Tuesday, November 5, 2013

This compulsiveness of hers

She wishes she has one of those personalities that do not have to give a second thought before she sets her heart and full attention into making something transpire. It's a personality that may be interpreted as being impulsive, one that is easily swayed by and acts upon emotions, a personality that is dangerous. But she has been living compulsively for most of her life, obsessing over the tiniest details of things and allowing them to cause her great agitation, letting an isolated thought run amok in her head so that it can drive endless identical circles in her mind. To live compulsively, she's coming to know, is more dangerous than to live impulsively.

Impulsiveness may cause her regret over taking the wrong course of action, but compulsiveness has caused her greater regret, for chewing on the choices presented to her for far too long but never making a decision or taking an action. Impulsiveness is too careless, but compulsiveness has made her too careful. Impulsiveness makes too many wrong moves, but in the process, maybe a good helping of the right ones too. Compulsiveness, on the other hand, has her spending too much energy deliberating on the same calculated move. Impulsiveness is capable of driving others around her crazy. But compulsiveness, it has driven others and herself bonkers.

She should have been an impulsive person instead of one plagued by compulsiveness. Then again, it's not like she was ever presented a choice on a gold platter at birth. The danger of her compulsiveness, she notices with a tinge of regret, is that it has caused her to put more life into her thoughts than her actions. Her mind has churned out more to-do lists and resolutions than ten persons can begin doing in a lifetime. She has uprooted so many would-be projects because her mind had convinced her that one or two or three ingredients were lacking in the recipe of success. She has even gotten bored of a new craft before its time for a test run, because she has put so much thought into the preparation, any more thought on it after that was just nauseous.

She thinks compulsively, and resigns to a final thought that her reality will never catch up with her neurotic imagination.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My story, but not mine only to write

Desires of my heart yearned to be heard,
So on its pages I wrote my own story,
And hoped that it would mirror Yours for me.
But on its way to a happy ending,
My plot lost its way,
Disintegrating a little more each day into greater dismay.
Like a promising idea gone ugly,
Toils of emotion burdened the spirit,
And the more I adjusted the sails,
The greater my plight in the storm became.

One day, 
I decided it's okay to lose control
Of a story so precious to me,
and released all that were secured in my hands.
In losing hope for my own creation,
Of my own prose and diction,
You fill my pages with breathtaking words
Beyond my comprehension,
And in that crafts a beautiful development of my life -
One still very much in the making.

I close this chapter in my heart,
And I wait on You to write the next.
Because, in all of this,
I've learnt no greater lesson
Than the peace found in trusting my ultimate Author.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Cuts so deep,
The blood flows out,
Triggered a thousand times,
Against flesh whose mouth will betray no one.
Silence screams too loud,
Deafening me and no one else;
Ears covered to stop hearing,
Only to trap the sickening wonder.

If I will the world to bring you back,
Will you return?
Depths of abyss have I fallen into,
In search of one I will never spot in darkness.
Little did I think this day would come,
When hopes would be dashed thrice too many,
But reality cares nothing for knowledge -
It alarms like a drum temperamental in its beating. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

soap bubbles

delightful you are,
like little soap bubbles that make their way up in the air.
amusing to watch,
but so transient in existence.

as present as you are for a second,
gone you are in the next,
never to be felt again.

fleeting moments, fleeting life.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Irrational

I saw a quote on Pinterest that says "Worry is a misuse of imagination". I can't agree more. I abuse my imagination like that every day, so I should know.

But worry is not the worst of the abuse. I think fear is an even more intense exercise of one's imagination in the wrong way. I'll make do with American Heritage dictionary's definition of fear: A very unpleasant or disturbing feeling caused by the presence or imminence of danger. It sounds perfectly logical to be disturbed by things that are potentially dangerous to one's life. Problem is, the things that we fear are many times not even a threat to our safety or well being. Quite randomly, I think the worst kind of fear a person can have is a fear of leaves. How is he suppose to live a life that doesn't involve screaming or breaking into cold sweats upon coming face-to-face with a large potted plant in his dentist's office?

via flickr
Fear is, in most occasions, irrational. People get scared of maggots, but maggots don't harm people. On the flip side, they're helpful little things that doctors employ to eat dead cells off the wounds and ulcers of patients. But the irrationality of this fear is common enough among us to be given a proper name: scoleciphobia - the fear of worms, although maggots are in actuality insect larvae and not true worms (a whole other kind of argument for another day).

But worms and maggots are squeamish-looking, so everyone (except the very passionate helminthologists - worm scientists) understands if you cringe at the sight of it.

In case you think having a fear of plants is absurd, like I do, a person with this phobia is officially called a botanophobe. So yes, such people exist. I shouldn't have laughed at these poor souls though, as I too have my own breed of fear, birthed out of an experience at a crocodile farm more than a decade ago.

Although I was too little to have a proper memory of my age at that time or where in Malaysia the farm was situated, I can still recall most vividly the event that would cause my fear in the years to come (or likely, forever). I even remember I was wearing a little red dress. It was vacation time, and my family was looking at some crocodiles in a concrete enclosure. Because I was once short, I stood on my toes, with body leaning against the low wall and hands gripping the top of the concrete, in order to get a better view of the huge reptiles. I was in that position for a few minutes.

Nothing much happened. If you were at the crocodile farm, you would conclude too that crocodiles on a lazy afternoon are about as animated as the rocks they sunbathe on. And for the record, I am not insulting the crocodiles. Historical monuments have always captivated large audiences, and the never have to move.

I digress.

Anyway, I eventually retired from my position of observation. I stepped away from the wall, looked down and started crying in horror when I noticed large ants scrambling about on my red dress. My mom jumped into action and swept the ants away with her bare hands before they could take my life, but since that moment, I have feared ants irrationally.

On second thought, it's not all that irrational. I have another encounter that proved ants a danger. It was an evening like any other mundane ones. I was walking when I felt something crawl on my left toe. I looked down and spotted a big ant. I screamed, of course. By the time I was done screeching and had flung the stupid little thing out of my way, it had left its indelible mark on me. I was bitten, and I had a swollen red (and very itchy) toe for two weeks to prove it.

On a different occasion, hunger pang struck me in the middle of the night. I used to adore rice crackers, and I knew where they were stored at home. While the rest of the family was getting ready for bed upstairs, I sneaked into the dark pantry, where clever me found some rice crackers in a container. As I unscrewed the lid and carried the container in my arm to the lighted kitchen, I discovered A LOT of ants all over the food, and obviously by then, on my hands and a generous few on my pajamas too. Since I wasn't supposed to be caught eating rice crackers after bedtime, I suppressed the scream. But that night, I held on more animosity against the ant species. It was like the purpose of their existence in the food container was to catch me in my little crime. Killjoys.

I stopped eating rice crackers for months after that. I don't eat many rice crackers these days either, but that's more out of a fear of becoming fat than a fear of what would creep up from among the crackers.

My fear of ants has mellowed over the years, but that does not mean I have stopped being overly cautious of them. I still scan the ground or curbs very carefully for any sort of ants before I would willingly set my butt on it. I get goosebumps when I see ants. Any piece of food that is seen to have been touched by an ant only belongs to the dustbin and should NEVER be consumed.

Because it is sometimes fun to carry a label for an ailment, I went to the library of knowledge (Google) to find out the name to my phobia. It's called myrmecophobia - the fear of ants.

So, hello, I am Amanda Soo. It's irrational, but I am myrmecophobic.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

1. vivid bursts of colors

A change of room color from deep maroon to baby pink is capable of lightening up the atmosphere. Lime green makes my eldest sister cringe all the time. Every color carries its own set of mood, and sure, some are sad while others are happy, but it's almost impossible to think of any one in an exclusively negative light. The color blue evokes the blues in people? Look at the clear morning sky! Nothing speaks freedom and a hopeful day of outdoor fun more than the blueness of the sky. And if someone tells me red signifies anger, I'm going to respond that it is the color of boldness and passion too.

A burst of colors is an overflowing of feel-good emotions. Nothing brings instantaneous contentment like colors hitting your retina. They are delightful to no end, their effect on us intriguing. I would stare at a color chart for a good quarter of an hour trying to decide whether I like fuchsia or electric purple better, which, at the moment, would be the former - the shade imbued with slightly more red pigments - because it feels more luxurious and at the same time cozy.

I like that the world is not dictated by absolute blacks and whites or the in-between shades of grey, but every cute or awkward color that takes form in the color spectrum are given the free rein of this space too. And if I had to live in a world of only primary red, blue and yellow, life would feel stiff like the Lego pieces I played with as a child - bold in their colors but, really, so limited in what those three shades and the bonus green could create.

Black and white are undeniably classy, and yellow and red lively, but without the likes of turquoise, fuchsia and tangerine existing alongside them, so much depth would have been lost in the beauty of this world.

*  *  *
I posted most recently 40 little causes of contentment. Then I thought it would be a nice change of things to give a background to each of my reason, starting with reason number one. This and all subsequent posts will be labelled Heart's content.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Little causes of contentment

1.vivid bursts of colors 2.globes and maps 3.quiet moments 4.seashells in the damp sand 5.call of seagulls 6.peppermint ice cream with traces of chocolate 7.favorite songs on replay 8.writing in the journal 9.laughter 10.joyride 11.peanut butter and banana 12.paper lanterns in the night 13.stars in the sky 14.art supplies shop 15.family chatter 16.new dress 17.book shop 18.mom's cooking 19.bicycles 20.warm brownies 21.colorful bracelets 22.plants in a home 23.candid photographs 24.encouragement from another 25.walks to nowhere 26.caring voice of a friend 27.stories of kindness of strangers 28.charms 29.an engaging book 30.a DIY project done well 31.morning conversation with God 32.a stroll in the mall - visual candy 33.doodles 34.fluttery butterflies in the stomach 35.lace 36.an impressive live stage performance 37.arts and crafts magazine 38.pretty textiles 39.bright woven bags 40.ride to the airport

contentment no.4

Monday, April 1, 2013


Standing in the coach of a light rail transit (LRT), I realize, in all my days of being in there, I have trusted the vehicle to bring me to my destination without so much of a thought of the risk involved. Every time I step into the vehicle, I have placed my confidence in the ones who engineered the railway, trusted the workers who then built the rail that it would not break apart as I speed past it. I have trusted the coach to not derail, and the passengers beside me to not do something crazy or suicidal that would lead me to my end. I have even trusted the earth to not open up, and swallow us all — train, passengers and the concrete structure that keeps us suspended in midair. It strikes me then, how much trust is involved just to traverse a world.

Not a long time later, I stand in a cafeteria, and think again about the trust involved, this time in getting my meal. Every day, I have trusted the hands that cooked the food — hands that I have never even seen — that they mean me no harm. That they care about cooking a healthy meal for another. That the fork and spoon I eat with have been thoroughly cleaned for my benefit. Even taking a few steps backward, that the farmer who grew the grains on my plate has not used a questionable method of farming to produce his crops.

I admit, there are times when I think about a stranger putting poison in my chocolate brownie  not because of a personal animosity against me but humanity in general, and I only happened to be the unfortunate soul hit by chance. Moments like this don't happen all the time though, which raises the question: how have most things earned my confidence on most days, so that I can eat, take a public transport or walk on the fifth floor of a mall without becoming hysterical about the things that can possibly go wrong in the process?

(All that said, there is one thing that I will be forever wary of, and that is the elevator.)

I've always thought that trust didn't come easily to me. But when I take a closer look at my life, I learn that I have been operating my whole life based on trust. Without even meaning to, I trusted more than I have not. Turns out, to trust is easier than to distrust. Imagine, if you have to ask a hundred questions about the mechanics of the bus and credentials of the driver each time before you would board a bus, you probably can never get much done in a day before you have to repeat the tedious cycle of suspicion all over again on the next.

I beat myself up many times for not having as much trust as I thought I should have in God. Then I realize, just like everything else in life, my trust in God has been more present than absent. There are so many instances in which I have trusted Him without even consciously doing so. From trusting Him to get me through a mammoth task without needing me to fall on my knees in desperate plea, to trusting Him to keep my lungs expanding and collapsing every living minute, so that the gas that keeps me alive never stop running through me. For every event that I lack confidence in, there is trust taken for granted for ten others.

Without even realizing it, I have trusted so much all my life.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Life Without

Wanted you to be my everything,
The dew that trickles into my morning sight,
The warm promise of a restful night,
A kaleidoscope that paints a willing smile on my face.

But I have been forfeited,
From a claim of what was never mine to make,
Red-faced by the swing of a fist,
Half from its force and half from shame.

In replacement is a sight of you taking a step back,
Threatening to walk away,
To another place a whole dimension apart,
Leading me to thoughts of my world in disintegration.

But in the aftermath it turns out whole still,
With me drawing each new breath,
That crosses over to a tomorrow,
Into a new morning alive and well again.

In the wake of a bereavement,
The vigor in me grows more violent,
And I learn that I can live with this loss,
Like I have lived with many others.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A chirpy note

Most sad little stories come with a happy ending. Almost two weeks following the loss of my favorite earring, mine came.

It started off as a morning mundane enough, before I became plagued with a reason to think I had started hallucinating. I was sitting at my work desk flipping through the pages of my spiral notebook whenfor a brief moment, I looked at the spiral and thought I saw my missing earring stuck in between the winding metal. I chuckled at myself as even I couldn't believe I would miss an earring so much to start imagining its presence. That brief moment passed, but the hallucination did not.

Then I realized I wasn’t hallucinating at all. My index finger reached out to touch the earring, almost willing the tiny thing to dissolve into thin air upon skin contact. Nothing of that sort happened. It was legitimately a lost item that got found, although how it came from being dropped in a train to sitting in the center of my notebook can remain a mystery. I looked around the office and found no one near to share my happy occasion with, so I did a little cheer for myself before resuming work. That made a happy start to my day. Celebration, big or small, is still a celebration.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Through a Glass

You are a stained glass that stands before my eyes, causing the vision of my world to become imperfect. For my colors are now distorted, and what was probably white is now tinged a funny red. But something has changed. In that new color that I see, as tainted as it is from what it originally was, I see beauty in a world rendered imperfect by your presence. My values change. Expectations are no longer the same as reality. My once adamant idea of what should make up desire and future has shifted. But maybe that is not so much a bad thing. For as imperfect as the colors that hit my retina have become, my world has been made more beautiful.

You are a stained glass, leaving in my life marks that may never be undone. Marks that, if undone, would make me less of who I’ve become today.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Diamond in the rough

Whenever I'm alone in public, I become really conscious of myself and turn dignified in my actions and ways. With no friends to laugh with me at my lack of grace but only strangers to make a judgment of it, I wouldn't dream of doing anything that would call forth attention to myself.

One of the days of internship has come to an end. After walking in the rain, braving the crowd packed like crushed tuna in the bus and keeping myself from being thrown about by the constantly changing momentum of the jerking bus, I reach KL Sentral and get into an LRT coach. 

As the doors close and the coaches begin to move, I step into my favorite spot to stand in -- a corner by the door. Tucking my hair behind my left ear, my heart groans a beat as the tip of a finger runs by my naked earlobe, where my stud earring should have been. In the same moment, I feel something gets caught in my hair before it makes its way to the floor, so my only consolation is that my earring hasn't dropped a long time ago. It's probably somewhere in the coach with me.

Agitated by the loss of my earring, I scan the ground frantically, unperturbed by the stares of increasing number of strangers as they sense my agitation. My eyes dart about, as if lost of control. I pray a quick prayer that before I reach my designated stop, I will spot the blue and pink beads of the earring, a Christmas gift from my best friend. Under a seat, something catches my attention. I lower my head for closer inspection, realize the object probably belongs to me, and get down on my knees to retrieve it.

I don't care that a man is actually sitting in the seat, obstructing the way. I don't care that people are raising their eye brows at my antics. I don't care that I probably look awfully clumsy as I bend about while also trying to balance two bags on my shoulder. I make a scramble for the tiny thing on the floor. The man moves his feet. The object I am going for belongs to me all right, but it is only the back piece that secures the earring. The front piece is still missing.

More than a couple people notice my discovery. A jolly old man even exclaims "diamond!" as I pick up what was lost. Half victorious (only half, because the stud is still missing), I stand back up. The old man peers at me and asks excitedly, "is it a diamond?"

"No, it's not," I laugh. "It's only my favorite earring I'm looking for." But it may as well have been diamond to me.