Narcissus' Echo

Thoughts, tears, rants, ruminations, hopes, fears, love(s), and prayers of just another being passing through this wracked sphere...

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Courage, my dear!

Sang for the Sacrament of Confirmation today. 31 Santa Clara students received their confirmation. Presiding was Father Gerdenio "Sonny" Manuel. Formal attire in the school colors was required (red, white, and black) on this special occasion, so I was uncharacteristically well dressed. For a moment, I actually considered wearing Primal Wear's printed spandex cycling jersey,

but decided that I might very well be crucified for it.

I must admit I was a little taken aback, even daunted, when I walked into the church: there were only 3 tenors (including myself) today. All the others were vastly more experienced than me (some are even music majors). Talk about pressure. I was tempted to come up with an excuse (e.g. sudden diarrhea, apartment on fire, appendicitis, etc.) and flee.

But I stayed--and had a great time. Once I realized that it wasn't about me, and that I was simply there to contribute to something infinitely greater, I relaxed--and sang.

And so, the small choir--all 6 of us: 1 soprano, 1 alto, 3 tenors, 1 bass--sang on that sunny, breezy, Californian evening. At times, I would switch to augment the bass. E.g. Veni Sancte Spiritus. As the mass progressed, it got even better: we sang one of my favorites, John D. Baker's "Litany of the Saints" during the "Laying on of Hands" ceremony.

After the mass, a number of people in the congregation actually came up and told us we sang beautifully. What can I say? Our Choral Director works his magic all the time :-)

What a glorious evening!

Thank you, darlings!

300th post!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Meme: 24 random facts / things / habits about myself

Tagged by takchek for a meme:

write a post with 24 weird facts/things/habits about yourself (not in chronological order)

Checking the statue of limitations in multiple countries is a lot of work, dude! OK, here we go...

1.) Theater classes in college aside, apart from one role in secondary school (high school), whenever I am in a play, I'm always cast as a female. I wore size 26 skirts in primary school productions, and size 29 in secondary school plays.

2.) While waiting for NS (military conscription) after junior college in Singapore, I worked in a club, and had to dodge being groped by amorous gays on crowded Saturday nights.

3.) When I ride the CalTrain to San Francisco in spandex tights with my bicycle, I often get phone numbers hastily scrawled on scraps of paper, or business cards, thrust into my hands from men.

4.) I am not offended, neither do I fly into a homicidal rage when 2.) and 3.) happen. I am flattered (But I don't swing that way. Thanks.)

5.) When I was 9, while waiting at the bus stop outside my school, a family of stray dogs walked by. Being mischievous and stupid, I tried to startle them by stomping my foot and to scare them. The adult dogs were undaunted, but one of their puppies shied away from me, keeping her eyes on me and running to the road. She was promptly run over by a car. And then, a minute later, the wheels of a heavy truck crushed her head. A gentleman then crossed the road and dragged the dying animal to the median. He never said a word, but gave me this dark look of anger. The mother dog sat on the pavement, looking at her puppy for a long time. I can never forget that the puppy's tail wagging in the air, long after its head had been crushed. It still haunts me today.

6.) I was extremely rebellious in primary and secondary school. For example, in church, there were many times I had to swallow my gum when the form teacher turned around, spots my chewing and yells, "Ben! Are you chewing gum in church? Open your mouth!" So, I can tell you from experience that if you swallow your gum, you will not die.

7.) Due to 6.), I was caned more times than I can remember in primary and secondary school.

8.) I threw my first Molotov cocktail at the tender age of 11. The neighbors actually came running out.

9.) At the age of 11, having removed the sewer cover, I set my childhood buddy's brother's turd on fire. (You will be surprised what a bored kid can do with 2 liters of petrol (gasoline) and a disposable lighter).

10.) I qualified for the GEP program in Primary 3, but my Dad decided to keep me with the rest of the regular kids so that I will turn out normal. (Guess it didn't work, eh, Dad?)

11.) The first "big book" (more than 1000 pages) I read was Stephen King's IT. I was 9 years old. No thanks to Pennywise the murderous clown, my notion of clowns being happy, friendly creatures was forever destroyed. Later in the novel, when Beverly Marsh takes on all 6 of her friends, I became well acquainted with the word, "orgy." Boy, did the English teacher love me.

12.) I had an awful time learning the Chinese language in school. Some Chinese teachers would tell me I'm dumb, others would accuse me of being a sell out for doing better in English than in Chinese.

13.) Due to 12.), together with being bullied by Chinese-speaking pupils from the Extended (primary school) and Normal (secondary school) streams, I developed a lifelong rancor toward the Chinese language and culture.

14.) I hated English literature in secondary school. (I read every Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Tom Clancy, Jack Higgins, and Stephen King book out in the market though).

15.) I collected a bunch of relatively rare comics in my teens, all slipped between acid-free backing boards and in mylar plastic bags. Some of them: #1 to #67 Sandman, #1 to #48 Punisher, #1 to #80 Hellblazer (which the movie, "Constantine," is based on). All 1st edition, 1st print. Once, when a relative stayed over, he took some of them for "bathroom reading." That was when I first experienced what homicidal rage felt like.

16.) Habit: I like to wake up earlier than my girlfriend and spend the longest time admiring her sleeping so softly in her sleep.

17.) My preference towards the fairer sex is peculiar (and may offend some / many). I am attracted to women who are skinny, lean, even waif-like. Calista Flockhart is hot. Sarah Jessica Parker is pretty hot. Amy Acker is hot. Gwyneth Paltrow is ow la la hot.

That is not to say that I don't like athletes. Fit women who are lean are also hot. Maria Sharapova is hot. Niki Gudex is hot.

I am very intolerant of excess body fat. Jennifer Lopez is fat. Rosie McGowan, Drew Barrymore, and beyond (e.g. Ann Nicole Smith and the like) belong to the category of livestock. Moo! (That's especially for you, Vicky! Muah!)

18.) My weight ranges from 148 - 152 lbs (67 - 69 kg). In the picture of me in the profile, I am carrying 110+ lbs (50+ kg) of gear. There are 2 SCUBA tanks on my back, and one hanging off the left shoulder strap.

19.) In an effort to increase strength with endurance, lately I have been going about my daily activities with ankle weights. It's at 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) on each leg now. Eventually, I hope to increase them to 11 lbs (5 kg) each. I only take them off to shower, bike, swim, or sleep. I do everything else with them: shop, go to the movies, attend mass, hike, drive, etc. I remind myself daily to be sure to first remove them before jumping into a lake or river to rescue a swimmer in distress.

20.) On my 2nd bicycle ride in USA, I was led up a 2800 ft (854 m) mountain by a schoolmate, who only said, "This is an interesting hill." When I returned to Singapore for summer vacation, I led a cycling buddy up a 700m (2296 ft) mountain in Malaysia, telling him, "This is an interesting hill." (Sandbagging is oh, so fun!)

21.) I made my rounds going from one Protestant church to another in my late teens. One of them was a crazy non-denominational church in Katong that exercised incredible control over its congregation. Members were not allowed to watch TV, listen to the radio, go to the movies, or associate with people outside the church. I left when they tried to make me give up my Metallica, White Snake, Iron Maiden, and Depeche Mode collection.

22.) I briefly dated 2 professors.

23.) I earned professional SCUBA certification before I obtained a driver's license.

24.) I have been in a ménage à trois.

*25.) Bonus entry. I do not like to attend weddings. I dislike them to the point of offering any excuse I can cook up. E.g. booking a last-minute liveaboard dive trip to the Catalina Islands so that I can say if I do not show up, I forfeit the US$600 deposit (which is true, by the way). I detest weddings for the same reason an ex-girlfriend sniffed at musicals--there is something unnaturally contrived about them. It's like being in Disneyland on Sept 11th 2001. "Hey, everybody! This is the happiest place on earth! Be happy!" Bah, humbug!

Another reason: with 43% of new marriages ending in divorce, why should I waste my time dressing up, shopping for presents, and wasting an entire day at a ceremony that has a success rate closer to a coin flip than some divinely sanctioned event? (Don't even get me started about diamonds. I have been researching on the diamond trade since 1999. You do not want to engage me on this topic. Trust me.)

That is why I rather attend funerals. At least there's a lower chance that the (late) guest of honor will pull a Lazarus on me and render the occasion meaningless.

No one is going to get tagged with this. Feel free to take the meme if you are sufficiently bored / exhibitionistic / finally accepting responsibility and possible incarceration.