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April 9th, 2008

06:27 pm - Exploring New York
First a bus topples, and I see nothing
but a daily in Chinese. Strange to imagine
how long the train ride from Brooklyn to Queens
is. It must be the length of an entire country,
and entire country where the adopted language
is English, and many of its citizens do not speak
it at all. So this story, in the free Chinese daily.
Strange to imagine that this is the America
this is not the America I imagined as a child
when I was five, watching my parents watching TV
watching Exorcist, One Million Dollars Chance of a Lifetime,
Hunter. I took a look at photographs of
a place spoken of as if it were
the bottom of the Earth (Brooklyn). There are quiet streets
and the place is filled with placid, silent,
and unmolested vehicles, with four wheels in their place.

Imagining New York City:
I make a connection with the two Malaysians I know
in Manhattan. I devise a boundary between Carrie Bradshaw
and Sesame Street. I noted that Oi Yen, for all her traipsing
in a place where Zedeck and Jerng and I often dream of
speaks, or at least thinks, in many occasions
better bilingualism than I do. I devise a boundary
between Tribblewing, Corneredangel, and the World Trade Center
(did I mistype that as the Word Trade Center?)
there was a Malaysian girl -- Aliki, I think -- who watched it
when it collapsed: shortly after Bush was blared to our screens
worlds watched, and my world was sitting
in a mamak stall, sipping iced Milo
but I am slowly making the pieces come together now,
and imagine New York as not New York,
not even imagined America;

a country of brick and mortar
trains and graffiti. I imagine and leave this unchecked:
the boundaries. Long Island Rhode Island and the
Statue of Liberty are places
and names full of significance and
of no geographical bearing.

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April 6th, 2008

01:27 am
Had a great session at a workshop on creating a performance persona organized by George Wielgus. I was absolutely certain that I would be clicked out in the upcoming poetry slam. Now, I think I've got a fighting chance.

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April 5th, 2008

02:00 pm
To write later: on Farish Noor, Kit Siang. Linguistics, the sadness of having to resort to using CAPS to GET your ATTENTION, and Miss Fynn and about not being able to appreciate and express myself in the Malay language as beautifully as she does.

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01:10 pm - Muse
Someone at a poetry event -- I can't recall who it was -- once asked me what my muse was. I asked her to clarify what she meant, and she said that some people can only have the energy to write after they've undergone some pain.

I think 'muse' is a very crude word, but if there is an answer to that question, I find that I am most energized after being exposed to other good works of art. The aesthetic sense is associated with pleasure that isn't quite the same as anything else that can be experienced, even if it is pleasurable. It feels different, somehow.

And perhaps that sense of aesthete isn't always associated with creation (I use creation here as a simplification of Coleridge's basic theory). It's also associated with a certain degree of destruction, such as --


-- the time when I opened this draft of a poem that I am about to present at the performance poetry thing and then decided to toss it into the garbage bin.

It's not that it was bad. It's just that (oh look at my ego/artist's temperament again!) it just didn't feel right. Wasn't me.

I'm probably going to get clicked off (or stomped off?) the stage at The Loft, but ah well.

Note to self:
Refer A Scanner Darkly (which I haven't watched), Tsai Ming Liang, Miss Fynn. All gacked from the sickening word, the blogosphere. This is what I am doing when I ought to be focusing on Wong Phui Nam.

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April 4th, 2008

11:55 pm
Dear world, do you know what I am feeling right now?

I feel as if I have lost something important inside me, something that is difficult to be returned.

And that was Livejournal. It's so, so, so hard to undo a habit -- a way of life -- of more than five years. So, so hard. I really feel as if I'm cutting up a little bit of myself. Shifting from Livejournal means shifting from your set and steady audience. Even my writing quality changes. Who am I writing for now? Who am I writing to? What am I to write now? How can I write and still be true to myself, while still fulfilling that important part of writing that writers themselves do not wish to acknowledge, and that is no act of writing can be fulfilling until it finds a willing audience? I've only just received praise for my outlook into Singapore only recently; could I still be capable of producing something like that outside of Livejournal? Look at this journal! Look at my scribbles on Scribbld! I can't seem to come up with anything as brilliant (or so my readers claim). For several days before this I had felt as happy as the smiling Sugino on the Smile!Smile!Smile!Tactics! image I posted recently, but when I shifted home, suddenly, something struck me.

I felt lonely.

That, I expected. I just didn't think that loneliness impacted one's writing so much.

But thing is, I'm tired of getting screwed over by LJ over and over again, even if it isn't much. It's the small irritations. They build up. I'm tired of hearing of one next policy or another that I find wrong every few months or so. I've moved and I've come back, and then I moved and then I come back, and when I come back I find some reason to move again. I can't say that any attempt to move is permanent, but.

When I pulled up the Update page on Livejournal? I typed a little, and then stopped, because I didn't feel like going on typing. I have no idea if this is due to discontent with LJ or because I very consciously care to present good writing before a readership (and I don't have one here -- yet. I don't really want one as of yet), but I stopped, and I closed the window.

Here am I, typing, a girl on a soapbox all alone. I'll have to get used to this feeling.

Not as bad. Not as tough as people like Mistressrenet, who pulled the plug on her LJ completely and kept her word good. Ah well.

*sits on soapbox*

Edit: I'm also nervous about the poetry workshop that will happen in a few hours' time.

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08:53 pm
I had this dream while taking a nap in the evening.

I was in a shopping mall, a place entirely white to give the illusion of being chilled, with light blue lighting. I was hungry. I was looking for a restaurant, and found one: a very upscale, expensive, and very fashionable one, which had several patrons in it (being dinnertime) and sold ice-cream in some kind of glass for alcoholic drinks. I knocked into the back of a very tall man.

The mall was so big that I needed to use a -- whatchacallit, those things in airports which are like flat escalators -- to get from one place to another. There were not many shops open, though. I woke up very shortly after, partly, I think, because I was genuinely hungry.

Waking up in the evenings always makes me think about life and its briefness. So much of our perception of reality is based on the perception of our senses, and our dreams can emulate those perceptions pretty well.

When I woke up, my housemate was preparing dinner, and outside, the sun's setting shine hit the water vapour in the air and the entire world was bathed in a glow of orange, as though we were all living in slightly dated photographs.
Current Music: Shakira, Alejandro Sanz -- La Tortura

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02:28 pm - Teaching
1. I have a blind student
Teaching him is like learning how to see the world in different eyes. I am grading him on Hamlet entirely now, because Keats and Jean Rhys have proven to be too visual.

I watch him work with a computer, playing only with cues on a world driven by icons and their placement on the screen, working with nothing but the sound of his keyboard and voice recognition. He asks me how is it possible to play a ghost on the stage, and that is when I realize that he has no way of realizing that a ghost is played by a white sheet draped over the actor. He does not notice the ghost in Hamlet. He notices Marcellus seizing Hamlet in Act One.

Maybe James Joyce and Milton are difficult only because those with sight have never learned to see the world in a different way.

2. After three years of teaching, I think I've finally arrived at a teaching technique that works
Unfortunately, it may be a while until I start teaching literature again, especially literature at a university level.

First two years: bumbled. Had no idea what a pain grading was going to be.
After a while: focused on grading.
Third year: Learned that the most important thing about teaching is deciding how you want to grade your students from the very beginning of the semester. Set questions for students right from the beginning. Give students those questions. Direct all classes to the answering of the questions.
After: Realized that sessions became extremely one-sided, with me giving input and not much output from students. Conrad Zaar on LJ reminded me that the function of a literature classroom is not to dictate values, but to help the student examine them.
After, proposal: Possibly, give students a broad theme to work with and a body of various texts to base their essays on. Spend tutorial sessions with them by discussing the angles they have taken in their essays, and how they choose to support it.

Here's hoping that I will teach again.

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12:24 am
I am so late, but good Lord, I've just discovered how easy it is to incorporate Adsense into a Blogspot layout. I don't think Malaysians were proudly proclaiming their opinions with all those 35,000 blogs. I think they were grabbing money.

Doesn't matter if the total amount will only lead to several dollars and cents at most, and that advertising via blogging is on its way downhill (see, those text ads were brilliant for the first several months or so -- and once they lost focus, they became as annoying as any ad would be). Hey, boleh belanja minum kopi, ya know what I'm saying.

It's the Kacip Fatimah of the 21st Century, folks.

And call me an elitist or an idiot (aren't they one and the same?) but I'm sitting this one out, people. Money's not to be despised, but I prefer doing it with a little bit of style.

(I've got nothing against Nuffnang and Advertlets, just the scramble to get whatever bit of cash they can dish -- and that counts for [b]Adsense, too)

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April 3rd, 2008

11:36 pm - Notes to myself
After several days -- hmm, about two or three, actually -- of trying out Scribbld, I've come to the conclusion that this is one of the most comfortable (so far) locations outside of Livejournal that I can use for blogging. In fact, the layout choice for the front page makes Scribbld more comfortable to use than Livejournal.

Unfortunately, I don't have an audience here, and I don't like writing without an audience. I just don't feel motivated to write 'meaty' entries when I know that no one is reading. As I mentioned before, my soapbox days are over -- and blogging has changed so much than when I first started out with Fountain of Vomit. When I write now, I want to write for a purpose. The first thing that directs any sense of purpose in writing is an audience.

That doesn't mean that I am going to stop blogging regularly here. It might not be as frequent as Livejournal, but it's definitely going to be actively used. I won't be closing this account, and I might even consider paying for a permanent account should one of the 'infrequent sales' (quoting the FAQ) of it happen. Since this is a place without an audience, I'm going to keep it as notes to myself.

(If it's public, it means I don't mind someone stumbling upon these notes and reading them. If it's not, then it is quite personal)

So I'll be heading back to LJ. And I'll be holding on to this.

(A blog is more than just a little collection of texts and writing. It is a portable personal space)

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10:59 pm - As if you didn't know this before.
In case all those mamak (coffee shop if there's not enough mamaks in your area) political debates weren't enough to convince you that Malaysians are damn opinionated, I just learned from housemate that Malaysia is home to the highest number of bloggers in Asia: 35,000.

I'm not sure if Asia includes places like Turkey or Russia, but it's a flattering (?) figure all the same. Now, if only we could stop talking, and start working.

And I'm saying this while blogging. Heh.

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April 2nd, 2008

10:41 pm - Silver linings
How's this for great? I bought a new floor table today for RM 40. Now I don't have to bend to use the Internet when I work on my laptop, and it feels so much more comfortable typing and getting something done. I can write novels! Complete my thesis in two weeks! Draft plans to start up a business enterprise -- oh why stop there? -- to RULE the world! 

I'm glad for the happy feelings this piece of furniture gives me. It's been a very glum day, with the weather being hot and stormy, and I almost got sick at one point.

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07:50 am - the truth of our human conditions
Yosh spoke to me about forming a small Inklings-style circle for writing. It will be a good way to steer our writing towards the greater goal of glorifiying God. 

I often wonder if a conscious and deliberate decision to glorify God in one's writings eventually restrict a more important (I think? perhaps just equally important) aim: writing the truth. And when I mean truth, I mean truth about one's human condition, more so than factual truth of this happened here, where and what. Secondly, an attempt to write for God may end up walking along the lines of being inspirational and kitschy, which is pretty low and simplistic art, imo. 

This is the root not just of an argument about artistic principles between God and I, but also for pretty much everything in my life. 

But this Inklings thing that Yosh is planning can only be good, if not great. I long for a constructive and non-pretentious writing community. And if I can't love God directly and shape my art as a consequence, perhaps I can start by making my love for art love God. 

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April 1st, 2008

11:11 pm
Here are some of the things I've observed about my blogging habits:

1. I've outgrown the soapbox desire. I don't blog to tell the world how I feel anymore. I blog to capture a particular train of thought that I've had. Those are the more important ones, anyway. Secondly, I blog because I want to meet new friends.

2. I don't like professional blogging. A lot of blogging services cater to the idea that corporate bodies want to blog. There are textbook reasons for why those companies do so, but the real stuff of blogging comes from personal blogging. This changes nothing except a sense of aesthete. I hate clean, professional layouts. I don't mind having to pay for something, but I hate stuff that reminds me that I ought to act forty. Or twenty six. I am twenty six, but that is another story. 

3. It's a bit difficult now for me to keep a blog, though. Old bloggers grow up, new bloggers don't catch on that fast. Blogging has hit its peak, and that's why so many places are charging. Doesn't matter. This is a public diary, after all -- an attempt to keep some form of permanence in cyberspace, well known for its impermanence. I had an audience on Livejournal. I can pretend that people cared for what I wrote about. It's a bit harder to pretend when I am fully aware that I am speaking to blank space. 

A few things about my experiments:

1. Tabulas was functional, but ugly and hard to design with. 
2. Never start a feed or announce where you've moved to until you've started to use one service regularly for the next three months.
3. Wordpress was pretty, but the spontaneity of receiving comments is gone. Too many trolls. 
4. Squarespace is the most amazingly costly thing I have seen to tattle about my life. It does have (albeit limited) photo space, though. 
5. Everyone leaves to Insanejournal, but no one talks about anything there, except to talk trash about Livejournal.
6. And the good fanfic writers are still on Livejournal.
7. When Livejournal starts a permanent account sale, I might get one. 
8. But I will -- in all probability -- not use their regular paid account anymore. 

And oh, yes. Give me plenty of space to type in plenty of text.


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05:34 pm - My first entry.
I've been wanting to shift from Livejournal many, many times, but all of my attempts have ended in failure. I didn't like any other system except the Livejournal system.

So far, I am very comfortable with Scribbld. The introductory layout page is very clean and pleasing to the eye. I might be alone again, as usual, but this could work out. I have the friends' list, and the community pages. The rest, I can dig up slowly, just as I did with LJ.

Maybe. We'll see how this works.

Hello Scribbld.

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