mental indigestion

Just a little announcement July 28, 2014

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 3:12 pm
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Just wanted to let you know that I’m working on another book project – this time a children’s book series titled The Adventures of Squirky the Alien. I’ll be posting regularly at this other blog in a bid to promote the book series.

Squirky was inspired by my son, whom we adopted two years ago. Please feel free to drop me a note at if you have any question about the book or adoption!


Holey Shorts May 25, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 11:27 pm

I used to come back home from school with holey shorts. My mother said it was “shame, shame” I had to go through at least 15 shorts per semester and that I perpetually seemed to be showing off bits of panties. The reason for tattered PE shorts: everyday, while waiting for assigned carpool parent to pick us up, my friends and I would take great delight in sliding down this seemingly adventurous cement slope (see above) over and over and over again. It’s funny how the slope seems so tiny now. I’m amazed at how something so insipid as slanted cement to improve drainage could provide endless hours of fun and fond childhood memories. I long for that child-like resourcefulness to experience wonder in any kind of surroundings.


The Natural Order April 29, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 8:26 pm

I woke up early one morning and sat outside the balcony, curled up in a blanket. All of nature’s elements were in place – the waves were crashing, the wind was blowing, the leaves were rustling and the sun was slowly making its way up in the sky. Everything behaving the way as they ought to; the natural order of things.

Shivering, I asked God in my noisy head, so what is this “natural me” I see so little of? There are so many distractions and choices and expectations and conventions and benchmarks and hurts and superficialities and regrets in my life that I no longer know who I am anymore. I began resenting all the times I’ve been told to hold back, behave differently, “give face”, “let things be” in the name of “maintaining the status quo” (the stupidest term ever invented – life never, ever stays the same).

“Why is the human race so full of bullshit? Why can’t people just be?” I ranted internally to Him.

“Why can’t you just be?” came the wise reply.

And then, I fell asleep.


Wet Thoughts April 11, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 5:05 am

Today, I was five years old again with a too big raincoat, splashing puddles with my black boots and feeling tiny between the cedar trees over hundreds of years old. When I looked up towards these grand woody dames, I saw the silver raindrops fall gracefully down like forest fairies daintily descending on my face.

I used to run out in the rain barefoot as a little girl and I loved the feel of the rain dribbling down my fingers, as if the water came from me. I would pretend I was the rain princess, bringing life to the parched lands and making flowers and trees grow again. I would spin around and around, imagining that the faster I spun, the more rain there would be, though of course, I later found out people have little control over what happens in the sky, or even on the ground for that matter.

I believe the rain are like the earth’s tears washing away the tears that humans have inflicted upon each other. I believe the rivers collect rainy tears and human tears together and the sea spins them into dancing waves that weave in and out on the land. Crying and raining happen in cycles, like with everything else in life.


How strange February 20, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 9:58 am

Perhaps it’s because I have more time in my hands, but I do think that I’ve been incredibly (for lack of better word) fortunate these past few weeks.

– When I thought that ends wouldn’t be met, opportunities open up, even within the very things that are causing me to not make ends meet (yes, yes very cryptic).

-When I do silly, random things just for the fun of it, I get unexpected props.

-New music from new blog friend – awesome!

-When I was seeking spiritual direction but kept falling asleep during real-life church services, a friend recommended me to listen to her church’s online sermons and I’ve gained so many insights from them.

– Kind, wise advice from strangers/acquaintances whom I never thought my paths would ever cross so closely with.

And while life still has its poopie stuff  and I still very much am able to bawl on demand, overall my gut feel is that Life Can Be Good.

(I’m wondering if I’ve missed out on recognising lucky breaks in the past because I was too cranky or demanding to see them for what they were.)


Pandora February 7, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 5:49 pm
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In the middle of a spongy, mossy forest high up in the mountains, where your sneaker is stuck deep in the mud and you are losing balance, the only thing you hear is deep, laboured breathing. Your unconditioned lungs are working hard to take in the air – dewy oxygen so pristine that your guide says you will live a long life with just one visit here but all you can think about now is if you are really able to get through the next step up. You look like a greedy child covered in chocolate cake when really it comes from the clumsy meanderings of a city dweller grasping desperately for drippy twines and crackly branches to hold onto for all the times you almost slip on that brown, fudgey ground.

And during these struggles, what is on your mind? How far away your body has deviated from nature – this broken relationship that has made your arms and limbs so unresponsive to soil and rocks and twigs and logs, that makes your ears so suspicious to mating cicadas, to laughing monkeys, to crunchy dead leaves, to the squishy squelches of uncivilised mud. And it’s only after several hours that some kind of adaptation occurs – you become a little more agile jumping from rock to rock, you don’t really care that your designer shoes have become totally encased in mud and you wipe your face with your grubby hands, your sweat mixing with the mould and dew and crushed bits of leaves. During a rest stop, you take a deep breath and suddenly, you feel that you can hear the pulse of this magical forest, so powerful and so alive.

And then of course, it’s at that very moment, you decide to take out your iPhone and snap some photographs.

(This is what happens when you decide to go on a mountain trail with antibiotics and assorted flu drugs.)


A Funny E-mail January 30, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 6:58 pm

Hi Melanie,

I’m XX. I know this seems weird but I recalled seeing you at the silent retreat. I wanted to ask how you were but it was a SILENT retreat. I remember you but I am not too sure how and why I know you. If you have the vaguest idea of what I am talking about, I guess you will reply. If not, please disregard this email and try not to think that every XX you meet is a stalker.



Hitting Hard January 26, 2011

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 12:25 pm

Typical of faulty human behaviour, there are just some things I keep making the same mistakes in e.g. turning left when I’m meant to go right, saying ‘sorry’ unnecessarily and sending out e-mails when I’m in the foulest of moods.

However, when it is a triple whammy of all of the above, something really shakes up inside, and I have to resolutely walk away from it all.

I should have gone the other way just as how my instincts and well-meaning friends were telling me to do.

I should not apologise for things I do not have any control over nor should I let other people put the blame on me for them.

I should give it two hours before sending out any kind of confrontational correspondence.

But what is done is done. And picking up the pieces bit by bit, I am in a position which I’ve never found myself in before. There is only one choice left. No need for me to hee and haw and mull over all the other possibilities.

Well at least for now. Another lesson drummed in: There will always be curveballs.


Emma at Age 6 December 26, 2010

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 10:07 pm

She’s talking just like a teenager now:
“You and your stupid Lamborghini!” (about her father’s latest acquisition)
“Mas! Pas! Ems!” (ending things with an ‘s’ is hip, yo)
“Stop telling me already ok? Hello?!”
“I have baoness and you cannot make me eat one more spoonful of food. I’m telling you!”
“Darren (not Soh) is my husband because he is a boy and he is the only boy who likes me.”

But despite her inherent bossiness and ability to roll her eyes in a most exaggerated fashion, she is a good kid overall.


The Oliver Tree December 25, 2010

Filed under: Inspiration,Life in general,Mopey mops — mel @ 11:40 am

A Christmas photo streamed in from Facebook ends up being a personal symbol for this particular period of my life. This has been the most painful period of my life thus far – the kind of sadness that you know will change the entire DNA of your soul and outlook in life. Pardon the melodramatic overtones; I promise I won’t launch into a self-pitying tirade.  In the meantime, here’s the said image:

Oliver Tree Dec 2010

Ok not the perkiest of pictures but this gloomy, chilly tree brings me cheer and hope nevertheless. This Burr Oak tree is situated at the Katy Trail in Columbia, Missouri, where I spent the happiest time of my life as an exchange student. Now I know the Midwest is usually not a dream destination for many, but this little campus/agricultural town has been my utopia for all the wonderful people I met and its unpretentious, scenic beauty. And this tree has always been the epitome of what I loved about this place.

Memory #1: Winter is almost ending and the Olivers (and that’s why I call it the Oliver tree) invite Vanessa and I over to their house which is along the Katy Trail. Vanessa cooks curry while I cook braised pork (something learned only the night before from Eric, a Malaysian student who had the necessary condiments). After dinner we go for a walk and come across this tree. I touch its trunk and take in a deep breath. “It has an old soul,” I declare mystically but no one is really listening as Vanessa and the Olivers are discussing the strict health regime of going for a run every day. (Incidentally, the above photo is from Dr Richard Oliver, who was the Dean of the Physiotherapy at that time and the kindest, nicest host around who kindly “adopted” me even though I wasn’t a health science student under his charge)

Memory #2: It is the beginning of spring and Vanessa the health nut manages to rouse me into going cycling one weekend. Gyfer (another helpful Malaysian student) insists on accompanying us two ladies. We rent bikes and my bike is too high for me and the the meant-for-male seat really kills my butt. We have to make many rest stops because of my problematic butt and one of the rest stops is back at this fateful tree. Gyfer insists on taking a photo at each rest point (there are a lot of photos of me crouch-squatting on the ground, whining) and he snaps one of me at the tree. “Maybe this one you try posing with your bicycle?” he requests of me politely. Below is the result – I may look quite miserable but it’s really just the physical pain. Overall, I really enjoyed myself that day. Cycling for one whole day – I’d like to be that fit again.

Oliver Tree March 2001

And at a more existential level, I notice that both images of this tree show it bare, without a single leaf. But it’s always been there all these years, this Oliver tree, living and breathing, and even in its botak state, it radiates so much presence and soul. And this is how I’d like to be even during the dark, empty times of my life. Realistically, I know that really, what I’m now is just a shrivelled, withered stalk, but I’m reminded of this verse:

“She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” Proverbs 3:18 (It’s actually talking about wisdom, but isn’t it cool wisdom is interpreted as a feminine entity that all women should try to emulate?)

For now: it is a time to die, a time to kill, a time to break down, a time to weep, a time to mourn, a time to cast away stones, a time to lose, a time to rend…but this is just a season of life after all, and there will also be times ahead to be born, to plant, to laugh, to dance, to heal, to love.

Oliver Tree in Bloom

Blessed Christmas, everyone.