anotherlongshot (anotherlongshot) wrote,

in commeration of valentine's day and other stories.

As much as I would like to pretend that this...occasion doesn't exist, I've been asked way too much (i.e. at least once) what I'm doing today, thereby thwarting my initial plan of paying homage to the saying "ignorance is bliss". But then again, if I have to make an effort to ignore the significance February 14 (that is, significance in the eyes of all the fools in the world that buy into its blatant mass commercialism and shameless money-sucking mechanisms), that means that I'm only lying to myself by pretending to be unaffected. And why lie to myself, right? Especially when I've the perfect song to grace this occasion.

How Many Words
(by Blake Lewis)

Right back where we started
Falling apart at the seams
You tagged your name on my heart
And I sat there let it bleed

Sweetheart so now this is goodbye

I'm letting you go
You're letting me down
Been caught in your reign and I almost drowned
I'm letting you go
Our love's black and blue
How many words does it take to say I'm through?

You said you knew what romance is
Jaded, I fell for your lies
You're out of second chances
Sadly we're fading out tonight

Sweetheart so now this is goodbye

I'm letting you go
You're letting down
Been caught in your reign and I almost drowned
I'm letting you go
Our love's black and blue
How many words does it take to say I'm through?

I have to
Don't want to
I've got to set you free
No more words
It's over
Now I can finally breathe

I love this song. Not only is it the perfect range for me, Blake also does this very cool beat-boxing thingy. And the lyrics are very comforting when you think back to what you were doing last year, trying to piece together something from scraps of paper, and failing quite miserably because you're just not very artistically-inclined at all, and then...nothing. I wasted e. e. cummings' poem and it was a beautiful poem. At least it wasn't my own. But that's not entirely true too, is it?

It really doesn't make no sense to me at all why I'd rather stay home tonight and watch American Idol than to go out for dinner or whatever. Not only am I precariously close to achieving Shit Broke status, I'm What plans do I have for Valentine's Day? Nothing. I never have plans for Valentine's Day. It won't even register in my head if the people around me weren't constantly talking about it, trading plans, collectively moaning about having nowhere to go, making jokes about substituting grass for flowers because, really, grass means a lot more than flowers which are pretty to look at, but wilt and die so much faster (the grass, of course, is my idea). I feel a rant coming on but I really don't think it's worth it and I'm sure everyone knows by now the extent of my cynicism and my crusade against romantic love, so why waste anymore time when I've already wasted so much?

So there you go: my ode to Valentine's Day. Have a nice one.


Last night, I, along with Baoyue, Simon, and Mel, caught What is Man?. And...I don't really know how to say this adequately enough, so I'll just state it simply: I loved it. I absolutely loved it. And the fact that most of the actors are Taiwanese has about 5% to do with it.

Of course, I'm no theatre expert, and I'll admit outright that 1) I don't understand theatre; and 2) (therefore?) I am not a theatre fan. I can't even begin to express how much I prefer film and I watch less than 5 plays in a year. Not only that, I am very wary of modern theatre, things that the producers and directors think are "avant garde" which somehow I always think are pretentious garbage. One production instantly comes to mind, the name of which I've forgotten, but it was a Taiwanese production that I watched with my mom at the University Cultural Centre years ago. Unlike last night's though, it took "avant garde" to its most extreme end and the result was just...completely, mind-numbingly awful. It was basically people simulating sex onstage for two hours. And, if I remember correctly, speaking in Hokkien. How torturous.

But last night's production was fantastic. It was funny, dramatic, provocative, thought-provoking, tragic, and inspiring. First, and this could be perhaps due to my limited knowledge of Chinese, I thought the script was amazing. It was fantastically well-written, peppered with puns and double entendres and sexual references and jokes - in Chinese. I kept wanting to find a copy of the script somehow because it was just so. good, witty and lyrical at the same time.

Second, the performances were top-notch, especially the guy with the super long hair who delivered, with the right touches of creepiness and empathy, the monologue of a serial murdering cannibal. It was the first serious scene and I was just transfixed and hypnotised. Seriously. That scene still sticks out in my mind and I think it was the most memorable scene of the entire production. It was disturbing because it was so self-justificatory, and the actor delivered his lines in this low, hypnotising monotone that sucked you in to such an extent that you almost began to think that he was right. It was just...absolutely amazing, and probably one of those things that I will remember for life.

Third, the ideas that it explored were extremely relevant. What does masculinity mean in today's society? What does masculinity mean, period? What makes a man? I'm not male, obviously, but I thought it was all very interesting.

Fourth, it was hilarious. From the sexually-charged jokes to the dig at Chen Shui-bian's wife, the funny moments were really funny and I just loved every minute of it.

Fifth, but certainly not least important of all, the men were hot. Joseph Chang was particularly hot. He was nominated for a Golden Horse for his role in Eternal Summer, a gay movie, which I'm so making my dad buy for me when he goes back to Taipei next month for the presidential elections. Joseph Chang is sooooo cute OMGOMGOMG.

Perhaps this is personal to me, but I really loved listening to the actors speak Mandarin. I can't say enough how much I love the mainstream Taiwanese Mandarin accent (when I say 'mainstream', I'm not referring to Chen Shui-bian-esque Mandarin. At all) - it's just so pretty. I couldn't help but declare after the play ended that I bloody wanted a Taiwanese guy and I wanted a Taiwanese guy now. I swear, he will kill me with his accent and I won't even care (for the first few months at least) that he can't speak English!

I miss Taipei so much. I was thinking that I could go back to Taipei with my dad on the March 22 weekend because, you know, I have a four-day weekend and everything. I thought it was a bloody brilliant idea and I excitedly suggested it to him. And guess what? He said no. With that shake of his head and that one simple word, my heart completely shattered. Hopefully the next time I go back I'd find a way to crash a lecture at the National Taiwan University. I'm dying to find out what their lectures are like, even better if it's a law lecture. Have I mentioned the university's amazing location? It's right outside a Metro station (of course the station was built around it), and there's a small shopping stretch just across the road from it. And the campus is gorgeous. It's like Bukit Timah Campus, only it's the size of...I was going to say NTU but I've never properly seen NTU, and I'm not sure if NUS is not bigger. But it's just bloody big and gorgeous, old buildings and full of greenery and ponds, and of course you can see Taipei 101 in the distance.

Sometimes I still wonder about the Life that Could Have Been, the Life That Almost Was. I sit in Chinese Legal Traditions and Legal Chinese class and I wonder what lectures in Taiwan's top university are like. Maybe I can't fully say that I don't identify myself as Taiwanese because I could have been one. If I wasn't moved back to Singapore, I would have continued going to school in Taipei, fighting with the rest of the country (IT'S A BLOODY COUNTRY DAMMIT) for a spot in NTU (obviously not the Singapore one). I wonder if I would have made it there. It's not as tough as getting into Beijing University, but it's definitely not as easy as getting into NUS Law School - and the latter wasn't exactly a walk in a park.

I don't know why, but I think it's pretty amazing how my parents' decision to move me back to Singapore effectively changed my life. Because it really, really could have been something else altogether. Not better or worse, but just...different. Would I even be the same person? Did they know how momentous and life-changing their decision was?

According to how my parents tell it, moving us back to Singapore was so that my brother and I could learn English. They teach English in schools now, but when I was in Primary One over there, the only English lessons I had were from a tuition agency and from my mom. And since everyone spoke Mandarin, I came back to Singapore and my English was shit. I remember failing an aptitude test that SNGS made me take; I only got accepted into the school because my mom is an alumnus of the school. (Then again, maybe I was too cute for them to resist. I remember the vice-principal liking me a lot.) Can you imagine a Yelen that doesn't have a good command of English? Because I, for one, can't.

It's a really strange thing to think about. I'm not sure if this is making any sense at all, though I sure hope it is. And maybe that's contributed to this dormant identity question mark that I've tried to solve over the past few years. Not feeling like you truly belong somewhere, always with an alternate possibility in your head, the What Could Have Been's and conjuring up scenarios of That Other Life that Almost Happened. I'm not saying that I wish my parents hadn't made that decision because there's a lot of utility in knowing and conquering the English language (at the same time, it's quite clear from my use of the word 'utility' that, when push comes to shove, I don't intuitively feel for English the way I feel for Chinese). All I'm saying is that I do wonder about how differently things would be, and, er, I don't think I have a point.

Okay, nevermind.

To round up, I thank Baoyue muchly for pointing to the What is Man? poster when the four of us were outside Harry's Esplanade one day and saying, "Let's watch this!" If she hadn't, I wouldn't have known about the play. And it was seriously money well-spent.


Yesterday was also an extremely long and tiring day. I started it with a 9 a.m. International Law and Asia class. I had no laptop because I had a long day ahead and I didn't want to carry my laptop around, and so I took notes by hand. It was actually quite good. I paid 99% attention. S!mon T@ay is still tremendously entertaining and I still love his classes. I must email him about my research paper soon. I'm probably going to do something on human rights and Asian values; I seem quite fixated with these things (it will also help me tremendously with that paper which I'm supposed to be trying to publish but I haven't looked at it in months). I'm afraid that I'd just be repeating his article though but we'll see how that goes.

I also did my volunteer thing at the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme. I followed one of the staff to the Institute of Mental Health to interview an applicant to see if he qualified for legal aid.

I'm never going to forget that man. When I find myself questioning the point to all these law shit that I'm doing, I'm going to remember that man and remember the idealistic reason I applied to law school in the first place. In remembering that man, I will remember what I've told people who asked me various questions like Why Law and What Are You Going to Do and Why Criminal Law, that I believe in the presumption of innocence, that the justice system should be fair, that legal representation is a right and not a privilege or a luxury.

The man shuffled in, dressed in a tattered oversized green T-shirt that looked like a Bossini Dri-Fit t-shirt that I wear at home until I saw the letters "IMH" sewn to the sides of his left sleeve. He couldn't focus in his left eye. His voice was very soft and he was very polite; he addressed the legal aid staff member as 'sir' and when we concluded the interview, he thanked us, said that he appreciated the help. He was the closest I've been to the underprivileged of our society. And I'm never, ever going to forget it, or forget him.

The legal aid guy told me that about 350 lawyers do pro bono work on a regular basis. 350 out of about 2500 lawyers. I said, "That's a lot!" Because I was expecting maybe 30?

I mean, really. Money is great and everything, but what about them? I am definitely not a noble person and I'm exceedingly selfish; but to borrow a commonly used phrase, I honestly believe that lawyers have a duty to give back to society. The position we're in, the salary we're paid, it all mandates some kind of giving back, and it makes me quite sad that some people don't give a shit. I'm glad that my friends have expressed desire to do pro bono work though. Maybe that's why we're friends haha.

Right, I'll get off my soap box.


There's just one last thing I wish to say before I post this and watch American Idol. I'll try to say it in five minutes.

Recently I was asked if I did part-time modelling, which was basically an indirect way of saying that I'm pretty. That's all well and good and you know, thanks and everything, but I must say that I feel quite uncomfortable when men say such things, especially men whom I have no romantic interest in and are not my good friends. I just don't think it's necessary and it puts me on guard more than I should be and would be if the compliment hadn't been paid. I can't stop people from forming opinions about my looks, but as a general rule, I think people should keep it to themselves. Especially men. I haven't been hit on by a lesbian before which should be interesting so for now I don't mind gay women paying me compliments; but men? It really makes me uncomfortable and I just don't like it. (Of course, if the man in question is hot and romantically compatible with me, please, compliment all you want.) And there's really no point in me being on my guard when the man might be a perfectly normal person who was just being nice when he uttered that compliment, so why strain relationships?

Besides, my ego is big enough, my self-image overinflated. Please do not contribute to my arrogance any further. Thank you very much.

American Idol time!

Tags: being chinese, friends, law school, legal profession, music, singapore, taiwan, valentine's day

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