Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Scenic Route

Today I rode the bus. I haven't taken a long bus ride since I started driving 3 years ago. Every once in a while, I would take a 10 minute bus ride into town, a short, cool ride in off-peak hours, bypassing the crowds. Today I took a 45-minute ride, tracing an old bus route I used to be familiar with. But as the bus went through familiar roads, I realised the scenery has changed over the years. When you drive, you just want to get from point A to point B in the shortest time, trying to avoid traffic jams and the number of electronic toll points one would have to pass. Now the bus, it takes the scenic route, and how that scenery has changed...

The little coffeeshop selling that peppery pork rib soup I like, the Eurasian restaurant I always promised myself I would try buy but never did, the cake shop seducing customers with those famous and fattening, delicious durian puffs - they were still there, but they look different. Perhaps it was because I haven't visited in a long while, or perhaps the surrounding shops have changed, hence the familiar looks a little out of place, familiarly unfamiliar. New apartment blocks have sprouted up along the bus route, whole new condominium estates seem to have grown overnight, government housing spot new upgraded features. Things one would have never noticed if one were driving. Today I saw them.

Sometimes, in our haste to get from point A to point B using the shortest, easiest way, we overlook other options. Getting through life is pretty much the same, we can take the direct route or we can take the scenic route. Sometimes, taking a slower but more scenic route is not bad at all. Having said that, I'm looking forward to taking the scenic route, my bags are already packed.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

How Does One Say Good Bye?

How does one say good bye? Last night, logistical arrangements were discussed regarding the impending departure. Who picks whom up? Whose trunk has more space for my packed up old life? What time do we turn up? Who is going to cry at the airport? Finally, it was decided that we would all meet at my apartment after work, have dinner (last supper before I ride off into the sunset it seems) and then we'll all drive off to the airport where we'd say our fondest farewells and try to hold back the tears.

I hate farewells at the airport. Well, I hate farewells in general. The airport is not an unfamiliar place for me, but dashing off for a business trip doesn't warrant saying farewell, in fact no one sends me off on my numerous business trips in the past, nor picks me up for that matter. But saying good bye at the airport especially when you know you won't see that person(s) for a long time, is not easy for me. I'll try to hold it all in, I'll try really hard, but I know the chances of the water dam breaking, are pretty high. So avert your eyes, pretend you don't notice. Anyway "good bye" in Chinese means "see you again" and I know I'll definitely be seeing everyone again, some sooner than others, so I won't say "good bye", I'll say "see you again"...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"All by Myself" by Eric Carmen

This morning was exceptionally hard. Eric Carmen's "All by Myself" came on the radio. Now this song always gets to me, even in my chirpier moods, let alone now when I'm counting down the days to take off. It always succeeds in making me feel lonely. Loneliness is a dark feeling, I like being alone, I enjoy my own company and do plenty of activities on my own. But loneliness... now that's a feeling that no one enjoys. Some people deal with it better than others. I used to think that I deal with my occasional bouts of loneliness pretty well. Mostly because I seldom get lonely, and also because with some introspection and reflection, life doesn't seem that bad after all. But today was pretty tough.

Some people sink into a quagmire of loneliness and don't know how to or cannot get themselves out of it into a happier place. Depression probably follows soon after. In my case, I think it's a transitional stage and things will be looking brighter very soon. Especially when one has to look for an apartment, move in, set up the household, establish a routine - who has the time for loneliness?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In the beginning

A Bo-Bo Gal in Paddington

I read a newspaper report which states that mid life is 50. Being a good decade and a half away from mid life, I encountered my mid life crisis last year. I've had twinges of mid life discontent over the years, but in 2005, the crisis came full-blown. My dentist was trying to convince me to wear braces, with many people making that life (or rather bite) changing decision at 40. If I had weathered my insecure teenage years with bunny teeth, at 36, I am pretty confident I don't need braces to make me feel better about myself. So I told her there were other solutions to a mid life crisis, one could get a red sports car, find a new boyfriend, or as she recommended, wear braces. She had to concede she preferred my first 2 suggestions.

Hence my solution to my mid life crisis was after quitting my high-paying, non-self-actualising job in a large US conglomerate (now that wrong job match contributed a lot to the mid life crisis), I took a self-declared 3.5 month sabbatical. Well, that wasn't really a solution, it was just a hiatus which led to a lot of number-crunching (can I afford my mortgage?), internet research (what universities, which country and the accompanying climate "I'll suffer winter depression" and how bad the exchange rates are "I'll have to sell myself to fund this education") and soul searching ("If I wait till I turn 45, who's going to hire me with no relevant experience?"). The 2nd-career-in-the-Arts-earning-$2,000-per-month-at-45-plan became the-go-back-to-Art-School-at-36-plan. So here I am, a 36 year old bohemian bourgeoisie (who can't completely embrace the poor, starving artist lifestyle) packing up the remnants of my old life (corporate and personal) into 2 suitcases and venturing into a new life in Sydney in 9 days' time.

As I sit and enjoy the familiar surroundings from my apartment for the last few times, I think about the new life that I am about to embark on. Back to college with a bunch of 19 year-olds (biologically, I could be a mother of a 19 year-old *aargh*), trying to find a suitable apartment (with security and air-conditioning), juggling school (only 12 hours of official lessons a week, "but you'll have to do your own research and study, you know.") and a part-time job (security blanket of the familiar corporate world and some much-welcomed extra income). With mixed feelings, I wait...