Monthly Archives: April 2016

Back in the habit

Back in the habit

doctor who

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been gradually slipping into a new, but familiar, routine: I’ve started writing again (I refuse to call it ‘blogging’ because ‘bloggers’ in this country are like ‘celebrities’; they call themselves that because they have no idea what the term really entails). Although most of what I write is just emotional ramblings that mean something to me at the time of writing, it would appear that said ramblings seem to mean something to other people as well, because more than one person has told me that reading my website is like reading all the things that they themselves are thinking, but are afraid to say — or in this case, write — out loud.

I will admit that for the longest time, the number of posts on this website had dwindled considerably. I thought it was all part of the natural progression of life. I started writing publicly in 2004 (and you will likely never find my very first website, because I did not use my real name back then, and this one you are reading only dates as far back as 2006); the 12 years that have passed since can be considered light-years in this field, because writing is something that can cause burnout faster than most people realize, but I’m quite pleased that I’ve managed to accummulate a fair amount of ramblings over the years.

Things went a little quiet while I was working as a full-time writer for a magazine, because when you spend all your working hours writing, the last thing you want to do when you get home is write some more (and even then, I ended up bringing a lot of my work home, because I hated transcribing interviews in my office). And believe you me, I did a lot of writing between the hours of 9am and whatever-it-took-to-finish-what-we-had-to.

It didn’t get very much better after I left the magazine to go back to public relations, because that job involved a substantial amount of writing too, and I retained my column in The Star newspaper only because it allowed me the flexibility of writing whenever I wanted, and it also occasionally published some of my articles on its website. As a result, my website remained quiet, although I did try to write at least once a month, if only to get some of the angst off my chest because there wasn’t really anyone else for me to talk to about it.

Leanne Koh 001Leanne Koh 002

Then last year, Empire: Lebanon led me to briefly consider closing down this website, as well as my Twitter and Instagram accounts, because the stalking had reached biblical levels and I was tired of feeling as though a 48-year-old woman was watching me shower through a secret camera installed in my bathroom (which will be my exact answer if ever anyone asks me what it’s like to be stalked). Instead, I went on hiatus, because the only thing that stopped me from actually shutting this place down was the assumption that I might want to come back here at some point. Today, I can honestly say, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK I WAS THINKING.

So why do I write? Or Tweet or Instagram or put myself out there in any form? My hiatus gave me the answer, and it was so simple that I’m ashamed I didn’t figure it out myself.

I am a writer, pure and simple. Unlike Shonda Rhimes, who gets off on having people cry at the TV because she’s a successful screenwriter, I get my thrills from spewing coherent sentences that hopefully mean something, and putting them out into the big unknown (or not-so-unknown, if the statistics are anything to go by). And most importantly, I have nothing to hide, nothing to fear judgment for, and nothing that people haven’t already thought but aren’t willing to say. I suppose there’s a narcissistic element to it as well; I always think all writers are kidding themselves if they don’t find themselves a little bit narcissistic when it comes to their work, because who doesn’t get a kick out of seeing their name in the byline?

So here we go again, my renewed attempt to write a little more regularly. Now that I’m slowly weaning off my other jobs to focus on the restaurant and other plans for the future, I hope that writing won’t be so much of a burden anymore. People have always told me to take this website to another level by making money off advertorials, but that was never the reason I started this website. This was, is and always will be my outlet for all the things that go around and around in my head that polite society forbids me from giving voice to. And if some people feel that they can relate to my writings and see me as that voice, a voice for their unspoken fears, then I’ll add that as another reason to keep this space alive.

Divide and conquer

Divide and conquer
Wonder Woman, the original multitasker

Wonder Woman, the original multitasker

The phone could not have rung at a more inconvenient time. Without looking at it, I knew who it was, because of the ringtone, so I impulsively slowed down to contemplate answering it, at the same time using it as an opportunity to catch my breath.

“Do you have to get that?” he asked, with just the slightest hint of disapproval in his voice.

Technically I didn’t, but the only reason Shirley would be calling me at 2am (EST, obviously) was if she were drunk or miserable, and usually she was drunk because she was miserable. “Yes, but I can still do this,” I panted, so I put on my Bluetooth earpiece and answered the phone, trying my hardest not to breathe too heavily because I really was getting quite winded.

“Are you having sex?” Shirley managed to laugh in between sniffles. “Isn’t everyone out of town?”

No, I’m in the gym!” I chuffed. “But go on, I can talk.” So our conversation plowed through nearly half my workout time, while my trainer almost wordlessly put me through my paces with deadlifts, squats and presses. By the time I could hang up, Shirley had told me that although she had never heard it for herself, I sounded like a water buffalo in heat.

“You know, it’s weird, but I could swear your performance was better while you were on the phone,” my trainer remarked at the end of our session. “That shows you can multitask very well because your brain and your body are fighting each other.”

I didn’t think much of it at the time. As someone who has worked in public relations and publishing, I’ve always worked better under pressure and with deadlines hanging over my head. I suppose it should have been obvious when I had to deal with the insanity of Empire: Lebanon at exactly the same time that I launched Kelip, but lately I’ve realized that this is because I function better when I have to divide and conquer. When I have only one task to complete, it takes me ages because I allow my mind to wander and I move on to other things for a bit before coming back to the task at hand, but when I know that there are still five other things on my to-do list that need to be done by the end of the day, my concentration skyrockets and I’m able to get everything done even ahead of schedule.

It even comes down to something as mundane as social media. I used to marvel at how people could manage having two phones and more than one social media account and thank God that I never had to do that myself — until I did. Now that I control three Instagram accounts — one personal and two business accounts — as well as their corresponding Facebook accounts, and have a separate phone line for the business, I realize how much more organized I’ve become, because the brain* innately adapts to the workload and literally creates channels of efficiency in order to make everything run seamlessly.

So far it’s been a breeze, and what makes it more interesting for me is that I get to put my own touch on everything I do, although Malisa did say that both the Kelip and Byblos accounts are beginning to sound similar, and that anyone who follows both would know they’re being run by the same person. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m slipping?

* Well, my brain, at least; I don’t know about yours.

Purple reign

Purple reign
Yeow Mei Ann, 1981 - 2014

Yeow Mei Ann, 1981 – 2014

I was going through my contact list in my phone this morning, deleting contacts whom I know I won’t need to speak with anymore, and when I got to the M section, there you were. For a moment, it felt as though time had stood still.

It shouldn’t have given me a turn, but it did anyway. I suppose I don’t really go into my phonebook often enough, because I don’t like talking to people, and the very very few whom I do talk to are already in my call log. So when I saw your name and number in my phone, and it broke my heart all over again, because you used to be in my call log too.

It’s been two years, and I can’t believe I still break out in a cold sweat whenever I think about playing mahjong again, only because my best memories of the game all have you in it. I can’t believe that we will never again be able to reminisce over our crazy work stories and plot ways to kill the people we can’t stand. I can’t believe that you’re not here to tell me in your firm, yet gentle, way that I need to do what’s best for myself, and start packing my bags. And above all, I can’t believe I’ve lived two years of this damned life without you in it.

I miss you every day, and I can’t wait to see you again. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish I could go to sleep and never wake up, if only to escape the madness that has dogged me for the past year, but I guess I’m not that lucky. So when I do see you again, the first thing I hope you will tell me is “You hold, I smack!”