Meeting below Streetlights at Midnight

guy_sitting_on_the_pavement_under_streetlight.jpg

I tiptoed towards the door with my hands unconsciously raised in front of myself as a zombie would. The carpet padding muted my footsteps, but then again, it was really unnecessary  as everyone in my household slept behind closed doors.

I opened the door, there was no creak, and soon I was no longer in  the comfort of my own home, but enjoying the chilly winds and the eerie but serene quiet of midnight.

I headed to where we were supposed to meet. At first I didn’t see her, but as I approached the meeting point, there was a figure sitting beside the bush. She was not obvious at first because she sat in the shade cast on the bush by the streetlamp. She dressed like how a mugger would; surreptitious black hoodie, black pants, black shoes, and with her hoodie drawn. Then I looked down at what I was wearing and felt guilty for passing that judgement, for I was wearing exactly the same thing.

I sat down quietly by her side. She was smoking, something I didn’t do myself because I didn’t approve of it.

“Hey,” she acknowledged me.

I replied her with the same word. I could smell the stench of cigarettes on her breath and instinctively twisted my mouth. She noticed and mumbled an apology and cautiously exhaled away from me before continuing, “Nice to see you, Ern.”

“I wish we didn’t have to meet like this every time.”

It was something I felt ever since the first meeting but the initial excitement from the mischief of doing something past my bedtime had faded and was eventually not enough to overwhelm the annoyance I felt from always having to meet her under the cover of darkness and at the hours when most living creatures slept.

“What’s wrong with the way we meet?” she asked nonchalantly, as if nothing was wrong, while exhaling smoke into the frosty night air.

I did not have a plan of how to confront her about all the things that were wrong with the way we were meeting, so I decided to drop the subject and change the topic instead. I asked her why she was dressed like that.

“Do you have a problem with how I dress, Ern?” She emphasized the word problem. Her tone suggested that she was not particularly fond of my constructive criticism about her dressing. She also said it without making eye contact, which made me flinch.

I was about to apologize, but before I could, she beat me to it.

“I’m sorry, Ern.” She said as she turned to me. “I’m just feeling a bit cranky now that’s all.”

I laughed nervously and told her I totally understood, although I did not understand in the slightest bit. She finished her cigarette and I watched as she tossed it into the drain-hole  that was set in the pavement. Littering was one of the reasons why I disapproved of smoking, but I kept my mouth shut.

“So, do you want to make out now or what?” She removed her hood, which revealed her beautiful mahogany brown curls, turning to face me once more.

The virgin within me perked up and began to scream at me, “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” But her cold demeanor had turned me off, and I was not particularly feeling in the mood to make out with her, especially with the stench of cigarettes fresh on her breath, along with all the worldly problems I was facing at that point in my life. I politely declined her, while the virgin within me began to hurl curse words at me that I did not even know myself.

I did not realize I was blankly staring at the ground with such intensity that could have bore a hole in the tar road until she jerked me by pulling my arm.

“Hey Ern, I may not have much practice at this, but I can tell that something’s bugging you. And I may not be the right person you want to share this with, but I think you should share it with someone. It’s not good to keep all those problems bottled up.”

When I made no move to reply, she continued, “Everyone has problems, Ern. And everyone deals with them differently. For me, I smoke, I steal, I get high. And I believe you don’t do any of those things, right?”

I shook my head, although she was not expecting a reply because she already continued talking.

“So, one way or another, you have to find some sort of stress relief. Those feelings you have inside you, those bottled-up problems, they’re going to eat away at you for every day that you don’t share them and don’t solve them. You’re going to be worrying about them day in and day out, then you can’t live your life to your fullest, with those burdens on your shoulder. Trust me, Ern, I know.”

I abandoned my mission to bore a hole in the tar road and looked up. There was truth in what she said, and she was also true at suspecting that she was not the one I wanted to confide in, so instead I mumbled a lame ‘thank you’ and gave her a weak smile.

“It’s chill. Always glad to help,” she chirped as she withdrew her pack from her jacket pocket. She held it out to me.

“Smoke?”

I gave her a face which made her laugh, piercing the tranquil silence of the night. I looked around in sudden panic, glancing down the road at my own home, looking  for lights in the windows.

“Relax, Ern,” she said coolly, as she breathed out a cloud of smoke.

I calmed down and resumed my hole-boring mission while she smoked beside me. We were from such different worlds, I thought. She respected my choice to not smoke by not exhaling in my direction, but I could smell the nicotine fumes which drifted rebelliously beyond her control. It was a disgusting smell. At first. But as the minutes ticked past in silence, the fumes got to my head, and I began to feel a numbing calm.

How weak, I scolded myself. Getting numb on secondhand smoke. Seriously, Ern, get it together.

Just then, I heard sounds of gravel rubbing on gravel. I glanced up just in time to see a black box truck approach us, headlights turned off, despite the time of the night. I recognized this truck. It belonged to one of Lynn’s friends. It also signaled the end of our meeting, the end to this unlikely overlapping of two very different human beings from two very different worlds.

“Got to go, Ern.”

I waved my hand in farewell.

“Take care,” she said, blowing a kiss in my direction before entering the back seat and shutting the door behind her.

I watched the truck crunch gravel as it drove off until it melted into the inky darkness. Then I sat on the pavement for a bit longer, appreciating everything the midnight hour had to give, until there was no trace of nicotine fumes and until my butt hurt. Then I got up and trudged home, feeling like a vessel without a soul, as I returned to my own world.

Advertisements
Meeting below Streetlights at Midnight

Too Fast, Too Soon

It occurred to me this morning while sorting out my laundry that I my life has suddenly taken a drastic turn without myself knowing. My easygoing lifestyle has somehow transformed into a hectic one. I can’t find time to read any more, and reading is and always will be my favorite hobby. If I can’t find the time to read, don’t even mention about finding the time to blog. Time is just so crucial to me now.

Now, how laundry caused all this is because I was sorting out my freshly washed socks. Today, I took the extra measure to pair my socks up before putting them into their drawer. Usually, I don’t do this. I just toss them in. This makes it slightly harder to find a pair of matching socks in the morning, especially when you’re in a rush. Thus, on most days, the type of socks that I wear for the day is usually determined by the first matching pair that I manage to find. Sometimes, I don’t even match my socks at all.

Now, in retrospect, I realized that it was very lazy and unorganized of me. Why isn’t this a habit of mine? I love organized-ness. I guess the reason is because of my tendency to do everything with a sense of urgency. Pairing socks up may or may not be urgent, depending on your personality, but to me then, it was the lowest on my priority list.

When has my life became such a rush? I need a chill pill one of these days. Someone please pour a dozen down my throat.

I feel like I’m already suffering from all the negative aspects of a middle-aged-turning-white working individual. First, there’s the perpetual rush that I am always in. Secondly, there’s the forgetfulness.

I forget tons of things. I talk to my friends and then I decide that I can contribute to the conversation with something from my phone. So I unlock my phone. Then I forget exactly what I was looking for.

I can buy groceries from the supermarket then lay them in a corner, then when I feel like I’m craving for some food, I completely forget that they were there and then I make a mental note to myself to pickup more chips from the supermarket. Ironically, I remember to pick them up upon the next visit. But I wish I didn’t. Because now I have too much chips. (You can actually never have too much chips.)

Just ten minutes ago, I actually forgotten that I wanted to write this post and I was staring at the blank tab in my Google Chrome browser, questioning myself, what on earth was I about to do?

Where has my childhood gone? I don’t remember a single hour of it.The only thing I can remember is my presentation due on Monday (tomorrow) and the script that I have yet to memorize.

Speaking of my script, I better get to that now. Ciao!

Too Fast, Too Soon

#Writing101 I Am My Own Rock

Today’s Prompt: Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t any more.

Loss? I could write about my loss in several things. The loss of my innocence, when I learnt how cruel the world is. The loss of the love in my family, that’s juicy for sure. The loss of my grandfather and great-grandmother last year, which I am not feeling as much as I should. The loss in insignificant competitions, that would not be juicy or even interesting to talk about at all.

The world is indeed cruel, wouldn’t you agree? Do you still remember the hopes you had as a child? The hopes that were crushed the minute you gained epiphany on how evil the world’s inhabitants are, do you remember?

I was a shy boy (believe it or not) and I wonder if it has ever left me. But as a consequence, my interactions with others were next to none. I kept to myself and my books, and games, believing everything I read. I believed that people were kind and the bad ones were taught a lesson and do change for the better, from Enid Blyton’s books. The Disney fairytales always taught me that there will be a happy ending.

I don’t quite remember when I lost my innocence/ learnt the harsh ways of the world.. and I don’t remember either if it was immediate or a transition. But what I know is, I’m not an optimist like I used to be. I became pessimistic, constantly worried, paranoid, and stressed, and all these happened unconsciously. I hate the person I’ve become. I like being optimistic. It’s really gloomy to look at the world from the gray perspective. Whenever I comfort my friends that ‘everything will work out in the end’, I feel like a damn hypocrite because I know it’s a lie and life will swallow us up. When I expect my examination results, I am somehow hoping for the worst. I became pessimistic even towards myself; I doubt my own capabilities to score.

Something is terribly wrong with the world. I wouldn’t want my future children to lose their innocence the way I did. Heck, I want them to remain bright and sunny for all of eternity, unlike their father had been. Sometimes I wonder if it was my own parents who made me this way. They never seem to be happy of me. Never proud of my achievements, and always doubting me. Negativity is infectious, and soon I began to doubt myself, and I was on a scholarship back then, where I would be terminated if I did not get consistently stellar results, thus the doubt from both me and my parents culminated in a great deal of stress for me. My father once advised, “Never let yourself understand what stress is.” Ironic, isn’t it, that my father was partially responsible for teaching me what is about?

And that brings me to my family issues. I feel like I grew up in a typical Asian family. (Truth be told, I don’t believe in stereotypes, but for the sake of conveying my meaning in the least words, I used ‘typical’. You get what I mean, don’t you? See, it works!) All the telltale signs of a typical Asian family are there, the musical classes, the demand for ‘A’s, all with incessant nagging and excessively strict parental control thrown in with a bonus. The only missing factor was that they did not demand for me to be a doctor.

I hate this kind of parenting. There is no love. To them, a son is merely a product that has to be polished to become the very best. So polish they did, and there is no love required in the process. Somewhere along the way, my father lost his love towards my mother. He even hates her. Hates, present tense, mind you. He grew distant and my mother was the only one I kept in contact with. It is absolutely ridiculous to have a father figure available, yet being forced to grow up without one. For the last six years, that’s what it felt like. I traded no more than an hour’s worth of conversation with him in the past six years. He lives in the same house as I do. My family is dysfunctional, to say the least.

But things only got worse. Since my father became distant, my mother grew moody as well. She developed tantrums, which was compounded by her lack of patience and short fuse, and exacerbated the entire family dysfunctionality. (created a word there.) She began declaring that I am her burden and could not wait to get rid of me once I had a degree which is capable of landing me a job. I don’t know how truthful it is since she blurted it out only during her tantrums, but it hurt me nevertheless.

So, I have no father figure, and I have a mother who does not care for me. I have no siblings, and my other relatives are more distant than (I don’t know…. insert your own sarcastic simile here please). You can’t count on your friends, since they are not obliged to stick with you through thick and thin….. and that leaves me with no one. I am my own rock. I guess that was when I hardened and believed in the worst in people, the worst of myself and the worst in what the world has to offer.

(Does this count as depressing? I sure hope not. I couldn’t care less anyway)

#Writing101 I Am My Own Rock

#Writing101 The Death of Originality?/My Search for a Passion and My Purpose

Have you ever thought about the death of originality? This has been on my mind for a very long time. In my opinion, the death of originality is imminent, or, it is already here. Maybe it does not include all aspects of items, but surely originality is dead in a more than one area of life.

I think there is no more originality in names. These names can include names for our children, song names, etc. Search on the internet for your favorite song and don’t include the artist’s name. What do you think you will find? Or search the internet for one part of your name. There must be at least a few thousand other Fredericks out there.

This may or not be an influence by my father, but originality in car designs seem to be dead as well. I’m sure there’s a completely reasonable explanation for this, but there are a range of cars out there which looks exactly like one another, apart from minor differences in rearlights, tails etc. The general frame and body and size or shape of certain cars are almost similiar to others. I can’t name examples; I’m somehow unable to memorize cars.

Don’t you find this worrying? What if one day, you come up with something authentic… just to realize later that some bloke has already patented it? We have been designing new products for a good two thousand years. What if one fine day, the few million engineers, designers and artists finally run out of genuinely authentic and original things to create?

I wonder if the general contents of this post I’m typing runs along the lines of some famous theory that has already been publicized…?

(*checks stopwatch* what!? That took a mere ten minutes.. ten more to go)

Okay, let’s talk about another topic. Let’s talk passion and purpose.

Are you clear where your passion lies?

And do you have an inkling of what your purpose is?

I don’t. I am at the mature age of nineteen now (mature, you said? Is that doubt, I hear in your voice? Perhaps young would be a more suitable adjective? It’s a matter of perspective really.)

Anyway, a big question that all nineteen year olds have is: “What university course should I enter?” (I think I exaggerated too much in this post) Since my undergraduate course decides my future career path, I then wonder what job suits me. I wonder about that everyday, really. Perhaps I should make that decision based on my talents.

I have talents. Not much, just some, but talents nevertheless. I can skateboard, sing, dance, play musical instruments, and entertain people. At the same time, I have cuts and scrapes, listeners who cover their ears and contort their face in disgust, and people who tell me my jokes are horrible. I said I have talents, I never said they were sublime 🙂

If I were to list my single, best talent. I would say I am multi-talented. Contradictory? Pretty much. Let me explain. I am talented in learning things quickly. However, it comes and it goes. Whatever I learn, I never remain interested in it. Maybe it’s because I learn so quickly that I am too flexible for my own good and am constantly switching interests. In other words, my passion changes every two weeks.

(The stopwatch sounded. Okay let’s wrap this up.)

In my search for advice on what undergraduate course to pursue, my questions are often answered with another question.

I ask: “What course should I pursue?”

“Where your talents, passion, and the community’s need intersect, there lies your purpose. We already know what the community needs.. engineers, artists, doctors…. but what are your talents and passion?”

“My interest comes and goes. Which course allows me to switch jobs every two weeks?”

#Writing101 The Death of Originality?/My Search for a Passion and My Purpose

Why I Don’t Want Children

Today’s afternoon was a wet one. But it was the cold, soothing, stay-inside-and-nap-all-day kind of afternoon.The sound of the rain falling itself was enough to make the entire atmosphere peaceful and tranquil. It made me forget about time and made me just want to sit on the front step and stare at the rain together with my dad, and my dog.

Then my father said something that somewhat spoilt the mood. “I wish I can listen to this kind of rain all day.”

Of course, to anyone, this sounds completely innocent. But no one knew the suffering that my father goes through everyday. He has a condition called tinnitus, more commonly known as the “ringing of the ear” illness. He describes it as a high pitched screech that goes on and on and he’s the only one that can hear it. Kind of like a mosquito trapped behind your eardrum. He wishes to listen to rain all day because it can drown out the ringing.

He has other chronic conditions too. Consistent neck aches, scoliosis, numbness from the neck down, short-sightedness, poor memory, and so on. It pains me to see him wearing all the medication, ointment and various other things he uses. He says it comes naturally with old age, and there’s nothing I can do to prevent them. There’s no miracle food I can eat and no miracle life habit I can practice to prevent them from coming to me. It runs in the family, he says. My father had scoliosis, and so did his father, and probably the father before that too.

Surely with all the advanced technology and science, there must be some way around this? Like, extract the DNA that causes these ailments and vanquish them. Or produce a gene that counters aches and tinnitus. Someone could design nanorobots that help to promote blood circulation and prevent numbness. And let’s hope that these solutions do not cost me an arm, a leg and a kidney.

If they do, then I hope I live a short life so I’m spared from going through the suffering. Maybe I will commit the greatest sacrifice and save the rest of the Tan generation from suffering by choosing not to continue my lineage.

Yours faithfully, in support of birth control,

Frederick

Why I Don’t Want Children

The Truth of It All

You had so much hope,
You believed,
And when you asked,
They gave.

Your requests, your wishes,
Your wildest dreams,
Was a dream no more,
For you have them to thank.

But the miser within
everyone else sprouted,
bloomed, blossomed,
spread, developed, infected.

There is no such thing as kind people,
Only kind souls.

You had so much hope,
And still do, but
Now you rely on no one but yourself.

The Truth of It All