Monthly Archives: August 2009

Breaking point

“Maybe I dissect each little thing, and put myself out there too much, and maybe even thrive on the drama of it all — but at least that means I still care. You think you’ve won because women are expendable to you? Sure, you don’t get hurt or make an ass of yourself that way, but you don’t fall in love that way, either. You haven’t won, Alex. You’re alone. I may do a lot of stupid shit — but I know I’m a lot closer to finding someone than you are.” – Gigi, He’s Just Not That Into You

he's just not that into you

I remember the first time I watched this, back in early April. I hadn’t been very keen on it when Sophia had mass-emailed saying she had passes to the premiere, if anyone was interested. And at Becca’s insistence (“I really think this is something you and I have to watch!”), I agreed to go for it.

With so many characters and storylines in the movie, it was easy to get them all confused. I couldn’t remember how one person knew the other, nor how each story became intertwined. I only remembered coming out of the movie in a bit of a daze, nodding vigorously when Becca vehemently announced that we were going to delete every text message that we had kept in our cell phones out of sentimentality or false hope.

I write about this now, nearly five months later, because nearly five months ago I was at a loss as to how to put into words the effect the movie had had on me. But after watching it for the second time last night, on DVD — losing spectacularly to Becca, who has watched it a good ten times or more — I was reminded of how I had come away from it the first time, thinking, Yes, I know what I have to do now.

I used to think that everyone had their breaking point, and when they reached it, there would be no going back from it, because that would be when they knew they had exhausted all their efforts in getting what they wanted, and were ready to admit defeat and walk away before they could hurt themselves any further. I used to think that I had a breaking point, and when the time came, I would reach it and completely let go of everything I had hung on to that had defined my life and the pain I had put myself through.

But time and time again, I thought I had reached it, only to bounce back and stretch that line a little further, thinking that if I could just be a little more patient, wait just a little while longer, everything would turn out all right. And time and time again, I turned away from that breaking point, terrified that if I reached it, it would be too late to turn back even if I wanted to.

And now here I am, at a point — breaking or otherwise — where I can’t do anything but move forward, because to turn back would not only be fruitless, but also hurt other people besides myself.

Naturally, Becca was more successful at keeping her vow than I was, and possibly less sentimental too: the text messages I had saved dated as far back as December 21, 2007, and even after watching He’s Just Not That Into You again last night, I’m no more successful than I was the last time.

Smile

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile; what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

I know now that no matter how happy I am, no matter how much reason I have to smile these days, nothing can take away the pain, the heartbreak, and every tear I’ve shed. But because all that is from a different life, a different time, the only thing I can do now is hide behind a smile.

Loath to the camera

I hate having my photo taken. I hate it with a passion usually reserved by others for more teeth-grinding ordeals. Like enemas. That is not to say that I’ve ever had the misfortune of experiencing an enema, but even if I did at least I know I wouldn’t have to see the outcome of it — unlike a photograph.

I have no illusions about the way I look; I am well aware that unless I go through at least half of my usual makeup routine (or ‘putting my face on’), I should not be allowed out in public, as I have the pallid, colorless look of a chronic invalid, which only gets more haggard — and more unrecognizable — as the day wears on.

So it was with a heavy heart that I read the email sent out to my entire division yesterday, announcing that we would have photos taken for our new staff IDs this morning. While my colleagues agonized over what to wear (‘bright colored dress’, the email said) and how to get their hair done and subsequently sleep standing up, I agonized over how I was going to get yet another decent photo taken.

The last time I had my photo taken in these circumstances was back in March, when I had to renew my passport. I had smiled my best smile, and with God’s grace (and a little help from the photographer), I had my first decent passport photo in twenty years, which I vowed to use until I’ve aged too much to pass off as the same woman in the photo.

And this morning, having chosen a pale pink shirt over mourning black, as I don’t own anything belonging to the neon family, I stomped up to the ninth floor of Tower Two with the same kind of dread one feels when awaiting a jury’s verdict in a murder trial. And after three (three!) tries, I apparently managed to have a relatively normal-looking photo taken, which was lauded by the photographer as ‘very nice’.

It didn’t help that the photographer, who was Chinese, was shouting instructions at me in Malay (“Jangan gelak! Jangan gelak!“* which I swear I wasn’t), ceasing only after I said, “I’m Chinese, you know.”

* He meant to say, “Jangan gerak,” which means “Don’t move” in Malay. However, the Chinese tongue is unable to tell l from r, and therefore it came out as “Jangan gelak,” ironically translating into “Don’t laugh,” which I was too irate to do anyway.