Archive for March, 2013

…people who make it a point to call you to meet them early in court are rarely ever on time?

…people who are rarely ever on time always kick up a big fuss on the rare occasion that they are on time and you are slightly late?

…people who preface their conversations with “it’s not that I want to be funny with you” are usually trying to pull a fast one over you?

…people who preface their conversations with “we’re professionls, we don’t do this to each other” are usually trying to rob you blind?

…people who tell you they are trying to help you are usually only trying to help themselves?

…people who need you to do them favours are usually quite indignant about it?

…people who tell you that you shouldn’t take things personally usually takes things very personally themselves?


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On my birthday last year, I decided that I will no longer tolerate mediocrity because it would be a poor reflection of me as a person and I am far too old to waste my time getting my knees dirty in that sludgy pond.

I was perplexed and upset over the last three weeks because of a slew of events at work, which are actually still continuing to plague me up to this moment but less so because of certain measures I have taken.

I came into work this morning and for some strange reason, in spite of the fact that I still hurt all over from yoga class on Tuesday evening, in spite of the fact that I have some mother-load of work to do, I felt strangely hopeful and happy.

I have just spent the better part of my morning tying up ends in my files, answering mail, doing all of the little mundane housekeeping things that I actually enjoy doing.

And then it hit me.

I can’t stop mediocrity in other people simply because I can’t help you think or teach you how to think. I can’t teach you how to cut and paste intelligently. I can’t teach you how to take ownership and responsibility for the bad drafts that you continually churn out. I can’t stop you from giving me stupid excuses like “Oh, there are all these typos because my keyboard is not working properly” or “I asked everyone and no one knows how to do it so I don’t as well.” I can’t help you take notes accurately in hearings. I can’t help all of that just as I can’t help that you wear too much cologne and give me a migraine every time you stand next to my table.

But what I can do instead is to choose not to let it get me down, knowing that I can’t and I shouldn’t fix you when your mind is closed to the idea that you need fixing.

So please leave my doorway and come back again when you decide that you actually want to learn the craft with your heart and your mind and care about doing it right, instead of just doing the work blindly, like the lights are on and nobody’s home, like it’s all just business as usual as a game of monopoly.

Just like piano, I can only teach you how to do what I do and how to go on doing what I do if you actually want to learn.

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I played a lot of piano today: started after I woke up, took the kids for their haircut then lunch then returning to the piano, baking a batch of chocolate orange cupcakes before dinner.

I lived backwards, surreally, reading old pieces and going over the bits and bobs of my life when I first set eyes on the particular piece, the clothes I wore, the things I said, the people I was with no more.

Then it started to storm.

I looked out onto my balcony at my dismal bean sprout tray, abandoned due to my self imposed fasting for Lent. The rain poured and poured. My kitchen timer went off. I got up and pulled out the last tray of seven cupcakes from the oven. Seven. One of them sits out of the muffin tray in a metal cup, a completely different shape and size. The one made from leftover batter, like leftover memories, all awkward and awry. I wished I could stuff it all into a cup, bake it, eat it, remove it from existence.

Wouldn’t life be nice if it all fitted nicely into Ikea compartments, stowed neatly away in boxes?

I sighed, recalling how earlier on while I was trying to extricate my muffin moulds from a cupboard,  a bottle of gelatin fell out into my cake batter.

Maybe I’ve just never been very good with real life. Like most musicians, real life is just something that happens between the music, when a piece ends and another begins, when you stop to go to the toilet or get a drink.

Maybe that’s why I’m so good at my job. I hop from one problem to another with great intensity and imagine my real life problems as small as possible to fit into the in-between.

I put away my aged scores and closed my keyboard then went upstairs to check on the kids. Peanut sat on the bed reading to herself while Lion hunched over the lion who teachers him about colours and letters with an electronic roar. He looked up and grinned at me, then tried to drag the lion over by its string like a puppy. I sat down, then got into position and stood on my head. Peanut and Lion clapped and laughed.

When the rain lightened to a drizzle, we headed over to Mother-in-Law’s place for dinner, where I mysteriously,  quietly passed out on the couch from the day’s exertions into a dark and dreamless sleep filled occasionally with the pressure of Lion trying to sit on me. I woke up in time to say goodbye and headed home.

Life will happen in spite of the music, in a very Chekhovian fashion, with all its attendant complications.

There will always be that leftover cupcake or that mishappened cookie at the end of every batch. Eat it, and appreciate it for what it’s worth. Ultimately,  the same amount of effort goes into every success as every fuck-up.

And screw the Ikea boxes. They’re currently lying around on the ground with their covers missing and their contents strewn over the toy chest.

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再见了, 老师。


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