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