Wednesday, September 21, 2005

I Am That Guy

I am the blogger that started blogging as an intllectual experiment, and continued blogging because it must be done.

I am the child who shattered the glass doors of our brand new radio set. I am the child who destroyed our main sliding doors, also made of glass. I am the child who got his hands tied up by rafia string. I am the child that slipped those bonds and proceeded to destroy yet another household item in the process.

I am the brother who is forever guilty of all the blessings I have that my brother does not. I am the son who is forever angry at the lies my parents told me for my own good, and yet still love them very much. I am the husband that often feels inadequate because he can't promise anything in his future for his wife.

I am the driver that drove drove down the wrong side of a road at 2 a.m at night, until my passengers screamed.

I was the Christian that left church because of accusations that I was a Satan worshipper. I was the Christian that could not believe my buddist parents would go to Hell. I am the Christian that could not believe that Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter are works of the Devil. I am the Christian that could not believe God was so heartless to allow men to rule the Church.

I am the soldier that thought he was going to die. I am the soldier that thought he was going to get charged. I am the soldier that somehow muddled through all that without a scratch.

I am the ACS boy who spoke mandarin, plays the chinese flute and watched mandarin serials. I was the ACS boy that all other boys picked on. I am the man who never understood to this day why boys can be so cruel to each other, and yet is so very appreciative of the strength that these experiences have given me.

I am the stuttering debator, the actor doomed for supporting roles, the dysgraphic writer, the singer that does not read music. I am the flawed artist, the incomplete creator, so grateful for every opportunity to create.

I am that guy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tagged. I'm it. Again.

Since I got tagged twice by Dawn and Gloria, I will attempt to finish this 20 questions in less than 1 minute so that I can not tag anyone at all.

20 Random Facts about yourself.

1. I've been RPing for 22 years
2. I started with D&D and moved on to Marvel Super Heroes.
3. FPS games give me vertigo.
4. Heights give me vertigo.
5. I'm now into my fifth collection of game dice.
6. I've painted exactly one miniature in my life.
7. I play the chinese flute.
8. I read notes in numbers - a result from playing the chinese flute.
9. Reading notes in numbers ensured a short a capella career for me.
10. I almost joined Singapore Idol.
11. The reason I didn't join was because I knew I was going to be in California soon.
12. I detest giant robots.
13. Except Transformers. Transformers are cool.
14. I have over 20 teddy bears.
15. I have over 5 seperate colonies of teddy bears.
16. I can sing almost any 80's cartoon theme song, word for word.
17. One of my favourite songs happens to be the theme song for the sitcom, "Growing Pains".
18. I can't take Mary-Kay and Ashley Olsen seriously cos I remember them from the time they were babies in "Just the Ten of Us."
19. Dysfunctional people fascinate me.
20. I can swear in 5 different languages.

Darn. 2 minutes. I tag Edward Yong and Slinky.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Freedom of Speech

The beauty of freedom of speech is that, even if you say exactly the same thing that you would say without freedom of speech, what you say becomes that much more significant.

There are tons of subjects I could write on. Seditious bloggers. Comparisons with US and Singapore law. More whining about living in the States and how expensive it is. Today will be no whining, no commentary, no intellectual discourse. Yes, these things matter to me, but there's one thing above all that matters most.

On this day, a year ago, we threw a great big party, knelt a lot before relatives I rarely met, and had a grand old time.

Fast forward a year from now. My wife and I just shared a wonderful, home-cooked dinner (wonderful, because I made it) of cream pasta, and blackberry pie. We toasted each other in our coffee mugs of water, ate off metal and pyrex plates and rickety Dollar Shop cutlery. I couldn't be more grateful. We've kept our promises to each other.

Of all the things that I could say, this is the most significant.

"Happy 1st Anniversary, dear."

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Future is not Future-Proof

During lunch on Thursday, I had a chat with one of my LLM classmates. She asked me what I was doing in Santa Clara when I didn't have (i) a scholarship and (ii) sponsorship for my degree.

In my head there was only one answer. "My future."

That would have been the simple and misleading answer - it would have raised assumptions that I was here to improve my career prospects, and I'm not -solely- here to advance my career.

I told her as much of the story as I felt I needed to. I told her about my wife coming here for 5 years. I told her that leaving her for 5 years was unthinkable. I told her that it was a small sacrifice to leave my job and come here to improve myself. I told her about how I was here on savings and family money, and how I needed to ration my money. I told her about how guilty I felt about taking family money, and how important it was for me to do well in school. I told her all this and I realise now that this was still misleading.

I can't tell her the full story, because I'm not sure I know the full story - and it's my story to boot.

My wife is here for 5 years. That's the only constant I have for the next 5 years. If I am truly as future oriented as Mr Wang makes Ennegram 5 types out to be, I should not, rationally, have made this trip. Yet, here I am. I don't know what is going to happen after my LLM ends.

Yet, it is the future-orientation that drove me to this decision - when loved ones are apart, they grow apart. It is natural. They lack shared experiences. I cannot imagine being apart from my wife for 5 years. She will be a different woman when she returns. I will be a different man.

My wife had a wonderful opportunity to do what she wanted in Berkeley. She would have been foolish to turn it down, and I know that if she turned it down it would have affected our relationship - I know she wouldn't blame me, but I would blame myself for causing her to miss this chance. It was for her future that I am here. It was for our future that I am here. But what about my future? What am I to do here?

I often overstate my case when I say I sacrificed a promising career in law to be with my wife. The truth is probably that I sacrificed a career in law to be with my wife - the way I see it, there is nothing promising left about legal practice in Singapore. The market has played itself out. Sure, there will be adjustments over the long term, but these adjustments, logically, affect those without the wealth and power to protect themselves, i.e, young lawyers like myself.

In short, I've seen my future in Singapore legal practice, and I do not like it.

I have, in effect, only one choice left - wipe the slate clean, and see what other possibilities I can develop. That decision was what lead me here. I did not like my future, and I've done what I can to change it. In many ways, I'm -still- doing what I can to change it.

I now count pennies to make sure that my money lasts - I am afraid that spending on luxuries now will mean not having money for rent and food later. I wake up early mornings and commute from Berkeley to Santa Clara - 98 miles there and back daily. I read my cases. I study, and return home to cook, clean and sleep. I'd like to tell myself I'm studying hard, and my classmates are impressed with my dilligence, but I always feel like I should be doing more. I know I goof off to blog, comment, and play computer games.

I don't know what will happen to me in a year's time. That's the scariest thing that I've ever done. In a year's time, if I don't get a job, it will mean choosing between leaving my wife and taking more family money to continue studies. Either way, I will have lost on my own terms.

Perhaps that is what drives me now - not knowing what the future will bring. This drive, this bundle of love/guilt/hope, this feeling and knowing in your heart that tomorrow will bring something better, this small prayer that I'm not just in self-denial, that's what drives me.

My future.