jon's blog

i could go on for 40 days and 40 nights about my blog title and bore you to bits and pieces with 10,000 different ideas i actually had for the name of this blog but because of the 500 characters limit that is imposed upon this mechanism which, by the way, is supposed to promote free speech, i shall shorten it to just two words basically describing what the hell this is all about and who this hell belongs to.
Thursday, January 31, 2008

the departure of the satanic neighbour

i've never liked the whole process of moving and shifting houses. it's not only tedious, it's involves a lot of administrative work, and oh boy, bizarre people who have never seen a very neat house complete with Christianly wall hangings. i remember the first time my family sold our five-room apartment at Chua Chu Kang, we had what Singaporeans fondly call 'the viewing'. this involves a lot of Tetrapack drinks, hor d'oeuvres upon my mother's insistence ('buyers can't make decisions on an empty stomach!'), and a lot of housework. i was always in charge of vacuuming. my parents would take the viewers on a short tour around our obsessively clean five-room apartment. once a viewer left the apartment, i would be out with the vacuum cleaner doing my thang.

the Zhang family lodgings are perhaps one of the cleanest and homeliest of places around. we don't employ domestic help to do the housework, so its mainly left to the people living in my house. except the brother of course, who believes in maids (my parents and i, we're the maids) and doesn't even bother to do a single piece of housework. i can't wait to boot his lazy ass to National Service. i have been to a fair number of people's homes in my time, and well.... stayed overnight on some instances as well. and nothing comes close to the overall neatness and cleanliness that my home has. in fact, i have this weird need to check out people's toilets when i visit. not only do you get to see their beauty secrets, you also get to see the stray hairs and rolling balls of dust (like in those Westerns), all happening beside their expensive Biotherms and SK-IIs.

the one thing however, that really makes the Zhang residence stand out the most, has got to be the feelings evoked within the viewers when they visit our home. maybe it's my father's ardent zealousness and the four different bibles and various plaques of bible verses (Joshua 24:15, As for me and my house we will serve the Lord) all hanging around the house, but the general comment that my parents get from them potential buyers are quite bizarre:

'You've got a very peaceful and tranquil home!' - this lady never bought the apartment

'I can feel a good spirit in this house, almost like an angel!' - i was pretty freaked out by this, coming from a couple of newly-weds. they didn't buy the house as well.

'You've got a good Christianly home! And your this finger food ah, the clams are excellent!' - this elderly couple (Christians as well) took an extra portion of Tetrapack drinks and polished off my mother's
hor d'oeuvres, AND NEVER BOUGHT THE HOUSE! Parasites!

'I get a good feeling in this house!' - Okay yes, yes, we all get it! this house comes free with a good spirit and a psuedo-presence of the Good Lord, so are you going to buy the bloody apartment?

one of the problems we didn't have any luck after two viewings could simply boil down to the fact that my parents wanted to strike a deal with other Christian brethren. and so, they requested for a Christian house agent, to get more potential Christian buyers. perhaps to preserve the warm, snugly feeling of God in our home, or simply just so that God can broker the deal or something. it wasn't until we had the first non-Christian buyer that came to our home and had a quick look. they bought it on the spot. and that evening, i remember my father bringing the whole family out to some expensive buffet somewhere.

the following week, he paid the down payment for a Nissan Sunny, from a Christian car salesman no less.

--

remember the seemingly crazy neighbour who lives above me that goes shouting 'ZHU BAH JIE' at the most insane of hours (eg. midnight?). actually, for a quick recap, you could just refer to project 355: even free has a motive (yes, click on it! you know you want to!). the good news is, he's moving out. the bad news is, not without damage to my health. or at least, that's what i suspect. and for a good reason too.

like i mentioned before, there was a period of time when the Satanist neighbour would give out free cigarettes for no apparent reason. most of the time, i would refuse to take them or i would not smoke them. it wasn't until last year October, that he started free loading off my cigarettes. not helping is the fact that the neighbour is a practising Satanist whom i can't help wonder if he has done stuff to my father before. he once mentioned while smoking my cigarettes, 'hey, i think your father doesn't like me' (my father being ardent and zealous and all that). just prior to this sentence, he was talking about how he cursed his classmates using voodoo dolls.

besides, it's not like i can run away from him. this neighbour lives above me. his balcony is just above my front door. so each time i pop out for a smoke, there he would be, looking down from the balcony and shouting to me 'Smoking ah???!' and within ten seconds, he would run out from his home and join me for a smoke. and watching him smoke can be quite unnerving. i had my suspicions that he was on psychiatric medication. he needs help lighting his cigarettes, given that his hands are always trembling. plus he's always licking his parched lips - dehydration - another side effect of anti-psychotics. it wasn't until one day when i made the fatal error of giving him my mobile phone number when he casually mentioned after six missed calls in a row, 'Hey, i didn't go see my psychiatrist today.'

the first thought that came to mind was 'Chee bye!' the second thought was 'how am i going to reject giving a psychiatric satanist neighbour cigarettes?' so we've proven the PSY bit. but what about the Satanic bit? after all, i've only got his word to take it for real. well, throughout our conversations sponsored by my free cigarettes, he would constantly mention a lesser demon. he would always mention how he wanted to 'Soul Link' with the demon and gain its powers and all that dark mumbo-jumbo. i of course, thought he was joking. until the day when he showed me his identification card whereby he took on the name of this lesser demon. once again, the first thought that came to mind was 'Chee bye!'

and so began a game of hide-and-seek. i would actually sneak out just to smoke. and when the Satanist neighbour could actually smell my cigarette smoke, he would dash out of his house making a whole lot of noise in the process. and i, scantily clad in boxer briefs and singlet, would be chased around the whole apartment block just trying to avoid contact with him. because what would you do when a psychotic and Satanist neighbour asks you for a cigarette and already for the umpteenth time? not that i'm being stingy, but there's a limit to free even.

it wasn't till the last time in late December when i sat down with him for a cigarette (it was after the night shift and i was too tired to get chased around the block), that he said to me cryptically: 'I've done something really bad. Something really bad that i would never be forgiven.' when taken in context, the last time i bumped into him before this was the first time i outright refused to give him cigarettes because he was holding his own pack in his hands. 'Why should i give you cigarettes when you have your own?' i told him. and he left with a disgruntled look on his face.

i couldn't help but shudder to recall one other conversation we had about how he had tried to kill his parents when he was 'possessed' by a lesser demon and how the police were involved. or the time when he decided to stop taking his anti-psychotics. with all this in mind, i can't help but be inclined to draw a missing link between sickness and a work of mischief on the Satanist's part.

the Satanist has moved out since then. but like i said, not without suspected damage to my health.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

fourteen years in Chua Chu Kang

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this is not National Geographic. this is Chua Chu Kang. an apt caption for this picture would perhaps be 'mating over mangoes'.

i've been living in my current estate of Chua Chu Kang for at least fourteen years to come. and admittedly, i've never really liked it. if you take a walk through the block of flats within Chua Chu Kang, the most prominent thing you would notice is the bizarre and varied amounts of litter that are strewn across the whole estate. beer cans at the void deck, used condoms at the carpark, Enalapril (cheap hypertensive medication) foils along the corridor, crumpled kleenex EVERYDAY at this particular spot under some windows, more than ten grossly yellowed Q-Tips (upon closer inspection, it's just the litter of bike-loving people who are fine-tuning their vehicles), dog poop complete with a platter of flies and some fancy French dressing that turns out to be nothing more than dog pee. the lists goes on. but obviously, my estate has a trigger-happy littering issue at hand.

and just when you thought the litter was the only bad stuff Chua Chu Kang had, i suddenly hear you complaining: 'What that strange odour that wafts in the air? it's like... chicken poop and fertilizers and dog crap and all foul-smelling creatures that roam this Earth!' the only reply i can conjure at this point of time, having lived in Chua Chu Kang for fourteen years, is: 'What smell?'

i can't help but thank God that He created the nose with the concept of Olfactory Fatigue/Adaptation in mind. to put it in simple homosexual language, you see someone hunky and handsome that you wouldn't mind having sex with. unfortunately, he has bad body odour. just give yourself a few minutes, and before you know it, that smell of unwashed underpants and egg white is gone. all thanks to Olfactory Fatigue. this is why BO should never be an excuse for not having sex with handsome, hunky gay men. this perhaps also presents new dating opportunities for the gay zookeepers and chicken farm workers.

alas, living in Chua Chu Kang is truly an immersive experience for the five senses. it constantly attacks your sense of sight, sense of smell and definitely the sense of hearing. living at the apartment directly opposite mine is a family of Catholics with two young boys and a Filipino maid. and you know how much i like kids better when they are locked away at say... orphanages and military schools. whenever i step out of the house, they run right to the door and have intellectually-stimulating and insulting conversations with me. like the following:

Neighbour's Kids: Hello uncle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (they are that happy to see me apparently, and equally insulting at the same time, i'm only 23 for crying out loud!)
Me: (with fake pride and gusto) Hello!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NK: Uncle, where are you going???????????????????????
Me: I'm going out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NK: Going where????????????
Me: OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
NK: Yes, uncle!!!!!!!!! But going where??????????
Me: Isn't OUT somewhere?

don't you just love that innocence???????????????????????????
living two stories below me is an Indian family. they are generally nice people when you meet them along the corridors. and i suspect they are the ones who leave the beer cans lying around at the communal tables down at the void decks. however, stick them back in their houses and it's almost like having a Brass Band within a four-room HDB apartment. there would be a constant verbal sparring of nondescript Tamil, followed by the loud clanging sound when something culinary like say... a wok, comes into contact with some hard surface. till today, i have yet to identify whether 'hard surface' is a human head or the kitchenette.

indeed, living in Chua Chu Kang really heightens your senses. thank goodness though, no sense of touch and taste as of yet. chicken poop, i can imagine, is not exactly palatable.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

caught between an uncle and an education

i know this sounds absurd, but i've always managed to find plenty of correlations between nursing and prostitution.

for a start, both jobs involve plenty of 'service'. of course, 'service' being a broadly defined term here. a Staff Nurse Level I could derive irritation from making a cup of Ovaltine, the same way a Callgirl Level I gets irked when the clients start getting 'pushy' during a blowjob. similarly, both professions involve a lot of diversity. for one, you don't get to pick your clients or colleagues. since both jobs are not exactly the prime choices of the Singaporean society, you generally get a bizarre mix of people who have heard the 'calling'. the 'calling' to serve, or the 'calling' that sounds like 'ka-ching bada bling bling'. who says nursing isn't a profitable job? try working permanent nights like me.

still, the same goes for 'client' diversity. i'm almost always nursing old men who could really do with a dose of viagra to spice up the old routine. the Ho down at King's Cross would be the first to attest to that. occasionally, there would be the good-looking chap who patronizes the premises which makes you agree that there's still some hope left in this world. unfortunately, most of these men are prolly damaged goods. the type that would force Roxanne to put on her red-light.

come to think of it, nursing and prostitution are two jobs that your parents will definitely not want you to take up unless they themselves are in the profession as well. hell, even the average person generally doesn't consider the hospital or the red-light district as fantastic places of employment. in fact, i dare you to find me girls (or boys, or to be fair, trans-gendered persons) who actually think 'I wanna be a Ho, afta' ma O's!!' post GCE examinations. it's prolly for a reason as well. both professions really expose the workers to a whole platter of contagious diseases. Hepatitis, STDs, MRSA, just to name a few.

but you know what's the main connecting factor between both jobs that i respect the most? the fact that nobody wants to do them and that there are people who still do them. we need Roxannes, prolly the same way society needs Nightingales.

--

in case you guys didn't know, i'm currently taking a part-time overseas degree with a UK university now. all would be well and wonderful if not for the fact that my uncle is the principle of the school and my cousin who is a Staff Nurse as well is in the course too. she's quite the devout Christian, though not the pushy, ardent type, like my father. two months into the course, she prolly knows that i'm a smoker and have piercings (a great taboo within the paternal family). well, i was never that close to her to begin with.

the classmates within the class are quite of a wide diversity. there are mothers, expectant mothers, Indian Nationals, PRCs, girls who have armpit hair, smokers, people with tattoos, loud-mouthed chaps, etc. it's almost like a Motley Crue (i don't know how to do umlauts, apologies) of sorts, minus the mothers and expectant ones. not everyone in the class is really of the same learning speed however. i'm not gonna start labelling any of my classmates with degretory terms, but here's a few classic quotes that i constantly hear during class:

'If you constantly scold the nursing students, you will only bring down their morality'
- during a lesson about mentorship, let's extend our arms to welcome a new generation of heathens, harlots and charlatans.

UK Lecturer: Alright, you guys can go for a short coffee break now. Be back at quarter to ten!
Student: That's 9.50 right?
- WTH?

UK Lecturer: 'You can actually purchase these nursing texts online. Like Amazon?'
Student: 'What's Amazon ah?'
- i can't find an appropriate smarmy remark for this.

slow-learning students are one of the things i have learnt to cope with since my student nursing days at the polytechnic. i can fully understand that people have different learning speeds and are perhaps not that familiar with googling things up on the internet and thus need to ask extra yet seemingly redundant questions during class. generally, they give me plenty of time during classes to doodle on the notepad and think of witty theories like the above about nursing and prostitutes. i do have a problem however, with slow-teaching lecturers. and that's what this class is currently experiencing.

the cool thing about this nursing degree is that it accommodates the constantly changing work schedules of the typical hospital nurse. there are morning and evening classes, both taught by two different lecturers. the not-so-cool thing however, is that both lecturers are of a different (dare i say it?)... teaching calibre. the morning classes are taught by a Chinese lady who happens to be a consultant with my Uncle's school. she was trained in the UK and is pretty much good friends with one of the Principle Lecturers in the UK university. suffice to say, she's the old school of nursing type. the evening classes are taught by a Peranakan lady with a hairdo that reminds me of a curator in a very high-crass museum. she's a very 'modern' lady of sorts. with plenty of experience in the local nursing education system.

the usual attendance for the morning classes is one or two miserable peeps that have to attend it when they've got conflicting shift schedules. the evening classes are a different story however. they usually number in the 20s. on a good day, they can even hit the 30s. so evidently, the evening classes are more popular than the morning ones. and for a good reason too. given that i've been attending a lot of morning classes due to my night shifts, i daresay that i'm well-equipped to make a judgement on this. you see, the old school of nursing lecturer doesn't really prepare her stuff well. i agree that she has the adequate nursing skills to handle patients in the hospital. but she's just not that cut out for teaching. actually, wait a minute. she doesn't really teach during class. she just hands out questions and topic for us to google up during class and calls it self-learning.

which would be all great if not for the fact that the students in class are devotees to the School of Rote Memory. they pay top dollar for the degree course to be infused and force-fed with knowledge. to tell the truth, i'm fine with both the rote memory and self-learning systems of learning. the fact that the old school of nursing lecturer constantly fumbles in her lessons is quite a motivating factor for me to do a speed search on the topic and bombard her with retorts during the lesson. but hey, this is Singapore and nobody ever said 'NO' to service and knowledge force-feeding, did they?

so it seems that a revolution is on the way. my classmates are rather unhappy with the way things are going now at school. and when they prodded for my opinion, i gave a rather balanced viewpoint of things (tsk, these librans... typical). what did they really want to do with the morning class lecturer. fire her? get the management to speak to her? send her back to UK (she previously worked and lived in the UK for an extensive period of time) to drink tea and nurse old ladies in Gingham dresses? basically, i told them to consider their moves before they made one.

of course i conveniently neglected to tell them that my uncle was the principle of the school, and because of that i got a whopping $9k discount for my education fees. well, i'm not one to bite the hand that feeds me.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Someone's mom

i've always liked the whole concept of coincidence. two or more random events or circumstances of striking occurrence at just seemingly mere chance. i've come to embrace coincidence as the little Kinder Surprises that life hands out on a regular basis. perhaps to make sense of all the madness that's going on around us. perhaps to give us some form of meaning in our lives. or maybe i'm just a mere mortal thinking too big when coincidence is just Life's idea of a joke reserved for her stand-up routine at some dingy cafe ('And so i let those idiotic star-crossed lovers of Mr. Fate find out that they were siblings way after they like had sex. What? Don't look at me like that. Someone had to do something about that 'star-crossed' bit, no?') after all, coincidence could boil right down to being nothing more than a mere mathematical statistic.

i've always reckoned our small little red dot of a country to be like a constantly replaying indie film of sorts. an indie film about coincidence and the fates, heavily-censored by the Media Development Authority, no less. but still, an indie film talking about how in our densely populated island of 4.5 million, there's bound to be paths crossed and interlinked in ways that you would never have expected. like the Cabin Crew boyfriend whom i went out with for about three to four months. during that period of time his grandmother was admitted into my ward for lower limb infection. she passed away one month later. we broke up another month later. i would like to think that i was there in that period of time of the ex-Cabin Crew boyfriend's life for a reason - his grandmother.

but i'm guessing it probably nothing more than mere coincidence. and perhaps Life and her flailing attempts at a career in improv.

--

the hospital is one place that you normally wouldn't expect or want to bump into acquaintances of yore. generally it just means bad news. they could be having loved ones in the hospital for varied reasons; from accidents to cancer. it's not exactly great conversation topics to have after having not met them for such a long time. of course, it could also mean that they've decided to sell their souls to the health-care machine. they could be doctors, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, HR, etc. you wouldn't want that to happen as well because the health-care machines eat you up. they leave you with no life. i'm one fine example. i'm so mentally-drained over the weekends that i would rather blast people with shotguns on my Xbox 360 than go out and blast real gay people with my 'shotgun'.

sadly enough, i've met several people in the course of my career in the hospital so far. like a sarge from my Brunei army days who was only 28 and in the pink of health when he was suddenly stricken with liver disease. i never was that close to him to begin with. but when i met him in the hospital, he was haggard, sallow, awfully jaundiced with tubes sticking out of him. some were draining bile, some were draining blood. mostly, you could see it wasn't helping him that much at all.

i bumped into him a second time when i was transferring a patient to a ward that he was residing in. by charming with one of the more gay-looking nurses there (okay, there was only one gay-looking nurse), i got to peek at his case notes. to summarize, he didn't have long to live. but in the face of death, he seemed rather brave on the surface. he made some really weird requests. he asked for a Quiksilver water bottle that i had with me (i was about to go for break after i transferred the patient to the new ward). he saw my N95 and also asked if he could have the fancy-looking casing that came with the phone. i said i would try my best to see if i had any spares left. i never followed-up from there. he passed away a week later.

well, just two weeks ago i bumped into another acquaintance from my secondary school days. an awfully intelligent and humble chap from my Music 'O' level classes. suffice to say, he was the discipline master's son. which gave him the extra burden of being a model student, to begin with. it's not exactly an easy feat. i mean, my dad teaches at Sunday school and i'm already guilty of six of the seven deadly sins (i'm not that prone to wrath) every sunday. he's a particularly funny chap. i have with me a postcard that he wrote to me during class. the postcard was an advert for a play named The Exodus by The Necessary Stage. the venue was at the Gay World Stadium, Geylang Road. Geylang is a street in Singapore that's famous for wholesome foods and well... not-so-wholesome Hos. don't ask about Gay World Stadium, it's prolly just from a time when 'Gay' really meant 'i'm truly happy'.

nonetheless, this particular chap of mine boxed up with words 'GAY WORLD' in the postcard and wrote: 'GAY WORLD, AT GEYLANG SOMEMORE! EXODUS! BLASPHEMOUS!'. funny people with great morals who can see context. you just gotta love them.

so there i was going for the night shift, rushing to work. i was particularly late because i couldn't decide whether to wear the Ben Sherman or the Benetton. i'm not usually like that. so there i was rushing for the lift when there he was, coming out of the lift. at that moment, i thought to myself: I'm late for work, if he's here, he'll be here for a few more days to visit a loved one. i'll just wave and say hi.' and thus i put my thoughts into action and just waved and said hi. of course, he responded back with the same. and you know what's the irony and coincidence?

the next day, i got a message from a friend saying that his mother had passed away. seven years of having not met in such a long time and all i could think of was to say hi and go away. and thus in times like these, i can't help but take up my quill and start writing bad poetry.

'tis an acquaintance of my youth
aye, in a corridor of life and death
paths intertwined for a moment brief
a faint proof of acquaintanceship didst crack upon our lips
and paths cross'd nary to meet again
never did i see
the grief beneath that facade of crack'd lips


Saturday, January 12, 2008

how to link poetry and liver together in a single sentence

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i've always attributed the same set of sentiments for both poetry and liver: a certain sort of disdain, accompanied with distasteful faces and perhaps thoughts such as 'What is this shit?' or 'What in God's name is this?' that was what i was prolly thinking of when my mother fed me my first piece of liver at the tender age of five. it was from a packet of mee pok (fish balls with flat yet curly noodles, sometimes with pieces of nondescript meat thrown in for added value) of course, i hadn't learnt modern day descriptive language like 'shit' back then, so words like 'eeeeee' and 'yucks' aptly describe what i must have been thinking. none the less, after twenty-three years of living in this good Earth, i still have not understood how people can bring themselves to eat liver and listen to poetry. it's admittedly, like cat food and bestiality, an acquired taste.

frankly speaking, i blame it on our education system in Singapore and its obsessive need to break down enjoyable 'O' level subjects into no more than ten-year series questions. you see, i've always enjoyed literature. this comes from a childhood of endless amounts of reading Enid Blyton and Encyclopaedia Brown. it wasn't till secondary school that i had a really inspiring literature teacher who constantly asked me cheem questions whenever i submitted my book review assignments.

there was this one time when i did a review of Tolkien's The Hobbit. it was nothing more than a fantasy novel to me, and a really good one, i must add. in the review assignment, i wrote about how i was 'thrilled to discover Bilbo Baggin's impromptu heroics despite the fact that he was involuntarily thrown into war'. when she handed me back the assignment, she asked 'So what do you really think about The Hobbit?' my young and unmoulded mind could only think of two answers to such a question: 'Ok lor' or 'Good lor'. i answered with the latter.

with a slight look of disappointment on her face, she then suggested to me, 'true, Tolkien did liken the story to the First World War, that's good. but did you notice that he also emphasized on the individual growth of Bilbo himself? and he contrasted that against the thirteen dwarfs that were with him.' i likened it to a moment of revelation, just a notch lower than enlightenment. from that day on, that was my 'O' level answer whenever people ask me about The Hobbit. 'individual growth' and 'WWI heroics'. i guess i was trained in such a way that providing a standardized 'O' level question to every question in the world, one could never go wrong.

so you see, literature which was a lovely subject worth studying was marred by education. all i could think about was how to present the literary text in question, in a way that gets me the most marks for my preliminary exams. how i can tackle the 'O' levels and discover the various themes throughout the text and the various ways the writers uses puns, metaphors and etc. alas, the 'O' levels never did feature poetry, just plays and classics. so the school had very little emphasis placed on poetry. we did do a quick run-thru of Wordsworth's Daffodils, but that was all. it's a pity that i never got to understand what the big hoohah is over the great poets and their works. i did try when i was twenty-one, but poetry seems to pale in comparison to plays and stories. the damage has been done, i guess. you can throw me 'The Raven' and i can give you a great wikipedia answer about its gothic roots and many parodies in modern day culture.

none the less, the reason why i'm suddenly writing about poetry in perhaps that i felt inclined to start writing a poem after something that happened in the course of last week. i had a fleeting encounter with an acquaintance of mine that lasted no more than three seconds at best. but three seconds are enough to get you thinking about the past and apparently, inspire poetry in me. so, here's the poem:

'tis an acquaintance of my youth
aye, in a corridor of life and death
paths intertwined for a moment brief
a faint proof of acquaintanceship didst crack upon our lips
and paths cross'd nary to meet again
never did i see
the grief beneath that facade of crack'd lips

this may come across as really bad poetry, and OKAY, it is bad poetry. like what in the world is that about cracked lips? and where's the rhythm and pattern? throw all the rotten tomatoes and organic vegetables you want.

well, just don't fling those pieces of liver at me.



Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rueben

the years between the onset of pubic hair to the end of acne were really horrible ones for me. admittedly, the teenage years were full of god-awful blunders and embarrassments that one could easily cross off under a heading labelled 'The Folly of Youth'. of course, it would be preferable that the heading in question be in font size 6 and perhaps in a nondescript font and language such as Wingdings and/or Swahili respectively. sometimes, i can't help but wonder what would life be like now if i redid the teenage years with all the confidence and charisma i've gained now. but that would be like playing an Xbox 360 game with the 'Invincibility' cheats turned on. and immortality can only be so fun for say... two centuries or so?

but as depressing as the teenage years were, you have to admit that it was always the friends and acquaintances that made things really fun. no matter how bad work, a social gathering or perhaps an orgy might turn out, it's always the people that make or break it in the end. not that i had a lot of good friends to begin with. but there were many bizarre acquaintances that i knew of. i was never with the good-looking idiots, the studious creeps or the cool pussies. i was part of what i called 'The Counter-Culture Geek Club'. 'club' consisting of only three people apparently: a plus-sized 'passing phase' Satanist (not sure whether she's still one) female whom i last heard married a Caucasian, a minus-sized geeky chap and well, me (i was plus-minus-sized, i guess). the three of us bonded over a self-drawn comic book which we constantly expanded. every three days or so, each of us would bring back the comic book and draw stories based on The Neverhood (a 1996 Microsoft adventure game made entirely out of clay). the other two club members came up with brilliant pictures and intriguing dialogue. my drawing skills were as good as a janitor's first day at a rocket manufacturing plant with the job title of 'rocket scientist'. i was thus in charge of spellchecking, grammar and coming up with oh-so-witty lines.

now, you might be wondering what's the point of all this sudden reminiscence? why is Jon suddenly going into all this nostalgic crap about the days of yore when Gameboy Advances, Alien Workshop jeans and the Spice Girls were still all the rage amongst the hormonal youths of the 21st Century. admittedly, i've never been one to ponder much about the past. more often than not, my past always seems to be rather embarrassing when looked upon from the perspective of the present. this of course, makes the future all that more enticing. still, sometimes, and just sometimes... i can't help but wonder about those acquaintances of yore: whatever are they doing now? have they found success? gotten pregnant? gotten into drugs? gotten divorced? or worse still, dead?

the recent debacle about Singaporean Dragonboaters drowning in the Tonle Sap river in Cambodia. i personally knew one of those guys who passed in the river. Rueben, that was his name. several words come to mind when i think about him. tall, tanned, athletic, talented, generous, sincere, creative and really, a sensitive soul through and through. i had the great privilege of working with him during our polytechnic days. he was with the Piano Ensemble while i, from the drama club, StageARTs. someone apparently came up with the brilliant initiative of working together to stage a musical of sorts that showcasted the talents from both groups. and thus, a musical of sorts was born.

suffice to say, it had a crappy script involving a strict mother, a girl with a benign cancerous growth, a boy who loved the girl with the benign cancerous growth, and a general load of 'star-crossed lovers' bull. it's a really horrid storyline that ranks amongst the equally bad ones that are a dime a dozen in our local Channel 8 dramas. the only saving grace? Rueben and his repertoire of self-composed piano pieces. i dare say that he's the main reason why anyone bothered attending the musical at all. till today, i still own a personal CD copy of all the piano pieces that he composed for the musical. aptly, the musical was the 'The Piano's Piece'.

it was whilst going through all my old .jpgs from Piano's Piece that i found this ironically poignant shot i captured of Rueben playing the piano. i wasn't like a buddy to him or anything like that. but we had a good working relationship and he was always very accommodating to all the changes that i, as the director, kept making. for that, i'm really grateful and appreciative. this may come across as very mushy, but hey, death and dying gives us plenty of excuses to say what we truly feel.

well, Rueb, the curtains may have closed, but you will always be playing that good music in my heart.



About Me


Name: the nurse
Home: Singapore
About Me: i'm a nurse, i'm gay, i smoke, i play the piano, i patronize the theatre, i flip through glossy magazines for no apparent reason, i love sex, i am a left-handed libran, i watch art-house films mostly, i love house music, and did i say i love sex?
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