A Lesson In Love

Posted in Letters (Old) by Sandra on September 29, 2007

She came away from the relationship torn, regretting, teary, and hoping against all hope, that he might be like the guys in television programmes or movies, and run after her.

Of course, he didn’t. He kept away from her, expressionless, while his family still continued to contact her through Facebook, leaving little messages around, telling her not to worry bout her Spanish, because at least she is trying.

She had asked him the question impulsively, after a week or so of minimal contact with him. He was too busy, too tired, had too many responsibilities, and couldn’t give her the attention she wanted. Demanded, perhaps, she grudgingly admitted. But she never expected that he would agree. Because she took him for granted.

And he, on his part, said yes. Yes, I want a break-up. Yes, I am sure. Yes, take care too. Yes, yes, yes… and he faded into silence again, enveloped by his life on the other side of the earth. Life went on as normal for him: he still did his chores, still talked and had fun with his friends, still studied for his upcoming examinations, still had the bustle of his family roll around him like a safe cocoon.

She, on the other hand, let herself be crushed by his absence. She cried herself to sleep almost every night, and woke up weary and puffy-eyed. She looked at the emails he sent her, the essay entitled “Why I Love Her”, listened to their songs, replaying his voicemails, and gazed at his pictures. The smiling face on the screen, the cheeky expressions upon that face… and she tried hard to drill it into her, that she and him were no longer. That he was gone. That she had to stand on her own.

He missed her, he said. His voice wavered dangerously when she called him one evening, unexpectedly. He spoke slower, breathed deeper, tried not to fall past the line and end up crying. She heard it, and her voice became unsteady, too. Don’t cry, she told him. If you do, I’ll end up crying too.

Does it help if he laughed instead, he asked, dissolving, thankfully, into chuckles. Not tears. She tried to keep herself from laughing and crying at the same time, and managed to laugh more. A smile spoke through her voice, as she questioned his sanity. People around would laugh at someone crying and laughing at the same time.

He grinned, a triumphant word. “Yessss.. It worked!’

She fell silent, for a while, remembering how he tried to cheer her up in the beginning of their relationship whenever she was down. He would try and make her laugh, anything to make her smile and shoo the dark clouds away. Good times, she mused.

‘I still love you, it’s not that I don’t love you anymore…’ he told her. ‘I just.. don’t want a relationship right now.’

That day, she was happy. Nothing could pull her down, even though it was an early class she had. That day she walked with a spring in her step, anticipating his call every hour – because he said he would call. But the hours passed and he didn’t, and soon she was on her way home. A shadow of discontent crept into view, but she simply smiled at it, hoping against hope.

She learnt that love between two people – the kind of boy-girl-relationship – was fragile. She realized that she had been holding expectations too high of him. She acknowledged that she had been depending on him. She understood that he needed his space, even though they were physically so far apart. She still regretted her impulsive question. She still missed him, and wanted him back. She still thought about him every hour. She still wanted to hear his voice or even to simply read his messages.

Of course, she couldn’t. She hoped, against hope, that he would initiate a conversation. She wished, against reality, that he wouldn’t want to sleep so soon after she typed “Hi”. She prayed, against her desires, that he would find someone better and more loveable than her, that he would be happier without her.

She remembered the good times, the tough times, the bad times, the easy times. The fun times. The games, the trust, the commitment they made. And those made her smile, because she realized that he truly loved her even though she didn’t understand at that time. That he truly wanted the best for her, even though he wasn’t with her. That he deserved so much more than just her.

She learnt that she shouldn’t have rushed things because she wanted to feel closer to him; nor demanded so much of him that she was blind to his needs.

She’s still regretting… but maybe the days will help her ride her now de-supported bicycle again.

(more…)

Between American and British Styles of Writing

Posted in Prose by Sandra on September 27, 2007

Singapore education takes after the British system, including spelling. For us, it is “colours”, “centre”, “licence” and “dialogue” – as compared to the American “colors”, “center”, “license”, and “dialog”.

A week ago, my ESL408 lecturer issued an ultimatum – we should either stick to the American, or the British style, since we are after all now in an American university. She did make leeway for the British style though, because most of us have been brought up under the Singapore educational system. While it might have been easy for some, I was tossed into a dilemma of sorts.

Firstly, I refused to give up spelling “-our” words as “-or” (ie, colours/colors.) The quiet “u” matters a lot to me, seemingly giving an otherwise more distinguished air to words we share with the American system. It hints at French or Latin – the roots of the word, and being a sucker for Romance languages, I find myself firmly clad in these “u”s, unwilling to let the “u”s fall off.

Secondly, I had an issue with the letter “z”, as could be seen in words like “analyse”(UK) or “analyze” (US). I mightily prefer “z”, purely for aesthetic reasons. A curling, seductive “z” seems to make the point so much better than the boringly sensual “s”, though that may be due to my writing style. A quick, short dash through the “z”‘s main stem delights me. It makes me feel more in control of my writing than I probably actually am.

So the situation is as such; while I lean towards the British style, the American “z” keeps pulling me away from the British. This mental debate has been bickering at the back of my head at the oddest moments, so today I finally went to the grand-daddy of free online encyclopedias; si, the much condemned “Wikipedia”. What I found there excited me very much, and almost at once threw me over the fence into the British court.

American spelling accepts only -ize endings in most cases, such as organize, recognize, and realize. British usage accepts both -ize and the more French-looking -ise (organise, recognise, realise). However, the -ize spelling is now rarely used in the UK in the mass media and newspapers, and is hence often incorrectly (emphasis mine) regarded as an Americanism,[29] despite being preferred by some authoritative British sources, including Fowler’s Modern English Usage and the Oxford English Dictionary, which until recently did not list the -ise form of many individual words, even as an alternative. Indeed, it firmly deprecates this usage, stating, “[T]he suffix…, whatever the element to which it is added, is in its origin the Gr[eek] -ιζειν, L[atin] -izāre; and, as the pronunciation is also with z, there is no reason why in English the special French spelling in -iser should be followed, in opposition to that which is at once etymological and phonetic.”[30] Noah Webster rejected -ise for the same reasons.

Yay! “-z” spellings are accepted in British English! However, it seems like it isn’t very popular in mainstream media…

But the OED might be fighting a losing battle. The -ise form is used often[citation needed], but seemingly not always[citation needed] by the British government and is more prevalent in common usage within the UK today; the ratio between -ise and -ize stands at 3:2 in the British National Corpus.[32]

Pfft… :( but then the article goes on to give me some hope!

The OED spelling (which can be indicated by the registered IANA language tag en-GB-oed), and thus -ize, is used in many British-based academic publications, such as Nature, the Biochemical Journal and The Times Literary Supplement. In Australia and New Zealand -ise spellings strongly prevail; the Australian Macquarie Dictionary, among other sources, gives the -ise spelling first. The -ise form is preferred in Australian English at a ratio of about 3:1 according to the Macquarie Dictionary. Conversely, Canadian usage is essentially like American, although -ise is occasionally found in Canada. Worldwide, -ize endings prevail in scientific writing and are commonly used by many international organisations.

I almost wish they wouldn’t lead me on such a rollercoaster ride, but ladies and gentlemen, I have made my choice: UK English is the way to go. Now, time to make sure my MacFling’s (that’ll be his name until I think of a decent one.) global language settings are configured to “British English”…

4:35am here, 4:35pm there.

Posted in Letters (Old) by Sandra on September 27, 2007

It’s raining rather heavily outside. An orange hue cast over the neighbouring blocks lends a haggard look to these gaunt structures. I’m not cold, rather warm, and sleepy. I let myself wonder how you are at the moment. I may have blocked you on MSN, may have deleted your number and your home address from my phone, may have tried to not think about your absence, but I can’t deny that I miss you sorely. Lacking the other half, as people always say. I’ve lost the other half, though, through my own folly.Perhaps I never really expected you to say “Yes, I want a break up” when I asked, that’s why it hurts so bad. In fact, I think that is true – I didn’t expect you to say yes. Perhaps even I took you for granted.

I learnt the other day in my Communications class, that in relationships, people expect a balance between the effort they put in, and the rewards they get. When I reflect upon what has become of us, I think that it is plausible. I feel like I’ve put in a lot: calling you, staying up for you, sending you music, trying to organixe my December holiday in the US such that we might finally meet up, and trying to express my love for you in many ways. You hardly responded, and your calls stopped.

But I always forgot, however, that it was not something you asked for. My effort was not something you wanted. The Effort you wanted was love, and I didn’t know how to show it the way you knew it. I irritated you with my want (need, you said) of attention. I pissed you off when I did certain things. To me, it sounded like I was being a horrid girlfriend, which I probably was… I’m sorry.

And yet again the tiny voice inside speaks up: but he didn’t try very hard either, did he? He was the one who was home nearly 85% of the time. He was the one who didn’t have to go to school physically. He was the one who wanted some time away from you, a break from you, because he couldn’t stand you. He was insensitive, and over the days has grown immune to your tears. He didn’t behave like he cared anymore. In fact, if you didn’t call him or initiate anything with him on your own, he would have happily left you alone!

He said he hurt too, but how can I really believe him if it doesn’t show anywhere? Your actions speak louder than your words; words can be faked. There wasn’t a slightest effort on your end to call me or tell me about your life, your situation, the things that were happening to you. Not even a missed call…

Yet even though I’m upset/unhappy/insert word, I sometimes still smile when I remember things and incidents between us. Those phone calls, those desperate nights I spent in an unknown place with only your voice in my ears to comfort me. That voicemail you sent me to put on my mp3 player because I couldn’t sleep, those days, without your voice soothing me. Those nights and days we spent trying to tweak the Might and Mana website. That one time I got lost in Ronfaure, because I saw something shiney in the distance. Remember? I told you to stop moving because I had opened up my map, and saw an marker which I thought was you, only to finally reach it (it kept moving!) and find no one. I never told you till a few months back, because I was so embarrassed. The times when we would buy Snapple and compare the facts on our caps. You taught me to make that popping sound, by pushing the cap in different ways. You taught me how to cook macaroni and pour the grated cheese over it. You taught me bits of Spanish, which I remember hazily. You taught me what it feels like to be loved by someone so far, yet feel safe and happy just to be that.

In those early months every morning was a joy. To hear your voice and see your face or read your words, those were a simple happiness to me, because I couldn’t touch you. The way you call me a lady, because I know I’m not as gentle or refined as one, brings a smile to my face, even now. I love how you called me tiny, because here in Asia I feel like a giant amongst these petite people I stand amongst, flat-footed and thick legs. You called me beautiful.

It was the first time anyone had said me beautiful.

But I won’t ask you to come back; I can’t. I promised to go away, to fade from your life, and give you your time back.

I promised, so I’m not going to do what I would otherwise foolishly, recklessly, idiotically do.

Just know that I am thankful, for your existence in my life, because you taught me to grow and to love, and how it was like to be loved in return.

Please take care, and stop drinking coke. If you’re ill, water! is the way to go. Please study smart, and if you can go to an American university eventually; the standard is much better, and you are so smart. Please play with Vodka and Valetina; I know that even animals desire to be touched and know that someone loves them. Tell your family that I will miss them, even papa and his beer belly. Please don’t forget me, and if you ever find someone new, someone better, someone who loved you like I did but knew how to express it, someone you could touch and be with, please, don’t tell me.