Tuesday, December 27, 2005
this christmas was one of the best christmases i've ever had! there was love. there was joy. there was peace. there was happiness. there was dunking of self in large heated pool. and there were good friends and family and a ton of good food cooked by the gourmet chefs Mamalam and Riya!

before christmas denise had a party with good food and good company and all of us had to do a show-and-tell. didn't get to see jianhong do a boob dance nor in fact finally discover what a boob dance actually was, but we did manage to get renjun to shake his booty and valiantly leap onto ian's lap.

the night before christmas i went to ian's midnight service to watch him read. he finally got picked to read during christmas after having the Lord's birthday bogarted by the other readers for as long as he could remember, and had to fend off other readers trying to trade him his christmas duty for other important occasions to read, like the 27th of February. and everyone knows that the 27th of february is International Eat More Vegetables and Emerge Victorious Against Colon Cancer Day. so obviously he was very tempted to trade, but opted to retain his chance to read for once at a very special christmas service instead. and it was a lovely service.

the next day, finishing touches were frantically put on the christmas lunch by mamalam (ie : trying to put the chicken wings into an inspiring, christmas-themed arrangement, but eventually we gave up trying to create a chicken wing model of the nativity scene due to time constraints and because we didn't have enough UHU glue) before she rushed the family to church for service. big huge gigantic enormous thank yous to ian, jean, howen, haiyuan-yama, fengwei, xinyi, luohan, mingli, lynn, renjun, jianbang, wayne, liana, and isaac (did i leave out anyone?) for coming to witness my baptism. it really meant the world to me that you were there, especially on christmas morning, to be there at a time that was so special to me and my family. i am grateful to my wonderful relatives, the entire hakka clan and the hokkien clan for sitting through the entire english sermon which they may or may not have understood, so they could be there for the baptism too.

my brother asked me later in the day if i felt any different after getting dunked and re-emerging into the newness of life. my answer was that i didn't feel much different. i suppose getting baptised isn't a magical process that immediately transforms you into being a better person, or a person who sins a little less, or more devoted servant of God than you already are. it's going to take a lot of God's work to change me into anything like that, but which i believe he has already started doing and will continue doing if i stick with him and am determined to continue honouring him. i just feel a stronger sense of responsibility to be a reflection of God's glory and his powerful hand. i thank God for the brothers and sisters in Christ that he's blessed me with, (like joey, stella, jenheng, claris, among so many others) especially since life in medicine started, and i know that if i turn to them that i will find support and encouragement.

then everyone was shuttled off to my house by my mom and my aunties and uncles for lunch! there was so much good food, thank you so much to my amazing mom and her wonderful helper. zhongyang, qingyuan, jirong, dickson, huixian and her zuzhao, jian yang, and ghim popped over to help demolish the carnage that was the buffet table. lynn, the champion of the world, brought a humungous box of krispy kremes (cue operatic heavenly voices) and a tub of melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cream rolls all the way from London to feed the hungry! it was a wonderful time catching up with school friends who i haven't seen all this holidays; talking to the judo girls, meeting huixian's zuzhao at long last, and laughing at luohan for crippling my ceramic dog; and reuniting SO3K friends to relive the old days (ghim rolled on the floor for old time's sake).

Riya especially had a very good christmas. after everyone left, she was doing pirouettes all over the house and giggling to herself because of the multitude of well-deserved comments that she got along the lines of "bagus! bagus!" and "sedap! sedap!". Riya rocks my socks! although i have to translate that to bahasa before i tell her that or she may think that i'm asking her about laundry again.

the vcf christmas party organised by claris, dennis, and ben yesterday was great! the m2s were out in full force again, and there was good food (because amelia was in charge again), inspiring speakers, and wonderful company.

the fact that i have posted this new post does not in any way indicate that i have sorted out which horrible flesh-eating bacteria chomps away at the moist areas between your toes while simultaneously turning your intestines inside out and giving you a sore throat.

| mando | 5:09 PM


Thursday, December 22, 2005
'tis the season of aging. the season when one notices that you no longer have the multipurpose "but i'm still a teenager!" excuse to do silly things, that you have started to imagine yourself with the wrinkles of a seventy year old, that despite all this growing up nonsense the mercury level on your maturity thermometer doesn't seem to have budged at all.

but all that noticing aside, i am now 20. the strange age where you are no longer a teenager, yet still not old enough to drink in america. i had the best time turning 20 this year, walking through all of singapore and beyond with a bloody red blindfold over my eyes, waving at invisible people whose giggles i could hear because the blindfold wasn't on that tight. and apparently when you become an adult (and when you have two dudes with strong arms helping you), you are able to get into a moving cable car in heels while still blindfolded with chinese nationals gawking at how singaporeans seem to find the prospect of getting kidnapped so enjoyable nowadays. thank you (most kindly) for a marvellous wonderful blind date birthday!

and thank you for your birthday wishes, eugene, jian yang, mala (happy birthday too, mala!), shawn (in paris! happy birthday too, shawn!), timo, desmond, ann, wayne, liana, dehan and teng hwee!

on the 22nd of december, my mom turned blanketyblank! so happy blanketyblankth birthday, my gorgeous loving caring looking-as-young-as-the-day-she-was-married mom! i baked her a cake which everyone choked down and said was nice in the spirit of birthdays and christmas and hannukah and kwanzaa and chinese new year, and we had a little family celebration at home. i think the photogenicity of our family is increasing. i suspect my brother has been practicing his smile in the mirror. one day i am going to burst in on him in his room standing before his reflection going "who's a good looking one? huh? who's a good looking one?"

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a quartet of happy lams

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happy birthday from your spouse and spawn, mom!

and on the same day, a tellytubby trapped in the body of a soldier-salsa dancer finally caught up with all the rest of us and turned 20! congratulations on becoming a man, jian yang. here is a very special photo which i think embodies the very spirit of jian yang and his joy at turning one year older.

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birthdays are all about love.

welcome home from london, lynn! welcome home from langkawi, liana! welcome home from bangkok, wayne! welcome home from bangkok, zhong! don't freeze off your nose in michigan, carol!

no more posts until i sort out what bacteria causes what horrible pustulating sores on noses and nether regions, and how your stomach can potentially digest itself, and how i can potentially slip a strong sedative into the christmas eggnogs of the entire microB and pathology department so they sleep right through the new year, easter, and halloween of 2006 and forget to pass out the exam papers entirely.

| mando | 5:51 PM


Wednesday, December 14, 2005
this week was yet another week filled with suspicion that i indeed have chronic fatigue syndrome or a seven foot long worm curled up cozily within my ample stomach sucking my veins dry like one would a pina colada. three days into the week and i was already feeling as tired as a ninety-eight year old grandmother with eroded kneecaps hiking up mount kinabalu with a sumo-wrestler strapped to her back. but in a good way, because the geriatric-sumowrestler-appendage fatigue syndrome was brought on by a flurry of exciting activities!

on monday, expedition leader extraordinaire teo renjun of the teo renjun schools of fishery and fine arts, mooncake making, and mountain climbing, led a troop of hungry schoolmates to jb to uncover cheap eats, discounted shirts, and movies that haven't yet been released in singapore so we could watch them and perform the ritual "nyah nyah nyah you can't watch it til 22nd december" chant to everyone we met. me and michelle were especially excited because we, having more sophisticated tastes in holiday destinations, had never been to jb properly before; and previously had wisely spent all our time touring the great metropolises of sentosa and pulau ubin OBS camp 2. renjun packed five of us (michelle, jianbang, zhongyang, himself and me) in the teomobile and drove us to marsiling to park the car and wallpaper the windscreen with parking coupons before taking a 80sen bus across the causeway.

we walked across the causeway inhaling great heady gulps of diesel and bracing ourselves for the adventure that awaited us. but then we decided that it was too hot to have any adventures so we went to watch The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe instead. it was one of the best movies i've watched all year. i read the book a lot when i was a kid, and bought the box set last year and finally enjoyed the saga in its entirety. it was really wonderful to read all the books and relate certain parts to certain bits in the bible, whether or not they were deliberately written as an allegory of certain biblical happenings and philosophies. the film was amazing, everyone was so natural in their roles, and the animals were all so animated and endearing. some parts, little and undramatic ones, moved me so much that i was brought to tears and my contact lens almost popped out. the filmmakers definitely have shares in acuvue. and for me, the whole process of discovering Narnia and gaining victory over battles big and small, literal or otherwise, brought home the fact that that journeying through life with God isn't just about falling asleep in church and trying your best not to drool on the shoulder of the lady next to you, or a stodgy old pastor belting out the thou shalt nots while a piano tinkles sleepily in the background. it is magical.

after the movie we did a little shopping and played "how many big fat singaporean kids can you squeeze illegally into a malaysian taxi" with a nice taxi driver uncle who drove us to dinner at a hawker centre where we ate like kings for the price of a little more than a happy meal! after a bit more shopping, we waved goodbye to our once conjoined big brother (who is now threatening to be conjoined to us again, with the number of causeways everyone's planning to build nowadays) and headed home to fall into sweet, sweet comas.

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our multitude of coopoons. we've got love in our tummies and chewing gum on our shoes. but we still love johor bahru.

on tuesday, free tickets to the king kong premiere! we got seats right next to the loo (very important for watching a three hour long movie with bladder-jolting action sequences. those vibrations from the dolby digital surround sound system are no joke, especially when the vibrations stem from a very large monkey paw.), and settled in for three hours giant-bug and ritual-sacrifice-filled enjoyment. king kong is a really good movie. only peter jackson (who, now that he's lost all that weight, is starting to look a whole lot like dominic monaghan with a bad beard) could make a three hour long movie about a giant monkey and not have the audience endure one single minute of boredom. andy serkis was great. king kong was amazingly expressive. i think it was mostly the nostrils. i have never in my life seen such emotive nostrils. one flare spoke a million words.

our class and christmas commitee decided to have a nice little christmas thing on tuesday, where songs were sung (orthodox carols, and uplifting original christmas compositions about getting AIDS and studying throughout christmas break! which i think somebody should really send to the dean's office sometime soon. they need some yuletide cheer too.), the numa-numa dance was danced, philanthropic acts were performed, and movies were watched. our class mascot, the indomitable glassy-eyed playhouse chicken, sat contentedly under our christmas tree and watched the entire proceedings, grateful that fortune had not made him a turkey this festive season.

as i was getting ready to rest my head upon my pathology textbook and dream of the hedonistic gifts that santa would bring me this year, my dad came in with a little bottle of brain pills for me! excited at the thought of instant intelligence in one quick swallow, i opened the bottle and found instead sugar-roasted almonds! which are just as good in my book.
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and now i will sit and spend some quality time chuckling at this ad :
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somebody out there doesn't like apple very much.

| mando | 5:23 AM


Saturday, December 10, 2005
it is that time of year where geologists dance the jingle bell rock, santa claus turns on his GPS to find the most cost-efficient way to get to santa claus lane, loansharks threaten to have your chestnuts roasting over an open fire instead of breaking both your thumbs, and i make jaded remarks about christmas. but not this year. i have decided to turn over a new leaf regarding all commercial holidays. it's not just going to be about the christmas chocolate for me this year, oh no. it's going to be about thoroughly enjoying it when your microB professor strolls into the lecture theatre and shoves a santa hat onto his head, starts flinging reindeer horn headgear into the audience, and winds a string of blinky lights around his neck before conducting his lecture with a laser pointer that flashes merry christmas onto a powerpoint slide about nasty bacteria. it's going to be about walking down orchard road on a rare windy night with friends and watching dehan and zhongyang dance beneath a lamppost that plays christmas carols, pissing off a cuddly couple on the bench next to them with their exhuberant rendition of 'here comes santa claus'. it's going to be about placing large bets on which way the scary toy soldiers at the junction between cineleisure and the heeren are going to turn next. it's going to be about wondering what reindeer have to do with christmas. i'm pretty sure they weren't what mary rode on to bethlehem. she'd have to have ridden a polar bear, because obviously she'd have to get a big strong animal to carry a pregnant lady carrying a baby who was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

and it's also about getting baptised, which i've finally decided to do this christmas.

after years of being brought up in a christian home, and after years of being a christian only in name and calling on the name of God only during exams or when i was feeling particularly remorseful, God has finally humbled me, made me teachable, and drawn me back to him and taught me what it means to love him, and live for him. throughout my life he has continued to bless me and my family, whether i acknowledged it or not. as i started to seek him actively, he drew near to me. i didn't experience any phenomenal spiritual event, i didn't collapse on the floor laughing and crying for hours. but God revealed himself to me subtly in the works he has done in my life.

he has allowed me to finally appreciate the beauty and magnitude of his death on the cross so that we could be reconciled, and patiently allowed me 18 years to extricate myself from my apathy, and finally fall on my knees and thank him for his love. forgiveness means nothing if the forgiven does not accept the hand that is being held out to her. and it frankly baffles me that a God who has the power to create the earth, to overturn nations, to craft a species, is willing to wait that long for one of his children to love him.

getting baptised is a symbol of dying to my old self, and of becoming alive again in Christ; of making a conscious decision to reject my human nature, and strive best as i can to be led by the holy spirit in all that i do. i know i will still sin continually. i will probably be far more imperfect than a lot of people who don't believe in God. but i know that my future is assured in his hands, i trust God more than i trust my own devices to chisel out a path in life for myself, and i am satisfied in him.

thank you to everyone who agreed to come and witness my baptism. even though you guys have to wake up early on christmas morning, a sunday morning, and even though most of yall don't normally go to church and may not be altogether comfortable with it, you're coming anyway because it's important to me. and i am so grateful for amazing friends like you.

if anyone else wants to see me get dunked in a portable jacuzzi on christmas morning, please feel free to come! the baptism service starts at 10:30am, at Bethesda Bedok Tampines Church, 300 Bedok North Ave 3, Singapore 469717. if, like wayne, you want to make extra-sure that i am really really baptised, please be informed that you will have to provide your own supersoakers. please note also that i will not be wearing white.

| mando | 4:03 AM


Friday, December 02, 2005
boring theatregeek entry alert. read only if you're the sort of person who enjoys listening to people babbling about their various obsessions, like the exhilaration of watching their fingernails grow, or training racing snails. just got back from watching Rent with mister grumpy owl at the kallang theatre. the show was a bit of a let down, partly because i hadn't bothered to read the libretto before watching the show, and in pure musicals like Rent where almost the whole show was played out in song, i can never catch half of what the cast is saying, especially in big group sings. my fault, and i wish i had done it because i wouldn't have had to focus so much on straining to understand the plot and which characters had AIDS and which characters were straight, and could have just enjoyed the musical for its heart.

the theatre was completely bare, and i was pretty surprised at how little fanfare such a major musical had been given. they'd been relegated to kallang theatre, which i last saw as being used to hold a religious rally of dubious origin, they had only interviewed karen mok for publicity, and the theatre wasn't buzzing with the excitement and enthusiasm of the old days when Miss Saigon and Fame were being performed there. at first i thought, maybe it was all part of the spirit they were trying to embody. old rundown theatre, no cashing in on selling merchandise to rich people watching a show about starving artists, no posters, no gimmicks in the set. just pure, unadulterated art. except for the fact that they had cast a hongkong pop star in one of the principal roles and plastered her face and fishnet-stockinged legs all over the promotional posters.

but then i realised that true bohemians who refused to sell out would all be extinct from not having money to pay for bread or buy drugs and had probably all perished while trying to swallow twenty live cobras in a daring avante-garde performance art piece. so of course they would have tried to make some money out of us by selling us logo-emblazoned mugs. and then ian said that the merchandise had all been stuck in transit because of the typhoon and had either been eaten by a school of hungry pomfrets, or (in his words) gotten lost and now kate and sawyer now have new reading material and a large supply of very colourful toilet paper.

anyway this was a musical that i didn't really 'get'. not through the fault of the cast, most of whom were stellar, had great voices, and moved fantastically on stage. and not through the fault of the blocking or staging, which was very well done, considering that this was a musical that couldn't have particularly grand sets. singapore is just a pretty strange place to put up a show like Rent, a show that tries to wring the hearts of the audience with the joys and the pains of living the bohemian life. most of us have never even come close to tasting that kind of lifestyle, and being the repressed kid who'd been smothered with a lifetime's worth of assessment books, and who'd spent all her developmental years trying to mould herself to the unyielding contours of 'the system', it was hard for me to relate to the situations and the characters. it's too hard to even entertain the thought of being a rebel in this day and at this age. it's either not a universal theme, or i'm just too set on the straight, narrow, and utterly boring to enjoy what i paid eighty bucks to watch.

but like i said before, the cast was stellar, and the old theatre and the unsophisticated sound system didn't do them justice at all. Jeremy Kushnier (Roger) was dead cool as HIV+ tormented musician, and Danielle Lee Greaves (Joanne) did some good, quality belting! for me, karen mok was just pretty distracting. at 35, she still has legs i would kill for and she did some great dancing, but her voice and her acting were weak. the emotion of her songs just weren't there. but i suppose a lot of the energy depends on crowd response, and the theatre was only half full.

my favourite bit was 'la vie boheme' where everyone was seated at a long table in a cafe in the style of the last supper with their modern-day Judas among them. that was the bit that made me feel like i was watching a present-era version of Les Mis. the ABC members of Les Mis rebelling against the oppressors of the poor, and the denizens of alphabet city rebelling against the oppressors of those who embrace bohemia, and against the virus slowly eating away at their community.

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stage door!

| mando | 9:51 AM


daniel the yoda
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