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!

Doubles in December - part one

Two graduations

It was only in December last year that we briefly met, that you gave me five bright orange goldfish, that I was surprised to see you as a patient in clinic, that after dinner the train broke down for the rest of the night. Not long ago, I felt that it was sad how you valued all other friendships from these university years but towards me you were sporadic at best, mostly hateful actually. But somewhere between then and now, those things have lost its hold over me. Neither the dark cryptic comments and you wanting nothing to do with me, nor past memories or any positive aspects of your character which I appreciate, would affect my emotions with any intensity again.

A few years ago I remember you said, perhaps the next time we meet will be at graduation, hearing each other's names being called out in that hall. You were almost right. I never would have imagined then, that I could walk into a room and have no desire to face you, and be content with not acknowledging each other's presence. At the same time, I was sincerely happy for you, and clapped, knowing that I had both helped you and made this journey difficult for you. Time does heal after all, albeit rather slowly.

Regarding my own graduation, I guess it's supposed to be a significant event but I was just glad that the weather was not as hot as we expected it to be, that hiring gowns was a relatively straight forward process, that the gown and my dress matched relatively well, that photo taking was tolerable, that I could flip through the yearbook so I only briefly fell asleep during the ceremony, and that I didn't trip with heels whilst walking up and down the stage. The perks were probably seeing my best friends in medicine graduate together, spotting them amongst the sea of blacks and reds (sea of redback spiders), waving and hi fiving them on the way back to my seat. Also my two bouquets of flowers and cards, friends and family whom I love, and having my lovely little sister who was so excited hang out both her arms and half her torso off the balcony, to wave.

Contrary to the speeches, I don't feel there is any reason to congratulate myself about finishing the degree. These up and down years has shown me clearly that it is in God that I find any reason to live, and any strength to do what I do. Plus, I am somewhat aversive to change and just as I really really dreaded moving away from home and starting university, I feel similarly about starting work. How do you feel, to be a doctor? I feel (though there's no rational reason to really think so) sorry for whoever is going to be my patient, ha... I feel fake, and don't think that doctor title should ever be associated with my name. For the first time, I understand what the lecturer in first year said, when she talked about the imposter syndrome.

Tonight, Christmas carolling at a hospital, the familiar smells and pink de-bug bottles stirred in me (if I may borrow the phrase) a sense of impending doom. I wanted to run awayyyyy. My friend laughed and said, "you can't run away forever", and my sister gave me a big and very sympathetic hug, then proceeded to brainstorm ideas:

C: "How about you tell your teachers you quit?"
W: "Aww darling, I already finished school, I can't quit anymore haha."
C: "I know, you can leave them a nasty surpriseeee. Put a rat next to everybody's cheese, and make them scream. Then you will be fired!"
W: "I'm not sure I want to be fired..."
(after a pause) C: "Or, you could just not turn up to work."

I guess it is important to contribute to society through work, and living off others when you have the capacity to work is not living according to the word of God. Looking back at the university years too, I can be encouraged that there is joy and meaning to be found in walking with God. Even through times that I wouldn't have chosen for myself; the tiring, the draining, the confusing, the sad, the stressful, the difficult times.

Top hits

 我的歌声里 - 曲婉婷





"But you used to hate this song, I even got told off for listening to it!"

It's interesting how often, when you hear a tune many times, annoying repetitive becomes contagiously catchy, and unusual-almost-unpleasant vocals become interesting and unique.  How many times can you listen to and hum along to the lyrics, before you really hear the song?

But other times, annoying (even if tolerable) never ceases to be annoying. How can a song be so pervasive that everyone, from my primary aged sister, to the middle aged aunt and her Communist-party colleagues, to my eighty year old grandfather and all of his elderly morning exercise neighbours at the park, know and enthusiastically embrace it? What makes that ridiculous dance worthwhile being repeated everywhere - from school assemblies, to university balls, to public parks, to weddings and more?

Design in CSS by TemplateWorld and sponsored by SmashingMagazine
Blogger Template created by Deluxe Templates