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a leaf down memory lane

The fan hype is now upon a certain Miss Susan Boyle of Scottish origins who before a week ago, remains an obscure church singer, a regular woman on the road you would not cast a second look at …. until her performance at “British Got Talent” that had Piers Morgan giving the biggest “Yes” he had to her throughout all three years of being in the show and even Simon Cowell, the infamously ruthless critic stared dumbfoundedly at her the moment she sang. That performance, now available on Youtube, has made her an instant celebrity with more than tens of millions of view hits.

Golden question: Why Susan Boyle?

Susan Boyle

There are hundreds and thousands of people who auditioned and hoped to get lucky in competitions like these. I may have laughed at some of the less-than-perfect auditions which were usually compiled into some sort of a rejects video but I had never doubted the amount of courage and conviction one must have had in order to take part and face the likelihood of becoming a public spectacle. The fact that I am comfortably ensconced in my office throne, watching their videos is a fact that these people already did more than me – they tried to make something out of their lives.

The only thing I cannot withstand is a confrontational after scene when the contender gets rejected. The cursing and all the “You-don’t-know-who-I-can-become” shouting turns ugly and whatever little respect I have for the person evaporates. The reason to why even the plainest people can command attention and respect from others or from me at least is because they have no illusions about themselves and they accept defeat graciously.

I don’t think we are so far past the age of remembering William Hung. Many people would remember him for the laugh-inducing audition in which he did Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs”. He became famous overnight. And although years down the road, many only remembered that he was a “joke” but I distinctly recalled that although I was not a fan, I admired him for a different reason. After brutal rejections given by the American Idols’ judges consisting of Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell, he replied “Um, I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.” No offense to William but even though he did not exactly exhibit talent the way Susan Boyle did but both of them did have one thing in common – they radiated the same positive energy towards the competition they were in.

William Hung wanted to give his best and live without regrets. Susan Boyle was urged by her ailing mother to sing for a bigger audience other than the church and I have no doubt that the reason why Susan gathered her beige skirts and marched up to the stage with her white matronly pumps was mainly due to her mother’s encouragement who knew her for who she was and had faith in who she can become or maybe that was her final act of generosity – to share Susan’s sweet and unassuming self with the rest of the world, to humble us.

I did not really know what to expect when I was watching the Youtube video but I was rooting the underdog. I wanted Simon Cowell to be taken aback, I wanted her to put the eye-rolling and heavily eyeliner-ed girl in the audience in place, I wanted her to render the jeering people speechless and choke in their throats. In short, I wanted her to be amazing.

And she was.

Amanda Holden, one of the “British Got Talent” judges could not better describe my feelings.

I am so thrilled because I know that everybody was against you. I honestly think that we were all being very cynical and I think that’s the biggest wakeup call ever. And I just want to say that it was a complete privilege listening to that.

I read nasty remarks after about how people who applauded her performance are probably less than confident themselves. I just want to say that perhaps he/she is partially right. Susan Boyle lent hope to some who may have been experiencing dejection in turbulent times like these but Susan Boyle is not suffering from a lack of confidence the same way Paul Potts, a previous winner of “British Got Talent” who had been bullied in his younger days leading to self-esteem issue, did. In fact, she refused to change her appearance because she did not think it was a problem as long as she could sing beautifully. What Susan Boyle did do is to give a voice to the discriminated, restore faith in the underestimated, shone a ray of sunlight into those who had been jaded for too long and threw the judgmental people who believed only in the power of exterior beauty and first impressions offtrack.

Her voice resonated and vibrated in the audition hall with her artfully chosen rendition of Les Misérables’ “I Dreamed A Dream”. She exuded Clarity, Honesty and Hope. Today, I teared and found back a younger version of myself with the powers invested in me by a stranger of a woman whose voice traveled across lands and mediums to make me feel alright again as I remembered how my voice no longer rang true and pure as when I was young throughout the years of growing up. My smile dimmed to the hurting remarks made by people who thought themselves better than me and got the better of me. I lost my ambition, a desire to succeed, an ability to cry and optimism to the sharks-infested corporate world and Murphy’s Law.

When did you lose yours?

Download: Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed A Dream“.mp3

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This is a visual world.

I wonder how others, as an ice breaker, could possibly broach on rude subjects to be unknowingly (or knowingly) rude. If I could win awards for being the most popularly insulted female in cabs, I am possibly well on my way to nomination and greatness. The first time, I was in a cab and the uncle deemed fit as a conversation starter to mention how fat I am. Ok, perhaps it’s hardly even a “mention” since I considered it as a rhetorical question because I have no suitable responses for it. And I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Thoughtless Cab driver: You very fat hor?
Clueless Me: *speechless*

The thoughtless cab driver looked expectantly at me, presumably waiting for an acknowledgment. Now what should I say at that point in time really? Does the cab driver expect a ‘Thank You’ with eyes brimming full of grateful tears or a pair of bright eyes accompanied by friendly tones of ‘That’s right!’? Or should I be rude in return and tell him to mind his own business which is to drive safely and send me home since his only concern would be to make sure that I pay him for the ride. I think I just blurted out a ‘Why? Why do you ask me that?‘ in feeble retort. He only managed a ‘huh‘ and kept quiet till I arrived at my destination.

The second time, I shared a cab with someone and apparently after I alighted from the cab and the someone continued on his way, the balding cab driver made disparaging remarks about me. The person was embarrassed to repeat the content but I do not have to think in order to guess.

I’ll be lying if I say it does not matter and I do not hurt since fat people have more in their flesh to hurt than anyone else. Listen carefully:

I did not steal your kids’ food and leave them with none. I do not make you earn money and buy me bread. I do not wear your clothes and rip it apart with my width. I do not mow you down when you walked headlong into me. I do not crash an entire plane, make the Titanic sink and burst your car tyre. I do not kidnap anyone, keep them in the fridge and fry them in grease for breakfast. And no, I do not keep the bones and make them into soup for supper after.

And since I do none of the things above, why am I being sentenced to seeing the pity in your eyes and the smile leaving your lips when I draw near?

Keep out of my way or I just might be tempted to ask you how is it possible that you have so little hair left.

I have never actually seen a girl who isn’t a bagaholic. If I have to define ‘bagaholic’ simply, it would be a person who buys bags and might even choose bags over clothes (although in my case, I am many-a-holic. I have come to classify myself under ‘Shopaholic’ to make explaining easier).

You see, every little thing you wear and carry tells a part of yourself to the world who sees you. The clothes, the shoes, the bag, the accessories .. that’s what I love about people-watching especially women in general (and no, I do not sway that way). The all black ensemble, depending how the ensemble was mixed and matched usually means one of the three listed:
1. a woman who is too lazy or clueless on how to mix and match and therefore stuck to the safest combination of black
2. a woman who indulges in the ‘Class’ (with a Capital C) act
3. a woman so lacking in confidence that she tries to appear as inconspicuous as possible

I usually prefer understated pieces with a dash of colour so as not to appear overly-flashy. I tend to like colours a little too much on occasions. I go for a black dress with a sudden burst of coloured bracelet or a plain black camisole with an interesting, detailed drape. I have also tried to substitute dark gray as the new ‘Black’. Over the years, I have come to learn not to over-accessorize but stick to one or two staple pieces to develop a style I call my own, so much so that when my friends see something in the shops, they will instantly think of me and know how well I would wear it.

Bags rule the world because you don’t have to fit into them like shoes or clothes. You just carry them. You’ll always berate a bag that is too big, too small, not of the right colour or texture, not of the correct number of compartments, not of any logical reason you can find other than just because its justified imperfection allows you to buy the next bag … and the next …

As for bags, I like mine roomy simply because I carry way too much junk for them to be delicate and structured plus I found a little comfort in an organized mess that no one understands. I even think it’s adorable how I fail to find something in my bag and throw my hands up in exasperation, only not at that point in time but during the aftermath of the incident. Too many friends have too neat a bag that it unnerves me. The tissue holder goes to the right of the bag, the wallet to the left, the camera fits nicely behind the tissue holder and the makeup pouch lies horizontal and exactly perpendicular to the umbrella that’s stuck at 90 degrees. Where’s the fun of knowing exactly where everything is? Where’s the rush of adrenaline in wondering if you brought out something important? Where’s the famous movie action of starting to empty out your bag onto a side pavement in a bid to look for a ringing phone? A bag is an integral part in completing a look and the bag that would be the most used for me is the versatile carry-all that seems to fit right with any outfit.


Sofia Coppola’s collaboration with Louis Vuitton- the SC bag

And no, I am not doing an advertorial for it but I wish I am because then I get to own this gorgeous specimen of a bag which is everything I look for in a bag. In fact, the day I get to own it, I would hold it reverentially with my two hands and feast my eyes on the beauty and perfection of its leather texture and shapely curves with the discreet stamp of two defining words ‘Louis Vuitton’ imprinted delicately on it. Nothing about the SC bag would ever scream “Brand Whore!” to the masses like how its monogram counterparts would due to their over-popularity. Don’t get me wrong – there are times I actually like some of these repetitive designs but never have I felt sorely compelled to join in mass worship.


But I am now.

These pictures are great. It’s the Sofia Coppola’s lifestyle and how she uses her bag. What’s not to like about her?

When the work is done and she goes out to play,
she leaves the SC and brings the clutch instead.

All my love to this bag and the corresponding clutch, so beautiful and unattainable at SGD5,900 and SGD2,200 respectively.

Don’t show me if you are lucky enough to land on one of these … because I cannot promise not to resist the urge to snatch, run, hop on a bus and never come back.

Tuesday is now an unofficial gym day with some pals since they are avid gym-mers and I am like the tourist who lands for a day and drops by to do an one-time sightseeing. The good news is, I found out how therapeutic it is to exercise in a 10% occupied environment at 5 p.m. on a work day. I’ll work out just enough to head out when the crowd starts flooding in so I might be going more often. I know ‘might’ is a very non-commital term but .. I just might! For now, I’ll stick to once a week. I know a lot of people will gawk at the prospect of eating dinner after working out hard but I think different. I view the gym as a social playground where I get to meetup with some friends whom I don’t see on a regular basis. It is my one motivation to be able to sit down and enjoy dinner with friends after exercising some.

You see, the point is, I’ve gotten past the stage whereby I think I will actually lose weight if I go gym and once you get past that mental hurdle, the process becomes more enjoyable. You start thinking of exercising as a mean to improve your health. You no longer trigger the panic mode and visually assess the distance of that nearest traffic light when you encounter a gigantic overhead bridge you had to cross. You feel good about being able to climb that overhead bridge without fear and evade the telltale huffs and puffs and have your heart swelling like it would burst. Sure, it is a very small thing, small enough to be negligible but all big things start out small.

I did not run at a speed of 8.5 for an hour, neither did I ‘cycle’ through the terrains. I merely started with 25 crunches, climbed 5.46 km worth of steps, walked at a pace of 5.7 for half an hour next to my very fit friend (who did run at a constant speed of 8.5 for an hour), cycled leisurely while browsing through a copy of free Catalog magazine and did 15 minutes worth at those ‘running simulators’ (I have no idea what’s the name of those machines). It is really pretty mild in the eyes of the hardcore gymmers but I did not have to push myself hard to do them either. The next time I will do better.

How to motivate yourself to go back to the gym:

  • Understand the importance of the fashion and comfort level of your sports gear
  • Preferably have encouraging friends who are patient to your starting slow and not begrudge you for having dinner after
  • Fast music that makes you want to dance, run, hop, basically, to move along.
  • I was more resistant to going to the gym initially because I think I had a pair of aging running shoes that did not quite fit me in the fashionable way. It did not reflect the way of how I want to look (like those healthy models in Shape magazine) to the world. I have a beautiful Stella McCartney water bottle in the palest pink contrasted against grey to make it more striking, I have a pair of Puma sweatpants and a Nike shoe bag to match but the shoes, oh the shoes! They were my grief. I kept meaning to buy a new pair but then I procrastinated … and waited .. and grew lazier. That was till when I discovered Royal Sporting House had a “Swop Your Old Shoes” event (and sorry, it was over on the 8th of March). You can bring in your old shoes and get 25% off the next pair, not to mention that the old shoes will go towards a charitable cause. You get to be fashionable and kind at the same time!

    swop!

    I brought the old shoes that pinched my feet there without a word and painstakingly hunted for a pair of pink and grey shoes that would reflect me, my philosophy of life and all things that matter. After a tedious hunt and many disappointments later, I am a now proud owner of a pair. To its credit, I now go to the gym so as to admire my shoes while cycling. I am in favour of big tee-shirts and comfortable sweatpants because wearing anything else makes me self-conscious of my less-than-perfect body. The satisfaction level that you have with what you wear to the gym plays a part in you actually going there.

    Point 2 is totally self-explanatory. Avoid toxic friends at all cost. By toxic, I mean evil, calorie-obsessed friends because they make you acutely aware that whatever effort you’ve put in, you are not going to be able to match up. Even if you do match up, you will be unhappy.

    I found myself moving faster than my willpower usually tells me to by virtue of fast and catchy tunes. I am totally with the amazing Lady GaGa in this aspect. I will move (and very fast too) when you play “Just Dance”, “Paparazzi” or “Poker Face”.

    It goes without saying that the best proof of all this talk now is to see how long I can keep up with the regime but I have a gut feeling – I found the gym bunny in me.

    I’m angry at myself today. Even though he means nothing anymore but there was still a sour feeling when looking at her. I am so incredibly human still that I surprise myself in spite.

    On a hind note, I mean to enjoy myself tomorrow, it had been too much work lately that I am ready to call myself introvert. Then again, I always suspect that I am a closet introvert not that you’ll believe me. If only you can just take a look at the pile of books by my bedside. Chick lit counts too! I am a voracious reader. Rawr.

    I had so much fun on Valentines, it’s crazy. Thanks Love.

    And I can’t stop listening to Con Te Partirò.

    And I should stop rambling.

    I suspect you will never hear the end of this in days and months to come, in years to go but it has been decided that if the work trip does not materialize, I will end up taking the flight out into the world of old charm, the city of romance, the place where levels of Topshop will stack like legos instead of the miserly corners it occupies now in shopping centres in Singapore.

    I will unearth my berets from behind the wardrobe, all waiting sullenly in a box to see the light of day and show off cute little vests and wrap thick, warm-as-toast scarves around my neck. I will walk the Rose Line in the Da Vinci Code, organize a picnic in Hyde Park with a plaid mat and saunter proudly into Hotel Costes but in the meantime, I can only dream, listen to Edith Piaf’s rendition of “La Vie En Rose“, hum to the gay tune of “Aux Champs Elysées” and tighten the waist pouch (as if it is not). Every penny counts.


    Polaroid taken off this flickr

    Happy New Year to all and may good tidings come in your way.

    Despite the rest afforded by the Chinese New Year festive season, I still felt restless and a very big load of unsettlement weighing upon my chest. I was torn between the need for solitude and a desire to break free. Needless to say, even though the Year of Ox is supposed to be good for those born in the Year of Rooster, it did not start off exactly with the high note I hoped it would.

    I took vacation today, mainly because I wanted to sleep in and because I felt I needed a reprieve – to have some time to myself, doing the things I like and regaining my equilibrium. I was listening to music and twirling around in my room, I was watching “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and in the later part of the day, I was out shopping in a therapeutic fashion if you caught what I mean.

    I never really like Cate Blanchett till today. I always thought she was too oddly surreal-looking but in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button“, she can make twirls so beautifully as a dancer that now my heart leaned in her favour. And the chic dressing.

    For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit… start whenever you want… you can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that stop you. I hope you feel things that you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. — Benjamin Button

    And strangely after I heard this quote, I teared a little and felt a whole lot better. Even things seemed to take a turn for the better by themselves.

    And I found Love, in the form of a keychain, just like the one in the “Sex and the City” movie, to be like Louise – to remind myself to have faith. I am such a movie junkie.

    Louise and her Love