And... we're back!

I have always found that phrase (on Gmail) amusing.

Having used both Blogger and Wordpress throughout the years, I think Wordpress has become a lot more user friendly since the last time I tried to start writing there.

So I will be:

1) continuing this blog at
2) writing ridiculous not-so-fictional stories at

I've grown quite fond of this bird perched above, the lovely premade layout which took me no effort to create, the (maybe too) extensive collection of previous posts, the comments and discussions, and many memories associated with writing here. But I guess I don't need to be sad, because I will keep writing - and it will be the same, but different.

And that's all folks. The end.

Fly away




诗篇 55:6-8

"Be ready to see missing posters of me soon. Ha ha ha."

Again, thinking about how the psalmist goes from wanting to escape, to bringing his complaints before God, to recalling how God is faithful, and finally trusting and resting in him (rather than resting in some faraway hideout of his imagination).

Happily ever afters

But it is a fairytale

We love our bedtime stories, and on this occassion it was the story of Pocahontas. Didn't realise that whilst some of the events in Pocahontas is based on true stories, the romance is most probably fictional. Anyhow, this is how the ending went.

W: (the book went something like this) John Smith went back to England and Pocahontas didn't get married to him but to another man. But he was always in her heart. The end.

C: Nooooo (feeling cheated), that's sad! It's not a happy ending!

W: Sorry... happy endings only happen in fairy tales, they don't really happen in real life.

C: But this IS a fairytale book!

W: Oh yeah, you are right!

So you do, very occasionally, find unhappy endings in fairytale collections.

Good, but not the best

(quotes from C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

"If the old fairytale ending 'They lived happily ever' is taken to mean 'They felt for the next fifty years exactly as they felt the day before they were married', then it says what probably never was nor ever would be true, and would be highly undesirable if it were. Who could bear to live in that excitement for even five years? What would become of your work, your appetite, your sleep, your friendships?"

Love ever after, with no element of "life"; maybe not so desirable after all.

"Being in love is a good thing, but it is not the best thing. There are many things below it, but there are also things above it. You cannot make it the basis of a whole life. It is a noble feeling, but it is still a feeling."

I guess in the midst of it, it's hard to think, much less feel, that there is anything more compelling, more important to attend to. But there is of course.

"When we meet someone beautiful and clever and sympathetic, of course we ought, in one sense, to admire and love these good qualities. But is it not very largely in our own choice whether this love shall, or shall not, turn into what we call 'being in love'? No doubt, if our minds are full of novels and plays and sentimental songs, and our bodies full of alcohol we shall turn any love we feel into that kind of love; just as if you have a rut in your path all the rainwater will run into the rut, and if you wear blue spectacles everything you see will turn blue. But that will be our own fault."

Indeed, what a sobering thought.

Regardless of the outcome

Each conversation, each person, each couple, brings their own point of view. Family says, it will never work, your career will be disrupted, you will take forever doing your training, or how are you going to reconcile his family wanting him to be there and your family wanting you to be here. Besides, they say, there are many fish in the ocean (trees in the forest, insert other absurd analogy), you're young and will find a good doctor in the hospital (as if doctors are the only appropriate people for doctors to marry), or he will find some girl and you will never know, and they will get settled there and that would be way easier. Friends generally give positive stories about how they themselves or their friends had long distance relationships from anywhere between a year or two, to eight years or more. Then they got married and lived happy years after. Okay, maybe some couples they knew broke up too.

Then there was this slightly intense auntie at church. I don't actually know her very well. Today we happened to be sitting in the row in front of her. At the end of the service, she sneaked up from behind, placing both hands on my shoulders, and gave it a firm squeeze. I was quite taken aback.

"Pray for each other," she urged. I was a bit confused and not sure why she was saying that, but nodded anyway.

"If it is God's will you will be back together. Even pastor and his wife had a long distance relationship." More nods.

"If it's not, you will find new friends." We looked at each other, and laughed a little.

She pointed her finger from one person to the other and said, "but you two will still be friends, NOT enemies, okay?!?!" She waited for an answer with that really intense stare.

"I will pray for you too," she added, and we thanked her for her encouragement.

I guess I appreciate both the conversations that make you think through realistic issues, and those that tell you, hey this is what worked for us, and there are couples who do end up staying together. But it was memorable too, to have someone neither say you might be fine, you might not, but both are okay outcomes. A reminder also, of what we have said to one another for many years. That if we both have that relationship with God, whichever way this relationship goes, he in his wisdom has a purpose and good plan for each of our lives. Which leads me to think about a question that makes me feel uneasy:

Do we rely on romantic relationships or God as the source of our "happily ever after" - or more appropriately put, our joy in life?


I hate change, it's so confusing. Who are my friends? Where is my family. Where is home? Is home with family, or is it the house in which I spend most of my year? This time, even my permanent address changed. It's strange to drive past and see the white and red house I grew up in, with grass on which I used to race mice and rats, with the starfruit and jackfruit trees at the back, with playgrounds and the library nearby, and all the other conveniences of that neighbourhood - and remember oh, that's not home any more. This is also the longest I've stayed at one place, during the semester. Over the years I've had bits of mail sent here, others sent there, and different cards issued with unmatching addresses, and it was all very confusing. I have clothes, cooking ware and other belongings in boxes that I either forget about, or deliberately not unpack because who knows how long I will be here for. Or they are in a different city and I don't remember what is here and what is there.

But it's confusing, emotionally too. I feel as if segments of my life are paused, or resumed, each time I make a trip to the airport. Or that each aeroplane journey is a time to switch off my attention to one set of tasks, one set of people, and switch on to another. Why is my heart split and scattered them over separate dots of the globe. Why is it that I will never be able to be with all the family and friends I love in one place. Why do I keep saying so many goodbyes (often morbidly wondering if it will be the final goodbye), so many that I rarely cry anymore. Why have there been so many warm farewells and promises to keep in touch. In the end though, many move on with their lives, or grow to have completely different approaches to life that we no longer share a close understanding. I always wonder how many friendships I would discover to be transient friendships when I revisit a year, two, three, four years later. Sometimes I wonder if I might as well avoid making these discoveries by quietly arriving and quietly leaving a place. But maybe I shouldn't be so dark, midst the disappointments there are always nice surprises - new friendships with childhood playmates, friends who become even better friends, or childhood enemies who become friends, or even new friends in old places.

Why am I here at all though, despite asking myself the same questions time after time, for the past six years. Well, less than six if you minus a few of the in-between years. Why, especially when I no longer have to be here. Did I make the right choices. Back there, the house is almost adjacent to the hospital grounds. Plus I would be staying in one place for the entire year rather than coming here and going there.

The same thoughts always accompanies my first weeks back in this city. Why is everything so much effort, even driving down the street, or attending a yummy dinner party. Why do I meet so many many new people here all the time, but count so few as my friends. Will I be lonely, will I be sad, and why is the city so cold even when the weather is quite pleasantly summery. Why do I feel so distant, as if I am here but not really here. Why is it here that I am always being told that I am in some way, abnormal? In first year - why do you walk slow (on the way back home, so why not), why do you pronounce things differently (because I didn't grow up in Singapore or Malaysia), why would you live in that town, it's so boring, I mean what's there to do in D (school, work, shop, eat, family, friends, not that different after all). Then, even this year - they were all looking at you and feeling uncomfortable, why are you browsing a book on the shelf instead of joining the rowdy card game across the room. You don't understand how these social situations work. Maybe you are too blunt, maybe you need to work harder to integrate yourself. Blah blah blah.

Anyway, I think everything will be normal when I am used to life here again. In the meantime...

Doubles in December - part three

Two paintings

Painting without a mouse (not the rodent) was similar, but strangely unfamiliar too. Paint is messy, with spills and smudges to avoid. So you go outdoors. But staying outdoors beyond sunset means being attacked by swarms of mosquitoes, and insect repellant is ineffective. Then, with limited tubes of colours, mixing the right colour is difficult. If you're lazy then the colour becomes unevenly mixed. Even when you finally get that lovely shade you imagined, sometimes coming back the next day, everything is dried up, and you can't replicate it! No layers, no undo, can't save or go back to previous versions. Training your fine motor skills with no zoom and fat imprecise brushes. Paint runs out, brushes wear out. But it was fun.

Two birds, two rats

Long long ago in a land far far away...

Bumblebee's Pets
Lived a little girl. Who loved robots, monsters, dragons, and such things. Her mum asked her why she doesn't draw something like ponies, flowers, and pretty things. And she felt so sad. Her sister said she can draw whatever she likes, and besides, she did draw some cute pets for the robot.

Gingerbread Hansel & Gretel
Lived a little girl and little boy. Run run as fast as you can, you can't catch us because we're the gingerbread people. They stopped running when they saw a delicious looking candy castle. But, there was an evil witch cockatiel waiting to turn them into statues, and a furry witch rat who fattened up gingbread people to gobble them up - it'ssss dinnnnnertime!

C: And, that's all folks. THE END.

Doubles in December - part two

Two weddings

I attended two weddings in December.

"When you get to my age, everyone is getting married, buying HDBs (apartments), and having babies!"

Been hearing that, in various forms, for several years. Then, it's a strange thing when you start getting your first few wedding invites from friends. More surprised still, to hear about the number of weddings that were happening in these short holidays after graduation, even just amongst those in my year level. One which you have been hearing about since she started planning her wedding - who to (and not to) invite, the dress, the location, the music, the reception, the dance lessons, and more. Another coursemate who is getting married to a wealthy plastics registrar (but her family is already rich anyway). Still another, entering into an arranged marriage and with attending friends discussing whether they should wear a sari for the occasion. Not to mention waiting in the line to collect my gown and overhearing about a classmate who had proposed on graduation day itself, viewing photos of a dance friend's pre-wedding photo shoot at their new apartment in the following week, then unexpectedly receiving an overjoyed text on Christmas eve from an old friend - "she said yes!!!"

On committment

Whilst waiting for the bride:

A: Aww, he (the groom) must be feeling nervous, standing there.

B: Why would he be? What do you mean?

A: He will be wondering whether she will show up.

B: You mean if she will be late? Or not turn up on purpose? Surely if you are getting married you should know that the person is going to be there...

A:Well, I know of someone who it's happened too. She changed her mind and didn't turn up. Then they had another ceremony a year later!

I laughed. I guess though, it is no easy committment. For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health. Maybe it shocks me a little to hear the exchange of vows - I can't help think, really?? What difficult words to utter, to mean from your heart, and to live by for the rest of your life! What solemn promises made before the witness of family, friends, and God himself!

Glory to God

We were friends since the first few weeks of university. The three of us had fun times. I remember a time when we heard that one of the other residents had thrown out his laptop; instead of asking for it, they waited til evening came and invited me to join them in hunting for the goods. So after laughing as we dug through multiple garbage bins (!!), for where we lived there were a full line of red and yellow topped bins, we recovered not only a working laptop, but a nice CD player with speakers too. But.

Even on that occasion, though none of us knew the owner well, he just knew somehow that "New Folder" on this laptop's front page must be porn. He reasoned, well what else would you call it? And he was right, to my disgust. He was often curious about what sensitive exams we had learnt during our course. For awhile he went to casino regularly and annoyed me by influencing others around him. He used to flirt, have so many crushes, write about them, talk about them, chase them.

And he had no interest in God. It must be for a girl, I teased, when he said he started going to church. And so it was. But what I was really surprised at, was that it became a deep committment to seeking and obeying God. What transformation there was, in his approach to friends, to relationships, to marriage, in his speech, and in how he started to prepare for his role as a godly husband. How very strange but joyful it was, to see their wedding ceremony proclaim so clearly, the glory of God. To see God's grace and forgiveness in restoring a relationship with this friend who (like us all) used to live defiant opposition to him.

During the ceremony, we sang hymns of God's greatness, saw the church family which he had become a part of, and was reminded that it is God's help which will see them through their committment when inevitably, difficulties arise. In many ways, the ceremony emphasised that more than a union to make oneself or even one another happy, as with other aspects of Christian living, marriage has the primary purpose of bringing glory to God.

On groomsmen, traditions, and miscellaneous thoughts

Seeing the lovely line of bridesmaids and groomsmen lined up for photos, I thought, oh no what a lop-sided gender balance there is amongst my close friends. What if I can't think of a girl whom I can have as a bridesmaid? Would it be inappropriate to have a bridesman? Probably. Later I remembered that almost all my school (primary and secondary) friends are girls. But I still stopped to think about why there have been so few close girl friends years after high school. Maybe I will save those reflections for another day.

Sometimes I wonder why conventional weddings are the way they are. Why church weddings with priests and prayers if you would never attend on a regular week? I suppose some look to traditions when faced with significant life events such as births, weddings and deaths. Why buy an expensive white dress which you could never wear, unless you plan to get married more than once? Do people actually practice the wedding day kiss? What happens if you serve fairy bread and hot dogs instead of the normal banquet? And how about the cake?

W: Instead of having a cake, I will have a block of cheese, with a rat inside! Which will run around after I cut it.

C: What if you cut the rat? I'm going to have a pie with a magpie. And the bird will fly away.

W & C: Heheheheh.

Still thinking about Christmas

Still thinking. In 2007, I thought about the physical birth of Jesus and what Christmas had meant to me, as a child. In 2008, I thought about the irony that Christmas often distracted us from time with God. In 2009, I thought about God with us, in flesh and blood, as the reason for our celebrations. In 2010 at this time, I was lying on a deckchair and reading books at a seaside resort, and in 2011 I was in the clouds, on a plane decorated with boughs of mistletoe, being served a not-so-delicious slab of turkey with cranberry sauce. Perhaps being away was a good break from the usual festivities, and an opportunity to see Christmas afresh.

Still pondering on many questions - what does Christmas mean to us and others, should we celebrate it, if so how do we go about it, what greetings and gifts do I give, to sing or not to sing various carols, to take on or not to take on traditions associated with the festival, how about Santa or the pretty sparkly decorations? And, what do I say about these things to my little sister?

Reflections on Christmas carols

I was listening to my younger cousin's song which he rearranged, with a strange mix of lyrics talking about Santa (When Christmas Comes to Town) and Jesus (Silent Night). When he told me about it earlier in the holidays, I was wondering if I should say something (I didn't).

On a side note, I'm quite impressed with his covers and original compositions, with little prior knowledge of music theory, with not having his own instruments to play for many of those years, with working out notes, chords and even the instruments by himself. He picked up guitar and piano during his senior high school years, to the dismay of the family (how unthinkable it is, especially in China, to pursue anything that will affect your academic performance on the university entrance exams).

During carolling, I was again thinking about popular Christmas songs. I sing them so many times that I start to tune out on the lyrics, that I begin to have preferences based on melody rather than meaning. For example, take verse one of Joy to the World:
Joy to the world! the Lord is come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,

And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

What is there to be joyful about the Lord's coming if you don't believe in it? With joy being in the salvation that Christ brings, what joy is there, if we do not first recognise our sin and God's wrath, hence the need for a saviour? How can we sing about preparing our hearts to receive Jesus as our king, then be filled with the busyness of Christmas and all it entails in modern society, rather than Christ alone and above all? If indeed we are singing with heaven and nature, do our thoughts, words and actions also reflect a consistent attitude of thanksgiving and praise towards God?

I think if I were the writer of such hymns, I would be disgusted to see how they are often sang without meditation on the message, without reverence towards God; or how they are played alongside Jingle Bells or Deck the Halls as generic expressions of merriment, rather than proclaiming a joy which comes from knowing Christ (rejoice in the Lord always - Philippians 4:4).

“Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice." - Ezekiel 33:32

The people in Ezekiel's days gathered together and received God's words eagerly through him; however, they treated the message lightly, nothing more than just a nice song. Isn't it nice that in this season, many many people are listening to and singing songs that celebrate Jesus' birth? Yes, but only if we hear and heed the significance of his life on Earth, and what that means for our lives!

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