Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sleepless across the continent

When you receive tickets for your next business trip, don't bother bringing that shopping list with you.

Business trip; biznis trip:
A deliberate or systematic infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more organizations in an attempt to gather corporations or individuals for a social act of assembling for some common purpose. Hectic schedules involve checking in and out from hotel to hotel and flying from city to city across 10 states as well as attending endless meetings from 7.30am to 6.00pm before rushing to catch the 8.40pm flight to the next city only to be delayed to the 10.15pm flight.

Other than that, it was great fun. Fun being the part where you get to meet people and dine at the best Italian restaurants at the expense of others.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The elevator

Today was a tad slow. Nothing interesting ever happens so I couldn't have been happier when 1 o'clock came. I rush out my office to the elevator, already listing possible dishes I could have for lunch.

The elevator finally stops at my floor. The door swings open and in there stands THE Big Big Boss and the Big Boss (and some other guy).

Great. I reluctantly step inside, trying my best to act invisible. Awkwardly, I stand in between BBB and BB while they speak to each other and Guy 1. All the while I was hoping nobody would realize I was there and ask me a question. Or worse, my tummy would growl.

We stop at a floor below and BB gets out. The elevator door barely closes when THE BBB suddenly catches me off guard.

"Hah, Yazmin! How's the share market today?"
Shitshitshit. "Uh.."
"Yazmin is one of our officers," BBB cuts me off to introduce me to Guy 1. "She studied computers at CMU," he continues.
What the heck is the market price at again???
Guy 1 looks at me and holds out his hand and I grab it in relief. Anything to get out of answering BBB's share market question.
"Hi, I'm Chewbacca from K." It probably wasn't, but I wasn't paying attention.
"Yazmin." (Still gripping his hand.) RM11.50?
"Nice to meet you." Shake, shake, shake. Come on 2nd floor....RM11.60?
"Ah, here's my floor!" says BBB. "OK then Chewbacca..." Gogogogogo!
I can almost smell sweet, sweet freedom. The elevator door bumps into BBB a couple of times since he's standing between the opening. I can't believe my luck.
"I'll see you later," he tells us, and says something that makes Chewy laugh.
I laugh along. Yay! I'm freeee......

"So... Yazmin... how is the share market now?"
**&$$#@#*!! Are you kidding me???
"It's unchanged at RM11.60, sir. Still the same," I say with such confidence I almost believed I was good at my job.
"Ah good, good. OK then. Bye!"

The doors finally close. And I'm left with Chewy feeling shaken.

And shamelessly impressed.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Morning traffic

8.00am is too early to be at work.

It takes a conscious effort to be on time, even when it's unnecessary since I always wake up before my alarm rings. As soon as I do, my mind creates mental blocks of time that I use to gauge my efficiency. If I'm able to pray and shower by 6.15am, then I'm too early and can take my time putting on make up. If I'm done showering and I head to my parents' room to primp (they have a nice big mirror) and dad is already home from the masjid, then I better buck up and might have to compromise my... no.. just kidding... there's no compromising with the make up bit. I have to look hot.

If I'm done on time, then I should be out of the house by 6.45am. I have to be at the first toll by 7.02am, and failure to do that will result in a 120km/j spree all the way to Sg. Besi. Depending on the weather and the density of morons on the road that day, my speed will vary - rainy days see me under the law doing a 90km/j or less.

Hell begins after Sg. Besi. And here's when I start my monologues - creating dialogs I'd have with people who cut in front of me, imagining I'm a kick-ass driver who'd swerve in and out of lanes without a single scratch, thanking the audience at my first rock concert with whoever's playing on the radio, etc etc. If you see me talking in the car, it's not a conversation on a bluetooth cell phone.

It's pretty much Snail City from there, and as long as it's 7.16am just after the eyewear billboard on my left with Amber Chia pouting at grumpy motorists, then I should be fine. If it's past 7.16am, then it'll be a bad day and I'll start thinking of excuses as to why I was late: car broke down? Road block looking for a gang of illegal Thai thugs? Motorcycle skidded in front of me so I had to stop and help him to his feet? Dog ate my car?

NPE is my lover. After fighting traffic all morning and shifting my foot from the accelerator to the brakes nine gajillion times, I actually light up when I see Exit 10. I always speak fondly of NPE even though it costs me RM3.20 everyday just going to and fro. And the best part is, the long stretch of road in front is sparse and I could do zig-zags across all three lanes at 100km/j. I could. But I'm a square, so the craziest thing I've done is go over 100km/j and already feel badass. Who's "Malaysia's Most Wanted" now, punk?

After all the fretting and excuses planned for the day, I always discover myself in the office compound by 7.45am. I could walk to my office backwards and blindfolded and still be early. But somehow it's rewarding to just arrive to an empty office and make it on time when you feel you're almost beaten. It's like mocking the system for making us all get to work by 8.00am against our will and shoving our timecards up their faces. If they thought they could make me late by making office hours start early, they were wrong.

Ah, revenge is sweet.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Derek's damn dog

I watched two hours of Grey's Anatomy last night, all the while wiping away tears that were rolling down my face. I rarely get attached to fictional characters, but I have a weakness of crying at the minutest show of emotions. I cried watching Pinocchio. So you can imagine how I looked like the morning after watching Armageddon (a.k.a The Sob Fest).

In this particular episode, Meredith and Derek have to put their dog, Doc, to sleep since he's already dying of cancer. Meredith starts crying and it could be because Doc is the only link between her and Derek, or it could be because she loved that dog, or it could be both. At this point, I'm not sure if I was sad for the dog or for the loss that Meredith felt (at her failed relationship and/or the death of the dog). It certainly felt like I was crying because of Derek, though. However, it didn't matter since I was already fighting back tears when they arrived at Finn's (the vet and also Meredith's current love interest) way before the emotional roller coaster took place on the screen.

So how strong of a grip does this show, or any other show for that matter, have on me anyway? Without even knowing what it's like to really love somebody, I could feel Meredith's pain. And I don't even like dogs, yet I cried when Doc died. And Derek - don't get me started on McDreamy - I certainly feel I could love him too.

It's mind over matter, and emotion over mind. Ask me if I know what it feels like to stand at the edge of a cliff, or smoke a cigar, or jump off a plane, or be bitten by a snake and I'd be able to say I know what it feels like with a straight face. Not that I'm lying. I've dreamt them so many times I swear I know how the adrenaline will rush into all faculties of my body, how the warmth of the smoke will feel as it escapes my lips and how the snake bite will sting and numb my legs. I also know what it feels like to fly. Spookesville.

Hollywood thrives on artificial emotions - as I'll call it - and as long as they manage to make me cry, love, hate, hide behind a pillow (I'm a scaredy-cat but I love the thrills of watching ghost stories, even if it's with one eye half open and both ears closed), I'll be on the couch devouring all they can bring to me on the screen.

And to Derek... I think he should just divorce Addison and stop having to worry about being loyal to her since we all know he loves me Meredith by a mile. But even if he doesn't, at least I'll have the guilty pleasure of crying over his damn dog.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The blind date

The last date I had been on was sometime in August of 2005. It was a casual trip to Starbucks... chatting, sipping overpriced coffee, and just enjoying the company of the person opposite me.

This time, I had no idea who the guy was, what he looked like, where he lived or where he worked. It was like picking a name from a random page out of a telephone directory (except the directory would've provided me with a surname as well). If it wasn't for the persistent nudge of a mutual friend, I would have turned it down and gone for the world record of not having been on a date for a hundred years.

Dating is pretty much like learning to drive a manual car: you never really forget how to do it, but you still need to get used to the whole thing and remember the basics - clutch, gas, brakes, side mirrors, blinkers etc. It's a true test to multitasking and its the same with dates: you need to remember all the codes to appear well-mannered and charming, and at the same time think fast in order to react correctly in response to your date.

It can be painful since it's not easy to act dainty while stuffing food down your throat, and all the more awkward that he may ask a question just as you've put some grub in your mouth, allowing him full view of the faces you make while you try to chew your food and still try to look pretty. It's harder still that you have to make an extra conscious effort to keep your food securely in your mouth as you laugh unexpectedly at a joke and not to let bits fly out and land awkwardly on the table (by the way, never happened).

I've made a strict rule of never having croissant on a first date (the crusts will stick to your lipstick and have you look like an idiot trying to lick it off in the most un-sexy way) or have anything soupy (it might splash and you might slurp) or even any form of mee or spaghetti (how on earth do you eat this?!). On a lunch I had with an acquaintance for the first time, I had ordered Aglio Olio. No matter how I cut the spaghetti (I was told you cross your fork and spoon at the center of the mound of spaghetti and slice the whole thing so they're cut into shorter pieces) I still had long pieces of it dangling off my fork. And even when they were short enough, it was pretty horrible trying to suck in the dangling remains into my mouth in the most polite manner. I ended up telling my acquaintance (who happened to be very understanding and a fun company) that I always had trouble eating in front of people I've met for the first time. I finally packed the lunch and gorged it down in the privacy of my own office.

That said, this time I actually managed to preserve my dignity on my first blind date. It went well and admittedly, the guy was cute. Throwing all caution out the window, I ordered a complex meal (chicken, fries, salad.. all with tendencies to stick to your teeth) and yet had a wonderful time. It had been so long since I'd gone out with a guy that it felt good again for once.

I won't say for sure that I'll ever do blind dates again, but I do know enough to never say never. The mystery and anticipation of meeting a person you've never met can be very refreshing (granted he doesn't turn out to be any degree of a psycho... I've crossed paths with mild ones before but that deserves another entry all its own).

The nature of dates, while some may feel is overrated, is simple. And I've broken it all down to this: a girl needs a male companion, and even if it's just one date, it can mean the world.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Old flames rekindled...

I first fell in love with Polaroids back in 2003 while watching "Almost Famous". At the time I was already an SLR enthusiast and was dabbling with black & white photography, spending my weekends in the darkroom developing pictures and rashes from the chemicals. It was rewarding and a somewhat omnipotent feeling of having complete control over my pictures. But somehow, watching Kate Hudson's character snapping away in the tour bus, with the sweet sound of the film sliding through the slot, and the magical instant the pictures develop from grey nothingness to vivid life, I immediately fell in love.

Since I returned home 2 years ago, I have shelved my One600 and not picked it up for the main reason that I didn't want to waste the triple pack of 10s I had. I used to buy pack of 3s at WalMart for USD30 and back then (when I didn't convert dollars into Ringgit) it felt cheap.

Now, after watching "Crazy/Beautiful" last week, my love for Polaroids was rekindled.

All that's left in my way is the fact that a packet of 10s cost around RM45 which roughly translates to RM4.50 per picture (which is around 4.5 times more expensive than buying a roll of your average 36exp 35mm film, having it developed and paying for service charge. Also about the price of a decent meal at my office canteen, to put things into perspective).

However, the weekend spent fooling around taking pictures with my sister using my expired Polaroid film was reason enough that Polaroids work the magic like no other camera.

Some pictures taken back in the day...
(l-r): my study in Fairfax Apartments, view of the UC from The Cut, cathedral next to Webster Hall