Saturday, April 10, 2004

Playing the piano for Good Friday then today's special Easter Eve memorial services provided the first opportunity for me to attend them for the first time ( was working through the weekend last year, 2 months post-baptism ).

With a new vicar and a recent major revamping of the way things are run at our church, some roles have become magnified, while others the reverse. Mine appears to be the former, but currently, it is ( to my relief ) restricted to hiding behind a grand piano in a corner of the hall. :)

Yesterday's sermon will serve as the appetizer to my viewing ( finally! ) of The Passion of the Christ tomorrow. I fully expect to be duly traumatized by the experience. But as a Christian, it is a chance I can't possibly pass up. I hope to post a review the day after.

This afternoon's memorial service included the reading of a list of names of the deceased, provided by various parishioners. My late maternal grandmother was added to it at my request, and I realized how much I still miss her, this diminutive yet regal lady with the ready smile and laughing eyes, who taught and cooked for me, whose Tiong Bahru flat became a second home as I camped there daily while waiting for my parents to pick me up.
When she fell and broke her hip, even surgery couldn't make her normal again. She became even tinier than before, hunched, afraid to walk without the aid of a pair of strong arms wrapped around her. She whispered of her childhood, and sometimes couldn't recognize me, though always nodding and beaming in mock comprehension when I idenitified myself. Her hair, once regularly dyed dark brown, became its natural snowy white -- a beautiful shade, almost luminous in its hue -- while her limbs became thin and wasted, atrophied from all those years trapped in her wheelchair.

The night she passed on, it was in a chilly hospital room instead of the home she loved. The huge trolley bed grossly oversized for someone so small. The ETT disconnected from the ventilator in the ER and changed to a T-tube after the DNR status was decided. She had clearly stopped breathing, and there was no pulse, but the cardiac monitor continued to show electrical activity late into the night, way beyond anyone's expectations considering the absence of respiration or any form of pharmacological support. Perhaps she wasn't ready to leave this world. Perhaps we needed those 8 hours to grieve and say our goodbyes. I remember chastising myself for feeling so little. The tears wouldn't flow, the numbness was overwhelming. Only when my favourite cousin -- a stoic guy 4 years my senior -- broke down did I then follow suit. Sadness, perhaps mixed with anger and guilt. But mostly, an abysmal sense of loss.

In times like these, the memories always come flooding back en masse. 7 years old, sitting at the kitchen table being tutored in Mandarin, my legs dangling above the floor; 14, studying history in one of the bedrooms while she makes me an afternoon snack -- her famous red bean soup; 19, she takes me to the tailor in Outram for my lab coat measurements, and we spend the whole day together just talking and laughing -- she's proud that I got into medical school and hopes to live long enough to see me graduate; 21, she learns that I'm seeing someone, and jokes about how many great-grandchildren she'd like; 25, I camp out at her place again, but not like the carefree days of old -- she notices the change, but doesn't ask why because she already knows.

"We do not die until God decides that it is our time to pass on," our priest intoned. Grandma was 85 when she left this world. 5 children, 6 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. A fulfilling 40-year career in teaching, followed by a comfortable retirement. A home constantly overflowing with friends, relatives, food and laughter. The old but sturdy kitchen table where we learned, confided, shared our hopes and dreams, and where the whole clan met every Chinese New Year for a feast of Indonesian delicacies. She survived the Japanese Occupation, even delivered her first child in the midst of a raging war and survived the ordeal.

The Lord has been kind indeed.
Happy Easter, everyone. :)

Now, here's something The Rolling Donut's author will most definitely cringe at. :D

Review of The O.C.

I used to be a Beverly Hills 90210 junkie. Small wonder I'd tune in to this new teen drama ( I also used to follow Party of Five and Buffy the Vampire Slayer -- that is, until Angel left the latter series ). Terrible, isn't it? :P

Okay, first impressions of the show are good. Story- and character-wise --forget realism. Street urchin gets arrested, faces jail if he gets into trouble again, then gets kicked out of the house by his mom, and taken in by ( get this ) his rich defense attorney with a heart of gold from upper-class Orange County ( or the O.C. for short ).
It doesn't end there. Urchin gets along swell with the lawyer's son, who's conveniently the same age. He also catches the eye of 2 of the O.C.'s prettiest girls. When lawyer-boy gets bashed up by some school bullies at a party, Urchin jumps in to help out, forging a brotherly bond in the process. He also cooks breakfast for the family the next morning. Etc, etc.

Too good to be true, yes, but I'm not watching this for the plots. I watch only for the actors -- leads Benjamin McKenzie ( Ryan / said urchin ) and Mischa Barton ( Marissa ).

McKenzie was featured in People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive 2003 issue as one of the Simply The Best candidates ( together with Clay Aiken -- I have the issue at home, that's how I know :)). Anyhow, they weren't wrong when they picked him out. Measuring 5 feet 8 inches, he's considered pretty short by conventional Hollywood standards, but makes up for it with charisma. Boyish face offset by bulging biceps. Brooding sexuality mixed in with the occasional little-boy-lost angst ( especially when he returns home to find it emptied and his family gone south ).

The scene that sticks out ( for me ) is when he meets Marissa for the first time while she stands outside her house waiting for her boyfriend to pick her up. He saunters over, then when asked about his background, nonchalantly cocks his head to the left and fixes her with a heavy-lidded gaze.
"I stole a car... crashed it," he drawls, then inches closer in a very deliberate, slow swagger. I saw this once in Matthew McConaughey in A Time To Kill. Always nice to spot it again. :)

Mischa Barton should be a draw for the guys. I don't usually say a female actress is beautiful ( I reserve that term for the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Nicole Kidman and Kate Hudson ), but Barton is unbelievably gorgeous. Kinda like a sweeter Gisele Bundchen, but with fairer skin and rosier cheeks. Her chemistry with McKenzie isn't that palpable at the moment, but this could build up as the series progresses.

And if that has whet your appetite, tune in next Thursday night, after American Idol 3. :)

[ AI3 and Survivor: All-Stars are a little dull this week. Might review them next time if they pick up some slack. ]

To end off:

Nurse -- Doctor, the Invisible Man's in the waiting room.
Doctor -- Tell him I can't see him at the moment.

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