angelic groups, Chela must also find a way to hide the outlawed celestial powers burgeoning in her before she too is sent away.

When Copper Suns Fall, KaSonndra Leigh’s debut novel, was an enjoyable read. Chela, the main protagonist, is easy to identify with - a somewhat impulsive, naive teen, struggling to keep her head up in overwhelming circumstances, loyal to a fault and trying her best to keep all her loved ones safe from harm.

What's the mysterious link between Faris, her Caducean Protector and co-Champion, and Seth Alton, the brooding Thoughtmaster that Chela suspects is Tainted? Who exactly was Chela’s mother, and what dark family secrets have gone with her to the grave? Who can she really trust?

Although the pacing could have been improved a little - the dearth of information in the beginning was somewhat made up by a barrage of it towards the end, with lots of unexpected revelations - it sets you up to wonder what happens to Faris and how the whole problem with the Beast will be resolved. (I have my theories on that, but we'll see.)

Book two should be an interesting read.

Overall, I'd give this book 3.5 stars.

I received this e-book as a review copy from the author.

View all my reviews

Friday 17 February 2012

#fridayflash: Dreams

The first thing Diane asked me when she found me was, “Are you going back?”
I didn’t know what to say. What was there to go back for? Mr. Lee had made it very clear that I wasn’t wanted. To think I had called the man ‘dad’ for a couple of years.
“Your mom misses you,” she said.
I found looking down, at the floor, at the walls, anywhere but her.
“Oh come on. Admit that you miss her too.”
Mrs. Lee. Mom. Well, I did at that. “Maybe,” I found myself saying.
“What are you doing here anyway?”
I could feel a blush rising from my neck to my cheeks as she gazed around the little coffee shop we were in.
“Working. Doing what I would have been doing three years ago if it hadn’t been for… mom,” I said, a little more brusquely than I had intended.
“I shouldn’t disturb you then. When do you get off?”
“We close at eleven. I… I’ll meet you at the park at midnight.”
She nodded, smiled, and left, leaving a churning in my chest.
I don’t really know why I had been so keen on chasing her away. It was pretty slow in the shop. Whatever few customers there already had their drinks and there hadn’t been any traffic in for a while. My two colleagues were just hanging out at the counter, chatting. They were looking at me curiously now.
“She’s really pretty, wei,” Li said, poking me in the ribs. “Your girlfriend ah?”
“So high class, you think can meh?” Siang said, shaking his head.
“Eh, he also quite high class wan mah. Look at him,” Li retorted.
I just shook my head, ignoring their comments. It was a good question, really. How did I ever think that Diane would ever like me? She was the true rich kid, the one who had everything. I was the replacement kid who never quite fit in. Midnight at the park. That would be interesting.

She was sitting on the same bench I always sat on. Funny thing - she was usually the one who used to sneak up on me from behind whilst I threw my questions into the void. Now she was sitting at my spot, gazing up at the stars in the sky and I was the one sneaking up on her. I stood for a while, watching her hair blow in the soft breeze. I must have made a sound, because she turned to look at me.
"That's all you can say?" she nodded me over.
We sat in silence for a long while.
"No questions for your god today?"
It didn't sound like it was said with much sarcasm, but it hurt anyway. I found myself shrugging wordlessly. Maybe I was angry at God, but I found that I didn't really want to ask Him anything. What was the point? I'd asked why He had taken away my family, and He put me in a new one. I asked why I was put into a family and a place where I obviously didn't fit, and in one dramatic moment, I was pulled out of it. On my own volition, I'll admit. Maybe that wasn't the God part. Maybe that was all me.
So I found my question.
"Was it me, God? Was all that mess actually my own doing? Could it be that I was meant to stay?"
"I thought you didn't want that kind of acceptance," Diane said, cutting through my thoughts.
"I... I don't. But... I don't know, Diane. I used to understand, or at least I thought I did. I'm just confused now."
"Welcome to the rest of the world."
"You don't believe in God, do you?"
"I know you do."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's supposed to be your grand opening to tell me all about your god and why I should believe in him."
She laughed. "Don't mind me, Dan. I’m just goading you. I just want you to go back to the fiery old you."
"The fiery..."
"You know, when you'd go up in blazes defending your God, defending all your beliefs. You're just... you just give this hopeless vibe right now. Like you're lost."
"Maybe I am."
She looked sad when I said that. I don't know why.
"So what are you going to do from here? Continue working at that shop?"
I tried to see if she was sneering at me, but her face was serious and just a little worried.
"There's no future there. Besides, with your grades you could get a scholarship anywhere you wanted."
I shrugged.
“You’ve got to live for something, Daniel. You can’t just drift. I always thought you were the high-flier. You were the one with a dream, with a purpose, with a passion. I used to envy you, wishing I could be that strong.”
“And I’ve let you down.” It was true. I could see it in her eyes, now that I’d figured out where she was coming from. “Diane.”
She stared at me expectantly as I fumbled for words.
“Would you have ever dated a loser like me?”
“Don’t you ever call yourself that! You are not a loser.”
"I am now. Look where I’ve ended up.”
“Don’t be silly, Daniel! You have the rest of your life before you. You never answered my question. Are you going back?”
“You haven’t answered mine. Would you?”
“Yes.” It was soft, sibilant, disappearing into the wind. I found myself grasping her fingers in mine, not remembering when I had caught them up.
“Then wait for me. I will be back. In time.”

The gravel crunched under my feet as I walked away from her, from the park, from the neighbourhood I once lived in. I didn’t owe them anything. The dreams were mine, not theirs, and I would chase them. One day, I will find my way home again.

Sunday 12 February 2012

fireplace: centre me

I have, and have had for many years, a little plaything, a toy, something I like to consider and something which sparks off ideas in me. It is simply two circles of heavy copper wire linked together like two links of a chain. I play with this so often that at times I am quite unaware that I have it in my hands. On one occasion I was holding it so the circles stood at right angles to each other.
Anna pointed to one of the circles and said, “I know what that is - that’s me. And that’s Mister God,” she said, pointing to the other. “Mister God goes right through my middle and I go right through Mister God’s middle.”
And that’s how it was. Anna had grasped that her proper place was in God’s middle and that God’s proper place was in her middle.

Mister God, This is Anna, by Fynn.

Some days you just wish that faith could be that simple. That you could just grasp that God goes right through your middle, cutting through everything else.
Because something is askew here, something is off balance.
Too many things crowd out the remembrance that somewhere in your centre, there is someone, waiting to pull all things together, waiting to consolidate your life, to bring things back into balance.

So cut through to my centre. Pull things back into perspective. Make the world spin away, fall away like dust. Enfold me in Your spirit, Your love, Your presence.
Still these juggling balls, these many hats, these many faces, bringing them into orbit around You.
Remind me it’s Your face I seek, not the fame around me. That it’s Your voice that cuts through these hearts, not mine. That it’s Your words that matter, not the little I have to say.
Remind me that it’s everything to do with You and Your glory.
Then let me glory in You.

Jesus at the centre of it all
Jesus at the centre of it all
From beginning to the end
It will always be
It’s always been you Jesus

Thursday 9 February 2012

This is a filler post, with writing, blood, food and music

It's been a crazy January and first week of February, with lotsa work deadlines, Chinese New Year and then the manic I-must-finish-this-script session. So this is what's been happening the since... since the last time I actually blog-blogged.

Update #1:
I totally hate the ending. Boo.
But I kinda like the emo bits. Haha. 
It's out with a few dramatic friends (lol) to critique so that they can tell me that it really sucks (I know that already) and the rest of the team so that they can figure out how to make it work better. And we're also waiting on our song writer to finish the songs *hint AGAIN*. So I'm putting it aside for the moment to concentrate on the book reviews I've been supposed to write. Supposing I do have the time in between the backlog at work, trying to write, trying to sleep, trying to stay sane and all that.

Update #2:
Just for the heck of it, THESE ARE MY KNEES:

Because silly old me can't walk straight. You may now commisserate with me or just laugh your head off. That's what everyone in the parking lot did anyway.

Update #3:
I went on a food trip! Sorta. 
Okay, first off, I'm not much of a foodie. I don't take like a gazillion pictures of the food I'm about to eat or discuss the taste, presentation and what-nots of food. I mean, food is food, is food. You eat it. You like it or you don't. I don't drive to the next state just to eat food that I can get down the road, even if it's so much nicer in the next state. You get the drift.
At any rate, I was feeling bored and a little restless and I had finished up most of the script on Monday and was left with the last two scenes so I decided to follow the guys on their little Pulau Aman* excursion for seafood on Tuesday.
Surprisingly there was very little traffic heading out of Tanjung Bunga** to the Penang Bridge and out of the island as well despite it being Thaipusm (yay!). We cut out from the highway at Tambun, discussed the merits of the Claypot Crabs at Cai Xiang and set off to find the Pulau Aman jetty via some unknown-brand GPS. We found ourselves heading uphill via a very tiny track and figured something must be wrong before realising that we were actually heading up to a Celcom signal tower. Like, what?
Anyway, retracing our route, we saw finally saw a sign pointing us to the jetty. We took a short boat ride (abt 5 mins) over to the island.
The main point of this trip?

Fresh off the nets

Right into our tummies!
Okay, so it looks pretty gross this way, but it was delish! You take the scissors to cut off the butt (and for me, the head, cos it looks gross - the guys ate the heads!) and slit it along the side so you can pull off the shell and eat the lovely steamed meat inside. These are mantis prawns, by the way, just so you know. Oh and if you're looking for prices, these were mid-sized ones sold at RM40/kg. We picked 10 prawns*** which came up to RM48, and RM4 charge for steaming.
We had mee udang**** too, but it was nothing spectacular.
More pictures by Yuen Thern on FB. But I don't know if his album is public. 

Update #4:
I'm going to watch ISRAEL HOUGHTON live in Singapore NEXT THURSDAY!

Okay, it's past bedtime. I think you can tell.

* Peace Island, or maybe, Peaceful Island.
** Cape of Flowers. That's where I live! 
*** 10 ekor? tails? hahaha
**** prawn noodles

Sunday 5 February 2012

fireplace: Dissatisfied contentment

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energising, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [a]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analysing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)
Paul is dissatisfied, not complacent, always moving forward, yet he experiences deep contentment. This dissatisfaction is not a restlessness of spirit, of a person moping about wondering what his life is for. This dissatisfaction is one of motion: he moves forward out of deep inner motivation to draw ever nearer to his Lord Jesus, but the abiding emotion is joy.
…We experience a “satisfied discontent,” a complacency of spirit that leads to inertia and stagnation, coupled with an inability to experience joy or deep contentment. We are not dissatisfied enough to press on toward the goal, but we are not content with our lot either.
Following Jesus in the “Real World” (Richard Lamb)

There are days when I find myself in a strange place. There’s so much more to push on for, so much more to yearn for, so much more to grab at, and yet at the same time there’s this voice that says, are you pushing on, yearning for, grabbing at only for yourself? Or is this something deeper?

Maybe I get a little too introspective sometimes. I tend to over-analyse my thoughts, over-think my actions, wondering if what I’m doing is really for God, or really for myself. Nobody else I know seems to have hang-ups about this.

I’m restless. I admit this. I’ve admitted this many times. I’ve said many times that it’s time to move on, it’s time to go. But at the same time, there’s this sense that I don’t know if the time is right yet. There’s no clarity of what’s next. Wait - let me redefine that. I know what’s next. There’s just no clarity in how that “what’s next” is going to come about. What does it look like? What is its form?

I want to be a writer, yes. But why do I want to write? Is it only for the sheer joy of words? Yes, it sometimes is. Is it for the fame and notoriety of having my words in print? Yes, truthfully it is. For all the fun I have in writing, what’s the point if no one reads it? Is it to glorify God? Truthfully, this is the one question that sometimes gets crowded out of the equation.

Yesterday, Pastor Isaac said to not do anything until you are sure. But this begs the question, when are you ever sure? What if it’s your own inertia, your own distrustfulness and over-thinking that is making you hold back?

Backtracking over the many times I’ve said this (and the end of last) year that it’s about time to leave, I’ve told myself before that when I do leave, I will leave in a place of victory. I will not leave in a position of defeat, or where I am doing less than I am able. This is not where I am now, and to leave now would be a capitulation to the stresses of my job. I admit I have been distracted by the many things I want to do, but it’s up to me to find that balance again, and for God to make a way.

Depending who I talk to, I’m mainly content right now, but still dissatisfied, still wanting more. And yet at the same time, I’m also satisfied in my dissatisfaction, as if where I am, this limbo I feel, is alright by me. But it shouldn’t be. It’s a difficult balance to find, this strange tension, where you can truly say I am joyful in the Lord, and still know that there is more to be had.


Sorry for the lack of posts in the recent week. I have been caught up at work (boo).
A few book reviews will hopefully be up this week and next, as well as updates on the script! =)