Friday, March 31, 2006

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

Nothing like the smell of freshly cut grass and blooming flowers. It's flip flop weather soon. Please, please god of new seasons, put some spring on my weary step.

I can't wait to shed the jackets and cardis for flimsier clothing. But my biggest horror *gasp* *gasp* is that skinny jeans are back in fashion this season. Why can't anybody see that no one looks good in this except for Kate Moss? This is worst than the hideous carrot-cuts of yore. I will be sticking to my boot cuts, thank you very much.

Signed, Jane aka thunder thighs and fat-ass.

Monday, March 27, 2006

A Fiction Journey

"when you're in a bookshop with shelves and shelves of books, how do you know which one to pick up and start reading?"

In reply to Ekerhart's question which I have not forgotten; just taken forever to answer considering current travails, my answer is this.

For me, reading is a spiritual experience. This is because when I read, I am invited to another person's mindspace. I walk into a variety of lives and times, discover, learn and enjoy. Different books appealed to me at different ages. My earliest reading memories were those little fables (aesops I think?) that mom and I read together. And Dickens because my father loved him. I also remember spending my afternoons at the local library after school (on those days when there was no homework. Ah yes, gentler times then). I started with Enid Blyton, especially Five Find-outers, Secret Seven, The Faraway Tree (or something like that where pixies and gnomes sat down for scones and English tea. I used to wonder about all that while munching my karipap. I know Enid Blyton is not popular these days but she so-coloured my childhood). Then I moved on to more grown up ones like Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Every year, I used to write 'detective' in the career ambition slot that was required for the annual school record.

There were also the special books like Heidi, Black Beauty, Charlotte's Web, Chronicles of Narnia and always, always Anne of Green Gables who companied me through many years in true kindred-spirit fashion. I honestly think that it should be made compulsory for every little girl to read Anne. One day, I will go to Prince of Wales Island in Nova Scotia to pay homage to the red haired Anne Shirley.

When puberty hit, my shelves were filled with Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole, Judy Blume, Paul Zindel(I so looooveee the whole Pigman series). I also enjoyed adventure stuff as well like Count of Monte Cristo, Prisoner of Zenda and everything by Alexandre Dumas, translated ones nevertheless (all these swashbuckling adventures were my fathers influence).

At times books were my saviours. Between ages 15-18, I must admit with great embarrassment to have read at least 100 Mills and Boons. I remember M&B's being passed around and the giggly instructions to focus particularly on pages x and y which were the steamiest. This was such a highlight for us girls in our small town. I was the geek kid, too tall, too quiet and too studious. All the uber cool girls in school hung out at KFC (MacDonalds, the next-big-thing in teenage hangout places would only open its first outlet in my town when I was 18 or so). I, being a nerd, would look from afar at all this. I was never part of the 'cool gang' that enjoyed coke (drink not drug) at KFC. What more, I walked around in clothes my mom made for me. Can you imagine how utterly un-cool that was? M&B's came to the rescue during those years. All the brooding, muscular and good looking men always fell passionately in love with the mousy, plain jane (me! me!). I was a loner; pimply, frumpy and swishing in strange dreams. God knows those M&Bs saved my teenage years.

Later, I progressed to more mature romances: everything by Jane Austen, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Rebecca and Thornbirds. I have to also admit about the Danielle Steele (shudder) and Sydney Sheldon that happened around this time.

Some books choose you. I really believe that. This is because some books fall on my lap at the most appropriate times. Like Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey. I read D.H.Lawrence's Sons and Lovers when I was 21. Just the right age when I was looking to be consumed by blinding, writhing passion. I wanted to be like Miriam. I wanted to have fallen in love madly and perseversly enjoy a broken heart. If I were to read it now, I would still enjoy Lawrence's prose but would never relate to Miriam the way I did then.

Along the years, I there have been so many intimate encounters.
Books that have made me cry: A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (of hopelessness and hope), The Glass Menagerie by Tenessee Williams (of manufacturing illusions) and the ultimate cry-fest, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (the latter two being plays).

Books that made me depressed: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Why did Latha marry the shoemaker of all people? The God of Small Things. I know its fashionable to pan this book but I don't think anybody has ever explored children's voices the way Arundhati Roy did. Everything by Virginia Woolf (ha, ha....if you are feeling happy, just read To the will start making you wallow in sadness). Everything by K.S.Maniam who explores hypenated Malaysian identities with such pain.

Books that made me gape in awe: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe for its grand simplicity. Anna Karenina by Tolstoy for its sweeping majesty. The Potrait of the Artist as Young Man by James Joyce. I still feel that I know too much about Stephan Dedalus and his bed wetting habit. And Lolita for being the work of a master wordsmith.

The rainy day books. On particularly cold miserable days, I want to snuggle up with some flighty varieties, ones who never take life seriously like Jeeves the butler and those crazy people in Malgudi. Or macabre according to mood which P.D.James satiates.

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed about all the books that I have to read. New titles keep popping by the second. The Guardian Book Review, the Times Literary Supplement and London Review of Books tend to highlight latest must-haves.

Thank you Ekerhart. For asking. I wouldn't have recounted the books that were weaved along my growing up years otherwise. The other books that made a rend in my mind were listed here.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Of Birthdays and Virtual Realities

Finally. I feel that I can breathe again. Kinda nice to be missed. I am so touched.

It's my best friend's birthday today. Happy birthday V darling. I remember the first time we met. She was sitting in front of me, dozing off at the introductory lecture on our first day in law school. She's a hotshot lawyer now while I spend my working hours walking around in my socks and jammies. Still, she is the one person (apart from my sisters) who will genuinely tell me that my ass looked big in a particular dress, listen to my tirades and will tag along for my teh tarik highs, no questions asked.

She doesn't really know about this blog so won't get this greeting. I have so far tried to keep my virtual life distinct from the real one. But sometimes I wonder which is which. My so-called 'real' life is mired in so much angst. Jane Sunshine keeps my sanity intact in such instances. Last night for example, Jane Sunshine emerged and insisted that I skive. You see, three lovelies had called with an impromptu invitation that she join them for Malaysian food at Mawar, fabulous company included of course. The sambal and laughters galore made her feel all warm and fuzzy to be sure.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Work (Again)

V.Stressed. Jane Sunshine all grouchy and monosyllabic. Why do 25 million things happen at the same time? In view of this, I am going AWOL for a bit.