Dance Dance

Hello faithful patrons of my faithless, erratic blog!

Here’s to a wonderful Sunday afternoon whiled away in a Christmassy coffeehouse (oh you know the one) with toffee nut lattes heralding Christmas for some, Joy tea for others and yuletide muzak for all.

And then, (please don’t tell me I’m the only one) my favourite trick for wasting time in an upbeat mood – put on crazy LALALALAAHH dance music (it was Running on Sunshine by Jesus Jackson this time), slip on a gorgeous silk-OTT-gown which hasn’t had it’s coming out yet switch on the fan on full speed and DANCE!!!!

oh yeah. I’m bringing my christmas CD to work tomorrow.

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The Beholder as Artist

We would like to go and see the field that Millet…shows us in his Springtime, we would like Claude Monet to take us to Giverny, on the banks of the Seine, to that bend of the river which he hardly lets us distinguish through the morning mist. Yet in actual fact, it was the mere chance of a connection or family relation that gave…Millet or Monet occasion to pass or to stay nearby, and to choose to paint that road, that garden, that field, that bend in the river, rather than some other. What makes them appear other and more beautiful than the rest of the world is that they carry on them, like some elusive reflection, the impression they afforded to a genius, and which we might see wandering just as singularly and despotically across the submissive, indifferent face of all the landscapes he may have painted.

– Proust, preface to his translation of Ruskin’s Sesame and Lilies

Here, Proust admonishes the creative emptiness of hero worship; and here I faithfully reproduce his golden words, waist deep in irony.

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Cat

One of my many running lists of names is called “Names for my cat”, but since I don’t have a cat and won’t be having one in the forseeable future, this is very much a wishful thinking list. Cats are such elegant, haughty, mysterious creatures that I find them much funner to name than dogs. I have such names as Scheherazade, Carabosse, Odile…etc.

But I’ve found one to trump them all! Magnificat!!!!!!!!! Mag for short. Like it?

Henceforth all ages will called her Blessed.

Am going to be smote anytime now.

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Bus

I saw a bus that was majorelle blue this morning. No one aboard that bus might have known that it sported such a legendary hue much less paid any attention to the colour of the bus they were boarding but still, it made me smile.

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Reading the newspaper

‘That abominable and sensual act called reading the newspaper,’ wrote Proust, ‘thanks to which all the misfortunes and cataclysms in the universe over the last twenty-four hours, the battles which cost the lives of fifty thousand men, the murders, the strikes, the bankruptcies, the fires, the poisonings, the suicides, the divorces, the cruel emotions of statesmen and actors, are transformed for us, who don’t even care, into a morning treat, blending in wonderfully, in a particularly exciting and tonic way, with the recommended ingestion of a few sips of cafe au lait.’

– extract from How Proust Can Change Your Life, by Alain de Botton

Now if only everything he wrote was as succinctly insightful and humorous as this little blurb, I might muster up enough courage to dip my toes into In Search of Lost Time. Sylvia Townsend blames Proust’s translator on the lengthy tome but I’m not so sure myself.

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Masochism

I see myself now, coolly imagined, a cat coiled in a corner with waving tail and wary eyes- all ready to spring at the mailman when he comes round- WHERE IS MY EX LIBRIS!!!! I wants it. My precious!

Oooh sorry about the mixed metaphors one can’t help it in such a state of anxiety.

I am both excited and afraid to read it. Excited because I know I will love it, afraid because once I do, it will be over all too soon and my life, so elevated in that breathless time, will sink again into the quotidian.

Which is worse- to know you are going to love a book and turn its pages, faint with reverence and delight, then nearly sick with the knowledge that each page is one page closer to the end; or to not have known and read with amazement and then the guilt at the illicitness of finding something so intensely pleasurable.

I think I shoot myself in the foot really. But how can I prevent the pain from marring the pleasure? How can I not read and at the back of my head, worry- it is almost masochistic. Then when it is over, after the acknowledgements (which I read as well, every word), after I reluctantly close the cover and hold it, swimming with regret, how I envy all those whose souls are still oblivious to the pleasure that may be theirs for the taking! To have drunk from the cup of ecstasy and then be denied it- torture- yet we do it time and again without end.

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Pruning

Back in my pinafored days, my primary school teachers decided that allowing each class a small gardening trough outside our classrooms might cultivate in us, through the tending of plants, nurturing natures of our own. Shy, curious and rather prone to obsessions and personal projects even back then, I took to caring for the small trough with considerable elan. It suited me perfectly- I could carry out my mild agricultural experiments without any protest from my obliging subjects. These were mostly done during recess period after the clamour of students had subsided down the stairwells; in companionable silence, my fledgling lady’s finger plants watched as I mixed this and that into an old plastic container- crushed eggshells were a particular favourite due to the delightful crunchiness they lent to the mulch whilst their membraneous interiors looked appropriately nutritious.

Soon, those moments of calm would become one of the highlights of my young student life. Sometimes, one of my classmates would join me and we would pick happily at pestilent weeds, strip off dead leaves and bandage broken limbs with ice-cream sticks and raffia. Under the unrelenting tide of our attentions, what could our poor plants do but dutifully bear fruit and flower? These we steamed and ate with light soya sauce- I don’t believe I’d ever felt so ecstatic about slimy vegetables- and thus, my love affair with the plant was finally consummated.

Those nascent green longings have recently surfaced again- I find myself dragging mother and forbearing boyfriend on a crazy tree-hunting expedition in Singapore’s rural country; I find myself staring forlornly at pictures of beautiful golden raintrees on the web, abject in the knowledge that I may not tame nor contain their majesty in my modest garden. I now know, through the kind and learned instruction of online tutorials, how to prune trees with gentleness and minimal invasiveness- remove waterspouts, cross-branching and competing leads, cut after the branch collar or small potential side branches, angling away from the bud- always ensure that the natural shape of the tree is preserved, taking care that the tree has sufficient photosynthetic cover to produce food to support its growth.

This morning, in a burst of self-realisation, it dawned on me (on the MRT to work- inspiring place!) that my housekeeping style might be likened to that of gardening, or more accurately, pruning. My attitude towards mess can be quite adequately depicted as indulgent. However, when the mess starts assuming a life of its own (by this I don’t mean literally crawling with things– untidyness is not the same as dirtiness, may I caveat, and I cannot tolerate the latter), something within me unsheaths a gleaming pair of pruning shears and in a fevered spate of hyperproductivity and flashing metal, the hedges are renewed.

Who knew that gardening was such an instinctive trait? The hunt for a perfect tree continues. But in the meantime, it looks like the only pruning I’ll be doing will be inside my bedroom.

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