A Tow Truck

I hope in life, everything is as simple as calling a tow truck. I hope in life, money fixes everything. Unfortunately, they don’t. But in the context of my car, they do.

Seeing a tow truck in action – the first time for me – was quite an experience in a good way.

Yesterday, I wanted to visit Art Friends at Bras Basah Complex and buy a pen to doodle. I still have A3 papers, though they turn somewhat yellow after years of not doodling. It doesn’t bother me. Because even when I paint on brand new white papers, years later, they will turn yellow. Time leaves marks. To papers, and to hearts.

When my wife and I got into our car, it could not start. Oh great. This week sucks. And this adds to a list of bad news that actually looks pretty good okay on its own. Because (1) we live near town and can take public transport and (2) the first paragraph of this blog entry.

I was and still am in fact pretty chill about a malfunctioning car sitting in the carpark of our condo. We hardly drive. This morning, I emailed Mazda with a short video clip on how I could not start the car.

They called and told me that very likely, it was due to a battery issue. Mazda then referred me to a third party for help. I called the third party and was given two options (because I asked for it, job hazard). Option one, pay $60 for a mechanic to jump start my car and if that doesn’t work, call a tow truck (with extra cost). Or option two, pay $80 for a tow truck straight the way.

Or option three, I call one of my subordinates at work to help me jump start my car after work because (1) I have the cables and (2) I know how because I have helped others before. But I chose not to abuse my power (kekeke). Do I want to gamble on option one, still have to drive to the service center, go through the paperwork, and take a cab home? Or pay an extra $20 to save some time?

Money does fix something. And while we were at it, why not do a car servicing as well since my car is due for one?

The tow truck came and I recorded the entire episode on video, waved at the driver multiple times with my big smile (I was actually happy at those moments, which was welcoming).

Hours later, the service center called me and informed me that the battery was weak caused by the extremely low millage. Apparently, I need to drive at least 30 minutes for the alternator to charge the battery.

The challenge is, most of my return trips are less than 30 minutes. And we hardly drive. The question would then be: why do we still need a car?

Why do we want anything in life anyway?

Late afternoon, the service center called and informed me that my car was still on the queue for car wash. This might take some time. My reply was that it is really no hurry. Let’s do that tomorrow instead.

Doors of Possibilities – A Doodle

This morning, I woke up. I had a strong desire to doodle. There were things on my mind I needed to articulate. That’s how I cope with things.

Doors of Possibilities

What I wanted to articulate was that there are two types of people. One who rationalizes and analyzes the past history, present situation, and future possible outcomes before opening doors of possibilities. The other type would not think too much and keep as many doors opened as possible. There is no right or wrong answer here. Just difference in approach.

Centered to this doddle is one giant door that leads to nine doors. Why nine? In Chinese culture, the number nine symbolizes eternity, or in this case, infinity. It forms the universe we are currently living in (hence the trees and hills).

On the right, are cards of infinite possibilities. The outcomes are unknown. They are blank. Only time will tell what they are.

On the left, the focal point is the person, standing on top of an hour glass. Time is running out. Quick, make decisions! Wrapped around the person and the hour glass is a dual-symbol. It is a question mark. The person is thinking. It is also a serpent. There are temptations and risks as the person is staring into opportunities.

Lastly, observing this doodle from left to right first is a car. It represents the modern world, reality, technology, and hence, logic. In the middle are doors, but they are also metaphors. On the right, the concept further breaks into abstraction.

It is a journey from reality into abstraction, from the known into the unknown.

Last 24 Hours

What a day.

What an unusual day.

This morning, I had a chat with my boss at work. He is leaving. That is super sad. It is always very upsetting to see good guys get the short end of the stick. We talked. We WhatsApp. And there are things that I can’t share here.

This afternoon, I met with my ex-boss from Accenture. For more than 20 years we have known each other, we keep in touch. Intercontinental hotel, he has a discount to dine at Ash and Elm. He loves fine dining. Or dining, period. He loves to dine. Ash and Elm, is terrible. The food is just not good. My friend thought he had ordered pork knuckle and hickory chicken. As it turned out, it was pork knuckle pizza and hickory chicken pizza. WTF?! The menu was misleading. We couldn’t finish the food. My friend was deeply disappointed. He packed the leftover food home. Despite the dining experience, I really enjoyed catching up with my friend. He asked if he has lost weight. I chuckled and said no. He rolled his eyes. Deep inside, he has become more fit. But, still has chubby cheeks.

This evening, I have received a heartfelt email from my subordinate who is leaving my team and moving onto a better future, a much bigger role. I truly am happy for her. I have watched her grow, for two years. I have – or at least I think I have – provided a nurturing environment for her to grow. Looking at her, she is a miracle. She thanked me. Deep inside, I have her to thank. Because I know I have done something extraordinary, that I can do it. I can do it. Sad though, if I am honest with myself.

On a different but relevant topic, have you ever encounter someone who makes you lose your mind?

Oh yes.

That Last Smile, That Last Kiss

This morning, one of my songs kept on playing in my head. The song title is Addictively Beautiful. Part of the lyrics go something like:

You live to have that last dance
You live to have that last kiss
You live to see that last smile
So addictively beautiful

Excerpt from my song #133 titled Addictively Beautiful written on Oct 26th, 2005

The beauty of having more than 160 songs written by myself is that this collection of songs is very much customized to who I am. Some are inspired by my then observation. Some are derived from my experience, which not surprisingly, history often repeats itself. Because it is who I am. Some are prophetic, that is, songs that were written in the past that somewhat accurately predict the future. Some are just so random. This collection is often relevant, timeless.

Today I am on leave. Another day of reflection. A day of melancholy. I can’t help but think of all the ‘lasts’. The last time I saw that someone. The last time I saw that smile. The last time we had that hug. And the last time I had that kiss.

I thought of the last time I saw my distant cousin in Paris, many, many years ago. I was young. She was older. It was a train station. Or it could have been Metro. She waved at me, with a bitter smile. The long black coat she was wearing. I waved back at her. I was on my way to Montreal, Canada. Through the intervention of my families in Canada and France, my distant cousin and I did not manage to meet after that sent off. We wrote, snail mails. I have not heard from her since then. For someone who has sacrificed her youth and marriage in order to take care of her parents as in, her parents forbid her to get married – is so unfair. But it was her decision. After all, we adults make decisions. And we adults live with the consequences.

Till today, I would go back to that scene from time to time. I would not have known that was the last time I see her. Had I known, what would I have done differently?

When I left Oxford after my graduation heading to Singapore for my career, it was an interesting time. Hong Kong returned to China that year. But I have long decided to leave Hong Kong to follow my heart to the one I loved. She left the UK months before me because I stayed back to cycle with my then-bestie-turned-not-bestie from Oxford to Edinburgh camping along the way.

And when I left Oxford that morning, at the bus station, another of my bestie Toby turned up and sent me off. I was in my brown leather jacket and he was in his black one. Back then, we were kids. We tried to look cool. He put gel onto his hair. Clean look. I just didn’t care about mine. I was alone and he was there. Gosh, till today, I still miss him. How would I know that the next time I visited Oxford was 24 years later? But we have lost touch. You would have thought through social media, we would have reconnected. But nope. Nada. That was the last time I saw his face. Had I known, what would I have done differently?

The list goes on.

The answer is … nothing.

Unless, I treat every moment as if it was the last. And I should. I will. I am.

Today, I have been listening to Lucia’s Without You on repeat. For the curious ones, you can check out YouTube and the English translated lyrics.

It’s so lonely, me without you
I’m so lonely, on a night without anyone
Only holding onto lonely memories
Every day, I’m waiting for you

Excerpt from Lucia’s Without You
Shin Se-kyung is my heroine!

It is a soundtrack for a Korean drama The Bride of Habaek. I truly adore the Korean actress Shin Se-kyung. More often than not, females in Korea dramas portrait as the weaker ones, who need men. But Shin Se-kyung’s TV-series often are the opposite. Like Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung. She has a YouTube channel too. Her voice is so soothing.

Most Desirable Things in Life Are Those You Can’t Have

Recently, I have been listening to GFriend’s Yuju’s cover of Downtown Baby by Bloo on repeat. It is one of those rare songs (1) with good music, (2) is melancholy, (3) has a beautiful female voice (yes, I am biased), (4) sang by erm a beautiful girl, and (5) … is a song that can put me in a trance. Music that evokes emotion. Deep emotion. I feel alone when listening to it. I feel lonely when listening to it.

Oh, my beloved Yuju …

Last Friday, it was one of those rare moments when I was on leave and my wife wasn’t. Both of us are working remotely. We share the same workspace – home. She was working. I wasn’t. And it was one of those rare days when I didn’t need to speak. During working days, I talk the entire day, endless meetings. It was refreshing not need to talk. Funny thing though, one colleague at work commented that I talked too much.

Like. I. Wanna.

FFS, I even hate listening to my own voice at work. Things I said at work, either bored people or hurt people’s feeling. Because it is business. Work is just, work.

When I don’t need to speak, I self-reflect, listen to my inner voice. As a migrant to a country I wasn’t born into, left home with very little friends, if not for my wife, I would have been all alone. Making friends after graduation … I mean, making real and true friends at work is almost impossible. Work is an entity. People interact to make a living. Seldom people sacrifice for each other, do things for each other without strings attached. It is always down to, what’s in it for me?

Sure, I have made some friends in our decades of career. Those who stay on, may well be close to none. But that doesn’t stop me from desperately want to reach out, want to believe that it is possible to meet true and real friends at work. Don’t stop trying. When you do, you lose hope.

The most desirable things in life are those you can’t have.

Listening to Yuju’s cover of Downtown Baby, it is as though I am being transported into an alternate reality whereby, I am alone.

My parents live in a different country, whom I seldom contact. My sister lives in the same country like mine, whom I seldom meet. Perhaps this alternate reality is my reality.

Back to the topic of this blog entry, I really wish that this cover music was on Spotify. Putting a song on repeat is so painfully manual on YouTube. I wish that Yuju does more cover, even has her solo career. I love GFriend. But she is the best of all. I wish that I had her vocal skill. I wish …

Like I said, the most desirable things in life are those you can’t have.