Rose Garden

I’ve just come across the work of Rose Wong on the illustration blog Brown Paper Bag. Wong’s Consider Death show (last fall at Grumpy Bert in Brooklyn, New York) comprised pieces that feature lush greenery combined with stark, cold geometric shapes and lines. In some of these pictures there is a lone, faceless figure, a woman who seems to be in deep thought.

By Rose Wong (4)

In this article, Wong says that when she’s ‘sad or frustrated’ art makes her feel better, but that it isn’t easy to draw in those instances. I feel that way about writing, and instead of working on my stories, I usually end up staring at Pinterest boards, which is how I found Wong’s illustrations.

By Rose Wong (10)

Art has been a lifesaver for me. When I’ve felt the darkness pulling me in, when I’ve felt unable to tell myself apart from the black hole in my head and heart, the shapes and lines and colours and textures of art have given myself back to me again; have served as a climbing frame or stepping stones to safety.

I’m afraid my writing doesn’t serve that purpose. I need to be well to even contemplate entering my stories. But I feel I am very close to that place. I am getting there, word by word, line by line.

By Rose Wong (8)


I will never forget how people I’ve only known online (and some of them for not very long) have been so lovely, especially during my recent plunge into total despair.

Then there are family members who’ve not been able to spare a single kind word. Even with me telling them exactly what’s wrong and asking for help.

I once had to attend this workshop run by a self-help coach and he said that the good thing about being in trouble is that it forces you to ask for help. Apparently, asking for help (which we tend to find hard) leads to you realising how awesome people are – cos they will all rush to try to assist you. Yeah, people, but not family members. One family member has tried to help me and she’s the one who is really not in the position to do so. That seems to be quite a common thing – the ones who can be of assistance don’t want to know, but the ones who are struggling try their best. Gah!

Should I not judge? I don’t care. I’m going to totally do so, cos, honestly, I’m disappointed. So disappointed.

No Friends

I’ve just seen my friend Senthil. He lives in Singapore (he’s Malaysian), but is in KL for work meetings. I Miss him. If only he lived here. When we first met, back in 2007, he was here but he moved soon after. I think he’s the only friend I’ve made after turning forty whom I feel about the same as the ones I made in my teens or twenties. The sort I can take for granted and who take me for granted too, but in the best possible way.

I don’t feel like that about anyone in KL and I am no one’s go-to friend here. There isn’t a single person in this city who thinks of me as the first person to call when they are  happy or sad or angry or confused; or when they want to watch a movie or have a coffee or check out a new play. I don’t hang out doing nothing with anyone here. I am no one’s default person and no one is mine.

Is fifty too late to make that sort of friend? Maybe that’s why having a partner is important to me. Was important to me. I can’t rely on that anymore. I won’t. It’s a mistake to depend on a lover, even one supposedly bound to you legally, to safeguard your emotional well being.

Like Holy Wine

A Case of You

Just before our love got lost you said
“I am as constant as a northern star”
And I said “Constantly in the darkness
Where’s that at?
If you want me I’ll be in the bar”

On the back of a cartoon coaster
In the blue TV screen light
I drew a map of Canada
Oh Canada
With your face sketched on it twice
Oh you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
oh I would still be on my feet

Oh I am a lonely painter
I live in a box of paints
I’m frightened by the devil
And I’m drawn to those ones that ain’t afraid

I remember that time you told me you said
“Love is touching souls”
Surely you touched mine
‘Cause part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
Oh, you’re in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter and so sweet

Oh I could drink a case of you darling
And I would still be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

I met a woman
She had a mouth like yours
She knew your life
She knew your devils and your deeds
And she said
“Go to him, stay with him if you can
But be prepared to bleed”

Oh but you are in my blood
You’re my holy wine
You’re so bitter, bitter and so sweet

Oh, I could drink a case of you darling
Still I’d be on my feet
I would still be on my feet

© 1970; Joni Mitchell

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It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over …

… as the mediocre lyricist Lenny Kravitz once said.

I will be fifty tomorrow. My mother died when she was fifty six. If I were to follow suit, I have six years to make my mark or erase it. I have done both, simultaneously, for as long as I can remember.

I dreamt of a fresh start this year. It should have begun by now. But here I go again, feeling sorry for myself, wringing my hands and imagining the worst.

Has the worst already happen? Is it to come? Is it happening right now? Who can tell? In twenty years, if someone chooses to remember this time, if someone tells this story, they will be in a better position to judge. Perhaps the phone will ring tonight, and there will be good news. Perhaps we will overcome. Perhaps we will choose to have an adventure instead of believe we are doomed. People face and survive worse. Evey day.

So stop. Just stop.