Thursday, August 21, 2014

Of Legacy & Living Your Dreams

Shown above is a design & drawing I did for a "book fair" for the Sunday Flea Market at The Substation circa 1992 - which I never did submit to the organizers, always being chickensh*t for not wanting folks to be in a spot for having to reject my designs hahahaha

I guess I had always has been like this since youth, facing constant rejection in it's myriad forms … I was just not strong enough to persevere … through the years I've since grown a thicker skin (which is essential for getting your works "out there"), while at the same time knowing quite clearly how my "skill level" is/are, compared to my contemporaries (which is just as essential, in case your head implodes due to self-arrogance lol) … and after a good many years of achieving being able to execute my creations and designs, I now "evolve" to being my own "client", producing and creating my own projects, under my own terms and ability. Be it via editorializing my blog, or creating a fanzine, or collaborations with other artists, I have finally found a "groove" where I can indulge in LOL

Some would argue this is naive and not practical for survival, and I would be the first to agree! But at the same time, the boiling anguish for the need to create something of my own, outweighs everything else, even the practicality of earning a decent living - something I need to address very soon, as I cannot afford to indulge in my dreams for long - and I am blessed to be able to do so, so far, in however little ways I can. I do not need to change the world to prove my worth, I just need to change MY world.

The notion of "legacy" has been weighing on my mind for quite sometime now, since my late Father's passing nearly a year ago, where he had asked me to do a book about his life, which I felt was to be a legacy to be left behind for folks who cared.

I am an average person with average intellect and not a particularly stellar body of work, and might not necessarily have a C.V. worth shouting to the skies about, BUT what I hoped my legacy will be - however "selfish" it may seem - is/was that I was able to "live out my dreams", however limiting they are/were, even if they were in my own mind and world LOL

Friday, March 28, 2014

I Love Steampunk

...beyond the facade of copper, rivets, and gears … draped beyond eye-goggles, curly facial hair and Victorian England period suits … gaining life and momentum via steam and springs … this is #steampunk as the world sees it, and I love it.

An aesthetic I adore but am unable to replicate … but thank goodness there are folks who can, and I'll just open my eyes. mind and clockwork-heart, and embrace it clickety-click :)


Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Like Flea Markets

I've been thinking about "flea markets" quite a bit these few weeks, sprung from a need for survival via the solution of selling off my toys and trinkets amassed throughout the years, or simply giving up (full time) blogging to go find a job that would pay me what I need to survive and thrive on. Money doesn't "grown on trees" and seems blogging about it is very close (or perhaps I am adamant to acknowledge it already has) to become a virtual fertilizer for a virtual "money tree".

Be that as it may, I've always enjoyed helming flea market stalls, as well visiting them (one of my kryptonites in "life"), as opposed to having a "permanent" brick-n-mortar shop, to operate 24/7- for which I have zero temperament for, admittedly. I am not a people-person, and neither am I a good salesman (much less a "businessman"), so something with the temporary "hit" of hawking stuff, is a downright appealing notion to me. Once a week. Once a month. A decent trade-off for temperament over liquid-cash.

I mentioned "liquid cash" now, because I might not be in it for the "profits" - don't get me wrong, a profit makes the world happy, but at some point, "instant cash" makes me happier, and I do not necessarily have the patience to wait out a "profit" … told you I was a bad businessman hahahahahaha fullfookinstop.

But the flea markets these days have become such a rampant notion, that it is either a "hip" up-market happenings at discotheques or quaint locales for the younger set, or the heartland gatherings in open air public space next to the neighborhood supermarket, barber or bakery - all of which is a by-default way to clear older stock and personal stuff, to earn money hahaha. There's even a listing for them.

Singaporeans have embraced this concept the past few years, when literally over decade or two ago, it was still seen as something as "foreign" and/or "bohemian" a concept … "Why BUY something OLD and USED, when you can buy something brand NEW?"

Spent Saturday evening helping mum set up her first flea market stall (Sis stayed with her to man the stall instead) at the local heartland enclave, and as expected, it was (mostly) literally a hodgepodge of 2nd-hand wares being hawked, compared to many other flea markets that are places to sell modern and new goods, without the expense of permanent long-time space rental attributing to a brick-n-mortar with electricity and rental bills. And there's nothing wrong or demeaning in that, I think, as that's what constitutes a "flea market" in the first place, isn't it?

Through the years, it has evolved into the Singaporean subconsciousness, and in entertainment strapped Singapore, "things-to-do" gets eventual attention, regardless "good" or "bad".

(Table at The Substation)

Memories of my flea market jaunts include my first tenure at The Substation, Sunday Market, early 1990's. Where, for $5 rental per day. we would set up our own foldable table, a beach umbrella, and two stools - all of which were provide for by the location (now housing theoutdoors of "Timbre"), all inclusive of the $5!

Back then it was a literal "bohemian" concept, with impromptu fashion shows with the entire market grounds as the catwalk, or where an aspirating poet would self-publish and sell her own book of poetry, AND have her own poetry readings on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Other stalls had handmade jewelry, knick knacks and collectibles, while mine was predominantly comicbooks and trading cards, while my friend Kelvin and Jon had their own stalls selling toys. Business was not great but the atmosphere was fun and refreshing (well, my ex(s) might not have agreed on this … ;p) and something "different" from the hustle and bustle of everyday Singapore!

I will always remember that one time when my sales for a Sunday yielded $2.50 (Can't remember what I sold tho), or that the highest ever was over $400, but only because I had advertised in a weekend newspaper classifieds for a comicbook sale!

(Table at Clarke Quay indoors)

Other flea markets had came and gone. Spent a formative few years at the Clarke Quay Flea Market in mid-late 90s (before everything was taken over and changed into the posh nightlife spot it is now known for) and even the outdoor corridors of Tanglin Mall (quite forgettable, really) post-New Millennium, to even the current Sunday Market at China Square Central (most folks there were from the CQ flea market itself), now predominantly known as THE spot to visit for TOYS.

Thinking back, most the time it had been a "leisurely" pursuit, a (somewhat "addictive") hobby to experience, and perhaps even the chance to earn some cash, to buy toys, comics and trading cards too (think "self-sustaining" hobby ;p), but circumstances had changed.

(Video walk-thru of CSC circa 2006 - not much has changed hahaha)

Since having my Stroke in 2010, my physicality has changed. My physical strength is no longer as robust - of course being "older" does no favors hahaa - and the notion of helming a flea market, is now more of a "challenge" than "adventure".

It is not about just sitting at your table making small talk and making sales, it is also about preparing and setting up your stall. It is about the transport of all the wonderful things people pawned haggle the price over, to and fro the venue. It is about hopefully not manning the table alone so that you could visit have a bathroom break (and a cigarette, back in the day anyways ;p). It is also the resistance of not spending your profits of the day at another booth (something which marked my days at CQ hahahaha).

(Table at CSC circa March 2010)

I think of CSC quite often, but the reality of transporting items quells that thought unfortunately. But the local flea market? It is accessible by trolley and a walk (good exercise for me, no doubt hahahaha), although I would not expect to be selling the toys I blog about, but then again, what avenues are open to me? An online shop is currently in the works, but in these lean days, "survival" takes priority, and "liquid cash"; is King. And I need to be it's humble servant.

But beyond the "real world" needs, I admittedly miss having flea market stall(s). I miss prepping things to sell, I missing making a sale. I miss meeting fellow toy-lovers in the flesh and face, and talking about toys … I don't miss the transporting of the stuff tho hahahaha


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Things I Did In Life Before Blogging: Directed TV Magazine Shows

I was a "Creative Director" (a term not many people associate with a production company, in the first place) for a local production house for a good 6+ years, after my job at the local TV broadcaster. During my tenure, I was also given the opportunity to direct television shows (primary "magazine" styled shows and short-form documentaries, and somehow even "produce" some of them (in inverted comas, because I am not disillusioned to snatch that title from folks who work hard for said title lol).

On top of that, I was still actively engaged in Art Directing and Production Design for film and television :)

"Directing" for tv magazine shows meant "camera-directing" for the bulk of my projects with the company, and subsequent freelance gigs saw me taking on an entire show, and most times not exceptionally swell at it, so I surmise (folks never did come back for seconds lol).

Hey, I've had my fair-share of numerous moments when I strapped a mini-monitor to my body, while standing alongside the cameraman handheld, with talents moving, okay? not every monitor's comfortably sitting on a table top under a giant umbrella, you know? MUAHAHAHAHAH

I reckon I am an extremely "visual guy", but when it comes to trying to convince people to go my way, to do what i ask them of, sometimes becomes an ego-battle. Most peeps need to be subdued or mollycoddled to do things asked of them, unfortunately - experienced or otherwise. I've done my fair share of battles and wars, and frankly the projects would have been better served if that need not have happened constantly lol ... No small wonder things do not advance more and faster than they should in the industry.

But you know what? I have been out for a pretty long time already, so I sure as heck won't know what sort of tomfoolery happens now, yeh? (But of course I do, I may have left the industry, but the industry has not left me ;p).

But my biggest 'fun" in the scheme of things, was not telling people to do things, but in co-creating television shows, such as music programs and arts programs. Essentially editorializing program content - pretty much what i do with my blog these days, or rather I do attempt to editorialize my posts, not willy-nilly posting stuff hahahaha

I remember the love/hate I had for music-related shows (at one point we helmed 4 shows per week), and the opportunity to "create" content, had with it a swell sense of "fulfilment" (regardless the result, as everything was under the approval of the client anyways lol). One memorable project was a weekly one-hour television show about the "Arts", for three seasons (so don't try to pull the wool over my eyes when it comes to the "arts" LOL *nudge-nudge*) - where we got under the skin of arts and the scene in Singapore, and even some choice overseas talents - I remember even shooting a Sam Flores segment waybackwhen lol

Shown throughout this post are extra-footage of small segments from one of the opening title of a weekly program about "The Arts", for which I cobbled together. The thing is, I left the industry without a single moving footage of my work in the past, and back in "my days", YouTube was a non-existing notion (or rather too 'young', not to mention "copyright" issues) and an entire generation of works were not made for such happenstance. A pity tho, as I am proud of my works, even if it's just me myself that feel that way hahaha :)

If there is one thing I gleamed from my experience in the past, that may well be relevant to whatever current or future projects or work I intend to be in: "the need for archival". In many ways, whatI do for "blogging" now, is in turn an attempt to archive the scene and times, even if my involvement in it is but a minimal brush against the community of the times.

Keep records of all your work with you, be it for a self-portfolio or works, or even an opportunity to reuse it subsequently for print or documentarian purposes - remember to keep all of your work, in high-res, with multiple back-up.

I might go on about my past, but if I do not have visuals to go with my words, they are just "stories" told around an outdoor campfire, when everyone else is sitting in on an indoor central apartment heating system ;p

Andy :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Happy Birthday, Fellow Humans!

Today (Feb 6.2014) marks the 7th Day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which legend say is the day when all of mankind was born.

Apparently the day will be celebrated with a total of seven dishes to be had at dinner time, and everyone will come home for feasting - sorta like a "Post-CNY-Eve Reunion Dinner" - now a CNY Reunion Dinner? Not wholly sure about THAT, but it's a "tradition" I have come to embrace and have a part of my life now haha

Nevertheless, regardless of myth or fact for the day, Happy Birthday, Everyone!

Cheers :)

P/S: Apologies if my handwritten Chinese is not up to par hahaha

"Life" is what you hope it would be, Not a given you are meant to enjoy.

My blog and I were featured in the July 2010 issue of I.S. publication. I would be lying thru my teeth if I said I was not proud of that ~ *beams*

2010 was actually quite a good year, including being invited overseas for events too! All the years' effort of blogging had come to a head ... then "Stroke" happened ... These days I can no longer view or accept "success" in any form - as I had "pre-Stroke" - least I am denied it's fruits again. It may read/sound too "fatalistic" or even negative, but in that sense, it is what grounds me these days.

I used to have a distinct definition of what "success" was, and entailed, but now my views and expectations have been altered, and I (try to) accept things at face value. Whatever "original intents" or hidden agendas, remain for whomever to keep in their own pockets and store in their brains, while I have my own life to lead, and consequences to survive from.

"Life" is what you hope it would be, Not a given you are meant to enjoy. = is a mantra I keep close to my heart, now.

Cheers :)

P/S: Shout out to Anastasia Tan @zelciia for keeping the trades for me!

Things I Did In Life Before Blogging: Production Designed and Art Directed Feature Films

In my decade-or-so tenure in the local media industry, I had helmed six feature films - starting as an Art Director, and moving on up to the title of "Production Designer" as quickly. Funnily, in the Singaporean context, some folks in the industry think an A.D. held a position higher than a P.D. ("Director" sounds more lush than a "Designer" hahahaha).

So confusing were folks about the credit, I had also been introduced to students as a "Design Director" - a role that does not exist hahahaha or perhaps a literal mashup between a PD and an AD? ahahahahaha

My Interior Design background helped me assess functional space management, while whatever TV-designing I had experienced helped in navigating the visual language of films, but least folks take for granted, the language of film is wholly different as well, and I meant the traditional feature-film-film, not digital cameras of these days. When "Check Gate" meant another step to the end of the shot, and not "Cut" as digital recordings get switched off LOL

It is always an extremely welcomed challenge to receive an empty-space that needed to be made into a functional living and working space, and the way where depth and history is achieved, is more work than anyone ever realizes as they watch the big screen - but perhaps I am over romanticizing the roles and scopes of what needs to be done. I had since stopped these battles for a long time now.

There is a vast difference between aesthetics-based design and art direction, versus one meant for communicative or emotive intentions, and as well instant-gratification, and a long-lasting impression … but perhaps different strokes for different job applications, I guess, as people choose to blur the lines unknowingly and lay claim to whatever exists in the vacuum.

But hey, this is just my personal opinion, and I neither count myself as a 'genius' to quantify my claims, but neither am I a 'naive idiot' for languishing in false fame lol

Truth be told, doing a feature film soon became an 'addiction', where having the ability to do as many as possibly can, somewhat overshadowed a need to do "quality ones" - which saw me meeting more people than I should, and not being able to spend as much time crafting the film (as I would like/loved to), also because the filmmaking culture here is very inclusive of the above-the-line positions, versus the abilities of folks below being able to do their job - they are EXPECTED to, but not necessarily given the information in time, or nurtured to develop, IMHO.

I remember when the resurgence of local films popped up unto the horizon years back - I was helming 2 of the 4 movies being used as examples of the 'trend'. Hell yeh I was proud of myself! But with that inevitably came arrogance and perhaps a single-minded stubbornness to have things done my way (I darn not say I am a 'perfectionist', but perhaps I seldom give in to "substandard realities" lol). I reckon I lost a lot of "friends" while making films too...

I also remember looking at my IMDb-listings and smiling to myself for the effort. Look, folks don't get spectacularly paid for their work here in Singapore, so the value of being credited somehow becomes heightened, to make up for that fact. And even now, "credit" is extremely important to me (be it blogging or otherwise) and as well i try to sit thru the credit rolls for movies I watch - because that is the least I could do, for the folks who work on these films - especially local films tho LOL

I do miss the job sometimes, but frankly with the way I pushed myself and my life (and unfortunately my various crew who worked with me), I burnt myself out pretty quick.

These days I cannot watch a film or production, without having to think; "How did they get that set going?" or "How did they get that prop to work?" … I used to say; "Once Art Department, Always Art Department" - and that is no lie. "Career Sickness" (Zi2 Ye4 Ping4) as we call it. Yes, it is true. hah.

What I remember most about the 'work', was spending an extraordinarily amount of time trying to "convince" folks of the vision I was trying to achieve. And the amount of time solving logistical problems, by far outweighed my time in trying to squeeze the creative juices. Ironically in a field of moving visual medium, getting a whole lot of folks to "imagine" along with you and your schemes, is actually a daunting affair!

So I had to learn fast, to communicate 'visually', versus my abrasive language communications skills (I was a loud grump lol - don't think any of my team/s liked me much ;p). If I cant tell you what it looks like, I have to SHOW you what it looks like LOL

Shown here are various conceptual drawings of different films, which lead to the actual staged set for filming - things that most people do not get to see. Folks need to know it is not just about "filling up space", but also the management of colors and sensory effect, and that it is not just about "pretty props" on show, but the "story" they might tell of both themselves and their owners ... but I guess that is a point lost on most.

I could go on forever, but I tell myself not to these days. This is a side of my passion I keep at bay most times, as I do not want to regress into perpetuating negativity (I already battle the demon on other fronts, so I do not need more from my beleaguered past hahahaha). The irony being, I actually taught "filmmaking" subsequently! LOL

Andy :)

Thursday, January 30, 2014

13 Things Which Made My 2013

One of the main highlights for 2013, was being invited and flown to Jakarta for "Star Wars Day Jakarta". Absolutely invigorated and uber-excited, I had a spectacular time geeking-out at Star Wars, enjoyed meeting friends, fellow hobbyist and artists! Mondo-thanks to Yudi and Aldo for the opportunity!

One spectacular highlight of the trip, was returning to the hotel on the last night of the event, and meeting a small flood (post heavy rain) at the cross-junction just in front of the hotel. With a Darth Vader plush cushion (from Castella Natalia) clutched right under my arm, underneath my shirt, a side-slingbag filled to the brim with tees and goodies, I took off my socks and shoes, and waded thru the waters desperately, with only oncoming car headlights to light my way.

For a guy who reacts adversely at night time, stumbling around due to lack of balance from my Stroke, and tired to the point of exhaustion - making the few footsteps meant a whole lot to me! But I survived the walk, an survived the trip, so here's to me patting my own back LOL

Discovered the anime "Attack On Titan" was quite a turning point in my viewing habits online, which actually started with "Tiger & Bunny" the year before. Soon, it became my habitual Sunday morning guilty-pleasure, leading up to the very last episode, and subsequently withdrawal soon afters.

Being distracted by the toys really help sate the anguish somehow tho … and that is an outright "understatement"! LOL

I involved myself more in Sketchery, particularly taking part on both Botober and Inktober, with a keen desire to complete a monthful of daily sketches! And I had decided both sketchery were to be different from each other, and done specifically for each task haha

But alas "life" got in the way, and I could not finish up whatI started, and I very seldom, if ever, not stop what I start. There's still 2014 to look forward to :)

Being nominated for Designer Toy Awards for "Best Blog" was an honor, truth be told … Constantly wondering if what I do online is still relevant these days, has left me in quite a flux this past couple of years. And while I know and agree that "validation" do come in all forms, but this particular year, it held a certain "significance" to it …

Unfortunately, I did not bring home the award, not least I wanted a win for win's sake, or to validate my efforts, but at the very least, it might have made my late-Father "proud", if I could have shared the win with him, before he passed on … but I now tis an expectation all of my own to have had, and life goes on, doesn't it?

Having had the honor of being printed in a trading card series (The Art Hustle Series 2), I relived the "joy" when my blog was nominated in the DTAs in 2013, and nominees were printed into trading cards, and when I say "my bucketlist" being "clicked", I meant it! Now I just need to find MORE of these cards LOL

#5. STGCC 2014
STGCC 2013 was a bittersweet sliver in the year 2013, leaving quite a scar in my mindscape I hope to one day erase. Having the chance to meet loads of friends - both new and old - was fabulous tho! Managed to shop like a maniac (*revenge-ubying*), bought an original art/illustration, ad generally moving thru the event like a drunken zombie in limbo, all the while worrying about dad being in the hospital ... and here I was the basturd-son "enjoying" myself at the Con, innit?

Pending family health concerns led me to turning down a chance to helm a TOYSREVIL-booth earlier that year, and having dad admitted to the hospital o the very first day of the 2-day weekend event, compounded my fears. Turning down all interview opportunities at the event itself, was something I had never done before in my blogging career, and is something I do not ever want to go thru again.

The tale is long and winding. And all I an say to friends are: "I am sorry I could not be there to support you."

And to friends who were sympathetic and in turn supported me and had my back, you have my humble and sincere "THANK YOU."

I started 2013 with one aim in mind: "To purchase more custom toys from my fav artists". But somehow along the way, I derailed in my plans, and veered uncontrollably, a slipper-slope I embarked upon, especially with a diminished bank-balance, and looming medical requirements (my own, and for Dad).

I received an amazing selection of toys gifted from a variety of folks - mostly pending reviews on my humble blog hahaha - I do not take these gifts for granted, nor lightly. Thank you all for your patience!

Ended 2013 with re-discovering LEGO, and subsequently fell down the "blackhole of bootlegs" … adventures to be chronicled on my TOYSREVIL-blog, of course!

This is "toy"-related (see #6) but I felt it deserved a singular mention by itself … I begun to kitbash 1/6th again, something I've not been actively doing since before my Stroke, in 2010. I am a fanatical kitbasher, having amassed a huge collection of loose bits and piece thru the decade of collecting, I would admit I was, and still am, a "hoarder".

What I have not mentioned anywhere before, was that a week (or two) prior to me falling victim to Stroke in 2010, I was actually sleeping on a (thin) mattress laid out in the living room, as my bed was filled up, with 1/6th-scaled kitbash bits in boxes, in the midst of me repacking the bedroom!

Since initiating the UPMC2014 project, I had venture back into the bedroom-since used as a temporary storeroom, to excavate multiple boxes filled with loose 1/6 bits, and I feel invigorated yet again!

In a bid to leave the country - even for a couple of short days - after my Father's passing, the Heng Family headed to Batam for a weekend! All I can say is, I let loose and became a "tourist", and walked till I turn dizzy, is all I can say LOL

Hope to be able to afford more trips like this in 2014 and in the future. With the current state of my personal health, there is also so much I can tolerate physically as well, unfortunately.

In the past, the only other times I had "set up" a Christmas Tree, was for ex-girlfriend(s). Ironically, I do not necessarily "celebrate" Xmas but for the food and television programming. But this year, I had wanted to do something "cheerful" for my late Dad, and family, and did up a little table top tree with gashapon dangles.

The attempt was fraught with sweat, aches and tears, and one of my regrets in life, was not to do happy things like these when my Dad was still alive.

It does not matter if I celebrated the event or not, but for the joy and smiles it might bring, instead.

This is tied-in with cooking for my Mum, for christmas! Haven't cooked for anyone in years too LOL

A year fraught with medical maladies, from having dodgy feet/legs, to newly and recently diagnosed neck+shoulder problems ("cervical spondylosis"), to an outbreak of hives (during my dad's hospitalization & hospice), to my standard medical intake post-Stroke. Restarted rehab. Restarted acupuncture. I survived 2013 being not as physically healthy as the year before, frankly. Being unhealthy is no fun, and stops me from actively traveling and meeting folks and friends. #suckstobesick

Since my last Diabetes appointment (in Jan 2014), my weight has gone up, my blood sugar level as improved (still can be, and need to be better). Will aim to be a healthier "me" in 2014 :)

#11. ZOO ZOO
You know that saying folks have about the zoo? "Once you visit it is enough, and you can wait decades later to visit again"?

My sister Cindy's suggestion to go to the zoo, was a brilliant one! By then, dad was on a wheelchair, and had trouble actively traveling with his walking cane. We went to see the pandas, because, well, seeing pandas are fun and happy! This was one family outing that had not centered on "food", and we have loads of pictures o remember the day by!

In the course of dad's "final" hospitalization, I was scrambling to have a book made, based on images of Dad's past, a Chronicle of His Life, as it were. Remembering when Dad was "healthier", he had spoke to me about doing such a photo-book, which I thought was a swell way to have a legacy of him "left behind".

And all I could do (when he was alive), was to dig up photos, and compile them in a singular photo-album, that ws kept at dad's hospital bedside and subsequently at the hospice, where it was shown to whomever had visited him, to share with them his "life" before.

In this day of digital images, there is a huge "gap" in life, where physical photos are not available, but for digital printing, so this was a stressful time for me, but ultimately enriching.

Since dad's passing, I will continue to have the book published, for the anniversary of his death in October 2014, given only to close friends and family.

"We've got dad's hat next to the panda plush that accompanied him every night of his hospitalization, flanked on both sides by his sculpture am an album of images of him when he was a dandy young man, dating pics o him and mum, and with his children, growing up with him, plus images of his sculptures done during the last 5+years of his life. My rock. My mentor. My friend. My papa. My father, Heng Chiang Kheng. #ckheng"
I've always been the "wayward son", not least being caught up in the darkside of reality, but for being less at home most of the time, in my adult working life. And while I had been physically AT home, I reckon my mind was not.

I lived through my adult life by treating home as a "hotel", while spending whatever free time with girlfriend(s).

Things turned a head, some 7-8 years ago, when after returning home from an overnight party at a friend's house, I found out dad had a "heart attack" and was warded.

He survived the incident and remained retired and at home since. Then over a year ago, we found out he had prostrate cancer, and I had since accompanied him for every chemotherapy and radiology session. A year or two before, I had myself fallen to Stroke, and it was Dad who had accompanied me then, from going to weekly rehab, to acupuncture visits.

Throughout the past three years, I had lived every single day with my Dad. I no longer spend time with girlfriends (being "single" for nearly 7 years did help in that regard LOL), and even if I was online blogging, dad was 5 meters way, watching television (and sobbing at China drams ;p), or playing his cards, "Solitaire" was his game. I wake up every single morning, seeing dad watching tv or playing cards, for the past few years, n exception LOL

We had long chats. We discussed everything from family, to my career and health. We went to art shows and I introduced him to visiting friends, and for a short moment in our lives, I led Dad partake of my life.

He is as important to me as any might expect, and more. We miss him dearly, and will continue to do so. This will be our first Chinese New Year without Dad. If we stuck to the Chinese tradition of "100 Days of Mourning", we begin celebrations on the fourth day of CNY.

Waking up these days, and finding the living room empty, had been a extremely hard 2013 to close, and I am exhausted from crying. Mum has since started her retirement on the first day of January 2014. so some days I wake up to the tv being turned on in the morning. so that's an interesting evolution of my "life".

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Hengful Xmas 2013

Running on an excruciatingly tight budget, this was my "gifting plan" for Christmas for my Mum, brother Benny and sister Cindy :)

Placed at the base of the mini Xmas Tree (blogged) were three wrapped and tagged prezzies. Each unwrapped to reveal a (near empty) gasaphon capsule.

In each capsule was a note to "CHOOSE YOUR OWN HELLO KITTY…", by which it meant each person was to pick one of three Hello Kitties hanging from the mini Xmas Tree.

The Hello Kitties are meant to symbolize owning a part of the xmas tree made dedicated to our late Dad, and keeping the memory of the time, even when the tree is kept / will be kept (in storage) for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cluttered Dreams, Collapsed Life.

A heckload of my dreams will see me wading thru insurmountable clutter, decaying rooms, forestry, and general decrepit locations, and often at prolonged sequences. Inevitably in search of "whatever" it may be, lies the path I travel in my dreamscape, not necessarily knowing - instinctively or otherwise - what it is/was exactly that I was/am looking for.


Vividly clear, bathed in dim darkness, in bright sunshine, amidst a purring typhoon, I have transversed a myriad of environments which dwelled outside whatever window of the house I was in in dreamtime. Only thing I've not dreamt of, is "snow".

No doubt the disarray pertains to my current life - or what i think my life is right now - post-Stroke, when my world collapsed around me, and the atmosphere around, is based on what I have experienced in the past. Only time I experienced "ice" (and not "snowfall", never snowfall) was in somewhere in Germany, over a decade ago, in one of those travels which I preferred not to remember.

Fascinating how dreams parallel "life".

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Goodbye 2013

2013 was a Year of "Loss".

Loosing my dreams. Loosing "friends" along the way. And of the loss of my Father.

And while I had dreams and plans aplenty for 2013, the timing for each and every one of them hinged on my financial ability and means, and of personal circumstance. Plans were considered, and laid to rest before they even begun to grow and blossom. Dreams were put aside, to take care of family, and for myself.

No point sharing what my dreams were, here and now, and perhaps once they come to fruition, I will share them again in "public" haha

"Friendship" is a tricky thing. Loyalty is balanced by fleetingness. "Longevity" has become an abstract term, and sometimes even "excuse". Admittedly, "Friends" and the continuation of friendship, needs attention, and sadly, I haven't been able to provide much attention to folks this year.

I never could smile when I did not feel it. I wear my heart on my face, so most times I choose not to show my face, because I simply could not "fake a smile".

I've never been good at massaging egos (and neither have I been comfortable receiving, for myself), and perhaps that's why I've never had that many a "friends" haha. And because I am a little narrow-minded Chinese man, the loss of friends, is obvious to me, like a glaring grouping of glow-in-the-dark figures in the hollowed darkness hahahaha.

Would "2014 be the year when I claim back lost friendship?", I asked myself ... and realized it is not something that needed to be "claimed" in the first place.

The people who decided to stay and support me, needs my attention first and foremost, and I am willing to give it to them personally, and happily. These are the folks I am proud to claim as "FRIENDS"! You know who you are, I know who you are :)

Dad left us on October 24th, after over a month of hospital stay and hospice care. After over a year of finding out about his cancer, and going thru chemotherapy, and subsequently radiology with him.

Since coming home from hospital for Stroke at the end of 2010 (ironically I left a 2-month stay in the hospital on Christmas Eve December 24th, 2010), I have had the opportunity of seeing him everyday, starting when I wake up in the morning, and stepping out of my bedroom, and addressing him "Pa" ... "爸". Every. Single. Day.

Dad had retired for quite some time by then, and spent most of his time at home, or out having kopi with his kakis, while I had been a wayward son spending most of his time at work (even if it meant behind a closed door to my bedroom when I blogged), and with (ex) girlfriend(s). Since Stroke, I had been able to see him every waking day since, and I treasure that moreso than anyone ever realizes, or care to know.

Since he left us, I wake up everyday now to an empty house, no longer seeing my dad play poker cards (his favorite game was "Solitare"), watching Chinese channel television, or having his own self-made milo oats-porridge for breakfast.

Friends ask; "How are you coping?", and I say "doing well, surviving…", and that is as much of a half-truth that people might want to know about, as concerned as they have been, frankly thinking ... but crying nearly every morning missing my Father, has left me tired for the rest of the day, and unable to complete the tasks I set up for myself, much less be able to head on out the front door of the house, and meet people, or even maintain a decent semblance of a conversation. But I do so because I want to, and not because I "have to" … so it is balancing on the razor's edge of lament I live the rest of my days in 2013.

Thinking back on Stroke; while I was incapacitated, lying in bed with half my body unmovable, I was more "angry" than "sad", and pushed through my recovering and rehabilitation, via my own efforts, breaking thru limitations set in my own mind. For Dad, I felt nothing but helplessness, to lessen his plight and condition, and could only endeavor to provide him limited company and comfort.

The last thing/word he ever said to me, in hospital before his stay and last exhale of breath in Assisi Hospice, was a whispered "sorry" … "对不起" … and it breaks my heart every time remembering it, and it will continue to be this way, for a long time coming …

Whatever "dreams" I might have had before, and whatever "friends" which I felt have left my side, pales in comparison to the anguish I have now, holding court in my heart, "sadness" replacing "lament", and I am left an emotional wreck, crawling thru the days, standing up tall when I face the world, teary-eyed sap behind the facade of the web browser.

But that is "life" now. I do not lament such.

I am learning to divert my journeys to my dreams, I am learning to evolve my dreams, to be able to achieve fruition at the end of the work day. I am learning to let go of my disappointments, I am learning to let go of people who have since loosened and dropped the grip of my weary hands. I am learning extremely hard to let go of anger.

I am learning to balance my personal emotions, with facing the world, with facing family, interacting with friends, keeping friends who want to be kept.

I am reliving my dreams, and will continue making new ones.

I do not wish anything for 2014, except for happiness and health for family, and friends, and a peace of mind and heart, for myself.


P/S: Dad was actually born on March 24th. The number "24" holds such a love-hate connotation for me now ;p