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Fun – Carry On

In lieu of the recently discovered misery, I currently face a lack of many words.

Nevertheless, today I felt alive for the first time in a while. It was a day I did only the things that I wanted to do, and it felt good.

Last night, my cousin went to Fun’s concert, and called me when this song was playing. I’m not sure if it was deliberate or not, but then I got the message loud and clear.

If you’re lost and alone or you’re sinking like a stone
Carry on
May the past be the sound of your feet upon the ground
Carry on

Thanks, babe.

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Bastille – Pompeii

This sums up how I’m feeling right now.

But if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
Nothing changed at all?
And if you close your eyes,
Does it almost feel like
You’ve been here before?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?
How am I gonna be an optimist about this?

I have to retreat to the corner of my bed now.

Learn How to Die to Learn How to Live

Early this year, I lost my grandma. I was not meant to be taken aback when she had to go because she had a full struggle and I saw her progressively get worse.

Just two years before, she was the most active 80plus lady I knew. She was alert enough to hear all my stories, to figure out how we can see each other via the computer screen while I was abroad. She knew to ask all the right questions – whether I was eating well, whether I was keeping warm.

When I came back, she kept interested in my pictures. She gave me much more freedom than she used to. But she was still a force to be reckoned with. She was the life of every party. And she was a disciplinarian. She would discipline us behind the scenes, but rave about us to all relatives, neighbours and strangers – true Asian style and more.

One day she had a bad fall, and everything just got worse thereon. She wasn’t as mobile, she wasn’t as strong. She couldn’t find the strength to move around on her own anymore. She couldn’t go to the market or to make us delicious meals. Her memory got worse.

Then she had the second fall, and she started talking about death like she knew it was knocking at her door. We refused to listen, we forced physiotherapy on her, we made her eat more than she could (which was nothing at all).

And so when she couldn’t get out of bed, and she was constantly ill and eventually hospitalized for a long time, we knew her time was coming. We were warned to be mentally prepared. But when she left at a ripe 90 years old, I was shocked anyway. My heart dropped anyway. My tears ran anyway.

Despite that, despite all her suffering, she tried to impart words of wisdom whenever she was alert enough to. She told me that I have to be careful when selecting a partner. She told me to be good to my parents. She told me to work hard. And she seemed like she knew she was leaving, and had come to terms with it.

I think somewhere along the way while I was grappling with her passing, I was recommended to read Tuesdays with Morrie. I took four months to start. And it’s an amazing book.

While it wasn’t really about how to deal with the passing of a loved one, it makes one reflect on whether we’re living life the way we want to. It really strikes a chord.

Below is my favourite excerpt, from when Mitch was asking Morrie (who was diagnosed with ALS) about the idea of dying:

Did you think much about death before you got sick, I asked.

“No.” Morrie smiled. “I was like everyone else. I once told a friend of mine, in a moment of exuberance, ‘I’m gonna be the healthiest old man you ever met!’ ”

How old were you?

“In my sixties.”

So you were optimistic.

“Why not? Like I said, no one really believes they’re going to die.”

But everyone knows someone who has died, I said. Why is it so hard to think about dying?

“Because,” Morrie continued, “most of us all walk around as if we’re sleepwalking. We really don’t experience the world fully, because we’re half-asleep, doing things we automatically think we have to do.”

And facing death changes all that?

“Oh, yes. You strip away all that stuff that and you focus on the essentials. When you realize you are going to die, you see everything much differently.

He sighed, “Learn how to die, and you learn how to live.”

the weekend read

Are you a ‘have’ person or a ‘be’ person?

S and I were talking about this last night about ‘have’ and ‘be’ people. This sounds weird in English but it stems from ‘haben’ and ‘sein’, I believe.

(Strangely, I had to think extra hard to remember that it’s ‘avoir’ and ‘être’ in French. While typing in French, I also thought of ‘Flughafen’ before ‘aéroport’, though the latter was much closer to ‘airport’. S must be pleased. Anyway, I digress.)

He was talking about a friend who grew up in a village in Germany with few inhabitants, and never ventured far for most of his life, until he moved to a different city for university, and then to China for an exchange semester. Now he has graduated and is in India doing an internship.

While I was in awe of his sense of adventure, I had wondered if he was really enjoying himself there. To be constantly close to your family (in a village!) all your life, then move to a continent so far away, in a country with language and culture extremely different from your own, it sounded like a lot, a lot of adapting to do.

S said that his friend was happy, and that he was a ‘be’ person. He needed little things to be happy; he lived for the moment. He was that kind of guy.

Then we also established that S was that kind of guy too. He didn’t need material things, he didn’t need photographs to capture the moment, he just lived it and retold stories from memory – not from physical evidence.

In fact, while he was in Asia for two and a half weeks, he only took out his camera on the night before he left – to take one picture. It didn’t turn out well, so he kept it again. I wasn’t even sure he brought his camera all trip long.

If ‘have’ and ‘be’ were a spectrum, I think I would fall in the middle, perhaps an inch or two closer to ‘have’. I used to be a ‘have’ extremist. I didn’t own material things but I enjoyed the thought of having them. I idolized people who did. And I liked keeping evidence of everything.

At a concert, I would take a million pictures of the band on stage while I was extremely far away. While people jumped, I tried to keep still filming a video of them singing my favourite songs. When I was first in Europe, I snapped pictures of everything because I wanted to remember everything – the street signs, roads, cars, landmarks, and possibly every dish I tried. I kept every city map and every ticket stub.

I think somewhere along the line I started inching towards ‘be’. At concerts, I only take a picture to show I-was-here-damn-it! I’m enjoying the songs now. While traveling, I’m busy lying on the grass or wandering down streets to snap many pictures.

I’m also beginning to realize I need much less to feel safe now. Perhaps it’s has to do with being comfortable by myself. Or with someone. With S, it was always little worries. He’d ask if I wanted to do something and if I said yes, we’d just do it. I mean, after all, he was the sort of guy who spins me around into a dance when we hear a good song on the streets.

Yes, on the streets. Where people are.

Nevertheless, I’ve still got ‘have’ in me. I still like having physical things to look back on. I just cannot fathom travelling without a camera. But I’m full of admiration of the ‘be’ people. I think the ‘be’ people live with much less worries about whether they’ve captured enough memories.

This will sound cheesy, but perhaps every once in a while, we should really try to live for the moment.

Michael Bublé

So yesterday a bunch of us were fortunate smart enough to get ourselves seats to Michael Bublé’s gig cos my god, he was a-maze-zing.

I’m not even taking his good looks into factor right now. It was honestly one of the most entertaining concerts I’ve ever been to, and I would say that is a considerable amount, with a considerable variety of genres (pop, rock, R&B and now jazz).

Needless to say I had good company. But the awesome things about a concert are:

  1. You can tell if the performer can really sing live.
  2. You can tell if the performer has personality.
  3. You can tell if the performer is having a great time.
  4. You can hear them perform covers, which I LOVE.
  5. You get goosebumps when the performer keeps quiet and the whole crowd sings harmoniously.

And it really worked out, all 5 points, really really well for last night’s gig. 1) He was an amazing crooner, he didn’t fall flat on a single note. It was like he could do this half asleep and still sound this damn good. 2) He is bad ass. He made all of us laugh till our socks dropped. He is a stand-up comedian, so unexpected. Unafraid to laugh at himself, unafraid to tease his 9-man orchestra, unafraid to sing songs of ‘questionable’ masculinity.. 3) Amidst all that joking, he paused to laugh uncontrollably at his own joke. All I could say was HAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA.. 4) MJ HELLO. 5) Every single time, this gives me goosebumps. Every single time.

And all I can say is, I had a rough stressed day prior to this gig, worrying about the day after and when it started, my mind blanked, my adrenaline was up, my attention span was as long as the gig was, my smile was undeniably genuine.

I freaking love concerts for reasons like these. And Michael Bublé just reminded me of them. For that, I would love to get better seats the next time he’s here. Because he is worth it. Honestly. I don’t think I’m done raving about this gig for a while, that’s just how good it was. And to all of you who weren’t there, all I can say is… HAHA SUCKERS!

Dang this was such a fangirl blog post. Anyhow, here’re the videos that sum up why I love concerts and why I love Michael Bublé’s gig… and him.