When only change can set you free

As a lot of you know, I’ve been spending a lot of time healing my battered heart. There’s been anger, recrimination and a lot of stupid going on. I’ve said stupid things, hurt more than I’ve helped, attempted to find solace in all the wrong things and all the wrong places.

Where are things now? I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’ll always be broken. My heart will always bleed, my emotions will always hit me hard enough to bow my knees and I will still cry more often than not.

But that’s okay. I’m tired of always putting on a brave front, letting people believe I always have it together when I don’t. I’m not always strong. And though there are times I like spending time alone, I can’t always do or be on my own. I need God. I need my loved ones. I need to allow myself to be weak and to believe that sometimes it’s okay to not be okay.

Tomorrow is a new day and it will take care of itself. Thank God that every day, I can wake up and give thanks for a brand new day.

What binds is inextricable

I used to be the queen of breaking ties. Because there will come a time when I’ve reached my absolute limits. When I’ve given everything I had until there was nothing left.

Then, when I know it must either end or get better, I end it and walk away. Friends or lovers become distant memories. I do all the agonising before and never after.

But I find, sometimes, that life has other ideas. God has other plans. The person I most want to avoid keeps appearing everywhere I go to the point I feel, in my self-deluded moments, that the universe is mocking my pain.

I ponder on this as one of my favorite people has a birthday coming up. And another, more recent acquaintance, has a birthday exactly a week before his. Both have met the other, but have pretty much just me in common.

The former, I remember how I kept wanting to bail and he would coax me right back. Friends don’t walk away from each other, he said. The latter, I don’t know. I take some of the blame for it, for allowing something to start knowing that if it turned ugly I would have to live with the repercussions unless I either moved out of the country or out of my industry. Neither two options are feasible right now so I suppose I really should have though it through in the first place. Or chose not to ignore all the warning bells and horrid pricking doubts.

Though I’ve managed to move on with the former, it’s back to square one with the latter. Do I really want to go through the pain, the uncertainties, the horrid slog, the emotional rollercoaster? With the first, at least we had so many shared memories. With the second, it’s just resonating interests and mental chemistry.

Friendships are things you work at just as much as romantic entanglements. It’s not about numbers, it’s not about just keeping in touch.

In the end, you must think about the people who matter most to you. And actually make it a point to show just how much you do care. Not necessarily every day, but in what ways you can. That’s why I celebrate birthdays because Happy Birthday really is just another way to say:

”I’m glad you came into this world. I’m lucky to have met you. I’m happy that you’re still here today.”

Happy birthday, monkeys.

Is Les Miserables the cure to my misery?

I love musicals but I have a confession:

I’d never listened to the Les Miserables soundtrack before Susan Boyle.

Quite an oversight, really, when I grew up listening to West Side Story and Phantom of the Opera. Why not Les Miserables? Because I found the backstory plain miserable. A convict on the run? A heartbroken prostitute? A maltreated orphan? I preferred my musicals of a much lighter vein, thanks.

But maybe I’ve changed. Or maybe I’m just dogged by this persistent sorrow that won’t go away. I’m just escaping into the music all day, every day. Much like when I was growing up in a home where singing was my only solace, music the only escape from the madness of my parents’ marriage.

Is it loneliness? Is it recurring depression? Is it just me feeling too much of everything the way I usually do? I don’t know. But I find myself listening to my favourite showtunes – As Long As He Needs Me (Oliver) and I Dreamed A Dream (Les Miserables) on repeat. Now my new obsession is Les Miserables’ Bring Him Home. It resonates with that dull ache I thought I’d put to rest last year. The terrible hollowness and painful longing to just go home. A permanent home where there is no more pain, no more loneliness, no more having to feel or care. Where there is peace. Where there is quiet.

I feel parched while in the middle of an oasis; why is the blackness returning even as I have good people around me and life, though not perfect, isn’t at all awful?

And I cling to Pratchett’s reminder that you do not die for a god: you live for one. Every day of my life.

 

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there
He is young
He’s afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.
He’s like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone.
Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy
You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live
If I die
Let me die
Let him live
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

Under Pressure

I admit that twice at work I almost burst into tears at my desk.

The first time was due to personal drama that came out of left field and upset me to the point I took refuge in my favourite Japanese restaurant. Unagi and sake are the next best thing to a shoulder to cry on. Rather than make a scene, I left the office promptly at lunch, ate, drank and sniffled into a napkin and then came back able to work. I don’t do emotional displays at the workplace though my ex-colleagues do know that when I’ve reached point break, I scare even my boss.

The second time, I was buckling under the strain of three accounts. Trying to do followups on one account, finish prepping for another account’s event the next morning and then a third account suddenly demanding attention NOW NOW NOW.

I was stressed to the point I could barely function. The thing is: I can be easily distracted but once I focus on something, I tune everything out and focus on it with laser intensity.

It’s a whole different ballgame from when I was an editor. My job was sorted with a tasklist and each task had priority queues. The tasks would be done in order and by priority. I would also make it clear that someone’s priority might not be mine and if he had issues with it…suck it up.

So now I have to be a bit more flexible and determine just how to manage all the things on my plate.

My line manager gave me advice: “Sometimes, it’s better to overcommunicate rather than not say enough.”

I have to be more clear about what I’m doing and what I need to get done. Even if someone wants something now, I’ll just have to justify why now is really not possible.

Another friend of mine is doing his best to play mentor. He told me “Just understand that rather than hand in a piece of crap work to meet a deadline, make sure you give in your best work even if it takes more time.”

Now, more than ever, I’m glad I have good people in my life who will take the time to listen to my woes and help me address my foibles.

Hopefully the next week will be better. I like my role. I love my colleagues. I just hate feeling lost, inadequate and rushed.

Time to find my own tempo instead of crying when I can’t hear the beat.

Leave me alone already

Once upon a time, a girl dated a guy. She really liked him. Unfortunately that wasn’t enough. Girl was me, if you need clarification.
It took me a month to get over him. I cried every other night, lost my appetite and couldn’t sleep.
I’m over it though I don’t feel like dating anyone for the next, I don’t know, FIVE YEARS?
But it hurts to get old scabs picked at. For old wounds to be reopened.
I don’t want to talk about, think about it or do anything. Besides cutting off all my hair and retiring to the Himalayas.
Am tired.

There is no halfway

Into my second week at work, I’m coming to realise the enormity of the tasks ahead of me. That even though public relations and journalism are related fields, I am still starting over. There is still so much for me to do and so much distance I need to traverse before I get to the guideposts set for me.

And before I even reach those guideposts, I know they will be moved even further.

Some days, like today, I feel thankful for my past experience. Things gelled together, ideas sparked and I felt the corporate drone’s equivalent of ‘being in the zone’.

But yesterday, I felt so ill-equipped and lost. Things that are so simple and routine for most PR practitioners seemed beyond me and I felt overwhelmed by my inexperience. I realise with every day how much I took for granted when I was a journalist and now I’m on the other side, I find it harder than I thought to show the care and meticulousness needed to do my job well.

I had a sad few minutes of staring at the screen, feeling as lost as a child on the first day of school. “God, I suck.”

But the pity party ended the next day and I decided to just buck up for the tasks to come. My plate will soon be overflowing at work, something my boss has given me due warning about.

Frankly, I’m terrified. But I’m also stubborn as heck and with a tendency to get over my phobias by just facing them. That’s how I got over my fear of the dark, of traversing a city alone, calling people on the phone, public speaking and heights. Whatever you’re most afraid of, I find, is what you need to tackle first. Now my biggest challenge is letting go of my fear of depending solely on God and not my own abilities.

There’s no saving you

Sometimes, I don’t get you at all.
You love the thrill of the chase – getting that job, that girl, that deal.
But once you get what you think you want, you decide you don’t really want it all that much at all. You coast, giving as little as you can get away with or just casting it by the wayside. Just like a child with a new toy. So fickle, so covetous, so easily bored or distracted.
You could be so much more than that. You’re talented, smart and with a mind that can do so much with so little effort. But you’re so not into making an effort, aren’t you? You want instant gratification. You want everything, for next to nothing.
In some ways I’m just as fickle, flighty and allergic to exertion. Which is why, sometimes, I understand that part of the reason you’re where you are is because life has hurt you too much. You’ve dreamed – those dreams were dashed. You’ve loved – to find nothing but betrayal and disappointment.
Though you hurt me so bad, enough that I want to hurt you, I can’t. I don’t know why I care about you, baby. I want you to do more and be more. To live more.  But I can’t save you. I can’t change you. One thing’s life taught me is that the only person I can change is myself.
I can pray for you. I can still care, more than I ought. And why aren’t I just telling you all this, to your face, in a letter, in an email? Because, baby, if there’s one thing I’ve learned about you is that you’ve never been good at listening. Especially to words you don’t want to hear.

Seeking better counsel

I’ve struggled over the years with faith.

I profess to believe in God, I say that I want to do what He wills and be what He wants.

Then I go off the path into the wilderness and royally screw myself over.

The worst bit is when I go to bed with a heavy heart and wake up in the morning still feeling ill at ease.

What have I done, dear Lord, what have I done?”

I’m so tired of living this way. Of turning to Him only 10 percent of the time while asking for guidance from my whims, my desires and my poor imposed upon friends the other 90 percent.

There are so many things I need to know. So many things I need to practise. So many things that I need to stop clinging to.

These lines from Derek Webb’s I Repent resonate the most with me right now:

I am wrong and of these things I repent.

I repent, I repent of parading my liberty
I repent. I repent of paying for what I get for free
and for the way I believe that I am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I’ve been wrong.

Dear God, give me the strength to start living my life right.

So much for making a quiet exit

Before I get to make the news public, Advertising+Marketing does it for me.

A M

I never thought that joining a new PR firm would generate so much fanfare.

Yes, I’m joining Text 100. Of all the PR firms I’ve dealt with over the years, I can safely say it’s one I enjoyed dealing with.

The package isn’t what appealed because The Agency’s pay wasn’t much different and it had what some suppose is the ultimate perk – working from home. Yet I felt that Text 100’s core values resonated the most with my own code of ethics. Having as many quirks as I do, it’s not always easy to find a place where my principles and mindset would not only be acceptable but welcomed. Am thankful Text 100 boss Mei Ling’s decided to take a chance on me despite the knowledge I might be a handful. After all, I used to be the reigning Dragon Queen Who Eats PR N00bs For Breakfast.

Of course, I don’t expect it to be all wine and roses. Having some of the crew on my MSN for awhile, I know when they get off work. I don’t foresee going home on time happening very often, but that’s fine with me. Late nights are just part of the PR drill and the publishing beat too.

Right now, I’m trying to decide if working with these people is a perk or a downside…

Case in point:

t1002_3

t1002_22

(pictures shamelessly stolen from http://text100malaysia.blogspot.com)

I kid, I kid. You know I adore you guys! And you’re welcome to ‘rag’ on me for all the times I was:

  1. Snippy with you on the phone
  2. Whiny about not being fed
  3. Putting on my Black-Faced Editor mask at events

And a big shout out to the Text 100 bloggers:

(alphabetical order)

Beatrice

David Lian

Eevon

Lee

Please update the Text MY blog already, last post was in August, slackers!

You’ll always be my hero, Pa

Today is my father’s 58th birthday. Of all the men I’ve ever known, he’s always been the yardstick I measure anyone of them by.

And no one really quite measures up.

My father writes poetry, taught himself BASIC, C and woodworking. He longed to play violin when he was a child but couldn’t afford it. He ended up finally getting a violin in his middle age and teaching himself. He’s actually a talented flute and keyboard player and speaks four languages.

Sometimes I feel outgeeked by my father. He now blogs avidly, writes better than I could aspire to (and I have two so-called writing awards), and thinks Google Chrome is awesome. He introduced me to Star Wars, the IBM PC, comic books, Tolstoy and Wilde.

He’s been the Postmaster General and his former staff still speak of him glowingly. Despite the fatc that Dad’s always been a restless vagabond and had a different job written for each of our birth certificates. In many ways, I’m my father’s daughter. Always with a finger in a different pie, mad about books, inflexible when it comes to work ethics and unabashedly romantic.

I was mad about the last guy I dated because for the first time, I met someone who reminded me of my dad. But like my father, he was, emotionally, a difficult and oft-inaccessible book. And I’m the type who will tackle a complex book without giving up, struggling through verbosity, obscure references and murky metaphors. Though that book is closed to me forever, the pages of my father’s heart are open to me now.

Knowing my father loves me, having him tell me so, is probably one of the most precious things I’ve ever received. Thank you, Pa, for helping me to value the things you can’t buy with money more than anything else in the world. I’ll never be ashamed to say that I am my father’s daughter. And I love you as much today as I did when I was a child who thought her father was the best-looking, smartest and best father in the world.

I remember, Pa, pretending to be so tired and lying in the car with my eyes shut. And you carried me out, thinking I was sleeping. I wouldn’t have opened my eyes then for anything.

Love you, Pa.