Monday, 31 August 2015

Deconstructing loss

I had been planning to do a post on Bersih and Merdeka and the new journey of life that I'm embarking on, including the exciting weekend that just passed, but instead I find myself sitting in Nando's anticipating some comfort food, pondering the vague concept of grief. 

I don't normally portray myself as an extraordinarily emotional person, but I am wildly emotive at times. It comes from processing words, actions and emotions and deconstructing them, both as a writer and an actor. Which is why I tend to take myself out from highly charged situations, because they affect me immensely. Internally, at least. 

And so grief. 
My uncles, non-emotional and stoic, on the outside at least. I do not know how they feel. One aunt, speaking pragmatically, but breaking into tears on occasion, especially grateful that God answered her prayer that she would be around for the end. Another aunt, cleaning compulsively to keep herself busy, I guess, whilst worrying that my late grandfather does not have socks and proper shoes to wear in the coffin. My dad, preaching until the end, and now arranging to come back as soon as he can. It's a long weekend. Flights are full, buses are filled, roads are clogged.

It is Merdeka Day. Freedom. 
And what is death but freedom of the soul from the chains that bind it to an ailing, decaying body? What is death but the liberation of a life into the arms of a loving Father?

I do not know what I feel. 
There has long been a disconnect between my head and my heart, in my constant effort to stay stable, strong, bold, dependable. My emotions are too strong and too easily swayed by the feelings of others so I have learnt to shunt them aside, lock them in privacy, until I need them for a piece, or to comfort someone. I do not know how to comfort myself because I do not know if I grieve. 

I did not know my grandfather well. He was always aloof. Quiet. Stoic. Dependable. I remember oranges and chocolates, the staples of visits to his house. I remember his lovingly tended garden and his bonsais, and how his green thumb did not transfer to my father. I remember him growing old and worrying about my grandmother because of her dementia. 

My grandmother smiled and said Kam sia Chu (thank you God) when my grandfather breathed his last, and again when my aunt told her the news repeatedly to make sure she understood. She understands. She told my aunt that he's gone home to heaven. 
Funny. We once thought that she would go first. 

I have now lost both my grandfathers. Apparently the women are the long-lived ones in my family. I suppose that is good, for me personally, that is. This is the first time I have been at a death bed. When my maternal grandfather died, I was at my aunt's in Kuala Lumpur, planning to take a flight home the next day after a two week conference and holiday in Hong Kong. Instead, I was woken up at 5am with the news and my uncle drove us all home. 

I have written too much. I do that on occasion, trying to figure out what I feel and why. 

I do not think I feel grief. I did not know him well enough. 
I do not think I feel loss. I know we will meet again when God calls us all home and maybe then I will listen to the full story of his life and how he punctuated his silences with living. 

I think what I feel is a sense of change. The feeling that one more thing that once anchored me to a community, my family, has changed in its nature and maybe the bonds that tie us may look different in the future. I don't know if it will be stronger or weaker, just that it will be different. 

And maybe that is what I really feel. 

Slightly more adrift than I usually am. 

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Singularity Series Blog Tour!

EXCERPT - The Legacy Human (Singularity #1)
I want to ascend so badly, I can taste it.
It’s bitter and metallic, like the acrylic paint spread before me. It’s beautiful and beckoning and untouchable, like the shimmering rose skin of my patron, Lenora, who hovers over my work, tasting it in her own way. Her fingertips barely graze the paint, sensing its color and texture and scent in a way that is utterly inhuman.
Because she’s not human. Not anymore. She’s ascended—vastly more intelligent, compassionate, and enlightened than any human could be without the procedure. I’m just one of those remnants of humanity the ascenders left behind long ago.
Lenora leans in toward the painting in that sudden kind of motion ascenders sometimes have. Her cascade of red curls brushes my cheek… and raises goose bumps on my arms.
I hold absolutely still.
This is the closest she’ll come to touching me. Anything more would be… wrong. Ascenders and legacy humans don’t do that sort of thing, at least not legally. I tell myself the instant full-body alert is just because I’m a seventeen-year-old guy who’s definitely straight—anything vaguely female would get this response—but it doesn’t help that Lenora’s body is pure fantasy. Sculpted cheeks. Curves that irresistibly draw my gaze. Lips that beg for me to draw each perfectly rounded part. The red curls have to be synthetic—ascenders don’t have hair—but their softness still heats my cheek. There’s plenty to desire in the bodyform she’s wearing now, but lust is a pale reflection of the thick, complicated feelings I have for her.
Feelings no legacy should have. And no decent ascender would return.
It’s wrong to want her. Or really, just delusional. But my fingers ache with the need to touch her, just once. She’s close enough that I easily could.
If only ascendance were equally within reach.

Singularity 2

Legacy Human Cover
The Legacy Human by Susan Kay Quinn

What would you give to live forever? 
Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.

The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.


Praise for The Legacy Human
 “This book is Hunger Games (without the violence or controversy) meets Divergent.” “This story is so intense I felt I couldn’t get a proper breath.” “Science fiction with philosophical depth!”  


Duality BridgeThe Duality Bridge 

What does it mean to be human? Elijah Brighton is the face of the Human Resistance Movement. He’s the Olympic-level painter who refused an offer of immortality from the ascenders—the human/machine hybrids who run the world—in solidarity with the legacy humans who will never get a chance to live forever. Too bad it’s all a complicated web of lies. Worse, Eli’s not even entirely human. Few know about the ascenders’ genetic experiments that left him… different. Fewer know about the unearthly fugue state that creates his transcendent art—as well as a bridge that lets him speak to the dead. But the Resistance is the one place he can hide from the ascender who knows everything the fugue can do. Because if Marcus finds him, he’ll either use Eli for his own nefarious purposes… or destroy him once and for all.



The Duality Bridge is the second book in the Singularity series and the sequel to The Legacy Human. This thrilling new young adult science fiction series explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world.


Susan 
Author Susan Kay Quinn
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the Singularity Series, the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, and the Debt Collector serial, as well as other speculative fiction novels and short stories. Her work has appeared in the Synchronic anthology, the Telepath Chronicles, the AI Chronicles, and has been optioned for Virtual Reality by Immersive Entertainment. Former rocket scientist, now she invents mind powers, dabbles in steampunk, and dreams of the Singularity. Mostly she sits around in her PJs in awe that she gets to write full time.









  legacy human

  $25 Blog Tour giveaway

$25 Blog Tour Giveaway

 $25 Amazon eGift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 9/6/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com eGift Card or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 24 August 2015

#musicmonday: In Jesus Name - Israel Houghton & New Breed version



Because this is one of the awesomest renditions I have heard!
Also I bought a new CD!

Also also I am on my way hoooommmeeeeee to Malaysiaaaaa truly Aaaasssiiiiaaaaaaaaaa

(apparently the album is partially recorded in Kuala Lumpur!)

:p

Friday, 21 August 2015

Goodbyes

I hate that we make all the right noises
to say goodbye
But our hearts never really let go -
no, not while

Our words fly across our screens
big or small
And there's always a chance to see you
on my wall

And I really don't know what to feel
inside anymore
When everything's changing right down
to the core

So we make the right sounds as we
say our goodbyes
But we'll never really ever completely
break our ties.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

#Bookreview: The Vanished Knight by @MGerrick1

The Vanished Knight (The War of Six Crowns, #1)The Vanished Knight by M Gerrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First things first: I received this a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Callan Blair is fairly sure that this next foster assignment will be like all the rest - she'd be in and out pretty quickly. Except this time, she's sent to school at Graystone Academy with her two new brothers and somehow plunges into a real magical world that had only ever existed in her dreams. Worse, whilst she's still coming to terms with the fact that two of her new schoolmates are soldiers and contenders for the throne in this strange new world, she's confronted with the fact that everything she knows of her late parents has been a lie. Mostly of omission. Struggling with that betrayal, staying in this world may be the only chance she has of ever finding out who they really were.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started this book. On a general feel, it was kind of so-so-ish in the beginning (meh, boarding school story, what?) but by the time I hit midway, I didn't really want to stop reading. It's fairly short though; well, middling in length (less than 3 hours). Then again, it's book 1 of a series so I suppose it can't go on for too long or we'll never get to the other books.

Writing wise, it's not exactly stellar, but it's quite solid for a debut. Gerrick tends to use shorter, choppier dialogue which wasn't exactly ideal for me. I don't know what I was expecting, but I'd have figured longer, more formal dialogue for princely types. Then again, they're teens. There were a few confusing bits - especially with the dream sequences and the red vs black - but nothing too major.

Looking forward to book 2: The Heir's Choice!


View all my reviews

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Ramblings on Esther: For such a time as this


I was re-reading Esther, and after all this time, I guess the one thing that still sticks in my mind is Mordecai's question to Esther: "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14b)

Who knows if you were born into this time, into this place, into this situation for such a time as this?
Who knows if you gained this position, this authority, this stature, this voice for such a time as this?

Because these are dark times for Malaysia. And if you, who were born and bred here, do not stay and build, who will?

---

I wish I could remember the song Josh wrote for Star of Persia. All I can remember is the first half of the chorus - "For such a time as this, I live to serve my people, now I know what I was meant to do" (I think. Something like that. hahahahahaha THAT WAS 12 YEARS AGO OKAY.)

I also wish the songs were on youtube because they're nice. But songs only, no video. hahahahah.

I should rewatch it and cringe at my awkward hands and facial expressions. And my ducky runny nose voice.
Not. NEVER GOING TO REWATCH IT. Never ever ever ever ever.

---

I like the way God fixes up the events in Esther where Haman, puffed up with pride at the honour the King and the Queen are giving him, is suddenly humiliated by having to honour the one guy he really wants to kill. And it's like the King could have remembered to honour Mordecai anytime before that event, but he didn't until that one sleepless night.

It's also interesting that Zeresh says "If Mordecai, before whom you have begun to fall, is of Jewish descent, you will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him," to Haman right before the fateful banquet. It's like, these Jews were captives in a foreign land, and yet God's reputation still went before them. He fights their battles. He keeps them alive. He prospers them in adversity. You will not prevail against him but will surely fall before him.

---

We are sometimes strangers in our own land. But it is our land, because God has given it to us.

Some are called to go. Go far away, spread the gospel far and wide, live by faith. Bring the good news to the people who need it.

But most of us are called to stay. Not to stay to be complacent, or to stay and wait for heaven, but to stay and build where we are, so that we can be a blessing to the people around us who do not yet know God, and so that we can channel these blessings to them and to those who have been called to go. We stay because the people around us need the gospel too.

It's easier now. We live in a glocal society. We're local - we meet the needs of the people around us, of the community that surrounds us, and yet we are also global - with the touch of a button, with the click of a mouse, we are connected to many far flung places. It is a boon, and a curse.
A boon, because we can reach many people in many places at the same time.
A curse, because we then forget that these are real people, with real problems, and not everything can be solved with some screen time.

But this is the time we have been born in. A special time. A crazy time. A time with unknown possibilities unfurling before us.
And if you have been born for such a time as this, what seed has God planted in you that will bring glory to His name? What are you going to water in your life so that when that moment comes you are ready to step forth into the plan that He has for your life?

That is a question you need to answer.

---

At the end of Esther, it isn't that the decree to kill the Jews has been revoked. The King can't do that because he isn't above the law (ha ha ha. *ahem*). But what the King can do is to issue another decree that would maybe supercede or change the outcome of the first one. And the King, being this weird person who likes to delegate things to other people (didn't he learn with Haman?) lets Mordecai do whatever he wants with his signet ring.

And crafty old Mordecai uses this to totally annihilate all the enemies of the Jews that were hiding in the land of Persia. [Eh, not just Persia - the message goes out to all the provinces, even from India to Ethopia.]

How's that for retribution?

---

I think God has been stirring things up, both here in Ignite in San Jose, and back home in PCC in Penang. There's an expectation, a waiting, a hoping for things to come.
Sometimes it feels like there's a long way more to go.
But sometimes it feels like it's almost here.

The question is if we will respond as Esther did - firstly with a call to prayer, and then with an act of faith.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

#bookreview: The Nanobots and Other Stories by Golda Mowe

The Nanobots and Other StoriesThe Nanobots and Other Stories by Golda Mowe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Nanobots and Other Stories is a collection of ten short science fiction stories for children. I loved the way Mowe used local legends and cultures in the composition of her stories even whilst making it so futuristic!

Each story is followed by a brief write up on the science behind that story.

Fun AND educational. Sounds like a good deal :D

View all my reviews

Monday, 10 August 2015

#musicmonday: Let me see your face - Jon Thurlow



Song discovered via Daniel S.

---

I see the longing under the fear
I see it in your heart to finish the race with Me
I know if you just say yes again
Together we can make the longing reality

----

Living in the tension of going and staying.
Longing for change and yet hating it.
Wanting to move forward, and yet being afraid to move.
So I cling.
Waiting.

Then stepping forth.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

on Penang, calling, and relationships

At the end of my college years in Kuala Lumpur, my Christian Fellowship friends asked me what would make me stay and work there instead of heading back to Penang. A good job? A boyfriend, maybe? My answer then was that I felt called to Penang, because if everyone else left, who would stay and build?
Someone, Solomon or Rowen probably, asked, but what if you found a guy in KL? I shrugged and said that I guess he would have to move to Penang then. 
So I went home. And nine years on, it seems like the question still stands. 

What if you found someone but he's not in Penang? Would you move for him?
Maybe it's the remnants of my Asianness that whispers to me that the wife follows the husband. Or maybe it's the conservatism and tradition in me. It's just what's done. So I blame myself for being single because I would require my future spouse to move to Penang for me and take that as a proof of love. And if that were it, I would never get married because all the guys I click with really well are not in Penang, and all the guys in Penang are well... let's just say there's not much connection. 

I talked a little about this in this medium post, and recently, I've been thinking about it more and this struck me: if he moves to Penang it will be his sacrifice for God, not for me.

It's not a major revelation. I figure I knew it somewhere in my heart all this while, just that it was buried underneath the reams of self-pity that tend to bubble up. But that's the thing. If a marriage is going to work, there has to be an underlying alignment (which I have been praying for), and that alignment, for me, is going to have to be this mutual call to Penang. It's not an easy call. It's not the easiest place to live in, it isn't the best of many worlds (though apparently it's in the top 10 places to retire to), and half the people I know seem to think that I would be happier somewhere else, or at least find more marriageable people if I were to move away. Heck, most of them would ask why I don't just get a transfer to San Jose. It's tempting. The people here are lovely :)

---

I don't really know why I am blogging this, other than to get it out of my head where it's been for the past few days. To quote, "if a relationship does not serve my faith, then it's the wrong relationship." 
I think that makes sense.

---

I ended the post there, but it felt like there was more to say; I am not sure exactly what.

Give me Penang, I once prayed. Give me the arts in Penang. 
In the same breath, I tell God I'm not enough. My hands are too weak to hold 
So there is this calling, and there is this tension, and there is this vision too big to comprehend. And the same heart that is stepping out in faith for this vision, for this calling, also stands in disbelief at the goodness of God regarding relationships.

I don't know how to reconcile myself to myself. I waver between hopeful belief and bitter disbelief, trying to apply my faith in the goodness of God in some areas of my life to the faithless areas that still exist. It feels like I have faith in His provision for my career, for my future, for His dreams (not totally mine! I'm too chicken), but I have no faith for my relationships or for healing. Some days, I'm filled with faith and the glory of God. On others, I question what I really believe and why.

And the problem of knowing God as a person is that I'm bad at relationships. I think I know someone well enough, but find out sooner or later that I don't. Discussions about thoughts and opinions seem to carry more weight to me than simple things like knowing someone's favourite colour. I dive into depths without exploring the shallows and I don't know if that's very relationally healthy. I feel emotional connections that are one-sided, and I have a terrible track record at maintaining, much less growing, friendships. I know God loves me more than I can love Him back but sometimes I don't know that. Then there are the days I get so peopled out that I don't even want to be with myself.

---

Sidetrack edit: relationship thought - I wonder if I don't treat God like a human friend, where I sometimes feel so frustrated/annoyed/tired that I decide not to talk to anyone, including God. He's probably listening in to my thoughts anyway, so I don't know why I think that would make any difference, but this tendency to want to shut people out - or to head for exclusivity - is not very balanced. And where people would probably get upset (sorry, I know I have been ignoring/avoiding some people; if you read this... well. um.) God would... I don't know... shake His head and facepalm and say "again, really?"
Or really, He would just say I love you anyway. 

---

My thoughts are straying, and I don't know how this post is to end. I suppose I ended it once before, so I should be able to do so again.

My heart's cry is really to love and to be loved in return. I don't know why it's so difficult, but it is. Maybe it's because I discover every day that I still don't know how to love enough; my feeble efforts at caring leave me dissatisfied with who I am because I see how much more people love, and how much more people care, and how much more God loves. I suppose this is good. And yet it is also discouraging. I have a fuzzy notion of how love works. But sometimes I don't think I really know.

And so I pray for alignment. Not alignment of the stars, as if some grand story foretold will take place; just the alignment of our wills with God's, the alignment of our desires to build in the same place, even if it's not in the same ministry, and the alignment of our purposes so that we may walk the same way together for this span.

It seems so small, but it is a big thing to ask. 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

#bookreview: Cyberpunk: Malaysia

CYBERPUNK: MALAYSIACYBERPUNK: MALAYSIA by Zen Cho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don't know if it's fair to rate a book that I have a story in, but well, I guess I'm rating all the stories in the book other than mine. =) Anyway, as much as I was hoping that I would fall desperately in love with Cyberpunk: Malaysia, I didn't. I liked it well enough. It's pretty decent. But it's not gripping. But as far as debut Malaysian Sci-Fi goes, it's a good offering. So that's 3.5 stars from me!

---

There is a quote (I think) which says something about writers reflecting the state of their country through their stories. I think Cyberpunk: Malaysia does that. In imagining the near future, the writers in this anthology give vent to their worries about religion and religious control, the greed of our politicians, the growing racial divide, the growing economic divide, the burgeoning anger of the populace, the treatment of foreign workers and the polarizing effect of knowledge or the lack thereof.

---

Likes:
Attack of the spambots - Terence Toh
What the andromaid reads at night - Ted Mahsun
The wall that wasn't a wall - Kris Williamson
The twins - Adiwijaya Iskandar
October 11 - Chin Ai-May
Undercover in Tanah Firdaus - Tina Isaacs
Unusual suspects - Tariq Kamal
The White Mask - Zedeck Siew


View all my reviews

Monday, 3 August 2015

#musicmonday: If I Could by Daniel C (@lynixious)



Because Daniel C is currently at No. 10 on the Malaysian English Top 10 on Hitz FM!

You can vote for him here: http://www.hitz.fm/Features/Charts/MET10.aspx

So that's two albums I'm looking forward to in the near near future. Daniel C and Josh Y! :D