Monday, October 22, 2012

The demise of sense

Skylar opened the garage door, leading Walter to a stack covered with a piece of flower-patterned cloth.

She lifted the cloth, revealing a pile of crisp dollar bills neatly arranged in packs of ten thousand dollars each. The pile of money took up almost half the space in the garage and reached up to an adult's thighs. It was the money she had been laundering from Walter's meth dealing, using the car wash as a front.

"How much is this?" Walter asked.

"I have no earthly idea. I truly don't. I just stack it up, keep it dry, spray it for silverfish. There is more money here than we could spend in ten lifetimes. I certainly cannot launder it, not with a hundred car washes," whimpered Skylar in resigned agony. "Please tell me, Walter, how much is enough? How big does this pile have to be?"

His response was a cold, pregnant stare.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Voice of reason

I got a call from someone who needed me to be the vocalist of his band for their gig this November. It's been a long time since I last had a gig (by the way I can't really pull off the word 'gig') and I don't really have anything planned in November so I thought what the hell. I said yes.

Then they sent me the playlist. One quick glance at it, and I told myself, "Oh God what did I just get myself into?"

If there are two bands in the world that I can't stand, it's Bloc Party and Arctic Monkeys. I seriously, from the bottom of my heart, honest to God, think their music is shit. Pointless, noisy and extremely annoying. Yet, on the playlist I can see songs from both bands. That I'll have to cover. And I'll have to make it look as if I'm enjoying singing them.

But there's more. Scrolling further down on the list, you'll see Muse and AC/DC. Okay, I'll admit that eventhough I'm not a big fan of AC/DC, their music has grown on me. Muse, on the other hand, I can't even. Since a lot of my friends are huge Muse fans, I've tried to keep an open mind and listened to Matt Bellamy's I-just-got-my-balls-caught-between-elevator-doors wailing voice every time they put Muse on during parties, at full volume no less. But never in a million years would I actually play Muse on my iTunes when I'm alone, let alone cover them on stage as if I endorse their garbage.

As if that's not bad enough, the list also includes songs from Rage Against The Machine. They wrote down 4 songs from RATM, and asked me to choose one. So I listened to all four, again with an open and receptive mind (well, as receptive as one could be when listening to yelled gibberish). I wasn't really familiar with RATM's music before. Now that I've listened to their music, I thank God that for all of my existence on the face of this holy earth, he's spared me from the scarring psychological harm that is RATM's music. Their songs make me feel violated, confused, depressed, angry, bewildered, and maybe even a bit deaf. Then again, I'd take deafness any day over RATM's music.Why am I never in a band whose playlist include tunes like Ray Charles' Hit The Road Jack or Quartetto Cetra's Crapa Pelada?

Fortunately, The Kinks, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Metallica figure in the list. You can never go wrong with The Kinks. And Lynyrd Skynyrd is also good. Metallica is only awesome because I grew up listening to it, otherwise I would have dismissed it as shit. Just like Linkin Park. I found their later albums crappy but I loved their first album, and that's weird because all their albums actually sound the same. Then I realized that I listened to their first album before puberty hit, and the later ones post-puberty. Therein lies the difference.

I don't want to be the asshole who insists on overhauling the whole playlist (which I actually can do, because I'm the singer and singers always have the last word, not to mention they earn more money). So I'm thinking of backing out.

I don't think I'll be able to live with myself if I go through with this gig, knowing that I've inflicted bad taste and shitty music to everybody in the concert hall.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Born To Be A Nomad

A friend shared this article entitled Moving Around Without Losing Your Roots on Facebook and tagged me on it. It's an article about the meaning of home in a globalized world.

I have to admit that after so many years living abroad, the notion of home gets a little fuzzy to me. Well in truth, even before I came to France, I didn't really know where home was. Since a very young age, my family and I have been following my dad moving from one place to another, so we never really had one place where we felt attached to. When my family finally settled in Kuala Lumpur, I got two full years of staying put in one place until I had to go to boarding school in Perak.

Right after SPM, I went to UM for two months before going to INTEC for three months and then off I went flying to France. You'd think that I would finally be rid of the moving hassle for years until I graduate, but no. In France, all Malaysian students change cities at least once, and on average we move house 3 times during the whole study period. In my case, I've called 8 houses home for the past 7 years.

One problem with moving around is you have barely enough time to make good friends, and when you finally do, you suddenly have to move again. I sincerely don't know the whereabouts of 90% of my childhood friends. This was before social networks and mobile phones, so moving away meant losing your friends forever.

I can safely say that I have lots of acquaintances, but very few good friends. One reason why I'm so secretive and such a loner is because I never had the chance to spend enough time to trust or to gain trust from my friends. I grew up knowing that all my friendships had expiry dates, so there was no point in establishing BFFs because before I knew it, I'd be leaving again.

That, unfortunately, has become my lifestyle. People who know me know that I never really go the extra mile to maintain a friendship. I'm never the go-to friend of anyone, because I myself don't have a go-to friend.

I'm not blaming my dad for working in a field where we had to move so much. In fact, I'm entirely grateful for it, because my siblings and I had the chance to learn different dialects and see different cultures at a very young age. Growing up was never boring because we always experienced new things and ended up mastering the art of adapting to a new environment. But in the process, little by little we lost the ability to feel attached to another person who's not a family member.

So I have mixed feelings about the article. On one hand, you want to feel proud to say that you're a citizen of the world, a vagabond who lives on a ship without an anchor and who knows people at every port in every country. On the other hand, you lose the sense of belonging. Everywhere you go, you're the outsider.

When I have kids, I hope we'll be able to stay put long enough for them to create everlasting friendships.

I loved my childhood but in retrospect, I would also love to have one place where I can safely say "this is where I grew up".

The Rapist

I'm thinking of getting a therapist.

Well, no, I'm not depressed or anything. I'm happy as could be. But there are some things in my life I need to sort out and I think I need to talk to someone who is impartial and unbiased about any of my life decisions.

The problem is, I still have trouble believing in talk therapy. My understanding of talk therapy has somewhat improved ever since I met that lady in Grenada. However, every time I hear the word shrink or therapist, I'll still think of all the American movies I've seen where the shrinks get paid a lot of money to sit around and do nothing.

But that's not the main reason why I have a hard time buying into the idea of having a therapist. My biggest problem is this: every therapist has a therapist of their own, because even therapists have problems.

Why is that an issue?

Well, supposed I am a mechanic. I fix cars for a living, and get paid handsome money to do it. But the day my own car breaks down, I have to go to another mechanic to get it fixed. That must mean that I'm not a very good mechanic, right?

Same goes for therapists. If they can't solve their own problems, why the hell should I pay them to solve mine?

But still, there's a FOC therapist in my school. I'm graduating soon, so I need to take advantage of these last few months to actually make good use of all the free stuff you get as a student in France before it's too late.