Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Perfect Christmas Tree

I recently managed to retrieve the data from my very first laptop, the one I bought as a student in the States, which promptly died upon my return here. Pretty much everything that I created during my study was there - pictures of my vacation and field trip, music collection, my old blog entries, my college essays and homework. These had been lost for the past five years, as I did not make any backup. I had lost hope to actually see any of them again, so I was extremely happy when I finally managed to take out the memory and convert it into an external drive by myself, and that it works! Oh, it was like meeting an old, close friend. So many memories!

The damage done to my laptop. It was so old that the screws pretty much welded themselves to the body. I had to forcefully pried the memory out.

Among the treasure found were pictures taken during Thanksgiving. A friend from Brown brought me home to spend the festive season with her family, and since Christmas was only a few days away, we went out for Christmas tree hunting. I was in awe pretty much the whole process, since that was the first (and only time, so far!) I actually be in the midst of Christmas preparation. We all piled up, nicely bundled in our warm jackets, into the family's car and drove our way to a farm. It was a beautiful place of rolling hills dotted with Christmas trees - though I had no idea what type of trees they are.

Basically you just walked around the farm to choose your tree. There are several type of trees and different sizes to choose from. Once you find your perfect tree, you cut it down yourself with a handsaw. This part was not fun - hahaha. It was cold, and trying to saw a hard tree trunk using a tiny handsaw with a thickly gloved hand: it got pretty hard.

I just love this picture perfect farm house.

The search for the perfect tree began!

Getting down and dirty to saw down the tree.

Hasil tangkapan. Such a cute tree! Just like the girl next to it, eh?

We paid for the tree, hauled it on top of the car, tied it over the roof and drove back home. That night, my friend's mom brought out boxes filled with Christmas light and decorations and I helped them to decorate the trees. Some of the decorations had their own stories and histories - handmade by the kids, a gift from the family, and so on - and they reminisced over the stories as we hanged up the decorations one by one. The living room was lightly perfumed by the sweet, fresh smell of the tree, and with candlelight flickering at the window, I could see how the whole moment is a cherished family time, much like when we are preparing for our Raya.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: The Lover's Dictionary

basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you're in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn't pass, that's it - you're done. And if the moment does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it's even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover's face.

Ah, that tumultuous tempest of being in love. Or out of love. The book is not saccharine sweet; instead, it has that intimate, beautiful – sometimes brutal - honesty that every relationship endures. Nicely capturing the ups and down, the exquisiteness and agony of falling in love, the book was set up as a dictionary entry, each word is defined via the experience of an unnamed protagonist. Much like a dictionary, I did not read this book from page One to the next in orderly fashion. Rather, I picked up a random page, and hopped my way through, going back and forth, at my own leisure. Instead of being constructed as a fully-developed novel, this book is a snippet, almost like a book of quotes (at times I do feel robbed because there is only one line on one whole page! I like my pages bursting with words). I love the poetic nuance of the writing and find the book fascinating and enduring, one that will cause a person to pause and reflect, about life and love.

Sample of the entries:

corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.

dumbfounded, adj.
And still, for all the jealousy, all the doubt, sometimes I will be struck with a kind of awe that we’re together. That someone like me could find someone like you - it renders me wordless. Because surely words would conspire against such luck, would protest the unlikelihood of such a turn of events.

stanchion, n.
I don’t want to be the strong one, but I don’t want to be the weak one, either. Why does it feel like it’s always one or the other? When we embrace, one of us is always holding the other a little tighter.

misgivings, n.
Last night, I got up the courage to ask you if you regretted us.
"There are things I miss," you said. "But if I didn't have you, I'd miss more."

abyss, n.
There are times when I doubt everything. When I regret everything you’ve taken from me, everything I’ve given you, and the waste of all the time I’ve spent on us.

antiperspirant, adj.
“There is no common sense in smelling like baking powder,” I said.

“Baking soda,” you corrected.

“So if I want to make a pound cake, I can throw some butter, flour, and sugar into your armpit…."

“Why are we having this conversation? Remind me again?”

“You no longer smell the yeasty goodness that you apply under your arms, because you are completely used to it. I, however, feel like I am dating a Whole Foods.”

“Fine,” you said.

I was surprised. “Fine?”

“Let the record show, I have stepped onto the slippery slope of compromise in the name of promoting peace and harmony. There will be a ceremonial burning of the deodorant in ten minutes. I hope it’s flammable.”

“It’s just that I really hate it,” I told you.

“Well, I hate your toe hair.”

“I’ll wear socks,” I promised. “All the time. Even in the shower.”

“Just be warned,” you said. “Someday you’ll ask me to give up something I really love, and then it’s going to get ugly.”

I teetered on the edge of another joke. Then I pulled myself back. I told you if you said you really loved something, I would never ask you to give it up.

Really, I had only meant to bring up the deodorant. You never can tell where the small things will lead.

livid, adj.
Fuck you for cheating on me. Fuck you for reducing it to the word cheating. As if this were a card game, and you sneaked a look at my hand. Who came up with the term cheating, anyway? A cheater, I imagine. Someone who thought liar was too harsh. Someone who thought devastator was too emotional. The same person who thought, oops, he’d gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Fuck you. This isn’t about slipping yourself an extra twenty dollars of Monopoly money. These are our lives. You went and broke our lives. You are so much worse than a cheater. You killed something. And you killed it when its back was turned.

(hehe, okay, kids. Sorry for the F-bomb in the last one. To re-write it any other way, well, it won't be as 'livid' anymore)