Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Natural born showgirl talks about being 'unambitious' without a goal

Was buying garlic and potatoes earlier today, while recalling my recent conversation with a few of my colleagues, along the line of setting goals for a company, or an art collective. My initial response to the topic of 'having goals' was that I just happen to be the kind who don't operate on setting goals first, and then work towards the goals. 

I stood in front of the broccoli shelf while I worked this out about myself and decide to write – writing, it’s a good way to check if my thinking is through, or sound or not. Now that I am back at my work desk I am going to expand on it. 

So this piece is about how I have been living all my life without long terms goals (at least that's what I think I have been operating all this while), and the long and short of it; and on the joy of doing things for the joy of the act itself without setting an end-result…definite goal.

This is an entry that I would like to invite you to share your thoughts and your stories, opinions, suggestions - let's make conversation. 

Earlier this week I had a casual work meeting with my TSS gang and a potential business partner. One of the topics centred around understanding what we want as an artiste and setting goals. I bluntly confessed to everyone that I don't have goals.  A round of laughter later (mostly at my blunt honesty), my partners Winnie and May both said that they are well aware of my lack of fixed long term goals.  I never hide the fact that I am not a visionary team player. I am grateful for having Winnie in the pack, the one with more foresight and vision, to tempt me and May to leap ahead.  In that aspect, I think I have been playing a supportive, and useful partner, despite my lack of long term vision for the group. 

You see, while in a group – whether at work or leisure travelling with friends - I am willing to follow and give my best in support  for a common group goal.  Whether it is to wake up with my travel mates for a 6am run, or taking my TSS agency to the international stage, I see the goodness in achieving a common goal, I see that as a human trait – pursuing something as a collective.  Being a good team player has been something I work on in the past five years, it has become part of who I am.
The answer I found was that the “goal” was just to dance, and to sing. I have this innate desire and need to move, and sing. So I did it.  Went through it in the most elaborated troubles, of producing, funding, rehearsing, and performing the concert - just to cross the finish line.   Of course, by the end of that two-night concert I was still far from being excellent in dancing while I sing, but I only cared that I did what my heart wanted me to do.  I did what made sense to me (maybe only to me), and was lucky to have a bunch of colleagues and teachers who went along with me on the ride to “just dance, and sing.” 
So what is it that I do?  Or rather, what is it that my heart wants me to do?  To sing, dance, act, read, write, cook, to style a look, to listen to stories, talk to everyone and anyone.  I’m happy to just do all f that, a life packed with doing all of those above, and then I die, happy.

But on my own, I am an entirely different creature.  I’m probably a lot more like an animal who is driven by her ‘animalistic instincts’. 

Before I staged Cinnabar Rouge the cabaret concert – a project that I initiated solely for the purpose of giving myself a stage to sing AND to dance, that was what I told my old friend Nell Ng, whom I asked to direct the show - I asked myself many times over – what is the point of it? Why do I need, and want to be a singer who dances on stages? What did I need to prove? And to whom? I was never going to be dancing professionally in this life time.  So why?

So in a way, I do have a goal, right?   That my goal is to indulge in what makes me tick.  Many thing happen to make me tingle with excitement and desire. The list is long, and my resources are limited, so I have to pick and choose.   Even so, I still choose one too many, this explains why many look to me as the girl who is everywhere, doing ‘everything’. 

In my short 42 years of life,  I realise that whilst carrying out what I love doing, I get the chance to be taught how to live as a better human being. 

Yes, I truly believe that the bigger picture of doing the things we love, is to eventually become a better human being.  For example, while I’m learning to be better at singing, and dancing, I am also learning perseverance, self-care, patience, acquiring an intellectual aptitude, and curiosity about music and arts – all these will make me a better, probably a kinder person towards others. 

And I care about being kinder.  

While writing all these, something hit me – I wonder if my lack of concrete goals and ambition is in fact, my subconscious way of protecting myself from rejection and failures.  You get me? You see, I can never fail in anything that I do if I never set up an end goal, or a measurable benchmark.  

Wow, I have never thought about it this way.  Not until now.  I guess I will have to dig deep.  Wait for my findings later on when I have.

Mark Manson said that the best part of a country or culture is also usually the worst.  I suppose in this case – the best thing about my attitude towards pursuing something I love, is also my worst trait – in that I don’t push myself to greater, and measurable heights in my pursuits of things I love. 

More than 10 years ago at a chance gathering where Joe Sidek had a moment with me, asking the younger me what was, and if I had a goal in 5 years. I said, err, that I’d be still singing and happy that I was still singing. He suggested that I start to visualize what kind of couture gown I’d be wearing in 5 years, what kind of stage I’d be performing on, to whom I’d be singing 5 years. I can’t say that I’ve bought into the concept since then but that was the first instance that a teacher and friend introduced the idea of ‘goal’ to me.

Bringing it back to the present.  I fluctuate between complacency and a basic sense of ‘hungry for more’.  I know this is not a very…organised way to live, work.  Haha, so that’s where my friends, teachers and colleagues come into the picture - to fuse, and to nudge my pure energy of “moving and doing” into actually working towards amazing goals, or achievements.  I give myself plenty of headspace and flexibility to be inspired, into working for something bigger and grander than what I would do on my own. 

If you have read this far, thank you.  And for that, I let you in on something…

I DO have a future goal…two goals in fact.  One, I would like to still make a third album, I even know what color of album cover I want (white); two, I would like to work on a solo comedy-musical show and stage it, before or by the time I turn fifty.

That's all for now.  I hope to hear from you on this topic.

p/s - I was writing so much that I had to reread a few times to crop away some unnecessary bits.  This passage here was one of those I edited out: 
To break it down into something easier to visualise, let me use examples to illustrate my lack of 'ambitions'. I had no goals, no vision of what I want to be when I leave school, when I was a teenager.  In fact, I probably prayed very hard that I don’t end up one day old and destitute, and living on the streets.  Years later when I quit a full time salaried job to be a performer, I hadn’t set any goal to see me through the unknown waters ahead, gee, I did not have any superstars dream, don’t ask me why, I don’t know. (I think it has a lot to do with my subconscious pessimistic mind).  I only made decisions to quit, and to set out to execute a whole bunch of action plans, which included printing new name cards, set up a website with my bio and contacts on it, and network like crazy.  I didn’t set any financial goal, any musical goals, I lived from project to project and frolic my seasons through high spirit of ‘doing what I love’ and I truly love all of it – including all the pains and struggles that came with the love.  



Sunday, July 07, 2019

This 'Mothership' Project: My Showgirl Journal @ 1

Still trying to grasp and find a system about the daily blogging routine.

I go through my day with a constant stream of ideas for topics, and then promptly forget what my ideas were, and proceed to sit here staring at the screen, trying to recall my ideas.


I'll get the hang of it.

Perhaps I should just focus on the core, the 'mothership' project: writing my showgirl journal.  Even though I've written bits and pieces about this showgirl life through the years, there has never been a chronological fashion to it.  I can start somewhere.

Was at an impromptu house gathering late last night, 2 floors above my pad, at R & J's.  R introduced me to Alex, whom he thought would be interested to know more about my solo albums.  He let Alex browsed the thick photobook of Cinnabar Rouge.  Alex actually started reading all the copywriting, or poems, in the album photobook, written by Ruoh Peng.  He asked me about the writing, clearly curious and something in there caught his attention, but I didn't know all of that until another hour into the party.

Somehow his questions prompted to explain to those listening, how the albums came to be.  I told the long story in one breathe, in a condensed summary:

In the past not that long ago (only 21 years ago), I was a Citibank mortgage salesperson for over two years, and then an IT association membership executive for four years, PIKOM to be exact.  When I was reminded that "Nobody gets any younger, go for what makes you tick.", I left PIKOM to be a booker in a modelling agency when I was 28, because fashion is what I love and I thought working on a job with exposure to meeting stylists and designers would open doors for my dream of becoming a stylist.  I left the agency after four months under the encouragement of my partner and best friend, when I started dreaming nightly - of models, my theatre rehearsals, fashion shows, my friends.   Printed new name cards, started a blogspot with my bio, songlist, photos and contact details on it, and started telling everyone that I was for hire to sing.  Bookings came in very slowly, things snowballed and eventually I actually made some money from performing - from all my decent paying gigs of performing at corporate dinners, weddings and parties.  I spent a great chunk of this money from shows to make my first and second albums.

When I finished the story, R gasped and said, "Wow this is the first time I hear you telling your story chronologically."

We then filled in some bits of details of how I met J in Operafest choir, when he was just 13 or 14 years old, and played his mother in a musical; and many years later we end up as neighbours here; and R and I played lovers in another musical, fast forward to 2015.

I don't know yet how I'll map out the entire journey or personal history of my work.  But I'm starting it.

All the best to me :)



Saturday, July 06, 2019

Couch, rain, nap

"It takes a lifetime to prepare for death, yet it takes death to value a life."
Nassim Soleimanpour - [Blank]

(Saw a play at DPAC a few hours ago, the quote above came from that play)

2:30am, I am expected in Puchong at 730am for a hike with a friend.

I was blogging, composing the content of a blog entry yesterday afternoon, on my sofa.  The leftover creaminess in my mouth from the tempeh I ate, mixed with the dreamy rain outside my window, drew me deeper into my much needed daydreaming.

So I stayed put on the sofa, lied down and settle into the most wonderful and abandoned nap.

Of course, now I have totally forgotten about the content of my day-dreaming blogging.

Something about eating, something about eating and having total focus in eating, and eating alone.  No books, no watching Netflix or playing with phone while eating.

Oh well.

Will try again tomorrow :)


Thursday, July 04, 2019

On Being Lonely

A few people has put the idea of a 'showgirl journal' in my head seriously, as in, they seriously think it's a good move for me to consider.

That could eventually be a book, something like that.

To do that, I know that one of the things to do is daily writing.  So, let's try this.  Just keeping a simple daily writing..journal thingy going, and put down the incessant flow of thoughts inside my head, onto this space.  Maybe on real printed pages, one day.  Who knows.

I went on a non-date last night with my handsome neighbour and corporate thespian friend Leon, to Phantom of The Opera.  (but we both said it's a date all right!! But it's still a non-date because Ryonn got a partner orediii) It was the Tun Siti Hasmah gala night, and there was going to a pre-show cocktail for some of us, so we both dressed up, I went to the theatre in Leon's nice fancy car - feeling very grown up and nice.  He introduced me to his office mates and I did nothing to hide my non-corporate-like personality.  We took silly videos and photos together during the cocktail.  The show was good, our seats were good, we had wonderful supper and went home.

Leon texted this little group chat we keep with a couple of our buddies today, "My colleagues said my wife/girlfriend from last night is very interesting and fizzy! LOL."

I had to ask him what fizzy means.  "It's like a bubbly soft drink."  Ah, ok.  I am like a carbonated drink, might make one burps.

Anyway, I have digressed again huh?  This is about loneliness.

The going out last night kept me thinking, again, about my single-hood, that is sometimes, links with loneliness.

Generally, I have very little time and mental space to truly 'appreciate' my loneliness.  Despite it being always there looming in the back of the room.  When the time comes, I would think about it for a few moments and enjoy the melancholy, soak it up...but before I know it, my mind wanders off to the next thing I need to do, and want to do.

Distracted?  Yes you bet.  So it seems - I am lonely but I am too distracted to be bothered by it.

In fact, I don't even complain about it - the loneliness.  Don't get me wrong when I say I am lonely, I don't mean it in the conventional sense where one has no friends and is sad about it.  I mean in the sense that I don't have a romantic partner, or a steady - that kind of 'lonely'.

I definitely enjoy the perks of single-hood, and understand that bits that come with that package - the lonely thing.

Just putting it here that I am sometimes lonely, and things aren't so bad so I end up don't do anything about my being single status.  I usually declare that I mostly just want a lover, not a boyfriend.

What is the difference?  You can either google the terms...or I can try to blog about my own terms one day.

Was on dating app for years, Tinder for one.   Made a lot of new friends, met loads of both interesting and very boring men.  Had numerous thoughts about writing stand-up comedy material about my Tinder encounters; wrote some half-assed lyrics for a song about Tinder; kept a diary of my Tinder dates even.

But I'm still here :) single and still quite pleased with it for now.  And have deleted the app some time ago.

OK, I should stop here for now.  If I were to make this blogging a daily feat, gotta make it feasible but not spending too many minutes on one entry.

Wish me luck.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2019

On new year's day - 2019

It feels like there are just too many things to reflect upon and there's only one new year's eve / new year's day to put them up on FB, or other social media pages - but really, who really cares but us alone?
I wanted to joined the rest of those who shared lists of their 2018 career and personal milestones & achievements on the feed. That would be nice to inflate my constantly-being-put-to-test ego a little; however, something else is gnawing at me - some other half-answered and unanswered questions.
2018 was a trying year for me in the business, and I went through a emotional roller-coaster ride in examining the worth of my work and my personal values. Countless hours 'wasted' on unproductive thoughts, etc - but looking back, I embrace those dark moments as important part of growing up and learning to face my own doubts. 
Anyway, it wasn't just me - many others have felt the waves of repercussions of our changing nation. In the months of bleak businesses, some of us have turned to other things - our families, friends and self-development. Family ties, old and new friendships cemented themselves in our days of worrying about the arrival of next work call. New skills learned (if you forgot that it is quite a challenge to learn new things when you're too busy doing what you already know); and new seeds of creative work sprouted. 
In the good days, I was too busy stepping on the gas peddle and making sure I get to destinations on time, and then - "ka-ching!" Count the money in my bank, and on to the next job. In the quiet days of 2018, I had time to contemplate, and re-evaluate...
...about what does it all mean to me? Really.
What are the most important things to me? After paying bills and putting food on the table - and then what? 
I keep saying that my goals are simple and forward - do good work and get paid, and take the money to travel. Why do I need to travel? What does travelling do for my soul besides satisfying my desire to watch life and being on a foreign mountain every year? 
What does it mean to me to be an artist? How and where do I strike a balance between being an artist to being a performer? 
What is it that I really need, to find the inner peace, and true contentment? Am I the happiest when I know I am the most popular singer around? Or am I the happiest when I have deep connected conversation with a friend? Or is it when I pretend to be a songwriter? 
And that soft, timid voice that nags inside - "How can you contribute more? " 
Questions after questions come at me - questions I thought I have answered ages ago, questions that I thought were simple. I am marching to the new season with a bag full of questions for myself.
If anything - I am proud of 2018 journey as a person who is trying to be kinder; constantly finding ways to understand others, and MYSELF (it's also a sure fire way to reduce frustration and conflicts), and learn to be more loving (not something that comes natural to me). I am still rather thorny, insensitive, coarse and quite impatient at times - but I know I am trying to better.
While I start my new year with a bag of questions in my head, I am utmost grateful for having really good, true friends. Thank you goodness for friends and my community. Despite my affinity for solitude, I know I am well because I balance a community and solitary life nicely. 
To all those who crossed paths with me. All of you who were kind, patient, generous, forgiving, and loving towards me - THANK YOU...I won't name you all, there are too many of you.
For the lesser experiences I've had in 2018, I embrace them as my teachers in becoming a better human being. 
Here's to life...let's face the music and dance. Peace out. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Vintage Tales Series: [3] Manic 80s Jumpsuit

Going to post on FB on Oct 24
Episode 3 [Janet's Vintage Tales, No. 3 - Manic 80s Jumpsuit]
In the spirit of 'weird fashion' from last week's episode, let's have another weird one, maybe weirder one this week (I had a hard time choosing a photo from the pile I have) - this one I'd call it manic.

About the outfit, I have to admit: I really cannot remember where and from who I bought this red cotton jumpsuit from - it was secondhand.
Chong See Ming took this photo Dec 20, 2008 - "Tomboys & Angels" show at Annexe Gallery, Central Market. In fact, I've been looking at all the photos that she and I took at this show and I'm so tempted to post some of them up (I guess I will - keep an eye out on my feed tomorrow or later today).
December of 2008, it was at the wake of the authority's slam down on 'leilani lembut' problem. The gang...Pang Khee Teik did you organise this one? I forgot. Anyway, some artists and activists got together and threw a 'fashion show' at the gallery - paying tribute to humanity's colourful paradox of personalities (blurred lines of genders). Although I was a frequent audience in the theatre but I'd hardly call myself an activist or an artist yet, so you can imagine how flattered I was when I was asked to be part of the show.
Each 'model' were to portray two looks (of what I remember now): one androgynous and one feminine/masculine. The models were asked to catwalk in two personalities - the butch and the femme.
This outfit was my first look - a boy in a pair of pants but he really just wanna be a girl - hence the flowers in the hair and that wild makeup (we had a group of activists backstage with crazy makeup kits). I was slightly bewildered with the makeup given yo me, but it grew on me :) I chose this jumpsuit as my 'male alter ego' because it spelled androgynous to me.
The jumpsuit, 80s carrot-cut, cotton, a no-fuss zip-down the middle on the back. I have worn it back to front, sometimes with a belt too. Can't recall if I got it at a friend's home garage sale (was it your house Sandra Wolf?), was it from Justine Teh's Vintage Socialites?
This outfit still sits in my wardrobe now. Time for a walk in my red suit I hear?